人天共欽的聖誕A Holy Birthday Celebrated by Mankind & the Heavens
I have said before that in this mortal world, birthdays should not be celebrated because that is the day our own mothers suffered greatly to give birth to us. But there are exceptions to this. For example, we should celebrate people who contributed positively to their society, country or mankind on the whole. There is an even more special exception to be made, and that is for spiritual cultivators who have achieved Enlightenment, and continuously bring benefits to all sentient beings. Among this group of extraordinary individuals, there is One whom I have immense respect for and who is my role model. He is One whom all Buddhists are familiar with: the famed Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva.
The Great Vow
Along with Namo Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva (or more commonly known as Guan Yin Bodhisattva), Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva has a very deep affinity with the sentient beings. Those who read His Sutra would know that He advocates the virtue of filial piety, and emphasizes that no one is spared from the long arms of Karma. And do you know that He chose to deliver salvation to sentient beings in the most filthy of places, and made the Great Vow of “not attaining Buddhahood unless Hell is completely emptied of suffering beings”! Think about it, how can the Hell ever be empty? If there are still suffering beings in Hell, this great Bodhisattva will forever be there and not attain Buddhahood. We would name such a vow as a Great Vow. Would you make such a vow?
8 Benefits of Paying Homage to Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva
Thus both Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva and Namo Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva are exactly the same, with similar Great Vows. Come the 30th Day of the 7th Lunar Month (12 September 2015), we celebrate the birthday of Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva. Are you aware that His Birthday only occur once every 2 or 3 years? He always put Himself at the last, on the last day of the 7th Lunar Month. It is recorded in the Sutra that if you are tired of being a female in this lifetime, and do not want to go through again the sufferings associated with it, like child birth, monthly physiological pain, unequal society standing, etc, you can make an offering to Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, pay homage to Him, and recite His name or mantra. You will achieve rebirth as a male in your next life. Furthermore, in this lifetime, your descendants shall have great wisdom and intellect, achieving high academic standing. His Sutra also states clearly the Ten Benefits of paying homage and respect to Him, as well as reciting His name and mantra.
I shall list down a few of these benefits:
1. Aristocratic appearance
2. Sound and undisturbed sleep.
3. Quick resolution of legal troubles
4. Protection from the non-humans
5. Abundance of food and clothing
6. Physical vitality, etc.
Multiply Your Merits When You Recite His Name or Mantra on His Birthday!
Thus, in this upcoming birthday of Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, you can do this at home: Take out the pictorial card of the Bodhisattva (if you have one), cleanse yourself in a bath and observe the vegetarian precept, or at least wash your face and gargle your mouth. After which you can respectfully recite the name of Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, “南無地藏王菩薩 (Namo Ti Zang Wang Pu Sa)”, for a total of 1080 times or at least 108 times, and dedicate the merits to your ancestors, deceased relatives, yourself, or your friends or relatives who are ill or hospitalized. The merits will enable them to recover from the illnesses and be discharged from the hospital.
Do not miss out on this auspicious day as it is hard to come by. It does not occur every year. I also invite you to have a greater understanding on the Great Vows of Namo Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva. Everyone can radiate the most sincere bodhicitta from your hearts, for your own benefits, as well as those of your descendants and ancestors. Everyone can attain this benefits. I wish everyone to achieve Enlightenment as soon as possible, be liberated from all sufferings and enjoy eternal bliss. Namo Amithaba.