Seeking Dharma and Guarding Against Maras


Maha Acarya Yang Fo Xing

Instruction given by Shakyamuni Buddha upon passing into Nirvana quotes as follows: “When Shakyamuni Buddha was about to enter Nirvana, he manifested the way to Nirvana in Rajagraha. The Guardian Deity stood up and asked Buddha to teach the Dharma essence of reciting mantras for sentient beings at the Age of the End of Dharma. The Buddha replied: “Sentient beings at the Age of the End of Dharma lack merits. In the Southern Jambudvipa, the evil ghosts and spirits and various Deva Maras will compete to trouble this world. This situation is especially serious in China. Sentient beings with good roots can recite Dharanis to guard against them. But a person who recites Dharanis must have the Four Kinds of Heart—The Pure Heart, the Heart with Utmost Sincerity, the Heart of Diligent Practice and the Heart of Repaying the Four Kinds of Kindness. (The four kinds of kindness refer to the kindness of the Three Jewels, one’s country, one’s parents and the kindness of sentient beings). Only then can he have quick effect in practice.”

It is now the Age of the End of Dharma. Shakyamuni Buddha’s predictions long time ago have been proven true by historical facts. Since 1960s, the figure of international terrorist activities has grown by leaps and bounds, and natural disasters worldwide become more and more serious. Shakyamuni Buddha’s prediction that the evil ghosts and spirits and various Deva Maras would compete to trouble this world refer to such phenomena. Even more serious is the fact that evil Maras and heretics take up this opportunity to disguise themselves as religious believers. They pass off the sham as the genuine, deceiving both themselves and others and causing great confusion to people’s mind. Their actions are detrimental to both the society and people. Examples are quoted hereafter to illustrate this point.

1.  Evil Maras who don’t believe in the Law of Cause and Effect

They enlist fanatic young people to carry out terrorist activities just as what the Magical Wind Dare-to-die Corp in Japan did. They not only bombed buildings, airplanes, cars and trains but also killed innocent people. Such desperadoes hold the belief that they have already got the pass to enter heaven immediately upon death. After they die, they are even crowned as martyrs. Radical presidents of some countries directly supervise and train such terrorists. Companies in some so-called democratic countries either provide or help to manufacture weapons for them. Even the U.S.A, a seemingly powerful country, cannot find a solution to deal with such terrorist activities. Their airplanes were bombed and the barracks in Lebanon were exploded by bombs installed in cars. Even though the U.S sent troops everywhere to show off its military power, the troops had to be withdrawn soon after. Consequently, the terrorists become reckless and completely out of control. 1

2.  Doubts about the so-called Sage with Great Natural Capacity

Page 106 of the book entitled Great Perfection of the Esoteric School by Lu Sheng Yen quotes as follows: “It’s said that the Great Perfection Lineage ceased its transmission in Tibet…Even if a person knows the ritual practice well, he wouldn’t pass it on without meeting a Sage with Great Natural Capacity. The lineage thus ceased its transmission. As a matter of fact, if a man receives the Great Perfection Ritual and is accomplished in the practice…in the country where he lives, there won’t be any disaster caused by the Twenty-eight Constellations. For example, floods and fires will all disappear. Typhoon will reverse its direction and epidemic diseases will be eliminated. This country will enjoy favorable weather, prosperity and peace.”

The author’s comment: Lu emigrated to America many years ago. He boasted himself as a Sage with Great Natural Capacity who is accomplished in the Great Perfection Ritual Practice. Besides, he has granted the title Vajra Guru on many of his followers. They have been cultivating this practice in America for many years. If what is stated in the book were true, America shouldn’t have suffered from any kind of disaster and social problems. However, American News and World Report quotes: “Drugs! Drugs! Drugs! Americans are shocked to find that this enemy has entered their life. Up till now, drugs have split families, damaged people’s health, reduced productive capacity, caused traffic accidents and increased violence in the family…It’s indeed horrible.”2 French News Agency reports: “In 1989, America suffered from terrible drought which was rare to encounter in history. The production of wheat alone was reduced by 0.504 billion tons.”3 American United Press cites: “The number of prisoners in America increased rapidly in the first half of the year with a rate higher than that of any other year, creating a record of 46,000 new prisoners and making the total number of male and female prisoners 673565.”4 Furthermore, as is known to all, San Francisco experienced a devastating earthquake. The big bridge and houses collapsed, and cars got stuck, thus causing heavy casualties. As free sex is prevalent in America, the number of homosexuals increases and Aids spreads… All these phenomena contradict the functions of the Great Perfection Ritual Practices as preached in Lu’s book. People cannot help questioning whether Lu and the so-called Vajra Gurus who got the title from him are accomplished in the practice of the Great Perfection Ritual. If they had been accomplished and if what is written in the book were true, the above-mentioned disasters wouldn’t have happened in America where a Sage with Great Natural Capacity lives. If he is not accomplished in the practice, how can he crown himself as a Sage with Great Natural Capacity”?

