Universal Door Chapter Lecture 7 – helping in the midst of seven difficulties (Part 3)

Lectured by Rev. Heng Sure on May 7, 2021

(Dharma Master Heng Sure opens up playing and singing, Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva)

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva

Guan Yin Bodhisattva

Guan Yin Bodhisattva

Guan Yin Bodhisattva

Guan Yin Bodhisattva

Guan Yin Bodhisattva

Guan Yin Bodhisattva

Guan Yin Bodhisattva

Guan Yin Bodhisattva

Guan Yin Bodhisattva

Guan Yin Bodhisattva

Hey, good morning everybody. Welcome to our Sutra Lecture today. My name is Reverend Heng Sure. It is May the eighth today, here in Queensland; May the seventh if you’re in California and other places. Today we are going to continue our exploration of the Universal Gateway, 普門品 Pǔ mén pǐn, Guan Yin Bodhisattva from the Lotus Sutra. So, let’s get started and we’ll begin today with our Dharma Request. Dharma Request is going to be requested by our very own Chen Yu, our coordinator. So, let’s make three half bows to the Buddha. I’ll ring the bell. Here we go: 

(Dharma Master Heng Sure rings the bell) First bow

(Dharma Master Heng Sure rings the bell) Second bow 

(Dharma Master Heng Sure rings the bell) Third bow 

Okay, I am going to put my palms together and get ready, and we’ll ask Chen Yu to please begin the Dharma Request now.

[Chen Yu]: Amitofo 

 恭     請   大  德   僧    聽,

Gōng qǐng dà  dé  sēng tīng,

 為   此 法 會 及 一 切     眾       生.

wèi  cǐ   fǎ huì jí  yī  qiè zhòng shēng. 

  請     轉     妙   法 輪   教   導  我   們,

qǐng zhuǎn miào fǎ lún jiào dǎo wǒ men, 

如 何  了     生     脫  死 離 苦  得樂,

rú  hé liǎo shēng tuō   sǐ  lí   kǔ dé lè, 

速    證    無    生。

sù zhèng wú shēng.

Will the Sangha with great virtue,

Out of compassion,

For the sake of this assembly

And all living beings,

Please turn the wonderful Dharma-wheel,

To teach us how to leave suffering,

And attain bliss,

And end birth and death and

Quickly realize Non-birth.

[Rev. Heng Sure] Namo Tassa Bhagavato, Arahato, Samma Sambuddhassa

[Chen Yu] Namo Tassa Bhagavato, Arahato, Samma Sambuddhassa

[Rev. Heng Sure] Homage to the Blessed, Noble, and Perfectly Enlightened one

[Chen Yu] Homage to the Blessed, Noble, and Perfectly Enlightened one

[Rev. Heng Sure] 

南  無  薩  怛    他

Na mo Sa Dan Tuo 

蘇   伽   多  耶

Su Qie Duo Ye 

阿 喇 訶 帝

E  La He Di 

 三     藐    三  菩  陀   寫

San Miao San Pu Tuo Xie

[Chen Yu] 

南  無  薩  怛    他

Na mo Sa Dan Tuo 

蘇   伽   多  耶

Su Qie Duo Ye 

阿 喇 訶 帝

E  La He Di 

 三     藐    三  菩  陀   寫

San Miao San Pu Tuo Xie

[Rev. Heng Sure]

          開    經  偈 

          Kāi  jīng jì

  無   上      甚    深    微    妙  法

Wú shàng shèn shēn wéi miào fǎ 

  百  千    萬  劫  難   遭    遇

 bǎi qiān wàn jié nàn  zāo  yù

我   今  見    聞  得  受    持   

Wǒ jīn jiàn wén dé shòu chí 

 願    解   如  來   真    實  義

yuàn jiě   rú   lái  zhēn shí  yì

       Verse for Opening a Sutra

Supreme and wondrous Dharma, subtle and profound,

Rarely is encountered even throughout billions of eons.

