(Reported from Los Angeles)Expounding the Absolute Truth Through the Heart Sutrais truly a supreme holy scripture. On March 7, 2014 CE, a dharma assembly of empowerment with this treasure book was held for the first time at the Holy Manifestation Temple in the United States of America. The treasure bookExpounding the Absolute Truth Through the Heart Sutra, the six great dharmas, holy mantras, and letters of petition to be chanted and practiced by the seven types of cultivators, and dharma water and willow branches were presented to the dharma rostrum for worshipping. Forty six (46) pieces of first-publishing stamping seals to be empowered by the dharma water were placed at the front.
Dharma King Gar Tongstan Ciren Gyatso escorted the purple-colored brass dharma bowl that he had beseeched in person from H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III to the Holy Manifestation…
Many years ago, a disciple approached Master Yi Yun Gao (H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III) seeking guidance on how to apply Buddhist wisdom to navigate worldly affairs. In response, Master Yi offered some insightful advice, which was later compiled into a book entitled “Selected Philosophical Sayings About Worldly Matters”. The following are translations of excerpts from the book.
What makes the sun the greatest thing man has ever known? It is admired for providing light and warmth for all the beings under it. A truly great person is one who is willing to sacrifice his own benefit for the well-being of others.
A city does not need all the food a province produces, but that much food is far from enough to feed the whole country; it needs all the food the country can produce. The strength of an individual is nothing compared with collective strength.
The respect a person enjoys comes from his devotion to the well-being of other people. A swimming pool is admired in summer because it provides relief from the heat.
A person is established in character only when he truly knows himself.Why? It is difficult for a person to be aware of his own flaws, just as he cannot see his own back, though it is in plain sight ofother people.It is quite natural for a person to hide his own flaws, but overdoing it will alienate the person from those around him.When the person realizes this and feels ashamed, he turns to seek knowledge and adhere to moral integrity so as to establish his own character and win the respect and support of other people.
Deliberation is needed before one makes a move, but no conclusion is to be drawn from deliberation alone. It has to be tested in action. Suggested moves are not to be adopted in haste, nor are they to be rejected out of hand; they are not to be dismissed even when tests have proved them worthless, for in this case an inquiry into their legitimacy has to be made. When a rainbow is blocked from view by clouds, it does not mean that there is no rainbow out there.
What to do to beat your equal in battle? Attack him where he is most vulnerable with concentrated force and victory will be yours. A piece of wood with a sharp end can break another piece of wood that is just as hard as the wood you use to attack.
Intellectual and material resources work in opposite ways. Intellectual resources are limitless; the more they are tapped, the broader they grow in scope. Impermanent in nature and limited in quantity, material resources last but a short time, and the more they are consumed the sooner they are exhausted. The truth is that the former is non-quantifiable and thus infinite and everlasting while the latter is quantifiable and therefore diminishing and exhaustible.
The meaning of Buddhism is to liberate us from the limited perspective given by natural selection, and to observe and experience the world from a higher level.
Buddhism is a complex topic that has been the subject of debate among scholars and practitioners for centuries. Some see it as a religion, complete with supernatural deities and reincarnation, while others view it as a secular philosophy of life or a therapeutic practice. In his book “Why Buddhism Is True,” Robert Wright offers a nuanced perspective on Buddhism that combines elements of these different approaches.
At the heart of Buddhism is the idea that the reason we suffer, and cause suffering for others, is that we don’t see the world clearly. We are deluded by our own emotions and desires, which evolved as survival responses to our environments but may no longer make sense in modern society. By practicing mindful meditation, we can learn to see the world more clearly and gain a deep and morally valid happiness.
Wright draws on science, especially evolutionary psychology, cognitive science, and neuroscience, to support this perspective on Buddhism. He argues that the direct experiences gained through contemplative practice can weaken the hold of our once-needed delusions, making us less likely to wreak havoc on ourselves and the world around us.
One of the key strengths of Wright’s approach is its nonsectarian nature. He does not argue that people need to become Buddhists to practice its truths, and he acknowledges the value of other spiritual and philosophical traditions. Instead, he focuses on the practical benefits of mindful meditation and contemplative practice, which can be applied to any belief system or way of life.
Importantly, Wright emphasizes that simply reading about Buddhist insights into human beings is not enough. To truly benefit from the practice, one must commit to a regular practice and be willing to confront the delusions within themselves. This is why it is called practice – it takes time, effort, and dedication to see results.
Overall, Wright’s blend of Western Buddhism offers a compelling perspective on Buddhism that is rooted in science, applicable to everyday life, and inclusive of other belief systems. While it may not be the definitive answer to the question of what Buddhism really is, it is certainly a valuable contribution to the ongoing conversation about this ancient and fascinating tradition.
