Taipei, Formosa Dec. 17, 1986.
There are many grades of Bodhisattvas: First Grade, Second Grade . . . Eighth Grade to Tenth Grade Bodhisattvas, and also the Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas. Mahasattvas are Bodhisattvas of the highest grade - the bosses of all Bodhisattvas.
However, there is another kind of Bodhisattva who does not seem to save people. We revere them as Pure-Tranquil-Ocean Bodhisattvas. Their merits are as vast as the ocean - very pure and tranquil, so they are the Pure-Tranquil-Ocean Bodhisattvas. Their power is like the ocean and they work in absolute silence. Like pure water, no one can perceive their existence, though we are still aware of the manifestation form of the Bodhisattvas. The Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas are superior to the Mahasattvas.
In the universe, there are many levels waiting for us to attain, and many positions for us to achieve. Therefore, being new to the practice, there is nothing we can be proud of. Possessing only trivial magical powers, some people boast arrogantly. What is the use of knowing a little bit about the past, present and future? Even if we know that the world will be destroyed tomorrow, we cannot change anything. As well, during the time between now and tomorrow, we would be extremely frightened, and wouldn't be able to sleep or eat. For those who do not know that the world will end tomorrow, at least they can sleep sweetly and enjoy twenty-four hours more of peaceful time. Therefore, it is really useless to know about the past, present and future.
To pave our future, we should begin with our present actions. In our daily life, endeavor to be a moral person, clearly observe the Five Precepts that I taught you: do not kill, do not steal, refrain from sexual misconduct, do not lie, and do not consume alcohol. It is enough to keep these Five Precepts strictly; no need to talk about too many commandments. Should you be able to keep the Five Precepts clearly, it doesn't matter even if you don't believe in me, do not practice the Quan Yin Method, or do not want liberation from birth and death. Even though you don't believe in me, you still have to be a good person, and keep the Five Precepts well; so that at least you can come back again as a human. Otherwise, there is no other way.
I have never taught you any bad things. You may not believe in me -- the person, but you should believe in my teachings. I only teach you good things. It is simple if you want to be a human being. Simply keep the Five Precepts strictly, then you won't have any trouble. By strictly observing the Five Precepts, even though you do not practice the Quan Yin Method, you can still be a human being. Otherwise, it is not easy to get the human body again.
The human body is very precious, without which we would not have the six sense-organs and the six senses, which are essential for our spiritual practice. Of course, we know the six sense-organs and the six senses are the most disgusting obstacles, but we must also use them in our spiritual practice. We cannot pursue spiritual practice without them. Understand? Truly, we don't need the ears to hear the inner sound, but how can we listen without ears? The visions in meditation are also not observed with the eyes; but without this body, we also cannot perceive, cannot see the Buddha's world. We would be ignorant about heaven or hell, or the Western Paradise. Therefore, the human body is very precious.
It is easy if you don't wish to become a human; it is only difficult if you wish to become one. However, it is even more difficult to become a Buddha. It is difficult enough just to become an ordinary Bodhisattva; but to become a Pure-Tranquil-Ocean Bodhisattva, there are many more ordeals. To become a "Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattva" -- a formless, supreme Bodhisattva, one must go through innumerable inconceivable, indescribable and severe tests, which are extremely difficult to pass. We may have transmigrated into this world millions of times, yet we have never heard of such severe tests; we could never hear of them.
If we have read extensively, we would have read about the great spiritual practitioners of the past, about the ordeals and painful sufferings encountered on their spiritual path. However, even the most outstanding and painful ordeals could not match those suffered by the Pure-Tranquil-Ocean Bodhisattvas, both in frequency and intensity.
The Pure-Tranquil-Ocean Bodhisattvas are almost the same as the Buddha, except that the Buddha is "inactive" while the Pure-Tranquil-Ocean Bodhisattvas are "active." They travel the universe taking good care of it, and keeping it in good order. Their responsibility is to take care of the universe, while that of the Mahasattvas is to save human souls and bring them home. Whoever wishes to go to the Western Paradise should study under the Mahasattvas. They manifest themselves in this world to save people and bring their souls back to their homeland -- the Heavenly Kingdom, the Western Pureland.
