Today is such a special day, not for any other reason but because today (again time of writing does not necessarily reflect day of posting, although this will be posted on August 16, 2016) I get to share with you, as instructed by my Guru Lama the Ullambana Sutra, which is one of the most important Mahayana Sutra that has to be chanted on the fifteenth day of the seventh lunar month that is popularly known as the Hungry Ghost Festival, but as you will see the worst day of the year is also the Ullambana Day, which is a tool for us to turn this day into a positive one.
But I think I’m getting ahead of myself. I really don’t know where to start because I’m really excited to share this. I have been wanting to write about this but my Guru Lama has prohibited me from doing so, but now he has agreed that I write about it.
So let me see. Where do I start?
The Hungry Ghost Month, which happens on the 7th lunar month, is a dreaded month. Its peak is on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month. For this year, the peak happens on August 17, 2016. So it’s eve, which is on August 16 and a day after that which is the 18th of August are considered to be the second most dread day. There are a lot of negativities associated with the Hungry Ghost Month and the Hungry Ghost Festival, in fact, I have written much about it also, and the following are just some of it:
If you notice, there was a particular attention on the 2014 Hungry Ghost Month only because the effects of the Hungry Ghost that year was particularly strong. It was quite a bad year that year. A lot of the negative worldwide things that are still happening now started that year.
It is because of the things that I have written about that the Hungry Ghost Month is one of the most dreaded months of the year. And rightly so because the threat that it brings are very real. In fact, this year, the Olympics in Rio de Janeiro was filled with a lot of flaps from World Class athletes, there were also a lot of accidents and problems. Furthermore, on a personal level, I won’t be surprised if a lot of you are experiencing illness, depression, loss of money, or even loss of a relative, or had some accidents.
I have written extensively about the cures of the Hungry Ghost Month and will not write about them anymore but as some sort of review, the cures are Chung Kwei, Vajrapani Ruel, gold Kalachakra pendant, Surangama Mantra Amulet or even the Illness Suppression Amulet.
But today, what I would like to talk about is how the Hungry Ghost Festival, the day of the Hungry Ghost itself can be turned into a day of positive energy and attract good luck especially wealth luck and family luck.
I always say that when there is bad luck, I’m quite sure that the Buddha has provided us with the tools already. Sometimes we just have to discover them and find out about it.
The answer to countering this bad luck and turning it into a positive one is with the ULLAMBANA RITUAL. Needless to say the main ingredient in this ritual is by reciting the ULLAMBANA SUTRA!
First, what are the Ullambana Ritual and the Ullambana Sutra?
The Ullambana Sutra is one of the earliest sutras shared by Buddha Shakyamuni back at the days when He still has a physical body. The Ullambana Ritual is one of the oldest rituals; because it was first held during the time of Shakyamuni Buddha, again back at the days where He still has a physical body. Roughly speaking the ritual is about 3,000 years old. (Buddhism is about 500 years older than Christianity.)
If one does the Ullambana Ritual and chants the Ullambana Sutra, one has the power to save the lives of your elders up to 7 generations up. What good will this do? It will also create a tremendous amount of good luck for the one who did the ritual.
Ullambana is a Sanskrit word that means ‘to save from suffering’. Ullam means ‘being hung upside – down’, which was derived from a form of suffering experienced by Hungry Ghosts, and Bana means ‘to save’.
In the Buddha Speaks of the Ullambana Sutra, Maudgalyayana one of Buddha’s great disciple, Venerable Maudgalyayana, upon gaining the enlightenment and the Wisdom Eye, saw his mother became Hungry Ghosts and he saw that she is suffering and has an image of skin and bone, unable to take any food or drink. Venerable Maudgalyayana immediately made some food offering to his mother, but food when it was about to eaten by the spirit of his mother, turned into ashes. Venerable Maugdalyayana was deeply worried and asked Buddha for help.
At this point, allow me to lift several paragraphs from the website of BPL Monastery about the Ullambana Sutra and Ullambana Ritual:
Buddha told Maudgalyayana that due to his mother’s heavy karma Maudgalyayana alone was not enough to save her. On the 15th of July on the lunar calendar when all the monastics finished their summer retreat, he must offer to Sangha of the ten directions with a hundred kinds of delicacies. With the strengths of all the Sangha and the merit and virtue from such offering, he could then save his parents of the current life and seven lives past, and relatives from the suffering of the three evil paths.
Venerable Maudgalyayana followed Buddha’s instructions and was successful rescuing his mother from suffering as a hungry ghost. He then asked Buddha if Buddha’s disciples of the future wishing to practice filial piety could follow the Ullambana offering to help their parents of current and up to seven lifetimes past. Buddha answered, “Those who wish to practice compassionate filial conduct for the sake of the parents who bore them, as well as for the sake of fathers and mothers of seven lives past, on the fifteenth day of the seventh month, the Day of the Buddhas’ Delight, the Day of the Sangha’s Pravarana, they should vow to cause the length of life of the present father and mother to reach a hundred years without illness, without sufferings, afflictions, or worries, and also vow to cause seven generations of fathers and mothers to leave the sufferings of the hungry ghosts, to be born among men and gods, and to have blessings and bliss without limit.”
Who should do the Ullambana Ritual?
Well, technically speaking, we should all do the Ullambana ritual for our parents and other family members who passed away. We can also do this for all our ancestors and also for all sentient beings who are suffering in the realm of the Hungry Ghost.
However, if you notice that your suffering or bad luck started when a parent or family member passed away then you should definitely do the Ullambana ritual for that family member. Also, if you are suffering from lack of financial luck and also if you have a tremendous family problem you should definitely do the Ullambana ritual.