Nestled in the central-eastern region of China lies the Zhangjiajie National Park, a sprawling park that is part of the Wulingyuan Scenic Area, featuring several protected areas that boast breathtaking natural wonders. The park, covering an area of 18.59 square miles (48.15 sq km), has been recognized as a GANP (Global Geoparks Network) Ambassador Park, and it is no surprise why it has earned such an honor. The park is home to the Zhangjiajie National Forest Park, which served as the inspiration for the film Avatar, making it a must-see destination for tourists and nature lovers alike.
One of the most remarkable features of the park is its dense forests, deep ravines, deep canyons, unusual peaks, caves, and pillar-like rock formations that are scattered throughout the area. These pillar rock formations, which are made of quartz-sandstone and formed by physical erosion caused by the abundant rains, are the park’s most renowned attraction. They are not typical limestone-eroded pillars and are unique to the Zhangjiajie National Park.
The mountainous terrain, the lush forests, and the rolling clouds combine to create breathtaking scenery that inspires various forms of artwork, from literature to paintings, and even films. The landscapes created by the mountains and the pillar-like rock formations are the epitome of Chinese landscapes.
Visitors to the park have the opportunity to experience the splendor of the national park through various means, including hiking, biking, and taking a cable car or elevator. Two record-holding features in the park that help visitors experience the splendor of the national park are the Bailong Elevator and the Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge.
The Bailong Elevator, affectionately known as the “hundred dragons sky lift,” is the world’s tallest outdoor lift, and it carries around 50 people at a time up 1,070 feet (326 m) in less than two minutes. From the top, visitors can enjoy stunning views of the surrounding mountains and forests.
The Zhangjiajie Grand Canyon Glass Bridge is the longest and highest pedestrian glass bridge in the world, stretching across 1,410 feet (430 m) at a height of 980 feet (300 m). Walking across the bridge, visitors can experience the thrill of walking on glass while enjoying panoramic views of the canyon and the mountains beyond.
The five most spectacular sights are the unusual peaks, deep canyons, beautiful waters, thick forests, and mysterious caves.
The scenery of Zhangjiajie National Forest Park
The peculiar peaks refer to the 3,000 or more mountain peaks made of quartz sandstones. The three representative peaks are Camel Peak, Drunk Stone Peak, and Five Finger Peak, which are elegant and magnificent.
The deep canyons refer to 32 canyons, each more than 2,000 meters in length. The most famous ones are Jinxi Canyon, Shentang Canyon, and 10-Li Gallery Canyon.
The beautiful water refers to the more than 800 waterscapes in the scenic area, including streams, springs, lakes, pools, and waterfalls.
Caves of different shapes can be found here. The most outstanding is Yellow Dragon Cave, which contains beautiful stalactites.
The rural landscapes also attract a lot of visitors. The local farmers are hospitable and you may visit their homes.
Zhangjiajie is picturesque to visit at any time of the year, but April to October is recommended, as winters are cold and the tourist areas are less accessible. But when is it best to go? It depends on the experience you’re looking for.
For weather, September and October are the best times to go, when the weather is clear and comfortable.
The national park is busy year-round except for winter from December to February. The peak season is from May to October.
The short period from early-November to mid-November is considered to be the perfect time with good weather and without heavy crowds.
Yuanjiajie (‘Yuan Family Territory’ 袁家界) contains “Avatar Hallelujah Mountain“. It is the most popular sight in Zhangjiajie. Yuanjiajie is a butte (steep-sided platform mountain), surrounded by higher peaks, grotesque rock pillars, and deep valleys. The highlights of Yuanjiajie include the First Bridge under Heaven, Avatar Hallelujah Mountain, and ‘Lost Souls Platform’.
The easiest way to get up to Yuanjiajie is by the famous Hundred Dragon Elevator (Bailong Elevator). But we don’t recommend it (unless you arrive before 7 am or descend before 4 pm) due to typical 2-hour lines for the 2-minute ride. A 1–1½-hour hike is a better way if you are fit.
Tianzi Mountain (‘Heaven Son Mountain’ or ‘Emperor Mountain’ 天子山Tianzishan) offers the best chance of photographing a sea of clouds, mainly during spring or early autumn.
Don’t miss the cable car up to this area. The 30-minute ride will take you through the towering formations and give you the opportunity to take great fly-by photos.
If your time permits, you can visit Ten-Mile Gallery where you can take a monorail train. After the train, you can hike up to Tianzi Mountain.
Gold Whip Stream (Jinbian Xi 金鞭溪) is a brook at the foot of the towering mountains. It is about 7½ km (4½ miles) long, about two hours’ walk.
It is an easy and relaxing walk along the stream. It gets quieter as you walk farther from the shuttle bus stop.
The 400-meter-high cliff by Gold Whip Stream is spectacular, especially at sunset. One thing to watch out for is the wild monkeys along the stream.
Zhangjiajie National Park is an extraordinary destination that should be on every nature lover’s bucket list. It’s a place where visitors can connect with nature, experience the thrill of adventure, and marvel at the beauty of the world around them. Whether you’re a seasoned traveler or a first-time visitor to China, Zhangjiajie National Park is a must-see destination that will leave you breathless and in awe of the natural wonders of our world.
