His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – July 28, 2013

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presided over the auspicious Chod Puja of the Drikung Kagyu Order at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Taipei. Before the puja commenced, four disciples got on stage to share with everyone what they had seen and heard during this latest puja trip with Rinpoche to Ladakh in India.

The first disciple shared that he was extremely grateful to Rinpoche for having led more than three hundred disciples to Ladakh to participate in pujas presided over by His Holiness. When Rinpoche arrived at Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochhe Airport, His Holiness’s attending lamas, as well as lamas from Phyang Monastery, with a local ritual of the highest standard, gave a reverent welcome to Rinpoche, and presented khatas.

On the first day of the pujas, His Holiness’s car flew a five-color khata as it led the way into the venue, Rinpoche’s own car trailing closely behind with a three-color khata fastened to it. As they progressed, Rinpoche followed closely in His Holiness’s footsteps the entire time.

During the puja His Holiness stated that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was from Taiwan, and having donated US$74,000 to the construction and renovation of Phyang Monastery, was that project’s main sponsor. His Dharma title is “Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.” Most people understand “Rinpoche” to mean someone who is a reincarnated Rinpoche. Here, however, “Rinpoche” means “treasure of the world.” How was the honorific, “Rinpoche,” added to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s name? It happened because Rinpoche is an extremely important person, a very precious treasure; so, in fact, it is possible for anyone to be awarded this title. There is a tradition in Tibet whereby high officials, whenever writing letters, would often respectfully refer to the recipient as “Rinpoche.” Even if those people were neither reincarnated gurus nor ordained practitioners, but rather lay practitioners, they all could use the name “Rinpoche;” it indicated that such people were very important and precious. Similarly, Drubwang Rinpoche, too, was not authenticated as a reincarnated Rinpoche; however, he has engaged in true practice his entire life and has become a grand practitioner, so we call him Drubwang Rinpoche. Before awarding the title “Rinpoche,” one must look at the person’s spiritual characteristics, behavior, bearing, contributions to society, and so on. The title can be awarded to anyone; the person does not necessarily have to be a reincarnated Rinpoche.

So how does one become a true Rinpoche—an authenticated, reincarnated Rinpoche? Authenticating a reincarnated Rinpoche is very difficult. Prior to authenticating someone, tests and evaluation must be performed. Because of this, a meeting was once convened by the Religion Department in Dharamsala during which it was decided that reincarnated Rinpoches of any order—including the Gelug Order, the Nyingma Order, the Sakya Order, and the Kagyu Order—must all possess their own past histories; otherwise, those orders could not produce any new Tulkus or Rinpoches. This was a resolution made in Dharamsala by the meeting attendees and the Dalai Lama. In recent years, many orders have produced quite a few new Tulkus or Rinpoches; doing so does not contribute to Buddhism, but rather does it a disservice. Tulkus or Rinpoches must be genuinely authenticated, and must possess proof of their own past histories as well as the histories of their lineages. If they do not, such people will not be allowed authentication as new Tulkus or Rinpoches. The leaders of all the orders signed this agreement in Dharamsala, so in the future no new Rinpoches will be authenticated unless they possess histories of their own lineages. At the time, His Holiness was also present at this meeting and signed this document.

Regarding the traditions of the Drikung Kagyu Order, it has roughly two hundred monasteries in Tibet and Ladakh, each one of which has an authenticated reincarnated guru, with a total of about 200 of them. In these regions nowadays, however, only about half of them are authenticated Rinpoches. The way to authenticate a Tulku is, when a Rinpoche reincarnated from the previous lifetime is found, a monastic companion who was close to that deceased Rinpoche will report to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. His Holiness does not then confer authentication or grant a letter of authentication immediately, but rather will perform a special Dharma ritual of Dharma Protector Achi. Dharma Protector Achi is the Dharma Protector yidam of the Drikung Kagyu Order. During the ritual, names are written on pieces of paper and placed in a bowl, which is then shaken until one of the names pops out. This is how to authenticate a Tulku. As a result, our Drikung Kagyu Order has only ever authenticated reincarnated Rinpoches with historical lineages; it has never authenticated a new Rinpoche. This has been the way of it going back eight hundred years, and it remains true to this day. In the future, too, we will not authenticate any more new Rinpoches.

His Holiness was very thankful to Rinpoche who came from Taiwan. Rinpoche has provided support for the construction and renovation of many Tibetan monasteries, not just one. Moreover, many of them are quite ancient, including Drikung Thil Monastery, which is both very famous and extremely old. On a past trip to Tibet, Rinpoche sponsored the project of covering with tin sheets on the roof of the Canons Library, situated at top of the monastery. Later he found that this was not good enough, so the tin was changed to copper. In the end the copper was in turn replaced with gold-plating. This was no easy task; such a renovation required an enormous sum of money, especially given the fact that Rinpoche was still rebuilding other parts of this monastery. Furthermore, the guru continued to make financial contributions to Jangchubling Monastery on an annual basis. Now we do not require such large sums of money for construction projects in Dehra Dun; however, there is still a great need to rebuild monasteries in Tibet, so Rinpoche has continued to infuse funds for that purpose.

The Phagmo Drupa Center serves not only as the core of the Drikung Kagyu Order but also as a center for the Kagyupa; they all pay homage to this Buddhist center. Currently, Rinpoche hopes to construct a three-story statue of Shakyamuni Buddha at the Phagmo Drupa Center. In order to build it, the guru has prepared a large sum of money in Taiwan; however, because the Chinese government keeps extremely tight restrictions on money transferred from overseas into Tibet, Rinpoche was able to send the funds for the construction of the Buddha’s statue to Tibet by way of the relevant Chinese government agency.

Similarly, Rinpoche also hopes to renovate a monastery in the Kham district, the birthplace of the Dharma Lord Glorious Jewel Kyobpa Jigten Sumgön. Furthermore, by way of subsidizing the China National Tourism Administration, His Holiness and Rinpoche are planning on gradually building a museum there, as well as renovating other monasteries in the area. Public libraries and museums are very important for the local people. Rinpoche has made great deal of contributions. Thus, these are the primary ways in which Rinpoche has contributed and provided assistance in Tibet and India.

His Holiness did not originally plan on constructing such a large temple here. Near the present site of this monastery there used to be a few pagodas, as well as a terrace commemorating King Gesar. At the time His Holiness instructed the monks to just build a small temple, and then went to India. Upon returning to Ladakh the following year, His Holiness discovered that the monks had removed the pagodas, the terrace, and all related objects, and in their place had built a large temple. Its construction and so on had all been completed according to His Holiness’s design, and the result was a great and truly elegant temple decorated with beautiful, stately paintings. However, when viewing such a large temple, people might give rise to prideful thoughts; this is no good, and goes against the teachings of Buddhism. This is a very good temple, and was only completed as the result of everyone’s hard work and contributions. Therefore, His Holiness thanked everyone, and stated that the merits resulting from the temple’s construction would be passed down through generation after generation.

After reporting the above teachings spoken by His Holiness during the puja, the disciple said that in fact Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had actually provided more than US$74,000 in support for Phyang Monastery, and that Rinpoche had made every effort to contribute to multiple monasteries of the Drikung Kagyu Order across Tibet and India. A sponsorship amount of US$170,000 or more was given to each monastery.

One year he accompanied Rinpoche to Tibet and met a great Rinpoche of the Drikung Kagyu Order. Crying, this great Rinpoche’s mother asked him, “Why does Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche keep getting thinner and thinner?” He answered that it was because the guru had performed the Phowa four times in a row within the same day. She told the disciples to take good care of Rinpoche, because more than half of the Order’s monasteries were supported by the guru!

In addition, when Rinpoche followed His Holiness out of the venue, Tibetan people flocked towards him imploring for blessings, lining the path for more than two kilometers. One by one, Rinpoche compassionately fulfilled the wishes of each of them, and upon seeing an elderly Tibetan in a wheelchair pushing from the crowd toward the car, Rinpoche told the driver to stop so that the guru might bestow a blessing upon him.

