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Dharma Talk on February 14, 2009 (The Three Requisites for Salvaging Sentient Beings)

2009-02-14 Lynnwood Convention Center
The Three Requisites for Salvaging Sentient Beings:
Compassion, Wisdom, and Dharma Power

度生三要 慈悲、智慧與法力

Grand Master Lu`s Dharma Talk at the Guanyin Bodhisattva New Year Blessing Ceremony held at Lynnwood Convention Center, Washington, U.S.A. on February 14, 2009.

Translated by Janny Chow
Edited by Christine Chan
True Buddha Translation Team


With reverence, we pay homage to Reverend Liaoming, His Eminence Sakya Zhengkong Rinpoche, His Holiness the Sixteenth Gyalwa Karmapa, Vajra Acharya Thubten Dargye, and the Triple Jewels at the shrine. We pay homage to all the buddhas, bodhisattvas, vajra dharma protectors, dakas, dakinis, and devas, and the Four-armed Guanyin. Ritual master (Master Liandeng), Shimu (Master Lianxiang), vajra masters, senior reverends, reverends, dharma instructors, dharma assistants, fellow school members, chapter directors, and students from across the internet. Auspicious greetings to all of you.

Today we are practicing the Four-armed Guanyin Sadhana. Earlier Master Liandeng referred to Guanyin Bodhisattva, the most compassionate bodhisattva, and to her boundless love, compassion, joy and equanimity. In Vajrayana Buddhism, there exists the triad of compassion, wisdom, and dharma power represented respectively by Guanyin, Manjushri, and Vajrapani. Practicing the Guanyin Sandhana here today is tantamount to making a huge, boundless offering. In this dharma ceremony, I am going to teach you the essence of the Four-armed Guanyin Sadhana.

In Vajrayana Buddhism, it is important to practice the Four-armed Guanyin Sadhana because this is one of the most important bodhisattvas in all of Vajrayana or Tibetan Buddhism. In Tibet, everybody chants Om Mani Padme Hum, just like people in China chant Amitofo. All of the highest Tibetan tulkus, including the karmapas and dalai lamas, are emanations of the Four-armed Guanyin.

Once you enter into the Tibetan region, you will see cairns of mani stones and walls carved with the Om Mani Padme Hum mantra. The dissemination of the Four-armed Guanyin teaching is widespread and her compassion is expansive and boundless. I have just read carefully the liturgy of the sadhana, and I want to point out that the visualization involved is of utmost importance.

As mentioned earlier by Professor Chu [a guest speaker], before you practice a sadhana, you must first empty your mind. Cleanse your karmic obstacles by extinguishing all of your fantasies and thoughts. This is emptying your mind. When all thoughts are subdued, in the empty space the seed syllable Ban (a circle above a square) appears. After this seed syllable Ban emerges, a lotus with the seed syllable Ah in its pistil appears. This Ah syllable then gives rise to a moon disc. At the center of the moon disc is the seed syllable Seh which is pronounced as Dree in Japanese Tantra. From this Seh syllable, Four-armed Guanyin emerges.
Those are the steps of visualization in this practice. When you visualize Guanyin appearing in the empty space, focus on her with your whole mind. Make her the only focus of your mind. This is a key point. Visualization of Guanyin is done in steps. First visualize Ban transforming into a lotus. Next visualize Ah transforming into a moon disc. Then visualize Dree or Seh transforming into Four-armed Guanyin. You must do the visualization in this order. If you do not, then you are just practicing the general Guanyin Sadhana and not the Four-armed Guanyin Sadhana. This is a very important point.

In the Tibetan form of Four-armed Guanyin, Guanyin’s two palms are pressed together holding a mani jewel. What is a mani jewel? A mani jewel is the most supreme wish-fulfilling jewel, the mani referred to in the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum. Her other left hand holds a white lotus while the other right hand holds rosary beads. The lotus symbolizes wisdom. What does the rosary represent? It represents the number of sentient beings receiving aid. With each counting of a rosary bead and each chanting of Om Mani Padme Hum, one sentient being is being delivered. All the hand implements have meaning, and that is why the four arms must be visualized clearly.

