His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – January 31, 2014

On New Year’s Day at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presided over the Black Water Jambhala and Elephant Jambhala Pujas in the morning and the Guru Yoga Puja in the afternoon.

Before the pujas began, an American disciple, speaking English, shared with the attendees an account of how His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had helped him and his family. Simultaneously, his wife (who, along with their daughter, was also a disciple) interpreted his words into Chinese for the benefit of those assembled at the Buddhist Center.

He had taken refuge in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche on September 27th, 2012. Throughout the process of receiving help from the guru, many things had happened which in others’ eyes might appear ordinary, but which the disciple considered to be precious and special. Furthermore, as a disciple who had newly taken refuge, there had been many things which he had not quite understood, and he had been afraid of making mistakes. However, after listening to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings, he had known that he must take responsibility for his own wrongdoings.

For many years he had been eager to learn Buddhism, but had stubbornly clung to the notion that Buddhism should be perfect, complete, and clear; moreover, he had thought it best to learn from the supreme Buddha. A guru could of course transmit his or her experiences to a disciple, but in the end that disciple must practice on his or her own. Self-righteously, he had wondered to himself, Didn’t the Buddha say that all sentient beings must cultivate their own path toward liberation? Over the years he had continuously discovered that some of the gurus in which he had taken refuge did not actually practice in accordance with their assertions.

No matter how his wife and daughter told of how His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had helped sentient beings, including how Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had even personally allowed him the opportunity to get on close terms with the guru and bake pottery for him, the disciple had maintained that he was stubborn. When the greatly compassionate His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had bestowed upon him orders for his pottery, the guru had not put any pressure on him at all, but rather had completely left it up to his own creative vision. In the end, the guru had happily accepted the disciple’s imperfect products in their entirety. He was grateful to the guru for having constantly created opportunities for him to accumulate good fortune.

He was also grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having taken care of his parents even before he had taken refuge. He wished to repent for not having listened to his wife at first, who had advised him to implore His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to bless his elderly parents. He repented, and was even more grateful to the guru for still having blessed his mother and father when they had passed away one after another. When the disciple had arrived in the United States right after his parents had passed away, their bodies had both been supple and relaxed as if they had only “quietly” left. At the same time, his siblings had not felt sad, and had even been somewhat happy at the prospect that their parents had left their suffering behind. Furthermore, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had liberated the disciple’s parents during the Chod Puja (which had just happened to fall on the same day as his father’s funeral). After the puja, the guru had even revealed that a golden auspicious cloud had led sentient beings who had not heard the Dharma to the Heavenly Realm so that they could practice. With regard to this, the disciple again expressed his gratitude to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

His Western education had taught him to view things objectively. That, combined with his own life experiences, had turned him into a somewhat cynical person, and because of this he had been very slow to change. Still, when he had sought an audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche on a Saturday at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to ask some questions related to Buddhism, the guru had spoken to him using clear and easily comprehendible language. To the disciple’s surprise, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had even told him that not only was having a guru necessary for practicing Buddhism and meditating, but that the style in which the disciple had wished to practice was more suitable for a monastic, and that this would cause him to think about becoming a monastic. After each audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche he had always felt very calm and more able to sit quietly and fall asleep. Also, after waking, he would always feel a greater sense of joy. After reporting this to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche the following week, the guru had smiled and worn an expression of pleasant surprise.

One time, during an audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the guru had told him that he could not speak with him very long due to the fact that a rather large number of believers were there waiting to see the guru. Thereupon he had implored to take refuge. His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had immediately replied, “Good! Go ahead and register.” At the time the guru had also accepted an offering from the disciple’s wife for the first time in a very long time, telling her, “You’ve brought your husband!” And during the general puja the following day, a Refuge Puja had been held.

He had known that worldly difficulties could not easily be explained with language, but His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had always used the plainest of words to address sentient beings according to their individual circumstances! Not wishing to implore lightly for the guru’s teachings, he had hoped to solve his problems by himself, and would only ask guidance of the guru if he really hit a wall.

For him, who had practiced Theravada Buddhism in the past, the various teaching methods and rules of Tibetan Buddhism had been a bit difficult to understand. Because of this, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had helped him to learn and accept the Dharma. The guru had gone on to state that there was only one Dharma, for the evil habits sentient beings had formed had landed them in the pitfall of reincarnation of cause and effect. Therefore, to practice Buddhism one must leave selfishness behind. His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had also said, “I never think about myself!” Leaving selfishness behind is not easy, of course, but the guru had gone on to say, “As long as you are obedient, you are doing fine!” Thanks to these teachings of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the disciple had begun to have faith in the guru.  He had stopped feeling discouraged at not being able to understand what he was hearing, and his desire to follow the guru’s example had grown even stronger.

One time he had asked His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, “How does one give rise to genuine compassion? Does it take wisdom?” The guru had answered, “As long as you truthfully share and participate in the guru’s compassionate deeds, you will be in the guru’s great compassionate sea of merits!”

He repented for having always had so many misconceptions with regard to Buddhism. He had once believed that although taking life and harming sentient beings were wrong, it was still reasonable to kill in self-defense. Here he wished to repent for the countless sentient beings he had unknowingly harmed! He was grateful for the guru’s teachings which had allowed him to see where he had been wrong!

He had come to a profound realization that due to his attitude he had attached a new value to material things. Once he had wanted to make an offering of what he had considered a piece of precious cloth to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, but had not been able to seek audience with the guru that Saturday due to having done something wrong. As a result, he had had to specially implore to be able to enter the Buddhist Center on a Saturday in the hopes that this would be indicative of his intention. After he had repented to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the guru had asked him about the origin of the cloth. He had reported that it was a family heirloom. In the end His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said he would accept the offering because of the disciple’s sincere attitude, and that it would bring good fortune to the disciple and his family.

Not long after, his family had been confronted with a great catastrophe. At first he had not known about it, and had only found out afterward that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had helped his family to weather this difficult crisis. Feeling both grateful and ashamed, he had sought audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, who had said at the time that there was nothing for the disciple to feel ashamed about, because as the Buddha said, one’s guru is the closest member of one’s family. The disciple was grateful to the guru for his meticulous blessings and for having constantly strengthened his faith!

For years he had tried to live his life attentively and introspectively as is taught in Buddhism, but this had not yielded any results. He had frequently been hindered by attachments, likes, and dislikes. His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had taught him that he must maintain an attitude of respect, gratitude, and obedience; these three treasures had allowed him to keep from constantly falling into the abyss of selfishness! Only because His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had often reminded him to be fearful of cause and effect had he discovered that doing so was the best tool to use for practice and self-reflection. However, he repented for having often been careless and allowed his selfishness, likes, dislikes, and desires to blind him from concentrating on his practice!

Moreover, at the time of taking refuge he had discovered that he was suffering from a serious disease: A chronic inflammation of his liver had led him to be infected with hepatitis C. Only after taking refuge had he discovered how severe his condition was. At first even the doctors had said it was incurable, and had given him a mere three years to live. They had also recommended that he consider going to America for a liver transplant, but he had never intended to follow suit. He was grateful for the guru’s blessings and for his Buddhist training, which had prevented him from ever having such worries and had allowed him to practice the traching of the impermanence of life and death on a daily basis. After reporting this to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the guru had bestowed a precious teaching upon him by saying, “It’s not actually that serious.” The guru had also said, “You must not eat chilled food or drink soft drinks.”

One time His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “I understand your situation very well. You can’t leave this world until you’ve repaid all of your debts!” The disciple also remembered that the guru had once said, while bestowing blessings, “You’ll be able to keep baking pottery for your guru for another ten years!” Although his illness was still present, he would never forget the fact that the guru’s blessings would always be with him as well!

After turning sixty-two last year, he had reported to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche his lifelong but fruitless quest to find the Right Dharma and be liberated. The greatest achievement of his life thus far had been to take refuge in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche; it would be futile if he were to continue to live without practicing to become liberated from life and death! If he could learn Buddhism from His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, then he would have no regrets! To this, the guru had replied with a compassionate smile.

Western medicine had never been able to cure his illness, so these days he just went to the Chinese Medicine Clinic for regular check-ups and treatment. One time His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had asked how his condition was, and he had answered, “It has stabilized!” The guru had simply smiled and said, “How unfathomable!”

He did not know how the doctors had analyzed his condition. Although last year a doctor had told him that his liver could not be saved and could no longer regenerate, the doctor had recently said during his regular check-up that his liver, although damaged, had begun to show signs of regeneration; furthermore, although he still had the illness, there had been no symptoms of it at all. He knew that all of this was thanks to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche! The word ‘gratitude’ simply was not enough to sum up how he felt!

All he knew was that even though he was sick, he was still able to live a perfectly normal life and practice precious Dharma teachings! He hoped that all of his daily deeds would be virtuous and that he could help other people and sentient beings! Although he was unable to see his own cause and effect, he knew on a very deep level that his journey toward Buddhist practice had been hard-won. As such he would stop committing any evil, and would practice Buddhism with great diligence! The greatest treasure he had encountered along the path of his Buddhist practice had been His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche! Finally, he prayed that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would have good health and keep turning the Dharma wheel, and that the Drikung Kagyu Lineage would flourish forever!

At 9:30 in the morning, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne to preside in person over the auspicious Black Water Jambhala and Elephant Jambhala Dharma methods. First the ordained disciples presented the mandala and implored the Dharma from His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and then the guru compassionately bestowed precious Dharma teachings upon all of the attendees.

“This morning I will be performing two Jambhalas for you all. In Tantra there are Dharma methods of subduing, placating, increasing, and vanquishing, and a Jambhala belongs to the ‘placating’ category. Many people think that after attending the Jambhala Pujas they will suddenly strike it rich, get a raise at work, and so on, but this notion is not quite correct. From the point of view of ordinary people, wealth means money. From a Buddhist point of view, however, wealth is divided into wealth of the mundane world and wealth of the Dharma Realm. Wealth of the mundane world means everything we can obtain and which can benefit people, groups of people, and all sentient beings. Thus, wealth does not simply refer to money.

“Whether we’re talking about people, animals, or sentient beings in general, if they have no wealth in this lifetime they will spend their lives in suffering. To give an example, you all know that the sentient beings in the Hungry Ghost Realm cannot consume food, but this realm is divided into different levels. A sentient being that is fated to have wealth can eat a little bit, but if a sentient being of the Hungry Ghost Realm without wealth tries to eat something, the food will turn to fire as soon as it enters the being’s throat. In the sutras it is recorded in many places that what a sentient being can eat completely depends on whether or not it has wealth, and this is true even of sentient beings in the Ghost Realm. Wealth is part of the good fortune of sentient beings in the Six Realms; ever since we were born into the Human Realm in this lifetime, all the things that we have enjoyed have been manifestations of wealth.

“You should not think that you can buy things just by paying with money, and having money does not necessarily mean you will be able to buy things. If you have no wealth, then even if you had money in your hand, you still would not be able to buy quality things or eat good food. Some people are quite rich, but are unwilling to eat good things. Instead, they consume a NT$200 meal and then throw it back up. There are also some extremely affluent people who choose to fly on cheap airlines. In today’s news it was reported that when you buy a ticket for a low-cost airline flight, if anything bad happens, no follow-up assistance will be provided. All their lives these sorts of people appear to have money, but they do not have the good fortune to use it. This is the same as not having any money at all.

“Don’t think that having money stored away in the bank means you have wealth; nor should you think that you’re wealthy if you’ve given a lot to charity. Wealth is comprised of all the good fortune you cultivate over the course of many lifetimes. The Chinese character for this word is quite interesting; on the left is bei, meaning ‘shell,’ and on the right is cai, meaning ‘only.’ In ancient times, seashells were used as currency; you could ‘only’ do something if you had a ‘shell’ with which to pay. To put it a bit more simply, for anything we wish to do in this life, we must have the ability to do it; obtaining this ability requires the good fortune which we cultivate through lifetime after lifetime. Some people are born into very affluent families, yet are unable to use their own money; some people are very poor, but are often treated by others so that they can eat good food. Thus, the definition of wealth isn’t so narrow. Don’t think that coming to participate in the Jambhala Puja will cause your boss to give you a raise after the New Year or that your business will prosper more. These are just drops in the bucket when it comes to our overall wealth, which includes such things as being diagnosed accurately or not when we go to see the doctor, whether or not we take the right medicine, and so on.

“According to the sutras, wealth comes from making offerings and giving alms. This does not mean giving and then being able to get something back from doing so. This is true even though these days a lot of people have promoted the idea that if you are willing to make an offering, then you will get back ten, a hundred, or even ten thousand times that offering’s amount at a later date. This has to do with what is written in the sutras on Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings with regard to the merits of making offerings, but that doesn’t mean that such should be your goal. If you are making offerings with this sort of attitude, then all you will get back is a tiny bit of worldly wealth. Your worldly wealth will all be used up in this lifetime; you can’t take it with you when you die. You cannot take a single penny with you when you leave this world; if someone were to burn a million or even ten million NT dollars in paper money for you, you still wouldn’t get your hands on a cent of it.

