The hungry ghost asked her mother to make merit and dedicate it to her
The Triple Gems are the great refuges consisting of the Buddha, Dhamma, and Sangha Gems. These Triple Gems are the core of Buddhism and the refuge and memorial of the world and all kinds of beings. Human was born to seek for these highest refuges. Those who can attain the Triple Gems and see the clear bright Dhammakaya at the center of the bodies are people who are really happy and successful in their lives. They can achieve a level of goals of being born as a human. The Lord Buddha and Arahants attained the Arahant Dhammakaya which is the highest goal of life.
There is a Dhamma proverb in the Dasakanipata that “When a man recalled that this person had given him some money or food, that person had helped him to do this work, another ones were his father’s or mother’s side relatives and other ones were his friends, he made merit and dedicated merit to them.”
Making merit and then dedicating to the passed away people is one of Phlikarma 5 in Buddhism which the Lord Buddha introduced that when a man is successful in life, he should do these things more: 1) helping relatives 2) welcoming the guests well 3) paying taxes 4) Making merit and dedicating it to the celestial beings and 5) Making merit and dedicating it to the passed away relatives or friends to ensure that they would go to the fortunate realms.
*Like the story in the ancient time, there was a well-known courtesan named Serinee. She lived in Hatthineeburi city, Kururath country. She was a beautiful girl and worked as a courtesan until she became rich. At that time, there were some monks traveling to seek the suitable places to spread Dhamma to people in many cities including this city. The monks held the religion ceremonies at the Main Buddhist Chapel on the 15th waxing moon.
When the residents had seen the monks, they persuaded one another to prepare food and drinks to offer the monks as Sangha Dana. They also agreed that the monks rarely traveled to this city, so they invited the monks to stay another 15 days because they wanted to make the Dana perfection and practice meditation for heaven or Nirvana.
The monks determined that the residents were faithful, so the monks kindly accepted to stay there 15 more days. The residents thought that Serinee was rich and usually broke the 3rd precept, they wanted her to make merit. But, she was not faithful and also announced that she did not offer anything to the monks because it could not make her rich.
When the residents could not persuade her to make merit, they had to be quiet. Later, Serinee became sick and finally, passed away. She was reborn as a hungry ghost who did not wear any cloth at a ditch in the countryside. She did not have any food nor drink at all. She had to travel to seek for the food scraps which happened from the little dedicated merit, so she was not full.
One day, a man from Hatthineeburi city went to trade at that village. He went to the ditch to take a bath at the dawn. When Serinee saw him, she remembered him and intent to ask him for help. So she appeared herself as the hungry ghost who did not wear anything, was very skinny and as high as the palm tree. She looked terrible and appeared in a place not far away from that man. However, when that man saw her, he did not fear at all because he was confident in his precepts. So he shouted that “You don’t wear anything and are very ugly. You are full of tendons and very skinny so that I can see only your ribs. Who are you? Why do you come here?” The hungry ghost replied him that “Dear sir, I am a hungry ghost. Now I am troubling in the Hungry Ghost World because of my sin and bad deeds. Please help me to quit from this condition.”
She described more that “Dear sir, when I was a human being, I had a lot of properties. But I was sticky, greedily and did not want to offer anything, so I did not make merit at all and in addition, I abused the monks who were the fertilized merit fields as well. Because of these bad deeds, when I am thirsty and go to the river bank, the water becomes disappear at once. When I feel hot, I go to rest under the tree, the shadow of the tree becomes hot and burns my skin. The wind also becomes the fire and burns me until charcoal. I has died and been reborn to be a hungry repeatedly.”
When that man had heard like that, he was pity on the hungry ghost and asked that how he could help her to quit being a hungry ghost. The hungry ghost replied that “If you come back to Hatthineeburi city, please tell my mother that I’m troubling in the Hungry Ghost World. I have 400,000 Kahapana hidden under the bed and never tell anyone. Please tell my mother to bring that money to prepare alms and offer to the monks. When my mother finishes offering Sangha Dana, please dedicate merit to me. I will be quit from the Hungry Ghost World.” That man accepted to help her because of pity.
After finishing trading in the late morning, that man left for Hatthineeburi city hurriedly. Then, he told his conversation with the hungry ghost to her mother. When her mother heard like that, her mother went to see that whether there was money under the bed or not. When her mother saw 400,000 Kahapana, her mother prepared food and alms hurriedly, offered alms to the monks and dedicated merit to the hungry ghost. As soon as her mother dedicated merit to her, she was reborn as an angel and having a lot of celestial properties.
At that night, Serinee visited her mother and appeared as an angel. She told her mother that she had already got merit dedicated by her mother. When Serinee’s mother knew that Serinee was reborn as an angel, her mother became more faithful in Buddhism, so her mother brought remain money to offer alms to the monks and dedicated merit to her regularly. Her mother kept the precepts and practiced meditation intently. Finally, her mother passed away and was reborn in the Tavatimsa Heaven.
You can see that greediness is harmful for our lives after we pass away. It has caused many people to reborn as the hungry ghosts. Making merit and dedicating it to the passed away relatives will affect the receivers depending on many factors such as making merit with the fertilized merit fields and the receivers are in the condition that can receive the dedicated merit as well, example, they are hungry ghosts, common ghosts, or angels, etc. If they are in the hell, they have to be punished in the hell until their bad karma is less enough to quit the hell before receiving the dedicated merit. When you know like this, you should not be careless or greedy. You should make merit as much as possible before passing away from the human world. Your merit will lead you to have the celestial and Nirvana properties. You life will be safe and is really worthy for being reborn as a human.
Sermon by the Most Ven. Phrathepyanmahamuni (Chaiyaboon Dhammajayo)
*Thai Tipitaka from Mahamakut Buddhist University, Book No. 49, Page No. 413
Translated by Chadawee Chaipooripat