Preface: Profoundly Sublime, Profoundly Sublime, the Most Profoundly Sublime
While enlightenment is a general and often used term, enlightened beings are uncommon and rare.
Hence, I have called the preface of this book “Profoundly Sublime, Profoundly Sublime, the Most Profoundly Sublime.” Despite being a familiar term, enlightenment is not a state many people reach. Although I described enlightenment as a “state,” it doesn’t have any state in actuality. The word “state” is only symbolic.
One of the disparaging comments frequently made against me is, “Claiming realization and attainment without achieving either,” which is to say that Sheng-yen Lu hasn’t achieved enlightenment or Living Buddha Lian-sheng hasn’t attained realization. I don’t need to defend myself because I understand that enlightenment is profoundly difficult to comprehend. In fact, nobody can understand or decipher my Pages of Enlightenment. Some people may have practiced with incredible dedication for a long time, overcame great hardships, and read through all of the scriptures. Yet, it is still extremely difficult for them to get even a glimpse of my realization.
So, am I saying that I, Living Buddha Lian-sheng, Sheng-yen Lu, am the greatest person in this world? Am I saying that I am truly successful in life? Am I saying that I am the only person who is enlightened on this Earth? Am I saying that no other person in this world has achieved enlightenment? Is that right? To be honest, there are only three types of people who call themselves enlightened: Crazies, the truly enlightened, and con-artists. I am neither crazy nor am I a con-artist. I am truly enlightened. All the enlightened ones are the greatest people in the world, the true gurus of life. I am not the only person who has achieved enlightenment on this Earth. But, I see very few genuinely enlightened ones in this world. They are only a handful in number.World-renown masters are not necessarily enlightened!
Masters with great numbers of students are not necessarily enlightened!
Zen masters who have established the largest temples and monasteries are not necessarily enlightened!
The foremost experts on the scriptures are not necessarily enlightened!
Great masters of the Yogacara School are not necessarily enlightened!
Elders of the Madhyamaka School are not necessarily enlightened!
The greatest living buddhas of the world are not necessarily enlightened!
The most famous vajra masters of the world are not necessarily enlightened!
The great dharma kings of Vajrayana are not necessarily enlightened!
Practitioners all over the world will mercilessly disparage me for writing the above comments, saying Sheng-yen Lu is such a trouble-maker! Sheng-yen Lu is such a bastard! Sheng-yen Lu is an evil heathen! Sheng-yen Lu is a phony, fraudulent, bogus, and fake living buddha! Am I the real deal or a fraud? Please read this book! Have I really attained enlightenment or is my enlightenment fake? Please read this book! If you would like to get a glimpse at the most profoundly sublime, please see who I really am! Please read this book! This book is guaranteed to be astonishing.
Living Buddha Lian-sheng Sheng-yen Lu’s contact information:
17102 NE 40th Ct.
Redmond, WA 98052
1. Direct Revelation
There is an arrogant man who has led his out-spoken followers into disparaging various aspects of dharma teachings and criticizing past and present-day teachers. Being the author of several books, he regards himself as truly enlightened. Based on my observations, he has not necessarily achieved realization!
I also read the book, Immediate Enlightenment by Supreme Master Ching Hai. It made me laugh! I read the book out of curiosity, wondering how there could be a book on “immediate enlightenment.” I feel that Supreme Master Ching Hai’s thinking is very progressive. However, has she achieved enlightenment? I reserve my opinion. Ha! I am not answering that question.
What cannot be denied is that Shakyamuni Buddha (the World Honored One) attained genuine perfect enlightenment. The Buddhist scriptures are divided into two classes of conventional truth (partial revelation of truth) and absolute truth (total revelation of ultimate reality). There are so many Buddhist scriptures in the Tripitaka [the Buddhist Canon] that if you try to read them all you will have grown a long beard by the time you finish. But, those are only the scriptures revealed to humanity. There are even more scriptures hidden in the palaces of the nagas that have never been seen by the people of this world.
Why am I certain that the World Honored One, Lord Buddha, achieved true perfect enlightenment? I am certain because of the Buddha’s three key statements:
2. Never spoke a word.
3. There is no Dharma to teach, and I have never taught any Dharma.
Hence, it is affirmative that Shakyamuni Buddha is genuinely enlightened.
After reading the passages above, many Buddhists might exclaim: “Who does Sheng-yen Lu think he is? He is truly outlandish and has disrespected the Buddha. How dare anyone judge whether or not Lord Buddha himself is enlightened or not? This Sheng-yen Lu person really should go to hell!”
I politely request all Buddhists to calm down and not to be in such a rush to disparage me. Who am I really? I had coffee with the World Honored One, and we travelled on trips together. I have the greatest respect for the World Honored One and nobody needs to doubt that. What the World Honored One taught is not something that can be thoroughly understood by cursory examination. Some of the teachings are so profound that you have no idea what the World Honored One meant or really said. Yet, if you use your wisdom eye, then you will slowly understand the true meaning of his teachings.