After the puja, one by one Rinpoche tirelessly went rounds of the hotels where the disciples were staying, asking if the disciples had eaten well and slept well, whether their rooms were clean or not, and whether any of them felt uncomfortable at all. While making the rounds, many tourists who had come to visit Ladakh from various countries, as well as employees of the hotels, approached Rinpoche one after another to implore for blessings. There was even a hotel which planned not to cook meat for a week because of having received the puja group. Rinpoche blessed all of the believers indiscriminately—no matter what country they were from, what religious beliefs they held, or which occupations they were engaged in. That day the guru blessed more than two or three hundred people. It was raining the whole time that Rinpoche made his tour around the hotels. Local residents said it had not rained in three or four months; the arrival of this grand practitioner had brought sweet showers to benefit local sentient beings.

The second disciple shared that during the puja His Holiness had given everyone a special explanation of the meaning of “Rinpoche,” saying that in Tibetan the word meant “treasure.” To be given the title of Rinpoche meant that the practitioner was extremely important and precious, and had never stopped practicing in this lifetime. Rinpoches are not necessarily reincarnated; there are also those who have achieved the attainment in this lifetime. This disciple said that she herself did not understand Tibetan, but that she had heard the English interpreter say, “very, very, very, very, very important and precious”—using the word “very” five times, meaning such a practitioner was extremely, exceedingly important, and considerably precious. His Holiness went on to state that practitioners who had cultivated the attainment of becoming a Rinpoche in this lifetime kept practicing their whole lives, meaning that not once would they stop practicing the Dharma in this lifetime. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche cultivated this attainment in this lifetime, and His went on to explain that Drubwang Rinpoche had achieved the title of Rinpoche through cultivation in this lifetime as well. To be sure, everyone in the Drikung Kagyu Order has heard of Drubwang Rinpoche; Drubwang Rinpoche was one of the Order’s great Rinpoches, but has already passed away. Therefore, the only Han-Chinese Rinpoche currently living who has cultivated the title of Rinpoche in this lifetime is our own Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and as such he can serve as a role model.

Even reincarnated Rinpoches must continue to practice in this lifetime, be authenticated by a guru, and be formally enthroned before they can enjoy the title of “Rinpoche;” otherwise, they are given the title of “Tulku,” which in Tibetan means “Emanation Body.” Thus, it is not because people are reincarnated practitioners they can call themselves “Rinpoche.” Finally, His Holiness purposely explained to everyone that if you want to learn from a reincarnated Rinpoche, you must first determine whether or not they have met three conditions. The first is that the Rinpoche must have their monastery; the second is that they must have a history of reincarnations; the third is that the lineage must be pure. This disciple mentioned that she had spent more than twenty years in another Buddhist center. She would not criticize it, but one of the lesser lamas who used to play with everyone at the time had suddenly become a Rinpoche, a transformation that was very difficult for her to acknowledge and get used to.

This disciple said that attaining the fruition level of a Rinpoche would only count if a guru held a public enthroning ceremony for the practitioner. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was enthroned and authenticated as a Rinpoche by His Holiness. Furthermore, many practitioners in the Order such as Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche, Yunga Rinpoche, Drubwang Rinpoche, and an old ani who was more than 120 years old, also attained the fruition level of a Rinpoche in this lifetime, but have all passed away already. Of the Rinpoches currently in the Drikung Kagyu Order, only Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has attained the fruition level of a Rinpoche in this lifetime.

During the pujas on the first two days after arriving at Ladakh the weather was blistering hot, and there was not a cloud in the sky. The disciples opened umbrellas and wore hats, yet still could not ward off the sun; everyone felt on the verge of suffering a heat stroke. On the third day, Rinpoche asked her if it seemed to her that the layers of clouds were somewhat different or not. Only then did it dawn on her that they were indeed different; in complete contrast with the previous two days, the clouds were very thick. In addition, a gentle, cool breeze was blowing which made everyone participating in the puja feel much more comfortable, as if they were in an air-conditioned room. Rinpoche said that the day before, during the puja, he had implored for this on behalf of sentient beings, because the guru had been afraid everyone would bake in the sun due to not being adapted to the climate. Moreover, the guru had also instructed the travel agency to bring tea from Taiwan which had been prepared according to his family’s secret recipe and was good for relieving the summer heat. Rinpoche told everyone how to brew it, what time to put in which medicinal herbs, and exhorted that they must drink it every day. As soon as they drank it down, it did indeed taste absolutely wonderful, and all of their excess body heat was quenched. Rinpoche really treats the disciples as a stern but loving parent.

While waiting at Leh Kushok Bakula Rimpochhe Airport prior to leaving Ladakh, even though from their vantage point they could not see Rinpoche walk in, they already suspected that the guru had arrived at the airport. Why did she suspect as much? It was because right at that moment a pair of extremely broad rainbows appeared, rising steeply from the ground. She immediately asked the airport employees to allow her to go outside to take a look. She saw a rainbow climbing straight up from the tarmac, only ten meters from where she stood. It was about a meter wide, and seven colors could clearly be discerned: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and purple. There was yet another rainbow very close by, but this one was only half a meter wide. For other rainbows she had seen before they had all been very far away, stretched across the distant horizon. Now, these two rainbows were very close; they rose up from the ground to span the sky, finally spreading across the entire Ladakh area very perfectly while secondary rainbows appeared with each of them. In the past she had often heard that wherever a grand practitioner goes an auspicious sign is sure to appear. At the time she had not been convinced, but over the past few years she had been fortunate enough to follow Rinpoche and continuously participate in the pujas; each one of these had coincided with a halo around the sun or moon, and every time a rainbow had appeared. After so many such occurrences she could not but to believe. Rinpoche truly is a grand practitioner.

After pujas had ended, Rinpoche led some of the disciples to a holiday resort. Originally she thought this meant they were now on vacation, but Rinpoche was not there to go on vacation; as always, the guru would go to liberate sentient beings. One day after lunch Rinpoche went for a walk outdoors, and she was lucky enough to keep pace behind the guru. A local caretaker was leading the way. They walked to a place nearby called Air Palace, which was like a sort of pavilion; a flat roof was propped up by a few columns, and all four sides of the pavilion were open to the air. Next, Rinpoche began to perform the Dharma in this location.

As this disciple listened to Rinpoche perform the Dharma and chant mantras, the sound of guru’s voice surrounded them, its resonance lingering as if to envelop them within a vajra bell. However, the Air Palace was an open space; the ceiling overhead was flat. Only had it been a dome would the guru’s voice have been able to resonate; logically speaking, there should not have been echoes from a flat ceiling like that—rather, the sounds should have radiated directly outward. However, all the disciples present had felt the resonance of Rinpoche’s voice. When the guru emitted the last syllable of the mantra, time and space seemed to come to a stand-still, and the once hazy air immediately turned clear and bright. At the same time all of the disciples felt hot, and drops of sweat as big as beans were streaming from their bodies.

Right then she became aware that the caretaker, who because of his own religious beliefs had not given rise to respect toward Rinpoche, had suddenly become extremely reverent. Because his uncle was a shaman, the caretaker himself was able to feel, know, and see things; after watching Rinpoche perform the Dharma, his attitude immediately transformed into one of extreme respect. After the perfect completion of the Dharma, Rinpoche asked the caretaker, “There are a lot of Indian temples over there, correct?” With much reverence and a hint of surprise, the caretaker answered, “Yes.” Rinpoche said that a moment ago, while the guru had been performing the Dharma, many Indian ghosts and deities of various ranks had come from that direction to be liberated by the guru. The ones in front had been the greatest, including the Hindu God Shiva. Behind Shiva were the medium-ranked ones, including a warrior-like deity who was pulled by two horses in front and held a longsword. Behind these followed the lower ranked ghosts and deities. Hindu ghosts and deities of all different ranks had all come to be liberated by the Dharma being performed by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

Afterward, Rinpoche told these three disciples that what they had felt at the time was completely different from the other two believers; for example, in the end they had felt hot and had perspired with droplets of sweat the size of beans. The other two believers, however, had felt gust after gust of an ill wind. This was because the disciples who had taken refuge were protected.

The next day, the caretaker reported to Rinpoche that a new baby had been born into his elder brother’s household, and implored for the guru to bestow a name upon the child. What did this signify? For a person of another religion to implore for Rinpoche to name his family’s baby, it meant that they had profound faith and allegiance to the guru. Just imagine: Unless you admired the practitioner greatly, would you ask a practitioner of another religion to come up with a name for your child?