You often chant the names of the Pure-Tranquil-Ocean Bodhisattvas, but without knowing who they are. Even if they'd appear before your eyes, you would not know. Only the Mahasattvas know who are the Pure-Tranquil-Ocean Bodhisattvas. Ordinary people could not possibly know, because they do not wish to reveal their level and power. They look very ordinary, very commonplace, more ordinary than any person. Even when they are in this world, no one knows that they are Bodhisattvas. They absolutely refrain from showing any magical power, and simply work silently, totally unnoticed by ordinary humans.
The work of the Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas is different from that of the Mahasattvas. They absolutely refrain from intervening with people's karma, while the Mahasattvas do. They can save a person from hell and take him to heaven; or take any person, heavily burdened with karma, to the Western Paradise. In the same situations, the Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas just observe on one side without taking any action. Their work is to take care of the functioning of the universe and maintain the existence of the universe. They don't save people. You may be starving to death or are being roasted by hell-fire, they are simply oblivious. To us, the ordinary humans, the Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas may seem very cruel and remote; but they are not. It is only due to the different nature of their work.
However, it is not simple to become a Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattva; I don't think you can pass the trials. To become a Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattva, the training system that one must go through is extremely strict and severe. This agonizing training process cannot be described in words, and is totally unheard of and inconceivable by ordinary humans. Just like in the army, there are various types of training: infantry, navy, air force, spy, and the most risky--special task force. Trained even to kill enemies face to face, the training of the special task force is the most arduous. Right?
To become Bodhisattva, different training is also required to attain different grades. Therefore, to become Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas, extremely arduous practice is required. Arduous practice alone does not make one a Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattva, but it is essential to go through the most bitter training. Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas are specially selected; we cannot become one just by wishing. Any spiritual practitioner who has not surpassed the three realms, has no hope of being selected.
All the Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas are selected in the fifth realm. No one can become a Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattva within the three realms, as we still have to transmigrate. Our lessons in this world still have not been learned, so we won't be picked to undergo the most severe training. One must first become a Bodhisattva of the fifth realm, and be willing to become a Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattva, before one is qualified for selection. However, once selected, one has to undergo the most severe training, which is even more painful and severe than the system in hell.
There are many levels in spiritual practice, and the road of cultivation is very long. Therefore, as a new practitioner, one should not boast and exaggerate. I tell you not to reveal your experiences to others for your own good, not for me. You can tell the whole country if you like, I will not be affected. You only hurt yourself by divulging your own treasures.
So, practice in silence; because we have to protect our level, and climb slowly to become Buddhas, Mahasattvas, and superior Bodhisattvas. If a new practitioner has some magical power, and goes out to advertise himself because he is not stable within, you should know this kind of person is unreliable. Upon seeing these people, an attained spiritual practitioner can tell that they are experiencing obstacles -- suffering from the "Zen Symptom" we often mention. People not suffering from the "Zen Symptom" will not go out bragging.
Spiritual Practitioners should be humble. The higher their level, the more humble they are and the more they fear that people may detect their level and power. Some people are still okay in the initial stages of their practice. However, after attaining a trivial level and having some experiences, they brag everywhere. They talk so much that they run into many evil obstacles. The higher their level, the more evil obstacles there will be.
Therefore, the most terrible mistake in spiritual practice is talking about experiences. Having talked too much, the experiences become distorted in nature, or they simply do not come anymore, leaving only illusions. It is because the concentrated power is wasted, and the spiritual ambience is damaged. Originally, the spiritual ambience is a protective wall. However, as one leaks out too much, the devil will dig a hole in it and enter. In spiritual practice, we dread boasting and arrogant attitudes. The prouder one is, the greater his trouble.
I also know that it is not very easy for a spiritual practitioner to believe in a Master. Therefore, if you do not believe in me, it is not your fault. It is due to the atmosphere of this final stage of the Dharma. This is why the present era is called the final stage of the Dharma.
