His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – October 6, 2013

Before the puja commenced, a believer who used to be a disciple expressed gratitude to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having bestowed upon her an opportunity to make a public repentance, and then went on to repent openly before all the attendees.

She repented for having committed many shameful, evil acts in this lifetime, for having corrupt morals, for not keeping her promises, for being unfilial toward her parents, and for being reluctant to make offerings; for thievery, sexual misconduct, harsh speech, divisive speech, frivolous talk, and killing; she repented for violating the precepts and the Ten Meritorious Acts one after another. She repented for again stealing from the guru’s and the Buddhist Center’s properties while attending the Dorje Phurba Puja and the Drikung Kagyu Order’s Winter Puja held in India in November of 2011, as well as up until she had returned from participating in the Chod and the Amitayus Puja held in Japan in December of the same year. She also repented for having done harm to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche as well as the Buddhist Center in Japan. At the same time, she was grateful for the guru’s blessings, which had given her the courage to speak about her evil behavior that she had kept hidden for so many years.

She repented, because while in India participating in the Drikung Kagyu Order’s Winter Puja in November of 2011, the presiding guru Garchen Rinpoche had given Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche a large bag of nectar pills. The latter had instructed the general director of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to distribute nectar pills to each disciple who was participating in the puja. At the time, she was serving as chief of one of the puja group’s tour buses. After receiving the nectar pills, she should have distributed them to each of the more than thirty Dharma brothers on the bus. However, not only did she not have a spirit of self-sacrifice, but she had actually given rise to greed, thanking Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having allowed her to be the bus chief so that she could take more than her share of the nectar pills. Moreover, in her arrogance, she had even taken away several Dharma brothers’ ziplock bags which they had collected. She had not been considerate of the needs of the other bus chiefs present; she had thought only of her own convenience. While distributing the nectar pills, she had selfishly given herself more than her share. The next day she had even used a silver tongue to trick the more than thirty Dharma brothers on the bus into thanking her.

As a result, cause and effect had reared their ugly heads immediately after she returned to Taipei. The luggage of the more than two hundred Dharma brothers had arrived safely at the airport—all except hers. When she was notified that her baggage was missing, her mood had suddenly sunk to an all-time low as His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious teachings abruptly appeared in her mind to reveal to her that this was the effect of her thievery which had caused it. On the way home from the airport, she had told her husband about how she had taken more than her share of the nectar pills in India. Her husband had asked her, “What gave you the right to take so many?” His words had further awakened her to the fact that out of selfishness, she had abused the Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Dharma teachings and done harm to her beloved Vajra Dharma brothers. She had stolen from them while pretending to be a good person. Deep down in her heart, she repented over and over.

The next morning after returning to Taipei, she had received a phone call from the airline informing her that her luggage still had not been located. By then she had already lost hope that she would ever recover her bag. She acknowledged that if she did not, then it served her right for having committed such a glaring act of thievery, and that this was her cause and effect at work. That evening, when she had gone to eat at a restaurant a Dharma brother had opened, she had felt even more ashamed at the sight of the large group of Dharma brothers there, and as a result she ended up confessing to having stolen the nectar pills while they were all in India. About an hour after the meal, the airline had suddenly called to inform her that the missing luggage had been found, and that it was being delivered to her place of residence. At the time she had thought to herself, How is this possible? She had even asked the airline employee on the phone, “Are you sure it’s my luggage? Does it have a Sino Travel tag on it?” After she got home and saw that it really was her luggage, she had immediately felt extremely repentant toward His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and had wondered how she could possibly have the gall to take her luggage back. She was immensely grateful for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious teachings.

Not long afterward, in December, she had again gone overseas, this time to participate in a puja being held at the Buddhist Center in Japan. After the puja was finished, as soon as His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had left the venue, she had begun to talk in a very loud voice, completely disrespecting the Buddhist Center and the guru. If Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had been present, would she have dared to speak so loudly? She repented that her reverence had been completely put on, and that she had not given a single thought to the guru. She had stood by the entrance sweeping the floor, but had left the front door wide open, turning a blind eye and wasting heat and electricity. In her selfishness she had been focused only on her sweeping and had not paid attention to what was going on around her at the Buddhist Center, and as a result she had left the outer door open. At the time only a few Dharma brothers were still there; if, in her carelessness, she had allowed any opportunistic thieves to enter and make off with property from the Buddhist Center, or even led to anyone there being harmed, the consequences would have been unthinkable. Furthermore, the cost of the electricity she had wasted would all have had to be borne solely by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

After completing her cleaning duties at the Japanese Buddhist Center, all she had wanted to do was to hurry up and eat; she had merely cleaned inside the building, and had not bothered to have a look around. Thus, she had not given due diligence to the task that had been assigned to her, which was to double-check that the entire place had been cleaned properly. Before leaving for Japan, she had not distinctly asked the other Dharma brothers where the cleaning tools were and what details she should pay special attention to. She had done a totally sloppy job of it, and her attitude had been such that she had only participated in the puja in order to obtain blessings and protection for herself. Upon arriving at the banquet and seeing His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, she had given rise to disrespectful thoughts. She repented, and vowed never to behave that way again.

She repented for not respecting His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche during the puja, for not cherishing the puja that had taken place in Japan, and for not maintaining the most reverent of mindsets while participating in pujas in general. While listening to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings just now, in which the guru had said that people without faith and who did not keep their palms clasped together would not obtain any blessings, it had suddenly hit her that all along she had not been participating in the pujas conscientiously. She had neither paid attention nor been respectful toward the guru; though she had come from afar to sit here in the puja’s venue, it did not matter. She felt another wave of repentance wash through her heart, and she was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having given her such a severe warning. During this Chod Puja in Japan, because the Dharma brothers who were in charge of recording the name of the newly deceased Dharma brother had neglected to write down the zodiac sign of the deceased on the list, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had admonished the four Dharma brothers who had been involved. Their punishment had been to stand outside the Buddhist Center.

She praised His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for the various methods with which the guru taught the disciples. Each method was full of the most profound compassion and caring. Those four disciples had told her that while they were standing outside the Buddhist Center, after His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had finished performing the Dharma, the weather had abruptly cleared, and that the sun and moon had appeared in the sky simultaneously—an auspicious sign. Later, when the Dharma brothers asked the guru what this meant, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had explained that the sun and moon appearing in the sky at the same time after a Dharma was finished being performed was an extremely good omen.

Next she continued to make a public repentance about other evil acts she had committed. She repented for having once seen a video taken without permission of a certain public figure, and for even having happily played it for her older brother and sister-in-law and watched it with them. She asked herself, would she be willing to strip naked and be so wantonly enjoyed by others like this? She not only had committed sexual misconduct, but had even dragged her family members into it. She repented, and vowed never to do it again. Soon after taking refuge, while on her honeymoon, she had drunk alcohol and broken the Five Precepts. She repented, and vowed never to do it again. While learning to make the torma she had not taken it seriously; she had been unhappy, and had even tried to defend herself when a Dharma brother had criticized her. She had had lustful thoughts about the khenpo who had taught the torma-making; she had been disrespectful, and had sat atop a high chair conversing during class. She had once had the privilege of going along with a Dharma brother to eat at the same table as the khenpo, but while ladling the porridge to the khenpo she had not served with a respectful attitude. She repented, and vowed never to act that way again.

She had procrastinated and been careless while performing the tasks His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had given her, and this had caused the book Happiness and Suffering to not be available for overseas believers to read within the time period instructed by the guru. Her actions had run counter to the guru’s compassionate aspiration, and she repented, vowing never to commit them again. His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had once bestowed upon her a job which was quite suited to her, but she had refused it because she had not been satisfied with the salary it offered and had made up a heap of excuses for not taking the job. What she had passed up had been the work opportunity of a lifetime, but she had been thoroughly corrupted by her own greed, disrespect, and unwillingness to give alms and make offerings. For this she repented deeply, vowed never to make the same mistake again, and pleaded in earnest for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to bestow one more chance upon her.

She repented for being haughty, arrogant, and condescending. The first time she had seen the Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, she had given rise to arrogant thoughts. She had been completely ungrateful for the auspicious teachings the guru had bestowed to target each of her many problems one after another, and for this she repented, vowing never to make that mistake again. During the first Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness, she had even declined to be a volunteer worker, unwilling to do the work and afraid of the responsibility. In her lack of compassion, she had ignored the needs of sentient beings. She had spoken rudely to her Dharma brothers, caused altercations, and given rise to jealousy and hatred. She repented to her Dharma brothers and vowed never to do it again. She had once taken a flight sitting next to a pregnant Dharma brother, but out of jealousy had hoped that she would catch cold and fall ill. She repented, vowing never think such thoughts again.

When the Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the disciples to India to seek audience with His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, a Dharma brother had stood up to help move a table. Not only had she not rejoiced in that Dharma brother’s merits, but had also given rise to jealousy and the hateful thought of, Why doesn’t he just hurry up and sit down? She had even formed a discriminating mind over the color of the precious vajra knots bestowed upon them by the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, who had been slightly ill at the time. She repented for not being qualified to practice Buddhism at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center or to wear the red vest. While working for her company, she had had the devious notion of wanting to receive kick-backs, she had tricked the manufacturers to get their business plans, and she had not kept her promises to them. After the work was done, she had made excuses to pay the manufacturers less than what she owed for the goods. She had treated her subordinates and staff harshly, taken credit for their contributions, and blamed them for her own mistakes. If she was ever dissatisfied with them, she had done everything she could to get rid of them. She had also been ungrateful toward her boss, quarreled, said she had worked more hours than she actually had, and taken the company’s stationary for her own personal use. She repented, and vowed never to do these things again.

