A Collection of Chenian Short Lectures in America, Part II
The Buddhist Yogi C. M. Chen
I. Why is Traditional Buddhism Better Than the Modernized One?
Nowadays most young American students of Buddhism seem to favor a modernized
form of Buddhism. Even a very well known Guru with many students emphasizes
the modernization of the Buddha's Dharma, so this talk is needed to explain
why I am so foolish and backward as to emphasize traditional Buddhism.
It will make clear to you what my view is.
1. The Truth: First of all, surely our religion is aimed at the Truth.
Science also has its truth and every religion has its own idea of truth.
Truth can be defined as what was, is, and will be. It must be constant.
If it is changeable it is not the real truth.
Truth is beyond time. Buddha is called Du Sum Chenpo which means the
knower of three periods. He has already seen all three times including
the future. Du Sum Chenpo is the proper name of the first Karmapa, but
also a common name applicable to all Buddhas. A Buddha must know not only
the present, but also the past and future as well. Who can be more advanced
than a Buddha?
If Buddhism is true it must be applicable even to the future. We cannot
say that the Buddha's teaching was only for his contemporary era three
thousand years ago and that since then many things have changed and that
therefore we must modernize his teachings. The modernized teaching of today
will become the traditional teaching of tomorrow. The day after tomorrow
somebody may modernize your teaching! The latest scientific knowledge always
overthrows the former scientific knowledge. Therefore, science is not reliable.
Nowadays we are beginning to see the many problems such as pollution caused
by science. The new science always seems better than the old one. This
is quite easy to understand. This is because science only gives changeable
knowledge, but not the real truth, the real religious truth.
For example, when I was young I heard that to cure venereal disease
one had to use an injection of the drug called 606 or the one called 914.
These numbers were derived from the number of experiments done to find
these drugs. Still could even this many experiments cover and cure all
of mankind? And now we use Penicillin instead of them. But some people
cannot tolerate Penicillin and some strains of venereal disease have become
resistant to it. So now we will have to search for even newer drugs.
All scientific knowledge is produced by the human brain. It is therefore
only temporary limited knowledge. So it has only temporary utility and
can be only temporarily fruitful. But the eternal truth of religion remains
unknown to the scientists. To understand the truth one must emphasize that
the traditional teaching is better than the modernized one.
If the Buddha's teaching needs to be modernized, after a few years it
will become the traditional teaching and have to be modernized again. So
it cannot be the real truth. By definition the truth must be what was,
is, and will be. It must always be the same.
2. Time: When we talk about truth we must deal with time and space.
Even according to Albert Einstein's authoritative Theory of Relativity,
time has no limitation. What we call time has no ultimate reality. Someone
moving relative to us would have to use a different time to explain the
same events. But there is still the limitation of space (or of four dimensional
interval), but in Buddhism it is always said that time has no limitation
and that space has also no limitation. Since time has no limitation, Buddhism
is beyond time.
What does it mean to say old or new? Every day is new. Every day is
also the same. This is the truth. In ancient times everything was void.
In the present everything is void. In the future everything will still
be void. Every person is without ego. Every dharma is without ego. This
does not mean that in the Buddha's lifetime life was so simple, so he could
say that everything is sunyata, but that now in our modern times everything
has become so complex that it is impossible to meditate on the sunyata.
Some say there are so many things to distract us, not like in the Buddha's
time when everything was simple and primitive. Maybe Buddha could meditate
on the non-ego of Dharma, but how can we be expected to meditate on sunyata?
We must have sex, we must have wine, we must have food, we must have fun,
we must have T.V., then we can enjoy ourselves. What is the use of meditating
on the void?
This is all mistaken. This kind of thinking is within the limitation
of time. Beyond time the Truth is always happening, is always new, is always
advanced. The truth has always attained to the very end. Rather, it has
attained to the very non-end.
3. Space: Space also has no limitation. People always used to say that
Heaven is one thing, Earth is another. But now the Astronauts have landed
on the moon. The Buddhist Sutras show us a space much wider than the space
perceived by science. The stars that can be listed in an astronomy book
occupy a very small space compared to the space of Buddhism. If you claim
to be more advanced than Buddhism you must point out some worlds that do
not appear in Buddhism. Are you modernized enough to do that? But Buddha
talked about many worlds never heard of by science, worlds that will not
be found on any human map. Who is the advanced one? Who is the modernized
one? The one who seems to be advanced is really just a fool because he
lacks knowledge of Buddhism.
