Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Principal Deity Group Practice at Seattle Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple on Feb. 6, 2021
#TBS Report from Seattle Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple
Although the cold winter rain in Seattle was still lingering, Seattle Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple (LSCTT) brought everyone infinite warmth with its charming colorful lantern lights and ribbon balls decorating the temple inside and out for the celebration of the approaching Lunar New Year. The melodious Padmakumara Mantra commenced, filling the quiet night with a solemn hymn. HH Living Buddha Lian-sheng Sheng-yen Lu walked peacefully towards the shrine, leading participants to pay homage to the deities.
Following the group cultivation, Grandmaster discoursed that the “Chapter of Incarnations Assembly" in the Ksitigarbha Sutra tells us that Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva has many incarnations. In fact, all buddhas and bodhisattvas manifest many incarnations for the purpose of undertaking bodhi activities.
Through a joke, Grandmaster discoursed that what is truly useful in studying Buddhism is to attain Buddhahood, not just obtaining a master or doctor degree in Buddhism. Believing everything in books is worse than having no books at all. Attainment resulting from listening to a Dharma teaching and putting the teaching into practice is what counts.
To merely listen to countless teachings but not practice is useless. Therefore, among hearing, contemplation, and cultivation, cultivation is of utmost importance!
Grandmaster then answered disciple questions collected from the Interaction Is Power Event.
Q: In terms of deliverance, some disciples are able to deliver themselves on their own, some are delivered by Grandmaster at the end of their life, some are delivered from the underworld, some are delivered by their personal deity, some are delivered by Grandmaster after being guided to Grandmaster through their personal deity, and some are delivered by dakinis. Could Grandmaster explain why there are so many different types of deliverance?
A: It is similar to how people get to Seattle. People come to Seattle from various places. They fly, come by ship, drive, or even ride a bicycle. Each person is different. By the same token, rebirth in the Buddhaland is the result of different karma for different people. As long as one longs for the pure land, one can arrive there.
If one is self-reliant, that is, if one has sufficient ability of self-deliverance, one can go when one is ready to go. Some are delivered at the end of their lives, some are delivered from the netherworld... etc. When you are in the underworld, can you still recite a buddha name? When King Yama asks who you took refuge in, will you remember to reply that you took refuge in Grandmaster Lu? When King Yama asks if you can chant the Guru Mantra, you answer yes, Om. Guru. Lian-sheng. Siddhi. Hum! Grandmaster will then appear immediately in the underworld and deliver you to the pure land. Recently, in fact, many dakinis brought those spirits to Grandmaster.
If one has attained spiritual union with one’s personal deity, one’s personal deity will appear to deliver one. If one has not attained spiritual union with one’s personal deity and the dakini does not recognize one, one will fall into the underworld. If one can remember the master in whom one took refuge, and the Guru Mantra, one will have an opportunity to be saved! If one does not remember anything, one will not be saved.
Q: Prthivi, Earth Mother Bodhisattva, and Earth God are all earth deities. Therefore, would reciting Earth God Mantra invoke Prthivi or be the same as reciting Prthivi Mantra ? Are the Prthivi and the Earth Mother of the same origin, but embody different images? Is District God an earth god or a god of the underworld? When worshiping the district god, can one recite the Earth God Mantra?
A: The Prthivi, Earth Mother Bodhisattva, and Earth God each have their own mantra. Although they are all earth deities, the divine rank of Prthivi and Earth Mother are very high, whereas the divine rank of the Earth Gods is the lowest of all. Therefore, reciting the Earth God Mantra is not equivalent to reciting the Prthivi Mantra. As stated in the scriptures, the Earth Mother Bodhisattva is equivalent to the wife of the Prthivi. The District God belongs to the god of the underworld, and the divine rank of the District Gods is higher than that of the Earth Gods. A District God is the god of a district. For example, the District God of Seattle is called "Prefecture District God", the district gods of the entire Washington state are called "State District God", LSCTT is in Redmond, a city in King County, Washington. Therefore, the district god of King County is called "County District God." The district gods have levels.
Grandmaster further explained: The Earth God Mantra is also very powerful.
The Earth God is the god who guards your house, village, and town. A village has earth gods of the four directions, that is, a village is protected by four earth gods.
Q: At the beginning of practicing Treasure Vase Qi, I was mistakenly taught, resulting in qi entering my uterus. How can I expel the qi?
A: When practicing Treasure Vase Qi, one first visualizes oneself as being empty. One’s body is empty. Pay no attention to where the uterus is. There are no internal organs, nor blood vessels. There is nothing whatsoever. One’s body is merely a shell, that is, a shape containing three channels; a central channel, a left channel, and a right channel. The left and right channels connect to the central channel at the navel chakra, When one inhales and holds the breath, qi will enter the central channel from the left and right channels.