She is wearing a Five-Buddhas crown, and at the center is Amitabha, her origin, whose seed syllable is Seh. Her face is majestic and she wears a five colored multi-layered garment representing the Five Dhyani Buddhas. Her body is adorned with many jewels, rings, bracelets, anklets, and necklaces.

After first visualizing her appearance, you proceed next to chant the Four Syllables of Zha Hum Ban Huo. These are the mudras associated with Zha Hum Ban Huo. [Grand Master demonstrates.] Zha Hum Ban Huo invites the Four-armed Guanyin to enter into your body. You then transform into Four-armed Guanyin herself. Two of your hands will be holding the mani jewel, while the remaining two hands will be holding a white lotus and a rosary respectively. You have transformed yourself into Four-armed Guanyin.

At this moment, visualize at your heart chakra the syllables Om Ah Hum, and from the Hum syllable a beam of blue light radiates out to the universe to invoke the Five Dhyani Buddhas, bodhisattvas, vajra dharma protectors, dakas, dakinis, and devas. The Five Buddhas will radiate light on all of the students present at the ceremony, and they will also emit light on beings from the nether world to guide them to the Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss. The Five Buddhas will radiate light to bless everybody. At this moment, with the light from the Five Buddhas and Guanyin Bodhisattva shining on you, your wishes will be fulfilled and your sicknesses healed.

These are the most important points of the Four-armed Guanyin Practice: visualization, mantra chanting, and entering into samadhi. Therefore, when we did the practice earlier, I was doing the described visualization and entering into samadhi very soon, long before the reverend announced it. I was entering into the state wherein the Light from my Heart continually radiated outward. I was invoking the Five Buddhas, bodhisattvas, vajra dharma protectors, dakas, dakinis, and devas to shine light on all registrants for this ceremony so that all of their wishes would be auspiciously fulfilled, and that this one dharma ceremony will generate light to shine upon the entire world.
We know that light emitted by Guanyin Bodhsattva has great benefits. First of all, it can eradicate all sufferings from her virtuous devotees. Physical ailments, litigations, bad luck, and financial problems can be eliminated. Her light also blesses her virtuous devotees to attain luminosity, auspiciousness, and wish-fulfillment. This is important. One with little blessing will have an increase in blessings. One with little wisdom will see an increase in wisdom. During this sadhana, as long as you have seen Guanyin, heard her mantra, felt her presence, or have knowledge of her, you will in the future attain Enlightenment.
When one emerges from the Samadhi of Four-armed Guanyin, one sings the following praise:

Homage to the Four-armed Guanyin Bodhisattva,
On your crown, the royal presence of Amitabha is fixed.
Your pure and stainless great Clear Light,
Shines pervasively and brings benefits to all beings.
This is how the visualization of Four-armed Guanyin is done. First visualize Ban, then Ah on a lotus, followed by Seh and then the Four-armed Guanyin. This differs from the Guanyin practice (the Holy Guanyin) we do normally.
Guanyin Bodhisattva is associated not just with boundless love, compassion, joy, and equanimity, but wisdom, represented by the lotus in her hand. Although we have regarded Guanyin, Manjushri, and Vajrapani each as a point of the triad, wisdom is also inherent in Guanyin as shown by the lotus she holds. In providing guidance to sentient beings, we should carry out each task wisely. Compassion and wisdom must be integrated. This is what is referred to as “dual employment of compassion and wisdom.?

