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A Report on the Dharma Assembly

The Dharma Assembly titled “Buddhaland on Earth; Everyone Be Buddha”, organized by Shakyamuni Buddhist Foundation and Taiwan Chan Buddhist Association, was held at the Taipei Arena at 10 o’clock in the morning on January 29th. Despite the cold raining weather of Taipei, more than twelve thousand practitioners participated with passion, and the assembly was a complete success. Chan Master Wu Chueh Miao-Tien, the founder of the foundation and the association and the 85th Patriarch of the Order of Chan, hosted the assembly. In the solemn melody of “Salute to Shakyamuni Buddha”, Chan Master Miao-Tien clearly revealed the spiritual path and practices of Shakyamuni Buddha for enlightenment. It was during the dharma assembly at the GrdhrakutaMountainright before his nirvana, Shakyamuni Buddha passed the Buddha Heart Imprint to Master Mahakasyapa, and later it was passed to Master Bodhidharma and to every generation of Chan Patriarchs in China. This passing of the Buddha Heart Imprint has never been broken. If one follows Buddha’s authentic dharma and practices dedicatedly, reaching enlightenment is just a matter of time. Chan Master Miao-Tien also invited Shakyamuni Buddha’s dharmakaya to be present to bless all participants, eliminating sufferings, improving wellbeing, uncovering wisdom, and opening gate to Buddhahood. Lastly, all the participants sang the “Song of Self-Nature” in harmony, which closed the assembly perfectly.

Chan Master Miao-Tien indicated that the first thousand years after Shakyamuni Buddha’s nirvana was the era of the authentic dharma. The second thousand years was the era of the descriptions of dharma, or formed dharma. Now is in the five hundred years of the dark ages of dharma. In the era of authentic dharma, many Buddhists practiced the true teaching of Shakyamuni Buddha, and many reached enlightenment. In the era of formed dharma, the emphasis was on the translation and study ofsutras, building temples and Buddha statues, providingsupport to monks and nuns, etc. The practice gradually reduced tosuperficial values with appearance only. In the dark ages of dharma, Shakyamuni Buddha’s true teaching disappeared. Buddhist practice became just a formality or a ritual, or evensuperstitions. Most Buddhists nowadays were taught, instead of spiritual practices, only “convenient practices”,such assutra reciting, Buddha name chanting, mantra reciting, dharma listening,sutra studying, morning and evening repetitions , etc, Some even believed that the arrival of next Buddha is many eons away, and therefore it is impossible to reach enlightenment in this life time.

Because of these misunderstandings, the most important purpose of this assembly is, according to Chan Master Miao-Tien, to remind us of the core teaching of the Big Vehicle Buddhism— “Everyone possesses the same Buddha nature and could reach enlightenment through practicing the authentic dharma.” He also emphasized that Shakyamuni Buddha had already established a pure land on the Earth. As long as practitioners practice Buddha’s authentic dharma— “Discipline, Chan Ding, Wisdom, Liberation”, rid of attachment to ego and dogma, stop practicing formed dharma with the conscious mind, and return to the true spiritual practice, they could reach enlightenment in this lifetime. If everyone can become a Buddha, the Earth can be transformed to pure land, the pure and glorified heaven and Buddhaland.

During the assembly, Chan Master Miao-Tien also emphasized that Chan Ding is not equal to ordinary sitting meditation. A true Chan Ding is the meditation that penetrates into the realm of prajna wisdom. One has to enter the spiritual realm of wisdom through Chan Ding, passing through different levels of “Deep Ding”, “Right Ding”, and “Profound Ding” to transcend the six consciousness (current thoughts and actions), the seventh Mona consciousness (karma from past lives), as well as the eighth Alaya consciousness (the consciousness of emptiness), and then enter the ninth Amala consciousness (the pure light, the self nature), achieving the emptiness of body, mind, heart, and karma and entering the realm of light and wisdom. This is the true Chan Ding.

Chan Ding enables us to enter another dimension of purity. It let us transcend from the three-dimension of space and time on earth to a higher dimension, allowing our body, mind, and spirit to be distant from the bondages of the earth, and attaining liberation, freedom, and contentment. All sentient beings inside our body could be liberated enlightened, and transcended to Bodhisattva or Buddha from the physical realm. This is the purpose of Chan Ding. Through Chan Ding we are able to witness the unimaginable realm of formlessness and the true form, and enter the highest realm of Chan, the ultimate true forms. This is the only way to witness our self nature and become a Buddha in this lifetime, just like what Shakyamuni Buddha had achieved.

The Shakyamuni Buddhist Foundation and Taiwan Chan Buddhist Association, founded by Chan Master Wu Chueh Miao-Tien, have established numerous Chan centers in Taiwan, teaching the authentic dharma of Shakyamuni Buddha— “Without words. Transmit outside of all teachings. Imprint Buddha heart with heart. Witness self nature and reach Buddhahood”. Now there are over many thousands of practitioners practicing this authentic dharma.

