A Complete & Detailed Exposition on the True Buddha Tantric Dharma (8)
Master and fellow cultivators, good afternoon. Today is the fourth day of the Complete and Detailed Exposition on the Buddha Tantric Dharma. Before the teaching, I would like to briefly discuss the subjects of "Buddhahood by Guidance" and "Buddhahood in the Present Body".
There was an eminent Buddhist monk who, during one of his Dharma teachings, was asked by many people if it would be possible to attain "Buddhahood in the present body". This eminent monk replied, "Practically, there is no such thing as Buddhahood in the present body." So-called Buddhahood in the present body" is most likely a fib." One can deduce from his answer that this monk had not given much thought to the question, because this reply he gave was equivalent to reprimanding Buddha Shakyamuni. As we all know, the enlightenment of Buddha Shakyamuni is a perfect example of “Buddhahood in the Present Body”. While in samsara, sitting under the papal tree, Shakyamuni caught a glimpse of the Luminous Star [the nature of mind], directly recognized the pure nature of being, and thus became a Buddha. When this eminent Buddhist monk announced that there was no such thing as: “Buddhahood in the Present Body”, that it was just a fib, was he not accusing Buddha Shakyamuni of not really attaining Buddhahood in samsara, and that the while incident was just a hoax?
Buddhahood in the Present Body is Possible
There are also some people who think this way: Buddha Shakyamuni was an exceptional being of incomparable faculties who could achieve “Buddhahood in the Present Body” after many lifetimes of spiritual practice; however, it would be impossible for ordinary cultivators to attain instant awakening. Again, from that eminent monk’s point of view, all the billions of other sentient beings are denied the chance to achieve “Buddhahood in the Present Body”.
And yet Buddha Shakyamuni reached the realm of Buddhahood directly from the realm of men. With a foundation built upon many samsaric lifetimes of spiritual cultivation, there definitely comes one lifetime wherein one may directly ascend to become a Buddha.
What then is the different between “Buddhahood in the Present Body” and “Buddhahood by Guidance”? I will address this later. Did anybody else, besides Buddha Shakyamuni, directly realize Buddhahood in the human realm? Yes, Nagarjuna and Ashvaghosa are such examples, and so are many other Bodhisattvas. However, attaining “Buddhahood in the Present Body” is not confined to those in the human realm. For example, the Adi or Primordial Buddha attained “Buddhahood in the Present Body” from the Fourth Immaterial Heaven [where there is neither thinking nor not-thinking] within the Formless Realm. The Great Sun Tathagata or Vairocana Buddha attained “” from the Mahasvara Heaven within the Realm of Form. Buddha Shakyamuni attained “Buddhahood in the Present Body” while in the samsaric realm of men. These are just some example of “Buddhahood in the Present Body”, human or otherwise.
Tantrayana teaches the practice of “Buddhahood in the Present Body” while exoteric schools generally teach the practice of “Buddhahood by Guidance”. What then is the difference between these two phenomena?
Buddhahood by Guidance
The secret of exoteric schools’ “Buddhahood by Guidance” lies in the practice of “a single –minded concentration”. It is recorded in the Amitabha Sutra that, when one is dying one can chant the name of Amitabha with a single-minded concentration for one to seven days. Amitabha Buddha will then manifest before one to lead one to His Pure Realm of Sukhavati. There is a similar practice in Tantrayana called the Buddhahood in Seven Days. In this practice, one constantly visualizes oneself transforming into the seed syllable HUM, and the Buddha is envisioned as the Syllable AH. For one to seven days, one visualizes this AH descending from above, with the hook hooking through the circle part of the HUM and pulling the HUM up towards the heavens. This is the Buddhahood in Seven Days Method taught in Tantric Buddhism. Nevertheless, whether it is the Scriptural Seven Days or Tantric Seven Days Method, it is still a “Buddhahood by Guidance” method.
Yesterday, I described how a Buddhist practitioner who is very skillful in the practice of chanting, be it the chanting of a mantra or Amitabha’s epithet, can attain a level of continuous pure consciousness which will invoke Amitabha into manifestation when one dies. When such practitioner closes his or her eyes at the critical moment of death, Amitabha will manifest to direct the consciousness from the dying body to His Pure Land. A more advanced approach within the scriptural tradition is to chant while visualizing the image of Amitabha. This is a method that surely can enable one to arrive at the Sukhavati through the guidance of Amitabha.
