Advanced Abhisheka-Empowered Workshop
Giving Food To
100,000 Ghosts Dharma
Esoteric method for protection from ghost realm phenomena. Psychic sentinel. Essential tool especially for healers who need more spiritual security.
Open to the public. No prerequisite.
Offering to Hungry Ghost Q & A, Destiny, and Chinese History
Living Buddha Dechan Jueren, 23 July, 2003@ Dari Rulai Temple, Los Angeles
Q: Why isn’t it possible for them to get the essence of the food without us offering it to them?
If you don’t give it to them, they won’t receive it.
Q: They can cause accidents on the highway, why cant they just get the food themselves?
Why do they cause accidents? They seek a way out. When somebody passes by, it’s a live person… has a light on. They see the light, they head for it. If you are weaker you still have light on, but you are weaker. Therefore they can take you and you will be in their place so they can leave. So if you give them offering, then they will be happy and they won’t bother other people. Once they have received offering, then they can ….. book a ticket and fly to China <laughter> But that’s the idea.
Q: So it’s kind of like, tag, you’re it.
Sort of like that, yeah.
Master: It’s very simple, if you think about it. If he is unable to find food, somebody has to offer it to him. He is not able to find it, that’s why he has to seek a way out. If you happen to be passing through that stretch of highway, his locality that he is stuck to, then he can find a way out. But he couldn’t go anywhere else to find food….unless somebody gives it to him.
Q: These are for ghosts, but what other spirit forms does this work for?
Basically there are two types, yin and yang. The yang type is the first section…. Those that are more advanced, above you, Buddha, Bodhisattva, and deities. Then the second section, offering to the yin type. Those that are below you, the ghosts and other beings….it’s a general term referring to them all.
Q: We do ceremonies in the temple to rid people of entities and things that are bothering them, are those the same things that we are feeding, or is it some other class of beings? We do ceremonies for things like possession, or people who have entities bothering them. We do dharani techniques to get rid of major…ghostbusting. Are these the same entities?
We are talking about the same thing. There’s no difference. They try to seek a way out, that’s why they became entities attached to a living person. But they couldn’t go anywhere, so they try to…occupy that house. A body is a house, so they try to occupy it and become the master of that house.
Q: Why in some situations we do a dharma rite for somebody, and another situation…or is it practice for us, when we do this personally with them, like a connection?
No. People come to the temple to request a service. That’s a special situation that happens to a person, we do a service for that person. This kind of offering food to the devourers is not meant for any particular person. Any hungry ghosts around the area, when you do the offering, they come, you pacify the region. It brings auspiciousness, good luck, and fortune to that area.
Q: Is every ghost a hungry ghost?
Master: Yes. If it’s not a hungry ghost, then he is able to leave, go to somewhere else. Then he becomes a spirit, and can exist in a different state. But if he is stuck in that place as a ghost, he is a hungry ghost. There’s a difference between what I mean when I say ghost or spirit. When a person just died, right after that, he is still a spirit. For the spirit… in front of the spirit there are three lights, or three living fires.
What happens when the flame goes out? Then that spirit becomes a ghost. There’s no more fire. So when we say a hungry ghost is seeking a substitute to take his place, what does that mean? Lets say you pass through that stretch of highway, you also have a car accident and you die. The moment after you die you are lost. You have no idea what just happened. You don’t know what to expect. At that moment, you are a spirit, not a ghost, you still have the three living fires. The ghost that doesn’t have fire knows about this, and they come and snatch that flame from you. By the time after you die, your flame has been snatched away, you wake up again, now you are a ghost, no longer a spirit. Because you have no more fire.
Very simple, like in the world, no matter how much money you have, like the three living fires, somebody robs you and you have no money. That’s all. If there is a normal, natural death, then a person’s spirit will depart the body in about 7 to 49 days. It will not fall to become a ghost and be stuck.
Who become the ghosts? Everyone that commits suicide, they are stuck. They will be ghosts. Whatever reason, if you commit suicide, you become a ghost. You’re stuck in that hell, in a sense, you’re stuck in that locality going nowhere. Also, what we call the ‘thunderbolt that struck you’, of the five elements, such as, die of gunfire, or suddenly crushed in an earthquake, or…die of sudden traumatic terrible death. Or in a car accident. Everyone that dies in a car accident, that’s the element of wood, actually. Or drowned. The last minute of drowning, they were struggling, they died of a sudden traumatic death experience. They are stuck as a ghost. That’s why there are ghost ships.
What about on the battlefield, die of gunshot? No. They do not become ghosts in most cases. That’s their duty, and they expected to die. So on the battlefield in a way they do not become ghosts, otherwise there would be a lot of ghosts. If someone has to die in battle on the battlefield, that’s karma from a past life. It was meant to be, it’s their destiny.
