8. Nyingma Lineage Guru Longchenpa Was an Emanation of Manjushri
Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple
|(Given at Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple, Redmond, Washington, USA on July 6, 2013 after group practice of Maha Cundi Sadhana. Translated and edited by Janny Chow, Proofread by Christine Chan)
With reverence, we first pay homage to lineage masters Reverend Liaoming, His Eminence Sakya Zhengkong Rinpoche, His Holiness the Sixteenth Karmapa, Vajra Acharya Thubten Dargye, the Three Jewels at the shrine, and Maha Cundi Buddha Mother, the deity of today's sadhana.
Shimu, masters, dharma instructors, reverends, dharma lecturers, dharma assistants, directors of local chapters, fellow school members, and students from across the internet. Our guests of honor today are: True Buddha Foundation's accountant dharma sister Teresa, dharma sister Xu Yaqi, producer of the Taiwan CTI television program Light the Lamp in Your Heart, Dr. Zhuang Junyao, sleep specialist Dr Zhang Dewei and his mother dharma sister Yuan Chunling, Mr. and Mrs. Lin Hanxuan and their daughter from Singapore, Mr. and Mrs. Qiu Hanchun also from Singapore. Greetings! How is everyone? Thank you for coming!
Tonight, we practiced the Maha Cundi Buddha Mother Yidam Sadhana. The liturgy for the sadhana is also available to everyone. Maha Cundi has eighteen arms. (When we engage in a series of mudras during a ceremony or homa) we always start with the Cundi Mudra, which is also the Cundi Dharani Mudra, a very remarkable mudra.
In the past, Master Pufang, one of the masters I have taken refuge in, built a temple by the name of Zong Chi Si (Dharani Temple) at Shezi Island in Taipei. I remember well him teaching me this Taiwanese verse of praise to Maha Cundi: Homage to Maha Cundi Buddha Mother, I bow to take refuge in you! Her mantra is ''Om, dze-lee dzu-lee, zhun-tee, so-ha.'' The mudra, mantra, and visualization represent the body, speech, and mind of Maha Cundi respectively. Tantrayana sadhana begins with the purification of body, speech, and mind and when you purify yourself to become as pure as the yidam, the yidam becomes one with you. This union is yoga. Hence, in the practice of Guru Yoga, with the mantra, mudra, and visualization of your guru, you enter into union with him. The same applies for the Yidam Yoga.
Tantrayana practice is rooted in the purification of body, speech, and mind. Through the practice of mudra, mantra, and visualization, one becomes purer as karmic defilements are eliminated. This method is a fundamental practice of Tantrayana. I have mentioned Maha Cundi Buddha Mother many times before. There is also a Maha Cundi Dharani Sutra. After receiving the empowerment, you can read and practice the sadhana. Maha Cundi possesses a third eye, the wisdom eye, that sees immeasurably far and deep. There are five eyes: physical eyes, deva eyes, wisdom eyes, dharma eyes, and the highest buddha eyes.
When I spoke of Padmasambhava being born eight years after Shakyamuni Buddha's nirvana and Ananda performing the rite of tonsure for him, a student voiced doubt. ''Chronologically, Shakyamuni Buddha and Padmasambhava were separated in time, so how could this happen? How many decades passed before he traveled to Tibet to teach for fifty-five years?'' Now, I want to test our masters and dharma instructors. For how many years did Padmasambhava live? Please raise your hands if you have read his biography. (Someone answered, ''He has not entered nirvana.'') He did not enter nirvana? Thus, he is still alive. How long has he lived to the time he left his consort Yeshe Tsogyal in Tibet to go to the land of the Rakshasa? How many years have passed from his birth to his teaching at the land of Rakshasa? Altogether eight hundred years. Actually, some biographies state one thousand or one thousand two hundred years. The birth of Padmasambhava is in itself an enigma. He had no parents and was born in a lotus. Many events in his biographies are legend. In Southeast Asia, many countries celebrate the Vesak or Buddha's Birthday. In Taiwan, Buddhists celebrate it on the eighth of the fourth lunar month, which is on a different date from the Vesak. No one has ever known the actual birth date of Shakyamuni Buddha. There is no consensus among the various biographies about how long he has lived.