4. Speed: It seemed that the speed of sound was the ultimate speed.
When airplanes tried to go faster they would disintegrate and so people
talked about the "sound barrier". Now that speed has been exceeded but
the scientists seem to think that the velocity of light is the ultimate
speed. Nothing can travel faster than light. But our Buddhism emphasizes
the speed of the mind. This has nothing to do with the one thousand foot
per second speed of neural processes. No kind of material velocity can
compare with it.
Everyone knows the story of the competition between Milarepa and the
outsider. They were to race to the top of the mountain. It seemed obvious
that the outsider started out riding his magic drum, flying up the mountain.
Milarepa was still asleep. All his disciples were saying, "Get up, get
up. Don't be so lazy, get up, get up. Otherwise you will not win." Milarepa
said, "Never mind. Let him go!" Then when the outsider was almost to the
peak of the Himalayan mountain, just by the power of his mind, Milarepa
arrived instantly at the top and won. This is known as reaching the goal
Who could go faster even with an airplane? Who is the advanced one?
Your modernized speed is at the most a result of clever use of fire and
air. Fire and air cannot compare with Milarepa's mind.
5. Position (High and Low): Nowadays everyone in America always says
"Hi!". On Shattuck Avenue, there was a carpenter taking a roof off a building.
He called to me, "Hi!". I said, "I'm not high. You are the one who is high,
I am just low. But I am much safer than you. You must take care of your
high!" What does high really mean? The real high must be like the tuft
on the Buddha's head. Compared to the head of a man, a God's is much higher.
But no God can see the top as the tuft on the Buddha's head. This is the
real high. But this kind of high is with the feet touching the ground.
Buddha can even touch Hell with his feet. This is the real kind of high.
You should base your high on a good foundation at the bottom, then you
can really touch the high. The traditional high is like this. The magical
high is like this. The supernatural high is like this. Even though men
landed on the moon this is not the real high. Who is the advanced one?
6. History: According to history the Hinayana progressed to the Mahayana,
then the Mahayana advanced to the Vajrayana. So, following history, we
should change the Vajrayana into the Modern-yana? The Modern-yana is just
sex, wine, and T.V. Is it much better than Vajrayana? Is this true? If
not, one might ask why has the Hinayana changed into the Mahayana and the
Mahayana into the Vajrayana? But we must understand that this is not really
a change, rather it is a gradual education. Even though the Hinayana was
taught for a certain period during the Buddha's personal time, and then
later the Mahayana was taught, still the Mahayana is always based on the
Hinayana and includes it. The Mahayana never teaches that one should reject
the Hinayana. It is based on the Hinayana and then develops a more complete
teaching. The traditional teaching is still there. Could there be a Bodhisattva
without renunciation? Should a Bodhisattva not think about Impermanence
as taught by Hinayana? All of the Mahayana and Vajrayana are based on the
Hinayana. Why was Milarepa so advanced in the Vajrayana? Because his Hinayana
foundation was so well confirmed. His sufferings were an example not of
the Vajrayana but of the Hinayana. We know that Milarepa was a Patriarch
of the Vajrayana. But who has suffered like him? He lived in a cave, ate
only nettles, and suffered from cold. Without this Hinayana foundation
how could he have succeeded in the Vajrayana? So the more you emphasize
the traditional teaching, the more you succeed. This is why Milarepa said,
"From the lowest state I can get the highest position. From practice singly
by myself many dakinis will come to me. From a very patient practice I
will quickly come to the very highest goal of Mahamudra." Thus he emphasized
three secret instructions. From low to high, from single to double, and
from slow to quick. From this we learn that if you really want to advance
in the spiritual stages, you have to emphasize the traditional teaching.
7. Finished and Unfinished Teachings: Our Buddha always said that Buddhism
has both finished and unfinished teachings. Unfinished means the Hinayana
and Mahayana. Finished means the Vajrayana. When something is finished
it is complete. If it is complete it is not changeable. He who wants to
change the Buddha Dharma is quite a sinner. He cannot lead anybody to get
the attainment. He just cheats his students and takes their money. That's
8. The Propagation of Buddhism: Surely many things are very difficult
to accept in this Kali Age. In ancient times people were able to accept
the Hinayana very easily. But now if you try to teach Hinayana it is very
difficult to have it accepted. This is quite true and I myself must admit
it. But the propagation of Buddhism is not just a form of advertising.
In the advertising business, the more you cheat, the more money you get.
But when propagating Buddhism, even if they do not accept it you must not
abandon or pervert the real Dharma. You must still teach it according to
Suppose there was a person who was really a Bodhisattva or Vajrasattva,
born on earth for his final lifetime. The teaching must be preserved here
for him. If everyone follows the modernized thinking and nobody emphasizes
the Tradition, how can this being meet it?
