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Yen Sect (I)

75.1 Names
'Chen-yen' [u] is the pronunciation of two Chinese words [u] and
[], which means 'true' and 'word' respectively. Literally, Chen-yen
means 'words of truth'. It means it is the true words of the Buddha. This
school is considered as the third and final interpretation of the teachings of
the Buddha.
Chen-yen sect is regarded as Tantrayana [K] or Tantrism or Tantric
Buddhism. Tantra is a Sanskrit word, which means transmitting teachings
in esoteric way. It is a collective noun of manuals or handbooks that
describe the techniques for attaining enlightenment. The monk who is
proficient in using the manuals is called 'Guru' [Wv]. Tantra is a
complicated system of beliefs and practices, which is supposed to be
understood by the Gurus. It consists of Mantras (magic spells or sound),
Mandalas (occult diagrams) and Mudras (symbolic hand gestures).
The literal meaning of Chen-yen is Mantra, which means the mystical
syllables or formulae like spells, but it is the true 'words' from the Buddha.
As it plays a dominant role in this sect, it is also called Mantrayana or
This sect is also classified as Vajrayana []. 'Vajra' is a Sanskrit word,
which means 'diamond', and 'yana' means 'vehicle'. The Vajra is a core
symbol of Tantra. It was respected as the power-laden scepter of Indra,
ruler of the Vedric gods. As Vajra is a dominant symbol of this sect, it is
also called Diamond Vehicle. Vajra also refers to 'thunderbolt', which
symbolizes the 'Ultimate Truth' and the Enlightened Mind. It
represents the non-destructive nature of the perfection of wisdom and
compassion. It suggests the power of the enlightened mind, which can
destroy all spiritual obstacles. Thus, Vajra represents the final inspiration
of Tantric Buddhism.
In China, this sect is called 'Mi-tsung' [Kv] . 'Mi' [K] and 'tsung' [v]
are the pronunciation of two Chinese words, which means 'secret' and
'sect' respectively.

It is generally called Esoteric Buddhism. As different from other sects in

Buddhism, the transmission of the Way is performed in an esoteric
Tibetan Buddhism was developed when
Tantric Buddhism was introduced to Tibet
by an Indian monk Padmasambhava in 7th
century. As Tantrism is a dominant
religion in Tibet, it is sometimes called
Tibetan Buddhism, which may be blended
with Tibetan culture. For instance, a Guru
is called a Lama, but a Lama in Tibet
needs not to be a monk. Lama can be a
person who is proficient in Tantras.
Tibetan Buddhism is sometimes called
In Japan, it is called Shingon School.

75.2 Historical Development

By about 4th century, Mantras, Mudras, Mandalas and the depicting deities
were all found within some Mahayana Buddhism. These gradually became
systematized into what was to be Vajrayana, another particular vehicle
apart from Hinayana and Mahayana arising in India in 5th century.
Vajrayana had a great influence upon Tibet when it was transmitted to
Tibet in about 700 AD. Tibetan Buddhism will be discussed separately
Some Buddhist followers would like to elevate their spirit to the ultimate
reality by means of esoteric practices, such as upholding Mantras, instead
of comprehending the concept of emptiness, or the Absolute, etc. This
form of Buddhism is generally known as Tantric Buddhism.
Traditionally, it was said that Vairocana Buddha or the Great Sun
Tathagata transmitted the secret wisdom to Vajravatta, who locked up the
secret in an iron tower. Around 700 years later, Nagarjuna opened it and
continue to transmit the secret wisdom by the usual line of patriarchs.
Tantric Buddhism was later transmitted to China in 7th century.
75.3 The Three Great Patriarchs
75.3.1 Subhakarasimha

