CREATES UNBELIEVABLE MERIT LIKE SKY
LT with Ven Marcel Bertels at the Boudhanath Stupa in Kathmandu..
and on the right with Precious Holy Guru Lama Zopa Rinpoche at
the Stupa of Lama Yeshe in Vajrapani Inst. In California, USA.
When I was in Bodhgaya for the first time, I joined a group of
Taiwanese students who were attentively listening to Lama Zopa
Rinpoche as he taught them the great benefits of circumambulating
round the Stupa. Rinpoche related the story of how a humble fly,
merely by following the smell of the cows dung as it walked
around the stupa created the cause for itself to be reincarnated
as a human being !
later when I attended the Kopan Meditation Course I was fortunate
enough to accompany Rinpoche when he visited the Great Boudhanath
Stupa located near the bottom of Kopan hill. Rinpoche related
the story of this great Stupa stressing how important it was to
make a fervent wish for Enlightenment when one saw this Stupa
for the first time
Rinpoche also showed us how to make offerings,
prostrations and chant mantras while circumambulating around the
answered, "My four followers, there is not one single
difference between making offerings to me now and in the future,
with devotion, making offerings to my reflections. The merit is
equal and the result is equal."
followers" refers specifically to the disciples closest to
Buddha, but generally it includes all of us sentient beings who
do not have the karma to see the actual living Buddha. We have
only the karma to see Buddha's reflections: the symbolic representations
of Buddha, such as statues, paintings and so forth.
saying that even though we cannot see the actual Buddha, if we
make offerings to these holy objects symbolic of Buddha, the merit
is equal to that of actually seeing Buddha and making offerings.
The result is exactly the same. This is very important to understand
and very important to remember in our daily life. When we offer
our food and drink, when we make offerings on the altar, whenever
we do the practice of offering in our everyday life, we should
feel great happiness.
said, "This is due to the blessings of Buddha. This is
the reality but ordinary beings whose minds are undeveloped cannot
see these benefits."
is due to the blessings of Buddha" means that making offerings
to statues has the same result due to the power of the holy object.
Further reasons as to how the benefits of making offerings to
Buddha and the statues of Buddha are the same are mentioned in
the Guhyasamaja root text.
Swayambunath Stupa, Nepal
says, "A stupa is a palace where all the Buddhas are
abiding." So this is the same with a monastery. The benefits
exist as long as the monastery exists. And also the benefits you
receive equal the number of atoms of the stupa or monastery. You
do not necessarily have to build a monastery. Building even one
shrine room - a place where Buddha abides, where holy objects
of Buddha abide - has many benefits. It's important to understand
these benefits of the holy objects, the various opportunities
we have to create the cause of happiness by accumulating extensive
merit with these holy objects.
says, "Those sentient beings who do not have the fortune
actually to meet the Buddha need the holy objects of body, speech
and mind as the field in which to accumulate merit. These holy
objects are necessary."
of Buddha's teachings for a long time depends on the existence
of the holy objects of Buddha. The teachings exist in the mind
so how can they depend for their existence on the existence of
these external holy objects? You have to think about this, you
have to understand this. It is not easy to have the teachings
in the mind. To have the scriptural understanding and the realizations
of the teachings is not easy. For these, you need to have a lot
of merit. The most powerful merit one can accumulate, and accumulate
so easily, is in relation to holy objects of Buddha.
making statues of Buddha and making offerings to statues of Buddha,
one accumulates infinite, inconceivable merit that immediately
becomes a cause of enlightenment. Every merit accumulated by making
statues and by making offerings to statues immediately becomes
the cause of enlightenment. Without doubt, every single one becomes
a cause of enlightenment.
such infinite merit in this way, one is able to develop the mind,
one is able to understand the teachings, one is able not only
to attempt the practices of listening to, reflecting and meditating
on the teachings, but to complete them. All this has to come from
merit. So you can see how the existence of the teachings for a
long time depends on the existence of the holy objects.
started in the West only recently. Because one sees the problems
of life, there is much desire for mind-peace, and this longing
leads to much interest in meditation. This is common among Westerners.
But because Buddhism has just started in the West there is not
so much regard for holy objects. In countries where Buddhism is
established, especially Mahayana Buddhist countries such as Tibet
and Nepal, much effort is put into creating many conditions
for oneself and others to accumulate merit actualizing holy objects.
In those countries
everybody, whether great yogis, Sangha or lay practitioners, puts
effort into this way of accumulating merit for the self and so
many other sentient beings. Other sentient beings also accumulate
merit by making offerings to or circumambulating these holy
This is why
these countries have so many holy objects: so many monasteries,
so many stupas, so many statues. For example, sightseeing
in Tibet is only a cause to purify and to accumulate merit because
wherever you go you sees only holy objects: statues, scriptures,
as you understand lam-rim and especially the practice of Jorcho
more and more, the more you see the importance of holy objects,
not only for your own happiness but for the many benefits they
bring to so many other sentient beings. With these holy objects,
they create the cause of success and happiness. Because these
holy objects exist, sentient beings make offerings to them, pray
to them. This helps them to create the cause of happiness, and
this is how they experience happiness up to the highest happiness
of enlightenment. Because the temporary and ultimate happiness
of yourself and others depends on the existence of holy objects,
there is a purpose in making them.