9. The Goal: Everybody has some aim or goal. Is the proper goal one
that is favored by modernization or by the traditional teaching? Surely
the goal has been experienced directly and taught by Buddha in the Buddha
Age. Buddha also knew everything that was to happen in the future. Can
those modern teacher's wisdom compare with his? If not, which one should
Buddhists should follow the Buddha himself. Buddha is the Guru of the
traditional teaching. Through the generations he has imparted it to us.
If we do not follow the traditional teaching, Buddha's efforts have been
10. The Three Ages: Buddha always emphasized the three ages. The first
was called the Buddha Age. It lasted for five hundred years. Buddha preached
for forty-nine years. At the age of eighty he left us, but his teaching
is still here. If you neglect to follow the tradition, how can you expect
to become a Buddha yourself?
But when I advised Mr. Douglas to buy A Buddhist Bible he said that
he did not have any money. He had five hundred dollars to put into training
in psychology, but not five dollars to buy that book. If you do not follow
the teaching, how can you become a Buddha? If you cannot become Buddha
himself, what is your aim in studying Buddhism?
The second age is called the Image Age. In the Image Age at least the
image of Buddha still survives. From the image we can see the Buddha. But
today where can you even see such an image?
The Image only survives because of the Tradition. Today the yellow Robe,
tomorrow the Yellow Robe, the day after still the Yellow Robe.
Once I read a message published by a certain American Buddhist Center
in Massachusetts. The leader of the center is a laywoman. Yet she dared
to write such a message which said, "Why do those monks come here in their
yellow robes? What is so powerful about a yellow robe? They could wear
any kind of a robe. And why do they have to shave their heads? Why don't
they have long hair like the hippies? Those monks don't even wear leather
shoes. Their bare feet are very dirty. Why should they follow such a tradition?
It is useless. If you want to promote Buddhism in America you have to do
everything like the Americans."
I wrote a letter of criticism telling her she was quite wrong. So we
see that in this modern time even the Image is very difficult to preserve.
Everything must be more and more modernized. There is no certainty in modern
dress. The fashion changes continually. Now some people have begun to wear
Japanese and Tibetan clothing. Not like the monks but just like the common
laymen's. Is the tradition of Buddhism the same as the tradition of Tibetan
laymen's dress? If not, why do they use it? Actually this kind of modernization
is nonsense. And now each Center wants to have its own uniform. Here a
pocket, there a pocket. Does this modernization help Buddhist teaching?
But when we maintain the Image we worship Him. We know that the yellow
robe exemplifies the Buddha. A certain color and a certain form help the
student have a certain faith. It is not being changed all the time. So
even in the Image Age one should still follow the Tradition. The modernization
of outward things like dress is always changing. Sometimes the modern fashion
favors traditional things, other times not. Therefore it is not reliable.
The Kali Age is the time when the Dharma declines more and more in order
to fit people's modernization. Has it started already? Yes! The Buddha
Age lasted for five hundred years. The Image Age lasted from the five hundred
and first year after Buddha's birth until the fifteen-hundredth. According
to the Chinese Buddhist records it is now more than three thousand years
since the Buddha was born here. So the Kali Age has already started by
more than fifteen hundred years.
Why do people nowadays favor modernization so much? It is only because
of their habits. The Kali Age is a time when the people have become the
slaves of their habits. The Buddha's personal teaching has been forgotten
and even his image is very difficult to see.
Even the monks themselves do not keep the Tradition. Recently a Chinese
monk came to see me. The first time he came dressed as a layman. I did
not pay any special respect to him. The next time he wore a robe. I said,
"Oh, today you have put on a robe. This is quite right because you are
a monk and we should worship you. When I see the Robe it is just like seeing
the Buddha. It is very rare." "But," I said, "You still don't follow the
Hinayana rule completely. Why do you still wear white clothing inside?
Why do you still use leather shoes? If you can change both, then I will
worship you." He was very ashamed and went away.
Thus we see that even the monks cannot follow the Tradition. Much the
less it is followed by ones who come from the Universities, by the modern
students who have more or less Hippie habits. So they only run after wine,
free sex and laziness. So human nature becomes stronger and the Traditional
teaching becomes weaker. The attempts to modernize the teachings of Buddha
are very representative of the Kali Age habits. If you continue to emphasize
the modernized teaching, the bad habits will increase and it will be the
end of the Dharma.
I am very sorry to say that to emphasize the Traditional teaching is
like climbing up a mountain. Surely it is very difficult, but to emphasize
the modernization is just like falling off a cliff. It is very easy. So
now we see even a monk may have an accident. If one has accidents even
in this lifetime, what will happen to him after he dies? What state will
he fall into? Will he even be able to maintain this human condition for
another lifetime? How can such a person be a monk? Should he be praised
as a good monk?
