Na Mo Emituofo!
Most venerated Master!
I am a Buddhist disciple residing in Vietnam. Because of family obligations, I have not been able to leave the home life. Twenty-two years ago, I took refuge with Meditation Master Thích Thanh Từ but have not done much to be called a meditation student. I feel ashamed because I have not been able to follow my teacher’s teachings and doctrines.
In my village, there is no temple affiliated with my Vietnamese meditation master. Therefore, I have not been able to ask questions or receive instruction! As a result, I feel that I am unable to follow his meditation techniques when I cannot receive guidance. Therefore, I decided to recite the Buddha’s name, and practice bow Repentances (The Ten Thousand Buddhas Repentance). I recite the Great Compassion Mantra, Shurangama Mantra…. and listen to Great Master Xuan Hua. That is because I revere the Great Master’s vows and his conduct and feel great affinity with his Dharma.
Ven. Master, if I take refuge with Great Master Xuan Hua by myself and resolve to cultivate according to his teachings, would that be betrayal of my original teacher? If it’s possible, how should I go about it? Will you provide guidance, introduce me to Good Knowing Advisers, lay people who are practicing his Dharma so that I can be even more vigorous and blissful!
Na Mo Bliss Treasury Bodhisattva Mahasattva!
I am teaching in school and I have two underage children. I realize that they are my karmic debt and that I must try to repay them. Although I am not a left home person, I have been mindful of the temple for many years. Would it be too greedy to consider leaving the home life; is it upside-down thinking? Please kindly instruct me!
(I often listen to the Great Master’s Dharma sounds but have no co-cultivators and therefore I often think of the City of Ten Thousand Buddhas, and I pray that someone would teach me so that I do it right!)
I am answering this even though it should directed to the CTTB. Perhaps someday they’ll have some kind of Q&A so that they can properly respond to these kinds of queries and then we will not have to do so. But since they do not have a way to respond, I’ll try to answer the best I can.
You are doing just fine.
You only have to take refuge once with the Triple Jewel. Afterward, you are free to cultivate any Dharma Door that works for you.
Since you have been practicing Great Master Xuan Hua’s Dharma, you are already under his protection and guidance. That is how you got to us, so that we could provide further clarification for your cultivation.
I am afraid I cannot refer you to any Good Knowing Adviser in Vietnam. Great Master Xuan Hua’s competent left home disciples are American. It’ll be quite a while before their teachings will become available in Vietnamese. You should not look at any lay person as your teacher or mentor unless it is sanctioned by Great Master Xuan Hua. Therefore, your best bet is to continue cultivating as you have been. I feel that you should also read all the Great Master’s teachings in addition to listening to his Dharma sounds. When you have some free time, you should also read my teachings, particularly my explanations of the Bequeathed Teachings Sutra because it has clear instructions for self-cultivators.
I sympathize with your decision to practice meditation without guidance. Since you have been vigorously cultivating by yourself, I feel that you should read my Chan Handbook: the Learner’s Guide to Meditation, because it will build a more solid foundation for your practice. Afterward, when you have further questions about cultivation, please ask again. The Vietnamese version should be available on CreateSpace within a month (in November 2012) because we are going through the final proofing phase.
Continue to repay your debts. You can always leave the home life after your children are grown. Personally, I feel that leaving the home life is not as important as being able to cultivate the Proper Dharma that can help you attain liberation. Although you are not able to leave the home life, you have already found the Proper Dharma. You are already way ahead.
Please keep up the good work.