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Recite – A – Sutra (7): Recite the Ullambana Sutra on the 15th Day of the 7th Lunar Month – How the Hungry Ghost Month Is Not Just About Negative Energies – It Is Also Time To Change One’s Bad Fate to A Positive One!

Published Agosto 15, 2016 by jptan2012

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.

  1. Brush your teeth and take a bath. Do not eat anything.
  2. Put on decent clothing.
  3. On a big table, put in the center an image of a Buddha or a Bodhisattva.
  4. Then put the following:
    1. Bowl of cooked rice put some chopsticks or spoon.
    2. 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).
    3. The following fruits arrange into a small pyramid like structure: Apples, Oranges, Pears.
    4. One brunch or piece each of the following fruits: Pineapple, Banana, Grapes, Papaya or Pomelo or Watermelon or Melon.
    5. Three bottled water.
    6. Three blankets.
    7. Three Red Envelopes (Ang Pao) with some money.
    8. Optional: One to three sacks of rice.
    9. Optional: Fabric that is similar to what the monks wear.
  5. Light a single incense stick and chant the INCENSE PRAISE:
    1. The censer is now lit, suffusing the Dharma realm;
    2. And from afar the scent is inhaled by the True Buddha Assembly.
    3. Auspicious are the gathering clouds, as we now request,
    4. With sincere and earnest hearts, that all Buddha manifests.
    5. Homage to the Enlightened One, cloud canopy of fragrance, Bodhisattvas, Mahasattvas. (3x)
  6. Then light a candle or lamp.
  7. 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.
  8. Then put the incense on an incense burner or incense holder or on the rice.
  9. 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:
    1. Namo Fundamental Teacher Shakyamuni Buddha
  10. Then still in the same position, chant the following:
    1. 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.
  11. Then take a seat.
  12. Chant the Ullambana Sutra (3x). Download  The Buddha Speaks of the Ullambana Sutra here.
  13. 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)
  14. 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.
  15. Then burn the yellow papers.
  16. Dismantle the make shift altar, starting with the image of the Buddha or Bodhisattva.
  17. Keep the blanket, and also the sack of rice (if you offered them). Also keep the cloth (if you offered them).
  18. Keep the ang pao or red envelope with money.
  19. 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.

 

For questions, comments, and suggestions please email sanaakosirickylee@gmail.com

 

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Mahakasyapa and Ananda: A Lesson About Karma and Great Compassion

Published Mayo 13, 2015 by jptan2012

Some people, especially those who are not Buddhist or Taoist might find this post a little extreme because of the belief or teaching about reincarnation and that we humans could be reborn as animals, or insects, or could have come from either animals or insects. Nevertheless, no matter how shocking it is, and some may even consider it ridiculously degrading, the truth is this is a widely accepted belief in Buddhism and Taoism, and thus it is important to be kind and compassionate to all sentient beings.

Today, allow me to share the story of Mahakasyapa (also spelled as Mahakassapa) and Ananda. Mahakasyapa and Ananda are just two of the Sakyamuni Buddha’s (also spelled as Shakyamuni) disciple. Mahakasyapa is an old disciple, and Ananda, who is of the royal family before he became a disciple of Buddha and a monk, is young and famous not just for his astounding memory but also for being handsome.

In Buddhist temples, Mahakasyapa (Mahakassapa) is usually on the Buddha's left side (from our point of view - right side) and Ananda is on the Buddha's right side.

In Buddhist temples, Mahakasyapa (Mahakassapa) is usually on the Buddha’s left side (from our point of view – right side) and Ananda is on the Buddha’s right side.

One day, while they were out on a walk, the Buddha instructed Ananda to ask a fruit vendor for a watermelon. Ananda, confidently walked over to the lady who sells watermelon and begged for a watermelon. Remember, during those days it is traditional for monks to beg, and lay people even vendors would be very willing to donate food or whatever they can to the monks. However, much to Ananda’s surprise, the fruit lady not only denied him a watermelon, but also she rudely drove her away.

Ananda went back to the Buddha to report what happened. The Buddha then instructed Mahakasyapa to beg for a watermelon. Both Mahakasyapa and Ananda and other members of the sangha didn’t believe that Mahakasyapa will have better luck, but even before Mahakasyapa got to the fruit lady, the fruit lady ran towards him and offered him a watermelon to quench his thirst from the hot weather.

Needless to say, all the Buddha’s disciples were surprised. Then the Buddha explained to them what happened.

