A Proposal to the General Public for Showing Respect to the Three Jewels
Eminent Monks from Sacred Places and Lay Buddhist Practitioners:
In modern society, due to the flourishing printing and various molding crafts, many business people print images of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas, words of sutras and pictures of pagodas and temples on admission tickets, logos, advertisements, business cards, merchandise packing and wall calendars, or produce all kinds of ornaments or decorative pendants just for the purpose of making profits.
Most of these above-mentioned printed materials or handicrafts are then thrown into dustbins by innocent people after a very short-time of circulation. Especially on scenic spots, the packing boxes of incense, admission tickets and other packing materials bearing the pattern or words of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas, sutras or stupas and so on are thrown away by people at random and trampled underfoot. They can be seen scattered everywhere in garbage dumps. In order to attract customers, some manufacturers even print images of Buddhist pagodas on their products, for example, on soles of shoes.
Besides these, there are some Buddhist believers incorrectly spread the information that burning sutras or images of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas would enable their dead ancestors’ souls to be liberated from the miserable realms. Or they sell some used sutras or old Buddhist periodicals as wastepaper. Furthermore, there are some lay Buddhists treat the sutras like secular books and use them as cushions on their seats…… All these phenomena are causes for deep concerns. On account of this, this article will discuss and analyze the topic of showing respect to the Three Jewels (Buddha, Dharma and Sangha) in four sections so as to call on all Buddhists, monastic or lay, to show reverence to the Three Jewels by themselves and to practice the Buddha’s teaching on taking refuge in the Three Jewels.
The Disastrous Effects of Disrespecting the Three Jewels
In the Buddha Speaks of Disrespect toward the Dharma Sutra, Ah Nan asks the Buddha, “Why do people believe in the Buddha and study the teaching of the Buddha but have quite different results? Some become rich and respectable while others suffer losses and decline?” The Buddha replies to Ah Nan, “……Some people believe in the Buddha, learn Buddha’s teaching but have not met a good teacher; they don’t have any sutras or images of the Buddha, or they further do not respect their Guru and the Three Jewels ... They show no respect or piety toward the sutras and images of the Buddha when they see them. Or if they have sutras, they just hang them on the wall in arrogance or for entertainment, they throw them on the bed or sleeping mat carelessly, or pitch them into clothes, quilts, and tattered bamboo boxes, or let their wives and children hold them with their dirty hands. Even suffering smudging of smoke or when the house is leaking, they don’t show any concern or examine the sutras. Nor do they make offerings of incense or lamps and confess their sins to the sutras. They just treat the sutras no differently than they do non-Buddhist or worldly books.
These so-called Buddhists will be abandoned by virtuous gods and they will give evil spirits an opportunity to come near them. These evil spirits will follow them closely and will not let them go. The evil spirits will try every means to weaken these people and make them ill. Thus their sins will continue to accumulate and demons and evil spirits will linger at their door, making them steadily decline until they finally die.
After death, such a person will be dragged into the muddy hell by the sins and karmas he had accumulated in his lifetime. This is all because he believed in Buddhism only in name, because deep inside, his belief was not sincere and concentrated. His faith was not firm, he hesitated and was not devoted, and actually he didn’t believe in Buddhism at all. That is why he committed such sins, met such disasters, and suffered so much losses and decline to such bad situation.” All of these examples should fill us with awe!
The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment says, “There is strength in actions directed toward the Three Jewels, gurus, those who are like gurus, parents, and the like, for, though you direct no intense thoughts toward them and do them only small harm or help, the ensuing misdeed and merit is great.”
Because there is strength in actions which can cause the karma to increase greatly, if your actions are directed toward the Three Jewels and the like, even though your thoughts are not intense and you are doing them only small help or harm, the ensuing merit or bad karma is great.
According to The Ksudraka Bases of Discipline (Vinaya-ksudraka-vastu), when the Krakucchanda Buddha entered nirvana, King Carumat built a stupa for Krakucchanda Buddha. The stupa was very big. Seeing that the stupa to be built was so big, a workman twice complained, "Building such a big stupa, on which day will we finish it?" Later, when it was nicely finished, he realized that he was wrong and regretted. So he used his wage to buy a small golden bell and hung it on the stupa as offering. As a result of his misdeed, he was reborn later with an ugly and tiny body, like a pigmy. Because he offered a golden bell to the stupa, he got a most beautiful voice. This is because the field of merit to which his action was directed was wonderful. An exceptional field of merit truly brings wonderful blessings. On the contrary, if someone does something bad to it, such as underestimating or trampling it, the result of such misdeeds would be much worse than others!
