Corresponding fingers (Both Hands Have the Same Meaning)
La (Ram in Sanskrit)
Kom (Kam in Sanskrit)
2. Becoming Close to the Buddha
Because one has now come into the mandala, one has approached very close to the Buddha, and there are many special things to be done. In exoteric Buddhism, the Buddha seems very far away—Buddha is Buddha and man is man.
(The writer here looked up and caught Bhante's eye, for the latter had been speaking on this very subject in the Vihara weekly lecture the evening before using two similes from the Saddharma Pundarika Sutra.)
But in the mandala one becomes just like the family of the Buddha.
Before one can actually become a Buddha, one must get rid of the concept
"I am human"; otherwise Buddhahood will be
impossible. To rid oneself of this, in Vajrayana there is a special "society" (of Buddhas,
bodhisattvas and deities), with special modes of behavior (of offerings, worship, etc.), living in a special country (the mandala of the
Because the Buddhas and the mandala are
treated as the
All the Tantras are methods in the position of consequence of Buddhahood. Some of these methods are not liked by the peaceful deities, so before practicing them one must first send these devas away.
"You know," said the yogi turning to the writer, "you saw me perform that fire-sacrifice. At the beginning, I threw some offerings far away; that was for these gods and by this action they were dismissed."
Many things which in the ordinary way of exoteric Buddhism are forbidden, may be done after purification and sublimation into the position of consequence with the methods of mudra and mantra.
Impurity of any sort easily blocks the conditions for Tantric practice. Therefore, all one's defenses must be built up very well.
6. Shortened time
Because the period of time from worldling to Full Enlightenment is shortened to only one life, so details of the Vajrayana path must be exactly prepared.
For these reasons, there are so many preparations. Now we come to the main meditations.
E. Meditation on the Six-element Yoga (Being One Practice Selected from the Garbhadhatu)
Before I speak on this meditation, there are some points to which I would ask readers to pay attention. Firstly, why have these particular meditations been selected? Because in Tibetan Tantra, they are neglected (see App. III, B, 3). Another point to note is that here we have not introduced the readers to all the mudras and mantras, though all the main principles of these are set forth. Instructions on the former must be obtained from the personal voice of the guru and cannot be obtained from any printed words. Whatever one's personal guru has uttered is exactly right. There is a good story on this topic:
Once, a Chinese Tantric guru imparted to his disciple the mantra of Avalokitesvara, but instead of giving it with the usual sounds he gave it as: Om Mani Padme Niu. However, his disciple was very faithful to his master and very earnest in his practice. He repeated the mantra more than ten million times and above his roof appeared a circle of white light. Now it happened that a scholar-guru of the Tantric school was passing by and saw this holy manifestation. He thought to himself: "There must be someone here well-practiced in the Tantra," and he went to that disciple's quarters. Then the scholar asked the practitioner what was his object of meditation. The faithful disciple said: the mantra of Avalokitesvara—Om Mani Padme Niu. Then the scholar replied: Your guru is wrong, the mantra is: Om Mani Padme Hum. "Oh, yes, I am sure you are right, being such a learned teacher," said the disciple. "Thank you for correcting me!" Then the practitioner started repeating the mantra correctly, but his mind was now disturbed by some doubt and the circle of light over his hut disappeared.
This story emphasizes that one must have a personal guru in the Tantra and one must cultivate the highest faith in him and in his instructions. Only he can give one the mantra for repetition. (Even if the mantras are printed, they cannot be profitably used without the teacher's own instructions.)
Regarding the instructions in the mudra, in this book we cannot draw all these finger positions, and even if we could there would be considerable danger of mistakes occurring. Words also cannot properly describe the mudra and, like the mantras, they can only be obtained directly from a teacher.
However, the most important part of these meditations is the visualization, not the mudra and mantra. The visualization practices are completely based upon the philosophy of the Tantra (see Appendix I, Part One, A, 2).
If a person has not yet met with a guru, he will be without the mudra and mantra and will only be acquainted with the meditations given in this book. Now, we recognize that mind is the essence, so such a person should proceed in practice according to our book of meditations. Hence, we have left aside the practices concerning body and speech and concentrate here upon those involving the mind. We should realize, however, that in the lower Tantras, the three karmic meditations dealing with the three secret conditions of body, speech, and mind are always mentioned and are therefore important. But by instructions given in the highest Tantra of Tibet, the former two are not so important as the third one—the mind.
