The “Guanyin Praise” gives a general description of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva. How does it go?
Bodhisattva Guanshiyin is wonderful past gratitude. Pure and clear are her adornments, Gained through practice ages long.
This describes the inconceivability of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva's spiritual powers, wisdom, expedient means, and everything about her. There is no way to completely express such an incredible state. Her pure, adorned features were gained through many eons of cultivation, not just one life. She has been cultivating blessings and wisdom in life after life, for many great eons. That's why she has such pure, adorned features and such a perfect appearance.
Sea-vast a red lotus flower Fragrant rests beneath her foot. Bay-curve of an autumn moon Is in the crescent of her brows.
Guanshiyin Bodhisattva has red lotus flowers beneath her feet. She stands upon red lotuses, extremely wonderful and fine. Her curved brow resembles the crescent moon. His appearance is extremely fine and perfect.
Everywhere and constantly, Sweet dew sprinkles from her vase.
In her hand, Guanshiyin Bodhisattva holds a pure vase filled with sweet dew, which she sprinkles upon our heads, refreshing us and wiping out our disasters and offenses. Our sicknesses disappear, disasters and offenses are wiped out, and blessings are produced. The sprinkling is all-pervasive. She can rescue any person who is in trouble.
In her hand, the willow branch, Through the countless autumns.
Among the hands of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, there is a willow branch hand. When she dips the willow branch in sweet dew water and then sprinkles the water, the place is immediately purified. All demonic obstacles and all troubles are gone, and everything is pure and clear. Wherever Guanshiyin Bodhisattva sprinkles sweet dew, that place will be peaceful and untroubled. The willow branch has been there for countless autumns, for who knows how many years.
Prayers depart a thousand hearts; In a thousand hearts she answers.
Guanshiyin Bodhisattva doesn't rescue only one person who is praying to her in one place. However many people pray to him, be it a thousand, ten thousand, or a hundred million, she will answer their prayers. She will rescue that many beings from their woes and bring them happiness.
Sailing the sea of suffering, Crossing people over.
Our world is like a sea of suffering. In this boundless sea of suffering, Guanshiyin Bodhisattva constantly acts as a ferry to take people across.
One could never finish speaking of the wonderful functioning of Guanyin Bodhisattva's spiritual powers and of her adorned features. However, now at least we have a general idea and know a little bit about Guanyin Bodhisattva, so in the future we will be able to draw near to and learn from Guanyin Bodhisattva. We should emulate Guanyin Bodhisattva's kindness and compassion in manifesting universal doors to teach and transform living beings.
At this point, I will tell everyone a true story that has come to my mind. I've told this story before, but since some people haven't heard it before, I will retell it for their sakes.
Once there was a merchant from Shangyu county of China. This merchant, who engaged in all kinds of trade, believed in Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, recited Guanshiyin Bodhisattva's name very sincerely, bowed in homage to Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, and recited Guanshiyin Bodhisattva's Universal Door Chapter. One night, Guanshiyin Bodhisattva came to him in a dream and said, "A disaster is about to befall you. Remember this verse that I'm going to tell you now, for it will come true in the future." The verse went:
When you come to a bridge, don't stop the boat. When you see oil, smear some on your head. One peck of grain yields three pints of rice: Flies will cluster on the tip of the brush.
After saying these lines, Guanshiyin Bodhisattva vanished. The merchant remembered the four lines very clearly.
One day, he loaded his boat with many goods, intending to travel from city to city to sell them. As the boat went down the river, it began to rain heavily. Just then the boat was approaching a large bridge, similar in size to the Oakland Bridge. The oarsman planned to stop the boat under the bridge to wait out the rain, so the goods would not get soaked. The merchant thought, "Oh! The Bodhisattva said, 'When you come to a bridge, don't stop the boat.' So we'd better not stop the boat under this bridge!" Then he quickly told the oarsman, "Keep on rowing. We can't stop here." After they moved the boat out from under the bridge, the bridge collapsed. If it had collapsed when they were still under it, then both they and the goods would have tumbled into the Yangzte River and that would have been the end of them. The merchant said, "Guanyin Bodhisattva is truly efficacious! Since I didn't stop the boat under the bridge, I missed being caught in that disaster."