“Some people would say that if you don’t burn paper money, your ancestors will come back and ask for it. In fact, it is not that your ancestors would come back and ask for it; rather, this is how they were taught while they were still alive. Chinese people began to have this sort of social custom, this moneygrubbing ‘gene,’ a few thousand years ago. Actually, even if you were to burn some paper money, would your ancestors receive it? No; not at all. Just imagine for a moment: After it burns it turns to ash. How, then, can your ancestors get it? They just have the idea in their minds that they will get it, so if one year you don’t burn any, then they will come for you. Social customs such as these cannot relieve the suffering of sentient beings.
“The Buddha once taught what sort of attitude we should have while making offerings throughout our lifetimes—the ‘Threefold Wheel of Essential Emptiness’ needed by those who make offerings and give alms. Once, back while I was practicing Exoteric Buddhism, I heard the ‘Threefold Wheel of Essential Emptiness’ explained to mean that one should not sense that one is making offerings; instead, one should feel that the items being offered are Empty in nature, and that the person to whom the offering is being made is Empty in nature as well. I was skeptical of this definition, however, because if the Buddha meant that if the one making the offering, the one receiving the offering, and the offering medium (that is, the item being offered) are all Empty in nature, then the Buddha would have used the word ‘form’ instead of ‘wheel.’ Only after I had begun to practice Tantra did I learn why the Buddha said ‘wheel.’ Thus, ‘I vow to fathom the Thus Come One’s true and actual meaning’ is definitely not to be interpreted literally.

“The word ‘wheel’ refers neither to a car wheel nor to the cycle of reincarnation. Tantric practitioners all know that the human body is covered with chakras; ‘chakra’ is the Sanskrit word for ‘circle’ or ‘wheel.’ Because today is the first day of the New Year, I’ll give a special explanation of this. This is not Tantra, however; it’s just common knowledge. Our bodies contain a ‘body wheel,’ when we speak we use a ‘throat wheel,’ and our consciousness uses a ‘mind wheel.’ The Threefold Wheel of Essential Emptiness refers to the fact that as we make an offering, first we think about it; after we are done thinking about it, we speak of it; after we are finished speaking of it, we do it. It would be impossible to take your offering up without saying anything. The guru would certainly ask you about it and you would say, ‘Guru, I make this offering to you.’ The Threefold Wheel of Essential Emptiness means that while making an offering, the essences of one’s body, speech, and mind arise and cease to exist according to one’s causal conditions. After the offering has been made or the alms have been given, the matter is finished, and there is no need for one to keep thinking about how much he or she has done. When you have a thought like this, it means you are attached to whether or not you have made offerings or given alms. As a practitioner, it means you will return in the next lifetime, because you are attached to the karma produced by this virtuous deed.

“Therefore, in Buddhism when it is said that while making an offering one must maintain the Threefold Wheel of Essential Emptiness, it refers to the body, speech, and mind of the offering rather than the person making the offering, the offering item, and the person receiving the offering. Because the causal origination is your intention to make an offering or give alms, its essence is Empty in nature. Without a causal condition, you cannot make an offering; you cannot give alms without someone to give it to. If your essence (or Dharma nature) is pure and Empty and you aren’t acting out of a desire to seek something in return, then this sort of offering or almsgiving will transform into wealth of the Dharma Realm, all of which can be used. If you are attached to committing virtuous acts, rescuing stray dogs, or having your name engraved on a brick used in the construction of a monastery, causing you to feel that it was your offering, then these sorts of offerings will fall into the category of conditioned Dharma.

“The concept of conditioned Dharma is such that because you think that brick is your own offering, one mishap could turn you into a sand louse on top of it. You would then live out your days on that brick, because you stubbornly insisted that it was yours. Why do we become husbands, wives, sons, and daughters? It is because in a past life we helped someone, so in this life that person has come to repay his or her debt. Before I perform the Jambhala for you all today I need to explain it to you very clearly. This is because I performed the Amitayus for you first, and having longevity without wealth is no good either. Wealth is a necessary thing for every practitioner, whether it be wealth of the mundane world or wealth of the Dharma Realm. Without resources you would not be able to practice Buddhism even if you wanted to. Originally, before attaining Buddhahood, Shakyamuni Buddha fasted for six years deep in the mountains. Upon coming out, the first thing the Buddha did was to accept a shepherd girl’s offering of sheep’s milk. This, too, was an alms of wealth, and it helped the Buddha’s physical body to recover and resume meditation.

“Some people say one should practice Buddhism without regard for one’s physical body, because the body is an illusion. Although this might be the case, without these bodies of ours we would not be able to practice. You shouldn’t think you can wait and practice after you’ve become a deity. If you become the Earth God, with people making offerings to you every day, your arrogance will just grow and grow. Once you have fallen into the Ghostly Realm of good fortune—becoming so-called deities or the Earth God, for example—it becomes very difficult to be liberated from life and death. The focus of making offerings and giving alms is not to get something back after you’ve given something away; rather, it is to be willing to let go of things in the first place. If you are willing to let go, a relationship will naturally arise between you and things or affairs in the void with which you either have or haven’t formed an affinity. Once these relationships are there, all of your efforts to help sentient beings will naturally be successful.

“Take me, for example. Over the past few years, any time I have wanted to do something for His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang or the Order, lots of people have come forward to help me; this, too, is a kind of wealth. Why would all these people come forward to help? Perhaps they owe me from something I did in my past lives, and because I have devoted my current life not to my own benefit but to that of sentient beings, these people have now emerged to help. Of course anyone who is in charge of things has performed a lot of Dharma over the course of his or her past lives and has formed many affinities with sentient beings, so anything he or she does in this lifetime will go rather smoothly.

“Some people think nothing they do at their companies goes smoothly, and they do not like to communicate with people. I have a disciple like this. He has never made an offering or given to charity, so he has formed no relationships with people in this lifetime. Quite naturally he has isolated himself and not formed any affinities with anyone, and for this reason I am preparing to ask him to leave. He has taken refuge for a few years already, yet continues to conduct himself in this manner. At the company, he never communicates or speaks with his colleagues. Don’t think that you don’t have to communicate with people as long as you do everything correctly. We must form virtuous affinities with sentient beings; if our coworkers don’t understand certain things, we should explain to them patiently. Why would that disciple have such an odd personality? It is because over the course of his past lives, he has never become cultivated in offering and almsgiving. Unwilling to let go of things, he is self-righteous, thinks he is better than everyone else, and believes himself to be always correct. He puts himself on a pedestal; he is arrogant.

“What sorts of people are arrogant? Only those unwilling to let go of things become arrogant. Those who make offerings or give to charitys are not arrogant, because they have already let go of things. A person who does not change no matter how often he or she is reprimanded simply isn’t listening; something is sure to happen which will cause him or her to have a problem and then have to leave. It never fails at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center. How so? A person who doesn’t listen is certain to leave; that’s how precise it is. For example, there was a disciple who went to church on Sundays, and ended up being seen by another disciple who was sitting a bus that was passing by the church at the time. She went to church in the morning and attended the puja in the afternoon, thinking how nice it was to be able to sing songs in the morning and endure reprimands in the afternoon. She thought Jesus and Shakyamuni Buddha would both come to help her. As a result, however, another disciple just happened to pass by, and watched her as she left the church, laughing joyfully. Dharma Protector Achi is very phenomenal. If you are not a Buddhist practitioner, Achi is certain to create opportunities for others to see you.

“Returning to the subject of the Jambhala, there are five Jambhalas in Tantrism: Black, Yellow, White, Red, and Green. These are somewhat different from the Five Deities of Wealth spoken of by Chinese people. In Tantrism, a Jambhala has already attained the Eighth Bodhisattva Ground but has not yet attained the level of a Dharmakaya Bodhisattva, so a thread of ignorance and a few thoughts still exist in the Jambhala’s mind. It is written very clearly in the Dharma text that a practitioner planning to perform the Jambhala needs to have first cultivated the Avalokiteshvara Dharma method, and must already be able to benefit sentient beings; the Jambhala mantra will not be useful to just anyone who chants it. In the Universal Gate Sutra it is mentioned that if you have no money, you can chant Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s name and money will come to you; this is what that refers to. Why do so many people chant the Great Compassion Mantra or recite the Universal Gate Sutra, yet still have no wealth? The Universal Gate Sutra makes no mention of the Jambhala; Shakyamuni Buddha often hides His hand, not always revealing everything clearly.

“Why doesn’t the Buddha explain things clearly? And actually the Buddha said this, too—that one can obtain wealth by imploring Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara—so where does that wealth come from? It is not something given to you by Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara; rather, it is the help bestowed upon you by the Jambhala. What sorts of people can obtain the Jambhala’s help? They include people who have had a very strong will to make offerings and give alms in lifetimes both past and present, and who have a driving sense of mission to give material aid to either the guru or to Buddhism as a whole. If the Jambhala is performed for this sort of person, it is certain to be helpful to him or her. Another sort is someone who has been a practitioner over the course of many lifetimes and has benefited a vast amount of sentient beings; such a person will also become attuned to the Jambhala in this lifetime.

“Only by mastering the Avalokiteshvara Dharma method can one call forth the Jambhala. Otherwise, no matter how many times that practitioner chants the Great Six-Syllable Mantra or the Great Compassion Mantra, the Jambhala will not come. What does it mean to have mastered the Avalokiteshvara Dharma method? It means one has already begun to manifest some aspects of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s great compassion; as such, the Jambhala will approach. Elsewise, the Jambhala will stay away.

“Today I will perform the Black Water Jambhala, manifested in its wrathful appearance. Why does it appear wrathful? Due to of all of the evil acts we have committed in this life as well as in past lives, the wealth we should have obtained in this lifetime can be reduced by karmic creditors and multiple other situations. Some of it might be consumed by our children or governmental officials, while some might be stolen or swindled away from us. Some people think they have been cheated, but why were they so easily cheated in the first place? The Buddha would like to trick you into practicing Buddhism, but after thousands of years you still haven’t fallen for it. How, then, do you fall for the first thing that comes out of someone’s mouth? It is because you have greed.

“Recently an employee of mine was acting absent-minded. She has a boyfriend, so I asked her, ‘Is it or is it not the case that your boyfriend told you how wonderful it will be once he becomes a master chef, because then the two of you will open up a little restaurant with him working the kitchen and you working the front of the house?’ She admitted that her boyfriend had indeed said such a thing. Let me ask you: Are you really so easily fooled? Everyone loves to hear this sort of spiel—men and women both. They think that from then on they’ll struggle and work hard together. Struggle for what? Without good fortune they could struggle until their heads burst, but to no avail. They would work hard, but for what? In this era of commerce especially, if you don’t have anyone who truly supports you, then you are better off simply being content with your lot in life, working for someone else.

“Don’t look at someone who’s made a website that sells things and think that he or she is doing very well. How do you know that person isn’t acting against his or her conscience? Likewise, don’t envy people who strike it rich by doing business or speculating on stocks. Recently, a certain public figure’s husband got into trouble; for two generations his family had been playing the stock market. Why did it happen? The reason was that they were greedy, and thought that if they had enough smarts then they could make a bit more money. There is no direct correlation, however, between being smart and having financial wealth; being smart simply means that you can keep the financial wealth that you were originally meant to have, whereas people who aren’t so intelligent will have a little bit less. Put simply, this is the way it is.

“I am performing the Black Water Jambhala this morning because you have committed evil acts, and the Black Water Jambhala’s wrathful form will scare away those ghosts and deities that would snatch your wealth from you. However, just because they won’t take your wealth does not mean it is left for you to enjoy how you will. Do not think that performing the Jambhala will help you to pay off your home loan, make a rich benefactor appear in your life, or cause Prince Charming to sweep you off your feet, marry you, and buy you a big house; you need to be realistic. The purpose of performing the Jambhala is to help you to be able to prepare some resources to use toward a lifetime of Buddhist practice. To put it bluntly, if you had no house to live in, then how would you be able to practice Buddhism? If you had no food to eat, then wouldn’t telling you to practice be tantamount to ripping you off? If you are distracted by problems with this or that, then will you really be able to practice?

“Some people have family issues. I always help such people, which is why I am a Jambhala, but I’m actually just a Jambhala whose money comes and goes quickly. No sooner do I receive money from your meager offerings than I turn it around and spend it for you. Some people don’t know why they should make offerings to me. Actually, what I do is help you by consolidating your money; otherwise, how would I make offerings of those little NT$200 or NT$500 amounts that you give? It all adds up to a lot more than NT$200 or NT$500, and then it can help you to get things done.

“Some people are very strange; they insist on knowing what exactly I do for you, and say that you would want to know. Actually, there is no need for this. Why is that? In the sutras it is written quite clearly that as long as you make an offering with a joyful mind, a meritorious guru will enable you to join in on the guru’s great sea of merits. As soon as you start haggling over your offerings, designating where you think the money should go, or even thinking that after you make an offering to the guru he should smile at you, then you are in the wrong. Why would I need to smile? If I were to smile, then my smile would be worth a lot of money; I might charge you a million NT dollars each time, because I know very well that I have a nice smile.

“Get the idea out of your heads that if you make a bigger offering, I will notice you or tell His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang about you. There is no need for such thoughts. You’ve heard the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s words with your own ears: The point is not how many offerings I’ve made; rather, it is the attitude I hold toward my guru. Only because of this mindset are my offerings genuine. Don’t turn around and say I told you that it is enough to make an offering of your ‘mind’ so you have an excuse for not making offerings; I’ve already helped you make up the excuse. If you are unable to make a monetary offering, then of course any sincere offering will do. However, if you are able to make offerings yet you don’t anyway, then your attitude is not quite right. Speaking of such ability to pay does not mean I want your money; as you well know, I often refuse offerings. I have refused houses, and as for cash, I have refused offerings as large as NT$5 million and even NT$20 million. Why did I refuse them? It was because those making the offerings did not have the correct mindset.