3.  People should distinguish authentic masters from heterodox masters in order not to be cheated.

Page 30 of An Elaborate Explanation of the Heart Sutra written by Maha Acarya Feng Da An quotes as follows: “The Awakening of Faith 5 (by Asvaghosa) states: It should be understood that Suchness is the foundation of Samadhi, If a man keeps practicing it, then he will gradually be able to develop countless other kinds of Samadhi. If there is a man who lacks the capacity for goodness, he will be confused by evil Maras, by heretics and by ghosts and spirits even though he practices Dhyana hard. What he experiences in the state of absorbed concentration can be classified into ten types:

a.  Sometimes they (evil Maras, heretics, ghosts and spirits) will appear in dreadful forms. (The author’s comment: Such phenomenon can frighten the practitioner and make him insane.)

b.   At other times they will manifest themselves in the shapes of handsome men and women.    (The author’s comment: It can make him become attached to sensual lust and thus suffer from mental disorder.)

c.   Sometimes they may appear as the images of heavenly beings or Bodhisattvas, and assume as the figures of Tathagatas. (The author’s comment: The false images are not sublime, powerful, compassionate and affectionate. False forms of Bodhisattvas and Buddhas will not radiate pure and powerful lights.)

d.   Or they may appear in the above-mentioned forms, reciting Dharanis or expounding the Six Paramitas and Three Emancipations. They may also discourse on the nonexistence of cause and effect and how the true Nirvana is the state of universal emptiness. (The author’s comment: Lu’s theory is heretic in many ways. For example, he calls the school he founded as Spirit, Celestial and True Buddha School. He confuses the concepts of gods, spirits, celestial, Allah and Buddha. I suspect that Lu himself is unawarely confused by the third and fourth kinds of confusion mentioned above.)

e.   They may make the practitioner suddenly penetrate both the past and future events.

f.   They make him suddenly have the supernatural power to read other people’s mind.

(The author’s comment: The fifth and sixth kinds of confusion can easily confuse people. Lu has many followers probably because he has these two kinds of supernatural powers. Evil Maras, heretics, ghosts and spirits can have five kinds of supernatural powers. But they cannot obtain the Supernatural Insight into the Ending of the Stream of Transmigration. Maras have not eliminated the seeds of greed, anger and stupidity. Once they have supernatural powers, upon seeing hidden treasures, they cannot help craving for them; at the sight of beautiful female Raksasas, they have lustful desires; when they see enemies of previous forms of existence, their hatred grows; They can also be terrified by ferocious monsters. All these phenomena can easily make the practitioner a member of the Maras’ group, who can easily use the supernatural powers to satiate their greed, anger and stupidity. However, the Law of Cause and Effect controls everything, so they end up with falling into evil paths. It is just for this reason that sages in the past always warned practitioners against seeking for supernatural powers. In order to cultivate Samadhi, practitioners must first eliminate the Three Poisons -- greed, anger and stupidity. Once accomplished in the practice, they will have supernatural powers as a natural consequence, and such supernatural powers will not cause them any bad effects.).  


h.   They can make him abandon his fundamental excellent practices toward religious perfection and devote himself to miscellaneous religious acts.