But the man who follows the tradition is usually treated as a fool.
It is just like when Milarepa's sister and fiancee came to visit him at
his cave. They said, "On the way here we saw those famous lamas walking
in procession through the street. They have so many houses, so many attendants,
so much beautiful property. But look at you! You live in this cave. You
are so poor you don't even have trousers. And when we do give you cloth
for trousers what do you do? You cut it up into little pieces and make
coverings for your fingers and toes. What a foolish man you are!"
Nowadays where can we find such a one as Milarepa? But of people like
his sister and fiancee there are very many. They just advise you, "Why
don't you do like this monk and that monk? You would get a lot of money.
Why should you live alone here like you do?" Should I take their advice?
I'm just feeling ashamed for not being able to be like Milarepa completely.
11. Majority or Minority? It is a very common mistake to think that
the majority is always better than the minority. But the real Buddhist
always emphasizes Wisdom, Samadhi, and Realization. He does not care about
money, comfortable conditions or whether he has students or not. It is
not important to have a large membership, the purpose of Buddhism is not
for fighting. For fighting, it is useful sometimes to have a large membership.
For fighting maybe the majority always has the advantage. But for Samadhi
and for the Great Compassion, few is better.
To teach the Dharma is not the same as opening a theater. Just sell
a lot of tickets and get a lot of visitors, then say, "Look! Our teacher
is so famous. We can teach you how to fight; we can teach you how to love."
In this way you can attract a majority, but what is the use of this kind
Are not the ants more numerous than men? Are the ants more valuable
than men? Are there not more students than professors? Are the students
therefore wiser than the professors? The majority may select a president,
but is the president a majority himself?
Most men throughout all of history actually are fools. Important is
just the wise leader leading the majority but not vice versa. Whenever
and whosoever was a kind leader, his generation was peaceful; if he was
cruel, that generation suffered. The respect for the majority
is a modernization which should not be emphasized.
Always the minority is the wise one; the minority is the powerful one.
He may also be the sinful one, but nevertheless the minority is always
the important one. In history we can find many great personalities. Does
history belong to the people, to the multitude? Certainly not! In the history
of every country, at every time, it is always the very few who are wise
enough, compassionate enough--or powerful enough, or cruel enough--in any
case it is always the minority but not the majority that determines the
course of history. So do not think that where you find a lot of people
is the place to find good Buddhism. If you think like this you will fall.
12. Salvation: Many say that if you want to save people you must have
many students. If you do not have a lot of students how can you save them?
But what kind of students? If they are only students of sex, wine, and
fighting, maybe it would be better if there were no such centers at all.
They are no different from the rest of society, no different from Hell,
no different from common life.
They may be even worse. Consider what happens in such communities. Many
young people are brought together. Some are males; some are females. So
they love each other. Nobody controls them. There are no parents around
to control them. There are no teachers or professors to control them. So
they just exchange bad habits with one another. If they were living at
home, they would only have one set of bad habits. If they live in a community,
each also acquires the bad habits of all the others.
The question is, are you really saving anybody? If you are really saving
people, the more the better. If you are harming them, the fewer the better.
If a doctor is able to save the patients, then the more people that
go to him the better it is, but, if he is just a quack who takes their
money and leaves them to die, they would be better off without him. Then
they might be able to find a real doctor and be cured.
What does salvation really mean and who can do it? One must distinguish
between temporary good deeds and eternal good deeds. A person practicing
Mahayana can do many good deeds to help others, such as giving money, giving
medicine, giving books or healing diseases. But are these good deeds of
any lasting value?
For example, consider the Y.M.C.A. It provides a convenient place to
play. There is a swimming pool, boys and girls may meet and love there.
There are many convenient things there to enjoy. Such a place seems very
nice, but if Jesus, the traditional Jesus, were alive, He would drive all
such persons away. How do I know? From the Bible.
When He came to Jerusalem, He saw many businessmen in the Temple. He
drove them away. Are not such buyers and sellers the majority? There were
many, many like them. But in the whole country there were only twelve real
followers. Even among those twelve, there was one disciple who sold his
I do wish that the Gurus of Buddhism would not be sold by their disciples.
But now I hear that some students even fight with their Guru. Actually
if such people do not practice the traditional teaching but just gather
together, pray together, have sex together, and drink together, what is
the use? It would be better if there were no such organization. To find
the real salvation one must follow the Tradition.
A good example of the traditional teaching may be found in the biography
of Milarepa. When he had reached the point where he could actually fly
through the air, he said to himself, "Now I must be a savior. I must go
to where the people are and save them." But then he thought, "No, if I
go there I will just become like them and follow their ways. I will learn
their customs and habits but they won't learn anything from me. If I am
really worthy to be a teacher the Buddha will send some students to me
who are really Bodhisattvas, real incarnations, who will be useful, who
will really accomplish something, who will be very faithful. They will
be my students even if they are just ghosts and animals."
