His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – February 9, 2014

Before the puja commenced, a disciple thanked His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for bestowing upon her this opportunity to share her story and give praise to the guru’s merits.

She started off by telling everyone of the causal condition that had led her to be fortunate enough to take refuge in His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. During a social gathering back in 2004, she had learned that one of her alumni did not eat seafood. At the time, however, the place had been crowded, so she had not gotten the chance to ask her why. Later she had had another opportunity to go out to eat with this same alumnus; still curious, she had asked. To her surprise the alumnus had answered, “Because my savior said not to.” She had gone on to explain that during a physical examination a few years earlier she had been found to have ovarian cancer, and the doctor had even told her that she did not have long to live. Feeling helpless with an incurable disease, she had sought audience with a Buddhist practitioner. This practitioner had told her to stop eating seafood and to keep participating in the pujas. After some time she had returned to the hospital to have another ultrasound done, and this time the doctor had informed her that the tumors had disappeared, for they could not be detected. This short account spoken by her alumnus had shaken the disciple to her very foundations. At the time she had thought to herself, I really must go and pay this incredibly phenomenal person a visit. As it turned out, the savior mentioned by her alumnus had been none other than His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

More than a month later she had heard that her eleven-year-old nephew had been found to have a brain tumor, and had been unconscious for several months already. Upon hearing the news she had thought of the very phenomenal person mentioned by her alumnus, so had immediately expressed her hopes to the boy’s parents—her first cousin and his wife—that they could seek an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. When her young nephew had first fallen ill, many religious figures had sought his parents out and made many promises to them; at the same time, however, these people had charged them a lot of money. Thus, after listening to the example the disciple had given of her alumnus’s experience, her first cousin and his wife had not been very willing to seek the guru out, but was too polite to refuse her suggestion.

Later on, her cousin and his wife had not sought an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche; her nephew’s grandmother, uncle, and the disciple’s mom had gone instead. The guru had said, “This child has an affinity with me,” and with great compassion had kept their contact information and gone to the hospital personally to bestow blessings upon her nephew. At the time Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had given them three instructions to follow (participate in the pujas, use the child’s name while making offerings and giving to charity, and do not kill), and had told them that the boy would regain consciousness three months later. Afterward the disciple’s cousin and his wife had come to participate in a single puja, but because they had no faith, they had not attended again.

This situation had led her to begin participating in the Chod Pujas. Since her cousin and his wife were unwilling to attend, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had not been able to help them. At one point the disciple had been unable to keep herself from saying, “You once stated that this child has an affinity with you.” His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had replied, “There is indeed an affinity between me and this child; I have already gone to the hospital to bless him so that he won’t fall into the Three Evil Realms.” Right then and there she had thought to herself that she should go home and think of another way to persuade her cousin’s wife, but His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had immediately said, “Don’t go home and say anything rash. Just wait and see what happens.”

After this experience she had not dared to try to twist her cousin’s arm or that of his wife anymore. She had sensed that her constant previous efforts to get them to participate in the pujas had caused a negative reaction in her father, mother, and aunt. Luckily, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had told her not to say anything rash, so she had not caused them to give rise to a disrespectful attitude toward the Three Jewels. Her cousin’s wife had quit her job to take care of their son, and was continuously calling into his ear for him to wake up. After saying that every single religious and folk remedy had been useless, the boy’s mother had put him completely into the doctors’ hands. Still, from that moment on the disciple’s nephew had never regained consciousness until now, more than nine years later.

She had many nephews, but ever since this one was little she had cared for him the most. Thus, because he had been the one to fall ill, she had been extremely worried, wishing she could help him. In retrospect this nephew really had been her Bodhisattva; had it not been for him, she would never have had the opportunity to come to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center. Back then, after having participated in a few pujas, she had heard His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche say, “If you do not take refuge, then participating in the pujas is useless.” For this reason she had gone to the guru to implore to take refuge, and with great compassion Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had allowed it.

The second part to the tale she shared with everyone included an account of how His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had helped her. Originally she had never thought that participating in the pujas could be beneficial to her. She had always suffered from menstrual problems, and for nearly a decade her menstrual cycle had been abnormal. Typically she would have fewer than five periods over the course of a single year, and had frequently suffered from such menstrual symptoms as fever, headache, and so on. In the past she had visited both Western and traditional Chinese doctors; whether taking medicine or getting shots, however, nothing had worked. Ultrasound test results had revealed that one of her ovaries was relatively small. The question her mom would ask her the most was, “When did you have your period?” She had always been unable to answer. Not long after taking refuge, she had discovered to her surprise that her previously infrequent menstruations had begun to come every month, and this had continued all the way up until the present, more than eight years later. The abnormal menstrual cycle that had afflicted her for nearly ten years had been cured naturally without the aid of any medicine. After finding this out, her mom had begun to be more receptive to her Buddhist practice.

After she had taken refuge, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings had appeared in every aspect of her life, helping her to get past countless difficulties and lessening the hindrances to her Buddhist practice. One time her mom had asked the disciple’s female cousin to dissuade the disciple from eating vegetarian, but her cousin had responded by saying that going vegetarian was good, for ever since the disciple had done so her complexion had improved. Not giving up, her mom had tried to get her uncle and aunt to discourage her, but in the end they had both said that eating vegetarian was a very good thing and that they, too, had wanted to try it, but had simply never been able to do it completely. From that point on the disciple’s mother had stopped being so adamant about it, and over the past few years had been relatively accepting of the benefits of eating vegetarian.

One evening not long after taking refuge, while driving from Hsinchu back to Taoyuan, she had passed Jhongli and was about to get to the Taoyuan Interchange when she had suddenly felt extremely sleepy. Unable to bring herself to her senses, the car had swerved. A bit later, try as she might to pinch her thigh to keep herself alert, she had nevertheless fallen asleep, moments later waking in a fright to the spectacle of the grey guard rail on the side of the highway looming directly in front of her vehicle. Seeing that she was about to slam into it, she had immediately hauled the steering wheel around, sending the car at a ninety degree angle straight toward the median. As she was wrenching the steering wheel to the left, she had glimpsed a person standing on behind the guard rail. In that instant she had thought to herself, Huh? Who’s that? …only to realize that it was His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche himself. Her car had careened sideways directly into the median without colliding with a single other vehicle; as the car straightened out, a big truck had whizzed past just to her right. She had missed having a major accident by the tiniest fraction of a hair, and she knew that this little life of hers had been saved by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

It had happened again recently. Not long ago she had gone to the coffee shop, where she had been fortunate enough to bump into His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. On their way out, she and another Dharma brother had presented themselves before the guru to bow in gratitude, and she had seen His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche raise his head and bless them with his eyes. A few days later she had been driving back to Taoyuan from Taipei. It had been raining hard, and she’d kept feeling as though the car were very hot and loud, and it had seemed to be making a raucous sound every time it turned a bend. Less than a minute after she had exited the Interchange at Taoyuan, the car engine had suddenly stopped. There had not been enough time to park it properly, so she had simply gotten out while the car was still sticking out at an angle from the side of the road. After contacting a repair shop with which her family was familiar, the mechanic had arrived and told her, “Miss, you know what? It just so happens your car has broken down right in front of our shop!” She was grateful for His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings. Had she broken down even just a little bit sooner she would have been stranded in the rain in the middle of the night, and when the car engine had stopped she would certainly have gotten into an accident. As it happened, the guru had actually landed her car right in front of a repair shop. She praised His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for being so truly remarkable!