The Ten Dharma Seals of Chan

What is the Chan practice?  It is to “repair” and to “act”.  To “repair” is to detach from all forms and to let go of “the notions of ego, human, sentient beings, and fear of death.”  Then return to the original true form of Buddha and Bodhisattva.  It also means to be “egoless.”  If you could reach this state, there will be no five poisons (greed, anger, delusion, arrogance, and suspicion).  For there is ego, there may exist the five aggregates (form, feeling, cognition, mental formation, and consciousness).  None of these lasts forever.  Therefore, there is no need to be attached.  Just adapt to every change in each moment.

To “act” is to practice the Bodhisattva way—carrying out formless giving, maintaining purity and discipline, realizing that there is no birth and no extinction of all phenomena, practicing with vigor, awakening through Chan Ding, and attaining the great wisdom.  These acts are labeled as the “Six Perfections”.

“Repairing” and “acting” both aim at attaining Buddhahood and reaching Tathagata.  It is not enough for a practitioner to only focus on “acting” and pay little attention to “repairing”.  By the same token, attaining Buddhahood is impossible if a practitioner focuses solely on “repairing” and ignores “acting.”  “Repairing” and “acting” are equally important in order to reach Buddhahood.

Besides, all practitioners need to follow the “Ten Dharma Seals of Chan”.  This is very important for all Chan practitioners.

Not Be Misguided by My Ego.

The first seal is, “Not be misguided by my ego”, which means we should not be interfered by our ego.

Some view spiritual practice as an outdated idea.  This kind of judgment is actually caused by their ego.  For example, we often hear people say, “I’m happy with my life and I don’t need spiritual practice.”  Some even do not believe the existence of the ten dharma realms.  Your whole life will be wasted if you are dogmatic to these views.  Therefore, we should not be misguided by our ego.

Not Be Misled by Dogma.

The second precept is, “Not be misled by dogma.”  This means that we should not be attracted to evil and unhealthy practices, and not to indulge in bad habits, such as addiction to drugs, alcohol, gambling and so on.  We shall not let our pure spirit be tainted because of these negative practices and bad habits.

Not be Seduced by Fame or Fortune.

The third precept is, “Not be seduced by fame or fortune.”  People are most often attached to wealth, fame, social status, and so on, while in fact these worldly possessions are not essential.  If you are attached to them, your heart will be trapped, and of course you will not be able to attain Buddhahood even if you are engaged in spiritual practice.  These are obstacles of your consciousness.  Being deeply trapped in this mindset, you will suffer from worries and anxieties if your desires are not satisfied.

Not Be Enslaved by Material Desires.

The fourth precept is, “Not be enslaved by material desires.”  Practitioners should not be jealous of what other people have, such as wealth, mansions, or luxurious cars.  He who is content is always happy.  No one will be able to take anything with him when he dies.  As long as you could think this through, you will be at ease and will not be distressed by material desires.

Not Be Misdirected by Illusions.

The fifth precept is, “Not be misdirected by illusions.”  Practitioners might have illusions, and non-practitioners probably also have them.  Why?  A non-practitioner often cannot manage himself psychologically when setbacks or difficulties are encountered, because he does not know how to challenge the current self and the future self.  That is to say, he cannot surpass his ego, thus finding himself in a hopeless situation and feeling miserable.

Many people with depression eventually commit suicide because being misdirected by illusions.  They jump from tall buildings, cut their wrists, and so on.  Take those who jump from tall buildings as an example.  They seem to be very brave and fearless.  Actually, it is not true.  They jump fearlessly because they see a very pretty building in front of them and do not know that it is an illusion.  Therefore, they step forward happily and end up falling down.  This is an example of being misdirected by illusions.

Committing suicide is a very serious matter because he who takes his own life before the final curtain call will go to hell.  Therefore, we should not be fooled by illusions and should realize that the purpose of our life is spiritual practice.

Let’s address illusions of those who have already engaged in spiritual practice.  Many people are in fact not practicing the authentic dharma.  They meditate in order to obtain supernatural powers.  When their mind becomes in a trance during meditation, they would resonate with supernatural beings from the void, allowing those beings to enter their body.  Once this occurs, the person will speak and behave abnormally.  He himself is usually not aware of this.  Instead he would believe that he has gained super power and has become very capable.

Therefore, if you see untrustworthy illusions during meditation, try not to be affected.  Do not try to look at them, nor should you try to get rid of them.  Just continue with your meditation and not be interfered.  It is like when we see people quarreling on the street, we will keep going our own way and do not want to stop and watch them.

All illusions you see during meditation is just a phenomenon.  It could come from inside your body or a remote dharma realm unrelated to you.  Therefore, do not be bothered by them, and do not be dictated by them.

Not Be Angered by Injustice.

The sixth precept is, “Not be angered by injustice.”  When being oppressed by injustice, we should not be angry under any circumstances.  Because once anger emerges in our mind, our spiritual practice would be disrupted.  If you have a quarrel with your spouse, my advice would be that you stop mediating for one week.  Many people think that they can meditate to calm themselves down after a fight with others.  This actually does not work well.  It would be better if you just go out and take a walk, listen to music, or examine your own conduct and forgive your spouse.  This is the best way.

Not Be Entrapped by Infatuation.

