When I decided to dedicate myself to the practice of Mahayana Zengong, I temporarily put aside all the Zen, Pure Land and Tantric meditations which I had been practicing for sixteen years. Later I came to understand that the mind development of Mahayana Zengong was in fact a very advanced level of training offered by different Buddhist schools. The Zen Master Miao Kong consolidated the quintessential teachings of all Buddhist schools and then handed down the systematic and progressive transmission which offers the practice most appropriate for this degenerate time. The Mahayana Zengong teaching has the following four special features: 1. It integrates the essence and application of Buddha dharma. 2. It allows one to unify the body and mind. 3. It offers a systematic and progressive way of practice. 4. If there is practice, there is assured realization. So, once I comprehended the sublime, auspicious teachings of Mahayana Zengong, I cherished it dearly and I shall do so endlessly. I shall share it with all pertinent beings without reservation and hesitation.
Buddha dharma is limitless Buddha dharma is limitless and endless like a vast ocean. Many buddhistsdo not have a clear understanding of Buddha dharma even though they have been buddhists for years. In general, the Pure Land school offers the most convenient way of spiritual practice because it is easy to learn and practice. By wholehearted and devoted recitation of Buddha’s name, one can pacify the three poisons of desire (craving), anger (aversion) and ignorance which would otherwise give rise to negative karma. In so doing one can transcend the three realms of Desire, Form, and Formless Realms. One of our students, a venerable Buddhist nun, had practiced Pure Land Buddhism for several decades. She regularly performed the morning and evening practices, sutra recitation, recitation of Buddha’s name and prostrations for herself, for others, and occasionally for the deceased. Unfortunately, she suffered serious chronic illness for which western medical treatment was not very helpful. At times, it was difficult for her to keep up with the daily practices because of her physical conditions, let alone made any progress in meditation practice. After practicing Mahayana Zengong for one year, not only did her health significantly improve but she also made startling progress in meditation. One elderly gentleman Mr. Luo could not experience any deep concentration meditation even though he had received Zen meditation teachings from many highly achieved monks and teachers for decades. As soon as he took his seat for meditation, he either became sleepy or was overwhelmed by wandering thoughts. His body would ache or was sore here and there. He just could not have peace of mind. It did not matter whether he practiced sitting or walking meditation, repentance, or making prostrations, his physical conditions would always trouble him. He admitted that he had not made any progress in his meditation in all these years. He was told by his master and teacher that was because of his extremely heavy karma. There was not much that his masters or teachers could do to help him. However, it only took him a matter of months to discover that by practicing Mahayana Zengong his long term illness and karmic obstacles were cleared up. As a result, he was able to experience a deeper meditation than before. Mrs. Yeh, who travelled around the world lecturing on Buddhist sutras, would often have to postpone her lecture appointments because of a chronic ailment which, sometimes, would become unexpectedly acute. After practicing Mahayana Zengong for several months, her ailment steadily improved. A Venerable monk is an outstanding leader on seven-day Zen retreats. He provided retreat practices for many years. However, he could not enter deep meditation himself because of persistent pains in his injured leg. After one healing session he was fully recovered. An eighty year old monk suffered serious illness for almost two hours during a flight. Luckily, a Mahayana Zengong student of only eight months was present and offered his help. After emitting healing energy to him for about ten minutes the pain was well under control. The student of ours was very happy to be able to help. Stories like these are too many to mention here.
The integrated teachings of mind, meditation, and Chi-Kung The essence of Mahayana Zengong is mind development, its practice is meditation, and the complementary method to practice is Chi-Kung. By integrating these three aspects into the spiritual cultivation one will find that it is the best remedy for the inadequacy of today’s traditional methods. The founder of the Zen school, the First Patriarch Bodhidharma, exemplified his way of menbi (unmovable) meditation at the Shaolin Temple in China. He handed down mind teachings, meditation, and Chi-Kung. The latter included what is known as Chinese martial arts and internal energy training. Today, we see only two of his teachings are popular and well received in Zen practice. That two are the breath-counting meditation and the practice of Koans. There is no longer the complete teaching that allows one to attain the “mind awakening” and “realization of Self-nature.” In the Pure Land school, three levels of mind development were available in the ancient teachings. They are the 1. Recitation of a Buddha’s name. 2. Visualization and conceptualization of Buddha’s appearance and virtue. 3. Actualization of Buddha’s dharmakaya in Samadhi. Diligently and progressively practicing these three levels will result in attaining a meditative state of recitation without volition of recitation, neither recitation nor non-recitation, and continuous effortless recitation of Buddha’s name without interruption. The latter would eventually lead practitioners into the realization of the ultimate truth, the True Reality. Unfortunately, most students of the Pure Land school only get as far as the first level of simple recitation of the Buddha’s name. As such their attainment of realization remains rather limited. The teachings of Tibetan Tantric Buddhism provide progressive paths leading to enlightenment in this lifetime. For the beginners there are the practices of the Four Preliminaries. It is required to practice 108,000 times for each Preliminary. One of the Preliminaries is Prostration to Buddha which is equivalent to Chi-Kung exercises. Furthermore, their teachings on the winds, channels and drops are also forms of Chi-Kung practices. The more advanced practices such as Guru Yoga, deity meditation, the Great Perfection, and the Mahamudra will enable the practitioners to achieve Self-realization. For tantric practitioners it is a prerequisite to master the sutras. That will normally take at least twelve years. They can then take up the progressive stages of practices and accordingly achieve the various stages of enlightenment. However, in this endeavor there are problems like the language problem, the lack of clear understanding of the stages, over-anxiousness to achieve enlightenment and not fully working through the progressive stages. Often students who have very little Buddhist knowledge are readily initiated into the advanced practices of the Great Perfection, Mahamudra and other meditations and empowerment. As a result, the core of practice simply becomes a ritual of worship. Without having established a strong foundation, one will obviously find it difficult to be in harmony with Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and the universe.
