Kinh Vu Lan – Ullambana Sutra

Address to Our Ancestors
(This address can be read on Year-end or New Year ceremony or Anniversary)

Respected Ancestors,

We your descendants at the occasion of the (Year-end or Parents Day..), come with sincere respect before your altar.

We go back to our source and ask you, our ancestors, to be our witness.

We are aware that trees have their roots and water has its source. We know that you, our ancestors, are our roots and we are your continuation. We are determined to receive your cultural and spiritual heritage, to conserve and to develop what is good, beautiful and true in it.

We are also determined to realize the aspirations which you have handed on to us, transforming your suffering and opening up for future generations the way to a peaceful, unburden some and meaningful life. We are determined to help build a society in which people are not always busy, where little is consumed, and there is plenty of time to live with nature, look after nature, bring happiness to, care for, and smile to each other.

This is the moment of commemorate. We promise to let go of all our anger, sadness, and resentment, and to forgive, love, and accept each other. We know that only by doing this, we really express our feelings of gratitude and loyalty towards you.

Please be witness to our sincerity as we offer incense, flowers, fruit and tea. All these things are offered with our loyalty and heartfelt sincerity. Please be our protectors and the protectors of our children and grandchildren so that we have enough health, faith, and joy to be able to continue your work.


– Translated into Chinese from Sanskrit by
Tripitaka Master Dharmaraksha

Thus, it was heard (by me): At one time, the Buddha dwelt at Sravasti, in the Jeta grove in the garden of Anathapindaka.

Mahamudgalyayana, having just attained the Six Spiritual Penetrations 1, wished to deliver his parents (from the realm of Samsara) to offer his gratitude to them for upbringing him. He used his deva vision to survey the world and saw that his deceased mother had fallen to the realm of hungry ghost 2. With no food nor drink, she (became very thin and) nearly had only bones left.

Maudgalyayana was very sorrowful, he immediately carried some rice in his alms bowl and went forth to feed his mother.

When the mother received the alms bowl of rice, she used her left hand to hide the bowl, with the right hand she grasped the food.

Before she could eat, the food had turned into charcoal; she therefore had no food to eat.

Maudgalyayana cried and wept bitterly.

He rushed to the Buddha and related to Him the incidence.

The Buddha said, ‘Your mother’s offences were very deep, with your individual effort she could not be saved.

Even though you may have filial piety, great as to be able to shake heaven and earth; all the gods in heaven and on earth, heretical priests and the four deva kings of the four heavens 3 could offer on help. What is necessary is the meritorious and miraculous power of the Sangha members in the ten directions. I shall now tell you the Dharma to deliver all those in great sufferings’.

The Buddha said to Maudgalyayana, ‘on the 15th day of the 7th month, while all the Sangha members in the ten directions observe confession 4, you should for the parents of seven previous births as well as present birth who might be suffering (in the lower realms), prepare rice, all kinds of delicacies available and five types of fruits, in thoroughly clean bowls and other containers. All the delicacies in the world thus prepared shall be contained in this tray, together with incense, oils, lamps, candles, robes and other requisites. These should be offered to the members of the Sangha in the ten directions who are so pure in conduct.

‘On that day, all the saintly assemblies-be they the ones who had gained deep Samadhi in the mountains, or ones who had attained the four paths and fruits 5, or ones practicing with diligence, or ones endowed with the six spiritual penetrations who are further helping the Sravakas and the Pratyeka buddhas, or Bodhisattvas of the tenth ground who are appearing as Bhikshus living within the great assemblies-will accept the offerings. They all possess complete and pure precepts and good conducts as vast as the ocean.

‘For anyone who makes such offering to the monks observing the confession (in this day), his present parents and all six types of relatives (viz. Father and mother, husband and wife, son and daughter) will be containers. All the delicacies in the world thus prepared shall be contained in this tray, together with incense, oils, lamps, candles, robes and other requisites. These should be offered to the members of the Sangha in the ten directions who are so pure in conduct.

