A Brief Introduction to the Official Website of Buddhist Yogi C. M. Chen


Most of Yogi Chen's works are in Chinese, hence his Homepage consists mainly of information in Chinese. To facilitate visitors who are not familiar with Chinese, this English version is provided, within which only works in English are mentioned.


A Brief Introduction of Buddhist Yogi C. M. Chen

Yogi Chen (1906-1987) learned and practiced Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism under the guidance of 37 Buddhist teachers. He traveled to Tibet and Xi Kang (Kham) to study Tantric Buddhism for five years. He practiced solitary retreat in two caves for three years in Hunan, China. He was in retreat in one room for 25 years in Kalimpong, India. In 1972 he was invited to Berkeley, California, USA, and stayed there till his Parinirvana.

For a brief but in depth autobiography of Yogi Chen, please read the Introduction to his work Buddhist Meditation.

He conducted many tantric rituals to benefit all beings and distributed freely books and booklets in English and Chinese to Buddhist organizations and individuals all over the world for over thirty years. Based on his life-long devoted practice and service, Yogi Chen attained deep spiritual accomplishments and unifies the three yanas by his insight of the theory and practice of Buddha Dharma. His works encompass teachings and practices of Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana. He provides many direct, succinct but in-depth teachings based on his own experiences.

"The Complete Works of Yogi Chen" has been edited by his disciple Dr. Lin and is authorized by Dr. Lin to be published and sold at cost by Yuan Ming Publications, Taipei, Taiwan. Currently the first 24 volumes of the whole 37 volume set are in print and they are all in Chinese. After the publishing of the first 24 volumes, Dr. Lin has stopped supporting this project because of the disappointing progress by Yuan Ming Publications. Compilation of Yogi Chen's Collected Works has been done up to 48 volumes. All works of Yogi Chen will gradually be made available on this website in the future.


A Brief Introduction of Dr. Yutang Lin

Dr. Yutang Lin is a Chinese American born in Taiwan. He received his Ph. D. in Logic and the Methodology of Science from University of California, Berkeley in 1983. He began to serve and follow Guru Chen in 1980 and remained a faithful attendant until Guru Chen's Nirvana in 1987. After he received his degree from UC a heavenly voice advised him to stay in USA so as to propagate the Dharma more widely in the long run. Continuing Guru Chen's Dharma activities he dedicated his body and mind solely to the practice, service and propagation of Dharma. Following the footsteps of Guru Chen he conducts fire pujas, offering of vases to the Dragon King, Powa service in cemeteries, releasing of lives, and gives Dharma talks upon invitation at various places in USA, Malaysia, and Taiwan. He had printed many Dharma works in Chinese and English that were written by Guru Chen or himself for free distribution. He also printed many holy images and mantra sheets for free distribution. He provides free Powa service to all requests. His works use simple language to clarify the essences of Dharma teachings, and emphasize solid practices.

You may contact him through the following E-mail addresses:
    BR Request

Dr. Lin's recent books are as follows :

  • A Golden Ring-An Introduction to Buddhist Meditation
  • Paths to the Lotus Pond
  • Singing Along the Path
  • Teachings on Avalokitesvara
  • Sadhana of Medicine Guru Buddha
  • Boundless

A Talk by the Buddhist Yogi C. M. CHEN

Written Down by
REVEREND B. KANTIPALO

First Published in 1967


NAMO TASSO BHAGAVATO
ARAHATO SAMMASAMBHUDDHASSA

IIntroduction

The sun shone down brilliantly upon the town of Kalimpong and seemed by its shining to approve the project that day begun. For this was also concerned with illumination. That is, a book not merely upon the theories of meditation, of which there are many already, but written on the practice of Buddhist sadhana. This is indeed an aspect covered much less thoroughly. In this book, the words of our Buddhist yogi, Chien-Ming Chen, have first been noted down and particular care taken to preserve something of his original expressions and peculiar style. So that nothing is missed, two persons have met him every week, one listened, that is Venerable Sanghrakshita Sthavira, and another recorded, that is the writer. The next day, the subject still being fresh in the mind, these notes were converted into a rough draft which then was given to the Ven. Sthavira for his comments. After revising as he suggested they were typed and then taken along to the next meeting with Mr. Chen. He read them carefully adding or deleting material where necessary, resulting in a final manuscript which is certainly well-checked and we hope, an accurate presentation of the Buddha’s Teachings and Mr. Chen’s practical experience of these.

