(Reported by Reporter Li Qicong from Los Angeles) On April 18, 2014, a contest of skills of Buddha-dharma was held at Sanger Temple in the greater Los Angeles area of the United States of America. Rinpoches, dharma masters, and acaryas from the USA, mainland China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Australia, New Zealand, and other countries were present. Among them, there were great dharma kings, venerable ones, and great dharma masters who possess uncommon abilities of realization. The master of the contesting stage was Jianggong Kangqing Rinpoche (Gong Kang), who is over 70 years old and is one of the four prominent dharma princes. He demonstrated an imposing grandeur and blustered arrogantly. The Contest was presided by Dharma King Gar Tongstan, who is a great holy virtuous one at the level of two Sun-Moon wheels.
The karmic condition of this dharma assembly was induced by a dharma master from Taiwan, whose name is Long Jing. This dharma master brought a highly capable rinpoche whose name is Baizhe Lamu and who had the title of Smiling-Face Fighter in her previous lifetime. They came to America with three laypersons Wang Sixia, Meiling, and Lianying as a group. They proposed to have a contest of dharma with dharma masters at the International Buddhism Sangha Association (IBSA). Dharma masters at IBSA thought they just wanted to have a debate on the Tripitaka and therefore accepted their proposal without hesitation. However, in addition to debating the sutras, they insisted on having a contest of dharma in the end. Baizhe Lamu stated that the purpose of the contest was to publicize the dharma and benefit living beings. Dharma Master Long Jing said that after winning the contest and returning to Taiwan they would look for a great dharma king and other great dharma masters and great laypersons to contest the dharma, because Baizhe Lamu would like to meet with them and learn each other’s realization of cultivation to see who is superior after all. When they were paying respect to H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III in person, Baizhe Lamu’s speech and conduct showed her gaffes of arrogance and ignorance. His Holiness the Buddha knocked off half of her power of cultivation. She regretted this very much.
Coincidentally at that time, Jianggong Kangqing Rinpoche from China was in the United States. This rinpoche was fond of dharma contest even when in China. Through contesting with many famous dharma kings and venerable ones, he never met anyone who was a good match to him. After coming to America, he looked everywhere for superior persons for contesting. He declared that there was not even one dharma king or venerable one in China who could be a good match for him, and that dharma kings, dharma masters, and great laypersons in Taiwan could not withstand a single blow of his. Therefore, he came to America to find superior persons for contesting. Because of this, his Buddha Master H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III seriously scolded him, “Your cultivation is only skin deep and very laughable. You must clearly understand that learning Buddhism requires cultivating patience, severing attachment to the self, and applying the bodhicitta of great compassion to benefit living beings. You should read and understand Expounding the Absolute Truth through the Heart Sutra to know the true dharma and the absolute truth. Showing one’s strength and pursuing winning runs counter to the undertaking of learning Buddhism and cultivation. Manifesting miraculous abilities to prove one’s power of cultivation is nothing other than playing with untrue illusions. Doing so can only produce one more actor or magician.”
At that time, Gong Kang nodded with obedience, “Yes! Yes!” Afterwards, he still did all he could to look for opponents to make appointments of contesting. He even said, “Many people who are learning from the sutras not only could not understand the sutras but also had hollow and wrong comprehension. That is why they do not have true Buddha–dharma and dare not contest with the dharma. Without comparing each other’s’ dharma through contesting, how can living beings be reminded not to be deceived by false holy ones and false Buddha-dharma?” Because he had won every fight so far, he was naturally indulged in self-pride and arrogance.
At the time, he met with the team of Baizhe Lamu Rinpoche, Dharma Master Longjing, and others. After a debate of sutras, the battle of contesting the dharma finally began on April 18! In order to teach dharma masters Shi Miaoyan and Shi Zhenghong who tended to boast and enjoy the limelight, Dharma Master Long Hui designated them to enter the contest to experience the power of true Buddha-dharma. Dharma masters Shi Miaoyan and Shi Zhenghong stepped onto the stage to fight the first battle with the ring master Jianggong Kangqing Rinpoche. They sat facing each other with a separation of about 20 feet and started to exert their dharma powers.
Upon getting into the stage, dharma masters Miaoyan and Zhenghong saw that Jianggong Kangqing Rinpoche chanted his mantras, revealing great dharma power. They became powerless and motionless due to fear. Within only a few minutes, they were captured by Gong Kang Rinpoche and were thrown down the stage. The karmadana (the monastic official of a temple in charge of duties and ceremonies) of the temple announced that the two dharma masters were easily defeated.
