Reply to Important Inquiries No. 20170102–Replacing the Lineage Refuge Tree & the Compararison of the Heart Sutra & the Surangama Sutra

Published on May 28, 2017

The World Buddhism Association Headquarters (WBAH) today received a letter from Li Yunfeng and two other Buddhist disciples, which is printed below:

World Buddhism Association Headquarters,

The public announcement from WBAH (translator’s note: This refers to WBAH’s Reply to Important Inquiries No. 20170101 issued on April 29, 2017) replied to the questions we raised and solved the doubt and delusion we had. We thank you holy and virtuous ones very much. We know that establishing dharma-listening centers and letting people listen to and hear the recorded dharma discourses expounded by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III truly have great merit and good karma. However, in recent days, we read from our WeChat groups that Chen Bao Sheng no longer lets his disciples listen to the recorded dharma discourses. Does he still have great merit and good karma? He even took down the Dorje Chang Buddha Lineage Refuge Tree from the mandala to hang his own picture instead and instructed his disciples to learn the Surangama Sutra. Do such behaviors have merit too? Between the Surangama Sutra and the Heart Sutra, which sutra is greater? Can one attain accomplishment through learning the Surangama Sutra? Now we are again very much in doubt and delusion and have the affliction of no understanding. We beseech holy virtuous ones to resolve our delusion.


Buddhist Disciples: Li Yunfeng, Chu Xiaorong, Zhang Kechun

(Signed and finger-stamped)

May 28, 2017


Actually the questions you raised are clear and do not need explanation. WBAH explained in the public announcement the reason that establishing dharma-listening centers has merit is because doing so can let many people listen to the recorded dharma discourses expounded by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III and cause them to pursue goodness and eliminate malicious deeds. The merit from that is of course big. Anyone who establishes dharma-listening center(s) has merit regardless of who that person is. The more people listen to the recorded dharma discourses at established dharma-listening centers, correspondingly, the more people will pursue goodness and eliminate malicious deeds. Naturally, the merit from doing so is great. However, since everything is a fruit formed according to the causes, if one stops listening to the recorded dharma discourses, one would only have the previous merit and the merit from listening to the dharma will no longer rise. This is because, if not continuing to listen to the dharma, there would be no increase in the number of people who pursue goodness and eliminate malicious deeds. If one does not let others listen to the dharma, then it is not a matter of having great merit or not. Rather, the resulting sin and evil will be big. If the situation is just as you mentioned that the mandala of the Dorje Chang Buddha Lineage Refuge Tree was taken down from the dharma rostrum and be replaced with the picture of the one who was responsible for committing the act, you can know clearly without any explanation that only people who are ill and thus have an unclear and confusing mind dare act this way. Since you brought this up and also since this is a tremendously big matter, WBAH will now give the following reply to your inquiry:

Other than the circumstance of taking down Their own pictures by Adharma Buddha (Samantabhadra Buddha) or Dorje Chang Buddha Themselves, any other tremendously holy ones including Buddhas and great Bodhisattvas dare not take down the visage of the Dorje Chang Buddha Lineage Refuge Tree and place Their  own picture there. All should know that the highest place in the refuge tree is the expression of the dharma by the formless Samantabhadra Buddha and the Sambhogakaya Buddha Dorje Chang Buddha. These two utmost supreme Buddhas in Dharmakaya and Sambhogakaya forms respectively are the master of all Buddhas in the ten directions. Also in the visage are the ten great Vajras, including Lion Vajra who is a manifestation of Samantabhadra Buddha, Kalachakra Vajra representing the highest holy state manifested by Sakyamuni Buddha at the Land of Shambala, and Horse Head Vajra who is an emanation of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. Even Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have to hold palms together to pay respect to the picture of this mandala. No holy person dares take down the Dorje Chang Buddha Lineage Refuge Tree regardless of what level he/she is. Doing this is an insult to Samantabhadra Buddha and Dorje Chang Buddha and absolutely is an extremely vicious act of committing a big sin! Taking down the refuge tree means slandering and insulting all Buddhas in the ten directions. Simply speaking, that sin is bigger than that from pointing one’s finger at the face of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva to scold the Bodhisattva. You can think for yourself to what degree such an extremely vicious act of committing this big sin is. Even in the situation of adding the visage of Sakyamuni Buddha for worshipping, you cannot take down the originally worshipped Samantabhadra Buddha and Dorje Chang Buddha. Furthermore, Samantabhadra Buddha and Dorje Chang Buddha must be above the top of Sakyamuni Buddha’s image. This is because all Buddhas came from Samantabhadra Buddha and Dorje Chang Buddha. That is why Dorje Chang Buddha is also called the fundamental primordial Buddha and is the father of all Buddhas. Anyone who dares insult the master of all Buddhas will definitely induce the retribution of being in the uninterrupted hell forever!

