Special Topics

Q8:Why didn’t Bodhisattva Guanyin accept Bodhisattva Inexhaustible Intent’s offerings?

A:Bodhisattva Inexhaustible Intent (Bodhisattva Aksayamati, in Sanskrit) praised Bodhisattva Guanyin's (Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, in Sanskrit) myriad merits at the Dharma Flower Assembly, as stated in the The Lotus Sutra's Universal Gate Chapter on Bodhisattva Guanyin. However, Bodhisattva Guanyin politely declined the offering of Bodhisattva Inexhaustible Intent's necklace (prajnapara or keyura, in Sanskrit). So, why did Bodhisattva Guanyin initially choose not to accept it?
According to Master Tai Xu's explanation in his Lectures on the Lotus Sutra, bodhisattvas accept the offerings for the sake of showing sympathy to sentient beings, by giving them opportunities to accumulate merits without the intent of personal fame and profit. For this reason, Bodhisattva Guanyin did not accept Bodhisattva Inexhaustible Intent's offerings in the beginning.
However, with Shakyamuni Buddha's encouragement, eventually Bodhisattva Guanyin accepted the offerings, though not for his own sake. Instead, he divided the offerings into two shares, to be presented to the Buddha and the Many-Jewels (Prabhuta-ratna, in Sanskrit) Buddha Tower at the Dharma Assembly. This act of compassion shows that bodhisattvas deliver sentient beings not for the sake of self-actualization, but to facilitate all sentient beings in attaining buddhahood. Bodhisattvas use the Buddhadharma to deliver sentient beings; that is, the Buddhadharma is expounded by buddhas but not owned by bodhisattvas. In the end, to show gratitude to the Buddha, Bodhisattva Guanyin presented the offerings he received from Bodhisattva Inexhaustible Intent to the two buddhas.
On our journey of practicing Buddhism, we should benefit others by sharing the Dharma we have learned with them without harboring any notion of doing so. After all, we are not the ones who offer the Dharma to others. Similarly, Bodhisattva Guanyin used the treasures given from other bodhisattvas to offer to the buddhas. Here, the purpose of accepting the offerings is to bless the benefactor rather than coveting respect and reverence from them.

Extended reading:

Q1: Why is Guanyin known as "Guan-shi-yin" in Chinese Buddhism?

Q2: From which kinds of suffering does Bodhisattva Guanyin liberate us from?

Q3: How does Bodhisattva Guanyin hear sentient beings' cries for help?

Q4: How does Bodhisattva Guanyin rescue sentient beings?

Q5: How do sentient beings resonate with Bodhisattva Guanyin?

Q6: Why does Bodhisattva Guanyin often manifest into a female form, if he has a myriad amount of manifestations?

Q7: Is it especially efficacious to pray and ask Bodhisattva Guanyin for a child?

Q8: Why didn't Bodhisattva Guanyin accept Bodhisattva Inexhaustible Intent's offerings?

Q9: What is the meaning of the term "Universal Gate" from the Lotus Sutra's Universal Gate Chapter on Bodhisattva Guanyin?

Resource: Humanity Magazine #386 (人生雜誌第386期)
Translation: Ariel Shen (沈純湘)
Edited by: Keith Brown, Chia-Cheng Chang (張家誠)
Photo: Quan Tsai (蔡全)