|Meditation Worldly Sound Vs. Supra-worldly Sound|
Worldly Sound Vs. Supra-worldly Sound
by Supreme Master Ching Hai
Let us first talk about the ordinary sound in this world, and then we will talk about the supra-worldly sound — the sound of God. Since ancient times, music has played an important role in our lives. It would be difficult to imagine how frustrating life would be without music in this world. Classical music is more mild and gentle; it makes the listeners feel happier, more peaceful and benign. That’s why there used to be many noble and benevolent people in ancient times. Modern music is more stimulating. People who have been exposed to this kind of music since childhood are very difficult to teach. Such music represents the personality and demeanor of contemporary people. In mental institutions, doctors often let the patients listen to soft music to calm their emotions. When we are bored or exhausted from work, listening to music will slowly pacify our minds.
Everything in the Universe Vibrates
Everything in the universe vibrates, and this vibration becomes sound. This is similar to the vibrating waves transmitted by radio stations, which, when picked up by a radio receiver, are converted into sound. All things in the universe, whether stone, plant or human, vibrate at their own specific frequency. It is precisely because of this difference in frequency that it is difficult for animals and humans, humans and humans, and even husband and wife, to communicate with each other.
The vibrations of some people are coarse, and this makes us feel very uncomfortable when we come into contact with them. Conversely, some people are very gentle in vibration, speech, and aura and we feel very comfortable and happy upon seeing them. We feel very happy when we go to a place where the vibrations are close to ours. When a person with a bad aura enters a certain place, he will immediately make people feel very agitated and restless. It is because his vibrations are low and heavy, or we can say that he is very vicious, has heavy karma and lots of devilish hindrances. He is excessively heavy in Yin (negative) energy while we are more inclined to the Yang (positive) energy, and so we become incompatible. As a result, we feel agitated and restless.
Not all places on this planet vibrate at the same frequency. All kinds of metal ores of different densities are distributed around the world. Therefore, there are many places where non-spiritual practitioners find it uncomfortable to dwell. However, to real spiritual practitioners, every place is a Pure Land, everywhere is the Holy Land. But it is easier said than done. How many people can really attain such a level? This disharmonious atmosphere is discernible even to the average person who does not practice spiritually, with the exception of a few very ignorant people and those who are as insensitive as timber. The more advanced one is in spiritual practice, the more sensitive one becomes, but when he eventually attains the highest level, every place will be the same to him.
Whomever we are with, we are affected by his vibrations. If his aura is very gentle, we too will become gentler. If they are excited, we will also become excited. We often hear that the Saints shoulder the karma of the people because They can take upon Themselves the bad influences or vibrations generated by others, which is the so-called karma, and give them Their superior vibrations in exchange. Relying on Their power derived from spiritual practice, They can quickly cleanse the karma. The length of time required depends on how much karma They have collected. Before They can cleanse this karma, They will still be affected. They could get ill, be defamed, or even killed.
One such example was Jesus Christ, who was crucified because He took upon Himself the karma of sentient beings. As for Shakyamuni Buddha, we might not have heard any story about Him bearing karma for people, but it was so recorded in the scripture. A man killed ninety-nine persons and was about to kill the Buddha too. He failed to do so; instead, he was delivered by the Buddha. This man eventually became an arhat (liberated saint). If the Buddha did not shoulder the karma for the man, what happened to the karma that he had incurred by killing ninety-nine persons? He killed so many people and yet he became a Saint! Was it not against the law of karma? It was not, because the Shakyamuni Buddha had immense merits and infinite blessed rewards, which were sufficient to repay all the karma for that man without any problem. That man was not exempted from karmic retribution; Shakyamuni Buddha had assumed his karma.
This is why since ancient times, anyone who aspires to be liberated must first find such great Masters. Being a novice in spiritual practice, it is very difficult to repay so much karma just relying on our own power. Those great Masters have accumulated great blessings through spiritual practice over many lifetimes. While guiding us on the path, They can also carry the luggage for us because They have sufficient power. Humans have human power, and spiritual practitioners have spiritual power. This power might be indiscernible to us but it is so infinite that no physical power can compare. You have heard that your five generations will be elevated after you are initiated by me. It is this spiritual power that pulls them all up. Therefore, this power derived from spiritual practice is most precious; it cannot be bought at any price or taken away by even the greatest authority.
