(Given at Rainbow Temple, North Bend, Washington, USA on June 30, 2013 after the Amoghasiddhi Fire Offering. Translated and edited by Janny Chow, Proofread by Christine Chan)
With reverence, we first pay homage to Reverend Liaoming, His Eminence Sakya Zhengkong Rinpoche, His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa, Vajra Acharya Thubten Dargye, the Three Jewels at the shrine, and Amoghasiddhi Buddha, the deity of today's homa.
Shimu, masters, dharma instructors, reverends, dharma lecturers, dharma assistants, directors of local chapters, fellow school members, students from across the internet, and the guests of honor today: Mrs. Ambassador Daniel Liao dharma sister Judy, True Buddha Foundation's accountant dharma sister Teresa and husband, dharma sister Xue Wang Shumei, wife of Mr. Xue Shenghua, the chairman of the board of Overseas Credit Guarantee Fund of OCAC, dharma sister Xu Yaqi, producer of the Taiwan CTI television program Light the Lamp in Your Heart, sleep specialist Dr Zhang Dewei and his mother dharma sister Yuan Chunling, and Dr. Zhuang Junyao. Greetings to everyone! How is everyone?
Today we offered a homa to Amoghasiddhi Buddha. Not too many people are familiar with this buddha, but he is very important. How important? Just take a look at his placement on the human body. Each of the five chakras (in the subtle energy body)
is associated with a buddha and a heruka. Vairocana Buddha of the center is located at the brow-point chakra, Amitabha of the west at the throat chakra, Akshobhya Buddha of the east at the heart chakra, Ratnasambhava Buddha of the south at the navel chakra, and Amoghasiddhi Buddha of the north is at the secret chakra. Hence, Amoghasiddhi Buddha is very important. Amoghasiddhi represents All-accomplishing Wisdom, or the Wisdom of Perfected Action. He is the head of the karma family. What is the karma family? In Tantrayana, a ritual can be performed for one of four specific intents: purification, enhancement, magnetization, and subjugation. Amoghasiddhi oversees rituals carried out with the four specific intents and with help from Amoghasiddhi, your wish will be fruitful.
Master Lianyin said to me, ''There are not many primary supplicants today.'' I thought to myself, ''Really? That shouldn't be!'' There are at least two very important deities, one buddha and one bodhisattva, whom one should beseech if one has a wish. They are Amoghasiddhi Buddha, the head of the karma family, and Amoghapasa, an emanation of Avalokitesvara in the lotus family. Their names contain ''amogha'' which means fruitful or fulfilled. If you pray to either of them, your wish will bear fruit. Even if your entire wish is not actualized, at least half of it will be, which is not bad at all! Although Amogasiddhi Buddha is listed after Vairocana, Amitabha, Akshobhya, Ratnasambhava among the Five Dhyani Buddhas, he is the head of the karma family including all actions and rituals. As a primary supplicant, your wish will be fulfilled.
His most important or primary color is green. If you do not wear green, wear blue. If you have no blue either, wear gold. Gold is a universal color for all deities. You may also wear black since north is associated with water and the color black. At the deepest part of the ocean, the water is black; it becomes blue when it moves away from black, and it becomes green when moving away from blue.
I once swam in a black ocean, and it was not the Black Sea. It was in Mexico, and our boat left from the port of Puerto Vallarta. After sailing far out into the ocean, we came to an oceanic trench. People who could swim were invited to go down to swim and each was tossed a life buoy. When it was my turn, I waved my hand and declined it. I was a very good swimmer and did not need any buoy. As I was swimming in that deep trench, a sudden burst of wind created some huge waves. Even the boat was rocking badly. At that moment, I realized there were no longer any staff around on the boat to toss me a life buoy, so I swam hastily back to the boat, and tried to climb onto the ladder on its side. But the boat rocked, and I was pushed away from the ladder. I had to swim back to grab onto the ladder again. And again, I was pushed away by a wave. After several attempts, I finally succeeded in grabbing the ladder and climbing up. When I got back onto the boat, my legs and arms turned to jelly, as if all strength had been sucked out of me. We sometimes cannot be too confident. Although the ocean was pretty calm initially, in a brief moment, things changed.
