Reciting Earth Store Bodhisattva's Name Sincerely Can Eradicate Karmic Obstacles
A Talk Given by the Ven. Master Hsuan Hua at the City of 10,000 Buddhas
It is said, “A straight mind is a place for awakening.” In other words, we must be honest and truthful in any situation, whether you are a Sanghan or a lay person. Do not lie, do not be an opportunist and take great risks for self-benefit, do not cut corners, and do not engage in flattery. We must have a truthful mind in all circumstances, instead of a mind that makes great comprises in order to accommodate others. To have a truthful mind means to cultivate the Path of Bodhi, and to never harm or obstruct others. If we harm or obstruct others, we create causes for negative retribution. When our retribution is upon us, if we don’t repent and instead continue to deceive others as much as we can, we will be creating even more negative karma, which is difficult to eradicate.
This time (1982) when I went to Asia, I met a young woman named Miss Wang in Penang . In her past lives, she really liked to eat bear paws and monkey brains. She cracked open the heads of monkeys to drink their brain matters. She also cut off paws of bears, pan-fried them, and ate them. Because of these past karmic offenses, she is born as a woman in this life. However, instead of correcting her mistakes and starting anew, she continued to create negative karma. She even killed two human beings by having two abortions. These two little ghosts of her aborted fetuses summoned all the ghosts of living beings that she had ever harmed in her past lives. Therefore, she ended up with cancer.
During my visit in Penang , this young woman brought forth a great resolve for repentance and her cancer went into remission. Unfortunately, about two weeks later she reverted back to her old ways, renewed her relationship with her boyfriend, and even engaged in acts not in accord with the Dharma. Shortly after that, her cancer came back. Her illness was caused by her karmic offenses. If she truly repented of her past mistakes and reformed, she had a one in ten thousand chance of getting well. Otherwise, there is no medicine that can cure her, and even the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can’t save her. It is said, “Offenses arise from the mind; use the mind to repent.” If we don’t repent and reform with a truthful mind, our karmic obstacles would return. In Ms. Wang’s case, since she did not truly repent and reform, she had a relapse of her cancer.
She should have written to me when she had the relapse. If she had told me the truth, perhaps there was something that could be done then. Instead, she lied to me and told me she was coming to the U.S. Before I left Malaysia , I instructed her that after she got better and could afford a plane ticket, she can come to America and leave the home life to cultivate. In other words, she was supposed to come to American when she was cured. However, this young woman came to America only after her cancer came back; she came to die at the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. It was only when her illness was beyond medical help that she got on a plane with great difficulty, and arrived in the U.S. on the 24th of last month. With this kind of trickery, her illness will be even more difficult to cure. Since her behavior is completely deceptive, dishonest and disingenuous, even the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas won’t be able to help her.
She is in hospital now, and she has a 0.5 in ten thousand chance of survival. This evening, let’s sincerely transfer merit to her, hoping that she will recover. Even though she deceived me, deceived this place for awakening, and in a sense deceived everyone here, we all have compassion. She came from so far away, hoping that she could be saved from the threat of death. If she could be saved, we try our best; if she could not be saved, we still try our best. Our collective effort is powerful, as we sincerely help her to eradicate her karmic obstacles. Let’s follow the rhythm of the wooden fish, and recite Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name on her behalf.
When we recite Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name, her karmic obstacles should have been erased. However, as her past karmic offenses are being eradicated, her new karmic offenses are accumulating as fast. Indeed, we are helping her to eradicate endless karmic offenses that she was born with. I think if we want to save this person, we need to begin a seven-day Earth Store Bodhisattva session tomorrow. Let’s recite the Bodhisattva’s name sincerely and transfer the merit to her, in the hope that she will recover. Whether you want to participate in the session is entirely up to you. However, all of us should use our upmost sincerity. When we help others with a willing heart, the Boddhas and Bodhisattvas definitely will help us, too.
Today, we make a resolve together to transfer merit to this young woman. Did her relatives ask us to do so? No, they didn’t. However, even if they don’t know, we are still transferring merit to her. As Buddhists, we don’t need to be asked before we help others. We feel sorry for this young woman, so we try our best to help her. We are relying on the awesome power of Guan Yin Bodhisattva and Earth Store Bodhisattva. It would be great if she regains consciousness; if she doesn't, it’s because of her heavy karmic offenses. Either way, we try our best. With this goal in mind, all of us should work hard!
Nowadays, there are more and more calamities in the world, while fewer and fewer people cultivate the Path of Bodhi. In addition, there are more and more individuals who break the precepts. Why is the world getting worse day-by-day? We should examine this fundamental question. The cause of this problem is that people are not upholding the five precepts, especially the precept against sexual misconduct. Men and women mistakenly think that satisfying their sexual desires is a type of pleasure. As it is said, they “turn their backs on enlightenment and combine with the dust,” and “mistake the thief for their son.” They treat suffering as pleasure, black as white, and truth as falsehood. They are so muddled that they act recklessly and improperly, as if they were up-side down instead of right-side up. In addition, instead of knowing how to protect their precious spirit and vitality, young men and women do things everyday that end up hurting themselves. Man doesn’t know how to behave like a proper man, and woman doesn’t know how to behave like a proper woman; all they know is how to satisfy their lust.
