Prajna Akasagarba/Akasha Yoga
Prajna Akasagarba Movement Dharma
Lecture given by: Living Buddha Dechan Jueren, 28 Sep 2002
Clear Light Temple
Amherst Octagon Room, Amherst, Massachusetts
Translated by: Jaliniprabhakumara
Transcribed by: Decheng
Wisdom will only come through one’s own effort, and it will only happen naturally. Wisdom cannot be given to you by anyone else. Only through your own effort and practice will you realize wisdom.
This afternoon’s Akasagarbha movement exercise involves 16 different moves, or body mudras. Through these 16 movements we will begin to develop this readiness to realize wisdom. Through our bodies, they will join in one with our minds and dissolve into our consciousness so we may truly have wisdom reveal. Just before you have wisdom reveal, the first sign that you are getting closer is you have good health. Only when your body is free from the suffering and pain of illness will you have that energy … will you focus your mind on wisdom. If you are so preoccupied with other things, such as illness, wisdom will not arise. Frankly, if someone is occupied with such a thing as serious illness, then he will not have the attention on wisdom.
Through this movement exercise, practice everyday. A period of time later, you will feel that you have much more stamina. That is…you are laying the foundation to attain wisdom. In the beginning of this practice, you may begin to feel very strong sensations as you move through….even if you only learn one movement in the Akasagarbha you may still feel very strong sensations. Once you have learned well and memorized all the steps involved in the movement, and you begin to practice day by day you may feel that sensations are getting stronger. You may feel like your arms are attached to bungee cords, as you move in one direction, something is pulling the other way.
If you continue to practice everyday, after a while you begin to feel the sensation becomes less and less to the point you no longer feel it. Some of you will begin to wonder, how come the more I practice, the less I feel now? What’s the principle behind it? Very simple. When you feel that sensation, it’s because the friction ….. something that’s stationary and something that’s moving. If you make something stand still at this spot, and have another thing pass by it quickly, there will create a friction, you may hear a sound.
At the beginning, when you are learning the Akasagarbha movements, you have what the Buddhists call the alaya seeds, consciousness seeds, sleeping in your body vs. every alaya seed in space that is awakened. The alaya seeds in your body are asleep, the alaya seeds in space are awakened. It’s like a stationary object and moving objects. That’s why you feel this kind of sensation, because of friction.
Why do mundane people lack wisdom? Very simple, as I described, their alaya seeds, or the seeds of their consciousness are asleep in their bodies. The seeds of the consciousness, the alaya seeds in space, they are alive, they are awakened. That’s why in the beginning as you are practicing everyday, you feel there is a big sensation, and feel the friction very strongly. But the more discipline … you practice every day, after awhile you feel less and less sensation. It simply means the alaya seeds in your body are awakening. Gradually, the more you practice, each of your seeds, the alaya seeds in your body are waking up. The more you practice, the less sensation you will now feel. Naturally, to the point where you feel nothing anymore. What’s the reason for that? Very simple. The alaya seeds in space are alive, are moving. So are the alaya seeds in your body, they have also awakened and are moving. They will naturally move together, like the water in the ocean, they are now in sync.
For example, one is moving, and the other is moving at the same speed, then between the two objects there is no more friction. Friction is only created when there is a difference in speed, when one is stationary and one is moving. When they are moving together, you do not feel that sensation of friction.
Very simple underlying principles of the human body have been realized by the easterners long ago. So some really intelligent easterners have developed it into a system of practice they call qi gong. There’s an incorrect view on the whole reality. When westerners learn qi gong, they really don’t know the whole thing. They really do not understand. For example, when they learn about qi gong in the beginning, some will begin to feel they do feel more of this kind of sensation of qi, and it’s really wonderful and it’s working, and so on.