“Whether you have taken refuge or not, you must listen: Your mentality while making offerings is very important. You absolutely must not have a calculating attitude or hope to obtain something from your offerings. Instead, you must make offerings without asking for anything in return. This point will be very useful for all of you in the future. If you always hope for something in return no matter what you do, then such offerings are conditioned. Hindrances are inherent in offerings of conditioned Dharma, and these will prevent you from obtaining your goals, especially in Buddhism.

“Today I will be performing two Jambhalas. First will be the Black Water Jambhala. This one is very difficult to perform, because it is an Earth Terma, and was passed down by Padmasambhava. This Dharma does not exist in the sutras of Exoteric Buddhism; rather, it was directly transmitted by the Jambhala, and for this reason the blessings are especially great. There is a special rule for performing this Dharma: It must be done at a pure location, which means a place in which no acts of killing have been committed. Therefore, if a restaurant selling meat dishes were to invite me over to perform the Jambhala, I would absolutely refuse, because the rule is that I cannot go to a place of killing to perform it. Why not? It is because killing means no compassion. Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara would not go to a place devoid of compassion, so why would a Jambhala? Thus, if your family is still engaged in any business that involves killing, then this or any performance of the Jambhala will not be of great benefit to you.

“Apart from that, ‘pure’ also means that no murders or violent accidents can have occurred in that location. This is why a Buddhist center is definitely pure. Although some people have passed away at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, they were not killed; they died quite naturally. You’ve never heard about this; a few people passed away right in the middle of a puja, and I immediately liberated them. In temples this sort of thing would be very taboo; not only would it be considered bad for someone to pass away in the main shrine, but you wouldn’t even be allowed to enter if you were sick. At the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, however, there are often people who attend by taking an ambulance here or being carried in on a stretcher.

“A pure location also means one in which no businessn has been conducted which would violate the laws of cause and effect. Places that sell alcohol, cigarettes, or adult services would all be unsuitable. The Black Water Jambhala is an Eighth Ground Bodhisattva, so is accompanied by a retinue of many sentient beings. In other words, there are still many Dharma protectors who are sentient beings that have not yet been liberated from reincarnation. These Dharma protectors still harbor certain attachments. They have virtuous thoughts about wanting to protect the Dharma, but they still hold onto attachments from their previous lifetimes. As such, if you are not virtuous, they won’t help you; if you don’t listen, they likewise will not come near you. These Dharma protectors are different from Dharmakaya Bodhisattvas who have been liberated from reincarnation.

“The Black Water Jambhala’s yidam is the Immovable Buddha, which is very special among the Five Wisdom Buddhas. This Buddha’s mind is immovable, and would not give rise to the slightest bit of anger regardless of the circumstances, nor would He improperly lose His temper over anything at all. All my life I have been cultivating the Dharma method of the Immovable Buddha. Don’t think that my hitting  and reprimanding people all the time means that I lose my temper; actually, in such situations I have remained immovable. Why did I flog a disciple a little while ago? It was because he was being stupid. I asked him whether or not he had any Dharma photos, and he said he only had one; so I smacked him, and then he produced another one. Don’t you think I should have hit him some more?

“It would have been great if he were a piñata, and every time I hit him NT$1000 came out. Then I might as well hit him a few more times. The reason that disciple is like that is that his mind isn’t focused, so he causes a lot of trouble for his guru. While I perform the Jambhala, it is enough for you to simply listen as I chant; don’t worry whether or not the Jambhala has entered the venue or seen you or gone to your homes. The Jambhala will provide some assistance to anyone who has come to the Buddhist Center today with absolute respect toward and faith in the Three Jewels. As for how much the Jambhala will help you, it varies from person to person. Why is that? It is because it all depends on your causal conditions and good fortune. This is quite complex.

“Today I will be performing the Jambhala. After you all understand the importance of the Jambhala Dharma, you will know that everything we enjoy in this lifetime is the wealth we have cultivated in our past lives. This wealth is not inexhaustible, so during the years that we are alive we must continue to make offerings and give alms. In my own experience, you shouldn’t be calculating while making offerings or giving alms. What do I mean by ‘calculating?’ I mean wondering how much money you should give; don’t think about that. I’ll teach you a method: The first amount you think of is correct. Don’t feel embarrassed at how little or big it might be. If you think like that, then you are being too deliberate while making offerings.

“In the Ratnakuta Sutra it is written that a practitioner cultivating the Bodhi Path must not frighten or threaten others into making offerings of their riches. What does it mean to frighten or threaten? These days it is quite prevalent among many people out there to say, ‘I want to make an offering to the temple. You are my husband, and you have money right now, so you should give it to me. If you don’t, then you’re going against cause and effect and committing evil.’ This is an example of frightening and threatening. In some places female believers are advised thusly: ‘You should dedicate more sutra recitations to your husband so that he develops a virtuous mind; that way he’ll be naturally inclined to give you money with which to make offerings.’ Whenever I hear people talk like this I get angry, because that is tantamount to using the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to threaten one’s husband. Do the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas need money? No, They do not.

“You have to use your own wealth to make offerings and give charity. Anything you obtain by way of theft, fraud, or misappropriation cannot be used as an offering. What is meant by theft, fraud, and misappropriation? An example is if you have plainly stolen someone else’s money, and then made an offering of half of it for me to fence for you while keeping the other half for your own use. This sort of offering is not allowed; it must be made of your own wealth. The sutras make mention of how large an offering should be, such as a fifth or a fourth of one’s income. There are lots of other stories about that, but I won’t go into those today. The most important thing for you to know is that the Dharma cannot be bought. Do not think that you can’t come here if you have no money; plenty of poor people come here just the same. You also shouldn’t think that you must constantly act a certain way for it to count as an offering, because this is not the case at all. Like breathing, making offerings is something that we absolutely must do. If you were to stop breathing, then you would die; likewise, if you stopped making offerings and giving alms, then your wealth-life would be gone.

“You might think you need money for a lot of things. I need it for a lot of things, too; any time His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang instructs me to do something, I hop right to it. Why do I do this? It is because the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang is my guru, so he knows without a doubt whether or not I am capable of accomplishing the task. I do whatever His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang tells me to do, because I know my guru definitely has a reason for asking me to do it. I was the same way back when I used to practice Exoteric Buddhism; my master called me on the phone and told me to bring NT$400,000 over to him, so I complied without even asking why.

“Back then my Dharma master in Exoteric Buddhism only taught me one Dharma method—making offerings and giving alms—which is the reason I had the good fortune to meet His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. My Dharma master did not explain very clearly what the money was for, but he had a very interesting personality. So as soon as he called me on the phone, I brought it right over to him. That was a few decades ago, back when NT$400,000 was considered a hefty sum—enough to buy a few houses in Minsheng Community. I would rather not purchase houses or pay rent, but I went ahead and made an offering and a charitable donation. Some would wonder, ‘Didn’t you say you can’t take something that belongs to others or owe them anything?’ Nevertheless, occasionally owing money to a landlord isn’t that big a deal, because landlords make their money from renters, so there is room there for negotiation.

“I have many such stories. I even once sacrificed my own opportunity to go to Nepal to participate in a puja in order to create a causal condition for someone else to practice Buddhism. I have a never-ending supply of stories like this. Actually, I had this sort of character even before I started practicing Buddhism; I myself could do without money, but I couldn’t bear to see other sentient beings suffer. I probably got this trait from my father, because I saw him act that way many times in the past. As a result of what was happening in history at the time, many people fled from the Mainland to Hong Kong. My father used to be in the intelligence agency, so a lot of people would come looking for him. Back then he was considered a senior official, and as such he had to take care of the people who were below him in rank. For this reason, many people with no money would seek him out.

“Back then my father did not have much income, either; he only had one job, so he had to pawn his own shoes, overcoat, and suit. In Hong Kong at the time you could pawn any good pair of leather shoes, any good coat, or any good suit. Thus, household education is very important; if a person’s family is constantly talking about being frugal, then he or she is certain to turn out very miserly. One should indeed be frugal when it comes to money; this means you shouldn’t waste it. If you should make offerings and give to charity, then you actually need to do that. I’m not telling you to make offerings to me. In society, however, given any situation that is lawful, fair, and reasonable, you should all do what you can to help. That doesn’t mean you need to run out there after watching the news to help everyone you see on TV, however. If you hear of someone in trouble, whether you know that person or not, you should try to help a little.

“Furthermore, even if you want to make offerings and give alms, you cannot do so if you have no good fortune. Several years ago there was a person who had made a large sum of money by illegal means, and ended up catching a mysterious disease. He came to seek an audience with me, but I would not accept a single cent of his money. Instead, I told him to donate it to a hospital to help people who couldn’t afford to be treated. He sent someone to each of the major hospitals, but after two months he still had not been able to donate a single dollar to them. Isn’t that strange? You shouldn’t think that just because you have money you can simply give it away whenever you want; that’s not true at all. If you do not have sufficient causal conditions and good fortune, then you won’t be able to make offerings or give alms even if you want to. Don’t think making monthly donations of NT$500 or NT$1000 to a charity foundation counts as making offerings and giving alms; it actually doesn’t. Donating money to a charity foundation simply helps it to have money enough to pay its administrative staff. This is because charity foundations are too big, so they have to hire a lot of people.

“There were staff members of a certain Buddhist group who earned NT$50,000 every month. Where did that money come from? It came from other people, so the group was able to pay its employees a monthly salary of NT$50,000—and this was ten years ago. Why do I always give my donations to Ministry of Health and Welfare these days? It is because government officials already get paid a set salary, so if they dared to take those donations for themselves on top of what they already earn, I would sue them until they were in jail. If it were a charity foundation, on the other hand, would you dare to sue them? If you did, you would be assailed by a crowd of at least several hundred thousand do-gooders.

“Thus, you must have an understanding of how to make offerings and give alms while being careful not to make any mistakes. If someone is committing evil, then by all means you must not give your assistance. Don’t think that if someone lacks money to do business it is alright to lend him or her some of yours; this would not be good. One person’s younger brother looked and looked but still couldn’t find a job, so he was planning on lending him some money. This, too, would be wrong. Some of you might feel sorry for your boyfriends for being out of work, so you support them. Why, then, won’t you support me? You all need to act smarter than that.

“Men might ask, ‘Then why do I need to give money to my wife?’ This is your duty, because as the Buddha said, if you want to be someone’s husband then you need to take care of her. Moreover, in the sutras it is written quite clearly that for a period of time a man should give jewelry to his wife. Why would the Buddha say such a thing? It is because the Buddha understands the female character; if a woman’s husband doesn’t charm her now and then, he’ll be done for. Thus, Shakyamuni Buddha understands human nature quite well; the Buddha doesn’t stand completely aloof from worldly affairs as you all might imagine.

“When you get home you can all tell your family members that the Buddha teaches many things—including how one should treat one’s mother-in-law, daughter-in-law, and children—and doesn’t always just preach about liberation from life and death. If you are unable to settle your worldly affairs, then how can you be liberated from life and death? Such would be impossible. Sometimes the teaching methods I use are meant to help you solve your worldly problems. Now I had better begin performing the Dharma, or else we’ll run out of time.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then began to perform the Black Water Jambhala Dharma method. After performing it for a while, the guru spoke about the Refuge Aspiration Prayer contained in the Dharma text.

“The Refuge Aspiration Prayer contained within this Dharma text is different from that of other Dharma texts. I’ll now teach you about a few of its lines: ‘I vow to benefit sentient beings in order to achieve attainment in the Jambhala Yidam. In accordance with causal conditions, I bring you into submission with all Dharma activities, and I pledge to liberate every last sentient being.’ Thus, a practitioner who has not vowed to benefit all sentient beings cannot achieve attainment in practicing the Jambhala yidam. ‘In accordance with casual conditions’ means according to the causal conditions of sentient beings. Although I am performing the Jambhala today, not every sentient being will strike it rich; it all depends on your individual causal conditions. ‘Submission’ here refers to the fact that the purpose of the Dharma being performed today is to bring into submission those of your minds that are skeptical or unsettled. ‘All Dharma activities’ refers to all Buddhist activities, because if your minds are not submissive, then you will have a very hard time practicing Buddhism. You might think that I am performing the Jambhala Dharma today out of compassion so that you can get rich, but my goal is actually to liberate you. Thus, the Refuge Aspiration of the Earth Terma is a bit different.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued performing the Black Water Jambhala Dharma method, and once it had been performed to perfect completion, the guru raised the subject of how one should become attuned.

“At the end of every Dharma text a section is written about how a practitioner knows whether or not he or she has practiced the Dharma to the point of becoming attuned to it. To put it simply, to cultivate the Black Water Jambhala one should go into retreat and practice it a thousand, ten thousand, or even a hundred thousand times. Only once one’s dreams begin to take on certain characteristics has one succeeded in practicing this Dharma, and only then will one’s wealth manifest in abundance. Are you willing to go to such lengths? If so, you have a hard path ahead of you, for you must first cultivate the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara Dharma method, the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices, and a little bit of Tsa Lung Trulkhor before you can practice this Dharma method.

“The Dharma text makes specific mention of the following: ‘May the great compassionate incarnation of the Jambhala help the poor.’ If you really are so poor that you cannot even afford food to eat, then the Jambhala will help you. In the end it is written, ‘May the resources of wealth be rich and fertile, various treasures falling upon us like rain.’ I can verify that everything written in the Dharma text is correct. Actually, there is mention in the sutras that after reaching a certain level of attainment, a practitioner will be able to obtain wealth without even praying; he or she won’t have to deliberately seek it out, for wealth will come as long as the practitioner has sufficient good fortune.