And now, having told the reader something about the origin of this book, let us in mind go back to that first meeting, not indeed the first between the cooperators producing this but first specifically concerning this work. To find Mr. Chen might be difficult enough unless one knew the way. Not that he lives now in some remote mountain cave or inaccessible hermitage, but because the crowded, narrow and rather steep streets of Kalimpong diving from one level to another would confuse most in their search. To reach our yogi one descends these streets to lower and lower levels and passing through a crowded neighborhood predominantly inhabited by poor Tibetans, one comes to a row of prayer flags. In front of his hermitage is a large farm of the Agriculture Department which presents a beautiful landscape from his south window. As he says, poems already made by nature when viewed from this window have inspired him many times.

When he arrived here, before the influx of Tibetan refugees into Kalimpong, his house was quite isolated and from the lower ground of the farm grew up to the height of his window five trees used as a Bodhi-tree substitute in China. Those were foreseen by our yogi in the light of his concentration, before he came to Kalimpong. Moreover, they were exactly the height of the Buddha, that is sixteen feet according to Chinese belief. They were more than an auspicious sign for him; their deep meaning being that just as the Panca Tathagata emanate from Vajrasattva, so these five Buddha-symbols stood below his hermitage. Therefore he composed the following poem:

Half straggling town-end, half extensive farm:
Between, a hermitage we see appear.
Who ranged five trees below of Buddha’s height?
I come, yet no new work awaits me here!

And so the hermitage, so favorably situated, was called by our yogi, “The Five Leguminous Tree Hermitage.” These trees have now suffered the destroying hand of man but in their place five bamboo poles fly their printed flags of prayers. Now we are there, a few steps climbed, a back door gently tapped and there is Mr. Chen, his face round and smiling welcoming us courteously with little bows. He motions us to sit in a small room, one of the two which he rents, and kindly provides us with a little refreshment before his talk begins. On this first occasion, it was decided that an outline of his biography would be a good introduction to his explanation of practice and realization. At five o’clock we began, the sounds of a Tibetan Bhikshu’s puja in a nearby house drifts in through the window, a drum beaten, a voice lowly chanting...

Let Mr. Chen introduce his own life story:

Autobiography is based on the “I,” but in practice no “I” is found, so why should we deal with it? All that we can talk about is a certain mass passing through a period of time and being constantly identified as the same person. Though I have practiced meditation for more than twenty years, still no “I” has been discovered; while on the other hand voidness does not mean nothing. I dare not say that although I have lived in Kalimpong that any “I” has lived here and experienced all that time, for all is changing from minute to minute. Even the space of Kalimpong occupied never is the same, as our globe is always moving. I dare not say that I have been a hermit for so long since impermanence applies both to subject and object. It is really impossible to talk definitely of either.

But one lives from day to day and traces remain; life is just a continuous mass of traces with nothing that can be held to either by you or by me. But just as the Bodhisattva went to Vimalakirti and there was nothing to talk on but you have come so far and all this is at command. Under such a glorified condition of you, how could I keep in silence? In the Tibetan tradition, biographies are divided into four parts and as our time is limited, I shall try to compress an outline of everything under these four headings: Outward, Inward, Secret, and Most Secret. Mr. Chen smiled and got up from his little wicker stool to take some letters handed by a young postman through the open window. He had helped the young man, a new neighbor of his, with some money and cooking utensils. Now, leaving his letters till later, Mr. Chen sat down and resumed his tale:

A. Outward Biography

The outward biography concerns family, renunciation, and impermanence and about these I shall give a brief sketch not because it is about “I” but from gratitude, as a blessing of the Buddhas that I was born in such circumstances.

