Q071: Respected Master Lu, I have been reciting the Great Compassion Mantra (Ta Pei Chou), Heart Sutra (Hsin Ching), and Mantra to Untie Karmic Knots (Chieh Chieh Chou). If I start to recite Little Houses (Hsiao Fang Tzu), should I continue reciting these sutra and mantras? Also, what should we be aware of when performing recitations?

A071:

  • Daily Recitation (Kung Ko) is the fixed number of sutras and mantras to be recited every day. Typically, you can recite the Great Compassion Mantra (Ta Pei Chou)[1] 3 times, Heart Sutra (Hsin Ching) 3 times, Eighty-eight Buddhas Great Repentance (Li Fo Ta Chan Hui Wen) once, and Cundi Dharani (Chun Ti Shen Chou) 21 times. Performing Daily Recitation is as important as daily food intakes, and it is like earning an income for daily living expenses. Recitation of the Little House (Hsiao Fang Tzu), on the other hand, is like making mortgage or loan repayments. Sutras and mantras recited for Daily Recitation cannot be counted towards the Little House. You need to make separate prayers for Daily Recitation and the Little House. The number of sutras and mantras recited for Daily Recitation and the Little House should also be counted separately.
  • The full title of each sutra and mantra should be included each time before it is recited. For example, before reciting the content of the Great Compassion Mantra, you should recite its full title: Chien Shou Chien Yan Wu Ai Ta Pei Hsin To Lo Ni; for the Heart Sutra, you should recite its full title: Po Jo Po Lo Mi To Hsin Ching.
  • It is best to say the corresponding prayers or wishes before you begin your Daily Recitation. Please limit to a maximum of 3 wishes, as making too many wishes would be an act of greed, and therefore not all of the wishes would come true.
  • The Heart Sutra and the Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra (Wang Sheng Chou) can be recited until 10PM during good weather. If it is cloudy or rainy, you can recite it during day time. However, you should avoid reciting the Heart Sutra and the Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra after 10PM, or during extreme weather, including heavy rain, thunderstorm, and lightning. In addition, if you feel that you are physically weak or experience discomfort when reciting these sutras and mantras, then it would be best for you to try to recite them during day time on a sunny day whenever possible. Generally, it is best if you do not perform any recitations between 2AM and 5AM.
  • If you are performing Daily Recitation on behalf of your family, friends or fellow Dharma cultivators, their full names[2] must be announced before you begin reciting in order for the transferring of merits to take full effect.
  • For your reference, below are brief descriptions of the effects of some sutras and mantras, as well as the recommended corresponding prayers or wishes for Daily Recitation.

1. Recitation of Chien Shou Chien Yan Wu Ai Ta Pei Hsin To Lo Ni, Maha Karuna Dharani in Sanskrit, or the Great Compassion Mantra (Ta Pei Chou) in short, is one of the fundamental mantras for every Buddhist, and should be included in the Daily Recitation. Some of its great powers include: fulfilling every wish of every sentient being; curing illnesses; and receiving protection and blessings from Sravakas, Pratyekabuddhas, and Dharma Protectors. By reciting this mantra every day, you would be able to choose to be reborn into any Pure Land for your next life.

For Daily Recitation: Generally 3 or 7 times per day until the end of life; can be recited day or night. During critical times such as before and after an operation, and severe illness e.g. cancer, this mantra should be recited 21 or 49 times per day. The more times you recite it, the more effective it would be.

Prayer: Before reciting this mantra, you can say your prayer or wish as follows, “May the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless me, <your full name>, grant me good health, and increase my spiritual power.” If you are suffering from an illness you can also add the following, “May the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva cure my illness in <area of illness>, and speed up the recovery.”

2. Recitation of Po Jo Po Lo Mi To Hsin Ching, Prajna Paramita Hrdaya Sutra in Sanskrit, or the Heart Sutra (Hsin Ching) in short, is for establishing connections with Guan Yin Bodhisattva, and to obtain wisdom through the mercy and compassion of Guan Yin Bodhisattva. This sutra takes the form of energy in the Asura realm and the Deva realm (known as “heaven” in English), currency in the underworld, and wisdom in the human realm. Some of its great powers include: disciplining misbehaved children; influencing adults to have a religious belief e.g. Buddhism; communicating with elders who are stubborn; calming emotions; granting wisdom; and alleviating depression. It can also be used for performing the transferring of merits to the deceased.