(The author’s comment: All sentient beings, regardless of their social status, have deep-rooted habits hard to eliminate. It becomes Attachment to Ego and causes ignorance, which veils one’s Buddha Nature. The Awakening of Faith quotes: “From within one has the power of  permeation. (This means that Suchness innate in one’s self-nature has the power to permeate into ignorance. He also gets the compassionate blessings and protection from all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.” If one cultivates the Three Secrets by using his own power as the cause, the power of Buddhas as the condition, and with diligence, perseverance and the spirit to keep improving in practice, he can experience the strong and powerful Buddha’s Energies which can eliminate his deep-rooted habits and break his ignorance. Thus, accomplished in Samadhi practice, he can realize the Buddha nature. However, a practitioner will fall into the Mara-path and can hardly expect to be liberated from the bitter sea of life and death on the following conditions: if he is confused by Maras, heretics, ghosts and spirits; if he isn’t single-minded in practice; if he is doubtful; if he is sluggish in both his mind and practice; if he changes his mind constantly; and if he disbelieves orthodox Dharma teachings and cultivates heterodox practice.

Padmasambhava was the first Patriarch of the Tibetan Esoteric School. He lived in this world a long time ago. However, Lu said: “Padmasambhava took me into the Golden Tomb Pagoda and transmitted to me the Great Perfection Ritual Practices. This is the foremost, unsurpassable Buddhayana.” Only Lu himself knows whether his claim is true to the facts or not. If his claim were correct, why would Lu cultivate the Taoist Spirit and Celestial School? Lu even paid his obeisance to Huang Da Xian (a Taoist figure mainly worsihpped in Hong Kong) on his visit to Hong Kong in 1989. Lu defended his action as having the Heart of Undivided Equality. It is natural that different people have different goals in life and it is understandable when ordinary people pay their respect to a Taoist figure. Yet, people would suspect the motivation of a self-crowned Living Buddha who did such things. Buddhism advocates that all sentient beings are equal, which actually means that all sentient beings have Buddha-nature. The Buddhist idea of “treating both one’s foes and kinsmen equally” means that Buddhists should be lenient and compassionate in order to save the world. But people should make the distinctions between different beliefs, different paths and different goals in life. Can one argue that it is the Heart of Undivided Equality when he uses animal flesh sacrifices to offer Huang Da Xian for blessings while another offers fresh flowers and fruits to Buddhas for the liberation from the bitter sufferings of life and death?

Lu paid his obeisance to Huang Da Xian. Naturally, his disciples would follow suit. In this manner, Lu’s action conforms to the ninth type of confusion mentioned above.)

An Elaborate Explanation of the Heart Sutra by Maha Acarya Feng Da An quotes as follows: “Tripitaka Master Xuan Zang of the T’ang Dynasty finished the translation of the book A Guide for Yogacarya-bhumii-sastra in the Year Twenty-two of the Zhen Guan Period. The emperor was greatly pleased and told his attendants: “Buddhism is indeed great, like looking up to the sky and down to the ocean. It’s too profound to penetrate. How ridiculous it is for people to say that the three kinds of religions (Buddhism, Confucianism and Taoism) are equal. In the winter of the same year, Emperor Tai Zong ordered Master Xuan Zang to translate the Taoist text Dao De Jing (by the founder of the Taoist School Lao Zi) into Sanskrit so that it could be introduced to India. Master Xuan Zang said: “Lao Zi’s theory is too superficial. It will become a laughing –stock for Indians.” Thus, the emperor decided not to have Lao Zi’s book translated.”)

j.   Sometimes they may cause him to remain in the state of concentration for one, two, and three, or up to seven days, feeling comfort in his body and joy in his mind, being neither hungry nor thirsty, partaking of natural, fragrant, and delicious drinks and foods, which induce him to increase his attachment to them; or at other times they may cause him to eat without any restraint, now a great deal, now only a little, so that the colour of his face changes accordingly.

k.   (The author’s comment: A practitioner worshipped Lu after reading his book and prayed for Lu’s initiation over the distance. He was not a well-educated man and he did not practice much either. He said that he had no appetite for food and drinks and he didn’t want to work lately. His face turned gray and dark. He even prayed to Lu for granting him the title of Vajra Guru and fantasized about having a consort in practicing the esoteric rituals.)

The Awakening of Faith also quotes: “A practitioner should know that these ten kinds of state of concentration are not Samadhi because the heretics still cling to the perverse view of an ego as reality, abandon the Equality Wisdom and are covetously attached to fame, profit, and the respect of the world.

