Why Do We Offer Water in Buddhism religion ?
March 25, 2021
(Yonchap)Water Offerings in Tibetan Buddhism offering seven water bowls, is one of the most basic daily practices in Tibetan Buddhism.Offerings in general, are an antidote to greed and attachment, and can include charity, donations, and shrine offerings. Charity and selfless actions, a dedication to the welfare of others, help us release selfish attachment and is a bodhichitta practice. Offering to the Buddhas and Gurus first — usually in the morning before we eat — demonstrates our selfless dedication to our Bodhisattva vows and our teachers and deities.
To make water offerings
Your water offering bowls should be used only for your water offerings — not to use bowls from your kitchen that you also use for eating.
So Why Do We Offer Water?
For this reason, water, the most plentiful substance in most areas, is the chosen offering. It is pure, clean, plentiful — not requiring us to hurt others to give it — and it is symbolic of purity.
A primary purpose of any offering, along with honoring the Buddha and his teachings, is a pure motivation to cultivate generosity, and to reduce our selfishness, stinginess and greed.
We seek to give with an open, pure heart, with no attachment to what we are giving, and with no motivation of receiving something in return.
“The significance of offering seven water bowls is to create the cause to achieve the seven limbs, or aspects, or qualities of the Vajradhara state — enlightenment. But that does not mean that you cannot offer more, that offering more is some kind of interference!”
Water for Purity
Other practices emphasize just seven bowls of water, representing the absolute purity of the Buddhas. Buddhas and enlightened deities obviously do not need the offerings, whether food, incense or water. The act of offering is for our own benefit, to show we think of our Bodhisattva vows first, that we wish to overcome attachments to these very things we offer. Water, without which there can be no life, is symbolic of our attachments and greed.
Seven water bowls is the most basic, yet complete offering. Some practices place a butter lamp or candle between the third and fourth water bowls. Lamps and candles symbolize wisdom and the illumination of the Dharma that releases us from ignorance. For ceremonial purposes, or elaborate offerings, the bowls might actually be filled with an offering symbolic of the sensory object,
Basic Water Offering in the Morning
1. Seven clean bowls of any pleasing material, usually copper, brass or silver, but many use porcelain or glass.
2. Fill a jug with clean water, usually mentally purifying the water as it is poured, often chanting the seed syllables of Buddhas body, speech and mind: OM AH HUM.
3. Do not place an empty bowl on the shrine. Clear a space lower than the objects of veneration, which might include statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas (body of Buddha), Sutras
(Speech of Buddha) or Stupas (Mind of Buddha). Fill the bowls one by one before placing on the altar.
4. Place from left to right, with only the space of one grain between each bowl. Continue chanting OM AH HUM or other purifying mantras and mentally visualize the water being purified or transformed into its essential nature of emptiness. Typically, mantras such as Om Mani Padme Hum, Om Ah Hung Vajra Guru Padma Sidhi hung, Om Muni Muni Maha Munaye Svaha or Om Tare Tuttare Ture Svaha would be chanted.
5. Make a dedication when all the bowls are filled.
The dedication is very important. A mechanically place offering, without virtuous intention or a dedication — even if the offerings were priceless jewels — would have no benefit. We try to genuinely dedicate the merit of the offerings to the elimination of suffering and its causes for all beings and to their cause for enlightenment.
This would typically be the all-important Seven Limbed Prayer, which takes many forms, but typically something like the seven lines (symbolic of the seven bowls):
1. prostrating, body, speech and mind
2.offerings to the Buddhas
3.confessing our wrongs
4.rejoicing in the good qualities of oneself and others
5.requesting the Buddhas to remain in this world
6.beseeching the Buddhas to teach others
7.dedicating the merit of ourselves and others
which has been accumulated throughout time,
Removing the Offerings
You can remove the bowls at the end of each day, any time before sunset, some do it the next morning when the new offerings are made.
Empty the bowls one by one, starting from the right this time, drying each one as you empty it with a clean cloth. When you are done, stack the bowls upside down and, offer the used water to your plants.
May water offerings help you to cultivate generosity and to be relieved of the pain of selfishness and greed!