His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings

June 14, 2012

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presided over the Grand Memorial Puja Commemorating the 795th Anniversary of Drikung Kagyu Lord Jigten Sumgon of the Drikung Kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism at Taipei International Convention Center, promoting orthodox Dharma and carrying on the Dharma lineage of the Drikung Kagyu Order, as well as praying for blessings for the land of Taiwan and peace in the world.

At 10:00 a.m., His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche entered the venue preceded by the prayer flags, jeweled parasol, musical instruments, incense burner, and eight offering girls, and ascended to the mandala. He was closely followed by three Khenpos and three Lamas of the Drikung Kagyu Order, one Lama of the Gelukpa Order, and 74 ordained practitioners of Exoteric Buddhism. Attending the Puja were more than 3,400 disciples and believers, including VIPs from the United States, France, Japan, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines and participants from Japan, mainland China, and Taiwan. All attendees were standing in solemnity to welcome His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche as the guru walked into the venue. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche first made prostrations to the Dharma photos of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang and His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang, and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, lighted up the lamps as offerings to the Buddhas, and then ascended to the Dharma throne. At this time there were 300 believers representing all sentient beings lighted up 300 lamps in sequence below the mandala. These 300 representatives were selected randomly by lot and no fee was charged.

After the attendees recited a refuge prayer and an aspiration prayer, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche made the speech:

Today the Grand Puja is held in commemoration of Drikung Kagyu Lord Jigten Sumgon of the Drikung Kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism. Many people don’t have a good understanding of Tibetan Buddhism, which means that Buddhism incorporated Tibetan culture and customs after it was introduced into Tibet. On the other hand, the Han Buddhism had incorporated Han Chinese culture and customs after it was introduced into China. In different places where Buddhism was introduced it may adopt a slightly different form, and Tibetan Buddhism has retained its originality more completely.

When learning Buddhism, you should do not run here and there without a fixed Buddhist Center. Find a meritorious guru and follow him in learning Buddhism diligently. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche took refuge under two gurus in this life – one was a guru he had followed in learning Exoteric Buddhism and the other that he took refuge under later was His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang whom he followed to learn Tantra. In the era of Buddha Shakyamuni, there was no such a term called “Buddhism.” Buddha Shakyamuni had been teaching the Dharma for 49 years and 84,000 Dharma methods that he had taught – which were all part of Buddhism – were all about liberation from life and death. His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang once said, “Any method that can help to liberate sentient beings from reincarnation is Buddhism.”

Both Exoteric Buddhism and Tantra had its lineage from Buddha Shakyamuni. Exoteric Buddhism focuses on Buddhist theories while Tantra has the emphasis on methods of Buddhist practice. With knowledge of theories, you must also understand how to do it. Why is it called Exoteric Buddhism? The first character of the word “Exoteric Buddhism” (“Xian” in Chinese character) means something that is obvious to the general public, something that you can understand with your consciousness. That is to say the meanings conveyed in the Buddhist sutras can be understood through the consciousness of people. But Tantra, on the other hand is the supramundane dharma instead of something that your consciousness can understand. The character “Mi” as in “Mifa” (Tantra in English) does not mean mysterious or secret. It has two layers of meaning. One of them is its strong tightness, meaning that the practitioners who are practicing Tantra have very strong and tight mind in bringing benefits to sentient beings – undestroyable and not to be changed because of exterior factors – the reason why Tantra is also called Vajrayana Buddhism. The other layer of meaning refers to the fact that one who desires to learn Tantra is required to have the basis of 10 years of experience practicing Exoteric Buddhism that enabled him to be clear about the Buddhist theories before he can practice Tantra, in addition to the fact that he must also have blessed rewards, merits and causal conditions in order for guru to teach him. In other words, if you don’t have the root capacity for learning Tantra, the guru would not transmit Tantra to you. Tantra must be transmitted on a one-on-one basis and cannot be taught publicly. It’s not because of fear that you’d hear it. Rather, it’s because you don’t have the root capacity for learning Tantra. Even if it is taught to you, you wouldn’t understand it. You needn’t be curious about Tantra, just like primary students who would not understand the contents taught by university professors. Naturally you’d feel that it’s something secret that you’d not be able to understand, not to mention that Vajrayana is at a level for the doctor of the doctors. In Tibet, one must have 10 years of experience learning Exoteric Buddhism, three year of experience in retreats and be approved by the guru before he can learn Tantra. You now are all at the beginning levels of the kindergarten, so you need to build your foundation before proceeding to learn at a higher level.

Everyone thinks that only Tibetan Buddhism has statues of Buddhas that show wrathful appearances. In fact, statues of Buddhas showing wrathful appearances exist with Exoteric Buddhism as well. For example, in Exoteric Buddhism the Black-Faced King of Ghost that you’re all quite familiar with is an emanation of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas would transform themselves into the likes to help liberate sentient beings in the Six Realms. When the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are about to help liberate sentient beings in the Human Realm, they would transform into the human form to provide the help. When the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are about to help liberate sentient beings in the Animal Realm, they would transform into the animal forms to provide the help. When they are about to help sentient beings in the Hell Realm, they would take the form of those in hell. The intention is to allow sentient beings to see the appearance of their own kind so that it would make it easier for them to accept. This is the so-called “Samanarthata” or cooperation with and adaption of oneself to others. Because some sentient beings in the Dharma Realm appear to be quite ferocious, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara need to have a wrathful appearance so that he can teach and help them . Another interpretation for the wrathful appearances is that it is like the way in which you try to teach your child. When he fails to listen to you for the first time, you’d be talking to him in an amiable manner; but if he fails to listen to you after the second and even the third times, you’d be criticizing him by putting on a long face or even an angry look. But even though you are putting on a wrathful look on the outside, your heart on the inside is still extremely compassionate.

