A Collection of Chenian Short Lectures in America, Part I


The Buddhist Yogi C. M. Chen

I. The Nine Steps of Samatha

There is a method of concentration called Samatha, which is divided into 9 steps.

1. The first step is called Inward Abiding. The mind usually pursues external objects. The ears hear outside; the eyes see outside. But in Samatha the mind trains itself to focus on some inward point. This point should be chosen somewhere along the median nerve either inside or outside. Inward points are the five chakras (the head chakra, the throat chakra, the heart chakra, the navel chakra, and the private root chakra). The outward points are between the eyebrows, on the tip of the nose, on the neck, between the two breasts, on the navel, or near the private organ, or on the ground at a distance of about sixteen fingers.

For the disturbed mind select a lower point. Most of the past sages chose the navel chakra. For the sleepy mind, choose a point on the head, for example, between the eyebrows or inside the head.

2. Continuous Abiding: When one has selected a point and the mind no longer dwells on anything excep the point, this is continuous abiding. Most people don't know the difference between concentration and meditation. Actually, meditation can never succeed without the foundation of concentration, so concentration practice is very, very important.

The mind's activity is even greater than the speed of light. Most people do not know what the mind is; they have never even thought about it. This includes even psychologists and scientists; they have no idea about the actual speed of mind. But let us clarify this mind-speed with the following story about Great Yogi Milarepa:

Once Milarepa told an outsider (non-Buddhist) who was meditating on the peak of the Himalayas that because he was an outsider he did not deserve to sit on the peak; he should allow Milarepa to sit on the peak. In doing so, the outsider would be blessed. The outsider replied, "You are a very high Lama and I would like to oblige you. But first, would you have some competition with me?" Milarepa replied, "Yes! Why not? You choose the competition." The outsider decided that on the following morning they should go to the foot of the mountain and the first one to fly to the top would be the winner. The next morning the outsider got up very early and began flying on a magic drum up the mountain. When he had arrived half way, Milarepa was still sleeping. All his disciples shouted warnings to Milarepa that the outsider was already half way up to the top but Milarepa said, "Never mind, never mind, I want to sleep some more." Then when the outsider had nearly arrived at the top, the greatly alarmed disciples again shouted warnings but Milarepa said "Never mind", then, at the same instant that his mind thought of the peak, his body arrived there.

Such mind-speed is much quicker than light. Science says that light is much faster than even sound and we know that lightening always comes before thunder. But still, mind's activity is actually much quicker than light. Every sentient being has this mind and every second it pursues many, many objects. Nobody has tried to measure the speed of their minds and nobody has measured the consciousness of space. But actually the mind of every sentient being, whether a sage or an insect, goes very quickly pursuing many objects. So it is very, very difficult to focus on one point. We think that this next step of continuous abiding is very easy. But it is not so easy to hold one's thought on one single point because between the first idea to keep on the one point and the second idea that we must continue holding to it, many many thoughts occur. But we might not necessarily be aware of them.

Depending on how much one has practiced concentration in his past lives he will find it more or less difficult to hold the continuous abiding; so it is not impossible, but it is very difficult. Whenever one settles his mind on a point, he must always stick to it, just like sticking it with a pin, stick, stick, stick, stick. Never let any objects, delusions, thoughts, etc., come between it, just stick, stick, stick. For people who have practiced in their past lives it is a little easier. But for those who have never practiced in their past lives it may be very difficult. But whether one has practiced in his past lives or not, if one is a new believer, a young believer, if he has good motives and a deep interest, for the first few minutes he can prevail.

3. In the third step called Well Abiding, the practitioner must recognize and stop any distraction from the one-pointed concentration called continuous abiding. He must return his mind to the point and keep it there, well and firm. A better name for Well Abiding would be Draw-Back Abiding. We must draw back mind to the point and not let it stray again.

Therefore, whenever the mind falls from the continuous abiding step, and the deluded thinking mind manifests daily life activities such as the first idea, "I have not paid the parking meter" and the second following idea, "I will get a parking ticket", before the second thought occurs, the practitioner must return his mind to the continuous abiding point and hold it there well and settled. If he fails to do so in five attempts, he must get up from his seat because what we think of is what we become. Therefore, we should emphasize the quality of mind in concentration practice rather than the quantity of time. Most teachers have neglected this point and only recommend to their students to practice for a long time, regardless of the quality of time, regardless of the quality of meditative mind. This is a very bad mistake.

If one's thoughts are thinking of fighting and cruelty, the person will fall into hell. The longer he sits with evil thoughts the deeper he will fall because the thoughts one produces during meditation have a much deeper impression upon the consciousness than those of daily life activities. Thoughts produced in the meditation posture can be compared to engraving a wooden block; the effect is very deep and lasting. Therefore, if the thoughts contain too much ignorance, we can even become an animal in another life. Too much lust makes a hungry ghost and whatever one sees he will rape. So do not merely prolong the time of concentration unless the mind is fixed in the good quality of samatha.

If one fails to return to the point in five attempts, then he should get up from his seat and walk around the altar chanting mantras. So far, I am the only person who has emphasized the quality of mind in the practice of concentration and it is very special advice from my own experience. So please do not merely prolong the quantity of time in a blind and harmful manner. However, if the concentration is of good quality, the Samatha should then be held, the longer the better. That is why there is the fourth step.

4. In Near the Good Abiding, all outward thoughts have stopped and the mind naturally returns to the inward point. This should be prolonged.

5. The fifth step is called Overwhelming. Now all outward thoughts have been overwhelmed by the inward sight. There are no external thoughts and no exertion is needed to keep the inward point as in the last four steps. In so doing one comes to the sixth step.

6. Silence: Here the mind is without distraction and therefore very still or silent. But one problem arises at this time and that is the sleepy mind. If it is not subdued, the practitioner will fall over from the meditation posture. Some practitioners say that the half sleepy mind is a good concentration state because they see a piece of light or dream-like images, but this is a mistaken view. Many beginners feel very proud because they have seen this light or that image. Others see only completely black and this is the animal realm. After the pig takes food, he always falls asleep and becomes fat and therefore deserves to be eaten as pork, but we should not follow his example.

