Day 8: Question and Answer 1-108
Masters, fellow cultivators, good afternoon. [audience applause] On this eighth day of the discourse on An Overview of the Buddhadharma, we are going to have a Question and Answer session. I have here a pile of papers with questions submitted by many of you. On going over them briefly, I noted that many people listed several questions on one sheet. I hope I have enough time to answer all of them. Thank you. [audience applause]
[The Grand Master then proceeded to answer the questions, after first reading the questions aloud.]
[Q-1] Grand Master Lu, although the other day you explained how `all phenomena arise and disintegrate due to causes and conditions,` I am so thick that I still have trouble understanding it. May I ask, from where do causes and conditions arise? [laughter and audience laughter] What determines the duration of the various phases of transmigration? Why do some ghosts stay around in the world for a couple of decades? Don`t they have to be reborn to another realm? What is a human? Why do humans act in a certain way? Why do humans have thoughts? What gives rise to thoughts?
[A] It was signed `a student` and no name was given. Very well. [laughter and audience laughter] If I find out who he is, he is going to get three big strikes from me, [audience uproar and applause] because these are very rigorous questions put up to test the speaker.
When the Buddha discussed that `all phenomena arise and disintegrate due to causes and conditions,` he was referring to the `doctrine of interdependence,` although he did not elaborate on the specific `causes and conditions.` However, he taught that the first of the `twelve links of existence` is `ignorance.` `Ignorance` gives rise to `separate existence.` In the absence of `ignorance,` there is no `separate existence.` In the Buddhist doctrine of `twelve links of existence,` `ignorance` is the earliest cause. I can only offer you this explanation.
Why are you born? Dark clouds precede rain. Without dark clouds, there would not be any rain. What precedes dark clouds? Water vapors. What precedes water vapors? Water. What precedes water? Rain. [audience laughter] The `causes and conditions` are undergoing transmigration.
Then you ask, `Where do causes and conditions come from?` The Buddha said that `ignorance` is the first cause. Thus, to undo `ignorance` is to understand that there is `no separate existence of the self.` This is the answer to the first question.
What determines the duration of the various phases of transmigration? Why do some ghosts stay around in the world for a couple of decades without having to undergo transmigration? The spirits are not the only ones who stay around here for twenty plus years; many more men stay around in this world for even longer. So what is there to wonder about? People nowadays may expect to live seventy or even eighty years. If we can stay around here for this long, why can`t those spirits? [audience laughter]
`What is a human?` This is very serious [in Taiwanese]. [audience laughter] I can tell you what is a Buddha, but I can`t tell you what constitutes a human being. [laughter] [audience laughter and applause]
These questions of yours, `Why do humans act in a certain way? Why do humans have thoughts? What gives rise to thoughts?` are what I referred to during these last seven days as the `conceptual issues.` These are what you have to study if you adopt the `theory or conceptual approach.` Fortunately for us, today`s True Buddha School has adopted the `practice or experiential approach.` We will temporarily lay aside these `theories` and concentrate first on the `actual practice.` [laughter] [audience laughter and applause] The complete discussion of these questions of yours could take up a whole day.
[Q-2] During meditation practice, should one visualize the enshrined bronze statue of Padmakumara, or should one transform it into the face of the Grand Master?
[A] Visualize the bronze statue because my face changes with time. As I have explained before, if you see a picture taken of me right after I was born, wearing only my birthday suit, my face was that of a baby. Now I have a middle-aged look, and soon I shall look elderly and completely different. Therefore, base your visualization on the bronze statue.
[Q-3] The Grand Master mentioned previously that there is the presence of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in every shrine. Is the employment of the Vajra Hook during the step of invocation necessary to ensure that the Deities will descend? When one combines several practices together in one meditation session, may one visualize multiple Vajra Hooks ascending at once to invoke the Deities?
[A] Wow, you know how to make use of variation! [audience laughter] You are right. Normally when we sit at the shrine, we visualize the Wisdom Deity to be in the Empty Space, so we send the Vajra Hook up to the Empty Space. While the Dharma Body of the Buddha resides permanently in the Empty Space, the Bliss Body emerges from the Empty Space, and it is the Emanation Body who reaches our shrine. Bearing this concept in mind, you will be able to do your invocation well.
[Q-4] After employing the Vajra Hook to invoke the Deities to descend, and after the appearance of the Personal Deity from the revolving seed syllable, should one then integrate these two with the Deities in the shrine, and then visualize the empowerment of the three lights coming from this integrated Deity? Or should one just visualize the empowerment of the three lights from the Personal Deity after he has emerged from the seed syllable?
[A] This question is worded in a very complicated way, and it has made my thoughts complicated. [audience laughter] I guess the question is, `Is it permissible to visualize the Personal Deity in the Empty Space to unify with the Personal Deity at the shrine before one performs the visualization of the empowerment of the three lights?` Yes, you may visualize the Personal Deity at the shrine to ascend to dissolve into the Personal Deity at the Empty Space before the empowerment of the three lights. You may do so.
[Q-5] After a student receives the fire puja empowerment, can he go home and start doing fire pujas to help others? Can a student conduct a Fire Puja Dharma Ceremony?
[A] Well, to conduct a Dharma ceremony ?this is going to pose some business competition for us! [audience laughter] According to one Tantrayana rule, as the fire puja is an important `generation stage practice,` a student has to do 200 sessions of it to become skillful in the unifying of fire, Personal Deity, and self. When one is able to perform a fire puja from beginning to end without any error, then one may perform them to help others.
Regarding public fire pujas, it is best to leave them to be conducted by the acharyas. If heads of local chapters want to conduct them, they may do so, but only if they are already very proficient in the practice and do not make any mistakes. One first should help oneself and one`s family members remove karmic obstacles, deferring for a later time the conducting of public fire pujas. One should only perform a public fire puja on behalf of others when one can carry it out without any error.
[Q-6] After a director of a local chapter receives the fire puja empowerment, may he or she go back to the local chapter and hold Fire Puja Dharma Ceremonies open to public registration?
[A] I have already answered this question.
[Q-7] Can a student practice fire pujas without receiving the fire puja empowerment from the root guru?
[A] No, this is not permitted because Tantrayana takes the matter of lineage transmission very seriously. During these past seven or eight days, I have discussed the necessity to receive the empowerment prior to the practice. Without the fire puja empowerment, one should not do any fire pujas.
[Q-8] Can fire pujas be used as a deliverance ritual?
[A] Yes, one may use the fire pujas for deliverance purposes.
[Q-9] May one ask for a remote empowerment for fire pujas?
[A] It is better to receive it directly from the root guru.
[Q-10] Buddhas are awakened beings who have transcended all mental activities, and the Buddha Nature is present in everyone. Thus there is no discrimination among all beings and all beings are equal. The crux of meditation is to visualize the merging of the Offspring Light with the Mother Light, i.e., the union of the microcosm with the macrocosm. As a whole, the practice of Buddhadharma returns one to the `original nature.` Herein also lies my problem. If everything originates from the same source then, at the very beginning, was the first karmic cause originated by the Buddhas? How could that be if the Buddhas abide in the state of `non-thought`? Ultimately one is saving oneself. For example, the Great White Padmakumara`s revolving heart gave rise to the Padmakumaras of other colors, and the latter gave rise to us. So the originator of the act ends up having to save himself. If that is the case, why take the trouble to act in the first place? [audience laughter]
[A] OK, very well, this is a `test` question. All these `creative plays` of the Thus Come One happen because he is too bored. [audience laughter and applause] The Thus Come one is so bored with himself that he wants to have some fun. So he creates a game of chess by manifesting all these people or chess pieces and sending them down. Eventually he recalls all of them. [laughter and audience laughter] I can only offer you this simplest of all answers. I don`t know how to explain it in a more profound way. [laughter and audience laughter]
[Q-11] How many lotuses from the Great Twin Lotus Ponds have come down to the human realm? If the Padmakumaras create karmic hindrances, how are they resolved? [audience laughter] In the future, when Grand Master Lu enters into Nirvana, who has the authority to certify future acharyas for the True Buddha School? What kinds of moral guidelines should the future True Buddha School students follow? Whom should they rely on in the future? When the Grand Master comes back to the world in the next life, will he choose the same method of incarnation as adopted by the Dalai Lamas, so as to provide the students with some sense of continuous spiritual leadership?
