Are we aware? This planet Earth is in trouble. The new pandemic Covid-19 swept the world ruthlessly. Many people lost their lives in this pandemic. Hundreds of billions of locusts swarmed through Africa and resulted in food shortages. We need to have crisis awareness. To do so, we need to solidify our Dharmic practice and foundation. Furthermore, we need to apply our knowledge of life. We should recite the Great Compassion Mantra (Long Dharani) properly and diligently. This is the mean that Guan Yin (Avalokiteshvara) utilizes in liberating sentient beings. The bodhisattva still carries out her activities with this mantra. Our fortunate merits, causes, and conditions require the blessing of Guan Yin. The blessing of the Long Dharani is particularly effective and responsive. Let’s take a moment to reflect. How much time have we spent on Dharma in our entire life? Are we upholding the same exertion in Dharmic practice and traveling on the path of the bodhisattva? Together, let's practice the Long Dharani without any concerns with reputation, benefits, and everything else. The only goal is to set sentient beings free from suffering.
In this world, the connections among people and matters are changing moment by moment. They are transient and can vanish anytime. One might be well and dandy one day but "goodbye" the next day, right? Every moment is changing. What is the most important thing among all the ever-changing factors? Dharma practice. Abide and settle down in this very moment of thought. We must strive to abide within this very thought or intention – whether we practice with a master, Guan Yin, or for the liberation in the Pure Land (Sukhavati). We must put effort regularly. Eventually, we can be free from suffering and obtain the ultimate happiness. We do not want to stay tangled up in samsara, right? Cyclic existence is too suffering. Thence, we must strive and exert in Dharmic practice, correct?
Dharma practice is the learning of being free from suffering and obtaining the ultimate happiness. May oneself and others of karmic connections attain the same result. That’s why we recite the Long Dharani and the name of Amitabha – these are the accumulations to transcend birth and death. Together, we recite the name of Amitabha and mantras. As our diligence persists, we'd be confident. Some people have no confidence in living and dying. “Where do we go after death? How panic would I be in my last moment.” What are we panicking about? Not knowing where to go.
Therefore, we should regard Guan Yin as an emulation. When we're alive, we should follow her practice, aspire, and strive to do well. Not only that, but we also continue the same pursuit after death. "Whatever task Guan Yin might assign me; I must do it no matter what!” That’s why it’d be great to at least recite the Long Dharani 108 times in the morning and night. Additionally, the name of Amitabha should be practiced twenty thousand times.
I have a student who began practicing Chan with me back in Yilan. He has made it a daily practice. For the rest of the day, he would recite the Long Dharani. He had a near-death experience a few years ago. I encouraged him, "The Long Dharani is the most effective and assuring mantra. Make it a habit to recite it!” Nowadays, he’d recite the Dharani for eight or nine hundred times per day. His exertion is impressive. He is ready to leave this world at any time with these accumulations. So, I’d encourage you all to practice the mantra and the name of Amitabha with me. Fear would no longer be a concern. We wouldn’t panic by the time of our death.
This world or planet Earth that we are living in today is too chaotic and scary. We must be prepared with exertion and carefulness. May we be free from suffering and obtain the ultimate happiness. Namo Amitabha!