Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Electric Lamp Offerings

In all old Buddhist text, the lamp we offer at our altar or in monasteries was the Butter Lamps, a lamp lighted using real cow butter. Ironically, we hardly offer real butter today (with few exceptions). It was substituted by Martee or commonly known as Dalda. The lamp with dalda can’t be qualified as butter lamp, it can be easily called as Dalda lamp. You see during Duezang (holy days), many people visit monasteries and were seen only carrying Dalda.

Further, some oil has now flooded the market that is not edible but can be used only for lighting. This type of lighting oil is not recommended as we are offering what is not edible.

Now, why butter was chosen in the first place as light offering? Well the real butter lamps hardly emit smoke, light perfectly and emit pleasant smell. It is very critical in monasteries to avoid smoke emitting substance as its usage in long run can damage statues and arts painted on the wall and ceiling of the monasteries.
Today we are in an age where offering of electric lamps is spreading and we cannot say that these cannot function as offering lamps. For it is taught that the light of luminous jewels is the best light offering. This being so, there is no reason why electric lights cannot be used in place of butter lamps. Not only that, but they also seem better in some ways, as there are none of the drawbacks of insects such as moths dying in the flames. 

The Motivation when First Offering Lamps 
When lighting the lamp, you should think, “Based on this offering, may all the darkness of ignorance in myself and all other beings be dispelled! May we swiftly attain the stainless wisdom which correctly illuminates all that is to be accepted and rejected!” 

Recite this:
May this vessel become as vast as the entire billionfold universe!
May its wick grow as large as Sumeru, the king of mountains!
May the oil within become as vast as the great ocean at the edge of the world!
And may a billion such lamps appear before each and every buddha!
Their light banishing the darkness of ignorance everywhere,
From the very peak of existence down to the lowest hell, may they reveal all the realms of buddhas and bodhisattvas throughout the ten directions!
oṃ vajrāloke āḥ hūṃ

When you make a Electric lamp offering, it is best if you recite the the followingaspiration prayers. 
༄༅། །གློག་སྒྲོན་སྨོན་ཚིག་བཞུགས།
Aspiration for Electric Lamps
by Gungtang Tenpé Wangchuk
(Gungthang Tshang Jigme Tenpe Wangchug 1926-2000)

nyidé ö tar sal la münsel shying
Bright like the light of the sun and the moon,
tsikpé dri dang duwé nokpa mé
Dispelling darkness without burning smells or smoke,
tsang shying yi ong lok gi drönmé di
This electric lamp, so clean and charming,
gyalwa sé dangché la güpé bul
I offer with respect to the buddhas and their heirs.

tong sal chöying kha lé jungpa yi
Within the expanse of dharmadhātu, empty and clear,
dang sal ma dré yeshe ö bar wa
The light of wisdom blazes forth, undiluted and pure.
tingdzin trul gyi kukpé lok ö di
May this electric light, conjured by the mystery of samādhi,
marik khorwé tsawa shyom gyur chik
Vanquish all ignorance, the root of cyclic existence.

ཅེས་གློག་བཟོའི་སྒྲོན་མེ་འབུལ་བྱེད་སྨོན་ཚིག་ཏུ། ༧གུང་ཐང་བསྟན་པའི་དབང་ཕྱུག་ཏུ་འབོད་པའི་བྲིས་པ་དགེ།
These words of aspiration for offering electronic lights was composed by the one called Gungtang Tenpe Wangchuk. Virtue!
| Translated by Lowell Cook, 2019.

The Benefits of Offering Butter Lamps 
It is taught that the particular benefits of offering butter lamps (Which have same benefits for electric lamp) are threefold: dispelling the darkness of ignorance in yourself and all others; causing the light of wisdom to shine ever more vast and clear; and accomplishing swiftly the attainment of the higher perceptions. 
Also, in the Karmavibhaga sutra, the benefits are described as tenfold: 

·      You will become like a butter lamp for the world. 
·      Your vision will never be impaired. 
·      Your physical eyes will become purified. 
·      The wisdom that discerns virtue and non-virtue will emerge. 
·      The darkness of ignorance and stupidity will be dispelled. 
·      You will attain the light of wisdom. 
·      For as long as you are in samsara, you will never remain in darkness. You will be reborn in the higher realms. 
·      You will soon attain parinirvana. 
These are the ten benefits. 

Decorate your Altar with different type of electrical lighting, it has more beneficial.

Cultivate Generous Thought and practice giving gifts to the Sanghas.

The Buddha once explained that it is a meritorious act even to throw away the water after washing one's plate with the generous thought:...