Why are we holding the Grand Memorial Puja in honor of Drikung Kagyu Lord Jigten Sumgon today? According to the Tibetan calendar, today is the designated memorial day of Lord Jigten Sumgon, so of course there will be stronger blessings if the memorial puja is held today.  And Lord Jigten Sumgon was the emanation of Bodhisattva Nagarjuna. Holding the Memorial Puja according to the designated date of Lord Jigten Sumgon is the equivalent of following his teachings and there will surely be blessings. There was a reason related to Tantra that Lord Jigten Sumgon designated this particular date and it has to do with Dakinis – it cannot be sooner or later. Because the Tibetan calendar is different from the Gregorian calendar, if today falls on a workday instead of a holiday or weekend, you would have to come and attend it by taking leave from your work. But the Puja would still be held today and this date cannot be changed.

Due to the fact that Lord Jigten Sumgon had designated the memorial date according to the Tibetan calendar, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche inquires from Three Grace Root Guru, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang every year in order to confirm the corresponding date on the Gregorian calendar. Whichever date is determined by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang will be the date. At the same time, the Grand Memorial Puja commemorating Lord Jigten Sumgon cannot be held until His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang has approved it. The approval of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang itself is the blessing. For the fact that more than 3,400 people can attend today’s puja, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche first would like to thank all of your bosses for approving your leaves, which made today’s puja possible. In that sense, all of your bosses have actually made offerings and given charity. Offerings do not need to take the form of money. It is a form of offering that your bosses allowed you to come and attend the Puja. On the other hand, it is a form of charity giving that you came to attend the auspicious Puja by giving up a bit of your own interest. This shows that your heart is free of the bondage by such things as wealth and work.

Attending the puja today are also many employees of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s companies. This means that for one day Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s companies do not do any business. But Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche doesn’t mind. As nothing in the world is more important Buddhism. In 2007, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang instructed Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to conduct a three-month retreat in the Snow Mountain of Lapchi in Nepal. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had nothing else to say other than a simple reply of “Yes!” And off he went to the retreat. Do not think that conducting a retreat is something very simple. During the retreat, you are not allowed to come out of the retreat room which is locked from outside. Nor are you to meet someone else, talk, take a shower, or be connected with the outside world through the telephone. If you die, you do so inside the retreat room. If it were you, you would probably worry about yourself being away for such a long time – what about your husband, your children, or your job? You would have a lot of reasons which would prevent you from letting it all go. But Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did not worry whether his family or his business would have problems, just setting aside money that was enough to pay for three months salaries of his employees. When Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche completed the retreat, nothing happened to the company; nor did it go bankrupt.

Blessed rewards are required when one is about to learn Buddhism. The so-called blessed rewards do not refer to the ordinary worldly blessed rewards. If you can learn Buddhism in this life, it is a result of your cultivation in your previous lives. Your acts in this life are laying down preparation for your future lives. According to the Amitabha Sutra, “Blessed rewards, merits and causal conditions are indispensible.” To attend the grand puja is a way of how to accumulate blessed rewards, merits and causal conditions. The so-called grand puja is not one that has a few dozen or a few hundred people attending it. It must be one with more than 1,000 attendees. Today we have over 3,000 people attending the Puja. More auspiciously, it has the all-inclusive participation of the fourfold assembly from both Exoteric and Esoteric Buddhism, including males and female ordained practitioners of Exoteric Buddhism as well as Khenpos and Lamas of the Drikung Kagyu Order. That’s what referred to as the Sangha in the Buddhist sutras: the fourfold assembly of bhikkhus, bhikkhunis, upasakas and upasikas. That is to say that attending this Grand Puja would be more beneficial than 10 years of your self-cultivation at home.

Tibet is where Tantra has been preserved most completely. But it is not necessarily that one could learn Tantra in Tibet. There are a lot of Tibetans who are not practitioners. Don’t think that any Tibetan would understand Buddhism, or that a Tibetan Rinpoche would be able to perform Tantra. You might be wondering why within the same Buddhism there are so many orders in Tantrism. From a historical perspective, the former region referred to as Kham region was a vast territory where transportation was very difficult. Even today transportation is still not very convenient. Because of this, information is hard to pass through. Buddhism was passed down in each locality according to the teachings of a transmitting guru and naturally that developed into a Dharma lineage on its own. Thus some regional monasteries occurred as a result of incorporation with local customs, and different regions would have different religious orders. But all of them are the orthodox Dharma passed down from Buddha Shakyamuni. Which guru you would follow to learn Buddhism depends on the causal conditions that you have accumulated throughout the past lives with that guru.