There was a believer who was a manufacturer, and had come to practice Buddhism at the Buddhist Center. Because she knew him through her older brother, they had collaborated on a project together. The project had failed, and not once had she had the modesty to reflect on her ways. On the contrary, she had blamed the errors on the other party, and this had resulted in constant mutual bad-mouthing and caused the manufacturer-believer to stop coming to the Buddhist Center. As such she had cut off another person’s wisdom life in learning Buddhism, while at the same time instigating hateful thoughts and blame against her elder brother, criticizing him in front of their parents, disregarding the care and consideration he usually showed her, and totally throwing her brother’s benevolence back in his face when things had not gone her way. This incident had made her feel disgusted in herself as thoughts of greed and hatred flowed forth like a river. Were it not for the teachings His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had bestowed continuously over the course of a few weeks back then, and the guru’s having told her that she must change immediately, she would have ushered in the New Year while still harboring a powerful anger in her heart. Actually, from start to finish, everything that had happened had been caused by her not keeping her promises, and for this she repented, vowing never to make the same mistakes again.

She had been caught cheating during exams at school, and had even gotten someone to go and tear down the public demerit notice from the bulletin board. She had taken pornographic manga books to school to show her classmates, and had been quite pleased with herself. She had once stolen a classmate’s purse; afterward, when questioned by the classmate, she had pretended not to know anything about it. In elementary school she had taken the lead in verbally abusing a teacher, causing an enormous scandal at the school. Her grades had been poor, so she had lied to her parents, telling them that she had not taken any tests. For all of these acts she repented deeply and swore never to commit them again. During lunch with her friends one time in the cafeteria, she had taken a girl’s brand-name pen. The girl had been very anxious after discovering that the pen her parents had given her as a memento was gone, but when the girl had walked up to ask her about it, she had feigned ignorance. She had even gone so far as to give the pen to her elder brother without telling him it had been stolen. Afterward her brother had inadvertently brought it up, saying that the name-brand pen had somehow gone missing. This really was a clear example of causality; she repented, and vowed never to act that way again.

Because she had not wanted to have children of her own, she had criticized her parents-in-law and not been wholeheartedly filial toward them. She had even been an aggressive bully at home, scolding and striking her husband over little things and being both unreasonable and unforgiving. She had been unfilial toward her parents; she had often lost her temper at them, and once had even taken her mom’s side by cursing her dad. At once this had given rise to such enormously hateful thoughts about her father that her face had become swollen. After seeing a Dharma brother who was a doctor, she had discovered she had cellulitis. All the doctors had said that this was a very dangerous condition that could very easily spread to her brain; people who were still alive in the morning would often be dead by afternoon. In the end she had only been cured as a result of being under the blessings and protection of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. She repented deeply for her unfilial behavior toward her parents, and vowed never to act that way again.

While learning to play musical instruments at the Buddhist Center, she had borrowed a gyaling (woodwind instrument) to take home, but had not practiced it much. She had been a dog in the manger, selfishly keeping it from other Dharma brothers who might want to learn to play it. For this she repented deeply, and vowed never to do it again. While translating journals into English, she had been careless and lackadaisical about how she worded her sentences to the point that the foreign proofreaders often could not understand them. As such she had wasted the Buddhist Center’s funds, and eventually those duties had been taken away from her. Later, while writing journal entries in Chinese, she had often relied on other Dharma brothers to do most of the work for her; as before, she had been careless in her work and unable to remember Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s precious Dharma teachings. She repented, for she should have cherished every single word of what His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said. Furthermore, she should have been brave enough to take responsibility and to take her work seriously. She had not diligently practiced the Dharma transmitted by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, but rather had been lazy and idle, and for this she repented deeply, vowing never to be that way again.

Shortly after taking refuge, she had harbored extremely disrespectful thoughts toward His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Her parents and husband had all been saved by the guru, yet she herself had not made many offerings to speak of. Still she had dared to give rise to irreverent thoughts, and for this she repented, vowing never to think such things again. She had once bought a snake to be her pet, and had even scared her mom with it. In the end her older brother had taken it to school, and there it had been so neglected that it starved to death. She had also once purchased a little white rabbit. Because she had gone to school without remembering to feed it, her dad had taken unwashed vegetables from the refrigerator and fed them directly to the rabbit, and the fertilizer on them had poisoned the poor thing to death. She had been the root cause of these two incidents in which sentient beings had been cruelly harmed, yet she had dragged her father and brother into them as well. She repented deeply, vowing never to do such things again. She had been unfriendly toward her older brother’s wife, often bearing a competitive and jealous attitude while bad-mouthing her in front of their mother. She herself was a Buddhist disciple, yet still she had criticized and spoken ill of a member of her own family, even making her mother an accomplice to her harsh speech. She repented, and vowed never to do this again. In the past, whenever her older brother had had a girlfriend, she had always influenced his feelings according to her own likes and dislikes. She had said bad things about her brother’s girlfriends, thus destroying any affinity that could have led to marriage, and for this she repented deeply, vowing never to do it again.

In the past she had been too lazy to bring friends with her to seek audiences with the Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, thus causing them to lose the causal condition to meet with the guru. She had also once introduced the mother of a good friend to the Buddhist Center, where she had taken refuge and practiced Buddhism; later, because she had spoken out of hand, her friend’s mother had left the Buddhist Center. As such she had cut off another person’s wisdom life in learning Buddhism. After introducing believers who had later taken refuge and become disciples, she had sought their thanks, but they had not often praised her. As a result she had given rise to hateful thoughts toward others, and for this she deeply repented, vowing never to do it again. On Saturday, while seeking an audience with the compassionate Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the guru had instructed her to give a public repentance out-loud in the Buddhist Center. However, in her haughtiness and arrogance, she had thought to herself that she would be able to tell it all in a loud voice directly through the microphone during the puja the next day. She had even had her own way of imploring to repent, and as such had been completely disrespectful toward the guru. She repented deeply and vowed never to do it again. She repented deeply that she had departed in body, speech, and mind from eight years of earnest teachings from His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

She had come to a profound realization that had she not been able to learn Buddhism from the meritorious Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, then the numerous evil acts she had committed would certainly have sent her straight to the Three Evil Realms. It had been quite a while since her red vest had been taken from her and she had reverted to the status of a believer. She had a profound sense that all of this—being able to practice Buddhism in the footsteps of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, amend herself, and reflect deeply on her past offenses which had harmed sentient beings—had been the result of the enormous blessings and the utmost benevolence that the guru had bestowed upon her as a disciple, and were extremely important to her as a person in this lifetime. She was grateful for the auspicious blessings and reprimands His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had bestowed, all of which had allowed her to wake up to the truth and repent for her past behavior. She had never loved dearly, or felt compassion for, a single sentient being; she had always attacked sentient beings with a severe and cruel mindset. She had never had warmth in her heart towards any sentient beings. She was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having allowed her to understand karma, cause, and effect.

At this point, out of consideration for all the attendees, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche compassionately instructed a disciple to approach and prompt her that it was time for the puja to begin.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne and bestowed precious Dharma teachings upon all the attendees.
Recently, while reciting from the first section of the fifteenth chapter of The Ratnakuta Sutra, The Assembly of Bestowing Assurance of Future Enlightenment on Bodhisattva Manjusri, caught Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s eye. Today, therefore, special mention will be made of this chapter, because it talks about why Shakyamuni came to the Saha World to propagate the Dharma. It also mentions the various evil acts committed by people in the Saha World. Of these, one section would be rather helpful to those who have run around Taipei attending other Buddhist centers.

Shakyamuni Buddha stated that in the Saha World there are many “great virtuous figures.” The phrase “great figure” used in the sutra does not refer to one’s spouse; many people erroneously interpret “great figure” as “husband.” What the sutra means by “great figure” is someone who has vowed to practice Buddhism, become liberated from life and death, and benefit sentient beings, and does not have the slightest thought of stopping or giving up. In the sutra it is written that having a bold and fierce determination to practice Buddhism is indicative of the behavior of a person of character. In Japan one often hears people say the words “person of character,” but what they mean is, “it doesn’t matter.” In fact, the origin of this expression is the same. A “person of character” refers to someone who does not become attached to the various affairs of the world, and who would not commit all sorts of evil acts which would cause him or her to continuously fall back into reincarnation. The sutra also makes special mention of “virtuous,” which refers to the fact that the most fundamental thing one must do is to carry out the Ten Meritorious Acts. If you have not done this, then even if you have taken refuge, received empowerments, and had the Dharma transmitted to you, none of these things will be of any use, for in this lifetime you cannot possibly be liberated from life and death.

The Buddha stated that in the Saha World—that is, on this Earth—there are some great virtuous figures who are able to resist indulging in themselves, would not give in to greed, hatred, or ignorance, and can tolerate any harm sentient beings do to them. However, in the Saha World there are also many sentient beings endowed with multiple evils, which means that they possess all evils. The “evils” spoken of in Buddhism are anything which would harm sentient beings, for whatever reason. “Endowed with” means these evils are already being committed, and thus those people are less able to repent. Take a look at today’s society, everybody—would you not agree that this is the way things are? People make mistakes yet do not own up to them, or use other rationalizations to claim that they are not the ones at fault. They say they were framed by other people, or that someone should have told them that they were making a mistake. And then, even when they admit they are at fault, they still want others to forgive them. This is the kind of atmosphere we live in these days, isn’t it? From politicians at the top all the way down to everyday people in the street, they are all like this.

Actually, in retrospect, you were all like this back when you were little, too. You might have clearly done something wrong, but as long as your parents did not witness what happened with their own eyes, you did anything you could to lie and cheat your way out of getting in trouble. Therefore, what is written in the sutra is true. Who among you has not deceived your parents? “Less able to repent” is a specialty of humans on Earth. Even a dog that is scolded knows when it has done wrong, yet people refuse to recognize their mistakes, making up a heap of excuses to explain and try to rationalize their behavior. Some people even rationalize their actions after breaking the law to help others, but breaking the law is breaking the law. Being “less able to repent,” as written in the sutra, means rarely being able to know that one is at fault; it means practically not knowing at all.

