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How Ascent is Possible

From Chinese Buddhist Encyclopedia
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Today our topic is ascending and descending, how it affects our lives and deaths and the conditions which cause one to either be ascending (positive) or descending (negative). This talk is not based on superstition or blind faith but on science.

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Ascending is based on three principles: lightness, equani­mity and warmth which in turn are related to the three cen­ters or levels which are the physical, psychical and philoso­phical. I shall introduce the three principles and then one by one I shall talk about them.

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First you must be light. If you are light you can ascend. If you are heavy you cannot ascend. For example, physically, at first the body is heavy, but after meditation the body be­comes light. As something is emptied it becomes lighter and lighter.

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"You must be light.
To descend surely you be very heavy."
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Some of you may know the story of Milarepa who had the power (samadhi) to travel instantaneously through space by visualizing the desired destination in his mind. If you know and believe in the possibility of ascending and you know and follow the methods and principles of Tantric practice, then believe me, you will be able to ascend. So the first principle, physically, concerns weight. If you are light you ascend, if you are heavy, you descend.

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The second principle is equanimity, balance. You must be balanced in order to ascend. If you are balanced like the two wings of a jet or a glider and do not meet any obstructions then you can only ascend. So the second principle is equani­mity, the physical aspect being balance.

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The third principle is warmth‑the fire. Scientists can send a man to the moon in a rocket which is propelled by fire. So f you are cold you descend, if you are warm you ascend.

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Now we'll talk further about the first principle, lightness, and point out some of the many examples. The insects fly, as a firefly flies with his lamp, and a bubble also flies. If you do not catch the bubble it will float away. To make the body fly, it must be very light. Physically, there are many drugs and foods which either make the body light or heavy. Vegetables like white turnips or eggplants make it easy to discharge, which brings the energy down. A medicine in Chinese called Bi Ma Tze, in English called Castor Oil Plant, is rubbed on the head of the patient to bring the energy up. This medicine is good for getting rid of hemmoroids.

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Let's look at the two drugs LSD and heroin. One raises the energy and the other lowers the energy. After taking LSD the energy in the body becomes very excited. That is why after someone takes a lot of this drug he might feel, "I want to fly". Some people get killed in this way. They try to fly but the body falls down and they die. We can read about events like this in the newspapers.

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But don't think that it is impossible to fly. I shall tell you a story. In China there was a doctor who could train lice to dance. He got them to jump up and down, up and down. Many visitors came and paid a lot of money just to look through the microscope and see these small things dance. The doctor commands them "Dance!" and the lice begin jumping up and down and dancing. Now the lifespan of these lice is only twenty days, but the doctor must spend fifteen days training them, so he has only five days to make money from them. Usually he trains twenty‑five to fifty lice at a time and has shown them in many places around the world. This is a true story. Even these small creatures can learn to dance. So we must believe in our­selves. No matter how little or heavy we are, we must believe that we have the possibility to ascend.

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This is too small as an example. I’ll give an example of something big in the physical aspect. In China there was a king named Lui An of Huai Nan. He was a devout man who for many years prayed and meditated and per­formed fire sacrifices and he received from heavenly be­ings a formula for making a chemical that would make him fly. He finally succeeded in making this drug and took one of the pills and immediately he began to fly. Some pills were left behind in his room and his dog ate one and he also began to fly. His rooster ate one and began to fly. This is written about in Chinese history. This is not lore or myth. But the king kept the formula a secret and so it cannot be made again. Otherwise nobody would need to take LSD. We could just take this chemical and really fly; we could ascend. This king wrote some books called Wei Lan Tzu wherein he mentions this and gives the method but there has been no success in duplicating it. Someone tried to make a very potent dosage which he gave to his king to take, but the king died. So this is very dangerous. But anyhow, this proves that it is possible to ascend physically.

