His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings

January 18, 2012

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presided over the auspicious Chod Puja at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Taipei. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche told the attendees: Some of you who are learning Buddhism, are able to recite the Buddhist sutra, tend to think that you are protected just because you attend the puja. True enough, attending the puja surely gives you blessing, but that is for those practitioners only. When we say we are performing a certain Dharma method, it is not as simple as when you see it being performed. Rather, there is a lot of preparation involved, including performing the retreat, upholding the precepts, as well as practicing Buddhism in the order of sequential stages. Only this way, through observance of the precepts a person can attain full meditative concentration, which in turn can reveal the wisdom and then can perform the Dharma and bring benefit to sentient beings. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche just stepped off the plane and returned to Taiwan yesterday and is here to preside over the grand puja of over 1,400 attendees. But many people have forgotten to register for an ID or to bring it with them. There are others who say that they are vegetarian only for today. All these show that they do not attach much importance to this puja, and there is no reverence or respect. Therefore, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche will not allow these people to attend it. If someone tells you that if you get the ID for the puja you’ll be able to receive one million dollars, non of you would have forgotten for sure.

There are some of you who came to attend the Chod Puja for the first time and they are not showing enough faith. Some came to the Chod Puja on behalf of their deceased family members. Those who have seen Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche may have a little bit more faith. But those who have not seen Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche should not have doubts, as there is no need for the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to deceive you. One of the important principles that Buddhism teaches is “Do not have false speech,” and everything the Buddhas say is true. Do not say something is there when it is not. And you should have faith that there is no need for the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to deceive you. Now that you came to the puja, you should indeed have reverence for the Three Jewels (Triratna). You don’t have to doubt the level of accomplishment of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, as it has been validified by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. Without first touching upon whether you truly have the qualifications to doubt, those who came to the puja for the first time are not aware of the extraordinary capacity of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Though some of you may already know that, only His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang knows what kind of capacity Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche truly possesses.

To be able to come to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center and attend the puja does not require how much money you possess; rather, it is a test of what kind of mind you have. If you look around the Buddhist Center, you don’t see any list of names honoring those donors nor setting up of the lighting lamps, or that the donors are invited to sit in the front. On the contrary, those believers who have not taken refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche are sitting at the very front and his disciples are all sitting in the back, because those are guests and should be treated as such. Once they take refuge, they will no longer be able to enjoy this kind of courtesy. So it is like telling these believers not to take refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, as he has very strict rules in the way that he teaches. Just now prior to the opening of the puja, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was reprimanding the disciples before ascending to the Dharma throne.

Regardless of the reason why you came to the puja, you at least should show reverence and respect. Moreover, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did not invite you. Instead, you implore to attend. There are over 1,400 attendees at the puja today. If Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is not strict and allows whoever wants to come, then there would be at least 10,000 attendees at each and every puja. Right now there are over 100 people outside who are not allowed to attend the puja. On top of that, none of you are required to pay any fee when you come to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s puja. Is there anyone here who has heard that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche told you that you must pay so much in order to attend the puja? The attendees all confirm that nobody has ever heard of that. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche does not permit you to attend the puja based on your financial condition, status, or background. If you don’t have the reverence for Buddhism, you would not be allowed in even if you kneel down at the entrance to implore for such permission. Come to think about it, if you have to ask someone for help, you would be very nice and polite and show respect. Then why should you not show respect when you implore the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas?

It is not that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are requiring you to have reverence and respect. Rather, when you have due reverence, it is like making offerings; and with offerings come blessed reward, which leads to arising from conditional causation and help the deceased to be liberated. A practitioner is a intermediary between the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, you and the deceased. You will have good arising of causal conditions with the deceased and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas if you are reverent.  Thus with the help of a practitioner who has the liberating capacity, he will be able to help the deceased with the Buddha Dharma and be liberated. This is like someone wants to go somewhere but has no money to buy the bus ticket, and would like someone to help him, he will have to find someone who is willing to pay for the ticket for him. Some of them may only be able to tell him where the ticketing office is, which is a nice act of virtue. Others may not be clear about the details and have only a rough idea. Still others have absolutely no ideas at all. And you belong to this last group of people. If you want to go somewhere, at least you need to know where it is. You cannot go there without knowing where it is, right? So there are many many assisting Dharma reciters who have no idea how to go to the Pure Land. How on earth would they be able to help the deceased to go to the Pure Land?

