His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings

April 8, 2012

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presided over a Refuge Puja at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Taipei in which 43 believers took refuge.

Before the puja, an ordained female disciple shared her experience in attending the farewell ceremony of another ordained female disciple who had passed away recently.

The ordained female disciple expressed that everyone knew that yesterday (April 7) was the date on which there would be a farewell ceremony for the deceased ordained Dharma brother, in which she would be buried at sea. When she arrived at the site of the ceremony, she was very touched and amazed, as the venue was solemn, peaceful and magnificent. This reminded her of the days when she was taking care of a somewhat well-known Dharma master who served as an abbess four years ago. The Dharma master was suffering from pancreatic cancer and was particularly difficult to take care of in the last three months of her life, since she had swollen lower limbs and ascites, which made it difficult for her to eat or sleep. This abbess-Dharma master used to teach The Hua Yan Sutra and took in many disciples. But as she was dying, she was very confused, mentally in disarray, and felt at a loss as to what she could depend on. Thus, taking care of the master was like pushing a stroller of a baby as she was constantly pushing her wheelchair to and fro in the shrine of the Buddhist temple. The Dharma master often told her that she was very scared, and this disciple had to keep ascertaining the master, “The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are right in front of you, so hurry and chant the Buddha’s name.” They would spend the day like that. When night fell, the master would be even more afraid of going to bed. Everyone was trying to appease her, encouraging her to rest in bed. And soon after going to bed, she lay dying there and had her last breath the following day at noon.

When she saw the master’s dead body, she had fear from the bottom of her heart. This was not the first time she came in contact with a dead body but she had never felt so scared, not to mention the fact that it was the person whom she had been taking care of on a daily basis. She did not know why the deceased’s look made her fear so much that she did not want to get close, staying as far away as possible. She did not dare to get close even when it was time for encoffinment, seeing from afar ascites overflowing from the mouth of the deceased, spilling all over the floor, too much even for the shroud and tissue papers to absorb. In the end, many major Buddhist temples in central Taiwan spent a lot of money to set up the mourning halls where the farewell ceremony was held, but it did not have the air of peacefulness and solemnity, not to mention magnificence.

So when she saw the farewell ceremony of her Dharma brother which was far better than that of the abbess, she thought to herself that had they not followed Most Venerable Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, they wouldn’t have been able to keep such calm. She felt that she was very fortunate to be able to follow His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

She had been hearing about the disappearance of the swollen condition and the ascites of the deceased body of her Dharma brother, and had been very much looking forward to seeing her Dharma brother’s body herself. When it was time to view her Dharma brother’s face yesterday, she eagerly followed her Dharma brother’s family into the mourning hall. She had a feeling that was beyond her expression upon seeing the body, with a strong desire to stay there and talk with her. It had been two weeks since her Dharma brother passed away, but her face looked so serene. She really wanted to stop and take another look at her.

Before taking refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, she used to help others who passed away by reciting the Buddhist sutras for them. None of them was able to go so peacefully and serenely, and that’s because “Who is not afraid of death? Who does not have an attachment to this world?” The emotions that rose during the dying moments could hardly be calmed down and stabilized merely with her reciting the Buddhist sutras. The peacefulness and sereneness that had accompanied her Dharma brother as she passed away made her feel the compassion and auspiciousness of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

As she was witnessing the farewell ceremony in the mourning hall, tears kept welling up in her eyes. The biggest blessed reward that she had in this life was following such a compassionate and meritorious guru – Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. She must take a firm hold onto a corner of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s clothes so that she would not waste her great blessed reward or keep making evil karma with a confused mind.

Then a second disciple stepped up to the front to share his experience in attending the farewell ceremony and the sea burial. Before the ceremony, he was feeling that it was quite gloomy and cold outside as a staff member on duty outside. As the ceremony started, blue sky appeared only directly above the hall in which the farewell ceremony of his Dharma brother was held, with the sunlight shedding through. As the ceremony came to an end, that part of the sky went back to be as gloomy and cold as it had been before. He was truly praising the compassion, merits and great attainment of His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

The weather condition on the day of the sea burial, according to a seafaring specialist, was not good, with quite strong wind and waves. As the ship was sailing out to sea, the sky was a big haze, and layer after layer of dark clouds had shrouded it (as shown in Photo 1).

▲ Photo 1

Before the ship was about to anchor on the open sea, the clouds remained thick but the sky had become brighter. Just as the ashes of his Dharma brother was being scattered in the sea, a ray of sun came through the layers of clouds, shedding light on the surface of the sea. He looked up into the sky following the direction of the ray, and found that now clouds had been broken and the sky was opened up, allowing the sun to shed light through the opening (as shown in Photo 2).

▲ Photo 2

Then all of a sudden the surrounding clouds turned into a sky blue color (as shown in Photo 3).

▲ Photo 3

The edges of the clouds started to become reddish gradually (as shown in Photo 4).

