Before every annual Water, Land, Air Dharma Assembly, there are five preliminary pujas. The purpose is to gather everyone and encourage each other as we are companions on the way of the bodhisattva. Let’s advance fearlessly and steadily towards the enlightenment.
Attaining Buddhahood also means acquiring omniscient wisdom. One would know everything in the universe and the ultimate truth. The truth is unarising and unceasing. With omniscient wisdom, we can serve and dedicate ourselves with the prajna mindfulness through lifetimes. At the same time, we can extend the network of positive connections. By accumulating the merits little by little, a Buddha-field can be accomplished.
There are times where we feel very contributive and have done a lot. However, it is still not enough if we are to attain Buddhahood. It’d require kalpas of aspiration and engagement to accomplish. Samsara is an inescapable experience that we must go through because we've committed harmful conduct. Hence, we are paying back the karmic debt, good and bad. Everything will be counted.
Keep in mind that our original face is pure and undefiled. How have we become so messed up now? Although we are humans now, where will we go in the next life? What will we become? Since we've got the opportunity to practice Dharma, we should transform and adopt different roles as an arhat, a bodhisattva, a Buddha, and more. As we practice, our original face that is pure will gradually resurface.
To let it resurface, we need to reach enlightenment. Then, we'd rediscover our Buddha nature that is pure, unchanging, and inseparable from all tathagatas. Once the enlightenment is reached, samsara is gone. Such nature is pure, innate, unshakable, no coming, and no going. Our nature can also give rise to all dharmas or merits. Finding ourselves can set us free from samsara, suffering, and obtain the ultimate happiness.
In our concept of “hell” is a realm lack merits. Hell beings don't even have the time to think about virtuous acts. They are immersed in "suffering". As we have a human birth full of freedoms and endowments, we need to utilize it to serve others and to accumulate the merits for the enlightenment. The Dharma assembly is an opportunity for us to make a positive connection with all sentient beings. Let us extend the positive network, engage in virtues, practice diligently, and remove the habitual tendencies. Rest assured, we will be the hope for the future.