I firmly believe, and have experienced many miracles, encounters and visions, that dharma protectors and Buddhas and bodhisattvas have helped me many times in my life.
Wrote to John Tan recently, “ Sometimes or even often i have dreams that i feel are inspired by bodhisattvas or dharma protectors.. even today i fell asleep after i woke up but felt a presence or sensation of someone like lifting me up from my neck like a noose lol but wasnt like a frightening or v bad experience. After that i felt awake and woke up. Otherwise might be late for work etc.. and i still had time to answer some online ppl”
Someone asked me to translate this passage in my sharing to the AtR admin group, so I did.
my translation of https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1cDDkVwY2lI hui lu fa fashi
"moving on. our clothes, food, lodging, even though it is not good, however practice is pure abiding, our mind are also free of whatsoever, free of any matters/businesses, because all dharmas are empty. everyday it is like this, experientially realize all things are empty in nature, however our mind peacefully abides in the place of purity, turning the evil world of five turpidities into mind's bliss world [sukhavati], therefore our mind does not grasp on a single phenomena, mind is also free of any matters that it clings to, everyday it lives in such days of such purity, free of any hang ups, this is the place of purity.
however, householders are not like [monastic] monasteries, are filled with matters that troubles the mind. all of us here, laymen and laywomen 100+ in number, in all these 3 days we live in pure bliss world [sukhavati]. for everyone that arrived here, participating in the 8 precepts, even if you wish to break the precepts you do not even have that opportunity to do so. in this place there is not a single drop of alcohol, isn't that right? in this place, men and women are totally segregated, you cannot possibly commit [breaking of precepts] anything. furthermore, killing, what being is there for you to kill? unless you accidentally step on one or two ants, you are unable to use a magnifying glass to magnify them. stealing, what can you steal? everybody never brought much money. isn't that so? even if you have money, perhaps you have given them away in dana. there is not much money to take away, so what can you steal? so here, the 8 precepts more or less cannot be broken, you do not have the opportunity to break them. you can't even take a step out [of the monastery]. so this is the purest place.
master hsu yun did chao2 shan1 (mountain pilgrimage）, only took small belongings in bag, went through tough days suffering cold and hunger,... took things one day at a time ... mind is without grasping. always have dragons [nagas] and celestial beings [devas] sustaining/helping him. but we just don't have such great vows/aspirations, no matter what we do, we are afraid. if we have aspirations/vows, then whatever matters can be accomplished. this message, shifu encourages all to make an effort/to strive.
when i became a monastic, i personally made such a great vow: in this life of mine, i must master and penetrate the three baskets (tripitakas - sutra, vinaya and abhidharma), i must realize the nature of mind in this life, i must spread and promote the buddha's true dharma.
when i set this aspiration/vow, whenever i faced the greatest difficulties, in many instances i almost died from illnesses, buddhas and bodhisattvas came to help shifu. i have told teacher mai, in this life i died about ten times. but never managed to die. at least died ten times, every time it was extremely serious. based on normal reasoning, one cannot survive this, yet i revived. once you have set great vows/aspirations, so persistent, very strangely, your blessings/merits will keep coming. this is what i deeply feel. in the past there was someone in monastery helping out in the kitchen, when helping out he set great aspiration, no matter how tough/how much suffering, he cooked. later on both hands became injured, searched for many doctors but was unable to heal. later we introduced him a doctor, once he tui-na one time, [was healed]. his blessings/merits was just great.
therefore, when one has great aspirations, no matter how tough the difficulties he/she face, very strangely, the buddhas and bodhisattvas, the nagas and devas and dharma protectors will protect him/her.
let me give another example. this is not blowing one's own horn. once a lady was possessed by demons. she was brought to the lei yin monastery, i was there, that was a very long time ago. when she came she was rolling around on the floor, and the words that came out of her were not human words. she was possessed by a spirit that entered her body. this lady's voice is not good, was very distant from shifu. she stood at a very far location, kept wanting to speak. yet her words were so soft. i said, you are so far away, how can i hear what you said? you are so far away, how can i hear what you are saying? come a bit nearer, come over a bit nearer. she said: i am unable to come near to your body. you are surrounded by Caturmahārājakayikas (the four heavenly kings, buddhism's main dharma protectors) who are standing beside you. i am unable to come near to you, i just do not have any way. Shifu is not saying this to blow one's own horn, but rather to point out that when you make great aspiration, bodhicitta, do not think about how the outcomes will be like, only that the aspiration be coming from a pure heart, that it is true bodhicitta aspiration (Soh: on bodhicitta, see https://www.dalailama.com/news/2019/generating-the-awakening-mind ), then naturally, there will be the nagas, devas and dharma protectors that will be protecting and helping you. because our human eyes are unable to see them, therefore, although shifu in this life faced disasters after disasters. yet, i was able to resolve them each time.
some of those who did not make such great aspirations, like another bhikshu, i advised him: you should make great vow/aspiration. he said, aiya, venerable hui lu, i do not have your talent/capability. after one great illness, liver illness, just once, based on those circumstances you should be able to do [procedures?] and find a doctor to help, but just once, he died. he died for many years.
so this is saying: a person, although our human eyes are unable to see, this force of karma, wholesome karma, bodhi karma, are always upon our body, always functioning, yet our fleshy eyes are unable to see them. therefore, why do we say you need to give rise to great aspiration, take up hardship? in buddhism, you should never be afraid to take up hardship. never be afraid of taking hardship. if you are able to take up hardship, your blessings and merits will be greater. be willing to do/act and truly practice. then, the nagas and devas will do dharma protection [for you]. your worldly eyes cannot see them, but the devas and nagas and the eight classes of beings can see [you]."