His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – October 20, 2013

Before the puja commenced, the first disciple expressed gratitude to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for allowing her the opportunity to make a public repentance there. First she shared a story of the causal condition that had led her to take refuge in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Then she repented for not having been able to act according to the guru’s teachings despite having taken refuge for more than two years, and for the many mistakes she had made. Furthermore, she was grateful for the compassionate blessings Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had bestowed upon her.

Before taking refuge, she had been dissatisfied and full of doubts about life; she had struggled daily amidst desire, entrapped in a cocoon of her own devising, and had been unable to find peace of mind. Her younger sister suffered from moderate polio, a fact which the disciple had never dared to face. In 2004 her sister had suddenly announced that her kidneys had failed. At the time, the disciple had felt an extreme degree of panic and fear. Her sister had a kidney transplant the following year; all had gone well for a couple of years, but each year afterward her body had rejected the new kidneys, and she had had to be hospitalized. In September of 2010, her sister’s kidney function index had skyrocketed. The doctors had not been able to discover the reason for this, nor had they been able to suppress it; as a result, they had discharged her from hospital. At the time, the disciple had been in such a state of panic that she was on the brink of collapse. After seeking an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, her sister’s kidney function index had returned to normal, and afterward she had seldom needed to go to hospital, as her condition had remained quite stable. The disciple felt very grateful for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having compassionately rescued her younger sister.

She had once attended another Buddhist center for a period of seven years. In 2004, after that Buddhist center’s master had passed away, she had been unable to find peace; her emotional attachments had been so severe that she was like someone who had fallen terminally ill, and her problems had just kept piling up one after another. After seeking audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, she had known she had been saved. Two weeks later she had decided to leave her former Buddhist center. After taking refuge in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, she had slowly let go of her concerns about her family members, and her chaotic state of mind had gradually calmed. She repented that her resolve to practice Buddhism in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s footsteps had never been firm, and that she had constantly been exposed to having committed many an evil act.

After the first week of having taken refuge, she had wanted to leave the Buddhist Center. After agonizing over this for three days, she had decided to stay for the sake of her younger sister and her parents. At the time, she had merely been seeking peace, happiness, protection, and blessings in this lifetime; she had neither made a firm resolution to practice Buddhism nor been aware that she was this sort of person. She repented for having taken refuge with an erroneous mindset, and for being unworthy of the guru and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

After she had taken refuge, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had transmitted the Dharma methods of Protector Achi and Avalokiteshvara. However, she had held onto many of her own ways of thinking and not been diligent in performing her morning and evening prayers; she had wanted to rush through her practice, and had often gotten distracted by random thoughts. She had delayed for more than a month before finally setting up her mandala, which she had done haphazardly as if she had been playing house. Within six months the mandala had been blown apart twice by strong winds; only Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Dharma photo had remained undisturbed and unscathed. She repented for the chaos in her heart and for having been disrespectful toward the Three Jewels! On a Saturday, when Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended from the Dharma throne after having received sentient beings at the Buddhist Center, she had hollered along with her Dharma brothers, “Rinpoche, thank you for your hard work!” At the time, she had felt that she was very hypocritical and that her words had not reflected her thoughts, so she had smirked. No sooner had she raised her head than Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche happened to be walking right past her. Upon seeing Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche gaze directly at her, her knees had immediately gone weak with shame. She repented for her lack of humility, for being selfish, and for not being able to realize the great compassion with which Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche liberates sentient beings.

She had once been fortunate enough to bump into Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche at a coffee shop while eating lunch there. At the time she had felt very anxious, and after finishing her meal she had not dared to move; her nerves had been stretched taut, and she had not known what she should do next. After holding out for a while, she had made up an excuse to leave. Only afterward had she realized how extremely rude she had been, and the magnitude of the mistake she had made. She repented for her behavior, which had stemmed from not having been mindful of the guru and for not having respected the guru.

After having taken refuge for more than two years, she could see that she still had all sorts of problems. She had broken the precepts countless times, yet had not resolved to work hard at amending her ways; she was still just drifting along through life. On July 14th of this year (2013), this fact had finally been pointed out by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. She had explained the placating method as tolerance, and had been severely reprimanded. All along she had worried about being caught out making mistakes; it had finally happened, yet she had felt at peace.

Next she repented for the various mistakes she had made when taking notes from Dharma tapes. During the June 23rd puja, while they were listening to a Dharma tape, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had instructed them to jot down notes on its contents and hand them in. She had not concentrated on listening to the teachings; watching her Dharma brothers move back and forth, she had felt that they were interrupting her focus, and that had caused her to get a bit angry. Even when she closed her eyes she had still felt anxious and unable to concentrate. She repented, for not only had she been self-centered, but she had also had a very big and very bad temper. No sooner would a hateful thought arise than it would get out of hand like a raging wildfire. There was no telling how many people she had harmed or how much evil karma she had created. After each incident she had felt a great deal of regret, and had been tormented both physically and mentally. Over time she had suffered profoundly from the effects of this; she had continued to work hard to manage and change her evil habits, yet her progress had been very slow. Ever since she had started learning Buddhism from Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the guru’s strict teaching methods and leading by example had influenced and immersed her, causing her hateful thoughts to greatly diminish to the point that nowadays she seldom lost her temper. During the puja that day, however, she had still given rise to hateful thoughts, having completely forgotten the guru’s teachings and compassion. She sincerely repented for the evil karma her hateful thoughts had created since time without beginning, and vowed that she would work hard not to make the same mistake again.

After returning home, she had forgotten what the puja’s teachings had been about. Nor had she calmed her mind and tried very hard to remember; instead, she had surmised: There were so many teachings on that Dharma tape; surely Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche wouldn’t expect us to write them all down, right? And with so many notes, if I were to write too much down, wouldn’t Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche have a hard time reading it all? As for the guru’s directions for them to record on paper what they had heard during the puja, she had long since thrown these instructions to the winds and completely forgotten it all. Therefore, she had only written down the handful of teachings that had left the deepest impression and which were relatively meaningful to her, and the resulting notes had been completely abridged. She repented for having acted out of her own personal convenience and for her own pleasure. Not only had she been careless, but she also had not made an all-out effort; her attitude had been extremely casual. She had not obeyed the guru’s instructions; she had practiced Buddhism in her own way, constantly made mistakes, created evil karma, been disrespectful to the guru, not taken the guru seriously, and been unworthy of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche once taught of the four major Dharma methods benefiting sentient beings in Tantra, which include “subduing, placating, increasing, and vanquishing.” At the time she had not understood the meaning of the word “placating;” after reading through the guru’s journal entries, she still had had no clue, so she had suddenly given rise to an evil thought. On the day of the puja held on June 23rd, upon hearing the word “placating,” sure enough she had reacted the same way as before; after it was over, it was as if a wind had blown through and immediately erased everything she had heard during the puja from her memory. After returning home, she had been unable to recall the word “conciliation;” she thought long and hard to no avail, so in the end she had written down the word “tolerance,” and then given up for the time being. Later, however, when looking over her work, she had automatically skipped over this word and completely forgotten it. She repented for having been disrespectful toward the Dharma, for having been quick to judge it, for having made improper alterations to it, for having been as arrogant as a mountain, for not having allowed the Dharma water to enter her, and for the evil effects that she had reaped.

During July and August of this year (2013), she had signed up to participate in two overseas puja groups. During those auspicious pujas, she again had made mistakes. On July 15th, after participating in the puja in Ladakh in India, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang had compassionately cared for the Glorious Jewel disciples and given gifts to them all. After lining up and receiving the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s gift, she had suddenly noticed that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was holding something in his hand. A greedy thought had risen within her, and she had immediately been knocked awake by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, causing her mind to suddenly go blank. She repented for having been disrespectful and for not having been at all mindful of the guru. Two days after returning to Taiwan, she had suddenly discovered that the headaches and frequent feelings of discomfort that had been plaguing her for more than twenty years had completely disappeared. It was as if she had gotten a new brain, and she felt very relaxed.

She had also signed up to participate in the Ksitigarbha Blessing Puja held in Japan in August of this year (2013). On the day of the puja, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had instructed her not to enter the venue. At the time she had been the only one not allowed to go in. Unwilling to face and accept reality, she had stood outside the Buddhist Center thinking all sorts of nonsensical, chaotic thoughts. She had thought to herself, If only I had first requested instructions back in Taiwan, this would not have happened to me. As a result, she gave rise to hateful thoughts toward a Dharma brother. Later she had recalled something Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche once said: Everything is causal condition and karmic retribution. This calmed her, and only then did she realize that she had misunderstood what the Dharma brother had said; recklessly, she had thought that all she had needed to do was to sign up, and that being allowed to participate in the puja would then be a given.

