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A Chronicle of Promoting the Dharma at the Renowned Thousand-Year-Old Onsenji Temple in Kinosakicho, Japan

By 2019, first year of the Reiwa era in Japan, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had been promoting the Dharma there for eleven years. While the entire country was busy celebrating the new year, Rinpoche accepted an invitation from Abbot Ogawa Yuushou of Onsenji Temple to preside over the Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara Empowerment Puja and orally transmit the Diamond Sutra on May 17th at the ancient Kinosaki temple, thus helping everyone to simultaneously cultivate good fortune, wisdom and plant causal conditions in Japanese believers so that they could one day practice Vajrayana Buddhism. This also opened up a new chapter in the promulgation of Tibetan Buddhism in Japanese temples.


The origin of the puja was last spring (2018), when H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went to Matsudaisane Onsenji Temple, a visit that coincided with the puja held there once every 33 years in which the standing statue of Eleven-Faced Avalokiteshvara is unveiled. Upon learning that Rinpoche is a master practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism, the temple residents invited him into the Great Hall of Compassion. After entering, he chanted the Great Six-Syllable Mantra as an offering to the yidam Avalokiteshvara, and in that moment, the several meters-tall statue actually swayed forward. Witnessing this happen with their own eyes, all present were left awestruck, and Abbot Ogawa, head of Onsenji Temple, was moved to heartfelt praise. He later took the initiative to keep in touch with Rinpoche, and not long after, the abbot participated in a puja at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Kyoto. Early this year, Abbot Ogawa implored the Dharma from Rinpoche, hoping to receive oral transmission of the Diamond Sutra. Therefore, the causal condition of this puja had come into being.

A total of 140 people were in attendance, including 42 Japanese believers and 94 disciples, all taking part in this auspicious puja together!

Abbot Ogawa Yuushou of Onsenji Temple giving an introduction for Japanese believers

The Meaning of the Tibetan Honorific, “Rinpoche”

Onsenji Temple’s Abbot Ogawa Yuushou implored H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to explain the meaning of the appellation ‘Rinpoche’ so that everyone could understand, so Khenpo Namdol of the Drikung Kagyu Order gave the assembled believers a special introduction of the Tibetan term:

“Amitabha. I will now explain the meaning of the word ‘Rinpoche’. This is a Tibetan honorific, and translated into Chinese, it means ‘treasure’, ‘cherished treasure’, or ‘most valuable treasure’.

“It figuratively refers to a treasure among humans who is extremely rare and undefiled. The Sastra of Adornment of Mahayana Sutras, one of the Two Supremes and Six Adornments from India, contains six different metaphors describing a treasure among humans.

From the Sastra of Adornment of Mahayana Sutras:

‘Master Asanga said,
“One who is undefiled, pure, and very rare,
Who is mighty and adorns the world with wonder and solemnity,
And who is supremely auspicious and eternally immutable.
A treasure possesses these six merits,
And this treasure is most precious and rare.

“Those who have not accumulated good fortune are unable to see him;
Hence, it is very rare to do so.
This person does not speak filthy Dharmas, and is not afflicted by impurity;
He benefits himself and others, and so is powerful;
He is a cause for the rise of virtue in sentient beings,
and is therefore a wondrous adornment to the world.
The one who is most auspicious surpasses the world, and so is victorious;
The nature of such a person is immutable,
And is therefore eternal and unchanging.
Thus, the one endowed with these six merits is known as ‘the greatest treasure.”’

“A person who has not accumulated good fortune can neither see nor purchase such treasures; this is why they are ‘rare’. The word ‘undefiled’ means innately devoid of impurities. Such treasures among practitioners have attained the ability to benefit themselves and others, which is why they are referred to as having power, or being ‘mighty’. They cause sentient beings to give rise to virtuous thoughts, so are ‘wondrous adornments of the world’, which means they are solemn and dignified. They surpass all others, so are ‘unsurpassed and victorious’; they stand above the mundane world, and are of utmost auspiciousness. Their nature is immutable; they remain as unchanging and unmovable as a diamond. Only practitioners who can possess these six rare qualities can be called ‘Rinpoches’.

“In Tibetan, the word ‘Rinpoche’ means ‘great treasure’, and refers to a practitioner who has achieved fruition. It means ‘an esteemed person as precious as a treasure,’ and is an honorific used for gurus of Tibetan Buddhism.

“Why would some gurus be called great treasures? It is because they have been named Rinpoches, due to being endowed with those six types of perfection just mentioned. In Tibetan Buddhism, only ‘siddhas’, ‘Mahasiddhas’, reincarnated Rinpoches, or gurus who have attained a certain level of fruition through cultivation in this lifetime can be called ‘Rinpoches’. Our presiding guru today is His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche; he is one who has become a Rinpoche through cultivation in this very lifetime. Not just any practitioner or monastic can be called ‘Rinpoche’; one must have attained fruition and realization first.

“Because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has attained the greatest fruition, we call him ‘Rinpoche’, for he is endowed with the aforementioned six types of merits. How did he come to possess them? After taking refuge in Buddhism, he practices Exoteric and Esoteric rituals of the Three Vehicles of Buddhism; he also is endowed with compassion and precious bodhicitta. Most propitiously, since he began to follow His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, 37th throne-holder of the Drikung Kagyu Order, Rinpoche has received transmission of the Order’s Tantric pith methods, empowerments, and other auspicious teachings of the Lineage. Gradually, through cultivation and the conducting of retreats, Rinpoche finally attained realization, and is now capable of liberating vast numbers of sentient beings from life and death and bring benefits to all by promoting the Right Dharma around the world. Amitabha!”

Khenpo Namdol explaining the significance of the word ‘Rinpoche’, and praising Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for his fruition

The Avalokiteshvara Empowerment Puja

At 10:00 in the morning, led in by a procession of music, incense, and a jeweled parasol and reverently welcomed by all of the attendees with their palms clasped, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche set foot upon the mandala. There he paid respectful obeisance to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and presented khatas in front of photos of His Holinesses the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang and the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang. Then, after lighting lamps as an offering to the Buddha, Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne to preside over the Avalokiteshvara Empowerment Puja.

H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche lighting lamps as an offering to the Buddha

Abbot Ogawa Yuushou lighting lamps as an offering to the Buddha

First, the ordained disciples led the attendees in reciting the Four Immeasurables and the Prayer to the Eight Noble Auspicious Ones, and then implored the Dharma. After chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra for quite a while, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche bestowed teachings.

“It was a very auspicious causal condition that enabled me to receive Abbot Ogawa’s gracious invitation to come here today and promote the Dharma. Onsenji Temple’s yidam is Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, so I will transmit a special Avalokiteshvara Empowerment to you.

“Only Tantra has empowerments; they are not done in Exoteric Buddhism. The word ‘empowerment’ has two different definitions. In ancient India, when a king was passing his crown on to a prince, a bottle would be filled with clean water, and the king would pour it onto the prince’s head; this signified a transfer of the king’s position and authority. In Tibetan Buddhism, an empowerment is a ritual through which a practitioner is granted permission to cultivate a certain Dharma method, such as that of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.

“Another meaning of the word ‘empowerment’ has to do with the fact that before we have begun to cultivate, we still have the bodies of ordinary people; however, because Shakyamuni Buddha said, ‘All sentient beings possess the same pure, original nature as a Buddha,’ we use Tantric rituals and expedient methods to transform our ordinary actions, words, and thoughts into original intentions that are no different from those of the Buddha and the yidam. By way of an empowerment ritual, we can turn our minds, which are ordinarily full of afflictions and false thoughts, into the aspiration to practice.

