The Original Great Mother Tradition
Mother Worship

I am a Buddhist 1

MatriTalks 59


Questions & Answers
Han Marie Stiekema Sermes

Last review December 23, 2005

Q. In your previous talk, you elaborated on the "diagnosis" of the decay Buddhism is in. Could you talk about the "therapy" as well?

A. Develop a Maitreya Mind.

Q. What you mean by that?

A. To have the courage to "dying to the old" and to become reborn. In a stage of disintegration - as we experience rightnow - the attitude should be of "letting go" of all concepts, instead of clinging to them. Buddhists should become audacious, in order to be able to start from scratch.

Q.  To most Buddhists, the "faith" has become a much revered institute, though. Why to "let this go?"

A.  If you are honest you have to admit, that Buddhism has lost its liberating role. So, you start searching for change for the better. It means, that the saying "If you meet the Buddha on your road, kill him" has to be applied to Buddhism as a whole, instead of just being a personal guideline.

Q.  Does this imply responsibility toward the Whole, as the driving force behind it?

A. Absolutely. However painful, if you see, that Buddhism, a religion with such a potentiality, doesn't offer solutions to the existential crisis mankind is in, then what is the point?

Q. What should be done in order to regain its strength?

A.  In these times emphasis is on "expansion" on all levels. It eventually leads toward fragmentation and decay. It is a turning point. Rather than going from the center to the periphery, the cosmic process moves from the periphery toward the center. One skin after the other is peeled off.  This eventually leads to re-uniting with your original principles.

Q. What happens, if you re-unite with the Source?

A. Letting go with every identification, especially those, that "means most to you". To be confronted with the Ultimate Truth, in such a way, that fresh insight arises. Something, that in the course of the previous era (that of Sakyamuni) has been overlooked.

Q. To me this sounds very adventurous indeed.

A. To discover the True Meaning of the Ultimate Truth is very challenging. Buddhist have always called this "Emptiness beyond Emptiness". This is actually a very "deep" concept. In fact, no other religion has been able to formulate anything comparable. The question though is, "what is the Reality behind?"

Q. You say it.

A. Concepts don't make sense, if they don't lead you to deeper understanding. Only alive concepts are able to do so. Firstb it has to directly relate to the Deepest Truth. Furthermore you have to describe it in such a way, that they become Real to people. The omission of Buddhism is to not having transmitted their own principles as "Living Truths".

Q. If you go to the bottom(lessness) of things, what do you find there?

A.  The Ultimate Truth being a Vacuum, a Void, containing the entire universe. In pre-Buddhist times this was called the "Cosmic Womb" or "Great Mother". This Womb is giving birth to Her Light Body (Buddhahood) and Her Material Body (the universe) respectively, both continuously returning to their Source. By describing it this way, rather than being an abstraction (as has been the case until now), the Ultimate "suddenly" becomes alive.

Q. Thus Buddhahood also dies?

A. As you know all planes of existence are bottomless, including Buddha Nature, while the Great Mother is the Ultimate Bottomlessness. Hence, there is no escape from "the cycle of birth and death" ever. It is the biggest joke of all. (laughing)

Q.  How did the idea of a Cosmic Womb or Great Mother disappear?

A. The discovery is, that in order to suppress the feminine connotation, early (patriarchal) Buddhists have deliberately neutralized the original interpretation by replacing it by abstract terms. They started talking about "Emptiness beyond Emptiness" or "Nirvana". To almost all Buddhists these concepts are meaningless though. They only give rise to all kinds of speculations, something that serves nobody (except philosophers). (laughing). The Reality is, that in the Womb death is transformed into rebirth.

Q. Aren't you overlooking the Prajnaparamita Sutra? Its key concept is "Womb of all Buddha's".

A. In this Sutra the word "Womb" means "the Womb from which individual Buddha's emerge". It is equal to Enlightenment. The Cosmic Womb is Something Beyond though.

Q. This would be rather surprising to the ears of "average" Buddhists.

A. Most Buddhists are familiar with their "official" canonical scriptures only. The surprise is, that lay tradition always has managed to preserve the original teaching. One example of this, is the Chinese "Pao-Chüan" or "precious volumes".  A common theme in these books, is the creation of the world by Wu-sheng lao-mu, the Eternal Venerable Mother, who sends down to earth ninety-six myriad's of Her children. Though they are originally all "Buddha's and immortals", once on earth they forget their true home in paradise and become attached to fame, profit, and sensual pleasures. Trapped by their desires, they are immersed in samsara, the "sea of suffering", repeatedly encountering death and rebirth and suffering punishments in purgatory. The Venerable Mother, grieved by this, sends down messenger deities to remind Her lost children of their true nature and the way home.*

* See Daniel L. Overmyer "Messenger, Savior and Revolutionary", p. 110-134 in Alan Sponberg and Helen Hardacre "Maitreya, the Future Buddha", 1988 Cambridge University Press.

