His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – March 3, 2013

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche personally presided over the Vajrasattva Empowerment Puja at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Taipei. Before the puja began, a disciple participating in the Indian puja group spoke to the attendees of her past transgressions as well as the precious teachings Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had bestowed upon her.

During breakfast on the first day of the puja, the disciples received a severe but valuable admonishment from Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Thirty-two of the Dharma brothers would not be able to accompany the guru to seek an audience with His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. That day His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ate breakfast together with the disciples. It was twenty minutes before it was time to board the bus, and they were all just about finished with their meals. The guru still had not left yet when a disciple ran over to her, saying that she had to go back to her room to get her things in preparation to board the bus, but that she was holding a bag of things Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had entrusted to her for safekeeping, so she wanted to leave it with the female disciple to look after it. So she enthusiastically helped the other disciple by holding the bag of things for her. Right when the disciple who had handed over the bag of things was bowing reverently with palms together, about to make her way out of the dining hall, she heard Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche call for the disciple to stop in a thundering, reprimanding tone. She had completely neglected the fact that the guru was still seated. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had not left yet; her wanting to leave whenever she pleased was completely disrespectful. Was this the time to hand over the entrusted bag? Was she really in such a hurry? Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche berated this disciple to whom he had entrusted the bag of items. She had felt very close to the other disciple, and so had felt very comfortable asking her to look after the bag for her. However, she had not given a thought to the fact that these were Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s things; whomever the guru had entrusted them to should take full responsibility for them. How could she then go and hand it over to someone else? Next, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche admonished the disciple who had agreed to hold the bag for her, saying that she had taken refuge for many years yet still had not learned to mind her own business. Had the guru asked her to help look after his things? If not, then how dare she take them?! If she committed the same mistake again, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, he would send her away. The guru went on to say that since the two disciples had taken refuge for longer than anyone else, committing such an offense was all the more serious. It was as if they had not cultivated themselves at all!

After that, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche changed the subject, pointing out that even though they were to share a meal with the guru this morning, some people had been tardy, others had not even come, and some had only come down to eat after being shouted at to get out of bed. Did they think this was a tour group and that they could do as they pleased? Had they not thought that with a group this large, the travel services company might want to make some announcements? This one shows up, that one leaves; what was going on? Did they expect the travel services company to keep them each informed with a personal phone call or something? This was a puja group, not a tour group. Lots of people thought that they could wait until after the meal to go to the bathroom, to go back to their rooms to get their belongings. Had they not thought to prepare their luggage beforehand, and bring it to breakfast with them? They thought there would still be plenty of time to go back upstairs and get them. Private travel agencies charge at least a few hundred thousand to take a tour group on a pilgrimage to India. This time the travel services company had also arranged food and accommodation for everyone, and for them all to participate in the puja; and it had only cost each person a little bit of money. They should not think that they were extraordinary just because they had spent a little money; they should think long and hard on just what the purpose of this trip to India really was.

While Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was still sitting, there were disciples who left to go to the bathroom, who went back to their rooms to get their things, and who left the dining hall early. They had completely disrespected the guru, ignoring him as if he had been invisible. If you want to leave early, should you not first come and ask permission? Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed a disciple to make a list of all these people; they would not be allowed to seek an audience with His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. In all there were thirty-two of them. Afterward, these thirty-two disciples kneeled repenting in the doorway to the hotel, paying reverent homage as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche got in the vehicle and left. Though their punishment was to not be able to the guru to seek an audience with His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche told them to think of a way to get to the temple and participate in the puja. The disciples were truly grateful for the auspicious teachings Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had bestowed upon them!

When Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the rest of the disciples to seek an audience with His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche remained very attentive at the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s side, paying close attention to everything the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang did. His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang orally transmitted Sutra of Recollection of Three Jewels to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s disciples, and compassionately bid everyone to come forward one at a time to receive blessings. Because there were so many disciples, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was concerned the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang would get tired, so he instructed everyone to bow down a bit lower, get a bit closer, and move through a bit more quickly, and that they did not need to kneel down. Many times Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche reminded everyone of this, yet still there were a few disciples who kneeled down. It was apparent how respectful and attentive Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was being toward His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang; before the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang even said anything, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had already lent his attention to these things to make everything go more smoothly. Yet even after Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said these things many times, some of the disciples kept on kneeling down. This was because they were not really paying attention to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, even though Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had himself demonstrated how a disciple should attend to a guru with respect.

The next day, after the puja was concluded, a special banquet was held so that all of the participating disciples could share the evening meal with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. They were truly grateful to the guru for having given them such an opportunity. In Tibet, when most people see a grand practitioner, all they are able to do is stand back and look on from afar; they are not even able to enter the same room as the grand practitioner, let alone have the good fortune of sharing a meal with him. So the disciples felt truly grateful indeed. During the banquet, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche again revealed auspiciously to the disciples that the offering the guru had made to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang this time had been a rare and precious blue bowl made of lapis lazuli. Ten years previously, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had hoped to offer such a bowl to the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang; Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had talked much about the significance of the rare, precious lapis lazuli bowl in representing the lineage. At this point the disciple beseeched Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to explain it again to everyone, for hearing it from Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche himself would make everyone feel even more deeply moved by the disciple’s utmost reverence and sincere offering to the guru. Before making an offering of such a precious treasure, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had first sought permission from His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, and had only gone ahead with the plan after seeing that the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang was very happy with it. This bowl was very difficult to make; it took half a year and thirty-five kilograms of lapis lazuli just to make such a tiny bowl. In the end it had cost more than ten million New Taiwan dollars. No wonder Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche often said the disciples did not really make offerings. Indeed, upon hearing that the guru had made such a magnificent offering to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang with such respect, and gratitude in his heart, the disciples felt that their own offerings truly did pale by comparison.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s offerings have always made His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang happy. They fill the guru with joy, and he makes offerings of them wholeheartedly. Shameful as it may sound, disciples often bring things they do not need and make offerings of them to the guru, thinking that is good enough. Frequently they even say they have made a lot of offerings to the guru. Upon seeing this offering of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s, and how auspicious and exquisite it was, not to mention all the other offerings Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has made, they realized how extremely precious the guru’s offerings all were. The guru often says that without making offerings one cannot accumulate good fortune; without sufficient good fortune, one will encounter many hindrances to practicing Buddhism. With every bit of the disciples’ offerings, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche always looks for opportunities to help them make their offerings so that they can accumulate good fortune. Therefore, it is enough that the disciples commit to making sincere offerings to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche; they do not need to think about making offerings to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. Without Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, we would never have the good fortune to see the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. All we need to do is make offerings to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and the guru will arrange everything for us.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s generous attitude when it comes to offerings allowed him the great good fortune and opportunity to make an offering of this precious lapis lazuli bowl. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said that one should not make an offering of an empty bowl, so inside the guru placed precious red coral, pearls, and ten taels of gold. Upon seeing this, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang was very, very pleased.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said that previously, because His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang had been so exhausted, and his health was deteriorating; without further ado Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had made arrangements for the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang to come over to Taiwan for three months of recuperation and prepared the best Chinese medicines to nurse the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang back to health. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had paid for the plane ticket and all food and accommodation costs without telling anyone, simply doing it all in silence. Now His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang is feeling much better. Next she mentioned that last year, in 2012, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had led disciples in a 24-hour recitation of the Amitayus Mantra for His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. It turned out Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had carefully and attentively planned everything in advance, and done it all one step at a time. Before his guru had even mentioned it Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had already prepared everything, and had been diligent and done his very best. She said, “We, on the other hand, when have we ever thought of our guru? We just think about ourselves, our own families. Even when we help the guru or run a few errands for the Buddhist Center, we just do it thinking that this way we won’t get scolded; we never bear in mind the guru’s point of view while doing things. No wonder we are always being berated, and doing harm to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.” She appealed to everyone, saying that they all truly needed to repent!