The first patriarch, Subhakarasimha, [L] (637-735 AD),

was the King of Orissa, however, he practiced Buddhism under
Dharmagupta in Nalanda. He was well versed in Yoga meditation,
Dharani (mystical verses) and Mudra (finger intertwining). He
started to preach in Kashmir and Tibet, and at last came to Changan in 716 AD, where he was well received by the Emperor Hsuantsung in Tang Dynasty. He worked with I-ching [qb] in the
selection of many important texts of esoteric doctrines, and they
translated the Mahavairocana Sutra (The Great Sun Sutra) and
other texts by 725 AD.
I-ching, one of the most remarkable figures in Chinese Buddhism,
studied Chan under Pu-chi, monastic disciplines and the
teachings of Tien-tai sect. He was also famous in astronomy and
mathematics. He began his study in Tantric Buddhism with
Vajrabodhi, who initiated him in 720. He joined Subhakarasimhas
translation work in Loyang later.
75.3.2 Vajrabodhi
The second arrival was Vajrabodhi [], who was also a novice
at Nalanda. At the age of 15, he went to West India and studied
logic for four years under Dharmakirti, but returned to Nalanda to
receive his full ordination at 20. For 9 years, he studied and
practiced Vinaya and Madhyamika, and later the Yogacara by
Asanga, the Vijnaptimatra (Mere Consciousness) by Vasubandha
and Madhyanta-vibhanga by Sthiramati. For the next 7 years, he
studied the Vajra-sekhara (i.e. Diamond Head) and other mystical
texts under Nagabodhi in South India. Finally, he sailed to China
and reached Loyang in 720. He translated several important
mystical texts, such as Vajrasekhara. He died in 741.
75.3.3 Amoghavajra
Amoghavajra [] was
the distinguished pupil of
Vajrabodhi in North India. He
followed Vajrabodhi to China, and
received ordination at the age of
20. In 12 years, he mastered all
the mystical doctrines and
practices. When Vajrabodhi died,
he went to Ceylon and studied
Vajra-sekhara-yoga and Maha-vairocana-garbhakosa under
Samantabhadra. He returned to Chang-an in 746. Amoghavajra

was an instructor of three successive emperors in Tang Dynasty.

He translated 110 different texts. He died in 774.
Of Amoghavajra's many outstanding disciples, it was one of the
youngest, Hui-kuo (746-805), who had great influence on later
Tantric history. He sought to unify the two lineages of Tantric
Buddhism, one from Vajtasekhara line from Amoghavajra and the
other from Hsuan-chao line from Subhakarasimha. Moreover, Huikuo also spread the Tantric Buddhism outside China to Japan.
Kukai, the disciple of Hui-kuo, who was a Japanese monk, was the
founder of Shingon sect of Esoteric Buddhism.
In the 10th century, Tantrism prevailed throughout Buddhism in
75.4 Principal Texts
The major Sutras in this sect are as follows:
1. The Mahavairocana Sutra, or The Great Sun Sutra, or The Great
Brillance Sutra [jg] is the principal text of this sect. The Sutra
was carried to China in 716 AD by Subhakarasimha, who also
translated it in 9 years. The first chapter sets forth the philosophy
that enlightenment is basically the understanding of one's mind as it
really is. It also describes different levels of awakening. The
following chapters present the Mandala and the Tantric practices
that lead the individual to the realization of the innate, enlightened
2. The Vajravada Sutra [g]
3. The Susiddhikara Sutra / Guhyasamaja Sutra [xag]
4. The Sarva-tathagata Tattvasamgraha Sutra [g]
Other major Shastras for reference are included, such as the Shastra on
Bodhicitta [ ].
76.1 The Three Wheels of Buddhism
The Buddha's teachings are classified into three, known as the Three
Wheels. The first wheel is Hinayana, which aims at personal liberation.
The second is Mahayana, which extends Buddhist liberation to other
people with universal compassion. The third wheel is Vajrayana, which
offers the effective ways to attain enlightenment. Vajrayana is considered
to be the final interpretation of the teachings of the Buddha, according to
Tantric Buddhism.
76.2 Three Mysteries

