The Empowerment of the Three Lights
The empowerment of the three lights is to cleanse and restore the original integrity of one's body, mind, and speech. The process of cultivation is an ongoing purification of the mind. In this visualization, there are spiritual lights from the Siddhi, Buddha Nature, and Dharma Body shining upon one and purifying one's heart and mind ! Let me tell you, when one completely identifies oneself with this light, one no longer has to fear death. When one gets old and sick, running out of time, and actually about to die, what does one rely on at that moment? The moment one dies, the Pure Land and Amitabha will appear if one has developed this inner identification beforehand! That is what one has been training for during ordinary times. The Pure Land, Buddha Nature, Personal Deity
and Dharma Body will manifest themselves in front of one! Once one's eyes are shut and death comes, consciousness enters Sukhavati, just as in the visualization practice one does when one is alive. This is the most elementary method of achieving Buddhahood under the guidance of the Buddhas. When the Buddha Pure Land, one's Buddha Nature, and Dharma Body manifest, one then transforms into the Dharma Body and enters directly into the Buddha Pure Land to become a Buddha.
Sutrayana's method of chanting Buddha's name does not reach this level because this realm is reached only by combining visualization with chanting. One can chant "Namo Amitabha" day and night, but lacking visualization, then what actually comes is only mud, as mud [muddy consciousness is what one has in mind. Without visualization, one cannot enter Amitabha' s Pure Land. Although one may very sincerely chant "Namo Amitabha," without the practice of visualization Amitabha's image will not manifest and the three Holy Ones from Sukhavati (Amitabha, Kuan Yin, and Mahasthamaprata) will not manifest to guide one to the Pure Land. The chanting is useless then!
Only if Amitabha is very compassionate (not that Amitabha is not compassionate — He is innately compassionate) [audience laughter] and finds that one is indeed very sincere and has been devoting one's mind single-mindedly to chanting His name, will He say, "Very well, since you chant my name sincerely, even if your mind thinks only of mud, I will transform the mud into a lotus to bring you to my Pure Land." So a single-minded concentration is still requisite to the practice of chanting.
Chanting with an image in mind is the same practice as chanting while doing a visualization. When one has properly practiced this kind of method during ordinary times and knows exactly what one is doing, at the time of death, Amitabha will manifest to lead one to Sukhavati, and one will certainly be reborn in the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds. Compassionately, Amitabha will emit the three lights of white, red, and blue from the lotus held in His hands. These will shine upon [one's forehead, throat, and heart respectively] and empower one. This is the visualization, does everyone understand? There are many kinds of visualization that one can do, the visualizations of the "Moon Disc," "Seed Syllable," and "Personal Deity" are just what I have discussed today.
There are many different kinds of visualization. For example, in the Yellow Jambhala Yoga, one must visualize the Five Dhyani Buddhas in addition to the Yellow Jambhala, who is suffering from a swollen, right big toe. One then chants the Empowerment Mantra of "Om hum, jen se oh" and visualizes five colored lights shining from the Five Buddhas on the Yellow Jambhala, causing the swelling in his toe to slowly subside. All at once, the Jambhala will be so happy that he starts ringing the bell, which is an expression of joy! Actually, I have not previously taught anyone about the bell ringing, so it is all right if one does not ring the bell, as long as one visualizes the Yellow Jambhala very happy with relief of the swelling in his toe.
When the Jambhala is happy, his mongoose will also be very happy and will open its mouth to spit out material wealth one desires, such as cars, houses, and American dollars! This is how I visualize the American dollars: bundles and bundles of them, like the ones collected in the bank at the end of the day. The bundles pile up like a mountain. One becomes very small in front of this mountain of money. How much money is there in such a pile? One should be happy when one thinks of that! [audience laughter] The Yellow Jambhala is also happy.
