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A question was raised by a disciple of Vajrayana on behalf of the candidates attending the Determination by Holy Selection (aka. Zejue):
“I attended the Determination by Holy Selection of the Dharma of Yamantaka Vajra this time. I am grateful to all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and the holy virtuous persons for giving me this opportunity, which enabled me to have the good fortune of seeing the true appearance of Yamantaka Vajra in my current lifetime. However, we just cannot understand the fact that among the 27 candidates attending the Determination by Holy Selection, only two successfully practiced the Dharma of Yamantaka Vajra and manifested the true appearance of Yamantaka Vajra. The other 25 of us all have been practicing the Dharma of Yamantaka Vajra and made diligent efforts for several decades. We practiced in accord with the Dharma and took the red-white Bodhi nectar pills to sustain the affinity with the Dharma. We have never had a hiatus, but so few of us received benefits. In particular, there are practitioners whose ages are between 70 and 80 or close to 100. There is a respected virtuous person who has established the merit of expounding and explaining the sutras and commentaries to broadly benefit many people. For several decades, he gave discourses to people on the Lamrim Chenmo (The Great Treatise On The Stages Of The Path To Enlightenment), the Treatise on the Middle Way, the Abhidharma-Kosa Treatise, the Prajna Treatise, and the Treatise on the Mahayana Liberation Path. He basically practices at least one session of the ritual of the Dharma of Yamantaka Vajra every day. With such merit and practice, he still could not manifest the Vajra state.”
“Speaking of lineage, my dharma lineage is the authentic lineage of Tibetan Buddhism from Master Tsongkhapa. I received the initiation and dharma transmission from the same master and in the same mandala as Master Panchen of the last generation. Master Panchen already successfully attained the state of accomplishment with non-decayed flesh, but I cannot see any benefit in myself. Why? Where do I not accord with teachings or correspond to the Dharma? Where am I wrong? We beseech the holy virtuous persons to give us practitioners a discourse and empower us. Please apply loving-kindness and compassion to us.”
Before replying to your question, we would like to give a brief introduction. Your question is both important and is a matter of principle. To broadly benefit Buddhists, a recorded Dharma discourse should have been produced, but WBAH does not have any holy virtuous person who has the qualification to give a recorded Dharma discourse.
Wangzha Shangzun said, “As a humbled monk of Gold Button Level 3, how can I be qualified to give a Dharma discourse? People in the world have such a description, ‘A person not possessing a mental strategy and a physical capacity is a common person, not a talented person.’ Within Buddhism, a person unable to present the Three Vajra Pestles in terms of physical capacity or not possessing the holy wisdom of the Five Vidyas in terms of mental strategy is not qualified to give discourses on the Tripitaka or the Tantrics. Although I have the physical capacity to present the pestles, my mental intelligence is scant with a smattering of Five Vidyas up to 20 or 30%. Presenting a petition to a Bodhisattva is like a high mountain for me to look up, and I have no confidence that I can accomplish that. Being so inferior and incomplete, how dare I speak of the way or talk about the Dharma in an audio recording for the world?”
However, since you are seeking the way on behalf of many people, we at the World Buddhism Association Headquarters had no choice but to beseech our beneficent Buddha Master. But our beneficent Master, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, does not agree to make an audio recording to speak for us. The reason is that His Holiness the Buddha has unfavorable opinions toward Tantric Buddhism as well as the many deeds of some masters from Tantric Buddhism. Thus, we could only reply to the question raised by way of an announcement. We are willing to bear this extremely big responsibility on causality because led by Wangzha Shangzun, what we jointly researched, studied, and now expound are the meaning and the principles of the correct cultivation and the correct Buddha-dharma. We would also like to inform everyone that the Determination by Holy Selection is not limited to Vajrayana and can be equally applied to the conduct of Bodhisattvas, Arhatship, and so on.
Actually, we the members of the Holy Gurus are not in a position to give a discourse to all of you who are great virtuous ones of Vajrayana. Since the question has been raised, we just tell you truthfully based on the meaning of the Dharma that we know.
Speaking of Buddhism, the first thing to know is that there are four parts: 1) precepts; 2) cultivation; 3) dharma practice; and 4) the study of Buddhism. Precepts are inseparable from cultivation and dharma practice. The study of Buddhism is theoretical knowledge, including the studies of the commentaries and so on. The study of Buddhism is independent and has no relationship to Buddha-Dharma at all. Nonetheless, Studying Buddhism can broaden one’s views, knowledge, and understanding and is related to worldly Buddha-dharma. When we say it has no relationship to Buddha Dharma, we mean the Holy Buddha Dharma. This is because a Yidam does not respond to requests related to the study of Buddhism.
