OFFICE OF H.H.
DORJE CHANG BUDDHA III
(Announcement Number 40th)
This announcement that is
being disseminated contains the great dharma of zen (dhyana in Sanskrit but
generally known as zen) practice that H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III taught a
group of cultivators in March of 2013 in the Hall of the Three Holy Ones at
Bodhi Monastery in the United States. Today is December 4, 2013. We now for the
first time formally publish this great dharma on the internet.
Today H.H. Dorje Chang
Buddha III performed an initiation and transmission involving necessary mantras
in the practice of zen. Additionally, this great dharma enables everyone to
understand what the standard, proper practice of zen actually is. All of you
will now be able to understand what the levels of those zen practice dharmas
you encountered before this announcement actually are and whether such dharmas
are correct. This great dharma will enable you to know whether those masters
who teach you are qualified to give discourses on the dharma. Are those masters
clear about what the practice of zen is? Are they clear about what zen practice
is in the entirety of the Buddha-dharma? If one does not even understand zen
practice, can one understand the Buddha-dharma? If one does not understand zen
practice, one of course does not understand the meaning of zen. One also does
not understand the meaning of samadhi. Thus, just the fact that one does not
understand the meaning of zen practice shows that one does not understand Buddhism
at all. Correspondingly, it shows that one also does not understand the
Therefore, when a group of
masters entreated H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III to let them give discourses on
the dharma to their disciples, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III said the following:
Anyone who is a qualified master may give discourses on the dharma as long as
he or she truly understands Buddha-dharma and transmits dharma according to the
teachings. However, those who recklessly expound Buddha-dharma are certainly
not qualified to give discourses on the dharma. Therefore, masters must pass a
test. Only then may they give discourses on the dharma. Otherwise, one is not
qualified to give discourses on the dharma no matter what one's status may be.
That is because giving discourses without understanding Buddhism and
Buddha-dharma is undoubtedly an act of deceiving the public. Thus, people who
do not understand Buddha-dharma are not allowed to give discourses on the
dharma. That is because the concept of discourses on the dharma means that
those Buddhists who listen to the discourses have to receive them as being the
truth. If what they are receiving is evil karma, then their wisdom-roots will
This not only applies to not
understanding the practice of zen. It applies to other problematic aspects,
such as misunderstanding the sutras. All of these seriously harm the interests
of living beings or even mislead practitioners. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III
will not approve of any words or actions that harm or destroy the interests of
living beings. With respect to anyone who pretends to understand but who truly
does not understand yet who still wants to give so-called discourses on the
dharma, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has said that He has no right to control everyone.
However, those who give erroneous discourses on the dharma will be unable to
bear the ensuing karmic consequences. That is because the karmic hindrance
produced from the sin of defiling the minds of living beings for millions of
eons is passed on to those people who listen to the erroneous discourses.
Just as expected, the
results of the exam on zen were completely as H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III
thought they would be. There were those of holy virtue who passed, including
one with the status of three stars sun-moon wheel. There was a person of holy
virtue with the status of two stars sun-moon wheel who barely passed with a
score of 68. A person with the status of one star sun-moon wheel got a score of
61. Nobody else is qualified to give discourses on the dharma, no matter what
their status may be. That is because they do not understand even basic
Buddha-dharma. There was even someone who is the reincarnation of a very famous
person whose answer to the exam question was devoid of a single good point. Moreover,
the answer was unresponsive to the question and full of fallacies. How can this
type of people, who on the surface are figures within Buddhism but who in
essence are heretics who deceive disciples, be allowed to give discourses on
Buddha-dharma and thereby mislead practitioners?
Therefore, those who did not
pass that exam, no matter who they may be, may only lead people in respectfully
listening to recorded dharma discourses given by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III.
What those of you who are masters say to your disciples can be used as a
reference only and cannot be used as the basis for set principles. With respect
to receiving disciples who take refuge, transmitting rituals, and transmitting
mantras, this is what you should do. You should tell people about the ten kinds
of wholesome behavior, the four immeasurable states of mind, the six
perfections, bodhicitta, the precepts, and the disciplines. However, you
absolutely may not deviate from the sutras. You also may not pretend to
understand that which you do not understand. Anyone who pretends to understand
that which he does not understand, who cooks up tales and speaks recklessly, is
definitely engaging in the conduct of a fraud, the conduct of an evil spirit.
Below is the complete
content of "The Great Dharma of Zen Practice" expounded by H.H. Dorje
Chang Buddha III in March of 2013. This is a transcription of a discourse on
dharma given impromptu.
H.H. DORJE CHANG BUDDHA III EXPOUNDS
"THE GREAT DHARMA OF ZEN PRACTICE"
Sit down, everyone.
Has everyone sat down? Is
(Everyone answers: Yes.)
First, put your palms
together. Recite the Taking Refuge Vows once. Generate the four immeasurable
states of mind and bodhicitta. All right, listen attentively. I will now begin
to expound the dharma for all of you.
I summoned you disciples to
gather here today mainly in response to the requests of some Westerners who are
white, black, and Hispanic, as well as in response to some Asians. Some of
those people are rinpoches. You have said that you especially like zen
(pronounced chan in Chinese) and that you want to learn the practice of zen.
Therefore, today I have come here to fulfill your wishes. I will transmit to
all of you a high-level great dharma of zen.
