The 2018 LJM Water, Land and Air Dharma Ritual hoists the Thang-ga of the Kālachakra Mandala for Enchantment for all Lives

The 2018 LJM Water, Land and Air Dharma Ritual hoists the Thang-ga of the Kālachakra Mandala for Enchantment for all Lives
One o’clock after midnight, August 11, and all lights were on at the Taoyuan Arena, as the 2018 Ling Jiou Mountain (LJM) Water, Land and Air Dharma Ritual commenced to construct the Enchantment as a very special Dharma feast at its inner shrine. Strong percussion music with drums and bells signaled the prelude, and a firm and solemn mandala was initiated amidst chantings of mantras. To commemorate the occasion being the 25th anniversary of the LJM Water, Land and Air Dharma Ritual(Shui Lu Mahāpujā), a special arrangement with the performance of the Diamond Dance was in the program to bestow auspices on the audience -- as there is a wide-spread notion that watching the performance allows the viewers an instant liberation. Put differently, one would need to be both fortunate and virtuous to see the Diamond Dance with own eyes and the experience greatly reduces the viewer's kārmic obstacles and burdens.

The inner shrine is the spiritual centerpiece of the Water, Land and Air Dharma Ritual and the Enchantment always spearheads all functions of Buddha worship to officially open the grand annual ritual for a collective liberation for life and peace. The pristine, rainbow-colored, canopy atop the venue has a bright, golden illumination in glass-like beams shone on it. And with the light bouncing back and forth in the space, the grandiose Buddha statues become further accentuated in their august solemnity. Alas, it is indeed a micro rendition of the Flower Garland Cosmos as described in the Avataṃsaka Sūtra.

Dharma Master Hsin Tao said that ‘the solemn mandala serves to help calm down the heart for peace to reign, to pave the way for the unsurpassed wisdom, and to move towards achieving the Buddha Dharma.’

The enchantment is to ritualistically construct boundaries for a multi-dimensional space that is impeccably clean and defies disdains and disturbances by evil spirits for the rituals to proceed smoothly. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, sages and saints from all ten directions, are invited into this clean sphere and onto the holy platform to bless us with a peace of mind devoid of stress. Buddhist precepts are employed to construct boundaries for the enchantment so that any and all links to negative karmas are cut off.

The Water, Land and Air Dharma Ritual (Shui Lu Mahāpujā) is a life-decoding task and a major process to transform mortals into sainthood, as well as to settle kārmic scores and to free entanglement. The Water, Land and Air Dharma Ritual is there to bear the burdens of desires of all sentient beings and to benefit from it we must let go of all our everyday worries and secular concerns for an utmost concentration.

The LJM Water, Land and Air Dharma Ritual achieves a Pure Land as the result of toils with three elevated conditions of the state of mind: the devotion to Buddhas, the faith in the Dharma, and the Bodhicitta pledge to help sentient beings attain enlightenment. The Pure Land, meanwhile, refers to the presence of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha to receive those with the faith in, the vow to, and the deed of the Buddhist conduct.

The enchantment rite that strictly follows what the Dharma ritual prescribes, with thousands of participants from home and abroad wearing the plaided black Haiching robe, with sūtras in hand and chanting mantras and experiencing visualization in sync, proceeds to construct and define a multidimensional mandala with boundaries under and above the ground, as well as in the air. With celestial deities safeguarding the designated space to ward off disturbances from the outside, the mandala that is based on the positive mindfulness of all present transforms into a lively space that delights the heavenly creatures and grants bliss to the sentient beings, which, by definition, is also the holiest Kālachakra mandala.

In his compassionate remarks, Dharma Master Hsin Tao said that to properly construct boundaries for the enchantment, it does not stop with the ritualistic proceedings but goes beyond to include setting boundaries for the three kārmic action, through body (physical/action), mouth (heart and mind/speech), and thought (spiritual/perception). That is the ‘life enchantment’ in other words. Only when we are properly settled in with our own life enchantment it is possible to fulfill life with bliss and blessings.

With the enchantment to initiate the mandala also unlocks our collective memory of relying on the unfathomable power of Guan Yin’s great compassion and vows for an Internet of Buddhas with built-in firewalls to fend off hackers so that the Buddha functions proceed smoothly, and all participants can focus on their practice in quiet and without random thoughts.

Positive karma knows no borders and participating representatives from home and abroad will make offerings of their homage in line with the sacred international rituals, and venerable masters of the three main Buddhist traditions gather on the occasion to usher in bliss and blessings of the Dharma. Representatives of Dharma Guards from Taiwan, the USA, Indonesia, Thailand, Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong and China take turns in presenting their homage. Dressed in their traditional clothing and bringing local produce from their respective port of origin in the forms of flower, fruit, incense, lamps, etc. to display their highest esteem for the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Common to all is the wish that from the moment the enchantment is complete, the power of Guan Yin’s great compassion and vows and the true Dharma of equality and non-obstruction will help to transform the world towards the attainment of enlightenment. Common to all is also the wish for lives in harmony, for the Earth in safety, for that sentient beings be allowed in the Dharma realm, so that all become entitled to the bliss of the Dharma.

Upon the completion of the presentation of homage to the Buddhas, strong music of percussion with bells and drums filled the space and confetti of flower petals and sequences come swirling down from above. In an august and solemn atmosphere, venerated masters of the three main Buddhist traditions gather up on stage center to bless the occasion and the participants with all auspices and fulfillment. With Dharma Master Hsin Tao in the lead, the line-up of the most venerated masters included Sayadaw Bhaddanta Sandi Marbhivamsa also the Secretary-General of the State Sangha Mahānāyaka Committee, Myanmar; The 7th Nyingma School Chancelor of Tibetan Buddhism His Holiness the incumbent Dharma King Kathog Getse Rinpoche also one of the five Golden Throne holders; the Bhaddanta Kumara, Chancellor of the National Buddhist Buiram University, Myanmar; the distinguished Jimmy Dorje Rinpoche; the venerable Bhaddanta Ponnyananda Aggamaha Suddnamajoticadaja Tirimingala Mansu Shan Monastery Lashio, Myanmar; Bhaddanta Sukha Minda also Venerable Chan Master and State Sangha Committee Chairman and Swe Thamin Monastery Muse, Muse Tsp., Myanmar.

This year’s enchantment reached its highlight with the Diamond Dance, which not only brings an instant liberation to the viewers with its power of dispelling evils and protecting the Way, while its music and chants add to the virtues of the mandala. The performers and the viewers alike can accumulate bountiful merit and energy through the masterful dance, the shrilling music, and the performance with those ritual objects. Symbolic religious significance permeates through the movement to command ghosts and deities, and for the dance to possess such power, its dedication must follow a strict procedure in the sequence of the enchantment, laying the foundation, constructing the mandala, ushering into the mandala, before the dance can be performed to demonstrate the determination in safeguarding the Buddha Dharma.