Buddhist Meditation
Systematic and Practical

CW35
Chapter XII
MEDITATION IN THE LOWER THREE TA***AS OF THE EASTERN VAJRAYANA TRADITION

A Talk by the Buddhist Yogi
C. M. CHEN

Written Down by
REVEREND B. KANTIPALO

First Published in 1967


HOMAGE TO THE THREE GREAT YOGIS SUBHAKARASIMHA, VAJRABODHI, AND AMOGHAVAJRA, TO ALL THE BUDDHAS AND BODHISATTVAS OF THE TWO GREAT MANDALAS AND TO ALL THE TA***IC DOCTRINES IN THE IRON TOWER

 

Chapter XII

 

MEDITATION IN THE LOWER THREE TA***AS OF THE EASTERN VAJRAYANA TRADITION

 

In the garden of the Vihara, pink and white chrysanthemums were blooming, and in our shrine there were already two large vases of them. Before starting out for Mr. Chen, the writer thought that they should also be offered at his shrine. So he searched out the most lovely, fragrant heads.

 

After greeting Mr. Chen, we presented them to him, and he was very pleased. "It is very auspicious that you have brought these at the beginning of our Vajrayana section," he said, and, bustling about, he fetched vase and water so that they adorned the table during our meeting.

 

Mr. Chen began his talk with a note on the chapter title and followed this with the dedication. He said:

 

First, what do we mean by the Eastern tradition? It seems a very new term, but roughly speaking, there is in Buddhadharma a sort of cross: the exoteric schools are in the North and the South, while the esoteric are to be found in the East (China, Japan) and the West (Tibet). In China only a few learned the Tantra at the time of its introduction during the Tang dynasty, and if it had not been transmitted to Japan , this tradition would have ceased. If one wants to learn it in Japan there are very learned gurus there, but the main sutras (Mahavairocana Sutra, Vajrasekhara Sutra, and the Susiddhikara Sutra) and sastras are preserved in the Chinese Tripitaka and only a few new commentaries were added by the Japanese.

 

A. Our Homage

 

The teaching of the three great Tantric sages honored here was very important in the history of Chinese Buddhism, and although it was never widely disseminated, they themselves achieved great success in the yogatantra practice. We should give our reverence to them.

 

The doctrine they imparted to a few disciples, which came down to them from the Buddha's Enlightenment, was the highest teaching of the third yoga. To the three main sutras of the Yogatantra, we should therefore also pay respect. From these sutras are derived the teachings of the mandalas of the vajradhatu and garbhadhatu, and within them are the Buddha Vairocana and all the great bodhisattvas; to them all we should make our homage well.

 

On the last part of our dedication there are two theories. Some say that the Iron Tower (or Pagoda) is real, while others deny this and aver that it is a symbol of the Dharmakaya. The story is told of Nagarjuna who opened the door of this tower by throwing at it seven seeds of mustard. Inside, he saw Vajrapani Bodhisattva guarding the Tantric treasures. (A pagoda is always a symbol of the Dharmakaya.)

 

Mr. Chen then turned to Bhante and asked him, "You have been in South India . Have you investigated this story? Some people say that it is a real tower. Did you see it?"

 

The listener replied that he had not been to the precise area where this tower is supposed to stand according to the texts. "But many people say that in the southern mountains live ancient sages whom nobody sees. I met one such Tantric, a very aged man, and by local memory at least five or six hundred years old."

 

Mr. Chen nodded his head saying "Anyway, such is the tradition of the Iron Tower . We should have faith in it." Then turning round in his seat he regarded the flower offering. "Tonight it is a good sign that you have brought these flowers. This kind of flower lasts a long time, fighting against the winter's damp cold. Like the vajra it is not destroyed by these hard conditions. It comes in many colorslike a rainbow (a symbol of the wisdom-light) and has a special smell which is very good."

 

"In the Vajrayana, flowers generally are a symbol of the female Buddha and therefore a sign of Wisdom. In the vajradhatu there are two foundations: one is purification represented by the lotus flower, and the other is sunyata or voidness, the sign of which is the vajra. These flowers, symbolic of both foundations, have just come in time, and for them I give you thanks."

