April 4, 2020, dharma discourse by Dharma King Lian-sheng at Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple
In line with the government's latest directives, Seattle Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple has been closed to visitors since a few weeks ago, and all group practice sessions have been suspended. However, the webcast of Grandmaster's discourses will take place instead.
On April 4, 2020, Grandmaster kicked off the first of such webcasts. The propagation of Buddha-dharma via webcast serves to soothe frayed nerves as the COVID-19 contagion continues to rage on.
Grandmaster remarked that in the 76 years of his life, he has never seen such large-scale suffering of human beings before. Many people have died, lost their kinsmen and suffered from diseases. All social interactions have stopped, and everyone lives in fear with no inkling of when this nightmare will end.
At the session, Grandmaster sincerely prayed to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to bless all sentient beings. Repeatedly, he sincerely beseeched Golden Mother, Tiger-Head Vajra Protector, Green Tara, the 21 Taras, and the Tara who saves from contagious diseases, for their compassionate blessings on sentient beings of the six realms. He wished that all the people who have suffered during these trying times need not go through similar hardships again. While he prayed, tears streamed down his face as emotions overwhelmed him.
Grandmaster also made a special dedication to all True Buddha disciples – may they stay healthy and may all wishes come true. He hoped that anything that does not augur well will become auspicious and that the plague will not touch anyone. Grandmaster's concern for every disciple is like that of a father or mother.
Grandmaster said, after hearing the news that hospitals lack masks, Sheng-yen Lu Foundation quickly mobilized fund-raising initiatives. Together with Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple and Rainbow Temple, Sheng-yen Lu Foundation was able to donate 3,390 masks to International Community Health Services (ICHS) on March 27, 2020. Teary-eyed staff, who are currently working on the frontline without masks at all, expressed gratitude at receiving the precious gifts.
Many organizations have also approached Sheng-yen Lu Foundation for assistance. Recently, the Foundation have swiftly deployed funds and resources to frontline aid organizations such as:
• Somali Health Board – Helps with community outreach and coronavirus health literacy efforts.
• HealthPoint – Helps purchase tents for safely conducting COVID-19 testing outdoors.
• Refugees Northwest – Supports COVID-19 telehealth, interpreter, and food resource programs.
• Neighborcare Health – Provides COVID-19 testing tents along with other much needed supplies.
Grandmaster would like to thank community partners and sponsors, which enabled Sheng-yen Lu Foundation to help and reach out to sentient beings in the fight against the pandemic.
Next, Grandmaster continued with the discourse on the Lamdre. He referred to a section in the Lamdre that touches upon the concept of hindrances.
The section introduces four methods in removing "shadows", namely: Empowerment, Offerings (Great Offerings), Bathing, and Cha-chas. The "shadows" refer to "hindrances".
1. Empowerments to remove hindrances: When Grandmaster bestows an empowerment on disciples, it involves the Yidam descending into the empowerment vase. As the Yidam emits the dharma stream, the vase gets filled with non-dying dew droplets, the dew droplets of the Five Wisdoms, and the dew droplets of the lineage dharma stream. When these three kinds of dew droplets are bestowed via empowerment on the disciples, all kinds of hindrances are removed.
2. Great Offerings to remove hindrances: Great Offerings are made to the Yidam, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. After receiving the offerings, the Yidam, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will bless the practitioner and remove hindrances from the latter.
3. Bathing to remove hindrances: Pluck and collate 21 or 49 white flower petals. Upon offering to Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, chant the mantra of the Yidam or the Vajra Protector so as to bless the flower petals. Place the petals on the bathing water [in a bathtub]. After bathing, hindrances to spiritual cultivation pertaining to the mind and body can be removed.
4. Using Cha-chas to remove hindrances: A Cha-cha is a small Buddha statue made of clay and ashes of someone who had attained achievement. First, make 108 statues. Then, invite 10 or more Vajra dharma brothers who are pure in Samaya. Their spiritual cultivation must be pure, and they must not have broken any precepts. The Vajra dharma brothers enter [the room where the shrine is] in order of age; the older ones sit in front, while the younger ones sit at the back. The practitioner then makes offerings to them in order [of age] and tells them what transgressions he or she has committed. The practitioner also sincerely repents and prays for the cleansing of his or her karmic sins. Then, the practitioner takes half of the Cha-chas and places them in the river to send them off. For the other half, he takes them to the mountain top. Hindrances can be removed with this method.
At the end of the discourse, Grandmaster summarized the four methods. He prefers and advocates "empowerments to remove hindrances". Great Offering or Bathing is [equally] supreme in removing hindrances; the use of Cha-chas to remove hindrances may be a little difficult. This is because the sadhana is complex; it is not easy to obtain the ashes of someone who had attained achievement; it is difficult to find 10 Vajra dharma brothers who adhere to precepts; and it is also difficult to make Cha-chas.