• By Nhat Quan
    Faith is belief. Whoever has faith in Buddha will have peace of mind and live in peace and certainty. A faith that is not enticed by monks, brahmins, gods, demons, Brahmas, or anyone else in the world, he can say:
    - I am the genuine child of the World-Honored One, born from the mouth, born of the Dharma, created by the Dharma, an heir of the Dharma.
    Buddha was born for the happiness of gods and humans, so there are many paths leading to peace and liberation in the present, and happiness and liberation in the future. Thus, if one only needs to believe in the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha, i.e., the Three Jewels and the Five Pure Precepts, that person:
    - No fall into hell
    - Has ended birth in the animal world
    - Has ended birth as a hungry ghost
    - End evil birth, no longer fall into decay.
    - Be sure to attain enlightenment within one to seven lifetimes
    Those of you who have solid faith in the Three Jewels and the five pure precepts, no matter which realm anyone in this world directs their mind to, will definitely return to that realm. For example, if you want to be born in the Pure Land, you will definitely be able to go to the Western Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha or the Eastern Pure Land of Medicine Buddha. Or whoever has good roots and dedicates them to the Western Pure Land, or the Eastern Pure Land, their wish will be fulfilled.
    Talking about faith is a vast ocean, but in short, the Three Refuges, Three Jewels, and the Five Precepts are easily achieved as in a sermon of the Small Nikaya in which the Buddha affirmed his belief in Buddha, Dharma, Sangha, and attainment of precepts:
    - Hey Bhikkhus, no layperson, male or female, has taken refuge in the three jewels, the thrones full of such supreme merit, but must be reborn in the hells...v...v... They are reborn in the world of gods or the good realm, so whoever sincerely takes refuge in the Three Jewels must be as happy as the Full Moon Festival.
    Besides having faith in the Three Jewels and the merit of keeping the precepts, you must also have faith in giving alms and offerings to receive blessings. Truly giving alms with open hands leads to liberation as the Majjhima-Nikaya Sutra says:
    - Hey Sariputta (Sariputra), there are people who give alms with a mind without expectation, give alms with an unattached mind, and give alms without thinking that they will enjoy this in the next life. Only give alms with the thought: How good is almsgiving? He gives alms to adorn his mind. Due to such almsgiving, after the body breaks up and dies, he is born and resides with the Gods in the Brahma Heaven. When karma is ended, and divine power, fame, and authority are ended, he does not return to this state.
    Through this sutra, you can see that practicing almsgiving with a large mind is a means of liberation for those who practice compassion because, in the next life, they will be able to live happily in heaven of form. And when the force of karma is ended, you will attain the state of Non-returning, that is, the state of Anagami, will no longer return to the human world, and will taste the taste of Arhat liberation in the near future. Therefore, Buddhists should give alms with a big heart as Buddha taught.
    For Mahayana practitioners who practice according to the pure land method, they should take the merit of giving alms like this and dedicate it to Supreme Bodhi. Either the Western Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha or the Eastern Pure Land of Medicine Buddha. If so, then the merit will be complete. In the Mahaparinirvana-Sutra, Brahma-cari chapter, the Buddha taught about almsgiving as wisdom giving and right in the Ksitigarbha Sutra, giving alms with a generous mind will lead to liberation as in the following sutra:
    - Hey Ksitigarbha! In the future, if there are Kings and Brahmans, etc., who meet the elderly, sick, and women giving birth if in a single thought, filled with great kindness, they bring medicine, Giving them food, drinks, blankets, mats, etc. to make them happy is an inconceivable benefit for one hundred lifetimes, and one can often become the God of the Pure Residence heaven. For two hundred lifetimes, one can often become the Lord of the Six Desire Heavens and eventually become a Buddha, forever no longer falling into evil realms, even for hundreds or thousands of lifetimes, one's ears will never hear the sound of suffering.
    Making offerings is one of the most universal dharma in Buddhism. The Buddha and his Holy Disciples are fields of supreme blessings for gods and humans, for those who have faith in making offerings, giving rise to countless blessings that permeate everywhere. However, in the new era, more than 2,567 years from the Buddha's time, you do not know who is the Holy Monks for you to make offerings. However, the Buddha, being the Enlightened One, saw clearly everything from the past, and present to the future. With boundless love, Lord Sugata thoroughly taught and passed down precious teachings to the world. The method Offered to the Sangha. In the Sutras, the Buddha taught that:
    - When offering the four things to a Bhikkhu, two Bhikkhus, men and women, don't think about that individual, but just start thinking about making offerings to the Sangha, then that blessing will be perfect and very pure.