Nowadays, the goal of most Buddhist is “Buddhahood by Guidance”. Success in “Buddhahood by Guidance” requires a combination of both the “power of oneself” and the “power of the Buddha”. The latter refers to Amitabha’s vow that, as long as one chants his name single-mindedly for one to seven days. He will come to lead one to Sukhavati. What is the “power of oneself”? This refers to the effort one puts into the chanting of the Buddha’s name. When one is able to focus one’s mind on chanting without any distraction and if, at the moment of dying, one’s mind is still completely focused on Sukhavati and on Amitabha, then Amitabha will manifest to lead one away. This happened when the power which is generated from one’s own longing for Sukhavati reaches out and becomes connected with the power generated from the vow of Amitabha. This kind of liberation, which is achieved through coordination of “self-power” and “Buddha-power” is called” Buddhahood by Guidance”.
Buddhahood in the Present Body
What is “Buddhahood in the Present Body”? It refers to the achievement of Enlightenment and Buddhahood in the present life through a complete reliance on one’s self-power developed in spiritual practice. One directly realizes the supreme wisdoms of the Buddhas through transforming the ordinary obscured mind into the pure unobscured nature of mind. The karmic distortions of ordinary body, speech, and mind are purified to reveal the Transcendent Body, Speech, and Mind of the Buddhas. When one attains the secret of the Great Sun Tathagata which is the purification of body, speech, and mind, one’s ordinary mind is transformed into the five attainment of “Buddhahood in the Present Body”.
When one integrates one’s three dimensions of being with the Action, Expression, and Awareness of the Enlightened Ones, the result is a transformation of the ordinary i=human consciousness into the five great wisdom energies of the Buddha’s being. The three bodies of Buddhahood – Dharma Body, Bliss Body, and Emanation Body – are manifested through oneself. At the highest level of Tantrayana practice, when one completely identifies with the subtlest, most essential state of “Buddha Nature,” one attains “Buddhahood in the Present Body”. At such moment, one does not need to rely on the guidance of Amitabha, because one continuously experiences the Five Buddha Wisdoms and a complete liberation from within. Therefore Tantrayana is an extremely lofty practice as it enables one to achieve “Buddhahood in the Present Body”. Both “Buddhahood by Guidance” and “Buddhahood in the Present Body” are very great achievements, yet they belong to two different levels of practice.
The Assurance of Enlightenment through Tantric Practice
The path of spiritual cultivation if the most important and valuable path one can pursue during one’s life on earth. I hope everyone understands what “Buddhahood by Guidance” and “Buddhahood in the Present Body” are and the differences between them. Some students have expressed the feeling that they find “Buddhahood in the Present Body” too difficult to attain in this life and they would rather aim at achieving “Buddhahood by Guidance” when they die. That is all right. If one learns how to do the Deity, then I can assure that one will obtain “Buddhahood by Guidance” when one dies. If one decides that the Internal Practice of “chi, channels, and light drops:, the Highest Tantra, the Great Perfection, or the abolition of Duality is too hard to pursue, one should at least attempt to achieve communion with one’s Personal Deity through the Personal Deity Yoga.
In Tantra, if one attains a yogic response in the Four Preliminary Practices, the one has already laid down a foundation for “Buddhahood by Guidance.” So, if I don’t come to guide one when one dies, then it could be I am on vacation! [Audience laughs]. Actually this won’t happen because, when one attains yogic response in the Guru Yoga, Padmakumara, being a manifestation of the Dharma Body, will know when one is dying and will come to give guidance. Even if I am on vacation, the other manifestation of the Dharma Body, Padmakumara, will certainly come to guide one to the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds. If one achieves yogic response in the Personal Deity Yoga, the Personal Deity will definitely come to guide one to Sukhavati or the Personal Deity’s own Pure Land. One can see that the attainment of yogic response is a kind of assurance. Without a yogic response, there is no assurance. One surely knows that one has achieved yogic response when one chants constantly the Guru or Personal Deity’s mantra and, as soon as one closes one’s eyes, one can immediately see the Guru or Personal Deity in the mind’s eyes.
In order to realize “Buddhahood by Guidance”, one must practice until one achieves yogic response in the Personal Deity Yoga and is able to go to the Personal Deity’s Pure Land. When one achieves yogic response in the Guru Yoga, one is able to go to the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds. When one achieved a spiritual response in the Four Preliminary Practices, one already has laid down the groundwork for the realization of “Buddhahood by Guidance”. That is why in the practice of our True Buddha Tantric Dharma, one has to achieve a yogic response in the Four Preliminary Practice, the Guru Yoga, and the Personal Deity Yoga in order to be assured of “Buddhahood by Guidance”. Such a level of realization equals the level of realization that can be reached by the Sutrayana practice. In fact, such a realization in Tantric practice even exceeds that of the Sutric school because, in addition, we practice entering into Samadhi!