After preliminary notes, we come to the actual meditations:
What is here called the "Six-element Meditation" has another name: "Five Wheels of the Pagoda." We do not use the latter, because the reader must not only know the five elements, but should have knowledge of all six, so that materiality and mentality are thoroughly identified. There are several steps in the process of this practice:
1. Enter into the Buddha's samaya (nexus, bond)
How? Visualize a moon lying horizontally. On it appears the sound A. Think of A as the philosophy of sunyata. Whenever this symbol arises, then mind and body are no longer human, one is already in the samaya of the Buddha.
2. Be born in the Dharmadhatu
Visualize LA, the bija or seed-mantra of fire. From the syllable LA come many flames and everything in oneself from top to toe is burned up without remainder. Secondly, a fire bestowal comes from the Buddha into our body and burns downwards. Thirdly, all sentient beings catch fire and every one of them is burned up. All obstacles are overcome and all demons vanquished after this and there will be no trouble experienced in meditation.
3. Visualize the pagoda-diagram
This should be closely studied to understand the various correspondences and meanings. First, one should know the five bija: these are the five pearls of the gnosis of Buddhahood (according to the sutra), or they may be considered the five hearts of the five Buddhas. When they are thoroughly practiced, then the bestowal of these Buddhas is quite easy to obtain. One should also understand their philosophical meaning:
A, for instance, means the unattainability of that which is unborn. This is not "nothing," but has a very mystical meaning difficult to understand unless one has practiced, a meaning that cannot be taught by a book. The unattainability means the ungraspable nature of sunyata, and even though we speak of it like this, still it appears in different ways.
VI means the unattainability of speech.
LA means the unattainability of purity and impurity.
HUM means the unattainability of karmic causation.
KOM means the unattainability of the equivalence of the sky.
The actual meaning of this last one is that one does everything (the emphasis is on action in kriya and carya Tantras): one has made so many offerings, repeated the mantra so many times, etc., as to have filled heaven and earth with these meritorious acts, to have performed so many of them as to be equivalent to the unendingness of the sky.
The philosophic background of merits and voidness is found in the Mahayana but what is special in Tantra is illustrated in the following example: From A (which means unborn) comes the mystic birth of Buddhahood.
Also, the mantra is not available in Mahayana, it is only known after the sublimation process and comes as one of the functions through expedient methods in the position of Buddhahood found in the Tantra. So we come back to our definition (see Ch. III, F): "from being an abstract perception into a concrete realization." After purification and sublimation comes the function of salvation. That is why we have said that the purpose of Tantric practice is ultimately to save others, as distinct from the Mahayana attitude.
The seed-mantra A really corresponds to the earth-element. This is not just an empty theory, but a matter of fact. Just as the great earth can produce everything, so the sunyata of the unborn can bring forth every factor of salvation. This is how the Tantra can ultimately save others.
Then comes the second sound VI. Because it is not common speech and its nature is sunyata, from it emerges the Dharma-mark (laksana). Just as a flower blooms from the water it is put into, so all Tantric dharmas are very powerful through the nature and foundation of the water element.
LA is third. The nature of every dharma is neither pure nor defiled. We have gone through the purification process in the Hinayana and the sublimation in the Mahayana but we have not yet come to the functions. As the seed-syllable LA corresponds to the fire, so we use this wisdom-fire to burn up all craving for both mentality and materiality. The function of the wisdom-fire may be likened to a fire made for cooking something. As the latter matures food so that one can eat it, so the former matures the spiritual food of Buddhadharma. The name of its function is "purification of dharma-marks."
Fourth is HUM. When we know the philosophy of karma as unattainable, then good and evil disappear. The karma of good and evil is stressed in the Hinayana and sublimated in the sunyata meditations of Mahayana (for in sunyata there can be neither good nor evil). But it remains only the theory of meditation until one comes to this Tantric practice called "turning the Dharma wheel." All Dharma wheels are in sunyata and this syllable corresponds to the wind which turns those wheels. Here are no good and no evil, and when the correspondence is also made with the mystic mind-element, then one truly turns the Dharma wheel.
The fifth syllable, KOM, has the meaning of the unattainability of the equivalence of the sky, because every dharma is in its nature sunyata and therefore corresponds to the Dharmakaya. Now, the Dharmakaya is everywhere and the KOM bija corresponds to the space element; therefore, in this Tantra one visualizes every offering (breath-meditation, etc.), and makes it pervade everywhere. One even makes a little thing spread through all space. In the Mahayana, one knows well that the Dharmakaya is sunyata, but there one has no such expedient method as this in the position of consequence.
If one meditates on these seed mantras one by one and investigates their meaning, by such a samapatti the Buddhas, mystic powers, and functions of salvation are all easily experienced.
