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Home Feature Stories Sutra Adaptation of the Water Repentance

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

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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
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Act V: Finale

In this section, Dharma Master Wu Da walks out of his cabin and visits the various people who had done wrong in the previous acts. As he visits each, he spreads the teaching of repentance, and people rectify the wrongs they had committed so that instead of continuing the cycle of negative karma into the next life, they can begin to turn things around in this life.

Venerable Kanaka appears on stage. Those who had done wrong in previous scenes take off their colored costumes, revealing white clothing underneath, symbolizing the purification of their hearts.

The message of this section is that since beginningless time, we've been undergoing the cycle of rebirth, suffering in the six realms without being able to liberate ourselves. The Buddha came to this world to teach us the Four Noble Truths, which show us a way we can end our suffering. If we can learn the Buddha's teachings, we can cleanse our heart and mind.

The world is full of changes and impermanence. Yet, underlying all the changes, even through the cycle of rebirth, our everlasting, non-changing Buddha nature is always with us. But people cannot see this and they go after things that are ephemeral, such as fame and personal gain. In the process, they create negative karma and plant karmic seeds in their consciousness, which then ripen into karmic retributions and trap them in the cycle of rebirth. Through the Twelve Links of Interdependent Co-Arising, they suffer endlessly.

Dharma Master Wu Da, with the rise of arrogance, brought to fruition the retribution from karma he had created ten lifetimes before. With the help of Venerable Kanaka, Dharma Master Wu Da was able to resolve his negative karma. Thereafter, he composed the Water Repentance text to tell people how to get rid of the three obstacles of affliction, unwholesome action, and karmic retribution through the practice of repentance. These timeless teachings remain beneficial to humanity to this day.

Drifting in the vast sea of suffering, we should turn back toward the safety of the shore. All Buddhas earnestly call on all living beings to awaken and return to the correct path.

Towards the end, Dharma Master Wu Da as well as everyone onstage sing the four verses of great repentance:

In times of crisis, we must recognize right from wrong
In times of great calamities, we must bring forth great compassion
In times of great blindness and ignorance, we need to exercise great wisdom
In times of great turmoil and unrest, we must deeply reflect and repent

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