Actually, all of you sitting
here have heard the name "zen practice dharma." However, truthfully
speaking, none of you know what is meant by zen practice. I can say that all of
you present here and even many masters who teach zen practice, which include
some of you sitting here today, do not understand what true zen practice is. Is
what I just said going too far? I tell you unequivocally that what I just said
is not going too far in the least! I will now ask you a few simple questions.
What is zen practice? What is it used for? Why should one practice zen? What is
the goal of zen practice? What is zen? Do you know? Can those of you who are
masters and who teach zen practice answer me?
(Some people say: We are not
very clear about such things. Would the Buddha please teach such dharma.)
I am one with a heart of
humility. It would be acceptable for you to just call me Master. You say you
are not very clear about such things. Actually, that is wrong. It is not that
you are not very clear about such things. Even if you claimed to know, your
understanding would be wrong. If you do not even understand what the concept of
zen is after all, if you know nothing about the path of zen yet still want to
teach it to people, that would be harming living beings and ruining people's
wisdom-roots! You would have to bear the consequences of such karma. Human life
is a few dozen years or a hundred years. Why would you want to commit such an
Today I will first talk
about zen. Zen is divided into the four kinds of zen and eight kinds of
samadhi. Of course, you know about these. The sutras contain this term. What,
after all, are the four kinds of zen and eight kinds of samadhi used for? Why
does one engage in zen? What are the effects of zen? All of you have scanty
knowledge of the answers to such questions. Many people like to engage in
sitting zen. Many people like to practice zen . What do they actually want to
accomplish? What do they want to obtain? What goal do they want to achieve?
Everyone should first clearly understand the answers to these questions.
Within Buddhism, there are
more practitioners who engage in zen practice than there are practitioners of
any other dharma. Moreover, most of them are learned people. However, they are
all in blind pursuit. I will not speak any more about this now. I will now directly
teach zen. Zen is a dharma method. It is one type of dharma practice that is
part of the Buddha-dharma taught by the Buddha. However, this dharma practice
is independent. Nonetheless, the dharma-flavor and the key or essence of this
dharma practice relate to the practice of any dharma method.
To put it concisely, zen is
the absolute truth. The absolute truth is truth that never perishes. It is the
source of the unity and equality of the three times: past, present, and future.
This is the meaning of zen. Of course, there are many other ways of expressing
this. I will not at this time talk about other theories. Those who engage in
zen practice should understand certain simple principles. Today I will use the
simplest, easiest to understand principles to teach you, principles that relate
to a state when consciousness transforms.
That is, when consciousness
that differentiates or discriminates changes into a state in which
consciousness does not differentiate or discriminate, what is that
non-conscious state? Is it devoid of wild fancy and improper thoughts? Is it
nothingness? Is it very pure? Such an understanding is completely erroneous.
All of you who want to thoroughly understand this non-conscious state must
study Expounding the Absolute Truth Through the Heart Sutra that I spoke. After
you study Expounding the Absolute Truth Through the Heart Sutra, you will
apprehend what we are searching for, what our goal is, what we want to find,
what we want to awaken to, and what we want to realize in the religious truths
Given that, will we be able
to find the thing that we want to find? We will never find that thing through
searching! As long as we search for it, we will not find it! Why will we not
find it? It is because when we search we must use our own consciousness to
search. It is like going outside and searching everywhere for your own child
who is already being carried on your own back. You say, "Oh no, where did
my child go? What place did my child go to?" You will never find your
child since you are the one who is actually carrying the child on your back.
Therefore, you will never
find zen by using consciousness, by using the mind to intentionally search. A
type of practice method is necessary to find zen. Zen itself is not a practice
method. However, we can find, obtain, and realize zen only through a practice
method. Listen attentively because this is not at all easy to understand. If
you do not listen carefully, if your thoughts are not focused, you will not
understand. Today I will teach all of you this method of practicing zen.
Let's first understand the
basic concept of zen. With this basis, it will be easier to obtain zen. We want
to obtain a state of zen. It is called a state. Actually, there is no state. If
a state appears and we are able to use our consciousness to differentiate what
type of state has appeared, then that already is not zen. However, the word
state must be used as a figure of speech; otherwise, there are no words to
express this. If state is not used, what word should be used? There has to be a
term to express it.
What thing is that state? It
is a thing that enables you to not be born and not die. That thing is you. You
are that thing. The word thing is used as a figure of speech. It is an
expedient way to explain something. Otherwise, just like with the word state,
there would be no word to express it. Precisely because of this, there is the
saying, "No speaking, no activities of consciousness." Simply put,
the goal of practicing zen is enlightenment! The goal of enlightenment is to
obtain the thing that is not born and does not die! It is a so-called thing.
There is no such thing. I am talking about a so-called thing or state.
Actually, there is no such thing. That is because if such a "thing"
exists, it was produced by a differentiation or discrimination made in our
consciousness. It was produced out of our thoughts.
For example, this is a round
thing. This is a long thing, both ends of which are black. It is a pen. This is
a string of beads. This is an image of a Buddha. This is a lotus. This is an
expanse of emptiness. Who told you all of that? It came from differentiations,
distinctions, or identifications made in your own consciousness. If your
consciousness can distinguish and identify things such as an image of a Buddha
or a lotus, then you are already not zen. Instead, your mind of differentiating
thoughts is that of an ordinary person.
