To help Buddhist cultivators choose benefactors who possess virtue, cultivation, accomplishment, and Buddha-dharma, the United International World Buddhism Association Headquarters (UIWBAH) spent two years publicly holding examinations for people who are in the category of masters. Masters of dharma-listening sessions and masters who transmit Buddha-dharma from all over the world applied for taking the examination. Among them, there were altogether 11,657 cultivators whose statuses may be venerable one, dharma king, rinpoche, dharma master, layperson, or others. Among those, 3,273 people officially took the written test of 100 problems on sutras, vinayas, and shastras (commentaries). However, in the end, only 1,085 of them were qualified to take the examination in the holy realm.
The examination in the holy realm held by UIWBAH was established on the basis of the test of 100 problems on sutras, vinayas, and shastras. The problems came from the correct knowledge and correct teaching from sutras, vinayas, and shastras. Some examples are given in the following:
- Are the views of Buddhism same as that of other religions? Does Buddhism belong to theism, or atheism?
- How is the power of prajna related to sacred words?
- State the sources and usages of concentration and wisdom.
- Briefly describe the belief and ideas presented in the Prajna Shastra, the Mulamadhyamakarika, the Abhidharma-kosa Treatise and the unitary nature and contradictions between these theories.
- Describe the benefits and faults of the view of nihilism (denial) and the view of eternality (permanence). What is the correct view?
- How is esoteric Buddhism different from exoteric Buddhism?
- Give simple explanations to the concepts of faith, vow, and practice; and precepts, concentration, and wisdom.
- What is the goal of practicing meditation through contemplation?
- What do the three spheres include? What is the dharma sphere?
- What is a cause within a fruit (effect)?
- What is a mind with illusory thoughts? What is the state of wisdom?
- Explain why the Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation surpassed the accomplishments that can be attained by the expedient practices of the Ch’an School, the Pure Land School, and esoteric Buddhism.
- What is your opinion about attaining Buddha-hood (or accomplishment) during the stage of bardo according to the teaching of antarabhava? Explain your answer.
- What is unconditional dharma (phenomena)? What is conditional dharma?
- What are the effects or usage of each of the dharmas of Ghost-Feeding Offering, Demon-Subduing Fire Offering, Water-Land Dharma Assembly, Feeding Ghosts with One’s Own Body, and Vajra Fa Man Zue Jue?
- What is the Mind-Only School’s argument of attaining liberation? What are the differences on that between the Hua Yen School, the Discipline School, and the Agama School?
- What are stubborn emptiness, small emptiness, big emptiness, empty emptiness, quiescent emptiness, or the eighteen types of emptiness?
- Within the Hetu-Vidya (vidya of causality), what are knowledge from direct perception, knowledge from inference, knowledge about known states, and knowledge about unknown states? What is the way to achieve unity without duality?
- List the five types of initiations that are often heard in esoteric Buddhism and state who executes these initiations. Are these initiations inner-tantric, outer-tantric or holy inner-tantric?
- Briefly describe: What is meditation? What is concentration? What is cessation? What is contemplation? What are the effects from the four meditations and the eight concentrations and the utilizations of the three bodies and four wisdoms, respectively?
- What are the view of natural wisdom and. the view of the other emptiness? What are emptiness of self vs. emptiness of dharma and emptiness of others vs. emptiness of dharma? What are the differences between these concepts? From which sects did these concepts originate?
- What are the main commentaries/treatises written by Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Dignaga, Chandrakirti, Vasubandhu, Asanga, Adi Sankara, and Buddhapalita, respectively? What are the views expressed in these works?