But now we see it, hear it and accept it reverently;

May we truly understand the Buddha’s actual meaning

All right. Thank you, Chen Yu. I appreciate the kindness, and inviting me to speak Dharma, to turn the Dharma Wheel and join with everyone today in exploring the Dharma Flower Sutra, the  法華經 Fǎ Huá Jīng, 普門品 Pǔ Mén PǐnUniversal Gateway Chapter.

This is something I really do enjoy doing, my goodness! What can one say? What a treat to have the privilege in a lifetime to be able to find the textual source of Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s lore, her teaching and also to be able to unpack it for others.

Yesterday, we had a treat—Dharma Realm Buddhist University Symposium invited Professor Yu, Professor Yü Chün-fang, to give a talk and explain how Guan Yin Bodhisattva was introduced into Chinese culture. Her main thesis, and the thesis for which one of her many books is the most well known as well as  regarded is how Guan Yin Bodhisattva changes gender—how Guan Yin in India, Avalokiteshvara, Avalokita, was a male and when Guan Yin got to  China, Guan Yin became a female. How did that happen? My goodness! So, fascinating, fascinating stories! Professor Yu is very kind and answered everybody’s questions and so that was wonderful to have a scholar who has devoted her life to investigating Buddhism’s advent in China, and particularly Guan Yin Bodhisattva. So, that was yesterday; that was great. 

And we are at CTTB. We are involved in the 10,000 Buddhas Repentance so our numbers are down a bit, but it’s certainly that’s the path of cultivation, which is [what] we would hope would be an important part of the life of anybody who enjoyed it.

(Dharma Master reads a message on Zoom chat box) Let’s see, the sound is very low. Yeah, I noticed that myself, but let’s try that, maybe that’s a little better. Let me turn it up. There we go. Any better? I hope that’s louder. We’ll see here. Okay, please tell me if that’s loud enough, louder 可以聽到嗎 (Kěyǐ tīngdào ma)?. Better, huh? Okay, good. Thank you for letting me know. The best thing to do is just raise my voice to talk a little louder.

Anyway, we were in the 10,000 Buddhas Repentance so folks are using their time well to join in an online experience bowing to 10,000 Buddhas. So we’re sharing our normal community with the Buddha Hall, the virtual Buddha Hall.

So today, we are still in the section of the Universal Door/Universal Gateway of investigating the dangers—the 七難 Chi Nan (Qīnán) —the seven kinds of dangers that Guan Yin Bodhisattva responds to when requested. Here they are. [Rev. Heng Sure displays sutra text on screen]. We’re going to start right here and then go across to the English okay, everybody? Is that big enough? You want a little bigger? Oh, nice when it’s big.


“If someone facing deadly harm recites Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva’s name, the weapons of the assailants will break apart and he will get away.”

Right, let’s do another.


“Even if the entire three-fold, large, thousand-world system were teeming with Yakshas and Rakshashas bent on vexing people, when the evil demons hear the name of Guan Yin Bodhisattva called out by these men, they will not be able to see them with their wicked eyes, much less do them in.”

And I might mention that the pronouns there are gender neutral. Hear the name of Guan Yin Bodhisattva called out by these women also fine, no different. 

One more.


“If there is a person, whether innocent or guilty, who is locked in stocks or shackled by ropes and chains his (her) fetters will snap and fall away, letting him (her) go free as soon as he (or she) invokes Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva’s name.”

Those are three of the list of seven kinds of harm, danger, vexations, troubles that can come into people’s lives and the key in each one, I’m going to outline it here on my screen:

“recites Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva’s name,” “When the evil demons hear the name of Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva called out” by these people, “as he invokes Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s name.”

That’s the theme running through all three of these hypothetical disasters, life threatening situations whereby somebody could come to grievous bodily harm, even you know, life threatening. The key, the thread holding all the beads together on the string is「稱觀世音菩薩名者 」/ “reciting the name of Guan Yin.”

