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Tantric Traditions in Transmission and Translation$

David B. Gray and Ryan Richard Overbey

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780199763689

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2016

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199763689.001.0001

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The Tantric Teachings and Rituals of the True Buddha School

The Tantric Teachings and Rituals of the True Buddha School

The Chinese Transformation of Vajrayāna Buddhism

(p.308) 8. The Tantric Teachings and Rituals of the True Buddha School
Tantric Traditions in Transmission and Translation

Tam Wai Lun

Oxford University Press

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter aims to explore how the Tantric teaching of a new Buddhist school called the True Buddha School has changed and adapted itself in a Chinese context. The founder of the school, Lu Shengyan (b. 1945), studied with a Chinese Tantric master with a Tibetan name of Thubten Dorge (19212006), who was a disciple of a Tibetan lama in the Gelugpa tradition. He also received empowerments from other Tibetan teachers, including Shakya Zhengkong, a noted lama of the Tibetan Sakya School, H. H. the 16th (Gyalwa) Karmapa (1924–1981), and the 12th Tai Situpa Rinpoche, Pema Donyo Nyinje Wangpo (b. 1954) of the Kagyu Karma School. In addition, Lu studied with Pufang, a Chinese master of the Shingon tradition in Taiwan. As the result of Lu’s wide exposure to Tantric Buddhism, the True Buddha School represents one of the most comprehensive systems of Tantric Buddhist practices.

Keywords:   True Buddha School, Chinese Tantric Buddhism, Lu Shengyan, Tibet, China


For Vajrayāna Buddhism in China, we still have to rely on the foundational work by Chou Yi-liang (1913–2001), which examines the lives and works of the three “founders” of Chinese Tantrism and East Asian Tantrism (Chou 1945, 235–332).1 As pointed out by Richard K. Payne, Chou’s essay replicates the “founder school” model of religion, which reinforces the Shingon school’s scholastic distinction between heteroprax and orthoprax Tantrism (Payne 2006, 27). Apart from Chou’s remarkable work, Vajrayāna Buddhism in China has largely been neglected by Chinese scholars. One exception may be Lü Jianfu (Lü 1995). He, however, has devoted only twenty-eight pages on the modern period of his 718-page general history of Vajrayāna Buddhism in China. The purpose of this chapter is to examine the Tantric teaching and ritual of a new Vajrayāna Buddhist school called the True Buddha School with a following of more than five million all over the world but mostly in Taiwan, Malaysia, and Indonesia. It builds on the research of a previous paper (Tam 2007) in which we argue that in order not to participate in marginalizing the True Buddha School, a process initiated by the mainstream contemporary established schools of Chinese Buddhism, and not to take away the True Buddha School’s right to claim (p.309) themselves as part of an established religion, we should defer to the self-understanding of the True Buddha School. This means that in this chapter we will treat the school, on the basis of its own understanding, as a new Vajrayāna school of Chinese Buddhism, rather than a “new religion,” and we will show how esoteric Buddhism has changed and adapted itself in a Chinese cultural context.

The True Buddha School has arisen out of the life and experience of Master Lu Sheng-Yen (盧勝彥‎, b. 1945). Born in Jiayi 嘉義‎ County, Taiwan, Master Lu is the author of more than 240 books, writing extensively on his own religious experience and cultivation. Lu received his tertiary education in a military college in Taiwan and was trained as a surveyor. He had a deep religious experience in 1969 that led him from his Presbyterian Christian upbringing to a period of seeking, studying, and learning Buddhism (Yao 1994; Tam 2001; Melton 2007). This period lasted for some twelve years during which time Master Lu began to openly accept disciples to teach them Buddhism. Near the end of this period, he also founded the True Buddha School (first known as the Lingxian 靈仙‎ School) and moved from his native Taiwan to the United States, a symbol of his intention to spread Buddhism internationally. The rise of the True Buddha School resembles the rise of a temple group in Taiwan called the Compassion Society, or the Cihui Tang 慈惠堂‎ (Jordan and Overmyer 1986, 129–212), which makes contact with the dead by inviting a medium to make a trip to hell, a practice known as guanluo yin 觀落陰‎. This temple group started in 1948 when an onlooker of the practice was suddenly possessed by the famous goddess Royal Mother of the West, Xi Wangmu 西王母‎. The onlooker soon became the medium for the goddess, and the community grew into a large system of temples. Much in the same fashion, Master Lu was an onlooker in 1969 when he accompanied his mother to a temple where there was a medium serving the community. Master Lu was suddenly “possessed” and was given, without his prior consent, the ability to see and communicate with the spiritual world. After this miraculous encounter, Master Lu continued to receive the nocturnal visits of an invisible master who transmitted to him Daoist and Tantric teachings. Under the direction of his invisible unknown spiritual teacher, Master Lu also sought out a highly accomplished Daoist master Qingzhen 清真‎ (d. 1971) on Mount Liantou in Taizhong. Qingzhen taught Master Lu various Daoist practices such as the writing of magical charms, spells, alchemy, geomancy, and the divination that later made him famous among the public. Meeting with invisible spiritual immortals is a very common mode of origin of a Daoist school.2 (p.310) Master Lu later revealed that Qingzhen was also known as Liaoming (Lu 1985, Bk 57, 171), a Tantric monk who fled to Taiwan from Sichuan in mainland China around 1949, and he was both a friend and student of the reputable Lama Norlha Rinpoche (1865–1936) of the Nyingmapa school (Randeng 2009.9.1, 2009.4.15). This Buddho–Daoist master Liaoming (or Qingzhen) would prove to have a lasting influence on the development of the True Buddha School.

Starting from 1969 and for six years, Master Lu applied what he learned from Qingzhen to become a famous part-time diviner while serving in the military as a surveyor. Master Lu claimed to have received five hundred letters each month from his readers and more than a thousand requests for an appointment to see him (Lu 1976, Bk 21, 176), an indication that an “audience and client cult” (Stark and Bainbridge 1985) had formed around him. From 1975 onward, Master Lu spent less time on divination but more on telling the stories about his divination and his encounter with the world of spirits in book form and by writing columns in newspapers. His books were among the season’s best sellers, making him even more famous. In 1970, Master Lu started to formally take refuge in Buddhism through the famous Chinese master Yinshun 印順‎(1906–2005) who had resided in Taiwan since 1953. He also studied with teachers from different forms of Buddhism, especially the different forms of Vajrayāna Buddhism. In 1979, when he had fulfilled his obligation of serving in the military, Master Lu started to become a full-time diviner and to receive disciples. In three years, he turned his “audience and client cult” into a “cult movement” (Stark and Bainbridge 1985) of a thousand members. Master Lu called his school the Lingxian School 靈仙宗‎ (School of Efficacious Immortals), a name with a strong Daoist connotation, and members engaged in the practice of waking their souls, enabling them to establish contact with the spiritual world (Lu 1976, Bk 22). Also in the same period (1979–1981), Master Lu started to receive different empowerments from Tantric masters. In 1984, Master Lu changed the name of his school to Lingxian True Buddha School (Lingxian Zhenfozong 靈仙真佛宗‎) because of a usurpation of the name of his school by others (Lu 1984, Bk 50, 1). Although he has used the name True Buddha School as early as 1986 (Lu 1986, Bk 62, 107), Master Lu officially shortened the name of his school to the True Buddha School for the sake of convenience in 1992 (Lu 1992, Bk 99, 80), indicating the full-fledged Buddhist orientation of his school.

