By Nhat Quan
You often see in pagodas that there are boxes of blessed fields of three treasures. In some places, it is called the box of blessing dew. However, the word blessing dew or blessing field is different, but the meaning is the same.
The word dew, only for the dewdrops to fall. In the early mornings, when the air is calm in the summer, there is no rain, you can see glittering water droplets on the tops of trees and grass. Sometimes in front or behind the roofs, you see drops of water from the dew falling, forming small dots on the ground, which are traces of dew drops on the ground.
In an agrarian society, in order to have a prosperous life, eat well, and wear durable clothes, a farmer must have a field or a garden to cultivate. For food and clothing, farmers have to work hard. The same goes for Buddhists, in order to have a safe place to practice and study in the great love of the Buddhadharma, Buddhists have to pour a lot of heart and soul, in order to build an ashram with monks and nuns studying. So:
- The word blessing dew, means to refer to your practice of having to glean small good deeds like falling dewdrops.
- The word blessed field means to refer to the meritorious deeds of your practice, doing good deeds such as sowing seeds in the field of merit.
Indeed, there are many similarities between the work of a religious student and that of a farmer. Farmers sow seeds, fertilize, and water to have a golden rice season in the field, a fruitful harvest season. Those who study the Way must also cultivate good roots, sow and cultivate the seeds of goodness in the blessed land. A student of the Way must know how to water that seed by means of practice such as:
- Chanting scriptures, reciting Buddha's name, meditating, and walking in meditation. Or must be fostered through:
- Ethical stories, useful teachings of monks and nuns...
In addition, practitioners must understand what those seeds need, what they want, what kind of insects are there, and how to overcome them. What good conditions should be cherished, the leaves bitten by insects, the leaves withered, the troubles Buddhists need to remove? If not skillful, it will not only damage the good seeds but also further damage the unspeakable cultivation environment. Therefore, as a student of the Way, they must know how to keep their body healthy, their religion strong, and their intellect sublimated to help themselves and others on the path of cultivation.
In the direction of cultivating merit fields, you understand, the recipient of alms is called a field. People who give alms are called cultivating merit fields. Usually, you only pay attention to the recipient and the giver according to the world's concept, so you only think that the recipient of the gift is the poor person, the one who needs you, the one who begs you, the one who kneels before you. And so that person will have to fear you, and you will have power over them. However, the Buddhadharma does not look so simple. The practice of giving, making offerings, and sowing conditions is called cultivating merit fields, similar to the cultivation of a farmer:
- A good mind is not greedy, and the act of giving is like the act of sowing seeds.
- Almsgiving is like a seed,
And the person receiving alms or offerings is like a garden plot or a field.
Remember, no matter how good your heart is, and no matter how precious the good things you give, if there is no recipient of the gift, you will not achieve the work of giving that is, not having the merit of giving and the consequences of giving. In other words, you don't have a place to cultivate the field of merit.
People do not believe in cause and effect, so they always feel that the giver, that is, the one who gives grace and has to suffer the loss of wealth and property, while the recipient is considered to be a lowly useless person, a parasitic. To put it simply, beggars are pitifully useless people. However, for those who know the law of cause and effect and who want a really good result for you in the future, you know these people are people or places where you can sow the merit of giving. Because, in order to practice the merit of giving, it is impossible without the recipients of alms. Indeed, beggars are the lowest rank in society, the kind that everyone else steps on above, but it is a place for those who know how to cultivate merit fields to sow the seeds of merit. Just as the ground is the lowest and is trampled by all things above, that is the place where you sow seeds and reap the results. So in Buddhism, the person who receives the alms is called the land, that is to say, according to the worldview.
According to the Buddhist concept, the field is not only the poor, the hungry, the uneducated, or the unlucky, but even in this field, there are enough people who are gracious to you, and who have merit than you. So when cultivating a field of merit, sowing seeds in a field of merit, is the best way you can find and get close to people whose merit is immeasurable and boundless. So the merit field has four different names:
- Donating sentient species is called animal field.
- Donating to people who have no relatives, the poor, and the sick is called suffering fields.
- Donating to people who are gracious to you such as parents, teachers, etc., is called grace field.
- And donate to saints called merit fields.