Next, without even taking a short break, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche tirelessly went on to perform the Elephant Jambhala Dharma method and taught of its auspiciousness.

Just then a disciple in charge of facilitating the Dharma proceedings forgot to open the door of the shrine. Compassionately reprimanding him, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, “He has actually forgotten to do something that has to be done every year. Why does my hair keep falling out? It’s because of things like this, which is why I decided to go ahead and shave my head; this way I can save myself a lot of trouble. The more disciples I have, the more there is to worry about.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued: “Next I’ll perform the Elephant Jambhala Dharma method of White Mahākāla. White Mahākāla is another Sambhogakaya of Black Mahākāla. Mahākāla is a common Dharma protector in Tibetan Buddhism, and is the same Mahākāla practiced in each of the four major Orders of Tibetan Buddhism. In the Dharma text it is recorded that ‘Mahākāla,’ translated into Chinese, means ‘the great black deva.’ It used to be a very fierce demon that would eat people and harm all sentient beings, and whose Dharma powers were limitless. Hoping to subdue him, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara asked what his wishes were, and promised that if Avalokiteshvara could fulfill them then he could take refuge in Buddhism and become a protector of the Dharma. Mahākāla agreed, and said that if the Bodhisattva could conjure the most beautiful woman in the entire universe for him, then he would submit himself to the Dharma. And so Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara conjured forth a woman who was very pretty from Mahākāla’s point of view, and was perhaps just as fierce as he was. After obtaining this Dakini, Mahākāla took refuge in Buddhism and began to serve as a Dharma protector.

“As Dharma protectors go, Mahākāla is quite a character. He does not decide to help sentient beings lightly. Today I’ll be performing the White Mahākāla, which in Tibetan Buddhism is referred to as one of the White Jambhalas. ‘White’ represents pacification, and implies the mollification of all disasters. The Elephant Jambhala is also practiced in Hinduism, but that is not quite the same as the Tibetan Buddhist version, in which the Elephant Jambhala is among the White Mahākāla’s retinue. Thus, one should try to get close to the White Mahākāla. To sum up, the important thing is that if you have not mastered the Avalokiteshvara Dharma method, then any Jambhala you try to perform will be useless. This is because no matter how many times a practitioner not attuned to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara tries to call Mahākāla, he will not come. If Mahākāla won’t come, then the Elephant Jambhala won’t come, either.

“This wealth is only enough to provide you with what you need to live, so that you won’t have to worry about your survival. In this way you may be calm and settled enough to advance your Buddhist practice, listen to the Dharma, and so on. Regardless of everything else, people still have fundamental needs; if these can’t be met, then of course their minds will not be able to focus on practicing Buddhism. You should not think that Tantra is all about helping people to cultivate and strive for wealth; as the Glorious Jewel disciples all know, I only perform the Jambhala once a year, always on New Year’s Day. I perform it each year because over the course of the previous twelve months the disciples have made offerings to the Three Jewels and their guru, so I worry that they won’t have enough money to keep making offerings. To get back to the point, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas would never owe sentient beings; however, as long as you make sincere offerings, They and the guru are sure to bend every thought toward helping you.

“The purpose of performing the Jambhala is not to help all of you seize riches, and it definitely is not the method of ‘five ghosts helping people to attract wealth.’ Nor will performing this Jambhala make something happen which allows you to win the lottery; this simply isn’t the case. From the time that we enter the womb, we begin to consume the wealth of this lifetime. Some people like for things to happen all at once, and hope to suddenly strike it rich. This is not so good, though, because all it does is gather all of your future wealth into one pile for you to use up all at once. The best way is to have a constant supply, like water trickling from a tap. Don’t engage in wishful thinking by hoping for everything to suddenly go your way. If it did, then you would also have to prepare for some mishaps.

“The Order needs funds for many things, but I have never performed the Dharma so that I could scratch a lottery ticket and win a few hundred million. Actually, I could perform it to this end, but doing so would be wrong, because the most important thing a Jambhala does is to help you eliminate your hindrances. It enables you to have what originally should have belonged to you, thereby freeing you of so many afflictions. In this way you can apply yourselves to your Buddhist practice, and will be able to prepare sufficient resources with which to continue making offerings and giving alms in this lifetime. That is the point of the Jambhala. Don’t labor under the misapprehension that after this performance of the Jambhala, if you go all year without a raise, it means the Dharma is ineffective; this would have nothing to do with the Jambhala. Actually, it could in a way, because perhaps your boss had been planning on letting you go, but because of the Jambhala Dharma, you get to keep working for another year. This would be a form of wealth that is being given to you.

“As for the origin of the Elephant Jambhala, in a previous lifetime he was a very wealthy prince who was quite generous with his riches. He would give money to whomever came to ask it of him, but he also handed the money out without regard for what those people might be planning on doing with it. His riches could have been used for all sorts of wrongdoings, such as funding wars or committing murder. Whenever you are performing virtuous deeds, you must understand very clearly what you are doing; if you make a mistake, you will go to the Hell Realm all the same. Don’t think you can give away your money without thought for the consequences; such a notion is not quite right. If the person you gave your money to does something wrong, then to some extent that act involves you. Even if you have only heard about it, you are still an accessory to the act. Thus, you must understand very clearly whom you are making offerings and giving alms to.

“In making offerings and giving alms, I have never gone searching all over the place for something to give; I have always simply done as the guru in whom I have taken refuge asks. I do whatever His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang tells me to. Now that I am a Rinpoche, I am able to determine whether someone is acting virtuously, evilly, and so on; if he or she is doing wrong, then I won’t provide any help. This does not mean I am not compassionate. Would it be compassionate to empower a criminal to commit more crimes? For example, let’s say a fisherman told you he could not afford to buy a fishing boat, but that if he could, then he would be able to earn more income. If you were to lend him money, then even if he did eventually repay you, there still would be consequences, because you would have assisted him in the act of killing. Even just lending money to such a person will land you in hot water, because lending is a type of charity-giving. Many people are afraid of offending others, yet they are not afraid of offending cause and effect. If you lend money to someone knowing full well that he or she is going to use it to open up a bar or to make another such nefarious investment, then how can you say that you are lending your money out of a spirit of loyalty? Such a transaction would be wrong, and would lead to many dire consequences.

“Mahākāla saw how foolishly this prince was acting, but also noticed that he had a very virtuous root and was extremely capable. As a result, Mahākāla decided to go ahead and kill him so that he would not continue to accumulate evil karma. Mahākāla then placed the head of an elephant upon him, because as the most powerful land animal, the elephant is a symbol of strength. In this way Mahākāla helped the prince so that he could continue to practice Buddhism and become a Jambhala. You can play around with the Elephant Jambhala a bit, but not with the Black Water Jambhala. Just now you might have watched me performing the Black Water Jambhala and thought it very simple, but if the practitioner performing it has not cultivated sufficient good fortune, then performing this Dharma will be useless. The reason for this is that a lot of the actions involved are Tantra and include many visualizations. However, these cannot be said.

“In short, the Black Water Jambhala is rather strict, because Padmasambhava was also strict. As a result, all of the Dharma transmitted by Padmasambhava are relatively strict as well. The Elephant Jambhala is relatively easy to talk to, because his habit in its previous life was to help anyone who implored for its help. Now that he is a Jambhala, he continues to help people; the only difference is that he can now discern whether a situation has an evil cause or a virtuous cause. If the former, then the Elephant Jambhala will not help the person in question; if the latter, then he will—and sometimes you can be naughty and trick the Jambhala a little bit. If you say you don’t have enough money to pay your mortgage and that the bank is threatening to foreclose on it next month, the Elephant Jambhala will not understand what you are talking about, because banks did not used to exist. Actually, why would the people at the bank foreclose? If you had communicated with them sooner it wouldn’t happen. However, if you keep dodging them, thinking the bank won’t come looking for you, then you’re gravely mistaken.

“You can sometimes be a little naughty with the Elephant Jambhala, but to cultivate it you first must master the Avalokiteshvara Dharma method. If you haven’t, then you cannot proceed, because the first line of the Dharma text states that the practitioner must make prostrations before Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. I can prove to you once more that everything written in the Universal Gate Sutra can be attained, but to do it one must include the use of Tantra; simply reciting it is not enough. Shakyamuni Buddha would not deceive us. Many of the things which I will talk to you about in the future—including how performing the Dharma can prevent someone from having an accident—are based on the Universal Gate Sutra.

“To learn Tibetan Buddhism, one must first have a strong foundation of Exoteric Buddhism. All of the vows spoken by Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara can be summed up in Tantra as the ability to completely attain the four major Dharma methods of subduing, placating, increasing, and vanquishing. Many people practicing the Avalokiteshvara Dharma method wonder why they chant the Great Compassion Mantra daily, yet still yield no results. The reason is that they have not employed the four major Dharma methods of subduing, placating, increasing, and vanquishing, nor have they gone into retreat to cultivate certain Tantra including the Kriyayoga, the Charyayoga, the Yogatantra, and the Anuttarayogatantra. As such, they cannot succeed in the methods taught by Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.

“Don’t forget that Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is a Tenth Ground Bodhisattva who has attained the Dharmakaya. In the sutras it is mentioned that once a Bodhisattva has attained the Tenth Ground, all of the other Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will gather around to encourage that Bodhisattva to practice Tantra, for They hope that the Bodhisattva will attain Buddhahood as quickly as possible. In order to attain Buddhahood quickly one must practice Tantra, so all of the Dharma methods performed by that Bodhisattva will be Tantra. You all know that before Shakyamuni Buddha attained enlightenment, the King of the Māras ordered his daughter to perform an erotic dance. What method did Shakyamuni Buddha use to cause her to leave? It was not simple meditation; it most certainly involved a very special Dharma method.

“You have all sat in meditation before, so you know that entering samadhi is only possible if you use the Dhyana-Mudra to focus your mind. Why, however, is the Dhyana-Mudra placed not over the heart, but just below the navel instead? Did any of your Dharma masters ever teach you this? I used to be quite the rascal; I would ask my Dharma master this question, and he would simply reply, ‘Just do as you’re told!’ Only after practicing Tantra did I learn the answer. Reason would dictate that the Dhyana-Mudra should focus on the mind, not the belly, so why is it placed down there? There are even a lot of Rinpoches who don’t know the answer to this question, because there really is no way of knowing unless one has cultivated the final Anuttarayogatantra.

“Anything demonstrated by the Buddha has to do with Buddhist practice. To give another example, when performing the Buddhist greeting, why do you point at your eyebrow? Greeting should come from the mouth, so why not point there instead of at your eyebrow? Also, why is it done by forming a triangle? You can go and ask this of a Dharma master; since he or she has transmitted it to you, you might as well ask him or her what the reasoning behind it is. I only discovered why after learning Tsa Lung Trulkhor. You should not say so subjectively that you have learned Exoteric Buddhism, or declare that the Buddha never spoke of Tantra. Actually, many of the actions and thoughts in Buddhism are related to Tantra, which is the reason I tell you not to slander Exoteric or Vajrayana Buddhism. It is because you do not understand that everything the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas do is useful to you. If you can get that through your heads, then in the future you will experience fewer hindrances to your Buddhist practice. Next I’ll begin performing the White Mahākāla; however, if you have not mastered the Dharma method of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, then this Dharma method won’t be of any use to you.”

After performing the Dharma for a while, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked a disciple in charge of facilitating the Dharma proceedings how much money had been spent on the agilawood incense being used during that particular Dharma performance. The disciple answered, “Eighty thousand New Taiwan dollars.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went on to say, “Clearly the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center is very generous to have paid that much for this Dharma performance’s incense. The first time I performed the Elephant Jambhala, I sent another disciple to buy the agilawood incense, but he only bought a few thousand New Taiwan dollars’ worth. Perhaps from his point of view that was a large amount.

“While performing this Dharma, the exact type of incense to be used is black agilawood incense. I might have to stop performing this Dharma at some point in the future, because black agilawood incense is getting more and more expensive. Each Dharma protector and Vajra group uses different offering items, and the same is true of many worldly deities. People often use the wrong offering items; this can result in displeasing the worldly deities, including the Earth God and the Hindu deities as well. In India you often see people using the wrong items to make offerings. Deities like to eat the same things in death that they did while they were still alive. In the Elephant Jambhala’s previous life, he had lots of money, so he certainly had ample opportunity to smell black agilawood incense; as a result, that’s what it still likes in this lifetime, too. Black agilawood incense is getting pricier and pricier, so the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center has made a great sacrifice. In a moment when I light the incense you should all breathe in deeply, even though those of you in back won’t be able to smell it. While I’m burning incense and chanting you’re all welcome to be a bit naughty and implore the Elephant Jambhala. Say your careers aren’t going well and that you need help, and the Elephant Jambhala will help you.”

Upon the perfect completion of the Dharma, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to bestow teachings upon all of the attendees.

“The Dharma text being used today was transmitted by the Drikung Kagyu Order’s Yunga Rinpoche, who only passed away a few years ago. Yunga Rinpoche began his Buddhist practice as an ordinary monastic, and attained fruition as a Rinpoche in this lifetime. There have been many practitioners in the Drikung Kagyu Order who have achieved attainment within their lifetimes. Yunga Rinpoche was one of my root gurus. He specially transmitted this Dharma method to me because he knew that I have many lay disciples, and you all have need of wealth. I am the only person in possession of this Dharma text; no one else has it.

