< On Apr. 16, 2017, at Fuyu Temple in Hsinchu, Taiwan, Dharma King Lian-sheng Sheng-yen Lu delivered a discourse at a fire ceremony dedicated to White Tara.>
This year's dharma ceremony in Hsinchu, Taiwan is extraordinary, but the weather is too hot. Fortunately, there is air conditioning inside the ceremonial hall. Unfortunately, the attendees outside have to deal with the heat in the tent and also have to watch the ceremony live on a wall-mounted television screen. Moreover, the weather is especially hot at high noon as well as 2:00-3:00 pm. It's even more pronounced inside the tent where heat is radiating from both the ceiling and the ground. Even the wind is blowing hot air. It's quite grueling. Personally, I am afraid of hot weather. Everybody knows I normally come back to Taiwan when it's winter in the United States. When it's summer in Taiwan, I return to the United States. Summer in the United States is equivalent to winter in Taiwan. I am not fond of summer heat waves. Empathetically speaking, the disciples in the tents outside are putting up with a lot of heat, so should I speak at length? Or should I be concise? If I speak at length, the disciples outside will have to deal with the heat for a longer time. If I keep it short, I may not be able to thoroughly elaborate. Thanks to all the disciples in the tents outside. Thanks to all of you. I've come to Hsinchu for the purpose of holding this dharma ceremony and this is the first time I've been to Hsinchu this year.
As this ceremony is sponsored by Fuyu Temple, I paid homage at the temple. Quite unexpectedly, the City God of Hsinchu also came to Fuyu Temple. I joined my palms to pay homage to him. The Hsinchu City God told me he wanted to ''file a complaint.'' The City God said there was a TBS master who often came to Hsinchu to conduct ceremonies. This master falsely exploited the City God's name each time she held a ceremony. In what way was the City God's name exploited? The master falsely stated, ''If large numbers of people attend the ceremony with primary supplicants among them, the Hsinchu City God will benefit from the ceremony and be promoted to a higher spiritual echelon, even as far up as the buddha realm. As a result the Hsinchu City God may be promoted to a bodhisattva or even a buddha.'' The Hsinchu City God denounced the master saying, ''This master's claims are complete nonsense and total rubbish.''
For the purpose of shaking down sentient beings for more money, this master (XX) exploited the Hsinchu City God's name by claiming the City God's spiritual attainment would advance as a result of how many people registered for a dharma ceremony. Although Master Lianzhen broke all ties with XX and stopped her from coming to Hsinchu to perform dharma ceremonies, she continued to misuse the name of the Hsinchu City God by claiming ''The Hsinchu City God was angered by Master Lianzhen's refusal to let me perform dharma ceremonies in Hsinchu. Therefore the City God will terminate Master Lianzhen's life within three months.'' Where is Master Lianzhen? There you are. Did the Hsinchu City God terminate your life? (No) XX claimed that Master Lianzhen's life would be terminated by the Hsinchu City God within three months, but obviously it wasn't. The Hsinchu City God told me, ''The foolish, nonsensical claims made by XX are nothing but a hoax, hocus-pocus and a fraud.'' The Hsinchu City God is still here as usual. His spiritual attainment has not advanced and he is still on duty as the City God of Hsinchu.
XX has been running her scams all over the place. It's not surprising how many fraud syndicates there are because con artists are active even within religious organizations. XX tried to intimidate Master Lianzhen by claiming the Hsinchu City God would terminate Master Lianzhen's life in three months if Master Lianzhen did not invite XX to preside over a dharma ceremony in Hsinchu. Around this time, an incident occurred while Master Lianzhen was meditating. A force entered his brain that ordered him to stand up and slam his head into the wall or jump off the building. Master Lianzhen was frightened at having such an impulse. He immediately invoked the Root Guru atop his crown. The moment the Root Guru was atop his crown, the outside force in his brain was expelled.