One had to be qualified by the written test to enter the examination in the holy realm. Then, the dharma of “Dharma Gate Palace Feather” was used to definitively determine one’s candidacy to take the examination in the holy realm, which was executed by the Eight Winds in Samsara Battle Position and the Vajra Battle Position. Each of these two battle positions can be implemented as a big battle position or a small battle position in a particular session of the examination. Each session of the examination in the holy realm was always witnessed by seven holy ones and ten additional witnesses for both the Eight Winds in Samsara Battle Position and the Vajra Battle Position and, additionally, was taken by many candidates together openly and equally. The conditions of the examination were the same to all of them. This is similar to the situation of placing a stone on the ground to let everyone to pick it up. The environment is equal to all. In the end, some people were able to lift it up for the first time and the second time but could not lift it on the third time. Some could lift it up on the first time but could not do so again on the second time, and some could not even lift it up on the first time. In the examination, a rope was used to surround a zone on the ground with an area of about 20,000 square-foot. Although the boundary of the zone was only defined by a rope and everyone could see the zone very clearly, a candidate could only walk into the zone when testing for a grade level he has achieved. When testing for a grade level one has not achieved, this person would not be able to step across the rope and might possibly even faint outside the zone boundary of rope. Furthermore, each candidate’s performance was watched and observed by all other candidates taking the same session of the examination.
That was the process of determining a virtuous person’s qualification as a master at a particular level. An example at the level of Golden Button Grade 3 is Wang Zha Shang Zun. Wang Zha Shang Zun was present at every session to preside over the entire examination. The level of Golden Button Grade 3 is called Shang Zun (meaning Upper or High Venerable One) and belongs to the category of great holy virtuous ones. One at this level is already a non-receding Bodhisattva and does not need to take this examination. However, as the presiding proctor overseeing the battle position, Wang Zha Shang Zun wanted to set an example and requested on His own initiative to take the examination.
The level of Golden Button Grade 2 is called Jiao Zun (meaning Teaching Venerable One) and belongs to the category of holy virtuous ones. The level of Golden Button Grade 1 is called Ru Zun (meaning Beginning-Stage or Developing Venerable One) and also belongs to the category of holy virtuous ones.
The levels below are blue-button grade levels. The highest grade level of blue buttons is Blue Button Grade 3 Plus 2 Black Buttons, which is called Da De (meaning Great Virtuous One). The next lower level is Blue Button Grade 3 Plus 1 Black Button, called Xuan De (meaning Propagating Virtuous One). Then the successively lower levels are: Blue Button Grade 3, called Run De (meaning Embellishing Virtuous One); Blue Button Grade 2, called Zeng De (meaning Enhancing Virtuous One); and Blue Button Grade 1, called Xing De (meaning Cultivating Virtuous One). (Translator’s note: Please also see Public Announcement No. 20160108 from UIWBAH issued on August 25, 2016 for additional information on the grade levels.)
Any grade level with the word “De” (De is the transliteration of “virtue” in Chinese.) is already far from ordinary. There is no grade level below Xing De. One who has not achieved the grade level of Xing De does not possess a master’s qualification. Even a Xing De at the level of Blue Button Grade 1 must have notable achievement and benefits in learning Buddhism and cultivation or have dharma-listening center(s) to benefit people. That means a Xing De has to possess cultivation and virtue. Therefore, even if one is at the level of Blue Button Grade 1, this person still has the morality that is worthy of learning by others in some aspects.
On December 31, 2016, the examination held publicly by UIWBAH that lasted two years officially ended. Applications for taking the examination are no longer accepted. Here, we would like to especially inform you all that only the accomplishment of cultivation at the level of Golden Button Grade 3 (the level of a Great Bodhisattva) or higher is non-receding and that anyone else can possibly recede his/her accomplishment in the process of cultivation and learning Buddhism due to falling into the 128 views. Therefore, UIWBAH will selectively conduct annual re-examination of the virtuous ones. The purpose is to ensure the safety of people who are learning Buddhism and cultivating themselves by preventing them from being misled by masters who have receded in their accomplishment.
