His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – March 30, 2014

Before the puja began a disciple and her husband, also a disciple, thanked and praised His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for his merits. She then shared with everyone present an account of how the guru had saved her family.

From 2006, in answer to an invitation from her older sister, she had begun participating in the annual Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness of the Drikung Kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism. At first she had wished to help all of her deceased ancestors and karmic creditors of past lives to become liberated, even though she herself had had no intention whatsoever to practice Buddhism and break away from evil, let alone to become liberated from reincarnation. On the day of the Grand Puja, she had been profoundly impressed by the great degree of solemnity and auspiciousness that had been palpable as soon as she set foot in the venue. In addition, every time the compassionate presiding guru—His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche—had finished performing a segment of the ritual, he had gone on to explain its significance to all of the attendees. She had truly felt this to be extraordinary and had been absolutely awed. From time to time, complex emotions had arisen unbidden within her, and with great difficulty she had struggled to resist being overwhelmed by them.

As His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was circling around the venue, sprinkling nectar water over the attendees, she had noticed how thin the compassionate guru appeared. Watching him hold the Kusha-grass saturated with nectar water and use it to bestow blessings upon everyone until he was completely soaked, she was awed by the profound compassion and selflessness with which the guru benefited sentient beings, especially after having heard the master of ceremonies describe the S-shaped scoliosis and chronic shoulder problems from which His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche constantly suffered. Seeing this, she had been unable to hold back her tears, which had come rolling down her cheeks in a flood of emotion sparked by the profound degree of compassion exhibited by such a venerable guru!

The Buddha said that those without causal conditions cannot be liberated. Even though she had been participating in the Grand Puja for years, she’d never had the affinity to practice Buddhism under His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. This was because her mind had been impure, unrepentant, and she’d had neither good fortune nor causes or conditions. This had lasted until 2011, when her husband had listened to a friend’s counsel that if one truly wished to practice Buddhism, one must do so in the footsteps of a meritorious guru. As a result of this advice, her husband had implored to participate in the pujas and take refuge in His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. His wishes had been granted. Stubborn as she was at the time, her mind had been full of her own views. A knot of internal afflictions and attachments to family had prevented her from going with her husband to implore to participate in the pujas, so she had missed yet another opportunity to gain the causal condition to practice Buddhism. From the time she had first come in contact with the Dharma, she had squandered away six whole years!

Looking back on it now, she felt a great deal of regret. Every time her husband had participated in a puja he would go home and share His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s precious teachings with her—for example, that we should stop being so critical of everything, that we should approach life with a sense of gratitude, that we should take a clear look at our own problems, that we should implement the Dharma in our daily lives, and that we should not simply treat everything and everyone in accordance with our own values. When practicing Buddhism we must learn from all of the Buddha’s thoughts, words, and actions, and we must constantly reflect on cause, effect, and impermanence. In times of adversity we must maintain a profound faith in the law of cause and effect; in times of ease we must be even more vigilant and not give rise to arrogance. These precious teachings bestowed by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, though simple, had been of boundless significance to her. For her they had been extremely useful gems of wisdom! In her curiosity she would always ask her husband, “And? What else did His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche say?” Later, after discovering the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center’s website, she had no longer needed to pester her husband, for now she could simply get online and browse the site. Reverently reading His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s journal entries, stories of how the guru had helped sentient beings, and the book Happiness and Suffering had become an important part of her daily routine. The more she’d read, the more hooked she’d gotten. Meanwhile, she had begun to reflect upon her behavior. After having acted so badly, how could she possibly deserve to become a disciple of His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche?

In August of 2012, believing that she had formed a profound faith in His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, her conviction had led her to get up the courage to implore the guru to allow her to participate in the pujas. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had compassionately bestowed his permission, and this had given her a feeling of joy such that she had never before experienced. She had always simply muddled through life, acting however she pleased. Moreover, when encountering a problem she had always looked at other people’s shortcomings while ignoring her own mistakes. She had been self-righteous, obstinately conceited, and extremely opinionated, and because of this had committed countless evil acts of which she had not even been aware.

In April of 2013, while showering, her son had been frightened by what he had thought was a white shadow. Their parental advice had been to no avail, so in her greed, she had insisted that her husband take their son with him to seek an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Her rationale had been that since they were unable to discipline their child, they might as well hand him over to the guru to take care of for them. As they stood before His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, however, their hatred, selfishness, and greed had been written all over their faces as clear as day. Thinking that they should allow their son to study whatever he desired, they had tolerated his evil acts. As a result he had majored in foodservice studies and gotten a job working for a restaurant that sold non-vegetarian fare, thus becoming involved with the business of killing. All of this had comprised an attack on the mind by the Five Poisons. They had completely disregarded His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings. They’d called themselves Buddhist practitioners, when in fact they were simply seeking peace of mind, protection, and blessings.

