Chenian Commentary on the Tantric Ritual of Avalokitesvara White and Red, Volume I


The Buddhist Yogi C. M. Chen

The Tantric Ritual of Avalokitesvara White and Red, Volume I

Part I. Translated Ritual from Tibetan Doctrine

Part II. The Chenian Commentary on the above Ritual

Section I Visualize the Sunyata Chapter I: Sunyata

A. Repeat the following Sunyata incantation:

A. The meaning of the Sunyata incantation

B. Visualize all the ten Dharmadhatus dissolved into their nature of Sunyata.

B. Keeping the meaning in mind

Section II Visualize the Palace of Avalokitesvara (Mandala)

C. How can the Sunyata produce the bija words as HUM, BOM, and ROM?

Section III Visualize Oneself as the Yidam of Avalokitesvara

D. How may all the things surrounding the mandala and the body of the Yidam appear in the Sunyata?

Section IV Visualize the Wisdom Yidam Who is in the Position of Consequence of Avalokitesvara

E. How is it possible to invite the real wisdom Yidam to come from his Pure Land to this Saha world and unite with the practitioner's visualized Yidam?

Section V Initiate the Yidam

F. How is it possible to receive the initiation?

A. Repeat the Incantation of Initiation:

G. What do the four words mean and how are they connected to Sunyata?

B. Visualize all the five Dhyani Buddhas descending from their Pure Land and coming into the body of the and coming into the body of the Yidam i.e. the practitioner, and becoming oneness.

H. Why is the offering made and how does it connect with Sunyata?

Section VI Offerings to the Yidam and his Witnesses

I. In exoteric ritual, one offering is one; two, two.

A. Outward Offerings

J. What is the Incantation of Sunyata?

B. Inward Offerings

K. Why return to the Sunyata?

C. Secret Offerings

L. How Can the Sunyata Produce the Reappearance of the Yidam?

D. Most Secret Offerings

M. How May One's Merit be Given out to Others?

Section VII Praise the Yidam

Chapter II: Great Compassion

Section VIII Visualize the Incantations

A. How does the first section of Sunyata visualization contribute to the welfare of sentient beings and guide them under the Yidam's Great Compassion?

Section IX Repentance

B. How is the second section of visualization of the mandala a practice of Great Compassion?

A. Repeat the Vajrasattva incantation as taught in the Four Foundations of Tibetan Tantra.

The Tantric Ritual of Avalokitesvara White and Red, Volume II

B. Think of the meaning of these one hundred words.

Chapter III: Light and Its Colors

Section X Offering again. Same as Section VI. Chapter IV: Summary of the Commentary
Section XI Praise again. Same as Section VII. Chapter V: Realizations
Section XII Return to the Sunyata Nature

A.The realization is concerned only with the ritual and not its higher extension.

Section XIII Reappearance of the Yidam

B.The realization is concerned with the upward extension course.

Section XIV Turn the Merit to Sentient Beings


Chenian Commentary on the Tantric Ritual of Avalokitesvara White and Red, Volume I

Part I. Translated Ritual from Tibetan Doctrine

Section I Visualize the Sunyata

A. Repeat the following Sunyata incantation:


B. Visualize all the ten Dharmadhatus dissolved into their nature of Sunyata.

Section II Visualize the Palace of Avalokitesvara (Mandala)

In the Sunyata, there is a word HUM [ ] which suddenly appears. It shines with holy light. In that light, there are two vajras crossed. Its size just covers the foundation of the ten Dharmadhatus. Above the crossed vajras there is a vast lotus, the Mandala is established: Around the outside of the mandala, there are walls. From the outside these are, in the following order, skull walls, vajra walls and lotus walls to protect the Mandala. Out of these three kinds of walls, there are five elements in the form of flames.

In the center of the Mandala, there is a reddish three-dimensional triangle standing on its apex. The upper part of this triangle is as wide as the whole mandala.

Section III Visualize Oneself as the Yidam of Avalokitesvara

In the center of this triangle in three dimensions is the word BOM. It transforms itself into a white lotus. Lying on the lotus is the word ROM transforming itself into a sun, on which there is a reddish HRI. (Some other rituals have a moon on the lotus. Red Avalokitesvara may visualize a sun, White Avalokitesvara a moon, says the commentator.)

From HRI the practitioner becomes the Yidam Avalokitesvara White (or Red). He has one head, four arms, with the upper two arms folded and holding a gem, and the lower pair holding a rosary in the right hand and a lotus in the left.

If he is reddish, he embraces his Dakini named "Secret Wisdom," who is pink. She has only two arms. The right one holds a knife aloft and the left one holds a skull full of nectar of great pleasure, offering it to her consort. Their reproductive organs are connected in a great pleasure Samadhi.