[A] All these are very good questions. In the past when the Buddha was entering into Nirvana, Anada also asked these same questions. But I am not yet entering into Nirvana! [laughter and audience laughter] When the Padmakumaras commit transgressions, how are the karmic consequences resolved? They themselves have to bring their businesses to an end. [laughter and audience laughter] After I enter into Nirvana, students can use their own judgment to decide on future True Buddha acharyas. What moral guidelines should future students follow? My books, our monastic precepts, the Fourteen Tantrayana Root Precepts, and the Fifty Stanzas of Guru Devotions can all serve as moral guidelines. Whom should they rely on in the future? The same precepts I have just mentioned. Regarding my future incarnations, will I adopt the way of the tulkus? I have not decided yet. [audience laughter and applause]
[Q-12] In Issue 32 of the True Buddha News, the Grand Master made an announcement that no local temple or branch within the school would be singled out as the headquarters. Who then provides the central guidance for all these future students?
[A] As I have just explained, everyone should look to the Dharma, the True Buddha Tantric Dharma, for central guidance. Do not deviate from the Dharma teachings. Take the tree as an example, the tree trunk gives rise to many branches and much foliage as it grows and expands. To deviate from the Dharma is to break away from the main trunk and to lose the lineage transmission. So, one must regard the main trunk, the True Buddha Tantric Dharma, as one`s main guidance. [audience applause]
[Q-13] What criteria and conditions does the Grand Master use in the selection of acharyas? Are acharyas in the True Buddha School ranked? Since Tibetan lamas are ranked, does our school announce the rankings of our acharyas? By making this information public, students will be able to select and learn from the correct acharyas.
[A] My criteria for the selection of an acharya are based on the teachings of the Buddha. First of all, he or she should have a strong and determined aspiration to seek realization. Second, he or she supports the True Buddha School and the root guru. Third, he or she is committed to the bodhicitta vow. The other two requirements are compassion and equanimity. These five qualities are the only requisites for an acharya.
Has every acharya met these five requirements? Well, honestly, the answer is no. [laughter] It is very difficult to meet all these five criteria. So, what should they do if they have not met the requisites? They should work very hard to fulfill the requirements.
Are there different ranks of acharyas? Of course. They are: 1) acharyas, 2) great acharyas, 3) vajra acharyas, and 4) Enlightened acharyas. I have previously covered this subject in my books. To find a qualified acharya from whom to learn, students should employ their wisdom, making discriminations and observations accordingly. [audience applause]
[Q-14] Does the ritual of bestowing food on the Garuda and Ghost require an empowerment? Ever since a fellow student started making these food offerings, his family has experienced unrest, health problems, and misfortunes. Are these related to inadequate skill, using the wrong methodology, or performing poor visualizations while doing the practice?
[A] First, let me say this. As long as one is a student, one may perform this type of offering. If one understands the liturgy clearly and follows it accordingly, one will not make any errors. If one`s family fortunes plummeted following this practice, then this was because one`s fortunes were supposed to be down during that period of time. It has nothing to do with the practice. [audience applause]
[Q-15] During the ritual of empowerment, a seed is instilled deeply in the eighth level of consciousness. What kind of visualizations during empowerment should I perform in order to facilitate that instillation?
[A] The eighth level consciousness is a very subtle realm of consciousness, and it is truly the `seed` consciousness. Nonetheless, during an empowerment, you only need to concentrate on the clear visualization of the particular Deity above your head, and the instilling of the Universal energy into your body, filling it up completely.
[Q-16] Is the realm described in the True Buddha Sutra the Realm Where Ordinary and Holy Beings Dwell? Why did the Grand Master say it is the Realm of Eternal Rest and Light?
[A] There is no contradiction here. If the Realm of Eternal Rest and Light is described in the True Buddha Sutra, you will not find a single word in the entire book. There are no words that can be used to describe the Realm of Eternal Rest and Light. I don`t know if you understand this or not. You will not find any words at all when you open the true book of the True Buddha Sutra.
[Q-17] Grand Master, please compassionately teach us. Is Enlightenment divided into `conceptualized` and `experiential` types? Or, is an Enlightened person someone who has achieved both conceptually and experientially and, thus, someone who is an accomplished adept in both external and internal practice?
[A] I have discussed this already. Conceptual realization is different from experiential realization. When an Enlightened person achieves experiential realization, he will develop power in the inner world of subtle energy as well as in the exoteric level of practices.
[Q-18] I suddenly feel that we are now in the middle of the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds. The Maha Twin Lotus Ponds actually exist here in the world. It is all a matter of one`s mind. This is why Instantaneous Enlightenment is possible and why all forms such as devas, humans, hells, and pure lands are manifestations of the mind. Put another way, the pure lands have never come or gone, neither have the hells and heavens. There is no above nor below. All phenomena are just transformations manifested by the mind. Spiritual practices can transform and purify the mind of illusion and enable one to experience directly ?right here in this world ?the existence of the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds. How can the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds not exist in the human world when the Ksitigarbha Hospital of hell realm does exist here? This has made me more appreciative of the remarkableness of the True Buddha Tantric Dharma, and has made me cherish its practices more. This is a practice that can transform our egotistical heart into the heart of the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds` Pure Land. Will the Grand Master please give us further teachings on the manifestation of hells and pure lands right here in the human world?
[A] There is no need to answer your question because you have already given us the teachings. [laughter] [audience laughter] You have done a very good job, and your view is correct. The One Mind indeed undergoes transformations.
[Q-19] Grand Master, please give us the teaching on `the returning of zero to emptiness.`
[A] `Zero returning to emptiness`? Well, I have taught `one returning to zero.` How did this turn into `zero returning to emptiness`? [laughter and audience laughter] Zero is already emptiness. [audience laughter and applause] Zero is just a mathematical symbol used to represent emptiness. Since `zero` represents a unit, and emptiness is without any unit, I can only tell you that `the returning of zero to emptiness` is the returning of `unit` to `non-unit.`
[Q-20] The process of transmigration cannot extinguish the `Innate Self,` is this true? May one apply the same description to alaya, the eighth consciousness?
[A] The answer to both of your questions is `yes.`
[Q-21] I have noticed that some masters of our school teach practices not taught by the Grand Master. Does this contradict the rules of Tantrayana and how should students react to this? Apart from the root guru, may other masters of the True Buddha School give remote empowerments of the True Buddha Tantric Dharma to students?
[A] Regarding the first question, I have explained earlier that there can be offshoots branching from the main trunk of the True Buddha Tantric Dharma. As long as they are Buddhist practices transmitted by the Buddha himself and are found in the Buddhist scriptures, then the masters may teach them even though I have not taught them. This poses no contradiction. However, the True Buddha Tantric Dharma must serve as the principal basis of their teachings.
Regarding the second question, remote empowerment is an expedient means. If a master of the True Buddha School feels that he or she can perform remote empowerment for others, he or she may do so if the following two conditions are met. First, the master has developed the siddhi of `deva-foot ubiquity` and can travel in spirit body to give the student the empowerment. Second, the master is able to call upon dakinis to come and carry the `water used for empowerment` to where the student is to perform the ritual on behalf of the master. When one has acquired these abilities, then one may perform remote empowerment for others.
[Q-22] I am curious and would like to find out why the Grand Master looked twice toward the door to his left during yesterday`s discourse. [audience laughter] It is my observation that the Grand Master is usually very concentrated during his talks and not affected by external influences. [audience laughter]
[A] This is a very sharp and attentive student, and he is also the reason why I could not cough during the discourse. [audience laughter] Many of you have come down with colds, and I had to fight the urge to cough. Actually I don`t have a cold, but I sometimes do have to pay attention to details. For example, when one of my buttons becomes undone, the attentive student thinks, `I wonder what happened that caused him to forget to button up.` [laughter and audience laughter] He was even aware that I had taken a look in that direction. [audience laughter]
What happened was, during that moment in our teaching, a group of people were walking around outside. They came up to the door suddenly and then walked away. Perhaps no one was watching the gate at that moment. Was the gate open or closed [to the security staff]? [A security staff member answered, `The door was half closed.`] Oh, that explains why there were outsiders. Since they were not our students, I paid a little attention to see if they were fire fighters or some other officials. I wanted to make sure that no accident had happened.