The seventh precept is, “Not be entrapped by infatuation.”  Generally speaking, young people are easier to be trapped in affection, and they are usually quite extremes—either love or hate, or both.  This is not recommended.  We need to take the “middle way”.  That is, a couple can be together only if they love each other; otherwise just agree to separate for a while.  There should be no hatred and no suffering.  This is the middle way.

Not Be Troubled by Secular Affairs.

The eighth precept is, “Not be troubled by secular affairs.”  In daily life we are very easy to be bothered by secular affairs, such as relationships with people, matters, or cultures.  In dealing with people and objects, the simpler the better.  Whether it is about friends or strangers, do not allow your heart to be polluted, and do not allow secular affairs to bother you.

Let Our Heart Shine Brilliantly.  Let Our Wisdom Be Infinite.

Finally, we have to “let our heart shine brilliantly,” and “let our wisdom be infinite.”  This is the state when you witness your self nature.  To reach this state requires you to be freed from “greed, anger, delusion, arrogance, and suspicion”.  You must not be attached to any forms.  If you practice according to the Ten Dharma Seals of Chan, you will be able to witness your  self nature.

Elemental Dharma of Chan

~Chan Master’s Teaching in 2011 Chinese New Year Gathering~

After each one of us arrive into this world, through education and learning, we eventually gain skills on how to make a living, understand the meaning of life, and learn to contribute back to society.  Gradually, every Chan practitioner also realizes that the purpose of practicing Chan is to ferry sentient beings and transform this earth into Buddhaland.

The existence of “Buddhaland on Earth” actually started 2,500 years ago right after Shakyamuni Buddha left this world and entered nirvana.  It is not a brand new idea we thought up just now.  The “Buddhaland on Earth” we describe is indeed the blessed world of Shakyamuni Buddha, a land with pure light.  Many people do not realize that the blessed world of Shakyamuni Buddha in fact exist on our earth.  Shakyamuni Buddha said, “every sentient being has Buddha nature.”  This means that every sentient being has the same potential to attain Buddhahood.  The reason they cannot be Buddha is because of their own ego and dogmas.

“Ego” means people pursue only their own interest while do not care about others, and always put themselves first.  “Dogma” means individual attachments to fame, fortune, social status, and affections.  They often consider their personal achievements of these are the most important.  These values all dwell inside our mind.  Our conscious mind is the representation of our ego and dogma.  If we could overcome our mind, we could be a Buddha.

Therefore, we need to practice the path to bodhisattva by transforming our mind into help sentient beings little by little every day.  And by doing so, we shall become a bodhisattva eventually.  The first stage of Bodhisattva’s ten stages is the “Huanxi Bodhisattva”—a joyful bodhisattva who smiles from inside out every day when dealing with life and work.  You can try to make yourself joyous from your heart every morning when you get up.  This joyful heart enables your blood to be joyful, flowing throughout your entire body and providing nutrients to every cell.  This is the key point of Chan practice.  If we do not understand how to make our heart pure and blissful, our practice is meaningless.  I’d like to remind everyone of the importance of having a blissful heart

In addition, we need to awaken, too.  We all have a heart but only a few of us realize that there is another invisible and exquisite heart within this physical heart.  It’s the “profound heart”.  This “profound heart” is our true self and came from Buddhaland.  We are gathered here today and let our heart be reunited with our “profound heart”.

We can understand this through the state of Chan Ding.  The purpose of Chan Ding is to reunite with our “profound heart”, reunite our physical person with our own Buddha, and return to Buddhaland, the pure land.  In that state, you will feel your heart is very warm or cool.  This is a very important concept of Chan practice.

Most practitioners only chant sutras or Buddha’s name or worship Buddha’s statues.  These are only Buddhist ceremonies which are not the true practice.  The true practice starts from awakening oneself to realize the purpose of coming to this world.  In Buddha’s point of view, the reason we reincarnate into this world is for returning to our spiritual home—the Buddhaland.  How do we go back to Buddhaland?  We need to reunite with our heart with that of Buddha.  This is the first step of Chan practice—“awakening the heart”.  In the state of Chan Ding, you will be able to witness your true nature, your own Buddha, your light.  The profound light comes from your heart.  The real reunion is in finding your true self.

After we find our true self, we shall help people around the world to witness their true self too.  No matter what kind of methods you practice, praying or Chan Ding, as long as you can quiet your mind down, let yourself unite with your profound heart, your true spirit, then you will be able to witness the Buddha inside of you and be a Buddha.

Sutras mentioned that a Buddha came to this world 2,500 years ago.  He practiced in this secular world, reached Buddhahood, and founded Buddhism.  This Buddha’s name is “Shakyamuni Buddha”.  The sutra also said that a future Buddha is called “Maitreya Buddha”.  This statement about a future Buddha is actually a hint and an indication.  Upon my enlightenment, I witnessed the “Maitreya Buddha” in my heart.  I suddenly realized that the Maitreya Buddha mentioned in sutras is the blissful Buddha we all could witness when we attain Buddhahood.  Therefore, everyone is and could be Maitreya Buddha.  It does not refer to the statue of Maitreya Buddha.  It just means the true enlightenment of everyone.  When everyone becomes Buddha, naturally the earth is the Buddhaland.