Master Lianming [from Calgary Temple] has attained enlightenment and I have presented him with a dharma-king robe as a token for his realization. There are many others in our school who have also attained realization. In the future, one by one, I will present each with a dharma-king robe, garments passed down from lineage gurus. [audience applause] Among our masters there are also ones who have attained enlightenment, but there are differences among them. Why is this? Some attained realization sooner than others. Since Master Lianming was the first to attain realization, he was the first to receive the dharma-king robe. Lianhua Jingbo was the second person to attain realization. Why did I not give her the dharma-king robe today? It is not the right time yet. When her time comes, I will also present her with a dharma-king robe.

Why did I not present a dharma-king robe to some of our masters who are also enlightened? Waves in the Changjiang River drive on those ahead, and waves at the front die out first. A master can have the dharma-king robe if he wants it, as long as he promises to continue propagating the dharma for another fifty years! [audience applause] We will give the younger generation an opportunity to demonstrate their ability, and the other enlightened masters can make checks on the sideline. Those who have received the dharma-king robes have very great responsibilities. [audience applause] You will have difficult challenges and obstacles ahead of you but you must surmount them. You must use your wisdom to provide aid and salvation to all beings.

I will give you an example. At P’ingtung in Taiwan, there is a parachute training base. Master Lianseng knows of this place. One day, a company commander and his troop members were engaged in a training session and as practice, instead of jumping off an airplane, they were jumping off an area of high elevation. The commander instructed the troops, “When you count to three, pull the pilot chute, and jump. One Two Three, pull, jump, and the parachute will open.?All of the soldiers followed the commander’s instructions except one. This one soldier’s parachute did not open and he fell freely into the water. The commander asked him, “What went wrong? Why didn’t your parachute open??This soldier turned out to be a stammerer. He was still trying to get the number “one?out when he hit the water.

The commander did not realize that he had to teach students according to their capacities and conditions. Every sentient being has his own characteristics and habits. Not everyone can be taught with the same method. The stammerer had not gotten to “two?when he hit the ground. He needed special instructions. Grab his thumb and press once, twice, thrice, and pull. Wisdom is knowing when and how to modify your teaching method.

Each sentient being is different ?appearances are different, mindset is different. To really teach sentient beings, one must teach with wisdom. It is the same with compassion. You have to have compassion when you carry out your work. Here is a story of compassion. A young man was riding a bus, and sitting next to him was an old woman. The bus was full and when it reached the next stop, a very pregnant lady came aboard. The old woman was very compassionate, but at her age, she felt it would be awkward if she offered her seat to the pregnant lady. So she nudged the young man next to her. If the young man was acting compassionately, he should have stood up and offered his own seat to the eight-month pregnant lady. Instead, however, he stated, “That baby is not mine!?That young man did not have wisdom. As Buddhists, we know that we have to employ both compassion and wisdom. When there is integration of compassion and wisdom, a power will be engendered.

Earlier Master Liandeng also discussed the importance of dignity and discipline. As Buddhists, we know that dignity comes from upholding the precepts. This is very important.
Why will upholding the precepts lead to dignity? Upholding the precepts teaches one to be upright and proper, and sets an example for other people. It is important to be honorable in your speech and stately in your appearance when wearing the Five-Buddhas crown. This time I don’t know if any of our masters wearing the Five-Buddhas crown dozed off. I hope not! There were several times when a master had fallen asleep, and his Five-Buddhas crown almost fell off. He was able to catch it right on time and push it back up. Then, all of a sudden, his head dipped forward again, the crown would fall, and he would immediately push it back up again.

These showed up clearly on videotapes. When you don the Five-Buddhas crown and the zen robe, you should sit in a stately and upright manner, like a soldier, occupying only one third of the width of the bench, with your head held high and chest lifted. You can’t make the excuse that you are entering samadhi when you are drooling! Or were you dreaming about an invitation to Queen Empress’s immortal banquet? People can tell whether you are in samadhi or dozing off. Dozing off is not dignified at all.

