Significance of the Vajra Dharma Seal

Yutang Lin

Vajra Dharma Seal

Upasaka Tan Seong Yeow mastered the carving of Dharma seals, and had carved many Dharma seals as offerings to me. Among those was the round seal of "According to situations but remain changeless; changeless yet in accordance with circumstances" that I had introduced in my book, "Boundless Wisdom and Compassion." That seal inspired me to design imagery to demonstrate Dharma significance; hence I designed the Vajra Dharma Seal and asked him to carve it. Brother Seong Yeow was diligent in his daily Dharma practices. If not because this endeavor could serve as his practice of harmony of the three secrets of mind, body and speech during his leisure and the resulting printouts of the seal could be distributed to Dharma friends who are in correspondences with me, I would not have dared to make such a request.

My design of the Vajra Dharma Seal and its Tantric significance are as follows:

In the boundless space of Dharma Nature a vertically standing five-prong Vajra vividly appeared. Its upper five prongs represent the Five Wisdoms of Buddhas, while its lower five prongs represent the Five Elements of the Dharmadhatu. Wondrous salvation activities arise as the result of employing the Five Wisdoms in guiding the uses of the Five Elements; thus meritorious virtues of Buddhas are demonstrated perfectly.

The round sphere at the center of the Vajra is the Mandala of the Heruka which is a miniature representation of the Dharmadhatu and yet no different from the whole Dharmadhatu; it is also the fundamental sphere of the union of Brightness and Sunyata from which Five Wisdoms and Five Elements arose.

The ground of the Mandala is formed by an eight-petal Lotus; thus signifies relying on the Eight-fold Noble Path to transcend worldly matters, and also relying on the Four Boundless Minds (the four longer petals in the four cardinal directions) to realize the Wisdom of Original Purity. The fundamental notions in Tantra such as Brightness and Sunyata, Vajra and Lotus, and Merits and Wisdom are all included in the symbolism.

The drip of nectar at the center of the Lotus satisfactorily represents three Dharma objects: Essence Drop (White Bodhi), Tummo Flame (Red Bodhi) and Nada (the hairy shape in the final stage of the visualization of returning everything into Sunyata space). Therefore, it could be regarded as the symbolic expression for Bodhicitta.

The Vajra is carved in Yang strokes (strokes formed by carving out the boundaries of their shapes so that their printouts are in ink), the Lotus is carved in Yin strokes (strokes formed by carving their shapes into the seal so that their printouts will remain blank), and the drip of nectar is carved in Yang strokes. The outer layers contain the inner layers, and the three layers all together symbolize the expression describing the perpetual harmony of Tantric Love practices, "Within Yang there is Yin, and within Yin there is Yang."

This seal completely symbolizes both the secret significance of Tantric theories and the main items of Tantric practices; furthermore, its design was based on some inspiration that I had received earlier; therefore, it has blessing power.

While brother Seong Yeow was in his hometown, Penang, Malaysia, he explained to the owner of the seal shop that he used to purchase seal-stones from, that he needed a seal-stone of such a size for carving a Dharma seal. After long deliberation that owner finally relinquished a piece of seal-stone from Shou Shan (Longevity Mountain) of Fu Zhou (Meritorious County). (Thus it may be called a Meritorious Longevity Seal.) This piece was originally intended for the owner's own treasury and aesthetic enjoyment; its texture is very fine and pure, color light green, and tactility as smooth as jade; its top is a fine sculpture of a winding dragon playing its precious ball.

In the beginning he sketched a Vajra with fine details, very neat but seemed crafty, and hence he did not intend to carve it as such. Instead, over rather long period he pondered over the shape in his leisure, and changed countless sketches. Later he saw in a dream a simple and plain shape of Vajra, only then did he finish the final sketch based on that shape.

On September 1st, 1992 brother Seong Yeow began carving the seal with knives, and completed the seal on September 6th. That night before going to bed he made offerings at his altar, and then displayed the seal and its printout on the altar to supplicate for approval, and he earnestly prayed to Guru Chen and Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and protectors such as Heavenly Kings and Dragon Kings, by saying: if there were some impropriety in this seal, I wished for indications through revelation. Consequently, even though he lay in bed for long time he did not feel sleepy at all, and his whole body was hot as fire that he could not fall asleep, so he got up to drink some water to quench the thirst. Then he reexamined the seal carefully, and only then did he find out that the drip of nectar at the center was forgotten to be carved into a hollow shape, and consequently it took the shape of a red Tummo Flame. As soon as the Tummo Flame was carved into a hollow shape, he no longer felt hot as fire, and fell asleep as soon as he reentered the bed. Thus he knew that this seal did contain Dharma power. After completion of the seal each time he examined it he would feel blessing power coming through and himself invigorated.

Brother Seong Yeow was afraid that sending it by mail might cause this Dharma treasure to be lost by mistake, so he mailed me only a printout for appreciation. Until July 23rd, 1993, after I had propagated Dharma in Malaysia for three weeks, when I had returned to Taipei he gave this seal to me in person. In addition, he especially composed a poem in praise of this seal; it is attached here for all to share:

Elder Brother Yutang told me to carve this Dharma seal, and there had been special inspirations. As I had completed the mission as ordered I composed this in respectful praising:

Blooming Lotus with eight petals is by its nature pure,
Bodhicitta holds Tummo, Essence Drop and Sunyata,
Wondrous use of Vajra in Five Wisdoms and Elements,
All supreme Tantric significances are gathered together.
Younger Brother Seong Yeow offering his unskillful work.

In order to share such Dharma joy with all I had especially composed this article. May all that would have an opportunity to see a printout of this seal will be blessed by the extraordinary blessings of Tantric Dharma!

Written in Chinese on July 24, 1993
Taipei, Taiwan
Translated on October 15, 2004

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