We all wish for world peace.  People become considerate, respectful, and courteous.  What differs human beings from other animals is the wisdom.  Our wisdom comes from our inner spirit.  The intelligence we learn every day combined with our “profound heart” is the wisdom.  Our wisdom will unfold when our heart is pure.  I believe many of our practitioners have experienced that.

The goal of the Shakyamuni Buddhist Foundation is to help everyone to become a Buddha.  This is the wish of Shakyamuni Buddha.  By following this teaching, I realized what the true practice is.  After I witnessed the realm of Chan, I understood what Buddha and God are.  The true God and Buddha are light of life.  The labels of “God” or “Buddha” are created to communicate to people.  The term “Chan” is used for the same purpose.  Chan is Buddha; Chan is heart.  Through Chan practice we will be able to attain Buddhahood and see Buddha light, the light coming from every cell of our body, just like seeing star lights at night.  Every sentient being in our body contains a living light.  We need to let every one of them shine.  In other words, we need to transform these physical beings into spiritual beings.  This is the goal of our Chan practice.

About the Heart Transmission Experience

Jue Miao Miao Ming
This sharing was given at Cihang Guanyin Temple,
Xinzhu, Taiwan,
on October 22, 2011.

1. About the Heart Transmission Experience

When I first met Shifu in Shanghai I didn’t have any expectation going to that meeting, I didn’t even think I would have a chance to actually talk to him. I was actually just very excited about the chance to hear him talk in a small room, and have a chance to do some Q &A. Shifu talked for about an hour and then gave us a little break. During the break, he asked one of the people that could speak English to come over and asked me if I would come up. And he said that he had recognized something about me; he had this feeling – as soon as he walked into the room – there was something different. He wanted to know if I practiced Chan, I told him yes, I had practiced Chan for 37 years. He asked if I teach, I said yes I teach. I said I had seen some of his DVDs and I was very intrigued by this Heart Chan practice, because over the past 30 plus years I had learned bits and pieces of his practice, I learned Chinese medicine, I learned meditation, and I learned how the energy flow through the chakras and qigong, but I had never met anyone who could put these altogether in one practice, and I said that is what I think he has as his special.

So at that point Shifu asked me if I would meet him privately after the main session. So, we went into the room, and we talked. He asked something about my background where I wanted to go. We exchanged and had a very good conversation, just about Chan practice, how it needs to spread in the world and how it needs to be shared; it was a good practice. He said that you don’t realize it. I didn’t ; I was slow or maybe I got enough of mind …. He said that he would like to offer me heart to heart transmission. Now, I didn’t really know what heart transmission was. I knew it was very special, and I have read obviously about how through Buddhist practice and through each generation how masters to the disciple has passed the teachings with no words, and that the entirety of the teaching can be passed directly heart to heart, and to have the opportunity to experience that is more than I thought I would have in this life time.

But I also knew, as amazing as this opportunity was, that if I accept this, there is great responsibility that goes with it also. It is not like you just get this gift and you run away and say, “Look at what I’ve got.” No, now you have the responsibility to share and show others for the rest of your life. Every day and everywhere you go you’ll have to share and help people on the path, bring more people into the practice, help people that are dedicated get to the next level, and this will be your life every day for the rest of your life, and you’re willing to accept that responsibility. My answer to Shifu was that I have been dedicated to this practice since I was a teenager, and I have been asked by hundreds of people: why do you do this practice? Why do you meditate? Why do you do Chinese medicine? My answer was: I don’t know. I only know it is going somewhere, but I don’t know where, so I just practice. I told Shifu that I had studied with masters all over the world, in Asia, in the Western world, in Europe, in Africa, in many many places, and always sought out spiritual leaders, masters and teachers. I said that his teaching is the only one that really made sense to me. Every other one had something wrong or something missing. Some of them seemed very good, but when you started practicing it is not one hundred percent good, and I knew it when I first saw one of Shifu’s lectures on DVD 3 years ago, I knew this is it. This is it, absolutely!

So I agreed to do the heart transmission, and basically my part was very easy. I just had to close my eyes, and do a deep belly breathing and try to establish a Chan Ding state. Over a few minutes’ time I had the absolutely most profound experience in my life. Immediately, everything within the field of, you don’t really see with your eyes closed, but everything was completely saturated with the brightest and deepest red I had ever seen. And then, I’m sure when Shifu first walked into the room it literarily felt like someone had attached an electrical cable to me, I could feel this tingling and sparkling sensation like an electrical current. When he did the transmission, it first felt like a bloom inside my heart, and inflated up to where it was so full and it felt like it was going to burst. Then the brightest and most intense light I have ever seen filled everything. Then it turns into the most incredibly intense white bright light that I have ever seen like someone holding a spotlight right in your face. And then Shifu says, “We are done!”

And everything in my life from that moment forward changed: the way I see the world, feel the world, and how I interact with people, is completely different from that moment, and I didn’t expect that and I had no idea what to expect, but everything changed from that moment forward.

