January 4, 2020, Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Group Cultivation
The Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva Group Cultivation on January 4 marked the first session of many to come in 2020. What was heartening to see was: many Indians in the Seattle region came to Ling Shen Ching Tze to take refuge under Grandmaster. That was a good start for the new year!
In fact, just a few days ago, during the countdown to the New Year, Grandmaster had made the remark, “Let’s see if there are new faces in 2020.” True enough, for the past two days, many Indian families came to pray and to ask Grandmaster about their personal matters. They were grateful to Grandmaster for his compassion and powers, which helped the adults and children in the families.
With the blessings of the lineage dharma stream, that day’s cultivation session was a success. The discourse started with Grandmaster remarking that in life, one cannot control what happens to oneself or whom one meets. Sometimes, things just happen against one’s wishes; sometimes, things just happen when one least expects them to. It is as though the Heavens decide to play with us by messing with our destinies. It is the same with lottery: many people did not strike lottery despite spending a lot of money; others struck lottery when they bought on a whim with no expectation to win. However, despite the whimsical nature of life, we still must continue to cultivate diligently, for only we ourselves can change our fate. We must emulate Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva who is well-known for diligence.
The Six Paramitas are: Generosity (Giving), Morality (Upholding the precepts), Endurance, Diligence [with no retrogression], Meditation, and Wisdom.
In each of the Paramitas, the element of diligence is undeniably present. In fact, it is the motivating force behind the practice of the Six Paramitas. Grandmaster gave an example: everyday, he would be diligent in painting, writing, spiritual cultivation, practicing ‘ruwo woru’ [entering of the deity into oneself and releasing of oneself into the cosmic consciousness]. He would also chant mantras and sutras as well as enter samadhi. Not a day is wasted. No matter how late or how tired he is at the end of each day, he would ensure that whatever that is supposed to be done that day or whatever homework that is supposed to be completed that day, must be accomplished. There must be no procrastination till the following day; even if there is insufficient time, Grandmaster feels duty-bound to accomplish the tasks. Grandmaster would write two pages of articles everyday, and in 50 days, he would complete a book. Currently, he is writing Book #277. This kind of perseverance is akin to the spirit of Ksitigarbha. The same kind of perseverance applies to Grandmaster’s succoring of sentient beings in this samsaric world. It is his inherent responsibility.
Grandmaster never takes leave from any activity or ceremony. Even in Taiwan, when he was ill for some time, he would go about presiding over ceremonies at Taiwan Lei Tsang Temple. After each ceremony, he would proceed to touch the crowns of disciples for about two hours.
Grandmaster said, he takes a leaf out of Ksitigarbha’s book -- the spirit of diligence. Only with diligence can one achieve attainment. If one is lazy, then even if one has the best spiritual background, one cannot hope to achieve attainment. There is greatness in making a point to do small tasks very well everyday. While one should not be self-deprecating, one should not be vindictive or go about comparing. Shakyamuni Buddha once said, “Don’t compare based on size.” There is no need to compare who is greater. According to Shakyamuni Buddha, the greatness in a person lies in his or her ability to synchronize with Tao (The Way). A person is the greatest if he or she accomplishes spiritual union with Tao, or with the Buddha or Yidam. Actually, it is all about cultivating the ‘Right Understanding and the Right View’.
Next, Grandmaster discoursed on the Lamdre.
When one gives to others, there is compassion to assist others. This pertains to accumulating merits that will lead to future blessings. In terms of spiritual cultivation, if one based it on one’s body altar, one can be said to be embarking on inner cultivation. This is because one is cultivating spiritually based on one’s supreme body.
When one uses the bodily channels in the supreme-body cultivation, one validates the Nirmāṇakāya Body. When one uses the Words [seed syllables] in the body, one validates the Saṃbhogakāya Body. When one uses dew drops (Lightdrops), one validates the Dharmakaya Body. The Qi that one practices denotes the start of affinity of the Intrinsic Body.
The above-mentioned are the four bodies of Buddha-Fruition. Based on the supreme affinity arising from the body altar, the four bodies of Buddha-Fruition are validated.
