Luotian Ritual (Ghost Detaining Practice)
|Translated by True Buddha Translation Team
Translator: Phyllis Feng
Editors: Henry Wolf and DJ Chang
During a dinner, everyone gathered around the table. Someone heard that I know the Luotian Ritual and wanted to know more about it.
Someone asked, ''To prohibit ghosts entering houses and bedrooms, we invite Mahabala and perform Ghost Prohibiting Practice. However, how can we subdue a large group of ghosts? We have heard Grand Master Lu knows the Luotian Ritual [Luotian Dajiao in Chinese]. Is that true?''
I said, ''Yes, that is true. In earlier years, my master did indeed teach me the Luotian Ritual. This ritual is a specific practice for subduing a large group of ghosts. This ritual should not, however, be practiced unless there is a critical need for it, that is, when ghosts are disturbing the public.''
''How is it practiced?''
''First of all, to summon ghosts with the seven stars of Ksitigarbha, set up five spirit-summoning banners in the five directions of central, east, south, west and north. Write the words 'summoning XXX ghosts' on the banners. The height of the spirit-summoning banners must be a multiple of seven.
The number of the offering tables must also be in multiples of seven, that is, seven, 14, 21, and so forth.
The presiding master will perform the spirit-summoning and offering rituals. When the ghosts have gathered and are partaking of the offerings, the master performs Four-layered Boundary Protection. The Four-layered Boundary consists of a vajra net on top, a vajra foundation at the bottom, four surrounding vajra walls, and vajra fire all around the vajra walls.
While the ghosts partake of the offerings, the sangha will chant the Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva Sutra one or three times. The ghost kings named in the Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva Sutra are then invoked one by one.
The ghost kings will take the ghosts into custody and turn them over to the netherworld for King Yama to handle.''
(The preceding is an outline of the Luotian Ritual. This ritual is somewhat similar to the Zhongyuan Universal Deliverance Ritual. [Ghost Festival])
Someone asked, ''What are the steps of the Luotian Ritual?''
I answered, ''
''How large is the sangha group required for sutra chanting?''
- First summon spirits.
- Make offerings.
- Recite sutra.
- Establish Four-layered Boundary Protection.
- Invoke ghost kings.
- Ghosts are taken into custody and turned over to hell.''
''108 sangha are required for a large ceremony, 49 for a medium size ceremony, 7 for a small ceremony, and 3 the smallest ceremony. The presiding master must have thorough and complete knowledge of the ritual.''
''How many times do we chant the Kṣitigarbha Bodhisattva Sutra?''
''For as long as it takes to burn 3 sticks of incense.''
''How will we know the ghost kings have arrived?''
''A psychic medium will know. Otherwise, one can tell by moon-blocks divination.''
''What kinds of offerings should be made?''
''Rice, noodles, canned items, food, etc. It doesn't matter whether the offerings are meat or vegetables.''
''Can we eat the offerings after the ritual?''
''Those who cultivate purification should not eat the offerings. Others may.''
''How does the Luotian Ritual differ from the Taoist sacrificial ceremony [jianjiao in Chinese] in Taiwan?''
''The Taoist sacrificial ceremony in Taiwan is intended to pray for peace of ghosts and humans, whereas the Luotian Ritual is performed to detain ghosts. They are different.''
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