Today is the eight day of the first lunar month, which is the day the Chinese worships the Year God. According to the Chinese culture, this is the Year of Rat, with those born in the years of Horse and Rat predictably facing ill fate for the rest of the year. Those born in the years of rabbit, hen and goat will also face ill fate for the rest of the year but probably not as severe as the first group mentioned. Acho Rinpoche arranged a special session for these two groups of practitioners including their family members to pay respect to the Year of God for blessing and elimination of ill fate.
Acho Rinpoche also did a special prayer for the 2019-nCov. Dharma Sister Chan shared with the group a weird dream she had recently. She dreamt of a huge group of bats attacking human recently, causing deaths. But she did not take this dream seriously and forgot about it soon after. She was now reminded of the dream because of the news reporting on the origin of 2019-nCov virus traced to bats.
Acho Rinpoche told us that the first infection was traced to a seafood market selling wild animals for food. Those eating raw meats from the wild animals are even more prone to infection. Such is the collective karma of the human beings. He stressed again that a practitioner must observe strictly the Five Precepts (no killing, no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no excessive drinking of alcohol and no lying). Particularly, a practitioner must abstain from killing. We are unlikely to kill a human but we could easily commit the killing of animals. A practitioner must not kill any live animal for food. Sakyamuni Buddha only allowed his students to eat three types of “clean” meats: an animal is not killed because of me; the killing is not witnessed by me; and the killing is not heard by me. We may eat such meats under the said circumstances, if given no better choice. He encouraged us to eat vegetarian food if possible. Those killing the animals with cruelty will commit even greater negative karma.
Next, Acho Rinpoche led us in the recitation of a special sutra expounded by Sakyamuni Buddha on the prevention of epidemic and the names of the Buddha. We dedicated the merits to 2019-nCov, praying for the speedy recovery of those falling ill and that the epidemic may end soon.
Sakyamuni Buddha explained to Ananda when the latter asked him about serious epidemics causing deaths. The Buddha explained to Ananda that the cause of such epidemics came from seven evil ghosts and their poisonous breath causing such deaths. However, if we know the names of these seven evil ghosts and read their names aloud, the Buddha will transform into Guhyapada and subdue the evils. The habit of eating meats by human beings will develop a propensity that could be one of the reasons leading us to fall into the Three Lower Realms in future more easily . We should pray to our Root Guru and the Buddhas for blessing and protection, and follow the method taught by the Buddha for treatment of such illness.
Later, Acho Rinpoche shared two stories with us. During the time of Sakyamuni Buddha, there was a natural disaster that occurred which affected the food supply. The people were too poor to afford any meals. The monks who went around for alms could not get any food and even the Buddha himself did not have food for three days. Finally, one of his students sold his monk robe for food and offered it to the Buddha. Buddha rejected this offering and told his student that the monk robe is too important to be sold away or discarded. Only the parents could accept such offering of meal because the parents are even more important to the student than the Buddha. The moral of the story tells us that that our parents are even more valuable to us than the Buddha, and that we ought to be filial to them.
Another story goes like this. In ancient India, one day, blood rain fell from the sky. A prophet told the king that it was a bad omen foretelling a devil being born into this world. The king decreed that any baby born with blood stain on his body and mouth must be arrested and locked in jail. Indeed, the devil grew up eating human beings daily. The king fed him with prisoners. The devil would exhale his breath on a prisoner and kill him, before eating the dead person. In total, the devil ate 72,000 people in his life.
One day, Buddha asked Bodhisattva Maitreya to salvage the devil and he came before the devil. The devil did the same trick on him by exhaling poisonous breath towards Maitreya twice, in vain. The devil was completely awed by the sublime look of Maitreya and suddenly thought to himself, “I did not expect to meet a person who is so accomplished in his spiritual practice in this world!” As a result of this kind thought that dawned on him, the devil immediately died and was reborn into heaven. He was reborn into heavenly realm for six times repeatedly, over an inconceivably long period of time and endowed with all the sensory pleasures enjoyed by beings in such a realm.
Finally, his life in the heavenly realm ended and he was reborn into this human world. He became a Pratyeka Buddah in this life endowed with a golden-colored body. One day, while he was meditating beneath a bodhi-tree, his body emitted golden light. An army of 72,000 soldiers saw a huge golden rock lying underneath a tree and wielded their knives on the golden rock, taking a piece of gold home each. This Pratyeka Buddah willingly accepted his fate and paid his debt because the 72,000 soldiers were just the people whom he ate during that lifetime when he was the devil.
Acho Rinpoche told us that a Bodhisattva fears the cause but an ordinary being fears the effect. Those who attended the group prayer today, anyone who rejoiced at the merit generated by the group prayer would have certainly planted a seed that will bear the fruits of goodness in future. Finally, Acho Rinpoche led us in the recitation of the names of the Buddha and the “Acho Rinpoche’s Long Life Prayer”. We dedicated the merits to the 2019-nCov, praying for the speedy recovery of those fallen ill and the end of the virus outbreak soon.
Reported by Sun-Moon KFS on 1-2-2002
Treatment of Epidemics, as advised by Sakyamuni Buddha
At a time, while Sakyamuni Buddha was surrounded by his entourage at an assembly in Śrāvastī, Ananda knelt before the Buddha and asked, “Buddha, when the world is faced with a wide-spread epidemic that burnt like fire which kills many, how could the people in this world protect themselves from such epidemic?”
Sakyamuni Buddha said, “Listen carefully. I will explain this to you. Such epidemic is caused by seven evil ghosts, who exhale poisonous breath harming the people. When a person is infected, he will suffer from headache, cold and fever, joints pain, and unspeakable sufferings. If there is any good man or woman who knows the name of the seven evil ghosts, they will be spared of such agony. Recite the following mantra:
Namo Buddhaya. Namo Dharmaya. Namo Sanghaya. Namo Seven Buddhas in the past. Namo Buddhas in the ten directions. Namo Bodhisattvas. Namo all sentient beings who hear my name – Guhyapada (金刚密迹). Man-tuo-lo Gui (漫多罗鬼), A-qie-shi Gui (阿伽尸鬼), Ni-qie-shi Gui (尼伽尸鬼), A-qie-ye Gui (阿伽耶鬼), Po-luo-li Gui (波罗利鬼), Po-luo-ni Gui (波罗尼鬼), A-pi-luo Gui (阿毘罗鬼). Om. Wu Lun Ni. Po Cha. Svaha (唵。乌轮尼。泼咤。娑诃。)
Sakaymuni Buddha told Ananda, “Thus, any good man or woman who knows the names of the seven evil ghosts will be shunned by these ghosts. These ghosts will not dare harm such people. People or object contaminated by such poisonous breath will be cleared of the contamination. Those protected by Guhyapada will be safe and will be free of troubles.
When Sakyamuni Buddha finished expounding this sutra, the assembly comprising the eight heaven and dragon families and all those present accepted the teachings with great joy.