“An empowerment can reduce and even eliminate our hindrances to practicing. In Tibetan Buddhism, one must possess the fruition of a Rinpoche before one can grant empowerments. During the ritual, there is no separation between the Rinpoche and the yidam; he is the yidam. In today’s case, I will transform into an emanation of Avalokiteshvara and divvy out the merits I have cultivated to you believers and disciples.

“I am granting you all this empowerment today, but according to Buddhist teachings, if you had not accumulated any good fortune over your past lives, you would not be able to be granted an empowerment in this one. After you receive it, if you wish to practice this Dharma, the next step is to implore to do so, because practicing it is a separate method. Empowerments are very important; in Tibetan Buddhism, before we can cultivate the Dharma method of any yidam, we must first be granted an empowerment in it by our guru, and then orally transmitted its essence, and so on; only then can we begin to cultivate this yidam.

The honorary Abbot Ogawa Yūsen of Onsenji Temple

Abbot Ogawa Yuushou of Onsenji Temple

“Avalokiteshvara is the representative of compassion in Buddhism, and is one of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas introduced by Shakyamuni Buddha. These Eight are Dharmakaya Bodhisattvas. Bodhisattvas range from the First to the Sixteenth Ground, and a Dharmakaya Bodhisattva is one who has reached the Eighth Ground or higher, and is preparing to attain Buddhahood. The significance of this empowerment I am granting you all today is quite profound. Even if you never have an opportunity in this lifetime to be allowed to cultivate this yidam’s Dharma method, you at least are sure to have a chance to practice it in a future lifetime.

“When we chant the sacred name of ‘Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’, does this mean we are practicing his Dharma method? Among many such methods, chanting his name falls into the exoteric category. ‘Exoteric’ refers to Buddhist principles. When we chant Avalokiteshvara’s sacred name, we merely receive his blessings, but that does not necessarily mean we can benefit sentient beings. Only by practicing Tantra can we help ourselves and, in turn, help sentient beings to attain Buddhahood.

“Today I have only given a brief introduction to these matters. To expound them in detail would take a very long time, but because our time is limited, I have kept it short. Now the Ritual of Mandala Offering will be performed. Before a Dharma is transmitted in Tibetan Buddhism, this ritual is required; it essentially means that all those participating in the puja make offerings to the yidam, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas on behalf of all sentient beings so that the attendees will have sufficient good fortune to receive this empowerment.”

(As the Ritual of Mandala Offering was performed, Khenpo Namdol, the honorary Abbot of Onsenji Temple Ogawa Yūsen and Abbot Ogawa Yuushou, the ordained disciples from Taiwan, and the Japanese believers all offered the mandala on behalf of everyone in attendance.)

H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to conduct the ritual, and then said, “The part I just performed involved me, the guru, visualizing myself as being one and the same as the yidam. The yidam whose empowerment I am granting you today is Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara. The next ritual requires the guru to pour his merits, compassion, and mantras into a treasured vase to activate the yidam’s mantra. After that, blessings will be given.”

(Rinpoche continued to perform the ritual .)

“The part I just performed requires the guru to visualize himself as Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara, and use his pure nature to bless all of the water inside the treasured vase to transform it into the yidam’s nectar water, which contains both the blessings of the yidam and of the wrathful yidam. After that, the guru visualizes the Five Wisdom Buddhas coming before him to bestow the empowerment.”

(Rinpoche led the attendees in chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra for a good long while, and then resumed the ritual.)

“That part of the ritual involved tormas, which are a type of offering. The first torma was an offering to all those formless sentient beings out there that were unable to come in and take part in this puja. The second torma was an offering to all of the demons out there, which also could not enter, so that puja participants can be free of illness, live long lives, and obtain good fortune. In the text, a lot is written about how practicing in the future can bring benefits, such as being able to rid oneself of untimely deaths and accidents, eliminate all demonic hindrances, not be plagued by nightmares anymore, be rid of all non-Buddhist curses, being able to enjoy peace and happiness, prosperity, and riches in the mundane world, and having abundant agricultural harvests. ‘The Right Dharma is vast’ means that the Dharma is widespread, perfect, and complete, so we must make offerings.”

(After completing the preliminary practice, Rinpoche began to make preparations for the empowerment.)

“The previous section was about offering tormas to satisfy all ghosts and goblins, rakshasas, demons, and sprites living in the mountains, forests, and rocks, so that they will no longer come here to disrupt our empowerment. After these offerings are made, all puja participants can avoid various negative occurrences in the mundane world, such as being killed ‘by a soldier’s blade’. In the past, a lot of people died in military conflicts, but there are not wars these days in our immediate surroundings —so how do people die? They are stabbed to death, or they accidentally stab themselves, or die under the knife in surgery; these mishaps can include car accidents and so on. These offerings also tell demons that life is very precious, and that we hope they will return to their homes and refrain from harming anyone who has come here to take part in this puja.”

(While performing the Dharma, Rinpoche roared a few times in a booming voice before manifesting a wrathful expression. His majestic and solemn visage was extremely auspicious. A clear echo resounded twice up and down the mountain valley, sending blessings to countless sentient beings. Afterward, the guru performed a short mandala offering.)


“Prior to initiating the empowerment, the guru must remind believers to avoid the following pitfalls:

“The first one is conceit, which means believing that you know more than the presiding guru, and that you look down on him. Conceit is arrogance.

“The second is doubt, which means not giving rise to faith in the Right Dharma and the guru. Because a lot of people see the guru as a human being, the same as they are, they wonder, ‘Why does he get to sit up there and we don’t? Why do we have to listen to him?’ These are examples of not giving rise to faith. In Tibetan Buddhism, the emergence of a Rinpoche does not happen easily; one must cultivate through many lifetimes or possess the causal conditions to appear in this one before one can become a guru who benefits sentient beings as a representative of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Therefore, when a Rinpoche speaks the Dharma, it is not for his own fame or fortune; it is to help sentient beings. The ‘Right Dharma’ includes all methods taught to us by the Buddha, helping us to end the suffering of rebirth and keep us from falling into the Three Evil Realms.

“The third is not imploring for the Dharma, which means that some people may just come seeking blessings, with no intention of learning the Dharma right now.

“The fourth is external distraction. This means being here, but your mind being elsewhere, not able to concentrate because you are thinking about other things.

“The fifth is adduction, which involves sitting there but not listening or paying attention. You think that as long as you have shown up, it is fine to just sit there.

“The sixth is weariness. You think, This is taking sooo long; is it almost finished? I still have something to do, so I should leave a bit early.” We should not feel that something is taking a long time, because in actual fact, I have shortened today’s puja quite a bit for your sake, who are very busy in this Age of Dharma Decline and who always feel like they don’t have enough time. However, no matter how busy you might be, you simply cannot be as busy as I am. Back in Taiwan, I have 1,600 disciples who have formally taken refuge in me, so I am kept very busy every single day.

