The Story of "Dou Shu Peng" told by Venerable Master Hsuan Hua
I will now tell a koan [public record].
There was once a man who recited the Great Compassion Mantra for about 12 years. He had recited it every day at least 108 times a day, and sometimes many more times, without getting any advantage from it at all. The mantra had not brought him food to eat or clothes to wear, but he continued to believe in the mantra and to recite it.
Once, while traveling, he stopped for the night at an inn. The innkeeper was a thief, but not one who went out to steal He just sat in his inn and waited for rich guests to come by. He would give them a fine room, a strong dose of drugged wine, and then, in the middle of the night, when they were soundly asleep, he would sneak into their rooms to rob them and sometimes even kill them.
The man who recited the Great Compassion Mantra believe in the Buddha, and so he did not drink the wine. He avoided the drugged wine and slept lightly. At about one o'clock in the morning, he heard someone slowly open the door and sneak into his room. Opening his eyes just a crack, he saw the glint of a butcher's shiny blade flash in the moonlight. "Someone means to kill me," he thought, paralyzed with fear.
At that very moment, there was a knock on the door. The would-be murderer quickly put the blade behind his back and went to the door. "Who is it?" he whispered.
"My name is Dou Shu Peng," came the reply.
Peeking through the keyhole, he innkeeper saw a large man dressed in a policeman's uniform. "What do you want?" he asked nervously.
"I've come to visit my friend who is staying in this room. Won't you please tell him to stop by my house tomorrow morning for breakfast?"
"Yes, I'll do that," said the innkeeper, and the policeman left. Since the man the innkeeper was about to kill had a policeman for a friend, and since this policeman expected his friend for breakfast the next morning, the innkeeper decided he had best do no murdering that night.
The next morning the innkeeper told the guest, "A friend of yours named Dou Shu Peng was by last night. He came to invite you to his house for breakfast."
"Dou Shu Peng..." said the guest, and then he remembered that in the Great Compassion Mantra there is the line, "DOU SHU PENG".
"Yes!" he exclaimed, "I do have such a friend. I was just on my way to meet him."
So he dwelt in a murderer's den but because he recited the Great Compassion Mantra, he escaped unharmed. So don't think that reciting the Great Compassion Mantra is useless. Wait until your very life is in danger, then the Mantra will manifest its wonderful use.
Now your life is not in danger and you don't need the Mantra's protection. So just recite it and don't worry about whether or not it brings you food or clothes.