Look, even today in Hsinchu I'm hearing ''Hsinchu stories.'' Wherever I go, I always hear all kinds of stories concerning XX. It's been too many stories about her. XX claimed the Earth Mother posted a note on her face saying ''You have the final say.'' In other words, XX claimed Earth Mother decreed XX has the final say.
Does anyone dare claim ''I have the final say?'' Neither President Trump nor Kim Jong-un has the ''final say.'' Right? Not to mention numerous others. Even an elected president of a nation doesn't have the ''final say'' because the legislature can still veto the president's decisions. Otherwise, Park Geun-hye wouldn't be in the situation she is in, and neither would Chen Shui-bian. Therefore, I would add three words to the end of Earth Mother's note: You have the final say ''is a lie.'' Think about it. Although Grandmaster has five million disciples, he still doesn't have ''final say.''
We are a religious organization. We must adhere to the precepts instructed by the Buddha. The True Buddha School (TBS) must also follow its internal code of regulations. A family has its rules. A country has its laws and within the boundaries of a country we must follow the laws of the country. In Vajrayana, we have Fourteen Root Tantric Precepts and Fifty Stanzas of Guru Devotion. There are even more standards Buddhists must follow. At the very least, Buddhists must abide by the Five Precepts; no killing, stealing, sexual misconduct, lying, or intoxication. Padmasambhava emphasized the importance of ''honoring the guru, treasuring the dharma and practicing diligently.'' These three principles embody his personal expectations for the future development of Vajrayana Buddhism and are his personal code of precepts.
As Grandmaster, I must not speak carelessly or without restraint. I am obligated to tell the truth. Do you agree? (Yes). TBS absolutely must not become a criminal enterprise predicated on committing fraud for fame, money or sex. This would be totally unacceptable. This is our own code of precepts. I am saying this seriously. If one violates the precepts, one must sincerely and wholeheartedly repent. After repentance one must not violate the precepts again. From the point of repentance on, one must practice in accordance with the dharma. In this way, one's cultivation will progress to successful accomplishment. One must adhere to the precepts because a religious school without a code of precepts is nothing but a fraud ring. We must abide by the precepts.
Grandmaster always abides by the precepts. Grandmaster would never ask anyone for money. By asking for money, I would violate the precepts and would be condemned to hell. There is an extremely important precept in Buddhism which I have previously mentioned: if one aspires to buddhahood one must not be greedy. One must not succumb to greed.
As you know, Buddhism identifies these three poisons: greed, anger and ignorance, so why has Grandmaster only emphasized greed? How to stop greed? When one fails to obtain what one desires, anger prevails. Anger is caused by greed. Ignorance is caused by greed as well. Therefore, greed is the essential point. Everyone should bear in mind that to attain accomplishment in cultivation, one must first subdue greed. The words of encouragement I gave at Hsinchu are one must stop being greedy. One must take it upon oneself to put a stop to one's greediness.
I am telling everyone worldly accomplishment is not accomplishment. One could own hundreds of luxurious mansions or score upon score of expensive automobiles, or be the tycoon of tycoons, but in the end it all comes to zero. In the ordinary world there is no so-called ''accomplishment.'' In our school we seek supramundane accomplishment. Attaining to the state of an arhat, a bodhisattva, a shravaka, or a tathagata is considered true and genuine accomplishment.
A joke. The wife of a couple asks, ''Why is it that after we're married I no longer receive any gifts from you?'' The husband replies, ''Have you seen a fish that continues to be fed more bait after being pulled out of the water?'' The husband ends up beaten by the wife. The daughter says, ''Dad, you caught a crocodile not a fish.''
As Buddhists, we must not under any circumstances worship ghosts. If one worships ghosts, one will become a ghost. When one goes fishing, one wants to catch a real fish not a crocodile. If one worshipped ghosts at XX temple, one would soon become a ghost, right?