‘On that day, all the saintly assemblies-be they the ones who had gained deep Samadhi in the mountains, or ones who had attained the four paths and fruits 5, or ones practicing with diligence, or ones endowed with the six spiritual penetrations who are further helping the Sravakas and the Pratyeka buddhas, or Bodhisattvas of the tenth ground who are appearing as Bhikshus living within the great assemblies-will accept the offerings. They all possess complete and pure precepts and good conducts as vast as the ocean.

‘For anyone who makes such offering to the monks observing the confession (in this day), his present parents and all six types of relatives (viz. Father and mother, husband and wife, son and daughter) will be delivered from the suffering in the three lower realms. They will never be deficient of clothing and food. If the parents are living, they will enjoy happiness for years to come. All the decease parents of the seven previous births will enjoy great happiness when they are reborn in the deva realm.

‘At that time, the Buddha will ask the assemblies in the ten directions to firstly make a vow for the donor’s family, to vow for their parents of seven lives (to receive the merits). The assemblies will enter into Samadhi. They will first place the offering in front of the Buddha, in front of a Buddha in a stupa and in a vihara. After the vow, the assemblies will take the offered food’.

Hearing that the Venerable Maudgalyayana and the great assembly of Bodhisattvas were very pleased. Maudgalyayana stopped his crying and weeping.

It was thus on this day when Maudgalyayana mother was delivered from the sufferings in the realm of the hungry ghosts.

Maudgalyayana afterwards asked the Buddha, ‘The disciple’s mother had been delivered by the meritorious power of the Triple Gem and the miraculous power of the Sangha members, in future, should the Buddha’s followers offer the Ullambana 6 to deliver their parents of present and past births?’

The Buddha replied, ‘Well asked! I was going to talk on this when you asked.’

‘Listen man of good Family. If a Bhikshu or a Bhikshuni, a king or a prince, a minister to the court at all levels or and ordinary citizen wishes to practice filial piety, he should for his parents, present as well as past seven births, on the 15th day of the 7th month, an auspicious day for the Buddha, a day for the Sangha members to confess, he should offer to the confessing Sangha members in the ten directions a Ullambana containing the various delicate food. He should vow for his living parents to live long and to be without sickness and other sufferings. The vow should be made for the parents of past seven births, vowing for them to be delivered from the realm of hungry ghosts and be reborn in either the human or deva realm.

‘A Buddha’s follower, practicing filial piety, should always remember and recollect his present parents, parents of seven past births. On the 15th day of the 7th month every year, he should with filial piety and compassion, recollect his parents. Preparing a Ullambana to offer to the Buddha and the Sangha to offer his gratitude for his parent’s upbringing, caring and loving.

‘All followers of the Buddha should deep this practice.’

Hearing thus, the Venerable Maudgalyayana and the fourfold assemblies were filled with delights and followed the teachings accordingly.

Merit Transference

May the merit gained be transferred to my parents, past as well as present. To all sentient beings who had all been my parents. May all gain full Enlightenment!

– Translated at the Kulim Buddhist Society by Upasaka Neoh Shin Yung.
– Edited by Upasaka Khoo Poh Kong.

1 Sadadhijna, sometimes rendered as six supernormal powers
2 Preta
3 Catur maharajas
4 Chinese ‘Che Chir’ ‘confession’ is a very inadequate translation. Buddhist monks stayed in one place for a three-month period rainy season retreat (Varsa). At the end of this retreat on a full moon day (Chinese Buddhist tradition renders this as the 15th of the 7th lunar month, the Theravada tradition makes this to be a few months later). Monks gathered together for confession. A monk first confessed all shortcomings of his that he was aware of and later requested other members of the Sangha to point out other shortcomings that he had not been aware of; these he then confessed also. This practice is ‘Che Chir’.
Making a resolution not to repeat the shortcomings, a monk became purified. After this, the monks would go wandering from place to place until the next rainy season retreat.