Sometimes, when I go to lecture at a certain place, I feel very relaxed and can speak fluently. At other times, I may feel oppressed; I feel very tired and cannot speak. The same happens when I give initiation to people. Sometimes, it goes smoothly without any problem. At other times, I feel like I am dying. It is due to the different vibrations of the people who come to the lecture or initiation. Their individual vibrations are the so-called karma. What actually creates these different vibrations? They are created according to the law of karma, and are related to the karma that we have incurred in previous lives.
Originally, we are all enlightened Saints. Jesus Christ also said that we are all the children of God. Then why are some people so rich, some so poor, some so clever, some so dumb, some so benign, and some so evil? The first reason is that, although we are originally enlightened Saints, we are degrading all the time while in this illusionary world and so forget most of our wisdom. The second reason is that we are being influenced by outside situations.
Tangible and Intangible Worlds
This world is different from the higher dimensions. The superior realms will help us progress spiritually, becoming more relaxed and noble. However, the situations in this world can easily make us regress and become more foolish and evil. In the paradise in Heaven, we will have whatever we want without the least suffering, while in this world we must struggle against nature in order to survive. Even Shakyamuni Buddha had to beg for food or use the things in this world to survive. This is a tangible world with forms, and there are discriminations. There are such things as cold and heat, beauty and ugliness, man and woman. This world is different from the paradise in Heaven, which is an intangible world with no form or discrimination.
Therefore, when we come into this world, we become outwardly inclined sentient beings. When we see food, we have thoughts about eating it; when we see anything, thoughts of like or dislike arise. Since our mind is constantly occupied by things that we like, we forget our great wisdom. On and on, we become more and more alienated from the almighty power of the universe, and become lonely beings.
Originally, all things are ours, but because we think only about a couple of things that we like, unknowingly we confine ourselves within a small boundary. From an entity without any discrimination, (in the paradise in Heaven, all beings have the same golden body, and there is neither man nor woman) we become full of discriminations. As we wholeheartedly love a couple of things or persons, we become more lonely and severed from the almighty power of the universe. Our power grows small and will be completely drained in no time. For instance, a person living in the middle of the Ganges River is surrounded by water and has an inexhaustible water supply. Suppose that person is attracted by something ashore, he will leave the Ganges to go after that thing. As he is too fascinated by the situation, he forgets how to return to his original abode. Then, when he is thirsty, he can only look for water nearby, and of course, that would not be enough.
As a result, we become weaker and weaker as our wisdom runs out. When we do not have enough wisdom, we become greedy. Insecurity makes us want to grab more things, and from this greed, wrath and infatuation emerge. These thoughts form a special magnetic field that engulfs us. Since the situation of each person is different, his magnetic field is also different. Since like attracts like, greedy or easily excited people will naturally attract excitement to their magnetic fields. Similarly, gentler people will attract gentler situations. This is the cause of the so-called karmic hindrances.
We often see people who always make a mess of their work. It is because their magnetic field always attracts destructive power or obstructive energy, foolish energy, or devilish energy. They simply cannot attract the great wisdom to them. Some people have very strong animal instincts, also because of their magnetic field. Or we can say that their life-after-life habits have not been rectified. When our magnetic field improves, it indicates that we are beginning the ascent. The time required for the rectification is related to our purity at heart. It is mentioned in the scriptures and the Tao Te Ching that we must have the heart of a child in order to return to the Heavenly Kingdom.
It is not easy to change our habits or magnetic field, which absolutely cannot be done by practicing some breath-counting method or yoga exercise. Since the development of habits is controlled by the mind, we must change the mind in order to change our habits. Methods contemplating on the solar plexus, on bones, water, or breathing are simply not enough. Only the Quan Yin Method is the ultimate method.