Back to the main subject. White Tara wants me to explain the main practice of her dharma. To invoke White Tara from the void, one first visualizes a ''bang'' syllable. Bang! A white lotus transforms from ''bang. '' In the center of the white lotus appearing in space is a sun disc and a moon disc. A ''dang'' syllable appears in the center of the lotus. The ''dang'' syllable revolves and transforms into White Tara.
White Tara now appears. She is white, wears a crown, and is dressed in a celestial garment with a multi-layered skirt. Adorned with necklaces made of jade and pearls, she looks magnificent. With her right hand facing out and pointing down she forms the Wish-fulfilling Mudra. ''Fulfilling wishes'' means ''I will bestow on you whatever you desire.'' While forming the Lotus-holding Mudra, her left hand holds three lotuses, utpalas. One lotus is a bud, one is blossoming, and one is fully blossomed. An utpala is a lotus. She is in celestial garments and a multi-layered skirt. Her skin is extraordinarily white. With the appearance of 16-year-old girl she is incomparably beautiful. This is how White Tara is depicted.
Do you see how she is depicted in the thangka? Her skin is exceptionally fine, delicate, and white. A girl at sixteen is the most beautiful. In India and Nepal, a sixteen-year-old girl is considered fully mature; whereas in Taiwan a girl isn't considered fully mature until the age of eighteen. In India and Tibet, girls mature earlier. Sixteen is considered the age of maturity. Goddesses are usually depicted as sixteen years old.
In addition to three eyes on her face, she has an eye in the palm of each hand and on the sole of each foot. Hence, she is known as Seven-eyed Buddha Mother. The Seven-eyed Buddha Mother is also called Light Bestowing Buddha Mother. Why is she called Light Bestowing Buddha Mother? Because she bestows brilliant light.
I will now discuss practices for improving health, so everybody pay close attention! I am going to teach everyone some methods for improving health and wellbeing. Concerning the four syllables Za, Hum, Ban, and Huo, the first syllable, Za, invokes a deity appearing in the void. The second syllable, Hum, invokes the deity appearing in front of one's eyes. The third syllable, Ban, invokes the deity positioning atop one's crown. The fourth syllable, Huo, entails merging as one with the deity. The purpose of reciting ''Za, Hum, Ban, Huo'' is to invoke the principal deity to enter into one's body. However, in this practice, one only needs to recite up to the third syllable, that is, up to White Tara being atop one's crown.
Speaking of ''atop one's crown,'' when cultivating Guru Yoga, one visualizes the Root Guru sitting atop the crown of one's head. XX instructs everyone to visualize XX sitting atop their crown. She says, ''Visualize me [XX] atop your crown.'' This isn't appropriate. After all, who has one taken refuge in? It's the person one has taken refuge in that one visualizes atop one's crown. If one has taken refuge in XX, visualizing XX atop one's crown would be appropriate. If one has taken refuge in Grandmaster, one should visualize Grandmaster atop one's crown.
When White Tara is sitting atop one's crown, one should remember that there is a stem in the center of the lotus. While one is in an upright meditation posture, from the crown chakra down to the root chakra is called the central channel. At this time, the stem of the lotus enters through one's crown chakra and into the brain while White Tara is atop one's crown. Can you visualize it? The lotus stem enters through one's crown chakra which is the topmost point of the central channel located four finger widths back from one's hairline. The stem of the lotus inserts through the crown chakra at the top of the central channel. You can visualize this, can't you? (yes)
Now it's time to begin. Begin what? To begin visualizing White Tara's white body as nectar. This nectar is dharma milk and a dharma medicinal elixir that cures illness. One may ask a newborn baby ''What do you want to eat?'' The baby would say, ''I want nei-nei (milk).'' This is dharma elixir! White Tara's entire body is milk-white dharma elixir! This dharma elixir comes from the void and is never exhausted. Her body is filled with void-like dharma milk. One may visualize this white dharma elixir dripping slowly from the stem of the lotus flower into the brain, cooling and refreshing one's brain. Visualize the white dharma elixir dripping slowly and continuously, drop by drop.
