This article is inspired by a little discourse by a Thai monk to a group of students who purchased lotus flowers to offer at his temple.
“You all are young and are still studying. Students have to stretch out their hands towards their parents and ask them for money. Next time, don’t waste your money on buying flowers. On the way to the temple, did you see a lotus pond? Set your mind in contemplation of bowing down and offering these lotus flowers to Puja (offer) the Buddha, Puja the Dhamma and Puja the Sangha.”
It is obvious that our thoughts count. From the above advice, they did not have to pluck the flowers. Just by thinking and contemplating, dedicating and offering the lotus flowers (in the pond) to Buddha, Dharma and Sangha would suffice.
“When you wake up in the morning and start washing your face or rinsing your mouth, you should mentally recite “Buddhang Saranang Gachaami, Dhammang Saranang Gachaami, Sangkhang Saranang Gachaami”. (Refuge prayers) Before you consume your rice during breakfast, you should first mentally offer the rice to the Buddha.
Our thought of remembering the triple Gems brings enormous merits. Before eating our meal, we can also make an offering mentally.
When you step out of your door and start your journey, if you happen to see anyone perform a good deed, such as offering alms to monks or helping the elderly cross the road, then you should silently anumodana sadhu (participative rejoicing) with him. If you see any flowers in a basket for sale, or any lotuses in the ponds along the roads, then you should adithan and bucha Phra Rattanatrai (Triple Gems) by reciting “Buddhassa, Dhamassa, Sanghassa Puchemi”.
This advice is in line with one of the four immeasurable thoughts; Rejoicing. When we see a good deed and we rejoice mentally, we also participate in those deeds. Basically, we should generate thoughts of feeling happy that another person is carrying out meritorious deeds. By doing so, we get a free ride.
Don’t forget to dedicate merit to the vendor who is selling the flowers as well as the Rukkha Devas who take care of the lotus ponds. When you sit on the bus or vehicle back home in the evening and see the lights and lamps illuminating the roads, you should mentally offer these to the Triple Gems by reciting “Ohm ak-kee fai faa (fire-electricity), Buddha Puja, Dhamma Puja, Sangha Puja”
From the advice above, we witness how we can constantly develop a mind of appreciative joy. Although the flower vendors earn an income through selling flowers, one is still encouraged to give thanks. This is because they facilitate the devotee’s offerings by making it convenient for people to buy the readily available flowers for prayers.
When we train our mind to be appreciative of others and dedicate merits towards them, we also develop loving kindness.
As we witness in the teaching here; Even street lamps can be used as a contemplative subject for making offerings.
After reaching home, and before going to sleep, you should sit in meditation first. After that when you change from a sitting to lying posture, you should continue reciting your meditation katha such as “Buddhang Saranang Gachaami, Dhammang Saranang Gachaami, Sangkhang Saranang Gachaami” (refuge prayers) until you fall asleep and keep up the same practice after you wake up in the morning.”
The above practice reinforce the power of refuge in the Triple Gems while falling asleep. The refuge in Buddha, Dharma and Sangha brings enormous merits and is suitable for everyone.
In summary, the practice of Buddhism is all about placing our heart and mind in the right directions. We do not really need to spend lots of money purchasing expensive articles and offerings. Nor do we need to purchase elaborate and expensive shrines.
My first mala was made from plastic beads obtained from dismantling my toy abacus.
I used to offer wild flowers at the shrine when I was a student.
If our financial situations allow, we can offer an entire monastery or land for Dharma purpose. If not, simply practice within our means. As time goes by, our merit from our practice may attract better situations into our life. Then we can offer more.