    Making offerings to monks is enough to be virtuous, and if the monk is practicing virtuous conduct, then the blessings are extremely great and inconceivable as the Buddha taught in the Sutras:
    - Truly, the Sangha's grace is so great. Whoever makes offerings to that Sangha, the resulting blessings will be as limitless and boundless as the sands of the Ganges River.
    But what is the right way to make offerings? In the Ksudrakagama Sutra, Volume II, The Heavenly Palace, the Buddha draws attention to the effectiveness of the faith and merit of the recipient of the offering in the chapter on the Palace of Women, the first story as follows:
    - At one time the World-Honored One was staying at Sàvatthi, at Jetavana in Anathapindika's monastery. After King Pasenadi, of Kosala, had offered seven days of supreme offerings to the Sangha and the Buddha as their leader,
    - The rich man Anathapindika made offerings for three days in accordance with the king's offerings; and
    - The female disciples and lay people in Visàkhà also made great offerings like that...
    Rumors about the supreme offering spread throughout India. Then there's the question:
    - Do alms offerings only produce great results based on generous alms giving with such noble offerings, or do alms offerings only depend on one's available means?
    When the Holy Disciples of Buddha heard this comment, they immediately reported it to the World-Honored One. The Buddha said:
    - It is not only because of the effectiveness of the gift that special almsgiving and offerings give rise to great results but also because of the effectiveness of those who have faith in making offerings and the meritorious fields of those who receive the offerings.
    Therefore, even if it is as small as a handful of rice, a rag, a seat made of grass or leaves, or a bean offered sincerely to a person worthy of receiving the offering, there will be great results and great glory. and merit permeates everywhere.
    Thus, the offering is not important, the most important thing is that the person making the offering must be respectful. Even if it is just a bean for monks practicing the holy life, they will receive abundant blessings. However, in this new era, it is inevitable that some monks are not pure. Therefore, some Buddhists are concerned about making offerings to those monks. The Buddha clearly saw this problem and explained the doubt in the One Life, One Sun and Moon Sutra. In a Sutra passage, Venerable Upāli asked the Buddha:
    - Venerable Ānanda only talked about Bhikkhus who are living the holy life or if the Bhikkhus who are practicing the holy life will receive abundant blessings. But if a Bhikkhu is spoiled, evil, easily indulgent, careless, has bad conduct, evil precepts... and is laughed at by his fellow monks, then is it not a field of blessings?
    Buddha said:
    - If that Bhikkhu still has the Sangha form and still has the Bhikkhu appearance, he is still a good field of blessings!
    Venerable Upa Ly said:
    - Disciple does not understand.
    Buddha said:
    - Please listen carefully! Quite a few Bhikkhus in Tathagata's current congregation are damaged and disabled in morality, but they are still on the path of practice. They still eat one meal a day, cut their nails, still shave their hair, still do not wear makeup, still do not apply scented oils or perfumes, still shun singing, and still do not accumulate gold, silver, or wealth. They still hold begging bowls with bare heads and bare feet, still don't wear luxurious clothes, still don't sleep on high beds and soft pillows, still don't live in tall houses with wide doors, and still don't have the five desired. They still don't sleep with their wives and play with their children, still do penance ceremonies twice a month, still give precepts to lay people, still preach the Dharma, still transmit precepts to novices and monks. Bhikkhu... Just like that, no layperson can do it, not even a holy layperson can do it. Therefore, they still deserve to be a field of blessings for gods and humans, Upāli!
    Venerable Upali said:
    - Disciple understands. However, what about his sins, his bad karma, Venerable Master?
    Buddha replied:
    - Let the Sangha handle it. Whoever does it, that person will bear it. Let the righteous cause and effect work.
    Indeed, you can bypass the sun, earth, demons, and gods, but you cannot bypass the law of cause and effect. Here is an old story for you to ponder:
    While Queen Vaidehi and the King visited the Buddha and explained how the five laborers were working very hard, even though the queen did not allow it, they insisted on doing it right. The Buddha took the opportunity to tell the story:
    Once upon a time, there were five laborers who saw that their master treated the monks wholeheartedly, so they discussed together:
    - Even though our masters treat us well every day, we must consider that poverty, hunger, and cold are also waiting in front of us, so we must find means to find money and save it so that we can enjoy the joys of the five desires later.