The sutra goes on to say that the hearts of these sorts of people are vulgar and fierce. This refers to the fact that the mind of one who commits evil is very ferocious, because he or she has no humility or sense of shame. Why do people rationalize their actions after doing something wrong? It is because they have no sense of shame. Never mind Buddhist philosophy; even Confucianism tells us that we should feel ashamed whenever we are at fault, and Confucianists once posited the idea of being ashamed to death. Whenever ancient scholars—such as literati who were genuinely of good moral character—did something wrong, would they ever have used their eloquence to say that others had framed them, and that therefore they were going to split from them? If such had been the case, then over time the country would have completely fallen apart.

In the sutra it is mentioned that not respecting the Buddha, not taking the Dharma seriously, and not loving the Sangha will cause one to fall into the Hell Realm, the Animal Realm, and the Hungry Ghost Realm. Thus, 99.9% of humans on Earth are very likely to descend into the Three Evil Realms. Don’t think that just because you have learned Buddhism you therefore cannot fall into the Three Evil Realms. “Not respecting the Buddha” means what it says. An example is thinking that the Buddha’s teachings have nothing to do with you; if you haven’t achieved something, why should you listen to the Buddha? These days some people who practice Buddhism in Taiwan engage in a lot of trickery; for example, covering the deceased with a future-life quilt, folding lotus blossoms, making you think that by buying a lotus seat you will then go to Amitabha’s Pure Land after passing away, convincing you that you should see lights while meditating, or telling you that when going to a Buddhist temple you should first let them give you a fortune-telling so that you know whether or not you have an affinity with the Buddha. All of these are examples of false Dharma, and are disrespectful to the Buddha. Many people have no faith, and so do not listen to the Buddha’s words. Because the Buddha is not in front of them, they feel insignificant next to all the people seeking the Buddha every day; they think the Buddha cannot hear them or know what they are doing. The Buddha would not worry about what you are doing; your actions have to do with your own cause and effect.

If you do not respect the Buddha you will definitely be reincarnated. The Buddhist notion of “respecting the Buddha” is different from having a fear of god as stressed in other religions. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas would certainly never punish us; even if you were disrespectful toward Them, They would not punish you, nor would They even think of doing so. Why is disrespecting the Buddha such an offense? Simply put, and using an example often given by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, if you quarrel with your brothers and sisters, you might stop and be fine after being given a warning. If, on the other hand, you were to quarrel with your parents, what would happen? You would get a beating. What happened if you quarreled with your teachers back in elementary school? You were made to stand with your nose in the corner. If you quarreled with your classmates instead of the teacher, the punishment was not quite as bad. Why do you quarrel with your parents, teachers, and elders? It is because you have no respect.

If you are disrespectful toward the Buddha, it is not that the Buddha will punish you; rather, it means that you are an evil person, and so evil things will of course come your way. Because your heart is evil, none of the people you attract will be good. Whether or not you have practiced Buddhism or want to be liberated from life and death is a completely separate matter, but respecting the Buddha really is very important. A lot is written in The Ratnakuta Sutra on the subject of how to respect and make offerings to the Buddha. “Not taking the Dharma seriously” means disregarding everything the Buddha said, and trying to reinvent the wheel. In Buddhism these days there are many people trying to reinvent the wheel; too many to count. Ever since Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was little, the guru has never been very good at the sciences, so has never understood how to invent things. All Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche knows is to learn and act in accordance with the Buddha’s and his guru’s teachings, and this is actually a better way.

Everyone thinks Buddhism consists of Dharma that were spoken a few thousand years ago, and which are out of touch with the times; everyone thinks that people back then were different from people today. How, in fact, were they any different? They simply used different things; that’s all. Did people back then not have to eat, sleep, go to the toilet, and work? They just didn’t have iPhones the way we do today, that’s all! How were they any different? They were completely the same; they simply used different tools from what we use. Given that they were the same, the cultivation methods taught by the Buddha were targeted at humanity in general, not just at a certain ethnic or cultural group. If the Buddha had only been speaking for the sake of Indians, then the Dharma would not have spread as far as it has. If the Buddha had only been targeting a specific cultural group, then the Dharma could never have been accepted by so many people speaking different languages and coming from different cultural backgrounds.

Therefore, all of the Dharma taught by the Buddha were for the sake of humanity in general. This is because the Buddha was originally human, and that’s another difference between Buddhism and other religions; in other faiths, people worship deities. By comparison, only Shakyamuni Buddha said that He was human. Since the Buddha was human, He of course was familiar with the good qualities as well as the shortcomings of humans, and with what their problems are; therefore, He was able to draw upon His own practical experiences to tell us how we, as humans, should change. You have not attained Buddhahood, so what right do you have to try to reinvent the wheel? Do you believe you should have your own way of doing things because you think the Dharma taught by the Buddha is out of date? Not once did the Buddha ever state that major benefactors are required to hold the Great Water and Land Puja, nor did the Buddha ever say how much benefactors of the inner and outer mandala should pay. In all the sutras Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has read, nowhere has the guru ever found reference to these things. If it were possible to become a major benefactor simply by donating money, then no one would ever need to practice Buddhism!

The major benefactors who gave alms and made offerings to Shakyamuni Buddha as mentioned in the sutras were all practitioners, without exception. Therefore, a true offering comes from a practitioner, and has nothing to do with how much money might be involved. An example of “not taking the Dharma seriously” is when everyone rushes to do something even though it is obvious that the Buddha never said to do it, and when those same people shy away from things that the Buddha clearly said that they should do. For this reason it is only natural that Buddhism has been in slow decline; it has become more and more unrecognizable, and now is only a shell of what it once was, with no substance inside. For example, if you want to learn Tantra, then from the point of view of Tibetan Buddhism, you must first have a firm foundation of Exoteric Buddhism so that you will never stray from the sutras and the Buddha’s theories; only then can a Tantra be transmitted to you. Prior to being transmitted Tantra, you must first cultivate the four uncommon preliminary practices. If Tantra is transmitted to someone who has not first cultivated the four uncommon preliminary practices, no one would dare to call it a deception, but in truth he or she is not practicing in accordance with the Dharma.

Why would such a person not be practicing in accordance with the Dharma? It is because the four uncommon preliminary practices accumulate your good fortune and help you to unlock your wisdom; only then can you understand what it means to be a Bodhisattva. Without good fortune, how can you become a Bodhisattva? Vajrayana Buddhism is practiced according to one’s fruition level; anyone who has been transmitted Vajrayana Buddhism has the fruition level of a Bodhisattva. Of course, you still are not Bodhisattvas, but in terms of its significance you are. Did you think becoming a Bodhisattva would be that easy? Recite some sutras and you’ll get there, right? Become a major benefactor and that’ll do the trick, right? Just prostrate yourself in front of a Buddha and you’ll be golden, correct? Actually, you must progress through many steps in order to become a Bodhisattva.

Why is there such a problem as this? This is an example of not taking the Dharma seriously, of not attaching importance to it. If you think you can transmit the Dharma to someone so long as he or she attends frequently and makes offerings, and that whether or not he or she has done a good job practicing does not matter, you are wrong. The relationship between a Vajrayana guru and a disciple lasts though many lifetimes; if the disciple’s root capacity is insufficient, then the Dharma cannot be transmitted to him or her. At the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche will only transmit the four uncommon preliminary practices to disciples who have taken refuge for more than three years. This is because you need to be reprimanded for at least three years before the guru knows whether or not you are going to change. The disciple who came forward to repent earlier did not change even after taking refuge for more than eight years; today she has repented, yet still has not changed. She is still full of herself and just talks and talks and talks. If Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had not driven her off the dais a little while ago, she might have kept talking until 2:30. What does this indicate? It indicates that she is still very full of herself.

Don’t think that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will bless you just because you have begun to learn Buddhism. The blessings of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and the guru are given so that your mind will not grow lazy and so that you will continue to have the causal condition to practice Buddhism. However, you are the ones who must change; you are the ones who must be determined. If you do not change, then no matter how many blessings are bestowed upon you, they will all be useless. Therefore, taking the Dharma seriously is very important. Any Dharma which is unheard of, which is not written in the sutras, and which was never spoken by the lineage gurus should not be coveted. This is especially true of any Tantra which involves sentient beings. For example, while performing the Dharma, sentient beings will approach to have their consciousness transferred by you; if you do not do it for them, these sentient beings will give rise to hateful thoughts. However, many people covet the Dharma, and think that learning Tantra they will become really awesome.

Life becomes very rough after you learn Tantra; the purpose of learning it is not for you to enjoy a good life. Don’t think that deciding whether or not to transmit the Dharma to you is based on who you are, or that in the next life you will therefore be able to cultivate this Dharma. This is not at all the way it works. If you cultivate Tantra in this lifetime but are unable to benefit sentient beings, you will be indebted to many sentient beings. Especially if, for example, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did not practice in accordance with the Dharma while holding the annual Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness; then the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas would not allow the guru to continue to hold it each year. As for the Chod Puja, if Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did not hold it in accordance with the Dharma, then there would not be increasing numbers of people coming to participate in it. This is because there are many sentient beings in the void who know that they can obtain much assistance from Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

Many of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s disciples have similar stories. In Taiwan, many people keep shrines and Jitong (spirit mediums) in their homes. In the past if people went to ask their Jitong and deities something, they would all say, “Your person in Taipei is so much more powerful than I am.” This sort of thing has been said by more than one person; there are even people who have gone to ask the Deity of En Chu Kong Temple in Taipei by casting divination chips, and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s grand abilities were confirmed five times. If they do not believe Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, it is no matter; however, at the very least these spirits are more formidable than you are. They understand things clearly, but you do not. In other words, if you do not take the Dharma seriously and do not respect the Buddha, then not only will your Buddhist practice be of no help to you, it will also harm you, and this is especially true of Tantra. Do not covet the Dharma; if you have not completed the necessary steps in the prescribed order, yet insist on imploring for it, then even if someone casually transmits it to you, you still will not be able to achieve anything.