Tibetan Buddhism has four main orders: Kagyu (White Sect), Nyingma (Red Sect), Sakya (Red-White-Black Sect) and Gelug (Yellow Sect). Each order has a slightly different practice and process of Dharma method. The Dharma method of cultivation for the Nyingma Order is the Great Perfection, for the Kagyu Order it is Mahamudra, which is somehow similar to Zen School’s method of pointing directly at the human heart. Though the Dharma method may be practiced in different ways, the objective is the same – to be liberated from life and death and to attain Buddhahood to bring benefit to sentient beings. Today you are all attending a puja of the Drikung Kagyu Order. Drikung is the name of a place and Kagyu means oral transmission, i.e., the so-called golden lineage that has a history of over 800 years. When Buddha Shakyamuni was teaching the Dharma, none of his disciple had recorded it down in writing. At that time there was no audio recorder or DVD and everything was passed down by oral transmission.

Some people misunderstand the double practice referred to in Tantra. Double practice is not about sexual desires as thought by the general populace. If one can attain Buddhahood by having sexual acts, then there are many who are cultivating every day. But why none of them has attained Buddhahood? If this is the way to Buddhahood, then why would there still be the need to learn and practice Buddhism? So that is a misunderstanding of Tantra. As a matter of fact, from the perspective of Exoteric Buddhism, double practice signifies the cultivation of both compassion and wisdom; from the perspective of Tantra, there is something even more profound than that – it is another realm that not everyone can accomplish.

Many people say that Buddha Shakyamuni did not teach Tantra. But in fact Tantra appears within the Buddhist sutras. It’s only that those who have not learned Tantra would not be able to recognize that. For example, you may all have seen that a gesture of inquiry with Exoteric Buddhism is pointing at the center between the eyebrows. Since it is “inquiry,” it is the mouth that should be pointed to. Why then is it pointing to the center between the eyebrows on the forehead? Furthermore, why was it that the meditation mudra that Buddha Shakyamuni had posed, which was about meditation – the meditation of the mind, was a posture with hands placed at the “dantian” below the navel rather than on the heart in the center of the chest? Also, why is it that in Buddha Shakyamuni’s auspicious lying posture his right hand was used to support the head rather than his left hand? Why must the lying posture be like that? In fact, all this has to do with Tantra. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did not know until after learning the Phowa why the auspicious lying posture needs to be posed that way, and why it needs to be on the right side instead of the left side. Nobody has explained these things clearly. Only after learning Tantra did Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche come to realize that it had to do with Tantra. But we don’t have time for the explanation today. Anything that the Buddha did was all about helping liberate sentient beings from the suffering sea of reincarnation – the Buddha would not do anything that is not meaningful.

“Rinpoche” means treasure – the treasure of the world – that can help liberate sentient beings from suffering. Do not think that being a Rinpoche is something splendid. Rather, it is quite an arduous job – also one of the most dangerous in the world. The general populace would think that learning Buddhism is just like what happens in other religions – teaching people to do good. But doing good is the fundamental condition of being human.  According to the “Amitabha Sutra,” if people want to be reborn in the Pure Land, they must be virtuous men and women with blessed rewards, merits and causal conditions. Here, “virtuous” does not mean to do good, as that is the fundamental condition of being human. The “virtuous” here refers to the Ten Meritorious Acts. The Dharma method that is practiced exclusively within Buddhism is intended for you to nurture compassion. The first of the two characters that form “compassion” – “ci” signifies that you need to give your best things to sentient beings in exchange for their suffering. And the second character “bei” requires that you are capable to help liberate sentient beings from the Three Evil Realms and the suffering sea of reincarnation. The mind of “ci” and the mind of “bei” irrigate like water so that the “seed” of bodhicitta can grow into a big “bodhi tree,” yielding the fruition of Buddhahood. In addition, the practitioner must have control over his own life and death before being capable to help liberate sentient beings from life and death.

The fact that you came to attend the Puja today serves as the beginning of the very good affinity with Drikung Kagyu Lord Jigten Sumgon. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said with humor: You’ve all been taken in. You have come and will not be able to get away in the future. Maybe it’s not in this life, but in one of your future lives you certainly will be learning Buddhism. In this life of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, he has been saved twice by Lord Jigten Sumgon. One of them was a serious car accident and the other had to do with his Buddhist practice. So it’s important to create favorable conditions with a great practitioner. The Buddhist sutras have mentioned the phrase – “hook you up with your wants,” meaning that your desires will be satisfied in order for you to accept Buddhism, and proceed with learning Buddhism, and in turn mend all acts that will cause you to fall into reincarnation so that you can be liberated from life and death.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is a lay practitioner like everybody else – he has his own business, mother, and children. When learning Exoteric Buddhism, he spent at least four hours per day reading the Buddhist sutras, chanting mantra and making prostrations to the Buddha and one hour on meditation. Nobody here except ordained practitioners has recited the Buddhist sutras more than Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did. But even with that, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche still felt that he could not enter the state of meditation. And when the situation arises, he still could not enter the state as described in the Buddhist sutras; nor could he control his own future. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche started to doubt why he was not able to do that. But he did not doubt about the Buddhist sutras, as they could not be wrong. Not until he learned Tantra did he realize that he couldn’t do that because he was just learning the theories, but not having the methods. He did not come to know that what he did before was just creating favorable conditions rather than practicing Buddhism until he was 36 years old when he had the causal conditions to meet His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. The reason that he could not do it was that he had not learned Tantra and thus was not able to have the perfection and integration of Buddhist theories and activities.