    Having discussed it like that, they immediately pretended to be a Bhikkhu, then sent a person to walk in the villages, preach to everyone, and recite the words like this:
    - Those four Bhikkhus, staying in a quiet place and keeping the precepts completely abstaining from alcohol, meat, and eating onions and garlic, are worthy of a holy life; Practicing meditation and contemplation proves that karma is free from outflows. Not long after practice, they will attain Arhatship, truly the Supreme Field of Fortune in the world.
    When everyone heard those words, they gathered together to bring all kinds of food and money, respectfully making offerings to those four Bhikkhus, like that for many years. As for the female owner, Vaidehi is a devout believer, no matter how she makes offerings, she is happy and never gets bored. After a lifetime, She is reborn in the Nirmanarati realm. As for the other five Bhikkhus, specializing in cunning and disguising things, because of their evil minds, when their blessings ran out, they died and were born in hell; eight thousand memories of eons, to suffer a very painful retribution. Once the sins of hell are finished, you will have to endure the body of a hungry ghost, which will last eight thousand lifetimes. After the sins of hungry ghosts are over, he will take on the body of an animal again to repay the previous life's offerings to the owner.
    Due to fate and karma, one should become a camel, donkey, buffalo, or horse. Depending on what blessing the owner receives, they often use their strength to repay the owner. Over the course of eight thousand lifetimes; After their animal sins are reborn, even though they have taken on a human body, their senses are dark, and men are neither men nor women, they call it Vanjha: From now on, after eight thousand years, they often use their strength to the power to repay the owner has not yet been exhausted.
    Buddha told the king:
    - Queen Vaidehi was a woman at that time. Mr. Citrakathi at that time was Maudgalyayana here. As for the five Bhikkhus, that is, five people from Sandhilas, they are carrying the palanquin for the Queen today.
    The king told Buddha:
    - According to what the World-Honored One said, there were five people, but now we see only four people carrying the palanquin and one more person somewhere.
    Buddha told the king:
    - There is another person, who is often in the palace cleaning toilets, that is, the person who dumps the excrement.
    The queen felt scared when she heard it. She immediately stood up, bowed to the Buddha, and said to the Buddha:
    - Dear World-Honored One! As the World-Honored One said, it turns out that the Sandhilas were my predestined teachers in my previous life. My heart is really scared, I'm scared of committing a crime. Because if they are my teachers, then it is only reasonable that I should respect and worship them. Yet now I ask them to carry the palanquin for me like a buffalo or horse. Because of that cause, my heart is very afraid, I bow to Buddha for mercy who teaches me to repent.
    Buddha told the Queen:
    - The Queen is blessed and has no sins, so why are you afraid? Living beings have different natures and karma is not the same. Doing good will bring blessings, doing evil will bring disaster. The previous queen's heart was pure and believed in doing good deeds. Because of such meritorious conditions, because of many previous lives, you often meet the Master, believe in the teachings, and do good things when you encounter good things. To this day, you enjoy the blessing of naturally meeting Buddha in the world, it is because of the blessings and karma of previous lives. You listening to the Dharma as the theory of practice, because of that cause and effect, there is no sin.
    In short, regardless of ordinary people, regardless of saints, anyone who still has a Sangha form and the appearance of a monk is all in the Sangha Jewel of three generations: Present, past, and future. The Sangha always includes the saints and ordinary monks of the past, the saints and ordinary monks of the present, and the saints and ordinary monks of the future. Even though a few, five, or seven, individual Bhikkhus may be corrupt, bad, and dirty, but the Sangha Jewels are not. Sangha Jewels is always perfect and pure. Therefore, when offering the four things to a monk, two monks, men, and women, don't think about that individual, but just start the mind of offering to the Sangha, offering to the Sangha Jewels, then the blessings will be very great, perfect, very pure.
    Remember, Sangha Jewels is always pure! A vast ocean of purity! It is a field of blessings for gods and humans.
    Through the above sutra passages, it is clear that the Buddha emphasized the power of lay Buddhists' faith in making offerings, and advised you to start making offerings to the Sangha and not think about any individual Bhikkhu. The Buddha kindly taught:
    - Don't think about the bad deeds of any individual Bhikkhu and let the Sangha and the law of cause and effect decide. Meanwhile, the blessings of those who make offerings with faith still bloom and produce sweet and fragrant results.
    Don't worry about anything. Keep your mind pure when making offerings to the Sangha Jewels and you will produce immeasurable blessings like Queen Vaidehi.
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