ZHANGJIAJIE China most Amazing National Forest Park (Avatar floating mountains). Best by drone
Buddhist Tales for Young and Old, volume 1, Prince Goodspeaker, Stories 1-50
Once upon a time, King Brahmadatta was ruling in Benares, in northern India. The Enlightenment Being was born as his son the prince. Being quite intelligent, he completed his entire education by the age of sixteen. So, at this early age, his father made him second in command.
In those days, most people in Benares worshipped gods. They were very superstitious. They thought gods caused things to happen to them, rather than being results of their own actions. So they would pray to these gods and ask special favours. They would ask for a lucky marriage, or the birth of a child or riches or fame.
They would promise the gods that, if their prayers were answered, they would pay them by making offerings to them. In addition to flowers and perfumes, they imagined the gods desired the sacrifice of animals. So, when they thought the gods had helped them, they killed many animals — goats, lambs, chickens, pigs and others.
The prince saw all this and thought, “These helpless animals are also subjects of the king, so I must protect them. The people commit these unwholesome acts due to ignorance and superstition. This cannot be true religion. For true religion offers life as it really is, not killing. True religion offers peace of mind, not cruelty.
“I fear these people believe in their superstitions too strongly to give them up. This is very sad. But perhaps their beliefs can at least be put to good use. Some day I will become king. So I must begin to make a plan to let their superstitions help them. If they must offer sacrifices, let them kill their own greed and hatred, instead of these helpless animals! Then the whole kingdom will benefit.”
So the prince devised a clever long term plan. Every so often, he rode in his grand chariot to a popular banyan tree just outside the city. This was a huge tree, where the people prayed and made offerings to a god they thought lived there. The prince came down from his chariot and made the same offerings as the others — incense, flowers, perfumes and water — but not animal sacrifices.
In this way he made a great show, and the news spread about his offerings. Pretty soon, all the people thought he was a true believer in the great god of the banyan tree.
In due time, King Brahmadatta died and his son became king. He ruled as a righteous king, and the people benefited. So all his subjects came to trust and respect him as a just and honourable king.
Then one day, he decided it was the right time to carry out the rest of his plan. So he called all the leading citizens of Benares to the royal assembly hall. He asked them, “Worthy ministers and loyal subjects, do you know how I was able to make sure that I would become king?” No one could answer.
He said, “Do you remember that I often gave wonderful sweet offerings to the great god of the banyan tree?” “Yes, our lord,” they said.
The king continued, “At each of those times, I made a promise to the powerful god of the tree. I prayed, ‘Oh mighty one, if you make me King of Benares, I will offer a special sacrifice to you, far greater than flowers and perfumes.’
“Since I am now the king, you all can see for yourselves that the god has answered my prayers. So now I must keep my promise and offer the special sacrifice.”
All those in the assembly hall agreed. They said, “We must prepare this sacrifice at once. What animals do you wish to kill?”
The king said, “My dear subjects, I am glad you are so willing to cooperate. I promised the great god of the banyan tree that I would sacrifice anyone who fails to practice the Five Training Steps. That is, anyone who destroys life, takes what is not given, does wrong in sexual ways, speaks falsely, or loses his mind from alcohol. I promised that, if any do these things, I will offer their guts, and their flesh and blood on the great god’s altar!”
Being so superstitious, all those in the hall agreed that this must be done, or the god would surely punish the king and the kingdom.
The king thought, “Ah, such is the power of superstition that these people have lost all common sense! They cannot see that, since the first training step is to give up killing, if I sacrificed one of my subjects, I would be next on the altar! And such is the power of superstition that I could make such a promise, and never have to carry it out!”
So, with full confidence in the power of superstition, the king said to the leading citizens, “Go into all the kingdom and announce the promise I made to the god. Then proclaim that the first one-thousand who break any of the training steps will have the honour of being sacrificed, to keep the king’s promise.”
Lo and behold, the people of Benares became famous for carefully practising the Five Training Steps. And the good king, who knew his subjects so well, sacrificed no one.
The moral is: Sacrifice your own wrong doing, not some helpless animal.
50. The Prince Who Had a Plan [The Power of Superstition]
In September 2016, I had the good fortune to attend the Dharma Assembly of Empowerment by Kuan Shi Yin Bodhisattva’s Great Compassion held at Hua Zang Si and received very magnificent benefits. I would like to take this opportunity to share my experience and feelings on that day with my fellow cultivators.
At the beginning of the dharma assembly, the presiding master told us to chant the mantra first. The rhythm of chanting was rather slow and the sound was very wonderful and beautiful. My feeling was completely different from my experience of the chanting I normally did.