Because she was so prone to wild flights of fancy, she frequently ended up banging her head against a wall. Her mind was like a runaway wild horse; she often was born away by distracting thoughts like a thistle seed on the wind. By the time she discovered this, she had already created a lot of evil karma, and all that remained was regret. This vicious circle had left her at a loss as to what she should do. After she had been pointed out by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche on July 14th, her mind had no longer belched forth so many distracting thoughts; it had completely settled down. Only then had she realized that all along she had been the one indulging herself, and that this had formed into a chronic habit. She was grateful for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate blessings!

Only after having taken refuge for two years did she now understand that she had not believed in the guru, nor had she made a firm resolution to practice Buddhism in the guru’s footsteps. She had simply spun a thick cocoon around herself, allowed her arrogance to run high, harmed others and herself, and hindered her progress along her own path toward Buddhist practice. Furthermore, she had forgotten that the auspicious opportunity and condition to learn Buddhism from Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was the only thing she could rely on to liberate her from the suffering sea of reincarnation. She expressed gratitude once again for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s immense, compassionate blessings! Finally, she prayed that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would have good health, keep the Dharma wheel turning, maintain an eternal presence in the world, and promote the Dharma successfully, and that the Drikung Kagyu Lineage.

The next disciple ascended the dais to express gratitude to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having bestowed upon her the opportunity to make a public repentance.

On April 15th last year (2012), while Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was leading all the attendees in a chanting of the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, she had held her prayer beads in her hands yet not been able to concentrate. Her head had shaken aimlessly, and her body had been slanted. After chanting the mantra, she had been severely admonished, and her vest and Dharma texts had been confiscated on the spot; afterward she had only been able to attend in the capacity of a believer. She was grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for not abandoning her, for having allowed her to continue to participate in the general Sunday pujas, and for teaching her where she had gone wrong and that she should take a long, hard look in the mirror.

She repented for having been completely disrespectful toward the guru, for not having had a repentant attitude, and for not having listened to the Buddha or the guru; for not having acted according to the guru’s teachings, for having allowed herself to be self-indulgent and lazy, and for not having kept the precepts or carried out the Ten Meritorious Acts. She repented for not having concentrated while participating in the pujas, but instead having thought about her own affairs; for having disrespected the Three Jewels, seen the guru’s words as being nothing more than a bunch of hot air, and taken the guru’s kindness for granted. She repented for her ingratitude, lack of faith in the Dharma, and disbelief with regard to cause and effect; she repented for not having heeded the guru’s words, and for having allowed her mind to be led along by the Five Poisons. She was currently on the path to vajra hell, yet she had been unaware of this fact. She was grateful to the guru for having confiscated her vest in such a timely manner and for not allowing her to commit increasingly flagrant evil acts; she was also grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having berated her for her evil acts during the general puja, pointed out what her problems were, and caused her to stop committing evil, as well as for having allowed her the opportunity to thoroughly repent.

During this period of time she had constantly felt unworthy of the guru, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas due to having forgotten her original impetus for practicing Buddhism in the first place. After her mother had passed away, a Dharma brother at the Buddhist Center had brought her there, which was the reason she’d had the causal condition to seek audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and thus allow her mother to be helped and liberated by the guru. She herself had been fortunate enough to take refuge in His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche on January 15th, 2006. Over the following six years she had benefited from Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s great benevolence yet not shown any gratitude for it; she had neither practiced Buddhism diligently nor made a firm resolution to be liberated from life and death. She had failed to live up to the standards of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s earnest and well-meaning teachings. Despite her having committed all sorts of evil acts, the guru had continued to look after her and care for her in the void.

She repented that she had not had a truly repentant mind or a sense of shame. She was always committing evil acts, making mistake after mistake. When certain situations arose, she would shove the guru to the back of her head; she had neither endeavored to protect the guru nor given frequent thought to the various benevolences bestowed by the guru. She had consumed the guru’s good fortune, and had not made offerings or given alms. She had not praised the guru, had interpreted the recommendations given by other people as criticisms, and had sought out trouble, yet had been too embarrassed to examine or admit to her faults. She had not had the determination to amend her evil habits. Prior to taking refuge, she had very rarely come into contact with other Buddhist centers. To a profound degree she wondered how she could have been fortunate enough to encounter and obtain help from His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, yet still not cherished that fact or been grateful for it. She could still remember back when she had just been a believer, when she had had her car accident; had Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche not saved her, then how could she possibly have walked away from it with no more than a scratch on her right foot?

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had told her that she could not die, and that she would only receive superficial wounds. She was grateful to the Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for his compassionate blessings and for allowing her to know how fearful karma, cause, and effect could be; everything she suffered in this life was the result of her past actions. After having had her vest taken away from her this time, she would try even harder to repent for the changes in her attitude in practicing Buddhism, and for having had no perseverance while practicing. During her first year the Buddha had been in front of her; in her second year the Buddha had been in the faraway sky; in the third year the Buddha had completely disappeared, and she had known only to take advantage of the guru, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas. She had not truly wanted to practice Buddhism to be liberated from life and death. She was grateful for the Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s painstaking efforts; if she did not give rise to a great repentant mind, ponder over her painful experiences, and examine her past mistakes, she would be utterly beyond redemption.

She repented that although she was a disciple, she had treated the teachings bestowed by the guru as simple storytelling. Every evening before bed she had not examined whether or not she had acted as a Buddha’s disciple should. She remained selfish, and she had committed more evil acts than she could count, making her unworthy of the trouble His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had taken over many years to teach her, as well as the benevolence of the lineage gurus. She vowed that from this moment on, for the rest of her life, she would abide by the vows and promises she had made to the guru, the Three Jewels, and sentient beings; she would listen anew to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s virtuous Dharma teachings, examine and amend her evil habits, and never make her various mistakes again. It is not easy to obtain human form, to listen to the Buddha Dharma, and to encounter a guru. She had been scattered, disrespectful, and ungrateful, and her attitude had been full of the Five Poisons. She had depended on the Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s reprimands to stop her from committing evil; one by one the guru had pointed out evil habits of which even she herself had been unaware, causing her to gradually look inward to face them, examine them, and repent! In the past she had been disrespectful, disloyal, and ungrateful to the Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, yet the guru had still been willing to give her the opportunity to participate in the pujas in the capacity of a believer. The word “gratitude” was not enough to express how she felt deep in her heart!

She repented that although she was a disciple, over the past few years during her father’s illness she had not been filial as a daughter should or accumulated good fortune for him. She had abandoned her sick father for her younger and older brothers to take care of; she herself had merely taken him into her home to look after for short periods of time during winter and summer vacation. At the end of January of this year (2013), her father had passed away as the result of sepsis brought on by pneumonia. She was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for compassionately liberating her father. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had once said that the best way of being filial to one’s parents was to be diligent in one’s Buddhist practice. She had a profound sense that being able to take refuge in the compassionate Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was a matter of the utmost happiness, and hoped that she would be able to apply herself to her Buddhist practice and be liberated from life and death as a way of repaying the debt of gratitude she owed the guru and her parents.

Next she wanted to repent for all of the evil conduct in which she had engaged. She repented for having eaten the flesh of sentient beings, swatted to death countless mosquitos, ants, and so on, and killed innumerable other sentient beings. She repented for having neglected the kindness others had shown her, for frequently gossiping about people, and for holding grudges against others; for not caring about people, for being indifferent, for having attachments, for being self-righteous, and for always blaming others for whatever might go wrong. She repented for her lack of compassion and Bodhicitta, for not owning up to her faults, and for not reflecting upon her actions. She repented that after taking refuge she had not applied herself to her Buddhist practice, believed in cause and effect, or believed in impermanence; she had felt that being liberated from life and death had nothing to do with her. She had simply chosen to do whichever parts of her Buddhist practice made her happy, only thinking about living a comfortable life; she had not amended her resolve, let alone vowed to cultivate compassion or the Bodhicitta. She repented for not having cherished the Dharma methods transmitted by the guru; she had always just performed them perfunctorily, feeling that work, making a living, and her own life were important, but that her own feelings were even more important. Whenever she thought about herself, she had completely forgotten the guru, the Dharma, and sentient beings; she had not even known how to spell the word “shame.” If all of her various evil habits were to be transformed into a house of some sort, it would certainly be an impregnable prison. She knew full well that without the guru there would be no Dharma and no one to rely on. Deep down, she felt anxious, and wandered through life day after day like a walking corpse.

