His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – April 21, 2013

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presided over the general puja at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Taipei. Before the puja began, a disciple shared a story with all attendees of the omnipresence of His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate merits throughout the void as well as the far-reaching power of the guru’s blessings.

One morning, he saw on the news that a fault had been found in one of the protective measures at a certain reservoir which could potentially affect the reservoir itself and the safety of more than one hundred thousand nearby residents. The next morning, in an effort to find a solution, the work unit in charge and the local residents invited the disciple to attend their meeting in the capacity of a geological expert.

After the briefing at that day’s meeting, the place flew into an uproar and the atmosphere became tense. Everyone was still jittery as the meeting was drawing to a close, and suddenly the disciple felt as if his heart were tied in knots. It was a feeling of extreme agony. He sensed the residents’ fear; they were hesitating, unsure of what they should decide or whom they could trust. It was a feeling of helplessness. Not only that: They were frustrated from not understanding much of what was being said and not knowing what to say.

So he asked to speak. Addressing the residents, he said, “The authorities in charge have always been very conservative when it comes to how they design dams. Although these kinds of safety measures never used to exist in dams, nothing dangerous ever happened. Water reservoirs these days have more safety measures; however, just because a defect appeared in one of them, it doesn’t mean the safety of the entire dam is then at risk. Here’s an analogy: it’s like how back in our parents’ or grandparents’ generation, whenever it rained they’d cover up with raincoats woven from rushes and broad-brimmed bamboo hats. Nowadays we have more money, so we can throw on a pair of rain boots and carry an umbrella. And now we suddenly discover a tiny hole in our umbrella, so we get all afraid and think we’re going to get wet, come down with pneumonia, and die. But panicking like that would be unwarranted!”

By the time he had finished they had all stopped raising their hands; everyone was smiling with relief. The residents, who for days had been so worried that they could neither sleep nor eat in comfort, had finally settled down.

At first the disciple was very surprised at the change in local residents’ mood; he could not understand how his words could elicit such a drastic transformation. He had spoken directly of the facts he had originally not dared to voice, and to his astonishment the crowd had believed him and felt reassured. When he pondered this, unbidden, the hairs on the back of his neck stood on end. He felt extremely grateful and full of praise for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s great compassion, awe-inspiring power, and blessings, as well as their omnipresence throughout the void. Without these unfathomable blessings, the disciple could never have sensed the panic and hopelessness plaguing the residents, nor could the simple hope have risen within him to alleviate their suffering by saying those words. He believed that this had completely been the result of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate blessings and great vow to relieve the suffering of all sentient beings, enabling them to attain happiness; the words had immediately put the residents’ minds at ease and convinced them that the dam was indeed safe. He was extremely grateful for the auspiciously virtuous affinity Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had bestowed upon him, allowing him to unconsciously serve as an errand-runner.

Thereupon he again repented that his attitude toward Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had not been respectful or grateful enough and that his faith in the guru had also not been resolute enough. When Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had manifested his great power to benefit sentient beings, the disciple had not sensed it right away or been grateful and full of praise for the guru’s merits. Instead, he had wondered, “why did that happen?” In addition, this incident made him reflect deeply on what Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has taught us again and again; namely, that our every action should be done with immediacy and diligence. If assiduousness had been applied every step of the way in building the dam, then that day the residents would not have panicked—there would have been no trouble for any sentient beings in the first place. Even more important is one of the teachings of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche: “A practitioner must not destroy the Dharma out of a desire for fame or personal gain.” This holds just as true for professionals; one absolutely must not play to the gallery or speak carelessly for fame and personal gain. If one does so, one can cause affliction and fear among countless sentient beings and create evil karma without realizing it. The disciple vowed that from now on he would heed the teachings of Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche even more closely, watch his own attitude, and be cautious in both words and deeds.

After that another disciple, accompanied by her husband and two children (all of whom were also disciples), stood to share with all the attendees her story of how His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had helped her 88-year-old maternal grandfather, and repented for the evil acts she had committed and the evil karma she had created in the past.

This disciple recounted that two weeks previously, on the eve of the Pure Brightness Festival, their family had been getting preparing to make the trip from Taipei south to Kaohsiung. No sooner did they get onto the freeway than they encountered a massive traffic jam. They had left home at 7:00 in the morning, but by the time they reached central Taiwan it was already past noon. She realized that if this bad traffic continued it would be close to dinner time before they got to Kaohsiung, so she called her mother to tell her that they would not be coming. But then her mother informed her that her grandfather had been admitted to the hospital. This made the disciple feel extremely anxious. Considering the fact that an 88-year-old man like her grandfather would certainly be feeling very afraid at having been admitted to hospital, she immediately called her grandfather. Hearing his weak-sounding voice over the phone filled her with sorrow, so she told him that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was constantly teaching from the Dharma throne that even when someone succumbed to a severe illness and became bed-ridden or passed away, his children and grandchildren around him could not help him through illness or death no matter how filial they were. In a very firm voice, she told her grandfather that only His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche could help him now. However, because her grandfather had never participated in a puja before, and had done no more than glance at the Dharma photo of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in the guru’s auspicious work, Happiness and Suffering, he had only heard her tell one or two stories about how the guru had helped his disciples and their family members so selflessly and about the guru’s great power to assist sentient beings in their transcendence from reincarnation. Earlier, when her grandfather had fallen down and gotten injured, she had bought a most miraculous Bao Yuan Ointment and had it rubbed on his wound. He had suffered frequent bouts of insomnia, so she had gotten the most high-end, natural, non-toxic hindrance-removing incense and Magic Bull-Horn incense to help him sleep. Under these causal conditions, even though her grandfather did not have the good fortune to personally seek an audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, still she kept telling her grandfather over the phone that he must visualize the guru bestowing blessings upon his head. The marvelous thing was that though they had spent six hours getting from Taipei to Changhua, as soon as they changed their minds and decided to continue south to Kaohsiung, the traffic opened up, becoming abnormally clear. It only took them about two hours to drive from Changhua to Kaohsiung.

As they were approaching the hospital, she learned from a phone call with her aunt that her grandfather had been unable to sleep from Wednesday, when he checked into the hospital, until noon the next day due to anxiety over the nature of his injury, which had not been determined yet. She also learned that right after she talked to her grandfather on the phone, he had fallen into a deep peaceful sleep. Her aunt thanked her, but the disciple disavowed, saying it had been because of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings. Later, after arriving at the hospital, she asked her grandfather how his injury was. Her grandfather told her directly about his experience of having visualized the guru’s blessings and then falling into a peaceful slumber afterward, and knowing that someone was helping him. She told her grandfather repeatedly that he must have faith in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

While her grandfather was in hospital, her mother and aunts were planning to transfer him to a major hospital. This was because he had not gone to hospital due to illness, but because the endoscopy he had undergone had caused hemorrhaging in his stomach, causing him to cough up blood. She recalled what His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said from the Dharma throne: The more treatment one receives in a hospital, the more one suffers. At once she urged her family not to make her grandfather change hospitals, because doing so would cause him to have to undergo yet another round of tests which would just make him suffer even more. During this time there was another religious group wanting to provide assistance for her grandfather, but he remained staunchly committed in his faith in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

She was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for always providing sentient beings with things of the highest quality. The reason her grandfather had faith in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche this time was precisely due to the wonderful causal origination that had arisen as a result of the miraculous Bao Yuan Ointment and the natural, non-toxic Tibetan incense. After using them, her grandfather had felt certain that these were indeed high-quality goods that were enormously beneficial to him. As a result, he had developed an incomparably deep-seated confidence in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. While her grandfather was in hospital, the disciple rubbed the Bao Yuan Ointment onto his lips to moisten them and keep them from cracking. As many a Dharma brother has related, Bao Yuan Ointment has many uses and has benefited countless sentient beings. When they left Kaohsiung, she and her husband both spontaneously visualized His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche blessing her grandfather upon his head.

