Recite Guanyin's Name with One Heart
Our recitation of Guanyin Bodhisattva's name should continue nonstop, like an ever flowing stream, until everything becomes one. Walking, standing, sitting, and lying down, we recite the name of Guanyin. We must pay close attention and not forget Guanyin's name in thought after thought. Each recitation must be clear and distinct; and we certainly shouldn't fall asleep or have idle thoughts while reciting. We must recite single-mindedly, thinking of nothing but the words "Namo Bodhisattva Guanshiyin," not leaving the name whether we are walking, standing, sitting, or lying down.
The Bodhisattava's image shows a thousand hands and a thousand eyes, but actually, Guanshiyin Bodhisattava's hands and eyes are infinite. With his infinite hands, he pulls living beings out of the sea of suffering and sets them on the blissful other shore. With his infinite eyes, he beholds all living beings and rescues those who are in difficulty or danger.
If you are mindful of Guanshiyin Bodhisattva, he will be mindful of you. You recite Guanshiyin Bodhisattva's name hoping that he will compassionately save all beings; he recites your name hoping that you can leave suffering and attain bliss, be free from disasters and sickness, cancel offenses and create blessings. He hopes you will increase in Bodhi and perfect your mind for the Way. We shouldn't let Guanshiyin Bodhisattva down. He is so compassionate and mindful of us, we ought to set everything else aside and concentrate on reciting his name. If we can do that, he will definitely be with us whether we are moving or still, awake or asleep. He will aid us, destroy our karmic obstacles, and make our good roots grow. Having received Guanshiyin Bodhisattva's aid, we should strengthen our resolve for Bodhi and advance vigorously without slacking off for a moment. We shouldn't chatter so much. If you decide not to talk, eat, or sleep, that's fine; but don't fail to cultivate. Everyone has to cultivate. We should regard every moment and every day as a Guanyin session. In fact, we should wish to cultivate the inconceivable Dharma door of reciting Guanyin Bodhisattva's name every month, every year, and every great eon. Don't think that you're free once the session is over, because you are not truly free unless you become enlightened. So don't entertain the thought of retreating. We should all be wishing for another Guanyin session so we can continue to develop our skill.
The function of reciting Guanyin's name can be compared to using our hands in getting dressed and when eating. The name "Guanshiyin Bodhisattva" is equivalent to your hands, which you use to put on clothes. When you eat, you must use chopsticks or a fork to bring the food to your mouth; likewise, you must recite Guanyin Bodhisattva's name in order to feed your Dharma body.
Reciting Guanshiyin Bodhisattva's name is also analogous unlocking a door. We are locked up in the prison of our ignorance, and Guanyin's name is the key to the prison's door. Each time we recite it, the lock of ignorance opens up a little. The more we recite, the more the lock opens. We use Guanyin Bodhisattva's key of wisdom to open our lock of ignorance. The moment it opens, we gain sudden enlightenment. Confucianism speaks of a state of sudden comprehension, but that is only a partial, not a total, enlightenment. With sudden enlightenment, one breaks through ignorance and cuts off the very source of births and deaths without beginning.
Guanyin Bodhisattva listens to the sounds of living beings and rescues them from suffering. He has particularly deep affinities with the living beings in our Saha world. There are many cases in which Guanyin Bodhisattva has protected people and shined his light upon them. Why haven't we obtained such a response? Our minds are not sincere. We have too many scattered thoughts. On the one hand we recite his name, but on the other hand our mind chases after external states and strikes up all kinds of impure thoughts, so we waste all our time. We should realize that life is short. If we don't cultivate seriously right now, we might not have another chance.
Cherish the time and don't let it go by in vain. Don't just mindlessly follow the crowd. You ought to take advantage of this opportunity to cultivate at a monastery by sincerely reciting Guanyin's name. You will have completed your work only when you attain the Guanyin Recitation Samadhi, the state of proper concentration which cannot be disturbed by the gusty winds or the driving rain. Don't overlook that point.
p.227 - 228, "In Memory of thr Ven. Master Hsuan Hua, Vol. III"