[The] Eighth Principle: [When] Approaching Birthing [Have] Support-Chanting, [With] Guānyīn [Bodhisattva’s] Sacred Name
Women approaching birthing, often have suffering [and] pain [that] cannot [be] borne, [with] several days not [giving] birth, perhaps leading [to] those losing [their] lives. Also, [there] are [those] after [giving] birth, [with] vaginal bleeding [i.e. metrorrhagia], [and] all kinds [of] dangers, and children [who] have chronic [or] acute infantile convulsion, [and] all kinds [of] dangers.
If when going to give birth, [with] utmost sincerity [and] earnestness, aloud [and] clearly recite ‘Námó Guānshìyīn Púsà’ [i.e. Homage To (And Refuge For Life In) Contemplator Of The World’s Sounds Bodhisattva], [which] must not [then be] within [the] mind silently recited, [as] with silent reciting’s mind power weak, thus [with] connection [and] response also weak.
Also, [at] this time, using strength [to] deliver [the] child out, if silently reciting, [this might] perhaps lead [to] restraining [of] breathing [and] receiving [of] sickness.
If [with] utmost sincerity [and] earnestness reciting, [there will] definitely not be having suffering, pain [and] difficult birthing, and after birthing [without] metrorrhagia, also [without the] child [having] infantile convulsion [and] other illnesses.
Even if [with] extremely difficult birthing, [with the] person already going [to] die, teach this birthing woman, and those at [the] side taking care, [to] together aloud recite Guānyīn [Bodhisattva’s name].
Family members, although in other rooms, also can for [her] recite. Definitely not needing a short period [of] effort, then attaining peacefulness [and] birth.
[Those of] external paths [do] not understand [this] reasoning, [thus] inflexibly attached [to the] one Dharma [teaching of] reverence, not knowing [to] accord [to] matters [for] discussing reason, leading [to] a group [of] old women [who practise] mindfulness [of the] Buddha, [who] see giving birth as [a] dangerous path. Although [with] personal daughters [and] personal daughters-in-law, also not daring [to] go [and] see [them], moreover [not] daring [to] teach them [to] recite Guānyīn [Bodhisattva’s name].
[It] must [be] known [that as the] Bodhisattva, [is] with saving [those with] suffering as [her] intention, [when] approaching birthing, although uncovered [and] not clean, [as this is] then due to [being] without choice, [it] cannot [be with] those specially impudent compared.
Not only [is this] without transgressions, [this] also enables [the] Mother [and] child [to] grow great good roots. This meaning [is] connected [to the] Buddha, in [the] Medicine Master Sūtra, [with] that said within, not [with] me personally coming [up with a] subjective view, [as] I [am] merely [writing], for promoting this only. ([The] Medicine Master Sūtra, speaks [of] Medicine Master Buddha’s vows’ meritorious virtues, thus enabling reciting [of] Medicine Master Buddha[’s name]. Yet, [of] Guānyīn [Bodhisattva’s] name, [as] everyone all knows [it, there is] undoubtedly no need [to] recite Medicine Master Buddha[’s name], while [they] can recite Guānyīn [Bodhisattva’s name instead].)
[Note 1: As Śākyamuni Buddha (释迦牟尼佛) taught in Medicine Master Sūtra《药师经》, ‘Perhaps, there are women, when reaching birthing, with receiving of extreme suffering, if able to, with the utmost sincere mind recite the name (of Medicine Master Buddha: “南无药师琉璃光如来”: “Námó Yàoshī Liúlíguāng Rúlái” or “Homage To Medicine Master Lapis Lazuli Light Thus Come One”), prostrate and praise, reverently making offerings to that Thus Come One, all suffering will all be eliminated. Of those born children, with their body parts complete, forms and countenances upright, with those seeing them joyful, with sharp roots and intelligence, with peaceful tranquility and few illnesses, without having non-humans, seizing their essential vitality.’ (或有女人，临当产时，受于极苦，若能至心称名礼赞，恭敬供养彼如来者，众苦皆除。所生之子，身分具足，形色端正，见者欢喜，利根聪明，安隐少病，无有非人，夺其精气。)
Note 2: As the great vows of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are interconnected, and as Guānyīn Bodhisattva embodies and expresses perfect compassion for all beings, the benefits listed in Note 1 from mindfulness of Medicine Master Buddha’s name can be received from mindfulness of Guānyīn Bodhisattva’s name and Amitābha Buddha’s name (i.e. ‘阿弥陀佛’: ‘Āmítuófó’) too.
Note 3: The Great Master perhaps recommended reciting of Guānyīn Bodhisattva’s name instead of Āmítuófó’s name when birthing as the first is more popularly associated with saving from suffering and saving from difficulties (救苦救难), and delivering of children (送子), while the latter is more popularly associated with receiving and guiding (接引) of the dying and deceased for rebirth in Pure Land (往生净土).
Note 4: However, Guānyīn Bodhisattva also receives and guides beings to the same Pure Land, and Āmítuófó also delivers children. According to the Sūtra In Which The Buddha Speaks Of Amitā(bha) Buddha’s Fundamental Esoteric Spiritual Mantra《佛说阿弥陀佛根本秘密神咒经》, ‘(I)f there are sentient beings, who hear Āmítuófó’s inconceivable meritorious virtues, rejoice enthusiastically, with utmost sincere minds recite (his name), with profound faith and without laxity, thereupon manifests on their bodies, the receiving of incomparable bliss… Perhaps… Attaining children, grandchildren and prosperity, peace and bliss of body and mind, and fulfilment according to their wishes.’ (若有众生，闻说阿弥陀佛不可思议功德，欢喜踊跃，至心称念，深信不懈，于现在身，受无比乐… 或… 得子孙繁荣，身心安乐，如意满足。)
Note 5: Thus, as the great vows of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are interconnected, for those not attached to the two popular but limited forms of thinking in Note 3, they can surely recite Āmítuófó’s name when birthing, which has the great advantage of being briefer, thus being easier to recite. Of course, Āmítuófó also saves from suffering and difficulties, and is also called the Unsurpassable Great King Of Healers (无上大医王). Thus, his qualities of blessings are also connected to those of Guānyīn Bodhisattva and Medicine Master Buddha.
Note 6: For comparison of their lengths and thus ease of chanting, reciting (1) 南无药师琉璃光如来 requires 9 syllables, reciting (2) 南无观世音菩萨 requires 7 syllables, reciting (3) 南无阿弥陀佛 requires 6 syllables, and reciting (4) 阿弥陀佛 requires only 4 syllables. With 南无 meaning ‘homage to (and refuge for life in)’, the first two recitations, (1) and (2), are usually (i.e. popularly) chanted with 南无, while the third recitation (3) is just as often chanted without 南无, to become the last recitation (4). Chanting without 南无 to save time and energy is alright as long as doing so with utmost sincerity, to also express paying of homage and taking of refuge.]
Pure Land Tradition’s 13th Patriarch Great Master Yìnguāng
(One Letter [As A] Common Reply)
Namo Amituofo : Translation and notes by Shen Shi’an
The Seventh Principle: When Approaching Life’s End, With Support-Chanting, Dissolve Obstacles And Difficulties
The Ninth Principle: On Women Prostrating And Reciting, With Reverence Interpenetrating
One Letter As A Common Reply