The True Buddha School has, therefore, gradually transformed itself from a Daoist divination movement to a Vajrayāna school of Buddhism. (p.311) This choice of Vajrayāna Buddhism can be readily understood against the background of the history of Buddhism in Taiwan. In the early 1970s, which scholars call the period of the “pluralization of Buddhism” in Taiwan (Jones 1999, 179), two of the largest and most important Buddhist groups were founded. They were the Fo Kuang Shan 佛光山‎ (Mt. Buddha’s Light) of Rev. Xingyun 星雲‎ (b. 1927) and the Buddhist Compassion Relief Tzu Chi Association of the nun Zhengyan 證嚴‎ (b. 1937). The lifting of martial law in 1987 and the passage of the Law on the Organization of Civic Groups in 1989 has further brought about a multitude of new Buddhist groups in Taiwan, notably the Dharma Drum Mountain Buddhist group of Rev. Shengyan 聖嚴‎ (1930–2009) and the Zhongtai Chan Monastery 中台禪寺‎ of Rev. Weijue 惟覺‎ (b. 1928). The members of the above-mentioned four Buddhist groups, the Fo Kuang Shan, the Tzu Chi, the Dharma Drum, and the Zhongtai Chan, constitute almost half the population of Taiwan. They all trace their origin back to schools of Chinese Mahāyāna Buddhism, notably the Chan School or the Pure Land School.

It would not be difficult to comprehend why the True Buddha School has chosen the Vajrayāna tradition to establish an alternative Buddhist organization in the context of the highly competitive Buddhist religious market in Taiwan. Nevertheless, the True Buddha School has never dropped its Daoist components or its magical dimension of divination practices. In most of the School’s temples across the world, one finds both a Buddhist and a Daoist pantheon, making the sometimes exotic deities of the Vajrayāna tradition more readily acceptable to the general Chinese public. The mix of Daoist divination practices and the inner cultivation teachings of the Vajrayāna Buddhism (Tam 2001) have also contributed substantially to form the more familiar Chinese outlook of the school for the Chinese audience.

Master Lu, however, especially asserts his lineage through the Nyingmapa and Sakyapa instructors with whom he has studied and by whom he has been acknowledged. Equally important, and in the long run possibly more important, are his own personal contacts with supernatural entities. These invisible teachers include Śākyamuni Buddha, Padmasambhava, the founder of Nyingma Tibetan Buddhism, and Tsongkhapa (1357–1419), founder of the Gelugpa school (Lu 1993, Bk 103, 88). Lu’s encounter with Tsongkhapa resulted in his long lecture on the famous Tantric text The Great Exposition of Secret Mantra, which was eventually published in twelve volumes (Lu 1994–1995).

(p.312) Master Lu has also studied under various Vajrayāna masters living in this world. From 1995, Master Lu started to begin his sermons by listing his Tantric teachers (Lu 1995a, 162). Among them was a Chinese Buddho–Daoist monk mentioned earlier, Qingzhen or Liaoming, under whom Master Lu had studied Nyingmapa teachings during the period of 1969–1972. During his visits to Hong Kong in the 1990s, Master Lu also studied under another Chinese Tantric master called Li Tingguang 李廷光‎ (1931–2006), who is also known by a Tibetan religious name, Thubten Dargyay (Lu 1983, Bk 48, 193). Li Tingguang had studied under two Vajrayāna masters. The first one is referred to by his Tibetan religious name, Thubten Dali. He was the disciple of Thubten Nima (another Chinese Vajrayāna master with a Tibetan name), who had studied under the reputable Mongolian Living Buddha of Sweet Dew (Ganzhu VII) (1914–1978) of the Gelugpa tradition. Rev. Ganzhu VII fled to Taiwan in 1949. Li Tingguang had also studied under venerable Dudjom Rinpoche (1904–1987) of the Nyingmapa school, a Tibetan monk living in Nepal who established centers both in New York and Paris. Li Tingguang later became the head of the Jingyin Ge 淨音閣‎ (Tower of the Pure Sound) Temple located on Mount Furong in Tsuen Wan of the New Territories in Hong Kong.3 Through Li Tingguan, Master Lu received teachings on both Gelugpa and Nyingmapa.

Apart from studying under Li Tingguang, Master Lu, from 1982 to 1985, while he was in Seattle, also received instructions and empowerments from Dezhung Rinpoche (1906–1987) of the Sakya School, whom Master Lu referred to in Chinese as Shakya Zhengkong (Randeng 2008.9.15, 2009.5.15a). Dezhung Rinpoche was the brother of the wife of H. H. Jigdal Dagchen Sakya (b. 1929), who was the head of the Sakya School. Early in 1980, during his trip to New York, Master Lu also received empowerment from another noted lama, H. H. the 16th (Gyalwa) Karmapa (1924–1981) of the Kagyupa (Randeng 2009.5.15b, 2010.6.1). Later in 1983, Master Lu received empowerment from the 12th Tai Situpa Rinpoche, Pema Donyo Nyinje Wangpo (b. 1954) of the Kagyu Karma School (Lu 1983, Bk 44, 165). In 1983, Master Lu studied with Pufang 普方‎, a Chinese master of the Shingon tradition who served as a priest of the Zhong Chi Temple in Taipei4 from whom Lu received the Cundī empowerment (Lu 1983, Bk 46, 1). From each of the above-mentioned Tantric teachers, Master Lu claimed to have received ritual objects symbolic of his attainments. Thus, Master Lu had received advanced empowerments from teachers in all four Tibetan (p.313) schools of Nyingma, Gelug, Kagyu, and Sakya. The lineage empowerment of Master Lu can, therefore, be summarized as follows:

  • The Red Sect (Nyingmapa): Ven. Liaoming
  • The Yellow Sect (Gelugpa): Ven. Thubten Dargyay
  • The White Sect (Kagyupa): H. H. The 16th Karmapa
  • The Flower Sect (Sakyapa): Dezhung Rinpoche (i.e., Lama Sakya Zhengkong)
  • The Shingon Sect: Ven. Pufang.

The result of Master Lu’s wide exposure to Vajrayāna Buddhism is that we have, in the True Buddha, one of the most comprehensive systems of Tantric Buddhist practices integrating the various teachings of the four Tibetan school of Nyingmapa, Gelugpa, Kagyupa, Sakyapa, Chinese Vajrayāna, and Japanese Vajrayāna. After moving from his native Taiwan to Seattle in 1982, Master Lu concentrated more and more on teaching his followers Tantric teachings and rituals under the name of the True Buddha’s Tantric Dharma, to which we will turn our attention in order to explore the Chinese adaptation of Vajrayāna Buddhism.

