Offerings to Wandering Ghosts Yutang Lin
Wandering alone in hunger and thirst for another year
Lunar July 15 is the date called "Zhong Yuan Festival" by the Chinese people. Lunar July is believed by the Chinese to be the month when ghosts may roam the human realm at relatively more ease, and the 15th of this month is set as the date for making offerings to ancestors and wandering ghosts who had no descendants to worship them.
I recall that at home in Taipei, Taiwan whenever it was Zhong Yuan we made offerings to Buddhas, ancestors, and in addition, to wandering ghosts who are addressed as "Old great grandpa, good brothers." Offerings presented to them include foods, rice wine, bowl and chopsticks, wine cups, and in addition, basin and cup with clean water, towel, soap, toothbrush and toothpaste so that they may clean up a bit. After three rounds of pouring wine into their cups, we burned some hell-bank notes and gold or silver foils and then pour the offered wine over the ashes.
Such considerate offering inspired my admiration for the thoughtfulness implied therein. In the past decade or more years I also adopted this practice on each and every Zhong Yuan. At late afternoon or in the evening, in addition to performing Powa for the deceased beings, I made similar offerings to the wandering ghosts, and I also burned some mantra sheets to help them attain rebirth in Pureland sooner. In recent years I also advised some disciples to adopt the practice as a way to express our feeling of oneness with the ghosts and to cultivate our universal compassion. Now I put it down in writing with the wish that such a good custom will spread and be adopted as a Dharma related practice.
----- Original Message -----
As requested by disciple Pian Zhao I had written it in calligraphy.
Some people stop making offerings to ancestors, not to mention to wandering ghosts, after they began to learn Buddhism. Somehow, they forgot that all those beings are still in transmigration and need help at their level. So Pian Zhao was moved by this poem and asked me to point out that such offerings are still very much needed by those beings; we hope that this work will inspire more people to look into the real and urgent needs of beings.
May all beings attain Enlightenment soon!
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