His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – May 1, 2013

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presided over the auspicious Drikung Kagyu Chod Puja at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Taipei.

Before the puja began, a disciple repented for having given His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche cause to admonish her sternly from the Dharma throne on New Year’s Day. She asked all her Dharma brothers to look clearly upon her face—a face that had been immensely unfilial and shown great disrespect for the guru—and asked everyone to take heed from her example. She was incomparably grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for allowing her this opportunity to express thanks and praise for the guru’s auspicious Dharma rituals and blessings that had helped her mother break away from suffering and not descend into the Three Evil Realms. If it had not been for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s great, awe-inspiring power, as well as the harsh criticism that he had delivered like the five thunders piercing her ears, the enormity of her mistake would certainly never have dawned upon her. Rather, she would still be unaware, and would not feel the least bit of shame or need to repent.

She took refuge with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche over a year ago, on September 11th, 2011. Every time the Chod Puja was held, she brought her mother along to participate with her; thus, her mother, too, had participated in more than a year’s worth of Chod Pujas. However, her mother had not gone completely vegetarian; other than abstaining for a few days or a week before each Chod Puja, her mother had continued to consume the flesh of sentient beings. She still remembered one time last year when, while taking her mother home after a Chod Puja, her mother suddenly said to her, “It should be okay to resume eating meat tonight, right?” She had immediately reminded her mother that it would certainly not be okay, and the incident had made her realize that helping her mother would be a project she would have to work on in this life. She thought about imploring His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to allow her to prostrate herself, repent to sentient beings, and repent to the guru on behalf of her mother; she had made His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche go to so much trouble and had wasted his merits and great powers, and for this she felt profoundly ashamed. But all she did was dream about it; she had taken no initiative to act, and thus had not been able to help her mother accumulate more good fortune, merits, causes, and conditions so that her mother could have time enough to continue participating in the auspicious pujas. She repented for having been truly and seriously unfilial; she had not really been a person, but rather something quite inferior even to animals. She informed her mother many times of the warning His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had given on a number of occasions from the Dharma throne: “If you continue to eat the flesh of sentient beings, then you may no longer come to participate in the puja.” After the conclusion of the Chod Puja held on January 31st of this year (2013), she again told her mother of the auspicious Dharma teachings His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had just bestowed from the Dharma throne, and again reminded her mother that anyone coming to participate in the pujas but who continues to eat meat will no longer be allowed entry to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center. Her mother had stared mutely at her with a perplexed look on her face. Her mother really was no longer able to enter the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center; the Chod Puja in which she had participated on January 31st was her last.

Her mother passed away in the hospital just after three o’clock in the afternoon on February 3rd of this year (2013). Besides some light symptoms of Parkinson’s disease, her mother had shown no signs of any other illness, yet she had passed away quite suddenly. According to the disciple’s younger sister, their mother had sat in the living room watching television for a little while after lunch. Before retiring to her bedroom to take a nap, she had gone to the bathroom to brush her teeth. While brushing she noticed her mouth was bleeding, so in a panic she had called out to the disciple’s sister. Presently their mother spat out a big mouthful of bloody saliva and fainted from weakness. While in the ambulance on the way to the emergency room her heart stopped. Nevertheless, the doctors and nurses in the emergency room applied first aid to the mother by way of an adrenaline injection and electric shock treatments. At the time the disciple was at the Buddhist Center participating in the Amitayus Puja presided over by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, so she was completely unaware of her mother’s incident, as well as the anxiety, worry, and fear that her siblings were going through.

Only after the puja, when she was reading her text messages on her phone, did she learn of her mother’s death. She immediately informed the Dharma brother who was her team leader, and she handed her an auspicious nectar pill that had been bestowed by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. That evening, while changing her mother’s clothing at the funeral parlor, she placed the precious nectar pill directly under her mother’s tongue to prevent her from falling into the Three Evil Realms and suffering there. Roughly nine hours later, her mother’s body was still soft, and she was grateful for His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious blessings. For some reason, however, perhaps because of the electric shock treatment her mother had received, a large amount of blood continued to ooze out of her mouth there in the funeral parlor. No matter what they did, they could not stop the bleeding. At the time she was not afraid; she was just a bit panicky, as she did not know how she would be able to tidy up her mother’s appearance. Blood was pouring out not only from her mother’s mouth, but from down below as well. She was beginning to worry that the auspicious nectar pill would be excreted along with the blood. While visualizing His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche bestowing blessings upon her mother’s head, she whispered softly to her mother that she did not need to worry or be afraid, and that she would definitely take her little brother to seek an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche so that they could implore the guru to bless and liberate their mother. A moment later the bleeding finally stopped.

Fortunately, the nectar pill had gotten stuck between her mother’s teeth. They quickly repositioned the nectar pill underneath her mother’s tongue, and afterward she and her little sister both clearly witnessed the auspiciousness and unfathomable power of the nectar pill: Within moments, their mother’s face turned from deathly pale to slightly flushed with a glossy texture. She was extremely grateful and full of praise for the great blessings bestowed by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and the nectar pill’s incredible power.

On February 9th, a day which just happened to be the last day of the lunar year, she was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for worrying enough over the suffering of sentient beings to still take the time even on Lunar New Year’s Eve, Hearthside Day, to receive believers, resolving all their worldly suffering and bestowing Dharma teachings and assistance upon them. After learning that they had come imploring for help and liberation for their mother, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche took one look at the disciple’s younger brother and asked him directly, “Why haven’t you participated in the pujas to help your mother?” Though the other siblings answered for him that due the busy nature of his work he had had to take many trips to the Mainland, she knew well in her heart that her little brother had been unable to go completely vegetarian.

She knew the reason His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had asked this was that he had a clear understanding of how her mother had thought. Her mother had participated in the Chod Puja for over a year and had been touched by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s awe-inspiring power, great compassionate aspiration, and the great and all-embracing power of his blessings. While still alive, her mother had told her that she hoped her little brother would have the cause and condition to come to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to practice Buddhism. It was just that her siblings had not been respectful enough toward Buddhism and the Three Jewels, so had not been able to help their mother accumulate even more resources of good fortune and merits to allow her to be reborn in the Pure Land. They had missed a golden opportunity to practice Buddhism as well. Because of this, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said to her, “It is apparent that you have not at all praised the guru’s merits from liberating sentient beings.”

