Buddha-dharma, Buddhist Studies And Popular Buddhism

            In Taichung there is an elderly layman. All nine members of his family are devout Buddhists. They have followed and learned from a famous old monk for many years. However, what they hear from this old monk is completely theory. Each of them can talk about the sutras in a clear and logical fashion. However, none of them have real skills associated with the Buddha-dharma.

            In the autumn of 1995 the Elder Dharma King happened to be in Taiwan propagating the dharma.  The elderly layman requested instruction from the Elder Dharma King by saying, “This year I am already eighty-one years old.  I do things in furtherance of Buddhism everyday.  I have donated over one-half of my vast wealth.  Nevertheless, I have never seen a real Buddha or Bodhisattva.  The only knowledge I have of supernormal dharma powers comes from what I read in books.  Why do the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas not come down to our house?  May I ask the Elder Dharma King, what is the Buddha-dharma?”

When the Dharma King heard these words, he chanted “Wobamei!”  He then said, “Layman, you all have not learned the Buddha-dharma.  How could you have any true skills?” When all of the members of the layman’s family heard this, they felt quite surprised.  With his brows tightly knit, the old layman said, “My entire family devoutly learns Buddhism and recites sutras. How is it that we are not learning the Buddha-dharma? Could it be said that these sutras are all false?”

The Elder Dharma King said, “It is true that all of you are reading sutras and learning Buddhism.  Those sutras are genuine sutras and are dharma treasures.  The knowledge concerning Buddhism which those old monks impart to all of you is also genuine knowledge.  However, this is Buddhist studies.  It is not the Buddha-dharma!  In Esoteric Buddhism, Buddhist studies is called the exoteric teachings portion.  This is what we are required to learn when we first enter Esoteric Buddhism.  After we have learned the exoteric teachings portion and we have this foundation of theory, we must then enter into real, practical cultivation of our conduct, speech and thoughts.  The process of putting this into practice is called cultivation of the Buddha-dharma.

“Take, for example, the practice whereby one invites the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to bestow nectar. In theory, people think that this is simply reciting mantras, reciting passages from sutras and visualizing.  In theory, people think that nectar is simply water which has been empowered by mantras. However, in the real practice of the Buddha-dharma, there is a special dharma method to invite the Buddhas to directly bestow true nectar from the sky. The shape of this nectar is unlike any other thing on this earth. It has unlimited power. It can cure all illnesses and can easily increase one’s life span! This is because this is the Buddha-dharma, not Buddhist studies.”

The old layman said, “I received the Kalachakra Vajra Initiation from the Dalai Lama!”  Elder Dharma King Losang said, “Last year a Great Rinpoche wanted to introduce the Dalai Lama to me.  I did not have any spare time.  I wanted to do other things in furtherance of the Buddha-dharma.  I did not meet him.  I do not know much about him and will not comment on him.  I do not have any right to inquire into that initiation.  I hope that you are able to receive benefits from it.”

When the old layman and his family heard this, it was as if they had awakened from a big dream.  Their eyes became teary, they knelt down on the ground and respectfully requested the Elder Dharma King to teach them the dharma.  After a moment, the Elder Dharma King slowly said, “Today I will teach the dharma to your entire family.  I will also teach the dharma to all living beings.”  Following his words, a beam of red light emanated from in between his eyebrows which circled the room.  The Elder Dharma King then said, “Do no evil.  Do that which is good.  Deeply study the sutras. This is Buddhist studies.  Do no evil.  Do that which is good.  Recite the Buddha’s name with all your mind.  This is the way to ascend to the Pure Land.  Do no evil. Do that which is good.  Deeply study the sutras.  Esoteric initiations in which supernormal powers are manifested and which comply with Know the True Doctrine is the Buddha-dharma.”

After the old layman heard these words, he put his palms together and respectfully asked, “Other than Know the True Doctrine, what books should I read?”  Dharma King Losang said, “With respect to Know the True Doctrine, it is enough if you understand its contents.  The most important thing is that you read the books of Ah Wang Nuo Bu Pa Muand Great Dharma King Yangwo Yisinubu [H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III].  The more you read such books the better.  You must also live in accordance with the principles contained therein.  This is the best method!”

The old layman said, “I will remember your words. I would like to ask another question.  Does every Rinpoche have a mind which regards all things as equal?” The Elder Dharma King instructed, “The most difficult thing to attain in one’s cultivation and in one’s practice of the Buddha-dharma is a mind which regards all things as equal.  Without such a mind, one will pursue fame, gain, riches, high government positions and occupation of other people’s land.  One with a mind which regards all things as equal does not pursue such things.

“For example, some people want to cut apart my native place, Tibet.  Actually, this way of thinking is a deviation from cultivation.  Is this cultivation or is this fighting for something based upon personal desire?  Tibetan people, Chinese people and people of every other race and ethnicity should all be considered our close family members who are on an equal footing!  We should cause all of these people to unite so that they can live together in friendship and love and develop their common happiness.  The Buddha taught us that all living beings have the Buddha nature and that we should treat them equally and with love.  We should not desire government positions.  Only by cutting off the concept of self, cutting off erroneous thinking and cutting off attachment to things of the world can one reach high spiritual states!  This is the certain truth of the Buddha-dharma.  We must love others equally in order that we may give rise to the four limitless states of mind.   With the four limitless states of mind as our foundation, we will be able to enter into the state of the sacred bodhi mind.  If one cannot even renounce selfish desires and cannot even look after all living beings on an equal basis, then how can one enlighten oneself and enlighten others?”