One sits and visualizes dharma elixir constantly dripping into one's body. When the dharma elixir fills the brain, one experiences a refreshing coolness in one's brain. When the dharma elixir reaches the shoulders, one's shoulder pain is eradicated. As the dharma elixir reaches the fingers, the numbness in one's fingers vanishes. When the dharma elixir reaches the stomach, one's stomach will become very healthy. When the dharma elixir reaches the lungs, one's lungs will become white and very clean.
What's most important is that White Tara herself is medicine and dharma elixir. As the dharma elixir reaches one's intestines, one's intestines are cleansed. The heart, liver, spleen, lungs, kidneys, all the internal organs and the whole body become white as far down as one's toes. As the dharma elixir saturates one's entire body, one's body becomes completely white and one instantly becomes White Tara. While meditating, one transforms into White Tara.
White Tara is youthful, vigorous and brimming with health. She is able to bestow longevity, which means health, a healthy longevity. Generally speaking, our health declines with age. Normally, longevity and health do not go hand in hand. In buddhadharma, however, health and longevity can go hand in hand. Can you visualize like this? (Yes).
One visualizes the whiteness of White Tara as white dharma medicine, the medicine of the tathagata. If one's eyes are painful, one may guide the white dharma elixir into one's eyes. Not only will one's cataracts not worsen, they will completely vanish. This is also true for glaucoma. Cataracts and glaucoma will both be eliminated and one's eyes will not only feel cool and refreshed but will also be pure and clear. When the dharma elixir reaches one's ears, hearing impediments will vanish. When the dharma elixir reaches one's nose, sinusitis will clear up. When the dharma elixir reaches one's mouth, foul breath will be gone. Yellowing of the teeth will stop and one's teeth will be whitened. Toothaches and periodontal disease will cease to exist. Various dental problems will vanish.
One visualizes in this way. If one has inflammation in one's throat, when the dharma elixir reaches one's throat, one will feel coolness in the throat and inflammation will vanish. When the dharma elixir reaches one's shoulders, the fifty-year-old shoulder symptom will be eradicated. When the dharma elixir reaches one's lower back, the fifty-year-old lower back symptoms will be eliminated. When the dharma elixir reaches one's knees, one's arthritis will be gone. When the dharma elixir reaches one's toes, all numbness in one's toes will vanish. When the dharma elixir reaches one's heart, liver, spleen, lungs and kidneys, these organs will become healthy. Wherever the dharma elixir flows in one's body, one's cancerous tissues and tumors will gradually shrink and be eliminated. One should visualize in this manner on a daily basis.
This is the White Tara Practice taught by my guru. I was taught exactly this way. On a daily basis one should meditate as follows: visualize one's whole body transforming into white color, into White Tara, who then enters one's heart. If one visualizes this and enters into meditation instantly with the mind absorbed in tranquility, one's diseases will be eliminated.
Another deity for healing illness is Mahottara. Our translator, Hanifa, told me yesterday that her friend participated in a Mahottara ceremony in Taiwan sponsored by Master Lianyue. Hanifa's friend experienced severe eye pressure, a case of glaucoma. Her friend had visited numerous ophthalmologists but to no avail. Later, Hanifa's friend participated in the Mahottara ceremony. Following Grand Master's instruction, while listening to the deity's mantra, she placed her hands on her eyes. After returning home from the ceremony, she suddenly realized that the long-uncured glaucoma had disappeared. Exactly how long did her conventional medical treatment last? (not sure, but it had been for a while.) Having been afflicted with glaucoma for quite some time and considered incurable by her ophthalmologist, after returning home from the Mahottara Ceremony she discovered that her eye pressure was suddenly gone. Later, at the hospital, she had her eyes examined. The examination confirmed that her glaucoma was cured. Hanifa's friend, who had undergone conventional treatment for glaucoma for an extended period but to no avail, was now cured with just one mantra, ''Om。bie-zha。zhuo-da。Ma-ha-seh。xi-li。he-ru-ka。hum-pei。''
Upon hearing the Mahottara mantra she placed her hands on her pressurized eyes. By the time she returned home from the ceremony, the pressure in her eyes eyes had vanished and so had her glaucoma. People said to her, ''Strange! How did this pressure in your eyes suddenly disappear?'' All Hanifa's friend could say was that she attended a Mahottara ceremony and her eyes were back to normal by the time she returned home from the ceremony.