Before my birth, my mother during both day and night saw before her inner eye a large sun shining in her throat; but when a doctor was consulted, this symptom was not traced to any known disease and indeed my mother was perfectly healthy. The young Chen was born covered by an unbroken placenta and so undefiled by the mother’s blood. Nor did he cry at birth as most children do. My mother noticed in my forehead a depression between or a little above the eyes—an evil omen according to worldly astrology standards but favorable sign for Bodhisattva. After giving birth, my mother developed two extra breasts and I took milk from all four. My father joked with her that she was just like an old sow.

There were eight in the family, four girls and four boys, and I was the fourth. Even while I was young most of my brothers and sisters died and for them my mother was often crying. One day, a blind, wandering fortune-teller told my mother I too should have a short life and I overheard him say that although I was the last son yet I should die early. Seeing so much death and hearing this made me fear it very much. My mother loved me deeply because she had lost so many of her children and feared to see me die as well and still there were other troubles in our family. My father not only took a second wife but was always running after the wives of others. On women and drinking he spent the family’s money.

For these reasons I had two fears, death and poverty. So while I was young, I saw that the world was very painful and remember once after one of my parents’ frequent quarrels, that my father brought out a knife threatening to kill my mother.

Seeing so much suffering in my youth, these words now came from a heart knowing well the universality of duhkha and tears were in our yogi’s eyes.

During my young days I had the duty of looking after my old grandfather. He had a shop and very early in the morning I would get up and go some distance to open it. He became very fond of me because of my diligence but as he grew older practically everything had to be done for him when he became nearly blind, even to putting the lighted charcoal in his pipe. The old man was always coughing and spitting for he had severe consumption and, when I was ten, he died from this.

As a young prince, the Buddha-to-be saw the four great sights in the city outside his home, but I saw three of them inside my own house. The fourth, a bhikshu, I did not see at that time. I had no need to read the Hinayana books to be convinced of the first Noble Truth of Duhkha; it was my own early experience. But I could not give up the world in any case as I had still to care for my parents, for there was no one else to look after them.

B. Inward Biography

Here should begin the account of my inward biography dealing with the mental training I received under the various teachers who guided me.

At that time there were no regular schools organized in China but fortunately a rich man lived locally who could afford to employ a teacher well-versed in the Confucian books. I was able to study with him and since my memory was very flourishing then, I was always placed first out of ten boys. We finished our study of four classics and afterward I went to the new primary school opened in the town by the government. While this school taught the usual range of subjects, young Chen liked the study and recited with a teacher by the name of Mr. Lu Bo Wen, poems of ancient Luo Hong Xian. He was a young man who had risen to great official eminence through the ancient system of examinations in the Empire to become the Chief Minister. After he had attained this he found his position unhappy and wished only to renounce it together with fame and power, and go to live as a hermit in the mountains. This he did, and his poems, teaching a mixture of Taoism and Buddhism with much of his renunciation, were well known and much appreciated.

I wished very much to renounce everything and follow his example, but how could I? My mind was stirred, too, by masters at school, who said I was clever but weak and would die soon. But I was only eleven at that time and did not want to die so early. I studied very hard, sometimes getting up in the middle of the night to begin, and to overcome my sleepiness, I would smoke a village “cigarette” to wake me up. (But I did not take it up as a habit). In this way I was always first in the school.

After attending the Primary and High Schools, I went for six years to the Normal School in Changsha, the capital of Hunan. Since I had the desire to learn everything, there was little I did not put my hands to, even to playing the piano. No lights were available in my room and so for long hours during the middle night I would study in the only place where one was continually burning (the latrines). This told upon my health and though my father said I should rest, I continued to work hard, I was able in this way to graduate well and obtain a post as teacher in the High School.

