His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – December 22, 2013

At the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Taipei, disciples and believers listened respectfully to a Dharma recording of the general puja held on April 20th, 2003, during which Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche taught of the mental preparations one should make before learning the four uncommon preliminary practices.

Before the puja began, a disciple expressed gratitude to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having bestowed upon her this opportunity to share her experiences of how she had sought audience with the guru and her causes and conditions for taking refuge. There before the attendees, she made a public repentance.

At around October of 2006, her mother-in-law had been diagnosed with dementia. Her brother-in-law had said that a schoolmate of his had introduced him to a very remarkable Rinpoche. He and his father had already taken his mother to implore for the Rinpoche’s help, and they had been planning to go again that week. They had asked her and her husband to go with them.

In May of that year, her father had committed suicide by taking poison. She had once heard that after they have died, people who commit suicide will constantly go through the motions of killing themselves over and over, suffering repeatedly from the pain of their deaths. At the time she had kept hoping that she would one day have the opportunity to encounter a true practitioner who could liberate her dad so that he could have a chance to abandon suffering and obtain happiness. Thus, upon hearing her brother-in-law’s invitation, she and her husband had readily agreed to go, and had very much looked forward to being able to seek an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

On the day that they went to seek an audience, when it was their turn to approach His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the guru had compassionately asked them, “What’s the matter?” Her brother-in-law had reported his father’s health issues to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, mentioning as well that he had brought his mother there the previous week to seek an audience, and implored the guru to bless her father-in-law. After , His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche compassionately blessed her father-in-law for quite some time, her brother-in-law had taken his father home with him, leaving her and her husband alone with the guru.

Her husband had reported to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche that she had diabetes. The guru had compassionately told them that they should go vegetarian and practice Buddhism. After hearing His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche say this, and because she had not had sufficient respect for the guru at the time, she had responded, “I’ve already begun eating vegetarian!” His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had admonished her by saying, “Do you think that’s all you need to do?” Then the guru had stated that they were not respectful, and told them to come again the following Saturday.

After she and her husband had left, they had found a place nearby to discuss and reflect upon His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s words, and had wondered why the guru would say that they were not respectful. Just then, the thought had suddenly occurred to her husband that he had wanted to implore to participate in the general Sunday pujas. He had not mentioned this to the guru moments before, so they had returned to the Buddhist Center to implore His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. The guru had compassionately granted her husband’s request, and beginning the very next day her husband had begun to participate in the weekly Sunday pujas.

After returning home, she would often recall His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s reprimand: “Do you think that’s all you need to do?” She would also frequently reflect on the fact that the guru had told them they were not respectful. She had known that there was most certainly a reason behind everything His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said; it was simple ignorance on her part that had caused her to be unable to comprehend. Over the next two Saturdays in a row, the guru had not received any believers, so for three weeks she had not had the causal condition to seek audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

After her husband’s first time participating in the Sunday puja, he had told her, “We should no longer be eating partially vegetarian; let’s go one hundred percent from now on.” It just so happened that she had been thinking the same thing, so she had said, “Excellent!” After participating in a few of the weekly Sunday pujas, her husband had gone ahead and taken refuge in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Admiring her husband very much, she had thought to herself, Well done! Now even you have taken refuge. Okay then, when will I have the causal condition to seek audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche again?

Right about that time she had thought of her deceased father. Every day, for the forty-nine days after her father had passed away, she had dedicated a recitation of the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows to him and to other sentient beings. At the time, the only thought on her mind had been that she wished to practice Buddhism in the footsteps of a master practitioner, and to never reincarnate again. Now that she really had encountered such a master practitioner, her resolution to practice had been galvanized, and immediately afterward she had finally had the causal condition to see His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

When seeking audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, she had implored to be able to participate in the pujas and to take refuge. The guru had compassionately answered, “Fine then; go and register!”

She was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having allowed her to take refuge, and to her father for having given her the causal condition to encounter the guru and take refuge.

Right around 1999 or so, she had been diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, otherwise known as “insulin-dependent diabetes.” Prior to taking refuge in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, she had experienced hypoglycemia on a number of occasions. Whenever this happened during the daytime, if she knew her blood sugar was low, she would immediately take a glucose supplement, and after resting awhile would gradually recover. However, it had also happened while she was riding her motorbike home from work, and she had been unaware that her glucose levels were low; as a result, she had not been very alert, and had gotten into an accident. Whenever it happened at night after she had gone to bed, her whole body would break out in a cold sweat, and she would be dead to the world; on several occasions her condition had been so severe as to be life-threatening. After taking refuge, however, and while under the protection and blessings of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, she had never again fallen unconscious as a result of having low blood sugar.

After a puja one time, her glucose levels had fallen to 29; however, she had still been able to go and buy herself something to eat. Her older sister had “insulin-dependent diabetes,” too, and two months previously had fallen unconscious when her glucose levels had been in the 50s, whereupon she had had to be rushed to the hospital emergency room. The disciple knew deep down that if she had not taken refuge in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, she would already have died on multiple occasions. The guru had saved her life, and had bestowed wisdom life upon her as well. She was grateful for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings and protection which had allowed her to have a bit more time in this world to practice Buddhism.

Here she wished to repent before His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and the sentient beings in the Six Realms for all of the evil acts she had committed. She also repented on behalf of her parents and ancestors of past lives for all of the evil acts they had committed.

Both her father and his father before him had been butchers. Her grandfather had sold pork at the markets and from their home, and from an early age her father had helped to slaughter the pigs. Later, her father had decided to open up his own slaughterhouse where he had killed pigs and sold pork, and ever since they were little, the children of the family had helped out by processing the butchered pigs at the slaughterhouse and selling their meat at the vendor’s stand. After making a bit of money from the pork business, her grandfather had bought quite a few pieces of real estate one after another. Relying on profits from the slaughterhouse business, her father not only had raised her and her five siblings, but on top of that had accumulated some wealth; as a result, her family had been rather well off when she was little. However, her grandfather had succumbed to diabetes and high blood pressure, and from it had suffered a stroke when she was in sixth grade, leaving him bedridden. Unable to eat or go to the bathroom by himself, he had needed constant care to satisfy all of his daily living requirements. Furthermore, because her father had slaughtered pigs and sold pork for so many years, the constant strain from carrying the heavy animals had done injury to his lumbar vertebra. When he was younger, he had become deeply addicted to gambling, and every now and then she would hear about some piece of land or house or other that her grandfather had sold to help her father pay off his gambling debts. Later on even her uncle had begun to gamble, and finally their ancestral home had had to be sold off as well.

In her earliest recollections from childhood her father had had a very bad temper. When scolding people he would yell very loudly, with his eyes glaring wide and a fierce look about him. It had been quite frightening. From an early age, therefore, they had learned to avoid their father whenever possible, and she had never grown very close to him at all. Nevertheless, her father had still cared for them very much, so in her heart she had both loved and feared the man. Still, she had never quite dared to get on more intimate terms with him.

Later on her father had had an affair. One time, during a fight between him and her mother, her mother had taken a kitchen knife into the fray, carelessly wounding her father in the calf. After hearing the news, the disciple’s younger brother had rushed home. Deeply troubled, he had said, “If the two of you still can’t get along after being together for so many years, then you might as well get a divorce!” Upon hearing this, their father had immediately taken their mother to the Household Registration Office to get a divorce. Afterwards, however, both of them had regretted it.

His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche once stated, “Sons and daughters have no right to mind their parents’ business.” She had come to a profound realization of the absolute truth of these words; if her younger brother had not said what he had said at the time, then their parents might not have acted so impulsively by getting a divorce.

After her parents had split, their children had seldom visited her father. The most they had done to show concern for him was to ask how he was doing over the telephone. Thus, their father had become very depressed, feeling that no one cared for him and falling right back into his gambling addiction. After racking up a debt of more than a million NT dollars, he had been unable to see a way out, so had killed himself by drinking fertilizer.

She recalled that while killing pigs at the slaughterhouse, her father’s methods had been quite cruel; he had first stunned them with electricity and then directly cut their throats to stop them from breathing. The pain these pigs had endured while being slaughtered was unimaginable. When her father had committed suicide by drinking fertilizer, the caustic liquid had raked through his esophagus like a knife slicing through the throats of those pigs, leaving him in unbearable agony. When the ambulance had taken her father to the emergency room, wasn’t the electric shock treatment administered by there the doctors similar to the way in which her father had stunned the pigs? Right then and there, she repented for the acts of killing her father and grandfather had committed.

His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche once stated, “If you earn a living from killing, then you will not be able to keep any of the money you make. Furthermore, you will suffer many illnesses and a short lifespan, and your family relationships will not be harmonious.” She had discovered how absolutely true these words were! Her family had completely lost all of its land and property; this was totally an example of being “not able to keep any of the money made from killing.” Her grandfather, grandmother, father, uncle, and aunts had either had high blood pressure, diabetes, and strokes, or had gotten cancer. Of the six children, three of them plus their mother had all suffered from diabetes; this indeed counted as having “many illnesses.” Her grandmother, aunts, and father had all died from cancer, strokes, or suicide while in their fifties; theirs had indeed been “short lifespans.” Ever since the disciple had been little, her parents had frequently quarreled, and had even ended their marriage. They had lost contact with their family members; this indeed was an example of “family relationships not being harmonious.”

His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche speaks the truth; everything the guru had said had been verified by their family’s experiences.

In the more than six years that she had taken refuge under the protection and blessings of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, she had lived a life of peace and stability. Yet her mind had gradually grown idle, and she had even forgotten her original aspiration to take refuge.

She repented that when she had implored for a Dharma image of Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara, she had not immediately gotten the image framed. Furthermore, she had allowed its edges to get damaged, and as such had been disrespectful to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

During the puja held on January 8th, 2012, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had instructed any attendees who felt joyous, diligent, and very interested while reciting such sutras as the Lotus Sutra to raise their hands, and for these people to go and have their names recorded. She repented, for she had raised her hand but had not had her name recorded. Early the next morning, just before waking, she had suddenly had a sensation that someone was telling her, “You did not follow the guru’s instructions.” She had thought that she was ordinarily very obedient, but when her own benefit was involved, she had completely ignored His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s words. She had neither listened to the guru nor acted according to the guru’s teachings. She was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and Dharma Protector Achi for letting her know where she had gone wrong.

That Saturday, while His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was receiving believers, she had knelt in the Buddhist Center and repented to the guru in silence. During the following week’s puja, her blood sugar levels had again plummeted. This time, however, she had been very foggy-headed, and had only gradually regained consciousness after ingesting a glucose supplement. Ever since taking refuge, not once had she ever lost consciousness due to having low blood sugar, so she had known that this was the result of a problem with her mind; the difference had lain in whether or not she had obtained the guru’s blessings and been obedient.

She repented for her past epicurean desires and for having harmed countless sentient beings—both intentionally and unintentionally—including cockroaches, ants, mosquitos, and others. She repented for having had an abortion, after getting married and discovering that she was pregnant, for fear that the child would be born unhealthy due to her having taken cold medicine. She repented for having been ungrateful to her teachers and parents, and for not having been filial toward them or her parents-in-law. She repented for not having worked hard at work, for having repeatedly made mistakes, and for having conducted her own business online, causing her boss to suffer losses and bringing much trouble to the customers. She repented for her various bad habits and for being arrogant, self-important, self-righteous, lazy, and selfish, and for never having changed.

She was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having allowed her to take refuge, thus making her able to learn Buddhism in the footsteps of such a meritorious guru in this lifetime. She was also grateful for having been allowed to listen to the Right Dharma, to have the causal condition to break away from reincarnation and be liberated from life and death, and for the sentient beings she had harmed to also have been given the causal condition to abandon suffering and obtain happiness so that she could form such virtuous affinities in this lifetime. She was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche!

Finally, she prayed that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would have good health, keep turning the Dharma wheel, and have eternal presence in the world, so that the Dharma would be spread far and wide and that the Drikung Kagyu Lineage would flourish forever.

Next the disciples and believers listened respectfully to the Dharma recording of the general puja held by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche on April 20th, 2003:

“Now we will discuss the mental preparations you should make prior to learning the four uncommon preliminary practices. Why is this necessary? It is because every sentient being has a different root capacity. After listening to certain Dharma, some sentient beings can give rise to a great joyful mind and enormous faith, and dedicate themselves vigorously to practicing those Dharma methods without any doubts at all. Such sentient beings are extremely rare; the vast majority of sentient beings are skeptical of the Dharma. You would say that you are not, and that you believe in the Buddha. If you did, however, then you would definitely have a profound belief in cause and effect. Do you actually believe in these things or not? You do not. You might mutter to yourselves that you no longer commit evil acts, have begun to eat vegetarian, and have stopped losing your tempers as much. I say that you are only being mindful of these things in their coarse forms, but are failing to pay attention to their many detailed forms.