▲ Photo 4

The rapidly changing clouds deeply impressed and amazed the Dharma brothers who were attending the sea burial. All this was a sign of auspiciousness as a result of compassionate blessings from His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

Then, a third Dharma brother told the attendees how His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche whole-heartedly was taking care of disciples and benefiting sentient beings after the ordained Dharma brother passed away. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performed the Phowa for the ordained Dharma brother immediately after she passed away, and then instructed others how to take care of the funeral arrangements. The guru wanted the disciples to select the largest hall in the funeral home for the farewell ceremony, and also told them that they needed to hire someone to take care of the very elderly mother of the deceased, all at the expense of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. The guru was taking care of someone else’s mother as if she were his own mother, and someone else’s children as if they were his own. He not only was helping the disciple but also her family. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche handed over NT$200,000 to a disciple that day to pay the funeral home for the funeral arrangements. Everything had been taken care of by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Last Saturday the family of the deceased came to express their gratitude to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and seek an opportunity to make offerings to the guru. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche told her family that he would surely take good care of his disciples. The fact that the disciple had passed away turned out to be beneficial to her family in that they were able to see the auspiciousness of Buddhism, which led them to believe in the Buddha and start to learn Buddhism. The guru also stated that learning Buddhism was not to be treated as a condition or to make money.

You could see that over 20 people came from the Dharma brother’s family to attend the farewell ceremony yesterday. At first, the second sister-in-law of the Dharma brother notified that only a few family members would be attending the farewell ceremony. But in the end almost all came, including two family members of the younger generation that were not planning to participate due to the fact that their zodiac signs were in conflict with that of the deceased. That’s because the deceased Dharma brother’s ex-abbess told them that whatever had been arranged by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would be best for everyone, and that the two family members of the younger generation should attend it without worry. Yesterday, many ordained Dharma masters also attended the farewell ceremony, and over 100 of attendees were family, friends and guests, in addition to over 400 from the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center. How would all these people have been accommodated if it had not been such a large hall? All this was made possible thanks to the meticulous arrangement of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

From the very beginning, the family of the Dharma brother had no idea how to take care of the funeral arrangements until the grand and solemn farewell ceremony yesterday, in which everything was so reassuring to her family. They felt very pleased with it rather than stressed or nervous. Even her ex-master, the abbess, commented that the farewell ceremony was very auspicious and that everyone was deeply impressed! Yesterday after seeing her face for the last time, which had the look of serenity, everyone was saying that the Dharma brother had lots of blessed reward to have such a compassionate and meritorious guru who helped and took care of her. It had been indeed well worth the Dharma brother’s efforts in leaving Keelung for Taipei! Her family joyfully registered themselves to participate in the Grand Memorial Puja Commemorating the 795th Anniversary of Lord Jigten Sumgon of the Drikung Kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism to be held in June and the Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness in August.

On the day of cremation, personnel in the crematory said that since the deceased had osteoporosis, the ashes would appear rather powdery after cremation. Sure enough, it turned out to be like crushed powder, but displaying a pinkish and a variety of other colors. There was a complete skull piece showing a clear round hole, which was the auspicious sign brought about by the effect of the Phowa performed by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

The disciple remarked that while all of us did not have enough blessed reward to live in the age of the Buddha, indeed we had the blessed reward to follow Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, who was just the same as the Buddha, with great compassion and capacity. This was the last opportunity for everyone, who should treasure such auspicious causal condition to learn Buddhism.

Finally, an elderly female disciple said modestly that she had never spoken in public with a microphone in hand. She was very grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for the compassionate blessing, which lent her the courage to share her story about Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche helping her husband.

On January 18 of this year (2012), a home care nurse and a physician of a certain university-affiliated hospital in Taipei paid a monthly visit to her home. Her husband had been bedridden for over three years. The physician said during the visit that her husband had such severe shortness of breath that he needed to be sent to the hospital immediately for treatment. She was a bit hesitant at first, thinking that the Chinese New Year would come soon but the doctor was urging her three times to call for an ambulance. The doctor didn’t leave until the ambulance arrived. This was the 10th time in three years that her husband had to be sent to emergency and hospitalized. After the examination, it was found that his leukocytes were as high as more than 30,000. After the sputum bacteria were cultured, antibiotics were administered. His lung started to improve but there was still severe shortness of breath. The heart examination revealed that the cardiac valves had hardened so much that they had problems opening and closing.

During the evening prayers on Saturday, February 11, she prayed to Dharma Protector Achi to help her husband pass away without suffering if his time had come! It was really too much suffering for him who depended on the powerful oxygen machine for breathing, which was unbearable for her.

On Sunday, February 12, she went to the hospital to be with her husband and told the foreign caregiver what to do for her husband in accordance with the teachings of the guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche regarding the changes of the body before a person died, in addition to the readings of blood pressure, heart rate and blood oxygenation from the various instrumentations. Then she left for the Buddhist Center to attend the puja and turned her cell phone off. Upon completion of the puja, she received a text message from her daughter-in-law: Father-in-law passed away at 2:19 p.m.; family has already been chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra; no need to worry.

She immediately told her team leader about it and sought an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. So they both kneeled in the elevator area waiting for the guru to come out of the lounge. She told the guru, “My husband just passed away. I implore Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to help him.” It must have been that she did not make herself understood clearly, as the guru asked, “What?” The Dharma brother, i.e., the team leader, immediately helped her out, “She said her husband had just passed away.” The guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then instructed, “Wait for the Chod!” She thanked the guru for being so compassionate in agreeing to help them during the most helpless time for the deceased as well as those who were alive.

With Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s permission, she rushed to the hospital to chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra together with her family. Eight hours later, the caregiver told her, “I have done everything following your instructions. I have put the nectar pill into your husband’s mouth before he passed away. Three nurses were helping with changing him and changing beds. Chaos lasted about 10 minutes before everything was ready. His son and daughter-in-law had been with him in his last moments. No one touched him again after he was moved to another bed. He went very peacefully, with no desperate breathing or struggling, just like going to sleep as usual, quietly, with the only regret being that his mouth was not completely closed. Your husband’s body used to be quite rigid but it became very soft before passing away. He had clear consciousness the day before.” Upon hearing this, she lifted the sheet that covered her husband’s body and saw a miracle had taken place – his mouth was closed very naturally, not too loose or tight. It brought them a heartfelt smile. When hospital staff members were lifting his husband’s body to put it into the freezer, it was still quite soft. The blessing was already taking effect the moment when the guru said, “Wait for the Chod!” She was very grateful for the guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessing. How incredible the guru’s awe-inspiring power and great merits really were!

When Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche agreed to perform the Chod for her husband’s liberation, she was being silly in assuming that the Chod Puja was only held in the Buddhist Center at the end of each month. So they decided to postpone the funeral day until March. The guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche must have felt the fear that the deceased had experienced in not knowing where to go. So all of a sudden the guru moved the Chod Puja up to February 19. Thanks to the guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate help, both the deceased and those alive were able to restore their calm from a state of panic, and the guru’s grace and merits would not be forgotten forever.

She, her son and her daughter-in-law were chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra as well as the name of Buddha Amitabha everyday for the deceased. When the guru completed performing the Chod on February 19, both her son and daughter-in-law remarked, “How remarkable and amazing Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche truly is! It’s really incredible. Now we feel different when chanting the mantra, experiencing a state of mind that is peaceful with a sense of joy and with no sorrow or pain. It must be that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had liberated Dad to be reborn in the Pure Land.” The awe-inspiring power and great merits of the guru had been revealed one by one. All she and her family felt for the guru was gratitude and more gratitude.

With the liberation through the Chod performed by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, her husband’s skull had an obvious round hole in it after cremation, with the ashes in whitish color with a pinkish tone, and in the ashes there were two small pieces that showed a beautiful emerald green color. Such an incredible result from a body that had been in the freezer for quite a few days, could have been made possible only by the revered guru – Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Such grand capacity was rarely found in the world. She thanked Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for his compassionate help, which turned her husband – who had only been received by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche twice – into such a fortunate one with such blessed reward that he was liberated through the guru’s help with the Chod to be reborn in the Pure Land and never suffer from reincarnation again.

Her husband’s funeral was on March 14, a day when it kept raining, cold and wet. She was grateful to two ordained Dharma brothers and a few dozen other Dharma brothers for attending the farewell ceremony. Thanks to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings of many years, the disciples had become very united, proving the fact that Dharma brothers were closer than blood brothers. She expressed deep gratitude to Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for bringing such great caring among the Dharma brothers, and for the warm care that she received when she was sick or well.

The one that she wanted to thank most was the rare and compassionate guru – Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. For over 10 years she had received countless precious blessings, which enabled her, a person with 3/4 of her stomach removed, to look like a healthy person.

Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presided over the Refuge Puja in which 43 believers took refuge.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche stated that the refuge ceremony would be held today, and that taking refuge is a very important starting point of your Buddhist practice. It marks the beginning of learning Buddhism and signifies that you would stop the evil acts and do the good deeds. Without taking refuge, you would not be liberated from the suffering of life and death even if you have kept the precepts. For the past two months, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has not taught Buddhism in the puja, as there have been so many teachings taught already. But no one has really changed, and that’s why there is no need to talk about it anymore. Today, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has opened his mouth to teach during the puja because over 40 people were imploring to take refuge. Why is there a Refuge Puja? It is to fulfill your aspirations, since many had applied to take refuge a long time ago. That way, you wouldn’t say that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has a discriminative mind.

Many of you have taken refuge before, which may take various forms. One of them is taking refuge by affinity. In addition, there is also taking refuge by practicing the Bodhisattvas’ paths and by Vajrayana empowerment. Buddhism, as Buddha Shakyamuni taught, is about helping sentient beings be liberated from the suffering of reincarnation in the Six Realms. Some people take refuge under a guru who does not teach Dharma method for liberation from life and death. Such is taking refuge by affinity. Today’s refuge ceremony takes the form adopted by Exoteric Buddhism, and it is different from the precepts required for those who take refuge in the Bodhisattva path and Vajrayana.

