Q&A About an All-embracing Ceremony
|Q&A About an All-embracing Ceremony
【TBS News】On June 30, a Luotian Ritual [Luo Tian Da Jiao in Chinese] will be held in Oakland, CA. This will be the first ceremony of this kind ever held by True Buddha School. It is expected that disciples will have questions about the meaning and significance of an all-embracing [wuzhe in Chinese] ceremony. Following are answers to some frequently asked questions about this ceremony.
What is an all-embracing ceremony?
''All-embracing ceremony,'' panca-varsika-maha in Sanskrit, means a ceremony that is all-inclusive and without discrimination. In other words, an all-embracing ceremony is one that provides material and dharma offerings equally to everyone, regardless of whether one is a sage, a cultivator, a secular person, of noble standing, of low standing, superior, or inferior. An all-embracing ceremony is also known as a Grand Feast Ceremony or a Grand Giving Ceremony. It is a ceremony which provides a vast food offering to the monastic community, buddhas, bodhisattvas, humans, heavens, gods, and ghosts.
To perform the Luotian Ritual, HH Living Buddha Lian-sheng teaches that one first invokes and makes offerings to all tathagatas, bodhisattvas, dharma protectors of the ten directions, and ghost kings and officials of the hell realm. One then invokes and makes offerings to all the tathagatas in Yoga Flaming Mouth, and all ghost kings in the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Sutra including Charred-faced Ghost King. They are invited to descend for the purpose of delivering beings in the adjacent hells, spirits, ghosts, demons, and even XX's Five Ghost Ringleaders. This demonstrates equal salvation, the true significance of an all-embracing ceremony.
Vijaya Temple, the organizer, will sponsor the cost of food and lodging, transport, and a one-day tour for True Buddha School (TBS) monastics participating in the Luotian Ritual in support of Living Buddha Lian-sheng. [Note:Vijaya Temple has indicated that the sponsored sangha complement has been filled and no further sponsored accommodation of TBS sangha members can be made. Sangha members are, of course, still welcome to attend the event.] The temple will dedicate the merit of offering to the sangha to Living Buddha Lian-sheng and Shimu for their good health, longevity, and auspiciousness. The offerings to buddhas, bodhisattvas, heavens, and spirits will be donated to community food banks afterwards to help those who are destitute and impoverished.
The above mentioned activities are in accordance with an all-embracing ceremony's unique quality and merit of vast and equanimous offering of wonderful food and establishment of good karma between sentient beings and the ten dharma realms.
What does Grandmaster mean when he states ''an all-embracing ceremony does not have boundary protection.'' Does this mean that disciples and those in attendance are more susceptible to offend and be disturbed by spirits?
When Grandmaster states ''the ceremony does not have boundary protection,'' he does not mean that there will be no boundary protection whatsoever.
In conventional ceremonies, the first step is to enshrine authority tablets. During the ceremony, spirits may enter the shrine per a decree based on their name in the registration form which has been pre-registered by their descendants. Authorized spirits are allowed a place in a bowl of rice which has an authority tablet inserted in the rice. These spirits can also partake offerings in the rice bowl and on the shrine table itself. They can later receive deliverance as well. Spirits who are not registered for the ceremony are not provided decrees and hence have no opportunity to enter the protected altar area.
In an all-embracing ceremony, on the other hand, spirits do not need a decree to participate in the ceremony and there is no discrimination as to whether the spirits are registered or not. In other words, spirits do not need to be registered to enter the ceremony, partake in the feast offerings and receive deliverance. Therefore, the meaning of ''no boundary protection'' is that spirits in attendance do not need to be registered in order to participate in the ceremony.
Although spirits may freely participate in an all-embracing ceremony without an edict, they must still abide by the jurisdiction and authority of dharma protectors and mighty ghost kings.They are not permitted to cause trouble or mischief. An all-embracing ceremony is therefore still guarded and purified by dharma protectors. To put it simply, it is analogous to attending a concert with free admission. Although one need not purchase a ticket to enter the concert venue, there are still security personnel to maintain order.