She was grateful for the Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious teachings and blessings, and prayed that the guru would help strengthen her resolve to break away from evil. Having gone through this incident, she repented deeply, had thought things over, and would never make the same mistakes again. She went on to implore to be able to return to the Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Buddhist Center and to follow the guru, diligently practicing the Dharma until she could be liberated from life, death, and reincarnation so that she could repay the debt of gratitude she owed the guru and her parents. She hoped that everyone could use her as a looking glass and learn from her mistakes. Finally, she prayed that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would have good health and live a long time, and that the guru’s Dharma activities would flourish, maintaining an eternal presence in the world and benefiting all sentient beings.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne to bestow precious Dharma teachings upon all the attendees.

Last time, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche revealed the first and second lessons about cause and effect. Today the guru will continue to explain and reveal Master Gampopa’s teachings of how a practitioner should practice with regard to cause and effect.

The third lesson is that when refraining from evil and doing virtuous acts, one should employ the right views to decide that the true significance of all causes and effects lies in non-duality. This so-called “non-duality” means that while cultivating the Bodhisattva Path, one must be able to practice to the point of having no attachments. Most people in the world think that the term “attachments” refers to attachments to certain things, but in Buddhism it refers to having a discriminating mind. We all use our accumulated life experiences to determine whether any worldly matter we come across is good or bad, long or short, fast or slow, likes or dislikes, etc; this is a way of discriminating, and is the same as being attached. If a true practitioner comprehends Emptiness, then he or she knows that all phenomena are the same; it is just his or her own mind which produces discriminations between them.

Generally speaking, all Dharmas related to reincarnation and Nirvana, before we have extinguished the phenomena of worldly errors, exist in the causes, effects, and dependent origination which are mutually reliant and universally connected to each other. Many people out there say, “While alcohol and meat go through your intestines, the Buddha keeps sitting in the middle of your heart.” This is not something that the average everyday person can say or achieve; you should not use this saying and think that you do not need to keep the precepts or believe in cause and effect. Only after you understand the true state of the Dharma Realm can you realize the true faces of cause, effect, and dependent origination. Before you have attained this, you must deeply believe that everything that happens to us over the course of a lifetime exists as a form of cause and effect, causal condition, and dependent origination, and cannot disappear. All phenomena that occur in the entire universe are manifestations of karma; they all stem from either virtuous or evil energy in the past, and will surface in this lifetime for us to see. All the phenomena which we witness in the future will result from what everyone is doing right now in this lifetime.

Before realizing our Dharma natures, everything we experience with our eyes, ears, noses, tongues, bodies, and minds is a manifestation of karma. In The Diamond Sutra it is stated that everything is like dream, illusion, bubble, and shadow, but only a practitioner who has already attained Emptiness can understand the true meaning of these words which were spoken by the Buddha. Before you have attained such a state, you absolutely must not use this saying to excuse your mistakes. None of you is qualified to use these words, so at all costs you must not do it. Many people say The Diamond Sutra is the king of the sutras; why is that? It is because Buddhist practitioners do not practice for the phenomena which they can currently sense. Neither is it claiming to see or feel rays of light, or any sort of sensation; such is not the Dharma. The right view of the Dharma comes from realizing the true significance of the Emptiness of which the Buddha spoke. In The Diamond Sutra and The Ratnakuta Sutra, the Buddha mentioned many matters related to this. There are also many things written in The Great Wisdom Sutra on the subject of Emptiness.

In both modern and ancient times, we really have not been able to realize by way of science or life experiences the Emptiness of which the Buddha spoke. Only if we practice step by step in a sequential order can we one day truly come to realize it. Many people often talk about the fact that “all phenomena arise from conditions and are Empty in nature,” but to really comprehend the meaning of this saying, if you have not attained this state, then it would just be like listening to mythological tales. How can you attain this state? It is done by immersing yourself in the Dharma, learning, and constantly reducing the number of wandering and distracting thoughts in your mind; as such, through the course of your Buddhist practice, your pure, original nature will suddenly appear like a divine ray of light. This light is not something that can be seen with the eyes, nor can it be detected by any sort of instrument. Science has proved that there are many forms of light which humans cannot see; some of these can be seen using scientific apparatus, but even those are unable to detect the light of one’s pure, original nature.

Some people might try to teach you how to see the light, but this is not very correct, for in Buddhism it is mentioned—especially in The Diamond Sutra—that one should not seek the Buddha in forms, and light is one of these forms. By practicing Buddhism, stopping evil and practicing virtue, and constantly reducing your defiling elements, the light of yours pure, original nature will occasionally appear through the course of your Buddhist practice. It might even appear continuously, depending on how many of your attachments you can break away from and the degree to which you can decrease your fundamental darkness. If you have not achieved this, then you definitely must firmly believe in cause and effect, and nothing you do can serve as a justification to help explain yourself.

All of the various relationships between cause and effect can be divided into two sorts of situations: One is the conditioned “’cause and effect’ of reincarnation”. “Conditioned” means everything you do will produce and exist as energy, which will in turn lead to future changes. Here Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has used modern language to explain it so that you all can understand it more easily. In Buddhist terms, it means it causes you to reincarnate. You don’t have to wait until after you’re dead to reincarnate; as long as you have not yet been liberated from reincarnation, then you are constantly reincarnating every second—whether it be flesh, consciousness, or the universe, you have never stopped reincarnating. If a sentient being’s mind has not yet attained Emptiness, then it is still moving; as such, its karma is certainly moving, too, and will lead to reincarnation. All of our daily actions, thoughts, and speech have an effect on our future reincarnation.

Once we have a very clear understanding that our future is of our own making, then the amount of resentment and hatred we feel toward other people will naturally and very quickly decrease. We won’t even need to think about it, see a psychologist about it, or analyze it, for we will know that we ourselves created it. These things happening to us were of our own making, so of course we must accept them; however, people who believe in cause and effect are extremely few in number. Everyone feels that if he or she has not yet seen any karmic retribution, then it must not have arrived, and that it might not appear until he or she has descended into hell or reincarnated into the next life. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has earnestly and repeatedly said on many occasions that karmic retribution will not wait until the next lifetime; it will begin to manifest in this one. Which Realm you will be born into in the next life depends on your actions in your current lifetime, so before this life is over and your lifespan has come to an end, your next lifetime’s karmic retribution will have already begun to bloom in this lifetime. After a karmic bloom emerges, and before your karmic retribution has born fruit, you still have a chance to change its flavor so that it will not be so bitter or sour. Once a karmic bloom has appeared, if you have not changed but instead insist on stubbornly continuing on in your own way, then your future karmic retribution will be exactly the same as the evil and virtuous acts you have committed. You will not be able to change it; your so-called “fixed karma” will then have emerged.

How can we determine what our next lifetimes will be like? Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has revealed this before, but will go over it once again today. If we undergo frequent surgery and operations in this lifetime, it means our chance of falling into hell will be much higher than that of other people. If a person is greedy, not willing to let go of things, and always wants to quibble—whether over money or other things; even getting on television to yell about buying a cup of tea and discovering it was not poured completely full—this sort of person has a good chance of spending the next lifetime down in the Hungry Ghost Realm, and after getting out of there, he or she will certainly be born into poverty. If, in this lifetime, you often steal things from other people or cheat them out of their money, then it doesn’t matter what methods you might have used; you will very probably be born in a poverty-stricken place in your next life. Thus, you can pretty much see where you are likely to end up before you pass away. People who will descend to the Animal Realm are sure to fall into a complete coma before death. Many people think that passing away while in a coma is a good death, like passing away in your sleep. Though this might be the case due to the fact that people who die this way do not trouble their family members, they themselves are very miserable. If one suddenly falls into a coma and then passes away, there is a very high chance that he or she will descend into the Animal Realm. This is written in the sutras.