Actually, among the participants in the Mahottara ceremony, numerous miracles transpired as a result of reciting the Mahottara mantra. For instance, one person's finger could not flex or bend due to an accident and subsequent surgery. This person's hand, which had been fixed in one position, is now completely flexible. By coincidence this person happens to be here. Where are you? Please stand up and let us take a look at you. Are you here? There she is, wearing white. Her presence at this ceremony must be due to a revelation given by Mahottara at the last Mahottara Ceremony she attended. She said she will definitely attend Grandmaster's dharma ceremonies!
Today's discourse concerns White Tara, so I want to talk mainly about White Tara. To visualize White Tara atop one's crown, one visualizes a ''bang'' syllable transforming into a white lotus and a ''dang'' syllable transforming into White Tara. Recite Za, Hum, Ban, then visualize White Tara sitting atop one's crown. The stem of the lotus now goes through one's crown chakra and drop by drop, this nectar, this white elixir, this white dharma medicine, drips down the stem to wherever one's disease is located. If one has heart disease, the elixir drips into one's heart. One visualizes the elixir going into one's heart and circulating throughout one's body. Visualize the elixir dripping to wherever one's disease is located, be it the heart, liver, spleen, lungs, or kidneys. Each time one performs this visualization, one recites White Tara's mantra, ''Om。da-lie。dou-da-lie。dou-lie。 so-ha。om。bie-zha。gu-ru。ye。so-ha.'' Recite this mantra while visualizing White Tara atop your crown and white elixir flowing to your diseased area. One's skin color then completely transforms to white. Wherever your disease is, direct the elixir to that area. This is the White Tara health and wellness improvement practice.
Let me tell you this. One must persevere in one's practice. One must be persistent in whatever practice one undertakes. Today, you have acquired this sadhana. For heaven's sakes! It's worth millions of dollars! My guru, Thubten Dargye, transmitted this practice to me. At the outset of our relationship, White Tara paid Thubten Dargye a visit while he was sleeping and asked him to go to Taiwan to find a person by the last name of ''Luo.'' Upon receiving White Tara's instructions, Guru Thubten Dargye packed his bags and came to Taiwan to look for a person by the name of ''Luo.''
He searched for this person for a long while. Despite Master Thubten Dargye having disciples in Taiwan, some who had even established their own cultivation venues, he could not find this person named ''Luo.'' Having gotten nowhere in his search, he returned to Hong Kong. One night, in his sleep, White Tara once again visited him in a dream and told him that, although he had not found ''Luo,'' this person ''Luo'' was already coming to visit him.
Upon finally meeting Grandmaster, Guru Thubten Dargye asked, ''Your last name is 'Lu' not 'Luo.' Why would White Tara tell me your last name is 'Luo'?'' Grandmaster replied, ''It's because I am Taiwanese!'' I was born in Jiayi. Later, I moved to Kaohsiung where I lived for 19 years. I then lived in Taichung for another 19 years. When I was 38 years old I immigrated to Seattle, USA. The Taiwanese pronunciation of ''Lu'' is ''Luo.'' I am Taiwanese, so White Tara wanted Guru Thubten Dargye to find a person named ''Luo.'' As a result, Thubten Dargye searched extensively but couldn't find such a person even though he had quite a few disciples in Taiwan. He finally flew back to Hong Kong. After he returned, White Tara told him ''The disciple named 'Luo' is already coming to see you.'' When I paid him a visit, White Tara indicated to him ''This disciple is the one!''