She said that every time she went on a pilgrimage, she always felt profoundly that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche really was a strict yet kind father. In the morning, before participating in the puja, the guru was a strict father; giving a mind-blowing lesson, hoping the disciples would do well and not embarrass themselves in front of the Tibetans. In the evening, during the banquet, the guru’s auspicious teachings made him seem like a kind father giving earnest exhortations. Only by going and participating in person had she been able to truly and profoundly experience this. She believed that every Dharma brother who participated in a pilgrimage really could deeply understand from experience that “it really is so wonderful that we are following Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche!”

For this Long Life Puja, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche stated that its purpose was also to allow disciples to have an opportunity to accumulate good fortune and continue to practice Buddhism. As for the disciples that had not attended, some had not been able to come because they were employed at Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s company, some because they could not afford it, some because their family members had been opposed to their going. There were a great many factors, but merits were dedicated to them during the puja because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche always held all the disciples close to his heart. Furthermore, the guru also reminded the participating disciples that they should remember they were attending the puja on behalf of all of the disciples who had not been able to come.

This disciple encouraged everybody not to overthink things the next time they had an opportunity to go on a pilgrimage; signing up to attend was enough, because no matter how much she shared her experiences, she could not explain the feelings she had. After returning from such a trip, disciples will be more determined in following Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Also, it does not matter if you have gone many times already; following closely in the guru’s footsteps is the eternal mission of a disciple.

Next a disciple shared with everyone the auspicious events that occurred on this trip to India to participate in the Long Life Puja.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche taught that the idea for this Long Life Puja that was held in the Jangchubling Monastery in Dehra Dun had actually originated last year, in 2012, when Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had performed the Amitayus on His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s birthday. To pray for a long life for the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, the guru had led the disciples of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in a non-stop 24-hour recitation of the Amitayus Mantra. Lama Sonam, who organized the Long Life Puja at Jangchubling Monastery, had attended the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to participate in the puja and afterward had returned to India to begin preparations. Thus, there was this Long Life Puja for His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. Because this puja had originated at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had therefore led the Buddhist Center’s disciples to participate in the last part of the puja to help make it a perfect completion.

The committee that organized this puja included some grass-roots individuals. These are not monastics; they are ordinary Tibetans. Some of them are educated, and some have even studied abroad. Because they have misconceptions with regard to Han Chinese, they have difficulty accepting the fact that a Han Chinese could possibly attain such a high fruition level as a great Rinpoche. On this trip to Dehra Dun, India, the disciples were going to set out on the 23rd, but the organizing committee waited until the 21st to send a letter to inquire as to whether the itineraries and accommodations of His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and his disciples had been arranged properly. Only after that did they ask if His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and his disciples had registered for their lunchtime meals to be provided during the two-day puja. They did not know that with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s connections in Dehra Dun, no matter how many hotel rooms the guru and his disciples needed, it would have been arranged far in advance without a hitch. In Tibetan Buddhism, it is always the great Rinpoches who line up first to make mandala offerings. However, while negotiating the details of the mandala offerings, in order to emphasize fairness the committee insisted that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche must draw straws. If we did not agree with this method, they said, we could write them a letter. They even said that if we did not agree with drawing straws, then they would cancel all of the mandala offerings. At the same time, during the negotiations process, two of the policy-making committee members called Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche by the name “Yen Rinpoche.” This indicated that they had absolutely no respect for His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Dharma title had been bestowed by the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang in 2007 at the perfect completion of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s retreat at Mount Lapchi. They even said that it was just a Tibetan name; how did they not know that it was an auspicious Dharma title! Furthermore, we decided not to draw straws and be the last ones to make a mandala offering. The organizers also wanted His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to write a letter explaining that the guru had voluntarily done so. This was because they were afraid they would get reprimanded for handling things in this way. However, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would not write the letter. Even though His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was the last to lead his disciples in making mandala offerings, in Chinese there is a phrase: the best is saved for last.

Though it was resolved later that all of the Rinpoches would ascend the stage together to make mandala offerings, the committee did not make this known until the 25th—the day of the puja—nor did they give us any advance notice. They waited until that day to ask His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche whether he would like to make a mandala offering together with the other Rinpoches, or if instead the guru would prefer to make mandala offerings with his disciples. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led his disciples in making mandala offerings. For the good of the Order, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, and the disciples, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was exercising forbearance.

On the morning of the 25th, prior to setting out for the puja, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche taught the disciples how to make a mandala offering. Every movement and every detail, right down to the exact timing of it all, was taught accurately and clearly with military-like precision. However, still some disciples misheard, and for this they really must repent.

On the 25th, before the puja commenced, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the disciples in formation to give a respectful welcome to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. After a short musical selection, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang still had not arrived. Presently, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche proceeded to a place nearer the main entrance so that he could wait respectfully and greet His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang when he got there, as well as attend the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang at his side. While the mandala was being presented, 204 disciples, each holding a khata spread across both hands, lined up face to face before the mandala in rows and in front of a long table decorated with oil lamps. Leading three ordained disciples as well as a disciple carrying the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center’s banner, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche walked forward and made an offering to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang of the Shakyamuni Buddha bowl that had been fashioned from rare and precious lapis lazuli from Afghanistan. While Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presented the offering to the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, all of the disciples faced the mandala and passed their khatas forward as an offering to the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. When the Tibetan lamas present saw the many disciples from the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, led to India all the way from Taiwan by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to present the mandala before His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, the magnificent scene left them all extremely full of praise. All of the flowers, rice, oil lamps, and tormas for this Long Life Puja were provided by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. In addition, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche gave special instructions for arrangements to be made for making offerings to the nearly 600 monks and nuns who participated in this Long Life Puja. Before the puja had concluded, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed the general director to donate 181,000 rupees to Ani Monastery. The supervisor and disciplinary director of Samtenling Nunnery of the Drikung Kagyu Institute was full of praise and gratitude for His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate support of Samtenling Nunnery and made a point during the puja of respectfully presenting Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche with a khata. We are grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

In the shrine on the top floor of Songtsen Library wherein a statue of the thousand-armed and thousand-eyed Avalokiteshvara is enshrined, the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s secretary, Lama Kinley, relayed the words of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. The Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang had made a special request that Lama Kinley tell everyone the following: His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang was very happy that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had led his disciples to Jangchubling Monastery in India to participate in this puja, and that this puja would be beneficial for both the longevity and health of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. Finally Lama Kinley expressed his hope that everyone would cultivate compassion and do their best to follow His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

Afterward a doctor-disciple shared an account of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious undertakings and teachings given while participating in the Long Life Puja in India.