For the third part of her story she shared with everyone an account of how His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had helped her family members. Two years previously, her dad had gone to a major hospital complaining of a ringing in his ears as well as swelling and discomfort in his nasal passage. After examining a tissue biopsy, the doctors there had determined that he was suffering from nasopharyngeal carcinoma. In his urgency he had wanted to have surgery and undergo radiotherapy and chemotherapy, and had made plans to begin immediately. She had only learned that her dad had nasopharyngeal carcinoma the same day he was to begin his chemotherapy. After listening to the recommendation of a Dharma brother who worked as a nurse, the disciple’s family had advised her dad to first go to another hospital for a second examination, and to wait and see if the diagnosis was confirmed there. As a result, her dad had held off for a few days.

When it had come time for him to see the doctor, she and her younger sister had gone with him. The appointment had lasted a little more than ten minutes, during which time the doctor had taken another biopsy. After examining it, the doctor had confirmed that her father did indeed have nasopharyngeal carcinoma. Only afterward, while standing there in the diagnosis and treatment room, had she understood just how boundless His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s benevolence had been. For several weeks the guru had been mentioning words that were often spoken by doctors to cancer patients, and had allowed several doctors including Dharma Brother Hsieh, Dharma Brother Tsai, and Dharma Brother Wang to explain recovery rates, reversion rates, and the criteria for testing cancer cells with language that everyday people could understand. In the diagnosis and treatment room she had listened closely as the doctor had cracked on, listing a bunch of percentages and afterward providing examples using the condition of an elderly patient nearby. He had given his professional analysis in a reasonable, emotionally moving, and extremely skillful manner.

Only then had she known how meticulously compassionate His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had been. If she had not already heard all of this before during the pujas, she absolutely would not have been able to hold her own in the conversation, and she could not have asked the doctors any clarifying questions at all. The doctor had strongly recommended that her father be admitted to hospital immediately for examination, have a catheter inserted, and undergo chemotherapy. After urging her dad to at least go home and talk it over with her mom, they had all left the hospital. On the way home her dad had said that just before, while being examined under the microscope in another diagnosis and treatment room, he had been lying face-up in the reclining chair when, after locating his tumors, the doctor had called over another, younger doctor and said, “Look, there’s evidence of pathology.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had received believers that Saturday, during which time the guru had suddenly instructed her to find a job for a believer. She had thanked His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for his blessings which had allowed her the virtuous causal condition to accumulate good fortune. That evening, still wondering how she would persuade her dad, she had asked what he and her mom had decided. To her surprise he had said that their decision was for him not to be hospitalized, because as soon as he was admitted there he would begin to undergo chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Furthermore, not willing to submit to the invasive treatments of Western medicine, he had decided to see a traditional Chinese doctor instead. He had even said that his illness was karmic in nature.

Her paternal grandmother and grandfather and her maternal grandmother had all passed away in succession before the disciple had been fortunate enough to take refuge in His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. All of them had had cancer, undergone surgery and chemotherapy, and even grown maggots at the sites of their tracheostomies. In the end, they had all died suffering. After seeing the pain the disciple’s paternal grandfather had suffered during chemotherapy, her paternal grandmother had decided not to undergo that treatment. However, during the final stages of her cancer she had suffered greatly, and had passed away less than a year after her husband had died.

She was grateful for His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious Dharma teachings. After finding out that her father had nasopharyngeal carcinoma she had felt abnormally calm, knowing that this was an opportunity for her dad to repay his karmic debts with his body. She had also felt grateful, because he had not needed to experience all those painful sorts of invasive medical treatment. After deciding to see a traditional Chinese doctor, her dad had participated in the Grand Memorial Puja for Lord Jigten Sumgön presided over by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and received His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s incredible blessings. After the Grand Puja, her dad’s tinnitus and the swelling of his nasal passage had gone away. Thus, he was then able to live, work, and play like a normal person. Without the help of the Dharma their family would have been turned completely upside-down, not to mention bankrupted by the enormous costs of surgery, chemotherapy, and so on. She was extremely grateful to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

For more than two years her dad had continued to be nursed back to health by traditional Chinese medicine. Although his hearing was beginning to go and lumps had appeared in his cervical lymph nodes, he was not in any pain, nor had he experienced any of the suffering typical of cancer patients. The relative of a friend of hers had also succumbed to nasopharyngeal carcinoma, but only a very short time had passed—a mere year—from the onset of the disease to the time the relative had died. Her friend’s relative had undergone radiotherapy and chemotherapy, but in the end had passed away suffering. She knew that her dad was still repaying his debts, and that this was as it should be. Although her dad had only participated in the annual Grand Puja, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had nevertheless already bestowed auspicious help upon him in accordance with her dad’s causes and conditions. As for all of the things her parents had done to harm sentient beings, all she could do was to repent and then repent some more.

This past Chinese New Year her dad had traveled with her to Malaysia. Although he had eaten completely vegetarian during the trip, such was not normally his habit. Many of the tour group participants were family members of Dharma brothers, and they, too, had not yet gone vegetarian. As it turned out the tour guide had told them that he had not originally been slated to be their guide, but had been assigned to their group due to some last minute changes. Thirteen years previously this tour guide had had oral cancer. After having surgery he had regretted his decision, so ever since that moment he had eaten purely vegetarian. The disciple had often urged her father to go vegetarian, but he still had not been able to make a firm resolution to do so. However, after the tour guide had told everyone about his cancer and about how he had decided to go vegetarian, and had urged everyone to follow suit, she had discovered that her dad had had a bit of a change of heart.

She knew that even though they had been participating in a tour group, it had been His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious arrangements that had allowed their family members the opportunity to form an affinity with a Bodhisattva. She was extremely grateful to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. During the trip the Dharma brothers in the tour group had taken good care of her dad and had been very considerate of him. They had also shared with him many stories of how His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had auspiciously helped sentient beings. After returning to Taiwan, even her younger sister, who had not gone to Malaysia with them, had expressed her approval of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center. The disciple knew that all of this had been thanks to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings.

The Rinpoche had gone to great lengths to help her overcome hardship after hardship. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had never given up on her even during her weakest and most desperate hour, and for this she was grateful. She was even more thankful to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having been willing to teach such a substandard disciple as herself. She knew that she had not believed in cause and effect, had committed an extremely large amount of wrongdoings, had an arrogant personality, and had countless shortcomings. When she opened up the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas she could see that she had not succeeded in following a single line of it, and for this she repented. Finally, she implored for the blessings of His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas so that she could eliminate all her hindrances and become more resolute in her Buddhist practice. She also prayed that His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would have good health, that his Dharma activities would prosper, and that the Drikung Kagyu Lineage would flourish forever.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne to preside in person over the performance of three Dharma methods—the Amitabha, the Avalokiteshvara, and the Padmasambhava—as well as to bestow precious Dharma teachings upon all of the attendees.

“Today I will be performing a trio of Dharma methods that include the Amitabha, the Avalokiteshvara, and the Padmasambhava. You all would have heard of the Amitabha from Exoteric Buddhism, in which the way to practice it involves reciting the Amitabha Sutra, the Amitayurdhyana Sutra, and so on from the Five Classics of the Pure Land as well as chanting the Buddha’s name. In Vajrayana Buddhism, these are performed by a meritorious guru. ‘Meritorious’ means in possession of merits; it does not refer to morality, because the definition of moral character differs from place to place according to each location’s folklore and historical background. In the Dharma texts it is written that a performance of the essential Dharma rituals of the Amitabha by a meritorious guru can bring ‘benefits, joy, and radiance,’ and this refers to a bright illumination that will come to us in the future once we have broken away from reincarnation. If we continue to exist in the suffering sea of reincarnation, our future will be a swath of darkness. ‘Benefits’ here refers to the great benefits we can obtain from being liberated from life and death; ‘joy’ here refers not to some worldly happiness that we can feel by way of our afflictions, but rather to a contentment that is eternal and unchanging.

