December 5 : Dedicating for the Benefit of All Sentient Beings

The next verse of the dedication prayer is: “By the merit of this generosity, may the Naga kings, gods having faith in the Dharma, leaders who support religious freedom, benefactors, and others living in the area live long, enjoy good health and prosperity, and attain lasting happiness.” Nagas are a type of sentient being with a snake-like body. They tend to live in water or places near water like swamps. They are very intelligent and very clean and tidy. Not everyone can see them, but you want to have a good relationship with them. Nagarjuna is so-called because he went to the land of the Nagas to redeem the perfection of wisdom sutras, as the story goes.

“Gods having faith in the Dharma” refers to gods of the desire realm and form realm, who often like to listen to the teachings of the Buddha. There is a prayer you can do before teachings where you invite all the gods to come and listen. My Theravada friends say the little white dots that show up in photographs we take at the Abbey are gods. I am not always a big believer in these kinds of things, but anyone who has ever spent some time in our forest will agree there is some very special energy there. I think it is because of the gods and other spirits who share the space with us. We told them what we were doing when we moved there and made offerings to them before we broke ground for Chenrezig Hall. Regardless of whether we can see them or not, it is good to take care of other living beings rather than think, we, the human beings, are the rulers and everyone else just has to go along.

We dedicate to the welfare of all leaders and officials who believe in religious freedom and diversity since it is incredibly important in a multi-cultural society for people to be able to practise their religion without persecution. “Benefactors” refers to all the people who help the Abbey in many ways — monetarily, by volunteering, or through prayer and moral support. “Others living in the area” refers to our neighbours — those with whom we share the town, the air, and other natural resources. We have been able to establish wonderful relationships with people in our community even though we may have very different political ideas. Freedom from illness and injuries, long lives, and material prosperity are some of the things that everyone wants, and we also wish them the mental satisfaction of feeling content with their lives. “Lasting happiness” refers to full awakening, and creating a karmic connection with our benefactors so we can continue leading them on the path in future lives.

The final verse is a very famous one from Nagarjuna’s “Precious Garland”: “Due to this virtue, may all beings complete the collections of merit and wisdom. May they attain the two Buddha bodies resulting from merit and wisdom.” Here we wish that the virtue that our benefactors helped us to create, will help all beings attain the form and truth bodies of a Buddha by practising the method aspect of the path (renunciation and bodhicitta) and the wisdom aspect (realising emptiness). 

“365 Gems of Wisdom” e-book is out now!