Highest Yoga Tantra and Mahamudra By Master Sheng-yen Lu
Highest Yoga Tantra and Mahamudra
By Master Sheng-yen Lu
Translated by Cheng Yew Chung, Edited by Dance Smith
This was translated from Grandmaster Lu's 51st book, 無上密與大手印.
CHAPTER 1 - Homage to the Lineage Holders of the Mahamudra
How long have I been practising the Tantric dharma in secret? To be frank, if the readers were observant enough, they would notice a revelation of my Tantric cultivation on line 8, (line 1 of original Chinese book) page 3 of my first spiritual book, Encounters with the World of Spirits. This book has been published for more than ten years, and my cultivation of Tantric practices has been for that length of time.
Readers who come across this book, Highest Yoga Tantra and Mahamudra, are connected with great affinity, for this doctrine is considered the most supreme dharma in Tantric Buddhism, and has been guarded in secrecy. Now that you are able to read about it, there is certainly an affinity of the utmost degree. Therefore, you must first pay homage in gratitude to all the lineage holders of the Highest Meditation Path of Tantrayana Mahamudra. Let us prostrate to the lineage holders in the celestial realms!
In ancient India, the being Vajradhara transmitted this teaching of Mahamudra to Tilopa (988 - 1069 AD), who lived in India during the period of the Song Dynasty. Tilopa then passed the lineage to Naropa, and from Naropa it was handed to Marpa, then to Milarepa, Gampopa, and the Karmapas. These are the lineage holders who transmitted the highest heart teachings of Mahamudra.
In modern times, His Holiness the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa (1924 - 1981 AD) transmitted this teaching to the Holy Red Crown Vajra Guru, Tantric Master Sheng-yen Lu. With the spreading of the Tantric teachings from east to west, this heart teaching of the great secret of Tantric Buddhism has finally taken root in the west, and western students of Master Lian-sheng, Sheng-yen Lu thus receive the true lineage of Tantrayana and gain the wonderful wisdom of attaining Buddhahood. Hence, westerners are given the opportunity to attain the realm of liberation from Samsara.
In one particular deep meditation session, I found myself wearing my precious buddha crown and ascending on my precious lotus throne towards the Tushita Heaven in the company of many holy sages. Upon arrival, I met Bodhisattva Maitreya and the lineage holders. They respectively pressed their palms upon my forehead, and urged me to undertake the heavy responsibility of delivering sentient beings in the human world.
They instructed me to spread the word that we should sincerely repent when we prostrate to the Mahamudra lineage holders. This elucidation of the doctrine of the Highest Yoga Tantra and Mahamudra is of itself a great meritorious act that a Bodhisattva undertakes to turn the dharma wheel. It is thus an occasion of great dharma affinity in which a major revelation of the Tantric dharma takes place. Thus, it is an act of emitting the Buddha power of great compassion towards sentient beings of the ten directions. He who believes in the doctrine, takes refuge, and cultivates the practice shall have the opportunity for attaining Buddhahood.
The lineage holders converged at the residence of Bodhisattva Maitreya and requested that I write a book on the highest unexcelled heart essence of the Meditational Path of Mahamudra. This would bring about the purification of the body, speech and mind of sentient beings so that they would be ready to communicate spiritually with the highest cosmic consciousness, interconnecting with the supreme spirit through heart and soul. This shall bring deliverance to many sentient beings, and I shall be the first in this world to reveal this heart teaching of Mahamudra completely.
From the light of the great mirror-like wisdom revealed from within me, the lineage holders were seen seated above my head arranged in multiple layers. In the highest position was seated the being Vajradhara, followed by Tilopa, Naropa, Marpa, Milarepa, Gampopa, Karmapa and so forth. Immediately above me was the Karmapa, and I, being the present lineage holder, was known as the Tantric Master Lian-sheng, for I have achieved accomplishment of all Buddhadharma and attained Buddhahood in this very body.
Tibetan Buddhism regards Guru Padmasambhava as its founding teacher, as Tantric Buddhism only entered Tibet in the year 747 AD. Whether through Subhakarasimha, Vajrabodhi, Amogha of the Chinese Esoteric Buddhism, or the doctrines of Tibetan Buddhism, the spread of Tantric Buddhism has met with many obstacles, especially the language barrier, which impeded communication. Thubten Dargye, my guru in the Gelug order, once told me that the true heart essence of Tibetan Buddhism was not easily available due to the many hindrances that were present.
Moreover, in the past the heart essence of Tantric Buddhism was passed from master to student through oral transmission. These pith instructions, which are the quintessence of Mahamudra that allows one to attain Buddhahood within this very body, were transmitted within the lineage and only to individuals with supreme inborn faculties. Hence, the transmission of Tantric Buddhism has remained infrequent and rare. I hope that those who come across this book and wish to practise the teachings take refuge with a guru, seek his blessing, and receive the true heart essence from him. Only then can the practice be assured to be accurate and one`s cultivation achieve yogic response.
In the past, one who had wished to practise Tantric Buddhism had to first study the exoteric doctrines for a number of years, taking and passing the examinations of a Geshe, and gain mastery over the doctrines of the Sutric system before entering into the Tantric colleges to learn the Tantric dharma from the guru. Thus, the Tantric teachings are the ultimate dharma gate of Mahayana, the heart essence of the highest order. These teachings were hidden from public access and transmitted in secrecy between teacher and students. This form of transmission constitutes the fundamental principle of Tantric Buddhism.
However, we are now at the degenerative stage of history and the wonderful teachings of the Three Secrets are being openly propagated and revealed. The dharma traditions of Tantrayana are blossoming, and the spiritual currents of Tibetan Buddhism, Chinese Esoteric Buddhism and Japanese Esoteric Buddhism are returning. These traditions are certainly not as rigid and strict as they used to be. I have received the heart essence of Mahamudra, and am endowed with two seals of authority. I have received the great secret perfect empowerments of the four Tantric schools of Nyingma, Gelug, Kagyu and Sakya, and am succeeding as a new spiritual holder of the Tantric dharma gates. I have indeed received the verification of attaining great yogic response and received the blessings of the lineage holders, and have been entrusted with the responsibility of writing this book on the Highest Yoga Tantra and Mahamudra. I shall elucidate in detail the pith instructions and blessings received in this book without hiding or holding anything back, so that everyone may know these Tantric teachings and receive their benefits. By doing so, I hope to plant the seeds of Tantrayana so that all sentient beings may be born into a family which practices Tantric Buddhism in this present or some future lifetime.
This heart essence of Mahamudra was developed by the Kagyu order, known commonly as the White Sect. The adepts who attained Buddhahood as laypersons before Milarepa wore white clothing, hence, the `White Sect`. However, to my knowledge, there is another great significance to calling the Kagyu order the White Sect. It strives to convert bad karma into white karma, as Buddhahood is attained when black karma is transformed to white karma. This is one of the major doctrines of the White Sect.
I shall reveal my secrets here. I was born in the year 1945, on the eighteenth of May (lunar calendar) at noon, at Hou-hu in the county of Jiayi. My father is Lu Er Shun, and my mother is Wang Yu Nu. My last name is Lu, and my first name is Sheng-yen. My birth took place during bombardments by Japanese warplanes, so I was born on a chicken farm while my parents were on the run. The year 1945 happened to be the year of the Rooster.
My religious journey took me to the beliefs of Christianity, Taoism, the Tian De Sect (Heavenly Virtue), and Exoteric and Tantric Buddhism. Subsequently, I realized I was the emanation of White Padmakumara of the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds in Sukhavati who returned to the human world due to my vows to deliver sentient beings. This is my fourth emanated incarnation on earth.
My practices of the respective sadhanas of the four Tantric schools were transmitted according to the traditions within the lineage orders. In the Kagyu school, I am the 42th lineage holder counting from Vajradhara, the 17th if you count from the Karmapas, and the 33rd counting from Tilopa.
White Padmakumara of the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds was entrusted with a heavy responsibility by Amitabha Buddha of Sukhavati, and requested by Guru Padmasambhava and the Karmapa to incarnate four times on earth. This is evidence of his compassion. The Holy Red Crown Vajra Guru Master Sheng-yen Lu is also the Immovable Vajra Master who suffers all slanders. In the future, he shall become a Buddha with the epithet, the Non Evil Eye Tathagata. The Maha Twin Lotus Ponds is a manifested realm of the Non Evil Eye Tathagata.
I first had my spirit awakened by my teacher Madam Lin Qian Dai. Later, I received my training under the tutelage of the invisible spiritual guide Mr. Three-Peaks-Nine-States, and learned under varying circumstances. I cultivated following the teachings of Taoism, the Sutric system and Tantric Buddhism concurrently, beginning with Taoism, then adding the Sutric system and eventually Tantric Buddhism. My teachers include Lin Qian Dai, Taoist Master Qing Zhen, Mr. Three-Peaks-Nine-States, Venerable Yin Shun, Venerable Le Guo, Venerable Dao An, Venerable Hui San, Venerable Xian Tun, Venerable Jue Kwang, Master Xiao Chang Ming, the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, the 12th Tai Situpa Rinpoche, Guru Pufan, Guru Thubten Dargye, Guru Sakya Zheng-kong, Guru Padmasambhava and others. I mastered the teachings of the Great Perfection, Mahamudra, Great Perfection Profound Wisdom, and Yamantaka practice. Examples of these teachings include the secret teachings of the seven treasuries, the heart essence of offspring and mother light, the heart essence of clear light, the joy of victorious liberation, the peaceful and wrathful deities, and so forth, receiving yogic response in all.
Endowed with the blessings of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and the great power of response of White Padmakumara, my revelation of the Highest Yoga Tantra and Mahamudra shall allow sentient beings to be profoundly guided by the Buddha power of the most victorious light, giving them the empowerment for attaining Buddhahood. Those who hold this book should act immediately to pay homage to the Mahamudra lineage holders, for the emergence of this work of dharma is rarely seen, and it constitutes a great secret of Padmakumara`s mission of deliverance.
CHAPTER 2 - Mahamudra is the Method of Attaining Buddhahood
To those disciples of mine who take up the practice of the Highest Yoga Tantra and Mahamudra as outlined in my book, whose meditation practice is accurate and who are being guided by a true master, who keep up a dedicated pace of cultivation, I guarantee that if they should not attain Buddhahood, I shall hold myself responsible.
This Mahamudra is an unexcelled method of attaining Buddhahood. Once an individual practises this teaching, the ordinary mundane mind becomes attuned to the universal mind. In other words, while in the human body, you are one and indivisible with the original nature of the universe. In this situation, you are aware of your self nature and the intrinsic nature of the universe. You are aware that you are truth itself and truth is you. There is no difference between the two.
The term Mahamudra in Sanskrit, or Chakgya Chenpo in Tibetan, means the great seal. It is the quintessence of attaining Buddhahood as practised by great cultivators, known also as the cultivation practice of the Middle Way. It relies completely on the combination of mind and techniques to reach the state of the single Buddha vehicle, through which one perceives the true reality behind all things. The final goal of all cultivators is to partake in the right path, whose fruition is the realm of nirvana, attain Buddhahood and thereby free oneself from the bondage of cyclic existence, and attain complete spiritual freedom.
I would say that anyone who practises the yoga of Mahamudra and gains attainment shall reach the state of wonderful action of the mind and spirit, in which every movement and action reflects the cultivation and attainment of Mahamudra. Thus, one gains spontaneity of expression, which moves one beyond the state of an ordinary mundane mortal.
I once said:
The very act of eating is making offerings to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, the devas, and the sentient beings suffering in the six realms. Therefore the act of consuming food is in effect performing the homa ritual, which is the mandala offering performed in Mahamudra.
The true meaning of Mahamudra is the complete transformation of the mundane ordinary mind into a holy mind, for every desire is met with an antidote in Mahamudra. Thus, an ordinary person is transformed into a holy sage, for all negative karma borne of ignorance is eliminated, leaving no trace of even a single dust particle. All aspects of truth are continuously revealed in inexhaustible meanings, expressed as infinite wisdom.
I would like to make the statement that anyone who practices the doctrine of Mahamudra, whether an ordained monk or layperson, is one who has vowed to attain Buddhahood. As such, he has accepted the transcendental method and the instructions of the Highest Tantra Yoga, which should be regarded as an act of true renunciation. All the past practices are incomparable to the teachings of Highest Tantra Yoga and Mahamudra, as this teaching encompasses all other teachings and wisdom, and is the supreme teaching that eternally embodies all as one. Thus, by practising Mahamudra, one attains true renunciation.
When the Tantric practitioner of the Kagyu order of Tibetan Buddhism attains realization through the practice of Mahamudra, all mundane teachings, all teachings of the Sutric system, all dharma gates, all rules and precepts, all Tantric teachings are shattered. However, those who have not been enlightened will not experience this state of realization. Thus, I shall not elucidate further on this, as any explanation may not result in immediate understanding. This truth is only understood by one who has realized and attained Buddhahood.
I am an accomplished adept who has attained Buddhahood. I have gained supreme victory in this world, and gained the status of a guide to the human and spiritual worlds. In this way, I have demonstrated the process of attaining Buddhahood by my example. I am an enlightened Vajra master. My title is The Emanation of White Padmakumara of the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds, the religious torchbearer, one who enlightens man and succors the world, the Holy Red Crown Vajra Guru, Tantric Master Lian-sheng, Sheng-yen Lu. Those who follow my practice and read my books are indeed endowed with the affinity to attain Buddhahood.
Those who wish to learn from me must meet the following five conditions:
The first condition is to take refuge with the Holy Red Crown Vajra Guru. Why? This is because as the result of my cultivation, I have made spiritual attainments and received the Tantric dharma for attaining Buddhahood. I am the Buddha and the Buddha is me, for there is really no difference. I have the means to deliver sentient beings, and sentient beings who follow my methods of cultivation shall attain Buddhahood. I am the representative of the holy Sangha, and I am a holy Sangha myself. I embody the Triple Jewels, being the unification of the Guru, the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. Thus, taking refuge with the Holy Red Crown Vajra Guru is equivalent to taking refuge with the Buddha, the Dharma and the holy Sangha. To practise Buddha dharma, we must follow the rules of studying Buddhism. Upon taking refuge, one develops faith. Those without faith who havent taken refuge will find it impossible to enter into the path of Tantric Buddhism. Without the power of blessing and the power of response from the guru, there can be no accomplishment.
The second condition is generating Bodhi mind. This aspiration refers to perseverance in cultivation, with the intention to attain Buddhahood and deliver sentient beings. This is expressed through the Four Immeasurables: May all beings have happiness and the causes of happiness. This is Immeasurable Loving-kindness; may all beings be free from suffering and the causes of suffering. This is Immeasurable Compassion; may all beings never be separated from the supreme joy which is beyond all sorrow. This is Immeasurable Joy; may all beings abide in equanimity, free from attraction and aversion. This is Immeasurable Equanimity. I want my students who practise my teachings to have the motivation to continue in their cultivation diligently until they attain Buddhahood, and do so in a down-to-earth manner. Upon the attainment of Buddhahood, one must vow to return to deliver sentient beings so that all may attain the fruition of Buddhahood. This is the highest of aspirations.
The third condition is repentance. As the speech and action of ordinary beings are tied to negative karma, so are their discursive thoughts. Hence, the behavior of ordinary beings is distorted, misleading, illusionary, and tied to negative karma. Before starting any practice, human beings are subject to the influence of the defiled mind and have no understanding of the purified mind of self-nature. They are affected by afflictions, impulsiveness, and obstacles. Thus, they are really worthless. The Sutra on the Eight Realizations states, The mind is the source of evil, while the form is the assembly of crimes. The individual whose body and mind is drowning in the deep pool of transgression is completely unaware of his or her predicament. It is therefore necessary to repent and cultivate the Four Preliminaries, especially the Vajra Heart Bodhisattva Practice, known also as the Vajrasattva Hundred Syllable Mantra Practice, to eliminate negative karma through the recitation of the Hundred Syllable Mantra.
The fourth condition is to make offerings to the guru. As the guru is the embodiment of the Triple Jewels, making offerings to the guru is equivalent to making offerings to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. A true guru who accepts the offerings from his disciples does not delight in these donations, but rather he uses this wealth as a means to benefit sentient beings through the completion of his duties and assignments. Through your offerings, the guru may reduce your karma and offer you blessings. The act of making offerings constitutes the path of generosity, and can carry the meaning of renunciation from worldly affairs and Samsara. As offerings are made to the guru, one receives his blessings and naturally gains many spiritual experiences quickly.
The fifth condition is to swiftly attain union with the guru. Those who follow my teachings must first practise Guru Yoga. Know that the yogic power of the lineage guru is the only secret to attaining Buddhahood. Guru Yoga is the first dharma gate that one practises in attaining Buddhahood through Mahamudra. One must recite the guru mantra: OM AH HUM GURU BEI AH HO SA SA MA HA LIAN-SHENG SIDDHI HUM. Form the Guru Mudra where the right hand forms the Teaching Mudra, and the left hand forms the Lotus Holding Mudra. Visualize the lineage holders seated in meditation pose arranged in levels according to the order of lineage transmission. In the uppermost level one finds the presence of Vajradhara, and at the bottommost level sits Guru Lian-sheng. The lineage holders emit a flood of light that enters into the body of the practitioner. The wisdom of initiating Mahamudra is seen in gaining response with Guru Yoga, for the key secret of this uncommon teaching lies in the active supplication of the lineage holders to bestow their guidance and blessings. In this way one gains interaction with the gurus, and receives lineage transmission.
The Mahamudra practice is the method of attaining Buddhahood. My unreserved revelation of this major practice will likely astonish many senior leaders of Tantric Buddhism around the world. The world shall witness the reemergence of this major teaching that has been transmitted in secrecy through generations. The cultivation heart essence of Master Sheng-yen Lu is derived from a long lineage of gurus, and with the publication of this book, it shall continue its transmission into the future, so that everyone will be able to partake in its precious secrets. But take note that we must practice in gradual steps, beginning with fulfillment of the five conditions, then the practice of the Four Preliminaries, followed by Guru Yoga, Deity Yoga, the Vajra Practices, and finally Highest Yoga Tantra, gaining realization through stages before one can cultivate the Mahamudra.
Thus, this book is precious, and should be considered extremely so, for it is certainly extraordinary. I would like to once again emphasize that the true teaching of actual practice is the Mahamudra of Attaining Buddhahood.
CHAPTER 3 - The Meditation of Vairocana
First we must learn the seven point meditation posture, which is also known as the seven points of Vairocana. This meditation posture strives to achieve balance in mind and body through the sitting posture. In India, this position for sitting meditation is called the full lotus position, and we know it as the crossed-legged position. As often seen in Buddha statues, the legs are in the vajra posture, with both legs crossed and the soles facing upwards. Thus it is known as the full vajra position.
Sitting in the full lotus position allows the body and mind to stay in complete equilibrium, removing discursive thoughts and facilitating blood circulation. It allows the body to remain soft yet able to endure hardships. Through the seven point meditation posture, one may obtain primordial wisdom, achieve meditational stability, and directly attain Buddhahood.
Why is it called the seven points of Vairocana? It is because Vairocana Buddha is the central Dhyani Buddha of the Five Buddhas, known also as the Great Sun Tathagata (Dainichi Nyorai). Vairocana is the principal deity of Esoteric Buddhism, and is the main deity of both the Vajradhatu Mandala and Garbhadhatu Mandala, symbolizing Universal Illumination.
The image of Vairocana within the Diamond, or Vajradhatu, Mandala is known as the Wisdom Truth Body of the Great Sun, in which he displays the Wisdom-Fist Mudra. The image of Vairocana in the Womb, or Garbhadhatu, Mandala, represents the principle or reason (in Japanese, Ri) aspect of Dainichi, and is known as the Principle Truth Body of the Great Sun. In this image Vairocana displays the Dharmadhatu Mudra (in Japanese, Hokaijyo-in).
According to the Buddhist sutra, the image of Vairocana is described as follows: Vairocana sits on an eight-petalled lotus throne; he has a body gold in colour, appearing like a Bodhisattva seated cross-legged on a jewel lotus, wearing a five Buddha precious crown painted white. His back is adorned with the combined five coloured circular light, his head is encircled with a cloud, and his body is encircled in a colourful aura of multi-layered lights. He appears with shoulder-length, deep maroon hair and long, pierced earlobes adorned with gold earrings. His neck is adorned with layers of ornaments and precious jewels, pearl and jade necklaces, blue pearl ornaments and a garland that hangs down to his knees. His arms are adorned with pearl and jade armlets, and his wrists are decorated with gold bracelets, which may also be worn on his upper arms. His hands are placed together, palms facing upward, with the left palm covering the right palm; the thumbs of each hand touch each other, placed beneath the navel to display the image of entering absorption. He is dressed in light, white celestial clothing, wears a skirt made of different textiles such as blue brocade and silk, and his waist is wrapped with a green girdle belt.
Inwardly, the merits of Vairocana illuminate the dharma realm of Suchness, and outwardly, they illuminate all sentient beings without hindrances. These merits comprise all virtues and merits as a complete whole, and remain constant and unchanged. They also embody the mind of all sentient beings and all Buddhas, whose light is omnipresent. This is the light of this Tathagata who illuminates the dharma realms in equanimity.
Vairocana is never seen in a standing posture, but only in the sitting position. This carries a deeper meaning, as he is the central figure of the Dhyani Buddhas and his image shows him entering into profoundly deep meditation. Thus, the teaching of Mahamudra begins with the meditation posture of Vairocana, where the legs are crossed in the vajra posture of the full lotus position, with the soles of the feet facing upwards.
Some people whose legs are short or whose joints are stiff may find it impossible to cross their legs and achieve the full lotus position. However, they should at least attempt to adjust their soles to face upwards and pull their legs towards the body to achieve a balanced posture.
The hands form the Dharmadhatu Mudra with palms facing upwards, resting beneath the navel point, with the right hand placed over the left hand and the thumbs lightly touching. Alternately, one may form a mudra with tip of the middle fingers touching each other and the thumbs placed at the lower portion of the index fingers, and maintain this mudra consistently. We can use either of these two mudras.
Press the tongue lightly against the upper palate. This is of vital importance, as it is what Taoists would call bridging heaven and earth or building a celestial bridge. When animals enter into hibernation, their tongues rest in a position touching the upper palate. When a practitioner initially enters into the practice of Mahamudra, he would not be able to truly enter into tranquility if his tongue does not touch his upper palate. In India, the act of pressing the tongue against the upper palate is called Khechari. This is not performed simply by touching the upper roof of the palate with the tongue, but also involves rolling the tongue backwards so that it reaches deep into the throat (slipping behind the nasopharynx) and presses against either nasal opening. In this way, one achieves balance between body and mind, for the disruptive flow of breath is calmed. In this way life can be prolonged, and ones essence is kept in place without depletion. The pressing of the tongue against the upper palate requires bending the tongue like a hook to hook against the inner nostril. The Taoist views the tongue as a bridge between ones shen or spirit, which resides in the head, and ones body and heart.
The next aspect of Vairocana meditation is the act of gazing at an object. Most practitioners of the Mahamudra may sit cross-legged in the lotus posture, with the hands positioned beneath the navel (resting on the lap), lift the chest, and press the tongue against the upper palate, yet their minds may still wonder, generating discursive thoughts. Thus, when we want to pacify the mind, we must begin by focusing on one point. The training starts with a person taking an object, placing it within five and a half feet of their gaze, and concentrating on it without letting the gaze waver. In time, one should be able to gaze longer, and once the focus is fixed, the mind is stabilized. Otherwise, the mind wanders. When the mind drifts away, the lackluster gaze makes the person appear dull. Therefore, one must begin with training the mind to focus on one point, as that is the key to pacifying the mind.
The first of the five lineages of Tantrayana is the Tathagata lineage, known also as the Buddha lineage. The principal Buddha of the Buddha lineage is Vairocana Buddha. The mother of the Tathagata lineage is Bodhisattva Buddha Eye (Locana). The Light King of the Tathagata lineage is Vijayosnisa. The Wrathful One is Acala. The consort of the Tathagata Lineage is Aparajitavidyarajni. The heart of the Tathagata lineage involves secret mantras. These constitute the divisions of the Buddha lineage, which also includes their many retinues. When we begin the practice of Mahamudra, we must first learn the meditation posture of Vairocana so that we may gain access into the Buddha lineage and attain Buddhahood within this very body.
