A Very Auspicious Sunday Puja at BW Monastery
It was an auspicious Sunday morning for us at BW Monastery. Other than attending the puja conducted in English in the morning, we also took the opportunity to make a vast offering and to celebrate the birthdays of students born in the months of September and October.
During the puja, Venerable Bensi gave a short discourse on the reasons of going for refuge. It was explained in greater detail in reference to aspirations to be reborn in the Western Pureland where Amitabha resides. The journey to Pureland has three key aspects (Faith, Aspiration and Practice): having absolute faith on Amitabha, making strong personal aspiration to be reborn in the Pureland and reciting the name of Amitabha with the purest motivation.
Venerable explained that of all these three aspects, having absolute faith is the hardest to develop. In order to develop this faith in the right manner, practitioners should always recall the good qualities and great compassion of Amitabha. Venerable quoted the 18th and 20th vows of the forty - eight vows made by Amitabha as examples of Amitabha’s good qualities. Vow 18 mainly relates to developing faith and joy upon hearing the name of Amitabha and to dedicate the merits gained every moment to be reborn in the Pureland. One part of Amitabha’s 20th vow states that should those who have been non-virtuous, upon hearing of Amitabha’s name, make a sincere vow to repent, they will also be reborn in the Pureland. If all these were not to happen, Amitabha vowed that he would not gain perfect enlightenment.
What was interesting is that after this short sharing, we immediately got into action by making offerings and circumambulated within the confines of the monastery. Whilst circumambulating, we recited Namo Amitabha, making the strongest aspiration possible. This was followed by a session on confession where the repentance verses were recited. Although it was for a relatively short time, this allowed students the chance to put what they just heard into practice. It also demonstrated how one could cultivate the right habitual thoughts.
Further to Venerable’s short discourse, Dr Phua, one of BW Monastery’s lecturers also shared an example of a difficult situation which she encountered between herself and her neighbor a few years ago. She believed she would have developed a very strained relationship with her neighbor if not for Buddha’s teachings on karma. By understanding karma at a deeper level, and putting observing merits and appreciating kindness into practice, she successfully resolved the conflict with her neighbor.
As it was also a birthday celebration for students born in September and October, both 15G023E and 12G017E classmates contributed an agar agar-cake for the vast offering. The cake was handmade by Sister Carolan’s friend – Joraine who spent a day and night to create such a beautiful cake with all-natural ingredients. We delightfully offered the top layer of the cake to the Sangha of the monastery.
Students of the birth months were also asked to share their appreciation of kindness. Brother Francis gave thanks to his wife Susan who was not able to attend the puja. She had to take care of their son who was preparing for his PSLE (primary school leaving examination). Brother Xavier was grateful that his mum is always volunteering at the Monastery. Brother Sean was thankful to be able to join us in our dharma discussion class. Sister Boon Ying made a dedication to her parents for their upbringing and raising her into who she is today. Brother Tony and Sister Nancy also received grateful notes from and hugs by their spouses who are in the same Lamrim Class. Sister Evangelyn was happy and thankful that her birthday celebration was held at our monastery and graced by Venerable Bensi.
As for myself, I had penned a short poem dedicated to my parents, various lineage masters, our Master, our Spiritual Teacher and the Triple Gem. The poem is titled “River of Life” which was edited by Sister Yim Kuan.
The river of life flows
Hanging onto permanence
It surges forward
With no end in mind
We, the sentient beings
Allow its path of continuation
Unable to grasp the entire reality
Unable to have a hold on it
When we find the true teachings
We firmly follow it through the eons, maybe
Life spins around this
But we have found the keys
The river of life flows
Directed by the right means
We ended the morning enjoying the food that was offered during the vast offering, catching up with fellow virtuous friends, not to mention capturing some of these moments on camera. Classmates who could not attend the puja participated in rejoicing with those who could.
We appreciate the discourse and care and concern by Venerable Bensi and Venerable Zu Dao for our very first puja and birthday celebration at the monastery. Thank you very much!
We look forward to the next puja to continue our dharma learnings.
By Leow P Shan (15G023E)