June 13, 2020, Dharma Discourse of Living Buddha Lian-sheng at Seattle Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple
【TBS Seattle Report】
On Sat., June 13, 2020, following a simplified practice, Living Buddha Lian-sheng Sheng-yen Lu discoursed the Buddhadharma. First, Grandmaster mentioned that we are currently facing three major social issues: the COVID-19 pandemic; economic recession; and racial discrimination. Grandmaster said that human beings are equal. Racial discrimination is a prejudice. All living things are equal because they have the Buddha-nature.
Grandmaster continued by answering questions submitted by disciples:
Q: Is there a complete sadhana for the Chod Practice of Machig Labdron? The only materials available online are Machig Labdron related Dharma discourses and visualization practices. There doesn’t seem to be a complete sadhana.
A: The Chod Practice of Machig Labdron transmitted by Grandmaster includes the mantra, stages of visualization, and the mudra. Together, these constitute a complete sadhana.
I previously mentioned that Machig Labdron emanates as a black, wrathful Buddha Mother holding a kartika which she uses to sever the practitioner's head and the four limbs. The practitioner's head becomes enormous and the bones become a trestle. In a fire, the body is placed into a kapala and burned into red nectar which is offered to the Ten Dharma Realms. This is an abscission practice. When practicing sacrifice of body, one enters the realm of no-self. In this realm, there is neither mind nor consciousness; one dissolves into a relaxed and unperturbed state of “not abiding anywhere”. One’s consciousness merges with the cosmic consciousness of the universe, namely the Buddha-nature, original enlightenment, Mahamudra, and the Great Perfection. We should have a complete sadhana. [The Chinese version of the sadhana is available on ch.tbsn.org. The English version is being translated and will be available soon.]
Q: When practicing a personal deity other than Machig Labdron, may the practitioner additionally perform the visualization of Chod Practice during meditation, then transform into emptiness?
A: One should practice according to the sadhana of the personal deity without adding the visualization of Chod Practice. Personal deity yoga is personal deity yoga, and Machig Labdron Chod Practice is Machig Labdron Chod Practice. Don’t mix or combine different practices.
Q: Presently, many major cities, not to mention urban buildings, have banned temples or Earth God temples from burning joss paper. Even burning a little eco-friendly joss paper can be reported. Under these circumstances, how can practitioners make provision and wealth offerings to the Earth God and netherworld beings?
A: Well, you could just write a check (to be cashed in the netherworld). Burning a check is permissible as long as the check is recognized by our True Buddha School. Writing a check which can be cashed in the netherworld is an environmentally friendly solution.
Q: If the folk custom of certain countries and localities is against burning joss paper on occasions such as Tomb Sweeping Day, Ghost Festival, or other auspicious days for delivering netherworld beings, can a practitioner cultivate, recite sutras and dedicate the merit to delivering netherworld beings instead of burning joss paper?
A: For Vajrayana practitioners in areas where there is opposition to burning joss paper, dedicating the merit of cultivation and sutra recitation is a very appropriate alternative. If one also burns a check, that would be even more wonderful.
Q: At a grand ceremony, Grandmaster bestowed the all-inclusive empowerment of the 21 Taras. However, Grandmaster recently added that, although having received the all-inclusive empowerment, one is still required to receive empowerment for every Tara’s practice. If so, then what practices can a practitioner who received the all-inclusive empowerment of the 21 Taras perform?
A: If one who received all-inclusive empowerment for 21 Taras knew all the key cultivation formulas of the 21 Taras, one can cultivate each one of the 21 Taras. However, one should still cultivate the Taras one by one. If a practitioner wants to learn more key cultivation formulas, the practitioner can request the relevant empowerments from Grandmaster. However, by truly attaining spiritual union with Green Tara, one will attain spiritual union with all of them.
Grandmaster discourse on Lamdre:
Grandmaster discoursed that since this section involves Highest Yoga Tantra, a detailed explanation cannot be given to those who have not received Highest Yoga Tantra empowerment. Therefore, Grandmaster can only provide a brief explanation. In Highest Yoga Tantra, there are three kinds of visualizations. The first is environment visualization or lotus visualization. The second is personal-deity visualization. A male practitioner visualizes his personal deity and the female practitioner visualizes her personal deity. The third is secret-area visualization. This is called “bliss blessed through three visualizations”.
The 12 Lotus Consorts belong to Highest Yoga Tantra, therefore, this section cannot be explained.
When the mind and qi focus on the consort’s secret area, bliss is generated. The Highest Yoga Tantra is about the confluent generation of the purest and ultmost bliss, namely emptiness, transforming into Buddha-nature, and seeing the wisdom of original enlightenment. This is the absolute path of accumulation of true suchness.
Gathering all the causes of meditation is the Path of Accumulation, that is, preparing everything for entering meditation is called the Path of Accumulation. If one cultivates the causes but fails to meditate, then the path is not quite correct, which is the same as not practicing Vajrayana, but rather just cultivating Mahayana. In other words, Reaching the absolute Path of Accumulation through Highest Yoga Tantra is Vajrayana. Without going through this, one has only accumulated the causes for meditation, which is the path of Mahayana Buddhism.
Following the discourse, Grandmaster made a prayer to the buddhas and bodhisattvas: may the COVID-19 pandemic be swiftly eradicated; may the world economy rise up and fly; may there be no more racism; and may everyone live in equality, freedom, and democracy.
Our greatly compassionate Root Guru HH Living Buddha Lian-sheng is constantly concerned about sentient beings in the world. Immersed in his kindness and radiance, disciples admire him from the bottom of their hearts and will follow his teachings.
Translated by TBTTs
Translated by Henry Wolf
Edited by DJ Chang