Day-2 Discourse by H.H. Living Buddha Lian-sheng Sheng-yen Lu in New York on June 22, 1997

Translated by Janny Chow from the transcript published in True Buddha News

Be United and Strong

First of all, we would like to express our gratitude to the president and board members, as well as to all of the volunteers and fellow students of the True Buddha Diamond Temple, for all of the work they have done for this ceremony. We pray to Vajrasattva to shine light on them and bless them, so they will have good health and auspiciousness in all of their undertakings. [audience applause]

At the same time we want to thank all of the masters and venerables for coming to give support to such a grand ceremony. [audience applause]

We pray that the most honorable and mighty Vajrasattva of the Empty Space will bring peace to our hearts and minds, fulfill our supplications, avert all disasters, and help us grow in wisdom and fortune.

To be able to hold yesterday's and today's ceremonies here at Madison Square Garden in New York, and to have such a complete success is an unprecedented event in the annals of our True Buddha School. [audience applause]

Yesterday we discussed Ucchusma, the Great Sovereign Divine King Buddha, and today we are conducting a Vajrasattva fire puja. I believe these two ceremonies of ours are extremely remarkable. I am a very forthright person - if I cannot see anything, then I tell you that I do not see anything. If I do see something, then I will just say what I see. So, I will just say very candidly that earlier, at the beginning of the fire puja, while everyone was chanting the True Buddha Sutra and reading the supplication verses, I saw Vajrasattva appearing amid an expanse of red and yellow lights. Emitting from his body were rays of brilliant, sparkling, and very subtle, fine white lights. [audience applause] Each of the light rays could be clearly distinguished. Instead of being a great big patch of light, the light rays could actually be counted one by one. That is, one could see and count the exact number of light rays from the crown of Vajrasattva all the way down to the area surrounding his body. This vision was real and also very clear. [audience applause]

We are very grateful to Vajrasattva for upholding this great Dharma ceremony of ours, and we pray to Vajrasattva to compassionately shine light on all of the beings registered for this ceremony, so that their wishes may be fulfilled. [audience applause]

These two ceremonies have been conducted in a very majestic way. Although there was a little confusion, it was overall very orderly. This kind of situation happens in every one of our True Buddha Dharma ceremonies. Everyone says, ''Our ceremonies usually are quite chaotic at the beginning but, as soon as the Grand Master is seated, everything becomes orderly.'' [audience applause] So, never mind the little confusion. Each of our Dharma ceremonies will turn out to be very successful and dignified.

It is obvious that our True Buddha School students, although ordinarily indifferent towards each other, are not like a tray of loose sand. They are quite united and strong, like the Himalayas, when something really needs to be done. [audience applause]

I have often talked about this. In the past, when masters reached their seats and noticed that one or two chairs were missing, they would start pushing one another and fighting for their chairs. I always told them, ''No problem. Whoever wins gets the seat; whoever loses can stand on the side.'' [audience laughter] But, the good thing is that, although such a situation exists, we are like the Himalayas, a most lofty, majestic, and sacred mountain. [audience applause]

The Merging of Deity and Self / A Complete Offering

Today, we will continue with the discussion of the methods of cultivation. Yesterday, I talked about the mudra, mantra, and visualization associated with the Ucchusma Practice. During visualization, remember the key step of chanting ten times ''Namo Fundamental Teacher Shakyamuni Buddha, Namo Manifestation Body Shakyamuni Buddha, Namo Ucchusma Great Sovereign Divine King Buddha.'' Visualize Shakyamuni Buddha appearing inside a moon disc in the Empty Space. There is a vajra throne in the moon disc and upon it sits ''Namo Fundamental Teacher Shakyamuni Buddha'' who is ''Namo Manifestation Body Shakyamuni Buddha.'' Shakyamuni Buddha's crown emits a blue light, and amid the blue light ''Ucchusma the Great Sovereign Divine King Buddha'' appears. His hair is reddish and flies furiously upward. Each of his three faces is ferocious and wrathful. He has eight arms and, while each arm is wrapped around by a dragon king, each hand holds an implement. The practitioner should look carefully at an Ucchusma image before doing the visualization.

First, start with the visualization of Shakyamuni Buddha. Then, visualize Ucchusma with the three faces and eight arms. Next, from the heart of Ucchusma a blue light emerges to shine on the heart of the practitioner. At this moment, in a flash, the practitioner is transformed into Ucchusma, the Great Sovereign Divine King Buddha. This is the visualization for this practice.