According to Chen Yen sect, the body, speech and thought of the Buddha
are the Three Mysteries, as ordinary practitioners are unable to see, to
hear and to think of them. Thus, it is necessary to have some means of
communion from the mystic power (Adhisthana in Sanskrit) of the Buddha,
which can be expressed through the three activities of human beings, i.e.
our body, speech and thought:
1. Body - it refers to the Mudra -- finger-intertwining
2. Speech - it refers to the Mantra, or Dharani
3. Thought - it refers to the Yoga concentration or Dhyana
Through the prescribed ritual, one can realize the perfect communion
between the Buddha and the practitioner. As everybody possesses these
three functions, all of which harbor secrets that lead to the attainment of
It is important to note that the rituals connected with the Three Mysteries
are transmitted orally from the Guru (teacher) to the disciple or practitioner.
76.3 Tantra
The word 'Tantra' has been discussed
in the beginning of previous chapter.
Tantric practice involves three things:
1. Reciting particular phrases and
words, also known as Dharani
[], which are secret
'codes' of the respective
Bodhisattvas and the Buddhas
2. Acting out ritual activities, which
have the effect of involving
body and emotions in religion
3. In conjunction with the first two
things, the visualization of
oneself as one of the
Bodhisattvas or Buddha.
There are two keys features of Tantra:
1. It seeks out the quick way to get insight, compared with years of
patient meditation,
2. It is generally performed only under the instruction of a Guru

76.4 Mantra
The word Mantra comes from the Sanskrit roots, 'manas' and 'tra', which
means 'mind' and 'tool' respectively. Mantras are invocations to Buddhas.
Tantric practitioners repeat them in order to forge Karmic connections
between themselves and meditative deities and to effect cognitive
restructuring through internalizing the divine qualities that the Mantra
The use of Mantra is essential in Tantric practice. According to its
practitioners, Mantra repetition is not simply an external activity in which
one vocalizes sounds, but an internal awakening of the cognitive potential
of the practitioner. According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, Mantras are
effective because they help keep your mind quiet and peaceful,
automatically integrating it into one-pointedness. They make your mind
receptive to very subtle vibrations and thereby heighten your perception.
Their recitation eradicates gross negativities and the true nature of things
can then be reflected in your mind's resulting in clarity. By practicing a
transcendental Mantra, you can in fact purify all the defiled energy of your
body, speech and mind.'
Mantras are tools of the mind. Tibetan Buddhism believes that the nature
of the universe is expressed in sound, in Mantra. The Mantra is thus a
powerful way to focus and attune mind or consciousness.
'Om' is the original Mantra. It is usually the first word of many Mantras in
Buddhism. 'Om' symbolizes the wholeness of things, the infinite and
perfect. Chanting a Mantra is a way to focus attention and direct oneself
into union with enlightened consciousness. It is also believed that, by
chanting the appropriate sounds and combinations of sounds, the
corresponding meaning or experience is evoked. In Tantric theory, the
universe is a function of Buddha. It begins with 'Om', and ends with 'Hum'.
Chanting the Mantra is not based on reasoning, since rational concepts
and logical thinking deviate from direct perception of the reality. Mantras
provide an experience to listen to and develop inner vision, so the
practitioner can hear the universe itself with direct awareness.
Mantra is a series of mystic
syllables or formulae, which
are said to be the epitome of
the Sutras representing the
'signals' from the designated
Buddha or Bodhisattva. It
plays a dominant role in the
practice of Tantrism, as