The True Buddha’s Tantric Dharma (Zhenfo Mifa 真佛密法‎)

The most complete and detailed exposition of the Tantric practices and rituals of the True Buddha School, known as the True Buddha’s Tantric Dharma, was given on November 24–30, 1992, at the Rainbow Villa in Seattle by the founder of the True Buddha School himself. It was later published in book form as the Mijiao daguanghua 密教大光華‎ (The Luminous Flower of Tantric Buddhism; Lu 1995d). The True Buddha Tantric Dharma was formulated in a tripartite model that consists of the preparatory practice, main practice, and concluding practice:

  1. I. Preparatory practice

    • Handclapping: “Wake-up Call” to alert the deity

    • Reciting the Purification Mantras

    • Invocation (by Mind, Speech, and Mudrā)

    • The Great Homage (prostration by visualization)

    • The Maṇḍ‎ala Offering

    • (p.314) The Fourfold Refuge (Guru, Buddha, Dharma, saṅ‎gha)

    • The Armor Protection (for the practitioner)

    • The Four Immeasurable Buddha-states of mind5

    • Reciting the High King Avalokiteśvara Sūtra and Rebirth Mantra

  2. II. Main Practice

    • Visualizations of the Empowerment of the Three Lights

    • Mantra Recitation (and visualization)

    • The Entering into Samādhi

    • The Nine Round Buddha Breath Exercise

    • The Visualization of the Merging of Self and Deity

    • Breath-Counting Exercise

    • The Skeleton Visualization Method

  3. III. Concluding Practice

    • Emerging from Samādhi

    • Empowerment Using the Bell and Vajra

    • Intoning the Buddhas

    • Dedication

    • Hundred-Syllable Mantra

    • Circle of Completion (A Final Dedication)

    • The Completion Mantra (Lu 1995d; 2005, Bk 81).

According to Master Lu’s own exposition, the gist of the True Buddha Dharma consists of the merging of one’s self with one’s chosen deity. This practice is modeled on the sādhana practice (Personal Deity Yoga) of Tantric Buddhism. As Master Lu states,

The entirety of Tantra can be found in the practice of Personal Deity Yoga Benzun fa shi mijiao di quanbu 本尊法是密法的全部‎). . . . In the final stage of external Tantra, the union of Personal Deity and practitioner occurs. In the final stage of internal Tantra, either the spiritual-consciousness transformed from light drops is transported to the Pure Land of the Personal Deity or it directly transmutes into the Personal Deity. Thus, it all has to do with Personal Deity Yoga, whether one is doing the external or internal practice (buguan shi waimi huoshi benzun fa 不管是外密還是本尊法‎). An accomplished spiritual cultivator (apart from being in continual union with one’s Personal Deity) also has in his company the whole retinue of his (p.315) Personal Deity. In addition, the Personal Deity’s Dharma Protectors follow him. (Lu 1996, Bk 120, 116–117)

As we know, sādhana is the spiritual exercise by which the practitioner evokes a divinity, identifying with it and absorbing it into himself. It is a primary form of meditation in the Tantric Buddhism of Tibet. Sādhana involves the body in mudrās (sacred gestures), the voice in mantras (sacred utterances), and the mind in the vivid inner visualization of sacred designs and the figures of divinities. The mastery of visualizing the divinities in order of increasing complexity requires hours of practice each day for a period of years. A single cultivation session requiring three to four hours to complete in the Tibetan school of Tantric Buddhism is simplified, within the True Buddha School, to a process that takes about forty minutes, without losing its essence. In the words of the founder of the True Buddha School, True Buddha Dharma is a simplified version of the sādhana ritual of all deity practices as outlined in Tibetan Buddhism (Lu 2002, Bk 154, 188).

The True Buddha Dharma as a practice is prescribed by the founder of the True Buddha School to all his disciples as a daily practice routine at home and at weekly group practice in the temple. As the often-quoted motto of the school from Padmasambhava, “Honor the Guru, treasure the Dharma, and practice diligently,” indicates, the True Buddha School puts a great deal of emphasis on daily practice. A lay disciple would practice the sādhana once every day, while a monk or nun is expected to do so four times a day (Lu 2003, Bk 164, 28). In the True Buddha School, the most important sādhana practice is called the Yoga of Padmakumāra. There are eighteen forms of Padmakumāra (literally, “the Lad of Lotus”), each of whom is associated with one color.

As Dalai Lamas were supposed to be the incarnation of Avalokiteśvara/Guanyin Bodhisattva, the founder of the True Buddha School claimed to be the incarnation of the White Padmakumāra. This deity is not commonly known but was found in caves 314 and 380 in the Mogao Grottoes in Dunhuang, dating back to the Sui Dynasty (581–618 CE; Lu 2007, Bk 194, 132).6 In his book Hudie de fengcai 蝴蝶的風采‎ (The Colorful Butterflies: A Collection), Master Lu reveals that he is the Huaguang zizai fo 華光自在佛‎ or the Lotus Light Self-Mastery Buddha (Lu 1992, Bk 101, 142; 2001, Bk 145, 47). In 1996, Master Lu further revealed that the White Padmakumāra is Amitābha (Lu 1996, Bk 120, 179). Thus, both the Lotus Light Self-Mastery Buddha and the White Lad of Lotus are just different (p.316) names of Amitābha. The importance of the Yoga of Padmakumāra in the True Buddha School is not only that Padmakumāra is an incarnation of Amitābha Buddha, but also that Padmakumāra is the root guru of the True Buddha School. In other words, the Yoga of Padmakumāra in the True Buddha School is Guru Yoga. As we know, the root guru in the Tantric Buddhism is the embodiment of all sources of refuge and devotion. The guru is the essence of all paths, so that Guru Yoga is the quickest, most effective method for attaining enlightenment; it is the one path in which all other paths are complete (Dilgo 1999, 18; Dalai Lama 1988). When one achieves yogic response with one’s root guru, one will be a step nearer to a more advanced practice of achieving union with one’s principal deity and later with one’s protector deity. This is because when one achieves yogic response with one’s root guru, the principal deity and protector will naturally come along and descend to bless one with joy (Lu 2002, Bk 154, 136). In order to engage in practicing a higher level of practice such as the Mahāmudrā, one must receive the necessary empowerments and oral personal instructions from one’s root guru. The practitioner must first establish yogic response with the physical guru, and through him seek response from the lineage holders. Only by receiving this response in stages can one gain accomplishments. This is necessary for the practitioner of Mahāmudrā, who must rely on the blessings of the guru. When the practitioner gains a secret response, in which his mind is in tune with his guru’s mind, he shall have great accomplishment (Lu 1984, Bk 51, 45). In the True Buddha School, there is a concept of the three roots of Vajrayāna:

  1. 1. The Guru is the main holder of all Dharma;

  2. 2. The Principal Deity is the self nature of the practitioner;

  3. 3. The Dharma Protector is the guardian of the human world (Lu 2003, Bk 163, 32).

Also, there is a special emphasis on the vital importance of staying with one guru, one Dharma, and one principal deity in the True Buddha School (Lu 2003, Bk 163, 80).

Varieties of True Buddha Dharma and Rituals

A total of 393 Tantric Dharmas were collected in one volume, published in 1997 by the Purple Lotus University of the school (Huaguang 1997). These (p.317) Dharmas are for the fulfillment of both mundane desires and soteriological aims. Tantric Dharmas for worldly purposes (bhukti) are known as Shijian fa 世間法‎, or literally “method for this world,” and Tantric methods for spiritual purpose (mukti) are called Chushijian fa 出世間法‎, or “method for leaving this world” (Lu 2002, Bk 154, 172).

The Tantric Dharmas for worldly purpose could be divided into four main categories, according to intents:

  1. 1. Purification of sickness and negativity or to remove impending ill fortune (xizai 息災‎);

  2. 2. Enrichment and generosity so one may have abundance (zengyi 增益‎);

  3. 3. Magnetization to draw people together and harmonize human relationships (jing’ai 敬愛‎);

  4. 4. Subjugation of negative forces and demons (xiangfu降伏‎) (Lu 1984, Bk 54, 1).

