The Way to Heaven with the Three Treasures
Initially, I would like to extend my congratulations to you upon your receipt of the Baptism of God today. In Chinese, it signifies that we have just been illuminated by the Tao of God. This is the ultimate goal of religion and religious philosophies. As long as we retain the Tao, we will be capable of enlarging our inner wisdom and finding our true self--which is the original nature of our soul bestowed upon us by the Creator of the universe. By merging our true self into our everyday dealings with people and situations, everything we do will be more "perfect and medium" without contradicting the harmony of the infinite universe. Thus, we will become the universe and the universe will become us, as the harmony of the universe is also the law of nature--the Tao. Nobody--not even the ancient Buddha, Immortals, nor Sages--can achieve full enlightenment without knowing, obeying, and practicing the Tao. For the Tao that comes to us from Heaven is of such a nourishing kind that whoever "eats" it will cease turning the wheel birth and death will not die. So today I extend my congratulations to you for what you have just received.
The Chinese character for the "Tao" literally means "the way" or "the path." In short, Tao is the way, or path, to Heaven--the Kingdom of god. It is a unique way shown by the Creator to lead His people to His land. As human beings we are a combination of spirit and body. Spirit, like intangible gas, light, or energy, cannot be seen, heard, smelled, tasted, nor touched. Commonly it is called "soul." The source of its being is from god while our physical bodies come from our parents. Since this globe was created, our souls have been constantly changing from on mortal residence to another or have been existing in other forms in other spaces. When a soul resides within a body, it can come to mistake itself for that body and to believe that that body is real in itself. The soul will then come to be controlled and directed by that body which will cause it to be lost entirely. Furthermore, if a soul should fall because of this attachment to a body, and if it should forget what its self really is, then the wheel of birth and death for that soul starts turning in this world. The Creator's purpose, in His gift of the Tao, is to remind us never to lose our "true self" not forget God's land is its real home. This world and this life are the place and time for us to retrieve, improve, and cultivate our true selves in preparation for returning to His land should be some day.
Why The Tao appear now?
Actually, the Tao had already existed before the creation of the world but was not recognized by many for a long time. In modern times, when most people blindly worship science and technology instead of spiritual harmony, they believe that the power of mankind can surpass nature. They forget how great nature is and believe science and the human brain are infallible; spirit or soul, to them, are nothing but a religious term and don't exist. But when we look at all the problems on this earth--war, killing, crime, violence, hunger, greed, destruction, etc.--we see that they are the manifestations of our inner selves. If our inner selves are always in a state of harmony the world would be full of peace and free of such evils. Without finding and nurturing our true inner selves, we will continue to be in a crisis of suffering. However, God, like our mothers, is merciful and compassionate. He wants to deliver us from suffering and thus gave us the Tao and sent the greatest Master Buddha Tien Ran to rescue all people. He wants His people to enjoy and foster a peaceful and happy world before returning to His world. Can someone who has not developed his true self nor experienced true inner peace be allowed into God's land? The answer is definitely negative.
What Did We Receive Today?
Today you were baptized in God's church. At this sacred baptism ritual you were received THREE TREASURES (Triple Gems): the three most precious and shortest ways to attain enlightenment and true self. They are Hsuen Kwan (Right Door), Real Teachings (Heart Sutra), and Hand (or Fingers) Sign.
HSUAN KWAN (RIGHT DOOR)
In Chinese, Hsuan Kwan means "fantastic (or marvelous) door. "More simply put, it means "right"(or correct) door. Where is that door? It is located at the point where the Tao preacher put his finger (as a key) on our face to unlock it at the baptism ritual. That point is the "right door" through which our true self (soul) can get in or out. It is also called "the door of wisdom" or "the door to Heaven."
Truly, we are all born with that door but it gradually becomes closed and locked as our true selves become defiled. Jesus reminds us (Matthew 18:3): "I assure you that unless you change and become as children, you will never enter the kingdom of Heaven;" and through God's mercy this door can be re-opened and shown. As long as we do our utmost to develop and cultivate our inner wisdom and to practice it in daily life, the day will come when we will find our true selves and, with it, enlightenment The Kingdom of Heaven is within us and within our reach.
If this door stays locked, the soul will have no way out but to leave from the eyes, ears, mouth, nose, navel, vertex, etc. when the body ceases to live. These are the wrong doors. Leaving from these exits the soul won't escape the suffering of birth and death . These outlets lead the soul to be reborn unto six different forms of life, such as viviparous animals (most mammals) ; birds; fish; insects; people, etc.
Though the right door may be opened by baptism, if we fail to apply the Tao in our daily living, we still wo uld not be able to return to Heaven. We must unlock a deeper, inner door ourselves. To illustrate, Jesus said (Luke 9:23): "If anyone wants to come with me, he must forget himself and take up his cross daily and follow me." What and where is our cross? It is within us, it is the inner door we must unlock ourselves. The right door on the center point of our face can only be opened with God's key by the power of the Holy Spirit and fire. Once his outer door is opened, the inner door must be opened by ourselves -- taking up the cross daily--by doing everything with sincerity and mercy, by keeping our conscience free of discrimination and attachment. Then everything we do will be what we call "round and full"--or, 'the dimensions of perfect."
Upon his enlightenment, Buddha said, "Every sentient being has Buddha nature." What is Buddha nature? It is our original nature, our true self, inner wisdom, and ultimate substance which we have always had. So, opening the right door is primarily to show us the right way to find something we originally had and to gain it back and practice it in daily life.
REAL TEACHINGS (HEART SUTRA)
In the past, the message of God was told and transmitted one by one. What were written down were the cultivating experiences of former sages and Buddha. By our referring to their practical experiences it will be easier for us to adjust ourselves and find the right way to live. We must find it and do our best to reach the destination of the real sutra (or teachings)--the real way to enlightenment--which is within our inner hearts. This is why we were given the name of a Buddha at our ritual--to remind us that we have Buddha nature like he does. We can be Buddha like him one day if we practice our original Buddha nature in daily life. We may ask whom that Buddha is but his name is just a metaphor. That Buddha is our inner true self. Or we may ask, "Who is Jesus?" Jesus said (John 11:25-26); "I am the resurrection and the life, whoever believes in me will live forever, even though he dies; and whoever lives and believes in me will never die." Jesus is our inner true self. We must find our inner true self--it is the way to enlightenment and to the end of the cycle of birth and death. So, be our true self like Jesus or that Buddha whose name we were given.
HAND (OR FINGERS) SIGN
In China, people like to use a seal engraved with their name to take the place of their signature. Today we were taught how to hold both hands together with the left hand on the top of the right. This hand gesture is to show respect to God. Please note that the position of the thumbs as both hands are crossed together form a Chinese character, child. Literally it means "child." It symbolizes that we are God's children. When we want to pay respect to God, we must show this by holding our hands together the way we were taught and by kneeling down bowing. This kind of hand sign is also a kind of seal--a mind-to-mind seal of all Buddha. After all, it reminds us that we must always keep our inner minds as pure as the original nature given to us by God.
These are the three treasures we were given today. We must keep them deep in our hearts merge them in our daily life. We must always try to do our best to enlarge the measure of our inner mind in accordance with them. After received these three treasures, we realize the best way to enlightenment is but to do, say, see and listen correctly in our daily life. We must all follow our original nature and stick to it.