In the Hall of the Bodhisattvas
The first thing to do upon entering the Hall is
make an Offering. This may simply be cash (or "treasure"), or
one of the other "Ten Offerings."
There is a list posted in the Bodhisattva Hall
detailing these gifts and the benefits to the giver; I have improvised on these
some for the Intention section. In the pamphlet "Questions and
Answers," there is a somewhat revised version of the list posted in the
- Incense: To purify the
atmosphere as well as the mind.
- Flowers: To clean and rid
our body of what is unpleasant and give pleasure to those around us.
- Lamps: To dispel the
darkness, the way that wisdom dispels ignorance
- Soaps: To soothe and soften
our skin and prevent pain from diseases
- Fruits: To fulfill our
wishes and hasten our path toward Buddhahood.
- Tea: To freshen our breath
and distance us from worries.
- Food: To extend the
longevity of our lives and enhance our articulation skills.
- Treasure: To distance us
from poverty and provide us with wealth and good fortune.
- Beads: To satisfy our
career and dignify our appearance.
- Clothes: To make us look
magnificent and to provide us with security.
You might spend some time trying to figure out
how flowers "clean our body" or how food "enhances our
articulation skills." Have fun!
I am not sure where this list of Ten Offerings
comes from; it may be unique to this Temple. Another, more common list, is
similar but not identical:
- jeweled parasols
- banners and canopies
- fruit and food
- joined palms
The variations are interesting.
One more thing about offerings: You can
purchase a formal Offering tray in the Bodhisattva Hall. Turn right as you
enter, and look to the alcove at the front of the room; if no one is staffing
the kiosk, check at the desk in the Hall, or in the Information Center.
You may choose to leave the Offering at the Temple (it may be re-used); others
ask for a bag to take the Offerings home.
Enter the Bodhisattva Hall. If your Offering is cash, place it in the Donation Box, or hand it to the monastic seated at the right side of the Hall. If your Offering is flowers, food, tea, or other tangibles, walk forward and place it carefully on the "altar" table at the far side of the Hall. Step back, make a profound bow, and then recite one of these sentences, depending on which gift is presented:
Let the sweet smell of this
incense purify the atmosphere and the mind.
Let these flowers give pleasure to all who see them.
As Wisdom dispels ignorance, let the light of this/these
lamp(s) dispel the darkness.
Let this soap bring comfort, ease, and good health.
As this fruit symbolizes the product of the tree, let us bring forth good fruit in all we do.
Let this tea bring calmness, relaxation, and freedom from worry to all who drink it.
Let this food bring strength to those who eat it, that they may continue in good works.
Let this treasure be used to advance the work of this place in bringing the Dharma to the West.
Let these beads serve as a reminder to focus on cultivation.
Let these clothes bring modesty and comfort to any who wear them.