In the liturgy of our True Buddha Tantric Dharma, we perform visualization first. During visualization, one holds the mudra. After releasing the mudra, one starts counting the mala beads while chanting the mantra, ''Om, ju-lu, du-lan, hum, re.''

Following visualization and mantra chanting is the step of entering into samadhi. During samadhi, invoke the Wisdom Personal Deity of Ucchusma to enter into one's heart, and oneself to enter into Ucchusma's heart. Reaching for stabilization in a state of concentrated equilibrium, while invoking Ucchusma and the manifestation of his power, is entering into samadhi.

One must know the liturgy of the True Buddha Tantric Dharma thoroughly, then one will be able to do the practice in a methodical, orderly, and systematic manner.

During the practice, one needs to engender a concentrated equilibrium. A concentrated equilibrium signifies that one is able to quiet one's mind. Such a method of practice is also a practice of one-pointedness. One-pointedness is focused and undistracted, and it will give rise to a kind of power and a very tremendous spiritual force.

With its specific mudra, mantra, and visualization, the Ucchusma Practice appears to be very simple. In terms of offering, one may use incense and flowers which are what the sutras emphasize. One may also use wine and meat. In Tantrayana, the offering of meat is not prohibited. When one makes an offering to the Diamond Protectors, the offering is not restricted to vegetarian foods but may include meat.

According to Tantric lineage masters, offerings made to Dharma protectors, ferocious deities, Diamond ''strong-men,'' and sky-dancers may consist of meat. As I have discussed at Wa Kwang Purple Lotus University, the Diamond ''strong-men'' are powerful, muscular, and equipped with swords and knives. They guard the practitioner while he or she is on the path. Ucchusma is no different; he is a mighty protector guarding the practitioner during his practice.

Offerings of Meat and Liquor to Mighty Protectors

If one only offers vegetables to him every time, this is how he will look when he picks up the knife. [Grand Master demonstrates a lack-of-strength pose to audience laughter] During an encounter with the demons and ghosts, the Diamond strong-man could only say, ''I am going to conquer you.'' [spoken very slowly] This is because he eats only vegetables and does not consume enough calories. It is like asking American soldiers to consume only a vegetarian diet and then sending them off to Vietnam or the Korean war, or to combat in the mountains and jungles. When I was serving in the military, I had to carry an M1 semi-automatic rifle, which is very heavy. To a person who lacks the strength but has to carry such a rifle over long distances, fatigue will kill him before the enemy does.

Imagine if one only offers vegetables to these Diamond ferocious deities, dakas, dharmapalas, and spiritual generals who are quite mighty and powerful to begin with. After descending to your shrine and accepting your food offering, they start to develop muscular atrophy, and might even end up in wheelchairs [audience laughter] as they can hardly move at all. Therefore, offerings made to the Diamond ''strong-men'' are not the same as those made to Bodhisattvas. One may offer vegetarian foods to Bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas have the Diamond Dharma protectors to protect them, and thus they can sit quietly and chant. They can afford to have a vegetarian diet, as chanting does not require much strength.

Let me ask you, what would happen if you ask all of the Olympic participants to eat just a vegetarian diet? Even gymnastic exercises such as the horizontal bars and balance beams burn up a lot of calories. If one asked the athletes to become vegetarians and enter into such intense competitions, they would break records all right, the record for getting the worst score ever. [audience laughter] Athletes need to consume high amounts of calories. If all players in the soccer and basketball finals were asked to become vegetarians, they would start panting and falling to the ground after only running around the court a couple of times! The diet does make a difference!

Therefore, when we make offerings to the great Diamond Protectors such as Hevajra, Ucchusma, Kalachakra, and Yamantaka, we may use meat, such as raw or cooked beef. We may also offer alcoholic beverages.

Earlier during the fire puja, the liquor I offered was not for Vajrasattva, but for all of the dakas, dharmapalas, and vajra-rajas. This way, they will have the power to carry out tasks and help one accomplish what one wishes.

You also saw me making offerings of perfumes. Why perfumes? Among the various heavens are many goddesses and dakinis who are delighted by the offering of perfumes. Many dakas and dakinis from the various heavens will descend. Offer liquor to the dakas and do not get the offerings mixed up. If one offers liquor to the dakinis, they will get drunk. Neither is it appropriate to offer perfume to the dakas, as they do not necessarily like it.