Who are the kind of people that it happens this way, for them to die in battle? Their past life karma is basically like this, they were big liars, they cheated a lot of people. Therefore, in their future lifetime, they have to face a death like that. Why do I always continue to tell you, never owe anyone a favor, and never lie? Many people that, on appearance it may seem to you they are good people, but their life destiny now is to die. That’s all they are meant to be in this lifetime is to die. So I also say this, most people have a hard time to understand. Anybody who is going to die, no matter how they die, when they die, or whatever happened that made them die, it was meant to be. There is no pity or compassion for them, it’s just the way it is. That’s their karma.
Guess who will suffer when someone dies? Certainly it’s the parents, especially the mother. It’s karma why the mother will suffer, tied together. Lets say this one person dies, then the mother will feel terrible. Do you think its his bad karma to die like that? No, it’s more of his mother’s bad karma having to suffer. It’s like she owed her child a favor, now the child takes revenge by dying, therefore hurts the mother. If you truly practice Buddha dharma well, and attain that realization, then you will know this first hand. And everything, you will renounce. You will no longer attach to anything.
All this talk about love by the mundane people, it’s only bondage. They are not real love at all. People cannot see that clearly. I often say this to many people, when you have not attained to that higher state of awareness, be careful. Do not practice your dharma so much, that you actually develop dharma power first. Because you will not be able to bear what you will witness of the reality. When you look at people, now you have siddhi accomplishment, but without attaining higher awareness, you are going to look at people with super normal perception.
For example, you look at somebody, because now you have siddhi power but you are not enlightened yet, then you know this person is going to die soon, let’s say two hours. If it’s somebody in the market that you don’t know, probably you wont care that much. But if it’s somebody you know very well, your best friend, if you were to tell him, then he probably say, “Nonsense!” He will probably hate you, like you are trying to jinx him or something. But if you don’t tell him, it will definitely happen because you now have premonition, pretty accurate intuition what’s going to happen in two hours. Then you will feel terrible afterward.
In other words, in this kind of case, knowing something, it’s preferable not to know when you are not even at that level. And yet, for those that really don’t know, they always want to know. If you really know, it’s a burden, it’s a curse, it’s a pain. Because very often, in most of the cases what you know you cannot divulge. Just like many have asked me, what’s going to happen in the future for the world? I always answer quickly. No matter how it will change, it will change for the better. But they always say, “I hear many people talking about the future of the world soon, there’s a lot of people going to
die.” I say, it’s about perspective.
Ever since this world came to be, everyday people are dying. If they don’t die, this earth cannot bear this population, they have to die. Anyone that is alive today, there is only one thing that’s for sure, they will all eventually die. It’s an impartial objective perspective, what’s there to be afraid of? You are just going to die one way or the other. But dying doesn’t mean extinction. Dying means rebirth. When you return to this world again, rebirth in the next lifetime, then you are not the same anymore. And this world is no longer the same, the environment is completely different.
If the seeds are different, then the flower will certainly be different. The conditions of the environment are different, then, people will certainly be at different levels of awareness. It’s impossible, as a lot of people wish, not to have re-birth. Which means you certainly have to die. It’s impossible not to have re-birth. I am only speaking about mundane people, who haven’t practiced to the point where they no longer die, no longer are born, practiced to the point they decide what they want to do.
Roughly 2485 years ago, there was a population count. Almost 2500 years ago, there was a population count, what was the population of the earth? 0.87 million people. Just under a million. Now, how many times over? Certainly, curious people will ask the question, if each person has a soul, then where did all these souls come from? What about the population of the animals? How may animal species became extinct? How many species of plants went extinct? But the essence, their spirit, their souls are still around. Whether that spirit is coming from animal or plant, they are all spirits.
But if you were to elevate yourself to beyond a certain level, the quality of your spirit, your soul is different. Here you don’t see much, many people see things happen in a hospital. If in a hospital you meet someone with a very bright white light, that means this person has a very high quality of spirit. If just an average mundane person, just light. Nothing special.
If you really think about it, everybody born into this world, but some with a silver spoon, they are just lucky and wealthy and pampered from the time they were born until their last days. It’s only for a few people out of the whole population. Did you also realize, there are also very few people born very poor, who then become very wealthy? Or vice versa.
You may not want to hear this, those that have degrees in education, they study the books, these are the type of people that don’t accomplish big tasks or big accomplishments. The school system is set up in such a way, you got the degree to work under the people that never go to school. I don’t know if you ever realize this in the west. It’s set up so you can work for people who don’t go to school. In the east, if you want to know this, the leaders of the countries, most of them never study the big books.
