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His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche Leads Disciples to Phyang Monastery in Ladakh, India to Participate in the Pujas Presided Over by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang and Pay Him Birthday Well-Wishes

Under direct instructions from His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, on July 30, 2019, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led approximately 200 disciples from the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to the Phyang Monastery in Ladakh of northern India to participate in the pujas which would be presided over by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang himself, and would include the Teaching of Bodhicitta Precepts, a Great Drikung Phowa, and an Amitayus Empowerment Puja, as well as to pay His Holiness birthday well-wishes.

July 30, 2019 (Tuesday)

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led approximately 200 disciples from the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to Delhi, India, where they arrived in the early afternoon.

At 6 p.m., the disciples reverently welcomed Rinpoche at an evening banquet. After Rinpoche took his seat, he bestowed the disciples with nuts that had been blessed. After the meal, he warmly advised his disciples that after they arrived in Ladakh the next day, everyone would need to get a good rest, and that they should eat until about seventy-percent full. He also said that as they had gotten up early that morning, they must make sure to get enough sleep to avoid altitude sickness.

Rinpoche also bestowed 13 disciples whose birthdays were all in July with bouquets of roses, and they celebrated joyfully as the birthday song was sung.

July 31, 2019 (Wednesday)

On July 31, under the dim light of the first glimmers of dawn, Rinpoche led the disciples to Ladakh in two groups. Upon entering the plane cabin, Rinpoche could be seen seated in the first seat by the entrance, tirelessly blessing each disciple who got on the plane with his gaze. A guru’s unconstrained care for his disciples knows no restrictions of time nor place; it is ubiquitous.

As the plane gained altitude, the towering, majestic Himalayan Mountains came into view: mountain peaks near and far, interconnected and overlapping; snow-capped summits, brilliant and white; and green vegetation, sparse and subtle. During the flight, disciples saw the reflection of the plane through their windows projected onto a cloud-bank, and it was surrounded by a rainbow halo, as though the light of the Buddha was protecting Rinpoche and them along their journey to Leh. The disciples marveled and were moved; it was all thanks to the compassionate blessings and guidance of their guru that they were getting the opportunity to participate in these important Drikung Kagyu pujas.

When their flight arrived at the Leh capital city airport in Ladakh at around 9 O’clock, local Buddhists welcomed Rinpoche’s arrival while dressed in gorgeous and colorful traditional garb and with khata held out with both hands. There was music and drumming, and in the moment, the scene was lively and bustling. One by one, Rinpoche bestowed blessings on the masses that lined the street.

Rinpoche bestowing blessings one by one on believers that lined the street to welcome his flight.

Rinpoche blessing believers welcoming him at his hotel.

At this time, an auspicious sun halo omen appeared in the sky over Leh, in a spectacle that was marvelous and stunning. Distinct and magnificent, it took up most of the sky. The sun halo symbolizes the backlight of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, bathing the Earth and blessing all sentient beings of the Six Realms; wherever this great practitioner may be, all of the Bodhisattvas and heavenly beings give their blessings, protection, and praise, with limitless merits!

When Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche arrived at the airport in Ladakh, an auspicious sun halo omen appeared in the sky over Leh.

When leaving the airport, Rinpoche instructed the ordained disciples to ride together in the same Jeep to their hotel. On the way, they saw the locals put their palms together in reverence to Rinpoche. Rinpoche explained to the ordained disciples that the locals acted with such respect because they knew of his esteem and realization — whereas they, the disciples, did not, and thus didn’t show him proper respect.

During dinner, Rinpoche granted the disciples the opportunity to eat with him. As they sat to the meal, Rinpoche repeatedly blessed food and nectar water and bestowed it to the disciples. There were many disciples with altitude sickness whose symptoms were alleviated in succession after they consumed the blessed food and nectar water.

August 1, 2019 (Thursday)

The Drikung Kagyu Order first spread to the Ladakh region in the 11th century, and by the 16th century, its influence was growing by the day. Phyang Monastery is the Drikung Kagyu Order’s most important temple in Ladakh with the longest history. Over the course of hundreds of years, it has long since become the primary faith center among the local residents.

Phyang Monastery is the Drikung Kagyu Order’s most important temple in Ladakh with the longest history.

At 8:30 a.m., led by Rinpoche, the Glorious Jewel disciples set off for Phyang Temple via approximately 60 Jeeps to attend the duodecennial Drikung Year of Pig Grand Puja. When they arrived at the temple, just as the day before, a gigantic auspicious sun halo omen appeared in the sky, with a rainbow halo around its outer edges visible to the naked eye.

The morning of the Phyang Monastery Puja, a giant auspicious sun halo omen appeared in the sky.

Along the ramp next to the monastery, the disciples of the Glorious Jewel disciples respectfully welcomed the arrival of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang and His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. His Holiness’s car entered the venue first, followed closely by Rinpoche’s car.

Lama Wangge, director of Phyang Monastery, and local gentry respectfully presenting khata to Rinpoche; Rinpoche blessing them with a vajra in hand

As the puja began, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche followed closely behind His Holiness, and after His Holiness ascended the main Dharma throne of the mandala, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche sat in the first seat to the left of the throne, and the Order’s regent Tritsab Rinpoche sat in the first seat to the right—each in the closest seats to His Holiness. The Dharma seats and Dharma tables to the left and right of the main throne were of equal height and opposite-facing.

His Holiness bestowed precious teachings:

“In Tibetan Buddhism, there are 3 important pujas held every 12 years for the Year of the Snake, the Year of the Monkey, and the Year of the Pig. This year, 2019, it is the grand puja of the Year of the Pig. The themes for the two days of the puja are teachings on Bodhicitta and Bodhi acts, and the teaching of Bodhicitta Precepts.”

“Our founder Lord Jigten Sumgon once said that bodhicitta is a kind of true protection for practitioners. When practitioners give rise to bodhicitta, they wish for the liberation for all sentient beings, and even their own enemies. Practitioners should view everything as impermanent, and realize all good acts and bad karma from this lifetime will carry on to the next; if they can plant seeds of bodhicitta and let bodhicitta arise in themselves until they realize Buddhahood, they will attain eternal bliss. The first thing one must do to generate bodhicitta is take refuge under a meritorious guru; the practitioner must visualize that his guru and the Buddha are no different, and regularly practices Seven Branch Offerings.” During his teachings, His Holiness repeatedly brought up the importance of Seven Branch Offerings.

He continued, “Sincere aspiration in one’s offerings is of utmost and central importance. When you are of right thought and intention, all that you do is right. Practitioners must have the right mindset, and enact every right deed.”

“The fundamentals of bodhicitta are compassion and refuge; we must treat all sentient beings as though they were our own mothers, helping them part from suffering and be delivered to happiness, and escape the seas of suffering of reincarnation. We pray for the ears and the blessings of our gurus and all of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the ten directions. We have accepted Bodhi teachings, and initiated bodhicitta, thus making it so we can further devote ourselves to maintaining balance of compassion, kindness, joy, and generosity. We should view our gurus and the Buddha are no different. The Venerable Atisha said:, ‘View your guru as a Buddha, and you will have a Buddha’s blessings; view your guru as a Bodhisattva, and you will have a Bodhisattva’s blessings; view your guru as a mortal, and you will have mortal’s blessings.’”

Glorious Jewel disciples were respectfully received by the temple and given special seating area.

His Holiness also revealed, “ The reasons for one’s bodhicitta to be destroyed: one, not repenting; two, deceiving a Tantra guru; and three, committing a wicked bodhicitta precept-destroying act. The first kind of wicked act is criticizing someone committed to bodhicitta precepts; when you do this, you are destroying your own bodhicitta precepts. The second is stopping others from giving offerings or doing other good deeds, or criticizing those who do. The third is deceiving other people or sentient beings for one’s own fame or monetary benefit. Bodhicitta should be as solid as diamond, and indestructible; it is the beginning of perfect attainment and true realization.”

When His Holiness descended from his Dharma throne, Rinpoche was always quick to lend him support.

Rinpoche reverently attended to His Holiness as he entered his private lounge.