If you understand the principle behind every phenomenon of nature, then you realize it’s simply a friction between one thing stationary and one thing moving. Why do I want to cover this point? I want to bring it up and mention it, for those who have learned qi gong before, as you are doing the Akasagarbha movements, you may feel even stronger sensations than qi gong practice. Some of you may begin to think that perhaps this practice is also qi gong. In reality, the real kind of qi gong practice, the old traditions, they don’t have this kind of sensation that they focus on. It’s not important.
Of course, I don’t know much about what goes on in the United States here, but I spend most of my time in Los Angeles. For those that I have met in L.A. that are doing qi gong, there are really no masters at all. I’m from China. I know those that can truly be called a master of qi gong. In China, there are only 11 people. For those 11 people, it will be impossible for them to go to a foreign country. Very simple, they are the real masters of qi gong in China, the government will not allow them to leave China.
You must understand this principle about stationary and moving objects in space. For these last few days, for those who have heard my talks, you may begin to realize Buddhism is a very scientific study of direct experiences of reality. In reality, there are no fantasies or fairy tale stuff, as most people will perceive. Some people’s perceptions of Buddhist teachings, some things about Buddhism are very mysterious.
What is a mystery, what is a secret? It’s only perceived so by those who don’t know. Therefore, some people in the pursuit of Buddhism make that into a mystery because they don’t know themselves, so you will perceive them to be very advanced practitioners. Perhaps they fear that you will get to know them well. The real knowledge, should have no fears about somebody else learning, allowing somebody else to learn the real knowledge.
As I said many times in the past, I came to the U.S. to transmit dharma, and my intention is to make sure Americans do learn the dharma well. Therefore, as long as you want to learn, if you have any questions, do ask them, make sure you understand. But at the same time, I do have a requirement for my students. I require that my students must surpass me. Only a student that has surpassed me will be considered a good student. If you are unable to surpass me, then you will never be able to catch up to me. Why do I require that my students must surpass me? Because only when the newer generation surpasses the previous generation can we really propagate the teaching of Buddha dharma.
Because all and everything in this world, in this universe, continually evolves. There is no such thing as the highest. Everything continues to mature and evolve. If you say there is a highest point, then that means there is a finish line, once you cross over that line, that’s it. There’s nothing more, then you stop. You will no longer move on, you are no longer evolving. In this world, there is no such thing as the best kind, or the highest type of culture or knowledge. For ordinary … continually evolve, it’s boundless, there’s no finish line to it. It’s waiting for us to explore, to understand, and to develop.
We will begin the movement practice now. There’s actually very little time tonight to cover all the stuff in the Akasagarbha movement. A few hours is kind of like jamming and crashing it through. In the esoteric practice you will not only learn about the mudras, in this way the body movement becomes the mudra, the whole movement becomes the body mudra, you also have to learn the mantra and the visualization. Therefore, use your time efficiently, and pay attention. Once you learn it, review it again and again and practice them everyday. Once you remember what you have learned and remember how to do it, it doesn’t necessarily mean that you have attained to that level of proficiency or that you have attained the dharma.
The idea of accomplishing your practice that you have attained the dharma, is you have really put in that effort to practice to get to a higher stage, through your continual practicing, and continually changing yourself. You are actually able to connect the movements to your body and your mind. That’s when you will have an experience of transcendence. Only when you have that new transcendence happen can you say you are getting somewhere in the sense of attaining dharma, or that you have become proficient at it. If you only remember how to do it, it doesn’t mean you know how to do it right. So please do understand what I am trying to convey here. I hope you will to attain to dharma soon, as long as you pay attention and learn well. OK, we will begin.
Kuo: In the visualization, there’s only one underlying thing throughout the whole movement. There are not so many things to think about, really. Only different aspects of that same underlying thing. Toward the last stage…Akasagarbha heart mudra, you are this boundless purity, reveal transparent light. Transcends all and everything in the universe. What’s the theme? Purity, light, transcendence, three aspects of the same thing.