Everything His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had told them about their attitude as parents hit the nail on the head: That they had believed in neither cause nor effect, had had no humility or sense of shame, and had committed evil despite their professed faith in Buddhism. The guru had admonished the child by saying, “Your mother has been reprimanding you for umpteen years, yet you’ve not been afraid of it. So how can you be afraid of a little white shadow?” The guru went on to say, “Before the age of eighteen, children need their parents to care for them and educate them; the parents absolutely have the right to supervise them. This is their responsibility.” In front of their son, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche told the husband and wife, “Quarrelling over your child’s affairs simply isn’t worth it.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had berated them for not having been at all diligent in their Buddhist practice. The husband and wife had been shamed speechless, and by the end the guru had been too exhausted to reprimand them anymore. Unwilling to see any sentient beings suffer, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had instructed one of the monastics to straighten them out. The guru’s precious admonishments had caused the child to give rise to a heartfelt admiration for him. He had thought, The Rinpoche sure is phenomenal! How did he know about everything happening with my family? Only later had he realized that His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is an enormously capable and compassionate practitioner. The disciple was grateful for the timely wake-up call the guru had bestowed upon her and her husband, thereby alerting them to their greed. That very same day, inspired by the great, all-embracing, awe-inspiring power and blessings of His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, their son had gone to the restaurant to submit a letter of resignation. At the same time all his school work had defaulted to zero, because all of his assignments had been based upon a cooperation between the foodservice industry and the school. After returning home he had listlessly asked his mother what he should do. Having lost his study pathway as well as his job, he’d felt completely empty. She had told him, “You must have faith in His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Believe in the guru, and listen to what the guru says, and you will be fine.” She was grateful to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for being so relentless in relieving the suffering of sentient beings, for compassionately saving her family, and for enabling them to turn around in time, break away from evil, and stop descending into that evil pool of collective karma.

Not long afterward, she and her family had again sought an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Upon seeing the panicked state of mind they were in, the guru had asked her son, “What time do you get up in the morning?” Her son had answered that he got up at 9:00. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “What are you doing sleeping so late? Okay, so, what time do you go to bed?” Her son had replied that he went to bed at 11:00. The guru had said, “I bet it’s later than that; am I right? What exactly do you do as soon as your bedroom door is closed?” Realizing how remarkably perceptive His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was had frightened her son again. The guru had then told him to change his lifestyle, and instructed a volunteer disciple to share her experiences with her so that they could again avoid the suffering that comes from their attachments.

Like a compassionate father, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche—no different from the Buddha—had cared for them and bestowed many blessings upon them. This had put their minds at ease and allowed their child, who’d had neither test scores nor time to change his study pathway, to quickly find a major that he liked and begin his studies at a new school. Furthermore, their child had implored to participate in the pujas, and the compassionate Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had given both father and son an opportunity to repent. Then and there they had been allowed to perform grand prostrations, which they had kept up until evening prayers were finished. The following week the disciple’s son had again implored to participate in the pujas on behalf of sentient beings. Had it not been for His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious blessings and compassionate rescue, things would not have gone so smoothly for the child. The ability to find a new school and being given permission to participate in the pujas and listen to the Dharma had been gifts bestowed by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, who was no different from the Buddha. She was extremely grateful to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

In June of 2013 she had had a sudden realization of the impermanence of life, as well as the fact that only by practicing Buddhism step by step while following a meritorious guru can one obtain liberation from reincarnation. She was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having allowed her to take refuge in him. She had reflected upon the wandering existence she had led, how she had wasted fifty years of her life, as well as the various painful things she could not bear to look back on. What more could she become attached to? She had no choice but to grasp this causal condition to practice Buddhism in this lifetime. She was grateful to Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for being so greatly benevolent as to allow her the opportunities and conditions to participate in the pujas held in India and Nepal so that she could accumulate the resources for practicing Buddhism.

