Yesterday I went with two of my long-time friends – nuns from Longchang Temple and Buddhist masters Jijing and Jili who cutely go around like a single package, like happy sisters. They were initiated into Tibetan Buddhism in Kangding, Sichuan (which is actually more Tibetan culturally and racially than any place in modern “Tibet”). One of the great masters from there came out to see us and tell us the Dharma straight from original Tibetan-sanskrit scriptures.
To prepare for the occasion, we arrived at the gorgeous Xuanwu Lake Park in Nanjing, replete with buckets and buckets of water animals which were going to be killed for their flesh, but saved by the nuns and the vaishnavas. While one of the nuns was constantly refreshing the water in the buckets with fresh lake water and splashing oxygen into the water, vaishnavas were chanting prayers to the animals. Two of the white fish had died before arrival. They placed the dead fish at the edge of the lake, and one of the followers was there with me, praying for the fishes’ souls. They were stiff, their mouths were closed, and their bodies upturned. I just continued praying.
Meanwhile, other followers were in the temple setting up tasty vegetarian snacks and fresh fruit garnished with saffron. Incense was lit and the followers did prostrations in a line, particularly to Amitabha and to Wenshu Buddha.
Before we freed the animals into the lake, the Tibetan master showed up. We bowed to him and he placed shiny scarves around our necks. He led us in long prayers and chants. When the vibration was right, we let the animals out of the buckets into the lake. I was responsible for letting the clams out along with three other vaishnavas. The bag was huge and heavy, and it took three men to lift it over to a distant area where we could let them free. We chanted Amitabha while tossing them into the lake. While we did this we saw a rainbow over the lake. It was not raining, and there was no fog, and I may only see a rainbow once a year, so it was a strange rainbow.
When this was over, we headed for the temple to hear the master interpret Tibetan-sanskrit scripture to us along with long chants. Some of the highlights were:
- Carpe diem. Live each day like your last. Live each moment like your last. We can never know when we will die, and though we probably will not die today, we must always be prepared for death.
- Alcohol is a great evil. When it is taken, it confuses the user’s sense of reality. It clouds their intellect and causes the user to engage in other great sins. The user cannot know these are great sins very well, also because alcohol has clouded his judgment. Therefore, alcohol is a great evil and it is therefore totally prohibited.
- Any person from any level of society can become a Buddhist. It doesn’t matter if you’re Black, White, Jewish or whatever. Anyone can be a Buddhist. But if you don’t believe in 1) cause and effect and 2) reincarnation, not only can you not be a Buddhist, there is nothing that will save you. The understanding in the law of cause and effect – including reincarnation – is the very basis of all morality. The idea that our actions have a result, and the way we live our lives now will determine our direction beyond death, is the very foundation of all moral reasoning.
After that we ate very tasty snacks. They had fresh juice. One of the snacks I had was a bar of sticky black rice with raisins in it. I don’t know why, but it was particularly tasty. After eating some goodies, I went out to the side of the lake to see what was going on there. Two or three followers were in amazement – the two dead fish had come alive. They were talking to the fish, telling them to try swimming out to the middle of the lake. For some reason the water is better there, and also there is no danger from illegal spear fishers or litter there. The fish seemed to listen to them, and they slowly swam out into the middle of the lake, where we never saw them again.