May 2, 2020 Dharma King Lian-sheng Dharma Discourse at Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple, Seattle
It’s Saturday night again. Disciples worldwide were looking forward with great anticipation to Grandmaster and Shimu’s live webcast. We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude to all the True Buddha School (TBS) volunteers and Dharma propagation personnel at Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple in Seattle who work tirelessly to make Grandmaster and Shimu’s live webcasts available to disciples.
During merit dedication at the simplified practice, Grandmaster prayed to Thousand-armed Thousand-eyed Guanyin, Vajrapani Bodhisattva and Tara Who Saves from Contagious Diseases to bestow auspiciousness on TBS disciples, bless disciples with accomplishment in cultivation, protect TBS shrines, and radiate light to deliver netherworld beings. Grandmaster repeatedly prayed to Green Tara, the 21 Taras, and Tara Who Saves from Contagious Diseases to bless all sentient beings and eradicate the COVID-19 epidemic as soon as possible.
After greeting all those present via the live webcast, Grandmaster compassionately answered questions from disciples around the world.
Q: Cultivation of the body sacrifice practice (Chod Practice) is performed through visualization. In reality, however, no actual sacrifice is involved. Is a visualized sacrifice actually “sacrificing” anything? What effect does visualization have on the mind?
A: Essentially, Vajrayana is the cultivation of mental power. If one doesn’t actually make a sacrifice in one’s visualization, then one’s visualization score is zero. Every Vajrayana practice requires visualization.
In the Fourfold Refuge, the lineage gurus are not actually present, but one still pays homage to them. The same is true of the buddha, the Dharma, and the sangha. What kind of homage would it be if one considers them not present, so there is no need to pay homage to them? When one makes offerings during the Mandala Offering, do the deities actually descend and eat the offerings? The deities have much more and better celestial fruits and exquisite treasure in heaven, why would they descend and partake of humanity’s offerings? The truth is everything becomes real if one cultivates with sincerity. Without sincerity, it remains unreal.
Grandmaster pointed out that both Grandmaster and the practitioner are illusory. To put it simply, by means of sincerity, one cultivates the real from the unreal, which is to say, what one cultivates from illusion turns into the truth.
All dharmas (phenomenon) are alike in the sense of being unreal, that is, illusory. Through cultivation, one transforms illusory dharmas into something real. If one has a sincere mind, one will develop spiritual perception. As far as the effect is concerned, if one is sincere, the practice will be effective. If one is not sincere, one’s practice is just a waste of time.
Q: Some say Lord Yama rules the netherworld. Others say Emperor Dongyue, Mahabala, Jade Emperor, the Vajra Wisdom Kings, and the major bodhisattvas also play a role in governing the underworld. My question is, who is ultimately in charge of the netherworld?
A: Mahabala has charge of the yang (human) realm and the yin (netherworld) realm. But, who is ultimately in charge of the netherworld? Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva is the foremost because he is Lord of the Netherworld. In Taiwan, who has the final say? It’s President Tsai Ing-wen. However, in the USA, it’s not necessarily true that President Trump has the final say. In Washington State, the Governor of Washington State is the one who has the final say.
On the other hand, you yourself have the final say in the netherworld. In Grandmaster’s mind, there is no “netherworld”. One’s own cultivation and the karma created by one’s mind determine the existence of the netherworld. If one is already in the celestial realm, one is not subject to the control of Lord Yama, Emperor Dongyue, or bodhisattvas. Otherwise, one is subject to the control of Lord Yama, Emperor Dongyue, Mahabala, Jade Emperor, the Vajra Wisdom Kings, and bodhisattvas.
Q: Grandmaster previously expounded the Dual Illumination Practice. In this practice, a buddha radiates light on the practitioner as the practitioner radiates light on sentient beings. Is there a more detailed explanation of this practice?
A: For one to radiate light on sentient beings, one must first have light. A buddha can, of course, radiate light on a practitioner. However, for a practitioner to radiate light on sentient beings, the practitioner must first have light. These are the “details”. It all depends on one’s level of cultivation. One cultivates to the point where one’s body emits light. Then, the lights all mutually shine upon each other, that is, the light of the buddhas and bodhisattvas shine on one and one is able to shine light on sentient beings. To shine light on sentient beings like the buddhas and bodhisattvas, light must radiate from one’s body. One cultivates this light by following the detailed instructions and by stages, one by one, until one illuminates brightly on one’s own. This is the detailed explanation.
Q: One can open one’s heart chakra by visualizing a mantra revolving in one’s heart chakra while reciting the mantra. Are there similar practices which can be performed in other chakras?
A: Yes. Sacral chakra, navel chakra, heart chakra, throat chakra, third eye chakra, crown chakra and root chakra all have their respective visualization practice.
Q: The Buddha Expounds the Sadhana of Indra’s Secret Attainment states that one must first find an acharya, have faith and reverence in the acharya, take refuge, and receive transmission of the dharma. One then prays to one’s personal deity for blessings and protection. One makes vast offerings to buddhas and practices extensive alms giving on behalf of sentient beings. One walks 10 steps to the east, then 30 steps to the west. The practitioner then enters into a square-shaped palace with windows. Looking out from the windows, one sees all kinds of trees full of remedies that are a panacea.” Grandmaster please explain if the palace mentioned in the sutra is tangible or intangible?
