Int'l Congregation of Buddha-puja & Sangha-dana 2019 - Compassion & Filial Piety as Highlight
In the Buddhist scripture 'The Ullambana Sutra' , Maudgalyayana followed Buddha’s instructions to liberate his deceased Mother, who descended to the Hungry Ghost Destiny for bad karma she had caused while living, by making offerings of Five Fruits of Hundred Flavors and the world’s best delicacies as provisions for sanghas of great virtues from all Ten Directions. Two major Buddhist events are marked and celebrated for the lunar month of July - the Waterland Dharma Assembly for the ancestors and the deceased on the one hand, and the 'Buddha-puja & Sangha-dana' on the other hand to express gratitude toward the parents with filial piety, as well as to relieve suffering in the three Destinies of respectively Hell, Hungry Ghost, and Animal.
The Chung-Hwa International Society of Merits for Buddha-puja & Sangha-dana has been holding an annual congregation for the namesake event. For 15 years running, Buddhist monastics from all over are invited to the yearly Sangadana. By participating in the event, Buddhist followers make contributions and offerings to the Triple Gem to repay parents and resolve karmic deadlocks, while eradicating sinful karma and replenishing the Field of Merit. The Buddha-puja & Sangha-dana 2019 was held at the Sports Arena of the Linkou Athletics University, with a crowd size of close to 30,000 in participation for a concentration of positive thoughts and filial piety as the basis for a bonanza of Dharma joy and special splendor.
Rituals governing the offering procedures strictly followed / Undivided attention in sincerity and humility the best of all doctrines
Following the Purification and Enchantment Rituals in the early morning and in an austere atmosphere fortified by the sound of bells and drums, everyone in the audience stood up and held their hands together upright to show humility in welcoming the canopy-sheltered procession of Buddhist dignitaries including the congregation chairman and supervisors, elders and maha sanghas of different Buddhist traditions, and Dharma masters. It was a grandiose occasion. Congregation chairman, Venerable Master Ming Guang, cited in his remarks the ‘Karunika-raja Prajnaparamita Sutra’ with the story as to how a small kingdom ruler committed the cardinal sin but was able to redeem himself by reaching the enlightenment upon comprehending the Dharma, to highlight the rare blessing of the merits by virtue of the Buddha-puja and Sangha-dana. The monastics were furthermore reminded of their solemn mission in carrying on the Buddhist tradition and wisdom, as well as securing a permanent abode for the true Dharma. The remark went on to encourage the monastics ready for the sangha-dana to do justice to their mission in spreading Buddhism and disseminating the Dharma so much so, that all sentient beings would be able to receive Buddha’s compassionate teachings anywhere and learn to abide by moral ethics while harboring compassion themselves.
When the Ritual of Presenting-the-Offerings began, merit-earners from around the world in their formal clothing or national costumes and with the utmost awe and humility made the ‘Ten Provision’ containing ‘Incense, Flowers, Lights, Pigments, Fruits / Tea, Food, Gem, Pearl, Clothing’ as tributes to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The Ullambana Sutra was then recited together to express gratitude to the parents for the upbringing and to the liberation thanks to the virtuous power of the monastics. A mantra was then chanted to invoke the 24 celestial guardian-gods to descend and safeguard the congregation and all its participants. The Buddhist grace was said before the meal to show respect to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The meal featured meticulously prepared vegetarian dishes for a feast for the monastics.
The Monastics held Lights to show the Way, lest Sentient Beings get lost
The lunar month of July has been traditionally labeled the ‘Ghost Month’ ready to liberate sentient beings of the Six Destinies from their sufferings, but the same period of time is referred to in Buddhist terms as ‘the Month of Filial Piety’ or ‘the Month of Compassion’ to express the Buddhist viewpoint of filial piety. The Ling Jiou Mountain Buddhist Society had just completed its own Water-Land-Air Dharm Assembly 2019, and the founding abbot the Venerable Chan Master Hsin Tao is well-reputed for leading a delegation on a pilgrimage to Myanmar to conduct a large-scale annual sangha-dana for 10 thousand monastics. Dharma Master Hsin Tao was again invited to serve as a congregation supervisor and made the comment in his speech that in the era of the ‘sad-dharma-vipralopa’ there is deep-rooted greed in people hard to eradicate and we find ourselves in a chaotic world. The Dharma, however, is an illuminating light that lends itself well for targeted treatment of the ignorance in sentient beings, and the sanghas are critical for the Dharma to maintain a stable abode to guide sentient beings in the proper consciousness and the right mindfulness to ultimately transform knowledge into wisdom. Sangha-dana can help cultivate positive thoughts in purification, and it is hoped that the power of Buddhist vows will continue without disruption to secure the sustainability of the Dharma.
Filial piety reigns as the most characteristic of all virtues in the traditional Chinese culture and the monastics belong as one of the Triple Gem critical for the legacy of Buddha’s teachings and the dissemination of the Dharma. They are further capable of helping to eradicate sinful karma of the past. The Ritual of Buddha-puja & Sangha-dana not only helps people in showing gratitude to parents of past generations by praying for blessings to come their way but assists in continuing the Buddhist tradition and legacy by making sure that the Dharma’s lights will shine on without flickering or dimming, so as to help sentient beings in cultivating wisdom and fortune to prove worthy of the Bodhi and attain enlightenment the soonest.