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For the second principle, balance, the first aspect is al­so physical. All airplanes are balanced and they must keep their balance in space. If one wing were broken the whole plane would fall down. There is a device called a hang glider; no need to drive it, you just sit in it and fly. But if you lose your balance you fall down and maybe die. So you can go flying and get pleasure from this activity but your lifespan may be shortened by doing so as some have died by losing their balance. I advised my friend Helen not to allow her son to buy one of these gliders as it is too dangerous for a young boy. Physical balance is very important. Without ba­lance we fall.

We also have the psychical balance. In Hinayana there is a practice of Samatha meditation. When one practises this for a long time one feels his whole body become very light. I have had this experience myself. Some of you may also have had this experience. Before you meditate your body feels very heavy, but afterwards the body feels very light. This doesn't mean that your flesh and bones actually be­come reduced in weight, but your mind feels very light. If you can practise sleep yoga, that is to meditate during sleep, you will awake feeling very light, whereas if you just sleep in nonsense you awake feeling heavy. Also, too much sleep makes you feel heavy. While I am on the subject of sleep, I want to relate an incident which some of you might know about. It concerns a very learned person who died in his sleep. If you are sleeping and are not practising sleep yoga, and your energy is excited by something such as drugs to the point of causing a heart attack causing you to die in your sleep, the result is to descend, not ascend. This per­son knew better as he had read The Tibetan Book of the Dead which says that you must remain awake as you are dying and pray. You must be able to distinguish between the different lights; this light is from Buddha, this light is from the demons. You must pray to God, pray to Buddha at the time of your death for help and guidance so that you may ascend. If you are sleeping how can you keep your attention? Where will you go? You must descend. Such a person at best will be reborn as a pig because he is not awake, because of his ignorance.

In Tibet there is a common desire by devoted Buddhists to die through consumption. It is a long disease which allows one to keep a clear mind, so the afflicted can pray for his death and through his experience and prayers come to understand impermanence. This man stays awake all the time and keeps his mind awake, and through his pray­ers he gets Buddha’s help and ascends.

So when the mind is light it ascends and through your good prayers and meditations the mind becomes light, very clear and not bothered. As you pray you feel your spirit ascend. When you get Buddha's blessings, He purpose­ly descends to you. You raise your hand and Buddha gives his hand to you and together you ascend. This is very reli­able. At the least you will fly to heaven if helped by God rather than Buddha.

Next we have the psychical aspect of the second prin­ciple of equanimity. Actually meditation is aimed at the so‑called "equal‑mind". That means that the mind is freed from dualistic conditioning and by fixing on any one point in space is able to perceive its infinite and uni­fied nature. "Everywhere can be seen as one point. It can be inside or outside or everywhere at once in an equal quality of Samatha." (from Chenian Booklet New no. 50). So a person who has achieved this quality of equani­mity does not imbalance himself with pride and selfish­ness, but he opens his mind and makes it equal to every­body and everything. Such a great compassion is without conditions. It is not just a matter of loving your husband or wife or children but an opening of the heart and mind to the whole universe so that all parts of the universe become equal. This touches the highest truth. The psychical aspect of equanimity is achieved through prayer and meditation. Gradually the mind will become open and it will be easy to ascend. If you hang on to selfishness, self‑centeredness, and love only yourself then your mind will become narrower and narrower and you will descend.

Suppose one's mind is always equal. He will be humble and not cling to pride. He will love others and hate no one. This person whose mind is mad, who is full of pride and hates others and does things to hurt or kill others will des­cend and go to hell. An example of such are those people who tried to blow up the PG & E building and kill the head of the company because of high prices and in doing so endangered the lives of people in the neighborhood. Such a person hurts himself. He thinks he is the highest and must kill others. This is not good. Many people because their mind is not equal and balanced become cruel and try to kill others. This can only cause one to descend, never ascend.