5 Marga (path) and Phala (fruit), the four pairs of Holy Persons viz. srotapattimarga and srotapatti-phala, sakradagama-marga and sakradagama-phala, anagama-marga and anagama-phala, and arahant marga and arahant-phala.

6 Offering as described in the sutra contained in the tray. From this term the sutra derives its name. The Chinese sometimes explains the term to mean ‘hanging upside down’-this expresses extreme suffering in the lower realms.


Thus I have heard, at one time the Buddha dwelt at Shravasti, in the Jeta Grove, in the Garden of the Benefactor of Orphans and the Solitary, together with a gathering of great Bhikshus, twelve hundred fifty in all and with all of the Bodhisattvas, thirty-eight thousands in all.

At that time the World Honored One led the great assembly on a walk toward the South. Suddenly they came upon a pile of bones beside the road. The World Honored One turned to face them, placed his five limbs on the ground, and bowed respectfully.

Ananda put his palms together and asked the World Honored One, ‘The Tathagata is the great teacher of the Triple Realm and the compassionate father of beings of the four kinds of births. He has the respect and reverence of the entire assembly. What is the reason that he now bows to a pile of dried bones?’

The Buddha told Ananda, ‘Although all of you are my foremost disciples and have been members of the Sangha for a long time, you still have not achieved far-reaching understanding. This pile of bones could have belonged to my ancestors from former lives. They could have been my parents in many past lives. That is the reason I now bow to them.’ The Buddha continued speaking to Ananda.

‘These bones we are looking at can be divided into two groups. One group is composed of the bones of men, which are heavy and white color. The other group is composed of the bones of women, which are light and black in color.’

Ananda said to the Buddha, ‘World Honored One, when men are alive in the world they adorn their bodies with robes, shoes, hat, and other fine attire so that they clearly assume a male appearance. When women are alive, they put on cosmetics, perfumes, powders, and elegant fragrances to adorn their bodies so that they clearly assume a female appearance. Yet once men and women die, all that is left are their bones. How does one tell them apart?

Please teach us how you were able to distinguish them.’

The Buddha answered Ananda, ‘If when men are in the world, they enter temples, listen to explanations of Sutras and Vinaya texts, make obeisance to the Triple Jewel, and recite the Buddha’s’ names, then when they die, their bones will be heavy and in color. Most women in the world have little wisdom and are saturated with emotion. They give birth to and raise children, feeling that this is their duty. Each child relies on its mother’s milk for life and nourishment and that milk is a transformation of the mother’s blood. Each child drinks seven thousand one hundred fifty gallons of its mother’s milk. Because of this drain on the mother’s body whereby the child takes milk for its nourishment, ‘the mother becomes worn and haggard and so her bones turn black in color and are light in weight.’

When Ananda heard these words, he felt a pain in his heart as if he had been stabbed and wept silently. He said to the World Honored One, ‘how can one repay one’s mother’s kindness and virtue?’

The Buddha told Ananda, ‘Listen well and I will explain it for you in detail. The fetus grows in its mother’s womb for ten months. What bitterness she goes through whiles it dwells there! In the first month of pregnancy, the life of the fetus is as precarious as a dew drops on grass: how likely that it will not last from morning to evening but will evaporate by mid-day!’

‘During the second month, the embryo congeals like curds. In the third month, it is like coagulated blood. During the fourth month of pregnancy, the fetus begins to assume a slightly human form. During the fifth month in the womb, the child’s five limbs-two legs, two arms, and a head-start to take shape. In the sixth month of the pregnancy, the child begins to develop the essences of the six sense faculties: the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind. During the seventh month, the three hundred sixty bones and joints are formed, and the eighty four thousand hair pores are complete. In the eighth month of the pregnancy the intellect and nine apertures are formed. By the ninth month, the fetus has learned to assimilate food in accord with its own disposition. For example, it can assimilate the essence of peaches, pears, certain plant foods, and the five kinds of grains.’

