How to Make Light Offerings
to Accumulate the Most Extensive Merit

by Lama Zopa Rinpoche

Light Offerings

The Benefits of Making Light Offerings

It is said in the Ten Wheel Sutra of the Essence of Earth (Kshitigarbha): "All comfort, happiness and peace in this world are received by making offerings to the Rare Sublime Ones (the Triple Gem), therefore those who like to have comfort, happiness and peace always attempt to make offerings to the Rare Sublime Ones."

In general, all the collections of goodness of samsara and nirvana are the result of having made offerings to the Triple Gem. In particular, one receives different benefits by doing service with each of the various individual offerings. Buddha, the Fourth Guide, whose holy mind is enriched with the ten powers, announced in the "Tune of Brahma" Sutra Clarifying Karma that there are ten benefits of making light offerings:

  1. One becomes like the light in the world.
  2. One achieves the clairvoyance of the pure flesh eye [as a human].
  3. One achieves the devas' eye.
  4. One receives the wisdom of knowing what is virtue and what is non-virtue.
  5. One is able to eliminate the darkness of ignorance, the concept of inherent existence.
  6. One receives the illumination of wisdom, even in samsara one never experiences darkness.
  7. One receives great enjoyment wealth.
  8. One is reborn in the deva or human realms.
  9. One quickly becomes liberated.
  10. One quickly attains enlightenment.
Those devas or humans who accumulate the merit of making one light offering, or just a handful of flowers, will see the fully enlightened Buddha Maitreya. It is said in the Sutra of Arya Maitreya: "Those who offer 1,000 lights, or 1,000 blue utpali flowers, or who make the pinnacle of a stupa, who make the holy form, will be reborn when Maitreya Buddha shows the deed of gaining enlightenment and receive his first Dharma Teaching." It is also said that even those who offer one flower, or who rejoice at the merit of others who offer, will achieve this Buddhahood. This means that even if one doesn't get enlightened during Shakyamuni's teaching, then during Maitreya Buddha's teaching one's mind will get ripened and liberated.

Offering light, in particular, is a special door of dependent arising to quickly complete the accumulation of merit and receive blessings. It is said in the Second Chapter of the Root Tantra of Chakrasamvara (who is the manifestation of Shakyamuni Buddha, "If you wish for sublime realization, offer hundreds of lights".

If one wishes to know in detail the results of making offerings to the holy objects or doing service to the Buddha and the holy objects, one should study the Sutra of the Compassionate-Eye Looking One (Avalokiteshvara), or the Sutra of Sang Gyal (i.e., the Sutra in which Buddha gave instruction to King Sang Gyal), or Konchog Thala. It says in the text, Immortal Drum Sound Mantra: "If one devotes to the Inconceivable One, then the result is also inconceivable". Similarly, it is said in the Sutra of the Compassionate-Eye Looking One: "Since the dharmas (i.e. qualities) of the Buddha Gone As It Is (Skt.Tathagatha) are limitless, making offering to the One Gone As It Is has limitless, infinite, inconceivable, incomparable, unimaginable and numberless benefits."

It says in the Sutra, The Small Quotation (Tib. lung ten tsek): "It is possible for the moon and stars to fall down to the earth, for the mountains and forests to rise up into the sky, and for the water in the great oceans to completely dry up, but it is not possible for the Great Sage (i.e. Buddha) to tell a lie." Keep this in your mind. Generate strong devotion and faith in the root of all happiness and goodness: actions and their results and the blessings of the Three Precious Rare Sublime Ones. Having this body and possessions, which are as though borrowed for a year, a month, or a few days, one should attend day and night, all the time, to the practice of taking the essence of this human life, which is of short duration like a lightning flash, by planting seeds as much as possible in the special Merit Field.

The actual practice: How to Make Light Offerings

Setting a good motivation before lighting the candles generate bodhicitta. Think:

    "The purpose of my life is not only to obtain happiness and solve problems for myself, but to free each being from problems and lead them to happiness, especially to the state of full enlightenment. Therefore, I must achieve complete enlightenment. To do this, I must complete the two accumulations, the merit of fortune (method) and the merit of wisdom. Therefore, I am going to make charity with the light offerings and make offering to the Merit Field."