Today I am going to discuss how to enter into Samadhi. Samadhi means inner stability developed through formal meditation. The Pure Land School, of course, also uses the term meditation, but in the sense of simple recitation and single-minded concentration on rebirth in the Western Pure Land. In truth, this single-minded concentration is a kind of stability! In our True Buddha daily practice, one is already practicing meditation and, when one becomes skillful in meditation, one will be able to purify the faculties of body, speech, and mind, and transmute the ordinary obscured mind into the wisdom mind. In other words, through meditation, one can attain “Buddhahood in the Present Body”.
The Quickest Way to Instantaneous Enlightenment
One should be aware of the implication of “Buddhahood in the Present Body”. When one attains Buddhahood in this life, one’s ideas and concepts will differ radically from those held by the ordinary people of the world. An enlightened person soars to a very lofty and transcendent realm of consciousness wherein the manifest world is no more than a speck of dust or a grain of sand. How can one describe this? Some people liken it to a grain of sand returning to the mountain or a drop of water merging with the ocean. This kind of analogy, while perhaps not the most appropriate, at least can be easily understood. So, realizing the Buddha Mind or Enlightenment is like a grain of sand returning to the mountain or a drop of water returning to the ocean.
Once, a student of Guru Norras wanted his guru to teach him the quickest and easiest way to achieve Instantaneous Enlightenment, Holding a knife in his hand, this student threatened his guru, “Don’t be so wordy. Today I just want you to tell me the one practice that will swiftly bring Enlightenment to me.” He demanded that Guru Norras tell him right away. Under such circumstances, Guru Norras simple responded, “Take a deep breath and then exhale. While you breathe out, let your mind follow the outgoing breath. This way you will attain enlightenment.” Oh! It sounds very simple! Just inhale deeply, exhale, let the mind follow the breath out, and one will attain Enlightenment! It can be easily described, but it is hard to carry out. This is a method known as “Returning to Emptiness Method”. Is there anyone who is able to release the mind simultaneously with the outgoing breath? Indeed, when one’s mind goes out with the outgoing breath, one will truly attain Enlightenment!
Just consider this: the key of the Tantric Bardo Deliverance Practice (the Great Illusory Net Transformation Tantric Practice) relies solely on the release of the mind through the crown of the head at the time of death. The mind is the Buddha! When one’s mind (the subtle consciousness) follows the exhalation out, exiting through the crown, is that not liberation? What is most frightening is when the subtle mind cannot find any suitable exit at the time of death or when it is too obscured by habitual involvements to leave the human world and the physical body. When that happens, suffering and torment occur. Therefore, if one is able to completely let go of the body and transport the innate Buddha Mind out into the Universe in one breath, one will indeed attain Enlightenment. The words of Guru Norras contain a profound truth, but it will take a great deal of practice before one is able to transport one’s mind out with one’s breath.
Entering Into Samadhi
Good! We will now discuss the methods of how to enter into Samadhi. [[[Grand Master Lu]] rings the bell]. In my books and practice notes, I often mentioned that one first has to do the Nine Round Buddha Breath Exercise and then the Inner Fire Exercise before entering Samadhi. Actually one only needs to perform the Nine Round Buddha Breath and may save the Inner Fire Exercise for when one embarks on the Internal Practice. If one is already proficient in igniting the inner fire, then one may include this step in the liturgy. However, if one’s inner fire is not yet kindles or, instead of inner fire, if one actually has an inner frost which practically makes it impossible for the fire to be lit, then one will only feel coldness all over when one does this visualization during the practice. The effort will be spent in vain. Therefore, one should first do the Nine Round Buddha Breath Exercise and postpone the Inner Fire Exercise to the stage of Internal Practice.
What is Samadhi? Samadhi is “inner stability” or “inner stillness”, which is the goal for sitting meditation! Therefore Samadhi is extremely important. In Buddhism, there is the “Study of the Three Non-outflows” wherein one aims to attain disciplines (abiding in precepts), stability, and wisdom. Why does one have to have disciplines? It is so that one can obtain stability. Why does one practice asceticism? It is so that one can obtain stability. Why does one practice non-asceticism? It is also so that one can obtain stability. There are many practice methods, and all their goals are aimed at achieving the state of stability. From stability or stillness, the supreme wisdom or Transcendent Awareness is generated. Without stability, one cannot secure wisdom.