The biggest changes were  – I’ve studied kongfu, martial arts, fighting things my whole life, and I’ve done these practices every day for 37 years up till then. Most of these kongfu practices are based on the possibility of pain as teaching: they teach the same thing, teaching to keep your mind on the current moment. If you mind wonders, boom, you got hit. And then your mind comes to the current moment or you die, or don’t practice very long; so these practices are all based on pain, rather pain – I could not teach these anymore. I could not threat someone, or hit someone anymore. I couldn’t feel it in my heart, couldn’t bring myself to do it. I still practice the body forms, but no fighting, no hitting. This is very difficult for many of my students because I have 3 schools. Now I say that I can teach you the mind, I can help you correct your body moments, but you really should try Heat Chan meditation because it is better practice.

I have a much clearer feeing of people’s emotions. When I talk to someone, everyone creates this mask that we show the world where we want everyone to think everything is OK, but sometimes people are holding pain inside, maybe sadness, maybe fear; I can see this very clearly in people. Shifu gives me the ability to help people, and to be able to clear their … and make their life a little better. So, many many changes along these lines, but most of them are just a life that is now expressed from compassion. I haven’t felt the slightest bit of being angry or frustrated over anything since this moment in Shanghai.

Now many people ask me: now this has happened, will you stop working at your job and just teach Heart Chan all the time?  I said no, and I think it is very important for me to stay in the work place because there are many instructors out there that can teach people how to do meditation, how to clarify the mind, and how to settle, but you also have to have people that know how to take this from the temple and make this in your real life, in a relationship, in a job where people don’t care about your practice. They don’t support you at all. In a temple everybody is very kind to each other and very respectful; in the real world people are not kind, people are not respectful, and people are not fair.

So I have to be able to show how to take this practice into real life, and make it work because most of the people that come here to practice, they live in jobs, they have relationships and they raise children, and they have all these challenges, and they need somebody that can show them how to make this work in real life. So, for the next few years I will do this. I will study with Shifu. When he tells me where to go to teach, I will go there and teach.

2. About Miao-Tien Shifu’s Practice

There are many people that teach very good Buddhist practices. There are varied good mediation instructors and there are many good people that teach Buddhist practice. But everyone that I’ve ever met, has not got beyond form, everybody only teaches how to release the mind. The highest level in every other school, monasteries or temples I’ve been in, they teach you how to break through the mind. Shifu takes this to a much higher level; he takes this to touch your spirit. This is the goal of all these other schools but they don’t know how to get there; their path stops. Shifu knows how to get to the end, and I can feel this immediately and I know it is absolutely true.

Shifu’s practice is spiritual practice and everyone else that I’ve ever met all over the world is still stuck in form practice, and you can feel this difference very clearly.

3. About His Buddha Name

The name, by the way, is a very cool name. No…, I didn’t realize the meaning behind it, but this name, Miao, is very difficult to define, if not impossible. People will say many different words, but that doesn’t quite define it. Shifu explains. When he first saw me in Shanghai, he said, “when I looked at you, what I saw was real Chan in a human body.” He said, “This is Chan” when he looked at me. But the Chan that can be named is not the real Chan, so he had to give me a name that could not be defined.

4. About Chan in China

I had a very strong feeling when I moved to China several years ago. One of the things that was most confusing, most frustrating to me when I moved to China – I moved here because finally I can get to the source of Chan, the real knowledge, and I have a chance to be in the land where it was developed to the highest level. Then I moved to Shanghai, nobody has ever heard of Chan. For one year I go to temples, I go to shifus, I go to Kongfu masters and I go to Taiji masters and qigong masters, and nobody is Chan; it is gone from China for two generations now. Nobody knows. So, I think after a time that maybe what I’m supposed to do –  because only foreigners now, people that live outside of China still have this connection – so, I think maybe my role in life is to bring Chan back to China because people wanted it very much. They want this practice, they know they are missing spiritual practice, but they don’t know what it is and where to get it. Then I meet Shifu. He tells me: no, I came to China to learn, to meet him, and then my job is to take this back to the West. So I will be back to the English speaking countries at some point.

5. About His Parents and Friends’ Attitude

Both of my parents are still alive and both of my parents are very strong Christians – Catholics. They spent their whole life as Catholics, but they’ve always supported me exploring these other things. I’ve shared with them and they are very happy. They have Shifu’s books. They read and they believe this is good practice. What I try to share with them is that they can have this practice in their life too, and they don’t have to give up their Christian religion at all. They could use this Chan practice to see their Christian practice more clearly. They can still keep this connection, they can keep these words, this form. It’s fine. They understand, and they are very strong supporters. They see a change, yes they think it is very good.

I went back to America for maybe one week last December, and everyone that I see from this area that had known me when I was growing up in upstate New York could see this.

6. About  Purification of Karma

As far as karma goes, this complete purification was a very amazing feeling.  I have worked many years doing meditation practice, doing clear your mind, and this can clear a lot of karma out of your body.  You can clear the physical karma out, you can clear the mental and emotional karma out, but there is spiritual karma that is still there, that you can’t get.  When Shifu does this purification of karma, you can feel it completely gone.  I think everyone, at least I know I did, there are things in my life, maybe you regret, and you think you could have done better, done differently.  Maybe there are people that you had hurt emotionally somewhere in your life.  You carry this, you feel bad about this, even later in life.  After Shifu does this, I feel it’s OK, it’s gone.  I don’t feel this attachment to any of these regrets or old pain, and you can feel that it goes back longer than just this life time.

