Let me first discuss a little bit of what the Tibet school (Tibetan Buddhism) says in regards to opening up the sushumna central channel. They say that when you do so there will be various signs you see, such as a vision of whiteness, a vision of smoke, ball of fireflies, etc. What actually happens is that for a split second you see a circle in front of various chakra locations that have the colors and appearances specifically mentioned. I also sent you to Tsong Khapa’s descriptions of this previously in my articles and books. The appearance of this disc, which is just about two to three inches in diameter (I forget how big exactly), lasts for less than a second (just a fraction), and seems to appear in front of the body where a different chakra is located each time. The most difficult phase to get is actually opening up the heart chakra location itself rather than seeing these preliminary signs corresponding to chi passing through the channel near other chakras located along the central channel.
Also, what Tibetan Buddhism and other schools usually fail to mention is that when you first begin to cultivate the central channel’s heart chakra, a big bubble of chi, shaped like an egg, begins to form out of this location and expands, expands, expands until it becomes so big and thin it’s invisible. I don’t know how big it becomes — maybe as large as the universe. That’s the actual first stage of the process, but you won’t find it mentioned in any cultivation texts. You usually need to have been cultivating your third eye for some time to see this when it happens. If you start and stop cultivation and lose your previous stage of progress, this bubble will form again until you can really get the process going. Don’t lose your progress through sexual dissipation, or lose your stage because you lack disciplined effort when this appears. When this appears the whole process is close to attainment.
Opening the heart chakra can actually be done with prolonged meditation effort after you’ve established a practice foundation of gradual cultivation for some time. You reach a stage where you are meditating many hours a day, and you have been doing this for several days in a row after a good foundation of practice of many months or years (from mantra, skeleton method, breathing practices, etc. as discussed in the Generation Stage explanations of Esoteric Buddhism). Don’t think you can open the central channel in a day or week without lots of preliminary cleaning of your chi channels from prior meditation efforts, though of course the younger you start the easier it is. But if you do the preliminary meditation and cultivation effort, and then throw yourself into deep practice, then the central channel can start opening. It requires learning to let go and filling up with chi naturally. So don’t go writing me with questions after one month of cultivation work asking what to do and why it hasn’t happened. "Ridiculous" is the only word I can use for the crazy expectations people have of spiritual cultivation. They all think they are dharma victors after a few weeks of meditation, or even a few minutes. In Tibet you have to wait 20 years for real tantra practice instructions and silly people want it all in one day, not even understanding what a chi channel or the five elements are. It makes me laugh.
Yes, you’ll see all the stages Tsong Khapa mentioned when you begin to open the sushumna channel. He described the process, and I’ll describe it further past that initial stage because people need to know how to proceed today using a description fit for today’s world. Proceeding to the real stage of initial opening, you’ll eventually reach the key phase of actually opening up the heart chakra — you’ll see a hazy black smog slowly envelop your inner vision from both sides, and it will usually have a tinge of red or reddish brown to denote the fire element is active. Then that darkish smog will suddenly clear. Then after a short while, the vertical tube of the central channel itself will seem as if it is being totally inundated with the darkest black black chi (like coal dust) dumped down within it you can possibly imagine. It’s so black it’s blacker than black. You’ll see it falling down inside the channel on the bright point you are concentrating on in the channel’s center. If you keep concentrating on that bright point and don’t let go of your concentrated focus, no matter what — and if you can hold on your concentration then eventually the blackness will lift within less than a minute and the vision will become clear, like when you were a kid. Then the channel will open. It’s that simple, it’s that difficult. It’s so difficult to maintain your concentration when this happens, but you have to vow to be a diamond victor and just do it.
To hold your concentration when the blackness descends requires so much concentration that you may even sweat, but don’t give up — it only requires less than a minute of valiant effort. If you’ve been cultivating Vairocana’s mantra he will help guide you through the process or Zhunti Buddha will, or even Manjushri or another Buddha or master — it depends on your efforts and merits and your karmic connections with other enlightened teachers who previously succeeded. That’s why you need to cultivate mantra recitation of the appropriate Buddhas, which means enlightened beings that succeeded before you and stay with us to help us achieve the same thing (because that’s what the universe is all about). With your thought-born body you will be able to receive wordless teachings from the Buddhas as to what you must do (though it’s hard to see their faces at this stage because you need more merit, and you’ll even find Shakyamuni mentioning this in the sutras as well), and that’s why you use to guide yourself through the process. Previous to this, you must cultivate the chi channels somewhat because you can’t get to this stage without some chi channel transformations. Manjushri likes to help at this stage and appear as an ugly or funny looking old man with bumps on his head, or an old man with a young boy/girl student/assistant, to help you in opening up the heart chakra. He’ll even hit the base of the heart chakra channel with a stick to help free up the chi when you’re getting started. It all depends on whether you cultivated his mantra or not and established a connection with this great teacher of most of the Buddhas.
After the coal blackness clears, because you kept concentrating on a bright point at the center of the heart chakra channel without losing focus, your mind will become empty and perception will seem to have a sheen or brightness to it like when you were a child and perception was so clear, but it might seem as if it’s a bit humid, so to speak, because there’s some lingering water element that’s still around. This is the clear light realization described by Tibetan Buddhism, but if you have not been cultivating samadhi prior to this like Shakyamuni did, you can lose this clarity presence within minutes or hours and it also won’t be as perfect as the textbook descriptions of Esoteric Buddhism. Those perfect descriptions pertain to samadhi masters who’ve been cultivating for some while. Don’t think your cognizance of recognizing this stage of clear light is permanent, especially if you’ve been through tantra quickly. You’re just cultivating a basis or foundation for real enlightenment practice and the chi channels are changing so quickly that your gongfu is unstable. If you haven’t cultivated samadhi prior to this, then because of the unstable gong-fu and chi channel changes you will tend to lose this sheen or stage of wisdom perception quickly. Of course if you keep cultivating emptiness and non-clinging, rather than forceful clinging tantra that involves chi channel transformations, you’ll pick it up again rather quickly.
Without going into the particulars, that’s some of the process of the first stage of opening the central channel after which all sorts of dirty chi will start to be pumped out and extruded from this chakra location. The pumping or exusions or extrusions process will take days in total to complete. DAYS! Days of impure, dirty chi being pumped out of the channels in the shape of long or short tubes. All sorts of types of plasticine, glasslike, pastelike, whitish, clear, colored, etc. chi will be pushed out the chi channels, especially from the heart chakra and forehead brow chakra third eye location … and other locations as well. You’ll can help push it out all sorts of orifices. All sorts of transformations will start occurring, and there are multiple times you transform the entire chi channel network this way.
Why? Because the chi channels are filled with layers of chi, and you have to progressively strip out one entire layer, then another, then another and so on. This takes days and is the reason the Tao school speaks of revolutions or multiple refinings - they are actually talking about a stripping of the chi layers rather than a revolving of the chi. Today the Taoists think you spin your chi around the macro and microcosmic circulations a certain number of times to do this, and they haven’t a clue as to the real meaning of this practice or the actual stage it represents. They’re following the instructions of low stage qi-gong type masters rather than high stage Taoists or true samadhi masters. In Lao Tzu’s and Chuang Tzu’s day they described the attainment of the Tao as such a simple process without any of this spinning (which should tell you what to think), and the same goes for Taoist Ancestor Lu. Later Taoism degraded - Taoists said they cultivated shen (spirit, illumination) directly, then jing-chi-shen, and now chakras and chi channels and stuff like that. So you can see how much everything has degraded just from this short synopsis sentence. Esoteric Buddhism is the same, as is the case for most all the cultivation schools including Zen. The folks today are all lost in thinking there is something forceful you have to do, or some secret method you have to learn. Ridiculous.
That’s why I first introduced you to the Anapanasati Sutra so you can see how easy and natural cultivation is. It’s non-artificial. That’s the method I like, and the method that produces great culture bearers and uplifters like Confucius, Buddha, Socrates, and so forth. I’ll explain the high Zen way in the next blog post. In this post I’m introducing a clean forceful tantric way for those folks who need to think they must do something. People with complicated minds all tend to like the tantric cultivation of the Esoteric School, which is like a sausage stuffed full of all sorts of dirty things, and so Nagarjuna broke open the mantra-sealed stupa in India to reveal the tantric method for those people who need to keep themselves busy with tasks like this. Buddha didn’t talk about it because it actually represents a degradation and you-don’t-have-to-do-this-gosh-the-dharma-has-degraded. However, what Nagarjuna taught is very different than the tantric path expounded today in Tibetan Buddhism (see The Insider’s Guide to the Best and Worst Spiritual Paths and Practices on the website). His method was pure and clean like simplified Shingon. So what I’m introducing today falls into this lower class category of coarse cultivation methods, too, but it’s a hundred thousand million billion times simpler and cleaner than the mess today seen in Taoism, Tibetan Buddhism, yoga and most of the form schools. There are no definitions to learn, nothing major to study, and it’s very simple and clean like Nagarjuna’s original true Esoteric Buddhism before it deteriorated.
So I was talking about opening the central channel region of the heart chakra, and really succeeding at it. In opening the chi channels and observing the poisons or dirty chi that come out at this stage of the process, sometimes the chi will have a jagged triangular like piece (that seems hard like glass) stuck at the channel tip opening, and I can describe all sorts of other obstructions, but you have to get to this stage to understand it. Usually you have to wiggle that tip free with a little bit of effort as it’s often lodged at the opening of channels since it solidified or dried long ago. Some chi that is extruded out of the body is hard, some soft, some looks as ancient and old as the ages, some relatively new, sometimes it’s shaped like a religious figure you might have concentrated on at that location as a support for visualization or concentration practice – there’s all sorts of things I could mention but since it refers to the garbage being excreted from the body, why bother?
When the root chakra plug opens it’s actually gigantic in width but the channels will expand in diameter so that nothing is stuck within them and everything gets exuded including this plug. It’s like a woman’s vagina that can always stretch or expand to fit a man’s penis, despite what seems like a unfittable size. At that time the heavenly beings watching will all gasp in amazement at the sight because it’s really something to see such a large plug come out. This is just the first stage of cleaning because this has to happen over and over and over again at higher and higher levels for your entire system of chi channels. Nevertheless, after this you can really start cleaning all the chi channels at the real level far beyond what modern Taoists or yogis think is the cleaning of the channels or the attainment of samadhi, and when you do so, each time you clean them you let go of the chi body that you’ve cleansed, it’s ejected out of the top of the body, and a new chi body forms of higher class chi than the level just cleaned. Many times this happens over and over again. The old body drops away like an empty sack or suit of rubber skin or empty cloth, and a new body eventually forms as you wait in patient forbearance. It’s like birth and death over and over again. Over and over again you experience birth and death of a new chi body this way — all sorts of chi bodies are generated through the process that I won’t even get into.