One should not visualize the Treasure Vase Qi entering the uterus. One should visualize qi entering the central channel. However, as I mentioned previously, female practitioners practicing Treasure Vase Qi should visualize qi entering the central channel at heart chakra. This is because Treasure Vase Qi is fierce. When practicing Treasure Vase Qi, qi in proximity to the uterus can potentially disrupt the menstrual cycle or cause bleeding, even metrorrhagia. Therefore, female practitioners should visualize qi entering the left and right nostrils, going into the left and right channels, then entering the central channel at the heart chakra. Don't think about the heart. Just think about the central channel and qi entering the central channel at the heart chakra.
After the Q&A session, Grandmaster continued to discourse Lamdre. The beginning stage of seeing the Tao is the Stage of Rejoicing, namely seeing the Tao. In Sutrayana, there are only ten stages of bodhisattva. When one reaches the 11th stage, one is considered to have attained Buddhahood. In Lamdre, beside the ten stages of bodhisattva, there are also 11th, 12th, and 12 1/2 stages. "25 divisions" means "25 bodhi divisions", which is a detailed description of the bodhi levels. The Five Paths are the Path of Accumulation, the Path of Preparation, the Path of Seeing, The Path of Cultivation, and finally, the Path of No More Learning.
The 1st to the 6th stages of bodhisattva are the bottle empowerment. The 7th to the 10th stages are the secret empowerment. The 11th and the 12th stages belong to wisdom empowerment. The remaining half stage is the fourth empowerment.
The initial stage to the 6th stage is referred to as the development stage. The 7th to 10th stages are the four stages of practicing self-blessing. This is the teaching whereby one transforms into one’s personal deity. A “mandala wheel” is a mandala that has a round interior and a square exterior. The mandala wheel, namely the prajna light, is the teaching of the 11th and 12th stages. The teaching of the 12 1/2 stage is the Vajra Wave. What is the Vajra Wave? When Grandmaster was discoursing The Great Exposition of Tantras, Tsongkhapa appeared to bless Grandmaster. The light around Tsongkhapa was densely packed. That light was vajra wave light.
Grandmaster used his own cultivation experience as an example. When buddhas and bodhisattvas descended to bless Grandmaster, this was the development stage. When Grandmaster transformed into his personal deity, it was self-blessing. When Grandmaster transformed into a wheel, sitting in the prajna light, this was the mandala wheel . Then when the vajra wave appeared, all the Dharma boats ascended into space, heading towards the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds. That was the vajra wave.
If dividing the stages by pure lands, the 1st through 6th stages are liberation in the emanation-body pure land; the 7th through 10th stages are liberation in the reward-body pure land; the 11th and 12th stages are liberation in the Dharma-body pure land; the 12 ½ stage is liberation in the ultimate-body pure land. If divided by the four sub-lands of the Amitabha pure land, they correspond to pure land where saints and ordinary beings dwell together, pure land of expedient liberation, pure land of real reward, and pure land of eternally quiescent light.
If dividing the stages by the mandala, the first six stages are the present-body mandala. The 7th-10th stages are the present channel Mandala, and the mandala of Dharma. The channel stands for Dharma. The 11th and the 12th stages are the present bodhicitta mandala, which can be represented by bodhicitta. The 12 1/2 stage is the mandala that integrates the Tathagata’s essence of the three times of past, present, and future. This is divided by mandala.
In the first six stages, there is no difference between samsara and nirvana. In the 10th stage, all karma has been eliminated. When reaching the 12th stage, one enters emptiness, realizing bliss is emptiness and emptiness is bliss. In the remaining half stage, there is a vast emptiness and bliss, which is a relatively large and vast emptiness and bliss. These stages are divided by objective. According to the various objectives, there are also causes, validation, fruition, and conclusions, which are summaries.
There is also a special meaning in the respective realm. What is the objective of the pure land where saints and ordinary beings dwell together? The objective is to have saints influence ordinary people-if you lie down with dogs, you will get up with fleas. Therefore, if one still has karma, Amitabha Buddha delivers one to the co-dwelling land of the Western Paradise. One sees and learns from the saints, and one’s karma is eradicated. One then enters the pure land of expedient liberation. Later, one enters the higher level of pure land of real reward. At this stage, one is majestic and radiates light. When one enters the land of perpetual quiescent light, one has attained Buddhahood. One has become Amitabha. These all are the objectives.
After the discourse, everyone paid homage to the deities on the shrine. This was followed by Grandmaster blessing the participants. The group practice was auspicious and complete!