Padmasambhava was the first guru of Tantrayana Buddhism. Nagarjuna was the next great lineage guru. Following was Virupa, then Naropa and Tsongkhapa. Each guru is separated by five hundred years from the previous one. Five hundred years passed between Padmasambhava and Nagarjuna, five hundred years between Nagarjuna and Virupa, five hundred years between Virupa and Naropa, and five hundred years between Naropa and Tsongkhapa. This adds to two thousand years. From Tsongkhapa's lifetime until now, about five hundred years have passed. A total of twenty-five hundred years. We often speak of Shakyamuni Buddha being alive twenty-five hundred years ago. All these numbers are not very accurate. But, no one knows how long Padmasambhava actually lived. In my mind-stream, he has lived very long to at least one thousand years.
According to his biography, Padmasambhava once arrived at a charnel ground and found the corpse of a pregnant woman there. Using his wisdom eyes, Padmasambhava knew that the fetus inside was still alive, and he cut open her abdomen to save the baby. It was a girl. Padmasambhava raised her and married her when she grew up. Later when she passed away, Padmasambhava was still alive. Such an event occurring is unthinkable in modern times. So, this fellow student was puzzled: how long did Padmasambhava live if he was born eight years after the death of Shakyamuni Buddha? Not only do others not know, even I am not sure how long he lived. As more time passes, the less clear it becomes. At the time of the Buddha, people were vague with numbers. Also, no one was allowed to take notes during the expounding of teachings. Hence, the collection of teachings into sutras and scriptures occurred the first time at two hundred years after the nirvana of the Buddha. Then there were the second and third collections until the final collection during the time of King Ashoka. It was after a period of three to five hundred years that the sutras recording the words of the Buddha were gathered. If it were not for Ananda's super memory, no one could say what the Buddha had said. You may wonder how accurate the sutras are if they were collected this way. The Buddha taught that everything in the world is characterized with the three or four marks of existence. If a teaching does not accord with the three or four marks of existence, it is not Buddhadharma. So, this student's doubts about the time periods discussed are legitimate. However, one should not doubt that Padmasambhava has lived a thousand years even though there is no way to verify this by historical records.
A wife asked her husband, ''Darling, take a look, do I have a single transverse crease on my palm?'' (In palmistry reading, that crease signifies a woman of strong personality.) The husband replied, ''I am certain you do! I don't need to see it.'' The wife asked, ''Why?'' The husband then said, ''If it weren't the case, why is my life in ruins now?'' Many historical biographies may not be accurate.
In today's discussion of Nine Stages of Great Perfection, I must mention a lineage master, Longchenpa. I had planned to just talk about Padmasambhava, but I must also mention Longchenpa and Jigme Lingpa. Why Jigme Lingpa? Jigme Lingpa was the reincarnation of King Trisong Detsen. Why Longchenpa? He was the person who integrated the two Nyingthigs, which is Heart Essence, of Vima Nyingthig and Khandro (Dakinis) Nyingthig. So, I have no justification for skipping them in my talks.
I will focus on Longchenpa today. He was born in 1308. He did not live very long, but he was a very important figure. Manjushri Bodhisattva has three major emanations in Tibet. The first was Longchenpa, the second was Sakya Pandita, the person with the greatest wisdom in Sakya, and the third was Tsongkhapa. These three persons are known in Tibet as the three great manifestations of Manjushri. Longchenpa represents Nyingma, Tsongkhapa represents Gelug, and Sakya Pandita represents Sakya, and they are the lineage gurus of the three schools of Nyingma, Gelug, and Sakya respectively.
Longchenpa was very smart from childhood, unlike Grand Master. I was dumb when I was young. Others always passed their tests or were at the top of the class, and I was always at the bottom. Twice I had to repeat a grade. This was a most humiliating thing. The second time I had to repeat a grade, I switched schools from the Second Middle School to the Third Middle School in the city of Kaohsiung. I have been asked, ''If you had to repeat a grade twice, why were you at the top of your class in high school?'' This was because I became quite studious when I got to that point. Among the class of repeaters, I turned out to be the best student. Everyone in my class in the new school was worse than me! Suddenly, I became interested in studying. At that time, after getting better scores than everyone else, I began to slowly build up my study habits. By the time I was accepted into high school, I loved studying. So, for each of the six semesters in high school, I ranked at the top.