At this point, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche told the ordained practitioners at the Puja who was turning the pages of the Dharma text on their own: Don’t think that you have the Dharma text in hand and you can attain accomplishment by reciting it on your own. Everybody can read the Dharma text, but Tantra is not written in it. You won’t be able to accomplish anything until the guru has passed it to you through oral transmission. So stop turning the pages on your own, as you won’t be able to understand it even if you have read it, and you’d be doing that in vain. Try to think in retrospect when it was the first day you went to your class in your primary school. You’d do whatever the teacher instructed you to. If he told you to turn to page 1, you would not be turning it to page 2. If he told you to switch the seats with someone else, you’d do that without any problem. Now you’ve all grown up and think that you can do it on your own, and that you don’t have to follow instructions. His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang once was transmitting to the Dharma to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche the part of the Dharma that was not written in the Dharma text. Though many Rinpoches had the Dharma texts, yet it did not contain the part of oral transmission. So when you have the Dharma text and are turning the pages, you wouldn’t be able to attain anything no matter how hard you read it, as the guru has not passed the Dharma to you through oral transmission. So don’t turn the pages in vain. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is good at reprimanding you, right? There is nothing he can do about it, because the cultivation that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche conducted in the past lives had something to do with this.

The cultivation in past lives is very important, as it was for accumulating causal conditions for learning Buddhism. But how you had done in past lives would only be the accumulation of the records of your Buddhist practice in past lives. The most important is cultivation in this life. In addition to having good root, you must have the guidance of a guru in order to learn Buddhism. Some people do not want to subject themselves to the supervision of a guru, thinking that they would be able to practice Buddhism however they want, and that it would be sufficient to listen to Dharma teachings by watching television. They think that they can achieve in this way. So if nothing happens, you don’t see them at all. But if something happens to them, they would come to implore the guru for help.

Today this venue was selected to hold the Puja. But as a matter of fact, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche does not like this place very much. Why? You never would have thought of it. The seats here are too comfortable. When you sit comfortably in the chair with your back leaning against the backrest of the chair, at the beginning, you’d be looking around in a bit nervousness, comparing to see whether the right screen or the left one is clearer to you. You’d look again and find that the one in the middle is clearest. Then your head would start to be lowered and you would doze off. According to the Buddhist sutras, if you fall asleep during the Puja, you’d become a pet in your next life, because if you don’t have faith in Buddhism, you would have the “ignorance” – one of the five poisons. You see many animals spend more than 10 hours every day sleeping. Since you have attended the Puja and have accumulated blessed rewards, but do not listen to the Dharma teaching, so after falling into the Animal Realm you’d become a pet – the type that is held in someone arms and treated as a son or daughter. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche deeply believes cause and effect, and strictly adheres to the precepts. He would not dare tell you something that is not true. So you should really believe this.

You wouldn’t be having this kind of condition if you attend a puja in Tibet. Only Rinpoches and Khenpos would have seats on which they can sit at a table. Ordinary Tibetan attendees would just have to sit on the floor. To them a mat on the floor is a luxury. So while you sit in this type of comfortable chair, you should not lean your back against the backrest – it’s the same as sitting upright for meditation, as this is the posture which allows smooth energy flow. Though there is a backrest with the Dharma throne on which Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche sits, the guru always keeps in an upright position and never leans against it. Only when you keep yourself in an upright position would it be possible for you to have smooth energy flow and uplifted spirit. Without smooth energy flow, as time goes by, your brain would not have enough oxygen supply and naturally you would want to doze off. Since you came to attend the Puja by taking leave of absence, you should muster your spirit so that you’d benefit from attending the Puja. If you feel sleepy, sit up straight. At this point, the video camera of the venue captured the image of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche from the side, showing that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had always kept an upright posture and the backrest was more than a foot away from his back.

In Tibetan Buddhism, before one performs the Dharma, he must first make Seven Branch Offering on behalf of sentient beings to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, yidam and Dharma protectors so that sentient beings can receive blessed rewards and the help from Buddhism. The Dharma that is performed is divided into preliminary practice, main practice, and dedication. Preliminary practice which is your motivation in attending the Puja, is the most important part. If you don’t do the preliminary practice correctly, the following main practice and dedication would not have any effect at all. No matter what intention you originally had in coming here, today’s Puja is to allow you to have the causal conditions in the future to learn Buddhism and be liberated from life and death, so that you’d have the opportunity to set yourself free from reincarnation. The ritual that we are about to recite next is praise to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, praising their great merits. So you should sit upright with reverence.

The ritual that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche just finished performing normally would be recited by lamas and would require one entire day. But nowadays nobody has so much time as we’re in a very commercial society. So in order to save time for you, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had to work hard and recite it himself. That way it was much faster, but being faster does not mean omission of certain parts of the ritual. It was faster because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was reciting it in a state of meditation without any distraction.

Then Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche conducted the ritual of meditation empowerment, and said before starting: You are the type of people who are used to having an indulgent heart and would often say that you are bored because your mind has a lot of distractions. You see young kids would fidget a lot because they still cannot control their mind. But why would you have so many distractions while sitting in meditation?  That’s because you still have a lot of attachments and cannot let go of many things. You’d like to have this and wouldn’t want to give that up. You want everything. When you are sitting for meditation, you’d still be thinking about attaining enlightenment, unlocking your wisdom, seeing something, and having the capacity to benefit sentient beings. All this should not be involved in your meditation practice. Meditation (Zen) means simplicity but your mind is too complex to enter the state of meditation. There is a lot going on in your mind, and with so many mind-movements you wouldn’t have good health. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has always been in a state of meditation. Though he is 65 years old, he enjoys better health than all of you. A person who is truly practicing Buddhism should be simple-minded, practicing in order to be liberated from life and death. If you realize the true meaning of what the Buddha has taught, you wouldn’t want to own anything or be afraid of losing anything. And when the situation arises, you would have nothing to fear. Only when you no longer have any fear, you may attain the state of meditation.