Especially, in ancient China, all these first emperors of the dynasties, they rarely had any formal education at all. The first emperor of the Qing dynasty called ?Nor Ha Tze? He never read a book even for a day in his whole life. The first emperor of the Ming dynasty, at 6 years old he became an orphan. He was a cowboy, and at 9 years old he joined a monastery to become a monk so he could have something to eat. He studied a few sutras. At 16 years old, he quit the monastery, didn’t want to be a monk anymore, so he joined an armed force. At 19 years old, he met 19 people, his blood brothers. Together, they overthrew the ?Yuan? dynasty and founded the Ming dynasty. Of course, <kind of joking> this first emperor of the Ming dynasty, was a southerner, so traditionally southerners are not as honest or loyal to their friends.
Once he became the emperor, in the later years, all his blood brothers except 2 that he did not kill, he conspired against them and killed them all. It’s actually a famous story in Chinese history. Once he became the first emperor of the new dynasty, they had a big banquet, a congratulation to all the subjects that helped set up the dynasty. Certainly all the generals and all his blood brothers were invited. In that building, under the building in the foundations, was buried powder. Then the emperor congratulated to each of his subjects a glass of wine. Then he said he needed to go to the bathroom. He left the building, got on a horse, and ran off.
In an instant, the congratulation banquet, the last loud congratulation ….explosion …elevated their status to heaven. This is called politics. If they were all dead, nobody would ever challenge him again. Whatever the emperor says now goes. If all these generals and blood brothers are now dead, all the subordinates, the soldiers, will only listen to the emperor now.
If you think about it, even though he overthrew the ?Yuan? dynasty and started the Ming dynasty, the Yuan dynasty started with Genghis Khan. Genghis Khan never read any book either. According to Chinese history, the first emperor of China, in the …dynasty period…over 2000 years ago, he was illiterate. He did not read. The Han dynasty emperor … ?Han Wu Di? Was also illiterate. All their subjects of the first emperors of all these dynasties in China, all these subjects were intelligent people. In a sense they all had PhD’s.
What about recent Chinese history? Did you realize Dr. Sun Yat Sen actually only had a degree from middle high school? Chiang Kai Shek only had two years of private schooling, then he went to Japan to join a military school for a couple of years. So altogether his formal education consisted of less than five years. Mao Ze Dong had education in a private school for three years. Later, he attended ..?Chang Tsa? Teachers college for one year. Then, he joined a seminary focusing on military arts for six months. Altogether, we are looking at about 4-1/2 years formal education for Mao Ze Dong.
What I’m trying to tell you, it’s all about destiny. What you were meant to do in this lifetime. It’s destined. This is your mission in life. Certainly many people say they want to have the best education, the best schools for their children. Is this the correct attitude? Yes, of course. But can you think of this example, you find the best nurturing ground, but you throw on that nurturing earth the wrong type of seeds. It’s still not going to sprout. You may have only the worst plot of land to plant your seeds, but it’s the best seeds, as long as there is water and sun, the seed will sprout.
What I mean is, the best schools you can find, there are plenty of students that graduate from the best schools who accomplish nothing. The worst school you think of, there are still a few people who graduate from the worst school who accomplish greatness. It’s about destiny. For your whole life now, what determined your fate? Do your parents decide what you do? It just happened the way it is. If you get the point here, if you really want to accomplish something, the first thing is to work on yourself to change yourself. You must up your standard of morality. Up your standard of ethics. Only when you have real ethics and morality will you as a whole person begin to change.
We all know this world has many great inventors. Those inventors, and the majority of people who never become inventors, on average, they have the same knowledge base. Why only so few people become great inventors, that have inventions, but average people don’t have that kind of inspiration to invent anything? This is a preconditioned thing from their past life. Any questions?
Q: You mentioned before three living fires? Could you mention a little bit about that?
Master: Like three lamps. On top of a living person, as long as you are alive, on top of you is a lamp. On each shoulder is a lamp. Whether they are lighted or not, but that’s another question. Every soul must have three lamps. Why is that it’s a common practice everywhere in every culture, when people pass away, they light a candle? They just need to have fire. Usually, they will do that in the night. In the east, there is also this kind of ceremony. The first moon of the lunar calendar year, people set lamps on the water. Put the candle in the little lamp, and let it float away. This fire draws away hungry ghosts, in a way to let them leave that place.