The result of the sleepy mind is very dangerous. We could fall into any of the lower three states. By cause and effect we see that the cause is ignorance or sleepy mind, and the effect is the lower three realms. The sleepy mind is caused by the downward flowing energy never rising up. When we wake up, shocked, from a bad dream this is caused by our energy rising up. We should not just think that any blind form of meditation is a good action. Unless it is accompanied by clear concentration, it will only make you stupid.

Do not think that every kind of sleep is evil. There is a difference between sleeping in meditation and sleeping in bed. Sleeping in bed is natural for a human being. Most hermits sleep in the sitting position. For example, Kalu Rinpoche guided some students to practice for three years, three half-months and three days without ever lying down. They sit in wooden boxes about two feet wide by two feet long. The hermits sit when they sleep to reduce sleep and keep them awake. This is quite different from the layman who falls asleep in the sitting posture during samatha practice. For such layman, it is much better to sleep lying down so that the energy is evenly distributed throughout the body. If he sleeps in the meditation posture, it will only cause the downward flow of energy to pass through what the Buddha calls the three mouths of soreness; that is, penis, anus, vagina, and he will fall into ignorance. From this point of view, it is much better to sleep lying down and never in the meditation posture.

So in this stage of Silence we must keep our minds very clear, away from sleep. Do not just think, Oh, meditation is good! Meditation is wonderful! One must consider what type of meditation is good and what quality of meditation is wonderful! So when the point becomes hazy, one should open his eyes widely, and bring the energy upward. As the Silence step becomes clearer, one attains the seventh step.

7. Deep Silence: Here both the sleepy mind and the distracted mind have been completely subdued. But now one should make the mind wide, clear, and vast, not merely deep and silent. Depth is the silence, and brightness is the vastness; in this manner, stupid ignorance cannot possibly occur.

8. The eighth step is named One Pointed Attention. By now we have attained one-pointed attention and our minds remain on the inward point without moving or wavering--even a little. But still, we have not reached our destination so we have to go onto the next step.

9. The ninth step is called Equal Abiding. In the eighth step we still have an objective point kept by a subjective experiencer, but now we have gone beyond this fallacy and everywhere can be seen as one point. It can be inside or outside or everywhere at one time in an equal quality of samatha. From this point of view, we can say that there is no longer any point or we can say that there is only one great point. This is the completion of the samatha practice, and we are now ready for samapatti practice. Without success in samatha, one can never succeed in meditation. There have been many wise people who say that they can meditate in action, but they are only fooling themselves. If you cannot meditate in the sitting posture how can you mediate in action? The sitting form of meditation is the easiest. If you can't do the easiest what makes you think you can do the hardest?

After success in sitting meditation, one should try to mediate in the four common dignified actions, i.e., standing, sitting, walking, sleeping. After these are accomplished, one may use his mediation force to penetrate and transmute the five special poisons, i.e., lust, anger, ignorance, pride, and doubt.

If your sitting mediation is strong enough, you may use it to subdue all types of sorrowful places--e.g. bars, casinos, houses of prostitution, etc. In short, there is no activity which you could not subdue, since it is the truth of Buddhism to use the highest wisdom to subdue the lowest evil.

Those persons who can meditate in action must have many supernatural powers. If they do not have them, then they are only deceiving themselves. When the meditation force comes into action, one should be able to bodily pass through walls or sit in the sky. Many gurus nowadays merely cheat their students by saying they can meditate in action; but where are their supernatural powers? Some of them cannot even protect their own bodies from accidents. Consequently, many American youths have been cheated.

We may further clarify the above discussion by examining the four stages of Mahamudra. The first stage is One Pointed Yoga, which is different from the one pointedness of samatha, but we have no time to elaborate here. The second stage is called Renounce Play-Words Yoga (No False-Talk Yoga). The third stage is called One Taste Yoga: this is the true state of meditation in action. Never is it possible before this state for daily-life activities to be truly connected with meditation. The One Taste Yoga corresponds to the Eighth Bodhisattva stage and such practitioners have many, many supernatural powers. They are very close to being Buddhas. Most of the youths do not understand what meditation in action is, so they continually indulge in sex and drink, claiming that their Gurus say this is meditation in action. They say Buddhism is a way of life; they are very proud and speak very sugary about their Gurus, but actually they are cheating themselves. I feel very bad about such people cheating themselves and others.

The fourth stage of Mahamudra is called No Practice Yoga. Many people have also greatly distorted and misinterpreted what No Practice means. They claim there is no need to practice meditation, but of course, such views are very wrong. The One Taste Yoga of Mahamudra belongs to the fourth initiation of the highest Tantra. If the practitioner has not gotten the first three initiations of the highest Tantra, how can he get the fourth? But before these initiations, he must get the initiations of the lower three Tantras. These also have prerequisites which include several practices in the Mahayana and Hinayana, e.g., the nine steps of samatha just mentioned are merely the foundation (starting point) for the exploration of the Hinayana. So let us not think we will discover the mystery of life over a can of beer or a casual sexual relationship. Such idle chatter about meditation in action cannot lead one to liberation.

Today I have spoken these words and I hope they will clarify some of the false practices now existing. I have no wish to open a shop to sell the Dharma. I have no intention of gathering many students with false teachings so that I may take their money; I just have mercy on them and want to help them distinguish deluded practices. I do not want them to make Buddhism a cheap subject which can be sold from a store. You cannot buy enlightenment with gold. It can only be attained by one hundred percent complete devotion and discipline. Do not cheat people to believe that the Dharma may be purchased like a ticket to a movie theater. You must lay down your entire life, open your entire heart, and beyond that is the fruit.