Think it over:
2. Never spoke a word.
3. There is no Dharma to teach, and I have never taught any Dharma.
Enlightenment, what is it? It is concealed in these three statements. You should carefully contemplate them. I am willing to help you to achieve enlightenment. Have you figured it out? If you haven’t figured it out, please continue reading. I will certainly reveal “it.”
No matter if it is alive,
No matter if it is dead,
Everything is part of this boundless unity.
Differentiation is not yet enlightened.
Non-differentiation is great enlightenment.
2. Please Note to “Move Away From the Two Extremes”
Everybody, please remember that we, humanity, and sentient beings are bound to have beginnings and ends. To put it simply, there are births and deaths. Yet, enlightenment is neither birth nor death.
We often describe enlightenment as:
No-birth and no-cessation
Neither birth nor death
Neither coming nor going
Never came and never left
Yet, do you understand their real meaning?
Huineng, the Sixth Patriarch of Zen Buddhism in China, uttered this verse:
Bodhi is no tree,
Neither is bright mirror a stand.
Intrinsically there isn’t a thing.
Where may dust alight?
Many people complimented the profoundness of this verse, which points out that everything is emptiness. They think it is a verse of enlightenment. But, that is wrong! Huineng’s verse shows reliance on emptiness which is still not enlightened. Genuine enlightenment is away from the two extremes. Please note, one must move away from the two extremes. Later, the Sixth Patriarch Huineng gave a different answer, “Do not think of good. Do not think of evil.” Ha! Now that’s right.
The enlightened ones, what they realize is not emptiness or substantiality. Therefore, it is neither substantiality nor emptiness. But, is enlightenment something in between substantiality and emptiness? Actually, that is not true either.
I am a practitioner of Vajrayana teachings. If you are a Vajrayana cultivator, you will understand the Four Joys:
Joy [ananda] – Transformation (initiating transformation)
Perfect Joy [paramananda] – Progress (abiding in Great Bliss)
Joy of Cessation [viramananda] – Accomplishment (abiding in Clear Light)
Innate joy [sahajananda] – Emptiness (Perfection)
Through diligent Vajrayana cultivation, you will gradually achieve transformation, progress, accomplishment, and emptiness.
Originally, I thought the emptiness of innate joy is enlightenment. Later, I realized that the emptiness of innate joy is not really enlightenment. True enlightenment is definitely not emptiness. It is also definitely not substantiality.
Shakyamuni Buddha holding up a flower
Zen Master Tianlong [Tenryu] holding up a finger
My “Golden Rooster standing on one leg”
My first Sutra-Buddhism teacher was the Venerable Yinshun. He was from the Sanlun School [a Chinese Madhyamaka sect], which emphasizes doctrines and philosophies. Master Yinshun was a prolific writer, and his writings on Buddhist philosophy greatly influenced the Chinese Buddhist community. Doctrines are very important and cannot be neglected. Through understanding and validating doctrines, you can identify which level you have achieved. My final Vajrayana teacher was Vajra Acharya Thubten Dargye. He was a guru who placed great importance on diligent cultivation. He felt that doctrines and diligent cultivation must be mutually complementary to achieve perfection. They are like the wheels of a car, or the two wings of a bird.
By integrating doctrines and diligent cultivation as one, I endeavored to achieve the fruition of Buddhahood and gradually achieved accomplishment. In both cultivation and doctrine, I achieved siddhi accomplishment. When I finally achieved enlightenment, I did not achieve it through doctrines or cultivation. Please note to move away from the two extremes, that is enlightenment.
It is not emptiness,
Nor is it substantiality.
So, it is neither substantiality nor emptiness.
3. The Evil of Sexual Misconduct
In the chapter “Direct Revelation,” I mentioned an arrogant person who claimed to attain enlightenment. Yet, why am I certain that he has not achieved enlightenment? I know that because he claimed that Tibetan Buddhism is a faith perverted by sexual misconduct. Just on that statement alone, I am certain that he doesn’t know what enlightenment is.
Let me explain to him:
In the wisdom eye of enlightened people, there is no such thing as good or evil; they do not take sides. By accusing Tibetan Buddhism of being a faith perverted by sexual misconduct, you have taken a side (exposed your flaw). You definitely aren’t enlightened. You don’t even know what enlightenment is. You have a long way to go. You made me laugh my socks off!
You said that in the Buddha’s three turnings of the dharma wheel, the absolute truth was only revealed in the scriptures of the third turning of the dharma wheel. I want you to pay close attention to this exchange between Shakyamuni Buddha and Manjushri Bodhisattva:
When Shakyamuni Buddha was about to enter nirvana, Manjushri Bodhisattva implored the Buddha not to leave. Manjushri pleaded, “Buddha, please stay in this world to teach the dharma. Buddha, please turn the dharma wheel once again.”
The Buddha replied, “Manjushri, you have great wisdom. Even you don’t realize that I have never taught any dharma nor have I turned the dharma wheel?”
Only then did Manjushri Bodhisattva regain his composure and realize the true essence of the Buddha’s teachings.
Now, let me ask you: Did the Buddha give any dharma teachings? Did the Buddha turn the dharma wheel? I will hit you on your head with a vajra if you say yes. Have you lost your mind? Didn’t you claim to be enlightened? You have just slandered the Buddha.