This is the Eternal Salvation. Milarepa saved many ghosts, many animals,
and many real students with human bodies as well. Such students did not
come to Milarepa just to follow their own habits.
Nowadays most students just think like this: "Oh, others like this teaching,
therefore I also like it." Both like it; both are sinners. There is a story
in a joke book: On Lincoln's Birthday, a father said to his son, "When
Lincoln was your age, he could carry railroad ties." The son was very clever
and replied, "Maybe so, but when Lincoln was your age, he was the President."
So nowadays it seems that the father and the son, the Guru and the student
are the same. Neither do the gurus try to help the students to change their
bad habits, nor do the students seek out the special teaching that would
help them change themselves. This kind of salvation is worse than nothing.
They would be better off with no salvation.
If we really want to save people, especially in the Vajrayana, we don't
do any worldly things. We even refrain from giving money or from curing
diseases. A real hermit will just utilize all of his time to practice from
morning to night. Then when he sleeps he will practice Sleep Yoga. When
he dreams he will practice Dream Yoga. When the bardo comes he will practice
Bardo Yoga. Not even one moment of his time can be occupied by worldly
But if one goes and investigates the modern Buddhist communities and
centers, he will find that they are full of worldly things. But such a
center, full of worldly things, will eventually be flourishing.
Such temporary illusory salvation is the very thing that makes the real
Eternal Salvation impossible. It is not real salvation. The more you emphasize
modernization the further you go from real salvation.
How can anyone save others if he cannot even save himself? Why does
such a modern Guru have accidents? Why do they talk about the Hinayana
but just contact many girls and wives? To hear them talk you might think
that they are better than Buddha Himself. But sometimes their acts are
worse than their students .
I do wish that every Guru, Lama and monk was a real savior. I would
like to worship them, take refuge from them and be saved. But we must find
the real one. Now our real one has come. I do hope that we all get a chance
to be blessed by Karmapa Rinpoche. Thank you.
II. Lecture Concerning Kurukula
Kurukula is not the same as the Red Tara. The Goddess Tara is a different
incarnation of Avalokitesvara and is from the Great Compassion of Avalokitesvara.
Tara has twenty-one transformations or forms, most of which save the believer
from worldly evil conditions, like disease, fire or other calamities. But
most of these are negative in aspect, that is, they can help you to not
suffer from this or from that. But Kurukula is positive in aspect and is
of another system of Avalokitesvara, not from the Tara system. Tara has
twenty-one forms but Kurukula is not one of those.
Kurukula is under a condition of love, positive love, not negative toward
bad things. The Taras help you to get rid of all bad things but Kurukula
helps you get everything you like; so they are on opposite sides and are
quite different. Some think that Kurukula is only for love or sex, that
after a ceremony to her you can get a wife, girlfriend or boyfriend. But
it is not only like this, for there are many kinds of love.
It is very easy to get inspiration through her to help you know the
final, the highest and the profoundest love, that is Universal Love. This
kind of Universal Love is connected with Avalokitesvara, the Great Compassion.
This Great Compassion is so because Avalokitesvara loves all sentient beings
and he who loves all without any condition becomes Great Compassion. Our
worldly love is directed toward the beautiful and rich and only when all
conditions of our desires are met then we love her or him, but this Universal
Love is without any condition.
Universal Love is connected with equality, that means to love all equally.
Not only to love my parents, but also to love others' parents; not only
to love my friend, but also to love my enemy; not only the beautiful one,
but I also love the ugly one or the evil one; not only to love the young
one but the old one, too. There is no condition to this kind of love, called
"Without Condition." To love without condition you must know the Great
Compassion of no-condition which means you should love every sentient being
without any condition whether or not you have some relationship with them.
To love you must first recognize the very reason for love; you have
to recognize the Sunyata of the entity of the whole body of the whole Dharmakaya.
The whole Dharmakaya includes the body of every sentient being so that
when you get the five elements and realize the Dharmakaya then you can
get the entity of the whole Universe.
Every sentient being, even a small insect, is part of your body just
like your own hair. If even one hair is pulled, you have a little pain
which the whole body shares; you feel that "this is my own body" so that
there exists for you the whole transmigration over so long a time and the
whole Dharmadhatu, containing so many sentient beings, are included in
the entity of the Dharmakaya. We must first recognize and realize that
entity which means if a sentient being feels a little pain, we feel it.