After chanting for a short while, without knowing any reason, my father, my husband, and my two children suddenly appeared in my mind. The appearance of my father was especially clear. Sadness rose in me and tears streamed down through my face. I thought that they had not taken refuge in Buddhism and did not have the affinity to learn the true dharma of the Tathagata. That was the reason that I could not bear the sad feeling.
I stopped weeping and continue to chant. At that time, my grandparents from both my mother’s side, who have passed away and my father’s side as well as some other family members and relatives all appeared before my eyes. Though the view just flashed by me momentarily, I felt that I saw each of them clearly. I thought about the fact that some of them had not taken refuge while some others, though had taken refuge, were still not diligently making a good effort to learn and practice Buddha-dharma. Thinking that they would surely be in very miserable and lonely situations in the future, I could not suppress my sad mood and wept again.
Then I stopped weeping and continued to chant. Next, the faces of my father, husband, and children emerged before my eyes again. Every time I saw them, my heart was painfully pulled. I could not keep myself from weeping.
I once again stopped weeping and joined the chanting again. At this time, my ears clearly heard the voices of chanting the mantra from the crowd. However, my heart felt that I heard a voice of shouting for rescue. It sounded like a desperate yelling for help from someone who was completely surrounded by a situation of despair and horror. I had a very shocking feeling at the time. Clearly, this is the call for help from living beings, begging Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to rescue them! We are sincerely beseeching Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to save us and cross us over, to lead us to leave the abyss of pain and suffering in samsara forever! At this time, the sadness and bitterness in my heart were beyond description by words. Thus, I cried again with my face covered by tears.
After chanting the mantra, the dharma master announced that the dharma assembly would formally begin. I kept my body in a fixed posture and closed my eyes. I did my best to stay calm.
Very soon, the sound of patting came from behind. Also, people on my right side generated different kinds of sound. Someone before me was crying and fell to the ground. I sensed that she later moved to lie next to my feet (not sure whether she was actually lying down or not) and touched me a few times. I tried not to think about that. Shortly after that, she moved to behind me and started to pat the rear of my left foot and then my right foot. My right foot was hit with more power and more frequently. I dared not move myself at all and tried my best to keep my mind calm. However, I was still somewhat at a loss since I did not know what she might do to me next. When the patting stopped, I felt that she was still behind me. After a while, my right foot was again patted a few times. After that, she seemed to have left me. My eyes were always closed during this period. I dared not open my eyes.
My two arms felt more and more tired. I put my arms down twice and raised them again. After putting down my arms the last time, I felt that my neck began to rotate very slowly from right to left. After rotating two rounds, it went the opposite direction. At that time, I could not be sure whether this was an empowerment from Kuan Shi Yin Bodhisattva or a response made by myself due to being eager to receive empowerment.
Next, my both shoulders began to turn from the front to the back.
After that, I heard singing. I could not hear the words of singing clearly. At this time, my shoulders continued turning and the speed seemed to be faster.
Finally, I could hear clearly that the song was the Six Character Great Bright Mantra and “Namo Kuan Shi Yin Bodhisattva.” I first followed the singing with humming and then joined with my open voice. At this time, the movement of my two hands became bigger. My hands were swinging back and forth and left and right, as if doing a stretching exercise. However, all movements were spontaneous and beyond my own control.
At this time, I heard a fellow sister behind me speaking loudly in Cantonese. She seemed to be saying that we have committed lots of sins and evil deeds in the past and therefore we now must repent earnestly and so on.
My hands continued swinging. I followed the singing and joined from time to time. At this time, my hand movement changed and turned into a movement of dancing. That was the hand gesture in a Chinese classic dance. I was dancing to the singing. My heart was filled with the joy of the dharma. With a smile on my face and while singing lightly, I made all kinds of wonderful movement with my hands (At least I felt that my hand movement was very wonderful.). Totally without any control, I felt that all movements were so smooth, fluent, and natural. Though my eyes were always closed, my mind was very clear and very much open. I was clearly aware what gestures and movements were performed by my hands. However, the dancing and moving of my hands was not directed by my own mind.
My two hands kept waving and moving. However, when the master leading the dharma practice called out “Stop!”, my hands gradually moved to a position before my chest and stopped there.
After the perfect conclusion of the dharma assembly, the attending crowd went together to perform the ending practice of saving living beings from captivity. On the trip of driving back home, I unexpectedly noticed that my two feet were warm. This was something extraordinary to me. For quite a number of years, my two feet were rather cold. In particular, I must have a hot water bag prepared before going to bed. Otherwise I would not be able to fall asleep. Even if I went to sleep after having a hot bath or having my feet soaked in hot water, my feet would still be cold. Sometimes when I did not use a hot water bag, I would wake up at night with my feet being ice-cold. I could feel the chilly air from my bones and would even tremble. At that time, I had to have the hot-water bag ready immediately. After attending that dharma assembly, I fell the warmth from my two feet and no longer need to use a hot-water bag to help me fall asleep. Even when I wake up at night, I would pleasantly find that my feet warm.
