Wai-Lun Tam, Ph.D

Forword to The Power of Mantra

A majority of Han Chinese tend to describe themselves as either being non-religious or atheist. Only a relatively small percentage of them openly claim to be religious. However, a recent study of the religious experiences of the Han Chinese conducted between 2004 and 2006 has shown that 56.7% of people polled in China claimed to have had a spiritual experience that could not be ordinarily explained or controlled. These findings are comparable to some surveys conducted in the western countries by numerous scholars, which consistently indicate that between one-third and one-half of the people interviewed have had a spiritual experience. On the other hand, Confucius taught us to respect the spirits but keep them at a distance. He asked, “While you are not able to serve men, how can you serve their spirits?” Also, “While you do not know life, how can you know about death?” Yet, many people say that it was precisely at a time when they were facing death that they began to realize the meaning of their life, and thus started to appreciate and understand life more. Furthermore, because the unseen and spiritual world remains the most bewitching and enchanting topic for many, it is too irresistible to be put at a distance.

Most of Grand Master Sheng-yen Lu’s books, which now include over two hundred volumes, contain reports of many people’s spiritual experiences and their encounters in the metaphysical world. This is one of the reasons why Grand Master Lu’s books are so engaging and remain best-sellers, not only among his disciples but also in the Chinese reading world at large. Most of his books contain a collection of prose on a special theme, as well as modern poetry composed by Grand Master Lu. Both his beautifully written prose and poetry are regarded as exceptional pieces of literature and his books continue to remain as revered models of Chinese literature. Grand Master Lu’s books are also assets for scholars examining the Chinese religious experience. His books are more than mere collections of reports and records of other people’s religious experiences. Due to his own inspiring achievements in religious practice, Grand Master Lu’s books are filled with religious insights and wisdom. They include valuable teachings on subjects such as Vajrayana Buddhism and Chan (Zen) Buddhism. Furthermore, he reveals many mysteries about the religious world.

Thanks to Grand Master Lu, we can now get a glimpse of an eternal world through his writing. His interpretations of people’s religious experiences in his books have become a powerful, overwhelming and timely call for participation in inner cultivation. I would recommend Grand Master Lu’s books, without reservation, to all students of religious studies and to those with an interest in religion.

This book, which contains fourteen captivating stories regarding the efficacy of religious incantations, is a classic example of the works produced by Grand Master Lu. Regrettably, Grand Master Lu’s books have long been limited to the Chinese-speaking world and I am overjoyed to learn that there is now a plan to systematically translate some of Grand Master Lu’s books into English.

Kumārajīva (344 CE – 413 CE), one of the most prominent and well known translators of Chinese Buddhist scriptures once said that the process of translation is similar to chewing rice and feeding it to people. Much of the original flavor is inevitably lost in the process. Coming from one of the greatest translators in the history of Chinese Buddhism, this gives us some idea about the many challenges involved in translating sacred texts. Kumārajīva, however, never stopped translating and his translations of the Heart Sutra, Lotus Sutra andDiamond Sutra, for instance, remain the standard and most widely-read versions of the Chinese Buddhist texts. As Grand Master Lu’s books are considered the sacred texts of the True Buddha School, the translation of these important works is a challenging, admirable and rewarding endeavor. I would like to offer a special thanks to the translation team for a job well done!

Wai-Lun Tam, Ph.D
Professor of Cultural and Religious Studies
The Chinese University of Hong Kong