Q: May I ask what Great Compassion Water is? Can I recite the Great Compassion Mantra to a bowl of water to perform the blessing by myself? Or is it that only the water that has been offered to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can be called the Great Compassion Water?
- Great Compassion Water is the water that you have offered to Guan Yin Bodhisattva. It has been blessed by Guan Yin Bodhisattva. As ordinary practitioners, we are unable to bless the water simply by performing recitations, making it become the Great Compassion Water.
- You can offer hot or cold water that has previously been boiled, mineral water, purified water or any other drinkable water that has no taste, no colour and no odour. You should not directly use tap water or untreated water.
- Use a brand-new cup for making water offerings for the Great Compassion Water. The cup can be made of glass, china or ceramic. It can be with or without a lid, but it is better to have a lid to prevent dust and insects from falling into the cup. It is best to use a plain white cup without any text on it. Avoid having the texts of the Great Compassion Mantra or the Heart Sutra, etc. printed on the surface. You are also advised against using cups with names or images of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas or any animal figures.
- Normally, there should be one cup of water placed in front of each Buddha or Bodhisattva. Offering more than one cup of water before each Buddha or Bodhisattva is also acceptable. But there should never be fewer cups than the number of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas on the altar. The cup should not be too large. In addition, bottled mineral water should not be directly placed in front of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; it is disrespectful to substitute the cup of water with a bottle of mineral water. In most cases, do not place bottled water together with cups of water on the altar.
- You should not drink the Great Compassion Water directly from the cup used for offering on the altar. The water should be poured into another cup for drinking. Your mouth should not touch the offering cup.
As a general practice, you can first face the statues and images of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, with both hands holding the cup, then respectfully raise the cup slightly above your eyebrows, and say the following prayer gently: “May the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless me, <your full name>, grant me good health.” At the same time, you can visualise that the pure water of Guan Yin Bodhisattva is gradually being poured onto the top of your head, and then flowing over your entire body.
You can then pour the water into another container, and drink it respectfully. For best results, you can place your palm facing down over the cup and recite the Great Compassion Mantra once before drinking the water.
- If the Great Compassion water is too cold to drink, you can warm it up by pouring it into another container, and immersing it in hot water for a while. Do not heat up the blessed water directly or using the microwave (it should only be warmed up slightly rather than heated to its boiling point).
- For the water offered to other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, you can just pour it away. Otherwise, you need to recite the Great Compassion Mantra once before drinking. In addition, water offered to different Buddhas and Bodhisattvas should not be mixed together. You should pour the water into different cups before drinking. Moreover, any water after being offered should not be used for watering plants.