Rinpoche who teaches everyone Buddhism on a weekly basis truly is a grand practitioner, and just as His Holiness said, is very, very precious. Everyone should cherish Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche very, very much; you must not go into a treasure-trove and come away empty-handed: If you have an opportunity to participate in the pujas, then do not simply cultivate good fortune of the Human and Heaven Realms instead of practicing diligently while following Rinpoche. You all should encourage each other to practice Buddhism in the footsteps of the guru so that you can be liberated from life and death, and furthermore, so that you can help other sentient beings be liberated from life and death as well. Otherwise you are too unworthy of Rinpoche.

The third disciple shared that he had had the fortune to fly with Rinpoche from Delhi to Ladakh, and that it had been smooth flight the entire way, without any turbulence at all. The day before, instabilities in the weather had grounded all flights; the next day, however, and only because Dorjee Rinpoche was on board, the flight had transpired without a hitch.

With gratitude in his voice, he said that during this trip he had been fortunate enough to remain at Rinpoche’s side. The entire way he had witnessed the guru’s unwillingness to abandon sentient beings. Rinpoche compassionately fulfilled the wishes of any sentient beings in need that came forward to implore for blessings.

Rinpoche had once admonished him, asking why he had not shared with everyone what the location of the guru’s seat during the puja meant. For that reason the disciple would share it with everyone here. During this particular puja, sitting next to His Holiness was His Eminence Togden Rinpoche, and next was Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, seated upon two cushions at the same height as Togden Rinpoche. This indicated the high fruition level cultivated by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. During the puja, before His Holiness had taken a seat, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche stood by respectfully, only taking a seat after His Holiness was seated and had signaled for him to sit down. From this it can be seen the attentiveness and the great degree of respect Rinpoche holds for His Holiness, all of which the disciples should strive to emulate.

During lunch time in His Holiness’s lounge, the attendants first served His Holiness and then served Rinpoche. Rinpoche’s meal was first handed over to his attendant who then presented it to the guru. Lastly, the meal was served to His Eminence Togden Rinpoche who was also in the lounge. The high fruition level cultivated by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche can also be seen in the order in which the attendants served lunch.

The fourth disciple shared that only after being fortunate enough to accompany Rinpoche on this puja trip to Ladakh had she begun to realize a little what was meant on the Dharma CDs by “Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, no different from the Buddha”, mentioned by Dharma brothers. The meaning of these words was very clear; it meant that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was a Buddha. The following experiences tell of how she came to realize this fact.

After pujas in Ladakh had ended, everyone boarded the airplane and flew from Ladakh to Dehra Dun. The plane was southbound, flying against a northwardly blowing wind. As such, it would be reasonable to suppose such a flight would have been very bumpy, but instead it had been quite smooth. Not long after taking off, the plane climbed up above the layers of clouds, and the first thing that could be seen below was a beautiful sea of cloud. At the time the weather was great: blue sky, white clouds. Suddenly, many of the Dharma brothers who were sitting in window seats began to exclaim repeatedly in surprise. Atop the ocean of clouds everyone could see a huge, multi-colored circle, and in the middle of it was the shadow of the aircraft in which they all were flying. As the airplane continued forward, the rainbow-colored corona and the shadow in its middle followed, moving along with the plane. It really was an amazing sight, a phenomenon completely beyond the scope of physics; due to the angle of view, after the plane had flown some distance, shouldn’t everyone have been unable to see the rainbow-colored circle? However, it moved along with the airplane.

Afterward, when a disciple asked Rinpoche to explain this phenomenon, the guru said that in order to take care of the disciples and sentient beings Rinpoche had visualized the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas blessing the aircraft. The Buddha’s light had surrounded the plane, allowing it to fly smoothly. When thinking about it with our human brains, we were under the impression that what we were seeing was a rainbow, when in fact the multi-colored circle witnessed by the disciples was not at all an ordinary rainbow; it was the Buddha’s light, reflecting from the cloudbanks as it shielded the airplane throughout the duration of its flight. This is how meticulously Rinpoche cares for the disciples and sentient beings; at any given moment, the guru uses such great abilities and compassion to protect sentient beings, and this is only something a Buddha can do.

While in Ladakh, the Glorious Jewel disciples were split up to stay in eleven different hotels. After pujas were finished, Rinpoche tirelessly went rounds of each hotel to make sure the disciples had eaten well and slept well, had clean rooms in which to stay, and were suffering no discomfort. As the guru made the rounds, many tourists who had come to Ladakh from various countries, as well as employees of the hotels, approached one after another to implore for Rinpoche’s blessings. The guru blessed each one of them indiscriminately, regardless of his or her nationality, religious beliefs, or profession. One of these instances left an especially deep impression on the disciple. A middle-aged woman in her fifties or sixties from Calcutta was staying at one of the hotels. When Rinpoche arrived to make rounds of that particular hotel, she did as the other believers did; she approached to implore for the guru’s blessings. Afterward, however, she did not leave right away; rather, she withdrew to stand next to the Dharma photo of Rinpoche that had been set up next to the counter, and there she quietly waited.

When Rinpoche was about to leave the hotel, on the way out the door the guru suddenly turned, walked over to the middle-aged woman, and said to her in English, “Have your picture taken with this Dharma photo of mine, and place it in your home. I will protect you.” At once the woman’s face was wet with tears. Thanking Rinpoche profusely, she said, “My heart is full of joy and happiness. Thank you!”

This disciple felt very curious as to whether this woman had ever heard of Rinpoche before, so after the guru left, she approached the middle-aged woman to have a chat with her. It turned out she had not known of Rinpoche beforehand. Later, after chatting further with the woman, Dharma brothers who were staying in the same hotel as she was learned that she was a Hindu, and that in her mind she had a major guru who had instructed her to go to Ladakh and told her that she would encounter a person of high rank at a certain time and place. The whole way there, she had had a mental image of a ray of light guiding her to the person of high rank she had been told to meet, and that person had been Rinpoche, who had said to her, “I will protect you!” The woman had come from a faraway estuary of the Ganges River near Calcutta on the east coast of India, journeying all the way to Ladakh in India’s northwestern border region just to meet face to face with this person of high rank, Rinpoche. By comparison the Glorious Jewel disciples were extremely fortunate in that they could listen to Rinpoche’s Dharma teachings every Sunday at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center! Everywhere Rinpoche went, the guru blessed sentient beings in need; how was this any different from a Buddha liberating sentient beings? His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is himself a Buddha!

Some of the disciples stayed in a holiday resort for a few days after pujas in India. This disciple thought to herself that Rinpoche should have a rest there, too! However, she knew she was gravely mistaken; a Buddha was always liberating sentient beings according to their causal conditions. You all heard the story shared by the Dharma brother earlier; Rinpoche even liberated such Hindu deities as Shiva and so on. In the holiday resort there were peacocks, and she heard that one of them had entered the courtyard in front of the villa in which Rinpoche was staying. The guru had fed it, and it had not run away; not only had it accepted the food Rinpoche had proffered, but it had even spread its tail for the guru. Everyone knows it is not easy for humans to get close to birds; they usually fly off as soon as a person tries to approach. This is even more typical of a bird species such as the peacock. Thus, even this peacock at the holiday resort sensed that Rinpoche was no ordinary human being, but rather a grand practitioner, and as such had let the guru to feed it. Therefore, what else could Rinpoche be but a Buddha or a Bodhisattva? Only the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can form such an affinity with sentient beings! Furthermore, in the sutras it is written that a peacock spreading its tail is imbued with great significance. Because she had never read such sutras, she hoped to have an opportunity to ask an ordained practitioner to explain to everyone what was so auspiciously significant about a peacock spreading its tail.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne to bestow precious Buddhist teachings upon the attendees, and performed the auspicious Chod of the Drikung Kagyu Order.

The Dharma to be performed for everyone today is the Chod, one of the Eight Sadhana Teachings in Tibetan Tantra. The Tibetan word “Chod” translates to “break.” First, one must break oneself from reincarnation; second, one must break oneself from afflictions, and use one’s Dharma wisdom to help other sentient beings break the roots that tie them to all afflictions. Sentient beings fall into reincarnation because they give rise to afflictions and become attached to them; performing this Dharma can help sentient beings to break themselves from all afflictions which would cause them to reincarnate. While performing the Chod, a practitioner uses visualization to offer his or her body to sentient beings, and that practitioner ‘s body cannot have any protection in place. Thus, a practitioner performing the Chod must first have cultivated the compassion of emptiness.