Another of the Buddha’s titles is “Sugata.”  Many people do not understand this word; actually, it refers to the fact that while in Nirvana, the Buddha did not undergo any suffering other than slightly showing signs of illness. Still, the Buddha understood very clearly when and how He would pass away, and before dying the Buddha lay down in an auspicious posture. This is not the same as a certain Dharma master up north who had people help arrange his body in this way, who had people using bamboo sticks to prop his legs into a lotus position; none of that counts. “Virtue” refers to a compassionate and virtuous result. If someone is a practitioner, and a genuinely virtuous person, then before that person passes away you will not see any sort of frown or worry on his or her face, nor will that person’s face contort or undergo a lot of torment or pain. Some people, in order to extend their parents’ lives by a day or two, will apply first aid or CPR. Such things have the possibility of being causes which can send their parents into hell. Many people misunderstand, thinking that they can just play things by ear after they are gone, and that before that, in this lifetime, they are heroes. If you committed neither virtuous nor evil acts while you were alive, then after you pass away these omens will not appear. Even the manner in which cats and dogs will die has to do with how they have acted in this lifetime.

According to what is recorded in the sutras, monastics and practitioners should not raise cats or civets because these animals have extremely heavy karma from killing. There was once a report out of England in which they followed a street cat around and discovered that every day, without fail, it would go outside and kill birds. It did not eat these birds; it simply killed them. Another cat was found to act the same way; this is because such is their nature. For this reason it is recorded in the sutras that one should not raise cats. That is not to say that cats are bad; rather, as the result of your feeding and taking care of one, it will kill all of the birds in the forest around it. Dogs don’t act this way unless they are hungry. If they are not hungry, they will not bite other animals to death, unless they are hunting dogs—but that is another matter entirely.

Everything in the sutras was written for fear that we might produce the conditioned “’cause and effect’ of reincarnation”. You should not believe that it’s okay to go ahead and make what money and obtain what things you can, and then amend your behavior afterward; it will absolutely be too late for that. No matter how much money or power you have—even if you have the best doctor in the world by your side helping you—if you have never spent any time practicing Buddhism before you die, then even if you have done a lot of things for your country and its people, all of which come back to you in the future, you still will have to face karmic retribution for any evil acts you have committed. If you want to practice Buddhism, then first and foremost you must have a deep belief in cause and effect. If you are still at the level of an ordinary person, then everything you say, do, and think is certain to produce effects. You should not accumulate bad effects. As for virtuous effects, it is okay to accumulate lots; evil effects, however—even evil causes as small as a grain of sand—you should not accumulate, at all.

Don’t think that tiny things don’t matter; after gradually accumulating, there will be a pile of them. Everything starts small; cancer is like this, too: After slowly eating meat and fish, in the end your cells will have turned into the cells of animals and fish, so naturally you will get cancer! In the past, very few pet cats and dogs got cancer; nowadays, however, about ninety percent of them succumb to the disease. Perhaps the reason is that there is a problem with the food they eat. Why have there been reports all day long about poisonous food? As Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche told everyone a few years ago, before these reports even came out, sentient beings living in the Age of Degenerate Dharma have heavy karma; even the things they eat have poison in them. Don’t think that having money will guarantee your being able to eat good food, or that being poor means you necessarily will eat bad food; those are not relevant factors. Sentient beings have heavy karma and do not believe in cause and effect. Even the medicines they take are poisons; the only difference is what the poisons attack in their bodies!

The so-called conditioned “cause and effect” of reincarnation leads to karmic retribution of suffering and happiness, which are felt to varying degrees and which depend on the various virtuous and evil karmic causes everyone produces. Therefore, anyone who wishes to abandon suffering and obtain happiness must refrain from evil and do virtuous acts. All day long you say you want to live the good life, but that isn’t something the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can give you. If the They could simply give us a good life, then why should we practice Buddhism? If the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas could do such a thing, then in light of Their compassionate standards, no one on Earth would be suffering. Why are there still so many people suffering so much? It is all of their own doing. As a Buddhist practitioner, if spend all day long hoping that your Buddhist practice will make you better, then of course it will. However, the Buddha taught you to refrain from evil, yet you haven’t; you keep saying it doesn’t matter, that you haven’t started or aren’t ready yet. You think that keeping the precepts and going vegetarian is inconvenient in that it might cause you to lose your job or not be able to find a husband or a wife. This means that you are unwilling to break away from evil. Will people such as that find happiness in the future? No; it is not possible. This is cause and effect.

Take Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, for example. When he was thirty-six years old, he went completely vegetarian for a year before taking refuge in Buddhism. If Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had not immediately broken away from evil and devoted himself to doing virtuous deeds, then the guru would not still be in this world today. The reason Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is still alive is not that the guru is so good at practicing Buddhism, nor is it that he has given rise to great good fortune. In fact, the guru has many afflictions, too. Just as Master Gampopa taught, a practitioner who achieves attainment in Tantra will naturally attract many disciples. At the same time, karma will emerge, because there are bound to be all different kinds of disciples; if their guru does not possess samadhi views and right views, there are liable to be many problems.

Why is the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center so strict? It is because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche believes in cause and effect. After having listened over the past few Sundays, you should have learned that many things are related to cause and effect; imploring for something will not result in your obtaining it, unless you are willing to change. Don’t think that burning incense, worshiping the Buddha, or reciting from the sutras every day will allow you to implore for the things you want. What happens to the fruit born of the seeds you planted in the past? Do you think that after reciting the Buddha’s name or worshiping the Buddha, the evil effects from any evil causes you created in the past will simply disappear, so that there is no cause and effect? If cause and effect did not exist, then even your virtuous causes planted by worshiping the Buddha would be non-existent, too. Without those virtuous causes, how could virtuous effects come into being? Wouldn’t that be a paradox?

Don’t believe what non-Buddhists say, that by yourselves you are unable to purify the evil you have accumulated over past lives in this lifetime, and that you can confess all of your sins to God, dumping all that burden onto God to shoulder for you, which is the only reason you listen to what God says. This concept is quite frightening—dumping all of your wrongdoings onto someone else to take responsibility for them in your place—but everyone likes it this way. As long as it’s something everyone likes, then they all think there’s nothing wrong with it. After making a mistake, they confess so that their sin is dumped onto God. They believe in God because they want God to take responsibility for the evil acts they have committed. This would be very gratifying, wouldn’t it? On the spot, a disciple who used to adhere to a non-Buddhist religion indicated that this was indeed the case; that it was very frightening.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued bestowing teachings. Being able to have someone else shoulder the burden of your mistakes by running over and confessing them is also the reason members of the mafia believe in non-Buddhist religions; it is because by confessing, they think they can dump it all onto God’s shoulders and be done with it. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche happens to have seen a report about it recently, which is why the guru understands that that’s the way it has been; because they toss all of their evil acts to God, making God bear their sins, take pity on these sheep, and take them away. Do sheep have IQs? Do they not understand how to do things? They all follow the lead sheep; if the lead sheep falls off a cliff, everyone will follow. We are people; we have abilities and the IQ with which to resolve our own life problems. This sort of superstition is not desirable good choice.

Now things have gotten so terrible that even China’s traditional Taoism has undergone fundamental changes. In Taoism they don’t say you should dump your sins on the Jade Emperor, because he wouldn’t want them! Taoism does not speak of this; rather, it teaches you to practice with diligence, to say nothing of the fact that in Buddhism this is stated with even more clarity. Why is everyone in such a state of chaos these days? It is because people nowadays think it doesn’t matter; that if they make a mistake, they can dump it onto someone else, making that person take responsibility for it while they themselves remain heroes and can continue on to do other things. All of you imploring the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have the same sort of attitude. You tell the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas that you have done something wrong, but even though you have admitted your faults, you still want the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to let you have a good life. If you get cancer, you tell the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas that you got it because of your wrongdoing, and then implore Them to keep the cancer from giving you a hard time so that you can apply yourself to your Buddhist practice. Isn’t that so? Is this any different from how people act in non-Buddhist religions? There is no difference; it is completely and exactly the same.

Will imploring this way get you what you want? Why didn’t Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche implore the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas back when he had cancer? It was not that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas were incapable, but rather that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche believed in cause and effect; he was the one who loved to eat fish, so it served him right! He deserved to get cancer! What about you? None of you thinks you should get cancer; your attitude is that if you are such good people who love your better halves and treat your children so well, then why should you get cancer? Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went on to say: If you say you love your wife or husband and children, then why do you still eat meat? Do those animals not have wives, husbands, and children?