Inside the mother’s body, the solid internal organs used for storing hang downward, while the hollow internal organs used for processing spiral upward. These can be likened to three mountains, which arise from the face of the earth. We can call these mountains Mount Sumeru, Karma Mountain, and Blood Mountain. These analogous mountains come together and from a single range in a pattern of upward peaks and downward valleys. Therefore, too, the coagulation of the mother’s blood from her internal organs forms a single substance, which becomes the child’s food.

During the tenth month of pregnancy, the body of the fetus is completed and ready to be born. If the child is extremely filial, it will emerge with palms placed together in respect and the birth will be peaceful and auspicious. The mother will remain uninjured by the birth and will not suffer pain. However, if the child is extremely rebellious in nature to the extent that it is capable of committing the five rebellious acts, then it will injure its mother’s womb, rip apart its mother’s heart and liver, and/or get entangled in its mother’s bones. The birth will feel like the slices of a thousand knives or like ten thousand sharp swords stabbing her heart. Those are the agonies involved in the birth of a defiant and rebellious child.

To explain more clearly, there are ten types of kindness bestowed by the mother on the child.

The first is the kindness of providing protection and care while the child is the womb.

The second is the kindness of bearing suffering during the birth.

The third is the kindness of forgetting all the pain once the child has been born.

The fourth is the kindness of eating the bitter herself and saving the sweet for the child.

The fifth is the kindness of moving the child to a dry place and lying in the wet herself.

The sixth is the kindness of suckling the child at her breast, nourishing, and bringing up the child.

The seventh is the kindness of washing away the unclean.

The eighth is the kindness of always thinking of the child when it has traveled far.

The ninth is the kindness of deep care and devotion.

The tenth is the kindness of ultimate pity and sympathy.


The causes and conditions from accumulated kalpas grow heavy Until in this life the child ends up in its mother’s womb.

As the months pass the five vital, organs develop; Within seven weeks, the six sense organs
start to grow.

The mother’s body becomes as heavy as a mountain; The stillness and movements of the fetus are like a kalpic wind disaster.

The mother’s fine clothes no longer hang properly; And so the mirror gathers dust.


The pregnancy lasts for ten months. In addition, culminates in difficult labor at the approach of the birth.

Meanwhile, each morning the mother is seriously ill. And ensuring every day is drowsy and sluggish.

Her fear and agitation are difficult to describe; Grieving and tears fill her breast.

She painfully tells her family. That she is only afraid that death will overtake her.


On the day, the compassionate mother bears the child,
Her five organs all open wide,
Leaving her totally exhausted in body and mind.
The blood flows as from a slaughtered lamb;
Yet, upon hearing that the child is healthy,
She is overcome with redoubling joy.
However, after the joy the grief returns,
In addition, the agony wrenches her very insides.


The kindness of both parents is profound and important,
Their care and devotion never cease.
Never resting, the mother saves the sweet for the child,
In addition, without complain she swallows the bitter herself.
Her love is weighty and her emotion difficult to bear;
Her kindness is deep and so is her compassion.
Only wanting the child to get its fill,
The compassionate mother does not speak of her own anger.


The mother is willing to be wet
So that the child can be dry.
With her two breasts she satisfies its hunger and thirst;
Covering it with her sleeve, she protects it from the wind and cold.
In kindness, her head rarely rests on the pillow.
And yet she does this happily.
So long as the child is comfortable,
The kind mother seeks no solace for herself.


The kind mother is like the great earth.
The stern father is like the encompassing heaven:
One covers from above; the other supports from below.
The kindness of parents is such that
They know no hatred or anger toward their offspring.
In addition, are not displeased, even if the birth is twins.
After the mother carries the child in her womb and gives birth to it,
The parents care for and protect it together until the end of their days.


Originally, she had a pretty face and a beautiful body,
Her spirit was strong and vibrant.
Her eyebrows were like fresh green willows,
In addition, her complexion would have put a red rose to shame.
However, her kindness is so deep she will forego a beautiful face.
Although washing away the filth injures her constitution,
The kind mother acts solely for the sake of her sons and daughters
In addition, willing allows her beauty to fade.


