THE PU-MEN CHAPTER OF THE LOTUS SUTRA
The Lotus Sutra, which states that the many paths to enlightenment are all “skillful means” that lead people on the one great way.
The Lotus Sutra describes Kuan Yin’s marvelous power to redeem:
If someone is malicious,
Pushing you into a pit of fire,
One thought of Kuan Yin’s saving power
Would turn the pit of fire into a pool!
How can we understand this verse? The word “fire” in this verse represents anger. When you find yourself in a difficult situation, when you are about to fall into a pit of fire, if you know how to practice mindfulness of compassion and invoke the embodiment of compassion, Kuan Yin, then you will be able to stop, calm yourself, and look more deeply and clearly into your situation, and act with wisdom and compassion. Anger and the desire to revenge will subside and you will be able to find the better way to respond. We practice mindfulness of compassion so as not to cause more suffering to ourselves.
The ocean of fire, the pit of suffering, fear and anger is a reality. The desire to punish those who harm us will cause the pit of fire to grow larger and it threatens to consume us all. We can transform the ocean of fire into a cool lotus pond by practicing mindfulness of kindness and invoking the Bodhisattva of Compassion, Kuan Yin.
As the Lotus Sutra tells us that Kuan Yin has many aspects and can manifest in many forms with many names. Kuan Yin is the universal gateway to the path of compassion, and through mindfulness of kindness, understanding, and compassion, the ocean of fire is transformed into a cool, refreshing lotus pond.
This Pu-Men Chapter of the Lotus Sutra is very important and is read and recited most often. The words “Pu-Men” literally mean “Universal Gateway; Universal Gateway to Liberation.” “Universal” means the capacity to cover everything, all kinds of ground, all kinds of situations, every place and moment, all time and space. No matter what the situation is, compassion is the answer. Kuan Yin can respond to all kinds of situations of suffering. The great powers of Kuan Yin enables herself to manifest in any form to help any being that calls on her.
“She responds well to all places in all directions.” This is the definition of a universal door. The actions of Kuan Yin can respond to the needs of any being and any circumstance. She can cover all ground, all of time and space. As the Buddha explains in the Lotus Sutra, Kuan Yin can manifest as a businessman, as a politician, as a child, as a dragon, as a horse, as a flower — in whatever form is most appropriate to respond to the needs of the supplicant. If the situation requires the presence of Kuan Yin, she will be there in the most useful form in order to alleviate the suffering.
“Kuan Shih Yin” or “Kuan Yin” means the one who observes, listens and looks deeply into the sounds of the world, to hear the cries of the world, all the expressions of the world. Living beings express themselves in many different ways, but whether or not they express themselves well, Kuan Yin can always understand them. Just as a child who doesn’t have enough words to express himself can still be understood by his mother or father. Whether someone speaks through language or bodily actions, Kuan Yin always understands.
“To hear her name or see her image,
Or recite her name sincerely and mindfully,
She delivers beings from every woe.”
Whoever calls the name of Kuan Yin or visualizes her image in such a way that the mind becomes perfectly concentrated and pure, this person can overcome all kinds of suffering. Calling the name of a great being is a very popular practice, not only in Buddhism, but in many other spiritual traditions. Calling the name of Kuan Yin helps your mind become concentrated, and with concentration, you become calm, lucid, mindful. The simple act of invoking the sound and image of Kuan Yin in a calm and simple way can help us overcome suffering.
You must call the name or visualize the form of Kuan Yin with complete presence and sincerity. Only in that way will your mind become still, calm, pure, and concentrated. Then you will have a chance to get free of your suffering. But, calling the name or visualizing the form without sincerity, humility and faith will not create any mindfulness or tranquility.
The verses describes how Kuan Yin is able to deliver us from a variety of dangerous situation. In every case, the key to our salvation is mindfulness – mindfulness of loving kindness and the embodiment of great compassion, Kuan Yin.
By virtue of constant mindfulness of Kuan Yin, we will be delivered from all danger and suffering. Mindfulness is the key that allows us to discern and act wisely, to respond appropriately, to know what to do and what not to do in a dangerous situation in order to bring about the best result.
Looking deeply into the situation and practicing the mindfulness of compassion serve as a kind of protection for us, keeping us from all kind of danger. Awareness and mindfulness bring understanding, compassion and wisdom that help us refrain from making actions that will lead to suffering. The practice of Kuan Yin’s compassion and loving kindness allows us to listen and look deeply in order to understand. With understanding, compassion arises in our hearts and we know what to do in order to help ourselves and others and bring about transformation and healing.
Based on the teaching of the Lotus Sutra, it is possible to achieve Buddhahood by many different methods. And, everyone has the capacity to become a Buddha and that Buddha Nature is inherent in everything. The Buddha Nature is the basis for peaceful action. Through the practices of compassion and loving kindness in a wise and beneficial way, we will bring joy, peace and freedom to ourselves, our families and our communities.