Prior to departure, one of the disciples going on the pilgrimage became hoarse to the point of not being able to utter a sound. For eight days straight the disciple was unable to speak normally. During dinner on the second day after their arrival in India, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche blessed this disciple’s water. Three seconds after she drank it, she immediately regained her voice. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then and there asked the doctor-disciple to explain the phenomenon from a medical perspective. He said that in Western medicine such a condition would generally be judged to be the result of laryngitis, swelling, or nerve palsy. Treatment would involve taking steroids for a period of three to seven days before any improvement would be seen, and only after a few weeks’ time would the patient be completely cured. At the time, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche stated that this disciple’s inability to speak had be the result of aflatoxin poisoning. Even so, she had been able to speak again within three seconds of having drunk the water. The doctor-disciple said that this could not be explained using Western medicine.

Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went on to ask him whether or not the human skull changed after adulthood. The doctor-disciple answered that as soon as a person was born, the tiny cracks between the skull’s bone plates began to gradually close; after that, there would be no more changes to that person’s skull. On Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s head, however, the frontal bone as well as the parts of the skull around the guru’s ears had continued to change and protrude; this, too, Western medicine had no way of explaining. Then Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche taught that at most only 30-40% of a human brain can be developed. Why can the remaining 60-70% not be developed? Because we humans base our acts on experience; that is, we accumulate the experiences of our predecessors or of other people. Furthermore, everything we think or do is for our own benefit or for that of our friends and family. A true practitioner, however, bases his or her acts on knowledge; everything the practitioner does is done selflessly, for the good of other people. For this reason 100% of a practitioner’s brain can be developed. Because a practitioner acts for the benefit of sentient beings, and has a broad mind, he has a broad range of knowledge. Even if the guru has not conducted much study of knowledge in a certain field, after just a simple explanation Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche can quite naturally understand the processes involved as well as know their outcome. Next the doctor-disciple admitted that he only remembered part of what Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said; this was because the doctor-disciple had not been respectful enough toward the guru and had not listened attentively. He went on to share with everyone that witnessing Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s offering to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang had made him feel even more ashamed, and that he felt he himself had not made any offerings at all.

Next the entire board of directors of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Cultural Exchange Association stepped forward. One of its members shared her experiences during the trip to participate in the Indian puja, and in particular how Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had helped her. She also pointed out the mistakes the group of disciples participating in the puja had made.

Before going to India, she had mysteriously ceased being able to emit sound from her throat; whenever she opened her mouth, all that came out was a whisper. Because she had lost her voice she had to send text messages in order to communicate her predicament to the disciple close to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said that she must have eaten something she should not have. Not daring to tell a lie, she admitted that she had indeed drunk peanut soup. A few days previously, and a couple of hours after having recited the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, she had felt she deserved a reward, so she had gone to a place that was well-known for its desserts and ordered peanut soup. If peanuts are not processed immediately after being harvested, then after storing them for a short while they will produce aflatoxins. Thus, the reason she had lost her voice lay in the bowl of peanut soup she had consumed. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche stated that because she had once been afflicted with cancer, her constitution was such that she was quite susceptible to toxins. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche knew that she had consumed peanut soup, and for that the guru admonished her. She had had money enough to enjoy quality beverages in the Glorious Jewel Cafe, yet she had instead gone out to drink peanut soup elsewhere. As a result, she had poisoned herself and lost her voice.

In India over dinner with the disciples, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche joked that the servers at the restaurant might be under the impression that she was a very gentle and soft East Asian lady, because all she did was smile and nod her head in silence. During the meal, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche suddenly asked her to hand him her water glass. At first she felt a bit awkward and did not understand why the guru wanted it. But then she quickly did so, passing it to the guru respectfully with both hands. Just then another disciple, watching as she passed her glass to the guru, commented that she likely had never passed a glass of water to someone in her lifetime. Indeed, she had never done such a thing; it was clear that she had not been very filial at all. Only when His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to bless the water in her glass did she understand that the guru meant to help her, and right then and there she was moved to tears. After His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessing, the guru instructed her to drink the water without delay. Within three seconds of taking a single gulp her voice had completely returned!

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then instructed her to perform prostrations, so she hurriedly prostrated herself before the guru. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then asked a doctor-disciple who was present what could cause one to lose one’s voice. The doctor-disciple explained that it could be caused by an inflammation, swelling, or nerve palsy. Then His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked him how long treatment would usually take for a person to recover her voice, and if it were possible for this to happen within three seconds. The doctor-disciple said that this was impossible, and praised the powers of His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had blessed her water, and she recovered her voice immediately after drinking it. Only someone who has attained at least the Eighth Bodhisattva Ground can achieve such a thing. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has already cultivated the ability to be at ease and perform without hindrance, the ability to act in accordance with the Dharma naturally, in an unstudied fashion, and also has cultivated anabhoga, or effortlessness. These characteristics indicate that His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is a Bodhisattva of the Eighth Ground or higher. The disciple appealed to everyone, saying, “If we feel we’ve all been given a lot of help by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, then why have our offerings been so meager? Just think: Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, who every week ascends the Dharma throne at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to teach the Dharma for us all, is an Eighth Ground Bodhisattva or greater. If we do not give offerings to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, then whom will we give them to?” She shared her knowledge with everyone of what the custom was in society in general, and said that she had to tell them about it; if she kept it in any longer she would burst. In other places, when going on an overseas pilgrimage with Dharma masters, most people have to pay group fees and other expenses, and these are given to the Dharma masters leading the group. On top of all that they still have to make offerings, and in the end it can cost them at least a few hundred thousand yuan. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, on the other hand, led puja groups overseas without collecting any extra fees at all; the only things they had to pay for were the puja group’s travel expenses. Everyone should cherish our situation, and make offerings!

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche stated that he had blessed her because she had made some offerings. The reason she shared it here was that the guru had already said this in public. Before she took refuge, during her first time participating in a puja at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, she heard that His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performed the Phowa for a fifteen- or sixteen-year-old disciple who had died of lung cancer. At once she felt extremely surprised; she had practiced with another Order for decades and had heard of the Phowa before. Though she did not think the Phowa was no longer transmitted, still, she had not believed it could be cultivated. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has been performing the Phowa to liberate the deceased. After it was complete, round holes appeared on the skull of the deceased—auspicious signs—and the guru addressed the attendees: “Do you think performing the Phowa is an easy task? Performing the Phowa drains a practitioner of his merits, good fortune, and longevity.” These words struck a chord deep within her. Who in the world could deserve her offerings more than such a rare practitioner as this? And so she decided right then and there to make an offering to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Nonetheless, she did not make offerings to the guru out of a desire to cure her cancer or have good health, because the first time she sought an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the guru told her not to come to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center with the mentality of hoping to be cured of her illness.

The doctor-disciple neglected to mention a few things just now in the telling of this story. At the Buddhist center she had previously attended, the yidam enshrined had been Padmasambhava. So she knew very well that for His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to have cultivated to the point that his skull had changed, with his forehead protruding outward, the guru must certainly have already achieved perfect mastery over his chi-channels and bindus. The guru’s frontal bone protruded in the same manner as that of the Dharma photo of Padmasambhava. As the doctor-disciple had said, after childhood a person’s skull ceases to change; that His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s skull had indicated the extremely high level of achievement that the guru had attained, and that he was indeed an authentic Rinpoche. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche once revealed that ordinary people only use 30-40% of their brain capacity; the reason their brains do not develop completely is that ordinary people live their days using their experiences to selfishly benefit themselves. Only by practicing Buddhism diligently can one cause one’s brain to become fully developed; if you do not have the root of wisdom to practice Buddhism, then you should be obedient by abiding around and attending to the guru. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s brain is fully developed, so the guru understands how things begin, proceed, and conclude. Ordinary people, on the other hand, only know how things begin; they do not know how they conclude. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s brain has become adept by way of cultivation.