Section IV Visualize the Wisdom Yidam Who is in the Position of Consequence of Avalokitesvara

The practitioner who visualized himself as the Avalokitesvara is in the position of cause, hence he should unite with the one in the consequence position and be witnessed by the latter.


and visualize the Yidam in the position of consequence coming into the body of the practitioner. They are in Oneness. Hereafter the practitioner should not think of himself as a human being as before. He should have the Holy Pride as if to say, "I am the real Avalokitesvara; I must do something to save every sentient being here as well as does Avalokitesvara in the Pure Land." One who has taken the White Avalokitesvara should visualize the white wisdom one to come; Red, red to come!

Section V Initiate the Yidam

A. Repeat the Incantation of Initiation:


B. Visualize all the five Dhyani Buddhas descending from their Pure Land and coming into the body of the Yidam i.e. the practitioner, and becoming oneness. Their symbols are shown on the head of the Yidam. They become a crown which is called the Five Buddhas Precious Crown in which the five heads of the Buddhas are the ornaments. As Avalokitesvara is the great Bodhisattva, awaiting his destiny to fill the vacancy of Buddha of the Western Pure Land Amitabha, so on his tuft "usnisa" he has the head of Amitabha.

Section VI Offerings to the Yidam and his Witnesses

As the practitioner has become the Yidam and has been witnessed by the five Buddhas, so he deserves the offerings of eight things in general, and some special things in particular, as much as can be prepared or visualized.

A. Outward Offerings:

1. Repeat the eight offerings incantation: OM AVALOKITESVARA, SA BA RI VA RA, AH GON, BAH DON, BU BA, DO BA. AH RU GA, GAN DAN, RU WE DA, DRA ZA HUM

2. Visualize the eight offerings, viz., water to rinse the mouth, water to drink (Indians used to drink a water which was not exactly tea), flowers, incense, a light or lamp, perfume to put on hands and body, food, and music. All are of the best quality and in numberless quantity, as many as the clouds in the sky.

B. Inward Offerings:

1. Repeat the three vajra words: OM AH HUM.

2. In a skull made into a vessel, place some brandy and sugar. After repeating the three vajra words, it becomes nectar and also every kind of meat. Offer both to the Yidam and Buddhas to drink and eat.

C. Secret Offerings:

1. Repeat the great pleasure incantation: OM MAHA SUKHA HUM.

2. Visualize the beautiful young Dakini embracing the Yidam and giving offering to Him with deep gnostic pleasure. If you are the Red Avalokitesvara, the Secret Wisdom Dakini should also receive offerings from some visualized handsome young Bodhisattvas.

D. Most Secret Offerings:

1. Repeat the Dharmakaya bija OM

or the incantation of Adi Buddha: OM DHARMADHATU AH

2. Visualize the Dharmadhatu's light which is like the autumn sky, without a cloud. If you are the Red Yidam, visualize the light shining out from between the two privates of the Yidam.

Section VII Praise the Yidam

A. For both Red and White:

In the great transmigration-ocean,
So far have you sailed the great steamer;
Many sentient beings have come on it,
May I also have such a manner!

B. For White Yidam:

Without pollution, you are so pure and white,
With a mind full of compassion and rectitude.
For saving every sentient being I pray;
Do bless us and grant the salvational might.
Any kind of hymn may be added here!

Section VIII Visualize the Incantations

In the Yidam's heart there is the white lotus on which there is the moon lying like a mattress. In the center of the moon there is the bija (seed word) HRI which is reddish. Around this bija on the edge of the moon there stands the incantation. If it is White Yidam, his incantation is called Six-Words-Great-Vidya (enlightenment): OM MA NI PAD ME HUM

If it's red, before the Six Words there are four words which altogether make ten words: OM A HUM HRI OM MA NI PAD ME HUM.

A. Repeat this at least 108 times, the more the better.

B. Visualize each word in its own special color of light shining out to the six realms of sentient beings. If it is the Red Yidam, the four foregoing words also shine some Holy Light from four kinds of holy beings to bless the six realms. These, A. and B., may be practiced alternately or simultaneously, if possible. Visualize again that after the six realms receive the light and hear the incantations, they all become Yidams. They all repeat the same incantation and shine the same light as well as the practitioner has done.

Section IX Repentance

A. Repeat the Vajrasattva incantation as taught in the Four Foundations of Tibetan Tantra (Booklet No. 70). It is in One Hundred Words and is known by that name (See Part II of this Commentary, Chapter IV.)

HA HA HA HA HO (11),

B. Think of the meaning of these one hundred words (See commentary).

Then one must keep one's concentration here for a long time until some disturbed delusion is finished. Then visualize this little hair also dissolved in the Sunyata, and keep the concentration on the Sunyata as long as possible.

Section XIII Reappearance of the Yidam

When one prepares to leave his seat and do some good karma for sentient beings, one must visualize again that one is like the fish who was in the bottom of the enlightened ocean. Now it jumps up to the surface and one becomes the yidam very clearly. Whatever the Yidam Avalokitesvara should do for the sentient beings, the practitioner should do as well.