“Once you have received this Dharma, even if you have not taken refuge, you absolutely must not eat meat ever again. Don’t think that your social status requires that you eat meat; this is a perception that is only in your head. If you hope for something to help you, then you should listen to what the Buddha taught.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked everyone, “What do elephants eat?” The attendees answered, “Grass.” Humorously Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, “A more accurate answer would be that they eat vegetarian fare. See? Even vegetarians can be big and strong. Elephants don’t just eat grass; they also eat all the different parts of trees. In the Dharma text it is written that the Elephant Jambhala transformed into a monkey, but most monkey species are vegetarian, too. Thus, if any of you believers continue to eat meat, then performing today’s Dharma will not have any effect on you, for you will not become attuned to it. You keep thinking that if you attend the pujas you’ll be given my protection, but such protection is limited, because you still have not left your thoughts of killing behind. Once you have, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will know that you have begun to act virtuously, and so will naturally give you Their help and support. However, if you can’t even leave your thoughts of killing behind, then how can you expect to obtain what you implore for?

“In the past there have been people who worshiped at famous Earth God temples and implored to many wealth deities, and who did indeed receive their sought-after riches; however, a lot of bad things happened to them as well. Imploring to Buddhist Jambhalas would not cause you to suffer any repercussions, but you must listen; don’t assume you know how to do it correctly. If you think you already know it, then these things taught by the Buddha will be wasted on you. The Buddha is very compassionate, of course; if He weren’t, then He wouldn’t be the Buddha. However, the Buddha cannot go against the law of cause and effect in order to help you. If you are still engaged in killing, then of course you are still committing evil; as such, your virtuous deeds are not pure. The reason we have so many ups and downs in life is that we do a virtuous deed here and commit an evil act there, so virtue and evil will emerge in intersecting and overlapping patterns throughout our lives. If you want to attain auspicious peace and a complete lack of afflictions in this lifetime, then you must completely carry out pure and virtuous acts.

“I would not dare to claim that I myself have done these pure and virtuous deeds, but I have dedicated my life to do so with great earnestness and diligence. Therefore, even if evil things might appear for me, they are very temporary and I will not get entangled by them. This morning I have performed two Jambhala Dharma for you all. Other places would have made a lot of money doing this, but the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center does not ask you to become major benefactors; in fact, it has even spent NT$80,000 so that you can all enjoy this beautiful aroma. Although those of you in the back won’t be able to smell it, it at least will freshen the air a bit for you. Agilawood incense is very beneficial to the ¬chi¬-channels; it can clear your impure chi to some extent. This is why it is so expensive.

“Agilawood incense is getting more and more expensive because the old kind is not allowed to be exported anymore, while crops of the new kind still haven’t matured. That you are able to come here today and enjoy the scent of agilawood incense together with the Jambhala reflects that you have accumulated good fortune over the course of many lifetimes.” In unison, all of the attendees thanked His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, “There is no need to thank me; it is your own cultivation and the good fortune you have accumulated over your past lives that has allowed you to be fortunate enough to enjoy NT$80,000 worth of agilawood incense. However, you can only enjoy it at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, because I really am willing to spend this money. Back when I didn’t have anything to eat, someone wanted to buy my Buddhist statues, but I wouldn’t sell them. On the contrary, you would have carefully calculated money for yourself and then tossed out what was left as offerings.

“Don’t discard the things you do not want by giving them to me. If you are going to make offerings and give alms, then you must do it with a pure heart. The important thing is not the nature or amount of your offering; what is important is that your heart must be pure. Today the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center made offerings of the best that it could afford. Does the Buddha need to use these best things? Not at all; it’s just that today we have received the benevolence of the Buddha and the Three Jewels. The only thing the Buddha asks in return, however, is that we practice in accordance with the Dharma. Therefore, we must be grateful and make offerings of the best that we can give. Nowhere in the Dharma texts is it written that the Buddha wants us to give our best when making offerings. The reason we do so is to express our gratitude. If we truly feel grateful toward someone, then we will naturally offer that person the best things that we can give; we won’t offer things that we ourselves do not want and which we would soon be throwing away.

“A lot of people buy fruit to serve as offerings to the Buddha. In such cases the parents always discuss it with their children first at the supermarket, and then they take the kind of fruit the kids like best and make offerings of it to the Buddha. You’ve all said this sort of thing, but you shouldn’t do it. You should always buy the best fruit you can afford and bring it to make your offering. The Buddha doesn’t look at your wallet; the Buddha looks at your mind. Would the Buddha choose which type of fruit to eat? You are the ones who choose it. Once you have made the offering, who eats it? You do. This shows that you have discriminating minds even while making offerings to the Buddha; you pick this and pick that depending on what you like. For this reason, you cannot cultivate compassion. When I say to use the best of what you own, I mean to do so with respect; you absolutely must not make expensive offerings just to show off how rich you are. Rather, you should simply use the best things you can afford while making offerings.

“One time in India, as Shakyamuni Buddha was walking past a village, there was a young girl who was so impoverished that the only thing she owned was the clothing she was wearing. Because she was so poor she did not dare to run out and make an offering. However, she saw that there was a puddle of water in the road, so she took off her clothing and draped it across the puddle so that the Buddha could cross it without getting His feet wet. She was so poor that she only owned that one piece of clothing, so that was the most precious thing she had—and she gave the best thing she could as an offering. Immediately afterward a prince married her, and she became a princess. Heed my words, everybody: This is where your ‘prince charming on a white horse’ comes from; he doesn’t come from dreaming about him, or from undergoing plastic surgery, or from twisting other people’s arms to get what you want. Rather, he originates from your good fortune. Without good fortune, then the only prince you meet in your life will come riding on a black horse, not white, even though princes such as this can appear quite handsome. That’s all I’ll say for this morning’s session; we’ve already gone a bit over time. The start time for the afternoon’s puja will be changed to 2:30. Those of you with afternoon plans don’t have to come; no need to worry, I won’t get mad today.”

Upon the perfect completion of the morning’s puja, in unison all of the attendees expressed their gratitude to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for the guru’s auspicious performance of the Dharma and teachings. Standing, they paid reverent homage as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne.

At 2:30 in the afternoon, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche again ascended the Dharma throne to compassionately perform the Guru Yoga and bestow precious Dharma teachings upon all of the attendees.

“The Guru Yoga Dharma method is not practiced in Exoteric Buddhism. Master Gampopa of the Kagyu Order once taught that the fastest way to accumulate good fortune and causal conditions is to make offerings to one’s guru. In the past, many Buddhist practitioners used to think that they could attain enlightenment on their own or that they could listen to someone speak the Dharma and then draw their own conclusions afterward. In the sutras Shakyamuni Buddha once said that Buddhist practice is an individual activity, and this notion is correct. Shakyamuni Buddha also once stated that a practitioner’s ability to attain enlightenment depends on his or her individual practice, and this is correct, too. However, Shakyamuni Buddha also stated that to walk through this door one must first have someone to teach.

“The Dharma is divided between the ‘doorway to liberation’ and the ‘doorway to practice.’ Many people think the ‘doorway to liberation’ refers to explanations of the sutras, Buddhist terms, how to prostrate to the Buddha, and so on. Actually, this ‘liberation’ mentioned in the sutras refers to how one can become liberated from life and death. If we do not have anyone to teach us, then we will be completely ignorant of how to do this; even if we read the Buddha’s teachings on liberation from life and death as they are written in the sutras, we really won’t be able to set foot through this doorway alone. Why not? Looking at it from a historical point of view, after Shakyamuni Buddha attained Buddhahood, the first ones He liberated were the six former servants who had just begun to practice diligently in the Buddha’s footsteps. These six former servants were at least able to have the concept of how to keep themselves from reincarnating again, but Buddhist practitioners these days have no grasp of this concept. The ones who tend to do a bit better feel that their purpose is to liberate sentient beings. However, if they themselves cannot become liberated from life and death, then how are they going to help sentient beings do it?

“The ‘doorway to liberation,’ the gate through which one gains liberation from life and death, can only be accessed by way of careful teachings and guidance from a meritorious guru who has achieved attainment. Once you enter it, and after you have gained a profound realization of the importance of practicing Buddhism to become liberated from life and death, you can begin to walk through the ‘doorway to practice,’ which means to engage in Buddhist practice. Such practice does not refer to reciting sutras, meditating, prostrating to the Buddha, attending penitential rites, and so on; rather, it means amending all of your behavior which could cause you to reincarnate, and this includes acts of body, speech, and mind. This is what Shakyamuni Buddha meant when He said that you must rely on yourself to practice.

“Even if you are able to realize and know the Dharma, it still won’t be of any use to you unless you are willing to put it to practice. This is because the Buddha cannot give us anything. The Buddha teaches people using His own experiences of having practiced, become enlightened, and attained Buddhahood; from these teachings we learn how we should act. Thus, a guru is very important to a Buddhist practitioner. Practice does not simply entail eating vegetarian and being a good person; it involves amending all behavior which would lead to reincarnation, and for this one definitely needs a guru supervising by one’s side. By ‘supervising’ I do not mean monitoring. As soon as you veer away from the correct path of your Buddhist practice even a tiny bit, your guru will immediately set you straight. If your guru does not, allowing you to continue walking down the wrong path instead, then you will not have the opportunity to be liberated from the suffering of reincarnation in this lifetime.

“I am constantly telling you that you must believe what your guru says to you. The saying, ‘Rely on the Dharma, not the teacher,’ comes from the fact that the guru did not invent the teachings, nor are they taught simply because the guru thinks they are correct. Rather, they are principles that have been passed down from guru to guru, honed through practical experience, and then retaught to people who have not had the opportunity to practice. In Tibetan Buddhism the guru is even more important to us than the Buddha, because we do not have the good fortune, causes, or conditions to receive the Buddha’s teachings directly. Whenever people say they have dreamed of or seen the Buddha, such claims are false. Why is that? Even if you were a Bodhisattva in a past life and have returned to this world to fulfill your vows, you still must start over in this lifetime in the body of an ordinary person, because you have manifested in human form.

“Shakyamuni Buddha practiced the Bodhisattva Path for many lifetimes. Based on your reasoning, Shakyamuni Buddha should have been a Buddha from birth. However, after being born Shakyamuni Buddha experienced the various sufferings of separation between loved ones in life and death, too; by the time He was in His twenties, the Buddha had obtained the causes and conditions to witness the suffering of life, old age, illness, and death. Only then did Shakyamuni Buddha decide to leave His high position and great worldly wealth behind to pursue a life of Buddhist practice. This tells us that we should not think that having had a virtuous cause in a past lifetime makes it so that we do not have to practice in this one; nor should we think that our having practiced Buddhism in our past lives means that we will naturally attain enlightenment in our current lifetime. We still must practice with the guidance of our guru’s teachings. The only difference between Shakyamuni Buddha and us is that the former was a Bodhisattva. As a result, with a Bodhisattva’s vow and all the merits accumulated through lifetime after lifetime, the Buddha was able to accumulate sufficient resources with which to attain Buddhahood in His lifetime.

“Apart from the Buddha, however, any ordinary person hoping to become liberated from life and death in this lifetime without the guidance of a guru will find that such a feat is easier said than done. Ever since I began helping sentient beings in 1997, I have seen many self-proclaimed practitioners and monastics. None of them, however, has been able to achieve liberation from life and death on his or her own; it cannot be done without the help of the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, and a guru. As a disciple you should deeply contemplate the teachings your guru has bestowed upon you while observing your own behavior, speech, and thoughts to determine whether or not they are at variance with those teachings. If they are, then you must amend them. You should not think that you cannot understand or achieve the Dharma taught to you by the guru, or that it is useless. If you think that way, it means you have not accepted the guru’s teachings.

“I had a certain disciple who took refuge for more than five years. Two years ago this disciple brought his father with him to seek a single audience with me, but did not come again after that. Recently his father passed away, so his team leader took the initiative to visit him at his home. Perhaps he arrived too early, for when he got there he saw that the disciple had invited other Tibetan Buddhist practitioners to give recitation assistance to his father. I had taught the disciples before that if they could not locate their guru, then they themselves should recite for the deceased. Having liberated countless sentient beings, I have a clear understanding of how to help the deceased. The intentions of a deceased’s family members are selfless and sincere, and are purely for the deceased’s own good—but there is no telling what the intentions of outsiders might be.

“This disciple did not even have a clear understanding of his guru’s merits, so how could he understand those of other practitioners? His team leader advised him to heed my words, telling him that he should make a report to the guru. The disciple said that a friend had told him that having more people perform recitation assistance meant more merits would be obtained by his father. For this reason I instructed him that from that moment forth he was no longer my disciple. On the day you all take refuge, I tell you that if you ever disobey your guru’s teachings, it means you have slacked off, and as such I will no longer confer the Dharma upon you. The disciple mentioned that he had made offerings to me, so I returned the full amount and not a penny less. I informed him, however, that because his father had come to see me, I would go ahead and perform the Chod for him so that he could be reborn in the Human Realm.