When he got home, he bowed in gratitude to Guanyin Bodhisattva. As he was bowing, one of the oil lamps on the altar fell down, spilling the oil all over the ground. "Ah!" thought the merchant, "The verse said, 'When you see oil, smear some on your head.' This must be the oil." So he smeared some of the oil on his head. At night, he went to bed and fell asleep. He woke up at midnight and smelled the rank odor of blood. Becoming wide awake, he took a look—oh! Someone had cut off his wife's head. His wife had been murdered, and all the blood had stained the bedsheets red. At midnight the man rushed over to the home of his wife's parents and reported what had happened. He told them, "I don't know how it happened, but your daughter died tonight. I don't know who killed her."
His parents-in-law went to take a look and said, "Who killed her? You must have come up with this plot to kill her and take her money. You're a Buddhist but your wife wasn't, so you two must have had a difference of opinions. You were upset with her, so you used that pretext to murder her, and then you came and told us." So saying, they reported him to the authorities.
The county magistrate inquired into the case but could not figure out what had happened, so he decided to pronounce the merchant guilty of murder. As he picked up the brush to write the verdict, a swarm of flies suddenly converged on the tip of his brush, covering the brushtip completely. The merchant said, "Oh! How strange! This is really very peculiar: 'Flies will cluster on the tip of the brush.'"
那个县官就问他:“你说什么奇怪、奇怪的？” "What are you talking about? What's so strange and peculiar?" the magistrate asked.
"I believe in Guanyin Bodhisattva. Guanyin Bodhisattva came to me in a dream and told me four lines of verse, three of which have come true. That's why I think it's very strange," replied the merchant.
"How did those three lines go?" asked the magistrate.
The merchant replied, "The Bodhisattva told me, 'When you encounter a bridge, don't stop the boat.' When I was going to sell my goods, my boat passed under a bridge just as it started to rain. The oarsman wanted to stop, but I told him not to stop there. Right after the boat passed under the bridge, the bridge collapsed. If I had stopped the boat there, it would have been smashed to pieces by the bridge and we would have lost our lives. That's one line. Guanyin Bodhisattva also said, 'When you see oil, smear some on your head.' When I was bowing to the Buddhas at home, one of the oil lamps on the altar fell to the ground, spilling the oil. I rubbed some of that oil on my head. That night I slept until midnight, when I woke up and found my own wife murdered.
The Bodhisattva also said, 'One peck of grain and three pints of rice: Flies will cluster on the tip of the brush.' I don't know what 'one peck of grain yields three pints of rice' means, but just now when you were going to write out the verdict, all those flies swarmed onto your brush tip. So the line, 'Flies will cluster on the tip of the brush' also came true."
Hearing this, the magistrate thought, "Oh! So that's what's going on. Three lines have come true already, and there's only one left: 'One peck of grain yields three pints of rice.'" He looked into the case with his advisors and deduced that the murderer's surname must be either Mi ("rice") or Kang ("chaff"). A private detective was sent to the village to search for such a person, and indeed, there was a man named Kang Chi. If a peck of grain contains three pints of rice, then there must be seven pints of chaff. And so his name was Kang Chi ("chaff seven").
When the man was brought in for questioning, it turned out he and the merchant's wife had been doing unspeakable things. The two of them had planned to kill the merchant so that they could live together. That night when Kang Chi went to commit the murder, he had felt the oil on the merchant's hair with his hand. He reasoned that the oily hair must belong to the woman—only a woman would grease her hair, not a man—so he beheaded the other person, the one who didn't have greasy hair. After the county magistrate had questioned him and gotten all the facts straight, he sentenced Kang Chi.
After that incident, the merchant reflected, "Ah! The causes and effects that govern the affairs of the world are really devastating." He then renounced the householder's life to cultivate the Way, relinquishing all worldly things. From this story, we can see that as long as one sincerely believes in Guanyin Bodhisattva, the Bodhisattva will respond. Whenever a disaster happens to you, he will come to your rescue.