K a r m a . K a g y u . T r a d i t i o n

eaching at Grand Puja of Liberating the Death Through Triple Mandalas
By H.E Lopon Tenzin Jigme Rinpoche III
Karma Kagyu Monastery, Tainan, Taiwan (2004)

Gods and devils arise out of the attachment projected from the mind according to the fundamental view of Buddhism ”Egolessness or lack of self-entity”. When inner perception arises, the so-called gods and devils appear accordingly; once inner perception is eliminated, gods and devils will also be annihilated.

We need to understand that those who obstruct us from achieving liberation are the objects of performing liberating activity. You disciples, faithful lay people, and numberless intermediate beings, spirits, ghosts etc. have come here for this teaching this evening. So I would like to share with you some explanations of Machik Ladron to her disciples.

Machi Ladron’s Explanation on the 4 Devils

Not all demons are materially existing with frightening forms. A demon means anything that impedes our achievement of liberation. Particularly the greatest demon is our fixation to the ego. As long as this ego-fixation is not severed and purified, the enemy-like devils will create various kinds of images and problems to obstruct our minds.

The devil of ego-fixation is also called “the devil of arrogance”; besides that, there are “the devil of the material”, “the devil of the immaterial” and “the devil of exaltation”. Enlightened Machi Ladron classified devils into the four categories, but these are the ones on earth, that is “the devil of ego-fixation”.

First one : the Material Devil

Since beginningless cycles of existence, those with sight undoubtedly perceive form with eyes and develop likes or dislikes; the same applies to ears, nose, tongue and even consciousness. When using the sense organ of sight we cling to what we think is especially nice, and they become the sense objects of eyes.

Some objects are with form, while some are not. Liking develops toward a pleasant form, in this way these images will be imprinted in our mind deeply. These images will be conducive to the memories of our mind. Once we can’t see it anymore, we develop longing; once we discover that irretrievable loss is imminent, aversion and hatred will arise. Therefore, likes and dislikes are intrinsically the same essence with extreme reactions. Clinging to the two reactions of like and dislike is said to be a manifestation of a devil. However, to achieve liberation one must give up or transcend the reactions of like and dislike.

Once clinging to objects as genuine existence develops, no matter good or bad, it will obstruct our sense organs and produce attachment, which is the so-called “Devil of the Material”.

Teaching for non-human beings

You disciples who are possessed of form bodies as well as intermediate beings who possess subtle bodies, today you shall understand that no matter you are gods, ghosts, or spirits, in current circumstance, whether you are happy, sad, depressed, angry, or your mind is tortured with aversion and hatred, these emotions will only cause the extension of your endless suffering in the Bardo or world of the living.

Especially, those who are without human forms, since you are not confined to the bondage of body, naturally you are possessed of six psychic powers, you can freely achieve wherever you want to go. Today your relatives, friends, and descendants come here to place your names on the liberating lotus tablet, definitely they’re expressing piety and gratitude to you, indebted to your nurturing love and kindness. But you shall realize that everything is just like dreams and illusions, you must give up the attachment to the present, and generate strong aspiration from the core of your heart to Avalokiteshvara, Amitabha, gurus, and the three jewels. As long as you understand that the present circumstance and phenomenon are not ultimately real and they are just illusory, you will be liberated soon on the completion day of the liberation activity. All of you shall realize that any attachment to good or bad, true or false, virtue or evil, right or wrong is a devil. Therefore you should forsake all attachment and clinging to this mundane world.

After all, death is just illusory, not absolute reality. Only through Dharma practice can one perceive a glimpse of “emptiness”, generate devotion and recognize that worldly suffering is not substantial, though we still perceive it vividly through our sense organs. In short, we shall abandon any attachment to like and dislike incurred through the sense organs.

Liberating through Triple Mandalas under the Law of Dependent-Arising

During this program we will perform Amitabha puja together with its liberating activity for the deceased, chant the Treasury of Prayers and recite countless Amitabha mantras every day to dedicate merits for the deceased. The point of performing liberating activity for the deceased is to express immense gratitude for our late parents and ancestors. If they are already born in Amitabha Pureland, the virtue we accumulate for them in the living world will facilitate the receiving of teachings from Amitabha as well as attaining enlightenment. If they are reborn as human beings, they will achieve more good luck and happiness.

The merits of liberating the departed can be transformed into accumulations on our own path. If one’s heart becomes more and more tender and flexible to proceed on the path, less and less straining because of it, one gets inconceivable benefits of Amitabha. Besides, once you abandon attachment to the “I or self”, you will be able to transcend attachment to forms, the same concept applies to sense organs such as eyes, ears, noses, tongues, consciousnesses.