So why do you need a guru when you learn Buddhism? That’s because you need constant supervision and guidance on your path of cultivation so that you will not get into the wrong direction with your learning. Some people may think that they don’t want to learn Buddhism in the first place, and also feel that learning Buddhism has nothing to do with them. But regardless whether you want to learn Buddhism or not, we would not be much different from animals if we do not have Buddhism. The animals work very hard in order to fill their stomachs; and they take actions in order to regenerate. We as human beings work and get married for the same reasons. If you do not want to mend your way and repent so that you can stop all forms of evil, what is the difference then between us and the animals? Buddhism teaches us cause and effect, and tells us what behaviors will have future consequences. It teaches us to mend our way instead of become superstitious.

You often seem to have misunderstanding about Buddhism, thinking that the deceased  can be liberated simply by making origami lotus flowers, covering the deceased’s body with the Dharani-quilt, or spraying the Bright Golden Sand; or asking reciting groups to recite the Buddhist sutras on behalf of the deceased. Nothing of this sort is mentioned in the Buddhist sutras. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche once told you that to liberate the decease is no easy task. If you can liberate the deceased by simply attending one puja, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would be the very first to report to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang that the cultivation is over, because if it’s all that simple you just don’t need to exert yourself so much to perform the retreat.

If something is not mentioned in the Buddhist sutras, then as a person learning Buddhism, you should not conduct it on your own. The human culture of our generation is under the influence of Buddha Shakyamuni’s Dharma teachings, and there will be no living Buddha in the world from the time when Buddha Shakyamuni was promoting the Dharma, before the coming of Buddha Maitreya into the world. That is not to say that there will be no incarnation of any Buddhas during this period. Rather, it means that there will be no human who would be attaining Buddhahood through cultivation during this period. So what we need to abide by currently is what is taught in the Buddhist sutras by Buddha Shakyamuni. There may be people who claim to be Buddha’s reincarnation or do things that are not described on the Buddhist sutras. Such people are trying to deceive others. Those who are truly learning Buddhism should know to follow the teaching of Buddha Shakyamuni.

When people come to implore Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to help liberate the deceased in the family, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would require that they become vegetarians. They would reply: we’ll give it a try. What do you mean by “give it a try?” Buddhism is not a “give it a try” type of Buddhism. If you say that you’d give it a try, then Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche can also say “I’ll give it a try” when it comes to helping you. Why does the guru tell you not to eat meat? According to the Buddhist sutras, eating the meat of sentient beings will cause the seed of compassion to be severed. And compassion is the very foundation of the entirety of Buddhism. Without compassion, there would be no Buddhism. Nor would there be any accomplishment. Compassion is something unique with Buddhism. While other religions also teach people to be kind, what they teach is different from compassion. When you see someone without money to feed himself, or see a doctor, and you give him some money, that is called charity. This is something that should be done as a human being, and it is not equivalent to compassion. If compassion is like giving charity, then wouldn’t Buddhism be the same as other religions? Compassion comprises of two Chinese characters “慈” and “悲”. The first word “慈” means to give the best that one has to sentient beings in exchange for their suffering, which is something that none of you can do. And the second word “悲” means that you do all your best in helping to pull sentient beings out from the suffering sea of reincarnation, i.e., liberation.  And you don’t have this ability. You think that if you invite people to recite the Buddhist sutras and perform some Buddhist rituals on behalf of the deceased, then he would be liberated. But you never know whether the deceased has truly been liberated or not. Moreover, liberating the deceased is not that simple. So don’t think that you can help the deceased to go to the Pure Land simply by inviting a group of people to recite the Buddhist sutras.

You have heard the story of the Precious Penitential Rites by Emperor Liang. One of his concubines had strong resentment when she was living and fell into the Animal Realm and became a huge boa after she died. She appeared in the Emperor’s dream and told him that she was suffering a lot. During his reign, Emperor Liang promoted Buddhism and ordered ordained practitioners to become vegetarians. He also held many Buddhist events and even could write commentaries based on his understanding of Buddhism, something a million times more significant than what you are doing today. But Emperor Liang only had virtue but no merit. Therefore he did not have the ability to help liberate others. So Emperor Liang asked the State Teacher the Venerable Master Baozhi to write the penitential prayer. It is so said that Master Baozhi was a reincarnation of one-thousand-hand Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, and led his 1,000 precept-abiding and pure, ordained disciples in prostrating to 1,000 Buddhas and it took them five whole days before there was enough merits to liberate the concubine to the Heavenly Realm. Please note that it was 1,000 ordained practitioners at that time. Nowadays is there any Dharma reciters’ group in society that does what they did? And they must be those who are precept-abiding and pure ordained practitioners. The ordinary Dharma reciters’ group is a bunch of people with different minds of their own. Even the deceased would know if those who are invited to recite Buddhist sutras would be able to help him at all. If they don’t have that kind of ability, it would cause the deceased to have resentment and fall into the Evil Realms. In that case, they are really doing harm to the deceased.