The above four categories are sometimes called Karma Yogas. Like other practices in the True Buddha School involving talismans and incantations, the four Karma Yogas are “secular” and “magical” practices. Lu thinks that they can only be considered auxiliaries to one’s cultivation to reach the “Right Path,” that is, liberation from the cycle of birth and death (Lu 2001, Bk 145, 195). As Lu himself explains, “I have transcendental power. The power cannot change karma (shubu dishu 術不抵數‎)” (2000, Bk 142, 93).7

The True Buddha School does not reject the use of spiritual powers and the power of gods to perform divination, check the records of past lives, pray for rain, give healing, use chart astrology, and perform geomancy. Practices of this kind were known as “mixed esotericism” zami 雜密‎, a term first used by Japanese Buddhists (Sharf 2005, appendix). True Tantric teachings (chunmi 純密‎, literally “pure Tantra”) involve the doctrines of Vajra disciplinary rules, the bodhi mind, liberation from saṃ‎sāra, and attaining Buddhahood in this very body (Lu 2002, Bk 154, 114).

Traditionally in Japan, the “Pure Tantra” also refers to the Shingon and Tendai esotericism (White 2000, 21). Under the category of mixed esotericism, there are two popular practices in the True Buddha School:

  1. 1. The Wealth god’s practice or the Jambhala practice;

  2. 2. The fire offering or pūjā (homa) practice.

(p.318) The Jambhala practice, a practice for wealth, is especially popular among the Southeast Asian members of the True Buddha School. There are the practices of Yellow Jambhala, Red Jambhala, Green Jambhala, Black Jambhala, White Jambhala, and the Five Jambhalas. In addition, the Dragon Treasure Vase Practice, Earth God Practice, Mountain God Practice, and so forth, are all wealth deity practices (Lu 2002, Bk 154, 78; 1993, Bk 103, 222–233). An often-quoted story to explain the meaning of these practices is an ancient Chinese story of a father and son who tried to control a flood. The father, named Gun 鯀‎, who tried to control the flood by blocking it, is compared to the Sutric or exoteric tradition to save sentient beings, that is by stopping desires altogether. The approach of Esoteric Buddhism is compared to the method employed by Gun’s son, Yu 禹‎, the legendary sage king in China, who controlled the flood by channeling the water. This story was recorded in many pre-Qin (that is, before 221 BCE) texts such as the Book of Odes, Mozi, Mencius, Book of Documents, and others. Moreover, the idea of Vimalakīrti that “without cutting off lust, anger and ignorance and yet not being part of them” (Thurman 1986, 27)8 is also frequently quoted to explain the practice of True Buddha School’s Tantric methods for worldly purpose. Such is the expedient approach of “first having attracting sentient beings through desire, and later leading them into the wisdom of the Buddha” (Thurman 1986, 71).9 The cultivation of the Jambhala practice will also lead to the experience of Dharma taste, the bliss generated by visualizing a deity and merging with it, resulting in a natural transformation of desire. Eventually, it leads to a transformation of consciousness into wisdom, reaching a level of attainment.

The fire offering ritual pūjā (homa) was taught in 1993 (Lu 1993, Bk 103, 27). The ritual procedure of pūjā, which is characterized by consuming all offerings in a burning fire, could again be analyzed by means of a tripartite model:

  1. I. The preparatory practices

    1. 1. Purification and definition of boundary;

    2. 2. Invocation and homage;

    3. 3. Empowerment of rosary beads, vajra bell, and offerings;

    4. 4. Armor protection ritual.

  2. II. The main practices

    1. 5. Visualization of root deity (and merging of self with deity);

    2. (p.319) 6. Chanting mantra;

    3. 7. Lighting the fire;

    4. 8. Officially making offerings to the root deity.

      [the above are done with performance of mudrā]

  3. III. The concluding practices

    1. 9. Making wishes and transference of merit (Lu 1993, Bk 103, 27).

All practices and rituals in the True Buddha School, be it Jambhala practice or fire offering ritual, take different forms but follow the same tripartite model, with the merging of the self with the deity as the main practice. The deity could be a wealth god or any deity of one’s choice. All practices aim at the same result: developing one’s ability to visualize a deity and merge with it in meditation. As we will see, this would be the first level of attainment in the True Buddha School.

We should also mention the Yab-Yam or Consort Practice (shuangshenfa 雙身法‎), which Padmasambhava describes as “extracting the pearl from the mouth of the poisonous snake” (Lu 1991, Bk 92, 14). The view of the founder of the True Buddha School is that many of the techniques taught in this practice have long been lost. As the practice is shocking to most and is easily misunderstood by the uninitiated, it is best to avoid practicing it. Master Lu points out that Tsongkhapa himself only practiced with a visualized consort, a jñāna-mudrā. (Lu 2002, Bk 154, 82). Applying Daoist terminologies, Lu explains that each being is endowed with both masculine and feminine qualities, or yin and yang (zishen yinyang 自身陰陽‎), as well as the properties of water and fire. The true consort practice is the harmonizing of the yin and yang principles within and the blending of water and fire. This means that one can gain attainment within one’s own body without having to resort to finding an actual female or male partner. This is comparable to the Daoist practice involving the male and female, which is not an occurrence involving a physical couple, but points to the masculine and feminine principles within oneself (zishen nannü 自身男女‎; Lu 1984, Bk 51, 83).

Why then are the images of Yab-Yum Buddha statues or Buddha of Pleasure statues (huanxi foxiang 歡喜佛相‎) used? Master Lu explains that this has to do with a more advanced level of practice in Tantric Buddhism known as the inner heat Yoga, which is a form of inner cultivation (neifa內法‎). When the drops and inner fire from the Yoga of Psychic Heat (zhuohuo拙火‎, Tib. gtum mo) pass through the seven nerve plexuses, or (p.320) cakras, a wonderful bliss is produced. This bliss cannot be expressed in words, and this unparalleled state of bliss is sometimes compared to the comfort and ease experienced at the climax reached by a couple in sexual union. Therefore, Buddha of Pleasure statues simply symbolize the spiritual state of supreme bliss. Eventually, the state of bliss came to be symbolized by the union of man and woman.

Gradual Approach to Religious Practices

The True Buddha School adopts a gradual approach to religious practices. Master Lu always reminds his students of the necessity of practice in gradual steps, beginning with the practice of the Four Preliminaries, followed by Guru Yoga, Deity Yoga, the Vajra Practices, and finally the Highest Yoga Tantra, gaining realization through stages before one can cultivate the Mahāmudrā (Lu 1984, Bk 51, 13). It is a must, in the True Buddha School, to cultivate the Four Preliminaries: the Fourfold Refuge, the Great Homage, the Maṇḍ‎ala Offering, and the Vajrasattva Practice. Engaging in the Tantric Practice already presupposes the keeping of the Five Precepts and Ten Virtuous Deeds, and adhering to the Tantric disciplines. After cultivating the Four Preliminaries, one could proceed to cultivate the Guru Yoga. In the True Buddha School this is called the Yoga of Padmakumāra. Next is the Yoga for Principal Deity. The principal or personal deity is the deity for whom the individual has the greatest affinity in his or her cultivation. There are eight choices of such deity in the True Buddha School:

  1. 1. Buddha Amitābha

  2. 2. Bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara

  3. 3. Bodhisattva Kṣ‎itigarbha

  4. 4. Mother of All Buddhas, Bodhisattva Cundī

  5. 5. Padmasambhava

  6. 6. Champara (Yellow Fortune God)

  7. 7. Medicine Buddha

  8. 8. Padmakumāra (the Lad of Lotus) (Lu, 2005, Bk 81).

