Extending Infinite Blessings: Dharma Drum Mountain Conducts Ulambana Festival Assemblies

As an organization which emphasizes the cultivation of blessings and repaying kindness, Dharma Drum Mountain (DDM) conducts Ulambana Festival assemblies at various local and overseas branches.

During the auspicious seventh lunar month (between 2015/08/14 and 2015/09/12), assemblies at branches including the Chung-Hwa Institute of Buddhist Culture, Nung Chan Monastery, Chan Meditation Center in New York, Los Angeles Center, Dharma Drum Vancouver Center and the DDM Buddhist Center Malaysia will be held. It is hoped that through these assemblies, people can share the merits they have gained from their virtuous acts of learning the Buddhadharma as well as reciting the Buddha’s names or sutras with all sentient beings in the ten directions to relieve them from various sufferings..

Venerable Master Sheng Yen, the Founder of DDM had said that as an important day in the Chinese calendar, the Ulambana Festival is also an event in the Buddhist tradition.

The origin of the Ulambana Festival relates to the Ulambana Sutra where Buddha’s disciple Moggallana, who was foremost in supernatural powers, was concerned about where his mother was reborn after her death. Through his supernatural powers, he found that she was reborn in the hungry ghost realm but his attempts to alleviate her from misery with his supernatural powers was in vain, so he consulted the Buddha for a solution.

It was during the rains retreat at that time whereby during the three-month rainy season, monastics stopped their alms rounds but gathered at certain locations for intensive practice. At the end of the retreat in the middle of the seventh month, the whole sangha would gather and sincerely atone for any offence they might have committed. At this time, after three months of intensive practice, there may be improvement or even accomplishment among the sangha members, therefore making an offering to the sangha members at this time highly meritorious. Therefore the Buddha suggested that Moggallana offer food to the Sangha on the day they gather after the rains retreat so that the merits could alleviate his mother’s suffering in the ghost realm.

From then on, during the middle of the seventh month, Buddhists make their offerings to sangha members to relieve beings in the hungry ghost realm from their suffering. Apart from that, they also chant scriptures as an offering of the Buddhadharma to provide them with the warmth of compassion and its cooling wisdom. At the same time, assembly participants also have the opportunity to listen to the Dharma, to pray and practice for good health and eliminate their vexations and enmity, thereby cultivating mental peace and ease. They also learn to practice equanimity and compassion and to care for every person they have known, extending that to all sentient beings in all directions as well as to the environment they live in.

The arrival of the teaching of the Ulambana Sutra in China coincided with the legend of the ghost month in Chinese culture.
While the Chinese pray to their ancestors during this month as a way to express their gratitude, the Ulambana Festival is also representative of the act of filial piety. From this, modern Buddhists refer to the seventh lunar month as the month of Filial Practice.
Of course, repaying kindness to parents is best done while they are alive and it is important for the younger generation to care for their parents and to encourage them to practice religious faith.

Translated by Aron Lan/ Edited by DDM Australia Editing Team

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