The International Buddhism Sangha Association (IBSA) hereby forwards the following open letter from Buddhist disciples Gongga Zhunba and Renqin Quezhen to Buddhist disciples.
To the International Buddhism Sangha Association,
On December 3 and December 4, we, Buddhist disciples Gongga Zhunba and Renqin Quezhen, attended two grand dharma assemblies presided over by the Buddha Master in person in Los Angeles and in San Francisco respectively. We would like to express our opinion about the issue of making offering among fellow disciples during the dharma assemblies. Therefore, we wrote this open letter. It was based on our personal views and understanding. Please point out and correct what is not right therein. Meanwhile, please confirm whether this letter can be published or not.
An Open Letter to Buddhist Disciples
Our understanding toward the dharma assemblies and about the holiness and purity of the Buddha
by Buddhist disciples Gongga Zhunba and Renqin Quezhen
All Buddhist disciples and cultivators,
We, Buddhist disciples Gongga Zhunba and Renqin Quezhen who are husband and wife, were fortunate to attend the two extremely magnificent dharma assemblies presided over by the Buddha Master, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, in person on December 3 and December 4.
The first dharma assembly was the Grand Dharma Assembly of Praying for Auspiciousness, Prosperity, and Well-Being held in the afternoon of December 3 in Los Angeles. The second dharma assembly was the Grand Dharma Assembly of Transmitting the Dharma of “Meditation” held on December 4 at Hua Zang Si in San Francisco.
The two dharma assemblies were extremely magnificent, and we disciples were filled with the joy of the dharma. Why do we describe the dharma assemblies as extremely magnificent? The meaning of “extremely magnificent” as we stated here is quite unlike the exaggerated praising phrases used for dharma assemblies held at some Buddhist sites and is neither describing the unreal scenes of Buddha light appearing in the sky, fragrant wind blowing, light emitting from a Buddha statue, nor some other peculiar phenomena. I would not use the words of “extremely magnificent” if what happened were just these types of unreal and illusionary appearances.
During the praying dharma assembly on that day, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Buddha Master announced:
Our prayer today will follow the regular Buddha-dharma of Sakyamuni Buddha without any absurd words or statements. You all shall chant the Heart Sutra, the Six-Word Great Bright Mantra, or the Green Tara’s Heart Mantra. Anyway, chant what you recite daily. In the end, we will dedicate the merit from the chanting as the good wish and prayer.
At the start, people all began to chant the sutra, mantra, or ritual of their own daily practice. Because each person was chanting one’s own contents, only a round of mixed buzzing sounds were heard at the dharma assembly hall. It was impossible to hear what was being chanted. However, such chaotic buzzing sounds only lasted a short while. Then, I suddenly started to chant the Heart Sutra. At the same time, it was quite unimaginable that a synced vibration occurred within the assembly hall. All voices were unified into a neatly resonating sound like beating drums in the heavens. People’s voices all changed into that of chanting the Heart Sutra,
“All dharmas are marked with emptiness. They do not appear or disappear, are not tainted or pure, do not increase or decrease..…” Why did people all changed into chanting the Heart Sutra at the same time? It was even more unimaginable that all were chanting the same sentence of “All dharmas are marked with emptiness” in the middle of the Heart Sutra.
We can all think about a fact. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III only announced that people should chant the dharma of their own individual daily practice. And there was no person who did any directing or coordination. How could it possibly happen that these people of more than 1000 seated at both the second floor and the first floor all become synced into chanting the Heart Sutra in one unified voice at the same time? Among the more than 1000 people, not even one received any direction. However, they were all synced at the same time and the neatly unified voice sounded like drums beating everywhere in the heavens.
Afterwards, fellow brothers and sisters exchanged each other’s experience in that situation. Everyone said that it was very strange that he or she naturally started chanting this sentence and then followed the text from then on. A dharma master said, “I chanted the Heart Sutra from the beginning. However, before I got to this sentence, I suddenly jumped to this sentence by myself. Then I heard that people all got synced and were chanting this sentence at this time.” At this time, the chaotic and disordered buzzing sounds all disappeared without a trace. Another rinpoche said that he was chanting the Six-Word Great Bright Mantra at that time. Then a very strong and powerful white light appeared above his head. While he was feeling excited, he could no longer continue. He forgot the Six-Word Great Bright Mantra at that time, “All dharmas are marked with emptiness. They do not appear or disappear, …” was recited from his mouth.
It can be said that this supreme and magnificent empowerment by the Buddha has surpassed the manifestation of any holy feat, because this holy feat could not be achieved by any human effort. This was due to the utmost supremacy of Buddha-dharma and, more specifically, was a manifestation of the capacity of a Buddha and brightness of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. Wasn’t this a fact that the consciousness and thoughts of all of us were unified and led by the Buddha’s power? Wasn’t this dharma assembly extremely magnificent? That was why I used the phrase of “extremely magnificent.” The more people who attended the dharma assembly thought about it, the more wondrous, the greater, and the more unimaginable this event was. It can be said that this event was a groundbreaking miraculous holy feat, and thoroughly revealed the true presence of the Buddha!
The dharma assemblies were truly extremely magnificent. Nonetheless, I discovered a very important issue in both these dharma assemblies: that was the issue of making offerings!
During the dharma assembly, I saw that every fellow disciple held a clean white hada and a red envelope containing the offering. There was no exception. However, after the dharma assembly ended, I found that many fellow disciples put their red envelope for offering back into the pocket and did not truly make the offering. Moreover, such phenomenon existed not only in new Buddhist disciples who just took refuge and started learning Buddhism, but also in quite a number of fellow disciples who started much earlier.