After the second time, Shifu tells me: I cleaned your karma back many generations, back to infinity.  Karma is completely cleaned. Well I think it sounds like it’s a very cool thing.  My karma is completely clear, and what I think in my mind is all my bad karma is gone.  And then I came back here, Kuan Yin Temple, I sit here and doing meditation at night, and I see the twinkling lights and I get this feeling of this enchanting feeling. It hits me that he didn’t clear away my bad karma, he cleared away all karma, so any good karma I’ve accumulated, any bad karma that I’ve accumulated, it’ all gone, and he took me to some place above karma, beyond karma.  I asked him if this was true, and he just kind of smiled and nodded at me.

7. About Effort

The answer that comes to me is maybe the easiest way to understand is it is like a business model.  If you were trying to make an investment, if you want to make more money, you invest some money.  And then you get a return on this investment.  If you invest $1.00, maybe you get $0.20 back and you make some profit.  If you invest $10,000, maybe you get $5,000 back.  So the more you invest in, the bigger the return.  This practice is the same.  If you just only come here once a week, that’s very good practice and your life will improve. If you can meditate every day for about 1 hour of your time every day, you’ll see your return goes up 100 fold.  If you can stay with the practice and go through and be very dedicated…, the more you put in, the more you get back out.

For everybody this path is different.  The process is the same, but what you feel, what you experience, it’s you.  What I share, what I felt will be different than what you feel.  And everyone else that walks this path will have different amazing experiences, because you are a unique different person.  But this path, this process will work, absolutely work, for you the same as it will work for everyone else.  So it’s just how much you put in, is how much you will get back.  It took me a very long time, so I might not be the best model, almost 40 years of practice to get to this point.  You maybe can do this much faster.

8. About Spiritual Karma

Spiritual karma is beyond thought and words.  And to try to explain it in words is too abstract.  It’s something you feel, you know is there, and I think where you get to the spiritual karma – because this karma is a hindrance- it’s kind of like you hit the wall or if you think of it as something that covers up the light. So when you get to the point where you think you have done a good job cleaning the body karma, you feel OK physically, and then you think you’ve done a good job cleaning out the mental karma, but there is still something left that you can’t define.  This is the spiritual karma.

You create the spiritual karma the same way you create the other karma.  It happens in past lives.  You know there are physical things that maybe you do wrong that you’ve gained bad karma, or maybe there are physical things that you do good, you gain good karma.  It’s the same at the spirit level.  When it clears out, it clears out the same way as the other karma.  When it clears out, you know that you are on the right path because the light gets brighter and you can feel it.

But words will never capture, and no matter how I try to explain it in words, I can’t transfer it, but when you feel it, there’s no doubt.  I feel bad that I can’t give you a better answer.  But I honestly don’t know how to express in words.  But when you feel it, you will have no doubt.  If you have doubts, if you think you are clearing out spiritual karma, but you are not sure, it’s not spiritual karma.  When it is, you’ll know for sure.  And that’s the best I can offer.

9. About Attending Chan Classes

I don’t understand Shifu’s words at all.  But, it’s very similar to – almost like the heart transmission experience, I can feel.  I can feel, like today for instance, Shifu’s teaching was very light, very happy energy through his whole talk.  So when I start to feel this energy, I just close my eyes.  Just like I’m in meditation and I feel what he’s teaching; I don’t listen to what he is teaching.  The sensation I was getting today was extremely light.  I can feel like I’m almost going to float off the ground.  It’s a very strange feeling. I feel extremely light, like not even touching the ground.  It got to the point where my legs which usually don’t hurt very much, hurt very bad today because it was almost like they didn’t have support.  They’re like floating off the ground and you could feel this.  And the colors were very intense.  And flashing of lights get very intense, and the different parts of this feeling.  And I can feel my own energy purifying and I can feel my own clarity of thought getting clearer.  But I don’t understand any of the words at all.

When I meet with Shifu privately, I will go in usually with a list of questions, things that aren’t clear, things that I need to verify.  And someone will transfer those to him as a translator.  And he’ll answer.  But when he provides me with actual teaching, there’re no words.  This practice is very much beyond words.

Words are just to help, and guide, someone else sharing their experiences so that you kind of know that you are on the right path. If you have some confusion or frustration, it helps you, but it’s not necessary at all in any phase of the practice.  For example, if we try to do the seated posture and we try to sit straight. If you sit with your bones very straight, muscles very relaxed, you can stay in meditation for a long time.  If someone tells you that, you can advance very quickly.  You’ll find this same answer by yourself if you bend over, you get very uncomfortable.  It gets very sore. It hurts.  You’ll even quit meditation or you’ll learn.

