How to Make Water Offerings
In this video, Tulku Migmar gives a detailed teaching on how to correctly make water offerings on a Tibetan Buddhist shrine.
Tulku-la explains that the practice is an accumulation of merit, but also a form of mind-training as we must take the opportunity to practice mindfulness when we make offerings.
The practice of offering is taught throughout the Buddha’s teachings, in both sutra and tantras. In many sutras, the Buddha explains how in his past lives he made extensive offerings in order to accumulate merit. And in Mahayana scriptures such as the Perfection of Wisdom sutras, we can read about the bodhisattvas making elaborate offerings to the Buddha. We make offerings as a skillful and supportive method to cultivate indispensable merit while on the path to enlightenment.
To inspire us in this practice, we can recall this instruction from the Ten Thousand Line Perfection of Wisdom sutra:
“Moreover, Subhūti, great bodhisattva beings, through the good intentions that arise in their minds, make offerings of the desirable attributes of the five senses to the tathāgatas, great bodhisattva beings, the pratyekabuddhas, and the śrāvakas of the tathāgatas, and having made these offerings, they dedicate them, saying, ‘Through these, my roots of virtue, may I attain manifestly perfect buddhahood in unsurpassed, genuinely perfect enlightenment in this buddha field, and, through the good intentions that arise in my mind, may there be present the pleasant, desirable attributes of the five senses which all sentient beings possess!’
The practice of making offerings is not simply a dry method, technique, or cultural custom. Making offerings is a truly profound practice. Phakchok Rinpoche often stresses the importance of taking the time to make proper offerings. Offerings can be either simple or elaborate depending upon the practitioner’s means and intention. When we offer something pure and beautiful with care and joy, it can be a powerfully transformative factor.
In the practice of offering it is of central importance to have both an actual physical offering as well as the proper inner state of mind. Thus, we take time to consider our motivation and change it when necessary. We also practice visualization and non-distraction. Sentient beings all possess destructive emotions such as greed, stinginess, clinging, self-cherishing, lack of care for others, pride, jealousy, etc. In order to reduce these tendencies and come to manifest their pure inner nature, the practice of offering is supreme.