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The Three Basic Homework Assignments for Tantric Practitioners

[from: ]

Subject: The Three Basic Homework Assignments for Tantric Practitioners 

A Discourse by Living Buddha Lian-sheng at the Pootee Lei Tseng Temple
Vancouver, B.C., Canada on February 22, 1998.

Translated by Janny Chow, from the transcript published in the True
News (Issues #161, 162, 163, & 164.)

Masters, reverends, fellow students, board members of the PTT Lei Tseng 
Temple, and Master Lian Wen, good afternoon. Since announcing that I
would be 
taking a more reclusive lifestyle, my wandering has brought me to
today.  I am now like "a homeless ghost."  A homeless ghost goes
there is food [audience laughter], but I have also performed a fire

There are three important practices a Tantric cultivator must not
whether one is an ordained master, monk, nun, or student. As long as one
taken refuge in Tantrayana, one must perform these three basic

The first is mantra chanting.  As a practitioner of Tantrayana, one has
know that mantras play a most important role in Tantric practices:
mantras are 
the root of Tantrayana.  While the Pure Land School considers the
chanting of 
the Buddha's name as the most important practice, the esoteric school 
considers mantra chanting as equally important.  Tsongkhapa has said
mantra is mind, while epithet is form. When one knows the identity of
Personal Deity, one must chant at least 100,000 times the mantra of this 
particular deity. Sometimes one must chant 400,000, 500,000, or even one 
million times. Mantra chanting is the most important basic practice for
Tantric practitioner. 

What is the second basic practice?  Making offerings to the Buddhas. 
day one has to remember to make offerings.  At the personal shrine,
should be a setup of offering bowls or cups for making offerings to the 
Buddhas.  This is something one must do every day.  It is not acceptable
excuse oneself from the ritual because one has to go to work everyday
and is 
too busy to change the water and offerings, form the Offering Mudra, and
the Offering Mantra.  One cannot just say that the same routine everyday
too cumbersome and thus ask the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to help
themselves to 
whatever is in the refrigerator.  [audience laughter]

Tantric lineage masters have said that as long as a mandala is set up,
would descend.  One's Personal Deity may be Kuan Yin Bodhisattva,
or Padmasambhava and, by setting up the respective mandala, the deity
definitely descend.  So, if one sets up a shrine for Kuan Yin
Bodhisattva and 
does not go there for several months, when one finally takes a look,
might only be skin and bones left of Kuan Yin. [audience laughter] 
making offering to the Buddhas is something a practitioner must do.
setting up the mandala for the Deities, do not be lazy. Perform the
ritual once in the morning and once at night. Furthermore, our True
School also practices the fire offering, and one should find a way to do
Items offered in fire pujas are, indeed, offered up to the Buddhas.  The
significant reasons for doing fire offerings are: to repent for one's 
transgressions, to build up one's reserve of fortune, and to bring the
into focus so it can merge into oneness with the Buddhas.

One may buy something at the market, put it on a plate, place it in
of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, say, "Help yourself to it," [audience 
laughter] and walk away.  This kind of offering is not accompanied by
proper ritual.  In general, this is how practitioners in the scriptural
exoteric schools make offerings. They take a cup of water or some fruit
place them on the shrine. Then, after joining their palms and bowing,
they go 

Fire offerings practiced by esoteric schools are very remarkable. It is
method of offering that requires the formation of mudras, visualization, 
mantra chanting, and the integration of thought. Earlier, when we were
the fire practice and making offerings to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas,
we had 
to form mudras, perform visualizations, chant mantras, bring the mind
focus, and invoke the Deity to enter into oneself and the merging of the
Such a way of making offerings is a cut above performing an ordinary
a hundred times in front of the shrine.  Compare the fire offering we
just did 
to placing some fruit in front of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Which
one do 
you think generates more merits? Therefore, Tantrayana is unique in many
Making offerings to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is the second basic
a Tantric practitioner must not neglect.

The third important practice is: we Tantric practitioners have to enter 
into Samadhi.  Entering into Samadhi is quieting the mind and abiding in 
meditative stillness. In this practice, one develops the skill to
the greed, anger, and ignorance found in an ordinary being, so one may
a Buddha, Bodhisattva, or Diamond Being.  It is my hope that, as a
practitioner, you do one session of practice each day.  During the
pay attention to the practice of Samadhi and make adjustments to develop
skill to truly enter into stillness.  When one is able to enter into 
stillness, one also realizes the second of the Three Non-outflow
discipline, stabilization, and wisdom.  When stabilization is attained,
wisdom of the Tathagata will naturally arise within one.  