The three treasures of merit belong to the fourth category. The phrase the three treasures of merit means that the Three Treasures are the best field of merit, and when you have sown good deeds in the Three Treasures field of merit, there will certainly be good trees growing, and fresh flowers will appear, and you will have sweet fruits. reaping is no doubt. Because:
- Planting merit in Buddha
This auspiciousness cannot end. Since the Buddha is the Enlightened One, merit and wisdom are two kinds of dignified, loving, and compassionate are all perfect. The birth of the Buddha opened the path to awakening for sentient beings to establish happiness and peace in this life and in future lives. Should pay respects to the Buddha, make offerings to the Buddha, praise the Buddha, embellish and protect the golden body of the Buddha that is always present in the world, vow to practice until the day he becomes a Buddha, etc., is to plant merit in the Buddha.
- Cultivate merit in true Dharma.
This auspiciousness has no end. Although the Buddha has entered Nirvana, the Dharma is still alive, that is, the Buddha still exists in the world. The Dharma sound of the Buddha still resonates to this day, emanating from the three canons of Sutra, Vinaya, and Abhidhamma. A disciple of the Buddha who vows to follow him must rely on the Dharma. Studying, learning, reciting, publishing, explaining, promoting, practical application ... Buddha's teachings, are to plant merit in true Dharma.
- Planting merit in the Holy Sangha
This auspiciousness has no end. This holy Sangha does not mean the assembly of all Saints, but the pure and harmonious Sangha. Of course, a monk is not a saint, and where monks are not pure and harmonious, there is no holy assembly. In actual practice today, the monastic assemblies that meet the standard of Saints are not many but not nonexistent.
In other words, the congregations that practice and achieve Precepts, Concentration, and Wisdom are fertile fields of merit for you to plant merit. Of the merit fields, the Merit field of the three treasures is the best. And in the Merit field of the three treasures, Sangha has the most important role, because it is thanks to Sangha's efforts to propagate that the Three Jewels will last in the world. Paying respects, making offerings, protecting, obeying instructions, and vowing to follow in the footsteps of the monks, are to plant merit in the Saints.
Obviously, cultivating the field of merit and cultivating merit in the Three Jewels are the three roots of goodness that cannot be ended. The Buddha's disciples need to understand the merits and virtues of protecting the Three Jewels in order to practice for their own benefit and benefit others, contributing to the creation of a peaceful world and peaceful living beings.
Those who understand the Way, of course, know the power of the Merit field of the three jewels. And the person who knows how to cultivate the field of merit is the one who is doing a transformation. Turn garbage into flowers, turn stink into sweet fruit. Because cultivating and creating a blessing field is a compassionate way of containing things that are hard to bear in the world.
Thus, in terms of cultivating the field of merit, when you give with a very joyful mind and with very nice things, but it is up to you to give to animals, to humans, or to gods, or to monks, the Buddha.... v. v ... it is called the cultivation of merit field. It is the same donation, but for monks, gods, or Buddhas, it is called offering. Because there is a difference between giving and offering, and the merit is also different, the blessings and rewards are also different. Similar to planting trees, if the tree is planted on arid land with little fertilizer, the tree will also grow slowly, and produce less fruit. But if the tree is planted on fertile soil, the tree will grow fast and produce good and big fruit. When the field is good, that is, the recipients of the alms are benefactors or saints full of the virtues of the Way, then the merit of giving will become completely larger and more complete, and better.
The field of merit, or the recipient of alms, is therefore very important, especially in the Buddhist tradition. The Buddha chose the lowest way of life ie begging, or according to Buddhism, begging for food to live. In Buddhist teachings, it is a righteous way of life for a practitioner of the Way, as well as for a sage. Because a person who practices the Way is not attached to ordinary life by any form of occupation, but he or she makes a living by giving alms, and he must become a kind of blessed field for the world. This is different from other beggars, for other beggars only beg to get by, just to maintain a lowly, aimless miserable life. Live as a surplus, useless in society, therefore they are only the suffering field of the world. While the Buddha and his disciples begged for food not to live through the day, but to spend their whole life pursuing the truth, practicing a religious life, and also as a place of cultivation, creating a merit field for humanity. With a noble ideal of purity of mind, and liberation from all samsara's entanglement for self and sentient beings of all kinds.