Now, Baizhe Lamu Rinpoche saw the situation and, also because she had already lost more than half of her dharma power, no longer dared to engage in a one-on-one fight with Gong Kang. She had to call up an emergency meeting of her team on the spot to change the strategy of contesting. All five of them joined force to participate in the match using the dharma of Kuan Yin. They climbed onto the stage and launched an imposing momentum. With focused concentration, they applied mudras and mantras. Their roars were swinging within the Hall of Three Holy Beings, demonstrating an all-out effort striving for winning. Gong Kang heightened his vigilance and responded cautiously. He practiced the dharma of Four-Armed Kuan Yin to fight back. A fierce battle was fought between the two sides with mental power, spirit, and crisscrossed movement. Additionally, with the karmadana shouting loudly to announce the battling field situation, the atmosphere was bustling and tense. Attacking mudras applied silently in unison created a scene of fighting as if sharp and flickering weapons were intercrossing. It was really an unprecedented great battle of dharma contest. Jianggong Kangqing Rinpoche truly deserved the status of one of the four prominent dharma princes. He fought bravely by himself against five in a very hard battle. Also, Baizhe Lamu, who was the most capable member of the opposing team, had lost much of her fighting power. In the end, Gong Kang applied the Besieging-God Battle Position to have all his five opponents tightly confined, unable to move, and thereby defeated.
In the second match, the two parties switched sides and roles. The losing party in the previous match was to confine and tie up the winning party. All five joined forces in the fighting. With an imposing manner and a sweating effort, they moved forward together with an extremely mighty power to practice the dharma to try to besiege and seize Gong Kang. Spectators at the scene were all holding their breath tightly. At this time of heavy contesting, Gong Kang chanted the Six-Character Great Bright Mantra to practice the dharma of Horsehead Vajra Armor (Horsehead Vajra is a manifestation of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva) as counter-attack. Then the five opponents were unable to defend themselves and were thrown off the stage by Gong Kang. The karmadana declared victory for Jianggong Kangqing Rinpoche, and the surrounding audience gave a loud applause.
Gong Kang was very arrogant and put up an air of pride. He suddenly made a hand gesture to invite Great Dharma Master Zhengda who was present to contest with Buddha-dharma for learning from each other. Dharma Master Zhengda was unable to decline and had to step on the stage. In their earlier years, Jianggong Kangqing and Shi Zhengda were dharma brother and sister. They both are disciples of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. However, Gong Kang was not happy to see this fellow sister taking the highest position of chief abbot at IBSA and being revered as a superior one. Moreover, they did not get along very well in the past. Therefore, he thought it was a good time to teach her a lesson on that day. That was why he invited her to contest the dharma in front of others. This arrogant act of Gong Kang scared the venerable ones and dharma masters who were present. Their hearts were trembling due to fear and they were afraid of being called by Gong Kang for contesting. It could be seen that, except Dharma King Gar Tongstan and Venerable Long Zhi Denma Tsemang, people in high ranks all lowered their heads and dared not to face Gong Kang’s eyesight.
Right after Jianggong Kangqing Rinpoche and Dharma Master Zhengda walked onto the stage, Gong Kang sneered with an air of pride and gave an arrogant statement, “You will not keep me still.” Zhengda replied, “I will besiege you and will not let you move.” The two fellow brother and sister started a verbal exchange before contesting the dharma. Later, they sat down facing each other along the north-south direction and both practiced the dharma of Kuan Yin to contest. The two entered deep concentration and manifested their dharma powers. Spectators were greatly impressed. For a long time, they fought to a match of draw without showing who could overpower the other. However, eventually the outcome could only be one defeating the other. Upon seeing Gong Kang’s extraordinary power, Dharma Master Zhengda used Kuan Yin’s dharma of Pure-Water Bottle in combination with the God-Besieging Rope. At that time, Gong Kang was tied up and captured. He was powerless and unable to move his limbs. Therefore, Dharma Master Zhengda won the first match.
They switched side to start the second match. Suffering this defeat had a great impact to Gong Kang’s record. He could never have imagined that Dharma Master Zhengda had truly became one with superior realization and was so great. Now he had to use his highest secretive method of Besieging-God Battle Position. That was truly powerful and had Dharma Master Zhengda bounded up. She was trembling all over her body and her body was as cold as ice. At this time, Dharma Master Zhengda unexpectedly used the dharma of Kuan Yin’s Pure-Water Bottle Willow-Branch Breaking Siege. Her voice of chanting the Six-Character Great Bright mantra sounded like rotating pearls and she was quickly revived. Gong Kang’s God-Besieging formation became seriously disorganized and he lost his power of concentration. Dharma Master Zhengda then made a punch to knock him off the stage. Because Gong Kong had spoken arrogantly before in public, this defeat made him very embarrassed. The Karmadana then announced, “Dharma Master Zhengda won and becomes the champion of the dharma contest.”
However, Gong Kang strongly disagreed. He said that the referee had judged erroneously, and asked for having another match of “Viewing the Realm and Exiting the Samsara” with Dharma Master Zhengda. Dharma Master Zhengda did not want to have another dharma contest with him, but Gong Kong insisted. Therefore, this big battle was fought on April 20. The battleground was a grassy lawn, with a very big piece of cubic cordierite. This is a mani stone used by a great holy virtuous one to practice the dharma. After the referee Dharma Master Long Hui sprinkled the pure soil that was empowered by an extremely great holy virtuous one onto the mani stone, the two fighters sat away from the huge stone by about three meters. Jianggong Kangqing Rinpoche started first to practice the dharma of Four-Armed Kuan Yin. He practiced 15 rounds of the mantra and the mudra, but was unable to push the mani stone into movement across the separation of empty space.