Sound of God
This Sound is the “Sound of God”, the sound of our original nature, which existed even before anything in this universe came into being. This Sound is the “sound beyond this world,” therefore, it is inaudible to the hearing faculty of ordinary humans. However, all sentient beings can listen to it, except that they will hear different sounds according to their individual levels. Everything in the universe vibrates, and so they have sound — even stones have sound. But it is too subtle to be heard by the human ear; we can only hear it with our wisdom. Therefore, we say contemplate on the sound rather than listen to the sound. If all sentient beings have this sound and wisdom as well, then why can’t they contemplate on this sound? It is because they don’t have the key and so do not know where the sound is. Therefore, we must first find a Master who can open the door for us.
Why is this sound so important? It is because all things in the universe are linked together by this sound. All the realms, from high to low, are linked to each other through this sound. Just now, we mentioned that the vibrations of some people are incompatible with others’, so they have difficulty accommodating with each other. For the same reason, our vibrations are not accommodating with the animals or certain places, and we find it difficult living with animals or staying in those places. If there are people who can live in those places, it does not mean that they are better than we. Most probably, their vibrations are very low or close to the animals, so they do not feel anything.
Pigs and frogs can live happily in very filthy places, and this amply illustrates why some people can live happily in unbearable places without feeling anything. Their auras can cope with those places; our vibrations are higher and gentler and cannot accommodate those lower vibrations. Therefore, we cannot live there, but that does not mean they are more capable than we are. So, benign people often have difficulty staying with vicious people.
Should anyone want to change his destiny, he must rely on this highest sound. Now we only have a very small portion of it and it is not very high in vibration. Precisely because our vibrations are low, we are living in this low-level world together with the animals. After all, birds of a feather flock together.
However, there is a type of sound that encompasses all sentient beings. This is “God’s Sound”, the sound of Original Nature. By contemplating on this sound, we can elevate our vibrations and spiritual level. Superficially, we may look the same as we did, but our body will emit light. Everyone loves listening to our lecture and it is easy for us to deliver people, because our vibrations have become gentler, putting people’s minds at ease and leading them to liberation. Their vibrations will be enveloped by ours; we will provide them with good vibrations that dissolve their bad vibrations. When the blood of a patient is not functioning well, the doctor will replace his bad blood with good blood. When the water in the bucket is dirty, we have to empty the filthy water before filling it with clean water. However, before our vibrations have become good enough, we cannot exchange them for other people’s bad vibrations. Otherwise, the result would be terrible. We must first practice spiritually if we want to deliver sentient beings.
Just now, we mentioned that all things in the universe have the “Sound,” and all things are created by this Sound. In the “Tao Te Ching,” it is mentioned as the “Name” or the “Tao.” Lao Tzu said: “The way that can be spoken of is not the constant Way; the name that can be named is not the constant Name. The Nameless was the beginning of Heaven and Earth; the named was the mother of the myriad creatures.” This Name or Tao refers to this sound or vibration. Perhaps the ancient Chinese usage was different, but it actually means the same thing. I think you will be able to understand this.
Tune In to More Superior Sounds
Everything in the universe is born from this Name or Sound; we are also part of it. But because we are human beings, we possess the highest part of it, and we are most likely to possess all of it. Animals are not high enough in level to possess this sound completely. Through practicing on this sound, we can elevate ourselves incessantly, we tune in to more superior sounds until we are in total possession of it. Then, we will be able to coordinate with all sentient beings in the universe. Since all sentient beings are part of this sound, which we have in total possession, to us every place is the Pure Land, every person is a Saint, and all sentient beings have God Nature. Only then do we attain the true realization; otherwise, all we have is hearsay or “thus have I heard;” we cannot distinguish whether they are true or false.
Having personal experience is different from reading the scriptures or about someone else’s experience. We read about others’ experiences when we read the scriptures. Practicing the Quan Yin Method, we will have our own experiences. We may compare them with those recorded in the scriptures and see whether we are having the same experiences as those of the ancient people. Sometimes our experiences could be even higher than theirs; it does not mean that we are superior to them, but that their spiritual level might not be very high when they wrote of this experience. So, we may be slightly higher than their level at that time.
We should know how powerful this sound is. All sentient beings have this vibration or sound, and we influence each other. This world is different from the Western Paradise in the sense that here, we have animals, bad people, good people, nervous people, calm people, happy people, and miserable people. It is a mixture of different atmospheres that makes it very difficult for us to practice with peace of mind in such a confused state. There are always many obstructions or bad influences distressing us. But then if we can persist in practicing with concentration, we will progress very fast.