Some people out there tell people who are ill that they should recite the Buddha’s name; they even say to such people that they absolutely have to do it to obtain benefits. What does “recite the Buddha’s name to obtain benefits” mean? That person’s obviously sick already, so how do you propose they do it? Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has gone right through the sutras, and nowhere are the words “recite the Buddha’s name to obtain benefits” mentioned. In the sutras it is written that one must recite the Buddha’s name wholeheartedly and be constantly mindful of Buddha Amitabha. If you tell a sick person to recite the Buddha’s name to obtain benefits, then that person might practice awhile. In the end, however, deep down, they will definitely think about how to obtain benefits. To recite even harder, right? If that were the case, then how could that person recite the Buddha’s name wholeheartedly, or be constantly mindful of Buddha Amitabha? In the Amitabha Sutra it is written that the first to the tenth recitations should all be Amitabha; that does not mean reciting it ten times, but rather from the moment a thought ends to just prior to the next thought arising, and from the moment before passing away to the moment afterward, one’s thoughts should all be of Amitabha. Only if one thinks of nothing else can they be reborn in the Pure Land. How many people are able to do that? The Amitayurdhyana Sutra does not mention that one must recite the Buddha’s name to obtain benefits, either; all it says is that those who wish to be reborn in the Pure Land must be persons of great benevolence who possess good fortune, merits, causes, and conditions.

Therefore, don’t casually use your own interpretations to tell a sick person such things; if you must, then tell that person by directly quoting from the sutras. If they cannot do it, then at least it is out of your hands, because it is written in the sutras. If you want to help the deceased with a recitation, you should not recite awhile and then stop to see if an auspicious sign has manifested on the deceased, or whether a Buddha or Bodhisattva has come to receive them; nor should you recite for the purpose of receiving an offering. Your mindset while reciting should come from a sincere hope that the deceased will benefit from it; the purpose of helping the deceased with a recitation is to allow the deceased to recover their pure, original nature as the result of hearing the Buddha’s name, and be able to receive the Dharma. In Tibetan Buddhist terms, one should speak to the deceased according to the method outlined in the Tibetan Book of the Dead, a text which only exists in Tibet; it does not exist in Han Chinese areas. Lamas who wish to perform the ritual of liberation have to have read the Tibetan Book of the Dead before. It lists the specific things that must be spoken into the deceased’s ear on the first, second, seventh, and fourteenth days after the deceased passes away. There are rules for all of this; it cannot be done haphazardly the way many folks out there do, doing whatever they want. Liberating the deceased is not as simple as you would imagine.

The “compassion” referred to in Buddhism can only be explained in Sanskrit and Chinese; it cannot be explained using English or any other language. The two Chinese characters that make up the word, “ci” and “bei,” are two different things. Ci means you can be fine with not wanting anything for yourself, you’re your willingness to trade the best of yourself for the worst of sentient beings. This is something none of you can achieve; you would not even be able to let go of your own possessions, let alone give the best of yourselves to sentient beings. This expression does not mean that if you help cure someone of their illness then that illness will then transfer over to your body; you won’t get cancer from helping a cancer patient. Nor does it mean that helping a divorced person will cause you yourself to have a divorce. Rather, to give an example, let’s say you want to help someone who does not have enough money to get something to eat: You can only help that person by cooking, or buying something, for them to eat if you yourself have money, right? This is not ci; it is simply an analogy. A practitioner must have good fortune in order to help sentient beings. If the practitioner gives their good fortune to sentient beings, they will cease to suffer; this is how one exchanges something good of oneself for something bad of the sentient beings.

In order to cultivate ci, in Buddhist terms, you must be willing to practice Buddhism with your own life. Some people might say, “I am willing to give something good of myself to others;” however, ci does not simply mean that alone. An example of cultivating ci is like how Shakyamuni Buddha once carved off His own flesh to feed a hawk in order to save a dove, or how in another lifetime Shakyamuni Buddha jumped into a tigress’s lair so that she could eat Him and thus be able to produce milk to feed her young. Not one of you would be able to do this; only someone who had attained at least the Bodhisattva of the Third to the Fifth Ground could achieve such a thing. You are now unable to attain the state cultivated by Shakyamuni Buddha, but still your attitude must be such that you wish to emulate Shakyamuni Buddha’s completely selfless virtue without asking for anything in return. Just as the disciple who got on stage to share his experience a little while ago said, Rinpoche has extended help to many monasteries; however, after helping them, Rinpoche then forgets and completely stops thinking about it. If some people wish to praise the guru for his help, let them do so. His Holiness says Rinpoche is always quietly doing things; in Exoteric Buddhist terms, this is an exemplification of the Threefold Wheel of Essential Emptiness. Rinpoche would never bother to remember having made offerings or given to charity at all.

Some people enjoy helping children who have no chance to get education. They hope that in the future they will be able to see these kids become successful, and that afterward the kids will send them thank-you cards. This is an example of asking for something in return. Helping someone because seeing that person happy makes you feel good is yet another example of seeking something in return. Any virtuous act done while hoping for something in return is contrived; this is not the ci spoken of in Buddhism, and all it can do is help you accumulate a little bit of good fortune of the Human and Heaven Realms for future use. Without the ci of wanting nothing in return, one cannot help sentient beings to truly fix their problems. In fact, there is no need to hope for something in return, because as long as your intention is to benefit others, then your efforts are certain to have an effect. You do not need to think about how much you can do to help someone, or whether or not you have done enough. Why did the Hindu deities also appear when Rinpoche was performing the Dharma in India? It was because they knew Rinpoche wanted nothing in return; they came because they were moved by the power of the guru’s compassion. They chose. This is nothing like you, who go worshipping all over the place willy-nilly.

You might wonder why the Hindu deities would appear to accept Buddhism. Actually, the Hindu deities are sentient beings from the Heaven Realm. It is recorded in the sutras that on multiple occasions Shakyamuni Buddha taught Dharma in the Heaven Realm, which is the reason these ghosts and deities would come over to get liberated. Anyone, regardless of their religion, can receive help from Dharma; the only requirement is to come and participate. Some people say that being Christians, they are afraid that their God will punish them if they come to participate in a Buddhist puja. Rinpoche stated that if this God were a good God, then He would not stop you from coming to receive help from Buddhism. If He cannot solve your problems, and someone else can, He would know that participating in the puja would be helpful to you. If He punishes you for doing this, then He is not a God.

When Rinpoche performed the Dharma in India, the sky was originally sunny and cloudless. As soon as the guru began to chant mantras, black clouds moved in and the sky immediately grew dark. As soon as the Dharma was finished, these black clouds dispersed, and the sky recovered its blue color from before. The black clouds that appeared were sentient beings coming forward. For a practitioner without sufficient compassion or powers of meditation, upon seeing such a drastic change in the weather if one thought came to mind—that the sky had darkened—the Dharma that practitioner was performing would not be effective. The sheer number of ghosts and deities that swarmed over that day was no trivial matter; you would not be able to imagine how many there were.

Only after having cultivated ci can one then cultivate bei. “Bei” does not mean crying miserably or being full of sorrow; rather, a Bodhisattva does not feel that they are liberating sentient beings, or is any different from sentient beings. A Bodhisattva can empathize with the suffering sentient beings endure as the result of reincarnation, and thus can commiserate and feel compassion for them. When liberating sentient beings, a Bodhisattva does not think of themselves as a Bodhisattva, or feel any sense of superiority. Instead, a Bodhisattva feels empathy, and feels the same as sentient beings. When sentient beings suffer, the Bodhisattva feels the exact same pain. This is what is known as “the great compassion of the equal body;” the point is to help sentient beings leave their suffering behind. Bei means having the ability to help sentient beings transcend from the suffering sea of reincarnation.

