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Verse 34-2: Making offerings

Verse 34-2: Making offerings

Part of a series of talks on the 41 Prayers to Cultivate Bodhicitta from the Avatamsaka Sutra (the Flower Ornament Sutra).

  • Repaying the kindness of the Three Jewels by making offerings
  • Giving with sincerity, even to ordinary beings

41 Prayers to cultivate bodhicitta: Verse 34-2 (download)

“May all beings be unkind to wrong views.”
This is the prayer of the bodhisattva when seeing someone not repaying kindness.

We have been talking about repaying the kindness of others and I was thinking that when we were talking about the kindness of the Three Jewels, one of the ways in which we repay their kindness is making offerings. We make offerings not only to create merit but as a way of repaying kindness. When we make offerings, we are expressing something and of course the best way of repaying the kindness is by putting the teachings into practice. That’s how we repay the kindness.

I would think that when we are giving gifts to ordinary people too, we should really look at our motivation. When we give a gift, is it so that the other person is going to like us? Are we doing it as a way of repaying their kindness? With a sincere mind? Not with a mind that feels obligated to repay their kindness, because that’s not very sincere. The mind is not being very generous at all is it? But to give a gift with the mind that sees the others good qualities, respects their good qualities, and in the case of other sentient beings with our mind seeing their kindness and wanting to repay their kindness. That is a very different way of giving a gift. Because that’s how we ordinarily do. Ordinarily it’s often out of obligation and it’s often because someone is going to like us. I give you a present and then you think I am a nice person, or I will give you a present and then you’ll give me one. Hopefully which costs more then the one I gave you! Those are not sincere ways of giving. It’s an interesting thing for us to look at. How we make an offering, how we give a gift and what is the mind motivating that as an expression of repaying kindness.

Audience: Flowers and things that are put on the altar and offered to the Buddha. Those can’t be taken from the altar and offered to you can they?

Venerable Thubten Chodron: No somebody put some flower petals in front of my door last week. Generally I don’t have flowers. If something has been offered to the Triple Gem, it is not then normally offered to somebody else. And also if something has been offered to the Triple Gem, you don’t normally spread it on the floor so that someone has to walk over it. You don’t step over things that belong to the Buddha.

Venerable Thubten Chodron

Venerable Chodron emphasizes the practical application of Buddha’s teachings in our daily lives and is especially skilled at explaining them in ways easily understood and practiced by Westerners. She is well known for her warm, humorous, and lucid teachings. She was ordained as a Buddhist nun in 1977 by Kyabje Ling Rinpoche in Dharamsala, India, and in 1986 she received bhikshuni (full) ordination in Taiwan. Read her full bio.