(2.20) In addition to these, may masses of offerings
Resounding with music and beautiful melodies
Remain like so many clouds that send down relief
To suffering living beings.
(2.21) And upon all the holy Dharma Jewels,
The stupas, and the images,
May there fall an uninterrupted rain
Of flowers, jewels, and so forth.
We do not seek to attain rebirth in the pure land for our own sake, rather we seek to be born there because once we have done so we will be able to send out countless emanations into the realms of samsara to gradually lead all of our kind mothers to join us in eternal bliss. When we send an emanation, we do not feel as if we have somehow left the pure land and gone into the realms of samsara, rather it feels as if we remain centered in the pure land, but are aware of what our emanation is doing in the contaminated worlds. While a crude analogy, it is not that different than playing a video game, where we sit comfortably on our couch while our virtual avatar participates in epic adventures in the game world. Hard-core gamers often talk of how they “lose themselves” in their games so much so they temporarily forget their living room and are completely immersed in the game world all while actually never leaving the couch.
Once in the pure land, we are not limited to a single emanation, but can send out increasing numbers of emanations as we move closer to enlightenment. When we do finally attain enlightenment, we are able to directly and simultaneously send out countless emanations to each and every being without exception, guiding them, helping them, nourishing them progressively towards their own enlightenment. Our emanations can take a variety of forms, from beings who appear to be Spiritual Guides giving flawless teachings in this world to an electrical outlet in the International Terminal of an airport powering your laptop and everything in between.
In the Guru Yoga of Je Tsongkhapa we pray that he please “send down a rain of vast and profound Dharma appropriate to the disciples of this world.” The teachings of a Buddha are not even remotely limited to the sounds and sights of formal Dharma teachings in a temple or a Dharma center, but can be transmitted through conversations overheard, the clanking of dishes or even the rustling of the leaves in the wind. All that is required is a special mind of faith that believes everything they see or hear is actually emanated by their guru to teach them the truth of Dharma and to guide them along the path. This special mind of faith opens our mind to receive the blessings of all of the Buddhas through everything around us. Some people who smoke marijuana report gaining deep realizations from activities as simple as opening a bag of potato chips, but the faithful practitioner has no need for drug-induced insight (and all the negative side effects associated with addiction) when through their mind of faith they are able swim in an ocean of wisdom teachings even as they brush their teeth.
While it is perfectly possible to receive flawless teachings through anything and everything if our mind of faith is sufficiently qualified, conventionally speaking it is often easier to do so when we direct our mind towards the Dharma when we have special objects, such as stupas, statues, Dharma centers and the like. If Buddhas can emanate themselves as anything, surely they must also do so as holy and sacred objects. Some people misunderstand the meaning of statues, shrines and temples as some form of idolatry. But the qualified practitioner is not worshipping some piece of metal, rather they use the statue as a reminder of what lies beyond. While their eye awareness may perceive some well-crafted metal, their mental awareness perceives a living Buddha. It is towards that living Buddha that the practitioner directs their prayers and requests.
By offering an “uninterrupted rain” of holy objects in the way Shantideva explains, we create the causes for the Buddhas to enter into everything around us. Geshe-la explains wherever you imagine a Buddha, a Buddha actually goes; and wherever a Buddha actually goes they accomplish their function which is to bestow blessings. If we look around us, what do we see? We see countless people all face down in their iPhones. What if we imagined that instead of seeing Facebook or pictures of their kids they were actually looking at Buddhas? By imagining this, whenever people looked into their phones they would receive the blessings of all of the Buddhas through them. They might not be aware of it, but we know what is really going on. In this way, we fill our world with holy objects through which all those around us receive blessings and teachings. We literally bring the pure world into this world through the power of such faithful imaginings and as a result gradually ripen and liberate all living beings in our karmic dream.
If we practice in this way, it is certain that we too will begin to receive teachings through everyone and everything, no matter where we go and no matter what we are doing. Every moment can be a formal Dharma teaching, and making offerings in this way creates the causes for this to be our living reality.