Many people say that they cannot practice stillness or meditation, as their minds are always racing in different directions and remain confused. Instead of always in focused concentration. They are always distracted. When one is distracted and confused, will wisdom be generated? When one is psychologically disoriented, emotionally unbalanced, and physically tense, the innate wisdom is temporarily dispersed and lost, and one will commit many acts that are unreasonable and even unlawful. In moments of confusion, one will commit all kinds of outrages. A person who abides in an inner stability handles every single matter with the supreme wisdom that is generated from this inner stability. There is no problem that cannot be solved when one approaches it with wisdom. Without this inner stability, such wisdom or insight will not be produced. All Five Buddha Wisdoms manifest from inner stillness.
Disciplines Give Rise To Stability
The purpose of disciplines is to secure stillness. Therefore those spiritual cultivators who practice renunciation and asceticism in the Himalayas, India, Tibet, and other remote areas are all seeking this state of stillness. In Buddhism, if one has obtained this stillness, one will no longer be bound by disciplines. The purpose of disciplines is to generate this stillness so, when one truly knows what stillness is, one can transcend the limit of disciplines. This is very profound. It does not mean that one does not have to observe the disciplines anymore, nor does it mean that one can be unruly and acts arbitrarily; the inner stability will be lost. Once this inner stability or equilibrium is lost, wisdom will remain hidden. From this standpoint alone, it would be wrong to abandon the disciplines. So I say this: if one can remain centered in this inner stability, one does not have to be bound by the disciplines; if one cannot remain centered in this inner stability, one must continue to observe the disciplines. This is a profound truth.
Some students have criticized me for singing karaoke, dancing Tango, and drinking liquors – actions which I have done in the post but don’t do anymore. They commented, “How can a guru have such indulgences?” They found such actions offensive and wrote me notes asking to quit doing them. They were trying to supervise me! [Audiences laugh]. It is not easy to be a master, I would rather be the student since, besides writing notes to the master, I could make transgressions without letting the master do anything about it. [Audience laugh]
The question is: can one remain centered in one’s mind after consumes alcohol? If one still has control of one’s mind, then it is all right – one is not drunk. But then, many drunkards also claim “I am not drunk!” [Uproar of audience laugh] I, indeed, was able to remain centered and was not drunk. This is the first point. If one does not became drunk, then one can drink. If one drinks, loses control, and breaks the precepts, the one should not drink! When I drink, I am able to remain mindful, so I can drink!
When I was young and living in Kaohsiung, I used to go dancing at the Shirley Dancing Club, which was downstairs from the Hou Te Fu Restaurant by the side of the Love River. The dancing club has since been relocated to the Ling Ya District. I was in my early twenties and quite infatuated with dancing! For example, even if I had gone dancing the day before, the next day I would be waiting to see if some buddy would want my company to go dancing. The dancing girls will all wore close-fitting cheongsams, which revealed their curvaceous figures, and their make-up and perfumes exuded strong fragrances. One’s sense organs were deluged by the smells, images, and tactile sensations. There were the sensations from hands touching and from close body contact. [Audience laugh] In Taiwan’s dancing clubs, a piece of music with a quick tempo, such as disco, was usually played first. This was followed by a Tango, then a slow piece, such as the blues, and then the Pattern would be repeated. During the blues, the slow dance, all the lights would be dimmed and the dancing girl would lean towards one, even if one didn’t lean towards her. [Audience laugh] It couldn’t be helped as it was so dark that one could not see very well and had to grope around. When one went home, the mind would be perturbed and be filled with the infatuated thoughts. At such a moment, it would be very easy to lose one’s mindfulness.
Buddhism teaches that one should not visit pornographic shops, dance clubs, or nightclubs. The main reason for this is that it is very easy for one to lose the disciplines or mindfulness in such places. However, if one can remain centered while dancing and regard the dancing as a form of exercise and if, as soon as one goes to bed, one is able to fall asleep without any thought of the dancing - if one still maintains one’s mindfulness – then it is all right to dance. If one goes to nightclubs to hear or to sing songs and, when one d=goes home, one does not dwell on the nightclub, if songs do not continue to swirl inside one’s mind, then one may continue to go to nightclubs. If one does not become infatuated with the melodies in the nightclubs, nor with the beautiful women in the dancing clubs, then one may visit these clubs and consider them an embellishment of life.
But I also have been asked by a student, “Grand Master if you are not infatuated with the songs and dances, then why do you visit clubs?” Well, his question does make some sense. Do I have to visit those clubs? Since what he said make a valid point. I don’t go to clubs anymore. [Audience laugh]
The fact is, I can either go or not go and, by this I mean, I am completely free. When the situation of visiting these clubs presents itself, I remain centered, whether I go or not. Because of the ability to remain centered, then, one is still observing the precepts and does not become bound by the precepts.