Someone asked a woman about her opinion as to what she and her husband had in common after living together for over 20 years. The woman pondered on this question for a good while then replied, ''The only thing we have in common is that we married on the same day, month and year.'' Our TBS disciples also have something in common: they all honor the guru, treasure the dharma, and practice diligently. Those disciples who do not honor the guru, do not treasure the dharma, and do not practice diligently can go their own way! Feel free to leave anytime! No need to quarrel at all!
Here is another joke. While we were at a restaurant, a waiter brought an empty box to temporarily hold every customer's cell phone so they would not be too preoccupied with their cell phones and miss out on each other's companionship at the table. We thought the restaurant was being extra kind and considerate to the customers until we were ready to pay the bill. We then found out that the person who collected our cell phones was not associated with the restaurant at all. So, everyone needs to be cautious! Every disciple needs to be vigilant. Do not fall victim to heresy. Under no circumstances should one just naively believe whatever other people say. One must always be on the alert. If one keeps on the right path while maintaining right mind and right conduct, one will be able to discern the truth. If not, one will be easily deceived. Sweet words and flattery will throw one off the right path. Everybody must be wary of this pitfall.
TBS has many dharma protectors! For example, Marici Bodhisattva signed a pact to protect TBS. Mahabala is another dharma protector with whom we have a contract. All the Vidyarajas are our dharma protectors. Among our dharma protectors there are no ''ghost ringleaders.'' Under no circumstances should one seek protection by worshipping the Five Ghost Ringleaders.
Another joke, a wife says to her husband, ''I just tried on the wedding gown from ten years ago and it fits me perfectly. I'm thrilled!.'' The husband says, ''Haven't you forgotten that when we got married, you were already nine months pregnant?'' This was a marriage necessitated by an unintended pregnancy. Recently, among our dance troupe, all the young dancers have gotten married, so as I mentioned the other day, the dance troupe can now be called the Senior Ladies Dance Troupe. It was originally the Sunshine Dance Troupe and as sunny as high noon. Now that the young ladies have gotten married there are just a few senior ladies left to ''rock out.'' We should probably rename the dance troupe the Sunset Dance Troupe. I've heard that the group is recruiting new members. Whether ''really hot'' or ''not so much'' all are welcome to join the Sunshine Dance Troupe and turn it into true sunshine. The Sunshine Dance Troupe is undertaking all tonight's entertainment, so everyone take notice whether it's the Sunshine Dance Troupe or the Sunset Dance Troupe.
Actually, the elderly need to be taken care of. We should all sympathize with the elderly. Our society is aging because life expectancy is increasing and no one is willing to have children. The trend is towards a society with fewer children. The younger generation is dwindling. What can we do? The government must encourage the younger generation to have two children per family. Just one child would also be fine. Two would be adequate, three would be plentiful, and four would be really gratifying. The more the better so the nation may flourish and be lively. Encouraging people to get married and have children is an important issue.
Also, as everyone knows, each and every person will get old. Aging is inseparable from illness. Because Illness follows aging, the elderly will need someone to take care of them. While taking care of the elderly, one must also listen to their nagging and complaining. Nagging is not really a good thing but they have to tell their life story and make it known to everyone around them. Having a senior at home is like having a jewel in one's household. In addition to providing companionship, activities, and recreation for the elderly, one must also listen attentively to them. For this purpose TBS will build a nursing home for the elderly. We will also provide a kindergarten for younger children. We will have a nursing home for the elderly as well as a kindergarten for children. We will take good care of them while ensuring their dignity. Long ago in India, there was a Catholic nun named Saint Teresa. She believed everyone was a god and took care of everyone as if they were God. Her motto was ''Take care of each and every person as if they were God.'' We, as Buddhists, must take care of the elderly as if they were buddhas and bodhisattvas. This attitude has to be adopted from the outset through education. The younger generation is not willing to serve the elderly. There is an adage which says, ''As you are not willing to take care of me now, likewise no one will take care of you in the future. '' It's as simple as that! You will also get old!