How does one ennoble one’s inner being? When you uphold the precepts, you are ennobling your inner being. How do you ennoble your exterior? The exterior affects the interior and the interior affects the exterior. Proper conduct for a soldier starts with the exterior. When I was a soldier, we had to keep our shoes well polished. Each time the commander was about to inspect us, we hurriedly rubbed our shoes, shined our buttons and bronze belt buckle, and all the symbols on our uniform had to be very shiny. Today, wearing the Five-Buddhas crowns, zen robes, and lama cassocks, you must sit stately and not slouch. It is the same with walking. There is a prescription for proper conduct that monks and nuns should follow: walk like the breeze, sit like a bell tower, stand like a pine, and lie down like a bow. Inner nobility is attained by dwelling on the Four Immeasurable Minds ?infinite loving-kindness, compassion, joy and equanimity. One’s exterior nobility is expressed by walking like the breeze and not slouching when you walk.

Earlier Master Liandeng referred to a monk in Taiwan who had recently passed on. Master Liandeng bears a great resemblance to that monk. He looks ninety-nine percent like him, without any makeup. He does not even need to impersonate him. A True Buddha School student, Tai Zhiyuan, has a son named Tai Jing who looks like a clone of him. Our Master Liandeng and that monk look ninety-nine percent alike. Master Liandeng also looks ninety-nine percent like the character Uncle Mou from the recent popular Taiwanese movie Cape No.7. Even their teeth are alike. [audience laughter]

But our Master Liandeng looks more dignified! [audience applause] It is true! We have to be dignified and must not violate the precepts of refraining from killing, theft, sexual misconduct, false speech, and intoxication, especially alcohol consumption. Reverends and lay practitioners must abide by the Five Precepts and Bodhisattva Vows. Killing, theft, sexual misconduct, lies, and intoxicants are forbidden.

There is a telephone number starting with 0204 that when dialed, will play an improper “guiding?message. There was a kid who dialed this number every day. One day he told his friend, “I am in trouble. When the telephone bill comes, it’s going to be very expensive.?Who was going to pay the bill? His friend was worried for him. After a while, his friend asked him, “Has the bill arrived??“It came,?the kid replied. “What happened to you??“Nothing, but my dad was in big trouble.?His dad was so badly beaten by his mom that he had to be hospitalized. Every action has a consequence.

This is a matter of nobility! Take a look at all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas sitting there gracefully, dignified, in their mysterious splendor. When you observe the dignity of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, your heart will also engender dignity. When you are dignified, other sentient beings will follow in your footsteps. If you uphold the precepts, others will follow your example and uphold the precepts. If you are greedy, sentient beings will follow you and be greedy. If you are angry, others will emulate your anger. If you are deluded, sentient beings will follow this example. You must use your compassion, dignity, and wisdom to help sentient beings.

There are of course people dozing off in the audience too, but it is much easier to see clearly who is falling asleep on stage. When all the Five-Buddhas crowns are proper and prim, it is easy to make out the one that is leaning sideways. There was a student who always fell asleep in class. When the teacher turned around from the blackboard and saw him asleep, he would break off a piece of chalk and throw it at him to wake him up. The teacher then addressed him, “When the hare and the tortoise raced, do you know why the hare lost and the tortoise won??We are all familiar with this tale. In the race between the hare and the tortoise, the hare took off to a fast start, but when he almost reached the goal, he saw how slow the tortoise was and decided to take a nap. As a result, the tortoise won the race. That student stood up and said, “I know, I am the hare, and all those who didn’t sleep were tortoises.?So, after half a day, those who doze off are hares, and we who have kept our spirits up energetically are tortoises [The Chinese word for tortoise also means a weakling]. Of course that student was erroneous in making that metaphor.