You would not be able to enter the state of meditation without receiving the meditation empowerment. Empowerment is a form of authorization, signifying that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas agree that you may learn and practice the Dharma. When Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was learning Exoteric Buddhism, he’d spend at least one hour sitting for meditation every day. He had tried the methods of investigating a topic, counting the breaths, and emptying the mind but still could not enter a true state of meditation while sitting for it. Only after learning Tantra did he realize why he could not do it after sitting for meditation. The reason was that he did not receive the meditation empowerment. It is mentioned in the Dharma text that a practitioner can reach the state of Simplicity Yoga through practicing samadhi after receiving the meditation empowerment. In the meantime, meditation empowerment would allow you to concentrate from this moment on.

If you can pray and get blessings without practicing Buddhism, then wouldn’t it mean that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche can just implore His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang all day long for blessings and do nothing at all? You would not have peace and protection just by praying and you can only get them through practicing Buddhism yourself. If you practice supramundane Dharma well, you’d naturally be able to practice mundane Dharma well too, because the Dharma method that allows you to be accomplished in supramundane path and liberated from life and death would enable you to clear all obstacles in mundane path as well.

People often use the word “regression.” But you don’t have the qualifications to be described with this word. “Regression” refers to a state in which a Bodhisattva or an accomplished practitioner on the Bodhisattva path is diminishing his determination in liberating sentient beings and wants to focus on his own cultivation because there are too many sentient beings to liberate or he is tired of liberating them because it is too difficult. This is called regression of bodhi-practice or bodhi-mind (bodhicitta). This word does not apply to you as you have not attained the fruition of a Bodhisattva yet. The proper word to use would be “slack,” which means “lazy” if we use a popular word. You have time to watch television, gossip, but no time to concentrate and learn Buddhism, with excuses such as you want to wait until your children have grown up, or you have retired, etc.

Then, Khenpo Namdol led the ordained practitioners and five representatives of believers who were selected by lot at the time of entrance in stepping onto the mandala and offering mandalas on behalf of all sentient beings as the treasures of the universe to the guru and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Wearing Gampopa’s Dharma hat that was bestowed upon him by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche accepted the offerings on behalf of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and said, “Just now we had the mandala offering ritual, which is a ritual to implore for the Dharma to be taught in Tibetan Buddhism. You see the Dharma hat that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is wearing on his head was bestowed by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. Different Orders have different designs of their Dharma hats. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Dharma hat is different from that worn by the Lamas; and a lay Rinpoche’s Dharma hat is also different from that of an ordained Rinpoche. A Dharma hat is not something that you can buy or make yourself and wear if you want do. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Dharma hats were all bestowed by Three Grace Root Guru His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. A Dharma hat should only be worn for special occasions, such as when performing some special rituals during the puja. You cannot run around with the Dharma hat. With the Dharma hat on, it means that the guru is representing the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is a lay practitioner, and would not walk around with the Dharma robe on.

You came to attend the Puja today and would find that there are no charity sales or any commercial activities during the Puja. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is a businessman himself but still he does not allow any commercial activities in the venue of the Puja. No fee is charged for your attendance of the Puja or lighting the lamps. If Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche wants to make money, it’s quite easy to do so by copying some people who charge a fee to the attendees for their speeches. Today’s Puja is sponsored solely by the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center and no outside funding has been accepted. Buddhism is not about exchange of interests. The Puja is held if there is funding; and it should not if there is no money. Do not force it by having to make the money through commercial activities.

The Prayer of the “Biographies of Ten Directions and Three Times” was modified by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang based on the Dharma words of the Venerable Atisha, and thus has very auspicious blessings. From the Prayer that we have just recited, you can see that what is being prayed for is liberation from life and death, instead of your career, health, wish for your mistress or karmic creditors to leave. Nothing of this sort has been written in the Dharma text. The aspiration of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is to help liberate sentient beings from the suffering sea of reincarnation. If that’s what you are praying for, you’d have blessings from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas as well as the gurus of all the generations. But if you are only seeking for worldly blessed rewards, you only need to keep donating a certain fixed amount of money for charity every month for three to five years. Naturally you’d be able to see some changes. But the blessed rewards as related to Buddhism that we wish to have are not this type. Rather, we aspire to be liberated from life and death.