This entire process of purification of the channels takes days, and should be done in retreat. The multiple refinings at key points correspond to breaking through the conception, volition and consciousness skandhas if you’re smart enough to know how to let go of the process by offering, but I will not reveal at what stage you break through these skandhas and the relevant Mind Grounds. There’s a connection, but you shouldn’t supply deceivers with too much information so they can cheat others. When you break through the skandhas, the root chakra will finally be unplugged and you’ll have such chi energy pumping in slow rhythm that you get "Zen sickness" from the chi pumping up from this chakra (which makes the natural sound of "Ohm" if you listen carefully into the channel), and will talk or write in verse (rhyme) for days. It will be hard to sleep when this happens. If someone asks you about any topic, at this stage whatever you write or speak will come out in verse according to the rhythm of the chi pumping. If other people then recite those words or writing, a big secret is that rhythm can help them, too, open up their own chakras and chi channels. That’s one reason why Milarepa and other masters would speak in verse. What comes out is truly amazing — all sorts of cultivation knowledge and wisdom teachings you didn’t even know you knew - they naturally come out because you’re breaking open the alaya consciousness and the seeds of your wisdom comes pouring out. It’s not your coarse, rough discriminative thinking that functions during this time but a different type of refined (light) discriminative thinking.
The cleansing of the chi channels in this long purification process (which Buddha called the "purification of the five elements" to prevent clinging) is described as the untying of a knot in yoga, but it’s more like an unraveling of an entire chi body/fabric that is woven through all the chakra locations. In other words, you free up all the chi at a certain chakra location, and then push/pull all that now freed chi (like the rest of a sweater) through another chakra location, invert it and then pull all that free chi through yet another chakra location, and keep unraveling, unwinding it and twisting it this way and that as you go through the chakras. In olden times they could only call this "untying" but it’s more like unraveling or unbinding an inner chi body that represents just one stage of cultivation. When done you proceed to a higher level of chi and the cultivation at that level. It’s all done in 3D so it’s like unwinding a torus. That’s the best way I can explain it. I actually call it "unbinding" because you are bound by thought, and by using the word "unbinding" you’re reminding yourself that the chi is bound and thought is bound, like being bound to a stake. See the story of the Boat Monk to understand why I chose those words — the donkey being "bound" by a rope to a stake meaning.
I don’t remember how many times you do this – nine times is the number normally used in cultivation texts because nine is usually used just to symbolize a large number. I cannot remember the exact number of times because it’s so tiring and you do it over and over again for the entire body and chakra system. You lose count because your body is aching during this time but you have to keep doing it if you are using forceful tantra versus a "no effort" anapana or other process. I can only say that topologists would have a field day trying to describe this process of unwinding because the inversions or untyings or unbindings or unwindings take a different form for each chakra location, each time pulling the whole unwound mess of all the other chi you already freed from the previous unwindings through that location until you have this entire empty body or chi sack which you invert and push through the root chakra or some other upper chakra location. It’s like unwinding a torus, the process is so complicated. When you’re done, you push it all through a chakra opening and POP! — you’re out at yet a higher level of chi existence in a different realm, so-to-speak.
But that’s only a way of talking - don’t take it literally. And don’t try to figure out how to do it from my explanation. When you get to that stage you’ll know, and THAT knowledge and process is tantra. It’s a forceful technique, but not very high class. However, it’s quick and effective, but only for those with high wisdom. Most people who practice tantra drop into clinging to form, or never get to the higher levels, so tantra is not really fit for the unintelligent and those without prajna wisdom. Don’t teach it to those types of people or you’ll be making a big error that entails accumulating lots of bad karma for yourself. Don’t teach high cultivation to those who laugh at or ridicule the dharma. Most people, frankly, are not qualified for tantra and waste their lives thinking they can force a high cultivation result even though they lack a pure mind and lots of merit.
At a certain time after multiple times doing this and cleansing the body with each full revolution, you feel like you should push the entire mass through the head chakra but the best way, the wisdom way, Shakyamuni’s way is to push the whole mess through the chakra location at the back of the top of the head at the critical moment when the right number of cleansings has been done. My Master would tell me this indirectly for years but until I reached this stage I didn’t know what he was talking about — he always said that "the Bodhisattvas leave through the back of the head, not the top of the head (crown chakra)" and it was referring to this stage of cleansing but I had no clue what he was talking about (I thought it meant something like an astral body or something else). You do so many revolutions of cleansing but a key juncture arrives, and you know it from the reaction of the Buddhas watching, wherein you can start the unraveling/unwinding process again at the next higher level or trust the Buddhas and push the whole mess out the back of the top of the head chakra. This is a big CRITICAL point — you need a LOT OF MERIT just to receive this teaching let alone use it. Everything I tell you is so direct and clear that you really must have some special merit for me to be able to do so, because you won’t find this information elsewhere. Now you have it.
At that time you reach this point, after so many refinings where you DON’T use this location as an exit for pushing out the unwound chi from the body, you cannot believe this is the right thing to be done because you’ve done so many previous unwindings another way, and still see your chi body is unclean and there’s more revolutions to do and you have to go up another level again. The problem is you see the body is still unclean/impure, so you KNOW there is more work to be done, so why stop now and follow the Buddha’s way? You perfectly know this. Nevertheless, only if you do this with a leap of faith in your Master’s instructions can you reach a higher stage of cultivation than the Arhats, who never really get the Tao because they choose the crown chakra way.
Go read the Lotus Sutra and you’ll see that hundreds of Arhats left Shakyamuni Buddha’s lesson because he said he had an enlightenment teaching much higher than the emptiness they had reached from what he previously taught them how to attain, but since they didn’t believe him / trust him they got up and left his lecture. "We don’t want to hear about a stage of emptiness higher than what we reached," they thought, "that’s impossible." After they left, then Buddha said that the Assembly in front of him was now "pure" because it contained just those qualified for the higher Bodhisattva path. So you can see that reaching this critical juncture point involves faith in Shakyamuni’s enlightenment teachings. The sutras aren’t fiction and aren’t religion, but a historical record of cultivation instructions. After you proceed to the Mind Ground, you even go through many of the same events that the other Buddhas went through that are recorded in the sutras, though in a different form, but before then you can’t believe it either. Buddha’s students simply helped record it all in the sutras in a way for it to last , and people have turned it into religion rather than as spiritual cultivation instructions. But at least we still have it. You only have to decode it.
All the Buddhas will be watching when you reach this point to see if you decide to trust them and if you do, they have a great celebration because you chose the Diamond Victor’s way. It’s almost impossible to believe that the back of the top of the head chakra is the right one after so many previous unbindings prior to this, but it really is the correct way. How Vairocana, Shakyamuni, and the other Buddhas discovered this wisdom way I’ll never know. All I can tell you is that within a day of doing it this way, you discover for yourself that the Arhat’s way will NEVER really clean the chi body because there is always another chi level to clean (it’s endless that route, which is why they go into retreat and leave the world to do it), but this wisdom way will let you let go of the body entirely and cultivate real emptiness, real bodylessness and reach the REAL wisdom of the whole Triple Realm. It’s impossible to believe it initially, but they discovered it and they are right! But during the process, it’s almost impossible to believe that this is the right way to do it. You really need a big leap of faith in Shakyamuni Buddha’s way to follow the high road I just gave you, which really is a great dharma gong-fu cultivation secret. Use it! Don’t lose it. Spread this information. That’s your job, not mine.
The process of unbinding (unwinding), if done through tantra, is extremely tiring and you really need great merit and wisdom to be able to do it. Sometimes the energy required means you need to eat a lot of clean food such as lobster or steak or chicken, and you need to follow a schedule of meditating and sleeping on a 24 hour round the clock basis (sleep and eat whenever necessary, meditate the rest of the time) to get through the process. No matter how tired you are, you can’t stop the process and must be willing to die rather than leave it unfinished. Even the Buddhas don’t tell you how to unravel the chi knots if you choose to follow a tantric cultivation sadhana, so you have to have wisdom to figure it out yourself, and only merit can supply you with that wisdom. That’s why I always tell you to mantra and study the wisdom sutras, because studying Tibetan yogic texts will get you nowhere with any of this, and you don’t need empowerments or anything like that to do this. You need merit and the vow to become a fully enlightened Buddha and help other sentient beings. I can only describe the process roughly for you and when you do it you have to depend on your own wisdom to succeed. Maybe I’ll publish something later if people can accept it but for now this is enough.
In a moment I’ll tell you how to cultivate the opening of the heart chakra and channel openings using a Tantra that anyone can use without any special empowerment or permission, and which accomplishes the purpose of the Esoteric School to help you transform your body quickly so you can gain enlightenment quickly by cultivating the prajna wisdom way with less obstructions. I’m sick of all the craziness of Esoteric school practitioners, and all the people flocking to Esoteric Buddhism who don’t know what they are doing, and the arrogance of the monks of the school who themselves are lost but think they have some supreme secret no one else has, and that people can only succeed only through their empowerments or some secret unrevealed technique. Nothing could be further from the Buddha’s intention, or the intention of any of the Buddhas.
The Japanese Shingon master Kukai wanted to introduce this idea of pure clean chi mai cultivation to Japan but unfortunately the Japanese Shingon school has lost a real understanding of tantric cultivation as well, though the school has remained relatively clean and unblemished compared to Tibetan Buddhism. It just needs a new impetus through new explanations and revelations to open it up again and make things more obvious, that’s all. Tibetan Buddhism is in worse shape, however, because the whole school has mixed itself up with too much Indian yoga, money flows, arrogance, and sexual license.
Taoists, Tibetans and some Indian inner yoga sects always believe in their minds that the highest cultivation methods are privy to themselves whereas as you can see, if you just cultivate and have the merit you can discover everything yourself. Tantra is not even the highest cultivation way, but actually is rather crude. So in my opinion, Esoteric Buddhism has actually lost the pure Buddha way and even the pure aspiration of Shakyamuni’s wishes for all beings. The Tibetans don’t even want to teach the most helpful Guhuyasamaja Tantra to foreigners, thinking it’s secret or people are not prepared for it, or the leaders use all sorts of other excuses not to teach those qualified, so this type of arrogance really pisses me off since this is misunderstanding the dharma that’s for everyone or misunderstanding the level of beings or the necessity of what to teach. So they’re lost in my opinion. Hence I’m opening up the Great Vairocana-Zhunti Tantra for everyone to use because the Buddhas want everyone to have easy practice methods to succeed. As Nagarjuna felt, if people don’t have faith and believe in the easy cultivation methods you give them, give them complicated methods to tie up their minds so they can succeed that way. It’s a longer route, but what are you going to do? That’s why Shakyamuni, a great yoga master, didn’t teach tantras but a high wisdom way that was able to uplift countless cultures.