The students of True Buddha School must use wisdom, nobility, compassion and their united power to help all sentient beings. In Vajrayana Buddhism, Guanyin Bodhisattva, Manjushri Bodhisattva, and Vajrapani are notable for their compassion, wisdom, and power used respectively to save all beings. The True Buddha School has been able to help many beings under difficult circumstances because of our compassion, wisdom, and power. [audience applause]

Take dharma brother Deng Yinjia, for example. He is a college professor and has a PhD. He committed suicide and his soul had arrived at the doorstep of hell. Grand Master was able to appear to him right at that critical moment and bring him back to the living world. [audience applause] This is the power of Vajrapani. Today he has taken the Renunciation Vow to offer his services to the dharma. This is the kind of courage I want from him. [audience applause] He has been given salvation and a second chance in life. He is the Green Padmakumara. He cannot lose his life in vain and had to be rescued. Now that he has been brought back to life, he can now sacrifice his life for the dharma. He has made a great bodhi vow to establish the Great Vow Lei Zang Temple in Tainan in the future. [audience applause]

When you rescue one sentient being and instill the right view in him, his inner light will shine. That is why when we provide help to sentient beings, sometimes we need to rely on dharma power. Since he is also the Green Padmakumara, I must rescue him. He has great responsibilities and I cannot let him slip into hell. He has made the vow to salvage sentient beings and he will carry this out with determination. He is an intellectual and a PhD. He has his own social connections. So he will be very effective in helping other people. His green lotus is in bloom. Master Lianming’s golden lotus is also in bloom.

The newly ordained monk, Rev. Lianlai, is also a small padmakumara. He is a Singaporean, and he has practiced the Body Offering Practice with great success. I have heard his talk at the Yuan Xue Lei Zang Temple on the Body Offering Practice and was very impressed with his achievement. In the future, his lotus will bloom. A small padmakumara can transform into a medium padmakumara, and a medium padmakumara can transform into a great padmakumara. He is the Orange Padmakumara. [audience applause] In the future when we see the power he develops, we will honor him with the Five-Buddhas crown.

To salvage sentient beings requires power. You cannot provide salvation if you do not have power. This power comes from the integration of compassion, wisdom, and dharma power. You cannot say, “I can’t do anything. I don’t have any strength. I am getting old!?“We old masters probably have only two more years to live!?“We can’t do it anymore!?Why all these complaints? Take some supplements to boost up your health! Several of our older masters are taking supplements! Even Master Lianhan often takes such supplements and he is an enlightened master! But I have sympathy for him and did not bestow the dharma-king robe to him. If he wants it, however, he can have it! If he does not want it, then we will save it for the younger generation. When the Changjiang River waves from behind drive on those before them, the waves in front cannot help but dissipate on the shores.

You should keep in mind that taking supplements is not as good as taking proper nutritious food. Master Lianhan knows this too and has been eating nutritiously. He has recovered his health pretty well. It is actually quite good that he can make it to this ceremony! If you want to find out which foods are best and how to take food and supplements to heal yourself, go and speak to Master Lianhan.
In my opinion, to salvage sentient beings, compassion is necessary. With compassion, one can receive and help anybody. There is no sentient being that cannot be helped. Once one develops compassion, the number of beings salvaged by you will correlate to the degree of expansiveness of the heart.

With wisdom, you can employ different methods to help different sentient beings accordingly. It is certainly not dull. When you have power, the miraculous power, you can travel to the nether world to conduct a dharma ceremony. Grand Master has traveled to the nether world to hold a ceremony and we also have a witness.

I have not suffered any loss in the current financial crisis. Why? Because I had known about it beforehand. Since I knew about it, Shimu also knew about it. Since we had known about it, we incurred minimal losses. We never have lay offs in our True Buddha School. [audience laughter and applause] Even if you are a terrible master, a terrible reverend, a terrible senior reverend, Grand Master never lays you off. The others, dharma instructors, dharma assistants, students, Grand Master also never lays you off. Only the Grand Master gets laid off by students. When the students refuse to recognize me as the Grand Master, then they have laid me off.

Remember, you have to have expansive wisdom, expansive compassion, and expansive miraculous power. These are the three principles for providing salvation to sentient beings. The Buddhadharma is infinite.

Om Mani Padme Hum.

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