On another occasion, I was visiting Kenting National Park in Taiwan. A sign on the beach read: BIG WAVES, SWIMMING PROHIBITED. That day, there was no one else at the beach except our group. Lao Da (Master Lianhuo) and Lao Er (Master Lianshi) were there as well. I was very bold since I had been swimming since childhood. Plop! I jumped into the water. A few including Zhang Huangming and Zheng Yuxin also walked into the water with me. I swam the farthest out but then I had trouble coming back. I was bold because I could swim and knew all styles - freestyle, breaststroke, backstroke, butterfly, and even the dog paddle - so what was there to be afraid of? Once I started swimming, I swam far out as the waves pushed me. The other two played in the water near the shore. After a while, I saw that I was pretty far out and decided to swim back. About two hundred meters from the shore, I had trouble swimming back as waves started pulling me down. In Taiwan, those waves are known as Crazy Dog Waves. From the surface the waves push you forward, but from below they pull you down. No matter how hard I kicked my legs, it felt as if two arms were holding them down. Amituofo! It was really a critical situation. I could not scream ''Help! Help!'' because I thought I was the best swimmer among them. If I shouted for help, I would lose face. I could not call out to them, and I wanted to swim back. At one point, I was almost completely exhausted, and I thought to myself that I would definitely die and be beckoned by the Dragon King to become his son-in-law. How miserable! Losing all strength, I started sinking. My eyes remained open as I was sinking, and I saw a piece of black rope under the water. It turned out to be an anchoring rope tied at one end to a pillar on the beach. I grabbed hold of the rope under water. When the waves pushed toward the beach, I pulled myself forward desperately. As I was repeatedly dragged downward, I held tightly onto the rope. Struggling, I finally reached the shore. I had not let go of the rope the entire way. That rope saved my life. I have relayed this incident once before. When I climbed back onto the beach, I was still panting. As soon as my group saw me, I immediately acted as if nothing had happened, as if I had swum back on my own. We had a group picture taken - Zhang Huangming, Zheng Yuxin, myself, Master Lianhuo, Master Lianshi, and several others. There was also a female acquaintance by the name of Fang Guimei from the Dongshi district. She was married to the brother of the blue-robed lady Ji-o-san who had helped me open my divine-eyes. After the photograph was developed, I realized that I had almost exposed myself. My swimming trunks were filled with sand and was sagging on one side. So, one cannot be too bold even if skillful. Sometimes it is better to be a little more cautious. Like this summer, the weather has been very hot, even if you are very good in swimming, you should not be too over confident. You may not know where the water can be deep, where there may be swirls and undercurrents. So, pay attention. After these lessons, I have been swimming in swimming pools.
Today we will talk about Amoghasiddhi Buddha who is ''non-empty'' and all accomplishing. Through him, your wishes will be answered and accomplished. He is chief of the karma family and the object of supplication for conventional accomplishments. After hearing Master Lianyin say there were very few primary supplicants today, I responded, ''Amoghasiddhi Buddha is very great and wishes will be fulfilled.'' After I'd said this, everyone went to sign up and we ended up with many supplicants (audience applause). Those who are blessed and know of this one buddha will have signed up as primary supplicants. This is a most important deity. Under the shining light of Amoghasiddhi Buddha, your prayers will definitely be fulfilled.