“To give an example, I told the disciples well in advance that while in India they were not to eat ice cream. Nevertheless, many did not listen, and some got so sick from eating it that they had to go to the hospital. This was the cause: Not listening. Cause and effect constantly repeat throughout our lives; not once have they ever ceased. Each thought we give rise to produces action, and for every action there will be a karmic effect. If we immediately repent as soon as we give rise to a thought, then the force of that thought’s karma will not emerge. However, you always think that you don’t have to pay attention to minor things, even though minor things eventually accumulate to become major things.

“I’ll give another example. There was a female believer who approached me for help after her father had passed away. I told her that the deceased hoped for her four brothers to stop fighting over the family fortune, and I then instructed her to pass my words on to her brothers. This believer told her brothers, however, that their father had spoken this message to her in a dream. As such, she had broken her precepts: First of all, by lying and not owning up to it; second of all, by not listening to the words of a virtuous mentor and acting self-righteously, thereby forming an evil connection with that virtuous mentor; thirdly, she might have ruined the causal conditions which would have allowed her brothers to practice Buddhism. You all make these sorts of mistakes quite frequently. You never do as your guru says; you always change his words into your own. In so doing, you are breaking the precepts and practicing Buddhism self-righteously. It is for this reason that the ancients said it is easier for relatively stupid people to practice the Dharma, for they do not possess as many of their own ways of thinking.

“As soon as we humans are born, we are constantly committing evil acts, whether intentionally or not. We are unaware of this fact, however, and even think we are doing right. When you think you are right, that is when you are wrong and have a discriminating mind; once you do, your compassion immediately disappears. Compassion requires cultivation and training; you cannot simply benefit sentient beings with the power of compassion over the course of a single day. Buddhist practitioners must pay close attention to what they say and do. They are different from ordinary people. If you want to act like a Buddhist, then you must immediately apply yourself to amending your faults. There was once a female disciple, newly taken refuge, who brought her mother with her to seek an audience with me. This mother was very happy, because her husband was no longer opposed to their practicing Buddhism. Furthermore, the father, after observing that his own daughter had begun to amend some of her bad habits within a few months of having taken refuge in me, had begun to think that it was okay for his daughter to learn Buddhism from me. The way you speak and act can cause everyone to see the auspiciousness and greatness of Buddhism. If you are practicing Buddhism for your own good fortune and benefit, then you will not really learn it. A few days ago a pregnant woman came to listen to the Dharma; however, before falling pregnant, she would not listen to it. This sort of ‘opportunist’ cannot learn the Dharma. If they treat the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas with such opportunism, then they certainly act that way toward other people and things as well. Such people are certain to be very selfish and self-serving. They might start out by obtaining a few benefits, but in the long run they are bound to fail in this society. The Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and gurus are not there for you to take advantage of. If you only come when you have a problem, but are absent otherwise, then are you still a person? Some men even tell their wives that they shouldn’t be so uptight, because the guru’s compassion is certain to help them. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are definitely compassionate, but you can only obtain help from their compassion if you possess the faith with which to implore for it as well as the proper causal condition. Don’t think that the Buddhas’ and Bodhisattvas’ compassion is certain to help you. The saying goes, ‘only people who have an affinity with the Buddha will be liberated,’ and only those who harbor a sincere hope to obtain the blessings of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can form such an affinity. The Buddha will not liberate people who have no affinity with the Buddha. You might think that it doesn’t matter if you say certain things, but as a result of your saying those words, your affinity with the gurus, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas will get more and more distant. Don’t think that uttering certain things won’t matter.

“Actually, everything everyone says, thinks, and does every day will generate waves in the void. Astronomers these days frequently receive certain signals, which could be from a few million or even a few tens of millions of years ago. These signals were generated by the thoughts of sentient beings throughout the universe.

“Therefore, as soon as an evil thought arises, everyone knows—including all of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the universe, as well as all of the sentient beings in the Six Realms. When you are constantly evil-minded, then even if you have taken refuge and listened to the Dharma, it doesn’t mean that your karmic effect will definitely be good, for you aren’t giving rise to the right thoughts. Prior to learning the four uncommon preliminary practices, you must be very clear as to what sort of mindset you are in. However, if you are always only out for yourself, you don’t care about others, and you have no intention to give alms, then your life is certain to be wasted; even if Shakyamuni Buddha were to expound the Dharma directly in front of you, it still would not help you. People live in this world for a few decades, and are gone in the blink of an eye; there is nothing worth becoming too attached to. In order to combat the complacency, laziness, and idleness within your mind, you must reflect on death and impermanence on a daily basis. For Chinese people, death is a very taboo subject; no one, young or old, wishes to hear this word. In actuality, however, from the very second we are born we have already set foot upon the path toward our death. For this reason, in Buddhism a birthday is called the ‘day of mothers’ suffering.’ Each birthday you have signifies that your time on Earth has been shortened by a year; what is there worth celebrating? However, sentient beings are ignorant; they think the day they were born was the happiest day of their lives, so they go and celebrate it, even wasting a ton of money on it. They have forgotten, and are unwilling to face or accept the fact, that death shadows each of us every second of our lives. We should not think that being healthy right now or chanting the Buddha’s name every day will delay death; nor is it necessarily true that the severely ill will die right away. It is not. In fact, the purpose of all of our decades of toil to advance our Buddhist practice is to prepare to face those few seconds during which we will die.

“We have no memory of how much we suffered when we were born, but we have all seen with our own eyes, or heard about from other people, the suffering caused by death, as well as the helplessness people feel in the face of it as they cling abjectly to life and their attachments. From a Buddhist point of view, death is not a bad thing; we want to be freed from life and death. If we do not have a clear understanding of death, how can we keep ourselves from being reborn? For if we die, we are certain to be born again; if we are born, we are certain to die again. To become liberated from life and death we must achieve attainment in this lifetime to the point that we will not be reincarnated in the Six Realms. However, sentient beings practicing Buddhism tend to forget this; many Buddhist practitioners think that they should simply accumulate good fortune more quickly so that they can learn the Dharma, realize the Dharma, and attain Enlightenment. Truth be told, these are all just by-products; even benefitting sentient beings is but a by-product. In forty-nine years of expounding the Dharma, the primary lesson that the Buddha taught us was how to take charge of ourselves and become liberated from life and death by way of immersing ourselves in Buddhist training and teachings. Thus, a true Buddhist does not avoid death or abstain from talking about it; on the contrary, a true Buddhist pays a great deal of attention to this matter.

“After we lose our human bodies, when in the next lifetime will we obtain new ones? It is unknown. You absolutely must not think that just because you have practiced Buddhism in this life, you will necessarily be reincarnated as a human in the next. This is not definite, and there is a very low chance of it. Therefore, in order to motivate ourselves to use what limited time we have to implement the Dharma in our daily lives, we must bear firmly in mind that one day these physical bodies of ours are certain to die. We should neither avoid death nor fear it; rather, we must face it. Only once we are able to focus our minds very clearly on this event, which is certain happen to us in this lifetime, can we then encourage ourselves not to slacken off from our Buddhist practice. When it is our time to die, even if all of our family members are around us, they won’t be able to help us. No one can share the process of your death with you; only you alone can bear this burden. If, while still alive, we have not done a good job training ourselves to have the correct mentality, then when the time has come for us to die, our suffering, attachments, and so on will cause us to fall into the vast sea of reincarnation. In order to break away from life and death, we must first remember and clearly recognize the true face of death. The Phowa is a Dharma by which we can learn to understand how to face the process of our own deaths. I’m not telling you that to face death you must go and commit suicide or defile your physical bodies. Rather, you must understand that there are detailed teachings on the physical and mental process of death from beginning to end, which happens before your intermediate body has been reincarnated according to your karma. However, these auspicious Dharma and Tantra are not for ordinary people to learn. If you have no faith in the guru, or are very stingy with regard to the guru and unwilling to make offerings or give alms, then you will not be able to learn them. You absolutely must not think or say, ‘Please, guru, don’t die; when the time comes I need you to perform the Phowa for me.’ Life is impermanent, which means it is ever-changing; don’t think that any master practitioner will always be by your side, helping you.

“Thus, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are constantly warning us and telling us that as we live our lives one day at a time, we are like fish in water, with the water getting a little bit shallower every day. As such, what joys are there exactly which are worth our thinking that our lives are happy? If we still don’t practice Buddhism with a great degree of diligence, facing the most important problem in our lives, then we will run out of time! You absolutely must not say that your career is extremely important, or that you have to spend a lot of time on it. To be honest, if you had enough good fortune, then you would be able to make money without trying too hard; without sufficient good fortune, then you might work as hard as an ox, yet all you would have to eat would be a few vegetables. We must understand that we have no choice but to have these so-called careers and make money; because we are laity, we must feed our families and even pay contributions to society. However, this is just one of life’s processes. Whether or not you are able to get a promotion at work or strike it rich is absolutely related to how much good fortune you have. That doesn’t mean that you will have more good fortune if you don’t practice Buddhism or less if you do; it has nothing to do with Buddhism. Thus, many people tell me that they should study more, and that they can only earn more money by getting well-educated; they say they should go to graduate school and take this test or that test. These people are all avoiding reality; never daring to enter society and face all of its challenges, they hide behind their books in the hopes that the more they read, the better their lives will get. They hope that by studying something that no one else understands, they will be able to earn a bit more money.

“The way we think as humans is backwards compared to the Buddha’s wisdom and teachings. The Buddha told us that this planet exists in the Evil Time of the Five Turbidities, and as such the environment we live in is full of all sorts of evils which would corrupt us and prevent us from leaving the great sea of reincarnation. For this reason, the Buddha constantly urges us to view all of our undertakings, family members, fame, fortune, and so on with an attitude of impermanence. Impermanence is change; if you think your fame, fortune, and family members will forever remain the same, or that by practicing Buddhism these things will get better, your way of thinking is contrary to the Dharma. Therefore, as disciples of the Buddha, we must remind ourselves that impermanence and death are always just around the corner.

“When this disobedient disciple fell ill, she was very afraid of dying. In a single afternoon she telephoned me eight times hoping that I would bestow blessings upon her. Why did she fear death? It was because she did not know what death is, the same as you. You are all afraid of death, even if you say you aren’t or that you have come to accept it. If you really had come to accept it, then you would not be so sloppy in your approach to learning and practicing Buddhism.

“Once a person understands death, he or she is sure to be very diligent, because that person knows that the alternative is to end up alone on his or her deathbed with no one around to rely on for help. You should not believe that recitation assistance groups are helpful. If they were, then I wouldn’t even need to practice; all we’d have to do is donate money to monasteries and recitation assistance groups, form connections with them, and tell them to come and provide us with recitation assistance when we die. If this were enough to send us to Amitabha’s Pure Land, then wouldn’t everything Shakyamuni Buddha taught in the Five Classics of the Pure Land be false? In that text there is obviously no mention that you can go to Amitabha’s Pure Land by having someone else perform a recitation for you. So what makes you think a recitation assistance group will help you to get there? Actual so-called ‘recitation assistance’ means that while alive, you have cultivated the Dharma to a certain degree; while you are on your deathbed, in order to calm and settle your mind, your ‘co-practitioner’ (a Dharma brother from the same mandala who has practiced Buddhism with you) assists you by chanting the Buddha’s name so that you can feel at peace. This is what true recitation assistance is. It is very different from recitation assistance provided to a person who has never practiced Buddhism but has merely taken refuge and recited some sutras; if such a person finds someone to assist with a recitation and thinks that that will be enough to send him or her to Amitabha’s Pure Land, then he or she is sorely mistaken. Unless, of course, he or she genuinely receives help from a Tantric practitioner—that is, a true practitioner of Tantra. However, a very important condition must first be met: The deceased must possess sufficient good fortune and causal conditions; without these things, it would not work.

“Many people have come seeking audience with me over the years, but only a very few have actually known how to open their mouths and supplicate. Whenever they hear me tell them that their family members’ lives are in danger, many of them spontaneously ask, ‘Can I do anything to help?’ I often retort, ‘What can you do?’ This is because they are laboring under a misconception; they think that I will tell them a certain sutra to recite, and that if they recite it every day their family members will be fine! More than ninety-five percent of you have thought this way before. You all think that reciting sutras can solve your problems, but if that were the case, then why won’t it work for you? First of all, it is because your precept body is impure. That is, while reciting sutras and chanting mantras, your thoughts must not wander, and you must not entertain selfish thoughts; this is called reciting without expecting anything in return. All of you recite while expecting to get something in return.

