THE SAGELY CITY OF TEN THOUSAND BUDDHAS

The Record of Water Mirror Turning Back Heaven:
By Tripitaka Master Hsuan Hua

From the 1986 issue of Vajra Bodhi Sea
Translated by the International Translation Institute

Gwanshiyin, the Bodhisattva of Great Compassion

Text:  

Avalokiteshvara [Guanyin] Bodhisattva became a Buddha limitless eons ago. His name was the Thus Come One Light of Proper Dharma. With great compassionate vows, he returned on the boat of kindness to the Saha world to rescue beings in distress by listening to their cries. Thus, it’s said: ‘Prayers depart a thousand hearts; in a thousand hearts he answers. At all times he is a boat that crosses people over the sea of suffering.”

Those who sincerely recite his name will be saved. He extricates people from the seven kinds of difficulties, counteracts the three poisons, and responds to the two kinds of requests. This Bodhisattva, while on the First Ground, met the Buddha King of a Thousand Lights Who Abides in Stillness, who compassionately transmitted the Spiritual Mantra of Great Compassion to Guanyin Bodhisattva and rubbed the crown of the Bodhisattva’s head with his purple golden hand. Guanyin Bodhisattva immediately ascended to the Eighth Ground and was extremely delighted. He then made the following vow: “If I can benefit living beings in the future, may I manifest one thousand hands and one thousand eyes.”

When he was done making this vow, the earth shook in six ways. The Buddhas of the ten directions emitted light that shone upon his body and according to his vow he became endowed with a thousand hands and a thousand eyes. He said to the Buddha, “If any living being who recites and holds the Spiritual Mantra of Great Compassion should fail to obtain whatever he seeks in this present life, then it cannot be the Dharani of the mind of great compassion.” During the Latter Liang of the Five Dynasties Era, a Japanese monk requested the statue of the Bodhisattva to make offerings to. When his ship reached Potola Mountain, he decided to live there. Guanyin Bodhisattva manifested many miracles there, and thus this is considered a holy place in Buddhism. A couplet says: “Why does Guanyin sit facing backwards? It’s because living beings have not turned their heads around.” It is said: “The sea of suffering is boundless; a turn of the head is the Other Shore.” Why don’t living beings turn around? It is because they are confused by fame, gain, and emotional love. If they can see through them, they will obtain freedom and ease.

Commentary:  

Why is he called the greatly compassionate Guanshiyin Bodhisattva? It is because, with great kindness, he bestows joy, and with great compassion, he alleviates suffering. Whatever living beings like, he can help them achieve it.

Avalokiteshvara: Doesn’t the Heart Sutra say: “Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva practiced the profound prajna paramita”? Avalokiteshvara is translated as “contemplating self-presence”, which means you contemplate yourself being present instead of contemplating others’ presence. If you don’t strike up false thoughts, then you are present in the moment. If you keep having false thinking, then you are not present. This Bodhisattva became a Buddha limitless eons ago, such a long time ago that we can’t calculate the length of time. His name was the Thus Come One Light of Proper Dharma. This was what he was called then.

With great compassionate vows, he returned on the boat of kindness. He manifested the small and concealed the great. Originally, he had become a Buddha, however, he now appears as a Bodhisattva called Guanshiyin and comes to the Saha world. He’s come back to the world of the five turbidities, which is filled with great suffering. He’s come to this place that is difficult to bear to rescue beings in distress by listening to their cries. If anyone who is suffering recites the name of the Greatly Compassionate Guanyin Bodhisattva, he will hear your sounds and liberate you from your suffering. It’s said: Prayers depart a thousand hearts; in a thousand hearts he answers. Regardless of who you are, as long as you recite Guanyin Bodhisattva’s name, he will definitely come to your rescue. At all times he is a boat that crosses people over the sea of suffering. Guanyin Bodhisattva is like a boat ferrying people over the sea of suffering of the Saha World. Those who sincerely recite his name will be saved. You need to be really earnest and singleminded when reciting his name. This is what’s meant by the line, “Those with faith will be saved.”

He extricates people from the seven kinds of difficulties, which are disasters of water, fire, wind, the government, bandits, or epidemics,…not only the seven kinds of difficulties, but all disasters. This includes car accidents as well. People often tell me that they constantly recite Guanyin Bodhisattva’s name. When they get into a car accident, their car is totaled, but they aren’t hurt at all. There are many such miracles.

Counteracts the three poisons: He can relieve people from the three poisons of greed, hatred and delusion. It’s said that if a person plagued by greed constantly recites the name of and worships Guanyin Bodhisattva, he will be freed from greed. If one is hateful, which means one has a big temper, one’s temper will be reduced after one recites the name of and worships Guanyin Bodhisattva. If one is deluded all the time, one will no longer be deluded after constantly reciting and worshipping Guanyin Bodhisattva.

Responds to the two kinds of requests: the two requests are seeking to have a boy or a girl child. If you ask for a boy, you will give birth to a boy with a dignified appearance. If you want a girl, you will give birth to an intelligent girl with fine features and wisdom. Thus, the Bodhisattva “responds to the two kinds of requests”.

