Our Venerable Pingshi Xiao
Publication of books and treatise, unhindered knowledge of eloquence, profound and wondrous wisdom, and extensive propagation of the True Dharma
Xiao Pingshi (蕭平實) was born in 1944 in a small town in Central Taiwan, into a family of farmers who had been engaged in agriculture for generations. His father and grandfather were both disciples of the Triple Gem. His grandfather was an advanced graduate of the Qing Dynasty, and his maternal grandfather left behind many ancient books. In his early years, the author casually engaged in worldly affairs and was averse to superstition. In middle age, he took refuge in the Triple Gem and explored the sign of reality, was determined to seek the Path, and developed the skill related to the signless mindfulness of the Buddha. Soon after, he pursued and accomplished a task as difficult as grabbing a pearl from under a dragon’s chin to personally realize the reality-suchness and distinctly bring forth and witness the wisdom related to the sign of reality. He rapidly mastered the enlightenment of the Three Vehicles, brought forth compassion and fierce courage, and made a vow to save sentient beings and protect the correct Dharma seen by the wisdom eye. To carry out this vow, he established the Buddhist True Enlightenment Practitioners’ Association in Taipei, the True Enlightenment Education Foundation, and multiple True Enlightenment Lecture Halls throughout Taiwan.
In 1997, True Enlightenment Practitioners Association was established to offer different levels of Dharma classes to practitioners. Presently, affiliated centers of the Association have reached all the major cities in Taiwan, including Hong Kong. Since the founding of the Association, Master Xiao has been giving weekly public lectures on major Buddhist scriptures, such as the Laṅkāvatāra Sutra, the Śūraṅgama Sūtra, the Sūtra on Upāsaka Precepts, the Śrīmālādevī Siṃhanāda Sūtra, the Diamond Sūtra, the Reality Prajñāpāramitā Sūtra, the Lotus Sūtra and the Buddha Treasury Sūtra. After lecturing the Noble Sūtra of the Explanation of the Profound Secrets (Ārya-saṃdhi-nirmocana-sūtra), one of the most important Mahāyāna Sūtras, Venerable Pingshi will continue to lecture the Bodhisattva keyūra mūlakarma sūtra to the public.
To elucidate the Buddha Dharma and its stages of cultivation for all interested learners, Venerable Pingshi has also published more than a hundred books on a wide range of Buddhist subjects. These include the combined cultivation of Chan and Pure Land, the realization of the Path to Liberation expounded in the Agamas, the analysis of the profound Middle-Way teachings and the exegesis of key Consciousness-Only scriptures. All his books emphasize that Buddhism is a path of personal realization and that we can attain realization only through a continual process of listening to, contemplating, and actually practicing the Buddha Dharma.
Venerable Pingshi adopted the term "True Enlightenment" for the sacred teachings of the Tathagata and sutras taught by the Buddha. The name highlights the direct perception from personal realization of the wondrous Dharma of the tathāgatagarbha expounded by the World-Honored One during the three Turnings of the Dharma Wheel. He continued the Dharma lineage of Bodhisattva Xuanzang based on the teachings in the sutras of the Three-Vehicle Bodhi, including the neither-arising-nor-ceasing dharma taught by Buddha Sakyamuni for more than 30 years.
The Truth in Buddhism
According to the sacred teachings, the Path to Buddhahood is predicated on the personal realization of the ālayavijñāna mind entity (tathāgatagarbha) as the (root) cause. The Avataṃsaka Sūtra also states that the realization of ālayavijñāna denotes the attainment of the wisdom of fundamental awareness (C:本覺智). These teachings confirm that only those who have attained realization of the ālayavijñāna are the enlightened ones in Mahāyāna Chan Buddhism and are also the attainers belonging to the Path of Vision of Reality in the Buddha Bodhi.
The sūtras and treatises also state the following: Practitioners who realize ālayavijñāna and can align themselves with its displayed intrinsic true nature and its suchness and can patiently accept these natures without retrogression are indeed the Mahāyāna worthies and sages who have attained realization of reality-suchness. They (the Mahāyāna worthies and sages) are tantamount to saints of the first fruition on the Two-Vehicle Path of Liberation. As mentioned above, it must be understood that practitioners have a firm conviction in their personal realization of ālayavijñāna, without the slightest doubt, which denotes authentic enlightenment on the Path of Vision of Reality. There is no other way to attain the Path of Vision of Reality in the Mahāyāna tenet of Chan School.
Suppose practitioners consider other cultivation methods to attain the Path of Vision in Mahāyāna or stubbornly insist that thoughtless and pristine awareness is the mind of ultimate reality (regarding the conscious mind as maintaining a thoughtless state, to be awakened to the True Mind and attain the Path of Vision). As such, there will be numerous connotations concerning the Path of Vision on the ultimate reality of prajñā, thus leading to multiple types of ultimate reality. However, these views all deviate from the sacred teachings of the ultimate reality and run counter to the absolute truth. Hence, there is only one type of enlightenment in the tenet of Chan School: attaining personal realization of the eighth consciousness, tathāgatagarbha, thereby aligning oneself with its apparent nature of reality-suchness. Apart from this, there is no other means of attaining enlightenment. This principle is true, accurate, and applicable to past and future generations. No one can refute it. For those who insist that thoughtless and pristine awareness is the True Mind, their assertion is definitely incorrect and delusive.