The practitioner performing the Chod must first practice Exoteric Buddhism for ten years, mastering the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices, and being verified by their guru after receiving oral transmission, empowerment, and completing chanting the mantra of the yidam while in retreat. You must attain the compassion of emptiness before you can help to liberate sentient beings; of the Mahamudra’s Dharma methods of meditation you must at least have reached the Simplicity Yoga stage; or, you must at least have mastered the first of the Four Meditation Heavens. For a practitioner who has attained this level of cultivation, all worldly affairs are like a game; they will not have any attachments or afflictions. Not having any attachments does not mean that the practitioner does not want this thing, that thing, or anything at all; nor does it mean that the practitioner will never give rise to any afflictions whatsoever. Rather, even if something happens which causes afflictions to arise, the practitioner understands very clearly that all the gratitude, grudges, emotions, and hatred in the world are nothing more than dust in the wind. Such a practitioner will not become attached to any worldly thing, for they know that everything is born out of and ceases with cause and condition. It does not matter whether affinity arises or disappears forever; the practitioner will still not form any attachments at all.

Some people say you should perform the Chod in a graveyard, because that way you can test your courage when encountering ghosts. Actually, there are no graveyards in India and Tibet. In the Dharma texts there is mention of performing the Chod in the Eight Great Cool Groves, but this refers to locations where cremations and sky-burials are held. The reason for going to such places to perform the Chod is that there are a relatively large number of ghosts in need of help there; the purpose is not to test one’s courage, but rather to train a practitioner to cultivate compassion. Compassion is the foundation of Buddhism. A practitioner who has attained the fruition level of a Bodhisattva would not be afraid of ghosts; such a practitioner is as is described in the sutras: Fearless. Because a practitioner who has attained the Bodhisattva Path gives everything of themselves to all sentient beings, they would therefore not be afraid of being harmed by them. Upon seeing a ghost, the practitioner would wish to give assistance according to that sentient being’s causal conditions; how could the practitioner feel afraid? Furthermore, once you have cultivated compassion, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will give praise, coming forward to bless and protect you; how, then, could you be harmed?

There are two types of Dharma texts used for the Chod: one is for one’s own cultivation, and the other is to be performed for sentient beings. This is different from Exoteric Buddhism. There are two types of Dharma texts for all Tantra—one for self-cultivation and the other to be performed for others. Tantric practitioners must first master the self-cultivation Dharma text to perfect completion, and practice it in retreat until a sign attuned with the yidam appears. This sign is an indication that the practitioner has achieved attainment in this Dharma, and only then can they perform it for the benefit of others. There are some places out there that will have a sick person lie down and make an offering of their body while performing the Dharma. Such a thing is recorded in the Dharma texts; its origin lies in the fact that during Chods of the past, it used to be the case that an offering of the body of one who had recently passed away was made to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and as alms given to sentient beings. Later, this gradually evolved into having sick attendees lie down to give alms of their bodies, and the reasoning behind this was that such offerings and giving alms would help those people to recover from their illnesses. However, the Chod must be performed for forty-five minutes to an hour at least; during such a period of time, a person lying down would certainly give rise to many thoughts. Sentient beings from the Ghost Realm all have a ghost’s awareness, so they know these thoughts are of no benefit to them; this is instead bad for the person lying down. For this reason, Rinpoche makes offerings, and gives alms, of his own body on behalf of everyone while performing the Dharma. Today more than a thousand people have come to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to participate in the Chod Puja. With so many people here, it is crowded enough just with everyone sitting; there would not be enough room for you all to lie down. Not to mention, if you were actually made to lie down, you would fall asleep very easily.

In the sutras it is written that one should practice Buddhism with the ferocity of a lion. Buddhist practice is something that people of real character do, an undertaking for which real courage is required in order to succeed. You must not fear afflictions; you must get rid of your hindrances and forge bravely ahead. If you have come to practice Buddhism seeking blessings and protections, in the hopes that they will keep you healthy, your job to go smoothly, and your children to be obedient, then don’t bother coming anymore; you are welcome to go someplace else. Rinpoche only just returned from India on Friday, and on Saturday spent more than four hours receiving believers; today, Sunday, the guru is personally presiding over the Chod Puja. After participating in the pujas in India, the disciples thought the guru was in the hotel to relax and be on vacation. Rinpoche, however, was not; at all times the guru is constantly helping sentient beings. As long as there are sentient beings in need, Rinpoche will always bestow assistance upon them according to their causes and conditions. This year the guru is sixty-six years old, and could retire; Rinpoche has already practiced plenty enough to benefit himself. However, because His Holiness and the Order have not instructed Rinpoche to retire, instead he continues to spread Buddhist teachings. Don’t think the guru only helps this small group of people that includes you; don’t think he needs this Buddhist Center. For Rinpoche, the entire world is one big Buddhist center; the guru can go anywhere to propagate the Dharma. For some unknown reason more and more people keep coming to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center. Not once has Rinpoche ever advertised, so why is it so popular? Many people have been driven away, yet still there are more people in the Buddhist Center that it has seats for. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has never implored for Dharma Protector Achi to bring more people here; the guru has only ever implored Dharma Protector Achi to allow the Drikung Kagyu Lineage to spread to the four corners of the world and flourish.

The disciples who shared their experiences a little while ago let slip that on the last day of the trip Rinpoche performed the Dharma and bestowed blessings upon the entire staff of the hotel. Because the hotel employees had respectfully implored for assistance, the guru performed the Dharma for them. They did not make offerings to Rinpoche; the guru’s services were provided completely free of charge. Helping sentient beings is not done for donations; if a sentient being needs your assistance, you give it. Compassion means helping sentient beings in Emptiness, liberating them according to their conditions; it is not done for fame or gain.

The purpose of practicing Buddhism is not to live a good life in this lifetime; it is not done for the good fortune of the Human and Heaven Realms. Seeking good health, a family, and a career—none of these things is important, because they cannot help you. The purpose of practicing Buddhism is so that you can be liberated from life and death. The most important thing about the good fortune accumulated through your Buddhist practice is being able to put it to use before you pass away, so that while on your deathbed, because you have practiced Buddhism in the past, you will have the opportunity to not fall into the Evil Realms. Who of you here believes you will not pass away? Everyone dies eventually. If you wish to die with dignity, and not have to go through a lot of suffering, then be diligent in your Buddhist practice. Many of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center’s disciples are nurses, and if we had more time today, they could share their experiences with you just how undignified staying in an intensive care unit is. You are stripped naked from head to toe, tubes are stuck into you, and your family can only visit you at certain times of the day. The rest of the time you are left to face your plight alone; no matter whom you might call out for, no one will pay any attention to you. And when your family comes during visiting hours, what can they do? All they can do is tell you to hang in there, that you cannot die because such-and-such relative still hasn’t come to see you, etc. On the contrary, this makes you feel even worse. Your family cannot in fact help you at all.

Rinpoche joked that he was very shy, and for this reason did not wish to be exposed naked on his deathbed to be poked and prodded by young female nurses. Some of the gentlemen present might not be bothered by such lack of dignity; likewise, some of the ladies present might say, “It doesn’t matter; we’re all women after all.” However, some of the interns at the hospital are male, and will come to see you as part of their training; you’ll be fine as long as you don’t mind that. As described in the sutras, there is a hell where sentient beings are suffering by lying atop copper beds, and underneath them burns a very hot fire. These days the hospital beds are all made of metal; they just have a layer of cushioning on top, that’s all. Prior to passing away, if you lie on top of a metal sickbed, tied down with tubes sticking into your every orifice, it means you might fall into hell. Out of fear that a patient might pull these tubes out, the hospital ties the patient’s hands down. Do you want to have to endure this sort of suffering? If not, then you really need to listen to the Buddha’s teachings and be diligent in your practice. In the north there is a famous Buddhist center whose abbot, prior to passing away, was taken by his disciples to the hospital emergency room and back. Too attached to let go, they wanted to lay the abbot’s body down in an auspicious posture. Seeing that the abbot was already so terribly ill, yet still kept being moved back and forth like that, made Rinpoche feel truly sad indeed; after all, this abbot had been a genuine practitioner. Perhaps the reason he was jostled about like that before passing away was that he had too many disciples, or had received too many offerings. Even though he had not used those offerings for his own benefit, there still were ways in which they had been used improperly.

A little while ago a disciple shared that while in India, an elderly woman had traveled all the way from Calcutta to seek an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Why would the guru speak to her before leaving? It was because of the tears she had shed while receiving the guru’s blessings; they were very sincere, unlike yours, which are fake. The tears you cry are crocodile tears. Rinpoche had long foreseen that such a person would come from afar; you simply did not know it. Rinpoche told her that she could have her picture taken with the large Dharma photo of the guru, and said to her, “I will protect you.” This was because she had been born into this life as a Hindu, but had given rise to respect toward Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche; as a result, the guru had wanted to help her to have an opportunity to become a good Buddhist in the next life.

