水陸法會 自梁武帝 歷經千年
參與眾生 無以計數 所度鬼魂
無以計數 此乃菩薩 憐憫眾生
不願眾生 受災受苦 故於人問
梁朝武帝 方示此法 因緣殊勝
無以言喻 人間眾生 只貪享樂
不願造福 故多造業 死後不能
往生淨土 流離鬼道 悲淒可憐
水陸法會 功德無量 普度冤魂
普度怨親 普度債主 普度有情
有怨有苦 有悲有凄 皆能往生
The Meaning Of The Ceremony For Sending Off The Sages
The Water-Land-Air Dharma Assembly aims to universally rescue the souls of those who suffered unjust deaths in each of the paths, and all the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and heavenly spirits are invited to come and participate. Those conducting the ceremony must be thoroughly familiar with the procedures, the Dharma instruments, and the rituals, so that they can aid the aggrieved souls to be reborn in the Pure Land. At the completion of the Dharma Assembly, we bring forth our utmost sincerity and respect to bow in homage to all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas we invited, and to send them off. We also request the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to guide all the ghosts and spirits to be reborn in the Pure Land. Only then can the Dharma Assembly be considered successfully completed. So this is called "Sending off the Sages."
A Response Intermingles with the Way
On the day of sending off the Sages at City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, I first saw heavenly maidens scattering flowers, which fell like rain. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas arrived, as well as the gods, dragons, and the 8-fold Pantheon of Dharma-protectors, Lord Shakra, the Great Brahma Heaven Lord, and all the Heavenly gods, heavenly generals, and heavenly troops. At this time a majestic palace appeared in the sky, surrounded by a profusion of pure lotus blossoms, both large and small. (I don't know whether these were the nine grade of lotuses of the Western Pure Land.) There was a heavenly being sitting upon each lotus flower. The sound of flowing water could be heard, as well as the music of heavenly maidens, whose subtle and far-reaching tones were not of this world.
Many rays of light shone from the heavens onto the ground and the Way-place, saturating the whole Way-place with golden light. Shakyamuni Buddha, Amitabha Buddha, Gwan Yin Bodhisattva, Great Strength Bodhisattva, Earth Treasury King Bodhisattva, the eight great Vajra Dharma-protecting Bodhisattvas and a multitude of Bodhisattvas appeared in the Way-place. All the lay-people and left-home people in the Assembly bowed in homage to all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, recited the Sutras and chanted the names of the Sages. At this time the Venerable Hsuan Hua was seen sitting in the center, wearing a compassionate, subtly smiling expression, and emitting a great light of kindness from his heart. Those in the Way-place whose hearts were sincere could receive this compassionate illumination as a response to the Way. This was a manifestation of the Master's great and extensive spiritual penetrations and power of vows, bestowing blessings upon the living beings of the world, and universally rescuing the distressed beings of the ghostly realm. Because of the Master's vows, the earnest and proper recitation of the Dharma Masters, and the sincere prayers of the participants, all souls were able to come to this Way-place to join the splendid ceremony, whether they had died by drowning in the water, died unjustly on the land, or perished in an accident in the air. There were as well the aggrieved souls who failed to be reborn in a better place in life after life, and those who have cultivated the Way without attaining rebirth.
At this time the Master radiated light from all over his body, and emitted a golden light from his mouth. He assumed the Dharma appearance of Earth Treasury King, the Bodhisattva of Great Vows, wearing a pentagonal Buddha crown, holding a tin staff, and surrounded by a multitude of disciples. Some assumed their left-home or lay appearance as left-home or laypeople from past lives. Some appeared as already-accomplished Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, surrounding the Master. Among his disciples of this life, those who could be seen were the disciples who sincerely cultivated beside the Master, upholding the Buddha Dharma of the Great Vehicle. These many disciples have all come on the power of their vows, wishing to help the Master exhaustively cross over all living beings suffering from their offenses, before attaining Buddhahood. (Because the secrets of Heaven cannot be revealed before the conditions are ripe, I cannot tell everyone the names of these individuals.)
Also seen were the Bodhisattvas Wei Tou and Chye Lan, standing on the Master's right and left. Lord Shakra presented a letter to the Master, who smiled and accepted it without speaking. This letter was of yellow brocade, but its contents could not be seen. The Master put the letter away and remained sitting in the Way-place. The heavenly troops and generals were also seen carrying another letter, which drifted down from space. Opening of itself, it showed the names of numerous people, which could not be seen clearly. I remember only one name which passed under my gaze, that of Yang Shu-hwei. Later, I discovered that there really was such a person, and she was one of the main sponsors of the Water-Land-Air Dharma Assembly this time. I had no way to remember or record all of them.
