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 the deities of today's homa: Amituo Tathagata (Amitabha), founder of the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss, Namo Guanyin Bodhisattva (Avalokiteśvara), and Namo Dashizhi Bodhisattva (Mahasthamaprapta).
Shimu, masters, dharma instructors, reverends, dharma lecturers, dharma assistants, directors of local chapters, fellow school members, students from across the internet, and all our honored guests today: Mrs. Ambassador Daniel Liao dharma sister Judy, True Buddha Foundation's accountant dharma sister Teresa and husband, TBF's legal adviser Attorney Zhou Huifang with son and daughter, 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. Zhuang Junyao, and the American California four big mothers, greetings to all of you. Thank you for coming!
Today we held a homa and made offerings to the Three Saints of the Western Pure Land - Amituo Tathagata, founder of the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss, Namo Guanyin Bodhisattva, and Namo Dashizhi Bodhisattva. These three deities are the famous ''Three Saints of Pure Land'' and the school founded to disseminate their teaching is the Pure Land School. We must also remember the famous ''Three Saints of Huayan (Avatamsaka) '' - Shakyamuni Buddha flanked by Manjushri Bodhisattva to his right and Samantabhadra Bodhisattva to his left and the ''Three Saints of Tantrayana'' - Vajrasattva flanked by Guanyin and Manjushri on each side. Another trinity in Vajrayana consists of Manjushri flanked by Vajrapani and the Four-armed Guanyin to the right and left respectively. There also exist the ''Three Saints of Medicine Buddha'' with Medicine Tathagata flanked either by Medicine King Bodhisattva and Medicine Superior Bodhisattva or Sunlight Bodhisattva (Suryaprabha) and Moonlight Bodhisattva (Candraprabha).
When I conducted the homa for the Three Saints of Pure Land in Taiwan, I announced that all the deceased registered for the homa by the main supplicants had been guided to rebirth in the Western Pure Land. Today someone asked me, ''If I sign up as a main supplicant for today's homa at Rainbow Temple, will my ancestors all go to the Western Pure Land?'' Earlier during the homa, on her behalf, I asked the deities this question and the answer I received was, ''Eighty percent.'' Eighty percent is a passing score. People who have committed grave transgressions such as those in the Avici hell or those who have committed the Five Grave Offenses are excluded. If their transgressions are of the ordinary kind, these souls, despite their karmic defilements, will be reborn to the Western Pure Land. Dharma sister Chen had a fanciful notion that all her ancestors would be able to be delivered today.
Have you heard this joke? A stewardess on an airplane was serving drinks and asked a lady, ''What would you like to drink?'' The middle-aged lady thinking she would be charged, replied, ''Oh! I don't want anything.'' The stewardess whispered to the lady, ''Drinks are free.'' The lady said, ''Free? Then I will have a cup of orange juice, a cup of Coca Cola, and a cup of coffee. And I would like enough drinks to cover my airfare!''
We have an especially large number of main supplicants today, more than usual. We all have similar wishes. We hope that by becoming a main supplicant, our ancestors will all be delivered at once so that we won't have to sign them up for deliverance again.
This is how it is. When you engender a desire to help your ancestors, the buddhas and bodhisattvas will receive your message. The power of Buddhadharma is boundless, and the buddhas and bodhisattvas will employ many powers in their task of guiding beings in the nether world. But not everyone is able to accept that guidance. There are some who do not wish to go to the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss, and instead may wish to go to the East Pure Land, South Pure Land, North Pure Land, or even stay put in samsara. For such beings, there is nothing we can do. Ultimately, if someone has affinity with the Western Pure Land, he will receive guidance and be accepted there.
So to continue on with the stewardess, she continued to serve drinks and asked another passenger, ''Is there anything I can help you with?'' This passenger replied, ''Can I have a cup of water?'' The stewardess replied, ''Sure, would you like mineral water?'' The passenger asked, ''What about fruit juice?'' The stewardess replied, ''We have orange and apple juice. Which would you prefer?'' The passenger then asked, ''Do you have Coca Cola?'' ''Yes, we do. Would you like ice with that?'' The passenger finally said, ''Give me a cup of coffee!'' There were many selections offered. In our dharma ceremony today, there is no other selection but the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss. If you wish to see Maitreya Bodhisattva, Medicine Buddha, Vairocana Buddha, or Ratnasambhava Buddha, then you cannot make that selection today. Only Amituo Tathagata's Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss is offered today. Those who do not have affinity cannot go there. Those who have committed the Five Grave Offenses or transgressions sending them to the Avici hell cannot go there because their karmic obscuration is too heavy. They have no affinity with the Buddhadharma. There are some who actually oppose the Buddhadharma, and of course there is no way they will go there.