There are other kinds of special visualizations. For example, the Cundi Buddha Mother has three eyes and eighteen arms with eighteen hand-held implements. If one is able to visualize every single one of the implements, one is indeed very extraordinary. If I were the Cundi Buddha Mother, I would be impressed [audience laughter] and would exclaim, "How wonderful of you to visualize me so clearly and in such detail!" She would be very fond of anyone who could accomplish that.
In any case, during visualization, subtler thoughts bring a more peaceful awareness. The more one penetrates the subtle levels of the mind, the more completely one can achieve a quiet mind and a balanced breath. The more one penetrates into the subtle levels of the mind, the more one's awareness and sensitivity expand. The coarser one's mind is, the less one will experience such results. By a coarse mind, I refer to poor visualization, in which one does not care if the sky has clouds or if the ocean is polluted. [audience laughter]
One does not care about the moon disc at all! When the moon disc appears, half of it is missing! [audience laughter] Either the upper half or the lower half is gone. When the Personal Deity manifests, it looks like a Buddha and yet it does not quite look like a
Buddha. The same thing can be said about it in regard to its resemblance to a Bodhisattva or Dharma Protector. It is totally nondescript. [audience laughter] So after half a day of such a visualization, one feels nothing when the Deity bestows empowerment. When the visualization is done, one automatically starts to chant the mantra. Many people perform their visualizations in this perfunctory way.
The more detailed the visualization, the more profoundly and subtly will one be able to penetrate into the mind When one meditates with the most subtle consciousness, one will attain extraordinary results.
This complete Tantric Liturgy is classified as an external practice in Tantric cultivation. The other classes or levels are internal, esoteric, and inner-esoteric. The fruition of practice of each of these four levels correspond to the four Buddha realms in Sukhavati: the fruition of inner-esoteric practice is the Realm of Eternal Rest and Light, the fruition of esoteric practice is the Realm of Permanent Reward and Freedom, the fruition of internal practice is the Temporary Realm [where
the occupants have gotten rid of the evils of unenlightened views and thoughts, but still have to be reborn, and the fruition of external practice is the Realm Where Ordinary and Holy Beings Dwell. This is the classification within the four realms of Sukhavati.
What I have discussed so far is only the external practice! In terms of the Buddha Pure Lands, the four levels of inner-esoteric, esoteric, internal, and external practices translate into the Pure Land of Vairocana, the Avatamsaka Pure Land, the True Buddha Pure Land, and the Ultimate Bliss Pure Land. As these four classes of practice correspond to four different levels of practice, an external level practitioner will begin with the purifying of body, mind, and speech; an internal
level practitioner will move on to the Yoga of Energy and be working on the chi, channels, and light drops; an esoteric level practitioner will be working on the Yoga of Mahamudra; and an inner-esoteric level practitioner will abide in the Great Perfection Dzogchen.
Tantric practices are truly extraordinary! The realms reached by inner-esoteric, esoteric, internal, and external practitioners are respectively those of the Dharma Body, Fully Enlightened Ones, Bodhisattvas, and Arhats. However, this classification might not be the most accurate, as there can be some overlapping. I am generalizing somewhat in describing the different levels. In terms of the Three Bodies, Fully Enlightened Ones and beings residing in the Pure Lands are of the Bliss Body, the Emanation Body will be found in the Realm Where Ordinary And Holy Beings Dwell, and the Dharma Body will have to be reached by the inner-esoteric practice. Which aspect of the Three Bodies is Padmakumara? Padmakumara is the Bliss Body. How about Sheng-yen Lu? Sheng-yen Lu is the Emanation Body. Which aspect of the Three Bodies is Mahavairocana? The Dharma Body. Both Buddha Locana and Padmakumara are of the realm of the Bliss Body. Sheng-yen Lu is the Emanation Body. This is the division of the Three Bodies. Therefore, in our cultivation, there are four grades of practice: external, internal, esoteric, and inner-esoteric, which correspond to: the External True Buddha Tantric Practice, the Internal True Buddha Tantric Practice of chi, channels, and light drops, the Esoteric Practice of Mahamudra and Highest Tantra Yoga, and the Inner-esoteric Practice of Great Perfection. These are the grades of the path.