Many heavenly beings like to incarnate as human beings because this physical body is essential for pursuing spiritual practice. We often think that this body is useless, but then we cannot practice spiritually without it. This body is very precious. Take good care of it. Take enough nutritious food to sustain it, but don’t be voracious. Protect the body from excessive cold, heat, exhaustion and overwork. Ascetic practice is not good; it is punishing ourselves, which is the greatest sin. We are Saints of the past, present, and future. We ought to respect ourselves. How can we punish ourselves through ascetic practice? Of course, it is different if the situation is truly unavoidable.
For instance, you may have heard that when I was practicing in the Himalayas, I ate only raw vegetables every day. It was because of the high altitude. The air was thin, the temperature and the air pressure were low, and it was very difficult to cook rice or vegetables. It was much simpler to eat raw vegetables; all I had to do was to wash them in the water of the Ganges, sprinkle a little salt on them, and then eat them. I did not deliberately want to practice asceticism. I once practiced in seclusion in a mountain temple in Formosa, and there I had a summer retreat for three months. Every day, I only ate some coarse rice with sesame seeds and salt, and drank a little water. No one was taking care of me at that time. Should I have gone to the market every day to buy vegetables, what kind of a retreat would that have been? It would have been a “vegetable retreat.” (Laughter) It was due to the circumstance. I ate what I could find; definitely, I was not practicing asceticism deliberately. Ascetic practice cannot make one an enlightened Saint; it will only turn you into a bitter person. Our life is bitter enough, so why should we want to practice asceticism?
“Sound” is the Greatest Power &
To become an enlightened Saint, we should practice the Quan Yin Method, and contemplate on this original sound with our wisdom. This sound creates all things in the universe, and it is the greatest power and supreme wisdom in the universe. What else can we rely on in our spiritual practice if not this great power and great wisdom? Why should we rely on this dark little abdomen (the solar plexus) or our ephemeral breathing instead? What does it matter if our body moves slightly in meditation? How could we practice if we stop breathing when we die?
If we are practicing spiritually with this great power, it does not matter if our body moves a little, or is even injured. Since our own Master has established connection with this sound, Hes has been liberated and has no relation with the body, and naturally, we can continue to practice. Hes will continue to take care of our life and help us to progress. Therefore, we cannot rely on anything else but this greatest, highest and most original sound. This most primitive sound existed before we came into being, and before anything in the universe came into being. And, even after the three realms are destroyed, it will continue to exist. Only by relying on this eternal power can we practice spiritually to reach the state of eternal existence. One can only reach the ephemeral level if one practices by relying on the ephemeral breathing.
In the Surangama Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha said that all other ways of spiritual practice are only temporary methods and not eternal ones. Only the Quan Yin Method is the eternal, ultimate and most correct method of spiritual practice. We will agree with Him after we have practiced the Quan Yin Method.
In the Bible, it is mentioned that the universe, In the beginning was the Word (Sound), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. Everything was made by Hirm (Sound), and there was nothing made that was not made by Him (Sound). [John 1:1-4] The “Tao Te Ching” also talks about the same. Lao Tzu said: “The way that can be spoken of is not the constant Way; the name that can be named is not the constant Name. The Nameless was the beginning of Heaven and Earth; the named was the mother of the myriad creatures.” It was when this “Name that cannot be named” came into being that the universe and all things were born.
The Upanishad, the most famous Hindu scripture, also mentions the same thing. “In the beginning was the word.” This sound existed when creation began. When this sound came into being, everything came into being. This sound is God; this sound is Creation. They all talk about the same thing, because in the first place, Shakyamuni Buddha, Lao Tzu, the Bible, Hinduism, and Islam all raise the same doctrine. After practicing the Quan Yin Method, we can understand the scriptures when we study them. When we have attained the great enlightenment, we will know that all scriptures actually talk about the same thing.
(Reprinted from The Key of Immediate Enlightenment, Volume I, Chinese Edition, Supreme Master Ching Hai, pp. 99-109, 1998)