February 8, 2020, Padmakumara Group Cultivation Practice
On the 15th day of the first lunar month, the temple was abuzz with disciples participating in the group cultivation practice of Padmakumara dharma. The disciples had come from all over the world such as the UK, Taiwan, Singapore, Shanghai, Hong Kong, New York, Panama, and Mexico.
After the practice, Master Lianqin, on behalf of everyone, requested for a dharma exposition from our Root Guru, Living Buddha Sheng-yen Lu.
Grandmaster said, "Time flies really fast. The Spring homa ceremony was just over. Today is already the 15th day of the lunar month, and it’s ending soon too. In the blink of an eye, like in a dream, the first half of the month is gone. Just now, in the dharma seat, I nearly entered the dream-like realm as well! Life is like a dream, yet, despite the illusionary trance of a dream, I find there is definitely something out there."
Grandmaster explained with an example, "Seattle is a rain-city -- you can expect perpetual drizzle throughout winter. Before the Spring homa ceremony, for about two months, the rain was continuous. On the day of the homa, the weather became a little better. On the day of the outing, the weather became unusually fine. However, since that day, the rain has been relentless. Hence, there is something in the works here."
Grandmaster recounted the trip he once made to Angkor Wat. As long as he walked on the roads, the weather was fine and sunny. The moment he stepped into the tour bus, rain started coming down. The tour guide, who had never seen such a situation before, took refuge under Grandmaster.
Grandmaster said, "Actually, I don't think I’m very holy or extraordinary like a celestial being. I only chant High King Sutra daily; I merge with the Amitabha and enter samadhi daily. At my side are Avalokitesvara and Mahāsthāmaprāpta Bodhisattvas. Amitabha, Avalokitesvara and Mahāsthāmaprāpta also are standing opposite me, in front of me. Avalokitesvara holds a vase containing cleansing water which she sprinkles on me. Mahāsthāmaprāpta carries a lotus bud which emits light to shine on me. Amitabha has a lotus seat in his hand; the seat flies towards me and I stand on top of it.
"Everyday, I do these homework without fail. I write articles and chant High King Sutra. Strange enough, for whatever I want, I just need to express my wish, and I will get it."
Grandmaster illustrated with an example. He said, "The moment I decided to do the Yeshe Tsogyal homa ceremony, I had a fleeting thought of wanting a precious stone as nice as Yeshe Tsogyal’s (Yeshe Tsogyal was a consort of Padmasambhava and had many beautiful precious stones). And later on, this 33-carat diamond was offered to me."
During the Spring homa ceremony, Grandmaster had worn the big diamond, after which, he had kept it [in the bank's safe]. Said Grandmaster, "The strange thing was, after the ceremony in the evening, hailstones rained down and they looked like diamonds. Actually, during the day, there wasn't much rain and it wasn't that cold. The hailstones were sprinkled by the deities and dakinis in the Space above us. The deities and dakinis were from the ceremony. To have hailstones at the end of any ceremony is always an auspicious sign!"
Grandmaster recalled the time when Padmasambhava was leaving -- Yeshe Tsogyal had sprinkled seven fistfuls of golden sand to offer to her guru. Said Grandmaster, "These seven fistfuls of sand add up to about 500g in weight. When I was presiding over the Yeshe Tsogyal ceremony, I was thinking about this 500g of golden sand. Lo and behold! Just yesterday, someone offered me half-a-kilogram of gold."
Hence, what is at work here is something miraculous. Grandmaster's wishes will always come true; he will receive whatever he wishes in one way or another.
Grandmaster said, "We chanted the mantra of the Tara-who-saves-all-from-contagious-diseases just now; I hope that the Wuhan coronavirus epidemic will come to an end soon. But I have a sudden worry just now. The coronavirus could metamorphose into a kind of seasonal pneumonia in the future. It may or may not happen, but if it does, we will be facing a calamity for mankind."
Grandmaster reiterated that he would dare to go Wuhan to bless each resident there. He declared that even if he were to be sacrificed in the end, he would be satisfied for having done his part, and even then, he would be returning to his original source. Padmakumara is here to save sentient beings.
Next Grandmaster discoursed on the Lamdre.
Grandmaster said, "A cultivator needs to recognize the start of affinity, so as to dispel hindrances. For example, in this coronavirus episode, there is actually a start of affinity. One must know what the reason for the causation is, for only then can one go about removing the coronavirus and ensuring that it will not recur. Although this is considered an adverse affinity, one can make use of such hindrances to remove hindrances. One’s power of merits will increase and strengthen. In the same vein, one must know and comprehend meditation to remove the hindrances associated with meditation."
Grandmaster added, "Take for example that day when I was drawing a big painting. My focus was on the drawing of the fishes, the lotuses and leaves, the dragonfly and the sky. I was completely immersed in painting the picture. When a person is focused and does not think of anything else, he or she is in meditation. Hence, at that time, even though Ms Chou was talking away, I didn't even listen, and therefore I wasn’t affected. Focused meditation can shatter all other hindrances."
Grandmaster said, being focused is the first step in meditation. "After that, we have to study 'Trekchö' which means ‘to sever’. Then we have to learn 'Togal', which means to ‘supersede or transcend’. We simply supersedes everything." Grandmaster hoped that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will eliminate the coronavirus to prevent a calamity from happening.
After the discourse, everyone participated in the chanting of the Buddha’s name and epithet. Grandmaster then bestowed the refuge-taking initiation on the new disciples. He also touched the crown of every disciple, blessing each person in turn.