The death of loved ones is difficult to endure.
However, separation is also painful.
When the child travel afar,
The mother worries in her village.
From morning until night her heart is with her child
In addition, a thousand tears fall from her eyes.
Weeping silently in love for her child,
Bit by bit her heart is broken.


How heavy are the parents’ kindness and emotional concern!
Their kindness is deep and difficult to repay.
Willingly they undergo suffering on their child’s behalf.
If the child toils the mother is uncomfortable.
If she hears that he has traveled afar
She worries that at night he will have to lie in the cold.
Even a moment’s pain suffering by her sons or daughters
Will cause the mother sustained distress.


The kindness of parents is profound and important.
Their tender concern never ceases.
From the moment, they awake each day;
their thoughts are with their children.

Whether the children are near or far away, the parents think of them often.

Even if a mother lives for a hundred years he will constantly worry about her eighty year-old child!

Do you wish to know when such kindness and love ends?

It does not even begin to dissipate until her life is over.

The Buddha told Ananda: When I contemplate living beings I see that the character which human beings have inherited makes them stupid and dull in their thoughts and actions. They do not consider their parent’s great kindness and virtue.

They are disrespectful and turn their backs on kindness and what is right.

They lack humanness and are neither filial nor compliant.

For ten months while the mother is with child, she feels discomfort each time she rises, as if she were lifting a heavy burden. Like a chronic invalid, she is unable to keep her food and drink down. When the ten months have passed and the time comes for the birth, she undergoes all kinds of pain and suffering so that the child can be born.

She is afraid of her own mortality, like a pig or lamb waiting to be slaughtered. Then the
blood flows all over the ground. She undergoes these sufferings.

Once the child is born, she saves what is sweet for him and swallows what is bitter herself. She carries the child and nourishes it, washing away its filth. There is no toil or difficulty that she does not willingly undertake for the sake of her child. She endures both cold and heat and never even mentions what she had gone through. She gives the dry place to her child and sleeps in
the damp herself. For three years, she nourishes the baby with milk from her own body.

Parents continually instruct and guide their children in the ways of propriety and morality as the youngster mature into adults.

They arrange marriages for them and provide them with property and wealth or devise ways to get it for them. They take this responsibility and trouble upon themselves with tremendous zeal and toil, never speaking about their care and kindness.

When their sons and daughters become ill, parents are worried afraid to the point that they may even grow ill themselves.

They remain by their children’s sides providing constant care and only when the children get well are the parents happy again. They care for and raise their children with the sustained hope that their offspring will lead healthy and happy live.

How sad that all too often the children are unfilial in return! In speaking with relatives whom they should honor, the children display no compliance. When they ought to be polite, they have no manners.

They glare at those whom they should venerate with hateful expressions and insult their uncles and aunts. They scold their siblings and destroy any family feeling that might have existed among them. Children like that have no respect or sense of propriety.

Children may be well taught, but if they are unfilial they will not heed the instructions or obey the rules. Rarely do they rely upon the guidance of their parents.

They are contrary and rebellious when interacting with their brothers. They come and go from home without ever reporting to their parents. Their speech and actions are very arrogant and they act on impulse without consulting others. Such children ignore the admonishments and punishments set down by their parents and pay no regard to their uncles’ warnings. Yet at the same time they are immature and always need looked after and protected by their elders.

As such children grow up, they become more and more obstinate and uncontrollable.

They are entirely ungrateful and totally contrary. They are rebellious and hateful,
rejecting both family and friends. They befriend evil people and under their influence soon adopt the same kinds of bad habits. They come to take what is false to be true.

Such children may be enticed by others to leave their families and run away to live in other towns, thus denouncing their parents and rejecting their native town. They may become salespersons or civil servants who languish in comfort and luxury. They marry in haste and that new bond provides yet another obstruction, which prevents them form returning home for long periods of time.