[Q-23] The True Buddha News is like the Buddhist scriptures and books to us. Therefore, how should we handle the newspapers after we finish reading them? Should we recycle them, burn them, or just dispose of them in the garbage can? Are there any rituals we should perform?
[A] Well, you are very concerned about their disposal. But actually, after you finish reading the newspapers, you can pass them along to other people until they become worn out. When they are worn out, you do not have to do anything about them anymore. [laughter] Since there are many meaningful articles in the newspapers, pass them along to other people when you are done with them.
[Q-24] Grand Master Lu, please explain the significance of the ring of light that appeared around the sun above the Rainbow Villa last Sunday?
[A] The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas often manifest their commendation of successful events through unusual astronomical and physical signs. A solar aureole or the sudden blooming of flowers is their way of singing praises. It can be regarded as an encouragement for all of us. [audience applause]
[Q-25] The Grand Master has taught us that vibrations from mantra sounds can open up the throat and heart chakras. What kind of sensations accompany such a phenomenon? Several months ago, while chanting the Padmakumara Heart Mantra, I experienced chest pains that were caused by the sound of the mantras. After praying intensively to the Buddhas for blessings and removal of my obscurations, the throat and heart areas stopped hurting. Now my chanting of the Padmakumara Heart Mantra using the vibrating sound method goes very smoothly. Does this mean that I am getting efficacious results from the chanting?
[A] Yes, that is a positive experience that happens during cultivation. In the Treasure Vase Breathing and Inner Heat Practice, one will experience the upsurging of a brisk heat which may cause aches in the head, eyes, or gum tissues. When this happens, one should stop for a while and visualize an icy cold lake appearing on one`s head, the water from the lake filling one`s body like the Universal energy to extinguish the fire. When the aches subside and the inflamed tissues are healed, one may resume the practice as before.
[Q-26] Does the thought `All beings are the seed syllable Hum` mean that one can visualize all Buddhas, deities, oneself, the six realms of beings, and all phenomenal manifestations as the seed syllable Hum? Does this mean treating every being equally without grasping onto and judging their forms and actions?
[A] In accordance with the meaning of Om Ah Hum, wherein `Om` is the Universal consciousness, `Ah` is Buddha, and `Hum` is all beings, one may visualize all phenomenal manifestations as the Hum syllable. Does this mean treating every being equally without grasping onto and judging their forms and actions? Yes, this is how Buddhas and Bodhisattvas act.
[Q-27] `All Dharmas arise and extinguish dependent on causes and conditions.` Are these Dharmas the Buddhadharma or non-Buddhadharma? Or do they include all phenomena?
[A] The term `all Dharmas` does not refer just to the Buddhadharma. It refers to a condition or an environment and every element in that condition. The word `Dharmas` that appear often in Buddhist sutras do not mean only the Buddhadharma or practices such as the Four Preliminary Practices or Guru Yoga. The term `all Dharmas` refer to all phenomenal manifestations in the realm of form.
[Q-28] To benefit all beings, will the Grand Master again compassionately demonstrate to us the employment of the vajra and bell and their secrets. This tape will be produced with special slow motion as a teaching aid to spread the Dharma and help all beings.
[A] [Grand Master demonstrates.] This is to set the Dharma boundary or create a sacred space. This is for purification. This is for magnetization. This is for enhancement. This is for subjugation. While carrying out the various yogic intents, you can maneuver the vajra and bell in graceful ways and visualize lights radiating from these various mudras or movements. The secret lies in the integration of your mental energy with the light and the vajra and bell. [Grand Master repeats demonstrations.] [audience applause]
[Q-29] What is the `Dharma realm`?
[A] In general, the `Dharma realm` refers to the `four holy realms` and `six ordinary realms,` ten different Dharma realms in total. The `four holy realms` are the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, solitary-Buddhas, and arhats. The `six ordinary realms` are devas, humans, asuras, hell beings, hungry ghosts, and animals.
The `Dharma realm` may also be divided into many other systems and dimensions. As a whole, `Dharma realm` refers to the various kinds of levels of existence in the entire Universe.
[Q-30] Since Buddhas have the siddhi of omniscience, why doesn`t the Buddha know how to speak English? [audience laughter]
[A] Lianhua Ling-sheng, let me ask you, since you raised this question, how do you know the Buddha does not know how to speak English? Just because he does not speak it does not mean he does not knows it. Let me say something to you in English! [audience laughter and applause]
[....in italics...(this comment should be deleted later)] I can speak English. This morning I washed my car. [audience laughter and applause] Some people have asked me, Why have you changed cars? Before you drove a Rolls Royce; now you drive a Mercedes. Why? Because the Rolls Royce is no good. In Washington State, just one person services Rolls Royces, and the service no good. [audience laughter and applause] There were constant troubles. Sometimes, no not sometimes ?always, always the car leaked oil. Seriously, the Roll always leaked oil. [audience laughter and applause] Now, have a Mercedes and I like my car. I like its white color. Yes, it is white, the same as my lotus color. [audience laughter and applause] Anyway, yes I can speak English. But I speak English so slowly. My first language is Chinese. English is a second language. [audience applause]
If the Buddha had been born in the Western world, his English would have been top-notch. Now you have forced me to speak in English. [audience laughter and applause]
[Q-31] What is achieved in having sariras in the whole body? How does this achievement differ from the rainbow body transformation?
[A] Sariras are produced when essences in the physical body become condensed. When condensation of the secretions of these life essences occurs in the whole body, it produces sariras all over the body. To transform into the rainbow body is to further transform these condensed essences into light. Therefore the rainbow body transformation is the highest achievement. [audience applause]
[Q-32] Why do sariras generate smaller sariras on their own?
[A] This happens because Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the spirit dimension have empowered and energized the sariras. When there is generation of new sariras in the spirit realm, new ones are also generated in the physical world. This involves the process of miraculous appearance.
[Q-33] What does this sentence mean, `Perception is forgotten through heightened awareness`?
[A] This is a very good question. I will explain with an analogy: although the intense [camera] lighting is very hot, I have forgotten that it is shining on me because my mind is so focused in answering these questions.
[Q-34] Which one of the following three seed syllables is used in the Ksitigarbha Practice? Ching ` ,` Ha ` ,` or Se ` `?
[A] You may use Ha ` .`
[Q-35] If Amitabha is the Principal Deity, then who is his Dharma Protector, Wisdom Dharma Protector, and Consort? Which eight offering mudras does the True Buddha School use?
[A] Yamantaka is the Dharma Protector of Amitabha, and Wisdom Dakini is his Wisdom Dharma Protector. I will tell you who his Consort is in the future when I discuss the Consort Practice.
The True Buddha School also has a set of eight offering mudras. I have previously taught the five offering mudras, which are flowers, incense, lamp, tea, and fruit. When you add the mudras for bath water, wish-fulfilling conch, and incense for anointment, then you will have the eight offering mudras.
[Q-36] Can the video tapes of the discourses here at the Rainbow Villa be shown on cable television?
[A] Yes, the more people who view them the better. This will draw more people to come and learn about the Dharma, and to take refuge.
[Q-37] Can internal injuries sustained in the body be healed by special methods associated with the practice of chi?
[A] Yes, there are internal level practices aimed especially at healing internal injuries. Vajra Fist Exercise is one such practice. One method used in guiding the travel of chi inside the body is to visualize the chi and your finger moving together at the same time through the same path. For example, visualize the chi and move your finger from your feet all the way up ?this is an integration of touch with chi. In the future, I will elaborate on this method of guiding the chi. When I teach the internal level practice, I will instruct you on how to do `lowering,` `elevating,` `sustaining,` and `releasing.` Of these steps, the `elevating` is of greatest importance. I have said before that `with elevation one can leap over Mount Meru.` So what is the key to this step? Which part of your physical body is involved? Many people probably think that I am referring to the anus, but this is not so. However, at this point I still cannot divulge it. [laughter and audience laughter] I have to safeguard a few little secrets; otherwise, what is there for me to do when you learn everything from me. [laughter and audience laughter]
[Q-38] How many kinds of chi are there?
[A] Five kinds: shangxing chi [which covers an area from tip of the nose to the throat and on to heart]; xiaxing chi [which covers an area from the navel to the toes]; pianxing chi [which covers the four limbs]; ming chi [which covers the genitalia, lower dantien, and urinary tract]; and pingxing chi or deng chi [which covers an area between the heart and the navel].