For Daily Recitation: Generally 3 or 7 times per day until the end of life. The Heart Sutra can be recited until 10PM during good weather. If it is cloudy or rainy, it is best if you can recite it during day time. You should avoid reciting the Heart Sutra after 10PM, or during extreme weather, including heavy rain, thunderstorm, and lightning.

Prayer: Before reciting this sutra, you can say your prayer or wish as follows, “May the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless me, <your full name>, grant me wisdom, a pure mind, calmness; and help me to be free from afflictions (maintain focus while performing recitations).”

3. Recitation of Li Fo Ta Chan Hui Wen, or the Eighty-eight Buddhas Great Repentance in English, is one of the greatest repentance sutras. By reciting it, you are sincerely seeking the help of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, including Guan Yin Bodhisattva to repent and cease karmic obstacles due to negative karmas from the past and present lives. Some of its great powers include: repenting negative karmas created during past and present lives; seeking forgiveness from someone you have hurt in past relationships; resolving long-term conflicts; and repenting inappropriate actions such as being disrespectful to Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, or damaging statues or images of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas.

For Daily Recitation: Generally once and up to 7 times per day. It is suitable for reciting every day until the end of life, and can be recited day or night.

Prayer: Before reciting this sutra, you can say your prayer or wish as follows, “May the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless me, <your full name>, help me to repent and eliminate karmic obstacles due to negative karmas in <the body or parts of the body>, grant me good health and great wisdom.”

Note: After reciting the Eighty-eight Buddhas Great Repentance, if you feel soreness or discomfort in any part of your body, it means that the negative karmas have been activated and transformed into foreign spirits. This is a good signal. You can deal with it now, which is better than waiting for it to emerge as a serious illness later in life. You should recite 4 or 7 Little Houses and address them to the “Karmic Creditor of <your full name>”. If the pain is severe, recite more Little Houses until you feel better.

4. Recitation of Chun Ti Shen Chou, or the Cundi Dharani in Sanskrit, is for sincerely asking assistance from Guan Yin Bodhisattva to fulfil wishes. Some of its great powers include: success in career development; harmony in marriage and relationships; and academic achievements. It is particularly helpful for young adults for finding a suitable job and partner in life. However, the wishes you make must be reasonable and legitimate.

For Daily Recitation: Generally 21, 27 or 49 times per day; can be recited day or night.

Prayer: Before reciting this mantra, you can say your prayer or wish as follows, “May the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless me, <your full name>, grant me good fortune and success in career (or any other reasonable wish you may have).”

The above four sutras and mantras are the basics for Daily Recitation. The following sutras and mantras can be recited according to your individual conditions to resolve particular issues. Generally, they should be recited 21, 27 or 49 times per day.

5. Recitation of Chieh Chieh Chou, or the Mantra to Untie Karmic Knots in English, is for sincerely asking assistance from Guan Yin Bodhisattva to “untie karmic knots”, or to resolve interpersonal conflicts. Some of its great powers include: clearing misunderstandings between couples; creating harmony in marriage and family; resolving conflicts at work; and eliminating karmic obstacles due to negative karmas from past lives.

Recite as needed: Generally 21, 27 or 49 times per day; can be recited day or night.

Prayer: Before reciting this mantra, you can say your prayer or wish as follows, “May the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless me, <your full name>, help me to untie my negative karmic knots with <other party’s full name>, and to transform and resolve our conflicts.” The other party can be your relative, friend, or colleague.



[1] The title of each sutra and mantra is given in English, with the Wade-Giles Romanization given in brackets. It is recommended to recite the title according to the Wade-Giles Romanization or Hanyu Pinyin.

[2] “Full name” refers to “first name, middle name, and last name”.

 

[Updated 2012.04.26]