Also remember to motivate for the success of particular projects, for people who have passed away or who are sick, or for other particular purposes.

Reciting OM AH HUNG

As soon as you light the candles, or turn on the electricity, bless them by reciting om ah hung three times. If you don't immediately bless them, the spirit possession called Tsu Peu Chikpa enters into the offering and then , if you offer that light, it becomes an obstacle, it causes mental damage. In this case, it causes you to fall asleep without control when doing listening, reflection and meditation practices on the holy dharma. One should understand that it is the same thing with all the rest of the offerings, if one doesn't bless them there are different spirit possessions that enter into them and then the offering damages the mind and causes obstacles.

Making Charity to the Beings of the Six Realms

Think that these offerings have been received due to the kindness of sentient beings. Think, "These are not mine."

Make charity to all the hell beings, preta beings, animals, humans, suras and asuras. We make charity of the offerings in order to oppose the thought of the light offerings belonging to us. Think that we and all other beings are together going to make offerings to the Buddha. Generate happiness at having accumulated infinite merit by thinking in this way.

Blessing the Offerings

Now bless the offering substances by reciting the mantra that allows each Buddha to receive inconceivable offerings, and by expressing the Power of the Truth:

Offering Prayer

    I actually perform and mentally transform the offering substances of human beings and devas. May the whole sky be pervaded by Samanthabhadra clouds of offerings.

Mantra to Increase the Offerings

om namo bhagavate - bendze sarwaparma dana tathagataya -
arhate samyaksam buddhaya - tayata - om mendze bendze maha
bendze maha tadza bendze - maha bidya bendze maha bodhicitta bendze -
maha bodhi mendo pasam kramana bendze -
sarwa karma awarana bisho dana bendze soha
(3X)

Power of the Truth

    By the power of the truth of the Three Rare Sublime Ones, the blessings of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, the great richness of having completed the two merits, and the inconceivable pure sphere of existence (the emptiness of existence), may it become only like that.

Making the Offerings

We make offering to all the holy objects, by visualizing that they are manifestations of our own root guru who is one with all other virtuous friends. Since the virtuous friend is the most powerful object in the Merit Field, offering in this way one accumulates the most extensive merit. It is said by the Savior Nagarjuna in the text of the Five Stages:

"Abandon making other offerings, purely attempt offering to the guru. By pleasing the guru, one will achieve the sublime wisdom omniscient mind." It is said by Guru Vajradhara in the Root Tantra text Buddhaya: "One pore of the spiritual master is more sublime than all the merit accumulated by offering to all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions."

First, we offer to all the holy objects in our own room or temple by visualizing that these are manifestations of our own root guru who is one with all other virtuous friends.

Then, we make offering to all the holy objects in this country, thinking of them as manifestations of one's own virtuous friends. Then, we make offering to all the holy objects in India: principally Bodh Gaya Stupa, where the Buddha showed the holy deed of enlightenment, then all the rest of the holy objects (by thinking of them as one's own virtuous friend).

We make offering to all the holy objects in Tibet: in particular, the holy statue that Buddha himself blessed, then all the rest of the holy objects, by thinking of them as one's own virtuous friend.

Then, we offer to all the holy objects in Nepal: principally the most holy precious object, the great holy stupa at Boudhnath, then all the rest of the holy objects by thinking of them as the virtuous friend. Then, we offer to all the holy objects in all the remaining Buddhist countries by thinking of them as one's own virtuous friend.

We offer to all the Buddhas, Dharma and Sangha of the ten directions by thinking of them as one's own virtuous friend.

We offer to all the holy objects of the ten directions: statues, stupas, scriptures, etc. by thinking of them as one's own virtuous friend. There is also a special way of making light offerings according to highest secret mantra. In this way, great bliss is generated in all the holy minds.