In such a way of life, he benefits everyone by using his own life as a place for others to create merit and charity, and at the same time to benefit himself. In that, using that life of alms, to let go of all attachments, to adapt to the path to complete liberation. Thus they became the blessed field of this world. So when the Buddha established the Three Jewels, his goal was to create a field of merit for this world, that is:
- He brought his own enlightenment to establish Buddha's Treasure.
- He preached on the path to liberation, and the way to enlightenment, establishing the Dharma Treasure.
- And he accepted disciples and guided them unanimously to follow the two paths mentioned above, establishing the Sangha Treasure.
He put all three treasures into the world's heart through the lowest way of life in society, begging for alms. And in this way, he entrusted the existence and longevity of the Three Jewels depending on the people's willingness to give alms. Thanks to that, the Three Jewels became the ultimate field of merit, a place to cultivate and cultivate the field of merit for mankind. That is why, after the Buddha entered Nirvana, his relics and the tower worshiping them, as well as the Dharma Treasure tower, were replaced for him, and for Dharma Treasure in the role of doing meritorious work for the world. Later on, temples were places to worship Buddha Treasure for the maintenance of Dharma Jewels, and also as gathering places and residences of Sangha Treasures. So a temple, a monastery, has gradually become sufficient enough to become the center of worship of the Three Jewels and become the main field of merit in the world.
The merit of giving, in other words, the merit of making offerings, has since been concentrated in the temples that are now regarded as the world's permanent residents of the Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. Buddhists create merit not only by making offerings to, supporting, and maintaining the temple, but mainly by building and establishing those Three Jewels everywhere.
The reason why the Three Jewels are still today exists in the heart of the world, overcome with so many forces of unbelief, paganism, and Mara, and most of all, the forces of ignorance so that you know Buddhism and enjoy the blessings of the Three Jewels. It is due to the merits of countless bodhisattvas who endeavor to protect the Dharma through Buddhist works such as printing sutras, creating statues, casting bells, building pagodas, and building towers. Meditating in a meditation hall or a temple is not difficult, but the difficult thing is to approach life and comfort the souls who are still lost in the market of life. Sitting alone in the mountains and forests is not difficult, but the difficult thing is to plunge into the evil place of sentient beings, but for them to establish the throne of the Three Jewels. Achieving the Way alone in the deep forest and mountains, and even in the present life, is not as difficult as going through countless kalpas to help everyone have a predestined way to cultivate the Way.
In short, Mahayana Buddhism teaches you to give alms and offerings, especially to make offerings to the Three Jewels, also known as the Three Jewels of Merit Field, which is a place cultivating and creating merit. Cultivating and creating merit means practicing the Way in relation to each other. Through interdependence, your mind can be transformed. Thanks to the relationship of merit, your ignorance and craving become the Way mind. Thanks to the merits of taking refuge in connection with the Three Jewels, you become a child of the Buddha, then thanks to the merit donation and support in connection with the Three Jewels of Merit Field, you inherit the virtue and Dharma of the Buddhas, for you.
In such a work of building merits of the Way, the Three Jewels are always of the utmost importance, because it is through the Three Jewels of Merit Field that your mind is transformed into the mind of the Way. Therefore, the establishment of temples to maintain and strengthen the Three Jewels is a supreme and transcendent Buddhist merit for everyone, not just a worldly good thing or anyone's private matter. So merit is through deeds:
- Build pagodas, sculpt statues, give alms, make offerings...
It is a place for you to practice and create the most practical merit field. Today, the cultivation of blessings with the Three Jewels is a popular practice and a good root for all Buddha's children. Should respect the Three Jewels, serving the Three Jewels, and relying on the light of the Three Jewels to illuminate the way is a basic practice for beginners, but at the same time, it is also throughout the practice of sages who have attained enlightenment go through.
The basic path of a Buddhist practitioner is to gradually achieve merit and wisdom. The Buddha is blessed and full of wisdom. The Buddha's disciples, all their lives, need to cultivate merit and wisdom. Among the good dharmas that a Buddhist disciple practices in his daily life is to plant good roots, and cultivate and create merit in the Three Jewels because the Three Jewels are the most dominant.
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