If I sit straight it’s much more comfortable and the energy flows.  Chi flows through the body.  If my body is bent over, it’s like a hose, you try to water the garden and you try to water the flowers.  If the hose is bent no water will come out or very little.  But if I hold it straight the energy flows very well.  So if no one ever teaches you that, you’ll find it on your own.  You’ll discover that if I sit straight I can sit very long and the energy flows very well.  If someone teaches you, you can do it much faster.

With no offense to instructors, because I have great respect for them.  A Chan teacher cannot teach you anything.  You already know everything inside your own body, inside your own mind, and inside your own spirit.  All they can help you do is be more efficient and not take so many side paths in discovering, but it is already all inside of you and you have to discover it yourself and you have to take every step yourself. Nobody can do any of this practice for you. So all instructors can do is help make corrections along the way and help you process, but it’s already all inside every one of us.

Just one other thing to share. These kinds of shared practice sessions where you come to the temple, take a class, are very very important.  You can learn this sitting by yourself.  You can understand the very basics of seated meditation, how to breathe, and go sit by yourself and you would get there, but it is a very slow process and you’ll make many errors, and maybe get yourself so far off track that maybe you’ll quit. But if you come to practice and you have an instructor, and have other people to share with, they can help you see this practice from more perspectives because normally we only see life from our own experience, from our own mind, our own values, and our own emotions.  And we are generally pretty sure that we are right.  But then if you share this same experience with other people, you will see that other people are right too.  They look at things from different ways and so it broadens your ability to see a path.  So now your path isn’t so narrow and so difficult to stay on.  Your path gets wider and you can follow this path much more easily if you share this experience with other people.

Practice Of Surpassing

Jue Miao Jing Ming, Head Teacher of Chan Practicing in LA, US.

I have been hearing our Teacher’s talk about “surpassing” for many years.  Until only recent few months, I have come to realize that my experience about “surpassing” or “transcending” was rather limited.

  • I initially understood this term at its face value – surpassing my habits.
  • Then I realized that I should surpass my thoughts.
  • Then I realized that I should surpass my favorite quotations.
  • Then I realized that I should surpass whatever I hold on to as right, correct or absolute.
  • Then I realized that I should surpass whatever I felt comfortable.
  • Then I realized that I should surpass whatever state, accomplishment or phenomenon I reach.
  • Then I realized that I should surpass everything continuously until enlightenment.

This was my journey from a single word from my Teacher.

I am so grateful.


Charles Meng

Before I started practicing Chan meditation I felt exhausted all the time, and in particular my heart seemed not to be working very well. Chan meditation has helped to turn the situation around. And, though I am still a beginner on the journey, now I am convinced that by practicing Chan meditation one can absorb the great life force from the universe and experience great transformation.

For some people, the challenging part is not physical conditions. They are pretty healthy, however they are not happy because they would not let go of worries or unhappy experiences. I am also familiar with this kind of mindset because I was constantly struggling miserably inside. I have also changed quite a bit in this regard thanks to practicing Chan. Chan is like a light that lightens my heart. Now I understand why some practitioners say that it is the heart that determines if we are in hell or in heaven. Very true indeed.

Chan practice is so wonderful. It is the most wise and valuable “investment” one can ever make, and it deserves our full dedication.

Chan Master Miao-Tien once said something like this: “If you have a plan and you act accordingly, the effectiveness of your practice will be ten times more than others.” I would like to humbly suggest that everyone of us set a plan for our Chan practice and put it into practice faithfully. Here is my plan: unless an very unusual situation occurs I shall practice Chan meditation daily in an obedient manner, and I shall attend weekly group practices and Chan retreats. Further, I shall help other people to get to know Chan and benefit from it. Let us help each other and work hard toward our goal.

Seven Days in Buddha Land

Melanie, 2, Dec 2012

On January 29, I attended Wu Chueh Miao-Tien Shifu’s Dharma Service held at the Taipei Arena in Taipei, Taiwan, with other practitioners. During the service, Shifu described Śākyamuni’s journey to attain Buddhahood. He also explained the importance of Chan practice in our life. Before he ended the Ceremony, Shifu blessed all those present, over 10,000 people in all, by “connecting their Ren and Du channels, cleansing their karma, opening their wisdom door, and opening their Buddha gate.” When I heard Shifu say it, I said to myself: there are more than 10,000 people at the scene, how can Shifu have such power to eliminate all our karma? I felt the power a couple of days later when I sat there meditating. All chakras, from the Sacrum Chakra to the Wisdom Chakra, I felt them all, and every easily! This had never happened before.

Shifu talked for two hours, and we could see on the large-screen that Shifu stood there steadily without moving his body at all. And certainly he had no script to read from.

I was also fortunate enough to have met Brother Miao Ming, an American nuclear physicist currently working in Shanghai, who has seen his True Nature after receiving heart-to-heart transmission from Shifu. We meditated and had meals together with him. I felt that he is someone who is completely at ease. There was a tea party after the service, and he was surrounded by many people, either to ask questions or to take pictures with him. He had no time to drink tea throughout, but he always had a smile on his face. He answered our questions very earnestly, and was full of wisdom. We learned a lot from him. The next morning, because of the jet leg, we got up at 3:30 am. Our bedroom was next to the meditation room, so we started to meditate. Suddenly, Brother Zhenyao felt a bright light around him even though he was meditating with eyes closed. He realized where the light came from when he opened his eyes after finishing the meditation: Brother Miao Ming was sitting right beside him, meditating.