We will continue our talks on the Nine Stages of Great Perfection. Today we will talk about Padmasambhava. Padmasambhava is one of the eight principal deities of True Buddha School. Padmasambhava is the Guru Rinpoche of Tantrayana and also the greatest lineage guru in Tibetan Buddhism. He was born at Dhanakosa Lake eight years after the nirvana of Shakyamuni Buddha. There is no sea in north India, and large lakes were called seas. There were many lotuses in the Dhanakosa Lake, and Padmasambhava was born in a lotus there. At that time, the king of Uddiyana returned from a treasure-seeking trip and received instruction from the dakini, ''A baby has been born in the Dhanakosa Lake. Take him home and raise him.'' When the king went to the lakeside, he indeed found a baby in the middle of a lotus. The king brought the baby home and gave him the name Padmasambhava, lotus-born. Padmakumaras are lotus-born. Padmasambhava is also lotus-born. I talked last time about the first Manjushrimitra who, after entering nirvana, was reborn as the latter Manjushrimitra, also in a lotus. The latter Manjushrimitra was also a Padmakumara. Later, the latter Manjushrimitra also taught Padmasambhava. Padmasambhava originated from the ''body'' of Shakyamuni Buddha, the ''speech'' of Amitabha, and the ''mind'' of Avalokitesvara. The unification of ''body, speech, and mind'' of Shakyamuni Buddha, Amitabha, and Avalokitesvara respectively gave rise to Padmasambhava. Since he was a young boy, Padmasambhava had a strong affinity with the Buddhadharma. He gave up his throne to become a monk. Who performed the tonsure rite for him? Ananda. Padmasambhava emanated from Shakyamuni Buddha, Amitabha, and Avalokitesvara, but subsequently his tonsure was carried out by Ananda.
A parallel scenario also has taken place in the modern world. You all know what happened when Grand Master turned forty-three. I once had a head of beautiful black hair which I cherished very much. Every day I looked in the mirror and combed my hair! When I had hair, I always carried a comb with me, and I would comb my hair into chic styles! But, I received instruction from the bodhisattvas: ''Take the renunciation vow at forty-three.'' My response had been, ''I don't want to be a monk. On Friday nights, I go to the tavern to drink, to the night club to dance or sing karaoke. I don't want to be a monk!'' But, that year, every time I showered, my hair would fall off in large chunks. At one point, my hair had become so scant you could count the strands. There was nothing I could do. And I was about to turn forty-three. At that time, the eminent Rev. Guoxian of Hong Kong, now elderly too, came to Seattle. He was my student and I drove him for three hours to Vancouver and back. Sanyuan (Master Yan) was with us too. Right? Rev. Guoxian had taken refuge in me. ''The tenth of the second lunar month is the best date.'' he had said. Why? ''Because Padmasambhava also had tonsure that date.'' Ananda performed the tonsure rite for Padmasambhava who had been reborn from Shakyamuni Buddha. After tonsure, brilliant lights emanated from Padmasambhava.
So, on the tenth of the second lunar month, the eminent Rev. Guoxian of Wai Chuen Monastery in Sha Tin, Hong Kong performed the tonsure rite for me (audience applause). Fo-ching was standing at that time on the second floor in the True Buddha Quarter, and she said to me, ''Dad, don't do it!'' But, it was too late. Besides, even if I had not had my hair shorn, it would have fallen off anyway. Guoxian also brought many cassocks with him, and he helped me put on a sutrayana style cassock. I looked in the mirror. I did not look very good, but not too bad either. Guoxian spoke behind me, ''Oh! You look very dignified after tonsure.'' I thought to myself, ''Well, what is done is done! After you leave, I will return to laity.'' I asked him, ''Will you visit me again after returning to Hong Kong?'' He said, ''I will come again.'' Well, I could not return to laity if he was going to visit me again, right? So, I simply had to keep it up. Later, he indeed came back several times. Of all the benefactors of Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple, he is the biggest donor. At that time, eight families had contributed twenty thousand U.S. dollars each towards the construction of the temple. The eminent Rev. Guoxian himself had contributed one hundred thousand U.S. dollars. Indeed, he is the major donor to the temple's construction. Our concerted fund-raising resulted in the purchase of the land and the construction of the temple. This was how Ling Shen Ching Tze was built. I miss him very much. When I traveled to Hong Kong, he came to ask me, ''Grand Master, you have attained enlightenment. What is it after all?'' I saw that he had the supreme wisdom root, and I whispered into his ear a remark. He replied, ''I know it then.'' Rev. Guoxian is also now an eminent enlightened monk (audience applause).