Why does HH Living Buddha Lian-sheng require monks and nuns who are participating in the Luotian Ritual to recite the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Sutra, Heart Sutra and High King Avalokitesvara Sutra?
There are two reasons why Living Buddha Lian-sheng requires monks and nuns to recite these sutras. First, reciting the sutras increases the sangha's merit. It enhances the sangha's ability to support the ritual and provide deliverance for attending spirits. Second, the merit of reciting the sutras is dedicated to the Luotian Ritual for its success, perfection, and auspiciousness.
Do those attending an all-embracing ceremony also need to recite the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Sutra? Will there be any negative spirit influences on attendees just by not reciting it?
Reciting Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Sutra is not mandatory for those attending the all-embracing ceremony and not reciting the sutra will not in and of itself cause negative spirit influences. Nonetheless, in Book 156 Whispers of the Breeze, Grandmaster wrote: ''One should recite the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Sutra because it was expounded by the Buddha. The sutra clearly states that one who enshrines, worships, and pays homage to a statue or image of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva generates an ocean of merit, one therefore should do so. Reciting the Rebirth Mantra also generates infinite merit. Therefore, it should also be recited. These recitations benefit humans, heavens, ghosts and gods.''
Reciting the Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Sutra in itself generates unsurpassed merit. Dedicating the merit of reciting Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Sutra to the deliverance of deceased ancestors and the success of the Luotian Ritual is also excellent.
What steps do attendees take in connection with the Luotian Ritual?
One registers the living for the ceremony, prays for the eradication of disasters, and supplicates for blessings and increase of good fortune. One may also register the deceased and pray for their deliverance so they may gain rebirth in the pure land. Please note that registration fees are voluntary.
Registration as Main Supplicant:
The Luotian Ritual is the only ceremony in which both living persons and the deceased can be registered as main supplicants. Whether greater dedication of blessing and deliverance will be realized depends on the main supplicant's merit generated from the registrant's aspiration, vows, faith, and ''mind of equanimity.'' The ceremony is an expedient means whereby Grandmaster helps sentient beings who have a special need for deliverance and blessing.
Accumulation of Merit by Offering to the Sangha:
Devotees are welcome to support the the organizing temple's offering-to-the-sangha activity. By making offerings to the sangha, one enables True Buddha School monastics from venues around the world to participate in the ceremony to assist and support activities of dharma dissemination undertaken by Grandmaster. Participation of the sangha makes the ceremony more complete and perfect in its deliverance and salvation of sentient beings. This is the first merit.
Dedicating the merit of offering to the sangha to the good health and longevity of Grandmaster and Shimu is repaying upward the kindness of the guru and all buddhas. This is the second merit.
Further, like the great earth, the sangha nurtures righteous dharma and merit. Offering to the sangha therefore nurtures and enhances the dharma. This is the third merit.
There are so many other merits of offering to the sangha that it's not possible to list them all.
An all-embracing ceremony is a grand ceremony that makes a vast offering of food to the sangha, buddhas, bodhisattvas, humans, heavens, gods, and ghosts. Attendees of the ceremony sponsor various kinds of wonderful food offerings and give with a heart of equanimity to all destined sentient beings of the ten dharma realms. This enables registrants to accumulate the merit of establishing virtuous karma throughout the ten dharma realms.
Oakland Convention Center
550 10th St.
Oakland, CA 94607
Methods of registration for the ceremony, registration as main supplicant, making offerings to the sangha and donation:
One may register in person at Vijaya Temple, by mail, or online.
To register online, please visit: http://www.vijayatemple.org/2018ceremony/
For registration by mail, please mail to:
3440 Foothill Blvd.
Tel：(510) 513-5904 or (510) 532-9888
Please make checks payable to：
True Buddha Vijaya Temple (or TBVT)
Translated by True Buddha Translation Team
Editors: Henry Wolf and DJ Chang