《譬喻經》卷二記載，佛陀十大弟子之一的阿那律尊者，有「天眼第一」的稱譽。他過去世曾是一個小偷，原本想偷寺院裡的香油錢，無意間發現佛前的燈快要滅 了，就用箭去把燈芯挑正，使燈恢復光明。當佛前燈明亮後，抬頭看見莊嚴的佛像，心生慚愧，從此革心向善。此後經過九十一劫的修行，聽佛說法，證得聖果。因 為過去以箭正燈，感得遇佛修行而證悟得道果，獲得天眼通。
佛陀住世時，有神通力的聖者可以放光，他們的德行讓人尊崇禮拜；但佛陀放光、聖者放光是讓我們見賢思齊，讓我們懂得自覺，努力點亮心燈，讓自己的生命也能 時時放光。在生活裡，學習：口中放光，即講好話；眼中放光，即目中有人、慈眼待人；手中放光，即做好事。若每一個人都能放射出慈悲光、般若光，在照亮別人 的同時，也把光明帶給了自己。
獻燈，是希望我們每個人心裡點亮一盞慈悲的燈、智慧的燈。一個人即使物質生活欠缺，只要他有慈悲，有智慧，生命就變得充實、富有。 此外，還要點亮一盞歡喜的燈、信仰的燈，假如內心有了歡喜、信仰，比世界上有形的財富更為重要。我們更要為社會、為全世界點亮一盞和諧的燈，點亮一盞彼此尊重的燈，大家仰仗著這盞燈，互相尊重，同體共生，如此一來，居住在這個地球上是件多麼美好的事 希望大家藉由點燈，為世間點亮一盞和平的燈光，讓國家與國家和平相處，讓種族與種族和諧友愛。當我們有燈光時，並不覺得它的重要，一旦周遭一片黑暗，就會 感到非常恐慌。就如平常我講「佛」是什麼，大家並不知道，也不容易看得到，其實，佛好比光，光能破除黑暗，給予溫暖，轉生成熟。同樣，佛的光能破除我們內心貪、瞋、痴、煩惱無明的黑暗，溫暖我們的心，圓滿我們的人生、人格、未來，成就一切功德。 人生最美、最有價值的事，就是心中有一盞明燈。希望大家能藉由獻燈找回自己，讓每個人都覺得︰我今天找到了自己，我要把真正的自己帶回家，把點亮希望的燈帶回家，把佛光平安帶回家，把大家給我們的所有因緣帶回家。
The light from a single lamp can, in an instant, dispel the darkness that has prevailed for thousands of years. The light symbolizes brightness and wisdom. The Avatamsaka Sutra states, “The light of wisdom can expel all darkness.” A Light Offering is
one of the Ten Offerings in Buddhism, and are conducted by Buddhist temples in the form of a Light Offering Dharma Service during the Lunar New Year.
According to the Chinese, lanterns are lit on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year and extinguished on the 18th. Scores are settled on the 19th and journeys are begun on the 20th. In Taiwanese folklore, Temple fairs are also a feature, whereby on the 15th day of the Lunar New Year, Lantern Festivals and Lantern Parades are held.
Each year, the “New Year Festival of Light and Peace” is held at Fo Guang Shan from the 1st to the 30th day of the Lunar New Year, where people can make Light Offerings at the Main Shrine. Furthermore, Light Offerings are made during the Medicine Buddha Dharma Services.
Why do we offer light? Akin to the fire in a stove that cooks food and keeps it warm, the light can dispel darkness and bring people warmth. There is a saying in Fo Guang Shan, “The Buddha’s light shines universally.” The Buddha is the light that makes us brighter, brings us warmth, and offers refuge. With the Buddha’s light in our hearts, we are guided on the path to becoming sages and buddhas, kindling growth and realization.
During the time of the Buddha, there was a bhiksu named Dravya Mallaputra who was entrusted with the task of receiving guests. For 30 years, he would patiently await the arrival of guests no matter how late, and guide them to their lodgings with a lantern in hand to illuminate the path. Several decades later, Dravya Mallaputra no longer needed the lantern to light the way for guests, for his fingers emitted light on their own.
Fascicle Two of the Sutra of Parables chronicles the story of Aniruddha, one of the ten great disciples of the Buddha, known as “foremost in heavenly vision.” In one of his previous lives, Aniruddha was a thief. One day, as this thief snuck into a temple to steal the money donated, he saw that a lamp placed before the Buddha statue was nearly extinguished. Using an arrow, he straightened the wick of the lamp and so the light flared up anew. With the light shining again, he gazed upon the majestic statue of the Buddha and felt ashamed, and vowed to turn over a new leaf. After ninety-one kalpas of cultivation, Aniruddha was able to listen to the Dharma teachings from the Buddha and attain enlightenment. It is said that straightening the wick of the lamp with the arrow became the cause of his encounter with the Buddha, which eventually led to his attainment of arhatship and heavenly vision.
Likewise, Maudgalyayana, foremost in superknowledge, once gave a Dharma talk in Trayastrimsa Heaven. Upon seeing a heavenly maiden, he commended her for her elegant appearance. The heavenly maiden replied that this was the result of light offerings made in her past life during the reign of King Bimbisara.
The Fayuan Zhulin—a Buddhist encyclopedia—also states eight benefits of a light offering:
- 1Elegant appearance.
- 2Elevated faith.
- 3Strengthened morality and upholding of precepts.
- 4Harmonious and happy family.
- 5Improved aptitude in expounding the Dharma.
- 6Growth in spiritual cultivation.
- 7If reborn in the human realm, one will be born in a wealthy family; if reborn in the heavenly realms, one’s heavenly rank will increase.
- 8A clear understanding of one’s goals for a brighter future and the attainment of bodhi.
When making a light offering to the Buddha, it is of greater importance to illuminate the light within. All buddha lands are infinitely bright for there is no darkness within the minds of the buddhas. Making a light offering is not merely an offering,
but also sheds light on our right mindfulness and faith.
Have you given rise to faith? To have faith is to affirm our buddha-nature. Without faith, the light within us is unlit. Once our inner light is sparked, we must add oil to fuel it. This applies to many things in this world as well. For example, when the oil in a car is refilled, it can keep moving. In Buddhism, to add oil means to rejoice and practice generosity as well as wholesome and virtuous deeds. Once our faith and merit are fulfilled our inner light will shine clearer and brighter than even sunlight or moonlight, illuminating every corner of the universe. When our inner light is lit, our buddha-nature is revealed, and our mind is filled with brightness and purity. Only then can loving-kindness, compassion, and wisdom arise.
In the time of the Buddha, sages that possessed superknowledge radiated light, for it was their virtuous deeds that earned the respect and reverence of the people. The Buddha and sages radiating light reminds us to emulate them, to practice self-awareness, and strive to shine our inner light so that we may also radiate light throughout our lives. In our daily lives, let our mouths shine by speaking good words; let our eyes shine by acknowledging and treating people with loving-kindness; let our hands shine by doing good deeds. If everyone can shine with the lights of loving-kindness, compassion, and prajna wisdom, not only are we illuminating others, we will also be illuminating ourselves.