Her experiences while participating in the overseas pujas had given her a profound understanding of how fortunate she was to have the causal condition to be following a meritorious guru! In order to listen to the Dharma at the rare and auspicious pujas, local residents had painstakingly made their way through harsh environments, crossing both mountains and rivers to get there. By contrast, the Glorious Jewel disciples could listen to the Dharma every week at the Buddhist Center, completely sheltered from wind and rain. They truly had no idea how lucky they were. If it were not for the great efforts His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had made in support of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang and the Order, how could the Glorious Jewel disciples ever be treated with such generosity and courtesy while overseas? How could they enjoy the good fortune to meet in person with His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang? The Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang had even bestowed upon the disciples Dharma teachings and sacred objects, including the Dharma photos of a Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara and His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. All of this was thanks to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s boundless benevolence, which had given the disciples every opportunity possible to accumulate the resources for practicing Buddhism.

With her own eyes she had witnessed how reverently His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche carried out any tasks given him by his Three-Grace Root Guru His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, as well as the obvious respect and conscientiousness with which Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche served and attended his guru. She had felt very ashamed of her behavior as a disciple, and was grateful to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having been such a good role model so that the disciples could gain a clear understanding of how to follow one’s guru and respect the Three Jewels. It is not easy to obtain human form, to listen to the Buddha Dharma, and to encounter a guru. She prayed that the teachings of Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would guide her to make offerings of body, speech, and mind, to be cautious in both words and deeds, to act according to the guru’s teachings, to diligently keep the Five Precepts, to carry out the Ten Meritorious Acts, to follow the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas, and to become liberated from reincarnation so that she could repay her debt of gratitude to the guru, the Buddha, her parents, and sentient beings. She prayed that Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would have good health and keep turning the Dharma wheel, and that the guru’s Dharma activities would flourish forever, benefiting all sentient beings.

Next, another disciple shared a story of how grateful he was to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having saved him.

At midday last lunar New Year’s Eve (in 2014), he had crashed his scooter into the median while crossing Chunghsin Bridge on his way to work. He was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having performed many Dharmas and bestowed auspicious blessings prior to the New Year, for these had lessened the effects of the disciple’s karmic retribution and caused it to have no adverse effects on anyone else. Had the disciple plummeted from the bridge to the ground below, he would either have broken every bone in his body or gotten killed by the passing cars. He rejoiced that his only injuries had been a smashed kneecap and some light abrasions. All of this was thanks to the blessings and protection of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

He remembered that the crash had left him unable to stand. No one had been passing by at the time, so he had visualized His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche saving him. No sooner had he implored for the guru’s protection than a kind young woman had stopped and called the police, and soon after that an ambulance had picked him up and taken him to the hospital. After taking an X-ray, a nurse had said that he would have to undergo surgery. He had then told the nurse that he had to do something very important, so would have to take a leave from the hospital that day. At the time, his only thought had been that he absolutely must participate in the New Year’s Day puja. After listening to him, the nurse had rather unhappily told him to go and discuss the matter with the doctor. Before the operation, while cleaning his wounds, the nurse had joked, “Do you often drink alcohol or take a bunch of painkillers? How is it that you aren’t in much pain?” He had known very well that it was not that he did not feel the pain, but that he had been visualizing His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in his mind. Because of having someone to depend on, he had been able to bear his pain with courage.

Afterward he had hurriedly made a phone call to inform a Dharma brother of his situation. The Dharma brother had called him back to remind him that as long as he had faith in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, all of his problems would be solved. The Dharma brother had also told him that prior to surgery he must remember to hold a nectar pill in his mouth while visualizing His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. As he had listened to the guru’s Dharma voice on the Dharma CD and held in his mouth the precious nectar pill bestowed by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, his family members had been at his side chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra transmitted by the guru. Knowing in his heart that he could rely on His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, he had no longer felt as afraid, and the operation had gone forward without a hitch.

So that he could easily participate in the puja, his Dharma brothers had prepared a wheelchair for him and delivered it to the hospital ward. At the time only his dad was still there at the hospital with him. After the Dharma brothers had left, his dad had asked, “What’s the wheelchair for?” The disciple had replied that he wanted to participate in the New Year’s Day puja the following day. His dad had said, “You’ve just had surgery; you should rest. Do you absolutely have to go to this puja? Is it that important?” In a firm voice he had replied, “Of course it is! If I have to crawl to get there, I will!” To his great surprise his perpetually stubborn father, who had never been able to take “no” for an answer, had neither opposed him nor gotten angry. The disciple was grateful for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious blessings and arrangements!

