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The Shakyamuni Buddha Empowerment Puja Comes to a Perfect Completion

Shakyamuni Buddha is the Teacher of the Three Realms and the Compassionate Father of the Four Forms of Birth, as well as the Lord who spreads the Dharma throughout Jambudvipa (the Earth). In Tibetan Buddhism, it is of utmost importance to have a guru, for without a guru’s guidance, it is impossible to attain realization. In view of this, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presided over the Shakyamuni Buddha Empowerment Puja for the first time at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Taipei to help sentient beings form a connection with Shakyamuni Buddha in their future lifetimes, eliminate their hindrances to practicing Buddhism, and attain perfect accomplishment as soon as possible.

At 9:30 in the morning, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche arrived at the Buddhist Center to perform a preparatory ritual. At 2:30 in the afternoon, all the attendees stood in sincere reverence with palms clasped. Then, led by a precession of musical instruments, incense burners, and a jeweled parasol, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche stepped up to the mandala. The guru prostrated before the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, presented a khata to the Dharma throne of His Holinesses the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, lit lamps as offerings to the Buddhas, and then ascended the Dharma throne to preside over the puja.

“Today I am bestowing upon you all the Shakyamuni Buddha Empowerment. Shakyamuni is the Buddha who has transmitted the Dharma to the humans of Earth; had He not descended into this world, humanity would not have Buddhism. Regardless of which sect, order, or Dharma method you practice, all Dharmas were transmitted by Shakyamuni Buddha. Granting you this empowerment today means that if you have aspired to bodhicitta and are prepared to practice the Bodhisattva Path, then once you have received this Shakyamuni Buddha Empowerment, you will have more ample causal conditions to cultivate the Dharma methods transmitted by Shakyamuni Buddha. If you have not aspired to bodhicitta, are not prepared to cultivate the Bodhisattva Path, and are someone who has a lot of your own opinions regarding your guru, then today’s empowerment will merely allow you to continue to have a connection with Shakyamuni Buddha in your future lifetimes.

“There are two major types of Buddhism: Exoteric and Tantra. Exoteric teachings involve all the sutras and theory, and are the foundation of Buddhism. Once we have gained this foundation, we must use the Dharma to benefit ourselves and others. Many people think that reciting sutras over and over is a way to benefit themselves. They are not wrong! Buddhahood can be attained through Exoteric practice, too. However, according to Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings, it takes three great Asana-khyeyas to do so, which is a very long period of time—a period too great for us humans to calculate. As such, in the process of trying to attain Buddhahood, we would be quite liable to continue reincarnating in the Six Realms.

“What is so special about Tantra? It cannot get rid of anything for us; it simply transforms our bad things into good things that can help us. As ordinary people, our actions, words, and thoughts are impure. As is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, our every thought is for ourselves, and we all think we are right and other people are wrong. This is what we mean when we say, ‘Every thought produced by an ordinary person generates karma and vice’. Ordinary people with such impure actions, words, and thoughts cannot possibly attain Buddhahood.

“The Tantric method is as follows: By way of all the blessings of Tantra, our ordinary, impure actions, words, and thoughts are transformed to a purity that is no different from that of the Buddha and the yidam. Of course, this cannot be done just because you want to, nor can it be immediately achieved after being granted an empowerment. We must first cultivate through the proper stages. By stages, I mean there is a sequence to it; we must practice one step at a time. We cannot achieve realization immediately by simply wanting it or imploring for it.

“Why should we receive empowerment? It is because in ancient India, whenever the king transferred his crown to a prince, he would pour water on his head from a silver bottle; this signified that the prince had inherited the authority to rule from then on.

“Thus, people who have received empowerment will be able to receive the Buddha’s fruition in the future. Of course, this, too, cannot be achieved simply by wanting to; one must act and practice. Moreover, not just anyone can grant empowerments; the empowering guru’s mind-continuum has to be able to move the minds of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. What sort of mind is that? It is bodhicitta. If the guru granting empowerments has not attained fruition in bodhicitta, and is not cultivating the Bodhisattva Path, then he cannot sense or become attuned to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; as such, there will be no blessings.

“In other words, gurus grant empowerments with the merits and good fortune they themselves have cultivated, as well as their own fruition, to move the yidam into bestowing blessings upon them; after that, the gurus go on to give empowerment to people with their own merits and good fortune. In the past, in Tibet, any guru who frequently granted people empowerments would consume his or her good fortune, so would need to replenish it by conducting retreats.

“Some people mistakenly think that Shakyamuni Buddha never spoke about Tantra, and that it was taught by someone else. Actually, Shakyamuni Buddha expounded Tantra in many of the sutras. However, because Tantra is not taught in public, only a few terms were mentioned. Those who have learned Tantra know which parts of the sutras are about Tantra and which are not.

