Repentance and Reward
(Chenian Memorial Series No. 23)
Dr. Yutang Lin
Repentance and Reward
The title of this article should have been as follows: Repentance and Paying back out of Gratitude. In Chinese there is a term Bao En for "paying back out of gratitude." But in English I don't know of a corresponding word.
As a mixture of gratitude and resentment, human relations are often rather complex. How could one disentangle from such webs, induce harmony, and even sublimate relationships to the cultivation and application of compassion? Rather than blaming others, one had better do one's utmost. Blaming others seldom finds willing recipients; it would only enhance conflict without helping the situation. Further, the grudge thus created would be carried in both parties' minds and causing long-lasting suffering to all involved. Doing one's utmost would maintain harmony and peace of mind. Furthermore, when circumstances change in the future, there might be opportunities for clearing the obstacles and renewing relationships.
Doing one's utmost consists of two aspects: how one conducts oneself and how one relates to others.
As to how one conducts oneself, rather than being self-righteous, self-arrogant and self-boasting, one had better be humble and open-minded, reflective of one's behaviors in order to improve and achieve peace and harmony. Therefore, in this respect repentance comes first and foremost.
As to how one relates to others, rather than being faultfinding, resentful, angry, envious and jealous, one had better be grateful with the intention to pay back kindness, and practice virtuous actions so as to diminish discord. In this way one could hope to avoid entanglements and sustain peace of mind so that one could actively contribute toward doing good. Therefore, in this respect reward, in the sense of paying back out of gratitude, is essential and superior.
Repentance consists of several layers. They are described below in their natural order.
A. Recognizing One's Fault
A prerequisite to repentance is to know what the mistake is. Nevertheless, relative to the various circumstances and the particulars of locality and time what would be the standard to base upon for such judgments, and how should the weighing of intentions and circumstances be adjusted, are always complicated and difficult to decide. Therefore, I suggest that we start with the principles of "finding peace of mind" and "understanding ignorance." If one's behavior causes disturbance of mind, then there must be some impropriety involved or guilt felt toward someone. One should amend after the causes are uncovered through careful reflection. Our mistakes are often difficult to recognize by ourselves or are committed unintentionally. Therefore, when we try to amend situations we should not stop at wrong doings that have been recognized, but extend the scope to include mistakes that have not been discerned yet. It is easy to find fault with others but difficult to realize one's going astray. Only by not being prejudiced into self-righteousness, regularly remaining humble in one's dealings with the world, and keeping a constant reflection on one's behaviors, could one recognize one's mistakes.
B. Admitting the Blame
Recognizing one's mistakes does not imply admission of blame. One who is sincere in making progress on the spiritual path should boldly admit responsibilities. Even if it is not to reveal the matters in public, at least one should admit the guilt to oneself. This step is also a practice in facing the reality instead of remaining behind the self-created pretentious fa蓷de.
C. Willing to Amend
After admitting one's fault one should earnestly seek ways to amend or improve. Furthermore, one should resolve not to repeat the same or similar mistakes again. This would involve long-term trials in changing circumstances and perseverance in character development.
D. Practicing Repentance
To amend mistakes, in addition to regular worldly ways, it would be best to adopt Buddhist repentance practices in order to sublimate and complete the process. Worldly means are rather limited. The damages and regrets caused by some mistakes are often irreversible and beyond repair. Not to mention the unsatisfactory nature of worldly rewards or compensations that fairness is hard to achieve, and ensuing disputes and entanglements are often unavoidable. Life is transient; how could one attempt to amend each and every past mistakes or failure? Buddhist practices are conducted in light of the all-encompassing view of the Dharmadhatu; no time or place is excluded, and all karmic hindrances of all sentient beings are included in the prayer for emancipation. Therefore, within the practice all known or unrecognized personal karmic hindrances are worked on toward their extinction. Adopt any Buddhist practice and dedicate its merits toward repentance, then it becomes a practice of repentance. Specifically designed for repentance are there many rituals. Ordinarily one could practice repentant prostration according to the Thirty-five Buddhas' Name Repentance Ritual. It can be found in the Chinese Tripitaka and is also included in my Chinese book, "Lan Xiang Ji."