“The next part of the text tells us that we should see the guru as being the same as the yidam. This does not mean they share the same physical body; rather, they are of one and the same mind. You are the ones listening to the Dharma, and should be viewed as the retinue of the guru and the yidam. As puja attendees, you must give rise to uncommon motives and acts, because what you are being transmitted today is the supreme Tantra. What does ‘uncommon’ mean? The Buddha’s teachings are divided between Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana; ‘uncommon’ motives and acts are unique to Vajrayana Buddhism. What are they? If you are not participating in this puja for yourselves, having come instead on behalf of other sentient beings, and you hope that all sentient beings in the universe will also have opportunities to attend pujas at some point in the future, then you can be said to have initiated uncommon motives and acts. There is a very important connection between these and the karmic retribution that will manifest in your future: It is determined by what sort of aspiration you have during today’s puja. Of course, I cannot expect too much of you believers who have only just begun to participate in pujas; however, I still have to tell you to reflect on this fact and give it some thought.”

(Rinpoche led the attendees in reciting the Dharma text, first in Tibetan and then in Chinese, which was interpreted into Japanese, and asked the Japanese believers to recite along with him. A moment later, he saw that a believer had fallen asleep.)

Rinpoche instructed, “Wake up that person who has drifted off. When participating in a Tantric puja, snoozing is not allowed; if he wishes to take a nap, he can leave. If you fall asleep during a puja, you will come back as an animal in your next lifetime. I am not being strict; I just know about cause and effect. As I said just moments ago, you must not let your minds wander. This shows how powerful Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is; it happened right after I mentioned it. This is great, actually; it tells you all that you will commit a transgression if you lose focus—so pay attention. I have been quite polite here today; at the Buddhist Center in Taiwan, I am very strict.

“The line we just recited was a prayer to take refuge before the guru and the yidam and repent for our karmic hindrances, rejoice in the merits of others, and so on; these actions help us to accumulate good fortune.”

(As Rinpoche resumed his recitation from the Dharma text, the Japanese believers recited along with him, their voices reverberating throughout the Great Hall of Compassion.)

Outside the Great Hall, disciples recited along with Rinpoche’s clear voice, which resonated up and down the mountain valley.

“What we have just recited helps you to accumulate good fortune so that you can receive the empowerment. I will give a brief explanation about it. What is being transmitted today is Tantrayana, the most important of the eighty-four thousand Dharma methods taught by Shakyamuni Buddha. It can be divided into four parts: Kriyayoga, Charyayoga, Yogatantra, and Anuttarayogatantra. A Rinpoche must master all four of these before being able to transmit the Dharma. The Anuttarayogatantra is further divided into three parts: The Father Tantra, the Mother Tantra, and the Non-Dual Tantra, and the Partial-Truth-Revelation Yoga contains the essences of the Father Tantra and the Whole-Truth-Revelation Non-dual method. Of those three parts of Annuttarayogatantra, the Avalokiteshvara Dharma method involves practicing the three expediencies of paths, effects, and causes. These include the ‘path of maturation’ and the ‘path of liberation’. In other words, we are cultivating the three expedient Dharma methods, in the following order: Paths, effects, and causes. Therefore, by exclusively practicing the Avalokiteshvara Dharma, you will master the ‘maturation’ phase; this means that after cultivating all these methods, you will become attuned to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara and be liberated from the cycle of birth and death. The ‘maturation’ empowerment contains the blessings of body, speech, and mind; this means that it is separately bestowed upon you on your actions, words, and thoughts.

“These lines are a supplication to the guru to be compassionate and mindful toward you so that he can help you and grant you the Avalokiteshvara Empowerment.

“Next is a prayer for authorization to receive the empowerment of body.”

(Rinpoche explained how to visualize, and then spoke about the statue of Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara.)

“Visualization is not a matter of transforming your body into that of Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara, but of your innermost thoughts. Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara’s middle two hands hold a blue wish-granting jewel; in his left hand is a lotus blossom, and in his right hand are a set of crystal prayer beads. Atop his head sits Amitabha, and Avalokiteshvara’s body is adorned with eight different precious stones. Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara represents the four Dharma methods of kindness, compassion, joy, and giving; if I have a chance later on, I will explain these to you in detail.”

(While performing the ritual, Rinpoche bestowed the empowerment upon Khenpo Namdol and Onsenji Temple’s honorary Abbot Ogawa Yūsen and Abbot Ogawa Yuushou.)

“I have just granted you all authorization to receive the body empowerment, which will allow you to rid yourselves of all bad physical habits you have accumulated over your past lifetimes and begin to cultivate the appearance-Emptiness dual operation of the yidam’s method. Only after that will you be able to possess the causal conditions of attaining realization of a Nirmanakaya Buddha.

“Next is a prayer for authorization to receive the empowerment of speech.

“Upon receiving the empowerment of speech, you are authorized to cleanse and rid yourself of all the bad habits of speech that you have accumulated throughout your past lives. After that, you may begin to chant mantras. The yidam is Avalokiteshvara, and once you have attained the stage of his dual operation of perfect aural clarity and Emptiness can you attain the condition of realization. This means without the empowerment and authorization, you will not attain realization no matter how hard you chant mantras; it is only through the empowerment, and through being taught how to chant properly, that you can attain enlightenment in this lifetime. This is because after receiving the empowerment, you will obtain the causal conditions of realizing a Sambhogakaya Buddha.

“Next is a prayer for authorization to receive the empowerment of mind.

“Upon receiving this ‘empowerment of mind without residue’, your minds shall be cleansed, as well as all the bad habits that you have accumulated in your past lives. Afterward, you may cultivate visualization of the yidam’s dual operation of mind and clarity-Emptiness; only then can you possess the causal conditions for attaining realization as a Dharmakaya Buddha. I will explain what ‘dual operation’ means at a later date, because it is a very profound Dharma. Afterward, all of these are torma empowerments. We supplicate and greet the torma, which is no different from Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara and his retinue, to grant empowerment atop your crown chakras to help you to eliminate any temporary adverse conditions and hindrances. Listen closely: This refers to temporary help. Why is it temporary? You would no doubt wonder why, if the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are so powerful, they can’t simply help us. It is not like that; it is that you do not believe and are not resolved, so they will only help you temporarily. However, do not assume that that they will always come to your aid just because they helped you once. The most important thing is our mindset. For example, I learn Buddhism in the footsteps of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, but he has only taught me the Dharma; that would be utterly useless if I did not cultivate it.

“Since you have all been given this causal condition today, it is up to you to decide where you will go from here. Life is over after just a few short decades; what happens to us after that? Have you ever given it any thought? Where will we go? All the academic knowledge in the world is not enough to teach us how to face the one thing that each of us will inevitably face: Death. No matter who you are, you are definitely going to die—but how? Buddhism is a trove of knowledge that can help sentient beings.

“We are forming this connection with you all today. In Buddhism, we can pray for good fortune, longevity, fame, and fortune, and these can all be obtained, but none of them is important; from a Buddhist point of view, they are the most trivial of matters. Of utmost importance is whether or not everyone can learn the Dharma in this lifetime to become liberated from birth and death and no longer reincarnate; this is the crucial thing that you must learn. Of course you need to have great resolve to do so. If you do not, then no amount of teachings will be of any use to you. In this part of the text, it is written very clearly that any help you receive will only be ‘temporary’ because you are indecisive. For example, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas helped you find time to come here and participate in this puja today: You were originally very busy, but for some strange reason, your hindrances to coming here suddenly disappeared, allowing you to attend. However, if you continue to eat meat and kill sentient beings after this puja is over, then those hindrances will be back. Many people think that they can eat meat while learning Tantra, but that is not the case. Many of our gurus eat vegetarian, including myself, and so do all of my disciples.

