(Given at Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple, Redmond, Washington, USA on June 8, 2013 after group practice of Medicine Buddha Sadhana. 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 Yidam of tonight's group practice: Medicine Vaidurya Light Buddha, and the Three Jewels at the shrine.
Shimu, masters, dharma instructors, reverends, dharma lecturers, dharma assistants, directors of local chapters, fellow school members, students from across the internet, and our honored guests today: Mrs. Ambassador Daniel Liao dharma sister Judy, True Buddha Foundation's accountant dharma sister Teresa, TBF's legal adviser Attorney Zhou Huifang, dharma sister Xue Wang Shumei, wife of Mr. Xue Shenghua, the chairman of the board of Overseas Credit Guarantee Fund of OCAC (Overseas Chinese Affairs Council), dharma sister Xu Yaqi, producer of the Taiwan CTI television program Light the Lamp in Your Heart, and her assistant dharma sister Chen Shuyi, Dr. Lin Shuhua, Professor Yeh Shuwen of National Pingtung University of Science and Technology and her son, Mrs. Han Yuhua and dharma sister Huang Xiulin who are the presidents of the Phoenix and Seattle branches of the Global Federation of Chinese Business Women, thank you. Also, we are all honored guests, and we should applaud ourselves. In Taiwan, I would greet everyone with ''good afternoon'' in Taiwanese. Here I will greet everyone with: ''Dai ga ng an, dai ga ho! Ng goi, ng goi sai.'' (in Cantonese) Thank you for coming!
Today in our group practice, we practiced the Medicine Vaidurya Light Buddha Sadhana. This Buddha has made a very deep impression upon me. An immense upright statue of Medicine Vaidurya Light Buddha is located in South Korea. I visited this statue on a trip there, and at the time, I was sick. My brain felt as if it were about to crack open and disperse the Four Great Elements. Even putting on my shoes was a difficult chore. Simply lowering my head made me feel like I was slipping away. I have recorded this illness in my books. Because of this illness, I made a trip to Korea to visit this Medicine Buddha statue.
Korea is a Buddhist country. After Buddhism spread from India to China and Tibet, it spread to Korea, Japan, and other Southeast Asian countries. Korea is close to China, hence it quickly became influenced by Buddhist religion and culture. There are many Buddhist temples in Korea.
As soon as I saw Medicine Vaidurya Light Buddha, I performed a full prostration. From the Buddha's perspective above, I appeared like an ant below. My style of prostration was different from others and it caught his attention. On the return trip, after I got into my car and as soon as I closed my eyes, I saw Medicine Vaidurya Light Buddha very clearly. The images were vivid. Sunlight Bodhisattva, Moonlight Bodhisattva, Medicine King Bodhisattva, Medicine Superior Bodhisattva, as well as the Twelve Yaksha Generals, one by one, also manifested before me. I was thankful to the blessings from Medicine Vaidurya Light Buddha, and I knew my illness would soon be over. Very well! When one is sincere, the Buddhas will respond. This vision was vivid and left a deep impression upon me. It occurred in Shinshu, Korea where Buddhism is popular, and we had to travel far to get there. While in Korea, we also saw a Ratnasambhava pagoda which you don't see very often.
Today we practiced the Medicine Vaidurya Light Buddha Sadhana, and I am grateful to Medicine Vaidurya Light Buddha for blessing and removing all the illnesses and pains in my body (audience applause).
We will continue to discuss the origin of the Nine Stages of Great Perfection. Last time we talked about lineages. Origins are lineages. All Buddhadharma flows out of the unsurpassed, equally perfect enlightenment of the buddhas. In the beginning, the teachings of the Nine Stages of Great Perfection flowed forth from the perfect enlightenment of Samantabhadra Tathagata, the primordial Buddha, also known as Adi-Buddha in Nyingma. All buddhas share one mind. When you attain Buddhahood, you will know where other buddhas are and who is a buddha. So, when the teachings of the Nine Stages of Great Perfection flowed out of Samantabhadra Tathagata, the Five Dhyani Buddhas recognized it immediately. The Five Dhyani Buddhas are: Vairocana, Amitabha, Aksobhya, Ratnasambhava, and Amoghasiddhi. The Five Buddhas also immediately gained possession of this knowledge. Additionally, all other buddhas also knew about these teachings. What kind of lineage is this? Supreme Master Ching Hai has taught a mind-to-mind transmission method before. However, mind-to-mind transmission is not simply stamping a seal over your heart. Rather it actually means that my mind and your mind are the same. When a teaching flows from one buddha, all other buddhas also obtain this teaching. When one buddha's mind is filled with the teachings of the Nine Stages of Great Perfection, all buddhas attain this Nine Stages of Great Perfection lineage. This is known as mind-to-mind transmission. My mind is filled with your mind, and your mind is filled with mine - we share the same mind. Among buddhas, when a secret thought arises, all other buddhas share in this dharma thought.