Section XIV Turn the Merit to Sentient Beings

All that I have practiced
May be of little merit,
To all the sentient beings;
Whose minds may be fit it!

Part II. The Chenian Commentary on the above Ritual

Chapter I: Sunyata

A. The meaning of the Sunyata incantation is that all Dharma or phenomena are pure, clean, and without selfish defilement; I myself am also pure and clean without ego defilement.

B. Keeping the meaning in mind, one should visualize both the inside and outside of one's body; there is only Oneness in Sunyata, which is pure and holy in nature. But one must know also that Sunyata is one thing with two sides. The back side is in itself void as the bright mirror, while its face reflects something, as the shadow in the mirror. The former is called the Sunyata of nature. When a holy being such as a Buddha, a Bodhisattva or the accomplished practitioner is dissolved in the static samadhi of voidness, he is said to be in the samadhi of the Sunyata nature. Such a samadhi is also termed the fundamental samadhi. While the latter is when Buddha appears as a shadow in the mirror and he does something for sentient beings; he is then in a dynamic samadhi of Sunyata condition of function; he is said to be in the samadhi of final attainment. Thus two kinds of samadhi are identified. Yet for the beginner, they may be practiced separately. This is why one sometimes lays the most stress on the practice of the samadhi of nature, while at other times, the samadhi of condition. When a person is accomplished, these two kinds of samadhi cannot be separated. They are always identical in the realization.

In this ritual, say in every ritual of Tibetan Buddhism and in every school, the starting point of the first section is the practice of Sunyata nature. From that nature the HUM appears, which is in the second section, until all the successive visualizations are reabsorbed into the Sunyata nature; they all belong to their Sunyata conditions, without which the function of the Great Compassion of Avalokitesvara will not occur.

C. How can the Sunyata produce the bija words as HUM, BOM, and ROM?

Sunyata on the one hand is of nothing; but on the other hand, is of everything. When the practitioner is in his static meditation, it is the Sunyata of nothing; when he is going to help sentient beings in his dynamic meditation, it is the Sunyata which is of everything.

HUM is divided into five parts. For the convenience of saving descriptions, I do not point out all the five parts separately. In short, these five parts denote the five holy elements and the five holy wisdoms. All the seven essences are the factors of function. Hence HUM appears before other things which are to be visualized later on.

Because every Dharma is itself void, without self, the five elements and wisdoms are also void. When they have not been practiced for the purpose of saving sentient beings, the five parts abide in the nature of Sunyata; while they are utilized by Buddhas, Bodhisattvas or practitioners, their five parts will be employed and function from their Sunyata of conditions.

BOM is the element water from which the lotus grows. ROM is the element fire from which the sun gathers warmth and light. Each has its own function which is the condition of Sunyata.

Each function may appear during a visualization made by the practitioner. It may also be reabsorbed under the person's meditative force.

Through long hard practice of the visualization of the symbols such as the Bijas, they may become very clear to the practitioner and even to persons close to him. But if they have not been identified with the philosophic background of Sunyata conditions, such appearances would not function very well. This is why many practice this ritual for a long time, but few have identified with the Sunyata. Thus many persons can only obtain some small merit from repetition and few persons completely accomplish the enlightenment of Avalokitesvara, which is to say, his salvation. Recognition and understanding of this commentary is absolutely essential.

D. How may all the things surrounding the mandala and the body of the Yidam appear in the Sunyata?

The body of the Yidam is the body of wisdom which is of Sunyata. When the body of the Yidam disappears, it returns to the nature of Sunyata, just like ice returns to water when it is dissolved by sunshine. When water freezes, it becomes ice. As the Yidam has no ego, there is no obstacle to his appearance and disappearance.

For the same reason, the mandala is also of the wisdom that is of Sunyata. Under some conditions, certain Dharma shall be spread and certain persons will be converted. It all appears from the Sunyata nature. Just as Milarepa's time had come and his initiation was granted, the mandala of Sambara had been shown in his guru Marpa's realization. When all the conditions of salvation are completely fulfilled, the mandala may disappear.

E. How is it possible to invite the real wisdom Yidam to come from his Pure Land to this Saha world and unite with the practitioner's visualized Yidam?

The Yidam in the position of consequence is of Sunyata and the one in the position of cause is also of Sunyata. It is like adding milk to milk, they become Oneness.

If the practitioner's visualization is not clear, or if he has not recognized the Sunyata of nature as pervading his entire body, or if his samadhi has not yet attained the skill to make the abstract visualization into the concrete embodiment of the Yidam, it surely cannot succeed at that time; only through very frequent practice of Sunyata and visualization, will his attainment of a Yidam succeed sooner or later. Hence the meditation of Sunyata in the course of Mahayana is a most important foundation. One should practice it before receiving the initiation of Tantra. If one has not yet practiced, he should make some complementary practice for the realization of Sunyata and unite it with his Tantric practice. This commentary simply warns of this necessity, which is neglected by many practitioners, even in Tibet.