Regarding printing images of the Buddha and Boddhisattva on incense packages, Master Yinguang once instructed: “Manufacturing incense is the easiest way to collect merits, but it is also the easiest way to accumulate evil karma. If the product is not pure and clean, or if it is designed trying to come up with the newest and most attraction in packing, the manufacturers print images of the Buddha and Boddhisattva on product instruction leaflets or incense boxes, or make images of Buddha and Boddhisattva in incense or rosary beads, and ignorant people rush to buy them, the sin of blasphemy is beyond words. Product instruction leaflets and incense boxes are thrown away, I am afraid that if people earn profits in this way, not only their descendants would be extinct, but they may fall into the Abichi Hell forever the moment he doesn’t catch his breath. They started the process of blaspheming against images of the Buddha and Boddhisattva which caused even pious worshippers to commit great sins, let alone non-believers.” “The greater sins of such manufacturers are beyond description, though they themselves are quite proud of what they have done.”
According to The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, “Shara-wa said: ‘We are playing around with the teaching in so many ways. Showing disrespect for the teaching and its teachers ruins our wisdom. We are stupid enough now-let's not create more stupidity! If we become even more stupid, what will we be able to do?’”
Regarding the faults of disrespecting the sutras or the Dharma Jewel, Master Yinguang also said, “Nowadays, Buddhists read the sutras without any sincerity or respect. The disrespectful behaviors are too many to enumerate, but people have been doing this for such a long time that they were unaware of their inappropriate behaviors and they are comfortable with it.
For the sign of slights and undignified ways, I dare not to give the details of such behaviors （e.g., putting the sutras in dirty places, staining them with saliva or damaging them by scratching the pages with fingernails, sitting in an improper posture while reading the sutra and laughing and talking without restraint, etc.）These people treat the words of the Buddha as sliced and used paper. Let alone those who don’t understand the teaching and won’t gain any benefit. And for those who well understand the meaning of the teaching, if they engage in such behaviors, they will get nothing but are lip-service believers just seeking a good reputation.
A hungry man cannot be full if he talks about menu without having it or a poor can’t be enriched if only counts other people’s treasures. They do get a lot of research work, but they do not get any benefit of realizing the Way, not to mention the sins of disrespect is enormous and the time for suffering will be not just for eons. Although the intention is virtuous, the effect is disastrous. Even though it may be the cause of liberation in the future, it is inevitable that they will experience many eons of sufferings… We sincerely hope that people will behave in accordance with the Buddha’s teaching and gain benefit without any harm.
There are also those who spread the wrong idea that worn-out sutras could be purged by burning them, this commits great sin for misleading people. The Exegesis of Precepts in Nanshan Precepts says, “Some ignorant people destroy worn-out sutras in fire, saying ‘I am purifying it by fire and will gain merit by doing so’. This is false thought.” Some ignorant people who do not possess knowledge believe that they can burn worn-out sutras and purify them by fire, thinking it will bring those merits. “False thought” means that this is an unfounded wrong idea.
“In his past lives the Buddha sacrificed his body for only half a verse. Two words are capable of removing afflictions and also treated as the supreme sutra also, how could they be burned? Blessings will be lost this way.” According to the scriptures, Shakyamuni Buddha gave up his body to a yaksa for half a verse. In the sutras it is recorded that just the two words of “Resident Monks” can remove afflictions of living beings. Only half a verse or two words of sutras can have so much power, what about a volume of worn-out Buddhist sutra? How can it be burned? This fault will result in the “loss” of a lot of merits.
Master Lingzhi, a famous precept-bearer, said in his Zichiji (an exegesis on Nanshan Precepts) that someone had said that “if you want to burn used sutras, put them in a clean place and say the verse ‘all forms or phenomena appear due to certain causes and conditions’, then you can burn them. This is false information. On which scriptural source is it based? It will mislead the later generations into serious misdeeds.”
