In response to some questions we received recently, the Office of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III collectively gives the following important but concise replies. In order to let you easily get to the point, the complicated and cumbersome forms of the questions are omitted from this public announcement. Only brief answers are provided here.
1. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III already expounded this dharma, “The book of the Fifty Verses of Guru Devotion (also called the Fifty Stanzas of Guru Devotion) is studied by people who cultivate esoteric Buddhism. In exoteric Buddhism, this book is generally not followed. It is only used by a small minority of dharma master of exoteric Buddhism. This book produced great merit and virtue. However, in this dharma-ending era, it has produced more harmful effects than merit and virtue. This is because currently there are many people who have the statuses of great dharma king, great rinpoche, great dharma master, and master who by their nature do not possess master’s qualifications. They use this book as a tool of hijacking, squeezing, deceiving, and controlling cultivators. They use it to press their disciples into absolute obedience. As a result, many pious Buddhists were cheated and harmed. Therefore, people can no longer follow the Fifty Verses of Guru Devotion in their cultivation and conduct. Otherwise, the resulting tragedies will be beyond imagination!”
2. As to the matter of some masters not taking the exam proctored by seven masters and ten witnesses, for most of them the reason is their not certain of passing and fear of failing accidentally. That is why they did not apply to take the exam and still keep the certificate of holiness and virtue issued by three masters and seven witnesses. However, in some very rare situations, the master already met the qualifications and possesses the realization power of passing the exam but is humble and focusing on self-cultivation and does not want to publicize his level of realization. However, people of this type all have a common characteristic. They are certainly very good at enduring humiliation and are not involved in sectarian disputes. They never pose as holy ones and always regard themselves as being at a low level. They do not boast themselves as being better than other masters. People who belong to this category possess the demeanor of an absolutely unselfish holy and virtuous one. Although such a master only holds a certificate of holiness and virtue issued by three masters and seven witnesses, he is possibly an already qualified holy and virtuous one who just did not take the exam proctored by seven masters and ten witnesses. However, people should pay special attention to the opposite type of situations. If one boasts himself, poses as a holy and virtuous one, tries to elevate himself by attacking others, and has an air of wild and presumptuous arrogance but does not have a certificate of holiness and virtue, this person is absolutely a false holy person and a true ordinary being, regardless of how many books of his are in circulation and regardless of how big this person’s status of a religious figure is.
In addition, whether one undergoes a period of solitary meditation or not has no definitive connection with taking the exam. As long as one’s level of realization has met the standard of the exam, a person can apply for taking the exam with or without undergoing a period of solitary meditation beforehand. If one is not one-hundred-percent sure of passing the exam, having a solitary meditation is a desirable thing to do. Even if one is confident of passing the exam, doing a solitary meditation is still a good practice. However, please note that the exam must be applied for by the exam taker as he wishes.
3. A true cultivator or holy and virtuous master will only have the accomplishment and liberation of Buddhist disciples in mind. Therefore, he hopes that his disciples can find higher and better masters than him. He is certain to support with great effort the learning and accomplishment of his disciples. How could any holy master be an exception from doing so? As long as any Buddhist disciple is going to follow a person who is better and more capable than his master, the master would always be very happy. Oppositely, anyone who tries to stop his disciple to learn from eminent monks, great virtuous ones, and holy and virtuous ones must be a person who does not have the correct knowledge and views. Furthermore, the fact that anyone who boasts himself as being more capable than other masters is deterministically stating that this person is plagued with self-centered views and self-arrogance of an ordinary person and is definitely not a holy one! Any likelihood of holy status must be proven by a certificate of holiness and virtue issued by seven masters and ten witnesses. However, holy and virtuous ones holding this type of certificates are generally always humble, modest, and kind to people. Nonetheless, the disciples of theirs tend to praise and introduce their own master to other people. It is possible that one may have said that other masters were not as good as his own master, in order to persuade other people to rely and follow this master.
It is correct that such a Buddhist disciple praised his own master. However, he should not slight other people, unless the person he criticizes is a demonic master with evil views or a swindler. One should never slander good people to promote the status of his affiliation. On the other hand, choosing which person to learn from is rightfully one’s own decision and does not necessarily mean sectarian preferences.
Regarding the correspondence of one’s three karmas, the meaning is to achieve the correspondence to the teaching and caution given by Buddhas or Bodhisattvas at the level of universal enlightenment or wonderful enlightenment. It does not mean seeking the correspondence toward one’s master who is not an extremely great holy and virtuous one or a great holy and virtuous one. Remember, we should follow the dharma, not people.