A meeting of the provincial educational committee was called in order to select a secretary. There were 72 districts in the province and each sent two candidates, thus 144 altogether competed for the job; but I had the good fortune to succeed. The committee had the responsibility for maintaining the provincial library and museum. The library here was very extensive and I had the chance to read widely and to my liking were the Taoist authors. They promised many different ways of prolonging life the hope for which attracted me greatly.

The puja-drum outside had ceased its rhythmic beat, perhaps the Bhikshu was taking a draught of well-earned tea. Mr. Chen also paused before continuing while other sounds of his crowded neighbors, the cries of babies, the shouts of women and children, sharply punctuated the quietness of his hermitage. Mr. Chen has himself said that once he was in Shanghai and attended a theatrical performance by the well known artist Dr. Mei Lan Fang. While it was in progress he got a deep concentration, much better than he had obtained living in a cave. Although he has some neighbors living close to him their voices give him no trouble…. It is surely only one very well-practiced in meditation who can ignore all this.

When I had read a good many Taoist books, I went one day to one of their Divine Altars. The diviner in charge predicted that besides the mere attainment of long life, I should become immortal if I practiced their teachings. This was a turning point in my life, when my mind became less concerned with worldly things.

The library also contained the works of Venerable Tai Xu, the vigorous reformer of Chinese Buddhism and his works I read enthusiastically while knowing but little of the real meaning of Buddhism. Ven. Tai Xu’s writings were easy for the young and educated man to read as they contained a blend of the modern scientific approach with ancient wisdom.

In the province of Hunan at that time there was no lay Buddhist organization and progressively minded Upasakas desired very much that Ven. Tai Xu come to assist them in forming an association and give them also the benefits of his learning in lectures and advice. They urged me to write on their behalf to invite the Venerable one, but I did not want to do this since I knew little Buddhism. They persuaded me, however, and hesitatingly I wrote. It seems the Venerable teacher liked my letter and in his reply he gave me a Buddhist name—Fa Jian (Dharma-hero, Sovereign of the Dharma). He did me a great honor by presenting two scrolls in his calligraphy of Buddhist teaching and said that I should become his disciple. I was really converted to Buddhism by him when he came to our town a month or two later. I was privileged to work under him in the new Buddhist College of which he was the founder.

Mr. Chen has very kindly amplified a portion of his life at this stage by sending a letter in which he says:

During the period of my conversion, I began by studying the Avatamsaka Sutra. I was especially interested in the chapter of that Sutra on pure conduct. This chapter sets forth how daily life should be well accompanied by the Bodhicitta (Wisdom & Mercy heart). To give two illustrations: when we walk we should think of the sentient beings all walking on the great path of Buddhism; when we sit we should wish that all sentient beings are sitting on the Vajrasana (Diamond Seat) as well as Lord Buddha and so all attaining final enlightenment. In this way almost every action of our daily life is well accompanied by the Bodhicitta for the sentient beings.

Once I had to print a certain book, and with a concentrated mind I wrote out the whole of this chapter in good and vigorous style so that many copies might be made for presentation to others. Since then I myself have always used and followed these same gathas in my own life, well preserving the precepts of the Bodhicitta and constantly accompanied by the Bodhicitta itself. As a result of this I never cheated a person, even a little boy. In my dreams I was praised by a demon of disease, when I was cured of ringworm. He said that they feared me because I never cheated my own mind.

To return to Mr. Chen in his little room. He said at this time: In spite of my studies I was still wandering between Taoism and Buddhism. I thought that the Hinayana was very good; but it could not prolong my life and though I had taken the Buddhist Refuge (Sarana), I really broke these when I met a Taoist Guru Li Long Tian, who I knew would give me instructions on how to lengthen my life. This teacher had a face like a little boy, although he was very old, he had taken no food for twenty years. I could not believe this when I was told; but after living with him for a few days, I saw for myself that it was true. He gave instructions which I practiced and from them obtained good results.