II. The Three Identifications of the Great Perfection

Today is a very fine day and on our way to the Adi-Buddha Mandala in Sonoma County we sighted a rainbow, a full 180 degree rainbow, brightly colored running east to west, directly over the road. As we were headed in a northerly direction, we drove below and through the center of the arch. Immediately, a short rain fell upon us, obviously some nectar from the Adi-Buddha symbolizing an auspicious day for the Dharma. Next, the clouds parted and the bright sun shone upon our heads, foretelling that on this day I must introduce the highest teaching.

Usually I follow the traditional evolution of the Dharma, from Hinayana to Mahayana to Vajrayana. With Vajrayana proceedings from the first initiation of the Buddha-body, to the second initiation of the Buddha-body nerve chakras, to the third initiation of Vajra-Love, and finally to the fourth initiation of the Mahamudra and Great Perfection. Normally I do not deviate from this order.

When I was 23 years old I had a Gelugpa teacher and he taught me to practice the four foundations of Tantra, each of which was done ten thousand times, i.e., taking refuge, prostrations, vajrasattva mantra, and the mandala offering. The last one was very difficult to finish. Next, I met my root guru Lola Rinpoche, a Nyingmapa, who so kindly gave me the Nyandhi Yoga. It seemed to me that he did not follow the proper teaching order, nevertheless I got the instructions of the Great Perfection.

Previously we talked about the nine steps of samatha. They are a very important foundation for the meditations of all three yanas. But now we have a special time and auspicious place. The special time has been indicated by the rainbow and nectar and the auspicious place is the Adi-Buddha Mandala which is the palace of the Guru of the Great Perfection. This time I am definitely taking a jump from the traditional sequence of presentation and am omitting all the teachings of the Hinayana, Mahayana and the first three Lower Tantras, as well as the first three initiations of the Highest Tantra. These have been arranged in my book, Buddhist Meditation: Systematic and Practical, covering more than four hundred and fifty pages. To write this book from my dictation took the two English Bhiksus Sangharakshita and Kantipalo more than six months of hard work. Neither do karmic conditions of this Kali Age permit the thorough completion of these practices which take several years of complete devotion and discipline. Nor do I have the full enlightenment with which to teach, nor is there any person who has completely dropped out to follow me! So we are going to gamble and take a leap to the Great Perfection, remembering that our foundation is a bit shaky.

From Samatha we get the foundation but the Great Perfection is the final truth of the goal. So we are creating a bird's-eye view from start to finish, from beginning to ultimate. But we cannot reach the goal without walking. Actually, the samapatti of the Vajrayana (Great Perfection) is a very simple teaching. But the simpler the teaching the more difficult it is to get the experiential realization.

The Great Perfection belongs to the Nyandhi Yoga. This teaching is called the Three Identifications; it is the highest and most profound teaching of our Great Guru Padmasambhave. He received it from Manjusri's incarnation as Sri Simha who lived on the five peaked mountain in China. Sri Simha gave these instructions to Padmasambhava in India. He merely pointed to the sky and said,"My unmoving mind is always like this!" and then flew back to the five peaked mountain in San Shi province which now is occupied by demons. Though they occupy the outward place, they can never discover the inward, secret, and most secret dwelling places of Sri Simha.

My Guru Lola Rinpoche imparted the three identifications and all other teachings of the Great Perfection to me and it has been printed about in my province Hunan in China. Many Chinese have also learned it.

The three things to be identified are the Mind, the Sky, and the Truth. The Truth is the Great Perfection, the full Enlightenment, the Dharmakaya, the Entity of Adi-Buddha.

First of all, the Mind of the Great Perfection should not be mistaken for the psychic mentality or the physical heart; nor is it psychological thought or psychological conception, perceptions, or any thinking processes. The true mind of Dharmakaya is none of these! This fact has been mistaken by many contemporary scholars, religious teachers, and psychologists.

They loudly and proudly talk about the psychological nature of mind, but this is very foolish talk. Their outlook falls on the one-sided view of mentality. This error is similar to that of the s who regard the truth to be of a material nature, which falls on the one-sided view of materiality. Both these views are far from the truth of mind.

The nature of mind is the final truth. To describe the philosophic mind we only need to say the Truth. But this point has even been left uncorrected by the ancient sages. The Truth is philosophic, is the Dharmakaya, is the Great Perfection, is the Chan. No practice is necessary to discover this philosophic truth. When it appears, it appears. It can be compared with an upside-down pyramid. The sharp pointed vertex points downward with the base expanding upward to infinity (Dharmadhatu). The sharp-pointed vertex symbolizes the sudden awareness of the Dharmadhatu. In a flash we can identify with the truth--Before this sudden flash there is ignorance, afterwards there is realization appearing by itself--the Dharmakaya.

The second identity of the Sky does not mean the physical sky which we see above our heads. But is analogous to a crystal ball without limitation, pervading all directions simultaneously, transparent, clear, and radiating brightness everywhere. So we must think of the crystal sky of the Three Identifications not just as ordinary sky but as the unlimited, dimensionless, crystal ball of realization.

The third identity is the Truth, which is, was, and will be. It does not only belong to Buddhism for the truth belongs to itself. Buddhism revealed this truth, the Dharma of nonself. Hinduism masks the truth with the high self but in the non-self of Buddhism there is no such obstruction and the truth stands naked and bright. Every other religion in the world has a high self or God but only Buddhism has the truth without any such prophylactics. The truth pervades everywhere but we must study the non-self practice of Buddhism if we want to understand the final, deep and complete truth. We should not wear our clothes when we take a bath, nor do we hold any kind of truth in the self. Therefore non-self is the fixed philosophic truth of Buddhism.

The Three Identifications of Mind, the Sky, and the Truth are not three things but one. We use three terms just for clarification of the intellect, but without direct experiential realization there can be no genuine understanding. Beware of thinking you have discovered the truth merely by understanding the theory. This is not the real truth; but from the practice of this theory will eventually come the full realization from a Guru; this is very important. Keep this fixed in your mind: (l) The mind is not the visualization of these things! (2) The truth is not a result to wait for! (3) The sky is not an object of visualization. But it is here and now appearing in oneness--these are Sri Simha's three identifications of the unmoving mind, adopted by our great Guru Padmasambhava.

