October 10, 1973 | Wednesday evening
On Lessons About Sutra-Lecture Rituals
Ven. Master Hsuan Hua
After we have welcomed this Dharma Master at the airport and have returned to Gold Mountain Monastery, we will then proceed to formally ask the Dharma Master to lecture on the Heart Sutra.
There are a lot of things that need correcting about the way we do our lecture rituals. I’ve refrained from mentioning these things before, but now that a Dharma Master from outside is coming, we ought to improve ourselves.
Prior to the lecture, after the cantor chants, “We invite the Dharma Master,” he should hit the big bell. Then two hand bells should be struck alternately as those making the request proceed to where the Dharma Master is waiting.
At the end of the lecture, when the Dharma Master has finished speaking and has left his seat, the cantor should chant, “Let us bow to the Dharma Master.”
The Dharma Master will reply, “No need to bow.”
Then the cantor should chant, “Let us accompany the Dharma Master back to his quarters.”
The Dharma Master will reply, “No need to accompany me.”
Those are the traditional rituals used when conducting a sutra lecture in China . Since I prefer to be a little more modern, I have not followed the old-fashioned routine. All the other Dharma Masters follow this routine, but I often change it.
As for asking the Dharma Master to speak Dharma, I have composed a verse that you can recite tomorrow when you make the request. Whoever makes the request should first recite this verse:
We give back our lives to the Honored Triple Jewel.
May we resolve to awaken to the Great Way .
Please compassionately instruct and universally rescue everyone;
Proclaim the teaching to transform the multitudes.
The recitation of this verse should be rather drawn out and protracted. [Editor’s note: The Master sings it to demonstrate.] When the recitation is protracted like that, people can hear the words clearly. In all the things we do, we should strive to improve. We are revolutionizing Buddhism as well, so when people from other monasteries come here, we keep them guessing.
Timely Teachings, pages 368 - 369.