[Q-39] What is the difference between chi and power or strength?
[A] This pertains to teachings in the internal level practices, just like the shangxing chi, xiaxing chi, pianxing chi, ming chi, and pingxing chi. I will address these topics in the future.
[Q-40] What offerings should one use when a fire puja is offered to the Four Deva Kings? Can the Grand Master give us the Fire Puja Empowerment tomorrow? What visualization accompanies the empowerment?
[A] Tomorrow I plan to discuss how to visualize during this empowerment. Generally, however, during the Fire Puja Empowerment, one raises the inner fire and visualizes this fire entering into the brow-point chakra, then it moves down to the heart chakra. After the fire covers up the upper half of the body, it spreads to the lower half, and one then becomes united with the fire. Tomorrow, during the empowerment, you may also do it this way: when I touch your crown, visualize a swirl of fire entering into your body, igniting your whole body, and transforming it into a fireball. The secret lies in the `integration of fire, Personal Deity, and yourself.`
What kind of offerings should one use for the Four Deva Kings? Since one prays to the Four Deva Kings for prosperity and enhancement, offer fruits and wines which are yellow in color. One may offer anything that is inflammable and yellow in color.
[Q-41] If one`s ancestor has passed away in Nanking or Shanghai or gone up to heaven, can one dedicate a `spirit plaque` in his name at the Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple, and would it be of any help to the ancestor`s spirit?
[A] Dedicating a `spirit plaque` at the Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple for one`s ancestor would help him regardless of where he passed away and whether or not he has gone up to heaven.
[Q-42] As a vajrayana practitioner, what should one`s mind be thinking of as one carries out the normal activities of a day? What should one do if the mind gets too busy?
[A] As a vajrayana practitioner going about his or her daily life, nothing should be occupying his or her mind at all. What should one do if the mind gets too busy? When there is nothing in one`s mind, it does not get busy. If one is not yet able to empty one`s mind, one should rest the mind on `One.`
[Q-43] To what does the `nine phoenixes` refer in the `nine phoenixes purifying water method that removes filth`? [taught in one of Grand Master Lu`s Taoist books] How does one visualize them?
[A] The phoenix is a spiritual bird of ancient times. According to ancient legends, the nine phoenixes can neutralize many kinds of poisons and are feared by all poisons and filth. Do you know what a phoenix looks like? Just visualize nine of them, and that will do.
[Q-44] According to Tantric rules, one must receive empowerment before learning each mantra, mudra, and liturgy. Does this apply to the Manjusri Rebirth Mantra that is practiced before meals? Is it bad if one does the practice without receiving an empowerment?
[A] It is true that Tantric rules require one to receive an empowerment before practicing each mantra, mudra, and liturgy. Regarding mudras such as the one used in the Manjusri Rebirth Mantra, one may ask for an empowerment if one wants to. If, however, one already knows the meaning of the practice and uses the mantra very devoutly then, even though one has not received any empowerment or blessing, one`s sincerity will one day move Manjusri in the spiritual realm to give a blessing which is equivalent to an empowerment.
Therefore, it is best if one can receive an empowerment. If not, use one`s sincerity to move Manjusri into giving one an empowerment. This will allow the Manjusri Rebirth Mantra and Mudra that one employs to be efficacious.
[Q-45] What are the differences between the hells in the Vajra Hells and those described in the book Yu Li Bao Chao [the Jade Almanac]? Is `visualization` the same as the term `thinking with closed eyes`?
[A] `Visualization` and `thinking with closed eyes` are just different terms describing the same process.
Yu Li Bao Chao describes the ten hells of the Yama King or the eighteen hells, whereas Vajra Hells are hells for vajrayana practitioners who have made transgressions in vajrayana precepts, samaya precepts, or other precepts.
[Q-46] Grand Master, why are plants not included in the six realms of transmigration? What is the Universal Consciousness? Is `samadhi` the only way to attain the Universal Consciousness? When the Grand Master mentioned `lotuses as big as cart wheels,` were you referring to them as symbols for the different local chapters of the True Buddha School (seating many people) and the personal shrine (seating one person)?
[A] Plants also go through transmigration.
Can Universal Consciousness be attained only through `samadhi`? Actually, the Universal Consciousness is what is known as the `Dharma realm,` `the Divine Energy.` It is not attained only through `samadhi.` As long as one can open up and become one with the Universal Consciousness, one attains `It.` There are many ways to attain It. Any method can lead one to It. The eighty four thousand doorways mentioned by the Buddha are all equal because they can all lead one to the Universal Consciousness.
`Lotuses as big as cart wheels` does not mean lotuses for local chapters are bigger while lotuses for individual practitioners are smaller. This is not what it means. [laughter]
[Q-47] In the Zen riddles, some masters ask their students if they are `full.` What should the reply be? What do the answers of `yes` and `no` mean?
[A] If the answer is `yes,` it means he is full and can leave! [audience laughter] If the answer is `no,` then he can go on and eat some more! [laughter and audience laughter and applause] Actually, the meaning behind it is this: When a master asks if one is `full,` the answer that `one is full` confirms one`s realization. By answering `not full,` one has to work harder to make more progress on the path. This is a very simplistic answer. I won`t go into other explanations that are deeper.
[Q-48] Monks or cultivators can become enlightened suddenly when they drop and break a cup, see a falling leaf, or hurt their big toe by stumbling on a brick. What is the lesson of Zen in these incidences?
[A] If one kicks one`s big toe into a piece of brick, the Zen lesson here is that `the toe will become swollen.` [laughter and audience laughter] Do not think so much! [audience laughter] Be simple. Go at once to buy some medicine ointment to put on it. [laughter and audience laughter]
Breaking a cup and getting the hand scalded was what happened to the Venerable Master Hsu Yun. The breaking of the cup had enabled him to suddenly intuit the Truth. This intuition of Truth is considered an `initial rupture on the egoic hold.` The breaking of the cup represents the breaking of the boundary between `outside` and `inside.` In other words, one is just like a cup when one contracts and recoils into the limited `self.` Why doesn`t one just smash the body and expand one`s consciousness to that of the Universal Consciousness? Isn`t that much better? This is Abolition of Duality.
With fallen leaves, go and sweep them up. [laughter and audience laughter] Indeed, if there are fallen leaves, and one`s master hands one a broom, one goes and sweeps them. Well, leaves fall every day. One day, one tells one`s master, `Master, there is no need to sweep.` `Why not?` `Because after today`s sweeping, they will fall still tomorrow. After tomorrow`s sweeping, they will fall again the day after tomorrow. So, why bother?` As soon as the master hears that, he knows the student has achieved Enlightenment. [laughter and audience laughter and applause] Sweeping leaves also can lead to Enlightenment! The leaves represent `problems perceived by one.` There will be `problems perceived by one` every day, so why sweep or tackle them, just let them be blown away by the wind. Here at the Rainbow Villa, it is very windy. When the wind comes, it will blow all of the leaves to someone else` property. [audience laughter] Sometimes one has to sweep, sometimes one does not have to sweep ?it depends on how one`s interpretation is.
[Q-49] Humans and animals are living creatures. Why is it that after an earth worm is cut into two halves, both halves can still move? In this case, how does one determine which half has the Buddha Nature? [laughter and audience laughter]
[A] You do know how to ask a question. This has been asked by someone before. Since an earth worm has Buddha Nature, and when it is cut into two moving halves, which half has the Buddha Nature? In general people will say the Buddha Nature is in both halves. The true answer is that `Buddha Nature is inherent in everything,` not just in the two halves, but also in the spiritual realm and in the empty space. The existence of Buddha Nature is not confined to only living and moving creatures! No, being alive is not equated to Buddha Nature; these are two completely different things. So, it is baffling to ask this question. [laughter and audience laughter] Do not equate moving creatures with Buddha Nature.
[Q-50] Why are mudras released at the brow point? Is there any subtle reason for doing this?
[A] Mudras are released at the brow point because that is the most beautiful gesture. [laughter and audience laughter] One may release mudras at the throat or other areas, but it is most reverent to release it at the brow point or at the crown. Among the descriptions of the Dharma Body of all Buddhas is the `Supreme Crown` or `the Most Honorable and Victorious Buddha Crown,` thus the crown of the Buddha is the most victorious area. The releasing of mudras at the crown area constitutes something that is most honorable, victorious, and remarkable.
