Extensively Conducting Offerings

Yutang Lin

All contrivances, in correspondence with Bodhicitta, only then constitute Dharma practices. Bodhicitta is immeasurable, and universally and equally applies to all sentient beings. Therefore, to practice offering, one should first of all regard it as one case among boundless and universally equal offerings to all beings. The goal of making offerings is to help all beings to attain full enlightenment sooner and smoother; hence, it could be conducted only when it is in accord with this goal, and at least, it should be accompanied by such an aspiration in mind. Within the reach of one's means and resources, offer the best to Bodhi activities, and these include offerings to the Triple Gem, propagation of Dharma, etc. When one's intention is limited by one's means and resources, then it may be supplemented by well-wishing, approval and visualization.

Making offerings is not confined to fulfilling material needs; it also includes providing Dharma guidance, offering spiritual support and relief, and deliverance from dangers or hardships. Extensively conducting offerings should be practiced constantly as occasions arise and in proportion to one's means and resources. Constantly sustaining a Buddha's name or mantra in mind so that all who come into contact with one would have a Dharma connection; this is also one way to extensively conduct offering. Whenever one is about to enjoy something nice, first think of offering it to Buddhas, and then enjoy it; thus one's mind will be trained to abide more and more in Dharma and in Bodhi.

Chod, the Tantric practice of offering one's body, identifies the body with the whole Dharmadhatu, and then in visualization offers it completely, piece by piece, to all beings in needs. Thus, simultaneously released one's grasping and accumulated merits and wisdom, and in addition, it is a practice that all with Bodhicitta can practice, so it is indeed a wondrous practice for extensively conducting offerings.

Within one's means and resources, to practice offering one need to carry it out through deeds for it to count as real practice. Within one's abilities and capabilities, as Dharma activities arise one need to take part to help their completion, only then can it be counted as genuine practice of offering. If it is beyond one's means and abilities, then one may still practice offering of one's mental efforts in well-wishing and prayers to Buddhas for blessings.

Conducting offerings is the easiest way to reduce grasping; to extensively conduct offerings one should face situations as they arise without making distinctions, and in response to the circumstances and beings in front, exhibit great Bodhi aspiration through all kinds of skillful offering of suitable ways and means. Thus, while conducting offerings one is indeed practicing Bodhi and the harmonious unification of all in oneness!

Written in Chinese and translated on April 15, 2009
El Cerrito, California

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