Master: We have very little time to cover all the material, so it’s impossible for you to be able to do the movement with the mantra and visualization together right now. You will need to memorize all the material on your own. When you practice on your own, you should first focus on the movement, memorize the sequence of the movement and do them correctly.
Whenever you have time, try to memorize the mantra. You can chant it in silence and continuously, over and over again. Once you can memorize the mantra, you can do the movement together with the mantra. The mantra should be chanted in silence throughout the whole thing, from beginning to end. Once you have the mantra and the movement down pretty good, then you can gradually add pieces of the visualization into your movements.
Do understand, the real dharma practice, the real kind of meditation is not that easy to learn. Prajna Akasagarbha is the dharma practice attained by Akasagarbha bodhisattva. According to Buddhist mythology, Akasagarbha bodhisattva practiced this particular meditation, with these particular movements to attain to enlightenment. In the mandala or the pantheon of Buddhas and bodhisattvas in Buddhism, Akasagarbha bodhisattva is considered the wealthiest bodhisattva. In other words, in the sense of the hierarchy, Akasagarbha bodhisattva will be placed at the highest as the wealthiest, in terms of wealth. Whatever Jambhala or wealth gods, they all fall under the rule of Akasagarbha bodhisattva.
By practicing this Akasagarbha movement, not only will you have good health, wisdom, and so on. Of course at the same time, I think most people think about wealth, your prosperity will also be increased many fold. Whether you notice the difference or not, before we began the class tonight, and after we have practiced in this room, you may sense the difference in the air and atmosphere of this room. If you all get together to practice in a group, that will actually even work better. Because in group practice you can actually change the environment around that area. The air will be clearer. Any questions in regard to this movement that you didn’t understand?
Q: How long should we take to do the whole thing? An hour?
Kuo: You should really slow it down, and relax. As slow as you can. It should be even slower than you can. How much time is really up to you. If you find that you don’t have the time for that, you could easily be practicing one movement for 5 or 10 minutes. Ten minutes for that one movement is really enough time to slow it down and experience it for yourself.
Q: Should we keep our eyes open or closed?
Kuo: Doesn’t matter. But in reality, you should keep your eyes closed because most people, they are easily tempted, they will be distracted by other stuff.
Q: What if you feel like your mind gets into this really quiet state? Should you continue with the mantra?
Kuo: What do you mean?
Q: What if you feel like the mantra and visualization distract you? Like if the movement is doing something, and you’re not doing the mantra and visualization….something was happening for me, and the minute I tried to do the mantra and visualization it stopped.
Master: In the beginning when you are still learning, you may feel the mantra and visualization is hampering your movement. If you really want to go into a much deeper state, then you have to have all three performed at the same time. Of course, while you are practicing this you can just focus on the movement without doing the mantra and visualization. Then you should also be memorizing or chanting the mantra at different times, so the mantra becomes second nature, its always going on in your head. You can easily be doing the movement, once you become very proficient in the movement, and the mantra will be going on at the same time. You don’t have to make that effort to keep the mantra going at the same time. You don’t have to make that effort to keep the mantra going at the same time you are doing the movement because it will be going on by itself.
Once you get the mantra and the mudra down pretty well, you can add the visualization one movement at a time. If you try to learn them all at once, you may find the mantra and visualization hamper your movements. Do realize, that just by doing the movement alone, you can experience this very calm state. What you will get is only 1/3 of the whole thing. Even if you were to combine the mantra with your movement, you still miss the other 1/3.
In reality, visualization is the most important. When you are able to focus well and visualize, and completely incorporate it into your practice, then that’s when you will attain the highest perfection. In reality, you haven’t realized yet, why do you do all these visualizations, with all this light and different colors of light? The light is simply the sound. Each color represents a seed sound, a seed syllable.