To reiterate, there are three basic things a practitioner has to do
day.  Some people ask, "After taking refuge, what am I supposed to do?" 
are the three things you must do: assign yourself a certain number of
chantings to be done on a daily basis; make offerings every day to the
and the Triple Jewels; practice and enter into Samadhi every day.  

Sometimes, a student will approach a fa-shi (monk or nun) and ask, "I
already taken refuge and received some empowerments, can you tell me
what I 
need to do?"  The fa-shi is at a loss himself. [audience laughter]  I
said before, the answer is: eating and sleeping. [audience laughter] 
and sleeping are also Dharma. The partaking of meals is making an
and sleeping is entering into Samadhi.  After learning this, you may all 
practice eating and sleeping. [audience applause]  

In reality, the partaking of meals is, in itself, a ritual. The joining
palms and the offering of food is a form of practice. If one sleeps
well, one 
can even practice meditation and enter into Samadhi during sleep.  Such
practice requires superb skill.  In general, when people sleep at night,
are no longer able to practice. One who can truly practice while he or
sleeps is someone who sleeps in the midst of Light and has his or her
greatly developed.  Such a person is able to practice twenty-four hours
a day 
while others only practice twelve hours a day.  So, those of you who are
shi's have to remember this: when others ask you what they should do
taking refuge and empowerments, you must tell them that they have to
mantras, make offerings to the Guru and the Triple Jewels, and do
every day to enter into Samadhi.  Such an answer will be perfect.

After entering the door of Buddhism and engaging in the practice of the 
Tantrayana, you have to find out what your homework is, and not waste
Life is short.  When I came to the United States at the age of
thirty-eight, I 
was very happy to look at the mirror because all my hair was black. Now,
soon as a little white hair shows up, I will shave it off.  I did not
have any 
wrinkles then but, when I look at the mirror now, I just want to break
it into 
pieces. [audience laughter]  I am a yogi, how can I have wrinkles on my
I used to be thirty-eight, and now, although I am not yet eighty-three,
I am 
fifty-four and have been here for sixteen years.

I remember when I was first shown this building, I only took a look and 
decided that it would be the site of the future Pootee Lei Tsang Temple.
said, "OK, let's buy it."  Mrs. Lu then said, "You are treating this as 
casually as if you were shopping for veggies in the market."  [audience 
laughter]  After taking one look, I immediately decided to make an
offer.  My 
point is, this is how quickly things in life happen and change.  How old
the Pootee Lei Tsang Temple now?  [Audience replies, "Seven years."]
years!  How rapidly convergence and dispersal occur.  People who have
close bonds with each other at the temple seven years ago are not here
Many changes have occurred over the past seven years, and that is just 

Practitioners have to bear in mind that not much time exists for one.  I 
was thirty-eight when I came to the United States, and I am now
fifty-four.  I 
don't know how old I will be the next time I come to visit and talk to
[Audience replies, "Fifty-five."] [laughter and applause]  Time flies
there are not so many years waiting for one.  If you don't hurry now to
the mantras, make mandala offerings, and practice Samadhi, there won't
enough time. In the world, things are impermanent.  Many events happen 
unexpectedly.  You think you can happily spend tomorrow and the day
tomorrow, and a beautiful future is waiting for you, but sometimes such 
expectations are ruptured in an instant.  Padmasambhava has said before,
is like lightning, it is gone in a flash."  What he meant is that we
have to 
cultivate energetically when we are alive.  

For myself, although I don't hold certain rules to be rigid, I do my 
homework assignments every day: chanting mantras, making offerings, and 
entering into Samadhi.  When I do all these every day, I feel that I
have not 
missed anything, and my mind is very calm and peaceful. When one is at
ease in 
mind, there will be the appearance of sweet Samadhi and luminosity, even
one's sleep. When that happens, it does not matter whether I lead an
active or 
reclusive life within the school.  When one does all these practices, it
no difference whether or not one has attained Buddhahood.  At such a
whether one is in Western Paradise or in the realm of hell is just the
As long as one has arrived at a state where one's heart is very calm, 
peaceful, and filled with light, one has already become an adept in
cultivation. Therefore, I would especially like to remind everyone today
to do 
mantra chanting, make offerings to the Buddhas, and practice Samadhi.  

Om Mani Padme Hum.


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