What follows is an extremely important line. This is a special feature of the Buddhadharma, which is, "Although the substance is completely true and permanent, it has to be cultivated and certified to." As it is said, "With this very mind, one becomes a Buddha. With this very mind, one is the Buddha. We shall take refuge with, dwell in and uphold the Triple Jewel, and accept the pure and wonderful precepts." This is interesting, but how do we do that? Although everyone has the qualifications and possesses the substance of the Buddha, the Dharma, the Sangha, and the precepts, without being deficient in any way, we must cultivate and certify to them so that they manifest. That's the kind of mentality, idea, view, and awakening that we should have while we do the Buddha's work. That way, this very mind is the Buddha. Buddhahood isn't acquired from the outside. It isn't conferred upon you by God or the Jade Emperor, nor sold to you by some guru, nor acquired in a ceremony of anointing the crown. Rather, it's the wonderful fruition obtained through one's faith, understanding, practice, and certification. You could say that this religion is very democratic. It is extremely wonderful and difficult to come by, but everyone has a share.
What follows is the taking of refuge, then the transmission of the Ten Major Bodhisattva Precepts for all the souls. These ten precepts are the same as in the Ten Major and Forty-eight Minor Bodhisattva Precepts that monastics receive. We then conclude the ceremony by transferring our merit and virtue.
Taking the Precepts for the Deceased is truly a filial act. As it is said, "The tree wishes to be still, yet the wind blows on. The child wishes to be filial, but the parents are gone." Everyone has heard of this saying. It describes someone whose parents have passed away, and who did not know how to be filial when they were alive. Now that he realizes that he should be filial, it is too late. He could have taken good care of his parents for several decades, but he missed his chance. People in this situation may practice filial respect by receiving the Precepts for the Deceased on their parents' behalf. The souls we represent have already passed on, but we can create merit and virtue and transfer it to them, thereby extending the practice of filial respect beyond their physical life span. Isn't that wonderful? Even though they aren't physically around, we still have a connection with them in our hearts, and we can use that connection to transfer merit to them. It's truly wonderful. That is how the Venerable Master explained the Precepts for the Deceased at the CTTB.
This could be considered a secret dharma. It's an esoteric dharma of the Vajrayana, similar to those in the Flaming Mouth and Mengshan ceremonies used to liberate ghosts and deceased spirits. I believe that if you learn this dharma, you will create tremendous merit and virtue. That is how the Venerable Master explained it.
There's one thing that I hope everyone will understand. When you go to the Rebirth Hall, you see lots of plaques that say, "Lotus Seats for Enemies and Creditors." We transfer merit and virtue to our enemies, relatives, and creditors so that they may be reborn in the Land of Ultimate Bliss. That Dharma is different from the Dharma of the Precepts for the Deceased, where we request and receive the Bodhisattva precepts on behalf of someone that we know and remember; it could be a relative or a friend.
With the plaques in the rebirth hall, we want to liberate as many enemies and creditors as possible, in order to dissolve bad affinities and create good ones. Since we don't want our creditors, with whom we have bad affinities, to seek us out, we create merit and virtue and dedicate it to them. With the Precepts for the Deceased, we are receiving precepts on behalf of someone else. We cannot do that with a creditor. Can we force our creditor to receive the precepts? Our creditor might wish us dead if we do that. Do you understand. Receiving the precepts for someone is a filial act of gratitude. On the other hand, we want to liberate as many enemies and creditors as possible. These two dharmas are essentially different. We can only hold one plaque and receive the precepts for one person with whom we are acquainted. The plaques for enemies and creditors, however, can represent many beings, not necessarily human and not necessarily someone we know. Therefore, the nature of these plaques is different. If you are clear about this, we will not have to explain this every time we transmit the Precepts for the Deceased. This Dharma is one of great filiality, but it is also one of great compassion. It is an awesome Vajrayana Dharma.
To be continued