I return to what I said. If
you read and are able to understand Expounding the Absolute Truth Through the
Heart Sutra, you will solve all forms of zen. That is, you will obtain all
forms of zen! Of course, you might say, "Since I have read treatises and
writings by Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Dignaga, Candrakirti, Fuhu, Asanga,
Vasubandhu, Santideva, Xuanzang, and others of prior generations, I shouldn't
have to read Expounding the Absolute Truth Through the Heart Sutra,
right?" All I can tell you today is that those treatises and writings that
you read are not bad, since they are expositions by people on the level of a
patriarch. However, those books do not have the effect of Expounding the
Absolute Truth Through the Heart Sutra. So I reiterate that you must study
Expounding the Absolute Truth Through the Heart Sutra! If you truly understand
it through studying it, you will have succeeded.
Speaking of zen, there are a
great many types of zen. Other than the states of the four kinds of zen and
eight kinds of samadhi, there are many methods to reach awakening or
enlightenment. Each of those methods is different. The relative level of each
method is also different. There is tathagata zen, patriarchal zen, altar lamp
zen, wooden fish zen, thought cessation zen, one sense organ zen, unification
of two states zen, introspection zen, breath counting zen, pure water zen,
dharma characteristics zen, focusing on moon zen, guard the orifices zen, tummo
(inner-heat) zen, cold air zen, "who is chanting the name of Amitabha
Buddha?" zen, afflictions elimination zen, great enlightenment zen, and
immovable zen of kalachakra. Of course, there are even more zen methods, a
great many more. This would include the so-called cypress tree in front of
courtyard zen and the so-called no-voice, no speech zen.
There are many forms of zen.
There are so many. If I were to introduce you to them one by one, it would take
three to five years. Therefore, today I will not go into such detail. What you
mainly want to understand is what zen is, what you want to attain as a goal in
engaging in zen practice. You want to attain introspection, enlightenment,
understanding of your mind and seeing your original nature. You want to see
your own original nature that was not born and does not die! Do you understand?
I return to that principle: After you study and understand Expounding the
Absolute Truth Through the Heart Sutra, zen will be kid's stuff. At that time,
you naturally will clearly understand in one reading the Diamond Sutra and the
Sutra on Understanding and Realizing the Definitive Truth, and you will realize
the sameness of principles and essence.
We engage in zen for the
purpose of realizing original nature, emptiness, or dharmakaya. This dharmakaya
was not born and does not die. I will give an example to all of you. Some
methods of zen practice are truly inexplicable but unfathomably profound. Take,
for example, the Gaomin Monastery in Yangzhou. In ancient times, a great number
of people there became accomplished through the practice of zen. At the Gaomin
Monastery in Yangzhou, basically every seven days one person would awaken to
zen, becoming enlightened and accomplished. That being the case, how did they
do their zen practice? The dharma methods that they applied were not called by
any of the names of those forms of zen that I just mentioned. Those dharma
methods also did not include any of the zen practice techniques of those forms
of zen that I just mentioned. That is why I say that there are a great many zen
First of all, in ancient
times when someone entered the Gaomin Monastery to practice zen, that person
would first have to sign an agreement. That agreement was very simple. To put
it bluntly, they agreed that they could be beaten to death with impunity. The
one who beat them to death would not have to lose his own life. Additionally,
they agreed to voluntarily carry out the dharma rules of the monastery. After
they entered the monastery, there were many ways for them to practice zen. Here
I will talk about three of those ways. They had to give up all of the dharmas
that they previously learned. As soon as one arrived at Gaomin Monastery and
entered the zen hall, one could not apply any previously learned dharmas.
Five people carried cudgels.
Those five were called "the five great cudgel carriers." Their
specific task was to beat people. The practitioners had periods of running zen,
each of which lasted the time it took for a stick of incense to burn from top
to bottom. The stick of incense was not long. It was only this long. The
practitioners had to jog. In the zen hall, many practitioners formed a circle
and jogged. As they jogged, one of the cudgel carriers would strike his cudgel
against something, which made a loud noise. As soon as he struck his cudgel
against something, that loud noise sounded. When the jogging practitioners
heard the striking sound from the cudgel, they had to immediately stop jogging.
They were not allowed to jog even one more step. When the striking sound of the
cudgel sounded again, they had to immediately resume their jogging. Have any of
you seen a cudgel used by a cudgel carrier in a zen hall?
(Everyone answers: No.)
Sometime in the future I
will find a time to show you a cudgel from the Gaomin Monastery in Yangzhou
that was used in the past. As soon as the striking sound from his cudgel
sounded, if you were still jogging, you would be taken aside and beaten to
death. If you were not beaten to death, you were at the very least maimed.
Thus, the minds of those practitioners were of course extremely focused. They
were always focused on the sound of the cudgel. They were always fearful that
they would be taken aside and severely beaten for continuing to jog after the
striking of the cudgel sounded, or, if they had stopped jogging, for not
immediately resuming their jogging after the striking of the cudgel sounded. Do
There was a sitting period,
which lasted as long as it took for a stick of incense to burn from top to
bottom. As soon as they sat down, the cudgel carriers in back of them would
keep an eye on them. While sitting, the practitioners were not allowed to move
in any way. The practitioners were absolutely forbidden to move. They were not
permitted to recite the name of any Buddha or chant any mantra. If one was seen
moving a bit, he was taken aside and severely beaten, to the extent of possible
death. Therefore, after they sat down in a settled posture, as soon as the
striking sound of the cudgel carrier's cudgel could be heard, they did not dare
move. They had to remain stiff for as long as the incense stick burned. They
did not dare move in the slightest. The focus of their minds increased a
hundredfold because they feared that they would inadvertently move, be taken
aside, and be beaten, resulting in injury, deformity, or death.