There is a story about a person who had great compassion with the whole
entity. Once he was preaching and a dog came into the altar hall. One Lama
hit the dog but the preacher forbid it and felt the pain on his own back.
The dog did not bark and went away. By this kind of Samadhi the preacher
occupied the whole body of every sentient being and whenever he wanted
to share the suffering in place of that being, he really felt it. And the
dog itself did not feel it. Even though the dog's body was hit, the pain
is on that of the preacher. Once a sage suddenly began crying and nobody
knew the reason for his crying. He said that outside there was a pig who
was going to be killed, so please forbid it. The pig itself does not feel
anything and does not cry. Not only by talking, saying that I will suffer
in place of you, but with his whole breath such a one occupies every sentient
being. Whenever his compassion is connected with the entity of the Dharmakaya,
he can take all the suffering from sentient beings into his own body. So
with this kind of Great Compassion, if you have the Samadhi, and really
can do it, then you really have Universal Love.
This practice connects with the fourth initiation. For practice of the
third initiation of Vajra Love there are also many different conditions
which are not like our usual habits as human beings. So try to read many
Buddhist books, try to contact many Buddhist teachers; they know many things
that never have been heard of by you and that can't be learned through
any study or biography. There are many different practices; many different
techniques which really have the power to achieve Universal Love and to
really do something to help others. This is the very essential practice
III. Some Questions Answered
Question: Why was everything offered in the Kurukula Fire Ceremony red?
Answer: Red is a color that can symbolize danger as a red light or it
can symbolize Maoism as connected with cruelty as well as with blood, but
here red symbolizes Love. In Buddhism there are five main colors which
are the colors of the five Buddhas. For fire sacrifices Red is for Love,
White is for Purification, Yellow is for Increase (our gold is yellow colored
and gold is a very dear thing so Increase is symbolized by the color yellow),
Green is for Peace and the power of different kinds of Karma, while Blue
is for Truth. Of the five Buddhas, the middle one is Blue, as the blue
sky, as the Adi-Buddha is blue, for blue shows the final truth. When there
is fine weather and a blue sky, there can be many different colors of clouds,
so this blue is thought of as a central color showing the final truth,
the whole entity, on which some other colors can be placed.
Red usually is for Love and occupies the western space of Amitabha.
If you perform a red puja for Love, this is not necessarily for marriage
or sex. For if a person in an upper position loves a person in a lower
position, that person can be easily promoted. If the person in the lower
position asks for Love then he can get his promotion. So the red sacrifice
can be used to get a good marriage, a good reputation and promotion or
a good job as the person giving the sacrifice is always being loved by
the powerful person.
Question: What color is the healing sacrifice?
Answer: If you offer a sacrifice to the Buddha of Healing, you use white
cloth and other white things. White implies the merit of purification and
therefore healing; our bodies were healthy but got some disease and so
our bodies must be purified, to return to the original color.
Question: What is the meaning of Green ? For example, if you see a thanka
painting with a green halo around a figure, what does it mean?
Answer: Green is a kind of color to show peace and to show the Karma.
Like a green light means to go, to pass. it implies action, and it also
implies harmonization without any fighting, as the peace of grass and trees.
Karma is to make peace to save others and green is a peaceful color. There
is no certainty of the color drawn as a halo around a head, although green
is sometimes used to show harmonization and peace.
There is also a killing puja which uses black because most of the powerful
protectors as Mahakala and Padenlongmo are black. You can offer every kind
of poison and these protectors like it; you can offer rose thrones, as
is shown in Christianity, and they do not fear it; you can offer blood
of a pig, lamb, or cow and offer this meat. The mandala for this offering
must be in a triangular form and the offerings of food are also offered
in triangular form. This kind of killing can be used against demons but
not against people, although the Tibetans sometimes used it to kill people.
There was even a Gelugpa Lama named Lalotzawa who wanted to kill Milarepa,
the kind sage. He threw Milarepa into a fire but Milarepa just sang in
the fire, "Your oil is all finished but my song is still not finished."
Lalotzawa could not kill Milarepa but he was very powerful and did kill
many sages. When Lalotzawa fell into Hell he immediately remembered his
Yidam Yama, the God of Death, became identified with him and was liberated.
The reason he killed those sages actually can be seen as reasonable. There
was a kind of Dharma teaching which was being learned and imparted to others
at that time which was very dangerous to good sages. This Phowa Drungjyu
teaching enabled the practitioner to move his own consciousness and to
come into your consciousness and occupy your body. So your body becomes
his body and your own consciousness is sent by him to a Buddha land and
his consciousness occupies your body. Lalotzawa thought that if everyone
practiced this and all the sages became good at it and everyone liked it,
then they could use that power to come into his own mind and then he would
be just like dead. He thought, "All who know this Dharma must be killed,
otherwise it will not be good." For this reason he killed the experienced
sages. But Milarepa did not perform this kind of Dharma teaching and did
not practice it so he did not deserve such punishment.