In the past, someone said that if you put the old sutras in a clean place and say the verse “all forms or phenomena appear due to certain causes and conditions” and then burn them, it is acceptable. But Master Lingzhi said that this is false information. Which sutra is it based on and which document does it come from? It is baseless. It will let later generations confused, making them commit “heavy misdeeds” or serious sins. All of these are felonious acts that can’t be done. But we have heard this before and are hearing now that people saying “if sutras and images of the Buddha are really worn-out and cannot be repaired, you may burn them or throw them into the sea” and so on. This is unacceptable. We cannot burn even half a verse or two characters, let alone a volume of worn-out or used sutra, not to mention the sutras being still in good condition.
Master Lignzhi said that “with really broken images of the Buddha and moth-eaten sutras, you may store them in a clean place”. In other words, if you have images of the Buddha that are really broken or sutras that are damaged by insects, since you can neither burn them nor read them, and if you put the broken statue on the altar and is seen by someone, people may not get a good impression, what do you think I should do? “You may store them in a clean place”, to find a clean place and store them. But you can’t burn or destroy them.
As for the Sangha, there is a public case from the scriptures illustrating the disastrous effects of disrespecting the Sangha. There is a bad custom somewhere that people thought it could bring great blessings by dumping rubbish on the monks, so everybody rushed to follow it.
A few years later, gold and silver, food and clothes as well as other living materials suddenly fell from heaven, everyone rejoiced. But unexpectedly a few days later, sand and dust fell from heaven and all the people were buried to death. The gold and silver came down first was the result of their former virtuous karma, but before they had time to enjoy, their evil karma of disrespecting the Sangha had quickly ripened. Not only did they suffer in this life, but they will get greater sufferings endlessly after death in next lives. Monks represent the Sangha Jewel, the propagation of Buddha’s teaching mainly depends on them, so the sin of such disrespecting is very heavy indeed.
Disrespecting the Three Jewels not only brings too many disastrous effects personally, but also has a great impact on the continuing existence of the excellent teaching and the propagation of Buddhism. The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment says, “As much as we respect the Three Jewels, so will living beings respect us.” Considerable attention must to be paid to those who wish uphold and propagate the Buddha’s teaching, If we -the disciples of the Buddha don’t show respects to the Three Jewels, who else would? It is much less likely to expect businessmen who don’t believe in the Three Jewels to show respects. If one person or two, or further, one or two more groups don’t believe in and respect the Three Jewels, Buddhism will decline further.
As we still lament the arrival of the Dharma Ending Age, have we thought of any relationships among the results as follows and disrespectful behaviors towards the Three Jewels: most of the people we encounter don’t believe the Three Jewels, it’s hard to find bright-eyed teachers, and we have few good friends with correct insight. In the meanwhile, those who left home are often misunderstood and discriminated against by the public, and the monasteries are considered as the home of parasites, persons who have no food for dinner, and the jilted lovers. Have we ever thought that this is the karmic retribution for the lack of profound veneration initiated from our deep inside to the Three Jewels and for the evil deeds of disrespect towards the Three Jewels committed in the past?
Originally, the sutras, images of the Buddha, and the stupas and temples are representatives and dependence of the Three Jewels. They should be treated as the objects of reverence and worship to all living beings. But due to people's ignorance and arrogance, the above mentioned disrespectful behaviors toward the Three Jewels are found everywhere. Suppose if the pictures of our fathers or ancestors are thrown into the garbage dump or burned by others, how would we feel about it?
Yet the images of the Three Jewels, namely, the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha symbolizing liberation and perfect virtues are often discarded and trodden. As the disciples of the Buddha, how can we tolerate this and turn a blind eye to it? The Three Jewels are the only holy field of merit for the liberation of living beings, but in this Dharma Ending Age, living beings are committing so many non-virtuous karmas. If a lot of people accumulate the karma of disrespecting the Three Jewels together, the subsequent suffering of the living beings will be very great. This indeed leads the cause of the rapidly diminishing collective blessings of the world, and it also plants the seeds of falling into the three miserable realms as well as that of effects such as having no chance to meet the excellent teaching, what a pity!