She admitted that she had not reported honestly to the guru at the earliest time that her mother had continued to eat meat even after having participated in the Chod Puja for more than a year. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche learned of this while performing a Dharma from the Dharma throne to bless her mother, which led the guru to severely admonish the disciple on the last day of the lunar year, and again during the Ksitigarbha Puja held on Lunar New Year’s Day: “Your mother cannot go to the Pure Land; you have already broken the precepts, did you know that? You understand clearly that people who come to participate in the Chod Pujas must remain vegetarian for the rest of their lives, yet you broke the rule knowingly by letting your mother eat meat. Furthermore, you made excuses, saying your mother was not eating vegetarian because whenever she went to your siblings’ houses she did not stay with you. You knew full-well that your mother should be eating vegetarian; however, you indulged your mother by letting her eat meat. In the end this brought much suffering to your mother and much trouble to your guru, yet still you made excuses and tried to explain your behavior. If you believe you are right, then there is no need for you to come learn Buddhism from Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. You think practicing Buddhism is seeking protection and blessings so that you can have a better life. Only when you realize that you are suffering, however, do you understand how important the guru is. The people Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche dislikes the most are those who are unfilial.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued by saying, “Do not blame your parents.” She said His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was truly remarkable; the guru already had a clear understanding of events that had not yet happened and of evil thoughts that had not yet arisen in her mind. At first, on the one hand, she had felt sad for the suffering her mother had to endure. However, hidden deep within her heart was resentment against her mother. While bobbing up and down in the karmic sea of reincarnation, she still selfishly held onto her own thoughts and attachments, harboring a grudge against her mother. She did not have an ounce of gratitude in her; unwittingly, she had already fallen into the suffering sea of hell. She was grateful to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for waking her up. With the benefits and wellbeing of the disciples in mind, the guru presided over the Ksitigarbha Puja on New Year’s Day. During it, he led the disciples in a recitation of The Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, delving deep to explain each of the sutra’s passages in detail in the hope that the sutra could give the disciples a profound belief in cause and effect and help them to understand clearly that every thought aroused generates karma and vice. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had once stated on the CD of Repentance: “Any thought we give rise to will be released by our brain waves; nothing is unknown.” She was grateful to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Were it not for the guru’s awe-inspiring, all-embracing powers and his great blessings, then given the heavy evil karma she had accumulated, her obstinateness, reluctance to be tamed, and her unsettled nature, how could she possibly recite this venerable sutra on behalf of all sentient beings in the Dharma Realm?

Having taken refuge in His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for more than a year, she always thought she had been very respectful toward the guru, very obedient, and that she had followed him earnestly in her Buddhist practice. But once the situation arose, her true colors were revealed. She was grateful for the causal condition that had allowed her to understand, by listening repeatedly and respectfully to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious teachings on the Dharma of Repentance CD, that only by thoroughly repenting would she have no hindrances to her Buddhist practice in this lifetime and go on to walk an enlightened path.

She was incomparably grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having accepted her mother’s offering of NT$100 so that the mother could accumulate good fortune, and for urging her to immediately donate all of the rest of her mother’s money to people who could not afford to buy coffins. She was also grateful to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for permitting her to prostrate herself on behalf of her mother and repent to all the sentient beings that had been harmed by them. At the same time she was also grateful for the guru’s great blessings and the various virtuous affinities derived from the countless merits and good fortune the guru had bestowed, allowing her sales revenues to grow ever since she took refuge on September 11th, 2011. By the end of 2011 she had received quite a few orders from abroad, and in the first half of 2012 her export business revenues soared past those of 2011. So far, in the first half of this year, she has done even better than she did last year in 2012. All of this is thanks to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s having taken her in and bestowed so much good fortune upon her, allowing her to practice Buddhism according to the guru’s teachings without any impediments coming from the pressure of having to worry about her sales performance.

She repented that in the past she had greedily sought to fulfill her desire for good food, harming countless sentient beings—ranging from those that flew in the air to those that walked on the ground, from those that climbed to those that swam in the water: chickens, ducks, geese, fish, cows, pigs, goats, frogs, shrimp, crabs, lobsters, and all sorts of shellfish. She had even drunk snake soup. Because she had loved eating meat, when she was about twenty-seven years old she broke out in acne and her face became covered with pimples the size of pearls. These were not ordinary pimples; they were practically rotten, full of pustules, and were so bad that there was not a single patch of perfect skin left on her face. Whenever she looked in the mirror she felt sad. Because she wanted to look beautiful, she wasted an enormous amount of money to cure herself of the acne, but it did not work. At the time she had not yet begun to learn Buddhism, so she did not know that her skin condition was the result of karma from killing. She could scarcely imagine how many dragon family members had taken up residence within her body.  As a child she had loved to play, and had often caught beetles alive, as well as fireflies, dragonflies, cicadas, ants, mosquitos, and little ladybugs. She would play with them by holding them in her hands, or taking thumbtacks and sticking them through their wings so that they could not fly, or pulling out their antennae so that they could not walk in a straight line. She repented deeply for her evil behavior and the misery she had caused all those sentient beings, and she swore that she would never commit such acts again. Hereto she wanted to repent to all the sentient beings she had ever harmed.

In June of 2011, she came to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center for the first time to seek an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. While she was waiting downstairs, as she saw the volunteer Dharma brothers outside the Center in their red vests working very seriously and carefully, a disdainful, haughty thought arose unexpectedly within her: Is such trepidation really necessary? She was so impure in body, speech, and mind even at such a simple and beautiful moment as this, and for that she felt absolutely deplorable. Just then she felt extremely ashamed. After following the guru and practicing Buddhism, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s rigorous teachings—both with words and by example—and his great powers of incomparable wisdom and blessings, and his all-embracing power caused her to surrender and give praise over and over. Hereto she repented to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, to all the sentient beings in the void and in the Dharma Realm, to all the sentient beings suffering in the Six Realms, and to all the Dharma brothers at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center. She vowed never to repeat her mistake again.

She also repented that when she was young she had coveted financial wealth. She had charged friends high prices for cheap jewelry. She had done this out of her own greedy, hedonistic desire, and for this she repented to her friends. Ever since she had first been employed, she had become accustomed to always appropriating the company’s stationary and equipment for her own private use. This was the same as stealing, and for that she repented to all the employers for whom she had ever worked. Back when she was still single, she had unwittingly gotten involved with a married man. She repented for the frivolity and ignorance of youth.

She was extremely grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for his compassion and mercy, and for allowing her the cause and condition to take refuge with him in this lifetime as a disciple. She vowed to follow the guru and be a good Buddhist, to act according to the guru’s teachings, and to remain worthy of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s tireless teachings. Finally, she prayed for the great and compassionate Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to have good health, to keep turning the Dharma wheel, to have an eternal presence in the world, and to propagate the Dharma for hundreds of eons. She also prayed that the Drikung Kagyu Order would flourish, benefiting all sentient beings throughout the void, and that all sentient beings could practice Buddhism without hindrances.

Next another disciple shared the journey she had been on since following the guru and practicing Buddhism.

This disciple took refuge on July 5th, 2009. First she repented that after taking refuge she had been overly defensive and self-righteous, and had not promptly cultivated a respectful attitude toward the guru. Twenty years ago, she and Dharma brother Pan had both practiced Buddhism under a Nepalese Rinpoche. Her impetus for learning Buddhism had been the fact that many of her family and friends had passed within a short few years; besides being heartbroken, she had felt that life is impermanent, so she had hoped to have an opportunity to obtain a Dharma method that would help her be liberated from reincarnation.

