Monday, May 31, 2010

Ksitigabha Boddisatva Sutta

Summary of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Vow Sutra Chapter 1:

Ksitigarbha was once born in the world as a son of a rich man, who vowed to deliver and liberate all sentient beings. He was also once born as a brahman girl. Her mother died and went to Avici hell because of her bad deeds. In order to save her, the brahman girl sold her house and bought vast amount of incense and flowers and other offerings to be generously donated to the stupas and temple of the Buddha of that era. She dedicated the merit of her good deeds to her mother and because of that her mother was liberated and ascended to heaven.

Take home lesson: when someone in your family dies, pray to Ksitigarbha bodhisattva, chanting his name, mantra or even better, sutra, donate generously to temples or people who need it and dedicate the merits to the dead person.

Summary of Chapter 2:

Ksitigarbha bodhisattva has the ability to transform into innumerable forms to fulfill his vow. He is able to divide himself into hundreds, thousands and millions of transformational bodies and employed extensive skillful means for the deliverance and liberation of sentient beings. He can also manifest himself, not only in the form of a Buddha, but also in the forms of a man, woman, god, ghost, river, stream, pond, king, minister, official, bhiksu, bhiksuni, upasaka, upasika, etc. He reassured Sakyamuni Buddha again and again that he would save all beings of future generations who have wicked karma.

Take home lesson: It is never too late to change and repent. With his innumerable transformational bodies, Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva will always be there to save you if you sincerely call out his name. Better still, read his sutra!!

Summary of Chapter 3:

In response to Lady Maya, Buddha Sakyamuni's mother's question, Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha described various sins which will make a person fall into Avici hell, amongst them are: fail to fulfull his filial duty toward his parents, shed the blood of a Buddha, ridicule the 3 Jewels, fail to respect the sutras, steal property of Buddhist establishment, slander bhiksu or bhiksunis, commit adultery with monks or nuns or kill or harm others in sacred places, pretend to be a sramana but not one at heart. Avici hell is a unique and one of the most dreadful hells as punishment is meted out day and night, kalpa after kalpa without a moment's interruption or relief.

Summary of Chapter 4:

Ksitigarbha was once born as a king. Together with another friend of his who was also a king, they cultivated the 10 virtues for the benefit of sentient beings. His friend became a buddha, while Ksitigarbha vowed not to become a buddha before he could deliver all sinful suffering beings. Ksitigarbha was at another time, born as a filial daughter called Bright Eyes. When her mother passed away, she sought help from a monk to find out where her mother was. He entered samadhi and found out that her mother was suffering in hell because of her evil deeds when she was alive, namely eating fish roes and turtle eggs. In order to save her mother, the monk advised Bright Eyes to wholeheartedly recite the name of a See Morebuddha and paint his image. Bright Eyes worshipped the buddha, and later dreamt of him, telling her that her mother would be reborn in her house. Truly, her maid gave birth to a baby, and the baby talked to Bright Eyes even before 3 days old. She relayed her experience in hell, and said that because of Bright Eye's cultivation, she was able to be reborn as a human being, albeit in a low, mean class family. However, she would only live for 13 years. On hearing this, Bright Eyes made a vow that if her mother could be freed from the hell-states, she would deliver all sinful, suffering beings in all worlds. On hearing this, the buddha said that after her mother died after reaching 13 years, she would be reborn as a Brahmacari and live for 100 years. After that, she would be reborn in Asoka, and finally achieve Buddhahood. It was said that all beings who take refuge in Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva will be able to be delivered and liberated from retribution on the 3 evil paths of existence (hells, hungry ghosts and animals).

In chapter 4, Ksitigarbha bodhisattva also talked about the retribution of various misdeeds. For instance, those who indulged in perverted lust would be reborn as peacocks, pigeons and mandarin ducks. Those who quarrel or fight in the family, would be dumb or have ulcer sores in the mouths. Those who indulge in hunting would die from fright or See Moremental derangement. Those who disobey parents would meet with calamities. Those who spend money unreasonably would be deficient or have complete extinction of the necessities they seek. And many others....

Take home message: Basically this is a chapter of cause and effect. You reap what you sow. If you realize you have done misdeeds, there's still time to repent and take refuge in Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva. If your loved ones just passed away, it will be good to chant the Ksitigarbha Sutra for him/her to help eradicate his/her bad karmas.