On the second day of this pilgrimage to India, just prior to presenting making the mandala offering, a lama came over to ask if His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche wanted to make the mandala offering with the other Rinpoches or if he would prefer to make the mandala offering with his disciples. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche pondered this awhile: If he were to present the mandala together with the other Rinpoches, they would line up in order of fruition level. Considering the misconception the Tibetans had of Han Chinese, they would feel uncomfortable if Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche were to go first. However, if Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche were to line up last, his disciples would be unhappy. Because the mandala offering was a very auspicious ritual, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did not wish for anyone to be displeased. Therefore the guru decided to wait until the Tibetans had finished offering their mandala, and afterward to offer the mandala with his disciples. As the saying goes, “The best wine is at the bottom of the jug.” In the end, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche made a separate mandala offering to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang with the banner of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center carried by a disciple leading the way, and all the other disciples forming two lines to follow from behind. The team appeared exceedingly spectacular and magnificent, shocking everyone present with their grandeur.

During the presentation of the mandala, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche made an offering of a lapis lazuli bowl to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. Inside the bowl were ten taels of gold, as well as pearls and red coral of the finest quality. To carve this bowl, which was small enough to be held in the palm of one’s hand, was no easy feat; more than thirty-five kilograms of lapis lazuli had been used. There had never been a lapis lazuli bowl like it in history, and it would be difficult to manufacture such a work of art again in the future. One might say it was unique on this Earth, and it was worth more than ten million New Taiwan dollars. His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang was extremely pleased, and issued a document with specific instructions that it be collected after the mandala offering; His Holiness also stated that lapis lazuli was one of the five treasures of Tibet.

Next this disciple pointed out the mistakes the disciples had made while part of this puja group. Clearly His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had already instructed that while participating in a puja group the disciples must maintain an attentive frame of mind, yet still there were those who had not done their best to participate in the pujas and follow along with the group but who went so far as to ask the travel agency to take them to purchase silk scarves and tea leaves. Because this was not on the original itinerary, the travel agency had to have everyone on the bus sign an affidavit before they could change it. Some people did not want to sign, and the instigator insisted on forcing everyone on the bus into a consensus. This disciple straightforwardly said that His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had led the disciples to India in order to participate in the Long Life Puja, and not so that they could be tourists. She pointed out that the travel agency had already arranged silk scarves as gifts for everyone, so if they really wanted to buy more, then they could purchase them through the travel agency or even ask a trading company to import them. They could even import an entire crate of them if they wanted. Otherwise they might as well buy them while part of a tour group; why did they insist on buying things while on a trip to participate in a puja? Did they want to drag everyone on the bus down with them? His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche stated that the purpose of this trip was to take the disciples to participate in a puja, yet still there were those who disobeyed. If they insisted on acting so heedlessly, then weren’t they digging their own graves? The board of directors of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Cultural Exchange Association will be holding a meeting on how to handle this situation.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne and personally bestowed the Vajrasattva Empowerment, and bestowed precious Dharma teachings upon all the attendees.

Today the Vajrasattva Empowerment will be bestowed upon everyone. There are those in society who criticize Tantrism, saying that Shakyamuni Buddha had never talked about empowerment. In The Flower Adornment Sutra, however, empowerment is mentioned, and Tantra also mentions that empowerment is very important. It is recorded in the sutras that when a practitioner has attained the fruition level of a Tenth Ground Bodhisattva, all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the ten directions will come forward and advise that practitioner to practice Tantra, and will bestow empowerments upon the practitioner. Exoteric methods alone are not sufficient to attain Buddhahood; hoping to attain Buddhahood without first mastering Tantra is practically impossible.

Those who criticize Tantrism say that Shakyamuni never spoke any Tantra. Actually, through careful study many of the sutras can be seen to contain hints and clues. You cannot see them; that’s all. Tantra is not spoken in the open; it is uncommon, and people who do not have the root capacity to be taught Tantra cannot learn it. This is why some people think Tantra does not exist, or use other such strange reasoning to attack Tantrism. Nowadays some people on the streets publically teach a lot of mantras, claiming that they are tantric masters. Be careful of such people, everyone.

Why should empowerments be bestowed? In Tibetan Buddhism, empowerments are very important. They represent a bestowment of authority to a practitioner so that in future that practitioner can practice a certain Dharma. Empowerments originated back in ancient India. When a king was giving up his throne to the crown prince, he would fill a jeweled bottle made of a precious material with purified water and pour it over the prince’s head. This signified that he was the one who would inherit the throne, and this empowerment—literally, “pouring on the head”—symbolized that the king was passing on the authority to the prince to rule the nation.

In the Dharma methods of Tibetan Buddhism, before a practitioner can practice a certain yidam or recite the yidam’s mantra, he must first be empowered. The practitioner absolutely must first receive the empowerment before he can practice it; without being empowered no matter how many times he recites the mantra, all he is doing is forming an affinity with the yidam—he will not be able to attain results. So why do a lot of people on the streets recite the Great Compassion Mantra, the Rebirth Mantra, the Ten Small Mantras, the Buddha’s name, etc. so many times, yet still to no effect? Forget changing their karma; they can’t even control their mindstream, because they have not received empowerment. If the practitioner has not received empowerment, has not been given the authority, then the mantras he recites are no different from those recited by ordinary people. It does not matter what vows he makes; even if he makes a great vow, he is still just an ordinary person.

Tantra is practiced by cultivating from the Effect Ground. This is because the Buddha said that every single sentient being possesses the conditions necessary for attaining Buddhahood; every sentient being has a Buddha nature and is a future Buddha. Thus, Tantrism teaches us to begin practicing directly from a state of Buddhahood. In this way, one can attain Buddhahood relatively quickly. In Exoteric Buddhism, one practices by cultivating from the Causal Ground. Beginning as an ordinary person, one progresses slowly, step by step, and it takes a very long time to attain Buddhahood. According to the sutras, using Exoteric method it takes three great asamkhyeya kalpas to attain Buddhahood. That is, the Earth must first go through many cycles of formation, existence, destruction, and emptiness—a period of time much, much longer than tens of billions of years.

The Vajrasattva is a very important yidam in Tantrism. Practitioners practicing Tantra must cultivate the Vajrasattva; without doing so, it is exceedingly difficult to achieve attainment in Tantrism. Not any propagator of Buddhism can grant an empowerment. The only gurus that can are Rinpoches, and even they must first have already achieved attainment, gone into retreats and become attuned to the yidam, and manifested signs as recorded in the sutras. Only by first possessing these conditions can they bestow empowerment upon others. After receiving empowerment, one can go on to cultivate this yidam and benefit many sentient beings. If a practitioner does not achieve any attainment after performing a retreat and only cultivates for his own benefit, then he cannot help sentient beings; only by achieving attainment through the performing retreats can he benefit sentient beings. On the streets many people like to recite the Great Compassion Mantra to help folks eliminate their karma and be cured of illness. However, if the Great Compassion Mantra has not been orally transmitted to them by a guru, or if the guru who transmitted it to them is not himself attuned with the Great Compassion Mantra, then reciting it will yield no results other than perhaps a sense of religious mystery.