I remember someone asked the question, how much time should I spend, should I practice the movement faster or slower? Tonight, you haven’t really practiced yet. When you really practice, it’s different. If you really experience that deeper calm state, and you really practice well, then you will not be able to make it fast. You have not yet entered that state. If you really enter that state and practice it, no matter how fast you will make it, it will still take you 1-½ hours for you to finish it. Toward the end of your practice, if you become very skilled, you will no longer be thinking about the steps, you will naturally flow through the whole thing. Then it becomes natural.
Why? As I mentioned in the very beginning tonight, the alaya seeds in space are alive, are constantly moving. The alaya seeds in your body are dormant, asleep. So when you begin to do this, your alaya seeds in your body are still dormant, asleep. The more you practice, you may feel this sensation, and gradually you don’t feel that sensation anymore because now the alaya seeds are gradually awakening. Eventually, toward the end, your movement becomes natural, you don’t have to think about it, because now the alaya seeds in your body are awakened. You will follow the alaya seeds in space and move according to the heartbeat of the universe, not your own speed.
Q: Can you explain alaya seed?
Kuo: Alaya seed is a Buddhist term. There’s really no English equivalent. Some people translate it only on the intellectual level as the 8th consciousness. A sense that’s beyond your 6th and 7th sense. Some people try to understand it as subconsciousness, which is really not correct.
Master: What I can observe from you and from what you have mentioned, I realize you also have delved very much into these kind of studies and Buddhist teachings. I also sense that whatever you have learned before in the past, you don’t really understand about alaya consciousness.
Some people in this room who have studied Buddhism understand a little about alaya consciousness or the 8th consciousness, but how many have heard of the 9th consciousness, or amara? What about manas, the higher mind, or the 7th consciousness, how much do you understand about that?
We can put it in these terms, alaya seeds are the seeds of wisdom. So in this universe, this vast space is composed or filled with infinite numbers of alaya seeds. Whatever in the universe is also comprised or filled with alaya seeds, then your body, they are all alaya seeds. Have you ever wondered why the universe is so perfect, all the heavenly bodies all will move in a certain order? It’s natural for them. Why? Because the alaya seeds in space are continually moving. They are alive.
The moment we are born as a human being, a human being is also perfect and natural, just like the universe, the alaya seeds are also moving in the body. As the baby grows up, because the baby becomes conditioned by his environment, his perception becomes skewed and limited. He arose to this understanding of the world as he perceived it. Therefore his alaya seeds gradually, as he grew older and older, went to sleep. As a person is growing up, he has desires, he identifies with himself and develops an ego, and therefore he begins to limit himself with his own ego, at the same time he is limited by the conditions of the environment.
In a way, there are so many constraining factors now, bondaging this consciousness so the alaya seeds in the body go to sleep. When the alaya seeds stop moving, ever since that point on, people are no longer natural or perfect beings. If you think about it, most people in this world, they live their lives trying to live up to an image. It’s a vanity. They put on a façade or mask. They are unwilling to be completely honest and receptive of others.
For example, people’s common habit is if they make a mistake, the most natural reaction, which is really unnatural, is to cover it up. They don’t want others to know. They will sweep it under the carpet and hide it as much as they can so others will not know about them. The more you have to hide, then the more vanity you are holding onto, and the more masks you are wearing. More so, more likely you will make that habit stronger and further on making your mistakes. People do not see this as they grow up.
Basically, if people realize they made a big mistake, they don’t want others to find out. For example, they may become so suspicious of others to the point, others are just talking about another subject, they will suspect the others are talking about them. Some things are very simple and obvious, it should be clear to a three year old. Adults make it complicated and they can’t understand.
Alaya seeds, if you put it in different terms, you could probably call them the positive force or positive seeds. The amara seeds or the 9th consciousness vs. the alaya, the 8th, the amara would be considered the negative, or the yin force. Manas, that higher mind sense, you can think of it as time. Alaya consciousness, and the amara consciousness, the 8th and 9th consciousness join together as positive and negative, as one. Two aspects of the same thing. Then, that enters the experience of time. Only through that experience of time does the higher mind, manas, the alaya and the amara as one, it enters time.
