Q: Master Lu, I am praying to an image of Tai Sui Bodhisattva on the Buddhist altar in my home. During the course of following Guan Yin Citta Dharma Door, I realised that Tai Sui Bodhisattva changes every year. Should I invite this Tai Sui Bodhisattva to come down from the Buddhist altar?
- “Tai Sui” is a sacred position in heaven, and there is a total of 60 Bodhisattvas on duty there on a rotational basis. In the human realm, there are endless natural and man-made disasters, and these Bodhisattvas are specifically appointed to protect us. There is a different Bodhisattva on duty every year. When we pray to Tai Sui Bodhisattva, we are praying to the Bodhisattva on duty in the current year. As we do not know which Bodhisattva is on duty, we should not use the image or statue of any particular Bodhisattva as Tai Sui Bodhisattva.
- You can use a piece of yellow paper (A4 or A5 in size) and write “Tai Sui Bodhisattva” on it, or you can print these words from a computer (Chinese characters, either Traditional or Simplified text is acceptable). You can then frame this piece of paper and place it upright on the Buddhist altar, to the right of Guan Yin Bodhisattva. That is, when you are facing the statue or image of Guan Yin Bodhisattva, the image of Tai Sui Bodhisattva should be on your left-hand side.
- The first time that you pray to Tai Sui Bodhisattva, you can make offerings of water, fruit and oil (using an oil lamp). Then you can make an incense offering in front of the Buddhist altar and say the following prayer: “May the Greatly Merciful and Greatly Compassionate Guan Yin Bodhisattva bless me, <your full name>, with your compassion, please invite Tai Sui Bodhisattva into my home.” Finally, recite the holy name of Tai Sui Bodhisattva 108 times, and then recite the Xiao Zai Ji Xiang Shen Zhou 21 times.
- If, as in your case, you are praying to Tai Sui Bodhisattva with a particular image, not knowing if it is the current image or statue, you may invite the image of Tai Sui Bodhisattva to come down from the Buddhist altar. You can change it to a piece of paper with the words “Tai Sui Bodhisattva” printed on it and frame this piece of paper for praying. This way, you do not have to change it every year.
- Before inviting the image to come down from the altar, you should recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance 21 times, the Great Compassion Mantra 7 times, and the Heart Sutra 7 times.
- Then you should say, “Thank you to Tai Sui Bodhisattva, for helping me, <your full name>, and my family in the past. Thank you, Tai Sui Bodhisattva! Thank you, Tai Sui Bodhisattva!” (You must not say, “I’m inviting Tai Sui Bodhisattva off the altar.”)
- Please also refer to Q&A 97: Zodiac year of birth (or Ben Ming Nian).