The Maitreya Bodhisattva (Mi Le Pu Sa )
Basic Knowledge of Buddhism
Namo Maitreya Bodhisattva
The image of Maitreya Bodhisattva originates from the Bu Dai (Magic Bag) Monk in the Song Dynasty of China. With a big smile and big belly, the image of Maitreya Bodhisattva apparently symbolizes joy and regarding all living beings as equal. From him one learns to expand the mental dimension, to take on things and to renounce them if necessary, and to be all-embracing. Consequently, one will have a magnanimous mind, great blessings, excellent health, longevity and accomplishment in what one pursues.
The Heavenly King who Upholds his Country of the East (Dhtarra)
The name Dhtarra means He who maintains the state. If everyone in a society fully carries out his/her duties, stability and prosperity of individuals, families, careers, and the society as a whole will be maintained, which will sustain world peace. The Chinese lute held by the Heavenly King of the East represents the Middle Way in that its strings should be neither too loose nor too tight. Too loose it does not sound and too tight it breaks. Therefore, the way we behave should be appropriate. Avoid extremes; underdoing is just as bad as overdoing.
The Heavenly King of Increase and Growth of the South (Virhaka)
The name Virhaka means Patron of Growth. Growth means improvement that we refer to nowadays, which corresponds to the Confucian notion of renew ourselves every day and renew ourselves day after day as well as the joyous perseverance in Buddhism. The Heavenly King of the South teaches us that it is not enough to perform our duties well, we also need to improve ourselves in terms of virtue, knowledge, technologies, and the level of living, because not to advance is to go back. Thus, Buddhism is never conservative or behind the times. Instead, it is always abreast of the times. As it requires highly perfect wisdom to lead the times, the sword that the Heavenly King of the South holds is the Sword of Wisdom.
The Heavenly King of the Broad Eyes of the West (Virpka)
The name Virpka means He who sees all. As his name indicates, the Heavenly King of the West has a discerning eye, and he is good at learning from others strengths and his own experiences. One of his hands holds a dragon or snake which represents changes. Everything in the society, people, things and objects, are changing all the time, so we have to see carefully and clearly to respond with ease. His other hand takes a pearl, which means the unchangeable, teaching people to meet changes with constancy, to find out the unchangeable principles amid changes, and to have a settled mind.
The Heavenly King of Learning of the North (Vairavana)
Vairavana teaches us to engage in leaning and expand our knowledge, as stated by a Chinese proverb, Reading thousands of books, traveling thousands of miles. He carries an umbrella which is a symbol of his sovereignty, preventing various pollutions in this ever changing world. While learning broadly and comprehensively, we need to take particular care to protect our pure mind to be like a lotus flower that comes up through the mud but remains undefiled.
Namo Earth Store Bodhisatta of Great Vows (Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva of Great Vows)
Earth refers to our mind and Store treasure troves. The mind of living beings has innate immeasurable virtue and ability, immeasurable wisdom, immeasurable talent and skill. Then how to access such treasures? Filial piety is the only way. The only method for uncovering the treasure troves in our mind is filial piety to our parents and reverence for teachers. The Buddhas teaching is about respecting the teachers that is based on filial piety. Therefore, the Sutra of the Past Vows of Earth Store Bodhisattva, which is the sutra on filial piety, is the most essential basis of great perfection.
Namo Contemplator of the Worlds Sounds Bodhisattva of Great Compassion (Namo Avalokitevara Bodhisattva of Great Compassion)
Extending the filial piety to parents and reference for teachers to great compassion to all living beings is a significant meaning that Contemplator of the Worlds Sounds (Gwan Shir Yin) Bodhisattva symbolizes. Treat all the living beings with kind heart, kind thoughts and kind conducts; discriminate no nations, races, you or me; be harmoniously together; treat others equally, respect and care for each other, uninterruptedly.
Namo Manjushri Bodhisattva of Great Wisdom
Manjushri Bodhisattva represents wisdom and rationality. In Buddhism, compassion is the essential and expedients are means. If there is no wisdom and rationality and the so-called compassion and expedience are based only on personal feelings, compassion often incurs misfortunes and convenience often leads to degeneration, bringing endless problems. Therefore, compassion and filial piety must be built on wisdom and rationality.