Now let’s discuss your accusation that Tibetan Buddhism is a faith perverted by sexual misconduct. In the real world, besides monks, priests, and nuns who abstain from sex to uphold their vows of celibacy, every animal in this world came about as the result of carnal desire. Not just animals alone, even plants are conceived through sexual reproduction. Is sexual desire evil? If sexual desire is evil, then everyone is wicked and evil.
Your parents’ sexual desire led to your birth. Can you guarantee that the sex between your parents was proper? In the eyes of ordinary people, sex is sex. What’s proper or improper about it? Is sex necessarily evil? May I remind you that all sentient beings are born as result of sex.
Tibetan Buddhism transforms lust into a method of cultivation involving visualization, mantra chanting, and mudra. It teaches sentient beings that even lust can be used as a means for cultivation (the practitioners must uphold Differentiated Rules of Liberation).
Do not misinterpret this type of cultivation. It is not the perverse act that you are thinking. Do not put your mind in the gutter. Do not let your mind be deviant and evil. There are very few people who are qualified to practice this kind of cultivation anyways (they must have already achieved accomplishment in the cultivation of qi, channels, and drops).
I think that you have a filthy mind, so you claimed that Tibetan Buddhism is evil. Let me tell you, Vajrayana expands your mind to be boundless, but you don’t have what it takes to cultivate Vajrayana teachings. Sorry, you really do not. You are dirty. You don’t even know what innate purity is. How can you be considered enlightened?
I say, “You don’t understand the meaning of ‘neither pure nor impure.'”
Through nothing to gain,
Hence, we see through,
Anger and greed,
Offenses and delusion,
This is not the opposition of self versus others.
On the level of nothing to gain,
Everything is equal.
That is the genuine truth of the universe.
7. Everyone Has What It Takes
I wrote the following verse:
Namo the buddhas of pristine innate nature,
The genuine essence of no defilement or obscuration.
Spread true Buddhist teachings life after life,
Deliver beings and receive predictions of Buddhahood time after time.
This verse is a song of enlightenment. It contains dharma for ordinary daily living, and dharma to transcend the world. There is the purity of innate nature, absence of defilement and obscuration, dissemination of genuine Buddhist teachings, and deliverance of sentient beings life after life. The meaning of this verse is “having what it takes.”
Shakyamuni Buddha said, “All sentient beings have what it takes. But, they cannot achieve enlightenment because of their obscuring hindrances.” What are these obscuring hindrances? They are dissonant emotions, habitual tendencies, belief in the inherent existence of self, holding the belief that things are real, hindrances of worldly knowledge of differentiating what is seemingly real, and the three poisons of greed, anger, and ignorance.
When all these obscuring hindrances are completely severed, the Buddha-nature that has always been there will emerge. That is enlightenment. Buddha-nature is still there even if you don’t achieve enlightenment. Buddha-nature is also there when you do achieve enlightenment (this is no gain and no loss).
Many people separate nirvana and transmigration in cyclical existence into two different entities. They say Buddha-nature is nirvana and obscuring hindrances cause transmigration in cyclical existence. They say transmigration exists because of the Six Roots, Six Defilements, and Six Consciousness. They say transmigration exists in the five aggregates of form, feeling, perception, volition, and consciousness, and it even exists in rage, jealousy, hatred, and delusion.
Yet I say, submerge these elements of obscuring hindrances into nirvana. Wise beings should remain in cyclical existence, skillfully transforming transmigration into nirvana. This kind of nirvana is the dharma of ordinary daily living and also the dharma to transcend the world.
There are three meanings in my explanation:
2. Innately possessing what it takes.
3. Transmigration and nirvana are one and the same.
In Zen Buddhism, many Zen masters have triggered enlightenment in their students by summoning them to assemble for teachings. The masters stayed silent after the students convened, then disbanded the assembly. After the assembly had been dissolved, the Zen masters would call the students to assemble once again. At the very moment that students turned their heads, the Zen masters inquired, “What is it?”
Students of great capacity would then immediately achieve enlightenment after being confronted in this way.
My guidance is:
Assembling is transmigration.
Disbanding is nirvana.
What is it?
What is it? What is it? What is it? What is it? What is it? Do you know?
Buddha-nature has always been there.
When every one of the obscuring hindrances is severed,
Buddha-nature is revealed.
That is enlightenment.
Even if you don’t achieve enlightenment,
Buddha-nature is still there.
If you achieve enlightenment,
Buddha-nature is also there.
This is precisely no gain and no loss.
9. Great Awakening
In Vajrayana’s tantras of herukas, there are many shocking passages.
One tantra scripture says that a baby’s experiences during the ten months of pregnancy are equivalent to going through all ten stages of bodhisattvahood. He or she is born as a tenth stage bodhisattva. He or she is also born completely naked without any hair, just like a buddha in the form of a monk.
It is also said in the tantra scriptures, “There is a truth that no one knows which is that all sentient beings are buddhas.”