The essence of the Principal Deity Yoga is that the practitioner invites the principal deity to “enter” into his or her body and “abide” in it. After this, the principal deity and the practitioner are mutually “absorbed” into (p.321) each other. The next practice in the line would be the Dharma Protector Practice (guarding over one’s cultivation). This is the practice of the Five Vajra Practices, or the Practices of the Eight Vidyārājas (mingwang 明王‎) (Lu 1984, Bk 51, 182).10 These practices are all known as the external practice. The next level would be the internal practices, which are for advanced practitioners. The goal for external practice is the purification of the Three Secrets (one’s body, speech, and mind). This is a preliminary for all practice and is repeatedly taught by Master Lu (Lu 2005–6, 1:40, 3:228). As Master Lu said when he lectured on the Yuanjue Jing 圓覺經‎, “it is from purity that all the other Buddhist teachings come” (Lu 1995c, 3:99; Lu 2005, Bk 181, 40).11

The advanced level of internal practice involves the cultivation practice of winds (qi 氣‎, Skt. prāṇ‎a), channels, and drops. Central to the internal practice is the practice of wind, also known as the “Breath of a Precious Vase” (baopingqi 寶瓶氣‎), which has been repeatedly taught by Lu (Lu 1982, Bk 40, 170; 1994, Bk 111, 186). One has to inhale a breath of air (wind) and let it “enter” into the dantian 丹田‎ (lower abdomen) of the practitioner. This breath of air should constantly “abide” in the dantian. This breath of air is absorbed into all the meridians and channels, and reaches every pore. Lu quotes a saying of Padmasambhava, which states, “all the merits of Vajrayāna arise from the practice of Treasure Vase Breathing” (Lu 2002, Bk 154, 112). With the successful cultivation of winds, one could use this to ignite one’s inner body heat. This spot of fire is seated right at the base of the central channel. Once this fire is ignited, it rises along the central channel and burns through every channel knot. When this fire burns the channel knots in our bodies, it is as good as burning away our karma. According to Master Lu, “whatever is to be gained or has yet to be gained (xiudao di de yu weide 修道的得與未得‎) hinges on the ignition and growth of this inner fire” (Lu 1984, Bk 51, 49).12 This shows the centrality of the practice of inner body heat in the True Buddha Dharma. As it is commonly known, the inner heat yoga was understood to be the foundation of the Six Yogas of Nāropa (1016–1100) as taught by Tsongkhapa (Mullin 1996, p. 36; Lu 2002, Bk 154, 130). Here we could see how the True Buddha Dharma was constructed on the basis of Tsongkhapa and the Kagyu school of Nāropa. The highest level of the practice in the True Buddha School is the Highest Yoga Tantra and the Great Perfection (Lu 2002, Bk 154, 86).

(p.322) Levels of Practices

There are different ways to express the different levels of practice in the True Buddha School. There are, for instance, four levels of empowerment in the True Buddha School:

  1. 1. The first level of empowerment is for the purity of body, speech, and mind.

  2. 2. The second level of empowerment is for the practice of winds, channels, and drops.

  3. 3. The third level of empowerment is for Highest Yoga Tantra.

  4. 4. The fourth level of empowerment is for the Great Perfection (Lu 2002, Bk 154, 26).

While the first level of empowerment is an initiation for all followers, the second level of empowerment is for fewer people. Their empowerments include the practice of inner fire, the practice of drops, and the method of non-leakage. The non-leakage method is only transmitted to selected students. According to the founder of the True Buddha School, the third level of empowerment—the Highest Yoga Tantra—has so far been given only to one individual, a certain vajra master whose identity is not revealed. The fourth level of empowerment—the Great Perfection—has not been given to anyone.

In other times, the stages of cultivation in the Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism are used:

  1. 1. The Yoga of One-Pointedness (Zhuanyi 專一‎)

  2. 2. The Yoga of Simplicity (Lixi 離戲‎)

  3. 3. The Yoga of One Taste (Yiwei 一味‎)

  4. 4. The Yoga of Non-Meditation (Wuxiu 無修‎) (Lu 2003, Bk 163, 64)

Similar to this scheme are the four levels of Mahāmudrā:

  1. 1. The first level is “warmth” (wen 溫‎). One ignites the fire within the body. This spot of fire is seated right at the base of the central channel. “Warmth” therefore refers to the inner heat Yoga.

  2. 2. The second level deals with “breaking” (po 破‎). When the inner fire rises to the area of the spiritual eye (between the two eyebrows), it produces light. When the spiritual eye radiates light, this is the spiritual eye practice of attaining realization through meditation (zuochan tongming tianxin 坐禪通明天心‎) (Lu 1983, Bk 45), which is described as “breaking.”

  3. (p.323) 3. The third level involves “preservation” (chi 持‎). Practitioners who are able to abide in the “unhindered mind” and reach the state of tranquility, unaffected by any outer influence, are said to reach the level of “preservation,” where they always remain firm in their cultivation effort.

  4. 4. The fourth level is “attainment” (zheng 證‎). This refers to the state of nirvāṇ‎a, in which an individual’s light is merged with the light of the supreme consciousness (Lu 1984, Bk 51, 149).13

Another way to express the levels of practice used in the True Buddha School is the scheme of the Generation Stage and the Completion Stage of the Nyingmapa (Lingpa et al. 2006; Powers 1995, 245). In Generation Stage, one begins with the practice of purifying one’s body, speech, and mind. After this, one should cultivate the winds, channels, and drops. And through the stages of cultivation, one approaches the Highest Yoga Tantra and finally enters into the Great Perfection of the Completion Stage.

A creative interpretation of the different levels of religious experience in Tantric Buddhism by the founder of the True Buddha School is that he matches them with the three levels of heaven in Buddhism: (1) the six heavens in the Realm of Desire (yujie tian 欲界天‎); (2) the eighteen heavens in the Realm of Form, which are further divided into four dhyāna regions (sejie tian 色界天‎); and (3) the four heavens in the Realm of Formlessness (wusejie tian 無色界天‎).

The Realm of Desire

Lu uses the term “blissful pleasure” (xile 喜樂‎) to represent the Realm of Desire. He said,

When Qi [prāṇ‎a] enters into the central channel and travels through it, a great blissful pleasure is generated as a result of the rubbing of Qi against the central channel. It is a kind of enraptured, soothing, yet divine ecstasy not unlike the euphoria engendered in sexual orgasms. However, bliss generated by the moving of Qi inside the central channel lasts longer and is more sublime. (Lu 1996, Bk 120, 71)

This bliss, Lu clarifies, is not the kind of “buoyant ease” (qingan 輕安‎) generally referred to as associated with meditation. It is instead the authentic “great bliss” (damiao xile 大妙喜樂‎) generated by the practice of wind. It is also known as the “Dharma Taste” (fale 法樂‎) enjoyed by devas in the (p.324) Realm of Desire. In other words, entering this level of practice virtually places one in Heaven. The blissful Realm of Desire is captivating because the sensations experienced there are solid, concrete, and, at the same time, sublime, according to Lu.