Last Saturday, after returning to Taipei, a Dharma brother reminded her to let her grandfather drink nectar water. She was surprised she had not thought of that herself. When she told her mother, her mother went home and got the nectar water from last year’s Grand Puja, and brought it with her to Kaohsiung. Because her mother was concerned the nectar water might be out of date, not to mention the fact that she was afraid to have her father drink too much lest it cause more stomach hemorrhaging, she only dabbed a few drops of the nectar water onto his lips. But he insisted on drinking it. That was on a Sunday; he was released from hospital the next day, on Monday. On the same day he was released he was able to ride a bicycle around the neighborhood close to home. By Wednesday, when the disciple called to ask how her grandfather was doing, her mother told her that he was already eating and drinking normally again. An 88-year-old old man could never have recovered so quickly—it had taken less than a week—without His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s great blessings, as well as the faith the grandfather had had in the guru. She was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and the sentient beings who had caused her grandfather’s illness, as well as for his stay in hospital which had allowed her previously skeptical mother to come to appreciate the great power and the blessings of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

She also wanted to use this opportunity to make a public repentance. She repented that ever since she was little she had eaten the flesh of many sentient beings to satisfy her taste cravings, ranging from those that fly in the air to those that walk on land, to those that swim in the sea; she had eaten them all. As a child, to amuse herself she had even caught earthworms and frogs, tied beetles’ feet together with string so that they flew this way and that in terror, and had caught a baby bird that had fallen from the roof and force-fed it until it died. She had put salt on leeches to make them shrivel up and die in agony; she had swatted at flies and mosquitos, and killed ants, cockroaches, spiders, and so on. She had harmed countless sentient beings. She had cheated on her exams, and had even been disobedient toward her parents—in a temper tantrum, she had splashed mung bean soup on them. She had been an ingrate. At work, she had stolen stationery from her company and taken them home with her; she had also made private phone calls on her company’s bill. She had wasted her company’s time by speaking ill of her co-workers behind their backs. In order to turn a profit, she had even sold illegal goods. When speaking to people, she had ignored and hurt their feelings to make herself feel better, all the while making excuses such as, “I’m just a straightforward type of person who speaks her mind, that’s all; I do not mean to harm others.” But as His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has said, if she had truly meant no harm, then why would she say such things? Obviously, she had to repent for the many evil intentions she had. When she got married she had provided over a hundred and fifty banquet tables with meat dishes at the reception. At the time she had been proud of how impressive her banquet was; thinking back on it now, she really had made so many sentient beings suffer in exchange for her own happiness. She repented that she should descend into hell for that. After taking refuge, she had not shown the Three Jewels their due respect, for it had been almost a year later before she finally set up a mandala in her home. While imploring for a Dharma photo of Dharma Protector Achi, she had thought only of her stomach; she had not considered the tireless efforts the guru and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas had made to liberate sentient beings. Once she had arrived at the Buddhist Center, it was past time to register; ignoring the advice of her Dharma brothers, however, her greed had made her insist on registering anyway. This had put the Dharma brothers at the Buddhist Center in a difficult situation. Just as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has said, Protector Achi is very remarkable, for whenever disciples are doing evil she will catch them in the act! Before having the Dharma photo of Achi consecrated by the guru, she had hurried to get it laminated. In February she participated in the puja in India. During the banquet, when the Indian tour guide had given out an extra necktie to a younger Dharma brother, she had become greedy and had not insisted on returning it. She even had ignored Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s statement during dinner that the Sino Travel group was a “No Shopping Group.” On the last day of the pilgrimage, she had actually indulged; when the situation arose, she had completely let loose and had gone ahead and signed the shopping consent form. She had not listened to the guru at all. She was grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and Protector Achi for exposing all of her evil deeds and thoughts, and for giving her an opportunity to mend her ways.

Shamefully, she said that for a family member of such an evil disciple as herself to be given blessings and assistance by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had truly made her feel extremely guilty and not know how to reciprocate. All she could do was to use her karmic body to repay the debts accumulated in this life and past lives which she owed to all the sentient beings she had harmed, make offerings to the guru with the purest body, speech, and mind she could muster, and listen obediently. She would act according to the guru’s teachings without exception, and remind herself every day that she must be prudent in both words and deeds. She was grateful to all sentient beings for allowing her the opportunity to knuckle down and practice Buddhism. She must constantly take a good look at herself and remind herself of these things, amending all of her evil thoughts and acts and closely following in the steps of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and never again indulge herself.

Finally, she prayed that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang would have good health, keep turning the Dharma wheel, and maintain an eternal presence in the world, and that the Drikung Kagyu Lineage would flourish forever and that its flag would flutter across the four oceans, benefiting countless sentient beings.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne and personally presided over the general puja, bestowing precious Dharma teachings upon all the attendees.

This week Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche originally intended  to teach everyone some tantric theory in order to lay a foundation for your future learning of Tantra. However, upon seeing that everyone is still so selfish and self-serving, ninety-five percent of you are not fit for learning Tantra, nor are you qualified to listen to it. Presently, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed the people in the Buddhist Center who were performing full prostrations to return to their seats. You still haven’t changed no matter how many times you perform full prostrations, so stop doing them right now.

Yesterday a male disciple who had taken refuge for more than one year brought his wife and child to seek an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. His wife said that while taking a shower, their son had seen a white shadow floating over. Thinking he had seen a ghost, he had been very frightened. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche admonished the child on the spot: “Your mom’s been scolding you for more than ten years, yet you’re not afraid of her; how, then, can you be scared of a white shadow floating across the room?” On top of that, this male disciple had taken refuge for more than a year; he had already set up a mandala in his home and had enshrined a photograph of the Dharma Protector Achi, yet still he had brought his wife and child here to talk nonsense! Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had stated during your refuge ceremony that after taking refuge, as long as you do not break the Refuge Precepts, nothing non-human can harm you. So, if someone is still afraid even after practicing Buddhism and taking refuge, it means this person is not prepared to cultivate compassion. Never mind cultivating compassion; this person has not even done the necessary preparation for cultivating compassion.

This disciple had listened to more than a year’s worth of Dharma; though his wife and child had not taken refuge, he still should have found a suitable opportunity to sit down and explain proper Buddhist concepts to them. Although we cannot influence all our family members to come and practice Buddhism, and whether or not they do so is up to their own causal conditions and freedom, the least we can do is prevent them from having misconceptions. This male disciple had not just recently taken refuge, either; it had been more than a year, so he should already have explained proper Buddhist concepts to his family members. Yet here he was yesterday, bringing his wife and son forward to implore for counsel. This indicated that he was still following evil!

Afraid of a flashing shadow! Was the shadow a ghost?! Even if it was, well, there are shadows everywhere; what, are they all ghosts? He’s seen a ghost! The guru has taught you before that unless sentient beings from the Ghost Realms are grateful to you or have a grievance against you, they will not come looking for you. Or if you are a practitioner; if a ghost knows it can obtain assistance here, it will come knocking. As a Buddhist, even if you saw a ghost there would be nothing to fear; if the ghost wanted to do you harm, you should be able to accept that everything is the result of cause and effect, and it is never too soon to repent! As for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, he is very happy whenever he sees a ghost, because he can then help it.

This male disciple’s son typically was unafraid of his parents no matter how much they might scold him; he continued to be disobedient as always. But no sooner did he catch sight of a white shadow than he became so afraid. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked an ordained disciple to tell everyone what she had said to the family yesterday when the guru had asked her to help enlighten them, when she had berated them for quite some time. The ordained disciple said that she had told them that the reason they had thought their son had seen a ghost was because they had no faith in the guru. Moreover, it was possible that the male disciple’s son was living too easy a life and had too much time on video games, and that he had played until his vision went blurry and he started seeing things. The reason he had been scared was he had been subconsciously fearful of the lobsters he served to customers in the restaurant during the daytime. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked if the son was in school or working. The ordained disciple reported that his son was currently a student at a vocational school majoring in foodservice.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche pointed out that this ordained disciple had taken refuge for many years, and would never scold anyone; however, upon seeing this family, she could not help but criticizing them for a long time. The male disciple himself had already been learning Buddhism and was a vegetarian, yet he had allowed his son to study foodservice. How could he call himself a Buddhist disciple? Had he been too afraid of his wife or his son to speak up? Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked this male disciple if he always allowed his wife to be the boss at home. The male disciple shook his head. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche next asked him if he allowed his son to be the boss at home. The male disciple shook his head again. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went on to ask the disciple, if neither his wife nor his son was in charge, then why, as head of the house, did he not dare to speak his mind?