As Rinpoche’s car prepared to leave the grounds after the end of the puja, many Tibetans tended to the young and the elderly, and together they lined up beside Rinpoche’s car to request blessings. There was even an elderly individual who cast aside his cane and rushed into the crowd to try to get blessings from Rinpoche. To the locals, being able to meet a great practitioner in this lifetime is a rare and auspicious causal condition.

Rinpoche using a vajra to bless the lined up believers.

During dinner, Rinpoche once again bestowed all the disciples with the opportunity to eat together. As there were too many of them, they had to split up between two restaurants. Thus, Rinpoche specifically ordered that any disciples who hadn’t eaten with him the day before should trade places with those who had so that he could get a good look at each and every one of them.

As the disciples lined up to get their food, Rinpoche went to check on them, and discovered that they were being inconsiderate, and weren’t lining up in order. Thus, he berated them for taking as much as they wanted without thinking of the people in line behind them, and for not lining up properly.

After Rinpoche returned to his seat, he went on to admonish the male ordained disciples: “There’s no need for you to have so much food. Must you pile on portions of every kind of dish? Is it necessary that you satisfy yourselves completely without thinking about the people behind you? This is not how someone who is ordained should behave. Being ordained isn’t just about reciting scriptures; everything you do should reflect that you are ordained.” He also reprimanded the female ordained disciples: “And have you all just had it too good? The money for you ordained disciples to attend this puja came from all other disciples. And yet you are all the same, piling food onto your plates to your hearts’ desires. Is this how a religious group should look? Everyone is just wanting to be blessed!”

Rinpoche asked the disciples how many hotels they were divided amongst the last time they came to Ladakh. (They responded: 11.) Then, Rinpoche revealed that their travel agency had been preparing for this event for over a year so that everyone could stay at the same hotel. During the puja that day, there were 9 individuals who weren’t feeling well, and thus arrangements were made for medical personnel to look after them. Furthermore, Rinpoche even specially arranged for 24-hour care for them.

Afterwards, Rinpoche reprimanded three disciples, because when he entered the restaurant that morning they hadn’t paid attention to him, and hadn’t risen.

Rinpoche reproached them: “Are you VIPs? Everyone else is ready to go, and yet we have to send the tour leader in to search for you. I’m giving you 4 choices right now: one, you can go home first thing tomorrow, as there is no place for VIPs in a puja group; two, as you are VIPs after all, I can get you a private car so that you can come and go whenever you please; three, everyone can agree that from now on you will be the first to leave every morning; or four, you become realized Rinpoches, and then you can leave whenever you want.” Rinpoche then asked the disciples present: “Do you agree that they should be the first to leave each morning from now on?” (No one expressed agreement.)

Rinpoche also reprimanded the travel agency’s main tour leader: “In the future, have the cars leave on time. No waiting for people, even for a second.”

Rinpoche scolded Disciple Liu: “You’ve become arrogant because of your job in upper management. I’m sure you didn’t think I would arrive two minutes early. But don’t underestimate Dharma Protector Achi; with her help, I have seen what has happened, and what kind of attitude you have taken. Don’t think you can pull one over on me. I am 72 years old, and I have experienced things you cannot imagine on my path from a common person to realization as a Rinpoche. If you continue on this way, I will report you to His Holiness, and you won’t get to go to any future pujas. I fear nothing but cause and effect—but you fear nothing at all.”

Rinpoche went on:, “Who were the three sitting by the door and didn’t gather with the others?” Disciple Xiao came forward and reported that the other two were disciples in charge of Rinpoche’s meal preparation, Disciples Lin and Zhong. Rinpoche reprimanded Lin and Zhong: “You think that by preparing my meals you have given me offerings, and so you have become arrogant. But when I was in seclusion at Lapchi Snow Mountain, I lived off of plain noodles in water for three months, and could even go without meals.” Rinpoche also reproached Disciple Xiao, telling her that she shouldn’t have come if she didn’t have the stamina to keep up.

Rinpoche then instructed the tour leader to prepare two private cars for the 6 VIPs so that they could come and go as they pleased.

“Also, during today’s puja, attending disciple Lin was sitting directly behind me, and he fell asleep. He must have thought I wouldn’t find out since he was behind me. I just happened to turn around all of a sudden and see him sleeping. If I had had water, I would have thrown a bottle at him.”

Finally, Rinpoche warmly reminded everyone: “Cheer up when you’re eating; don’t look so anguished, or it will affect your digestion, and you’ll feel unwell all day during tomorrow’s puja. Also, everyone should finish your meals, otherwise the chefs will think we didn’t like what they prepared for us.”

During dinner, the hotel owner respectfully implored an audience with Rinpoche. He presented him with a group photo from another time when Rinpoche had come to Ladakh many years ago, and Rinpoche blessed him with a vajra and took a picture with him.

Hotel owner respectfully imploring an audience with Rinpoche.

August 2, 2019 (Friday)

At 9 a.m., as disciples respectfully welcomed Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche at the puja, they looked above and saw a giant auspicious sun halo omen had appeared in the sky above Phyang Monastery.

Rinpoche respectfully welcoming His Holiness.

Rinpoche respectfully attending to His Holiness as he ascended the Dharma throne.

Rinpoche respectfully prostrating himself before His Holiness on the Dharma throne.

As soon as the puja began, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the nearly 200 ordained and lay Glorious Jewel disciples in presenting mandala offerings to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang.

Rinpoche attended at His Holiness’s side, and led the disciples forth by the hands to receive blessings from him. His Holiness compassionately blessed the Glorious Jewel disciples’ heads one by one with a sutra book.

Arrangements had originally only been made for 10 Glorious Jewel disciple representatives to ascend the stage and make mandala offerings; however, Rinpoche was unwilling to leave any sentient being out, and thus all of the accompanying 200 disciples were given the chance to make mandala offerings to His Holiness, be blessed by his sutra book, and be bestowed vajra knots. All of these causal conditions and this karmic reward were due to Rinpoche’s total reverence and his offerings to His Holiness, as well as his ceaseless, wholehearted devotion to upholding the Order. The disciples were well aware that they don’t have such great karmic reward, nor have they given many great offerings. Rather, it was His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s karmic reward and merits that allowed them the good fortune of receiving blessings from His Holiness. And so, the disciples were endlessly grateful for this great benevolence from their guru.

After the mandala offering ritual, Rinpoche instructed the ordained disciples to make monetary offerings to the lamas in attendance.

Then, His Holiness bestowed everyone in attendance with precious teachings, and expounded the Bodhicitta Precepts.

“The three ways of receiving the Bodhicitta Precepts are: one, Bodhicitta; two, Bodhi acts; and three, Ultimate Bodhicitta. The difference between bodhicitta and Bodhi act is that one refers to one’s aspiration while the other is one’s actual actions. There are two kinds of conditions that allow one to access the teachings of bodhicitta: one is cause and condition as well as cause and effect, and the other is understanding that a guru transmitting the precepts and the Buddha are no different. Visualizing that your guru and the Buddha are no different is an essential prerequisite to achieving bodhicitta.

That afternoon, His Holiness ascended the Dharma throne again and revealed: “The teachings of aspiration to bodhicitta and the transmission of Bodhicitta Precepts have come to a perfect conclusion. These two things are the ultimate causal conditions for realizing Buddhahood. In simple terms, there are three kinds of precepts we must abide by: one, accumulating good karma, merits, causes and conditions; two, practicing the Six Paramitas; and three, benefiting and bringing joy to all sentient beings. We must do all that we can to help other sentient beings, and abide by the Five Precepts and Ten Meritorious Acts. When giving, we must make offerings that give others all that they need; we should always bring benefits and joy to all sentient beings—not just humans.”

“At its core, ‘do no evil’ means obeying the precepts taught by the Buddha. Ordained disciples abide by the precepts of the ordained while lay disciples practice the ways of the Ten Meritorious Acts, and the simple explanation is that this is to avoid harming others. Everything we do must conform to Bodhicitta. For example, when we eat, we must not have attachment to food; if we do, eating becomes a negative act. According to Mahayana Buddhism, food is simply a means for us to sustain our physical bodies and the parasites within them. Food nourishes them, and this is the simple intention one should have when eating. According to the ways of Vajrayana Buddhism, when we eat, we are making offerings to all of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas with food. Eating is an offering to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, just the same as visualizing one has become Avalokiteshvara.”