What are the three lamps? The one right above your head is the true self. The one on the left, that will show the previous life’s merits or accomplishments. The one on the right shows this present life’s accomplishments. So with these three lamps as your guiding light, you will be able to pass through that in-between state, or through the gate of ghosts, and you are able to leave. Now if you reach that gate of ghosts, and your lamp or light was robbed by others, then you will not be able to pass through that gate. Then you will be stuck on this side like a ghost. Just like now, if you want to enter the U.S. through customs, they check for your passport, entry visa, or green card, and probably now a health card just to make sure you don’t have any virus, otherwise they wont allow you to enter the country. You need three certificates on you, in a sense.
Q: If there’s a house full of haunted ghosts, are they all hungry ghosts?
All ghosts are hungry ghosts.
Q: The ghost that snatches or steals the person’s light, do they go to hell for that? What happens to them, or do they go to heaven?
No, they just leave. Not go to heaven, just leave here so they don’t get stuck here. It’s not hell or heaven. Stuck in here is hell for them. They get to leave and go on to other experiences.
Q: About my destiny, I’ve been thinking that there is something more that I should accomplish in this world, that I don’t know what it is yet. What I have been doing is just working on myself. Is it important for me to try and understand what that destiny is at this point?
Master: Only when you have really worked on yourself to a certain stage then you will know this for yourself. Before you even reach that stage, it’s pointless for you to know. You have to know this for yourself, nobody can tell you. Many people ask me this kind of question. This question really has no answer. For example, this is a life-pondering question for a lot of people. What’s the purpose of my life, my destiny here on earth. It’s actually in a way …. Question.
Whatever your purpose in life, why you are here, only you will know, not others. If this whole world, this life, is only a big stage, every one of us has been on the stage, different time, different play, whether the hero of the play, or just a tree, or a rock on the stage. Now if you realize for this particular play what part you play on the stage, then you will know. If you don’t know which part you are supposed to play, then you are still in the dark, for your whole lifetime you are still there wondering.
Depending on the play, whatever goes on the stage, maybe for a woman, maybe the heroine in this play is her, and the part she has to play is simply to be a good mother and bear children. In relationship between husband and wife, they are playing the hero and heroine and in different plays, one or the other has to be the subordinate depending on the scene.
Whatever job you have worked before, you are not the hero of that play. So some people are always wondering, “There’s more to my destiny than what I know now. I still don’t know, I am still in the dark.” That’s all your life is about. You have to realize what your part is supposed to be. For some women, it is such that all their part to play as the heroine is to be a mother. Her job may be a teacher, educating kids, but that’s only a job, not her main part as a heroine on the stage. She may be a doctor. Good. Save a lot of people. If she’s a doctor and takes advantage of others, then, she goes to hell that’s all. So as the Chinese saying says, if you were born into this world, a creation of heaven, there must be a purpose for you. Whatever that purpose or function is supposed to be.
Every type of profession, there are different heroes, and they have their own ethics. Whatever you do, as long as you adhere to your professional ethics, you will eventually accomplish, and you will figure out your part. If whatever you do, if you don’t follow according to your professional ethics, you will have to face punishment in the future.
What I talk about is very practical. I don’t ask anything in return. I don’t ask money from people when you consult with me. Of course, some of the teachers out there who take money, I’m not saying it’s a bad thing, it’s not. They may be pretenders, but it’s also about karma. It’s time for the other people to pay them back. However, there’s nothing wrong with charging people money, but there are a lot of so-called masters out there, under the pretension, under different flags actually cheating people. If these kind of people ask me, what’s my purpose, my destiny in life? Then my response to these kind of people is very simple, ”Your destiny in this current life is simply to cheat people.”
This is a big world. Whatever you do, they are all good professions. However, there is an old saying from the east, hard to translate but it means something like this: Whatever in a human lifetime, only the ethical path will endure the test of time. We should say, it’s a rare opportunity, a very rare chance for one to be a human being in this lifetime. If you get this chance to come to this world as a human being, then you should bring to this world more light, more color, more radiance, and to help those people that need help. You may have to work hard, but your goal is to bring comfort to others.
We all know that if people become ill, they can actually die if they don’t take care of the problem, however, very few people actually die of fatigue. If you are willing to work hard, willing to bear the difficulty, the burdens of accomplishing different tasks to serve people, you will have merits.
We should re-phrase what I mentioned earlier. If you are born into this world, you must have some purpose. That purpose should be to serve others, and to be more considerate, caring of others. We should focus our energies on solving people’s suffering and problems. If you are able to do this, over time, then you will begin to change yourself.
How many masters are there in this world? How many different tasks are there in this world? Even a tiny little task, as long as we do it and finish that job, we will accomplish that task. If you want to accomplish a great task, if you think about it and dream about it, but don’t do anything, you are just wasting your time. So this saying to work on yourself, to change yourself, it should be every moment of your life. Only by continually changing yourself will you truly be changed.
