February 22, 2020, Amitabha Buddha Group Practice
On Saturday, February 22, 2020, the Amitabha Buddha Group Practice took place. After the practice session, Living Buddha Lian-sheng discoursed on the Lamdre.
Grandmaster said, Amitabha is the founder of the Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss. He is known as the Buddha of Infinite Life and the Buddha of Infinite Light because his lifespan is limitless and his brilliance is boundless. Amitabha has many transformations, hence we always chant, “Namo the 36 trillion, 119 thousand, 500 Amitabha Buddhas”. This chant already implies there are countless Amitabhas.
Padmasambhava is a transformation of Amitabha. All Padmakumaras are also transformations of Amitabha, and they will ultimately return to the land of Amitabha in the future.
The lifespans of the beings in Heavens are also long as well. Mahabrahma, for instance, can live up to 100 kalpas. One kalpa is equivalent to one cycle of Earth's formation, maintenance, deterioration and destruction (to emptiness). If a heavenly being can live up to 100 such cycles, then let alone Amitabha, whose lifespan is so long that he becomes known as the Buddha of Infinite Life. He can also shine his infinite brilliance on anything and everywhere; there is nothing which the light cannot reach.
Grandmaster said, every night, he would meet with Amitabha, Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamaprapta. The three deities would appear before him. Avalokitesvara would use her willow stalk to sprinkle water on Grandmaster to bless him. Mahasthamaprapta would use the lotus in his hand to bless Grandmaster, and Amitabha would emit hundreds of rays of brilliance upon Grandmaster. Almost every night, Grandmaster would receive these blessings. In addition, Grandmaster would transform into Amitabha. This is a very clear process known as self-generation. Amitabha also stands opposite, facing Grandmaster (a process known as opposite-generation). Thus, both self- and opposite- generations are present.
Let’s consider the example of the recent coronavirus epidemic. One cannot see the virus as it can only be scrutinized upon magnification many times. The virus is so aggressive that one cannot claim that the virus does not exist just because one does not see it. The truth is, it is there. Similarly, after one has cultivated to a certain level, one is able to see one’s Yidam and know that the Yidam exists.
Next Grandmaster discoursed on the Lamdre.
Grandmaster explained a paragraph of the Lamdre which describes the need to be discerning when a practitioner sees the changing forms of the Personal Deity.
Using his example, the Dharma King said that every night, when he merges with Amitabha, certain phenomena take place. Usually, the Amitabha that appears to Grandmaster is one who holds a lotus in one hand and forms the wish-granting mudra with the other hand. Sometimes, Amitabha does not carry any lotus.
If one’s meditation is not stable enough, one can get skewed images of Amitabha; or, when one invokes Amitabha, others such as Heruka or Mahabalaya appear instead.
However, if one invokes Manjusri, but Yamantaka appears, then this is still fine because Manjusri and Yamantaka are interconnected as they "belong to the same Wheel". To put it simply, they can be likened to classmates in the same class. [Yamantaka is also related to Amitabha].
So the question is, how does one tell if the Vajra Protector that arrives is the real deal? When one meditates, one must chant the Vajra Protector’s secret name or heart mantra three times. If the Vajra Protector does not disappear, then it is real.
Hence, even if Heruka or Mahabalaya appears, one should chant its secret name or mantra to see if it still remains.
Similarly, if one were to dream of Grandmaster, then one should chant the Padmakumara heart mantra three times. If the Grandmaster in the dream does not disappear, then he is real! If the Grandmaster in the dream were to disappear upon one’s chanting of the heart mantra, then it is fake. This denotes that something bad is trying to cause disturbances.
Hence, one can say that the state of meditation is a kind of realm; the state of dreaming is also a kind of realm. Even when one is awake, one is in a kind of realm as well. They can be regarded as ‘situations’ in a sense.
According to the Lamdre, there are speech hindrances in spiritual cultivation. Grandmaster said that Hevajra will appear when a practitioner chants the Hevajra mantra, “Om, die-wa, di-zhu, wa-ri-la, hum hum hum, fa-zha, suo-ha”. However, the practitioner must be on the alert should he or she hear other mantra sounds coming in, or words like, “ha ha ha ha” suddenly manifesting to disturb the practitioner. A demon has come to cause disturbances. If during the chanting of a mantra, there are no disturbances whatsoever, or if the disturbances are coming on irregularly, then the practitioner can just go-with-the-flow.
During the chanting of the Hevajra mantra, if Hevajra appears and shines its light on the practitioner, and even places its hands on the practitioner's crown to assure him or her of future Buddhahood, then all is good. The practitioner must then pray to Hevajra to enable him or her to achieve attainment and become Hevajra. Actually all achievements of the practitioner are dependent on the blessings of the Yidam and the Yidam’s assurance of future Buddhahood to the practitioner. Hence, it is very important to pray for the achievement of attainment. It is equally important, right from the outset, to find the right Guru, the right Yidam and the right Vajra Protector. Once the practitioner finds the right match, then he or she will surely achieve attainment in the future.
Grandmaster peppered his discourse with jokes that serve to enable easy understanding of the essence of Buddha-dharma. After the discourse, Grandmaster bestowed the refuge-taking initiation on the new disciples. He also blessed the compassionate water and performed the consecration ritual on the Buddha statues and images. Before leaving the temple, Grandmaster touched the crown of every disciple in turn. With much gratitude, the disciples thanked the Guru from the bottom of their hearts.