Especially in Tantra, there are many parts to do with visualization which are not spoken of. There are many Rinpoches who, like Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, might also learn a certain Dharma method, but that method includes a few lines which only His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang possesses. The Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang did not transmit these to them, because they do not have the causal condition to hear them. When Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche implored to learn this Dharma method, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang smiled cheerfully and told Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to add a line here, take out a line there, add this, add that. The Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang also once said that many Rinpoches know a certain section, but do not know how to use it.

You should not think that Tibetans would give all they have to you so easily. It is not so simple; today we are only mentioning it in passing, that’s all. Why are we speaking of this? It is because we must value the purity of the Dharma; we cannot allow the Dharma to mix with any impurities. The Dharma we speak of is pure. This is because it is pure virtue—simplicity is virtue; it is all about benefiting sentient beings and being liberated from life and death, and is not intermingled with anything else. Whether or not you want to continue to practice Buddhism, there are no prerequisites.

Only by taking the Dharma seriously can you know how to love the Sangha. Here the word “love” does not refer to emotional love; in ancient times, when people wrote the word “love,” they did not mean thinks like, “you love me” or “I love you;” it had nothing to do with this. Rather, it means you should cherish a practitioner. Being able to encounter a practitioner is no simple feat, especially a Tantric practitioner; such a practitioner would not reveal anything for you to see. A Tantric practitioner would not rest on his laurels and spend all day telling you that he’s a Rinpoche, how awesome he is, or how great he is because he lived in a tomb for a few years. If he lived in a tomb, then he is indeed rather formidable; but aren’t those who guard the tombs even more formidable? There is no mention in the sutras that someone who has lived in a tomb is relatively formidable; Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche knows this is true, because the guru reads the sutras quite frequently, and has never seen it mentioned.

To “love the Sangha” means not harming any practitioner. Whenever a practitioner appears in this world, it does not happen by accident; it is very complex. In addition to needing to have practiced non-stop throughout his or her past lives, a practitioner can only appear in this lifetime if he or she has the causal condition to encounter a good virtuous mentor in this lifetime, one who with further cultivate and teach the practitioner. Without causes and conditions, even if this virtuous mentor is genuinely a good one, he or she will be of no help to sentient beings. Thus, it is very complicated. The sutra teaches us that when we are able to encounter a practitioner who truly practices according to the Dharma, we should not criticize him or her out of hand. If you like the practitioner, attend; if not, leave—but do not criticize. Even if the practitioner does not practice according to the Dharma, as long as he or she practices one Dharma, that is better than you, and there is no need to criticize.

In the sutra it is written that while among the vile, inferior sentient beings, Shakyamuni Buddha was always able to endure all kinds of verbal abuse, humiliation, slander, harassment, evil speech, and so on. This includes all of the nine difficulties Shakyamuni Buddha encountered after attaining Buddhahood. The sutra mentions that Shakyamuni Buddha’s mind was as broad as Mother Earth; it could neither be shaken nor defied. This means that Shakyamuni Buddha’s mind was such that even while among the vile, evil sentient beings of the Saha World, no matter what these sentient beings did, they could not disturb the Buddha’s mind.

The sutra goes on to mention that this is why this world is called the Saha World. As it was mentioned in the sutra, the Bodhisattva Stately Constellations said to the Buddha, “Now we receive such a great virtuous benefit to be Bodhisattvas full of virtue, and thus we are not born among the evil, vile sentient beings.” What the Bodhisattva meant was similar to what you often say: “It’s all good; I was lucky not to go to that damnable place.”

Just then a believer turned his head to look toward one of the corners of the Buddhist Center. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche immediately berated him for not focusing his attention on what was going on in the Buddhist Center. If he wanted to see what was happening behind him, he could sit in the back, and then he would be able to see quite clearly. If you come to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to listen to the Dharma, but your mind is not focused, then you would be better off leaving. This believer implored for a very long time before Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche allowed him to participate in the puja, so while here his head should not be turning this way and that. There is no practitioner in the direction he was looking; there is only one Rinpoche in this Buddhist Center. That he turned his head in that direction means he must think those people over there are Rinpoches. They still haven’t become Rinpoches in this lifetime, but no one knows about their future lifetimes. The rules at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center are very strict; anyone who does not concentrate while listening to the Dharma is like what we talked about earlier: “disrespects the Buddha, does not take the Dharma seriously, and does not love the Sangha.” What gives this believer the right not to concentrate? Is it that he does not think he is a major benefactor? The place he attended in the past was very comfortable; it provided chairs to sit in and food to eat. Next time he might as well not come here!

Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to bestow teachings. In the sutra, the Buddha told the Bodhisattva, “Virtuous man! You must not speak this way.” The Buddha taught that in the east there was a world called the Land of Auspiciousness, Solemnness, and Endurance, and there is now one there whose Dharma title is the Great King of Carefreeness. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said that many people have heard of this Buddha, and that there are even people in Taipei who worship this Buddha. The point is, in the sutra it is written that the sentient beings in that Buddha land are all endowed with eternal peace and happiness. This means sentient beings in that Pure Land do not suffer, and are always peaceful and happy just like a Bhikkhu who has entered Nirvana. And just like a Bhikkhu who has attained the state of perpetuity of extinction, there is no life or death, and such sentient being is an arhat.

“The peace and happiness of beings there fare likewise” means sentient beings over there are living very peacefully and happily in their meditative states. Even if sentient beings in this Buddha land lived to be trillions of years old and cultivated all Barhmacara, it would still be better to be in the Saha World and, at the snap of their fingers, to give rise to compassion for sentient beings, for the resulting merits would be a great deal more. Wherein lies the rationale for this? It is because we are practicing Mahayana Buddhism, the Bodhisattva Path, and Vajrayana Buddhism. If we ignore sentient beings and only seek our own benefits, there will not be any merits. From this it is evident that if you worship the Great King of Carefreeness Buddha, you will definitely not be able to have the desires of men and women, and you certainly must become ordained, because all of the sentient beings over there exist in a meditative state.

You all must not misunderstand; the example given by Shakyamuni Buddha was not at all a criticism of this Buddha. Because everyone’s affinity is different, if your affinity is not like this yet you insist on cultivating this yidam, you will not be able to achieve attainment in it. It is just like the law of cause and effect Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche spoke of in the past: If you plant a melon, you get a melon; if you plant a bean, you get a bean. If you have the appearance of a lay practitioner in this lifetime, yet you pray to go over to be with the Great King of Carefreeness Buddha, you will fail, because all the sentient beings over there have entered Nirvana.

The Buddha stated that anyone wishing to cultivate the Bodhisattva Path and attain Buddhahood must practice in the place of greatest suffering, and must understand the suffering of sentient beings before attainment can be achieved; furthermore, one must not dislike or try to avoid this suffering. It’s like a sick person hoping not to be sick, but as a result that person does not understand where the suffering of sick sentient beings comes from. In the past, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had skin cancer, but did not avoid it or implore the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to cure him of it, nor did he implore His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang to perform a Dharma, nor did he see any doctors about it. Why did Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche get skin cancer? It was a result of his having taken life and eaten fish in the past. Only through the suffering of being sick was Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche able to understand the point of view of sentient beings who suffered from illness, and thus know how to help them.

What the Buddha meant was that if we want to practice the Bodhisattva Path or Vajrayana Buddhism, then the most suitable place to do so is the Saha World. In the Saha World there are many chaotic, disorderly, and nonsensical things, but even so these can help us practice. Why is that? It is because all of these things are the sources of our afflictions. To practice Buddhism we must understand how to break away from our afflictions. From a Theravada point of view, breaking away from our afflictions means making ourselves enter a meditative state and not coming into contact with any afflictions; from a Mahayana point of view, understanding afflictions makes us able to manufacture fewer of them. Using Vajrayana methods, afflictions are tools that can be used for practice, because when a practitioner can do so, he or she can then change the afflictions of sentient beings.

So, why is it faster to practice Vajrayana Buddhism? It is because you can save a lot of time. Why are there so few people practicing it? It is because most people enjoy, fall in love with, and embrace afflictions, so they are hopeless! Therefore, as long as we can give rise to compassion for sentient beings in the blink of an eye—just as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche tells you all every time the guru is performing the Dharma, you must think of the sentient beings who are suffering and perform the Dharma and participate in the puja on their behalf rather than be in it just for yourselves—this is what it means to be compassionate. Why would that believer a little while ago fail to concentrate? It was because he still thought he was participating in the puja for himself. For this we cannot scold him, because no one had ever taught him this before.

When you know that you are here representing sentient beings, you give rise to compassion, and you are then attuned to the minds of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and the guru. If your mindset is not right, you will not become attuned. How can you put the power of compassion to use? You must attain Emptiness before you can use the power of compassion. Until then, at least you must give rise to compassion. Therefore, the guru will guide you, lead you, and teach you how to cultivate your compassion; you cannot just dream it up or fake it. Having a compassionate mind does not mean witnessing the suffering of others and deliberately spilling a couple of crocodile tears. Why do we say these are crocodile tears? It is because when you see that someone is suffering, you know that one day you will be in the same boat. This sort of sympathy is not compassion; compassion entails trading something good of yours for something not so good that belongs to someone else, and wanting to help that person to leave the sea of suffering behind.