“Why should you go vegetarian? First of all, if you do not, then your health will continue to go downhill. Secondly, if you eat a lot of meat, you will be in debt to a lot of sentient beings. A third reason is that if you keep on eating meat, you cannot possibly resolve the issue of your reincarnation. I am seventy-two years old, and the reason I am still able to continuously benefit sentient beings is that I went vegetarian a long time ago.

“It is written very clearly in this line that they will temporarily bring about positive conditions. What are positive conditions? They allow us to practice Buddhism very smoothly, without the emergence of any negative conditions. Eventually, they allow us to attain the same fruition as Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, but that does not mean you will turn into him; it means you will attain the same fruition.

“These next few lines you may either recite or not, because if you do recite them, then afterward you must put them into practice. You Japanese believers are welcome to decline; that’s fine—I won’t reprimand you. These last few lines have to do with the future relationship between disciples and their guru. If you recite them, then your guru is certain to help you through all of your future lives until you attain Buddhahood. A unique aspect about Tibetan Buddhism is that you don’t have your guru just for this lifetime; as long as you still have not attained Buddhahood, he will continue to assist you. That said, whether you recite these lines or not is totally up to you.

“‘With the blessings of the yidam, may I dedicate myself to attending and pleasing the guru.’ Only after Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara blesses us can we devote ourselves to attending our guru. You Japanese believers should think this through before deciding whether or not to recite along with us. ‘May I make offerings of the Three Gates to my honorable guru.’ The ‘Three Gates’ refer to one’s body, speech, and mind. ‘May I remain as your disciple through lifetime after lifetime; may I abide and serve you as my guru, never to be separated from you’. Abide and serve mean to rely on, serving one’s guru and never leaving him. ‘Never leaving’ does not mean remaining physically by his side day after day; it means that in our hearts, we must never stray from our guru. For example, my guru, His Holiness, is in Europe right now, and I am here in Japan; as a matter of fact, though, our minds are linked. I know whatever he is thinking, and he knows whatever I am doing.

“For example, this visit of mine to Onsenji Temple to promote the Dharma has made my guru very happy—not because I have come here, but because my coming here has given many Japanese believers an opportunity to receive the yidam’s empowerment. This is the meaning of ‘abiding and serving my guru without ever leaving him’. Because my guru taught me to benefit sentient beings, I do it continuously. If he is happy, then today’s puja will come to a perfect completion. A guru represents not just himself, but each generation of gurus; in the Drikung Kagyu Order, which has been around for more than eight hundred years, there have been thirty-seven throne holders. All of the gurus in these thirty-seven generations are with us; I am just one guru representing them all. Because you are unable to meet them, it is up to me to transmit the Dharma to you on their behalf.

“‘Please dispatch me at any time.’ The definition of ‘dispatch’ is not based in mundane matters, but on supramundane matters. For example, my guru often says, ‘Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, you should perform such and such puja, and so on.’ This is a supramundane task. After reciting, you should not have any regrets, because that would be bad for you—though it won’t affect me.”

(The Japanese believers and the disciples all recited along in unison, and then the Ritual of Short Mandala-Offering was conducted.)

“Today’s empowerment has come to a perfect completion. Before I descend from the Dharma throne, there are a few things I would like to say. I brought some vajra knots with me today, which are strings of five colors tied into a knot in the middle. They were brought back from the Drikung Kagyu’s ancestral monastery, and were made after 250 lamas took turns chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra for forty-five days straight, twenty-four hours a day. So, in a little while, Abbot Ogawa Yuushou will distribute a vajra knot to each Japanese believer present. You may wear them around your necks; they can protect and bless you with peace and good health in all your comings and goings. It is even okay to wear them in the shower; there are no restrictions—you may wear them around your necks all the time. When doing so, this central knot must not be undone. What should you do if it breaks? Mend the broken strings; not a problem. If you wear it until you can’t wear it anymore, that’s fine, too; you can just bring it back here and give it to the abbot. He will burn it into ashes and sprinkle them onto the ground here, and that will serve as a kind of offering. Before the abbot passes these knots out, there are also nectar pills to give you. Yesterday I gave the abbot a brief introduction about them, and asked him to explain to you what they are.

“This statue of Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara was brought from Drikung Thil Monastery in Tibet by a khenpo and gifted to me. This was because I make an offering every year to that monastery to completely support the annual grand puja held there in which 250 monastics chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra around the clock for forty-five days straight. Every year I provide them all with food and other necessities, and I have been making this offering for more than ten years now. As it happened, before I came here, the Khenpo brought me this Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara statue, so I felt that today I should bring it here. That will allow the Onsenji Temple and all of the Japanese believers to form a very good connection with Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara and with Tibetan Tantra.

“There will be another puja this afternoon, so for now I’ll place this statue of the yidam atop the mandala, and later on the abbot can enshrine it in the back of the Hall. Next, I will step off the Dharma throne and bless you believers and disciples with a treasure vase. After I am finished, the abbot will distribute the vajra knots and the nectar pills to you Japanese believers.”

H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended from the Dharma throne and chanted mantras, a bell in his left hand and a vajra and the treasure vase in his right, compassionately allowing the Japanese believers to receive his blessings while still seated. All of the attendees put their palms together and waited respectfully. When he was finished blessing them, Rinpoche left through the central gate of the Great Hall of Compassion, where he blessed the Glorious Jewel disciples. Filled with sincere gratitude, they made their way up the steps to reverently receive the blessings with palms clasped.

Afterward, Rinpoche said, “That concludes this morning’s Empowerment Puja. We will reconvene at 2:00. Because Abbot Ogawa requested it, I will transmit the Diamond Sutra during this afternoon’s puja.”

While Rinpoche was performing the Dharma, there had been a gentle breeze, and the mountain valley had been filled with birdsong that was especially pleasing to the ear. Upon the perfect completion of the Empowerment Puja, the attendees all stood and paid reverent homage as His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended from the Dharma throne. In unison, they all thanked him for granting the empowerment, performing the Dharma, and bestowing teachings that would benefit countless sentient beings.

Rinpoche blessing the Japanese believers

An Oral Transmission of the Diamond Sutra

At 2:00 in the afternoon, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche returned to the Dharma throne to orally transmit the Diamond Sutra and to bestow further precious teachings upon all the attendees.

“This afternoon I will orally transmit the Diamond Sutra. In Tibetan Buddhism, and especially in our Drikung Kagyu Order, sutras and mantras can only be recited or chanted after receiving oral transmission from a guru. The origin of my transmitting this sutra to you today was that Onsenji Temple’s abbot—Abbot Ogawa—implored me to. There is not enough time today to expound the contents of the entire sutra; that would take about half a year or even a year. Before I begin, I will talk briefly about how the Diamond Sutra came into being.

“Shakyamuni Buddha spent twenty-two years expounding the Great Prajna Sutra. ‘Prajna’ is a Sanskrit word, and there is no translation for it in Chinese or any other language. This is because back when Master Xuanzang was translating this sutra in the Tang Dynasty, whenever a word had multiple meanings, he did not translate its meaning into Chinese; he just transliterated its sound directly. A basic explanation of the word ‘prajna’ is ‘the wisdom of Emptiness’. Any practitioner who has not attained this wisdom does not understand the Dharma. Therefore, every day, whether we recite sutras, make prostrations to the Buddha, conduct pilgrimages, or what, all these are merely assisting conditions, which means that they are causal conditions that help us in our practice. In Tibetan Buddhism, if we genuinely wish to cultivate and comprehend the wisdom of Emptiness spoken of by the Buddha, then we must devote at least ten years to practicing Exoteric Buddhism; only once we have this foundation can we begin to receive transmission of Tantra.