I am grateful to the empowerment bestowed on me by the greatly loving and greatly compassionate Kuan Shi Yin Bodhisattva!
Additionally, I also had an unexpected discovery. The ankle joints in my two feet were no longer in pain. I could not remember since when my ankle joints started to ache, but it should have been for quite a while. I did not know what the cause was either. Normally, there was no pain if I do not touch them. However, it was very painful if the spot was pressed. Therefore, when I sat crossed legged to practice meditation, a towel or a blanket must be placed under my feet. Otherwise I would not be able to keep myself in a sitting position.
Yesterday evening, while chatting with my family members after dinner, I reached out to massage the ankle joints on my right foot as I used to do. I did not even feel any pain at all. I immediately pressed the ankle joints on my left foot and did not feel any pain either. I dared not believe that fact at the time and repeatedly pressed the spots many times. It was really true that I had no pain at all.
I once again express my gratitude to the greatly loving and greatly compassionate Kuan Shi Yin Bodhisattva!
This dharma assembly was very magnificent. The attending crowd were also empowered by Kuan Shi Yin Bodhisattva’s great compassion and were full of the joy from the dharma. Had I not experienced the occasion in person, I absolutely would not be able to imagine the inconceivable feeling and benefits I had when the empowerment from Buddhas and Bodhisattvas came to me!
The primary purpose in practicing Buddhism is to gain control over your life and death. That is true liberation and true happiness! Disciples of His Holiness Dorje Chang Buddha III have exhibited extraordinary feats at the time of their death. There have also been supernormal phenomena manifest at the time of or after their death. Disciples have even returned from the “Pure Land” to report on their new home to their families and to urge them to follow the teachings of His Holiness.
His Holiness has disciples who are eminent monastics and enlightened laypersons who if they want to live, they live. If they want to die, they die. Many have passed on while sitting in the cross-legged meditation position after they announced that they were leaving. They reached a level where they were liberated from the cycle of reincarnation. Many have left behind shariras or firm relics as evidence of their achievement. They have also left behind their body of flesh that does not rot.
Even non-Buddhist relatives of the Buddha Master’s disciples were able to make the transition to the Pure Land after they received the Buddha Master’s instructions and blessings. In all of these examples, the time of transition was an extremely joyous event. Friends and family were able to know that their loved one was making a peaceful transition to a wonderful existence..
TYPES OF LIBERATION FROM THE CYCLE OF BIRTH & DEATH: Regarding liberation from the cycle of birth and death, His Holiness has told us that there are several ways to obtain it. Roughly speaking, it is divided very crudely into four types. There is a dharma that will lead one to have the lifespan as long as heaven which was called the “immortal body”. This is what Guru Padmasambhava achieved. This is the highest dharma which can not be learned by ordinary people. Then, there is the dharma of the rainbow body transformation, which one achieves by transforming one’s entire fleshy body into a rainbow body. Another type is passing away in a sitting position and freeing oneself from the cycle of birth and death. The other type is passing away and being reborn in the Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss. These are the four types of achievement. Other than that, without achieving liberation or enlightenment, it is descending to reincarnation and death.
The rainbow immortal body is also referred to as the body of supreme transformation or the rainbow body attainment of All-Surpassing Realization. In this higher form the rainbow body transmutes all psychophysical components into the light of buddhahood, so that no outward change is visible. This is why Padmasambhava, Vimalamitra, Vairocana and the like can pass into other buddha-lands in the same forms they enjoyed in our world. The lower rainbow body attainment transmutes consciousness, feeling, perception, and habitual tendencies into the light of buddhahood, but the component of form shrinks in size until only fingernails, tooth-enamel, hair, or relics remain, some time as a “vajra sharira” or “human body sharira.”
Over 2,000 years ago, Shakyamuni Buddha came to the Saha world, established Buddhism, and began to spread the Buddha Dharma. Now, the karmic conditions related to the good fortune of living beings have matured, and the contemporary Buddha H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has come to our world once again to bring more Dharma to us. The Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva Great Compassion Empowerment Dharma is the Dharma that His Holiness has brought to us this time.
When a Dharma Master practices this Dharma, it can convene people, empower them, and lead them into a supernormal state. The purpose is to eliminate negative karma, improve one’s health, and increase spiritual mentality. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has transmitted the Dharma to a few qualified Rinpoches and Dharma Masters, and these Rinpoches and Dharma Masters have hosted the Dharma Assembly many times around the world.
I have participated in the assembly four times so far. The first time, I heard many people crying, singing, or laughing, and some walking around, but I myself didn’t experience any specific motions. I was kind of disappointed. The second time, I had very strong feelings. When the assembly just started and everyone was chanting the Great Bright Six Syllable Mantra, I began to cry and couldn’t control myself. I kept on crying and crying, and it seemed like I cried out all my sorrows and pains in my life. Then I started to sway my body, shake my head and neck. The third and fourth time I joined the assembly, I had more motions and stronger expressions. I still cried hard at the beginning, then I sang the name of Namo Dorje Chang Buddha III, swung my two arms, and spun around. I bent my neck backward so hard, and I even lay down on the floor feeling so peaceful and comfortable, feeling the energy flowing through my body. I did all those without any intention from my mind. I felt the assembly was too short to end. Every time after the assembly, I felt my whole body loosen up, and I was so relaxed and rejuvenated.