And yesterday as we listened to Professor Yu talk about the entire corpus of appearances in Buddhist literature and in Chinese culture of Guan Yin, she mentioned that reciting Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s name is the key. She said yesterday, there are 80 Sutras in the 1600 Sutras in the 大藏經 (Dàzàng jīng), the 三藏經 (Sānzàng jīng)/the Tripitaka/the Three Baskets of Buddhist literature, there are 80 Sutras where Guan Yin shows up. 

When I’ve been explaining how widespread Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s appearances are, I came up with like 10. Such obvious ones like the Heart Sutra, 「觀自在菩薩行深般若般羅蜜多時」(Guān zìzài púsà xíng shēn bōrě bān luó mì duō shí) /”When the Avalokiteshvara was practicing the profound prajna,” right, so that’s the Heart Sutra. That’s an obvious one, and then we have Earth Store Bodhisattva [Sutra] has a Chapter devoted to Guan Yin Bodhisattva. Then, we have the Avatamsaka where Guan Yin Bodhisattva shows up along with who? to teach Sudhana/善財童子(Shàn cái tóngzǐ); that’s one of the「善知識 (Shàn zhīshì)」, one of the “good spiritual friends.” So that’s—she said 80! Wow, my goodness!

Of course, we know our Dharani Sutra that Shrfu introduced the Great Compassion Mantra to us, the 陀羅尼經 (Tuó luó ní jīng) so 80 altogether. That’s just amazing! She also pointed out one of the very interesting aspects of Guan Yin Bodhisattva as Guan Yin enters the Chinese culture is Guan Yin pairs with Earth Store with 地藏菩薩 (Dì càng púsà) frequently. 

So, she said that’s unique in the Chinese version of the Buddhadharma 漢傳佛教 (Hàn chuán fó jiào) where Guan Yin and Earth Store Bodhisattva are seen as a team she just mentioned that as one of the instances of Guan Yin, but today here in our section of text this morning, this afternoon for many of you, what we have is the basic foundation, the theme of why the 普門品 (Pǔ mén pǐn), the Universal Door, the Universal Gateway Chapter is so popular. 

The practice has a name, it’s called 尋聲救苦 (Xún shēng jiù kǔ) saving us based on our cries following the sound and relieving from suffering. That’s Guan Yin’s fundamental identity and I might say this is not a Buddhist specific practice. If Guan Yin only saved Buddhists who called her name, she wouldn’t be—her practice—wouldn’t be as popular as widely known throughout Chinese culture. So how interesting! 

What does it say? Here’s our hypothetical: if there’s somebody 臨當被害 (Lín dāng bèi hài) about to be harmed facing deadly harm and you recite 南無觀音菩薩 (Námó guānyīn púsà) the weapons break apart. 

This could also include when faced with non-human danger. I was having a conversation with Alex the other day about Box Jellyfish here in Australia. That’s one of those cliches that Australia has many natural features? There are many features of nature in Australia that are harmful to human life; everything from crocodiles to sharks, but before crocodiles or sharks are a danger to you, you will have to go where they live. Crocodiles don’t live here in the Gold Coast unless you are in the Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary or David Flays Nature Park then you meet crocodiles. Sharks. Well, there are sharks. You can go right off broad beach, right off Burleigh Heads and encounter sharks. Luckily, we have shark nets and we have shark patrols. Now, we have shark drones! One of the most promising protections against shark attacks these days are drones because shark surfers, and swimmers are usually in shallower water right, and sharks show up against the sand on the drone. There’s all these scary videos of swimmers and surfers who are blissfully ignorant of the large, great white shark sniffing around under them, and the drone reveals that the shark is right there. And now, they’re employing this technology in  the lifeguards and all who are fabled heroes along Australian beaches who are glued to their computer screens watching the drones identify sharks from a distance, and then getting on their jet skis and going out and alarming everybody get into the beach because they’re sharks about. 