These days some people like to strike believers across the body with prayer beads, claiming that this can cure illnesses. According to Tantrism, a practitioner must not allow his own prayer beads to be touched by other people. Striking the body with prayer beads seems more like a Taoist method; there is no mention of such method in the sutras. Surely it would be too easy if someone could cure illnesses or get rid of karmic hindrances simply by striking a person’s body with prayer beads! If a practitioner does not help the karmic creditors of sentient beings through practice and use his accumulated merits and good fortune to move them, then how will they possibly leave? Performing the Vajrasattva can genuinely help us eliminate good and evil karma; both of these are hindrances to our practicing Buddhism. The Vajrasattva Empowerment bestowed today is a yidam achieved by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche after spending a very long time in retreat. This does not mean the guru spent a long time in retreat just once; rather, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has gone into retreat many times over the years, devoting a huge amount of effort and energy to cultivating this yidam and attaining achievement, and thus is able to perform this yidam to benefit sentient beings.

One year His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang told Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche he would transmit the Mahamudra pith to him. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche worried that his karma might not yet be clear enough. So in order to receive this precious pith with a pure body, speech, and mind, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche implored His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang for permission to first go into retreat for twenty days where he would recite the Vajrasattva Mantra one hundred thousand times, and afterward would return to receive the pith. After His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang agreed, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went into retreat for twenty days and recited the Hundred-Syllable Mantra one hundred thousand times. The Hundred-Syllable Mantra is the long form of the Vajrasattva Mantra. It comprises one hundred characters in total, so reciting it one hundred thousand times means reciting a total of ten million characters. Nor can this process be rushed; it must be recited in Samadi, and one’s mind must not become lax, drowsy, excited, or anxious. Only after reciting the Hundred-Syllable Mantra one hundred thousand times did Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche dare to receive His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s oral transmission of the Mahamudra pith.

The Mahamudra pith is not like how you all might imagine; it does not involve a lot of Dharma texts or mudras. In fact, it is only a few words long. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went into retreat for twenty days all in preparation for just a short few minutes of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang transmitting the Dharma, because his mind had to be sincere in order to receive it. To hear the Dharma, one must possess sufficient good fortune. If a practitioner’s karma has not yet been cleared, or if he does not have enough good fortune, or if his body, speech, and mind have not been purified, then even if the Dharma has been transmitted to him and he has heard it, he still will not be able to attain achievement. For you, you might think it is nothing but a few words, and therefore a waste of twenty days of your time. If you have this sort of attitude you are prideful, haughty, and arrogant. Practitioners in ancient times—as well as contemporary Tibetans—would spend a large amount of time, journeying a very long way, to get to a puja just to hear a single phrase of the Dharma. They value the Dharma very highly. Only by being respectful can one gain the good fortune necessary to receive the Dharma. The Dharma is not as you might think; you cannot learn it just because you want to. You cannot simply turn on the television, listen to the Dharma, and then be able to practice it. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche often comes across people who approach the guru for advice on which sorts of Dharma they should learn or what they should recite. They even try to pick and choose which Dharma methods they like learning. They think that a practitioner’s job is to benefit sentient beings, after all, so of course he should transmit the Dharma. But have they thought about whether or not they have cleared their own karma? Have they accumulated enough good fortune? Have they been purified of body, speech, and mind? This sort of attitude is arrogant, not humble.

The second time His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went into retreat, the yidam the guru practiced was the Vajrasattva. The Dharma texts mention that if a practitioner sees fire while practicing this Dharma, it means that he will flourish from mastering it, and will be able to benefit many sentient beings. This fire is not at all the sort that is artificially made or deliberately lit by humans; nor is it fire from an oil lamp. Rather, it is a fire that can only be seen through special cause and condition. At around eleven o’clock one morning during Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s retreat, just after he had completed a session, the guru was on his way to the bathroom when he inadvertently glanced out the window and saw that the grass outside the enclosure was on fire. The more it burned the hungrier the flames grew, until soon they were higher than the wall and blowing straight for the nuns’ dormitory. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was very worried that if this continued it might catch on fire, and if that happened, the losses would be quite severe. It would cost a great deal to rebuild the dormitory. However, while in retreat a practitioner may not speak, write notes, knock on doors, or make any telephone calls. And so visualizing himself as the Vajrasattva, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche used his feet to stamp out the flames, and after a little while the fire really did go out. At the time, the weather in that part of India had been extremely dry; there had not been a drop of rain. Ever since then, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has continued to practice the Vajrasattva without a hitch, and with it has been able to help many sentient beings.

You should not think that you can achieve attainment just by constantly reciting and prostrating. You must also possess a lot of causes and conditions, and most importantly you must completely surrender yourself to the guru. For example, if the guru wants you to perform a retreat, you should not ask what the purpose of the retreat is, nor should you ask things like what sorts of attainment you will have achieved once your retreat is complete. In Tibetan Buddhism, prior to practicing Tantra, a practitioner must complete the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices. After performing prostrations, he must recite the Vajrasattva Mantra one hundred thousand times. Some disciples have already received the transmission of the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices, but have not yet received the Vajrasattva Empowerment; the guru must bestow the empowerment, oral transmission, and the Dharma teachings to the disciples before they can learn to practice the yidam.

After you have received the empowerment and the Dharma transmission the guru has bestowed upon you, you must not break the vow you make to the guru, to the yidam, and to sentient beings. That is, you may not break the Samaya Commandments; otherwise there will be severe hindrances to your future practice of Buddhism. A guru who transmits Tantra and mantras to his disciples shows them more benevolence than does a guru in Exoteric Buddhism, because the former can help his disciples to be liberated from reincarnation, achieve attainment through practice, and will bless them throughout their lives until they attain Buddhahood. In Exoteric Buddhism a guru leads you to get started in the practice of Buddhism, but cannot liberate you from reincarnation in this lifetime. After receiving the Vajrasattva Empowerment today, if you still doubt the guru even a tiny bit or show him the slightest disrespect, it is certain that you will not achieve any attainment in your practice. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed an ordained disciple who was present and who had recited The Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows many times to explain, according to the sutra, what sort of karmic retribution would result if a person did not believe in cause and effect, scorned the Three Jewels, or doubted them. The ordained disciple answered, “Oh, that person would fall into Uninterrupted Hell!”

Breaking the Samaya Commandments is a very serious offense, but some people think Tibetan Buddhism uses these commandments to threaten believers. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas would not terrorize or threaten us. The reason we suffer karmic retribution from breaking the Samaya Commandments is that we all reap what we sow; it has nothing to do with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Why would breaking them result in such serious evil retribution? The reason is quite simple. If someone teaches you how to do good deeds, yet you turn around and say that he is bad, that you still have doubts about him, and that you do not accept his teachings, then you’re pretty evil, aren’t you? If you do not understand that you should repent and adjust your way of thinking, or if you after accepting the help of the Dharma you still harbor evil thoughts, then you are an ingrate. People who are ungrateful not only have trouble practicing Buddhism; they even have a difficult time existing in everyday society, and nothing they do will go smoothly for them. After taking the precepts one should keep them, after all; in Exoteric Buddhism, even a lay practitioner must keep the five precepts after taking them, and any person who breaks them risks being sent down into hell. There are different levels of precepts. The five precepts are kept by lay practitioners, while ordained practitioners have their own level of precepts to keep. In Tibetan Buddhism, the Samaya Commandments are precepts that a Bodhisattva must keep. For anyone who breaks Samaya Commandments, it is not likely that he or she will achieve any attainment while practicing Buddhism.