 

B. Why Do We Not Speak Directly About the Meditations of Tibetan Tantra?

 

1. Need for the Lower Tantras

 

In Tibet , the Tantras contain all four yogas, and the three lower ones with which we are concerned here are included. In Tsong-khapa's Ngag-rim (a great guidebook to the whole system of the Vajrayana), many chapters deal with the first three Tantras. Also, in the Tibetan Tripitaka, all the sutras and all the sastras on the subject are to be found translated there. The two great mandalas of the Eastern tradition are also included. Nothing is left out, the Tibetan translations containing all the material found in the Chinese.

 

The trouble is that the Tibetans lay the most stress on the highest section of the Tantrasanuttarayoga—and claim that there is no need for the lower Tantras. It is rather the same as in our system of three-yanas-in-one. A person new to Buddhadharma might, lacking good advice, directly take up the Vajrayana, and would in his study no doubt learn something about the Mahayana, and even of Hinayana, but because of his bias toward the Tantra, he or she would really neglect the other two yanas. So it is here, and an immediate study of anuttarayoga may very well lead to the other Tantras being neglected. Thus, we deal with the Eastern tradition to make clear to the reader that this is also important. Without understanding this, it will be difficult to see both Eastern and Western Vajrayana traditions in their proper perspective.

 

2. As a Foundation

 

All the ancient sages of Tibet , who wrote Tantric books and ritual instructions, have in their work well arranged the lower three Tantras. It is their disciples who have not paid attention to them. Our readers, however, should be able to practice them as a foundation for the highest Tantric study of Tibet .

 

In Tibet at the present time, these three are just practiced according to book instructions and the rituals mentioned there. Since the meditations connected with them (particularly with yogatantra) are not practiced, many students of the Tantra have great difficulty in even pointing out the material included in annuttayoga that derived from these three. Hence, the foundation of anuttarayoga is not well established. If we deal separately with these three, then this matter will become clear to readers and they will form a good foundation for the highest yoga.

 

3. Philosophic Background

 

The philosophic background of the Tantra is quite different from that of the Mahayana. In the latter, the causation in the universe is based on tathata (thatness, suchness) and thus exoteric. But when we come to the Tantra, causation is by the six elements (see Appendix I, Part Two, A, 5), and esoteric by nature. In each yana we see that the causation theory is different: In Hinayana where every action has its result, the world of the present is based upon past karma. Such is a theory of causation by karma only. In the Mahayana, the world's basis is suchness or sunyata; but this concept is biased too much towards the purely mental and lacks consideration of the material side. Therefore, in the Vajrayana, we find the six elements, or enlightenment causation.

 

Even though this philosophy is included in the anuttarayoga of Tibet , still it is never practiced as a basis for these higher teachings. If one asks many Tibetan Tantric teachers to explain about causation, they will still talk of tathata and say that everything is mind-only. Why? Because they have no experience in the six-element yoga. Therefore, I have chosen some points which the Eastern tradition emphasizes, but which are neglected in Tibet , where only the highest and most scholarly lamas are able correctly to investigate the meaning of the lower yogas. I want it to be otherwise with our readers. They should not think that six-element yoga is not included in the Tibetan Tantric works. It is, but it is not specially practiced.

 

First, one should recognize the importance of this philosophy and practice it, after which one may better understand the anuttarayoga.

 

4. The Five Signs

 

Every Tibetan ritual includes the five signs of a Buddha-body, but they are just verbally repeated by present-day Tantric students. They do not give a long time to their practices and so do not get at their profound meaning, valuable for the comprehension of anuttarayoga. If one has not practiced this Japanese yoga, but reading over the Tibetan yoga ritual passes by it, then through lack of basic practice, one's body does not correspond to a Buddha's body. Without this, one still tries to practice the third initiation meditations: the result we see in bad lamas who are married and making merry! All this comes from skipping over the preliminary practices wanting to get a dakini too quickly. It is very dangerous.

 

C. Common and Special Preparations for Tantric Practice

 

1. Common Preparations

 

The guru is a very important condition, and first it is necessary to have one. Vajrayana is not like the Hinayana and Mahayana, where the Dharma is more important than the teacher (although in these yanas also, personal instruction has a very high place; see Appendix I, Part Two, C, 12). In esoteric Buddhism, one relies on a guru, not only upon Dharma—the guru is essential in the Vajrayana. In the other yanas, one may have a Buddha-image and, if one does not want the ordinations of bhiksu (upasampada) or bodhisattva (bodhisattva samvara sila) one may consider the image as one's guru. This is impossible in the Vajrayana, where personal instruction and initiation are required.