Next it was Dharma Master Zhengda’s turn in the contest. She also practiced the dharma of Four-Armed Kuan Yin. With three rounds of the mantra and the mudra, the mani stone was pushed to move across the separation of empty space. Then, after Dharma Master Zhengda, Jianggong Kangqing Rinpoche, and Dharma Master Long Hui prostrated to the mani stone to pay homage, the mani stone suddenly flew to the sky and disappeared in the sea of clouds. They were all stunned so as to be speechless. It was not known which extremely great holy virtuous one did this. Everyone could only utter exclamation and praise of surprise! The realization power of doing this is hundreds or thousands of times greater than the power of a female great rinpoche from Tibet who let a big mani stone circling around her in the empty space in 2002. The weight of this mani stone that flew to and disappeared in the sky was not exactly known. It was estimated to be about two tons heavy. Actually, weight is not the issue. Even making a pillow fly to the sky would be a world-shocking miracle.
Now, the referee announced that the dharma contest of “Viewing the Realm and Exiting the Samsara” was to begin. After the two had a conversation, Gong Kang still insisted on having the contest. Then they sat facing each other with a far distance in between to begin the dharma contest. According to the rules of the contest, Gong Kang was to besiege Dharma Master Zhengda. On the other hand, Dharma Master Zhengda had to exit samsara to win. Each of them practiced the dharma of the Tathagata to engage quickly in the battle. After only two encounters, Dharma Master Zhengda used Green Tara’s dharma of Breaking Siege by Bodhicitta of Great Compassion to break open Gong Kang’s iron peripheral surrounding of the Besieging-God Battle Position. In a moment, she started from the mandala of samsara and went through the outer court of the Tusita Heaven. After looking and verifying a few times, she quickly found the right direction and directly approached the siddhi of Bodhisattva. After arriving there, she stayed firmly unperturbed. Referee Long Hui who is IBSA’s chairperson was full of praises for her. The host of this dharma contest Great Dharma King Gar Tongstan announced, “Jianggong Kangqing Rinpoche was defeated. Dharma Master Zhengda exited samsara and won the victory. She is the champion of this contest.” The meaning of this one-to-one dharma contest is even more profound than the previous one. For details, readers can watch the live video recording of the contest.
Since ancient times, debating sutras has existed in Buddhism as a preliminary form of dharma contest. This belongs to the theoretical aspect of Buddhism. After practitioners’ cultivation and conduct reached the state of manifesting true utilization and realization, dharma contest is used as the main method of distinguishing whether one belongs to hollow theory only and appraising one’s realization for the purpose of benefiting living beings.
The earliest dharma contest in Buddhism was between two disciples of Sakyamuni Buddha, Shariputra who took the first-place in wisdom and Mahamaudgalyayana who was regarded as the best in supernatural power. Shariputra won the contest. Other examples of dharma contest in history include:
- Baltsa Takdelwa (who later became a disciple of Dusongchienba) looked for Dusongchienba (the first-generation Great Jewel Dharma King of the Kyagu Sect) to have a dharma contest, but was defeated by a disciple of Dusongchienba.
- Karma Pakshi (the second-generation Great Jewel Dharma King of the Kyagu Sect) lost to Chojal Pakpa in a dharma contest at the Mongolian Palace.
- A dharma contest between Zhaguo Longjue Songmou Rinpoche (from Songzhanling Temple in Shangri-La) and Naizhang Qujiong of Lasa.
- A dharma contest between the 13th Dalai Lama and the abbot of Kumbum Monastery Agya Rinpoche recorded in history that can be found on the internet.
During the last several hundred years, however, it became rare to see dharma contests between eminent monks. This is because true Buddha-dharmas are becoming extinct. Some rinpoches, dharma masters, and great laypersons who only have hollow theories to write books and give discourses dare not even mention the term “dharma contest.” They are afraid that their disciples would know the thing of dharma contest that can prove one’s true power of cultivation. They fear that their disciples would see the fact that their master can only talk about hollow and erroneous theories and therefore does not have Buddha-dharma. That is why the recorded stories of eminent monks contesting their dharma in the past have almost been completely wiped out within a short period of time. Today, Jianggong Kangqing Rinpoche, Baizhe Lamu Rinpoche, Dharma Master Long Jing, and others are fond of contesting with Buddha-dharma. Their deeds are opposed by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. However, looking from a different angle, what they did does have boundless merit. Otherwise, the stories of holy virtuous ones contesting the dharma in the history of Buddhism would have completely disappeared without a trace. Then Buddhism would only be left with theories. Consequently false rinpoches and false dharma masters who have no understanding in the sutras could freely create and teach erroneous theories without having to prove with real Buddha-dharma. Therefore, we should thank the people who contest with Buddha-dharma on the stage. They proved the real existence of true Buddha-dharma and wrote the fact “Buddhism is not just talking about hollow theories” into the history of Buddha-dharma.
(Translated from a report in Chinese published in Taiwan Times on April 28, 2014)