reciting and upholding the Mantras is said to be the most direct and
quickest way to attain enlightenment.
In the Buddhist Sutras, Dharani, and Parimitas are usually included in the
texts. The former is short formulae to 'uphold' the Dharma, while the latter
is short chants to protect' it. Both of them are taken as Mantras, which are
believed to be the 'mental instruments' to communicate the respective
Buddhas or Bodhisattvas, as a tradition of Hinduism. Some people believe
that Mantras can get rid of the effect of evil Karma.
Nevertheless, reciting and upholding the Mantras is said to be the most
direct and quickest way to attain enlightenment, as it is an aid of
visualizing the particular Buddha or Bodhisattva in the process. Mantra is
seen as a 'tuning fork', which facilitates the practitioner to tune in his mind
to a being he wishes to visualize. It is just a melody that can naturally tend
to evoke reactions of sadness and happiness in people. Another analogy
to explain the function of a Mantra is the key. It enables the practitioner to
have psychic power to visualize and communicate with a being whose
Mantra it is. Each Buddha or Bodhisattva has his own Mantra that signifies
his essence.
The practitioner are not required to interpret the exact meaning of the
Mantra, but just to recite and uphold it. Actually, some Mantras have no
meaning at all. Most people believe that the accuracy in pronouncing the
Mantra is directly proportional to the effectiveness of its power or response.
However, some people think that sincerity is of utmost importance.
Nevertheless, Mantras are usually properly trained in designated format in
76.5 Mantra : 'Om Mani Padme Hum'
It is the most famous Mantra known as Six Syllables Great Radiant Mantra
[rjG], which translates as " Hail to the Jewel of the Lotus", is
the root Mantra of Avalokitesvara, i.e. Guan Yin Bodhisattva, the patron
Bodhisattva in Tibetan Buddhism. Each syllable has its own meaning, both
literal and symbolic. By chanting this Mantra regularly, one can clear one's
mind and set consciousness on the path of enlightenment. Each of the six
syllables has its own power of salvation. By reciting this Mantra
wholeheartedly and singlemindedly, one can be reborn in Pure Land.
76.6 Mudras
Mudras are symbolic hand gestures, which are closely associated with
Mantras. As Mantras consists of the secrets of sounds, Mudras consists of
the secrets of touch. Each Buddha or Bodhisattva has his own Mudra. The
practitioner is required to make the respective Mudra with his hands and

fingers, so that he can get the 'signals' or 'response' from the

corresponding Buddha or Bodhisattva more easily. There are different
rites accompanied by different Mudras too.
The Mudra on a particular Buddha image signifies his characteristics. For
instance, Aksobhya has the 'earth-witness' gesture, while Amitabha has
his hand down to welcome beings to his Pure Land. Holding a fist
expresses anger, and holding up an open palm expresses the wish to
pacify any dispute. The basic function of a Mudra is to amplify the efficacy
of the Mantras in evolving the psychic forces and higher states of
76.7 Mandala
Literally, Mandala [] means 'circle', both in the sense of a circular
diagram and a surrounding retinue. According to the teaching of Cheng
Yen sect, the true meaning of the esoteric
teachings cannot be transmitted in words, but
only through the diagrammatic Mandala.
There are two meanings of Mandala :
1. The intrinsically existent Mandala, which is
the multi-dimensional array or configuration of
the qualities of enlightenment throughout time
and space, inaccessible by ordinary beings.
2. The simple symbolic Mandala , which may
be visualized, painted or represented with
objects. It serves to demonstrate the structure
and the interaction of the various elements of
enlightenment as embodied in the form of
various Bodhisattvas and Buddhas.
The former represents a sacred realm, often the celestial place of a
Buddha, which contains symbols and images that depict aspects of the
characters and personalities of the Buddha, and indicate Buddhist themes
and concepts. It is also the place where the consecration takes place.
The Dalai Lama explains that the image of the Mandala 'is said to be
extremely profound because meditation on it serves as an antidote,
quickly eradicating the obstructions to liberation and the obstructions to
omniscience as well as their latent predisposition'.
The latter one is a mystic circle, made of a piece of painted cloth or paper,
showing the Buddha or Bodhisattva in their cosmic connection. Its basic

function is to outline the Pure Land of a specific Buddha or Bodhisattva

with the associated sages.
Further information on Mandala will be discussed in the next chapter.

77.1 The Fourfold Mandala

The Fourfold Mandala indicates the efficacious power of the Three
Mysteries. The painted or sculptured figures show the mystery of the body
of the Buddha; the letters show the mystery of the speech of the Buddha;
and the symbol shows the 'original vow' or thought of the Buddha.
1. The Maha-mandala (The Great Circle) [j] -- the Mandala
of the Buddha and his companions represented by pictures or
painted figures, i.e. a plane representation.
2. The Samaya-mandala (The Symbol Circle) [TC] -- the
Mandala of the same assembly represented by symbols or article
possessed by each. Samaya is a Sanskrit word which means ' the
original vow' [@], but here it is represented by an article
borne by each.
3. The Dharma-mandala (The Law Circle) [k] -- the Mandala
of letters (Bija-aksara in Sanskrit) representing all the sagely beings.
4. The Karma-mandala (The Art Craft Circle) [~i] -- the
Mandala of the sculptured figures. Karma is a Sanskrit word, which
is supposed to mean ' work' or 'action', but here means the artistic
work of solid representation.