Hence, the first transmission of the Nine Stages of Great Perfection took place among buddhas. The next transmission was passed from the Five Dhyani Buddhas to Vajrasattva at the nirmanakaya level. At the level of dharmakaya, form does not exist. Form exists at the nirmanakaya level. The Nine Stages of Great Perfection lineage started with the Primordial Buddha Samantabhadra Tathagata which was passed to the Five Dhyani Buddhas and then next to Vajrasattva. Vajrasattva as a nirmanakaya was the third to receive this lineage.
Vajrapani, an emanation of Vajrasattva, went to the deva realm and arrived at the Trayastrimsa (Thirty-three) Heaven. Among the five hundred devas residing at Trayastrimsa Heaven was one by the name of Semlhag Chen (Victorious Heart Deva).
Vajrapani then selected Semlhag Chen as the first successor to receive the lineage of the Nine Stages of Great Perfection in the deva realm. Vajrapani conferred the empowerment and teachings of the Nine Stages of Great Perfection to Semlhag Chen. This kind of lineage transmission in heaven is called ''Vidyadhara Lineage.''
What is ''Vidyadhara Lineage?'' Very simply, in the future when Maitreya Bodhisattva is born into the world and extends salvation to the sentient beings at the dragon-flower assembly, the method he uses will be that of Vidyadhara Lineage. He only needs to emit a beam of light from his heart, and this beam of light will encircle and shine upon everyone's heart, and everyone will immediately attain enlightenment and see his own nature. As long as one chants ''Namo Buddha ye,'' the light will shine upon one, and all karmic defilements will be eliminated. At the future dragon-flower-assembly, Maitreya will deliver all beings to the deva realms and pure lands through the transmission of Maitreya Vidyadhara Lineage.
Hence, at the beginning while in the deva realm, Vajrapani shone the Nine Stages of Great Perfection light on Semlhag Chen and empowered him, and Semlhag Chen attained this Great Perfection lineage. This is a very formidable light and known as the Vidyadhara Lineage. Once this light shines on one, one immediately gets a clear understanding and attains realization and enlightenment. Later, Semlhag Chen incarnated into the Oddiyana Kingdom in the human world and became a king's son called Garab Dorje. At this time, Vajrapani again came to the human world to confer empowerment on Garab Dorje. After the blessing, Garab Dorje again attained the Nine Stages of Great Perfection lineage and became the first human teacher of this lineage.
In the human world, the lineage becomes an oral transmission. I talk, you listen, and I give you an empowerment. This is oral transmission. Later Garab Dorje transmitted this lineage of the Nine Stages of Great Perfection to Manjushrimitra, Manjushrimitra transmitted the lineage to Shri Singha, and Shri Singha again transmitted the lineage to Padmasambhava. This human lineage is much longer, and Padmasambhava was the main recipient of this lineage.
Shri Singha also transmitted the lineage to several Tibetans, including Vairotsana. Padmasambhava was Indian, and after he went to Tibet, he transmitted the lineage to the Tibetan King Trisong Detsen. He also taught Yeshe Tsogyal, his main consort. At that time when King Trisong Detsen learned the Nine Stages of Great Perfection, he did not fully understand them, therefore Padmasambhava decided to place the teachings of the Nine Stages of Great Perfection inside his mind. This is also a lineage transmission! From Samantabhadra Tathagata to Padmasambhava to King Trisong Detsen to Yeshe Tsogyal.