After receiving the Vajrayana teachings, why would karmic retribution for breaking the Samaya Commandments be especially severe? Looking at it another way, if you have completely surrendered yourself to the guru and are respectful and obedient after receiving an empowerment, you will advance rather quickly. If, on the other hand, you are disrespectful toward the guru, you could just as quickly fall into the Three Evil Realms. The increase in merits from a First Ground Bodhisattva to a Second Ground Bodhisattva is not as simple as “one plus one equals two.” Rather, they increase exponentially. If you can practice according to the Dharma taught by the guru, you will definitely advance more quickly. The most important thing is to have the will and determination; you must completely surrender yourself to the guru before you can achieve attainment. After receiving empowerment, if you continue to do evil or be lax, you will suffer severe karmic retribution. For example, if you were in a car traveling forward at 10 km per hour, it is not very likely that you would experience an accident; even if you did get into a wreck, it would not be that severe. It would take a long time, however, for your car to reach its destination. If you were in a sports car, on the other hand, you would get there very fast. But at such a high speed having an accident would be catastrophic. Some people will think that if that’s the case, they would rather not accept the empowerment or practice this Dharma so as to avoid any potentially severe consequences. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche taught that if you can learn how to control your own mind, then why wouldn’t you? Not that many people in the world drive sports cars. This is not actually because they cannot afford them, but because they are afraid to drive such a vehicle; they are afraid they will not be able to control it. Once you have the ability to control a sports car, then you can reach any destination you want very quickly. When a practitioner learns to control his or her own mind, then no matter what Dharma method he or she practices, attainment can be achieved rapidly. Not only will the practitioner be able to obtain benefits, he or she will be able to benefit sentient beings and help them be liberated from life and death.

The Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center does not hold empowerment pujas very often, because His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche does not bestow empowerments lightly. The guru will only bestow an empowerment when there are the right causes and conditions and when the empowerment can truly benefit sentient beings. Empowerments can be categorized into empowerments of forming connections and empowerments of cultivation. Many people bestow empowerments upon their believers casually, yet they do not care about whether those believers practice the Dharma or not because they have no intention of teaching them how. This is a sort of empowerment of forming connections, and does not have much to do with the Samaya Commandments. Once the guru has bestowed the empowerment and orally transmitted the teachings, the disciples accepting the empowerment absolutely must not break the Samaya Commandments. So think on it carefully; you still have time to leave. Some people might think that since the consequences of breaking the Samaya Commandments are so serious, all they have to do is practice something simpler such as reciting the Amitabha Buddha’s name. You must not be under the impression that the Pure Land Sect is relatively simple; this is a misconception. The Amitabha Sutra mentions that only good men and women who possess good fortune, merits, and causal conditions can be reborn in the Pure Land; if you do not meet the prerequisites, you cannot go. Ask yourselves: Have you achieved these things?

After you have received an empowerment, this signifies that you have been authorized to practice this yidam. Before receiving the empowerment, ask yourselves this: Can you achieve absolute respect for the Three Jewels? If you cannot, then you may get up and leave right now. Do not worry about being scolded; Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche will still allow you to continue participating in the pujas. No one else drives people away like Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche; everyone else hopes to have as many people in attendance as possible. As long as you are willing, they allow you to participate in their pujas. But Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche understands cause and effect, and does not want you to create an evil cause that will make you have to suffer retribution in the future. If, after receiving the Vajrasattva teachings, you form even the slightest doubt or disrespect toward the Three Jewels and do not do your utmost to repent and amend your attitude, then Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche will drive you away. Why so strict? Because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s vow is the same as Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s vow: “I vow not to attain Buddhahood unless and until all the Hells are empty.” The guru does not want to see a single sentient being fall into hell.

The most important thing while practicing Buddhism is to control your mind. Because of this the guru will use many Dharma methods to help you do this. These Dharma methods are tools, while Tantras are like relatively strict tools, the effects of which are very obvious. Relatively speaking, gurus in Vajrayana Buddhism are quite strict. Because you have accumulated a lot of bad habits from past lives, without stringent teachings you will be hard pressed to change them. You all have your own views with regard to practicing Buddhism, but you have such views so as to make your lives easier; they have absolutely nothing to do with practicing Buddhism. If you want to learn how to practice Buddhism, you should follow the teachings in the sutras, not just believe for a moment and then doubt them again. The reason evil thoughts arise within you and hinder your practice of Buddhism is that you cannot take control of your mind, and this is why the guru needs to use a lot of rules in order to discipline you.

When Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the disciples to India to participate in the puja, many twists and turns occurred while arrangements were being made for the presentation of the mandala. Why did Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche put up with all of it? Because participating in a puja is a very auspicious thing; the guru did not wish to cause those sentient beings that were present to be distressed. Even less did he want the puja to not be successful on account of a few misunderstandings. The Tibetans had misunderstood Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and not wanted him to be in the limelight, so the guru had gone with the flow and decided not to create a stir. All Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche wanted was for them to be happy; the guru wanted to harmonize with sentient beings, not cause them distress.

When you went on this group trip to participate in the puja, you knew full well that buying souvenirs was not part of the itinerary, yet some of you still made a request of the travel agency to take you shopping for silk scarves, tea leaves, and so on. For the travel agency to change the itinerary to include stops at souvenir shops required signed affidavits from everyone on the bus. In the end some people did not want to sign, so the initiators went so far as to try to force everyone on the bus into a consensus. To be clear, the purpose of your trip to India was to participate in a puja—not to be a tourist. You are not foreigners, so why copy their desire to purchase gifts and souvenirs? You might think that because you spent money on a trip overseas, you had to buy things to bring back. The travel agency had already given everyone so many gifts, yet still you wanted even more. This is pure and simple greed. If Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had not told you in advance, you might look for excuses by saying you did not know. But clearly the guru had just reminded everyone what sort of attitude they should maintain while participating in a puja, yet some people still did not listen. The Association’s board of directors will hold a discussion to decide how to handle this incident; going forward, the people in question should not bother to attend the Buddhist Center. If they cannot listen, then how can they practice Buddhism?

Today the yidam of empowerment Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche bestowed was the Vajrasattva. The Vajrasattva is the Adi-Buddha’s Sambhogakaya, or Reward Body. He is beneficial to Bodhisattvas. So if your thoughts and actions are not like those of a Bodhisattva, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche will admonish you as a matter of course. The flowers, rice, lamp oil, and tormas used during this puja were all given as offerings by the guru. As long as you have made offerings to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in the past, you will be able to share in the merits whenever the guru makes a dedication. You were able to participate in such an auspicious puja yet acted as though you were on a tour group; indeed, as is written in the sutras: Every thought aroused by an ordinary person generates karma and vice. You should know that once you have received the empowerment, you will begin to practice from the fruition level of a Bodhisattva. Your thoughts and acts cannot be the same as those of ordinary people; if you break the precepts and continue to do evil even after you have received the empowerment, then the blessings you had been granted during the empowerment will disappear. Today Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche bestowed upon you the Vajrasattva Empowerment because practitioners of Vajrayana Buddhism must practice this yidam; if you do not, it will be difficult for you to extricate yourselves from life and death in this lifetime, and in future lifetimes you will return in the wake of your karma. After receiving the empowerment you must practice sincerely in accordance with the Dharma; importantly, you must make a vow and make a firm resolution. In the future if your causal conditions mature, and you possess the necessary prerequisites, the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center will organize a retreat as well.