Longchenpa was very smart since a young age and good at studying. He knew many languages and skills. Among the five classes of knowledge (in ancient India), there is the science of language. Longchenpa knew Sanskrit, Tibetan, and also Chinese. Today, people skillful in languages speak French, English, Spanish, Mandarin, Cantonese, as well as their native dialect. This is skill in languages. Longchenpa was also skillful in technologies of the time. Of course, he did not know about the equipment being used for web broadcasting now. He also knew about the science of spirituality, which was the study of Buddhadharma. He studied both exoteric and esoteric Buddhism. He had studied under more than twenty masters of Tantrayana Buddhism and received many lineage transmissions. He also knew logic and the laws of karma. Additionally, he knew medicine. If someone became ill, he knew what to prescribe. So, he was someone of great knowledge and wisdom. He had a super memory and did many things very well. At the age of twenty-seven, he had already achieved great fame throughout Tibet. Everyone considered him a great genius.
At that time, Longchenpa studied Vima Nyingthig (the Heart Essence of Dzogchen taught by Vimalamitra) under Master Guma and became a lineage holder of that transmission. Later, he also pursued the Khandro Nyingthig which was taught to Yeshe Tsogyal and Trisong Detsen by Padmasambhava. At that time, Padmasambhava manifested to Longchenpa to guide him to a master who could teach him the Khandro lineage. So, at the age of thirty-two, Longchenpa received the lineage of Khandro Nyingthig from Master Pema. Longchenpa was a brilliant writer, and he had combined these two Nyingthigs into a work known as Longchen Nyingthig. This is important because presently when we discuss Nine Stages of Great Perfection, we are discussing the Longchen Nyingthig. Originally, I intended to talk about Padmasambhava, Trisong Detsen, and myself only. I have decided to talk about these two other gurus because one had integrated the two Nyingthigs. Longchenpa has written many works. The fact that the lineage of Nine Stages of Great Perfection has been transmitted unbroken until now is owed to Longchenpa.
Through his studies in the Khandro Nyingthig, Longchenpa received empowerment from Padmasambhava and Yeshe Tsogyal in the empty space. When I provided a discourse on An Exposition on the Graduated Pathway of Tantrayana, I similarly received a blessing from Tsongkhapa in the empty space. On the first day of the discourse, the image of Tsongkhapa appeared to me in the empty space. He was surrounded by a fine mesh of brilliant light. This light moved to my crown and infused all the skin pores in my body. Suddenly, I was able to finish reading the entire book An Exposition on the Graduated Pathway of Tantrayana and understood it as well. Most people are unable to understand this book because the language is abstruse. Additionally, one typically must cultivate to the fourth level of initiation or empowerment to understand it. No one else in the Chinese world, except Grand Master Lu, has given a discourse on An Exposition on the Graduated Pathway of Tantrayana (audience applause). My discourse on An Exposition on the Graduated Pathway of Tantrayana has been broadcast on television. Master Lianyue has produced this program for the Taiwan CTI network. She is the producer of the television programs of An Exposition on the Graduated Pathway of Tantrayana and the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch. After the broadcast of the television programs of An Exposition on the Graduated Pathway of Tantrayana, some Tibetan lamas wrote to thank me. They finally understood what they did not understand before. This is not an easy thing. Grand Master's teaching is indeed priceless!
On the western Valentine's Day, a wife said, ''My dear, I love French perfumes.'' On the Chinese Valentine's Day in the seventh lunar month, the wife again said, ''My dear, diamonds are forever.'' On her birthday, the wife said, ''My dear, I…'' She was interrupted by her husband who said, ''Wait! My dear wife, is there anything cheap that you love?'' The wife said, ''There is! I love you most!'' You do not have to pay much for this teaching given by Grand Master, yet this teaching is most valuable.
