Making Offerings to the Buddhas

In The New Eight Steps to Happiness Venerable Geshe Kelsang Gyatso writes "the success of our meditation depends upon our making six preparations. Just as we need to prepare carefully for an examination or a dinner party if it is to be a success, so we need to prepare carefully for meditation if we are to experience good results."

One of the six preparatory practices we do daily at KMC NYC is arrange suitable offerings to the Buddhas. We make these beautiful offerings on our Center shrines. Many Kadampa Buddhists also keep personal shrines and make these same offerings at home each day.

Offerings of Water

Three Sets of Seven bowls are made daily in front of Je Tsongkhapa, Buddha Shakyamuni, and Dorje Shugden

In general, we make offerings to Buddha not because Buddha needs something from us but because of the opening and enriching effect offering has on our heart. Most Buddhists offer at least seven bowls of water every day. Whilst physically pouring the water with great care and respect, mentally we imagine we offer much more than water. When we fill the first bowl we imagine we are offering nectar for drinking to all the Buddhas. With the second we offer water to wash their feet; with the third, flowers; with the fourth, incense; with the fifth countless forms of light such as candles, jewels, stars, the sun and moon; with the sixth we annoint their body with perfume; and with the seventh we offer a great banquet of food and drink. During our prayers and offering ceremonies we make an eighth offering – music – but this is not normally represented as a water offering.

To make the offerings:

  1. Begin by making three prostrations as we go for refuge and generate bodhichitta
  2. Take a blue bucket from the kitchen, along with a white shrine cloth/towel
  3. Empty the water currently filling the bowls on the shrine and wipe the bowls of excess water
  4. Take the blue buckets to the kitchen and empty into the drain
  5. Fill the green plastic water cans in the kitchen with water
  6. Before filling the bowls make sure they are lined up straight. They should be close, about a grain of rice space between.
  7. Pour the water into the bowls from left to right. The water levels should be even and filled about a finger width from the top of each bowl.
  8. Use the shrine cloth to wipe away any spills