Therefore, under the current conditions, the matter of respecting or disrespecting the sutras and images of the Buddha not only is related to the disciples’ personal practices, but also becomes a general issue concerning increase or decrease of the merits of the common karma of all living beings. When a lot of Buddhists also get entangled in debates over the so-called “2012 Disaster", we should calm down and think about the causes of enhancing good blessings or disaster falling. If we continue throwing away and trampling sutras and images of the Buddha at will, where will our blessings come from? How could the disasters not increase?
Bodhisattva Maitreya’s follower Vasubhandu said in The Treasury of Knowledge, “if there is no shame, there will be no respect and no fear in committing sins. Love and respect come from faith and shame which only exist in realms of desire and form.” The source of respect is the sense of shame; on the contrary, disrespect comes from shamelessness. “Shamelessness means before those of virtue, showing no respect or awe, acting without restraint or inhibition, and not behaving according to the etiquette of a disciple.” No shames and no scruples are non-virtuous mental functions; they exist in all non-virtuous mental activities. They show no respect, no fear, and dare to commit any sins toward the objects of virtue (such as the Three Jewels); it therefore opens the door to all evil karma which makes them suffer the extremely heavy evil karma and miserable retribution.
Reasons for Disrespecting the Three Jewels
The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment says that the Three Jewels are the unsurpassed field of good qualities, the unrivalled benefactor of all living beings, and the foundation of all mundane and supramundane perfect. The reason we don’t respect the Three Jewels is that we don’t know its merits, value, and the kindness to us.
It also shows that we still quite lack faith in the Three Jewels and don’t have a sense of thinking that they are precious. Our attitude and action toward something is determined by the degree of our understanding its value in our mind.
For example, when a businessman in the community finally signed a contract after putting much more effort, he will treat it as his precious jewel and will hide it in the safe with careful protection. This is because he fully understands the merit of the contract--- will bring him wealth! That is why he tries his best to protect. Take another example, if we found ten-thousand dollars on the ground, we would pick it up, and if we found a million or ten-million dollars on the ground, we would never mind that we are too tired to pick it up, just because we know the value of the money. While the value of the Three Jewels surpasses that of the Mani-jewel, it can lead all the living beings into the city of nirvana and give them the eternal happiness, but their symbols are now frequently trampled underfoot recklessly. Are our faith in the Three Jewels and the understanding of their merits even less than those of a businessman to his contract?
Others may say that if they pick up too many of these images discarded, there is no room for them. But we all put a pile of our own photo album at home because we feel that the pictures of the photograph are on behalf of ourselves and would feel distressed when they are thrown aside, scribbled, or damaged, all because we feel that they are valuable. The reason why we remain indifferent seeing the images of the Buddha and words from the sutras thrown into the garbage dump is that we don’t recognize their value.
Perhaps some people will think that statues and sutras are just made of copper, wood, or paper which should not be seen as the real Buddha or Dharma, or, as the saying goes, if you “bear the Buddha in your heart,” there is not really need to be attached to the external appearance. These people don’t fulfill the duties of Buddha’s disciples both in knowing and doing, and it is much worse that they have found too many incorrect excuses for their behaviors. They are really ignorant and pitiful! Concerning this matter, Master Yinguang once warned: “Most of the ancients could attain the path through practice, but the contemporaries seldom uncover enlightenment. It is not the latter have inferior qualities; rather it is due to the differences of the degree of their veneration and arrogance. Living beings are submerged in the boundless sea of suffering, they must rely on the Buddha’s boat of compassion to save them and help them achieve liberation eventually. Buddhism that can teach and guide people in this world totally relies on the firm hold of sutras and images of the Buddha, and then the lamp is standing indefinitely and passes on.”
What Benefits Could Get When Respecting the Three Jewels and Why Should Respect
What benefits we could get when showing respect to the Three Jewels? Relying on the sutras and images of the Buddha as the dependence of Buddhism, we can remember the Buddha and the excellent teaching, increase our merits and wisdom, gain peace and happiness in the present and future lives, and attain Buddhahood perfectly. The details of the benefits are as follows:
The merits and benefits of respecting the Three Jewels are countless and endless which is well-recorded in Tripitaka, it brings the blessings of rebirth in human or heavenly realms in the near future and the sagely fruit of the Three Vehicles eventually, and all of the above efficacy are based on the reverence. For instance, when you started to collect the discarded paper bearing the words and images of the Three Jewels, at this moment you can immediately remove the sins of disrespecting for the living beings. Originally we have seen the images of the Buddha and words from the sutras thrown everywhere, and now we start to show respect and make them the objects for public worship. The above-mentioned virtuous act can purify the evil karma of disrespecting the Three Jewels committed in the past.