You truly are terrible; you all practice Buddhism with greedy thoughts, and you really don’t believe in cause and effect. Do you think that you can change just by chanting a little bit every day? Never mind your past lives; in this very lifetime you began to consume fish and meat while you were in your mothers’ wombs; a life for each fish—how many lives do you have with which to repay them? Can you repay them just by doing a few morning and evening prayers? They aren’t even alive anymore! This is the reason Bodhisattva Samantabhadra warned us that we should practice Buddhism with haste. You should not rely on Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to give you blessings or make your lives better; you do not believe in cause and effect. You must not think that since Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is so excellent at performing the Phowa, all you have to do is to implore for the Phowa from the guru and that then you will be set for life! Imploring for it does not mean you will necessarily obtain it; if you do not have sufficient good fortune or causal condition, you might not be able to obtain the Phowa, because you will not be able to find Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. This has happened many times before, but none of you thinks it could ever happen to you.

If you want to be happy in the future, you absolutely must break away from all evil. People are all very impatient, however; they hope that all of their suffering can disappear immediately, that their lives will improve right away. Since when do things ever happen that fast? For example, if you wanted to build a skyscraper, you would need at least a few years’ time; however, if you wanted to demolish one, then with enough dynamite it would be gone in just a few seconds, or a week at most if you were using wrecking balls. All of this tells us that destruction can be accomplished very quickly, whereas building is a very slow process.

Such is the way of the entire universe. Similarly, it takes a very long time for a planet to be born; however, it can be destroyed by an explosion in the blink of an eye. After the power of evil acts has matured, it is a lot more powerful than the power of good. Why is that? It is because there is too much evil collective karma on Earth; more than you would dare to believe. Even when you are watching television, and you see actors yelling and cursing about this and that and you start yelling along with them, this is collective karma, too! When you feel elated at seeing someone slaughter a pig, you have engaged in collective karma; when you feel happy at seeing a man’s wife smack his third and fourth mistresses around, this, too, is engaging in collective karma. What is collective karma? That man’s wife is certain to get what’s coming to her in the future, so you will have your share of it, too. You shouldn’t say such things; what is there to be happy about? Some people are very strange; they are so happy watching such incidents that they cheer them on. Some people even say things like, “Check it out! She got beat down!” This utterly confounds Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. There is a lot of evil collective karma in the world, and not enough good collective karma. Therefore, if you have done a few tiny virtuous deeds, then once all of the evil accumulated throughout your past lives,plus all the evil collective karma in which you have participated ever since you were born into this life—the power of this evil will absolutely be greater than the power of any good you have done.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is always exhorting you not to be haughty and arrogant while practicing Buddhism. You should not dwell on how good you are at practicing or chanting. Whenever you become haughty and arrogant, the power of good immediately diminishes by half. This is because as soon as you become arrogant, you use up your good fortune. This is the reason that Buddhism urges everyone not to be arrogant or haughty. People who hope to abandon suffering and obtain happiness therefore must refrain from evil and do virtuous acts, without even pausing to think. A little while back a person wrote Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche a letter in which he said that he had once followed another order in which he had learned Tantra, yet all the while had eaten meat and even run a non-vegetarian restaurant. After his daughter had taken refuge in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, she had come home and urged him to quit, so he had written Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche this letter to ask, “What exactly should I do? Open a vegetarian restaurant to form affinities with sentient beings, or get out of the restaurant business altogether?” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said that the fact that this man had asked these questions showed that he was reluctant to part with money. Many people think that opening a vegetarian restaurant is a way to form affinities with sentient beings. Says who? The only way to form such affinities is to stop accepting money from customers.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche rarely eats at vegetarian restaurants; going to other restaurants is the way to form affinities with people, thereby giving them an opportunity to refrain from killing. What sort of affinities do you form? If a thousand Glorious Jewel disciples suddenly went to eat at a restaurant that serves meat, then wouldn’t that stop its proprietor from killing fish or other animals for an entire day? This is the only way to help him form affinities with sentient beings. If the proprietor of a vegetarian restaurant informed you that a Dharma master had told him to open an all-you-can-eat vegetarian buffet in order to form  affinities with sentient beings, and was wondering why he was still losing money—if you hear such words, then in future you should stop patronizing this restaurant, because he is running it out of greed. If he were to truly form affinities with sentient beings by not accepting money, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would take people there every day to cheer him on. He says he’s forming affinities, but isn’t he still accepting money just like before? On a day when he’s in a good mood, he might give ordained practitioners a slight discount; on a day when he’s in a bad mood, however, when seeing ordained practitioners wearing kasayas of good quality cloth, he would still charge them the full amount. This, therefore, is not forming affinities; if you want to do business, then do business—but don’t use Buddhist terms to speak nonsense.

How do such problems come about? They come from not having made a firm determination yet when choosing or renouncing which causes and effects. You’re thinking you used to run a restaurant that served meat dishes, but now you’ve changed it into a vegetarian one. So what? Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did not tell you to do anything. You think yourself very high and mighty, because you have changed yourself; however, amending one’s ways is something that all people should do. The Buddha wants you to change for the better, but does not want to obtain another disciple because of it. The Buddha exhorts you all to amend yourselves, for the Buddha does not wish for sentient beings to constantly fall back into reincarnation or the Three Evil Realms; this is the reason you are urged to change. After changing for the better, you will have prepared to earn the good fortune of virtuousness with which you can repay your debts of karmic retribution which stemmed from your past evil acts. In this way, you will be able to repay them. Back when Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche got skin cancer, it was the result of refraining from evil and doing virtuous acts, and of having good fortune with which to repay his debts.

Why do some people never get cured of their illnesses, no matter how much they implore the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas? It is because they are still doing evil. They would say they are not, thinking that eating vegetarian, prostrating to the Buddha, and no longer getting angry means they have stopped; but in actuality, they still are. They still don’t listen to what the guru says, and they still adhere to their own methods when practicing Buddhism; thus, they are still doing evil. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is different from other, reincarnated gurus in that he has achieved his attainment in this lifetime, as has been verified by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has undergone all of life’s “suffering that men cannot bear,” as you call it; if any other man were to have taken his place, he would long since have become dispirited and disappeared from this universe! This is because only after experiencing so many things does the guru understand that all causes and effects are linked together, and do not just occur singly. If you do not make a firm resolution to amend yourself, act according to your guru’s teachings, then no matter how much you make prostrations, recite sutras, or implore the Buddha, you will just be spinning your wheels.

Even if you have cancer and cannot be cured, it’s okay! If you use your flesh and blood to repay your debts in this lifetime, then you will no longer need to do so in the next. However, no one believes such words. The reason Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did not beseech the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas when he got skin cancer was that he wanted to repay his debts, and did not want to have to still be repaying them in the next life. You should repay what you can in this lifetime; why wouldn’t you? To give a simple example: If you owe someone money and are plainly able to pay that person back within a month, yet you do not, instead wanting to put it off for ten years, then if you bump into that person such a long time later, he or she will say you still owe him or her money, right? Even so, none of you wants to repay your debts. In this lifetime we still have these bodies of flesh and blood with which we can repay our debts; this is better than waiting until the next life to repay them, because we don’t know which Realm we will reincarnate into. If you use your physical bodies to repay your debts in this lifetime, then at the very least you know without a doubt that you are repaying them.

Only through illness are we able to form aspirations. An aspiration is not about doing volunteer work; it means giving rise to a diligent mind, the Bodhicitta, and resolving not to retreat from the Buddhist path in this lifetime. Tantric practitioners use diseases as tools for their Buddhist practice. If you do not suffer from an illness, then forcing yourself to practice Buddhism might be difficult. A person suffering from a disease, on the other hand, learns from it how frightening cause and effect are, because the illness drives him or her to practice Buddhism diligently. Some people say they want to coexist peacefully with their cancer cells and practice Buddhism together with them. You shouldn’t speak such a foreign language; cancer cells don’t understand these words. All they understand is, “I’m settling my debt to you.” If you are willing to continuously repay your debts, then they naturally will torture you less. Say, for example, you owe a man NT$100; if he knows you are planning on repaying him ten dollars a day, then he still might call you for the first few days, but after that he’ll stop, for he knows you are definitely going to pay him back. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was cured of his skin cancer, but the guru did not say so. If Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did not practice Buddhism, then the skin cancer could come back at any time; that is, the guru’s debt still has not been paid up.

If you think that your karmic creditors of past lives should not do anything bad to you as long as you dedicate merits from reciting The Medicine Buddha Sutra and The Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows to them on a daily basis, then you are wrong! No matter how much you recite, you cannot repay them for the lives you owe them—unless you yourself can be liberated from life and death, in which case they can follow you into liberation; only then can your debts be repaid. As long as you continue to reincarnate, you still owe a debt; it’s just that the extent of the debt you owe might vary. This is because as soon things stop going your way—whether due to sickness, marriage problems, or issues with your children—your very first thought is to want to fix these problems. Once you want to resolve them so that you are happy with the situation, the first thing you think of is to do something that will benefit you. Whenever you want to do anything that benefits you, you are running contrary to the Dharma, because its purpose is to benefit sentient beings.