Know that the cross-legged full lotus position is meant to take advantage of the circulation of xiaxing chi (downward moving energy which covers the area from the navel to the toes), and is not a pose taken for aesthetic reasons. It is a position that facilitates the smooth circulation of the downward moving energy.
Place the hands evenly [on your lap], with the tips of the middle fingers touching each other, and keep the thumbs close to the lower portion of the index fingers. This keeps the body and mind in complete balance, and allows the body temperature, the circulation of chi and blood circulation to stay in good balance.
By raising the chest and tucking in the chin, the spirit and energy circulate throughout the whole body without hindrance. If we do not raise our chest and tuck our chin, insufficiency of spirit and energy will lead to falling asleep during practice. Many have asked me why they fall asleep upon entering meditation. This is all due to the chest not being raised and the chin not being tucked in, resulting in an absence of spirit and energy. Too much relaxation will lead to falling asleep.
When the tongue is pressed against the upper palate, it allows the shangxing chi (upward-moving wind, or Udana in Sanskrit) to move downward, and the xiaxing chi (downward-moving wind or Apana in Sanskrit) to move upwards. The two energy currents nurture each other through this approach. This important point shall be elucidated in chapter four.
The act of gazing at one object, which is also the method of Focusing the Spirit into the Tianxin Location [the forehead, the seat of the spiritual eye), is a major training of The Illuminated Way of Meditation, and helps to focus the mind on one point. With this focus of mind, one enters into meditative absorption. We can place a vajra or dorje about five and a half feet away from us and gaze at it. The vajra is a precious Tantric ritual object symbolizing indestructibility. When we look at the vajra, we should revere it as though it were the Chinese emperors elongated jade tablet. This will make the meditation meaningful and tangible.
Vairocana, the Great Sun Tathagata, once expounded the dharma at the abode of Mahesvara. The Tathagata at that time had appeared in a body of gold, with his hair piled on top of his head, forming a topknot (Sanskrit: ushnisha) that appeared like a crown with the Five Buddhas seated on it. The Tathagata was radiating lights of many colours, and was clothed in silk like a white celestial robe. This is a sign of attaining perfect enlightenment in the Suddhavasa Heaven. Some people assume that Vairocana, the Great Sun Tathagata, is the Sun God. However, I feel that while the Great Sun Tathagata is synonymous with the sun itself, which turns darkness into brightness, the suns light is divided into day and night, and there are places where sunlight can never reach. Thus, the word great is added to the word sun to signify that the light of the Buddha is undivided by day or night, interior or exterior areas, as the wisdom light of the Great Sun Tathagata shines completely in equanimity throughout all dharma realms.
How should the instruction be carried out? Padmakumara asked.
Padmakumaras questions set into motion a series of events that would result in a specific time in the distant future where I, as Padmakumara, would deliver sentient beings. I accepted the decree of Vairocana and came as a manifestation of Padmakumara to transmit the Mahamudra. This is how it started, and the event itself is a celestial secret, which was neither mysterious nor improvised. Everything has its design and purpose.
Mahamudra is anything but simple. One begins with the seven point Vairocana sitting posture, balancing and controlling the functions of chi and the meridians. Through the full lotus position, the meditation mudra, the raising of the chest and tucking in of the chin, the pressing of the tongue against the upper palate, and the gazing at one object, one harmonizes the body and mind. Only by mastering these prerequisites and setting a good practice foundation can one begin the practice of the heart teaching of purity and perfect realization. Before one can arrive at the state of non-meditation and non-attainment, one should start with the preliminaries of meditation and attainment.
Mahamudra involves the practice of winds, channels and drops. It is an approach for attaining Buddhahood in this very body, and not some empty doctrines to dwell upon as a theoretical endeavour. It requires the individual to put it into practice, to cultivate, to truly gain a spiritual response, from which he shall know that I, Sheng-yen Lu, do not make this up, for what is being said here is absolutely true.
CHAPTER 4 - Psychic Heat, Drops and Inner Fire
Seattle is situated in the State of Washington in the United States of America. Washington lies in the north-west region of America, and shares a border with Canada. This state is five times the size of Taiwan, and has a population of four million (translators note: as of 1984]. As it is located in the north, its winter is freezing cold. In the winter of 1983, a heavy snow reduced the temperature to minus thirty degrees Celsius at night, with a daytime temperature of around minus ten degrees.
The rivers were frozen into ice, and so were the lakes. The dew that rested on the windows was turned into ice. None-the-less, I continued with my meditation. I want to tell my readers that I had no heater in my home. In the severe cold winter, I had to rely on the heat generated through Mahamudra to counter the freezing cold. In my home, the cold air had consolidated into ice, yet my body was sweating lightly, like a stove, experiencing a certain warmth all over. This is the psychic heat produced by Mahamudra practice.
Here is the method for producing psychic heat:
Visualize a spot about four fingers beneath the navel. It is a place where the three channels, the left channel, the right channel and the middle channel, converge, known to the Taoists as the Dan-tian. In this spot is positioned the Sanskrit syllable short AH which is hair-breath in thickness and appears red. This short AH trembles and vibrates like the flame that trembles in the stove. In your visualization, feel that the little flame that resides at the junction of the three channels is rather warm.
Still seated, breathe in using the complete inhalation approach, so that the chi enters the left and right channels (One may review this breathing method in my book, The Realization of the Master). When this breath of wind reaches the meeting point of the three channels, it fans the fire and increases the temperature of the red fiery flame. The hair-breath thickness of the short AH thickens, and becomes even redder.
While performing complete breathing, one needs to visualize the exhalation of blue smoke. Thus, with every complete inhalation and complete exhalation synchronized with their respective visualizations, one continues this cycle of breathing.
Every inhalation and exhalation performed is called a breathing cycle. By performing ten such breathing cycles, the flame should reach the navel chakra. With the next ten breathing cycles, the navel chakra and its surrounding area should be filled with heated wind. The subsequent ten breathing cycles should cause the lower body to experience warmth all over. Another ten breathing cycles thereafter should raise the flame to the heart chakra. Another ten breathing cycles should move it further upwards to the throat chakra. Then, the next ten breathing cycles should raise the flame towards the brow chakra. Another ten breathing cycles should lead it to the crown chakra.
Once I heard that a monk who was spiritually developed would place a teapot of cold water upon his head every time he sat for meditation. When the monk entered into meditative absorption, his body would remain very still. An hour later, the cold water in the teapot would turn hot and began steaming. Such a feat is the yoga of psychic heat, which is the practice of drops and inner fire.
Those who are less adept in this practice may achieve a warm sensation around the region of the Dan-tian. Even ones pubic region feels like a stove, where one finds the area hot when felt with ones hand.
When one gains mastery over the yoga of psychic heat, even the most subtle spots such as the cold tips of the fingers and toes can be penetrated by the heat of the chi, or wind. The whole body experiences a hot sensation. This is the reason I could keep myself warm during the freezing cold winter.
When the psychic heat reaches the crown chakra, the white bodhicitta (white drops) at the crown chakra melts and drips downwards via the path of the tongue that is pressing against the upper palate. This fluid is known in the Taoist teaching as the heavenly court water, and is called nectar in the Buddhist teaching. The fluid has the characteristic of cooling, and when mixed with the psychic heat produces a nurturing effect. This is known as the mixing of water and fire.
1. The first experience that marks progress on the path to attainment of Buddhahood through Mahamudra is psychic heat. When the psychic heat is ignited, it signals success in the most elementary achievement. Without this, all is but empty talk. Some practitioners have gone astray with their practices, since they have lost their glow and their limbs have become cold. These symptoms are an indication of a practice gone wrong.
2. The initial practice of the Mahamudra of psychic heat requires one to meditate six times daily, and only after the ignition of psychic heat can one reduce the practice to three or four times a day. Each session requires at least seventy breathing cycles. One round of inhaling and exhaling constitutes one breathing cycle.
3. The syllable AH is Sanskrit, and the short AH that is as thin as a hair breath resembles the Chinese character Na with the right portion removed. During visualization, pay special attention to the blazing red syllable getting redder and redder, and therefore thicker, with a growing flame that gets hotter as the practice progresses.
4. Inhale through complete breathing. Keep it slow and drawn out, so that the breath reaches the meeting point at the Dan-tian. With the wind fanning the fire, the fire blazes upwards fiercely, moving through one chakra every ten breathing cycles. In total, seventy breaths are needed every meditation session for the seven chakras. Some practise 108 breathing cycles, penetrating all the meridians in the body.
5. When the psychic heat blazes through the crown chakra, the white bodhicitta (nectar) melts and drips downwards. This is an example of the method of mixing water and fire. This is a great secret kept within heaven and earth, a major celestial secret indeed. The truth of attainment in the Buddhist teaching is found within this practice, and so is the truth of the formation of relics.
7. There is a sensation associated with cultivation of psychic heat. The coldness of the limbs is removed and those with health problems find relief when the fire of psychic heat burns inwardly. The circulation of the inner fire of psychic heat clears the meridians of blockages and those who gain mastery over its application may find themselves free from illnesses. This is certainly a first class method for balancing the spiritual energies of body and mind.
8. Due to the arousal of psychic heat, the body feels warm all over and the individual finds himself bathed in a sensation of lightness. The body feels a sense of lightness whereas the mind enjoys a state of freedom. Discursive thoughts cease, leaving the person in a state of extreme tranquility and joy. Generally speaking, as one moves further into the practice, many states of phenomena may be experienced, experiencing visions during meditation such as the projection of past lives, images of beautiful women and dream-like illusory imageries. Irrespective of the nature of these illusory visions, be they good or bad, we should not be attached to them. We should instead strive for active, diligent cultivation, for that shall lead us naturally to attaining Samadhi.
Someone once asked me what psychic heat and inner fire were. The true meaning of psychic heat is the breath of life (prana). The true meaning of inner fire is the fire of life. The survival of man hinges on psychic heat and inner fire.
What exactly is the central channel? The central channel is an invisible channel, a pathway that facilitates the travel of psychic heat through the body. In principle, it exists and moves through the centre of the spine, and some of its secondary veins fan out from the spine. Some have said that the central channel is the governing centre of all spiritual veins. It is close to the Ming Men, the gate of life, which is the source of life itself. The Indians called it the Muladhara, the seat of all drops of psychic heat. These drops are the very life drops of man, and the human body is born from these drops.
Today, the teaching of Mahamudra has clearly elucidated the very source of the life of man, and explains in detail the way to produce psychic heat and inner fire. My exposition of all these teachings is geared towards the deliverance of all sentient beings. Through fearless expedient means, I lead individuals through my teachings so that they may be liberated from the suffering of this world and receive the cause and condition of Buddhahood to attain the path of liberation. What a great dharma affinity and secret this is! The practice of psychic heat takes perseverance, moving from simple to deep levels, and from deep levels one enters into the wonderful realms. From the wonderful realms one enters into the mystical, through which realization can be attained.
Many are also aware that Sheng-yen Lu has great supernatural powers, though some have called me a con man who has absolutely no ability of any sort! Yet the fact that I can write about the practice of Mahamudra is evidence of true knowing. There is nothing mystical about this, for it is the fruit of my actual practice. I have walked past this secret gate and truly mastered its secrets.
CHAPTER 5: The True Practice of Speech Purification
A certain godly being, whose name was Immortal Benevolent Fruit, resided in the Heaven of Constant Enjoyment in the Realm of Desire. As his heaven was adjacent to the human world, he often received the offerings of human beings, and often looked me up. He had enjoyed a great meritorious blessing in the celestial realm and had not continued any form of cultivation. As his blessings had come to an end, he displayed the five signs of decay of a celestial being.
- The pure celestial clothing suddenly becomes tainted. *The adornment of crown and flowers on the head suddenly lose their shine and wither. *A godly being radiates light, yet this aura of light suddenly gives off a degrading smell and releases a bodily odour. *Sweat is seen at the armpit. Where once the being could travel to any realm at will, he is now bound to one place, and appears to lose all his transformation power. *The godly being begins to feel agitated and a dislike for his present condition.
When Immortal Benevolent Fruit experienced the celestial beings five signs of decay, the only person he could ask was me. As he had been living in the Heaven of Constant Enjoyment, whose celestial citizens are enjoying the fruits of their blessings, he had been living with the attitude of enjoy the blessings now and be careless about the future. The beings who reside in this heaven absolutely do not engage themselves in any cultivation, and thus are less ideal than beings in the physical world, for life on earth includes both suffering and joy. Some beings partake in cultivation only because they have gone through much suffering.
If a human performs meritorious deeds, he ascends into the Heaven of Constant Enjoyment to enjoy his blessings. However, the lack of knowledge about cultivating the right dharma subjects him to the phenomenon of the celestial beings five signs of decay upon reaching the end of his blessings. (These facts are detailed in the sutras.)
"You're my friend. I will definitely help you."
In my meditation, I formed the Mudra of the Bodhi Middle Way and transformed the soul of Immortal Benevolent Fruit into a sleeping baby. Then I transferred the nature of the immortal being into the nature of his true mind, so that his mind would not wander, and he remained in a constant state of meditative contemplation. I taught Immortal Benevolent Fruit to abide his self-nature in his mind and recite the mantra OM AH HUM GURU BEI AH HO SA SA MA HA LIAN-SHENG SIDDHI HUM, focusing only on the recitation of this mantra and ignoring everything else.
When one cannot speak, it is called the purification of speech. When the body cannot move, it is called the purification of body. The mind itself is mantra, and mantra is the true word which continues without cessation, purifying the mind and keeping it in a perpetual state of meditative contemplation.
In this way, Immortal Benevolent Fruit was sent by me using the Bodhi Middle Way Mudra to the world of changing phenomena, and incarnated to the human realm. When he was born as a baby, he was born a mute. In this respect, he observed speech purification. The baby was born with a case of soft bones where he could not move or stand. In this respect, he was observing bodily purification.
The baby was handicapped at birth, endowed with a body of soft bones and a speech handicap. He found two individuals who had some karmic debts to balance with him and made them care for him, worry about him, protect him, and treat him.
Yet, no one was aware that the baby was the incarnation of Immortal Benevolent Fruit. All he knew was that his self nature resided in his heart and never ceased reciting the mantra OM AH HUM GURU BEI AH HO SA SA MA HA LIAN-SHENG SIDDHI HUM. Immortal Benevolent Fruit was unperturbed by anything and concentrated only on his mantra recitation within the confinement of his little physical life.
As he was unable to speak, he was in no position to create speech karma. As he was unable to move, he was in no position to create body karma. As his mind was reciting mantra, he was engaging in true cultivation.
In this respect, Immortal Benevolent Fruit was unafraid of being tainted by the human world, where he might never have been free from its bondage. Hence he was overwhelmed with joy and, upon the death of the baby, his soul ascended to the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds at the Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss as a result of his genuine cultivation. Immortal Benevolent Fruit later achieved great accomplishments. It was my use of the Bodhi Middle Way Mudra that had helped him. This is a true account of the incident.
I began the chapter with this story, and leave it for anyone to believe or disbelieve. It is really up to you.
So what exactly is the true practice of speech purification? In principle, those who practise the Mahamudra are considered persons of true renunciation, persons in retreat. This retreat is not concerned with a retreat in the mountains, in caves or stone houses, but refers to a retreat that encloses the thoughts and speech within ones body. This is a retreat of the mind, not body, which thus constitutes an invisible retreat. When we enclose the speech and mind within this physical body made up of the four elements, we attain the true state of retreat, which is essentially the enclosure of the six root senses.
The actual state of Mahamudra is a state of True Voidness, known as Sunyata in Sanskrit. It does not refer to a world of total emptiness where absolutely nothing exists. It is the state of true reality. As we abide in a state of cultivation, we are not subjected to the arising of the senses, maintaining an attitude of neither yes nor no, good nor bad. We maintain this meditative insight, remaining silent in our speech and keeping the body in a calm and tranquil state. This cultivation approach is similar to the way Immortal Benevolent Fruit had maintained his mind.
The state of a babys sweet slumber reflects the true purified state of one practising Mahamudra, for at that time no discursive thoughts exist in the mind, which itself is free from any other thought forms. The body also remains calm and still. When one practises in this fashion, it wont take long before one gains realization. In other words, this situation in which the heart remains undistracted is a state of complete purity, which includes the purification of speech, body and mind. These states of purification of body, speech and mind are interconnected and undivided. Those who cultivate with these three purification secret tantras shall attain yogic response. Their practice of Mahamudra will achieve fruition.
The true practice of speech purification is this. When we ignite the psychic heat, which passes through the crown chakra, we may visualize the Master appearing as Padmakumara above the crown chakra, wearing the Five Buddha Crown and dressed in his dharma robe. His right hand holds a vajra and his left hand holds a bell. Two strips of cloth printed with the Six Syllable Mantra OM MANI PADME HUM hang from his crown to his shoulders. He is seated on an eight-petalled lotus throne whose stem reaches down beneath the throne through the crown chakra of the practitioner. Then the practitioner circulates his psychic heat through the stem of the eight-petalled lotus. As the practitioners psychic heat arises, reaching and becoming one with the Master, the psychic heat from the Master also descends into the practitioner. This two-way energy exchange results in a condition called Bliss through the Arising of Wisdom. This constitutes the great yogic response of Guru Yoga.
When one enters into such a deep, profound state of meditation, everything relies on the action of the mind. The exhalation of breath is slow and drawn out, and similarly, the inhalation is equally slow and drawn out. The exhaling and inhaling of breath is delicate and subtle, as is the heartbeat, for all digestive functions, excretion, blood circulation and sensation are reduced to the minimal. This is the phenomenon of the three purifications experienced when the six root senses are shut off, which resembles the condition of a baby in sweet slumber.
During this period of cultivation, all three delusions are eliminated: delusions arising from incorrect views and thoughts; the numerous delusions which hinder knowledge; and delusions arising from ignorance. Following the elimination of delusions, the three wisdoms arise: the wisdom of omniscience, the wisdom of the types of paths and the all-inclusive wisdom [also defined as the wisdom of the two vehicles, the wisdom of the bodhisattvas, and the wisdom of the buddhas). This leads to the attainment of the wisdom eye, the dharma eye and the buddha eye, and attainment of the three virtues: the virtue of the Buddhas wisdom; the virtue of his freedom from all bonds; and the virtue of the Buddhas truth body. Mahamudra is therefore the highest form of wisdom.
To explain this true practice of speech purification, it is necessary to review the incident of Immortal Benevolent Fruit and use the example of a babys sweet slumber as a metaphor to point to the actual state of attainment. When one practises in stages, one may actualize the bodhi middle path, in which the interaction between ones body, speech and mind and the middle path is realized in perfect interpenetration. Thus, the purification of speech, the purification of body and the purification of mind are essentially undivided, where their unity expresses the three aspects of purification. These three aspects are one reality. This expresses the Perfect Interpenetration of the Three Teachings of Void, Unreality and the Middle Way.
CHAPTER 6 - The Fourfold Mindfulness of Nagarjuna
The name Nagarjuna was translated into Chinese in three different renderings, namely Long Shu (Dragon Tree); Long Sheng (Dragon Prevailing) and Long Meng (Dragon Valiant). The term Long Tian in Chinese, which is often mentioned, actually refers to the two Bodhisattvas, Long Shu (Nagarjuna) and Tien Ching (Vasubandhu).
Nagarjuna ranks third in the transmission lineage of the Eight Shingon Patriarchs, and ranks first among the eight Shingon lineage torchbearers. Nagarjuna was the disciple of the Thirteenth Zen Patriarch, Kapimala. Nagabodhi founded Vajrayana after Nagarjunas time, but since Nagarjuna had already received the Surangama Samadhi, the official establishment of Tantrayana named Nagarjuna as its founder.
The image of Nagarjuna is carved as the form of a solitary hearer dressed in a monks robe, seated on the lotus throne with his palms placed together, an image that resembles an arhat. Mystery and legend surround every aspect of the life of Nagarjuna. An exceptional person of holy characteristics, he could commit any sutra to memory at a glance. He enjoyed a widespread reputation. Before he was ordained as a monk, he was especially fond of women, indulging himself in lustful pursuits. It was only later, when he realized the uselessness of sexual indulgence, that he decided to leave the material world in search of the Buddhist path of renunciation. In a period of ninety days, he completed reading the three Buddhist canons and gained penetration into all profound doctrines.
A great bodhisattva who was responsible for the flourishing of Mahayana Buddhism, Nagarjuna was born into a Brahmin family sometime in the last quarter of the second century, A.D., in Vidarbha in southern India. He passed away in the last quarter of the third century.
A famous account of Nagarjuna depicts him receiving the transmission of the Mahayana sutras from an old monk while he was practising in the Himalayas. After that, he became engrossed in the works of Mahayana. As his ancestral link could be traced to the nagas or dragons of northern India, Nagarjuna was able to enter the dragon palace under the ocean by the use of his spiritual powers and study all the Mahayana scriptures that were being kept there, make records and bring the scriptures back. This was the reason why Mahayana Buddhism flourished.
When Nagarjuna was advancing the dharma in southern India, he defeated many heretics. He expounded the Mahayana teachings in the monastery of Black Bee Mountain, where he subdued many Hinayana monks and others from the black sect. According to the events recorded in the biography of Nagarjuna, he wrote Ten Thousand Verses of Upadesa, Five Thousand Verses on the Treatise of Adorning the Buddhahood, Fifty Verses on the Treatise of the Expedient Means of Great Compassion, and Ten Thousand Verses of the Treatise of Fearlessness, from which the Madhyamaka-sastra was derived. His works were numerous, and he was called the Lord of a Thousand Treatises.
To my knowledge, Nagarjuna was one of the manifestations of Amitabha Buddha. Therefore, among the Five Buddhas, he is Amitabha. We can find many of his works in Buddhist libraries, such as: Treatise on the Materials for Bodhi, Friendly Epistles (Sukrllekha), Compilation of Sutras of the Canopy of Blessings and Right Actions (Sutrasamuccaya), Treatise on the Twelve Gates (Dvadasa-dvara Sastra), Fundamentals of the Middle Way (MulamadhyamakaKarikas), Treatise on the Eighteen Kinds of Sunyata (Astadasakasa Sastra), Refutation of the Concept of Being in the Mahayana (Bhavasamkranti), Treatise on the Essence of Expediency, Commentary on the Great Prajnaparamita Sastra (Mahaprajnaparamita Sastra), Exposition of the Ten Stages of Bodhisattvahood (Dasabhumi-vibhasa Sastra), Verses in Praise of the Dharma Realm, Treatise of the Absence of Bodhicitta, Verses on the Greatness of Making of Vows, Averting Arguments (Vigraha-vyavartani), Treatise of Many Minds, Treatise of the Thirty-Seven Stanzas, Four Treatises on Right Mindfulness, Treatise on the Auspicious Blessings, and so forth. His knowledge was wide and supreme, and Mahayana Buddhism flourished as the result of his propagation. Nagarjuna was indeed a great bodhisattva who advanced the wisdom teachings of the Buddha.
Histories of Nagarjunas life were spiced with the stuff of legends. Some Tibetan lamas said that Nagarjuna was born during the first century BC. Other lamas said that he was born four hundred years after Sakyamuni Buddha entered into Nirvana. And there was a saying that Nagarjuna lived for six hundred years. Yet other sources mentioned that he was still expounding the dharma during the period between the second and third centuries, A.D.
Why do I mention Nagarjuna when I am writing about the Mahamudra? It is because Nagarjuna is the first lineage holder of Tantrayana. He spoke the dharma to the king of southern India who accepted and believed in the Buddhist teachings, and made Nagarjuna his advisor. Nagarjuna elucidated the doctrines of the Middle Path as found in the Commentary on the Great Prajnaparamita Sastra. These doctrines are the Fourfold Mindfulness of Mahamudra.