So here in Australia, we’ve got crocodiles and sharks, but we have many other nasty…Alex, type in the chat box what that other, the blue.. what was it? There’s the box jellyfish, which swim fast and have these long trip…I’m not gonna, I’m not gonna harm tourism in Australia if I tell everybody about all the nasties, but I would think that those in the Universal Door Chapter, the section on the harm that can come to people here in Australia would be very applicable—Sydney trapdoor funnel web spiders and Eastern brown snakes and such. We don’t have bullets flying around in the air that we have in the East Bay, but so that’s one: assailants with fur, and with stingers, and with fangs, and venom, and such.

Further, which I think is fascinating, our Universal Door Chapter says suppose the entire, and this is the 三千大千国土 (Sānqiān dàqiān guótǔ), is of our Buddhist Data Keeper, Jin Yong Shr, who keeps his followers out those decimal points and numbers of zeros. He has identified this as a billion worlds. So if a billion world systems were filled, teeming with Yakshas and Rakshasas who are ghosts and demons. Yakshas are part of the ghost realm. Rakshasas are part of a—ghosts are a natural phenomenon, an in between bodies, Rakshasas are demons who are happy with their bodies and they’re not traveling. Yakshas are on the way. The fluid through the 恶鬼法界 (È guǐ fǎjiè). Rakshasas and demons tend to stay where they are, but in any case, they are bent on vexing people. So what’s fascinating here is, this is like a little view into the spirit world.

And when I’m a boomer and when I grew up, there weren’t such things as video games. About the best we could do were Marvel comics, and superhero types and hybrids like the Green Hornet you know, shape-shifter types, and what else? Batman, of course, and you know Spider-Man and stuff, but they were still within the realm of the senses. When you get to demons and ghosts, for example, Japanese anime and manga, that’s a whole new world for Generation Xers and Generation Z types of millennials who grew up; I guess Dungeons and Dragons too to that generation. Expanded the imagination to include demons and ghosts and beings who were not human and didn’t hope to be humans and were often vexing humans, not always, but often. 

So here is a text that has been among humans for two thousand five hundred years minimum and it opens directly to this spirit realm and says these are nasty beings. 速疾鬼 (Sù jí guǐ) is the translation of Yakshas. We call them Speedy Ghosts; they are fast-moving ghosts. Not always evil and in some cases—in Medicine Buddha—if you look at the Medicine Buddha sutra, there are twelve Yakshas generals with names who are Dharma protectors whose job is there to help the Buddha turn the Dharma wheel. 

So, Yakshas when they meet someone who is absolutely fearless and who is completely good like the Buddha, they 舍邪歸正(Shě xié guī zhèng), they turn back to what is wholesome. So, I think that’s fascinating that Yakshas when they meet virtue are transformed. 

Rakshashas, I don’t know if there is any story, at least I haven’t heard any recently of Rakshashas who were in fact under covered Bodhisattvas, bent on good with wholesome intentions. Rakshashas whom I know who I have heard of are pretty much all dark souls who are out to do harm to humans by eating them, these are spiritual beings who feast on blood and flesh and such on. 

So, anyway, the world of video games and manga and anime have now made Rakshashas and Yakshas and such kind of a whole host of awful, nasty baddies. They have become pretty commonplace, things that kids know about and deal with. 

So here is the sutra saying: “Yes indeed, here they are” and Guan Yin Bodhisattva will hide you, they won’t be able to see, you will get an invisibility cloak like Harry Potter had and you won’t be seen by these baddies. I have a story about that, but we will save that for a minute. 

Then, the last one we read today, which is I think number six of our seven. Yeah, we got one more to go. This one is controversial and the question always comes up right here. 