Spiritual practice indeed not easy. It is said in the Surangama Sutra: In the final stage of Dharma, if a person is truly sincere in his practice, though he might have only practiced a little, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will come and render great help to him. Unfortunately, few people have the sincerity and faith for serious practice. Most of them choose the easier and more relaxed way, reluctant to take the difficult and austere path. To practice our method, one has to be a vegetarian and meditate for at least two and a half hours each day. Besides, we are forbidden to kill, lie, commit sexual misconduct, steal and consume alcohol. To most people, this is too strict and arduous.
Even in this world, if one wishes to get a Ph.D -- become a doctor or lawyer, or to earn prestige in society, one must study assiduously. Isn't it true? Naturally, it must be more arduous for those who wish to become a Buddha or Bodhisattva, and be liberated from life and death in one lifetime.
In this final stage of the Dharma, for a little bit of our sincerity, the Buddha and Bodhisattvas will help us a lot. This is really great. Otherwise, your two and a half hours meditation is nothing really! Shakyamuni Buddha meditated all day long. Many people meditate for ten to twenty hours without gaining anything. If the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas did not help us with their power, we would get nowhere in our practice.
Actually, spiritual practice is not really so bitter; it is more difficult to eliminate the arrogance, and even more difficult to keep this big mouth from leaking. Arrogance and exaggeration are the most difficult to rectify. Practitioners who do not have much experience or progress in their practice are mainly hindered by their arrogance. They talk too much. They are still new to the practice, yet they talk so much.
Shakyamuni Buddha also forbade His disciples to brag. Maudgalaputra possessed magical power, but the Buddha forbade him to use it. I also give you the same advice. As you practice, magical powers naturally come, but you must not boast about them. If you have the power to read minds, better not to let anyone know. Otherwise, people will be afraid of you, fearing that you will read their mind whenever they come to see you. Then, no one would dare to come to see you. Right?
Should you process other powers like "heavenly legs" or "heavenly eyes," keep it a secret too. Other people may harm us if they know about it. There are no advantages. Some people would be jealous, as they would hate us for being higher than them. If we talked about something that they dislike, they would think of ways to harm us with black magic. Just like Maudgalaputra. He loved using magical power, but eventually he was harmed by heretics with black magic.
Therefore, I have kept advising you and warning you not to reveal your spiritual level to others. Nevertheless, some people still cannot remove this shortcoming. Being part of their personality, it is very difficult to change them, and this causes great troubles. If we notice this type of person, better keep away from him, and do not listen to his words. Otherwise, you will be infected, as with an infectious disease.
When we live with a person with evil obstacles -- you don't even have to live with them, just by sitting close to them, you are already infected with half his problem. When you go to visit a patient -- mix around and have contact with him, half his illness has passed to you. You have to accept half his karma. Otherwise, why do the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, when they manifest and come to this world, become ordinary humans after they are born? They first become ordinary humans, and then practice to become Buddhas or Bodhisattvas. Although they are manifestations of Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, they will still be contaminated by the world if they do not pursue spiritual practice.
Take Shakyamuni Buddha for example; you all know that He was the Prabhapala Mahasattva descending from the Tusita Heaven. His mission was to save the people on Earth. However, for thirty years after He was born, He didn't do anything to benefit sentient beings. He was a prince who didn't have to work, only enjoyed worldly pleasures everyday -- having no idea about spiritual practice.
When He was born, He could walk seven steps. Still aware of who He was, He said, "I am supreme, in heaven and on Earth." However, as He grew up, He also became ignorant, even more ignorant than ordinary people. Surrounded by so many pretty girls, He simply enjoyed the world everyday, and thought about nothing else. He was deliberately surrounded by a comfortable environment, badly pampered by His parents, and flattered by His subordinates. They kept Him from knowing any undesirable situations, and forbade anyone from reminding Him to pursue spiritual practice. Therefore, before He reached thirty, He was an ordinary human. He was the manifestation of a Mahasattva, and had attained Buddhahood long ago. Yet, when born in this world, He inevitably became an ordinary human.