Thus, the kind of offerings made to various heavens are, in general, determined by the likings of the beings there. Offerings made to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are different. Use what you yourself like as offerings to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, because they themselves have no cravings. The beings in the heavenly realms are different; they have their own likings and aversions. For example, dragon kings like offerings of milk and the golden-winged roc likes grains and food crops. One must know how to make adjustments. Offerings made to vajra-rajas may include meat and liquors.

As the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas do not have cravings, one may offer them vegetarian foods and any jewelry or treasure one cherishes oneself. After all, those cherished objects are still yours to keep after you make the offering. If there is something newly purchased that one likes, it is a good idea to give it as an offering to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

This is a key point I want to make today: offerings made to the five vajra-rajas are different from those made to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

Collective Summon Mudra and the Samaya Pledge

Yesterday, after explaining the Collective Summon Mudra, a question arose as to what was to be done with the ten peach blossom branches after they had been cooked in the water. One may burn them afterwards. Also, what about the water that has been used to boil the three kinds of incense and the peach blossom branches? One may drink it if one thinks it is clean. Otherwise, one may pour it into a clean running stream or river.

Another question is, should the Collective Summon Mudra be spread right above the water? This is correct. Some people got the idea that the mudra is held under water or upright in the air. Actually, it is held parallel to the surface of the water and it does not necessarily have to touch the water. Next, one chants the mantra and visualizes all of the Dharma protectors in the universe to enter into the center of the mudra to wait for assignment.

I am discussing these matters concerning the summoning of Dharma protectors because there are many references made to Dharma protectors and vajra-rajas in Tantrayana. In exoteric schools, there are also Dharma protectors, and often times they refer to the Revered Wei-to and the Revered Jia-lan.

However, the Dharma protectors and vajra-rajas of Tantrayana are quite special. Why are Dharma protectors necessary? Because Dharma protectors play the important role of bringing many tasks into accomplishment. They facilitate the success of ''karma'' or tasks. Besides guarding and supporting the practitioner in his or her cultivation, the Diamond Dharma protectors also help the practitioner in all kinds of endeavors to ensure a smooth journey on the path. A spiritual cultivator needs Dharma protectors, the undertaking of all kinds of work needs Dharma protectors, the running of personnel affairs needs Dharma protectors, a family needs Dharma protectors, and dealings between people need help from Dharma protectors.

Tantrayana attaches great importance to Dharma protectors because they help the cultivator in all undertakings and businesses. Therefore, an accomplished Tantric practitioner who has help from Dharma protectors, has to pay attention if the Dharma protector leaves one. It signifies a serious warning. If the Dharma protectors fail to come or abandon one when one invokes them, one must have violated the Samaya Pledge. At that time, illness and many disasters will descend upon one. To a cultivator, if the Dharma protector suddenly leaves, it is possible that one's time to depart from the world has arrived.

Dharma protectors always accompany a spiritual cultivator. This is a very important point. It is best if the Dharma protectors are the vajra-rajas. Otherwise, as in the Nyingmapa school, there is the summoning of the class of ''non-humans'' which is a class of ghosts and spirits. The kind of Dharma protectors one can summon is dependent upon one's power. Some Dharma protectors are very powerful, while others are only ghosts and spirits. One also has the power to summon ghosts and spirits.

One has to be especially prudent with the employment of the Collective Summon Mudra. One has to beware that Dharma protectors take seriously the matter of discipline. Between oneself and the Dharma protectors, discipline must be observed.

Discipline * Stabilization * Wisdom

So, as practitioners, we do not just learn the Ucchusma mudra and mantra, we also have to do clear visualizations. Besides having the knowledge of the practice, as pure practitioners we must be aware that the Buddhadharma transmitted by Shakyamuni Buddha is more than this practice. One must be cautious and pay attention to his teaching of the ''Three Non-outflows,'' which are ''discipline,'' ''stabilization,'' and ''wisdom.'' To a pure cultivator, the Dharma protectors invoked will be the great, mighty and pure vajra-rajas. If one does not abide by disciplines and morals, then the Dharma protectors invoked will possibly be some ''non-humans.''

In the Buddhist scriptures, there is the term ''humans and non-humans'' with the latter referring to kinds of ghosts and spirits whose rank is even below that of humans. It is true that non-humans can render help to one's business and family, but their power is limited. If a practitioner can only summon ''non-humans,'' then it is because one is not abiding by the precepts.

