Q: Dear Master Lu, what should we be aware of when addressing Little Houses and filling in the red dots on them?
Filling in the fields:
- If you already know whom you are going to give the Little House to, you have to fill in the “Offer to” (the recipient) field on the right-hand side before commencing recitations. If the Little Houses are reserved for future use, you can leave the “Offer to” field blank and fill it in when you wish to burn them.
- The “Offered by” (the reciter) field on the left-hand side must be filled in by the person who is going to recite; the name must be that of the reciter. This field should be completed prior to commencing recitations.
- The Date field on the left-hand side must only be filled in after the Little House has been completed. The date can be the day you complete the recitations or the day of burning the Little House. For Little Houses reserved for future use, the date field is generally left blank until the day of burning (It is equally fine to fill in the date when the Little House was completed). The date can be written in numerals horizontally above the Year, Month and Day labels or can be written in Chinese characters vertically down the side.
- Generally, avoid filling in the recipient and the reciter fields of Little Houses in large quantities before reciting them. Instead, fill in only as many as you plan to complete that day.
Filling in the red dots on the Little House:
- The “Offered by” (the reciter) field on the Little Houses should be filled in before proceeding with the red dots. Otherwise, if both the “Offer to” and “Offered by” fields are left blank when dots are added, the power from reciting sutras and mantras can be easily lost.
- Each time you finish reciting a sutra or mantra, use a red marker to fill the corresponding circle. Alternatively, you can add the dots after reciting a series or an entire section of sutras and mantras.
- Only red pens or markers are to be used for the dots.
- Do not tick, cross, dot outside the edge of the circle or fill the circle right to its rim. You are only allowed to fill red dots. The red dots cannot be too small, otherwise the effectiveness of the Little Houses will be reduced. The red dots should take up at least 50% of the space within each circle.
- The sutras and mantras must be recited before the red dots are added; dots must not be added before the recitations are completed. If you accidentally dot a small number of circles for which you have not completed recitations, you should complete the corresponding number of recitations for those sutras and mantras immediately. The number of sutras and mantras recited can exceed the number of circles on the Little Houses, but must not fall short of the required number.
- When adding the red dots, it is best to start from the bottom, moving towards the top of the Little House. You can add dots for each individual section of sutras and mantras, or you can add dots across all four sutras and mantras from the bottom to the top.
- In order to prevent the sutras and mantras from being snatched by wandering spirits, you must have a red mat upon which to dot the Little Houses. The red mat should be at least 60 cm (or 2 feet) high and 60 cm wide (you can use red paper, red fabric or other red materials for the mat). This mat must be one complete piece. You may use glue or red coloured thread to stitch small pieces of material together to form the mat. If it is not convenient to spread the mat out due to the space constraint, you can fold it smaller, but it must be no smaller than A4 size for the mat to be effective.
If the red fabric is relatively soft, making it difficult to dot Little Houses, you can add a piece of red cardboard on top of the fabric and then dot the Little Houses on top of the cardboard. However, glass must not be placed on top of the red fabric as it will affect the effectiveness of the Little Houses.
The mat can be red on both sides or just one side. You could also use a brand new red table of suitable dimensions to take the place of the red mat. The red paper or fabric used for the mat can have a faint pattern but should not have other colours visible on it; it must be all red without any images of people or animals on it. Moreover, the shade of red should be a “true” red, a bright and strong red. Rose, orange, pink or shades of red with a strong tinge of other colours are not suitable.
- Generally, red dots should be added before 10pm. Even if you feel that the energy field is relatively good, and you have a red mat underneath for protection, it is still best to avoid adding red dots after 12am. If you could not manage to add the dots on the day that you recite, you can add them the following day. But the Little House should not be left undotted for too long, generally not longer than seven days.
- While filling the red dots, you can recite the Great Compassion Mantra and the Heart Sutra of your daily recitations. You could also recite the sutras and mantras contained in the Little Houses addressed to the same recipient.
- Red dots should not be added during thunderstorms.