During the years that they followed this Rinpoche, most of the time he was abroad, far away from Taiwan. Because of some problems that occurred, ten or so years later they left the Rinpoche in turns. The next guru she followed was a Tibetan Rinpoche. Although this Rinpoche was a resident of Taiwan, she felt there was constant conflict at that Buddhist center; between some disciples there existed rivalry and distrust, and some spoke irresponsibly. Moreover, she lacked faith in this Rinpoche, so a few years later she left. She and her Dharma brothers always commiserated over the fact that there were so few Rinpoches residing in Taiwan. Most of them would breeze through a quick empowerment of forming a connection for their believers, and then would leave the country. Though she had participated in many auspicious empowerments, she was left confused as to just what they had meant. So she often felt lost, and as she wept before the Dharma images of Padmasambhava and Shakyamuni Buddha, she would wonder, why is it so hard to find a meritorious guru?

One day in early June of 2009, she suddenly received a call from Dharma brother Pan. Ordinarily the two of them did not actually contact each other very often. Dharma brother Pan asked her what she had been up to recently. She replied that the following week she was heading to central Taiwan to take refuge in Taoism. Shocked, Dharma brother Pan asked why she would convert to Taoism after having practiced Buddhism for so long. She replied that she had lost her faith in practicing Buddhism, and lamented that there weren’t any meritorious gurus to follow.

Dharma brother Pan strongly urged her to accompany her to seek an audience with an extremely meritorious grand practitioner, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, on the Saturday before she was to head to the Taoist center. At the time she felt hesitant; however, upon seeing Dharma brother Pan’s enthusiasm, she could not refuse. When she saw His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the guru asked why she had sought an audience with him. Involuntarily, she cried as she answered, “The Buddhist path has never gone smoothly.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked, “Do you know I am very strict? Does that scare you?” She replied, “Although I have heard that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is strict, I am not afraid.” Presently, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche compassionately bestowed upon her an opportunity to participate in the puja. Not knowing at the time whether this was a good or a bad thing, she felt a little hesitant, because the puja just happened to conflict with her engagement to participate in a scout troop function. So she answered by asking, “May I participate in the Chod Puja first?” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche replied, “Go home and think about it some more first.”

After she went home and mulled it over for a few days, she decided she should first agree to try participating in the Sunday pujas. Back in 2009, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche received believers in the jewelry store; however, anyone seeking an audience with the guru had to first go to that location on a Saturday and sign up, and by four or five o’clock that afternoon the believers would know whether or not Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would receive them. Bizarrely, many times she went there to sign up for an audience with the guru, yet each time she was told Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was not receiving believers. Inwardly astonished, she began to reflect upon her actions. Was she not being granted an audience with the guru because she had maintained a “try-and-see” attitude? So she resolved to participate in the puja and devote herself to the practice of Buddhism. Right after her attitude changed, she was easily granted an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and the guru compassionately agreed to allow her to participate in the weekly pujas.

The third time she participated in the puja, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche stated from the Dharma throne that a refuge ceremony would be performed the following week, and that people who wished to take refuge could sign up. After returning home, she began to debate intensely with herself. One voice was telling her she should not take refuge so soon; on the off chance that she did not end up following this guru in the long run, why should she bother? But another voice came: Dharma brothers Pan and Fan had both simultaneously, and without prior arrangement, advised her that she should not casually abandon this opportunity to become a meritorious guru’s disciple; after all, it had been a very long time since Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had last held a refuge ceremony, and it was not just anyone who could take refuge. Not to mention, life was impermanent. Therefore, she decided to try once more, so she signed up to take refuge. During the ceremony, as she listened to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche explain all the details of taking refuge in Buddhism, she felt quite astounded, because His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was describing everything in far greater detail than any of the Nepalese and Tibetan Rinpoches in her experience ever had. She felt extremely joyous and full of praise!

During the first six months after she took refuge, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche often severely berated the disciples for their constant mistakes. This aroused evil thoughts within her, and she could not help but wonder to herself: Does the guru really need to admonish the disciples so intensely? So she sat through the pujas as if on pins and needles. Luckily, however, a Right Thought was then aroused within her. She remembered what Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said: “Disciples spend six days a week outside the Buddhist Center, so their bodies, speech, and thoughts are easily polluted by the Five Poisons. As long as the disciples are willing to come participate in the puja every Sunday, they will be given blessings. This will allow the disciples to change bit by bit, imperceptibly.” Thereupon she thought to herself: Alright! I must be patient. She was grateful for His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings. Half a year later, she had gradually realized that each harsh criticism the guru delivered to a disciple contained wisdom and compassion. Thus, she became more and more calm and steadfast, and gradually she began to have a lot more faith.

Nevertheless, based solely on her past experiences, she still was unable to have complete faith in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche; still she would frequently think some negative thoughts. However, she continued to listen closely to how Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche served his Three-Grace Root Guru, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, with great reverence. She listened to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s earnest and meticulous teachings of auspicious and precious Dharma truths and the staunch determination and process by which he had practiced Buddhism; to his respect for, and safeguarding of, the Dharma and the Buddhist Center; to his Phowa blessings given to the deceased; to his liberation of the deceased and of formless sentient beings; to the compassion with which he received and helped believers; to his stern corrections of the disciples’ mistakes; to how much he cared for the ordained disciples—twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week; to the significant care and support he gave to the disciples’ family members and to people who had fallen ill. Every year after the Grant Puja for Transferring Consciousness, the guru would donate the money collected from the believers’ offerings to the Department of Social Affairs to serve as a social relief fund. In addition, after listening to the Dharma brothers share their personal experiences of how the guru had helped them, and to their continuous praise of him, what awed her most was the way in which Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche used public repentances to make everyone truly reflect upon themselves and face their problems. This gave her real insight into the trouble the guru went to, his great compassion and awe-inspiring power, and her faith in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went on to grow with each passing day.

On December 30th, 2011, a puja group was to make a four-day pilgrimage to Japan, and she very much wanted to participate. During those exact dates, however, her husband had to go on an overseas business trip. He said that the children needed an adult at home to care for them. She begged her husband to ask his older sister to help out, but his sister was not willing. The disciple felt very sad then. Roughly half an hour after her husband had spoken to his sister, the telephone rang; it was the Dharma brother who was her team leader calling to inform her that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said that if this group trip did not come together, then there would be no more pujas in the future. She anxiously repeated the message to her husband. He said, “It’s that serious, huh? Well then I’ll just have to try my sister again.” She was grateful for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassion, because in this way she was able to go on her first group trip to participate in the auspicious Japanese puja. She was grateful for the guru’s wonder solution to her problem!

Before the trip, she kept listening to the constant encouragements from the Dharma brother who was her team leader that anyone who had not yet participated in an overseas pilgrimage group should definitely think of a way to participate, because the trip would involve all sorts of new experiences and rewards. While on the tour bus overseas, the Dharma brothers took turns sharing their experiences of how the guru had helped them, and this took her by surprise. She thought to herself, I have been so disrespectful toward the guru; please, please, don’t let it be my turn to share my experiences. She listened to stories from a dozen or so Dharma brothers, and especially from a Dharma brother from Tainan who respectfully shared how he had decided to commit suicide after a doctor told him that he would be definitely and incurably blind. Because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche bestowed blessings upon him, however, his eyesight was now fine, and he was still able to go overseas with the other Dharma brothers and participate in the puja. Listening to this made her feel so ashamed! When it was her turn to share her experiences, she had only been talking for a short while when she began to feel extremely ashamed of the many times she had disrespected the guru. Tears welled up, and she could not stop crying for a long, long time.