As of now, there is only one great holy virtuous one in the entire world who is spreading Buddha-dharma. He is Great Holy Virtuous One Wang Zha Shang Zun. Other great holy virtuous ones are not publicly spreading Buddha-dharma. Also, there are only two holy virtuous ones who passed the examination at the grade level of Jiao Zun. They are both spreading Buddha-dharma but have not accepted any disciples yet. Only four holy virtuous ones passed at the level of Ru Zun. Only one of them is publicly accepting and teaching disciples and spreading Buddha-dharma. The other three have not accepted any disciples yet.
There are only two great virtuous ones who passed at the level of Blue Button Grade 3 Plus 2 Black Buttons. Both of them are doing Buddhist works but have not accepted any disciples yet. The number of passing at the level of Blue Button Grade 3 Plus 1 Black Buttons is seven. Two of them are doing Buddhist works but have not accepted any disciples yet. The other five are accepting and teaching disciples and also establishing and operating dharma-listening centers. Thirteen passed at the level of Blue Button Grade 3. They are all establishing and operating dharma-listening centers and accepting and teaching disciples. Fifty-eight passed at the level of Blue Button Grade 2. They are all establishing and operating dharma-listening centers and almost all of them are accepting and teaching disciples. There are very many people who passed at the level of Blue Button Grade 1. Some of them are accepting and teaching disciples, but some others are only establishing and operating dharma-listening centers.
Wang Zha Shang Zun specifically cautioned those who passed the examination at different grade levels. He said, “I will first congratulate you for receiving grade levels of different classes with your performance of passing the examination, but I must caution you: Why did H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III oppose using the examination in the holy realm as the final determination of grade levels? I only realized the reason now. Although the examination in the holy realm can make the most accurate determination of one’s level of qualification as a master and has played its role to prevent evil masters and charlatans from defrauding cultivators, it is impossible for a master to become accomplished through the examination in the holy realm. To attain liberation and accomplishment, one must still listen to the recorded dharma discourses expounded by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III and read and understand the books by His Holiness the Buddha. Only by cultivating oneself and learning the dharma according to the teaching, can one become accomplished. Remember, you are Buddhists. That means you are disciples of Sakyamuni Buddha and all Buddhas in the ten directions. I am not your master of grade level. I am also cultivating myself through learning the teachings from my Beneficent Master H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III and Sakyamuni Buddha. Therefore, I hope that you all will abstain from doing anything that is evil and will do all things that are good. Only by truly following the Buddhas’ teachings to cultivate oneself and benefit living beings, can one eventually become accomplished and liberated. This is our goal.”
You all should pay attention to a situation. If you see that a master who took the examination does not wear the dharma attire indicating his or her grade level, this fact shows that this master has already receded in his/her accomplishment. Such a master is not a true cultivator learning Buddhism and, rather, is a swindler who uses the name of Buddhism to commit fraud!!! This is because such a master is concerned about his/her disciples seeing the fact that his/her grade level is not high and does not match the exaggerated propaganda he made earlier. As a result, the disciples will discover this master’s nature of a swindler who has receded the attained accomplishment. Thus, he/she would simply use the method of not dressing with the dharma attire indicating the grade level to cheat as long as possible and as many people as possible. Of course, another kind of situation is that some people applied for the examination but dared not take it or their score was too low to have the candidacy for taking the examination in the holy realm. Therefore, these people have no dharma attire to wear and naturally do not belong to the realm of possessing master’s qualifications. We hope that they will continuously make effort so as to become virtuous persons early.
To prevent some masters’ evil acts of purposely not wearing dharma attire to deceive Buddhist disciples so that they can falsify or inflate their grade levels to commit fraud, UIWBAH hereby publicly announce the results from the examination in the holy realm to all. Starting from January 15, 2017, you can make inquiries to UIWBAH to ask about any virtuous person(s)’s results from the examination by phone or by email. The phone number is 1-626-789-1001. The email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
United International World Buddhism Association Headquarters
(Seal stamped on every page)
January 1, 2017