(The author’s comment: After Mr.He, Mr.Chen and Mr.Liu read the previous section of the article, they told me: “This article is very important. Nowadays, some people have attained the above-mentioned states in practicing Qi Gong. They are proud of reaching such states of Maras. Some even have gone crazy. For example, not long ago, two students from a medical university had attained certain states mentioned above. They were so excited that they couldn’t help telling other people. Later, one of them climbed up the Pagoda in the Temple of the Six Banyan Trees in Guangzhou and jumped into the air. With the intention of flying high, he fell to the ground and was seriously injured. The other went up to the roof of a building to practice the so-called Magical Qi Gong. With the same desire to fly, he jumped into the air, fell down to the ground and died immediately.)

4.  Doubts about the Five Defilement Initiation

uot;;mso-fareast-font-family: ;mso-bidi-font-family:"Times New Roman";mso-font-kerning:1.0pt;mso-ansi-language: EN-US;mso-fareast-language:ZH-CN;mso-bidi-language:AR-SA">Page 42 of the book by Lu quotes: “The first initiation is called Form Initiation…Padmasambhava said in the Form Initiation beautiful women could be used to test practitioners. When this kind of initiation is given to the practitioner, a beautiful woman dances with tempting movements of the body in front of him. However, the practitioner should not be enticed at the sight of the beautiful woman. He should take the physical form as illusory and wouldn’t be tempted in any way. Even if he embraces the woman, he wouldn’t be lured.

(The author’s comment: Only Lu himself knows whether Padmasambhava told him such words or not. Lu must be fully responsible for serious consequences caused by his false assumption if he makes up such stories. Even if he had been instructed in this way, he should not have revealed it to the public. It’s the Age of the End of Dharma and sentient beings lack merits. Heretics outnumber people with pure mind. What are Lu’s intentions when he reveals the Five Defilement Initiation? A practitioner had a fantasy after he read Lu’s book. He wanted to ask a woman to be his consort. As the woman refused him, his ulterior motive was exposed to the public. With the publicity of the Five-Defilement Initiation, phenomena like this can spread widely, causing great harm to the people and the society. Such practice will be declared illegal and banned by Public Security Bureau.

 The Vimalakirti Sutra quotes: “It’s indeed rare for lotus blossoms to bloom in fire. It’s also rare for one with lust to practice Dhyana. He may manifest in the form of a licentious woman to entice sensual people, with the intention of making them develop Buddha wisdom by tempting them with desire.” However, he in this verse refers to a Dharmakaya Mahasattva. A person can perform such actions only if he has attained the state of Suchness as Intrinsic Void. Such an action is an expedient means to convert sentient beings, and he is not defiled by adverse environment like a pure lotus blossom in black mire. Ordinary beings cannot confuse cause with the effect so as not to reap bad karmic effect.)

 “The second type is Sound Initiation… Padmasambhava Guru pointed out: “When some Gurus give initiation, they will play the most pleasant sounds to you first. Then they play the sounds of flowing water to cleanse the wonderful sounds. The clear flowing waster washes away the decadent sounds. This is called as the Purity of the Ear.”

 “The third type is Smell Initiation. The Guru has prepared two objects with one emitting exceptional fragrance while the other stinking unbearably. He asks his followers to inhale the two kinds of smell in turn. When a practitioner reaches the stage where he cannot smell either the fragrance or the stench, he has attained the Purity of Nose. This is Smell Initiation.”

 “The fourth type is Taste Initiation. The Guru holds one spicy food (hot pepper) to numb your tongue first. You are then told to taste one hundred kinds of flavors. When you feel these flavors are tasteless, you have reached the state of Purity of the Tongue.

