Q061: Respected Master Lu, you mentioned in your “The Art of Applying Comprehensive Metaphysics” radio program that while burning Little Houses (Hsiao Fang Tzu), it is best to not say anything. Then can we recite the Heart Sutra (Hsin Ching) or Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra (Wang Sheng Chou) instead?

A061:

  • Usually, when you are burning Little Houses, your Karmic Creditor(s) and all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; spirits in all of the heavens, on earth, and in the underworld will be aware of this ritual that you are performing. It would be best if you do not recite any sutras or mantras or say anything extra. This is because this occasion is similar to being in court, and you need to be extremely cautious with your words.
  • When the name of the merit receiver is stated on the Little House, other spirits cannot take the merits from the Little House. However, reciting the Heart Sutra or Amitabha Pure Land Rebirth Mantra while you are burning Little Houses can attract other spirits to come and take the merits from these extra sutras or mantras that you recite, as they are not included in the Little Houses that you are burning.
  • First of all, you can make incense offerings, and then make full prostrations. Sincerely invite Guan Yin Bodhisattva by saying the following three times, “Sincerely invite the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva, saviour of suffering and disasters.”
  • Before burning Little Houses, you can raise the Little Houses slightly above your head, and then place them on your altar. Keel down and say the following prayer: “May the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless me, <your full name>, help me to offer the Little Housesto <name of the merit receiver; can be your Karmic Creditor, name of a deceased person, a child that was aborted or miscarried, or the Karmic Creditor of someone’s house>.”
    • When you are burning Little Houses (it is best to burn from top to bottom, starting from the upper right hand corner where it says “Offer To”), you can say the following prayer, “May the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless me, <your full name>, with your compassion.” You can then light the Little Houses using the oil lamp on your altar. While you are burning Little Houses, please do not recite or say anything extra. You should only say the prayer, “May the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless me, <your full name>, with your compassion.”
  • After you finish burning Little Houses, you can say the following, “With my sincere prostration, I hereby express my deepest gratitude to the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva for protecting and blessing me, <your full name>, so that I can have good health, and a safe and fortunate life. Please help me to offer the Little Houses to <name of the merit receiver>. Deepest gratitude to the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva.” You then make a prostration.
  • If you are burning Little Houses on behalf of someone else, you can say the following, “May the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva help <name of the reciter> to offer the Little Houses to <name of the merit receiver>.”
  • If the Little Houses were recited by someone else for you, you can say the following prayer, “May the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless me, <your full name, instead of the name of the reciter>, help me to offer the Little Houses to <name of the merit receiver>.”
  • Little Houses must be burnt thoroughly, and there should not be any remaining pieces or edges left unburnt. Otherwise, the Little Houses burnt might not be as effective.
    • If you do not have an altar at home, you should offer the Heart Incense[1]; then recite the Great Compassion Mantra (Ta Pei Chou) once and Heart Sutra once; say your prayer; and then burn the Little Houses.
    • Please note: Before you burn the Little Houses, you can recite the Eighty-eight Buddhas Great Repentance (Li Fo Ta Chan Hui Wen) once, and this would enhance the effectiveness of the transferring of merits. This is particularly helpful if you are burning Little Houses that were recited by someone else for you. Recitation of the Eighty-eight Buddhas Great Repentance would compensate for the fact that you did not recite these Little Houses yourself and would help to express your thoughts of repentance and sincere respect. You can say the following prayer, “May the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless me, <your full name>, help me to repent and eliminate karmic obstacles due to negative karmas.” Please note that recitation of the Eighty-eight Buddhas Great Repentance before burning Little Houses is optional.
  • If you are burning the Little Houses to transfer merits to a deceased person, you can recite the Eighty-eight Buddhas Great Repentance (Li Fo Ta Chan Hui Wen) once prior to burning and say the following prayer, “May the Great Merciful and Great Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva protect and bless <full name of the deceased person>, help <full name of the deceased person> to repent and eliminate karmic obstacles due to negative karmas.” Please note that recitation of the Eighty-eight Buddhas Great Repentance before burning Little Houses in this case is also optional.


[1] Please refer to Q&A 094 Regarding the difference between offering the Heart Incense and real incense.

 

[Updated 2012.04.26]