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The month of July of the Lunar calendar is regarded as the month of filial piety in Buddhism.  In addition to the story of Venerable Moggallana saving his mother, another main reason is the compassionate wish of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha to save all sentient beings in hell.

"If hell is not empty, I will not become a Buddha; once all sentient beings are saved, I will realize Bodhi."  This is the impression most people have about Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva.

Regarding the meaning behind Ksitigarbha, the "Ksitigarbha Ten Wheel Sutra" says: "Being unmoved is like earth; meditating deeply is like a secret treasure of wisdom."

"Earth" refers to the earth that can give birth to all things (can be born), and is the source of nutrients that all things depend on (can be nourished).  Human being rely on mother earth for clothing, food, shelter, and travel (can sustain).  The first incomparable wish of this Bodhisattva is endurance.  Even though the masses repeatedly commit evil acts and fall into hell, he still does not abandon anyone.  His endurance is like the earth, so it is called "Earth".

"Zang" refers to treasures, which means that this Bodhisattva saves all sentient beings, cultivates all merits and virtues when he sees them, collects all merits and virtues, just like collecting treasures.  Another interpretation is that Bodhisattva has unrevealed treasures, which refers to his profound wisdom and the highest meditation power.  It can also be interpreted as the Tibetan Tathagata Bodhisattva, that is, the Buddha Nature.

As for the origin of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, according to the "Ksitigarbha Sutura", the girl in the sutra is kind and generous, and often helps the poor.  Her mother often kills and speaks harshly.  This karma leads to hell.  The kind girl was eager to save her mother, and so sold her property and gave alms to her mother.  Then she was guided by the Buddha and learned that her mother had ascended to heaven and escaped the suffering of hell after receiving the merit.  The kind girl is the present Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva.

It is also mentioned in "Biography of Divine Monks" and "Biography of Song Gaoseng" that there was a prince Jin in the Western Regions during Emperor Tang Gaozong era.  Although he was the heir to the throne, he has no interest in politics or fame.  he became a monk, took the name "Ksitigarbha" and sailed to China.  He settled on Mount Jiuhua and practiced devotedly.  He was respected and supported by an honorable elderly name Min Gong and the mountain god.

Monk Ksitigarbha asked Min Gong to bestow a piece of land to build a temple.  With his supernatural power he let the cassock cover the peak of Mount Jiuhua.  Therefore, Min Gong happily offered this mountain to him as a dojo for Ksitigarbha to spread the Dharma.

Monk Ksitigarbha lived on Mount Jiuhua for 75 years to promoted the Dharma.  He has taught countless people and left many touching stories about how he propagated the Dharma.  On July 30th, in the year Kaiyuan 26 (emperor Tang Xuanzong reigned from 713-741), right before his passing, the image of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva emerged.  He is recognized by later generations as the incarnation of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva.

Every July 30th of the Lunar calendar is the anniversary of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva.














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