[Q-51] What kind of preparation should a vajrayana practitioner make before attending oral teachings given by the Root Guru? Should he do visualization and chant mantras? How can one obtain the benefits of `mouth-to-ear transmission`?
[A] In general, the term `mouth-to-ear transmission` refers to teachings on a `one-to-one basis.` For example, I talk and you listen. In the past, `mouth[whisper]-to-ear transmission` was on a one-to-one basis and more secretive. What we have here today at this public teaching is different, but it also may be termed `mouth-to-ear transmission.` I also talk and you listen.
What kind of preparation should one make before attending the Root Guru`s teachings? Go and use the toilet first! [laughter and audience uproar] There is no need to use visualization or mantra when you use the toilet. [audience laughter] That should be sufficient preparation.
[Q-52] The Guru Yoga and Personal Deity Yoga are two separate practices. But if there is a constraint of time, may one integrate the two practices?
[A] You may do so. In Tantrayana, many practices may be combined. The Four Preliminary Practices may be combined with the Guru Yoga. One may also combine the Four Preliminaries with Guru Yoga and Personal Deity Yoga.
[Q-53] In one of the tape recordings made in 1991 at the True Buddha Tantric Quarter, the Grand Master said the following, while explaining the Hundred Syllable Mantra: `je-you-mi-ba-wa, je-zuo-mi-ba-wa.` Since the original Hundred Syllable Mantra does not contain the phrase `je-you-mi-ba-wa,` should we insert this one particular phrase into the mantra when we chant it now?
[A] What you are doing is looking for my shortcomings! [laughter and audience laughter] There is only `je-zuo-mi-ba-wa` and not `je-you-mi-ba-wa.` `Je-you-mi-ba-wa` came out because I was not able to tell right from left at that time. [laughter and audience laughter] [`Zuo` and `you` sound the same as `left` and `right` in Chinese respectively.] Actually many close students know that I sometimes have trouble telling right from left. Finally someone showed me a way to remember it. Since we always answer roll call by answering `you [equivalent to `here` in English]! I will just raise my right hand whenever I say `you.` This has helped me to distinguish left from right. `You!` [Grand Master raises his right hand to audience laughter] When I was in the army, and the captain called out `turn to the right` [audience laughter], I always turned to the left. [laughter and audience uproar] You know I was the shortest and stood at the end. When everyone was turning right and marching away, I was the only one ... [laughter and audience laughter and applause] This was true. I had no problem with `turn to the back,` but I sometimes had trouble with left and right. When I couldn`t figure it out right away, I would turn arbitrarily to one side, and each time it would turn out to be the opposite direction from that the whole troop had turned. After I started off, I would turn to take a look [laughter] and everybody else was very far away. [audience laughter] So this business of `left versus right` has been troubling me for many years. After I started driving and came to America, it took me a while to straighten out the traffic signs of `Turn Right` and `Turn Left.` [audience laughter] This inability to figure out right from left is my shortcoming. Very good! Now the questioner has brought it all out in public. [laughter and audience laughter]
[Q-54] Beings who are reborn in Sukhavati will have limitless lifespans. How about beings reborn in other Buddha Pure Lands, do they also enjoy such infinite longevity?
[A] Yes, lifespans in many Buddha Pure Lands are very long, so long that they are beyond counting. That is why they are called `infinite lifespans.`
[Q-55] Is the visualization of the transformation of the seed syllable into the Personal Deity very important? If one mixes the seed syllables up, does this mean one cannot attain yogic response?
[A] The transformation of the seed syllable into the Personal Deity is one among a series of steps in visualization. First a moon disc appears, followed by the appearance of the seed syllable on the moon disc. The seed syllable then rotates to transform into the Personal Deity, who then bestows the three lights of blessing on one. Furthermore, the Personal Deity moves to the top of one`s crown, contracts to a very miniature size, and enters into one`s central channel. After stopping at the heart chakra, it enlarges to become one with one. This is the visualization of the `merging of one with the Personal Deity.`
This kind of visualization entails many steps, and requires an intensity of involvement. The transformation of the seed syllable into the Personal Deity is, of course, a very important step. If the wrong seed syllable is visualized, one cannot attain yogic response. If one does not know that one has made a mistake, there is nothing one can do about it. It is considered an error. But when one finds out about it, one can correct it. This is very important.
That is why there is the `Remedy Mantra,` which is used when one notices that errors have been made during the practice. One chants the Remedy Mantra to mend those mistakes. The chanting of the Hundred Syllable Mantra also serves this same purpose. During the practice, if any mistakes happen, such as unclear visualization, bad thoughts, wrong mudra, or even yawning or coughing, one may chant the Hundred Syllable Mantra to make amends for them.
Among all the seed syllables is one which is universal to all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. This is the seed syllable `Ah ( ).` One may visualize this seed syllable to appear on the moon disc regardless of which Personal Deity Yoga one practices. There is no error when one visualizes `Ah` transforming into the Personal Deity, since it is the universal syllable shared by all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
[Q-56] Does the seed syllable on the moon disc turn clockwise or does it vacillate vertically from left to right?
[A] Oh, this is a question about left and right. In my visualization, the seed syllable turns in a clockwise fashion, whether it is horizontal or vertical. Generally speaking, in Tibetan Buddhism, the seed syllable is vertically placed, though it may sometimes be horizontal. Regarding my own habit, the seed syllable is vertical when it is on top of a moon disc and horizontal when it is on my navel or heart chakra.
[Q-57] How did the Five Great Buddhas evolve?
[A] The Five Great Buddhas all emerged from the Great Sun Buddha. What were the steps of evolution? We can use a Chinese means of interpreting it. I have been asked this question before, but I have not come across any explanation of this in the Buddhist sutras. Let us look at the five elements of metal, wood, water, fire, and earth, of which the central element, earth, is the beginning. Earth gives rise to metal, which is associated with the west, and thus Amitabha. Metal gives rise to water, which is associated with the north, and thus Amoghasiddhi Buddha. From water is wood generated which is the east, and thus Akshobaya Buddha. Isn`t this right? Wood gives rise to fire, which is associated with south, and thus Ratnasambhava Buddha. These are the steps of evolution of the Five Great Buddhas or Buddha Wisdoms. Others might offer a different interpretation.
[Q-58] How does one close the lower gap in the central channel during the practice of Inner Heat?
[A] I will teach you in the future, as it has to do with the `internal practice` of Inner Heat. How does one close the upper and lower gaps in the central channel? How can the inner fire be kindled? Since there is a distance between the starter and the kindling, one cannot start the fire. How can one bring the starter and the kindling together so that one may ignite the kindling and produce the inner fire? This is a secret. If I taught you today, then I would have no classes to offer in the future. So, let us postpone it for a future teaching.
[Q-59] If the right and left sides of a piece of property are unbalanced in terms of feng shui, besides using the method of invoking `devas` to suppress the noxious energy, can one invoke the Buddhas to use their Ten Transcendental Powers to help one?
[A] Actually it is much more difficult to invoke the Buddhas than to invoke the devas. Your land is unbalanced in energy, so you want to invoke the Buddhas. How can the Buddhas be bothered with your business all the time? You may invoke them, but it is quite difficult to get a response from them unless one has already cultivated to a level almost the same as that of the Buddhas. Otherwise, just arbitrarily assign a child to call aloud, `The Thus Come One, please come!` Will they come? [audience laughter] The Thus-Come One will not thus come. [audience laughter] It is not easy to invoke the Buddhas unless one is almost at the same level as they. But then, if one has reached the same level as the Buddhas, why would one want to ask help from the devas, one could just ask oneself. [audience laughter and applause]
[Q-60] Yesterday when the Grand Master told us that he would give us some empowerments tomorrow, my heart was filled with joy. I sincerely ask the Grand Master to give us the White Tara Purification Empowerment. Since the Twenty One Taras include outstanding practices such as the Kuan Yin, White Tara, and Green Tara, if the Grand Master will compassionately disseminate this teaching to us, it will make the lineage of the True Buddha School more magnificent.
