A man by the name of Sheng Ding was a chief engineer on a deep sea fishing ship. When he was in Hong Kong, a friend invited him to consult a very famous fortune-teller skilled in the art of chinese divination known as Tad-Ban-Shen-Suan. This form of chinese divination requires the information of one's birthdate and time, right down to the exact minute of one's birth. If the information fits, the divination shall reveal the most accurate details of one's life. Sheng Ding felt that this art of divination that was first revealed by Shao Kang Jie in ancient China was indeed remarkably accurate.
The fortune-teller revealed Sheng Ding's destiny. He stated that his father was born in the year of the dragon and his mother was born in the year of the monkey. The information was correct. He also mentioned that Sheng Ding has three elder brothers and one younger sister. This tallied with the facts. The fortune-teller also revealed that Sheng Ding's mother passed away when he was ten years old. This astonished Sheng Ding because what he said was indeed true. His mother died of a certain illness when he was just ten.
The fortune-teller proceeded to describe Sheng Ding's destiny:
Sheng Ding's livelihood was connected with water (Sheng Ding sailed with the deep sea fishing ship). When he turned thirty, he met a friend by the surname Xie and lost his money(at age thirty, a friend with the surname Xie borrowed seven hundred thousand dollars in Taiwan currency and disappeared). The divination also revealed that Sheng Ding had a girl friend with the surname Chang and disclosed exactly how much he earned per month. This was most astonishing to Sheng Ding, leaving him dumbfounded.
Finally, the fortune-teller came to Sheng Ding's life span and felt silence. Sheng Ding was eager to know how long he was going to live.
"It is best that you didn't know."replied the fortune-teller.
"Long or short it matters not to me. I can take it."Sheng Ding said.
The fortune-teller insisted on keeping mum about his time on earth.
Sheng Ding exploded and said, "Look! I told you I didn't mind. People live and die. Long life short life so be it. Having a long life may not be a good thing. But I have to know how long I am going to live or I'll not going to step out of your place."
The fortune-teller was in a very difficult position.
But Sheng Ding demanded to know.
Finally, the fortune-teller picked up one of the books on divination, flipped to the respective page and showed Sheng Ding what was written on it. The respective sentence stated, "You shall die at age thirty seven."
"Thirty seven! Thirty seven!" Sheng Ding was shocked to learn of his life span.
Damn! Sheng Ding was thirty five and that meant another two years before he left the world for good. Judging from the accuracy of this fortune-teller, it seemed that his life would surely come to an end at that age. Sheng Ding claimed that he didn't mind. But his heart was pounding hard.
Sheng Ding asked, "Is there a way out?"
"Everything is destined by divine will. You can change your destiny through gathering good merits. I can't help you."
"Doing good deeds?"
"Just like the story of Liao Fan."Sheng Ding had read that story.
"Almost."said the fortune-teller.
"But is two years enough time to change my destiny?"said a worried Sheng Ding.
The fortune-teller smiled and refused to commend.
"Is there someone on earth who can help change my destiny?"
The fortune-teller said, "To my knowledge, this form of divination is extremely accurate. I am aware that one can change his destiny, but this is rarely possible. Perhaps you should look this person up and see if he can help you."
`Living Buddha Lian-sheng, Sheng-yen Lu.`
`Can he really change my destiny?`
`Why not give it a try?`
* * *
When Sheng Ding came to me, he did not mention his consultation with the fortune-teller in Hong Kong. He only forwarded a note stating that he wanted to know how long he would have to live.
I said to him, `I never do readings to determine the length of one`s life.`
`Why not? Isn`t it possible that we can find out about our marriage, our wealth, our children, our state of prosperity, and certainly our life-span?`
`Well, you`re right in a way. But if I determine your life span and it turns out to be a short life, you`ll become frightened. To avoid unnecessary complications, I avoid going into it.`
`Can you make an exception?` Sheng Ding requested.
`No.` I replied.
`Alright. Any age is a two-digit number. Perhaps you can determine the last digit of the age rather than the first digit, how about that?`
I gave it some thought and felt that it was fair enough. The last digit would not give away the length of one`s life span, and was thus meaningless. But I was unclear why Sheng Ding requested to know the last digit of his age of death.
I consulted the divination and wrote down the number seven. Sheng Ding looked at the number and said, `Seven. That`s precisely the number!` Sheng Ding then revealed he had consulted a fortune-teller in Hong Kong who had told him that he would live to the age of thirty-seven. He wanted to know how he could reverse this cycle and if I could change his fate. I told him, `I can give it a try.` I went into deep meditation.
In my meditation, I saw a figure of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva dressed in a white robe, carrying a vial of elixir and a stalk of willow leaves in her hands. She appeared noble and at ease with herself. The Bodhisattva told me, `All you have to do is tell Sheng Ding to chant the Mantra of the White Robed Kuan Yin Bodhisattva twenty times per day, and there shall be deliverance. You don`t have to teach him how to recite it. He already knows how.`
I came out of my meditation and said to Sheng Ding, `You do know how to chant a mantra.`
`Nonsense!` Sheng Ding denied.
`But the Bodhisattva says you do.`
`The Bodhisattva must be joking! I have never chanted any mantra in my entire life.`
`The White Robed Kuan Yin Bodhisattva told me that you know how to chant her mantra.`
`Ah!` Sheng Ding was taken aback. He then related this story to me.