“若有罪若無罪 (Ruò yǒuzuì ruò wúzuì)”,. If you’re innocent or guilty, you’ve been caught by the police, you’ve been apprehended by the State, you’ve been called in for questioning, “knock knock knock,” come with us down to the station. Uh-oh! So, if that’s the case with you, and it specifies you’re locked in stocks, shackled by ropes and chains that the Sutra gives us all these different kinds, “杻械枷鎖(Chǒu xiè jiāsuǒ)”, different kinds of restraints that in China they knew what they were, in India they knew what they were; we call them handcuffs or shackles. If that’s your situation, you’ve been arrested, you’re behind bars, you are detained by the police, whether innocent or not, if you invoke Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s name, the fetters snap and fall away. 

Alright, so instantly when people hear this for the first time, there’s always someone that says, “excuse me, I have a question. Are you implying that, right, so criminals get a go free pass? Does that happen because of Guan Yin? Is Guan Yin here aiding and abetting criminals?” That’s the question. 

And, of course not, not the case. “Well, what does it mean? That’s what it says, you know. So yeah, that’s what it says. The unjustly detained. Political prisoners, for example, would be able to find justice if they invoke Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s name. 

Now, I’m going to say one thing that helps understand what’s going on here is you actually have to recite, “Namo Guan Shi Yin Pusa, Namo Guan Shi Yin Pusa.” The great leveler in all these stories is, “did you actually recite Guan Yin’s name?” That’s why they say, 平時不燒香,臨時抱佛足 (Píngshí bù shāoxiāng, línshí bàofózú) —ordinarily they don’t bother to light incense, but when times get tough, they grab for the Buddha’s feet. You know that idiom? Usually, they forget, but then, oh, when the fat hits the fan, right, mixing my metaphors, when it counts, ah! they’re suddenly very sincere. Guan Yin Bodhisattva knows that. That’s just human nature. 

So, we cultivators of the Way —people who would spend an hour on a Friday afternoon listening to a lecture like this or early early early Sunday morning or even earlier in China on a Saturday morning—people like us should recite Guan Yin’s name ordinarily if we hope to have the response when the time comes. That’s the non-secret, secret. That’s how it works: if we’re traveling through our day and we’re walking on the way to lunch or we are waiting to get on the subway, you know on the platform? If we are just with our head in the pillow, sleep hasn’t arrived, those are perfect times to connect to Guan Yin to establish our relationship with Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva and hold it close. Namo Guan Shi Yin Pusa. And that’s one of the real benefits of having music with it. I’m going to reach for my banjo again. People who don’t see themselves as speakers of Chinese can switch to Sanskrit. Had to put the melody in there and let the song kinda roll over you there on the pillow. 

(Rev. Heng Sure plays the banjo):

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva (6x)

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva

Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva

Half Chinese half Sanskrit, right? Probably not a good idea to encourage you to sing that when you go to sleep and then sing it because I’m going to put you to sleep. It was the best lecture I’ve ever (imitates snores) really comfortable. Why are you just saying that I fell right asleep, but it works, right? 

Actually, I’ll tell you the truth. Shrfu gave me some advices once. He said, if you have any problems getting to sleep, recite three Great Compassion mantras as you are there ready in your nightshirt ready to go to sleep—three Great Compassion mantras. 

He said that with a twinkle because why? If you get to the end of mantra number three and you’re not asleep, it’s not working for you. I don’t even get through the first one before I’m asleep. But that’s just fine! Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s happy to let us wander into the dreamland with the mantra. 

The point is that if we recite it ordinarily when the time comes, when 即时 (Jíshí), right? When we’re really in trouble, when we need it, it’s there. We don’t forget. Alright, so Bernie and Xing Fei said right, reciting the name also. Recite Guan Yin’s name before sleep works too. Just like the 大悲咒 Dàbēi zhòu. 

So, if a guilty person has sincere recitation, they have the potential to return to good. Yeah, the guy in the tree who called out Namo Buddha as the tiger chewed at the tree bark. Correct. Yeah good. 