The Realm of Form: Clear Light

The Clear Light echoes the Clear Light Yoga in the Six Yogas of Nāropa. It builds upon the vase breathing technique and the inner heat yoga. Tsongkhapa described it as follows,

One places the mind firmly . . . causing the energies from the side channels of rasana and lalana to enter, abide and dissolve within the central channel, arousing the four emptiness(es), and giving rise to the amazing clear light consciousness of the path. When this occurs one observes the mind of the great innate ecstasy and then holds to it. (Mullin 1996, 84)

The Clear Light Yoga essentially refers to engaging in the inner heat yoga in order to collect the vital energies into the central channel and cause them to abide and dissolve, melting the drops at the crown cakra and giving rise to the bliss. When the drops pass through the channels of the body, clear light is generated (Lu 1995c, 2:182–183). Generating the experience of this clear light through yogic endeavor is the main purpose of Highest Yoga Tantra. When this is achieved, according to Lu, one enters into the Realm of Form, where desires for food and sexual pleasure are transcended, but palaces (of form) still exist, thus giving rise to the name “Realm of Form.” The sensations and awareness that one experiences throughout the eighteen heavens in the Realm of Form do overlap, although each has its own uniqueness. There is already the manifestation of clear light, as a result of one’s practice, within the Realm of Form, and the heavens may be distinguished from one another by the scope, intensity, and color of the light. There are two kinds of light manifestation: self-engendered and other-engendered.

The Realm of Formlessness

The Realm of Formlessness is a realm without any material existence, body, or palace (of Deities). There is only the abiding of consciousness (p.325) in a deep and subtle state of meditative stillness. Lu thinks that generally, perceptions experienced during samādhi consist of an incredible feeling of buoyant lightness or a sensation of bathing in an ocean of light. Or one may experience a loss of localization where there is no longer the duality of large versus small, outside versus inside. Contained within one is the whole, infinite universe, which is without any top or bottom, pervading everything. When all such sensations and perceptions cease to exist, when the euphoria and ecstasy vanish, when bathing in the clear light disappears, at such a moment one’s Perfect and Bright Self Nature manifests itself (Lu 1996, Bk 120, 58). Lu uses the following metaphor:

One’s own pure Dharmakāya is the Child Light (ziguang 子光‎). The nature of the supreme cosmic consciousness is the Mother Light (muguang 母光‎). It is only when all discursive thoughts are eliminated and one abides in the realm of the light that the Child Light manifests itself. It is the very pure state of the Child Light that attracts the Mother Light of the supreme cosmic consciousness. As the Child Light spins and ascends through the central channel, both these lights merge into one, (ziguang yu muguang heyi 子光與母光合一‎) these two lights which in truth are of the same essence. Like old friends who meet again, these pure lights merge into each other. This is in essence the final return to the Ocean of Vairocana; (huigui piluxinghai 會歸毘盧性海‎) entering into Nirvana, achieving enlightenment. (Lu 1984, Bk 51, 113; Dilgo 1999, 59)14

The individual self is, therefore, infused with the cosmic spirit during his or her meditative absorption in Mahāmudrā. One then has become one with the Supreme Consciousness. The scheme of the True Buddha Dharma is such that one begins cultivating with devotion and giving. Devotion refers especially to the root guru through the practice of Guru Yoga, and moving on to the practice of inner cultivation and meditation. According to Lu, it helps to dissolve one’s spirit and mind into the greater world of cosmic consciousness. This Samādhi of Observation has arisen from the accomplishment of realizing that all past, present, and future states are indivisible, that one is all and all is one, and that all phenomena of birth and extinction are illusory. Lu calls it the seeing of the very nature of all phenomena (zhaojian yiqiefa de benxing 照見一切法的本性‎) (Lu 1984, Bk 51, 132), which is the experience of enlightenment.

(p.326) Concluding Remarks: The Chinese Feature of the True Buddha School’s Tantric Dharma

I have argued elsewhere that the True Buddha School is a new school of Chinese Tantric Buddhism, rather than a new religion (Tam 2007). This is because the teachings as found in the True Buddha School are a continuation of a long tradition of Tantric Buddhism. Many Buddhist schools originating in Taiwan have eventually become international movements. Some of them would put emphasis solely on charity (Learman 2005, 185–209).15 The True Buddha School, however, stresses the importance of daily religious cultivation. Lu teaches his lay disciples to engage in cultivation once a day, and monks and nuns to do so four times a day. As can be seen from the earlier discussion, the True Buddha School practice starts with the external practice that hinges on the purification of body, speech, and mind through the use of mudrā, mantra and maṇḍ‎ala. More concrete is the practice of Guru Yoga, that is, the Yoga of Padmakumāra, which is a form of sādhana (spiritual exercise). The internal practice for advanced practitioners has to do with the Inner Heat Yoga, the foundation for the Six Yogas of Nāropa as taught by the Tsongkhapa. The idea is to direct vital energies into the central channel, giving rise to the innate clear light (jingguang 淨光‎) in the heart cakra (Lu 2005–6, v2, 104).

All these teachings can be found in the Tantric Buddhist tradition. What makes the True Buddha School a Chinese Tantric School is that these teachings are now, for the first time, taught to the general public in lucid modern Chinese. Master Lu, through the publication of over 240 books, has worked to propagate his teachings to a very broad audience. Besides the medium of teaching and the fact that a great majority of the members of the school are Chinese or Chinese in diaspora, the Tantric doctrines of the school have become embedded in Chinese religiosity. In expounding Tantric doctrines, Daoist vocabularies and theologies are amply used. For the internal practice, for instance, Lu compares its elements with those in Daoism:

Jing 精‎ is light drops (mingdian 明點‎).

Qi 氣‎ is prāṇ‎a.

Shen 神‎ is the manifestation of light and wind in the channels (guangming fengmai 光明風脈‎).

And again, utilizing the vocabulary of the Daoist inner alchemy tradition, Lu explains, (p.327)

When the psychic heat reaches the crown chakra, the white bodhicitta (white drops) at the crown chakra melts and drips downwards via the path of the tongue that is pressing against the upper palate. This fluid is known in the Daoist teaching as the heavenly court water, and is called nectar in the Buddhist teaching. The fluid has the characteristic of cooling, and when mixed with the psychic heat produces a nurturing effect. This is known as the mixing of water and fire (shuihuoji 水火濟‎). The practice of psychic heat (lingre 靈熱‎) and the practice of inner fire and drops (neihuo mingdian 內火明點‎) are similar. (Lu 1984, Bk 51, 26)

Lu also matches many practices with the Daoist practices:

The “Sword Tempering Method” (zhujianfa 鑄劍法‎) is a foundation practice of the Highest Tantra, the “Great Incubating Method” (dawenyang 大溫養‎) is equivalent to the Treasure Vase Qi and Psychic Heat practices, the “Pill Cauldron Practice” (Dingdan fa 丹田法‎) is the “light drop” practice, and the “Ultimate Correct Method” (wuji zhengfa 無極正法‎) results in the emergence of Clear Light and the Void (Jingguang kongxing 淨光空性‎). (Lu 1996, Bk 120, 44)

Master Lu once claimed, “I am an accomplished adept who epitomizes the teachings and practices of all Buddhist and Daoist schools” (2002, Bk 154, 44).

