Master Lu: Buddhism In Plain Terms (Book)

Master Lu | Buddhism in Plain Terms | Volume 3 Chapter 3 | Discussing Visualisation with Right Intention

05/06/2024 |    

Many people ask, “Master, what does visualisation mean?” Visualisation involves thinking while using your eyes to see. As you know, “to observe” means using your eyes to see, and “to think” means using your mind. So, “visualisation” means constantly observing and constantly thinking. What should you think about? It’s not about thinking of yourself, how to get rich, or how to live a good life, but about thinking of Guan Yin Bodhisattva. Regular observation and thinking are crucial for developing the ability to visualise. What does developing the ability to visualise mean? It means cultivating the habit of thinking about Guan Yin Bodhisattva whenever possible, turning it into a skill. For me, as soon as I think of Guan Yin Bodhisattva, she appears before my eyes. This ability has been developed through practice. I hope you will practise visualisation frequently.

Under the blessings of Guan Yin Bodhisattva, my abilities have grown significantly. Many people, when grabbed by ghosts in their dreams, call out “Master Lu, save me,” and they wake up immediately. I have heard about many such cases during my radio program. But you shouldn’t visualise me; you should visualise yourselves. What does visualising yourself mean? It means visualising your Dharma Body. Do you know what your Dharma Body is? It is the body of a Bodhisattva. Everyone has their own Dharma Body, which is very important. Look in the mirror and ask, “Is this me? Is this who I am? Am I really like this?” Then look in the mirror and think, “I am a Bodhisattva.” After that, stop looking in the mirror and use your inner eye to see your Dharma Body—“I am a Bodhisattva.” Over time, you will see many Dharma Protectors around you.

What I am teaching you today are methods, and this approach is also true for meditation. You need to reflect that the Bodhisattva you believe in and see now is real. When you focus on the statue of Guan Yin Bodhisattva, don’t you see the light around it? Including the large halo behind the mountain, can you see it? There’s a large circle of light on the mountain. Even if your physical eyes can’t see it, you need to use your inner eye to say, “I see it.” I am teaching you this method right here. Do you see it? Does the halo move? Yes, it moves. Then you have seen the Bodhisattva. This is about faith – “I must believe in you to receive these things.” You need to think that the halo of the Bodhisattva will move – I believe that the Bodhisattva is real – and then imagine the Bodhisattva above your head. Remember, as ordinary people with physical bodies, we should not imagine the Bodhisattva merging directly with our bodies, because we are impure. Do you understand? Only a very pure person can completely merge with the Bodhisattva’s image. But for most of you, with minds filled with greed, anger, and delusion, don’t try to merge the Bodhisattva’s image with your body. Just think of the Bodhisattva above your head.

You often hear people talking about “cursing”, which in metaphysics should be called “lowering a spell,” referring to something that comes down. When something descends onto your head, it causes trouble. However, if you visualise the Bodhisattva on your head, that is something real. If it’s something that others cast onto you, then that’s a spell. Do you understand? Remember, when someone tries to place something on your head, it means trouble is already brewing. But if you cultivate the image of the Bodhisattva on your head, it is real and can ward off these negative spells, causing them to dissipate.

As long as there is a Buddha above your head, misfortunes will not befall you. If you think this way, misfortunes will not descend upon you. Do you understand? Because “misfortune” and “calamity” are inherently negative. Is it good if misfortune befalls you? Is it good if calamity strikes you? Combined, they spell disaster. So, you should think, “Misfortune and calamity, stay away from me. Because I am pure, misfortunes will not come to me.” Do you understand? You need to imagine that you are a Bodhisattva. Even though the Bodhisattva is above your head, you should imagine that you are the Bodhisattva. And imagine that you are surrounded by many Bodhisattvas and Dharma Protectors. Of course, it’s best to visualise this during the day, not at night. You can also do this at the Guan Yin Citta Practice Centre; I’m not sure about other places. If you are in any temple or nunnery where Bodhisattvas are present, you can visualise; however, if no Bodhisattvas are there, you might get into trouble. Sometimes the type of entity you pray to might influence the outcomes you experience.

Keep observing your own Dharma Body. Let me roughly explain: you can start by looking at your very kind image in the mirror, and then slowly imagine your face, and then the Guan Yin Bodhisattva on your head. Gradually, stop thinking about your own face and focus on your Dharma Body, envisioning your Dharma appearance as dignified. Everyone’s face can appear dignified. Even a playful face can become solemn. When a person becomes serious, this is called their Dharma appearance. When a person is acting crazy or laughing foolishly, they are not their true self. When a person has their Dharma appearance, they don’t smile and look very solemn. Look at the Bodhisattva—her eyes are 30% open and 70% closed—this is how the Bodhisattva views the world. We call it viewing the world with compassionate eyes because this world is truly pitiable.

What is the goal of observing your Dharma appearance as taught earlier? It is to make you invulnerable to all evils. There are many evils around us. For example, in our daily lives, if someone wants to deceive you, they will first try to make you happy by telling jokes, paying for your meals, and giving you gifts to lower your guard. Once your guard is down, they can deceive you. This is a common tactic. They make you laugh and feel happy, then use smooth talk to manipulate you. But if you maintain your Dharma appearance, no matter how they try to deceive you, see if you fall for it. This is what you need to maintain, what is commonly known as “dignity” in this world. Your Dharma appearance is your Dharma Body. If you don’t want to be deceived, you must first appear dignified so others won’t dare deceive you. If you act crazy and confused, people will take advantage of you. Con artists always assess if a person is easy to deceive. So, maintaining your Dharma appearance is crucial, understand? If a person’s Dharma appearance is not dignified, they will give others the impression that they are easily deceived. If a woman does not smile often and appears dignified, people will not dare to deceive her.