Most of you took refuge by affinity. But don’t assume that you’re learning and practicing Buddhism simply because you took refuge. Many people would not diligently learn and practice Buddhism or mend their ways by following the teachings of the guru, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas because they think that they have taken refuge and thus have protection and blessings. If this is so then there is no use taking refuge in the first place. Some think that they can practice Buddhism by reciting the Buddhist sutras at home. Nowadays you turn on the television and can watch many people promoting Buddhism. Some people even say that the sitting room in their house is a grand Buddhist center. Practicing Buddhism at home will not result in any attainment. It’s almost impossible for a person to achieve any attainment if he does not receive teachings of a guru. The reason that Tibetan Buddhism emphasized the importance of the guru is that a Buddhist practitioner must have the supervision of a guru before he may achieve any attainment. Practicing Buddhism is about taking refuge under a meritorious guru who lives his life in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings, following the teachings of the guru and the Buddha, learning the Dharma method for liberation from life and death, and mending your speech, acts, and mind.

Learning Buddhism should be a process of nurturing. Don’t assume that after learning Buddhism for one or two years you’d know everything. Buddha Shakyamuni taught the Dharma for 49 years, and you spent at least 20 years from primary school to college studying. So what is the basis for you to say you know things after a short period of learning? Buddhism is about a gradual process of teaching you in the right order. But that does not mean that you should do it slowly. On the contrary, you should do it diligently after you have accepted the teachings of the guru and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Gradually, you would be learning Buddhism in the right sequence in order to make progress. If you feel the preciousness of Buddhism from the bottom of your heart, have firm belief in cause and effect, practice it by following the guru’s teachings, and mend all your acts that will lead you to reincarnation, then you are practicing the Supramundane Dharma well. And with that, you should also have no problems with the practice of Mundane Dharma gradually.

Taking refuge is nothing to be taken lightly. If you want to take refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche but have no intention to practice Buddhism, then you shouldn’t come up to take refuge today. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche does not need more disciples. And with over 1,100 disciples now, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche will maintain this number, and will even expel the disciples who do not practice Buddhism in accordance with the Dharma. If you are doubtful and faithless about the guru, then don’t take refuge, and you may leave now. With the grand capacity of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, it is not necessary to explain to you that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is not an ordinary man like you think. So leave now if you don’t have the faith. Why is it not necessary to explain? It’s like a professor of a university trying to explain college-level matters to primary school pupils. Is that possible? Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche shouldn’t have said about having such and such grand capacity. There is nothing to brag about, nor is it a sign of egotism and arrogance. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is saying so because of the achievements attained. This is to tell you that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche can provide such auspicious help in liberating the deceased with the grand capacity, resulting in a hole in the skull of the deceased after death. If you cannot do that, then you are not qualified to make any comment.

A while back an ordained believer told Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had mentioned that the Sixteen Visualizations of the Pure Land is Tantra. But this is not described as such in the Buddhist sutras. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche stated, whoever is asking this question has doubt about his guru, therefore, he should not stay. Do not assume that since you have already taken ordination and started to learn Buddhism, you can arrogantly claim that you understand everything and can even debate with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche whether there is Tantra or not! If you are able to successfully perform the Phowa for the deceased with manifestation of many auspicious signs, then you’d have the qualifications to sit in front of, and debate with, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Take refuge only if you have faith and do not take refuge if you don’t. This is also true for those who have taken refuge already. If you don’t have faith, you may leave now. If you feel that Tantra is something false, you should ask yourself if you are capable of liberating the deceased and perform the Dharma so that various auspicious signs can be seen from the body of the deceased. Or you can ask a Dharma master, whom you are acquainted with, if he can try to do it. If not, then he doesn’t have the qualifications to criticize, either.

The ordained disciple who was sharing her experience before the puja mentioned that she was taking care of an abbess who used to teach on the Hua Yan Sutra. While the abbess was specialized in explaining the Hua Yan Sutra, she had not been able to carry out what is taught in its contents. Many people think that the Hua Yan Sutra is about Tantra, and they even set up mandalas dedicated to the Hua Yan Sutra. But Tantra cannot be taught publicly. If it is taught publicly, then both the teacher and the listener would have problems.

The first of the two Chinese characters that constitute the word “taking refuge” is “皈” (“gui”) which is formed with two parts – the left part meaning “white” and the right part meaning “turning back,” indicating a process of turning something from black into white. This means that one is stopping the “black acts”, i.e., the evil acts, which refers to everything that will cause you to fall into reincarnation. On the other hand, “white acts” represent the good acts – everything that will help set you free from the reincarnation of life and death. Over the last dozen years you’ve been indulging your mind, always thinking that you’re not the one at fault, that every thought you have and every decision you make are correct. When you do anything in your speech, acts and mind that would bring benefit to yourself, you are creating evil karma, and it will cause you to start reincarnation. Karma is not necessarily bad karma. It is also divided into good and bad. As long as it is something that causes you to fall into reincarnation, then it is karma. Since every movement of thought that you have will cause you to fall into reincarnation, you should not say again that you have not committed faults.

The ritual for taking refuge is quite simple, but it carries profound significance. At other Buddhist centers, nobody will explain the significance of taking refuge in such a great detail. But when a Refuge Puja is held in the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would expound upon what it means to take refuge. When you decide to take refuge, it is a decision to stop doing evil and start doing good. This is like when you want to go to school you need to register first, and then study well following the instructions of the teacher. Upon taking refuge, you should also diligently learn Buddhism and mend all of your acts, speech and mind that will cause you to suffer from reincarnation by abiding by the Dharma methods taught by the guru, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. This way, you will have the opportunity to restore your pure nature.