Another example was the mother of Maudgalyayana. Maudgalyayana was formost in supernatural powers among Buddha Shakyamuni’s disciples. By using his ability, he was able to know that his mother fell into the Hungry Ghost Realm. So he sent food to his mother by using this supernatural power.  But the food turned into flames right on its way to pass the throat and she could not swallow it. Then Maudgalyayana went to implore Buddha Shakyamuni to liberate his mother. Buddha Shakyamuni taught Maudgalyayana to make offerings with food upon perfect completion of a retreat of the ordained practitioners, who were in no sense common ordained practitioners. They were instead all arahant. Only through the merits of ordained practitioners could Maudgalyayana’s mother be liberated and go to the virtuous realms. From here you can see that even with the capacity as powerful as what Maudgalyayana had, he still could not liberate the deceased.

From these two examples you may see that it would take a long time for an Exoteric practitioner to liberate the deceased even if the he is a precept-abiding and pure ordained practitioner. Liberation cannot be achieved with simple recitation of Buddhist sutras, unless you can find some practitioners who practice Tantrism and who can liberate the deceased with their own blessed reward.

Tantra is not mysterious. It is about the mind which has been resolved to benefit the sentient beings, and which will no longer change. Tantric practice does not only involve mantra chanting and making the vajra posture. It takes many lives of cultivation before one is able to learn Tantra, something that an ordinary person would never be able to do. Even with accumulation of cultivation through many lives, you still have to learn the sutras for at least 10 years and correctly understand the Buddha Dharma without errors, completely relinquished your own ideas, and upon the observation and approval of your guru, you then would be taught the Dharma of the yidam and receive empowerment. Before this takes place, you must also first complete the Ngondro, i.e., completing 100,000 times of grand prostration, recited 100,000 times of 100-Syllable Mantra of Vajrasattva, performed 100,000 times of mandala offerings, and recited 100,000 times of Guru yoga Prayer. If you take it seriously in practicing Buddhism, and by “seriously” it means at least eight hours of practice on an average daily basis, it would take at least two years’ time. As lay practitioners, with your current situation, jobs, family, etc., none of you would be able to do that. Many people know how to chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, but it will only be effective during your retreat when you can fully concentrate on it and nothing else distracts you. Some people hold a counter in hand, and as they chant the mantra, they press on the counter. The Dharma text says nothing about any counting device and this way it will not take any effect at all.

Some come here to attend the puja on behalf of their families. It’s either some people fall ill, or they would like to see their deceased family members liberated. But you need to expand your heart. According to the Buddhist sutras, you should extensively participate in Buddhist activities on behalf of the deceased. But this does not mean that you should go and light up all the lamps for the sake of deceased, and write the deceased’s name on the memorial tablet for liberation. Extensively participating means that you need to have an extended mind when you come to attend the puja, rather than just keeping your own parents of this life in mind. No one knows how many times we have been reincarnated from the time of no beginning. If we have been reincarnated for 100 times, then there would be 100 couples of parents that you need to help liberate. When the deceased is liberated, all the sentient beings and karmic creditors associated with him through all the past lives would also be liberated along with him. So you should not expect that only your own parents are liberated, as other sentient beings had been our parents. Thus we need to incorporate this idea into our mind extend it to all sentient beings in the universe, including the sentient beings that have been hurt by you, or by your parents, or eaten up, so that they can also be liberated.

The Chod is one of the Eight Sadhanas (eight methods of accomplishment) in Tibetan Buddhism. And accomplishment means that a practitioner who focuses on this method in this life would surely go to the Pure Land. The Chod was created by a yogini – a lay practitioner named Machig Lapdron. It was based on the Dharma method of Charity Giving by Buddha Shakyamuni during his cultivation while he was on the bodhisattva’s path as described in the Mahaprajnaparamita Sutra. Buddha Shakyamuni once demonstrated the Dharma methods of charity giving among the Six Realms, such as feeding the eagles by cutting off his own flesh, and so on. The Chod means that the practitioner “cuts off flesh” to give as charity. According to the Dharma text, when a Chod practitioner is performing the Chod, he needs to take off from his body the protective objects and statues of the Buddhas. When Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is performing the Chod, through contemplation, he offers his own corporal body to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and then to sentient beings in suffering, to satisfy their desires, so that they can leave such sufferings and receive help from Buddhism.

