An Incense of the Mind Is Also A Flower of the Mind
The reason for the Ancestor Commemoration is most important because the practice of Ancestor Commemoration is the virtue of filial piety. It has no differentiation in religion, ethnic groups, skin color, time and space. We cannot separate ourselves from filial piety for a second or a minute. We should have this devotion at all times, not just during a certain season in a year. We must practice this Ancestor Commemoration season every moment in our daily lives. Hence, to remind our children as well as ourselves the virtues of filial piety and gratitude, we cannot lack the ceremony of Ancestor Commemoration that has been passed on for many generations.
During this Ancestor Commemoration, we passionately reminisce the present and previous hardships of Buddhas, Patriarchs, teachers, ancestors, grandparents, parents, etc..
There is nothing more marvelous and profound than our presence here and now reminding ourselves of the filial piety and of the gratitude for our births and creations. Henceforth, together we praise and extend our appreciation during this ceremony.
To remind each other:
What is more precious and more beautiful than the pious acts of the children toward the parents? Speaking of such reverence, we cannot help from mentioning the Venerable Muc Kien Lien or Maudgalyayana (Sanskrit), one of the ten prominent disciples of Buddha. He is an exemplar of the great filial piety forever remaining in those devoted children.
We all know who gave us this body, blood, bones, teeth, hair,…, who nurtured and raised us with hardships until we reached adulthood, and then, at such time, who constantly worried for our well-beings and our future, such as marriage and career. As the parents complete their responsibility with their children, they continue to take care of the grandchildren. This labor of love displays their utmost loyalty and generosity.
By understanding this, we should be able to see the Way right in front of our eyes, no need to look elsewhere. There are no substantial acts sufficient to repay the grace of the parents but also the grandparents, teachers, countries, Buddha and all beings. This is a great difficulty in trying to fulfill one’s duty of filial piety. However, with great effort and true heart, we can complete our duty as long as we follow the footsteps of the Bodhisattva Muc Kien Lien. That is, regardless of the degree of hardship or danger and with all our might and heart, while we are returning the merit to our present parents, we can practice morality diligently, and soon we can reach enlightenment and liberation. At such moment, we already repay satisfactorily to our parents, ancestor, countries, Buddha and all beings. To repay by ways of monetary, materials, fame, respectfulness, love are not complete. The return of merit only perfected when we practice the Way to the absoluteness. This does not mean that we must become a priest but only depending on each person’s circumstance and effort. Great practice yields great result, little practice yields minute result. Whichever righteous methods we choose to practice, eventually, we can still obtain the ultimate goal.
Conclusively, from this practice of filial piety, we can take a step forward to transform this ethics to the Way of liberation, which is also the Way of Enlightenment.
It is only human that are able to obtain enlightenment. With the complete six sense organs: eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind, we can use them to liberate and enlighten ourselves. Thus, this physical being represents a boat transporting us from the illusory shore to the enlightened shore. This means that we can use this very physical being to practice until we eradicate all delusion because the end of delusion means enlightenment. Upon enlightenment, we liberate ourselves from suffering and the cycle of life and death.
Once we liberated ourselves, we can liberate others, including all parents and all beings. This is because within the realm of the enlightened One, the dharma world is universal.
“One is All, All is One”
With our unified mind of purity, we are a marvelous incense of the mind and, at the same time, we are also a flower of the mind. We use this incense of the mind, this flower of the mind to respectfully offer to the Ancestor Commemoration today and forever.HOMAGE TO THE BODHISATTVA MUC KIEN LIEN Presented during Ancestor Commemoration held on Sept. 19, 2004 at Sung Nghiem Zen Center