“If you have righteous thoughts, supreme joy, and reverence toward your precious gurus throughout your practice, then you will see virtuous originations everywhere. Furthermore, you will understand that the minds of your gurus are no different from the minds and consciousnesses of Buddhas past, present, and future.”

After teaching the Bodhicitta Precepts, His Holiness instructed that everyone in attendance link their ring fingers together to symbolize that they would never separate from their gurus until the time that they left the seas of suffering of reincarnation. Then, His Holiness stood up, and asked everyone to get up as well to symbolize departure from the seas of suffering of reincarnation.

After the puja ended, the Glorious Jewel disciples respectfully sent off Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s car as it left the venue. Many Tibetans squeezed through the crowd and ran forth to Rinpoche’s car to ask for blessings. Even after his car had already slowly began to move, devout Tibetans continued to run after it, reluctant to see him go. Rinpoche compassionately raised a vajra in the air and blessed them one by one, fulfilling the wishes of these sentient beings. To Tibetans, being able to see a great Rinpoche in person in this lifetime is already great karmic reward—not to mention being blessed by him.

During dinner, Rinpoche bestowed the disciples with the opportunity to eat together.

Rinpoche said: “The day after tomorrow is His Holiness’s birthday, and the memorial day of the Shakyamuni Buddha. Tomorrow, there will be an Amitayus Puja. During these two days, His Holiness taught the Bodhicitta Precepts and explained that bodhicitta is about practicing along the Bodhisattva Path. The Bodhicitta Precepts are no different from the Bodhisattva Precepts of Exoteric Buddhism; it is just that the Bodhicitta Precept rituals are more complex.”

“During these two years that I have been teaching the Ratnakuta Sutra, I have been clear that the Bodhisattva Path is the only path for lay disciples, as is it currently the only path for ordained disciples as well. You must practice along this path if you wish to escape the cycle of life and death in this lifetime. But how can you do this if you continue to hold your own personal views in your hearts, and are always neglecting the Thirty-Seven Practices of the Bodhisattvas? The Bodhisattva Path tells us we should want for nothing, and yet you want everything.”

“Today, when treating His Holiness to lunch, the disciples from the meal prep team prepared only two dishes with a bowl of soup, with only enough rice for a child. We couldn’t get through more than half a
bowl—not because there was too much, but because that’s all we could swallow. Do you eat meals with only two dishes? How many dishes did you have at the lunch buffet?” (The disciples answered: about a dozen.)

“The two disciples from the meal prep team only prepared two vegetable dishes because they were afraid of giving us more than we could finish.” Rinpoche said: “Why would the meal prep team think this? My analysis is: one, they are frugal spenders; two, they are too good to me, and are afraid of me eating too much and getting out of shape—but, actually, I stay in shape not by eating less, but by exercising; and three, when you aren’t sure about something, you can always ask. When you treat someone to a meal, do you give them nothing but a plate of green vegetables and another plate of white vegetables? This would be fine if it were only for me, but His Holiness was there too. Furthermore, they made excuses for their mistakes, saying they were afraid of making Rinpoche waste food.”

Rinpoche then instructed the main tour leader that as these two disciples were so worried about wasting food, and there were always leftovers from the buffet, they need not eat from the buffet. Rather, from that night forward, if the hotel kitchen was willing to allow it, they could order from a menu; and if not, they would have to go somewhere else to eat. But if they were seen eating from the hotel buffet again, they would be sent home the next day.

Rinpoche said: “You have a false sense of authority, thinking you call the shots for every little matter. From this, you need to learn that when in a group, you cannot do things on your own will. You act this way, and yet think yourselves practitioners. But what are you practicing? Selfishness for your own benefit.”

“The Tibetans here in Ladakh are very happy just to get blessings from me. But you see me every Sunday, and yet go around with bitter expressions on your faces, trying to teach me a lesson whenever you can. The only people who harm me nowadays are my disciples—no one else can touch me. I wouldn’t say that what happened today has made me lose face; rather, it has made it so that His Holiness thinks his most important disciple can’t even teach a single one of his own disciples properly, much less handle more important matters. There is still much for me to do. What happened this morning shows that you aren’t qualified to receive His Holiness’s teachings today on Bodhicitta Precepts, and so I have to bear all of these burdens for you.”

“The reason I admonished four ordained disciples yesterday is because those who are ordained should have no self, but rather only consider other sentient beings. Eating isn’t for enjoyment, but rather something that cannot be helped, and yet those four ordained disciples were enjoying it. I support my ordained disciples, and yet they enjoying eating! Enjoyment causes karmic reward to vanish. Though, it is okay for lay disciples to enjoy such things, because they work hard to earn their money. The reason I’m so strict is because I am not planning on coming back. His Holiness will come back again, and so he continuously spreads all kinds of seeds.”

“And so, this time, His Holiness has given you a great opportunity, and he has agreed to impart this Dharma on me in full. Everyone should think long and hard about what they’ve done. Is this how one should practice along the Bodhisattva Path? I’ve been teaching the Ratnakuta Sutra for two years, and no one has listened! You just keep thinking about yourselves, thinking if you don’t that no one else will, and that these must be the right and proper ways of the world.”

“I want the six VIPs from yesterday to sit at the table across from me so I can get a good look at them. They don’t even respect me—how could they possibly respect the tour group leader?”

After eating, Rinpoche coached Disciple Zhang, a fitness instructor, in archery drawing and breathing techniques, even offering him instruction on how many times he should practice and what he should focus on. He also demonstrated some martial arts for some of the security staff, including showing them how a solid horse stance can be unshakable. Rinpoche also demonstrated boxing techniques, including smooth delivery of punches in meditative fixity, and making every punch flexible and strong with accurate force. Then, the Indian and Taiwanese security staff sparred, and Rinpoche gave them tips on the key points of sparring.

Rinpoche personally teaching security staff about the key points of sparring.

Finally, Rinpoche had the Taiwanese security staff demonstrate self defense techniques for the women, teaching them how to free themselves when in someone’s grasp. Rinpoche is always looking out for his disciples, and making use of various opportunities and techniques to teach them how to help both themselves and others.

August 3, 2019 (Saturday)

At 9:20 a.m., Rinpoche took the disciples to attend the Phowa and Amitayus Empowerment Puja presided over by His Holiness.

Approximately 50,000 people were in attendance, and there were vast streams of traffic on the way to the puja venue. Due to stand-still traffic near Phyang Monastery, many Tibetans and people from various other countries could be seen assisting the young and the elderly with food and seating mats as they walked along the only main road. Despite the great distance and the ruggedness of the route, the faces of the young and old alike were beaming amidst their respect and longing for the Dharma, their hearts filled with delight at the rare opportunity to attend this auspicious duodecennial puja.

Due to vast numbers of participants coming from all over, the road to the Phyang Monastery puja venue experienced severe traffic jams. While the puja was expected to start at 10:30, when the time came, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s car was still stuck in traffic, an ambulance urgently clearing the way. When the Tibetans in front of them realized that it was Rinpoche’s car that was trying to get through, they immediately began clearing a path for him, and reverently welcomed him with their palms clasped together. As a result, Rinpoche was finally able to smoothly make it to the puja venue. His Holiness didn’t ascend the main Dharma throne to bestow the Phowa teachings until after Rinpoche arrived at around 11 o’clock. This goes to show the master-disciple connection that exists between His Holiness and Rinpoche; His Holiness didn’t impart the Dharma until his key disciple has arrived.

His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang bestowed attendees with the Phowa teachings at the morning puja.

At 3 p.m., the Amitayus Empowerment ritual was performed, and at the end of the puja, milk tea, longevity wine, and longevity pellets were distributed to attendees.