It was said that after the World Honored One revealed the supreme truth, Locana Buddha, Mamaki, the White Robe Guan-yin, Taras, and an infinite number of bodhisattvas all fainted from being overwhelmed with doubts. Thus, Shakyamuni Buddha further explained that all sentient beings are buddhas, whether they have been obscured by beginningless delusion or a momentary delusion arising from a thought. It is without a doubt that they will become buddhas immediately once they sever these obscurations.
The World Honored One was referring to the delusion in the desire realm, the delusion in the form realm, delusion in the formless realm, and the delusion of sravakas and pratyekabuddhas.
The World Honored One was saying that you already innately possess [Buddha-nature]; do not seek liberation outside of yourself as you can attain buddhahood in this very body.
The World Honored One said that everything in the innate nature of true suchness is everlasting joy.
I once declared to tens of thousands of my followers while I was seated on my dharma throne that I am Lian-sheng Buddha. My noble students firmly believe in me. Yet, some other Buddhists have doubts. They want to discuss the issues of [whether True Buddha School reflects] genuine Buddhist teachings or non-Buddhist heathen teachings; whether or not I am a real living buddha or fake living buddha; and whether I am a real buddha or fake buddha.
Now, I solemnly quote the World Honored One, “All sentient beings are buddhas.”
I am the one who has truly awakened to the supreme truth; I am the one who has attained great awakening.
Yet, those Buddhists who focus on external appearances still have doubts. They are ones who are the typical non-Buddhists. The word “great” in reference to my great awakening is not the superlative adjective for size to indicate whether something is big or small. Here the word “great” refers to eternity.
The World Honored One regarded ultimate bliss to be Great Bliss. This Great Bliss is not the ordinary bliss of the mundane world which is generated from dualistic conditions. That kind of ordinary bliss will become stale and [unsatisfying], and will lead to insatiable desires. As all humanity seeks pleasure, desires become insatiable and unending.
Bliss and suffering are dualistic and opposing conditions. Yet, the bliss of enlightenment is the Great Bliss. This Great Bliss is not dualistic but absolute.
You should understand that I don’t need liberation because I am not in bondage. I don’t need skillful means because I innately am. I don’t need delusion because there is innately no delusion. I am not confused because there is no confusion.
I am Lian-sheng Buddha.
I am in the clear light of Great Bliss.
If you have doubts,
Then you are the non-Buddhist.
I don’t need liberation because I am not in bondage.
I don’t need skillful means because I innately am.
I don’t need delusion because there is innately no delusion.
I will not be confused because there is no confusion.
13. The Immortal Vajra
The term “vajra” applies to Vajrayana dharma implements, which are the vajra and the vajra bell. Those are two of the most important dharma implements used in Vajrayana Buddhism. Vajras are made in several varieties including single-pronged, three-pronged, and five-pronged vajras. The Shingon School (Japanese Vajrayana) fashions the vajra with open prongs while Tibetan Schools prefer the vajra prongs to be closed.
The term vajra comprises of many different meanings and usages. We will not discuss all of them here. I personally feel that the vajra has three meanings: immutable, immortal, and bodhicitta. The term immutable refers to its strength, unchanging in shape, unfading in color, and eternally indestructible. The term immortal means that there is no death, not coming or going; it is everlasting. The term bodhicitta is an analogy, symbolizing the heart of a buddha, eradicating all obstacles of dissonant emotions, possessing perfect wisdom and compassion, and everything is completely perfect.
My realization is:
My life is everlasting and immortal. Your life is everlasting and immortal. Other people’s lives are also everlasting and immortal.
Where was I before my birth?
My answer: “I was in deep sleep, in meditation.”
Where was I after my birth?
My answer: “I awoke, emerged from meditation, and I manifested.”
Where will I be after my death?
My answer: “There is no death; it is just the scenery of the original ground. There is no coming or going, no such thing as birth, no such thing as death. There isn’t anything at all.”
There is no sleep; there is no awaking; there is no meditation; there is no exiting meditation; there is no manifestation; and there is no non-manifestation.
There is neither birth nor death. That’s the way it intrinsically is.
My first two answers are phenomena-based. The third answer is formless. My enlightenment is that of third answer.
My noble students, do you all understand?
I hear my students calling out to me:
“Grand Master Lu, you have such great compassion, please rescue us!”
“Grand Master Lu, please protect us, bestow us with good fortune, and fulfill our wishes!”
“Grand Master Lu, for the sake of sentient beings, please teach us Buddhadharma so that we can leave suffering and gain happiness. Please don’t forsake anyone.”
“Grand Master Lu, please demonstrate your great miraculous power to prevent disasters from happening, increase our fortune and wisdom, bless our families to stay together, and make all of our enemies retreat.”
“Grand Master Lu, please take us to the Pure Land so we are free from transmigrating in the six realms of cyclic existence.”
“Grand Master Lu, I vow to attain enlightenment instantly, and to attain buddhahood in this very body.”
I did not do anything, I also did not not-do anything; everything is already completed.
Can everyone understand my enlightenment, the enlightenment of this immortal vajra? Can you do it?
Sever the absolute authority,
Then you can find the original appearance.
You only need to clearly recognize the meaning of the word, buddha,
Then you will not have attachment towards, nor obscurations of, buddha.