How often should you do it?
Do it every year, even if your parents are not in the realm of Hungry Ghost, or even if they have been reborn or reincarnated already, they will still benefit from the Ullambana ritual.
But more than that, we who offer them the Ullambana ritual will also gain a lot of blessings, but this should not be the primary reason, the primary concern should be for those relatives who have moved on.
How to do the Ullambana ritual?
Nowadays, Buddhist temples have made it easy for us to do the Ullambana ritual. All you have to do is go to the temple, and then register or enroll the name of the dead person whom you want the benefits of the ritual be offered to. The temple will arrange for you all the necessary offerings. You may or may not attend the actual ritual, but attending is highly encouraged because the merits gained when you attend is so much better or higher if you are physically and emotionally participating in the said ritual.
However, the purpose of this post is to teach you on how to do the ritual. Why? Because doing it yourself is so much better than having it done. What I usually do is enroll the name of my departed ancestor to a Buddhist temple and let them do the ritual, but at the same time, we also do the ritual at home.
Doing the ritual is actually easy, albeit it might be a little tedious.
Below is the step-by-step guide on how to do the ritual on the 15th day of the 7th lunar month:
Note: You can do the ritual anytime of the day, but it is better to do it early in the morning. Also preparing the ingredients a day before will make things easier. The most ideal time to do this is around 2AM.
- Brush your teeth and take a bath. Do not eat anything.
- Put on decent clothing.
- On a big table, put in the center an image of a Buddha or a Bodhisattva.
- Then put the following:
- Bowl of cooked rice put some chopsticks or spoon.
- A bowl of each vegetable that is either boiled or steamed: Broccoli, Carrots (cut into cubes), Cauliflower, Upo (White Squash / Sitting Vegetable) or Sayote (Chayote), Sweet Potatoes (Cut into Cubes), Mushroom, Radish (cut into cubes).
- The following fruits arrange into a small pyramid like structure: Apples, Oranges, Pears.
- One brunch or piece each of the following fruits: Pineapple, Banana, Grapes, Papaya or Pomelo or Watermelon or Melon.
- Three bottled water.
- Three blankets.
- Three Red Envelopes (Ang Pao) with some money.
- Optional: One to three sacks of rice.
- Optional: Fabric that is similar to what the monks wear.
- Light a single incense stick and chant the INCENSE PRAISE:
- The censer is now lit, suffusing the Dharma realm;
- And from afar the scent is inhaled by the True Buddha Assembly.
- Auspicious are the gathering clouds, as we now request,
- With sincere and earnest hearts, that all Buddha manifests.
- Homage to the Enlightened One, cloud canopy of fragrance, Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas. (3x)
- Then light a candle or lamp.
- Then on a piece of yellow paper (lengthwise of a standard size bond paper), write the name of the person, date of birth and date of death. You can also put “ANCESTORS OF (YOUR NAME)”. Then place the paper near the foot of the image of the Buddha or Bodhisattva. You can do the writing before hand. If more than one name, one paper for each name. Use a red pentel pen in writing the names of the dead person.
- Then put the incense on an incense burner or incense holder or on the rice.
- Then face the table (standing) or make shift altar and chant the following three times while your palms are together in front of your chest, about an inch below your chin:
- Namo Fundamental Teacher Shakyamuni Buddha
- Then still in the same position, chant the following:
- The dharma infinitely profound and subtle, is rarely encountered even in a million of kalpas. We are now able to hear, recite, and follow it, may we realized the Tatagatha’s true meaning.
- Then take a seat.
- Chant the Ullambana Sutra (3x). Download The Buddha Speaks of the Ullambana Sutra here.
- After chanting the mantra, stand up again and chant the following: LI PO LI PO TI, QIO HÊ QIO HÊ TO, TUO LO NI DI, NI HÊ LA TI, PI LI NI DI, MO HÊ QIE TI, QIEN LING QIE TI SA PO HÊ (3X)
- Get the bowl of rice and pinch a small amount and throw it on the East, then do the process again, this time West, then South, then North, then Northeast, Southeast, Northwest, and Southwest.
- Then burn the yellow papers.
- Dismantle the make shift altar, starting with the image of the Buddha or Bodhisattva.
- Keep the blanket, and also the sack of rice (if you offered them). Also keep the cloth (if you offered them).
- Keep the ang pao or red envelope with money.
- Bring the blanket, sack/s of rice, cloth and red envelope (ang pao) to a temple and donate it.
Some Buddhist temple will do the Ullambana for 7 consecutive days. Some will do it a few days before the Ullambana festival itself, but if you’re doing it at home, it is so much better to do it on the day of the Ullambana Festival itself (15th day of the 7th lunar month / coincides with the Hungry Ghost Festival).
You can also recite the Ullambana Sutra after the Ullambana Festival/Hungry Ghost Festival without doing the full ritual. Always end the reciting of the Ullambana Sutra by saying: I DEDICATE THE MERIT OF THIS DEED TO MY “PARENTS” OR “NAME OF A PERSON” OR “ANCESTORS”.
If you wish to know more about the Hungry Ghost Month, please read all the other articles by clicking here.
Or read the following:
TO UNDERSTAND MORE ABOUT THE HUNGRY GHOST MONTH, HUNGRY GHOSTS, IT’S EFFECTS, RITUALS AND PROTECTION READ THE FOLLOWING HUNGRY GHOSTS SERIES:
YOU MAY WISH TO READ THE FOLLOWING ALSO:
OR YOU CAN CLICK ON THE CATEGORY – KUWENTO TUNGKOL SA HUNGRY GHOST MONTH.
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