The Candragarbha says, “The God of Merchants’ Leader asked: In Buddha’s Living time, when the world-honored one received offerings, those who made the offerings benefited. After the Buddha enters nirvana, we make offerings to images of the Buddha, but who will be receiving them? The Buddha said, ‘The truth body of all the Buddhas and Tathagatas will. The merits of making offerings to the Buddha are no different, whether the Buddha is alive or has entered nirvana.’” The Sujata Sutra also says, “The Buddha said that the Tathagata is the repository of all wisdom. Therefore a wise man should sincerely and diligently make offerings to Him. When he makes offerings to the Buddha’s live body or deceased body, or when he makes offerings to images of the Buddha, to stupas and temples, he should not take it lightly. The same with things related to the Three Jewels.”
The Diamond Sutra also says, “Wherever this Sutra is found, there is a Buddha.” It also says: “All Buddhas and their teachings come from this sutra. The gods, humans, and asuras of the world should make offerings wherever this Sutra is found. Know that this place is a Stupa. All beings should pay respect, worship, circumambulate and decorate it with incense and flowers. ”
According to The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, once the Venerable Elder Atisha came to a place, a mantra practitioner did not have faith in him and refused to listen to him teach. One day the Elder witnessed a scribe monk sticking a page of teaching with plaque from his teeth. Unable to bear this, the Elder said to himself, "What a poor guy." and stopped him: "You cannot disrespect the dharma jewel like this." The mantra practitioner was standing by and heard all of this; therefore he gained great faith in the Elder and received teaching from him with respect. This shows that if we respect the Three Jewels, it can convince the unbelievers to believe in, and others will also respect us.
Master Daoxuan the preceptor said in The Exegesis of Precepts: “The teaching must be presented through sutras or images of the Buddha printed on or made of materials such as paper, silk or cloth, bamboo, and wood. Such materials, as well as boxes, envelopes, cloth-wrapper, or containers once used in storing sutras or images of the Buddha, should be considered as forever given away and should not be used for other purposes again. Be sure to revere these as the sagely teaching. Attainment of the truth of nirvana depends on such things. Damaging or benefiting them will lead to sin or merit on the way to nirvana. Master Xingzong further explained: “The importance of the objects listed above is as follows: paper, silk, envelopes and containers are worldly objects, but they become priceless because they carry or carried the Buddha’s teaching.”
In the Buddha’s time, there was an Arhat who had repaired with mud a statue of one Buddha’s mount -the elephant in his past lives, gained the retribution of being accompanied by a golden elephant in his later lives. Now we are not only just repairing Buddha's mount, but Buddha’s body. In terms of fruitional effect, if you are seeking only the joys of cyclic existence for the welfare as a human or deity, the retribution would be beyond description, while you develops the spirit of renunciation or enlightenment, the effect will be countless. When we collect and carefully preserve the statues of Buddha made improperly, we will have merits personally seeing transformations of the Buddha or encountering the statues of the Buddha made totally according to the teachings with the capability of bestowing great blessings. Mending the sutras is the cause for opening up our wisdom; those performing this deed will be rewarded with the opportunity of meeting the perfect teaching or hearing it from good teachers. It is stated in The Levels of Yogic Deeds that all of these are very important and indispensable favorable conditions for those who are practicing the path.
Master Yinguang said, “If you want to gain real benefit from Buddhism, you should seek it with reverence. Ten percent of reverence will eliminate ten percent of sins and bring about ten percent of merits and wisdom. One hundred percent of reverence will eliminate one hundred percent of sins and bring about one hundred percent of merits and wisdom. Without reverence, we create only distant conditions but will not gain real benefit. There are many ways to enter the path depending on one’s own intent and interest. If there is one way that is certain, for the definite, it is sincerity and it is reverence. Even in the infinite worlds of the Buddhas of the future, this will not change.” As the proverb goes, deep sincerity can make the mountains open. Those who are capable of showing reverence are the truly wise. So reverence has great effect and great benefit.