This is why the Buddhadharma taught by Shakyamuni Buddha places a great importance on the observance of precepts. Do not think that Tantrayana does not advocate ''precepts.'' The ''precepts'' of Tantrayana are stricter than those of the exoteric schools, due to the existence of the Samaya pledge. The violation of the Samaya pledge is a very serious matter.

Included in the early curriculum of a Tantrayana education are the five great treatises: a treatise on logics written by Dharmakirti, a treatise on the Middle Path (Madhyamakavatara), the Abhisamayalamkara, the Abhidharmakosa-sastra, and the Vinaya treatise. The Vinaya treatise is about precepts. After being accepted into one of the three major monasteries [in Tibet], a student monk has to study these five treatises. Each of them takes at least two years to learn. That means ten years of studying, two of which are devoted to the treatise of precepts.

The Vinaya Treatise is about precepts. The Abhisamayalamkara discusses the process of how an ordinary being is transformed into a Buddha. Dharmakirti's treatise is about logic. The Madhyamakavatara is about the Middle View. The Abhidharmakosa-sastra discusses the Hinayana. One of these five works, the Vinaya Treatise, is entirely devoted to precepts. To qualify for the Geshe Exam, one has to become proficient in these five subjects. After becoming a Geshe, one may go on to study the Tantras at the lower and upper levels of the Tantric Dharma Institute. The esoteric practices in Tantras are considered the highest level, and are taught at the last stage of the educational process. The inclusion of the Vinaya Treatise in the curriculum clearly indicates that Tantric practitioners also must abide by precepts.

In our True Buddha School, we have to observe precepts: the Buddhist five precepts and the ten wholesome actions. Students who have taken the bodhisattva vows must follow the bodhisattva vows. Those who have taken the ''uparasa vows'' [eight monastic vows taken by a householder for a day and a night] must also uphold them. Monks and nuns must also observe the respective bikshu and bikshuni vows. There is no way around it. If one does not observe them, then it will be impossible for one to reach the pure state, and one will not be able to summon the most honored vajra-rajas to protect one. Instead, when one uses the Collective Summon Mudra, one can only invoke and summon the non-humans. So, this is something you need to pay attention to. Do not think that after learning this practice, one will immediately be able to become like Chiang Tsu-ya in the novel Feng Shen Pang. After receiving a ''demon-summoning flag'' from the Primordial Lord, Chiang Tsu-ya was able to summon all demons on earth to appear whenever he waved the flag.

The Collective Summon Mudra works the same way. When a practitioner forms the mudra using the method taught, all ghosts and spirits will assemble. Those who manifest to be seen by the practitioner are the ones who have strong affinities with the practitioner. At this time, one may see one's own Dharma protector in dreams or in meditation. If one has developed the deva-sight, one may even see one's Dharma protectors during broad daylight.

Reality is Consciousness and All Phenomena are Mind

There is this saying, ''all realities are created by consciousness, and all phenomena are mind.'' The environment and situation in which a practitioner finds himself or herself, whether visible or invisible, is entirely created by his or her own mind.

As practitioners, we have to keep in mind that images and forms, human affairs, and circumstances in one's environment are entirely a manifestation of one's own mind. The level of power and reality one can tap into during cultivation is also manifested by one's mind. The Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, vidyarajas, Dharma protectors, dakas, dakinis, and devas are also invoked by one's mind. There are various karmic reasons involved, and it is not a phenomenon that happens abruptly. Although Dharma protectors come and go and may be replaced, it does not happen that one day you can invoke a vidyaraja (one of the greatest Dharma protectors), and a day later, one can only invoke a local earth god. In reality, even such changes are caused by alterations in one's own body-mind. That is why Buddhism teaches that all phenomena are created and manifested to one through the mind. This is why spiritual cultivation is, in fact, a cultivation of the mind. [audience applause]

Yesterday I talked about how one may ask for a pay raise by placing the name of the boss under one's feet and stepping on it. However, before one does this, one should first ask how much contribution one has made to the company. Has one truly put in a fair amount of work or is one making an excessive demand? These are the things one has to consider.

As Buddhists, we know the observance of precepts helps keep the mind in a peaceful state. Peacefulness is only possible when one is able to refrain from sexual misconduct, lying, gossip, evil speech, flirtatious speech, theft, taking intoxicants, and killings. One must remain constantly disciplined if one's mind is to settle into peacefulness.

Transmuting and ascending through the mind is spiritual cultivation. All of the liturgies and rituals in esoteric or Tantrayana Buddhism address, from beginning to end, the transformation and cultivation of the mind - -how one can use the mind to control one's conduct and how to use one's behavior to control the mind. The goal is to reach a state of concentrated equilibrium or stability.