So, why is Tantra not being taught today? If you were to learn Tantra, yet had not acted according to the guru’s teachings, then your karmic retribution would be quite severe. Master Gampopa taught, “It is possible that there are instances our beliefs and our faith would disappear like clouds and smoke. Hence, at that special moment, if we possess ‘humility and a sense of shame,’ it will provide us many ways and methods so as to make us not to stray from the Right Dharma. By way of this ‘humility and a sense of shame,’ we are even more likely to be able to restore our beliefs and our faith. Thus, this ‘humility and a sense of shame’ is indeed particularly important.”

Everyone is selfish and self-serving. They all say they have faith, but every one of them lacks humility and a sense of shame. They think that as long as they believe, they will be protected; however, their behavior is nothing like that of a Buddhist disciple. There are also those disciples who have taken refuge for more than a year, yet who still are lax enough to allow their family members to do evil deeds; they think they will be protected as long as they practice to the Dharma Protector every day, and that they are filial just because they chant Bodhisattva Avolokiteshvara’s holy name. Why do you keep making mistake after mistake and continuously give rise to evil thoughts? It is exactly because you have no shame or humility. If you had humility and a sense of shame, how could you continue to make mistakes? Knowing that you made mistakes, you should make haste to amend them; how dare you keep making more? A person who doesn’t even have humility and a sense of shame will naturally not believe in cause and effect. That person would dare to do anything!

In Taiwan, most restaurants serve meat dishes. After a foodservice industry major graduates, he or she will either become a chef or a waiter or waitress; either profession involves the act of killing. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has taught about the karma of killing many times; the karmic retribution that results from using the flesh of sentient beings to make money is clearly recorded in the sutras. The guru has also told you how dreadful collective karma can be, yet you refuse to believeit. Many waiters and waitresses working in restaurants these days are foodservice students; this actually has made it possible for restaurants to find people who will work for relatively low wages, and from the schools’ point of view, that provides the students an opportunity to gain some experience in the foodservice industry.

Perhaps this disciple had thought that since his son enjoyed the subject, he might as well let him go and study it; after all, once he graduated he wouldn’t necessarily get a job in the foodservice industry, so he could just wait and see. But the son was young, and therefore did not understand; a father’s duty is to explain things to him. Before a child turns eighteen, his or her parents absolutely have the right to have a say in what he or she does, and they absolutely have the right to put a stop to anything he or she might be doing wrong. That the male disciple, who had taken refuge for more than a year, saw his own son committing evil acts yet had done nothing to prevent them meant that he still did not believe in the Dharma or in cause and effect. He had never actually practiced Buddhism; he had only sought blessings and protection. It was apparent that he was not qualified to learn Tantra. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche talks and talks, but if you don’t even believe in the Dharma, there is no point to the guru continuing so he might as well stop.

You simply do not believe how formidable the Dharma Protectors are. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has told you that this year Dharma Protector Achi will root out these people who have such incorrect attitudes. This male disciple thought that he would be fine as long as he simply listened and did as he was told; whenever his attitude was incorrect, however, then for some mysterious reason Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would know about it. The male disciple did not have humility or a sense of shame, so Protector Achi had called him out; without humility or a sense of shame, even someone with beliefs and faith can still make mistakes. If he had had faith and been respectful toward the Three Jewels, he would have trusted in the guru completely, listened, and changed his ways. In Exoteric Buddhism, Dharma masters will teach you Buddhist theories without caring whether you amend your ways or not. Why is the guru especially important in Tibetan Buddhism? It is because the guru will target your problems and will not let you get away with them in order to help you change all your behavior that leads to reincarnation.

Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche severely admonished this male disciple’s team leader; the male disciple had taken refuge for more than a year and his son was studying foodservice, so how could his team leader not care or know anything about the situation? This particular team was always having so many problems! The disciple who was the team leader was enjoying a good life now: stable employment, a healthy wife, children who were beginning to be obedient, and a happy household. Did he really think that it was enough for him just to have a good life, and not have to care about how the others on the team were doing? Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performed the Amitayus for everyone so that this past week or so, those of you with illnesses or aches and pains could be feeling better and getting to sleep a bit easier. After helping you save some money,  it turns out all you know how to do is to enjoy some peaceful days and a happy household; you care nothing about the suffering of other sentient beings. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche lamented that his karmic hindrances must indeed be profoundly severe for him to have such disciples.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche called forward another disciple who was also a team leader for this team and sternly berated the two team leader disciples. How could their selfish, self-serving acts be called behavior worthy of a Buddhist disciple? Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed then and there that these two team leaders and their family members were not allowed to learn Tantra. One of the team leaders did not have any children, so had not thought to be sensitive to the situations of the team members’ children; this perhaps was pardonable. However, the other team leader had children himself. He knew very well everything that was going on with his kids, and spoke up and gave every issue its due attention. Still, he had never been concerned with what sort of professions the children of his team members might be engaged in. Congregation members in some other religions are very familiar with one another, and care about one another ; this is not because they want to learn everything about other members, but because they want to know how they can help one another. You call yourselves Buddhist disciples, yet you cannot even get that bit right. You simply are indifferent to the extreme!

They might defend themselves by saying that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had never told them to go and be concerned over what sort of work their team members’ children did, so they hadn’t cared. However, the reason Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has each team dine together monthly is to make the Dharma brothers care about one another. It was also so that the team leaders could use the opportunity to get to know their team members and the troubles they might be encountering in their lives and in their Buddhist practice, and when appropriate, to provide assistance and advice. However, these team leaders had thought that all they had to do was organize which dishes would be served at the monthly get-togethers; their attitude had been that of a soldier taking orders, and they had not taken the time to care about the Dharma brothers on their team. You are so selfish; you won’t do anything unless Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche tells you to. On the contrary, if the guru has not told you to do something, you don’t dare to do it. The guru has never seen any of you disciples take the initiative to do something. These two team leaders certainly never imagined that it would be their turn to be admonished today; they thought they had been obedient and done as they were told and that as long as they did not make any mistakes they would be fine. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche allowed them to be team leaders to give them an opportunity to care about other people, but they were still so selfish and self-serving!

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has taught you before that if you are not diligent in your practice of Buddhism, or do not truly want to learn Buddhism, Dharma Protector Achi will call you out. It might not happen if you haven’t yet set up a mandala in your home; however, after setting up a mandala, the minute you do something inappropriate, Dharma Protector Achi will see you and expose you. For example, the other day Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went to the Dazhi store where he happened to catch a female disciple who was working as a salesclerk openly violating the company’s regulations by cooking food for customers right there in the shop. What happened was quite interesting; every time Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went to that shop, his vehicle tended to draw a lot of attention due to the unique sound its engine made. That day, however, the guru had driven his vehicle to the store, spotted an open parking space nearby, parked in it, and walked to the shop. Thus, when the guru had entered the shop he had done so without making a sound. As soon as he walked in, he saw three people eating away happily. The company’s regulations clearly stated that employees were not to cook food in the shop, yet this female disciple, who was a clerk there, had deliberately broken that rule. She had thought she could get away with it, so in an effort to make friends, she had openly cooked noodles right there in the store for another female disciple and her boyfriend to taste.

The three of them had been together in the shop, one cooking and two eating, chatting, laughing and eating away. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had walked in right in the middle of their little party, yet they were so engrossed in it that they did not even notice. This was the fifth time the female disciple working as a salesclerk there had cooked food for customers in the shop. If it had been the first time, it could have been excused; perhaps she could say she had forgotten the company’s regulations. But doing it a second time made it deliberate and a third time even more so; beyond that it was nothing less than unscrupulous behavior. She had broken the company’s rules time after time, completely ungrateful for how Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had cared for her; after being caught out, she had argued that the things she had cooked were just samples for customers to taste so that they might buy more if they liked them. However, she had cooked food in the shop five times, yet these two “customers” had still not bought a thing. Was she planning on cooking fifty times for them to taste?

