Buddhism Your Questions Answered (171 FAQ)

Q&A 39. Placement and storage of sutra booklets

Q: Master Lu, what is the correct way to store sutra booklets?  What should we do if sutra booklets have been stored inappropriately and have become mouldy due to exposure to moisture?  Which mantra or sutra should we recite for our negligence?  What should we do about the damaged sutra booklets?  Thank you!

A:

  • Strictly speaking, sutra booklets must not be stored in messy, untidy or unclean places.  They must not be handled with unclean hands, left open face down, stored in a location that is lower than your navel, or placed on chairs, etc.
  • For example, sutra booklets must not be placed in places that have an impure energy field such as the toilet/bathroom, etc. They must also not be left among miscellaneous, inappropriate books or novels (e.g. pornographic novels).
    They are best stored horizontally, as some sutra booklets contain images of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas and may attract foreign spirits to them when stored vertically.  If the sutra booklets contain only text and no images, there should be no issues with storing them vertically.
  • If the sutra booklets have been exposed to moisture, then dry them in the sun if possible. If that is not possible, wrap them in red coloured materials (e.g. red fabric), and then put them aside for at least one year before disposal.
  • After one year has passed, you should proceed by reciting the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance 7 times, then wrap the sutra booklets and take them to a temple or monastery.
  • If the sutra booklets have been severely damaged, you should recite the Eighty-Eight Buddhas Great Repentance 21 times. If the sutra booklets became illegible long ago, then they are no longer considered to be sutra booklets.  In that case, you can dispose of them at your own discretion.
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