May 23, 2020 Q&A with Grandmaster

May 23, 2020 Dharma King Lian-sheng Discourse at Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple, Seattle

《TBS Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple, Seattle》
The twilight sky above Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple in Seattle appeared clear and bright as ever at 8 PM on Saturday. It was against this backdrop of evening sky that Grandmaster and Shimu arrived together at the main hall of the founding temple. With three sticks of incense, Grandmaster paid homage to the buddhas, bodhisattvas, Dharma protectors, devas and nagas. The prayer marked the start of the highly anticipated Saturday night Dharma discourse that tens of thousands of disciples have been looking forward to.

During merit dedication at the perfect and dignified simplified practice, Grandmaster specially prayed that the principal deity Medicine Buddha, Sunlight Bodhisattva, Moonlight Bodhisattva, Medicine King Bodhisattva, Supreme Medicine Bodhisattva, the 12 Yaksa Generals of Medicine Buddha, and their retinues would radiate light to eradicate the COVID-19 pandemic. Grandmaster also prayed for a vaccine to be developed swiftly so that sentient beings can become immunized against the COVID-19 virus to avoid the infectious disease. Last but not least, Grandmaster prayed for blessings on all earthly sentient beings and the deliverance of netherworld beings to the buddha pure land.

Following the simplified practice, Grandmaster answered questions submitted by disciples online.
Q: What is the wisdom of the worldly truth? What is the wisdom of the absolute truth ?
A: There are two stages in learning Vajrayana, namely, the generation stage and the completion stage. Worldly truth is associated with the saha world, that is, the human realm. Therefore, worldly wisdom refers to the wisdom gained from learning knowledge in the mundane world such as the study from grade school to graduate school.
Absolute truth refers to spiritual knowledge which leads to attainment of Buddhahood. This supramundane wisdom is the wisdom of arhats, pratyekabuddhas, bodhisattvas and buddhas.

Q:

  1. In the Smoke Offering Practice, are offerings made to buddhas and bodhisattvas or to karmic creditors?
  2. Also regarding the Smoke Offering Practice, does one perform 21 recitations of “Om, ah, hum” concurrent with reciting “Lang, yang, kang”? Or does one first perform 21 recitations of “Om, ah, hum” while visualizing offerings filling the universe, followed by 21 recitations of “Lang, yang, kang” while visualizing offerings to karmic creditors?
A:
  1. A smoke offering is similar to an incense offering which can be offered to ancestors as well as buddhas and bodhisattvas. Therefore, it is fine to perform the Smoke Offering Practice as an offering to buddhas and bodhisattvas. However, the ingredients of the powder or incense used in a smoke offering to buddhas and bodhisattvas should be of superior quality, whereas ordinary ingredients can be used in a smoke offering to karmic creditors. If one intends to remove karmic obstacles by making a smoke offering to karmic creditors or obstructing ghosts and spirits, the censer one uses for smoke offering must not be placed in front of the deities at the shrine. Instead, one should place the smoke offering censer in an open, outdoors location, such as a balcony. One visualizes the smoke transforming into food, clothing, housing and transportation. This is how one makes a smoke offering to karmic creditors.
  2. With respect to “Om, ah, hum”, “Om” is the universe. The entirety of the vast Dharma realm is contained in “Om”. “Ah” is transformation into one, that is, the Dharma realm transforms into one. “Hum” is all the myriad sentient beings.
    Therefore, “Om” is large, representing the Dharma realm, “Ah”is medium, representing the principal deity, and “Hum” is small, representing sentient beings. Actually, “Om, ah, hum” has many meanings. The correlation of “Om, ah, hum” to the Dharma realm, the principal deity, and sentient beings, is just one meaning.
    As for the mantra “Lang, yang, kang”, “Lang” refers to fire, “Yang” refers to wind, and “Kang” refers to emptiness. “Lang, yang, kang” means the fire burns it up, the wind blows it away, and all is transformed into emptiness. In other words, it is a transformation of fire, wind, and emptiness.
    Prior to reciting “Lang, yang, kang”, one should perform 21 recitations of “Om, ah, hum” and visualize the offerings filling the universe. One then performs 21 recitations of “Lang, yang, kang” and visualizes the offerings transforming into smoke. This ritual carries a rich meaning.
    By reciting “Lang, yang, kang”, fire and wind transform one’s offerings into smoke. By reciting “Om, ah, hum”, one’s offerings fulfills the void, the Dharma realms, the personal deity and all sentient beings. In other words, “Om, ah, hum” transforms one’s offerings into an offering as vast as a boundless ocean of clouds.