“The term ‘Exoteric’ refers the theoretical foundation underlying all of the Buddha’s teachings, so practicing Tantra without first practicing Exoteric Buddhism would be very dangerous. To put it in simpler terms, when building a house, if you do not erect it upon a firm foundation, then it is liable to topple. In other words, without building a foundation, there will never be a house. Thus, what this means is that exoteric teachings are the foundation of Buddhism, and that we can only build the rest of the ‘house’ and begin to learn Tantra once we have this foundation. We cannot learn Tantra just because we want to; we must first perfectly integrate and comprehend the Dharmas and principles taught by Shakyamuni Buddha. Therefore, in Tibet, disciples wishing to learn Tantra have to show their guru that they possess the necessary conditions and qualities before they can even begin.

“So, where did the Diamond Sutra come from? It originated in the Buddha’s teachings written in Chapter Nine: The Vajra Cutter Perfection of Wisdom, of the Great Prajna Sutra. The entire sutra is written about the wisdom of Emptiness, which means that it took Shakyamuni Buddha twenty-two years to teach us this concept in terms we humans could understand. However, dispite His having taught it for such a long time, there are still many who cannot understand it. Why? It is because this ‘Emptiness’ of which the Buddha spoke is not a myth, nor is it some non-existent thing; it encompasses all the myriad fundamental phenomena that arise throughout the universe. In His great wisdom, the Buddha saw the true nature of the universe, so He drew from His experience in cultivation to tell us that we must cultivate Emptiness. However, in our human and life experience, we cannot realize Emptiness, nor can we comprehend what it is.

“Many people think ‘Emptiness’ means ‘nothing’, but that is not true. The Buddha expounded the Great Prajna Sutra for twenty-two years to explain the concept of Emptiness, but even if you read it, recited it, or even memorized it, you would still not be able to realize Emptiness unless through actual cultivation. It took the Buddha so long to expound this sutra, which contains a total of six hundred scrolls. Their central concept was ‘prajna’, which represents the wisdom of Emptiness. Thus, every sect and every order of Buddhism places great importance on the Diamond Sutra—especially Zen Buddhism, all of the tenets of which are based on it. What is the reason for this? It is because of the Sixth Patriarch Huineng, who achieved attainment through the Diamond Sutra, so beginning with him, anyone wishing to cultivate Zen has had the opportunity to come in contact with this sutra.

“What does a ‘diamond’ represent? It signifies something that is both ‘very solid’ and ‘very sharp’. ‘Very solid’ implies that nothing can destroy it, which means that once you have attained the wisdom of Emptiness, nothing can destroy you. ‘Very sharp’ means that after you have reached that state, there is nothing that you cannot cut through and break away from, such as all your afflictions. Therefore, ‘prajna’ is the wisdom of Emptiness and the possession of this solidness and sharpness. Its solidness implies that the innate Emptiness of prajna is indestructible and without tangible substance, but that does not refer to nothingness; it means that all phenomena arise from conditions and are empty in nature. This is why we say that ‘the wisdom of true phenomena is the realization that all things are empty in nature’, and without causes and conditions, they cannot come into existence. Thus, there has to be a reason for something to happen, including destruction and disappearance; nothing disappears naturally without a cause. Sharpness refers to how prajna can be ‘used’. If we want to benefit sentient beings, with the Dharma, then we must use the wisdom of Emptiness. Why is that? If you do not comprehend Emptiness, then you of course will not understand cause and condition and the law of causality. As such, you will not be able to realize the source of all the causes and conditions of sentient beings. Therefore, ‘Empty of nature’ refers to the fact that no phenomenon is self-arising, so its nature is Emptiness. This means that all phenomena come into existence when the causes and conditions arise, and disappear when those causes and conditions cease. Once we understand this concept, we can break away from all of our afflictions, and will no longer cling to attachments.

“‘Nothing is lacking’ means that when you can realize Emptiness, you will be able to comprehend and realize many things and give rise to a sense of the existence and non-existence of things. For example, during this morning’s empowerment, you saw non-existence, because you were unable to see the yidam. By way of certain causes and conditions, your guru explained the yidam’s existence, and that made you sense it. However, where did this come from? It came from your thoughts. Was there any substance to it? No. Therefore, ‘nothing is lacking’ also implies that all phenomena are produced by the actions of ‘mental factors’ of our nerves. Thus, if we can see clearly that ‘nothing is lacking’ with the nature of Emptiness, we can then visualize Prajna wisdom with our pure nature.

“What does ‘Paramita’ mean? If we want to be reborn in the Buddha’s Land (the opposite shore) after this lifetime, we have to practice Paramita. Moreover, if we have not realized Emptiness, we will not be capable of reaching the opposite shore. The Diamond Sutra teaches us that if we can realize this Emptiness, then we can help ourselves and others to break away from the suffering of reincarnation and, with diamond-like wisdom, be liberated from birth and death. Helping sentient beings reach the nirvana shore of ‘true phenomena being Prajna’ is tantamount to helping them go to the Buddha’s Land and attain Buddhahood. For this reason, this sutra is also called the Diamond Prajna Paramita Sutra.

“In the Han tradition, there are seven different translations of this sutra, of which the one by Kumārajīva is the earliest and also the most popular these days. Many people think reciting the Diamond Sutra will make them very powerful, but this is not true; actually, you first have to gain an understanding of the concept of Emptiness. If you cannot truly practice, then for you, this sutra will be nothing more than a book full of teachings that you cannot use. When I say, ‘truly practice’, what do I mean? I mean genuinely using the Dharma in practical manner to amend all your behavior that would lead you to reincarnate. Thus, after I orally transmit this sutra today, when the right causes and conditions arise, I will explain its true significance. Furthermore, without taking refuge and diligently learning the Dharma, you will have a very hard time understanding the Diamond Sutra.

“Now, all believers and disciples may open up your copies of the sutra. Where is the wooden-fish block?” Rinpoche then turned and asked a monastic, “Are you very tired?” She replied, “No, Rinpoche.” Rinpoche said, “Did you think I wouldn’t see you yawn? Go ahead and leave now; stand outside. Interpreter, please tell the Japanese attendees that I asked her to leave because I saw her yawning. Everyone thinks that because I am seventy-two years old, I must have poor eyesight, but I could see just fine that she was very skilled at surreptitiously yawning. She is a monastic, but she does not cultivate in earnest, so she is not qualified to listen to the Dharma in the Great Hall. I will begin to recite from the text in Chinese, but you Japanese believers are welcome to recite along in Japanese. It’s even fine if you recite slowly; you might not be able to keep up with me. Let us begin.”

Rinpoche orally transmitted the Diamond Sutra, reciting at a very quick pace without stopping. As he did so, all of the attendees could feel the earth shake—a sign proving the rarity and auspiciousness of this puja.

Rinpoche said, “Now that I have orally transmitted the Diamond Sutra to you, you will be able to recite it, either in Japanese or Chinese.

“‘Part One: Convocation of the Assembly’. The sutra reads, ‘Thus I have heard.’