However, the situation also depends on whether this was done as a deliberate insult or due to ignorance. For example, maybe this person had the good intention of preserving the visage in good storage, or doing so was due to some illness or disease in the mental system of the person’s body, or the Buddha hall was owned by someone else and the owner wanted to take the space back, or the mandala requires up-keeping or remodeling, or the Buddha hall or mandala was moving to a better location. Additionally, since the refuge state involves the holiest Buddha and supreme Vajras, there are other considerations regarding whether consecration was performed when establishing the mandala to worship the Dorje Chang Buddha Lineage Refuge Tree, whether the procedures of bidding farewell to holy ones were performed when taking down, and whether the visage was respectfully placed at a high level. These also belong to the standard or rule for determining whether the act is sinful or not and what the corresponding retribution will be. Such severe sin with the consequence of descending to the uninterrupted hell can only be removed and waived by Samantabhadra Buddha and Dorje Chang Buddha in person. There is no other way to untie and resolve the consequence. This is because the state of refuge is the visage of these two supremely venerable Buddhas.

As to the Surangama Sutra, this sutra cannot be mentioned as being at the same level as the Heart Sutra. The Heart Sutra contains the precious essence of all sutras expounded by the Buddha and is one of the top three sutras. However, it is very difficult for common people to perceive the absolute truth therein. Of course, the best way is to study Expounding the Absolute Truth through the Heart Sutra by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, which states and narrates the essence and principles of the Heart Sutra using the vernacular. The teaching completely embodies the aspects of dharma nature and true such-ness, cultivation, the system of Buddha-dharma, precepts, and guarding against demons without any deficiency, is easy to understand, and thus is a supreme wonderful treasure. However, the benefits of the Surangama Sutra are mainly in knowing and how to cure the fifty types of demonic mental states. On the other hand, there also exist specific serious detriments that can often cause people of partial knowledge and shallow understanding to devolve into sin and evil. Due to their lack of proficient understanding about the essence and the principles, many people who dedicated themselves to learn and cultivate according to the Surangama Sutra committed the sin of descending to the three lower realms because of having partial knowledge and shallow understanding. The problem originated from not knowing how to judge, analyze, and filter through direct perception and inference to understand how mental power, phenomena arising from the mind, and mental consciousness illusorily manifest as the delusion of superficiality, the delusion of ignorance, and the delusion of sensing immerse phenomena and the lack of true understanding of the precious essence, wonderful meaning, and the way of presenting the ultimate truth of the Surangama Sutra. Typically, the so-called experts of the Surangama Sutra just take the single-sided view of the absence of self-nature in myriad phenomena, no attachment to and no grasping of anything, and being attached to a magnificent state that leads to accepting all evils. That is why the majority of the experts commit sin and devolve. The reason is in their erroneous comprehension of the wonderful meaning to regard all phenomena as false, consequently causing them to fall into the view of extermination. Once falling into the view of extermination, the myriad of existence in the real world would be regarded as untrue and illusory and one would recognize everything as untrue illusion generated by the mental power and would perceive that just abstaining from being attached to that is the true holy state. People with such a view are not aware that they are already controlled by the Surangama Demon and would regard the statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in temples as useless false expressions made of mud, wood or brass. To them, it is okay to destroy Buddha statues in a temple, to demolish a temple, and to burn sutras. Those whose misunderstanding is more severe think that one does not need to eat meals or wear clothing and all belong to untrue illusions of the states of dust and thus no merit of cultivation exists. They regard Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva’s superior supernatural power among the Buddha’s disciples as a demonic state and even deny all sutras, dharmas, and cultivation expounded by Sakyamuni Buddha. To them, believing the three vidyas and six supernatural powers possessed by Arhats means being surrounded by all evils and even all holy states manifesting the dharma that Sakyamuni Buddha mentioned in the sutras are perceived as opposing the Surangama Sutra due to being attached to the holy states and being surrounded by all evils. Having such views means one is completely in the midst of the view of extermination. This type of people are certain to devolve into the uninterrupted hell to receive the retribution of endless suffering. That is why, during the last over 1000 years, there have always been people who think the Surangama Sutra is not a sutra expounded by the Buddha. Just searching on the internet can enable you to find many references about this fact.

