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Blog » Sweet Dews Of Dharma Talks » 2009 » Earth Store Sutra, a sutra about cause and effect, and filial piety

Earth Store Sutra, a sutra about cause and effect, and filial piety2013-01-10


A Dharma talk given by DM Heng Tsai
English translation by Huali Yuan


It has been six days since we recited Earth Store Sutra, you may be quite familiar with the sutra, and some of you recite it every day, maybe several times per day, so you know quite well of the meaning of this sutra. It instructs us to understand the principles of cause and effect; it is not only a sutra of precepts, but also a sutra of filial piety.


In the fourth chapter, it mentions that the retribution of killing is short lifespan. The Venerable Master often said that killing refers to living beings not only outside, but also inside of our body, for example, if you frequently get angry, then it is a means of killing living beings within yourself! Because by doing so, your liver gets hurt and the cells in your body will die, and you will get sick quite often, as a result, you will undergo the retribution of a short lifespan.
Next let’s talk about stealing. If you steal, then you will get the retribution of being poor. For example, there is a family who are very poor, say they have only 100 dollars left, and if you robbed him of the 100 dollars, then he would have nothing left; As a retribution, you will undergo the suffering of being poor. The Venerable master mentioned that Venerable Maudgalyayana’s mother got the retribution of being a hungry ghost was because she had been stingy and unwilling to help others. On the contrary, if we are willing to use our belongings to help others, we will be rewarded with blissful blessings.
The seventh chapter is “benefits for the living and the dead”, not only people who are alive, but also the dead will get the benefits, which can be taken as a sutra of filial piety. In this chapter, it mentions that if our parents or relatives passed away, then we should help him create merit and virtue in 49 days, either by reciting sutras or by reciting the Buddha’s name. In other words, try to do as many good deeds as you could in 49 days, such as donating money, making offerings to Triple Jewel, printing sutras. By virtue of these good deeds, not only the deceased will receive the benefits, people who are alive will receive even more benefits, therefore, we should try our best to do good deeds on behalf of the deceased in 49 days. If you have financial difficulties, then whatever is affordable to you would be fine, not necessarily using a lot of money. At the very least, do not lose your temper over legacy, since if you get angry, the spirit of the deceased will not rest; therefore, you should stay harmony, refrain from killing under any circumstance, eat only vegetables, only by doing so, you can help the deceased.
Because King Yama makes judgments every seven days in 49 days. If the dead had done great wholesome deeds when he was alive, he would be sent to a great wholesome place. If he had done neither good nor evil deeds, he would linger around, therefore if we people who are alive help him create merit and virtue, he will get reborn in a better place; If you do not create merit and virtue on his behalf but kill living beings instead, then you will create offense for him and make his offenses even more serious. The Venerable Master said, it would be better to do meritorious things within 49 days; after 49 days, it helps, but within 49 days is the best.
Because the deceased undergoes sufferings in the hell or as a hungry ghost; but people who are alive do not know. So we should try to help the deceased, so that he can leave suffering and attain bliss. If you help him do so, after you passed away, your children will help you the same way, therefore you should be filial. Here is a story: When a father and son were about to bury the grandfather, the father casually wrapped the body with a straw mat, lightly threw off the mountain. So when the father was dying, he asked the son: "If I passed away, how would you do?" The child said: "Just like what you did to Grandpa!" So we should act as a role model to for the children. If you are not filial to the seniors, and refuse to do any merit on behalf of them, then after you passed away, your posterities will do the same to you.
We Buddhist should not burn paper made to resemble money to the deceased. Usually people think that the deceased can use paper money. Actually it is not case. The Venerable Master said, “If it is the case, then Chinese people burn paper money, but Americans do not, does that mean American ghosts have no money to use?” Therefore, do not burn paper money, paper airplane, or burn paper lotus flower, by doing so, you are wasting time, money and contributing to air pollution. It is better to do other meaningful things, such as reciting sutras, bowing to Buddhas or reciting the Buddha’s name, which is more pure. If you do not know how to recite sutras, then just recite the holy name of Amitabha Buddha on behalf of the deceased, and transfer merit and virtue to him, so that he can get reborn in the land of ultimate bliss.