Thursday, August 21, 1975 afternoon Ullambana (continued)
Bhikshu Heng Sure:
He serves the disciples, the lay community, by allowing them to make offerings through him and thus cultivate blessings for themselves. In this way they also make offerings to deceased relatives, and do real work for others. A layperson can make offerings and cultivate this principle of Bodhisattvaship, which is helping himself and helping others.
By making offerings to the Triple Jewel, you are doing real work for other people–you are planting seeds in the field of blessings that the Sangha represents. At the same time you are tying conditions with the Dharma so that in the future you can encounter the miraculous Dharma again and continue your cultivation towards Buddhahood. And you are also keeping this pure, ancient wisdom in the world a little longer by making these offerings. So it's an important role and shouldn't be taken lightly. Now in America where the Dharma is really young, the sprout is just out of the ground. It's a sturdy sprout moving towards the sun, but it's still a small one. People have to investigate how this relationship between the Triple Jewel, between the Sangha and the lay community operates. There is a proper way for it to work.
For a Sanghan to accept any offering whatsoever is to put himself under a heavy karmic burden. When accepting an offering, the Sanghan says, 'Well, I've got to get enlightened because I've accepted this. Otherwise, I'm making a karmic mistake." Only an Arhat is really worthy of an offering. That's one of the names of the Buddha–Worthy of Offerings. Once Sanghans accept an offering, they're giving themselves a heavy mandate to cultivate to enlightenment. They should not miss that point. On the way to Buddhahood, the Buddha cultivated the Paramita or Perfection of Giving. He gave up his life, which you could say is a sincere offering. Time and time again, for the sake of the Dharma, for the sake of other living beings... The Master has said that to give up your life for the Dharma is the ultimate. It's said that the Buddha gave up his life for the sake of the Dharma as many times as there are atoms in the universe. That's taking a long view of history, but that's the way it is. He gave up his life that many times. How much the more did he give up his external wealth–things like money, possessions, even wives, husbands, children, families, houses, vehicles...
Venerable Master: If anyone has experienced any unusual states, now is the time to tell us about them.
Student: My mind feels a lot clearer than it did before I came here. I feel like when I leave here I will have a few more tools to cultivate the seed that has been planted within me. I've only heard the sounds, "Namo E Mi Tuo Fo" a few times, and at first when I chanted it, it didn't mean anything to me. I centered on the concept of putting my trust and faith in "limitless light," and that uplifted me a great deal. I haven't yet seen any tall Buddhas as big as Mount Sumeru with purple eyes, but maybe if I am persistent to use these tools well.
I have something I would like to share with the people who are planning to take refuge. When I took refuge with the Master last year, I didn't have a clear idea of what I was doing. I was drawn there through faith, very auspiciously, as someone said. Before I left for San Francisco, someone gave me a very meaningful poem which I would like to read:
There are ways we travel
Silent, golden and yet unseen
By most who stand behind
The hand of life as it sows the field.
Those who know say let it go
And it will grow to radiate itself.
For very near you stands the guardian.
The gate he guards is never closed
To close inspection.
Close your eyes to distracting images,
Open your mind's eye and say,
"I am the Buddha;
the Buddha lives in me.
His compassion on shines,
and forever lights up my way."
There are truths we know,
And yet beyond our knowing
Still more await.
And again we stand before the guardian
Of yet another gate. "
To be continued