A little while ago the disciples also shared that during the puja Rinpoche implored for there to be more clouds in the sky, and as a result the layer of clouds had been thicker the following day. The guru had done this not solely for the sake of the disciples, but for the other people participating in the puja as well. Actually there was a roof over the spot in which Rinpoche was sitting during the puja, so the guru was sheltered from the sun; whether or not there were clouds in the sky did not affect Rinpoche. However, the guru’s every thought is for the benefit of sentient beings. From this you all should realize that every thought you give rise to during a puja is very important! Even if you are not the presiding guru, any thought that occurs during a puja—including those of the attendees—has an absolute cause and effect. If you give rise to a virtuous thought during the puja, it will produce virtuous energy; if you give rise to an evil thought, it will produce evil karmic retribution. Furthermore, this will be very powerful, and is certain to produce an effect in the future. Today you have come to participate in the puja, so you are the protagonists.

Cause and effect is unchanging. If you eat a mouthful of meat, your fortune will decrease a little. Rinpoche said modestly that with the tiny bit of cultivation he had attained, if the guru were to accidentally kill a bug, that same day a wound would open in his skin and the guru would bleed a little by way of immediate retribution. What does this mean? Even someone who has attained the fruition level of a Rinpoche still experiences cause and effect, but it can be repaid immediately, and can be paid off very quickly. You, on the other hand, do not want to pay anything back at all; all you want is to live the good life. In this way you’ll only be able to repay it after you have passed away, and that is tragic indeed! Therefore, it is useless for you to hope that after practicing Buddhism everything will change for the better, your family will be happy, your career will proceed without a hitch, or that your children will do well in school. Actually, as long as you achieve attainment, then during the twenty years before you pass away you will be allowed to see that nothing in the world can hinder your Buddhist practice.

A little while from now, when Rinpoche performs the Chod, the ghost of an Indian girl who committed suicide will come to be liberated. On this recent trip to India the caretaker of the hotel, wishing to test Rinpoche’s abilities, deliberately took the guru to a specific place in the hotel. The result was that the moment Rinpoche set foot in that location, he told the caretaker that a girl had once committed suicide in that exact spot. Only then was the caretaker totally convinced, confirming that this had indeed happened. All of the hotel’s employees knew about this female ghost, because she had often revealed herself to those of them working in the hotel. Some Glorious Jewel disciples had even seen her in that location while running around all over the place when staying there previously. The resentment of sentient beings who have met a violent death is very strong. It is very difficult for ordinary Dharma methods to provide any assistance to them, but the Chod is especially helpful to sentient beings who have heavy karma or who passed away under violent circumstances. Rinpoche told the ghost of that girl who killed herself that if she wished to be liberated by the guru, she should show up to today’s Chod Puja.

Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara stands for extreme compassion. In the Universal Gate Chapter it is mentioned that Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara comes to the rescue whenever the Bodhisattva hears of someone being in trouble, but actually Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara uses eyes of compassion to look at and observe sentient beings, and can thereby discern their suffering. Because the Buddha’s light illuminates all, bestowing blessings upon all sentient beings, it shines everywhere like the sun without exception or discrimination. All sentient beings have an affinity with Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara; as for whether or not a sentient being can strengthen this bond depends on what that sentient being decides. If a sentient being is willing to listen to the Buddha’s words, then it will solidify its affinity with Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Only then can Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara hear your cries for help and liberate you from the suffering sea of reincarnation.

A little while from now, while the Dharma is being performed, you must maintain a respectful, repentant, and compassionate mindset. Only by being respectful can you make offerings, accumulate good fortune, and let those sentient beings you would like to get liberated obtaining help from the Dharma. You must be repentant, because if you had not made mistakes, then you would not have been reborn into this lifetime. Being compassionate is necessary because you might have the good fortune and causal condition to come and participate in this puja, but there are many sentient beings who do not; you should feel compassion for these sentient beings, too. For any skeptical believers who have not taken refuge, or disciples who have newly taken refuge and who harbor doubts about the Chod, participation is useless. If you have just come here with a skeptical attitude, then the Dharma soon to be performed will not have anything to do with you either. Furthermore, even if your feet hurt or go numb, you should not fidget; if you keep moving around, Rinpoche will ask you to leave, for your movements will affect the people next to you. Rinpoche’s eyes are very sharp; you’d better believe it. Of course the guru will give you a few chances, but if you keep on moving, you will be asked to leave!

If your feet hurt it means your mind is wandering, there are too many thoughts in your head, you do not respect the Dharma, you are overly full of yourself, and you cannot endure hardship. Rinpoche is made of flesh and blood just like yourselves; on one point, however, the guru is truly different from you: As soon as anything to do with Buddhism is mentioned, Rinpoche grows extremely respectful. The guru started out as a believer, too, the same as you; in the beginning, Rinpoche sat down below the podium, too. When first participating in pujas, guru’s feet would become numb or start hurting as well. However, because ever since Rinpoche first started practicing the guru has always been extremely respectful toward the Dharma, every time the guru listened to the Dharma or participated in a puja he would always sit up straight without moving and put up with the pain. Actually, after enduring it for a while it passes. If you endure it for three or five minutes, the pain will pass, and afterward you will feel very comfortable. Another reason for your feet hurting is that you have eaten too much meat. Just think: How much flesh of sentient beings have you eaten since you started out in your mother’s womb? Another explanation is that you have poor blood circulation. The third explanation is that you are unable to endure hardship. If you cannot even endure this little bit of physical pain, then how is one to believe that you can endure the hardship of being on the Buddhist path? After having held pujas for so many years, Rinpoche has yet to see someone’s legs break from sitting cross-legged. Smiling, the guru said that such a thing may not have happened before, but there was no way of knowing what might happen in the future. If anyone really does get injured from sitting cross-legged, there is a doctor from the Glorious Jewel Chinese Medicine Clinic on the premises; he is an injury specialist, and can treat you for free.

The Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center has always had its disciples sit on the floor, because this is in accordance with what is written in the sutras. The Center has never allowed you to sit in chairs or eat here; if you cannot accept that, you are welcome to go someplace else. Ever since the days when Shakyamuni Buddha taught the Dharma, anyone listening has always sat on the floor or ground below the podium. Therefore, everyone at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center must sit on the floor. While participating in a puja, all sentient beings are equal. No matter what your status might be outside, or how much power or wealth you might own, all that is nothing more than good fortune you cultivated in your past lives; it is not directly related to Buddhism. If you cannot even let go of these things, it means you are still arrogant! Some Buddhist centers provide chairs; they allow you to be too comfortable. The Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center does not allow you to get so comfortable on purpose; you are made to endure pain a little bit so that you will appreciate the rarity and preciousness of the Dharma. Only then can you understand how to respect and cherish it.

While practicing Buddhism you must cultivate good fortune and wisdom at the same time. This is why you are all told every time you come to participate in a puja that you must be respectful, repentant, and compassionate. This is also related to cultivating the dual-practice of good fortune and wisdom; respect and repentance are the cultivation for good fortune, while compassion is the cultivation for wisdom. If you have not cultivated merits, then all that you learn, recite, and worship can only accumulate good fortune to be used in your future lives; it cannot transform the karma you have accumulated over this lifetime and your past lifetimes. Don’t think that karmic retribution will cease to occur after you begin practicing Buddhism. The Dharma cannot change your karma; all it can do is to teach you how. Only if you listen and do as you are told can you transform your karma. A guru’s purpose is to teach you how to cultivate good fortune and wisdom at the same time. That does not mean treating you with cheerful politeness all the time; in the sutras it is stated that in the Age of Degenerate Dharma there will be people who mislead believers with such flattery and sweet-talk. Rinpoche wants to help you identify your problems and leave reincarnation behind; the guru would not resort to flattery.

