Bowing to 10,000 Buddhas
Can Dissolve Our Stupidity
A talk given by Shramanerika Jin Jian on June 24, 2011
All Buddhas, Bodhisattva, Venerable Master, Dharma Master, and all Good and Wise Advisors, Amitabha! Tonight shramanerika Qin Yi Jin Jian would like to take this opportunity to share with everyone my experience and reflections on bowing the Ten Thousand Buddhas Repentance. If I say anything that is not in accordance with the Dharma, please be compassionate and correct me.
It was a beautiful, clear, bright day and I was on my way out. The Guan Yin session was over and I had packed, cleaned, and now my last stop was the A/O before hitting the freeway for my 10-hour drive home. Since this was the first time I had attended a dharma session at CTTB, I stopped by A/O before heading out to make sure that I had completed all the necessary checkout procedure before leaving. Come to find out, there was no formal checkout procedure. You just leave. Interesting, I thought. Okay then. Sayonara!
Just then I thought of asking about future dharma sessions at CTTB. Mr.Chu responded in his usual cool and calm voice. He said that there was the Earth Store session coming up, the Amitabha session, the Chan session, and our signature the 10,000 Buddhas Jeweled Repentance. He told me that the 10,000 Buddha Repentance was over 3-weeks long. When I heard of the 10,000 Buddhas Repentance, I was ecstatic. Why? I had no idea. Not knowing at all what the 10,000 Buddha Repentance was about. All I remember was: 3 weeks and 10,000 bows.
Great! When is it and where can I sign up? To my disappointment, Mr.Chu told me that I had just missed it and that it won’t be held again until next year. I was really disappointed because I have to wait a whole year in order to bow the 10,000 Buddha Repentance. Fine but in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s infamous words, “I’ll be back.”
Although, I didn’t know what bowing to the 10,000 Buddha Repentance was, immediately after hearing about it my mind had already made the commitment to bow it. Come rain or shine, I was going to attend the 10,000 Buddha Repentance. There was just a slight problem. How was I going to get a month off from work to go bowing? I worked at a hospital that was open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. Do you think my boss will let me take a month off?
We normally sign up for vacation time once a year in order of seniority based on your date of hire. Each person was allowed to sign up for 2 weeks initially and once everyone has had a chance to sign up for time off then we are allowed to sign up for an additional 2 weeks of leave. Since I was at the bottom of the totem pole, the most junior person in the group, I could only wait and hope that my fellow colleagues would not request the same time off as I was, because only 1 person was allowed to be on vacation at any given time.
Fortunately, everything turned out as I had hoped. I was able to sign up for a month of vacation time for the 10,000 Buddha Repentance the following year. Well, things didn’t turn out to be that easy. A few weeks before going to the 10,000 Buddha Repentance, my supervisor finally came to the realization that I was going to be on vacation for a whole month. He frankly told me, “You can’t do that.” I looked at him in amazement. “What do you mean I can’t do that? You’d already approved my request.” He told me that he didn’t realize that I was taking 4 consecutive weeks off. Who’s going to cover for you? Nobody can adequately cover for you for that amount of time. Things weren’t looking good.
But I was adamant about going so I had to take the issue up with the Director of my department. Because I had followed all the proper procedure in requesting for vacation time, the Director had no recourse but to let me take the time off as requested. My colleagues were all in disbelief. One of them said to me, “I have been working here for almost 20 years and I haven’t been able to take more than 2 weeks off at a time. How is it that you can take a whole month off?”
They were even more in disbelief when they heard that I was taking the month off to go bowing. “That’s not a vacation”, they said. I thought you were going to take vacation time to do something fun like travel to an exotic island or something. Are you sure you want to blow all of your vacation time for the entire year to go bowing?
After jumping through all the hoops to get time off from work, I finally made it to my very first 10,000 Buddha Repentance in 2004. After a couple of years of taking off from work to attend the 10,000 Buddha Repentance, my coworkers got used to my annual routine. Each year when it got around to spring time, they would automatically remind me. Aren’t you going bowing soon? It’s been 8 years now. I’m a bit amazed that I have been able to bow this repentance for 8 consecutive years. I feel really fortunate to have encountered all the right conditions in order for me to do the bowing year after year.
I often remind myself how rare it is for me to have encountered such an opportunity. How many people work at a place that gives them a month of vacation time each year? Most of my friends working at other companies get 2 weeks off and maybe they will get 3 weeks off if they have worked for 10 years or more. How many employers will let their employees go on vacation for a month? Even though some people have enough vacation time but their boss will not let them use it.
