Making Water Bowl Offerings
Teaching given by The Venerable Lama Zopa Rinpoche our precious lama at Deer Park, Madison, USA, in July 1998.
The purpose of my life is to achieve Enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings, and so I have to collect merit. Lama Tsong Khapa asked Manjushri how to achieve Enlightenment. And Manjushri advised that sentiment beings should endeavour to gain wisdom in order to realize the ultimate nature of reality. Without wisdom we cannot understand the true nature of Enlightenment. So the main thing is to develop wisdom and to cease the mistakes of the mind which are the gross and subtle defilements – then only can we get rid of negative karma leading to freedom from suffering altogether.
We should use the method to collect extensive merit and then practicing wisdom and method together, by completing these two paths we will be able to achieve Enlightenment and our mind and body will become Buddha’s holy mind and body.
CREATING CONDITIONS FOR ENLIGHTENMENT
And then Lama Tsong Khapa asked Manjushri what is the quickest way to attain Enlightenment, and Manjushri answered that it was necessary to create the necessary conditions for Enlightenment:
To collect merit by making offerings such as the Mandala Offering
To purify obstacles in order to have realizations e.g. by doing the Vajrasattva Practice
To gain the blessings of the holy guru by one pointedly asking for blessings from the guru.
To do the various Practices as advised by the guru.
Thus having planted the seed you need the necessary conditions, you need the realizations, you need to practice the methods for acquiring merit. To collect merit, making Mandala offerings is one way. Another way is to make water bowl offerings. The seed you plant to produce the tree requires water, soil etc. You also need obstacles to be removed. Eg when your seed gets eaten by insects you will have no tree. So you must also do practices that purify the mind. These are very important and vital.
BLESSINGS FROM THE GURU
And you need also to receive the blessings from the guru. Without blessings from the guru the mind cannot be transformed. You must make one pointed request from the Guru, only then can you get the Guru’s blessings. You must make practices. What are the causes for receiving the Guru’s blessings ?
We must practice Guru Devotion. When we look at the Guru, we must understand that the Guru is inseparable from Buddha – then you transform your mind into pure mind. This way your mind becomes Guru Yoga – this realization is the root of the path to Enlightenment. The whole success of the path to Enlightenment depends on how much one can practice Guru Devotion.
MAKING WATER BOWL OFFERINGS
When you clean the bowl the meditation is the same as cleaning any place.
When you do meditation there is preparation, actual meditation and completion.
In the preparation there are 6 steps.
Cleaning Meditation The mind transforms into virtue – purifies the mind. ( whether cleaning with cloth or broom). Think, " the whole path to Enlightenment". Which meditation you are choosing eg. if you are trying to choose Guru Devotion then you say, " this is to sweep away all the defilements, negative imprints left on the mental continuum by all the wrong concepts. Then think also of all other sentient beings. So when you are cleaning you think that you are cleaning all the defilements and negative imprints e.g. any non devotional thoughts towards the Guru – like thinking about the mistakes of the Guru – you should clean away all such thoughts. If you choose to meditate on say Bodhicitta Realization, then the dust that you are cleaning are the self cherishing thoughts. Think " the broom is sweeping away all these negative thoughts" . Say the words:
Avoid dust, avoid stains – This meaning is to leave behind all anger, attachment and ignorance. Stains are negative imprints – the subtle defilements. The whole story of the two Arhats to demonstrate that cleaning can mean purification. Here Rinpoche told us the story of the two Arhats.
One had difficulties memorizing the text but Lord Buddha helped him by granting him Realizations. Buddha asked the stupid Arhat to clean all the monks shoes and each time he did it he had to recite the cleaning mantra so that after some time of cleaning shoes he succeeded in memorizing the mantra and his mind became purified. Then Buddha asked him to clean the monastery, the left and right side. Buddha did this to help to purify his mind. Then after cleaning both sides and reciting the " Durupang, Timapang so many times he realized Emptiness and attained Enlightenment.
So when you clean the bowls say:
"This is the place of the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sanggha" and then visualize all the dust and all the dirt entering the ground. Before you throw away recite om ah hung then think that the dirt is changed to nectar and flows into the mouth of the Lord of Death and the mouth is then sealed with a golden double vajra.
Before you make water offerings place a scarf over your mouth to cover it. When you serve offerings/food to any high lama you should also do this to make sure that you don’t get your defiled breath into the food or offering. Put water into the bowl and then bless it with om ah hung which means Buddhas holy body speech and mind.
Never place an empty bowl in front of the altar. There should always be something inside the bowl. This is because due to dependant arising an empty bowl will cause poverty. When you set up the bowls do not put bowls too far apart as this will cause you to become distant from your gurus. Also you cannot touch the bowls, if you do wisdom becomes dull. The space between the bowls should be one grain of rice. When you offer water you should not make too much noise while pouring the water into the bowls as this becomes disrespectful, and your mind will get disturbed. Be gentle and be very respectful.