If we ourselves have not experienced human suffering in this lifetime, then we cannot realize the nature of suffering; as such, we will not wish to leave suffering behind, in which case we will not in turn be able to help sentient beings extricate themselves from their own suffering. Many people get very nervous as soon as they get sick, and rush to perform penitential rites and do good deeds. This is all very understandable, but is at variance with the mindset one should maintain while practicing Buddhism. The Buddha stated that if we give rise to compassion for sentient beings for even just an instant, then we will have more merits than those who reside in the Land of Auspiciousness, Solemnness, and Endurance—to say nothing of what will happen if we can reside within a pure mind free from distracting thoughts for a whole day and a night. To “reside within a pure mind” means constantly chanting the Buddha’s name, all day long, for one day, or two days, or three days, as is written in The Amitabha Sutra. When you chant the Amitabha Mantra or the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, you are chanting the pure nature, pure merits, pure compassion, and pure wisdom of the yidam. As long as you chant the yidam’s mantra without asking for anything in return, you will be pure of mind.

The “one day, or two days, or three days” referred to in The Amitabha Sutra does not mean you should run around to perform the one-day or secen-day Buddhist retreat, back and forth; rather, it means you should practice with a pure mind. This is why going into retreat is important. A group of people chanting together do not make a retreat; this sort of thing is no more than a bunch of people locking themselves away in isolation. A true retreat involves a single person, alone in an empty room, having no contact with anything at all. Why is that? It is because everyone’s mind is accustomed to clinging to the external environment. If you are with a crowd of people performing the Eight Precepts Retreat, your eyes cannot help but see other people; your ears cannot avoid hearing them chant. This is because until you have achieved a certain state, you have the need of expedient Dharma methods which can help you to understand and realize what a purified mind is. A purified mind is not something you can cultivate by seeking it out, imploring for it, or chanting for it; you were already in possession of it to begin with.

Why did the Buddha declare that there are great merits to be gained from having a pure mind for a day? The reason is that if your mind is pure for a day, then when you pass away, it will naturally be pure; only then can you come into contact with the pure, fundamental vow of Amitabha Buddha. Therefore, the claim that using money to buy a lotus seat will send you over to Amitabha’s Pure Land is absolutely false. Would Taiwanese currency be of any use there? Even U.S. dollars would be useless there. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has read the sutras; the only thing written there involves paving the ground with gold rather than currency, but whether this refers to gold from this Earth or not, it is unknown. The gold over in Amitabha’s Pure Land might be more than 99.99% pure. Currently, we do not have the technology on Earth to refine gold to 100% purity; the best we can do is to make it 99.99% pure. The gold in Amitabha’s Pure Land might be ten times as pure, so taking Earthly gold there would be pointless.

What this section means is that you should not try to reinvent the wheel; you should take seriously the words of the Buddha, which were written down in the sutras. The Buddha never said you could use money to buy your way to the Pure Land; such a thing would be impossible. Nor did the Buddha say that you could eliminate your karmic hindrances by becoming a major benefactor, so you should not believe so. Of what use is being a major benefactor? All it does is give you an opportunity to come in contact with the Dharma; nothing more. In the past, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was very naughty; the guru once asked a Dharma master why major benefactors got to sit up front while people without any money had to sit in the back. That Dharma master’s answer was quite clever; he said that because the major benefactors had made known their aspirations, the Bodhisattvas naturally hoped to see them first before anyone else. It is well-known that Shakyamuni Buddha once told a story about a king who one day paid money to hold a puja. Upon the perfect completion of that puja, the disciples asked the Buddha who among the attendees had obtained the greatest merits that day, and pointing to an elderly woman in the distance, the Buddha told them that it was her. The disciples did not understand; after all she had no money, and was poor as poor could be. Being so old, how could it possibly be her? The Buddha replied simply that it was because she had rejoiced in the welfare and merits of others; she had praised the king for putting forth the money and effort which had enabled her to participate in the puja. She had therefore obtained the greatest merits, for she had praised the king’s merits with a joyful mind. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said humorously that the Buddha is blind to those who sit up front; the Buddha sees only those who sit “in the back of the bus.”

Don’t misunderstand; Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has not told this story today in order to criticize anyone. It is simply that the Buddha tells us that if we wish to follow the Vajrayana path, we must not hide away in a safe, happy little corner; wherever we are must be a place of suffering. Only then can we cultivate the strength of our aspirations. If you are completely safe and happy, how do you give rise to aspirations? Why do you give rise to aspirations? Therefore, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s disciples are all unruly and mischievous; not one of them is a big business tycoon, because they have all come from dire straits to seek the guru. For Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, this is a good thing, because as a result the guru has been able to give rise to compassion for sentient beings as was described by the Buddha. Seeing that every sentient being is suffering naturally gives rise to compassion.

You all must understand that comprehending the Buddha’s words is not achieved just by thinking about them or reciting them a lot; it is not that simple, and you need to get that fact through your heads. To practice Buddhism one must follow a meritorious guru. Such a guru cannot turn you into a Buddha, but at the very least he or she will not lead you astray. Take for example the disciple who made a public repentance earlier; she took a few nectar pills. In other places they might think that was just a trivial matter, and nothing worth worrying about. As it happens, however, it is the little things which Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche pays the most attention to, because all big things start small. This, too, was taught by the Buddha.

All things, whether good or evil, start out small. If something is not helped to change while it is still little, then once it grows big it will be too late. Don’t think that you have not done any evil in this lifetime; actually, ever since you were born, you have committed many tiny acts of evil which have been accumulating throughout your lifetime. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche just happened to have read this section of The Ratnakuta Sutra today, so will take this opportunity to explain it to you all. Because we are humans of the Earth, in the current Buddha epoch, we follow the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. All of the Dharma in Theravada, Mahayana, and Vajrayana Buddhism was spoken by the Buddha. We must respect and take to heart the Dharma taught by the Buddha; we must act in accordance with it, and not try to come up with a new brand of our own by claiming that we have realized new truths through enlightenment. That issue is very serious. Each Buddha’s aspiration is different; if yours is at variance with the aspiration of a certain Buddha, you will not be able to go to His Pure Land, nor will you be able to cultivate that Buddha’s Dharma.

For example, Vajrasattva helps sentient beings eliminate their karmic hindrances, so those who come seeking Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche have very heavy karmic hindrances. If the guru mainly performed the Jambhala Dharma, then those who come looking for help might all be business owners, because they want to get rich. It looks like Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche should change his specialty and mainly perform the Jambhala. However, this has a direct relationship to one’s aspiration, and has a lot to do with the aspirations one has had over the course of many lifetimes. These aspirations we speak of are not new aspirations that you yourself might think up. In the sutra it is written that regarding all the Buddhas in the ten directions and of the three times, only the Buddha knows how many there are in the universe.

In other words, the Buddha knows and thoroughly understands everything that we humans are able to think of, so you should not try to invent things on your own. Whichever Bodhisattva you have an affinity with, you should act according to that Bodhisattva’s fundamental vow. For example, because Vajrasattva helps sentient beings to eliminate their karmic hindrances, you should start by eliminating your own karmic hindrances, and not simply grab a Dharma text and try to give the empowerments to others right off the bat. In order to eliminate your own karmic hindrances, you must go into retreat and chant the One-Hundred-Syllable Mantra at least five or six hundred thousand times; only then can you obtain the pure, true nature necessary to benefit sentient beings. Chanting the One-Hundred-Syllable Mantra a hundred thousand times refers to chanting it in a retreat room; all this does is help you to alleviate rough and heavy types of karma such as those which come from dying prematurely or in an accident. However, this does not mean that all of your minute karmas will also be eliminated, unless you are primarily cultivating the Vajrasattva.

Cultivating the Vajrasattva is a very difficult endeavor. All of the yidams Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has cultivated are difficult; each mantra that must be chanted is more than a hundred syllables long. You’ve got it easy! You just need to chant six syllables. But you are not even able to master these six syllables; you really should be beaten. Why can’t you chant them well? It is because your minds are not pure; they are full of a heap of your own thoughts and demands. For instance, the mantra of the yidam cultivated by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche while in retreat in 2007 was a hundred and fifty syllables long, and the guru had to chant it one hundred thousand times. You go ahead and try it! It takes you a very long time just to chant six syllables.

By reading the sutras, we must come to realize the Dharma that was revealed by the Buddha. We absolutely cannot have the attitude that we can just wing it, see what happens, and repent later if necessary. This is why the Buddha said that you “repent very little;” none of you tries to repent or amend your ways. For example, yesterday there was a disciple who took refuge more than three years ago, but whose husband was nevertheless recently employed as a chef in a Japanese restaurant, where he engages in killing on a daily basis. He then takes the money he makes from killing and uses it to support their family. Her way of thinking is very simple; if her husband did not work, there would be no money for them to live on. This is an example of not taking the Dharma seriously, and of disrespecting the Buddha. The Buddha taught us not to take life or create evil karma; this includes not being involved in collective evil karma. Still, she deliberately allows herself to be involved in collective karma, thinking that her coming to the pujas is enough to provide her with blessings and protection.

Today Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is announcing publicly that by acting in such a manner she has no blessings or protection, because her heart is still evil. She thought that it did not matter if she committed evil as long as it benefited her family’s livelihood, and that it would all go away if she did some extra repentance. While practicing Buddhism, it is vital that you make a firm resolution; otherwise you cannot achieve attainment. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche will stress that point again here today: Without making a firm resolution to practice Buddhism, there is absolutely no way you can achieve attainment. Over the years that the guru has been practicing Buddhism, there have been all sorts of people who have wished Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would not practice. The guru has persevered, however, on the back of his resolve. If you yourselves have not made a firm resolution to practice, then no matter what Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche says will be superfluous.