“The first line of any sutra is usually ‘Thus I have heard’. The ‘I’ here does not refer to us readers; it is an arhat, one of the Buddha’s disciples, who is speaking. After Shakyamuni Buddha entered Nirvana, his five hundred arhat disciples got together and wrote down all of the Dharmas they had heard Him teach. Because there were no computers or sound recorders back then, and the Buddha did not allow them to take notes during the pujas, they had to write it all down later. I make the same rule when I speak the Dharma every week in Taiwan; attendees are not allowed to take notes. After the pujas, some of my disciples write down what I have said from memory, but I always look over what they have written to make sure they have not remembered incorrectly.

“Therefore, ‘thus I have heard’ means ‘this is how I heard it said’—but why is the word ‘heard’ used instead of ‘listened’? It is because to listen is an act, whereas to ‘hear’, in this sense, is a phenomenon that occurs while in a state of samadhi. People practicing Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s method all know how he attained enlightenment: By way of entering the state in which both hearing and what was heard disappeared. In modern terms, the word ‘hear’ in this context means taking control over the nerve clusters in charge of our sense of hearing. If we hear an external or internal sound and these nerves do not move, then we will not give rise to this sense of hearing. Everyone who has practiced meditation knows that if you have genuinely entered a deep state of meditation, then you will not hear any sounds around you, because your ‘hearing’ is not engaged.

“Thus, the first line of the sutra tells us very clearly that the person telling of Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings did not simply listen to Him, but actually heard the Dharma while in samadhi. Why do I not put up with people who fall asleep while attending my pujas? It is because when you are asleep, you can neither listen nor hear, and are therefore liable to fall into a doubtful frame of mind when it comes to Buddhism. Therefore, all of Shakyamuni Buddha’s disciples, who were arhats, received His teachings by way of these samadhi ‘hearing factors’. This was the equivalent of storing information in the cloud to be used at a later date. If we merely record some information with our cell phones, but do not store it in the cloud, then one day all that data could be overloaded and get wiped from our phones, and it will disappear. Hopefully this analogy can help you to gain some sense of what this means.

“So, the words, ‘I have heard’ imply taking responsibility for this knowledge. That is, ‘in writing down these words, I am faithfully repeating what I heard the Buddha say while I was in samadhi, so I take full responsibility for any causes and effects that result from what I write.’ There is a Buddhist precept that everyone must vow to keep when taking refuge: The precept against false speech. What does this mean? If you claim to have listened to the Dharma when you really have not, that is false speech, and the karmic retribution for it is to fall into the Animal Realm. Therefore, this line means, ‘I have heard the Dharmas spoken by Shakyamuni Buddha, and I am now repeating them, so I take full responsibility for these causes and effects.’ As you all know, there are no arhats in the world anymore. Arhats had to first reach the Fourth Meditative Heaven and attain the state of samadhi, so what they ‘heard’ was not heard with their ears or through active listening; they use their ‘hearing factors’.

“The sutra reads, ‘Once, the Buddha was residing at Jetavana in Shravasti.’

“‘Once’ here means this happened at an unknown time. In ancient India, people did not record dates very clearly. Even though we call it one of the great ancient civilizations, they did not write down history very clearly, right down to the exact year, month, and day something happened, the way people in China and Japan did. Instead, ancient Indians passed on such knowledge by way of oral tradition. It is simply written that at one point, the Buddha was in Shravasti. Where is that? It still exists to this day, in India; I have been there twice. It is a place in which the Buddha lived and expounded the Dharma for about twenty of His later years. Because my guru, His Holiness, built a Shakyamuni Buddha memorial hall there, I have taken five hundred of my disciples there on pilgrimages, twice.

“Jetavana is still there, but all the houses are now gone; only their foundations remain. That place is also very special. Why? As you know, there are a lot of monkeys in India, and there are a bunch there, too. However, Jetavana’s monkeys are very strange in that they do not run up and try to grab things from people; they just sit there, very well-behaved. If you offer something to them, they will approach you, but if you don’t, they just sit there. Thus, in Shakyamuni Buddha’s former place of residence, even the animals are well-mannered. You, on the other hand, do not behave yourselves when entering a Buddhist temple; you are not even as good as monkeys. I have seen this with my own eyes. All those years ago, a great lay practitioner made an offering of Jetavana as a place to live for Shakyamuni Buddha and His 1200 disciples. In the future, I will return there if His Holiness asks me to, and if you are given the opportunity to go with me, we can go over and have a look together.

“The sutra reads, ‘…with an assembly of twelve hundred and fifty great Bhikkhus.’

“In these first few lines, the people present were introduced because they would have to be responsible for the causes and effects of passing these teachings down later on. Thus, the arhats wrote that Shakyamuni Buddha said these things, and stated where they were spoken and who were in attendance at the time—they were ‘great Bhikkhus’. As we know, there are three types of monastics: Shamis, Bhikkhus, and Bhikkhunis. This line states that these were ‘great Bhikkhus’, which meant Bhikkhus who had received and observed 250 precepts and, very clearly, had never broken any of them. There were 1,250 of them, and they were all Shakyamuni Buddha’s disciples who remained by His side.

“The sutra reads, ‘One day, at mealtime, the World Honored One put on His robe, took His alms-bowl, and entered the great city of Shravasti to beg for food.’

“This refers to when it was time to eat. In that day and age, monastics did not prepare their own food; they went from house to house begging for it every day. Some of Shakyamuni Buddha’s disciples specifically went to beg for alms from the rich, while others begged from the poor. If you are poor, and you offer monastics food, you will have good fortune in the future. Going to beg for alms in a wealthy neighborhood meant giving rich people an opportunity to make offerings so that they could have even more money in the future with which to support Buddhist activities. The Buddha said, ‘No, this is wrong; you may not beg for alms in this manner.’ He therefore established a precept only allowing each monastic to beg for food from three houses per day; if, after the third house, the monastic still had not been successful, then he would go hungry and return home to sit in meditation, for it meant he did not possess enough good fortune to receive food that day. This became a rule in ancient times. However, nowadays no one follows it; even those Hinayana practitioners in Thailand and Sri Lanka, do not follow this rule anymore.

“He ‘put on His robe’ and ‘took His alms bowl’. When begging for alms, one does not just wear any old set of clothing; it is important to put on one’s best Dharma vestments and kasaya, and carry a bowl. You may have noticed that Shakyamuni Buddha holds a bowl in His hand; this tells you that He used it to beg for food back then. What was its purpose? It was used to receive people’s offerings. After such offerings went into His bowl, this signified that He would help these people to cultivate to perfect completion in His bowl.

“‘…And entered the great city of Shravasti to beg for food.’ There he went from house to house, begging for food.

“The sutra reads, ‘After begging from door to door, He returned to His residence, and when He had taken His meal, the Buddha put away His robe and bowl. He then washed His feet, arranged His seat, and sat down.’

“‘After begging from door to door, He returned to His residence.’ This meant there was an order to these actions; the Buddha begged at one house at a time, and then returned to His place of residence. That meant He did not beg for food somewhere and then plonk Himself down on the ground and eat it in front of someone’s doorway; not at all. He had to go back to where he lived first. Eating people’s food offerings in front of their houses that way is not allowed; it goes against the precepts. The Buddha therefore returned home and ate in His own abode. Once He was finished eating, He put away His robe and bowl. Also, He did not eat with a casual manner, because this food was an offering He had received; He was not eating to feed His physical body, but on behalf of the people who had given it to Him. At the same time, He was making an offering on their behalf to the Three Jewels, which was why He had to wear His best Dharma robe. This is the origin of ‘Meal Offering for the Sangha’.

