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The Great Compassion Service

Fluid, complete devotion personified,
Thrift actions before careless waste;
Leaves me appalled at myself.
Messages of wholesome well wishes sent without a return address;
Practice which ignites many more to come.

Above, expresses my first and only meeting with Venerable Guo Chan on 15.09.19. Making a promise to attend the service in October, I could not help wonder how this service would differ from the one led by Venerable Guo Chan the month before. Below is reflection of yesterday’s Service.

The night of 20.10.19, after The Great Compassion Service in October, I needed to call a Dharma friend to talk everything through. Yesterday’s Dharma Service had me in awe. As a Buddhist, I have always known strongly in my heart that any problems I have, I have full responsibility to resolve it. This has always been my driving force to know better, do better, be better. It’s as if this drive was almost blinding me at the same time, making me go too fast.

It was at the September Service that I questioned: What is the meaning and purpose of The Great Compassion Mantra? I found my answer in a Dharma talk by Master Sheng Yen, in which Master explained: reciting the Great Compassionate Mantra gives us temporary relief from our misery but the work of our salvation still resides in our own work or practice*. This I personally found acceptable, and this was the beginning of me putting my faith in Boddhisattvas to help me help myself.

At yesterday’s service, I bowed with more devotion and respect. I sang with the same passion but felt my faith and trust in Bodhisattvas developing. While singing the part about taking our own responsibilities, I sang with gusto as I truly believe this is what needs to be done. The slow verse that immediately followed with the recitation of Boddhisattvas jolted me in my steps as I experienced the gentle hand of the Boddhisattva; offering me temporary, soothing relief. This sudden jolt in experience shocked me and brought me to tears. Many thoughts flashed by; the truly difficult state of the human condition and the unconditional compassion of Buddhas and Boddhisattvas. I gave myself time to regain my composure as I began to ground myself again to try and focus on the rest of the service.

I needed to have that talk to a Dharma friend last night, reaching out to practicing friends means more to me than can be expressed. The work of our own salvation lies within ourselves; it follows us around like the moon to the Earth. But to have the opportunity to practice with Dharma friends, who though their practice aid my own, I cannot begin to express my gratitude. Another month will go by where I must practice to be the best person I can be, but on this road, friends are near, Buddha is near and Boddisattvas are near. How fortunate we truly are to be where we are.

Extended Reading

Written by: Jessie Chang, Dharma Drum Mountain Sydney

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