“The sort of happiness that we feel through our afflictions can change; it is impermanent, because it comes to us by way of our desires. All of what we believe to be satisfying happiness is produced by our eyes, ears, noses, tongues, bodies, and thoughts. This sort of happiness is temporary, however, and is the origin of suffering. For example, eating a certain type of food that you love might make you feel very happy, but your continuous consumption of it is bound to have dire consequences for your health and digestive system. The ‘joy’ spoken of in Buddhism is eternal in that it neither arises nor ceases; only such happiness without birth or death is eternal. ‘Ordinary beings’ does not only refer to people on Earth or elsewhere in the universe; it also includes all beings existing anywhere in the suffering sea of reincarnation, even those that were born into the Heavenly Realms. For anyone still in reincarnation, happiness is the beginning of suffering and afflictions—whether that being has attained the state of the Four Dhyanas and Eight Concentrations, including the highest state of Formlessness or the sphere of neither-perception-nor-non-perception.

“There is not enough time in a single lifespan to leave the suffering of reincarnation forever. It would be impossible to break away from reincarnation in this lifetime via meditation alone. If you’ve read the biographies of a lot of past practitioners, including many from China, you will have seen frequent mention that they had practiced Buddhism in their previous lifetimes before returning to this one. Even if we have the good fortune to receive Vajrayana practice in this lifetime, and continue to practice it for the rest of our days, then it will still take a minimum of seventeen lifetimes before we can attain Buddhahood. Thus, you should not think that you have great good fortune in this life and show off your Dharma texts to others. You must not speak of the uncommon Dharma to others; this sort of thing is mentioned in Buddhism. That is not to say that the Dharma is some sort of secret; rather, if you listen to the Dharma or repeat it to others without first receiving an oral transmission of it and going through all of the proper rituals, then you will have violated the precept of refraining from making false speech.

“In the Ratnakuta Sutra it is written—and I have spoken of this on multiple occasions, until I was blue in the face—that any practitioner wishing to ascend the Dharma throne and speak the Dharma must first meet twenty conditions. If you have not yet met them, you’d better just stay well-behaved and keep on cultivating yourselves. You have to be liberated from life and death before you can liberate other sentient beings. If you cannot even solve the great problem of life and death for yourselves, then what right do you have to constantly complain of other people bullying you? Shakyamuni Buddha introduced Amitabha Buddha to everyone. Of all the Buddhas, Amitabha Buddha is relatively suited to these heavily afflicted sentient beings of the Saha World. From an Exoteric Buddhism point of view simply chanting the Buddha’s name, prostrating to the Buddha, reciting sutras, and so on is not enough to guarantee that you will be reborn in the Pure Land. Many people think chanting the Rebirth Mantra, covering the deceased with a Rebirth quilt, and burning folded paper lotus flowers is enough to help the deceased to be reborn in the Pure Land. However, none of this is mentioned in the sutras; if it were, I would have learned of it long ago.

“Nowadays people have invented these so-called ‘sands of bright golden light,’ and they say that if they are scattered atop the body of the deceased they can prevent him or her from falling into the Three Evil Realms. I have no idea where they got this idea. I’ve learned Buddhism from His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang for more than twenty years, but not once have I ever heard mention of this sort of sand. All I’ve heard is that sands in sand mandalas are all very good for sentient beings, but that kind of sand isn’t ‘of bright golden light.’

“The point of performing the Amitabha today is to help you all to accumulate good fortune, causes, and conditions, and by way of a meritorious guru, to respectfully implore for Amitabha Buddha to come to the mandala and accept all of the offerings, vows, and supplications made by sentient beings so that you can be reborn in the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss in the next lifetime. Being reborn in the Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss is not as easy as you might imagine; simply reciting the Buddha’s name isn’t enough to guarantee that you will go there. In the Amitabha Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha stated very clearly that in this evil time of the Five Turbidities, this sutra is a very difficult Dharma to believe in. Of the Five Turbidities, the View Turbidity is the easiest for us to fall victim to. It is something that muddies our understanding, and an example of it is when we hold onto our own views while practicing Buddhism.

“Our views come from our life experiences, academic learning, and feelings; they are not from the true Dharma spoken by the Buddha. The true Dharma teaches us to become liberated from life and death. If we do not have a great root capacity with which to be liberated in this lifetime, then we must vow to be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land. Amitabha Buddha stated very clearly that anyone reborn in the Pure Land possesses the three kinds of non-regression, the first of which is to no longer be reincarnated. Not being reincarnated implies practicing there with diligence until one attains Buddhahood; only then can one fulfil the vow of returning to this world to liberate any sentient beings. If you have not yet become a Bodhisattva or attained Buddhahood, then any vow you make will be nothing but empty words. Don’t compare yourselves to the many people in the past that made vows, built great temples, and took on large numbers of disciples. It was simply their good fortune to do so; many people owed these practitioners from their past lives, which is why they came to be their disciples in this lifetime. It’s like me in my current lifetime—only I don’t know whether it is I who owe you or you who owe me.

“You all need to gain a clear understanding of how to go to the Pure Land. The phrase, ‘must not lack in good fortune, causes, or conditions,’ implies that you must rely on the guru to constantly help you to accumulate these things. This process absolutely cannot be completed within just a day or two, nor is chanting the Buddha’s name day and night sufficient. Rather, you must continuously accumulate them throughout your entire lifetime without ever stopping. The number of pujas held in the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center is definitely more than any other places; as long as I am in Taiwan, a puja is held here every Sunday. Allowing you to attend pujas is not for my own benefit; I do it to help you all to keep accumulating good fortune, causes, and conditions. For this reason, since 1997 not a single disciple of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center has suffered an accidental death; this is because of their participation in the pujas. By accidental death I mean dying from a car accident or dying from being misdiagnosed, etc.

“Having such good fortune, causes, and conditions is the result of participating in the pujas on a continual basis. Some people think that participating in the pujas is the same as attending penitential rites. Strictly speaking, penitential rites are part of a puja, but what else do you have to do once they are completed?” Right then and there Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed an ordained disciple who had performed penitential rites while practicing Exoteric Buddhism to answer. The monastic replied, “After attending penitential rites we must continue to repent, practice with diligence, and amend our ways.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked, “After attending the penitential rites, everyone repeats same slogans; but who is it that leads you all in actually doing these things?” The monastic answered, “The guru.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued. “Without a guru to guide you, all you’re doing is shouting catchphrases, because you don’t know how to reliably practice the next step. If you don’t know how, then you will just be practicing blindly. This regularly happens to people who have taken refuge; on the contrary, those who haven’t tend to have fewer opportunities to do the wrong thing as a result of their ignorance. People often become haughty and arrogant because they consider themselves to have a background in Buddhist practice, so they look down on others or even start thinking they have attained fruition. Such people then begin to explain the Dharma to others—and this is an example of speaking falsely. In the Tibetan system things are stricter; to speak the Dharma one must at least have achieved the status of a Khenpo. In the Gelug Order this rank is called a Geshe, and it signifies that those practitioners have learned and been verified; they would not speak the Dharma outside of the scope of Buddhism. Only by adhering to these rules can one speak the Dharma; you should not think you know it just because you have heard it, for this would be completely incorrect. All of you must pay close attention to what is written in the sutras.

“Today I will first perform the Amitabha and then the Dharma method of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. I’m afraid you will be unable to go to the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss after you pass from this life; however, because Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara will reign over it in the future, you could still have the opportunity to go there one day. And why would I add the Padmasambhava? Tibetan Buddhism—and especially Tantra—was brought to Tibet by Padmasambhava. In the sutras it is written that Padmasambhava, an emanation of Shakyamuni Buddha,  would be born in a lotus blossom in the future and become a vajra guru who would help sentient beings. If Padmasambhava had not gone to Tibet, Tantra would not exist today. For this reason the Padmasambhava Dharma method is practiced in all of the four major orders. Apart from during the Tang Dynasty when Exoteric Buddhism and Zen Buddhism were spread to Tibet, Tibetan Buddhism originated when Padmasambhava and the Venerable Atisa introduced Buddhism to Tibet at approximately the same time.