“‘He washed His feet’—This was because in ancient India, very few people wore shoes, and even those who did wore only simple ones; people’s feet therefore often got muddy. We, too, have experienced this on our visits to Shravasti; other than a few paved main streets, all the roads are dirt, because it is an agricultural area. Only after the Buddha washed His feet did He arrange the Dharma seat and begin to speak the Dharma.

“This is just a brief overview.

“Part Two: Subhuti’s Request

“The sutra reads, ‘At that time, the elder Subhuti, who was in the assembly, rose from his seat, uncovered his right shoulder, knelt upon his right knee, and respectfully joined his palms together before addressing the Buddha.’

“Subhuti had come forward to implore the Dharma, which is why it is tradition in Tibetan Buddhism for someone to do so before the Dharma can be transmitted; this custom was passed down from the time of Shakyamuni Buddha. That does not mean, though, that whenever you feel like hearing it, you can just say, ‘Hey, come here and tell me about the Dharma.’ That won’t do; you must implore for the Dharma with great reverence. What was an ‘elder’? It did not refer to an elderly person; an elder was a representative of lay practitioners. In simpler terms, he was a person who had done very well in his cultivation, so his acting as a representative meant he was qualified to teach others how to practice Buddhism. The elder mentioned here had the name of Subhuti; he was one of the people attending the puja. He first stood and ‘uncovered his right shoulder’; this is an Indian custom. He took his arm out of his right sleeve, leaving his shoulder bare. This is why in Chinese, Japanese, and Tibetan Buddhism we still, to this day, leave our right shoulders bare and cover up our left. He then ‘knelt upon his right knee’, meaning on the ground; ‘…and respectfully joined his palms together’—this part does not need any explanation. ‘…Before addressing the Buddha’—these lines show how he implored the Dharma.

“I wanted to take a moment to explain today so that you understand that if we want to hear the Dharma, it is not a simple matter of turning on a recording and listening; that doesn’t count, and watching someone speak of the Dharma on television doesn’t either. What is spoken on such shows is just a sort of common knowledge; all you want to know is what they are saying. To truly hear the Dharma, you have to abide by the rules outlined in the sutras, which detail when and where the Dharma is spoken, who had implored it and for what reason, and so on; only then can you genuinely hear the Dharma. Thus, why should we support temples? It is because they are places in which the Dharma is spoken; for this same reason, we should support certain cultivation centers. The Dharma cannot be spoken in just any ordinary residence. Why is it said that supporting a temple brings great merits? If you support a temple, you are allowing it to continue to transmit its lineage as a location in which offerings can be made before Buddha statues and to monastics, as well as the presiding guru. As such, you will gain great merits, and this is why people have been urged to donate to temples since ancient times. You may obtain good fortune by making offerings to the temple—not because it is a building, but because the building’s purpose is to promote Buddhism. Thus, as you can see, whenever the Buddha spoke the Dharma, He always did it after He had returned to His place of residence. Where was that? It was wherever He expounded the teachings that were later written down in the sutras. I have been there, so I know that that house of His was rather large; inside was a room in which He slept, and outside was a platform from which He delivered His teachings. Therefore, one must have a set place in which to speak the Dharma; it is not okay to simply go around speaking it anywhere, for that would be wrong. That is all I will explain about this for now.

“Has that person woken up yet? As you all can see, even at the ripe old age of seventy-two, I am still in better health than you are. I won’t talk about this sutra anymore today; if I do, I’ll talk you all to sleep, and that won’t do anyone any good. Due to todays’s auspicious merits, I am gifting Abbot Ogawa with a copy of the Diamond Sutra. This copy is rather special, as it is part of a collection of prints from the National Palace Museum in Taiwan of a Diamond Sutra originally written in the Ming Dynasty in gold ink. The National Palace Museum had these printed, and this is the last copy; it is no longer available anywhere for sale. I am giving the abbot this copy so that he can keep it here in the temple.

“In the future, therefore, if the opportunity presents itself, I might be able to come here and continue introducing you to the contents of the Diamond Sutra. Now we will perform Dharma Protector Achi’s Ritual. In Tibetan Buddhism, we usually perform the ritual of the Dharma protectors at the conclusion of any puja. Why is that? It is to thank them for their having safeguarded today’s puja, which has gone so smoothly and without any hindrances. At the same time, it is an act of supplication to the Dharma protector to safeguard this place and all the people who have come here to listen to the Dharma.

“Today we are performing the ritual of Dharma Protector Achi, an uncommon protector of the Drikung Kagyu Order. This means one whose ritual is not commonly practiced in Tibetan Orders. Achi was the grandmother of our Order’s founding father, Lord Jigten Sumgon. Also known as the Achi Tara, she attained Buddhahood during her lifetime, and upon her death, she did not leave her physical body in this world. Instead, she transformed her body into a rainbow light and then left for her own Pure Land; in Tibetan Buddhism, this is known as a ‘rainbow light body’. Some people might think this to be a myth, but it is not; it can actually be done. Both before and after Achi’s time, such occurrences have frequently been witnessed in Tibet. Achi’s vow was to protect the Drikung Kagyu Order, and because she was Lord Jigten Sumgon’s grandmother, she also vowed to always keep safe any disciple of this Order, as well as to help the Drikung Kagyu to flourish. Each Order of Tibetan Buddhism has its own Dharma protectors. In Exoteric Buddhism, Dharma Protector Achi is known as a Tara, and in Tantra she is called Vajravarahi. Thus, she has attained the fruition of a Buddha. As Drikung Kagyu disciples, we all practice her Dharma method every day, but that does not simply mean we receive her protection; it also means our Buddhist practice is protected from hindrances. For example, such things as keeping us from dozing off during pujas require Achi’s assistance. Because we are still just ordinary people, it is very easy for us to become exhausted and fall asleep.

“That everything has gone so perfectly and smoothly during today’s puja is also thanks to Abbot Ogawa for inviting me to come here and preside over it. I also am grateful to you Japanese believers for attending. It was due to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s compassion that many people had the causal conditions to come here today, even though it is not a Sunday, and participate in this Tantric puja. I hope that this will provide you all with great causes and conditions to practice Buddhism in the future. It is also my hope that today’s puja will help your good fortune to rise. We also pray that Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara will bless you all with peace, prosperity, and good health, and that this place and this country will flourish in all regards. Thank you, everyone. Amitabha.”

Upon the perfect completion of the puja, the attendees thanked His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for compassionately performing the Dharma and bestowing such auspicious teachings that had benefited countless sentient beings. Rising to their feet, they all paid reverent homage as the guru descended from the Dharma throne.

The Puja Comes to a Perfect Completion, and Sentient Beings Sing Joyful Praise

After the puja drew to an auspicious end, the believers and disciples all clasped their palms together respectfully and lined up to see H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche off. They all felt happy and excited at having participated in the day’s puja. Rinpoche had performed the Dharma continuously without tiring, compassionately blessing all believers and tourists who had come to worship at the temple by touching their heads one by one with the vajra. Some waited for these blessings in line, while others ran forward to receive them. All of them were overjoyed, and were also very happy to see others receive blessings as well. Every time Rinpoche goes overseas to promote the Dharma, people of all walks, creeds, and nationalities gain a sense of his awe-inspiring power, and come to implore for his blessings. Rinpoche’s compassionate magnificence had caused everyone present to feel deeply moved!

Abbot Ogawa also mentioned that the Japanese believers in attendance shared their experience that while participating in the puja, they could sense just how unfathomable this master practitioner’s power was.

