Sound the Dharma thunder; beat the Dharma drum;
Spread the clouds of compassion and scatter ambrosia.
Where the elephant king treads the favors are boundless,
The three vehicles and five natures are awakened.
In the second line, the cloud of compassion is like a cloud which temporarily covers the relentless rays of the sun on a sweltering day. When the sun is covered by clouds on a hot day, people are relieved. The heat produced by the brilliant sun is like the suffering produced by vexation, and the cloud that covers the earth and shields sentient beings is Buddhadharma.
I have met people suffering so greatly from mental vexations that they have contemplated suicide. But after hearing the Dharma, they felt better and regained the will to live. A disciple came to see me a while back. She had recently been divorced and her children were visiting her ex-husband and his new wife. She was so despondent that she considered suicide. I asked her to participate in the winter retreat. At first she refused because, as she said, “I don’t want to practice. I want to die.”
I said, “Please come to the retreat first. After it’s over, if you still want to kill yourself, I won’t try to stop you.” By the third day of the retreat her condition was much better, and by the end of the retreat she felt reborn. She told me her life was starting over again. Since then, things have been wonderful for her. The burning discomfort of mental vexation that she felt was soothed and lessened by the Dharma, just as clouds diminish the searing heat of a relentless sun.
If there were no clouds or dew in an arid region, nothing would survive. One drop of dew is enough to sustain life. So it is with sentient beings who are plagued moment after moment by the heat of vexation. The smallest amount of Buddhadharma is enough to encourage them to continue to practice. It nourishes practice and helps it to grow.
— The Sword of Wisdom by Master Sheng-Yen (page 156)