So just as Master Yinguang said, if one can put aside his arrogant opinions and go into reflection in the stillness of night, his mind will be palpitated with fear, and the torrential tears comes up. He will be sad for his past ignorance and swear to live piously for the rest of his life. From now on, he will live solemnly and respectfully and be pure both in body and speech. He will forever abandon vulgar and mean manners and follow the sagely ways set down in the Holy Scriptures. If we can really do so, we will be able to enter the ocean of Buddha’s teaching, do our share with the force and gain real benefits.
As for the words from the sutras, if we show respect to sutras or scraps of paper bearing words from Buddhist scriptures and repair worn-out sutras and so on, we will be able to purify past sins and obstructions of slandering the dharma, burning or stepping over the scriptures and so on. Nowadays many people studying Buddhism feel that they cannot retain the words when they study, understand the meaning when they reflect or gain knowledge when they meditate, they should rely on the power of the field of merit. This is a personal instruction.
Some people are very skillful and smart at doing worldly things. But due to habits formed repeatedly since beginningless time, once they begin to study Buddhism, they cannot learn, are slow in reaction, or cannot remember. This is surely because they committed very heavy evil karma against the Three Jewels in their past lives. How should they confess such sins? By showing respect to the Three Jewels.
Specifically, during preparation, when you intend to pick up discarded images of the Buddha, you will correct the fault of not wanting to respect the Three Jewels. In the past, when we did disrespectful things toward the Three Jewels, our behaviors were guided by ideas in our mind; now when we begin to show respect to the Three Jewels and take action, the good thoughts in our mind will correct the bad ones of the past. In other words, we have repented the bad thoughts. During practice, when you are cleaning, repairing and decorating contaminated images of the Buddha, the repeated movements of your body will correct the behavioral disrespect committed against the Three Jewels since the beginningless time. After practice, when you have finished doing such things, you should rejoice in your work and be happy because you have not only accumulated great collections and cleared away a lot of obscurations, but have also remedied the evil thoughts you had held in the past when you finished doing some evil deed and relished your success. By doing so we can gradually clear away our bad karma, increase our good karma, open up our wisdom, increase our merits, increase good results，be able to remember words and sentences of the teaching we have heard, understand the meaning of the teaching when we reflect and realize the teaching when we meditate, so we should all try our best to do this.
How to Show Respect to the Three Jewels?
With regard to the Three Jewels, our inner respect for the Three Jewels generates through reliance on observing the good qualities and kindness of the Three Jewels; meanwhile, our physical and verbal behavior with respectful preparation should be mainly based on the scriptures and instructions of great masters.
The Buddha Speaks the Precepts of Upasaka Sutra says: You should not make images of only half of the Buddha’s body. If the image of the Buddha’s body is incomplete, store it away and then have it completed. Display it after it is completed. When you see a damaged image of the Buddha, you should make offerings and show respect to it with the uttermost sincerity and respect, as if it were in perfect condition.
The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment says, “There are three prescriptive precepts. The first is to treat images of the Buddha as objects of reverence-as though they were the Teacher himself-not pointing out their faults regardless of their quality, and not disrespecting them or treating them with contempt by putting them in dishonorable places, pawning them, etc.” Regarding the sutras, Great Master Tsong-kha-pa said, “Never to show disrespect for writings on the teachings, even those composed of as little as four words. Further, you should not pawn volumes of scriptures, treat them as merchandise, place them on the bare ground or in dishonorable places, carry them together with shoes, walk over them, etc. Treat them with respect, as though they were the teaching jewel itself.” Regarding members of the community, he said, “Never to revile or despise members of the community, renunciates, or those who merely possess the symbols of a practitioner of virtue [someone who is dressed as a monk or nun but has no vow]. Nor should you do this to the mere symbols [part of the robes] of these practitioners. Never in any way divide yourself and others into opposing factions and view the others as enemies. Always treat members of the community with respect, as though they were the community jewel itself.”
The Venerable Elder Pu-chung-wa said, “My view of the images of the Buddha is that it is the taproot of my unexcelled refuge.” It is very important to treat the images of the Buddha as the Venerable Elder did.