After taking refuge, don’t come and ask what to do with the tablets dedicated to the deities or the statue of Mazu that you used to worship at home. You need to come up with a solution yourself. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s father used to practice Taoism, but no tablets of deities were set up at home. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche used to follow his father in practicing Taoism, but after taking refuge under Buddhism he completely stopped using the Taoist rituals. When you have taken refuge, the radiance from your body will be different. If you take refuge and continue to pay homage to those ghosts and spirits, how do you expect them to help you if they cannot be liberated from life and death themselves? It’s very pitiful to be ghosts. They are unable to help you even if you pray to them, as you don’t belong with their kind. But since you have paid homage to ghosts and spirits, the Dharma protectors would leave you as you have broken the refuge precepts. So they cannot help you either. Now you are left in the dilemma with neither to protect you, and you may end up falling into the abyss.

After taking refuge, you should not seek convenience by resorting to non-Buddhist methods. Non-Buddhist methods do not refer to Taoism, Christianity, Catholicism, or Islam. The term “non-Buddhist” is not meant to be derogatory. Non-Buddhist methods refer to those which are unable to help you get liberated from life and death. Many religions teach people to do good, but few teach people how to be liberated from life and death. Though some people claim to be Buddhists, they never teach the believers about liberation from life and death, so they are considered “non-Buddhists” as well – what the Buddha referred to as “non-Buddhists within Buddhism.” During a period of 49 years, Buddha Shakyamuni was teaching the Dharma method of liberation from life and death. If Buddha Shakyamuni had not adhered to this purpose of great merit in his age, with his great blessed reward and grand capacity, how would there still have been the existence of non-Buddhists in India?

Since you have taken refuge, you should not seek help in non-Buddhist methods. Some of you would first send your children to a nearby deity altar to have their spirits recollected which was “shocked away” as soon as you see them crying, before you come to implore Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for help. Others, in the event of a car accident, would consult the next door first before imploring Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for help. Do not assume that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is not aware of such things. Many people have done this before. Still others would even go to some temples to get some prayer flags and spells home. These prayer flags and spells represent the little ghosts bound at your home to serve you as ordered by their ghost king in the temple. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche can see how miserable they really are when this happens. These external ghosts will be involved, when they meet one another, in the fight against the home ghosts – the deceased ancestors of the family that have not been liberated. So those of you who have done such things should recall whether during those periods your families were experiencing some kind of unrest.

The Three Treasures in Buddhism refer to the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. You should be respectful whenever you see a Buddhist sutra or a Buddhist pagoda. The Sangha does not refer to ordained practitioners. If Buddha Shakyamuni had referred Sangha to ordained practitioners, then he would have mentioned Bhiksu and Bhiksuni in the beginning without leaving it to the future generations to come up with some sort of explanation. The Sangha is a practitioner who has achieved great attainment through learning Buddhism and is capable to benefit sentient beings by teaching them Buddha Dharma so that they can be liberated from life and death, without a specific designation whether he is a lay or ordained practitioner. The Sangha group refers to a group of people who learn Buddhism under the same guru, practicing the Dharma method of liberation from life and death.

If after taking refuge you keep indulging your mind and fail to follow the guru’s teachings in learning and practicing Buddhism rather than learning Buddhism diligently, it will be considered as breaking the refuge precept.

The property rights of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center is not under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s name, though at the time when the Center was purchased, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche could well have put it under his name, he did not do so. Neither has Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche used one penny of the Center. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche actually does not wish the Center to have a lot of money. A while back as financial support to the Center a disciple sent it NT$500,000 per month for a few months in a row, and then she said that she had wired it by mistake. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed the Center to return the money to her and told her not to make any more offerings to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and send financial support to the Center.

After taking refuge, you should not eat foods that have been used in worshiping the ghosts and spirits. Do not come and ask Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche what to do with the old worshipping rituals at home. Nor should you ask why you cannot eat the foods that have been used in the worship. What the Buddhist sutras have described must have its justification, so don’t ask why. If you don’t believe that, don’t take refuge in the first place. From childhood to adulthood, you always can find an excuse if you don’t want to eat some foods. You surely will know how to stay away from the foods that have been used for worship, and don’t come to ask Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche how to deal with a situation like that anymore, whether you just took refuge or did so a long time ago. You always seem to know how to find an excuse, how come you suddenly don’t know how to think it through and know what to do with them when such a situation comes up?