Puja staff distributing longevity pellets to attendees

After the puja, Lama Wangge, the director of Phyang Monastery, invited the Glorious Jewel disciples to enter the main temple hall, and shared the following:

“Phyang Monastery has over 300 years of history. Welcome; we at Phyang Monastery thank you for your attendance. When we were in Shravasti last time, we asked Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to come visit us for one of our pujas, and the preparations committee is very pleased everyone has come to participate in His Holiness’s pujas. We are all friends of the Dharma, and we are grateful to receive blessings from His Holiness and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche during this Great Puja of the Year of the Pig. Thank you all for coming. We aren’t particularly skilled in holding pujas, and we can only do our best. If you feel our reception is at any time unsatisfactory, please accept our apologies, as we are incapable of performing at the same level as the Drikung’s Main Dharma Center. The best we can do is gather temple monks, nuns, and youths and put forth our best efforts.”

“Phyang Monastery is extremely important to Ladakh, and is one of the four great temples of the Drikung Kagyu Order, along with Drikung Thil Monastery, Lamayuru Monastery, and Sharchukhul Monastery. The Phyang Monastery was established in the 16th century, and is extremely famous due to our large collection of art and ancient Buddhist statues. If we get the chance, perhaps we can show them to you tomorrow. Thank you.”

About an hour after the puja ended, there were still Tibetans waiting outside of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s private lounge with their palms clasped in respect to implore blessings from Rinpoche. There were endless lines of people waiting, and as Rinpoche’s car slowly made its way through, Tibetans who had been standing along the road held their palms together in reverence and followed it, not stopping until the car gradually disappeared from sight in the distance.

People from all over the world outside Rinpoche’s private lounge respectfully imploring for blessings.

Reluctant to see Rinpoche leave, devout Tibetans running after his car and imploring for blessings.

As there were 50,000 people in attendance, the Tibetans sat squished together knee to knee with nearly no room to turn around, only just able to leave a small passage for people to walk through. Attending this auspicious puja with the Tibetans, one can feel their respect and longing for the Dharma. In contrast, the Glorious Jewel disciples were given a courteous reception by the temple, as well as their own spacious seating area on thick, soft mats with an overhead canopy thicker than all of the others around. Furthermore, they had a private lounge within the main temple hall, as well as dedicated modern bathroom facilities and special attendants. This special treatment was all due to their revered Vajra guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s decades of tireless devotion to the Order. The disciples felt unmatched gratitude toward Rinpoche for his blessings and bestowals, and were even more motivated never to forget their guru’s earnest instruction!

Tibetans respectfully listening to His Holiness’s teachings.

Tibetans sitting packed together, some even sitting in the forest.

During dinner, Rinpoche granted all the disciples the opportunity to eat with him.

Rinpoche instructed that from then on, the six VIPs should sit at the table across from his, and put name cards on their table. A disciple with the last name Zhang showed a look of disapproval, and Rinpoche reproached her: “What is that look supposed to mean? You think this shouldn’t be such a big deal. Well, if this is beneath you, then in the future, this travel agency won’t be working with you again.”

After the meal, Rinpoche said: “We will arrive at the puja at 9 a.m. tomorrow. Tomorrow is His Holiness’s birthday, and the memorial day of Shakyamuni Buddha.” Rinpoche asked the ordained disciples what the day was in memorial of, but they weren’t able to answer right away.

Disciples respectfully listening to Rinpoche’s auspicious teachings.

Rinpoche said: “Ladakh is called ‘little Tibet,’ as it has a similar climate to Tibet, and its primary religion is Tibetan Buddhism. Approximately 60% of its temples are Drikung Kagyu temples.”

“The Bodhicitta Precepts His Holiness taught is special Dharma methods for practicing the Bodhisattva Path. His Holiness is a compassionate practitioner, and he imparted his teachings first whether you practice them or not. If you don’t practice, then you will owe His Holiness. In addition, we will also start practicing this Dharma text later in Taiwan. This morning, His Holiness imparted the Phowa teachings orally. It is said that if you have participated in an oral transmission of the Phowa, then as long as you remember your guru’s voice and appearance, you won’t fall to the Three Evil Realms. Likewise, it is of no use to transmit the Phowa to those who make a habit of not listening to me, as they resist their guru — like Disciple Zhang, who was unhappy with my scolding.”

“In the past, when teaching the Ratnakuta Sutra, I have explained that Shakyamuni Buddha also admonished his disciples. As Disciple Zhang was hungry and wanted to eat, she didn’t think there was anything worth scolding those disciples over. But how do you know what my methods for helping other sentient beings are? My methods are different from those of other Rinpoches. I don’t act pleasant and happy toward you, because you have too much karmic hindrance, and when you pass on, it will certainly get in your way. My bluntness toward my disciples is true compassion. I must scold you so that you will remember my appearance, so that when you die, you won’t go to hell, and I can help you fend off your karmic hindrances. And so, to those of you who don’t like my scolding, I advise you to leave. Practitioners of Esoteric Buddhism must be totally obedient to their gurus. The year before last, His Holiness gave me instruction that we would come to Ladakh this year, and as it was His Holiness’s instruction, I made it happen, no matter how tired I may be. Consider those people who follow my car to ask for blessings. They respect the Three
Jewels—unlike you, who think the Three Jewels are for your own personal use.”

“For His Holiness’s 60th birthday, I brought 500 disciples with me to celebrate. At the time, Garchen Rinpoche and His Holiness were sitting in front while I sat behind them. The two older men chatted in Mandarin, though usually one would speak in Tibetan in this situation. His Holiness said that I hit and scolded people, and Garchen Rinpoche said that wasn’t compassionate. His Holiness then replied that this is actually true compassion. Thus, His Holiness approves, and has publicly verified this. If you just want a comfortable life, don’t study the Dharma here.”

“Throughout our trip to Ladakh, many things have happened. Although not everything has necessarily affected you personally, they are all tools for your practices. If you think that this is supposed to be for fun, then the significance of this trip is lost on you.”

“His Holiness to everyone who made mandala offerings. He only did this for us, due to the great offerings I have made him. Don’t think that what happened before is just the way those six VIPs are. They are just an example. You all make the same mistakes that they have made. It is just that you are lucky; you still have karmic reward, and still have time to change. But if you are going to remain stubborn when we go back and won’t change, then I encourage you to leave. Take that server for example. He doesn’t understand anything I say, and yet I need only speak and he kneels and listens. This is because to these people, when a Rinpoche speaks, it is Dharma.”

“His Holiness has instructed that tomorrow’s puja will go until the early afternoon, and you will be taken on a tour of Phyang Monastery. We will also go to the temple of Dharma Protector Achi tomorrow. It is a very old temple, and is filled with ancient artifacts.”

During the meal, many members of restaurant staff proactively came over to ask Rinpoche for blessings. There were approximately 34 in total, including kitchen staff, servers, and group leaders. Rinpoche fulfilled these people’s wishes with no regard for his own fatigue, giving them blessings with a vajra one by one, and bestowing them with revelations. Rinpoche first asked one member of staff where he was from, and he answered he was from Dehradun in Northern India. Rinpoche then revealed to him that he had a bad temper, and that he sometimes got into fights, and advised him not to fight anymore. Rinpoche revealed to another worker that his family was doing well worshiping a certain Hindu deity, and that they should continue, and he should be good to his parents and listen to them, and that this would be good for his future.

Rinpoche told another worker that he drank too much alcohol, and it was bad for his throat and body. He advised him to stop drinking so much, or he would have health problems. Rinpoche also told another worker, who had waited on him 6 years ago, that his son may start having some ideas of his own in about three years, and that he may want to become ordained. He told them that as his parents, they must not fight him on this. He also said that he should tell his wife this when he goes home.

Rinpoche blessing a restaurant worker

After blessing these members of staff, Rinpoche asked those next to him if they had seen that when the Indians knelt, they touched either his shoes or legs with their hands. This is because Indians believe that Rinpoches are to be honored, and this is how they express their utmost reverence.

August 4, 2019 (Sunday)

This was the fourth day of the sixth month of the Tibetan calendar, and the anniversary of the Buddha’s first turning of the Wheel of Dharma. It was also His Holiness’s 73rd birthday, and a celebration event was held for him at Phyang Monastery. Many different Buddhist groups from Ladakh came to make offerings to His Holiness through singing and dance performances, respectfully wishing his honored body wondrous health.

