- 1. Why learn and practice Buddhism?
To become enlightened so that you can escape the suffering of human existence and reincarnation.
- 2. What is Buddhism? Is it a religion?
Buddhism is not really a religion. There is no dogma or creed, nor is there any worshipping of divinities as such, but as you see in our homes, dharma centers and temples, we do honor and show extreme respect and devotion to the Bodhisattvas and Buddhas who teach us the dharma or the way to liberation. Buddhism is really a system for developing true compassion and ultimate wisdom, obtaining supernatural powers, and the means to eliminate the suffering of sickness, old age, and death. What we are talking about when we refer to Buddhism are the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, an Indian prince who left his life of pleasure and riches to find the truth of the universe and solve the riddle of life and death. Buddhism was not founded by Shakyamuni Buddha. Instead, it was expounded by Him in this world so we follow Him as the leader of what became known as Buddhism. Buddhism had existed in this world before Prince Gautama became Shakyamuni Buddha over 2,500 years ago. The truth discovered by the Buddha already existed in this universe. It did not begin when He was born or end when He left. It is similar to the fact that this world had been here before mountains and rivers were formed. It is wrong to say that Buddhism was invented by the Buddha. That is not true. The truth does not need to be invented. It is a true existing principle and was discovered by the Buddha. It is very much like what has happened in science. The true principles of science exist in the universe and were discovered and developed by scientists like Newton and Einstein step by step. It is the same notion. There had been numerous ancient Buddhas who came to this world and planted the causes of the dharma before the Buddha was here. Maitreya Bodhisattva will be the next Buddha—the fifth one in our world system. There will be 995 more.
- 3. Do Buddhist believe in God?
Yes. In fact, Buddhist believe that there are many gods or devas in the various heavens. Buddhists, however, do not believe in any creator god of divine presence that created or directs the operations of the universe, but rather they believe in the Laws of Cause and Effect whereby everything that happens is the result of a corresponding cause that may have happened in this or previous lives and something–through practicing the teachings of the Buddha, they can control. The illusory world that we experience is the collective effect of previous collective actions. Although the effects of karma are fixed, we can, by our self cultivation, push the negative karma back by accumulating more positive karma. Only by becoming liberated from the cycle of birth and death can we escape karma completely. This is the goal of Buddhism.
- 4. Do Buddhist then believe in heaven?
Yes, but not in the same way as other religions. In Buddhism we do not hold “going to Heaven” as the highest ideal because the heavens are still part of the mundane world. It is true if you lead a good life and do not do evil things you can reincarnate in these very pleasurable higher levels of existence. However, they are not eternal either and also subject to impermanence, although they may exist for a very, very long time—like billions of years. You can go to these places if you have very good karma but when you have used up your good karma, you must go to the lower realms to pay back your evil karma. It is what is called the cycle of reincarnation or rebirth. The lower realms mean the various hells or life as a hungry ghost or craving spirit or even as an animal. Click for more information on the various realms. Enlightenment is obtaining the wisdom to be able to escape this cycle all together. This is what we call “liberation” and this is the goal of our practice. But precisely because the Buddha realized in His enlightenment that the underlying principle of this wisdom is bodhichitta as expressed in loving kindness, compassion, and unlimited generosity, we seek liberation for all living beings, not just ourselves.
- 5. What are the Five Vidyas?
Venerable Akou Lamo Rinpoche states it very clearly: “Everything in the universe can be classified into five aspects of brightness and darkness. To develop everything that is good in the universe and that benefits living beings is classified as ‘bright.’ That which confuses and is evil is classified as ‘dark.’ This is the real meaning of the Five Vidyas of which the Buddha spoke.” In essence, the Five Vidays of the silpakarmasthanavidya (craftsmanship vidya), the cikitsvidya (healing vidya), the sabdavidya (sound vidya), the hetuvidya (causality or Buddhist logic vidya), and the adhyatmavidya (inner realization vidya) are what Buddhas and Bodhisattvas do to help living beings. Click here for more information.
- 6. Who is your leader or master?
Our master, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, is the incarnation of the primordial buddha, Dorje Chang Buddha, and the highest, supreme leader of both exoteric and esoteric Buddhism in the world today. Our Master is now living in the United States but He came here from Sichuan Province in China. Sichuan Province includes part of what was known as the Kham Region of eastern Tibet. Many of the modern Buddhist saints and great masters came from that mystic land of snow-capped mountains including the past heads of the Nyingma sect, H.H. Khyentse Rinpoche and H.H. Penor Rinpoche. The Bodhimanda (seat of enlightenment) of Guru Padmasambhava is also located there at Kathok Monastery. That monastery has over 100,000 recorded incidents of people achieving the rainbow body whereby one only leaves rainbows and one’s clothing and maybe one’s hair and nails when one leaves this world. Christian scholars have been interested in this phenomena as some think this may explain the transcendence of Jesus.
- 7. What is a buddha?
Shakyamuni Buddha and Dorje Chang Buddha are not the only buddhas. There are innumerable buddhas. A buddha is someone who has awaken to his/her full potential as a living being. They are awake to who they really are and have complete and total wisdom, understanding the universal law that underpins the operations of the universe and as such have unlimited supernatural powers and the ability to transform into various forms to help living beings in their quest toward buddhahood. All of us have the potential to become buddhas and eventually will become buddhas. Although there were many buddhas before Shakyamuni Buddha, in this world, it was Shakyamuni Buddha who developed Buddhism to its current level.
- 8. Who is Dorje Chang Buddha?
Dorje Chang Buddha or Buddha Vajradhara is the ancient buddha in charge of all esoteric and exoteric Buddhism and is often portrayed as the blue sambhogakaya emanation of the Adharma Buddha, with arms crossed holding a dorje (vajra) in each hand and wearing the jewels and elaborate silk garments of a samboghakaya being. He is the master and the teacher of all buddhas, including Shakyamuni Buddha.
- 9. Who is the Adharma Buddha?
The Adharma or Adi Buddha is the primordial Buddha, sometimes identified as Samantabhadra Buddha or Kuntuzangpo in Tibet, and the embodiment of enlightenment (“bodhi”) or ultimate reality (“dharmakaya”). Although the Adharma Buddha has no form, this unchanging, all pervasive entity is often shown symbolically as a red sun on top of a yellow crescent moon or as a naked blue buddha. Since the Dharmakaya Buddha has no form, He cannot speak or save living beings.
Go to FAQ on Xuanfa Institute website for answers to additional frequently asked questions.