When going through four gates, Shakyamuni Buddha saw the stages of birth, aging, sickness, and death. He saw that being born is hardship, getting old is hardship, being sick is hardship, and dying is hardship. Thus, we must help the elderly, whether burdened with suffering, afflicted with hardship, or deprived of dignity, regain their self-respect. We must eliminate their hardships and provide them with joy and happiness spiritually. Everyone should do this but Buddhists should live this ideal even moreso. In the future we will take care of the elderly.
One night, a boy who was terrified of the dark was told by his mother to go to the outer gate of their home to fetch a broomstick. The boy said to his mom, ''Mom, I am afraid to go out, it's too dark.'' His mother replied, ''Don't be afraid, bodhisattva is there and will protect you.'' The boy then asked his mother, ''Are you sure bodhisattva is outside?'' His mother replied, ''Of course, bodhisattva is omnipresent. A bodhisattva will appear whenever one needs help.'' So the boy pondered a little then slowly walked towards the gate and shouted ''Bodhisattva, are you outside? Can you help me by bringing the broomstick to me?''
I'm telling you that you are a bodhisattva yourself! You must want to be a bodhisattva. The essence of Buddhism is to be a bodhisattva, a buddha, a pratyekabuddha, an arhat. If one doesn't learn this and instead learns something different from this, then one's learning is mistaken. Who will be a bodhisattva? I am a bodhisattva, you are a bodhisattva, and other people are also bodhisattvas. Then, as everyone becomes bodhisattvas with hearts full of peace, the whole society will become peaceful because a bodhisattva is gentle and kindhearted.
What does White Tara bestow upon one? A good heart. Kindheartedness. This is what White Tara wants to bestow on everyone. If one has a kind heart, one will receive protection from buddhas. As long as one is softhearted, the dharma elixir of the buddhas, tathagatas and White Tara will flow into one's body and one's body will heal. This is spiritual union. From this spiritual union, one's sickness will be healed.
Today we have discussed White Tara, but we have not covered the sadhana procedure. In studying Vajrayana, we know there is preliminary practice, visualization, mantra recitation, and entering into samadhi. There is also the completion practice and dedication of merit. There are seven steps in the preliminary practice including Mandala Offering, Fourfold Refuge, Four Immeasurable Vows, and Repentance. Besides the preliminary practice, there are personal prayers and wishes, the vows of White Tara, and the White Tara Praise Verse near the end of the sadhana. There is also Dedication of Merit and Emerging from Samadhi. What I have just described are the main elements of the sadhana. The complete White Tara sadhana is available in book form and via computer. The only addition that needs to be made is the health practice.
One more joke. Our house entrance door is made of iron. A caucasian tenant returned home but however hard he tried, he couldn't open the door. He complained to the landlady upstairs: ''Why I am not able to open your 'gang men' [steel door]? '' [the phonetics of ''steel door'' in Chinese can also mean ''anus.''] This misunderstanding was due to the Caucasian tenant's inability to distinguish between steel and iron. Maybe because of the language gap they easily confuse steel and iron. We differentiate phonetically between steel and iron. The tenant has mistaken iron for steel. Of course he's not able to open the door.
''Grandmaster, why do you tell so many jokes today?'' I can't help it. Don't you know? Grandmaster must satisfy the demands of multitudes of sentient beings. Yesterday, when on stage giving a dharma discourse, I did not tell any jokes until the very end. A little kid nearby listening to me kept commenting, ''Why isn't Grandmaster telling jokes? He keeps talking about things I can't understand.'' She comes here just to listen to my jokes, right? Who was that little kid? She is the daughter of Malaysian Dato Mr. Lee Haian. Her name is Lee Qi. Lee Qi, where are you? Where? Didn't you ask why Grandmaster didn't tell any jokes yesterday? The jokes I told today are dedicated to you. Small children enjoy Grandmaster's jokes. There is a Buddhist flavor to the jokes and there are jokes in Buddhism. Do you realize? News is everywhere between heaven and earth; within news there is heaven and earth; within heaven and earth there is news.