Before the puja began, with His Holiness’s approval, Rinpoche had his disciples tour Phyang Monastery in two separate groups. Phyang Monastery was constructed in the 16th century, and is the largest of the Drikung Kagyu Order temples in the Ladakh region.

The disciples started with a tour of Hevajra Hall. Hevajra Hall was constructed 6 years previously using funds provided by Rinpoche. The residences of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang and His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang are both located on its upper level. Shakyamuni Buddha is the main yidam enshrined at Hevajra Hall, and the hall is adorned inside and out with fine thangka and frescoes. The hall is tranquil and dignified, and Director Lama Wangge has expressed his gratitude to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for this.

The second hall they visited was Mahakala Hall. Built in the 16th century, this hall is ancient. The main yidam worshiped there is the Four-Armed Mahakala. The Drikung Kagyu Order’s non-common Dharma Protector Achi is also enshrined there, and even has a standing statue. The frescoes in the hall were all completed in the 16th century, painted using pigments ground from rare precious ores. The hall’s walls include White Mahakala, Yellow Mahakala, Taras, Milarepa, Founder Lord Jigten Sumgon, and Chakrasamvara. The yak horn bow of a 16th century king has also been collected and placed within the hall.

The third hall they visited was a study hall, which is of great importance to Phyang Monastery. The monastics of the monastery go to this hall every day to conduct their prayers. Most tourists visit the hall for its frescoes, all of which have been preserved in their original forms since the 16th century. The hall remains in the same condition as when it was first built in the 16th century, with the exception of a few simple roof repairs for leaks from melting snow in the winter. Vairocana, Amitabha, Lord Jigten Sumgon, Jetsun Atisha, and two throne holders are all enshrined in this hall, and many Buddhist figures are represented on its walls, painted with pigments of grounded precious materials, including coral, lapis lazuli, and gold. Their noble appearances are dignified and graceful, the artistry refined and elegant, and the lines crisp and smooth. Furthermore, to this day, their colors and luster remain soft and brilliant. Director Lama Wangge even said that when government officials visit, they are always in wonder, and say they hope that the temple will continue taking such good care of these precious cultural artifacts.

The disciples were extremely grateful to Rinpoche and His Holiness for giving them the opportunity to see these rare and precious Buddhist treasures in person. When they returned to the site of the birthday celebration, the event was already in motion, and arrangements had been made for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to be seated in the first seat to the left of His Holiness to celebrate with him.

During the celebration, His Holiness said:

“Rinpoches, believers, Ladakh representatives and officials, president of the Buddhist Temple Association, other Orders’ representatives, honored guests from outside of India, and everyone else who has gathered here, I thank you for attending this birthday celebration. Since ancient times, we have never had the tradition of celebrating gurus’ birthdays, celebrating only nirvana instead. But times have changed, and so I thank you for celebrating with me today.”

“Today is also an auspicious day. It is the day of the Buddha’s first turning of the Wheel of Dharma. The Buddha was born in Lumpini, attained nirvana in Ku-si Nagara, and it was at Deer Park that he first turned the Wheel of Dharma and revealed the Four Noble Truths: suffering, desire, elimination of suffering, and the way to emancipation. The Four Noble Truths hold the teachings of the truths of life. When we speak of suffering, where does suffering come from? When we find its origin, we must eliminate it. But how? If we don’t create any bad karma, we can eliminate all wicked origins by doing all that is good. Once we have accumulated reserves of good fortune and merits, both our current and our eternal aspirations will be fulfilled. The Buddha teaches us that we must do all that is good and walk the Noble Path. As long as we are able to walk the Noble Path, we can practice the Four Noble Truths in full and attain nirvana.”

“I am pleased that so many people have gathered here today. We have seen many performances, and perhaps some of you are already a bit tired from watching the dancing. All of these performances with different instruments have been wonderful, and I thank you all. We are so fortunate to celebrate this auspicious day together.”

His Holiness preparing to cut cake to distribute to attendees, and Rinpoche was ready to attend to him.

Rinpoche respectfully presenting His Holiness a khadak offering.

Buddhist groups from Ladakh making offerings to His Holiness through singing and dance performances.

Rinpoche giving His Holiness a respectful sendoff at the conclusion of the puja.

At some time after 1 p.m., the event had ended and everyone had finished lunch, and Rinpoche took all the disciples on an hour-long car ride to the Dharma Wheel Monastery of Alchi.

The Achi Monastery is one of the oldest Buddhist temples in Ladakh. It was constructed in the 11th century by Master Translator Rinchen Sangpo, and it is registered to the UNESCO World Heritage List. When Rinchen Sangpo arrived in the 11th century, he discovered that there were no temples around, and so he gathered coral and other offerings of precious materials donated by the local villagers together to build one. The frescoes within the temple and the wooden carvings outside of it were all done by Kashmir artists, and they are full of Kashmir style.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche first took them to a three-level temple modeled after the design of a mandala. The main yidam of the temple hall is Maitreya, and the Jataka Tales are written on his legs. Bodhisattva Manjushri is enshrined to the right, with the Eighty Great Adepts painted onto his legs, and Bodhisattva Guanyin is enshrined to the left. After prostrating before the Buddha statues, Rinpoche respectfully made a khadak offering to the figure of Bodhisattva Manjushri, then entered meditative state, and began making sounds of vajra roars. Rinpoche then said to Director Lama Wangge: “The back of this statue of Bodhisattva Manjushri is damaged. You will need to inspect it carefully and make repairs, otherwise it will fall.” Rinpoche then instructed all the disciples to enter one by one to admire the Buddha statues.

Rinpoche blessing local believers at the Dharma Wheel Monastery of Alchi.

Next, they entered Vairocaca Hall. It was extremely crowded fitting 200 people into such a narrow and ancient temple hall. Rinpoche urged everyone to be quick, and repeatedly reminded the disciples to keep moving forward to let the people behind them in. Then, he questioned them multiple times to make sure everyone was inside before finally bestowing them with the following teachings:

“The Buddha statues here have over a thousand years of history. It is damaging to these statues having so many of you in here at once. We will recite the Great Six-Syllable Mantra 108 times, and then recite the mantra of Dharma Protector Achi 108 times.”

After the recitations, Rinpoche led the disciples in transferring merits together:

May the merits of these recitations be offered:
To all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the Ten Directions and Three Times;
To Lord Jigten Sumgon;
To the gurus of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage;
To Dharma Protector Achi.
May we transfer the merits to all practitioners of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage.
May the Dharma lineage of the Drikung Kagyu flourish eternally.
May Drikung disciples achieve realization through their practices.

Rinpoche accepting a khadak offering from a lama at the Dharma Wheel Monastery of Alchi.

During dinner, Rinpoche bestowed all the disciples with the opportunity to eat together. He blessed the food, and asked a female disciple to hand it over to a most intelligent disciple to be distributed. When she took it to the next table over to a male disciple with the last name Chen, Disciple Chen’s face and ears blushed, and he hesitated to take the food. Rinpoche reproached: “Don’t give it to him,” and she gave it to another disciple to distribute instead.

During the meal, Rinpoche asked an ordained disciple to think about what Disciple Chen had done wrong. He thought for five minutes before responding that it was because Disciple Chen wasn’t respectful to the guru. Rinpoche said this was half right, and had him think for another 5 minutes. After three periods of 5 minutes, the ordained disciple still was unable to correctly identify what Disciple Chen had done wrong. Rinpoche said: “If you don’t understand how other people think, how are you to help them?”

After the meal, Rinpoche asked the ordained disciple to explain what had happened, and he reported:

“Earlier, Rinpoche blessed the food, and asked a female disciple to give it to a most intelligent disciple to distribute. When she took the blessed food to look for the intelligent disciple, she ended up going up to the male Disciple Chen. Rinpoche is incisively observant, and he noticed Disciple Chen’s stirring of thoughts—his change of complexion, and his face and ears turning red. Furthermore, Rinpoche said: ‘A gentleman’s desire…’ There is also another phrase, but I won’t say it. It means that he fell for a woman’s feminine charm.”