F. How is it possible to receive the initiation?

The Yidam in the consequence position who is the bestower of the initiation is the same entity in Sunyata as the Yidam in the causal position, who is the recipient of the initiation. They are in the same nature as Buddhahood. It is just like the emperor who is able to give the empire to his son, the prince. There is no question.

Plus the Great Compassion of the real Yidam, Avalokitesvara, is always sending his merciful light to every sentient being. The practitioner who has visualized Avalokitesvara in the causal position might be inspired immediately for the Yidam as practiced and visualized by the practitioner has more or less the same characteristics as the real one. Through long practice of this ritual, they will be harmonized by the skillful practitioner who recognizes this philosophy and has a deep samadhi to hold both the visualization and the right view of Sunyata.

G. What do the four words mean and how are they connected to Sunyata?

The meaning of the incantation of initiation eventually reveals itself in the visualization!

It can be explained in brief as "All Buddhas, give me the initiation in accord with your original vows." What are the meanings of the four separate words? The following statement is the answer:

TZA means welcome.

HUM means they are close to the head of the practitioner.

BON means united with the practitioner as water which comes into water. They come into the body.

HO means harmonized without differentiation. They and the practitioner become Oneness.

These four words and their visualization are common to every Yidam. The white one is the same as the red one.

Outwardly, the red has the same meaning as the white above, but they only belong to the outward visualization. Usually they are explained by the Yogic Tantra as four things, viz., Vajra Hook, Vajra Lock, Vajra String and Vajra Bell. But the red one has other special meanings.

Inwardly when one utters TZA, the right arm of the Dakini "Secret Wisdom" should encircle the neck of Avalokitesvara. When HUM is uttered, the left arm touches Avalokitesvara tightly; at BOM, the right leg should encircle Avalokitesvara, and when HO is uttered, the left leg and the whole body is close to Avalokitesvara.

Secretly, when one utters TZA, the Vajra of Avalokitesvara touches the small goddess who guards the outer door (of the anus) and offers it to her. When one utters HUM, the Vajra should be offered to the eight goddesses outside the Lotus of the "Secret Wisdom" Dakini. At the utterance of BOM the Vajra should be offered to the Lotus inside. Utter HO and the secret nerve of the Lotus should be inserted into the small hole (the ejaculatory duct, urethra) of the Vajra and they both become oneness. The Vajra is in the Lotus and the Lotus nerve is in the Vajra, and both participants experience very great pleasure in their vajra love samadhi in the fourth kind of Tantric Sunyata.

For the beginner who has only this ritual but not the third great initiation of vajra love, these last two kinds of visualization are not necessary. For increasing interest and encouraging the beginner to progress faster, I comment a little more here.

H. Why is the offering made and how does it connect with Sunyata?

After the initiation is accomplished, there is no differentiation between these two Yidams. They should be given offerings even though the offerer and the recipient of the offering are one and the same. Why should the offering be performed in such a relationship? It is because subjectivity and objectivity may be in oneness or vice versa. Both are in the Sunyata and the subjective offering is for sentient beings and not for oneself. The objective receiver who accepts the offering does it also for sentient beings and for the practitioner. Otherwise he has no need of such worldly things. Christians use such pretext for offering nothing to their Trinity but in my humble opinion that merciful God would accept worldly offerings for increasing the merits of sentient beings or of His Creatures. That is why every Christmas I offer a fire sacrifice to Jesus whom I must cooperate with to propagate Buddhism in the West.

Furthermore, when one is making an offering, one must visualize every kind of offering as a sign of the Sunyata condition.

Water has no ego. The first one among the seven offerings is for washing or for rinsing the mouth; the second one is for drinking. They are eventually the same quality. The water can become ice and soup. It can make wine or spirits; it can make urine. It can become a mountain of ice such as the Arctic or Antarctic iceberg. It can make oceans such as the Pacific and Atlantic.

The Sanskrit word "Saindhava" means water, but there are also three other meanings of this same word. Beside water, it may also signify salt, vessel or horse. When the emperor asks for "Saindhava" the attendant must consider the emperor's need at the moment. He must understand the context so as to provide the exact proper thing. If the emperor is going to wash, he must offer water; when eating, he must offer salt. If the emperor is drinking, the attendant must offer the vessel; and when the emperor is preparing to go out, he must be offered the horse. So language has no ego, but has correct function or usage only under conditions (or in context). This is what the Sunyata of water is.

A flower also has no ego. Sometimes the flower is in the leaves, as in the Begonia Rex, Andraenum Lindle and Putz Antherium. Sometimes it is in the fruit, as in the Lotus. Some are fragrant, some stink, and some have no smell at all. Some are double and last for many days, while others open in the morning and fade away by evening. Every flower is a sign of the Sunyata in nature and is also lovable under some temporal condition.

