Explanations of Phowa, Mud-Pill Fruit of Accomplishment, and Vajra Body Substitution Meditation Dharmas and the Reasons for Proctored Exams to Establish Proof of Realization:
Some people asked about the relative relationship and classifications between the dharmas of Phowa, Mud-Pill Fruit of Accomplishment, and Vajra Body Substitution Meditation, why exams proctored by seven masters and ten witnesses are necessary and other questions of the same kind. Although you all are cultivating, you do not understand the true proofs of these holy dharmas. Here, we tell you the answer in a simple way. Each of these three types of crown opening belongs to a kind of accomplishment from cultivation and realization. A person who had his crown opened is a holy one. If the crown is not open, one is an ordinary person.
The three types of dharmas of Phowa, Mud-Pill Fruit of Accomplishment, and Vajra Body Substitution Meditation all belong to accomplishments resulting from opening the crown. However, they are at very different grades. In terms of the origin of the dharma, Phowa is a dharma from Tibetan Esoteric Buddhism. The dharma of Mud-Pill Fruit of Accomplishment is also from Tibetan Esoteric Buddhism but is only mastered by truly great patriarch masters. It is not what patriarch masters with untrue reputations can possess. Vajra Body Substitution Meditation is not a Tibetan tantric dharma. It is a dharma commanded only by extremely great holy ones of Buddhism and is not possessed by patriarch masters. Only a true Buddha or a Bodhisattva at the level of universal enlightenment or wonderful enlightenment can transmit this dharma to cultivators.
The dharma of Vajra Body Substitution Meditation can be transmitted in two ways. One is opening the crown of the cultivator with the empowerment by a Buddha or a Bodhisattva at the level of universal enlightenment or wonderful enlightenment. The other is to have the crown opened by the cultivator’s own practice and cultivation. According to the stipulation of the Dharma of The Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation, opening the crown by the method of empowerment can be accomplished within two hours. On the other hand, by one’s own practice and cultivation, it would take several years to open the crown. Regardless of whether the crown is opened by empowerment or by one’s own practice and cultivation, the two ways have the same realization power of transferring one’s spiritual consciousness for utilization outside the body.
Describing in another way in terms of the dharmas’ characteristic properties, Phowa belongs to the division of inner tantric initiation and is a dharma for ascending to the Pure Land by reincarnation. However, although the dharma has such power, if the cultivator has heavy negative karmas, the reincarnation cannot be accomplished. One may even possibly transmigrate into one of the three lower realms. The dharma of Mud-Pill Fruit of Accomplishment belongs to the division of State Practice Initiation and is for reincarnating in the heaven realm to let one become a god. Vajra Body Substitution Meditation is in a higher class than the other two dharmas and belongs to either the division of State Practice Initiation or the division of Enlightenment Practice Initiation. The dharma is for reincarnating in the Buddha-Land and enables one to become a Bodhisattva or a Vajra.
In addition, the spot of crown opening is different in each of these three dharmas. The spot of crown opening by Phowa can be either at the front or at the back. The width of crown opening is less than one millimeter. This is very small and cannot be detected even by scientific instruments. With the dharma of Phowa, one’s spiritual consciousness will not be able to exit before the time of bardo (the intermediate stage between death and reincarnation). That means it is impossible to transfer one’s spiritual consciousness for external utilization during the normal lifetime. The spiritual consciousness can only exit from one’s body at the time of dying.
The dharma of Mud-Pill Fruit of Accomplishment is more powerful than Phowa by about one hundred times. The position of crown opening is where beating is seen at the forehead of a new born baby or where the so-called Mud-Pill Palace is. The crown is opened by a width of one to two fingers. With a wide crown opening, the spiritual consciousness can exit when one’s concentration power is strong. Moreover, there is no period of bardo to go through at the time of death and, therefore, there is no suffering associated with the bardo period. That is why this dharma is a great guarantee of ensuring cultivators to ascend to high realms by reincarnation.
Vajra Body Substitution Meditation is even higher comparing to the two previously mentioned dharmas. The position of crown opening is at the center of the crown. The range of the opening can be between one to three finger widths. Gaps opened by Mud-Pill Fruit of Accomplishment and Vajra Body Substitution Meditation are very many times wider than the gap opened by Phowa. That makes it possible to verify the situation of the opened gap and the exiting and entering of spiritual consciousness through using scientific instruments. (Spiritual consciousness means devic consciousness, which implies the realization power from becoming a god.)
Vajra Body Substitution Meditation represents the practice of realizing holiness and is simply nothing that Phowa can compare to. This is because the Phowa Dharma is not able to transfer one’s spiritual consciousness for utilization outside the body and the result cannot be examined byscientific instruments. The highest realization of Vajra Body Substitution Meditation can enter Enlightenment Practice. The crown can be opened anywhere on top of the head. The opening is not at a fixed spot and can change in countless ways and at any time. The transformation can even produce two or three heads. The situation can be seen with scientific instruments. The external appearance of the spiritual consciousness is unpredictably virtual and illusionary. Under normal circumstances, there is no way to find an extremely great holy one with such state of realization.
