Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Offering Flowers to the Buddha

The main image of Buddha in the temple of Lerab Ling

Just recently I’ve taken the opportunity to do something I’ve been wanting to do for a long time now – which is to meditate on the Bodhicharyavatara using Patrul Rinpoche’s text ‘The Brightly Shining Sun’.

I bought my first translation of the Bodhicharyavatara about fifteen years ago – a paperback which was one of the cheapest dharma books I’ve ever bought and is now a rather tattered copy that still remains a favourite of mine. For ‘The Brightly Shining Sun’ I have the superb translation by Adam Pearcey, our very own Rigpa translator! I recommend that everyone checks out his translation of the first three chapters of the Bodhicharyavatara over on Lotsawa House where you’ll also find ‘The Brightly Shining Sun’. So armed with these I head enthusiastically for my cushion.

One of the things that I noticed as I initially glanced through the texts was the number of times that flowers, blossoms, garlands, etc. were mentioned as offerings. This led me to investigate a little bit further and again on Lotsawa House there’s a translation (courtesy of Tulku Thondup and Philip Richman) of a teaching by Jikmé Tenpe Nyima, the Third Dodrupchen Rinpoche, on the Offering of Flowers, in which it says:

In the summer, flowers of distinctive designs and colours, redolent with all kinds of pleasing fragrance beyond measure, grow in great abundance on trees, fields, and lakes, covering this great earth. Even the most humble among us can collect them without fear of depletion.

A statue of Buddha at our monastery in southern France

Moreover, flowers are substances that are extremely pure, as they can be obtained without engaging in any evil deed. They can be offered without any risk that we may feel miserly or regretful afterwards. So the offering will be made with a pure mind at the beginning, in the middle, and at the end.

I know sometimes I forget the benefits of something as simple as offering flowers to the buddhas and bodhisattvas.

So, to the buddhas and bodhisattvas, I pray to remember from now on.
Grant your blessings that this may come to pass!
by Ane Tsondru

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