There is a Karmic System and an Enlightened System. The Karmic system
is very dangerous and everybody must try to stop their Karma and follow
the Enlightened system. This you can choose to do. The Karmic system is
not just fatalism, that is, you definitely must do this and do that based
on past actions, but it is changeable. If you read many books on Buddhism
and have faith, you can change and stop your Karmic direction. Even though
there may be bad seeds in your consciousness, if you do not put them into
the earth, do not give them sunshine and water, then they cannot sprout
and grow. In this way you can stop your past habits and when you find some
reason in Buddhism and you like it and you can take this as your central
thought, as your right view. You keep this right view and let it guide
your actions at every moment. Thus you do not move to the Karmic system
but follow the Enlightened system. Thus you can succeed.
Question: Who decides that?
Answer: The deciding factor is your Right View. Right View is from where?
From your reading and listening, your thinking, your choice and your free
will. You choose, "Oh, this system is very good, this kind of teaching
is very good, so I like it and choose to follow it."
Question: How is the choice related to one's Karma?
Answer: The teaching of every religion has some explanation for this.
Why you are in such a condition and how you can get another condition.
Each religion has its own doctrine and these must all be distinguished
by you. Then you can choose the best one from among them. Our action is
guided by our thought and our thoughts in the Karmic consciousness are
confused and confounded, without certainty. Today you like this, tomorrow
you like that, today you are a Hindu, tomorrow a Christian. This is because
you have not arranged your thoughts well and have not gathered Right View.
Such a person has no right view and no central thought. One must think
and read and make a comparative study, then one can choose. After you choose
a doctrine, then you must hold it through meditation. You must keep it
and never change it; for such a person, action follows the same system
of central thought. Nowadays there are very few people who are like this;
the thoughts of most people are constantly changing. First one may learn
Buddhism in Ceylon and like Hinayana very much, then move to China and
like Mahayana very much, then move to Tibet and like Vajrayana very much;
so one does not learn the whole system, why first Hinayana, then Mahayana
and then Vajrayana. So there are many teachers but none really hold Right
View. If one has right view he does not say, "Oh, I come to America, I
must follow the American system. I must lure the American youth to follow
me so I must change the Dharma." This can not be done.
Question: Will there be an American Yana?
Answer: Americans must change their habits to practice the Dharma; the
Dharma can not change its doctrines to suite the American way of life.
Some means may be changed but the Final Truth cannot be moved. For example,
in Tibet you used your hand to turn a prayer wheel round and round while
here you can use electricity to do it. This is good and these kinds of
things can be changed but the Final Truth cannot be changed. That is why
the Truth means "it is, it was, it will be." The Truth is the same in America
as in China. The Truth has no limitation of time and space. Killing is
bad in China and bad in America.
Try to be humble, to loosen yourself from your old habits, try to learn
something new, to make contact with teachers; don't say to them teach me
this and not that. You should just think, "What I don't know about may
be good for me, so I will try it", then you can get good teachings. When
Karmapa came, everybody gave something to him but did not actually get
anything in return; this kind of merit is also good. They did not actually
receive teaching from Karmapa as they like their own way.
Question: Somebody told me they got twenty initiations from Karmapa.
What good is this?
Answer: Yes, I have gotten more than five hundred initiations from many
teachers. But if you do not change yourself, what is the use?
Question: How many different kinds of fire sacrifices are there? Answer:
Each Yidam can have its own one, just by changing the incantation. I have
written down about ten kinds for the common functions, but actually each
Yidam has its own ritual of the fire sacrifice.
Question: Is it possible to participate in the fire sacrifice without
being a Buddhist?
Answer: Every religion has a fire sacrifice, in Hinduism, Taoism, Confucianism.
The philosophy behind each is different so the meaning is different. In
China for example, a replica of a house is made out of paper complete with
rooms, servants, and a cat, and is then offered in the fire sacrifice and
Question: What is Samaya?
Answer: Samaya can be said to be a kind of Vow. Once you have taken
a Vow, you develop the will to keep the vow and you keep this will. We
call this human body the Samaya body because we have taken this vow and
have come to this world to be a man again to do our service. Samaya can
be said to be a kind of Vinaya because you have taken a vow and you must
keep it. Whether you take the Vinaya or not, if you do something evil you
are punished; but if you have taken the Vinaya and then break it, you are
doubly punished. So once we have taken this vow we say this flesh body
is the Samaya body. In our heart we visualize another body called the Wisdom
body and inside this Wisdom Body we visualize a bija, a word as HUNG which
is called the Samadhi Body because the meaning of truth is there.