Q: Can you comment on someone going into a monastery for 17 years to escape this hell, and someone who goes out and sacrifices their life to raise their children. It’s always struck me that the person raising their children is doing what you are saying.
Master: I often say this, if you really want to help others, then first you must learn the ways, the methods to help yourself. Only he who is able to do this for himself, is there any possibility for him to help others. To think about yourself is not a wrong thing to do. It’s a correct thing. So if somebody seeks an opportunity to work on themselves in a monastery, then that’s also the correct thing to do. If someone joins a monastery for 17-20 years, and is practicing and working on himself, but has yet to leave the monastery to go to the outside world. It’s very simple, he spent 20 years practicing but has not yet attained realization. Because he has not yet realized for himself so he has not yet mastered all these methods of helping himself. When someone has yet to have the ability to help himself, wanting or wishing to help others cannot be a reality. It’s only a dream.
So why is he still considering himself? Because he does not yet have the ability to offer his help to others. Therefore he feels an emptiness in himself. When he truly attains self-realization, he really is able to do this for himself, he is full of energy. He will naturally come out to help people.
Why in the beginning will he wish not to come out and leave the monastery? In the beginning, for most of them they know they don’t have the ability to do the helping yet. And they recognize this reality. So when he is truly able to do the helping, then people will accept him readily, and he will receive a lot of praise, and he will naturally want to come out and help people.
Thinking of one’s self, seeking liberation for one’s self is a correct thing to do. Going out and helping others is also a correct thing to do. They are not excluding each other, they are just at a different stage. His goal, or aspiration is to help others, by working on himself, that’s the first step.
Q: Everyone in this world will die and be reborn again and again, what stage do we have to attain to so we will no longer be forced to come back, so we actually have a choice? Do we have to attain to that stage like your master, who actually entered nirvana and his whole body disappeared?
Master: The main cause for one to be reborn again and again without choice, simply because your mind has this desire, this bias, this view on the issue of this is right or this is wrong, and you want to participate in deciding that. This is the beginning of all the fights and arguments, the beginning point that leads to all this. This is all of your desire. Think about it, in this one lifetime for many people, whether they intended to or not, they did do a lot of bad things. Including hurting even your own friends, colleagues, or relatives. For your selfishness, desire, and vanity you did a lot of false things, and did a lot of things to cover it up. Perhaps you also owe people money, and more than just money, perhaps you owe them a favor. So you have no choice, you have to be reborn in the next lifetime to repay them with different means.
I remember I have told this story a couple of times already, about this top researcher in the Chinese nuclear lab, Mr. …..and his wife. They have a son. The son, in a past life they owed this son a lot of favors and money. So now in this life he came back as their son. He beats up the father and mother and yells at them, but they still have to give their son a lot of money. They give willingly, they want to give a lot of things to their son, but their son would beat them up. It’s a different means… different ways… on appearance people will not be able to tell … different forms will take place to shape their life.
What can you do, and how is it that you can stop this from happening to you, so you don’t have to be reborn without any choice? If for this current, present lifetime you are able to do the practice, work on yourself to the point that you are so pure in your mind that you no longer contaminate or defile your being. Because in the process of working on yourself and doing the practice, you are bettering yourself, and many of these problem areas of your being, you are working on them, and gradually they become less and less. Even if you have done a lot of bad things, spoken a lot of lies in the past, or harmed a lot of people… but that’s in the past. As long as starting from this moment you truly realize this, and you never make that same mistake again, and simply do the right things now, no matter how hard it is, then you don’t have to worry about it.
It’s called repentance. Then you will really change yourself. So the key point of every kind of practice is very simple. You know yourself so well of your past misdeeds and transgressions, and now you have remorse and realize this. You never do them again, therefore, you are on the right path. What’s repentance? You know, repentance is in every religion. It happens so often, it becomes meaningless. They will repent today, tomorrow they do the same thing. Then they go to seek another absolution, and repent again, then do it again. That’s not repentance.
Working on oneself is to continue to better oneself, to overcome all your bad habits and problem areas. And to learn how to forgive others often, and become a greater being. And often help others so you gather more merits. With more merits you have less burdens, and your mind opens up and you have more and more wisdom. If you are able to do the right thing starting from this moment, for whatever past mis-deeds and transgressions, they will gradually be wiped out. Then your defiled mind will gradually be purified. Only when you have attained to that state of mind, that purity, then you will have the choice, and you no longer will be born, or die. No longer have any change… in the sense that you no longer have any choice.