• By Nhat Quan
    Cultivation is to make up your mind, practice, and change from bad to good.
    To dedicate is to turn towards, which also means to give.
    The phrase practice for dedication means that when you practice and have merit, you can give it to anyone, and whatever you pray for will be successful.
    In the Buddhist scriptures, it is taught that the first virtue of those who study Buddhism is to be filial to their parents. The reason you have to be filial to your parents is because your parents are the ones who gave birth to you. Your grandparents or ancestors, who are your respected relatives over many lifetimes, fell into misfortune due to clumsy practice.
    You often call it dedicating merit to the spirits, but in reality, those spirits are your grandparents and parents from many lifetimes ago. When you cultivate a spiritual path like this, usually when your parents and grandparents know about it, they are very happy and have expectations that you will do something for them. They pray every hour of every day for their children and grandchildren, which means you have the status and power to help them, pray, or dedicate merit to them. If you don't know how to practice, or practice but don't practice diligently, don't have merit, or if you do, you often forget to dedicate the merit to them, then your loved ones will get angry more than ordinary people.
    I haven't seen it myself, but I've heard stories from insiders. Because of the injustice of three lifetimes, because of the unsuccessful hope for relief, and because of the expectation of not having the merits of salvation, there are phenomena called borrowing the body to let the soul enter to express the obscurities, then it can be said that more than 90% of your family is in it. Human souls entering the bodies of living people, destroying the lives of others, are no strangers to anyone, if not the father, then the mother. If it's not the mother, then the grandfather, maternal grandfather, uncle, whatever... It's usually like that. There are people who are very aggressive. Some people said that the souls of their loved ones entered the living people, and each time they entered, they stabbed them with a knife and hammer. Very scary! They beat their loved one, they try to kill that loved one, and each time, they say:
    - Why did you kill me? Why did you harm me? What have I done wrong to you that you treat me so badly?…
    You can't imagine! They are so angry. Those are the cases you know about, but there are other hateful things happening everywhere that you don't know about.
    Therefore, if you see the importance of this, you should develop a mind to practice diligently. If you do not have enough conditions to become a monk, then practice at home, reduce worldly worries, practice on your own, chant sutras, and meditate, pray for the deceased. Because that's how you cultivate good conditions to dedicate merit. Or to put it another way, know that the person lying on the hospital bed, although in this life they have no relationship with you, could have been your parents, brothers, or relatives in a previous life. What you pray for now is to help or dedicate merit to your loved ones. Through these acts of practice, parents and grandparents are often able to induce the merits of their children and grandchildren to dedicate themselves to them. On the contrary, now:
    - Firstly, seeing a child or grandchild who doesn't know how to practice, and is still wandering around and playing debauchery.
    - Second, there is practice, but practice is like playing around, practice is not steady, and there is no dedication at all.
    - Third, it may be that you know how to practice quite well, but don't know, don't remember, or refuse to dedicate prayers for your grandparents and parents, making them suffer more and more, contributing to their anger to arise.
    Buddha taught that as Buddhists, the first thing to do is to be filial and take care of your parents. This filial piety, if the circumstances are well-off and providing material things, is good, but it is better if you know how to guide your parents in chanting sutras, reciting the Buddha's name, and instructing your parents on the path to the realms of the Buddhas, then this filial piety is much better.
    In the Buddhist tradition, the full moon day of the seventh lunar month is the Ullambana season of filial piety. But you have to be a little more specific, you don't have to wait until the seventh month of Ullambana season to show filial piety to go to the pagoda to make offerings or do some kind of ceremony called filial piety! Every day you practice, chant sutras, recite Buddha's name, and dedicate merit. Sincerely dedicate your merit, this merit will naturally reach your loved ones in the boundless dharma realms.
    In your practice called the nine-level lotus flower, the first page has a passage about reciting Buddha's name to repay the kindness of parents. It includes teaching:
    - Buddha's grace, parents' grace,
    Huge, covering the entire dharma realm, there is no way you can describe it.
    If you want to repay this merit,
    There is nothing better than reciting Buddha's name.
    So, chanting the Sutra and reciting Buddha's name here is not just practicing for yourself, but you are also practicing for your grandparents, parents, parents of nine generations, and many of your many lives as well. So every day you try to be more diligent. Instead of spending your time hanging out at the beach, in noisy cities, or drinking places, it's a waste! Take the time to practice and recite Buddha's name, instead of just thinking about it and then complaining about your fate, being sad, and suffering. Remember:
    - A sadness occurs that destroys countless merits.
    - An anxiety arises that destroys countless merits.
    - A suffering arises and enters your mind. At that time, if you are not an animal, you are a hungry ghost, if you are not a hungry ghost, you are hell.
    That is the suffering of the three evil paths. Once you fall into it, it is difficult to have a chance to end suffering and be born in the Pure Land. Because you don't know how to practice, the suffering keeps coming and penetrating you more and more. While sitting in the Buddha's palace or meditation hall, instead of reciting the Buddha's name, or concentrating on cultivating purity and being determined to return to the West, those suffering scenes keep appearing while you are reciting the Buddha's name, unintentionally reciting the Buddha's name you don't bring any merit. Because there is no concentration, there is no merit. If you don't have merit, you can't dedicate it to the dharma realm of sentient beings, and you can't dedicate it to your grandparents and parents...
