Vassa: A blog for SCUBA


Medicine Buddha Wishes by pemadorje385
November 8, 2007, 11:53 pm
Filed under: Buddhism, Dharma, Events, Experiences, history, Stories

Tonight was the start of the Medicine Buddha Function at Hsi Lai Temple.  Passing through the large array of oil lamps at the Longevity Hall, those little flames on top of each lamp shine like stars in the sky.

This time of year is when we as Buddhists honor the Healing Buddha, or the Medicine Buddha, or Bhaisaijyaguru Buddha.  He established a pure land called the Eastern Lazuli pure land, and made 12 great vows to benefit all sentient beings:

12 Vows of Medicine Buddha

1. I vow that my body shall shine as beams of brilliant light on this infinite and boundless world, showering on all beings, getting rid of their ignorance and worries with my teachings. May all beings be like me, with a perfect status and character, upright mind and soul, and finally attaining enlightenment like the Buddha.

2. I vow that my body be like crystal, pure and flawless, radiating rays of splendid light to every corner, brightening up and enlightening all beings with wisdom. With the blessings of compassion, may all beings strengthen their spiritual power and physical energy, so that they could fulfil their dreams in the right track.

3. I vow that I shall grant by means of boundless wisdom, all beings with the inexhaustible things that they require, and relieving them from all pains and guilt resulting from materialistic desires. Although clothing, food, accommodation and transport are essentials, it should be utilised wisely as well. Besides self-consumption, the remaining should be generously shared with the community so that all could live harmoniously together.

4. I vow to lead those who have gone astray back to the path of righteousness. Let them be corrected and returned to the Buddha way for enlightenment.

5. I vow that I shall enable all sentient beings to observe precepts for spiritual purity and moral conduct. Should there be any relapse or violation, they shall be guided for repentance. Provided they truly regret their wrong-doings, and vow for a change with constant prayers and strong faith in the Buddha, they could receive the rays of forgiveness, recover their lost moral and purity.

6. I vow that all beings who are physically disabled or sick in all aspects be blessed with good health, both physically and mentally. All who pays homage to Buddha faithfully will be blessed.

7. I vow to relieve all pain and poverty of the very sick and poor. The sick be cured, the helpless be helped, the poor be assisted.

8. I vow to help women who are undergoing sufferings and tortures and seeking for transformation into men. By hearing my name, paying homage and praying, their wishes would be granted and ultimately attain Buddhahood.

9. I vow to free all beings from evil thoughts and its control. I shall lead them onto the path of light through inculcating them with righteousness and honour so that they will walk the Buddha way.

10. I vow to save prisoners who have genuinely repented and victims of natural disasters. Those who are sincere will be blessed by my supreme powers and be freed from sufferings.

11. I vow to save those who suffer from starvation and those who committed crime to obtain food. If they hear my name and faithfully cherish it, I shall lead them to the advantages of Dharma and favour them with best food and eventually lead a tranquil and happy life.

12. I vow to save those who suffer from poverty, tormented by mosquitoes and wasps day and night. If they come across my name, cherish it with sincerity and practise dharma to strengthen their merits, they will be able to achieve their wishes.

Extracted from The Sutra of the Master of Healing.

Lamp offerings during this observance are important as well, as stated in the sutra which some of us will get a chance to experience on Saturday.  Here is an excerpt on the lamp offering from the Tibetan eight offerings:

OFFERING LIGHT – Patience

Fifth is light or a lamp, which signifies the stability and clarity of patience, the beauty which dispels all ignorance. Light offering is made to the eyes of all the enlightened beings, who see clearly without mistake. Some people feel patience is showing weakness or pessimism. But, actually, patience shows the strength and clarity of mind, which are based on wisdom and compassion. Without proper wisdom and compassion, one cannot practice patience. So light shows that the strength of the mind, the clear, stable nature of the mind, achieved through the practice of patience. Because the mind is not disturbed by other forces, it has such great qualities: clarity knows what is to be done, which is necessary, which is not necessary. That dispels ignorance.

Patience can be practiced in all different forms, different ways, not just when people are faced with anger. For example, there is patience in Dharma practice and study. First, this is based on wisdom, so we should have such wisdom to really know how Dharma is, what quality it has, the depth and vastness of Dharma, and how we can achieve these qualities. Seeing those great qualities, then we need patience to study and practice. When we have that, there is a mind of clarity, of stableness.

On the other hand we should not be patient with our afflictive emotions. When we have anger, desire, jealousy, pride, don’t practice patience with these! This is the wrong way to practice patience. Even if it is hard or painful, these are subjects to get rid of or purify; they don’t do any good thing. Without sacrificing something, there is no chance that we will have peace and happiness. So no matter what kind of pain we face, what difficult circumstances we face, we have to go thru it. Even if we have to sacrifice this life, it is worthwhile to sacrifice. A lot of people commit suicide to get rid of all these afflictive emotions. They are overpowered by the afflictive emotions and they kill themselves. That is the wrong way to sacrifice this life. We have to sacrifice this life the other way around. Buddha said that if we have to lose our life to keep the moral discipline, it just finishes this life, but next lives will be higher and higher, better and better. But if we do it the other way around and sacrifice this life for the afflictive emotions, then we will go worse and worse.