Reward, in the sense of paying back out of gratitude, also consists of several layers. Let us enumerate them in their natural order.
A. Appreciating Others' Kindness
In daily life we are accustomed to enjoying peace and stability that we overlook the kindness of law-abiding and peace-loving people underlying such eventless social order. Ordinary people would be glad over taking advantage in occasional gains of profits; however, once obstacles encountered, soon enough they would forget the kindness received. As a result, people are led by self-interests in their dealings, employ tricky tactics at the expense of others, forgetful of others' kindness and act against righteousness, cheat and rob, and so forth. To be free from such miserable situations, one should reflect objectively so as to appreciate that, people are mutually dependent for their subsistence, and that, for co-existence to be possible society needs to be sustained by moral codes and rules of conduct. Only then would one willingly become a law-abiding person. Disputes are of no help except to increase worries and sorrows. Therefore, forgiveness is chosen. Thereby clear and peaceful mind may be achieved, and others' various kinds of goodness may be appreciated.
B. Remembering Others' Kindness
When others' kindness is appreciated, it is natural that a sense of gratitude would arise. Nevertheless, gratitude is a feeling that often fled away as thoughts turn. If there were a conflict, gratitude would often be put aside. Therefore, it is a rare trait of character that others' kindness is kept in remembrance. Firstly one needs to forgive past grudges so as to maintain a clear and even state of mind, and develop the view that prefers moral obligation to gains, in order to build up the character of constantly remembering others' kindness.
C. Intending to Return Kindness
Sincerely keeping in mind others' kindness naturally would inspire a desire to return kindness in some way. Alas, rewarding others' kindness is not an easy matter in many cases. As time and tide changes and human relationships evolve, sometimes it is no longer possible to pay back in any way. The kindness in raising up or saving life could hardly be rewarded in kind. Perhaps close ones had become distant or adversary, benefactors had become thieves and robbers, consequently there is no way to pay back. Even to the extent that, if one were insistent in paying back, there could be more harms done than good. The limited and limiting conditions of human existence are such that difficulties are often piled up layer over layer and rendering no route out for a choice. What if the benefactor needs no rewarding or accepts no paying back, how should one manage to express gratitude? If our views were confined to worldly ways, then it would be rather difficult to find perfect and just solutions. It would also be inevitable that our gestures of gratitude could yield unintended entanglements.
D. Rewarding out of Gratitude
In view of the above considerations, in addition to doing one's utmost in the usual worldly ways of rewarding others, a far more superior approach unconfined by worldly conditions is to reward others through Dharma practices and services. In this way it is no longer limited to personal favors and relations but in light of the kindness and favor of all sentient beings. Furthermore, the rewarding is on a scale of limitless time and space, and pertains to the cultivation of wisdom life and realization of ultimate liberation from suffering for all sentient beings.
Based on the above, how one conducts oneself and how one relates to others in doing one's utmost centers around repentance and reward. They can be further unified by the following reflection: Understanding repentance, and hence making amends for past mistakes and striving toward goodness would be an inactive way to reward benefactors because one would not remain unworthy of others' kindness. Furthermore, even if one would like to pay back kindness in kind, were one still of heavy karmic debt, then one's actions might bring unintended and undesirable consequences for others, consequently one could not really achieve the rewarding. Therefore, unless one practices repentance to clear oneself of all karmic hindrances, one could not really reward kindness out of gratitude. Repentance and reward have inseparable connections in this light. Ultimately, both could be perfected only through engaging in Dharma practices and services; therefore, they can be unified perfectly in this way. Through complete devotion and engaging in Dharma practices and services one repents all karmic hindrances for all beings and rewards all beings for all their kindness and favors. Thus, one not only transcends the sphere of personal karmas and the cycling of favors and debts but also makes positive contributions toward spiritual uplifting for all and lives a life of warmth and brightness.