“People often say, ‘If Tantra is so great, then why is Tibet still not very advanced?’ In the past, life in Tibet was not very convenient; this is the reason practitioners were able to focus and practice. In Taiwan everything is very convenient; all believers have to do is make a phone call and their Dharma master will come running. As such, where do practitioners find the time to perform retreats and advance their practice? In the Age of Degenerate Dharma, even if you have made a firm resolution to practice, there are still far too many afflictions to contend with. The Vajrayana method is relatively fast and direct, so of course you won’t be treated with much politeness; I wouldn’t spend all day telling you a bunch of things you like to hear, or trying to make you feel contended.

“The Vajrayana vehicle is very fast. If you can amend yourselves in this lifetime, then you should; if you can’t, then you still can in the next lifetime. This process happens much faster than it would if we were to just keep talking slowly about it. Therefore, a Vajrayana guru absolutely would not compromise with you with regard to the Dharma. Why not? If the guru wishes to help sentient beings leave the suffering sea of reincarnation behind, then there is absolutely no room at all to allow you to continue to commit evil. Not even a tiny bit of room would be spared for you, because even committing the smallest of evil acts would cause you to reincarnate. Furthermore, a Vajrayana guru will also help you to resolve things which make you happy, because you will also continue to reincarnate as long as you are still attached to any worldly happiness.

“When I first started practicing Buddhism, it was a good friend of mine who introduced me to it. First he got me into practicing Exoteric Buddhism, and after that I was introduced to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. This gentleman had met the throne holders of all of the four major orders, was familiar with all of the great monks who were celebrated throughout Taiwan, and had met all the famous great Rinpoches of the four major orders. Five years before he passed away, my friend told me that he had received more than seven hundred empowerments—even more than I have received myself. You would think that this person should have had a large amount of good fortune; after all, he was in possession of many Dharma texts and sutras, and had participated in many pujas—in fact, his occupation was to participate in pujas every day. It would stand to reason, therefore, that he should have had a lot of merits. In addition, his family members were all vegetarian as well.

“As it turned out one time I bumped into him, and as we were chatting he suddenly said to me, ‘I plan on coming back to have more fun in the next life. I’ve done a lot in this one, so it’ll definitely be fun to come back again.’ As I listened I knew that it was all over for him. Because he had said these words, made this vow, he had caused all of the merits he had cultivated throughout his entire life to be transformed into good fortune. As such, it would be impossible in this lifetime for him to eliminate the karma he had accumulated over his past lives. As he was leaving Taiwan for the last time, I advised him not to go. I told him that if he absolutely must leave, then he should at least be wary of the climate and careful not to catch a chill. He did not listen, however, and in the end he suffered a stroke. At the time, he was younger than I. This was a few years ago; later, I had him brought back here in a private plane. After lying on a hospital bed for a few months, he passed away.

“Because he had introduced me to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, and because the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang just happened to be in Taiwan while my friend was on his deathbed, I respectfully invited His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang to the hospital to bestow blessings upon him. This was because neither the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang nor I wanted to be indebted to any sentient beings. The moral of this story is that if you still have any attachments at all to this life—such as a monastic who still wishes to see her family members—then you are certain to be reincarnated; using a word from English, your reincarnation will be ‘guaranteed.’ My purpose in bringing this up is not to criticize; I speak of this man because he was my friend. I wouldn’t dare, however, to talk about other people’s affairs.

“Logically speaking, his having introduced me to Buddhism as well as His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang comprised an enormous merit. I wouldn’t presume to say whether or not I have accomplished very much at this point, but at the very least I have indeed helped many people; therefore, my friend also had a share in my merits. However, because he started thinking that he had done a lot in his life, and because he wanted to come back and enjoy another lifetime, everything he had accumulated was turned into good fortune, and good fortune cannot transform our karma. I have spoken on this point many times.

“In saying that you should make a firm resolution to practice Buddhism I do not mean that you should die for it; nor do I mean that while practicing you need to give up everything. All I mean is that you have to make a resolution. The purpose of practicing Buddhism is to leave the world of reincarnation; if you practice without this as your goal, then for you the Dharma will bring nothing more than good fortune of the Human and Heavenly Realms. This can only be used in the next lifetime; it absolutely cannot be used in this one. Many people attend penitential rites and spend a lot of money, but they still cannot improve their situations.”

Just then a disciple yawned. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche immediately instructed her to stand while he continued to bestow teachings. “Which does she think is quicker, her ability to escape detection or my eyes? She really is fast at hiding; no sooner did she yawn than she dodged behind someone’s back. If she’s that tired, she might as well go home.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed the disciple to leave the Buddhist Center and then continued. “You all didn’t know where she was because she was sitting in one of the middle rows. She might be one of my disciples, but I made her leave all the same. While participating in a puja, if you are not focused and you continue to dwell on your own thoughts, then you are very liable to yawn. None of you believes that an old man like me could have such sharp eyes. Just now she moved very quickly; as soon as she yawned she dodged behind someone’s back. My eyes were quicker, though, because I’ve practiced kungfu ever since I was little, so my eyes have faster reflexes than most.

“You must not attempt to cultivate good fortune. That is not to say that good fortune is bad; rather, it genuinely cannot help you to resolve the karma you have accumulated over the course of your past lives. To put it a bit more clearly, the monastics present have definitely not done as much as that friend of mine, yet even he was unable to change the karma which ultimately caused him to suffer a stroke. Why would he have a stroke? He had begun eating vegetarian when he was in his twenties; reasonably speaking, therefore, how could he possibly have suffered a stroke? It was because his father had accumulated very heavy karma from killing by going hunting every day. My friend merely had good fortune, so he was unable to transform the karma that had been brought to him by his ancestors. In addition, he had made his living by way of fortune-telling. As the ancient saying goes, a fortuneteller is destined to be crippled, lonely, poor, and empty-handed—meaning that a fortuneteller is bound to end up with nothing. Originally he could have gotten by just by practicing Buddhism, but he changed his way of thinking.

“Before each performance of the Dharma everyone recites, ‘May all sentient beings attain Buddhahood.’ This includes us ourselves, and is a vow we make during every puja. For you these are merely words coming out of your mouths, but actually they are more than that. When a guru leads you in the recitation, this vow is brought into existence in the void. However, the minute your thoughts change, everything you have done in this lifetime turns to good fortune which can only be used in the next life. Not only will you not be able to change your karma, but you won’t even have a chance to be reborn in the Pure Land. Why not? It is because you will only have good fortune, and no merits; as such, you will not have the prerequisite causal condition. Why do we want to go to Amitabha’s Pure Land? It is because we do not wish to reincarnate. This causal condition originates within ourselves. The guru, Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas can only help you to unlock this condition; they cannot extend it for you, because that depends on your decision. If you make the decision to do so, then once They help you to unlock the condition you will be able to keep it going; if you decide not to, then this condition will stop.

“Today’s teachings could be considered the key to practicing Buddhism. If your thoughts are not correct, then any Dharma performed by the guru will be useless no matter how powerful it might be—and none of it would have anything to do with you. If you can listen, then you can change, and eventually you can transform your karma; if you are unable to listen, then attending the pujas will be the same for you as it has been in the past: You will still only be able to obtain good fortune, and that cannot be used until the next lifetime. It’s not that participating in the puja without being able to listen doesn’t have its benefits; rather, it’s that you will get something different out of it than what is written in the sutras. In the sutras there is mention of the future Buddha and attaining Buddhahood very quickly. The most important thing, however, is your mindset, and whether or not you have made a firm resolution. Don’t dwell on the fact that you have a lot going on; all of these affairs are your conditions—situations in which you are in debt to other people or vice versa. Don’t think that having made your decision means you will die very soon, either. I made my decision long ago, but am still alive, so stop talking nonsense.

