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1990-09-19@THE LINEAGE OF TRUE BUDDHA SCHOOL
By Grand Master Sheng-Yen Lu.
Translated by Jason Yam, Edited by K. McClaskey and Steve Quan
(Reference: TBS Student's Handbook)

Until now, the True-Buddha School has simply maintained a name for myself and my disciples; the name identifies us as a group of people who do our practice together. We are scattered all over the world and are not formally organized. Only recently have we established a location in Redmond Washington, which is dedicated solely to our practice in the United States. Frankly, I do not wish us to be formally organized. My thinking is that the True-Buddha School represents a formless practice which allows every person to receive the truly beneficial Buddha Dharma. This Dharma enables one to transcend life and death, awaken to the Original Nature, and practice the Bodhi way. Each person has their path to cultivate to achieve Buddhahood.

I started my practice with Taoism. Therefore, all my students must show respect to the Taoism's Three Purity Masters, the deities of the celestial world, and the gods who oversee the karmic laws of our world. In particular, my students must show respect to my spiritual teacher Sir Three-Mountains-Nine-Realms (San Shan Jiu Hou), and my Taoist teacher Hermit-of-Purity. One must not slander Taoism just because he or she practices another dharma. In fact, the expression still waters run deep rightfully characterizes Taoism. If one doesn't enter the door of Taoism, one can never understand the vastness of its teachings, which leads to the Unification of the Universe. One should not jump to the conclusion that Taoism is one of the heresies criticized by Buddhism. When Shakyamuni Buddha criticized the heretics, he was referring to Brahmanism and other religions in India; he was not directing his criticism at the Taoism of China. I myself hold the prestigious title of Taoist Master.

In addition to Taoism, I practiced Sectarian Buddhism for more than ten years and took the Bodhisattva vows. All True-Buddha practitioners can practice according to the Pure Land teachings or the teachings of other sects and learn from their venerable masters. I consider all forms of Sectarian Buddhism and all schools in Tantric Buddhism to be of the same importance, as are their respective teachings. Each individual has his or her own ability and potential, and so there are 84,000 different types of practice to suit every kind of individual. We must pay respect and homage to all masters of Sectarian Buddhism. I am also an Upasaka who took the Bodhisattva vows.

I have finally come to rest in Tantric Buddhism. The practice of Tantra is to turn the three unwholesome karmas into the three secrets. It is a mystic dharma which enables one to perfect the All-reflecting Buddha-Wisdom. True-Buddha practitioners pay homage to Padmasambhava as he is the first lineage holder of the Tibetan Tantra. After receiving a secret empowerment from the 16th Karmapa, I entered into the sea of Vairocana; thereafter, I started transmitting the Dharma to my disciples, and my title became the ''Holy-Red-Crown-Vajra-Master.''

Although the True-Buddha School is not formally organized, there are many followers from all over the world who have taken refuge in it. I want every disciple to remember the following three points:
  1. The practice of the True-Buddha School is a combination of Taoism, Sectarian Buddhism, and Tantric Buddhism. The creation of the True-Buddha School is an answer to the needs of contemporary living beings. It is suited to modern people and it introduces a practice that is second to none. We can expect extraordinary success in spreading the Buddha Dharma in the future.
  2. Those wishing to propagate the True-Buddha Dharma must have the qualifications of master (acharya). There are two types of masters. One type is comprised of those who are acknowledged as masters by their root guru. The second type of master consists of those persons who are able to ''awaken to Original Nature and transcend life and death'' during their practice. Their qualification as masters is approved by their personal deity (yidam); that is, their personal deity manifests itself to them and certifies them to be masters. (This manifestation must have really happened if a person claims to be a master in this fashion. If a person makes false claims, he or she will descend into the deepest hell, Avici, and remain there forever.)
  3. Those who are acknowledged as masters by their root guru still need to practice Taoism, Sectarian Buddhism and Tantra for many years. They are qualified to be teachers of others only if they, after inspection by their root guru, are found to understand the Dharma, cultivate the Dharma, realize the Dharma, and have real spiritual experience. Without these qualities, they might bring disrepute to our School and again, might fall down into the deepest hell.
A master of our school must not take a person as his student if this person has already taken refuge in this master's root guru. This is to avoid confusion in the lineage of our School. Please remember this point, as it is of utmost importance.
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