I did not have this inner stability when I was young. To be candid, there was a period of time in my twenties when I was once vulnerable to seductive influences. Anyway, this was my past. Do I now become infatuated at all? No, it is not possible, not even if the greatest seduction presents itself. Perhaps it is futile to make such a statement, as you might not believe me. [Audience laugh] The truth is, when one generates this authentic inner stability in the practice of Tantrayana, one can engage in the practice of the Highest Tantra. However, if one does not have this inner stability, then let me tell you, it will instead result in the birth of a baby.
There is a level of practice among the highest Tantric practices that only people who have arrived at an inner stability can engage in. This level is, in general, not divulged to people who have not reached such a level in Tantric practices. It is a breaking of the percepts to divulge it. A person who has truly reached this level abides in the precepts without being ruled by them. It is a realm that differs completely from ordinary and worldly customs, conventions, and laws. Under those conditions, such as a person is still abiding by the percepts because he still is. From disciplines, one enters into this inner stability which enables one to abide continuously in the pure nature of mind. It is very simple – when one obtains and maintains this stability, it is equivalent to observing all the precepts. It is an extraordinary power.
Manifestations of Samadhi
What is Samadhi? Samadhi is inner stability. How does one achieve Buddhahood and Liberation? In Samadhi, many people claim that they already have achieved this stability and, therefore, no longer have to observe the precepts. These people need to face their individual conscience and test it to see if they indeed can maintain this stability. When one attains this inner stability, one’s body is completely enveloped by a layer of “chi” which is surrounded by fire and then light. This power generated through Samadhi allows one to manifest in multiple bodies and appear in different locations at the same time. Therefore, one simply cannot cheat oneself It is easy to make false claims, but one must face one’s conscience and ask oneself if one, indeed, has attained this stability? It should be self-evident! Does one still have outflows? Outflows include the outflow of the physical light drops [in the form of sexual fluids] and the outflow of wisdom [in the form of attachments and afflictions]. How can one still have worries if one has achieved this stability? If one is continuously in Samadhi, how can one have any outflows? If one still has outflows, the one has not reached the state of stability in Samadhi.
One might say, “Well, I am sometimes in Samadhi, sometimes not in Samadhi!” [Audience laugh] Perhaps one is able to maintain centered in daytime, but not at night. If one says, “Usually I am also able to remain centered at night, except that about once a month I lose control,” then, in that case, one still has outflows! One cannot be considered to have achieved true stability. It is only an occasional manifestation of a first level Samadhi.
There are four levels of Samadhi: the so-called Initial Samadhi, the subtle Samadhi, the most subtle Samadhi, and the Firm, Impeccable Samadhi. What is the Firm, Impeccable Samadhi? It is characterized as immovable, powerful, and indestructible. To be impeccable is to be without any errors! In other words, without any outflows! There is no loss of wisdom in the form of mental anxiety or emotional afflictions and no loss of seminal essence – this is impeccable state. Only when one is able to attain this Firm, Impeccable Samadhi may one be considered to have obtained the true inner stability. Samadhi is inner meditative stability, and today I am sharing my inner experience of this state with all of you.
The Posture of Meditation
After the mantra recitation, one is ready to enter into Samadhi. What kind of mudra does one employ in entering into Samadhi? This is the mudra [the thumb and index finger of each hand form a circle while the other three finger extended] which is place on the knees while one assumes a Half Lotus, Full lotus , or Easy Posture. [[[Grand Master]] demonstrates]. This posture embodies the perfection of Universe Being.
One may also form the Meditation Mudra by bringing the two hands together, with either the left hand on top of the right hand or vice versa [the thumb and index of each hand still forming a circle]. Having one hand above the other embodies the relationship between the elements of water and fire. Having the hands on the knees represents that both the body and mind are in a relaxed state, and are merged into the Universe, and the whole Universe completely embodies one. This other mudra is also acceptable. [[[Grand Master]] demonstrates with the thumb and middle finger forming a circle].
In any of the above body postures, the tongue should be touching the upper palate. The significance of this is that when touching the upper palate, the tongue serves as a conduit for the heavenly nectar [“white “awareness drop”] flowing down from the brow point. Regarding the postures: in both the Half Lotus and Full Lotus positions, the middle channel is straight; in the Easy Posture, the middle channel is curved. In the future, when I teach the Internal Practice, I shall explain in detail how the middle channel can be affected by different postures. As I said, when one assumes the Easy Posture, the middle channel is curved. However, when one assumes the Half Lotus or Full Lotus position, the spinal column and the middle channel are erect and straight. I will explain the key point of this in the future, when I discuss the Internal Practice.