4. In this
meditation, we have a double visualization in which one pagoda corresponds to
our body (as already described), while a second one is visualized like a shadow
or reflection in the reverse order in the
Or again, as Bhante remarked, it is like those peculiar Chinese balls, one inside another.
5. Turning the Dharma wheel is meditation of mudra and mantra only. To begin with, one becomes a Buddha, then one sits in a Buddha's surroundings to save all sentient beings. If one does not know the correct mudra and mantra here, then at least one may visualize this process.
Many stages have been left out, but these are the chief ones and have been chosen for their simplicity.
Note: In Mr. Chen's tradition some of the bijas seem to have become changed from their Sanskrit pronunciation. Thus above we give the yogi's tradition of practice while noting that LA in Sanskrit is RAM and KOM is in Sanskrit KAM.)
F. Meditation on the Five Signs of a Buddha-Body in the Vajradhatu (See also Appendix I, Part Two, C, 2)
1. Preliminary Meditations
a. Four boundless minds (Brahmaviharas). These have been mentioned many times already, and the promise made that we would speak about them in the Vajrayana. They have a different connotation here, meaning sunyata. This meaning they acquired in Mahayana where they just signify these four characteristic minds grown as great as the Dharmakaya. Here, in addition, each is accompanied by a mantra and a mudra. In Japanese Tantra, the mudra given for all of them is the same, the mudra of Amitabha, but in my own meditation-light, four different gestures have appeared. We do not emphasize these, as the reader cannot practice them. He or she should, however, meditate on the meaning of the mantra and upon the accompanying sunyata. Not only are these boundless minds accompanied by sunyata, but also each one is associated with a different bodhisattva thus:
i. Maitri (loving-kindness) with Samantabhadra Bodhisattva.
ii. Karuna (compassion) with Akasagarbha Bodhisattva.
iii. Mudita (sympathetic joy) with Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva.
iv. Upeksa (equanimity) with Gaganaganja Bodhisattva.
b. Opening the gate of the mind or heart. Visualize A in the space in front of you. From this bija comes out a powerful light which is projected into the mind, causing it to open and become wisdom. The mind when open is like a palace.
c. Entering into the wisdom-seal. In front of the meditator a white lotus is visualized and on this lotus is a "moon-mat" with A upon its center. Take this A and put it into the palace: then the Buddha's wisdom has already come into the meditator's mind.
d. Harmonizing the wisdom-seal. We all have a natural wisdom and this is harmonized or mixed with the Buddha's wisdom. The latter is in the position of consequence, and although we have only visualized the Buddha-body, it comes to bestow itself upon us. How is this? The bija is visualized in the heart but after the wisdom of the Buddha has come (as an initiation), the seed-syllable is as though protected and embraced by that wisdom. This means making puja according to the Buddha Vairocana's great vows and visualizing the innumerable offerings described in the texts.
e. Ecstatic samaya. After Enlightenment, one attains pleasure in this samaya.
All these are in the nature of preliminary foundations in the vajradhatu; now we come to the main meditation:
2. The Five Signs:
a. To penetrate the nature of mind. This means to penetrate into the philosophic meaning, for not only our minds, but also the material of our bodies has come as a result of our human karma. A Buddha is produced differently, from the Dharmakaya, so first meditate on the nature of mind.
b. Practice the meditation of bodhicitta. This is visualized in symbolic form as a moon eight inches in diameter.
c. Receive the assurance-realization of the vajracitta. The symbol for this is the five branches of the Vajra. Visualize a vajra the size of a heart, then enlarge it to the size of the body (though one should not think of it as the body). Then make it equal in size to the hermitage, then equal to the sky, and finally beyond the sky: a vajra equal in size to all the Dharmadhatu. This meditation should then be practiced in reverse order.
d. One becomes a vajra-body and makes the vajra sometimes so vast as to fill the sky, at other times as tiny as the smallest seed, sometimes the size of the bija in the heart, and finally one makes it the size of one's body.
e. Finally, one becomes by visualization, the Buddha Vairocana.
These are the five steps to become a Buddha. Further:
f. One sits as a Buddha to receive the many offerings which are brought. Eight dakinis or vajra-women come bringing gifts. Their names are: Vajra-gaiety, Vajra-garland, Vajra-song, Vajra-dance, Vajra-flower, Vajra-incense, Vajra-lamp, and Vajra-perfume. (In our diagram (see Ch. IX, B) under the Yogic Tantra section, sixteen vajra-women are shown, but in this Tantra there are only eight.)