The company’s regulations were very clear, yet this female disciple had broken them on several occasions. After being caught out, she had still tried to defend her actions! Why does the guru not want your explanations? Because giving an explanation indicates that you are not owning up to the fact that what you did was wrong. After that, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche declared that neither this female disciple nor her sister would be allowed to learn Tantra. The guru instructed a male disciple who was well-versed in legal matters to tell everyone what crime this female disciple had committed with this sort of behavior. The male disciple reported that this female disciple’s behavior had involved embezzlement from the business and a breach of trust. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went on to say that perhaps the reason this disciple had violated the company’s regulations, by taking things that belonged to her boss and giving them to customers to eat, was that in her mind the boss had plenty of money anyway, so cooking a few things for the customer should not matter. Moreover, she had not cooked for strangers; that customer had been her Dharma brother’s boyfriend. Cooking a few things for them to eat should not be a big deal, and they would not tell anyone else about it.

You only believe Dharma Protector Achi will help you; you do not believe that Dharma Protector Achi will help Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. The guru is always imploring the Dharma protectors to make him able to do a good job teaching disciples who truly want to practice Buddhism and be liberated from life and death. Therefore, if your attitude in practicing Buddhism is incorrect, Dharma Protector Achi will expose you one by one. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche mentioned before that a chain of events will happen this year, exposing your actions that are not worthy of a Buddhist one after another. Don’t say you don’t believe it, and you should not think that no one will find out about the wayward acts you commit in private. When we take refuge in the Buddha, everything the Buddha teaches us is taught so that we can learn to repent. Only with humility and a sense of shame can we have faith; would a person with a sense of shame continue to make blunder after blunder? Such a person would certainly know to listen to the teachings of the guru and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, to refrain from evil and do good deeds, and would not allow himself or herself to continue to make mistakes. Don’t think your actions and thoughts will not be found out; you should know, we all have hundreds of peaceful and wrathful deities within us—that is, our bodies are the mandalas of the Dharma protectors and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. A person without a sense of shame will make the same mistakes again and again. Buddhism helps you keep from making mistakes; how could the guru and the Dharma protectors not know about every single thing you do? If you have not been caught out yet, that just means your time is not quite ripe, that’s all!

If you do not wish to practice anymore or do not wish to endure the guru’s admonishments any longer, then by all means, you are welcome to leave. Today Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche scolded these disciples for wrongdoings which in Exoteric Buddhism might be considered minor transgressions not worth worrying over, or which do not require public disclosure. The Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, however, is where His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang personally instructed Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to propagate the Right Dharma of the Drikung Kagyu Order. This so-called “Right Dharma” means guiding sentient beings in accordance with the teachings of the Buddha so that they can be liberated from life and death, and furthermore, teaching them how to attain Buddhahood. The “Right Dharma” does not mean all your actions and thoughts must be correct; rather, the point is to guide sentient beings onto the right path—the path of Buddhist practice—and learning to be liberated from life and death. When it comes to making mistakes, no transgression is minor; people who think making mistakes is no big deal do not believe in cause and effect, nor do they understand the seriousness of such matters. Only when you have humility and a sense of shame can you closely inspect your body, speech, and mind; once you understand that what you are doing could harm sentient beings, you then stop committing that evil act. Therein lies the greatness of Buddhism: it can change people and make them stop committing evil. Therefore, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would never mislead you by flattering you with sweet-talk, because there is not even enough time to help you put a stop to your evil ways. While learning Exoteric Buddhism perhaps you used to receive telephone calls asking you to return to the temple, such as: “The master misses you; it’s been so long since we last saw you. When will you have some free time to come and let the master see you?” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has never done anything like that, nor has he ever looked for you.

Master Gampopa taught, “If you do not have a ‘sense of shame,’ then at times when our beliefs and our faith are weakened, not only might we commit ‘wrongful acts’ that are out of keeping with the Right Dharma, but we could even commit acts easily and without thinking, such as murdering our parents and so on, that are considered by society to be outrageously immoral.” If you have no humility or sense of shame, you will naturally be disrespectful toward the Three Jewels, and you will not have faith, either. The female disciple who worked as a shop clerk stole from the boss in order to make friends. Looking at this,, it did not represent any benefit a person can obtain; as Master Gampopa taught, a person who has begun doing  wrongful acts is likely to take a step further and commit truly outrageous acts. Why is it said in Buddhism that you should not underestimate a small act of kindness, or think that a minor evil deed is unimportant? In this situation, the seeds of evil have already been planted. When you do not put a stop to that evil, the seed will begin to sprout. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has stated many times that you should not think that something is a minor evil act and therefore is no big deal; all “big” evil acts are accumulations of “small” evil acts. If the guru had not pointed that out today and had not taken action to correct her, then who’s to say she wouldn’t become an outright thief in the future? Everything starts small. It is rare that something big happens around you; practically everything that happens is “minor.” You might think the things Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche berates you for are small matters as well, but big matters all start from small matters—the former would not exist without the latter.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked a male disciple, “How long has the Dazhi store been around?” The male disciple answered, “Five years at least.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then stated that even though the Dazhi store had likely been around longer than five years, we should go by the disciple’s count: In all these years the guru had been to the Dazhi store many times, yet not once had he found an empty parking space there. And this one time there happened to be a spot right there, allowing him to park and walk into the store where he immediately discovered this female disciple’s erroneous behavior—you can see how formidable Dharma Protector Achi is! When Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche walked into the store, they had already eaten a course. The two people were holding their bowls in their hands, eating happily, and the disciple in charge of the store was still cooking more food in a pot; this meant they were planning on continuing their revelry. In order to curry favor with the other disciple’s friend, the female disciple employed at the store had stolen the store’s food and cooked it for them to eat. The disciple who had brought her friend ate the free food with relish; she was being an absolute freeloader. She’s been kicked out already. Dharma Protector Achi was truly so very compassionate in having revealed this whole incident, because upon seeing a practitioner who was practicing according to the Dharma, the Dharma Protector could not bear to allow the guru’s things to keep going missing. On the other hand, it was also because after taking refuge you will not fall into the Three Evil Realms; upon seeing a disciple commit such an evil act, the Dharma Protector could not stand by and watch her descend into hell, so had allowed what she was doing to be exposed.

If we do not have a strong sense of shame with regard to our actions, our faith becomes weakened and we begin to doubt everything. A person whose faith has begun to falter and who does not have humility or a sense of shame is unable even to realize that his or her faith has weakened. All of you have insufficient faith; yours is only superficial, and when you say you believe, your words are empty. In fact, at the slightest sign of trouble, when certain situations arise, your faith is quick to falter, weaken, and dissipate, like disappearing smoke and scattered clouds in the words of Master Gampopa. Faith is very important, but because yours is not strong enough, faith by itself is not enough. At the same time you must cultivate humility and a sense of shame; while practicing Buddhism you must possess these two attitudes in order to continue to progress. They are extremely important.

Some people, after chanting for a long time and asking the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to help them yet not seeing any results, begin to mutter—not out loud, but certainly to themselves—wondering, “How come nothing is working?” Such thoughts represent the arousal of an unfaithful attitude, and are slander to the Buddha. Faith means believing firmly in cause and effect, and that the methods taught by the Buddha can help us be liberated from reincarnation until we attain Buddhahood. It means having certainty that with the blessings and guidance of the guru and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas we will without a doubt be able to achieve attainment in the future. What you call “faith,” however, merely involves believing that the guru and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will help you by curing you of disease and changing your situation for the better. But this is not true faith. If you just blindly believe the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will help you, and that you do not need to practice the Dharma or do anything, then your so-called “faith” is nothing more than superstition. On the surface you are a Buddhist, but inside you are not. You seek answers everywhere but within yourself; you are not practicing Buddhism in order to be liberated from life and death. This is what Master Gampopa meant by “wrongful acts that are out of keeping with the Right Dharma.”

