May 16, 2020, Dharma King Lian-sheng Dharma Discourse at Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple, Seattle
#TBS Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple, Seattle
As COVID-19 restrictions mandated by government authorities have yet to be lifted, and with the arrival of Saturday, the time has come again for worldwide disciples of True Buddha School (TBS) to look forward with great joy to seeing Grandmaster and Shimu’s live webcast. On May 16, at the sounding of the singing bowl at 8pm sharp at Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple in Seattle, Grandmaster and Shimu appeared in the webcast brimming with life and energy. This is the happiest moment for TBS disciples!
Firstly, Grandmaster prayed to the Triple Jewels on the shrine and performed a simplified practice. Master Shi Lianwang, the master of ceremonies, represented all participants in presenting a khata to Grandmaster as a sign of highest respect. Grandmaster then paid homage to the lineage gurus, the Triple Jewels on the shrine, Mahabala, Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, and Ksitigarbha’s entire retinue. Grandmaster then greeted everyone in various languages.
After greeting disciples via the webcast, Grandmaster compassionately answered questions submitted by disciples around the world. Following is a summary of the Q&A session:
Q: Grandmaster’s book Pith Teaching to the Path of Liberation discusses Vajra Chanting, a breathing exercise which involves holding one’s breath. In this exercise, while holding the breath, one visualizes an “Ah” syllable ascending to the crown chakra, subsequently descending to the root chakra, then ascending again to the heart chakra. Is this entire process performed as one inhales, or while one is holding one’s breath?
A: When ready to disperse after holding one’s breath for a while, one visualizes “Ah” ascending to the crown chakra, subsequently descending to the root chakra and finally ascending to the heart chakra. Therefore, this should be performed during dispersion. In other words, one should inhale deeply through the nose and hold the breath. When one is ready to disperse, through the strength of dispersion, circulate the breath upwards and downwards. One then exhales through the nose. This process is performed while dispersing. It is not performed while inhaling or while holding one’s breath.
Q: While practicing the Nine Cycle Breathing Exercise, after the inhaled breath reaches the trumpet-shaped opening at the crown through the central channel, does one continue inhaling or begin exhaling while visualizing the qi starting to descend? In addition, can one visualize the central channel in one’s spine to fix the channel?
A: This so-called central channel is actually intangible. Therefore, one does not visualize the spine in the central channel. In fact, when visualizing the three channels, everything inside the body is empty. Do not think there is a heart, a spine, ribs, or lungs. One’s inside is completely empty. When meditating, one visualizes that one’s entire body is empty. One then adds the central, left, and right channels to the emptiness. Taoism is about the spine. In Vajrayana, one transforms everything into emptiness, with nothing remaining except the central, left, and right channels.
In the Nine Cycle Breathing Exercise, visualization is performed with one breath. Grandmaster demonstrated the exercise as follows:
Inhaling from the right nostril.
Exhaling from the left nostril.
Inhaling from the left nostril.
Exhaling from the right nostril.
Inhaling from the right and left nostril.
One visualizes the breath ascending through the central channel to the crown chakra, where it is blocked. It descends and finally exits from both nostrils. Each round of breathing is performed with one breath. There are nine rounds altogether.
Q: During cultivation, when I visualize light radiating from Grandmaster’s brow chakra, throat chakra, and heart chakra to bless me, I often feel I am covered by karmic qi that makes it difficult to visualize the light as powerfully clear and brilliant. Grandmaster please instruct how to eradicate this obstruction to visualization ?
A: When visualizing my personal deities, Golden Mother of the Jade Pond, Amitabha Buddha, or Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, I must visualize the deity clearly. I visualize a white “om” syllable appearing at the deity’s brow point, a red “ah” syllable at the deity’s throat chakra, and a blue “hum” syllable at the deity’s heart chakra. Then, visualize the personal deity appearing before one.
One visualizes three circles. Inside each circle is a mantra syllable. The “om” syllable is white as milk; the “ah” syllable is as red as a red flower; the “hum” syllable is as blue as the sky.
Visualize the personal deity’s brow chakra transforming into a white “om” syllable and emitting white light; the throat chakra transforming into a red “ah” syllable and emitting red light; and the heart chakra transforming into a blue “hum” syllable and emitting blue light. This practice is called Empowerment of the Three Lights. Each time Grandmaster performs this exercise, he receives a spiritual response. One must visualize with great clarity and use self-power to stop one’s distracting thoughts.