This Tantra is not Shakyamuni’s method, but is a Tantric chi channel cultivation method for quick success jointly involving the cooperation of Vairocana Tathagata (The "Father of the Buddhas," or first enlightened Buddha, the Great Sun Tathagata) and Zhunti Tathagata (The "Mother of the Buddhas," since millions of Buddhas achieved enlightenment though his method, though Zhunti is a handsome male). So it involves the two highest male and female energies if you want to consider it that way, or highest, most effective male energies if you want to consider it that way. It is a Tantra, so remember that. Manjushri Tathagata also knows this Tantra and sometimes teaches it, and sometimes not because he has many other methods, too. Shakyamuni knows this Tantra too though he does not teach it, but it can be taught openly so you can make progress.
This Tantra is easy to practice, simple and has no secrets. No empowerment or initiation is necessary and both men and women can practice it, but if you don’t have merit you cannot succeed at this method. That’s the case with any cultivation technique. If you think you can succeed in any sort of high spiritual cultivation without a clean mind, doing lots of good deeds and letting go of attachments, then you don’t understand spiritual cultivation at all. Even in Taoism you’re told that you need great merits to succeed, but people normally think they can just sit there, meditate, go about their regular lives and they are good enough as is to achieve the Tao. They forget the fact that all cultivation schools clearly state the first stage of practice is one of wisdom (study) and merit making wherein you renounce your karmic bad faults, make amends, do good deeds, and change your behavior to cut off old evil ways and bad habits of behavior, exchanging them for new virtuous ways and selfish efforts to compassionately help others. You have to practice merit making and charity, active giving and generosity for other beings. Without this, as Buddha clearly stated in the Diamond Sutra, you cannot succeed at spiritual cultivation. It’s true.
It’s simply impossible to succeed without merit and I never see cultivators practicing merit today — they’re typically selfish and don’t even want to spend $20 on a book let alone give $20 to charity or some cause that needs it. Buddhists are particularly guilty of this; as a whole they tend to be very selfish and just want to go meditate and take care of themselves whereas Christians tend to be the most generous and giving, but the most lacking in prajna wisdom. So forget greedy and selfish people — they might as well go on watching TV and dreaming about immortals flying in space and disappearing at will and all sorts of things like that, because without merit it’s impossible to succeed at any high stage cultivation, and merit means charitable giving and working for others unselfishly. That’s why 20 and 30 year olds with great vital energy who practice hard get nowhere typically in their cultivation practice. Why? No merit, just selfishness. They are lost in science fiction because they don’t want the responsibility required by real merit making necessary for dharma success.
Now how do you practice the Vairocana-Zhunti Tantra? You can read about the Shingon master Kukai and look at regal Japanese pictures of Vairocana Tathagata and the heart chakra, with it’s eight petals, which is symbolized/represented in the two mandalas he brought back to Japan from China. Because you realize there are eight petals to the heart chakra, and one center, when visualizing a silver flame at the heart chakra location, you must visualize the central flame and flames on all eight petals that surround it like a circle. You’ll often recite the mantras along these chakra petal points in a circle to help send the chi there and open them. That’s one key point of the practice.
Another key point is to learn the Zhunti mantra, and how to recite it at chakra points.
You can recite in going clockwise around a chakra, counterclockwise, in a sphere on the point, and so on. Be creative. It helps if you have a picture of Zhunti Buddha to venerate and use as motivation for success because if you open your third eye and look at his picture, at times Zhunti will shine a bright point at the brow or heart chakra to show you where you should be concentrating your cultivation that day/session. Zhunti is actually quite good looking, and Vairocana is so awesome and majestic and regal. The shining of bright points on Buddha pictures only happens at very advanced stages of practice. Don’t think you can cultivate for a single week or month and have this happen. That’s just your wild imagination. Don’t write me about such foolish misconceptions, but also, don’t think that it’s not possible and doesn’t happen. Devoted, deep, long term wisdom practitioners with gong-fu and merits can have this happen.
You must also learn to be constantly reciting the Vairocana Tathagata mantra "Ohm Ah Vi Ra Hung Chit" and the Zhunti mantra (see the website Zhunti sadhana for this) throughout the day, and of course especially during your concentrated hours of meditation practice for this Tantra. Always you must recite these two mantras on top of each other or one after the other — first the one and then the other … Om Ah Vir Rah Hung Chit Ohm Zhurlee Zhulee Zhunti Soha, and vica versa. You recite them at the location of the heart chakra and brow chakra, and visualize a diamond flame or shining Buddha at those points.
This is key — use these two Great Buddhas, use their mantras, concentrate on the heart chakra and brow chakra, use a diamond-silver-bright point visualization at these chakra points — recite the mantra from theses locations and rotate the mantra along the chakra point petals. Be creative.
That’s it in a nutshell. Simple. Not too fixed or particular. Quick. Clean.
You can find out how to recite the Zhunti mantra from the website, or if you want a computer CD then you can get one here:
Sometimes you make the mantra come from those locations, or one mantra at the third eye (brow chakra) location and the other at the heart chakra location, or you switch them, or you make the sound come from all four great chakras as mentioned by Tsong Khapa, or you make it run up and down the zhong mai (sushumna) chi channel. Don’t be too exactly particular about it — that’s falling into the great error of the Tibet School. Be creative but practical for progress by concentrating on these chakra locations. When you attain progress, stick with that method for awhile. Use your wisdom, rely on your wisdom rather than literal instructions. You’re just trying to open up the brow (third eye) and heart chakras together, so you concentrate on using these two mantras at these (and other) chakra locations, and combine them together because you want to combine your yin and yang chi energies. Actually, switching back and forth between these two chakras can help you achieve the "neither knowing nor not knowing samadhi", but I will not go into which chakras are involved in which samadhi-dhyana. Just ignore them for this practice.
You can also add other mantras to this basic practice technique as well — Namo Amitofo, and for kundalini at the root chakra, the Lotus Buddha Mantra (Ohm Bei Mah, Sha Rah Ru Pei, Nai Bar She Naga Nai, Dai Ah Tai, Zahr Wa Ray Rudha Hana Hana, Bar Zhar Nah, Ruh Ka Ruh Ka, Soha), Kuan Yin’s mantra Ohm Mani Padme Hung, etc. The Lotus Buddha mantra really gets the large root chakra chi moving and initiates the body’s fire element, especially if you recite it going in a circle as well. There is also "Namo Amitofo" (Amitabha’s mantra) for helping to open up the head and crown chakra.
There is no higher Tantric method I can think of than opening the body’s chi channels and then combining the yin and yang energies using the Great Father and Mother Tathagata’s methods. Combining the Vairocana and Zhunti methods, the Father and Mother Buddhas, can give you a tremendously large chance for success in this life IF YOU PRACTICE their tantra.
That’s the reason I wanted this Tantra born, because I wanted the Blessings and Guidance and Protection of the two greatest "male" and "female" Buddhas (though Buddhas have no sex) and didn’t want people to keep getting misled by the polluted byroads in Esoteric Buddhism or devote themselves to practicing the clean Shingon school without making progress there either. Both men and woman can practice it and follow it without restrictions. You don’t need all sorts of extraneous garbage and definitions to succeed, but so much has been added over the years that everyone seems lost. Go read the blog post on Anapana to see how easy cultivation really is. It just takes devoted, disciplined practice effort.
Definitely there are other cultivation methods higher than this and quicker - just cultivating emptiness is one such road and watching the breath is another - but this forceful one is quick and effective. You don’t have to understand too much or undergo any lengthy apprenticeship or initiations or instructions. You already have everything. It’s not expensive either like Tibetan Buddhism — it cost you nothing.
For different people and skill levels and mental propensities there are different methods you should teach, and I’ve opened this tantra since any Desire Realm practices it later entails are already public in society en masse. So it will not make the world deteriorate further, but only go up as practitioners succeed. You can see what I wrote about Tantra to help you understand my meaning. Anyway, in less than one week you can open up the heart chakra, and then break through the skandhas and Triple Gate in another two weeks. From start to end about three weeks for someone with the proper foundation and merits. That’s how fast the method is, but it requires wisdom, merit and lots of previous cultivation work. Usually this is done in retreat so the world doesn’t distract or bother you.
Eventually in using this Tantra, you will open up the heart chakra and can reach the Mind Ground and the Bodhisattva bhumis just as Buddha said. Past that , since this is just the start, there are many stages of purification which require rolling together the yin and yang chi energies at chakra locations or petals, which is why you use the idea of mental sex of karmamudra that is suggested by the word "tantra." That’s why I wanted male and female Buddhas, even though this is really a male YANG chi Tantra, or you can say it is both. I don’t want to describe the use of the karmamudra or imaginary sexual consort and dakinis in detail for transforming your yin chi in case you drop. As just one example, you can read the story of Milarepa who saw a thousand quivering vaginas in the air, and he generated a thousand penises to satisfy them. What he saw was just the tips of the crown chakra petals that appear like stars or diamond points in the sky (or like a half dome) at various stages through the further purification process. When you reach that stage, Kuan Yin or another Buddha will come to help.
If you’re lucky, you might receive the help of Manjushri and Vairocana together who may teach you both sides of the great golden samadhi; the two chi channels (left and right) can be transformed at a very high stage using this high high samadhi with its yin and yang sides that is privy to these two Buddha Victors. Really I’m spilling out all sorts of secrets you cannot buy or learn at the feet of some guru or monk. Practice this, achieve it. Don’t lose the chance, because there’s no guarantee you’ll once again be in touch with the dharma over your next several dozen or several hundred lives. It’s that hard to get in contact with the dharma, let alone practice it. It requires lots of merit - look around you and see most people have no clue, and you’ll gain a small inkling of what I just said, especially when you look at the number of animals, insects, even bacteria or fishes in the world. Don’t lose your chance, don’t lose your chance.
Unwinding each chakra petal so that they recede into the base of each chakra (returning to their source) can also require karmamudra type activities at times, but no one will describe this to you. Once again, you need a very clean mind and lots of merit to succeed at this - what you have to do to transform the "yin" energies of the petals really falls into the path of tantra and I don’t want to describe it. People who talk about tantra all the time don’t know anything about these things but are actually just chanting "I want sex," "sex," "sex" because they want sexual license, yet you have to do this yourself without any sexual partner because it happens within your body as a way of uniting the yin and yang energies in a quick, forceful way. You can read what I wrote in the blog post on Tantra to learn more.
Of more I will not speak, so ask Zhunti and Vairocana to help you.
This Tantra has been created for you so you can succeed quickly. But if you don’t study and practice, who’s going to make progress for you? Death comes to everyone, and then you have to be born somewhere else all over again and must hope you can pick up teachings again in that life where you left off. What great efforts are you doing in this life on behalf of others regarding spiritual cultivation so that this will happen?