About two weeks ago, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was about to teach Dharma in the puja, but a disciple who was a staff of the mandala team pointed out to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche a specific disciple who was not allowed to attend the puja when he was showing the list related to the puja to the guru. He meant – was it possible that there had been a mistake as that disciple was not heard being reprimanded! Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then remarked: This is being doubtful about the guru and showing no respect to the guru. Did this disciple think that the disciple being punished by suspension in attending the puja had practiced Buddhism so well that he would not commit a fault? Is it that the disciple of the mandala group was a Rinpoche himself? All of you think that you are not at fault and it’s always other’s fault. So Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is not teaching Buddhism these few months. Why don’t you all examine yourselves instead of thinking that you have not yet been caught by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche? Having such a reaction, the disciple of the mandala group obviously had no reverence for the guru. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche mentioned before that this disciple was quite elderly, but he was younger than Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, not to mention that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is now 65 years old. A person at this age would qualify as “an old man” in the press, and as such, he should have paid due respect!

From now on, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche will start to persuade some people to quit, rather than expelling them. It is rather dangerous to be a Rinpoche, as he is often threatened on a daily basis.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has not taught Buddhism for a few months now. Why? Because you don’t cultivate yourselves at all, the teaching cannot be carried on. You commit faults even when the guru is not teaching you the Dharma, so there is no more causal condition, even if the guru wants to teach. Some disciples began to murmur among themselves that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is not compassionate as he stopped teaching Buddhism. No matter whether you follow the teachings or not, there will be blessed reward as long as you listen to the Dharma. If you keep listening to it, your blessed reward will keep increasing, but if you would not stop doing evil, the power of your evil acts will also be magnified. A good example of that is the historical figure Hitler – Führer of Germany, whose order would result in the killings of tens of millions of people. Do not think that Hitler was not well cultivated. Only when he had cultivated himself very well in his prior life would it be possible that in this life so many people were willing to follow his orders in killing people. If you are allowed to listen to the Dharma and accumulate your blessed reward without your willingness to change, wouldn’t it increase your power when you are acting evil? In order to stop you from doing evil, not teaching you more Dharma would give you an opportunity to reflect where you have done wrong.

The benefit of taking refuge is that you can become a Buddhist. By being a Buddhist it does not mean that you are a Buddhist disciple. Rather, it refers to that you can become a disciple taught by the Buddha. Taking refuge does not necessary mean you are now Buddha’s disciple. In order to become Buddha’s disciple, you have to carry out every one of the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas. If you cannot do that, you would not have the qualification to claim that you are Buddha’s disciple. Instead, you can only say that you’re Buddha’s believer.

Taking refuge is the basis for observing all the precepts. If you fail to keep the precepts, you wouldn’t be able to enter the meditative state, and without meditation you wouldn’t be able to unlock your wisdom. When you attend the puja, making offerings, give charity and pay homage to the Buddha, you are accumulating blessed reward, which is only the blessed reward of the Human-Heaven Realm. Furthermore, when you cultivate the Guru Yoga, you would attain wisdom. The most important function of accumulating such virtue is that it can be beneficial when you are about to pass away, allowing you to receive help from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas as well as the guru without any hindrance.

When you are able to keep one precept, you would be protected by the deity of precept. When you break it, that deity would leave you immediately. As long as you have one wrong thought, thinking that the guru has misunderstood me, or it is not what I meant, the deity of precept would leave you immediately, faster than the speed of light. “Taking refuge is the basis for observing all precepts” indicates that there is a body of precept which would form a layer of protection surrounding the precept-observing person. Only by following the precepts after taking refuge will lead to origination of merits, otherwise it will only lead to blessed reward of the Human-Heaven Realm. Some religions also encourage people to become vegetarians but they don’t have a guru to transmit the body of precepts. Even though they may be vegetarians, there will be no merits. By becoming a vegetarian, you stop creating evil conditions with sentient beings, and this allows you to learn Buddhism and nurture compassion, which leads to liberation from life and death.

Good and evil are two parallel lines and cannot be offset between each other. You cannot offset your evil with the good that you did. Unless you stop acting evil and then do a great amount of good, and when the power of your good becomes so overwhelming that the power of your evil becomes very insignificant, then, even when the evil retribution comes to you, you would be barely affected. Thus you will be able to turn the karma. For example, if you have done one count of evil act but 1,000 counts of good acts, then the force of the evil karma will not affect you. It is called the elimination of karma. It is mentioned in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, “Every movement of thought of an ordinary person generates karma and vice.”

After taking refuge, any non-human sentient beings will not harm you; your evil karma will be reduced, even eliminated; your resources of virtues and merits will be vastly increased; and you will not fall into the Evil Realms. When you are dying, as long as you remember Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s name and the Dharma name that you were given upon taking refuge, even if you are in front of the hell’s entrance, you will not fall into it. However, you should not assume that it’s OK to do evil now. If so, it would be useless when you are in front of the hell’s entrance even if you have remembered all the names as required. What Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is teaching you here is that if you had acted in accordance with the guru’s teaching after you had taken refuge, but upon death, you were still led to hell because of the evil karma that you have accumulated in past lives, then it will help you if you remember the guru at that time.

Why did the ordained lead-disciple, who had passed away two weeks before, have everything running quite smoothly before dying? That’s because she had followed the guru’s teachings. As a matter of fact, at the puja held on the first day of the New Year, as an ordained lead-disciple, she said that she could not kneel down, so she asked someone else to substitute her to implore the Dharma on behalf of sentient beings. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did not say anything at the time. But later she was able to kneel down when she wasn’t feeling well and went to seek audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche on a Saturday. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche commented: She said that she could not kneel on the first of the New Year when she was instructed to implore the Dharma on behalf of sentient beings, but this time for the sake of her own health she was able to kneel. She kneeled because she could understand her own suffering, and she could not to kneel on the first day of the New Year because she failed to understand how sentient beings had suffered. With that decision of hers went all the Dharma that she had learned so far.

