Taken from the book True Stories About a Holy Monk:
I have been in this earthly realm for ninety-three years. What I am about to say is entirely true and sincere. Only those who are most ignorant will break the precepts by speaking falsely. In so doing, they could be causing the fire of false speech to totally burn up the merit they have accumulated over many lifetimes and eons from having arduously and painstakingly cultivated themselves. I would never be so ignorant as to violate the precepts by speaking falsely and thereby burn up the merit I have accumulated over many years from self-cultivation. Therefore, the words I speak are true and not empty. I would also like to tell everyone that those who believe in my words will receive blessings and those who do not are to be pitied.
I directly manage the Correct Dharma Temple. Bodhi Monastery is also one of the temples which I directly manage. Do not think that it is just a very small place. The dharma is as big as the universe. Although the Grand Canyon is large, it is just a place to cultivate oneself. I do not transmit the dharma there. From small things, we can seek great things and thereby realize the truth. When the dharma conditions of those disciples who come here are mature, I will transmit the dharma to them and will perform initiations for them. Actually, this Monastery is already very big. Do you understand the principle “A sacred Buddhist temple could arise from a tiny place？” All right. If I speak too deeply you will not understand. I will now speak about my original subject!
Almost all Buddhists come to know, during their course of cultivation, the following dharma principle: One must go through countless eons of lifetimes and must constantly cultivate and practice the six paramitas before one is able to perfect the path leading to Buddhahood. Since this is a set dharma truth which cannot be changed, what dharma could there be which can lead one to liberation in this lifetime? Of course, there is such a dharma. This is the supreme, wonderful and deep dharma! We do not want to go through countless eons. We want to attain liberation in this lifetime. This is the dharma which I will speak about today to all of you.
Within Buddhist circles today throughout the world, especially in places where Chinese people live, there exists an extremely erroneous prejudice amongst most Buddhist disciples. This prejudice is especially evident in their treatment of various sects within Buddhism. Followers of one sect malign and slander other sects and even ridicule other sects as being evil or heterodox. There is a particularly great amount of maligning coming from followers of Exoteric Buddhism toward those who practice Esoteric Buddhism. On the other hand, followers of Esoteric Buddhism looking down upon followers of Exoteric Buddhism has also become a big problem within Buddhist circles.
I want to tell everyone here today that there have been many people who have recently said to me, “Elder Monk! I often come to see you. You are always transmitting to people conventional and very common Buddha-dharma such as reciting ‘Amitabha’ in order to be reincarnated into the Western Paradise or reciting ‘Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’ Such practices belong entirely to the Pure Land School. We have come here to learn Esoteric Buddhism. Why do you transmit to us the dharma of the Pure Land School and not the esoteric dharma? You are an Elder Dharma King who is a leader within Esoteric Buddhism. As you are greatly accomplished, you must know much esoteric dharma. Why do you not transmit to us esoteric dharma? Why do you transmit to us exoteric dharma or Pure Land dharma? Why do you lecture to everyone about the principles of meditation or explain to everyone the doctrine of ‘mind-only?’ We therefore feel that we are missing the true meaning of the esoteric dharma.”
Hence, I would like to tell all of you here that the viewpoints of such people are actually extremely erroneous. What is meant by Esoteric Buddhism? What is meant by Exoteric Buddhism? Our magnificent Dharma King Masters – whether it be Ah Wang Nuo Bu Pa Mu or Yangwo Yisinubu – have the viewpoints of a Buddha. I am not qualified to be a Buddha, but I handle matters by following the viewpoints of a Buddha. The Pure Land School, Exoteric Buddhism and the Ch’an (Zen) School are all originally the dharma of the Buddhas. Later generations of teachers separated them into different sects. It is just as I previously said. Different sects is a matter of different levels within a culture, different thoughts within a culture and different aspects within a culture. Yet, in the end, these differences all belong to the same culture. It is the same thing with the Buddha-dharma of Buddhism. No matter how you describe it, in the end it is the Buddha-dharma; that is, the correct Buddha-dharma.
Previously, and also just now, I heard people tell me that as a Dharma King of Esoteric Buddhism I should not speak about the Pure Land School or Exoteric Buddhism when teaching Esoteric Buddhism. This is the same principle I just spoke of. Those who think in such manner are mistaken. Actually, I have not only learned the esoteric dharma. Part of the dharma I have learned includes the Pure Land School. The dharma contained within Exoteric Buddhism is also part of the dharma I have learned. Of course, Ch’an (Zen) meditation is also part of the dharma I have learned. You do not understand this principle, but you should think for a moment about the following question: To which sect did Shakyamuni Buddha belong? There is only one sect! How do I know? Because I have been continuously learning Exoteric Buddhism and Esoteric Buddhism, Esoteric Buddhism and Exoteric Buddhism. I never made a distinction between the two since they both are the Buddha-dharma. The dharma spoken by Shakyamuni Buddha can be likened to different subjects within a curriculum. These different subjects need to be individually learned. However, the entire, complete dharma system which we practice and learn is one body. I can now recollect when I was an abbot a few dozen years ago. People would all say that I was a noble monk of Exoteric Buddhism. I have many photographs. They are black and white and are very old. They were taken when I was a monk of Exoteric Buddhism. Thinking about it now, I feel quite ashamed. I would not eat after noon. Therefore, my health was quite poor. I would become skinnier and skinnier as each day passed. Ah! This is due to not cultivating myself well! Yet what I was learning at that time was the Pure Land School, such as how to recite the name of Amitabha Buddha and learning the doctrines of the sutras relating to the dharma practice of reciting the name of Amitabha Buddha. I would not put down the Sukhavativyuha-sutra (Sutra of the Western Paradise), the Aparimitayus-sutra (Sutra of Unending Life) and various commentaries on those sutras. I would expound those works to others. I myself would practice and study them. The rush cushions on which I sat in the meditation hall became full of holes. Yet I was able to withstand this! We should also learn the dharma of “mind-only”!