Another example is the
drinking of water. The practitioners had to go to the east side to draw water
and then carry the water with both hands to the west side. Only then could they
drink the water. Additionally, the cup of water had to be completely filled. If
any water spilled to the ground as they were carrying the cup with both hands,
they were taken aside and severely beaten.
Thus, the consciousness of
those who practiced zen there did not wander. They did not think of other
things. They did not rest. When they ate, they were not even allowed to make
the sound of chopsticks hitting the bowl. As a result, their consciousness was
forced to naturally not dare think of other things. Do you understand?
Therefore, it is only natural that after our consciousness is united, we will
not think things over and will not be distracted. Everyone fears being beaten
to death. Do you understand? When you fear being beaten to death and death is
used to force you, then you have no other choice. You must seriously deal with
the matter. That is why in such circumstances it is very easy to cut off
mistaken thinking. Through force, your thoughts are cut off. When your thoughts
are cut off through force, you original nature emerges. As soon as your
original nature emerges, you have broken through in your zen practice.
Therefore, by and large, at
each seven-day retreat someone broke through in his zen practice at that
monastery. Basically, there would be one breakthrough every seven days. How did
they know someone broke through? The day someone broke through, he was ordered
to write a verse for others to hear, enabling the abbot of the zen hall and the
zen master to recognize him. That practitioner was later tested again to see
whether he truly awakened to the truth through the practice of zen, whether he
understood his mind and saw his nature. Do you understand?
(Everyone answers: I understand.)
There is a school in
Buddhism called the zen (chan) school. The Sixth Patriarch of the zen (chan)
school was Patriarch Huineng. His was the sudden enlightenment method. At that
time there were two patriarchs. The other patriarch was called Shenxiu. His was
the gradual enlightenment method. Actually, both patriarchs were accomplished.
It is just that they did not have the same level of insight.
After Shenxiu attained a
certain level of realization, he composed a verse. The verse that he wrote is:
The body is the bodhi tree
The mind is like a bright
mirror on a stand
At all times wipe it
And let no dust sully it
He was saying that his body
is like the bodhi tree that symbolizes accomplishment. The meaning here is that
his body represents accomplishment. In other words, his body represents
liberation. He was saying his body is a state of liberation. Why is that tree
called the bodhi tree? It is because Sakyamuni Buddha attained full realization
and perfect enlightenment under the bodhi tree. That is why later on the phrase
"realize bodhi" was understood to mean become accomplished. That is
how that came to be.
Shenxiu was saying that his
body is the bodhi tree but that his mind is never confused, is clear, does not
violate the laws of cause and effect, and knows everything. Thus, he wrote,
"The mind is like a bright mirror on a stand." Additionally, he was
saying that he was cultivating himself at all times and all places, that he
would correct himself whenever he discovered something not good about himself.
Thus, he wrote, "At all times wipe it diligently." Here, wiping means
using a feather duster. He is saying that he constantly holds a feather duster
to whisk off his defilements. "And let no dust sully it" means that
he would not let dirty things sully him. Here, dirty things refer to impure
karma rather than dust visible to us. His meaning here was that he very
seriously corrects whatever is not good about himself so as to comport with the
teachings of the Buddha.
Generally, from Shenxiu’s
verse, people thought that he was already the bodhi tree. Moreover, he was
still correcting his mistakes. Of course, that is good, isn't it? However,
Huineng did not have such a view. That is because Shenxiu had not awakened to
the essence of zen. That is, he had not truly realized great, complete zen
enlightenment. His enlightenment was not thorough enlightenment. Huineng was
very young. He was a child, but he had attained thorough enlightenment. When
Huineng heard this verse by Shenxiu, he said, "I also want to write a
verse." He said he also wanted to write one. Because he was illiterate, he
asked a fellow-disciple to write his verse on a wall. Huineng responded to
Shenxiu's verse based on the content of Shenxiu's verse.
He wrote, "Bodhi
originally has no tree." That is, there is the term "bodhi
tree," but there is no such tree. That tree does not exist. "The
bright mirror on a stand is also not real." Although you know everything,
there is no such concrete thing and there is no knower of it. Thus, there is no
such real stand. Because Shenxiu said, "The mind is like a bright mirror
on a stand," Huineng said, "The bright mirror on a stand is also not
real." "Not a single thing has ever existed. What, then, could dust
sully?" Originally, there is not one thing. Where can dust go to sully?
What can dust sully? There is not one thing to be sullied by it. That is, there
is no place for thoughts to abide in Buddha-nature. Since thoughts cannot
arise, the zen state that is realized is one in which nothing sticks or clings.
Dust or anything else does not stick to or cling to anything. That is because
there is nothing to stick or cling to. Here you must carefully grasp what I am
saying. Do not think this state is the emptiness of the four elements. Do not
think that there is a state of emptiness. That would be a mistake. The truth is
that this state of emptiness also does not exist. Thus, there is no place to be
sullied by dust.