On the steep slope of a mountain trail, a girl flags down a taxi for a ride. The taxi driver asks the girl to show him the life line on her palm, so the girl stretches out her hand to the driver. Shortly after viewing her palm, the taxi driver asks her to get on board. The girl then asks what the life line on her palm has to do with riding a taxi cab? The cab driver answers that it's because he has bad brakes. [a longer life line assures the taxi driver that they will survive the consequence of failed brakes.]
Although one's life line has its significance, as Buddhists we should bear in mind that ''one's fate is in one's own hands, not in heaven's.'' In Buddhism, there are six kinds of supernatural power. These powers include the power to discern one's lifetimes. Buddha spoke of this power when he discoursed the Sutra of Karma Spanning Three Lifetimes. By this power one can discern karma spanning three lifetimes; past, present and future. As a Buddhist, one should cherish each moment. Every day of living is of utmost importance. When one has lived through today and reached tomorrow, tomorrow becomes of utmost importance, because what was once ''today'' is now the past. If one wants to succeed in cultivation, one must pay attention to every moment of the present day. One must be serious, perfect, and kind throughout the day.
Therefore, I want to teach everybody to ''live a day, be joyful a day; live a day, practice a day; live a day, be grateful a day.'' This is the principle Grandmaster lives by. Shakyamuni Buddha taught that by cherishing the here and now, one may change one's destiny. Fate is in one's own hands, not in heaven's hands. ''Hold your present life dear.'' Regardless what the future may bring, one should complete one's daily affairs perfectly. The principle is to successfully accomplish one's affairs day by day.
''My fate is in my hands not in the hands of heaven.'' Hearing a fortune teller talk about the retribution of three lifetimes, one may be terribly frightened because the fortuneteller may well be bluffing. Most street fortune tellers practice deception. They may say ''You must change your destiny!'' Where does one go about changing one's destiny? In Taipei, there's a place that specializes in changing destiny. This place is called Taipei Bus Station.
Oh, I have already talked that long? Remember, don't arbitrarily accept claims some person makes about ''karma of three lifetimes.'' Why not? One must remember the Sutra of Karma Spanning Three Lifetimes. In this sutra, Buddha states that the present moment, living here and now, is of paramount importance. The past is not important because the past is gone and will never return, whereas the future hasn't arrived yet. Because you are alive today, it is today that is of paramount importance. A disciple of Buddhism should have this mindset. If one comes across a con artist who talks about ''karma of three lifetimes,'' and says one's past life was such and such, one's present life is such and such, one's future life will be this or that, and ''one must take action to change one's fate'' while they offer to perform a fire ceremony or some ritual on one's behalf to improve one's fate at one's own expense, one should be highly skeptical.
Cultivation is of most importance. One must not naively believe whatever other people say. One must cultivate oneself. That expert con artist XX is still hoaxing and lying right up to this day. XX is ripping people off by intimidation under the slogan ''karma of three lifetimes.'' The Buddha never taught this! The Buddha's teaching is to hold dear the here and now. Grandmaster also teaches his disciples to hold dear every living moment. Grandmaster says, ''Live a day, be joyful a day; live a day, practice a day; live a day, be grateful a day.''
Om Mani Padme Hum.
White Tara Health and Longevity Sadhana
An empowerment must be received from Living Buddha Lian-sheng or an authorized True Buddha School master before engaging in this particular sadhana.
Translated by TBTTs (This translation excludes the guru homage and greeting portion)
Translator: Ric C
Editors: Henry Wolf and DJ Chang