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Closing Dedication to Seal 2017 Autumn-Winter Animal Life-Release

On January 14th, 2018, Khenchen Sherab Zangpo Rinpoche led a grand ceremony in Chengdu, China to dedicate the collective merit accumulated through the 2017 autumn-winter animal life-release activities. The group practice of life-release that started on September 21th last year lasted for 105 days and saved around 1 billion animal lives (including birds and fishes). During the ceremony, the aspiration prayer of Samantabhadra’s Aspiration to Good Actions was repeatedly chanted by the participants to dedicate the vast merit. The ceremony was also live-streamed to allow people elsewhere to participate.

Dedication is essential to the Buddhist practice. Although participants of the group practice either made dedication individually or with a group on the spot during the hundred-day period, it was still necessary to make closing dedication of the collective merit so as to seal the group practice properly and maximize its benefits.

Before the dedication started, Khenchen Rinpoche guided the participants to dedicate all sources of merit accumulated in the past, present and future to buddhas and bodhisattvas as offerings and to all sentient beings for their positive rebirth in the Pure Land. Meanwhile, the participants themselves should too aspire to rebirth in the Pure Land. The proper method of dedication should be free of the three concepts, that is, without clinging to the concepts that there being a person who makes dedication, a source of merit to be dedicated, and a goal towards which the dedication is directed. However, “this can be achieved by people who are spiritually accomplished but quite difficult for beginners.”

Therefore, Khenchen Rinpoche advised people to think along the following lines before chanting dedication verses: “I shall make dedication in the very same way as Manjushri, Samantabhadra and other buddhas and bodhisattvas do without clinging to the three concepts”, or “I shall make dedication in the same way as buddhas and bodhisattvas of the past, present and future do”, or “I shall make dedication in the same way as Amitabha or His Holiness Jigme Phuntsok Rinpoche did”. This, as Khenchen Rinpoche said, “will be a very good dedication, a perfect dedication … and this method should be applied to not only today’s dedication but also future ones.”

Given the importance of dedication and aspiration in the process of cultivating good virtues and achieving spiritual realization, Khenchen Rinpoche further elucidated,

“Whenever you do something positive, its merit is realized through dedication. For example, if our motivation of doing something positive is for the good fortune in this life, we need to make a wish and dedicate the merit to this very wish. If we aspire to positive rebirth in the Pure Land and attain Buddhahood, we need to dedicate the merit to this aspiration, which is also the very cause of Buddhahood [as well as the most important one of the four causes to take rebirth in the Pure Land].

Any source of merit without dedication will bear fruit only once, as its merit will not grow to allow us to reap the benefit twice or thrice. Besides, anger, flaunting and regret can too easily ruin the merit. But whatever is dedicated [to ultimate enlightenment] will grow ever greater until perfect Buddhahood is attained. In this respect, dedication is indispensible.

Today we are going to make dedication together. And it is important to continue to do so in the future. [Even] if we perform animal life-release [just] for the benefit of our parents’ health and longevity, we should dedicate the merit to this wish afterwards so that they can benefit … This is how we can reap the real benefit of doing positive things.”

In addition, Khenchen said that proper dedication and [altruistic] aspiration after a positive action is a crucial part of the three supreme methods (good in the beginning by arousing bodhichitta, good in the middle by holding the view of emptiness, and good in the ending by dedicating). So never forget to perform dedication and make aspiration at the end of any meritorious act, great or small.

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