For the convenience of lay people in modern times, Fo Guang Shan Temple of Toronto scheduled regular Dharma service on Sunday mornings. Dharma service is the best time to attain the joy of the Dharma and is meeting in taking the Dharma as fellowship, as teachers, as the path, and as joy.
Lighting lamps has become a method of making offerings since the Buddha’s time. Among the Ten Offerings (incense, flowers, lamps, ointments, fruit, tea, food, treasures, beads, and clothing), lamps are essential as they symbolize radiance and wisdom.
Because the minds of sentient beings are hindered by the afflictions of ignorance, one therefore lights lamps before the Buddhas so that any darkness within can be illuminated by both this light and the wisdom-radiance of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, giving birth to a wise solution and the perfection of our own wisdom.
“As we live, we must strive for a life of value. Buddhism is different from philosophy, for it does not only deal with knowledge and theory. Rather, Buddhism calls for devout faith, developed morality, and most importantly: spiritual practice.”
– Venerable Master Hsing Yun
The Amitabha Sutra is greatly influential in Chinese Buddhism. Its practice has been highly emphasized in traditional monasteries and modern Buddhist temples. It introduces the wondrous Western Pure Land of the Amitabha Buddha and highlights the importance to be reborn there for one’s path to the final enlightenment.
The Diamond Sutra is one of the most important sutras in Chinese Buddhism. It is called Diamond Sutra because the Buddha’s teachings within it are like a diamond that cuts away all delusion, reveals reality, and brings people to enlightenment.
The four core teachings are:
The essential teachings of the Diamond Sutra are prajñā (wisdom) and emptiness. Once we thoroughly understand emptiness, this understanding will benefit us and allow us to be successful in whatever we do, in both worldly and spiritual pursuits.
The Lotus Sutra's Universal Gate Chapter on Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva introduces the compassionate visage of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva (Chi: Guanyin), who has been a source of inspiration and devotion for Buddhists and non-Buddhists for centuries.
This short chapter of sutra, chanted and memorized throughout East Asia, is believed to be strong protection of our body and mind.
The Medicine Buddha Sutra narrates how the Buddha, in response to Manjusri Bodhisattva’s request, spoke to highly cultivated monastics, bodhisattvas, kings, and magistrates concerning the meritorious virtues of the Medicine Buddha’s Eastern Pure Land of Crystal Radiance, and detailed the twelve great vows that the Medicine Buddha made when he was a bodhisattva.
This sutra emphasizes the liberation of sentient beings from illnesses, suffering, disasters, and misery, as well as the acquisition of prosperity and happiness in this lifetime. It is a Dharma treasure for solving the practical problems of life.