After Ananda performed the tonsure for Padmasambhava, Padmasambhava took refuge in many teachers. Some people accused Grand Master of copying sutras from the Tripitaka into my books. It goes without saying that if I read a scripture and found a choice sentence explaining the Buddhadharma, I would of course quote it in my books. Is it wrong to copy from the Tripitaka? The Tripitaka does not have any copyright. This is because Tripitaka has no authors only translators. Anyone can copy from it. Do you copy the Amitabha Sutra? The Universal Gate Chapter of the Lotus Sutra? The High King Avalokitesvara Sutra? Others have and then accused Grand Master of copying. Are we not all copying what our teachers have taught us? Even my name Sheng-yen Lu is a copy. My parents taught me to write the three characters and told me that it was my name. I copied after them. Is there any object that is not a copy? None.
Did you know Buddhadharma at birth? Let me tell you, you only knew to eat when you were born! At that time, you only knew to drink milk. We are a product of copying our environment. An essay is a hot pot made from raw vegetables, fruits, and meats in a pot! Essays are the product of many ingredients saut嶪d together. If you are a skillful chef, you will have a good essay. If you are not skillful, you will have a rotten essay. That is what it is! Do you think an essay really comes from within? Let me tell you, if you were strung upside down, you could not produce even a spit! What is copying? What we have in our mind, or written in books, sentences spoken by Shakyamuni Buddha - we transfer them onto the page. If we find the works of adepts pertinent to our essay, we may transfer them to the page. There will be addition and subtraction, just like tailoring. Cut off what needs to be cut off, add what needs to be added, and tailor your words into a piece of good clothing that fits you. Same fabrics and materials are given to you, and you will have to tailor and integrate them into a good essay. This then becomes your creation. You have to have creativity to create something new from raw materials. However, in Buddhadharma, if you truly create something new, you may be accused of being a heretic. Others will say, ''The Buddha did not say that. You came up with that yourself.'' You will be reprimanded as a heretic if you try to be too creative. Hence, one cannot create the Buddhadharma. One must follow completely the words spoken by Shakyamuni Buddha.
Hence, what is copying? Are you not a copy of the genetic materials from your father and mother? Did you not copy your mother tongue from your parents? Did you not copy your teachers at school, your parents at home, and the society at large? Society is a big vat of all kinds of stains. All habits have been copied from this big vat. Is anyone immune from this? Everything you eat, drink, and excrete is a copy of something else. Just give this some thought. What do you know at the time of birth? Everything you have is copied from somewhere else. Good, end of explanation. Do you think the words published in my books are copied from elsewhere? Of course, they are characters from the Chinese dictionary. That is the way it is. In the past, our Chinese teacher had asked us, ''Do you have trouble writing compositions? Don't you know all compositions are copying from here to there?'' Either you copy from me or I copy from you. There are people copying my essays now. It does not matter to me. If you extract precious teachings from my books to compile a book, that is all right. This is because all knowledge and Buddhadharma are copied. I have copied my teachers. I have learned to write those characters by copying my teachers.
Padmasambhava did not know the Buddhadharma entirely at birth. He took refuge in many teachers. His first teacher was the latter Manjushrimitra; Nagarjuna was also his teacher; Vimalamitra of the great Vima Nyingthik was also Padmasambhava's teacher. The guru he followed the longest, for twenty-five years, was Shri Singha. It was a coincidence that Shri Singha also followed the first Manjushrimitra for twenty-five years. After studying Nine Stages of Great Perfection under Shri Singha for twenty-five years, Padmasambhava integrated everything and travelled to the charnel ground to practice.