I shall elucidate on this further:
Mindfulness of the body - As Buddhists practising Mahamudra, it is necessary to remind ourselves to frequently practice mindfulness of the body, visualizing our fathers on our right and mothers on our left, with all our parents, relatives and loved ones of the six realms surrounding us. Located closest to us is the hell realm. Lying further away is the hungry ghost realm. After that is the animal realm, followed by the human realm. Further away is the asura realm, and furthest in the distance is the heavenly realm.
If a Buddhist does not cultivate the buddhadharma, eventually he shall find himself spiritually degenerated. This is true for all sentient beings. All of us who are mindful of ourselves in the physical body know that physical phenomena must undergo the four stages of completion, existence, destruction and finally emptiness. Likewise, everyone is subject to birth, old age, sickness and death. Thus, when observing the mindfulness of the body, it is important to contemplate on the empty nature of the body. As stated in the Diamond Sutra, we must see through the delusion of the physical self and the ego self. The perception of a self, a being, a life, or a soul is essentially empty.
This concept of mindfulness of the body is fundamentally similar to concepts studied by a beginner in Buddhism, and may appear to be elementary. Nonetheless, not many people are able to see through the delusion of the body. Many are aware that all material things will eventually be destroyed, and all living things will age and die, and that no one is excluded from this natural process. However, those who cannot see through the delusion of the body will continue to pursue fame and fortune and other material things. These deluded people will naturally fall to the three lower realms and be drawn back into the six realms of Samsara.
Mindfulness of the suffering caused by emotions - The five aggregates are born from the five kinds of discursive thought, and are certainly not a part of the nature of True Reality or Suchness. The five aggregates are the aggregates of form, feeling, conception, habitual action and consciousness. The aggregate of form refers to physical form. The aggregate of sensation is the feeling caused by the perception of physical objects. The aggregate of conception is the arising of thoughts. The aggregate of habitual action refers to unfocussed mental formations and unrefined action. The aggregate of consciousness is the mental faculty that is responsible for all changes and transformations.
In principal, the arising of the five aggregates stems from a defiled thought which results in a mixture of true reality and delusion, which in turn forms the aggregate of consciousness. From consciousness come the aggregates of form, sensation, conception and habitual action. They overlap one another and arise in stages.
Generally speaking, it is necessary to first eliminate the aggregate of form before attempting to eliminate all five aggregates. And the root of all aggregates stems from the rise of discursive thoughts. Sakyamuni Buddha once said, The five aggregates have their roots in delusions, and yet our self nature is a clear and wonderful state of the true mind which is inherently pure and perfect, devoid of thought and contamination. While the wonderful mind of self awareness expresses a wonderful clarity and true essence, the arising of the five aggregates results from a single thought that has drifted due to karmic affinity, and is subsequently transformed into delusion.
Thus, the Buddhist practitioner of Mahamudra must recognize the delusion and emptiness of the five aggregates when he is mindful of the suffering caused by emotion. He will naturally want to leave the cycle of life and death. Therefore, when one dwells in the mindfulness of the suffering caused by emotion, one should contemplate on the five aggregates, and become familiar with the true bliss that comes from Nirvana. One should vow never to linger within the burning house of the three lower realms.
Mindfulness of the mind - Contemplation on the non-origination and non-extinction of all mental phenomena. Here is a verse: The nature of phenomena arising from mental conditions is marked by non-origination, non-extinction, non-destruction, non-permanence, non-coming into being, non-going out of being, non-identity, and non-differentiation. With the cessation of all deluded concepts, I pay homage to the Buddha who has expounded the wonderful teaching of tranquility.
The Buddhist practitioner of Mahamudra is therefore required to contemplate on the world as created from the thoughts of sentient beings. It is thus said that the three realms are created by the mind, and all phenomena are formed from consciousness. We must first pacify the mind of contamination. The six gunas or qualities of the senses will cease to arise, thus eliminating all karma. When one arrives at the stage where no thought arises, the six realms of cyclic existence will disappear and one shall be liberated from the three lower realms.
The statement the three realms are created by the mind, and all phenomena are formed from consciousness illustrates the reality that every phenomenon is marked by non-origination and non-extinction. From understanding every phenomenon is marked by non-origination and non-extinction, one realizes that emptiness and illusion exist as they are, undifferentiated in reality, where love and hatred, taking and renunciation cease to have meaning, thus allowing one to experience detachment and abide in a mental state of equanimity. This illustrates the state of gaining self-realization and helping others gain realization; delivering oneself and others; being mindful of the perfection of cognition and practice of the bodhisattva mind.
Mindfulness of the mental phenomena - The practitioner of Mahamudra must constantly and diligently contemplate on the first three states of mindfulness. Nagarjunas contemplation of the fourfold mindfulness will have silenced all discursive thoughts, helping one gain the great perfection of Mahamudra.
Heres a verse:
Anyone who is involved in the practice of Mahamudra must pray to his guru for blessings prior to entering each meditation session. This is how Tibetan lamas recite the prayer of invocation (Dorje Chang Thungma]:
DOR JE CHANG CHEN TELO NARO DANG
Great Vajradhara, Tilopa, Naropa,
MARPA MILA CHO-JE GAMPOPA
Marpa, Milarepa, and Lord of the Dharma, Gampopa,
DUSUM SHE JA KUN KHYEN KARMAPA
Knower of the three times, omniscient Karmapa,
CHE ZHI CHUNG GYE GYU PA DZIN NAM DANG
Lineage holders of the four great and eight lesser schools:
DRI TAK TSAL SUM PALDEN DRUKPA SOK
Drikung, Taklung, Tsalpa, glorious Drukpa and others;
ZAB LAM CHAK GYA CHE LA NGA NYE PE
You who have thoroughly mastered the profound path of Mahamudra,
NYAM ME DRO GON DAKPO KAGYU-LA
Unrivaled protectors of beings, the Dakpo Kagyu,
SOLWA DEB SO KAGYU LAMA NAM
I pray to you, the Kagyu lamas,
GYU PA DZIN NO NAM TAR JIN GYI LOB
Grant your blessings that we may follow your tradition and example.
ZHEN LOK GOM GYI KANG PAR SUNG PA ZHIN
Detachment is the foot of meditation, it is taught.
ZE NOR KUN LA CHAK ZHEN ME PA DANG
Attachment to food and wealth disappears,
TSEN DIR DO TAK CHO PAY GOM CHEN LA
To the meditator who gives up his ties to this life;
NYE KUR ZHEN PA ME PAR JIN GYI LOB
Grant your blessings that attachment to ownership and honor cease.
MO GO GOM GYI GO WOR SUNG PA ZHIN
Devotion is the head of meditation, it is taught.
MEN NGAK TER GO JE PAY LAMA LA
The lama opens the door to the profound oral teachings;
GYUN DU SOLWA DEB PAY GOM CHEN LA
To the meditator who always turns to him,
CHO MIN MO GU KYE WAR JIN GYI LOB
Grant your blessing that uncontrived devotion be born within.
YENG ME GOM GYI NGO ZHIR SUNG PA ZHIN
Unwavering attention is the body of meditation, it is taught.
GANG SHAR TOK PAY NGO WO SO MA DE
Whatever arises is the fresh nature of thought;
MA CHO DE KAR JOK PAY GOM CHEN LA
To the meditator who rests in naturalness,
GOM JA LO DANG DRAL WAR JIN GYI LOB
Grant your blessings that meditation be free from intellectualization.
NAM TOK NGO WO CHO KUR SUNG PA ZHIN
The essence of thought is dharmakaya, it is taught.
CHI YANG MA YIN CHIR YANG CHAR WA LA
Thoughts are nothing whatsoever, and yet they arise in the mind;
MA GAK ROL PAR CHHAR WAY GOM CHHEN LA
To the meditator who reflects upon the unobstructed play of the mind
KHOR DE JER ME TOK PAR JIN GYI LOB
Grant your blessing that the inseparability of samsara and nirvana be realized.
KYE WA KUN TU YANG DAK LAMA DANG
Through all my births, may I not be separated
DRAL ME CHO KYI PAL LA LONG CHO CHING
From the perfect Lama and so enjoy the glory of the dharma.
SA DANG LA GYI YON TEN RAP DZOK NE May
I completely accomplish the qualities of the path and stages,
DOR JE CHANG GI GO PHANG NYUR TOP SHOK
And quickly attain the state of Vajradhara.
1. This prayer is a literal translation from the Tibetan language, and is provided only as a reference. As languages differ from country to country, correct pronunciation of the prayer may not be achieved. If one should aspire to recite it properly, it is best to seek guidance from a Tibetan lama. However, each lama may pronounce the prayer differently, as the Tibetan language is coloured by many different local accents.
3. Words such as DANG, SOK, PE, LA, ZHIN, DE, LOB signify the end of a sentence.
When one aspires to practise the Mahamudra, one must receive the necessary empowerments and oral teachings from the root guru. The practitioner must first establish yogic response with the physical guru, and through him seek response from the lineage holders. Only by receiving this response in stages can one gain accomplishments. This is necessary, for the practitioner of Mahamudra must rely upon the blessings of the guru, whose holy mind shall cleanse his defiled mind. When the practitioner gains a secret response, in which his mind is in tune with his gurus mind, he shall have great accomplishment.
The guru is the embodiment of the Triple Jewel of the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. When one takes refuge with the guru, it is tantamount to taking refuge with the Dharmakaya (Truth Body) Buddha, the Sambhogakaya (Bliss Body) Buddha, and the Nirmanakaya (Emanation Body) Buddha. Such great accomplishment must begin with taking refuge, where a person cleanses himself of karma by transforming karma into right wisdom. This constitutes the first step of a mundane being stepping into buddhahood.
The grace of the guru bestowed upon the practitioner opens his spirit and mind, for the gurus spiritual light is omnipresent and resides in space. The guru is one who has realized the Nirvana of Perfect Enlightenment through his practice of the Highest Yoga of Mahamudra. Such is the great spiritual mother light that spans all space. In empowerment, the human guru and lineage holders are transformed into globes of spiritual light that enter the practitioner through his crown chakra. Only then can one gain accomplishment in the practice of Mahamudra.
The Mahamudra of Gurus Blessings is performed through visualizing ones human guru on ones crown chakra. Above the guru are seated the lineage holders in yoga posture in multiple levels, arranged in ascending order beginning with the human guru at the base and reaching Vajradhara, or Dorje Chang in Tibetan, at the top. In this case, the guru is Holy Red Crown Vajra Guru Master Lian-sheng, Sheng-yen Lu. Above him is seated the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa, and so forth. Visualize the lineage holders transformed into light drops, which are absorbed into the body of the practitioner. As the practitioner gains yogic response with the guru, he eventually receives the great spiritual light.
To all Gurus: I pray to you
Bestow upon me your great spiritual light.
Grant that in my practice of Mahamudra
All is complete and continues without pause.
To all Gurus: I pray to you
Bestow upon me your great spiritual light.
Grant that in my practice of Mahamudra
I shall become the mandala itself.
To all Gurus: I pray to you
Bestow upon me your great spiritual light.
Grant that in my practice of Mahamudra
My three channels will be filled.
To all Gurus: I pray to you
Bestow upon me your great spiritual light.
Grant that in my practice of Mahamudra
My body shall be filled with psychic heat.
To all Gurus: I pray to you
Bestow upon me your great spiritual light.
Grant that in my practice of Mahamudra
All impurities shall be purified.
To all Gurus: I pray to you
Bestow upon me your great spiritual light.
Grant that in my practice of Mahamudra
The dharmakaya shall soon appear.
To all Gurus: I pray to you
Bestow upon me your great spiritual light.
Grant that in my practice of Mahamudra
I shall be freed from delusion.
To all Gurus: I pray to you
Bestow upon me your great spiritual light.
Grant that in my practice of Mahamudra
I shall attain buddhahood soon.
To all Gurus: I pray to you
Bestow upon me your great spiritual light.
Grant that my practice of Mahamudra
Will transform my consciousness so that I may turn the dharma wheel.
To all Gurus: I pray to you
Bestow upon me your great spiritual light.
Grant that in my practice of Mahamudra
I shall attain great accomplishment.
To all Gurus: I pray to you
Bestow upon me your great spiritual light.
Grant that in my practice of Mahamudra
I shall swiftly attain nirvana.
Before every meditation session, we must first recite the Lineage Prayer of Invocation, and then visualize the human guru and all the lineage holders transformed into light drops entering into the body of the practitioner, following which we recite verses praising the blessing of Mahamudra. Next, we enter into practice. The various practices that we undertake must be completed in gradual stages. However, we can be flexible in the arrangement of practices. Some may begin with Guru Yoga and follow with Ekagrata or one-pointed meditation, and continue with the ignition of psychic heat practice and so forth. Others who have more time at their disposal may adopt an approach where they perform all three practices in a single meditation session. You can choose whatever practices and arrangement you wish, but we must still regard the Guru Yoga Practice as the most important.
When the practitioner faces his guru, he must view his guru as indivisible from the Buddha. When invoking the presence of Padmakumara the Vajra Guru, Master Practitioner of the Secret Teachings, there are three recitations to be made:
A disciple who cultivated the Guru Yoga Practice suddenly saw the guru arriving on a cloud in his meditation. The guru held a white lotus in his hand and descended gradually, passing the lotus to the disciple, who was in meditative absorption, before disappearing immediately.
Another individual had prayed for the blessings of the guru. In his meditation, he saw the guru riding on a huge elephant with six tusks, his hand holding a pen that he used to write the Sanskrit letters of the Green Tara Mantra in the air. The guru recited every syllable of the Green Tara Mantra, teaching the practitioner until he learned it. Once the mantra was learned, the guru disappeared, leaving the disciple overcome with tears of joy.
Another disciple had prayed for the gurus blessings, and during his meditation he saw the gurus facial and bodily features transformed into a three-headed, six-armed statue several storeys tall. The statue was holding magical dharma weapons. His faces displayed a wrathful look; his body was engulfed in tongue-like flames; his eyes darted with an electrifying stare that the disciple could not look at directly. Subsequently, the disciple felt remorse, for he had committed acts of misconduct, which resulted in the guru manifesting a wrathful form to warn him. During his meditation, he could feel the ground trembling to a degree that he could not sit still and fell towards the floor. Later, he wrote a letter of repentance.
Another individual had prayed for the gurus blessings. This disciple was suffering from an illness and had come down with a high fever. He suddenly saw the guru approaching, holding a bottle of nectar in his hand which the guru poured into his body through his crown, curing him of his high fever. He saw his guru touching his head with his hands, and felt a surge of gratitude filling his heart, leaving him in tears. This disciple who was suffering from high fever felt a rush of fresh coolness in his body when the nectar entered his head. He recovered completely the next day.
A certain individual who had prayed for the gurus blessings proceeded with his practice for forty-nine days. During his meditation on the forty-ninth day of his practice, he suddenly felt a shaft of white light descending from the sky, and in an instant he experienced a clear vision of all things. His body and mind were transformed into white light, and he experienced a sudden increase in his wisdom. What he had not understood in the past suddenly made sense to him. He was a different dharma student. In the past, he faced difficulties in each step in his study of the dharma. Since receiving the blessings of the guru, he gained yogic response in his study of dharma. He felt the constant presence of his guru, and enjoyed a sense of lightness in his body and mind, finding a joy that he had never experienced before. The teachings, which were once incomprehensible to him, were now accessible, and he could apply them to his life.
He set out to perform three tasks:
A certain disciple had prayed for the blessings of the guru. He had an experience in which he witnessed spots of white, red, green, yellow and blue coloured light the size of medicine pills. The disciple was amazed. The appearance of medicines in space corresponded with the disciples practice of the Medicine Buddha Practice, and these medicines made three circles in space before falling into his hand. Ever since then, the patients who received help from him through the Medicine Buddha Practice were healed of their illnesses. He was overjoyed and wrote a letter to inform me of this occurrence. Actually I knew it long before he wrote his letter.
There was a disciple who practised Guru Yoga diligently. However, his practice was ridiculed by a Tantric practitioner from a different order. Once, the Tantric practitioner slandered me before my disciple, and in defence, my disciple said, Master Sheng-yen Lu is the Vajra Lion King. He is a master who has attained the supreme perfect enlightenment. How dare you insult my guru! If my guru were false, you would certainly have no sin. But if my guru is a genuine one, try insulting him forty-nine times and you will receive retribution at once.
The Tantric practitioner laughed out loud and condemned me, repeating, Sheng-yen Lu is a false master forty-nine times. Upon completion, he retaliated by asking, So, where is my retribution? My disciple left in silence. Three months later, the same Tantric practitioner went to a friends place, which happened to be a timber factory. A crane was picking up a huge log, which accidentally struck the Tantric practitioner as it rotated. The practitioner instantly vomited blood and later died at his home. This incident happened in Malaysia.
A disciple had requested the blessings of the guru, and in his meditation he saw many gods entering into his meditation room, encircling him one after another. Subsequently a god in golden armour came and said to the rest of the godly beings, Master Sheng-yen Lu has arrived in the sky above. The gods looked up and saw white light illuminating the sky, painting it as bright as lightning flashes. Upon closer examination, they saw the guru appearing in a body of gold, seated on a lotus throne and emitting rays of moon essence from his crown. Then the assembly of gods placed their palms together in respect and uttered their praise, In this universal great dharma circumstances we shall take refuge. We the dragons and gods are willing to protect the dharma.
After these beings spoke, a thunderclap was heard. At once, they ascended into the air, their bodies spotted in red with white bellies and large, massive jaws. All in all there were nine dragons that danced in the sky. The golden armoured god rode on one of the dragons and paid homage to the guru. My disciple was astonished to witness this vision, and gained even greater respect for his guru.
There was one disciple who went into the mountains to cultivate Guru Yoga. He found a cave and sat crossed-legged to practise. His residence was in Sumatra, and he lived on a mountain where tigers roamed. Later, a tiger appeared and its presence sent fear into the heart of my disciple. The tiger stared at him while he was seated, and his mind was running wild. He went ahead and shouted, Guru save me! The tiger was taken aback by the sound, lowered its head and made some growling noises before turning away. The disciple immediately ran down the mountain in the cloak of darkness. The shout of Guru save me had frightened away the tiger.
A certain disciple was very respectful of the guru, and he practised the invocation of the blessings of the guru in his daily practice. He was a famous artist and painted a huge painting of the guru that could fill the space of an entire wall. On the day it was completed, he secured the painting to his wall and lighted a stick of good quality incense. As the smoke from the incense rose to the level of the gurus face, it stopped rising and circulate around the gurus face for above five minutes before dissipating.
On that very night, the artist dreamed that the guru took him to his backyard where the guru pointed to a spot beneath the wall before disappearing. The next day, at the same spot he unearthed a huge box that contained many Tantric practice texts, ritual objects and a piece of a dharma robe. Upon investigating his family history, he found out that his great grandfather had been a great adept of the Tantric teachings and had studied the Tantric teachings under His Holiness the Four Treasures Dharma King, from whom he had received his dharma robe. Before he passed away, he was concerned that the Tantric ritual objects and practice texts might be subjected to abuse, so he decided to place them in a box and bury them under the ground. As his present-day descendent has accepted my Tantric tutelage, the ritual objects therefore reemerged. One of the practice texts is a major Tantric practice that is extremely rare and precious.
A certain practitioner belonging to the Kagyu order had practised the Tantric teachings for many years. He himself was a master. He cultivated the Black Retreat and practised the Guan Yin or Chenrezig Practice. When he attained yogic response, he saw Guan Yin Bodhisattva informing him that a Mahasiddha had appeared on earth and he was none other than Master Sheng-yen Lu. The Bodhisattva urged him to take refuge with Master Lu and learn the dharma from him. This Kagyu master had earlier learned of Sheng-yen Lus fame, but he was unconvinced of his attainment. Thus, you can imagine his astonishment when Chenrezig told him of Master Lu.
After coming out of his retreat, this master did not come to look for me immediately. He was already eighty years old while I am still in my forties. He is a senior master and I am a junior master. Yet one night, he sat in meditation and heard the mantra of Tara resonating all around him. He saw himself transformed into the face of a baby held in his mothers embrace. When he looked at his mothers face, he was shocked to find the face of Master Sheng-yen Lu. At this point he had a realization and decided to put aside the differences of seniority and age, and wrote to seek refuge and empowerment.
Yet another disciple insisted on the practice of seeking the gurus blessings. He was determined to gain yogic response in his cultivation, yet for a long time nothing happened. He purchased a statue of the guru to pray to, and purchased a few more statues to give away to those who were too poor to afford one. Despite this, he received no spiritual responses.
Then one night he dreamed of his guru touching his crown and digging something from his head with his hand. Finally, the guru pulled a long black worm out of his head and told him that the black worm of karma had prevented him from receiving any yogic response. The guru informed him that the following day his practice would definitely yield results.
True enough, on the following day, he saw white light entering his crown and a clear path from his navel to the crown. Spiritual vitality filled his entire being. This disciple was able to gain penetration into all Tantric teachings, and could transform his crystal clear heart into the form of a lotus flower. He received many major Tantric practices and gained yogic responses with all of them. Amazingly, he accomplished the Phowa Yoga and could help others open the pathway to the crown chakra.
These are just a few examples to illustrate the spiritual power of the Mahamudra of the Gurus Blessings. I hope all disciples will practice in accordance with these instructions. I am sure you will have great accomplishments.
CHAPTER 8 - Ekagrata Meditation
The 16th Gyalwa Karmapa told me, `Most people who practise meditative absorption find that they cannot still their minds, which wander ceaselessly. This seems to be the biggest problem. Thus, we should adopt the seven point Vairocana posture, regulate our breathing, and practice the Ekagrata or One-Pointedness Meditation. This approach helps to focus the mind, so that it does not stray away. Thus it helps one enter into absorption easily.`
The approach of the 16th Gyalwa Karmapa includes three other steps:
Contemplation on the statue of the Buddha with our eyes - The buddha image is the most adorned form of purity, be it carved or painted. As the Buddha is displayed in golden brilliance, made magnificent by all his actions, his face emanates only compassion; his body, seen dressed in the three robes and adorned with pearl and jade necklaces, is encircled with wheels of light. When we single-mindedly contemplate on the magnificence of the Buddhas image, we are practising ekagrata or one-pointed focusing on the Buddhas form. When we do this repeatedly over time, the image of the Buddha stays constantly in our mind. And in no time we attain the Purity of One-Pointedness.
Contemplation on the moon disc with our eyes - The crown of the buddha image is often seen with the aura of a moon disc. We can focus on this light, for the moon disc symbolizes the gradual elimination of the hindrances of ignorance. The moon waxes and wanes, changing from a crescent to a full moon, which represents the clearing of all dark karma. On the moon disc is usually inscribed the Sanskrit syllable HUM, which represents our self and buddha nature. The light of the moon disc is emitted from the syllable HUM. When we focus our eyes on the light of the moon disc, we constantly imagine this light shining on us, entering us through the crown chakra and filling us with the pure light. As we constantly contemplate on this light, we attain the Purity of One-Pointedness in no time.
Contemplation on the seed with our eyes - Most living buddhas who enter into nirvana are found to leave behind many relics after their cremation. These relics, which are bean-like, oval-shaped limestone objects in the form of an egg, come in different hues. The Tibetan tulkus, or living buddhas, consider these objects as seeds. The Tibetans are convinced that such objects are evidence of someone attaining the holy power and realizing his true nature. They are symbolic proof of the appearance of the Truth Body Dharmakaya from the Emanation Body Nirmanakaya. When we place this colored relic before us and contemplate its radiance, emitting pure lights entering into our hearts, over time we shall attain the Purity of One-Pointedness.
These three kinds of contemplation are:
I have been practising Mahamudra for many years, and once I met a teacher who taught me a method of practice. In this practice, the tantric practitioner installs a large mirror in the most suitable place in front of where he usually sits in meditation. The mirror should reflect his whole body so that the practitioner can closely examine himself. For example, when we meet with a joyous occasion, we would observe our smile and the happiness on our faces. However, should we receive insults and slander, our faces would naturally reflect our unhappiness. These expressions of joy, anger, sadness and happiness can be observed closely in the mirror. When we examine our features closely, we are able to discern the varied facial features and the changes in expression as they develop each day. In principle, this contemplation is a form of self-reflection, which is taught in Confucianism as sitting still to constantly reflect on ones misdeeds. Except in this case a mirror is hung in front of us so we can examine our faults closely. This is similar to how others see us, and hence how we may look at ourselves.