This method has been around for as long as a thousand years. Grand practitioners of many generations have passed it down from generation to generation; so it was not invented by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and you don’t need to doubt it. When sentient beings are liberated by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, They can at least go to the Heavenly Realm; with lesser beings going to the Human Realm and better ones going to the Pure Land. It’s very good that one can avoid going to the Three Evil Realms at all. But some of you may still doubt about the Chod’s effectiveness of liberation even if Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has said so. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has performed the Chod for many years. If those sentient beings have not been truly liberated, there would have been very bad consequences.

Then Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked one of the ordained disciples to provide explanation what would happen if the Dharma practitioner is not able to liberate the deceased. The disciple replied that if a Dharma practitioner does not have the capacity to liberate but still attempts to liberate the deceased, the practitioner would suffer from bad health, because he would have to repay with his own body, and after he dies he would go to hell. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche corrected her mistakes by saying that bad health does not result from repayment with the body. Rather, it is a result of you hurting the lives of sentient beings. So your body does not meet the qualification for repayment; it is not worthy of repayment. The ordained practitioner who replied to the question was once a chief member of a reciting group, believing that the deceased could be liberated through sutra recitation. She did not insist on how much she should get for her service, and the believers could offer her whatever amount they pleased. Each time she went out, she would recite at least 21 Buddhist sutras, which was quick a lot. But this disciple had no ability to liberate the deceased, who usually has ghost’s supernatural power and are very sensitive. They would know if the Dharma reciters have the ability to liberate or not. If not, it would cause them to be resentful and they would fall into the Hell Realm as a result.

If you cause the deceased to fall into the Hell Realm, your blessed reward would be drained really fast. And health is part of the blessed reward. With the blessed reward gone, naturally you would suffer from bad health. The ordained disciple had her health going from bad to worse since joining the reciting group, and there had been no cure, until she took refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, as her health began to gradually recover after that. You often have misunderstanding, thinking that bad health after joining the reciting group results from shouldering the karma of the sentient beings. That is not true. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is 65 years old this year and he enjoys great health still, allowing him to promoting Buddhism on a continuous basis. Why are people who learn Buddhism healthy? Human health is part of the blessed reward, and only with good health can you continue to make money, learn Buddhism, and accumulate the blessed reward. Virtue can be retained for use in the next life. But merits on the other hand, can turn around your karma and change this life of yours.

Many people think that if they don’t have a guru, they can recite the Buddhist sutras at home and attain accomplishment. Recently, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche heard about a disciple with breast cancer who thought that she could do just that by chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra at home. Then one night she had a dream in which many sentient beings were trying to catch her, and then she would chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra even harder. But the harder she was chanting the more tightly the sentient beings took hold of her. She panicked and shouted the Dharma name of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. As soon as the sentient beings heard this, they all let go of her and went vanishing immediately. This story does not show that it’s not effective to chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra. Rather, the chanting person’s heart is not effective. While shouting the Dharma name of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche proved to be effective, it was not because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was so incredible. Instead, it’s because at least Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has been practicing Buddhism, and has been benefiting and helping sentient beings on a constant basis. With merits you can liberate sentient beings. Take for an example this last trip abroad, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche saved a plane load of people when he was aboard the airplane. But it is not necessary for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to tell you this story in detail.

As a human existence, it’s either collecting debts or repaying them. When all has been repaid, this life is over. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche teaches you to turn your illness into the tool for your Buddhist practice. Being ill is a form of repayment. And it’s better to repay the debt earlier than to suffer the consequence of going to the Evil Realms. Everything that has happened to you is a manifestation of cause and effect and causal conditions. The fact that you are able to be in contact with Buddhism is also a result of the cause and effect of your last life. You all were learning Buddhism in your previous life, which allows you to have the opportunity to be in touch with Buddhism in this life, particularly the opportunity to attend the puja of Vajrayana. You could come today, that’s because of your affinity with the Drikung Kagyu Order and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in your previous lives. Otherwise you would not have had this opportunity. In this life of yours, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas gave you another opportunity to learn Buddhism. With this kind of affinity, you need to treasure it. Treasuring the affinity does not necessarily refer to the relationship. Rather, you need to cherish the opportunity to learn Buddhism, and extend it. That way, you would not waste the human form that you had acquired through many good deeds in your past lives.