[A] Who has access to the mantras of the Twenty One Taras? [Several masters raise up their hands.] I have given away my copies of the text with the Twenty One Taras` mantras to some of the masters in our school, and they have them now. You may ask the masters for the mantras of the Twenty One Taras. We will have the empowerment tomorrow. [audience applause]
[Q-61] I have read an article called `The Dharani of All Tathagata Heart Secret Body Relic Treasure Case.` It is accompanied by an illustration of a Five Wheels Stupa which resembles the shape of a human body. There is this passage in the article, `At the time the Buddha saw the rotting stupa, he took off his top dress to drape over it, and started to cry. When he finished crying, he smiled. At this time, all Buddhas in the ten directions witnessed this, and they also started crying and shining light on the stupa.` Was this the origin of the later enshrining of relics in stupas? The illustrated stupa consisted of five shapes: square, circle, triangle, semi-circle, and heart. Can we also set up a shrine using this same model? The more I read this sutra, the more I feel that it is a description of the past, present, and future of Grand Master Lu. Is my intuition correct? If it is correct, can the empowerment of `All Tathagata Heart Secret Body Relic` be added to tomorrow`s program? Are there any special prerequisites prior to receiving this empowerment? What are the visualizations? Is this practice the `Padmakumara Practice`?
[A] This is a scripture from the Buddha Tantra. The Five Wheels Stupa of `earth, water, fire, wind, and space` symbolizes the Great Sun Buddha in the Garbhadhatu. Therefore, these five elements make up the heart mantra of the Garbhadhatu Great Sun Buddha. On the other hand, the mantra for the Vajradhatu is `Om, Be-ja-dha-du, Xun.` As mentioned in my True Buddha Tantric Quarter teachings, I have done drawings of the Five Wheel Stupas. Your intuition is not bad. We can have this empowerment tomorrow if other people are also interested in it; otherwise, I will just give it to you yourself.
[Q-62] How long does the effect of an empowerment last? Will it last till the next life?
[A] It is generally fine if one receives many empowerments. One may also ask for a certain empowerment to be bestowed when one decides to pursue that particular practice. What it means is that, after receiving many different empowerments, the power of lineage transmission will manifest when one starts to do the practice. The power from the empowerment, like a seed planted in soil, remains dormant. When one starts doing the practice, which is equivalent to the giving of water, sunlight, and air, the seed will germinate. Otherwise, if one does not do the practice, it will remain forever as a seed.
[Q-63] Does `Namo Western Paradise Thirty Six Trillion One Nineteen Thousand Five Hundred Amitabhas` represent all Buddhas and all beings? Or does it refer only to the Buddhas and beings in the Pure Lands of the east, south, west, and north directions?
[A] When we chant `Namo Western Paradise Thirty Six Trillion One Nineteen Thousand Five Hundred Amitabhas,` we refer to the Amitabhas in the Western Paradise. It does not represent all Buddhas and all beings. In the east, south, and north Pure Lands, the number of beings is also very great. In the eyes of the Buddhas, the number of realms of beings is unaccountable and indescribable. The same can be said about the Buddha realms.
[Q-64] Grand Master Lu, are the signs of yogic responses classified into different levels? If so, how may one distinguish the different levels?
[A] Regarding the signs of yogic response, I already discussed this last Saturday evening. I can expand on it using the example of Inner Fire Practice. Of course, the Inner Fire Practice has its own signs: the first sign is the appearance of smoke, the second sign is the appearance of a small fire, the third sign is a huge and powerful fire and, finally, the appearance of light. The emergence of the stage of light is tantamount to arriving at a very high level of response. Just as the Inner Fire Practice has four different levels of response, other practices are characterized by their own different levels of response.
[Q-65] My first question pertains to attaining the state of `non-leakage.` How can the `stopping of menstrual flow` be achieved? How does one achieve the state described by the Taoist term of `conquering the dragon and tiger`? Where are the `three hun and seven pa` [a term that describes the different constituents of a person`s soul] located? What are the Four Deva Kings` mantra seed syllables and their colors?
[A] Writings on the `three hun and seven pa` may be found on page 83 of my 98th book, Transpersonal Experiences in the Ocean of Beings. The mantras of the Four Deva Kings may be found in my 49th book, The Method of Vajrayana.
I shall address now the questions pertaining to `non-leakage` and `stopping of menstrual flow.` It is known in Taoism or Tantric Buddhism that when one exhausts the vital essences in one`s body, one dies. It is therefore best if one can achieve a state wherein there is no leakage of any of the vital essences of one`s body. Simply put, males have to be able to keep light drops from leaking. Light drops include both the non-physical `wisdom light drops` and the physical `semen.` For females, it would be non-physical `wisdom light drops` and the physical `menstrual blood.` How does one stop these light drops from leaking? These are `internal level` practices. First, one must learn to do the Treasure Vase Breathing to fill the whole body with a vigorous chi. Sometimes the hand can be used as a tactile guide for the movement of chi. When the finger moves upward, visualize chi also moving upward along with the finger. Eventually, the chi will move upward without any tactile guidance. By practicing the Treasure Vase Breathing, one`s whole body becomes like a treasure vase filled with vigorous chi that filters down to the capillary level.
Next, chi is gathered and transformed into an inner fire that is used to burn up all those physical light drops [which would normally lead to a cascade of events resulting in end products] that are discharged from the body. The physical light drops, which are fluids, will turn into vapors when this inner combustion takes place. As vapors, they arise. When they ascend to the five chakras, they condense and turn into sariras. Internal Practices are thus methods employing chi in one`s body to transport these fluids ?which emerge as a result of the `inner fire` combustion process ?to the five chakras.
Light drops that are about to leak can be elevated by assuming a certain body position or posture. In the tempering process, the inner fire is used to burn these light drops and transform them into vapor. The vapor will rise inside the central channel and, upon reaching the five chakras, transform into sariras.
In Taoism, this process is known as `conquering the dragon and subjugating the tiger,` `non-leakage of light drops,` and `cessation of the menstrual flow.` It is easy to speak about this process but, in reality, in order to achieve the `non-leakage of light drops,` one has to lower one`s desires. The six senses of sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and thought have to be shut off. When one is desire-free, an inner peace is sustained. Then one may practice the four steps of `lowering, elevating, sustaining, and dispersing,` and use the `elevating` method to raise light drops, temper them with the inner fire, and transform them into vapor. This is also what is termed in Taoism the practice of `ching, chi, and shen.` Ching transforms into chi, which transforms into shen, which then returns to the void. This is the Taoist method of cultivation to return to the Original Source.
In Tantric Buddhism, `non-leakage of light drops` is also the goal. In Vajrayana Buddhism, engaging in consort practice, while one still has leakage of light drops, constitutes a breaking of the vajrayana precepts and can cause one to descend to the vajra hell. Consort practice is engaged in vajrayana because it is an effective way to induce the lowering of the fluid known as `white bindu.` While still engaging in consort practice, chi is transferred and instilled into the other party`s central channel to open it up. In this process, chi is transformed through skillful means into `wisdom chi,` which is used to open up the central channel. This is tantamount to helping the other party to experience the state of liberation. The circulation of chi enables the other party to enter into the same realm as one is in oneself. This is the reason why this very secret yoga is practiced in Tantric schools. However, if the female party is not able to consciously achieve cessation of menstrual flow and the male party is not able to prevent the lightdrops from leaking, then engaging in such practices can cause one to descend to the vajra hell. The successful practice of `non-leakage of lightdrops` is a minimum prerequisite before one should attempt the consort practice. Padmasambhava had five female consorts with whom he entered into sexual union practice for the above reasons.
[Q-66] As I am now just starting to do the daily practice following the guidelines in the practice text, I am not clear on many things. When should I attempt the meditation [samadhi] step?
[A] Actually, students in general have to practice entering samadhi every time they do the practice. They may do `breath counting,` and try to first quiet their mind down a little bit. Start out slowly and, over time, you will be able to enter into a deeper and subtler state of consciousness. You must include this exercise in every single one of your practices.
However, if you are a new refuge student and are starting out with the Four Preliminary Practices, then you do not have to do the samadhi step yet. Just work with one preliminary practice at a time or combine all four practices together.
[Q-67] Is there any connection between the `nine levels of existence` in the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Paradise [Sukhavati] and the Grand Master`s Siddhi, the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds?
[A] Yes, there is.
[Q-68] Many students are muddled and do not have a clear understanding of Grand Master and the True Buddha School when they take refuge. If, later on, they decide to leave the school due to personal problems with fellow students or masters in the school, would they be considered to have broken the Samaya Pledge?