When we get full Enlightenment we have three bodies: the Nirmanakaya
Body is from the Samaya Body, the Sambhogakaya Body is from the Wisdom
Body, and the Dharmakaya Body is from the Samadhi Body. The Samaya body
contains much information, for a vow is taken before Buddha that I must
save this, I must save that and all this kind of knowledge and information
is in the Nirmanakaya. So this Nirmanakaya Body is very important.
Not everybody has a Samaya Body. You must first change your Karmic body
into a Samaya body. Our body is due to our consciousness. We pursued something,
desired something, and something from our last lifetime remains here. Suppose
I love my parents; I think that this lifetime I do not do many good things
for my parents, so next lifetime I must serve my parents very well. Such
a person has a Karma with his parents. Most people come to this world with
their own Karma. Why you have such parents, such a wife, such children,
is because in the last lifetime you had some Karma which was not finished.
All this Karma is in transmigration. So this system of a Karmic person,
born in a certain place in a certain time to certain parents, is from past
Karma and all are part of transmigration. There is some good Karma enacted
as a vow: "Next time I must be a Buddha or a God or do something for others."
Some have such a vow, so he must go to such a family and be born there,
have a good education, meet good sages and become initiated and follow
the Buddhist system, the enlightened system.
Question: About the ritual you performed for Kurukula. You put oil in
a cup, heated it in the fire and then put brandy in it, ignited it and
threw it up in the air. What does this show?
Answer: This symbolizes a kind of kunda, a kind of love. The oil put
in the fire is as the male, excited by love. Then we add the Dakini's ovum,
her red bodhi, represented by the brandy. The white bodhi is excited, her
red bodhi enters and combines so that both together make the kunda grow
and increase. This makes Kurukula happy. You want love, she also wants
love, you know. You must make her love well satisfied, then she will share
something with you.
Question: What was the meaning of the crooked finger mudra used in the
Answer: This is the gesture of a hook. During the love sacrifice I say
for you, "Now I am going to help Robert get love. So the very good one,
the best and most beautiful girl with everything perfectly good I hook
Buddhism recognizes three kinds of mysticism: the Body Power, the Speech
Power, the Mind Power. The Mind Power is by prayer, by visualization, and
the Body Power is by gesture. The Speech Power is by incantation which
everyone can repeat as "OM KURUKULA SHYE SOHA." The objects of the ritual
offerings are chosen by their form. For example, for the love sacrifice,
some offerings are like the reproductive organ of the male or the female.
So the offering is by form, color and meaning. You must make contact with
these things. The condition is fixed and when the Yidam is satisfied, then
inspiration will come.
Question: A question was asked concerning who can participate in the
ritual. Sometimes we do things that we feel are meaningful and productive
and other times we are lost in a ritual that we do not understand. How
are we to relate to both the ones we think we understand why we are doing
and the ones that we do not understand?
Answer: A ritual as is done here is mainly experienced out of curiosity
by most people. I answer that everyone can participate because we hope
that by making connection with such a holy Dharma and by listening to Buddhist
talk, eventually the curious will develop right view and right faith. Actually
you must have right faith and the initiation of the yidam before you can
really participate, otherwise you are not allowed. Yesterday a Lama in
Berkeley gave a fire sacrifice to kill a demon who was making someone insane,
so at night he performed it but forbid anyone to see. Usually no one is
allowed to see such killing rituals. And the love ritual also, the uninitiated
are not allowed to see. The ritual for wealth everyone can see. This is
because for love or killing it is not good if there is someone who holds
doubt. For this reason, to keep the ritual without bad faith and without
bad impressions, the uninitiated are forbidden.
Question: Why have you never performed a black killing sacrifice?
Answer: I have no such a demon, and nobody ever asked me to perform
it for them. The killing ritual has special conditions. They must have deep Karma against the person and must also bear the
responsibility. My Guru liked to do such things. For the sake of Karmapa
he killed four persons, but then he himself was also killed by another.
My Guru told me that the Dalai Lama wanted one of his relatives presented
as a false Karmapa, so as my guru was a Mahakala-Tulku, he did some incantation
and killed the imposter. Afterwards it was not known who killed this person.
One day my Guru said, "Oh, someone is killing me" and the day after
he said "I will go to Bhutan to be reborn; after three years you must go
there to bring me back." (He was brought back, this I know quite well.)
His dying was unusual; one day he could no longer see although his eyes
were still there. "Tomorrow", he said, "I will go." So the killing conditions
are very important. I know about this quite well, do not wish other persons
to kill me and do not do this practice.
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