Therefore, this world is really horrible. Without pursuing spiritual practice, even the one incarnated from a Buddha or Bodhisattva will definitely get lost. Therefore, under any circumstances, He must practice again.
You often ask Me: "Doesn't every person have a Buddha-nature? Why are we still ordinary humans?" It is because, after coming to this world, we are "infected" and "delivered" by the ordinary humans. The world is just like an epidemic region. At first, only one person gets the disease. Soon it spreads to two or three persons. Then to more and more people, until the whole region is infected. Sometimes, all the people and even animals in a town are killed, not even a kitten or puppy can survive. So, infectious diseases are truly horrible.
Similarly, when the Buddhas or Bodhisattvas come to this world, they will also become ordinary humans if they do not pursue spiritual practice. Originally, we were all Buddhas, possessing a Buddha-nature. Then why are we not aware, and do not perceive it? It is because, we have been "delivered" by this world for a long time. Now that we have just begun to practice, how can we know immediately? However, through diligent practice, sooner or later we will become Bodhisattvas. "Those who practice will become Bodhisattvas; those who do not practice will become ordinary humans"-- this logic is definite, and there is nothing else to be said.
You can that the even Shakyamuni Buddha took six years of practice to become a Buddha. Jesus Christ practiced for over a decade, and finally became a great Master. The Sixth Patriarch Hui Neng was already enlightened when he met the Fifth Patriarch Hong Ren, yet he had to hide himself and practiced for sixteen years, after the Fifth Patriarch Hong Ren had passed the Dharma to him. Bodhidharma did not deliver sentient beings during his time, because his power seemed insufficient still. (Master laughs.) No one listened to him, so he talked to the wall for nine years. I heard that because of his prolonged meditation, he could not walk afterwards. In later generations, we often saw his pictures portraying him walking -- that was the image of his manifestation body for people to see.
The saying goes: "He who stays near vermilion gets stained red, and he who stays near ink gets stained black." Mixing with bad people, one will become evil; mixing with virtuous people, one will become virtuous; staying with learned people, one can learn something; staying with foolish people, one will also become an idiot. A person who speaks English fluently would also forget, if he has not spoken English for thirty years. To speak English one must practice everyday. If you stay with a non-English speaking person for a long time, later you cannot speak English, or cannot speak fluently.
Just like me, I do not speak Au Lac language very fluently now because I have not spoken it for a long time. I even have a problem with my English. (Laughter) However, there won't be any problem after I have stayed in the United States for a few days. However, if I carry on speaking Chinese everyday like this, thirty years later, perhaps I won't be able to speak English at all. So it is with spiritual practice. By staying with a certain type of person, you will eventually become like him. This is why one must be careful in choosing a real master in spiritual practice.
Now, do you want to become Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas? (Someone answers: Yes.) Some people would immediately put on a long face just after a trivial scolding from me. How can they expect to become Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas this way? (Laughter) It is not simple to become this type of Bodhisattva. Once you have vowed to become a Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattva, you are in great trouble. Even an ordinary master has so many troubles, can you imagine those of the Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas?
In this universe, besides the Buddha, the Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas have the next highest status. The supreme position in the universe is the highest Buddha, the Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi. Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas are the second highest. They are above the laws of the universe. They go to heavens and hells just like we go to the markets to buy food. They go wherever they wish, and do whatever they like. Nothing else is more superior than they are because the highest Buddha is originally motionless -- the Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi is absolutely still. Therefore, in reality, the Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas are the highest.
M. No, the Buddha means the power. For instance, in England, the Queen is of course in the highest position; but she does nothing, and does not intervene in politics. She is only a symbol of the supreme position. However, Mrs. Thatcher is the most famous, and every country knows about her. Any person in the position of the Prime Minister is always the most famous. She is more well-known than the Queen. Everyone is afraid of her, and she can do whatever she wants. Of course, the position of the Queen is supreme, but not as powerful as the Prime Minister. Right? The Queen does not go from place to places, does nothing, and will not change any laws. However, the Prime Minister has to do everything. She is very stern, and is sometimes rejected by other people. For instance, Mrs. Thatcher is famous for being a stern Prime Minister. People call her the Iron Lady because she is very staunch in attitude, and has great power. Even the Queen of England can do nothing about her. She can only advise her, "Please don't be so stern, try to give in a little bit sometimes." However, she simply won't give in. Isn't it the case?
