So far, pagodas and temples have presented us with too many statues. Although those images have been created for the veneration of the Buddhas, there has been some abuse. From now on we should not create more of them. This does not mean that we are trying to defame the worshipping in temples and pagodas. We must respect the way of worshipping in the pagodas by the priests. However, for those who practice religion at home there is no need to create more images. Let the worshipping be simple, and let our belief come from our heart instead of aiming at ostentatious appearances.
Until now, we have always worshipped the relics left by our Master Buddha of Tay An. But recently many people thought that the red color we used to worship has been preempted by those who work against the rules and the ideal of our Buddha. That was the reason for our adopting the Brown color. Furthermore, the monks have used brown color to symbolize their taking the holy orders and that color is the association of all other colors so that it can be the symbol of mankind harmony without distinction of races or individuals. That is why we use it at the place of worship to represent Buddhas sublimity.
If there is no room inside the house, a Heavens altar with an incense-brazier is sufficient, because religious endeavor consists in improving oneself rather than in apparent worshipping. For those who have Buddhas statues in the house, it will be all right to keep it that way. Paper images should not be kept and should be burned. For those who are compelled to live with other people who do not take the vows or who belong to a different religion or whose house is so small that there is no room for worshipping, they can pray to Buddha in a low voice when worshipping time comes.
As regards the way of worshipping Buddha, only fresh water, flowers and incense sticks should be used. Fresh water represents cleanliness, the flower represents purity, and the incense is used to freshen the air. No other offering is otherwise required. One can use any available food for the worshipping of ones ancestors.
Besides the cult of Buddha, our ancestors, our parents, and the nations heroes, we should not worship any spirit whose origins we do not know well.
One only prostrates oneself before Buddha, ancestors, grandparents, parents and national heroes. As regards to the others, let us put an end to the prostration before the living. Even to our Master we only bow.
Before doing anything within our religion or in society, we must think it over very carefully and not do crazy and absurd things. First, we should not take advantage by relying on the powerful. Secondly, we should not merely rely on the help of saints and gods. Thirdly, we should not count on the support of our Master. We must always remember Buddhas Law of Cause and Effect: if the cause is perfect, the effect is then perfect too. Those who act so crazily without thinking carefully so that they fail and encounter difficulties and suffering, blame afterwards the powerfuls for not having saved them or reproach our Master and Buddha for not having blessed them. Such so erroneous thinking is pitiful.
Let each of us use our intelligence to understand our religions principles or our Masters teachings and not rely on blind faith while we havent inquired adequately. Only by doing so shall we be able to progress on the path of virtue.
It is hoped that the above explained elementary notions will be carefully pondered and put into action so as to wipe off foolish superstitions of a small number of people in our religion, and so that the spirit of Virtue and Peace of Buddhism can be rapidly developed.
When our grand-parents or parents die, we will keep the ancient mourning customs with some modifications as follows:
Now that we have taken refuge in religion, the prayers for the deliverance of the deads soul from suffering in the next world by the co-religionists must be sincere. We should not send for sorcerers or wizards..., and burn votive paper because this is a waste of money. We must realize that the body is destructible and it should not be buried discreetly without letting it decompose because this is harmful to the living. As to filial piety, it should be shown during the deads lifetime and it should spring from the religious life one leads, from the sincerity in praying and not from the fact that we summon an outsider to say the prayers. One has only to set up an altar in the middle of the house or in the open air for the praying and go on burying the dead discreetly.
As regards worshipping our grand-parents and parents, we can offer anything available on anniversary days. One is free to invite people to these occasions. We can do everything deemed to be simple and convenient but not money wasting.
HOW TO PRAY FOR THE DEAD
Each one stands before Buddhas altar praying:
``Hail our Master Buddha Shakyamuni (three times) and ``Hail Buddha Amida (three times).
Kowtowing: Buddha, Buddha Master, now I sincerely pray for the named .......(name of the dead) ......who thanks to Merciful Buddha who has saved his soul from the path of error, has been able to go to Paradise.
At home as well as during the funerals, we should walk in ranks, both hands joined while praying: ``Hail the Budhistic Paradise, Hail the multitude of Buddhas under the same Most Merciful Name and Title that leads the soul of the dead, Buddha Amida (if the dead is a monk, the last sentence will be: Leads our Master, Buddha Amida.)
NOTE: The mourning family should not cry, but pray quietly for the dead because crying would hinder the deliverance of the deads soul from suffering in the next world
The parents duty is to choose a suitable spouse for their child by careful observation of the couples characters. Let us not compel our children too much as if it would cause them miserable later, but let us not give them too much freedom as their lack of experience would lead them to debauche.
The custom of demanding matrimonial dowry from the bridegrooms family should be eliminated. The parents of the two parties should not act difficult towards each other. Also, there should not be big feast or pompous celebrations the cost of which only impoverish us.