“Other people would be very frustrated with you. I had a mother and children to take care of, as well as such a massive career; even so, I was able to make my decision early on. So what’s your excuse? The most you have to juggle is a wife or a husband and maybe a child or two. There are so many things, I do not worry about them; I live according to my causal conditions. If it’s time for the New Year, then let’s have the New Year; for me this simply means that another year has come and gone. These days I feel more and more that passing the New Year is just something people have to do.

“Determination is the most important foundation of practicing Buddhism, no matter who you are. Take the husband of one of my disciples, for example: Recently I told him to stop coming, because he wouldn’t stop eating meat. As such, he has no determination and still doubts. Last year he went through a really difficult time. I helped him through his problems, and now they are resolved, so he doesn’t need to keep coming here. The fact that he continues to eat meat means he is joking with me. If I were to allow him to eat meat, then how could I face all of you, whom I’ve expressly prohibited from doing so? Therefore, I very politely telephoned him and told him that he could stop attending the Buddhist Center. The Dharma is fair; I would never give anyone special treatment simply because he or she was some sort of VIP.

“There was even a man who once offered me three hundred ping (one thousand square meters) of office space and another three hundred ping (one thousand square meters) of real estate for the Buddhist Center. The offer was very tempting, but his only request was that I allow him to eat meat. I completely refused his request. When he sent flowers to my company, I sent them all back. You might think my actions were unreasonable, and that I should have given him a chance. Why should I have? He came here in an attempt to entice me. Had I distorted the Dharma for the purpose of fame and gain, then I would not have deserved to be called human. Who could resist this sort of enticement? The location he proposed was on Dunhua South Road—not in some other neighborhood, but on Dunhua South Road. Do you know how much six hundred ping (two thousand square meters) of real estate on Dunhua South Road goes for these days? Take a moment and do the math.

“Other people would have accepted the offering. They would have thought that they should go ahead and take it so that he could have some good fortune; once he had that, he would naturally be able to listen, and then would go vegetarian. This is utter nonsense. If I had done this, then I would have been an accomplice to his threatening and bullying of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Can you do anything you want as long as you have lots of money? It does not say so in the sutras. So, since he did not have the causal condition, I ignored him. In the sutras it is written that if you insist on helping someone who does not possess the necessary causes and conditions, then all you are doing is hurting that person, as well as many other people besides. Seeing him being allowed to eat meat, others would wonder why they shouldn’t be allowed to as well. They would wonder if his wealth and power gave him permission to do as he liked, and would assume that they were not allowed to eat meat because they were poor.

“Yesterday, therefore, when I called that disciple’s husband, I said, ‘Please don’t come here anymore.’ I said it in a relatively polite manner, because he’s a bit of a bigwig. That is not to say that if you have a lower social status I won’t speak politely to you; that’s not what I mean. Thus, being a guru and a Rinpoche really is a hard job. If I were to go with the flow, then I really could live the high life; I could just smile and say, ‘Come, come! Bodhisattva!’ Everything would be so great if I could do that; a scant few boxes would not be enough to contain all the money I’d make. As a sixty-seven year old person, I genuinely cannot do that. Maybe I made some sort of vow in a former lifetime. Perhaps it was to never accept dirty bribes!

“The purpose of the Dharmas being performed today is to help you all to form a closer affinity with Amitabha Buddha, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, and Padmasambhava. It is also to allow you, as a result of your participation in this puja, to be able to lessen and even eliminate the hindrances to your future practice. You don’t need to worry about worldly affairs; listen to my advice, because worldly affairs arise and cease according to their causal conditions. No matter how much you might be suffering right now, one day it will all go away. If we were to use Buddhism to deal with the mundane, then we would be looking down on the Dharma and Shakyamuni Buddha too much. If you want to improve your worldly circumstances, it’s quite simple; just go and find another religion that will help and recite for you every day. I would never deceive you; such things truly would be useful, so long as you had a great deal of sincerity in your hearts. However, this would only be temporary; in time, problems would come your way again.

“The distinguishing feature of the Dharma is that it can help you to thoroughly resolve the karmic effects resulting from all of the evil and virtuous acts you have accumulated throughout your past lives. Thus, in the future you will not need to suffer any more. If you have come to implore the Dharma for purely mundane matters, then you are being disrespectful to the Dharma. Mundane affairs come and go on a daily basis. If you implore the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to help you strike it rich, you are bound to be disappointed. If you have no fortune, then even the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas cannot move money into your pockets. Today you have all come to participate in the puja. Especially because it is the first month of the lunar New Year, you really need to have a clear understanding of what sort of mindset you have. Do not fear this decision; the only reason behind what little achievement I’ve attained up to now is that I made that decision.

“Your lives are good, unlike mine. Ever since I experienced my father’s death when I was young, it has become clear to me that without the help of a meritorious guru, we are all very pitiful and completely powerless over our own deaths. No matter how much money you might possess, once you stop breathing it won’t belong to you anymore. No matter how many family members you have, and no matter how much they love you and care for you, they will no longer be yours after you die. That you are able to listen to the Dharma and practice Buddhism in this lifetime is the result of the good fortune you accumulated in your past lives; if you pass this opportunity up, then there really is no telling when another one might come your way. I really don’t speak the Dharma for my own benefit; if I was even willing to forego a two thousand square meter building, then would I really care about these trivial offerings of yours?

“Do the math: How much do you think six hundred ping (two thousand square meters) of building space on Dunhua South Road is worth? One ping there costs NT$1,500,000, so altogether that would be NT$900 million! If I had that much money, would my life be as hard as it is today? Would I preside over a puja each week and a Chod every month just to receive your NT$100 or 200 offerings? Don’t misunderstand my purpose in presiding over the pujas. My intention is to transmit all that I have learned in this lifetime. I can’t help it if I can’t transmit it, because if I do not encounter the right people, then I can’t pass on what I have learned.

“My purpose in performing these Dharmas today really is to help you all to accumulate fortune, causes, and conditions. You should cherish this opportunity; this is what is meant by cherishing your good fortune and causal conditions. Cherishing your good fortune does not mean you should keep eating something even after it’s gone bad, nor does cherishing your causal conditions mean that you should avoid offending people. Good fortune and causal conditions both exist in the Dharma Realm; mundane affairs come and go. Sometimes you don’t want to offend someone, but then that person intentionally offends you; this sort of situation does arise, and has to do with your karmic creditors of past lives. Forget it; it’s water under the bridge now. The important thing is that you have all come to participate in the puja, so you first must cast aside your desires and have a clear understanding of why the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have taken so much trouble for you. It is not to impress people, but rather to help us to become liberated from life and death.

“In the Ratnakuta Sutra Shakyamuni Buddha introduced the names of many Buddhas, but these Buddhas do not demand that humans make any offerings to them. Rather, they constantly benefit sentient beings in each of Their Buddha lands as well as in the void. Only the Buddhas who have a relatively strong affinity with Earth will appear here. In addition to the thousand Buddha names contained in Emperor Liang’s Repentance, there are even more mentioned in the Ratnakuta Sutra. Shakyamuni Buddha never said that we should worship certain Buddhas over others; rather, Shakyamuni Buddha wanted us to know how many Buddhas there are in the universe. This is because after all this time there have certainly been many sentient beings who have attained Buddhahood, and who continue to benefit all sentient beings who have not yet been liberated from reincarnation.

