By nature, living beings like happiness and loathe suffering. But because of their stupidity, living beings do not know how to attain the bliss they crave and to leave the suffering they dislike. Therefore, although they always say they are “pursuing happiness,” unfortunately they only receive more and more suffering.
Bodhisattvas are kind and compassionate beings who have already become enlightened. They understand the way to leave suffering and attain bliss. Seeing all the pitiful, afflicted living beings, the greatly compassionate Bodhisattvas vow to listen to their sounds and save them from suffering. And so living beings are not totally without hope. If we sincerely recite the great name of Guanyin Bodhisattva, he will save us with his limitless Dharma-power, and enable us to leave suffering and attain bliss─this kind of bliss is the ultimate bliss of the Western Land. By reciting the Bodhisattva's great name, not only can we transcend all the pain and suffering of this world, we can also be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss, see the Buddha when our flower opens, and attain the pure and ultimate happiness of permanence, bliss, true self, and purity.
It is said that by reciting the Bodhisattva's name, we can leave suffering and understand our own mind and nature─is it really that easy? Skeptical and dull living beings might ask that. But the Bodhisattvas are determined to give living beings a bargain, which is the reason they spoke this expedient Dharma-door. Nevertheless, some living beings are still unaware of this supreme bargain. What a pity!
Some people say, “I believe that reciting the Bodhisattva's name can dissolve offenses and eradicate suffering, but how can it cause us to understand the mind and see the nature?” A few days ago I used the analogy of making phone calls. Now I will give a simpler analogy.
Suppose a person is blindfolded so that he only sees total darkness. When he tries to walk, he keeps bumping into the walls until he's bruised and terribly sore. However, it doesn't occur to him to take off the blindfold. Luckily, he meets a kind person who sees his miserable state and removes the blindfold for him. Now he can see, and he won't hurt himself by bumping into the walls anymore.
The same principle holds in reciting the Bodhisattva's name. We living beings are like the blindfolded person. He isn't really blind; his eyes are merely covered by a piece of cloth. Likewise, we living beings haven't lost our mind and nature. They are originally clear and bright, but they have been covered over by countless obstructions from offenses and idle thoughts. The Bodhisattva is like the kind person, for he removes the karmic obstructions covering our inherent bright nature, allowing us to return to the source and regain our original face.
We cannot fail to recite the Bodhisattva's name, or it would be like the blind man refusing to be helped by others. Bumping into the wall is a small matter, but if he can't see where he's going and he walks into an abyss, his life is certainly in danger.
There are plenty of offenses which we may be tempted to commit in this world, and if we are not careful, we could fall into the abyss of offenses and lose our human body. We may not return for ten thousand eons, and we will regret it for ages. Laypeople! Quickly accept the Bodhisattva's exhortations and recite the Bodhisattva's great name constantly, so the Bodhisattva can soon save us from the bitter sea of birth and death!
A talk given on the afternoon of June 17, 1958