By Nhat Quan
The Three Jewels are a lighthouse, a bright light that helps people dispel the darkness of ignorance. The Three Jewels have the ability to transform afflictions and suffering into peace and happiness. Thanks to the Three Jewels, you know the good, the right, the truth, the life of humans, and all living things that must be carried, and dependent on each other. Therefore, Buddhist practitioners need to develop love, a sense of responsibility, and a duty to help and preserve life for themselves and all sentient beings. Hence the Three Jewels: Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha are like three precious jewels, nothing can compare. The reason cannot be compared because the Three Jewels also have six inconceivable meanings:
1- Rare
That is, rare, hard to get like gold, silver, diamonds, precious gems... the poor can't get them. The Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha are the same, even though people are close to the temple, but without cause and effect, it is difficult to meet, unable to get close to the Three Jewels, so it is called rare.
2- Away from defilement
That is, abstaining from evil deeds but only doing good deeds, such as worldly jewels, pure, clean, beautiful, spotless, and difficult to stain. The Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha too, are far away from afflictions and evil, so it is called being far away from defilements.
3- Having power
Like a treasure in the world has great power, helps people overcome poverty, moreover is used to treat poisoned diseases. The Three Jewels, too, have enough six magical powers, improvise on their own accord, end their lives of poverty, and liberate birth and death from reincarnation, so they are called forces.
4- Sovereign
Like jewels in the world, making jewelry for the body becomes beautiful and splendid, and everyone wants to see it. The Three Jewels, too, take cause and effect, karma, and predestined conditions as the foundation to help people master themselves, so the mind becomes clear, pure, and does righteous work, so it's called dignified.
5- Ultimate victory.
A treasure in the world is more precious than all things, but in the end, it is not as precious as human life. The Three Jewels, too, are the most superior dharmas to help people overcome suffering and pain, and live a peaceful and happy life, so it is called the ultimate victory.
6- No change
Like pure gold in the world, even if it is beaten, cooked, sharpened, and filed, its essence remains unchanged. The same is true of the Three Jewels, those close to the Three Jewels are of course peaceful and happy, nothing is higher, or better, and no one can do better. Not affected by impermanence, water cannot wash away, fire cannot burn, so it is called immutable.
Because the Three Jewels have such noble meanings, as a Buddhist who takes refuge in the Three Jewels, you must be grateful to the Three Jewels. Because thanks to the Buddha, he found the way out of the suffering in the cycle of birth and death. After the Buddha has entered nirvana, thanks to his teachings left behind, passed on from generation to generation, Buddhists in particular, in general, sentient beings of all kinds know the truth, thereby cultivating practice to relieve suffering. The reason that the Dharma is widely circulated is thanks to the monks who have made great sacrifices, which is the key to keeping Buddhism alive and thriving. Therefore, Buddhists not only respect the Three Jewels but also have to make offerings to the Three Jewels in return for the virtue the Three Jewels have bestowed. Offering as well as giving alms not only for the Buddhist's mind to be sublimated but also for the cultivation of merit. So making offerings is always blessed for you, it is also a method for you to let go of wealth and possessions so that you can quickly escape the cycle of birth and death.
The reason why the venerable ones always encourage people to cultivate and accumulate merit. Because people who are rich in merit, when they practice, they will quickly achieve results. Indeed, merit helps you to increase your blessings, increase your life, and make everything go smoothly. Also in everyday life, merit is essential. Try to look at everything in life, many people with outstanding talent but still poor are still poor, it is because of a lack of merit. As a Buddhist, you have to try to collect blessings and still have to cultivate wisdom. If you want to be blessed, you must know how to make offerings and give alms. If you want to have wisdom, you must practice keeping your mind pure, so that wisdom arises. Practicing to have these two factors at the same time is called merit and wisdom dual cultivation. First of all, if you want to cultivate and create merit, you must know how to make offerings to the Three Jewels
1. Offering to Buddha
Buddha is a person who is confident in his own ability, strives to practice, practice until complete enlightenment, and no longer the bondage and error of worldly pleasures that are difficult for ordinary people to overcome.
Making offerings to the Buddha not only means showing respect and praise to the Buddhas of the ten directions, but also relying on signs to manifest the enlightened nature. Pursuing the cultivation of the mind, following the boundless compassion of the Great Enlightened One to advance and practice non-regression on the unsurpassed Buddhist path. Because of this meaning, Buddhists often buy gifts and make offerings to the Buddha at home or at temples. The offerings are usually:
- Offer a cup of clear water
Water can be stored in a clear glass or cup. Actually, clear water is not for Buddha to drink, but water symbolizes your mind as pure and equal to water
That cup of water is your purity, your equality, your awareness. You use your purity, equality, and enlightenment to make offerings to the Buddha. So you have to find out its symbolic meaning.