Because we were returning to Beijing by flight on December 6, I drove back from San Francisco to Los Angeles at night after the Dharma Assembly of “Meditation” on December 4. I had a lot of thoughts while I was driving on the way. First, I was rejoicing about my having the “good fortune” of attending these two grand dharma assemblies that were so magnificent. Secondly, I was quite puzzled about the “strange phenomenon” of many fellow disciples’ putting back their offerings at the dharma assembly. Therefore, I decided to write this letter to state my opinion to fellow disciples.
First, I have attended many dharma assemblies held by the Buddha Master (not the kind of dharma-transmitting dharma assemblies of this time). Because His Holiness the Buddha does not accept offerings, fellow disciples did not make offerings at the dharma assembly. Even if a few fellow disciples brought their offerings, His Holiness the Buddha still would not accept. This was true to me as well. However, the situation this time was quite extraordinary. Perhaps because this was a dharma-transmitting dharma assembly, fellow disciples all presented offerings without any coordination and without an exception. However, after the dharma assembly, many fellow disciples “consciously” put the offerings back into their pockets. That was beyond my comprehension. How could an offering that had been presented be taken back automatically?
The Buddha Master is kind and compassionate to living beings and made His vow of never accepting anyone’s offering. At the same time, the Buddha Master repeatedly gave this decree:
“Do not make offerings to me. I do not accept any offerings from disciples. I only accept your devout determination of learning Buddhism and cultivation.”
This is what His Holiness the Buddha said. This is also how His Holiness the Buddha did. I have the same feeling as everyone else. How lucky we are in this lifetime that we are in the world with such a great Buddha present. Additionally, how fortunate we are in this lifetime that we were able to become disciples of His Holiness the Buddha.
Our kind Master H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III does not accept offerings. That is His Holiness the Buddha’s vow of aspiration and mind of compassion. However, I would like to ask: why did all of us hold offerings in our hands at such magnificent dharma assemblies without an exception? Was that because of the Buddha Master was transmitting the dharma and we were afraid of being erred on the causality of Buddha-dharma and not receiving beneficial effects? Then I would like to ask again: now that we had received the dharma transmitted by the Buddha Master, we quietly held the offerings back. Could it be that we were just making a show of formality when holding offerings in our hands during the dharma assembly?
Because the Buddha Master does not accept offerings, there were no donation boxes placed next to the dharma rostrum or at the entrance to the dharma assembly. I think that we still should transfer the offerings made for Buddha-dharma as donations to the Institute or to the temples. How could the offerings be taken back? Is doing so in accordance to the dharma? I would like to ask fellow disciples to think over this.
Actually at this moment I suddenly got another idea: any matter has its own duality. This event is really a good opportunity to let those who made up rumors on the internet or through news media, those who did not know the facts but spread gossips, and those who were contaminated and are having doubts see clearly and think seriously about the fact:
At such an important, great, and magnificent dharma assembly of transmitting Buddha-dharma, offerings made by disciples could be taken back freely without any concern. I think this would be impossible at any Buddhist group, any Buddhist organization, any temple, or any dharma assembly in the world! However, this phenomenon has been a very natural thing where our great H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III is!
However, I personally do not regard this situation as correct. I still think that, as a Buddhist, such an act does not conform to the dharma, and belongs to the karma of disrespect (This is my personal opinion, Amitabha!). Nonetheless, it did accomplish a good karmic condition in contrast. Why would I say so? Because this real situation truly hit back accurately at those people who were creating gossip on the internet! Didn’t this scene of reality effectively denounce the deformations seen on the internet and some news media! Didn’t this let people in the world see clearly the real situation of:
Our great H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III beseeched for world peace and for the well-being of humanity, and also empowered His disciples and transmitted to them the great dharma of “Meditation.” However, the disciples did not have to make any offering! The facts are all laid here. What else do we need to explain?
This world does have a Buddha who only benefits living beings for free and does not accept offering at any time. The mounting evidences are ironclad. The conduct is unfounded anywhere else in the history of Buddhism. Such selflessness, holiness, and purity are shining brightly in the universe. How could those villains’ slandering with ulterior motives possibly create any effect of reversing black and white? Their outcome could only be like jumping from the roof and falling to miserable death accompanied by tragic hauling!
Of course, I still would like to make a final statement. As Buddhist disciples who abide by Sakyamuni Buddha’s stipulation of the dharma, we still have to make proper offerings. Otherwise we are not following the dharma. I think that there is no measurement of more or less in the offerings we make. One cent is not too little. One hundred thousand dollars are not too much. All should depend on our abilities. There is no need to compare with others, and one should not forcefully try to achieve a certain goal. This is because Buddhas and Bodhisattvas really want to see that we are truly cultivating ourselves and we have a devout heart, not who offered more and who offered less! Any Buddha-dharma is not acquired by using money to buy or exchanged with offerings, rather, the dharma is bestowed for our devout heart and the fruit of cultivation.
What I stated above is a little bit of my personal opinion and feeling. Comparing to so many diligent fellow brothers and sisters, I know that I am lagging behind rather far. I will definitely make my earnest effort and I will get inspirations from fellow brothers and sisters. May we all cultivate hard and attain enlightenment together.
The life of a human is hard to get. True Buddha-dharma is difficult to encounter. I must keep a sincere, humble, and diligent mind to cultivate myself earnestly, to return the kindness of my Buddha Master, and to return the kindness to all living beings in the dharma realm!
Humble Buddhist disciples,
Gongga Zhunba and Renqin Quezhen
Written on December 8, 2013 in Beijing