“Consequently, this former disciple sent me a letter in which he wrote, ‘The guru punished me for my wrongdoing.’ Apparently, he never gained an understanding of Buddhism in the more than five years that he was here. Next he wrote, ‘The guru is angry with me.’ The anger he perceived was superficial; in my heart, I was not angry. For people who do not act according to the Dharma or keep their precepts, I have no choice but to let them go, and I have stated many times the reasons why. This does not mean that such people do not meet the conditions for practicing Buddhism; rather, it means that they do not have the root capacity and good fortune necessary to listen to the Dharma, because they do not accept it. Next the disciple wrote, ‘The guru wants to help my father.’ Here he was wrong again, because as a guru I will always help any sentient beings with whom I have affinities. I understand sentient beings’ causal conditions very clearly; this has nothing to do with wanting to help or not. It has to do with compassion.

“Thus, this disciple had not heard the Dharma clearly. At the end of the letter he asked me, ‘Would donating the money to a certain party be a good thing to do?’ I only had one thing to say to him: ‘You aren’t my disciple anymore, so if you think that would be good, then go ahead and do it!’ I would not even give him my opinion on the matter. You should not think that just because you might have been here for a long time it means you understand the Dharma. So long as you are the slightest bit neglectful, the karmic hindrances from your past lives will emerge. What does ‘neglectful’ mean? It means not having a sufficiently firm belief in the Three Jewels and your guru. Many people would say they were momentarily confused, and it just so happened that a friend had called and said, ‘Alright, let me help you first!’

“Having confidence in one’s guru is very important. From the time that I was so poor I could not afford to eat, to when I should have died an early death, and all the way up to now, I have survived not because I have made offerings and gave alms; nor has the reason been that my root capacity might be better than that of others. The only difference between me and other people is that I always listen to my guru’s teachings no matter what, and would never go against his intention to help me by coming up with my own ideas. The purpose of the Buddhas’ and Bodhisattvas’ compassion is not to satisfy our desires; it comes from a worry that we will continue to reincarnate. Thus, all Dharma methods are meant to help us to become liberated from causes that would make us reincarnate.

“Even if we have planted many causes in our past lives which would force us to fall back into reincarnation, if we accumulate a lot of good fortune with the Dharma’s help we still might obtain an opportunity to be liberated from reincarnation in this lifetime. Why is making offerings to the guru the quickest way to accumulate good fortune? In the sutras it is written that the Buddha said that the merits from making offerings to a Bodhisattva who has given rise to the Bodhicitta are greater than those that come from making offerings to the Buddha. The Buddha has already attained Buddhahood, so whether or not you make offerings to the Buddha makes no difference to Him. However, the aspiration of a Bodhisattva who has given rise to the Bodhicitta would allow the Bodhisattva and all sentient beings to attain Buddhahood, so the merits from this are immense. Thus, whenever you help or make offerings to a guru, then according to the sutras you will obtain more merits than you would by making offerings to the Buddha.

“Why does Tibetan Buddhism attach so much importance to the guru? In addition, you are all told about many precepts in particular while learning Tantra. The point of this is not to make you dread or fear the guru. Actually, this is mentioned in the sutras. For example, when we lose our physical bodies and become ghosts, we enter the ‘intermediate state’ (bardo). If we were not very closely attuned to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas while we were still alive, every seven days during the forty-nine days after we die a Buddha, Bodhisattva, or yidam of the Vajra Group will appear to escort us. This is where the ‘Seven Day Rites After Death’   come from. Every seven days a different Buddha or Bodhisattva appears. Upon appearing, the light the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas emit is extremely intense for the intermediate body, so after seeing it sentient beings become fearful and run toward a place where the light is of the same color but is relatively dim. From there they will fall into the Six Realms.

“What proof is there of this? Take myself as an example. Soon after taking refuge, I had a very vivid dream that I was standing in the doorway to a temple. Inside I saw Shakyamuni Buddha emitting a very strong golden light. When I tried to enter, I was forced backwards a step due to the light’s intensity. In Tantra the dream state is called the ‘dream bardo.’ At the time I heard the master in which I had taken refuge say to me, ‘Do not be afraid. Go on inside.’ After entering the temple, I was blessed by Shakyamuni Buddha. Actually, some of my disciples have had the exact same experience.

“What this tells you is that even if you formed an affinity with the Buddha in your past lives, without the help of a guru in this lifetime you will be afraid of the Buddha’s light even if you have practiced Buddhism. To give a metaphor, before we have attained enlightenment and become liberated from life and death, we exist in a dark room devoid of any light. As is mentioned in the Avatamsaka Sutra, while we are in this dark room the Buddha’s light can guide us in the right direction. Therefore, when sentient beings who have grown accustomed to living in the murk of fundamental darkness see the Buddha’s light, it is too different from what they are used to, so they cannot accept it.

“What do we actually learn while practicing Buddhism? We learn these things of which I have just spoken. Why is the guru important? While you are still living, when you see your guru clearly and become acquainted with his or her appearance, you will feel closer to the guru. As a result, after you die and the guru appears before you, you will not be afraid to follow him or her. In the sutras it is mentioned that as you are dying, your karmic creditors will appear in the form of close friends and relatives or ghosts and deities that you would recognize; they will try to lead you into reincarnation in the Six Realms. One of my disciples experienced this sort of thing. She had had a car accident, and an elderly person showed up and tried to lead her away. He even attempted to trick her by saying, ‘Your guru is over there waiting for you.’ No matter how many guises the elderly person transformed into, however, he was unable to take on my appearance. This disciple stubbornly refused to follow unless she saw her guru, which is why she lived, and to this day she continues to pester me.

“From this story it should be clear to you that if you die, even in an untimely manner, then as long as you have sufficient faith in your guru he or she can bring you back so that you can continue to practice Buddhism. I had another disciple who had a similar experience after suffering a stroke. The reason I want you to have faith in, respect, and make offerings to your guru is that there actually is no alternative, because in this Age of Degenerate Dharma you really don’t have the good fortune to see the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Don’t think you have seen or heard them in your dreams; these are all fake, for until you yourselves have become Bodhisattvas, the Sambhogakayas of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas would never appear before you.

“The Nirmanakayas of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas might appear before you, unless you have already stopped breathing and are about to die. It is written in the Amitabha Sutra that Amitabha Buddha will take on hundreds of millions of emanations to guide sentient beings. If you haven’t died yet, then how can you see Them? Even if you really did see Them, They would not appear as the Buddha statues you’ve seen before. Shakyamuni Buddha and Amitabha Buddha do not looks as They are usually drawn, because when I saw Shakyamuni Buddha, His appearance was completely different from those depictions. Thus, the reason the guru is important is that you can see what he or she looks like while you are still alive. Whether your guru is bald or has hair, or is a monastic or a lay practitioner, you will be familiar with him or her.

“As long as you establish faith in your guru, he or she will look after you through any disasters or crises that might happen to you in this lifetime, the next lifetime, and even many lifetimes after that. To give an example from my own experience, in this lifetime I once dreamed that I saw Lord Jigten Sumgön bestowing help right before an enormous disaster struck me. As a result, nothing bad resulted from the disaster. When a guru accepts a disciple taking refuge and begins to teach him or her the Dharma, the disciple becomes the guru’s responsibility through lifetime after lifetime. The reason disciples should make offerings to the guru is that the guru has so many merits, so making offerings to him or her is equivalent to joining the guru in his or her great ocean of merits. This happens if you are able to please and give delight to the guru, not necessarily having anything to do with the monetary amount of your offerings. For example, an elderly disciple passed away recently; he had been more than ten years older than I am. However, he had never really troubled me, and generally speaking would never bother me with his own problems. This was not because he did not have faith in his guru; rather, it was because he accepted the law of cause and effect and knew that one day the guru would help him with something very important.

“The day he passed away I was helping so many sentient beings that I completely forgot to perform the Phowa for him. However, I remembered as soon as I returned to the lounge. What did this mean? I remembered because this disciple had had a very strong faith in me. If he hadn’t, then perhaps by the time I remembered it would have been too late. He had never made a grand offering, but all his life he had never troubled me. Despite his age, he had once described me to someone thusly: ‘A guru for a day, is a father for many lifetimes.’ You would never be capable of making such nauseating remarks, but he said it. This is because elderly people are thick-skinned. Having uttered these words was enough by itself to build up a very large amount of good fortune for him.

“Why do I first perform the Guru Yoga on New Year’s Day? It is because whether you practice Buddhism or adhere to the laws of the mundane world, unless you have enough good fortune you will be unable to stand up against disasters and illness when they occur. Without sufficient good fortune, even if you were to encounter a meritorious guru, you would still be unable to learn Buddhism from him or her. It’s like that disciple I mentioned a while ago, the one who had taken refuge for more than five years. His attitude while practicing Buddhism was always one of seeking protection and blessings, so his faith was insufficient. As a result, things changed for him once he encountered a certain situation. The Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center is rife with such stories, many of which can be read on the Center’s website.

“Think about that American disciple who shared his experiences with everyone this morning before the puja began: Why had the state of his illness begun to change? It transformed after he went from being skeptical to giving rise to a very strong faith. Why did his illness change? It was because once he had accumulated some good fortune, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas knew that he wanted to practice. I have another disciple who also suffered from liver disease, and has taken refuge for many years, but by comparison the one who shared his experiences this morning was in a much more serious condition, because his liver had been completely useless. Now, however, his liver cells have begun to regenerate. The other disciple’s liver disease was not as serious, but he went and had surgery for it because his family loved him too much and he did not have faith in his guru.

“I won’t stop you from undergoing surgery, nor would I ever keep you from doing anything; you reap what you sow. Why should you do everything you can to avoid surgery? It is because as you grow older, you become more susceptible to the many side effects and complications that can come from having an operation. A guru’s job is not to cure you of your illnesses, but once you have come to accept everything your guru does and says, you will begin to accumulate good fortune. Once this happens, the demons of sickness will no longer be able to torment you. Even so, you all adore your family members and listen to everything they say; you think they are the only ones with your best interests in mind. You must understand very clearly that on the day of your death, your family members will certainly not be able to help you even one little bit. In the Dharma text it is mentioned—and many gurus have said this as well—that upon your death, only the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and the guru can help and liberate you. Your family members are absolutely incapable of this, unless they are like me; I was able to save my mother. How many practitioners are there who can do the same? Not many. That being the case, you all should listen to what your guru tells you.

“A guru cannot destroy the conjugal love that exists in your family, so I only have one resort—anything you say is fine; that is, I will help you according to your causal conditions. The Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center is very unique; the exact same things happened at the exact same time, yet they made you see that different ways of doing things will result in different consequences. Thus, I did not deceive you, nor did the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas. It was your own problem that you were not able to achieve what you set out to do; it was a result of your not having listened. Upon falling ill, many people think they should follow their family members’ advice to undergo surgery. Did I not have cancer once? Back then I had already divorced, but I still had family members around me—my mother and my children. Why didn’t I need to visit the doctor? It was because I had accepted cause and effect.

“From the standpoint of the law, many people are unable to accept this. You must, however, since you all live within the sphere of the Dharma. Why can’t your family members accept it? It is because you have never spoken of your guru’s merits at home; you only come here seeking blessings and protection. Right now I have a doctor-disciple who listens more and more to what I have to say; not because I am remarkable, but because she personally operated on her own uncle. He had gotten liver cancer, so came seeking an audience with me. I advised him that undergoing surgery would be useless, but after thinking about the fact that his niece was a surgeon in his family, of course he would ask her to do the operation. The doctor-disciple said that she had operated on her uncle for more than ten hours, but that in the end she had given up because she had known it would be impossible to completely get rid of all of his cancer cells. How small are cancer cells? I have spoken of this many times, but no one believes me.”

Right then and there, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked this doctor-disciple whether or not she carried a microscope with her during surgery. The doctor-disciple answered that if it was a procedure to remove liver or stomach cancer cells, then no microscope would be used. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked, “If you had a microscope with you while operating, would you be able to see things clearly?” The doctor-disciple answered, “No matter how high you set the magnification of the microscope, it’s still very hard to see such tiny cells.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went on to ask, “Don’t the cells spread everywhere by way of the circulation of the blood?” The doctor-disciple answered, “Yes.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked, “Then based on what principle do doctors assume that after cutting out the cancer cells some of them won’t have spread to other places in the body?” The doctor-disciple answered, “Current research indicates that if pressure is applied to the tumor during surgery, it will cause cancer cells to escape; however, the operating surgeon will be unable to see this happening.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said humorously, “So, a doctor has to learn clairvoyance in order to know whether any cancer cells have escaped and what locations they might have spread to.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued: “Don’t get the wrong impression; I am not opposed to medical treatment or to doctors. If any of you misunderstand, you could run into problems. Today I am simply telling you all very clearly that if you were disciples with faith in the Dharma and an understanding of the impermanence of life, then you would know very well that you should not waste any more of your time. If you instead remained steadfast and devoted your lives to chanting the Buddha’s name and making prostrations to the Buddha, then doing so would actually yield results. These days there are some doctors who come out and say these sorts of things, so those who don’t believe remain skeptical no matter what you tell them. Even that doctor-disciple still has a very reserved and conservative attitude about this sort of thing, because after the day she operated on her uncle it became very clear to her that a doctor’s capabilities have their limits.” Right then and there the doctor-disciple said, “This is true; after surgery, I realized how disastrous it was.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to bestow teachings. “No matter what, as long as a sentient being has formed an affinity with me, then even if he or she is in the wrong I will still help that sentient being. Just as with that disciple who took refuge in me for five years, even though he was in the wrong, his father had already lost his life, so I was still willing to help him. Why do I keep talking about having faith in the Dharma all the time? Nowadays I don’t dare to speak of anything which would be useless or bad for you. Still, I wonder just how many of you would actually listen even if I said it.