Of course, these are things of the past. There are people who say to me, “Elder Dharma King! You are now very amazing! You have a dignified appearance. You are over ninety years old, yet it seems as if you are glowing with youth even more than when you were young. What, after all, is your secret? What dharma do you practice to attain this result?” I will tell all of you! What dharma? It is called the correct dharma of the Tathagata! Some people say it is the dharma of Esoteric Buddhism. This is wrong. Some people say it is the dharma of Exoteric Buddhism. This is wrong. Some people say it is the dharma of the Pure Land School. This is wrong. It is not any of these.
Now then, what is the dharma which I practice? You may call it the correct dharma of the Tathagata! What kind of monk am I? I am a humble monk! Esoteric Buddhism includes Exoteric Buddhism, the Pure Land School and all of the various sects. Therefore, I do not want to hear or read anything other than the correct Buddha-dharma. Hence, what I now want to say is that the Buddha-dharma is the body of liberating principles left behind by the Buddhas. You should not separate this body. The eighty-four thousand Buddhist methods are all part of the dharma. Whatever is appropriate for one to practice and learn is a good Buddha-dharma.
You will surely ask me why I do not practice and study the Pure Land School everyday and why I learn Esoteric Buddhism all day long. I am embarrassed to say it, but I will just tell you. The Pure Land School is truly very good. Amitabha Buddha, the founder of Esoteric Buddhism, saw that there were living beings who were suitable to learn the Pure Land School and he therefore transmitted such dharma. Amitabha Buddha has great compassion and loves living beings everywhere. How can we not follow in his footsteps? Hence, of course I want to spread the teachings of the Pure Land School and Exoteric Buddhism! However, it is not everyone who can understand the Pure Land School.
The Pure Land School is not a matter of just reciting “Amitabha Buddha” a few times. One cannot understand the Pure Land School by simply reading a few books such as the Sukhavativyuha-sutra (Sutra of the Western Paradise) or the Aparimitayus-sutra (Sutra of Unending Life). One must truly understand the Pure Land School. One must understand the purpose and the essence of the Pure Land School. Amitabha Buddha said if one recites his name at least ten times a day and if at the moment of death one’s entire mind is not confused, then he will lead that person who recited his name to the Western Paradise. Amitabha Buddha never spoke falsely since he is a Buddha. One who speaks falsely is not a Buddha.
There are many people who think, “Ah! I will recite the name of this Buddha. It will be so easy! After I recite this name I will be able to be reborn in the Western Paradise. I will not have to learn any other dharma.” Such a way of thought is truly biased and very erroneous. It is so mistaken! You must understand that reciting the name of this Buddha means recitation during which the entire mind is not confused. Only in this manner will one be able to be reborn in the Western Paradise.
What I just said is true, but you here cannot do it! Amitabha Buddha said “with the entire mind not confused.” The words “with the entire mind not confused” sounds quite easy. Can you explain what it means? Do you understand its inner meaning? What is meant by “with the entire mind not confused？” Simply put, it means that when reciting one sentence of “Homage to Amitabha Buddha” there is the form of one Amitabha Buddha in one’s mind. When reciting the second sentence there is still the form of one Amitabha Buddha in one’s mind. When reciting the third sentence there is still the form of one Amitabha Buddha in one’s mind. It does not mean that when one recites one sentence there is the form of one Amitabha Buddha, when one recites the second sentence there is the form of a second Amitabha Buddha and when one recites the third sentence there is the form of a third Amitabha Buddha. This would be a confused mind.
I will put it in simple terms for you. When one recites the name of Amitabha Buddha, the form of Amitabha Buddha in one’s mind is set and unmoving. This form is shining in one’s mind. When one reaches this level, Amitabha Buddha will lead you into the Western Paradise. This is called “with the entire mind not confused.” It does not mean during the time one recites the sentence one time a few other thoughts appear in the mind. It is difficult. It is more difficult than flying up to the sky! Many people do not understand this.
Moreover, the entire mind must not be confused at the moment of death. Do you understand what the moment of death will be like? At the moment of death the four great elements which compose the body – earth, water, fire and wind – break up. The six forms of consciousness disperse. It is painful and hard to endure. So many people at the moment of death suffer all sorts of pain. They struggle and moan. In coarse, worldly terms this is called “grasping for life.” Of course, the thoughts of such people will be confused.
I have seen many people whose thoughts were confused at the moment of death. Those who were unable to be reborn in the Western Paradise were in great pain! They recited the name of Amitabha Buddha their whole life yet when they were about to pass away they would exclaim, “Ah! Save me!” or they would struggle! People would tell them, “Quickly recite the name of Amitabha Buddha! Give rise to correct thoughts!” However, one would still hear their sad moaning, sorrowful utterances and low-spirited voices. Actually, their minds have long since been confused. With such confusion, it is not as if they will be able to enter concentration just because you tell them to give rise to correct thoughts. This requires skill! This requires the constant development of the power of concentration. The power of concentration comes from cultivation and from observing the precepts. If one does not engage in daily cultivation, then it will not be possible to attain the power of concentration.
All types of Buddhist disciples, listen to what I am about to say! If it were just a simple matter of reciting Amitabha Buddha with one’s entire mind not confused, then the Buddhas would not have taught the eighty-four thousand dharma methods and would not have told people to constantly practice the six paramitas! The Buddhas would never bring suffering unto others by unjustifiably teaching others that they must constantly practice the six paramitas and must cultivate themselves for countless eons before they can attain liberation. In other words, when death arrives, if you do not have certain skills from having cultivated yourself, then you will not be able to enter into concentration. Hence, you will be unable to have your entire mind free from confusion. Since you will be unable to have your entire mind free from confusion, you cannot, after all, blame Amitabha Buddha for not coming to lead you away to the Western Paradise.
Amitabha Buddha said that if your entire mind is not confused at the moment of death and you recite his name only ten times then he will come to lead you away to the Western Paradise. If you recite his name nine times without a confused mind but your mind is confused during the tenth recitation, then Amitabha Buddha will not be able to lead you away. It is not that he does not have responsibility to lead you away. It is that under such circumstances he cannot lead you away. You will not be able to sit upon the lotus blossom which will lead you away! It is like an electric wire – if any part of it is defective then electricity will not flow all the way through.