Incense sticks have no ego. The Nyingmapa School emphasizes its own formula for making them. Other schools have their own special ingredients which they, too, prefer. The incense stick may be yellow in color, or reddish, or black. It may be long or short, large or small. It may be mixed with silver or gold powder and be very dear in price, while others may be quite cheap. One cannot say that in only such a size and in such a color and in such a proportion is the real incense found.

Lamps have no ego. They are also Sunyata in nature and have differences in conditions. They can be made of gold or silver or brass. Who can say whether the light is coming from the oil, the wick or the lamp itself? Men usually notice only the outward quality and call it "the gold lamp" or "the brass lamp." If it has no light, could it be called a lamp at all? Should a lamp be known according to its quality only? If so, when we take the silver from the lamp and make it into a bowl using it to store rice or wheat, where is the lamp then? Different oils such as butter, vegetable oil or mustard oil should be used in accordance with one's purpose for prayer. Some are for increasing wisdom, others for getting rid of sins. The wick is usually of a thin stick wound around with cotton, but for increasing wealth, instead of cotton, one may use gold foil. Hence it is not the specific material which is the real lamp, but only by meeting certain conditions does a lamp possess the Sunyata condition.

Arghya (a scented, medicinal powder made to put on hands, face and skin) is also Sunyata. Before putting it into water, the water is water. After the scent disappears, it loses the name of Arghya. The perfume used by the ancient Indian sages was different from that used in the Japanese Tantric School. I use the perfume "Paris Evening Queen" or "1177" which may also be called Arghya. Recently a friend sent me a bottle of "Calandre" made by Paco Rabanne in Paris. Who can say I am too modernized! Arghya may be made by using one or several various flowers with a good smell. Each kind of Arghya has its own recipe. Yet not one of them could be proud of his own scent and reject others.

Food has no self. It is also Sunyata. According to Tibetan custom, a type of cookie called "Tzo" is made from flour. It is made in different forms with various decorations for different Yidams. These ornaments have different colors and designs and forms according to the habit or heritage of the school. Some are mixed with white sugar, some brown sugar, some honey. A red triangular Tzo denotes a meat offering to the wrathful deities; a white triangular Tzo symbolizes a vegetable offering to the peaceful deities. For the Protectors, black color must be used and the recipe calls for the use of poison things. I remember the biography of the incarnation of Six-Armed Mahakala who was the first emperor of the Yuan Dynasty of China. He used to send his attendants out to collect poisonous insects and animals such as cobras, serpents, scorpions and centipedes for his dinner. Nectar may become poison in Vajra Love mis-practiced; most of the Tantric methods are misused as poison. Poison may become nectar, as the sages have transformed it. Hence, there is no certainty in food. This is why I say food is of Sunyata. Those Tzos are like the play of children who make many kinds of mudpies in different forms, still only flour and sugar. It proves every kind of food is of Sunyata. When one knows this, one will not fall into egoism, pride, prejudice and volition.

Music is obviously of Sunyata and more easily comprehended than the other kinds of offerings. All the musical instruments denote Sunyata. Consider the wisest Buddhess or the Dakini of Voice, Saraswati, who is a virgin in Hinduism, but married Manjusri after her conversion to Buddhism. Both were skillful in wisdom, but she especially comprehended the Sunyata through her understanding of her musical instrument, the vina, an Indian instrument like a lute. My guru Rona Rinpoche used to explain the truth of Sunyata with the vina. The sound of music is neither from the sounding gourd, nor from the strings, nor from the fingers, but is from all these conditions together. Were any of these conditions lacking, no musical sound could be produced.

In a modern musical instrument such as the organ, we may also perceive the Sunyata. Each note in the diatonic scale has its relative pitch but no absolute one. Different keys will use different notes to start with as the tone "do" and then the next note to follow will be "re." Thus (in solmization) each note in a scale may bear the same name but have a different tone, depending upon the scale being played. The "do" has no certain pitch nor does the "re." But when "do" is set up in its scale, then a certain "re" must follow it. Hence no tone has an ego of a specific voice. This is quite enough to prove that all music is of Sunyata.

It is just because sound itself is of Sunyata so the tone is only a condition of Sunyata. Things of Sunyata can be harmonized, identified and exchanged. One Sunyata may become many different kinds of offerings. In this ritual, the four qualities of offerings also may be mentioned, outward, inward, secret, and most secret. One is deeper than all the others. I will mention the major classifications and not include all things within each classification. Of the eight common offerings, each has its four-fold symbolism delineated in the ritual.

1. Water is an element outwardly; inwardly, it is the nectars; white Bodhi and red Bodhi secretly, and most secretly the tearful Great Compassion.

2. The flower has beautiful nature outwardly; inwardly, it is the heart which is like an eight petaled lotus inwardly; secretly, the Dakini's reproductive organ; and most secretly, the five wisdoms.