In this respect, when we constantly reflect upon ourselves and observe ourselves, we shall understand the delusion of how others perceive us, and how others attach themselves to us. In this way, we achieve the goal of breaking the foolish habit of holding to our illusory physical body. This approach of installing a mirror to observe ourselves helps us recognize the fact that we ourselves are products of illusion, products which are no different from clouds and smoke, the reflection of moon in water, an illusory dream or a reflection of a flower in a mirror. When we achieve this state of Ekagrata or one-pointedness, we attain the three contemplations of Void, Unreal and Mean.
When I was studying Taoism, my teacher Grand Taoist Master Qing-zhen of the Qing-cheng Sect secretly taught me a method which involves a person sitting on a hassock. Two sticks of incense, placed two and a half feet away, are lit directly in front of his left and right eyes. His eyes almost shut, leaving only a slight slit, he stares at the red burning tips of the incense. He creates a mental image of the red light through visualization and holds the image in his spiritual eye (the inner vision centered in our forehead). I personally feel that this method is very efficient, as the red spots on the two incense sticks glow brightly, and once our eyes lock onto them, they merge into one spot which centers in the spiritual eye. At this stage, a tingling sensation is felt around the spiritual eye, and this sensation consolidates into a sense of firmness. All our senses become concentrated at the spiritual eye, which corresponds with the secret of the major practice of meditation on attaining realization through the spiritual eye.
I have been practising this method of concentration for many years, and it is a wonderful approach to focusing the mind. Ekagrata Meditation can be performed according to ones wish. If you feel that a certain approach suits you better, then work with that practice, so long as you achieve the goal of focusing the mind with self control. If a person does not practice One-Pointedness Meditation, it would be a fallacy for him to claim that he has attained the Tao. If an individual has not cultivated One-Pointedness Meditation, his mind would be acted upon by his impure consciousness, and his mind would fluctuate like waves in the great ocean without a moment of peace or tranquility. His mind would be like a pail of water contaminated with colour pigments and sewage which can never become clear. Thus, if a person cultivates the way of Tao with a defiled mind, he shall never attain anything.
The difference between a mundane mind and a spiritual mind is that a mundane mind tends to fluctuate, whereas the spiritual mind is tranquil. The mundane mind is constantly engaged in discursive thoughts, craving only for wealth and sex. In this way, the individual is constantly losing spirit and vitality until old age and death, when he or she is consumed with negative karma, which draws him or her to the hell realm, the hungry ghost realm and the animal realm. Mahamudra, on the other hand, helps one realize ones self nature. It raises the psychic heat, holds the mind in contemplation and stills the thoughts. Hence, it is a supreme major tantric practice which constantly turns the dharma wheel.
When a cultivator practices Ekagrata Meditation, he eventually achieves a state where the light of original nature reveals its presence, presenting itself as clearly as the water reflecting the moon, untouched by all things, and uncontaminated. When one arrives at a point where all outer conditions are let go, one achieves the state of the non-arising of thoughts. At that time, there is no contamination arising from the six organs of eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body and mind, where ones self nature is untouched by the senses of sight, sound, smell, taste, touch and thought. A cultivator may be in the world, but he is not of it. Thus, he is removed from perceptions of a self, a being, a life, or a soul. When he reaches this spiritual state, what is seen as the sun, the moon, and the stars are non-existent to him, and what are experienced as human emotions are non-existent as well. When all phenomena cease to exist, he is close to attaining the great state of absorption.
When a cultivator practises One-Pointedness Meditation, he works on the focus of his mind and, as he concentrates on one-point, the circulation of the chi or energy in his channels travels like an electrical current which is experienced as a pulsation. This is called Qi Ling or the awakening of spirit (translators note: also known commonly as Kundalini Awakening). If we learn to gain control over this process, this spiritual current will definitely help to strengthen our body and cure us of illness. It certainly benefits us greatly. However, if we cannot achieve self-control, we will easily be subject to outside influences, and be drawn into a psychotic state of mind. Therefore it is my wish that anyone who practises this method should keep to a normal diet and have sufficient sleep. If you practise the awakening of spirit to strengthen your physical body, keep to a daily routine of one session lasting no more than twenty minutes. Do not over-exert yourself and do not crave for spiritual powers. Then you shall have few worries.
When practising Ekagrata Meditation, as we keep to one focus, some spiritual experiences are likely to occur. If we do not experience the awakening of spirit, we may experience various illusory visions and states in our absorption. These visions may arise non-stop. The Tantric practitioner may report these illusory visions to his guru, and the guru who is well versed with such conditions will properly guide him in the ways to handle them. You may also choose to completely ignore these visions, and focus solely on absorption, remaining unaffected by the visions. When you are unafraid, unworried, and unattached to these visions, you will naturally have no problem. If you are drawn and led by these illusory visions, it is highly probable that you will stray into the Mara realms.
When a person sits too long in the seven point Vairocana posture practising Mahamudra, his body and mind may become fatigued, and he may tend to doze off and enter into the dream state. If he knows how to awaken his spirit, he may set his body moving automatically to counter the sleepiness. If he does not know the art of awakening his spirit, he should spend time climbing, enjoying the ocean, or looking at some picturesque scenery to allow his body and mind to recuperate from the fatigue. When our mind is comfortable, it is easier to enter into absorption. These are important points to take note of.
The teachings in my book, The Illuminated Way of Meditation, are within the scope of Ekagrata Meditation. This is a major practice that takes one out of this Samsaric world, for the practice of meditation on attaining illumination through the spiritual eye delivers one out of the heavenly realm and beyond the three realms, and places one in a state of birthlessness and deathlessness. It is certainly powerful.
Mahamudra is thus a unified practice, combining all practices. It is cultivated in stages before one reaches great attainment. By practising Ekagrata, one attains purity of body, purity of speech and purity of mind, which together constitute the supreme state of meditative absorption.
One Mahamudra mantra is OM SOBAWA SUDA SARVA DHARMA SOBAWA SUDO HAM (translators note: this mantra is also known as the Emptiness Visualization Mantra). The meaning of this mantra is clear; it points to the purity of the self-nature, indicating that the self-nature of all dharma is pure. This secret mantra of Mahamudra is a most perfect mantra, and we should commit it to memory and recite it often.
I have been studying mantras for many years, and among my teachers are Tibetans and Chinese. I find that the pronunciation of the mantras is truly diverse and confusing, for each teacher has his own unique accent. Take for example the Chinese language. Sichuan Chinese, Beijing Chinese, Shandong Chinese, and Fujian Chinese are all very different from each other.
It is the same in Tibet, where you find many local accents. In Nepal, the Himalayas region, the snow mountains regions, Tibet (Utsang or front Tibet/Tsang or rear Tibet), Kashmir, Punjab, Sikkim, Bhutan, Assam, and Uttar Pradesh, you find many languages spoken within any single region, and there are so many regions here. To my knowledge, in the Himalayas there are over twenty languages of various races.
How does one obtain the correct intonation of the mantras? I feel that Tantric practitioners should adhere to the pronunciation as transmitted by their own guru, and avoid learning too many variations of mantras sound. Once a person learns many variations of pronunciation, he may be lost and confused as to which version is the right one, and as a result, he may lose his faith in reciting the mantra.
There is an individual called Lai Shih Pei who lives in California, USA. He sent a book entitled Popular Buddhist Mantras in Sanskrit which was printed by the Mahayana Sutra Printing Chapter in Taiwan.
In the preface, Lai Shih Pei wrote, ` Mantras, as transmitted in the Tantric teachings, are genuine dharma treasures which are directly realized by all the buddhas. They are the main tool used in Tantric cultivation. As the secret of Tantrayana lies in achieving response, success really hinges on the accuracy of the tool or mantra being used. Most intonations of the mantras today have swayed away from their original pronunciation, losing their accuracy. Therefore, Tantric cultivators can hardly achieve any response from their cultivation, or find that they need to work twice as hard to achieve the same results. Even if they should rely upon the Tibetan phonetics, a gap still separates their pronunciation from the original source.
` I met an individual who was a descendent of the Brahmins in Nepal. As the Brahmins are taught to recite the ancient Sanskrit literature since childhood, this individual excels as an authority with his academic achievement of receiving his doctorate degree in Sanskrit studies. Together in a joint venture, we made transliterations and recordings of the mantras from the Buddhist Canon, and offer this as a reference for practitioners.
- 1) The thirty-four commonly used minor mantras.
- 2) The Great Compassion Dharani.
- 3) Sadhana of the Vajra King of Tantras of All Tathagatas
- 4) Sadhana of the Great Compassionate Voidness and Wisdom of the Vajra King of Tantras.
- 5) Dharani of the Great, Universally Radiant, Pure, Incandescent Protectress of the Invincible King of Mantras (Mahapratisara-vidyarajni). Also known as the Mahapratisara Mantra
- 6) Root Sadhana of Manjusri.
- 7) Sutra of the Great Thousand Defender of the Land (Mahasahasrapramardani-nama-mahayana Sutra)
- 8) The Great Peacock Sutra (Mahamayuri-vidyarajni)`.
This book was edited and compiled by Mr. Lai Shih Pei, and a great deal of effort went into the work. It was published by the Mahayana Sutra Printing Chapter. After listening to the cassette tape recording of the mantra recitation, I invited the resident lamas at the Washington Center of Tibetan Language to listen to the tape, and they commented that the mantras were delivered with proper pronunciation. If you are interested in correct pronunciation of mantras, you may make enquiry to the Mahayana Sutra Printing Chapter. (Translators note: This book (in Chinese with some English translations of the mantras) and its companion CD is now published by Evergreen Buddhist Culture Service, http://www.egbuddhist.com]
This is with regards to the pronunciation of mantras.
The mantra and breathing practices of Mahamudra involve interchanging and circulating. This is one of the secrets of Mahamudra. When practising breathing in Mahamudra, the nutrients within the air are absorbed into the body, not through the lungs, but directly into the bloodstream. This flow of prana or chi enters the mind and body and circulates within. When inhaling, one visualizes the air as pure and clear, and when exhaling, one visualizes impurities. In principle, we apply the complete breathing method, where the inhalation of air is slow and drawn out, followed by a similarly slow exhalation. This is known as the Turtle Breathing Method.
The heart, lungs and kidneys are of the earth element, whose makeup is earth.
The blood and fluid are of the water element, whose makeup is water.
The heat of the body is of the fire element, whose makeup is fire.
Our breath is of the wind element, whose makeup is wind.
What is happening here? The physical body of the novice practitioner of Mahamudra is still filled with karmic hindrances, and he needs to inhale light and exhale the filthy energy. On the contrary, the enlightened adept seeks to deliver sentient beings, so he inhales the filthy energy of beings and suffers for them. He in turn exhales the breath of light to be absorbed by sentient beings. The Tibetans feel that anyone who breathes in even a little of the breath exhaled by a great yogi of Tantrayana will benefit from it, as the breath of the adept can eliminate karmic hindrances and heal sickness.
The syllable HUM does not necessarily represent filthy energy. It is symbolic of the blue sky, symbolizing the power of the manifested bodies of buddhas and bodhisattvas. The syllable HUM can even be considered as the manifested bodies of Sakyamuni Buddha and all other buddhas and bodhisattvas. It is considered to be the spiritual power that vibrates the world. OM is white coloured light, AH is red coloured light, and HUM is blue coloured light. During breathing, we need to visualize the seed syllables in detail. I want to state that OM is the pure clear light, Ah is the psychic heat, and Hum is the spiritual power.
The chi of white pure light is inhaled gently through the nose until it fills the lungs, blood, fluid and Dan-tian [an area four inches below the navel] and eventually the whole body. Some practitioners may practise the yoga of visualizing the inhaling breath and the Dan-tian contained as in a vase. To do this, hold your breath temporarily within your body for as long as you can. Then exhale gradually through the nose. This approach of combining the use of mantra and breath is known as Mahamudra.
The combination of mantra, thought and breath is one of the greatest secret methods, and is regarded as a major cosmic secret. While it is true that our discursive thoughts are powerful, as long as we can maintain our practice using mantra, thought and breath, our discursive thoughts will naturally become still. Our mind will naturally correspond to the realm of Suchness. These three elements of mantra, thought and breath blend and work together.
Someone once asked me how should I count a standard single breathing cycle? This is how I count: - As I inhale, I count six beats and then hold for two beats. As I exhale, I count six beats and then pause for two beats. The Tibetan lamas consider that there are approximately twenty one thousand and six hundred breathing cycles per twenty four hour cycle. This works out to be nine hundred breathing cycles per hour, or fifteen breathing cycles per minute. This is what the lamas consider to be the standard number of breathing cycles in a day.
The veil of the Mahamudra is gradually lifted as my writing progresses to this stage. I, the Holy Red Crown Vajra Guru Sheng-yen Lu, Lian Sheng, am not the kind of person who makes empty promises. I am a true practitioner who speaks honestly, and a master who has gained realization. I have attained yogic response and I am a buddha. I can become one with the supreme cosmic consciousness in an instant, and receive the blessings of supreme and wonderful treasures of adornment upon my being. I am one with all the past lineage holders.
CHAPTER 10 - The Techniques of Mahamudra
Besides entering into meditative absorption daily, my cultivation at the True Buddha School in Seattle, USA also includes the practice of Mahamudra techniques. These techniques, known as Asanas, are essential. What are the techniques of Mahamudra? These techniques compliment meditation. Each of the seven chakras is a plexus of nerves, which are the meridians. As we direct the winds into the meridians, we must release the knots in the meridians.
A practitioner of Mahamudra whose increase in spiritual strength is accompanied by a weakening of his physical body is really out of balance. Exercising with these techniques contributes to the development of balance in the body, mind and spirit. The meditative absorption of Mahamudra and the physical techniques of Mahamudra compliment each other.
The 16th Gyalwa Karmapa taught me the vajra techniques of Great Performance Bliss. I learned many more of these techniques from other yogis as well. Thus the vajra techniques revealed here are rather eclectic. I want to teach you a few simple techniques that can be done easily. While they may appear simple and easy, they are nevertheless significant. The student must first pay homage to the guru and lineage holders to show respect.
- 1) The Lifeforce Technique (Translators note
- Resembles the Forward Bend Posture or the Paschimothanasana)]
From a lying position, with your arms straight out behind you, inhale slowly and lift your upper body slowly from your waist. Then continue to bend forward, lowering your upper body as far as you can and grasp your toes with your fingers. Hold your breath for three to eight seconds before releasing it. Bend backwards until you are lying flat on your back. Repeat this sequence eight times.
This technique resembles the exercise of a sit up, but differs slightly. One may visualize white light while inhaling, blue light while exhaling, and red light while holding the breath. The breathing should be gradual and full. The body should bend and extend from the waist from as low a point as possible, ideally resting the chest on the thighs.
- 2. The Loosening Technique
Seated in the cross-legged full lotus position, with the hands clasped into a fist and held closely at the waist, turn the upper body from right to left and from left to right as one sequence. Repeat this five times. This turning of body helps to loosen the knots around the navel chakra, which helps to clear the knots and eliminate any problems in the navel area.
- 3. The Inverted Technique (Translators note
- Resembles the Supported Shoulder Stand or Salamba-Sarvangasana]
This is an inverted pose. The novice may learn it by supporting himself against a wall. This inverted pose requires the head, neck and shoulder areas to press on the floor, with the hands placed on the spine to support the back, while keeping the elbows in and resting on the floor. The body beyond the shoulder forms a straight line. Tuck your chin against your chest and keep your legs together, focusing your attention on the tips of your feet.
Keep your body still. Hold the pose for about 2 to 5 minutes. Repeat three times.
This inverted technique serves to fill the body with air. After completing this technique, rotate your neck several times either clockwise or counter-clockwise to release the knots around the throat chakra. This posture can eliminate all the problems around the throat chakra.
- 4. The Slapping Technique
This technique requires one to sit cross-legged. Extend your hands and rub your palms to produce heat. Lift your right arm straight up to expose the armpit. Slap your right armpit 3 times with your left palm.
Repeat this with your left arm extending straight up, and slap the left armpit 3 times with your right palm.
Following this, massage your left and right shoulders respectively by rubbing them with your hands. You can combine the techniques of rubbing and slapping. You can even slap your chest area. By slapping from your shoulders down to your legs and feet, including your toes, you are literally giving your body a full slapping massage.
This approach is one of the best ways to loosen the heart chakra and the meridians in the armpit area. Usually, it is difficult for the chi or winds to circulate through the meridians at the armpit; this is a dead end in the practice of Mahamudra. It is just as difficult for the chi to reach the tip of the toes. This is made possible with the force of the slapping technique. This is vital. This technique can cure any problems arising around the heart and chest area.
I would like to elucidate on this further: The Awakening of Spirit exercise of the Golden Mother of Jade Pond, if performed in full consciousness with good control of timing, is no different from the Slapping Technique mentioned here. By applying the force of slapping, one releases all the knots in the meridians and helps to improve the health of the body. The Awakening of Spirit exercise includes both the techniques of slapping and rotating and twisting the body. It is an exercise that involves the application of techniques to cure the illnesses of the body by clearing the knots in the meridians and helping circulate the chi within them.
This technique involves sitting in a kneeling position. However, the body does not rest on the legs, but the buttocks is seated on the floor between the left and right legs, which are parted and bent backwards, so that the body and the tips of the toes form a ninety degree angle. This applies to both legs. The palms are stretched to touch the kneecaps. This sitting position basically turns the kneecaps. The thighs are kept together, with the left thigh touching the left calf, and the right thigh touching the right calf.
Hold this sitting pose for 30 seconds at a time, and repeat it 4 times. This Light Technique unlocks the knots in the meridians of the knees, and these meridians are among the most difficult to clear. When the knots are released, any problems of the lower body shall be removed.
- 5. The Shaking Technique
Many yogi masters often support the physical body with their hands and then let go and let their whole body hit the floor. This sudden throwing of the body to impact the floor is said to help loosen the knots of the whole body. Other yogis sit firmly on their buttocks and kick their legs towards the sky, shaking them after kicking. This serves to loosen the knots in the lower body. Some yogis instruct others to perform rope skipping for 10 to 30 minutes daily. This is applying the method of trembling, which is intended for the loosening of the knots.
The Buddha Prostration Technique may appear simple, yet it is far from being simple. The technique can heal one from sickness, and also clear the knots in the meridians. Besides, it involves making prostration to the Buddha. This technique sure cuts both ways!
The method is as follows: First kneel down so that your buttocks rest on the soles of your feet. Hold your palms together. Inhale and raise your arms upwards towards the sky so your arms touch your ears. Then prostrate by bending your body forward, with your chest touching your thighs as closely as possible. Stretch your arms forwards and ideally touch your forehead and nose to the floor. At this stage it is important to breathe out all the air in your lungs. Hold yourself in prostration for 8 seconds before inhaling a fresh breath, and then lift your trunk upwards and repeat the initial sequence. The Buddha Prostration Technique should be performed 9 times in every session. Perhaps the more the merrier.
To open all the chakras of the body with the practice of Mahamudra involves pith instructions and techniques. Every clearing of a chakra produces great bliss, and leads one to recognize the verification of attaining the inherent great wisdom. With the opening of the seven chakras, one naturally enters into Samadhi.
The psychic heat circulates within the charkas, which gives rise to unmatched vibration. This psychic heat permeates the whole body, rendering it in flames, reaching the level in which every outward breath could fill the space of the universe. He who attains this level of accomplishment naturally finds a protrusion on the top of his crown like those seen in buddhas and bodhisattvas. At this stage, the individual has attained the great vajra body and knows what it is like to truly be in the supreme victorious realm of attainment. As I pen these words, I cannot help but sigh over the ignorance of sentient beings who are oblivious to cultivation, and are thus completely unaware of the greatness of accomplishment attained through the practice of Mahamudra!
CHAPTER 11 - The Dual Functioning of Tranquility and Contemplation
This approach of tranquility and insight serves to calm and eliminate discursive thoughts, thereby achieving the stage where one gains wisdom through contemplating that all things are empty, or that all things are unreal and temporary, or that all things are of the Middle Way.
The Ten Contemplations or Views are the contemplations of affliction, the netherworld, the karmic signs, illness, meditative absorption, mara interference, extreme arrogance, various views, the bodhisattva, and the two vehicles. The dual functioning of tranquility and contemplation is also the dual functioning of concentration and wisdom.
At the northwest corner of Seattle is Carkeek Park which sits beside the Pacific Ocean. I love to listen to the sound of the ocean. Staring at the ocean blue water swaying like a gigantic bed, I find the blue of the sky meets the blue of the ocean. I really like this magical world where its water forever moves and rolls, constantly being the same in nature, and constantly renewing itself. How much do we as humans know about the ocean? Who is able to understand it?
The sound of the ocean comes to me as a thunderous roar. I feel that it is not just the ocean making its noise, but more like the sound of life itself. At times, the sound is soft, resembling that of a tender hand. Other times, it seems to let out a laugh of mockery, scorning the foolishness of men. Sometimes, the ocean sound appears furious, sounding like the galloping of thousands of horses. At times, it sounds like a longing, a kind of murmur, consuming itself in an immeasurable wound. The ocean is indeed a great cosmos, expressing itself in infinite forms, while being endowed with endless causes and effects, endless thoughts, and endless sounds.
I like to look at the ocean and listen to its roar, to think and contemplate upon it, for the ocean holds the waters from all rivers in one place, summing up all the emotions as one single body. The rivers are always flowing past swiftly, unlike the ocean, which collects all their thoughts, pains, desperation, reliance, wounds and many desires.
In the quiescence of my meditation, I realized the ocean is reciting mantras. The sound of the rolling waves signifies the pinnacle of all mantras, for the ocean is repeatedly chanting the syllable OM, OM, OM, which supercedes all other mantra sounds. The ocean is one with all things, and I am merged with the ocean. Everything in the universe is merged as one combined body of life, which exists in perfect harmony.
I have realized what is tranquility and what is contemplation. My heart is merged with the ocean, just as all my books live in me at the same time, changing ceaselessly in endless permutations of manifestation. This is how the ocean rests, flows and reemerges. What is the true reality of my being? It is the nirvana of the Buddha, a holy presence which experiences and contemplates, that combines all that is divine.
I have come to understand everything, for the ocean has given the very wisdom to carry out wondrous things. If the readers can truly understand what this language of the ocean means, they will have reached the maturity of being able to understand the heart teachings of the dual functioning of tranquility and contemplation.
- 1. The instant cutting of thoughts.
- 2. Letting the stream of thoughts run wild without attempting to stop it.
- 3. Letting the mind reside beside the thoughts, watching them pass like a flowing stream of water.
In our meditative absorption, we must first cut our thoughts so that we are not subjected to the interference of discursive thoughts. When a single thought arises, we must cut it away at once. This is the first key to practising meditative absorption. This is the first stage of the cutting of thoughts.
However, those in meditation soon realize that it is fruitless to attempt to eliminate thoughts, for try as one may to avoid thinking, ones thoughts simply keep arising and flowing like a continuously rolling river of water. When one comes to this stage, it is best to simply let the thoughts flow at will without attempting to stop them. This constitutes the second stage.
Upon arriving at the third stage, the Mahamudra practitioner, while in meditative absorption, must visualize his thoughts as a flowing river. The practitioner sits beside the river and allows his thoughts to flow past. While the thoughts flow ceaselessly, he observes in stillness without being affected by the thoughts. When the Mahamudra practitioner manages to depart from his thoughts and become an observer of the thought stream, his mind finds self mastery and reaches the realm of true reality.
The meditative Mahamudra heart teachings train the individual to continuously abide in the quiescence of the third spiritual stage. It is a world of complete purity free from worries, for one is unaffected by the influence of wandering thoughts. The sage who arrives at this spiritual state of Mahamudra finds his mind abiding in an unchanging spiritual realm. And regardless of changes in the environment, he is able to perform the dual functions of tranquility and contemplation, through which he attains realization and maintains his state of nirvana.