In analyzing the sādhana practice, Master Lu says,

In my opinion, the “Self-Power Personal Deity” is what is referred to in Daoism as the “Original or Principal Spirit” [yuan shen 元神‎]. (mijiao zilibenzun ji daojiao yuanshen 密教自力本尊即道教元神‎) (Lu 1996, Bk 120, 153)

In my [40th] book, The Secret Daoist Method of Spiritual Communication, I have written about the Daoist methods of cultivating the Original Spirit:

  1. 1. Observe one’s own Original Spirit (spirit-viewing method; guanshen 觀神‎)

  2. 2. Respiration of the cosmic qi and light to reveal the spirit (spirit-nourishing method; peishen 培神‎)

  3. 3. True formula to reveal the image (spirit-manifestation method; xianshen 顯神‎)

  4. (p.328) 4. Contracting and merging with the spirit (spirit-union method; heshen 合神‎)

  5. 5. The miracle of bi-location (spirit-traveling method; chushen 出神‎) (Lu 1982, Bk 40, 4 &43).

Lu believes the Self-Power Personal Deity is a luminous body that is engendered when qi enters into the central channel and transmutes into the five-fold rainbow light. Even on the level of external practice, one recognizes Daoist elements by simply walking into one of the temples of the True Buddha School. On the altar, one could easily find the Golden Mother of the Primordial Pond, the chief goddess of the immortals in the Daoist western paradise. Associated with the peach of immortality, she bestows longevity to beings. This is because the rise of the True Buddha School is closely related to a temple group in Taiwan called the Compassion Society (the Cihui Tang) that worships the Golden Mother of the Primordial Pond (Jordan and Overmyer 1986). Through a female medium who belonged to the Compassion Society temple, Qiandai 青代‎ (d. 2006), Master Lu was suddenly given, without his prior consent, the ability to see and communicate with the spiritual world (Lu 2006, Bk 186, 42; Tam 2001). Some of the temples even have a separate altar for Daoist gods and goddesses, such as the city god, the Jade Emperor, and the dragon god. An altar for the Taisui 太歲‎, or the Year Planetary Ruler, who is a Daoist star deity, and for the earth god is a must in all the temples of the True Buddha School. A Chinese device for divination is also sure to be found. This consists of a canister with 108 long strips of bamboo together with divination blocks, which are two moon-shaped pieces of wood with one side convex and the other flat, used to check with the right choice of bamboo strips.

More important is the ritual cycle of the School. Using the True Buddha School temple in Hong Kong as an example, we found the following rituals common to most True Buddha School temples:

  • Ritual for burning the first incense in a year (shang touzhuxiang 上頭炷香‎)

  • Ritual to celebrate the Chinese New Year (xinchun tuanbai fahui 新春團拜法會‎)

  • Ritual to bless the tablets for the living (changsheng luwei 長生祿位‎)

  • Ritual to install the Year Planetary Ruler (anfeng taisui 安奉太歲‎)

  • Ritual for deliverance of the souls during the Qingming Festival (Qingming chaodu fahui 清明超度法會‎)

  • (p.329) Ritual for deliverance of the souls during the Yu-Lan Pen-Hui (Feeding the Hungry Ghost Festival) (Yulan chaodu fahui 盂蘭超度法會‎).16

In most cases, “ritual” means a standard sādhana ritual in a tripartite model that lasts for one to two hours. These rituals reveal the nature of Tantric ritual in a Chinese setting. This was most obvious in our participatory observation of the ritual to celebrate Chinese New Year in the Hong Kong temple, when the chief deity is the Golden Mother. It was a homa ritual in which the mantra used was a combination of Sanskrit and Chinese: “oṃ‎ jinmu siddhi hūṃ‎.” Here only the word jinmu 金母‎ (Golden Mother) is Chinese, the others being Sanskrit.

Fang Litian方立天‎ (1933–2014), a renowned scholar in the field of Chinese Buddhist philosophy teaching in the Renmin University of China in Beijing, had identified three basic features of Chinese Buddhism.

  1. 1. The tendency to harmonize different trends of thoughts;

  2. 2. The tendency to integrate different schools of thinking;

  3. 3. The tendency to simplify complicated doctrines and practices (1988, 378–411).

The fact that a single cultivation session requiring three to four hours to complete in the Tibetan schools of Tantric Buddhism is simplified, within the True Buddha School, to a process that takes about forty minutes, without losing its essence, is an important feature of the sinification of Tantric Buddhism. Another feature of sinification is revealed by the fact that the True Buddha School itself is one of the most comprehensive systems of Tantric Buddhism, integrating the practices of different Tantric systems. Lu claimed to have integrated Tibetan, Chinese, and Japanese Esoteric Buddhist traditions. The popularity of the Tantric dharmas and rituals for worldly purpose (bhukti) or the Shijian fa 世間法‎ in the True Buddha School, especially the wealth god’s practice or the Jambhala practice, is another feature of Chinese Buddhism, namely a positive evaluation of the phenomenal world and a vision of Buddhism that affirms life in this world (Gregory 1991, 7, 13). I have also argued elsewhere that there is an integration of a magical discourse with a cultivational discourse in the True Buddha School (Tam 2001). These are some of the recurring themes in Chinese intellectual history, and they also serve as evidence that the Tantric Buddhism of the True Buddha School has accommodated itself to Chinese cultural values.

(p.330) A recent development in the teachings of the True Buddha School is an attempt to integrate the Chan School of thought with the Tantric teachings in the form of commentary on the Chan text Wudeng Huiyuan 五燈會元‎ (Lu 2005, Bk 182; 2006, Bk 184, 188; 2007 Bk 192, 195; 2008, Bk 199; 2009, Bk 207, 211).17 Emphasis is put on the potentiality for Buddhahood that existed embryonically within all sentient beings as the womb of the Tathāgata (tathāgatagarbha). This new development uses Chan concepts, such as the idea of a teaching that does not rely on the written word but instead points directly to the human mind. The analysis of this process of integration of Chan Buddhism with Tantric Buddhism in the True Buddha School, however, has to be addressed in a future publication.



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Lu Sheng-yen. 2005. Book #181. Zhijin yitiao minglu 指引一條明路‎ [Point Towards a Sunny Path]. Taiwan, Taoyuan: Daden Culture.

(p.334) Lu Sheng-yen. 2005. Book #182. Bukeshuo zhi shuo 不可說之說‎ [The Unspoken Dharma]. Taiwan, Taoyuan: Daden Culture.

Lu Sheng-yen. 2006. Book #184. Geini dianshang xindeng  給你點上心燈‎ [Illuminating Your Hear—A Reading of the Chan Text Wudeng Huiyuan 五燈會元‎]. Taiwan, Taoyuan: Daden Culture.

Lu Sheng-yen. 2006. Book #186. Jimo de jiaoyin 寂寞的腳印‎ [Lonesome Footprints]. Taiwan, Taoyuan: Daden Culture.

Lu Sheng-yen. 2006. Book #188. Songni yizhan mingdeng 送你一箋明燈‎ [A Bright Lamp for You—A Second Re-reading of the Chan Text Wudeng Huiyuan]. Taiwan, Taoyuan: Daden Culture.

Lu Sheng-yen. 2007. Book #192. Tianxia diyi jingcai 天下第一精采‎ [Lamp of Utmost Brilliance—A Third Re-reading of the Chan Text Wudeng Huiyuan]. Taiwan, Taoyuan: Daden Culture.

Lu Sheng-yen. 2007. Book #194. Menghuan de suixiang 夢幻的隨想‎ [Illusory Journal]. Taiwan, Taoyuan: Daden Culture.