Rinpoche grasped Abbot Ogawa’s hand, blessing him. Abbot Ogawa indicated that he felt a wave of warmth flow directly into his heart.

Abbot Ogawa gave Rinpoche a respectful send-off, showing his deep sincerity and earnestness in both word and deed.

After the puja, Abbot Ogawa Yuushou of Onsenji Temple shared his thoughts:

“I still have not been able to contain my excitement that such a great Rinpoche has come to our temple; I never dreamed that this would happen.

“When Rinpoche came here last year, before I even mentioned anything, he told me many things about this statue of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. I was quite surprised at how much he understands about this region. I am an abbot, and have all along been telling the residents of this area about Avalokiteshvara’s merits, but I never knew just how many people believed me. However, then this outsider came—a Rinpoche, though at the time, he was just wearing civilian clothes—and confirmed for me that what I knew and had learned of Avalokiteshvara’s merits was indeed real. It was truly remarkable.

“Furthermore, I also was very moved by the power Rinpoche gave me, which cannot be described with words. I am so grateful to him for coming here today and presiding over this puja on a grander scale than I could even dream of and which I’d never witnessed in my life. Most temples can never have such an experience, so this has surpassed my imagination, and I am filled with gratitude. These are all wonderful blessings for the people and everything else in the surrounding area. I felt an inexpressible gratitude toward Rinpoche and told him so, but he merely replied with a smile. I never could have guessed that he would also give me so many things: Vajra knots and nectar pills, not to mention the statue of Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara. I simply had no idea how exactly I could accept such amazing gifts. When I asked Rinpoche what made me worthy of being given these things—because, to tell the truth, I felt unworthy—he said moderately that this puja had come about not just due to this lifetime’s affinities, but because of the connection he had shared with Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara in past lives as well. Rinpoche said that giving us these things was a normal thing to do, because the very nature of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is generosity. Putting it in such simple yet profound terms moved me even more, and my eyes brimmed with tears. How exactly could I repay this debt of kindness I owe to Rinpoche, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas? Rinpoche then calmly went on to mention that he was merely serving as a bridge between Avalokiteshvara and local believers, and that there must be a connection between him and me, and it’s not from this lifetime, but from a previous one. How did this connection come about? Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara had brought us together.

“This is nothing less than a miracle! A miracle that Rinpoche brought with him; one he created! It is also because of Rinpoche and Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara that this sort of puja could be held, and we are all incomparably fortunate to have taken part in it. I cannot find words to describe just how lucky I feel to have received all these gifts and teachings from Rinpoche. I feel incomparably happy and fortunate.

“I keep wondering why he has been so good to me and given me so many things. Even though he has told me over and over that it is due to the chain of causal conditions that have formed this affinity between him and me in lifetimes present and past, I feel that this is beyond my comprehension; I truly cannot grasp it, and I am absolutely overwhelmed. I simply am unable to calm my excitement enough to describe how I am feeling.

“When I shook Rinpoche’s hand and wished him good health and to take care, he said he always had good health because of his cultivation, and would continue to be healthy into the future. Because he was still holding my hand, I implored him to bless me with some of his vitality. I had only said these words out of politeness, without really thinking about them, yet suddenly I felt a wave of warmth flow into my hand and through my entire body. When Rinpoche asked me if I could feel it, I said, ‘Yes, yes, yes, I can.’ He then calmly said, ‘Bye bye.’ This truly was unfathomable; I wondered how such a powerful person as Rinpoche could be so natural, friendly, and approachable. Generally speaking, people in such positions tend to seem rather distant, but Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is a very down-to-earth man. Moreover, he did not grip my palm tightly; he simply tapped it lightly, and poom, that warmth flowed up through me from the soles of my feet. I seriously could not believe it. This was not a superpower; it was evidence that he had attained a very profound state of samadhi and enlightenment, so that resonance of warmth was a sign of his tremendous fruition.”

An Introduction to Onsenji Temple and the Puja

Onsenji is a thirteen-hundred-year-old mountain temple, and was named the “Guardian Temple of Kinosaki Hot Springs” by Emperor Shomu in the eighth century. For the past 1300 years, it has continued to protect the hot springs and their visitors. The main yidam worshiped in the main hall of the temple is Eleven-Faced Avalokiteshvara, and this statue is a valuable Japanese cultural artifact with 1300 years of history. It was carved from a single piece of cypress wood. Locals called it Kinosaki, and later the entire district was named after this statue of Avalokiteshvara.(Onsenji Temple —

The yidam, Eleven-Faced Avalokiteshvara, enshrined in the Great Hall of Compassion

Abbot Ogawa Yuushou implored the Dharma from His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, who compassionately consented. Due to this causal condition, Rinpoche granted the authorization and empowerment to perform Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s Dharma method, and orally transmitted the Diamond Sutra, in order to lessen and even eliminate the attendees’ hindrances to practicing Buddhism and so that they could accumulate the resources of good fortune and merits, thus helping sentient beings with affinities who had genuinely aspired to cultivate.

Onsenji Temple printed a special pamphlet of information about this auspicious puja.

Onsenji Temple’s official website(

Abbot Ogawa Yuushou had gone out of his way to prepare a special lounge room in the temple for Rinpoche, and expressed his apologies that he had only been able to provide an antiquated room instead of a modern one with new facilities. Rinpoche had encouraged the abbot by saying that he himself is currently building a temple, and that it takes great effort to either maintain an ancient temple or construct a brand new one. He also mentioned that upkeeping a thousand-year-old temple is a very arduous task.

Auspicious Signs that Manifested Before and After the Puja

The day before the puja, after Rinpoche performed some preparatory rituals, an auspicious sign in the form of a rainbow halo around the sun had manifested in the clear blue sky.

After the puja was over, that same evening, Abbot Ogawa and the disciples from Taiwan had all simultaneously seen a halo around the moon. The abbot gasped, “After I had finished making offerings to the yidam in the temple, I glanced out through the window and saw a halo around the moon—something I had never before seen. It is a full moon today, so it was extremely bright. I am extremely moved by Rinpoche’s merits. Also, you all just happened to look up and see the same moonlight at the same time, so for this we should all think about the guru fondly and with gratitude! To be allowed to participate a puja presided over by such a great Rinpoche, all we can do is feel grateful, for nothing else compares!”


By the day after the puja, a Japanese-styled appearance had already been restored to the mandala in the main hall of Onsenji Temple. Abbot Ogawa said that Rinpoche had given special instructions for the statue of Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara to be placed in a location where Japanese believers could have a clear view of it. The abbot had followed Rinpoche’s and the Khenpo’s guidance to set up the mandala, and had placed the Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara statue right in the center of the Great Hall of Compassion, facing the middle door. There it was clearly visible from every entry point.

Abbot Ogawa described Rinpoche as miraculously unfathomable and very awe-inspiring, and said the guru had given him a great deal of energy. Although the believers had only met Rinpoche for the first time the day before, while participating in the puja, and had struggled to understand some of the content of the guru’s teachings through the help of an interpreter, they had all gained a sense for how wonderfully remarkable Rinpoche is. After the puja, they had all felt full of energy, and were extremely grateful to him.

Wherever His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche goes, as long as he is able to benefit sentient beings, he always puts his all into it, selflessly and completely. The statue of Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara he gifted now sits solemnly in the center of Onsenji Temple’s Great Hall of Compassion, where it and the statue of Eleven-Faced Avalokiteshvara behind it jointly protect this land.

Related Link

Japan media report (Daily News)
Precious Photo

Updated on May 29, 2019