As long as stability is reached, there will be the development of transcendental power. If the development of psychic power is not stillness-based, then it is mediated by ''ghosts and spirits'' and cannot be genuine transcendental power. In the latter case, the cultivators have been born with a psychic awareness that is very close to the psychic awareness of outside ''ghosts and spirits'' and predisposes them to communication with each other. This kind of psychic power is not genuine transcendental power.

Only in samadhi can wisdom be engendered. With this wisdom, one can then have a perfect perception of the world and be able to practice Buddhism to arrive at the Tathagatas' True Condition. A cultivator has to have this wisdom before he can anchor his mind in peace. When a person of wisdom studies and practices Buddhism, the wisdom light of the Buddhas will develop in him, and he can then use this kind of light to illuminate the mind of other people. This is self-awakening and awakening others; this is self- liberation and liberating others.

Transcendental Power and Wisdom are the Two Wings of Cultivation

We want to assert that, as Buddhist practitioners, we do not teach only about transcendental power, because transcendental power is just a natural by-product of samadhi. The other natural by-product is wisdom. Transcendental power and wisdom engendered in samadhi are the two wings of spiritual cultivation. Nagarjuna has said that in order to be an accomplished Buddhist cultivator and help liberate other beings, one must have both wings. Missing either one will not do. This is because when one is truly able to reach stability, one definitely develops transcendental power and wisdom. Thus, an adept will definitely have transcendental power, [audience applause] while a person with transcendental power is not necessarily an adept. When one obtains the Buddha Wisdom, one will enter into a condition which transcends ''seeking and desiring.''

At the True Buddha Diamond Temple, a reporter told me that he felt that people generally come to the True Buddha School because they believe that the Grand Master can give them something they want, and he wondered if such a motive could lead to ultimate liberation. He has raised a very legitimate question.

At the highest level of Buddhist practice, when one becomes the same as the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, one does not seek or desire anything. In such a realm, one finds all things equal, whether they are agreeable or disagreeable, good or bad, right or wrong, fragrant or foul. Only in such a realm can the mind be able to rest in genuine tranquility.

Because of their seeking and desiring, human beings are unable to rest their mind in tranquility. They are happy when something is gained and sad when something is lost. Caught continuously between having and not-having, all kinds of emotional afflictions and graspings arise. Cultivation enables one to reach the stage to let go of grasping and discrimination. When the Buddha Wisdom manifests in a spiritual cultivator, all polarities equalize. When such a person looks at human affairs and relations, he feels he is watching a game or a drama and has a complete understanding of the origins and developments, causes and effects, of the events. At this time, a kind of Enlightened state is engendered.

When this Enlightened state appears, the cultivator will understand all happenings in the world. When all is understood, the Buddha Wisdom will surge forth like a spring and one will realize the realm of Great Perfection, which is the state of True Enlightenment, True Nirvana, and Truth. Otherwise, we are just trapped in the waves of samsara, surging back and forth, going up and down, advancing and losing, and unable to understand the ''truth'' behind all phenomena.

In general, Sutric schools' doctrines also teach about the impermanence of worldly phenomena, the nonessentiality of the ''self,'' and the release of all graspings to lead to ''egolessness.'' Everything in the world is transient, illusory, and undergoes endless change. When one truly enters into nirvana, one will understand the genuine Great Bliss inherent in one. These are the teachings of the Buddha.

What I discussed yesterday may be regarded as disclosures on the realm of Dharma Protectors and their work. Today's teaching is about the importance of ''precepts,'' which is the basis for the cultivation of ''stability,'' which is in turn the basis of ''wisdom.'' Co-ordinating this wisdom with transcendental power, one can attain realization and understand the truth of the universe. [audience applause]

Absolute and Relative Dharma/Emptiness and Existence

After listening to yesterday's and today's teachings, one can understand the differences between ''expedient'' and ''ultimate'' means, and between ''mundane'' and ''sacred'' teachings. Ordinary beings feel they lack something and are always seeking and desiring, while sages lack nothing and are completely free of seeking.

Mundane teachings are expedient means - skillful tools that are useful to beginners of Buddhist practice. Sacred teachings concern themselves with the ultimate Dharma. Thus, Buddhadharma may be categorized as either ''absolute'' or ''expedient,'' which are, respectively, the sacred and mundane Dharmas. Teachings that deal with functioning in the world are mundane Dharmas while those that deal with transcending the world are sacred Dharmas. This differentiation helps one to have a clear understanding of the two kinds of Dharmas.