Water should not overflow. If it does your morality is not stable. Water should be full up to one rice grain but it should not overflow.
When you place one bowl of water in front of the Buddha statue it becomes the cause for achieving Enlightenment and even just visualized, the effect is the same. The water offering becomes the cause for Enlightenment and the merit gained is unbelievable. It can liberate so many sentient beings from the sufferings of samsara. This also causes you to become liberated from samsara, and not only that it also causes you yourself to achieve a good rebirth in future lifetimes.
Thus if in front of a picture of Buddha one makes offerings, prostrations - all this becomes cause for Enlightenment, from liberation from samsara and to achieve good rebirths in future lifetimes. That is why it is good to have many pictures of Buddha ( as many as possible) in the house. Every tiny offering made becomes cause for Enlightenment. Even just one tiny flower. So the benefits of holy objects is priceless. No money can buy it – its invaluable.
MEDITATION WHEN MAKING OFFERING.
Before making offerings it is good to think of your motivation. E.g. if the motivation is to Bodhicitta then think
" the purpose of my life is to free all sentient beings from their sufferings and to lead them all to Enlightenment, and so I have to collect merit in order to myself become enlightened." Generate a strong motivation of Bodhicitta. By doing so each bowl of water offering collects numberless merit because each offering made is being done for numberless sentient beings. So if you chant mantra you are chanting for all sentient beings.
If you can, recite the long mantra ( Offering mantra) to bless the offerings. If not then just chant om ah hung. While filling the bowls think " this is nectar which appears to all the Buddhas whose nature is infinite bliss".
As the bowl fills up with nectar, think that all the Buddhas you have before you is your root Guru generating infinite bliss with your mind. At the same time all the holy objects of all the Buddhas are also your holy Guru and this generates infinite bliss.
WHY VISUALIZE ALL BUDDHAS AS GURU ?
Any small disrespect done to your parents – the negative karma becomes very big karma because your parents are very powerful negative karma, and will experience problems in this life, Even the smallest service done to parents the effect is so powerful. More powerful than parents is the ordained Sangha, then the Arhats and Bodhisattvas. If you look at a Bodhisattva with a disrespectful eye and an angry mind – negative karma is very powerful, and if you look at a Bodhisattva with devotional thought, the benefit is so powerful. So one Buddha is more powerful than numberless Bodhisattvas.
But one Guru, your Guru is even more powerful than numberless Buddhas. The minute you recognize yourself as a student of a Guru or receive a few words of mantra, the connection of guru disciple relationship is established. The minute this happens that guru becomes the most important person in your life even if that guru is not an enlightened being.
So make offerings to Guru is more powerful than making offerings to numberless Buddhas.
Nagarjuna, the sage said, " give up all offerings – attempt only offerings to the guru". The reason he said this is that you achieve the greatest merit by doing this – and also he said the Guru puja – you give one glass of water to a fellow disciple then you collect merit much more than making offerings to past and future Buddhas. Why ? because the disciple is the pore of the guru so all the power is from making offerings to the guru and everyone associated with the guru. The merit collected is inconceivable like sky. Most extensive merit.
So as you fill up the bowl imagine you are making offerings to the guru – as embodiments of the Buddhas – do this meditation. After this recite the long mantra ( the offering Dharani). This mantra makes the Buddhas receive numberless clouds of offerings. The mantra is called the Clouds of Offerings mantra also the prayer " power of truth" should be words of truth. Visualize numberless Buddhas receiving numberless offerings. The mantras are reproduced below:
OM NAMO BHAGAVATE BENDZAY SARWAPARMA DANA,
TATHAGATAYA ARHATE /SAMYAK SAM BUDDHAYA TAYATA OM
BENDZAY BENDZAY MAHA BENDZAY, MAHA TAYDZA BENDZAY
MAHA BIDYA BENDZAY , MAHA BODHICITTA BENDZAY
MAHA BODHI MENDO PASAM, KRAMANA BENDZAY SARWA KARMA
AWARANA BISHO DANA, BENDAZAY SOHA.
POWER OF TRUTH
By the power of the truth of the Three Jewels,
The power of the blessings
of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas,
The power of the great might.
Before reciting the mantra it is good to once again generate the motivation – all these offerings I receive from the kindness of sentient beings, I am making these offerings to achieve Enlightenment for their benefit. Before you offer 3 gems all the lights, flowers etc food and water and so forth one can give to all sentient beings – make charity then think " I am making offerings to the Guru, triple gem ". For myself to achieve Enlightenment for the sake of all sentient beings, I am offering on their behalf.
