In this lecture, the Teacher Susan Duan, continued to teach the second half of “Chapter 8: The Praise of King Yama and His Retinue”. In accordance with the scriptures, the Teacher illustrated “At the very beginning of making vows to attain enlightenment and mindfulness, it has been predestined for one to become Buddha. However, to make such vows is more difficult.” to make us understand that it is not easy to “initially make a vow to really seek for self-awareness”, but such initiative is a guarantee of the reason of becoming a Buddha in the future.
The Teacher then told us the Bodhisattvas’ compassion and convenience of benefiting the beings in the way of making manifestation of Ghost Kings to make us realize what we should and should not do in our daily life to really help our relatives and ourselves. For example, the Ghost King Presiding Over Life who is manifested by the Bodhisattva says that before women give birth to baby, the family knows that they have to do good deeds to pray for safety of both the mother and child, but once the childbirth is safe, people always kill to make a great feast of eating meat and drinking alcohol to celebrate. However, they don’t know that during the difficult time of childbirth, there are countless evil ghosts who were waiting for consuming the foul blood, the reason both the mother and child are able to be safe is the Ghost King Presiding Over Life had requested the local earth spirits of that household to protect the mother and child. However, people generate bad karma due to kill after the childbirth and consequently harm the mother and child.
In addition, the chapter said that when people are on the verge of death, regardless of they have done good or evil during their lifetime, the Ghost King Presiding Over Life wishes to keep the deceased from falling into the lower realms. At this moment, the best help the relatives can give to the deceased are chanting a Buddha’s name, a Bodhisattva’s name, or even a sentence or a verse from the Mahayana Sutras. It will help the dying person’s spirit attach to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and get the Buddha’s guidance, even though the bad karma was so deep and heavy, they still can get the opportunity to turn over and reborn in the human or heaven realm. The Teacher said that’s because every moment is the new chance, and it’s never too late. Once the “good cause” is planted in our mind, with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas’ power of vows, it definitely can bear "good fruit."
In the second half, the Teacher explained “Chapter 9 : Reciting the Names of Buddhas” for us, as the Ghost King Presiding Over Life says the great merits of reciting the Buddha’s name when a person is dying, the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva recites 19 Buddhas’ names and interprets the incredible benefit of reciting the Buddhas’ names. For example, as long as the sentient beings hear a Buddha’s name, even if only giving rise to reverence momentarily, they will transcend many kalpas of severe torments of samsara, reborn in the heaven realm and experience excellent and wonderful happiness, even be enlightened by numerous Buddhas and attain ultimate liberation.
If we don’t understand the cause and effect mentioned in the scripture ‘s context, we may not learn to do because of not trusting, for example, “how can it be possible that only hearing a Buddha’s name can avoid a person from falling into lower realms? And what about the bad karma the person has sowed? Surely the person doesn’t need to reap bad karmic retribution?” Therefore, the Teacher compassionately analyzed the reason in detail to make us understand. So our confidence and the heart of cherishing rose for that we could have such wonderful opportunity to hear the Buddhas’ names to take the first step of “faith, understanding, practice and verification”. We were really so touched and grateful for the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas’ compassion, and then we further realized the meaning of ”Without a teacher, even the wise can’t understand the Dharma.” It was not until the Teacher’s teaching that we knew we have been surrounded by such unconditional love, and we can be rescued from sufferings as long as we follow the methods indicated in the scripture.
Finally, in the warm atmosphere of learning the Dharma, attendants were proactively and enthusiastically raising questions with a heart of seeking for self-awareness, and the Teacher also answered our questions with wisdom and convenience. After the lecture, everyone felt enriched and delightful, gaining strength and knowing how to return to life to face all the challenges and learning in life.