Therefore, you do not understand what type of pain one experiences at the moment of death. However, you can do a test on yourselves immediately. While I am speaking to you now, you can get an understanding of this pain. How can you get such an understanding? For example, you can immediately conduct a demonstration of what it is like when the great element of wind leaves your body or stops functioning within your body. Use your hands to cover your entire mouth and nose. Try this for no more than two minutes! While struggling, can you maintain a mind which is entirely free from confusion? I will tell you what it would be like! Even if you only experienced thirty to forty percent of the pain involved in not breathing, even if you did not experience sixty to seventy percent of such pain during those two minutes, I am afraid you would still not be able to maintain your entire mind free from confusion! Your mind would be hysterical and confused!
Therefore, cultivation is totally a matter of daily practice. One must engage in cultivation and practice concentration as much as possible on a daily basis. Only then can one be reborn in the Western Paradise. I am not saying this to scare you all. I am telling you the truth. I am speaking the truth. You would be able to immediately tell if I spoke falsely. If what I am saying is not true, if one who simply recites the name of Amitabha Buddha can one hundred percent rest assured that he will be reborn in the Western Paradise, the Buddhas would not have taught that one must constantly practice the six paramitas and would not have established so many precepts and rules of disciple to restrain everybody. It would be so easy. One would just recite the name of Amitabha Buddha ten times and one would be reborn in the Western Paradise. There would be no need for the sutras. The Tripitaka could be burned up. We would only need to keep the Aparimitayus-sutra (Sutra of Unending Life) and that would be enough. We would not need the Sukhavativyuha-sutra (Sutra of the Western Paradise). Think carefully about what I am saying. I am telling you that its import is deep! Carefully ponder it over!
Now then, there are those who think that as long as they recite the name of Amitabha Buddha with the most sincere heart possible they will be able to see Amitabha Buddha. They think that especially if one engages in the austere practice of prolonged samadhi one will be able to see Amitabha Buddha and will certainly be reborn in the Western Paradise. However, I will clearly tell all of you something today. It is true that the merit gained through practicing prolonged concentration is great. Nevertheless, it is not the case that if for three months one does not sleep, does not engage in sitting meditation and engages in standing visualization and recitation that one will then be able to see Amitabha Buddha. Actually, many virtuous cultivators who lived in ancient times practiced prolonged concentration not only once or twice. Some even practiced it eight or nine times. With respect to some of them, this resulted in their legs becoming disabled or their bodies becoming sick. Yet they still did not see Amitabha Buddha. Some of them were even unable to have control over life and death and their disciples were unable to receive any empowerment from the Buddha-dharma. History shows that some of them were even unable to protect their inanimate temples which disappeared without a trace.
What is the reason for this, after all? It is mainly because they did not truly hold the secret of the Pure Land School. What is this secret? Some say, “The secret is reciting the name of Amitabha Buddha according to the teachings of the sutras.” As far as I am concerned, the minds of these people are probably somewhat muddled! What they say is too simple! Those who understand the secret understand it. Those who do not understand it can read the sutras over and over and still will not understand the secret. I believe that there will be a day when the dharma conditions will be mature for me to tell you this inexhaustibly profound principle of the Pure Land School. Before the time comes for me to tell you, your primary concerns should be to abstain from doing anything wrong, to practice doing all good deeds and to recite the name of Amitabha Buddha with a concentrated mind. Amitabha Buddha is extremely magnificent. We should have unlimited respect and admiration for him.
With respect to Esoteric Buddhism, Amitabha Buddha is, of course, its founder. Within Esoteric Buddhism he also transmits the lofty dharma of the Pure Land School. One can only say that the dharma of Esoteric Buddhism is not the same as the dharma of the exoteric Pure Land School with respect to the method of being reborn in the Western Paradise. The dharma of Esoteric Buddhism achieves the same goal but with means that are different from the Pure Land School. What is most important concerning the dharma of Esoteric Buddhism is the empowerment one receives from reciting mantras and from the lineage of one’s sect. Simply put, the esoteric method is somewhat more secure. This is what I want to say. With the esoteric method, one does not need any of the dharmas which require one to go through countless eons before attaining liberation. Although one can attain liberation in this lifetime, one must nevertheless seriously cultivate oneself. I am not saying here that merely reciting the name of Amitabha Buddha is not good. Reciting the name of Amitabha Buddha is very good. If your daily power of concentration is good and you are able to cause your entire mind to be free of confusion, then this is excellent! You would all be my good disciples! Hence, the Pure Land School is a good Buddha-dharma. Its essence lies in achieving a state wherein the entire mind is not confused. The Pure Land School within Esoteric Buddhism is different due to the empowerment one receives from reciting mantras and from the lineage of one’s sect. Actually, they both are good Buddha-dharmas.
With respect to the matter of awakening to one’s original mind and understanding one’s original nature through the practice of Ch’an (Zen) Buddhism, one can meditate upon or contemplate the answer to a koan, water, light, a temple, a Bodhisattva, the question “who am I?”, the question “where did I come from and where will I go?”, the question “at this present moment, is this me?”, a seed of a cypress tree in front of a pagoda or a leaf from a tree. One gets at the root of things and contemplates until one can contemplate no more, until one reaches a state where there are no more thoughts yet at the same time it is not the case that there are no more thoughts. All thoughts are empty. At this time one realizes one’s original nature and in an instant clearly sees one’s original mind. One thoroughly sees one’s original nature. These are the principles of the Ch’an school. I cannot explain them to you clearly. Only those who have engaged in contemplation and meditation and who have certain skills in this regard know the meaning of what I am now saying.
The Ch’an School is a good dharma by which many founders of sects throughout the generations have attained liberation. However, it is always those of great virtue and eminent monks who have attained liberation. With respect to ordinary people attaining enlightenment through the Ch’an School, well, I do not want to say whether the Ch’an School is good or not. You should bear in mind that otherwise, the Buddhas would not have said that one must go through countless eons before attaining liberation!
I think that in Taiwan many people practice Ch’an. There are also many people in Mainland China who practice Ch’an. There are also many people in Canada who practice Ch’an. They have practiced for many years. Ask them if they have attained enlightenment and, if so, how they attained enlightenment and what enlightenment they attained. I do not want to comment upon whether the Ch’an School is good, bad or mediocre. There indeed have been many founders of sects who have attained enlightenment through this school. Yet, they were founders of sects. What enlightenment have ordinary people attained through practicing the Ch’an School? Even Hsuan Hua [Founder of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas north of Ukiah, California], who always regarded himself as belonging to the Ch’an School, was in great pain at the time of his death and could not make any decisions himself.
Hence, as part of the Esoteric dharma, the Buddhas have transmitted The Mahamudra of Brightness, The Mahamudra of the Ganges River, The Heart Within the Heart, The Great Perfection, etc. By way of the book Zhong Guan Jian one can understand and can directly give rise to realization of one’s original nature. This is especially true with respect to The Mahamudra of Brightness which is similar to contemplating the answers to koans. However, this Mahamudra causes one to become clearly aware of one’s original mind and to thoroughly see one’s original nature by relying upon a special type of empowerment. To put it bluntly, it is a type of empowerment. The two types of dharma are good. The Ch’an School is good and Esoteric Buddhism is good. Both are good Buddha-dharma. There are those who say to me, “Dharma King! It seems as though you always prefer to some extent Esoteric Buddhism.” I will tell you! I just said that both types of dharma are good. Why do you think that I have a preference? You might say, “I heard you say that Esoteric Buddhism contains empowerment or other types of power. The Ch’an School does not contain such things.” Right. I will answer you! You cannot say that I speak falsely. What I will say is sincere. What I will say is true. The Buddhas do not speak falsely. I must emulate the Buddhas by not speaking falsely!
Both dharmas are good. You will know whether what I say is true as soon as you hear it. Thus, I admire the Ch’an School. After one realizes the highest principles through practicing Ch’an, it is the same as the esoteric dharma. There is no difference. However, the methods of the Ch’an School or what modern people would call the “work” of the Ch’an School is different from the “work” of Esoteric Buddhism. The methods of “work” are different. The processes for attaining the various levels of realization which one achieves are different. Yet, they are both dharma of the Buddhas. Any dharma is good if one can grasp its essence and thereby instantly become accomplished by entering into the truth of the Tathagata.
In summary, the Pure Land School, the Ch’an School, the Mind-Only School which investigates consciousness and the Discipline School where one practices the precepts and rules, are all good Buddha-dharma. But some say that reciting the precepts and rules is the best and that reciting the precepts and rules is tantamount to seeing the Buddha. Mere memorization and recitation of the precepts and rules is of no use. One must abide by the precepts and rules. One is acting correctly only if one follows the precepts and rules. Only if one abides by and acts in accordance with the precepts and rules is one correct. Only those who abide by and act in accordance with the precepts and rules can be called true cultivators. If after one recites the precepts and rules one does no more, then this practice is of no benefit. After one memorizes them one must apply them!
In summary, no matter what the sect may be, they all belong to the dharma spoken by the Buddhas. They are all good dharma. I have practiced these various dharmas and their wonderful effects are inexhaustible. However, you definitely must not regard Buddhist studies as the Buddha-dharma itself or popular Buddhism as the essence of the dharma.
I have been practicing the Buddha-dharma my whole life, beginning when I was a child. This year I am ninety-three years old. Hence, I have experienced weariness and fatigue. Yet, no matter whether it was weariness or fatigue, after experiencing it I forgot about it. Even time itself is just impermanent. The Vajra hair in between my eyebrows has grown more than one foot long. My beard will grow to be as long as my body. What, after all, is the reason for this? This proves that the magnificent power of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is so real and strong and that I have received empowerment from a true lineage within Esoteric Buddhism. Yet, the empowerment from a lineage is a type of manifestation of the dharma. Nevertheless, the Buddha gave a simile wherein he compared the dharma to a raft. After I attain liberation, I will not want this Vajra hair. If I were to want it for something, I would use it as part of my waistband! My beard would also then be of no use. All of these things can be called impermanent!
The Buddhas taught us that we should not cling to even the dharma, let alone that which is not the dharma! Previously, I practiced on a continuing basis the Pure Land School, the Ch’an School and the exoteric teachings. I have not now forgotten them. Whenever and wherever possible, I delve into the dharma of these schools since they are part of the dharma I have learned. Of course, the dharma of Esoteric Buddhism is also part of the dharma I have learned.
In brief, what have I learned? What, after all, have I learned? The correct dharma of the Tathagata! This is what I want to say. Some say, “What is so strange about growing Vajra hair? It is supernormal power.” All right. Let’s assume they are right. They themselves must be eminent monks or people of great virtue. Manifest the dharma for us. Grow a few Vajra hairs for everyone to see. It is too bad that they do not possess the true Buddha-dharma and that they therefore cannot manifest the dharma. Of course, they have some thoughts which are acceptable. However, incorrect thoughts will bring about hindrances and cause them to lose correct understanding. It may even result in the dharma protecting deities being unwilling to follow them. I previously went through the following negative course of events for a certain period of time. When my Dharma King Master was performing an initiation and empowerment for me, he said, “I will cause your countenance to become extremely solemn and dignified, like that of a Great Virtuous One.” At the time, I silently thought to myself, “This ugly face of mine is like that of an ape. The Master will be able to make it more solemn and dignified only to a limited extent.”
Each day, time passed by. As I grew older in years, my impermanent face became more and more ugly. One day, my Dharma King Master called me to his side. He pointed to me and said, “How is your cultivation going?” I said, “It is all in conformity with the dharma.” He said, “Show me that which is in conformity with the dharma.” I said, “That which is in conformity with the dharma cannot be seen.” He again said, “Show me that which cannot be seen.” I said, “That which cannot be seen is here.” He said, “What thing can be called this?” I said, “That which is a thing is also not a thing.” He said, “In name there are material things. We know that in reality a thing is itself dharma and is itself empty. Knowing it’s a thing, one does not become attached to it being a thing or it not being a thing. One does not cling to either things or dharma. Form and emptiness are not different. One should not become attached to form or emptiness.” I said, “Amitabha.” He said, “Has your countenance improved?” I said, “It is more and more ugly.” He said, “All right. Come to me on your knees.” I lowered my head and on my knees made my way to the Dharma King Master’s dharma seat. He allowed me to raise my head. Just as I was raising my head, I heard two slapping sounds. He had slapped me in the face twice. After the slapping sounds subsided, he sternly said to me, “Your thought of doubt toward me which you previously harbored has caused you to be unable to receive empowerment. Those on the first Bodhisattva level do not understand the matters of the second Bodhisattva level. You, who have the potential to become one of the greatest Dharma Kings in this generation – it is truly pitiful. Go and contemplate this!”
Actually, at that time I had already understood. One cannot give rise to doubt about what the Master says. I underwent a true repentance. It is true that the mysteries of the Buddha-dharma transcend all of the impermanent things of the world. In just one short month, my face suddenly changed dramatically to become solemn and dignified. To put it in worldly terms, it became awe-inspiring and very good-looking! Those disciples of mine who had not seen me for a few months could barely recognize me. Some of them even spoke absurdly by saying, “Our Master ascended to heaven and thoroughly remolded himself. This is truly a first in this world!” Actually, this is not the case. The transformation of my countenance to become solemn and dignified is totally due to the empowerment of my Dharma King Master and my three karmas of conduct, speech and thought corresponding with the teachings of my Dharma King Master! What is this? This is called the true and correct dharma of the Tathagata.
Today, I want to transmit to everybody a most essential Buddha-dharma. This is the will of the magnificent Buddhas. It is also the dharma truth of my supreme Master, Great Dharma King Yangwo Yisinubu. You should print the dharma words I am about to say in larger typeset in order to cause those who are cultivating themselves to reflect upon them and act in accordance with them. This is because only by relying upon this dharma truth have I been able to attain my present state of realization.
Why is it that amongst one thousand cultivators it is difficult to find even one who has control over life and death? There are two reasons for this. First, they have not followed a true Master who is an incarnation of a Buddha or Bodhisattva. They have not learned the true Buddha-dharma. Perhaps they have only learned popular Buddhism and Buddhist theories and principles. Second, they are already following a true Master who is an incarnation of a Buddha or Bodhisattva and who has come to this world in response to its needs. They have learned the true Buddha-dharma. However, their three karmas of conduct, speech and thought do not correspond with the teachings of the Master. That is, they have not treated the Four Gems with a sincere heart. In other words, they are cultivating themselves in a false manner. As such, they will not be able to attain liberation, nor will they obtain blessings and wisdom. It will be impossible for them to end the cycle of birth and death.
There are only these two types of situations. If one learns the true Buddha-dharma and if one lives loyally, in accordance with the dharma, and with one’s three karmas corresponding with the teachings of the Master, then one will naturally receive unlimited blessings. Ending the cycle of birth and death will be close at hand and as easy as turning over one’s hand. It will be so easy.
Now then, what is meant by devotion to the Four Gems? It means the Four States of Corresponding. That is, one should perfect the Four States of Corresponding. What are the Four States of Corresponding? The Four States of Corresponding are as follows. First, one must be wholeheartedly loyal to the Four Gems. Second, this loyalty must never change. Third, no other person should be placed above the Master and the Three Gems. Fourth, one must attain the level of one hundred percent devotion.
It is just these four principles. If one can successfully practice these four principles, then becoming accomplished in every respect will be as easy as turning over one’s hand. If these four principles are not successfully practiced, all cultivation that one undertakes is for naught. Only by successfully practicing these four principles can one attain the state wherein one’s three karmas correspond with the teachings of the Master one hundred percent. If one can attain this state, then within a three month period one will be able to have control over life and death and obtain unlimited blessings and wisdom.
If one only attains ninety percent of this state of perfect correspondence, then after a few years of cultivation one will be able to obtain unlimited blessings and have control over life and death. If one only attains eighty percent, then after about a dozen years one will be able to obtain unlimited blessings and great wisdom and have control over life and death. If one only attains seventy percent, then after a few dozen years one’s blessings will grow and one will have control over life and death. If one only attains sixty percent, then it can only be said that this person will attain liberation at the moment of death. Buddhist disciples who have attained accomplishment through their practice are at this level. If one only attains fifty percent, then there is no hope that this person will receive blessings and become liberated. Of course, such things are out of the question for those who attain only forty percent or thirty percent. This is because as far as the level of devotion is concerned, someone with less than fifty percent is already not a true Buddhist disciple. This person will be unable to receive the empowerment of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
Now there are some people who think that they are one hundred percent loyal to the Four Gems. Why is it that they have not experienced any real and beneficial effects after a few dozen years of practice? This is because they think of themselves as being one hundred percent loyal. Yet, if they would calm down and reflect a moment on the following questions, they would understand whether or not they are devout: Am I wholeheartedly loyal to the Four Gems? Has this loyalty never changed? Have I placed any other person above the Master and the Three Gems? Have I attained the level of one hundred percent devotion? At this time you should ponder the following: Have you doubted the Master and the Three Gems? Are you still in a state of doubt at the present moment? When someone’s viewpoint differs from that of the Master or when someone’s viewpoint is at odds with the Three Gems, do you unhesitatingly take the side of the Master? Do you unhesitatingly take the side of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas? Or, do you take the side of those who oppose the Master? If even an ordinary person can cause you to take his side and together with him speak in opposition to the Master or the Three Gems, then you have not been a devout Buddhist disciple for even one day or one moment from the time you began to learn Buddhism!
I ask you in all seriousness, are you wholeheartedly loyal to the Four Gems? I again ask you, is this loyalty unchanging? I again ask you, have you placed no other person above the Master and the Three Gems? I again ask you, have you attained the level of one hundred percent devotion? If you have not met these standards, then your learning the Buddha-dharma is just a matter of temporary interest. You do not even realize that you have been cheating yourself for several years. Of course you will not be able to obtain blessings and wisdom and will not be able to end the cycle of birth and death. This is because you cannot experience any real and beneficial effects from your practice. How could you possibly attain control over life and death? As such, what awaits you is the mass of suffering connected with reincarnation, with birth, ageing, sickness and death, with hell, and with other suffering emanating from impermanence, etc.
I clearly tell you that I have successfully practiced these four principles. Therefore, I, Dorje Losang, am what I am today. The Vajra hair between my eyebrows is a sign of the magnificence of the Buddha-dharma. My being empowered through nectar bestowed by the Buddhas was a result of my having attained the Four States of Corresponding. Therefore, in Esoteric Buddhism, before a great dharma is transmitted to a disciple, that disciple must successfully undergo years of tests and trials. Otherwise, one might mistakenly regard a demon or evil spirit as a follower of the dharma. If a great dharma is transmitted to such demon or evil spirit, this would be harmful to other living beings. There are some demons who avail themselves of the power of the Evil One to hide their real form. It is therefore difficult to see their original demonic form. Thus, one must observe the disciple in order to decide whether to transmit the dharma to him. All evil spirits and demons cannot even slightly enter into the Four States of Corresponding.
I originally planned to stop speaking when I got to this point. However, there might be those who say, “You have spoken so long and it still seems as if you think Esoteric Buddhism is right. This is because you are a Dharma King within Esoteric Buddhism.” However you think is up to you. Think whatever you want to think! The key point is that you must quickly get rid of these thoughts; otherwise, you will not be able to cut off attachment to the concept of self. How will you then be able to enter into concentration?
In summary, I still say to you that all Buddha-dharma is good. As long as the dharma corresponds with the practitioner it is good. I have learned all of the various sects. There are those who contend that Mahayana Buddhists say that Hinayana Buddhism is not good and that Hinayana Buddhists say that Mahayana Buddhism is not good. Both such positions are mistaken. In the present time and throughout the generations the enlightened, sacred wishes of those who followed Mahayana Buddhism have, of course, been wonderful. Yet, adherence to the precepts and discipline by followers of Hinayana Buddhism is something which followers of Mahayana Buddhism cannot match. The few dozen methods of the Hinayana practice of Guan Bo Nian is something which Mahayana Buddhism does not have. Each has its advantages. Any dharma which enables one to end the cycle of birth and death is good dharma!
I, a Dharma King, am clearly telling all of you that I do not have any biases toward one dharma or another. Although I am a very humble monk, I have nevertheless successfully learned not to have such biases. Shakyamuni Buddha, the World Honored One, understood. He did not have biases. He did not. All dharmas were good. Of course, I cannot compare myself with Shakyamuni Buddha. I am so much worse than him. Shakyamuni Buddha stands on a high mountain. I stand on the level ground near the foot of the mountain. Ah! I am so ashamed! So ashamed! I have lived in vain for all these many years.
Whether you say to others that I said Esoteric Buddhism is good or that I said Exoteric Buddhism is not good, I nonetheless want to remind you of something. Ah Wang Nuo Bu Pa Mu is so magnificent. She empowered my beard. My Dharma King Master who is the supreme leader of Esoteric Buddhism, Yangwo Yisinubu, caused my Vajra hair in between my eyebrows to grow again. This Vajra hair is presently right here before your eyes. It has grown so long, more than one foot. With respect to my state of realization, there is no need to describe this to you. I fear that if I did, you would be so startled.
My Vajra hair and my beard have continued to vigorously grow. This is rare in history. I just said that I would someday use my Vajra hair in my waistband. Can it be said that I am thereby defaming the esoteric dharma? No matter what anyone says, in the future there will be a time when I will not want it. It is exactly what I said: even the dharma should not be clung to! I want to speak the truth! I am not belittling Esoteric Buddhism!
As to how you should select a particular Buddha-dharma to learn, this will depend upon your own circumstances and conditions! I hope that you will be able to open up a special type of wisdom which emanates from the eight forms of consciousness and that you will give up the illusory states within the eight forms of consciousness. I hope that you will transform consciousness into wisdom. When you then read what I am now saying, you will be able to find correct understanding and will be able to recognize what the best Buddha-dharma is. Amitabha!
Someone who heard the lecture asks the Dharma King: “After hearing the lecture given by the Elder Dharma King, I understand the principles which you, the Elder Dharma King, were expounding – that is, that all of the Buddha-dharma is the same. Now then, I would like to ask the Elder Dharma King to explain: Are all dharmas which are taught in the various temples all the same, no matter who the monk or Dharma Teacher may be? I ask the Elder Dharma King explain this for all living beings.”
There is some merit to this statement, yet it is definitely not the correct concept. That is to say, as long as the dharma which is taught in the various temples is in accord with and based upon the dharma taught in the sutras, then one can say that the dharma taught in these various temples is the same. The difference lies in the Dharma Teacher or lay person who is teaching this dharma. Does this person have correct understanding? Does he lead people into heterodox or erroneous views? Does he lead people into prejudices? Does he teach the study of Buddhism as if it were the Buddha-dharma itself? Does he take popular Buddhism to be the nature of truth itself? If so, this would be terrible. The difference between teachers could lead to extremely different results.
Therefore, this difference results in some cultivators being able to attain liberation in a very short time, whereas other cultivators cultivate themselves their entire lives, yet at the moment of death they have not accomplished anything. These different results are directly related to the person’s practice of the dharma and the teacher who instructs him. For example, those who practice by themselves at home can only be said to be cultivating their roots of goodness. They could not possibly master correct understanding. Nobody is guiding them. Without the guidance of a true Great Virtuous One, what accomplishment could they attain? They will not become accomplished and will not be able to liberate themselves from the cycle of birth and death!
Hence, in one’s cultivation one must follow a Great Virtuous One who has true realization. This Dharma Teacher of course must be a true Dharma Teacher. For example, if you come to the Grand Canyon area or Bodhi Monastery and learn from me how to cultivate, then I will guarantee that you will become accomplished. If you go to other places, I do not know whether the Dharma Teacher there has correct understanding or whether the lay teacher there has the power to save other living beings. I do not wish to criticize others. As long as they do things for the benefit of living beings then they are earning some merit. I, as a practitioner, do not want to speak of the good and bad points of others. Thus, I cannot guarantee what they teach will lead to any accomplishment.
Some people like to learn the esoteric dharma. However, it is now the Dharma Ending Age where esoteric dharma “masters” are everywhere. If these “masters” do not claim to be a Buddha then they claim to be a Great Bodhisattva. Actually, most of them are charlatans and evil spirits. If you truly like to learn the esoteric dharma, I would like to recommend a book which has already been translated into Chinese. The name of the book is Great Dharma Which Will Definitely Lead to Liberation. It is also called The Dharma of Liberation. Those who have mastered this dharma are true Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who have come to this world again. Those who have not mastered this dharma do not have the state of realization of a Great Bodhisattva. Starting from Master Padmasambhava, each generation of Great Masters had to perform this dharma ceremony when they selected their disciples and the disciples had to participate in this dharma ceremony when they selected their Master. The Master who practices this dharma must have supernormal dharma powers since beginningless time in order to observe intricate and complicated causal conditions which have accumulated over many lifetimes and eons. Without such powers, when the fifty to one thousand or so disciples who are together at the mandala each tear their own paper in half, keeping one half and mixing the other half together, how could the Master see everything clearly, state the names of each person to whom the half piece of paper which has been mixed together belongs, and return the half piece paper to the owner of the paper so that the he can put the two pieces of paper together again, all without making the slightest mistake? These are causal conditions which can be observed by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
Therefore, if those who learn the esoteric dharma do not read this book, then they will be apt to mistakenly believe that every Rinpoche is a Buddha or Bodhisattva who has come to this world again. They will easily deviate from the correct path. Of course, abilities just described emanate from the state of realization attained by a Master on the level of a Buddha or Mahasattva. It cannot be said that there is no difference between different Buddha-dharmas. Although I said that the Pure Land School, the Ch’an School and Esoteric Buddhism are all good, did I not tell you all that you should yourselves experience the differences between them? For example, there is the highest holy dharma. With respect to the Pure Land School, only at the end of one’s entire life is the crown of one’s head opened and one is reborn in the Western Paradise. There is a dharma where the crown is opened after a few dozen years or even one hundred years. There is a dharma where the crown is opened after a few days. There is a dharma where the crown is opened after a few hours. There is also a dharma where the crown is opened after a few minutes.
The differences between these dharmas is rather large. This is the mystery and profundity of the various dharma methods. This even has to do with the Inner Esoteric Initiation. There is the case where, within a few minutes, one will be able to be reborn in the Western Paradise. There is also the case where, after a few dozen years, one will be able to be reborn in the Western Paradise. This is the difference between various Buddha-dharmas. This is the mystery of the Buddha-dharma.
I will clearly tell you all that the supreme and holy dharma is not something which ordinary people can grasp. It is also not something which people who are members of societal organizations which are in a state of utter confusion, such as Falungong, and who do not even have a basic understanding of the Buddha-dharma can know. I, as a Dharma King, have this supreme and holy dharma. This dharma is the mother of all dharmas. This dharma definitely can cause one to end the cycle of birth and death as easily as turning over one’s hand. What, after all, is this dharma? As I said before, the dharma taught by the Buddhas! I have now mastered this dharma. It is truly the supreme Buddha-dharma. I am not saying that it belongs to any particular sect in order to avoid disputes between various sects. I will, of course, teach this dharma to those people whose conditions and circumstances cause them to meet up with me. Amitabha!
(After the Dharma King spoke, he put his palms together in respect. Instantly, he rose in the air about three feet. He calmly and motionlessly hung in the air. At this time all of us were startled. At the same time, we received empowerment. Each of us entered into a state of calm imperturbability, lightness and peace. The Buddha-dharma is the Buddha-dharma. It is not the same as Buddhist studies. It is not the same as popular Buddhism. Only the unification of the Three Gates is the essential truth!
After about two hours we all came out of our state of concentration. Miao-Yin Shih then asked the Elder Dharma King, “Elder Monk, we have read in the newspaper that you are a Master at raising the spirits of the dead to higher realms, that you are a savior of dead spirits. We learned that you will be raising the spirits of the dead and providing empowerment for two ossuaries in Taiwan. Would the Elder Monk be willing to describe the underlying causal conditions for this?” The Elder Monk provided the following answer.
You are a member of this temple, yet you still ask such a question. Is this not a case of asking a question while clearly knowing the answer?
Miao-Yin Shih said, “Elder Monk, I am asking on behalf of all living beings! Many people ask me about this. I cannot carelessly answer them.” The Elder Monk then spoke as follows.
Listen carefully and I will tell you the situation accurately. You should not use the phrase “underlying causal conditions,” all right? People of the world would like to know why! They want to know why I want to raise the spirits of the dead for these two ossuaries and what offerings I received for this! Today I will openly tell the people of the world that pervasively saving living beings in the six realms of existence is my natural instinct. The Buddhas do such things. This is part of my practice of the Buddha-dharma which my Buddha Master wants me to undertake. Do you mean to say that I should not imitate the Buddhas but rather should imitate demons?
It is true that they published an article in the newspaper. I know of this article and it is accurate. However, I practice only for those two ossuaries. I am a humble monk and do not have such great abilities. I dare not attempt to raise the spirits of all of the dead. If I promise to raise too many spirits then I will not be able to complete the task of raising spirits to higher realms. If I promise to raise their spirits yet am not able to complete the task, then I must shoulder such karma and responsibility. If I say that I will raise their spirits and in the end am unable to do so, then this would create a karmic offense.
I already said that I will raise the spirits of all of those dead people who have memorial tablets at the two ossuaries in Taiwan where the spirits of the dead will be raised to the Western Paradise – the Great Fortune Golden Throne Ossuary and the Taipei Holy City Ossuary. I will also empower all those who are alive and have placed memorial tablets in these two ossuaries. I will dedicate the merit to the spirits of the dead which I raise and to those people who are alive who I empower. I do not violate the precept against lying. One who is enlightened and enlightens others does not lie.
Do not worry. I will not undertake this task by way of a Mt. Meng Dharma Assembly, Flaming Mouth Dharma Assembly or Water-Land Dharma Assembly. I will use an esoteric dharma method which never fails in order to liberate the spirits of the dead and empower those who are alive. I originally did not intend to tell you about this.However, if I do not tell you then you will give rise to the hindrance of doubt, thus producing negative karma. So I will just tell you! In order to bring happiness to living beings and fulfill my wishes, I will use the highest esoteric dharma of the Unsurpassed Group – nectar bestowed by the Buddhas – so as to liberate the spirits of the dead. I will use the Long Life Increased Happiness Nectar Dharma in order to empower those who are alive.