Next Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to speak about cause and effect. In the sutra it is written that by way of all of the sutras and Abhidharmas, we can come to recognize that cause and effect are real. As mentioned before, if you want to become a Bodhisattva but are living a life of comfort, then you will not succeed, because your mind is overly at ease. If you are a virtuous person, then a lot of distasters might happen around you, but not to you. It is just like how someone becomes resolved to practice Buddhism, and then when all his or her neighbors are robbed, that person’s family is the only one that doesn’t get robbed. A few years ago there was an earthquake in Taichung. Some disciples lived in south-central Taiwan at the time, and all of the houses next door to them collapsed. The disciples’ houses, however, were fine. This was cause and effect; everything that happens has to do with you yourself.

Back when the provincial government still existed, there was a certain person who, due to the position he held, was able to receive many gifts from people in art circles. After receiving the gifts, he could then sell them. The man bought a house in Taichung and filled it with all of these works of art. It was quite a collection; Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche once saw it, and there were indeed a large number of them. In the end, during the earthquake, that house collapsed, and everything was lost. You cannot hold onto things which you have obtained by nefarious means.

Why, even if a disaster occurs in a practitioner’s location, does it not adversely affect the practitioner? Actually, this is quite easy to understand. It is because everything hinges on the power of one’s fortune and merits, and all of the good and bad luck in this lifetime is the karmic effect of the virtuous and evil deeds one has done in one’s past lives.

Some people wonder, if they have already broken away from evil, repented, done good deeds, and performed penitential rites in this lifetime, then why should things still keep happening to them? This is because they have brought some power of evil from past lives into this one. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has taught you before that if you place a bunch of seafood in a room, then a seafood odor will remain even if you take the seafood itself away. The concept is the same; even if you think you have broken yourself off from all evil, its odor still lingers. Don’t think that practicing Buddhism will make you invulnerable or have nothing to fear. Even the Buddha had stones thrown at Him, and had to rely on Vajradhara to break the stones. However, Vajradhara took the initiative to break them for the Buddha; you, on the other hand, would have no one to go to. Your situation is different. The Drikung Kagyu Order has a certain Dharma protector that would take the initiative to protect the Order’s disciples. If someone wanted to harm one of them, then that Dharma protector would go into action without the disciple even needing to chant anything. This does not mean you, however; you can only rely on Dharma Protector Achi!

As can be seen, there is such a thing as fixed karma from one’s past lives. What is fixed karma? It is an effect that has already matured. All of the various good and evil karmas that we have created over the course of our past lives are carried with us into this one, so that the bodies we are born into are accumulations of karmic effect. These bodies are karmic bodies, which are amalgamations produced by all of the good and evil powers from our past behavior. Though our bodies were given to us by our parents, in Buddhist terms our parents are no more than assisting conditions that helped us to obtain our current bodies. If, however, we have no virtuous or evil karma from the past, then conditions surrounding the appearance of our bodies will not be the same.

As soon as we are born, we already possess good and evil karma. From the time we appear in our mothers’ wombs to when we are born, grow up, and emerge into society, many assisting conditions are involved. These can be either good or evil, and can help us to bring good and evil karma from our past lives to maturity in this lifetime, thus turning it into the aforementioned “fixed karma.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche used himself as an example. The first job the guru had after setting foot into society was as a chef’s apprentice in a major restaurant, where he worked for more than three months without ever picking up a knife to cut a single piece of meat. All of the people apprenticing there at the same time as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had already begun to cut meat. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche might be simple and hard on the eyes, but in Buddhist terms, the guru had already stopped creating evil karma from killing in a past lifetime, so naturally in this lifetime the assisting condition of killing did not arise. If you still have family members who are chefs or are otherwise using meat to make money, it means you created evil karma in your past lives—karma from killing—and that you continue to create a lot of karma from killing in this lifetime; you haven’t yet decided to stop killing!

Why is collective karma so serious? Don’t think you don’t need to worry about it, or that if your husband doesn’t keep working and earning money you won’t be able to feed your little family of three. Thinking that way means you do not believe in karmic retribution. In this lifetime if you have a husband who is a chef, it definitely means he has carried karma from killing from past lives into this one. He has brought it here, and you have given him an assisting condition which has caused the karmic retribution from this karma from killing to appear in his current lifetime. He won’t have to wait until he’s dead to go to hell.

Some people who get cancer think their karmic retribution has arrived. This is not actually the case; the cancer is nothing but a blooming, a karmic bloom. It will be some time before the karmic bloom starts to bear karmic fruit. After it blooms, if you have nothing but virtuous assisting conditions, then when your karmic fruit matures it might not be so bitter; it might be a bit sweeter. However, the fruit will still appear. Do not think that there will not be any karmic fruit if the blooms of karmic offenses are blown away. On the other hand, you all labor under this sort of misconception. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is better at practicing Buddhism than you are, yet even the guru got cancer; what makes you think you will necessarily be spared? The guru is simply telling you that this is wherein the principle lies, because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has had the causal condition to work hard to do good deeds in this and past lifetimes, as well as to practice Buddhism while following a virtuous mentor. Therefore, the power of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s virtuous assisting conditions is many times greater than yours. This is the result of causes the guru planted in his past lifetimes.

Fixed karma means after all of the power from your past behavior has increased and its karmic retribution has emerged, it cannot then be changed. Being immutable does not mean the effect does not exist; rather, it means you cannot change or get rid of it. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche suffers from scoliosis; reason dictates that the guru should not be able to walk. From a medical point of view, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche should be paralyzed. Because the guru killed people many lifetimes ago, this is the karmic retribution he must endure in this lifetime. However, this does not formally count as karmic retribution; it is no more than a blooming, because the karmic retribution of people with scoliosis is to die early, and after passing away, to fall into hell.

Right then and there Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked a doctor-disciple whether or not it was true that people suffering from scoliosis tend to be sickly and die early. The doctor-disciple confirmed that this is indeed the case, and explained that medically speaking, the spine is like the central beam of a house; if it is crooked, then the house cannot possibly be very sturdy. The body’s organs depend on the nervous system to operate; if the spine is unhealthy, then there will be a big problem with the nervous system as well, and this will detract from the functionality and condition of the organs. If these losses are severe, then the organs will soon become exhausted and start to fail, which will eventually result in sickness and death.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went on to say that because he had this karma from killing in a past lifetime, this karmic bloom had emerged. Actually, because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has practiced martial arts ever since he was little, the guru should not have developed scoliosis. In kungfu one has to practice leg squats, so how could the guru’s spine have become crooked? Nevertheless, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche developed scoliosis naturally. If the guru did not have many assisting conditions in this lifetime, then Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s fixed karma would be to die early, suffer from many illnesses, and fall into hell after passing away. However, having a lot of virtuous assisting conditions in this lifetime has cause the flavor of this karmic retribution to change. Even though Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has developed this physical condition, it causes the guru no pain.

Why was Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche cured of cancer? It was not because the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas gave the guru any sort of special treatment. It was simply because, unlike you, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche clearly understood and accepted cause and effect, so the cancer mysteriously went away. Right then and there the guru instructed the doctor-disciple who had examined him to explain what had happened. The doctor-disciple answered that this was indeed the case; that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had mysteriously been cured of cancer.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked the doctor-disciple, “According to medical theory, what treatments should I have undergone?” The doctor-disciple explained that the melanoma Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had exhibited was the most malignant type of skin cancer there was, and should have spread very quickly to the brain and internal organs. Even surgery, chemotherapy, and radiotherapy could not have prevented it from spreading all over the body and resulting in a very sad and painful death.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went on to say that the Buddha cannot change a sentient being’s karma; only the sentient being can change it. How do you change your karma? You have to respect the Buddha, take the Dharma seriously, and love the Sangha; only then can you change your karma. In the sutras it is written quite clearly: If you have not created any evil karma in your past lives, evil karmic effects absolutely will not emerge; if you have not created any good karma in your past lives, then good karmic effects absolutely will not emerge, either. Simply put, you should not think that you are someone special just because you might have practiced Buddhism for a few years. If you had not formed great virtuous affinities in your past lifetimes, then it would be impossible for you to change your karma. Because you practiced Buddhism in a past life, you therefore have the opportunity to listen to the Dharma again in this lifetime. Thus, a Buddhist practitioner must be humble. Why must we be humble? It is because only the Buddha knows everything that we have done throughout all of our past lives. Even an arhat can only know the details of our past five hundred lifetimes.

If you really were a master practitioner in a past life, then you would either have been reborn as a throne holder or at least as someone like Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. You are nothing of the sort, so you should behave more modestly, be more obedient, stop posturing so much, and stop being so arrogant. Whenever you are arrogant, your karma matures more quickly. As a Buddhist practitioner it is even more important that you understand cause and effect, because if you did a bit of good in the past and thus have the opportunity to practice Buddhism, then you should grasp this opportunity and accumulate a large amount of the power of good in this lifetime. As is written in The Amitabha Sutra, you should not be lacking in good fortune or causal conditions. Don’t think that just having a little is enough; if it were, then in this life your situation would be different, and in terms of the Dharma and helping sentient beings, you would have emerged in a different place.

If you are like most people—meaning, you formed an affinity with the Buddha and the Dharma in your past lives—then you should be industrious in this lifetime. Being industrious means accumulating a large amount of fortune, merits, and causal conditions for your own use. You have come to participate in the puja; on the surface, you may seem to have formed an affinity with the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, and the guru, but in fact you have done more than that: You have formed an affinity with many sentient beings. Thanks to your attendance, many sentient beings have come as well. Besides the more than thirteen hundred people you can see here with your eyes, you have also formed an affinity with many other sentient beings today. Only as the result of this will you be able to help sentient beings in the next life.