“Secondly, have you made any great offerings? In the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, it is written that in a past life Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, in order to learn which Realm his mother had been born into, made an offering to the Buddha by selling off all of his family’s property. Only in this way did he learn which Realm his mother had been born into. However, many people who come to see me immediately ask, ‘My father passed away. Where is he?’ They don’t even have a respectful attitude with which to make an offering!

Of Shakyamuni Buddha’s disciples, Maudgalyāyana was the most adept at supernatural penetration. His mother had been born into the Hungry Ghost Realm, so Maudgalyāyana used supernatural penetration to take food to her. The upshot, however, was that she was unable to eat it, for anything that entered her throat turned to fire. So Maudgalyāyana asked Shakyamuni Buddha how he could save his mother. Shakyamuni Buddha taught him a Dharma method—’providing meals for monks.’ On the fifteenth day of the seventh month by the lunar calendar, Maudgalyāyana made such a food offering to those monastics who had just come out of retreat. These were Shakyamuni Buddha’s disciples, and they had attained the fruition of arhats. Maudgalyāyana made a great offering to them. On top of that, while reciting sutras and chanting mantras they dedicated the merits of this offering to Maudgalyāyana’s mother, so she was reborn in the Heavenly Realm. This is just one such story. In ‘The Precious Penitential Rites of Emperor Liang,’ Emperor Liang helped his concubine achieve such great merits that she, too, was reborn in the Heavenly Realm. From these two stories it should be very clear to you that to implore for help from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, you absolutely must give offerings. An offering does not mean material things; it means a respectful mind! If you do not implore from within a respectful mindset, then you will not get what you want! Why is a respectful mind so necessary? When you are respectful, your mind is devoid of all thought; it is focused on only one thing—sincerity. Your prayers cannot become attuned if your mind is full of wandering thoughts, greed, or desire; for this reason, you are unable to obtain what you pray for, so reciting all those sutras has no effect for you! However, you have recited sutras, and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas promised us that as long as we do so, They will definitely find someone to come and help us. That is the reason you are all able to come here today and get scolded by me! If you had not recited sutras in this life or in your past lives, then you would not be sitting here today.

“Thus, the reason a guru is very important is that he or she knows where you go wrong in your learning process. I have spoken to you about death today not to scare you, but because we must understand the truth and be very clear as to why exactly we are practicing Buddhism. If we think that the purpose of our practice is to pray for the so-called good fortune of the Human and Heavenly Realms, for our current lives to progress a bit better, and for the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to continuously bless and protect us, then we have succumbed to a non-Buddhist way of thinking. I don’t use the term ‘non-Buddhist way’ derogatorily or condescendingly; rather, I use it because the focus of Buddhism is to seek answers inwardly. This means you should look inside and see yourselves clearly for who you really are.

“Somebody once asked Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, ‘If you are always teaching everyone to chant your name, then what do you chant while holding your prayer beads?’ Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara answered, ‘I chant “Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara” as well.’ This is a very simple story, but it contains a very profound Buddhist concept. As sentient beings, each of us possesses a true nature which has the conditions for attaining Buddhahood. We do not need to constantly look outward to implore people, deities, Buddhas, or Bodhisattvas to give us anything; we already are in possession of all of these conditions. It’s just that we do not know about them and neglect them.

“Strictly speaking, the Buddha is not a religious figure; the Buddha is someone who teaches us how to gain a fresh understanding of our innate essence. Taking this a step further, we cannot call Buddhism the ‘Buddhist religion,’ for to do so would be to deify it. What are religions? Religions involve worshiping and praying to a specific object or deity. Nor is Buddhism a philosophy; it does not seek to analyze all of your past causes. Rather, it tells you very clearly the causes and consequences behind everything you do, and that you can become your own person and take control over your own fate in its entirety. The only way you can achieve this control is by learning the Dharma.

“In the sutras it is repeatedly emphasized that we must be filial toward our parents and serve our teachers and elders. This is because the people in our lives who show us the most benevolence are our parents who gave birth to us and the teachers and elders who teach us the Dharma. The former gave us these bodies, with which we can practice Buddhism; the latter give us the benevolence with which we can become liberated from life and death. This is therefore very important. If one is unfilial toward one’s parents or does not serve his or her guru, then that person cannot claim to be a person. This is because these two things are the most fundamental prerequisites for becoming a person, and achieving them is what sets us humans apart from other sentient beings in the Three Evil Realms. You should ask yourselves; have you met these two prerequisites? If you have not, then you are not qualified to tell others that you have taken refuge in Buddhism.

“Once we are Buddhist practitioners, it is of utmost importance that we take care not to become lazy or idle. Don’t think that taking it easy for a little while is no big deal, or that you can get away with putting your Buddhist practice off for a few years; perhaps the changes that occur over those few years will prevent you from having an opportunity listen to the Dharma in this lifetime or even for many lifetimes to come. Thus, once we have been fortunate enough to come in contact with the Dharma, we must constantly encourage ourselves. For this reason the Buddha told us that death is not something to be feared, although each and every one of us is bound to experience it. Furthermore, each and every one of us must face it and deal with it. Once we can comprehend that death is dogging our heels through every second that we are alive, we are no longer in danger of slackening off. If we are practicing Buddhism in the hopes that we can dedicate what we attain toward benefiting our family members, then sooner or later we will slacken off. Everyone has his or her own causes and effects, and even the Buddha stated very clearly that He could not transform karmic retribution. People obtain results from their own efforts; just because you are practicing does not necessarily mean that your husband’s, son’s, or daughter’s evil karma will immediately be eliminated. That would be impossible. At most, the fact that you are practicing will lessen the effects of their heavy karmic retribution. Thus, once we come to understand this point, it becomes clear to us that there really is absolutely no room in our Buddhist practice for us to slacken off even the tiniest bit. For every thought we give rise to, we must keep reminding ourselves that our time is running out one second at a time. If you take a moment to look back, no matter how old you are right now, things that happened a few decades ago seem as if they just happened yesterday. To put it another way, anything that might happen over the next few decades could happen tomorrow. Therefore, in the sutras it is written that if you do not contemplate your death, then you are quite liable to seek peace and happiness in this lifetime. If you do not think about your impending death, then you will live from day to day hoping for more pleasures in this life. Seeking pleasure marks the beginning of evil karma and the planting of evil causes.

“Our pleasure-seeking is nothing but eating good food, having good things to use, enjoying extravagance, and so on. If we know to contemplate the fact that death is constantly by our side, it will be very clear to us that every day that we are alive simply brings us the results of causes that we planted in our past lives, the karmic retribution of which is emerging right now. Only then, therefore, will we abstain from continuing to pursue our desires throughout the remainder of our days. For example some people, hoping for their children to succeed, will constantly supplement their schooling with afterschool lessons and so on. From a mundane point of view, their intentions are correct; from a supramundane point of view, however, they aren’t so much. This is because whether or not a child can succeed depends heavily upon the causes he or she planted in the past. Even if you did not supplement your child’s learning, or did not want him or her to learn anything, he or she still might naturally succeed. For the sake of their own reputations, many parents place this desire of theirs squarely on the shoulders of their children in the hopes that the children might represent them, thereby making their mothers proud enough to show their faces in public and able to brag about how their daughters are learning piano, how well they are doing at school, and so on. Wasting all that time and money on them has the additional effect of making the children arrogant. Actually, the most important thing a young child can do is to listen to the Dharma. If children become immersed in Buddhism, then they will be more at ease with their studies, for it will be very clear to them why exactly they are studying; this, in turn, will lessen the pressure on them. Many parents think the same thing—that children these days should not learn Buddhism, and that their schooling is more important; once they have graduated, then they can come here to practice Buddhism. They think that once their children have gotten a job, then they should wait until they have succeeded in their careers before they come here to practice Buddhism; or once they have made a bit of headway with their careers, then they should get married and have children, and then they can practice Buddhism after that. So how old will they be before they start learning Buddhism? In the end, they will not have learned at all. All of these thoughts amount to nothing more than self-deception. In order to achieve their desires, these parents are deceiving themselves.

“In the sutras it is written quite clearly that if we practice the Dharma—or even if we are ordinary people not practicing Buddhism—then if we just keep on pursuing our desires without contemplating death, we will be unscrupulous. Why do gangsters shoot people to death? It is because it has not occurred to them that they themselves are going to die! They think they can escape death, and that they’ll just kill anyone who might get in their way. If you were to spend time contemplating your own death, then your perspective on a lot of things—as well the way you address them—will become a bit more relaxed, for you will understand very clearly that when you pass away you will not be able to take anything with you. No amount of fame or fortune can possibly follow us when we leave these meat suits behind. It is just like the story I told a little while ago, the one about the believer whose four brothers were fighting over the family fortune. After his father passed away, he even ran over here to tell me about it. If his old dad had practiced Buddhism while still alive, and early on had brought his young children to practice with him or even told them on his deathbed, ‘I will donate all my things away; they are none of your business!’, then he might not have suffered so much. Why did these people fight over their father’s wealth? It was because they had not contemplated death. Even after seeing their father pass away, they still felt death had nothing to do with them; they thought that his estate was theirs by rights, and that they would be stupid not to fight for it.

“The Buddha spoke the truth. Whether or not you are a Buddhist, you are bound to die, right? Of course you are! Once you genuinely have accepted with clarity that this phenomenon is definitely going to happen to you, then the degree to which you pursue your desires will plummet. Why are we in constant pursuit of our desires? When we are twenty years old, thinking we’re still young, we tell ourselves, ‘Just wait until I become a CEO!’ However, we don’t understand that this thing called ‘death’ is not ruled by anyone’s time schedule; there’s nothing to say that a woman with big ears will live until she’s ninety, or that a man without any earlobes at all will die when he’s just twenty! These things are mentioned in fortune-telling books, but I’ve seen with my own eyes many people with very big earlobes who end up dying sudden deaths. One of my friends had really big lobes; according to all the rules of fortune-telling, he should not have died in his forties, but he did, and quite suddenly. Why? It was because he had pursued his desires; he used to love eating wildfowl and game, and had thereby created karma from killing. He had neither performed good deeds nor contemplated his death; thinking that he was immortal, he had even tried to escape it. In fact, before he passed away I had warned him that his heart was in bad shape. Three times his employees had arranged for him to go and see a doctor, but he never would go. It was not because he was busy; rather, it was because he was afraid that the doctor might tell him that he was about to die. Many people are scared of hearing these words from a doctor. This is very foolish; such people are just trying to escape reality!

“People who do not contemplate death will be trapped in an endless pursuit of their desires, consuming both energy and longevity. It has nothing to do with whether or not they practice Buddhism; everyone is bound to die. In Tantra there is a Dharma which can be cultivated to attain an undying body, but we cannot achieve this. In the long history of the Drikung Kagyu Order, the thirteenth throne-holder of the Order was able to cultivate an undying body; that is, his physical body did not die. He is still living, over at the Bodhisattva Manjusri Buddhist Center on Mount Wutai. Forty-odd years ago, some Rinpoches and lamas of the Drikung Kagyu Order went there to recite a prayer to him with great sincerity, and he even came out to ask, ‘How is our Order doing these days?’ The Drikung Kagyu Order’s uncommon Dharma Protector Achi was also able to attain this. This is Tantra, and does not exist in Exoteric Buddhism. For all of you, the foundation of your Buddhist practice was Exoteric Buddhism, so you are unable to attain an undying body. Thus, your bodies are all bound to die. Once you understand this fact, you will reflect on it, reminding yourselves that every day you live might be the day you die. Only by using this fact to motivate yourselves, therefore, will you be able to keep from slackening off and getting lazy and idle in your Buddhist practice. Many of us practicing Buddhism need some sort of motivation. If we were to motivate you with desire, this would be contrary to the Dharma taught by the Buddha. For example, some groups out there might say, ‘If you donate a bunch of money you’ll be a Buddhist practitioner, and then you’ll be sure to accumulate many merits.’ Using desire to bait people like that is wrong. The motivation we use here is telling you the truth.