 (The author’s comment: According to Lu’s theory of Smell and Taste Initiation, can we say a patient has realized the Purity of the Body when he is unconscious after being given anaesthesia by doctors before his operation? However, such situation is just contrary to Praja Paramita. Page 65 of An Elaborate Explanation of the Heart Sutra by Maha Acarya Feng Da An quotes as follows: “Prajna Paramita is Non-discriminating Wisdom. However, the word Non-discriminating is not a generalized or ambiguous term. It refers to the wonderful state one experiences after the Perception (one of the four functions of the mind, Jian Fen in Chinese) derived from his consciousness merges into his self-nature which in turn merges into the true-nature of the Great Void. At this stage, his true-nature will work ceaselessly with many sublime, clear and wonderful internal realizations. Mahayana-samparigraha-sastra quotes: “Such non-discriminating wisdom must be free from the five kinds of phenomena in order to correspond to the self-nature…It must be free from the Phenomenon of Inactive Situations, such as slumber, intoxication and coma. A person in such situations seems to have no discrimination. As a matter of fact, his mind had ceased functioning and he is like a dead man at that moment. This is contrary to Prajna Paramita. Therefore, practitioners must detach themselves from such phenomena.” The Smell Initiation and Fragrance Initiation as instructed by Lu are Inactive Phenomena because in the first situation the practitioner cannot differentiate fragrance and stench while in the second situation his tongue is numb. People with just a little bit wisdom can distinguish true from false and orthodox teachings from heretic doctrines if they compare the Buddhist teachings with Lu’s instructions.  

 “The fifth type is Touch Initiation…” (This type of initiation will not be discussed here)

 5.  Don’t boast or cheat the public by one’s claptrap.

 Page 12 of the book by Lu quotes: “Today, disciples who are converted to me are all Dharma Princes who are bound to accomplish the supreme Bodhi.”

 (The author’s comment: Buddhism is objective truth. The sages who spread Buddhism all speak from the facts. Their explanations of Buddhist teachings befit people’s understanding and conform to the real meanings of Buddhist doctrines. Therefore, Buddhism is still popular after its transmission for thousands of years. Lu’s book is full of evil ideas and boastful words. This has been analyzed in previous paragraphs. Lu’s arrogance will be revealed hereafter. In the Vimalakirti Sutra, only Manjusri Dharma Prince could lead Buddha’s other disciple to visit Layman Vimalakirti when he was ill. Even Sariputra--the one with the highest wisdom didn’t dare to call himself a Dharma Prince. Are Lu’s followers Dharma Princes? He had better list their names. Which one of Lu’s followers has higher wisdom if compared with Sariputra? Who can comprehend the meaning of Void better than Subhuti?)

 Page 12 of the book by Lu quotes: “I (The Lotus-Born Guru) is the first man to know Vajrapani Bodhisattva well. I’m the first and foremost man to understand the Three Secrets. I know Vajrapani Bodhisattva the best, like Vajrasattva…”

 (The author’s comment: According to Buddhist sutras, Nagajuna Bodhisattva was born with Buddha’s prediction. He once went to the Dragon Palace at the bottom of the ocean to read sutras. Therefore, he brought back with him the Avatamsaka Sutra to this world. Lu also claimed that he had been to the Dragon Palace to read sutras. What are the titles of the sutras he read and what are they about? Nagajuna Bodhisattva recited the Mahavairocana mantra and in his Samadhi he saw that Vairocana Buddha manifested in the space, showing him sentences and chapters of the sutra. The Buddhas ordered him to take the words down. After Nagajuna recorded them, Vairocana Buddha disappeared. Thus, he transmitted the book The Dharma Essence of Reciting Vairocana Sutra to the world. Besides, in his Samadhi Nagajuna Bodhisattva saw Esoteric treasures stored in the Iron Tower in southern India. By using his supernatural powers, he circumambulated the iron tower reciting Vairocana Mantra for seven days and nights. Then, with seven seeds of white mustard, he opened the gate of the tower and entered. He received initiation from Vajrasattva Bodhisattva and became the First Patriarch of the Esoteric School in this world. He brought back from the tower two sutras: the Vairocana Sutra and the Vajrasekhara Sutra. People are convinced of the truth of Nagajuna Bodhisattva’s supreme deeds as they can be proven both in theory and by real objects. Except for boastful words, what evidence can Lu use to prove his claim?  He even had the nerve to boast that he was the first man to know Vajrapani Bodhisattva best, and that he was the foremost one to understand the Three Secrets. Can Lu have greater achievements than Nagajuna Bodhisattva? What an arrogant and conceited person he is!