Thus, your wish to undergo electrotherapy or chemotherapy, and to get a bunch of relatives and friends together to talk to your husband, wife, or son, is actually a desire to benefit yourself. No one investigates the reasons a marriage fails or a son doesn’t do as he’s told; everyone searches for a ton of excuses, or says it’s because it’s a single-parent household. Are single-parent households so monstrous? A single-parent household is still a household nonetheless; there’s no difference between one parent and two parents, because you cannot possibly be together every day, right? Apart from at night time, when the two parents might sleep in the same bed, there are certain to be times when one of them has to leave to go to work; isn’t that then the same as a single-parent household? Many absurd, lost, and mistaken concepts continue to exist in our minds, and these run enormously contrary to the life views taught by Buddhism. The Dharma tells us that all the social customs and practices we think are correct are not necessarily correct; likewise, not all the social customs and practices we think are incorrect are necessarily incorrect. We should regard everything through the lenses of Buddhism and wisdom. Even if we are unable to change or disengage from these social customs and practices, at the very least we must not exacerbate them. Our only recourse is to endure.

Why should you cultivate the Six Paramitas? Only by enduring everything that a person cannot endure will you be able to accumulate good fortune; this is especially true of women. Females are naturally more attached to the emotional side of things; if they can cultivate forbearance with regard to emotions, then even if they do not practice, their attachments will still be broken. Once these emotional attachments are broken, their good fortune will begin to accumulate. Why do some people’s homes gradually become more peaceful after they begin to practice Buddhism? It is not because those people have changed; rather, it is because they are practicing forbearance. The forbearance referred to in Buddhism means first accepting the fact that in the past you really did plant some seeds of evil, and then practicing forbearance while in such a mindset; it does not mean forbearing like a stick in the mud. You should change your mode of thinking and so on, and you must of course use some common sense as well so that your current situation does not worsen overly much. However, that does not mean avoiding the issue or changing in a way which results in immediate harm to someone else.

You all really must have a very clear understanding of the torment that results from causes and effects which cause you to reincarnate. Furthermore, no matter how much you are suffering or how happy you are right now, you must break away from all evil. Don’t expect that things will change for the better within a week of your amending your behavior; you shouldn’t dwell on this. We really don’t know how much we owe from all of our past lives; only the Buddha knows that. Once your mindset is resolute, you have faith in the Three Jewels, and you believe in the ways taught to us by the Three Jewels, then one day your debts are certain to be completely paid, for as such they cannot possibly follow you into the next life. This decision lies with you.

First is the conditioned “’cause and effect’ of reincarnation”, and second is the “unconditioned ’cause and effect’ of Nirvana.” This means to practice the cause of immensely profound Emptiness in every Dharma which is far away from extreme views and conceptual proliferation. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is speaking on this subject today, although only a handful of you understand, the guru is going to talk about it anyway. Afterward perhaps you will have the causal condition to gradually come to understand. How is a Buddhist practitioner to break away from the ego and attachments? We must distance ourselves from all extreme views; that is, from discriminating between have and have-not, good and bad. In our lives, as soon as we understand things—even from the moment we are born and conscious—we have already begun to discriminate. For example, a young child can taste the difference between sweet and bitter; he or she might not be able to express it in words, but is conscious of it nonetheless. This is because in each of our past lives we have formed the habit of discriminating; as a result, as soon as we were born into this lifetime we already had that ability, quite naturally. In order to distance yourself from this, you must use Buddhist practice, after which your attitude must leave these sorts of attachments behind. Whenever you see or hear something and decide that it is good or bad, this is the result of a reaction within your mind. If your mind does not move, then “good” and “bad” will be nothing more than words.

To give an example, you can find plenty of reasons which will justify invading someone else’s country; likewise, the country being invaded can find plenty of reasons which will explain that it is the victim. If we look at this problem from the perspective of cause and effect, it’s not about who hurts whom; there is certain to have been someone on one of the sides who killed someone on the other, so the latter is seeking revenge in this lifetime. However, people who do not believe in cause and effect are of course very susceptible to attachments and the ego, and these things are very difficult to disengage from. The source of absolutely every war has to do with cause and effect. Only people who are able to cultivate a profound belief in cause and effect can gradually distance themselves from extreme views and conceptual proliferation; it is very difficult to cultivate this Dharma method if you do not believe in cause and effect. Why was Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche able to achieve attainment relatively quickly? It was because the guru learned at home from an early age to believe in cause and effect; as a result, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was quite naturally able to enter the Dharma methods taught by the Buddha and his guru.

Once you believe in cause and effect, your views, attitude, and conclusions will be different from those of other people, and you will naturally have a less discriminating mind. Why is the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center able to do without major benefactors? This is because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche does not have a discriminating mind, and would not ask you each to donate NT$1,000,000 to be a commissioner so that the guru could conduct Dharma activities. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche believes in cause and effect and causal condition. Once one has sufficient causes and conditions, one naturally will be able to complete many Dharma activities very smoothly; if one does not have enough causes and conditions, then no matter what sorts of fundraising methods one employs, they won’t work.

Next the guru raised the subject of “Dharma which are the causes of profound Emptiness.” This is very difficult to explain, because you have not yet reached this state. To put it a bit more simply, it means all phenomena in the universe; “Dharma” here do not just refer to the Dharma, but to all phenomena to do with matters, things, and people. None of these can detach from the causes of Emptiness; in other words, all phenomena arise from conditions, and are Empty in nature. There used to be a lot of stories about this in Zen; for example, a Zen master’s cup fell to the floor with a clang, and the Zen master suddenly realized that all phenomena arise from conditions, and are Empty in nature. Some were hit by a stick and immediately attained such enlightenment; another example is when the Venerable Mahākāśyapa attained enlightenment after seeing Shakyamuni Buddha smile with a flower in hand.

These things did not occur randomly; they were accumulated after a very large amount of practice, and only came into being once they possessed the causal condition for them. They could not be implored for, or obtained by thinking about them, or by chanting for them; this is true, because such a thing once happened to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, too. One time, while in retreat, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had finished eating and was moving around in the retreat room when he said humorously, “I’m exercising because I’m afraid of getting a potbelly.” As the guru walked back and forth, his foot accidentally kicked the leg of the stool with a clack. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche came to a complete state of meditation and immediately had a realization about the dependent origination of Emptiness. This absolutely cannot be explained with words, nor was it a position, environment, or moment in space-time which the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas had set in advance for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche; not at all. The suddenness of these occurrences comes from the fact that the practitioner’s cultivation has been developed to such a degree that a sound, movement, or even a gust of wind or a phrase can help the practitioner to be enlightened.

It is said that Zen is not to be written down. Many people misunderstand this to mean one does not need to be literate to practice Zen. The reasoning behind “not to be written down” comes from the fact that literature cannot explain this state of Zen. Written words cannot explain this state vividly and thoroughly; only people who are very experienced can realize this state. If one is not very experienced, he or she cannot help you to attain enlightenment. An experienced person is not someone who has passed through this state, but rather someone who has arrived in it, and only then has realized what kind of material you all are made of. If you have never experienced this state, then no matter what you are taught or told, you’ll only be spinning around the words. “Not to be written down,” as they say in Zen, is because this state does not exist in writing; it is completely a realization of the mind, which is why it is said to be extremely profound. This is because it is not life experiences, academic knowledge, or any sort of understanding which can allow us to realize the meaning of the Emptiness of which the Buddha spoke. Actually, Emptiness has no meaning; it means nothing at all.

Herein lies the particularity of the Dharma: It is not a thing that some god or other gave you, nor will you necessarily be capable of achieving what it teaches you; all it does is teach everyone to simplify the complicated things and even all become, in the end, completely the same. The point of the Dharma is absolutely not to help you accumulate more possessions. So, if someone teaches you that you should visualize and eventually see a light, this is not the Dharma, because this was neither written in the sutras nor stated in Tantra. In the sutras it is clearly recorded that the current Buddha epoch is that of Shakyamuni Buddha. Why would something be taught that is not written in the sutras? As such, it is incorrect. Although the sutras do mention various lights being emitted by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, those are Buddhas and Bodhisattvas—and such lights are not visible to an ordinary person sitting in meditation.

