Grand Master`s answers to questions raised at the Rainbow Villa on Nov 19, 2006

[Seattle News] Compiled by Shi Lian Yu(釋蓮育) / translated by Pemalot

On Nov 19, 2006, at the Rainbow Villa Great Hall, following Golden Mother Homa, Grand Master answered questions raised by a few disciples as follows.

Disciple: Grand Master, earlier during your teaching after homa, you said that `one homa can be transformed to become thousands of homa`, how?
Grand Master: When I do homa, I visualize the homa altar (burner) in front of me to become a line of burners, a plane, then thousands and thousands of them filling the entire space. I make my offerings and perform visualizations in front of these thousands of homa altars. In this case, one homa offering is the same as thousands of it.

Disciple: Is it true that the offering itself needs to be transformed to become thousands of it?
Grand Master: Yes. Every time I make an offering, I always visualize. Like this lotus flower, you take a platter of it, visualize it to become a line, a plane, then innumerable of them filling the whole space. Then you toss it to the burner. That`s how. In this way you can concentrate. No matter how long it takes, you mind will not wander and you can hold onto your mind. Holding onto your mind means you are concentrating.
Sometimes, when we are practicing or meditating, we are unable to hold onto our minds. In a moment, we think of this, and then we think of that. That is not concentrating (holding onto the mind). Sometimes as we are chanting along, all of sudden a thought arises. Then the mind follows it wandering away. Or something important came up, your mind gets muddled, then you forget [what you were doing].
The thought of holding onto the mind is the thought to concentrate. When you are holding onto the mind then you are concentrating. By doing homa, which employs visualizations, prayers and focusing of the mind, it is very easy to hold onto the mind.

Disciple: Do we need to visualize when we chant?
Grand Master: Of course that is better. Say, when you chant `Amitabha`, it is best to visualize Amitabha Buddha. This way, you are holding onto the mind.

Disciple: When one has become pure while doing homa, can one let go of the mind? Can one let go of awareness?
Grand Master: Only in a very high realm, can one let go of the mind and awareness (consciousness).

Disciple: How do you let go of them?
Grand Master: Letting go of Consciousness (識) is a very high realm. Consciousness still exists even in the case of Boundless Consciousness (識無邊). In the case of Boundless Emptiness (空無邊), there is still Emptiness. When Emptiness has been forsaken, only Consciousness remains. From Boundless Consciousness to Non-Existential (無所有), when Consciousness has been forsaken, then it is Non-Existential (無所有). From here upward is the Sphere of the Finest Thought (最細想), called the State of Neither Thinking Nor Not Thinking (非想非非想處). This is the highest of the Twenty-Eight Heavens. At the end, it is very profound. The Treatise of the Consciousness-Only (唯識) typically talks only about the Eighth, Ninth and Tenth Consciousness. Very high realms. It is not something that can be done by saying `I have let go of Consciousness`. That does not count. That is impossible. Because your eyes still see, that means you still have Eye Consciousness. The fact that your ears still hear, that means you still have Ear Consciousness. Your nose still smells, that means you still have Nose Consciousness. Your tongue still moves when you talk, tastes when you eat, that means your tongue still has consciousness. Your body still has a touch feeling, that means there is consciousness of the touch.
Thoughts are very refined. Cultivators cultivate by means of the mind or its mental powers (意). [Translator`s note: 意has been widely translated as `the mind`. In this case, 意includes the widest sense as applied to all mental powers, including intellect, intelligence, understanding, perception, sense, conscience, will. Per Dictionary of Chinese Buddhist Terms by Soothill and Hodous.]
The mental powers (意) is the mind (心). The mind (心) is its mental powers (意). The mental powers cannot be separated from the mind and vise versa. Then [also] the sight, hearing, smell, taste, touch, and mind. Also the mind-sense (意根) in the deepest state of the mind. Going further it would be the Eighth Consciousness.

Disciple: Grand Master, can you explain the three realms of the proverb `I see the mountain as mountain and the water as water. Then I see the mountain as no mountain and the water as no water. Afterwards, I see the mountain as mountain and the water as water again?`
Grand Master: I have said it before. Take money as an analogy. You can buy things with money. Cars, houses, daily necessities all need money. So you see money as money. You don`t see it as a diploma or a refuge certificate. A `franklin` is still a `franklin`. A `sun yat sen` is a `sun yat sen` [Taiwanese dollar bill has a picture of Sun Yat Sen, its first president, on it]. In the mundane world, you see something as something. That is the first realm.
For cultivators, it is different. This is the second realm. Buddha Sakyamuni once said, regard money as a poisonous snake. You don`t see money as money. It is possible that money can hurt you. If you have lots of money, the tax collectors are after you. So are robbers, thieves, who still see money as money want to rob the money from you. So when do cultivators see money as no money? When they regard everything in this world is illusory. Cars, houses are unreal [illusive], even the body is illusive, it deteriorates. Everyone, including family, children, grandchildren, will leave this world. Sometimes younger ones leave before the parents, or vise versa. Who knows when our turn is. We know that the body only exists momentarily, so is money. Nothing lasts forever. Cultivators know that money is useful only in this world and not in heavens. So, in this realm, we see money as no money, it is only to be used momentarily.
Lastly, we see money as money again. Why? Because we can use money to spread the teachings and to help sentient beings. We can use it to build orphanages and elderly homes, to provide relief for the poor and those suffering from disasters. At this time, money has become useful again. These are the three realms of the cultivators.

Disciple: Grand Master, you said that heavens, hells and human lives are all illusory. How do you view that?
Grand Master: At youth, a man is a hunk and a woman is a hot chick. As time goes by, a hunk or a chick can no longer keep it up. What a difference it is between now and then. See, it is just an illusion. The same with a house, after a few hundred years, it would run down and break down. All material things are the same.
Why are heavens illusory? Heavens are where the Buddhas in their Form Bodies and Bodhisattvas manifest their palaces. In our cultivation, we are training our illusory body: from the crude body to the fine body, then to the finest. The fine body is still illusory. Only when we have achieved the finest body, we attain enlightenment. This is a state of formlessness. But the path and the process to get there are all illusory.
When we dream last night we know it is a dream. Our lives, from childhood to adulthood to middle age to old age, is this not a dream? It is a dream, only that it is a bit longer.

Disciple: During homa, it is OK to offer a sutra. Do we actually burn the sutra in the homa burner?
Grand Master: Of course we shall keep the good sutras to read. Some sutras, like Marici Sutra, are printed in a small booklet form and they are used for protection. We shall not want to burn these. But sutras that are copied, hand copied, or like the Deliverance Mantra that are printed on the spirit money are ok to burn. Basically, we should not be wasteful. Like when we are offering a car we use the one made of paper, we don`t burn a real car.

Disciple: Are we allowed to throw away old, torn, or worn True Buddha Newspapers?
Grand Master: If they are dirty, blotted by water, really old and yellowed, or torn to pieces, in a state where no one would want to read it, it is OK to burn them. But if they are still readable, we should try to distribute them. Even when they are outdated, they still contain valuable information for people to read. We should not throw them into the garbage truck. Buddhadharma is timeless, news can be old but Buddhadharma can never be.

「一生一咒」800萬遍上師心咒活動,從今年師尊的佛誕日正式啟動,請參加者到TBSN官網以下鏈接登記資料: 每持滿十萬遍上師心咒者,宗委會將把名單呈給師尊加持。每持滿一百萬遍者,將列名護摩法會功德主,資料請師尊主壇護摩法會時下護摩爐。 億萬虎頭金剛心咒,招財鎮煞降伏瘟疫