What kind of contribution has Longchenpa made to Tantrayana? First, he was a pandita, a learned master, who wrote many works which spread widely. Second, besides writing, he traveled everywhere to give discourses on the Nine Stages of Great Perfection. Then, he integrated Vima Nyingthig and Khandro Nyingthig into Longchen Nyingthig. This brought the most important teachings into one category. Hence, it was an immense accomplishment, to integrate two pith-instructions into one. After Longchenpa passed away from the human world, he continued to bless all sentient beings, an even greater feat. When I gave the discourse on An Exposition on the Graduated Pathway of Tantrayana, Tsongkhapa appeared to bless Grand Master enabling me to continue until the entire discourse was complete. In that discourse, I disclosed many of the secret practices of Tantrayana Buddhism.
When Longchenpa was alive, he once encountered a very dangerous situation. At that time, the government had sent troops after him. He was alone riding a horse trying to escape. There were many pursuers, and he should not have escaped. Padmasambhava appeared and spoke to him, ''Take the farthest road to a remote path, go around in a circle before going uphill.'' When the soldiers almost caught up with him, a black fog descended from the sky and blocked the path. Because the soldiers could not see anything, they were afraid to move ahead. This gave Longchenpa a chance to escape through the remote path. After the black cloud dispersed, the soldiers continued their pursuit, but they could not find him anymore. Actually, he had taken a road that led to Bhutan. Longchenpa lived in Bhutan for some time and built a monastery there before returning to Tibet. I know about this story of his. You may not necessarily know it as well as I do as this incident exists in my mind-stream.
Longchenpa also has practiced in charnel grounds. The Nine Stages of Great Perfection of Nyingma consists of the eight heruka practices which include Hayagriva, Garuda, and Guru Drakpo (a fearsome form of Padmasambhava). Male practitioners typically engage in one of the heruka (wrathful deity) practices. Female practitioners typically engage in either the Great Bliss Buddha Mother Sadhana or the Simhamuka (Lion-Faced) Sadhana. Who is the Great Bliss Buddha Mother? Yeshe Tsogyal, the consort of Padmasambhava. Female practitioners of Nine Stages of Great Perfection select either the Great Bliss Dakini or Simhamuka Dakini as their yidam. Male practitioners practice the eight heruka sadhanas. Do not think that herukas, the wrathful appearing deities, are terrifying and vicious. They are actually very compassionate and kind, unlike some people nowadays, who may look nice but have hearts of evil. There is a Cantonese saying: Speaking like a buddha, but having a heart like a snake. In reality, the heart of the vicious-looking heruka is kind. So, when practitioners see the appearance of a wrathful heruka, they do not have to run away.
Here is a joke. A dinosaur (fat and ugly) lady went to visit her friend. Her friend's ten years old son looked at her and said, ''This auntie looks ugly.'' The dinosaur lady was upset and about to scream at him when her friend immediately asked her son to apologize. The son said, ''Auntie, you are actually quite pretty.'' The dinosaur lady became very happy and was about to say something modest in return when her friend lashed out loudly at her son, ''I was asking you to apologize, not to lie.'' Sometimes people only look at surface appearances. In the martial arts novel Heaven Sword and Dragon Saber written by Jinyong, Zhang Wuji's mother tells him, ''You must remember that the more beautiful a woman is, the better a liar she is.'' However, we cannot make statements like that. Tantrayana practitioners must not slander women. There is a saying: One may draw a tiger in so far as its skin, but it is hard to draw its bones; one may know a man's face but it is hard to know his heart. Not all people with beautiful faces have evil hearts; nor do people with ugly faces have good hearts. You must use your wisdom eyes to make observations. Many years ago, when I was in land-surveying school, I knew a dinosaur lady whom I called Big Sister. She was a school employee, very fat, but very kind-hearted. She helped me a great deal in school. Everyone in school knew that she loved to help people. So, we must not look down upon anyone.