For the practice of the three identifications, we must make some changes in the seven elements of the Samatha posture, e.g., crossed legs, chin downward, etc. Now we tilt our heads slightly backwards, and let our eyes focus on the symbolism of the sky and let the brightness increase. So here the head does not hang downward but is elevated to identify with the brightness of the sky. Usually we should practice the three identifications outdoors, this is best. But there are some dangers. There should be no rain or strong wind. I practiced in the Himalayas and it was clear and beautiful everyday. It seldom rained but there was much wind. Don't let the wind blow directly to your body but always let it pass sideways in front of you. We can also practice indoors, also in dreams. Realization happened to me four times, e.g., indoors, outdoors, in dreams, and in meditation. I hope that you will get the realization of the Great Perfection very soon.

III. Deep Breathing

We have already talked about Samatha, the foundation of meditation, and the Three Identifications (the highest meditation); therefore, all further discussion lies between these two methods.

Deep breathing belongs to the Annutara Yoga, second initiation, whereas the third initiation is the practice of Vajra Love and the Three Identifications belong to the fourth initiation. We must practice the second initiation of deep breathing very thoroughly and get the realization of non-discharge (of semen), then we can practice the third initiation of Vajra Love--but not before. By the right practice of Vajra Love we realize the Dharmakaya light, identical with the Dharmakaya of the Three Identifications; so from the third we give birth to the fourth initiation, just as practice of the second initiation produces the third.

Nowadays the young Lamas do not follow the correct sequence nor do they have enough practice in hermitages to get realization. They prematurely advise their students to do meditation in action (the fourth initiation). They try to meditate in sexual intercourse, but cannot control their semen from discharging. This is only animal sex and not the Vajra Love practice. Such activity deepens the bondage of lust while avoiding liberation. Consequently, many young Lamas have prostituted the teachings of Vajrayana, causing their students to fall. In the name of the Adamantine Vehicle, the Vajrayana, the most profound and direct path of complete Enlightenment in one lifetime, they sell garbage. They create restaurants where starving students pay high prices to eat the nectars of Vajrayana, but are served only excrement. Such Gurus at best understand a little of Mahayana, but why must they delude their followers about the Vajrayana?

Today we will talk about the second initiation, but this does not follow the correct sequence, because we have not even talked about the first initiation (the accomplishment of a Yidam body). Before this there are several practices, so one should refer to my book, Buddhist Meditation: Systematic and Practical, to get a thorough picture of the complete Buddhist Meditation practice. In this way one cannot be deluded into improper practices.

To practice Tantra one must read the sutras of Mahayana and get the foundation of two-fold non-egoism and practice the Sunyata meditations. Without Sunyata realization there can be no Tantra.

This two-fold sunyata in Mahayana is the sunyata of personality and the sunyata of dharma (which includes both positive and negative life experiences, phenomena, etc.) To practice the Vajra Love by using the evil (negative) dharma of lust, one must clearly experience that the evil dharma itself is in the sunyata. We hear a lot of talk about the Dakini in Tantra. Dakini means "she who walks in the sunyata." Tantra is a path of Enlightenment in the sunyata. Heruka means "blood drinker who walks in the sunyata"; whether male or female, both must walk in the sunyata. If the practitioners, whether male or female, cannot walk in the sunyata , then they cannot practice the Tantra.

In Hinayana one follows the Vinaya (commandments) very carefully so that one does not fall into evil states. These negative experiences become a very big self which cannot be penetrated. This is why the Hinayanists can know only the sunyata of personality but not the sunyata of dharma, much less the sunyata of negative dharmas. Therefore, we should first study Hinayana to learn the sunyata of personality, then use the sunyata of personality to first penetrate to the sunyata of good dharmas, and lastly to that of the evil dharmas. In this way we can sublimate or transmute the heavy, evil dharmas into good functions, and enter the realm of Vajrayana.

So today I am talking about deep breathing because of your interest, but it is not in the traditional sequence. This sequence is very important and can only be deviated from in very rare instances, so I talk about this deep breathing very reluctantly just to hold your interest. But I still emphasize the traditional evolution of dharma practice.

Even in Confucianism following proper sequence is emphasized. Confucious said, "Things have their roots and branches; affairs have their beginning and end. One must know what is the first and what is the last, then he can obtain the approach of Tao". Confucius emphasized firstly to be a good man, then to raise a good family, then to set good order in the country, then we can obtain a world of peace. Confucius was only talking about how to make a good human being, but we are talking about how to make a man become Buddha; so the sequence is very, very, important.

For example, a monkey found a field of maize. Upon seeing so many ears of corn he got very excited, took one and put it under his right arm and put the second under his left arm. When he picked the third, he dropped the first, used his other arm to reach for the fourth and dropped the second. In this manner he never got to eat any. If he knew the sequence, he would have picked the first and eaten it, then picked the second and eaten it. In this way he would have felt no hunger and really enjoyed himself. We should pursue the Dharma practice in a like manner.

I have heard that some people learn about The Tibetan Book of the Dead or Bardo Yoga before deep breathing practice. This is ridiculous if not totally insane. It is not so bad if they are just talking about Bardo Yoga but if they are attempting to practice it, this is totally crazy. But why should we talk about something we are not practicing? Quite often Gurus present such seductive topics merely wasting their student's time, something he cannot replace .

Once a student wrote me a letter from a seminar on The Tibetan Book of the Dead asking me if he should practice the Bardo Yoga. I answered with the following poem:

I have been so asked by a friend
Whether it is good or it is bad;
I couldn't answer but I know
Learn to live before you learn to be dead.