Do you really think you’ll be born again as an American, Indian, Chinese, Australian, Malaysian, European, African, etc. and get in touch with the dharma again? Or as someone next life who can have the words available in their own language so as to understand the essence and meaning, let alone have them available to you? Geez, what are you talking about with such a lazy mind!?! No one who reads Confucius or Lao Tzu or Shakyamuni’s words nowadays (or even Jesus’ words in the cast aside Gnostic Gospels that the Church rejects but which contain genuine cultivation teachings) can even understand them today. What nonsense are you thinking? Time is short. If you’re born into one of the Western religions (Christianity, Mormonism, Judaism, Islam, etc.) that have hardly any cultivation teachings at all, you’ve just wasted yet another lifetime, too, and will just be using up yet more merit if you don’t replenish it. Think about it. Just 50 years ago most all the world was poor, just 50 years ago. So put your efforts into some practice and do something for the dharma. I’ve struggled so hard telling you everything and pushing away the dirt to help make things clear. It’s all in your hands.
If you practice this Tantra, which is sponsored / protected / supervised / created / transmitted by the two great Tathagatas Vairocana Tathagata and Zhunti Tathagata, as well as Manjushri and Shakyamuni (and other Buddhas will help), yes you can succeed at getting the Tao and breaking through the skandhas. You’ll be able to reach the Mind Ground and transform all the seeds of the alaya consciousness. I’ll explain the Mind Ground in a second, because Esoteric texts never take people that far in explanations and opening the central channel is just the start of spiritual cultivation. Now you’ve entered the realm of real cultivation practice after this accomplishment.
The Tibet school has deteriorated in modern times, and is so mixed up that it seems to have become Big Business. Frankly, the preponderance of its yogic teachings have now become the main brunt of its teaching focus. In the last post I revealed in about one page how to cultivate samadhi and the Tao using breathing — just one page — and look what a mess Tibetan Buddhism has made of the simple process. Look how simple, elegant, quick and clean the great Vairocana-Zhunti Tantra is and ponder all the secretiveness of the Heruka, Guhuyasamaja, and other Tantras that the Tibetans make a big deal out of. You just got it in one minute and nothing was left out – so why all the fuss? Too much ignorance, mixing of methods and so forth is now the case with Tibetan Buddhism - don’t drop in and get lost. Frankly, Tibetan Buddhism has become too polluted from all the non-Buddhist methods it has absorbed from India, China and Bon practice.
The cultivation process is simple, quick, easy. It’s not dogmatic nor sectarian nor denominational. You just need to study the wisdom sutras, do lots of merit, learn letting go, and practice the skeleton method as a prerequisite since that is cultivating your chi channels, which is what this Tantra does (clean, purify or empty the chi channels of obstructions to provide you with a foundation for practice). On the previous blog post I told you how to cultivate anapana breathing if you want to practice that way. Frankly, from start to finish, from seeing the Tao to finishing breaking through the skandhas, the process can be done in about a month if you’ve been practicing for years. But you have to learn one-pointed concentration on a chakra point with mantra recitation at that point, and silver flame visualization at the same point, while letting go yet being mindful of the process ("mindfulness" means the constant practice of it, without stopping, but without too much force). That’s it.
And remember that without merit you cannot succeed. Don’t be so stingy in practicing merit. People will think nothing of spending tens of thousands for a car one grade up, and thousands for a computer or hundreds for an X-box or pretty clothes and cosmetics … but spend money on the dharma? Don’t make me laugh. Don’t think getting the dharma is so simple or easy as just making a donation, or even expect it to be free either. Even if you are sincere and spend lots of money you cannot necessarily get it. You can read thousands of books on the topic and still not get it. If you even that someone HAS to teach you or that you’re qualified, then just go drop into Christianity or some other Western religion or sect. Your affairs are none of my business.
I’ve given you access to a Tantra for cleaning your channels and also combining (uniting) the yin and yang energies within so you can get through the process quickly, and these two great Tathagatas have transmitted it. Manjushri Tathagata also knows this Tantra, and so does Shakyamuni, but it is NOT Shakyamuni’s method. His way is one of wisdom, which is higher than this. Most all yogic tantras are actually quite crude compared to his wisdom way, which is quite elegant and refined.
If you’re lucky, another day I’ll also explain how the Sambhogakaya forms during this process along with how your merits interact with its formation, and how the head chakra opens and slowly comes out with different Buddha heads corresponding to your Bodhisattva stage and merits, but only if I have the time. There are many stages of achievement past what the Tibet school describes in its tantric texts, which are usually just the low stages of cultivation that you reach through very crude artificial forceful yogic methods. They are usually just yoga texts so don’t get fixated and fascinated by them; the key thing is practicing emptiness from beginning to end. Even the Jewish kabbalah masters who succeed understood this because they always stress "ayin" (emptiness) as the point of practice. Previously I discussed the clean, pure, free, open cultivation method of the Anapanasati Sutra, which is truly Shakyamuni’s method, but since people don’t trust in that method, now you also have this Desire Realm tantric method to help you make progress for those who are attracted to the idea that they must do something. Typically those with complicated minds are attracted to this way, and the world is utterly filled with people who have busy, complicated minds today.
In Shakyamuni’s day people had simple minds and could get Tao easy, but not today — there’s too much thought pollution, thought attachment, thought clinging, forceful thoughts. You have to learn to let go of the mind, rest and practice present clear awareness without clinging. But how to do it? Now you have a high high yoga tantra to help clean you chi channels and transform your physical body and illusory bodies so that you can achieve this. You don’t need a special empowerment initiation to practice this tantra, but you do need prerequisites: mantra practice, as stated; sutra study so you understand the wisdom of letting go and emptiness; merit making, as done in Christianity; the constant practice or mindfulness of letting go without which you cannot succeed; and the skeleton method practice, and anapana.
Yes, without a foundation of preliminary practice it is hard to succeed quickly. That’s why I told you about the five stages of the cultivation path. This is the second stage of practice, Western religions only have the first stage typically (unless a practitioner knows how to engage in proper intensified practices), and the Buddhism framework can help you reach the third to final stages. This Tantra will help you break through the skandhas so you can finish the whole thing quickly. In the process you will generate impure chi bodies (illusory bodies) and then eventually the pure illusory body and sambhogakaya, but I don’t want to describe this yet.
As stated previously, the skeleton method cultivates the entire chi of your body and in particular your chi channels, which are the body’s earth element. The chi is its wind element. The Tibet school also concentrates on the bright points or drops, which is the body’s water element, and then the kundalini or fire element. When you start opening up the channels you’ll see that the earth element chi is extruded out the channels like sand, the water element like water or paste (when it has more earth element to it), the fire element colors the extrusions a reddish tint or brownish red tint, and so forth. Before you open up the channels this is all science fiction sounding theory, but after it starts you can see it in your body and will know it’s true. That’s why so many cultivation schools talk about the four (five if you include space) elements. You can open the chakras and chi channels using all sorts of methods, but when it comes to the throat chakra, that one is really quite difficult and even more difficult than the heart chakra to open. If you don’t open it it’s like having your head always disconnected from your body. Frankly, if you don’t open the throat chakra we cannot say you’re enlightened, so this is the one you need to really work on after the heart chakra becomes open. But I will not discuss that today. Opening up the throat chakra requires a variety of methods.
One such method is taught by the Tathagata Mahamati, one of the several great Buddhas working hard in Shakyamuni’s realm to help keep the dharma alive - you imagine two discs facing each other (the upper and lower parts of the throat chakra), and each has a stem coming out of the center that extends about 2-3 inches (upwards for the top disc and downwards for the bottom half). You imagine pushing the two discs together, and the chi in each stem is pushed into the relevant top or bottom disc to make it wider so that both discs get bigger as the stems disappear because their energies are used to expand the discs, which combine into one flat plate. Then you imagine that some chi from this large disc (the chi that was in the upper stem) is pulled through to the empty lower stem on the other side, and the some chi is drawn through to where the upward extending stem was. As this happens, the plates become smaller and smaller because you pull the chi energies from the now single disc through to the other sides until only a single long rod or tube of chi is left (the disc energy is drawn out of the discs into the tube), and then the two chi ends of the tube both spring back toward the central point where they disappear into a singularity. Pop! Wah-lah! You’ve done it. Truly amazing is Mahamati -Mara’s method! This is worth millions of dollars, what I’ve just told you. Seriously - you don’t know how to value what’s important if you think otherwise, you really don’t. But don’t sell the information or you’ll end up going to Hell. Better show it to your Tibetan friends because they don’t have such a fine technique.
Normally when trying to open up the throat chakra, you have to pull the top part down out of the head, because it looks like an octopus with a bulb inside the head and the twelve branches (tentacles) sticking out. When you pull it out then the top part becomes flat, like a two-winged bat. The Chinese talk about a lucky bat which cultivates for 50,000 years to succeed in the Tao, and it’s referring to this stage of practice yet the populace doesn’t know it. The bottom part is easier to cultivate, especially as regards purifying the water element and pushing the dirty chi out its channels, but you have to combine the top and bottom to reach the stage of what I call "no cut head." You can see Indian tantric pictures of females who chop their heads off and hold them in their hands, and it’s referring to this stage of cultivation. It’s so hard to open up this region because it contains so many glands. My teacher once said that there used to be a type of human looking being in China whose head could pop off at night and fly around, and which had a long thin stringlike tongue to suck chi from babies as it hid in rafters, and now I understand this possibility. Interestingly enough, I had Filipinos tell me of similar stories and Japanese, too.
Buddha explains in the Surangama Sutra that you can achieve the thought-born body that helps you receive teachings at these higher levels of practice (Socrates’ inner daimon), and if you have the merit the Tree Buddha or even Beetle Buddha can help teach you how to sway, twist, bend or flex your chi channels (Tree Buddha) to help open them or how to shake (Beetle Buddha) the sex chakra to help pump chi up the chi channels to the heart chakra to open the chi mai during the process of chi channel purification and chakra unfoldment. It all depends on your merits as to who will help you. That’s why I always tell you to read sutras and recite the names of other enlightened beings to establish a connection with them. It’s not worship, it’s not religion, it’s not superstition. It’s establishing a karmic connection. Will just anyone help you when you’re in trouble in the world? Usually not — usually just friends or people you know with whom you’ve already established a connection. Strangers rarely help you in great crisis situations. So don’t drop into superstition. Establish the appropriate karmic connections.
Shakyamuni Buddha was a great yogi and friend who never lied, it’s just that you don’t understand what he was teaching or believe him when he told you stories of other Buddhas (enlightened ones) and what they achieved and vowed to keep doing for sentient beings everywhere who had not yet achieved the full Tao. It’s too bad people don’t study his sutras like they do the Bible, which cannot compare in terms of cultivation content and instructions. Your understanding of his words in the sutras usually isn’t sufficient because your stage isn’t high enough, and your stage of cultivation isn’t high enough because you aren’t studying enough and practicing enough. I always find I just didn’t understand what he was saying until I reached a higher stage of cultivation. So don’t be a dead log when you study Buddhism or other cultivation texts from other schools - investigate and study everything - medicine, physics, literature, history, psychology, etc. to help yourself. Then your wisdom will be greater and you can help more people. When you go into the houses of the most successful people do you know what you typically find? Books, hundreds or thousands of books. In poor people’s homes you hardly find them at all, and it’s not for lack of money. So the general rule is to study to learn, and then practice what you learn for achievement and success.
