April 25, 2020, Dharma King Lian-sheng Dharma Discourse at Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple, Seattle
Spring flowers could be seen in full bloom on the cold and crisp evening of April 25. At 8pm, as the sky began to darken, Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple (LSCTT) in Seattle was brightly illuminated. The atmosphere in LSCTT came to life as Grandmaster and Shimu graced the temple with their presence.
In compliance with restrictions mandated by Washington State government authorities, disciples were prohibited from entering LSCTT. During this period of lockdown, everyone is becoming accustomed to gathering online and watching Grandmaster’s Dharma discourses via live webcast from the comfort of home.
Grandmaster mentioned that during the preceding practice, Jade Pond Golden Mother, Celestial Maiden Dong Shuangcheng, Celestial Maiden Xu Feiqiong, and Tara Who Saves from Contagious Diseases all descended and gave their blessings. Grandmaster also prayed to all the descending deities to grant True Buddha School (TBS) disciples fulfillment of wishes and auspiciousness.
To earn a smile from Grandmaster and everyone, True Buddha Prajna Treasury played a profound and humorous video joke on Grandmaster. The video was about Grandmaster’s teaching of being attentive when one is cultivating. In Chinese, being attentive is pronounced “yong dian xin”. However, in the video, a student, Xiaoming, was eating cookies while learning a lesson. It turned out that “yong dian xin” is also a homophone for eating snacks. Obviously, Grandmaster didn’t mean that everyone should eat snacks, but meant that everyone should be mindful while cultivating!
During Q&A, Grandmaster gave detailed responses to questions raised “attentively” by disciples. Following is a summary of the Q&A session:
Q: Why have I never experienced a spiritual response despite chanting the buddha’s name and reciting mantras? Also, when I have spare time, I offer my body, speech, and mind to buddhas, bodhisattvas, and Living Buddha Lian-sheng.
A: If one only makes offerings when one has spare time, one will find it difficult to receive a spiritual response. One must find time to make offerings regardless!!
Q: I live in a dormitory and it’s often difficult to engage in spiritual cultivation.
A: One may recite the mantra silently and cultivate by using visualization. While falling asleep, practice entering Samadhi by just letting go of everything! Outer form of practice is not mandatory for cultivation. It is possible to practice even when others are around! Grandmaster then breathed on the disciple’s question to enable the disciple to receive a spiritual response.
Q: Does the Ksitigarbha Mantra that Removes Fixed Karma indeed remove fixed karma?
A: Just like the Karma Eradication Mantra of the Seven Buddhas, the Ksitigarbha Mantra that Removes Fixed Karma can eradicate karma that is fixed or not fixed. A buddha has knowledge of past lives spanning immeasurable kalpas. This knowledge includes knowledge of the ordinary, fixed karma that will be removed by the Ksitigarbha Mantra that Removes Fixed Karma.
An individual’s fixed karma may or may not be removed by the mantra recitation. Therefore, in a buddha’s knowledge of past lives, an individual’s “fixed” karma refers only to fixed karma that may not be removed by the mantra recitation because a buddha already knows the individual will recite mantras to remove the part of fixed karma that is removable by reciting mantras.
Consequently, the “fixed” karma recognized by a buddha’s knowledge of past lives is extremely heavy. It already excludes the fixed karma that will be removed by Ksitigarbha Karma Removal Mantra, and is beyond being extinguished. One’s ordinary fixed karma can be altered. One’s fate can be changed by extremely virtuous or evil deeds.
Q: How does one connect enlightenment to spiritual practice?
A: When one enters samadhi. The Heart Sutra states “The Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, while moving in the deep course of Prajnaparamita, arrives at full, right and universal Enlightenment.” This is attaining enlightenment.
Q: Regardless of how much effort I put into visualization, the personal deity never appears in full and complete form.
A: Even after several lifetimes of cultivation, Patriarch Tsongkhapa was only able to see one-half of the personal deity. Therefore, it’s normal to not see the personal deity as complete.
Q: If unable to visualize the “hum” syllable revolving, can the disciple just go directly to visualizing Grandmaster transforming to the size of a grain of rice, entering the central channel, and descending to the heart chakra?
A: Grandmaster gave the disciple exceptional permission to practice in this way.
Q: What’s the difference between a Buddha’s truth body and Dharma body?
A: The truth body is the unification of the Dharma body, the bliss body, and the emanation body. The Dharma body is formless.
Q: In appearance, how is the primary soul different from the secondary soul? How to tell if a soul has been delivered to the pure land?
A: In Buddhism, teachings are based on consciousness, not souls. Only an enlightened eminent master can tell whether a deceased has been delivered to the pure land.
Q: Which is more ideal? A tree burial or a burial at sea?
A: Although Grandmaster personally prefers cremation, ground burial and sea burial are also fine. The last is a more environmentally friendly option. Tree burial, however, is not recommended by Grandmaster as this may have a negative.
Q: When pets pass away, should one perform hospice care such as covering the pet with a Usnisa Vijaya Dharani blanket, performing bardo deliverance with eight hours of buddha name recitation, registering the pet for a deliverance ceremony, and arranging Seven consecutive Seventh-day Deliverance rituals?
A: When pets pass away, it’s good to perform the same hospice care for them that humans get. This demonstrates love for sentient beings.
Q: Can Dharma practitioners change their eight characters of birth?
A: One’s eight characters of birth can’t be changed. However, one can change one’s fate through cultivation. For more information, see Liao-fan’s Four Lessons by Yuan Liaofan.
Following the Q&A session, Grandmaster expounded the Lamdre. Grandmaster discoursed that one can prevent “leakage as a result of one’s consort” by performing the Six Sakya Exercises of Non-leakage. Alternatively, one may burn benzoin and fumigate one’s root chakra with the smoke. One may also stop leakage by consuming the mixture of powdered flowers and fruits with milk on an empty stomach.
Grandmaster concluded his Dharma discourse by encouraging disciples to sincerely recite the mantra of Tara Who Saves from Contagious Diseases to eradicate the COVID-19 epidemic.
Translated by the TBTTs
Translator: Lynn Ang
Editors: Henry Wolf and DJ Chang