The marvelous thing was that not long after returning to Taiwan, a great admiration and respect for the guru really did emerge within her. Every day her mood was tranquil and cheerful, and she happily made an offering of what other people might consider a small amount of money, but which for her was very large. This offering was presented to the guru on her behalf by an ordained Dharma brother on a Saturday after Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had finished receiving believers. A few months later, her husband obtained an unexpected chunk of income, which was something he had dreamed about through years of toiling hard at his job. Prior to this he had constantly harbored a resentful attitude toward life, but now he felt a lot more at peace. In her heart she knew that it was actually her offering to the guru that had allowed them to receive even more.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche once mentioned that other Tibetan Buddhist centers tended to have around one hundred people at the most. She knew this to be true, because she had attended many Buddhist centers in the past. There were even some Buddhist centers that had only had a dozen or so people. So the first time she attended the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center and saw that it had eight hundred disciples, she was extremely amazed and full of admiration.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche often taught of the impermanence of life, and that among the deceased, those who had died young outnumbered those who had lived to a ripe old age. She could verify this simply by looking at her friends and family around her. Of her close young colleagues, some had been killed in car accidents, while others had drowned; of her handsome young neighbors, some had likewise died in car crashes, while some had been taken by liver disease or died of heart trouble. Therefore, she frequently reminded herself that she must believe in the guru’s constant warnings about the impermanence of life.

The Dharma taught by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was a lot more uninhibited and thorough than what she had heard at other Buddhist centers in the past. Previously, she had encountered many Rinpoches who had not been Han Chinese; though they had worked hard to express themselves, some had needed to transmit by way of interpreters and had been unable to completely convey the meaning of what they were trying to say. Drawing from his own experiences and realization of the Dharma, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche bestowed teachings upon the disciples using precise and eloquent Chinese language. This fact was extremely valuable.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche used his great sea of merits to care for each individual disciple; this, too, was something she had never seen at other Buddhist centers. The main thing was Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s indiscriminate mind; whether rich or poor, as long as one was sincere and respectful, then one would be cared for and be given blessings. Even a self-righteous, vile disciple such as herself could feel this profoundly, as long as she was sincerely repentant. Since following Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and after doing her best to incorporate the guru’s Dharma teachings into her daily life, she became settled in both body and mind. As soon as a garbage-like train of thought appeared in her mind, she would hurriedly think about something else, and she corrected herself frequently. As a result, the unrest she had felt for so long with regard to the impermanence of life vanished as well. She deeply felt that all the teachings she had received from Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche were much more practical and down-to-earth than anything she had learned in the past. How in this lifetime could she possibly repay the great debt of gratitude she owed the guru? All she could do was to practice Buddhism diligently, and put every ounce of her effort toward making joyous offerings to the guru.

In the past, when she had been at other Buddhist centers, there had been much strife and many complications, so it had been hard to concentrate on her Buddhist practice. At the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, however, thanks to the rigorous discipline with which Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche taught everyone, most of the vajra Dharma brothers got along harmoniously with one another and did not get involved in quarrels. Therefore, she felt calm in both body and mind when practicing Buddhism here and often felt joy in her heart. After she had taken refuge in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, he had taught the disciples that they should not look at the guru from a secular point of view. Therefore she reflected that her problems in the past had not been the result not meeting the right people, but rather had been caused by her own self-righteous notions concealing from her a sincere desire to practice Buddhism; for this, too, she felt extremely repentant.

Finally, she again repented deeply for the disrespect she had shown the guru in the past. After sensing the great, constant respect the guru had for the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas as well as for His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, she hoped that she herself would be able to learn one or two things from it, make great efforts to eradicate her evil habits, diligently practice the Dharma, and to serve the guru, so that she would not be unworthy of the guru’s great benevolence. She resolved to closely follow His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in her Buddhist practice in order to be liberated from reincarnation.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne to preside over the auspicious Drikung Kagyu Chod, and bestowed precious teachings upon all the attendees prior to performing the Dharma.

The Dharma performed today was the Chod. For many it was their first time participating, so it would be briefly explained for everyone’s benefit. The Chod is one of the Eight Sadhanas in Tibetan Buddhism. A Sadhana, or method of accomplishment, is something which, if mastered by a practitioner in this lifetime or over the course of many lifetimes, can allow that practitioner to be liberated from life and death, attain Buddhahood, and benefit all sentient beings in the Six Realms by helping them to leave the suffering sea of reincarnation. “Chod” in Tibetan means “break;” as in, one must break the root of affliction. In other words, by performing this Dharma one can help sentient beings break away from all afflictions which cause them to reincarnate. All sentient beings have many afflictions. Where do they come from? It has to do with the fact that sentient beings have attachments; moreover, these give rise to greed, hatred, and ignorance, producing all kinds of afflictions and desires which in turn cause the sentient beings to fall into the suffering sea of reincarnation. Whether you are attached to your family, emotions, or career, Buddhism talks about impermanence; nothing in this world is eternal or unchanging. However, you become attached to things; you hope that bad things will get better and that good things will never change. We are pure by nature, but if we become attached to worldly things—that is, using our own ways of thinking on a conscious level—then all sorts of afflictions and desires will influence our minds, including greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt. If these afflictions persist, then in order to satisfy our own desires we will think, say, and do many things that will harm other people as well as ourselves.

What sorts of things are we usually attached to the most? Money isn’t so bad; after all, it is a worldly possession. In fact, what we all love the most are our own bodies. Think about it: From the moment you open your eyes and get up in the morning, what is it that keeps you busy all day? What do you think about? Do you keep yourself busy thinking and doing things which might make your body feel better or more comfortable? And if so, what makes your life any different from that of an animal? Actually, our bodies are so-called karmic bodies; that is, they are the accumulations of good and evil karma from the past, all of which we ourselves produced. People who have accumulated more good karma than evil have relatively healthy bodies; they will do better in school and be able to earn more money while working. By contrast, those with more evil karma than good tend to have a harder time of it. However, you often do not reflect upon yourselves that everything that happens is the result of karmic retribution from your good or evil karma; rather, by being attached to your body, you create a lot more evil karma.

Think about your daily lives. Apart from keeping busy for yourselves, just how many things do you do for the sake of others? Practically none. Everything you do and think is for you; it is all for your own self-interest. This has nothing to do with Buddhism. Women all want to marry a good man; men all want to marry a pretty woman; officials all want a promotion; business people all want to make it rich. Et cetera, et cetera. If you are hoping that practicing Buddhism can change your current situations, such thought is contrary to cause and effect! Actually, everything you obtain now is karmic retribution for your past acts, and everything that happens in the future will be the result of the causes—the acts—which you perform now. Therefore, if you want to know the future, take a look at what you’re doing right now! You hope that your current situation will change is an impossible hope. Practicing Buddhism allows you to break away from evil and do good deeds from now on, and in doing so, things will naturally get better for you in the future. If you hope that practicing Buddhism can change your current situation, then the virtuous effect from practicing Buddhism will not appear for you either. If every day you only care about yourselves and are not willing to spare any thoughts for other people, then in the future, if you have a problem, no one will come to help you; this is cause and effect. The purpose of practicing Buddhism is not so that things in this world will go your way. Rather, it is so that you can change for the better after this life is over, and even on down through lifetime after lifetime. From the standpoint of Buddhism, the present and the future are linked by a continuum of lifetimes. However, none of you thinks about your future lifetimes; you only think about the present. At best you might think as far ahead as when you are old. Many people do not even think about that; all they think about is what is happening right now in front of them.