 

There is a poem of fifty stanzas to teach students how to serve their guru. The rules governing the relationship between the teacher and pupil are naturally more significant here than in Hinayana or Mahayana. In exoteric Buddhism, after obtaining instruction from a teacher, one may leave, but in the Vajrayana, a student should never leave his guru without his permission.

 

Bhante noted here that there is nissaya in the Vinaya whereby student bhiksus should not leave their teacher unless they have asked his permission. But, he said, this is mostly only a formality these days.

 

The Vajrayana also has its special precepts, among which is the resolve to develop the bodhicitta so as to gain full enlightenment in this life (see Ch. XIII, Part One, B, 7). Of course, in the Mahayana, bodhicitta is also important, but there it is to save all beings first, concern for one's own progress being put in the background. In Vajrayana one first vows to get sambodhi and then ultimately save all beings. The Tantras sometimes criticize exoteric Buddhism, for they say that the bodhisattvas of the lower stages have no real power to save others; they just help others to enter the Buddha's gate.

 

2. Special Conditions for the Practice of the Lower Tantras

 

a. When one enters this gate, through the lower Tantra, one should practice eighteen methods of service (kriya) to the Buddha:

 

i. To purify the three karmas (of body, speech, and mind). Then, concerning the three lineages:

ii. With the bliss of the Tathagata-lineage, to purify the body.

iii. With the bliss of the Lotus-Buddha lineage, to purify the speech.

iv. With the bliss of the Vajra-Buddha lineage, to purify the mind.

v. To wear the Dharma-armor.

vi. To resolve to practice only within a specially demarcated area.

vii. To make a visualized "Vajra-wall" around this area.

viii. To visualize the shrine of the Buddha.

ix. To make offerings to all gods who are protectors.

x. To send a carriage to welcome the Buddha.

xi. To request the Buddha to sit in this carriage.

xii. To welcome the Buddha.

xiii. To ask an enlightened king (Vidyaraja: wrathful manifestations and messengers of Vairocana) to subdue demons.

xiv. Make a vajra-net.

xv. Construct a vajra fire-palace.

xvi. To offer fragrant water.

xvii. To offer flowers.

xviii. To offer everything to all the Buddhas.

 

b. To practice also the six noble methods:

 

i. The noble method of reality;

ii. The noble method of voice;

iii. The noble method of word;

iv. The noble method of color;

v. The noble method of seal; and

vi. The noble method of form.

 

These six all concern practices of repeating a mantra and using a mudra (ritual gesture). Both the eighteen and the six are practices belonging to the Kriyatantra. The following pertains to the Tantra of conduct—Caryatantra:

 

c. There are four branches of repeating a mantra: all of them are foundations for the third Tantra. If one wishes to learn them, many books may be read on this subject in China and Japan and in the Chinese canon.

 

D. Reasons Why There Are Many Preparations for the Third Tantra

 

Two Tantras have been quickly dealt with but the main meditations lie in the yogatantra. The reasons for these preparations are:

 

1. Demons

 

As the power of the Dharma has become great (in the Tantras), so demon power is also great. Great and powerful demons will come to the meditator, so it is necessary that one is able to defend himself or herself against them and subdue all the obstacles they create. For this, many mudra and mantra should be practiced.

 

How is it that these two practices can have so much power? The ten fingers (although very small) have many correspondences with spiritual power. The five wisdoms and the five elements, for instance, all have positions of the fingers which correspond with them. Thus the meaning of the mudras has good connection with the philosophy of sunyata and the functions of Buddhahood.

 

Then Mr Chen gave a simile about the body in the three yanas. He said:

 

The purification of Hinayana is like the health of the body, a foundation for its existence. The sublimation process in the Mahayana is like the center of the body, the heart from which the blood circulates. The Vajrayana is like the various functions of the body out to which the blood flows. Function in the fingers reaches its utmost extremity. Just as it is no good having a body which functions only at one point, so in Vajrayana the function of salvation must be exercised at all points, for this function is Buddhahood. Thus mudra is so powerful.