“After receiving empowerment, your body, speech, and mind will become pure. If you have the proper motive in attending today’s puja—meaning, you respect the Three Jewels, which are the Buddha, the Dharma, and the presiding guru—then this empowerment will certainly help you in your future cultivation.

“A definition of respect can be found at the end of every empowerment’s Dharma text: ‘May the yidam bless me that I may joyfully serve my guru.’ This means that I will happily complete any task my guru gives me. Why is this included in the text? It is because without a guru to grant you empowerments, you cannot possibly learn the Dharma. Another way of putting it is that a guru is more benevolent than even your mother and father; all they could give you was your physical body. They cannot change your future. Some might argue, ‘My parents earned money so that I could go to school; therefore, they helped me to change my future.’ However, the sort of future I was speaking of is more than the few short decades you will live in this lifetime. Many people think that to participate in pujas is to be able to immediately change in this lifetime, but given your circumstances, how can just a few years of practice possibly do that? If you want to change your life, then you must do as I have said many times, and as is written in the sutras: Cultivate merits.

“Merits are not accumulated by chanting any particular number of mantras or making a certain number of prostrations to the Buddha every day, nor by making a few offerings. Merits come after you have attained fruition in cultivating good fortune and wisdom, aspired to bodhicitta, and realized Emptiness; once these sorts of merits have appeared, you can naturally transform your karma. If you have not cultivated merits, then you cannot, and will only be at the mercy of your karma.

“Therefore, in bestowing Shakyamuni Buddha’s empowerment upon you today, I do not have any special expectations of you, nor am I doing it because you have any particular root capacity. Rather, while looking at you good-for-nothing disciples, I can see that some of you have lost your aspiration, and as a Tantric guru, I hope the merits and good fortune of this empowerment will reduce your hindrances to practicing Buddhism.”

H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the ritual, and then conducted the mandala-offering, during which the monastics offered the mandala on behalf of the attendees.

Rinpoche said, “The beginning ritual that I performed just now is called the preliminary practice. To explain this in a way you can understand, preliminary practices are all the preparatory work, and this includes the ritual I came over at 9:30 this morning to perform; now I am performing another preliminary practice.

“During the preliminary practice, the presiding guru must complete all the necessary preparations for your empowerment. Anyone receiving an empowerment must first break free of the Six Defilements, the fourth of which is having external distractions. This means your mind is elsewhere, and you are not paying attention to the Dharma being transmitted by your guru. The fifth is adducting the Five Roots, which involves becoming drowsy or even falling asleep. The sixth is tiresomeness, which makes you wish the puja would end sooner, thinking, I don’t know what he’s doing, but I wish he’d get it over with quickly.

Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to initiate the empowerment.

After that, he led all the attendees in reciting a repentance prayer.

First, Rinpoche conducted the body empowerment. He said, “In receiving the body empowerment, you become authorized to cultivate your body, addressing all the physical defilements, hindrances, and habits you have accumulated. Once you have received the body empowerment, you can practice visualization. Having been granted an empowerment does not make you A-OK; afterward, you still need a guru to teach you the stages of visualizing and practicing the appearance-emptiness dual operation of the yidam’s method. Only then can you possess the causal condition to attain realization as a Nirmanakaya.”

Next was the speech empowerment. Rinpoche said,

“The words taught to you by your guru are auspicious and eternally unchangeable, whether you feel they are mundane or supramundane. Being ‘auspicious’ means that they can help you to become liberated from life and death. You might listen to what your guru has to say about not doing this or that, and think it has nothing to do with the Dharma; if this describes you, then you should not learn Tantra. Everything a guru says is to liberate sentient beings from life and death. However, do not assume that you only need to heed the guru’s teachings when he is sitting atop the Dharma throne. A meritorious guru’s every word is uttered with benefiting sentient beings in mind. This line is very important.

“After receiving the speech empowerment, all your accumulated defilements and bad habits of speech will be purified. After that, you can begin to chant mantras. Only after attaining the hearing-emptiness dual operation of the yidam’s method can you possess the causal condition to attain realization as a Sambhogakaya. That is, you cannot chant mantras just because you want to, thinking that you can do it because you have heard them before.”

Next, following Rinpoche’s instructions, the attendees conducted in a brief meditation.

Rinpoche said, “After receiving the mind empowerment, all of your accumulated defilements and bad habits of thought are purified, and you receive the empowerment of mind without residue. After that, you must cultivate the clarity-emptiness dual operation of the yidam’s method, which means not having a discriminating mind, not thinking you are either the yidam or an ordinary person, and not supposing that you will become the yidam just by thinking it. Only after completing these stages can you possess the causal condition for attaining realization as a Dharmakaya.”

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Next, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the disciples in the Dharma Protector Achi Ritual and dedication prayer.

Upon the perfect completion of the puja, the attendees thanked the guru for his compassionate performance of the Dharma and the bestowal of auspicious teachings, benefiting countless sentient beings. All rising, they paid homage as H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne.

Updated on January 31, 2019