DHARMA IN EVERYDAY LIFE
- NEED TO KNOW ABOUT
- HUNGRY GHOST OFFERINGS
By Nhat Quan
Blessed One was in his residence at Sangharama, Nigrodharama,
Kapilavatthu City. The Buddha said that the short Dharma
period was full of monks, bodhisattvas, gods, humans, etc.
Particularly, Venerable Ananda is sitting in another quiet
On the third
watch of that day, there was a hungry ghost with a tall body,
a dry body, and a red mouth like a blood pot. Every time it
breathes out, fire comes out, when it breathes in, it sucks
in, that is, fire burns in and out with the breath. Its hair
is tangled and bouncing, each strand of hair is hard and flat,
sharp like a knife, in the hair, fire, and smoke are coming
out, it looks terrible!
fire-mouthed demon stood in front of Venerable Ananda and
- Dear White
Venerable An Nan, in three days you will have to die and
become a Fire Mouth Devil like me!
Ananda was terrified! Fire Mouth Devil continued:
- You want to
not die, there is only one way that you have to give each part
of 77 wooden vessels of food and drink to countless species of
Fire-mouthed Demons, The spirits of the dead person, hundreds
of thousands of times more numerous! And on behalf of us to
make offerings to the Three Jewels,…Not only you, but all
those who work together like you have a long life,
immeasurable merit, and virtue….
Ananda returned to Monastery and told the Buddha, and asked
the Buddha to teach him how to have enough food for each part
of 77 wooden vessels for hundreds of thousands of countless
times and save countless Fire Mouth Devils!
reason, the Buddha taught the rites of worshiping spirits.
In the spirit
of Mahayana Buddhism, it not only saves birth but also saves
death. Sentient beings who fall into hell without a method of
relief will never be free from all suffering and will sink to
hell forever. Therefore, saving birth is a responsibility, and
saving death is a vow of the Buddha's children, of the spirit
of great kindness, great compassion, and the great vow of
Buddhism. Therefore, Ksitigarbha is a bodhisattva who made a
-- When I save
all sentient beings suffering in hell, I will become a Buddha.
If you want to
save sentient beings, you have to use means, just like if you
want to have enough rice to eat from hunger, you have to use
firewood, coal, electricity, etc., then the rice will become
ripe to eat. In the same way, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas want to
help living beings or the dead, and they use many means to
make the living people feel at ease with what they have done
to the deceased. People who die through this merit are freed
Festival of Worshiping the Spirits, Offering the Souls is a
must-do for the Buddha's children. However, the establishment
of festivals and worshiping hungry ghosts must be in
accordance with the Buddha's teachings and should not be
displayed in forms of waste of money such as burning gold and
silver paper, or making effigies, all these things are not in
accordance with the spirit of the Buddha's teachings. Faithful
Dharma here needs to point out a few basic things:
1- The monks
prove that sacrifice must be pure of heart.
organizers must be sincere.
decoration must be dignified, and the ceremony grounds must be
clean and not noisy.
these basic things, the worshiping ceremony will have good
results, the spirits of the dead person, the forsaken spirits,
the hungry ghosts who direct their hearts to practice good,
give up evil for the righteous, and take refugee to Three
Jewelry rely on this merit transcended. The Buddha's son who
can make this vow is a great charity, creating good karma,
expanding Bodhicitta, a clear path of cultivation, and
grandparents, and parents, have passed away a long time ago,
so does the requiem, or the Festival of Worshiping the Spirits
have any effect?
know, in the endless cycle of birth and death of each human
life, there is no one without relatives. The life of certain
sentient beings has not had the good fortune to meet the
Buddha's Dharma, the cause and effect, and karma are not
clear, so when they die, it is difficult to avoid falling into
a place of suffering, torture, extreme hunger, and thirst
wandering here and there, caves and alleys there. Only the
enlightened Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can clearly see the good
and bad karma of sentient beings and teach you. If you are not
enlightened, you cannot see their suffering! Therefore, with
infinite compassion for those who have died of various karmas,
the Buddha taught you to set up a festival to sacrifice, to
help the deceased quickly escape the torment. Therefore, those
who are children, parents, brothers, and sisters cannot ignore
the scene of their loved ones groaning in pain in the dark.
this tradition is preserved today. Especially in each
monastery, when there are great Buddhist events, such as the
mass Pray for Peace, the inauguration, the requiem for the
Elder master or patriarch in the temple or the requiem for the
deceased lay Buddhists, or the offices and companies set up
forums requiem for the spirits of the region.
offerings of forsaken spirits, the festival requiem for the
spirits of the dead person is held on the largest scale. Since
it covers both literary and philosophical aspects, almost all
the essence of Tantric Mahayana Buddhist thought and
literature is included here.
In terms of
form, this festival is based on the philosophy of Tantric
Buddhism. Instant layout in a simple form of a mandala. Within
it is a circle, represented as a lotus flower in full bloom,
and this circle is the basis of the tantric cosmology.