After Ven. Tai Xu’s visit, the Buddhist Association in our capital became very flourishing. A temple was constructed for the laymen where the Pure Land tradition was followed. It was here that I read the Qi Sha edition of the Tripitaka. At that time I knew only the Hinayana and Mahayana and my practice was to take only a vegetable diet while living apart from my wife.

Mr. Chen here described how the old tradition of Vajrayana in China and which had flourished in the Tang Dynasty had quickly died out since knowledge of it was restricted by imperial order. He then went on to say that the present traditions of Vajrayana in China are all derived from Tibetan sources. After this brief explanation, Mr. Chen was kind enough to tell us something about his Vajrayana Gurus:

While I was working as secretary and teacher of the Middle school, I met a teacher of the Gelugpa tradition, Gelu Rin-po-che. His teaching in accordance with his spiritual succession laid great emphasis upon Vinaya-observance and the four foundations of practice. Since I could not accomplish these while living amongst my family, I went to live in the shrine of my teacher’s temple. In the course of two or three years, I managed to complete the first three foundations. That is, I finished ten myriad prostrations, I went for Refuge ten myriad times, made ten myriad repetitions of the hundred-syllable-mantra of Vajrasattva as a confession of evil. To do all this I used to get up at three o’clock in the morning and practice until nine when it was time for me to teach. The fourth foundation of practice I did not have time to complete in that place for it involves the offering of the Mandala also ten myriad times. In that temple I only managed one myriad Mandala-offerings and am still engaged in finishing this practice. (Of course, even when these practices are not yet complete it is usual to take up others more advanced in nature as Mr. Chen has done.) Because of the good foundations then established, there have been no obstacles for my practice later.

My teacher had heard of a great Hermit-Guru living in Jiang Xi province who followed the teachings of the ancient ones (Nyingmapa). The hermit’s name was Lola Hutuktu who, despite an official position in the Tibetan government, lived the solitary life. When Gelu-guru went to visit him, this hermit understood that although he seemed humble enough, pride was strong in his mind for he had many disciples in different parts of China. I thought he imparted some teachings to Gelu Rin-po-che. The latter, on his return, kept silent and would not pass on to us what he had received.

Seeing that I could not get further instructions from my father Gelugpa Guru, I decided to go and find Lola Hutuktu myself. This I did in spite of family difficulties. After I had left, taking with me a little money, my wife came weeping to my Gelu guru telling him of lack of money in the family but I felt worldly considerations of this sort must be put aside for the time being and that it was most important to get teaching from Ven. Lola. While I was with him, he gave me many instructions for the practice of meditation including the Atiyoga doctrines of Mahamudra and the great perfection. He could commonly tell events in the future and predicted that I would have a daughter, telling me also to live with my wife and take meat. He instructed as well that I should study Chan because its realization went very deep.

When I came back from the hermitage of Lola Hutuktu, I was doubtful on the point of how causation might also be void and how evil action contains also the truth of voidness. I took advantage of three holidays during the school’s spring vacation. For three days I confined myself in a room of my school, fasting for this time and also keeping my excrement in the room. I just meditated upon the truth. On the morning of the third day, I suddenly saw the Iron Pagoda in South India. (The Siddha Nagarjuna took out from the iron pagoda, the abode of Vajrasattva, the texts of Mahavairocana Sutra and Vajrasekhara Sutra, and received instructions from him) and at the same moment I determined that the truth is the “all is this, no else talk.” Since then I have had no doubts upon the Truth. So this is a little attainment of Right View (Samyak Drsti).