The vajra-body of Vairocana which one here acquires is equivalent to the Sambhogakaya. Naturally one must receive the offerings made to all Enlightened Ones.
g. Lastly, when one has become Vairocana Buddha, comes the turning of the great vajra-wheel, after which all sentient beings are seen as Samantabhadra Bodhisattva.
"Now," said the yogi, "I must ask our readers to review the last few chapters together with their diagrams, and from this revision they will be able to see the correspondences very well and understand thoroughly the process of purification, sublimation, and function."
G. How to Practice These Meditations Daily
1. Morning time—one sitting:
Breathing meditation and all the preparations given in this chapter.
2. Before noon—two sittings:
a. Garbhadhatu meditation on the six elements. In comparison with the other meditations, this one should be practiced a little longer and most stress laid on the five elements of the body.
b. Vajradhatu meditation. Emphasize particularly the four boundless minds and all the preparations. In all these practices the complete sequence of steps must be finished in one sitting, but we have mentioned here factors requiring special attention.
3. Afternoon—two sittings:
a. Garbhadhatu and the six element meditation, stressing particularly the pagoda of the surroundings and the turning of the Dharma wheel.
b. Vajradhatu. More emphasis upon the five signs and upon receiving the offerings.
4. Night—one sitting:
Some preparations of wearing the Dharma-armor using the appropriate mudra and mantra. There is, for instance, a special hand gesture for tying on the visualized plates of iron. When this armor of the Buddha's Teaching is securely tied on, demons can no longer attack. As the correct mudra cannot be given here, so readers must get the complete instructions from a competent guru. One should also repeat the 100-syllable mantra of Vajrasattva. This has two functions: it protects one from bad dreams and is used as a confession for all unskillful deeds committed during the day.
There are two kinds of theory relating to these practices. The Japanese, who preserved this tradition, state that by the practice of these meditations, in this very life one can attain Full Enlightenment. They also claim that this (yogatantra) is anuttarayoga and that above this there is none. It is quite wrong to say this, as their tradition has never had the Tibetan anuttarayoga.
In the Eastern tradition, the six elements are practiced only as mentality but not in the material aspect. They have never practiced the five elements of Buddhahood in one's own body by way of the anuttarayoga breathing practices. By the authentic anuttarayoga meditations given in this book, energy (materiality) is transmuted into the wisdom-body of a Buddha.
Japanese Tantrikas take yogatantra as the highest although it does not practice using materiality. As a result,
even those adept in yogatantra leave after their
death a physical body; whereas those accomplished in anuttarayoga have no body to leave, all of it having been transformed into wisdom-light (See
Appendix I, Part Two, B, 3). There is a Japanese patriarch of the Shingon-shu (the Tantric
Further support for our comparison of these two yogas comes from the samadhi ritual of the Mahavairocana Sutra where it is said:
"If any sentient being meets this doctrine,
And practices it diligently day and night,
In this lifetime that person will attain the stage of joy,
And after sixteen lives will be Fully Enlightened."
The Eastern tradition makes a mistake: it says that if you visualize the sixteen bodhisattvas in the vajradhatu, then on the principle of one bodhisattva meditation to one life, when all sixteen are perfectly accomplished then comes Full Enlightenment. This is a great mistake.
I just believe the stanza as it stands, and it says quite plainly that the utmost one may expect from these practices in this life is to attain the first stage of the bodhisattva path (paramudita). Then one might ask: practicing this doctrine for sixteen lives without the higher anuttarayoga, would one even then get Full Enlightenment? Any person who has gathered sufficient merits to gain the first stage or more as a bodhisattva will automatically meet with anuttarayoga and would not "get stuck" practicing only the yogatantra. From this we can see that those who state that the yogatantra is the highest are not even persons within the series of sixteen lifetimes.
Mr Chen got up, consulted his watch, saw that it was late, and then sat down again. He said: "We should now add the following:"
I. Additional Talk
In the Eastern tradition of Tantra, garbhadhatu is a base for vajradhatu but he inverted these, making garbhadhatu highest. He also said that the samadhi of Dharma-lotus is the most important, and that the Saddharma Pundarika Sutra (with which it is associated) belongs to the Tantras. This is wrong, for it does not distinguish the esoteric from the exoteric doctrines. This distinction has never been formulated in Tian Tai though it may become clear after reading this book.
The Tian Tai in
therefore state quite plainly that Zhi Yi, the
effective founder-patriarch of Tian Tai in
might also ask: "Is the Eastern tradition alive only in
We prepared to return, for it was now nine o'clock. The flowers looked fresh in their water, and Mr. Chen said that they would still be here when we came again.