The assembly actually has two parts. One is held inside, such as a conference center or grand hall in a hotel, where the master performs the Dharma. The second part takes place outside, where living beings are released from captivity.
H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III emphasized many times in the Dharma discourses: “The concluding practice of the Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva Great Compassion Empowerment Dharma is the finest, the best. Were it not for its concluding practice, I would not advocate practicing this Dharma. I all the more would not transmit this Dharma in this world. Why release captive living beings? All living beings have been our family members since beginningless time. They are the same as humans. It is just that their degree of intelligence and appearance are different from those of humans. Still, their consciousness is the same as that of a human. That is why in real life, we see that some animals can even rescue people, some can do math, some can sing, and some can dance. I even saw a dog that was able to play a highly difficult piano melody. Moreover, the dog played it very precisely. We must help them and rescue them. Furthermore, we must not even slightly harm any living being. We can only rescue them.
Because the Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva Great Compassion Empowerment Dharma is based on the power gathered from the greatly compassionate mind of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, at the end of each Dharma assembly, the one performing the Dharma must lead the attendees in a concluding practice to release captive living beings, do good deeds, and help other people. It is best to conduct the concluding practice on the same day. If there is not enough time, doing it on another day is also acceptable. However, the concluding practice must be completed within fifteen days.
People who attend an Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva Great Compassion Empowerment Dharma Assembly should make offerings. However, in order to comply with the Dharma, it would be best if they personally helped the Dharma assembly staff arrange that the monetary offerings received at the Dharma assembly be spent on the main subject of the Dharma assembly—the concluding practice of releasing captive living beings, helping other people, and doing good deeds— as well as on the related expenses of the Dharma assembly, such as renting the site, transportation, meals, and lodging for the master performing the Dharma and those accompanying the master.”
Today is the auspicious occasion of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva’s holy birthday, and on this special day, I offer my sincere prayers: May the great Bodhisattva bless all living beings with a life full of auspiciousness, prosperity, and happiness. May the compassionate energy of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva radiate throughout the world, bringing peace, harmony, and love to all sentient beings.
It once occurred to a certain king that if he always knew the right time to begin everything; if he knew who were the right people to listen to, and whom to avoid; and, above all, if he always knew what was the most important thing to do, he would never fail in anything he might undertake.
And this thought having occurred to him, he had it proclaimed throughout his kingdom that he would give a great reward to anyone who would teach him what was the right time for every action, and who were the most necessary people, and how he might know what was the most important thing to do.
And learned men came to the king, but they all answered his questions differently.
In reply to the first question, some said that to know the right time for every action, one must draw up in advance a table of days, months, and years, and must live strictly according to it. Only thus, said they, could everything be done at its proper time. Others declared that it was impossible to decide beforehand the right time for every action, but that, not letting oneself be absorbed in idle pastimes, one should always attend to all that was going on, and then do what was most needful. Others, again, said that however attentive the king might be to what was going on, it was impossible for one man to decide correctly the right time for every action, but that he should have a council of wise men who would help him to fix the proper time for everything.
But then again others said there were some things which could not wait to be laid before a council, but about which one had at once to decide whether to undertake them or not. But in order to decide that, one must know beforehand what was going to happen. It is only magicians who know that; and, therefore, in order to know the right time for every action, one must consult magicians.
Equally various were the answers to the second question. Some said the people the king most needed were his councilors; others, the priests; others, the doctors; while some said the warriors were the most necessary.
To the third question, as to what was the most important occupation, some replied that the most important thing in the world was science. Others said it was skill in warfare; and others, again, that it was religious worship.
All the answers being different, the king agreed with none of them, and gave the reward to none. But still wishing to find the right answers to his questions, he decided to consult a hermit, widely renowned for his wisdom.
The hermit lived in a wood which he never quitted, and he received none but common folk. So the king put on simple clothes and, before reaching the hermit’s cell, dismounted from his horse. Leaving his bodyguard behind, he went on alone.
When the king approached, the hermit was digging the ground in front of his hut. Seeing the king, he greeted him and went on digging. The hermit was frail and weak, and each time he stuck his spade into the ground and turned a little earth, he breathed heavily.
The king went up to him and said: “I have come to you, wise hermit, to ask you to answer three questions: How can I learn to do the right thing at the right time? Who are the people I most need, and to whom should I, therefore, pay more attention than to the rest? And, what affairs are the most important and need my first attention?”
The hermit listened to the king, but answered nothing. He just spat on his hand and recommenced digging.