“Everything is constantly changing; even your family members. To broaden the scope a bit, even the nation, the world, and the universe are in a constant state of change. This is because all of these are conditioned Dharma, and are produced by means of thoughts of greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt. They are conditioned Dharma, so are constantly in flux. Thus, in the sutras it is stated that the life and death of sentient beings is like a dance, and our lives are like crashes of thunder and flashes of lightning. Therefore, we should not think that these physical bodies in which we live are immortal. In many sutras it is repeatedly mentioned that life is like the dew of the morning; it is very transitory. Whether we live to be seventy, eighty, or a hundred years old, our lives are all very short against the background of space and the universe. We must understand very clearly that in the external world, and in the world of all sentient beings, everything is impermanent. The external world is the entire universe which we can see, and includes all sentient beings. Their lives are all impermanent, transitory, and ever-changing; they are not eternal. In modern astronomy it is well-known that every galaxy in the universe is impermanent and constantly changing, and this verifies everything the Buddha said.

“In the past we used to think that Heaven and Earth were created by certain deities. However, the Buddha taught us that this was not the case; everything is made up of conditioned Dharma which, after passing through the minds of all sentient beings, produce various phenomena. These phenomena cannot possibly remain in any given point of time and space without changing. Everything we see and know lives, dies, and changes. Even after just dabbling in astronomy a little bit, you will learn enough to know that the celestial bodies include stars which have died as well as stars that are being born this very instant. We humans are the same way. Those of us practicing Buddhism must understand very clearly that the entire vast universe is impermanent, and that the tiny universes that are our bodies are impermanent as well. Only once we have accepted this concept will we know how to apply ourselves and receive the Dharma. Modern medicine tells us that every cell in our bodies is replaced once every seven years; this is what is called impermanence. In other words, our bodies are in a state of constant flux between life and death, and this has never stopped; it’s just that we cannot perceive this with our eyes. In the sutras it is stated that our bodies are subjected to ‘fragmentary birth and death.’ Don’t think that after being born, we simply grow up and become mature. Actually, from the very first day we are born, we have begun on our way along the path toward death, drawing closer one step at a time and every second of every day. This is true however well you take care of your bodies, however much good fortune you have, and however advanced medicine gets. No one escapes death.

“Today’s topic is a very serious one, and my purpose in bringing it up is not at all for Buddhism’s sake. We must come to a profound realization of it within ourselves, and after comprehending it we will know how the Dharma can help us. If we do not accept this reality, thinking that we can use the Dharma to extend our lifespans, then we will have the wrong idea. Although Tantra includes the Dharma method of Amitayus, our purpose in imploring for longevity is not so that we can enjoy our time in this life, but rather because we are afraid we won’t otherwise have enough time in this lifetime to practice and attain enlightenment. That is the reason we practice the Amitayus. The purpose is not to become immortal, or to be able to live a few more years so that we can achieve everything we want. Actually, every sentient being for whom I have performed the Phowa over the past few years, prior to passing away, has had thoughts of regret for what he or she thinks of as unfinished business. Our human desires are deeper than the deepest ocean. They have never been totally satisfied, for as soon as one desire is satisfied, the next one appears, on and on and on. Therefore, when you say that you will begin practicing Buddhism after you finish doing something, you are doing nothing but dismissing your Buddhist practice. Once we understand how short and temporary life is, we will know how to accelerate our progress with regard to the Dharma.

“Thousands of years ago it had already been recorded in the sutras that this world of ours does not only exist in the present moment, but passes through the Four Kalpas: Formation, Existence, Destruction, and the Succeeding Void. ‘Void’ here means ‘nothingness;’ it is not the ‘Emptiness’ written of in the Madhyamaka Sastra and the Heart Sutra, and means a completely different thing. With regard to the cycle of the world, once the previous world comes to an end, everything is transformed into the void. After twenty small kalpas, the world’s Kalpa of Formation begins against a fundamental background that is blue in color. This had already been written about in the sutras a few thousand years ago, so when modern astronomers see a nebula begin to emit blue light, we know that this is called the void of ‘intention.’ Next emerges a deep, dark green tempest which moves east, south, west, and north, and for this reason photographs taken by astronomers of the formation of nebulae show its clouds to be in a cross shape; they are moving north, south, east, and west. In the past Shakyamuni Buddha had neither a telescope nor a spaceship, so how did He see these things? Many people think the Buddha was superstitious, when in fact the Buddha was extremely scientific—even more empirically minded and sophisticated than modern scientists are today. In the highest layers of the forming nebula, golden clouds take shape. There are often programs on the Discovery Channel depicting how nebulae are formed, and they show the exact same progression of colors—from blue, to deep, dark green, to golden light. After the golden clouds are produced, they turn to water, and wind begins to stir it, slowly producing the top, middle, and bottom of what is known as ‘Mt. Sumeru.’ Does Mt. Sumeru exist? It does. Why, then, can’t we see it? It is because Mt. Sumeru is not a solid entity. It is a vortex; a great, spinning stream of air. If we could somehow see it by way of clairvoyance, it would have the shape of a mountain. In the center of every mandala plate used in the mandala offering held prior to every puja is a representation of Mt. Sumeru. After Mt. Sumeru is formed, the Seven Metal-Mountains and the Cakravāla, or the Iron Encircling-Mountains, slowly come into being, forming from the bottom up. After that, sentient beings begin to emerge, from top to bottom beginning with the Heavenly Realm right down to the Hell Realm. This is because in the very beginning, the karma of sentient beings is very light; they have not yet created karma or given rise to very much greed, hatred, or ignorance, so are born in the Heavenly Realm. Later, as a result of fundamental darkness and afflictions, they create karma and therefore fall down through level after level. After descending to the Hell Realm, some of them might rise again to the Heavenly Realm; thus begins the constant cycle of reincarnation of sentient beings within the Six Realms. Therefore, having fallen from the Heavenly Realm right down to the Hell Realm, their minds and thoughts grow coarser and coarser. After twenty small kalpas, starting from when the first sentient being was reincarnated into the Hell Realm, the Kalpa of Existence begins. During this time the length of a human lifespan is reduced from infinity to a mere decade, and then gradually increases to a span of 80,000 years. Right now we humans exist in a kalpa of reduction, during which our lifespan has been reduced to around a hundred years old.

“History tells us that Peng Zu lived for a very long time, and was 800 years old before he died. This is no myth; it is real. In the sutras it is recorded that this is the third time human culture has existed, because with our lifespans having been reduced from eighty thousand to a hundred years, a long time has passed; in the meantime, the rise and fall of culture has played out time and time again. Thus, once our lifespans have been reduced to a length of ten years, they will begin to increase again until humans eventually live to be eighty thousand years old. In the future, therefore, human longevity will be reduced. I’m sure you would ask how this could be true, given the increasingly advanced state of modern medicine. If you ask a doctor, however, you will discover that more and more children are dying in hospital than ever before; the percentage is getting higher and higher. These days, besides dying from illnesses, people’s lives are ending every day due to all sorts of accidents. The result of all of this is that overall life expectancy is getting shorter and shorter, so we are dying younger and younger on average. Given the fact that so many people are dying in car accidents at the age of just ten or twenty, you can see that human longevity is indeed being reduced. Thus, we should not pray for our sons and daughters to live longer, because we are living in a kalpa of reduction. Unless, that is, this small handful of us are especially diligent in practicing and immersing ourselves in the Dharma. This group might experience some changes to our longevity, but otherwise it is quite impossible. Why are children these days born with so many illnesses? Why is it so much harder to raise them than it was in the past? It is because human karma has gotten heavier and heavier. This includes the karma created by our parents, the evil acts committed in the past by our ancestors, and the karma of the children themselves, which they bring with them as they re-enter the womb. For this reason, Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha said that pregnant women should recite the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, because there is no telling how much karma a child has accumulated over the course of his or her past lives. After this cycle of increase and reduction has occurred eighteen times, human lifespans will increase to infinity and then begin to get shorter again. If no Buddhas appear in the world during this time, then the kapla will end.

“When the Kalpa of Destruction begins, there will be no new sentient beings in the Hell Realm. That is not to say they won’t fall into the Hell Realm; rather, the evil karma they create as humans will follow them as they are reincarnated into the Hell Realm of another world. As such, the number of sentient beings in this Hell Realm will decrease. During the Kalpa of Destruction, only a minority of sentient beings who have committed the Five Uninterrupted Evil Acts will remain in the Hell Realm, and they will be in Vajra Hell—including sentient beings that have slandered the Dharma and violated the vow of Vajra Ajari. The Five Uninterrupted Evil Acts are killing one’s mother, killing one’s father, killing an arhat, disrupting the sangha, and causing blood to flow from the body of the Buddha. This last one includes maliciously destroying statues of the Buddha. As a Buddhist disciple, if you do anything which is unbefitting of a Buddhist disciple and which leads to others slandering the Dharma, you have caused blood to flow from the body of the Buddha. All of you do this kind of thing quite often. Some people take refuge in Buddhism because they hope to use the virtuousness that exists within this group to help them do business, thereby using the Buddha to make money. This is not right; they should do business according to their own conditions. Causing blood to flow from the body of the Buddha is a major offense. It includes when some people say that the Buddha is not effective or does not help them. Some people are certain to ask, ‘Why are these things so serious? Isn’t the Buddha full of compassion? Why send me to the Hell Realm if I do something wrong?’ It is not that the Buddha wants you to go to the Hell Realm; it is you who cause yourselves to go there.

“How are cause and effect explained? If you are a Buddhist disciple, yet your actions and words are unbefitting of one and they cause other people to be unable to learn the Dharma—which in the sutras is described as cutting off others’ wisdom life in learning Buddhism, then you are committing evil acts which are graver even than murdering someone. Because you have prevented others from practicing Buddhism, your karmic retribution will be to fall into the Five Uninterrupted Hells. This is very serious, so you should be careful of what words you utter, and always think before you speak. This is the reason I often tell you not to argue over your Buddhist practice with your better halves. If you do, this can cause them to slander the Buddha, and the karmic retribution for this will fall on your shoulders, not theirs. Many people say, ‘He is hindering me,’ or ‘Her karmic hindrances are really severe,’ et cetera, but your karmic hindrances are the ones that are severe. If they were not, then how could you be hindered by another person?

“Thus, we Buddhist practitioners must have a clear understanding of what slandering the Dharma means. It can emerge within many people; for example, if someone enjoys reciting the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, and you say to that person, ‘Careful; if you recite the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows too much, ghosts will start following you!’, then this is an example of slandering the Dharma. Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha obviously liberates sentient beings from the Ghostly Realm, so when you tell someone not to recite the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows and that they would be better off reciting the Diamond Sutra, you have a discriminating mind, and are slandering the Dharma. All Dharma benefit sentient beings, and none is better or more potent than another. Rather, their efficaciousness differs depending on the causal conditions of each individual sentient being. If you need help from a particular Dharma method, and obtain benefits from cultivating it, this does not mean that others will necessarily benefit from cultivating it as well. It also does not mean that you cannot cultivate the Dharma methods that others are practicing. Therefore, you absolutely must stop saying things like, ‘I can chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra better than you can chant the Vajrasattva Mantra’—such words are slander to the Dharma. If you don’t like something, you can keep your mouths shut. By all means do not block people or advise them not practice a certain Dharma method. You are not qualified to say such things; only a meritorious guru can, because he or she knows your root capacities, and which Dharma methods you should cultivate. The guru’s intention, however, is not to slander the Dharma. Your minds are slanderous to the Dharma; you speak from haughtiness and arrogance.

“‘Violating the vow of Vajra Ajari’ means breaking the oath you made to the vajra guru who has transmitted the Dharma to you. What is this oath? It is to act according to the guru’s teachings. I have told you quite often that if you don’t like a certain Buddhist center or guru, you should not say anything; just leave quietly, without explaining why you are leaving. You might not have an affinity with that particular guru, Buddhist center, or Dharma method, but you should not take it upon yourself to go and criticize the guru. Just as His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang has taught, deep down if you think of a guru as an ordinary person, then you will obtain an ordinary person’s blessings; likewise, deep down if you think of a guru as a Buddha or a Bodhisattva, then the blessings the guru bestows upon you will be the blessings of a Buddha or a Bodhisattva. His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang also taught that whenever you think that there is a problem with the guru, it is not actually the guru’s problem, but yours. Well, I’m sure you would ask, ‘So is the guru absolutely right?’ When a guru is expounding the Dharma, then yes; he or she is absolutely right. Tantra is different from Exoteric Buddhism; if a guru is not transmitting Tantra according to his or her guru’s teachings, then the Dharma protectors will come and set that guru straight immediately. Thus, when a meritorious guru practicing in accordance with the Dharma reveals the Dharma to you, accepts you as his or her disciple, and even transmits Tantra to you, then if you violate your oath, you should not think that you will be fine as long as you chant mantras and make grand prostrations in this lifetime. On the contrary, you will fall into Vajra Hell just the same. The reasoning behind this is that a vajra guru can help all sentient beings, and enable those with sufficient causal conditions to attain Buddhahood; therefore, if you slander the guru, breaking the oath you made to him or her, then you will also be breaking the causal conditions for a lot of sentient beings to practice Buddhism. The karmic retribution for this is very severe indeed.