Yesterday while Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was receiving believers at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, a friend of a female disciple stood to the side with his arms crossed in an extremely disrespectful manner. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche stated that the female disciple, a Buddhist practitioner, actually befriended such a person who neither believed in nor respected the Three Jewels; since the disciple’s friend looked down on the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, he might as well not enter the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center at all. There were a dozen or so disciples volunteering at the Buddhist Center who had gone so far as to let just anyone enter the Buddhist Center; all these volunteers had been too busy chatting away to even notice his disrespectfulness, let alone ask him to leave. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked an ordained disciple what the consequence of being disrespectful toward the Three Jewels was. The ordained disciple answered, “Descending into the Uninterrupted Hell.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then stated that standing there with his arms crossed in front of his chest like that had been evocative of an extremely disrespectful manner. He came to the Buddhist Center showing such disrespect in front of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, yet you did not go over and advise him how to act or ask him to leave; as such, you were harming him by allowing him to be slanderous toward the Buddha and create a cause that could send him to hell.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked a male disciple whose entire family used to be Catholic what, as far as he knew, would Catholics do if someone were to stand in a Catholic church with arms crossed like that. The disciple answered that a member of the congregation would ask him to leave. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche admonished sharply that yesterday, despite all those volunteers outside and all the disciples present inside the Center, not one of them had approached that person. This person was being completely disrespectful inside the Buddhist Center, yet you actually were indifferent to it; you pretended not to see, and did nothing at all to uphold the dignity of the Dharma! Each of you just carries around your greedy thoughts, thinking you’ll get good fortune out of coming to volunteer at the Buddhist Center! That this female disciple’s friend could behave like this meant he had no respect for the guru in whom his friend had taken refuge, and the female disciple had actually neglected to advise him how to act. If your friend does not believe, then do not force him to come; otherwise you could harm him by arousing evil thoughts in him and causing him to suffer grave karmic retribution.

That this female disciple’s friend could have such an attitude certainly meant that she did not usually put effort into praising the merits of the guru when with her friend. Followers of other religions are bold enough to speak in public about their faith; only Buddhists do not dare mention publicly that they are Buddhists. Even if the disciples who were volunteering wished to be nice and not offend anyone, the least they could do when they saw a person being disrespectful in the Buddhist Center would have been to tell him so or ask him to leave. But as it turned out, no one did so much as lift a finger! If these volunteers wanted to be such nice people, then they would have been better off not volunteering, the lot of them! Next time if anyone else is disrespectful and these volunteer disciples do not ask him or her to leave, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche will kick every single volunteer disciple out.

If one does not possess humility and a sense of shame, one cannot uphold the Right Dharma; just like these volunteer disciples, they always act without thinking or feel that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has not instructed them to do something, then it’s not their business. All these disciples, yet not one of them will take the initiative; they all wait for the guru to scold them before they jump up and do something. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has mentioned to you before that there were once some Mormons who went to a Buddhist temple and started singing a song that was slanderous to the Buddha. At the time Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was by himself, but that did not stop him from immediately approaching them and asking them to leave. No matter what, the guru could not allow them to be so disrespectful toward the Three Jewels. And you? Are you afraid of being beaten or being scolded? Every one of you dares not to offend people. Why is Buddhism in decline? It is exactly because of people like you!

Yunga Rinpoche, the no longer living master practitioner of the Drikung Kagyu Order, once stated that Tantra in this world can only be handed down another seven hundred years, and after that it will be gone. Looking at the present situation, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche feels that this could be true. Buddhism relies on people who respect the Three Jewels and aspire to learn it, to pass it down; if even Buddhists do not uphold the dignity of the Dharma, then how can it continue to be passed down? These days if someone were to act disrespectfully inside a mosque, he or she would certainly be beaten immediately. Do you think that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas cannot speak and are therefore relatively easy to bully? Yesterday there were all these volunteers and disciples at the Buddhist Center, yet not one of them was truly capable; they all waited for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to see to things and take care of everything personally. Then the guru admonished the general director for not fulfilling his duty; in other places there are personnel specifically in charge of upholding the place’s dignity, so why hasn’t the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center made similar arrangements? On the surface such actions might appear to be targeted at maintaining the majesty and dignity of Buddhism; in fact, however, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are extremely compassionate and cannot stand watching sentient beings plant the seeds of evil.

This female disciple brought her friend to the Buddhist Center but allowed him to be disrespectful. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did not ask her to leave her friend; that is something between her and her male friend and is none of the guru’s business. This female disciple had taken refuge for many years. In the past Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche hoped that she would learn Buddhism diligently, but she did not listen. She thought she would only come back to participate in the pujas when she had enough time on her hands, and that this would be enough for her to be protected and blessed. But even in other religions you at least have to abide by the Ten Commandments before an angel will come to deliver you; she had not done anything, so she had nothing. Seeing her like this, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche felt a deep sadness in his heart.

You are all very strange and self-contradictory, especially you female believers. You know full well that you are practicing Buddhism and eating vegetarian, yet you go around looking for a partner who eats meat and is not a Buddhist. If your partner does not believe in the Buddha, is not a vegetarian, and does not even endorse your faith, then why would you continue to have anything to do with him? You have no principles at all! For a follower of another religion, if her fiancée is not willing to give up pork even though her religious doctrine stipulates that eating pork is forbidden, there is no way she would marry him. Why are you disciples afraid to explain your faith clearly to your partners? Is learning Buddhism something to be ashamed of? Why are you afraid to speak of it? You do not have the slightest shred of the dignified manner that a Buddhist should have. “Dignified manner” does not mean you should make other people be afraid of you; it means you have truly changed and made people sense your dignified manner, thus allowing them to realize what makes a Buddhist unique. In this way they will naturally come to respect the Three Jewels, and only then can you help them accumulate good fortune and plant the seeds of causal conditions for them to practice Buddhism in the future.

Master Gampopa taught, “Know that with an evil act like this, even if we only commit it once, we will be spurned by the masses and become the target of public criticism. Or, we will altogether lose our sense of shame and become people with no conscience. As a result, all our future prospects, both mundane and supramundane, will vanish like ashes on the wind and disappearing smoke.” If you do not have faith and a sense of shame, then even if you only commit a single evil act you will be shunned by sentient beings, because a person who is practicing Buddhism but does not spare the slightest thought for benefitting sentient beings will harm them for his or her own personal gain. After enough time passes, such a person will naturally become accustomed to committing evil acts, and in this way all of his or her future prospects, both mundane and supramundane, will be destroyed. Just as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has taught you before, once you have cultivated supramundane Dharma, you will not have a problem cultivating mundane Dharma, either. However, if you do not aspire to have faith, humility, and a sense of shame after learning Buddhism, you cannot be liberated from life and death and go on to attain Buddhahood and benefit sentient beings!

Master Gampopa taught that when it comes to committing an evil act, even if one only commits it once, one will be looked down on by others. Some people believe in their sense of honor and know that they should not do certain things. Don’t think that practicing Buddhism seems to put so many restrictions on you that you can’t do anything. In fact, after accepting its teachings, Buddhism allows you to form a deep belief in cause and effect, and makes you stop doing things that you never should have done in the first place. Your favorite thing to do is to threaten people, and say that if they do certain things they’ll get scolded by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Little do you know that everyone has different causes and conditions, and you have no way of predicting whether the guru will scold them for doing those things or not. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche employs all sorts of methods you cannot imagine to help you; even scolding you is done for your own good. People who are afraid of being admonished are the worst and most evil; all they do is continue to explain their actions. If you do something wrong, there is nothing to explain; it’s all because you do not have a sense of shame.