“Normally, a disciple’s thought in such a moment would be to take the blessed food and attend to it. But he paused and blushed because of her charm. Thus, he showed irreverence toward the guru, and a lack of faith that the guru is the manifestation of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas coming to liberate sentient beings. Rinpoche’s meditative abilities are first rate. As soon as you have a stirring of thoughts and changes in your expression, Rinpoche knows. Just now, Rinpoche asked me to think about why my fellow disciple was scolded, and I couldn’t come up with the answer despite thinking on it for so long. But after I implored for Rinpoche’s revelations, I then understood.”

“Although I am an ordained practitioner—a bhikkhu—I have always practice for myself only. As I have done poorly in my practice, I am unable to liberate other sentient beings, and am incapable of being like Rinpoche who always maintains an aspiration of helping and benefiting sentient beings regardless of his own preferences, anger, sorrow, and joy. He has never affected by his emotion or ideology, rather, he constantly abides in the state of true bodhicitta.”

Rinpoche said: “I want to add a comment. I have never stopped the disciples of our Buddhist Center from dating. Is this not true?” (The disciples responded that it was true.)

“So why is it this happened with Disciple Chen? It is simple. As long as you believe in cause and effect, and have faith in your guru, you will do no wrong. The female disciple was clear: ‘Rinpoche asked me to give this to you to distribute.’ If it were me, nothing else would be important except for the fact that this food had been given to me by my guru, and I would immediately comply. The ordained disciples sitting directly across from him didn’t even notice his reaction.”

“His first reaction was surprise: ‘Why me?’ Second, his ears turned red. Third, he looked at the disciple, looked at the food, and then looked back at her again so he could stare longer. If his guru was the only thing on his mind, then when he heard the instruction had come from me, would he still get distracted? So tell me, should this person be allowed to continue studying the Dharma under me?” Rinpoche reproached him: “Look at yourself! Coming out for a puja and still thinking about women!”

“To him, this is just a stirring of thoughts. This is what the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows refers to when it says ‘all stirring of thoughts in mortals is sin and karma.’ So how do we make it so that our thoughts don’t give rise to sin and karma? By believing in your guru. As your guru, I don’t interfere in your daily lives, but rather only matters of the Dharma.”

“Even my instruction to you today has created a stirring of thoughts, and with this stirring, other bad karma follows. Think for a moment. If someone is meant to do something for somebody else, and you waste his or her time, Is there not a chain of cause and effect? Don’t think that Buddhism is just about chanting mantras and reciting sutras every day. If you don’t use the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas to make mental adjustments, you will never be able to escape the cycle of life and death.”

“My mind has become increasingly meticulous. I know what you are up to at a glance.” Then, Rinpoche reproached: “Disciple Zhong, from the VIP table. When you were looking over here just now, were you wanting to see who this girl is? I am here speaking the Dharma, and meanwhile you’ve got your head in the clouds. Are you still wondering why you are a VIP? You thought studying Buddhism would b e just as you imagined, and that your practice would just be reading the sutras, prostrating before the Buddha, eating vegetarian, and attending pujas. I didn’t stumble into realization by a fluke. I practice the Dharma with my life. If you don’t have what it takes, and lack the proper root containers, then you must listen! But you don’t want to listen. As I’m here talking, your mind wanders. Why are you wasting time? If you go on wasting time like this, you’ll never learn the Dharma. Everyone wants to be all blissful when studying the Dharma with me. You think: ‘Rinpoche will bless me, Rinpoche is amazing, Rinpoche can help me solve anything.’ It is true that I have these abilities. But what am I to do when you learn the Dharma with this kind of attitude?”

“Everyone doubts everything I do and say. I just reprimanded you yesterday, and yet here we are again. The wicked natures of sentient beings are difficult to change. If you are incapable of insight into your own mind, I urge you not to learn Buddhism. Especially you, Disciple Zhong. You’ll be less stressed if you give up on your practice, seeing as you are as of yet unwilling to change. When you go back, I want you to consider giving up Buddhism. Why go through all this trouble? Look at the people of Ladakh. They need only see that one is of Rinpoche’s fruition, and they naturally show respect. They don’t need to be taught this. I just got through scolding you yesterday, and yet your mind has gone astray yet again. I’m talking here, and you’re just thinking about your own matters. Why go through all this trouble? Buddhism is supposed to teach you how to put a stop to your suffering and have eternal happiness, and yet you constantly seek out problems for yourselves.”

“Mortal thinking doesn’t get the job done, especially for those who practice on the Bodhisattva Path. What is mortal thinking? Greedy, hateful, and deluded stirrings of thoughts and intention which are all for the self. I even hit two ordained disciples for taking too much food on their plates, because they didn’t think of those in line behind them. This is how subtle my mind is. As lay disciples, of course your minds cannot be as subtle as mine. But at the very least, you must trust me, and you must listen. Don’t go on thinking: ‘I just came here to learn Buddhism. After Puja ends, everything else has nothing to do with you, and what I do is none of your business.’ You have taken refuge under me as disciples, and so I make it my business. You can stop being my disciples at any time.”

At this time, the ordained disciples began sharing their thoughts about the past few of days of attending pujas.

The first ordained disciple reported:

“Rinpoche has worked so hard. The puja group is a means of practice, and it helps us accumulate karmic reward and wisdom. Don’t think that Rinpoche is just conducting business. Rinpoche’s undertaking is the work of the Dharma, and all acts of the Six Paramitas. From what I understand, this is a kind of Dharma method, whereas we are seeing Rinpoche through secular, mortal minds. I am reporting what little I understand.”

“The four-day puja event is very auspicious, and we are all gaining good fortune and wisdom. His Holiness has revealed and taught us that everyone has bodhicitta. Rinpoche often says: ‘When we are covered in greed, hatred, delusion, conceit, and doubt, our bodhicitta cannot manifest.’ Mine hasn’t manifested either, although I have been ordained for over 30 years. I have come to take refuge under Rinpoche so that he may teach me, and so that I may in the future transcend the mundane and liberate sentient beings, letting my bodhicitta manifest and be realized. Take Rinpoche for example: his emotions and inclinations are all dedicated to helping and benefiting sentient beings, and his mind remains still. Why? Because of bodhicitta. This is my understanding.”

“A puja group isn’t a tour group. I often travel abroad with Rinpoche. Before I took refuge under him, I would travel abroad for fun, and to have a good time. But I no longer have that kind of mindset, because I now know that only attending pujas can benefit and help sentient beings and allow them to depart from suffering. My attitude is different from before, when I just wanted to see all kinds of different people, architecture, and scenery. This isn’t because of my practice, but because I know Rinpoche truly wants to help and benefit sentient beings. He works so hard for us, and yet he is misunderstood. But of course, Rinpoche has force of fixity, and is unaffected. His mind remains still, tranquil, and pure. This is my understanding. But, he must show a wrathful vajra appearance when teaching sentient beings in order to rouse them awake and counter-treat their bad habits, and make it so that they will implement the Dharma and the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas in their lives.”

“Rinpoche often says: ‘As long as you can implement the Dharma in your lives, someday, causes and conditions will align, and you will realize it.’ Realize what? That which Rinpoche is always teaching us: ‘the intrinsic pure nature.’ And, thus, you will be able to transcend the mundane to the level of the saint. But without this realization, it is very difficult to sever bad habits and attachments to the self and the Dharma, and you will be affected by karmic forces.”

The second ordained disciple reported:

“It seems that many people still find it difficult to understand the concept of Dharmic practice. The causal conditions for this are unclear. From the first Dharma master who shaved my head, my seniors and Rinpoche have all exhibited wrathful vajra appearances. As I have been reprimanded from the beginning, I am aware that this is normal. After all, my body is full of karmic hindrance; if I wasn’t scolded, how could I make progress? But perhaps some others who don’t come from backgrounds of Exoteric Buddhism aren’t so used to these ideas, and so when they encounter these methods, they think: what are you doing? For instance, when I first became ordained, my master would seem to get into a rage about every little thing, and I would think: ‘What? Can’t we just live our lives in peace?’ It wasn’t until later that I realized that this was my master’s way of trying to train his disciples, and get rid of their karmic hindrances. If we could achieve realization by just living comfortable lives, then there would be no reason to revere the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Rinpoche uses these methods to help us get rid of our karmic hindrances and obstacles more quickly, and allow our minds to become more focused. Otherwise, everyone would just be undisciplined and unorganized.”