(Many Western rinpoches and
scholars who are Caucasian or of another ethnicity were in attendance. Several
people were all trying to translate a certain part of what the Buddha Master
was teaching. Listening to them, the Buddha Master knew that their translation
into English was erroneous and disordered. At once, the Buddha Master sternly
criticized them for their mistaken translation. The Buddha Master told them
they were not allowed to feign understanding or continue with their chaotic
translation. Finally, the Buddha Master instructed Bodi Wentu Rinpoche to
Shenxiu had a certain thing
called the bodhi tree. The Buddha-dharma state that he realized had a certain
thing that he wanted to have. However, Huineng then said that in the
Buddha-dharma even consciousness does not differentiate. What thing, then,
could still exist? No thing exists. What, then, could be sullied? Hence, in
emptiness there cannot be consciousness that differentiates. If one's
consciousness differentiates, one falls into the consciousness of any ordinary
person and departs from emptiness. Having departed from emptiness, one
naturally has the state of an ordinary person. Without consciousness that
differentiates, one enters the state of a holy person. However, it is by and
large impossible for people not to have a consciousness that differentiates.
That is why they must learn from the Buddhas and cultivate themselves.
I can see today that your
translation requires a great deal of effort and that many translation errors
have occurred. I do not want to waste time by continuing to speak about the
same subject matter. Without further delay, I will teach you zen practice
methods. All right, I will now directly teach you those methods.
With respect to the zen I
will be transmitting to everyone today, why is it that as soon as some people
sit down to meditate, if their thoughts are not scattered, then they fall
asleep; and if they do not fall asleep, then they are dull-minded; and if they
are not dull-minded, they are unfocused? It is mainly because of karmic
hindrances, evil karma, good karma, and ignorance-based karma that have
accumulated since beginning-less time spanning many eons. That is, these karmic
forces that are good, bad, and even neither good nor bad have besieged us.
Therefore, when we sit down to meditate, we cannot quiet down our thoughts.
Being unable to quiet down our thoughts, we will be even more unable to cut off
our thoughts. Being unable to cut off our thoughts, it will be totally
impossible for us to realize the zen state and enter samadhi. Thus, we will
have no way to attain enlightenment.
Therefore, people who
practice zen usually only know about teaching people how to practice zen. They
themselves practice zen. However, people who practice zen generally do not know
that there is a special mantra for zen practice. We must first purify the zen
practice altar area. That is, when we sit down to engage in zen practice, we
first have to recite this Altar Area Purification Mantra to remove impurities
from the altar area, to completely dispel evil energy that is harmful to us,
evil spirits, and other bad things. This is the first task we should do. If we
are in the mountains, we should also invite the mountain spirits to guard the
mountain passes, prevent the invasion of wild animals, and prevent the invasion
of mountain and tree goblins. Thus, there would be two dharmas to practice.
However, if we are in our homes, we do not have that problem. Still, people in
some places fear typhoons, while people in some other places fear earthquakes,
floods, and fires.
A very important point is
that people do not have the knowledge of the dharma that prevents external
hindrances while practicing the zen dharma. This dharma should first be applied
to take precautions against such hindrances. There are two parts. The first
part is the power of mantras. The other part is the power of one's body. With
respect to mantras, there are three mantras, each of which is indispensible. If
one of those three mantras is missing, it will be very difficult to have a
breakthrough in one's zen practice. One's zen practice will become one of those
ordinary, secular practices. The preventing external hindrances dharma is for
people who practice zen inside or outside their home, who practice zen in the
city rather than in the mountains.
The first mantra is called
the Altar Area Purification Mantra. This Altar Area Purification Mantra does
not necessarily mean purification of a mandala. Remember, altar area does not
have the meaning of mandala. Altar area is the place in your home where you do
your special daily dharma practice or any other place where you can sit in
meditation. This is one mantra.
The second mantra, which is
exclusively for the practice of zen, is to eliminate karma and contemplate
emptiness. It is used in zen, specifically for those who practice zen. It can
clear away one's karmic forces, temporarily removing them.
The third mantra is very
important. It is the Mind Quieting Mantra. This mantra requires very strict
observance of the precepts by those who practice zen. It is just as strict for
all Buddhists. The conduct of anyone who chants this mantra must truly be that
of a Bodhisattva. Such a person must strictly observe the precepts and
disciplines, including the five precepts, and must truly carry out the three
sets of pure precepts. If you commit a serious violation, this mantra will have
no beneficial effect. If you commit minor violation, the mantra will produce no
good results. It will be very difficult for you to attain quietude. If you
cannot attain quietude, you will not be able to enter samadhi.
This mantra is also called
Mantra to Read the Minds of Others. How could it be acceptable for a person to
attain the power to read the minds of others if that person does not observe
the precepts well and is not a true cultivator? If that were to happen,
Buddha-dharma realms would fall into chaos. That is because people who do not
observe the precepts well are likely to harm people and living beings and even
harm Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Evil people, deceivers, and precept violators
are not allowed to enter a Buddha-dharma domain.
Moreover, transmission of
this Mantra to Read the Minds of Others, this Mind Quieting Mantra, requires an
initiation in which bodhi holy water is sprinkled. You must especially bear in
mind that if someone who learns this mantra casually transmits it to a third
person without performing an initiation in conformity with the dharma, then
such a master who transmits this mantra will never in his or her lifetime
attain the power to read the minds of others no matter what the status of that
master is. This is indisputable!!!