Q. A distinctive creation myth creating a new elan.

A. Absolutely. Its implications are far-reaching. The difference between "traditional" and Great Mother Buddhism is this. The "previous" Buddha helps you in realizing your individual potentiality, while the coming One is guiding you on your way back to the Origin. The former exclusively focuses on "personal achievement" ("liberation"), it is therefore limited to being an individual enterprise only. The goal of New Buddhism is a much wider one, though: aiming at re-integrating mankind with the Realm of the Great Mother as the true liberating Dimension.

Q.  That sounds rather vague. What exactly is the "Realm of the Great Mother?"

A. As you know the Mother - the Cosmic Womb - is embracing the entire existence, without exception. By returning to the Mother's Realm, we re-unite with Her Light Body (spiritual) and Her Material Body (worldly), respectively. Going back to the Mother, therefore means integrating the various realms of existence, restoring the Wholeness of Life. Hence, Her Messenger - Maitreya - is not just "another Buddha". His mission is clearly distinct from Sakyamuni.

Q.  Could you explain?"

A. First of all the Mother cannot be attained. Hence, the New Buddha will emphasize devotion e.g. surrender rather than "Self-realization". The result is true ego-lessness. It is related to the origination of Maitreya. While Sakyamuni attained Enlightenment by his own efforts ("ascending"), Maitreya was granted Enlightenment without any effort on his part. Hence, his "descending" from the Tushita Heaven.

Q.  Wow, I have never realized this.

A. It has huge consequences for your path toward liberation. Is it based on self-effort with underlying ego-ambition or will it be granted to you through surrendering to the Ultimate? The former attitude is based on grasping; the latter on gratitude. It is this basic attitude where it is all about. Hence, two Enlightened Beings can be as different as "hell and heaven".*

* See also: Breakthrough of the Light.

Q. Is it really that serious?

A. The point is, that even after a major breakthrough sooner or later ego-centeredness still proves to be present as an underlying tendency. The danger is, that the ego then will misuse your "spiritual achievement" for its own purposes. It is the main reason, why Sakyamuni's way of self-effort has come to an end.*

* There are always exceptions to the rule....In practice the first stage of the Path may be based on self-effort, subsequently followed by unconditional surrender to the Ultimate, the Great Mother. By giving back (the identification with) your ego to Her, She will grant you your New Self.

Q. With what consequences?

A. Something inherently good like liberation has proved to be fatal in an era of spiritual self-centeredness e.g. rude egotism, something Sakyamuni "could not have foreseen". At least not on the scale like we see today.  In the old times there were all kinds of (social) mechanisms to prevent extremes, while current society is only promoting them.

Q. Could you explain?

A. Contrary to traditional society, people nowadays are totally out of balance. So, what happens if somebody becomes Enlightened? Very often, it poses an extra burden to integrate the personality into the New Self. The result is more trouble, rather than becoming fertile to the benefit of all.

Q. How to cope with this dilemma?

A. Buddhists have to start taking the personality seriously. Not Realization, but a succesful integration proves to be the key factor.

* By ignoring the personality - avoiding the difficult process of integration -  Buddhists (often) have acquired a false sense of spiritual superiority. Once you start including it - facing all the difficulties accompanied by it - you will come down to the earth once again, though. It is good for developing a realistic sense of humility. 

Q. Please, go on.

A. Secondly, he (Maitreya) will be guiding people to conform to the Mother's Law of the Universe, which consists of "death, rebirth and the "web of life".* Death of the ego results in the birth of a New Self. This is the first step. To restore Wholeness one subsequently has to fit in in the Mother's web of interrelationship - "Heaven, earth and the (new) community" - though. This is the second step. It means that Maitreya is not only leading people to liberation (like Sakyamuni did), but also re-integrates all other levels of existence. 

* The web of relative "permanence", e.g. the interrelationships of ever changing outer phenomena.