What you asked about is a Vajra Dharma. Vajra Dharmas are related to the Vajra Division of the Supreme Yoga Division in Tibetan Tantras. The Vajra Division separately exists in Nyingma, Kagyu, Gelug, Sakya, Jonang, Tang Esoteric, Eastern Esoteric, and other sects. Each sect has Vajras specific to the sect, such as White Peace and Joy Master Vajra, Lion Vajra, Kalachakra Vajra, Ucchusma Vajra, Yamantaka Vajra, Chakrasamvara Vajra, Hevajra, Vajrakilaya, Mahakala Luga, Mahakala, and others. Moreover, each Vajra Dharma can have different ways of practice. Take, for example, the Dharma of Yamantaka Vajra in the Determination by Holy Selection performed this time, there are the Single-Zun, the Double-Zun, the Four-faced Eight-armed, the Nine-headed Vajrabhairava, and so on.
The above-mentioned Vajra Dharmas all have been performed successfully by ancient virtuous persons and patriarchs. Yet, many people did not receive benefits after practicing the Dharmas for an entire lifetime. The main key is whether the disciple obtained a genuine transmission at the time of receiving it. Especially, whether the master transmitting the Dharma has received a true transmission or not.
In terms of transmitting and receiving dharmas, an extraordinarily important principle is there are two major types, and they are transmitted through the master-transmission lineage, which is a worldly transmission, and dharma transmitted directly by the Yidam, which is a holy transmission. Simply stated, the master-transmission involves exoteric-tantric initiations, that is, oral inner-tantric transmissions, and there is no real manifestation. On the other hand, Dharma transmitted by the Yidam is a holy inner-tantric initiation where a holy state is manifest right there and then. For instance, when the Dharma of Determination by Holy Selection was performed this time, the holy state of the Yidam Yamantaka Vajra was manifest in reality. What is meant by the Yidam is the holy being in charge of each Dharma. For example, Kalachakra Vajra is the Yidam of the Dharma of Kalachakra Vajra. Yidam is absolutely not a human such as the master.
You can ask people who cultivate within the scope of Tibetan esoteric Buddhism. In Tibet, Qinghai, Mongolia, India, and other regions, the total number of people among followers of Tibetan esoteric Buddhism who practice Vajra Dharmas exceeds one million. When a dharma king or rinpoche holds an initiation ceremony to transmit dharma, the number of attendees easily ranges from several dozens to several thousand. However, in the end, how many have practiced it successfully to attain accomplishment? Almost none. Including the dharma kings, rinpoches, khenpos, geshes, and masters who sit on the dharma dais transmitting the dharma to you, it is very difficult to see any of them truly attaining accomplishment by practicing it, let alone you disciples. You can forget about successfully practice it to manifest the real form of a vajra. You are far from touching the shadow of a Bodhisattva!
Sakyamuni Buddha stipulated that the accomplishment of a Bodhisattva can be seen through the five vidyas. Which one among you truly possesses the five vidyas? Where can your five vidyas be seen? Also, where are the five vidyas of the masters who transmit the dharma to you? Without any ability in the vidyas, where can the Vajra wisdom be manifest? How can the standards of a Bodhisattva stipulated in Buddhist sutras be met? Such masters only have fake five vidyas that are commonplace.
Sakyamuni Buddha also said that one who does not possess the five vidyas should possess holy power. Do those masters have such holy power? Can they present the three pestles? They cannot present even the first pestle, which is the most basic. How can a weak physical body have any holiness? How many vidyas do they possess? Simply speaking, one who is unable to present the three pestles or does not possess the five vidyas is only a master of ordinary quality, no matter how high his status may be.
The minimum requirement is verification by the holy exam. If not verified by the holy exam, it is a master-transmitted lineage and not a transmission by the Yidam; it is an oral inner-tantric initiation and not a true inner-tantric initiation, much less a holy inner-tantric initiation! Check yourself. Which type does the dharma you learned belong to?
Only when you receive a holy inner-tantric initiation, an initiation that is directly transmitted by the Yidam, the Yidam who is a Vajra Bodhisattva will immediately appear before you and accept the petition by a heart disciple from you. That involves something tangible, something that can be looked and felt rather than just a concept on the spiritual level or some hollow theory possessing only thoughts and feelings without any actual material matter. The so-called Yidam being manifest in reality is totally different from the dharma of Empowerment by Avalokitesvara’s Great Compassion. It is not an illusory phenomenon generated from a contemplative visualization but a real and lively entity that you can see with eyes wide open, just like what happened in the Determination by Holy Selection by Yamantaka Vajra this time. It is also like when the Vajra Maternal Buddha appeared in the sky and ignited the fire in the fire-offering caldron in the Holy Fire-offering Dharma Assembly held on September 19, 2018.