 Since ancient times, accomplished masters and sages were mostly modest, cautious people who wouldn’t reveal their real identity easily. Those who met them didn’t know who they actually were, and those who knew their real identity couldn’t meet them. As Bodhidharma didn’t have an agreeable conversation with Emperor Wu of the Liang Dynasty when they met, he left the emperor in a huff, crossed the Yangtze River on one reed, arrived at the Shao Lin Temple and sat in front of a hall meditating for nine years. When Master Bao Zhi told Emperor Wu that Bodhidharma was the reincarnation of Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva (Guan Yin), the emperor was greatly surprised and felt deep remorse. He issued the imperial order to invite Bodhidharma to visit him again in the capital. However, Bodhidharma put the imperial edict aside. As the emperor had not paid due respect to the Mahasattva, he felt regretful for his whole life, Further, Master Du Shun was the incarnation of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva. Manjusri Bodhisattva manifested himself as Master Han Shan and Amitabha Buddha as Master Feng Gan. When Master Feng Gan told other people these two great masters were actually the manifestations of Bodhisattvas, they left the world one by one. They did not claim like Lu, who said: “I was entrusted with a great mission by Amitabha Buddha to come to this world.”

Finally, some people raised question after they read the previous section of this article: “How can practitioners guard evil Maras in the course of reciting Dharanis, meditating and practicing rituals? If they have attained certain states, how can they distinguish real internal realizations from false ones?

 The author’s reply: Handbook for Esoteric Practitioners quotes: “Practitioners must receive from an orthodox and authentic Guru the Three Secrets in the proper ways required by esoteric rituals… Otherwise, practicing the Three Secrets without receiving them from such a Guru is regarded as the action of Stealing Dharma. The one who gives the initiation has committed evils and the one who receives it won’t benefit. However, practitioners who received the orthodox ritual practices in their previous lives are exception. Even though the Guru is not an authentic one, their merits accumulated in past lives could be revived by the initiation.” When the practitioner receives orthodox Three Secrets from an authentic Guru, if he has the four kinds of Heart -- Pure Heart, the Heart with Utmost Sincerity, the Heart of Diligent Practice, and the Heart of Repaying the Four Kinds of Kindness, and if he gets the blessings from Tathagatas and protection form the Guardian Deities in proper practice, naturally he can ward off the disturbance and confusion of Maras. If he keeps on practicing in this way, he can gradually reach the stage “when one’s heart is pure, the Buddha land is pure.” One’s mind is closely related to his appearance. For those who have attained the right concentration of mind, their will power, character, intelligence, appearance and merits (it is also blessing when one is punished less severely for his grave sins) will improve. Many practitioners have proven the truth with their practice. On the contrary, if a practitioner has reverse results from his practice, he must guard against such realizations.

 To sum up, sentient beings at the Age of the End of Dharma lack merits. Devoted practitioners wishing to be liberated from the mutual karmic deeds created by people should bear the following two rules in mind. First, they must know themselves well. They should face the evil karmic deeds created through their deep-rooted habits. They should constantly retrospect, repent over and rectify their improper deeds and thoughts. They should be very strict with themselves and take the Four Kinds of Heart as guidelines for their daily life and thinking. When they practice diligently, on such foundation, they can gradually eliminate karmic obstructions, increase their merits and improve their wisdom. On the other hand, they must know other people well. Only in this way can they guard against mean people, get close to good teachers and helpful friends, receive orthodox Dharmas and benefit from the kind blessings and protection of enlightened masters. When their utmost sincerity penetrates the hardest gold rock, they can receive Buddhas’ Energies. Thus, they can accomplish the Samadhi practice quickly and realize Bodhi soon. Devoted esoteric practitioners should reverently read Handbook for Esoteric Practitioners by Maha Acarya Feng Da An. It is the lamp pointing the right path for esoteric practitioners.

1. The Readers, Issue !0, 1990, Lan Zhou Publishing House

2. American News and World Reports, Sep. 10, 1989.

3. French News Agency, Aug. 23, 1989.

4. The United Press, Sep. 10, 1989.

5. The Awakening of Faith, English version translated by Yoshito Hakeda, Shin Wen Feng Print Co., 1993


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