Monday, August 26, 2013

The Monk's Mother in Hell (sutra)

Maha Moggallana rescues his ghost mother
Abbess Shiou Ping (Ling Yen Mountain Temple), Dhr. Seven, Wisdom Quarterly
Maha Moggallana rescues his mother from the Hungry Ghost Realm (Wisdom Quarterly)

The Ullambana Sutra (佛說報恩奉盆經) is a Mahayana work which consists of a brief discourse given by the historical Buddha to one of his chief disciples "foremost in psychic powers," Maha Moggallana (Sanskrit, Maha Maudgalyāyana, Japanese, Mokuren), on the practice of filial piety.
In this discourse the Buddha provides instructions for the liberation of his mother, who had been reborn onto an unfortunate plane in the realm of hungry ghosts. The solution offered by the Buddha was to make food offerings to the accomplished monastic Sangha on the 15th day of the seventh month.
The Ullambana story in Chinese (WQ)
This practice is the basis of the Japanese Obon ceremony in honor of one's ancestors (relatives extending seven generations back). This Halloween/All Souls Day-like event is still observed widely throughout Japan and in the US among Japanese Buddhists. The sutra, however, like most Mahayana discourses, was probably written several centuries after the Buddha's final nirvana.

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