“The reason I am performing the Guru Yoga today is to help you all accumulate sufficient good fortune and resources for practicing Buddhism. The Refuge Prayer in the Dharma text is also different from the ones in other Dharma texts. This one says,

‘All mother sentient beings—
Especially those enemies who hate me,
Obstructers who harm me,
And those who create obstacles on my path to liberation and all-
May they experience happiness, be separated from suffering,
and swiftly will I establish them in the state of unsurpassed,
perfect, complete, and precious Buddhahood.’

Why do we take refuge? This is exactly what we hope the guru will help us with. This part is different from other Dharma texts, and is of great benefit. This is the reason you are all here participating in today’s puja, and only the guru can help you with it.

“‘Those enemies who hate me’ refers to those to whom you have done profound harm in the past and whose anger cannot be appeased by any virtuous deeds you might have done in this lifetime. Where do ‘obstructers who harm me’ come from? They come from all of the evil acts you commit in this lifetime. Don’t think that anyone who loves you is necessarily good for you; actually, they are obstructing your liberation from life and death. The reason you have all come to participate in the puja today is to cause all mother sentient beings in the void to obtain happiness, leave suffering behind, and attain the perfect Buddhahood as soon as possible. If such is your mindset while taking refuge, then your good fortune from participating in today’s performance of the Guru Yoga will quickly arise.

“Lord Jigten Sumgön was the founding father of the Drikung Kagyu lineage. According to what is recorded in the Dharma texts Lord Jigten Sumgön was Bodhisattva Nagarijuna in a past life, who in turn was Vimalakirti in a previous lifetime. Lord Jigten Sumgön was Achi’s grandson, and was born in the home of a practitioner. His father was originally of the Nyingma Order, so Jigten Sumgön practiced Buddhism from an early age and took refuge in Phagmodrupa. Phagmodrupa had many disciples, which is why the Kagyu Order was split into several different branches of which the Drikung Kagyu Order is one. ‘Drikung’ is a place name, and the Order’s teachings are transmitted orally. In the more than seven hundred years of the Drikung Kagyu Order’s history since the time of Lord Jigten Sumgön, this lineage has been passed down through thirty-seven throne holders without interruption. For this reason, as Lord Jigten Sumgön once stated, the Drikung Kagyu Order’s blessings are especially pure, auspicious, and powerful.

“The most fearful thing to a Dharma lineage is that one day its teachings might be interrupted; for example, that its Dharma methods might not be practiced for a period of a decade or a century or two. Why would such an interruption decrease the efficacy of a lineage’s blessings? It is because blessings are additive; one plus one equals two, and if this continues, the amount of blessings will keep growing. If you add one plus one and then suddenly stop, however, then years later adding another one will still only bring the total to three. In other words, if a lineage’s blessings keep adding up without stop, then its great ocean of merits will grow larger and larger. If you add to this the Dharma activities of every throne holder and the many meritorious Rinpoches who have aspired to help sentient beings, then the power of the lineage’s blessings becomes enormous. The Drikung Kagyu Order’s lineage is one of true practice; that is, its practices remain true to Shakyamuni Buddha’s Dharma method of becoming liberated from life and death. For this reason the vast majority of the Drikung Kagyu Order’s monasteries used to be built deep in the mountains in places very difficult to locate, as it attached more importance to performing retreats than anything else.

“In the Drikung Kagyu Order only a Rinpoche who has mastered Kriyatantra, Charyatantra, Yogatantra, and Anuttarayogatantra while in retreat is qualified to propagate Buddhist teachings. Even if someone not thusly qualified were allowed to propagate Buddhist teachings, it would not mean any power would emerge from the Dharma he or she performed. Today is New Year’s Day; you should please the guru with an offering so that nothing hinders your Buddhist practice in the coming year. You should emulate that elderly disciple who recently passed away; because he always had a very clear attitude of respect toward his guru, he made me happy and naturally able to remember him.

“I don’t mean you should curry favor with me or act like a bunch of kiss-ups; that would not please me at all. As I’ve said very clearly, I look at you individually to see whether or not your thoughts, speech, and behavior are respectful toward the Dharma. If they are, then your guru is sure to be pleased, in which case his mind will open up to envelop you. When you cause the guru to be displeased, although his mind will not be closed to you, you will be unable to come in contact with his blessings. I’ll explain the reasons for this in more detail at a later time. When the guru is pleased, then even if he has not spoken to you, his blessings will continuously bless you. A meritorious guru does not stand alone; behind that guru is a large amount of support. In my case I have the backing of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, and behind him is the entire Drikung Kagyu Lineage. Therefore, I have an enormous amount of backing, so don’t you come here and bully me.

“From the text of the Refuge Prayer it becomes obvious that our purpose in participating in today’s puja should be to keep ourselves from having any hindrances along our path to Buddhist practice which would prevent us from being liberated. This is the reasoning behind what is known as giving rise to good fortune. Because making offerings produces good fortune, doing so will lessen and prevent your hindrances to becoming liberated. In a moment, while I am performing the Dharma, you must all be respectful. I don’t mean that you should just be respectful toward me; I mean you should maintain an attitude of reverence toward all of the lineage gurus, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas. In addition you must be respectful toward all of your enemies. If none of you had any enemies and were living perfect lives, then who would want to come here? Asking you to participate in the puja would be like wishing for the stories of the Arabian Nights to come true.

“Thus, these enemies, demons that would harm us, and people who would obstruct our Buddhist practice are all people to whom we owe a debt of gratitude. Without them you would not understand the preciousness of the Dharma; without them, you would be unable to see where you are at fault. If you were faultless then you would not have enemies; by the same token, people with enemies definitely have faults and should reflect upon their actions. There are more than 1300 people participating in today’s puja; I don’t have time to help each of you reflect upon your individual actions, so you must do it yourselves.”

Next His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the auspicious Guru Yoga. After performing the Dharma for a while, the guru said, “The part I just performed says that from the time we take refuge to the time we attain Buddhahood we must pledge to perform virtuous acts with the three great gates of body, speech, and mind. This is different from the vow made in Exoteric Buddhism, which generally speaking only focuses on this lifetime. The vow in Vajrayana Buddhism, on the other hand, is one that cannot ever be broken through the course of many lifetimes prior to attaining Buddhahood. Since we absolutely must practice virtuously in body, speech, and mind until we die, we must do so starting right now by taking refuge, together with all the sentient beings in the void, in the essence of meritorious Dharma activities of body, speech, and mind of the Buddhas in the ten directions and the three times.”

While performing the Dharma, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche bestowed the Meditation Empowerment upon all of the attendees and explained what it meant.

“Most people think practicing meditation simply involves sitting cross-legged, breathing, and contemplating the mind. There is a rule in Tantra, however, whereby you must receive empowerment from the guru; only then are you qualified to practice it. Today I have bestowed upon you all the Meditation Empowerment, and that means in the future you will be qualified to practice Mahamudra meditation of the Drikung Kagyu Order. This is an uncommon Dharma, so if you have no affinity with the Drikung Kagyu Order you will not be able to listen to it or have it transmitted to you. The Meditation Empowerment is divided into preliminary practice, main practice, and concluding practice. Now, as you sit down there practicing the Seven Branch Sitting Method, you should not slouch or scratch here and there; you should sit like a meditation practitioner.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to confer the Meditation Empowerment upon the attendees, teaching them what they should visualize during the Four Empowerments and helping them to purify themselves of their hindrances and attachments. As the guru continued to perform the Dharma, the eight offering girls presented a song and the Tsok and Tea-Offering rituals were conducted. After that, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne to conduct the Lamp-Offering Ritual, compassionately instructing the attendees not to stand. After lighting the lamps as offerings to the Buddha, the guru again ascended the Dharma throne to continue performing the Dharma.

After a while, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led all of the attendees in a prayer recitation and a chanting of the Great Six-Syllable Mantra. Several people began to recite out loud before the guru had even begun, and for this Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche sternly reprimanded them on the spot.

“You’re all in such a big hurry to recite! Are you hoping to become Rinpoches? If so, then you may head over to Lapchi Snow Mountain in Nepal and go into retreat for three years. Who wants to go?” No one in the venue raised a hand. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued: “If none of you is willing to go, then you should wait until I’ve opened my mouth before you open yours. You so-called Buddhist practitioners that are scrambling to be the first ones to recite should understand that I am the one leading you in the recitation, not the other way around. If you want to lead it, then you might as well come on up here and sit the Dharma throne! There are so many people like this; they do their best to start reciting first, even though the Dharma master is clearly the one performing the Dharma from the dais. Do you think you’re outstanding in some way? The next time this happens I’ll just stop performing the Dharma and ask you all to leave.

“For you to have so many bad habits means you are not respectful. Who among you wants to be a Rinpoche? If you do, then I might as well just call myself an A-grade Rinpoche and let you be D-grade Rinpoches. When I see you rushing to recite first it ruins the spirit and the compassionate atmosphere with which I would normally lead you in the recitation. You pay absolutely no attention to your guru; your focus is entirely on the words in the text. The next time this happens, no matter what, I’m going to kick you all out. Watch the people sitting next to you. Ever since ancient times, there have been regulations in place to implicate and punish a person’s associates for his or her wrongdoings. If you don’t keep each other in line, then later when you’re asked to leave you’ll all be sorry.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche compassionately continued to perform the Dharma. After a while, the guru began to bestow teachings according to what was written in the Dharma text.

“There is a section of the prayer in the Dharma text in which it is mentioned that after we make offerings, we should implore for all the Dakas, Dakinis, and Dharma Protectors to reveal a beneficial worldly apparition to the practitioner. This means enabling the practitioner’s form to appear and benefit all sentient beings. After receiving the offerings, all of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will be delighted. After that it is further written that as a result the Buddhas will give support to the person who made the vow. As long as you do not change the vow you made today to help sentient beings, all of the Buddhas will come to support you. This is not necessarily a grand pledge; it varies from person to person. As long as you have vowed to benefit sentient beings, and do not waver from this vow, then the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will all come to support you. For example, if you vow never to kill, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will support you; if you vow never to deceive your parents, then the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will allow you to get better test scores in school. This is the truth.

“In the Dharma text it goes on to mention ‘carrying forward Buddhist teachings to fulfil the practitioner’s vows.’ This refers to everything that promotes the Buddha’s teachings; it does not necessarily mean you have to become a guru. If you act as a Buddhist disciple in body, speech, and mind for everyone to see, then all of your wishes will be fulfilled. Some people think dedicating a sutra recitation to their husbands is the only way to make them listen, when actually that is not necessary. As long as you act as a practicing Buddhist disciple in body, speech, and mind, the Buddha will naturally come to grant your wishes. A practitioner should benefit all sentient beings, and this includes your parents, wives, husbands, and children. Thus, once you have this intention and you act correctly in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings, your wishes are sure to be granted. This does not mean you will strike it rich; rather, it means you will be able to eliminate all of your hindrances.

“‘May I have unhindered success in all of the activities I am instructed to do.’ This part is said to the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Dharma protectors, and they can help make all of your Dharma activities unhindered and successful. Ever since I began learning Buddhism from His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, any time I have aspired to support my guru and the Order, strangely enough someone has always shown up to help me. This is because I have never changed my vows. Thus, if you keep changing yours back and forth and do not remain true to your word, then you will not be able to keep them. These vows do not refer to the ones made between man and woman; those are of possession and desire. Saying that you will forever love someone until the end of the world is a lie; can you stop seeing others with your eyes or hearing others with your ears?

“These ‘activities’ mentioned in the Dharma text refer to those which benefit sentient beings. For anyone who has given rise to the Bodhicitta and come to participate in today’s puja, everything written in the Dharma text is sure to be of benefit. It will also benefit you if have not given rise to the Bodhicitta, as long as you make a firm resolution to perform good deeds. As for exactly how it will benefit you, I do not know, but one thing for certain is that it won’t match you up with a Prince Charming. It will, however, have definite lifelong benefits for you as long as you are willing to listen and accept it.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then performed the Dharma, leading the attendees in a special recitation of the prayers of the Fourth Empowerment, and continued to bestow teachings. “Normally I would not lead you all in a recitation of this part of the prayer, but because today is New Year’s Day I’m in a relatively good mood. For now I won’t reveal what the prayer means, but after we recite it I’ll lead you all in a short meditation.” Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche reprimanded the parents of a child who wouldn’t stop crying. “Your child has cried all this time; why don’t you take better care of him?” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then instructed them to leave the venue, and continued to bestow teachings.

“While meditating, you should sit up straight. It’s okay to sit with either one or both legs crossed. When you meditate, sitting still for a really long time does not mean you are remarkable. Back when I was practicing Exoteric Buddhism I, too, labored under this sort of misapprehension, but sitting still for a very long time simply means you have strong legs. In meditation quality is more important than quantity. It requires that we bring our chaotic minds under control to the point that we can return to our original state of non-motion. It takes a very long time to attain this, and it isn’t something that ordinary people can achieve. While meditating we can sense how many wandering thoughts we normally have. Any thought that is unrelated to the Dharma is defined in Buddhism as a wandering thought. What do I mean when I say ‘unrelated to the Dharma?’ I mean any thought which is useless when it comes to benefiting sentient beings or becoming liberated from life and death. These conditions are quite strict. I’m not talking about when you think getting hungry and wanting something to eat is a wandering thought; this is normal.

