xabir wrote:So the story in the sutras about mogallana saving his mother in hell by dedicating merits have no basis in dharma at all?
Well, there are some issues when reading the Ullambana Sutra. There's a lot of Chinese influence:
It has been shown conclusively by Ogawa Kan'ichi, Ishigami Zennõ, and Nagai Yoshinori that the basic outlines of the Maudgalyãyana legend came to China from India. But the details of the story for which this Buddhist saint is best known, the rescue of his mother from infernal suffering, seem to have been fully elaborated only in China.
- Victor H. Mair - Notes on the Maudgalyana Legend in East Asia
I think a better understanding is in the Majjhima Nikaya - Moggallana was able to depart bodily from the human world and reappear in a celestial realm. Repeatedly he made use of this capacity for instructing other beings and looking after the affairs of the Order. Thus he taught the Gods of the Thirty-three the Factors of stream-entry, or tested Sakka, King of Gods, whether he had understood the teaching about the extinction of craving.
His powers enabled him to teach Dharma effectively as opposed to just making offerings to the dead. However, in the Ullambana Sutra, there is this passage:
At that time the Buddha commanded the assembled Sangha of the ten directions to recite mantras and vows for the sake of the donor's family, for parents of seven generations.
Perhaps if spirits were there to hear the mantras, then I guess it could be beneficial.
Also, "according to the Sutra of The Great Vows of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, one can "transfer" 1/7 merit of an act they have performed to a deceased loved one"... You think this is not true?
But how is this "transfer" happening?
To Namdrol's point:
In any event, I think the Ksitigarbha sutra is 100% Chinese apocrypha.
The real reason for Ksitigarbha’s importance in East Asian Buddhism, however, is probably his central role in the Dizangpusa benyingjing, a sutra which seems to be of Chinese or just possibly Khotanese origin, and is not known in any Tibetan version.
- Mahayana Buddhism: The Doctrinal Foundations