77.2 The Twofold Realms

There are twofold realms or called 'Dhatu' in Sanskrit in Tantric Buddhism,
namely the Vajradhatu [] and Garbhadhatu [L]. The
former represents the wisdom of Vairocana in its non-destructivity, so it is
called 'Vajra', a Sanskrit word for 'diamond'. The latter represents the
principle or law or reason stored within Vairocana,
so it is called 'Garbha' a Sanskrit word for 'store' or
'womb'. In Tantric Buddhism, they are shown in two
Mandalas, i.e. groups or circles, representing the
ideas arising from the two fundamental concepts in
various portrayals. It is important to note that they
are not two different realms, but in a unity and are
essential one to the other, neither existing apart.
77.2.1 Vajradhatu

Vajradhatu is interpreted as the realm of wisdom, the spiritual world

of complete enlightenment, and the Dharmakaya (i.e. the Dharma
Body) of the Buddha (Vairocana in Tantric Buddhism). It is also
related to the sixth consciousness, and symbolized by a triangle
with the point downwards and by full moon, which means wisdom
and enlightenment.
While Garbhadhatu is the cause, Vajradhatu is the effect or fruit.
Amongst the Six Great Elements, Vajradhatu belongs to the sixth
one, i.e. Element of Consciousness.
There are five divisions of Vajradhatu represented by the Five
Dhyani-Buddhas, Aksobhya [] in the east,
Ratnasambhava [_] in the south, Amitabha []
in the west, Amoghasiddi [] in the north, and Vairocana
[jp] in the center sitting on an elephant, a horse, a
peacock, a Garuda and a lion respectively.
77.2.2 Garbhadhatu
Garbhadhatu is interpreted as the matrix or substance underlying
Vajradhatu, as described above. It is the womb or the universal
source from which all things are produced. It represents the original
intellect [], in contrast with the initial intellect [l]
represented by Vajradhatu. Hence, Garbhadhatu is the cause,
while Vajradhatu is the effect. The former is considered as static,
while the latter is dynamic.
Amongst the Six Great Elements, Garbhadhatu belongs to the first
five Great Elements, namely Earth, Water, Fire, Wind, Space.
Garbhadhatu is symbolized by a triangle on its base, and an open
lotus as representing the sun and Vairocana.
Garbhadhatu is divided into three sections, namely the Buddha, the
Vajra and the Lotus, which represents Samadhi, wisdom and
compassion respectively. The respective heads of these sections
are Vairocana, Vajrapani and Avalokitesvara.

77.3 Six Great Elements

The entire universe and all living beings are made of six elements, namely,
Earth, Water, Fire, Air, Space and Consciousness. All solid matters are
belonged to Earth; all liquid and wet matters are belonged to Water; all
matters related to light and heat energy are belonged to Fire; all gaseous
matters are belonged to Air; all distance or interval amongst matters are

belonged to Space; all senses and spiritual activities are belonged to

Consciousness. The first five elements are classified as Form Dharma,
while the sixth one is the Mind Dharma.
The Six Great Elements is the substance of all Dharmas, which can
produce all Buddhas, all living beings and the material world. Thus, a
doctrine of Conditional Arising of Six Great Elements is expounded in
Chen Yen sect. It should be noted that the Six Great Elements are
inherent within the ordinary nature of all sentient being. When they are in a
static state, it is the substance of true reality; when they are in dynamic
state, they are revealed as the 'source' of all forms and phenomena.

