Q: Master Lu, when we recite Little Houses, do we say the same prayers for ourselves as we do for our daily recitations? In the past, I was not aware of this and I have been saying the same prayers. Recently, I was told that this is not encouraged. What should I do?
- Daily recitations are different from recitations for Little Houses. Daily recitations are similar to daily expenditure, whereas Little Houses are similar to mortgage or loan repayments. The prayers and the number of recitations that you perform for everyday use should be separated from those for Little Houses. Do not mix them up.
You pray for yourselves when you perform your daily recitations e.g. for your health, gaining wisdom, and so forth. Little Houses are offered to karmic creditors or deceased family members to repay your karmic debts. Therefore, you are not supposed to pray for yourselves when you recite the sutras and mantras contained in Little Houses.
- However, if you have a strong intention to pray for yourself while reciting Little Houses, and if you fail to fill in the red dots in the circles on the Little Houses immediately after finishing your recitation, then your recitations of the Little Houses are very likely to become part of your daily recitation instead. In other words, when you fill in the circles at a later stage, the power from the recitation would already have been used, rendering the Little Houses ineffective. This is one of the reasons many Buddhist practitioners still fail to experience significant effects after they have offered a large number of Little Houses.
Hence, refrain from filling in the Little Houses with the recitations that you perform for everyday use, or including prayers for yourselves when you are reciting Little Houses.
- For the Little Houses that are reserved for future use, you should neither include any specific prayers for yourself or others, nor mention anyone’s name. Simply say the following prayer: “May the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva be my witness, I, <your full name>, now recite the scriptures contained in this Little House (the Great Compassion Mantra, the Heart Sutra, the Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra, and the Qi Fo Mie Zui Zhen Yan).” Do not pray for anything for yourself.
The power from the recitation will be automatically stored in the Little House when you fill in the circles. At a later stage, when you fill in the “Offer To” field, the Little Houses will be addressed to that entity accordingly, such as your karmic creditor, deceased family member, etc.
- If you already know to whom you are going to give the Little Houses, it is best to fill in the recipient on the Little Houses before you start the recitation.
Just as we complete one course of medication before beginning another, Little Houses will generally be more effective if recited in batches. As you begin each batch you can first make a vow to Guan Yin Bodhisattva stating the number of Little Houses you will recite and the timeframe in which you will complete them by.
For example, “I, <your full name>, will recite <X number of> Little Houses for my karmic creditor in <Y period of time> or by <date>. May the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless me, <your full name>, help me to recover from <name of illness>.” At this point, you can say a prayer when making your vows.
However, when reciting or burning Little Houses, do not say any prayers for yourself, except the following: “May the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless me, <your full name>, help me to give these Little Houses to <name of the recipient>”; the recipient can be your karmic creditor, a deceased person, an aborted or miscarried child, or the karmic creditor of someone’s house.
After you finish burning the Little Houses, you could say the corresponding prayers. For example, if you give Little Houses to the karmic creditor of <someone’s full name>, you could pray to Guan Yin Bodhisattva to grant this person good health, safety and good fortune. If you use the Little House to resolve X’s karmic conflicts, you could pray to Guan Yin Bodhisattva to help resolve the negative karmic affinity between X and Y.
- You have to fill in the name of reciter before reciting Little Houses, regardless of whether the Little Houses are reserved for future use or not. This helps to ensure that the power of the sutras and mantras are properly stored in the Little Houses. If you fill in the circles before you fill in the name of the reciter, other spirits may take away the sutras and mantras.