Pilgrimage Luncheon of Professor Richard Gombrich of Oxford University
|【TBS News by Master Lianhua Huijun】
At noon on April 21 2019, Prof. Richard Gombrich from Oxford University, UK, accompanied by Prof. Yao Yushuang from Fo Guang University, attended a luncheon with HH Living Buddha Lian-sheng Sheng-yen Lu. Academician Zhu Shiyi, Prof. Wang Li, and Master Lianwei of Taiwan Lei Tsang Temple along with her team of photographers, also attended the event. The meeting was facilitated by the tireless efforts of Dharma Sister Wei Ning.
Prof. Yao began by praising the homa ceremony at Taiwan Lei Tsang Temple for its grand scale and large attendance. Later, Prof. Yao learned that during Grandmaster's six month stay in Taiwan, he has presided over fire offering ceremonies at Taiwan Lei Tsang Temple every Saturday and that there are always more than 10,000 attendees at these ceremonies.
After lunch, Prof. Gombrich interviewed Grandmaster. Prof. Yao and Dharma Sister Hanifa provided simultaneous translation.
Prof. Gombrich first expressed his hope that as a result of this important moment and opportunity, the door of the True Buddha School (TBS) will be further opened and the school will become even more widely known.
Prof. Gombrich asked Grandmaster what precipitated his journey on the path of Buddhism.
Grandmaster said that he was originally a member of the Presbyterian Church. At age 26, when he was in a Taoist temple with his mother, a psychic medium suddenly called out his name. The medium told Grandmaster that she had a message for him from heaven: ''Buddhas and bodhisattvas hope you will undertake the mission of saving sentient beings!''
At the time, Grandmaster thought to himself, ''I am a Christian. How can I save sentient beings?'' However, after Grandmaster knelt down per the medium's request, Grandmaster's body began moving by itself and he was able to perceive an abundance of radiant light. He saw Jade Pond Golden Mother, Amitabha Buddha, and Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva. He also saw the Jade Emperor who bestowed on him the Chinese characters for Loyalty & Righteousness. At the same time, Amitabha Buddha bestowed ''Learn Buddhism wholeheartedly'', Ksitigarbha bestowed ''Learn Buddhadharma wholeheartedly'', and Golden Mother of the Jade Pond bestowed ''Be virtuous wholeheartedly.''
Grandmaster also recalled an occasion when an Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva statue enshrined by his neighbor across the street came to Grandmaster's residence on its own accord. These events are all true.
Prof. Gombrich remarked that Grandmaster began his journey on the path of Buddhism with these experiences of extraordinary spiritual responses. He then asked how TBS became of such importance to Buddhism.
Grandmaster recalled that he attended discourses on the Mahasthamaprapta Buddha Yuantong Chapter given by layman Li Pingnan, and that Venerable Yin Shun, a master in the Sutrayana school, was the first Buddhist master he took refuge in. Later, Venerable Liaoming taught Grandmaster the Dharma of the Nyingma Sect of Tibetan Buddhism... (indicating that even after Grandmaster's spiritual revelation in the temple, it was still necessary for him to learn from masters in the human world.) Venerable Yin Shun gave Grandmaster the following important words, ''Everything in this world is without self-nature.'' Grandmaster was ordained by a disciple of the Linji School.
Grandmaster went on to say that whether the key cultivation formulas of Vajrayana can be openly revealed or not depends on whether the formulas concern common or uncommon practices. Moreover, different disciples have different capacities. Even so, there are presently some who reveal these secret cultivation formulas in writing as soon as they hear them.
Prof. Gombrich inquired as to whether one was required to have a good foundation in the sutras prior to enlightenment. He also asked whether TBS bestowed Bodhisattvas Precepts.
Grandmaster replied that the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra is a long sutra with extensive content. The Diamond Sutra is medium size sutra which extracts the essential meaning of the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra, whereas the Heart Sutra is a short sutra which is a condensed version of the Diamond Sutra. However, one should not take the Heart Sutra lightly just because it is condensed because the Heart Sutra reveals the essence of the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra and Diamond Sutra.
The Bodhisattvas Precepts are included in the three precept platforms of TBS. Grandmaster, however, started on the Buddhist path with spiritual communication and later validated all the Buddhist teachings through personal experience. Grandmaster stated that he cultivates qi, channels, and light drops. Just by a thought of a deity arising in his mind, Grandmaster can instantly communicate with the deity.
In the future, when Grandmaster leaves this world, he will be able to accomplish his departure by causing his Buddha-nature to ascend from his heart chakra and exit his body through his crown aperture. (Grandmaster showed Prof. Gombrich the opening in his crown aperture.)
Grandmaster continued on to say that practitioners are prone to attain enlightenment in theory only. Therefore, after attainment of enlightenment, a practitioner must continue practicing until achievement of full liberation. The Heart Sutra concerns the principle of ''nothing to be gained''. It is because of ''unattainability'' that one is able to sever one's afflictions.
Prof. Gombrich asked Grandmaster to further comment on one who has been enlightened but has not achieved liberation.
Grandmaster replied that it is not sufficient to achieve enlightenment in theory only. One must continue practicing until one achieves full liberation. Those who are enlightened know that there is ''nothing to be gained'' and that the mind of the past, present, and future is not attainable. Both the Diamond Sutra and Heart Sutra are about this ''mind that cannot be attained.'' By realizing ''nothing to be gained'' and ''unattainability of mind'', one can sever self-grasping and eradicate one's afflictions. In other words, by validating ''nothing to be gained'' one will be liberated from one's afflictions. This means that after ''enlightenment in theory'', one must further validate one's attainment through actual practice.
Grandmaster said that one may understand ''unattainability'' in the theoretical sense, but still pursue lustful desires and fight for status and wealth in the mundane world. One who behaves in this way, however, will not attain liberation. After one attains true enlightenment, one will thoroughly understand that one can be fully enlightened while still living in the mundane world .
According to Grandmaster, cultivation of qi, channels and light drops is also extremely important because this is how one actually realizes the teaching of the Buddha.
The interview could have gone on much longer. The VIPs and guests were all deeply moved by Grandmaster's heartfelt answers that held nothing back. At the end of the luncheon, the VIPs, guests, and attendees all paid homage to Grandmaster and asked Grandmaster to lay his hand on their crown for a blessing. A group picture perfectly and auspiciously concluded the occasion!
The honored guest from the UK, Prof. Richard Gombrich, is the Founder-President of the Oxford Centre for Buddhist Studies and former President of the Pali Text Society.
Prior to the Amoghapasa Homa Ceremony, Prof. Gombrich and Prof. Yao Yushuang from the Department of Religious Studies of Fo Guang University, Taiwan, gave speeches on stage. Earlier, Prof. Gombrich and Prof. Yao were given an introduction to Taiwan Lei Tsang Temple by temple personnel, and to better understand the development and environment of the temple, they toured the temple grounds and exchanged information. They hope to introduce TBS to worldwide sentient beings by studying the entire cultivation process of the True Buddha Tantric Dharma.
Translated by True Buddha Translation Team
Translator: Phyllis Feng
Editors: Henry Wolf and DJ Chang