It is WBAH’s view that one can study the Surangama Sutra, but studying the Surangama Sutra by one who has only partial knowledge and shallow understanding is very dangerous. To avoid the danger, the premise to the Surangama Sutra is that one must understand the relations of governing, subordinating, and exterminating among the eighteen types of mind consciousness describing how mental power, phenomena arising from the mind, and mind consciousness lead to contaminated or pure karmas. One should hold onto this understanding in making judgement and analyzing to check for the view of extermination. Only by adhering to this understanding, can one avoid the horrible consequence of falling into either of the two opposite extreme views of emptiness and existence. This is just as Meditation Master Yong Jia stated in his Song of Enlightenment, “Cultivation has to caution against falling into the traps of extermination and permanence.” Only with that caution, can one avoid falling into the view of extermination to deny causality in the real world. Only then, can one avoid being confused between the concepts of illusion and reality and not mistakenly regard Amitabha Buddha’s coming to receive as a mental demon and refuse to get into His ferrying bowl. Such a mistake is actually a sin of slandering the dharma and the sutra caused by being intoxicated in emptiness, extermination and perceiving goodness and evil in the real world as equal and illusory. Since you are an ordinary being and are unable to abide into the true such-ness of the entity of Buddha-nature, your body made of the five aggregates will starve to death if not eating and drinking and, if you are ill, not seeking treatment will cause the symptoms to worsen. Even though you regard goodness and evil as the same, doing vicious deeds will still lead to malicious retributions. One who falls into the view of extermination will definitely devolve into the uninterrupted hell. This is the dangerous faulty cause!

Why did Sakyamuni Buddha expound the 84,000 dharma methods, the vast sutras in the Tripitaka, and the important essences of cultivation and dharma practice? Why didn’t the Buddha only use one Surangama Sutra to solve the myriad delusions living beings have? On the contrary, the Buddha showed many sutras and dharmas and clearly stipulated that one has to enter deeply into the collections of sutras to attain ocean-wide wisdom. This is exactly because the Buddha was concerned that living beings do not know the correct doctrine and instead would fall into the two trapping views of extermination and permanence. Therefore, the great matter of attaining accomplishment cannot be solved by just one Surangama Sutra or uttering a sentence of entering into the concentration of enlightening one’s mind and seeing one’s nature to prevent mental demons. That not only cannot lead to accomplishment, but also will create a demonic state of exterminating view and crazy intelligence and eventually causing one to descend to the hell realm. To become accomplished, one has to understand the reasoning of the dharma, cultivate oneself, practice the dharma, and abide by the precepts. None of these aspects can be ignored. Otherwise one would only know the Surangama Sutra superficially with partial knowledge and shallow understanding and will not understand the relationships between governing and subordinating and between emptiness and form to judge, analyze, and filter what one learns. Eventually, not only one is not able to become liberated and, on the contrary, the sin created by the mind will bring the malicious retribution of devolving into lower realms.

World Buddhism Association Headquarters (Seal stamped on every page)

                                    May 28, 2017