Lu Sheng-yen. 2007. Book #195. Shiguren di yahui 拾古人的牙慧‎ [Ancient Wisdom—A Fourth Re-reading of the Chan Text Wudeng Huiyuan]. Taiwan, Taoyuan: Daden Culture.

Lu Sheng-yen. 2008. Book #199. Fenglai bolangqi 風來波浪起‎ [The Billowing Waves—A Fifth Re-reading of the Chan Text Wudeng Huiyuan]. Taiwan, Taoyuan: Daden Culture.

Lu Sheng-yen. 2008. Book #203. Guying di duihua 孤影的對話‎ [Conversing with the Lonesome Shadow—A Sixth Re-reading of the Chan Text Wudeng Huiyuan]. Taiwan, Taoyuan: Daden Culture.

Lu Sheng-yen. 2009. Book #207. Nianhuashou di mimi 蓮花手的秘密‎ [Unlocking the Flower Koan—A Fifth Re-reading of the Chan Text Wudeng Huiyuan]. Taiwan, Taoyuan: Daden Culture.

Lu Sheng-yen. 2009. Book #211. Yizhijian shexiang cangtian 一支箭射向蒼天‎ [An Arrow Shooting to the Sky—A Eighth Re-reading of the Chan Text Wudeng Huiyuan]. Taiwan, Taoyuan: Daden Culture.

Melton, Gordon. 2007. “The Emergence of the True Buddha School in Taiwan and the West.” Paper presented at the annual meeting (June 7, 2007) of the Center for Studies on New Religions (CESNUR), University of Bordeaux, Bordeaux, France.

Mullin, Glenn H. 1996. Tsongkhapa’s Six Yogas of Naropa. Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion Publications.

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Puji. 1905–1912. Wudeng huiyuan 五燈會元‎ [The Five History on Transmission of the Lamp in the Chan School of Buddhism] Collected in Dai Nippin zokuzōkyō. Kyoto: Zōkyō shoin. Reprint, Taipei: Xin wenfeng chuban gongsi, 138: 1–832.

(p.335) Randeng 燃燈‎ [Enlightenment Magazine]. Taizhong: Taiwan Leizang si.

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(1.) The three founders of Chinese Tantrism are Śubhākarasiṃ‎ha (Shan Wuwei 善無畏‎) (d. 735), Vajrabodhi, and Amoghavajra as recorded by Zanning 贊寧‎ (919–1001) in his Song Gaoseng zhuan 宋高僧傳‎ [Eminent Monks during the Song Dynasty] in Taishō Shinshū Daizōkyō 50:709ff.

(2.) Zhang Daoling 張道陵‎ (34–156) met spiritual Laozi at Mt. Heming and later founded the Way of the Celestial Masters (Tianshi Dao 天師道‎) school of Daoism. The female Daoist Wei Huacun 魏華存‎ (251–334) met the spiritual immortal Qingxu 清虛‎, who transmitted to her various Daoist texts, on the basis of which she formed the Maoshan 茅山‎ School of Daoism. Gexuan 葛玄‎ (164–244) met three spiritual immortals sent by Laozi at Mt. Tiantai, who transmitted to him the Lingbao texts, based on which he founded the Lingbao 靈寶‎ school of Daoism.

(3.) It is listed under the World Directory of Buddhist Organization Hong Kong given in http://www.mba.net.my/BuddDatabase/Contact/World/w-address-hongkong.htm. The address of the Jingyin temple was also given in Lu 1983, Bk 48, 193.

(4.) The address of the temple is Zhongheshi zhongshanlu erduan 中和市中山路‎ 568 xiang 巷‎ 66 hao 號‎. For a brief introduction to the temple, see http://library.taiwanschoolnet.org/cyberfair2002/C0216220096/page/zong-chi-si/zong-chi-si.htm.

(5.) (1) Boundless kindness or bestowing of joy or happiness; (2) boundless pity to save from suffering; (3) boundless joy on seeing others rescued from suffering; (4) limitless indifference, i.e. rising above these emotions, or giving up all things. See Soothill and Hodous ([1937] 1982, 178).

(6.) The Mogao Grottoes, also known as the Caves of the Thousand Buddhas and Dunhuang Caves, form a system of 492 temples 25 km (15.5 miles) from the center of Dunhuang, an oasis strategically located at a religious and culture crossroads on the Silk Road, in Gansu province, China. The cave contains some of the finest examples of Buddhist art spanning a period of 1,000 years. Construction of the Buddhist cave shrines began in 366 CE as places to store scriptures and art.

(7.) Despite the fact that Deliverance Ritual (Bardo) in the True Buddha School is known to be very effective, Master Lu admitted in a lecture delivered on January 5, 1999, in Seattle that he was not able to save the soul of one relative of his former wife, Rev. Master Lianxiang 蓮香‎. Lu said he chanted the scripture but he knew that he was not able to deliver the soul of the relative of his wife (Lu 2006b, 4:174–175).

(8.) In Chinese, buduanyinnuchi yibuyuju 不斷婬怒癡‎, 亦不與俱‎. See Weimojie suoshuo jing 維摩詰所說經‎ [Scripture Spoken by Vimalakīrti], T. 475, 14:p540b24.

(9.) In Chinese, xianyiyugouqian houlingrufodao 先以欲鉤牽‎, 後令入佛道‎. See Weimojie suoshuo jing, T. 475, 14: 550b7.

(10.) Practices of the Vidyārājas that had been taught by master Lu includes the Practice of Yamāntaka 大威德金剛‎ (Seattle 1995), Hevajra 喜金剛‎ (Seattle 2008), Ucchuṣ‎ma 穢跡金剛‎ (New York 1997), Kālacakra 時輪金剛‎ (Hong Kong 2000), Acala 不動明王‎ (Seattle 1997), Rāgarāja 愛染明王‎ (Hong Kong 1998), and Hayagrīva 馬頭明王‎ (Seattle 2000).

(11.) The full title for Yuanjue jing is Dafangguang yuanyue xiuduoluo liaoyijing 大方廣圓覺修多羅了義經‎ found at T. 842, 17:913a21–922a24.

(12.) The inner heat Yoga was taught by Master Lu in an annual ceremony in Seattle, which took place in September 1994.

(13.) The four levels of Mahāmudrā were revealed by the retinues of Mañjuśrī called the Eight Youths of Mañjuśrī, whom Master Lu met on a pilgrimage to Mt. Wutai in his meditation.

(14.) Cf. the metaphor of uniting the “Mother luminosity” and “Child luminosity” in order to liberated into the dharmakāya in his discussion of Atiyoga by Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche (1999, 59).

(15.) The most representative group is the Ciji Gongde Hui 慈濟功德會‎, founded by the Buddhist nun Zhengyan 證嚴‎ (b. 1937). See the study of this group by C. Julia Huang (Learman 2005, 185–209).

(16.) For a timetable of the True Buddha School Temple in Hong Kong from the period of 2003 to 2007, see http://www.hklts.org.hk/Main/index.php?option=com_content&view=category&id=39&Itemid=69.

(17.) The Chan text Wudeng Huiyuan consists of five works: Jingde Chuandenglu 景德傳燈錄‎, Tiansheng Guangdenglu 天聖廣燈錄‎, Liandeng huiyao 聯燈會要‎, Jianzhong jingguo xudenglu 建中靖國續燈錄‎, and Jiatai pudenglu 嘉泰普燈錄‎. The anthology is found in 卍‎ Xuzangjing v. 138 (Puji 1905–1912).