By reciting Amitabha's name, we achieve two important merits. One is to accumulate fortune and capital for rebirth to the Pure Land. The other is to train our mind to achieve one-pointedness. When the mind is at one-pointedness, our wishes will materialize. Buddha has said that when one is able to focus the mind, there is nothing that cannot be accomplished. If one's mind is focused and without deviation throughout his spiritual cultivation, he will go to the Pure Land. If the mind is in turmoil at the time of death, or a chattering and unfocused mind which is suddenly on one complicated issue and the next minute on another unresolved emotional knot, one will not be able to sever mundane karma in order to be reborn to the Pure Land. Hence, we must chant ''Namo Amituofo,'' then chant the names of his attendants: ''Namo Guanshiyin Pusa, Namo Dashizhi Pusa.'' Chant each name sincerely, and bow sincerely with each chanting, with a focused mind. This is the key to recitation of a buddha's epithet. In the future I will write about the ''Pathway of Pure Land'' and teach everyone a method to chant a buddha's epithet. After this method is published, you can refer to it in your practice. Even elderly practitioners can do this. When one is young, one should hear and learn more practices! In middle age, one should concentrate to penetrate one specific practice deeply. In old age, one should pray for rebirth to the Buddha-land. This is a most important point which was also taught by earlier Buddhist practitioners - to remain one-pointed in seeking rebirth to the Pure Land.
While the airplane was flying smoothly, the pilot made a pleasant announcement: ''Ladies and gentlemen, this is your pilot. Welcome aboard. I would like to tell everyone… Oh! My God!'' The broadcast was interrupted and there was silence. All passengers were terrified, even the stewardesses were at wit's end. Silence reigned inside the cabin. It took a while before the broadcast resumed and the pilot spoke, ''Sorry to have frightened everyone. Just now a staff was pouring coffee for me, she accidentally spilled coffee all over my shirt. Come and take a look if you don't believe me. It is all wet.'' One passenger was very angry and said, ''What the heck! You should come and see my crotch. It's also all wet!''
Today is the first day of Discourses on the Great Perfection Dharma. I will explain first how I obtained my Great Perfection lineage. I have four Tantrayana gurus. The first is Reverend Liaoming, the second is His Eminence Sakya Zhengkong Rinpoche, the third is His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, and the fourth is Vajra Acharya Thubten Dargye, Reverend Liaoming, who belonged to the Nyingma or old school, was my first lineage guru. In Tibetan Buddhism, there are old and new schools. Nyingma literally means ancient. The other schools, Gelug, Sakya, and Kagyu, are the new schools. Reverend Liaoming himself belonged to the Nyingma school. When he was in Sichuan Province, he studied the Great Perfection Dharma and the nine yanas under Guru Nor Iha Khutuktu. Hence, from Reverend Liaoming, in the human realm, I received the initiation for the Great Perfection Dharma. Additionally, in a past lifetime, as you will learn - from my book Unusual Past Lives of the Dharma King, I was a tsanpo (sovereign) in Tibet. I was King Trisong Detsen, one of the three dharma kings in Tibet, and had invited Padmasambhava to Tibet. At that time, Padmasambhava traveled to Tibet to revitalize Buddhism, and Trisong Detsen became his disciple and studied the Great Perfection Dharma under him. Alongside them was Shantarakshita, and together the three built the Samye Monastery, also known as Renyun Si (in Chinese). The meaning of Renyun is to let things follow their own course and run freely both in samsara as well as in the empty space.
King Trisong Detsen carried out his dharma studying in secrecy, because a considerable number of noblemen at that time were anti-Buddhism. The religion at that time was Bonpo which practiced ancestral as well as nature worship. Like shamanism, Bonpo worshipped rocks, trees, mountains, lakes, and ancestors. Shamanism was flourishing in Tibet at that time. Although King Trisong Detsen had invited Padmasambhava to Tibet, his dharma practice was cloaked in secrecy.
Later when Padmasambhava walked around Tibet, Bhutan, and even Nepal, he hid documents of sheepskin with the secrets of Great Perfection written upon them in caves, lakes, forests, and other locations for people of affinity to later discover. He also made a unique hiding place in the mind-stream of King Trisong Detsen. Because I was Trisong Detsen in my past life, when I enter into deep meditation, the Great Perfection teachings hidden by Padmasambhava earlier in my mind-stream reveal themselves to me. (audience applause) This is an example of inter-generational lineage transmission. Or, in scientific terms, I carry genes of the Great Perfection. That is why I understand them so well.