Back when Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was suffering from cancer, why was he able to be cured naturally? It was because ever since Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began practicing Buddhism, he has completely surrendered himself to his guru, worked hard at correcting himself, and constantly benefited other people without a single thought for his own well-being. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did not care in the least that he had cancer. The guru knew that it was the result of his own evil karma, so he completely accepted the cancer and carried it with him as he practiced. This went on until one day he suddenly discovered that the cancer was completely gone. Because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was constantly benefitting sentient beings, they naturally did not hinder his Buddhist practice. When you get sick you hope the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will make it so that your illness will go away, yet you do not accept that it was the result of your own evil karma. If you had not harmed any sentient beings in the past, then you would not have gotten sick in this lifetime. You pray to be cured of your illness, yet you have never given any thought to the sentient beings you have harmed. The point of being vegetarian is so that you can stop killing and doing evil; it is so that you can cultivate the seed of compassion within you. Compassion is the foundation of all Dharma. If you cannot even succeed in being vegetarian, then how can you possibly practice and accept the Dharma? The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are compassionate. Only if you are imploring for the sake of the sentient beings you have harmed will the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas help you by putting a temporary stop to the agony from your ailments and letting you live a little longer so that you have an opportunity to listen to and receive the Dharma. This is so that you can go on to help sentient beings be liberated from the cycle of life and death.

The Chod was founded by a Tibetan yogini, the Venerable Machig Labdron. For now we will not introduce her life in too much detail. The Venerable Machig Labdron was a lay practitioner; she married and had children. She founded the Chod based on Exoteric theory with some Tantra added to it. Of the Exoteric theories she used, she mainly based the Chod on the spirit of The Great Prajna Sutra. Of the sutras Shakyamuni Buddha taught in His forty-nine years of expounding the Dharma, this one was taught the longest. “Prajna” here has many meanings; primary amongst them is “wisdom.” In Buddhism, having wisdom does not mean you are very intelligent or able to make a lot of money; rather, it refers to ways in which you can benefit countless sentient beings. You must practice precepts, meditation, and wisdom sequentially, carry out the Six Paramitas, and constantly accumulate good fortune before you can unlock your wisdom. The Chod is an extremely auspicious Dharma; it can help many sentient beings. In the past it spread from Tibet to India, for some Indian practitioners at the time journeyed to Tibet to seek the Chod.

A Chinese translation of the Dharma performed today would be “Body-Offering Dharma.” While performing the “Body-Offering,” a practitioner offers his or her body to sentient beings through visualization. Therefore, practitioners performing the Chod must have cultivated compassion. Compassion means that one does not ask anything for oneself, and gives the best of oneself to sentient beings in exchange for their suffering. In this way a practitioner performing the Chod gives to sentient beings, giving them everything, even his or her body—including flesh, bones, and blood. This is the only way the practitioner can move them; this is compassion to the extreme, and is a Bodhi mind. Therefore, people transmitting the Chod must first have cultivated compassion, and those wishing to receive it must have compassion also. Only then can the Dharma be passed down; otherwise, even those who receive it will still be unable to attain the Dharma.

The Dharma vessel fashioned from a leg bone used by the practitioner while performing the Dharma will call over sentient beings from the Ghostly Realms. Further visualization turns the practitioner’s body into things they like to eat. If they are sentient beings who enjoy eating meat, then they will see meat; those who like eating fish will see fish. But after they eat, it will all turn into nectar, purifying the sentient beings from the Ghostly Realms so that they can receive the Dharma. As for how to practice and how to visualize, that part is Tantra and thus cannot be spoken of publicly. But some children who come to participate in the puja can see them, because children are relatively pure.

In the Dharma text it is written that a practitioner performing the Chod must first take off all protection wheels, Buddha statues, and other safeguards; otherwise the sentient beings from the Ghostly Realms will not dare to approach. Furthermore, people who eat meat cannot help sentient beings from the Ghostly Realms; they can catch the scent of meat on your body, so will not want to come close. Thus, if any of you still eat meat, it indicates that you still want to commit evil. You must be vegetarian to attend the pujas at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center; at every puja Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche exhorts you in earnest to be vegetarian. You are all very afraid of dying, but at the same time you do not do as you are told. Many people say, when coming to seek an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, that they rarely eat meat these days, and that when they do, it’s only a little bit. But as long as you eat any meat at all, you still have not broken away from evil and are continuously accumulating evil karma. Saying things like that is just like a thief telling the judge, “But Your Honor, I hardly ever steal anymore; I only stole one bag.” Will this be sufficient to set the thief free? Buddhism teaches us that we must refrain from evil and do good deeds. We must refrain even from committing minor evil acts. Don’t think that a tiny bit of evil is okay; over time, all those tiny bits of evil accumulate to become larger ones, until your karmic retribution manifests and you are helpless before it! No one starts out wanting to do bad things or kill people for no reason. On the news we see children who murder their parents or vice versa; this all has to do with karma of killing created by their family in the past, from being engaged in things like the food industry or raising chickens or ducks. If everyone were to pay close attention, they would discover that the family members of these murderers were all once involved in the business of killing.

Therefore, even if you wouldn’t dare kill anyone right now, if you do not break away from thoughts of harming sentient beings, then your murderous habits will accumulate. In each lifetime you will accumulate causes from killing, until at some point, in some future lifetime, you might commit the evil act of murdering a person. The karmic retribution that comes from killing a person is very severe indeed! The sutras say that those who love eating the flesh of sentient beings will fall into hell. Don’t think that just because you have not killed anything personally you’ll be fine; simply eating the flesh of sentient beings plants the causes of killing them. Like you, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is a lay practitioner; he also is engaged in doing business. Still, not once has the guru ever felt that being vegetarian was inconvenient. So don’t make excuses that it’s not convenient to eat vegetarian, when in fact such inconvenience is in your mind; it is you yourself who have not resolved to break away from evil. How can someone who has resolved to refrain from evil continue to eat the flesh of sentient beings?

If you still eat meat after taking refuge, then no matter how much you practice, it will be useless. For those who continue to commit evil while participating in the puja, their offenses are doubled. Prior to the puja, one of the disciples sharing her experiences mentioned that her mother spat up blood on her deathbed. Her mother had participated in the puja for more than a year, so logic would dictate that this sort of thing could not happen; she should have been able to accumulate some good fortune. However, she thought that simply by participating in the pujas she would be protected and blessed, so she continued to create karma from killing by eating meat. What does spitting up blood before dying represent? It is a sign of going to hell; that she was spitting up blood meant her karma from killing was quite heavy. These words are not meant to place a curse on you; these things are in fact taught in the sutras. You should not misunderstand and think that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas want to punish you. They would never punish you; nor would the guru. However, if you do not act according to the guru’s teachings and change your ways, then you will not be able to transform your karma.