According to my experience:
The third spiritual stage is being in balance, where one ceases from thinking at times, and contemplates at times. This is the dual functioning of tranquility and contemplation, where the interchange of tightening and loosening is the dual functioning of concentration and wisdom. To separate the mind from thoughts is in important key, for one will make substantial spiritual advancement if one trains the mind this way.
I have personally studied the concepts of the Tien Tai School, whose teachings of the Three Contemplations (or Three Views) are known by many names. Some called them the Perfect Three Contemplations, while others called them the Incomprehensible Three Contemplations. Yet there are some who referred to them as the Non-Procedure Three Contemplations. The Three Contemplations are: Contemplation on Emptiness to eliminate delusions arising from incorrect views and thoughts, through which one attains prajna or wisdom. Contemplation on the temporary nature of all phenonmena (unreality) to eliminate the numerous delusions that hinder knowledge, through which one attains the wisdom of types of paths and gains liberation. Contemplation on the Middle Way, which eliminates delusions arising from ignorance, through which one attains the all-inclusive wisdom and gains the virtues of the Dharmakaya. The three contemplations can be defined respectively as the Three Contemplations of Tian Tai School (Tendai Sect), the Three Contemplations of the Hua Yen or Avatamsaka School, the Three Contemplations of the Southern Mountain, and the Three Contemplations of Compassion and Gratitude (pronounced as Ci-en). Whether it is through the wisdom of omniscience which understands the principle of emptiness, the wisdom of types of paths which understands unreality, or the all-inclusive wisdom which understands the Middle Way, eventually all three wisdoms will appear simultaneously, and present themselves as one reality that validates Emptiness, Unreality, and the Middle Way.
The dual functioning of tranquility and contemplation is a primary heart teaching of Tantrayana. It is also the quintessence of the Yoga practice of India. Master Hui-wen of the northern chi period (550-577AD) learned the practice and taught it to Master Hui-si, who transmitted it to Master Chih-I, at which time the teachings flourished. The Tien Tai School thus became the Singular Round Teaching of Contemplation, where the practice of tranquility and contemplation was first established [in China).
Master Chih-I merged the principles of Emptiness, Unreality and the Middle Way into one mind, and thus eliminated the delusions arising from incorrect views and thoughts, the numerous delusions which hinder knowledge, and the delusions of ignorance. Through this one mind arises the wisdom of omniscience (wisdom of the sravaka and pratyeka-buddha), the wisdom of types of paths [the wisdom of the bodhisattva), and the all-inclusive wisdom [the wisdom of the Buddha). And it is in this same one mind that the virtues of prajna, liberation and dharmakaya are achieved. This requires one to contemplate on emptiness and unreality, through which is revealed the meaning of the Middle Way.
The philosophy of the Tien Tai School evolved from a system of thought based on the Prajna Sutra, and many views are presented as linguistic display. My personal view is that the teaching is presented as a form of knowledge that is not readily understood or accepted by most people, and does not produce the intended effect of mass deliverance of sentient beings, as readers find it difficult to digest the knowledge. I feel deeply that although this teaching may rank as the highest supreme truth, those without actual experience will not be able to attain it.
Today, my article on the dual functioning of tranquility and contemplation is written in a way that is clear and comprehensive. Whether the approach is philosophical or based on experience, the knowledge is made easily accessible to all. Master Chih-I's exposition of the dharma was inconceivable, and my elucidation [of his dharma) is likewise inconceivable.
CHAPTER 12 - The Spiritual State of Supreme Bliss
Among the practices of Tantric Buddhism is the consort practice. There are indeed numerous buddha statues in Tantric Buddhism which are seen in the Yab Yum posture, where the father and mother buddhas are locked in embrace. The common folk call them `the buddhas of pleasures`.
What is happening here? Outsiders are unable to understand it, and neither can those who practice Tantrayana. The statues of the buddhas of pleasures have passed through the years and have always caused people doubt. I have discussed the subject of consort practice in my previous books, and since I am touching on the spiritual state of the supreme bliss of Mahamudra, I have no choice but to reveal the secrets of these Yab Yum buddha statues.
He is a Brahmin god who was once a scheming evil being. Later, Kuan Yin Bodhisattva intended to deliver him and, in her great compassion, manifested as a most beautiful woman to look him up. Upon seeing this beauty, the Lord of Pleasure was sexually aroused and wanted to touch the woman and experience sexual union with her. However, at first Kuan Yin Bodhisattva refused and told the Lord of Pleasure that if he had wanted to marry her, he must take refuge in Buddhism, receive the Buddhist teaching and protect it. As the Lord of Pleasure wanted to make the beauty his wife, he agreed to protect the buddhadharma. The beauty then smiled and embraced the lord.
Thus, the image of the Lord of Pleasure is always presented as a Yab Yum buddha statue. The Chapter of The Deva Form of the Lord of Pleasure, the Yab Yum Vinayaka states, `The Yab Yum image of the lord has a white flesh tone and is dressed in a red coloured robe. The couple, in standing position, is locked in embrace. The statue may either be seven or five inches high, with both figures appearing with the head of an elephant and a human body. The male form looks over the right shoulder of the female consort and looks at her back, while the female consort leans over the right shoulder of the male figure and looks at his back. The female consorts leg is exposed; her arms and legs are tender, like a plump proper lady. The male figures head is adorned with flowers, and he wears a red coloured robe. The head of the female consort is decorated with flowers, and she wears a robe. Her arms and legs are adorned with pearls and jade bracelets, and her feet step onto the toes of the male. They embrace each other, with their arms wrapped around their waists over to the backs of their right upper arms.`
This statue of union is recorded in the Buddhist Canon. As to the reasons why many buddhas, bodhisattvas, and vajrarajas in Tantrayana are also seen in Yab Yum images, I shall elucidate on this as follows:
When the drops and inner fire from the Yoga of Psychic Heat (Tummo) pass through the seven nerve plexuses, or chakras, a wonderful bliss is produced. This bliss cannot be expressed in words, and it makes one feel very comfortable, as if one is afloat, just like ascending on a cloud as an immortal. The simplest descriptions would be Becoming a Buddha and an Immortal, The Great Calm and Joyous Absorption, or A Spiritual State of Supreme Bliss. However, this unexcelled state of bliss is absolutely beyond description. Therefore some may think such bliss to be similar to the comfort and ease experienced at the climax reached by a couple in sexual union. To maintain and perpetuate this joy and illustrate the pinnacle state of supreme bliss, Buddha of Pleasure statues have been developed. These statues symbolize the meditative absorption of great bliss.
Therefore, Buddha of Pleasure statues are just symbolizing the spiritual state of supreme bliss, for such bliss is beyond description and cannot be appropriately expressed by any imagery. Eventually, the state of bliss came to be symbolized by the union of man and woman. Among the buddha statues in Tantric Buddhism, the Yab Yum buddha statues are meant to express the contentment of realization upon entering the state of supreme bliss.
Yet many people, including some Tantric practitioners, have assumed that there is a meditative practice for gaining realization by means of sexual union. Some lamas in fact found some beautiful women and embraced them in meditation. Nothing would have gone wrong if they had not performed the consort practice. But if the consort practice is carried to completion, the lamas eventually end up in hell for indulging in licentiousness. Everyone is affected by lust and craves the joy of physical pleasure. However, when a cultivator falls to this level of evil in his practice, it is a straight road to hell to meet the great celestial mara (devil).
Is there consort practice in Tantric Buddhism? My answer is yes. However, this does not refer to a couple meditating while in sexual embrace. If you practise in the fashion of the Buddhas of Pleasure, you commit a grave error. I am an enlightened adept, and I know that consort practice does not refer to a method of practice that requires the union of man and woman. Within us lies yin and yang, and it is evident that my being is endowed with both masculine and feminine qualities, as well as the properties of water and fire.
Therefore, the Buddha Statue of Pleasure symbolizes the union of yin and yang within ourselves. Attaining the spiritual state of supreme bliss through the embrace of the male and female and the merging of water and fire does not refer to the actual physical union of a couple, but points to the formless embrace of the male and female principles within. I hope this explanation helps the readers to gain a clear picture of this matter.
I want to share with you that when a diligently practising cultivator ignites the psychic heat in the Root Chakra, this heat will rise through the Sacred Chakra, the Navel Chakra, the Heart Chakra, the Throat Chakra, and the Brow Chakra, and will eventually reach the Crown Chakra. In contemplation, the psychic heat represents fire, symbolizing the masculine principle or yang nature. The Crown Chakra holds the bodhicitta moon nectar or white bodhicitta, which represents water, the yin principle. The rising of the psychic heat is called the holy cognition of the yang polarity. The white bodhicitta is the supreme wisdom of the yin polarity. When the white bodhicitta trickles downwards and the psychic heat travels upwards, they merge within each respective chakra. As a result, this produces a great bliss experienced within the spiritual state of supreme bliss. However, this state can be tainted with the great physical pleasure experienced in the sexual union of male and female.
The true consort practice is the harmonizing of the yin and yang principles within, the embrace of the masculine and feminine nature, and the blending of water and fire. One can gain attainment within ones own body without having to resort to finding an actual female partner. Similarly, the Taoist practice involving the Male Kan and Female Li is not an occurrence involving a physical couple, but points to the masculine and feminine principles within oneself. However, many people in this world are led astray by the consort practice. The Taoist approach of harvesting and supplementing energy [from the opposite sex] is evil and absurd, and is an absolute abuse of Taoist practice. Some Tantric practitioners were unaware that the consort practice was about ones own masculine and feminine principles, and engaged in sexual acts according to the Buddha Statues of Pleasure. They were unaware that the Buddha Statues of Pleasure merely symbolize the merging of the psychic heat and white bodhicitta. Good heavens! Those who are aware of this fact are indeed few and far between.
The bliss as attained in the spiritual state of supreme bliss is a far cry from the bliss of physical pleasure, for supreme spiritual bliss is a joy unmatched by any other pleasure. Hence its name, the spiritual state of supreme bliss. Human beings long for happiness. Some obtain it through the gathering of wealth, whereas others seek power. There are individuals who desire to rule the world, while others pursue the joy gained through their physical organs. However, the joys gained from wealth, power, and physical enjoyment are but short lived. Take the joy of physical pleasure for example. This is a reflection of our animal instinct, and such a form of joy, derived from wining and dining and the desire for physical touch, is very limited. This limited joy of man is thus controlled by the animal instinct.
However, the spiritual state of supreme bliss attained through the practice of Mahamudra derives from the merging of the psychic heat and white bodhicitta drip. This is the bliss obtained through entering into samadhi, in which the self nature is completely merged with the eternal bliss of the great universe. This of itself is the true and genuine infinite joy.
Let me say that all worldly things are finite and limited. Our lives are never eternal, and neither is the earth. The pursuit of physical pleasure, wealth, and power brings only temporal joy. Those practitioners who have experienced the spiritual state of supreme bliss can testify to this, for they realize that only the supreme consciousness of the universe is eternal and infinite, and only those who partake in this journey of cultivation are true masters, true gurus, and are always spiritually supreme.
Once the psychic heat has risen, how does one make the white bodhicitta drip downwards? The practitioner must first practise the Yoga of Inner Fire or Psychic Heat (Tummo) and skillfully perform full breathing along with the Mahamudra techniques. At this stage, one visualizes the psychic heat that arises from the seed syllable AH reaching the Crown Chakra and melting the white bodhicitta with the HAM syllable so that it liquefies and drips downwards. As the white bodhicitta drippings meet the psychic heat at each of the chakras, they merge and fill the chakras, producing the spiritual state of supreme bliss.
No worldly pleasure is able to express the bliss experienced in this state, which can be described as the greatest and most wonderful joy. The spirit and mind thus abide in the spontaneous state of Voidness, which is pure divine radiance and joy. In principal, such bliss can be described by these four words, great, uplifting, wonderful, and divine.
When the practitioner of Mahamudra arrives at the spiritual state of supreme bliss in his cultivation, he is almost completely cleansed of any worldly expression of sadness or happiness. He naturally comes to realize that all things are illusory, and completely realizes the indivisibility of form and emptiness. The entanglements that hold most people are released upon reaching this spiritual state. All is open and clear, and one knows the great joy that stems from good and pure karma.
CHAPTER 13 - The Spiritual State of Immovability
While in the spiritual state of supreme bliss, the winds flow through the channel knots and the psychic heat rises, circulating within the physical body. At this stage, mind and matter are fused into a single entity, which gives rise to a sense of synchronization. One experiences the appearance of the true nature of mind, and the emerging presence of the divine spirit. Upon reaching this spiritual state, the Mahamudra practitioner has entered into the initial stage of samadhi.
When the Mahamudra practitioner attains this level of spiritual unfolding, his true mind is merged into the supreme cosmic consciousness and he enters into the deep state of meditation. The deep meditative state can be considered to be the meditation of the sages, which is far from the level of mundane beings. If one continues to gain spiritual responses, ones mind becomes completely fused with the universal mind. And as the practitioner continues his practice diligently, he becomes able to slip in and out of this spiritual state at will. As one dwells longer in this spiritual state, one becomes able to return to it at the time of death and gain release from the suffering of cyclic existence. One attains buddhahood in this very body, and is completely liberated.
When dwelling in the spiritual state of supreme bliss, hallucinations may appear when the psychic heat passes through the channel knots. Such hallucinations are associated with demonic states, and a mental disorder may arise at this point. Generally, one experiences a spiritual lightness as one abides in the state of supreme bliss, a sensation that is like being afloat in space. One finds oneself drifting into the ethereal, seeming to disappear completely. This is when hallucinations begin to surface. Some practitioners are entranced by these hallucinations, and preferences of desire and dislike arise from their minds. Their preferences draw them to attachment. Once attached to the hallucinations, they are caught in a demonic state. Thus, handling hallucinations is the most vital link in the whole practice.
Most teachings of the sutra tradition do not dare reveal this secret of psychic heat because of the fear that most mundane humans would fall into a demonic state if they reached the state of supreme bliss without first developing sufficient stamina of concentration. The teachings of the sutra tradition focus on instructing people to recite the Buddhas name. By riding on the power of the Buddha, for example Amitabha Buddha, one gains rebirth in the Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss and continues on from there. When the individual reaches Sukhavati and begins his practice of attaining buddhahood, he will not drift into the demonic mara states.
I first cultivated Taoism, then practiced the Sutric Buddhist teachings, and subsequently the Tantric Buddhist teachings. I have wanted to write this book on the Highest Yoga Tantra and Mahamudra. I have mastered the Eighteen Assemblies in the Vajrasekhara Yoga, and penetrated the Heart Teachings of the Five Groups of Empowerment of the Great Compassionate Womb Treasury, attaining the wonderful dharma of the Three Secrets. In my eyes, the natural capacities of sentient beings are indeed diverse and divided. Therefore I want to mention that anyone who obtains this book and desires to practice the vehicle of the Highest Yoga Tantra must first seek out and take refuge with a true master to receive the appropriate empowerment before commencing practice. A person should not practice without proper guidance from a qualified master. In Tibet, the requirements are stringent for selecting those who wish to practice Mahamudra. If an individual whose power of concentration (Samadhibala) is weak and whose spirit is unsettled should practice it out of curiosity, he would be bound to be trapped in a demonic mara state.
Many Tibetan lamas and Chinese Tantric practitioners avoid practising Mahamudra simply because of the possibility that upon reaching the spiritual state of supreme bliss without the guidance of a guru, they might fall into the mara realm and lose all their accomplishments of cultivation. Therefore, without the additional detailed instructions from a vajra guru, even if you have this copy of the Highest Yoga Tantra and Mahamudra, you cannot practice Mahamudra. Please commit this point to memory, and remember it well!
My reply is, I hope to inform you of this great teaching, which is supreme. Those with little affinity will browse through this book without interest. Those with affinity should quickly seek a true vajra guru and ask for transmission. My intention in writing this book on Highest Tantra Yoga is to preserve the teaching in this world. The individual who receives true transmission and pith instructions from a guru may practise it, and he shall likely gain great realization through his practice. If you practise Mahamudra superficially, without receiving proper transmission from a vajra master, it is easy to fall into the pitfalls of mara, so be careful!
My American disciples have wished to translate this book of Highest Yoga Tantra and Mahamudra into English so that these secrets and great teachings will always be preserved in the west. The future shall see individuals with great capacities incarnating in the west who will, upon encountering this book, propagate the Tantric teachings in the west. This is the greatest cause and condition for my writing this book.
The most challenging test facing anyone reaching the spiritual state of supreme bliss is sexual desire. The seed of sexual desire is inborn, and is derived from the genes of our parents. Anyone without actual cultivation is subject to the influence of sexual desire. Due to the effect of psychic heat, a practitioner is bound to see the beautiful women that he dreams about in his daily life appear before him in great shape, seducing his heart with all kinds of seductive poses in full nudity, striking different sensuous dance postures and movements.
It is rare to find a practitioner who is unaffected by these visions. Once he is attracted to them, he is drawn into sexual fantasies. Anyone whose heart is distracted in this state is doomed to fall from grace.
The female practitioner may encounter a handsome man who is manifested from her mind, and engage him in sex. She would enjoy the great sexual pleasure derived from the union and find herself in heat. It is at this stage that she enters into the demonic mara realm.
Some assume they are strong enough to withstand any sexual temptation. This assumption is due largely to the absence of any temptation in the first place. Confucius described men and women on earth as men and women of dining and wining, and he added that food and sex are human nature. There is truth in this, and I feel that unless one is truly grounded in actual practise, no one can escape the temptation of sexual desire. There is certainly no exception.
When an individual whose mind contains any fear, even in the minutest degree, reaches the spiritual state of supreme bliss, he will find this fear manifesting in his mind as a fearsome being. This fearsome being, a great deva mara with a single horn, stands several stories tall and stares angrily at the individual with eyes as big as a bronze bell. He roars and extends his huge tongue; his mouth opens to reveal jaws with razor-sharp, knife-like teeth. Sometimes a single devil appears, and at times a legion of maras numbering tens of thousands approaches the practitioner, stirring great fear within his heart so as to keep him from entering into meditative absorption. Even as he enters into meditation, he finds visions of mara appearing before him. As a result, he can no longer eat and sleep properly, and his mind simply breaks down. This is the condition of falling into mara psychic traps that arise from fear. Such occurrences are many indeed.
In these illusory visions, many events of joy and sadness will manifest themselves, such as witnessing the death of your loved ones and seeing the punishments of hell. Or you may see your spouse dump you for another person, and so forth. These are examples of sad occurrences. On the other hand, joyful occurrences are just as plentiful, including visions such as seeing yourself becoming a king or transformed into Sakyamuni Buddha Himself, or perhaps finding yourself becoming the richest man on earth, or seeing someone you love most decide to throw herself into your arms, and so forth.
There was a Tantric guru who saw a vision of himself after death during his deep meditation. He observed that two strings of red pearls were hanging from his nostrils, and that five rainbows appeared in the sky, each appearing in five colours. His corpse emitted rays of red and orange lights, and his body of bones displayed multiple colours, with his heart remaining intact and undestroyed, forming a heart relic. He left huge amounts of other relics, including five to six hundred sariras, which could fill a big sack. He saw how his disciples were overwhelmed with joy at the sight of his many relics, cheering in elation over them.
After this experience, this Tantric guru desired to review the whole illusory vision every time he entered into meditation, and this vision fulfilled his vanity. Once this desire was aroused, he found himself experiencing the vision of his own cremation during every meditative session. When he finally realized something was wrong, it was too late, as the vision could no longer be removed. It was pitiful.
Another Tantric practitioner who followed a disciple of the famous Atisa learned to merge with his inner mandala. In the past, his guru had studied dharma at the Monastery of Toling. This practitioner himself had practised The Great Perfection: Illusion, the Easer of Weariness Called the Great Chariot, and also cultivated The Great Perfection: Great Quintessence of the Graduated Stages of the Path. Once this Tantric practitioner entered into deep meditation and saw a beautiful lady approaching him.
Who are you, pretty face? the Tantric practitioner asked. I am a Tibetan Princess. Why are you here? the Tantric practitioner asked. I am here to continue our past affinity. The beautiful lady pointed to another dimension as she spoke.
A vision appeared in another dimension, which showed that the Tantric practitioner had been a senior lama of the Nyingma School, and had practised the consort practice. His consort was none other than the Tibetan princess herself. They proceeded from the initial stages to the deeper levels, moving deeper into the wonderful stages and finally into the mystical level. He lost his righteous thoughts of enlightenment and was manipulated by his desire, with his thoughts running wild. He could not see through the illusion and realize that the lady from his past life was only a skeleton. Thus, when the beautiful lady threw her arms around him, he let his guard down and embraced her in sexual union. This Tantric practitioner became entrapped in the mara realm of consort practice in his deep meditation, and was mesmerized by her illusory beauty. He has not been able to extract himself from his delusion ever since.
The beautiful lady would engage in sex with him whenever he entered into meditation. Initially he felt there was nothing wrong with that. However, it was only much later that he realized the vision was nothing more than the manifestation of the three poisons, the five dusts, and the six thieves. The Tantric practitioner had lost the aura of light gained from his Dzogchen practice, as all his radiance had been transformed into thoughts of love and hatred. When the beauty failed to show up, he suffered immensely. Subsequently, the Tantric practitioner could no longer continue with his practice, for once his righteous thoughts were lost, he lost all that he had achieved in his cultivation, and he was reduced to being no better, if not worse, than a mundane mortal. What a pity!
Here is a verse I wrote in regards to this incident:
There was another Tantric practitioner who studied the Tantric teachings with a lay Buddhist known as Da-xin (Great Mind). He professed to practise the Mahamudra practices as transmitted by Tilopa and Naropa, and had obtained the quintessence of Gampopa, and practised the Heart Essence of the Most Supreme Light of the Nine Vehicles. He had entered into the dark retreat for two years, and claimed to have attained supernatural powers.
Once, while abiding in a state of profound meditation, he saw himself transformed into a being with a golden body who was endowed with the thirty two marks of a buddha radiating lights. In his vision, he was seated on a white lotus and was expounding the dharma to sentient beings. His left hand grasped the edge of his dharma robe while his right hand was raised; his thumb and fourth finger joined to form a mudra.
These thirty-two marks are described in the Yogacarabhumisastra as:
- 1) feet that are firmly planted on the earth with balance
- 2) the symbol of a thousand-spoked wheel imprinted on the soles
- 3) long, slender fingers
- 4) flexible limbs
- 5) webbed fingers and toes
- 6) full-sized heels
- 7) long legs
- 8) slender legs like those of an antelope
- 9) arms extending past the knees
- 10) a concealed male organ
- 11) height and stretch of arms equal
- 12) every hair blue-black in colour
- 13) body hair curls upward
- 14) a golden hued body
- 15) surrounded by a ten-foot aura
- 16) soft, smooth skin
- 17) soles, palms, shoulders and crown of head well-rounded
- 18) the area below the armpits well-filled
- 19) a dignified body like that of a lion
- 20) body erect and upright
- 21) full, round shoulders
- 22) forty teeth
- 23) teeth are white and grow evenly, and no gap is found between teeth
- 24) four pure white teeth
- 25) full cheeks which are round like those of a lion
- 26) saliva that improves the taste of all food
- 27) the tongue long and broad
- 28) a deep and resonant voice
- 29) eyes deep blue
- 30) eyelashes like a royal bull
- 31) white urna curl that emits light between the brows
- 32) fleshy protuberance on the crown of the head
Sakyamuni Buddha, as depicted in the two mandala realms of Tantric Buddhism, is seen as the main deity in the Womb Mandala, and stands side by side with the Amoghasiddhi Tathagata in the Diamond Mandala. Sakyamuni Buddha, according to general Buddhist teachings, is an enlightened being who truly attained buddhahood in the saha world. Hence he is seen as the spiritual head of the saha world.
This Tantric practitioner who had taken refuge with the lay Buddhist Da-xin to study the Tantric teachings was immediately filled with joy. Someone even saw that his crown was emitting light and his spiritual attainment was verified by some Tibetan tulkus and lamas.