On the day of the operation he had given the doctors and nurses advance notice that he must go on leave from hospital on New Year’s Day. Upon hearing this, they had gotten rather mad and told him that according to health insurance regulations, he could only have a maximum of four hours’ leave at a time while hospitalized, and that if he was not back in time the on-duty nurses and doctors would get in trouble. Hearing this, although the disciple had still been very determined to participate in the puja, he had also felt very worried about causing harm to others.

On the morning of New Year’s Day he had gotten up very early to wait at the counter to ask the morning-shift nurse for hospital leave. The minutes and seconds had ticked slowly by until he saw that it was 8:40. The puja was about to begin and he was not going to make it in time, yet the nurses still had not changed shifts. Feeling extremely anxious, he had continuously implored for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings. Just then a nurse had come out of nowhere and asked, “What do you want?” Hurriedly he had told the nurse that he wished to ask for day leave from the hospital. The nurse had said that a doctor’s approval was necessary for that, and that he would have to wait until the doctor had finished his rounds. By then it was after 9:00, and the puja had already begun. What would he do? Completely helpless, he and his mother had no recourse but to sincerely implore once more for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings. Later the doctor’s attitude had softened, but he had maintained that he could only get four hours’ leave. Finally the nurse had said that to get a full day pass he would have to apply for voluntary hospital leave. Without hesitation they had signed the consent forms.

They had rushed to the Buddhist Center, but by the time they’d arrived at the first floor the puja had already begun. He had hurried to get upstairs, and as soon as the elevator had reached the main entrance level a Dharma brother had told him that he’d already asked His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and that he and his family had been given permission to enter. Tears had suddenly streamed down the disciple’s face as he thought, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche really does know everything! Just then he had felt extremely ashamed, for he knew that if he had acted according to the guru’s teachings, he would not have created so many hindrances for himself. As a result, he had participated in the puja with a repentant and grateful attitude.

During the midday recess, after asking the advice of a disciple who was a doctor, his mom had found out that most hospitals would not re-admit patients who had gone on voluntary hospital leave. At that she had felt a bit worried. Luckily, while in the bathroom, his elder sister had bumped into the Dharma brother that was her team leader, and in response to the team leader’s questions had faithfully relayed her brother’s situation, including the dilemma of not being able to return to hospital after the puja. A Dharma brother who worked at a hospital as a nurse had also happened to be present, and had immediately made a phone call for her to beg the doctor to take him back and make arrangements for him to be hospitalized again. The disciple had known very well that his being able to successfully return to the hospital to recover had been a result of His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings. He and his family were all very grateful to the guru.

From the time he’d had the operation to the morning of New Year’s Day, the disciple had needed to take painkillers. During the puja that day, however, he had not, for he had felt no pain whatsoever. Only after His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had descended the Dharma throne that afternoon had he begun to feel any pain. After the puja, the Dharma brother that was his team leader had driven him, his mom, and another Dharma brother back to the hospital to help take care of the complex hospitalization procedure, and had stayed with them until after ten o’clock that night. At that moment he had remembered something His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had once said: One’s Vajrayana Dharma brothers are closer than family. Now he knew the truth in that. That evening he had come down with a fever, which had caused him to toss and turn with insomnia. Only after drinking some nectar water had he been able to fall into a peaceful slumber. The next day he’d been able to get out of bed and practice walking with crutches; by the third day, when he was released from hospital, he could walk up and down stairs with them. All of this had been thanks to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings.

On February 15th, he and his family had come to the Buddhist Center to thank His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. The guru had compassionately asked them why they were there. The disciple’s mom had reported, “We’ve come to thank you, Rinpoche.” His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “Thank me for what?” She had answered, “For saving my son, who had the scooter accident.” The guru had berated him for not listening to his mother, and had told him that it had served him right. This had indeed been true, for on the night before his accident the disciple had told his mother that he was planning on going out on his scooter, and she had been against the idea. Nonetheless, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had compassionately blessed him. He had felt quite sorry, however, because he had not done his best to act according to the guru’s teachings. He had also been unfilial, had wasted His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s energy and good fortune, and had caused his parents to worry.

Medicine prescribed by the Chinese Medicine Clinic had caused his foot, which had swollen to twice its size, to return to normal. However, on the top of his foot there had been a sunken wound through which the bone was visible because the doctor had been unable to suture it at the joint. As a result, he’d had to apply a thick traditional Chinese medicinal paste. Now the flesh had grown back into place, and the depression around where the surgery had been performed had smoothed back to normal. For all of this he wished express his gratitude for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings and protection, as well as for the help and care given by all of his Dharma brothers.