Usually, there are two sets of mandalas:
1- The Realm
of Diamond Elements (Vajradhàtu-mandala) symbolizes the wisdom
of the Buddha's attainment. That is, taking human beings or
sentient beings as personal, but above all, taking the
personality of the Buddha as a symbol of the absolute essence.
Garbhadhàtu-mandala symbolizes his means of saving birth. This
Mandala takes on personality, which is the inconceivable
dharma of the Buddha and the inconceivable life span.
Personality has five factors, called Five Aggregations: form,
feeling, perception, mental formations, and consciousness.
They gather into a fictitious self, so they are called
aggregates. The world of personality is composed of five
elements, called the Five Great: Earth, water, fire, wind, and
On the basis
of the teachings of these two Mandalas, first The Realm of
Diamond Elements is established to express the Buddha's wisdom
and evidence. Vajra is a solid that cannot be destroyed by
anything. Therefore, Vajra is used as a concept that
concretizes the essence of the existence of the Buddha body,
called Vajra's indestructible body (vajrasauhatanakaya). That
body, like the body of all living beings, is composed of the
five aggregates and the five great elements. But the existence
of the Buddha's body is not different from the function of the
Buddha's knowledge. Therefore, the five elements correspond to
the five wisdoms. And the personality of the Buddha, as the
unified whole of existence and perception, is expressed in the
corresponding five Tathagatas, the Five Wisdom Tathagatas, or
the five Zen Buddhas.
Both sets of
mandalas can also represent two hands. The right hand is the
Vajra world. From the little finger to the thumb, in order:
Regarding the five aggregates, the little finger is the
aggregate of form, and respectively the aggregate of feeling,
the aggregate of perception, the aggregate of formations, and
the aggregate of consciousness. Regarding the five greats, the
five kinds of knowledge, and the five Tathagatas are also in
the same order. Regarding the paramitas, counting from the
little finger: generosity, morality, patience, and diligence
to the thumb is the perfection of meditation.
The left hand
is the Garbha world; also count from little finger to thumb in
order, with five elements, five aggregates, etc. like the
right hand. Regarding the Paramitas: Wisdom, means, vows,
power, and meditation.
Thus, when the
two hands are joined, both the compassion and wisdom of the
Buddha are complete. The festival of sacrifices is arranged on
the basis of cosmology, with a few changes. Simply put, the
forum is arranged as a reduction of the cosmic world into a
reality that exists before our eyes.
The purpose of
the arrangement in this Festival of Sacrifice is to develop
the Buddha's supportive blessing power. Tantra says:
- The Buddha
demonstrates the means of saving sentient beings by means of
his blessing power. Blessing in three respects, which the term
- The Three
Secrets of Yoga
to the three karmic actions of a being: body, mouth, and mind.
supporting power of the Buddha, is manifested through the body
of a being in sitting postures and the mudra, that is, the
fingers of two hands intersecting in a certain posture
stipulated. Blessing in the mouth is expressed through the
recitation of mantras.
Buddhism, regardless of skin color, race, living or dead, is
pervasive through many means of which the festival of
sacrifices is one of them. When living beings have created
many karmas, when they die, there are many forms:
- Death by
water, being hit by a car, dying in war, being stabbed to
death, drinking poison, biting by other species, falling into
rivers and seas, collapsing tunnels... in so many ways, not
yet free from suffering, so still wandering here and there, in
many different forms. Feeling sorry for those souls that poet
Nguyen Du, in the literature of the sacrifice of ten kinds of
sentient beings, wrote:
- Each person
has a different karma,
soul does not know where now
festival is a practice among countless dharma disciplines. It
is a form of giving, which includes both material giving and
dharma giving. Of course, in the festival's donation of
material things, although the mortal eyes of the living do not
see any damage, all of them have been used by beings in the
hungry ghost path, and they use them by means of methods.
Mindfulness and also the way of eating thoughts. However, the
most important thing is still the Dharma giving. Because only
dharma giving can help sentient beings receive gifts, and only
dharma giving can help sentient beings escape from the realm
of suffering and be reborn in the Pure Land.
object of the festival of sacrifices is sentient beings in the
hungry ghost path, which you often say are ghosts or Forsake
spirits. Those are the dead who have not yet been liberated.
Those people may include your grandfather, grandmother,
father, mother, brother, sister, relatives, friends, etc. Much
previous life. Many elements die in many ways, collectively
known as the Ten Types of Beings or the Ten Types of Souls.
According to the collection of Yoga Practices for the Practice
of Fire Mouth Offering Ritual, translated from Sanskrit into
Han by Amogha Tripitaka Dharma Master in the Tang Dynasty, the
ten types of Forsake spirits include:
1- The soul of
the dead died for the country.
2. The souls
of the dead died because of wrongful bondholders, abortion, or
3. The soul of
the dead for creating unfilial karma, immorality, and contempt
for the Three Jewels.
4. The soul of
the dead died in the river, died in the sea.