Why did Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche perform the Amitayus for you? After attending the Amitayus Empowerment at last week’s puja, and after going home, some of you who previously were suffering from physical aches and pains have come back this week feeling quite a bit better, that the symptoms of your ailments have lessened, and that you are able to sleep more easily. Do you know why this is? It’s because the guru gave of himself to you entirely and saved you a ton of money. You saw the guru holding a five-color flag and continuously waving it from his own body outward as he bestowed blessings upon everyone. That was the guru taking everything that was his—including his longevity, good fortune, and the merits he had cultivated—and giving them to you. You might say you didn’t see anything, so how are you to know that the guru really was giving everything of himself to you? If the guru had not actually done this, then how could you have accumulated enough good fortune to feel physically better, immediately after receiving the empowerment? There were so many of you, so Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had to first make preparations to strengthen himself before he could bestow the empowerment upon you. Last week, when the guru was bestowing the Amitayus Empowerment upon you, he taught that having evil thoughts will shorten your lifespan, and speaking evil will shorten it even more; if you go so far as to commit evil acts, your lifespan will again be shortened. If you continue to hold aversions and hateful thoughts toward others, or think that others have done you wrong, these things will shorten your longevity as well, and your physical conditions will worsen, thus you will not be able to accept the Dharma, let alone act according to the guru’s teachings!

People’s lifespans are constantly being shortened because of the evil acts they commit. Perhaps you have the experience of hearing a fortune-teller say that a certain person will live to the age of ninety, but then that person dies at the age of fifty. Why? Because that person committed evil acts, thus shortening his or her lifespan. After receiving the Amitayus Empowerment, you absolutely must refrain from committing any evil acts, and you must rid yourselves of all evil thoughts and speech. Don’t labor under the misapprehension that only killing can shorten your lifespan; any evil deed, thought, or word can decrease your longevity. As you commit evil, your longevity decreases accordingly; whether you lose a year, a month, a day, an hour, a minute, or a second all depends on the degree of evil involved. In any case, your longevity will certainly be shortened.

A lot of you still think that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performed the Amitayus for you so that you can live longer. Although it made you all feel more comfortable and able to sleep better, only a handful of disciples were truly able to reap the benefit of the empowerment, because the rest of you do not have a strong faith, repentant attitude, or sense of shame. Just like this disciple who allowed his son to study foodservice and commit evil acts; during the period after he had taken refuge, he had heard Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche teach about the seriousness of karma from killing, yet he had not listened at all. He might argue that he had not been the one doing the killing. This disciple had been greedy; he thought that since his son’s grades in school were not good, allowing him to major in foodservice would at least give him the chance to go to university. He thought that he could talk to him about it later; after all, he might not continue in the foodservice industry after he graduated. However, he forgot that the collective evil karma would still have an effect. With his body, speech, and mind he had allowed his own son’s longevity to be shortened; his thoughts, his words, and his actions had completed this evil karma. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche admonished: “There is no need for this sort of person to come to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to learn Buddhism anymore!”

Many people give explanations for why they made a mistake. But if they knew what they did was wrong, then they should accept the consequences; only someone with such an attitude can do the right things again. Everyone is pure by nature; wrongdoings are the result of greed. When greed, hatred, and ignorance arise, you will do something wrong. Many of you are just like him; when he first started making mistakes, he kept saying it was because he was at an impasse and had no choice but to commit the evil acts. At the same time he was always trying to think of ways to cover them up, but this resulted in a vicious cycle. In the end he said he had no choice and he might abandon all hope by committing suicide! This is because while he was committing his earliest offenses, no one stopped him, and he himself had not had humility or a sense of shame. In the end it became too much for him to handle. Actually, how can you possibly have no choice but to abandon all hope? Rather, allowing yourself to commit evil will truly lead you to a dead end, because the only place to go from there is straight down into hell!

You’re all shortening your lifespans, not lengthening them the way Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is. Why do the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas allow the guru to extend his longevity?  It is so that the guru can help the Order accomplish many things and benefit even more sentient beings. It’s not what you think; you hope to live a few extra years so that you can see your sons get married and have children, watch your grandchildren get married, and so on. You implore everything out of selfish motivation. For example, many a person implores Bodhisattva Avolokiteshvara to allow her husband to live a few years longer because when he is gone the family will have lost the person it primarily relies on. She might implore the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to give him a few more years so that he can watch his son graduate. But then once their son has graduated, she asks for more time so that he can see his son find a job; after that, it’s to watch him get married, then have grandchildren, and so on and so on, forever imploring for yet another thing. This won’t work no matter how much you implore; no one will pay any attention to you! Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche does not worry about his son anymore; whether or not he wants to have a child is completely his own family’s business. The reason Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche extends his lifespan is so that he can serve His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang and the Drikung Kagyu Order.

Having humility and a sense of shame does not mean feeling sorry; rather, when your faith is wavering, it means being able to immediately realize your wrongdoings and feel ashamed so that the next time you will not make the same mistake. Take those disciples at the Buddhist Center, for example: when they saw that person exhibiting such disrespectful behavior at the Buddhist Center, why did no one put a stop to it? It was because they did not have humility and a sense of shame; they were just afraid of offending the man and feeling sorry for it. Furthermore, feeling annoyed with someone, jealous of others, or even hateful toward someone all comes from not having humility and a sense of shame. The same is true of not accepting karmic retribution.

The female disciple mentioned a little while ago who had cooked food for her customers—it was not just that she had broken the same rule five times in a row; she frequently committed other wrongdoings as well, and this, too, was because she had no humility or sense of shame. She had already developed a long-term habit of committing transgressions; she had grown used to deceiving her boss, the guru, and her sisters. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche always tells children, “If you do something wrong at home, your parents will forgive you. But if you make mistakes out in society, other people will not forgive you.” Nowadays, however, a lot of parents indulge their children at home, letting them do whatever they please; nor do they bother to teach or discipline them when they do something wrong. They are exactly like the male disciple mentioned a little while ago who allowed his kid to major in foodservice. If a child grows accustomed to being indulged by his or her parents at home, then upon entering society he or she will really be in big trouble. When parents these days see their children head out into the world and end up being unhappy, in an effort to eliminate their children’s hardship, they ask them to move back home and be supported by their parents. But this will cause the children even more hardship in the future.

As for the female disciple mentioned just now who had made mistakes over a long period of time, if she continued like this she would form a chronic habit of having evil thoughts. This disciple’s behavior put her into the same category as that for which Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had always reprimanded those who commit the same mistakes over and over again. Why did she do it? Because she had no humility or sense of shame. Such a person will continually make mistakes, and if this continues in the long term, he or she will pass the point of no return by making serious mistakes. But even when she makes serious mistakes, she still will justify her actions, saying, “I can’t help it; this is just the way I am!”, and completely without shame. Many of you think like this. People with this kind of attitude have no humility or sense of shame.

Even when the female disciple who was so frequently making mistakes was discovered for breaking the company’s rules, she still made excuses for herself. This sort of behavior is nothing less than not being willing to admit when one is in the wrong. Would a person who truly admits to his or her wrongdoing still make excuses? If so, it means that person has not accepted that what he or she did was wrong and is not willing to face the consequences. Only someone who is willing to face up to the mistake and accept the consequences is truly willing to change. Being ashamed does not mean being ashamed to see people. Some people talk about being ashamed to face or see others, but really this, too, means they do not have any real sense of shame; they just want to avoid the consequences, that’s all. A person who truly has humility and a sense of shame and is willing to change will have the courage to face anything. Do you now know why you have not been able to achieve attainment? By now you pretty much know what Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche often says: people who are afraid of being scolded by the guru harbor the most evil. This is because being afraid of getting scolded means you are not admitting that you were in the wrong, and that you are not at all prepared to change yourself.

To practice Buddhism one’s faith must be strong and one must constantly have humility and a sense of shame. If you only have a strong faith, but do not have humility or a sense of shame, then you will use your strong faith as a tool for harming others. Someone who truly is humble and has a sense of shame will avoid doing anything that could harm sentient beings. Before we do or say anything or even give rise to a thought, we should first consider: If we do this, will it bring harm to others?

Master Gampopa taught, “From this perspective, relying on ‘faith’ alone is far from sufficient. Therefore, at the same time we must also have ‘shame.’ This is absolutely crucial. A king, because he possesses a sense of shame, would never deign to do what a butcher does – things that are degrading, involving killing. Know that this analogy is based on the same principle.”

Just as a king would not be a butcher, neither would any person who has humility and a sense of shame go and do anything that would harm sentient beings. “Not deigning to do something” does not mean looking down on it, nor does ” degrading” mean the butcher of the analogy is mean and low. The “king” here is a metaphor for a person who genuinely possesses humility and a sense of shame, and is not willing to think, say, or do anything that would harm any sentient beings for the purpose of personal gain. Harming sentient beings is not limited to killing; if your behavior, words, or thoughts generate evil toward sentient beings, it counts as harming them.