How many people are willing to use all of their vacation time to go bowing? Most would prefer to use their time off to go on some exotic trip, spend time with family, and so on. How many people are willing to let go of their social or family obligations to go bowing? Most people have some sort of family obligations. They have to care for their husband, wife, kids, parents, relatives, friends, neighbors or even their pets. They are unwilling or unable to put down these obligations in order to
Then there’s the financial aspect. How many can financially afford to do so? How many can physically do so? How many people even know of the 10,000 Buddha Repentance?
To me, it’s like winning the lotto. It’s like the stars were all aligned in the perfect position, in the right place, and at the right time. What are the odds of that happening? Very, very slim. So every year that I was able to go bowing, I always treasured and cherished the fact that I have been blessed with such good fortunate. Who knows if I will have the same opportunity again the following year.
What makes the 10,000 Buddha Repentance even more memorable for me is the fact that my mom would always come along with me. That is until I moved to CTTB. To me, it’s exceptionally rare that both my mom and I were able to go bowing together every year and plant good roots. Although my mom was in her late 60’s or early 70’s, she managed to bow every incense. She even went to all the morning and evening recitation. So, I was a bit proud of her for being so vigorous.
One year, her friend came with us for the 10,000 Buddha Repentance. She was in her 70’s but quite healthy for her age. I remember walking into the room one day and hearing her cheerful voice. Tomorrow’s graduation! Graduation? What graduation? It turns out that tomorrow was the last day of the 10,000 Buddhas Repentance and she was elated by the fact that she will have completed the full session. She was so proud of herself and she felt like she was graduating from a rigorous training program. It was too bad that I didn’t have a certificate to give to her for completing the 10,000 Buddhas Repentance.
What was my motivation for coming to the 10,000 Buddhas Repentance each year? For sure, it’s not because I was force to do it. I’m not really quite sure why though. Somehow upon hearing about the 10,000 Buddhas Repentance, I instantly made the commitment to do the bowing. It’s a bit like I innately knew that this was what I had to do. In a way, it felt as though I had made this commitment a long, long time ago, in some distant past and now it’s time for me to fulfill that commitment. The strength of that commitment was overwhelming. I never had even a moment’s doubt, even though I had no clue of what I was doing. But just as sure as the fact that sun rises in the east and sets in the west, I was just as sure of the fact that I had to go bowing.
Now that I think about it, I’m quite dumb. I have committed to doing this for all these years without even knowing the reason or purpose. I didn’t even know if there were any benefits in doing this. I did it because I just knew that I had to do it. There was no other reason.
Luckily, for me, even as dumb as I am, in coming to bow the 10,000 Buddhas Repentance and basking in the Dharma and this wholesome environment all these years, I end up learning some Buddhadharma. I finally got to hear about the benefits of bowing to the 10,000 Buddhas Repentance. The Venerable Master said, “The merit and virtue of this ceremony [Ten Thousand Buddhas Repentance] cannot be fully described. Some people may have been destined to live only a short time, but by bowing the Repentance before Ten Thousand Buddhas, they can prolong their life span. Some people are chronically ill. If they sincerely bow the Repentance before Ten Thousand Buddhas, their illnesses will be cured. Some people haven’t enjoyed much good fortune in their lives; everything has been unlucky for them. If, however, they can sincerely bow the Repentance before Ten Thousand Buddhas, everything will become auspicious and will turn out as they wish. The merit and virtue from bowing this repentance is inconceivable. In cultivating the Way, if you constantly bow the Repentance before Ten Thousand Buddhas, you can quickly become enlightened.
For instance, "a Dharma Master I once knew in Hong Kong didn’t talk very well and was not very literate. Then he went to Canada. Since he didn’t have much to do, he bowed the Repentance before Ten Thousand Buddhas every day. Bowing by himself for five years, he went through the repentance twenty-six times. He now appears to be much more intelligent than before.”
I was jolly as can be when I heard that you can lessen your stupidity by bowing the 10,000 Buddhas Repentance. My goodness, there’s hope for me after all. Let’s not even talk about becoming enlightened or attaining Buddhahood. There’s no need even to think about gaining wisdom and be intelligent. If I could just be a bit less dumb, that would already be a gargantuan achievement for me.
When I was young, my brothers used to tease me all the time. When I did something really dumb, they would say, “You know there is no medicine for curing stupidity”. Now, I can tell them that there is a cure. I hope that everyone would have the opportunity to bow to the 10,000 Buddhas Repentance and rid ourselves of ignorance and stupidity. May all our wishes be fulfill when we bow to the 10,000 Buddhas. Amitabha!