Posted on February 18, 2019.
On the 8th of the 1st. Tibetan month (February 13, 2019), Tashi Lhunpo Monastery began ten days Great Miracle Prayer Festival (Chotrul Duchen). In 1409, the festival was consecrated by our great teacher and sage, Je Tsongkhapa, the emanation of Avalokiteshvara (Bodhisattva of immense compassion), Manjushri (Bodhisattva of immeasurable wisdom) and Vajrapani (Bodhisattva of Buddha’s protective power). It was founded to recognize and celebrate Shakyamuni Buddha’s performance of miracles and teachings centuries earlier in the city of Shravasti, India.
At Tashi Lhunpo monastery, the festival has an added significance. In 1474, the first Dalai Lama, the venerable Gendun Druppa, the founder of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery in Shigatse, Tibet, while dying, made his wish for his disciples to hold the prayer festival annually. Instead of grieving for his imminent passing, he instructed them to immerse themselves in prayers not only for him, but also for those who have passed on to achieve a higher rebirth.
As it is written, Shakyamuni Buddha was pursued for years by rival teachers. They repeated challenged Him to contest of miracles. He finally accepted. For 15 days and in front of a huge assembly of people who came from regions near and far from Shravasti, Shakyamuni Buddha performed one miracle after another, taming and subduing hordes of evil discharged from the rival teachers. He created vision of heavenly universe adorn with wish-fulfilling gem trees, celestial lakes with divine ducks and jewel lotuses and hosted meals of ambrosias to all present. He emitted rays of light from his body, expansing hosts of Buddhas, Budhisattvas and gods filling the skies. He manifested a vision of himself multiplying infinitely with his compassionate energy crystalizing to all present with great awareness radiating from illuminating clear light. Simultaneously, he gave teachings that miraculously fitted each attendance’s intelligence and capability.
His teachings became the central theme on the 8th day and onward when the 6 rival teachers disappeared, unable to harm Shakyamuni Buddha with their evil deeds or ability to perform miraculous deeds. They left their huge followers behind.
Buddha disapproved of using miracle as a mean of instilling faith. He resorted to miracle only when it became a necessity. Partly because of His appearance as an ordinary human after His attainment of enlightenment, at times, casted doubts to people whom He wished to emphasize the sacred and rarity of His knowledge. Under rare circumstances would He perform miracle to dispel doubts and affirm faith. During the first 8 days (འགྲན་ཟླ་དང་བཅས་པའི), Shakyamuni Buddha confirmed His divine presence and caused extraordinary miracles to impart genuine practice of loving-kindness and acquisition of wisdom of impermanence and emptiness. After the rival teachers disappeared and for remaining 6 days (འགྲན་ཟླ་མེད་པའི), Shakyamuni Buddha’s profound teachings were his grander miracles. Multitudes present in the Buddha field attained higher level of inner happiness and wisdom. Countless achieved arhatship.
Wherever the Great Miracle Prayer Festival is held such as at Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, and as the sacred and holy teachings of Lord Buddha are recited, the spaces are miraculously transformed into Buddhafields with the presence of Lord Buddhas and countless Bodhisattvas. Each sacred word spoken or chanted summoned the miracles created by Lord Buddha. Wrapped in Buddha’s blessings, the prayers affirm their deep faith in His teaching with immense gratitude for His wisdom. Those who practiced utmost and attentive concentration during the festival while opening their hearts to His teaching in true faith are gifted with true joy. Furthermore, the sacred pray chanted with clear mind and devotion becomes the path that leads both the prayers and dedicated devotees toward peace beyond suffering. Individual attendee is blessed with immeasurable blessings and forgiveness for past negative karmas. Together, their presence with other prayers created a universal karma, linking them forever.
We invite you to be a part of the festival by joining Tashi Lhunpo monks and devotees in your pray. From the depth of your anguish mind and heart, may the kind and compassionate rays arise and dispel all your sufferings. May your mind achieves clear light of impermanence and emptiness, in which you are able to rise above the ordinary and illusionary reality. May this prime and central teaching of Lord Buddha illuminates far and beyond to benefit all sentient beings. May you never falter in your faith and devotion. May your efforts bless you with intelligent mind and loving heart. May the actions of all beings in turn equal the acts of the Sugata himself, exterminating forever all sufferings.