Master Gampopa taught, “If we possess both ‘faith’ and ‘shame,’ and can blend them together in harmony so that they complement each other, then everything we do in both practice and daily lives will further us along the path to the Right Dharma. By the same token, based on a foundation of a strong faith and only cultivating the Right Dharma, in addition, we are fearful of others’ disdain toward us because of our ‘sense of shame,’ then upon encountering the fork in the road—the mental choice—of ‘Which shall I do? Benefit myself or someone else?’, then by worrying about other people’s disdain we will naturally be careful how we proceed when it comes to temporary and short-sighted actions. As a result, we will be able to accomplish everything that brings benefits and happiness to ourselves and others.

“Which shall I do? Benefit myself or someone else?” For example, you might ask, “Which job should I choose? Whom should I marry? What should I decide?” You base all of your choices on your consideration of how best to serve your own interests. Why would others be disdainful toward you? Because your actions have never been of any help to the people around you; all you have ever done is harm them or take advantage of them. After doing this once or twice, people don’t want to have anything to do with you any more, because the only thing they get whenever they are with you is hurt. Over time they begin to develop a feeling of disdain toward you, and they might even despise you. Most folks have a higher standard for people practicing Buddhism; Buddhists are different from ordinary people in both their thinking and their behavior. If you tell others you are a Buddhist, but you don’t act like one, then they might look at you with disdain; in which case your offenses are even more serious. Do you still dare to claim you are a Buddhist then? Therefore a person with firm beliefs as well as humility and a sense of shame will naturally be careful in everything he or she does; he or she will be worried about being disdained by others, and will eventually accomplish everything that brings benefits and happiness to himself or herself as well as others.

His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang once said Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had a very meticulous mind, because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is very careful in everything he does. But he is not this way because he cares about appearances; rather, he does not want to make any mistakes by harming any sentient beings. Without humility and a sense of shame, such meticulousness is impossible; a person with such qualities will naturally be very meticulous and careful so as not to make any mistakes.

Master Gampopa taught, “As for putting into actual practice both ‘faith’ and ‘shame’ at the same time, we again should take a closer look: just what sort of merit has arisen in the continuum of our minds? On the basis of genuinely cultivating both ‘faith’ and ‘shame’ simultaneously, if we continue to see all worldly illusions as real phenomena, and within the continuum of our minds we still cling to everything—including suffering and happiness, self and others, money and treasures, family members, and so on—as incontrovertible truths, then we are no different from ordinary, secular people who do not practice the Right Dharma.”

Within the continuum of our minds, the merit that arises is compassion. The fundament of practicing Buddhism is to cultivate compassion, then to cultivate a Bodhi mind so that you can benefit all sentient beings. There is a way to quite easily determine whether or not you are truly practicing Buddhism. If you still see worldly illusions as real phenomena—for example, the “appearances” of such things as your family, wealth, and so on—and grasping them tightly, unwilling to let go of them, then you are not a true Buddhist. That is not to say that after you begin practicing Buddhism you must no longer work, have a family, make money, or that you must get rid of all your possessions; you still need to work, you still may have a family, but you need to understand that these are all based on the Law of Cause and Condition, and you do not need to be stubbornly attached to them.

You are not being asked to go and never change anything; rather, you should take things as they come and follow your casual conditions, live by adapting to each rising condition, and keep calm despite what happens in the environment. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche does not ask those of you practicing Buddhism here to sacrifice your jobs, your families, or your happiness. The guru only asks that you change yourselves and amend all behavior, thoughts, and words that cause you to reincarnate. Yet, you continue to refuse to listen; how, then, can you possibly learn, or achieve attainment? You are already practicing Buddhism; if your minds abandon the path of following the Right Dharma, and you remain attached to things which have nothing to do with your being liberated from life and death, then you are prone to commit acts which can harm sentient beings. Even now there are many parents who still cannot stop worrying over their children’s affairs. That male disciple who allowed his son to major in foodservice is attached to his own son. And as for this female disciple who cooked noodles in the store, the continuum of her mind was not focused on the Dharma, so she might think that if worse comes to worst she could just quit her job, or stop practicing Buddhism. Practicing Buddhism does not at all make it so that there are a lot of things you either cannot do or do not dare to do. Some things are harmful to sentient beings, and we should not do those things in the first place. Practicing Buddhism allows us to eliminate all opportunities to harm sentient beings and commit evil acts, as well as to change all thoughts, words, and deeds which make us reincarnate.

The disciple who shared her story a little while ago told how Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had helped her grandfather through his illness—it never occurred to her that the guru helped her grandfather in order to create causes and conditions that would make her family begin to believe in Buddhism. In this way they would be able to make offerings and accumulate good fortune so that they would have an opportunity to practice Buddhism in the future. Many disciples, however, are the same as she is; they only come out to express their gratitude to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having helped them. That’s the only sort of thing they say, but they do nothing when it comes to the part that happens next. This indicates that they do not truly want to practice Buddhism; all they want is to implore for protection and blessings. This sort of attitude is mere superstition, not actual faith. They see Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche as a shaman, but the guru will not go into a divination trance for you. You should not regard practicing Buddhism as superstition.

Back when Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was diagnosed with skin cancer, the guru ignored it; he accepted it, not allowing himself to become attached to it, and forgot its existence. Instead the guru continued to implement Buddhism in his daily life. This went on until one day the guru discovered that the cancer cells had disappeared, and only then did he remember the cancer. You, on the other hand, spend a lot of time and energy worrying over your bodies; the minute you get cancer you think you’re going to die. Every day you focus on examining your bodies, wondering if the tumors have gotten any bigger, if there has been any change, if they are still the same color or not. You waste a lot of time on that. Everyone dies; it’s not just cancer that can do you in. Some people die after having a cold for a week. Some people suffer heart attacks, and pass away within minutes. Every time you walk out the door, you could get killed in an automobile accident. Statistically speaking, in fact, more people die from car accidents than from cancer. So why aren’t you afraid to get in a car every day? By your reasoning, riding in an automobile could also result in your death; does this not then become something to be afraid of? Why not just stop riding in cars altogether? It’s not like you’re driving the cars yourselves; you’re riding in other people’s cars. In this way aren’t you then putting your lives in other people’s hands? Even if you yourself were to drive, someone else could still crash into you! So, why aren’t you too afraid to ride in cars? If you get cancer, you won’t die right away; you might continue to live for many more months, or even ten years or more. Still, as soon as you hear you’ve gotten cancer you get extremely anxious, as if the world were about to end.

Do not misunderstand; Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is not telling you that you should not go and see a doctor if you’re sick. On the contrary, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said next that he is only relating his own experiences to you. Instead of nervously going to the doctor, the guru practices Buddhism diligently. Your level of determination to practice Buddhism is different from that of the guru; Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is able to achieve attainment because he completely and profoundly believes in cause and effect and acts according to his guru’s teachings without exception. Given that you are not able to achieve these things, there is no way you could recover naturally from cancer the way Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did. There are not many people in this world who truly believe in the Dharma. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was cured of cancer without seeing a doctor or undergoing treatment; if you think you will be able to recover from your own illnesses without seeing a doctor, then later when your hopes have not been realized, you will think evil thoughts against the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and this will be bad for you.

All day long you rack your brains over matters such as, “Where should I work?” or, “Whom should I marry?” or, “Out of these two, which should I choose?” When choosing a husband, you women only think about whether he has a good job or what sort of future prospects he has. And when you’re not thinking about his career, you’re wondering what he can give you, whether he is considerate of you or not, or if he’ll be at your beck and call. Actually, none of these is most important, because the current situation can always change. Furthermore, what you think is good at the moment won’t necessarily be what you think is good in the future. If someone were to ask this question of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the guru would not help by making the choice for him or her, nor would the guru say which is better or worse. The guru would simply help analyze the personalities of the two prospective spouses so that the person could make up his or her own mind. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s analyses are always very accurate, but the strange thing is that in the end you always choose to marry the person whose personality does not suit yours. Afterward you regret it, but then when you want to go back and find the one who got away, that person has already gotten married.