78.1 Three Kinds of Attainment of Buddhahood

Cheng Yen sect advocates the direct attainment of Buddhahood with the present
1. Attainment of Buddhahood by the wholly noumenal and intrinsic nature
[z] -- For all living beings, the body in motion is classified as
the first five elements, and belongs to the 'law' of the Garbhadhatu, while
the mind in thinking is belonged to the wisdom and virtues of Vajradhatu.
Apart from the body and mind, there is no other substance with
fundamental enlightenment. Therefore, the law and wisdom of the Buddha
are also intrinsically possessed, in perfection and completeness, within
individual sentient being.
2. Attainment of Buddhahood by conferment and upholding [[] -As all sentient beings possess the intrinsic nature of enlightenment in
Buddhahood, they can further confer and uphold the Three Mysteries, so
that they can turn their ordinary body to be the same as the appearance of
the Buddha.
3. Attainment of Buddhahood by revelation [o] -- Through the
practice of conferring and upholding, the practitioner can ultimately reach
the state of Buddhahood, so that all merits and virtues of Dharma nature
can be manifested and revealed.

78.2 Ten Abodes of Mind

The Ten Abodes of Mind [Q] can be also regarded as the classification
of teaching in Cheng Yen sect, according to
the chapter on 'The Ten Minds' in the
Vairocana Sutra.
1. Mind as an animal like ram
[] -- Ram is inferior
by nature, and is interested in nothing

except the desire of eating and sex. It is an analogy to those who are
ignorant and always commit to evil deeds and in physical and mental
2. Mind as a naive baby [MN] -- who upholds rules in
morality - It refers to those kind people who cultivate the worldly virtues
and merits, and thus enjoy the respective worldly blessing.
3. Fearless mind as a baby [L] -- A baby is well cared and
protected by his mother, so he is at ease and fearless. It refers to those
who seek the rebirth in heaven without bothering the heavenly joy is
temporary or not.
4. Mind of mere Skandhas and no-self [L ]-- It refers to the
Sound Hearers in Hinayana, which believes in the emptiness of self (i.e.
no-self), but accepts the Law of Five Skandhas as the permanent
5. Mind in ridding Karma, Cause and Seed [
~] ]-- It refers to
Those Enlightened by Conditions or Enlightened Ones in Solitude. They
can get rid of the Karmic activities (Karma), the Twelve Links of
Dependent Origination (Cause) and the Fundamental Ignorance (Seed),
and dwell in Nirvana.
6. Mahayana Mind independent of conditions [Ltj] -Mahayana Bodhisattva understands there is no Dharma beyond the Mind,
and the Three Realms is just merely created by the conscious mind, thus
they do not attach any phenomenal conditions when they save the
sentient beings. It is equivalent to the teaching of Fa Hsiang Sect.
7. Mind without production of enlightened mind [ ] -- Mahayana
Bodhisattva understands that the nature of the enlightened mind is neither
produced nor extinguished. As it is ordinarily empty and still, there has no
ignorance and enlightenment. The mind should respond to the true reality
of all Dharmas. It is equivalent to the teaching of San Lun Sect.
8. Unconditioned Mind of One Way [@DL] -- The Law is
ordinarily pure and undifferentiated. It is not dual nor multiple, so it is
called One Way. Mahayana Bodhisattva realizes that the One Way is
unconditioned and pure matching the reality of True Suchness. They also
understand the harmony and perfection of the Triple Truths which
converge to One Way. It is equivalent to the teaching of Tien Tai Sect.
9. Self-nature Mind with no Eternity [L] -- The Law is the
ultimate, so it is called eternity. Mahayana Bodhisattva realizes that all
Dharmas are originated from True Suchness, and they are the
manifestations of True Suchness, so they have no self-nature, but
mutually inter-penetrating without obstruction to each other. It is equivalent
to the teaching of Hua Yen Sect.
10. Adorned Mind in Secret [KY] -- the status of the Buddha
is esoteric and adorned, which can be recognized and visualized by all
other beings. The dwelling mind of the Buddha can only be ultimately
known by the Buddhas themselves.

