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Dharma Assembly of Light Offering to the Buddha

A single lamp can dispel the thousand-year-old darkness instantly.
Offering light to the Buddha helps develop our wisdom infinitely.
Lighting lamps in front of the Buddha signifies inviting the light of wisdom radiated by the Buddha to illuminate sentient beings’ afflictive ignorance. On February 21, the day before the Lantern Festival, Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist Centre Malaysia held a Dharma assembly to avail more devotees the opportunity to light a lamp before the Buddha’s statue.

Offering of lighted lamps to the Buddha, pagoda, and temple has a long history. One of the Ten Kinds of Offerings and an essential form of offering in Buddhism, lighting a lamp symbolises brightness and wisdom. In the Buddha’s time, lamps were lit as an offering to the Buddha, Dharma, and temple, as well as for people’s convenience. On many occasions when explaining the Dharma, the Buddha also talked about stories and the merits of lighting lamps as offerings to the Buddha.

Lighting the “Light-and-Brightness Lamp (guang-ming deng)” has a profound meaning in Buddhism, in that we light a lamp within to remind ourselves to keep a pure bright mind of wisdom. There are overall two kinds of lamps lit as an offering to the Buddha. One is the oil-lamp placed before the Buddha statue when people pay homage to the Buddha and do sutra chanting, such as the “Longevity Lamp (chang-shou deng)” and the “Misfortune- Alleviating Lamp (xiao-zai deng).” The other is the “Constant-Brightness Lamp (chang-ming deng),” also referred to as the “Inexhaustibility Lamp (wu-jin deng),” which stays lit day and night, symbolizing the Dharma-body and our wisdom-life.

Before the start of the ritual, Ven. Chang Zun shared two stories about offering and lighting the lamp. He also urged the participants to, before lighting the lamp, make a great vow first, one that can keep them going all the way until they attain the Buddhahood. He also explained that that Buddha actually radiates boundless physical light and mental light (i.e. wisdom) and so does not really need our offerings. Nevertheless, we need to develop our compassionate mind by lighting the lamp and offering it to the Buddha. By doing so we bring hopes to the people around, while reminding ourselves to make amends, put in more efforts, and transform our afflictions and delusions.

Afterwards, participants chanted the Buddha’s name and proceeded to offer the lotus lamps to the Buddha with reverence and sincerity, praying for themselves, their friends and relatives, as well as all sentient beings, wishing that for the coming year the Three Jewels can bless all beings to uphold the Dharma with diligence, thereby enjoying ease and freedom.
The assembly wrapped up with joy, after all participants joined palms to make vows and finished the evening chanting.

Report: Yan Yuan(演緣)
Translated by Frances Liu (劉珮如) and edited by Chiacheng Chang (張家誠)

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