Shaxi temple ceremony for Hannah Barclay
On November 17th, the Barclay family returned to the Pear Orchard Temple to give thanks for their daughter Hannah and receive a protective prayer for her from the Diantou Village elders. The local priest led the Shaxi temple ceremony, which consisted of an hour of chanting and offerings to Avalokitesvara (the Goddess of Compassion), to whom the Barclays originally prayed for Hannah’s birth, after the death of her sister, Natalie. Children from the Diantou Village dance troupe came to meet Hannah and showed her traditional Bai dance. Hannah gave out candies to all the children and bowed to Guan Yin in prayer with her parents.
This Shaxi temple ceremony is a local language version of the 大悲咒 (Da Bei Zhou) or Mantra of Great Compassion. It was spoken by the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara before an assembly of Buddhas, bodhisattvas, devas and kings, according to the Mahakarunikacitta Sutra. It is a popular prayer in East Asia called a Dharani, from the Sanskrit dhṛ meaning “to hold or maintain”. Dhāraṇīs are considered to protect the one who chants them from malign influences and calamities. An excerpt of the prayer asks that for Hannah:
Her heart will be pure and full in the way.
She will not violate the prohibitive precepts.
Her family will be kind and harmonious.
She will always have the necessary wealth and goods in abundance.
She will always obtain the respect and help of others.
Her riches will not be plundered.
She will obtain everything she seeks.
Dragons, gods, and good spirits will always protect her.
In the place where she is born she will see the Buddha and hear the Dharma.
She will awaken to the profound meaning of that Proper Dharma which she hears.
The Pear Orchard Temple is a center of the ancient Azhali Buddhist practice – one of the last remaining tantric schools in China. For more information about Azhali and this endangered form of esoteric Buddhism, please visit the Shaxi temple pages here.