Among the six tantric yogas both the Bardo Yoga and the Phowa Yoga (consciousness transference) belong to the methods of learning how to die. The Tummo (heat) Yoga and the Maya Body Yoga deal with how to live with the Buddha body. So when a Guru is a true Guru and therefore teaches in the natural sequence, he would first reach the Tummo Yoga whose foundation is deep breathing practice. Deep breathing is the foundation of all six yogas.

Without success in tummo, deep breathing, one cannot practice the maya body. The maya body is not only flesh but also a spiritual body of visualization and wisdom. By deep breathing we bring the wisdom body of the Buddha into the practitioner's body (in the heart). By uniting the tummo's heat and nectar we form the wisdom body. Then the maya body can be attained.

Before going to bed we should practice deep breathing and pray that we will use the dream state to practice the Dharma. So we can see that the dream yoga is also based on the deep breathing tummo yoga. Likewise, both the daytime clear light yoga and the nighttime clear light yoga proceed from the deep breathing practice. They cannot succeed unless one can hold and store the deep breathing energy in the wisdom body. Then the light will occur and the chakras will open. The more they open the more you can experience the vastness of light.

To practice Bardo Yoga we must use the deep breathing as a force to get the light of Bardo before death. There are many stages of the light. We must learn how to distinguish between the Buddha Light and the Karmic Light. But this cannot be done without the force of deep breathing. By practicing the Bardo Yoga in the Causal position (before death) we will become very skilled in recognizing the true Buddha light in the Consequence position (after death). Thus we may get a good rebirth in the Pure Land.

The last Yoga of Phowa cannot be attained without the force of deep breathing. Here the energy is accumulated in the lower chakra then shot up to open the Buddha hole about four fingers behind the aperture of Brahma, at the top of the head. Then the consciousness or the wisdom bodhi of the practitioner can be transferred to Buddha's heart.

All six yogas are based upon the Tummo deep breathing. A Guru, if he is well practiced, if he has learned well, will teach the deep breathing first, never the Bardo Yoga first. It is impossible to practice the Bardo Yoga without first accomplishing deep breathing.

Many users of LSD become afraid of death or want to explore it further. Alan Watts was a hippie leader who advised others to read The Tibetan Book of the Dead for it would prevent accidental death caused by the LSD functioning. I never heard of this kind of practice in Tibet. For one thing, The Tibetan Book of the Dead is not a text of recitation. It is a teaching concerning the Bardo Yoga. It is taught in the six doctrines edited by Dr. Evans-Wentz. The practitioner of Bardo Yoga uses this book as a guide for his meditation yoga experience of the Bardo light. The Diamond Sutra and Heart Sutra and other Mahayana texts have their own value, and merit can be gained from their recitation. But The Tibetan Book of the Dead is a manual of Vajrayana concerning the Annutara Yoga. Here one has gone beyond the use of incantations which are utilized in the lower three tantras. Also the rituals of the Yidam are not regarded as being important.

Since in the first Annutara initiation the practitioner has regarded himself as being the Yidam, therefore what he speaks is the incantation of the Yidam, what he thinks is the visualization of the Yidam, whatever he acts is the action of the Yidam. He must develop this Buddha-pride very precisely. So, recitation of texts is accorded little value for the practitioner of the first initiation, and even less by a practitioner of the second Annutara initiation.

In the second initiation practice the Yidam (practitioner) should always keep his energy inside. Too much repetition of mantras, rituals, etc., dissipates the energy into the outside world. Even to blow out a candle is considered a violation of the discipline, so repetition of a fat book or a long ritual would be a gross violation. Alan Watts did not know anything about the Tantra, he merely took LSD and then taught other people his misconceptions about The Tibetan Book of the Dead. He was not even a very low lama, much less a Guru or Rinpoche. He can justly be accused of misrepresentation and charlatanism regarding this book. But when one is a Lama, a Guru, a Tulku, he must know the sequence and first teach deep breathing and then the Bardo Yoga. At this time, he could use The Tibetan Book of the Dead to instruct his students about the details of the Bardo state, telling them the difference between the Light of Buddha and the Light of Karma. But one should not give instructions on this book merely to entertain one's students, especially if they pay money.

It is a great mistake to use the Vajrayana teachings merely to raise money even for the high self or the religious organization. Students should not be instructed unless they are qualified. The Tantra is not a cheap carnival act which can be viewed for the price of admission. One must undergo the step by step psycho-physical transformation to learn Tantra. There is no other way. I have never opened a shop to sell the Dharma, but have developed some resentment for those teachers who do not follow the traditional sequence. To many people I am a bad person who emphasizes the bad points of teachers and students rather than their positive qualities. But when a bottle has dirt inside, we should wash it and then fill it with milk. This is why I dwell so much on the common errors.

Even my friend Evans-Wentz who edited several Tibetan yoga books made some fundamental errors. He could not clearly distinguish the difference between the body of Hinduism, the body of Buddhism, and the human body. When practicing the deep breathing, we do not use the human body, nor do we use the hatha yoga body of Hinduism. All religions except Buddhism emphasize the meditative body of Godhood. What is the difference between the God body and the Buddha body? There is a great difference which has been overlooked by even many Buddhists. Without in-depth experience one cannot distinguish between the Buddha body and the Hindu body. So even though someone calls himself a Buddhist Guru, he might just teach Hinduism.

All religions except Buddhism emphasize the attainment of Godhood, but this is not Buddhahood. We should not think all religions are the same. In Godhood we have developed the meditative body of the high self attainment, and have a very clear concept of what is high, what is low, what is spiritual and what is material. The high self is very prudish, and cannot get the dirt of low self on its lily-white gloves. But the Buddhist is more thorough. Not only has he discovered the sunyata (voidness) of the low self, but also he has experienced the sunyata of the high self (Godhood). Consequently, he rejects both the low self and the high self and functions in the Buddha body of no-self.

