Question: I make food and water offerings at my doorstep daily to any passing wandering spirits, after which I dedicate merits to all beings and say aloud, ‘May all good brothers and sisters (好兄弟姐妹) partake of this, and seek birth in Amituofo’s Pure Land’, followed by chanting Amituofo’s name a few times. Is this alright?
Answer: It is wonderful that you practise as described, to further your generosity and compassion to more beings. However, you do not have to address any beings as ‘good brothers and sisters’, as this has the possibility of creating attachment on your side and the side of wandering spirits. You can just set the intention for the offerings to be for any passing beings, which naturally includes hungry insects, animals, ghosts and humans.
If you wish to offer to unseen beings, it is best to offer not just food and merits, but also the power of guidance, for reaching Amituofo’s Pure Land, by chanting Amituojing (Amitabha Sutra) and Amituofo (Amitabha Buddha’s name) more. Merely offering food and the power of merits might attract beings attached to just wanting indefinitely more of these, while having no clear direction of where to go. This might lead to lingering and eventual karmic rebirth to an unknown realm.
Even if Amituojing is not chanted daily, more of Amituofo’s name should be chanted daily. Chanting of Amituojing introduces who Amituofo is, where his Pure Land is, and what it is like, followed by why, when and how it can be reached. It expresses the essence of the Pure Land teachings. This is while chanting of Amituofo’s name sets the example for how to practise accordingly to reach his Pure Land, where there will be no more suffering, with the promise of liberation. These two chanting practices offer both powers of merits and guidance.
How To Share The Power Of Merits & Guidance