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As for the one who is psycho‑physically warm (third prin­ciple), he has devotion, deep sympathy and great compassion. He is pious, forgets himself and loves others. This psychical aspect is very important, even more so than the physical. With the physical fire you can make rockets and send someone to the moon, but he must come back. You can send a rocket but you can't send everyone. But a man who is equal in his love for everything is a free man. You can achieve this warmth through devotion. With deep devotion you get great com­passion and sympathy. This is the psycho‑physical warmth.

Many examples can be given showing the results of Tantric accomplishments in terms of the three principles we are dis­cussing. Firstly, from the Nyingmapa school, Padmasambhava could turn his body into light. He was tested by the King of Tibet. The King passed his hand right through Padmasamb­hava's body as if he was passing it through a rainbow. There were no obstacles. Padmasabhava could make his body become light by visualizing his body as a bubble. The body outwardly is like a bubble and inwardly, there is nothing, it is empty. No flesh, no organs, none of these things. That is why the King was able to pass his hand through. This method is taught in the Tantra. Everybody can practise it. You must practise un­til even every hair becomes light, until your insides are empty and your outside is just like a bubble. Such a bubble can fly up, ascend. This is quite true, there is no need to doubt it.

There is not only the physical balance, the balance of yin and yang in Taoism, but also the balance of the great com­passion and perfect wisdom in Buddhism. This is why Buddha is called the "nobility of two legs". One leg is deep wisdom and the other is great compassion. If one is practised without the other, there is an imbalance. If there is deep wisdom with­out compassion it becomes dry wisdom, intellect. If there is compassion without wisdom there is only watery emotion. When there is a balance of the two there are no conditions and the person who has achieved this is open to everyone, and his influence pervades everywhere. Great compassion coupled with deep wisdom will lead you to full enlighten­ment. When the two are balanced, you can really do some­thing. This kind of balance can never be broken, not even by mountains. With these two wings spread you can remain balanced and can touch the whole universe.

Some people just emphasize one‑sided views and become unbalanced and fall over upside down and naturally descend. This is not so good. One sided‑‑descend; two sided‑equal, ascend. This is so on all levels. Suppose I just like sex and want to make love all the time. This will shorten my life and I won't be able to ascend. Desire always takes you downward.

The Heruka, the form of Buddha who is pictured embrac­ing his wife in a sexual intercourse posture (of balance) did not fly alone but he flew with his wife at the same time. This was balance. The female side pursues the deep wisdom while the male side pursues the great compassion. They both unite and never separate. All the Herukas can fly. They always ac­cend, never descend, except to purposely descend to save someone!

There are many methods of practising Vajra love. If the semen and egg both ascend and do not discharge, the practitioners may ascend. The man must first develop the ability to make semen ascend then he can practise Vajra love. After this is accomplished the energy is in a state of constant as­cendance. If this is not accomplished, when you discharge you just lose energy, and bring it downward. Vajra love brings the Tummo (inner fire) up to meet the White Bodhi. The Red Bodhi and the White Bodhi unite and become light and the whole body, the flesh, the bones, the organs, the tissues and the blood, are all transformed into light. The body be­comes the five Bodhi lights (one of the fundamental penta­forms: the five wisdoms, elements, colors, Bodhicittas) and light easily ascends. In Tantra, intercourse is the union of great compassion and perfect wisdom.

I'm sorry to have to tell you this truth but it is very Important. There is no time, not even one moment that you can stand still in the middle. You are either ascending or descend­ing. You must choose. In everyday life your actions, your speech and your mind(thoughts) reflect the direction you take. Few follow the ascending system, many follow the des­cending system. These are the only two ways. There is no third way. Where is the third way? There is none. Any action reflects yourself. The more positive (ascending) actions you take, the more you ascend. The more negative actions you take, the more you descend. This is cause and effect. It is scientific. I am not saying this just because it sounds good.