The next segment after visualization is mantra recitation. Grand Master Lu rings the bell.] Generally, when people get to this step, they will pick up the mala like this. Grand Master demonstrates.] Others might rest the mala on their laps and start chanting "Om ah-mi-deh-wa-seh, Om ah-mi-deh-waseh" while counting the beads. All these positions are incorrect.One should hold the mala in front of one's chest and concentrate on the recitation.
In the past I did not teach how one should recite and count the beads. It was entirely up to the person. We simply began by chanting "Om mani padme hum, Om mani padme hum" and stopped when we reached a set number of recitations.
So, what is the significance of mantra recitation? Mantra recitation is the purification of speech. A true practitioner also visualizes before recitation begins. I will explain, so everyonewill have a clear understanding of it!
First, as soon as the mala is picked up, the right hand is visualized turning into a vajra and the left hand into a bell. In a mala, there are four beads larger than the rest. As in this mala, Grand Master demonstrates] a mother bead and three other beads of red color separate the remaining beads into four segments. These four larger beads have to transform into the Four Deva-Kings. Visualize the Four Deva-Kings appear above the mala. How should one visualize the tassel of the mala? Some people call this the "whiskers." [audience laughter] Talking about whiskers, some people were discussing how the bronze statue here at the Rainbow Villa bears quite resemblance to me, and how the bronze statue at the Pootee Lei Tsang Temple [in Vancouver] is supposed to be even more lifelike.
But some children pointed out that all these statues are still not quite lifelike, as they all lack the "whiskers" that are growing out of my neck! [laughter] Going back to the tassel or "whiskers" of the mala, what is the associated visualization? It transforms into a lotus hand. Have you ever seen a lotus hand? It is a hand in the shape of a lotus blossom. I have seen such a sculpted object placed in a censer in a temple. It is a Buddha hand but it is also known as a lotus hand. So one visualizes the tassel turn into a lotus hand, the four larger beads into the Four Deva-kings, the right hand into a vajra, and the left hand into a bell. The thread that goes through the beads is visualized transforming into a circle of white light of the Vajrasattva (the primordial nature of the Vajrasattva).
After performing this visualization, one starts chanting, "Om, ah-mi-deh-wa-seh." During recitation, one also must visualize every single bead coming to the center in front of one and at the center of each bead is an Amitabha. I know this sounds quite cumbersome, but I don't think there are many occasions when one gets to hear Tantric practices being described in such detail. I myself have practiced this way for more than twenty years! The Supreme Consciousness of the Universe has taught me very carefully. Manjusri Bodhisattva, Tsongkhapa, Padmasambhava, Mr. Three-Peaks-Nine-States, and Taoist Master Ching Chen have explained each step very carefully to me. This kind of esoteric recitation is infinitely expansive, profound, subtle, and brings one the greatest achievement!
Students are accustomed to merely chanting the mantra one hundred eight times during this step of the practice and, when the chanting is finished, one puts the mala aside. But, apart from the purification of the speech through recitation, there is also the involvement of the mind and the body. While chanting, one is also forming the mudra — the vajra, bell, Vajrasattva string that threads through the mala, Four Devakings, Personal Deity, and lotus hand are the mudra! Isn't one purifying one's mind when one visualizes Amitabha inside each bead while reciting? Does not each "Om, ah-mi-deh-waseh" purify one's speech? This is the practice of the Unification of the Three Secrets, an excellent Tantric method that integrates the subtle levels of the mind. It is a complete Tantric practice, without any missing parts. It teaches one how to visualize, how to chant mantra, how to form mudra, and how to enter Samadhi.