According to The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment, It is said that the great yogi [Chang-chup-rin-chen] once gave a statue of Manjughosa to the Elder for him to examine. He asked, "How good is this? If it is good, I will buy it with the four gold coins Rong-ba-gar-gay-wa (Rong-pa-mgar-dge-ba) gave me." The Elder replied, "Venerable Manjughosa's body has no defects-the sculptor is middling," and placed it on his head and prayed for blessings. It is said that he did the same with respect to all finished images. The great Indian Master Bodhisattva Nagarjuna, who was bestowed by the Buddha for the prediction of the attainment of Buddhahood in the future, says in The Friendly Letter, “Just as the learned worship an image of the Sugata, Whatever it is made of, even wood...”
Regarding the physical activities of reading the scriptures, Master Yinguang said: “Wash your hands and clean the desk, have reverence and sincerity in your heart as if you are meeting the Buddha and god and are in front of your teacher. This way you will gain unlimited benefit to yourself. Whenever you read the scriptures, you should first wash your hands and gargle, clean the desk, sit upright, join your palms together, then open the text with your thumb and index finger. You should carefully protect the text from dirt, grime, or damage. There are four benefits: firstly, the lifetime of the scriptures could be maintained; secondly, it keeps the scriptures complete; thirdly, it generates merits and wisdom; last but not the least, it keeps away from all kinds of faults.”
All disciples of the Buddha should practice according to the Buddha’s teaching and to implement together the virtuous deeds of respecting the Three Jewels. By this way we can turn the Dharma Ending Age into the Proper Dharma Age.
Bhikkhu Zhimin, Duobao Lecture Monastery
Lunar March 23, 2012
Specific Instructions on Showing Respect to the Three Jewels
What Can We Do?
1. When you are visiting tourist sites, collect admission tickets printed with images of the Buddha, pagodas, temples and words from the scriptures, do not throw them away. For those who are capable, please pick up admission tickets thrown to the ground by other tourists. For those who are more capable, please pick up tickets discarded into the garbage dump. For those who are much more capable, please communicate with the gate-keepers for taking used tickets, and for those who are still with greater capability, please find the relevant department and tell them that printing such tickets will make many people easily commit non-virtuous karma in demeanors and persuade them not do print any more.
2. When you go to the temple to burn incense and bow to the Buddha, please pick up and preserve discarded trademarks printed with images of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva and so on, persuade others to show respect to the Three Jewels, and explain detailed as above.
3. Explain the situation to the related managerial staff at the temple and persuade them to treat the discarded images of the Three Jewels properly or ask them to hand the discarded images over to you. Try to stop people from littering and burning images of the Three Jewels and tell them the reason.
4. Call or send messages to manufacturers who use images of the Three Jewels on their product packing and try to stop them. For example, the image of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is emblazoned on the packing boxes of “Guan Yin Cookie”; the picture of Maitreya Buddha is printed on the boxes of moon cakes; trademarks of monk garment factories, especially those of incense manufacturers, advertisements of manufacturers of Buddhist statues, etc. are the same issue.
5. Others such as worn-out sutras and sutras and images of the Buddha belonging to believers passed away should be handled properly, like giving them to those who need them. Certificate of refuge and so on should not be incinerated with the body of the deceased.
6. Persuade others to do the things listed above.
7. When you see others doing the above things, rejoice in their deeds, praise them, and use the internet to promote and encourage such good deeds.
8. Vow to respectfully clean a certain number of images of the Buddha or collect and offer a certain number of images of the Buddha.
What to Do after Collection?
1. Classification of the images of the Buddha:
Category A: To those suitable for recirculation or distribution should meet the following requirements: The workmanship should be properly made, complete and undamaged, not disrupted by other irrelevant designs or images; pictures including some ordinary people backside should not be circulated. Images of the Buddha should be bathed, repaired or framed up and decorated before distribution.
Category B: Those to be preserved in mountain caves: excluding the images of category A. For example, those that are broken and cannot be repaired and those improperly made. Wrap them up with cloth and write down the number of images included, then dispose them in three ways: (1) store them in a box by yourself; (2) put them in an empty mountain cave or in an empty place in the attic of your house; (3) send them to a temple.
(1) Going for refuge: recite the homage verse.