You can experience and realize the supreme truth without any limits.
Yet, the “self” is the supreme truth,
Which is reaching absolute liberation.
15. I Am a Non-Buddhist Heathen
I have been regarded as a non-Buddhist heathen since I was twenty-six years old. The reasons were simple: I had my divine eyes opened at age twenty-six; I visited heaven and hell; I saw that my past incarnation was Padmakumara and my pure land was the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds; I interacted with beings from spiritual worlds constantly, etc. These experiences set me apart from the Buddhist community in Taiwan, as if we were singing different tunes.
In the blink of an eye, I became extremely famous. My house was packed with visitors every day like a busy market. I saw around three hundred people daily who came seeking my guidance, help, or asking me to foretell their future. They all left saying I was so accurate and good. I helped cure many complicated and strange illnesses. I also cured countless strange illnesses caused by spirits (miracles). The entire religious community [of Taiwan] all knew about one person, and he was Sheng-yen Lu.
However, [the Chinese] Buddhist community kicked me out and branded me as a non-Buddhist heathen. This is a label that can never be removed once it has been given. Later, I formally studied Buddhism. Then, the Buddhist community branded me as a non-Buddhist-heathen-masquerading-as-a-Buddhist.
This is the label that I was forced to wear all my life. I was regarded to be different and they treated me differently. The Buddhist community classified me as a non-Buddhist heathen – not part of authentic Buddhism. They said that I was a mutation, a mutant, and an alien. Even worse, they regarded me as a natural disaster like flood, a monster, and the devil. (I observed myself and saw that I was very genuine, not as scary as they made me out to be).
After my awakening, I negated differences. Please note the word “differences.” I realized the Prajnaparamita class of Buddhist scriptures. There are no differences in Prajnaparamita. After my enlightenment, my patience and tolerance became exceptional. I became extremely carefree and relaxed, I passionately embraced the beauty of nature. I gained complete control over my own happiness and nothing really bothered me. I delivered sentient beings when the affinity presented itself. I let the good and the bad come and go as they pleased.
I wrote this verse:
Forty years, I crisscrossed this world.
Meeting countless people, who stay or go.
Numbers of Dharma teachings given, never counted.
No suffering, happiness, or cessation.
Listen to this one piece of advice from me. No matter whether something is alive or not, everything is all part of this boundless unity. Differentiation is not yet enlightened; non-differentiation is great enlightenment.
Awaken, awaken, awaken, awaken, awaken, awaken, awaken, have you awakened yet?
Forty years, I crisscrossed this world.
Meeting countless people, who stay or go.
Never counting the numbers of Dharma teachings given.
No suffering, no happiness, or cessation.
16. The Supremely Enlightened One
I can say that I don’t need to learn anymore! I can also say that I don’t need to cultivate anymore! This is because I am someone who is supremely enlightened.
Anyone who hears this declaration would certainly respond that this person is insane, arrogant, and shameless! “Is this person crazy? How can this person reach the state of the Buddha? He must be a big fraud, a great charlatan, this Sheng-yen Lu! A great conman, this Sheng-yen Lu! The greatest fraud, this Sheng-yen Lu!” The people of this world will forever criticize me, even after I die, saying that the world only has one Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha. There isn’t a second Buddha, Sheng-yen Lu.
I will earnestly tell everyone: Fahua Xuanzan [A commentary on the Lotus Sutra] states, “The Three Higher Trainings are discipline, meditation, and wisdom. Diligently cultivating these trainings is called ‘have learned’ [saiksa]. Once these trainings are perfected, the cultivation may cease. This is called ‘non-learning’ [asaiksa].”
The Fahua Jiaxiangshu [another commentary on the Lotus Sutra] states, “If one studies with wholehearted devotion to find the supreme truth and practices with vigor and perseverance, then it is called ‘learning.’ If the heart seeking for the truth is fulfilled and there is no need to progress further, it is called ‘non-learning.'”
The Path of Non-learning is one of the three paths. It is the path which severs the confusion of the Three Realms, realizes and experiences the supreme truth, attains perfect wisdom and exhausts all needs for additional learning. Non-learning really does exist.
I also want to point out that the Kagyu School’s Mahamudra stages are:
1. One-pointedness Yoga
2. Simplicity Yoga
3. One-taste Yoga
4. Non-meditation Yoga
Non-cultivation [which refers to non-meditation yoga] does exist.
I will let everyone take a look at my enlightenment! My essence is the bliss of nirvana. Pay attention, everyone. Nirvana is non-learning; nirvana is non-cultivation; nirvana is meditation; nirvana is always there; nirvana is making no distinction.
Pay attention, everyone: My physical manifestation is reincarnation. Reincarnation is the Buddha; reincarnation is the world’s savior; reincarnation is exiting meditation; reincarnation is one with supreme enlightenment; and reincarnation is non-differentiation.
My validation of enlightenment is: nirvana and reincarnation is one-and-the-same, reincarnation and nirvana is one-and-the-same. Nirvana is reincarnation. Reincarnation is nirvana.