He wished to use this opportunity to repent before His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for the evil acts he had committed in the past. Prior to taking refuge, he had harmed and eaten the flesh of many sentient beings. He had neither applied himself to his Buddhist practice nor reflected upon the mistakes he had made, often believing them to be other people’s fault instead. In order to repay the debt of gratitude he owed the guru, his parents, and sentient beings, he was determined to do his best to act according to the guru’s teachings and amend his ways. 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!

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne to preside over the Chod Puja and bestow precious Dharma teachings.

“At the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, you will no longer be allowed to participate in the pujas if you have done so for a year and a half without imploring to take refuge. No other place in Taiwan operates in this manner. Many people feel this is very strange; they think that it is enough for them to listen to the Dharma and participate in the pujas. Why should they have to take refuge? I once gave the example that many people go to university, and there some might audit classes. Do you get credit for auditing a class? If not, then when practicing Buddhism, why do you think you can become one of my disciples, or a disciple of the Buddha, simply by listening to me speak? The Dharma is not separate from the mundane path, and there are no exceptions. Some people might say, ‘I took refuge someplace else, so isn’t it the same thing?’ No, it’s not the same, because each guru teaches Dharma methods in a different sequence. Each has different experiences from practicing Buddhism, and is sure to use these when instructing his or her disciples.

“In ancient times Buddhist monasteries were all very strict. You could go there as a believer, but if you really wanted to practice Buddhism, the rules were very stringent indeed; you were not even allowed to read the sutras whenever you wanted to. Why was this so? It was because they did not want you to become greedy. Once you give rise to lots of greed, you tend to compare and contrast and think that you can attain enlightenment simply by participating in the pujas and listening to a few extra Dharmas. I often tell the story of how I first approached His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang; I’d been introduced by a good friend of mine. This friend had met the throne holders of every major Order, as well as all of the great and famous Rinpoches. He had also met every monastic in Taiwan who was even the slightest bit known to the public, because participating in pujas was his everyday job. Half a year before he passed away, he told me that he had received at least five hundred or so empowerments. He always knew exactly which Buddhist center was holding a puja on exactly which day. In the end he suffered a stroke while in Beijing, leaving him paralyzed. I was the one who brought him back to Taiwan.

“My purpose in telling this story is to give a special reminder to those who are full of greed and avaricious methods: If you don’t do your best to follow a guru and practice Buddhism in accordance with the Dharma, it will be impossible for you to change the karma you have accumulated over your past lives. I am different from other Buddhist practitioners in that I only follow one guru. Actually, ever since I began practicing Buddhism in His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s footsteps, there have been many temptations. Because I truly am worthy, quite a few Rinpoches and throne holders from other Orders would love to retain me into their ranks.

“In Buddhism, the concept of ‘diligence’ stresses quality over quantity. You cannot master every Dharma simply by having listened to it, learned to practice its yidam, or received transmission from someone of a certain Dharma protector’s ritual. Actually, there are many different types of Dharma protectors. Each Order of Tibetan Buddhism has common and uncommon Dharma protectors, the latter of which are further divided into peaceful and wrathful ones. As an outsider to Buddhism, you should not think that just because a Rinpoche has transmitted a certain Dharma protector’s method or a simple ritual to you it then means that you are learning Tantra. People like that only keep coming here because they think the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center is a pretty good place to attend, and because those other Rinpoches aren’t in Taiwan. I dislike that way of doing things, because it can leave you unable to attain liberation from life and death in this lifetime. Because of this, for as long as I am at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, any believers or monastics that have come here for a year and a half without taking refuge in this Lineage should stop coming.

“Today I feel very happy, because we suddenly have two hundred fewer people, which means I don’t have to work so hard. Your unwillingness to take refuge is an indication that in your minds you still harbor evil, disbelief, and disrespect. Not long ago, after I had been speaking about ‘respect,’ a pair of monastics suddenly stopped coming because they thought they did not need to respect a lay practitioner. How can people with such discriminating minds practice Buddhism? Shakyamuni Buddha never said that you have to be a monastic in order to attain enlightenment; there is absolutely not mention of that in the entire Tripitaka. Shakyamuni Buddha did, however, state that if you hope to renounce reincarnation and attain Buddhahood in a future lifetime, then you must make a firm resolution to give rise to a mind of renunciation—that is, an intention to leave reincarnation of the mundane world. Shaving your head does not necessarily mean that you have left the home of reincarnation. Rather, it depends on whether or not you are determined to do so. Otherwise, no matter how many Dharma methods you cultivate, they will be useless.

