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Home Feature Stories Sutra Adaptation of the Water Repentance

Synopsis of the Sutra Adaptation of the Water Repentance Text - Act II

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Article Index
Synopsis of the Sutra Adaptation of the Water Repentance Text
Act I: Prelude
Act II: The obstacle of affliction
Act III: The obstacle of unwholesome action
Act IV: The obstacle of karmic retribution
Act V: Finale
All Pages
Act II: The obstacle of affliction
Scene 1: Our mind is the source of our afflictions
Scene 2: Desire
Scene 3: Repenting for our afflictions
Scene 4: Making vows and starting anew


Scene 1: Our mind is the source of our afflictions

This section describes the power of our mind:
The scene opens with an artist and a painting of a tranquil lake. The artist starts to paint over the painting, turning the tranquil lake into countryside, then into a village. Not satisfied, he continually thinks of new, more complicated things to add, building one high-rise after another. His increasing desires drive him on in the pursuit of more—more buildings, more developments, more technological advancements, etc. until his mind becomes chaotic and he no longer has control over himself.

The artist symbolizes our heart and mind, able to think and plan, and bring to life the images in our mind. But when our heart and mind are filled with desires, we can lose ourselves and suffer from afflictions.

All our sufferings come from the three obstacles—our afflictions, our karma, and our karmic retribution. The repentance practice teaches us how to get rid of these three obstacles and liberate ourselves from suffering. The repentance practice is like water, able to cleanse away the impurities in our heart and mind.


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Scene 2: Desire

This section illustrates the source of human suffering—desire. It is presented through a theatrical sketch of a man who pursues wealth and success. As he focuses on climbing the career ladder and expanding his business, he becomes a changed man. But, impermanence strikes. The man ends up losing his business and wealth, and suffers greatly.



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Scene 3: Repenting for our affliction

The message from the previous sections is that all our afflictions originate from the greed, anger, ignorance, and doubt in our heart and mind. If we can repent for having these unwholesome thoughts, our afflictions can be eliminated. The repentance is done through song and sign language, the lyrics expressing some of the things to repent for:

Let us repent for our greed for
fame, wealth, and power
Let us repent for our anger and bad temper,
which make us want to hurt people
Let us repent for our ignorance and
lack of understanding of the law of karma
Let us repent for our arrogance,
which makes us look down on others
Let us repent for doubting the Buddha's teachings,
which leads to deluded notions
Let us repent for our attachment to "self" and
our delusions of"permanence" in life
Let us repent for taking up with unwholesome friends 
and doing bad deeds
Let us repent for being stingy and uncharitable,
and for not forming good affinities with people
Let us repent for being domineering, unreasonable,
forgetting to be gentle, and becoming angry easily
Let us repent for being jealous of others and
for unkind actions made in envy
Let us repent for not following the Truth,
which makes us drift in the sea of samsara
Let us repent for our blindness and delusions,
which make us undergo the suffering of rebirth in the six realms


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Scene 4: making vows and starting anew

The repentance practice teaches that after repenting for our unwholesome thoughts, we can prevent repeating our errors by making vows to transform ourselves and begin anew. By replacing old unwholesome behaviors with wholesome ones, afflictions will not arise in our heart and mind again.

In this section, vows are made through song and sign language:

We vow to overcome our greed and selfish desires
by sowing seeds of kindness in people's hearts
We vow to work on our anger and bad temper
by spreading love around the world
We vow to dispel our ignorance and delusion
by learning the Dharma and doing good deeds
We vow to eliminate our ego and arrogance
by cultivating humility and practicing precepts
We vow to uproot our skepticism of the Dharma
by developing genuine faith in the Buddha's teachings and the law of karma
We vow to eschew wrong views
by nurturing loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity in our hearts
We vow to transcend our jealousy and narrow-mindedness
by respecting and learning from people and emulating their good
We vow to do good and cultivate ourselves diligently,
as life is impermanent
We vow to practice the 37 Aids to Awakening
so we may purify our heart and mind
We vow to develop the bodhi mind (the awakened mind)
so we may have both compassion and wisdom to help all beings

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