March 8, 2020, Shakyamuni Buddha Homa Ceremony,
Lamdre Exposition by Dharma King Lian-sheng
Summary of Dharma Talk
On March 8, 2020, Dharma King Living Buddha Lian-sheng presided over the Shakyamuni Buddha homa ceremony.
Shakyamuni Buddha, known as Siddhartha Gautama before he was ordained, was born on the eighth day of the fourth month in 464 BC (more than 2,500 years from today). He was born, under an ashoka tree in the Lumbini Grove of Jambudvipa in Kapilavastu (geographically, this is South of Nepal today). He was of the Shakya clan where his father, King Shuddhodana, was the leader of the clan. His mother, Queen Mayadevi, who hailed from the Koliya clan, was the sister of King Suppabuddha at Devadaha.
When Shakyamuni Buddha was born, all kinds of rare and marvelous auspicious signs manifested. At the age of 29, he took the ordination vow in his pursuit of the True Way. Shakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment at the age of 35 and spent the next 45 years teaching Buddhadharma. He delivered more than 300 dharma discourses and saved countless humans and devas. In the year 543 BC at the age of 80, Shakyamuni Buddha entered nirvana.
According to the two Vajrayana mandalas, Shakyamuni Buddha is the chief deity in the Womb mandala. In the Diamond mandala, Shakyamuni Buddha occupies the same level as Amoghasiddhi.
According to an article written by the Dharma King, “Shakyamuni Buddha is the Principal Deity of Karma Removal” (Book 54, “The Karma Yoga of Vajrayana”), there are many secret dharma from Shakyamuni Buddha, the greatest of which is the one on removing karmic hindrances.
The Dharma King said, “In the past, many people would ask me what the best dharma to remove karmic hindrances was. There are so many practices that a person can do, so I was caught short for an answer. What immediately came to my mind was Shakyamuni Buddha Merit King Practice.” When one chants the mantra, one can remove 10,000 kalpas of hindrances.
Shakyamuni Buddha's heart mantra is, "Om, mou-ni, mou-ni, ma-ha-mou-ni, shi-jia-mou-ni, so-ha," which means, "The Cosmic Universe’s Shakyamuni Buddha, the Principal Deity. Able to be kind, able to give the most immense kindness, the saint. The kindness of the Shakya clan. Complete perfection of everything."
The mudra is the Three-Mountain Mudra: Place the palms together; bend the index and ring fingers and cross them outside (or inside) the palms, while keeping the rest of fingers straight and touching.
In Shakyamuni Buddha’s life, he was known to turn the dharmachakra in different phases of varying levels. These were during his dharma propagation years, after his enlightenment, and upon his validation of the word, “Buddha”.
Firstly, he taught the practitioners from the Vehicle of Śrāvaka and Pratyekabuddha about the Four Noble Truths of Suffering, Accumulation, Extinction, and Path. The Dharma King said, “The Four Noble Truths are the four gospel truths.”
When Shakyamuni Buddha was turning the dharmachakra of the Mahayana vehicle, he discoursed on the Six Paramitas of giving, discipline, patience, meditation, perseverance, and wisdom.
At the highest level, one must gain awakenment and proceed to actualize it in activities of daily living. Eventually, one will liberate oneself and others. “When you have the perfect and complete liberation of self and others, you will maintain the most perfect and complete mind [heart]. This most perfect and complete mind is known as Bodhicitta,” said the Dharma King.
During Shakyamuni Buddha’s time, he also talked about the Four Holy Realms (catur-ārya).
The Four Holy Realms are the Vehicles of Śrāvaka, Pratyekabuddha, Bodhisattva and Buddha. The Dharma King said, “The Four Holy Realms denote liberation from the cycle of rebirth. Once a person leaves rebirth, this means a kind of eternal attainment.”
Next, the Dharma King discoursed on the Lamdre.
The Lamdre discussed on “differentiating between large and small shadows”. [Shadows means hindrances to the practitioner.] The Dharma King explained, some hindrances are really big, while some hindrances are small. So, what is the definition of “big”?
Let’s take for example, the Five Precepts. Murder creates the greatest hindrance, while drinking liquor creates the smallest hindrance. However, if a person drinks to the extent of being drunk, until he or she commits all kinds of crimes, then the sin becomes very heavy. The Dharma King added, “We must never ‘belittle’ small amounts of drinking -- we cannot drink just because the hindrance is small. Hence, we must abide by our precepts.”
Lamdre’s “omens of shadows” means the omens of hindrances manifested in dreams. Examples are: the Guru scolds the practitioner in a dream; the Guru does not face the practitioner but has his back against him or her; there is always a distance between the Guru and the practitioner; the practitioner wants to be near the Guru but is forever unable to catch up. These are omens in dreams resulting from the practitioner breaking the Samaye precepts.
There are other dream scenes symbolizing omens of:
• Hindrances of demons and ghosts: Dreams of being thunderstruck; dreams of encountering landslides and floods, dreams of seeing ‘falling’ moon or sun;
• Hindrances of bad friends: Dreams of lice, fleas, bugs and insects infesting one’s body;
• Hindrances of wrong foods: Dreams of grey mud or flies contaminating one’s food;
• Hindrances of wrong abodes: Dreams of unclean things or clutter in the house;
• Hindrances of staleness and dullness: Uneasy dreams of corpses or corpses becoming zombies; dreams of the mouth spitting flames.
According to Lamdre, there are “varying degrees of hindrances”:
• For high-degree hindrances: One usually feels unhappy. There is a potential loss of life. Only with empowerment can one eliminate this hindrance;
• For medium-degree hindrances: The body becomes very stiff and heavy, and one is prone to anger and rage. This hindrance causes pain in the body and heart. One can perform offerings to remove this hindrance.
• For low-degree hindrances: When it is time for one to meditate, one is unwilling to do so. One simply feels reluctant to meditate or do a cultivation practice. This hindrance can be removed by bathing with white flowers.
The Dharma King said, the aggressive spread of COVID-19 is a portent of more things to come. It is coincidental that the major ‘victims’ are in countries or areas at 40 degrees north latitude (Seattle, Daegu in South Korea, Hokkaido in Japan, Italy and France). They are also the places where the most Sakura flowers bloom. “Why is there such a coincidence? Somehow, that's a portent of more things to come,” said the Dharma King.
After the ceremony, the Dharma King bestowed the empowerment of the dharma of Shakyamuni Buddha upon everyone. All ended well.