Altogether I have had four kinds of gurus of which the first is called the outward. Examples of outward gurus are my confucian and Taoist instructors. Secondly, I have had many inward gurus teaching exoteric doctrines, the first of these being the Ven. Tai Xu. With others I read the four different editions of the Tripitakas concentrating on the Mahayana works. Even when I first read the Diamond Sutra, I understood its meaning having an insight into unity of the opposites. Many of these Mahayana and Vajrayana gurus were seen by me in dreams and meditations; such are predestined teachers linked to the pupil. In total I have had thirty-seven Buddhist gurus but space does not permit me to describe them more, either their characters or their doctrines.

Mr. Chen looked up as he said this, appearing to be a little thoughtful. Now, he said, we come on to the third type of guru who gives one instruction in meditation and in dreams. They are called secret or unworldly gurus; for instance, Mahakala has given me many instructions.

Fourthly, there is the Guru of the Dharmakaya, which is the wisdom of non-guru. This guru is not a personality, but out from it I have obtained many teachings. Our yogi got up from his seat and went to a glass-fronted cupboard which was packed with books. Taking out a good pile of books, he brought them for us to see. In all there were twenty-two volumes, each page covered with closely written Chinese characters. They are examples of what the Tibetans call “Mind-Treasure,” (Dutun) that is newly discovered spiritual instructions. They contain teachings on a wide variety of subjects among which may be mentioned, Mudra, Yantra, exercises for opening Cakras, Nadis, etc., and sometimes practices are given for maintaining bodily health, as well as Charms. These latter, Mr. Chen says, he has never imparted to others.

Our yogi then told us about two of the teachings received in this way. The first concerned the initiation into meditation of the goddess Ekajata which he had received but without being given the necessary mudra. This was not described in any text, but was perceived by him in meditation. He then demonstrated it to Bhadanta Sangharaksita who was also empowered to practice this sadhana. The other mudra he showed on this occasion is one of great use in modern travel, known as the White Umbrella sign associated with the guardian deity Sitapatra Aparajita. It has been used successfully by Mr. Chen to ensure safe air passage.

C. Secret Biography

The first two sections of this biography are now complete and we come to the third division called “secret” where inspiration concerning practical renunciation are the most important points, and it is necessary to understand that we must get perfect renunciation and that our desire to practice must always be strong. I will give an example of this. When I was a teacher during the long summer vacation, I was able to practice for two months as a hermit and again for one month during the winter holidays. This I did for many years. When the time came to return to school I always wept for during my work at school there was little time for meditation. And yet I knew that I must earn money to support my aged parents and my family. So what could I do? We have many lives and therefore many parents and we should try to save them all, but in this life due to bad actions in the past I was not able to free myself from my family. Many times I tried to give up family life and be like the great Tibetan solitary Milarepa but there was nobody to support mother, father and family. Again I wanted very often to be a Bhikshu but could not leave home due to worldly obligations.

At one time when I was half awake, the Dakini of Heruka came to me and said, “Go to Si Chuan.” And so I went there, to get detailed teachings of the Vajrayana. I could only go if there was some source of income so it was fortunate that I got a chance just on the date after I heard the Dakini’s command. A secretary of General Government due to the war was evacuated there. I was promised to fill up in it. When I arrived there, he was absent for seven days. I was without money, so I used this opportunity for solitary meditation. While I meditated, the five sisters, emanations of the Buddha Amitayus, told me to go to Xi Kang but without support how could I go? When my superior returned, I asked him if he would help me, and generously he gave me about $200 in Chinese money. With this I set out for Xi Kang where on the snow mountain I received instruction from the famous Ganga Guru. I stayed with him practicing his teachings constantly until my money ran out, in all one hundred days. In a dream experienced in this place Karmapa Rin-po-che appeared to me and commanded me to come to him, but for this I would have tried to go to Dege. For funds my guardian deity Wei Tuo, in Tibet identified with Vajrapani, who will be the last of a thousand Buddhas to appear in this auspicious aeon, promised me four myriad Chinese dollars. (Mr. Chen laughed heartily at the memory saying): What and where could I do with so much money? When I left there, I counted the income and goods; the expense were equal to such a sum. I should gratefully give thanks to him. Whenever I got almsgiving, he would appear on a bank note which had been received. Before I arrived at Dege I had a vision one night of Khyentse Rin-po-che who was the teacher of young Karmapa, the king of Dharma, and I knew at once that he was an emanation of Mahakala. When we met later in Dege I told him that I knew of his spiritual eminence and rather surprised he admitted that he was practicing in the meditation of Mahakala. He asked me how I knew and after I had told him, he was very pleased and said I was truly his disciple. Ven Khyentse instructed many other Rin-po-ches but he gave to me many special teachings, other than what he imparted to them.