“Arya-Samantamukhaparivarta-nama-mahayanasutra” is a scriptural Mahamudra. In this Sutra Buddha Shakyamuni taught “Samadhi or meditative stabilization toward Forms”, which is not different from what I have said “abandoning any attachment and clinging to all forms”. If one is able to forsake such attachments one will attain meditative stabilization toward Forms. The definition of “Samadhi” is very broad, it usually means “concentration”. In order to attain Samadhi toward form, one should be able to internally actualize that every form is not substantial but just like perishable bubbles. Knowing that this solemn outer Mandala arises from the gathering factors of the dedication of disciples, the attentiveness of the guru and the efforts of lamas etc, one will understand dependent-arising. Soon on the day of completion, an unbound fire will be ignite and everything will be burned down to the ground instantly, dissolved in the air and finally return to its original nature of “emptiness”. Bearing this in mind, the devil of the material will naturally be annihilated, and it can be transformed into wisdom.

Second one : the Immaterial Devil

Although in emotions such as dualistic ideas of good and bad there is no genuine obstruction and no genuinely existing object, they can bring real harm if you develop grasping toward them. So they are dangerous. If we fail to use the antidote of correct view and understanding for any arising thought, no matter it is good or bad, eventually it will lead us into non-virtuous action, and thus it is called a devil. Therefore, we shall believe that “ultimately nothing is substantial ”, and reflect upon the supreme truth which Buddha Shakyamuni taught “Every phenomenon is empty”. “Empty” here does not mean nothingness. In essence every phenomenon is without self-entity, and unobtainable, so it is unsubstantial. “Empty” can’t be expressed through languages and words but it can be realized through meditative efforts and by stabilizing your mind and focusing on one place and engaging in the insight meditation. During insight mediation, one reflects upon “What is the reality?” until something is not just like that anymore….

Rest your mind and free it from being disturbed by the stream of thoughts. Try to keep aware, forsake slothfulness and lethargy. Try to abide in the clarity of awareness without conceptualizing any thought or clinging to any good and bad ideas. One who can dwell upon such mental state will attain “Samadhi toward god and devil”. Once an ill-will arises in the mind, try to control it immediately by dispelling it instead of habouring it, then it will disappear by itself.

Third one : the Devil of Exaltation

How to overcome and annihilate the devil of exaltation? Try to contemplate that everything is just like a dream or an illusion. Know that what you think you have possessed, will not accompany you permanently. Only the effect of virtuous and non-virtuous actions you have done will accompany you like your own shadow following wherever you go.

Those who are exulted in exaltation will be greatly benefited if they think it through. Once you have slightly realized that everything is not actually existing, the devil of exaltation will be destroyed immediately. Moreover, whatever you have done for the welfare of sentient beings is also just like dreams or illusions. Realizing such point of view will enable one to subdue the devil of exaltation. We shall practice the six Paramitas without clinging to any virtue we have made, or how much we have offered to the monastery, or expect for any return. Therefore, whatever qualities or virtues occur, no matter when and how they may appear in our mind, in the nature of the non-duality of appearance and mind these virtues or qualities are not genuine ones.

Forth one : the Devil of Arrogance

The devil of Arrogance is the root of those three devils that I mentioned earlier. It is also a way of saying ego-clinging. Although it is very difficult to sever arrogance, it is extremely important to do so. Why is it so difficult? It is because our current society is over- emphasizing self-awareness, human right and freedom so that values of “As long as I enjoy it, I can do whatever I like to do” rampantly. ; Overemphasis on self-identity and self-development, and even seeking potential consciousness through hypnotism will only develop stronger and stronger arrogance in oneself.

Why call self-exaltation a devil? It is because self-exaltation would not allow the attainment of liberation. Clinging to a non-genuine existent self will cause both body and mind afflicted with emotions. In each and every moment we are not willing or ready to remain in nature, to be free of clinging to any thought, but always staying with a mindset, recalling memories, aspiring for the future and seizing all good and bad appearing in the mind. Ordinary people think that these will safeguard the notion of “I exist”, and being in the state free of the habitual mindset is terrible. It’s just like being sent to an isolated island in the vast ocean where one becomes appalled to see no boat or ship at all.

Being in the state free of mindset seems to cause great fear and anxiety in ordinary people, and this results from the obstacle of ego–fixation. So when there is ego, there are devils; on the other hand, when there is no ego, there are no devils. Once there is no ego, there is nothing to be severed or purified, nor is there any fear or terror. One who is willing to contemplate on finding out the root of fear, will find out the most profound secret of life in the process of contemplation. As to what it is like on earth, you shall explore yourself.

The four devils are created from fixation to ego. Therefore the antidote to disturbing emotions, evil obstacles and suffering is to meditate on “egolessness or the lack of self-entity. ” Once you can stay away from the four devils and annihilate them, you will attain liberation. The virtues of this activity for liberating the death will also be well completed.

I hope by citing the explanation of the Four Devils from Machi Ladron, the founder of Chö lineage, you will understand the meaning of performing this liberating activity through triple Mandalas. Concerning the object to be liberated, it is not only intermediate beings, but also the living hearts of human beings as well.

Everything is created by our mind, and whatever is created will eventually return to the mind and disappear. That very instant, and state of returning to the original home is what we are seeking. This home is neither out there, nor inside the body or in-between. It is our primordial awareness. How can we return to the home of primordial awareness? Once the four devils are severed to some extent, genuine freedom and feeling at ease will be achieved.

I hope tonight this teaching for both the living and the dead may make you rejoice and bring you the benefit you want.

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