Q: How does one release one’s soul from one’s body? What conditions apply to this release?
A: To release the soul, one must first open one’s crown aperture. The movement of soul within one’s body is often misunderstood as the release of soul from one’s body when, in fact, the soul has not actually left the body.
The first step is to cultivate Phowa Practice to open the crown aperture.
The next step is to use one’s qi to move the soul out of one’s crown aperture. As the soul departs, a silver colored chain follows it out of the body. Should one suddenly decide to return, one can do so by pulling the silver chain which causes the soul to return to one’s body.
This practice poses a dangerous risk. If the silver chain breaks, the soul will be unable to return to the body and one will suddenly die. Therefore, practicing so the soul leaves the body is dangerous! If one has not attained spiritual union with the Guru, personal deity, and Dharma protector, do not, under any circumstances, perform this practice!
Should one’s soul encounter a mighty ghost king, one risks becoming a slave of ghosts if kept as the ghost king’s minion. One should release one’s soul out of the body only when one has attained the protection of the Guru, personal deity, and Dharma protector.
After opening the crown aperture, visualize the personal deity atop one’s crown with his foot on the crown aperture, preventing the soul from exiting the body. When one’s soul arrives at the pure land, that will be the very last time the soul exits the body.

Q: If, after a lengthy period of cultivation, a practitioner is still unable to see light points during meditation, is there any other way to see light points? Would it be acceptable if light points are seen through Dream Yoga?
A: The light point one sees is prajna light. The prajna lights form into a chain and then become a vajra screen. One’s personal deity and the deity’s mandala appear within the screen.
After the inner fire is successfully ignited, it ascends to the crown aperture where bodhicitta moon fluid is stored. This bodhicitta moon fluid is namely light drops. There are also light drops in the brow chakra, throat chakra, heart chakra, navel chakra, and sacral chakra. As the inner fire ascends, it melts and merges with light drops. When the inner fire merges with the light drops, light is produced.
So, how does one see light points? When the inner fire ascends, it comes into contact with light drops. The light drops dissolve and melt into the inner fire. The light points are produced when the inner fire integrates with the light drops.
The light points can be seen with the eyes open or closed. They can also be seen during meditation or in a dream. With your eyes closed, many points appear before you. These points may be red, blue, or white. As they gather together, they form a vajra screen. At other times, light points appear as densely packed orbs. Eventually, the personal deity will appear before one.

Q: I have been cultivating Vajrasattva Practice for a year. Vajrasattva radiating light blessed my family and I in my dream on the first day of the Lunar New Year. Should I now cultivate Root Guru Yoga or should I continue with Vajrasattva Practice?
A: Grandmaster is Padmakumara and also Vajrasattva. Adibuddha is the first level vajra holder. The Five Buddhas are the second level vajra holders. However, if the Five Buddhas are considered in order, then they are the second, third, fourth, fifth, and sixth vajra holders. Vajrasattva would be the seventh vajra holder and Grandmaster would be the eighth vajra holder.
One may therefore integrate the practice of Guru Yoga with Vajrasattva Practice; the guru merges with Vajrasattva and Vajrasattva merges with the guru. In other words, one may practice Guru Yoga and Vajrasattva Practice as one integrated practice.
The key cultivation formula is to visualize Vajrasattva sitting atop one’s crown, then visualize the guru entering Vajrasattva. Vajrasattva then descends to one’s heart, that is, the guru and Vajrasattva enter one’s heart. One then recites the Guru Mantra alongside the Vajrasattva Mantra. This is integrated practice.
When becoming one with Vajrasattva, one also becomes one with the Guru. Both are in one’s heart. In other words, one is simultaneously the guru and Vajrasattva. This is the integrated practice of Guru Yoga and Vajrasattva.