So it is that Guan Yin is opening the 普门 (Pǔ mén), the Universal Gateway widely, opening it wide for us. So 若有罪若无罪 (Ruò yǒuzuì ruò wú zuì) whether guilty or not, there are many stories of people who were unjustly charged. Picked up and detained for political reasons or for revenge or just because the person in authority had power issues. I’ve got a story for you just like that. Are you ready? Now people who read Chinese have a much better time with this than those who don’t, but I’m going to take you to the place where I was when I first encountered the Buddhadharma in a bilingual translation of the Sixth Patriarch’s Dharma Jewel Platform Sutra 六祖法宝壇经 Liù zǔ fǎbǎo tán jīng published by Seton Hall University Press.

By the way, I’m gonna put it out there, if anybody has a copy in their library, or can find it online, that is to say, if anybody online sees available through some book collector one of those old editions  of either the 道德经 Dàodé jīng The Book of Lao Tzu or the 孝经 Xiào jīng, The Sutra of Filial Respect or the 六祖法宝壇经 Liù zǔ fǎbǎo tán jīng, Sixth Patriarch Sutra published by Seton Hall University Press, back in the early ‘60s, the late ‘50s, please send me an email. I’d like to know about it. Dr. John Tsu, 祖教授 (Zú jiàoshòu), 祖炳民 (Zú Bǐngmíng), was director or one of the faculty of Seton Hall when those were issued. They were lovely and those were indeed the very texts that opened to Chinese for me, which opened to the Buddha Dharma. 

So people say why did you become a Buddhist? And I said well, “I like Chinese language.” It was those books. They, all of them have a, on the front piece, you open the front cover or the back cover and those binding pages have a very lovely sepia toned picture of a forest in Asia. There’s bamboo. There’s a walkway and rocks you know. 

So I can’t find them. They’ve been around a long time and it’s in somebody who’s reading or studying Chinese or teaching it back in the ‘50s and ‘60s. Those libraries will have a copy. So please send me an email or a text if anybody knows where one is available online because I will collect it. Just as a memento of—I refer to those often and I’m very grateful to Dr. Tsu and Seton Hall University Press for putting out these beautiful bilingual Chinese English phrases with notes of a Daoist, a Buddhist and a Confucian text. The 道德经 (Dàodé jīng), the 孝经 (Xiào jīng) and the 六祖壇经 (Liù zǔ tán jīng). So my goodness, anybody involved in that kind of program, your efforts are bearing fruit. If I’m an apple, I felt I came from that tree. My goodness! 

So here’s our story. Look at the picture. Terrific picture. Guan Yin Bodhisattva here, 白衣观音(Báiyī guānyīn), the White Robe Guan Yin with her willow branch and ambrosia in the vase. Down below, somebody is about to be executed and their sword broke. Look at that. Can’t kill him if your sword breaks. 

Song Dynasty, 永明延壽(Yǒngmíng yánshòu), Dhyana Master before he left home was in a place called 錢塘江 (Qiántáng jiāng), Money Store River, Money Bank River. When he was an official, he was a public servants there in the civil service and he, himself, 永明延壽(Yǒngmíng yánshòu) when he was a layman still, was a very kind-hearted, benevolent natured individual and he was also very generous; he was a benefactor, a donor and one of the things that he did always was encourage people to stop killing and to cherish life. This is getting a picture of who he was. He also cultivated reciting the Buddha’s name especially reciting the name of Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva, the sacred name of Guan Yin Bodhisattva. 

So we get a sense of who he was really good-hearted guy, didn’t kill, told people to cherish life, he himself was a benefactor, a generous cultivated Buddhist practices particularly devoted to Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s name. 

So on one occasion, he was betrayed; there was a name for that, slander? He was falsely accused of being a greedy official who the accusation said he had stolen silver; in other words, he put public money in his own pocket, but it was a slanderous, harmful charge. In fact, he hadn’t done such a thing but he was accused of doing that. 