What I taught yesterday was the expedient means, and what I have discussed today is the absolute means. This should be quite clear. In fact, piecing the two together constitutes the Buddhadharma. In our True Buddha Tantric Practice, great emphasis is placed on both worldly and transcendental practices. A truly complete Buddhadharma encompasses and integrates both teachings and practices. [audience applause]

Simply, yesterday's discussion was about ''manifestation,'' while today's discussion is about ''emptiness.'' While there is a difference between ''manifestation'' and ''emptiness,'' the true Buddhadharma teaches that enfolded in emptiness is the myriad manifestation of all phenomena and existence. [audience applause]

When a cultivator reaches the realm to enter into the ''voidness'' of the cosmos, he will enter into nirvana and rest in that state just like the Buddha. What is nirvana? Nirvana is immovability, absolute stillness, and immense boundlessness. But one cannot ''be'' like that and remain totally static forever! The Buddha sometimes has to move and ''become'' active too. What is becoming active? To become active is to manifest. Namo Fundamental Teacher Shakyamuni Buddha is ''static,'' Namo Manifestation Body Shakyamuni Buddha is ''active,'' and Namo Great Sovereign Divine King Buddha is even more ''active.''

''Enfolded in emptiness is the myriad manifestation of all phenomena and existence.'' Namo Fundamental Teacher Shakyamuni Buddha is ''emptiness,'' Manifestation Body Shakyamuni Buddha and Ucchusma the Vajra Protector are ''manifestations.''

Thus, Padmakumara in the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds is ''emptiness,'' and Sheng-yen Lu in the samsara is ''manifestation.'' [audience applause] Once this is explained, one should be able to understand it clearly. Activity is manifestation and inactivity is emptiness.

Thus, we spiritual cultivators have to strike a balance between ''active'' and ''inactive'' and between ''becoming'' and ''being.'' In such a realm, amid the inherent nature of Emptiness, there is also Luminosity and Great Bliss. Only in such a realm is True Enlightenment. [audience applause]

In the past, Bodhidharma has gone up to the teaching dais and come down without uttering a word. Since then, other Zen masters also have emulated Bodhidharma. When Shakyamuni Buddha gave the Mind to Mind Transmission, he too said nothing after going up to the teaching seat. Holding a flower in hand, the Buddha smiled. [Grand Master held up a hand towel to audience laughter] Now, you are all laughing; it is obvious that you are all Enlightened. [audience laughter]

So that was what Shakyamuni Buddha did. He just held up a flower after going up to his seat. He did not say a word. Today I am holding up a hand towel. Later this will be recorded as: Grand Master went up to his seat, holding a towel, and not saying a word. In the audience was a student who was Mahakashyapa in a previous life. Sitting there, this student broke into a knowing smile. He became Enlightened! This is the Transmission of Mind to Mind: ''Student so-and-so, you have received my Transmission of the Mind. Only you were able to understand my Mind.'' This is how Transmission of Mind to Mind occurs.

Truth cannot be explained in words. Truth is Emptiness - how can it be put into words? To talk about it is to miss it. Truth is ineffable. Shakyamuni Buddha at least held up a flower; all Bodhidharma did was to go up to the dais and come down. Other Zen patriarchs also followed in Bodhidharma's footsteps. When Shakyamuni Buddha first attained Enlightenment, he was reluctant to teach. He thought to himself, ''What am I going to talk about? To speak is to deviate from it, it would be better not to say anything.'' But when the Buddha gave in to requests and started teaching, his teaching career went on for forty-nine years. At the end he said, ''All those teachings that I have given are not teachings. If anyone claims that I have given any teaching, that is just libel.''

Honestly, when one first starts reading the Diamond Sutra, one wonders if the Buddha was being contradictory. After teaching for forty-nine years and given us the Lotus Sutra, Diamond Prajna Paramita Sutra, Great Prajna Sutra, and Heart Sutra, etc., he said he had not delivered any teaching. It signifies that what he had been teaching was True Emptiness, which has always been inherently in existence. Talking about True Emptiness is ultimately tantamount to not having talked about anything.

When a practitioner is able to understand the inherent secret meaning behind the Buddha's words, he or she will understand the nature of Emptiness. If one is unable to understand the Buddha's inherent inner secret, one also cannot understand the nature of Emptiness and will remain entrapped by the affairs of the world.