A: What a coincidence! The topics covered so far today are related to “existence or non-existence”. Take Four Layered Boundary Protection as an example. Does boundary protection really exist after one performs Four Layered Boundary Protection? If one wholeheartedly visualizes the practice, boundary protection will be effective. If one performs the protection half-heartedly, it will not be effective. It is precisely because I put my heart into my practice that I am able to feel the elixir from the willow leaves of White Robed Guanyin.
A: Yes, they are.
Q: Why am I always tired after cultivating the Treasure Vase Breathing exercise? By practicing, I am now able to hold my breath for more than two minutes. Furthermore, I have experienced various auspicious signs such as overcoming a feeling of icy coldness in my hands and feet. Now my hands and feet feel warm.
A: Being able to hold your breath for two minutes and the warm feeling in your hands and feet are good signs. As for feeling tired after practicing Treasure Vase Breathing, you will need to figure that out yourself. I have asked five people here about this and no one felt tired after performing theTreasure Vase Breathing exercise. I really don’t have the answer to your question. You can always take a nap if you feel tired.
Grandmaster continued with a discourse on Lamdre. Grandmaster explained that, in meditation, practitioners face two obstacles.
The obstacle of afflictions: One is unable to concentrate because of afflictions. Being unable to concentrate results in the inability to meditate. What are the afflictions? Wealth, lust, fame, food, sleep, greed, anger, ignorance, and all kinds of difficulties are the afflictions. Practitioners must remove these afflictions. If this is not possible, then try to set them aside and ignore them.
The obstacle of what is known: For example, a practitioner knows that meditation plays an important role in gaining enlightenment. So in meditation, he consciously focuses but to no avail. This deliberate meditation then becomes an obstacle to meditation. During meditation, do not have thoughts of wanting to enter the meditation. Just sit peacefully.
Everyone should be spontaneous and go with the flow. This is the key point. Go to sleep when feeling tired. When full of energy, take a walk while reciting a mantra. Meditate when one is neither overly energetic nor drowsy. It is easier to enter Samadhi in this way. Go take a mantra-recitation walk when feeling tight. Go take a nap when feeling too relaxed. By reacting with flexibility according to one’s current state, whether too tight or too loose, one will be able to enter samadhi. This will overcome the obstacles of afflictions and what is known.
The obstacle of afflictions is when too many afflictions run through one’s mind continuously. The obstacle of what is known is awareness of performing meditation. One must not think of meditating. In this way, one will be able to concentrate and enter the samadhi.
After discoursing the two obstacles to meditation, Grandmaster went on with a discourse on guiding the qi in one’s body. Grandmaster pointed out that the body will be painful if one’s channels are blocked. To unblock one’s channels, one must locate the “channel knot” causing the blockage and pain in one’s body. For example, if one has back pain, locate the knot then direct qi to untie the knot. Using a rosary as an example, Grandmaster picked up a rosary and tied a knot in it. Grandmaster demonstrated that qi will not flow freely if there is a knot. One will feel pain in the area where the blockage occurs. How do beginners overcome this pain? One may direct one’s qi to the affected area. Or, one can use one’s hand to put pressure on the channel knot and untie the knot by massaging the painful area. The pain will subside when the knot relaxes, opens, and qi can once again flow freely through one’s channels. When one massages the channel knot, it will hurt. However, the pain will stop when the knot opens. For those who cultivate qi, wherever there is pain, just let one’s qi shake and vibrate the area until the channel knot opens up. If one is unable to direct one’s qi, or if one’s qi isn’t strong enough, slapping the area will also open the channel up. Beside directing qi to the affected area, another way to untie a channel knot is to open the knot by performing the Vajra Fist.
Last but not least, Grandmaster pointed out that per the governor of Washington, COVID-19 restrictions mandated by government authorities will be lifted on May 31. However, this date may change depending on how the situation unfolds.
Grandmaster is of the opinion that as a result of the events in the past few months, everyone is now suffering and quite possibly living off their life savings. Is there anyone or any country that has not been affected and is still carrying on business as usual?
Grandmaster considers the epidemic to be “equality” in the sense that we are all in the same boat. Grandmaster and Shimu, who are blessed with good health and not infected with COVID-19, consider themselves fortunate to be able to greet everyone from the Dharma throne. What a blessing! One can perform Dharma practice during this period of downtime. One can practice meditation, recite mantras, chant the Buddha’s name, and complete the Four Preliminaries Practice. These months of downtime can be truly fortunate!
By using downtime to cultivate Dharma practice, one’s isolation will be put to a positive use. Downtime can be transformed into productive time. This is extremely important!
Grandmaster and Dharma practitioners who dedicate their time to Dharma practice can consider the COVID-19 outbreak to be fortunate. If one makes the best of the epidemic to cultivate Dharma, one’s attainment will be extraordinary. One will receive the blessings of buddhas and bodhisattvas, and boundless, infinite light will radiate from one’s body.
Grandmaster encourages everyone to take advantage of this period of isolation to cultivate the Dharma and purify one’s soul. This will be the greatest good luck and good fortune.
As usual, following the Dharma discourse Grandmaster compassionately blessed disciples on the scene as well as those present via the live webcast. Our most sincere gratitude and thanks to Grandmaster for bestowing his blessings and this precious Dharma discourse on disciples.
Translated by the TBTTs
Translator: Lynn Ang
Editors: Henry Wolf and DJ Chang