Chapter 17: The Guru with the Lotus Throne
|17. The Guru with the Lotus Throne
Written by Sheng-yen Lu
Translated and edited by True Buddha Foundation Translation Team
A disciple of the True Buddha School had displayed symptoms of death, such as the `symptoms of earth sinking into water and fire` [a bodily sensation of pressurization, feeling cold, and feverish heat], and had fallen unconscious. Most call this phenomenon a state of delirium. In general, the duration of this phenomenon differs from person to person:
A person with a good foundation in the practice of meditation would experience a longer period of delirium. A person without meditative cultivation would experience a short duration of delirium, while others may find themselves in the bardo immediately after becoming unconscious.
When this disciple was awakened in the spiritual consciousness, he saw his Guru standing in mid-air, carrying a lotus throne. The Guru said, `Behold Lotus Practitioner, your affinity with this world is over, and you must put everything on earth behind you. You must take advantage of this opportunity and make the decision to ascend the lotus throne, and only then can you reach the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds. You will completely leave all suffering and attain bliss, and will one day be able to benefit sentient beings of countless worlds. I, Living Buddha Lian-sheng, Sheng-yen Lu, am receiving you by the power of my vows, for I vow to help all sentient beings attain the bodhi together, so that they may reach the ultimate realm of perfection.`
This disciple recited, `OM GURU LIAN-SHENG SIDDHI HUM` and ascended the lotus throne. The lotus throne is the nature of wisdom itself, which is inherently empty, formless, and displays the pure reality of true emptiness. This lotus throne is formed of the very light of the Ultimate Reality of the Primordial Buddha Samantabhadra.
However, the lotus practitioner heard the cries of his wife and children:
His wife yelled, `If you go, what about us?` His son shouted, `Daddy! Daddy!` His daughter cried, `Daddy don`t die! Don`t go! Please don`t leave us!` His wife yelled out again, `Can you bear to leave us? What about the debts?`
This lotus practitioner had seated himself on the lotus throne, and was prepared to leave all suffering for bliss. But when he heard the cries, and about the debts that had yet to be cleared, he was shaken, which produced an adverse effect on him. He came down from the lotus throne, and thought to himself about the unfinished business of his debts, and wondered if he had really passed away. He was unsure of his situation.
He even had a vision of his wife and children, friends and relatives, and heard their cries distinctively. At that point, the terrifying spirit forms of Lord Yama and a large number of his ghost guards appeared and were closing in. Seizing a small window of opportunity, I told the lotus practitioner, `Listen Lotus Practitioner! Your time on earth is up. Let go of everything!`
`Lord Yama and his team of ghost guards are here. Please think of your principal deity who watches over you! Quickly recite your dharma protector`s mantra, and keep your mind calm and focused. In all sincerity, ascend the lotus throne! The world is like a dream, and all is illusory, like the reflection of the moon in water. Go now, and reach the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds.`
The lotus practitioner was at a loss: he could not let go because of the cries of his wife and children, and was caught in the web of worldly matters as he thought of them, knowing that his wife was still young, and his children were very young. He thought to himself, if he left his family, how could they possibly survive without him?
I shouted, `The human world may appear real, but everything is constantly changing, and therefore it is not the true reality itself. It is important that you leave immediately!` However, he would not listen. Lord Yama and his ghost guards had arrived at the scene, seized the lotus practitioner, and cuffed his hands and ankles. The lotus practitioner was caught in a bad situation!
I told Lord Yama, `He is my disciple!`
Lord Yama replied, `Your Holiness, the Great Compassionate One. You have come to receive your disciple but he would not ascend the lotus throne. Instead, he has descended from it, and his mind is so affected by the cries from the human world that it no longer remains calm and focused. Therefore, he should be subjected to the six realms of Samsara.`
I turned to the lotus practitioner and said, `Do not linger here. Recite the guru mantra with complete focus!`
He recited, `OM GURU LIAN-SHENG SIDDHI HUM` (it was good that he still remembered this mantra). With this recitation, Lord Yama and the ghost guards disappeared. The light emitted from the lotus throne drew and magnetized the lotus practitioner into the Clear Light, and as they merged, he was reborn in the Pure Land.
Let me honestly share this with you: I cannot deny the fact that it is painful to part in death, for I cannot say for sure that I would not cry when my loved ones die. I would cry when I say farewell to someone while everyone is still alive, let alone the times when I have to say goodbye to someone who dies. But I know that crying is really useless, because the deceased is dead, and no amount of crying will bring back the dead.
I feel that it is okay to cry, but we should not wail and mourn in distress. It is best that we help the deceased remember and think of his root guru, root principal deity and root dharma protector. Even in tears, we should recite the Buddha`s name and mantra; advise the deceased to `Quickly leave the suffering of this Saha world. Follow the Clear Light of the guru, the principal deity, and the dharma protector. Follow Amitabha Buddha, Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva and Mahasthamaprapta Bodhisattva. Follow the Clear Light of the assembly of the Holy sages. This is liberation.`
During this period, the deceased may see his offerings being removed, his favorite shirt being torn, his residence being emptied, or his car being driven by another person. Besides that, he may hear the cries and mourning of his loves ones, and is able to hear their advice. Therefore, it is crucial for us to help the deceased leave happily, and leave behind all the suffering of the human world, instead of simply crying in sorrow.
It is not right to make the deceased unhappy and unwilling to leave. The loved ones should advise the dead, `Lotus Practitioner, everyone dies, and life and death is a certainty, so do not be attached to your broken bodily form. There is no way you can remain on earth even if you could not bear to leave. Go now! Go now! Stop thinking about this world, for it is an endless cycle, and it leaves nothing to be gained and valued. Think of the Triple Jewels and Three Roots! Dedicate your merits quickly:
May all who uphold the name of Amitabha Buddha, be reborn together in the Pure Land of his Western Paradise.
Repaying the Fourfold Generosity from above and aiding those who suffer in the Three Paths below.
Upon seeing the Buddha, may I be liberated from the cycle of birth and death; and may I develop the qualities of the Buddha and thus help free all who suffer.
We will meet again at the Maha Twin Lotus Ponds at the Western Paradise of Ultimate Bliss.`
This truth is vital! Mourning and wailing are of little use! You must advise him to act quickly in reciting the Buddha`s name and mantra, and think of the Triple Jewels!
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