People think Buddhism is religion when it is just a historic record or instruction book on how to become enlightened, and that’s it. It’s a theory manual and instruction manual. People have even botched that understanding up and think "I’m Jewish" or "I’m Christian" or "this isn’t Mormonism" or "I’m Moslem so I can’t touch this" when it’s a non-denominational process, a technology, a road map to how you can reach the ultimate unity of mind with matter, how you can combine with the whole cosmos, how you can find, reach and become one with the Ultimate Source, or Suchness. It’s a pity people think of the process as a religion. Enlightenment teachings are cultivation instructions for everyone on how to become one with the whole universe and find the real source of all creation, life, mind and matter. What else are you looking for? Did you think you could get there by going to Church on Sunday, or through some sort of worship? Ha! If you imagine there is something else as the ultimate goal it already shows you’ve got to study harder and correct yourself.
So when you call these types of instructions that Shakyamuni gave a religion you’re revealing inner stupidity. When you realize it’s sentient being technology for enlightenment realization, or samadhi attainments if you fail that, you’ve finally realized something. If you’re just running after "abundance prosperity" teachings in/for this life (ex. "The Secret"), you’re double stupid again, but that’s what most people are concerned with in today’s world (let alone "True culture" or self-cultivation), and doomed they are to keep bobbing up and down the cyclic rounds of reincarnation for kalpas until they seize the process and cultivate to become the master. With just a little bit of cultivation success you usually make enough gong-fu progress to wake up and see where all the free promises fall wrong.
You think next life will be as good as this one? I just had dinner with four people who all told me how terribly poor they were just 40 years ago, and since the world changes who’s to say that won’t happen again and you won’t be born into that? Don’t think that you will have such good karma always. If you’re not practicing lots of offering, charity, kindness and merit, think again. Look around to convince yourself — most people in this world of seven billion are definitely poor - you cannot say otherwise - and investigating clearly you can find that most have lots of hell / bad karma still unused up. The unspent pieces of bad fortune/karma collect from hundreds or thousands or millions or however many lives. It collects, collects and collects until situations arise that are ripe for small or large portions of it to discharge, and then they are done with after it manifests. Absolutely. It will definitely come to bite you eventually if you don’t cultivate, which teaches you how to control the process and get rid of it. Maybe not now, maybe not next life or 100 lives from now, but eventually, YES YOUR BAD FORTUNE WILL CATCH UP, ABSOLUTELY, AND LAST FOR LONG STRETCHES OF TIME. Who will save you or help you? Only self-cultivation will.
If you’re old, you already have an inkling of the difficult times I’m talking about that younger people cannot possibly understand because they haven’t lived long enough or experienced much yet. Maybe the world will have a deep recession and people will have some idea again. Only cultivation solves the ultimate problem of how to handle yourself and deal with bad karma or dissolve it, but who in the great Western orthodox religions is cultivating nowadays, and who has succeeded so can they help you? So you need to feel pity and reveal the true cultivation path to people openly so at least they establish some karma with it. You work for the best, and then hope for the best, because the effort to now be made is in your hands, not mine. You are the one who has to do something and spread the information to help others.
I mentioned that after you open up the heart chakra it’s possible to really gain enlightenment. Previous to that, you can cultivate all sorts of samadhi (the four dhyana and four formless absorptions) and still not reach the Tao. Most heavenly beings mistake the samadhi of infinite emptiness, or samadhi of space or infinite nothingness as enlightenment. Most of the cultivating dakinis make mistakes like this but it’s easy to for them to awaken if they meet a good teacher because they have bodies of chi and are already cultivating. After they open up the heart chakra it’s easy for them to get the Tao and see where they’ve been wrong. Countless heavenly beings make this sort of formless samadhi mistake. Immediately after you open up the heart chakra and reach the Mind Ground, we say you are a "Buddha" ("enlightened") but frankly it’s just starting the process of true cultivation practice because it only corresponds to breaking through the conception skandha and there are other skandhas to go, the body still needs purification, you still need to cultivate the real dhyana after this and find the ultimate fundamental essence!
So you only really started your initial TRUE cultivation practice at this point. Nevertheless, you can understand a bit about the bhumis and some of the seeds of the alaya, but not yet the whole picture at all. You’re far from it. You just have an ant’s view of the entire empty sky looking out from its miniscule hole in the ground. You really know nothing at all, but are just prepared or qualified to start practicing now. You have a bit of wisdom, that’s all, and your chi channels are now finally cleaned a bit. So you can enter the Stage of True Cultivation Practice, which is the fourth stage of the overall cultivation path. Once again I laugh at all the letters I get from people claiming they are enlightened who haven’t passed through any of these things and know nothing about them. I get a few dozen every year. Simply amazing.
Shakyamuni Buddha cultivated all the samadhi but found it never gave him the Tao, yet when he did finally let go and attain the Tao, because he had been cultivating samadhi for so long then the progression through or breaking away from the 5 skandhas was easy for him and he could see each step in detail. That’s why in the Surangama Sutra he was able to explain the 50 possible errors of cultivation practice that occur when you break through the skandhas. It’s in the back of Measuring Meditation which you can order on the website if you want more details.
If you practice the Vairocana-Zhunti Tantra, you will also be able to break away from the conception, volition and consciousness skandhas but if you have not been cultivating samadhi like Shakyamuni was doing previous to this, then you won’t have superpowers or clarity as to all the fine points of the process as you go through it. It will be a little confusing, especially the volition skandha, and especially since the body will be changing so much and your gong-fu will be unstable. To be honest, it will be uncomfortable and fatiguing, but easy to ignore the weariness of the process or any pain that arises from the physical transformations if you really want to succeed. A lot will depend on your age, your vitality, your physical body, your practice effort, your wisdom and so forth - it’s better to start cultivating early so stop reading the books and get to it because the books aren’t going to help you anymore. I already told you everything you need so you’re not missing any new or unusual information you need to suck in. You don’t even need to buy any Meditation Expert books.
After you break through the skandhas and clean your chi channels then you’ll have a fine foundation for practice and can cultivate the samadhi at the REAL level of practice. Then you can finally and truly get some measure of the Tao. This level is far beyond the level achieved by most samadhi masters who never make it to the Mind Ground. You won’t even find this described in Esoteric Buddhism because most monks never achieve it. Honest. I used to disagree vehemently with my teacher on that synopsis but I bow to him - I’m now older than when I used to argue so I’ve seen it for myself that he was absolutely right.
The big catastrophes most often occur in this school, he used to say, and now I agree. You think I’m just criticizing but you can’t possibly know how right he was and how poor the cultivation is of the monks today in almost all traditions. Cultivation attainment is almost gone and has to survive with YOU, as well as its transmission. It’s your responsibility, it’s not just something you just read about and toss away. If you want to succeed it IS your responsibility … how else do you think you’ll get the real dharma in future lives? Like Shakyamuni predicted, in the end the dharma would only survive amidst laymen practitioners who realize the way and practice, but not amidst the big organized religions or groups of monks. Of course there are exceptions, too, for great monks. But typically, when and if a cultivator arrives at the Mind Ground, most don’t even know what to do, or turn away because they are scared of what they find. My teacher says some might go crazy.
If you open up the heart chakra, you can break through the conception skandha and reach the Mind Ground. Now pay attention here, because I do not talk foolishly or waste time when describing these high level things. Why you have the merit to hear this I really don’t know, but you should share this with your Tibetan friends and Taoists, Christians, Jews and Jains and Buddhists, Confucian, Mormon, and Moslem and Gurdjieff followers and Anthroposophists and Edgar Cayce students and all sorts of sincere others who think they’re cultivating, because this information hasn’t been revealed before. But the world is so degenerate now and so steeped in money grabbing, power chasing, ignorance, lack of discipline, sexual lust and bountiful desires that a quick tantric way needs to be revealed to help beings make progress so that the dharma doesn’t disappear. That’s my vow, but I would need weeks to explain it. What are your efforts and vows devoted to? A new X-box or P2P?
After breaking through the conception skandha you reach the Desire Realm Mind Ground, whose surface is like wobbly jello and blackish blue in color. The Mind Ground is like a great chakra and its thick bluish jelly substance is like all the seeds (particles) of the alaya that (are connected to one another) and will turn into manifesting karma. The seeds deep within it are the seeds of karma not yet worked out that must wait for all sorts of situations and circumstances to arise so they can work their way to the surface together, like particles of Jello stuck in the middle of the clump that cannot work-wiggle their way to the Jello’s surface. That’s why unmanifested bad karma is something to expect and depend on 100% of the time - those seeds just haven’t had a chance to wiggle out to the surface yet because they are connected to all the other seeds on all sides, and so you just have to wait for the right time when a whole interconnected bunch of them rise together for good or bad fortune to play out.
So please DO PRACTICE lots of merit making and good karma. That’s the only thing that helps other than working through bad karma wisely, gracefully, dispassionately without creating new bad karma in return (ex. revenge). Stop spending hundreds or thousands of dollars on Prosperity Abundance thinking because without the past life laid out karmic underpinnings, you cannot think or attract good fortune to you. Impossible. You have all these various alaya seeds of karmic fortune (good and bad) coming due all the time like a rushing river or torrent of rain you cannot stop, so cultivation teaches you how to deal with them, change or transform them, create new good fortune seeds and prajna wisdom seeds and also how to flip them all over and transform all of them into wisdom. Who else teaches that? See White Fat Cow if you want to know about the real process of prosperity abundance that the New Agers are cheating you about. They’re just collecting money on your ignorance.
The surface of the Mind Ground corresponds to what is manifesting now, and by looking at its undulating surface that’s always changing, because of the totality of the combined thoughts and actions of all sentient beings, you can know what will happen in what eon (kalpa). The Bodhisattva bhumis all refer to reaching this Mind Ground and once you reach it, we say you are enlightened or a "Buddha" or "Bodhisattva," which means enlightened one or a man of Tao. But not really. That’s just being polite to you as a sort of inspiration or motivation to help you keep going. You just have a small inkling of the Tao. At this level you can understand how all the bhumis are not different form one another, and how you can instantly transform the sixth to the third or seventh or ninth or tenth or eighth or whatever bhumi you like. Only if you have wisdom can you understand the high bhumis like the eighth, ninth, tenth and the stages past that corresponding to Manjushri and Samantabhadra Tathagata. It would take days for me to describe this to you, so we’re skipping this for brevity’s sake. I’m not holding this information from you, just it’s not right time yet.