“People who have not learned how to meditate never understand just how incredibly fast their minds are moving. I’m not talking about your pulse; even at its fastest, your heart won’t beat more than one or two hundred times a minute. What I mean is that your wandering thoughts are constantly in motion. Only by way of meditation can you detect that you have so many wandering thoughts. They are not our enemies; many people think that having wandering thoughts while meditating is bad, so they try to get rid of them. Actually this, too, is a wandering thought. Whenever you have a thought and then come up with another thought to get rid of it, the second one is a wandering thought as well. One side of the Chinese character for ‘Zen’ means ‘single,’ while the other side means ‘garment.’ It is very simple, and not nearly as complicated as you would imagine. The reason I performed this Dharma earlier was to eliminate your hindrances for you—such as self-righteousness, thinking you are remarkable, or thinking that you should understand this because you have read a lot of books.

“The first step in learning to meditate is to understand that you have a lot of wandering thoughts. If you have wandering thoughts, what should you do about them? You don’t need to do anything. There is no need to chase them down and think about them or use other ways of suppressing them so that they stop moving, because thoughts are forever in flux. Detecting the existence of your many wandering thoughts shows that at least in this you are more advanced than others, for you are now aware that you have a lot of wandering thoughts. Whether your thoughts arise or disappear does not matter, because they are all impermanent; this is a very natural phenomenon. Thus, meditating in pursuit of a certain special or different feeling is incorrect, too. If you do not learn meditation from a guru, it can be very dangerous because of something which in Buddhism has a special name—the ills of meditation. This refers to getting sick from sitting in meditation. Why would this happen? It can happen if you are in the wrong mindset or if you do not have enough good fortune. It is very difficult to practice meditation if you do not have sufficient good fortune, because all of your mental conditions as well as those of the outside world will come and interfere.

“Today I’m only giving you all a brief overview of meditation. It is not the same as letting go of all your thoughts; if you say you want to do so, then that in and of itself is a thought, too. Not being able to let go of your thoughts is the addition of another thought, too, as is not being able to let go of your thoughts; therefore, no Emptiness is obtained. Letting go of all your thoughts is a non-Buddhist term. A lot of people love to go and listen to people give lectures, and so-called ‘taking classes’ is very popular out there at the moment. However, none of this is very correct, and won’t be useful to you until you learn Buddhist meditation.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche transmitted the Seven Branch Sitting Method, explained what one should focus on as well as the correct posture and mentality one should maintain while meditating, and continued to bestow Dharma teachings.

“When you have just begun to practice meditation, the important thing is not how long you can sit. Rather, you must learn to become aware of your wandering thoughts and reduce them in number. You should know that doing this is very simple. When you first begin, if you can meditate for three minutes, this is already a quite a long time for many people. After a while if you suddenly discover that those three minutes have flown by very quickly, it means you did not have as many wandering thoughts that day. Where does time come from? Because thoughts are constantly in motion, once you empty your mind of them you stop sensing the passage of time. The Venerable Mahākāśyapa is still meditating on Chicken Claw Mountain in Yunnan because time has completely stopped for him.

“A problem can arise while practicing meditation. When you don’t have enough good fortune or you are trying too hard while meditation, you can suddenly feel very tired, yet you won’t be able to sleep. This is because you have raised your awareness a bit, but you do not have enough good fortune to use it. As a result, even though you are very tired and want to go to sleep, you will be unable to. When you first begin to meditate you absolutely must not exert too much effort; likewise, don’t think you can advance very quickly by meditating for three minutes today, six minutes tomorrow, and so on. This would be useless. While meditating you must adjust yourself to your physical body. As your body gets used to your lifestyle, it will naturally harmonize with your mind. If your physical body does not adapt yet your mind has already changed, then they will be out of synch with each other. This is because ever since we were born we have given rise to a lot of thoughts every day which are in constant motion, and which won’t settle down.

“The reason you yell out that you are bored is that you won’t settle down; you have nothing to do and no one to chat with you. Thus, why are smartphones so popular these days? It is because you have no one to chat with, so you are constantly playing with your phones. At some point in the future your fingers might turn very ugly from having tapped on your phones so much. Why do you feel bored and continue with such behavior? It is because your minds are constantly filled with thoughts, so you seek out other things to make you feel as though you aren’t thinking about anything. Actually, you are still thinking.

“There is a section of prayer in the Dharma text in which it is written that all of the guru’s blessings will integrate with your body, speech, mind, and self-nature. As for how such integration occurs, we won’t get into that today. Afterward, as long as you possess sufficient causes, conditions, and good fortune, then as a Rinpoche of the Drikung Kagyu Order I will teach you Mahamudra meditation. Mahamudra meditation can be separated into Exoteric and Tantric methods. In Exoteric Buddhism the focus is on theory, while in Tantra the focus is on how to achieve it.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed a few disciples whose names had just been called to sit down. Without waiting for the guru’s instructions, a doctor-disciple went ahead and sat down, and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche berated him by asking when he had changed his name. After that the guru showed concern by asking him if he had bought a new shirt or not. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said humorously, “This disciple is a doctor, but must have changed his profession to fabric dyeing, because he was able to dye his white shirt yellow. The day I saw this I admonished him, telling him that there was no need to wear such pretty clothes. Wearing clean clothing is a form of politeness, but he’s so frugal that he isn’t even willing to spend money on a nice shirt. Today he’s wearing black, but that can be worn until it turns grey, so he still needs to be careful.”

Next His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche personally led all of the attendees in meditation and reminded everyone, “You do not need to be tense or relaxed; just sit naturally. Practicing meditation is very natural; it is a part of life. There is no need to deliberately think about the fact that you are learning to sit in meditation; simply adjust your lifestyles a tiny bit.”
After the meditation was finished, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to bestow teachings upon all of the attendees.

“You should not think that learning to meditate will immediately make you omnipotent or cause you to stand out from the masses. It is enough if you can find a minute or two to do it every day; don’t think you have to sit for half an hour or longer before your meditation is effective. Why should we practice meditation? It is because we want to be able to focus our minds on a single point in the moments just before and just after we expire. For example, on Amitabha Buddha or the guru; only if we have no other thoughts in mind can we succeed in passing on to the Pure Land. Don’t think that the only purpose of meditation is to attain enlightenment; there are many ways to attain enlightenment, and they do not necessarily involve meditation. We meditate because we will be in great need of this skill as we are passing away, not because it is good for our health or will make us smarter. These are just side effects, and are unimportant. Anyone who practices this method for a very long time will become relatively settled of mind and will no longer do certain things roughly or impulsively. The most important thing is to be able to use it as you are passing away. If you are not focused, then even if you master the Phowa you still will forget its pith and sounds.

“Don’t misunderstand and think that meditation should be practiced for a very long time. Whether you are a monastic or a lay practitioner, there is currently no environment that is conducive to all of you practicing. These days there might still be those who meditate in caves up in the mountains, but they will not necessarily be able to attain liberation from life and death by meditation alone. Actually, the most important thing about meditation is that it can send our minds in a pure direction. Once our minds give rise to purity, we can enter Samadhi even without sitting cross-legged; we can even do things around the clock while in a state of Samadhi. Don’t view the mastering of meditation as a myth; this is simply a way to change our lives, to train ourselves to control our thoughts, bodies, and minds. Right now you are all still unable to control your minds; you are still plagued every day by a heap of wandering thoughts. By way of meditation, you can begin to control yourselves.

“A unique feature of Buddhism is that it teaches us to control our minds, and in addition to chanting mantras and prostrating to the Buddha, meditation is another method of doing so. It is not true that one can only attain enlightenment through meditation. The Buddha had eighty-four thousand different Dharma methods, and it just depends on what your causal conditions are. Because the Drikung Kagyu Order’s foundation is the Samadhi state of Mahamudra, and today is New Year’s Day, I have planted this seed for you all. As for when you might be able to master it, I have no idea. It depends on how much respect and faith you have in the Dharma and your guru.

“Although today I have taught you about meditation, I advise any of you who have not yet taken refuge to be careful at first not to meditate every day. This is because you have not taken refuge, so you do not have the devas, nagas, Dharma protectors, and others of the eight groups of beings to protect you. Those of you who have taken refuge as my disciples should not come over and ask me such things as, ‘After sitting for a while I felt a cool sensation on my back; does this mean a ghost came and blew air on me?’ Sometimes while meditating you will sweat, so it is normal for your backs to get cold. Likewise, do not think that you are hearing things; simply stand up, don’t look this way and that for ghosts. Even if there really are some around, they were thought up in your own minds, and you can always bring them with you to the Chod Puja to be liberated. A lot of people start imagining all kinds of things as soon as they begin to meditate, saying they suddenly feel like their chi-channels are moving or their hands are shaking. This is simply because of the fact that you are settled and are therefore more attentive to physical sensations. There are also people who say they never used to have any problems in the past, but that after they began meditating they started having back problems. Actually, your backs were sore already; it’s just that you forgot that fact because you’re constantly on your phones every day.

“Don’t enshroud meditation in a cloud of mystery or think that you have to be particularly intelligent to learn to do it. A lot of scholars think they have what it takes to practice meditation because they believe they are wiser than other people, when in actuality this is not very correct. Even though the Sixth Patriarch Hui was illiterate, he still became a founder. Back then, Shenxiu practiced alongside the Sixth Patriarch. Although Shenxiu showed more literary promise, wrote many sastras, and was more knowledgeable than the Sixth Patriarch Hui, he was unable to attain enlightenment because his mind was too complicated. Don’t think you have to be an intellectual to practice meditation, or that if you are an academic or have a Ph.D. it will come easy to you. The more you study, the harder it is to learn meditation. Why should you practice meditation? The reason is that if you can enter Samadhi even a little bit at the end of each day after practicing Buddhism then the Dharma, mantras, and prayers you practiced will enter the Dharma Realm. Without meditating, then everything you practiced will instead remain in your consciousness.

“Today’s teachings have been helpful to a few monastics because I’ve given them the answers to some questions they used to think were unanswerable. What is so hard about practicing Buddhism? It really is not difficult in general, but the hardest thing is to encounter a meritorious guru. I have spent a lot of time performing the Dharma for you all, and have wrecked whatever evening plans you might have had, but I do not dare to descend the Dharma throne until I have finished saying everything that needs to be said. I hope that all of your Buddhist and worldly activities will go relatively smoothly this year. Of course you must amend your behavior, and after you have begun to learn Buddhism you absolutely must not demand that other people change or criticize their moral character; you have no right to do so. You should use the Dharma to criticize and examine yourselves. If you don’t use this sort of method to amend your ways while practicing Buddhism, then why are you practicing in the first place? Don’t think that if I see your son and bless him briefly it means he will start to do better in school. Who do you think I am? Even going to after-school classes costs an enormous amount of money; if making an offering of a few thousand dollars were enough to cause your kids to do well in school, then you’d have gotten off lightly.

“Don’t be superstitious. I have good fortune and blessings, but don’t you think you can bank on them. If you think you can exploit them and talk nonsense every day, then your minds will gradually wander away. If you believe in your guru’s blessings, then one blessing is enough. Every day that I see His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, I never implore for him to bestow blessings, because I know a guru blesses his disciples on a daily basis. Those of you who have not yet taken refuge have no intention to do so; you think being a believer is very comfortable because I can’t supervise you. You are wrong, and sooner or later I will ask you to leave. Whatever your position or social status might be, continuing to come here yet not being willing to take refuge ultimately means you are just fooling around with me and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Why don’t you want to take refuge? Do you think you can attain enlightenment just by reciting the sutras at home every day? The reason I wanted to take refuge in His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang was that I knew without a doubt that I could not succeed on my own.

“These people who have no intention to take refuge come here all the time, but they are simply accumulating some good fortune of the Human and Heavenly Realms, so they cannot be liberated from life and death. I don’t know when I will die, but you should not think that just because I have practiced for such a long time it means I will live until I am ninety. I can tell you with certainty that there is no way I’ll live that long. So, once I am gone, who will be here to help you? You should do your best to make use of me while I’m still alive, but only disciples practicing the Dharma can do so.

“Returning to the topic of that elderly disciple who passed away recently, he really did not make many offerings. When I speak of offerings I am actually talking about your minds. That you have come here for so long without taking refuge means your minds are evil and you are still prepared to do evil. If you weren’t, then what reason would you have to fear taking refuge, being driven off by me in the future, or not being able to do well? What is the meaning of doing well? Only attaining Buddhahood is considered to be perfect and complete; before that, even I would not dare to say that I am doing well enough. Don’t look for excuses to put off the causal condition of taking refuge. I am not asking for you to take refuge; I simply feel sorry for you. Even disciples who have taken refuge can be driven away, so how long do those of you who haven’t taken refuge think you can linger here wasting my time? One day I might wake up and regretfully ask you to stop coming. I would, too, and without fear of offending you.

“That you are afraid of being supervised by me means you are still evil; you think you are doing just fine by maintaining some distance. If you take refuge I will keep my distance from you then, too; I will not ask you to go to restaurants with me or visit your homes. Very rarely have I done this for my disciples; perhaps for only one in ten thousand. That being the case, why are you still not willing to take refuge? It really is strange; no matter how much I might scratch my head, I still cannot fathom it. Okay, I won’t reprimand you anymore. I wish everyone a smooth and happy New Year, and that everything you do comes to perfect completion. That is all I have to say for today.”

Upon the perfect completion of the puja, all of the attendees expressed a chorus of gratitude for the auspicious Dharma performance and teachings bestowed by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. They wished the guru a happy New Year, and standing, paid reverent homage as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne.

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Updated on May 1, 2014