The Great Buddha Hall
Sakyamuni Buddha was born to King Suddhodana and Queen Maya in Kapilavastu, located in present day Nepal. He was a bodhisattva who had great compassion and attained Buddhahood in a previous eon (kalpa). At a very young age, he realized that everything in the three spheres of existence is impermanent and began contemplating the solution to the sufferings of human life. At the age of twenty-nine, he decided to leave home and family to undertake a spiritual quest, and later attained enlightenment and Buddhahood. Sakyamuni Buddha preached the dharma for forty-nine years and taught eighty-four thousand dharma methods. His teachings benefited countless sentient beings. The Buddha transmitted the esoteric dharma only to his son, Rahula. Sakyamuni Buddha was the founder of Buddhism, while Adharma Buddha Samantabhadra Tathagata was the founder of Vajrayana Buddhism.
Eight years after the Buddha entered nirvana upon his demise, Guru Padmasambhava was born spontaneously in the blossom of a lotus in Lake Danakosha in Oddiyana (a small country in ancient India). The ruler of the land of Oddiyana, King Indrabhuti, invited the child to the palace and abdicated his throne to him.
Later, Guru Padmasambhava abdicated his throne and left the household life. He received the precepts from venerable Ananda and traveled to Tibet to spread the Buddha-dharma. He was maligned by local Tibetans for having no lineage. In order to prove his status and thereby better propagate the dharma, he traveled to present-day India and formally acknowledged various masters as his master. However, none of those masters had attained realization and accomplishment comparable to his. That is because Guru Padmasambhava was born with Buddha-dharma realization. In that very lifetime, he attained supreme accomplishment. Through realization of the rainbow body, he was able to constantly abide in this world. Guru Padmasambhava lived for more than eighteen hundred years in India propagating the dharma and benefiting sentient beings.
Later, Guru Padmasambhava accepted the invitation of the king of Tibet, Trisong Detsen, to spread the esoteric Buddha-dharma in Tibet. He was the first guru to transmit the teachings of the esoteric Buddha-dharma into Tibet. One by one, Guru Padmasambhava subdued the harmful gods, spirits, and demons of Tibet, making them faithful guardians of the dharma. The guru and Khenpo Santaraksita together constructed the monastery at Samye. The guru instructed his Tibetan disciples to learn translation of the sutras. He invited to Tibet people of great virtue from India, such as Vimalamitra, who translated important exoteric sutras and esoteric tantras into Tibetan. Guru Padmasambhava established institutes for the study of exoteric and esoteric scriptures and established esoteric dharma temples. He also developed lay and monastic orders.
In 1042, venerable Atisa accepted the invitation of king Byang-Chub ‘Od to come to Tibet to spread Buddhism. He lived in the Tuolin Monastery. After he arrived in Tibet, Atiśa vigorously systematized the Buddhist teachings and standardized the methods of practice. In the part of the Tibetan language Tripitaka called the Tenjur (Tengyur), Atiśa translated more than two hundred works relating to exoteric and esoteric Buddhism. The thoughts and doctrines that he spread later became known as the Kadampa school of Buddhism. Atiśa’s teachings were later revived and redeveloped by Master Tsongkhapa, who was a reincarnation of Manjusri Bodhisattva. Master Tsongkhapa established the Gelug sect and spread the esoteric Buddha-dharma to Gansu, Qinghai, Mongolia and other places.
Kuan Yin Bodhisattva (Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva) is an ancient Buddha who returns to this world voluntarily.The Bodhisattva attained buddhahood countless eons ago under the name Zheng Fa Ming (Correct Dharma Brightness) Tathagata. The Chinese call the Bodhisattva “Great Compassion Guan Shi Yin Bodhisattva.” The Chinese characters “Guan Shi Yin” mean “to hear or regard the sounds of the world.” If living beings recite the Bodhisattva’s name when they are in distress, the Bodhisattva will hear or regard their sounds and will save them. Kuan Yin assumes countless forms in order to save living beings from suffering and hardship. That is why there are a variety of different names and forms for Kuan Yin. Thus, there is the ancient Chinese saying, “Every household worships either Amitabha Buddha or Kuan Yin Bodhisattva.”
Manjusri is a Bodhisattva with perfect and supreme enlightenment. He is the guru of seven past Buddhas. He sits on one of the three Vajra Thrones in this world. The first Vajra Throne is where Sakyamuni Buddha sat when he attained enlightenment. The second Vajra Throne at the Kathok Temple was empowered by Guru Padmasambhava and will be empowered by the Thousand Buddhas of the Good Eon (Bhadra-kalpa). The third one is the Vajra Throne of Manjusri at Wu-tai Mountain. Manjusri is foremost among all Bodhisattvas in wisdom and eloquence. He personifies the perfect wisdom of a Buddha, which is called “great wisdom.” The Mind Contemplation Sutra describes Manjusri Bodhisattva as “the mother of enligtenment in the three spheres and wonderful auspiciousness.” The Fang Bo (Putting Down the Bowl) Sutra states, “My becoming a Buddha is entirely due to the grace of Manjusri. The countless Buddhas of the past were all disciples of Manjusri. The Buddhas of the future will also become Buddhas due to the mighty spirit power of Manjusri.”