Rinpoche asked: “What do you think of what has happened these past four days?”

The disciple reported: “I am delighted to have heard His Holiness teach about bodhicitta, Bodhicitta Precepts, and putting bodhicitta into action over these past four days, though I think it is really meticulous work, and difficult to put into action. Still, I believe that with Rinpoche’s blessings, as long as my mind is up to it, I can gradually work towards doing so. I especially enjoyed His Holiness’s transmission of Bodhicitta Precepts.”

Rinpoche said: “The beginning of what this disciple said made a lot of sense. But at the end, he said that with His Holiness’s teachings, if one’s mind is up to it, he can succeed in cultivating bodhicitta. If this were true, His Holiness would be saying: ‘Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, you need not sit next to me.’ Try and see if you can cultivate bodhicitta without me teaching you. How about we bet on 10 years?”

The disciple replied: “No, without Rinpoche, we certainly would not succeed.”

Rinpoche reproached him: “But that’s not what you just said. You said what all of you disciples are thinking: ‘His Holiness imparted the Dharma on us, and then we can go home and practice on our own.’ If this were the case, His Holiness wouldn’t need me sitting in the first seat next to him. If you can cultivate attainment without a guru, then I am impressed, as even I required a guru. The big problem with Taiwanese people is they don’t trust experts. You don’t see the value in any expert of any industry, because you think you can do everything yourselves. So then, based on your logic, why is it that of all of His Holiness’s lay disciples, I am the only realized Rinpoche and a great Rinpoche at that? Do you think I bought this privilege? Do you think it is because my Mandarin is so good, or because of my English?”

“Take, for example, before, when you said: ‘Rinpoche, I repent for not showing you respect.’ My response was: ‘Your lack of respect toward me is a lack of respect toward the Three Jewels.’ To this day, you still don’t understand. I represent the Three jewels. When you don’t respect me, you are disrespecting the Three Jewels. And how can you learn the Dharma when you don’t respect the Three Jewels? Many people think that slandering the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha means verbally attacking it. But really, it is your way of thinking. It’s just like how Disciple Zhong’s way of thinking slanders the Three Jewels. I was here reprimanding her, and she was looking in the other direction because she thought it was unfair. She wanted to see who the person was, and she was thinking: ‘Is it that serious?’ You are just like Disciple Zhang from yesterday. Why is it that so many people practice Esoteric Buddhism, and yet almost none of them become attained? Because none of them are able to completely surrender to their gurus. You can’t succeed if you don’t surrender.”

“I predict that I will become stricter and stricter, because I don’t want to come back. I take your measly offerings and then you don’t learn or practice, and I end up owing you. How tiring is this? If you don’t practice correctly, then you must leave. I told you before when you took refuge under me, if you don’t listen and learn from what your guru tells you, and you slack off, then I won’t teach you, or even stay in the same room as you. I let you participate in our puja group, and yet you treat it like a social gathering.

“His Holiness wasn’t transmitting the Bodhicitta Precepts to you. He was transmitting them to me, and to Tritsab Rinpoche—people His Holiness approves of. He is just letting you form connections. If you could cultivate bodhicitta just from hearing a few words spoken by His Holiness, then I would make you all Rinpoches. This ordained disciple thought all he needed to do was to share his thoughts. However, I just pushed him a bit more and his true form was revealed. I’m now going to give this disciple 10 days to think. If you can’t rectify this bad habit, you might as well go home. One could say letting you all come out for this puja is a blessing to you, and one could also say it is a curse, as you’ve let me see everything. When you took refuge under me, I said before that I may get rid of those of you who don’t come near me. ‘Come near me’ does not mean one must spend all day with me. ‘Who don’t come near me’ refers to the ones who hide in a far distance, never letting me see them. For example, when a certain disciple kneels before me, I often ask him: ‘Who are you?’ And then he replies that he has taken refuge under me for seven years. So then why is it I don’t know who this disciple is? Because he only shows up when he has problems.”

“I hope that you realize where you have been wrong over these past four days. It’s not like he says: ‘We have good fortune so His Holiness transmitted us the Dharma.’ You are wrong. If His Holiness thought he could transmit the Dharma directly to you 200 disciples, he would say: ‘Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, see your way out.’ You think it is easy sitting where I sit? Disciple Pan is a Tantric old-timer. Tell them what kind of person has what it takes to sit next to His Holiness at a Puja.”

Disciple Pan reported: “Not just any Rinpoche can sit next to His Holiness—one must be a class A Rinpoche, and one that His Holiness has truly endorsed in his heart. In certain Orders, some throne holders think the more Rinpoches they have the better, and so they certify a bunch of them. Thus, they aren’t necessarily realized Rinpoches at that level. Don’t think that just because someone is a Rinpoche, he is all high and mighty. It’s just because we don’t address them as class A, B, and C Rinpoches, so there is no way to tell. Rinpoches are treasures among humans; however, a Rinpoche who gets to sit next to His Holiness must have an important place in His Holiness’s heart, and this verifies that he is a true Rinpoche. I don’t dare say this makes him a heart son, but it definitely means: ‘I am entrusting my Dharma with him.’ You must recognize this.”

“There are so many Rinpoches in the Order (I won’t include Tritsab Rinpoche, as he is a regent); and so, why is it that for His Holiness’s birthday celebration, only our Rinpoche gets to sit next to His Holiness, and even gets to sit so close? This is no trivial matter. Our Rinpoche certainly has to have put forth extraordinary, painstaking effort in his cultivation, making offerings to His Holiness, and upholding the Drikung Kagyu Lineage. One must achieve attainment in fruition and recognition, in order to have the opportunity to sit next to His Holiness. Don’t think of His Holiness as compassionate and easygoing; His Holiness has a brilliant mind, and cares greatly for our Rinpoche. But we also know how Rinpoche attends to his guru.”

“Rinpoche hasn’t told me to share my experience, and so I won’t. I am just letting everyone know what I have seen in the Vajrayana Buddhism. Rinpoche wouldn’t be the great Rinpoche he is today if he hadn’t gone through his fair share of hardships, and he wouldn’t put so much effort into picking out such subtle mistakes that we make. They are so subtle that we don’t even notice ourselves. But Rinpoche has also told us that when we die, these subtle thoughts will take us down to the Animal Realm. Thus, Rinpoche isn’t taking out his temper on us, nor is he trying to show off his esteem or how impressive he is. If you were in your 70’s, there’s no way you would want to get into a temper. Why put so much effort into such minutia?”

“How many great Rinpoches are there who are away in caves—not literal caves, though of course some are in actual caves—who never come out? No one works so hard as our Rinpoche. I used to think: ‘I’ve really put you through so much, Rinpoche.’ Why? Because I truly feel ashamed. If you had an English teacher who taught you for 10 years, and yet you still didn’t even know your ABCs, would that mean your English teacher wasn’t teaching you, or that you were giving your English teacher a hard time? We haven’t even put that much money toward our tuition, and yet he suffers through teaching us for 10 – 20 years. If we aren’t doing well in learning the Dharma, then we are just giving Rinpoche a hard time.”

“And so, whenever I hear Rinpoche say: ‘I don’t care anymore,’ I think that if it was me, I wouldn’t want to care either. Over these past few days, I’ve been thinking: ‘I wouldn’t want to be a Rinpoche if given the chance.’ This is the truth, though it isn’t a good analogy. Let me say again that the fact that Rinpoche gets to sit next to His Holiness is no trivial matter. Not including the regent, out of everyone in our Order who has what it takes to sit next to His Holiness? Everyone think for a moment. We are so close to Rinpoche that we take it for granted, like believers bullying deities in a temple.”