The officials in charge, in their confusion, sentenced him to death on the spot. After the sentence was levied, after he was indicted, he was handed over to the executioner who was the official in charge of carrying out the execution whose name was 许自新(Xǔ Zìxīn).

Mr. Xu, “Self-renewal”, Xu was his name.  So Mr. Xu knew that this new fellow who had been brought over to him in handcuffs was in fact, a layman, a Buddhist layman who cultivated Buddhist practices. Moreover, he had a suspicion that this was a false charge. That it was fake news. It was misinformation. And even so that he was convinced that this person was not guilty, still he was not the decision maker. He only carried out his orders. So, there was nothing he could do to save him. 

So, the Dhyana Master, before he was left home, this man, because he sincerely believed in the Buddha dharma, he knew that cause and effect is never off by even the slightest bit. And, he also knew that everything in the world is impermanent. Nothing lasts forever.  So, he had long ago given up any concern for massing blessings or fearing harm. All he did instead of worrying about the past or the future, he simply with a single-mind recited the name of Guan Shi Yin Pusa. And, didn’t even have a thought for fame or riches or losing any of those. All he did was Namo Guan Shi Yin Pusa. 

So, the time came for his execution. The executioner raised up his sword. Apparently, they were chopping heads at this time. Raised up his executioner’s blade and aimed right at his neck where the sword was going to remove his head and a voice shouted out, “Stop!” A commanding voice said, “Stop!” and the sword in his hand broke into three pieces.  Now, the Chief Warden, 许自新 (Xǔ Zìxīn) who was carrying overseeing the execution. When he himself, and then the executioner, the man who was carrying out the deed, and everybody in the audience or whoever was there saw what had just happened, they were astonished. Shocked. They stopped the execution. They put a halt to the head chopping that was about to happen.  

许自新 (Xǔ Zìxīn), the Chief Warden, took the events of the day and reported them up. Took them up the chain of command and said, “we just had a miracle happened down here on the killing floor.” And he explained that the person who was about to be executed was in fact a good hearted Buddhist layman who would ordinarily never ever think about enriching himself because of greed and embezzling money from the government. Undoubtedly, it was the case that somebody was simply trying to hurt him. That he was being falsely, unjustly accused of these crimes. And that’s why the Bodhisattva intervened and protected him. 

Once the emperor or whoever was in charge at the time, this was the Song dynasty, so either the local or federal authorities found out about this.  They forgave his offense and returned him to his original office, so he was completely exonerated from the crime and pardoned, that’s the word I was looking for, he was pardoned. When this was over, Chan Master 永明延壽(Yǒngmíng yánshòu) understood that the changes of causes and conditions in the world, blessings, and catastrophes are certainly impermanent.  They’re very fluid. So, seeking in this world for name, and profit is futile. With that realization, of course, he came within one thought. Vindicated. He became one thought of losing his head. Right at that point, he let affairs of the world go, he left home, cultivated the way and became an exemplary Sangha member famed throughout his generation.

The key? He recited Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s name with a single-mind. How about that? So there we go. That’s a case. Now, that’s Song Dynasty, right? That’s the 12th Century, but still we remember it today and it’s one of those stories and you think, is that possible? Yeah. Definitely. Guan Yin Bodhisattva helped just like that if we ordinarily recite her name and we remember. We don’t forget at the time of disaster to recite. 

Alright. Vindicated. Yeah, oh boy oh boy. 

At this time, I’m going to take us back to my thirteen year old self in a small branch library in Toledo, Ohio, someone who had just discovered Chinese language as an elective in high school. Rare, unusual to have Chinese available, but it lit up my life—in my mind—was so powerful that it propelled me into—put me on the road that led to who I am now, the Buddhist picture. 