Shakyamuni Buddha practiced asceticism for six years in the snow mountain. Padmasambhava was also an ascetic. What kind of asceticism did Padmasambhava practice in the charnel ground? His dharma seat was built from the remains of corpses. Indians wrapped the corpses with white cloth, and Padmasambhava draped this white cloth over his body as clothing. His dharma implement was a staff made from human bones, like a rib or humerus with three skulls inserted, also known as the khatvanga. What did he consume as food? After people transported the corpses and deposited them in the charnel ground, they would scatter offerings such as flowers, steamed breads, curries, or naan. That became Padmasambhava's meals. He wore the cotton shrouds of the dead. He carried a dharma implement made of human bones. He meditated while sitting on top of corpses. Even today, yogis in India smear ashes from cremations to their faces and bodies. When Padmasambhava practiced at the charnel ground, he earned the approval and support of Vajrakilaya, the guardian deity of the charnel grounds. At first, Vajrakilaya challenged Padmasambhava in battle, but after being subjugated, he joined Padmasambhava's retinue. Hence, Vajrakilaya was also a wrathful emanation of Padmasambhava after he entered into the heart of the guardian deity and underwent transformation. Hayagriva was a supporter of Padmasambhava at that time as well. Hence, in Nine Stages of Great Perfection, the Khandro Nyingthig (the Heart Essence of the Dakinis) depicts these two dharma protectors by his side. Finally, Padmasambhava acquired the most perfect transcendental powers at the charnel ground.
Later, when Trisong Detsen learned of Padmasambhava's great powers, he invited him to Tibet. Tibet at the time was overrun by demons. They believed in Bonpo, also known as the Black School. The country was a mess. People worshipped rocks, trees, the sun, the moon, mountains, lakes, and things in nature even wolves. In Tibet, there were packs of wild wolves. They worshipped leopards, snakes, yaks, and all kinds of other gods. King Trisong Detsen invited Padmasambhava to Tibet to teach the correct Buddhadharma. Trisong Detsen was an emanation of Manjushri, and Padmasambhava was an emanation of the union of Shakyamuni Buddha's body, Amitabha's speech, and Avalokitesvara's mind. When the two met, it was the meeting of Manjushri and Shakyamuni as well as the meeting of a king and a dharma king. The king initially thought he was the superior. ''All of Tibet is mine. Although you are a great teacher, you should bow to me when you visit me.'' The two of them stood face to face by the side of Yarlung Tsangpo River. Who would bow first? Trisong Detsen did not want to lower his head because he felt that he was a king! The dharma king also felt that being an emanation of Shakyamuni, Amitabha, and Avalokitesvara, he could not lower his head. Finally, Padmasambhava decided, ''After all, he is my host, and I am a visitor. I will just acknowledge him first.'' So Padmasambhava joined his palms and lowered his head to pay respect to the king. But, as soon as he finished, the king's clothing caught fire and part of it charred. It was obvious who was supreme.
Padmasambhava stayed in Tibet for fifty-five years altogether. He accomplished four feats there. The first was subjugating the demons and monsters and turning them into dharma protectors of Buddhadharma. Last evening I talked about how one can become dharma vajras of True Buddha School by donating money and effort to spreading the teachings of our school. This is very important. Padmasambhava's entry to Tibet was very important. Through his tremendous miraculous powers, he subjugated demons and evil spirits. That was his greatest contribution to Tibet - transforming it into a Buddhist Tantrayana country. His second accomplishment was transmitting the key teachings to his consort Yeshe Tsogyal as well as to Trisong Detsen. His third great accomplishment was the construction of the Samye Monastery, or Ren-yun Si (in Chinese). The monastery was built in the likeness of the universe, with Mount Meru in the middle surrounded by the four large continents, eight small continents, and the seven golden fragrant oceans. The best thing about Samye Monastery was that Padmasambhava hired Vairotsana, a translator, who knew Sanskrit as well as Tibetan, to translate many Buddhist scriptures from Sanskrit into Tibetan. That was the origin of the Tibetan Buddhist scriptures. His fourth contribution was asking Yeshe Tsogyal to hide the Khandro Nyingthig - the pith instructions of the Dzogchen - in the air, bottom of lakes, and rocks in Nepal, Tibet, and Bhutan. He knew that a future king Langdarma would persecute Buddhism and Tibet would be without Buddhism for a period of several hundred years. There was a need therefore to hide these teachings until future reincarnated rinpoches, through heavenly revelations and instructions of dakinis, would locate the termas and re-introduce them. This is the fourth and greatest feat of Padmasambhava.