Longchenpa was able to achieve great accomplishments because of his intelligence, abilities, wisdom, and correct orientation. With his great wisdom, he was able to integrate all Tantrayana teachings into the supreme Nine Stages of Great Perfection to be handed down to us. His life was also filled with many catastrophes. He met with calumniations, and even had to flee from government soldiers. Fortunately, a black cloud descended from the sky to block the soldiers' path. It was a very rare and remarkable thing. Grand Master has also encountered many disasters as well as remarkable events. You see, when I was giving a discourse on the Platform Sutra of the Sixth Patriarch, six black footprints appeared in the sky over the Taiwan Lei Tsang Temple. Dharma sister Xu Yaqi has photographed it and broadcasted this on the television program Light the Lamp in Your Heart. The six black footprints in the sky signify six feet, liu zu, which is a homophone for liu zu the Sixth Patriarch (audience applause). After I announced that I would be transmitting the teaching of the Long Eyebrow Arhat Pindola in the autumn ceremony, long eyebrow-like clouds appeared in the sky. I don't normally paint eagles. But that day, I painted eagles twice. The second time, students present looked up at the sky, and an eagle appeared. This was also posted on our website. What a coincidence. In another incident, I painted the Ling Shen Ching Tze Temple with red light in the background. Do you recall this? (audience replies yes) That evening after finishing the painting, the sky behind Ling Shen Ching Tze turned a brilliant red. What kind of phenomenon is this? This is yoga, spiritual union. Each time I paint something, this something emerges. For example, one time I painted a beautiful lady. That evening a beautiful lady no one had ever seen appeared. She looked just like the woman in my painting, with the same blond hair. In the future, I should paint more beautiful ladies. Hence, buddhas and bodhisattvas are indeed amazing. They are aware of my actions and allow me to experience psychic responses. It is indeed strange. For example, I had been told, ''Prepare three Fu's (talismans) for tomorrow.'' They said, ''Shangan Fu. Give them to the first person coming to see you and he will be healed.'' Indeed! The next day the first person coming to see me told me what kind of illness he had and what kind of Fu he needed. I said, ''I have them right here.'' And I pulled out the talismans to give him. What a coincidence.
Is Rev. Lianyan here? She has returned (to Canada). She also experienced something very miraculous. When I was in the Diamond Temple in New York (in 1997) giving a discourse, Rev. Lianyan was there and she noticed that I had gotten something in my eye. She handed me a piece of facial tissue to rub my eyes. I was going to toss the tissue away. Since Lianyan was next to me, she put the tissue into her pocket to throw away later. Afterwards she flew to Panama. There she met a female student who knelt down to tell her that smoke had gotten into her eyes during a fire, and now she was blind. At first Rev. Lianyan told her, ''I am just a nun, how can I help you?'' Then she remembered the tissue in her pocket and gave it to the blind student to rub her eyes with. Are Lianyan (another nun whose name is a homophone of the first Lianyan) and Lianxi here? Have you heard of this incident? Since you are both from the Panama Chang Hung Temple, do you know of this incident? Yes, you do! After Rev. Lianyan gave her the tissue, she rubbed her eyes with it and the next day she was able to see (audience applause). It is indeed a wonderful thing. But, if you now bring me a piece of tissue and ask me to rub my eyes with it, it is not going to work the same way. It worked that time as many factors came coincidentally together for that miracle to occur. Do not think that all the buddhas and bodhisattvas are sitting or standing here motionless. People with wisdom eyes or divine eyes can see that each of them flies and moves around.
Grand Master is a writer. Do you think writing is easy? It takes inspiration, and it is not easy. If I have no idea what to write the next day, the buddhas descend while I am asleep and place an essay in my mind: ''You can write this essay tomorrow.'' When I wake up the next day, I will immediately jot down the important points while they are fresh in my memory. After breakfast, I will then go and write the essay down. This works every time my mind becomes completely blank and ideas dry up. They often bring essays to show me. So, Grand Master also copies inspiration from the buddhas and bodhisattvas.
Life is indeed like a dream! Illusions, transmigrations, and transformations from one life to another. Just think, from Trisong Detsen to Jigme Lingpa to Sheng-yen Lu. Trisong Detsen was an emanation of Manjushri while Manjushri is connected to Amitabha. Amitabha, Manjushri, and Yamantaka are all interrelated. This kind of transformation is indeed dreamlike. How should we behave in such a dream-like world? Remember to practice well and be mindful. Each day you are alive, be happy; each day you are alive, immerse yourself in practice; each day you are alive, be grateful. A Buddhist should not harbor hatred in his heart. This creates karmic defilement. Do not be entwined by emotional afflictions. Be grateful, mindful, and happy every day of your life.
Om Mani Padme Hum.
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