Then, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche started to perform the Guru Yoga, and led the attendees in chanting the heart mantra of Lord Jigten Sumgon. Only the heart mantra that has been transmitted from the guru will have the effect of blessings, and the power will be realized by chanting it in the state of meditation. It’s not like some mantra-chanting programs that you watch on TV, if you chant it by following the TV programs you’d be able to bargain for this or that with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. If that is the case then you wouldn’t have to learn Buddhism diligently. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued: A mantra is the sound expression of the merits and aspiration of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas or the guru. To chant the heart mantra of the yidam is to attune to the aspiration of the yidam. For example, the heart mantra of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is the Great Six-Syllable Mantra. When you chant “Amitabha,” you are in fact chanting Amitabha’s heart mantra, since the name of Amitabha should be “the Buddha of Immeasurable Light and Life.” The heart mantra of Amitabha was a transliteration of “Amitabha” into Chinese, to which was added “Namo” at the beginning to form “Namo Amitabha.” Sentient beings in the Human Realm perceive the Dharma through their ears. Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara attained fruition by perfecting his penetration through the ear roots, using his ears, ear roots, ear scope, and ear capacity in cultivation. Scientists found that the formation of the universe started with the sound. By chanting and listening to mantras, we can clear our hindrances, which is not the same as make the hindrances disappear. Rather, it will keep them from becoming obstacles as we learn Buddhism.

Then there was the Tsok offering ritual. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said: Now we’ll conduct the Tsok offering ritual. Everybody will get a packet of offerings from the staff members, and take out one piece to eat. Offered items do not just sit there. They need to be blessed by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche before being offered to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. You are asked to eat it so that you can enjoy it along with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and this will help you plant the favorable causal conditions which would allow you to enjoy food with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in one of your future lives. Don’t eat up all the offered items, as you can share it with other people later. It’s fine to just eat a little bit, as you’d tend to doze off if you eat too much. Then, the staff members will take back one item from your packet of offerings. This will be left outside for those sentient beings in the void who did not have the causal condition to attend the Puja today.

Then came the tea-offering ritual. In Tibet, due to the cold weather, yak-butter tea is offered halfway through the Dharma performance to the guru for fear that the guru may not have enough physical strength. Drinking yak-butter tea can replenish his physical strength. Next was the rice-offering ritual. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued light-heartedly: In order to keep fit, I only take a little bit. In the puja held in Tibet, all attendees would be provided with yak-butter tea and rice. But there was no way to prepare for each and everyone today. So it is only provided for the ordained practitioners.

According to the Buddhist sutras, Amitabha has forty-eight vows. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche heard someone say that he would add two more to make it fifty in total. The forty-eight vows made by Amitabha were expressed by Amitabha after he had attained the Dharmakaya of a Bodhisattva and was sure that he could fulfill these vows. These had been thought out after profound contemplation and cultivation through many lives, and they included all the vows of benefiting sentient beings. How could an ordinary person add more vows to them? A vow is not something you wish or desire for. Rather, it is something that you are truly able to fulfill.

Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed the leading disciple to lead the attendees in reciting the Praises of the Seven Taras, and said: It was written to praise the merits of the seven Taras by Lord Jigten Sumgon when he attained Buddhahood, as he saw them in the cave where he was conducting the retreat. If you have recited it along just now, then you’d receive great blessings. Those who have not recited would be quite sorry now. Some people might think, “I came to attend the Puja instead of a Karaoke Party. Why would I need to follow the leader and recite it?” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued: All things that you do during the Puja would help you accumulate your blessed rewards and causal conditions. You won’t be able to start mending all your acts that cause you to reincarnate until you have virtues, merits and causal conditions. It’s not something that you can do just because you want to.

Then the eight offering girls stepped onto the mandala and sang the song of praise as offerings. After that, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche commented: The song of praise sung by the eight offering girls in traditional Tibetan dresses just now is not a love song that people normally listen to in the world, expressing things like “I love you, you love me, I believe…, I am willing…,” etc. This song is all about praising and making offerings to the guru, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The tune was not composed by a human being using the “Do Re Mi Fa So La Si.” Instead, it was written down after the Dakinis had passed it to a guru. If you are familiar with the Dunhuang statues of the Buddhas, you should know the Flying Apsaras, who, as a matter of fact, are Dakinis as referred to in Tantra. All those who practice Tantra need the Kakinis’ help so that they could reduce the obstacles for their cultivation. So when they were singing the song of praise as offerings just now, not only was Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche listening, but the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas were also listening. If someone was listening to it in a state of meditation, then he would receive a lot of blessings. Tibetans usually would write songs that praise the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, just like the Flying Apsaras depicted in the Dunhuang Frescoes who play musical instruments as offerings to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

Ordinary people in society would say that only the number “10” represents perfection. But why did we have eight offering girls singing the song of praise as offerings instead of ten? Doesn’t the number “10” represent perfection? Were they missing two more people in the group? Those who have read the Amitabha Sutra would know that the “Water of Eight Merits” is mentioned in the Sutra. But why is it “eight” instead of the number of perfection “ten?” As a matter of fact, the number “eight” is very important in Tantra. Take something else for example: As soon as Buddha Shakyamuni was born, he walked seven steps. Why did he walk seven steps instead of eight or nine steps? Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did not know about this when he was learning Exoteric Buddhism until he started learning Tantra. Every word said and every move made by Buddha Shakyamuni had special meanings which were to bring benefits to sentient beings. It takes more time to go into details but we don’t have enough time today. There will be opportunities in the future that more detailed information can be given.

There is a lot of suffering for those that are in reincarnation in the Six Realms. When Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was conducting the retreat in the Snow Mountain of Lapchi in 2007, he cried for over an hour as he saw the sentient beings suffering from reincarnation in the Six Realms. Upon coming out of the retreat, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche reported this to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, who in turn told him that he had realized the nature of emptiness and was able to enter the Dharma Realm and see the true phenomenon therein. His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang continued to say that the mahasiddha of the Drikung Kagyu Order Venerable Milarepa once said: He couldn’t help but feeling sad as soon as he came to think of the sentient beings suffering from reincarnation in the Six Realms.