Mahayana Zengong is a remedy to all traditional practices Mahayana Zengong, transmitted by the saintly monk Zen Master Miao Kong, provides teachings from the beginning level of the Bodhisattva vow to the mind awakening, the realization of Self-nature and all the way to full enlightenment and attainment of Buddhahood. This wonderful set of teachings not only serve as a remedy to other teachings but also allow today’s practitioners to make quick, significant progress in their practices. The beginning Mahayana Zengong students should spend 70% of their effort on Chi- Kung practice and30% on mind development. This is to strengthen the body, mind and spirit and to eliminate prior illnesses or ailments. Also, the practice can allow them to open up the chakras and Chi channels. The drowsiness, mental fatigue and physical pains which are usually associated with energy blockages will automatically go away. The physical stamina and health and mental concentration will therefore be significantly improved. In the next level of practice, the Mahayana Zengong students should continue with a regimen of 30% Chi-Kung and 70% mind training. The continuing Chi-Kung practice is to maintain physical fitness, to increase a high level of mental concentration and to optimize Chi energy circulation. The increasing amount of mind training is to eliminate conceptual thoughts and random distractions in order to enter a deep state of Zen meditation where both the body and mind are in a meditative state of tranquillity. Both the body and mind are in a state of emptiness, calmness, and luminousness, that is, in a state of suchness. The higher level mind developments enable Mahayana Zengong practitioners to free themselves from the attachments of self-cherishing, phenomena-clinging, and emptiness- grasping. As meditation extends into longer duration and enters into more depth there will be physiological and mental transformations which will facilitate the metamorphosis of Chi energy into mind energy. The Self-nature and the universe will merge together and become inseparable. The sugatagarbha essence, the True Reality, will spontaneously manifest. It is empty in nature, yet its display is not insubstantial or intangible. Its application is limitless and the results of activities are total and complete. That is the perfect union of emptiness and existence. For a truly devoted practitioner who has already generated the Bodhisattva vow to attain enlightenment and to help all other beings, the systematic Mahayana Zengong teachings can allow him/her to achieve a high level realization in a fairly short time. The physical and mental transformations will make him/her feel as if he/she were reborn again. He/She will certainly experience the benefits of accomplishing the essence and application and firmly be on the path toward enlightenment. After the guidance of my kind Dharma teacher for several years, I was able to attain some realization. Master Yuan-Dao then strongly urged me to make the teachings available to the general public. Although I did not feel ready to do it, I could not disappoint my teacher. So, I went about propagating the teachings to several countries. The experiences and testimonials of more than three thousand students have demonstrated and verified the profound teachings of Mahayana Zengong. The three thousand students include lay people and venerable monks and nuns, beginners as well as seasoned practitioners, both here in Taiwan and abroad. Indeed, these supreme teachings combining traditional Buddhist practices, Zen meditation, and Chi-Kung, have received enormous approval in just a few years. Mahayana Zengong has received especially high praise from those individuals who have suffered from physical and/or karmic ailments for years with no effective treatment from the medical professions. It is our sincere hope that all beings in this tumultuous period plagued by disease, restlessness and chaos, have the opportunity to receive the blessing of the Mahayana Zengong teachings. May all beings have good health and peace of mind. May all have longevity and attain supreme enlightenment.
(Translator’s note: This article first appeared in the issue of Buddhist Newsweek, no. 122, January 20, 1992).
(c) USMZAS 1998