3. Incense has a good aroma outwardly; the pure vinaya characteristic smell inwardly (it is said when one's vinaya is beloved by all protectors and gods, good ghosts and Buddhas, he is circled by those lovers C the holy beings. His body is involved with best heavenly perfume which is much better than that of sandalwood. In my experiences I received that best smell even when I was in the lavatory). Secretly, it is the great incense (stool of sages) and small incense (urine of sages) of the Tantric sages; and most secretly it is the best scent emanating out of Buddha's samadhi.

4. The lamp is the light outwardly; inwardly it is the open and bright and frank mind; enthusiastic Tummo secretly; and most secretly the full Enlightenment.

5. As the incense has the four-folds of perfume, so has the scent (perfume) powder. There is no need to explain about this again.

6. Food is famous and delicious, as Chinese and French cuisine, outwardly; inwardly, it is the heavenly nectars from one's meditation; secretly the Dakini's pleasure; most secretly the four best principal virtues of Nirvana.

7. Music is the beautiful song outwardly; inwardly is the rhyme of the incantation; secretly, Hymn of the Tantric king or the Arum Voice from the Lotus during Vajra-love practice. Most secretly is the numberless Dakinis' praising when one attains the full Enlightenment.

The more abstruse the meanings you can imagine, the more profound are the realizations you can gain.

I. In exoteric ritual, one offering is one; two, two. But in esoteric ritual, the practitioner has already achieved the meditative course of Sunyata and the confirmation of Samatha and he is able to visualize all offerings in a wonderful multiplicity based upon the Sunyata philosophy. One may be many, small may be enlarged, dirt may be purified, hidden things may be unfolded, the three-periods of time may be telescoped into one whole period. Things far distant may be drawn near, sinful things may be transformed; opposite things may be harmonized; base things may be identified with noble things! In short, everything may be taken into the mandala and become an offering. They are all like Indra's net, wherein the brilliance of each jewel is reflected in the others.

When an offering as above mentioned is recognized, the various music from numberless different musical instruments all sound in a symphony of praise. Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Herukas, Dakinis, Protectors, and all the sentient beings visualized by the practitioner, join together in the praising work. Between the Yidam to be praised and the praiser there is no differentiation. Surely the main object of praising is the real Yidam who comes from his Pure Land. Nevertheless, the practitioner who is in the causal position as a Yidam very close to the sentient beings and trying to accumulate all the Holy Characteristics, the same ones as possessed by the Yidam in the consequence position, is worthy of praise, too. The practitioner should have such Holy Pride. One must exert great real effort to be able to possess all the merits of Avalokitesvara through all kinds of practice.

J. What is the Incantation of Sunyata?

Our Lord Gautama Buddha taught us in the Avatamsaka Sutra that each Sanskrit alphabet character has a meaning in Sunyata philosophy. Hence all the alphabets in the incantations have their special meanings in the philosophy of Sunyata. Please read my book Discriminations Between Buddhist and Hindu Tantras, page 46, where you will find the list of the Sanskrit alphabet and their meanings in Sunyata Philosophy. A few examples are quoted below:

A C Denotes that all things are uncreated.

B C Denotes that all manifestations are unobtainable.

Sa C Denotes that all things are silent in nature.

Ha C Denotes that all causes are unobtainable.

The incantation of Avalokitesvara contains six characters, each with its special function based upon its philosophic background. Again, please see pages 52-53 in my book Discriminations Between Buddhist and Hindu Tantras. The advantages of the repetition of this incantation are also mentioned there.

Some Western scholars usually make the six independent characters as four words and define their meanings only in common-sense terms. But the more secret the meanings, the more functions are found in the realizations. It is called the Six-Alphabet-Great-Mantra and should not be considered as four words.

As regarding the incantation of the Red Avalokitesvara which is in ten characters, there is an addition of four alphabet characters prior to the other six. These are: OM AH HUM HRI. It is named the Ten-Alphabet Incantation.

These four characters, in order, denote the four Kayas of Buddhahood, viz., OM: Dharmakaya, AH: Sambhogakaya, HUM: Nirmanakaya, and HRI: Sahajakaya. They are just blessing the other six alphabet characters which denote the six realms of sentient beings. Hence, these ten alphabet characters denote the ten Dharmadhatus which are of Sunyata too!

K. Why return to the Sunyata?

In the first section of the ritual it has been mentioned thus: One should visualize every Dharma as in the nature of Sunyata; this is to let us get rid of worldly desires, the ego of every Dharma, and the fresh body of a human being. This time the extra-mundane mandala and the holy body of the Yidam Avalokitesvara should also come into the nature of the Sunyata. The Holy Pride and the volition of holy objectivity and subjectivity will become pure. Other religions may also say that worldly things or persons should be meditated away, but they never say God and Heaven are Sunyata. Nevertheless, Buddha says that everything, whether mundane or extra-mundane, is Sunyata. In the Diamond Sutra, Buddha confessed that there was really no Dharma by means of which he attained the Supreme Enlightenment. It is a proof.