Then do the mantra of offerings. While reciting the mantra think that all the Buddhas of the ten directions are receiving the offerings. By thinking of the gurus – Lama Tsong Khapa – generates infinite bliss in their holy minds. Make offerings to the Guru merit field. In the center is Lama Losang Tuwang Dorje Chang. By thinking of each of those in the merit field as your root Guru and generating infinite bliss.
If you wish to elaborate and collect more merit then you imagine all the holy objects in America; then all the holy objects in Bodhgaya where 1000 Buddhas descend and also gurus. Then think of all the Buddhas as the essence of the root Guru and generate infinite bliss. Then think of all the holy objects in Tibet including the Buddha Shakyamuni statue. And in Nepal including the most precious stupa in Bouda and then in all the Buddhist countries of the world … thus in this way with motivation, as you offer water in each bowl to all the holy objects inconceivable merit is being collected. Then make charity to numberless sentient beings, then to the guru puja merit field, then to holy objects in your house and then to the 10 direction Buddhas, holy objects and triple gems, then to each country’s holy objects.
Then do very strong Dedications.
Due to all the three times merits may the Bodhicitta mind in me be generated, and in all the family members and all sentient beings without delay even for a second. May that which has been generated never end but increase.
Due to all the three times merits collected by me and other sentient beings past present and future may all the father and mother sentient beings attain enlightenment and be freed from the sufferings of samsara.
Due to all the three times merits collected by all the Buddhas and me and Bodhisattvas and sentient beings may the glorified gurus have a stable life. May I be able to offer benefits like the sky to all sentient beings, and may myself and all s/b to be able to complete all the merits and purify all the defilements and achieve Enlightenment quickly.
I give everything to all the hell beings and cause merit to result in happiness to every hungry ghost; same to every animal same to every s/b every asura every intermediate being.
Due to this merit whatever sufferings s/b has may they all ripen on me and whatever happiness I have may it all ripen on all s/b.
Due to the three times merits accumulated by me and all s/b may anyone who touches me, sees me and remembers me, talks to me, who praises or criticizes me juts by this may they never get reborn into the lower realms just from that time and may they immediately get liberated from all diseases, harm, negative karma, defilements and may they quickly achieve Enlightenment. ( this dedication can be used for practice and sessions also – one day do this and another day do the next one).
Due to the three times merit accumulated by me and other s/b, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, whatever I experience which makes me rich or poor, healthy or unhealthy, bad or good reputation, living or dying even born in hell realm and any action that I do from now on with my body speech or mind. May all these become most beneficial causing all s/b to attain Enlightenment as quickly as possible.
Note that the main purpose of my life is not to become healthy, wealthy etc. The main purpose of my life is to be most beneficial to others. No matter what happens this is the most important thought transformation and Dharma practice. Whatever happens even born in hell realm even dying, must be to cause happiness for others. This idea helps the mind not get stuck with one thing. Then whatever happens the mind is not disturbed.
Due to all the merits collected by me and all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas may myself and family members and all the rest of the s/b and all the students of FPMT and all the benefactors – in all the lifetimes from now on be able to find only perfectly qualified Mahayana guru and for each s/b side only to be able to see Enlightened being and to do action most pleasing to the holy mind of the guru by oneself alone. And also to be able to fulfill the holy wishes of the guru immediately by oneself.
Due to all the three times merits collected by me and others from now on in all future lifetimes may I be able to offer extensive benefits like sky like Lama Tsong Khapa by having the same qualities as Lama Tsong Khapa.
Due to all the three times merits .., etc that which is empty from its own side etc.
Due to the three times merit collected by me Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, may the complete Lama Tsong Khapa’s teachings that which is unmistaken unified sutra/tantra be completely actualized in my mind and all family members, all students, benefactors and all s/b in this very lifetime. May I spread this teaching in the minds of all s/b and may all this teaching flourish in all the ten directions.
MULTIPLYING MANTRAS (merits are multiplied 100,000 times)
Transmitted by Lama Zopa Rinpoche July 1998 at Deer Park, Madison, USA.
These mantras causes the merits of all prayers to be multiplied 100,000 times.
At the end of the session after making the water bowl offerings
Recite this three times.
Chomdende Deshin, Shekpa Dachompa, Yang dakpar, Zogpay Sangye
Nampar nanghe, Okyi, Gyalpola Chag Tsa Lo
Recite 3 times
Changchub Sempa, Sempa Chenpo, Kuntu Zang, Pola Chag Tsalo
Recite 7 times
Tayatha Om pentsi, Diwa Awa Bodhi Ne Soha
Recite 7 times
Chomdende Shinshekpa, Dachompa yang dakpar Zogpay Sangye, Ngowa Dang Monlam Themche Dubpay Gyal pola, Chak Tsalo