So to recap, I have two Great Perfection lineages. The first is from this human world through initiation from Reverend Liaoming. The second is from the terma (hidden treasure) placed in the mind-stream of King Trisong Detsen by Padmasambhava. Due to this ''Great Perfection gene,'' when Trisong Detsen is reborn and meditates, the teachings of Great Perfection manifest spontaneously in his mind.
The teachings of Great Perfection are the pinnacle of Tantrayana teaching, just as Mount Everest is the highest summit in this world. The ultimate fruition of Great Perfection Dharma is the rainbow body phenomenon. Padmasambhava transformed his body into a rainbow and vanished into empty space. In our school, we have the third highest achievement in Master Lianhua Yimin whose cremated body left behind a multitude of sariras. The second highest achievement is the body transforming into rainbow light, with clothing, hair, fingernails and toenails left behind. That is why Great Perfection teachings are the highest teachings.
Padmasambhava stockpiled 6.4 million scriptures pertaining to the teachings of Great Perfection. Primordial Buddha Samantabhadra Tathagata is the origin of Great Perfection Dharma. Samantabhadra Tathagata and Samantabhadra Bodhisattva are from two separate levels. Samantabhadra Tathagata is Adi-Buddha, belonging to the sixteenth level. Vairocana Buddha, the Great Sun Tathagata, belongs to the thirteenth level. Guanyin Bodhisattva, the Thousand-Armed Thousand-Eyed Avalokitesvara, belongs to the eleventh level.
Buddhas also belong to different levels, but these are differentiations created by us humans. In my 56th book, The Great Perfection of Vajrayana, I used the term Poxian Tathagata to refer to Samantabhadra Tathagata. It was a deliberate decision at the time to keep some secrets hidden. People may not realize that I do this occasionally in my writings and use different words that sound similar for concealment purposes.
Padmasambhava had known that the lineage of Great Perfection, when passed to Langdarma, a future king after King Trisong Detsen, would face extinction as Langdarma was anti-Buddhism. Hence, he hid the scriptures in various places including Bhutan and Nepal. Some were even inside lakes. The objects were hidden quite mysteriously. Many people do not recognize the existence of terma while many others do. Tertons who had affinities with the terma they discovered had all been disciples of Padmasambhava and would receive psychic instructions as to the scriptures' hidden locations. For example, one might be told during a full moon to take a boat to the middle of a certain lake and wait for the appearance of a scripture. Suddenly a large fish might jump out of the lake and from its mouth an object would shoot like a beam of white light into the boat. When one opened it, it would be a scripture hidden there by Padmasambhava. Hidden inside a fish in the lake! Such mysterious events actually occurred. My case is the best example. Hidden inside my mind are the Great Perfection teachings. How mysterious, no?
Here is another joke about stewardesses. A passenger pointed outside the airplane window and asked the stewardess, ''What lake is that?'' The stewardess, pouring a drink, did not look up, nor did she raise or turn her head, and replied, ''Coffee pot.'' (The words for lake and pot sound the same in Chinese.)
The terma placed by Padmasambhava were hidden very mysteriously. In the fourteenth century, Longchenpa, a manifestation of Manjushri Bodhisattva, sorted out the Great Perfection teachings systematically into two books. The most important one was Longchen Nyingthig, the Innermost Essence of Great Perfection. Nyingthig are the teachings of the Innermost Essence of Great Perfection.
So, what are the nine yanas of Nyingma? You still do not know after hearing me lecture for half a day! Well, let me tell you. They are the ''outer three yanas,'' ''inner three yanas,'' and ''supreme three yanas.'' The outer three yanas are shravakayana, pratyekabuddhayana, and bodhisattvayana. The inner three yanas are the yana of action tantra, yana of performance tantra, and yana of yoga tantra. The supreme three yanas are the yana of mahayoga, yana of anuyoga, and yana of atiyoga. The outer three yanas, inner three yanas, and supreme three yanas are collectively the nine yanas of Nyingma which cover all the teachings within Tantrayana. After Longchenpa sorted them out and wrote down their key points, they became the Longchen Nyingthig. Longchenpa had written two books, and the most important section is the Longchen Nyingthig belonging to the Innermost Essence of Great Perfection.