So are the Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas. In this universe, they have the highest power. Be more diligent if you wish to become one. However, I am afraid you cannot endure the most severe training system. Therefore, take it slowly. Become a Bodhisattva first, then climb slowly. However, if you vow wholeheartedly, one day you will definitely become a Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas. We can become what we are determined to be -- this is definite. But, it may not be realized so quickly -- perhaps in the next lifetime, or several lifetimes later. However, if you are willing, you may eventually succeed.
Q. Will the Pure-Tranquil-Ocean Bodhisattvas come to this world?
M. Yes! Why not? They are everywhere.
M. No, They won't have any karma, nor will they be infected by the world.
Q. Do they also come to this world with their manifestation bodies?
M. They are different from the manifestation bodies of the Mahasattvas. They are the law, and they possess all their powers -- fully equipped with magical powers, and can become whatever they want. Their magical power, their power and their authority are always there. They are different from ordinary Bodhisattvas.
Q. In this case, I would like to become a Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattva.
M. I know you want to be a Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattva, (laughter) but it is not that easy. Talk about it again when you have reached the fifth realm in your practice.
Q. May I ask, Master: do the Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas have to go through the process of birth and growing up, when they come to this world?
M. It is not always necessary. They are different from ordinary Bodhisattvas.
Q. Do They come to the world only for their work?
M. Right! They come and go as they wish.
Q. But the ordinary Bodhisattvas must first be born when they come? Is that right?
M. Right! The ordinary ones must first go through birth, which the Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas don't have to. They can transform themselves into anything they wish. Instantly, they can become a fly or a stone, but there is power within this stone or fly. Whatever they have transformed themselves into, they are fully aware that they are the Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas. They vanish or come into being as they wish. They can transform themselves into a human or a dog as they prefer. However, this transformed dog is no ordinary dog, and is free of karma. When in the human form, they will not be infected with the karma from other people, nor will they be contaminated by the society. Whatever form they have taken, their consciousness is always fully awake. The Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas are at the highest position. If there is really a highest God, then they are only slightly lower than God. God is number one, they are number two. Understand?
M. They are trained in the superior dimensions.
Q. Will They remain forever Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas, or will they eventually become Buddhas?
M. They are forever Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas. They can become Buddhas if they wish, but they don't have to.
Q. Master, You said the Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas are absolutely apathetic to outer influences. Suppose a sentient being happened to meet the manifestation body of the Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas, will they help him?
M. They won't help.
M. It is because there are other Bodhisattvas doing that job!
Q. But They can still save people by the way!
M. Why should they save you? The Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas have no relationship with you. They take care of the whole universe, not only one or two persons, or groups. They are different from the Mahasattvas.
Q. If They found a dying person, would they save him?
M. How can they save him? If you are not a doctor, how can you heal patients when they come to you? They cannot do this type of work. They are too busy to care about matters concerning one or two persons, or even the whole world. They are very busy, extremely busy! They have no time to care about one or two persons.
Q. Would Master please illustrate with an example, the severe training that the Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas would have to undergo?
M. This cannot be described in words because there is no such training system in this world. (Laughter) I have just told you that this training is more severe and painful than in hell. It is beyond your imagination.
Q. How can there be such evil things in the superior worlds?
M. These are not evil things, but essential training.
Q. Can every person become a Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattva?
M. This is decided by their selection. Once you are picked, they will train you slowly.
Q. Who makes the decision?
M. The Pure-Tranquil Bodhisattvas do. They select whoever they want, and we won't know about it in advance. We only know after we have been selected, because we will have to go through certain ordeals or sufferings. However, you won't be picked while still in this world -- this I can assure you. (Laughter) Talk about it after you have reached the fifth realm. You can only possibly be selected, after you have surpassed the three realms.