Then came the ritual of lamp-offering. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said before the ritual: Next we’ll conduct the ritual to light the lamps and offer them to the Buddhas. This is different from the lamps that the ordinary people are lighting in the Buddhist temples. Many people like to light lamps, thinking that their fortune would be turned around and the year would turn out to be smooth for them if they spend NT$1,200 on this ritual. How can there be such an easy thing? If you can change your fortune simply by spending NT$1,200 on lighting the lamps, then Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would be the first one to raise his hand and say, “Let’s stop practicing Buddhism.” By lighting the lamps, you cannot change your fortune or make your business successful. It represents elimination of the darkness of ignorance. “Ignorance” is not losing temper. Instead, it means that you don’t believe in Buddhism or cause and effect. Sentient beings all have the Buddha-nature, i.e., the pure nature, just like the Buddha himself. We let our craving, resentment, and ignorance block our original pure Buddha Light because of the one thought of ignorance. The Buddha Light is like the sun light, and craving, resentment, and ignorance are like the dark clouds blocking the sun light. Though it is temporarily blocked, it still exists. As soon as the dark clouds are dispersed, the sun will reappear. The significance of lighting the lamps is that if we don’t have the Dharma, we’d be in the darkness, but if we have one lamp, as small as it may be, it will light up the entire dark room.

One section of the prayer in the Dharma text mentions that the lamp oil is as boundless as the ocean, and the wick is like Mount Sumeru; then one lamp turns into countless lamps, lighting up all sentient beings, as countless as they may be, from the Heaven Realm to the Three Evil Realms, as well as all darkness in the void, removing all the darkness of ignorance for sentient beings. Thus it can benefit more sentient beings, and make the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in ten directions clearly visible. The last sentence of the prayer is in fact Tantric. If a sentient being has heavy karma, he would not be able to see the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas even if they present themselves in front of him. Or because the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas shed light that is very bright, a sentient being with heavy karma would be fearful and hide in a dark place, causing him to fall into reincarnation.

Lamp-offering has other significance; in fact it has to do with the time when one is passing away. Though we’re all alive now, we are in the intermediate state. When you die, you’d be in the intermediate state of death. Today I’m going to tell you one thing: During seven stages, each having seven days, i.e., a total of 49 days after one dies, many Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, yidams, and Dharma protectors would try to lead you to the Pure Land if you can recognize any of them and follow him. Even Drikung Kagyu Lord Jigten Sumgon had his own Pure Land; if sentient beings who have affinity with him arouse their aspirations, they can also go there when they pass away. But many people are unable to see or recognize any of the Buddhas or Bodhisattvas due to heavy influences of karma and hindrance or lack of blessed rewards. The light that comes along when the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas present themselves is very strong. If one is hiding from it because he fears it, then he would fall into one of the Three Evil Realms, or at least in reincarnation in the Six Realms. Today’s lamp-lighting ritual is for the purpose that you would not be afraid of the Buddha Light when you are in the intermediate existence body, allowing yourselves to have the blessed rewards to see the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas without being beclouded. If you don’t have blessed rewards, even if the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are presenting themselves right in front of you, you still would turn and walk away. Sentient beings in the Age of Degenerate Dharma have heavy karma and their minds are scattered out of fear. Lighting the lamps can eliminate the darkness of ignorance and allow you to perceive the all-illuminating Buddha Light and follow the directions of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas during the 49 days after you pass away. This is also why they are mentioned as the “Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the ten directions” in the Dharma text.

On the second night after Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche took refuge under Exoteric Buddhism, he had a dream in which he came in front of a Buddhist temple. There was a statue of Buddha inside, which was shedding very strong light. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche dared not enter, and even took a step backward. At this point, his master of Exoteric Buddhism told him: Don’t be afraid, enter! So Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche came in. After he entered, he saw Buddha Shakyamuni, and made prostrations and offering to Buddha Shakyamuni. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s story explains that people would be afraid of the light of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas if they have not been properly trained. When you are lighting the lamps today, you don’t need to think of getting blessed rewards through lighting the lamps. Rather, you should understand the true meaning of lamp-lighting. This way, the lamp-offering ritual that we perform today would be beneficial to you as you learn Buddhism. The so-called “Every day is a good day” does not mean that you live well every day. Instead, it refers to the fact that those who can restore their pure nature through learning Buddhism can reveal the light of wisdom. If they can have more purity and less craving, they would not have affliction when they are faced with anything, as they would be looking at cause and effect. Furthermore, they would know that they should stop doing evil anymore in order to be liberated from life and death. Naturally, a lot of bad things would also be reduced.

Then, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended from the Dharma throne and led all Khenpos, ordained practitioners on the mandala in reciting prayers in front of the eight-offering mandala and lighting lamps as offerings to the Buddhas. Upon perfect completion of the lamp-offering ritual, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended to the Dharma throne again and led all attendees in reciting the Prayer of the Auspicious Dharma Realm. Thereafter, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the attendees in reciting the Dedication Prayer of Mani Fast Realization and Great Joy. Then the guru instructed the leading disciple to lead the attendees in reciting the prayers and dedication prayers.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to say: You would find in the dedication prayer that you just recited that it was not specifically dedicated to your family. Some people may misunderstand that their family cannot receive the merits if it is dedicated to all sentient beings. But you need to know that you and your family are members of sentient beings. Wouldn’t they also share the dedicated merits if we dedicate it to all sentient beings in the Dharma Realm? If you only dedicate it to your family, then your family would only receive the benefits that are brought by the merits dedicated to your family. But if you dedicate the merits to all sentient beings, you’d be able to share the merits dedicated by all the people. So come to think about it, even if you have a large family of 400 members, can it be compared to so many people that we have here today?