In Shantideva’s text it is said that we should not commit suicide or give this body without much purpose. Rather, we should cherish this precious human life. An explanation is given. When a medicinal tree is very small plant, it has to be protected in order to grow into a huge tree. If you pick it up when it is small, it will benefit only a few and then it is finished. But if you protect it well with many fences, it will grow into a huge tree that will bring fruits, flowers, roots, leaves, branches for the benefit of many, many sentient beings. Similarly we have a fragile mind at this time. We must protect this precious human life with all these antidotes, fences, and let it grow big. Then we can benefit many sentient beings. By the practice of patience, all the 112 major and minor marks of a Buddha will come. Of course, we should not expect it, but the result of patience is a healthy, good body, to which all people are attracted, which is respected and admired. All this comes from the practice of patience.

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Ksitigharba Bodhisattva Root Vow Sutra recitation by pemadorje385
September 5, 2007, 9:32 am
Filed under: Buddhism, Dharma, Experiences

By Michael

Earlier today I was at the Buddha’s Wisdom Center, hidden in my area, to pay respects as Ullambana season comes to a close.

During Ullambana, the center recites the Ksitigharba Bodhisattva Root Vow Sutra on and on for thirty days. So I decided to go and help them with their recitations. Unfortunately I arrived in between sessions, but I was invited to do my own recitation of the sutra, and so I did.

Ksitigharba Bodhisattva…the brave Bodhisattva that will not attain enlightenment until the hell realms of existence are empty…
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ksitigarbha_Bodhisattva

At first I had a little bit of difficulty keeping my focus since the shrine room is quite warm and sweat rolling down my face and onto my robes while trying to turn the pages of the sutra text and striking the wooden fish to maintain the flow of recitation at the same time.

After the first session I decided to take a break and sat outside in the patio area. I then realized even though the area was so crowded, noisy, and humid outside the gates of the center, I felt this cool breeze and this calm, peaceful state of being. I might not have been sitting in the proper position but this sure was a good opportunity to go into meditation, but I do have two more sessions of the sutra to finish.

I decided to do the last two sessions in one sitting, that way I can save a little more time. as I started chanting, it didn’t feel so warm anymore, and bursts of cool wind were bowing into the room, could it be that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas knew of my efforts and blew in a few cold shots of air to cool me off during my chanting? I don’t know.

Has anyone else had that type of feeling while chanting or meditating?

Ksitigharba Bodhisattva at Mount Jiu Hua in China



Friendships by Oz
August 31, 2007, 5:56 am
Filed under: Buddhism, Experiences

By Oz

In all my limited readings on Buddhism, only once have I ever come upon a writing on friendship and dharma practice. I find this strange since my short time of Buddhist practice has been almost completely through friendships. Maybe it is not so strange to not see anything written on paper about friendship and dharma practice since writing it down limits a changing subject to the reflected squiggles on dead trees. Still, I see people who have taken refuge together refer to each other as dharma brothers and sisters, and I myself am inspired by friends, Buddhists or not.

For some, I am inspired by their kindness and sincerity. Others, through their experience or dedication. Some, just because they listen and keep me level-headed. Reciprocally, I am my brother’s keeper; I am my sister’s keeper. Good friendships keep us together, keep our spirits lifted, and keep us firmly on the path, like something out of the Wizard of Oz, the fellowship the Lord of the Rings, the Journey to the West or any other narrative of companions. Common to all of these stories, I think, is the power of friendship to uplift, heal, and strengthen in the face of adversities.

The Buddha himself had a cadre of fellow practitioners who abandoned him but eventually rejoined after his awakening. This following grew to include his family members such as his cousin Ananda, people from the bottom drudges of the social castes, and even royalty. This came to comprise the Sangha, the community of practitioners, and I would imagine, a brotherhood and sisterhood, or a fraternity of disciples. The Buddha declared that after his death, the dharma would suffice as the Sangha’s teacher, so the fraternal relationships must have become even more important.

While early monastic life was characterized as eremetic, there were also periods of settled of living, such as during Vassa. During these times, fellow wanderers would meet up again to share experiences and learn from each other, mutually supporting each other in their practice. The Sangha comprised of only these people, this nomadic lifestyle and nothing else. It was not until settled village monks were patronized with plots of land did it become more or less a permanent fixture. Still, the buildings and lands were only there to support the practice and without the community of people, these buildings would be empty, in more ways than one.

If off on an adventure, working for a common goal, or just seeking camaraderie, friendships naturally crop up. Maybe that’s why not much has to be written on it. More just needs to be done for it.

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Beginning meditation experience by Oz
August 26, 2007, 4:00 am
Filed under: Buddhism, Experiences

water drop on leaves

A moment of raptness…

Leaf..

Water…

Drop…

Dropped off my homework for my T.A. Bill…

Bills have to be paid…

David hasn’t paid me back yet…

Oh right! meditation…

Breathe In…Out…In…Out…

🙂

Simile…

Jazz is like throwing paint against the wall and getting paid $5000…

Saxamophone…Saxamophone…

Blowing in…breathing out…

In…Out…

Joy…

Happin…(Dooooonnnnnng!)

Sooo close!

Anyone want to share a meditative experience they’ve had?