Before I finished this section of my life, I should like to make clear that it was necessary for me to go to Xi Kang to obtain the secret doctrines of the third initiation (dbang) which is not completely available in China. By this, one is empowered to practice the tantras requiring the participation of a female consort. These yogas have certainly been practiced by me both with my own wife and with other consorts. But I have not gone into detail of them out of respect for the position of the two Bhikshus present. Bhikshus being celibate members of the sangha only practice the third initiation of the Tantras if at all as interior practice, never of course using an external consort.

From this period I gathered numerous empowerments and other instructions from seven different schools of the Tantra in Tibet: Gelugpa, Nyingmapa, Kargyupa, Shangpa, Jonangpa (Kalacakra), Drukpa (Kargyupa branch) and Sakyapa. The practices have their corresponding texts which may only be read and learned by those empowered for the meditation which they described. Naturally such books are never published, as their contents are only meaningful after the proper instruction has been given.

It is also worth noting that many of the teachers, of whom I was a pupil, were not famous or those with established reputations (though some were). The majority were little known often living in remote wild places with very few disciples, if any at all. Some were not Tulkus (Emanate Lamas) but might by their own efforts in this life found a spiritual line. Very often the deepest teaching are found among such sorts of Gurus.

After staying in seclusion for this period, my gurus asked me to return to my own province to rescue my family from the Second World War. So I went, after I settled my family in a safe country, I lived in a cave for two years just before I came to India. Before I returned, I met my friend Garma C. C. Chang, who asked me what we should do, I told him, “Go to India.” But he said, “Why go there? Buddhism is finished in India.” “Although Buddhism has gone, still the holy places are there,” I replied. I foretold that he and I would go, and it turned out that in spite of his disbelief, he did go to India on some government work. A rich patron of mine, Mr. Huang, wished to go to India on a pilgrimage and suggested that we should go together. This we did in 1947, myself, aided by the generous Mr. Huang, made the pilgrimage to all the holy places. My kind patron returned when all this was completed, but I stayed to meditate for at least one week in each place to find out what would be a most suitable place for my practice. Finally Mr. Chang helped me to stay in India and so I came to this hermitage in Kalimpong.

D. Most Secret Biography

This fourth section of biography, entitled “Most Secret,” deals with Realization. Under this we may consider certain divisions which are very broadly related to the three yanas of Buddhism.

a) The Attainment of Cause

In this section, renunciation is most important, a fact repeatedly taught in the Hinayana. In my life, there have been many times when I have practiced this; to give a few examples. Many times have I been tempted by higher positions and more money, as when I was secretary to the Educational Committee of Hunan province there was the chance of a good post as professor of classical Chinese with many students and much money but I renounced this. During my practice of the four foundations of Tantra, a post as secretary to a high government official was offered to me but for this I should have to be constantly on duty near the office telephone, and so I could not sleep and practice in the shrine. This offer I therefore declined. Again, Ven. Tai Xu said that I must go to his new Buddhist College and there teach the student monks and laymen; so being my guru I had to obey him. So I went, leaving my teaching job in Hunan to earn the small wage of College in Si Chuan and all that it could give. Then after some time, I thought it was enough of this professor’s life, which is all giving. I then decided to be disciple and gain something, so this I renounced and went to study in Xi Kang.