In the following ritual, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the attendees in performing another Dharma method of Avalokiteshvara, and then led them in chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, followed by the recitation of the Prayer of Promotion of the Dharma Teachings.

Upon perfect completion of all the rituals, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche concluded: Today’s Puja has been a perfect success! All attendees thanked His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in unison for tirelessly performing the Dharma.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then continued: I praise you for taking a leave of absence in order to attend today’s Puja! I also would like to thank your bosses for allowing you to attend today’s Puja.  Now that you took the leave of absence to attend it, you should treasure this causal condition. Don’t stop here as soon as the Puja is over. Instead, carry on this good causal condition. It actually is not that difficult to learn Buddhism. The most important thing is your resolution. Don’t say that you’d start learning Buddhism until after you have accomplished something. Life is impermanent, and you don’t necessarily live till the time of your heart’s desire. Many people die very young. Don’t say that you don’t have time. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has more than 1,000 disciples and a few companies with over 100 employees. Who among you here today is busier than Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche? Regardless, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has never stopped conducting Buddhist activities that bring benefits to sentient beings.

Don’t think that after practicing Buddhism you would become different from others or weird. When you learn Buddhism, you should focus on the internal transformation rather than changes in appearance. When Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche does not have the Dharma robe on, people would not recognize him as a Rinpoche, as he has a similar appearance and lives a similar life just like everyone else. Only the inside is different. Many people are used to holding tightly onto things that they own, only to find that they can hold onto nothing in the end. That’s why the Buddha taught us to keep making offerings and giving to charity so that we can cultivate the mind of renunciation. Don’t worry that you wouldn’t be able to do as much business because you are practicing Buddhism. According to the Buddhist sutras, a person who has the aspiration to learn Buddhism would never end up in a situation where there is no food or clothing. You wouldn’t get wealthy by practicing Buddhism. But whether or not you can become wealthy in this life depends on your past lives. If you had given to charity and made offerings, you’d naturally be rich in this life. What you have done in this life is for the benefit of your next life.

Believers of other religions would express their faith loudly: Lord will take care of me. Why wouldn’t we as Buddhists dare saying it loud that the Bodhisattva will take care of me? Is it that you feel ashamed of yourself being a Buddhist? Buddhism has been in existence in the world for more than 3,000 years. There must be a reason for it. The Bodhisattvas will take care of people who are learning Buddhism even if they don’t have family or children. With a broad mind, all people are our family.

Today, you’ve been working hard, with nothing in your stomachs until the perfect conclusion of the Puja at 1:30 p.m. The Dharma that we have performed today would be beneficial to your supramundane path and mundane path. The fact that you are in this precious land of Taiwan means that you all have great blessed rewards which allow you to be born in a land of religious democracy. You should treasure the opportunity to learn Buddhism. Some people may think: I came to attend the Puja for peace and protection and have not thought about learning Buddhism. Others may think: Why are there so many rules with regard to learning Buddhism? You can’t do this and you can’t do that. In fact, it’s not because you are learning Buddhism that you can’t do many things. There are many things that you shouldn’t be doing at all regardless whether you are learning Buddhism or not. As your guru, I have to monitor whether you have done something that you shouldn’t have. But it’s not an effort to control your personal life. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has so many disciples and has never poked his nose into their personal life – what you would do at what time. His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang would never poke his nose into Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s personal life either. The precepts taught by Buddha Shakyamuni are not used to control or punish you. Rather, they were created to protect you and your body from being harmed. There is a lot of evil collective karma in the Age of Degenerate Dharma, and it can easily involve you. In these few days there have just been some heavy rain over Taiwan, but disasters have been reported everywhere from the north to the south. As a matter of fact, these natural disasters serve as a warning for people. And today’s Puja should be helpful to all sentient beings.

Though this has been repeated time and again, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche still wants to exhort you to become vegetarians. Don’t think that it would be inconvenient because you need to do business. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has business of his own and even goes abroad often in a suit, so others may not recognize him as a Rinpoche. But being a vegetarian has never proved to be inconvenient. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche often shares a table with others, and there has never been any problem with each one eating his own meal. You should become a vegetarian for the sake of the earth as well as your own health.

Perhaps you would think that there seems to be a lot of restrictions in practicing Buddhism. From Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s own experience, there is no such a feeling. On the contrary, it gives you total freedom. This “freedom” does not mean that you can do whatever you want without restrictions. Rather, it means that you are very clear what you should or shouldn’t do in order to avoid falling into the suffering of reincarnation.

Upon perfect conclusion of the Puja, all attendees gave a long-lasting applause to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche as the guru was descending from the Dharma throne, expressing their gratitude to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for so arduously performing and teaching the Dharma to benefit boundless sentient beings. Attendees of the fourfold assembly were all filled with Dharma joy!

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Updated on September 13, 2012