[A] Yes, that would constitute a breaking of the Samaya Pledge. I would like to point out to everyone that `taking refuge` and the `Samaya Pledge` are very serious matters. If you have, in the beginning, taken refuge in a muddled state, then you have to learn to do the practice carefully and to hear clearly the teachings and precepts I transmit to you. When you do this, you will not remain in a muddled state and leave. [audience applause]
[Q-69] Going too far is as bad as not going far enough. Are there examples of `excessiveness` in the practice and propagation of the Buddhadharma that can serve to alert us that we should do everything just right? When we witness fellow students or directors of local chapters acting inappropriately, may we give them advice?
[A] Both going too far and not going far enough are undesirable. The Buddha has made an analogy of this issue using the strings of a zither. When the strings are too tight, they break. When the strings are too loose, the music does not sound good. When one plays a guitar, the tension of the strings have to be set just right in order to produce the most beautiful sound quality. It is the same with learning to meditate. The most beautiful moment occurs when we are neither too tight nor too loose.
Regarding whether one should give advice, one must use one`s wisdom. Personal affairs are among the most difficult problems. If you know how to use your wisdom to do tasks of mediation, you could become a `taming husband` [an epithet of the Buddha]. [laughter]
[Q-70] How may one differentiate the light circle at the third eye chakra from the white bindu? Is it white in color? If not, what practice should one do to change it to white? Does the light circle at the third eye chakra move? How should one practice to assure that one is on the right path and has not turned into a lunatic? When karmic hindrances emerge in thoughts, what is the proper treatment?
[A] Regarding the light circle at the third eye chakra and the white bindu, we usually refer to them as white. White is used as an representation of their color. Is the light circle moving? If you observe that it is moving, then you are right.
How does one know if one is on the right path or has become a lunatic? It again comes down to wisdom. One must ask oneself if all the things that one is doing are reasonable. Do they make sense? Are they in accordance with the teachings of the Buddhadharma? One must constantly ask oneself these questions.
What is the proper treatment for karmic hindrances emerging in thoughts? Visualization is the proper treatment. If ill thoughts pop up in one`s mind, one must constantly visualize the compassionate faces of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to displace those undesirable thoughts. Visualization is the technique used in esoteric Buddhism to replace one thought with another thought.
[Q-71] Grand Master, please explain the application of the view of `sui san` [literally: to let it disperse] and the areas that one must pay attention to in this practice.
[A] What is the view of `sui san`? It is a view wherein one`s consciousness rests in the immense and expansive nature of the mind. For example, one always holds the thought that one abides in Emptiness, a condition wherein one is not abiding anywhere at all. One`s mind is not focused here, there, or at any particular point; neither does it spread anywhere. Just let it be dispersed by the wind. This is the view of `sui san.` It is a condition wherein the mind becomes equated with Emptiness and is not attached to any place.
[Q-72] I have been practicing Food Bestowing to Spirits for some time now. Grand Master Lu has said that the front door is used to welcome the spirits and the back door is used to see them off. But, is it all right if I carry out the ritual in my backyard, and do my invocation of the Grand Master and the seven Buddhas to bless my practice there?
[A] Yes, you can do that, because you regard your back door as your front door and vice versa.
[Q-73] Should I chant the Food Transformation Mantra and the Nectar Mantra at my shrine or in my backyard?
[A] You can do either one.
[Q-74] Must I sprinkle the water energized with the mantras outside the house? May I sprinkle it on the wall enclosing my backyard?
[A] You may do either.
[Q-75] What is the best time for doing Food Bestowing?
[A] You can do it anytime. [laughter] [audience laughter and applause]
[Q-76] Is it right or wrong if one`s desires gradually decrease and disappear over time with the practice of the True Buddha Tantric Dharma?
[A] It is of course right!
[Q-77] My family members do not believe or practice the True Buddha Tantric Dharma; they believe in a different religion. What should I do with these feelings of loathing that have sprung up in me?
[A] Do not detest them, because other religions also have their own strong points.
[Q-78] If we do not yield to each other, am I causing my family to break one of the Five Precepts?
[A] It is you, not they, who is breaking the Five Precepts. [audience laughter] Therefore it is all right to yield to them.
[Q-79] In trying to introduce and explain the True Buddha School to others, I have met rejection and sometimes heard slandering of the school. How should I ask the Buddhas to forgive their ignorance?
[A] You can chant mantra and do practices for them.
[Q-80] At places where there are no earth energy and no Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, how can I invoke the Buddhas to empower my practice so it will be efficacious?
[A] What makes you think a place does not have earth energy or Buddhas and Bodhisattvas? [audience laughter] Buddhas and Bodhisattvas exist everywhere. Earth energy is found everywhere on earth.
[Q-81] After using the method of patting one`s left and right thighs to invoke the Dharma Protectors during emergencies, how should one thank them?
[A] Just make offerings to them.
[Q-82] If there is something weighing on one`s mind, and one cannot concentrate on doing the practice, may one chant the Guru`s Heart Mantra instead? Or, what else should one do?
[A] If one is unable to do the practice, chanting the mantra is fine. Mantra chanting is also a kind of practice.
[Q-83] According to Rule 37 of the Fifty Stanzas of Guru Devotion, when women attend Dharma teachings, they have to sit in a dignified way, join palms and pay attention. Should female students sit properly with palms joined while attending this series of lectures, as well as during group practices and other Dharma ceremonies?
[A] Just joining palms for a moment will do. One can`t just let one`s arms get sore.
[Q-84] I have always doubted if the Buddha was able to convince Yashodhara [Buddha`s wife] to turn to the path of liberation. Why?
[A] It did happen according to the Buddhist scriptures. Yashodhara was at first quite upset. She lost her loved ones ?even her son had become a renunciant. But, at the end, she also realized the emptiness and impermanence in everything, including suffering.
How does one integrate this realization of the inherent emptiness of the self, others, and all phenomenal existence into one`s everyday activities, thereby turning it into a living truth? Make time and take time to experience this.
[Q-85] What does the Grand Master like most? What is the Grand Master most afraid of?
[A] There is nothing I am particularly fond of or afraid of. [audience applause] Of course, the Buddha is also like that. The Buddha has no particular likings and fears. The truth is that the self, others, and all conditions in the phenomenal worlds do not inherently exist. [audience applause]
[Q-86] What has caused us to come here to hear the teaching on An Overview of the Buddhadharma? How should each of us repay the Grand Master? I wish Grand Master Lu would stay in the world forever to turn the Dharma Wheel. Many students need to learn from you and would like to get close to you. Yet we are worried that you will soon retire. What can we do to keep you?
[A] `Entreat the Buddha to always stay in the world` ?this is the same vow made by Samantabhadra Bodhisattva. Now, why have you come here to hear this teaching on An Overview of the Buddhadharma? Because you wanted to. [audience laughter] As for repaying me, it is not necessary.
[Q-87] To enter into samadhi, one must first enter into the state of `no thought.` But the Grand Master has often referred to the accomplishment of many extraordinary tasks during samadhi. For these feats to happen, does the consciousness need to revert to the state of `thoughts`? Is this what is meant by the phrase `zheng kong miao you` [contained in the true void are all phenomenal existences]?
[A] Yes, `thought` generated from the state of `no thought,` or `thought sprung from the ground of mental cessation,` is what is spiritual power. After entering into the state of mental cessation, the first thought that is engendered (when you want to accomplish some task)- is called `thought sprung from the ground of mental cessation.` It is spiritual power. It is `zheng kong miao you.`
[Q-88] Can the Grand Master give the following empowerments to those students who missed them when the Grand Master gave them here at the Rainbow Villa last November? They are: the Vajra Empowerment, the Skeleton View, the Body Offering, Vajra Heart Bodhisattva, Guru Yoga, and the Deva of Auspiciousness?
[A] I hope there will be enough time. [audience applause]
[Q-89] I used to practice the `Dan Tao,` a type of exercise that promotes health. Now that I have taken refuge in the Grand Master and am learning the True Buddha Tantric Dharma, are there any other things that I should pay attention to?