 

Now what of mantra? Why is it so powerful? In ordinary speech every word has its meaning, so in the mystic alphabet (arapacana) of forty Sanskrit letters (see Appendix III, B, 3), every one of these possesses some correspondence to sunyata meaning. Even though this alphabet is Brahmanical in its origin, the Buddha has given each sound a special meaning connected with sunyata and therefore each has a specific function.

 

Raise any finger, utter any sound, and, connected with the entity of the truth, these are very powerful. Where they are found in Buddhism, they are quite unique. Also they are quite different from the magic of outsiders.

 

Mr Chen said, "Look!" Raising one finger with deliberation he told us:

 

One finger like this may cause enlightenment. One voice also may give enlightenment, like this: "hi!"

 

And the yogi uttered an abrupt and penetrating noise which at the right time and place might surely shake one into an Enlightened state. He continued:

 

One word can send a ghost to the Pure Land . One laugh of our mother Tara as she sat in Sarvarthasiddha Bodhisattva's head-dress before his Enlightenment, and all demons were subdued for him.

 

Meanings and Correspondences of the Palms and Fingers

Right palm

Samatha

Sun

Left palm

Samapatti

Moon

 

Corresponding fingers (Both Hands Have the Same Meaning)

Small

Earth

Faith (sraddha)

A

Ring

Water

Diligence (virya)

Vi

Middle

Fire

Mindfulness (smrti)

La (Ram in Sanskrit)

Fore

Air

Tranquility (samatha)

Hum

Thumb

Space

Wisdom (prajna)

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 Pure Land )—all this to enable the many necessary things to be done.

 

3. Service

 

Because the Buddhas and the mandala are treated as the Pure Land , one's service to the Buddhas and one's offerings must be increased. For the Vajrayanist the Pure Land is here, not a paradise after death, and temples are not necessarily external but internally seen by visualization, that very place in which a Tantrika lives is his temple. (For this reason, the Tantra should always be made in a hermitage where one can study diligently and practice the detailed and elaborate visualizations in peace.)

 

4. Devas

 

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.

 

5. Purification

 

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 ocean of Dharma . Our body stands on the earth, and within the body the earth-element is lowest. Thus the second visualization is to establish that our surroundings are also formed from the five elements. It is like the planet we live on: the gross earth may be covered with water, then comes heat (fire-element), and after that air, then space and so on, from gross to subtle.

 

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.

 

H. Realization

 

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.

 

However, the 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 school of Japan ) whose body remains undecayed and must be shaved every month as though alive. They are very proud of this "miraculous" circumstance but it is not a good sign. This is taking the shadow for the real thing.

 

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.

 

It is believed in Tibet that without anuttarayoga there is no possibility of Full Enlightenment.

 

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 Japan , there are two schools, the Eastern Tantra (Shingon shu), and the eclectic school dealt with in the last chapter, Tendai shu (Tian Tai), both of them using Tantric methods for Enlightenment. The founder of the latter came to China to learn the Tantric tradition but he also studied Tian Tai and Chan. Elements of all three schools he gathered into one (so that Tendai of Japan is not the same as, though partly derived from, Tian Tai of China). He did, however, lay more stress upon the Tian Tai doctrines.

 

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 China established three philosophic truths about each dharma and each could be viewed from these three different viewpoints: the Real (sunyata), the false (the name given to illusory events), and the Middle Way (the mean), these three expressing the harmonious triple truth of every phenomenon. For scholarly study, this teaching is very exact but it is not so helpful for practice. Even two divisions (of condition—fullness; and nature—voidness) are not really desirable but are a convenient method for preaching and for the ordinary way of talking. For three divisions there is no need at all. For practice, the non-dualistic position adopted, for instance, by the Old Schools of Tibet is much preferable.

 

One must therefore state quite plainly that Zhi Yi, the effective founder-patriarch of Tian Tai in China , never learned the Tantra and that the Dharma-lotus Samadhi is a meditation of the Mahayana.

 

The reader might also ask: "Is the Eastern tradition alive only in Japan now?" The answer is "no." In the last hundred years, one upasaka got the tradition from Japan and brought it back to China and then introduced many books from Japan . He had many disciples and one of these, Mr. Feng, Da An, was one of my gurus. His knowledge was even more profound and wide than his teachers. Others also have re-established yogatantra in China , such as the venerable Bhiksu Chi Song.

 

In Japan this entire tradition was preserved; to all who have kept it safe and transmitted it to the present day, we should be very thankful.

 

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.

 

 


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