4. This question raised by some people made us not know how to react. They are even so ignorant as to say, “The Buddha said that this so-and-so matter should be handled this way. My master said that this same so-and-so matter should be handled in another way. How should I choose?” This Office simply cannot understand whether this kind of people is a normal person or not. Can you state yourself whether you should follow the dharma expounded by the Buddha or what your master said? When you were asking this question, didn’t it occur to you that you had already stepped toward the abyss of samsara? Moreover, you were rushing toward it without any concern about your life. In your mind, you even wanted to choose between the Buddha’s teaching and your master’s words. What type of holy one is your master? Even assuming he is a great holy and virtuous one with Sun-Moon Wheel(s), what he said is still useless, comparing to the Buddha’s teaching, dharma, and speech! Furthermore, does he have a certificate of holiness and virtue with Sun-Moon Wheel(s)? As a cultivator, what are you really thinking! How could you not understand the most basic common sense as this?
Separately, it is true and without any doubt that wherever the Buddha lives, that place is a Buddha-land. However, once the Buddha no longer lives there, the nature of that place will transform in accordance with the karmic conditions and impermanence. Take the location under the Bodhi tree in India for example: it became market for trading horses and mules at one point. However, if the place received a designation by the Buddha with special empowerment, the situation will be totally different.
5. Eminent monks, great virtuous ones, and holy and virtuous ones should all respect each other and learn from each other. If a master or a holy and virtuous one does not want to establish mutually close relations with holy and virtuous ones and eminent monks, will he be compassionate and close to, and give benefits to ordinary people? The Buddha wants living beings to have the mentality of impermanence. The purpose is for you to be vigilant to treasure the opportunities of receiving Buddha-dharma and treasure the opportunities of cultivation. Treasuring Buddha-dharma and cultivation for the purpose of enlightening oneself as well as others is of merit and virtue. You must remember, “A cultivator should rather give up one’s own life than giving up the dharma.” Only by learning and mastering Buddha-dharma, can one attain accomplishment. Only after attaining accomplishment, will one be able to save living beings.
6. No matter what sutra’s teaching and what dharma book a master upholds, the 128 views must be used to check all masters, disciples, and cultivators of the seven types. Of course, anyone with master’s status is also included. That is the criteria for judging whether one is correct or evil. The time of one’s learning Buddhism or since taking refuge in Buddhism and the seniority of one’s qualifications have nothing to do with whether one’s view is correct or not!
7. Putting up limitations on one’s own disciples to keep them from requesting to learn Buddha-dharma from other holy and virtuous ones or masters is a selfish act. That master should do a serious learning from the 128 views. You stated that all people learning Buddhism are under the flag of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. That is very wrong! The fact is that a true eminent monk, great virtuous one, or holy and virtuous one will not control his disciples to be under his flag, because any holy one does not have his own flag. Just as H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III said, “There isn’t a flag. There is only the truth of Buddhism in the universe. This truth is from the Buddhas of past, present, and future in the ten directions. All countless living beings collectively have the right of enjoying this truth.” Therefore, there is no such a concept of the flag of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III.
A good Buddhist disciple should be kind to and get along well with all masters, fellow brothers of one’s masters, one’s own fellow brothers and fellow sisters, one’s family members, and even strangers. One should also proactively be kind to and get along well with people with opposite views, because they are all family members of Buddhists. To those whose realization and state of virtue are higher than us, we owe to learn from them. To those who are lower than us, we should guide them onto the right path and help them. Having the barriers of sectarian views and views of opposing living beings means this person has not truly realized the Buddha’s teaching yet. We must understand that Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will never let such a so-called Buddhist with selfishness, evil views, and sectarian interests to enter into the world of accomplishment and liberation. This is because Buddhas and Bodhisattvas clearly saw a consequence. If a person is not kind to and does not get along well with others, what would happen once he has accomplished the state of holy realization? Wouldn’t he turn into a devil or demon? Just because of this reason, there exists the requirement of first getting the decision from selection before one can learn an upper-level Buddha-dharma. The purpose of this stipulation of the dharma is to prevent evildoers and people who are selfish or indulging in sectarian activities from learning a great dharma. Those who oppose living beings should ask themselves three questions: Where is my bodhicitta? How am I facing and treating living beings? Can I pass the decision from selection to have the affinity with the dharma?
