Special Topics

Reading Scriptures: Universal Gate Chapter and Heart Sutra

Universal Gate Chapter

The Universal Gate Chapter is the twenty-fifth chapter of the Lotus Sutra, in which Buddha Shakyamuni expounds the origin of the name of Guanyin Bodhisattva and how Guanyin Bodhisattva wanders in the Saha world to preach the Dharma to sentient beings. Buddha explains that, in order to save all sentient beings from suffering, Guanyin Bodhisattva manifests in thirty-three different forms, including Buddha, humans, non-human beings, or any other form as needed. This chapter emphasizes that, as long as one has confidence and recites Guanyin wholeheartedly, all difficulties and disasters can be resolved and relieved.

The text of the Universal Gate Chapter is simple, and its content is also in line with the pursuit of the mundane interests of the general public. However, Master Sheng Yen believes that the Universal Gate Chapter is intended to introduce Buddhism to those people who lack confidence and are in trouble and pain. Once they engender faith in Guanyin Bodhisattva, and believe in his saving power, they will naturally build self confidence from within, thereby emulating the Bodhisattva, learning to be a Bodhisattva, and universally benefiting all sentient beings like an incarnation of Bodhisattva.

In addition to solo practice, many Buddhist temples also hold the "Guanyin Dharma Assembly" with the main recitation of "Universal Gate Chapter". The contents include "Praise of Holy Water" (楊枝淨水讚), the mantra for purifying the body, speech and mind, Sutra Opening Gatha (開經偈), the Universal Gate Chapter, the Guanyin Bodhisattva's Miraculous Response Mantra (觀音靈感真言), the Great Compassion Mantra, the Guanyin Verse, the Prostration Prayer, the Three Refuges, and dedication of merit.

Heart Sutra

Among the Mahayana scriptures, the Prajna-Paramita Heart Sutra-- the most concise and widely circulated sutra that expounds the meaning of Mahayana concept of emptiness-- narrates how Guanyin Bodhisattva cultivates "prajna-Paramita" and sees that the five aggregates are all empty by nature. Therefore, the Heart Sutra has always been regarded as the classic for practicing Guanyin's method. 

Extended Reading:

Upholding the Buddha's name: "Namo Guan Shi Yin Pusa"

Recitation of Dharanis and Mantras: Six-syllable Mantra, White-robed Guanyin Mantra, Ten-Phrase Avalokitesvara Sutra for Prolonging Life, Great Compassion Dharani, and Dharani of Eleven-Faced Avalokitesvara

Repentance: Great Compassion Repentance and performing Guanyin repentance method

Reading Scriptures: Universal Gate Chapter and Heart Sutra

Perceiving the five aggregates (skandhas) as empty in nature and the method of perfect penetration through the ear faculty

Resource: Issue 340 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Photos: Issue 340 of Life Magazine, Dharma Drum Publishing Corporation
Translation: James 
Editing: YKL, Keith Brown