[A] Although Dan Tao is a Taoist practice, it is also a kind of internal energy practice. In Taoism there is the so-called `nine swirls mystical pill-cauldrons [dan-ding] practice.` The nine pill-cauldrons refer to nine locations in the intestine. In this practice, light drops are manoeuvered into the pill-cauldrons where they are further tempered with inner fire. The `pill-cauldron practice` in Taoism and the Tantric internal practice are just two different approaches that produce the same results. For example, the visualization involving the central channel and the right and left channels are different in the two schools.
[Q-90] Please briefly explain the `twelve links of existence.`
[A] The so-called `twelve links of existence` refers to the twelve links that constitute the chain of conditioned arising. The first link is `ignorance` and the last link is `old age and death.` The chain consists of ignorance?impulses?consciousness?the mental and the physical?the six sense-object realms?contact? sensation?craving?grasping?becoming? birth?old age and death. While sitting under the bodhi tree, the Buddha contemplated these twelve terms. These describe the twelve phenomena that constitute the conditioned arising of men from ignorance through old age and death. Meditating on these phenomena finally led him to Enlightenment.
[Q-91] How can one`s will power and determination be strengthened so that one will practice energetically and make progress on the path?
[A] By keeping in mind the original aspiration that motivated you to seek Liberation.
[Q-92] As a Buddhist practitioner, what should I do when facing oppression from authorities in the world? Should I use my utmost effort to make known my stand and viewpoint?
[A] Faith cannot be subdued by force. When circumstances permit you to express yourself, do so. When they do not, then do not talk about it.
[Q-93] Since I have not yet achieved enough spiritual power, what can I do to help other people solve their difficulties and problems?
[A] Pray to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to intercede for you. There are eight ways to solve emotional afflictions. One of them is through the chanting of sutras.
[Q-94] When I am about to light the incense to start my practice, the hair on my left leg stands up, but just momentarily. During the practice, when I start to chant the High King Avalokitesvara Sutra and the Great Compassionate Dharani, my back feels like there are bugs crawling around. What should I do about this? Also, why do cultivators who meditate several times a day and who know many of Buddhist theories act in contradictory ways and still harbor lust and greed for prestige in their mind? Although in moments of clarity, they do know that those desires are bad for them.
[A] If the hair on your left leg stands up [audience laughter] momentarily, then just ignore it. [audience laughter] It is only for a moment, after all. As for the feeling of bugs crawling, as long as it does not affect your chanting, then it does not matter, just ignore it. Regarding the cultivator who does not do what he or she advocates, it is because he or she has not yet reached the state of stabilization. If he or she keeps on practicing, then he or she will be able to one day integrate theory with practice.
[Q-95] Someone made the dubious comment that not all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have achieved Supreme Enlightenment. What was she referring to?
[A] This is how I feel. Bodhisattvas are still a little bedazzled by the world of dust. However, Buddhas are fully Enlightened. If not, why should we want to be like them? Anuttara-samyaksambodhi, or `perfect universal Enlightenment,` is Enlightenment attained by a complete Buddha.
[Q-96] Since our school has so many extraordinary practices that deal with the five arts (fate-reading, divination, physiognomy, healing, and other immortal practices), I think it would be beneficial if we could organize them in more systematic ways. Does the Grand Master think that I am being too worldly?
[A] That can be done if they are to be used as auxiliaries to Buddhist practices.
[Q-97] The ancient Chinese sages Li Chun-feng and Liu Bo-wen have produced works such as the `tuibeitu` and `shaobingge` respectively, giving predictions on the future of China. Does the Grand Master plan to write a `mianbaoge,` or any similar long poem, to predict the future of the world?
[A] I will do this later. I will write the `shaobingge` and `mianbaoge` later. [audience laughter]
[Q-98] The video tapes of A Complete and Detailed Exposition on the True Buddha Tantric Dharma shall introduce the True Buddha Tantric Dharma to people in all parts of the world, as well as to future generations. For all these fellow students in the world and all future students who are unable to meet directly with the Grand Master, will they still be able to obtain the empowerment of lineage transmission after they have learned from the tapes the mantras, mudras and the employment of implements?
[A] They can obtain the lineage transmission by remote empowerment.
[Q-99] As the True Buddha Tantric Dharma spreads to far corners of the world and as time goes on, some students might take upon themselves to change the practice by making additions, deletions, or alterations. They might even say they have permission from the Grand Master. Will the Grand Master please instruct all of us, the True Buddha students, how we should protect the True Buddha Tantric Dharma to keep it intact for a long time?
[A] I think it is all right for a tree to branch out as long as the branches remain part of the tree and do not become severed.
[Q-100] What qualification should a True Buddha student have if he wants to receive an empowerment for the `Powa` [crown opening] practice? Is the practice done in the presence of a master?
[A] `Powa` does not require a master at one`s side when one practices it. But I need to tell you that you should do the Long Life Buddha Practice simultaneously with Powa. After the crown opens up, the practice is done only once a month, due to its inherent danger.
[Q-101] Is the relationship between `stillness and movement` that of `fundamental and supplementary`? `To find stillness amid movement` is to find equilibrium, isn`t it? How does one strike a balance between stillness and movement?
[A] This is the same as the tuning of a stringed instrument, not too loose and not too tight.
[Q-102] What are the physical essences found inside a body? On which two points are the body`s essences located?
[A] The two physical essences, or life elements, are `xue` [blood] and `ching` [semen]. They are located inside the body at the dantiens, i.e., the brow-point level and at an area four fingers` width below the navel.
[Q-103] What is meant by the Clear Light? How does it differ from ordinary light? Why is the light of the Great Sun Buddha able to pervade every dark corner? Is it a special kind of light that can bend? How may one judge if the different kinds of light that one sees along the path of cultivation are normal or abnormal? It takes three years of full-time devotion to do all Four Preliminary Practices 100,000 times. Does this mean that one needs to become a renunciant in order to practice them adequately?
[A] Regarding the Clear Light, the light of the Great Sun Buddha is a kind of Dharma realm light that is beyond our ordinary imagination. It is different from ordinary light experienced by our sciences and our sensory organs. The kinds of light now seen by us are actually a mental construct of ours and not the same as the Great Sun Buddha`s Clear Light.
Does it take three years to complete the Four Preliminary Practices 100,000 times? Go and try it out for yourself. Some people are able to do them in a shorter period.
[Q-104] Is the seventh consciousness the dream subconsciousness?
[A] The seventh consciousness is `manas,` which may also be called the subconsciousness. The subconsciousness also manifests through dream states.
[Q-105] How does one have control in dreams?
[A] Pray to the Personal Deity and Root Guru for blessings, so that your mind will remain lucid and have control in your dreams. There is the Dream Yoga that one may practice.
[Q-106] I will soon be returning to Beijing. After I return, I plan to set up a Tantric shrine at home. Due to all kinds of constraints, the shrine will be a very simple one. What should I be aware of during the setup? How should the shrine be consecrated when it is finished? What are the Five Roots and Five Powers?
[A] There is a very detailed description on the setup of a Tantric shrine in my 81st book, Liturgy in the True Buddha School. Just follow the guidelines there.
The Five Roots are `sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch.` The Five Powers are `faith, vigor, thought, stability, and wisdom.`
[Q-107] What is the best and simplest method to bring Buddhists of scriptural schools and non-Buddhists to practice the True Buddha Tantric Dharma? Does the True Buddha School have any material [in English] to help Caucasians and those children of Chinese descent born in America?
[A] You may share with them the various points of remarkableness of the True Buddha School, which we went over the other day. The practice text is now available in English. Also, many groups, such as the Purple Lotus Society, are now translating my work into English.
[Q-108] To seek a Pure Land Rebirth at the time of dying, one has to chant the name of Amitabha, as well as visualize the image of Amitabha. I believe it would be more direct for students of the True Buddha School to visualize the Grand Master. Would it be better for us to chant the Guru`s Heart Mantra instead of Amitabha for a Guided Buddhahood?
[A] You may do so. Chanting the Guru`s Heart Mantra or visualizing the Grand Master can lead you to rebirth. You may also chant Amitabha or visualize Amitabha, since both are within the realm of Sukhavati. There is an intimate and inseparable relationship between Amitabha and Padmakumara. So, you may do either one of the practices. [audience applause]
Grand Master: We have at long last come to the final question. [audience laughter and applause]
Om Mani Padme Hum.
An Overview of the Buddhadharma Day 8
A Question and Answer Session with Living Buddha Lian-sheng at Rainbow Villa, May 12, 1993
Translated by Janny Chow