In The Ratnakuta Sutra it is mentioned many times that all great arhats should enter samadhi whenever they want to know something. All arhats have already transcended the states of the Four Dhyanas and Eight Concentrations, which is how they are able to enter a true state of samadhi; this cannot be entered simply by sitting still for half an hour. Mahasattvas do not need to enter samadhi; why is that? It is because Mahasattvas constantly exist in a state of Emptiness, unmoving. Do you think the Bodhisattvas enter samadhi? Actually they do not; anytime one enters samadhi, one is practicing the conditioned Dharma. However, before one has attained Emptiness, samadhi is still necessary, for it is the only path to unlocking one’s wisdom. Don’t misunderstand; Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is not telling you that you do not need samadhi. We all require samadhi; only those with the fruition level of a Bodhisattva do not. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did not make this up; it is based on what is written in The Ratnakuta Sutra.

Many people who read the sutras are unable to comprehend its meaning. In the sutras it is mentioned that the Venerable Prince Ananda and a few other great venerable practitioners, before seeing and understanding something, would mention that they were in the state of samadhi; however, when the Sutras talked about the Bodhisattvas, samadhi was not brought up. The Bodhisattvas all spontaneously revealed the Dharma; this is because they were only able to achieve this after already having dwelled in Emptiness. Practitioners who have not yet attained Emptiness must continuously write drafts. There are also people who talk a heap of nonsense, constantly making groundless proclamations as if they are true. To attain Emptiness, one must constantly practice rather than practice intermittently; only in this way will one have the opportunity. Some people miss the pujas, and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche will tell them to stop coming altogether; this is because they have interrupted their Buddhist practice. Some people might ask, “Do my efforts from the times I attended before accumulate?” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche stated that although those efforts still exist, they are not merits; they are simply good fortune which can be used in the next lifetime. This is written in the sutras, which is why the guru is always urging you to continue your practice without interruption. Some people think this will affect their daily lives. In fact, it will not; practicing Buddhism really won’t affect your daily lives.

The sutra goes on to mention that as a result one can attain the fruition of the Great Bliss Body in which the three bodies are as one taste. “Three bodies are as one taste” refers to the Nirmanakaya, the Sambhogakaya, and the Dharmakaya. In the sutra it is stated that the Buddha has three bodies: Nirmana, Sambhoga, and Dharma; however, in the Buddha’s state of being, these are not divided. For ordinary people they are divided; they are divided for people with differing root capacities. In The Amitabha Sutra it is mentioned that Amitabha’s Nirmanakaya will come to receive sentient beings who vow to be reborn there. It says that the Nirmanakaya’s arrival indicates that the people being received are not yet Bodhisattvas; if they had attained the fruition level of a Bodhisattva during their lifetimes, then it would be the Buddha’s Sambhogakaya which comes to receive them. In other words, the Amitabha Dharma method is for those who in this lifetime do not have the root capacity to attain Emptiness and who cannot attain the fruition level of Bodhisattvas, but who have already given rise to a strong renunciation of this world. Therefore, any Buddhist practitioner who does not have a mind of renunciation will be unable to achieve attainment in any Dharma method.

What is a mind of renunciation? It is a definite resolve to leave the mundane world of reincarnation. Everything you recite, pray, and learn is done to leave the mundane world behind; the purpose is not to dedicate these actions to cancer cells, your husband, your mother, etc. All of these things are worldly Dharma; they are conditioned Dharma, but do nothing to help you renounce the world. When reading the sutras, you must understand what you read; is it written in The Amitabha Sutra that one must chant the Buddha’s name as a dedication to one’s parents? Not at all. The Buddha even stated in other sutras that one must make dedications, but never said that these dedications should be given to one’s parents; rather, they should be given to sentient beings so that they can obtain good fortune and learn the Dharma.

We must first gain a clear understanding of what our status is. We are not Bodhisattvas; this being the case, how do we break away from reincarnation? We do so by way of a mind of renunciation. This does not mean you should stop going to work, not get married, or not go to school; don’t go home and say Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche taught you to renounce worldly things and so you don’t have to study anymore. You still need to go to school, because a cause produced in one of your past lives has emerged in this one as karmic retribution which wants you to study or get hit by your parents, so you still have to repay that debt. Don’t go home and say things such as, “Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche told us we don’t have to go to school anymore because we need to renounce worldly things;” if you have not repaid your debts, then you will be unable to renounce the world.

Why do we practice Buddhism? It is so that we can renounce the home of reincarnation. Some people would refute this; isn’t the point of practicing Mahayana Buddhism to return to this world to fulfill one’s vows? Earlier, you were all taught about cause and effect; ask yourselves this: Have you attained the fruition of a Bodhisattva in this lifetime? If not, on what do you base your aspiration to return to this world to fulfill your vows? You clearly are not Bodhisattvas; how can you have the future karmic effect to be Bodhisattvas? You are not, and this is why Shakyamuni Buddha introduced the Amitabha; it was so that everyone could practice safely in Amitabha’s Pure Land. There they could continue to practice until they had attained Buddhahood, and only then would they return to this world to fulfill their vows. This does not mean you are not allowed to make any vows; rather, you should not use superstitious means to make your vows. You all must stay within your bounds, and ask yourselves if you are made of the right stuff. If not, then stay where you are and act properly.

You should not think that the Sambhogakaya is a higher rank; if you had not attained the fruition level of a Bodhisattva, then when the Sambhogakaya approached you would be scared. When the Nirmanakaya comes near, you will be able to accept it; it will cause you to be unafraid. It is an emanation of the Buddha’s compassionate power and aspiration, and is coming to receive you. However, if you do not have a strong sense of renunciation, then the Nirmanakaya, the Sambhogakaya, and the Dharmakaya will all have nothing to do with you. If you do not have renunciation in mind, then no matter how good you get in this lifetime at chanting the Buddha’s name—even if you assist people with recitations—in the end, as you pass away, you will suddenly give rise to a thought. You might think that because you have recited for others so many times in this lifetime, you should return as a Bodhisattva! Such a thought will be your undoing, for it means you have no mind of renunciation. This is true unless you have attained the fruition of a Bodhisattva in this lifetime; if not, then you really should not return.

Don’t think that you are a Bodhisattva just because you are practicing the Bodhisattva Path; if you had attained the fruition level of a Bodhisattva, you would definitely possess some abilities. Yesterday there were so many believers who came to seek audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche; if the guru had not had any abilities, then he would have been killed by them. There was a female believer who brought her daughter with her, saying that her daughter had itchy skin, and that the doctor had said it was because the child was under a lot of pressure. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche took one glance and knew that this was definitely not the case; rather, it was the mother who was putting pressure on the child. Because the mother wanted a divorce, she had discussed a hypothetical situation with the eight-year-old girl, asking her how she would feel if her parents were to get a divorce, if her father were to leave, and if her father were to stay. That would put a lot of pressure on a child, wouldn’t it? There are some female attendees present who also have done this sort of thing.

If Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did not have any abilities, wouldn’t the guru have been played to death by her? The mother felt very sorry for her daughter, when actually it was the mother who was the source of the problem. As soon as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche pointed this out, she knew that she had done it, and after going home they did not have any more problems. If the guru had not exposed the truth, but had simply told her to recite from The Medicine Buddha Sutra some more and perform more penitential rites, then no matter what she did, the situation still would not have changed, for she would not have found her cause. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s point in telling this story is not to single out this believer, but rather to tell you all that if in this lifetime you have not achieved attainment in certain abilities to benefit sentient beings, then it means you are still ordinary people. Thus, you should find peace in your status, and make a firm resolve to renounce this world. Only people with minds of renunciation can produce any effect when chanting the Buddha’s name. If you are still holding onto the hope of returning to this world to fulfill your vows, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche will not oppose you, but given that you still have not attained the abilities of Bodhisattvas, it is impossible for you to return to fulfill your vows.

Supernatural penetrations are not practiced in Exoteric Buddhism, whereas they are to some extent in Esoteric Buddhism. The purpose is not at all to show magic tricks, but rather to know the minds of sentient beings. If you do not know the minds of sentient beings, you do not know their causes; as such, how can you help them? You cannot solve problems simply by performing penitential rites and chanting the Buddha’s name. You must be able to hit the nail on the head and penetrate to the depths of a person’s mind so that at the very least he or she is no longer causing trouble. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said humorously that there are a lot of people in Taiwan these days who came from the Cave of the Silken Web.