You all must remember: True Buddhism and Buddha-dharma are unselfish. No matter the other party has what status or is what kind of person, I should do all that is good for living beings; Whoever is better and higher than me, I should learn from. Whenever the other party is not as good as me, I should always apply loving care to him and help him. This is the basic virtuous conduct of a cultivator.
8. Learning Buddhism and cultivation to Buddhist disciples are learning the teaching of the dharma and the precepts from the Buddha and cultivating one’s conduct of abiding by the precepts. That is not learning the speech and conduct of some person. Therefore, there is no such a concept of one should permanently follow a master or not follow a master. More than ten years ago, when H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III’s status was just a great dharma king by recognition and has not been recognized as a Buddha yet, He already declared in the recorded dharma lessons: As long as not affiliated with an evil cult, whenever you meet eminent monks and great virtuous ones, you should always seek teaching and learn from them.
Now, at the time when Expounding the Absolute Truth through the Heart Sutra is about to be published, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III told our Office to inform you all:
You should first learn the commentaries on prajna, the truth of dharma nature and true such-ness, and the teaching about the Heart Sutra of various schools. Don’t fear that, once they learned the commentaries and works by other eminent monks, great virtuous ones, and patriarch masters, they would be attracted to the preconceived notions and look down on me. So long as one is able to learn the teaching that is better than mine, I will be happy for this person. Actually, only by doing so, when learning Expounding the Absolute Truth through the Heart Sutra later on, can one comprehend where the truth is and how to realize and be enlightened by it.
H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III never said that you should not read the works of others and learn from other people. Rather, He encouraged you all to learn first the works of ancient patriarch masters and other eminent monks and great virtuous ones, to let their views get into your mind first. Then, you learn the dharma He expounded. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III said, “Regardless of what dharma, there is only one purpose: Be unselfish and benefit living beings.”
9. Even kind people in the world will all care for each other and help each other. Buddhists should even more so be kind to and get along well with all people. Except devils and demons, we should let all people feel warmth and compassion and get benefits. This is the thing that we cultivators should do proactively during the six periods of a day. Even to evildoers, we should lead and guide them to give up ulterior thoughts and evil deeds, help them to become good people, and let them get onto the path toward enlightenment and liberation. If one prohibits kind friendship and getting along well between Buddhist disciples, you all can think for yourself. What kind of act is this? With this kind of act, how can one cultivate and attain accomplishment? There will be no beneficial effects even if one has learned the dharma!
10. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III did not say that the Buddha-bestowed nectars from the elder dharma king’s practicing the dharma are not as good as the Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation. Rather, He said that nectars are a treasure of Buddha-dharma. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III was just telling you all not to go and quest for nectars. Cultivating according to the two great mind essences of the Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation is the best and most expedient path toward accomplishment. It is true that nectars are very good and taking nectars can let you be liberated and become a holy one right away. However, the fact is that Buddha-bestowed nectars are not made by human with water and available everywhere. You will not get nectars just by beseeching. First, you will not be able to find such an extremely great holy one who can invite Buddhas to bestow nectars. Even if assuming that you are able to find such an extremely great holy one, He will not practice the dharma for you, because He must use your cultivation and practice as the prerequisite karmic conditions. On the other hand, only the two great mind essences of the Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation and What Is Cultivation are the karmic conditions that can best let you attain perfect and expedient accomplishment. Once you cultivated well with the Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation, why do you need to worry that any extremely great holy and virtuous one will not practice the dharma of nectars for you without your beseeching?
Although this public announcement criticized the conduct of some masters and cultivators, you all should not be disappointed. Actually, in this dharma-ending era, the masters you mentioned are already incomparably better than certain greatly famed masters in Tibet, Qinghai, India, and Nepal, in terms of knowledge and views, cultivation and practice, and state of realization. Those people are truly very terrible. Some of them are very famous and well-known in the world. However, their inner mind practice is even worse than that of commonly seen bad ordinary people who do not cultivate themselves. They not only speak falsely with lies but also are non-conversant about the sutras and confused with Buddha-dharma. There is no true Buddha-dharma to speak of in them. All they do is asking for offerings. Therefore, the masters you mentioned are good ones already. Among them, some are already holders of certificate of holiness and virtue issued by three masters and seven witnesses. As to the problems occurred in them, it is somewhat unavoidable. Please understand that they are also learning the Buddha’s teaching. They are also in cultivation and making their effort to help you. They are also continuously making progress. If they have achieved the correct knowledge and views mentioned in this public announcement, then they will truly be great and will certainly be great holy and virtuous ones with the status of Sun-Moon Wheel(s).
From the Office of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III,
April 25, 2013