Additionally, if you attain
the power to read the minds of others, you may not show others that power. If
you violate this rule, it is possible that you will lose your power to read the
minds of others. Instead, what you truly should show others is how to benefit
living beings, how to cut off attachment to self and selfishness, and how to
adopt the greatly compassionate and greatly kind conduct of a Bodhisattva. What
you should show others is the undertaking of a Bodhisattva. A Bodhisattva
enlightens himself first and then enlightens others. Therefore, you masters who
transmit this mantra should think over who you really are. Do not harm yourself
in order to show off in front of others.
You can practice zen with
only the first two mantras and without the Mind Quieting Mantra. It is just
that the results will be not be as good. These three mantras must first be
recited. Only after you have performed this task may you start your zen
practice. If you have not learned these three mantras, as long as your zen
practice is correct, you will also experience beneficial effects. However, the
beneficial effects you will be able to experience will at most be 30% of what
you would experience with such mantras. I will now transmit to you the first
mantra. I will teach it to you. I will now transmit to you that mantra. I do
not want to speak too long.
To learn the first mantra,
put your palms together. You must be very respectful and have a very sincere
heart. Close your eyes. After I have empowered all of you, I will begin to
recite that mantra....Repeat after me....All right, I have now transmitted to
you the first mantra.
The first mantra is the
Altar Area Purification Mantra for the practice of zen. The main function of
this mantra is to purify the altar area, to totally clear away all impure,
filthy things as well as all karmic impressions and obstructive karma. This is
directed at the place in which one practices zen. It is not directed at
oneself. Its main effect is directed at the altar area. Therefore, one's own
karmic forces are still not cleared away. That is why any top-notch zen
practice dharma must also include the Mantra to Remove Obstacles, Enter
Samadhi, Purify Karma, and Contemplate Emptiness, which is exclusively used for
the practice of zen. Everyone should now repeat after me as we recite this
Mantra to Remove Obstacles, Enter Samadhi, Purify Karma, and Contemplate
Emptiness. I will read a sentence, and all of you will then repeat that
sentence. I will now teach the second mantra. The words of that mantra will not
be written in the dharma booklet. Today I will not transmit the third mantra,
the Mind Quieting Mantra, because I did not bring with me bodhi holy water
necessary for such an initiation. Next time I will perform that initiation.
All right, I have finished
transmitting both mantras. Having finished transmitting them, I will now teach
everyone the methods of practicing zen. There are a great many principles and
theories relating to the practice of zen. I will not explain them in detail. In
order to save time, I will directly transmit to you the methods! I hope that
you will bear in mind that because the dharmas of zen practice that I will be
transmitting to you are high-level zen practices, you therefore may not
casually transmit them to other people. It is also not permissible for you to
go so far as to transmit them to a disciple who has violated the precepts! You
must transmit them to Buddhists who abide by the rules and precepts very well.
Moreover, they should be good people of moral character who have realized a
state of great compassion and awakening, who sincerely learn from the Buddhas,
who have the four immeasurable minds, who carry out the myriad practices subsumed
within the six perfections, and who strictly abide by the precepts and
disciplines. They are the ones who should learn the dharmas of zen practice.
Buddha-dharma should be transmitted to good people. Do not transmit
Buddha-dharma to those bad people who have serious problems. However, after
such people with serious problems repent, of course we will transmit
Buddha-dharma to them as well. Additionally, do not transmit Buddha-dharma to
those who take bribes and bend the law or who have their hands out for other
people's money or offerings. That type of person is in fact problematic. So
everyone should be especially careful about this.
As I said a moment ago, in
order to save time, I will not speak superfluous words. I will directly teach
you. After we have sat down and become calm, we enter the practice step by
step. We first start with the meditation method that Sakyamuni Buddha used
under the bodhi tree. This first step is a dharma of clear observation
(vipasyansa) practice categorized as pratyutpana. That is, one observes the
ocean of self-nature in which prajna will appear. It is called observation of
thoughts that lead to realization of emptiness.
My way of beginning here is
different from that of those zen practitioners in society. I first want all of
you to start with counting your breaths. You will start with the minor samatha
and vipasyana method of counting breaths. However, this is not totally the same
as a minor samatha and vipasyana method. We do not care about which monster or
demon corresponds to which of the 12 two-hour periods into which the day was
traditionally divided. Because we have three mantras, we are not afraid if
those monsters or demons try to disturb us. We simply bear in mind that those
who are overweight should count the exhalations. Thin people should count the
inhalations. That is, when you are breathing inward, count those inwards
breaths if you are thin. That way, your physical condition will improve. If you
are overweight and you cannot gain too much more weight, you should count your
exhalations. That way, you will avoid becoming too fat.
Of course, whether you are
overweight or thin is not important. The key is teaching all of you how to
count your breaths, whether you are overweight or thin. How should you count
your breaths? Start counting from one. For example, if you are counting your
inhalations, you count the breaths that go in. You will softly utter
"one." You must say it out loud. Do not count when you exhale. When
the next breath is inhaled, you utter aloud "two." If you cannot
breathe in and utter aloud the numbers at the same time, then count the numbers
silently in your mind. Continue like this until you count to ten, and then
immediately begin counting all over again. Begin again from "one" and
count until "ten." Then, once more, start all over. Make sure you do
not count to "eleven" or "twelve." This is very important.