This Bodhisattva, while on the First Ground, the Ground of Happiness in the Ten Grounds, met the Buddha King of a Thousand Lights Who Abides in Stillness, who compassionately transmitted the Spiritual Mantra of Great Compassion to Guanyin Bodhisattva and rubbed the crown of the Bodhisattva’s head with his purple golden hand. As soon as the Buddha rubbed the crown of Guanyin Bodhisattva, Guanyin Bodhisattva immediately ascended to the Eighth Ground, the Ground of Not Moving, and was extremely delighted. He was very happy and joyful. He then made the following vow: He made vows in front of the Buddha King of Stillness, saying: If I can benefit living beings in the future, may I manifest one thousand hands and one thousand eyes.

When he was done making such a vow, the earth shook in six ways. The six kinds of quaking are shaking, roaring, crashing, surging, soaring and rising. The Buddhas of the ten directions emitted light that shone upon his body. The Buddhas shone their light on him. And according to his vow, he became endowed with a thousand hands and a thousand eyes. As a result, one thousand hands and one thousand eyes manifested. He said to the Buddha, “If any living being who recites and holds the Spiritual Mantra of Great Compassion should fail to obtain whatever he seeks in this present life, then it cannot be the dharani of the mind of great compassion.” If one recites this mantra in this very life and one’s wish is not fulfilled, then it cannot be the dharani of the mind of great compassion. This mantra will be the Spiritual Mantra of Great Compassion that upholds and unites. Guanyin Bodhisattva also made vows that if one upholds the Spiritual Mantra of Great Compassion and does not become a Buddha, he will also not attain proper enlightenment and become a Buddha.

During the Latter Liang of the Five Dynasties Era, a Japanese monk requested the statue of the Bodhisattva to make offerings to. When his ship reached Potola Mountain, he decided to live there. When the ship stopped and the monk disembarked at the Potola Mountain, he took up residence there. At that time, Guanyin manifested many miracles, and thus this is considered a holy place in Buddhism. Because of these efficacious responses, Potola Mountain has become a holy sanctuary for Buddhism.

A couplet says: Why does Guanyin sit facing backwards? Why does Guanshiyin Bodhisattva sit facing the north; why did he turn around in his seat? It’s because living beings have not turned their heads around. It’s due to the fact that people in this world will not turn away from confusion and return to enlightenment and will not retire when they have reached the crest of their success. It is said: “The sea of suffering is boundless, a turn of the head is the Other Shore.” If you turned your head, you would arrive at the Other Shore. Why don’t living beings turn their heads? It is because they are confused by fame, gain and emotional love. If they can see through them: if they can see through and put down love and fame, then they will obtain freedom and ease.

A verse in praise says:

With great kindness and great compassion,
he saves beings from suffering and difficulty,
Earnestly wishing that all living beings
together reach the Other Shore.
Working with all-out effort,
there is no place he does not manifest.
He universally saves all sentient beings
and gathers in both the noble and the lowly.

Commentary:  

With great kindness and great compassion: Guanyin Bodhisattva has both great kindness and great compassion. He saves beings from suffering and difficulty: he rescues those who are in pain and in trouble. Earnestly wishing that all living beings: He hopes that all the living beings will together reach the other shore together with him to become Buddhas.

Working with all-out effort: Guanshiyin Bodhisattva wades to extricate living beings from suffering. There is no place he does not manifest: there is not a single location where he does not show himself.

He universally saves all sentient beings: he crosses over all the living creatures and spirits. And gathers in both the noble and the lowly: Without discrimination, he rescues people as high as kings and dukes and as low as beggars.

Another verse says:

Often manifesting the sound of the waves at Potola,
He has the deepest affinities with beings of the Saha world.
His thousand hands protect and support sentient beings;
His wisdom eyes gaze upon the unfortunate ones.
He wishes to forever calm the waves in the sea of suffering,
And to alleviate the pain and distress in the hells.
Reciting his name eradicates all calamities.
Bowing reverently brings one blessings and wisdom.

Commentary:  

Often manifesting the sound of the waves at Potola: at the seashore by Potola Mountain, he often makes his presence known through the sound of the ocean tides. He has the deepest affinities with beings of the Saha world. The living beings in this difficult-to-bear Saha World have especially deep affinities with Guanshiyin Bodhisattva. His thousand hands protect and support sentient beings; Guanyin Bodhisattva often uses his thousand hands to protect all sentient beings. His wisdom eyes gaze upon the unfortunate ones. His wisdom eye can see any person who is suffering misfortune.

He wishes to forever calm the waves in the sea of suffering. He wishes that the billows of the afflictions in the sea of suffering in this world of the five turbidities would forever be calmed. And to alleviate the pain and distress in the hells. All the sufferings and the unbearable punishment can be pacified by his power of vows. Reciting his name eradicates all calamities. If you recite the name of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, all disasters can be averted. Bowing reverently brings one blessings and wisdom. If you can bow to Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, you will perfect your blessings and wisdom.

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