About Shang Rinpoche
Rinpoche’s spiritual pursuit began at a very young age and has spanned many years, in which he received lineages of all four major Vajrayana Buddhist schools—Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug—from numerous lineage holders and great yogis of our time in India, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. Rinpoche has acquired all the necessary empowerments, transmissions, and teachings to become a fully qualified Vajrayana master. Furthermore, Rinpoche is a recognized tulku (reincarnate lama), authenticated by eminent lineage holders and distinguished masters of our time.
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More on Generosity
In Mahayana, the practice of generosity is a crucial part in emulating the ways of the Bodhisattva. Generosity takes many different forms including the offering of body, speech and mind. Whether it is material or metaphysical, making offerings is instrumental in accumulating merits. It is mentioned in a Buddhist sutra called “Sutra of Cause and Effects” that merits created by generosity or karma by habits of frugality in our previous life are direct causes of our wealth or the lack thereof in this life.
During Buddha Shakyamuni’s time, a couple was living not far from Buddha. They were miserably poor and felt especially sad when they could not join the affluent in alms-giving. The couple often discussed this, “This is because we did not accumulate sufficient merits in our past life. Look at us now! We have absolutely nothing to offer to the Buddha.” The couple got very upset and broke down in tears.
One day, an idea dawned on the wife and she told her husband, “There is actually a way. You could give me away to a wealthy family to work as a maid in exchange for money which you could use to do alms-giving.” On hearing this, the husband said, “I could also work as a servant.” It took a few days before the pair found work at two rich households and could begin to donate everything they received as offerings to the Buddha and the sangha. It just so happened that the King had prepared a lot of fine food to offer Buddha and his disciples. When the King learned of the story of the couple, he was so moved that not only did he let the pair go before him to greet and make offerings, he also granted the couple a fortune. With the money, the couple was able to buy back their freedom and spend the rest of their life focusing on spiritual practice. This story is an example of the benefits of the practice of true generosity.
Further in the past, during Buddha Vipashyin’s time, there was a bhikkhu named Yir. Whenever he could afford it, Yir would buy the best garments, bed sheets, and fine food to offer the Buddha and his disciples. He also knew that Buddha Vipashyin often walked barefoot and so, on the footpaths that Buddha traveled, he hired workers to lay down warm and smooth stone blocks. Moreover, he also had many beautiful trees and flowers planted along the path where Buddha would pass. As a result of these virtuous deeds, this bhikkhu was able to travel without touching the ground for the following few kalpas.
Buddha Shakymuni also often created opportunities for alms-giving. Once he appeared to be suffering from a back pain and he told one of his disciples, “Please go to town and fetch me some warm water and herbs.” On his way, he met a rich, famous but frugal person called Biseluoxian who was reluctant to make any donations. The World-Honored One, through his supernatural ability, knew that this person was going to die in a few days. Because he did not believe in the Law of Cause and Effect and had incurred a lot of negative karma, he was destined to suffer in hell after death. The Buddha taught and moved Biseluoxian to become a faithful follower. He then made an offering of a fragrant bath to the Buddha. After taking the bath, Buddha’s back pain was cured immediately. A few days later, Biseluoxian passed away as predicted but because of the merits from offering fragrant bath to the Buddha, he passed on to the heavenly realm instead, avoided from being reborn in the lower three realms for 60 kalpas.
In “Sutra of Forty-Two Chapters Divulged by the Buddha”, Buddha Shakyamuni said, “The merits of offering food to a hundred ordinary people is smaller than offering to one person who often performs charitable deeds. Similarly, offering to a thousand ordinary people gives smaller merit than treating one person who upkeeps the Five Precepts……” In “Sanghata Sutra”, it is said that there is much greater merit in making offerings to one anagamin (non-returner) than to all the sakrdagamins (once-returners) in the galaxy of a billion world systems; making offerings to one arhat produces much greater merit than to all the anagamins (non-returners) of the galaxy of a billion systems; making offerings to one pratyeka-buddha produces much greater merit than to all the arhats of the galaxies of a billion systems; making offerings to one bodhisattva who has pure aspirations produces much greater merit than making offerings to all the prateyaka-buddhas in the galaxy of a billion systems.
From the above stories, I hope that we have come to understand the critical importance of generosity and making offerings. If we are able to compliment our practice with generosity, a lot of our obstacles will automatically be transformed and our merits will multiply.
From Shang Longrik Gyatso