Namo Universal Worthy Bodhisattva of Great Conduct (Namo Samantabhadra Bodhisattva of Great Conduct)
The Universal WorthyBodhisattva symbolizes actual conduct. If filial piety, compassion, and wisdom cannot be practiced in ones life and the way one behaves, it is meaningless and becomes empty talk. Thus, the Universal Worthy Bodhisattva teaches us to put the teachings of the Earth Store Bodhisattva of Great Vows, the Contemplator of the Worlds Sounds Bodhisattva of Great Compassion, and the Manjushri Bodhisattva of Great wisdom into concrete practice.
Amitabha Buddha is the Buddha of the Western Land of Ultimate Bliss. The name Amitabha is a Sanskrit word which means Infinite Light. He has another name Amitayus, which means Infinite Life. Buddha means enlightenment. Amitabha Buddha symbolizes that in our innate nature and virtue there are infinite wisdom, infinite virtues, capabilities, arts, talent and fortune. Of the infinitely infinite, light and life are the foremost, so he is named Infinite Light and Infinite Life. To greet others by saying Amitabha Buddha is giving others best wishes.
Namo Shakyamuni Buddha
Shakyamuni Buddha is the Buddha of this Saha World and the originator of the Buddhist teachings. All the sutras we have now were spoken by him in his 49 years of teaching. A Buddhas name represents Dharma. Shakyamuni is a Sanskrit word which means "able to be humane"; we should be humane to all the living beings. Muni means purity; we should be pure. The Buddha teaches living beings to be humane, universally loving, pure and undefiled by his name.
Offerings are teaching tools
Incense symbolizes faith. Incense represents the True Fragrance of Precepts and Concentration, so seeing and smelling the incense remind us that the purpose of our study and practice is to cultivate precepts, concentration, and wisdom.
Lamp symbolizes burning ourselves to enlighten others. Everyone should have the spirit of devotion, be willing to sacrifice oneself for others and serve the society. Lamp also represents wisdom and light.
Water When we offer a glass of water to the Buddha, think that our mind is as pure and equal as water.
Flowers and Fruit Offering flowers and fruits means producing good causes and getting good results. They remind us to deeply believe in cause-and-effect, keep a kind heart, speak kind words, do good deeds and be a good person.
Why do we make offerings to Buddha statues?
Making offerings to Buddha statues has two meanings. First, it is to repay gratitude. All beings have bestowed favour on us, among them our teachers have given grace to us most. Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are our teachers, and only when we accept their teachings are we truly awakened and our Dharma-body and wisdom-life realized. Thus, making offerings to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is to commemorate our teachers and to honour the memory of them. The second meaning, to emulate a worthy person when we see one, is most important. It was from an ordinary person that the Buddha began his cultivation to attain Buddhahood, therefore making offerings to the Buddha reminds us to emulate him to become a Buddha. We need to learn the Buddhas intention and aspiration. We should follow the Buddha in every respect, be it daily life, work, and how we respond to things, objects and persons. It is wrong to regard Buddhas and Bodhisattvas as deities, for it is a superstitious belief that turns Buddhism into a religion, making it no longer an education.
There are six paths of rebirth:
1. Heavenly Beings
5. Hungry ghosts
Among them the upper three are good paths and the lower three are evil paths.
Ten Dharma Realms
The Four Holy Spiritual Realms
Buddha () means a fully enlightened person or a wise person, a person who is completely enlightened of the truth of the universe and life, possessing perfect wisdom.
Bodhisattva () literally means one who enlightens sentient beings, enlightening oneself as well as enlightening all the sentient beings. The Bodhisattva brings forth great compassion, and in addition to transforming his own afflictions, he cultivates all the practices to benefit both himself and others, gradually perfecting all the merit and virtue.
Pratyeka-buddha () means one who is enlightened through hearing the Twelve Links spoken by the Buddha.
Srvaka (), a hearer, a term applied to the practitioners who practice the Buddhas teaching, realize the Truths of Suffering, Accumulation, Cessation, and the Way, follow the Eightfold Path, and attain self-liberation from transmigration in the six realms.
The six realms of cyclic existence are heaven, asuras, humans, animals, hungry ghosts, and hell. Among the six realms, heavenly beings ar