“You are tired,” said the king, “let me take the spade and work awhile for you.”
“Thanks!” said the hermit, and, giving the spade to the king, he sat down on the ground.
When he had dug two beds, the king stopped and repeated his questions. The hermit again gave no answer, but rose, stretched out his hand for the spade, and said:
“Now rest awhile – and let me work a bit.”
But the king did not give him the spade, and continued to dig. One hour passed, and another. The sun began to sink behind the trees, and the king at last stuck the spade into the ground, and said:
“I came to you, wise man, for an answer to my questions. If you can give me none, tell me so, and I will return home.”
“Here comes someone running,” said the hermit. “Let us see who it is.”
The king turned round and saw a bearded man come running out of the wood. The man held his hands pressed against his stomach, and blood was flowing from under them. When he reached the king, he fell fainting on the ground, moaning feebly. The king and the hermit unfastened the man’s clothing. There was a large wound in his stomach. The king washed it as best he could, and bandaged it with his handkerchief and with a towel the hermit had. But the blood would not stop flowing, and the king again and again removed the bandage soaked with warm blood, and washed and re-bandaged the wound. When at last the blood ceased flowing, the man revived and asked for something to drink. The king brought fresh water and gave it to him. Meanwhile the sun had set, and it had become cool. So the king, with the hermit’s help, carried the wounded man into the hut and laid him on the bed. Lying on the bed, the man closed his eyes and was quiet; but the king was so tired from his walk and from the work he had done that he crouched down on the threshold, and also fell asleep – so soundly that he slept all through the short summer night.
When he awoke in the morning, it was long before he could remember where he was, or who was the strange bearded man lying on the bed and gazing intently at him with shining eyes.
“Forgive me!” said the bearded man in a weak voice, when he saw that the king was awake and was looking at him.
“I do not know you, and have nothing to forgive you for,” said the king.
“You do not know me, but I know you. I am that enemy of yours who swore to revenge himself on you, because you executed his brother and seized his property. I knew you had gone alone to see the hermit, and I resolved to kill you on your way back. But the day passed and you did not return. So I came out from my ambush to find you, and came upon your bodyguard, and they recognized me, and wounded me. I escaped from them, but should have bled to death had you not dressed my wound. I wished to kill you, and you have saved my life. Now, if I live, and if you wish it, I will serve you as your most faithful slave, and will bid my sons do the same. Forgive me!”
The king was very glad to have made peace with his enemy so easily, and to have gained him for a friend, and he not only forgave him, but said he would send his servants and his own physician to attend him, and promised to restore his property.
Having taken leave of the wounded man, the king went out into the porch and looked around for the hermit. Before going away he wished once more to beg an answer to the questions he had put. The hermit was outside, on his knees, sowing seeds in the beds that had been dug the day before.
The king approached him and said, “For the last time, I pray you to answer my questions, wise man.”
“You have already been answered!” said the hermit, still crouching on his thin legs, and looking up at the king, who stood before him.
“How answered? What do you mean?” asked the king.
“Do you not see?” replied the hermit. “If you had not pitied my weakness yesterday, and had not dug these beds for me, but had gone your way, that man would have attacked you, and you would have repented of not having stayed with me. So the most important time was when you were digging the beds; and I was the most important man; and to do me good was your most important business. Afterwards, when that man ran to us, the most important time was when you were attending to him, for if you had not bound up his wounds he would have died without having made peace with you. So he was the most important man, and what you did for him was your most important business. Remember then: there is only one time that is important – now! It is the most important time because it is the only time when we have any power. The most necessary person is the one with whom you are, for no man knows whether he will ever have dealings with anyone else: and the most important affair is to do that person good, because for that purpose alone was man sent into this life.”
This story reminded me of something that Henry Shukman, an English Spiritual Director Emeritus and a Zen Buddhism practitioner, once said: ‘Now… is always and ever the most important thing… there is only one place that fulfillment can happen: here and now.’
Guan Shi Yin (Avalokitesvara) Bodhisattva is a revered figure in Buddhism who has achieved the level of marvelous enlightenment, possessing the same qualities as a Buddha. According to sutras, Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva is believed to be the manifestation of an ancient Buddha called True Dharma Brightness Tathagata and is considered the king of great compassion. The Bodhisattva tirelessly works day and night to help all beings in the Three Spheres, accumulating boundless merit.
Guan Yin is one of the most widely depicted figures in Chinese temples, with thousands of different incarnations or manifestations. Typically portrayed as a graceful woman dressed in flowing white robes and a hood, carrying a small vase of holy dew, she stands tall and slender, emanating selflessness and compassion. She may be depicted in various forms, such as seated on an elephant, standing on a fish, nursing a baby, holding a basket, or with multiple arms and heads. Her main goal is to alleviate the suffering of all beings.