This is the transcendental Sunyata body which cannot be seduced by purity or damaged by uncleanliness. The true Buddhist accepts nothing as being particularly sacred and rejects nothing as being especially ordinary. He constantly experiences the sour of the sweet, and the sweet of the sour. He regards the low self as being dust, and the high self as being gold dust. The true Buddhist knows that dust or gold dust when placed in your eye will block vision of the truth. However, when ordinary dust is removed from the eye, it is worthless; whereas, one could get something for gold dust. Consequently, with nothing in the eyes, we have a clear and precise vision of things as they are. This is the nothing of no-self; the truth of Buddhism.

Still, without accomplishment in deep breathing the practitioner cannot mix the red and white Bodhi, so he can practice neither style of Phowa. By my experience of the White Dakini Phowa which you cannot find in any book, when the wisdom of Bodhi is gathered in one point in your body, even before shooting and entering the White Dakini's womb, you will feel like you are dying. My entire life forces were gathered in one point, but I knew I must not die at that moment because I was practicing as a preparation so I immediately concentrated on my fingers and toes and the point was dispersed. Thus I am still with you.

In China by the practice of the Amitabha Phowa many Chinese have mistaken as proof of accomplishment the insertion of a blade of grass in the Buddha hole in the head. I warned them that it was possible to open the Buddha hole by ordinary mind concentration but that this is not the true accomplishment. The Buddha hole must be opened by first opening the median nerve with wisdom energy and then sending the Bodhi to Amitabha. So do not be misled by superficial external results.

To practice the White Dakini Phowa, we must have a good foundation in Hinayana renunciation to get rid of worldly love, Mahayana sunyata to unite the Dakini, and Vajrayana wisdom energy to be enabled to send up the wisdom Bodhi. If you have accomplished these foundations you could not fool yourself with false attainment.

Nowadays people do not have the right view of the illusory world or know the pain of transmigration. They still have great love for the world. Consequently, even if they get the method, they cannot make the accomplishment. It is necessary to follow the genuine method rather than a false theory glorified by ego-clinging. So let me show you the real practice but this is merely to satisfy your curiosity.

To really succeed depends upon your own practice. It is not very difficult to learn the Dharma nowadays. But it is quite difficult to get the right view and to accurately distinguish between spiritualism and materialism. If you wander back and forth between the two, nothing can be accomplished. Buddha was born a Hindu. If Hinduism and Buddhism were the same he would not have rejected Hinduism and created Buddhism. Nor would Buddha have flown to the Brahma heavens to point out Brahma's pride and to teach Sunyata. It is a shame that many Buddhists cannot distinguish Buddhism from Hinduism.

All gods have so much pride, so great an ego; they all say I am the only God, the greatest one, but we know that they all cannot be the one and only God. That is why Godhood still lies in the state of transmigration. As soon as their light and subtle meditative body wears out they fall back into the human condition. But you will not find any Arhat or Bodhisattvas or Vidyadharas in transmigration.

I was shocked to see so many pictures of Hindu Gurus in Evans-Wentz's Buddhist books. A Buddhist tantric practitioner, even in the lowest rituals, begins to learn Sunyata. From this Sunyata rises the Buddha body. It is born from the Sunyata and not from any human parents, nor from any concentration of the refined energy of the maya body of Godhood. Deep breathing must be held by the Buddha body. Do not confuse these other two, so do not put pictures of Hindu Gurus in Buddhist books unless they have attained a Buddha body.

The sunyata body is visualized as a water bubble. The inside of the bubble is empty to show the sunyata; outside, the bubble is transparent to show the sunyata function and the sunyata light. Thus we should visualize the three nerves and the five Chakras, all of which are wisdom nerves, wisdom pipes, as transparent; all empty on the inside and transparent on the outside.

Buddha taught Sunyata in the Diamond Sutra. He used this example of a bubble, also the reflection in a mirror. Inside the mirror is empty, but outside it reflects the brightness of the image but still nothing is there. Our body is also like this, that is, our Buddha body, a body of wisdom, a body of sunyata, a body of diamond.

In our sunyata bubble body we should not think of the five organs (heart, kidney, lungs, etc.) nor the spinal column. The median nerve is not in the spinal column. The spinal column is the center of the flesh body and even animals have a spinal column. Many Buddhists do not know this point. Even though the three nerves and five chakras of the Hindus have the same names as those of the Buddhists, they cannot compare in quality. That of Hinduism are meditative visualizations in the human body. This is merely a transformation from gross to subtle. But Buddhists proceed from the subtle to the sunyata body.

To practice deep breathing one must know that one's body is of sunyata wisdom. Therefore, all inhaling and exhaling and storing of wisdom breath comes from wisdom air. Inhalations come from the Buddha's palace. Actually the Buddha has no breathing, just light! It comes to our body and this is wisdom light. When exhaling we may visualize all the Godhood body and human body dispersing and becoming light. Everything stored in the Buddha body is of sunyata wisdom, wisdom air, wisdom energy. This is why it can pass through the median nerve of the Buddha body which is a symbol of the Dharmakaya.

The breathing which is practiced in Hinayana or Mahayana does not have the depth or power of the breathing initiations of Vajrayana and are not really pure wisdom breath. In Tantra, the breathing does not merely contain the one element of wind, but all five elements. That is the gnosticized essence of all five material elements (air, earth, fire, water, space). These gnosticized material essences are very refined and can be contrasted with the ignorant breathing of the human body which contains only the element of air. The Tantric yogi absorbs the air element from the higher portion of the nostril, the earth element from the lower portion of the nostril, the fire element from the outer portion of the nostril, the water element from the inner portion of the nostril, and the space element from the center of the nostril. Therefore, all the essences of materiality can be drawn in and controlled by deep breathing practice. That is why Tantric yogis who are accomplished in deep breathing have many supernatural powers. By controlling the five elements and the right view we control the universe. The Tantric theory is a causation of seven elements. Consciousness and right view belong to mentality, the five elements belong to materiality. This, therefore, should not be viewed as common breathing by any means. Keep in mind that the practice of deep breathing is not a small job and is only accomplished by wisdom energy and wisdom nerves, so we need a very deep understanding in Sunyata to proceed with Tantra.

