(Editor's Note: From August 28 to September 3, the Sagely City of Ten Thousand Buddhas held a Water, Land, and Air Dharma Assembly for Quelling Disasters and Praying for Blessings. The seven-day program included Sutra recitation, bowing in repentance, the transmission of the Precepts for the Deceased, and other Buddhist events. Due to the supreme conditions of the Dharma Assembly and the sincerity of the participants, many people received inconceivable responses. One layperson wrote an essay and poem about his experience to praise the merit and virtue of the Buddhas, Dharma and Sangha, hoping to cause people to believe in the Triple Jewel and bring forth a great Bodhi resolve.)
When Ananda was dwelling in tranquil solitude, one night in the third watch he saw a hungry ghost named Flaming Mouth who had a ghastly, terrifying appearance: his body was decrepit, his mouth was flaming, his throat was thin as a needle's tip, his hair was disheveled, and he had long fangs and claws. The ghost told Ananda, "Your life will end in three days, and you will be reborn among the hungry ghosts."
Upon hearing this, Ananda was greatly alarmed, and the hairs on his body stood on end. Early the next morning, he went to tell the Buddha what he had seen and asked for instruction. The Buddha told him that limitlessly many kalpas ago, Gwan Shr Yin Bodhisattva Mahasattva had obtained a dharma called "The Dharani Dharma of the Thus Come One of Limitless Awesome Virtue, Liberation and Brightness." If this Dharani Dharma is performed seven times, it can transform one bit of food into all kinds of food and drink of sweet dew, which can satisfy the hunger of as many hungry ghosts as the sands in limitless Ganges Rivers. They will all be filled with unlimited supremely wonderful food and drink, obtain the fruition of sagehood, and be released from their suffering bodies. Upholding this Dharani Dharma will increase your blessings, wisdom, and lifespan. The hungry ghosts will be able to be reborn in the heavens or the Pure Land, or obtain the body of a human or god. The donor will be able to avert hindrances and calamities, lengthen life, and obtain superior blessings in the present. In the future he will realize Bodhi, bring forth a great resolve, and make a universal, unlimited offering to all sentient beings, parents of lives in many kalpas past, beings in the hells and the ghostly realms, and all sentient beings, down to the smallest bug. All who come to the assembly will, by the Buddha's awesome light, obtain its supreme benefits and receive human and heavenly bliss.
The Meaning of the Flaming Mouth Ceremony
"Yoga" is a Sanskrit word meaning "response." It is a general term for the Secret Division. Briefly speaking, the hand performs secret mudras, the mouth recites true words, the mind concentrates on contemplation, and thus the three karmas of body, mouth and mind mutually respond and unite.
The Purpose of the Ceremony and Those Who Come For Food and Drink
The Flaming Mouth Ceremony is held for hungry ghosts;
When they die and become ghosts they have no way to eat.
They cannot enjoy the food when it comes
Thus there are beings in the human realm
With kind and compassionate minds
Who prepare food and drink to offer to them
All who come to this ceremony
Are beings of the ghostly path.
Men, women, and children,
The elderly, the feeble, and the sick,
Those who drowned or shot, or died prematurely,
Those who died as soldiers in battle,
All those who cannot be reborn,
And are wandering in their spiritual bodies
May all come to join this Dharma assembly
To eat their fill and cast off greed and stupidity.