If, during the Dharma soon to be performed, your mind wanders or you become distracted by your thoughts, this is normal. When you give rise to wandering or distracting thoughts, you must remember Rinpoche’s teachings and give rise to a respectful, repentant, and compassionate mindset. If you replace these wandering thoughts with respect, repentance, and compassion, you will be fine. Thus, you are also taught a bit of meditation today, but you should not think meditation simply means sitting there not moving. If a table does not move, does that mean it is meditating? No. Meditation does not mean not to move; the main thing is that your mind is to focus on a single thought. If you think to yourself that you don’t want to think about anything, then this, too, is a thought; likewise, wanting to empty your mind of thoughts is a thought as well. Do not use thoughts to push down thoughts; you must go with the flow, practice according to the sequence taught in Buddhism, and cultivate compassion. While performing the Dharma, Rinpoche’s mind is focused on compassion, and is completely empty of all other thoughts. If this were not the case, then in a little while when the guru begins performing the Dharma, an ocean of sentient beings will surge forward, and without compassion a practitioner would be frightened by this. Performing the Dharma in such a state would be completely useless.

Today you have come to participate in the Chod Puja. It is completely up to Rinpoche to perform the Dharma for you, so while participating in the puja your attitude must be one of respect, repentance, and compassion. Only then will you be in accordance with the conditions laid out in the Dharma texts, and only then can Rinpoche help your karmic creditors of past lives and deceased ancestors to be liberated. Don’t think participating in one puja or doing just a little bit is enough. You think it is just you yourselves who have come to participate in the puja; actually, these bodies of ours are comprised of sentient beings, so where exactly is this so-called “self?” According to what is written in the sutras, there are many worms in our stomachs; there are many bugs in our eyebrows, eyelashes, and on our necks. These are what we call germs; it’s just that this word did not exist in the past. When you come to participate in the puja, it is actually these sentient beings that have come to participate in the puja. Your mindset while participating in the puja must be attuned to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; that is, you must give rise to the Bodhicitta to benefit sentient beings and hope that they can leave the suffering of reincarnation before you can help them. Rinpoche next stated that it was just about time, and would begin to perform the Dharma, because if the guru were to talk anymore people would become tired.

Rinpoche began to perform the auspicious Chod, taught the attendees the visualization method to be used while participating in the puja, and led them all in a recitation of the Great Six-Syllable Mantra that lasted a very long time.

After performing the Dharma, Rinpoche stated that everything had come to a perfect completion in today’s puja. In unison all of the attendees expressed their gratitude to Rinpoche. The guru went on to say that after performing the Dharma, a prayer is recited from the Dharma texts. In it was a line that all the girls would enjoy hearing: “We pray for a healthy, happy youth.” You should not think practicing Buddhism means adhering to a lot of restrictions, or that after practicing it there will be many things you are not allowed to do. Buddhism does not say that you may not socialize; nor does it say that you may not marry. In the end, practicing Buddhism would make you feel quite at ease. There are actually many advantages to practicing Buddhism of which you are not aware. You often talk about how busy you are. Rinpoche is a lay practitioner; no matter how busy you might be, none of you can possibly be as busy as the guru is. Every week Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche makes time to come to the Buddhist Center to bestow teachings upon you all. It is only right that you should be diligent in your Buddhist practice; you should not think that you only have time to practice once you’ve finished doing something or other. Actually, practicing Buddhism is of benefit to oneself, and it can also benefit others; there are many good things about it. Without Buddhism, this life would be meaningless.

Some people might say Rinpoche may help them if they have died, but the guru will die, too; if Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did not say “I will protect you” to them, then what will they do when the end comes? People who truly devote themselves to their Buddhist practice are extremely rare; when a practitioner cultivates Buddhism wholeheartedly, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will all come forward to give their protection and blessings. For you to be able to encounter a Rinpoche who has achieved attainment in this lifetime is a very rare thing; if you miss this opportunity, and because Rinpoche is getting older as well, in the future you will be hard-pressed to find a practitioner who will help you.

According to what is written in the sutras, if one truly wishes to liberate the deceased, then the practitioner reciting sutras for the deceased must perform the purifying precepts and an ablution, change to new clothing, and burn incense. Only after completing these rituals, can sutras be recited for the deceased, and this needs to continue for at least three months; only then can the deceased be liberated. Just now you watched Rinpoche perform the liberating ritual; you might think it looked very simple, but actually prior to this step the guru had already performed many, many prerequisites.

After performing the ritual of Dharma of Protector Achi and the dedication prayer, Rinpoche went on to say that before encountering His Holiness, he had practiced Exoteric Buddhism. Back then Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had read theAvatamsaka Sutra three times, theRatnakuta Sutra twice, and half of theGreat Prajna Sutra; on a daily basis Rinpoche chanted the Great Compassion Mantra between fourteen and forty-nine times, meditated for forty-five minutes, read the Universal Gate Chapter three times, and recited the sacred name Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara ten thousand times. Rinpoche was already far more diligent than all of you present; however, still the guru felt unable to attain the state described in the sutras, find answers to questions about the universe and himself, gain control over his life and death, or use the Dharma to benefit sentient beings. Though Rinpoche acted according to his then guru’s teachings, still he found he had no way of possessing the abilities recorded in the sutras. This continued until he encountered His Holiness and learned Tantra; only then did Rinpoche gain any real understanding. After practicing for a short time, you think things have changed for the better and you do not have any afflictions anymore; as a result you think you have achieved attainment. But it only counts if you cultivate abilities that can change the current situation such as making the wind blow and the rain fall, or causing clouds to come just by praying for it to happen, just like this recent time in Ladakh when Rinpoche implored for the layers of clouds to thicken.

Rinpoche started out by practicing Exoteric Buddhism, and did this until he formed an affinity with His Holiness in 1983. In 1986 Rinpoche began learning Tantra from the His Holiness, and in 1997 His Holiness held a public enthronement for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in the monastery. “Enthronement” does not refer to sitting on a throne; it is a special ritual in Tibetan Buddhism. When a practitioner achieves the fruition level of a Rinpoche, a khenpo, and so on, the practitioner’s guru must enthrone them in a public venue within the monastery in front of the fourfold assembly. Therefore, it is different from how some folks out there casually take a bell and a vajra and privately claim that they are a Rinpoche or a khenpo; in Tibetan Buddhism an enthronement ceremony is absolutely necessary, at it must be carried out publicly and in front of the fourfold assembly. It doesn’t count if someone says in private that they has attained certain fruition level.

Ever since 1997, His Holiness has instructed Rinpoche to go into retreat in India every year. From that time onward Rinpoche has done so, sometimes for as short a time as one month or for as long as two to three months. Whenever His Holiness wants Rinpoche to go into retreat, Rinpoche drops everything and goes into retreat without saying anything further. While in retreat, the guru cannot speak, shower, cut his hair, shave, trim his fingernails, and so on; he must sever all contact with the outside world, and wholeheartedly focus his mind on practicing the Dharma until it he has finished chanting the mantra of the yidam of retreat for a specified number of times.

In 2007 His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang instructed Rinpoche to go into retreat on the holy mountain of Lapchi, and only after the perfect completion of the retreat did His Holiness publicly authenticate Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s attainment of the fruition level of a Rinpoche, and bestow upon him the Dharma name of “Rinchen Dorjee.” It was not until this year (2013) that His Holiness spoke in public that a Rinpoche did not necessarily have to be reincarnated. In these past thirty years, not once has Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ever stopped practicing, and he has always practiced naturally without arguing or seeking anything in return, practicing in accordance with the sequence taught to him by His Holiness. No matter what His Holiness taught, Rinpoche always acted accordingly; not once did he ever think he would become a Rinpoche. Actually, many years ago there was a time when Rinpoche followed His Holiness to Lantau Island in Hong Kong. At the time His Holiness told several ordained practitioners that a Rinpoche was not necessarily incarnated, and that becoming a Rinpoche was an attainment that could be achieved in this lifetime, too. When Rinpoche heard these words, he did not give much thought to it; he simply thought His Holiness was talking to them.

