Great Compassion Mantra - Avalokiteshvaraya
Good morning everyone. This is today’s Dharma Expresso on “Avalokiteshvaraya.”
Yesterday, we talked about “Namo Ariya” (line 2); today, we will talk about “Pwo lu jye di shau bwo la ye” (line 3), or Avalokiteshvaraya. Avalokite means looking deeply, and “shvaraya” means self-mastery. Lines 2 and 3 together mean bowing to become Avalokiteshvaraya, the Bodhisattva who looks deeply in peace and self-mastery.
The term “look deeply” is very interesting. Normally, we think that looking deeply is looking outside of ourselves, but actually it means looking deeply inside us. How do we look deeply? Look without judgment. Without judgment means without preconceived ideas or prejudices (i.e. this is right, that is wrong). We look to observe and understand that each of us has a different level of consciousness.
If we look outside, or look at something, then we see and realize that, “Oh, this person’s level of consciousness is like this, so he said this. That person’s level of consciousness is like that, so she said that.” They each said different things because they have different levels of consciousness. When we are aware of that, we will not get confined in any level. When we listen to ourselves, we listen deeply within us. When we listen to others, we recognize the level of consciousness of each sentient being.
Listening to our own self is listening to our heart, our conscience, and our inherent goodness. Sometimes we need to listen to our own suffering to recognize the causes and our deep-rooted schemas. Thus, deep listening is the best way to transform all our irrationalities which are screaming within us but none of us can hear. There are some schemas that we ignore; hence, their screaming becomes irrational actions, anger, retaliation, and revenge. These angry habits may eventually turn violent.
If we can listen deeply, we will gradually transform those irrational habits. We become aware of them and slowly understand them. Once we recognize a schema, we will not get angry. Listening deeply is looking deeply, being aware of our true nature and recognizing our shadows. Usually, these shadows are nothing else but our own schemas.
Someone told me this story:
When he was young in Vietnam, many decades ago, he suffered much. Every morning, he had to get up early and go to the market to get breakfast food for his parents and for the family. He never had enough sleep while his other siblings did. Sometimes, they would yell at him when they didn’t like what he brought back. His schema was that he felt unloved and rejected.
When he came to the United States as an adult, there was a long time when he felt very ashamed looking back at his unhappy past when he was twenty or thirty years old. Now that he had children of his own, he would mistreat them, making them wake them up early for no good reason. He did not understand why. It dawned on him later that it was retaliation, or revenge.
He told us that after studying the Dharma, he was startled and felt ashamed of how he demanded his children to do the same thing he went through when he was young. Now he understood that the schema of feeling rejected had turned into a habit which pushed him to act without thinking.
When you look deeply within yourself, see through your schema, and feel ashamed, would you repeat what you did before? – Never again. Violence and yelling will disappear, so will the urge of rejecting or bullying others. When that man could listen deeply to himself, he was transforming into Kwan Yin, the Bodhisattva of deep listening. Looking deeply is being aware of our true nature, of all the causes for our schemas, and of our inherent goodness. Then what will happen? We will be greatly relieved.
Later on, that man said that whenever he took care of his grandchildren, he’d show them he loved them and taught them differently.
Thus, the transformation of irrationalities such as schemas and underlying causes of feelings like being rejected is very interesting. It can end our existing impulse for violence inside us that we don’t sometimes know, since these schemas and shadows are so deep and heavy within us. That is what looking deeply is about.
Self-mastery is when we get out of the shadows of our consciousness. Looking deeply is not looking deeply at the self-mastery of others. With this deep introspection, we have more peace and self-mastery. Where does this self-mastery come from? It comes from listening deeply to our own self and to others.
Today’s Dharma lesson is for us to spend more time listening deeply to our own heart so we can find our own schemas and be free from them. We also need to listen deeply to other people’s hearts so we may be able to untie some of our own emotional knots and help others to be more open.
Have a lovely day! Enjoy this Dharma Espresso and be awakened!
Dharma Master Heng Chang
(Translated and transcribed by Compassionate Service Society)