When counting, if your mind
is not scattered for about a half hour, or better yet for even an hour, then at
that time you should stop uttering numbers out loud and should silently count
in your mind. The method of counting is the same when you silently count. It is
just that you do not say the number out loud. When you inhale, you still count
"one." Or when you exhale, you still count "one." When you
exhale a second time, you count "two." In this manner, you count to
ten time and time again, over and over again. Do not make a mistake in counting
the numbers by going past "ten."
After this step, we then
begin to enter the pratyutpana water stage, which is practicing the water-light
observation dharma. Pour a cup of water. After the water has been poured into
the cup, place the cup about three feet away from you. Use indoor lamplight or
moonlight from the outdoor sky. In that water there will be light. You should
fix your vision upon that light, tightly staring at it. At that time, do not
count your breaths. Your mind is totally focused upon that light, never moving
away from that light one bit. Your total focus is light, light, light, light.
Your eyes are fixed upon that light, never moving away from that light one bit.
Do not analyze the largeness or smallness of the light. Additionally, do not
analyze the changes the light undergoes. Do not be concerned about the strength
or weakness of the light. The longer you maintain your focus, the better.
If you can maintain your
focus on that light for more than a half hour, if during that time your mind
does not leave that light and is not scattered, or if you can maintain your
focus on that light for more than twenty minutes and your mind does not run
away, then at that time you should change to observing your inhalations or
exhalations. When you exhale, you will feel an obvious sensation at the rim of
your nostrils or at a certain position on your upper lip. Focus on that
sensation at that particular location that stands out. You should very clearly
feel that sensation when breathing in and breathing out. However, your mind
absolutely may not follow your breath as it moves inward or outward. All of
your effort is completely focused solely upon that small position or location
on your skin or lip that feels the sensation of breaths. If your mind follows
your breath inward or outward, you have already lost your concentration. So
make sure to pay attention that your mind does not follow your breath as it
moves. Your mind may only focus upon that particular position or location of
your skin or lip that feels the breath. You should clearly feel the obvious
sensation that particular position or location has when exhaling and inhaling.
That feeling will decrease
or increase according to the decrease and increase of your zen practice
concentration powers. There will even be some times when you will barely have
any feeling at that position or location. However, there is no need to worry.
The situation will improve when you focus your mind. When your power of samadhi
strengthens, illusory phenomena will appear in your zen state, such as spots of
light, circles of light, and figures. Do not be attached to or distracted by any
of them. You must remember that if at that time your mind becomes scattered,
like a wild horse, or if you are obstructed by drowsiness or sleep, then you
should stop. You must switch to the dynamic mindfulness of observing waves. You
should immediately hold level with both hands your cup from which you observed
light. Place that cup on your hands and sit in the cross-legged posture. If you
cannot sit in that posture, you may sit on a stool or bench. Hold the cup level
with both hands and place it below your navel. Your hands should be resting
firmly on your legs. At that time, because it is the nature of your body to
slightly move, the cup you are holding will certainly move. Along with this,
the light will move. The waves of water will move. You must completely fill the
cup with water. Use a copper, brass, or bronze cup that is not too large. That
is because if it is too large it will be too heavy.
At that time, fix your eyes
upon the light inside the cup. If at that time the cup moves, the light will
become blurred, which is not good. Blurred light indicates your mind has not
calmed down. Therefore, you should strive to have the water not move. It should
not move one bit. Not one bit. Not one bit. Not one bit. You absolutely must
keep it from moving. It should be totally still. If you can sit for a half hour
or an hour or even a few hours during which time the water does not move, then
your skills in the practice of zen will soon mature. You must understand that
the movement of waves means the movement of light, and movement of light means
the movement of waves. Know that the movement of waves and light means the
movement of your mind. You certainly will have become enlightened if at that
time you can attain the following: "waves and light continue to come and
go, yet mindfulness, remaining unchanged, is not moved."
It may be that you are
unable to continue with your sitting practice. At that time, you are most
susceptible to fatigue. As soon as fatigue sets in, people want to sleep. As a
result, the light of the waves easily becomes scattered or your mind is
sidetracked. Sometimes it is even the case that only when water spills on you
do you discover how sidetracked you are. This shows that you were not in
samadhi. At the very least, you lacked basic samadhi. Of course, I am not
referring to tathagata samadhi. I am simply referring to a type of samadhi that
Given this type of
situation, you should immediately stop if at that time your eyelids are heavy
with sleep, your mind begins to dull, you will soon fall asleep, and you truly
cannot persist. Place the cup right in front of you. Then, pull down on your
earlobes with both hands. After that, rub your palms together until they are
hot. Then, begin to rub your face with your palms. Rub your face. Your face
will heat up. Rub softly. Continue to rub softly. At that time, after you have
rubbed your face, the obstacle of drowsiness or sleep will have disappeared.
Then resume your meditation.