It took thirty years for His Holiness to authenticate Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s fruition level. In other words, there is no way in the remaining lifetime of His Holiness to groom another Rinpoche, and during the puja in Ladakh His Holiness confirmed that he would not authenticate another new Rinpoche. Why did His Holiness make special mention of these matters to do with Rinpoches while sitting on the Dharma throne at the Grand Puja? It had a very profound significance. On the one hand, it was to let you know that Rinpoches do not necessarily have to be reincarnated; by constantly advancing one’s practice with diligence, one can still attain the fruition level of a Rinpoche in this lifetime. On the other hand, it was said so that no one would have any further doubts or disrespectful thoughts. The reincarnated Rinpoches that should have come would have come long ago, and those who did not simply would not come. Even His Holiness said it so clearly, therefore if you still harbor any doubts about me, then you can go ahead and stop coming; you may leave immediately. Do not be stuck on the fact that Rinpoche needs to eat and sleep just like you do; Rinpoche has a human body, but his mind is different from yours. A person who has become a Rinpoche through cultivation in this lifetime is extremely precious and rare; the devas, nagas, and Dharma protectors all come forward to give their protection and blessings. Furthermore, that an Order has produced such a Rinpoche means that this Order is certain to flourish. This good fortune and causal condition of yours to encounter someone who has become a Rinpoche through cultivation in this lifetime is extremely rare; you must do your best to cherish this condition that has allowed you to practice Buddhism, so waste more time!

On this trip to Ladakh, His Holiness also instructed Rinpoche to begin teaching the Ratnakuta Sutra. After hearing to do this task, Rinpoche felt like he was at wit’s end, because theRatnakuta Sutra is a very long sutra. His Holiness stated that all of the works authored by the Drikung Kagyu Lord Jigten Sumgon were based on theRatnakuta Sutra. Given that the Buddhist Center over which Rinpoche being in charge of was called “Glorious Jewel,” it was only appropriate that the guru propagate theRatnakuta Sutra. The Mūlamadhyamaka-kārikā was based on the Ratnakuta Sutra, so the latter is obviously a very important sutra. This also means His Holiness knows that only a handful of you are qualified to learn Tantra, but His Holiness does not bear to see you all falling back into reincarnation, which is why Rinpoche was instructed to teach everyone the Ratnakuta Sutra. This sutra talks about the mindset, behavior, and speech that a practitioner should have while making the Bodhi vow and practicing the Bodhisattva Path. Anyone with insufficient root capacity would be afraid upon hearing it. The sutra also mentions many things related to lay practitioners, such as the weekly changes of a fetus during pregnancy, the chaos of propagating Buddhism in the Age of Degenerate Dharma, and so on.

Practically no one explains theRatnakuta Sutra in Taiwan, because there is a section that says that a guru ascending the Dharma throne to teach the Dharma must meet twenty conditions. If a guru does not meet them, they are not qualified to do so. These days very few people meet these twenty conditions, so people are afraid to talk about them; as a result, fewer and fewer people are willing to explain this sutra. The expression “ascend the Dharma throne and speak the Dharma” does not mean simply setting up a table in front of you, sitting down in a chair, and then begin to speak; rather, it means you must sit on a Vajra Dharma throne. In Tibet, even khenpos teaching the Dharma must first have gone into retreat for three years and eight months. This type of retreat is different from the going into a retreat room mentioned before; this three-years-and-eight-months retreat involves not being able to leave the grounds of the monastery. After going through such a process and learning all the theoretical foundations for Buddhism, rituals, and so on, then it remains to be seen whether the khenpo has the ability to speak the Dharma. If so, only then is the title of “khenpo” given, and only then can that khenpo explain the Dharma to sentient beings. This is unlike what happens in Taiwan; here it has gotten to the point where anyone thinks they can grab a sutra and interpret the Dharma. The Dharma is not a book, nor is it something for academic research; the Dharma is something that you must be able to put to practical use, a method with which you can help yourself and sentient beings to be liberated from the cycle of life and death.

Nowadays there are people out there who hold the Eight Precepts Retreat inside a stadium. This is not going into retreat; it is nothing more than a gathering of a group of people holding an event inside a sports stadium, and is at odds with the methods described in the sutras. If you can maintain complete silence for an entire day, you must neither speak to others nor speaking to yourself, even in your mind. If you talk to yourself in your mind, then the as you talk and talk it will turn into you speaking to yourself out loud. If you speak to yourself in your mind, then that day does not count, and you will have to start all over. His Holiness once stated that the merits obtained from keeping a vow of silence for one day are greater than those from chanting a mantra for three months. But ask yourselves this: Can you do it?

His Holiness may be constantly smiling and laughing, but he can be very strict whenever he is talking about the Dharma and Tantra. One time His Holiness was bestowing an empowerment and transmitting the Rinpoche in the His Holiness’s own retreat room. After transmitting half of it, His Holiness’s mother unwittingly came into the room, and he immediately stopped transmitting the Dharma and did not utter a single word. Upon seeing what was going on, his mother immediately left the room. Afterward, His Holiness started transmitting the Dharma from the beginning again. If you do not have the root capacity to practice Tantra, and have not reached to such a level to learn it, then a guru would never transmit Tantra to you. The guru would not even let you hear it, even if you were a close relation such as a husband, wife, mother, or child.

Just now people might have felt very crowded together, and uncomfortable sitting there; you might have felt it hard to breathe with so many people here. However, this is already so much better than the conditions were during pujas in Ladakh. On the last day while participating in the puja in Ladakh it rained, so Rinpoche arranged for the disciples to sit in the main hall behind the mandala where they would not have to worry about getting wet. The local Ladakhi believers, however, sat out in the rain in order to participate in the puja. By comparison, the conditions you must endure when coming to participate in a puja at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center are already quite good.

You all should appreciate your good fortune and conditions. This so-called “appreciating good fortune” does not mean you should eat something even if it’s gone moldy and not throw it out, nor does it mean you must wear same clothes from head to toe and never buy anything new. That would be absolutely silly! True appreciation of one’s good fortune means cherishing the fortune of being able to listen to the Dharma; true appreciation of one’s conditions means cherishing the causal condition that led to the opportunity to practice Buddhism. It is not an easy thing to be able to encounter a practitioner, and to be able to encounter a practitioner whose every thought is for the benefit of sentient beings and who performs the Dharma for everyone is the result of the good fortune you all have accumulated through your past lives.

Today Rinpoche used a little bit of the good fortune he had cultivated to perform the Chod for you all. This was mainly to help everyone with three things. The first was to liberate the sentient beings related to you; the second was to help you form a virtuous affinity; the third was to help everyone break away from afflictions which lead to reincarnation. That you were able to come to participate in this Chod today means you have good fortune. Of the believers who came yesterday to implore to participate in the puja, Rinpoche sent more than thirty away. Count yourselves lucky in that you had implored it relatively earlier; otherwise you would not have found any place to sit. That you could attend is truly the result of the merits accumulated by your ancestors, because only causal conditions and good fortune accumulated through past lives could allow you to have the good fortune and causal condition to come and participate in today’s Chod Puja. Thus, you should do your best to cherish it. Today you had the affinity and good fortune to come and participate; however, whether or not you can make this affinity continue all depends on you. You all should consider very carefully; after the completion of the puja, you should go home and think about it quietly for a while.

A while ago while the disciples were sharing their experiences they did not mention how the locals, seeking Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings, threw themselves in front of the guru’s car as it was leaving the site of the puja despite the fact that the vehicle was still moving and they could have gotten run over. There was one Tibetan in a wheelchair who raced straight over toward Rinpoche’s car and almost got hit. The guru immediately had the car stop, and bestowed a blessing upon him. Being faced with such a situation you would certainly have been very afraid, with all those Tibetans swarming up to implore for blessings. You, on the other hand, keep your distance whenever you see Rinpoche! You have absolutely no respect at all. You have no respect for the Dharma or for anything else; you only respect yourselves. Those locals are always extremely respectful with their palms placed together whenever they see a practitioner, whether they are Buddhists or Hindus. People in Taiwan or Japan might feel that such behavior is unnecessary, or might think it contrived. Actually, such a way of thinking is simple arrogance. Why are there so many earthquakes in Taiwan and Japan? It is because people there are arrogant, and have so many of their own views. If they are arrogant, they do not have compassion; without compassion, they cannot achieve attainment. This is the very reason so many people practice Buddhism to no avail.

Rinpoche remembered having agreed to transmit the Dharma of Protector Achi to disciples who had newly taken refuge, but there was not enough time today, so the guru would transmit it next time. Everyone need not worry, for Rinpoche had not forgotten. In unison all of the attendees expressed gratitude to Rinpoche for having so tirelessly performed the auspicious Dharma and bestowed precious Buddhist teachings upon them. They stood to pay reverent homage as His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne.

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Updated on May 24, 2020