One Who Worshipped Wooden Buddha Statues

A person practiced austerely under a spiritual master, who gave him a statue of the Earth Store Bodhisattva and taught him to recite the Incarnation Mantra. He also instructed him to bow to the statue of the Earth Store Bodhisattva several thousand times each day, and repeat the mantra tens of thousands of times. His master told him that he definitely would progress by following these instructions.

The disciple practiced diligently for a year, but did not feel anything. So, he complained to his master, saying, “Master, I beg you please! Will you teach me another mantra and give me another Buddha statue that’s more powerful and merciful. I’m giving up the Earth Store Bodhisattva. I’ve worshipped Him for a year and chanted the mantra until my throat was dry, yet He never gave me any blessing or response. I don’t want to worship Him anymore. Will you please give me a better Buddha statue?” So his master said, “OK! Now I’ll teach you the Amitabha Buddha mantra, and you may worship the Amitabha Buddha. The Amitabha Buddha is very compassionate. He made grand vows, and has great affinity with sentient beings. You’ll definitely progress by worshipping Him.”

The disciple believed his master, carried a small statue of the Amitabha Buddha home and started reciting the mantra. He persisted in chanting the mantra and the holy name of Amitabha Buddha very sincerely. However, a year passed and he received no response. Again, he complained to his master, “Master, the Amitabha Buddha is not efficacious. He didn’t make any response. Please don’t test me any more! Please give me initiation and teach me a better method of spiritual practice. Otherwise, I can never make it on the spiritual path!”

Knowing that this disciple was very sincere, the master told him with a smile that he would definitely be enlightened this time. However, the disciple still had to practice and become enlightened himself. “I now give you this statue of the Quan Yin Bodhisattva to worship at home,” said the master. “The Quan Yin Bodhisattva is very merciful. All of Her worshippers find Her very efficacious. You’ll surely get a response through worshipping Her.” This disciple had great faith in his master’s words and was much delighted. He decided to worship the Quan Yin Bodhisattva piously at home and chant Her holy name day and night.

That day, upon reaching home, he immediately lit the best sandalwood incense before the statue of the Quan Yin Bodhisattva and worshipped piously. He placed the statues of the Earth Store Bodhisattva and Amitabha Buddha on the bookshelf and paid no more attention to them even when they were covered by dust. He thought that these two were not efficacious, so he didn’t worship them any more, but let them rest on the bookshelf. He now worshipped only the Quan Yin Bodhisattva statue.

While worshipping, he noticed that the fumes of the sandalwood incense drifted towards the nose of the Amitabha Buddha statue and thought, “This isn’t right! I’m only worshipping the Quan Yin Bodhisattva. This Buddha statue isn’t efficacious at all, and so isn’t worthy of enjoying my incense.” (Laughter) Then he took the Amitabha Buddha statue and sealed its nose with plastic tape, so that it couldn’t smell the fragrance. Suddenly, the wooden statue of the Amitabha Buddha vanished, and the original form of the Amitabha Buddha appeared right before his eyes. The disciple was frightened to death, and quickly fell on his knees to beg for forgiveness. So Amitabha Buddha said to him, “I’m impressed by your faith and sincerity in seeking the Truth. Now, whatever you ask for, I will realize for you.” The man said, “I’m overjoyed to see You, and meanwhile I don’t know what to ask for. However, will You please explain why You only appeared after I sealed Your nose? What does that mean?”

Amitabha Buddha said, “It’s because previously you only regarded me as a Buddha statue, just a wooden statue. When you thought of worshipping me, you bowed to me. When you didn’t feel like worshipping me, you pushed me aside. When you were fond of me, you bowed to me. When you didn’t like me, you stopped offering any incense. Also, you didn’t pay attention to me when you were busy. This is a wrong concept. Now your thinking has changed and you regard me as a real Buddha, which was why you wanted to seal my nose. Being worried that my nose would really be sealed by you, I had to appear quickly.” (Master laughs)