That was why I said, “Non-learning is also learning. Non-cultivation is also cultivation. This is called the learning of non-learning, the cultivation of non-cultivation. I have given a very detailed explanation and everyone should reflect on it. If you still don’t understand, I should hit you with a stick. You might as well stay confused forever! You’re killing me!
27. Criticism of Vajrayana
There are lots of modern Buddhist practitioners today criticizing Vajrayana. One Yogacara [“Mind-only”] school practitioner charged, “Tibetan Buddhism is a faith perverted by sexual obscenity.” Others mocked: “Vajrayana Buddhism is a monster bred from the fusion of Brahmanism and Hinduism.” “Shakyamuni Buddha only taught what is contained in the earliest form of Buddhism. Vajrayana Buddhism permits gods to be part of Buddhism which is contrary to Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings.” “Do not conduct fire homas. The fire homa offering is a religious ritual of Brahmanism and Hinduism, forbidden by Shakyamuni Buddha.” “The mantras found in Buddhist sutras were added by other people during later eras.” “We have to abide by the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, and the Buddha only taught what is found in the earliest form of Buddhism.” After the Buddha entered nirvana, Mahayana Buddhism attained ascension.
Later, it was the ascension of Vajrayana Buddhism. This marked the gradual corruption of the Buddha-dharma. Vajrayana Buddhism began to flourish about five hundred to one thousand years after the Buddha’s nirvana. This is the Age of Dharma Degeneration and Extinction. “Vajrayana Buddhism’s ascension signified the destruction of Buddhism. Vajrayana Buddhism is a corrupted faith that is not true Buddhism.” “Vajrayana is really a heathen faith.”
The followers of the earliest form of Buddhism, the Hinayana Buddhist monks, firmly believe that Shakyamuni Buddha only taught the earliest form of Buddhism. Only the cultivation methods used by Sariputra, Mahamaudgalyayana, Mahakasyapa, Ananda, and other [direct disciples of the Shakyamuni Buddha] are genuine Buddhist practices. They believe that the Mahayana scriptures are forgeries. Others say that Vajrayana teachings are the fusion of Brahmanism and Hinduism. These types of arguments are very persuasive to Buddhist followers, as if Shakyamuni Buddha only taught the earliest form of Buddhism.
In reality, Shakyamuni Buddha embedded Mahayana philosophies in the Hinayana scriptures and codes of discipline, and only Mahayana philosophies can fully express the essence of Buddhism.
Furthermore, Buddhist teachings never cast away Brahma. Lord Buddha also understood the need to be inclusive toward Brahmanism and Hinduism. Vajrayana Buddhism emerged with the inclusion of folk beliefs [of India] which facilitated greater acceptance of the Buddhist teachings by the general populace. Vajrayana Buddhism conveys the essence of Buddhist teachings in stages by being inclusive (generation stage) [in the introductory phase], and then pristine (perfection stage) [in the advance phase]. Buddhism’s demise in India was caused by Islamic invasions, and not caused by the ascension of Vajrayana Buddhism.
What does all of this have anything to do with enlightenment?
I say that they are related.
Someone asked me, “[When Master] Danxia burnt wooden buddha statues, did buddhas get burned?”
I replied, “The buddhas weren’t burnt.”
The person then asked, “When the offerings were burnt in fire homas, did buddhas come to receive the offerings?”
I answered, “The buddhas did not consume the offerings.”
The person pressed, “If buddhas don’t consume the offerings, then why should people conduct fire homa offerings?”
I countered, “Do you eat every day? Do you burn incense and make water offerings [every day]?”
The person fell silent.
Let me ask you, “What did you realize from this simple series of questions?”
A person who realizes the emptiness of substantiality,
Would not be attached to the phenomenal world.
Without attachment, there would not be any dissonant emotions.
Everything is empty of substantiality.
Everything is free from the bondage of dissonant emotions.
28. How Much Time Is Left in This Life?
There was a rhyme that laments studying geometry back in my school days.
It went like this:
Time left in this life, how much ?
Learn geometry, how much more?
Don’t learn geometry, how much less?
How much time is left in this life?
Life, how much time is left?
In retrospect, this rhyme lamenting studying geometry actually contains some profound truths of life.
In the span of a hundred years , what do you really capture? What do you really accomplish? What honor do you really achieve? What do you really attain? If you win a Nobel Prize, Academy Award for Motion Picture, Olympic Gold Medal, Top Prize for Innovation, Most Valuable Player, or are listed as one of the wealthiest people in the world, you should be at the top of your field and world famous. But, after a hundred years, what do you really gain if you won? If you didn’t win, what do you really lose?
Have you thought about the real value of these awards? What value do these awards add to your life? What do these achievements fulfill? For example, Yang Chuan-kwang was an Olympic Silver Medalist for Decathlon. What good did this silver medal do for him in his life? What good does it do for him after his death? How long does the honor and fame last? Gradually, it all fades away. Who will remember him? I sighed, “Oh heavens, Oh heavens!”
All these examples can be summed up with one unflinchingly direct Buddhist saying – “for a time.” Between one hundred years before the beginning of the Common Era and the second century of Common Era, the Mahayana prajna series of scriptures were recorded. The main topic of these scriptures is the subject of emptiness. Don’t you think so? The hundred year life span is emptiness, and so are all the awards. All that you can attain is emptiness; all the accomplishments are emptiness. All the honors are emptiness. Everything that you think you can cling onto is all emptiness, all is emptiness.