Summary of Chapter 5:

In response to Bodhisattva Samatabhadra's question, Ksitigarbha explained the various names of hells and the situations of the retributions. These hells are created by the people themselves who commit these malefactions in all the worlds. The power of karma is so great as to be compared with Mount Sumeru and as deep as the immense oceans.The power of karma can also block the way of Buddhadharma. Therefore, do not ignore a minor evil and think that it is guiltless. There is retribution after one dies, even as small as a hair or fibre, and this must be taken.

Take home lesson: How much good merit have you accumulated? Have you accumulated more bad karma than good ones? You may end ...

Summary of Chapter 6:

Buddha Sakyamuni praised Ksitigarbha in front of an assembly of all beings, explaining how Ksitigarbha benefits the human and heavenly beings with his blessings and merits. Any good man or woman who worships and prays to Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, including painting, drawing or molding the image of Ksitigarbha, will be exonerated from all his sins and karmic blemishes.

An ugly woman who wholeheartedly pray to Ksitigarbha, will, in her next life, be born as a princess, royal lady or daughter of a high official. A person who sings praises and offers incense and flowers in front of Ksitigarbha's image, will have protection of thousands of demons and deities.

Some people may have chronic terminal illness, can neither live nor die, and always have nightmares dreaming of ghosts or dead families. This is due to karma under judgement. If anyone suffers from this kind of phenomenon, this sutra should be read out loud. In addition, one may take any favorite articles of the sick person, such as jewelries, house, etc, to give to charity. Speak of this 3 times in front of the sick person and make sure he hears you clearly.

If anyone dreams of demons, deities, ghosts or even forms grieving, crying, distressed, or terrified, they must have been relatives from their past lives who have fallen into the evil paths. This person should read this sutra in front of images of buddhas or bodhisattvas 3 or 7 times. Thus, these relatives can be released after reciting this sutra, and they will never again dream of those spirits.

People of lower positions, such as maid or slaves, who recite Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha's name 10,000 times during a 7-day period at end of their present lifetime, will be reborn with fine features in noble families.

Summary of Chapter 7:

All beings who have accumulated bad karmas will fall into the evil paths after they die. To help them reborn into a better life, relatives can hang banners and canopies, burn oil lamps, reading and reciting venerated sutras or names of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas or by displaying images of Buddhas or of other holy ones. It is very important not to kill any living things or sacrifice animals during the few days after someone's death. If the family can do many good deeds for the dead during the first 7 days, the dead can avoid evil and be reborn in heaven or back as a human. Having said that, it will be much better for the deceased to accumulate good merits when he is still alive, as after his death, he will receive only 1/7 of the relative's merits. The remaining merits belong to his relatives. The deceased will be judged after 49 days. After that he will follow his karmic retribution and suffer. That's why the deceased longs for help from his children and relatives during the first 49 days. Relatives should prepare vegetarian meals and should not even eat before offering it to Buddhas and the monks.

Take home lesson: Rather than waiting for your relatives to do good deeds on your behalf and chant Ksitigarbha sutra for you after you die, it's better to chant it yourself and accumulate good merits when you're still alive. After all, you never know whether anyone will do it for you after you die. Besides, you only get 1/7 of it if somebody else ... See Moredoes it for you. For relatives of a deceased person, the first 49 days is of utmost importance. If the person hasn't accumulated any good merits when he was still alive, this is your last chance of saving him, preventing him from falling into the evil realms!!

Summary of Chapter 8:

The assembly at Trayastrimsa Heaven was also attended by Deva Yamaraja and all ghost kings and sons of heavens. Evil Poison Ghost King said that it was demon kings' karmic retribution that made their retinue continuously travel the world creating much evil and little virtue. So, to increase their virtue, whenever they pass a place and see a person who would perform even a slight good act - such as hanging up a banner or a canopy, buring a little incense, or recite even just one sentence or word of the sutras, they will order all powerful ghosts and gods of the lands to protect this person and never let any evil thing, disease or bad luck happen to this person or his household.