As long as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is around, the guru will ascend the Dharma throne to teach the Dharma every Sunday without fail at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center. Whenever Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is not present, then audio recordings of the guru’s past Buddhist teachings will be broadcast here. This is so that the Dharma wheel will never stop turning. The Dharma wheel does not rely on the Buddha or everyone’s prayers to turn; it relies on all of you to push it forward. How do you do this? Simply begin to practice. Only as a result of your practice will the Dharma wheel turn; if you do not practice, the Dharma wheel will not move. Why not? Why would the Dharma wheel continue to turn if you do not practice? If no one is practicing, the Dharma wheel will stop.

Therefore, we must understand all of the various acts we have committed in the past. All of the seeds of suffering we have planted in our past lives, including this one, have no choice but to bear bitter fruit; likewise, all of the happy, good seeds we have planted in the past have no choice but to result in virtuous effects. Therefore, we must believe firmly that everything we face and receive in this lifetime is of our own making; it has nothing to do with anyone else. Whether people you meet treat you kindly or unkindly is all the result of your own actions. This includes both your own karma and any collective karma in which you have participated.

Why did the Buddha teach us that we should rejoice? Rejoicing does not mean you should give a certain amount in donations; rather, it means giving rise to a joyous mind to praise any person you see practicing Buddhism and benefiting sentient beings without asking for anything in return. As a result of this, you become part of a virtuous collective karma. Only when there is sufficient virtuous collective karma can you suppress the power of evil collective karma. By pondering it over, deep in our hearts we form a profound belief that cause and effect are absolutely real, and by understanding past causes and effects, we should be able to know when to accept or reject choices to do with our present causes and effects, and then carry out actual practice in accordance with the Dharma.

We have a clearer understanding of our own happiness and suffering than anyone else; we understand it even better than our parents. Therefore, we should think seriously about the happiness and suffering we experience in this lifetime, just as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche taught you all last week to think about things such as: Why are you happy? What have you done in this lifetime? For example, if you had a PhD right now, how did you get it? Did it fall from the sky? Did the deities bestow it upon you? That’s impossible; you certainly would have studied to get it. When you were studying, did you do so diligently? Some say there are people who are able to pass their exams without putting in much effort. This might be possible, too, but their current intelligence would have been cultivated in their past lives. Some people do well for a while and then do poorly for a while, but we won’t discuss these things today.

If you want to cook up a delicious meal, don’t you have to do a lot of preparations for it? Don’t you have to go grocery shopping, find the right spices, and think about how to cook the dish? Even if someone taught you how to cook it, if you’d never cooked it before you would not be able to produce the flavor that person described. Any housewife knows that this is so; you might watch someone on the television talk about how much sugar or salt to put in, but still your dish does not taste good. From this example it can be inferred that no matter what the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and the guru might teach you, if you have not put it into practice and experienced it for yourself, you still will not be able to realize what it tastes like. In simple terms, causes are your own doing; do not rely on blessings from Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas, for these are simply there to reinforce your mind and keep you from getting lazy. Whether or not you will change, however, truly depends on you and you alone.

You know your past causes and effects. While you are suffering, you should not say, “I suddenly got ill; this is the result of something I did in my previous lives, so how would I know in this lifetime?” People who say such things are as is written in the sutra—they “do not know that they should repent.” Unless you were born sick, and already had a condition while in your mother’s womb. If you had a condition already when you were a fetus, it certainly means that there were some problems with your ancestors’ genes. Science cannot explain why your ancestors’ genes might be flawed, but Buddhism teaches that this is the result of karma they created. Even if you forget everything you have ever understood or experienced in this lifetime, you will at least be able to remember the suffering and happiness you have experienced over the past few years. As such, you should wonder, Why am I suffering more and more? Why am I suffering less and less? Why would my happiness disappear? Where did my happiness come from? This is your cause and effect.

If someone is good to you, it is because at the very least you did not scold him or her, or lose your temper. Why would someone have a favorable impression of you? Whether or not you practiced Buddhism in the past, at the very least you did not make a face when you looked at your boss, and this is a cause. Many people think causes must be extremely complex, but actually this is not true. Everything related to your body, speech, and mind is a cause; this is a very simple way of reflecting upon yourself. After you have formed a definite understanding of the causes and effects you have produced in the past, then you can know the effects that in which the causes you are creating right now will result, and therefore will understand how to make choices.

Why won’t Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche allow that disciple, whose husband is still a chef engaged in killing, to learn the four uncommon preliminary practices? It is because she would not make a choice, knowing full-well that if she continues to create this cause then bad things are bound to happen in the future. For the sake of this short lifetime, she thinks that if she goes ahead and does it, she can repent to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas later. This is a clear example of not believing in cause and effect. Many people in Taiwan these days are the same; they think that they still haven’t made enough money, but that once they have made enough they’ll quit what they are doing. Their plan is to wait until then to give to charity, do good deeds, and repent to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, but this is useless. They should immediately break away from their evil behavior; they should stop immediately. Only once they have stopped all their evil behavior can the power of good begin to very simply accumulate. If you do commit an evil act here and do a bit of good there, then things become very complicated. In the future your life, too, will become complicated. Whose fault will that be? It will be yours, not anyone else’s. Nobody does us harm; everything that happens to us is the result of our own doing.

The sutra mentions that broadly speaking, there are two ways in which cause and effect can materialize: One is when we sense karmic retribution; the other is when we are creating a cause. As for the first one, sensing karmic retribution refers to the suffering or happiness we are currently experiencing, because these are all the result of the karmic causes we created with our past actions. Therefore, we cannot stop the karmic effect that is our current suffering or happiness. The first thing some people think after falling ill is that they do not want to be ill; they implore for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings to rid them of their cancer cells. This is impossible, unless the cancer were to mysteriously vanish as it did in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s case. Why did it mysteriously vanish? It was because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had never stopped accumulating and producing good karma. As the guru’s virtuous causes produced power, it grew greater than that of any evil the guru had committed until it suppressed the power of that evil. However, it did not cause the evil effects to disappear; those are still present. Simply put, it was because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s good fortune had grown larger and larger, better and better.

When people fall ill, lose money, or have other bad things happen to them, it is because they have no more fortune. Why must you cultivate good fortune and wisdom while practicing Buddhism? Fortune is not to be enjoyed; using Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche as an example, scoliosis and cancer should have been enough to prevent the guru from being able to practice Buddhism for the second half of his life. However, because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continuously accumulated good fortune, it became bountiful enough to allow the guru to keep on practicing Buddhism for the rest of his life. Therefore, do you now understand why you should respect the Buddha, take the Dharma seriously, and love the Sangha? If you do not accumulate good fortune, and just depend on a few implorations and blessings, the power of the evil karma you created in your past lives cannot be cut off from you right away. That is, unless you do enough virtuous acts that the power of evil cannot catch up with you; this is exactly what Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did.

Ever since the first day Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to learn Buddhism, he only understood one thing: To make offerings. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche made offerings even when he did not have enough money to buy food. You should not try to copy the guru’s actions, however, because if you do so, people will say you are being ripped off. You absolutely should not try to follow suit, because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was born with a hard lot in life, while you have a huge amount of good fortune. As such, you do not need to practice as hard as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

The sutra mentions that we know we cannot stop the karmic effect that is our current suffering or happiness; similarly, the good and evil karma we are creating right now are the causes of our future happiness and suffering. Everyone hopes to be happy in the future, and not to suffer, so from now on we must truly and honestly do nothing but virtuous acts, and forsake all unvirtuous behavior that would create evil karma. Do you now know why you get scolded by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche? It is because the guru wants to help you to break away from all unvirtuous acts. Even turning your head while Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is speaking is an evil act, because it means you do not take the Dharma seriously, no matter what your excuse may be.

For Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, any time he listens to the Dharma the guru enters a meditative state. Why is that so? It is because the Dharma is so precious! How can you pass up even a hundredth of a second of it? In the sutras it is written that whenever the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas expound the Dharma, we should raise our heads and look upward. In Tibet, whenever a throne holder or great Rinpoche transmits the Dharma, the lamas always gaze upward like this. This is a way of showing reverence, and is in accordance with the sutras. That is why Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche reprimanded you earlier, as the guru was helping you accumulate good fortune; however, you have missed out on a second of listening to the Dharma by turning your head away.

We must forsake all unvirtuous behavior that would create evil karma. Don’t be afraid that you cannot achieve this; the most fearful thing is if you do not try or have not become resolved. There is nothing that cannot be done; it all depends on whether or not you have made a firm resolution. Don’t be afraid of having problems in your interpersonal relationships or being different from everyone. There is no such thing! When going out, without mentioning it, who would feel that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is different from other people? Especially when Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is different from a lot of Tantric practitioners who wear a heap of things all the time; when the guru goes out, he does not even take his prayer beads with him. In the past, when Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche first started learning Exoteric Buddhism, he always wore prayer beads on his wrist just like everybody else. As soon as he sat down, he would take them off and start chanting; with time, however, the guru gradually began to realize that such things were superficial, and served no other purpose than to trick people.

In the sutras it is written that if you can break away like this from all unvirtuous acts that create evil karma, then in the future you will not feel the effects of suffering. This is because of all the countless things in the universe, no effect can possibly exist without a cause. This means the entire universe, and not just you, the Earth, or the sun. Anything that happens definitely has a cause, even if we might not understand what it is. A planet or an extra star cannot pop into existence from nothing; everything exists as the result of a previous cause. Once we comprehend this, then we should be very careful not to overlook even the minutest of unvirtuous evil acts; we should remember and avoid committing them. Don’t think tiny acts of evil are okay to commit, or that tiny virtuous acts are not worth doing.