We must not always follow our Karma. The common per­son just follows his Karma, his habit. If he feels like smoking, he smokes. If he likes many wives, many concubines, if he likes sexual intercourse all the time then he just goes and indulges himself. This is following your Karma or habit. He doesn't know whether he is ascending or descending or even what would cause it, but nonetheless he is descending. So first we must have our own "right view". It will guide us to know, for example, if a teacher is good or an action is evil, if this thought is good or not so good. We all must have such a right view to guide our actions, to direct us towards ascending so we don't pull ourselves down. With the right view you have freedom. Nobody can control you. You can cause yourself to ascend or you can cause yourself to descend. Whatever you like you have the freedom, the free action, the choice. Actions form habit and character; habit and character form the Karmic system, the chain of transmigration. Sow an act, you reap a habit; sow a habit, you reap a character; sow a character, you reap a destiny, your karma.

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The right view guides you to follow a certain system of religion. Whatever you believe in you must follow sincerely. If it is Hinduism, then you take the scriptures of the Bhagavad Gita or other works as your guide and follow it everyday. Then at least you may get Brahmahood. If you follow Buddhism, then you take the Buddhist scriptures as your guide. Most people just follow their Karmic habit. This is very dangerous. You must know you are in danger. You have the will. "Where there is the will, there is the way.” You can change your ways. We come into this life and we go from it. All will die. We must follow the right way. Whatever we do that will cause us to descend we must stop doing. We also must choose our friends accordingly. Some friends might guide you to jump off a building. I am telling you the truth. I am not ascended, but what I am saying is very inspired.

As I have already mentioned, recently terrorists planted a bomb in a building next door to mine. If the bomb had gone off properly the whole building may have fallen down, and I would have been killed. But I have done many things to prolong my life. In the two years since I arrived in Ameri­ca I have set free more than ten thousand goldfish in the river, I have freed many doves and performed many fire sacrifices. God knows this, Buddha knows this and the Dragon King also knows this, so I was saved. Not only was I saved but those who were with me shared their blessings.

You must believe in cause and effect. You must always guide yourself to ascend. Pray to God that you won't have bad friends. Many will ask you to descend, few will ask you to ascend. They say, "Why bother to try and ascend? That is just superstition." So you see we are all in a very dangerous condition. There are many demons, many bad friends, and many bad conditions.

We must live by the right view, but to find the right view we must first make a comparative study to decide which religious system is best for each of us. After you've made your choice, after you've read and studied that religion's scriptures, you must take them as your right view and keep them as a guide for your actions so that the result will be your ascen­dance. These are my thoughts. Thank you.

Questions and Answers

Q: What are your thoughts on sleep?
A: In the Hinayana practice the attitude is to minimize sleep and this is also true in Mahayana. In the Mahayana monasteries the rising time is 4 a.m., never like Americans who sleep so late. I went once to meet someone at 11 a.m. but he was still asleep.

You know the day time is ascending time because at this time the sun is ascended. At night many bad things happen. You can go to the courthouse and get the statistics. Most crimes occur at night, not in the morning. If in the morning time you meet a robber what can you say? You say, "Good Morning!" The air is fresh and the sun is bright in the morning. In China, only the opium houses are dark. To eat in silence is good, but not in darkness. In Hinayana and Mahayana less time is spent sleeping. Only in Tantric practice where one practices sleeping on the truth (sleep yoga) and one's awareness is kept instead of falling into ignorance, does one make good use of sleep.

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Q: How can one need less sleep?
A: You must push yourself to get up early. This is difficult. I have a friend who has been living in the same apartment house as myself for more than two years. He asks me to talk with him about this and that and wants to follow me but he can't do so. I say to him "You can't even get up early to come and talk!" Sleeping late in the morning is becoming very common so you have to push and encourage yourself.