L. How Can the Sunyata Produce the Reappearance of the Yidam?

Actually Sunyata in nature and in condition are always identical. For the beginner they may be practiced separately which is why the first section of the ritual is the practice of the Sunyata in nature alone, and the successive sections are taught as the practice of Sunyata in condition alone. Now in this section, reappearance, the identification of the Sunyata nature and condition, are taught simultaneously. One is practicing the Sunyata thoroughly in this whole ritual. When the mirror is alone in its brightness and purity, it is Sunyata. When something is reflected in it, Sunyata is still there. Mirror and shadow, neither separate nor together, both are Sunyata. When the shadow is reflected, nothing is increased; when the mirror is all alone, nothing is reduced!

M. How May One's Merit be Given out to Others?

It is because one's own nature and that of others are both in the Sunyata in spite of whether you are aware of it or not. This is why the practitioner who gives out his merits and the sentient beings who receive them are both in one spiritual body. The arms cannot say, "I need no eyes;" eyes cannot say, "I need no arms." Thus, one takes food which becomes blood after digestion, and this blood circulates throughout the entire body nourishing every cell. When our spiritual food turns its merits to others, it is also this way. It is the same as when some hot water is poured into cold water; they become mixed together and just as one cannot distinguish which drop of water was which, neither can one distinguish which merit is the practitioner's and which is the sentient beings'. Yet the cool drop meeting the hot one becomes a little hot even though it may not be as hot as the practitioner's. This is how one's merits may be shared by others. This is why prayers for others are not impossible.

In this Chapter on Sunyata I have explained one section after the other. One must know all the sections even as they differ in quality and quantity, yet, all are equal in the practice of Sunyata. If one does not recognize the philosophy of Sunyata, as many of my visitors and readers fail to do, one has to exert himself to make a complementary study and practice in the Mahayana course, and one must carefully think of all the similes in Sunyata until they are completely comprehended. This is highly important advice.

Chapter II: Great Compassion

How is the Great Compassion Carried out through this Ritual?

A. How does the first section of Sunyata visualization contribute to the welfare of sentient beings and guide them under the Yidam's Great Compassion?

To the beginner, Sunyata seems unable to function as the Great Compassion. After reading the following lines, you will understand the reasons for its possibility.

To release others from pain, disease, disorder and calamities is a kind of compassion, but not so great. As the root of those bad conditions is the ego, when it is not entirely eradicated those pains and bad conditions will occur again and again. For one's conduct centralized in his own ego will be selfish, and many demerits will follow, frequently resulting only in pain. Hence, all the bad conditions find their source in and entangled around the ego, just like the silkworm which winds its cocoon around itself many times. So the real Great Compassion is to dissolve the ego into Sunyata. In so doing, every kind of bad condition will be totally and absolutely banished. None will ever happen again. That is why the Sunyata visualization is a practice of Great Compassion with which no other practice can compare.

B. How is the second section of visualization of the mandala a practice of Great Compassion?

1. HUM is a word of five parts as I have explained in the last chapter. Each part has both functions of wisdom and an element. See Discriminations Between Buddhist and Hindu Tantras, chapter IX. They are all necessary for salvation which is the final result of the Great Compassion. The Great Compassion is not simply staying within the oath or will, but mandatory performance with powers from the five wisdoms and elements. Otherwise, the more oaths that are vowed, the more lies are committed.

2. The second section of visualization of the mandala is based on the two crossed vajras foundation under which all demons are suppressed. They can do no more evil conduct to trouble those sentient beings who have faith in Buddhism, or the practitioner who is going to practice this ritual. It is a kind of Great Compassion, too.

3. On the crossed vajra foundation there is the great lotus with numberless petals as the seat or throne of the mandala. It denotes the complete renunciation in which, if the believer is able to abide, all his sorrows and pains in the transmigration will be completely liberated. Renunciation is a term for liberation or freedom in their causal position. If we modernize it, it can be termed "dropping out", as all the hippies emphasize. But one must abide on such a throne positively, instead of negatively, so be warned as to the matter of dropping out. When one is truly free from every sorrow and pain, there is no compassion any greater than this.

Readers are reminded: how many evil things of the plastic society have you suffered from? How many worldly things have trapped you? Did you rise up as the lotus has risen from the dirty mud? After rising, did you open your mind to receive Buddhism as the Lotus receives the warm sunshine and blossoms so beautifully and bears such sweet fruit? You must be aware that your dropping out starts the Lotus growing at that very instant. If you do not practice the Dharma, even though you drop out, you will never sit on the throne; your lotus will be faded; you will not have shared in Avalokitesvara's Great Compassion!