In the eighteenth century, there was a terton by the name of Jigme Lingpa who also had been a disciple of Padmasambhava in a past life. He specialized in looking for termas of Great Perfection. Where were they hidden? He tried all kinds of methods to search for them: in the stomach of fish, in caves, and in the forest. Padmasambhava would give him instructions: ''Cut down this big tree and my hidden treasure will be in the center.'' When Jigme Lingpa chopped down the tree, he indeed found scriptures left by Padmasambhava. Termas were also found in caves. One time, Jigme Lingpa came upon a big boulder, and after sitting upon it, a voice inside the boulder spoke to him, ''There is a scripture inside this boulder.'' The newer schools such as Kagyu, Gelug, and Sakya did not believe in termas. They only trusted their eyes. Scripture inside a rock? No one would believe it. So they took saws and hammers to crack the boulder into pieces, and indeed there were scriptures inside. They were teachings of Great Perfection written in Sanskrit on ancient sheepskin. There are termas inside Grand Master's mind that have become part of my genetic makeup. Hence, I am able to explain the nine yanas and Great Perfection very clearly. (audience applause)
To receive initiation for the Great Perfection Dharma, one must first visualize the Refuge Tree. The Refuge Tree is the center of one's faith. Regardless of the school, whether Nyingma, Kagyu, Gelug, or Sakya, all have their own Refuge Tree. Like the wish-fulfilling tree, the Refuge Tree, with its trunk, leaves and branches, rises out of the water of merits. At the tree's center is your root guru. In Nyingma the guru is Padmasambhava also known as Guru Rinpoche. Above him are the lineage gurus, altogether fifteen of them. I will talk about each one of them later. The guru at the top is Adi-Buddha Samantabhadra Tathagata, the originator of the teachings of Great Perfection. Below him are all the other lineage gurus. The Great Perfection teachings were transmitted among buddhas first, and later they spread to the deva realm, then to emperors and kings upon earth and finally to samsara and the human world. In the human world lineage, there are also many gurus. I shall introduce them to you later.
In the center of the Refuge Tree is Guru Rinpoche who is also Padmasambhava. ''Om, be-dza, beh-ma, hum.'' This is the shortest heart mantra of Padmasambhava. Behind him are the 6.4 million tantra scriptures of Dzogchen. Arranged at the top of the Refuge Tree are the lineage gurus. To his right are the Three Refuge Masters Manjushri, Vanjrapani, and Four-armed Avalokitesvara. To his left are Sariputra, Maudgalyayana, and all the shravakas, pratyekabuddhas, and bodhisattvas. In front are Shakyamuni Buddha, the thousand Buddhas from the Kalpa of Virtue, as well as all buddhas of the ten directions and three times. Beneath them are the herukas, dharma protectors, dakas, and devas, all below Shakyamuni Buddha. This is the arrangement of the Refuge Tree.
Visualize this tree as you meditate. From the ocean of eight merits a large tree emerges. In the middle of the tree is Padmasambhava. Above him are all the lineage gurus. To his right are the Three Saints of Tantrayana, To his left are the shravakas and pratyekabuddhas. In front is Shakyamuni Buddha. Behind are the sutra and tantra scriptures, the 6.4 million scriptures. Below are all the vajra deities, dharma protectors. Every interspace is occupied by devas. This is the Refuge Tree. In other words, at the time of taking refuge, one chants: ''Namo Guru bei, Namo Buddha ye, Namo Dharma ye, Namo Sangha ye.'' The most important thing is to visualize the Refuge Tree.
Nyingma's nine yanas are very important. They encompass everything pertaining to Tantrayana. My two greatest lineage gurus are: Guru Rinpoche Padmasambhava and Reverend Liaoming who is my lineage guru in the human world. Longchenpa is a very important lineage guru because of his work in sorting through sutras and tantras in the compilation of teachings of Dzogchen. Another important person is Jigme Lingpa who traveled everywhere to excavate the teachings of Dzogchen. The process of excavation was also magical.
Actually there is no contradiction in Great Perfection and the nine yanas. The ''outer three yanas,'' ''inner three yanas,'' and ''supreme three yanas'' represent a graduated pathway. First one practices shravaka, pratyekabuddha, bodhisattva, then action tantra, performance tantra, yoga tantra, and then mahayoga, anuyoga, and atiyoga.
A son once asked his father, ''Dad, are there a lot of contradictions in this world?'' The father replied, ''Of course! Take a look at your mother. She has focused her entire life on two things only: eating and dieting.'' There are many contradictions under the sky. However, there is no contradiction in Great Perfection and the nine yanas. This is very important.