It was ten years ago when Sheng Ding`s aunt passed away. Before she died, she gave him a painting of a portrait of the White Robed Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. The mantra of this Bodhisattva was written alongside the painting. His aunt had recited every word carefully to Sheng Ding and he had actually chanted the mantra correctly, with the right pronunciation. His aunt told him that the painting with the mantra has been kept and worshipped over a long period of time. The mantra was to be recited in the course of one`s lifetime, and should not be forgone. According to his aunt, the mantra was very magical.
Sheng Ding kept this painting properly and recited the Mantra of the White Robed Kuan Yin Bodhisattva for a short period. After his aunt`s passing, he put the painting away and it did not see the light of day. He had since stopped chanting the mantra.
I told Sheng Ding, `Hang up the piece of painting of the Bodhisattva immediately.`
`Yes.` Sheng Ding answered.
`Recite this Mantra of the White Robed Kuan Yin Bodhisattva twenty times a day.`
`Do you need my coaching?`
`It`s OK. I still remember how to chant this mantra.`
Surprisingly, Sheng Ding was able to write down this mantra:
The Mantra of the White Robed Kuan Yin Bodhisattva
Homage to the All Compassionate and All Merciful Kuan Yin Bodhisattva (3 times).
Homage to the Buddhas.
Homage to the Dharma.
Homage to the Sangha.
Homage to Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, the Great Compassionate One.
Tadyata Om Garavata Garavata Gahavata Ragavata Ragavata Svaha.
Summon the Gods in Heaven,
Summon the Gods on Earth,
Deliver us from all disasters.
Remove us from all evils.
Reduce all disasters to nothingness.
When Sheng Ding returned home, he hanged his painting of the Bodhisattva on the wall and worshipped it with much reverence. In preparation for his daily chanting, he would clean his hands, light incense and prostrate before the image of the Bodhisattva before chanting the mantra.
After completing his chanting, he would recite the dedication verses:
May karmic hindrance and anxiety be removed.
May wisdom and true realization be attained.
May all transgression be eradicated completely.
May I follow the path of Bodhisattva life after life.
Sheng Ding added, `Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, please protect me from any fatality and offer me longevity.`
At home, he could keep to the routine of his practice. But Sheng Ding was, after all, a traveling chief engineer with his deep-sea fishing ship. He spent most of his time away from home. Nonetheless, he taped a photo of the White Robed Bodhisattva at a corner of his cabin on board his ship. He continued his daily practice without fail.
His friends sneered at him and thought he was superstitious, crazy, and had lost his mind. But Sheng Ding ignored them.
Besides chanting the mantra, Sheng Ding would commit himself to charity work whenever possible.
* * *
When he was thirty-seven, Sheng Ding`s fishing ship anchored at Hawaii before sailing to Guam the following day. That very night, Sheng Ding had a bad stomachache and was in great pain.
When he was rushed to the emergency ward in the hospital, he was diagnosed with acute colitis and needed an operation right away. Under the circumstances, Sheng Ding had to stay behind at the Hawaii hospital.
However, the ship was scheduled to Guam and could not wait for him. So the ship sailed on without Sheng Ding and would arrange to meet with him again after his surgery.
Sadly, the ship sank on its journey to Guam when it encountered a heavy storm. None of the crew survived the tragedy. The ship with its load of crew sank without a trace. Despite rescue attempts from the shipping company to search the area with helicopters and other rescue ships, they could not locate the missing crew. It was as if they had all vanished into thin air.
Because his acute colitis required him to stay behind in Hawaii for surgery, Sheng Ding became the sole survivor of this tragedy.
Sheng Ding later returned to Hong Kong and met up with the fortune-teller.
He told the fortune-teller, `Your divination is off the mark!`
The fortune-teller was astonished and exclaimed, `What happened?`
`I chanted the Mantra of the White Robed Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, that`s all!`
The fortune-teller marveled and said, `The mantra has such miraculous power. It is indeed rare. I would like to recite it too.`
Since then, Sheng Ding developed a deep faith in the White Robed Kuan Yin Bodhisattva, and knew that the compassionate Bodhisattva would certainly answer the cries of all. He knew he must trust the Bodhisattva completely and be sincere. Only then can a miracle be evoked. Sheng Ding later took refuge with the True Buddha School.
I taught Sheng Ding how to practice the Four Preliminary Practices and the Guru Yoga. Eventually, he was to regard the White Robed Kuan Yin Bodhisattva as his Principal Deity during his cultivation.
Sheng Ding felt sorry for the shipmates and crew who had perished in the ocean. He decided to chant the Mantra of the White Robed Bodhisattva one hundred twenty thousand times. He would then dedicate the merits of the mantra chanting to their Souls.
After the dedication of merits, Sheng Ding had a dream. he dreamt of sailing in the ocean and his ship being surrounded by about fifty white birds. The circling birds seemed to come to say their thank you to Sheng Ding, and one by one, they each flew away. When he woke up from his dream, he realized that the Souls of his friends had all been liberated by the White Robed Kuan Yin and left the sea of suffering.
From dust to dawn he chants diligently.
The White Robed Kuan Yin enters his dream frequently.
The shipmates of the boat have been salvaged.
Bonded by old friendship of great affinity.