Or in going to live in other towns, these children may be incautious and find themselves plotted against or incriminated for doing evil. They may be unfairly punished and locked up in prison. Or they may meet with illness and become enmeshed in disasters and hardships, subject to the terrible pain of poverty, starvation, and emaciation. Yet, no one there will care for them. Being disliked by others, they will be abandoned on the street. In such circumstances, their lives may end. No one there bothers to try to save them. Their bodies swell up, rot, decay, and are exposed to the sun and blown away by the wind. The white bones entirely disintegrate and scatter, as these children will never again have a happy reunion with them. They will never know how their aging parents mourn for and worry about them. The parents may grow blind from weeping or become sick from extreme grief and despair. Constantly dwelling on the memory of their children,
they may pass away, but even when they become ghosts, their souls still cling to this attachment and are unable to let it go.

Others of these unfilial children may not aspire to learning, but instead become interested in strange and bizarre doctrines.

Such children may be villainous, coarse, and stubborn, delighting in practices that are utterly devoid of benefit. They may become involved in fights and thefts, setting themselves at odds with the town by drinking liquor and gambling. As if their own debauchery were not enough, they drag their brothers into it as well, to the further distress of their parents.

If such children do live at home, they leave early in the morning and do not return until late at night. Never do they ask about the welfare of their parents or make sure that they do not suffer from heat or cold. They do not inquire after their parents’ well being in the morning or the evening nor even on the first and fifteenth of the lunar month. In fact, it never occurs to these unfilial children to ever ask whether their parents have slept comfortably or rested peacefully. Such children are simply not concerned in the least about their parents’ well being. When the parents of such children grow old, their appearance becomes increasingly withered, and emaciated, they are made to feel ashamed to be seen in public and are subjected to abuse and oppression.

Such unfilial children may end up with a father who is a widower or a mother who is a widow. The solitary parents are left alone in empty houses, feeling like guests in their own homes. They may endure cold and hunger, but no one takes heed of their plight. They may weep incessantly from
morning to night, sighing and lamenting. It is only right that children should provide their aging parents with food and drink of delicious flavors, but irresponsible children are sure to overlook their duties. If they ever do attempt to help their parents out in any way, they feel embarrassed and are afraid people will laugh at them. Yet such offspring may lavish wealth and food on their own wives and children, disregarding the toil and weariness involved in doing so.

Other unfilial offspring may be so intimidated by their wives that they go along with all of their wishes. However, when appealed to by their parents and elders, they ignore them and are totally unfazed by their pleas.

It may be the case that daughters were quite filial to their parents before their own marriages, but that they become progressively rebellious after they marry. This situation may be extreme that if their parents show even the slightest signs of displeasure, the daughters become hateful and vengeful toward them. Yet, they bear their husbands’ scolding and beatings with sweet tempers, although their spouses are outsiders with other surnames and family ties. The emotional bonds between such married women and their parents should be deep and heavy, and yet those daughters hold their parents at a distance. They may follow their husbands to move to other towns, leaving their parents behind entirely.

They do not long for them and simply cut off all communication with them. When the parents continue to hear no word from their daughters, they feel incessant anxiety. They become so fraught with worry that it is as if they were suspended upside down. Their every thought is of seeing their children, like one who is thirsty longs for something to drink. Their kind thoughts for their offspring never cease.

The virtue of one’s parents’ kindness is boundless and limitless. If one has made the mistake of being unfilial, how difficult it is to repay that kindness!

At that time, upon hearing the Buddha speak about the importance of one’s parents’ kindness, everyone in the Great Assembly threw themselves on the ground and began beating their breasts and striking themselves until all their hair pores flowed with blood.

Some fell unconscious to the ground while others stamped their feet in grief. It was a long time before they could control themselves. With loud voices they lamented, ‘Such suffering! What suffering!

How painful! How Painful! We are all offenders. We are criminals who have never awakened, like those who travel in a dark night. We have just now understood our offenses and our very insides are torn to bits. We only hope that the World Honored One will pity us and save us. Please tell us how we can repay the deep kindness of our parents.’

At that time, the Tathagata used eight kinds of profoundly deep and pure sounds to speak to the assembly. ‘All of you should know this. I will now explain for you the various aspects of this matter.