You all say that you’re so busy that you don’t have time to learn Buddhism, and that you have to wait until after you have obtained a flourishing career, purchased a house, seen your children getting married. As a matter of fact, no matter how busy you are, you would never be busier than Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, who is also a lay practitioner with a mother, children, 1,200 disciples and 100 employees. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche knows your excuses just like his own palms and fingers, and would not be fooled like ordinary ordained practitioners in society. To Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, Buddhist practice is taking place every minute, every second. You have the time to watch TV and gossip, but you say you don’t have time to learn Buddhism. Every day, you spend eight hours at work, eight hours sleeping, two hours eating, and with the rest of the time you watch TV, chat with people, go online. So when it comes to being busy, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is way busier than any of you sitting here, and the guru does not have more second more than 24 hours in a day just like everyone else. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche just came back to Taiwan from abroad yesterday, and could preside over the puja for all of you today. In addition, every day Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performs many Dharmas that many of you do not even know. So make no more excuses and arrange your time properly to learn Buddhism. Human life last only a few dozen years. If you don’t grasp the opportunities, it’ll be over before you know it.

Some people would wonder what it looks like in the hell. They doubt the existence of the hell for no one has ever seen it. So they would wait until they get there and decide what to do. There are even some who would say, since Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is so remarkable, he should reveal it for them to see. Only that way they would believe it. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche told them, as a matter of fact, it’s not that some people only go to hell after they die. If a person has acted purely out of goodness, he would have no suffering before he dies. Before someone breathes the last breath, you’d often see him suffer a lot, with fists clenched tight and eye brows frowned in great pain. Such is a sign that he would be falling to the Evil Realms after his death. In comparison with people in the older times, modern people tend to suffer a lot of medically-induced pain before they die. And there are children who consider themselves to have great filial piety for their parents; they want the doctors to do all they can to save the dying people, thinking that keeping them alive for one more minutes would be beneficial. So they go all out for emergency measures such as electric shock resuscitation, CPR, etc., to the extent that sometime the patients’ chest ribs are cracked due to excessive pressure applied.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche helps to liberate the deceased by summoning their consciousness. Those who received emergency measures before they died would say that they experience enormous pain in the chest. In fact, the way that you try to save the life of the deceased with what is called emergency measures causes the deceased to have heavy resentment and thus fall into the hell. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche does not mean that you should give up the emergency measures, which indeed have resulted in saving some people’s lives after such measures. But you really need to see the patient’s condition. If even the doctors assess that he is in the terminal stage, emergency measures are only to increase his suffering. Even the Western Medicine knows that such measures would bring a great deal of pain to the dying person, and so they promote the establishment of so-called hospices and respect the decisions made by the patients themselves. Many people in Taiwan, on the contrary, are not readily accepting such ideas of palliative care, thinking that their filial piety require them to order emergency measures for their dying parents. As a matter of fact, real filial piety is best demonstrated by learning Buddhism.

Don’t assume that going to hell is nothing serious, and you’d be born again after 18 years.  It’s not that simple! Calculated with the time that we humans are familiar with, it would take at least 1,000 years. When your life ends, you don’t immediately go to the Human Realm. Rather, the first place you go would be the Hungry Ghost Realm, where you’d stay for a few lives before you’d be able to go to the Animal Realm. Only when all your karmic retribution is fulfilled would you then have an opportunity to be born human again. And even if that happens, you’d be born in a very poor and lowly family. It is because of the cultivation through many lives, you have the opportunity to listen to the Buddha Dharma in this life. If you lose this opportunity to learn Buddhism, it would be very difficult to have it back again. You miss it this time and let go, there will no longer be another opportunity for you. It’s not like you’ve lost your boyfriend or girlfriend, and you can always find another by chasing someone else; or you’ve lost your wealth but you can always make more money. Buddhism is not like that, because your opportunity to learn it only comes after you have conducted many good deeds in your previous lives. Once you lose it, it will be very hard to get it back.