78.3 Six Kinds of Fearlessness


Fearlessness to be kind [L]

Fearlessness with respect to physical body [L]
Fearlessness to no-self [LL]
Fearless to no-Dharma [kL]
Fearlessness to no-self of Dharma [kLL]
Fearlessness to absolute equality [L]

There are six kinds of practice in Cheng Yen sect, so that

all the beings are free from afflictions without any fear.
1. Kindness -- In Buddhism, good people who uphold
the Five Precepts and Ten Wholesome Deeds
must be relaxed in mind, and far from evil and fear.
It is equivalent in Cheng Yen sect for those people
who practice the Three Mysteries and make
offerings to Satyadevata [L]. They are said
to be fearless in case of danger and trouble.
2. Body -- In Buddhism, the practitioners of Two
Vehicles (Sound Hearer and Solitary Enlightened
Ones) who practice the contemplations of
impurities can be free from any tie with respect to their bodies. It is
equivalent in Cheng Yen sect, for those who contemplate the Satyadevata
in Mandala, and see the radiant light, which can strengthen the fearless
spirit and vanish all kinds of suffering.
3. No-self -- In Buddhism, the practitioners of Two Vehicles realize that all
Dharmas have no self, thus they have no attachment to self, and they are
fearless. In Cheng Yen sect, the practitioners understand that all forms of
deities are of dependent origination, and do not give rise to any
attachment, including the body.
4. Dharma -- In Buddhism, the practitioners of Two Vehicles enter the stage
of no-further learning and certify the truth of emptiness. They understand
that the Five Skandhas are also of dependent origination, and are empty
in nature, so they are fearless. In Cheng Yen sect, they visualize the
various forms of Stayadevata in Samadhi, and understand that they are
just like the moon in water, the image in mirror, and unreal though
adorned in appearance.
5. No-self Dharma -- In Buddhism, Mahayana Bodhisattvas certify the True
Suchness and the emptiness of Dharmas, and realize all Dharmas are
mere consciousness. As they see that there is no self in all Dharmas, they
are free and relaxed in their mind. It means the fearlessness of no-self
Dharma. In Cheng Yen sect, the practitioners also know that all
phenomena are the manifestations of the virtues and merits of their own


mind/consciousness, so they can freely 'enjoy' all Dharmas for their own
6. Equality -- Equality means the self-nature of all Dharmas are equal. The
Buddha knows all Dharmas are equal, certifies the nature of Dharma, and
realizes that there is no differentiation between the beginning and the end,
the subjective/active and the objective/passive. It is known as the
fearlessness of equality. In Cheng Yen sect, when the practitioners reach
the supreme state, they have the formless body of wisdom and the form
body of blessing and virtues, so they can also freely 'enjoy' all Dharmas
for their own use. It is a state of Buddhahood.

79.1 Five Kinds of Dharma Body

In Cheng Yen sect, all teachings are established on the ground of Buddhas, i.e.
the manifestations of the Dharma Body of Buddhas as the results of the
cultivation of Buddhahood. There are five kinds of Dharma Body, which are all
incorporated in the Dharma Body of Vairocana Buddha, covering all Buddha and
Bodhisattva in ten directions and in three periods, deities and dragons, gods and
ghosts, sentient and non-sentient beings and all others. They are:
1. Dharma Body of Self-nature [k] -- the real body of all Buddhas,
which is the nature of Dharmas and the ration of all. It is naturally perfect
and complete, permanent in all times. It is the source where the Dharma
of Three Mysteries comes out.
2. Dharma Body of Self-enjoyment [k] -- There are two kinds, one
is self-use and the other is use for others. The former is his own body,
which corresponds to the ration/law. The latter is the appearance of the
body for the sake of teaching the Bodhisattvas in ten stages, which
corresponds to the wisdom.
3. Dharma Body for Transformation [k] -- For the sake of
probationary Bodhisattvas and those in Two Vehicles, the Buddhas
appear their magnificent bodies in order to explain the Dharmas certified
with personal experience.
4. Dharma Body for Equal Spreading [yk] -- This body is
delivered equally for the beings in the other nine realms. The body is
appeared in the same form of the beings, which will be taught of the
Dharmas in accordance with their interests and understanding.
5. Dharma Body of Dharma Realm [k] -- The Dharma Body of The
Buddha consists of Six Essential Elements, pervading the entire Dharma
realm in all directions.