Practitioners wishing to perform the Chod must meet a few prerequisites. First of all, the practitioner must at least have attained fruition of the second stage of the Mahamudra—the Simplicity Yoga state—one of the Dharma methods of meditation of the Drikung Kagyu Order. “Simplicity” here does not mean leaving the world; rather, it means that for a practitioner who has achieved the Simplicity Yoga, everything that happens in the world is no more than a game. The practitioner will not become attached to anything because he or she knows the world is like a game; everything is impermanent and ever-changing, so there is no need to grasp or hold on to anything. Furthermore, a practitioner wishing to practice the Chod must have achieved compassion and must be able to save sentient beings by helping them leave the suffering sea of reincarnation. Therefore the practitioner must also be well-cultivated in the Phowa, because with such attainment one can definitely help sentient beings go to the Pure Land.

The Phowa is a Dharma that was transmitted personally by Amitabha Buddha to Padmasambhava, and which Padmasambhava then passed on. The vast majority of the Dharma you hear was transmitted by Shakyamuni Buddha. In His later years Shakyamuni Buddha introduced Amitabha Buddha, because sentient beings living in the Age of Degenerate Dharma needed the Dharma methods of the Pure Land. The Phowa was a Dharma transmitted personally by Amitabha Buddha, so its blessings are especially auspicious. The Dharma texts say that a Mahasiddha performing the Phowa can succeed in liberating the deceased without being nearby. Based on His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s experiences and records over the past few years of liberating sentient beings, it should be very clear to you that even if he is two or three thousand kilometers away overseas, the guru can still perform the Phowa for the deceased just as well, and allow them to go to the Pure Land with their bodies showing various perfect auspicious signs as mentioned in the Dharma texts. If a practitioner has not achieved the Simplicity Yoga stage, or has not cultivated the Phowa well, then the most performing the Chod can do is help the attendees accumulate a little bit of good fortune; it cannot help sentient beings be liberated.

There are orders within Tibetan Buddhism which do not perform this Dharma. On the one hand this might be because in ancient times, practitioners who had attained the Simplicity Yoga did not really care about appearances, so they tended to dress in rags as they went around with a leg bone Dharma vessel in hand, performing the Dharma for people according to their causal conditions. Practitioners who have attained the Simplicity Yoga state live very different lives from you; your lives consist of having to go to work, school, etc. You can’t help it. However, in modern society anyone who is unique and stands out from the crowd might be seen as a freak. On the other hand, perhaps the reason some orders in Tibetan Buddhism do not perform this Dharma is that while performing the Chod, a practitioner utilizes a Dharma vessel made from a leg bone. As soon as the practitioner blows through it, sentient beings from the Ghostly Realms will approach. If the practitioner does not have the ability to liberate them, these ghosts will stay. Why do some people quarrel inside their Buddhist centers? It is because when liberating ritual is being performed, sentient beings from the Ghostly Realms show up; if the practitioner is unable to liberate them, and in the meantime, they happen to see that there are all sorts of offerings around the Buddhist center such as incense, flowers, fruit, and so on, so they will decide to stay for a while. In the end this causes unrest among the people attending the Buddhist center. A little while ago a disciple shared that she had never heard any Dharma brothers quarreling inside the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center. If disciples are squabbling within a Buddhist center, it could be because ghosts have stayed behind there. Some people fight at home, perhaps for the same reason. If meat is eaten in your home, then you will constantly quarrel; if there is killing and harm being done to sentient beings, then why would they leave you in peace?

The Chod is both difficult to learn and to perform. Don’t think it’s nothing more than a ringing of bells and a beating of rotary drums; the practitioner must meet certain prerequisites in order to perform it, and there are many Tantra visualizations involved. It consumes a lot of the practitioner’s merits and good fortune; the practitioner must give all of himself or herself as an offering to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and as charity to sentient beings so that they may be helped. The Chod is a very auspicious Dharma. His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang once told Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche that in the past, ordained practitioners at Drikung Kagyu monasteries would not go a day without performing the Chod. Nowadays, however, because of all sorts of factors having to do with various causes and conditions as well as historical background, such a tradition can no longer be maintained. To perform the Chod a pure lineage is required so that numerous sentient beings can be helped by the blessings of previous generations of gurus. The Chod performed by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, as well as its empowerment, was transmitted orally to him personally on a one-on-one basis by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. The leg bone employed in the Chod is the same Dharma vessel which the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang used to use while performing the Chod in the Drikung Thil Monastery.

As for those of you who came today to participate in the Chod Puja, you must never again harbor doubts about the Chod, or wonder out of curiosity whether this Dharma actually works or not. Such an attitude would be disrespectful. To give an example, ever since 1997, more and more people have been coming to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to participate in the Chod Puja; if performing this Dharma did not work, then this Buddhist Center would not have become more and more prosperous the way it has. Nearly 1500 people attended the Buddhist Center today. If the presiding guru had not mastered this Dharma , and were not able to help sentient beings be liberated, then the consequences would be quite severe; how would the guru possibly be able to carry the burden of all the karmic creditors of fifteen hundred people from their myriad past lifetimes? Don’t expect that coming to participate in a single puja will solve all your problems. You might say that most of the people who attend are Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s disciples. You would be correct; however, even disciples have many lives’ worth of ancestors and karmic creditors. Perhaps you can only recall a few of your ancestors, but there are many more whom you cannot remember. All of you know that the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center never spreads propaganda for itself; likewise, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has never advertised, nor granted any interviews. Though you were introduced by disciples, in fact it was cause and condition from your past lives that allowed you to participate in this puja today. You also know that you are not ordinarily easily fooled or convinced, so you definitely had cause and condition to come participate in the puja after hearing someone say something to you about it. You all must well and truly cherish this affinity, and you absolutely must never eat meat or kill a living being again.

You should not think that you can achieve attainment simply by practicing at home and watching Buddhist television programs. To practice Buddhism, you must follow a meritorious guru; if you are not willing to accept the guru’s discipline and teachings, you will not be able to learn or achieve attainment. The guru is not here to control you; nor are the precepts. Rather, their purpose is to let you know that there are some things you should not do, thus preventing you from harming yourself and other sentient beings. The reason Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is so strict in his teachings is that the guru himself learned in exactly the same manner. When he sees you continuing to behave in these ways, he cannot help but speak the truth. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche promotes the Dharma according to teachings given him by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. If he did not teach you strictly and dissuade you from committing evil, then he would be letting down the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas as well as his guru.

If you continue in your disobedience and unwillingness to change, you are welcome to go someplace else. These days many places are suffering from a dearth of believers; if you were to go participate in their pujas, they might not demand that you change your behavior. They’ll accept you as long as you are willing to attend; you won’t even have to eat vegetarian. If you feel Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is overly strict, then go elsewhere. There is mention in the The Ratnakuta Sutra that during the Age of Degenerate Dharma, certain propagators of Buddhism will distort the Dharma and mislead believers with flattery or sweet-talk. The Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center was entrusted to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang as a place to promote the Right Dharma. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is sure to teach according to what the Buddha said, because a practitioner cannot distort the Dharma for fame and profit. Otherwise, with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s eloquence, appearance, and his ability to give analogies and provide many examples for all to see, if the guru were not so strict, then there would be far more than a few hundred thousand believers participating in his pujas! By using such a strict method of propagating Buddhism, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has cut off a lot of opportunities for himself. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche allows you to come participate in his pujas for free, unlike some places which put a price on the Dharma and even provide comfortable seating, arrange seats in the front row for major benefactors, and serve meals at the conclusion of the puja. In the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, there are no major benefactors; no matter what your status, position, or wealth, you are all equals before the Dharma.