Guan Yin is often portrayed riding a mythological animal known as the Hou, similar to a Buddhist lion, symbolizing her divine power over nature. She is usually depicted barefoot, while on public altars, she is flanked by two acolytes: a barefoot, shirtless youth known as Shan-ts’ai (Golden Youth) on her right, and a demure maid known as Lung-nü (Jade Maiden) on her left, holding her hands together inside her sleeves.
Guan Yin’s birthday is celebrated on the nineteenth day of the second lunar month, which falls on March 10th this year. She is considered a model of Chinese beauty, and being referred to as a “Guan Yin” is the highest compliment for grace and loveliness.
There are many legendary stories and folk tales about Guan Yin, which have been collected and passed down through generations.
Willow Guan Yin, left hand has a jar containing pure water, and the right holds a willow branch.
According to legend, during a period of severe drought and corruption in the Zhongzhou area of China, Guanyin Bodhisattva came to enlighten the people and show them the path to righteousness. With her compassion for all living beings, she took out willow branches from a jade bottle and poured nectar into the fields. Suddenly, it rained heavily, relieving the drought and bringing new life to the parched land.
The Willow Guan Yin’s willow branch represents her ability to heal and soothe, while the jar of pure water symbolizes her power to purify and cleanse. Her actions during the drought represent her willingness to help those in need and her desire to alleviate suffering. Her message is clear: no matter how dire the circumstances, there is always hope and a chance for redemption.
According to legend, a fearsome monster with the head of a dragon and the body of a turtle that dwelled in the East China Sea. This monster was known to cause great havoc and destruction, leaving the people in constant fear and anxiety.
The people’s prayers were answered when Guanyin Bodhisattva heard of their plight. Being the embodiment of compassion, Guanyin Bodhisattva arrived in the East China Sea, he rode on the back of the dragon-headed monster, showing no fear, and subdued it with his magic power. From that day on, the people lived in peace and safety, free from the monster’s threat.
In honor of Guanyin Bodhisattva’s courageous act, the people erected a statue of him standing on the dragon-headed monster, enshrining it as a symbol of his boundless magic power and compassion for all living beings.
According to legend, Guanyin Bodhisattva traveled to Luoyang City and took out a precious mirror. She claimed that as long as people paid three Wen coins, they could see their past and future lives from the mirror. The people eagerly lined up and took turns looking into the mirror. They were all surprised to see their past and future lives reflected back at them.
However, when Guanyin Bodhisattva revealed her true form, the people saw different expressions on her face. Some saw an angry face, some saw a fierce face, and some saw a joyful face. The people were confused by these different expressions.
Guanyin Bodhisattva warned all living beings not to think that their evil deeds would go unnoticed. She urged them to do more good deeds instead. It is absolutely true that one cannot escape karma. Evil will be rewarded with evil, and good will be rewarded with good.
According to legend, there was a time when people living on the coast of the East China Sea lacked manners and etiquette. Guanyin Bodhisattva, being the compassionate deity that she is, decided to intervene and provide enlightenment to these people.
In order to do so, Guanyin Bodhisattva transformed herself into a beautiful fisherwoman and began to teach the people about the importance of etiquette and manners. She also promised to marry whoever could recite the Buddhist scriptures that she taught them.
A young fisherman named Ma Lang was determined to gain the Bodhisattva’s favor and started to diligently study the scriptures. Eventually, his hard work paid off, and he was able to recite the scriptures flawlessly. Impressed by his dedication, the Bodhisattva decided to imparted him with further enlightenment. At the wedding night, the Bodhisattva left the house with sudden death.
Ma Lang realized the fishwoman was actually Guanyin Bodhisattva, he carved a statue of Bodhisattva looking like a fisherwoman and enshrined the statue in his house.
According to the legend, Dogen, a Japanese monk who had just returned from studying in China, found himself in the middle of a terrible storm while sailing near the coast of Nanming. Fearing for his life, he prayed silently to Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion, to protect him from the storm.
Suddenly, he saw a miraculous sight. A beautiful and serene figure of Avalokitesvara appeared riding on a lotus leaf, floating on the sea. The Bodhisattva’s presence calmed the storm, and the wind and waves stopped. Dogen was filled with wonder and gratitude, and he knew that he had witnessed a great miracle.
After he landed safely, Dogen decided to commemorate this miraculous experience by creating a statue of Guanyin as he had seen her on the lotus leaf. He had the statue enshrined in the Nanming Guanyin Temple, where it became an object of veneration for countless devotees.
Avalokitasvara, Guan Shi Yin in Chinese, means the Perceiver of World’s Sounds. The Lotus Sutra says: “Perceiver of the World’s Sounds, heavenly voice, the voice of the sea’s tide—magnificent, rich and harmonious surpassing all worldly sounds.” The bodhisattva always help all beings in danger and distress and is willing to bear the pain of all beings. If we hold the bodhisattva in our hearts and call on her sincerely, she will always respond.
May the greatly loving and compassionate Namo Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva bless all beings!!!