Ulambana – Day 2, Candlelight ceremony for our ancestors

Today is day 2, Korea time, of the evening Ulambana candlelight ceremony, or 백중, when we remember our ancestors and focus on helping them. The question becomes, how do we help them? It’s not like we can just whip up a meal for them or hand over some spending money, though in a way that does sort of happen.

The key thing is that they are not separate from us. That’s true for everything, but there seems to be a stronger effect with those whom we have the closest karmic connection. When we are entrusting what’s going on with us, they’re along for the ride, so to speak. They also learn and experience this oneness. They also experience the sincerity we’re feeling (this is how heartfelt offerings have an effect).

Sometimes this combined oneness is enough to help them let go of whatever mental state may be blocking them. If confusion, regret, or anger are holding them, they may be free of those for a moment or perhaps forever. If that’s not a problem, then they may experience a charge of energy and inspiration that helps them move even further forward. And this happens even if they’ve been reborn. They, living in their current body, may suddenly experience a day when everything seems clearer. Where they suddenly feel free of some attachments or foibles, or even perhaps, where they may glimpse the interconnection of all existence.

So when you think of them, when you think of what they may have gone through, and when you think of their old appearance, let go and entrust all of that. Combine all of that with your foundation. They’ve moved beyond those things now, so let’s introduce them to this foundation of everything, and let them take steps forward relying upon that. Daehaeng Kun Sunim once called this path “Walking on emptiness”, because you go forward relying upon this connection with all to guide us, even though we may not see the path for ourselves. Even though there is nothing fixed for us to grab with our thoughts.

Mind and Body

If you’re truly practicing, you won’t have to worry too much about your body.
Of course, if your body is sick, that shakes your mind and makes it harder to think clearly, but when you really have faith,
when you are really trying to practice,
then you know that pain and illness too came from your foundation,
so you just entrust it back there, understanding,
“You formed me. You’re what drags this body around,
so whether it’s a healthy body that travels around or not
is up to you. I’m not going to worry about it.”
You just entrust the whole thing there,
and get on with what you have to do.
This is how to practice without getting trapped and distracted by events.

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