Verse For Repentance
From my past, those created all evil karmas,
all due to beginningless greed, hatred and ignorance,
from body, speech and mind, of those arisen,
for all I now all repent.
— Samantabhadra Bodhisattva
(Universal Virtue Bodhisattva Practices’ And Vows’ Chapter)
Dhyana Master Gao Fengmiao (妙高峰禅师) was a cultivator who sat on the inverted lotus precipice (挂莲花) of Xi Tianmushan (西天目山) and meditated. Why did he choose such a dangerous ledge? Were he to doze off, he would fall thousands of feet into the valley and be smashed to pieces.
Because he had a tendency to doze off during meditation [while he had yet to be liberated from the cycle of birth and death], he vowed to go to that dangerous place. ‘Let’s see me fall asleep now!’ he said, positioning himself near the edge. He sat there for about seven days without falling asleep; he didn’t dare! After all, his life was at stake. Therefore, no matter what, he simply would not fall asleep.
However, on the eighth day, he could no longer control himself. While sitting in meditation, he dozed off. As soon as he fell asleep, he slumped forward and tumbled right off the edge. Waking, he thought, ‘It’s all over. I’m certainly not going to come out of this alive.’ Just then, he put down his body and mind. ‘If I must die, then I will die. I’m not going to pay any attention; I’ll get ready for the big “sleep”.’
When he had fallen halfway down the mountain, Weituo Bodhisattva (韦陀菩萨) manifested in empty space and dragged the Dhyana Master back up to the top of the mountain. ‘Who is this protecting my Dharma [practice]?’ the Master asked. ‘It is I, Dharma Protector Weituo (护法韦陀)!’ came the reply.
The Dhyana Master suddenly became arrogant and had the thought, ’You mean I moved Weituo Bodhisattva to protect my Dharma? Probably, in this world, the number of cultivators who are as vigorous as I am is very small.” And so he asked Weituo Bodhisattva, ‘How many cultivators are there in the world who work as hard as I do in their cultivation?’
‘About as many as the hairs on a cow,’ said Weituo Bodhisattva dryly. ‘And since you are so arrogant, I’m not going to protect your Dharma [practice] again for eighty thousand great kalpas!‘ So saying, he disappeared.
Dhyana Master Gao Fengmiao really regretted what he had said. He cried for a long while, and then thought, ‘I’m going to cultivate whether Weituo Bodhisattva protects me or not!’ [After all, he did not know he would be protected earlier in the first place.] Then with great determination, he took his seat on the ledge once again and commenced to meditate.
A little while later, sure enough, he fell asleep and dropped over the edge again, plummeting down the mountain. ‘This time, I’ve really had it,’ he thought. ‘It’s all over now!’ Suddenly, he was caught in midair and hauled back up to the top again. ‘Now, who saved me this time?’ he asked. ‘It is I, Dharma Protector Weituo,’ came the reply.
This irritated Dhyana Master Miao. ‘Old Brother Wei, didn’t you say that you weren’t going to protect my Dharma for eighty thousand great kalpas? Why did you save me again? Doesn’t that make you a liar?’ Weituo Bodhisattva replied, ‘Your tears and shame were very genuine; they canceled out eighty thousand great kalpas worth of time. Therefore, I was obliged to come to your aid.’ This story proves that one thought of repentance can transcend eighty thousand great kalpas. (一念的忏悔，可以超过八万大劫。)
Venerable Master Hsuan Hua