“As is written in the Lotus Sutra, we live in a burning house but do not know that we are in danger. What is this ‘burning house?’ It is the world of reincarnation. Right now we reside in a burning house, yet in our ignorance we continue to play happily, simply thinking how good it will be when everyone comes home to eat a big reunion dinner on New Year’s Day. In the Lotus Sutra Shakyamuni Buddha gave an example using a pair of carts. Both of them are piled high with toys; these are your desires. For example, if you yearn for wealth, then the guru will perform the Jambhala for you; if you wish to be healthy, then the guru will perform the Amitayus for you. For the Buddha, the Dharmas are nothing more than tools. Once we attain Buddhahood, then these tools will no longer be necessary; we will just use them to benefit sentient beings. To put it more simply, these skill sets I have learned thus far are not for my own benefit; they are just like the toys mentioned in the Lotus Sutra whose purpose is to make sentient beings happy. Only if the sentient beings board the carts with happiness can they then be taken away. The sentient beings think they are playing with toys, but this is not actually the case.

“In the Amitabha Sutra and the Amitayurdhyana Sutra it is mentioned that in Amitabha’s Pure Land, anything you wish to eat will be provided. These are all your desires; it is not that the Buddha wants to give you certain things to eat. The Buddha knows the desires of sentient beings, so allows you to feel that you can eat certain things.” Humorously, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, “Thus, if you don’t want to have to do the dishes, then hurry up and go to Amitabha’s Pure Land, because after every meal your bowls and chopsticks will go udnerground, only to reappear when you next are hungry. People who like gold should hurry up and go there, too, because that’s what the bowls and chopsticks there are made of. People who are fond of riches definitely should vow to be reborn in the Pure Land, because it is full of all sorts of treasures. This is not the Buddha’s way of tricking you into going there; rather, these treasures will naturally appear for people with enough good fortune, and they won’t even have to go looking for it or do anything special to get it. Having your world paved with gold, so to speak, has to do with your individual good fortune, causes, and conditions.

“I’ve been speaking long enough; now I’ll begin performing the Dharma. From what I’ve said you all should have gathered by now that the purpose of Buddhism is not to seek protection; that’s just a tool, or a toy. Given that you hope to attain enlightenment in this lifetime, your determination is extremely important.”

Next His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the Amitabha. First, the monastics offered the mandala and implored the Dharma from the guru on behalf of all the attendees. After performing the Dharma for a while Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, “Just now we conducted the preliminary practice, which included a vow and a supplication to Amitabha Buddha to be seated atop the mandala to receive our offerings.” After leading all of the attendees in a chanting of the Amitabha Mantra for a long time, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went on to guide them through a brief meditation and reminded everyone to sit up straight. While the Tsok Ritual was conducted, each of the attendees was given a food offering that had been blessed by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, as well as the auspicious causal condition of sharing a meal with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas during the puja.

After performing the Amitabha, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to bestow teachings.

“Just now we performed the preliminary practice and the main practice, and made an offering to Amitabha Buddha. I also led you all in a meditation practice, and then the Embracing Ritual so that the Buddha’s statue would be immersed with Amitabha’s blessings. Finally, we will repent and recite an auspicious prayer. Only in this way can the Dharma be considered complete. Many people think that reciting the sutra by themselves is enough. It’s not that reciting the sutra is bad; on the contrary, it is very good. However, only a person who has cultivated to the point of having a One Mind Undisturbed can perform it to such perfect completion.

“Next I will perform a simplified Ritual of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. While I was practicing Exoteric Buddhism I, too, chanted the Great Compassion Mantra, the Rebirth Mantra, and the Ten Short Mantras; the only one I did not learn was the Shurangama Mantra. I used to think that enlightenment could be attained just by chanting mantras enough times. Although this can indeed solve various minor issues, it absolutely cannot help us with the great problem of life and death. It was only after I began to practice Vajrayana Buddhism that I learned why chanting mantras by itself is not enough for us to be liberated from life and death and to help sentient beings. Here I’ll explain it in simple terms. You all think that because the Great Six-Syllable Mantra only has six syllables, it must be very simple—correct? Many people have tried to explain these six syllables, but in the Tripitaka Tantra it is written that a small kalpa would not be enough time to explain them, even if you possessed the Buddha’s wisdom. Therefore, there is no need to use the views of ordinary people to try to explain any mantra, because their meanings are very profound. As for the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, it contains all of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s wisdom, merits, vows, and compassion accumulated through many lifetimes of cultivation along the Bodhi Path, all the way up until attaining Buddhahood and returning to this world to fulfil those vows—all of this, condensed down to just six syllables.

“As you all know, according to Exoteric Buddhism it takes three great Asana-khyeyas for an ordinary person to attain Buddhahood. Even if you were to practice Tantra, it would still take you at least seventeen lifetimes. This is a very long time. Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara was able to accomplish countless things in that amount of time, but no one without the Buddha’s wisdom knows for sure how many. Thus, if we were to only use the words ‘lotus,’ ‘treasure,’ and so on to interpret the meaning of the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, the resulting translation would be far too superficial. Whenever chanting any mantra, as long as your intention is to become liberated from life and death so that later you can help other sentient beings to do the same, you are doing enough. You absolutely must not think that you have to know what the words of a mantra actually mean in order for your chanting to be effective.

“You must all understand that you are not Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, so you should not believe people who say that you are emanations of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Just think for a moment—have you cultivated even one iota of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s great compassion? Only if you had could you be considered to be one of the Bodhisattva’s emanations. Given that the mantras contain the merits and vows of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, when we chant them, the first thing we must do is to constantly remind ourselves to learn from the yidam, and this takes a very long time. Secondly, we must never stop imploring the yidam to bestow blessings upon us. Thirdly, our aspirations and actions must remain in accordance with those of the yidam. Herein lies the function of a mantra. It is absolutely not true that if you chant mantras enough times your husband will give you more money, or that doing so will cause his mistress to go away. Such would not happen; if it had this effect, it would be witchcraft.

“Mantras are not used to curse people. Rather, the purpose of chanting them is to help yourself and other sentient beings to become liberated from life and death. Why are they called ‘mantras?’ It is because no word can be used to translate it. In the past, they were known as ‘mantras’ in Taoism, so this was how they came to be written. Actually, mantras are amalgamations of all of the yidam’s merits, simplified so that everyone can chant them and understand their meaning. Which is faster—reciting the Universal Gate Sutra or chanting six syllables? The latter, of course. Furthermore, chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra is the equivalent of reciting the Universal Gate Sutra many times. This is yet another method by which the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas compassionately help us.

“Learning mantras is not as simple as knowing how to chant them just from having heard them before. In the Dharma text it is written very clearly that the first thing one must do is to ‘submit oneself before the guru;’ that is, to take refuge in a guru. Until one has done so, chanting mantras will be useless. That is not to say that the pursuit would not be worthwhile at all; rather, it would do nothing to help you become liberated from life and death. When you practice this mantra, you must have a guru to bestow empowerment upon you, give you oral transmission and introduction of the yidam, as well as teach you the visualization. Furthermore, after receiving the guru’s teachings, you must integrate the generation and completion stages of practices while chanting in order to master the mantra. Elsewise, you will be chanting it from a mandala filled with delusion, confusion, and the Five Poisons. The Five Poisons are greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt. As I often tell you, while chanting a mantra you should not implore for your husbands to be nice to you or for your children to do well in school; this is greed. If you are greedy, then of course you will have nothing to do with becoming liberated from life and death.

“A lot of people don’t understand. Everyone says how wonderful the Great Compassion Mantra is, but what actually makes it so good? If it is to improve your worldly affairs, then let me reiterate: There is no need for such trouble. In the past, back when I practiced Taoism, I learned many mantras. I could easily teach you one that would make your husband come home. There are many such mantras, but Buddhism is not about these things. If you do not learn it by integrating the two practices of generation and completion stages and other rituals, then you are certain to use a mandala—and this refers to “you”—that is filled with delusions, confusion, and the Five Poisons. As such, while chanting mantras you will merely be mouthing the words, and see no effect whatsoever.

