Great Compassion Mantra - Mahasattvaya
Today, we'll learn a very interesting line: "Mwo He Sa Two Pe Ye", or Mahasattvaya in Sanskrit. Maha means great, or big. Sattvaya means having the bodhisattva mind. Together, it means a great sentient being.
What does "great" mean? Perhaps it's easier to understand by analyzing the Chinese character. In Chinese character, the word great or big (大dà) has the image of a person with two feet spread out wide, standing firmly, two hands open with palms upward and two arms stretched out, forming a line parallel to the ground. The top of the head points to heaven, eyes looking ahead. Standing like that shows a great state, very open. When the feet are steady, they are in touch with the truth of life. Life represents the earth. Arms wide open symbolize the truth of heaven, of all things in the universe. Thus, the word great means openness, since we can be open to embrace all truths, cosmic laws, and the law of life.
Once in a while, we should stand with our feet and arms wide open, eyes closed to feel that we are very open and free. That is a very beautiful image. Sometimes we don’t have this kind of body language all day long. When you go to practice Integral Tai Chi, you notice we make movements with palms open. Why? Because we want to attain openness and boundlessness. Only when standing like that with eyes closed can we feel our own openness and our inner world. Then we realize that we are not small.
The opposite of great is small, or little (小 xiǎo). In Chinese character, it's written in reverse of dà: one vertical stroke going down with a hook, one short stroke on each side, showing that the arms are no longer linked to the body, more like they are hugging the body. Like the character for small, our body is in the state of not shaking hands with others, not open to the truth, the cosmic laws, or worldly things. The feet are also gone; the vertical line with the hook shows that the feet are tied, no longer in touch with earthly laws, the Dao of life.
As you see, after the line "Pu Ti Sa Two Pe Ye", after being enlightened, the next line, "Mwo He Sa Two Pe Ye" we become great inside ourselves. However, we sometimes associate ourselves with our identity. We define ourselves with our name, face, and emotions which are usually schemas. If our parents scolded or insulted us once before, we remember it for the rest of our life. If they told us, "You're ugly like a black dog", for example, we would feel that our brown skin is not good-looking, and that we're truly ugly. We'd have an inferiority complex and wouldn’t bear to face life or meet anyone. This terrible complex stays deeply inside us, and becomes our blind spot. If our classmates say to us, "You're as stupid as a cow!" Then we'd always think we're indeed an idiot, and feel inferior to others. The education system of the old days allowed parents and other adults to abuse and insult us children, robbing us from a nice identity and damaging us for the rest of our life. People who are full of compassion have faces devoid of hurt, but those who are full of themselves are different. In movies, those with high positions are often stuck in their own identities. Once someone insults them and make them lose face, they will be filled with vengeance. It's awful.
If we identify ourselves with things like our emotions, inferior complex, name, title, fame, etc., then we will be stuck in small things. What is not small? What is great? It's when we think of ourselves as the open and boundless sky, never stuck in anything, immensely open and vast. Thus, Mahasattvaya helps us identify ourselves: We are the infinite openness; we are the all-embracing sky; we are the all-encompassing love.
We always tend to have two agendas inside us, one being small and the other affirming greatness. Being small, we get upset when insulted; we can't stand negative comments; we may become suicidal when we hear terrible rumors or slander about us. We stop associating with those who mistreat us just a little. We get stuck in these emotions not just for one or two years, but for the rest of our life. These obstructions are so powerful that we think we have those identities, including fame, name, face, appearance, and painful emotions. We never think that we also have the boundless and immense emotion of openness, that we are also a name called True Emptiness, a name called Self-Mastery, a name called Boundless Love.
We stay in a box full of air without knowing that, when the box is open, the air inside and the air outside are one.
The form "Mwo He Sa Two" is the action of opening. When we are open, we are free. We should recite this line "Mwo He Sa Two Pe Ye" so that the seed of openness, which is always within us, is in our mind. Thanks to reciting it over and over daily, we will see that the miraculous power of the Great Compassion Mantra suddenly awakens us one beautiful day. It will dawn on us that we are great. People who insult us, scold us, or badmouth us are only talking about the title, name, age, face, and the clothes we're wearing, not our body. We're not the clothes but the body in it. The body is like the true mind. The clothes are like the name, fame, schemas, emotions, feelings, and things we put on. They're not the permanent, everlasting things. The permanent and everlasting thing is the True Mind, like the body in the example. Things that make us small are like the clothes.
We should recognize the beauties of our own rather than always looking for beautiful clothes.
Today's Dharma Espresso should awaken us and bring us joy. Hopefully we can spread out our inner greatness and mental openness to everyone we meet today.
Thank you for listening.
Dharma Master Heng Chang
(Translated and transcribed by Compassionate Service Society)