In fact, this disciple’s life should not have been so short. It ended so quickly because she asked another ordained disciple to take her place in imploring the Dharma on the first day of the New Year. During the last days of her illness, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche told her to consider each attack of pain as a repayment to sentient beings, as she had accepted offerings from others without teaching them how to be liberated from life and death. As soon as she heard this she immediately knew to repent. Fortunately she had taken ordination, had had great filial piety for her mother, and she also had taken refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. So she had been able to accumulate blessed rewards and pass away without suffering. Why was she asked to represent sentient beings in imploration for the Dharma? Of course this had to do with another ordained disciple. But there was a reason why the guru asked her to implore for the Dharma on behalf of sentient beings.

After taking refuge, unique sense of auspiciousness will well up in your mind. Before taking refuge, though you can feel auspicious while attending the puja, you would go back to what you were after you have left the puja, which prevents it from continuing to affect you and you cannot remain in the same state of mindstream. But if you are disciple who took refuge, then you would be able to maintain the auspicious continuum of your mind from attending the puja. Even if you have created some evil karma, as long as you have taken refuge, and recall the process of taking refuge while passing away, you then would be able to avoid falling into the Evil Realms. But this does not mean that you can do whatever pleases you after taking refuge and only need to repent when dying. If after taking refuge you continue doing evil and fail to start doing good, you would still be breaking the precept of refuge. The guru would not punish you, but you’d have to live the rest of your life under you own karmic influence.

In addition, after taking refuge, you will be able to keep learning Buddhism all the way until you have realized the supreme bodhi (enlightenment) to benefit sentient beings. There are various benefits with taking refuge, but you will not be able to do a certain number of things.

Whether you have done things well or poorly, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche will not comment. But you need to try your best in completing what the guru has instructed you to do by using your brain, and do not assume that you can rely on Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for everything. Now, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has given the instructions and it’s up to you to make your best effort in fulfilling them. You are no longer children of a kindergarten or primary school, so don’t shift all the problems to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche when you have encountered them. You also have a tendency of relying on Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to solve all the things at home, big or small. If Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche were your family doctor, you’d have to pay a large sum of fees every month. Are you making offerings with such a large amount of money every month?

Those who are learning Buddhism usually feel great with a simple, pure, and fresh attitude as they just take refuge. But after a year or two, they would assume that they have learned it. They are living a good life but they would think that it is a result of their own cultivation, and they would even start to teach Buddhism to others. So after taking refuge, it’s really up to you whether you want to learn Buddhism or not.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche cannot transform your karma but can help you block the karma on a temporary basis. For the last dozen years, you have all been living such a good life under the blessings and protection of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas that you have forgotten about the suffering of sentient beings. So now Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche will not reprimand you anymore. If you are still not willing to mend your ways, the karma that you have had before will start turning until one day you begin suffering, and you know you’d come back to learn Buddhism and repent. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche may still help you so that you can be reborn in the Pure Land. This can be done. There was a disciple with brain tumor, who had been cured with the help of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. However, he listened to what other people were saying and criticized the guru. That was making harsh speech against the guru. So the karmic influence came back to him. Why did he become so ugly with a big tumor on the face? That’s because he had an evil mind, causing him to put up a bad look on the face. Being doubtful about the guru – a mind that dares to doubt the guru is the ugliest. Though he had the big tumor on the face, there was no pain. Even the doctors felt that it was unbelievable – how could it be that such a large tumor on the face did not cause him to be in pain? But he was not in pain indeed. Even if it was not full of cancer cells, anyone would feel uncomfortable with such a big tumor on the face. Why was he not in pain? That’s because he repented later, and was thus helped with the blessings of the guru. But the karmic influence would not disappear – the reason his tumor came back.

Learning Buddhism is not something to be ashamed of, nor is it an odd behavior or something hideous. In fact it is a good thing. But why on earth dare not you tell others that you are learning Buddhism? Recently there is a well-known basketball player who would thank God every time he gets the ball into the basket. What about you? You wouldn’t dare to thank the Buddha in front of others even though Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas have saved your life! Why is it that you have to learn Buddhism secretly? Catholics, Islamists, and Christians would keep telling others about their Lord, but you dare not to, for fear that if you do, you’d invite reprimanding by your husband, your wife and or your mother-in-law.

There was another disciple many years ago whom Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was trying to persuade not to go to the U.S. to no avail. She was thinking that there had been some misunderstanding, that the guru did not understand her, and that her family was more important. Consequently, she came back with cancer. There was another disciple who became ill and came back from Malaysia. She came to seek an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche yesterday and said that she had reported to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche before she was about to leave for that country. What she really meant was that she had reported to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche before leaving Taiwan but how come Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did not give her protection and let things happen to her. How horrible this thought of hers really was!