Again the center of the deep breathing is not the lungs--this is human breathing. The center of the meditative body of other religions is in the navel. But the deep breathing center is the median nerve which is of wisdom. The median nerve is not the spinal column. My book Discriminations Between Buddhist and Hindu Tantras gives a detailed description of these essential points. When this wisdom system of the body, the nerves, and the breath are understood very thoroughly, the deep breathing practice will succeed.

Next we must clarify the difference between the whole AH and the half AH. Evans-Wentz did not know this difference, but even his Guru did not know about this so he must not be blamed. They mistakenly say that the whole AH consists of the three strokes of the partial letter. Both are wrong; for the half AH is visualized as a straight short line tapering to a very sharp point located at the bottom portion of the median nerve (which is called AH-WA-DUTTI). The whole AH is the visualization of the entire median nerve. This is the true oral instruction imparted by Tibetan Gurus of accomplishment, but not by scholars.

The AH is the philosophy of sunyata and is also the first word a child utters, the starting point of a vibrational wave from which all words will be produced just as all phenomena are produced in Sunyata. The half AH is the tummo, red in color, red bodhi or female bodhi and corresponds with the ovum. This half AH is the fire element in wisdom. When it rises it meets the male component or white bodhi called HUNG. HUNG is the water element and is connected with the male semen. The HUNG and AH are called wisdom drops. When they unite or melt together through the power of deep breathing, much nectar and bliss pervades the whole body. The entire body becomes light and begins to transform into a rainbow body.

Through the wisdom drops, with the help of wisdom breathing, aided by the outside visualization of the mandala of the Pure Land, the five elements of Buddhahood are brought inside and gnosticized into wisdom fire. This wisdom fire can dissolve the flesh of the human body and transform the entire human body into light (literally). This is the true rainbow body, without death and without flesh, capable of expanding to the vastness of the Dharmakaya or to the minuteness of a single grain of sand. This is the truth of the Tantra, the experiential fact of the complete identification of mentality and materiality.

Men have much more white bodhi than red bodhi. Women, vice versa. This is why we have the third initiation of Vajra Love. Here male and female are profitable to each other. In Taoism the male merely victimizes the female, but this is not moral. The second initiation of deep breathing must be accomplished before one can practice the third initiation of Vajra Love. By deep breathing one can control the white bodhi (semen) from discharging during the Yidam sexual intercourse. This is absolutely necessary before the practice of Vajra Love.

It seems that nowadays young Lamas are confused about the above fact or they have not practiced sufficiently to control their semen from being discharged. Not only do they have male children but some even have female children. Their sexual intercourse is like that of the ordinary human being discharging his semen into samsara. Male children are conceived because the male's essence is stronger than the female's. But female children result if the male essence is feeble and therefore dominated by the female strength. This proves whether that Lama, Guru or Rinpoche can control his semen or not. If he can not control his white bodhi he should not practice Vajra Love, much less should he emphasize free sex or free love.

I regret to say that American youths deserve such a Guru. Why? Because they want their Guru to take refuge with them rather than that they should take refuge and follow the Guru. They think that if the Guru follows all their ways only then they will follow him. If the Guru says the Dharma practitioners should not drink, should not have free love, then they say he is too serious and leave him. If the Guru takes money from students, takes refuge in the student's habits, takes refuge in the student's opinions and follows the students, then they will come to him. My friends advise me to be like those other Gurus and open a center, start a school and gain much money and many followers. But I just advise them to read Milarepa's biography. He did not even have enough clothes to cover his male organ. His sister advised him to be like the other Lamas who had large umbrellas, many followers, many horses to carry their baggage, etc. His sister could not understand why her brother chose to live in such poverty. Milarepa was not sad but very, very happy. He was not suffering at all. The American youth are like his sister who could not see the wealth of the true Dharma beyond the material mask, so they prefer the more plastic Gurus. They have little desire for deep wisdom. I do not have full Enlightenment like Milarepa. I also have not the desire to follow the American youth as my Guru.

The preceding talk has been given to clarify the mistaken ideas of Tantra and to introduce the importance of deep breathing. For the real practice I must show you in person. But before I demonstrate the practice of deep breathing, I would like to make some additional comments.

In the entire system of Buddhism, we follow the Hinayana to purify the low self mind. Mahayana teaches how to sublimate the mind into the wisdom of sunyata; this includes both the sunyata of personality and external dharmas. The Vajrayana teaches that mind is neither mind nor matter. It strikes directly to the heart of non-dualism or the identification of matter and mind. We then can function with this true nature of mind in the position of Buddhahood.

The additional teaching of Vajrayana is the Deep Breathing. It is much different from the breathing of Hinayana and Mahayana. The Tantra never adopts any one-sided views. It clearly maintains that where there is mind there is prana (energy), where there is prana, there is mind.

In the Idealism School of Mahayana the entire contents of consciousness have been segregated into one hundred dharmas, including good and bad. The Tantra adopts this system but with a much deeper emphasis. It sees the Mandala as either positive or negative energy and mind, but has no preference for the good over the bad or vice versa. The Tantra completely identifies the good with the bad by sublimating either out of the one-sided view. Where the Idealists see good or bad, positive or negative, pleasure or pain, the Tantric yogi experiences only a bright and shimmering quantum of energy and mind which he may identify in his function of Buddhahood. In short, the Tantric yogi has conquered the superficial belief of right and wrong, thus he sees everything as the Mandala of energy, the identification of mind and energy.

For example: lust contains the energy of lust which transmutes into Discriminating Wisdom, anger contains the energy of anger which transmutes into Mirror Wisdom; pride consists of pride energy which is transmuted into Wisdom of Equality; ignorance contains the energy of ignorance which is transmuted into the All-Accomplishing Wisdom, all through the mental meditation of Sunyata and the deep breathing of Tummo. So let us not adopt the false view like many followers of the Idealist School by believing that the followers of the Tantra do not understand their doctrine. The correct view is that the Tantric yogis have harvested the essence of the Idealist doctrine.