What I have previously written in books is just an introduction to make the Tantric practice easier to understand prior to the teaching of the external practice. In the future, I will teach the internal practice, starting with the psychic heat yoga, which awakens the kundalini via the steps of "lowering, raising, holding, and dispersing." When I reach fifty, I will help students ignite the inner fire and open up the middle channel. However, even before I taught the external practice, many students had already given up their aspirations and left before I had the chance to teach them. The deal was called off! [audience laughter] I had not even started, yet many of them felt that they had already learned everything. How strange! There are many methods I intend to share and teach which cannot be hurried, but some students become impatient. They start having these diseases in their minds and bodies, these odd feelings that they have already learned everything.
Some students even commented, "Master Lu practices the same old thing every day inside the Tantric shrine, gesticulating and mumbling. Can Enlightenment be so simple? This must be a false Dharma. Can one really reach Enlightenment by practicing this way each day?" I have been asked this question and am deeply grieved. The point to understand is that I must assess the qualities and character of all of the students during their practice to determine whether they could engage the True Buddha Tantric Dharma practice. With this foundation it would then be possible to teach them the next higher level of practice. But before I could give a complete explanation of the first level of the external practice, many students already lost the will to cultivate and the "deal was off." A student who leaves is gone, and I cannot bring them back.
In reality, spiritual cultivation is a process that requires repeated tempering. Opportunists will not accomplish anything lasting because they lack a firm faith! Shallow people fall down when a casual breeze comes along. Frankly, our school has too many students and there is a need to cull the unworthy. At the end, only the pure, golden ones will remain for intensive training to reach Enlightenment. That is in fact the method employed by a Buddha to liberate the living beings.
If one lacks a strong faith, then no amount of argument will convince such a person. This is a matter of affinity. Perhaps this person, in his previous lifetimes, has not eaten any of the meals I have offered! [audience laughter] Therefore he or she does not have to pay anything back. Perhaps they want to make my life easier — fewer students means less trouble and more tranquility! Sometimes I feel very sad when I offer such a good thing to people and they don't want it. It is such a precious thing and still they don't want it. I am offering it free, and yet they refuse to accept it. This makes me want to cry my heart out, and it is the reason behind my grief.
I have attained self-mastery and am liberated and happy. All subconscious worries and anxieties are completely released by realization which merges the mind into the Universe, anextraordinary and transcendental state. There is no longer any phenomenon in the universe that can unbalance me. Now all I have is this warm and sincere desire to help sentient beings achieve liberation. It is due to this that I grieve and shed tears. What else is there to cause me to worry or for me to grasp onto? Today I ask everyone to reflect on what is there that one cannot let go of? Is it one's family, spouse, children, money, prestige, career, or health? All these things are only mundane and belong to the earth. Only spiritual cultivation can lead one to Enlightenment and Liberation.
Only when one comes upon the great Dharma and works diligently to reach the state of eternal life (of non-birth and non-extinction), will one be truly liberated from cares and worries. The One Mind transcends birth and death. What is the purpose of human life? Spiritual realization manifests as infinite bliss, and this is the greatest meaning of human life!