79.2 Ordinary Non-production of the word 'A' [r]


According the theory of Cheng Yen sect, the

fundamental origin of all things must be the Dharma
of non-birth. Thus, whatever is the cause of any
Dharma is not the fundamental origin.
'A' [] is translated as 'none', or true emptiness.
It is the mother of all vowels and consonants, the
seed of all words. It represents the substance of
Real Mark Prajna, which is non-production and non-extinction.
Different from the teachings of other sects, the teachings of Chen Yen sect is so
profound and sophisticated that ordinary people are difficult to understand. It
belongs to the realm internally experienced by the Buddhas. That is why it is
called esoteric teachings. It cannot be generally explained by other Buddhist

79.3 Vairocana Buddha

Vairocana Buddha plays an important role in esoteric Buddhism. According to
Cheng Yen sect, the profound teaching that is taken to be the absolute truth, is
expounded by Vairocana Buddha. He is the cosmic Buddha, the central Buddha
and it's the universe itself, without beginning or end. He manifests himself
through perfect harmony of the Six Great Elements, i.e. Earth, Water, Fire, Air,
Space and Consciousness. He represents the Dharmakaya, which is common to
all Buddhas.

79.4 Abhisheka
Abhisheka, also known as Murddhadja [] is a very important rite in Tantrism,
as it is regarded as the starting point in the path of Buddhahood. Just like
baptism, it is a consecration ceremony administered by sprinkling or pouring
water on the head. Abhisheka is necessary and essential for the
practitioner as an initial step to enter the Mandala and 'explore' the secrets of the
Tantric Buddhism.
Abhisheka, sometimes written as Abhishekair, is an exclamation addressed in
the prayers to Tathagatas in the ceremony, saying 'consecrate me by sprinkling'.

79.5 Satyadevata / Sadhanas

In Tantric practice, the practitioner is usually
required to set a particular aspect of enlightenment
to work with. Accordingly, the respective Buddha or
Bodhisattva will be recommended to the practitioner
by the Guru, that is appropriate to the personality
and the needs of the practitioner. For instance, if

the practitioner wishes to tune into and develop compassion, the Tara
manifestation will be cultivated as a kind of role model. Then, the practitioner will
contemplate the chosen deity through the special meditation session, known as
Satyadevata / Sadhana.
Though Sadhana varies considerably in its complexity and duration, the
practitioners are generally required to cultivate Sadhana regularly on a daily
basis and to achieve the state of calmness in meditation. The use of the Mantra
with respect to the chosen deity is essential for entering the state of emptiness,
and then generating the specific image of the chosen deity within the
practitioner's mind and seeing himself as that deity.
The body form of the deity during initial phase of transformation is known as
'Samaya-sattva', i.e. 'commitment being'. The Samaya-sattva is not the deity
itself, but a symbolic form used in the process of self-realization.
A particular letter or syllable, color or sound is then generated from the body form.
Later, rays of energy will radiate out from the syllable and fill the entire universe.
Then, the practitioner invokes and invites the deity to come to them externally,
though it is understood that the deity is an inherent aspect of an individual's own
enlightened mind in reality. The actual form of the deity is called Jnana-sattva,
or 'awareness being'. Accompanied with a set of four Mudras, the practitioner
draws down the actual deity with a designated Mantra.
After engaging the Mantra recitation silently for some time, the practitioner may
become tired. It is recommended to draw the radiating light energy back to the
heart and rest. The mental recitation and accompanying visualization can be
resumed if desired, or else the session can be brought to the end. To conclude
the Sadhana, the practitioner should reverse the process of generation, i.e. to
release the 'awareness being', then 'commitment being' then to contract the
light energy and disappear back into the state of emptiness from which it arose.
The practitioner should rest peacefully for as long as possible in this state.
Various accomplishments, known as 'Siddhi' may be acquired through these
Some are mundane while the others are supramundane.