We stayed at Chi Hang Guan Yin Buddhist Temple in Hsinchu. The tall and stately temple was presided over by Sister Yang Lian. Shifu has blessed the Temple, thus it is full of clean energy.  Shifu kindly arranged us, who came from United States for the service, to stay there. The bedroom is for more than 30 people, and to my surprise I slept soundly in that room. The jet leg didn’t bother me at all. During the 7 nights in the temple I slept sweetly, even on the plane on my way home, I slept very well (I had never managed to fall asleep on a plane before). When we were on our way to Taiwan, Brother Zhenyao told me that the temple is full of clean energy and that people sleep there very well. It is indeed true.

We also visited the “Brahma” and “Pharmacists Buddha” temples and also the “Colored Light Lotus World.” We were pleased to have the opportunity to attend classes with other brothers and sisters in Taiwan. Beside Sister Yang Lian’s class, we attended Sister Yin Lian’s class. In both classes I felt very strong energy, and my Chakras reacted powerfully. Practitioners in Taiwan attend class every week, in the evening. Some of them live far away, and they stay to have discussions after meditation. The groups were formed by those who meditate together regularly. In Sister Yang Lian’s class, there were children, from 5-6 year olds to the teens, practicing together with us and their parents. Sister Yang Lian talked for half an hour, we meditated for half an hour, and then people shared with each other about their practice. I really admired those young children who sat in meditation position from the beginning to the end, seriously and quietly. Maybe that’s the characteristic of Chan babies.

Sister Yang Lian and Sister Yin Lian, in sharing with us their experiences in spiritual practice, were full of touching and amazing stories. If I hadn’t seen them with my own eyes and listened to their stories in person, I would have found the stories hard to believe.

In spiritual practice, one not only needs to practice meditation, but also to act. Practitioners in Taiwan take Chan medication classes, and they also help others in many ways. They came to clean the temple and maintain its garden right after the Chinese New Year. When we were there, they took turns cooking tasty meals for us. One sister’s husband runs a very big successful business, but she was very kind and came to cook for us twice. I really appreciate their kindness.

Shifu met Brother Miao Ming in the following afternoon after the service, and Brother Zhenyao had the honor to be at the scene, interpreting for them. At that point, Shifu reminded us to focus on maintaining discipline, saying that without discipline a practitioner cannot achieve much no matter how good a meditator he/she is. Hearing this, we reflected on ourselves. We realized it’s indeed really hard to comply with the commandments in our everyday life.

All of us from the US attended the dinner on Friday per Shifu’s arrangement. Several dozens of tables lined up in the restaurant, and only 4 people from each meditation Center were allowed to attend. You can imagine how many Chen centers there are in Taiwan. We took advantage of the opportunity to take photos with Shifu. Brother Zhenyao introduced us to Shifu one by one. Shifu sang a few songs for us. His voice was deep, mellow, and very pleasant to hear. The song “Seagull” expressed Shifu’s determination and vision to liberate sentient beings from suffering. I was deeply grateful!

While I was in the temple, I saw Sister Yang Lian and others salute earnestly to the image of Buddha. It bothered me, because I had always thought that it was something done by illiterate women in the country, and I was really not used to it. But with clarification by brothers and sisters, I realized this: by saluting the Buddha our true nature and the Buddha are paying respect to each other. It is something that practitioners should perform, and I should get used to it. It is also a method to purify our hearts. So I should overcome the obstacles, do the salutation with a grateful heart.

I owe this successful Taiwan trip to the help of many practitioners in Taiwan, especially Brother Yenkang. He helped me to apply for visa, order plane ticket, and in both San Francisco and Taipei he was the one who picked us up and dropped us off. He did so much for us, and I am very, very grateful! Not only Yenkang, all of the brothers and sisters I met in Taiwan are following Shifu’ teaching in purifying their hearts, and making great efforts to advance. I was impressed. Therefore, I also regard it my mission to introduce Shifu’s dharma, which perfects one’s heart and fulfills one’s life, to my friends, and introduce it to all those people who are suffering in the mundane world.

During the 7 days in Taiwan, we had no time for those famous tourist attractions, nor shopping at these famous malls. We only visited Shifu‘s temples and meditation classes. We felt especially clean, both physically and mentally. Sister Yang Lian and Brother Yenkang helped us to accomplish the most important things. I seemed to have lived in the Buddha’s Pure Land for a week, and now I have returned home. Spiritual practice is very popular in Taiwan. On our way to Shifu’s temples we saw many temples and Chan centers. This, I think, helps in maintaining a peaceful society.  I also hope that the Mainland will also become a more tolerant society that will allow my family members and friends to start their journey of spiritual practice as early as possible.

I am glad that I was able to join our meditation group. Because of this I not only have confidence in my present life, I am also confident about my future. I am full of happiness.

Thank you, Shifu!

Thank you, everyone!