In fact, the disciple from Malaysia had all things already arranged at that time. She said that her husband was working there and would like to go there and be reunited as a family. Imagine how chould Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche say it was not good at the time? If Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said that, her husband might have accused the guru of trying to prevent their family from getting reunited. Consequently, she lived abroad for three years and now has almost been bleeding to death and came back to seek help with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. She was not supposed to be back but now her husband let her do so due to the illness. You are all like that, just like the “distorted dream-thinking” described in the Heart Sutra. It is a very dangerous job to be a Rinpoche who has to face threats, intimidation and blackmail. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was planning to teach the Dharma today, but when he saw a situation like this, the guru could not carry on with it.

Having doubts about what the guru has to say is like being upset with the guru. Some people dare not be upset with the guru so they turn to the disciples near the guru and become angry at them. Accusing someone of being unable to do something well is something that anyone should not be doing. If you want to leave the Buddhist Center you should do so quietly.

Very often, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is considered to be your guru only when you are in trouble, but not so considered when everything is fine with you. There is a disciple who came to seek an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche a few days ago, saying that her daughter had an infection and there was no improvement after the application of the Bao Yuan Gao Ointment, which was formulated under the instruction of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Many of you may have heard that it has helped resolve various problems for many people. If you have any doubt about it, then just don’t use it.

As soon as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche appears, there would be a lot of Dharma protectors around him. And when you enter the Buddhist Center, the Dharma protecting deities would see you and think that you are with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. So you would benefit from this and be somewhat helped and protected as well. But when you have done wrong, the guru would not allow you to come into the Center. After you have committed many faults, you are not to get the protection in order for you to mend your ways. Only by letting you face the real consequence of your karma would you come to realize where you have faulted and know to correct it. Then, the guru would have the opportunity to help you, giving you the opportunity to come back onto the right path.

You should not misuse the Buddhist terms by saying “I recede from my practice,” which is meant to describe a condition when a practitioner has been practicing on the Buddha’s path and has a receding mind about benefitting sentient beings. You may only use the term of “slack” or “lazy.” You have not been practicing the Dharma that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has transmitted to you. The Dharma practice referred to herein does not mean only chanting the mantra or reciting the Buddhist sutras. Rather, it includes all the Dharma methods that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has taught you. This is to see whether you really focus on matters that relate to liberation of life and death in your life. For example, Buddha Shakyamuni taught us not to make frivolous speech, which means that we should not say anything that is of no help to sentient beings. You continue to break this precept. Everything that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche says is for the benefit of sentient beings. You all have erroneous thoughts, thinking that Dharma transmission can only be carried out by opening the Dharma text and reciting it. That is not true.

His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang once said that all Dharma that can benefit sentient beings is Buddha Dharma. All the Dharma methods taught by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche are to help sentient beings to be liberated from life and death. You should all practice them. Quite often, you have the idea of dichotomy – Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is the guru only when he is on the Dharma throne and what he teaches is the Buddha Dharma, and when he descends from the Dharma throne he is no longer the guru and what he says is not Buddha Dharma. If this is true, then when Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was performing the Phowa for the ordained lead-disciple who had passed away not long before, he was not on the Dharma throne. In addition, you should not be talking about the Buddha Dharma with your friends. The Buddha Dharma is not something for you to chat about.

Then, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche transmitted the Five Precepts: 1)  Refrain from taking life; 2) Refrain from taking what is not given; 3)  Refrain from sexual misconduct; 4) Refrain from false speech, including harsh, false, frivolous, and divisive speech; 5) Refrain from drinking alcohol, including smoking and any drug use. Refraining from frivolous speech means that you should refrain from speaking about anything that has nothing to do with liberation from life and death. However, you violate this precept everyday without even knowing it.

Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performed the refuge rituals for 43 believers and expounded on the significance of the Refuge Certificate. You all have taken refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche of the Drikung Kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Root Guru is the 37th throne holder, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. The Drikung Kagyu Order has a lineage of over 800 years and it has been 830 years since the time of the Drikung Kagyu Lord Jigten Sumgon. On the Refuge Certificate there are the Dharma photos of Lord Jigten Sumgon; the 37th throne holder, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang; and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, respectively. The Refuge Certificate is very important and should never be lost. It is meant to be with you for the rest of your life and if you lose it, you wouldn’t have another. While Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has many Refuge Certificates printed, but if you lose yours, it means that you don’t want to learn Buddhism anymore; unlike people at other Buddhist centers who would give you another if you lose it. Ironically, you don’t usually lose money. Then, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche transmitted the Refuge Prayer printed on the Refuge Certificate and instructed the disciples who took refuge to recite it at least three to seven times on a daily basis.

This was followed by the ritual of hair-cutting for the purpose of taking refuge. Cutting hair represents taking ordination, and it does not necessarily mean that you should have the ordained appearance. Rather, it signifies that you leave the home of reincarnation of the Three Realms, and it also represents that in one of your future lives you may have the causal condition to be ordained. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the attendees in chanting the Vajrasattva Heart Mantra and accepted 43 believers taking refuge. Everyone was filled with the joy of the Dharma and was grateful to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

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Updated on July 14, 2012