After the birth of a baby, care must be exercised not to kill any animal in order to feed the mother with meaty delicacies and not to assemble many relatives to drink liquor or eat meat while singing and playing musical instruments; for such indulgences bring down curses upon the mother and the baby.

Even after a person who has performed many virtuous deeds while alive, dies, there are hundreds of thousands of spirits and gods of the evil paths, who feigning either to be parents or dead relatives, try to lead the dying one towards them to receive him on the evil realms. Someone who is approaching the end of his life, might be in a coma or unconsciousness, and thus not able to differentiate the virtuous from evil. His relative ought to provide major offerings and read and recite the revered sutras and invoke the names of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Such virtuous acts could divert the dead one away from evil paths, and all the maras, demons and gods would then withdraw and be dispersed.

Take home message: When someone is dying, stay by his side and keep on chanting Buddha's or Bodhisattva's names, or any sutras. Better still do it before the person falls into unsconsiousness. Get the person to recite it himself, too. Buy a pre-recorded buddha's name chanting available from Buddhist shops and place it by his bedside. Ask the dying person not to follow anyone except Buddhas; not even his own parents!!

Summary of Chapter 9:

When someone is approaching the end of his life, if any of his relatives, on his behalf, invoke aloud the name of just one Buddha, such a dying person will be exonerated from all karmic retribution for his sins other than the 5 unpardonable offenses ( killing father, killing mother, killing arhat, wounding Buddha, dividing Shangha (monks).

Summary of Chapter 10:

Buddha Sakyamuni explained to Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha the comparative merits which are earned from the virtuous act of giving done by living beings in the worlds. Various good deeds which will earn someone great merits are:

1. Do favors with benevolent hearts for the poor, blind, deaf, mute or crippled, asking others to help, or comfort the suffering with tender words. As a result, he will own 7 treasures completely, not to mention food and clothing.

2. Offer sacrifices or make contributions to Buddha's temple or to the image of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Sravakas, or ... See MorePratyekas. As a result, he can always be Great Brahma Heaven King for ten aeons.

3. Rebuild or repair any ruined or broken temples or images, repair a torn sutra, or encourage others to do so. As a result, he will be a Wheel Turning King for hundreds or thousands of generations.

4. Give medicine, food or bedding to old people, sick people or pregnant women and make them peaceful and happy. As a result, he will be a king of Pure Dwelling Heaven for 100 aeons, he will be a king of Six Desire Heaven for 200 aeons, an he will surely become a Buddha.

5. Dedicate the merits of his charitable deeds for the benefit of the entire sentient beings in these worlds. As a result, he will finally become a Buddha.

6. Plant even the smallest good root of Buddhadharma. As a result, the bliss gained will be indescribable and beyond compare.

7. Make donations and offerings on seeing Buddha's, Bodhisattva's, Pratyekabuddha's or Cakravartin's images. As a result, he will gain immeasurable bliss and always dwell among beings and devas, enjoying extraordinarily wonderful happiness. Morever, if he should be able to dedicate the rewards thus gained for the benefit of the entire Dharmadhatu, the bliss will defy comparison.

8. Read a Mahayana sutra, even one single word or sentence, show a respectful heart, praise it reverently and dedicate the sutra to others or the Dharma world. As a result, his welfare will be beyond description.

9. Worship, praise, places his hands together in respect, and bestow a gift when he sees a new Buddha temple or Mahayana sutra, or repair, clean up any old, ruined or broken temple or sutra himself, or persuade others to do so. As a result, he will be kings for 30 generations.

10. Plant minor root in the Dharma world, such as making contributions or offerings, repairing a temple or binding a book of sutras. Such good deed, if dedicated for the benefit of the entire Dharmadhatu, will gain so much meritorious virtue that such person will always enjoy superior, wonderful happiness for hundreds of thousands of future lives. However, if the same deed should be directed only to the benefit of the members of one's own families or to themselves, their reward will enable them to enjoy happiness for only 3 future lives.

Take home message: Do all the good deeds listed above, accumulate plenty of good merits, and dedicate those merits for the well-being of all sentient beings in these worlds.

PS. Thank you very much to my friend Arthur Tjandra for summarizing and sharing such a wonderful Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Vow Sutra to all of us. May Buddhas, Botthisatvas and good spirits always be with you. Sadhu...Sadhu...Sadhu...

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