‘If there were a person who carried his father on his shoulder and his mother on his right shoulder until his bones were ground to powder by their weight as they bore through to the marrow, and if that person were to circumambulate Mount Sumeru for a hundred thousand kalpas until the blood that flowed out from his feet covered his ankles, that person would still not have repaid the deep kindness of his parents.’

‘If there were a person who, during the period of a kalpa fraught with famine and starvation, sliced the flesh off his own body to feed his parents and did this as many times as there are dust motes as he passed through hundreds of thousands of kalpas, that person still would not have repaid the deep kindness of his parents.’

‘If there were a person who, for the sake of his parents. Took a sharp knife and cut out his eyes and made and offering of them to the Tathagatas, and continue to do that for hundreds of thousands of kalpas, that person still would not have repaid the deep kindness of his parents.’

‘If there were a person who, for the sake of his father and mother, used a sharp knife to cut out his heart and liver so that the blood flowed and covered the ground and if he continued in this way to do this for hundreds of thousands of kalpas, never once complaining about the pain, that person still would not have repaid the deep kindness of his parents.’

‘If there were a person who, for the sake of his parents, took a hundred thousand swords and stabbed his body with them all at once so that they entered one side and came out the other, and if he continued in this way to do this for hundreds of thousands of kalpas, that person still would not have repaid the deep kindness of his parents,’

‘If there were a person who, for the sake of his parents, beat his bones down to the marrow and continued in this way to do this for hundred of thousands of kalpas, that person still would not have repaid the deep kindness of his parents.’

‘If there were a person who, for the sake of his parents, swallowed molten iron pellets and continued in this way to do this for hundreds of thousands of kalpas, that person still would not have repaid the deep kindness of his parents.’

At that time, upon hearing the Buddha speak about the kindness and virtue of parents, everyone in the Great Assembly wept silent tears and felt searing pain in their hearts. They reflected deeply, simultaneously brought forth shame and said to the Buddha, ‘World Honored One, how can we repay the deep kindness of our parents?’

The Buddha replied, ‘Disciples of the Buddha, if you wish to repay your parents’ kindness, write out this Sutra on their behalf.

Recite this Sutra on their behalf. Repent of transgressions and offenses on their behalf. For the sake of your parents, make offering to the Triple Jewel. For the sake of your parents, hold the precept of pure eating. For the sake of your parents, practice giving and cultivating blessings. If you are able to do these things, you are being a filial child. If you do not do these things, you are a person destined for the hells.’

The Buddha told Ananda, ‘If a person is not filial, when his life ends and his body decays, he will fall into the Space less, Avici Hell. This great hell is eighty thousand yojanas in circumference and is surrounded all four sides by iron walls. Above it is covered over by nets, and the ground is made of iron. A mass of fire burns fiercely, while thunder roars and bright bolts of lightning set things on fire. Molten brass and iron fluids are poured over the offenders’ bodies. Brass dogs and iron snakes constantly spew out fire and smoke, which burn the offenders and broil their flesh and fat to a pulp.

‘O such suffering! Difficult to take, difficult to bear! There are poles, hooks, spears, and lances, iron halberds and iron awls. Wheels of iron knives rain down from the air. The offenders are chopped, hacked, or stabbed, and undergoes these cruel punishments for kalpas without respite.

Then they enter the remaining hells where their heads are capped with fiery basins while iron wheels roll over their bodies, passing both horizontally and vertically until their guts are ripped open and their bones and flesh are squashed to a pulp. Within a single day, they experience myriad births and myriad deaths. Such sufferings are a result of committing the five rebellious acts and of being unfilial when one was alive.’

At that time, upon hearing the Buddha speak about the virtue of parents’ kindness, everyone in the Great Assembly wept sorrowfully and addressed the Tathagata,

‘On this day, how can we repay the deep kindness of our parents?’

The Buddha said, ‘Disciples of the Buddha, if you wish to repay their kindness, then for the sake of your parents, print this Sutra. This is truly repaying their kindness.