Padmasambhava can be described as the first lineage guru of Tibetan Buddhism. He had altogether five major consorts, twenty regular consorts, and fifty minor consorts. He lived a very long life. In the end, he rode on a sky horse supported by the Four Deva Kings and his final bidding words upon riding into the sky were, ''Make a clean break from all desires of the world. Transform the five poisons to five wisdoms. You will attain freedom then.'' The five poisons of desire, anger, delusion, envy, and pride can be transformed and employed for good use. When you revere the teacher, cherish the dharma, and actualize the practice, you will definitely attain enlightenment and realization (audience applause). This is what I want to tell you about Padmasambhava.
Let me tell a few jokes. A child complained to his mother, ''Why did you make me so fat when you gave birth to me?'' The mother replied, ''You were only six pounds when I gave birth to you. Don't blame me!'' It is not mother's fault but you have yourself to blame. Why have you become fat? Because you eat too much. It is a karmic relationship! What you have become has been affected by what you have been consuming. It is the same in Buddhadharma. Buddhadharma is also karma. You cannot blame your guru if you consume everything. Master Lianzhi, who was previously a nurse, said that at the hospital where she used to work was a sign posted: ''You are what you eat.''
''A girlfriend of fifty kilograms has the feel of bones; a girlfriend of sixty kilograms is sexy; a girlfriend of one hundred and twenty kilograms is fleshy; a girlfriend of one hundred forty kilograms reflects a relationship of love; and a girlfriend of one hundred and eighty kilograms reflects that you have a sense of humor.'' The fact that Master Huijun is so fat now has nothing to do with the True Buddha School but rather what she has been eating.
In a hospital, patients were waiting in line for a hearing test. A person intercepted a nurse and said, ''I am number thirty-three.'' The nurse replied, ''We already passed that number. Did you not hear it when we called?'' That person spoke angrily, ''I would not be here if I could.'' Mankind has many contradictions. You know fully well that this food will make you fat, yet you still eat it. This is a paradox. Do not always think about conquering others. It is more urgent to conquer yourself first.
A wife looked into the mirror and started crying, ''I am getting fatter, older, and uglier.'' Acting like a spoiled child, she cuddled up to her husband and said, ''Why don't you say something good about me to make me feel better.'' Her husband thought for a while and said, ''You still have very good vision.''
We cannot fool others when we study Buddhadharma. No matter what level you are at now, you must engage in actual practice. Your dharma power will only increase when you actually practice. This is a truth. Earlier during the homa, fa cai (black moss) was an item of offering. Why fa cai? It represents an increase in dharma power (fa li in Chinese), and everyone here receiving this empowerment will experience an increase in dharma power (audience applause). How do you make your dharma power grow? You must work hard on your actual practice.
Padmasambhava's advice to ''revere the teacher, cherish the dharma, and actualize the practice'' is a karmic statement. When you revere your guru, you will naturally cherish the dharma he transmits to you. When you practice the sadhana your guru teaches you, your dharma power will increase. Finally, you will attain enlightenment (audience applause). ''Revere the teacher, cherish the dharma, and actualize the practice'' will lead to enlightenment. If you do not revere your teacher, you will not cherish the dharma, and you will not do actual practice. Without actual practice, you will not attain fruition. This is karma.
A boy with very high IQ wanted to declare his love for a girl, and he wrote on a note the numbers: 5201314. When these numbers are read in Mandarin, they sound like ''I love you for life.'' The girl had very high IQ too, and she wrote back in a note: 520+1314X10. Wow! The boy was ecstatic: ''I love you for life, multiply that by ten.'' He was overjoyed. If you use your calculator to perform this computation, the answer is 18340, which sounds like, ''One slap to kill you.''
All right! Om Mani Padme Hum.
(Given at Rainbow Temple, North Bend, Washington, USA on June 30, 2013 after the Amoghasiddhi Fire Offering. Translated and edited by Janny Chow, Proofread by Christine Chan)