Some people may quickly jump to conclusions and assume that Sheng-yen Lu’s enlightenment must be the realization of emptiness. Emptiness must be enlightenment.
I said, “That’s not it.”
I will explain further. Someone brought a picture of me, and said, “This is Sheng-yen Lu.”
I asked him, “If the guy in the picture is Sheng-yen Lu, then who am I?”
He said, “One and the same.”
I asked, “So if I die, is the picture Sheng-yen Lu?”
The person didn’t know how to answer my question.
Please reflect on this question, “Is the picture Sheng-yen Lu?” (Who is Sheng-yen Lu? Who is Sheng-yen Lu?)
29. The Buddhas of the Seventeenth Stage
I guarantee that this topic will cause a great uproar and commotion in the Buddhist community once it is out. They will declare that “Sheng-yen Lu has lost his mind and gone crazy!!!” “Sheng-yen Lu is subverting Buddha-dharma. He has a lot of nerve. No one else in this world has got more nerve than he does.” “What kind of stunt is Sheng-yen Lu pulling?” “How can you go higher than the highest?” “This is just bullshit!” “Don’t believe him!”
Those who have studied Buddhism know that the ten stages of bodhisattvas are:
Stage of Joy [Pramudita].
Stage of Purity [Vimala], liberation from all forms of defilements.
Stage of Luminous Light [Prabhakari], where the radiance of wisdom is generated.
Stage of Flaming Wisdom [Arcismati].
Stage of Overcoming Utmost Difficulties [Sudurjaya].
Stage of Open Way of Wisdom [Abhimukhi].
Stage of Far Reaching [Duramgama].
Stage of Immovability [Acala].
Stage Excellent Wisdom [Sadhumati].
Stage of Dharma Cloud [Dharmamegha].
The next stage is perfect enlightenment, [in which the wise being exhibits] thirty two marks of perfection and a vast amount of merits and virtues. Then, wonderful enlightenment, supreme buddhahood, is the following stage. [A buddha with] perfect enlightenment is an eleventh stage buddha , and [a buddha with] wonderful enlightenment is a twelfth stage buddha.
As far as I know, the Thousand-armed Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva has eleven heads. The topmost head is that of Amitabha Buddha, followed by that of Vajrapani, followed by the remaining heads of the Nine-headed Avalokitesvara (symbolizing the eleventh stage). Hence, the Thousand-armed Avalokitesvara is an eleventh stage buddha (The Tathagata Who Clearly Understands the True Law).
Shakyamuni Buddha attained wonderful enlightenment fruition, the four kinds of nirvana, and the perfection of four wisdoms. Hence, he is a twelfth stage buddha. [What about] the Great All-illuminating Sun Tathagata, Mahavairocana Buddha? He attained the perfection of five wisdoms. He is a thirteenth stage buddha (dharmakaya). Last but not least, there is Adi Buddha, who is revered as the Primordial Buddha in Vajrayana Buddhism; he is at the sixteenth stage.
Okay, now Sheng-yen Lu has discovered that there are buddhas above the Primordial Buddha, Adi Buddha. Beyond Adi Buddha, there are buddhas of the seventeenth stage. I deem these buddhas’ names to be “Nameless Buddhas.” All the buddhas of seventeenth stage are all nameless, formless, action-less, accomplishment-less, and nothing can be used to describe them.
The proper name for all the seventeenth stage buddhas collectively are Nameless Buddhas. You can only really be called the enlightened one after you have discovered the seventeenth stage buddha. That is to say [true nature is] not buddha, not heart, nor object.
If you review the Sutra of Buddhas’ Names, there are many buddhas’ names mentioned. You will find that many buddhas have the same name. There are quadrillions of buddhas named Lamp-burning Buddha. There are also millions of buddhas named Shakyamuni Buddha. As long as a buddha has a name, he is below the sixteenth stage. The buddhas of the seventeenth stage do not have names. Hence, I call them Nameless Buddhas. I am a genuinely enlightened one, so [I know that it is a fact]; there isn’t anything more real than this. Only those who discover the seventeenth stage buddhas are supreme enlightened ones.
Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva’s compassion
Manjushri Bodhisattva’s wisdom
Vajrapani Bodhisattva’s dharma power
Compassion, wisdom, plus dharma power
Equals the genuine reality
37. Equality, Equality, Equality, Equality, Equality
I wrote the word “equality” five times for the title of this chapter to sing the praise that Mahavairocana Tathagata is marvelous; Aksobhya Tathagata is marvelous; Ratnasambhava Tathagata is marvelous; Amitabha Tathagata is marvelous; and Amoghasiddhi Tathagata is marvelous. They are the embodiment of the five kinds of wisdoms: the Wisdom of Ultimate Reality, the Great Mirror-like Wisdom, the Wisdom of Equality in Nature, the Wisdom of Discerning Awareness, and the All-accomplishing Wisdom.