Q: Then you go back down?
Kuo: Think of it this way, the genesis of life. In the beginning, there is amara and alaya…let me put it another term…alaya is the wisdom, amara is the higher state which there is no describable term for that, therefore, wisdom is only the vehicle for the true self. We call…we term this thing the true self, but what exactly is the true self? Nobody really knows, there’s no word to describe it. In the beginning, wisdom becomes that vehicle for the true self, then in order to express, to make it understandable for the lower forms, you have to have the higher mind, or you enter time. In time there is a relative sense, the sentient beings can grasp, or they try to comprehend as past, present and future. If pre-higher mind, or pre-manas state, there’s no time. How do you understand about the universe, space and time? In a physical mind, you will never comprehend it. Sort of like that.
Q: So in some Buddhist writings I’ve read it’s called smashing through the 8th consciousness. You have to smash through that. If you smash through that, you enter into…..amara? When they talk about smashing through the 8th consciousness, what are they talking about?
Kuo: I don’t recall in my studies in the past anything about smashing the 8th consciousness.
Q: Smashing through. You have the 8th consciousness and you have to smash through to attain awakening.
Master: I have not heard that before. I don’t know where that comes from. That’s why, I often make a comment…for the last 1000 years or so, really very few attain enlightenment. Perhaps none. Is the master that is teaching the students to attain enlightenment already a Buddha?
If the teacher himself is not enlightened, can the teacher teach and guide the students to attain enlightenment before him? If the teacher himself has not seen the other shore of awakening, can the teacher show the road or the path to awakening to his students?
As you read the sutras, you really have to understand it’s completeness and do accordingly. In the process of doing and practicing and working on yourself, you will also run into many obstacles and difficulties. Very simple, this world you live in today, this environment, it’s not the same as 2500 years ago when the first sutra was written. In Shakyamuni’s time, over 2000 years ago, the political and economic system, people’s perception of the world and their understanding were completely different than today’s world. Personally, I feel the people then were much more simple and purer in their minds. In those days, many people began their pursuit of awakening and could easily attain to that state, but they still had to overcome many obstacles and personal difficulties.
That’s why gradually over these past 2000 years, enlightened teacher, in order to help his students, developed systems of abhiseka. It simply means baptism, Buddhist baptism. Ahbiseka is a way to overcome obstacles, cleanse the karma, and turn the soul of the receiver around so he can bypass all these obstacles.
I remember a few days ago somebody asked a question, “Is there a way or method we can open up all these chakras?” In the Hanmi school, we don’t talk about the chakras, we talk about the middle vein or the meridian line through your whole body. Yes, there is a method, I can open it up, and you can attain instant, complete opening. As I have answered a few days ago if some of you remember, if an average person learns the correct method and practices accordingly with great self-discipline, he will successfully open up his middle vein in 30 years.
In the esoteric school, if a student decides to become initiated as the formal disciple of an enlightened teacher, then the teacher will have to perform abhisekas for the student, because it’s the duty of the teacher to help the student to attain enlightenment. Then the first step of opening up the middle vein only requires 30 minutes.
What kind of disciple is qualified to have his middle vein opened by his teacher? Only a disciple who has been a year or more with his master and who has memorized all the basic mantras he has been taught, and practiced them diligently so he has laid a strong foundation so he can receive that. I think we passed the 9:00 mark, so that’s it for today.
Q: These 4 foundation practices, and then the Akasagarbha makes 5…which one do you pick? Are they all a package, or are they individual? Is it your training that these are basic practices, is that what you are saying?
A: These 5 foundation dharmas build on one another. It’s not that you have to practice all of them everyday. Practice whichever one that you are most inclined to, that you like the most. Then you can practice that one well. Once you get that one, then the rest are easy, and you can move on to another one. You don’t have to do all 5 everyday.