Here besides the studies, I was so fortunate as to be able to read four editions of the Tripitakas, while progressing with other studies of Vajrayana philosophy and Chan. Through giving up, one only gains, and through the help of Wei Tuo I never hungered.

b) The Attainment of Tao (The Path or Course)

This has certain steps for which I have composed the following Chain of Similes. At this stage, where Mahayana teachings are used, the realization of impermanence of all things is most necessary. It follows that we are able to understand this when our renunciation is well developed, when we no longer cling to things, but recognize transient nature. The realization of this is as precious as money; our money is time, which even poor men have. We must make good use of the precious money of time and not waste it. The steps of our path-attained are then:

i) to have the necessary money comes from the idea of impermanence
ii) to buy with it the land of renunciation
iii) which should be walled about with Vianaya-observance
iv) when we can safely sow the seed of Bodhicitta
v) to be irrigated with the water of compassion
vi) and richly manured by meditation
vii) giving the blooming of the wisdom-flower
viii) and the ripening of the Buddha-fruit

So that this might all be accomplished I have practiced all of Milarepa’s three kinds of hermit life, even a fourth one which he did not mention. For eighteen years, including the period of my residence in Kalimpong, I have lived upon mountains and previously spent some months dwelling among graves. The third kind mentioned is in caves where I have meditated for two years. My own and rather unique kind of hermit-life was experience of spiritual practice while taking a ten-day boat journey on a Chinese river.

c) The Attainment of Consequence: a Certainty of Enlightenment

By the practice of Pure Land doctrines I have clearly seen in my meditations the large silver lotus of one thousand petals which awaits me in Sukhavati. From practicing Chan, I have gained many experiences of Truth through meditations. Please see my work of Chan: “Lighthouse in the Ocean of Chan.” In the six kinds of Tantra, I have had at least the low class of attainment. Which should be kept in secret as the commandment said. However there is no claim here to Full Enlightenment and the world also has no need of me at present. To this let me give a little poem:

A little rain in a deep dark night,
A little rock for a fishing jetty,
A little lamp on the half cold boat,
A little fish comes into the net.

I am very regretful I have not completed what I imagined the four conditions of an ideal Buddhist.

Outwardly we must appear poor and be content with little.
Inwardly, flourishes the Bodhicitta.
Secretly, we must have a lot of great joy, in third initiation.
And Most Secretly, the Chan Liberated attitude.

As I have already said, there is no “I” glorified here. These four points above are also related to the sections of this biography: the first is the grace of my parents but not of myself. The second is the grace of my Gurus. The third is that of the protectors and patrons, and the last one is the Blessing of the Buddha—there is nothing here of myself.

To sum up all the above four sections: All are belonging to the outward one of my biography which may be a little introduction to our new readers. The real inward one should be a talk on my inspiration from practice of the two yanas. The real Secret one should be about the practical experiences from the third initiation of Vajrayana. The real Most Secret one should describe the practice of Mahamudra, Maha-perfection and Chan. There will be an introduction to the old readers which I will write after I get a little more realization.

Our time was over, for it was now quite dark outside. We had heard a spiritual history, not a mere biography, and how much for reasons of brevity remained unsaid? The whole story is one of gradual unfolding, of slow but sure building, from the teachings early given by his Confucian Master, through the Taoist phase of search for Immortality or at least long life, to interest in the Buddha’s Mahayana preachings as taught by the Venerable Tai Xu, onward to the foundation of practice laid down under the Gelu Guru. Then, rising to even greater spiritual height in the practice of the various degrees of Tantra and the experience of Chan. Despite such achievements, rare enough in our age, here was Mr. Chen who had related all this without boasting or any trace of owning these attainments, here he was with little bows and a flashing torch showing us down the steps which he never treads, while saying again and again, “Thank you, thank you…”


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