In one of their previous lives, Ananda and Mahakasyapa had come across the fruit lady. However, at that time the fruit lady was a cat. The cat died on the street, and when Ananda (in his previous life) saw the dead cat, he veered away because he didn’t like the smell of the rotting flesh and also he didn’t care about the dead cat. On the other hand, Mahakasyapa (in his previous life) when he saw the dead cat, he prayed for it, and picked it up to give the cat a proper burial. Mahakasyapa with his simple act of compassion and kindness towards the dead cat earned a lot of good karma affinity with the dead cat that now happens to be the fruit lady.

That simple act of compassion that Mahakasyapa did, which didn’t even cost him single money, earned him some good karma. Needless to say, Mahakasyapa did the good act of compassion and not for wanting good merits.

Negative Calorie Food

Published Hunyo 29, 2012 by jptan2012

People who know me personally know that I’m currently trying to lose weight. After losing about 40 pounds in a year’s time, I now find it hard to shed the rest of the weight that I need to lose, especially; my metabolism is sort of slow. The fight against the bulge is a constant battle, and one needs to come up with different ways of fight the bulge because our body get used to what we eat and do and sort of creates a certain ‘relax’ mode that makes the fight a little slower.

In my new quest to lose weight, I found out that there is such a thing as a negative calorie food; basically, these are foods that have a low calorie index and will take out more calories for us to digest them. Scientists are divided with regards to this belief, some say it’s impossible and say its true. However, if you look at the arguments of both sides, regardless whether ‘negative calorie’ theory is true or not, one thing is certain, these are foods that has low calorie index. Meaning, you may eat a lot and there’s a low chance that you’ll get fat from a ‘negative calorie’ food. Furthermore, most of these foods included in the list of ‘negative calorie foods’ are high in fiber and will tend to make us feel full longer. A lot of them are also high in nutrients.

Allow me to share the top fifteen ‘negative calorie’ foods.

CELERY. This is the best of all negative calorie foods because it is high in fiber and essential nutrients. Plus, you need to eat about 1.5 kilos of celery before you get 200 calories out of it, so it’s really a low calorie food.

 

ORANGES. Is another negative calorie food. Furthermore, it’s high in vitamin C.

STRAWBERRY. Another fruit on the list is the beautiful and very delicious strawberry, this is one of my favorite fruits. However, strawberries are considered one of the ‘dirtiest’ fruit in terms of the amount of pesticide it gets before it reaches us. Here in the Philippines, it is almost if not totally impossible to get organic strawberries.

KIWI. A fruit that I also really love is kiwi and I’m lucky enough for it to be included in the negative calorie list. On top of that, a kiwi has one of the highest amount of vitamin C.

GRAPEFRUIT. I never really liked grapefruit, but I’ll try to eat more of this fruit because other than being a negative calorie fruit it’s also high in essential nutrients and anti-oxidants.

CARROTS. Need I say more? We all know the benefits of eating a carrot, we’ve been told about this by our parents and teachers.

APRICOT. They look like peaches but not as delicious, at least, for me. However, here in the Philippines, it is very rare that we have fresh apricots, and take note, dried ones are not as good.

LETTUCE. I really don’t know whether we can cook a lettuce or what’s the best way of cooking it. However, it’s one of the most common vegetable you’ll find in a salad. But again be careful with the kind of dressing that you use. It’s just sad that my favorite vegetable Arugula is not in the list of top fifteen negative calorie foods.

TOMATOES. What’s so nice about tomatoes is that one can eat it raw, but they say if you want to benefit from lycopene you must cook it. By the way, a tomato is a fruit and not a vegetable.

CUCUMBER. A cucumber has a very high water content, therefore it will easily make you feel full.

WATERMELON. I love a really cold watermelon, but they say it has no nutritional content.

CAULIFLOWERS. One of the best way of eating a cauliflower is simply to blanch it and then dip it in a non-fat salad dressing.

APPLE. Even before I found out that an apple is a negative calorie food, I’ve started eating it whenever I’m craving for food. I believe that it has help me in my weight loss. However, apples are also one of the dirtiest fruits in terms of pesticide use on them. In fact, the saying an apple a day keeps the doctor away is no longer true.

ZUCCHINI. Not my favorite.

HOT CHILI PEPPER. Okay, I don’t know why this is in the list, it’s not like we eat like we eat the other foods in the list. However, aside from being a negative calorie food, a chili also has a certain property that aids in weight loss.

Also add in the list are most green leafy vegetables, however, it should be noted that some say for them to be truly negative calorie they should be eaten raw. It’s not a problem with the fruits, but with some of the vegetables, eating them raw tends to make it bland, so be careful with the dressing if you’re making a salad out of it. Nevertheless, some say they’re negative calorie regardless whether they are raw or cooked, but you have to be careful with the other ingredients if you decided to cook them, because they will add calorie to the negative calorie food.

 

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