Before receiving the empowerment you all must first calm your minds. If you cannot accept or do not like this, you are welcome to leave immediately. The guru bestowing the empowerment must first have achieved attainment in practicing the yidam through retreat, become attuned to the yidam, and obtained permission from his or her guru to bestow it. In order to bestow the Vajrasattva Empowerment, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche arrived early at the Buddhist Center this morning to perform the preliminary Dharma. Prior to bestowing an empowerment a practitioner must perform preliminary practices to give himself or herself empowerment, and under the blessings of the yidam and the lineage gurus, to first increase his or her energy and accumulate good fortune. Thus, the empowerment will not be bestowed upon you until the afternoon. In your view these steps are merely ritual, but from a Tibetan tantric standpoint a practitioner bestows upon everyone his or her merits, good fortune, and energy at the time of empowerment. If the practitioner does not have enough good fortune, then the strength of the blessings bestowed during the empowerment will likewise be insufficient, and will not be very beneficial for you. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche helped that disciple who had lost her voice simply by blessing the water inside her cup and having her drink it. Immediately afterward she regained her voice. The guru did not even need to blow on the water; his blessing mantras were enough. This was because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche bestowed good fortune upon her so that she could recover rapidly. A practitioner must possess sufficient merits, good fortune, and energy to be able to bestow empowerment with a pure body, speech, and mind upon everyone.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then bestowed the Vajrasattva Empowerment, and continued to bestow auspicious Dharma teachings upon the attendees.

You all can see that within the Buddhist shrine at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center there is a statue of Vajrasattva with a bell in the left hand, a vajra in the right, and with blue hair. The Dharma texts mention that you should see the guru who is bestowing an empowerment upon you as no different from the yidam, and even see the people sitting around you in the Buddhist Center as yidams. From today after you receive the empowerment until you attain Buddhahood, you must never stop seeing Vajrasattva as your yidam. That is, prior to attaining Buddhahood, you must constantly practice with Vajrasattva as your yidam. Vajrayana practitioners are not limited to only being able to practice one yidam; based on their causes and conditions, they can practice many yidams. However, because you are receiving the Vajrasattva Empowerment today, you must practice with Vajrasattva as your yidam.

After you have received the empowerment, you must no longer criticize or swear at people, because once you begin chanting mantras your words will become more powerful; swearing at someone would have a much greater negative impact. Those practicing must aspire to a Bodhi mind in order to receive this Dharma. Giving an in-depth description of the Bodhi mind would take a long time. In brief, the purpose of today’s empowerment is not to make your lives a bit better, nor is it so that you can become more powerful in your Buddhist practice. Rather, receiving the empowerment will allow you to achieve attainment more quickly so that you can benefit yourself by becoming liberated from life and death, then go on to benefit all sentient beings by helping them be liberated from life and death until they attain Buddhahood. Aspiring to a Bodhi mind does not mean you absolutely have to carry out any actions or see sentient beings obtaining benefits; rather, you must wholeheartedly devote your every thought to the wellbeing of sentient beings. For example, while the 10,000 offerings were being made at the Long Life Puja in India this time around, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche visualized a dedication of the puja’s merits to all sentient beings and people who had made offerings to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in the past.

According to what is recorded in the sutras, during the empowerment one should avoid many incorrect attitudes such as haughtiness, doubt, having your own ideas, not wanting to practice Buddhism anymore after the empowerment, being outwardly reckless, adducting the five roots, not listening to the Dharma at all, having no reaction to the Dharma, and so on. These are all diseases that might afflict you while listening to the Dharma, and such ailments include moving around during the puja, worrying over your appearance by doing things such as stroking your hair coquettishly; sitting on a higher seat, as if you were better than other people; not implementing the Dharma you have been taught in your daily lives, but rather continuing to muddle through full of greed, hatred, and ignorance in your heart; not approaching Buddhism with an aspiring mind, thinking that the guru has to teach you whatever you want to learn—this is haughtiness and arrogance, and you should know that in Buddhism you will not receive that for which you do not implore; having your six roots loose in the outer world—in other words, while the guru is bestowing the empowerment upon you, you are still thinking of unrelated matters, your mind completely elsewhere; having a lax mind, becoming drowsy, napping; or thinking that the Dharma the guru is transmitting to you is difficult to put into practice, and that you just want to learn something easier.

We should not shy away from practicing a certain Dharma just because we think it is more difficult. The Dharma is neither especially hard nor especially easy, nor can it be categorized as great or small. Everything depends on your determination and your causes and conditions. Some people think reciting the Amitabha or practicing the Pure Land Sect are relatively easy, and others think they will improve themselves more if they practice what they see as a more difficult Dharma method such as Zen. No Dharma is better than another. If a certain puja is called a Great Puja, this is simply because organizing it requires hard work and contributions from a great many people, and it can benefit a lot of sentient beings. The hindrances to practicing Buddhism described above should be discarded; this is a dignified bearing common to all of the Three Vehicles (Mahayana, Theravada, and Vajrayana).

If one listens to the Dharma in order to change how one conducts oneself or handles one’s affairs in the hopes that he or she will not have any enemies after practicing Buddhism, this, too, is an incorrect attitude. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is bestowing an empowerment upon you so that you can accumulate good fortune and eliminate the hindrances to your practice of Buddhism. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche made a point of teaching the ordained disciples that “eliminating karmic hindrances” does not mean getting rid of karmic retribution; it means eliminating karma that prevents us from practicing Buddhism. Hindrances are the cumulative result of our karma from past lives; even fame and gain are hindrances, too. If we can change ourselves, then once our minds are clear of evil thoughts and we respect the Three Jewels, the dignified bearing will appear naturally; this is not done deliberately. If one’s mind can respect the Three Jewels, it can also respect all sentient beings, and the hindrances to practicing Buddhism will naturally disappear. Do not think that after receiving the empowerment you are of a higher level than someone who has not yet done so. If this is how you think, you are being arrogant. In fact, after receiving the empowerment you are not higher than other sentient beings, but rather lower, because you must exercise forbearance. Believers who have not taken refuge must think clearly and they must not covet the Dharma.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche conducted the Vajrasattva Empowerment ritual, leading everyone in a recitation of a prayer to implore for empowerment, and the sequential empowerment of a mature body, speech, and mind, and to pray for the gurus’ blessings, for only with the blessings of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and the lineage gurus can this Dharma be practiced. Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche bestowed the empowerments of body, speech, and mind, as well as his teachings.

Upon receiving the body empowerment, in the future you will have an opportunity to practice the dual operations of compassion and emptiness, purifying your body of all defilement and bad habits from past lives, and fulfilling the causal condition of becoming the Nirmanakaya. Prior to receiving the body empowerment, we practice as ordinary people; thus, our practice does not have much effect. Our bodies are karmic bodies, filled with defilement and bad habits. Karma can also be the accumulation of good deeds; the empowerment will allow you to eliminate your habits, help you reveal your pure self-nature, and reduce the hindrances to practicing Buddhism. You must not mistakenly think that after receiving the empowerment, you yourself are the Nirmanakaya; rather, it is written in the Dharma texts that after the empowerment, one will fulfill and obtain the causal condition of becoming the Nirmanakaya in the future.