5. The soul of
the dead died in a remote border place.
6. The soul of
the dead died in exile, died on the road, and died in the
7. The soul of
the dead died by suicide, drowned in a river, fell off a
mountain, died by stabbing, died by slashing.
8. The soul of
the dead died of torture and humiliation in prison.
9. The soul of
the dead died from being beaten and tortured
10. The soul
of the dead was blind, crippled, mute, deaf when she lived,
she really had no one to take care of.
types of forsaken spirits live restlessly in one place, now
and then in other places, depending on the situation that they
rely on and appear. There are forsaken spirits with a greedy
nature, seeing food as stealing each other, causing pain to
each other. Or there are forsaken spirits that look at their
food and turn into inedible blood, endure all kinds of
indescribable sufferings, and receive all kinds of torments.
The Buddha radiated light seeing all these sufferings, he had
boundless compassion, devised many ways to save, regardless of
species, and made a vow:
sufferings of sentient beings are boundless, he vows to save
Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva vows:
- After saving
all sentient beings, I became a Buddha.
there is a festival of sacrifices.
In some other
faculties, there are also some forsaken spirits, such as
Kings, emperors, mandarins, and martial officers of the
dynasties, who died by accident being usurped or raised the
dream of unification but have not yet achieved it die. The
students studied day and night to raise their dream of fame
and fortune, but they died prematurely halfway. The monks and
Taoists for some reason were not enlightened, so forsaken
spirits hung around in the old temples and shrines where they
The beings in
the path of the hungry ghosts have to endure a very painful
life. On the one hand, because of the karma they have created,
even though they have died, they still keep holding on to
hatred, attachment to worldly life, and greed for property...
on the other hand, there are no people to worship or remember,
so they live in a situation lost, helpless, no one to love, no
refuge, no one to sacrifice...
beings in the path of the hungry ghosts are hungry both
physically and mentally. Buddha with compassion should have
the means to preach many methods to save the suffering of all
species, in which the ritual festival sacrifice is a special
method to save sentient beings from the realm of hungry
performing this dharma, thanks to the power of the three
esoteric means of Yoga, sentient beings in the hungry ghost
path are comforted by sutras and chanted verses in a very
earnest voice, imbued with human affection, but also filled
with the mysterious philosophy of profound Buddhism. At the
same time, they also enjoyed a feast of vegetarian food after
many years of poverty and hunger.
The power of
the Buddha's Dharma is inconceivable, with unobstructed
compassion, regardless of caste, religion, or race, the
priceless Dharma-giving session in the assembly can turn seven
grains of rice into a full ten, filling you up. enough for
countless sentient beings.
of sacrifices to forsaken spirits has a very important
character, that you always think of the unlucky souls, the
unexpected deaths of your relatives, the family who are being
tormented in the realm of the hungry ghosts, the lonely souls
who have not yet free from suffering, they long for
redemption. With a good mind remembering them, surely the
spirits will be free from suffering, and you will no longer be
attached to that karmic feeling.
In short, the
festival of sacrifices, requiem for forsaken spirits is a
practice among countless dharma disciplines. It is a form of
giving, which includes both material giving and dharma giving.
Of course, the giving of material things in the ashram, even
through the ordinary eyes of the living, you will not see any
damage, but all have been consumed by the beings in the hungry
ghost path because they are used by them eating by
consciousness and eating by thoughts. However, the most
important thing is still giving the Dharma. Because only
giving the Dharma can help sentient beings receive gifts, and
only the Dharma giving will help them escape from the realm of
suffering and be reborn in the Pure Land.
As it was said
once, the main object of the festival is sentient beings in
the path of the hungry ghosts, but among those beings, maybe
there are grandparents, fathers, mothers, brothers, sisters,
relatives, and friends. friends… of us?
Even if you
are not a close relative, how many people have died on this
land for you to live? And although those beings have nothing
to do with you, they are so hungry and need help, why would
you turn a blind eye? Therefore, the dharma assembly is a way
to repay the debt of gratitude between the living and the
dead. How many injustices and hatreds are buried underground,
submerged in the depths of the sea, or lurking somewhere in
the souls of the dead and the living? Then in this priceless
holy water festival, pray that through chanting and verses,
you can convert injustice into love, understanding, sympathy,
and forgiveness. Pray to turn injustice into kindness. The
grace of parents, the grace of teachers, the grace of heaven
and earth, the grace of fellow human beings. That grace has
tightened human love through many lifetimes!
May all the
dead spirits, lonely souls, and hungry ghosts rely on this
merit to be transcended and direct their minds to cultivate
good, correct evil, and respect the Three Jewels. The Buddha's
son who can make this vow is a great charity, creating good
karma, expanding Bodhicitta, clear karma, and developing
the folklore, setting up a festival of sacrifices to save the
dead spirits, lonely souls, and hungry ghosts, then they will
repay: Business is successful and prosperous in the spirit:
things, things to repay
fruit, remember who planted the tree.
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