Yeshe Tsogyal knew that Tibet would face a period of anti-Buddhism during the reign of Langdarma, so she hid the teachings of the Nine Stages of Great Perfection taught by Padmasambhava in Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, and neighboring places. These termas were hidden inside rocks, in empty space, at the bottom of lakes, and inside large trees. Finally, Longchenpa and Jigme Lingpa, two main tertons, collected these termas and organized them into the Nine Stages of Great Perfection. In addition, Longchenpa arranged the most important teachings into the Longchen Nyingthig. I must first explain this historical background to you.
Which lineage is the speediest? The lineage of mind-to-mind transmission, of course. Here is a joke. Three shops are selling the same merchandise. They are right next to each other and selling the same wares so there is a lot of business competition. The shop to the right puts up a large sign that says ''BIG SALE LOW PRICES.'' The shop to the left puts up a bigger sign: ''BIGGER SALE BIG DISCOUNT.'' The shop in the middle puts up a sign ''ENTRANCE.'' So, which shop gets business the fastest? So it is with lineages. Maitreya Bodhisattva will deliver sentient beings quickly. With his Vidyadhara Lineage, he will shine his Heart Light to eliminate everyone's karmic defilements, and with a chanting of ''Namo Buddha ye,'' everyone will immediately soar directly to the Buddha Land. This way of salvation is the fastest. In the future, if we encounter Maitreya when he shines his Heart Light upon us, our karmic defilements will be eradicated, and the remaining Buddha-essence will reach the Buddha Land directly. Then there will be no need to be so verbose. In Taiwan, one often sees shops posting signs proclaiming ''prices slashed,'' ''big sales,'' ''big discounts,'' and ''clearance sales,'' yet these are futile attempts to attract customers. The most useful will be when Maitreya descends and shines light upon you removing all karmic defilements, leaving only Buddha-essence in its place.
Grand Master has also received empowerments from Padmasambhava. I have described this in a very early book. There were altogether two empowerments at the beginning. Padmasambhava took my soul (bardo body) from my body with him to fly through the empty space. We flew to Nepal. Inside a cave of ancient tombs, Padmasambhava said to me, ''I don't care who you Sheng-yen Lu are. I am going to eat you.'' And he picked me up and put me into his mouth, then I found myself descending inside his body and ''Xiu!'' coming out of his secret chakra. It was very terrifying. Yet this was tantamount to having the defilements of my body purified. This trick of Padmasambhava's was also very effective. Like the Vidyadhara Lineage, it was able to suddenly remove my karmic defilements and reveal my Buddha-essence.
Here is a joke related to the human body. John, an employee of a cake shop, had a palm print on his cheek when he showed up to work. The boss asked him, ''What happened to your face?'' John said, ''Yesterday a lady came to order a birthday cake for her nai-nai (paternal grandmother) and wanted me to make the delivery. Since I did not know how old her nai-nai was, I had to ask her. Then she slapped me.'' The boss asked, ''How could the customer slap you?'' John said, ''All I did was asking her how big her nai-nai was?'' He was asking the lady how old was her grandmother and not how big her chest was, but these two words sound the same.
After Padmasambhava swallowed me and released me through his secret chakra, which was like peeing me out, I did not feel any sensation. Yet, this swallowing and releasing helped me eradicate my undesirable habitual tendencies while keeping my inherent nature. In a second empowerment, Padmasambhava then radiated great light from his entire body. Amidst this brilliant light, the hundred peaceful and wrathful deities appeared and they all shone their light upon me. It was very remarkable.