Q: Can disciples who just received refuge empowerment dive straight into the cultivation of the Four Preliminary Practices and Guru Yoga? Or, is a separate empowerment required for the Four Preliminary Practices and Guru Yoga?
A: After receiving refuge empowerment from Grandmaster, one may begin to cultivate the Four Preliminary Practices. The Six Preliminary Practices incorporate the Four Preliminary Practices, Guru Yoga and Dharma protector practice. Separate empowerments are required for Guru Yoga and Dharma protector practice.

Following the Q&A session, Grandmaster incisively expounded the Lamdre.
Grandmaster explained that Two Paths of Practice are the Five Paths and the 37 Factors of Enlightenment. The Five Paths here are the same Five Paths stated in the sutras.They are the Path of Accumulation, the Path of Preliminary Practices, the Path of Seeing, and the Path of Cultivation. Finally, there is the Transcendental Path, namely the Absolute Path.

The Two Paths also progress by stages beginning with the Fourfold Refuge and proceeding in stages to spiritual union with the Guru, Dharma protector, personal deity, inner practice, Highest Yoga Tantra, heruka practice, and finally, the Great Perfection practice.

The basis of the Path of Accumulation is to “Create no evil, cultivate all good”. In Vajrayana, preliminary practice refers to those practices one cultivates in the beginning stage.

Following the preliminary practices is the Path of Seeing. What is the Path of Seeing? It is the awakening that comes after long cultivation of the preliminary practices. The Path of Seeing is enlightenment.

After the Path of Seeing comes the post-awakening stage of cultivation. The final stage is the transcendental or absolute path. In this stage, one’s attainment is as an arhat, a pratyekabuddha, a bodhisattva or a buddha, which is the highest state.

Actually, the Two Paths are one path. The two paths can merge and be cultivated as a single path. It’s only a question of stages along the path.

Grandmaster then expounded Buddhist teachings by telling a few jokes.

Grandmaster continued on to explain that the teachings of the Sixth Patriarch Huineng belong to the method of sudden enlightenment whereby one directly recognizes one’s Buddha-nature, and actualizes the Buddha-nature.

In contrast, Master Shenxiu, a patriarch of the Zen school, taught the method of gradual enlightenment. Instead of directly talking about Buddha-nature, Master Shenxiu advocated self-purification through gradual cultivation of the eyes, ears, nose, speech, body, and mind. Upon total purification, one’s Buddha-nature will manifest. This is the underlying principle of Master Shenxiu’s teaching of gradual enlightenment. Both teachings are considered Buddhadharma. If, unlike a practitioner of great natural capacity, one is unable to directly manifest one’s Buddha-nature, one should diligently practice purification.

Following the Dharma discourse, Grandmaster compassionately empowered the Great Compassion Dharani water and blessed temple staff and everyone present via the live webcast.

Just as Grandmaster pointed out in a humorous story, in this world, only merging with the buddhas and bodhisattvas is truly everlasting. Only merging one’s buddha-nature in the ocean of the buddha realm can be called eternal. The only way to an eternal life together is to meet in heaven.

Our most sincere gratitude and thanks to Grandmaster for his precious and unsurpassed Dharma discourse. In order to attain an eternal life together, let us all diligently cultivate Buddhadharma so we will meet in Maha Twin Lotus Ponds in the future!




Translated by TBTTs
Translator: Lynn Ang
Editors: Henry Wolf and DJ Chang

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