The Vajrayanaists know that wherever there is consciousness, there is energy, and vice versa. They would never say as the Idealists that it is the eighth consciousness which transmigrates from lifetime to lifetime, moment to moment, rather that the eighth consciousness accompanied with the life energy is that which transmigrates. Without the life energy the eighth consciousness cannot move, and actually this apparent duality is merely one phenomena when viewed from the truth of Tantra.

It was only because many unrealized and unpracticed scholars in their ignorance created the separate view of materiality and mentality that learned Buddhists do not know the real truth today. One should not call himself a Buddhist if he holds any such view. Therefore, we should know that by deep breathing we simultaneously accomplish deep wisdom. Without deep breathing there can be no deep wisdom and vice versa. Do not think you will accomplish deep wisdom by intellectual endeavor, for this is merely glorified confusion. You scholars should be like Naropa and leave the bondage of your universities to follow Tilopa. This is most important advice in our Kali age where the Dharma of verbal garbage is overflowing its bank.

Before learning the Vajra breathing, we should first learn the Hinayana and Mahayana breathing. In the former, we change the gross breath into subtle. We find that when the mind is calm the breath follows suit. We should recognize that this is not deep breath, this is shallow breath. We should learn the Four Noble Truths from our breathing practice and avoid evil thoughts. Also we can recognize impermanence. If my exhale does not return I will die. By inhaling we breathe in the Buddha's wisdom and by exhalation all the black and evil karmas leave us. Lastly, we should discover the sunyata of personality, that there is no individual self doing this breathing practice. This is Hinayana breathing.

In Mahayana breathing we absorb the Evil Karmas of all sentient beings by inhalation, and purify the evil karmas of sentient beings by exhalation. We experience the sunyata of inner dharmas by inhalation, and discover the sunyata of external dharmas by exhalation. Everything is without ego. Both the inner personality and external dharmas are without self. The Tien-Tai School has a book named "Six Wonderful Dharma Gates" giving very detailed accounts of the six types of Mahayana breathing.

Vajrayana breathing must be devoid of all dualistic conceptions regarding what is matter and what is energy. It proceeds from the seven element theory of causation: Right view and consciousness belong to mentality, whereas the five material elements belong to materiality (earth, fire,water, space, air). By deep breathing we can absorb all five material elements because we have cut off all dualistic views. All the phenomenal world is contained in the Vajra breathing. There are many stages of attainment in the Vajrayana breathing.

Before deep breathing, we must consider if it is the proper time for practice (Mahayana never takes this precaution). We must make sure the breath is flowing evenly through both nostrils. If it is uneven, it is better to have the flow greater through the left nostril, but never the right. Greater flow through the left nostril will increase the length of life. But greater flow through the right nostril will decrease the length of life. However, even flow through both nostrils will give the longest life span. These are facts discovered by practitioners of the Vajrayana and cannot be found in the Mahayana. They are the precious fruits of Buddha's realization which we may use as expedient means in the position of Cause.

Even flow through both nostrils is most favorable to cause the breath to enter the median nerve for wisdom breathing. This opens the median nerve to discover the Dharmakaya light.

To make the breath even in both nostrils, lay down on the side through which the breath has greater flow, this will naturally increase the flow in the deficient nostril. Next lie on the back to make sure the breath is even in both nostrils, then begin practice.

Before deep breathing we should begin with the "Vajra Repetition"--OM AH HUNG. We call it Vajra Repetition because Vajra is the symbol for Sunyata: Vajra cannot be cut, Vajra cannot be defiled, Vajra cannot be divided, Vajra cannot be destroyed. I have written a commentary on the Vajra Repetition in Chinese published in Hong Kong and it has been protected by the Protectors. I hope it will eventually be translated into English. With a firm foundation in practicing the OM AH HUNG repetition, the dangers of the deep breathing practice can be avoided. So the OM AH HUNG repetition is very important. When we breath in, this is OM; when we hold the breath inside without strain this is AH; HUNG is the exhalation. So this is not oral recitation but a system of breathing.

Next is the "Middle Abiding Breathing." Here we always keep some inner energy between the navel and the sexual organ, but not by force. It is done quite naturally without any manipulation during all the days activities; if we can hold it 24 hours a meditation will spontaneously result.

After completion of the above two foundations we may begin the gentle form of deep breathing; when we are accomplished in it, we may go on to the violent form of deep breathing.

The violent deep breathing is divided into four parts: First, the inducing (inhalation) of all the energy from all Buddha lands which are drawn into the body as if by a hook. Second, storing and holding the breath inside very, very deeply until all parts of the body are full of energy, even teeth, hair, etc., and all the wisdom nerves are very excited and full, almost ready to break as if the skin of the body were going to burn. Needless to say this step is very, very dangerous. Without a good foundation the practitioner may die by attempting this breathing prematurely.

Third is the shooting (violent exhalation) visualized as either leaving the pores of the skin (this will cure many kinds of diseases), or shot upward to the head which then can transmit our consciousness to the Pure Land. The Phowa yoga is based on this method. When shooting, this energy should pass through the median nerve. Fourth, is pervading the whole body so it trembles to spread the wisdom drops everywhere and make the body very healthy and powerful. These four divisions are just one cycle of deep breathing.

We should make great efforts to sit in the full lotus position to practice deep breathing. When I was 23 I could not sit in full lotus. At this time I was not a complete renounceable drop out and was very busy. When I was 28 I still could not sit in full lotus, so I was very ashamed. But remembering the violent treatment Marpa gave Milarepa I was inspired to treat myself with the same determination. In this way, with much pain, I learned to sit full lotus. I treated myself as Marpa treated Milarepa, so eventually I succeeded. You should treat yourself in a like manner. If you want to succeed in deep breathing, you must make great effort and do not be lazy. Be diligent and bear all the pains or you will not gain any Enlightenment. Thank you.

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