About 700 devotees turned up for Than Hsiang Temple's Ching Ming Dharma Assembly held on 2 nd April 2006 at the Multi Purpose Hall. The Dharma Assembly started at 1.00pm with a Session of Pure Land Chanting. Altogether Three Sessions of Pure Land Chanting was held for the Dharma Assembly.
The Three Sessions of Pure Land recollection was compiled by the Yuan Dynasty National Master Zong Fung. It was conducted as a religious ceremony to help deceased and living (beings). Each of the Three Sessions consists of chanting the sutra, Amitabha Buddha Name Recitation, teachings, praises, repentance, and vow.
The Teaching of the First Session focused on Pure Land doctrine of faith, vow and practice, namely chanting of Amitabha Buddha's name. The Teaching of the Second Session focused on the power of the mind. To purify the mind, one has to use the power of repentance. The Teaching of the Third Session focused on the chanting of the Amitabha Buddha's name to tame the mind and to seek rebirth in the Pure Land.
A Dharma Talk was given by Venerable Wei Wu following the First Session of Pure Land Chanting. Venerable Wei Wu told the story of the origin of Cheng Beng (Qing Ming). According to the story, Zhong Er , later to become known as Jin Wen Gong when he became a king of the Jin Kingdom, was once saved by a minister, Jie Zitui when he was still a prince during a war. The minister had cut his own flesh to feed and thus save the Prince from near death due to starvation, when they were being chased by enemies. After he became king, Jin Wen Gong forgot his saviour.
By then, Jie Zitui had retired and went to stay in the mountain Mian Shan with his mother. When Jin Wen Gong heard about this, he regretted his lack of gratitude to Jie Zitui and tried to get Jie Zitui to return to serve his kingdom. When Jie Zitui declined to do so, Jin Wen Gong set fire to Mian Shan hoping to get Jie Zitui out. Unfortunately, Jie Zitui and his mother were burnt to death. Jie Zitui left a letter before his death: “I cut my meat to serve my king, I hope that he will always be pure and righteous – Qing Ming.”
Jin Wen Gong was so overwhelmed with regret that he ordered no fire be lit on the day Jie Zitui was burnt to death. The people took cold food on that day. The following year, to remember and honour Jie Zitui, Jin Wen Gong prayed to Jie Zitui on the anniversary day and named it Qing Ming day. Qing Ming day is also called Cold Food Day. With the passing of time, Qing Ming day became a day to honour the ancestors and the dead.
The purpose for having a Ching Ming Dharma Assembly at Than Hsiang Temple was also to develop gratitude for our parents and ancestors and to transfer merits to the departed ancestors and relatives. All donations and proceeds collected during the event was channelled towards the Education fund which organised activities, such as the Kindergarten, the Buddhist Research Centre, the International Buddhist College, the Buddhist Sunday Dharma School, and the Kalyana-mitra Home.