- Offering incense
Incense symbolizes morality, concentration and wisdom. Seeing incense burning, hearing its fragrance, you immediately think of practicing precepts, cultivating concentration, cultivating wisdom. Because incense is meant to wake you up, not because Buddha wants to smell it.
- Offering flowers
It must be a fresh flower, a flower in full bloom, it represents or represents the six perfections. Good causes are good results, so you can offer flowers and fruits. Offering fruit symbolizes the attainment of Bodhi, and also symbolizes Buddha, Bodhisattva, Sràvaka, and Pratyekabuddha, all of which belong to the fruit, which is the result of merit and virtue thanks to the practice of the Buddha.
- Offering lamps and candles
Offering lamps and candles represent wisdom, and light shines all over. Another meaning is to promote your own wisdom to illuminate others. These are the three kinds of giving, when lighting a lamp, the meaning of three kinds of giving is present: giving of property, giving of Dharma, and giving of fearlessness.
Especially while performing the offering ceremony, you need to prepare the offerings for purity. Arrange an orderly on the altar so that it is simple but dignified, avoiding cumbersome and confusion. For example: in the middle of the inside of the altar: stand outside looking in, arrange flowers on the right hand, fruit on the left hand, and pure water in the middle. Near the front of the altar, incense is lit in the middle, wax lamps burn on both sides. If you use electric lights, wax lamps are free.
In addition to the above offerings, you can donate money to build temples, offer statues to temples, and cast bells. Donate money to do the above or donate to the Three Jewels fund, the box of blessings and dew. It is a Buddhist to express gratitude and also to support the propagation of Buddhism. Make the Buddha's temple glorious and dignified, thereby increasing the respect for those who go to the temple and worship the Buddha.
In addition, those who have the heart to worship Buddha at home but do not have financial conditions can also contribute money to buy Buddha statues or images for them. At the same time, it is possible to help them set up a Buddhist altar at home so that it is dignified in accordance with the Dharma, creating a favorable condition for them to practice Buddhism. If you can do this with a pure mind without a need, without even thinking about seeking blessings or expecting something in return, then this is also an offering to the precious Buddha Treasure.
However, the most precious offering is the sincere heart and righteous practice of the Buddha's son. Indeed, making generous offerings is the practice of Bodhisattva Universal Virtue, a guideline for future generations to follow. There is only spacious practice, that is, the dignified practice from the aspiration of Compassion and the virtue of selflessness. Because of the great liberation from the sufferings of samsara of thousands of sentient beings, the contract with the Buddha's vows is the noblest offering to the Buddhas of the ten directions.
2. Offering Dharma Treasures
The Dharma is the true and practical teachings of the Buddhas in general, and Shakyamuni Buddha in particular helps sentient beings of all kinds to practice and practice to overcome suffering and pain in life. And being passed on by the Sangha to save sentient beings, those who follow the teachings of spiritual practice will break the delusion and become enlightened, then they will be freed from suffering and depression. That is the Teaching: the Four Noble Truths, the Twelve Causes and Conditions, the Eightfold Path, the Four Immeasurable Minds, the Six Paramitas, Cause and Effect, and Karma...
Thanks to the teachings of the Buddha, you know what is suffering, how to practice to be blessed, to be liberated. In response to that virtue, Buddhists must bring the Buddha's teachings to introduce to others so that they can have faith and study. For the sake of society, you are a child of Buddha, and if you have the conditions, you should make a mind to publish the scriptures and other Buddhist tools, that is, the world's abbot of the Dharma to spread it widely to everyone. Explaining the Dharma, to guide each other to cultivate the path of enlightenment and liberation of the Buddhas. That is called Dharma offering or Dharma giving. Remember, offering Dharma Jewels with a pure and selfless mind is truly noble.
3. Offering to the Sangha
Talking about the Sangha, there are two classes: Out of the world of Sangha are Bodhisattvas, Pratyekabuddhas, Sravakas, Arhats who have attained the fruit of Non-birth, and the world's abbots of the Sangha are genuine Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis. The pure monks and nuns have completely abandoned family love, studied diligently, and have high virtues. They are responsible for spreading the Buddha's teachings and preserving temples and scriptures. Create conditions for everyone to be close to the Three Jewels, to study and practice the Buddha's teachings to have peace and happiness in life.