“Therefore, I’ll say once again: If you don’t want to remain in this Buddhist Center, you are welcome to leave quietly. I am not afraid of being criticized by you; a guru with the ability to teach the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas would never be afraid of criticism. Rather, I am afraid you might fall into Vajra Hell. By all means you must not think you might get lucky, or that as long as you make a good long repentance when you get home you’ll be fine. Every time you break a precept, you can offset this act by repenting; however, if you break the oath you made to your vajra guru, then no amount of repentance will be of any use. The only exception is by way of a special Dharma method—the Dharma of Vajrasattva, which a vajra guru must transmit to you. Therefore, if any of you here today have ever criticized me or said things like that, then don’t do it again. I am not afraid of your criticism; I don’t even hear it. Even if I did, my mind cannot be moved, so you may keep on talking. However, criticizing your guru is bad for you, so I’ll reiterate very clearly. That is, even the sentient beings in the Hell Realm suffer less than you will, because they still have a chance to go on to another world, purify their karma, and start again. If you commit these evil acts, however, then even if this world gets destroyed and things get a whole lot worse, you still won’t be able to escape; you’ll still be here, suffering.

“A Vajra Ajari is different from the typical Dharma master in which one might take refuge according to one’s causes and conditions. A Vajra Ajari is a guru who can sit on the vajra throne. On the front of every Dharma throne on which a Rinpoche sits, including that of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, is a cross-shaped vajra. This cross-shaped vajra represents the vajra throne; if a person has not attained a certain level of cultivation or reached a certain standard within Vajrayana Buddhism, then he or she cannot sit there. Take me, for example; if His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang had not allowed me to sit here, then I would not dare to; I would never be able to remain seated here, and bad things would happen to me. So who is allowed to sit on a vajra throne? Only a person whose mindset, cultivation of the Dharma, and attainments have all been authenticated by his or her guru, thereby confirming that he or she is qualified to become a vajra guru. What is the difference between vajra gurus and ordinary Dharma masters? The latter can give you the causes and conditions with which to form affinities with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in this lifetime, but they don’t dare—nor is it very possible for them to—guarantee a method for you to be liberated from life and death in this lifetime. A vajra guru, on the other hand, absolutely knows a way to do this, and does indeed dare to guarantee that he or she can help you to become liberated from life and death in this lifetime.

“Becoming liberated from life and death is not something you can necessarily achieve simply by chanting the Buddha’s name; nor is meditation by itself enough. Let me tell you, it isn’t at all. In a previous lifetime, Su Dongpo, a scholar in China’s past, was someone who was very good at meditating. He cultivated to the point that he knew he would be called Su Dongpo in a future lifetime; this is mentioned in his biographies. The Dharma methods cultivated in Vajrayana Buddhism are a bit different from those of Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism. Vajrayana Dharma methods can guarantee our liberation from life and death. The Dharma methods of liberation exist in Theravada and Mahayana Buddhism as well, but they are not very suitable for lay persons such as yourselves to cultivate. For example, if we wanted to practice the Arhat Path, then we would have to become ordained in order to succeed. Every sect and order of Mahayana Buddhism spread from China, whether it be Huayan, Tiantai, Pure Land, or Zen, requires that a lot of time be spent studying theory before you can actually use it in your daily lives.

“You could say that Vajrayana Buddhism takes all the Dharma and condenses them down to the point that it is very potent. Because of this potency, vajra gurus’ demands of their disciples and themselves are likewise very stringent. The reason for this is that a vajra guru has the ability to help all sentient beings with the proper causal conditions to become liberated from life and death. Thus, if you have learned Buddhism from a vajra guru, yet your mind gives rise to evil thoughts and a slanderous attitude, then your karmic retribution will be to fall into Vajra Hell. If this worldly vessel, or this world, were to be destroyed, you would be destroyed along with it; you could not transcend to another world. This is why I have gone into this topic with so much detail before transmitting to you the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices; it is because I hope that you will understand, and that you will not fall into Vajra Hell due to ignorance. You absolutely must not harbor the hope that you might get lucky, or the idea that if you just say a few words they won’t matter; everything you say is bound to result in its own karmic retribution. The only question is when exactly this retribution will come to fruition. However, it eventually will, just as all eventually do.

“Thus, here it is written very clearly that sentient beings who commit these evil acts will remain in the Hell Realm, even if the others gradually disappear from there. So, after those in the Hell Realm disappear, the sentient beings in the Ghostly Realm and the Animal Realm will disappear along with them. We should gradually have come to realize this fact by now, because we humans are constantly destroying the environment in which we live, so many of the sentient beings in the Animal Realm are slowly disappearing. The Earth has already slowly begun to enter the Kalpa of Destruction. For a Buddhist practitioner, environmental protection is very important, you should know. When people in the Human Realm have attained the state of the Second Dhyana Heavens, their consciousness will go to the Second Dhyana Heavens of Light-Sound. After that, the Four Great Heavenly Kings, the Thirty-Three Devas, and all other devas of the Heavens of the Desire Realm will be reincarnated in the Second Dhyana Heavens, and devas of the First Dhyana Heavens will be reborn there as well. Zen practitioners can very easily cultivate to the state of the Four Dhyanas and Eight Concentrations. As the Buddha taught, even if you achieve the highest state of meditation—the Four Dhyana Heavens, the highest state that is the sphere of neither perception nor non-perception—you still will be subjected to reincarnation, unable to break away from its suffering. Therefore, Zen practitioners must be supervised by a very experienced guru, for it is very easy for them to fall into the karmic effect of the Four Dhyana Heavens. The most subtle of notions and the simplest of thoughts can mean the difference between breaking away from reincarnation and going to the Four Dhyana Heavens. This includes the many ordained Zen practitioners these days that are unable to realize this. ‘Mahamudra,’ the Dharma method of Zen practice in our Drikung Kagyu Order, prevents us from having the chance to go to the Four Dhyana Heavens. You can only learn ‘Mahamudra’ if you have first finished the ‘Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices.’ Once there are no more sentient beings anywhere from the Second Dhyana Heavens all the way down to the lowest levels of Hell, this Earth will have succumbed to drought, and all of the grasses and forests will have shriveled up and died. Seven suns will appear one after another, and Mt. Sumeru, the four major dvipas, and all of the heavens will naturally send forth a raging inferno, and everything will be united as it goes up in flames. If we were to see this happen, we would be very horrified. The reason we are constantly placing emphasis on our hope to be liberated from life and death in this lifetime is that one little slip-up could cause you to be reborn in that era, and then you’ll be a goner.

“If you have a large amount of anger in this lifetime, hating anyone you see and not being able to stand the sight of them, then the fire created by this hatred is sure to cause you to be reborn into this era we speak of. Where does the fire come from? It comes from your having too much anger! Just reflect for a moment: Whenever you hate someone and completely lose your temper, your chest feels like an intense fire is burning inside it. It is exactly this force which will cause you to descend into fiery Hell, and to be reborn in a future lifetime during the Kalpa of Destruction. Therefore, it is not that we Buddhist practitioners cannot lose our tempers; we have all the emotions of ordinary people, and losing our tempers once in a while is unavoidable. However, we absolutely must not hold grudges, be calculating toward others, or think that we won’t let up until they have died or admitted defeat. Why shouldn’t we fight with people? First of all, as Buddhist practitioners we should not fight, for fighting leads to hatred, which in turn leads us into the cycle of cause and effect; this will make us reincarnate. Secondly, we Buddhist practitioners should not engender afflictions in others as a result of our Buddhist practice. Many people, therefore, often ask, ‘Is it okay to chant the Buddha’s name in the living room, sitting next to people while they are watching TV?’ I have always been certain to answer that yes, it is. They were probably hoping I would answer them by saying, ‘Make them turn off the TV first so you can chant in peace.’

“You are free to worship the Buddha and recite sutras as you like, just as others are free to watch television as they like. Your chanting of the Buddha’s name can disturb them, too, so what right do you have in saying that their TV-watching is disturbing you? Does the fact that you are Buddhist practitioners make you so great? Do you want the entire world to accommodate you by waiting until after you have finished reciting this sutra or that mantra before they turn on the TV? Such should not be your attitude. It is no wonder that those around you don’t understand, because they have not practiced Buddhism. You are the ones who should accommodate them, because you are the ones practicing the Dharma. If you think your family members are wrong to watch television, or that they should act this way or that, and if this attitude leads to an argument with them over your Buddhist practice and causes them to give rise to hatred, then why are you practicing Buddhism in the first place? You might as well stop. Therefore, we Buddhist practitioners must not cause afflictions in others as a result of our Buddhist practice, our vegetarian diet, or certain things we might wish to do, for that would be wrong.

“One time I was on an airplane, and during the flight we encountered some extreme turbulence which made it a very bumpy ride. Sitting next to me was an elderly husband and wife couple who happened to be foreign-born Christian missionaries. The wife was so frightened that she couldn’t stop crying out. I patted her lightly on the shoulder and told her, ‘You are a good person; your Lord is sure to protect you. Don’t be afraid.’ Upon hearing these words, she calmed down. If I had told her, ‘There’s no need to scream; my Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara will protect you!’, then she would have screamed even more. See, our Buddhist practice does not necessarily require that we impose our standards on other people. The Dharma includes any way in which we can help them; we don’t need to overtly insist that they chant Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s name. Adjust your methods to each individual accordingly. Simply put, while you still lack wisdom, you should not keep telling people that they should recite this or worship that, because you don’t know whether or not they will be receptive to those things. After that elderly couple got off the plane, they actually gave me their card and said, ‘Let’s keep in touch.’ Because I have achieved the standards set forth by the Buddha, anything I do to relieve the suffering of sentient beings is Dharma. One time my younger sister’s Filipina maid came to implore me for help with something. She was Catholic, so I taught her that if she recited the Rosary, her Lord would protect her. Straight away she felt very happy. I could not tell her to recite the Universal Gate Sutra, first of all because she could not read Chinese, and second of all because asking her to recite that sutra all of a sudden would not have been useful, for she would not have believed in it enough. This is why I told her to recite the Rosary. These stories tell us that practicing Buddhism is our own individual affair; you should not think that your status or position is any different from other people just because you are a Buddhist practitioner, or that being one means that you need to put on a display of originality or act arrogant. If you feel like this, you need to amend yourself right away. The real significance of the Buddha lies in the fact that the Dharma includes any method we use to help sentient beings to leave suffering behind. However, in order to apply the Dharma to its utmost incisiveness, you must immerse yourself in it and diligently master the three aspects of ‘precept,’ ‘meditation,’ and ‘wisdom.’ Only then can you benefit sentient beings in an unconstrained manner; otherwise, it is not very likely that you will succeed.

“The Buddha described the four processes of ‘Formation,’ ‘Existence,’ ‘Destruction,’ and ‘the Succeeding Void’ in great detail. This was not to frighten us, nor was it to tell us fairy tales. Rather, while observing the world’s changes from samadhi, the Buddha predicted for us what was definitely going to happen, and reminded us that in order for us not to be born in these future kalpas, we must take hold of our current lives, cherish them, and be careful not to waste our time in this world. Hatred is very dangerous, especially that which stems from feeling that someone else is better at practicing Buddhism than you are. Such thoughts are even more frightening, and you must avoid having them, for people with that sort of mentality will be reborn in the kalpas of which the Buddha spoke.

