I started reciting Guan Yin Bodhisattva’s name two weeks ago. I try to be single-minded in my recitation in the four comportments of sitting, walking, lying or standing just like Amitabha Buddha. Late at night, I use the recitation beads for over thirty minutes. I can concentrate pretty well on the Bodhisattva’s name even though I worship Medicine Master Buddha. In the morning, I recite the Medicine Master Mantra while at night I recite Guan Yin. Is this appropriate, Master?
I am very respectful toward the Buddhas. I do not know why when I am reciting the Buddha’s name, my head is full of bad thoughts. I would be thinking badly of certain individuals, or dark and menacing images would appear in my mind… not to mention other things that I do not feel appropriate to bring up… Fortunately, I know how to deal with them. I let go of these thoughts and do not fight them. I simply concentrate on the Bodhisattva’s name, allowing those thoughts to pass through my mind and eventually they leave on their own. Is my approach correct?
When reciting the Buddha’s name in the four comportments and improper thoughts arise, I believe that the Buddha does not reproach us because of our heavy karmas. Nevertheless, I feel that I fall short as my inadequacies interfere with my cultivation toward the Buddhas. What I can do to eliminate those defiled thoughts?
As per Shakyamuni Buddha’s Golden Mouth, whoever is in difficulty can pray to Guan Yin Bodhisattva, Earth Store Bodhisattva, Medicine Master Buddha … to get help for oneself and other living beings, is that right? Furthermore, Ven. Xuan Hua explained in the Earth Store Sutra that those who recite the Six Great Bright Characters of Guan Yin Bodhisattva will obtain responses from Earth Store Bodhisattva. He will bless them with happiness, security and bliss because he likes Living Beings to recite Guan Yin’s Six Great Bright Characters. I am not sure that I understand what that means!
I hope that you will clarify it for me and other Buddhist disciples in order to help us unfold our wisdom! I wish you good health and bliss.
Let me try to answer your questions in the order received.
Yes, you are doing just fine. Please continue with your efforts in the four comportments.
Being respectful is indeed the necessary first step before we can cultivate transcendental Dharmas. What you are experiencing is called “false thinking:” unwanted thoughts that emerge when we cultivate. Your approach is right on. Just do not engage: be aware of them and do not follow them. That way, they will ultimately lessen in frequency and eventually die down.
After you practice, put your palms together and repent for those defiled thoughts that arose. Say that you would like to repent for the false thinking and spell out the thoughts of which you are ashamed. In time, these errant thoughts will die down. This is called “practicing patience.” Patiently endure the harassment and discomfort without giving up.
Yes, you can ask for help from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for yourself or for others when you are in trouble. For example, I have personally asked for help from Guan Yin twice so far. Great Master Xuan Hua never tells lies. You can believe everything he said, assuming that his teachings are properly translated. Furthermore, unlike us, the Bodhisattvas are not jealous of each other. If you practice a Guan Yin Dharma Door, Earth Store Bodhisattva really likes it and would never hesitate to help you when he has the chance. Similarly, Guan Yin would never get upset if Earth Store Bodhisattva helped you.
Judging from your approach and accomplishments thus far, you do have good roots!
Therefore, let me offer a few more unsolicited pointers:
- Learn to sit in full lotus when you recite.
- If possible, recite for one hour instead of half an hour.
- It’s very important for you to continue to read Master Xuan Hua’s books.
- Bow to the Buddha for half an hour each day.
- If possible, read my explanation of the Bequeathed Teachings Sutra. It’s available on our web site. It more thoroughly explains the process of cultivation.
- If you can, get my Chan Handbook. It’s available on Kindle and CreateSpace. It will help you acquire the fundamentals of cultivation and it will answer many basic questions which are common to all beginners.