Next was the speech empowerment. Prayer beads in hand, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche taught the disciples about uncommon visualization and conducted the speech empowerment. Upon receiving the speech empowerment, in the future you will have an opportunity to practice the dual operations of interdependence and emptiness, purifying your speech of all defilement and habits, and attain the condition for the Sambhogakaya. After you receive the speech empowerment, you should no longer use animal-related words to curse others. After receiving the speech empowerment your speech will be purified of all defiled habits from the past, causing your mantra chanting to be effective. The power of your chanting will increase , so you must no longer utter foul language or criticize people. If you continue such behavior, your karmic retribution will be more severe than that of someone who has not received the empowerment. You must think before you speak, and not simply blurt things out; claiming you did not mean what you said is no excuse. Everyone has thoughts, and you would not say something if you had not thought it first. So you should consider carefully before opening your mouths. Each word that escapes your lips will create energy in the void. This is the reason the Buddha wants you all to speak more words of praise and positivity. When you praise your guru, this energy will also go into the void. This is not like typing words on a computer, where you can simply use backspace to delete any mistakes you might make. Some people say things like, “They were just words; I didn’t mean them.” Actually, however, if you did not have that thought in your mind in the first place, you would never have given voice to it. Never mind the fact that you are humans; even a computer must first receive a signal from the keyboard before a letter will appear.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche taught that after receiving the empowerments of body, speech, and mind, you must practice according to the Dharma. You absolutely must not think that this is something you can achieve all by yourselves, or that you can do so alone and simply use the guru to transmit the Dharma. Even if you manage to achieve a little bit of attainment, this comes not from your chanting, but rather from praying for the guru’s blessings. Never mind yourselves; even someone who has attained a fruition level as high as a Tenth Ground Bodhisattva must still implore the guru. The transmission of today’s Dharma is only possible because of blessings from past generations of gurus, the gurus in this lifetime, and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; you should be grateful for the guru’s Dharma transmissions. The Dharma texts say one should view the guru as the yidam; he or she might have the outward appearance of an ordinary person, but his or her mind is not at all ordinary. The guru’s mind is no different from that of the yidam; the guru’s mind is that of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. If you think the guru is the yidam, you will be blessed by the yidam; if you think the guru is an ordinary person, you will get an ordinary person’s blessings.

Nirmanakaya liberates ordinary people, Sambhogakaya liberates Bodhisattvas, and gurus transmit the Dharma while representing Dharmakaya and past generations of gurus. If you think you can master the Dharma all by yourself after the guru transmits it, this is an arrogant attitude and you will never achieve attainment! Last time while everyone was reading The Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows we asked why it was that Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha achieved attainment. Disciples answered that it was due to the Buddha’s majestic, miraculous power. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went on to say that only by virtue the Buddha’s majestic, miraculous power would Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha appear in countless emanations to benefit sentient beings. Even after attaining Buddhahood, Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha still needed the blessings from the Buddha’s majestic, miraculous power. How can you be so arrogant as to assume that you do not need to implore for your guru’s blessings in order to realize attainment? If it were not for the Buddha’s majestic, miraculous power and the blessings of the gurus, the Dharma would not have been passed down through time to the present day. Without this, practitioners would not be able to achieve attainment! You must not be haughty and arrogant and think that it is you who are practicing.

After you start to recite mantras, you must not eat onions, garlic, or chives. If you are served a dish with one of these ingredients in it because you did not make it clear that you cannot eat them, either do not eat it or pick them out. Do not scold the people who gave you the food; they did not know, of course. However, while in retreat you absolutely must not eat these things.

Upon receiving the mind empowerment, in the future you will have an opportunity to practice the dual operations of clarity and emptiness, purifying your mind of all defilement and habits from past lives, and attain the condition for the Dharmakaya. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche stressed that the visualizations taught during the mind empowerment are Tantras, and so you must not record them in any way. After receiving the empowerments you must wholeheartedly rid your body, speech and mind of all evil, do your best to do good, and vow to accept the teachings of the Dharma and to give of your own wealth and your virtuous root as offerings to the yidam and the guru. A practitioner such as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche makes offerings to the guru of his personal wealth, virtuous root, and merits; doing this to such a degree is beyond your abilities. Although the prayers make mention of offering all of one’s wealth, good fortune, and virtuous root, afterward there is a line that reads, “I pray I may keep a part for my own use,” because the yidam is compassionate, and still leaves some so that you can use it at your discretion. Each time after performing a retreat, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche reports to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang and makes an offering of all of the merits he has accumulated during the retreat. You might be thinking, “A retreat is really tough; if I make an offering of all my merits, then what will I have left for myself?” You should know that all our good fortune is very superficial; after making an offering of them to the guru, he will then offer them to his guru, and they will mix together with the great sea of merits from generations of lineage gurus so that you can share in these vast and extensive merits. These are the teachings of the great practitioners of the past, transmitted down through generation after generation. In ancient times do you think people had to make offerings to their gurus as well? Actually, in ancient times those who practiced Tantrism all brought gold with them when imploring the Dharma. Giving offerings also teaches us that we must have a mind of renunciation and break our attachments; it doesn’t mean we actually have to offer material things. The worth of an offering does not lie in its monetary value, but rather in our hearts. Do not misunderstand and think that the guru wants your merits; Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche does not need your merits, but this is how it is written in the Dharma texts, so this is what the guru teaches. He must repeat it so that you know.

On this trip to India to participate in the Long Life Puja, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche made an offering to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang of a Shakyamuni bowl made of lapis lazuli. When Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche reported to the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang that he had taken eight years to prepare the bowl, the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang was rather surprised. He had not expected that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would spend so much time on such a thing; practically no one had that much patience. After finding and gathering the precious stone, it took eight years for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to prepare for all of the causes and conditions to be mature. It was ready just in time to present perfectly and completely during the Long Life Puja. If one does not possess enough good fortune, then even if one wants to make an offering of something, that thing will not appear. So you should not think that you can make an offering simply by wishing to; if you do not have sufficient good fortune, it is completely impossible.

Obtaining the empowerments of body, speech, and mind can bless us by eliminating the hindrance of illnesses. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was cured of cancer without the help of medicine because the guru practices the Vajrasattva. The Vajrasattva can bless us by ridding us of our demons, increasing our wealth and reputation, and help us to attain Buddhahood more rapidly. However, it is only useful if we listen to the guru and act according to his teachings. There is no way to learn Tantra without first having obtained the Vajrasattva blessings. If, after obtaining a perfect Vajrasattva Empowerment, you do not keep your promises, utter malicious words, or think other people’s money belongs to you, you will be punished twice as hard. You must uphold everything taught by the yidam. Originally there were going to be mandala-offering and meditation rituals, but today there was not enough time, so there was no need.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche stated that the yidam’s torma represents Vajrasattva’s body, speech, mind, and palace. Next the guru led the disciples in a recitation of the Vajrasattva Mantra, personally holding the yidam’s torma, and instructed the 1200 disciples to approach the mandala one at a time to receive the blessing. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said that today’s believers attending the puja were just forming affinities, and did not need to come up to the mandala. While receiving the blessing, the disciples did not need to touch the yidam’s torma; it was enough to give a bow. Extremely grateful to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for tirelessly bestowing auspicious blessings upon them, the disciples lined up to approach the mandala and reverently bow in front of the guru before returning to their seats. The entire time, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continuously rang the bell and chanted the yidam’s mantra. It took thirty-five minutes from start to finish.

At the perfect completion of the puja, the attendees expressed in unison their gratitude to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having compassionately bestowed the empowerment and the precious Dharma teachings. They stood and put their palms together in reverent homage as His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne.

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Updated on June 10, 2013