“My teachings today constitute a very severe blow to the monastics, because back when they were practicing Exoteric Buddhism someone told them to be diligent and chant as much as they could. Thus, if other people chant for one hour, then you would chant for two. I used to chant very diligently, too; on a daily basis I chanted the Great Compassion Mantra at least forty-nine times, the Rebirth Mantra many times, at least two or three times of the Universal Gate Sutra, and Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s sacred title ten thousand times. I would also sit and meditate for one hour. Who among you has chanted more than I have? Only after I began to practice Tantra did I know that everything I had learned and chanted in the past had merely served to help me plant the seeds of good fortune so that I could encounter His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. Don’t think that all your practice has been for naught; on the contrary, it has given you the opportunity to come and get scolded here at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center today. This is because you at least have cultivated good fortune from practicing Buddhism. Don’t misunderstand—I didn’t invent the things I say; I speak according to what is written in the Dharma texts.

In the Dharma texts it is mentioned that if you chant in such a manner, you will be far off course with regard to attaining enlightenment. This means it could take you more than three great Asana-khyeyas to attain it. On the other hand, the path of Vajrayana pith instruction is very auspicious; ‘pith’ includes Tantric mantras and the guru’s teachings on meditation, visualization, and so on. You should not think that you can go ahead and repeat to others anything you hear; there would be no use in that, for doing so would be tantamount to stealing the Dharma. Stealing the Dharma comes from impurity of the mind, because the guru did not allow you to transmit the Dharma. The first time I spoke the Dharma, I first asked His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s permission. If the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang had told me, ‘No,’ I would not have dared to speak it. If His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang had said ‘Yes,’ then it would have meant I had his full support to do so, and only then would I have followed through with it. If I had come out and spoken it by myself without the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s permission, then I would have gotten scared to death; without the blessings of the yidams, the Dharma protectors, and my guru, then had I misspoken even a single syllable, I could have been reborn as a fox for five hundred years. I remember this story quite clearly.

“I have read a lot of sutras. Furthermore, the way in which I read them is different from that of other people. At home I have a complete set of the Tripitaka; whenever necessary, I pick up a volume and open it. The page I turn to always just happens to contain the exact section I require. Thus, I read the sutras very often, and in a relatively complex manner. In the Dharma text it is mentioned that the path of Vajrayana pith instruction is very auspicious. Why is that? The reason is that it can shorten the time that it takes for us to become liberated from life and death and to attain Buddhahood. Someone is sure to ask, ‘Why then didn’t Shakyamuni Buddha speak of this in the sutras? Why do we depend on you to tell it to us now?’ Shakyamuni Buddha was getting on in years, and only lived to the age of seventy-nine, so did not have time to speak of it. At that time, the king of the māras demanded that Shakyamuni Buddha hurry up and die, threatening that if the Buddha did not die, then the māras would have no future. You, too, have read this section before. Moreover, this is why the Seven Branch Offerings Prayer contains a supplication for the Buddha to keep turning the Dharma wheel and to reside in this world. We hadn’t made our request to the Buddha first, but the māras had said theirs first. Thus, the Buddha answered their request, and that was why He left us sooner.

“The Buddha ran out of time, and for this reason Vajrayana Buddhism was later revealed by such great Bodhisattvas as Bodhisattva Nagarijuna, Padmasambhava, and so on. The reason Vajrayana Buddhism is so auspicious comes from the fact that it is practiced from the Effect Ground, because all sentient beings have a Buddha nature. Exoteric Buddhism is practiced from the Causal Ground; you are considered to be ordinary people, so you should cultivate your way up from one to two, to three, to four, to five, to six, to seven, and to eight. The concept of Vajrayana Buddhism, on the other hand, is that because sentient beings already possessed this fundamental condition, they should be helped to develop it. Once it is developed, you should cherish this treasure, and therefore be very diligent in your practice. In Vajrayana Buddhism you absolutely need the help of a guru in order to develop yourselves.

“In the Dharma text it is written, ‘Therefore, the auspiciousness of Vajrayana pith instruction lies in its integration of the two practices of generation and completion stages, and the true practice of meditation and diligence.’ Listen closely: Meditation and diligence are necessary. Diligence does not mean spending a lot of time doing it every day; rather, it means that your mind is not careless, and that you are devoting your entire being to this undertaking. For example, if you were to go into retreat to chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra a million times, then you must do just that; if you chant it even just one time too few, then you will not be able to come out of retreat. This is what is meant by jing, the first character in the word for ‘diligent;’ furthermore, during the entire process you must chant with your mind in a meditative state and not be distracted by chaotic thoughts. Jin, the second character in the word for ‘diligent,’ means you can only advance along the Bodhi Path after you have honed your mind. Spending a lot of time doing something every day is not the same thing as being diligent; it simply means you are hard-working. ‘True practice’ means truly and practically amending any behavior which would lead you into reincarnation, in complete accordance with the methods taught by the guru, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas without adding or subtracting anything. If you embellish or leave out anything taught by the guru or the Buddha, then you are not engaged in true practice, because you are using your own conscious minds to do it. Thus, the safest way to practice Buddhism is to listen and do as you are told.

“In the Dharma text it is written that if one practices from the pith instruction of a Vajrayana guru and integrates the generation and completion stages of practice as well as the true practice of meditation and diligence, yet still is not able to be liberated from life and death in body, speech, and mind, then it means Vajradhara lied. In the Drikung Kagyu Order we believe Vajradhara was the first highest yidam in the universe. What this section means is that if you were to practice according to these guidelines yet still were unable to become liberated, then it would mean Vajradhara deceived us. The Buddha would never deceive us, of course, so if you are willing to practice in this manner, then you are sure to be liberated from life and death in this lifetime.

“According to the Dharma text, people with higher and medium root capacity practice the perfect path, while ordinary people may briefly practice on refuge-taking and aspiration. If you are someone with a higher or medium root capacity, the guru will transmit the Dharma to you and teach you to practice it in sequential order. For most of you, the guru will lead you in your practice, but you must genuinely listen, take refuge, and give rise to aspiration. Do you understand what I am saying? These are just a few simple words, but it takes a whole heap of talk to explain to you what they mean. I don’t know if it is a lack of eloquence on my part or that you lack in wisdom. Whatever the case may be, today, after performing the ritual of Avalokiteshvara for you, you will have the causal condition to receive empowerment, transmission of the Dharma, and so on.”

Next, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the Dharma of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. After a while, the guru led the attendees in a recitation of the Great Six-Syllable Mantra for a long time. After its perfect completion, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche cited the Dharma text to teach the attendees how to keep from agitation or drowsiness while chanting mantras. “Just now a disciple yawned in the middle of chanting the mantra, but because he was quite skilled in covering his mouth with his hand, I won’t kick him out.

“None of the monastics present here today has ever heard me speak the way I’ve been speaking today. You must not repeat today’s teachings to anyone you know; if you do, then I will ask you to leave. Anyone who has not attended the puja may not hear these teachings. This does not mean there are any secrets in Buddhism; rather, it means that those people do not have the requisite causal condition. If you repeat the Dharma to them despite their lacking the causal condition to hear it, you will be making false speech. This is because you are not a guru, so you cannot say it. Even if you were to repeat the Dharma to someone, he or she would not necessarily believe one hundred percent of it. This would cause that person to feel skeptical, in which case you would be the culprit. After all, you would be the one who caused him or her to give rise to doubt, which is why you must not do this.

“Next I will be performing the Padmasambhava. Today I will perform the peaceful yidam. When you look at the statue of Padmasambhava above the mandala, don’t think it looks fierce; this is the peaceful yidam. If it were the wrathful yidam it would look different. The features presented by this statue of Padmasambhava here look quite gentle. Padmasambhava is a very different sort of yidam.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the Padmasambhava. After a while, the guru then led all of the attendees in a chanting of the Padmasambhava Mantra. After performing the Dharma to perfect completion His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to bestow precious Dharma teachings.