After receiving his verification, the Tantric practitioner felt that he was truly the incarnation of Sakyamuni Buddha, and whenever he entered into absorption, he desired to review his dharma form from his previous incarnation. Even Sages who lived in Sakyamunis times, such as Bhargava, Arada Kalama, Ksantyrsi and Utpala, appeared in his meditation and exchanged views with him on cultivation practices.
He felt he had experienced the forty-nine years which Sakyamuni spent expounding the dharma. Later, a guru observed that he appeared strange, and realized the Tantric practitioner had taken on an air of superiority and had fallen prey to the manifested mara realm. This was indeed a terrible thing, as the Tantric practitioner still insisted that he was Sakyamuni Buddha at his death bed, and was unaware of his true situation. In reality, he was kept in a mental hospital for seven years as a consequence of his delusion.
The teachings of Mahamudra state that when one reaches this spiritual state, one must act as if one is a child looking at the paintings in an art exhibition, studying each painting in detail from the first to the last, yet unaware of what the painting is all about. What this means is that the illusory visions will definitely appear, yet we should not be mesmerized by them. While it is true that all kinds of illusory visions exist, we should ignore them and act as if they are not around.
As one abides in the mental state of calmness and extinction, the subconscious surfaces and visions appear spontaneously, arising from past karma and from our thoughts of this present life. The practitioner must learn to remain unmoved by any circumstance, which is to abide in a state of immovability. One should not be attached to any emotion that touches the body or mind, for attachment only leads to being trapped in the mara realm. One should thus approach these visions like a child looking at a painting without attachment. However, the realization one gains at this stage cannot be construed as the actual state of enlightenment, for one must maintain unmoved at all times, and continue meditation diligently until completely aligned in the practice of Mahamudra, where one becomes one with it without falling into delusion. Only then can a practitioner be considered as having reached the spiritual state of true attainment.
The teaching of Mahamudra leads one to the understanding of right and wrong, mortality and purity. As the mind is removed from illusion, and one realizes ones original nature, one abides in the spiritual state of immovability, and sees through all illusions with the most wonderful perception. The practitioner then gains the Wisdom of Perception, and realizes that One Reality encompasses all realities, and that all things are but one singular reality. Thus, all dharma is but one truth, and when the practitioner gains this realization, he is enlightened.
Thus, the illusory visions are seen as movement, as any observation is itself a form of movement. Still, the untainted childlike heart remains tranquil. Thus, movement and tranquility lie within these experiences. When one remains unperturbed, this points to the immovability of the mind and illustrates the undistracted state of self nature. In truth, we may continue to experience illusory visions and engage in observations. The truth of the matter is really profound.
You see, when one steps into the realm of true reality, one finds that birth and death are really the same, just as nirvana and samsara are of one nature. All knowledge comes to zero, nothing, and nothingness is wisdom itself. The consciousness of words disappears. The state of all universes exists in non-form and non-essence, where form is emptiness and emptiness is form; where the heart teaching is the worldly teaching, and the worldly teaching is really the heart teaching. The animal species are seen as a division of the plant species, and so are the species of plants a division of the animal species. Here, meat is vegetable, and vegetable is meat. All combined matters when separated exist as two elements, and when mixed become one entity All things are in reality not different.
The supreme cosmic consciousness is ones own consciousness, and ones own mind is no different from anothers mind. The spectrum of life may display a multitude of permutations, yet in truth all things exist in oneness. For example, someone has made an analogy that within a lamp is oil, where the light is ignited. Heat is produced through the light, and when the oil is exhausted, so also are the light and the heat. When divided it becomes four separate parts, lamp, oil, light and heat. When combined, they form one singular entity.
An unrealized individual would see the light as light, heat as heat, oil as oil, and lamp as lamp. Yet the realized being naturally knows that when divided they are four elements, which are combined to form one singular reality. Thus, the supreme cosmic consciousness, oneself, others, good guys, bad guys and so forth are in seen in innumerable forms when separated, but when combined they form one singular body. This is the great realization gained as I, the Holy Red Crown Vajra Guru, abide in the spiritual state of immovability.
The mind and consciousness seen in an infinite display of forms paint a picture of the universe with all its subjects and phenomena. These forms are nothing but the projection of mind and consciousness.
I, Vajra Guru Sheng-yen Lu, have long abided in the spontaneous and natural state of mind, where nothing is a hindrance. I have risen above all matters, and remain unperturbed. I remain diligent without stop in my cultivation, yet the dharma nature within me remains unmoved, remaining unhindered and spontaneous. I am thus free to observe my life and death, and such is a display of great realization.
I have thus made my way through the posture of the seven points of Vairocana; through the Ekajata Meditation; through breath regulation and visualization; through igniting the psychic heat; through the practice of drops and inner fire; through being in the absorption of great calmness, through abiding in the spiritual state of immovability; through entering into Pure Uncontaminated Samadhi; through gaining the Wisdom of Perception. I have recognized the nature of all changing illusions, and realize the truth that good and bad people are subject to change and illusion. Thus, all things are changing and illusory.
Please do not be mistaken and think that what I have said is mystical and beyond comprehension, that I am simply playing with words of Zen, leading you to some form of Zen meditation and realization. If you are wise, you will know that my words of dharma are indeed true, for I am only trying to awaken the deluded ones so they may enter into the true spiritual state of immovability.
Many have studied the subject of dreams, and I once said that dreams arise from our thoughts. However, when we are dreaming, often we are unaware that we are actually in the dream state. When we are living in an environment that is not favourable to us, we produce all kinds of suffering dreams. Likewise, when we live in the comfort of a supportive environment, we tend to have sweet dreams. Ordinary folks have simple dreams, while others who are exposed to the impact of outer circumstances have dreams that express the different emotions like happiness, anger, sadness and joy. When humans are subjected to the stimulus of outer circumstances and understand these impacts, the corresponding emotions tend to be released in dreams.
The dream state is one of the activities of our body and mind, and though it is largely illusory, it nevertheless has its place in existence. Dreams are formed from the attraction of thoughts, which have a great influence on our cultivation. Seen from the point of view of cause and condition, a dream comes into existence as the respective condition arises, and can be considered to be a form of karmic causation.
As cause and condition are the result of the activity of hidden karmic forces, when all causes and conditions ripen, our dreams depict a multitude of infinite dream scenarios. Chaotic dreams can have a great impact on our lives and cultivation. Therefore, the practice of Mahamudra is not limited to cultivating during the waking hours, but includes cultivation during the dream state. This is done to ensure that our dreams remain proper, so that we can gain liberation.
My guru instructed me, The dream state is just like the phenomenon of cyclic existence, resembling the waves of the ocean, which are completely subject to the winds. Coming in wave after wave, dreams are like the cycles of cyclic existence. If we do not eradicate all of these causes and conditions, such as ignorance, lust and so forth, the wind and waves will never cease.
The Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa said, `Ordained monks who have not practiced the Mahamudra of Dream will find no antidote in dealing with dream states. I have not come across anyone who does not dream. If we do not find means to deal with our dreams, we are allowing the disorderly state of our dreams to develop and grow. This contributes to half of the spiritual illnesses in our lives, and results in grave consequences.`
I once said that it is easy to control our thoughts in the waking state, but during the night in our sleep, our thoughts tend to run wild and are not easily controlled. Many monks who appear holy in the daytime are deluded by topsy-turvy dreams at night where they turn lascivious and dissipate their vital essence through wet dreams. I am not poking fun at these monks, for this is a real issue. The reason I keep saying this is to motivate the monks to further themselves spiritually, to reach towards the higher truth instead of dwelling in the ill condition of the dream state where they wet themselves in the middle of the night, or find their beds soiled. It does not reflect well on a cultivator.
The first method: The technique of sleeping posture. When we sleep, we must lie on our right side so that the heart is on top. Avoid sleeping on the left side so that the heart is down and pressed against the bed. The sleeping posture resembles that of the lion when it sleeps. One can refer to the auspicious sleeping posture of the Buddha when he entered into Nirvana. However, unlike the hand position of the auspicious sleeping posture, we should use the right thumb and right ring finger and press them lightly over the vibratory veins of the throat. Next, we should place [any of] the fingers of our left hand lightly in front of our nostrils, but without pressing against the nostrils. During sleep, it is best to close our mouth without opening it, and avoid drooling. In fact, when we snore with our mouths open it is really a major problem. This sleeping posture must be given time to get used to. The reason the body is bent like a prawn is to guard over ones essence and spirit, while the right hand guards the nerve plexus over the throat and the left hand placed before the nostrils serves as a subtle reminder that we should not forget about breath regulation during sleep.
According to the guidance of my guru, the nerve plexus at the throat controls the region of dream reflexes, for dreams are greatly affected by the vibration of the throat. Thus, repeated practice of this sleeping posture, an auspicious position, is the key to guarding ones essence and spirit.
The second method: Pray for the blessing of the guru. Those who study and practice Mahamudra are usually guided by a guru. It is important to learn how to deal with our dream state during our waking hours, and align the mind with right thoughts. We must recognize that the realm of dream is illusory and unreal. We must develop our will power and perceive the true reality of dreams. Before entering into sleep, we apply the practice as transmitted by the guru by reciting OM BO RU LAN ZE LI (7 times) [(transliteration; in Sanskrit: Om Vajranjali)]. Then by flicking our fingers in space towards the four corners of the bed, we set a boundary, which prevents any Mara from entering.
Before one goes to sleep, one can silently pray for the blessings of the guru, and visualize ones guru and other lineage holders giving us their blessings. As we vow to cultivate and attain buddhahood and achieve control over our dreams so that we can remain focused and clear, our efforts spill over into our dream state to help us gain self control. All in all, those who practise this method develop a sense of vigilance that allows one to become immediately aware of being in a deluded dream state, recognize that it is only a dream that is unreal, and see through the illusion.
The third method: Visualization prior to sleep. When we go to bed, we sleep in the auspicious lions posture. Visualize yourself transformed into your principal deity resting in a sleeping posture. Recite the mantra of your principal deity 7 or 49 times using the vajra recitation approach. Following this, visualize your throat chakra emitting strong red coloured rays. This powerful red light radiates towards the ten directions of the universe, completely eliminating all illusory visions and manifestations.
This powerful red light also shines upon your body, and you see yourself glowing like the illuminated buddha body. This red light protects you while you sleep. Over time, the Tantric practitioner who frequently practises this method of visualization prior to sleep masters this visualization, which places him in a position where he can no longer be deluded by his dream state, so that he does not become confused and chaotic in his dream state, and does not lose his vital essence through wet dreams.
Why do we work with the throat chakra to emit red light for protection? This is because the vital spiritual essence (drops) at the throat chakra is the very power that is manifested during the dream state. Our breathing creates vibration, which in turn produces dreams. Thus, during our visualization prior to sleeping, we focus on the nerve plexus in the throat chakra. When we perform any visualization during the waking hours our attention should focus on the brow chakra.
In my earlier works I mentioned a practice method involving Amitabha Buddha that one can use while one is ill. The individual visualizes himself in the buddha realm of the Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss. He recites the heart mantra of Amitabha Buddha while lying in the auspicious posture. He should maintain his clarity of thought and achieve a level of control, allowing him to gain rebirth in Sukhavati. This is the practice method of the patient.
Actually, when one is skilled in practicing the visualization method prior to sleep, one may vow to seek rebirth in the Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss. During ones visualization, the throat chakra is most significant for its place as the pure and joyous buddhaland of Sukhavati. Prior to ones sleep, the red light emitted from the syllable AH (in the throat chakra) transforms into visions of Sukhavati, the Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss, where every adornment is displayed in clarity. If one can achieve such a detailed visualization, then one is bound to attain great accomplishments in the future, and will certainly gain rebirth in the Pureland.
Thus, Dream Mahamudra is an extension of the practice done during waking hours. It combines day and night into a single domain, thus achieving a contemplation in which all practices of the day and night remain consistent. Dream Mahamudra serves to achieve in dreams the continuity of the sacred purity of our spiritual state, so that it may not be broken by the dream state. Hence, whether it is day or night, there is no room for discursive thoughts to exist, and one abides in a state of purity. Therefore a singular state is maintained throughout day and night in which all illusory dreams are eliminated, penetrating into the reality of illusory dreams. One attains the Way and gains realization.
I would like to reveal a secret of my practice. Whenever I practice Dream Mahamudra, I visualize the presence of Bodhisattva Moonlight (Candraprabha in Sanskrit, or Gakko Bosatsu in Japanese), known also as the Holy Moonlight Bodhisattva. I visualize a full moon hanging in the sky, radiating pure untainted light. Its light, endowed with unique cooling properties, shines upon me, protecting me while I am asleep and removing all illusory dreams and delusions produced from desire. The form of Bodhisattva Moonlight is a youthful lad dressed in a yellow robe, seated on a red lotus throne, holding a stem of closed lotus in his right hand while his left hand holds the stem of a lotus flower with small leaves, with a half moon disc seated above it.
One literally sleeps in the realm of the Buddha, where one finds ones body expanding in size until it becomes space itself, where it is emptied of all things. Therefore, as it is emptiness itself, no dust can possibly land on ones body, for there is no body any dust can cling to in the first place.
CHAPTER 15 - Clear Light Mahamudra
I have been reciting a certain mantra secretly, which is the Dharani of the Great Protectress who is Universally Radiant, Pure, and Incandescent of the Invincible King of Mantras (Dharani of Mahapratisara-vidyarajni), more simply known as the Dharani of Mahapratisara, the Sanskrit name given to the great bodhisattva known as the Great Wish-Granting Bodhisattva. Mahapratisara Bodhisattva is one of the bodhisattvas stationed in the Lotus Division of the Womb Mandala.
The form of the bodhisattva is visualized with eight arms, with a body of a rich yellow colour. Her uppermost left hand holds a lotus, which supports a flaming golden wheel. Her second left hand holds a stack of palm-leaf scriptures, followed by a hand holding a banner, then a hand holding a noose. The uppermost right hand holds a five-pronged vajra, followed by hands holding a trident, a sword, and finally a battle axe.
Why is this being known as the Great Wish-Granting Bodhisattva? The reason is that this bodhisattva is known to grant the wishes of sentient beings as long as they enshrine her statue, chant her name and recite her secret mantra. Having done this, all wishes shall be fulfilled. Another name of this bodhisattva is Maha-Vidyaraja (Great Ruler of Light), which describes the great luminosity that follows her body.
The Tathagata Amoghasiddhi radiates an aura of magnificent green light born from a wind of absolute purity, while the realm of asuras emits a dark, greenish, ghostly light. There is a world of difference between the two.
The Tathagata Amitabha radiates an aura of magnificent red light born from absolute purity, while the realm of hungry ghosts contains many ghost beings emitting weak rays of red light. There is a world of difference between the two.
The Tathagata Ratnasambhava radiates an aura of magnificent yellow light born from wonderfully pure absolute wisdom, while the realm of human beings has many ghostly beings emitting a small light of yellow blended with a tint of blue. There is a world of difference between the two.
The Tathagata Aksobhya radiates an aura of magnificent white light born from absolute great mirror-like wisdom, while in the realm of hell there are many ghostly beings emitting a hazy, foggy white light. There is a world of difference between the two.
Differentiate it by using your heart. When the light shines on you, and you feel a sense of wonderful comfort and lightness, that is the light of the Buddha. However, when the light shines on you and comes across as chaotic and noisy, making you feel somewhat uneasy, presenting itself as a major hindrance, you should know that it is light from ghostly beings.
Here is another thing to take note of: If a light is the buddha light, it always illuminates like a jeweled flame of brilliance, shining like a real diamond. The light of ghostly beings tends to be weak, tempting, and entangling, just like a fake diamond. One must discern these lights carefully and clearly in order to avoid entering into the wrong kind of light and stepping into the wrong spiritual realm.
According to the instructions of Mahapratisara Bodhisattva, when one enters into the deepest depths of absorption, light emerges. At this stage, when one engages in the union of absorption and wisdom, their interaction produces light, and the radiance of this great wisdom grows progressively brighter, eventually illuminating and removing all ignorance. Once ignorance is lifted, there are no hindrances.
When the light becomes absolutely clear and transparent and the practitioner is able to maintain the light without ever losing it, he or she will be able to interact and merge with the compassionate light and the buddha light of the Dharmakaya Tathagatas of the ten directions. Like two mirrors with light reflecting back and forth from one mirror to the other, the light from the heart of the practitioner interacts and interconnects with the buddha light in such subtle intimacy that no outsider could possible perceive or understand. The union of two forms of light is supremely pure and wonderful, and when one abides in this state of union, this constitutes the Light Mahamudra.
The Mahamudra of Clear Light mainly deals with the doctrine of merging. In my case, for example, I can merge with pure sunlight when the sun is shining bright, and merge with moonlight during the night. I am able to move in and out of the crown chakra as the light within me projects according to the will of my mind and spirit.
The Tibetan gurus who transmit the Mahamudra insist that disciples must first recognize the true nature of light, then learn to differentiate the grades and degrees of differences between the types of pure light before finally recognizing the realm of fruition of the clear light. The first part is theoretical. The second part is learning to differentiate the differences between the lights that are being attained by the practitioner. The third part requires that, through cultivation, the individuals light obtain responses with the buddha light, attaining the realm of wisdom and clear light from the merging of the two lights.
Now I shall reveal a secret to you:
Where does light come from? Light arises from the interval of space between the end of one thought and the arrival of the next thought. Light is produced in this space between thoughts. This is the Mahamudra of Meditative Absorption, the very secret that Noble Tilopa taught: Think of nothing, and pursue nothing. When you practice no contemplation, no thought, and think not of the primal consciousness of the universe or the light of the primal self, the clear light shall reveal itself under these conditions. This light does not arise from the primal consciousness of the universe, nor does it come from oneself. It is an inherent pure light that already exists, which reveals itself completely in the space between two connecting thoughts. The light is of itself spiritually clear and vibrant!
Heres a verse:
In the Mahamudra of Meditative Absorption, one who attains the Mahamudra of Clear Light such as the Holy Red Crown Vajra Guru Sheng-yen Lu, Lian Sheng, will know that the guru can pierce through all illusory realms and illusory forms with one glance. Every authentic buddha light has manifested itself within my ground of realization. Illusory lights can no longer delude and ensnarl me. The realized one has long attained the joy of liberation, which is true happiness.
The realized individual is thus endowed with pure light; his every act is an expression of a genuine heart that leaves no room for hesitation. He finds all roads to be unhindered and clear. I know that anyone who reaches this spiritual state has arrived at the highest realm of the Mahamudra of Meditative Absorption, which is the ground of buddhahood. Ones body, speech and mind are purified, and all siddhis arising from the fruition of buddhahood manifest in purity. This achievement is indeed remarkable.
In principle, neither being active nor being still poses a hindrance, and one is free to move among men or live in seclusion until reaching nirvana. Every gesture and action of the realized individual is most dignified, and he is endowed with the greatest of blessings and merits in heaven as well as on earth. This is the unmatched accomplishment brought about through the Mahamudra of Clear Light.
In the spiritual realm of attainment there exists a very unique truth, which I would like to reveal here: The so-called realm of Suchness cannot be experienced through contemplation or observation. Neither can it be described in words. As the arising and ceasing mind does not exist, no words could possibly provide a complete description of this Suchness. There exists no right, nor is there any evil. What is being defined as right by the arising and ceasing mind cannot be placed in the realm of Suchness. This realm of Suchness is transcendental, which places it absolutely beyond explanation, and there is no way a mortal being can understand it.
It was only after I attained accomplishment with the practice of the Mahamudra of Clear Light that I was able to appreciate what Milarepa had said. Milarepa once told me that any Tantric practitioner who gains inner attainment of meditative absorption, whose effort focuses on self-cultivation, will be considered as one attaining the buddhadharma and gaining realization.
Many Buddhist masters, monks and nuns love to speak of other religions as heresy, yet the differentiation between the true follower and heretic is not determined by the religious teachings, but by the separation between inward focus and outward focus. This was my discovery upon gaining realization, and it was indeed the most definitive discovery I made.
CHAPTER 16: Mahamudra of Leaving the Physical Body
The word `leave` suggests departing, and the word `residence` refers to the physical body. Together, they illustrate the soul leaving the physical body. When death comes to those who have not practised any form of cultivation, they are often received by deceased spirits, such as their ancestors spirits who appear in order to receive the deceased. Those who see their ancestors appearing to welcome them are bound to end up in the lower spiritual planes.
Those who follow the Pureland School and single-mindedly recite the Buddhas name will experience the Three Sages of the West appearing before them upon death. This indicates that they will gain rebirth in the Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss where Amitabha Buddha will appear to receive them.
These ten dharma realms, the four holy states and six mundane realms, involve layers upon layers of truth, which would fill many books if we went into it. As I write this Mahamudra of Leaving the Body within the Teachings of Mahamudra, I find myself wanting to cry, as the memory of meditating in my room surfaces, when I was shown how few sentient beings in the universe ascend to the heavenly realms upon death, and how few actually make it to the Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss. Those who practise the Mahamudra of Leaving the Body are few and far between.
The Saha world is evidently filled with many people who do not know how to cultivate. Yet among those who do, many have gone astray, falling onto wrong paths and conned by pseudo-psychics. There are indeed many pseudo dharma masters, fathers, priests, psychic mediums, magicians, masters and gurus. These individuals appear to be practising virtuous deeds, but beneath their acts they swallow the donations of the kind-hearted, embezzling more than the amount they use to print good books and perform good deeds.
Those who end up in the lower spiritual planes and even in hell include these dharma masters, fathers, priests, mediums, magicians, masters, and gurus. Those who are without dharma, yet claim to be dharma masters, will suffer a greater retribution than others. When I observed this situation through my meditation, it naturally brought me to tears. I have great pity for sentient beings who do not hear and learn of the dharma, and do not know how to cultivate. Therefore I began my writings by first teaching the simpler doctrines, and advanced progressively to this highest teaching of Mahamudra.
I have tolerated all the slanders thrown at me by the dharma masters, fathers, priests, mediums, magicians, masters, and gurus. I have born the accusations of the world and the evil words of the hypocrites. Why do I put up with these? I am only trying to deliver a few souls who have the right affinity, for only a handful in this world know the Mahamudra of Leaving the Body, and only a few would continue speaking and reveal the supreme heart teachings of Tantrayana. Therefore this is an expression of great compassion, great guidance, and great sympathy.
Sometimes I think that my writing about the Highest Yoga Tantra and Mahamudra may invite statements like `I also know that stuff` from the pseudo masters, who probably would be the least grateful after reading this material. And they may well use these materials to con even more people. Isnt that worse? However, knowing that all sentient beings shall bathe in the grace of the Buddha, experience the dharma taste, and cultivate the right teaching so that together they may attain Nirvana, I am determined to reveal this material. This is what I am made of; my character is straight-forward and unselfish.
When a person is nearing death, many illusory visions may appear. This phenomenon is caused by the reactions that occur when the four elements of earth, wind, fire and water disintegrate. Eventually, the physical light is extinguished beyond the realm of the six consciousnesses. The physical body and the mind gradually lose their connectivity, following which the water element begins to disintegrate and the mouth and nose experience dryness. Next the fire element disintegrates, and the body gradually loses its temperature. After that, the breath dissipates.
Upon the death of the physical body, a person who has not practised any cultivation finds his spiritual essence lacking its own power to move at will, and he is subjected to the forces of negative karma, which lead him down the path of suffering where he is reborn in the six realms: heaven, the human realm, the asura realm, hell, and the hungry ghost and animal realms.
However, a person whose spiritual essence is active in his life due to his cultivation will experience, upon the death of his physical body and upon his last breath, the appearance of smoke and fog. Amidst this smoky fog one finds the manifestation of light. To produce light from this smoky fog requires that one first eliminate the three poisons of greed, anger and foolishness. While one can purify oneself of the three poisons during ones lifetime, they have to be completely purified after ones death. These three poisons can be further categorized into the thirty-two states of anger, the forty states of greed, and the seven states of ignorance. The most important thing is to eliminate all the karmic conditions, greed, anger and foolishness. This is indeed the greatest heart essence.