“After this world goes up in flames, the tempest will bear down fiercely from above, spreading the inferno the world over so that sentient beings are unable to survive, and in the end the flames will join the fires of Hell. That there are fires in Hell is claimed to be true by Catholicism, Protestantism, and Islam. Actually, however, the Hells observed by the Buddha were not limited to fiery Hell; they included an icy Hell as well, for example. It is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows that there are eighteen different Hells, as well as countless subdivisions of various sizes. Once the flames have combined with the fires of Hell, they will burn upward to mix with the conflagration occurring at the end of the kalpa. Because of their very strong karma, all of the sentient beings remaining in Hell will, in the blink of an eye, be reborn in the Uninterrupted Hell of another world. Finally, the flames will continue to rise until they have consumed all the higher levels of the Heavenly Realm, turning everything from the Second Dhyana Heavens on downward into ash. After that, the sentient beings of the Second Dhyana Heavens will be reborn in the Third Dhyana Heavens, and those of the Third Dhyana Heavens will attain and be reborn in the Fourth Dhyana Heavens. Then a cross-shaped vortex will howl upward from below, scattering everything from the Third Dhyana Heavens on down. Everything affected will return to the void. This will last for twenty small kalpas, throughout the process of Formation, Existence, Destruction, and the Succeeding Void. Together, four medium kalpas contain a total of eighty small kalpas, and a span of four medium kalpas is known as a major kalpa. What I have just mentioned is not expounding the Dharma; rather, it is the method of our visualization practice. When we practice Tantrism, this is how we visualize death. As you can now imagine, reciting the sutras and performing penitential rites are among the easiest things to do. All of this is just the tip of the iceberg; some people really continue to visualize like this until they can genuinely see clearly deep within themselves the force of impermanence, after which they immediately become enlightened. However, this Dharma method would be very difficult for you to learn. If I were to try to explain all of this thoroughly to you, I would need to quote from many sutras and describe a lot of theory in great detail. In simple terms, if we were to cultivate this Dharma method of Formation, Existence, Destruction, and the Succeeding Void, then it would be enough for this lifetime, and we would not need to learn anything else. Everything I’m speaking of today, however, is common knowledge meant to help you understand what the end of this Earth and this world will be like. The world is not going to remain unchanging or indestructible forever.

“Some people think that their family members won’t ever die. These are the most foolish people under the sun. They think that if they purchase the right instrument, they can extend their family members’ lives indefinitely. However, this is the stupidest idea ever, for in the end they will have spent all their money but those family members will still die, having consumed all of their fortune at the end of their lives. If these people are so rich that they can afford such devices, then why not use that money, in accordance with what is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, to give charity to folks in desperate need of emergency medical care and pharmaceuticals? The good fortune and merits from such an act would be beyond measure. These foolish people, however, cannot see themselves doing so. They think they have to do everything they can to save their family members’ lives, feeling that other people deserve to die, but they cannot bear to see their loved ones go. However, it is written very clearly in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows that the greatest good fortune and merits come from personally donating medicine and money to people in need, because if we are able to do so, then it could save our family members’ lives. However, many people refuse to believe it, preferring to spend hundreds of thousands of NT dollars each month so that their loved ones can continue to lie abed like corpses. How, then, can they be so stingy as to not spare a few hundred thousand for alms and offerings? Isn’t that foolish? We people of this world do stupid things every day, yet we still think we are intelligent. We create karma every day, yet we don’t think we are doing anything wrong. We live from day to day without doing virtuous deeds, yet we think we are upright human beings. Isn’t that lamentable? We should call ourselves despicable. We live through lifetime after lifetime, receiving the kindness shown us by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas by allowing us to be reincarnated into this world in human form so that we can listen to the Dharma once more. If you do not act according to your guru’s teachings, then what are you but despicable? Wouldn’t that be lamentable? If you act like this, then you are violating all of the pledges you made when you took refuge. You should listen to your guru’s exhortations and to the methods taught to us by the sutras. Don’t think that you can’t attain them, or that what is written in the sutras amounts to no more than a bunch of myths. Everything written in the sutras is correct.

“One year a friend of mine wanted to go to Nepal to learn the Dharma, but had no money. At the time I was getting ready to go to India to participate in a puja, so I gave my friend the money I would have used toward preparations for my trip without telling him what the money had originally been meant for. As it turned out, when my friend came back from Nepal, he gave me a precious salt-sarira, and later this very same salt-sarira saved my mother’s life. When I gave him the money, it had never occurred to me that this action could save my mother’s life; my only thought had been that helping others to accomplish their goals was the best thing. Whether or not I myself can attain Buddhahood or obtain benefits is not important; the most important thing is to benefit sentient beings.

“Those foolish people spend hundreds of thousands every day, but one day all their money will be gone and their loved ones will die anyway. Will the deceased have accumulated any good fortune? Not one tiny bit. In the sutras this is known as ‘people dying with their fortunes exhausted’. Many people think that if they can save their loved one’s life, then they should do it. If they have this ability, then why shouldn’t they do it? If medicine could keep people from passing away, then no one in the world would ever die. We are not trying to save these people’s flesh-and-blood lives; we are trying to save their future lives. If you truly love and care for your family members, then your hope should be that they will not suffer from old age or disease like this again in a future lifetime. You should be working very hard to help your family members accumulate good fortune and merits so that they can attain Buddhahood and be liberated from life and death in a future lifetime. This is what true loving and caring means. If you plant an evil seed just so that you can extend a family member’s longevity in this lifetime by a year or two, then you are actually doing that person harm. Thus, people without wisdom are self-righteous; they are constantly imploring the Buddha to make their family members live to a ripe old age, but the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can neither extend nor shorten our lifespans by a single day. In everything, we reap what we ourselves sow. Even though you could say that performing the Amitayus can extend our longevity, we do not imploring for this on the premises of violating the law of cause and effect; we implore for it so that we can continue to practice Buddhism.

“We must have a clear understanding that this external world—that is, this Earth, this Milky Way galaxy, and so on—will one day be destroyed, causing all of us sentient beings to be unable to continue to live here. Thus, we must accept and understand that the stories told to us by the Buddha are absolutely not myths. Only after accepting this truth can we truly realize that the power of impermanence is not something which we can change or manipulate. Our only recourse is to practice Buddhism very diligently in this lifetime so that we can be liberated from life and death.”

Just then, a spat broke out between some children in the Buddhist Center. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche compassionately told them that everything was fine, and that they shouldn’t cry. They guru said, “This, too, is an example of impermanence. These children were asleep a little while ago, but now they are in tears; you were all enthralled by my teachings, but suddenly you could hear the sounds of children crying. We must be aware, therefore, that everything around us is constantly changing every second. No matter what our plans might be, everything is impermanent. Not only are we able to visualize what will come after this world is destroyed, but we should also observe the changes of the four seasons throughout the year—spring, summer, autumn, and winter—as well as the rising and setting of the moon and sun. These, too, are impermanent, and are known as ‘instants of impermanence,’ or extremely short-lived impermanent phenomena.

“We should understand very clearly that this world into which we were born is impermanent, and that everything we pursue—from fame to fortune to academic prowess and so on—is impermanent as well. Isn’t that an exceedingly negative way of putting it? Shouldn’t you just stop trying, and do nothing at all? No, because once you comprehend impermanence, you will stop putting pressure on yourselves and feeling this so-called ‘fear of failure.’ You will understand that just because you have attained a certain academic position, it doesn’t mean that you have succeeded, and just because you didn’t get the test scores you wanted, it doesn’t mean that you have failed. Everything is impermanent. Understanding this, we will no longer put pressure on ourselves. We must have a clear understanding of our thoughts, especially those from our root of consciousness, and must not be tricked by permanence—that is, the idea that things are permanent or forever unchanging. In Buddhist terms, this idea is a type of demon. It does not manifest in a form that would be ugly to you; it is simply the force which hinders you from practicing Buddhism and breaking the cycle of life and death. Whether these demons are external or exist within your own mind, we call them all demons, and you must be very careful of them.

“This is the demon of permanence, a demon which is eroding you away. For example, if you want to find a location before you die which has good fengshui so that your descendants can live happily through the ages, you have succumbed to the demon of permanence. Or if you get the idea in your head that you want to find a machine which will keep your husband alive for a few more years—this, too, is the demon of permanence at work. Such thoughts of permanence are the source of all suffering. Do you understand what I’m saying? You don’t want to lose anything because you fear loss, but suffering begins as soon as you don’t want to experience loss. Thus, a true Buddhist practitioner feels neither happy from obtaining something nor sad from losing something, because he or she knows that everything is impermanent and employs an ordinary mind. An ‘ordinary mind’ means seeing that both gains and losses are balanced, and are the same; neither is better than the other. Obtaining something is not necessarily a good thing, nor is losing something necessarily bad. Thus, we must visualize in this way every day; visualizing means reflecting peacefully, contemplating, and not just bowling ahead through our lives recklessly.

“Naturally, if you want to practice Buddhism, you must receive the training it gives us. This training involves listening more and contemplating more. Listening more does not mean you should run to many Buddhist centers every chance you get; rather, it means that you are certain to attend and listen whenever a puja is being held here. After listening, you must visualize what you hear by way of contemplation. From a psychological point of view, if you think about something often, then sooner or later it will happen. From a Buddhist point of view, if you think about something often, its power will grow in your mind; thus, your suffering is gradually reduced. The only way to target our suffering is by way of visualizing impermanence; if we do not do this, then no matter how much good advice people might give you, you still won’t hear it. If you understand impermanence, accept impermanence, and even visualize impermanence every day by way of contemplation, then your suffering will recede naturally.

“A couple of years ago or so, my child broke a very fine purple-grained teapot, and he thought for sure that when I got home I would get extremely angry about it, and yell at him and spank him for it. I took one look at what had happened, though, and simply said, ‘It’s okay; just don’t break any more in the future.’ This was because I had accepted impermanence; if I had not, then perhaps I would have lost my temper at my child. Every object is bound to break eventually; if it doesn’t get broken by a child today, then it might get broken by someone else tomorrow, so what use is there in getting mad about it? The reason you get angry is that you have not accepted impermanence.

“Therefore, the Dharma method of ‘impermanence’ is something which every Buddhist disciple must cultivate and visualize. If you do not visualize this Dharma method, instead living your life with an attitude of ‘permanence,’ then you will suffer a lot, both in the mundane world and in the supramundane world. Why would that female disciple call me eight times in a single afternoon? It was because she does not think she will die. She believes in permanence, and that is the reason she made eight phone calls in a single afternoon. If she had had faith in me she would not have called me eight times; once would have been enough. The last time she called, I had a disciple tell her that because she was able to call eight times, it meant that she would not die, because she still had so much energy. After hearing this, she said, ‘If Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche says I won’t die, then I won’t die.’ She can talk all she wants, but all this means is that her faith is insufficient; she only believes something if it comes out of my mouth.

“Vajrayana Buddhism has a special characteristic which is rather different from Exoteric Buddhism. As long as you have complete faith in your guru, then even if you cannot see your guru or your guru is not there to speak to you, the power of his or her blessings still remains with you. Such is the case with me and His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. Over the course of a year, we hardly speak to one another, so how is it that the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang is able to bestow blessings upon me? Ever since I took refuge, I have never implored His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang to perform the Dharma for me. This is because I feel that I’ve already taken refuge in the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, so I trust him completely; live or die, it’s my own life, so why would I bother the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang?

“The reason you are suffering so much today is that you have not accepted the fact of impermanence. Thus, it follows that we must contemplate the inevitability of death. Death is bound to happen to us; you absolutely must not think that it won’t, and you shouldn’t think that you can delay death by even a tiny bit, either. Take, for example, people who spend a few million NT dollars on machines and hundreds of thousands each month just to keep them running, thinking that these machines can put death off a little longer. Once we are one hundred percent certain of the inevitability of death, we understand with crystal clarity that everything that lives must die, and that everything that dies must be reborn. As such, what is there to fear about death? Putting the breaking of the cycle of reincarnation aside, the reason you are afraid of death is that you fear there will be no rebirth after death, right? From the point of view of physics, however, our bodies are bound to die, and from a medical point of view this is also true. Given that you are afraid of death and do not want to die, would your new life come into being? That would be impossible. Thus, you are all full of contradictions. Anyone who has studied computers knows that this sort of logic is erroneous.

“Therefore, the logic spoken by the Buddha is sounder than that used by modern-day computers. If you can accept the fact that you will die, then you are sure to tell yourselves that a new life will emerge for you in the future. This new life can be divided into two different levels; one is the life of suffering in reincarnation, and the other is the life of attaining Buddhahood in the Pure Land. All depends on which road you take. Whichever one it is, your death is inevitable. Why would Shakyamuni Buddha show us death? Given Shakyamuni Buddha’s Buddhahood, there was no need for Him to show us death, but He did anyway in order to communicate to us that this is how all humans will end up. The same thing is true for any sentient being.