    To show filial piety to one's parents is not only when the parents are still alive, but also to show filial piety to both parents and grandparents who have passed away. Because your grandparents and parents often did not receive spiritual guidance, they fell into misery, they wait for your help every day and every hour... So do not show your filial piety by waiting for the day of worship's parents' death anniversary. On that day, you kill pigs and slaughter chickens to make offerings, called filial piety to your parents. This is a very wrong thing to do! Doing so unintentionally creates the karma of killing, and this killing is caused by parents. So not only have you created the karma of killing, but your parents have also brought disaster, so your parents have fallen into even more suffering.
    As a Buddhist, you must know that filial piety is nothing more than the determination to practice and pray to be reborn in the pure land. The merit of being reborn in the Buddha realms is the merit of thorough filial piety. That's why the Venerable Ones often say:
    - When you are reborn in the Buddha realm, that day is the day your grandparents, parents, and nine generations of ancestors also escaped the three evil realms.
    Someone asked why when you alone were reborn in the realm of the Buddhas, at the same time your grandparents, parents, and nine generations of ancestors also escaped the three evil realms.
    When you know how to practice, with a compassionate mind, with all good deeds, you can teach your grandparents, parents, relatives, and relatives to practice, through which the Buddha's example is an eloquent proof. Indeed, after attaining enlightenment, the Buddha returned to the royal palace to visit the old place, where he guided his father King Suddhodana, Mother Gautami, Princess Yasodhara, and many princely sons onto the path. Among those, there are very familiar friends: Master Rahula and Ananda. Therefore, there is a saying that Venerables often repeat in the world:
    - One person practices the religion, nine generations of ancestors ascend.
    - When a tree blooms, the whole garden is fragrant.
    Once you truly practice and truly realize your salvation, you will not only have one father, two fathers, or three fathers, but will have boundless fathers, boundless children, and boundless grandfathers, grandmothers... they escaped suffering. The merit of this practice is extremely great.
    That is why this article aims to introduce the importance of practice to Buddhists, and at the same time encourage Buddhists to try diligently to recite Sutras and Buddha's name as much as possible. This is an action that contributes to jointly dedicating the Dharma world to sentient beings, alleviating disasters and together being reborn in the realm of Buddhas. When you practice like that:
    - This is the solution to your own troubles because each of you is full of evil karma. Because you have intentionally or unintentionally made enemies and held a lot of grudges with people. If you do not sincerely practice and are not determined to recite the Buddha's name, those unjust, opposing, and hateful people will never forget their hatred of killing and harming lives. Because they don't know cause and effect, they don't give up, they don't let go. This evil karma is added to the karma of sentient beings to give birth to other karma
    Understanding this, when you come to the Temple, you should know that you have the opportunity to cultivate and practice the path of liberation, to escape all the evils that for countless lives you have been condemned to in misery. Once you escape, you will have the ability to save sentient beings, to save this disaster. So if you want this world to be peaceful and for sentient beings to live peacefully, there must be many people who practice, and there must be many people who are reborn in the Buddha realm.
    If a person is reborn in the Pure Land, there will be another person with supernatural powers who will go to rescue these evils. Many people are reborn in the Pure Land, many people have supernatural powers and take turns saving sentient beings. The Buddhas of the ten directions take turns saving sentient beings, but they cannot save them all because the suffering and disasters of sentient beings are too many! Once you understand this, try your best to practice returning to the Buddha's kingdom and cooperate with the Buddhas in the ten directions. This is a reality, please firmly believe it. Make your mind generate three factors: Faith, vow, and practice. Therefore:
    - If your faith is not yet strong, now believe firmly.
    - If your vow is wrong, now vow again. The sooner you are reborn, the better. It is this strength of vow that is the strong predestined factor for you to return to the West.
    - If you haven't practiced properly yet, then now you are determined to practice until you get there.
    But first of all, you must know that action, that is, doing good and avoiding evil, is a supportive practice. Practicing Buddha's name is like reciting the sentence:
    - Namo oriental sect master eliminates disasters, increases blessings, and prolongs life Medicine Master Buddha.
    You recite so earnestly to pray to be born in the Eastern Pure Land.
    Or recite:
    - Namo welcomed the master Amitabha Buddha
    You recite so earnestly to pray for rebirth in the Western Pure Land. Such practice is called righteous practice.
    Therefore, the main action and the supporting action must be clearly defined. If you single-mindedly accept and maintain the title of Medicine Buddha or Amitabha Buddha day and night, then you will have the true mind and actions of a practitioner.
    In short, being born as a human being and having the opportunity to meet Buddha Dharma is a rare life. But in order to benefit human beings, you must use what you have so as not to waste your life as a human being.
    According to Buddha's teachings, you must love and respect your parents when they are still alive and when they die. When your parents are still alive, take care of them. When your parents die, wholeheartedly practice and dedicate their merits. Therefore, you must single-mindedly practice and especially must achieve precepts, literature, samadhi, and wisdom.
    Keep a loving mind towards your parents. Be kind in your body, speak gentle words, and always think well of your parents. Making your parents happy is a great blessing. Because loving-kindness is a material that binds the relationship between the seven disciples of Buddha to always be strong, harmonious, and pure. Thanks to the generous giving, both the giver and the receiver achieve immeasurable merit and blessings. Achieving great merit is one of the important practices of lay Buddhists. Once you have achieved merit, wherever you turn, whoever you give to, that person will receive. Once he receives it, he will go somewhere he wants to go. Therefore, you should try to practice to accumulate merit, so that you can dedicate it to your grandparents, parents, relatives, and sentient beings of all kinds.
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