Yesterday at dinner I discussed a view I used to have. I used to think that I had to have a son who would inherit yfamily line from me, so that the Lu family would continue. This is a very traditional Chinese view. But when one brings one's son to America, all traditional hope is finished! He does not really attach the same kind of importance to his family name as his parents do. He will start a new root in America. He might marry a wife with blond hair and blue eyes and hi children might have blond hair and blue eyes. They will not be able to write the family name "Lu" in Chinese, as it will be written in English. Can one expect one's son to attach the same
kind of value to the preservation of the family name from generation to generation? No, not anymore. Here in America, he would not feel that it is an honor to be a descendant of the Lu family. Here, there is absolutely no such thing. Nor would he place any hopes on the younger generation with the same last name as his. No! This kind of traditional ideas will probably be gone in the first couple of generations after transplanting to America. They probably will not know from where their ancestors
originally came. The importance attached to passing from one generation to another is deeply rooted in traditional Chinese belief, as is evidenced by the recordkeeping of one's clan or family tree. However, when one brings one's son to America, the book of one's family tree might as well be thrown into the fireplace. In America, one cannot hold one's children against their will, as they can go to court and press charges against one. [audience laughter] Try to lock them up or hit them once, they will report it to their teacher, who will report it to the school, which will press charges against the parents and that would be terrible! [audience laughter]
Therefore one really cannot place any high expectations on one's children. I only hope that they will live well, and I think it would be very nice if they don't bring me any troubles. Take Fo Ching, my daughter, as an example. Sometimes I do worry about her. Why? Because her grades are too good. It is a nuisance because she wants to maintain a 4.0 grade point average. She has always gotten a 4.0 for her classes, which is a perfect record. She's never received even a 3.9. She said shewanted to trade in her old car for a new jeep. [audience laughter] I told her that she would have to meet one condition first: her grade point average would have to drop below 4.0, then I would buy the jeep for her. [audience laughter] "Don't maintain that 4.0 forever," I told her. "I get mad seeing that 4.0." [audience laughter] She works so hard in high school and joins so many clubs and organizations, volunteering for so many activities. In the evenings, she has to write essays, prepare study
notes, and do math. Because she is taking many courses and studying so hard, she feels a serious lack of time. That was why I took pity on her and told her that she did not have to maintain the 4.0, nor apply to Stanford, Harvard, or Yale! Well, she doesn't have to go to the "Ah Lu," which is Yale in Taiwanese! [audience laughter] She wants to go to Yale, Harvard, or Stanford, but I told her not to. I told her that going to the B.C.C., the Bellevue Community College, would be sufficient. [audience laughter] There is no need to go to a premier university.
As for Fo Chi, my son, this is what I told him. Grand Master turns to Master Lian-hsiang and asks.] "Would it be all right to talk about it here?" [Audience uproar of laughter] I told him that just graduating from high school was enough. [audience laughter] I want this child to live normally, and ask only that he support himself. One should not place too high hopes on him. Actually from my standpoint, I just want my children to develop naturally, without putting any limitations on them. I just hope they will live happily and normally This would be fine. As parents, our minds should be relatively at ease when these conditions are met. We should not demand
our children to achieve high honors to bring glorification to our family line. Such expectations are impossible, aren't they? Children growing up in America have their own ideas about life, and we should not try to control them.
By the same token, our school is also a free and democratic school. I seldom put any limitations on students, and they can come and go as they wish. I just want to say that Tantric practice is a way of life and technique for inner evolution. The True Buddha Tantric Dharma is very precious, and, when one comes in search of teaching, I will definitely teach the true, great Dharma that suits one's spiritual maturity. It is a matter of levels. For example, when one obtains a yogic response in the first level practice, then I definitely teach the second level practice. When one obtains a yogic response in the second level practice, then I certainly teach the third level practice.
The most important key to the meaning of human life lies in spiritual cultivation. With the availability of such an effective Tantric Dharma, I, of course, hope that everyone can accept it and practice it with perseverance. If a student claims a need for self-direction and freedom, I will not interfere, since I also advocate democracy and freedom. I am also a "naturalist" and yield to nature. Indeed, any individual' s development unfolds by natural law. In teaching everyone this Way, I have truly opened up my heart and soul, just as I have to the children.
So, being a "naturalist," my final conclusion is that those who have an affinity with the Dharma will come to hear the teaching, while those who lack such affinity will not. Similarly, those who practice seriously have strong affinity while those who practice perfunctorily have casual affinity. That is only natural. But I do emphasize that the True Buddha Tantric Dharma is a correct Dharma that is authentic, precious, and powerful.
Tomorrow I shall discuss how to enter into Samadhi. I also will talk about the Epilogue portion of the Liturgy, as the entire Liturgy is divided into Prologue, Main Body, and Epilogue. I also will discuss ritual implements. If there is sufficient time, I will discuss how these ritual implements, such as the vajra, bell, and the damaru are employed. The most important ritual implements in Tantrayana are the vajra, bell, mala, and the damaru, and these are quite sufficient for a Tantric practitioner. That concludes today's teaching.