Because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is very strict in his care of you, the first time you come to participate in a puja at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center you must first seek an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, register, line up, and so on, all in order. After that, fifteen hundred people all crowd into the Buddhist Center to participate in the puja. Exactly because it is so difficult to participate in the puja is what makes you understand to cherish and care about this opportunity; because of this, the sentient beings related to you will be moved by your sincerity and accompany you to the puja. Only in this way will your participating in the puja be of any help to them. You all bring your own karmic creditors from past lives with you; they all hope that by following behind you they will be able to obtain help from the Dharma along with you. Therefore, in order to participate in the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center’s pujas, you yourself must come in person. Because the puja originates with you, it will only be held if you come to participate. That being the case, do not think that you can help liberate the deceased simply by making a phone call saying you need help liberating the deceased, registering his or her name, and paying a fee; that would be absolutely useless, because this way of doing things has never been mentioned in the sutras!

In other places they tend to write down the names of the deceased and then stick them all on the wall. Not in the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, however; here you are asked to call their names out yourselves. Why is that? Because when you are calling, your mind is more sincere, so the sentient beings with whom you have affinities will sense it, and come in to accept help from the Dharma. Sentient beings cannot see a list of names stuck to the wall. Today Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has told everyone the secret in this, which is how you know why you are asked to speak out loud the names of the sentient beings you wish to help. In other places, where the liberation ritual is performed for a fee, have you ever asked them if they can tell you where the deceased are being liberated to? Even if it’s the Pure Land, they will also have different levels of fruition. Given that these people want you to pay for their services, they should tell you under no uncertain terms where exactly the deceased are being liberated to. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performs the Dharma to help the deceased be liberated; the guru does not charge you any fees whatsoever, so you should put your doubts to rest.

Traditionally, in a Tibetan Chod Puja, people coming to participate must lie flat and make an offering of their bodies. Some other places might require people to recline while the Dharma is being performed, but in the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center this is not the case. Rather, the presiding guru himself performs the visualization and offerings on your behalf. Some people might ask, “If he visualizes giving his body as charity, then wouldn’t his health deteriorate? Wouldn’t that leave him with nothing?” Actually, the contrary is true; the more charity given, the more one possesses. Because you are willing to sacrifice of yourselves for the benefit of sentient beings, they will in turn feel gratitude, and many things will “go your way,” as you say. For example, by the same rationale, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has performed the Chod for many years, and his health keeps getting better and better. Why aren’t you made to lie down while the Chod is being performed at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center? One reason is that there are too many people, and not enough room in the Buddhist Center for that; another is that if you are lying down, you could fall asleep from being too comfortable. Thirdly, you might have hallucinations, because ordinary people think Tantra is shrouded in mystery and that performing it will cause them to have some extraordinary reactions, so instead hallucinations are produced in their minds. Tantra is not at all mysterious, in fact; these are neither mystical experiences nor secrets. Also, performing Tantra does not arouse extraordinary sensations the way some people say.

Tantra is a method of using the Dharma to help others. “Tantra” means “firm and meticulous.” What it refers to is that the mind of a guru who benefits sentient beings is very firm, meticulous, and steadfast; not one bit of what the guru does is for the guru’s own benefit. Furthermore, for ordinary folk Tantra is difficult to imagine. Trying to use worldly methods to explain it would be like a PhD trying to explain his or her research to an elementary school student. So, for ordinary people, the state of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is a secret.

A moment ago it was mentioned that a practitioner performing the Chod must possess compassion and wisdom of emptiness. To cultivate compassion one must first give rise to a mind of renunciation; therefore, it is very important to give charity and make offerings, and this must be done continuously. In addition, one must have good fortune in order to do good deeds and make offerings; you can’t do it just because you want to. If you do not have enough good fortune, then even if you wanted to do a good deed you would not be able to. These days a lot of people are too lazy to do things themselves; they all wait for people to come collecting donations for so-called charity foundations. They even might say, “This month I made more money than usual, so I’ll donate a bit more; I’ll go ahead and give NT$1000.” For you right now, a donation of NT$1000 is not even close to being a worthy charitable offering. Giving to charity and making offerings does not mean giving donations to charity foundations; these foundations have a lot of people working for them, and they all need to get paid. Only a small part of the money you donate to a charity foundation actually helps people in need. Why does Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche donate all of the offerings from the Grand Pujas every year to the Ministry of the Interior’s Department of Social Affairs? Because public servants already get paid by the government, so however much you donate, they will take the entire amount and give it to people who need help.

Just now we talked about how hard a Chod Puja is to come by. In today’s world, practitioners who are qualified to perform the Chod are extremely rare. Today you had an opportunity to come participate in the Chod Puja; whether or not it was able to help you depends on your attitude while participating in the puja. Because this puja originated with you, your attitude decided whether or not you could attune yourself to the Dharma, because the Dharma is based on the conditions of sentient beings. If you came to participate in the puja with the attitude that you hoped to gain something for yourself or family members, then all you would have obtained was a little bit of good fortune that might give you the opportunity to again come into contact with Buddhism in the next life or in the life after that. If you came out of curiosity, or wanting to “give it a try,” then all you got out of it was a satisfaction of your curiosity. However, if you came to participate in today’s puja with the attitude of hoping countless sentient beings will be able to accept help from the Dharma, because whoever you wish to help is one of them, then you have gained boundless merits by participating in the puja today and will be able to give even more sentient beings an opportunity to receive benefits.

Perhaps you might wonder how you could possibly be so lofty that you do everything for the sake of sentient beings. Actually, think about it: If everyone were fine—in the universe, the world, the country, society, right down to your neighbors—then would you have any problems? As long as all sentient beings are well, then we will be well also. The guru and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are compassionate; they all hope for sentient beings to be able to leave the suffering sea of reincarnation. If all present have come to participate in this puja with reverence, repentance, and compassion in their hearts, and are hoping that all sentient beings can be liberated from suffering, then with the fifteen hundred people attending today, the power of your united prayer is enormous and is capable of helping many suffering sentient beings. If your attitude is identical with that of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and the guru, then you will have obtained more merits from participating in today’s puja than you can use over the course of many lifetimes. Everything Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche teaches is the truth, and the guru takes responsibility for everything spoken from the Dharma throne. The Dharma will not harm you; there is no need for you to doubt it.