Recently I started giving myself empowerments. Before I confer blessings by placing my hand on the recipient's head, I visualize my Yidam above my head, entering into my body first. I always do this before administering mo-ding. In Taiwan, it took half an hour, two hours, even three hours to finish mo-ding. Here in Seattle mo-ding is already over before we start. There is a big difference between here and Taiwan. Students in Southeast Asia flew to Taiwan to attend the 3 p.m. dharma ceremony every Saturday. There were ten to twenty thousand people attending each time. Professor Yeh Shuwen has organized a True Buddha School Doctorate Group whose members are all PhDs. She is the initiator and she herself has a PhD in education. She personally sought out True Buddha School students with PhDs and professors in Taiwan to join this group. She is an emanation of Golden Mother of Jade Pond. So, you do not have to seek consultation from me. Ask her to help you. She is very good at it. She lives in Pingtung, Taiwan and is now busy from morning till night, because many people have gone to consult her. She is getting thinner and thinner and is busy providing consultation to doctors and professors. She is very accurate in her analysis and often able to hit the matter on the mark. Hence, all these professors and PhDs knelt down crying and agreed to join her group. So, when you watch the web broadcast of the Taiwan ceremony, you will notice the names of PhDs and professors on the honored guests list. Wow! I almost thought I had become a doctor of PhDs myself! So many students are PhDs and professors. Dr Yeh Shuwen is the convener and deserves great merits for making this happen (audience applause). She is the emanation of Golden Mother. Golden Mother here (at the shrine behind) is the big boss. Yeh Shuwen is the second boss. It is no simple feat. From the beginning, she was very intuitive. After empowering her, she was able to give accurate and efficacious readings during consultation.
Because the Nine Stages of Great Perfection are in my mind-stream, and as I have to give this discourse, I recently started empowering myself to see what kind of intuitions would appear. I will convey one hundred percent of these messages to you (audience applause).
When I was King Trisong Detsen in Tibet, Padmasambhava empowered me and placed the terma in my mind-stream. I wrote the book The Great Perfection of Vajrayana and you can read this yourself. What I am saying now is about the same as what is in the book. I used the term ''Po Xian Tathagata'' before to refer to Samantabhadra Tathagata. Now, before giving the talk on the Nine Stages of Great Perfection, I will place my hand upon my head to empower myself so that intuition will emerge. I will then first explain the origin of the lineages of Dzogchen to you. Because I have the terma of the Nine Stages of Great Perfection in my mind-stream, when I empower myself, intuition will appear so that I will be able to explain everything to you.
I would like to share another joke. Laughter is good and relaxes us. Life itself is a joke. In mainland China, each city or province has its own secretary. Master Lianyin's father is a secretary at Harbin. If his father were the chief secretary, it would have been exceedingly incredible. The chief secretary, or chairman, now is Xi Jinping. There was a secretary who went to ask a farmer, ''If you have a hundred acres of land, will you donate it to Motherland?'' The farmer said, ''I will.'' Oh! Very generous. The secretary asked again, ''If you have a million dollars, will you donate it to Motherland?'' The farmer said, ''I will.'' The secretary asked again, ''If you have a cow, will you donate it to Motherland?'' The farmer said, ''I won't.'' The secretary then asked, ''Why not?'' The farmer replied, ''I indeed have a cow.''
There is a reason for telling this joke. I am going to teach everyone the entire Nine Stages of Great Perfection (audience applause). It is freely given to you. The Nine Stages of Great Perfection of Nyingma is the oldest lineage. In Tibet now, almost all Tantrayana schools have a yearning to learn the Nine Stages of Great Perfection. But the materials are in disarray and have not been well organized. I will rearrange them systematically to explain them to everyone, and it will be the Nine Stages of Great Perfection unlike the existing available materials (audience applause). In the beginning, although the Nyingma teachings were disseminated widely, there was a severe attack on Buddhism when Langdarma became king. He wanted to extinguish the Buddhadharma in Tibet. At that time, monks had to hide from persecution and all the tantric teachings were dispersed. The termas placed by Yeshe Tsogyal and Padmasambhava in the various hiding places such as caves, air, and lakes were not excavated until later. Hence, the teachings of the Nine Stages of Great Perfection dissipated and there was no one to sort them out systematically. Later, a Nyingma wandering monk by the name of Zurpoche Sakya Jungne collected the teachings of the Nine Stages of Great Perfection, Zurcung Sherap-tra (his adopted son) collated them and the youngest Zur (Zur Sakya Senge) propagated them. These three masters are known as the ''three Zurs.'' But the teachings are still not very cohesive. The three Zurs were the earliest Nyingma masters to have codified the scriptures. But the three Zurs' lineage has fallen since.