(2) Cutting: Leave as much margins as possible around the image of the Buddha and cut them into shapes of squares or rectangles. This applies to paper advertisements, wall calendars, admission tickets etc. in which pictures of the Buddha are printed together with those of the product. For independent pictures of the Buddha, you should not cut the edges.
(3) Ablution: Chant three verses of ablution first, then wipe the images at the beginning with wet cloth and then with dry cloth, make it clean. At this time, imagine you are clearing the karma and delusional hindrances of yourself and all living beings.
Verse of offering ablution to the Buddha:
诸佛相续本清净 纤毫尘垢而亦无 为超生死涅槃故
The purity of the Buddha’s mind stream is fundamentally pure,
It is without even the tiniest speck of dust or dirt.
In order to surpass life and death and achieve nirvana,
奉请如来澡浴身 如彼大觉降生时 诸天供养天净水
We offer the ablution to the Buddha.
Just as all the celestial beings offered clean heavenly water
At the time of the Buddha’s birth
So now we offer clean heavenly dew
To bath the Buddha’s body
The Buddha’s body, speech, and mind are free from afflictions,
In order to purify the karmic hindrance of body, speech, and mind of sentient beings
We ask the Buddha to purify the three kinds of karmic hindrances of sentient beings
With the bathing water of His body, speech, and mind.
嗡 萨瓦达塔嘎达 阿必肯嘎得 萨嘛耶喜耶阿吽
Ohng sa wa da da ga da a bhi ken ga dei sa ma yeah xi yeah ah hong
Note: This practice especially can remedy the interference of nonhumans and remove all kinds of evil karma committed by oneself; it can clear away various kinds of obstacles in practicing the path and generate sufficient favorable conditions in this life.
(4) Category A: Repairing, framing and decorating for circulation.
Category B: Images of the Buddha with the same type or same specification should be cut in the same size, wiped clean, put together, and then carefully wrapped up with yellow cloth and tied up. Or you can divide them into batches and put them in small boxes with the number stickers on each box, then put all these boxes together in a big outer case taking one image as a sample sticking on the box. Write down the total number of images as well as the words “For storage in mountain cave.” on the outside of the big outer case. As for packing boxes printed with images of the Buddha, you can wipe them clean, put other images of the Buddha in them, and then wrap them up with yellow cloth.
Images of the Buddha on admission tickets, business cards etc. should be classified into Category A and B and should be dealt with as stated above.
Images of the Buddha and those of temples should be kept separately.
Dedication of Merits
A. All good roots from worshipping, praising, and making offerings to Buddhas,
From requesting that Buddhas dwell in the world to turn the Dharma Wheel,
From compliantly rejoicing, from repenting and reforming,
I transfer to living beings’ attaining the Buddha’s way.
I vow to eradicate the three obstructions and all afflictions,
I vow to obtain wisdom and obtain true understanding,
I make a universal vow that the obstacles of my offenses will be totally eliminated,
And that in life after life we shall constantly practice the path of the Bodhisattvas.
I vow that when my life approaches its end,
All obstructions will be swept away;
I will see Aimitabha Buddha,
And be born in his land of Ultimate Bliss and Peace.
I vow always to meet Thus Come Ones face to face
And the hosts of disciples who gather around them.
I will raise offerings which are vast and great,
Untiring to the end of future eons.
I will hold high the subtly wondrous Buddhadharma
And illuminate all the practices of Bodhi;
I will be ultimately pure in Samantabhadra's way,
Practicing until the end of time.
Ending the sufferings of the paths of evil,
And to everyone equally bringing joy,
May I for eons like the motes of dust in all lands
Ever benefit all in the ten directions.
May the sins of destroying Buddhist pagodas and temples, of destroying images of the Buddha and the sutras committed by myself and all father and mother-like sentient beings be eradicated and purified, including the sins committed by those who burned and damaged the sutras and images of the Buddha in history. May I and others accumulate the good qualities that will lead to the realization of Buddha's physical body and truth body, etc.
B. You may add other eulogy expressing your own wishes.
Translators’ Note: Translations of quotations from scriptural sources are mostly borrowed from existing sources unless they cannot be accessed. We used mainly the following sources for reference.
1. The Great Treatise on the Stages of the Path to Enlightenment
2. Sagely City of 10,000 Buddhas Daily Recitation handbook
3. Buddhist Dictionary Online.