“Let me talk about something I saw today that really moved me. As we were welcoming Rinpoche into the lounge, two or three old Tibetan women squeezed in next to us. They were only able to see Rinpoche’s back, and I said to them: “That is my guru, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.” As we were standing too far away, Rinpoche couldn’t see us. One woman looked at him, then took off her knitted hat, and bowed to Rinpoche regardless. Could Rinpoche see this? No. She was doing this because it was what she wanted to do from the bottom of her heart. I feel ashamed. I implore all of you, we must work hard together, and stop giving Rinpoche such a hard time, okay? Even if we can’t cultivate Bodhicitta, if we truly practice the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas, we can at least make Rinpoche happy.”

Rinpoche said: “Disciple Pan has made another mistake. There is no happiness or unhappiness for me. If there was, it would mean I hadn’t cultivated the Four Immeasurables: departure from love and hate, and refuge in equanimous freedom from attachment. To say I am happy is to say I still hold to love.”

Disciple Pan reported: “I made a mistake. I should have said it would delight our guru.”

Rinpoche said: “In Tibetan Buddhism, the person who picks up the one who presides over a puja—whether a throne holder or a Rinpoche—and escorts him to and from his throne each day is the the most important person to him. You can’t just squeeze yourself in; the lamas will block your way. These past few days, you have seen that I was always on call attending to His Holiness as he ascended his throne, left to rest, and ate his meals. But you looked down on me. Some of you disciples even glanced sideways at me to see if I have said anything wrong. Are you above His Holiness? How can someone so arrogant learn compassion? You can’t even handle your own stirrings of thoughts, and yet you nitpick others. Don’t think I’ve got it all good and comfortable. Lots of things happen to a great Rinpoche, and you don’t know how much I have dealt with.”

“The lamas of Phyang Monastery have all been very happy to have us here for this four-day puja, as we are the largest group here, and thus our presence makes them feel that it has a been a great success. Today, khenpos even personally said to us: “Rinpoche, do stay longer this time around.” This is because I usually leave after only 2 or 3 days. The khenpos then said: “When you leave, the grounds will be so empty. So everyone is very happy that you are staying longer this time.” All you had to do is spend some money on this travel group, and you have delighted many people. And thus, you have formed good connections. Without good connections, no matter how well you do in your practice, you will not become cultivated. How can one liberate sentient beings without having good connections? Many things start from the little things, like a thought or an intention.”

“It is like when we finished reciting mantras today and were transferring merit, and said: ‘May all Drikung Kagyu disciples achieve attainment through their practices.’ Do you deserve to be called Drikung Kagyu disciples? Think for a moment. You think that His Holiness imparted the Dharma on you, and you can become realized if your mind is only up to it. Yet you think you are Drikung Kagyu disciples? What is the Drikung Kagyu Lineage? One generation transmitting to the next. How can you say you have what it takes to be a Drikung Kagyu disciple when you don’t even recognize the value of your guru. You think your guru is a mortal? I only have the body of a mortal, but I believe my mind isn’t of the Path of Humans.”

“As for those of you who are unwilling to set your pride aside, and who think practicing Buddhism is about asking for blessings of safety, happiness, harmony, and good fortune, I ask you to leave, as practicing along the Bodhisattva Path isn’t something just anyone can do. However, if you can become cultivated on this path, you can certainly liberate yourself from the cycle of life and death. In future lives, you will be able to benefit vast numbers of sentient beings. For those of us who practice the Dharma, this is our goal, and our direction.”

At this time, one of His Holiness’s attendants brought a gift to Rinpoche on His Holiness’s behalf, and he accepted it with great delight.

August 5, 2019 (Monday)

In the morning, Rinpoche took all the disciples to prepare to leave Ladakh and set off for Delhi. As Rinpoche left the hotel, all of the hotel staff stood by the door, then respectfully escorted Rinpoche in formation, while also presenting khadak offerings to him. Rinpoche blessed them on the head one by one with a vajra.

When Rinpoche entered the airport terminal lounge to wait, a member of airport staff implored for blessings from him, and when a female member of cleaning staff saw Rinpoche coming, she immediately cast aside her mop and ran to him to implore for blessings as well. Rinpoche blessed them each in turn.

That afternoon, Rinpoche bestowed all the disciples with the opportunity to eat together.

And that night, Rinpoche bestowed all the disciples with the opportunity to eat together again. As Rinpoche and some of the ordained disciples took their seats, the other disciples stood and waited. Rinpoche reprimanded the ordained disciples: “You are leading disciples, and yet you only care about your own seats, taking no notice that the other disciples still haven’t taken theirs. Are you telling me you four didn’t notice?”

“The Ratnakuta Sutra says that with a little arrogance, all merits turn into mere fortune. How can you become cultivated when you are so arrogant? As leading disciples, you should be showing others how to respect your guru. This doesn’t mean superficial respect, but rather respect from the heart. You saw what those monastics at the pujas were eating. Do they eat as well as you? You all live so comfortably. I was able to spot your attitude in just 5 seconds. Now, you four ordained disciples are going to eat standing up.”

Eighty minutes into the meal, Rinpoche said: “Was the food from this afternoon good?” (The disciples replied that it was very good.) “What about the food this evening?” (They replied that it was very good.) Then Rinpoche said, “The four ordained disciples can now sit down. The rest of you in the back, stand up. You saw these ordained disciples standing and yet you enjoyed your meals without reflecting on what has happened. It was your fault they were punished by being made to eat standing up.”

“You think: ‘Rinpoche didn’t tell them to sit down, but how is that any of my business? That was up to those four ordained disciples to decide.’ Since when are you so obedient? You saw ordained disciples sitting, and you didn’t send someone over to check on them? You are so individualistic, none of you looking out for one another, everyone doing things their own way. A group cannot distinguish between individuals like this. As the ordained disciples were standing, did any of you reflect on why this was happening? You just wanted to enjoy yourselves.”

“For the first half of the meal, the ordained disciples have been made to stand. For the second half, it is your turn. How far have you gotten in your meals?” (They replied they were at dessert.) “Then stand until 9 O’clock. For this period, you are not allowed to stop eating or stop talking. Just keep going on like before, and don’t turn around to look at me.”

At this time, a female ordained disciple sat down, and rested her cheek on her hand. Rinpoche asked her why she was doing that, and she said she didn’t have a reason. Rinpoche then instructed a male ordained disciple to explain to her whether or not this was okay according to the bhikkhuni precepts. After explaining, the male disciple responded to Rinpoche that it was against the precepts. Rinpoche then instructed him to look up how this matter should be handled according to the bhikkhuni precepts, and report back to him after the Grand Puja in August.

During the second half of the meal, a group of about a dozen people, made up of the Indian tour guides and security staff, knelt before Rinpoche to implore for blessings. The hearts of the hotel staff were ignited with respect from witnessing Rinpoche’s auspicious teachings, and they stepped forward to implore for blessings as well. One by one, Rinpoche bestowed them with blessings with a vajra. He then said to a member of hotel staff: “Your mother is good to you; you must treat her well.” He also said to a member of Indian security staff: “You need to take care of your left shoulder. Try traditional Indian massage on it.” Afterwards, the staff member indicated that his left shoulder had indeed been injured a long time ago.

After he finished eating, Rinpoche taught the Indian security staff some martial arts, and demonstrated some sparring methods for them. Rinpoche is accomplished both in the intellectual and the martial arts. He teaches sentient beings in accordance with their different needs and root containers, using all kinds of ingenious means to help them. Just like the Thousand-Armed and Thousand-Eyed Avalokiteshvara, he liberates sentient beings using different expedient means. Regardless of their jobs and ethnicities, they were able to experience Rinpoche’s boundless compassion in helping sentient beings.

August 6, 2019 (Tuesday)

In the morning, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the entire group in flying back to Taiwan from Delhi. Under the blessings and protection of Rinpoche, everyone safely made it home. The pujas in Ladakh, India came to a perfect conclusion.

Related Links:
• Precious Photo Album: Visiting Ladakh

Updated on August 26, 2019