The Desire Realm Mind Ground seems surrounded by a wall of white color because Desire Realm beings think that whiteness is purity, and so their combined thought energy gives the Desire Realm a boundary of whiteness because that’s their coarse wisdom-lacking conception of emptiness or purity. Also, a characteristic of the Mind Ground is not infinite but unlimited (it’s bounded but unlimited or immeasurable, yet that doesn’t mean infinite); if you stand on it and proceed to its wall, the ground will keep extending in front of you so that you never reach the wall (like the story of the Monkey King in Journey to the West flying on Buddha’s hand and then pissing on it)– unless you have the prajna wisdom and gongfu of non-clinging. Hence we say it is bounded but not measurable or infinite. If mathematicians saw this, they could finally understand how something could be immeasurable, but not infinite. Perhaps we should say unbounded but not infinite. I really don’t know how to describe it except with the story I just alluded to. The Form Realm and Formless Realm Mind Grounds are also like this, each progressively smaller than the other but that also is not true — it’s like using Cantor mathematics to remark that one infinity is smaller than another, and yet they are not infinite but unlimited yet bounded. So you cannot actually compare their size this way, though what I said is true because of the relative number of beings or thought energies in the realms.
Obviously the Desire Realm is, in a certain sense, filled with more thought energy than the Formless Realm, but who can say one Realm is bigger than the other? That’s like trying to say the universe is large. It’s large as compared to what? Compared to emptiness (not empty space) it’s not even a dot, so you cannot use words like "large" or "small." Nevertheless I’m trying to describe things for you the best way I can. If you reach there then you’ll know the meaning of what I’m saying. As for Shakyamuni and the other Buddhas, why describe this and confuse beings — it’s all illusion anyway. They want you to just realize it is all like a dream, without any reality, and maintain clear perception without ignorance. In cultivating the Shakyamuni wisdom way of non-attachment and ignoring form, you jump over all three Mind Grounds in an instant. In clinging to the dharma, you get stuck. So ignore what I just said. The cardinal, only rule in cultivation from start to finish is to cultivate emptiness, empty mind, letting go. That’s it. Let go, nothing is real, but just like a dream, an illusion, something not permanent that cannot stay or remain the same. The same goes for this stage of practice achievement. It is not real.
As to the Form Realm it’s Mind Ground is royal dark blue and its wall is the same color pure royal blue because the beings there are absorbed in thought supported samadhi (the four dhyana), so the wall is the same blue color as the floor. This Mind Ground is EXTREMELY hard to break. The Form Realm dakinis are extremely hard to conquer as well. Extremely difficult to liberate. For the Formless Realm, the Mind Ground floor is dark blue or sometimes appears a bit grayish in color (since gray has a tinge of red color that corresponds to the beings’ hate for existence ) while it’s wall is clear or transparent. That’s because the beings there cultivate "no thought" (the absence of thought as a support for their formless samadhi absorptions) so the wall seems clear but there is still subtle clinging, so there is still a wall.
To break the Desire Realm Mind Ground, or to stir it, is difficult, difficult, difficult. It’s sticky like taffy, and the seeds deep within it have not turned into manifested karma yet. You have to vow to become a Buddha with extremely deep sincerity and everything you vow has to be your own vow in order to move it. That’s the only way to stir all the chi inside this great chakra and get it to break open so you can transform or overturn all the seeds. If you don’t want to make a Buddha type vow and just cultivate emptiness like an Arhat who wants to be done with the world, then forget it. When you can establish your own unique Buddha vow — and all the other Buddhas will be watching — it will break open with GREAT EFFORT, INTENT AND HONEST COMMITTMENT OF VOWS and what Buddha called a "flower in the sky" will form out of emptiness — an exusion of chi out of emptiness or non-existence that will form because of your great Buddha vows.
Out of nothingness or emptiness an empty circle will seem to form in the sky, a tube of chi (like an empty chi channel) will just naturally exude out of emptiness in response to the sincere, deep vow to help all beings and then it will form a donut since that chi flow out of nothingness will turn/pour back on itself and enter in the opposite side of the "hole" formed out of emptiness. Is that chi pouring out from a different world or dimension? I really don’t know … I don’t understand the process.
Cultivation texts sometime say "things return to their Source," but even this is a coarse materialistic example of that since in many cases the Source means emptiness. But that’s the key to cleaning the body’s chi channels, too, when doing the unwindings as previously discussed - and that’s a supremely great secret I’ve just revealed for you. The new chi donut, itself having a hole, will then exude chi out of the center hole of that donut since that’s how it naturally works, and on and on the process will continue.
It’s miraculous, it’s amazing. That’s how the universe works. That’s how it operates. This process never ceases to amaze the Buddhas (enlightened ones) because it’s just the way the universe operates when the newly enlightened ones make their Buddha vows — it all comes from emptiness or non-existence and forms according to their thoughts, vows and commitments. It’s all an illusion, nothing is real in it. Mahakasyapa understood this when Buddha held up a flower.
So don’t talk to me about prosperity abundance crap ("think and grow rich," "imagine and have it," "pray to create it," "attract it through thought") and think it’s the same thing or comparable because such expounders are nowhere near understanding what I’ve just said, or know the Mind Ground and don’t tell you it’s all the manifestation of karma so you need merit prerequisites. Sorry folks - nothing manifests without lots of interlinking karma, past life and present life efforts - nothing is free but requires prior work or giving to others. Yes, some people have luck … guess what - it comes from previous selfless work for others in a previous life if not this one. Even if it worked, we’re talking about one life out of an infinite number to go — so what are you searching for in Church on Sunday or in temple on the Sabbath?
So as my teacher says, he doesn’t even want to talk 5 minutes about the making and carrying out of vows because if you really understood, you wouldn’t dare even cross his doorstep to listen to him because it’s so difficult so difficult, and so as he says "the grass in front of his house would grow ten feet tall" if he wanted to teach this (since no one would tread on it to make their way to his door to listen as the committed responsibility is so large, and thus everyone would shy away). Even the enlightened Mahakasyapa didn’t want to hear about it because of the difficult commitment it entails. That’s what you need to break the Mind Ground.
So to break the Mind Ground, you REALLY have to vow to become a Buddha. It’s a deep, deep, serious never ending commitment. That’s why I always tell you to study the vows of Great Buddhas like Manjushri, Amitofo, Kuan Yin, Akshobya, Medicine King, Samantabhadra and other enlightened Victors to see what they vowed and are still doing. They are still doing it right now. They were just people like you and me, so think about your own Buddha vows. After you cultivate enough to meet them you’ll see their vows are true. Always ask yourself what skills, talents, excellences, powers, abilities you want to be able to offer or undertake unselfishly on behalf of/ for other sentient beings were you finally a Buddha. Think about this deeply, more deeply than this one life purpose or career or occupation you’re presently following.
Think of the bigger picture. That’s what you try to cultivate this life even if you can’t cultivate meditation. Stop thinking of the Buddhas as mythical religious figures but of men and women like you who awakened and became enlightened because they put in the effort, and vowed to help others to achieve the same unity of matter and mind at the ultimate ground of existence. This compassionate sacrifice is an endless vow people cannot fathom nor understand, not just a one time painful death. That’s how to view what Shakyamuni Buddha was trying to teach you to accomplish – don’t think of it as "Buddhism religion."
These instructions for the Mind Ground, but as to how you must deal with Mara, the Golden Poppy, who will definitely appear when you get there to try to thwart you, those instructions are only for Great Dharma Victors, so I can’t reveal them all through writing. Nevertheless, you should study this and show it to your Tibetan friends and Tao school and Esoteric School and regular cultivators because they need to know the levels past the mundane samadhi levels people normally cultivate (that actually aren’t the real samadhi at all because they never reach nor progress past this level). What people normally write about or cultivate as the samadhi are not even at the first stage of chi channel cleanings I’ve described after opening up the heart chakra!
That’s why my teacher always says he’s never seen anyone cultivate even the real first dhyana. Only after you cultivate through the skandhas and these multiple refinings can you cultivate the REAL level of samadhi that Shakyamuni spoke about, otherwise you only cultivate a luke warm semblance dharma. Most masters don’t know that at all because they never break the conception skandha. Of course samadhi is not what you’re after, but the great unity of matter and mind — the ultimate empty source of existence. But I’m just using "samadhi" as a reference point to show you that people don’t even attain THAT stage today, let alone the Tao.
I’ve made that point already in showing you how the pure Taoist instructions for attaining the Tao have declined from Lao Tzu’s time to today wherein everyone think it involves some esoteric method. Other schools have degraded as well; in Hasidism and Sufism hardly anyone succeeds at even samadhi nowadays. Of course Tibetan Buddhism is riddled with this taint of deterioration from an over-emphasis on forceful cultivation, so I gave you a Tantra to satisfy you. The good thing is that this Tantra works quickly, but after you succeed, you then need to really cultivate the Tao seriously and in earnest and in the correct proper way — emptiness. I’ve given you everything.
As stated, there are many stages to the unwinding process because you have to untie the entire chi body around each chakra and push it through that chakra. At the next one, since you unwound a bigger amount each time than the previous time, even more has to be pushed through the next location. Eventually you invert the whole thing, or turn it inside-out, and it all drops away, emptiness is there, and then a new body is eventually formed. During the process you’ll come to understand the four stages of prayoga — warming, the peak, forbearance, and the highest worldly dharma. See MEASURING MEDITATION for an explanation of this. Each stage of gong-fu has this, and the stage of forbearance is a stage of waiting patiently and doing nothing for a few hours while a new chi body forms. At that time you forget about cultivation and just wait a bit and then start again. Up and up you go through various levels of purification, unwinding the chi channels, exuding chi out of the body, purifying the body’s four (five) elements.
All sorts of things happen, but the most interesting stuff after you’ve broken through the skandhas. When the actual head chakra comes out, there are many stages to this process at each of the levels of purification. In one of the higher levels you can actually watch the central stalk pop out and grow surrounded by a circle of nerves which appear as transformation bodies. Then the central stalk will rise as if on a square pillar that’s being raised, and smaller antennae will exude out of each corner of the square, eventually vibrating and then suddenly splitting into five parts for each of the 5 elements. It’s so cool to actually watch this process because you see it happening and from your wisdom afterwards understand why this Bodhisattva or that one looks like this or that in various pictures. People always think that the various pictures of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas (enlightened beings) with different numbers of heads and arms is fanciful religion, but they don’t realize that most of the pictures are just representations of the head chakra of this or that successful practitioner since it reveals their stage of cultivation. That’s a big secret. Only if you reach this stage will you understand it. Yes, some are pictures of heavenly beings, but I’m talking about the pictures of 10,000-armed Kuan Yin, and multiple heads on Buddhas and so forth.
So people get turned off by Buddhism or Hinduism thinking these pictures are all imagination, science fiction and fanciful religion when in fact, enlightened men and women who reach this stage will each have a different looking head chakra just as each of us has a different face or set of teeth. The representation of their beatitude and great cultivation achievement is what you’re seeing in the pictures of their head chakra that becomes symbolized in the beatific bodies (that’s why various cultures have these gigantic hats in the ancient times). Everybody’s head chakra is different - yours as well as mine since it’s all a function of our cultivation efforts, merits and vows.