Don’t think that achieving attainment in Buddhist practice merely requires chanting mantras, reciting sutras, prostrating yourselves, and participating in the pujas. To truly practice Buddhism one must follow the teachings of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and the guru, act accordingly, and change all behavior that could cause one to reincarnate. If you are still not vegetarians and are not working hard to change yourselves, well, there are already more people attending the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center than it has seats for, and other places are lacking in believers. If you are not truly committed to practicing Buddhism in order to be liberated from the cycle of life and death, then with so many people attending, the Buddhist Center’s neighbors are bound to complain sooner or later. However, if everyone coming here truly aspires to practice Buddhism, then neighbors will be able to sense that and naturally will not get in your way. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is no different from you; before, he was a believer, too. The only difference is that the guru speaks Cantonese Mandarin while you speak Taiwanese Mandarin. Like you, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has a job and a family, but the greatest difference that sets the guru apart from you is his determination. Because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche knows that the Dharma can truly help sentient beings leave the suffering sea of reincarnation, ever since he began practicing Buddhism he has worked extremely hard at it.

Ever since the guru was in his mother’s womb, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has not once eaten beef. This is because his late father was a Fulu Taoist, and was very devout while still alive, so from an early age Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche practiced Taoism in the steps of his late father. Prior to practicing Buddhism, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche knew many Taoist methods. Some people would say they could use certain methods to cause things to change, like subduing spirits or hanging up talismans in their home; however, all of these have side effects. When Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s father passed away, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche discovered that no matter how well his father had practiced Taoism, it did nothing that fundamentally helped him in the end, and could not solve the great problem of life and death. Therefore Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche became resolved to find a method that could truly, fundamentally help him and sentient beings to become liberated once and for all. Only after beginning to learn Buddhism did Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche learn that the Dharma was a way that really could help him and countless sentient beings to be liberated from reincarnation, so he dove straight into it without further hesitation. What Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has been able to achieve, you can certainly achieve also, because the guru is no different from you; the guru simply sits and teaches from a higher seat. Why does Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche sit upon a higher seat? The Dharma texts say that a guru transmitting the Dharma must sit on high, and there are many reasons for this; however, we won’t get into them all here today.

Buddhists should not be afraid of being at a disadvantage. In Taiwan, for some reason, lots of people love to bicker and haggle; you can even get on the news by criticizing and cursing at someone who didn’t fill your cup up all the way when you ordered a drink. Actually, that person did not stiff the customer on purpose; it was most certainly a case of being sloppy while pouring.  If people are itching to yell and carry on over something as small as getting gypped out of a bit of drink, then people are way too preoccupied with minor details. You are attached to your own things; hoping that nothing will change, you spend all day griping and haggling with people. This means you are unwilling to lose out. There’s no telling how much Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has lost out on, however! Because he is willing to lose out, things get better and better for him over time. Actually, things will naturally come to anyone with enough good fortune without that person having to fight for them. Even if such a person loses something, no one would ever steal from him; we’ll explain this more for everyone when we have more time. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is no different from you; he, too, was once a believer. The difference is that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is determined, and acts one hundred percent according to the teachings of his guru and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Only because of this has he been able to attain the fruition he has attained by now, and is certain that his future will be good.

Why was the Chod Puja held today? Because next Sunday Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche will not be here, but there were many deceased who urgently needed help, so the guru decided to hold it today. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche attaches a lot of importance to the deceased, because they really have it hard. You might think you are suffering, but compared to the deceased you’ve got it easy; your suffering is quite insignificant when one takes the entire universe into consideration. You should be grateful for the benevolent rule of the government that allows you have today, the 1st of May, off of work so that you can participate in the Chod Puja. You all have a lot of good fortune, as you have a guru who holds such a puja for you and cares about your getting a day off. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche practices Buddhism every day, whether it is a holiday or not; if His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang were to command it, he would drop everything and hop a plane to India. His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang is Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s guru; if the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang has not retired, then Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche cannot retire either, but rather must continue exerting himself, toiling hard for you all despite his old age.

Originally this should not be said, but we’ll go ahead and mention it; The Ratnakuta Sutra says that one should not criticize those who rule. Don’t think life is hard these days; take a look around the world: Taiwan really is relatively lucky. Don’t go along with the hecklers and swear at the government; if they can’t do a good job, so be it. This is our collective karma. Don’t think that if you didn’t choose them then it’s none of your business; whatever rulers we have today is dictated by our actions. Whether or not we are able to encounter good rulers has to do with our causes and conditions and good fortune. If we have lots of good fortune, we naturally will be able to experience an age of benevolent rulers. Everyone lives together on this same piece of land, so don’t just criticize; try to help them. “Helping” does not mean voting for someone; voting is an individual choice. Rather, you must start from yourself, and at the very least must not follow along with the jeering crowd and criticize those in power.

If it were you ruling right now, would you be able to do all those things? You might rule for a day and then get dizzy and be at your wits’ end. At the very least rulers these days are not corrupt; that’s already pretty good. Those popular TV commentators who openly criticize the government get paid to do so, so of course they talk about these things; this is the only way they can increase their ratings. You don’t get paid, so why do you want to spend so much energy cursing along with them? Constantly criticizing will come to no good, because if everyone says it is no good, then in truth the situation will gradually turn bad. If a place was never that bad or was originally pretty good, then if everyone constantly criticizes it and thinks it’s no good, then such badmouthing will naturally have an effect. So please, everyone, stop badmouthing your own country.

Next, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche taught all the attendees how to visualize while participating in the puja. The guru compassionately reminded everyone that if they sensed any wandering thoughts arising in themselves while the Dharma was being performed, they must control those thoughts and return to the right mindset without delay so that they could participate in the puja with respect, repentance, and compassion for all sentient beings.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began performing the auspicious Drikung Kagyu Chod Puja. While performing the Dharma, the guru instructed all the attendees to speak their names, the names of anyone living whom they wished to help, and the names of the deceased whom they hoped the Chod would help liberate. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche exhausted his own merits and good fortune to perform the Chod. It could be clearly seen on the glowing closed-circuit television screens around the Buddhist Center that numerous times when Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche emitted auspicious sounds while performing the Dharma, momentary bursts of loop-shaped light would appear behind the guru just like those that appear behind the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. These auspicious signs were extremely incredible. Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led all the attendees in a recitation of the Great Six-Syllable Mantra for a long time. While chanting the mantra, all the attendees could feel the compassion in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s voice as it came, wave after wave.

Upon perfect completion of the puja, the 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 Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having tirelessly bestowed auspicious teachings and the Dharma upon them that day, and for having benefited countless sentient beings. The night before the Chod Puja, as well as the day of the puja, the weather had been dark and hazy, and a cold wind had blown ceaselessly, carrying along with it a fine drizzle. While His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was performing the auspicious Chod, the wind and rain picked up outside of the Buddhist Center; though the attendees were seated inside, they all could sense the mighty gale that was blowing out there, for the building was perceptibly swaying on its foundations. Upon the perfect completion of the puja, however, as all the attendees exited the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, the wind calmed and the rain stopped, and a vast blue sky revealed itself. Sunlight shone down upon all like a layer of gold dust, glorious and brilliant. The abrupt change in weather made the attendees feel moved to joy. This was an auspicious sign representing the perfect completion of the Dharma performed by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. The guru’s great compassion had liberated countless sentient beings, allowing sentient beings suffering in reincarnation to be purified, receive the Dharma, and leave their suffering behind; thus, the heavenly beings and Bodhisattvas all came forward to give their praise!

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Updated on July 28, 2013