To “free oneself from shackles” in Buddhist Sutras means to unleash from the shackles of false images and be free from the sufferings of the Three Domains. 22 The only method of “freeing oneself from shackles” that does not dwell on any images is instantaneous enlightenment.
Buddha virtues are based on ceasing doubts and establishing faith, guided by being remote from marks or images, and built on not dwelling one’s heart anywhere. By establishing Buddha virtues, one can free his True Self. To free the True Self means that the True Self is freed from shackles.
If one can understand the reasons for the sweetness and the bitterness he encounters, constantly keeps tranquility in his heart, resolves all actions and inactions with his True Self, responses to whatever he encounters, and remains tranquil as event passes, he would not be far from seeing his True Self.
We must know that a million acres of land cannot belong to a person forever, spouse and children cannot be together forever, and wealth, which needs to be looked after, doesn’t last forever.
The only thing that is everlasting is the
True Self given by God.
If one practices Tao, he can become a Saint. If one ignores his True Self, he will become a ghost. To be happy or to be pathetic solely depends on one’s own doing. If one practices Tao with sincerity and tenacity, it’s not difficult for him to be “free from shackles”.
74. Taoism has a mystic practice of “Three times Five”. What is it?
The saying regarding Three times Five is not limited to Taoism; Confucianism and Buddhism also have the same sayings.
In Confucianism, it is the Three Orders 8 and Five Bonds 7 of morality.
In Buddhism, it is the Three Followings 34 and Five Disciplines. 17
In Taoism, it is the Three Flowers and five Qi.*
Though the appellations are different, they all are based on the Truth. Upon the fulfillment of these practices, one becomes what Confucianism calls a Saint; Buddhism, a Buddha; or Taoism, an Immortal. These are the outer Three times Five.
There is a simpler practice, the inner Three times Five. Wu -ji Lao-Mu 4 descended to the Altar and stated “The True Self and life are completed when Two times Five. When Three times Five coagulates, one pervades the cosmos.” For example, the new moon begins on the first of the Chinese Lunar Calendar. After three times five days, on the fifteenth, it becomes a full moon. A male reaches adulthood at the age of fifteen. Tao follows Three times Five too.
What is Two times Five?
That means the two eyes.
What is Three times Five?
It is the True Self plus Two times Five. In the celestial sense, Two times Five refers to the sun and moon, which complement each other. Reflecting the aureole inward and coagulating It in the Right Portal, one can return to the Origin and restore his True Self.
Scriptures and Sutras contain many hidden messages. If a person cannot realize the true messages in the Scriptures, in order to realize them, all he has to do is to hold on his True Self and a portal, seek the Enlightened Teacher with Tien-Ming 1 and receive Tien-Tao.
He then can realize the hidden messages in time. Upon full realization, he can abandon all Scriptures and practice Tao tenaciously on his own. Why? The Buddhist Sutra states,
“The Dharma I spoke of is like a raft.
Once one gets on to the shore,
why should he carry the raft with him?”
*Three Flowers are the three treasures of the body:
the vitality, spirit (Qi), and soul. See Question 75 below.
75. What does “Three Flowers cluster in the ‘tripod vessel’ and five Qi faces the origin” mean?
This phrase refers to the highest achievement of practicing Tao through the Gong-fu 15 of adhering to the Right Portal.
are the three treasures of the body:
spirit (Qi), and
The body is the “stove”. The Right Portal is the “tripod vessel”. Refining vitality so it transforms into the spirit (Qi), then from spirit (Qi) into the soul, and finally returning the soul to the Void are the three stages of the Gong-fu of adhering to the Right Portal. Once the soul returns to the Void, one is unified with Tao.
In this Gong-fu, one must unify all three treasures of the body into One. Thus, one must be pure and tranquil constantly and avoid eating all kinds of meat to prevent the contamination of the unity. The Taoist saying “settling the stove and setting the tripod vessel” refers to the same Gong-fu.
The five Qi is the Qi of the five internal organs (heart, liver, spleen, lung, and kidneys). Whenever one’s heart is active, his five Qi becomes contaminated. The five Qi becomes purified and recover their original states when one’s heart is pure and tranquil.
Thus, one must follow the five disciplines 17 of Buddhism and not eat the five impure vegetables (onion family, garlic family, shallot, leeks, and tobaccos) to prevent the five Qi from dispersing. Constantly adhering to the Right Portal in quiescence as though the Right Portal both exists and doesn’t exist, the more the better, one can attain Tao.