Hence, Nyingma does not have a major central figure now. Padmasambhava has passed away. Where is the main core of Nyingma now? Of course, Nyingma temples still exist, such as the Mindrolling Monastery, but they do not have a leader. In comparison, among the Tibetan Tantrayana schools, the Gelug in power now has central figures such as the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama and apart from Potala Palace, there are also three main monasteries ?Drepung, Sera, and Ganden. As for the Sakya's central figure, the current leader is Trizin Rinpoche. Their second leader is Dagchen Rinpoche here in Seattle. The central figures of their lineage are from the Khon family. The leadership of the Sakya is passed down through a hereditary system, although they also have incarnated tulkus. Their main temple is the Sakya Monastery. As for the Kagyu, do they have a central figure? Yes. Their spiritual leaders are the Karmapa of the Black Hat and Tai Situ Rinpoche of the Red Hat. Their main monasteries are: Karmapa's Rumtek Monastery in the Indian state of Sikkim and the Tsurphu Monastery in Tibet as well as Tai Situ's Palpung Monastery. There was also Gangkar Rinpoche who had travelled to China to propagate the dharma. Gangkar Rinpoche of the Gangkar Monastery at Gangkar Mountain. As for Nyingma? The followers of Nyingma are more scattered and do not have a central figure. Who is their leader? No one. Gelug has the Dalai Lama and Panchen Lama. Kagyu has the Kamarpa, Tai Situpa, and Gangkar Rinpoche. Sakya has Trizin Rinpoche and Dagchen Rinpoche. In Nyingma, Dudjom Rinpoche used to have many students. There is also Chatral Rinpoche who is now one hundred and four years old and is an elder in Nyingma. His wife is Kamala. Before, there was an Urgyen Rinpoche who lived in Nepal. There was also the eminent tulku Norlha Rinpoche from Xikang (Kham region of Tibet) who propagated the dharma in China. Grand Master's human lineage of the Nine Stages of Great Perfection is from Reverend Liaoming who has in turn received the transmission from Norlha Rinpoche. At that time, when I received the empowerment from Reverend Liaoming, I did not know what the Nine Stages of Great Perfection were. Reverend Liaoming had studied under Norlha Rinpoche when they were in Sichuan. I have to explain this clearly to everyone.
In terms of Vidyadhara Lineage, Padmasambhava has placed the termas of the Nine Stages of Great Perfection in my mind-stream, hence I have the lineage of mind-to-mind transmission. Another rare transmission which is seldom discussed is the lineage one attains when entering into the ''most profound Samadhi of pure awareness.'' For example, earlier when the master of ceremony announced the step of ''entering Samahdi'' (during group practice), we formed the Meditation Mudra, and I started doing the Nine Round Breaths: white light entering the right nostril and after making a round, exiting the left nostril; white light entering the left nostril and exiting the right nostril; then white light entering both nostrils with exhalation through both nostrils. By doing the Nine Round Breaths first and focusing on inhaling and exhaling, I focused my mind. As soon as my mind becomes focused, there is the descent of ''fa liu (flow of spiritual energy).'' During deep Samadhi, with eyes closed, when I enter into the state of one-pointedness, ''fa liu'' descends. At that time, buddhas and bodhisattvas will appear to give me instructions: What are the Nine Stages of Great Perfection? How do you practice the Nine Stages of Great Perfection? What are the most important parts of the Nine Stages of Great Perfection? They are found in the final stage of atiyoga. I have explained at the Rainbow Temple that the first three stages are shravaka (hearers), pratyekabuddha (solitary realizer), and bodhisattva; the next three stages are action (kriya) tantra, performance (charya) tantra, and yoga tantra; and the final three stages of mahayoga, anuyoga, and atiyoga. Altogether these nine stages constitute the Nine Stages of Great Perfection. Then I asked, ''In the human world, who has taught the Nine Stages of Great Perfection?'' Shakyamuni Buddha has taught the first three stages of hearer, solitary realizer, and bodhisattva. Who has taught the next three stages of action, performance, and yoga tantra? Vajrasattva. Who taught the final three stages of mahayoga, anuyoga, and atiyoga? Samantabhadra Tathagata.
I will continue with the discourse on the Nine Stages of Great Perfection tomorrow.
Om Mani Padme Hum.
(Given at Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple, Redmond, Washington, USA on June 8, 2013 after group practice of Medicine Buddha Sadhana. Translated and edited by Janny Chow, Proofread by Christine Chan)