The light that first manifests usually resembles the glow of a firefly. This is ones own light, which later transforms into a light like the light of a lamp. At this stage, when all outer karmic conditions are cut, a massive light gradually approaches, shining with the backdrop of a cloudless sky. The very light that emits from the spiritual essence of the cultivator spirals through the central channel and ascends, moving out of the crown chakra and connecting with the light of the great sun.
The Karmapa once told me:
Heres a verse:
As the physical light and form fade away,
As thoughts and consciousness are removed,
Consciousness, when eliminated, finds itself arise again.
At this moment the clear light begins to dawn.
Light and early dawn blend as one.
Here exists the manifested and unmanifested knowledge,
Merging the manifested into the primal ground.
Thus one is said to attain fruition and gain accomplishment.
This illustrates the Mahamudra of Leaving the Body at the time of death, a complete quintessence which teaches that the dying practitioner must renounce all worldly karmic affinities such as wealth (thoughts of greed), family ties (thoughts of foolishness), and all love and hatred (thoughts of anger), cutting all karmic ties in the physical world. It is only when all discursive thoughts are eliminated and one abides in the realm of the light that the Child Light manifests itself. It is the very pure state of the Child Light that attracts the Mother Light of the supreme cosmic consciousness. As the Child Light spins and ascends through the central channel, both these lights merge into one, these two lights which in truth are of the same essence. Like old friends who meet again, these pure lights merge into each other. This is in essence the final return to the Ocean of Vairocana; entering into Nirvana, achieving enlightenment.
An individual who has not done any cultivation will experience fear upon dying. This is because he will feel that his body is crumpling like a mountain and he is no longer able to get up. He shall feel an earthquake trembling all around, and everywhere people running after him and wanting to kill him. The individual finds himself wanting to escape from the killers, yet unable to find his way out. He experiences strong winds, thunder and lightning. As he keeps running frantically, he may run into the soft white light, which is the heavenly realm. If he runs into the foggy light, he enters the hell realm. If he enters the soft yellow light, this is the human realm. If he enters the soft red light, that is the hungry ghost realm. If he enters the soft green light, he enters into the asura realm. This is the reality of the six realms of Samsara. This is what separates the practitioner from the non-practitioner.
Many readers often ask me if hell really exists. This is my reply, Hell exists on earth, and many of these hells have already manifested in the human world, such as operating rooms in hospitals where the hells of opening the skull, grafting the skin, and operating on the heart exist. And in war-torn areas you find the hells of knife mountain and fire mountain.
Hell is described in Tantric Buddhism in this way: In the hell realm there is a huge city with high walls fabricated of black gold. An iron gate opens at each of the four directions of the city, and trees are planted on the sides of the gates, which are hung with banners. A human head is positioned on top of each tree. Lord Yama is in charge, with his left attendant recording bad deeds and right attendant recording good deeds.
This Tantric hell is recorded in the Sutra of Ten Kings. Actually, Lord Yama is known as the Spirit of Illumination in Tantrayana. He entered into the Netherworld to take charge of the hell realm. He is included in Tantric teachings as a heavenly deity known as Yama Deva (Japanese: Enmaten) who resides on the side of the west gate of the vajra division in the Womb Mandala. In the Diamond Mandala, he is stationed to the north of the outer court among the Twenty Deities (Nijitten).
In the Tantric version of the image of Lord Yama, he rides on a buffalo, his right hand holding a human head banner and his left hand palm upwards. He has two female devas as his attendants, two ghostly guards in red and black colours who carry a knife and a battle halberd respectively. Lord Yama rides on a buffalo with his right leg dangling. This description is different from the Taoist description of Lord Yama.
From what I know based on my studies, the Womb and Diamond Mandalas of Tantric Buddhism are arranged in the order of the stars and constellations of the cosmos. The heaven and hell realms depicted in Taoism are based on legends, and the hell realm lies beneath the floor of the ocean. Whatever there is, I am aware that within the human body exist the divisions of heaven and hell. When your heart is inclined towards hell, hell appears before you. If your heart looks towards heaven, heaven appears before you. Heaven and hell are created by our hearts.
The Mahamudra of Leaving the Body is a wonderful heart essence teaching. If one does not believe in this teaching now, when death arrives one will be able to verify it and realize that what I say is indeed true.
CHAPTER 17 - The Bardo Deliverance Yoga of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva
This article reveals one of the Bardo Deliverance practices taught in True Buddha School, as transmitted by the Holy Red Crown Vajra Guru Noble Lian-sheng. It has been edited by my Hong Kong disciple Lian-jing and transcribed by Lian-han.
Preparation: Set up the Mandala of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva and enshrine the statue of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva. Set up an incense burner, vajra bell, vajra scepter, vajra lasso, ritual implement, nectar vase, and the five or eight offerings.
2) Recite the Armour Protection Mantra: OM BO RU LAN ZE LEE [(transliteration; in Sanskrit: Om Vajranjali)] seven times. Form the Vajra Mudra and press it over these five areas: the head, throat, heart, left shoulder, and right shoulder. Visualize protection coming from the vajra deities.
3) Invoke the presence of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva by visualizing him descending to the Mandala shrine. Recite the mantra of Ksitigarbha 108 times: OM HA HA HA VISMAYE SOHA. Form the root mudra of Ksitigarbha by forming an inner clasped fist with two hands, straightening the middle fingers without touching them. This is the root mudra of the Ksitigarbha Court. Visualize Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva seated on top of your crown, radiating light.
4) Visualize Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva transformed into a grain of rice, which enters into you through your crown chakra and sits within the lotus of your heart. You, as the practitioner, become one with Ksitigarbha, and enter into the Samadhi of Ksitigarbha. At this stage Ksitigarbha emits light and performs all deliverance.
6) Summon the spirits to enter into the tablets, by first reciting their earthly names and addresses, then reciting the Vast Summoning Mantra: NAMO BHU PUTERI KARI DO RI TATHAGATAYA. At this stage we can use the vajra bell to empower the spirits and lead them away from darkness, the sea of fire, the netherworld and hell, and help them approach the Mandala shrine to accept the dharma offering of fragrance and food. For spirits who are bound by enmity, we should recite the Mantra of Dispelling Enmity: OM SAMDARA GADA SVAHA while forming the Mudra of Dispelling Enmity.
All my past negative karma
Born from beginningless greed, hate and delusion
through body, speech and mind,
Transgressions resulting from the ten evils and five deadly sins,
From breaching the Samaya Pledge,
Infinite and endless as they are,
I now fully acknowledge.
I pray that the buddhas have compassion on me and receive me
And stay with me until I attain buddhahood.
(Recite the Repentance Verse 3 times)
Recite the Repentance Mantra: OM BENZA SAMAYA SUDAYA (3 times)
During the first round of the mala, visualize yourself as Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva himself. The pearl of light on his hand radiates light towards all the spirits and helps remove all grievances and enmities, releasing them from all handcuffs and locks and purifying them from all filth.
11) Perform the Mahamudra of Bardo Deliverance Yoga. Visualize all spirits being guided by the light radiating from the Ksitigarbha Mudra, which helps them gain complete liberation. Their spiritual bodies are producing great brilliance, and each spirit rides on a lotus flower and gains rebirth through the light. Empower them with the sound of the vajra bell, and offer the nectar water and dharma taste again.
12) Recite the Deliverance Mantra 108 times. Visualize the appearance of the Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss in space emitting great luminance, radiating lights upon the spirits. The sound of the mantra manifests countless lotus flowers. Amitabha Buddha radiates great light, and the lotus he is holding in his hand transforms itself into countless lotus flowers, each emitting light. As the spirits receive the lotus flowers, their spiritual bodies become bright and they receive deliverance.
OM, BENZA SATO SAMAYA, MANU PALAYA, BENZA SATO TENO PA TISHA, DRI DRO MEY BHAWA, SUTO KAYO MEY BHAWA, SUPO KAYO MEY BHAWA, ANU RAKTO MEY BHAWA, SARWA SIDDHI MEM PRAYATSA SARWA KARMA SU TSA MEY TSI TAM SHRI YAM KURU HUM, HA HA HA HA HO, BHAGHAVAN SARVA TATHAGATA BENZA MA MEY MUN ZHA BEN ZHI BHAWA MAHA SAMAYA SATO AH HUM PHAT
The merits gained from performing the supreme act of deliverance,
These infinite blessings shall all be dedicated.
I pray that all lost and fallen souls
Quickly make their way towards the buddha realm of infinite light.
The buddhas of the ten directions and three times,
Manjusri, Samantabhadra, Avalokitesvara,
All Bodhisattvas and Mahasattvas
14) Perform the great homage and exit the mandala.
Note: This practice is the Sadhana of Ksitigarbha Deliverance Yoga. If you wish to include the chanting of Mahayana sutras, you can recite the Amitabha Sutra or the Sutra of the Original Vows of Ksitigarbha, as you choose. How much recitation to schedule depends on the length of the dharma ceremony. Tantric practice hinges mainly on visualization, and the visualizations must be clear and precise. The Holy Red Crown Vajra Guru Sheng-yen Lu Noble Lian-sheng emits the buddha light in every dharma ceremony, and allows the participants to witness the presence of the spirits of their loved ones and communicate with them. This is evidence of the supreme power of Mahamudra. This has even made some American professors take refuge. The dharma of Tibetan Buddhism has been spread to the world. This is the age where Buddhism shall propagate in the west.
Ksitigarbha, the Sanskrit name of Earth Store Bodhisattva, is the principal deity of Guru Lian-sheng. The Sutra of the Ten Wheels of Ksitigarbha describes Ksitigarbha in many of his manifestations, such as the forms of Brahma, Mahesvara, Buddha, and Sravaka. His manifestations in the six realms of cyclic existence are given different names. He resides in the Ksitigarbha Court in the Womb Mandala, while in the Diamond Mandala he takes the form of Vajraketu Bodhisattva in the retinue of Ratnasambhava Buddha.
Ksitigarbha is depicted in many forms. He is commonly seen wearing a five-buddha crown with a luminous pearl in his hand, dressed in a kasaya or monks robe, and seated on a lotus throne. He is often seen holding a staff in his hand. Standing statues of shaven-headed Ksitigarbha (Jizo in Japanese) are seen along the country roads of Japan, where his popularity is unsurpassed. His other epithets include Jizo Bosatsu, Jichi Bosatsu, Ruciraketu Bodhisatttva and the Limitless Heart Bodhisattva.
This Bardo Deliverance Yoga of Ksitigarbha was originally transmitted to Vajra Guru Lian-sheng by Ksitigarbha Himself. Vajra Guru Lian-sheng in turn transmitted the method to his disciples. This practice text was transcribed by my Hong Kong disciple Lian-han and edited by Lian-jing. Those who receive this method may use it to deliver their loved ones and other spirits. The merits of this deliverance practice are most supreme.
Miss You Suqing, a disciple of mine who lives in Kumamoto, Japan, asked me what exactly was the Yoga of Phowa. I replied by saying that the Yoga of Phowa is the Yoga of Opening the Crown, a Tantric practice of gaining accomplishment through the transference of consciousness where it is transformed into the dharmakaya, sambhobakaya, and nirmanakaya.
Here is a further elucidation on this yoga:
Tantric practitioners have often regarded the Yoga of Phowa as the swiftest dharma gate, for it is said to yield the quickest results and is the most direct way to open the crown. Once the crown is opened, one certainly attains accomplishment by gaining rebirth in the Pureland.
The success of practising any dharma gate hinges upon the spiritual foundation of the individual. Some may cultivate the opening of the crown and achieve results in one day. Others may have to cultivate for forty-nine days before they accomplish the opening of the crown. This is due largely to their respective spiritual foundations.
The Yoga of Phowa is one of the major practices of Kagyupa. Some people have commented that once the crown is opened, the individual may gain rebirth in the Western Pureland at any time. Of course, when a person gains rebirth, his physical body dies. This results in the shortening of ones life. That is why individuals who practise this yoga do not live a long life. Therefore many Tantric practitioners feel that the cultivation of the Amitayus Long-life Practice is necessary once the individuals crown is opened.
However, I feel that once the Yoga of Phowa is mastered, it proves that gaining rebirth in the Pureland is a certainty. As to whether ones life would be shortened by this practice or not is inconsequential, as life itself is an ocean of suffering and offers no escape from birth, old age, sickness and death. What appears as the joy of life is nothing but suffering. It would be better to leave early and be done with this life. Therefore, since the Yoga of Phowa can reduce ones life span, why not practise it?
Sit in the Seven Points of Vairocana position.
Homage to you, Guru Vajradhara!
Protect me upon my accomplishment of Phowa!
Homage to you, Tilopa!
Help me enter your glorious light,
Where all dharma is pure and supreme!
Homage to you, Marpa and Milarepa!
Radiate light upon me through Mahamudra!
Homage to you, all lineage holders!
Above my crown you shall sit in your lotus thrones.
My faith is firm and strong.
Every guru dissolves into a sea of clear light.
In the supreme dharma realm where you dwell.
I pray that I may swiftly gain the wonderful dharma and attain bodhi.
I wish to practice the Phowa and merge into Emptiness
So that I may peacefully abide in the true buddha realm
Visualize Vajradhara seated above your crown with a blue-coloured body manifested in his sambogakaya form, draped with fine buddha garments adorned with the most precious and wonderful jeweled ornaments. His arms are held in front of his chest, with the right arm crossed over the left, holding a vajra in his right hand and a bell in his left. The lineage holders sit above your crown in ascending order, forming a straight line; each resides within a circular aura of rainbow light. At the bottom of the lineage is seated the Holy Red Crown Vajra Guru Noble Lian-sheng, who is the living guru on earth.
Next visualize the gurus transforming themselves into rainbow light. This light dissolves into your body, and together they form a single magnificent vajra body. Visualize yourself transforming into a body of emptiness and luminosity, where you find a central channel with a wide top in the middle of your body, with an opening shaped like a trumpet. At its base it is narrow with the end sealed off. Above the trumpet opening at the top are seated the lineage holders, whose root guru is the Vajradhara. Your central channel is aligned in a straight line with the central channel of the root guru, Vajradhara, whose pathways are interconnected and clear. This means your central channel is linked to the central channel of Vajradhara.
As you exhale, shout out the sound ZEE and visualize the syllable HUM within your heart ascending towards the top trumpet opening of your central channel. Shout the sound ZEE continuously 21 times. With the twenty-first shout, the syllable HUM finally reaches the top of the trumpet opening of the central channel.
Next exhale and shout out the sound GA while visualizing the syllable HUM descending gradually from the top opening of the central channel until it finally returns to the original place within the heart with the twenty-first GA.
Thus, you shout the sound ZEE twenty one times and shout the sound GA twenty one times. When you shout, you must stretch your vocal capacity and shout out loud. This is making use of the voice to vibrate the syllable HUM within your heart so as to cause it to ascend and descend.
You should practise this Yoga of Phowa once a day. By making use of the power of two mantra seed syllables and the power of thought, and performing the practice sitting in the Seven Points of Vairocana posture, one attains the goal of opening the crown.
The Phowa practitioner, upon dying, moves the syllable HUM within his heart out of the central channel into the blue syllable HUM within Vajradhara, so that both HUM syllables merge. In this way, the heart of the Tantric practitioner is merged with the heart of the lineage holders, which is seen as the clear light of ones own heart dissolving into the clear light of the lineage holders. This is the true accomplishment attained through the Yoga of Phowa.
1. This practice places great importance on the power of the gurus blessing. The Vajra Guru is Vajradhara, who is the essence of all gurus. His heart mantra HUM, radiating the lights of the five wisdoms, exists primarily as the wonderful vajra nature of all buddhas. We must be respectful and sincere in our reliance on our vajra guru, so that we may gain the blessing of the master. Thus, we should not attempt to practise this Yoga of Phowa however we please without receiving proper guidance from a master.
2. Though this practice is simple, it is nevertheless powerful. It is a wonderful method that is drawn from the great perfection of guru yoga, and it leads to the realm of true reality. When one achieves yogic response with this practise, the prana energy that rises to the crown chakra of ones head may form a protrusion such as that seen on the statues of the Buddha. A minor bruise may form, with a few droplets of blood and fluid flowing out from the crown chakra. In the past, those whose crown was opened would insert a stalk of kusha grass into the crown chakra as evidence of the opening.
3. A person whose crown chakra is opened will find that upon death his spiritual essence emerges through the crown chakra. The soul of the individual is self-realized as it moves out of the physical body through the crown chakra and ascends up the wire-like central channel which is linked to the crown. Before death and during ones daily practice, one may visualize the light of the lineage holders dissolving into oneself through the crown and filling the body of meridians and chakras with power. One may transform this strength and power into a body of pure light. Whenever I enter into the meditative absorption of Mahamudra, the pure light of the lineage holders is transformed into the infinite pure light within me. These pure lights are able to respond to each other.
4. I feel that ordained monks who truly know their self-nature and seek realization from deep within themselves are those who understand the dharma and practise it. Pitiful are those monks who are unclear about the truth and practise only the psychic arts. These arts are external doctrines. What I embrace is the meditative absorption of inner realization, and not those non-Buddhist doctrines. If my disciples truly understand this, they are to be considered true disciples of True Buddha School. These practices deal with the cultivation of drops!
5. When I observe the many Americans who live only in materialism, I find them pitiful. The priests who preach their sermons want everyone to worship the Lord and to keep their thoughts kind and loving. In this way, the Lord shall bless us all. Through prayers, we keep open the line of communication to the Lord and, when the time comes, we shall ascend to the heavenly kingdom. However, the Catholic and Christian teachings, through relying on prayers (which is seeking outside oneself), would not help anyone reach the heavenly kingdom if the hindrance of ignorance is not removed. Thus, a large number of believers of the Catholic and Christian faiths are not saved in the end, for these people only know how to seek the truth outside themselves, and are unaware of how to seek the truth within. Thus, they stop at the superficial level and are unaware of the inner truth.
The Mahamudra of Opening the Crown blends both approaches of seeking outwardly and inwardly into one method, and seeks a response from the Highest One. This is the response attained at the dharmakaya level. Today I have many western disciples who are aware of this practice, and a few of them have achieved the opening of the crown. They feel a sense of tranquillity in their body and mind, and abide in the supreme Samadhi of quiescence.
The Tantric teachings, having found their way to the west, certainly are an eye opener for westerners. The practice of Mahamudra has allowed me to become one with the universe, with my guru, and with all sentient beings. Indeed the true teachings of self-realization have been established in the west and many westerners have taken refuge.
Whoever reads this chapter and follows the guidance of his or her guru by cultivating the drops and opening the crown shall attain the inner realization of his heart. Had I not made my compassionate vows to help all gain the realization of their true minds, it would be impossible to distribute this current of pure light into the hearts of sentient beings, and benefit them greatly.
CHAPTER 19 - The Samadhi of Observation
What exactly is the Samadhi of Observation? It is the partial or total spiritual sensation as experienced by the `I` when the individual self is infused with the cosmic spirit during his or her meditative absorption in Mahamudra.
My friend, I have long attained these spiritual states. My many years of effort and my cultivation while living in the United States have placed me on a journey in which I walk the supreme `path of joy and happiness`. Many secular monks and masters have condemned me verbally and in writing. They believe that by doing this Master Sheng-yen Lu would either be petrified or forced into a state of insomnia. But they are wrong. I have become one with the Supreme Consciousness. Their attempts to condemn and belittle me are tantamount to condemning and belittling the Supreme One. I have long gained the state of the unimpeded mind. All forms of verbal attack and slander have no effect on me.
I am aware of all practices of inner cultivation and diligently cultivate myself daily. By employing the Asana techniques of Mahamudra and breath control, I entered into a spiritual state where all my six senses are focussed as one. I have thus unfolded and expressed all practices of Mahamudra, and enter into the Samadhi state of meditative absorption. My spiritual level is simply beyond anyone`s ability to fathom. My undivided intimate relationship with the Supreme One has rendered even the most powerful `centrifugal force` in the universe helpless against me, the power of the deva mara that draws beings towards grossness and degradation.
The Supreme One is omnipresent, and humans are originally part of the Supreme One. By means of inner cultivation and meditation, we can transform our gross nature into a refined state. All means of cultivation serve to help us abide by spiritual laws and partake in the true path of joy and happiness, beginning with devotion and giving, and moving on to the practice of inner cultivation and meditation.
Everything in this universe is created and evolved by the spiritual current of creation, and works in a cycle. What was once gross and materialistic must eventually be transformed into a fine and spiritual nature, so that it can merge as one with the primordial consciousness. Such is the law of the cosmic consciousness.
The spiritual state of Mahamudra is the highest spiritual level, in which one is absorbed in a calm-abiding Samadhi state of oneness. Such spiritual experience is beyond any form of description, but through the hand of an authentic guru such as the Holy Red Crown Vajra Guru, it may be brought to light. The spiritual master guides people and teaches them how to remove darkness and ignorance, and leads his disciples into truth. Together, they experience the complete state of true knowing and joy within the spiritual state of Mahamudra.
Some people have suspected that Master Sheng-yen Lu has ulterior motives while on earth. But master Sheng-yen Lu has only one motivation and one action, which is simply to move from this human world to the Other Shore. This `motive`, the only one, is to guide the human spirit to the spiritual Pureland. This corresponds with the working laws of the universe. The greatest pulling force of the universe, the ultimate goal of cosmic consciousness, is to offer perfect liberation to all human beings. It helps to dissolve our spirit and mind into the greater non-sectarian world of cosmic consciousness. Thus, this motive of mine is selfless and detached, and is expressed in an act of complete giving. The Master gives all of his heart and soul throughout his entire life for this one purpose of liberating sentient beings.
The physical body is composed of the five elements of earth, water, fire, wind and space. The whole universe is similarly composed of the five elements, being solid, liquid, heat, air and ether, of which solid matter is the earth element; liquid is the water element; heat is the fire element; air is the wind element, and ether is the space element.
When we purify the spirit and mind, we must remove all that is gross which binds us, such as fear, doubt, vanity, pride, hatred, slander, selfishness, hypocrisy and so forth. We must transform the gross nature of the spirit into a refined spiritual state, and it is through the practice of Mahamudra that we can achieve this.
My Samadhi of Observation is as follows:
This Samadhi of Observation has arisen from the accomplishment of realizing that all past, present and future states are indivisible, that one is all and all is one, and all phenomena of birth and extinction are illusory. This is seeing the very nature of all phenomena.
Thus, the individual soul originates from the Supreme Cosmic Spirit. Mahamudra serves to liberate the individual soul, which is bound by karma and drifts in the universe, and returns it to its original spiritual state of supreme joy and happiness. Through Mahamudra training, the soul is removed of all its karmic burdens and is transformed into the supreme spiritual body of the universe. Hence there exists no difference between the two; the individual soul and the Supreme Soul.
What am I? I am a master who guides human beings towards the perfect path of approaching the supreme consciousness. I have come from the supreme consciousness and am presently employing all my strength and means to help mankind understand the knowledge of spirituality. I have arrived at the detached state of cultivation and am no longer moved by any worldly circumstances. I have long been able to extract myself from the bounds of the material world and have realized the ultimate truth.
During a deep meditation, I found myself standing in front of Fanyin Cave (the Cave of Brahma Sound) at Mount Putuo. The cave lies beneath a gorge sandwiched between two steep cliffs. The sea water creates a tidal sound as it pours in and out of the cave, and therefore this cave of tidal sound is named Fanyin Cave. This cave is one of the attractions of Mount Putuo. There is a temple constructed in the vicinity of the cave.
I once read the book The Legends of Mount Putuo which describes how those who visit Mount Putuo pay homage at Fanyin Cave. Visitors who have great affinity with the Buddha may see the appearance of Guan Yin Bodhisattva. Some see the youth Sudhana while others may see the dragon girl. Some may witness the presence of the Taiping Bird belonging to Guan Ying Bodhisattva. These beings appear according to the individual's past karmic affinity, and everyone sees a different manifestation.
During my deep meditation, I was surprised to find myself arriving at Mount Putuo, and I also paid my homage at Fanyin Cave. While I was paying my homage, I saw an immortal appearing before me. He was not Guan Yin, nor was he Sudhana or the dragon girl. His left hand was holding a horsetail whisk, and his right hand was holding a staff with a crossed vajra. He wore a celestial jeweled crown and a monk's robe.