4. Each of the walls has its own special function of protection. The flame walls protect us from the calamity of fire and the wrathful devils. The skull wall protects us from the calamity of accidental death and Yama. The lotus wall protects us from water calamities and lustful sorrow and the human-semen-eating enemies. The vajra walls protect us from earthquake calamities and weary nightmares and the fundamental sorrow of ignorance. No matter how careful in conduct one may be, and how providently with Vinaya one may be, whenever the demons or evil ghosts come out during sleep and trouble you with many harmful traps, one would be unable to refuse them without these protection. Such protection is also a sign of the Great Compassion.

5. To visualize oneself as a Yidam is to carry on all the holy Karmas of the salvation of Avalokitesvara. No matter how powerful the Yidam in consequence position is, he must realize or pass through the exertion of a human body, who is the Yidam in the causal position and very close to the human beings who need salvation. The Great Compassion should be employed by a human body. Such a visualization of a Yidam is just like assembling the equipment for salvation. Thus without this personification, all the good wills of Avalokitesvara are only invisible thoughts without performance ! That is why an initiation to make the visualized Yidams into real ones followed in this ritual. It makes the Yidam's holy karmas certain to be carried out. Whenever the good merits are grained and distributed, and all the holy works are done, the Yidams of both the original and visualized ones should be offered to and praised. Every step practiced in this ritual should be scrupulously followed. They may encourage one's Yidam to do all the good works and services for the sentient beings and allow everyone to be saved under the Great Compassion. Readers must be aware of this principle, that when you practice the ritual you are exactly in the same position of salvation in relation to every sentient being. You must have Holy Pride and give up thinking that you are still a human being.

6. To repeat the incantation is to bless the six realms of sentient beings. The light which shines out from the incantation is to purify their sins, subdue their demons, and nourish them with spiritual food such as samadhi, Sunyata, compassion and all kinds of realization assurances. How great is the compassion of this practice ! !

7. The next step of the practice is repentance. It is for both sides. On the one hand, it is because the practitioner has not enough merit to save all the sentient beings who are still suffering now. On the other hand, it is because the sins of sentient beings are too great for them to be saved. It is written in the history or biography of Avalokitesvara that when he thought of the heavy sins of sentient beings, he was cast into Great Compassion, whereupon his head was broken into ten heads, and the Buddha Amitabha consoled him with his own head to add to the ten as an eternal blessing. He is thus called Eleven-Headed Avalokitesvara whose long incantation was inspired early and is famous. It has been collected into a large volume, The Record of the Great Compassion Incantation in which many wonderful miracles and inspirations are written. They are too long to quote in this booklet.

Tara C his incarnation C is said to have been born in his tear when he felt the sins of the sentient beings to be saved.

8. As the ritual is practiced by oneself alone, one's visualization of sentient beings may not be sufficient to influence them, so after the ritual has been integrated one has to deflect one's merit to them. In doing so, one's prayer may be heard by Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Gods and all protectors. They will surely assist in letting one's Parinamana (turning the merits) be successful. It is their holy duty. Hence through the merit of the practitioner, even though it is not sufficient to influence them, but through the helpfulness of those Holy Beings, more or less, sooner or later, some of the sentient beings whose time of salvation is near, and whose conditions are more closely related to the practitioner's, might be saved.

9. Why must there be the return to the Sunyata? Does the Sunyata bear the same quality in relation to the Great Compassion?

Yes! The final goal and natural place and ultimate deliverance are all in the Sunyata which is the Great Compassion without limitation. To give alms to the poor, to help others, to obtain money or love, to heal others' diseases and to drive others' demons out and away, all these merits are worldly, but to save others from egoism and deliver them into Sunyata is the real Great Compassion.

10. Why should one appear again as a Yidam before one leaves his meditation seat?

For one's own full enlightenment, it is enough for the practice to be accomplished to the last section C that is, returning to the truth of Sunyata C but for ceaseless salvation, one has to appear again as a vivid Yidam. After one leaves the meditative seat, he is going to be in contact, eventually, with some sentient beings. He does not like sitting alone there without correspondence with actual sentient beings. To those accomplished sages there is no differentiation between sitting and moving, but the practitioner who is active in his daily life has more opportunity to help some of the sentient beings.

One must encourage oneself to do everything as the Yidam does; utter every word like the Yidam's speech, think of every truth as would the Yidam's mind. Where there is no compassion, make it manifest; where there is little compassion, make it strong; where there is more compassion, make it harmonized in the Sunyata. One must expend every moment in the Great Compassion and give all one's energy in the Great Compassion; utilize every occasion to stimulate the Great Compassion; take every opportunity to invigorate the Great Compassion. This is the genuine practice to make us become Avalokitesvara.

It is said that among Buddha's ten names is the name "The Two-Foot Nobility." Two feet are not really meant as in the physical body but they mean one characteristic of wisdom which is connected to the last chapter of Sunyata, and one characteristic of compassion which is connected with this chapter. Hence, the practitioner may attain Buddhahood if these two characteristics have been practiced and will have obtained their realization assurance in its entirety.

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