“Padmasambhava is a very important yidam for practicing Tantra. Placed in the center of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center’s mandala is Shakyamuni Buddha; to one side is Vajrasattva, and to the other is Padmasambhava. At first we placed Padmasambhava in the center, but His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang pointed out that not everyone in a society such as Taiwan’s would necessarily recognize Padmasambhava, so for this reason Shakyamuni Buddha was placed in the center instead. In other words, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang knew which yidam I would succeed in cultivating. A moment ago I led you all in a chanting of the Padmasambhava Mantra, but when I first learned to chant from this Dharma text I had never learned the pronunciation previously. A year later I went to Tibet; after listening to the lamas, I realized that they pronounced it the same way I did. What this means is that I had chanted it in a past life, so the sounds came out the same way again in this lifetime.

“Because people practicing Tantra do not understand Padmasambhava, they encounter difficulties in their Tantric practice in this lifetime. Many of the Dharma texts were passed down by Padmasambhava. Padmasambhava is currently the king of the Land of Rakshasas, where the Rakshasa ghosts consume human lives and flesh for nourishment. Therefore, from Tibet Padmasambhava rode a horse, alighting upon the Copper Mountain to become the king of the Land of Rakshasas so that those Rakshasa ghosts would not harm too many humans. The trio of Dharma methods I am performing today have a very direct impact on your Buddhist practice in this lifetime. Padmasambhava has many Dharma texts, of which one is that of the wrathful yidam; another is a very formidable method for subduing ghosts. There are many, many more Dharma texts, but for now I won’t list them all.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led everyone in a performance of the Dharma Protector Achi prayer and dedication, and then continued to bestow teachings.
“Recently a disciple telephoned a famous restaurant to reserve two tables for a New Year’s feast. This restaurant usually charges NT$25,000 per table for a vegetarian banquet, but because this she was from the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, the restaurant decided to reduce their price by NT$8,000 per table. However, this disciple continued to haggle with the restaurant in an attempt to bring the figure down even further, and even asked why they couldn’t just charge NT$800 per person the way they did during team-gathering parties. Because of this, this disciple no longer has to make any more offerings, for she does not have money. The reason I am telling you this story today is so that you understand that if you try to use the name of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center and your relationship with me to take advantage of others, it absolutely will not be tolerated.

“Why is it okay for you to make money but not okay for others to do it? Why are you still such cheapskates? It’s not that you have to spend more because you are Glorious Jewel disciples; rather, whenever you go out, you represent the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center’s name. Anyone who knows of me would never abuse you; however, this disciple insisted on disgracing herself, and even thought she was quite eloquent. She wants good things, but at the same time does not want to spend any money. What has Taiwan’s society come to? Is it okay for you to make money but not okay for anyone else to? If she wanted to get a cheap price, it would have been easy to do; she could just have gone to an all-you-can-eat restaurant. However, she wanted pomp and extravagance, and insisted on taking her guests to that famous restaurant.

“That restaurant was already sold out for New Year’s, so coming up with two tables for her was quite a huge favor. Still, she had the gall to haggle over the price to the point that the restaurant called me for help in the matter. This was not a money issue, nor was it about ‘face;’ rather, the restaurant had already treated her quite nicely, but she still tried to take advantage of the people there. Others have very high expectations of Buddhist practitioners. You should not bully others just because you practice Buddhism, nor may you act that way just because you are a disciple of mine. Wearing a sticker with my name on it was not of any benefit for her because it has been many years since I went to an all-you-can-eat restaurant, nor do I frequent buffets. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that the restaurants at which I eat are expensive, but they at least meet a certain standard. At the very least you wouldn’t vomit from eating at those places, nor would you go hungry. If she wants to eat cheap, then she should not go to that restaurant.

“I don’t know how many evils I must have committed in my past lives to deserve such a disciple as this. Please, everyone; later on when you go out, if you believe in me, then everywhere I have been will be of benefit to you. By this I mean a guarantee of sanitary conditions when you go out to eat, and that you will not be taken advantage of. Don’t think saying that you are disciples of mine will cause people to let you eat for free or give you a discount. Even I have to pay, so what gave her the right to think she could get a cheaper price? Thus, the more disciples one has, the more troubles they bring. If she didn’t have any money, then what was she doing trying to treat guests to dinner? Was she trying to pose as some big rich tycoon, using the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center’s name to bully people?

“What I dislike the most are people who bully others in the name of Buddhism. If others bully us or make more money off of us, it is the way it should be; after all, we are practicing the Dharma. It is a meritorious act to order vegetarian fare when we go to restaurants that serve meat dishes; eating vegetarian dishes at a vegetarian restaurant, on the other hand, is not a big deal at all. She did not know that this was an opportunity for the restaurant owners as well as herself to accumulate good fortune. Did she think that if she paid money she should be treated like an empress, or that having some money made her incredible? From now on, because she thinks so highly of money, I no longer need her offerings.

“I am not trying to ask you all to spend money without rhyme or reason. Rather, I am pointing out that that restaurant had already worked hard for us to bring the price down from NT$25,000 to NT$17,000—that’s a discount of thirty-two percent. What restaurants out there would give you that kind of discount? So how could this disciple bully them to such an extent? She used to run an eatery that sold beef noodle soup; did she ever give her patrons thirty-two percent off? Should other people give you a discount just because you’re a Glorious Jewel disciple? You really are out of line. I’ll say to you all once more: If you are going to carry the Glorious Jewel name, then you must act like Glorious Jewel disciples. I’m not telling you to act like rich goody-two-shoes, but you should not bully people. Don’t think that just because I know them well and have helped them it means they should give you a discount. Even I have to pay, so why shouldn’t you? Is your goal to owe others as much as possible?

“I just can’t understand. If other people are petty, then whatever; as a Buddhist practitioner, however, how could she be so petty? She caused them to call me on the phone. They were not complaining; they were scared of offending one of my disciples. How dare you bully people to such an extent? Whenever I go out, I never try to swing my weight around; the lower the status of the people I meet, the better I treat them. Back when this disciple used to run an eatery, she never gave anyone a thirty-two percent discount off their meals. How could she have the gall to bully people to such a degree? Take heed from this example; if any of you want to drop my name around, then please, act the way I do. I don’t spend my money frivolously, but when it needs to be spent I don’t quibble over it; that way people will treat me right in the future. I have done many things of which you have no clue. Don’t be weasel-faced and visionless.

“She told the restaurant that people were charged NT$800 per plate at team-gathering parties. Does she not possess any common sense at all? Are the dishes prepared for an elaborate dinner banquet the same as those used for an ordinary meal? Did she want me to call the restaurant and tell them not to charge her, or to even go ahead and pay for her? If she thinks money is that important, then what is she doing practicing Buddhism? If she didn’t have any money, she should not have been acting like she was upper class by treating guests to a fancy meal out. I know of a lot of restaurants, and many of them are quite cheap; still, she insisted on going to an expensive one. Originally I did not want to reprimand her, but she has left me no choice because her actions have affected the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center.

Next his Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche called out the name of a disciple whose vest had been taken from her and asked which team she had originally been part of. Her former team leader said that this disciple was currently a believer whose vest had been taken from her three years previously. Right then and there Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed that her status as a disciple be reinstated and that she be issued a new vest. Stunned by the fact that His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had compassionately granted her the auspicious causal condition to practice Buddhism again, the disciple shed tears of joy, and all of the attendees rejoiced to no end.

Upon the perfect completion of the puja, the attendees expressed their gratitude in unison to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having performed the Dharma and bestowed teachings upon them. They all stood and paid reverent homage as the guru descended the Dharma throne.

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Updated on May 25, 2014