Dharma Talk by Living Buddha Lian Sheng on 11/07/96

Shakyamuni Buddha taught many important visualization methods to his disciples so that they could get rid of their improper thoughts during meditation. Today, I want to talk about these methods.

To get rid of improper thoughts, Shakyamuni Buddha first taught `Breath-counting method`. We are told to focus our attention on the number of times we inhale and exhale. By so doing, improper thoughts will not arise in our minds.

After inhaling and exhaling, we count it as one. Then we repeat the process and count it as two. If we focus on this counting exercise, our minds will be fully occupied, and no other thoughts will arise. In fact, Shakyamuni Buddha taught us a wonderful way to get rid of our improper thoughts.

I have personally learned this method and practised it for a long time now.

For those who had high sex drives, Shakyamuni taught them a method known as `White skeleton visualization`. How do we practise this method? We have to contemplate the sexual object transforming into a heap of white bones. If we are able to view the sex symbol as a white skeleton, I am sure all of you will agree that she is no longer attractive anymore.

When I first came to the U.S. I was shocked to see many kissing scenes on TV and English movies. They were so obscene - yak!

All of us feel marvelous, when we see things of beauty. How do we feel when we are in the company of a heap of white bones? Look at their eerie teeth, two hollows in their eyes and the triangles at their noses, we will definitely feel uncomfortable.

When Shakyamuni Buddha taught us this method, he wanted us to transcend and detach ourselves from all our sex drives and material gains completely.

There was another method taught by Shakyamuni Buddha in the Perfect enlightenment Sutra known as `Zhi Guan Shuang Yun` (Alternate use of stoppage and visualization). Zhi is interpreted by Zen Buddhism as `Stopping our improper thoughts`. In this respect, a Tantric cultivator will shout a Mantra `Pan` - a sound of destruction - loudly so that his improper thoughts and unwholesome karma will be eradicated. After shouting the word, a Tantric cultivator will be able to enter into meditative stabilization.

All the methods mentioned above serve the same purpose, which is to stop our minds from having any thoughts. If we have any improper thoughts, we must use one of the methods to get rid of them. After focusing on `oneness` for a while, we must stop the contemplation, and ensure that no thoughts arise from our minds. We stop when thoughts arise, and visualize `oneness` again. Once our visualization is stable, we stop our thoughts again. Hence this method is known as `Zhi Guan Shuan Yun`. It`s also an effective visualization method.

In short, our spiritual cultivation will lead us to a stage where our thoughts do not arise !D!D an undivided mind.

As human beings are full of wild fancy thoughts, we must focus on one thought and get rid of the rest first.

Then we must also get rid of our last thought. By so doing, we are in a stage of purification.

During Shakyamuni`s time, his ten chief disciples, many great Arhats and other cultivators spent considerable time practising these methods daily with a view of getting rid of their improper thoughts and residing in thoughtless stage of mind (Samadhi). This is the way to reach purification and meditative stabilization.

In my series of talks on `Rainbow Light Great Attainment`, I mentioned about purification of our body, speech and mind so that we can be as pure as that of Buddhas. If we are able to transform our unwholesome karma into mystic, we are able to purify ourselves; this is the sole purpose of spiritual cultivation.

When we are able to focus on one thought and get rid of other thoughts and eventually oblivious to the last thought, our body, speech and mind are purified at once - this is in a stage of three mystics. On the other hand, when our body, speech and mind are filthy, we will face karmic hindrances.

Spiritual cultivation therefore seeks to transform karmic hindrances and improper thoughts to purification and thoughtless mind.

My purpose of citing Shakyamuni Buddha and the various ways of contemplation such as `Breath counting`, `White skeleton` and `Zhi Guan Shuan Yun` is to teach you the way to focus on `oneness` so that you will have undivided mind. Of course, they are many other ways of contemplation towards the same ends.

Many of my disciples have asked me to teach them the best way to cultivate. My reply to them is: `A focusing mind is the key to success!` In other words, when we are able to focus on `oneness`, we will be able to enter into Samadhi. That`s all for today.

Om Mani Padme Hum

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