Therefore, offering to the Sangha is an offering to Bodhisattvas, Pratyekabuddhas, Sravakas, Arahants, and monks who have left home to practice. As for the worldly abbot of the Sangha, thanks to the offerings of Buddhists far and near, the monks and nuns have enough means to study and propagate the Buddhadharma. Materials offered to the Sangha include food, clothing, bedding, and medicine. In addition to the above four offerings, today science has advanced, and Buddhists can offer monks and nuns more other means to make learning and teaching easier...
According to the scriptures, making offerings to the Three Jewels brings great blessings, but making offerings of merit is large or small, meritorious or not depends on the mind of the donor. Storytelling:
- There was a little boy who played children's games, made a house with branches, and used sand to make rice. One day, when a boy was playing, he saw the Buddha begging for food, he carried a bowl of sand thinking it was rice, and sincerely offered it to the Buddha. Thanks to the sand bowl of that life, so in one of his later lives he enjoyed the reward of being a king; That is King Ashoka. King Asoka was a king who stood at the top of the line to uphold the Buddha's teachings, far superior to Emperor Wu of China. King Asoka built a stone pillar to record the place of Buddha's birth and organized a collection of scriptures. To the south, the King ordered to bring the Buddha Dharma to Ceylon, and at the same time brought the sapling of the Bodhi tree where the Buddha attained enlightenment to Ceylon, that Bodhi tree remains to this day. The King also brought the Buddha's relics to Ceylon and neighboring countries in the south of India, whereby Theravada Buddhism expanded to the countries of Southeast Asia. To the north of India, there are countries like Pakistan, Afghanistan, and other countries in the Middle East.
Therefore, when making offerings to the Three Jewels, you should not have the heart to pray for the Three Jewels to protect you, to keep you rich, to cure you of diseases, to give you this and that... But you have to make offerings with an unwilling mind and ask for compensation. Because with such a wishful mind, there will be a loss of merit. Therefore, when a Buddhist makes an offering to the Three Jewels, not only must his mind be pure, but the materials of the offering must also be pure.
1. About the pure mind: Every time you make offerings to the three jewels, don't calculate, that is, you have a lot to offer a lot, a little bit of a donation, but with a heart that must always be joyful and sincere. When you have already donated, don't worry about whether you have donated too little or too much. Sincerity is most important.
2. About pure offerings: Fresh and pure offering materials are precious, moreover, but the money you spend on shopping must be done by yourself with a righteous profession to have many blessings. Example: A hired worker has a little money, he uses that money to buy a bunch of incense or buy a bunch of flowers to bring to the temple to worship Buddha. The merit is greater than a person who offers a lot of money and materials to the three jewels, while money or materials are not made by one's own efforts. For it is these gifts that are obtained by money obtained from unrighteous deeds.
No matter how much you eat and wear, it's not enough, but if you make an effort to make offerings to the Three Jewels, then your happiness will still be in the future. In order to make the perfect dignified offering, you can go to the temple to ask the monks and nuns, see what the temple is missing, or if there is anything to support so that you have the opportunity to be joyfully supported. ....
All your good deeds and offerings should be dedicated to praying for the longevity of the Dharma, a peaceful country, and a peaceful people. All families are reunited in peace and happiness, sickness and karma are eliminated, the wishes of the ancestors are fulfilled and the nine generations of ancestors are born in the Buddha's country, and all sentient beings in the three suffering paths are liberated.
A Buddhist must develop the mind, if given the opportunity and conditions, should make offerings to the three jewels, the donation will always have blessings for you. It is also a method to practice for you to let go of money and possessions so that you can quickly escape the cycle of birth and death. Therefore, the practice of making offerings to the Three Jewels is a superior blessing overall, because thanks to this offering, the Three Jewels are spread widely and perpetuated in the world for many people to rely on. Studying and practicing the Buddha's teachings will help you overcome life's pitfalls.
In short, the practice of making offerings to the Three Jewels is essential for monks and nuns to learn and practice the Buddha's teachings, spread the Dharma, preserve, spread, and promote the role of disciples. Buddha:
- Above wants to become Buddha, below wants to save sentient beings
To help people deeply believe in cause and effect, live to love, care for and help each other, not rely on any powerful person, but live responsibly for all your actions.
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