Cynthia Hudson (Chuan Dun)
Throughout my practice I have come to realize many things. Often, at first I resist, questioning the benefit of doing something. So it was with memorizing the Sutra. Many years ago I memorized The Hear Sutra, but that was because we chant it in class. When the Abbess asked us to work on a diligence card and pick a sutra to read and memorize each day, I thought okay I will read The Sutra of the Eight Realizations of Great Beings each morning when I chant and meditate, but memorize it, no I don’t think that is necessary. Why would I do that? Plus memorization is difficult and takes a lot of effort, I don’t have the time. I just do not see the benefit in doing this.
Each morning for about three weeks I read The Sutra of the Eight Realizations of Great Beings. The more I read the sutra, the more it was on my mind throughout the day. I continued to resist memorizing and even complained about doing so saying it would be too difficult. Then one day, once again, the Abbess said to us all “You should memorize the sutra”.
That night I memorized the first line. I recited the line several times before I went to bed. When I woke up in the morning I recited the line again. I chanted and meditated as usual, then read the rest of the Sutra. The next night I recited the first line and added the next line. The following morning I recited both lines first thing, then chanted, meditated and read the sutra. Again throughout the day I found myself reciting and thinking about the two lines. I continued adding a new line each night, repeating from the beginning all that I had memorized and doing the same each morning when I woke up.
It is wonderful to always have the sutra with me, not just at peaceful places like the monastery and at home. To experience this calm in a turbulent environment is remarkable. I finally understand you need to know Buddha’s teachings to practice them in your everyday life.
I am moved by the precision and beauty of the sutra language and the meanings that keep unfolding with each recitation. My mind is focused; listening is more acute; I experience a calm joy. I do not want to sound arrogant or even imply that I get “it” but I have a sense that what Buddha teaches is a part of me.
Words cannot express how grateful I am to the Abbess for asking us to work on our diligence card and memorize a sutra. I am halfway through The Sutra of the Eight Realizations of Great Beings, reading and memorizing a sutra has now become an important part of my practice.