Lama Zopa Rinpoche answered a student’s question about why monks receive offerings before nuns during pujas, and advised that if the student makes offerings to the pores of the guru then the student will collect the same merit as having offered to numberless buddhas, Dharma, Sangha, statues, stupas, and scriptures.
When making offerings to Sangha in pujas, generally people offer first to the monks and then to the nuns. Actually this is probably more a Tibetan custom, as in Tibet even the lay people do this. The women also do this; they always offer to the men first.
From my side, how I think is that you could offer to each monk and nun at the same time. So you could have two people making offerings to monks and nuns at the same time, down the two rows.
Probably you have not heard, but I am not sure. Anyway, when you are making offerings, whether to lay people or Sangha, if they have received teachings from His Holiness the Dalai Lama, and if they have the same guru as you—such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama or the center geshe—think that every one of the students is the pores of your guru. If you think that as you make offerings, then you collect unbelievable merit.
You collect more merit than having made offerings to numberless buddhas, Dharma, and Sangha, and numberless statues, stupas, and scriptures in the ten directions. You collect much more merit by thinking that they are the guru’s pores and then making the offering, even to lay people. Even giving a glass of water, a piece of fruit, a biscuit, or one nut to a lay person who is a disciple of His Holiness or the center geshe, who is also your guru. By thinking that this person is the guru’s pore and then offering one biscuit or one piece of candy, you collect much more merit than having made offerings to numberless buddhas, Dharma, Sangha, and numberless statues, stupas, and scriptures in the ten directions.
This is not just in a puja. This refers to any time.
That’s why I say at the centers, don’t think that to collect merit you always have to offer to the monasteries. You can collect so much merit at the center, right there, by offering to the students who have the same guru as you. However many students there are, you can make offerings to them, and you will collect the same merit as having offered to numberless buddhas, Dharma, Sangha, statues, stupas, and scriptures. There are so many students.
This advice, “Burning Holy Objects and Offering to Sangha,” is from “Lama Zopa Rinpoche’s Online Advice Book,” published in March 2018 on the Lama Yeshe Wisdom Archive website:
Lama Zopa Rinpoche is the spiritual director of the Foundation for the Preservation of Mahayana Tradition (FPMT), a Tibetan Buddhist organization dedicated to the transmission of the Mahayana Buddhist tradition and values worldwide through teaching, meditation, and community service.