Outline of Practices from the Sutra of Earth Treasure
The Sutra of Earth Treasure proclaims and praises the merits of Bodhisattva Earth Treasure; therefore, the practices emphasized therein center around the worship of Bodhisattva Earth Treasure. The various practices as taught in that Sutra may be adopted for personal cultivation on the path to enlightenment, for others' well-being through dedication of merits accrued, or for recommending to others for their practice or accumulation of merits. In this article the practices are outlined and classified so that devoted practitioners could readily grasp the essential points.
- Obtain images of Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Pratyeka-Buddhas, Arhats, or Dharma Protectors that are color paintings, or molded, engraved or sculpted statues using clay, stone, rubber, lacquer, gold, silver, copper or iron.
- Copy, print, guard, protect, or circulate Sutras.
- Build and construct Buddhist pagodas or monasteries.
- Engage in maintenance and repair of Buddhist images, books and buildings.
Take refuge in the Triple Gems: Buddhas, Dharma and Sangha
Make offerings of incenses, flowers, drinks, foods, clothing, colorful silks, treasures, candles, lamps, banners, canopies, jewelry, money, music, dances, etc., to images of holy ones such as Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, pagodas, monasteries, Sutras (including just one sentence or gatha therein), or members of the Sangha.
Express veneration to images of holy ones such as Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, pagodas, monasteries, Sutras (including just one sentence or gatha therein), or members of the Sangha in the following manners: viewing with reverence, adoring, folding palms together in reverence, bowing, saluting, or making prostration.
Exclaim praises, recite articles of praising, or sing or chant praises to Buddhist holy beings such as Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, holy images, pagodas, monasteries, Sutras, passages from Sutras, or members of the Sangha.
Listen to epithets of holy ones such as Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; repeat the holy epithets; listen to, recite, or read Sutras
Based on genuine Bodhicitta, pledge vows to help sentient beings advance toward Enlightenment.
- Dharma Activities
Make efforts to build extensively connections for doing good or practicing Dharma. Give teachings that are appropriate to the situation and the condition of the recipient so as to convert them toward enlightenment. Print and distribute freely Sutras and books on the Dharma. Universally persuade sentient beings to learn and practice Dharma. Out of great compassion, with a humble attitude and a smiling face, use gentle speech to engage in almsgiving to the poor or disabled. Provide freely medicines, medical treatment, drinks, foods, or bedding to old people, sick people, pregnant women or women in delivery. Donate valuable things such as clothing, treasures, jewelry, houses, garden, farms, etc., to Dharma or charity.
Special Time or Place
- New Born: within seven days after a baby's birth recite the Sutra of Earth Treasure at least once, and repeat the name of Bodhisattva Earth Treasure for ten thousand times.
- Near Death: use a dying person's wealth and properties to accumulate merits by engaging in activities mentioned under I. General Practices above, especially for making or obtaining images of Bodhisattva Earth Treasure and making offerings to pagodas, monasteries and members of the Sangha.
- Accumulate merits for a deceased being within seven consecutive seven-day periods after death.
- Accumulate merits for a deceased being on each annual Memorial Day.
- Recite the Sutra of Earth Treasure once on each one of the ten days of fasting, i.e., the first, eighth, fourteenth, fifteenth, eighteenth, twenty-third, twenty-fourth, twenty-eighth, twenty-ninth, and thirtieth day of each lunar month.
- At one's residence construct a shrine room made of mud, stone, bamboo or wood on a clean spot in the southern direction, inside the room install an image of Earth Treasure for worshipping and making offerings to.
For the following special circumstances one may extinguish bad karmas, increase merits, and obtain inconceivable results through seeing, hearing, saluting, making offerings to, exclaiming praises on, or repeating the name of Bodhisattva Earth Treasure:
- To repent for karmic hindrances
- Bed-ridden for a lengthy period due to sickness (including those in coma)
- Frequently having nightmares
- Weary of possessing a female body
- Dislike one's own ugly appearance
- Lost relatives during childhood
- Aspiring to attain Enlightenment
- Having wishes or seeking to obtain something
- To be able to memorize or recite Sutras
- Suffering in poverty, sickness or other difficult situations
- Encountering dangers while traveling
Points of Attention
- Not to commit bad deeds, especially those related to disparaging or violating the Buddhist path.
- Not to kill or hurt sentient beings.
- Impermanence would arrive unexpectedly. While one is still healthy one should diligently engage in Dharma practices.
- Offerings of meals should be carefully prepared to ensure that sanitary conditions are met, and they should be offered, first of all, to Buddhas and members of the Sangha.
- All merits result from Bodhi aspirations; therefore, one should always dedicate the merits resulting from all one's practices to all sentient beings in the whole Dharmadhatu.
By Yutang Lin