Written in Chinese on February 8, 2001
Translated on February 19, 2001
El Cerrito, California
Thirty-five Buddhas Repentance Ritual
The Repentance Ritual of Paying Homage
to the Names of Thirty-five Buddhas as Spoken by the Buddha
From the Chinese version by the Tripitaka Master Ven. Bu Kong
Translated by Dr. Yutang Lin
[Note: While performing prostration to one of the thirty-five Buddhas listed below keep repeating that Buddha's name. Do prostration to each and every Buddha in the list according to the sequence given. Each Buddha's name is preceded by "Namo" which means "I take refuge in and pay homage to." After finishing prostration to all thirty-five Buddhas, repeat sincerely the remaining text of the ritual.]
Namo Sakyamuni Buddha
Namo Vajra-firm Destroyer Buddha
Namo Gem Flame Buddha
Namo Dragon King of Ease Buddha
Namo Diligent Brave Army Buddha
Namo Diligent Brave Joy Buddha
Namo Gem Fire Buddha
Namo Gem Moonlight Buddha
Namo Non-vacuous View Buddha
Namo Gem Moon Buddha
Namo No Filth Buddha
Namo Filth-free Buddha
Namo Generous Giving Buddha
Namo Pure Conduct Buddha
Namo Pure Giving Buddha
Namo King of Water Buddha
Namo God of Water Buddha
Namo Skillful Auspicious Buddha
Namo Boundless Awe-inspiring Virtue Buddha
Namo Sandalwood Auspicious Buddha
Namo Light Auspicious Buddha
Namo Worry-free Auspicious Buddha
Namo Narayana Auspicious Buddha
Namo Flower Auspicious Buddha
Namo Lotus Light Playing Supernatural Powers Buddha
Namo Wealth Auspicious Buddha
Namo Idea Auspicious Buddha
Namo Well-known Epithet Auspicious Buddha
Namo King of Imperial Banner Buddha
Namo Combat Victory Buddha
Namo Brave Vigorous Auspicious Buddha
Namo Brave Vigorous Advance Buddha
Namo All-shining Grandeur Auspicious Buddha
Namo Gem Lotus Roaming Buddha
Namo Gem Lotus Wondrous Abiding King of Mountains Buddha
All such Buddhas, who appear, preside and roam in all the worlds in the ten directions, may you watch over me with great compassion. In this life or other lives, since time without beginning, a wide variety of sinful actions have been committed either by myself or by others with my approval or instigation. For example, stealing or robbing Buddhist possessions or the belongings of monks and nuns either by myself or by others with my approval or instigation. Or, committing the five unending sins or the ten non-virtuous types of karmas either by myself or by others with my approval or instigation. Such karmic hindrance covers and restricts both body and mind, resulting in birth in eight kinds of disadvantageous environments. They are: Falling into hells, animal realms or hungry ghost realms; or in areas without Dharma and races that are antagonistic to the Dharma; or in long-lasting heavenly realms that have no mental activities; or born as disabled humans; or adopting wrong views to insist on no causality; or disliking the appearance of Buddhas in the world. Now in front of all Buddhas, world-honored ones, who possess all-encompassing wisdom, possess five kinds of eyes, attain realization of reality in exact measure, know and see, I sincerely repent over all such karmic hindrances, and dare not conceal any. May my Sila observance be redeemed to its original perfection. Furthermore, may all Buddhas, world-honored ones, accept and take care of me and be my witness. If in this life or other lives, since my transmigration from time without beginning, have I ever given animals one ball of food, or sustained one rule of pure conduct, or practiced pure conducts and cultivated roots of goodness, or cultivated in small measure the good roots of unsurpassable wisdom, then all such merits are to be gathered and counted together so as to dedicate all of them toward the unsurpassable right and all-encompassing enlightenment, just as all Buddhas in their most supreme and unsurpassable dedication of merits would do in the past, present and future.
Repent for all sins.
Rejoice over all merits.