And when men are choosing a woman, they only think about things like, “Will she be able to help run my household?” or, “Is she pretty?” or, “Will people say she’s pretty when I take her out?” But then if she’s too beautiful, they are afraid that another man might steal her. Isn’t that a contradiction? All you think about is whether or not your partner can satisfy you or live up to your expectations, but have you ever thought about what you yourself can give your partner? Or how much can you give your partner, and to what degree? And what things are you unable to give your partner? No one ever thinks about things like that before they get married; they all start out thinking about themselves and hoping their partners can satisfy their desires. But no one ever stands in another person’s shoes and thinks about the situation from a different perspective.

Master Gampopa taught, “Based on the dual genuine practices of ‘faith’ and ‘shame,’ if everything we do does not originate from a motive to benefit sentient beings, then we will be practicing ‘Theravada,’ the ‘small vehicle Buddhism.’ Based on this cause, therefore, with regard to these dual genuine practices of ‘faith’ and ‘shame,’ we should aspire and make dedications to benefiting sentient beings. Know, then, that understanding this teaching and following it and putting it into actual practice is extremely important.”

Someone once sought audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and said he would definitely accomplish what is taught in the Dharma. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche stated that saying this sort of thing is prideful, haughty, and arrogant, and would make that person unable to cultivate compassion, so there was absolutely no need for his practicing Buddhism. You might think this strange; why, if he said he could do it, would he not be allowed to come? To give an example, let’s say a first grader swears to his teacher on the very first day of school that in the future he will definitely obtain a PhD. What would the teacher say to that? The teacher would certainly say something like, “Let’s wait and see.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche stated that learning Buddhism must be done in a sequential order.

If you are not practicing Buddhism in order to benefit sentient beings, but rather are only concerned about you yourself being liberated from reincarnation, then you will be practicing Theravada. However, to practice Theravada you must become ordained. You do not have the root capacity for practicing Theravada Buddhism, yet you have a Theravada mindset. As such, no matter how hard you try you will not be able to learn. Take that ordained disciple Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche berated, for example; no matter what, she was unwilling to say the words she needed to say. Instead she continued being good at protecting herself; she did not have compassion, so was unwilling to say it. This is the attitude of one who practices Theravada. Even though she had taken refuge in a Vajrayana guru, and outwardly she appeared to be ordained, on the inside she had a Theravada mindset. It is the same even with seeking enlightenment; if you are practicing Buddhism in order to attain enlightenment for yourself, you have a Theravada mindset. Enlightenment and Buddhahood do not actually need to be sought after. As long as you are willing to put the work in, one step at a time, then once you have sufficient compassion, good fortune, merits, causes, and conditions, your Dharma nature will naturally be revealed and you will be enlightened. If you are seeking enlightenment in order to get something good out of it, you have the mindset of one who practices Theravada. If you hope to be enlightened and liberated from life and death and then attain Buddhahood in order to benefit sentient beings, you have the mindset of one who practices Mayahana Buddhism and follows the Bodhi Path. The difference between these two mindsets is very subtle.

To be a practitioner of Theravada one must be ordained and abandon all worldly things. In Sri Lanka, Burma, and Thailand, ordained practitioners do not cook; they do not even wear prayer beads, for they do not want afflictions to distract or annoy them. You are not able to do this; you do not have the root capacity for practicing Theravada. All day long you think about getting married, having children, and getting a job; how could you possibly practice Theravada? Even ordained practitioners these days are not very likely to be able to practice Theravada, because while living in Buddhist temples they still have to work. All they have is the outward appearance of an ordained practitioner. That is not to say there is anything wrong with Theravada Buddhism; simply that it is not suited to sentient beings living in the Age of Degenerate Dharma. Theravada Buddhists have to practice the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination, and after that they have to practice the Four Noble Truths. Moreover, they must visualize the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination one at a time. Sentient beings living in the Age of Degenerate Dharma are severely afflicted with vexations and bad habits; it would be practically impossible for them to achieve their goals. A while back there were some ordained Theravada practitioners who came to Taiwan to propagate their teachings, but all they did was form an affinity with you, nothing more.

This ordained disciple wanted to practice Mahayana Buddhism with a Theravada mindset. No matter how hard she practiced, she could not achieve attainment; Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism are different. Even she herself did not know why she was unable to do it. Outwardly, she said it was because she was afraid that if she said it she would break the precepts. However, if the guru has instructed you to say something, then that is not within the scope of breaking the precepts. How could the guru harm a disciple? She remained unwilling to say it even though the guru had instructed her to; she was not acting according to the guru’s teachings then. In fact, long ago Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had already seen and helped the person she did not want to name.

When we want to benefit sentient beings, if we hope that by benefitting them we might obtain a little benefit for ourselves, this is not an attitude of wanting nothing in return. The Dharma mentions “benefitting oneself and benefiting others,” but “benefiting oneself” here means helping oneself to be liberated from life and death, while “benefiting others” means helping sentient beings break their cycle of reincarnation. That we hope to attain Buddhahood does not mean we hope for these flash-and-blood bodies of ours to become the Buddha, but rather for our Dharma nature to be revealed to us. When you have sufficient merits and compassion, your Dharma nature will naturally become apparent. That, however, does not mean you will turn into a Buddha. Millennia ago, Shakyamuni Buddha predicted that the world’s last Buddha would be Maitreya Buddha; how then can there be a new manifestation of the Buddha? The Dharma texts mention that of practitioners who practice Tantra, those with a high root capacity can attain Buddhahood in this lifetime; those with a medium root capacity can attain Buddhahood the instant they pass away to the intermediate state; and those with a low root capacity can definitely attain Buddhahood at least sixteen lifetimes afterward. But these are for practitioners who practice Tantra; if you have not learned Tantra and have only practiced Exoteric Buddhism, then you cannot achieve this.

Making a vow signifies that the practitioner has already come to possess the ability to fulfill his or her vow. After making a vow, the practitioner will certainly fulfill it one day, but that does not mean it will happen in this lifetime or the next. Which lifetime it happens in is not important. Exoteric Buddhism teaches us that while making a vow, only so long as we make it in accordance with the vows made in the sutras by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will it be a Fundamental Vow. Only when you make a vow in accordance with the vows of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will they bless you, because your vow is the same as Theirs and you are planning on becoming a Bodhisattva like Them. In Vajrayana Buddhism you must make a vow in keeping with that which is orally transmitted and taught to you by the guru. You don’t just make one up all by yourself and vow whatever you want. There was an ordained practitioner who once said he wanted to make a million people become ordained. How is such a vow even possible? In one lifetime, no matter how one counts there is no way to ordain that many people; even in Shakyamuni Buddha’s era there were not a million ordained practitioners. How could he compare himself with Shakyamuni Buddha? To say such a thing there must have been something mentally wrong with him; this psychological problem had revealed his arrogance. Enlightenment can only be attained if one makes one’s vow in accordance with the original vows made by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, possesses humility and a sense of shame, and has faith.

Shakyamuni Buddha saw that sentient beings living in the Age of Degenerate Dharma would suffer from a relatively large amount of afflictions. This would not be suitable for practicing Theravada Buddhism, so later the Buddha transmitted Mahayana Buddhism. It teaches that we all must practice from the mind, expand our minds’ capacity, and integrate Buddhism into our daily lives. This way of practice is more suited to both ordained and lay practitioners living in the Age of Degenerate Dharma, because these days ordained practitioners are very busy, too; they also have to work at their temples. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche earnestly advised all the attendees that since they wanted to practice Buddhism, they must have faith in the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; they must stop having their own ideas. In order to achieve attainment they must listen to and obey the guru’s teachings, and practice one step at a time in the right order.

Upon perfect completion of the puja, all attendees stood and paid reverent homage as His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended from the Dharma throne. In unison they expressed their gratitude to the guru for having tirelessly bestowed upon them auspicious teachings that day.

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Updated on July 15, 2013