Some people may ask the following question. Since the goal of a cultivator learning Buddhism is for ascending to the Buddha-Land, why should one seek to reincarnate in the heaven realm? There is something that this person did not understand. Although the Mud-Pill Fruit of Accomplishment is truly a dharma for reincarnating in the heaven realm to become a god, because a cultivator is living in a paradise, he or she will have many opportunities and affinities to beseech dharma from Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Thus one can easily and quickly attain through practice the holy realization for ascending to the Buddha-Land. However, the prerequisite for reaping such beneficial reward is that the cultivator must carry out and abide by the ten good deeds and cultivate according to the dharma. Therefore, although crown opening by Mud-Pill Fruit of Accomplishment enables one to reincarnate in the heaven realm, the dharma provides a safeguard to the cultivator at the time of dying and reincarnation so that one does not have to experience the stage of bardo. As a result, there is no suffering caused by the disintegration of the four great elements. Moreover, reincarnating in the heaven realm will make it easier to receive the dharma for ascending to the Buddha-Land.
Summarizing from the above descriptions, crown opening is the foundation for attaining liberation and accomplishment. Once the crown is opened, one will transform from a mundane being into a holy one. Often, when we hear that someone had his crown opened, we will feel that he is great and is an accomplished one. That is why many cultivators often claim in a self-boasting way that his crown has been opened by Mud-Pill Fruit of Accomplishment. There are also people who stated that his crown was opened by Vajra Body Substitution Meditation or even that his spiritual consciousness can exit and re-enter at will. In reality, such self-declared rhetoric cannot be a proof that his crown has really been opened. Even scientific evidences can only be regarded as a reference. This is because of the caution against the possibility that some people may falsely claim having his crown opened with a surgical operation of cutting a hole on the skull. That is why our Association cannot determine such situations as facts of crown opening.
Just as holy virtuous one Lazhen stated, whether a piece of metal is gold or brass has to be tested with a touchstone. Only that can determine the genuine or false. That is why that dharma stipulates that exams proctored by seven masters and ten witnesses must be held to test those who attained holy realization. The test will be conducted upon those who had their crowns opened to determine the fact of whether the crown opening is true or false. Then the truth will be open to the public without any propaganda or explanation.
It should be noted that crown openings by Phowa do not need to be verified by holding exams. This is because the person’s spiritual consciousness is not able to get out for external utilization. Nothing can be seen from the exam anyway. The only possible proof is inserting a straw or a stick of incense. The conclusion depends upon each witness’ own judgment. On the contrary, for crown opening by Mud-Pill Fruit of Accomplishment or Vajra Body Substitution Meditation, without an exam held in public with seven masters and ten witnesses to prove in front of all people present whether one’s spiritual consciousness can exit or not, it is impossible to determine whether he had his crown truly opened or was just making up a story for himself. Even a certification based on scientific information cannot be used as the final conclusion. Of course, such evidence should certainly be used for reference purposes. On the other hand, if one has passed the exam held in public, he will have a certificate of holiness with the vows and signatures from seven masters and ten witnesses. Without the need of any promotion or declaration by himself, he is a true holy virtuous one with mounting iron-clad evidences. His accomplishment will be undeniable.
These seven masters and ten witnesses totaling seventeen people must sign and certify after verifying the exam they proctored on the spot and making vows to Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and dharma-protecting deities. We absolutely believe that no rinpoche or dharma master is willing to lie for protecting someone and face the outcome of violating the vow and descending into the hell of uninterrupted suffering, unless he suffers from mental disorder and insanity. Therefore, with the personal proctoring of seventeen people who made vows with severe consequences to guarantee for the person taking the exam, the result is certainly true without a doubt. However, a holy virtuous one certified by seven masters and ten witnesses has to retake the exam every year for recertification. This is because once one violated the precepts due to wrong conduct, the crown would be closed and sealed tightly. A holy person can return to the state of an ordinary being.
The accomplishment of State Practice is not at the level of Enlightenment Practice after all. Enlightenment Practice represents great and perfect enlightenment. Such holy realization is extremely rare in the world. For instance, Guru Padmasambhava and Master Tilopa attained the perfection in Enlightenment Practice. Also, extremely great holy ones like Hanshan, Shide, and Maitreya Bodhisattva are at the level of perfection in Enlightenment Practice. Therefore, if we try to comprehend the characters of the dharma from the facts, we will understand that Enlightenment Practice is not what State Practice can represent. Therefore, Holy ones with their crowns opened are definitely very great and are absolutely not in the same class as commonly seen eminent monks and great virtuous ones. After all, they got rid of their mundane bodies and became holy beings. However, that does not mean they no longer have to cultivate. Even after opening the crown, one still must cultivate according to the dharma and rigorously abiding by the precepts. Otherwise, the attained realization can still degenerate.
It is particularly important that we must cultivate and practice according to the two great Mind Essences of The Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation. This is absolutely indispensible. In other words, regardless of what level of crown opening one has accomplished or even if one’s crown has not opened yet, all cultivators must learn and practice the two great Mind Essences of The Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation. Only that is the most important of the most important cultivation and conduct we should carry out.
To those who studied well the two Great Mind Essences, although you haven’t had your crown opened now, we believe that you will definitely meet the causation of received initiation of State Practice to have your crown opened. Here we wish you all to transform from mundane beings to holy ones and become holy virtuous ones early.
The International Buddhism Sangha Association
October 26, 2011