Here is another joke. A school had a policy that teachers were not allowed to take phone calls. One day, during physics class, the teacher's cell phone rang. The teacher looked at the students, ''This is a phone call from the leader, shall I take it?'' All students replied, ''Since it is from the leader, you must answer it.'' The teacher walked outside and spoke into the phone, ''Hey laopo (wife), what do you want? I am in the middle of class.'' His wife was also his leader. A child asked his mother, ''Why does everyone call you a po fu (shrew)?'' The mother replied, ''They are praising me as a lovely huo po fu nu (vivacious woman).'' Sound the same, but the two are far too different. There is a saying that life is like the Journey to the West. When we are children, we are Sun Wukong the Monkey King, mischievous, prankish, and raising havoc; when we are young adults, we are Jhu Bajie the Pig, daring to love and daring to hate; when we are in our prime, we are Sha Zheng the Sandy, honest and hard-working; and when we are elderly, we are Tang Sanzang the Buddhist Monk, long-winded and annoying. There is no contradiction there as one changes over one's lifetime.
There is no contradiction in Great Perfection and the nine yanas. One first studies to become a shravaka, then a pratyekabuddha, then a bodhisattva. Afterwards, one enters into tantra to first learn action tantra, followed by performance tantra and later yoga tantra. Finally, one enters into the Great Perfection stages of mahayoga, anuyoga, and atigyoga. It follows a sequence like human life - from youth to prime to elderly years. What we learn at the end is atiyoga, the final stage of Great Perfection. Great Perfection teachings cover many things, but they are absolutely not conflicting.
Some people believe in feng shui to the extreme of superstition. They consult a feng shui teacher for everything to find out if something is lucky or inauspicious. One day, sitting under a wall, an earthquake struck and the wall fell upon a man. He screamed for help. His servant came and said to him, ''Boss, please bear it. We will go ask the feng shui teacher if today is a good day to move things around.'' This is contradiction. In times of emergency, there are many things you should not pay attention to, and rather seize the most important action of the moment. The most important thing is atiyoga at the final stage, which is Nyingthig. Nyingthig is atiyoga. In the future I will explain atiyoga, and I will be long-winded like Tang Sanzang. My discourses are not long-winded, but I will discuss in details many things around the subject of Dzogchen and touch upon the innermost essence at the end. I will bring forward the Innermost Essence of Nyingthig so that everyone will say: ''Oh! So this is what true Buddhadharma is!'' (audience applause)
What is Nyingthig? I will give you an analogy. A king asked two artisans to create a mouse sculpture. The first sculpture was extremely lifelike whereas the second one did not look much like a mouse. When the king announced that the first artisan had won, the second artisan suggested that a cat be the judge. When a cat was brought out, he liked the second instead of the lifelike one. Why? Because the second artisan had used fish bones as raw material for his sculpture. This is how it is when we discuss Nyingthig. We must seize the core if we want to get at the Innermost Essence of Nyingthig. Although un-lifelike, it may turn out to be really good stuff. On the other hand, an extremely lifelike model, due to its different raw materials, may not turn out to be a good thing. Everyone now knows that Nyingthig is innermost essence. It is something you want and need.
A teacher asked a student, ''To use a metaphor, if you are beautiful flowers, then who am I?'' The student replied, ''I do not know.'' The teacher said, ''Think again. Who is the one in the garden with a pair of scissors cutting the flowers?'' The student replied, ''A flower thief!'' Actually the answer is ''a gardener.'' The teacher is a gardener planting and caring for his garden. Grand Master is the teacher who will teach you the nine yanas of Great Perfection, and I must first adjust your views so you understand the importance of its lineages, and its origin.
Nyingma is the oldest among all Tibetan schools. It was brought to Tibet from India by Padmasambhava. At that time, Tibet's religion was Bonpo instead of Buddhist Tantrayana. Tantrayana only started in Tibet after Padmasambhava introduced it. The teachings that Padmasambhava transmitted are the Great Perfection Nine Yanas. Padmasambhava is an emanation of the unification of the three deities Amitabha, Shakyamuni Buddha, and Avalokitesvara.
Padmasambhava is also a kumara (youth) manifested from a lotus, born out of a lotus without a father or a mother, found lying in a lotus. Padmasambhava is also a Padmakumara. They are one and the same. Hence, Padmasambhava is one of us Padmakumaras. (audience applause) The roots are very deep! Grand Master is Padmakumara. Padmasambhava is also Padmakumara, as he was originally manifested and born from a lotus!
Today we started the discourses on the nine yanas of Great Perfection Dharma, and we will stop here with the introductory material. Thank you, everyone.
Om Mani Padme Hum
(Given at Rainbow Temple, North Bend, Washington, USA on June 2, 2013 after the fire offering to the Three Saints of Pure Land. Translated and edited by Janny Chow, Proofread by Christine Chan)