In these days, male and female students, especially those in most famous universities, live together and engage in wanton acts. These actions often lead to unwanted pregnancies. To prevent unwanted pregnancies, contraceptives were invented. People think using contraceptives is better than dealing with problems associated with unwanted pregnancies. Actually, using contraceptives is improper because it goes against the biological function of sexual intercourse, and thus is a type of karmic offense. In addition, those who invented contraceptives end up hurting so many young men and women, because these youth are more likely to engage in sexual misconduct when they think they don’t have to worry about the possibility of pregnancy.
In addition to using contraceptives, men and women use abortion to deal with unwanted pregnancies that result from their lascivious acts. By having an abortion, they create a more serious offense – an offense of killing. Namely, while using contraceptives is an indirect form of killing, having an abortion is a direct act of killing. All these killings increase the amount of resentment and enmity in the world. This mounting negative energy, in turn, results in strange diseases. When you investigate further, you will find that if men and women are not breaking the code of moral conduct left and right, there wouldn’t be so many strange diseases with unusual and inexplicable symptoms that are incurable.
Now, in addition to cancer, there are various other illnesses that are hard or impossible to treat. All these problems stem from first breaking the precept against sexual misconduct, then the precept against killing. These improper acts are followed by breaking the precepts against stealing, lying and taking of intoxicants, respectively. These five precepts are the most important rules in our lives. Therefore, everyone should uphold the five precepts. When the Wheel-Turning Sagely King was still in the world teaching and transforming living beings, everyone upheld the five precepts, followed and practiced the Ten Wholesome Deeds, and ate vegetarian food. At that time, there were no natural disasters, and people enjoyed a lot of blessings. Many people had spiritual powers and opened their Five Eyes. In contrast, nowadays, the moral standard is deteriorating day-by-day. This deterioration in human character is causing the world to deteriorate, too.
Do you want know why there are so many people with cancer? This situation is created by the karma of killing. Think about it, by having abortions, you are terminating lives even before they have a chance to be born. Under these circumstances, wouldn’t the enmity of these unborn fetuses be incredibly great?! In summary, the world and its people are getting worse day-by-day. All this is due to the karma of killing.
At the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, everyone understands the cycle of cause and effect. Therefore, let’s reduce the negative karma in the world, so there will be fewer disasters, less suffering, and fewer diseases. Let’s take helping Miss Wang as an opportunity to recite Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name earnestly and sincerely. Recitation of Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name can reduce living beings’ negative karma, and let their enemies, relatives and creditors from limitless past lives be reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. This recitation will also let all of our enemies, relative and creditors be reborn in the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss.
Let’s take this opportunity to recite Earth Bodhisattva’s name with earnestness and sincerity. While we are helping others who are sick or suffering, we are also crossing over our parents, ancestors, enemies, relatives, and creditor from our every past life, and allow them to leave suffering and attain bliss, and end birth and death.
With every ounce of effort, there is a corresponding amount of harvest. When you recite Earth Store Bodhisattva’s name with earnestness and sincerity, Earth Store Bodhisattva is touched. Knowing that you are reciting his name with such sincerity, Earth Store Bodhisattva will eradicate your karmic obstacles that are hindering your realization of Bodhi. He also will help you cultivate the Path of Bodhi, progress on this Path without demonic interference, quickly eradicate karmic obstacles, quickly leave suffering, and be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss . Realizing all these benefits is one of the main reasons for participating in the Earth Store Bodhisattva session. So, let everyone be true and sincere, and cross over our parents, ancestors, enemies, relatives, and creditors from our past lives. Let them use this opportunity to leave suffering and attain bliss. Don’t let time pass in vain!
Although Miss Wang created much unwholesome karma in the past, she brought forth a great revolve for repentance in Penang . In front of a Dharma Assembly consisted of more than two thousand people, she sincerely discussed her unwholesome deeds, and asked for the compassionate aid of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and the Venerable Master as she resolved to repent and reform. At that time, her cancer went into remission. However, she reverted back to her old ways soon after her resolve, and used deceitful means to come to the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. Since she was committing more and more karmic offenses, it was difficult to eradicate her negative retributions. Accordingly, even though the Fourfold Assembly in the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas organized two Earth Store Bodhisattva sessions on her behalf and many doctors tried to save her, she passed away several weeks later. We can say that Ms. Wang was using her life’s story to speak the Dharma and let it be a warning to all of us!
Innocent Little Ghosts