“Given the Buddha’s great powers and ability to cultivate an undying body, why would He want to demonstrate this for us? It was because the Buddha wanted to tell us in no uncertain terms that no one can escape death. Therefore, the Buddha’s entire life was a performance for us to watch. You should come to realize the compassion that the Buddha bestows upon us. The Buddha demonstrated for us that death exists and is a phenomenon which cannot be avoided or made to disappear. It will definitely happen to you, whether you like it or not and whether you accept it or not. Therefore, if we do not contemplate the inevitability of death, we will suffer very much in this lifetime. As surely as the sun will set, we are like animals waiting in the slaughter line, our lifespans getting shorter one second at a time.

“This last line is very interesting; our lifespans are getting shorter one second at a time. You have been listening here for two hours, so now your lives are two hours shorter. This refers to your physical lives, but the lifespans of your Dharma bodies are being extended, so if you die here, you’ll be born somewhere else. Although our physical bodies’ time to live in this world is now two hours shorter, our Dharma bodies, or our Dharma natures, have gained two hours’ worth of wisdom. This is why we say that ‘the Dharma body is immortal.’ Our emanation bodies, or our flesh-and-blood bodies, are bound to die. Today I’ve been speaking for two hours about a couple of very simple things—death and impermanence—but you must wholeheartedly accept them, completely and thoroughly. Every day, after you’re done with your work and chores, you should sit down and reflect for a moment. Take a look at the people around you—your family members, friends, and relatives—and notice the changes of impermanence in their lives. Then look at all of the changes of impermanence that have happened to you from when you were born right up until now. Only once you come to realize the existence of impermanence will you also realize that it really is constantly with us every step of the way. However, we don’t look at our lives this way; instead we view our lives from the perspectives of greed, fame, and fortune, which is why we are hung up on the notion of permanence.”

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His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presided over the auspicious Amitayus Puja at the Glorious Buddhist Center in Kyoto, Japan. The puja’s attendees included twenty believers and 172 disciples from both Japan and Taiwan, totally 192 people. The puja came to an auspicious and perfect completion.

At 2:00 in the afternoon, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne to personally preside over the auspicious Amitayus Puja, and bestowed precious Dharma teachings upon all of the attendees.

The guru commenced: “Today the Dharma being performed is the Amitayus. Before any puja begins, the Refuge Prayer must be recited. The first page of it, recited just a moment ago, includes the Refuge Aspiration Prayer. Using Buddhist terms to explain this prayer, it is a ‘preliminary practice;’ what this means is that before doing anything, one must make preparations for it and know why one is doing it. The first type of Buddhism taught by Shakyamuni Buddha was ‘Theravada.’ Theravada is very prevalent in Sri Lanka and the region which includes Myanmar and Thailand, and to practice it one must shave one’s head and become ordained. Shakyamuni Buddha taught that ordained means ‘to renounce the home of reincarnation;’ that being the case, practitioners are not allowed to have a family. To put it in simpler terms, they cannot marry, nor are they allowed to eat meat or drink alcohol.

“The karmic reward of practicing Theravada Buddhism is becoming an arhat. However, for monastics and laity whose root capacities are a bit better, Shakyamuni Buddha provided another teaching method—’Mahayana Buddhism.’ The karmic reward of practicing Mahayana Buddhism is becoming a Bodhisattva, and it is a suitable form of practice for both monastics and laity. Shakyamuni Buddha called male monastics ‘Bhikkhus’ and female monastics ‘Bhikkhunis.’ Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis may not have relations with the opposite sex, do business, or take life, and they must keep the precepts. Thus, anyone who drinks alcohol is not a Bhikkhu.

“The last type of Buddhism is called Vajrayana Buddhism. Mahayana Buddhism, mentioned just a moment ago, became prevalent in China, and afterwards spread to countries such as Japan, Korea, and Vietnam. Buddhism began to be introduced into Japan during China’s Sui Dynasty. That was at about the time of Japan’s Prince Shōtoku Taiji, which is why many of Japan’s monasteries and Buddhist statues took their styling from the Tang Dynasty.

“The last method taught by Shakyamuni Buddha was Vajrayana Buddhism, for which the karmic rewards include ways of attaining Buddhahood. During the Tang Dynasty, a part of Vajrayana Buddhism spread to Japan, where it became known as ‘Tōmitsu.’ The ‘homa’ common in Japan are the same as ‘Kriyayoga’ in Tantra, the entry-level Tantra. However, Esoteric Buddhism was transmitted in its entirety to Tibet. The mindset you are in while the Dharma is being performed today is of great importance. What this means is that you must know what motivated you to come and participate in this puja, because the Dharma being performed today is Tantra; it is not the typical method one might use when inviting someone to one’s home to recite sutras in search of peace and protection.

“The main focus of the four lines of the Refuge Prayer recited at the beginning is the hope that by attending this puja, you will be able to learn Buddhism in the future and help all sentient beings. The second part is ‘the Four Immeasurables.’ The core of Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhism is ‘compassion.’ It requires learning and practice in order to cultivate a compassionate mind. Only by having a compassionate mind can you help sentient beings with the Dharma. Thus, the Four Immeasurables teach us what compassionate thoughts are. These will not be explained today because there is not enough time. If this portion of the Dharma is to be taught, not even one year will be enough time for me to complete the teaching. The third part of the prayer, the ‘Seven-Branch Offering,’ is a method taught by Bodhisattva Samantabhadra in the Avatamsaka Sutra; it teaches sentient beings how to accumulate good fortune by practicing Buddhism. The Seven-Branch Offering is very important for anyone practicing Mahayana or Vajrayana Buddhism. You must all know that today’s puja will only be useful to you if you maintain the proper mindset while participating in it.

“The Dharma being performed today by me is the Amitayus ritual. It does not typically exist in Mahayana or Exoteric Buddhism, and most temples you see belong to Exoteric Buddhism. This Tantric Dharma method was spread to Tibet from India, and Amitayus is the Sambhogakaya of Amitabha Buddha. All Buddhas have three bodies, of which the ‘Nirmanakaya’ is defined as all sutras, Buddhist statues, mantras, and gurus teaching the Dharma, especially helping sentient beings in the Six Realms who have not yet been liberated from reincarnation. The ‘Sambhogakaya’ especially helps practitioners who have attained fruition as Bodhisattvas, while the ‘Dharmakaya’ is the body of all Buddhas who have attained Buddhahood.

“Why doesn’t the Dharmakaya help Bodhisattvas, and why doesn’t the Sambhogakaya help ordinary people? In the sutras it is written that there are ten Dharma realms in the universe and the void; in other words, there are ten dimensions of space—and science has proved that these ten dimensions mentioned in the sutras do indeed exist. We humans live in three-dimensional space, and are unable to see anything beyond it with our eyes, so we can only be helped by the Nirmanakaya. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can see things in ten-dimensional space, so the Buddha can help with the Sambhogakaya. The Dharmakaya can go beyond ten-dimensional space, and only those who have attained Buddhahood can know the Buddha’s Realm.

“Everyone hopes to live a little longer, but where exactly does human longevity come from? At present, neither medicine nor science has a definite answer. Even considering the current state of its development, science has never been able to enable discovery into how we humans get our longevity, nor has it led us to know with certainty what causes a person’s lifespan to be exhausted. As the traditional Chinese saying goes, if one does one’s utmost to do virtuous deeds throughout one’s lifetime, then this can extend one’s longevity. Another condition, of course, is that the person must no longer commit evil acts. In the sutras it is written that human longevity is not given to us by our parents; our parents only give us our bodies for this lifetime, not our longevity. There is mention in the sutras that longevity comes from not killing, from doing many virtuous deeds, from not eating meat, not drinking alcohol, and not smoking tobacco, over the course of many lifetimes. Thus, we can obtain longevity in this lifetime.

“According to the sutras, Shakyamuni Buddha once told everyone how to see how long people in each era could live, and taught everyone how this could be calculated. The Buddha once revealed that humans should be able to live to be 80,000 years old. However, ever since we began to commit evil acts, our lifespans began to get shorter by an average of a year each century. Modern humans live in a kalpa of reduction, so we currently live to the age of seventy. This will continue to be reduced until the average human lifespan is only ten years; after that, our longevity will turn around and go back up, and a year will be added to our lifespans every century until we can live to be 80,000 years old.

“Would the Buddha tell fairy tales? Isn’t human history only four or five thousand years old? On the contrary, many scientists these days have unearthed human cultural artefacts from twenty or thirty thousand years ago. Why is our longevity being reduced? It is because most people these days eat meat, drink alcohol, and smoke cigarettes, frequently contaminating the water supply, and this causes our lifespans to get shorter and shorter. Shakyamuni Buddha once taught why humans die, and stated that one’s lifespan is a good fortune that is comprised of two different things: One is the longevity brought over from past lives, and the other is the wealth brought over from past lives. The Buddha taught that people can die in a few different situations: One is when people die with neither wealth nor longevity; they suddenly use up all of their longevity and wealth by committing many evil acts, so pass away in this manner. Another is when people die with both longevity and wealth. I often see people who die when they are in their thirties or forties, or who are murdered; however, it is obvious from the way their faces look that they should not have died so young. While they were alive, their professions, almost without exception, had something to do with killing, or perhaps were related to some major evil acts. This sort of karmic retribution can come to people who start wars, too.

“People who start wars all have their own explanations for doing so; they all say they did it for the benefit of their own people or nation. In the sutras, the question is raised: Why are there wars? They come from taking life and from eating meat. Another type of death involves people who die with wealth but without longevity; an example is the person who invented the Smartphone—he was very wealthy, but his longevity was transformed into money, so his lifespan was shortened. Then there are those who live a long time but die without wealth; these people often like to live in luxury, are wasteful, and are extravagant. By this, I do not mean to teach you not to do virtuous deeds or donate money. However, it is written in the sutras that there are two types of things which can cause us to consume our good fortune very quickly, of which one is eating daily feasts that include fish, meat, and lots of alcohol; the other is liking to go to nightclubs and izakayas to drink alcohol and chat up the mama-sans. These sorts of people will blow through their wealth very quickly.

“This is the reason there are so many homeless people in Japan. In Taiwan, the corporations of many entrepreneurs failed all of a sudden, and likewise this was the result of many Taiwanese business owners who liked to go to nightclubs to conduct their business. I have done business since 1995, but not once have I ever made a single business deal in a nightclub. This is because I have neither gone to such clubs nor attended izakayas before. Many people think going to izakayas is no big deal; everyone there drinks a couple of beers, barbeques some octopus, fish and bones, and feels that life is quite happy. On top of that, they all have girls sitting next to them whispering naughty jokes into their ears. However, all of these things consume one’s longevity and wealth.
“Before I practiced Buddhism, I would go and sit for a time in nightclubs just like most men did. Now, however, I wouldn’t dare to go, and this has been true for a very long time. Today I am performing the Amitayus; for most believers, including those of you who only started eating vegetarian today and who do not ordinarily eat such food, the benefits of today’s Dharma are such that it can help you not to meet with any serious accidents which would kill you. For most people who have just begun to practice Buddhism and keep the precepts, this Dharma can help to replenish the longevity they have consumed through a lifetime of their wrongdoings. For those of you who have already made a firm resolution to practice Buddhism to help sentient beings, today’s Dharma can help by increasing your longevity in this lifetime so that you can continue to practice longer.

“As for myself, I was originally only supposed to live until I was fifty years old. This was because I took life in my past lives, and also, there were very serious acts of killing committed in the age of my paternal great grandfather. None of my male ancestors ever lived past the age of fifty-five, and this remained true right up until I began to practice Buddhism in this lifetime. The reason our longevity comes to an end is that we have used up our good fortune. Our physical bodies are combinations of the ‘bindu’ from our fathers, or in scientific terms their ‘essences,’ and the ‘bindu’ from our mothers, which is their ‘blood.’ As we begin to take human form, we are constantly consuming essence and blood.

“If we have poor living habits—such as smoking, drinking alcohol, or eating meat—we will consume our essence and blood more quickly. Once they are completely gone, we will die. As we consume our essence and blood, our bodies are formed from the ‘four elements.’ These include ‘earth’ (bones and muscle), ‘wind’ (our internal chi, which in Exoteric Buddhist terms is breathing, while in Tantric terms is divided into five different types which are useful to various parts of the body), ‘water’ (all of our bodily fluids and internal secretions), and ‘fire’ (energy). Modern medicine does not have a clear understanding of ‘fire’ or ‘chi.’ For example, as for ‘chi,’ to this day scientific instruments are still only able to detect breathing; however, as for what the origin is of the circulation of such liquids as what comes from the thyroid gland and so on, medicine has no answer. Likewise, science still has no clear explanation of the function of ‘fire.’