The Lamdre mentioned:
“The dependent origination is true, and there are true dharma methods pertaining to the Body, Speech and Mind which a yogi can use to listen and contemplate, to practice at the learning place, to get empowerment, and to meditate, among others. These are purifying tools that the yogi truly possesses.”
• The ‘dependent origination’ refers to the starting of affinity;
• ‘Listen and contemplate’ pertains to the careful listening and reflection of the Buddha’s discourse;
• ‘The learning place’ refers to the place where the yogi can practice, with complete reliance on the Guru,
• ‘Empowerment’ refers to the granting of permission by the Guru to the disciples to practice certain dharma according to their advancement along the stages of spiritual cultivation.
The four types of empowerments in Tantrayana are: the first-level empowerment refers to the granting of permission for a person to embark on the development stage of the cultivation of dharma. The second-level empowerment refers to the granting of permission for a person to learn the completion stage of the dharma. The third-level empowerment refers to the granting of permission for a person to practice the Highest Yoga Tantra. The fourth-level empowerment refers to the granting of permission for a person to practice the dharma that leads to Great Perfection and near-attainment.
Meditation is ‘Entering Samadhi’, and this is a very important aspect in spiritual cultivation. In the entering of the Buddha into oneself, and the entering of oneself into the Buddha, a spiritual union of both parties takes place. They become ‘one’. This ‘one’ will then be transformed to ‘zero’.
‘One’ is absolute, and it is considered as meditation. In the learning of Buddhism, a person will eventually learn to practice meditation. A similar concept is applicable to Taoism. In Taoism, there are the Three Treasures of ‘Essence, Qi and Spirit’ -- one practices the Essence to transform it to Qi; one practices the Qi to transform it to Spirit. One practices the Spirit to return to the cosmic space. One practices on the cosmic space to return to the Tao (Way). Finally, one is in union with the Tao. Such spiritual union denotes true meditation, and no words can describe it properly. Only a cultivator who practices meditation and has reached this stage of spiritual cultivation would be able to experience [true meditation]. A yogi who endeavors to purify himself or herself should take up true meditation.
In Tantrayana, the purification of the body, speech and mind is done respectively via pure visualization, chanting of mantras and forming of mudras. In other words, the three methods of the body, speech and mind are used to practice spiritual cultivation.
Meditation means being in a state of focus anytime and anywhere. There is no necessity to sit still in order to meditate. When Grandmaster writes, he is focused. When he draws, he is focused too, because otherwise, mistakes will arise. Thus, as a cultivator, one must be in meditation at any one time, as this means one is focused.
Focus can take place when one is walking or sleeping. Such ‘continuous meditation’ means that one is constantly in the meditative state. One merges with the ‘four actions’ -- the ‘four actions’ are Qi, bodily channels, Lightdrops and Words (seed syllables). The start of affinity denotes the spiritual experiences of the yogi; the start of affinity occurs with the congregation of bodily channels, Qi and Bodhi.
In this world, there are many things which we feel are unfair, but they are in fact, all due to arising affinity. One must take note of the arising affinity because it has everything to do with the cause-and-effect which the Buddha expounded before. Why do some people work hard and yet they do not earn much? Why do people earn a lot without working very hard for the money? We must not blame others. Spiritual cultivation is therefore very important. We do not need to wish for something that we desire; everything will naturally fall in place.
Actually, all is fair in this world. Grandmaster said he is short, and this was due in part to poor nutrition when he was young. However, more importantly, in a previous life, Grandmaster had siphoned off some materials to get some monetary benefits out of the building of a stupa. The cause-and-effect is clear – he is short in this lifetime. This is also the start of affinity.
Buddhism talks about the start of affinity, and eventually, the intrinsic nature of affinity will be empty. Hence, at the utmost realm, the start of affinity is intrinsically empty [some writers refer this as dependent-arising emptiness-of-nature].
Eventually, in life, a cultivator must emulate Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva in the spirit of diligence. One must not be lazy as one goes about doing one's daily chores. In whatever one does, one must not depart from meditation. One must persevere in daily spiritual cultivation, ‘ruwo woru’, and meditation. In the future, one will achieve attainment of the Buddha or Yidam. If one is diligent and persevering, one will establish the affinity for attainment in the future.