Also seen was a great Dharma ship, which a multitude of ghosts and spirits had already boarded. The ghosts and spirits were standing there waiting. There were men and women with unfamiliar faces, those who had died untimely deaths, cripples, the old and feeble, women and children, those manifesting as generals, and numerous ghosts and spirits, all with sorrowful expressions of suffering.
The drums and gongs now sounded in unison in the Way-place, and those sending off the Sages circumambulated the Way-place with minds of devotion. The numerous ghosts bowed in gratitude for the kindness of the Bodhisattvas, the sponsors, and all living beings. Some were sincere and repentant to the point of tears; it was truly touching. Amitabha Buddha's name was chanted continuously, as the heavenly maidens made music. The lute, gong, drum, cymbals, handbell, and large bell were all played, making a heavenly sound. All the heavenly maidens came in joyful welcome. The gate of the heavens was seen slowly opening in the distance, and a bright light shined out. This light became a brilliant orb. The ship at the Dharma Assembly followed the light and entered the orb, gradually disappearing from sight. From the ground, only the orb of light could be seen, but not the ship. (One of Amitabha Buddha's vows is that the Western Pure Land will have boundless light. Does this mean that the ghosts and spirits in this Dharma Assembly all went to the Pure Land? Only those who sincerely participated in this assembly will be able to understand.)
The Meaning of the Water-Land Assembly
The Water-Land Dharma Assembly, starting with Emperor Wu of Lyang, Has passed through a thousand years.
The living beings who have taken part, are beyond reckoning.
The ghosts and souls who have been rescued, are beyond reckoning. This is because the Bodhisattvas, pitying living beings,
Are unwilling to let living beings, undergo calamities and suffering. Therefore in the World, to Emperor Wu of the Lyang Dynasty, This Dharma was revealed.
Its supreme causes and conditions, cannot be expressed in words. The people of the world, only know how to enjoy happiness, And do not want to create blessings.
Thus they create much karma, and after death they cannot Be reborn in the Pure Land.
Wandering aimlessly in ghostly realms, in grief and sorrow, they are to be pitied. The Water-Land Dharma Assembly, boundless in merit and virtue, Universally rescuing souls of ancestors, universally rescuing relatives in distress, Universally rescuing creditors, universally rescuing sentient beings, Those with grievance and suffering, those with sorrow and melancholy, Can all be reborn, in the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss.
As a Buddhist disciple, I've had a response in this supreme event. It is truly the result of a sincere mind
That this lucky appearance can be shown.
There must be causes and conditions.
These supreme causes and conditions are inconceivable. Living beings should take care not to doubt this,
Carelessly slandering the Dharma Assembly.
All living beings taking part, should earnestly seek repentance and practice giving. Giving both wealth and Dharma,
One can perfect one's merit and virtue.
Having a human body which is hard to obtain,
If one can offer it up to the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, protecting the Triple Jewel in life after life,
One can perfect inexhaustible blessings.
Those fond of wealth, sex, and money
Enjoy blessings and inexhaustible happiness in life.
Because they consume happiness, their blessings are used up.
When blessings are used up, they die. After death, having used up their blessings,
They cannot be reborn in the Buddha's Pure Land. Wandering homeless, they become ghosts in distress,
With no dwelling and nothing to eat,
With no blessings, no good deeds, and no virtuous conduct,
The lone souls and desolate ghosts suffer and grieve.
Who can truly understand
That when a person dies, the body dies but the soul doesn't die?
The soul falls into an unfamiliar land and roams everywhere,
Seeking sympathy and pity, but no one helps. If they enjoyed happiness and blessings in life,
They will know that when blessings end, evil retribution comes.
I respectfully exhort all good living beings
To cherish blessings, plant blessings, and thus have blessings.
Take care not to lose your true blessings.
The Buddha Dharma is born from compassion.
See the conduct and vows of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas;
Out of pity for living beings they do not renounce rescuing them.
Those who have seen and heard this today Must have planted good roots in the past,
So now they can know of these causes and conditions.
/just exhort living beings to cherish their blessings.
Don't exhaust your blessings and become a solitary spirit.
There is no greater sorrow, but who will take pity?