Pleading to all Buddhas
For attaining utmost wisdom.
In the past, present and future
Honored one among humans,
Immeasurable ocean of merits,
To thee I prostrate in homage.
Narayana: a god with mighty strength.
Five unending sins: patricide, matricide, murdering Arhat, intentionally causing Buddha's body to bleed, and causing discord in Sangha.
Ten non-virtuous types of karmas: killing, stealing or robbing, sexual misconduct, lying, divisive speech, abusive speech, gossip, greed, anger, and wrong views.
Five kinds of eyes: flesh eyes, heavenly eyes, wisdom eyes, Dharma eyes, and Buddha eyes.
Sila: rules of conduct.
In my English translation above notes have been added by me at the beginning and at the end of the ritual text. The notes would help novices to practice and understand the ritual.
Even though this ritual is simple and succinct, it nevertheless contains the essential ideas of all repentance rituals in general. Precisely due to its simplicity and conciseness, it is convenient for ordinary people to practice. It could even be included into a daily practice session. Repentance prostration could easily diminish karmic hindrances. Whoever understands the causal connection of karma and its consequences should pay attention to this kind of practice, and actively engage in it.
Written in Chinese on Buddha's Birthday in 1996
Translated into English on February 20, 2001
El Cerrito, California
The Photo of the Giving of Fearlessness
In early December of 1994 I received two requests for help from some Buddhists in San Jose area. The first one was for me to pray for peace to return to a haunted house. I performed Powa to help the ghost to gain rebirth in Buddha's Pureland. Afterwards there were no longer recurrences of strange phenomena in that house. The second one was to pray for a lady haunted by a ghost. After I performed Powa for the ghost, her situation turned slightly better. Next morning in a dream I heard my doorbell rang. I opened the door and saw her in purple clothing standing outside the screening door. After I woke up I phoned her husband and suggested that he should make some ritual offerings to the Dragon King to beseech supernatural help. Her husband followed my advice. Then in meditation I saw her appeared healthy with the face round. That night I phoned her husband and indeed her condition had greatly improved. I told them to take good rest in order to recover from this ordeal.
This morning before I woke up I saw in a dream a photographer taking a picture of me, and I was making the gesture of the Giving of Fearlessness with my right hand. Simultaneously I saw outside the dream sphere on the left side there is a gold statue of Bodhisattva General Wei Tuo. He appeared young and handsome, grandeur and full of vigor, and was completely clad in shining armor. He was of human height with a slender gold rod in his right hand. The length of the rod is about that of a music conductor's baton but three times thicker.
After I woke up I pondered on the significance of this inspiration. I interpreted it as an instruction for me to distribute copies of the photo of Giving of Fearlessness. Thereby places and people haunted by ghosts could receive relief through the blessings of the Bodhisattva General Wei Tuo. The slender rod, instead of his regular weapon, is for goading the ghosts. In helping others through this kind of difficulties, I always provide voluntary service. I keep their predicament in mind and constantly pray for them. When I notice something through inspiration I would notify people and give advice on how best to deal with it. I believe that it is this kind of compassionate service that had moved the great protector to helping me with this extraordinary blessing.
A while back I distributed copies of a Holy Name sheet that has "Namo Amitabha Buddha" in Chinese written by me on it. It is for burning to transmit Amitabha Buddha's blessings to deceased beings. Since its distribution to the public many inspirational events have been reported back to me. The feedback comes from Taiwan, China, Malaysia and many places in USA. May people who come across this photo and have faith in it put it in their residence, in their vehicle, or carry it with them. Thereby they will surely receive the blessing of Bodhisattva General Wei Tuo and soon attain peace. With additional help obtained through the burning of the Holy Name sheets, the haunting ghosts would also be saved by Buddha's grace and gain rebirth in Buddha's Pureland or one of the better realms. Thus both the living and the dead are in peace. Isn't it nice indeed!
The above was written in Chinese on December 15, 1994. Now I translate it into English so that it may also be distributed at Yogi Chen's Homepage. Hereby I give permission so that people who download this photo may obtain blessing through using its printouts.