When you visualise, you may begin to see images, including your own image and the Bodhisattva above your head. As you continue to visualise, these images will become clearer. For instance, if you see Guan Yin Bodhisattva, many people will be delighted: “Oh, I saw Guan Yin Bodhisattva!” Right? Many of our Buddhist friends share that, “When I close my eyes, I see the Bodhisattva,” while they recite Buddhist scriptures. But what if the Bodhisattva you see is not actually Guan Yin Bodhisattva, but a demon in disguise? How will you discern this? If these scenes appear before you but it’s not the real Bodhisattva, like many people hearing voices saying, “I am Guan Yin Bodhisattva, do as I say,” would you believe it?

You need to rely on two methods. The first method is to rely on your Master. What is the Master for? In fact, the Master’s Dharma name is very important. You can call me by my Dharma name. If you have formally taken me as your Master, calling my name immediately signals to the Heavens and the Underworld that you are my disciple. If you haven’t formally become my disciple, then calling me “Master” becomes a term of respect. You can give it a try. I have an important message for you: if you see Guan Yin Bodhisattva and want to know if it’s really the Bodhisattva, call my name and see if the figure disappears. If the “Guan Yin Bodhisattva” disappears, it’s not the real one; if the Guan Yin Bodhisattva remains, it’s real. Since you are learning the Guan Yin Citta Dharma Door taught by me, which is passed down by Guan Yin Bodhisattva, the real Guan Yin Bodhisattva will not leave. So, this is the first method I share with you. Understand?

The second method is to use your right intention. Right intention is essentially right wisdom. Use wisdom to discern what is being said to you. For example, a Buddhist friend named Michael once heard a voice in his ear saying, “I am so-and-so.” Many Buddhist friends also tell me, “Guan Yin Bodhisattva spoke to me.” So I would ask, “What did Guan Yin Bodhisattva say to you?” One person told me that Guan Yin Bodhisattva instructed him to go downstairs and play, saying there were many people and it would be fun. Do you have the wisdom to discern this message? When you hear this, do you really think it’s Guan Yin Bodhisattva? If you naively believe it and are controlled by it, you might actually jump out of a window. This is why many people who engage in spiritual practice end up becoming possessed—because they don’t know what is true Buddha-dharma and what is fake. This is why I often say superstition is not right faith.

In reality, Buddhism should not be approached with superstition. Buddhism is a right faith; it truly educates and helps people. A Dharma Master once advocated that Buddhism is education, and this makes sense. Remember, good things always have an educational component. To make someone better, don’t they need education? To heal your soul’s wounds, don’t you need education? When a child makes a mistake and is confused, shouldn’t I educate them while helping them return to their true nature? In fact, religion can also be called education and is a remedy for the soul. Many people say, “Master Lu, you’re more effective than a psychologist.” They say this because when someone who wants to commit suicide or a cancer patient in despair comes to see me, they are in great pain, but after talking with me for half an hour or an hour, they leave my office happy. This is because everyone has a special energy within them, which is actually the primary soul of the Bodhisattva. I can activate this primary soul, enabling them to resist their physical and mental ailments, and let go of all the defiled and negative things. If any of you can do this, you are a Bodhisattva.

I mentioned earlier using wisdom to discern the authenticity of an image you see. If this image instructs you to harm your physical body, don’t do anything unreasonable. When Michael heard that spirit telling him, “Don’t stand up,” he kept squatting, holding his stomach in pain. In my office, Michael said something, and I immediately knew it wasn’t him speaking. I used my mind to communicate with that spirit, saying, “Stop tormenting him. Leave him. Forgive him for what he did wrong. I will ask him to recite Buddhist scriptures to help you ascend to a higher spiritual realm.” Immediately, Michael said, “Master Lu, he says it’s not that simple. He will never leave me.” Michael’s friend was also there at the time. I encourage you to believe in these matters.

Next, let me explain what to do if this image tells you to do something. If it aligns with moral principles, then go ahead and do it, because Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will never instruct you to do anything unreasonable. If it tells you to do something bad, it’s definitely not a Bodhisattva. It’s crucial to use wisdom to resist such things. Additionally, you should visualize yourself being in harmony with the Bodhisattva. What is a good method for this visualization? In fact, this is when you are chanting mantras. Simply put, chanting mantras means reciting Buddhist scriptures. When you recite, your mind is aligned with that of the Bodhisattva. When your mind is in sync with the Bodhisattva and you are reciting, your mind will naturally calm down and you will enter into meditative concentration. After your mind enters into meditative concentration, all thoughts will disappear, and your mind will be empty. Let me ask you: within this state of meditative concentration, is there thought? After reaching meditative concentration, are there any thoughts in your mind? The emptiness of the mind is actually a temporary (false) state of emptiness. When you cultivate to the point where your mind is completely empty, do you still have thoughts outwardly? Actually, there are still thoughts.

The thoughts that arise after your mind enters into meditative concentration are different from those that arise when your mind is unsettled. For example, a mother always knows what her child wants to do. Does she need to communicate directly with the child? The mother will definitely know what the child wants, but the child will not know what the mother wants to do, right? The best approach is not to think. But after you stop thinking, are there still thoughts? There are no more deliberate thoughts. But are there still mental activities? Yes, there are. This is called having thoughts without consciously thinking. Many people try not to think and let thoughts arise naturally, which are then called mental activities. For instance, many of you try to meditate and seek quietness without thinking of anything. But as soon as you start meditating, even though you try not to think, your mind says, “Don’t think, empty, empty, empty,” and yet thoughts keep popping up one after another.