These five wisdoms represent five kinds of realizations: Purity, vajra, essence, dharma, and karma. The end results are the equality of the inconceivable purity; the equality of the inconceivable vajra; the equality of the inconceivable essence of doctrines; the equality of the inconceivable dharma; and the equality of the inconceivable karma.
All sentient beings possess the innate purity; all sentient beings are absolutely indestructible [vajra]; all sentient beings fully possess the essence of the same value; all sentient beings have equality in their intrinsic natures; and all sentient beings innately are one.
These are my realizations of purity, vajra, essence, dharma, and karma. In the end, all differentiations are innately without differentiation. This is the absolute realization.
I am reminded of the reason that Mahavairocana Tathagata formed the Supreme Wisdom Mudra. The Supreme Wisdom Mudra is formed by the right hand holding the left hand’s index finger, with the right thumb on the top of the left index finger, joining the left and right hands together. This is mutual equality, equality, equality, equality, and equality. Having expressed it this way, I think that those students with great capacity should have grasped the meaning. Yet, the students with less capacity may still be confused.
Aye, how should I phrase this?
Everyone should carefully reflect on Zen Master Benkong’s verse:
Heart is the body of innate nature,
Innate nature is the application of the heart.
Heart and innate nature are one and the same,
What difference is there between them?
Myriad external appearances obscured the origin,
Just too difficult for one to comprehend.
The past and present ordinary and noble beings,
Are no different than illusions and dreams.
I used the nature of the nose to guide a monk:
I asked the monk, “What is your nose for?”
He replied, “To smell.”
I inquired, “If you cover your nose, does the fragrance still exist?”
He replied, “I won’t be able to smell it.”
I asked, “Does the fragrance still exist?”
He answered, “It is still there.”
I told him that it doesn’t matter whether he has a nose or not, or whether he is able to smell or not, the fragrance is still there. If you have some realizations, please write an essay on the topic of “What is differentiation? What is non-differentiation?”
49. Speaking on Non-arising Again
Maybe you will let out a big sigh of relief as you come to this last chapter, saying to yourself, “I am finally going to find enlightenment.”
If so, I would ask reader A, “Tell me, what do you think enlightenment is?”
Reader A may respond, “Enlightenment is the eighth consciousness, the tathagatagarbha consciousness, realizing this eighth consciousness.”
To this I would say, “Way off base. There still remains a consciousness.”
Reader B may answer, “Enlightenment is equality of all equality, equality of everything.”
To this I would say, “Wrong realization.”
Reader C may answer, “Enlightenment is nothing to gain, no big deal, not abiding anywhere.”
And I would say, “You are only close.”
Reader D may answer, “Awakening is the Five Buddhas and their corresponding Five Wisdoms.”
I would respond, “That is not enlightenment at all. Any Buddhist would know about the Five Buddhas and their Five Wisdoms. Just as any Buddhist would also know about the eighth, ninth, and tenth consciousness.”
Once again I will ask, “What do you think enlightenment is?”
Reader E may answer, “Madhyamaka [Middle Way] says enlightenment is sublime substantiality within emptiness. Yogacara [Mind-Only] says enlightenment is non-existence of the external world and everything is derived from the mind.”
I would say, “You missed.”
Reader F may answer, “Enlightenment is not attached to anything, no obscuration, and not even a trace of attachment.”
I would say, “No, a trace still remains.”
Reader G may answer, “Enlightenment is only one word,
I would say, “That is also not it. That is clinging to an extreme.”
Reader H may say, “Enlightenment is only one word, ‘buddha. ‘ “
I would reply, “Garbage.”
Reader I may say, “Enlightenment is only one word, ‘heart.'”
I would respond, “Where is this heart? Tell me, where is this heart?”
Reader J may say, “Enlightenment is formless, without expectation, everything is pristine, and pristine purity of self-nature.”
I would say, “Just a bit off.”
Reader K may say, “Enlightenment is nowhere to be found, ineffable, never said a word.”
I would say, “Almost there!”
Reader L may say, “Enlightenment is just non-arising.”
I would say, “Off just ever so slightly.”
Reader M may say, “Enlightenment is not buddha, not heart, and not object.”
I would say, “This answer is barely acceptable.”
Reader N may say, “Enlightenment is like a dream, illusion, bubble, and shadow.”
I would say, “Flashes of lightning and fire sparks are not enlightenment.”
Reader O may say, “Enlightenment is a flower’s reflection in the mirror or a moon’s image in water.”
I would say, “You also didn’t hit it on the mark. You are only treating it as an illusion.”
Reader P may say, “Would Grand Master Lu please answer the question? What is enlightenment?”
I would say, “Enlightenment is, it is, it is… Does everyone understand? Reflect upon it. What is this ‘it’?”
Then, I would demonstrate the pose, “golden rooster standing on one leg.”
A wise student may shout, “Enlightenment is the word ‘I’.”
I would reply, “Take a hike!”
A wiser student may shout, “Enlightenment is unity of all phenomena.”
I would answer, “Unity my butt.”
With everyone quiet and silent, I would nod my head and say, “This is the time, this is the time.”
I wonder if you understand this chapter on non-arisin