Thursday, January 21, 2010

Simple ways for the Buddhist Youths to increase their blessings

After the death of the Chung Ling High School boys and teacher, it occurs to me that todays’ youth are smart, intelligent and good in extra-co-curricular activities. However, they are short of spiritual blessings and affinities. Here I attempt to list several simple ways that a school student can do to increase his/her blessings. You can be sure that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are very keen on young people who are interested in the dharma. If you are sincere in seeking the dharma, you can be sure the dharma will protect you. The thing is, if you want to avert a tragedy, you must plant good causes and conditions, and do lots and lots of offerings and purification practices. Those heavy dark karma from our past lives are more difficult to purify/avert but we must start with simple practices first. As you practice more and learn more about Buddhism, you will probably learn more techniques to purify even those dark heavy ones. The key ingredient is always SINCERITY.

1. Make daily (or at least weekly) offerings to the Buddha or Kuan Yin (being the 2 most popular Buddhist deity among Chinese Buddhists). You can offer fruits or joss-sticks or flowers. If possible, use your own savings from your pocket money to buy those offerings.

2. When using joss-sticks, treat each stick as an offering; not as an instrument of prayer/instrument for making requests.

3. Recite the Buddhist sutras. When I was in secondary school, I recited a lot of the Mangala Sutta and Ratana Sutta and Jayamangala Gatta. These are simple suttas of the Theravadin tradition that anyone can obtain from temples such as Mahindarama temple. Or, if you are in the Chinese Mahayana tradition, you can learn how to recite the Heart Sutra or Chapter 25 of the Lotus Sutra – the Gateway to Everywehere. These are the Mahayana Sutras I recite a lot too. Or, you can learn by heart how to recite the Great Compassion Dharani (called Ta Pei Chou in mandarin) as taught by Ven. Master Hsuan Hua. Or, even simpler to recite is Na Mo O Mi Tuo Fwo and Na Mo Kuan Shih Yin Pu Sa. Recite these many many times.

4. Recite mantras if you are more keen on the Vajrayana tradition. Simple mantras such as Om Mani Padme Hum (the mantra of Kuan Yin) will do wonders to increase one’s blessings. Do not underestimate its potential. Another simple mantra is Om Tare Tutare Ture Svaha, the mantra of Goddess Tara. Even when in school, I had the initiative to give myself to certain number of accumulations of the mantra to achieve. So, I recited it everyday to achieve my target. Nobody had to tell me what to do.

5. Just before sleeping, everyday I will go to my bedroom and recite the Namo Tassa Bhagavato… and the Three Refuge (Buddham Saranam Gacchami…) and the five precepts. I also recite the Praises to the Triple Gem (Iti pi so bhagava…). Again I gave myself some sort of Buddhist daily prayers to do. These are Buddhist daily prayers any student can do, and can obtain these prayers in most Theravadin temples. If anyone has a problem getting it, drop me a comment.

6. Go to a wise Buddhist Master and request him to give you the refuge vows and a Buddhist name. The power of taking refuge for youths is often under-estimated. Venerable Boon Kean of Ang Hock See temple in Perak Road is a monk you can trust in giving these three refuges to you.

These are just 6 simple ways to increase one’s blessings for children (actually applicable for adults too). Start with these and slowly you can do more, like maybe prostrations and recite longer sutras. While doing these does not guarantee a long life or tragedy free, at the very least, if something unexpected happens to you, you will die taking with you loads of positive karmic merits...and of course, the invaluable affinity with Buddha and his teachings in your next life. What Buddhists want to avoid is not death itself, but to avoid being reborn in the lower realms, i.e. as a ghost, as an animal or as a hell-being. Remember to seek guidance from the Buddha at all times. Silently talk to him in your heart if you need to, Think of him all the time.

I hope what I wrote above is useful to Buddhist youths and if you have any questions or comments, please feel free to write.