Q: Will performing Nine Cycle Breathing too rapidly affect one’s channels and meridians?
A: I have previously mentioned that one’s breathing in Nine Cycle Breathing must be detailed, slow, and long. Why would one want to perform this practice quickly? Only when the practice is performed slowly can one fully concentrate.
When performing Nine Cycle Breathing, one should not inhale like a normal person, that is, only to the throat. Each inhalation should go about one foot long; and each exhalation, one foot out, the same length. Of course, longer is better. The key formula is to be detailed, slow and long. If one’s breathing is too rapid, one’s concentration will suffer. One’s meridians and channels will also be affected.
Q: My family members favor Guan Yu over other deities. They enshrine and worship Guan Yu. If Guan Yu appears to take us at the time of death, should we follow him? Why?
A: Typically at the time of death, the Pure Land Trinity will come to take followers of the Pure Land Sect or other Buddhists. As for one who has attained spiritual union with the personal deity, the personal deity will come to take that person. In Buddhism, Guan Yu, also known as Sangharama, is a protector of a temple. The name “Sangharama” means “temples and monasteries”. Skanda and Sangharama are the protectors of the Buddha. If one cultivates Sangharama as one’s personal deity and Sangharama appears at the time of death to usher one, one, of course, can follow Sangharama.
If the Root Guru, Padmakumara, appears rather than the personal deity, one can follow the Root Guru by entering the Root Guru’s heart. The Root Guru will lead one to Maha Twin Lotus Ponds, the pure land of Padmakumara. If one’s Dharma protector appears, Yamantaka for instance, one can enter Yamantaka’s heart and be delivered to Yamantaka’s pure land, which is the pure land of Manjushri and Amitabha Buddha.
Following the Q&A session, Grandmaster continued with an incisive discourse on Lamdre.
Vajrayana originated in India.Tibetan script was derived from Indian Sanskrit by Brahma, the Lord of Creation. In Tibetan Vajrayana, every personal deity initially appears as a Sanskrit seed syllable, which then revolves and transforms into the personal deity. Sanskrit syllables even show on the personal deity’s forehead, throat, heart and joints.
Cultivating qi refers to Nine Cycle Breathing, Treasure Vase Breathing, and Vajra Chanting, whereas cultivating channels is practicing qi to unblock the channels; cultivating light drops is practicing the descent of the white drops and ascent of the red inner fire drops.
In the beginning cultivation stage of qi, channels, and light drops, one’s channels are obstructed, one’s qi is unrefined, and one’s light drops are contaminated. One’s perceptions, of course, are illusory and false. When one’s cultivation progresses to the intermediate stage, that is, after one has practiced for a certain period, one’s qi, channels and light drops become obvious and firm. At the final stage, as one’s qi, channels, and drops become perfect and flexible, one can see what is near and also far into the distance. When Venerable Xuyun was meditating indoors, he was able to see a monk urinate in the garden outside his room. When one’s qi is abundant and one’s channels are unblocked, one will vividly perceive ascending and descending light drops in the channels. When one’s qi reaches the channels in one’s eyes, light will be produced. At this time, even if one’s eyes are closed, by this light, one can see outside the walls of one’s room.
In the supramundane path, solemn and dignified manifestations will appear during the practitioner’s qi cultivation. For example, last night, Grandmaster was not intending to see Thousand-armed Thousand-eyed Guanyin. He was just visualizing his personal deity Amitabha Buddha to appear, himself transforming into Amitabha Buddha, and attaining spiritual union with Amitabha Buddha. Grandmaster subsequently visualized himself being blessed by Guanyin sprinkling purified water on him and by Mahasthamaprapta’s red light emitted from the lotus bud. Grandmaster then suddenly saw from his right eye a Thousand-armed Thousand-eyed Guanyin appear with her hands stretching out irregularly and holding many implements. The deity kept on changing hand gestures to display various mudras.
As for the supramundane path, one’s power, qi, channels and light drops all become purified. The light which manifests at this time will be extremely vivid and real, thereby producing solemn and dignified manifestations of all kinds.
At the conclusion of the discourse, Grandmaster shared a few jokes to extend the meaning of the Buddhist teachings. Grandmaster also prayed that the buddhas and bodhisattvas would be compassionate toward all sentient beings by swiftly ending the COVID-19 epidemic and easing people back into their normal lifestyle.