The Dharma is very simple; it is not complicated. So why are you unable to cultivate it? It is because you have not made a firm resolution to do so. Actually, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche often sees many things which begin with tiny evil acts; none of them is a major act of evil. People are definitely not born nefarious; their evil always starts small and slowly accumulates until it has grown big. Good is the same; there is no way to start off by doing a great virtuous deed. When your tiny virtuous deeds have slowly accumulated, they will eventually become large acts of virtue. Therefore, the Dharma really is quite simple; it is your mind that is complicated. As long as you become resolved, you can do it.

Some people would say that good deeds do not necessarily result in good karmic effects, nor do evil deeds necessarily result in evil karmic retribution. This is because they have seen that in the real world, there are some people who are virtuous but have a very hard lot in life, while others commit evil yet are still able to live quite comfortably. This is actually a platitude; as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has often explained, all this means is that these people’s times have not yet come. All of the various bits of happiness and suffering that we experience in this lifetime are the karmic effects of the karmic causes we created in our past lives. All of the virtuous and evil karmic effects that we produce in this lifetime, however, will come to maturity in a future lifetime. However, for a practitioner, all of the evil karmic retribution of this lifetime can be suppressed by continuously engaging in virtuous acts. How do you suppress it? You do this by way of cultivating the Bodhicitta and a lifetime of merits.

These merits and virtues do not mean those dedicated to one’s own husband or one’s own illnesses. Strictly speaking, in terms of the Mahamudra, merits come when your state of meditation has reached the Simplicity Yoga state, whereas virtues come when you have done an excellent job keeping all the precepts, have aspired to the Bodhicitta, and have already walked on the Bodhi path. Once you have merits and virtues, you will naturally be able to supress the power of your karma. For example, after attaining Buddhahood, even though Shakyamuni had to undergo the nine difficulties, not a single one of them was able to harm the Buddha. This was because the Buddha had cultivated merits, virtues, and good fortune.

The sutras raised the question of whether one can rely on virtuous karma created right now to purify virtuous or evil karma one created in one’s previous lifetimes. Regarding this train of thought, there are two aspects:  The seed aspect, and the karmic retribution aspect. As for the seed aspect, the seeds we planted with our unvirtuous or evil acts in our past lives in the Alaya Consciousness can only be abolished by the so-called power of virtuous karma we create in this lifetime. Therefore, in the sutras it is written that the seeds of evil karma cannot produce karmic retribution. This is exactly what Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said earlier; it depends on whether or not it is given assisting conditions in this lifetime. In this lifetime, we disseminate seeds in the earth; if they get no sun, water, or fertilizer, the seeds will not sprout; they will simply remain in the soil forever.

The Alaya Consciousness revealed by the Buddha contains all of the evil and virtuous seeds we planted in our past lives. If we do not provide them with assisting conditions in this lifetime, it is the equivalent of not fertilizing them; as such, they will not grow. The Buddha taught that we must stop evil and practice virtue; therein lies the truth: Do not allow this seed an opportunity to mature. Why should you act virtuously? It is because all of the seeds planted by your virtuous behavior in your past lives still remain within the Alaya Consciousness, and so you need to give them an opportunity to sprout. Why do some people cry while participating in the Grand Puja? Is it that they feel they had an affinity with Amitabha Buddha in a previous lifetime? No, it is not; rather, the virtuous assisting conditions from participating in the Grand Puja pour water into your Alaya Consciousness, causing your virtuous seeds to begin to sprout. This naturally causes you to cry.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would never make you cry by telling tragic stories all day long; rather, the guru would open up your virtuous seeds and cause them to sprout. When these virtuous seeds sprout, you will feel like crying during the puja. What does this mean? It is an emanation of virtue; the seeds have sprouted. After the seeds sprout you still need to continue to give them water, watch over them, and care for them. If you do not, then they will grow and grow and then disappear. It is very simple, and not complicated at all. It is you who call it complicated.

In this lifetime if we have not given our evil seeds a chance to sprout, then they will not produce evil karmic retribution. So what happens to the seeds? Do they remain in the Alaya Consciousness? Nothing happens to them, because when we finally attain Buddhahood, there will be no difference between all evil and good. Prior to attaining Buddhahood, there are still differences between evil and good; however, such differences will disappear after we have attained Buddhahood. All good and evil are causes and conditions; they will go back and forth to the point that we do not care, so their power will not emerge.

This section we have spoken of today, about seeds, is very important for a Buddhist practitioner. In this lifetime, if we always keep sowing virtuous seeds, then they will definitely sprout in the next lifetime. If we continue to do virtuous acts in this lifetime, the seeds of evil will not grow. Therefore, why was Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche cured of cancer? Why does the guru’s scoliosis not affect him? It is because of this very simple principle; however, such can be achieved only by having a firm enough resolution, and that truly is easier said than done.

In the sutra it is written: “Secondly, the karmic retribution aspect means that everything we feel right now is the karmic effect of suffering and happiness that has already matured; it cannot be removed, because we are experiencing it right now! To sum up, removing the negative things that should be removed will damage the seeds of evil habits; furthermore, depending on the positive things which annihilate afflictions, in the continuum of body and mind, will cultivate seeds of virtuous habits.”

Simply put, this section is like when Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche got cancer, the guru knew there was no way to remove it; he deserved it, because he had taken life and eaten seafood in the past. Even though it was not removed, on the contrary the guru actually got better. What was the reason for this? It was the same as what was spoken just now. When we stop all evil behavior and commit only virtuous acts, all of our seeds of evil habits stop growing. In other words, when you get something, don’t think it means other things have gone away, because we have a lot of evil seeds as well as a lot of virtuous seeds. Many people think that if they’ve gotten cancer they’ve hit rock bottom; actually, this is not the case, for there is still more to come. Why is that? It is because they still might have seeds which would send them down into hell or the Hungry Ghost Realm.

Many people who get cancer think that they should save their money to pay for visits to the doctor, and that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will forgive them. This results in providing an assisting condition in this lifetime to the seeds from past lives which would send them into the Hungry Ghost Realm, making it even more likely that such people go there. People who have gotten cancer and met with a lot of misfortune think that they are already quite bad off, and so they hurry up and steal a bunch of money. This is because they are in possession of seeds of greed from their past lives. With the existence of these seeds, such people would think to themselves, Given that I don’t have any money in this lifetime, why not steal some? Why not go ahead and deceive others? I’ll worry about it later! This is because such people do not act in ways which would damage the seeds of evil habits. How should they act? They should stop committing evil; they should not even entertain an evil thought. Everything they do must be virtuous; with these sorts of habits, assisting conditions will not increase, and other evil seeds will stop emerging.

Some people think they are in very dire straits; they have gone bankrupt and lost everything. They think they should first solve their problems and then do good, but as a result they cause the evil seeds which would not originally have sprouted to begin to grow. When Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche found out he had cancer, he was very happy, for the guru knew he was repaying his debts. Because of his happiness, he very happily and continuously did a lot of virtuous deeds. The guru did not try to exchange conditions with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, such as promising to help sentient beings or practice Buddhism diligently once his cancer was cured; this would have been tantamount to threatening and coercing the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, which would have kick-started the growth of his evil seeds. Why would it concern the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas? Whether or not you are cured of your illness has nothing to do with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Why would you be cured after practicing Buddhism? The reason is very simple; when you continuously do virtuous deeds, you are not allowing your evil seeds to grow; you are breaking them off.

Because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche very happily believes in cause and effect—not accepting it pessimistically, but happily believing in it—the guru knows that he took lives in this lifetime and in his past lives, and so by rights should repay his debt. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is quite happy these days to be able to use his own flesh and blood to repay his debts! At least the guru no longer has the karmic retribution from killing or that of falling into hell! None of you wants to repay your debts; you want to seek out the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to repay them for you, but the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have never eaten fish before! Why would they repay them for you?

Many people think that seeking a tantric practitioner to perform the Dharma will help to alleviate the symptoms of their illnesses. The principle behind this is very simple; because you had virtuous causes in your past lives, you have bumped into someone in this lifetime that can perform the Dharma for you and make your virtuous seeds sprout. As you begin to be willing to learn Buddhism and to change, your evil causes cease to grow, so of course you will slowly begin to feel better. Everything in Buddhism is logical; it is by no means superstition. You should not think that you are all-powerful just because you might have practiced for a few years inside a grave; what you say must be reasonable and logical. Therefore, we must constantly cultivate the seeds of virtuous habits; we absolutely must not pass up any opportunity to do virtuous deeds.

There is no need to intentionally seek out opportunities to do virtuous deeds. Actually, coming to participate in the puja every week is a way of cultivating the seeds of your virtuous habits. This is because whether you believe it or not, after you go home you will at the very least give thought to what Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was reprimanding you over today. As long as you are willing to ponder why the guru was reprimanding you, you will then have the seed of virtuous habits, and this will reduce the number of evil seeds you have. If you do not give this another thought, but simply go back home and dive straight into watching television, then of course Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche won’t know, but if you even think about it a little, it will be useful to you. You all need to get this through your heads: Do not practice Buddhism to the point that you become superstitious, and don’t think that practicing Buddhism is an extremely backward, uncultured thing to do. Actually, Buddhism is the most logical and philosophical thing there is; it is loftier than any academic subject, because Buddhism analyzes things with a great degree of clarity. Today we have discussed up to the second method of teaching about cause and effect; there are still two more, which will be explained next time.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed the disciples who had already received transmission of the four uncommon preliminary practices, and had completed one hundred thousand grand prostrations, to stay behind. Next, the guru compassionately transmitted the auspicious Vajrasattva Dharma method and visualization method to these disciples.
Upon the perfect completion of the puja, in unison the disciples expressed their gratitude to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having transmitted the Dharma and bestowed teachings upon them. They rose to pay reverent homage as the guru descended the Dharma throne.

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Updated on December 22, 2013