Gosh, I’ve just spilled the beans on this one — you better hurry and cultivate to achieve this stage because those enlightened ones in the pictures are just people like you who succeeded in the past. They’ve just been kind enough to show us their success in this traditional symbolic way, and vowed to help others who wish to succeed in cultivation, too. What did you think there is to do in the world except cultivate, attain excellences and perfections so that your wisdom and skillful means increases, and then throw all those benefits into work or efforts on behalf of others (merit making). What else is there to do? Do you think you’ll be rich next life? Cultivate.
Tibetan Buddhism typically only describes the stages of opening the central channel at the first level of practice, but at much higher levels there are higher stage signs for those practice levels such as seeing the sun high up in the sky as if you were under several feet of (greenish) ocean water, seeing an eclipse of the sun by a black moon (which you must reverse by your gong-fu), and seeing all sorts of heavenly beings and signs corresponding to "neither existence nor non-existence" that occur far before this head chakra stage, which isn’t even the final one.
Previous to this stage you can see the entire chi system inside you like a tree with curved roots as Taoists represent typically it (just a very low initial stage of the cleansing process I’ve described, far below these stages of higher transformation), a subsequent stage is to represent it as a scorpion or "stage of poisonous ox tail" because the tailbone chi channel has broken free from its encasing but hasn’t transformed, and beyond that a stage like a salamander or crystal vajra as it rises into the sky and has straightened out, and then a different stage as a lobster or carp after it has entirely straightened out and you have to eject the internal chi remnants out of the body rather than let them rise and pass away. That’s a stage where you have to throw the last remaining chi vestiges of the skeleton system out the body through the head, though of course sometimes you need to use the bottom of the feet or other chakra locations. The Hell Buddha, DiTsangWang (Ksitigarbha), will help you with this at this stage of transformation if you ask and have the merit. When he holds his staff up in the air he wants you to concentrate on cultivating your head, when he uses it to hit the ground he wants you to cultivate the feet, when he flicks it on the ground he means work on your toes, when it’s held up and sort of bends (wiggles) near its top he means work on your throat chakra, and so forth. With your thought-born body you will get all sorts of helpful instructions from the Buddhas on what to do if you’re following Tantra properly. I don’t know if Tibetan Buddhism even describes any of these things.
In the early stages of the tantric cultivation process it doesn’t even talk about a certain type of chi elixir you generate that can turn into earth, water, fire, wind or the space element, and chi bodies that can do that as well. The transformations you can perform in these stages past the initial "enlightenment" of opening up the heart chakra are endless, endless, infinite (billions or trillions, just as Milarepa said) and it’s just like Buddha stated in the sutras — you cannot possibly imagine them, and if he described them to you then you’d think he was lying because they are so unimaginable. Truly they are But you can absolutely turn into water for a valley, or a wind to help a traveler, or a gemstone, or anything made of the five elements. Your transformed chi body will absolutely be able to do that, and yet that’s just one of the lower stages of transformation I’m talking about. These aren’t cultivation secrets. You just have no way of understanding these things until you reach that stage of cultivation attainment yourself. Read the sutras, read the Mahayana Sutras - it’s all in there. The Diamond Sutra, Lankavatara Sutra, Lotus, Vimalakirti, Great Jewel Heap, Sandhinirmocana and other sutras contain boundless high, high, high, high, high, high, high, high, high, high, high, high, high stage cultivation secrets. There is nothing higher in this world in terms of cultivation teachings, which is why all the deities and dragons and Protect Gods and so forth all honored Shakyamuni greatly when he, a fully enlightened Buddha, came to teach in this world. They know how rare this spiritual material is as compared to normal religious teachings by lines of samadhi masters to help this or that cultural stream, until it dies out. His teachings are not religion, they are a textbook of cultivation.
All these stages I don’t want to go into, and many others in-between (I’m mixing several up ), but I just want to tell you that the Esoteric school of Buddhism has become so polluted and over focused on low level yoga rather than studying the root text wisdom sutras that it never seems to lead people to the high level stuff anymore, makes a big mess out of the low stages of gongfu, and totally misdirects practitioners. Most of its masters are just samadhi adherents that get stuck in clinging to its special forms of cultivation for many lives, missing the big picture, so the school has deteriorated and fallen into disastrous shape. The Esoteric School today has lost its way over-focusing on gong-fu and ignoring the wisdom sutras — because of a mistaken emphasis which usually leads most of its practitioners to clinging to low level samadhi or the path of the Arhats. Some day I will write more about this, but not now. I just feel pity and the need or desire to uplift the school and get it back on track. Frankly, it’s easier to talk about these various higher stages of cultivation than write about them and why you have the merit to even see any of this information, I just don’t know.
The higher stages of transformation through this process deal with the Sambhogakaya Reward Body and past that – the Yellow Emperor or Shakyamuni’s Yellow robe (Mahakasyapa is holding it) for Maitreya stage of practice that corresponds to transforming the physical nature and internal organs. When you reach this stage you’ll realize that China’s Yellow Emperor, who helped found Chinese culture, was a great tantric master too, and his saving of 3,000 consorts was that era’s misunderstood but open way of describing the transformation of the yin chi in his body as well (the uniting of yin and yang), which can be symbolized as palace maidens (In Tibet they use dakinis, such as with Milarepa’s story).
Later I’ll go into this and all sorts of symbols you find in Chinese and other cultures symbolizing these high gong-fu stages of cleaning and physical transformation because it’s fascinating and at this stage you know what they mean — carp becoming dragons, scorpions, snakes eating their tails, crystal vajras rising into the sky, ankhs (Egyptian), ox tails with fiery tips, Chinese "lucky New Years bats," flying octopuses, pagodas and stupas, Yamantaka feet, etc. which all have to do with high stages of chi channel transformation. They don’t refer normally to samadhi, just to a higher level of physical transformation.
What is particularly difficult to transform at these stages are the feet and the task of opening up the 12 petalled throat chakra. The Tibet school talks about cultivating a Rainbow body but that’s baby talk compared to the level of these stages, which left that sort of very crude gong-fu far behind. I always tell you this in my articles and books like The Insider’s Guide to the Best and Worst Spiritual Paths and Practices, but people never believe and get seduced by low level gong-fu by thinking it’s high stuff. They think everything has to be complicated or involves an closed door secret. Go read the Anapanasati blog post again if you think that way.
People are so easily mislead by the Esoteric School that it has a tendency to destroy rather than uplift cultural life wherever it goes, whereas the pure clean cultivation schools (Zen, Buddhist, Confucian, Socratic, Tendai, etc.) tend to bring a gigantic cultural upliftment wherever they go. That’s why I’m devoted to these schools. I very much cry when I look at the lack of cultivation culture in my own country, and realize how difficult it is to get anything started or understood. No one is ever willing to support or pay for culture, only low class things. Just look at the TV, movies, magazines and newspapers around you to see what people want to know, want to buy, want to cultivate, want to achieve. Culture never makes money, so has a hard time surviving in almost every country I’ve been in. As modernization comes to India, I see it happening there and fear it will happen to Bhutan soon, too. As France becomes more Americanized, the deep culture will leave it as well.
When you go through these stages, do you have the Tao even after you’ve broken through the skandhas and cleaned the chi channels? To be perfectly honest, you have the foundation but not yet. Don’t consider yourself enlightened, a Buddha or Bodhisattva or anything other than an ordinary individual whose chi channels are a little bit cleaner. Look at Lao Tzu, Confucius or Socrates as examples. Now you have to cultivate samadhi to further deepen your foundation (like the Zen Patriarch Hui-neng who went into retreat for years), let go of your habit energies and learn how to ultimately combine with the universe (by cultivating your natural, always there, clean, pure, perfect, don’t have to do anything, primordial, pristine perception). The small self is gone, you realize emptiness of the self and phenomena and some prajna wisdom but not how to combine with the universe and discover that One Big Self by putting it into play.
You have to reach that state of realization, you have to PROVE it. The physical body is less of an obstruction now to your cultivation, as are habit energies, and you understand a bit of wisdom, but if you did not cultivate samadhi before you started this process, you have to really start cultivating in earnest to get rid of obstructions and finish the stage of True Cultivation Practice for complete enlightenment. It’s a long process wherein you cut off the unnecessary step by step because you cannot completely transform the physical nature and habit energies immediately. Those are Samantabhadra’s words. This is when you use the Anapanasati (Damo Zen) way just revealed in the previous blog past.
But don’t think it’s all about samadhi cultivation. That’s just another way of saying you have to let go and cultivate clear presence, clear awareness every moment, emptiness, letting go, dropping away, etc. You have to cultivate the Tao, but the initial development passes through samadhi naturally, so you should be cultivating the Tao rather than a thought form samadhi. It’s just a way of talking … understand?
So that’s a short introduction. Eventually I’ll add more to this, but that’s enough for now.
The Damo Zen (Anapanasati) Sutra
There is a very important lecture given by Shakyamuni Buddha, called the Damo Zen (ANAPANASATI) Sutra, which is ignored by most people, but which tells you how to cultivate high gong-fu. The three sutras that concentrate on the science and theory of cultivation are the Surangama Sutra, Lankavatara Sutra and Sandhinirmocana Shastra but when it comes to practicing, you should concentrate on the Damo Zen sutra; the first set of sutras is like a map and the Damo Zen sutra is like a tool or the technology used to get there. Buddha was like a great scientist, and to call any of this "religion" is ridiculous when you read his explanations of spiritual cultivation. When you put the teachings of Christianity ("just believe") and other Western religions next to this sort of content, there is no comparison whatsoever. And if you call it "religion," I think Shakyamuni himself would faint or even die of shock if he were alive!
The Anapatisati cultivation sutra concentrates on the stages of watching the breath called the "16 Victorious Methods." It’s the one sutra where Buddha talks about how to cultivate high stage kung-fu (gong-fu) most quickly. I guess it’s karma that the teaching that can help people the most in their cultivation gong-fu is the one most ignored. As for the Surangama Sutra, several fine translations are available. John Powers and Thomas Cleary have translated the Sandhinirmocana sutra, but I am not happy with either translation and while Suzuki and Goddard have translated the Lankavatara sutra, I am not satisfied with those translations either as they have great shortcomings. In a short while Red Pine will be coming out with his own translation, and I hope that helps.
The basic technique of watching the breath revealed in the Damo Zen Sutra starts with watching your inhalation, exhalation, and then the longness or shortness of your breath. You observe them because your chi channels are not yet open. Then the fourth stage is knowing or observing the breath (your chi) throughout your whole body. You don’t try to do anything with it, such as smoothen it out, but just know it or be conscious of it. If there are any obstructions anywhere, that’s because the chi channels have still not opened all the way through and the body elements have not transformed. When you feel your breath (chi) all over your body and cultivate that knowing, there will eventually be no more obstructions in the body when you keep cultivating this way, which is the fifth step of the practice … and you will eventually feel quite comfortable from the practice after all the chi channels open.
