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Blog » Dharma Friends » Reflections on repentance » Experiences During Emperor Liang Repentance

Experiences During Emperor Liang Repentance2016-01-20


By Grace Jeng

I would like to reflect some of my experiences during this year’s Emperor Liang Repentance. I am thankful to have participated in this year’s full session because the previous years I’ve only attended for a few days. I have improved significantly this year, and the insights I have gained surpass that of many years of education.

Whenever I come to Gold Sage Monastery, I always look forward to the lunch time dharma talks. Every talk sheds light on great knowledge and perspectives essential to improving our cultivation. How fortunate we were to have the opportunity of listening to dharma talks for a continuous eight days!

Listening to the advice from Venerable Master and Dharma Master talks helped me correct my mindset, as we were reminded of important points like sincerity, singlemindedness, and not pursuing. Being mindful of these, I strove to concentrate on and contemplate the content of the repentance. Whenever I caught myself straying, I tried to correct myself and override the thought by reciting Buddha’s name in my mind, a practice that I extended to my daily life. I am still prone to false thoughts, but I immediately become self-aware and improve myself accordingly.

I find that when you apply the dharma talk teachings to the repentance, you will find reciting easier. When I was deeply focused, my body felt really light and comfortable and even though my throat was dry, the words roll out naturally and smoothly. Thus it is important to listen intently to dharma talks that instill wisdom. We are blessed to have the affinity of listening and learning from them – why throw that chance away by engaging in useless chatter?

The weather had started getting significantly colder with the coming of the winter season, and even more so due to the monastery’s high elevation. Many nevertheless persevere for the full eight days. While we were shivering over the weather that week, I wondered how dharma masters undergo this cold every year. They are not allowed to wear down jackets or wool, and at City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, there would even be the occasional snow.

Then I came upon a verse that stood out to me from the repentance. I don’t remember the exact words but it stated about keeping a still posture at all times while igniting the dharma fire in one’s body. Then I realized that must have been the method that dharma masters utilized. It is like when you are meditating while being mindful of the Buddha, your energies are concentrated to the core of your body, emanating heat from within. The dharma masters incorporate this practice into their lifestyle. Whenever I felt cold, I geared my thoughts towards this concept.

Ever since my mother went to Taiwan in late October, I have been cleaning the lady’s bathrooms weekly, including nearly daily during the repentance. People may be reluctant to clean the bathroom because it is so dirty, but I think it is all the more important to clean because it is dirty. The bathroom is where all the dirty things from your body are released out. When you clean the place that holds these dirty things you are like completing a ritual of cleansing your being. You acknowledge the evil and improper deeds you’ve perpetrated and let go of them, not to be committed again. This was an especially good way to conclude the day after attending the repentance during the daytime. I actually felt the most peaceful and without false thought when cleaning, and I can recite in my mind as I am doing so. Also, sometimes it may get late and the Evening Ceremony has already started. I can hear part of the recitation, so it’s like a win-win situation!

Some people have asked why my mother was not here this repentance, as she has been attending it for several years now. This year she had to do checkups at Taiwan on possible cirrhosis (Liver Hardening). The results were fine, but her doctor suggested to also do a colonoscopy inspection. Through the colonoscopy, they found a huge tumor in her rectum. Reports were dismal, mentioning the possibility of cancer. Coming across negative online discussion of the matter also caused her immense worry. She was scheduled for a surgery on Thanksgiving Day.

This news shocked me, and I was initially at loss of what to do. I had already attended the repentance for that day and was participating in a dinner party at my aunt’s home. I barely socialized with my relatives and couldn’t bring myself to enjoy the food. After only eating a small portion, I headed up to the Buddha Hall and started bowing. Upon returning home, I proceeded to bow to Amitabha Buddha, Earth Store Bodhisattva, and Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattiva for the remainder of the night. I prayed that my mother’s surgery would be smooth, painless, and successful; I also implored Venerable Master Hsuan Hua to lend a helping hand.

Counting the hours to when her surgery may end, I called my mother at 2 AM, stuttering as I asked about her situation. She stated she had already bought her rail ticket back to her hometown in Huwei. It took me some time to register what she meant. She elaborated that she had completed the surgery and the tumor had been fully cleaned out of her rectum swiftly and without pain. At that moment, I broke into a fit of loud sobbing, which alerted her greatly.
She said, “You’re scaring me, don’t cry so uncontrollably.”

I responded between choked words, “I’m sorry to shock you, but this is the first time in my life I have cried out of happiness.” I kept thanking the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Venerable Master.

After I had calmed down, she explained that she was glad that she had accidently done the colonoscopy to discover the tumor. She revealed that in the midst of her uncertainty, she dedicated much time to recitation and praying daily. She needed to commute from Huwei in mid-Taiwan to the North in Taipei for her doctor visits so she would deliberately go early to Venerable Master’s Taipei monastery to attend the Great Compassion Repentance first. Besides the support of my last-minute praying, she herself made diligent effort to ensure a successful surgery. Despite her fears, her recitation has helped alleviate the situation, and perhaps a slice of merit from my repentance bowing and cleaning has also contributed. The following day, I was actually designated to offer incense. As I presented the incense in front of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, I prayed for the revival of my mother’s health.

From this experience I have learned on the importance of persistence. Had my mother not recited with such vigor regularly, the results may not have turned up so well. The power of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to quell suffering is truly inconceivable. By attending the Emperor Liang Repentance, we rely on their power to dispel the sins of our past, present, and future. Additional to having the awareness, we should devotedly practice and put faith in the Buddha Dharma on a regular basis. It is not just during a repentance that we resolve to rid our offenses. With true sincere dedication one will surely receive a beneficial response.