“Medically speaking, all that is known is that breathing turns oxygen into energy, and after being digested, food becomes energy as well. However, as for why this is and what that energy can subsequently be used for, no detailed explanation exists in modern medicine. According to the sutras, if a person’s four elements are out of balance, that person will become ill. Thus, performing today’s Dharma can help you all to replenish your four elements. Your four elements must be balanced, and in order to achieve this you must exercise moderation in your daily lives. I have only gone over this with you briefly today, but the long and the short of it is that the Amitayus is very important for practitioners. There are two different ways of explaining the word ‘immortal’ spoken of in the Dharma. From the viewpoint of Exoteric Buddhism, our original Dharma-nature is neither arising nor ceasing. After we have cultivated the Amitayus, our Dharma-nature can be neither arising nor ceasing; that is, we can become ‘immortal.’ In Tantra, the definition of ‘immortal’ does not lie in this simple flesh of our current lifetimes; our physical bodies can migrate, and this is called the ‘Dharma of Migration.’ For a Tantric practitioner, ‘immortal’ means having an eternally unchanging aspiration to benefit sentient beings, which is neither arising nor ceasing.”

Before the Dharma was performed, the ordained disciples led the local Japanese believers who, when entering the venue, had drawn lots to make the mandala-offering, and together they offered the mandala to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Next, the guru began to perform the Amitayus. After performing the Dharma for a while, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led all the attendees in a recitation of a supplication prayer from the Dharma text, and then revealed its meaning.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche explained, “There was mention in the Dharma text just now of ‘all untimely deaths.’ This refers to people passing away when they are not supposed to, and includes a broad variety of situations such as having car accidents, plane crashes, being bitten by mosquitos and falling ill, dying from being given the wrong medicine by a doctor, and so on; all of these are categorized as untimely deaths. Simply put, if you were originally supposed to live until you were seventy years old, but you suddenly died at the age of sixty, that means you suffered an untimely death. Recently the news reported that a Japanese owner of more than six hundred restaurant franchises was shot to death. From my point of view, this person’s facial appearance indicated that he should have lived into his eighties, but because he ran more than six hundred dumpling franchises which sold a lot of meat every day, he suffered an untimely death.

“The sutras quote Shakyamuni Buddha as having once taught that if one makes money using the flesh of animals, then in this lifetime that person will suffer many illnesses and a short life, will not get what he or she wants, will not be able to accumulate wealth, and will not have harmonious family relationships. Therefore, I can see that many things are indeed as was stated in the sutras. Today I am performing the Amitayus for ordinary believers. Those of you who in this lifetime have eaten meat, caught fish, and had others kill for you all possess the causes of untimely death; after today’s Dharma is performed, the causes of your past wrongdoings will all be destroyed so that it will no longer occur. What is the longevity you are being given to be used for? It is not for your enjoyment, nor is it so that you can be physically healthy enough to advance your careers further. Rather, the purpose is to give you time to practice Buddhism so that you can be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land. Don’t think that if you pay close attention to your physical health, and go to the doctors at the slightest sign of discomfort, then you will necessarily live to a ripe old age. Only by breaking away from all causes which shorten our lifespan can we live long enough to practice.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued performing the Dharma, leading the attendees in a recitation of the Amitayus Mantra that lasted quite some time. After performing the Dharma for a while, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche compassionately taught of the meaning behind the Dharma ritual.

“What we recited just now were the ‘offering’ and ‘supplication,’ the latter of which includes a supplication made for all the countless sentient beings—not just for the people who have come to participate in today’s puja. We hope that none of these countless sentient beings meet with an untimely death, that they can escape the sixteen types of major disasters, and that they can live in a peaceful era free from drought and war. Therefore, if the Amitayus is performed for a long period of time in a certain region, then these sorts of things will not happen there. In the Dharma text it is mentioned that this Dharma can destroy and eliminate all disasters which would cause practitioners and benefactors to suffer an untimely death. ‘Benefactors’ here refers not to ordinary believers, but to people who have given support to the Order and to the gurus. Furthermore, in the Dharma text supplication is made for us to be devoid of all evil causes, for our longevity and wealth to increase constantly like the rising moon so that we can attain Buddhahood in the future, and for the blessings of the yidam and the guru. Thus, as long as you believe in the yidam and the guru, you will continuously obtain blessings.”

While performing the Tsok Ritual, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche gave special instructions to the attendees to eat some of the food offerings, and showed concern for the Japanese believers by telling them that if they had not yet eaten any of the food offerings, then they should do so now. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche specially pointed out a particular Japanese believer, because by way of supernatural penetration the guru had seen that this believer had not eaten any food offerings. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said humorously that no one could pull the wool over the guru’s eyes by not eating.

Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche used two lines from the Dharma text to explain why everyone absolutely must partake of the food offerings. “On the surface, these appear to be food, but inside they were blessed with many mantras. In the Dharma text it is written, ‘Look! This is wonderful and auspicious food, and one must not doubt it.’ Therefore, the Japanese believer I singled out just now had given rise to doubt, which is why he was not eating the food offerings. It is also written in the Dharma text that the Dharma treats everyone equally; performing the Dharma is a pure act, and the Buddha also helps sentient beings by way of pure acts. The purpose of today’s puja is not just for the few people participating in it. In the Dharma text there is mention that dogs, butchers, and all sentient beings in the Three Dharma Realms can all enjoy this offering. Although it might appear on the surface that you are the ones eating it, in terms of Buddhism’s compassion, you are receiving this offering on behalf of all sentient beings. People who are too lazy to eat the offering, or who won’t eat it because they don’t feel like it or don’t like eating sweets, have neither compassion nor an indiscriminate mind; this is the reason they doubt this Dharma and the practitioner.

“Though this Dharma text emerged more than a thousand years ago, a millennium later it can still be used to reprimand people. That believer who did not partake of the food offerings had given rise to doubt. In the Dharma text it is written that ‘belief’ is the mother of all merits. The one performing the Dharma demands nothing of you who have come to participate in today’s puja; all I hope is that I can use the Dharma to sow a seed here in the soil of Japan, an act which is completely in keeping with the Dharma taught by Shakyamuni Buddha. As you participate in pujas in the future, you must listen to everything the guru says; this is for your own good, not for the guru’s. Next I will perform the Embracing Dharma for you all, to help you embrace your longevity. The reason I instructed you to eat a few food offerings is so that you can form some affinities with the yidam and the guru; this will qualify you to receive the condition with which you can embrace your longevity.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche conducted the Embracing ritual while explaining the Dharma instruments he was holding. The guru said, “In my right hand I am holding an arrow. In Tibetan Tantra, the Dharma is likened to an arrow. The practitioner is the one shooting the arrow, and by firing it correctly, that practitioner can hit his or her target. The colors of the top of the arrow represent the various elements in the universe. This is different from the waving of flags to exorcise and drive out devils as is practiced in Japanese religions. Many Rinpoches do not perform this section, because if their skills are not sufficient, then they cannot assimilate the good things of the universe. With one small slip-up, the good things within them will be driven out of them and given to you. However, you are not currently worthy of my doing such a thing, because you are not practitioners; you even wonder whether or not to eat a little bit of candy after receiving instruction to do so. My purpose in helping you to embrace more longevity is not so that you can do a bit more business; the point is to allow you to have sufficient time to practice Buddhism in this lifetime. I first must perform the Dharma for myself, because I must replenish my own elements in order to be able to share them with all of you.”

After performing the Dharma for a while, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche taught all the attendees about the contents of the Dharma text. The guru said, “In the supplication prayer recited just now, one of the sections mentioned that our longevity will be damaged. This is the result of killing, drinking alcohol, smoking, deceiving people, and committing evil acts; by engaging in these things, one’s longevity will be damaged. People whose longevity is scattered suffer this from being very greedy; people whose longevity is broken suffer this because they do not believe in cause and effect. Longevity can crack and sway, just like those people who hang on the verge of death yet cannot die. Longevity can be stolen by ghosts; for example, people who often worship ghosts and deities, seeking their help, can easily have their longevity stolen away by ghosts, which is the same as exchanging their longevity. In addition, people who eat garlic can easily have their longevity taken by ghosts, too.” Next Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performed the Dharma for everyone, reminding the attendees that they must sit up straight. After performing this section of the Dharma, The guru continued to bestow teachings.

“The purpose of the Dharma performed just now was to increase and replenish your earth, wind, water, and fire essences. The Dharma texts make mention of ‘Vajrayana disciples in possession of affinities;’ this refers to disciples with sufficient causal conditions. The definition of ‘conditions’ is having belief in, and the ability to achieve, the lessons taught by the Buddha as well as the Dharma taught by the guru. ‘Vajrayana’ here refers to disciples who practice Tantra. Most of you here today are not disciples practicing Tantra; it stands to reason that anyone performing the Dharma would not perform this section for you. Why would someone perform this part for Vajrayana disciples? It is because Vajrayana disciples have already vowed to become Bodhisattvas, so performing this section for them helps them to obtain sufficient health and longevity with which to benefit sentient beings.

“Although you are not all Vajrayana disciples, the fact that you have come to participate in the puja means that you have the affinity, so the performance of this Dharma will definitely be helpful to you. As long as you do not doubt, it can cause you to have sufficient health and longevity with which to help sentient beings. Don’t think that eating a single meal with meat is no big deal; in the sutras it is written that people should not labor under the misapprehension that it is okay to commit minor evil acts. All major evils grow from the accumulation of multiple minor evil acts. Therefore, I hope that you can all listen closely. Now I will perform another simple Dharma.”

After performing the Dharma, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed the attendees to approach the mandala. Holding the torma of the Amitayus yidam in hand, the guru bestowed auspicious blessings upon each of the attendees one by one with extreme compassion, all the while leading them in a continuous chant of the Amitayus Mantra. After waiting for the attendees to return to their seats, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued bestowing precious Dharma teachings.

“The performance of today’s Dharma has taken about three hours in total. In such a busy commercial society as Japan’s, being able to get everyone to truly take a break from it all is not an easy thing. These three hours have been more helpful to you than if you were to sit in meditation. Many people think religion is full of mystery, and that it is only remarkable if it can suddenly reveal a bunch of things to them that they did not know before. Shakyamuni Buddha was originally a person, who lived an ordinary life just like all of you. By way of cultivation over the course of many past lives as well as enlightenment achieved in His last lifetime, Shakyamuni left the experiences and methods of attaining Buddhahood in this world. Practicing Buddhism is not something done in one day or even one year. It requires perseverance and firm resolution to learn the sequence of methods taught by Shakyamuni Buddha.

“Buddhism does not rely on supernatural penetration to benefit sentient beings. Shakyamuni Buddha once said that if someone is constantly performing supernatural penetration for you to see, and trying to get you to believe in it, then this is not the Dharma. Supernatural penetration is fake, just as a magician’s tricks are. Are there any Rinpoches out there practicing Tibetan Buddhism with supernatural penetration? There certainly are, but it is used to benefit sentient beings; when sentient beings make mistakes, these Rinpoches use supernatural penetration to see them and to then help them. A little while ago I used supernatural penetration to see that Japanese believer who didn’t eat the food offering; I did not use my eyes. I was very anxious, because that believer is very busy and rarely has an opportunity to eat food that has been blessed by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Thus, I wanted to make him feel a bit pressured. However, my purpose was certainly to help him, so when I used supernatural penetration to see that he was not eating, I spoke up about it.

“Exhibiting supernatural penetration in such a way is fine, but if someone does it as a performance to get you to listen or obey, and not to teach you how to be a good person, then you should not go there. Propagating the Dharma in an age such as this is very difficult, because everyone has many self-righteous views which are actually erroneous. I will continue to work hard at propagating the Dharma in Japan—not for myself or for the Order, but for this piece of earth that is Japan, because I once spent a lifetime in Japan. If I were after fame and fortune, then I would not need to come to Japan, because I am already quite well-known in Taiwan, America, and Mainland China.

“I hope that today’s puja can provide the Japanese believers with some help. So long as you believe, many things will get a bit better for you. I once said that I will go wherever the Dharma is needed, to whatever places need me. Therefore, my coming to Japan was not completely arbitrary. Another year is gone; I hope Japan’s believers will think about whether or not their actions have resulted in any improvements over the past twelve months. If not, then you must use the Dharma to amend your ways. In doing so, you will help your future life and the lives of your family members, as well as your country and the world.” As Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings came to a close, the guru expressed thanks.

Upon the perfect completion of the puja, in unison all the attendees thanked the guru for compassionately performing the Dharma and bestowing auspicious teachings. They stood and paid reverent homage as His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne.

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Updated on March 5, 2014