Special Interview with Supreme Master
Special Interview with Supreme Master
1. Master, what is your Dharma Lineage? How did you change from Exoteric to Esoteric and into the Nyingma Kathok Lineage?
Supreme Master: My initial contact was with Chinese Zen Buddhism, I received the lineage of Ling Ji sect, and had been to Taiwan and Korea to learn Zen from Master Bai Yun and Master Kusan Sunim respectively. Regarding my fate with Esoteric Buddhism, in fact before I became a monk, I had dreams of many monks donning crimson robes, at that time I did not know who they were. After my renunciation and in the process of practice, realm phenomena frequently appeared, but I could not find the perfect explanation for them in the systems of Theravada and Chinese Buddhism, this continued till I was practising in Songgwangsa Monastery of Korea, I met an English monk there who had practised under the Gelug tradition for nine years, he suggested that I search for the answers in Esoteric Buddhism. After I returned from Korea, I went to mount Wutai, on the sacred land, in front of the White Stupa and Manjushri’s Hair Relic Stupa, I made a vow to learn Esoteric Buddhism; with Buddha’s blessings, I subsequently learned the practices of Yamantaka from Gelug tradition, Hevajra from Sayka tradition, Mahamudra from Kagyu tradition and Great Perfection from Nyingma tradition. In 1998, I got to know the Lord of Dharma – H.H. Lhoga Rinpoche; in the beginning of 2000, I was invited to Nepal to receive the initiation of The Great Treasury of Precious Termas, this is a huge initiation for transmission of Kathok’s teachings and words, it lasted for more than twenty days, after which I was authenticated as Nyingma Kathok’s Vajra Supreme Master.
2. Master, please talk about the wisdom you have gained from your many years of practice?
Supreme Master: The path of practice is long and far, to avoid going through curvy road, one must look for a Supreme Master, so that one can learn systematically. Basically, one’s practice has to be based on the framework of Ethical Discipline, Concentration and Wisdom. It starts from observing precepts, from Five precepts, Bodhisattva precepts to Samaya. At the same time, practice Concentration, it starts from chanting mantra and visualising object, locks oneself up for twenty minutes and focuses on one mantra or visual, when one actually practices this, one will discover that one has many habits and obstacles, broadly speaking, there are four obstacles, namely Knowledge Obstacle, Habit Obstacle, Vexation Obstacle and Karma Obstacle, overcoming and transforming these obstacles requires a strong foundation in theory, this brings in wisdom. To succeed in all Dharma practice, one must first prostrate sincerely to one’s teacher (meaning sincerely seeks to be his disciple), when one obtain one’s Supreme Master’s trust, blessing and key teachings, these will help one change and transform one’s obstacles. One must first be aware that one has ‘attachment to self’ and ‘attachment to self-likes’, one can use concentration and visualisation to eradicate these stubborn views to experience emptiness, then use emptiness to eradicate the finer attachments, after which progress to establish Buddha’s three bodies – Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya and Nirmanakaya; eradicating crude appearance and attachment, transforming into buddha’s three bodies and mandala, in terms of stages, this is the way to progress upwards, finally (Mahayana) Buddhahood in this present form can be attained, the main difference here is the need to perfect Buddha’s three bodies.
3. Master, please talk about the characteristic of Buddha Mandala Monastery’s teachings?
Supreme Master: Buddha Mandala Monastery’s teachings is based mainly on Zen and Esoteric Buddhism; Exoteric Buddhism is first introduced, on a macro level, students learn about the history of Buddhism and the stages of the path to enlightenment, then the five treaties of Maitreya Buddha and Esoteric Buddhism’s stages of practice are disclosed to them; first, establish the foundation of preliminary practice, then progress to the Generation Stage and Completion Stage, with Anuttarayoga (perfection of Buddha’s three bodies, Dharma-body, Enjoyment-body and Transformation-body) as the goal for practice. The whole process of practice is to civilise crude attachment and view, when complemented with Zen Buddhism’s direct approach, a practitioner’s time can be shortened, by warning him of lifetimes’ of stubborn ignorance and spurring him on; however, due to modern people’s egotism and strong self-esteem, this fine-tuning will be used according to the situation. Buddha Mandala Monastery is no doubt a retreat center for Venerables and lay disciples to practice in-depth, it also uses modern internet to deliver traditional teachings.
4. How can lay persons do retreat practice at home?
Supreme Master: Practice can be divided into three main parts – theory, discipline and actual practice ritual. Retreat practice can be done if one has mastery of theory, is familiar with ritual and has grasped the gist of practise. The purpose of a retreat is to strengthen and stabilise the keynote grasped, the best is to be able to have a retreat in a practising environment like Buddha Mandala Monastery; during the retreat, the Venerables will deliver teachings on theories and rituals, and practitioners will see their vexations surface; discovering that one has vexations, knowing that they have to be transformed and understanding the methods for transforming them, as such, doing a retreat practice at home to go deeper into practice will be meaningful.
5. What is Buddha Mandala Monastery’s Vision and Mission?
Supreme Master: I hope to be able to spread real Buddha’s teachings, incorporate real dharma which includes theory and actual practice into the lineage, and to integrate Exoteric and Esoteric strains of Buddhism. Chinese Mahayana Zen Buddhism’s practice method belongs to the ‘Chod – to sever’ practice method in Nyingma Kathok Lineage, thus there is no conflict between Zen and Esoteric Buddhism, they can be better integrated instead. As a result of Buddha Mandala Monastery entering the practice system of Esoteric Buddhism, its current mission is to integrate the monastery’s Venerables and lay disciples onto a stable practice platform, to especially nurture talented Venerables who can integrate (Mahayana) Exoteric and Esoteric practice methods, in addition I hope to build Buddha Mandala Monastery into an International Research and Practice Center for Mahayana Buddhism in future.