December 24, 1999
El Cerrito, California
Blessing of Protection
Through Buddha and Protector Wei Tuo's blessing copies of one photo and two mantra sheets have conveyed protection to many people. In this short article a brief explanation is given so that more people will benefit from their use.
Once in a dream I saw a female ghost, and I wrote with my hand the six Chinese characters meaning "Namo Amitabha Buddha" in the space toward her. She disappeared immediately and blue sky appeared. I figured from that experience that my writing of this holy epithet could help ghosts to attain liberation. So I wrote it and had it printed in red ink on yellow sheets. One thousand copies were printed for free distribution. Many inspirational results had occurred through their uses. I have collected some of the reports into a booklet in Chinese. Since then tens of thousands of this mantra sheet have been printed for free distribution. The main function of this mantra sheet is to help deceased beings and ghosts to attain liberation or gain rebirth in Pureland. The way to use it is to burn a few sheets with the intention to benefit all deceased beings that are around and need it, including the special ones that one has in mind such as a deceased friend, relative or someone whose passing away has come into one's attention. This mantra sheet can also help ghosts that are haunting people or places to become liberated. It can also bestow blessing when it is framed and placed on an altar or hanged on a wall. One can also make prostration to it to receive blessing.
There is already an article describing in detail the origination of this photo. Please read my article, "The Photo of the Giving of Fearlessness." It is enough to say briefly here that it was done according to the instruction of an inspirational experience in which the golden body of Protector Wei Tuo appeared. The main function of this photo is to give Protector Wei Tuo's protection from disturbances caused by ghosts. In addition, one can carry it as an amulet, or carry it in a car, such as hanging below the rear-view mirror, for traffic safety. When it is framed and placed in a room, it will protect the whole house.
Once in a dream I saw this sheet appeared vertically in space even though it was not made and I did not have any idea of making it. In the dream I recognized that it was my own writing of the "Om Mani Pedme Hong" mantra of Guan Yin in six Chinese characters. The sheet started to burn from below. When the sheet was completely burned down a small statue of Protector Wei Tuo appeared. I understood it as the blessing from Protector Wei Tuo that I should make this mantra sheet available for people to use. When people have small worldly problems, they can simply burn this mantra sheet to ask for help, and Bodhisattva Wei Tuo will grant his blessings to such matters so that people don't need to come take up my time and attention. Tens of thousands of this sheet have been distributed freely and I got responses from people thanking me for its wonderful help. After several years of its distribution, I saw in a dream that it should be venerated on the altar. Hence I have framed it and put it up on the wall of my altar room.
Some people who had experienced the benefits of the above mentioned sacred objects had asked me to give permission for them to make copies on their own for free distribution to benefit more beings. As long as the intention is pure and the copies are freely distributed such copies will carry the same blessings as obtained directly from me.
March 13, 2002
El Cerrito, California
My Bodhicitta Vows
(May be Used for Dedication of Merits)
Dr. Yutang Lin
1. May virtuous gurus remain with us and those departed return soon!
2. May perverse views and violence soon become extinct and Dharma spread without hindrance!
3. May all beings proceed diligently on the path and achieve Buddhahood before death!
4. May all beings develop Great Compassion and never regress until they reach perfect Buddhahood!
5. May all beings develop Great Wisdom and never regress until they reach perfect Buddhahood!
Thanks to Upasaka Kwok Sing Hung for formatting the computer file.
Thanks to all Buddhists who helped the publication of this booklet..
Repentance and Reward
NOT FOR SALE
Donation toward printing and free distribution is welcome.
Edited and Published by Dr. Yutang Lin
First Edition, 2003
Printed in Taiwan
All rights reserved by Dr. Yutang Lin.
Reprint or redistribute only with permission from Dr. Yutang Lin
For your free copy
Please write to:
Dr. Yutang Lin
705 Midcrest Way
El Cerrito, CA 94530-3310
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