So, what I’m talking about is translation. Translation because Dr. Tsu and others at Seton Hall actually have government money for translation and then, not only did I receive fruits of their work by reading the books they translated, I later went to summer school in Chinese at Middlebury having received a National defense title. What was it back then? Title II, Title IV grant to go to summer school administered by Dr. John Tsu, who was an advisor to several Presidents in the Department of Education administering money to students like me who otherwise would never have been able to go to a summer language program. 

So my goodness! How grateful! 飲水思源 (Yǐnshuǐ shí yuán), when you drink the water, you remember the source. So, gratitude for the hand given up to me and the key was translation. Dr. Tsu who used to say things like, “Dhamma Shi and Dhamma Lai, Dhamma Chau followed the teacher Hsuan Hua.” Yeah, he spoke like that. 

Here is on the screen, can you see? Dharma Realm Buddhist University offers a certificate in Buddhist translation. And had I seen this back then, I would’ve wanted to make my way to California. Post haste. In fact, I did. I went to UC Berkeley with that in mind. I just put that into the chat box if anybody wants to click on it. 

Look at DRBU. There are programs for degrees—graduate programs, undergraduate programs and a certificate in Buddhist translation. Here’s the program description. Here’s somebody giving a guest lecture. Here are the programs and outcomes. Here’s some students who were there and professors. Campus life and requirements. Here’s the course descriptions. What you study there, what it’s like. Reading seminar. Translation workshops. Here’s the faculty and staff. Guest lectures and I noticed my name isn’t there although the picture will tell you that I was the guest lecturer. Interesting. Special lectures, no, but tremendous, tremendous programs at Dharma Realm Buddhist University and the resources in the library and such. So just to say, my goodness. If I have had this available to me back then although I don’t regret where I did go, I was delighted to be at UC Berkeley, but this is a rare jewel for anyone who is feels like perhaps they could also open a door, a universal door, a gateway for someone like me who is now looking for a way to find the road back to their own nature, so interesting, and to then open it back up in a variety of languages for others, then this is maybe a program that you might investigate; Certificate in Buddhist Translation, Dharma Realm Buddhist University. 

Just saying, because this is quite wonderful that if you don’t talk about it, people won’t know about it. So do investigate, click on that link and take a look.

Already, we have one more disaster next week. There’s a very large turkey right outside my window, hello! 

We have one more difficulty to investigate. We’re bringing you back face to face with all these difficulties after every week. So that’s next week and then what comes, what follows after that is the Three Poisons that Guan Yin Bodhisattva protects against and stories about those—greed, anger, delusion. Following that, we have Guan Yin Bodhisattva bestowing, granting of two wishes—a wish for a boy child, a wish for a girl child. So lots of coming up ahead. 

We’re going really slowly, but these stories are so good, and they’re hidden. For example, if somebody said well what would I translate, we need a good English book of Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s responses. Professor Yu in her talk yesterday, mentioned how the  rich literature of people who just kept her ears open and collected stories of Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s responses, how she appears on every side so there it is.

Alright, let’s transfer the merit with Medicine Buddha’s Mantra.

In India, the situation of COVID in India is blood chilling. There is tremendous suffering in India currently. So if we can recite this mantra, there is COVID suffering in every country, but India’s particularly hard hit at the moment. So we can send out this goodness wherever you would like it to go.

Alright, so let’s recite it sincerely and transfer the merit. Here we go.

Om namo bhagavate bhaisajyaguru

Vaidurayaprabharajaya tathagataya

Arhate samyaksambuddhaya tadyatha: om

Bhaisajye bhaisajye bhaisajya samudgate svaha om


Have a week full of blessings, peace of mind, satisfaction and joy.

See you all next week. Thanks for joining. Amituofo. Namo Guan Shi Yin Pusa.

Contributors of this transcribing this lecture:

Vera Cristofani, L. Lau, Vera Cristofani, Wenbo Yin, Aurora Yu, Yan Ming, Peggy Yeh, Susan Chai, Bach_Nguyen, Hong Anh Nguyen, Annie Tran

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