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202 - Sightings from Thousands of Miles Away

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Foreword  

        From the cover of this book, the subtitle - “The Wisdom Eyeand the Divine Eye” - indicates that the author, Sheng-Yen Lu, is someone who possesses the earth-penetrating eye, wisdom eye, divine eye, and other miraculous faculties. The kinds of sightings described in this book belong toan extraordinary kind of observation arising from meditation and spiritual responses (yogic union). As Sheng-Yen Lu also possesses “illusory bodies that can travel anywhere,” consequently he is able to see things from thousands of miles away, to appear in theEmpty Space” or to“enter into dreams” of his students to transmit teachings as well as blessings and perform healings.

        In the chapter Divine Table in the book, the author talked about how a female student Simone had expressed her desire to reside permanently in Seattle, yet Sheng-Yen Lu’s divine eye revealed that she “would drift awayto a place far, far away.” Simone herself felt that was impossible, but in the end, after a period of only three months, Simone got married and indeed moved far away to Philadelphia. In another chapter, one of Sheng-Yen Lu’s students in Malaysia, Reverend Mingyi, had developed a kidney stone and prayed to the Empty Space for help. As a result, during his meditation, the author extended hisillusory hand” which stretchedacross the Pacific Ocean and scooped out a stone the size of a bird’s egg from Reverend Mingyi’s kidney, xii providing arefreshing coolness to his whole being. The bird’s egg sized kidney stone indeed disappeared!

        Examples of such “sightings” from thousands of miles away are numerous in the book. It is evident that the author is not merely fully confident but also proud of his various spiritual responses and yogic powers.

           Yet, the author does not indulge in flaunting his supernatural abilities to his students and readers; he candidly states that in the face of “fixed karma,” even his great supernatural abilities are of no use. Through his compassion and “bodhicitta,” Sheng-Yen Lu guided a doomed True Buddha School student who could not avoid his fate and “cannot be saved,”enabling his bardo spirit (soul) to be reborn in the Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha. This was possible because the student was still able to experience ayogic response from homa ceremonies - his hands were able to form mudras.

        In another case, an ex-student who had broken the Samaya Pledge was enveloped by a great billowing dark cloud and tossed into the PoisonSea. The author uses this case as an example to admonish True Buddha students: Vajrayana cultivation places great emphasis on “Samaya.” Transgressors of theSamaya Pledge would be “banished to the three lower realms with no set date forrelease,” and even accumulated merits would be of no use.

        In addition, Sheng-Yen Lu does not forget to remind his students that “fame and money are dreams and illusions” and “nothing to be gained.” He exclaims that life is short and urges everyone to “start cultivating now,”otherwise it will be too late.

        In the chapter Observations on Contemporary Buddhism, Sheng Yen Lu discussed how with the arrival of the electronic age, Buddhism has to move towards “society,” towards “entering the world,” and mix with the “human world.” He feels that the current secularization of Buddhism is an understandable and inevitable social trend, but he emphasizes the Buddha’steaching that not only must practitioners xiii themselves engender the heart to renounce the world, they also need to help guide others to leave the burning house of samsara. He believes that True Buddha School should place equal importance onsecularization” and “transcending the world,” - not only emphasizingexistence”but also “emptiness,” and that the right view is the integration of both.

        In my personal opinion, the most fascinating chapters in the book are the eight chapters entitled Seeing the Buddha Again (1-8). These chapters record how Shakyamuni Buddha had entered into Grand Master Lu’s meditation andthe two engaged in a series of dialogue. These conversations contain no lack of Zen allegories and burst forth with thought-provoking sparks of wisdom. The following are some excerpts which I would like to share with readers:

Observing a solemn and dignified ceremony, a large assembly of Buddhist disciples engaging in the continual chanting of sutra, Shakaymuni Buddha asked, “Does the principle of Buddhadharma still exist in this?” Grand Master Lu replied, “It seems to exist; it seems not to exist.” The Buddha further asked, What is existence? What is emptiness?” The answer he got from Grand Master Lu was - “It cannot be known through sound or sight.” [Seeing the Buddha Again (1)]

 • The Buddha asked, “Why aren’t you working on expanding your territory [like other Buddhist groups]?” Grand Master replied,“I simply can’t see any territory!” Grand Master Lu also denied that he is the leader of True Buddha School. The Buddha asked, “If you are not the leader of True Buddha School, then for what purpose did you found True Buddha School?” Grand Master Lu replied, “It is just a temporary teaching establishment!” The Buddha refused to let up and pursued Grand Master Lu with another question, “Why are you continuing to teach dharma [if xiv you are not the leader of True Buddha School]?” The answer he received was indeed one full of profound meaning - “It cannot be spoken clearly, it cannot be spoken fully.” [Seeing the Buddha Again(2)]

 • Regarding the Buddha’s declarations that “whoever becomes one with Tao is number one” and “there is no number two,” Sheng-Yen Lu asked, “Why are all of them number one?” The Buddha replied, “Because everything is nothing, they are all number one.” [Seeing the Buddha Again (3)]

 • Grand Master Lu asked, “What is Humanistic Buddhism?” The Buddha replied, “Placing another Mount Sumeru upon Mount Sumeru.” [Seeing the Buddha Again (4)]

 • Grand Master Lu asked, “I really do see them [Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Tathata, and Buddha-nature]. Why can’t I talk about them?” The Buddha replied, “There is no separation from base reality.” (Both“seeing” and “not seeing” are fully contained within.) Also, the Buddha asked, “Of all the existing robes today, which would be the Tathagata’s robe?” The answer was “None!” To which the Buddha offered this vivid elaboration, “A saintremains a saint even if he doesn’t wear a robe, and an ordinary person remains ordinary even after donning a robe. [Seeing the Buddha Again (5)]

        Apart from the above-mentioned, one feature of Sheng-Yen Lu’sbooks is the inclusion and transmission of methods of cultivation and the liturgical steps of True Buddha Tantra. The chapters on “The Transmission ofthe Smoke Offering Sadhana,” “The Esoteric Method of the Yoga of Forceful Projection,” and “Kalachakra Shield Sadhana” would be especially attractive to True Buddha School students. The xv author states that the main purpose of the Smoke Offering Sadhana is to sweep away all obstacles so that the practitioner will attain good health, a smooth sailing career, auspiciousness in all undertakings, the transformation of negative situations into positive ones, the eradication of disasters, and accomplishment in cultivation. Attaining yogicunion with Kalachakra would enable one to uproot emotional afflictions and even control natural elements such as wind and rain. With such great powers attached to accomplishment in cultivation, how can students of True Buddha School not rush to learn these Vajrayana sadhanas?

        When I received the invitation to write the foreword for Sightings from Thousands of Miles Away, the 202nd book authored by Sheng YenLu, I was filled with trepidation. It is with great respect that I now pen my views and personal thoughts for this foreword. I can only quote wonderful passages from the book to share with everyone. I admit it may be challenging to comprehend the experiences of Sheng Yen Lu, but with an open mind one will surely be able to. A careful reader will be able to reap surprising results when reading deep and in between the lines!

 

Associate Professor Soo Khin Wah

University of Malaya

Malaysia