From the Buddha’s point of view, which of the three bodies of Nirmana, Sambhoga, and Dharma is produced depends on the sentient being. If a sentient being is the same as the Buddha, then they will not be separate. You all must understand your status very clearly; only then can you avoid taking the wrong path. If you want to see the light, then you have to be a Bodhisattva, because then you will already have entered the Dharma Realm. This, however, does not mean closing your eyes, breaking a hole in the wheel, and seeing the light through it; Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche confirms with emphasis that this absolutely is not the case. To truly see something is to look at it from within the state of samadhi, and such a samadhi requires one to keep the precepts very clearly. There are many specious Dharma out there; you must all be more cautious.

According to what is written in the sutra, “Practitioners who hope to attain unexcelled complete enlightenment must constantly practice the cause of extremely profound Emptiness in every Dharma.” Therefore, there is definitely something wrong with still having attachments yet saying that you are the Buddha or a certain generation of Dharma master. If you did not plant this cause, then how can you possibly reap its effect? When constantly practicing the cause of extremely profound Emptiness in every Dharma, how do you practice the cause and effect of reincarnation? Speaking on the one hand about Emptiness, while on the other hand causes and effects are still appearing, is a paradox. How would you address it? As Shakyamuni Buddha encountered the Nine Difficulties after attaining Buddhahood, just how would you face this sort of thing?

In the sutra it is mentioned that before we have attained the understanding of the true meanings of all phenomena or been purified of ourselves, any causes we plant will result in thus effects. During this time, causes and effects are absolutely real and precise; we must refrain from evil and do virtuous acts. Before we have realized the appearance of the Dharma and Emptiness, and before we can understand the true meanings of all phenomena, we must be one hundred percent devoid of any doubts with regard to the law of cause and effect, for there will be absolutely no room to haggle. Don’t think that doing a virtuous deed is enough to counter an evil one; there is absolutely no way of countering it, for each has its own path. If this were not true of you all, then you would not be able to cultivate any subsequent Dharma methods. People who do not have a profound belief in cause and effect are very scary; why is that? It is because they cannot be liberated from life and death. How can people who do not believe in cause and effect have faith that what they learn and practice will help them in the future?

Anything happening right now is the result of something that happened in the past. That is not to say that you should face it and accept it; rather, you should allow it to happen. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche often teaches everyone to “live by adapting to each rising condition and keep calm no matter what happens.” In this lifetime, whether your conditions are good or bad, they are all things of the past; they have never stopped. Good conditions will not stop for you to enjoy them for a single extra minute; once the condition has ceased, it is gone. The same is true for bad conditions; they will definitely pass, yet your suffering cannot possibly cause their duration to be shortened by a single second. If the power of the condition has not been spent, then it will continue to exist. “Keep calm no matter what happens” means no matter what you encounter in your environment, in the process you must remain calm; your mind must dwell in the Dharma taught to you by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. What is the Dharma? It is not being attached, and believing in cause and effect.

If you are in the midst of suffering and are able to accept cause and effect, you will have a much more positive outlook. During the year that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had no money to buy food to eat, he was quite happy. Why is that? It was because karmic retribution from having been miserly and greedy in past lives had caused Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to have to repay his debt in this lifetime by not having food to eat. At the time, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ate one meal a day and still had to perform full prostrations. Still, the guru did not experience any physical problems, because he was in a different frame of mind. If it had been you in the guru’s place, you would have worried about not getting enough nutrition as a result of eating too few meals in a day; the next day you would have told yourself the same thing, and the third day as well. As such, you would have continued to lack nutrition.

You know that there definitely is a cause behind your suffering from hunger today. One time while in retreat, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went for two or three days without anything to eat because the Ani in charge of cooking, when her shift ended, had forgotten to tell the next person that someone was in retreat in that particular room. As a result, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had not been given anything to eat. If it had been you, you would have been miserable; how could you have lasted for a few days without food? There was a disciple who tried this once; the person in charge of delivering food brought it to the wrong door. Many things have to do with your past causes. These things crop up in abundance when you practice Buddhism; when you do not practice, they appear more slowly. As soon as you practice, things happen immediately. Perhaps you were originally meant to go hungry for a decade, but because you practice, it only takes going hungry for two or three days or even a month to repay your debt.

Being miserly and greedy will definitely result in karmic retribution; from now on, you must not stop other people from making offerings. However a person makes offerings is to do with his or her own causal condition. If someone asks you your opinion, don’t say, “to rejoice;” “rejoicing” is feeling very happy at seeing someone else do a good deed. As Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has taught before, you may tell others to go with their first decision, and then don’t think further on it; doing so would be reneging. Before we have gained an understanding of our Dharma nature, we certainly must refrain from evil and cultivate virtuousness without compromising at all. Don’t tell yourself that everything will change for the better after you start practicing Buddhism; rather, you should tell yourself that by beginning to practice Buddhism now, you are accepting all things that are bad.

Back when Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche first started practicing, the guru frequently implored the yidam, “If death is good for me, then let me die; if being sick is good for me, then let me be sick; if being healthy is good for me, then let me be healthy.” What does “good” mean? It means being able to repay one’s debts. You are all too afraid to say these words; you all say, “Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, allow me to be a bit more healthy; make my husband listen and practice Buddhism with me; make my son come to practice Buddhism a bit sooner.” Contrary to what you might believe, nowhere in the sutras are these things written. Why has Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche advanced so quickly? It is because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is foolish enough to say these things which you do not dare to repeat. But none of you should mimic the guru; if you say these things, perhaps tomorrow you really will have died. Do not be a copycat; Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is simply explaining the difference between you and practitioners.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has never said to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas anything like, “I have such an aspiration! Let me live a few more years so that I can bring it to perfect completion!” Many people say such things, but the more they do, the more likely they are to die early. What is the reason for this? If you have never implored for it in the first place, then your good fortune will slowly accumulate; the more you implore for it, however, the more obvious it becomes that you have not attained that fruition level in this lifetime. As such, why wouldn’t your karmic creditors be afraid? They might as well just stop you from living, and take you all with them. Thus, you should not implore anymore; you should not threaten or force the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas! If you are made of the right stuff, then when there are sufficient causes, conditions, and effects, a favorable situation will naturally appear without your even needing to ask for it.

Ever since the first day Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche started practicing Buddhism, not once did the guru ever think that he would ascend the Dharma throne to perform the Dharma or that one day he would become a Rinpoche. The guru never thought about it, nor did he ever implore for such a vow; still, the maturation of causes and conditions forced the present situation to arise! Practicing Buddhism is very natural; it involves a natural law of the universe—cause and effect. The law of causality is absolute. As long as you begin to practice Buddhism, then in the future you will definitely be able to enjoy the resulting effects. As for when, there is no way of knowing; Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche does not know, nor does the Buddha. Why don’t we know? It is because your minds constantly change, and with each change the resulting effects slow down a bit. It is very difficult to stop sentient beings from changing; this is not at all an easy task.

It is important that you all listened very closely to the Dharma taught today by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Nothing of what was said was for the benefit of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche or the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center; rather, it was for your own future. The future lies in the hands of each one of you; if you were able to grasp the Dharma taught today, it will have struck a chord in you. Whether or not you understood it is not important; if you were able to listen without resistance as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche taught it to you, then you will have obtained great blessings today. If you muttered to yourself and resisted today’s teachings, then the blessings you will have obtained are miniscule. Resisting is the same as doubting, and that means you doubt the Dharma.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche emphasized again that the Dharma was not created or thought up by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, but rather was based on that which the gurus and Shakyamuni Buddha had taught; the guru speaks only from the Dharma, without adding or subtracting. Plus, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is a very experienced practitioner whose experiences from his cultivation verify that the Dharma is indeed true, and has never been mistaken; the only things mistaken are our minds. We must not blame our mistakes on anything else; all of them are our own fault. We must clearly understand what our problems are; thus, the future will be bright and better without us asking for it. As long as we continue in this manner, we will be okay. You should not constantly implore for a heap of things every day; if what you implore for cannot be fulfilled, what are you doing imploring every day? It’s just a waste of time. If you have so much time on your hands, it would be better for you to chant the Buddha’s name a few extra times. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has also seen people who take an A4 piece of paper and recite from it every day, imploring every day, and making a ton of dedications; but in the end, all of this is just useless talk. That’s all we have time for today.

The puja came to a perfect completion. In unison the disciples expressed gratitude for His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious teachings, and stood to pay reverent homage as the guru descended the Dharma throne.

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Updated on January 13, 2014