The Transcendent Buddhadharma & Karmic Affinity

With what things do people in the world occupy themselves ? One: people care about their children. Two: people care about their spouses and whether they can have a happy and loving family. Three: people care about careers and finances, whether they make or lose money. Four: people care about status and positions, such as executive officer, department head, president, and vice president. Human relations, whether or not one can get along well with others, is also a concern. Then there is the problem of litigations, since legal disputes are common in the United States. People also worry about accidents. These problems are the stuff of life and the phenomena from which one cannot escape. Just think, what else is there? Children, money, career, family, marriage, love, status, conflicts of interest, accidents, all of these things.

But the Buddhadharma transcends and surpasses all of the above. When the Buddha wants to express True Emptiness, he does not speak. Once Dharma is talked about, it will turn into a worldly phenomenon, as no language can ever explain True Emptiness. The method of expression employed by each practitioner will be different. There are many various methods, all different.

In the True Buddha Tantric Dharma, which is a concentrated form of Tantric Buddhism, we learn about the Tathagata Wisdom. We also study exoteric practices. Our school has integrated both exoteric and esoteric elements into our practices.

As mentioned yesterday, there are great karmic reasons behind our assembling today at this venue. Without these karmic causes and affinities, one could not possibly have made it to attend this great assembly.

We have been doing spiritual cultivation together for several lifetimes. The Ucchusma Practice is one of the secret practices of the Five Great Vajra Practices. To be able to hear of this secret practice, one undoubtedly must have been doing cultivation for many lives. Only then will one be afforded the opportunity to encounter it and to engender a delight in the heart to want to do this practice.

I want to bring to everyone's attention today the importance of observing the precepts. By observing the precepts, we develop the discipline and mindfulness that can help us become skillful in our meditation. Then, from the concentrated equilibrium generated in meditation, we can attain the Buddha Wisdom. These are the steps we have to go through.

The pathway of Tantric Buddhism also comprises many successive steps. One starts with the Four Preliminary Practices and, when the requirements of the Four Preliminary Practices are met, one goes on to practice the Guru Yoga, followed by the Personal Deity Yoga. When one achieves a yogic response with the Personal Deity, it is easy for one to obtain, through one's Personal Deity, the support of Dharma Protectors. As long as one attains a yogic response in the Guru Yoga and Personal Deity Yoga, one will have access to one's Guru and Personal Deity. When one is connected to one's Guru and Personal Deity, one will also have access to the Dharma Protectors - thus fulfilling the requisite of the ''three root elements'' in a Tantric practice. One may then embark on the next series of practices, those belonging to the ''second level of empowerment.'' These are the more complexed inner fire, non-leakage, and light drop practices. The practices belonging to the ''third level of empowerment'' of Higher Tantra practices are even more complicated. The ''fourth level of empowerment,'' the Great Perfection, involves a Transmission of Mind that is the same as that in Zen.

One of the ''second level empowerment practices'' is the Vajravarahi Inner Fire Practice. It was success in the Vajravarahi Inner Fire Practice that endowed Milarepa with all those yogic powers. Today, Grand Master Lu has also developed these yogic powers through the Vajravarahi Inner Fire Practice. [audience applause]

When the inner fire inside the body is kindled and travels along the body's energy pathways, a ''great bliss'' is generated in the practitioner. This is a secret of the second level empowerment practices: as long as the inner fire rises, it will be accompanied by a great bliss in the body. This is the ''permanent bliss'' referred to in the phrase ''permanent bliss and self (identity) purity.''

Next, when the psychic channels and chakras in the practitioner's body open up, a pure ''clear light'' will appear. This is the realm of ''permanent bliss and self purity.'' After this stage, one then advances to merge with Emptiness and will be able to, in the process, get rid of all kinds of graspings and illusions to arrive at the realm of ''egolessness.'' At this point, one realizes Emptiness.

''Permanent Bliss,'' ''Self Purity [Clear Light],'' and ''Emptiness'' constitute Enlightenment. This is a realization based on my own experience. Usually, when we ask people if they know what is Enlightenment, very few can explain it qualitatively. Today, I am offering the answer in these simple words: Permanent Bliss and Self Purity plus Realization of Emptiness constitute the realm of Enlightenment. [audience applause]

During today's Vajrasattva fire puja, the Dharma Body of Vajrasattva filled this whole venue, and I saw the light of Vajrasattva shining on everyone. [audience applause] All of the people participating in this ceremony, as well as those who have been registered, received this showering of light.