The Chod is Tantra. The fact that you’re able to attend the puja means that you have the causal condition of listening to Tantra in your previous lives, and that’s why you could come today. Do not have a heart for doubt, or think that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is teaching you too much. In fact it really is not necessary for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to teach you so much. But we have a lot of believers today. Some of you came to the puja because they have deceased family members who need to be liberated, and they came along with the family with a mentality to just take a look. It will not do you any good if you came to the puja with this kind of mind. To properly attend the puja, you need to have a heart for reverence, repentance and compassion. When you have committed a fault, you should be courageous enough to admit it and repent it. Those who do not admit their faults would not have a successful path in life. It’s just like the election. There were people who made mistakes but refused to admit them. You can see that from the results of election. Everyone comes to the puja with a different purpose, and each will have a different result from the puja because of that. A practitioner performs the Dharma with a heart of equality to help sentient beings, and you receive help regardless of what your backgrounds are. But when you come to attend the puja, besides having a heart for the three things mentioned above, you must also calm down and concentrate, leaving out all other distracting thoughts and your desires that may get mixed in the process. In this way, countless sentient beings that are related to you would be able to receive help.

Some people think that Tantrism is quite mysterious. In fact it’s really your unfamiliarity with it that makes you feel mysterious. Take for example the teaching of a university professor, an elementary school pupil would of course be unable to understand him, and thus would think that such contents are mysterious. When his study has reached the level of Ph.D., he would not be feeling mysterious any more. In addition, a university professor may only take one or two Ph.D. students instead of a hundred, unlike the elementary school which would have as many as over 40 pupils per class. And the levels of study between them are very different indeed.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has a very strict method of teaching, and he is well-known for that in the Tantric circle. Many people have heard that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is very strict with his disciples. If Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had not been so strict, there could have been at least 100,000 disciples under him. The guru is also very strict with the process with regard to who are qualified enough to be his disciples. When many people come to implore Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to let them take refuge, the guru would ask them why they would like to take refuge? If they don’t have the right mindset, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would not accept them. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche does not try to convince you that you need to learn Buddhism for the purpose that you take refuge under him. Today you all receive help from the Buddha Dharma, and it’s in your best interest that you learn Buddhism in the future. You may do that in some other Buddhist centers instead of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center. We already have too many people here but many Buddhist centers still need more believers. You’d make them happy if you choose to go there.

Some of you are willing to go vegetarian for a while in order that the puja can liberate their deceased family members. But Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche requires that whoever comes to the puja should remain vegetarian for the rest of your life. Why? Because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s pujas can help liberate ancestors of those families with good causal conditions to the Pure Land, those lesser ones can go to the Heavenly Realm, and even the worst may go to the Human Realm. In the Pure Land and the Heavenly Realm sentient beings have supernatural powers which can really protect you. But when your ancestors in the Pure Land, and the Heavenly and Human Realms see you still not learning Buddhism after realistically taking advantage of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, wouldn’t they give you a hard time and teach you a lesson?

There is someone among the ordinary people who says that if you plant a tree of U.S. dollars, the dollar bills would be growing out of it. That is absurd. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas did not have any idea what U.S. dollars were in their times. So don’t expect that everything is going to be fine after you attend the puja. On the contrary, something bad may happen to you, like you falling ill, or some minor accidents. All these are reduced effect of your heavy karmic retribution, allowing you to have the opportunity to repay your debts first.

If someone is feeling like dozing off, please stand up and leave. According to the Buddhist sutras, if you doze off when listening to Buddhist teachings you’d fall into the Animal Realm as your karmic retribution in your next life. This is not to scare you but rather something recorded in the Buddhist sutras. If you really feel sleepy, learn from the ancient man who stabbed his own thigh with an awl to keep himself awake, or pinch your own leg. You can even ask your neighbors to help you by pinching you whenever they see you falling asleep. As a consequence you would find your legs full of black and blue bruising marks and think that it’s something that the ghost has done to you. No ghost will come and eat you. At today’s puja it’s only possible that the ghost may come and eat Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s body instead of yours. However, since you are attending the puja and are accumulating the blessed reward, you would turn into animals in your next life, which would take the form of pet dogs and cats to be loved like children of the adoptive family. There are so many pet dogs nowadays, and they are all those who tended to doze off during the puja in the previous life. They had the blessed reward which turned them into pets.

Then, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the auspicious Chod. The guru asked the attendees to contemplate that their own ancestors were on their right hand side and their peers and younger generations on the left, with sentient beings behind us and the karmic creditors of our past lives in front of us. Think of this over once facing the mandala. Do not mistake the attendee sitting next to you as your ancestor. The reason why you are asked to contemplate like this is to remind you that you’re not attending the puja for yourself; rather, you’re doing it on behalf of sentient beings related to you.