The Actual Light Offering Prayer

Then recite the actual prayer of the light offerings five, 10 or 1,000 times, etc., depending on how many times one wishes to make the light offerings:

Light Offering Prayer

    These actually performed and mentally performed light offerings, the manifestations of one's own innate awareness, Dharmakaya, these clouds of offerings equalling the infinite sky, I am offering to all the gurus and Three Sublime Ones, and to the statues, stupas and scriptures, which are the guru. We have accumulated infinite merit by having generated bodhicitta, by having made charity to the sentient beings, and by making the actual light offerings to the gurus, Triple Gem and holy objects of the ten directions.

    Due to this merit, may whoever I promised to pray for and whoever prays to me, whose name I have received to pray for – principally servants, benefactors and disciples, then all the remainder migrator beings living and dead – may the rays of the light of the five wisdoms completely purify all their degenerate vows of samaya right now.

    May all the sufferings of the evil gone realms be ceased right now.
    May all the three realms of samsara be empty right now.
    May all the impure minds and their obscurations be purified.
    May all impure appearances be purified.
    May the five holy bodies and wisdom spontaneously arise.

(Repeat as many times as you wish to offer the lights)

Dedication Prayers

    Due to these infinite merits, may whatever sufferings sentient beings have ripen on me now. May whatever happiness and virtue I have accumulated (including all the realizations of the path and the highest goal enlightenment) be received by each hell being, preta being, animal, human being, sura and asura right now.

By this dedication one has accumulated infinite merit, so rejoice:

    May the precious sublime thought of enlightenment, which is the source of all success and happiness for oneself and for all sentient beings, be generated without delaying for even a second. May whatever has been generated increase more and more without degeneration.

    Due to all the three times' merits accumulated by me, by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and by sentient beings, which are empty from their own side, may the I, which is empty from its own side, achieve enlightenment, which is empty from its own side, and lead sentient beings, who are empty from their own side, to that Enlightenment by myself alone.

    Whatever white virtues we have thus created we dedicate as causes Enabling us to uphold the holy Dharma of scriptures and insights and to fulfil without exception the prayers and deeds of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the three times.

    By the force of this merit in all our lives
    May we never be parted from Mahayana's four spheres
    And may we reach the end of our journey along the paths
    Of renunciation, Bodhicitta, the pure view and the two stages

Special Mantra to Increase the Merit One Hundred Thousand Times

chom den de de zhin shek pa dra chom pa yang dak pa
dzog pa sang gye nam pa nang dze oe kyi gyal po la chag tsel lo
(3x)

jang chub sem pa sem pa chen po kun tu zang po la chag tsel lo (3x)

om pentsa driwa awa boghi ne soha (7x)

om duru duru zaya mukhe soha (7x)

Final Dedication Prayers

    May all the important pure wishes be completed due to the blessings of the eminent Victors and their Children (Buddhas and Bodhisattvas), due to the truth that dependent-arising is unbetrayed, and due to the power of my pure spiritual attitude.

    May myself, family and all sentient beings in all lifetimes due to Lama Tsong Khapa being the direct guru, never be separated away, even for a second, from the pure complete path admired by the Victorious Ones.

    Due to the merits of myself and others, may the victorious teachings of Losang Dragpa flourish for a long time. May all the centers and projects of the FPMT receive all the necessary conditions to preserve and spread the teachings of Lama Tsong Khapa immediately. May all obstacles be pacified, may the general organization and the individual meditation centers, all the activities to preserve and spread the Dharma, particularly Lama Tsong Khapa's teachings, cause the teachings to continue without degeneration and spread in the minds of all sentient beings. May all the necessary conditions be received immediately, without any obstacle, and the members who have sacrificed their life to benefit others throughout the organization have a long life, be healthy, may all their activities please the virtuous friend and in all their lives may they always be guided by a perfectly qualified Mahayana virtuous friend and all their wishes immediately succeed according to the Dharma.

This Light Offering Practice was composed by Lama Zopa Rinpoche in Taiwan, February, 1994. It was edited by Ven. Sarah Tresher for use by the students of Amitabha Buddhist Center, who on Rinpoche's advice wished to make light offerings at the Center.
Copyright (c) Wisdom Publications.
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