If obstructions reappear
after you have meditated for a period of time and you realize you cannot go on,
then you should immediately change the dharma you are practicing. Change to
what? You immediately get off of your meditation seat, fill a bucket with cold
water, and recite the Using Water Mantra seven times. After that, wash your
face with that cold water. Rub the water on your face, neck, and below your
neck. At that time, your vitality will be restored such that you can
immediately resume your zen practice. Your eyelids will no longer feel heavy,
and you will be clear-headed. At that time, resume your zen practice. Sit down
After you have resumed your
sitting zen practice for a long time, it is frequently the case that you will
once more be unable to continue with your practice. There is truly no way for
you to continue your sitting practice. What should you do? At that time you
must stop. You should stop. What should you do after you stop? You should sleep
after you stop. After you awaken from your sleep, you will regain your
vitality. You then continue your sitting practice.
If you had not stopped to
sleep but rather tried to persevere in your zen practice even though you could
not keep it up, then a zen malady will arise. At that time, such a zen malady
is very serious. Why do I say it is very serious? It is because as soon as you
form the habit of incurring a zen malady, you will still want to continue your
zen practice when, for example, your eyelids are heavy. You will forcefully
attempt to carry on even though your eyelids are still heavy with sleep. But
because you sleep, you have formed a bad habit. Thus, problems arise at this
time that are not easy to correct. It is possible that when you sit down to
practice zen, you will want to sleep or the other three great hindrances will
Therefore, when serious
hindrances appear, you should immediately begin to pull on your ears and
immediately begin to rub your face. If rubbing your face and pulling on your
ears do not work, you should immediately get off your meditation seat and fill
a bucket with cold water. Then, recite the Using Water Mantra and wash your
face. If you still cannot go on after you have washed your face with cold water
and have sat down and practiced zenfor a short while, then at that time you
immediately discontinue your zen practice. Get off your meditation seat and go
to sleep without delay. After you awaken, you get up and practice zen once
This is very important, very
important. Everyone must be very careful. You must remember that when
practicing zen, if it is truly the case that the obstacle of drowsiness or
sleep arrives, mental distraction arrives, wild fancy or improper thoughts
arrive, or lack of focus arrives, then they must be dealt with. The obstacle of
drowsiness or sleep is an especially formidable karmic obstacle. You do not
know when it arrives. It causes you to fall asleep. By the time you awaken,
time has already passed by. That is why that obstacle is very difficult to deal
Remember that it is very
easy for good states to appear in the course of practicing zen. This is called
zen phenomena. Such zen phenomena that may appear include light, light spots,
or even unusual phenomena, such as dharma protectors, demons, and so on, or an
unusual fragrance wafts your way, or you hear sounds from outside or different
places. You must remember that all such phenomena are illusions. All phenomena
are false. In no case may you be attached to them. You must not be attached to
them. Only with non-attachment will such phenomena deepen and progress. Only
with non-attachment will you progress toward entering the pure dharmakaya. This
is the truth of deeply entering the zen state. When you enter the zen state,
truly attaining the state of non-abiding, your Buddha-nature will naturally
appear. When you are able to be imperturbable in your Buddha-nature, then birth
and death naturally end. You are able to end the cycle of birth and death. If
you can be in your Buddha-nature, wisdom will naturally open up. You will be
able to experience numerous kinds of holy states. You will realize all holy
states. All of these are within the Buddha-nature.
Of course, this is a
relatively high-level type of zen practice. This is a great dharma of the true
practice of zen. However, what makes it truly high-level? The empowerment of
the mantras and the way of observation and contemplation make it truly
high-level. Both of them have a special effect. When you have practiced well
this stage, depending upon the depth of your wholesome roots, perhaps I will
perform for you a State-Practice Initiation from "The Supreme and
Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation." Such dharma is indeed high. It is
supreme, great dharma that guarantees liberation. Nonetheless, in learning and
practicing "The Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation,"
it is imperative that one learn well and fully put into practice the two great
mind essences: the "Xiaman Magnificent Oceanic Mind Essence” and the “Most
Magnificent Bodhi Emptiness-Practice Oceanic Mind Essence.” You must have these
two great mind essences as your foundation. Only then will you be able to
instantly receive a state-practice initiation, instantly enter that state,
attain great accomplishment, and unite with the dharma-realm through learning
and practicing dharma of "The Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of
Liberation." In this there is limitless profundity.
Today I have taken the first
step to teach all of you this zen practice. I have already transmitted to you
the part relating to the mantras. Those mantras will not be written in the
booklet. To write them down in a booklet would not be permissible. It would not
be in accord with the dharma rules. Those mantras must be transmitted from
master to disciple. Otherwise, it would be treating the dharma disrespectfully.
Moreover, transmission through different levels of initiation is the type of
transmission that most accords with the dharma rules. That is why those mantras
cannot be recklessly written down. In the booklet, the mantras relating to zen
will not be transcribed. It will only include teachings on this high-level
dharma of zen practice.
My teachings today will end
here for the time being. After you have practiced well these teachings I just
gave, I may perform for you a dharma selection ceremony to determine the dharma
with which you have a karmic connection, the dharma you should deeply learn and
practice. However, this will depend upon the beneficial effects and level of
accomplishment you derive from practicing the teachings I just gave. It will
also depend upon your devoutness. Remember one thing that is important. No
matter what zen dharma you practice, you cannot deviate from cultivation. That
is why you must go online and learn my teaching of "What Is
Cultivation?" Furthermore, you must carry out that teaching in your daily
lives. Only then will your practice of zen truly succeed. All right, that will
be all. May all of you soon deeply enter samadhi, soon attain perfect good
fortune and wisdom, and soon realize enlightenment.
Office of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III
December 4, 2013