According to what you said, 25 of the 27 attendees received an inner-tantric initiation at the time of learning the dharma. That should be the orally-transmitted inner-tantric initiation commonly used in the Tibetan esoteric Buddhism which is in fact not truly inner-tantric. Among the two holy virtuous ones whose determination by holy selection manifest true form this time, one practices the “Yamantaga Yidam” and the other practices the “Duhsiong Nengbu Yidam.” Both of them received a holy inner-tantric initiation transmitted directly by the Yidam at the time of learning the Dharma. The Dharma transmitted directly by the Yidam stipulates the different numbers of practices for the practitioner to attain the different stages of Bodhisattva. It is that simple. It is not something that can be replaced by your studying a commentary or a treatise, no matter what that is.
Additionally, mind you that if you say you have received an inner-tantric initiation in Tibetan esoteric Buddhism, then did you take or still keep a live Yamantaka Vajra Pill that can change its size and height in your hand? If not, then the initiation is no doubt the oral inner-tantric in the Tibetan lineage. If yes, then the initiation is truly inner-tantric in Tibetan esoteric Buddhism. Though not a holy inner-tantric initiation transmitted by the Yidam, such an initiation is still at a rather high level. If you practice it in accordance with the Dharma, you will definitely become accomplished.
Yinhai Shengzun and Gar Tongstan Rinpoche separately manifest world-astounding accomplishments, preciously because They had received holy inner-tantric initiations transmitted by the Yidam. Although Yinhai Shengzun went to the Buddha-land having attained great accomplishment, at the place where the Shengzun’s revered body was worshiped inside the Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva Hall in the Holy Miracles Temple, a great holy miracle is manifesting itself now! Placed for worship at where His revered body once lied, His photo is for the respectful viewing by the public. Everyone can see the awe-inspiring holiness that not even science can explain. Such is a manifestation of the magnificent supreme Buddha-Dharma and not what anyone can achieve with worldly Buddha-dharma.
Additionally, regardless of whether you learned the Dharma in a worldly way or a holy way, it also depends on which type of the Dharma you learned. Some dharmas require 90% in cultivation and 10% in dharma practice, while some others may require 80% in cultivation and 20% in dharma practice. Some may require the practitioner to study the sutras and commentaries at the same time, but some others may not have this requirement at all. For example, Patriarch Milarepa did not emphasize the study of the sutras and commentaries because he had received a holy inner-tantric initiation transmitted by the Yidam. Fast or slow, easy or difficult, there exist big differences in learning the Dharma to attain accomplishment. As long as a holy dharma practice is transmitted to you by a Buddha or a Maha Bodhisattva (a Bodhisattva of Equal or Marvelous Enlightenment) based on your conduct of kindness and merit of protecting the Dharma, you can easily practice it to manifest the real form of the Yidam with no effort at all. Liberation from the cycle of birth and death can be attained as easily as snapping a finger. Even if you are unable to receive a holy inner-tantric initiation, at the minimum if you can receive an inner-tantric initiation of the Tibetan tradition, you will still definitely attain accomplishment. But can you really? What is your qualification? Are you truly sincere and pious? What Buddhist work have you done that can move the holy beings to transmit the supreme dharma to you directly by the Yidam, or to confer you with a true inner-tantric initiation?
Meanwhile, you should also understand that no matter how difficult to get a Dharma is, there exists no obstacle before a truly sincere person. Even if you do not have the qualification to receive an initiation directly transmitted by the Yidam now, you should have the persistent determination to strive for a true inner-tantric initiation of esoteric Buddhism. Just as what the Buddha said, “Dharma gates are countless and you should vow to learn them all; afflictions are endless and you should vow to cut them all off.” Even if you temporarily cannot receive a true inner-tantric initiation, you should see clearly that we are all extremely fortunate persons in countless eons with our current karmic conditions. We have the affinity to encounter His Holiness the Buddha who transmits Buddha-Dharma to us in person in this lifetime; we are learning from the Dharma jewels of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III—the teachings in the utmost precious recorded Dharma discourses that possess special empowerment in themselves. As long as Buddhists follow the teachings and practice in accord with the Dharma, they will naturally attain accomplishment. Not any master who is reincarnated from a Bodhisattva or Arhat can come close.
We also inform everyone that the Headquarters has decided to hold a Determination by Holy Selection on practitioners of the Kalachakra Vajra Dharma within the January-February time frame of 2019. Similar to the manifestation of the real form of the Vajra during the Determination by Holy Selection of the Yamantaka Vajra in this month, and the manifestation of Vajra Maternal Buddha in the sky applying mighty holy power to ignite the fire cauldron with a flame emitted between Her eyebrows, which was seen by the attending congregation during the Holy Fire-Offering Dharma Assembly in September last year, attendees and practitioners will all be able to see the Yidam manifesting Himself with their own eyes. Between March and May, there will be an Uncovering of Terma With Direct Verification. After that, there will be dharma assemblies of Determination by Holy Selection for practitioners of the Vajra Division, the Lotus Division, the Karma Division, and the Yoga Division. The specific dates will be scheduled. We hereby provide this information to all of you.
World Buddhism Association Headquarters
January 14, 2019
(Original English translation by Benxin, edited by Zunba 2019-03-10)