The Earth Store Recitation Session starts today. Every year from the fifteenth of the seventh month (Ullambana Dharma Assembly) to the thirtieth of that month (Birthday of Earth Store Bodhisattva) on the lunar calendar, we have two consecutive seven-day Earth Store Bodhisattva recita¬tion sessions to rescue the lonely souls and wandering ghosts and to pray for world peace. That is a duty the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas should perform.
I hope everyone will recite the holy name “Namo Earth Store Bodhisattva” with concentration. When you recite to a state wherein mind and body correspond with each other, surely you will have a response. You cannot have your mind on two things. You must concentrate all your attention and energy to recite. If you do not recite with utmost sincerity, then although I can’t say you won’t have any merit and virtue at all, there will be a lot less. If you can recite single-mindedly, you can become one with the holy name of Earth Store Bodhisattva. When you reach the state where the recitation continues automatically even when you aren’t reciting, your mind will naturally be pure and at ease, and free of all afflictions.
Cultivators can’t be selfish. Don’t have an attitude of “reserving your talent and not using it to serve your country.” When there’s good food, it should be shared by everyone; when we get comfortable clothes, everyone should have the same to wear; when we get a nice place to live, everyone should live in it; when we attain positive responses, they should be shared with and offered to everyone. All merit and virtue should be transferred to the living beings of the Dharma Realm. Otherwise, it would be selfish.
If you attain positive responses, you should offer them to all. If you get undesirable responses, you should also make them clear to all. Don’t brag about having extraordinary responses just to make yourself look good; on the other hand, if you do have a wonderful response don’t keep it to yourself. People who act in those two ways are motivated by selfishness.
Now let us reflect for a moment: What is our duty to Buddhism? Should we ignore the work that is to be done, pushing it back and forth among ourselves so that no one ends up doing it?
Every one of us should resolve to consider Buddhism our own responsibility. The rise and fall of Buddhism is everyone’s responsibility. You cannot say, “It’s someone else’s job, not mine. It has nothing to do with me!”
We should be willing to sacrifice everything, even our lives, for the sake of Buddhism. That is the spirit of a true Buddhist. Do not be a fake Buddhist－one who uses the Buddha’s name only to get food and clothing. To be totally unselfish requires that you do everything you can to protect the Triple Jewel.
Avoid constantly worrying about suffering a loss or being cheated. Don’t think highly of yourself and consider yourself so special. Be prepared to forget yourself for the sake of the Dharma; then you deserve to be called a Buddhist.
A talk given on August 25, 1983,
during an Earth Store Recitation Session
at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas