A True Account of Henghsing Gyatso Rinpoche Learning a Dharma, Spending Time in Retreat, and Coming Out of Meditation
(article appeared in the Taiwan Daily):
Henghsing Gyatso Rinpoche is a disciple of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu. His last incarnation was in Tibet. In this lifetime, he was born in Taiwan and is now sixty years old. H.H. Great Dharma King conferred an initiation upon him and transmitted dharma to him. He thereby learned the highest dharma essence of Shakyamuni Buddha—the practice of vajra meditation. He went into retreat during which he meditated for 27 days, 22 days of which he did not touch any water or food. All of the food and liquid sent in to him was returned untouched.
On April 10, 2005, Henghsing Gyatso Rinpoche came out of retreat. His face was placid. He had become thin, but his spirit was glowing. The first thing he did after he left the meditation cushion was prostrate before an image of his Vajra Master, H.H. Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu, in order to express his appreciation. He had finally learned the highest Buddha-dharma. He had finally attained true skills relating to the magnificent meditation Buddha-dharma that leads to enlightening one’s mind and seeing one’s original nature. He was happy for all living beings in that there truly exists such a wonderful and precious meditation dharma method that leads to enlightening one’s mind and seeing one’s original nature!
At the height of summer last year, Henghsing Gyatso Rinpoche, out of great compassion, decided to endure hardship for the sake of other living beings. He vowed to prostrate around the island of Taiwan, which is a more than 1,100 kilometer journey (i.e. more than 684 miles). More than half a year later, he had completed half the journey. Along the way, his great compassion and piety moved Kuan Yin Bodhisattva to appear in the sky, empower him, and expound the dharma to him. This event caused a sensation throughout the island of Taiwan and beyond. Many people within Buddhism expressed their great admiration over such an event.
The great compassion and sincerity of the rinpoche moved the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to empower him. This year in late February, when he had prostrated as far as Kaohsiung, he suddenly received a notice from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas telling him to open immediately the secret, small bag made of brocade that H.H. Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu gave him and told him to wear on his chest. Inside the brocade bag was a piece of paper telling him the mantra he would intone during his meditation retreat. That brocade bag is no ordinary thing.
In the summer of last year, Henghsing Gyatso Rinpoche vowed to prostrate around the island of Taiwan so as to suffer on behalf of other living beings. This vow moved H.H. Great Dharma King Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu to transmit dharma to him and confer an initiation upon him. He and two other famous Dharma Masters were initiated together. They received the highest esoteric dharma. It is the essential dharma that leads to enlightening one’s mind and seeing one’s original nature. Shakyamuni Buddha practiced that dharma under the bodhi tree when he became enlightened. This dharma is called the Vajra Samadhi Buddha Great Enlightenment Meditation. Later, Guru Padmasambhava taught this dharma in Tibet. In the Supreme Secret-Tantric Division of Tibetan esoteric Buddhism, this dharma is called “Great Perfection Whispered (i.e. transmitted from mouth to ear) Profound Essence Vajra Meditation.” It is also called “Three Disciples Meditation.”
Besides the rinpoche, two other eminent monastics were transmitted the dharma that day. During the time His Holiness performed the initiation and transmitted dharma, suddenly, all three of them saw that the altar area, the building they were in, and everything else completely disappeared. They could only perceive the voice of His Holiness, which was loud and clear. Various kinds of startling special phenomena appeared. It was extremely wonderful. After transmitting the dharma, His Holiness blessed that small brocade bag and gave it to Rinpoche Henghsing Gyatso.
However, H.H. Great Dharma King told him that he must wait until the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas instruct him to open it.
Henghsing Gyatso Rinpoche continued his prostrations around the island of Taiwan. When he reached Kaohsiung, he received notice from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to open the brocade bag. The paper in the bag told him that he should enter into retreat to practice the dharma since the karmic conditions had matured.
The First Retreat Was Not Carried Out in Accordance With the Dharma; Demons Entered the Retreat Room and Almost Killed the Lama
On February 27, 2005, Henghsing Gyatso Rinpoche returned to his retreat room in Jiayi. There he began his first retreat. He entered into meditation and stopped eating for four days. However, the people whose responsibility was to guard the retreat room during the retreat did not follow the dharma rules. They did not seal the windows and doors with a certain type of paper according to the dharma rules. They saw real demons make their way into the room to interfere with the rinpoche’s dharma practice. The situation was very dangerous. At this critical time, the people who were guarding the retreat room received a phone call from the Dharma Matters Department of His Holiness. The person who called said, “A problem has arisen in the retreat room. Demons have entered the room. Quickly call your master out of meditation by hitting the metal bowl (the metal bowl is a Buddhist instrument). Following the instructions they were given, the guards used the metal bowl to call out the rinpoche, who, in his meditation, was in the midst of battling with those demons.
On March 15, 2005 at noon in Jiayi, Henghsing Gyatso Rinpoche entered into retreat for a second time. This time, learning their lesson from the first retreat, the guards arranged the retreat room according to the dharma rules. The dharma stipulates that ten people must guard the outside of a retreat room in which someone practices this vajra meditation. The disciples of Henghsing Gyatso Rinpoche selected ten people to be guards. Their names are Shi Zong Guan, Shi Fa Yun, Wang Jin-Rong, Chi Hai-Ao, Ao Jing-Zhong, Xue Xiu-Fen, Cai Chun-Tao, He Yan-Yan, Cai Yu-Nu, and Lu Ke-Yun. With the addition of the cook, Liu Ming-Hui, there were all together eleven people. The ten guards cleared the retreat room, even removing the Buddhist altar. Downstairs from the retreat room is the area where the guards stayed. The entire retreat room was cleared of everything except dharma instruments and one rush cushion used for meditation.
During the Second Retreat, the Ten Guards Did Not Leave Their Posts
All of the doors and windows of the retreat room must be nailed shut with iron nails. Furthermore, the Buddha-dharma stipulates that each guard must sign a yellow paper that has dharma power and use it to seal the seams of those doors and windows. This is to prevent demons from intruding into the retreat room and causing havoc. It also prevents anyone from opening those doors and windows. There were fifteen places to be sealed in the retreat room. Ten yellow pieces of paper, each containing the signature of one guard, was pasted over each of those fifteen places. Thus, all together 150 yellow pieces of paper were pasted over the various seams.
Even the only door of the retreat room through which meals were sent was also sealed with one yellow paper containing the signatures of all ten guards. When they sent meals into the retreat room, the ten guards chanted a mantra and practiced dharma together. They had to together tear off the yellow paper sealing the door in order to open the door. After they delivered a meal, they together locked the door and sealed the door with paper again.
Those ten guards kept watch outside the door of the retreat room and did not leave their posts at any time. Even if some of them needed to use the restroom, there were at least seven of them guarding the door all day and night. It can be said that not even a bird, mosquito, or fly could enter. Only through these measures did they prevent the dangerous situation that occurred during the first retreat when the demons entered the retreat room and engaged in battle with the rinpoche.
At the beginning, the rinpoche ate on a normal basis. After three days, on March 18th, the amount of food he consumed dropped dramatically. On March 19th, the rinpoche rang a bell and beat a drum morning, noon, and evening. He drank only one cup of rice tea that whole day. Starting from March 20th, Henghsing Gyatso Rinpoche did not consume any more food or water. The food and water sent in were not touched. No sound could be heard coming from inside the retreat room. On March 23rd, the Dharma Matters Department of H.H. Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu, which is located in the United States, made a phone call to Taiwan to show their concern about how the rinpoche ’s practice was going. On March 25th, the rinpoche had stopped eating for five days. There was no sound at all coming from inside the retreat room. Even the sound of the toilet flushing, which happened three day earlier, could not be heard anymore. Hence, some of the guards started to worry, fearing that something had happened.
Then, that evening at 7:00, from the retreat room came the sounds of the striking of a metal bowl, the ringing of a bell, and the beating of a drum. The guards became excited. They immediately felt relieved. Then, the retreat room returned to total silence.
A few days later, the food that was delivered into the retreat room every day was taken out without having been touched. Upon seeing this situation, those guards became very worried over the rinpoche ’s situation in the retreat room.
On April 1st at 11:50 a.m., the sounds of the ringing of a bell and the beating of a drum again emanated from the room. The rhythm was clear and vigorous. Those disciples who were guarding the room became ecstatic. Although the rinpoche had stopped eating for twelve days, he was still able to ring a bell and beat a drum. The meditation practice of this great rinpoche is indeed extraordinary!
On April 8th at noon, the rinpoche had entered meditation and fasted for twenty days. The clear and vigorous sounds of a bell ringing and a drum being struck again arose from inside the retreat room. The disciples outside were very moved. They continually praised the magnificence of the Buddha-dharma. Their master was truly amazing. He had attained the goal of his retreat and was able to abide in vajra mediation for twenty days.
On April 9th, the rinpoche had entered into meditation and practiced the dharma for twenty-one days. He was not consuming any food or water. At 9:00 that day, a loud beating of a drum suddenly was heard. The disciples then knew that their master had attained the goal of his retreat and was about to come out of retreat. Before he went into retreat, Henghsing Gyatso Rinpoche announced to his disciples that when they hear the loud beating of a drum it means that he has attained the goal of his retreat and realized dharma skills. His disciples understood that their master had entered into a holy state. Thus, they notified the news media. They did not sleep day or night, keeping strict watch over the retreat room so that no mistakes would be made at that critical moment.
During His Meditation, He Heard the Teachings of the Buddha;
He Realized That the Dharma of His Master Was Most Revered
On April 10th at 11:00, while chanting the name of Amitabha Buddha, the ten guards together with other disciples from all over the island of Taiwan respectfully invited Henghsing Gyatso Rinpoche to come out of his retreat. When the yellow paper that sealed the entrance to the retreat room was torn off and the door opened, members of the news media, carrying cameras and tripods, followed the disciples into the room. Those reporters and the guards saw Henghsing Gyatso Rinpoche sitting cross-legged on a rush cushion. His eyes were almost completely closed. His face was placid. Clearly, he was still in a state of concentration.
After everyone crowded into the almost twenty-four square foot room, the guards beat the metal bowl three times next to his ear. Henghsing Gyatso Rinpoche then slowly opened his eyes. He saw that the room was filled with people and there were cameras all around. He appeared slightly surprised. He immediately put his palms together and said, “First of all, I am very grateful to my most magnificent and most honored Buddha Master, H.H. Vajradhara Great Dharma King Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu.” He then stood up and prostrated before a small gawu (kau) box hanging over his rush cushion that had in it an image of H.H. Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu. The rinpoche ’s body was limber, and he had obviously lost weight. Still, he was in high spirits and radiated vitality.
In a sonorous voice, he spoke to his disciples. His first sentence was, “I finally obtained the highest Buddha-dharma.” We asked him to explain this. He said that during this period of meditation he saw a great many supernatural phenomena. He did not elaborate upon this other than to describe the most wonderful experience of all.
He said, “I finally saw the most magnificent world-honored one, Shakyamuni Buddha. I beseeched the Buddha to kindly bestow upon me the highest Buddha-dharma initiation. The Buddha stretched out his arm, touched the top of my head, and said, “If you had not learned the highest Buddha-dharma, how could you have seen me?” Beseeching the Buddha’s instruction again, I asked, “In this world, where can one still find the highest Buddha-dharma?” The Buddha gave me the following teaching: “During the past few thousand years, many great Masters and great Bodhisattvas have appeared in human history. Which one of them attained perfect mastery over the Five Sciences (Vidyas)and was able to create Yun Sculpture, a great wisdom form of art that has no equal in the human world? Which great Master was able to create Yun Sculpture frames, which are the most beautiful in the human world? Those who are smart will immediately know upon thinking about it who possesses truly most magnificent Buddha-dharma!” The rinpoche then said to everyone, “I will not say anything more.”
He Did Not Consume Any Food or Water for Twenty-Two Days; He Lost About Six Pounds
At this time, I carefully inspected the entire retreat room. All of the other reporters also carefully inspected the room. It was truly empty. There was no food there at all. All of the yellow pieces of paper that sealed each of the doors and windows of the room and that were signed by the ten guards were not touched in the slightest. Other than the door through which meals were sent in, there was no other door or window through which anything could be brought in. We thoroughly questioned those ten guards, who kept watch both day and night and who did not leave the room outside the entrance to the retreat room. We found out that the food that was sent in each day was returned untouched. This proves that the rinpoche did not eat. After twenty-two days of not consuming any food or water, the rinpoche clearly lost weight. I learned that the rinpoche lost about six pounds.
In today’s world, whether one practices exoteric dharma, esoteric dharma, or the dharma of the various sects within Hinayana Buddhism, the dharma one learns is basically superficial, empty, and without substance. Such dharma lacks very much real usefulness, not to mention the ability to lead the practitioner to enlightening his mind, seeing his original nature, and entering vajra samadhi (deep concentration). The meditational attainment of the Buddha whereby he was able to “use meditation as food” has long since vanished from this world. This has caused many people to think that the Buddha-dharma is just empty formalities or legends.
The most eminent monk of the Chan (Zen) School in modern times, elder monk Xu Yun, practiced vajra meditation in Yunnan Province. He meditated for twenty-one days without eating or drinking. He thereby earned the great admiration of a local warlord by the name of Tang Ji-Yao, who built for the elder monk a temple on Mount Jizu. It would be an amazing attainment for one who has true meditation skills to meditate for ten days without eating or drinking. Throughout all these years, I have hardly heard of anyone else besides elder monk Xu Yun who was able to abstain from food and liquid for twenty-one days. Through Henghsing Gyatso Rinpoche, we have finally seen again vajra meditation skills based on the authentic and magnificent Buddha-dharma. This proves that the genuine Buddha-dharma relating to meditation has again appeared in this world!
After he came out of retreat, Henghsing Gyatso Rinpoche stated that he would fulfill his vow and complete his journey around the island of Taiwan. During that journey, he prostrates after every step in order to endure hardship on behalf of other living beings.