Today is the Bodhisattva's birthday, and although this temple is built three hundred steps up the mountain, all you who have come to this session have proved to be very nimble. Thus, each person who has come to celebrate the birthday is not only true-hearted, but courageous and vigorous as well.
I've taken note of the number of people who have attended these sessions over the past eight years, and every year the attendance is larger. And more and more people who come to bow and pay their respects during the session have said they found afterwards that everything went more smoothly for them.
For example, Upasika Yuan Guolin said that since she started coming to Western Bliss Garden Monastery, her business has been especially prosperous. And ever since Upasaka Tan Guopu took refuge, his blessings have increased and his life has been lengthened, so that although he is over eighty, he is still in excellent health.
There is also the crippled child who had been lame since the age of four. At age nine he started coming here to bow to the Buddha, and now he can walk. Then there is Li Guoyuan's daughter, who broke her leg so badly that neither Chinese nor Western specialists could set it for her. After she started bowing to the Buddhas here, her leg healed. Because of such incidents, some people have spread the rumor that I can cure illnesses. Actually, it's just the merit and virtue of bowing to the Buddhas.
There is another incident of note. Before Western Bliss Garden Monastery was constructed, this was just a barren plot of land marred by a pit seven or eight feet deep. Much labor was spent filling in the pit with mud and then levelling off the ground before the Bodhimanda could be built. Besides that, there had never been any water here, but after the Bodhimanda was built, an unending supply of water appeared. Some people say I brought the water with me from Furung Mountain. That's because while I lived there in Guanyin Cave, there was water in front of the cave, but strange as it may sound, after I moved to Western Bliss Garden, the water disappeared. And this place, which originally had no water, now has water. Is it possible that I really brought the water with me? This whole situation is nothing more than a response from the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and the protective dragons and gods.
Today everyone is happy and enthusiastic, but the session is almost over, and we must wait until next year to hold another one. Everyone who plans to attend next year's Guanyin Recitation Session should sign up early, and moreover, you should make a vow to attend the entire session. In the eleventh lunar month there will be an Amitabha Buddha Recitation Session, and those who attend should be courageously vigorous and not the least bit lazy or lax.
I now have an unsurpassed Dharma-door that I intend to speak for you, but before I tell it to you, I should remind you that seeking the Dharma is not an easy matter. Therefore all of you should first agree to rely on the Dharma to cultivate, and then I will explain this unsurpassed dharma to you.
The Dharma-door consists of making vows before the Buddhas every single day. Vow:
Living beings are boundless;I vow to save them.Afflictions are endless;I vow to cut them off.Dharma-doors are limitless;I vow to study them all.The Buddha Way is unsurpassed;I vow to realize it.
These vows are familiar to everyone. What is more, they are the means by which all Buddhas attained realization, and they are the vows that all Bodhisattvas cultivate. There is another vow with which everyone is even more familiar:
I vow to be reborn in the Pure Land,With the nine grades of lotuses as my father and mother.When the flower opens I will see the Buddha and awaken to the unproduced.Irreversible Bodhisattvas will befriend me.
If everyone can make these vows every single day, I can guarantee that each of you will be able to meet the Compassionate Honored One, obtain irreversibility, and soon realize the Buddha Way.
A talk given on the morning of June 19, 1958