A set of seven offering bowls may be placed on one's shrine and filled with water daily as a way of accumulating virtue and merit. This is also effective means of cultivating generosity, as water can be given freely without clinging. Alternatively, the bowls can be filled with a variety of substances and objects that symbolize the traditional offerings of drinking and washing water, flowers, incense, light, perfume, food, and music. One visualizes each of the substances expanding infinitely throughtout space as an offering to one's object of refuge.
The seven offering bowls are not simply bowls are also powerful reminders of the seven aspest of Buddha as well as the ways we request his guidance through prayer, confession, prostrating ourselves and celebrating the positive qualities of all things. What we place in the bowls is equally important as each offering has meaning. Traditionally, the offerings were: cool water to drink, symbolizing the eight merits and auspiciousness; pure water, symbolizing purity of body; flowers or plants for the pleasure of Buddha's eyes, symbolizing generosity; incense, symbolizing discipline; a butter lamp, symbolizing wisdom because ignorance is darkness and wisdom is brightness; a fragrance, symbolizing devotion; and fruits or sweets, which express gratitude and can lead to the trance state of samadhi. Often, to prevent against feelings of greed or self - importance that could destroy virtue, the seven offering bowls are simply filled water.
USE OF OFFERING BOWLS:
According to Vajrayana teachings, each person has the potential to reach the enlightenment of Buddha. One way in which we may assimilate the ideals of Buddhism is through the rituals of meditation and transformation inspired by offering daily gifts at a personal alter. Each morning, seven copper or brass or silver bowls on the altar are filled with water or substances atha appeal to the senses in the practice of giving. The offering is made each morning, and removed and recycled at sunset.
It is the act of offering and not the offerings themselves that focus the mind on the teachings of Buddha, and free you from worldly concerns and delusions of grandeur. Though there is simplicity in giving the gift, the gesture is powerful and helps strenghten the mind. As you fill the bowls each morning, you're reaffirming the dedication of your body and mind to the cultivation of goodness and wisdom in the world.
OFFERING BOWLS WE OFFER:
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