In some schools they have you count the breaths to get started with this practice, but most people misinterpret this as adding force or effort to the process of watching. You do not need to add effort or energy in anapana practices. Don’t put a hat on the top of the head. The natural relaxed mind that knows is the right way to observe, and you already have that. You just watch and know the breath — there’s no drowsiness or wandering thoughts but just knowing and that’s it. Unfortunately, people get lost in the counting and don’t realize the purpose of the method. It’s like knowing the hotness or coolness of the chi in the body. You don’t have to do anything about the knowing, like try to smoothen the chi or link with or unify mind and breath (chi). Just know it, relax, and let go. That’s all. It’s cultivating a peaceful open awareness without tightness or restriction.
So simple, so easy to do — everyone can do it which is why so many people succeeded in Buddha’s day. Today people have lost the real understanding of his method and turned it into all sorts of other things but if you just start with this simple practice, you’ll get there.
Secondly, people get confused about the three types of chi you can cultivate this way. The first type of chi, called the "nurturing chi," is what you rely on to be alive. When we practice pranayama, we usually practice this type of chi. If you can stop your breathing, you can enter into the cultivation of the second type of chi. The second type of chi, called the "reward" chi in the Damo Zen Sutra and "karmic" chi in Esoteric Buddhism, is the chi that arises when ordinary breathing stops. This "hsi," if you cultivate it, is what a fetus uses to grow inside a mother’s womb (when external breathing is not required) and when you cultivate it after birth, you can use it to cure sickness, extend the lifespan and stay healthy. If you are able to recognize and cultivate this chi, you can have longevity and can reverse the process of getting old and will become young. You can cultivate that chi to get samadhi but it’s not the highest.
The third type of chi is called "fundamental" (from Consciousness Only school) or "original" or "primordial" chi. Sometimes it’s called "original heaven chi." If you are able to enter into the cultivation of this type of chi, you can control birth and death. So when you enter the cultivation of the second type of chi you can become like a baby whereas entering into the cultivation of this third type of chi you can eventually control life and death. This is the stage you want to get to because it corresponds to becoming one with the universe and the original nature.
This third chi is akin to the chi of the whole universe. When Buddha says there is no self, he means there is no true little self but there is one true BIG SELF, and that is the whole universe, cosmos, Triple Realm. This is the chi of that one thing. An Arhat who cultivates this chi can appear or disappear (dissolve) at will into this type of chi, and thus can control their birth and death that way. To cultivate this chi, you really need wisdom. People without enough prajna wisdom will have a difficult time recognizing this chi. So to get to this stage already takes cultivation practice. If your practice enters the stage of cultivating the second type of chi, you can not only initiate the internal embryo breathing but can start breathing from the bottom of the feet, the forehead, and other places in the body because the chakras and chi channels have all opened and the chi circulates at these spots. But this is just laying a good foundation for practice, and is not the real fruit of cultivation. You want to not just cultivate samadhi, but cultivate to discover the original nature of Mind and all things. For that you must proceed to cultivating the third type of chi.
Now eventually in watching the breath and feeling it everywhere, you’ll reach a state of emptiness which is the sixth stage of practice, and from that emptiness, your body will begin to feel peaceful and you’ll develop joy and physical bliss. In the 6th stage you can receive joy and in the 7th receive bliss. In the 8th you can reflect everything in your mind - you are able to clearly know about every response that your mind has. To achieve this stage of gong-fu you have to practice like the monk Shen Shou (Hui-neng’s dharma brother) said, which is to keep the mind clean like a mirror.
These are the 6th, 7th and 8th stages of gong-fu reached because you’re not influenced by the physical body anymore since its chi channels are open. Resultingly, you can now accept or receive mental joy and physical bliss because the physical body doesn’t bother you so much, so you can be open to receiving happiness. To others your face will always seem joyful. And then eventually your mind will be able to accept every single behavior. You’ll be able to have mercy come out towards all things because you can accept everything, and not reject anything. Mercy, compassion, and feeling other people’s suffering comes out. Only now at this stage do we say you can sincerely give to others, so only now can full-hearted giving manifest. The 6th, 7th and 8th level of practice is starting to enter the level of mind ground.
Even Confucius described this first sequence of events in The Great Learning, so we know it’s a universal process, a common phenomena - found in all true cultivation schools. We know it’s the right way to cultivate because it’s so natural and non-artificial, and in following this non-artificial way the highest results come out. Confucius said you cultivate awareness, reach a state of stopping or cessation, attain samadhi, from there attain quietness-stillness-calmness, next peacefulness because the chi channels are all open, and then wisdom or true knowing (correct thinking) after which you’ll be able to get the real results of practice. In essence, this is very much a similar path or sequence of events as just described in the Damo Zen sutra, but it was developed separately by Confucius showing the commonality of the True Way to cultivate.
Mencius described this natural process in a different way. You first start with the desire to cultivate. Cultivation is only desiring what you should desire, and that’s called kindness - for example, desiring to save the whole world versus just desiring a lot of money, food, sex, etc.. From that step of cultivation, because you can always watch yourself and the desires of your mind and what’s right or wrong (you watch thoughts), you’ll be able to gradually establish trust, confidence, faith and belief in your cultivation and yourself, and that’s the time your body will begin to transform. The body will feel full or rich - a stage called beauty — because the chi channels all open and the chi becomes full. That’s exactly the same gong-fu stage as the fourth stage of the 16 steps just mentioned from the Anapanasati Sutra. Your hsi will then be eventually felt all over your body. Your body will not only feel full and rich and glorious, which he called "grandness." It becomes so grand or large or big that there’s no boundary, which Mencius called the stage of a saint. When the saint’s cultivation level is so high that nobody knows how high it is, that’s the stage of a shen, which is like the 10th level Bodhisattva. This stage meant a stage beyond an ordinary person because no one can speculate on what you are at this level of cultivation. Because no one can put you in a box that way, or put a name or label on you, no one can know who or what you are or what you’ll do next. In olden times, that was the accepted description of a "god" though today we call that the stage of an enlightened sage because those are the ones who really get that stage, and gods don’t. The gods or celestial beings are just heavenly denizens with higher samadhi attainments than ordinary beings, and aren’t enlightened at all.
There’s no special practice other than letting go and watching to initiate this all happening. You don’t follow the breath to try to become one with it. You already know the breathing — that’s it. It’s so simple and direct. It’s just there. So in this practice, there’s really almost nothing to do except cultivate the presence of awareness while letting go and remaining natural and relaxed. That, in itself, will get you the highest gong-fu. Notice there isn’t any spinning of the chi or chi channels or anything like that. There are no special Tao school secret methods or secret Tibetan mantras and visualizations. It’s all so very simple and natural. The process is so simple that hundreds of people could get Tao in Buddha’s time but as time went on, explanations proliferated until people got further and further away from the true, simple meaning I’ve just exposed here. But this is it - it’s very simple, very humanistic, very scientific, very effective. You just have to do it.
Eventually, in cultivating the chi then joy and bliss will arise, and then one can eventually feel liberated or mentally free. What Buddha meant about these stages is that in cultivating to the stage of no more chi obstructions in the body, the form skandha and sensation skandhas are transformed. When the mind is joyful it’s like the 1st and 2nd dhyana, and when just blissful it’s like the 3rd dhyana. Joy and bliss arise because you are cultivating samadhi, but with this type of joy and bliss you always look happy to other people. Eventually by going further you reach the stage of feeling liberated, which means that you are always clear about what goes on in your mind. Your mind is like a mirror and is very peaceful, so you are clear about everything. When the mind feels liberated and free, we often say that "mind and chi are at home."
In the 9th stage, the mind is able to function with joy and happiness at will, and in the 10th stage your mind is able to calmly reflect everything. During the 9th and 10th stage you are in the second and third samadhi level if you can actually reach this stage. In the 11th stage, the mind is able to be free from attachment, or liberated. What does that mean? The mind and chi become unified and you have real mental freedom. They combine without any concentration or holding. It’s naturally unified. During this stage you get superpowers freely. The feeling is one of freedom from any attachments.
Do you see anything special or esoteric in this? No, nothing. Buddha’s teachings are so natural, and also so scientific. People often forget he was a great yogi who cultivated all eight samadhi and then got the Tao and enlightened many other beings, so he was really a great teacher as well and was able to describe things simply and clearly to help people make progress and get the Tao, but we’ve lost his teachings today. The further the time has grown since Shakyamuni’s day, the further lost we’ve become. Typically people concentrate on the Esoteric School which usually follows four steps of practice: (1) cultivating chi (the body’s wind element) (2) cultivating your mai or chi channels (the body’s earth element), (3) cultivating the drops or bright points (water element of the body), (4) cultivating the kundalini (body’s fire element).
After these preliminary twelve stages, the Anapanasati Sutra talks about 5 more stages of cultivation that you should be cultivating all the time. You have to do these no matter what stage you’re practicing at, so they’re not in chronological order. These five — anytime, every time you have to be practicing them – do not belong to the body level but to the mind level where you are inspecting the mind: The12th principle reminds you to let go of everything, which is releasing everything, 13) you practice observing impermanence, 14) you feel more and more of a growing separation or distance from what you desire (departure of desire - don’t drop into what you’re doing, like watching TV, sex, food, desires) which people typically translate as dispassion, 15) the stopping or cessation or extinguishment of feeling and thought. In contemplating cessation, the meaning is that you reach a stage where sensation (feeling) and conception are extinguished. There are no more illusions, desires, or sensations. This is the status of a Great Arhat. Next 16) totally offering - giving away mind, life, thought – totally giving offering is the next principle. Buddha meant that you offer everything away, completely letting go and relinquishing everything. That in itself is a form of cultivation.
Together with these 5, which you should be practicing all the time, then you can arrive at a stage of clear perception where all the dust in the mind is delinked or settled, and the true real permanence aspect of the universe (Triple Realm) suddenly appears.
The real and permanent nature of the original nature is revealed at this stage of cultivation. All throughout his life Shakyamuni Buddha spoke of the falsity of the self, the truth of impermanence and suffering and so forth but in the Nirvana Sutra he spoke of the true ego, true bliss and permanence. This is how to arrive at this ultimate state. It’s simple, it’s fast, it’s direct.
IT STARTS WITH WATCHING/OBSERVING (NOT "FOLLOWING") YOUR RESPIRATORY BREATH, THEN BODY CHI, THEN INNER CHI ("hsi") AND SO FORTH.
How do you arrive at this STAGE OF CLEAR PERCEPTION most quickly? By cultivating the breath, cultivating via the path of anapana revealed in the Damo Zen Sutra, also called the Anapanasati sutra . It’s the quickest, simplest method/way to high gong-fu.
If you can do steps one through five, knowing the breathing, then the five senses become more free and empty. If that stage is reached, you have less afflictions and you’ll have a better temper and won’t get angry so easy. When you accomplish the whole thing, the biggest type of offering you can give is to have a mind that is so pure and clean without any thoughts or pollutions, that’s the biggest offering anyone can give - bigger than money, life or anything. The steps 1 through 16 start with existence until you can let go of everything, until you can jump out of everything by using the breathing as the initial cultivation method for letting go and purifying everything.