The godly being showed himself, and together we ascended to the clouds.
`No, I don't.`
` I am Varsi.`
Then the immortal Varsi related his story, how he was once a practitioner in India who had been involved with the fire ritual as a Brahman. Later, when he made the journey to Fanyin Cave in Mount Putuo, he felt that Fanyin Cave was a serene place, and decided to stay. He lived in a straw hut within the cliffs around Fanyin Cave, and continued his cultivation. He killed many wild animals and sacrificed them through the fire ritual as offerings to heaven. Subsequently, his heavy karma of killing brought about his fall into the hell realm after his death, and he suffered its torments.
Once the Guan Yin Bodhisattva of Mount Putuo arrived in hell and saw that Varsi was in great suffering. He learned that Varsi had at one time been practising in Fanyin Cave. So Guan Yin taught him the Yoga of Eternity, Bliss, True Self and Purity. Varsi practiced these four virtues in hell, and gradually absorbed light into himself and left the suffering of the hell of extreme heat and cold. Later, he focused on this cultivation and paid homage to the Triple Jewels with the greatest sincerity and faith, and finally attained oneness with space. He became Guan Yin Bodhisattva`s attendant. That was his past affinity.
`Lian-sheng, do you know what shines?`
`That's right. When you absorb light into the spiritual eye, you attain the third eye. When you absorb light into the heart, you gain the spiritual power to discern the minds of others. When we observe the heart and it remains like a mirror reflecting light as we absorb it, this is the act of contemplating supreme wisdom`, Immortal Varsi said.
While staying at home or going away, regardless of whether you return home early or late, you, as a Tantric practitioner, may employ the method of Breathing In and Storing All Energy, and gather all light energy within your heart. This includes sunlight, moonlight, starlight, firelight, candlelight, and lightning.
When you return home to your mandala shrine, you release the light from your heart and let it dissolve into the light of the mirror. Through your visualization, your every exhalation breathes light into the mirror. Every light is captured and dissolves into the mirror.
You must continue to cultivate until the day when you look into the mirror and see the mirror radiating a light which is different from the normal light we see. The luminosity is formed from the precious five-colored rays. This is the manifestation of the display of ` true heart and true mirror`. From this time onwards, every time you enter into a visualization, you shall find all your being dissolved into the spiritual realm of great brilliance. This realm is the world of ` Eternity, Bliss, True Self and Purity`.
This yoga combines the light of oneself, the light of the mirror and the light of the heart into one unified light. The world of light emitted from within the mirror is a complete state of calm and stillness, for the world of light in the mirror is ` neither emptiness nor existence, nor is it non-emptiness or non-existence. Words fail to describe such a spiritual state, and this is the state of Eternity, Bliss, True Self and Purity as attracted by the light from the realm of desire.`
`This realm is actually a hidden world. You can avoid harm caused by the evil curses and black arts cast by evil men. None of these spells can even come close to you, and thus will have no effect on you. This spiritual state is said to be an illusory model of Nirvana, or a resemblance of the state of Nirvana. Hence it is a world of complete tranquility. The individual who practices this method finds his or her body radiating infinite light. However, when one gains true realization, one should not abide in this realm of Eternity, Bliss, True Self and Purity, and stop there. One should take the next step.`
`This is because attaining the realm of ` Eternity, Bliss, True Self and Purity` is merely a selfish approach which allows one to be happy and worry-free, but stops short of liberating sentient beings. Thus, the highest it can take you is to become a self-liberated being. The reason we are cultivating and gaining realization is not for the benefit of ourselves, but for the sake of benefiting others. It is done to allow all sentient beings to benefit from our practice. Hence the practitioner of the Mahamudra of Eternity, Bliss, True Self and Purity must cultivate this along with other practices to succor sentient beings.`
I thought about the Mahamudra of Eternity, Bliss, True Self and Purity and saw it as a Hinayana practice. When one gains accomplishment with it, one reaches the spiritual realm of an arhat. It is little wonder why many bodhisattvas who have aspired to liberate sentient beings may have already attained buddhahood and received the so-called perfect enlightenment of Nirvana, yet none of them abide in the state of complete calm and stillness. Instead, they choose to return to deliver sentient beings by their vows. They appear as either a bodhisattva, a great teacher, or as a master. These great bodhisattvas, through every age, have made their vows to deliver all sentient beings including those who may be dwelling as micro organisms on earth and those who are suffering in the three evil paths, right up to the celestial beings in the heavens, and lead them to the path of enlightenment. They vow never to enter into buddhahood, into Nirvana, and abide in complete tranquility so long as one single sentient being remains suffering.
The practitioners of Hinayana Buddhism, upon reaching self realization, often find their cultivation has come to an end and see no reason to continue. However, the teaching of Mahayana Buddhism does not encourage abiding in the state of Nirvana, but rather speaks of the fact that once the individual enters into Nirvana, he or she actually re-emerges and continues to evolve from that point without cessation. It does not regard Nirvana as the final resting stop.
He who practices the Yoga of Eternity, Bliss, True Self and Purity must understand that the inner state of mind is the source of all spiritual power. It is the ages of karma and our total lust for the material world that have blinded us from the discovery of our own inner light. Individuals who have little awareness of the light within the heart are attracted to the lures of money, fame and fortune. For this, they continue life after life in cyclic existence. Today, readers who come across the books written by Master Lian-sheng are finally realizing that there exists a light within one's heart, and that they shall certainly gain liberation through the practice of the Highest Yoga Tantra and Mahamudra. This is definitely attributed to the reader's good karmic affinity in the past.
Once you read this book and seek guidance from the master, you shall know that you have within yourself an endless treasury and you are entitled to gain this priceless jewel of light. Therefore, you shall sincerely and diligently learn the dharma and be removed from all the disturbances of the material world. Then you shall find the spiritual realm of Nirvana within reach. It is easy to attain the state of Eternity, Bliss, True Self and Purity. Those who practice truthfully shall gain it.
Here`s a verse:
The Mahamudra practitioner must know that the true significance of Mahamudra is True Reality. He who knows the Mahamudra is the wisest man, for he is neither attached nor deluded. Tantric practitioners are prone to stepping into the four wrong paths, and we must recognize what these four paths are and commit them to memory.
The first wrong path is obsession with the idea of Emptiness. I know of a monk who studies the Satyasiddhi School (Jap. Jojitsu-shu) and the Three-Treatise School. These two schools are also known as the Sunyata or Emptiness Schools. He feels that everything does not have an intrinsic nature. The monk practises meditation and focuses on the cultivation of breaking any attachment to the self. He is aware that all dependent originations are inherently empty in nature, and that the ego self and its possessions are non-existent. His final destination in his cultivation is the Heaven of Boundless Empty Space, the first heaven of the Realm of Formlessness, which is among the Three Realms and the Nine Grounds. The monk feels that he has attained enlightenment.
The monk who is attached to the nature of Emptiness can hope to reach the Realm of Formlessness. Practitioners in this category often feel they no longer need to return to the human realm; they feel that they have entered into Emptiness itself and have liberated themselves from birth and death. They feel they have attained Nirvana. However, all that they experience has arisen from a sense of selfishness, for people who indulge in the nature of Emptiness are unable to generate the heart to deliver sentient beings. Such Emptiness is nothing more than the empty state of obstinate void. They hold the heterodox view that does not recognize the existence of cause and effect, and they are attached to the views and understanding of emptiness. Such a spiritual level is incomparable to the bodhisattva state born of the true reality of Mahamudra. Thus, this is the first wrong path.
When you ask this monk what truth is, his reply is, Truth is emptiness. When you ask him about delivering sentient beings, his reply is, Delivering sentient beings is emptiness. What about meditation? His reply is, Meditation is emptiness. His reply, no matter what you ask, is always emptiness. He is completely attached to the ideal of emptiness. An individual who practises this form of meditation will attain the Samadhi of Emptiness, whose highest spiritual state is the Heaven of Neither Thought Nor No Thought. When dwelling in this meditation, the highest level one can hope to reach is the four spheres of existence within the formless realm.
The second wrong path is attachment to scriptures. I once said that there are indeed many great scholars and venerables who are completely versed in the study of the sutras and scriptures. Whenever they discuss principles based on the sutras, they deliver them clearly and coherently. If they are approached with questions, they will support their arguments by quoting from the sutras and scriptures. Christians are absorbed with the Bible; Buddhists, the Buddhist Canon; Taoists, the Taoist Canon. I am not here to discourage you from reading the sutras and scriptures, but I want you to read them, apply them creatively, realize their meanings, and create new thoughts. I do not encourage memorization of the texts, neither would I want you to become a bookworm and eventually bury yourself in the scriptures.
Being well-versed in the scriptures is useless, as mentally mastering all sutras and scriptures without actually practicing them and generating new thoughts through them is nothing more than being a blind follower. These scholars and monks are not able to go beyond the boundaries set by the sutras and scriptures, and are unable to put them to good use. Hence, they become too involved with the scriptures. Such is the condition of attachment to the mara of words. This is a form of delusion, a sense of intellectual complacency which feeds the academics with the idea that by understanding the meanings contained in the scriptures, they have realized the truth. By this approach, they have isolated themselves in their thoughts and no longer pursue the inner true reality of Mahamudra. Armed with only an intellectual mastery of the scriptures and gaining no progress in their spiritual level - this illustrates the situation of being bewildered by the scriptures and deluded in the mara realm of words.
When you ask any monk who falls into this category what exactly is truth, his reply would likely be, A certain scripture says ? You ask him about the delivery of sentient beings and his reply would be, Go read the sutras and realize the meaning of the words. So you continue with the question of meditation and his reply would be, Meditation is exactly what is written in the scriptures.
All that the monks ever know and say as they each preach the dharma is quoted from the sutras and scriptures, and they hold the truth written in the sutras and scriptures to be the perfect truth. Actually this is a grave mistake. The Mahamudra of Dispelling Delusion is to be actualized in practice. The scriptures should never be held as the final word, for they are only supplementary to our cultivation. We must regard the inventiveness of actual practice and actual realization as primary, for the Mahamudra leads to limitless expansion of ideas and cultivation. If we want any yogic response, we must not be engrossed with the scriptures.
The third wrong path is attachment to the practice of stilling thoughts. When I began teaching the practice of Mahamudra, I encouraged people to still their discursive thoughts. However, when a day comes when you find there is no way to still your thoughts, then you must stop trying. It may seem to be a paradox, but it is not. It is really the progression of the three phases of cultivation:
1. Stilling the mind - First we learn to stop discursive thoughts.
2. Letting the mind be - Letting discursive thoughts run wild.
3. Observing the thoughts - Like standing by a river, watching the flow of thoughts moving like the river water, remaining unaffected by them.
The Tantric practitioner must cultivate according to these three phases. When you reach a point where you realize there is no stopping of thoughts, then stop trying and simply allow the thoughts to flow naturally. This is because the more you try to stop your thoughts, the more discursive thoughts are produced. Therefore you are better off simply letting discursive thoughts continue as they will and seeing the process as a natural thing. By letting the thoughts flow and subside on their own accord, they appear to diminish instead.
If we focus on stopping the arising of discursive thoughts, it can turn into a kind of obsession with stilling thoughts. This has an adverse effect if we push too hard trying to still the arising of discursive thoughts. While discursive thoughts continue to flow ceaselessly, they increase in the process of attempting to stop them. This process could eventually lead to a situation similar to the Yellow River bursting its banks, where all desires and thoughts flood the mind and destroy our efforts of cultivation overnight. Thus, the Tantric practitioner who practises Mahamudra must understand the three phases of cultivation, where one first stills thoughts, and if thoughts are unstoppable, then one lets the thoughts run their course. Finally, we transform discursive thoughts into thoughts of observation. This is the right way to practise.
A monk once told me that when he was cultivating the method of stilling his thoughts, he was unaware of the method of diversion. Whenever a discursive thought arose, he would slap himself once. Eventually his face became swollen, but it helped little to stop his thoughts. Later, he took a needle and pricked himself whenever he had to stop his thoughts. But still this did not stop his thoughts. Finally he thought of cutting his penis. I told him even if he should cut off his penis it would not help to reduce his discursive thoughts. Do you really think that by becoming a eunuch you will not think sexual thoughts? Eunuchs think sexual thoughts more than anyone else; we call this the bare itch. The only way to deal with discursive thoughts without hitting them is to first still the mind. And when this does not work, switch to the approach of letting thoughts run freely. After some time doing this, switch to the approach of studying the buddha statues to appreciate their sanctity, and divert your thoughts in a natural way. By adopting this approach you will not become attached.
The fourth wrong path to take is an obsession with multiple practices. There are many practices in Tantrayana. A practitioner may prefer one practice over another and become fickle, adopting different practices at different times. Even his or her choice of principal deity may change all the time, and eventually the individual cant make up his or her mind which principal deity to follow.
Today, I, the Holy Red Crown Vajra Guru, have transmitted many Tantric methods, and those which have yet to be transmitted number in the thousands. If I should decide to transmit everything and let the readers learn all of them, a hundred lifetimes would not be sufficient to cultivate all these practices. At the same time, the individual would not gain any spiritual response. The practitioner only needs to pick the one practice which most suits his or her nature and cultivate it. Once the practitioner gains yogic response, it is only natural that he or she will gain responses with other practices. This is a key point.
He who receives the Mahamudra has long realized this truth. All his or her actions are of the Mahamudra, and are completely absorbed in the state of Spontaneous or Essence Mahamudra (Sahaja Mahamudra). This is liberation. This form of liberation is called the dharma is really no dharma. All these practices can be put aside, for his or her every action in life constitutes all dharma. The individual abides perpetually in the state of liberation, and his or her expression of all dharma is done for the sake of sentient beings. This is the most important attitude held by a realized person. Thus, putting on a shirt is Mahamudra. Releasing oneself in the toilet is Mahamudra. Washing ones hands is Mahamudra. Thus, an obsession with multiple practices is itself a delusion. I just want to remind you not to be obsessed with multiple practices. Remember well! Remember well!
CHAPTER 22 - The Levels of Mahamudra
Once, in my meditation, I went on a pilgrimage to Mount Wutai. Mount Wutai is located in the north east of Wutai County in Shanxi Province. It is also known as Qing Liang Shan, the Cool and Pleasant Mountain. It is one of the four famous mountains in China, which are the Mount Wutai (which is considered the Pureland of Manjusri Bodhisattva), Mount Emei (which is considered the Pureland of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva), Mount Jiuhua (which is considered the Pureland of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva), and Mount Putuo (which is considered the Pureland of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva). In an earlier chapter, I mentioned my trip to Mount Putuo during a deep meditation where I met the Immortal Varsi.
At Mount Wutai, I saw the cluster of five majestic peaks protruding through the clouds. It is a place where snow covers the land throughout the year. There are no trees or grass on the mountain peaks, except for the formation of five rock platforms. I believe this is how Mount Wutai (which means the five terraces) obtains its name. I saw the Mingyue Pond and Kuanhai Temple, and paid homage at the Longquan Temple.
At the South Platform, I paid homage at the Pishan Temple and Guangji Temple. I found that the land formation of Mount Wutai was simply fantastic, as the East Platform, West Platform, South Platform and North Platform are towering, while the Central Platform is much lower by comparison. The North Platform is especially high. The whole formation of Mount Wutai looks exactly like a natural lotus blossom. This mountain is associated with many legends and strange occurrences, such as the appearance of fragrant clouds, shadows of light, aureolas, manifestations of arhats, lotus flowers and so forth. These are religious legends that have moved people.
To make a pilgrimage to Mount Wutai in a deep meditation was itself a mark of rare affinity. When I was standing before the Longquan Temple, I was astonished to see the souls of eight youths (kumaras) at play. Naturally, these eight youths are beyond human vision. I was rather surprised at this sighting, and noted that each youth had three hair knots tied on his head, wore celestial garments; and held different implements in his hands. They stood on lotus flowers and were chasing each other.
Among the retinues of Manjusri are these eight youths who represent the eight wisdoms of Manjusri. They are stationed around the Astadala (8 Petal) Court of the Womb Mandala. These eight youths surround Manjusri. In the northeast is Kesini; in the southeast is Upakesini; in the east is Citrah; in the southwest is Vasumati; in the north is Akarsani; in the south is Jaliniprabha; in the west is Vimalaprabha, and in the northwest is Acintyamati. Once I shouted loudly, the eight youths noticed my presence.
They flew towards me, and Acintyamati, his hands holding a precious stick, bowed towards me and said, `So it is you, White Padmakumara from the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds in Sukhavati.` The rest of the seven youths were just as surprised and shouted, ` It`s White Padmakumara! It`s White Padmakumara!?
Kesini - Accomplished through no thought.
Upakesini - Accomplished through the merits of generosity.
Citrah - Accomplished through constant stability of the body of form.
Vasumati - Accomplished through the giving of wealth to aid the poor.
Akarsani - Accomplished through vows of delivering sentient beings.
Jaliniprabha - Accomplished through the absorption of light through his great compassion.
Vimalaprabha - Accomplished through the pure light of great wisdom.
Acintyamati - Accomplished through the purest, most supreme and all-pervading wisdom.
They asked me, ` What brought you here, Padmakumara?`
`As I entered into meditation, I travelled throughout celestial realms and places. As I am now writing the book Highest Yoga Tantra and Mahamudra for the world, I am here to build a bridge of good affinity between heaven and earth,' I said.
Then the eight youths revealed to me the four levels of Mahamudra:
The first level is `warmth`. When one ignites the fire within the body, this is `ignition`. This spot of fire is seated right at the base of the central channel. Once this fire is ignited, it rises along the central channel and burns through every channel knot. When this fire burns the channel knots in our bodies, it is as good as burning away our karma. The fire burns away the heart of lust, discursive thoughts, and all attachments. As each channel knot burns away, our cultivation power increases proportionately.
At this stage the body feels warm. If the body feels cold, then something has gone wrong. A good measure is one of comfortable warmth which corresponds with a spiritual state of ultimate bliss. The rising of the inner fire can assist the Tantric practitioner to see the ` True Reality of Mahamudra`. Whatever is to be gained or has yet to be gained hinges on the ignition and growth of this inner fire.
The second level deals with `breaking`. When the inner fire rises to the area of the spiritual eye, it produces light. When the spiritual eye radiates light, this is the spiritual eye practice of attaining realization through meditation. This great luminosity will `break` all darkness, at which time the `true reality` is completely revealed within this light of the spiritual eye. Thus one gains the third eye. Subsequently, by `breaking` or `opening` the crown, every phenomenon of the universe is completely revealed before the individual`s eyes, and nothing remains hidden from one`s sight. This `breaking` is attributed to the progressive `warmth`. For with this `warmth` comes ` breaking`; without it nothing happens. Once one reaches this second level which deals with `breaking`, one arrives at the ` Realization of Mahamudra`.
The progress from gaining `warmth` to achieving `breaking` depends completely on one`s ability to remain `concentrated`. Naturally there will be some mara hindrances, for the Tantric practitioner must clearly recognize the fact that the journey of cultivation is spotted with many detours, and remain cautious.
The third level involves `preservation`. Although this is an effort in itself, it is one which is not governed by any sluggishness, but progresses with joy. Many things are experienced between the levels of ` warmth` and `breaking`. If one aspires to deliver sentient beings, one must learn to `tolerate`, for mara is capable of entering into the hearts of sentient beings and creating many negative situations to disrupt the practitioner. You will be caught in a battle between the forces of mara and buddha. There will be many who slander you, for you will attract the jealousy of the great celestial mara who will enter into the hearts of secular monks and make them turn around and cause you harm. This is similar to the case of the monk Xuanzang of the Tang dynasty who went to India to obtain the sutras. The legend states that all the demons wanted to taste his flesh. At this stage, should Tantric practitioners wish to abide in the ` unhindered mind` and reach the state of tranquillity, unaffected by any outer influence, they should remain in the level of ` preservation`, where they always remain firm in their cultivation effort. With this effort, your transcendental wisdom shines forth and your spiritual conviction gets strengthened. When a person can uphold their cultivation and be tolerant, he or she displays great strength of concentration.
While abiding in this spiritual state, it is inevitable that a practitioner will attract slander from other Buddhists, and even some pseudo Tantric masters will be malicious. However, it is important that when we enter into the transcendental supreme practice, we must maintain a state of `preservation` in our cultivation effort, and not be affected by anything, so that we may step onto the wonderful path of Mahayana and receive the true heart seal. Only then can we truly abide in self-nature.
The fourth level is `attainment`. The practitioner who attains the supreme dharma is an individual whose light is merged with the light of the supreme consciousness. This is the so-called state of Nirvana. However, it is necessary that the Tantric practitioner transform the `supreme bliss of tranquillity of Nirvana` into the `supreme realized dharma bliss of bodhi`. While it is true that the individual is no longer subject to the bondage of cyclic existence, he nevertheless moves among all kinds of entanglements; his wisdom eye opens to observe all things, and still he finds himself abiding in the trouble-free lightness of absolute realization. This is indeed an extraordinary state of realization.
He who reaches this spiritual state shall come to know that the face of bodhi is really unseen, that this is the reality in which all dharma is empty within the dharma realm, and this emptiness of dharma is essentially bodhi itself. There is no difference between the two. Such is the state of spirituality where the dharma cannot be spoken, any spoken words are as good as unspoken, and where silence speaks just as loudly. This is the supreme perfect enlightenment which is the perfection of the true reality of all dharma, and it is also the realized state of Mahamudra.
CHAPTER 23 - The True Significance of the Master
The meaning of the word Master as described in this chapter is used only in a narrow sense, not the broad meaning, for it refers only to my personal thoughts, that is, the thoughts of Holy Red Crown Vajra Guru.
A true master expounds on truth and principles. Besides his own view, he also speaks of principles that others hold. Through the mode of rational thinking, the master reaches into the rational world, where what is right is right, and what is wrong is wrong. Thus the master gains complete objectivity in his thoughts.
To my knowledge, peace and violence are always in opposition where the world is concerned. Yet these things are still subjective. To obtain the true state of peace one must resort to a rational approach. However, human beings are bound by ignorance and are usually impulsive. Human emotion often finds release through violence, in which case one loses the basis of being rational.
I always advocate a rational approach employing reason, knowledge, and morality as means to advance the order of human life. On the personal level, one must build and nurture one`s character. When it comes to expounding the truth, it is meaningful if others are convinced through reason. Thus my judgments on people and things are based on a foundation of reason.
When I preach the buddhadharma, it is inevitable for me to have arguments with people with different opinions. When the Buddha was preaching the buddhadharma in his times, he had frequent debates with the Brahmin and ascetic monks. I feel that all arguments that arise from reasoning must also be settled in the domain of reason. The approach to resolving problems lies in reason.
The Master is the manifestation of non-anger and non-aggression. The qualities of generosity and tolerance are meant to teach human beings how to resolve negativity. Sakyamuni Buddha, in his accounts of his previous lifetimes, told of how he saved the lives of eagles and tigers by feeding them with his flesh and body, and how he showed no remorse towards people who criticized and hurt him.
I strongly feel that the reason human beings are always in dispute with each other is the result of this thing called `negativity`, which turns into hatred. This is the ignorance of sentient beings, manifesting as a strong attachment to the individual ego. Thus, as the Master teaches the buddhadharma, he wants to actualise the path of reason, for any dispute can be resolved through rational exchange, and it is not necessary to resort to violence. Buddhadharma is about respect for life, offering compassion to all beings, and certainly not killing them!
When the Master enters into a debate, he acts with love and compassion, approaching it with reason, and acting with tolerance. When it comes to speaking the truth, his words are firm and just, and charged with power. Yet his intention, even in reprimanding, is one of deep love. Reprimands are done simply to illustrate thoughts of peace, and remove all hatred.
Those who listen to me shall be liberated. Those who do not are without affinity. This is the very thought and objective of the Holy Red Crown Vajra Master when he delivers sentient beings through his writings.
It is seen within the teachings of the Highest Yoga Tantra and Mahamudra that the living guru who transmits the Mahamudra is tantamount to being the manifestation of Sakyamuni Buddha Himself. When we respect and honour the Master, we are also respecting and honouring Sakyamuni Buddha.