In observance of the QingMing Festival, Fo Guang Shan South Island New Zealand on the 31st of March held a "Ching Ming Dharma function ¨C Precious Diamond Litany". This is the first Ching Ming Dharma Function held at Fo Guang Shan (FGS) South Island temple after the earthquake. The service was led by FGS New Zealand Venerable Abbess Manshin, who guided the 90 followers into reciting the " Precious Diamond Litany" sutra - as a peace offering to our deceased ancestors, in the hope that they will ascend to the Buddha's pure land.
After the formal service, Venerable Abbess Manshin had a few words to say, stating how Buddhist practicioners must first deal with their "Direct Merit" (the karmic results which are a product of our past lives accummulated good/bad deeds). Only then, after that has been handled thoroughly, will the grandiosity of our "Circumstantial Merit" (the karmic implications as determined from the environment we are born into) be manifested for us to see. Those on the Buddhist path should not dwell on the meaning behind names and appearances, but instead humbly carry out their Buddhist practice. The five obscurations (greed, anger, ignorance, pride, and doubt) will cloud our view, making us cling onto the illusion of our 'I' or self, physical appearances and differences, Skandha (aggregates), and of age and everlastingness, thus falling into such woeful courses of existence. It is only through repentance, and by increasing one's good deeds and merits, shall we understand the essence of the Buddha's teachings, and enter into a state where we can transcend away from our bad karma.
Abbess Manshin also shared on how she gently guided the Westerners into doing some meditation, using the incense board to straighten the meditators' backs and attitudes, whilst remedying lapses of bad concentration. Again, she encouraged people to be close to positive knowledge, because positivity can make us realize where our bad problems lie. It is best to start early on the course of learning Buddhism, but perserverance is important too, as we need to bring up positive thoughts every so often in order to not be lost and disenchanted. The repentance dharma methods include: 1) logical knowledge methods such as by being more aware, knowledgeable, understanding and thoughtful of our incorrect behaviour; and 2) actionable repentance methods such as by attending dharma services, bowing and repenting in front of the Buddha, etc. The hardest part on the path to Buddhahood is to take full responsibility of our own speech and behaviour.
At last, Venerable Abbess Manshin told us to learn by example from Manjusri Bodhisattva¡¯s wisdom of "Lying on the lowest point, yet glancing at the the highest peak". The fact that followers today have made the journey to attend this dharma service ¨C to repent on their mistakes, and turn these learnings into wisdom ¨C is a commendable act in itself that brings much energy into our existential life. Finally, Abbess Manshin wishes to embolden everyone to visit the temple on a regular basis, so as to learn about Buddhism via conveyance from peers, consistently practicing, accummulating merits, and putting in an effort for Buddhism.