After performing the Chod, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to say: now that you are all here attending the puja, you should avoid eating a great deal of meat and seafood during the celebrating period of the Chinese New Year. If you cannot remain a vegetarian, don’t come to the puja any more. Don’t assume that being a vegetarian would cause you inconvenience or would embarrass you. Such are your own feelings. Obviously enough, being a vegetarian has all the benefits and no harmful effects at all. So it’s really nothing bad. Don’t think that you’d have no friends if you keep being a vegetarian, what you have as friends now are friends based on alcohol and meat in the first place. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has been a vegetarian since the age of 36 and has never felt any inconvenience at all. Even when dining in the three-star Michelin Restaurant abroad Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche also was able to order all vegetarian entries. The foreign chefs can also be creative with vegetarian food. In a place as rigid as Japan, you can find vegetarian food with no difficulty. So the idea of inconvenience only exists in your mind. Some people are good at finding excuses, saying that their family may oppose to this idea, and that their mothers would blame them and their husbands would be upset with them if they don’t eat meat and seafood. You have all lied to others. Why then can’t you pretend that eating meat would make you vomit? I don’t believe it. Would your family force you to eat meat if it makes you vomit?

And don’t tell me that “The meat and wine go through the intestines but the Buddha keeps sitting in the middle of your heart.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche knows what you have in your mind and tell it for you. This is what the Monk Daoji would say. He had the capacity to eat the fish and turn it into a live fish and spit it out of his mouth. From the perspective of Zen Buddhism, one would have to at least attain a level of cultivation with full concentration and no distraction at all. From the Tantric point of view, however, you would have to attain the stage of the Simplicity Yoga. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has said many times that he could not eat the fish and turn it into a live fish and spit it. That’s why the guru is afraid of eating meat and seafood. But you all still dare to eat meat, all so bravely! This is Zen talk. Can the Buddha sitting in the middle of your heart? The Buddha may change to become very large and how would you have enough space for that?

It’s up to your resolve whether you would be able to learn Buddhism or not. Choosing to be a vegetarian would only change your eating habit. And from the scientific perspective, the serious effect of global warming is the result of meat eating, because in order to provide meat, a great number of animals have to be raised, for which a great deal of feed grass must be planted. In addition, these animals produce enormous amount of gas that also contributes to the global warming effect.

Some people claim that too much soy products you eat as a vegetarian would lead to gout. But it actually is a result of eating too much fried mushrooms, as fried food is quite harmful. Moreover, mushrooms have a high concentration of nutrition in addition to other specific elements, which leads to gout. So don’t say that there is no intake of nutrition if you are a vegetarian. What we eat will turn into cells of our body. That’s why those who love to eat chicken would look like a chicken, and those who like eating pork would take after a pig. Whether you see it from the perspective of science, or environmental protection, or the Buddhist theory of cause and effect, it all is telling you the benefit of becoming a vegetarian. But you still choose to eat meat, which as a matter of fact is only satisfying your taste and your appetite. If you eat meat and spit it after chewing on it, would you still want to put the chewed meat back into your mouth? In fact, meat itself has no flavor at all. Would it be tasty if you don’t put any seasonings on it? When you are steaming a fish, would you still want to eat it if you have not put anything like ginger roots, spring onion, and other seasonings on it? Therefore, what you taste is really only the seasonings, and eating meat only exists in your desire! The fact is that vegetarian food is beneficial to the skin. If a girl keeps eating vegetarian food, each year she can save a lot of money that she otherwise would spend on skin care products.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s mother is almost 90 years old now. Not long ago she had a surgery to have her pacemaker replaced. She did not take a single pain killer after the surgery and had the stitches removed and was discharged from the hospital in only seven days. Even the doctors were saying that this was a miracle. She even returned the painkillers to the doctor without knowing that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had already paid for all the cost of the procedures and the medication. And with the hospital, they have the “no refund on any sales” policy. There is no such a thing as miracle in the world. All this can be attributed to her son Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s diligence in learning Buddhism and helping his mother in practicing Buddhism. According to the Buddhist sutras, those with true filial piety are those who learn Buddhism, because the virtue resulting from Buddhist practice by the children can influence their parents. But since Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s mother has had karma of killing, she had to go through two surgeries, which served as repayment for her debts. But that was really lessened effects of her heavy karmic retribution. Her suffering from the surgeries was much less comparing to those who have to go through similar procedures.