Q: But the next day you are sleepy.
A: Yes, that is very good. A very old man came to the Buddha to learn the Dharma. He was eighty years old and the other monks asked what he was doing there at his age, what he ex­pected to accomplish. They all expected him to die very soon. The man said he never slept, he never lay down. This man end­ed up living for four hundred years. It is written about in In­dia's history. It is not a myth. When we sleep our energy goes downward. When we are awake the energy is higher. When up we ascend, when down we descend. So that is why the Buddha emphasized less sleep. But children should get plenty of sleep. I get up at one a.m. and meditate until three, then I sleep a little more and get up at five.

Once a friend was going to come to the mountain with me but when I told him that we would be leaving at five a.m. he said he couldn't go, he couldn't get up that early. Some time later he asked me to pray for him to get a job. He got a job but he had to be at work at five a.m.! Now he gets up earlier than I do. You see money can be a stronger motivator even more so than your free will because people tend to follow their habits, their desires. Money is very important to them, more important than God, more important than Buddha. So money can push you to get up early.

Q: How can we begin to practise?
A: First we must have knowledge. Our actions are guided by our thoughts and our thoughts are based on knowledge. To practise we must read the scriptures so that our actions are guided by the right view. Suppose you are interested in learning Buddhism. First you must read Hinayana so you read the Dhammapada. This is a Hinayana text. Next you learn Mahayana through reading the Mahayana Sutras, the Diamond Sutra, the Heart Sutra. From there you come up to Vajrayana. Then you read all of those books one by one until you have a good basic knowledge of Buddhism. It is the same with other religions. Hinduism­you must read the Bhagavad Gita. If you want to be a good Christian you must read the Bible. This is our starting point. The Buddha says there are three kinds of knowledge obtained through hearing, think­ing, and practising. You get the theory by hearing a lecture or reading a book; thinking is thinking about the meaning of what you have taken in and then you begin to practise. Buddha does not emphasize practice right away. First you must read the Dharma, the sutras and books. You must have a teacher to guide you in these introductory stages so that you get the whole system. When you have a fundamental under­standing of the whole system, then you will have the right view. The right view will guide your practice. There is no need to emphasize faith. Faith comes with the right view. When you choose your right view you can say "I believe this". You have faith. Before you get faith you must read all the scriptures. It is very important to choose. Otherwise one day you will emphasize Hinduism, the next day Buddhism, the next day Islam. This is the root of confusion. This part sounds good, this is okay, this section I don't like. You can't pick and choose like this. You must decide on one complete system and follow it. Before you follow one you must choose. Then you will know what is the cause and what is the conse­quence and you must be very careful to stay with it every­day. This is much like geometry. Between two points there is only one shortest way‑‑the straight one. If you start at one point and wander around in many directions, you may never get to your destination. So you must choose one path and follow it.

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Q: How does one choose a system before one knows?
A: You first must learn every religion. In a few months you will know enough to choose. One month you take the Koran, one month the Dhammapada, one month the Bible, one month the Bhagavad Gita and so on. You read them and then choose for yourself. You cannot ask me to choose for you. I like mine and you like yours.

Q: I have heard from your talk about the first two principles, may I ask you to talk a little about the last principle of the Philosophical.
A: Yes! To save us from descending to the lower three states, we need to carefully consider the physical conditions, re­ducing our desires, sex, wine and drugs. To make us more fixed on the condition of ascending, we should increase our faith, prayer, samatha and meditations and goodness in all thoughts. To save us again from remaining with our own high‑self and to save the Gods and heavens, even including Jesus, we need to realize the truth of non‑egoism. This is neither to ascend nor descend. It has no mind, neither in equanimity nor in im­balance, has no philosophy, neither voidness nor heaviness, neither sympathy of warmth, nor indifference of coldness. You have to learn Ch'an or Mahamudra in detail! For a comparative study, I have made the following charts:

ASCEND
Principle Science Practice
LIGHTNESS (mathematical) Physical drugs (stimulants), use equipment, special Taoist medicines - body flesh transforms into wisdom light
Psychical willpower, meditation, prayer
Philosophical non-egoism, spiritualism
EQUANIMITY (geometrical) Physical balance of the body left & right
Psychical meditation in equilibrium
Philosophical non-dualism, wisdom of equality
WARMTH (chemical) Physical fire element in breathing practice, rockets (worldly)
Psychical warmth of meditation, great compassion
Philosophical wisdom fire in Tummo practice
DESCEND
Principle Science Practice
HEAVINESS (mathematical) Physical opium derivatives, depressants, the Five Deteriorations
Psychical mind full of desire, sorrow, bad Karmic habits, desire fire
Philosophical Materialism, egoism, terrorism, cruelty
DECLINE (geometrical) Physical love one own body, pursue for one own food and other materials
Psychical one-sided view, selfishness, hatred, anger
Philosophical Materialism, communism, terrorism, cruelty
COOLNESS (chemical) Physical too much discharge losing many semen, no Bodhicitta, lack of blood, friends or wife
Psychical no devotion, no sympathy, self-centralized mind, prejudice
Philosophical Atheism, non-religion, Communism, terrorism, materialism, cruelty


ASCEND
Principle Tantra Examples
LIGHTNESS Physical A bubble body of Yidam Taoist, Hwai-Nan Tse, his dog & hen, glider, lice, astronauts, balloon, firefly
Psychical Lightness in feeling Jesus, 5 Howarepa, Puwha, Yingphon, Montan, and Padmasambhava
Philosophical Voidness No Weight Milarepa & Padmasambhava achieved in Voidness Samadhi
EQUANIMITY Physical A double light body of Heruka with red & white Bodhi no death, no birth equal body like Padmasambhava
Psychical No attachment wisdom of equality, no self, no subjectivity, no objectivity
Philosophical Empty in Nature like all the Buddhas
WARMTH Physical A body of eternal light in Dharmakaya Dusom Chinpa disciple with his warm body melted the snow on the great Mountain
Psychical Samadhi of Light great compassion like Avalokiteshvara
Philosophical Non-egoism great Bodhicitta of non-conditions


DESCEND
Principle Examples
HEAVINESS Physical Human being came down from Heaven and ate the earth food and could not fly back to heaven.
Psychical Bound by all kinds of desires
Philosophical Non-liberation, non-emancipation
DECLINE Physical Eating food like turnips and eggplants will cause energy to go down
Psychical Some sleepy mind guiding you to go down
Philosophical laziness attitude
COOLNESS Physical Poisonous snakes are cool, ghosts are cool, all Eight Cool Hells.
Psychical no sympathy, no love
Philosophical Marxism, Maoism, Nihilism, Pessimism, Sadism


ASCEND
Principle Quotation Result-Goal
LIGHTNESS Physical "Where your will is ready your feet are light." Rainbow Body
Psychical "When you grasp your hands and pray, God opens his. It is our will alone that ascends." Rainbow beauty Emptiness
Philosophical "Like the caged bird we break ourselves against finite bars with wings that quiver for the infinite." Transparent Heruka body
EQUANIMITY Physical "Where there is the will there is the way." Heruka body E’wan
Psychical "The man who has the will to undergo any labor may win any goal." Equal Samadhi
Philosophical No death
No birth
Nirvana
WARMTH Physical Tummo
Psychical Five Bodhicittas
Philosophical Great compassion without condition
DESCEND
Principle Quotation Result-Goal
HEAVINESS Physical Fall into Hell and Hell body
Psychical Fall into Hell to suffer for a long time
Philosophical No faith in cause and effect
DECLINE Physical "Even the pious man sins seven times a day." Fall into animal body
Psychical "Drive out prejudice by the door and it will come in through the window." Full of hatred like a snake or tiger
Philosophical Fall into degeneration or declination
COOLNESS Physical Fall into cool Hell
Psychical Suffer in pain
Philosophical No time to think of Truth

Source

By Yogi C. M. Chen
yogichen.org