How to Remove Habitual Tendencies (Part 1)

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Vajra Master Lian Tzi
(Translated by Lian Hua Zhi Wei, Edited by TBTI)

Some Dharma brothers and sisters have asked, “why can’t we go to the Maha Double Lotus Ponds?” The answer is simple. It is because we have habitual tendencies. What are these tendencies? They are none other than greed, hatred, ignorance, doubts, arrogance, envy, etc. As long as we cannot remove these habitual tendencies, we will remain as mundane people.

How can we remove these habitual tendencies of greed, hatred, ignorance, doubts, arrogance, envy, etc? Grandmaster Lu has detailed them in his books. The first tendency to treat is greed. All people have greed, but Grandmaster Lu has said that greedy people can become buddha too. So, we can see that greed has some advantages. At the same time, we cannot be insatiable in our greed to the point that we harm other people.

There are three methods to treat greed. One is Hinayana’s contemplation on the uncleanliness of the human body of self and others; or the skull meditation. Transform those things that you have grasping and greed for as repulsively defiled. If you are attached to physical beauty, you should visualize the beautiful girl as a pile of skeletal bones. Hence, one will not be mesmerized by her charm. By cultivating meditation on uncleanliness or skull meditation, you also will be less likely to covet other people’s possessions or companions. Another practice is equanimity meditation – visualize all sentient beings as being equal to us. Since you see other living beings as equal and as important as your self, you will respect all living beings. You will treat others as you would treat yourself. With equanimity meditation, it will be easy for you to think with other people’s interests in mind. If you like something, you would realize other people will like it as well, and then you will not fight over it.

Another method is Vajrayana’s “regain purity practice.” This practice returns your heart back to its original pristine state, when the cultivator has strong feeling of greed, you should apply emptiness meditation, transforming the object of your affection into emptiness. By performing this kind of visualization, you will not commit acts such as robbery, theft, fraud, etc. Your heart will gradually become peaceful and regain the purity of your original buddha nature.

With respect to treating hatred, Mahayana utilizes the four boundless heart states of loving-kindness, compassion, joy, and equanimity. Hinayana utilizes the emptiness method of no-other, no-self, both yourself and others are empty of inherent existence, hence you will not generate hatred. Vajrayana uses emptiness nature to dissolve hatred. This methodology uses service to others, compassion and emptiness nature.

When Vajra protectors deliver sentient beings, they will demonstrate their special characteristic. They are the combination of compassion and emptiness nature. Although Vajra protectors display wrathful appearances, they nevertheless have been deeply respected and honoured for thousands of years. This demonstrates their wrathful display is reasoned. This is because their wrathful display originates from their compassion. They have compassion for sentient beings’ plight and cannot endure sentient beings becoming corrupt. That is why they display their wrathful form to awaken sentient beings through shock.

On the other hand, those who display wrathful appearances, without compassion as motivation, are malevolent. This is to harm others. The wrath of compassion is insufficient. There must also be the nature of emptiness. This is to say, karmic hindrance is not generated only through skillfully combining the wrath of compassion and emptiness nature. Only then, one will not view the subject of the wrath as enemy. Instead, it is a compassionate skillful display of wrathful appearance to teach and instruct the subject. These are the requirements to being a Vajra protector.

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