How Should Buddhists Protect Themselves From Potentially Violent Ones? 遇到暴力者的佛教徒该如何保护自己?

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Thought after thought, do not give rise to doubt, that Guānshìyīn is a pure noble one, when suffering with afflictions and dying with adversities, he is able to be that for relying on.

Inexhaustible Intention Bodhisattva
(Contemplator Of The World’s Sounds Bodhisattva’s Universal Door Chapter)

In the event that someone wayward is threatening our lives verbally and physically, and if we cannot physically escape or defend ourselves, what Buddhist practice can we do to save ourselves? Reasoning with the Buddha’s teachings or even common sense will be difficult as the person is obviously vicious and impatient, without the right attitude to listen. Surely, simply chanting will not help? Or can it?

According to Contemplator Of The World’s Sounds Bodhisattva’s Universal Door Chapter《观世音菩萨普门品》, Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛) taught that, ‘If, again, there are people about to be harmed, who recite Contemplator Of The World’s Sounds Bodhisattva’s name (Guānshìyīn Púsà), those held blades and staves will immediately into pieces break apart, and they will attain release.’ (若复有人临当被害,称观世音菩萨名者,彼所执刀杖寻段段坏,而得解脱。)

In the same text, Inexhaustible Intention Bodhisattva (无尽意菩萨) later reiterated, ‘Perhaps encountering hateful robbers who surround, with each holding a knife to do harm, with mindfulness of that Guānyīn’s power, all will immediately give rise to the compassionate mind.’ (或值怨贼绕,各执刀加害,念彼观音力,咸即起慈心。) The easiest way to be mindful of the Bodhisattva’s power is by being mindful of his/her name.

Thus, to answer the question, sincere recitation of the Bodhisattva’s name will indeed help. And if mindfulness of a Bodhisattva’s name can help, mindfulness of a Buddha’s name, such as that of the Bodhisattva’s teacher (阿弥陀佛: Āmítuófó) surely can help too. (The Bodhisattva is actually a remanifested ancient Buddha [古佛] too.) For protection against unseen and seen beings, such mindfulness that connect to blessings of the fully enlightened run on the same principles. If it can work for encounters of supernormally powerful malevolent ghosts, it can work for brushes with ‘normally’ violent humans too.

As an example of the supernormal effficacy of mindfulness of a Bodhisattva or Buddha, a thief entered a house, and was discovered by the owner, who immediately sincerely recited the Bodhisattva’s name aloud for protection, also out of some fear and desperation, with which the thief suddenly found it ‘unbearable’, as he quickly fled after grabbing only a few items. Even reciting mentally will work.

As another example, a small boy who is about to be physically abused by his father sincerely recites the Buddha’s name, and the father finds it impossible to beat him. This can be so due to what Inexhaustible Intention Bodhisattva mentioned. With the compassionate mind within the universally present Buddha-nature (佛性) urged to arise, this thus made it difficult for the opposite emotion of anger to arise, what more to act with it. This works even if the listeners are non-Buddhists.



Complete with all meritorious virtues, with compassionate eyes seeing sentient beings, and blessings gathered like the ocean immeasurably, therefore should there be prostration to him.

Inexhaustible Intention Bodhisattva
(Contemplator Of The World’s Sounds Bodhisattva’s Universal Door Chapter)

Related Sūtra:

Wonderful Dharma Lotus Flower Sūtra’s Contemplator Of The World’s Sounds (Guānshìyīn) Bodhisattva’s Universal Door Chapter

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