If one can print one copy, then one will get to see the Buddha. If one can print ten
copies, then one will get to see ten Buddhas.

If one can print one hundred copies, then one can print one thousand copies, then one will get to see one thousand Buddhas. If one can print ten thousand copies, then one will get to see ten thousand Buddhas. This is the power derived when good people print Sutras. All Buddhas will forever protect such people with their kindness and can immediately cause the parents of such people to be reborn in the heavens, to enjoy all kinds of happiness, and to leave behind the sufferings of the hells.’

At that time Ananda and the rest of the Great Assembly the asuras, garudas, kinnaras, mahoragas, people, non-people, and others, as well as the gods, dragons, yakshas, gandarvas, wheel-turning sage kings, and all the lesser kings felt all the hairs on their bodies stand on end when they heard what the Buddha had said. They wept grievously and were unable to stop themselves. Each one of them made a wow saying, ‘All of us, from now until the exhaustion of the bounds of the future, would rather that our bodies be pulverized into small particles of dust for a hundred thousand kalpas, than to ever go against the Thus Come One’s sagely teachings. We would rather that our tongues be plucked out so that they would extend for a full yojana and that for a hundred thousand kalpal an iron plough would run over them; we would rather have a hundred thousand-bladed wheel roll freely over our bodies than to ever go against the Thus Come One’s sagely teachings. We would rather that our bodies be ensnared in an iron net for a hundred thousand kalpas than to ever go against the Thus Come one’s sagely teachings. We would rather that for a hundred thousand kalpas our bodies would be chopped, hacked, mutilated and chiseled into ten million pieces so that our skin, flesh, joints, and bones would be completely disintegrated than to ever go against the Thus Come One’s sagely teachings.

The Buddha told Ananda, ‘This Sutra is called The Sutra About the Deep Kindness of Parents and the Difficulty of Repaying it.

Use this name when you accord with it and uphold it.’

At that time the Great Assembly, the gods, humans, asuras, and the others, hearing what the Buddha had said, were completely delighted. They believed it, received it, and offered up their conduct in accord with it, and then bowed and withdrew.

Ullambana Chanting

We the disciples respect the Buddha’s teaching.

On the full moon of the Seventh month the Ullambana ceremony held within this magnificent gallery.

We offer this incense to The Buddha, The Dharma, The Sangha of the ten directions in the past, present, and future.

We vow to follow the way of Venerable Moggallana to be dutiful remembering those given us life.
We have reached thus far due to Mother’s hardship three years of nourishment nine months of
pregnancy with non-stop worrying neglecting food and sleep to fully clothe and shelter us.

With Father’s strength weathered by age and together with Mother to raise all children educate us by the way of life and the Buddha’s teachings.

All gratitude we have yet returned. We now humbly kneel in front of the

Awakened One and the Sangha who practise meditation and have attained the Path to support seven
generations of our ancestors, permeating the Way of Practicing with the present generation
vow to practise the Way of Enlightenment, afar from our forgetfulness to attain enlightenment.

May all Buddhas of all directions support our efforts.

Sutra Closing Verse

Remembering our gratitude to parents practising the way of awareness gives rise to benefits without limit.
We vow to share the fruits with all beings.
We vow to offer tribute to parents, teachers, friends and numerous beings who give guidance and support along the path.

The Three Refuges

– I take refuge in the Buddha, the One who shows me the Way in this life.( 1 bow)
– I take refuge in the Dharma, the Way of Understanding and Love.( 1 bow)
– I take refuge in the Sangha, the community that lives in harmony and awareness. ( 1 bow)

Countless beings, I vow to save Ceaseless afflictions, I vow to end
Limitless Dharma Doors, I vow to open I vow to realize the highest path of Awakening

( please rise, bow deeply 3 bows)

Tu Viện Trúc Lâm
11328-97St Edmonton, AB – T5G 1X4 CANADA
Tel. (780) 471-1093 Fax. (780) 471-5394
Website: Email.
2015 – 2559

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