The position of Vajrasattva is highly venerated, as he is a manifestation of the Five Buddhas. Nagarjuna unlocked an iron tower in South India and came face to face with Vajrasattva. Vajrasattva then transmitted the Tantric teachings to him. Thus, while Nagarjuna is the first human guru in the Tantric lineage, Vajrasattva is the original Tantric guru in the invisible world. Vajrasattva is an emergence of Vajradhara who is, in turn, an emergence of the Five Buddhas. The Five Buddhas are also known as the Five Vajradharas. While Nagarjuna is the first guru in the Tantric Buddhist lineage in the visible realm, Vajradhara may be regarded as the first guru of this Tantric lineage from the invisible realm.

Vajrasattva Practice, one of the Four Preliminary Practices, is a major practice. Someone once asked me what was the meaning of the Vajrasattva Hundred Syllable Mantra. It is about Emptiness, which is also what the Diamond Sutra teaches, ''that all things are devoid of selfhood, devoid of personality, devoid of entity, and devoid of separate individuality in time.''

The Vajrasattva Hundred Syllable Mantra is a mantra of Emptiness and Fullness. Anything merging with Emptiness will be transmuted into Emptiness. That is why, after doing a practice, if one finds that a slip has been made, one may chant three times the Vajrasattva Hundred Syllable Mantra to remedy the mistake. For example, during the step of Mandala Offering, if a mistake in visualization has occurred or the mind has been distracted, the chanting of the Vajrasattva Hundred Syllable Mantra will again transform the situation into one of Emptiness and Fullness.

The Vajrasattva fire puja today may be described as a gloriously radiant event. [audience applause] The manifestation of Vajrasattva himself was very spontaneous. During samadhi, I was able to enter quickly into the state of concentrated equilibrium. As soon as I brought my mind into focus, without having made any mental evocation, Vajrasattva immediately entered into my heart. It happened very swiftly and it was a state that was completely full and auspiciously pleasant.

Perserverance and a Steely Will Power

I hope every master, venerable, and student will be able to understand the wisdom of Shakyamuni Buddha. This may be accomplished by studying the sutras and also by meditation. When one is able to quiet the mind so that it becomes immovable and unperturbed by things in samsara, one will stay on the path, abide by the right actions, and maintain an unwavering faith in the school. One may attend many Dharma teachings, and then select the one Deity with whom one has the most affinity and intimate relationship. When one works on a practice that one is closest to and is most delighted with and deeply penetrates it, a tremendous transcendental force and wisdom will be generated.

The most important thing to have is perserverance, and many practitioners are not very strong in that regard. But, you have me to learn from, and I am someone who has the utmost perserverance. [audience applause] Every day I spend some time in reading the sutras; every day I do my practice and every day I teach the Dharma. I have done this, without any interruption, for the last twenty-seven years. Also, I exercise the Vajra Fist, write essays, and paint on a daily basis. [audience applause]

As a guru, I have demonstrated this perserverance by engaging in Vajra Fist exercising, scripture studying, Dharma teaching, writing, meditating, and painting every day. I do not find this to be tiring and I have not skipped a day of this routine. I have been lucky to have all these Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Dharma Protectors, and Devas surrounding me, so I have rarely come down with a cold or cough.

Ever since the start of the television broadcast of my Dharma teaching, I have been giving a daily discourse that is twenty minutes long. Each daily taped session is then broadcast over two days. Throughout the entire year, I have not skipped a day, and I have not coughed or come down with a cold. I would like to thank the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Vajra-rajas, Dakas, and Devas in the spiritual realm for their protection and support, for providing us with good health and auspiciousness in our endeavors, so that our wishes will be fulfilled and our hindrances will be eliminated, so that the true Great Perfection of the Buddhadharma will be attained. This concludes today's talk.

Om Mani Padme Hum.

!!Please be aware that before anyone can practice the above uncommon practice, it is advised and recommended that they take refuge and the respective empowerment; alternatively one must face inherent resulting cause and effect!!

慶賀真佛宗根本傳承上師八十聖壽 「一生一咒」800萬遍上師心咒活動,從今年師尊的佛誕日正式啟動,請參加者到TBSN官網以下鏈接登記資料: 每持滿十萬遍上師心咒者,宗委會將把名單呈給師尊加持。每持滿一百萬遍者,將列名護摩法會功德主,資料請師尊主壇護摩法會時下護摩爐。