It seems nowadays that every Dharma Teacher and Rinpoche are able to successfully practice the nectar dharma. Actually, with respect to this matter, everybody is mistaken. What is called nectar by the average worldly person is water or Chinese medicinal herbs which have been empowered by mantras. These are used as substitutes for real nectar. When one looks at the history of Tibetan Buddhism, Master Padmasambhava and the other Masters did not use water as a substitute. What, after all, did they use as a substitute? I will clearly tell all of you. They did not use any substitute. Nectar is nectar. Nectar is a sacred thing which is directly bestowed by the Buddhas from the sky. It is something which emanates from nothing. Only this is true nectar! This nectar possesses the unlimited empowerment of the Buddhas. The merit true nectar contains is a billion times greater than the merit contained by water which substitutes for it. Therefore, I, Dorje Losang, dared to agree to undertake this task for them.
I will openly practice this dharma. When the time comes, I will invite some great Buddhist practitioners and those with great merit to view the ceremony live and receive empowerment. What is more important is to have them personally view the sacred sight of nectar being bestowed so that they know what true nectar is. With such people as witnesses, this will help prevent those people who disrespect the Buddha-dharma from committing the offense of alleging that such ceremony was false. All of you must bear in mind that I, Dorje Losang, have never violated the precept against lying.
With respect to what benefits I will receive, I will certainly receive benefits. This is because raising the spirits of the dead and empowering those who are alive are benefits from cultivation. They are benefits which naturally arise. These benefits should not be clung to. When they pass away they are gone. With respect to the benefit of receiving offerings, it is true that those two ossuaries presented me with around fifty thousand U.S. dollars. Even before they came to the monastery’s gate, I notified my attendant not to accept one cent. My disciples and I do not want their money. I will never accept money or offerings from those two ossuaries where the spirits of the dead will be raised to the Western Paradise. Undertaking this task is part of my cultivation. It is not done to receive money. This will never change. This is what I, Dorje Losang, want to tell all of you.
At this time, Zhishen asked, “The Elder Dharma King uses nectar bestowed by the Buddhas to empower and raise the spirits of the dead. Does the 17th Karmapa Great Jewel Dharma King also use nectar to raise the spirits of the dead and empower?” The Elder Dharma King answered as follows.
Using nectar bestowed by the Buddhas to raise the spirits of the dead and empower is something which I do. They also accumulate great merit when they recite sutras and practice the dharma.
“I would like to ask another question. There is now a controversy over which of two people is the 17th Karmapa Great Jewel Dharma King. Which one is real and which one is false? It is difficult to determine. Which one, after all, is the true one?” The Elder Dharma King answered as follows.
This is an important matter about which Buddhists all over the world are concerned. If I now tell you which one is the true one, people of the world would not necessarily believe me. In order to have people of the world truly believe, we have to look to Great Dharma King Yangwo Yisinubu. This is because he is able to have the true dharma wheel of a Vajrayana Great Dharma King exhibit supernormal powers concerning important matters. Through this dharma wheel, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas residing in space would clearly let people of the world know which one is true. At that time, even Great Rinpoches or Great Dharma Teachers would not be able to think of a pretext upon which they could oppose such a result.
I stood up and asked the Elder Monk, “Elder Monk, there is something which I dare not ask.” The Elder Monk said the following.
If you do not dare ask then do not ask! Of course, you heard that heavenly beings offer me food and that I therefore do not accept offerings from people. How could I have such a high state of realization to enjoy the offerings of heavenly beings? My Buddha Master treats all living beings in the three spheres of existence with a humble heart. Can it be said that I do not have even the slightest humbleness?
Wow! How amazing! How is it that he told me what I was thinking even before I opened my mouth? The Elder Monk then said the following.
Do not make blind and disorderly conjectures. Since I am giving all of you a discourse here today, you should remember my words. I hope you will not forget them.
I said, “We will not forget them. We have written them down.” The Elder Monk then said as follows.
I know that you have written my words down. All of you, take a look around to see how many people are listening to my discourse. Maybe after a moment, a certain person might not be here; I don’t know.
We raised our heads to look around. All of us knew each other. At this time the Elder Monk said as follows.
How can all of you people here truly understand the profound mystery of the Buddha-dharma? This is the true Buddha-dharma and it contains profound mystery. Ta-Yeou knows something about this.
The Elder Monk left the hall and walked away. However, all of us stayed there and continued the discussion. Many people spoke about how the Caucasian person translated Chinese into English so well. Then, Ta-Herng Shih said, “Where was there a Caucasian who translated? Nobody was translating!” Everyone there immediately began to argue over this matter. Some people said that there was a Caucasian male who translated. Some people said that there was a Caucasian female who translated. Some people said that there was a Tibetan Rinpoche who translated. Some people said that there was never anyone there who translated. Everybody argued intensely over this matter and even took oaths of truth. Although I did not see anybody translate, nevertheless something dawned on me at this time and I said, “Let’s not argue! Didn’t the Elder Monk make a prophesy when he said, ‘a certain person might not be here; I don’t know’? Let’s all go to the Elder Monk to verify the correct version!” It was already past 2:00 in the morning. Dharma Teacher Ta-Yeou said, “It is too late. We will go and ask him tomorrow!” However, everybody’s opinions still differed. In order to clarify this matter, everybody went out to seek the Elder Monk. The Elder Monk was standing outside the door waiting. He said as follows.
This is what is meant by the profound mystery contained within the Buddha-dharma. I said that all of you do not understand this, yet you are still so proud. Somethingness is nothingness. Nothingness is somethingness. Emptiness is form. Form is emptiness. The mind is self. The self is the mind. The mind is also not somethingness. Somethingness is also not the mind. The self is also not the dharma. The dharma is also not the self. There is no dharma and no self. Emptiness as the ultimate reality is the true dharma and self. All of you constantly think that I have great supernormal powers, that I have unlimited dharma powers. This is quite erroneous. I am a humble monk. What abilities do I have? It must be that your minds have given rise to illusions and self-fabricated sensations. Amitabha! Class is over!
After he spoke, the Elder Monk went directly back to his room.