The reason why all of us were born in the Age of Degenerate Dharma is that the karma is heavy and there is no root capacity. As modest as he is, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would not say that he is a model for you. But at least he can serve as your example in that even though the guru does not have good root capacity, he has better causal conditions in this life in learning Buddhism than you. A year before Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche took refuge, a friend of his brought him to meet with an old monk named Guangqin during the Chinese New Year. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was standing right next to the monk who did not utter a single word except glanced at him. After returning home, it became impossible for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to eat meat again, who threw up every time he did. At that time, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s family said a man would be feeble if he became vegetarian. So Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche tried to eat a few bites with reluctance. But he threw up every time he did that. From then, nobody really would insist on his eating meat any more. From this you can see Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has better affinity than you in that the old monk Guangqin only stared at him once and enabled him to stop eating meat. But you still keep eating meat no matter what methods Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche uses to try to stop you from doing that, including coaxing, lying, reprimanding, trying every possible way to convince you but to no avail.

With Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche being so strict with you, still there was a disciple who was eating crab secretly. As a result he was paralyzed and could not move his whole body. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked him whether he ate crab or not. He didn’t admit it at first. The second time Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked him, and told him if he still refused to admit then Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would no longer help him, he then admitted it. Eating meat will certainly have karmic retribution. Many people see a great deal of suffering from illnesses and diseases on the part of their family and friends before they die. But not everyone has to go through this before he dies. Those who are learning Buddhism will have an opportunity to avoid subjecting themselves to such suffering completely before they die.

The second great causal condition that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has is that he was able to meet with His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. As soon as His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang saw Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, he handed over the other end of the prayer beads that he was holding in his hand to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and started to transmit the Dharma directly. You may feel that there is nothing to it really. But as practitioners of Tantra, we normally would never allow anyone else to touch the prayer beads. It’s not like what you’d think that the beads would get dirty. Rather, touching it would mean transmission of the Dharma. There is something very special to this, which will not be touched upon today.

In 1995 Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went to visit the Drikung Thil Monastery in Tibet. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche only told the receiving lama that he wished to see the oldest practitioner in the monastery. Immediately, Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche’s attending lama said that his guru told him today that there would be a person from a foreign country who’d come to seek an audience with Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche, and that person should be Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. At that time, Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche was in a retreat, and as such he would normally not meet with any guests. But he made an exception and met with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. The treat room had only a small window through which a lama could pass food to the practitioner. Just as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche reached his head inside the small window to give Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche his blessing, there came a “snap” – Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche had already cut off a small lock of hair from Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and officially let Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche take refuge under him. After that, Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche gave Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche an oral transmission of the refuge prayer and bestowed him a Dharma name. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did not have to implore Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche before the great Rinpoche officially took him as a disciple. What about you? Many people cannot take refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche even if they implore the guru time and again.

These are the good roots that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has through many lives. But even if Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had the opportunity to meet with His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, nothing would have happened for him later if Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did not make up his mind and resolved to learn Buddhism diligently and change himself. The Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows describes that the most difficult thing in the world is to help to liberate the human being, arrogant and hard to subdue. So, it’s important to have the resolution to mend your way. Treasure the good causal conditions when you have come across them, and resolve your own problems within this life time. That way, you are cherishing the affinity and making it perfect.

The Chinese New Year is fast approaching. Many people are happy. But the New Year in fact means that you have one few year to live in the world, one fewer year for you to learn Buddhism. So why are you so happy about it? On the New Year’s Eve, many people would drive a long way, stuck in the traffic for hours, just so that they can go home and have a family reunion dinner. The movement of such large scale crowds, the use of motor vehicles, and their emissions all contribute to air pollution and the global warming. The reunion dinner is just a custom from the early times of agricultural society when it wasn’t easy for people to get together. They toiled and labored all year round and could rest a bit only during the Chinese New Year period. They had very simple food usually, but during this time, they could gather together and eat a little bit more than usual. Now we are in a commercial society and it’s so easy to get together. Not only that, but we also eat quite a lot on a regular basis. So it really is unnecessary to feed yourself with a great deal of meat and seafood. But Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche will not stop you from going home and reunite with your family.

The puja came to a perfect conclusion. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche wished everyone a happy Chinese New Year. All of the attendees expressed their gratitude in unison to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for tirelessly performing the auspicious Chod and bringing benefit to countless sentient beings.

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Updated on April 5, 2012