Q.  Nirvana is samsara and the other way round?

A.  He has to do what Buddhism has omitted until this very day. He will be guiding people to the next step in evolution: to become part of "Heaven, earth and the (new) community" once again, reconciling all dimensions of life. Integrating the Absolute and the relative world, cherishing the latter (the five skanda's) as a precious gift of life*. That's why it is said in the scriptures, that he has come not only to restore "religion", but also to "take charge of the world".

* Through contact with the West Buddhism increasingly starts talking the same way. Like so often in patriarchal religion, the latter hoping that by making some adjustments, fundamental change can be avoided. I try to prove the opposite here. See also: To Realize Your Maitreya Mind.

Q.  That what you define as Transformation of Self and Society.

A. That's right. To develop a Maitreya Mind - which we all possess - means to leave individualism behind, paving the way for people to "being your Self connected" e.g. becoming part of the Whole, once again. Hence, Maitreya symbolizing the end of self-centeredness.

Q. Thus, Maitreya Mind is both spiritually as well as worldly oriented.

A. The scriptures are leaving no doubt about that. They not only speak about a "teacher" but also a "savior"; about the promise of recovery of Original Wholeness, including both "personal salvation", as well as "world renewal"; saving all people, while "putting the world in order". Maitreya thus being portrayed as a potent combination of a religious and worldly leader. Everything under the common denominator of "bringing people back to the Venerable Mother".

Q. I increasingly grasp what you are trying to say. Maitreya is indeed giving you a totally different feeling.

A. One big difference between the Old and the New Buddha is, that the former is an end in himself, representing the highest realm possible, as he saw it. The latter went beyond this, realizing that the Great Mother is the Ultimate Reality. Contrary to Enlightenment, the Mother cannot be possessed, though. Thus, Maitreya, knowing his descent - having realized Her Essence, Her Light and Material Body, respectively - recognizes Her Supreme Position in the universe. He therefore joyfully accepts his role of servitude.

Q. How do we know, if the transition you are talking about, has indeed taken place?

A. The Pao-Chüen scriptures are rather clear about this. They speak of the end of a "world cycle", characterized by chaos, disaster, violence and destruction. In that period of time, Sakyamunis' reign will be rapidly coming to an end - logically, because he is not equipped with appropriate abilities to cope with the new situation - while Maitreya is soon to arrive. One scripture is talking about the "Dragon-flower Assembly", a meeting held at the end of every cycle. Here Maitreya is even holding Sakyamuni responsible for the deterioration of both religion and the world...e.g. for not having interfered to prevent people from addicting themselves to individualism and materialism.... 

Q.  How to interpret your "Ultimate Sutra" in this regard?

A. This is not "my" Sutra. It was in 1976, that I suddenly woke up in the middle of the night. There was an otherworldly empty clarity in and around me, filling up the entire room. Without any thinking on my part, I took pen and paper and started writing. To my amazement, it was English what I was writing, the entire process being totally spontaneous. After having finished it, I looked at it dumbfounded, not knowing what to think about it*.

* PS. The writing came directly out of Nothingness. No "entity" was involved, whatsoever. 

Q. What could be its contribution to this new stage of evolution?

A. The Sutra is the Mothers' Message to all Buddhists. She calls everyone to live according to Her guideline. The latter consisting of Awakening, Acceptance, Friendship, Surrender and Action.

Q. One of the attractive sides of Buddhism is its unequalled expression of the Transcendence. Especially, the images of the (former) Buddha belong to the highlight in religious art. The New Buddhists are with empty hands in this regard. What objects of devotion could they develop?

A. First of all "empty hands" express the Ultimate Reality of the Mother (laughing). On the other hand, Her symbol has been there all the time. Imagine a Buddha sitting on a Lotus Flower. Usually, it is perceived, that the Buddha is sitting on the Lotus. It only occurs to a few, that the Lotus symbolizes the Cosmic Womb, out of Which the Buddha is being born. Hence, Great Mother devotees making the same reverence in front of the same statues, worshipping the Lotus in the first place, though.

Q. Naughty New Buddhists.

A. Apart from that, Great Mother Buddhism also has "found" its most sacred Sanctuary. It is the Borobudur on Java, Indonesia. A Javanese Queen was the inspiration for its construction. It reflects the time of Yogacara Buddhism, in which the Womb was worshipped as the center of the universe.*

* Stupa in general means "grave".

Q. Where could people read more about Great Mother Buddhism?

A. You may open: Great Mother Buddhism

Develop your Maitreya Mind.

Become a Servant to the Mother.

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