“I dare to say that there are not many places in Taiwan that genuinely transmit Tantra. If you see any great Rinpoches from Tibet, you should not be so silly as to assume that they would transmit Tantra to you. Nor should you think that just because you are a monastic Rinpoches should therefore transmit more Dharma methods to you; such is not the case. Recently I mentioned that Shakyamuni Buddha stated very clearly in the Ratnakuta Sutra that without the proper root capacity, even certain sutras cannot be taught in public, let alone Tantra. You should not think that just because you are a monastic, a Rinpoche will like you and transmit Tantra to you. In the past I had a disciple who thought I was overly strict, so she flew over to India to become ordained. To this day she still just doesn’t get it. Why is that? It is because she still does not understand what the point of practicing Buddhism is. Even now she has no set guru; she runs back and forth, attending pujas wherever they might be held. No Rinpoche has become her root guru, because in the eyes of Tibetans, if she does not even continue to attend her original place of practice anymore, then how can someone become her root guru?

“Many people think that if they know Tibetan, they can understand what Tibetans are saying. To be clear, however, the Tibetan language is divided into regional dialects such as the Kham dialect. Tibet itself is divided into Anterior and Posterior Tibet. There is also the Tibetan spoken in Lhasa, which is further divided into ancient and modern Tibetan. How would you be able to understand? Even the Tibetan spoken in Nepal and Yunnan are different. Some Tibetans spend years in places such as Drikung Thil Monastery in order to learn standard Tibetan, because they want to be able to understand each other. A simple analogy is that although Taiwanese and Hokkien were originally the same language, as soon as someone from Fujian province comes over here and opens his or her mouth we can tell that person is not from here. There are even linguistic differences between southern and northern Taiwan.

“By the same token, don’t be silly by thinking that if you sprinkle some water every day it means you are practicing the Water Offering. Without having learned it properly, you can actually do harm to yourself by trying to practice it. When practicing Buddhism you have to do things step by step and in the right order. Why does this sort of thing happen here in Taiwan? The answer is very simple. It is because when people come here from Tibet to propagate Buddhism, if they stay, their only way to make a living is to use the Dharma. As a result, they turn Buddhism into business. I, on the other hand, am different, because I can make money on my own, completely separate from my practice. There used to be a rule that prohibited the Anuttarayogatantra from being taught in public, but in answer to their believers’ requests, some people revealed it. No sooner had they done so than they had broken the Samaya Commandments, as well as the very strict precepts of Vajrayana Buddhism.

“Many people think that once they have learned Tantra, they will very quickly be able to stand out from the crowd. Actually, if you do not have sufficient compassion, then you cannot learn Tantra. Many assume that being compassionate simply means practicing Buddhism, eating vegetarian, and not harming people. If compassion were that simple, then Shakyamuni Buddha would not have given Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara a special introduction in the Universal Gate Sutra. Many people have read this sutra, but most overlook one of the lines in there: ‘View sentient beings with compassionate eyes.’ Here ‘compassionate’ refers to the fact that a practitioner trades all of the good in him or her for all of the bad in others; ‘eyes’ refers not to one’s physical eyes, but rather to the Dharma Eye and the Wisdom Eye. Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is the Buddha of ancient times returned to Earth, so is equipped with the Buddha Eye. Only with this can the Bodhisattva gain a clear view of the suffering of sentient beings. Why did Shakyamuni Buddha make special mention of this in the Universal Gate Sutra? It was to tell us that in order to practice compassion we must first learn to view sentient beings with compassionate eyes. It was not to say that you can attain compassion simply by practicing protectors’ Dharmas every day, or that Dharma protectors will come to protect you if you do.

“Only people who have mastered the teaching of viewing sentient beings with compassionate eyes are qualified to even begin to say that they have cultivated a tiny bit of compassion. ‘Viewing sentient beings with compassionate eyes’ means realizing that everything is cause, effect, condition, and Emptiness; it means not becoming attached to anything to do with sentient beings. The Universal Gate Sutra makes special mention of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s merits. This tells us that if we wish to cultivate compassion, we must at least meet a prerequisite or two. If we have not, then how can we think we are emanations of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara? In the Universal Gate Sutra it is written that if one meets with a situation that might land him or her prison, then one can chant Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s name in order to get out of trouble. I have cultivated the Avalokiteshvara Dharma method and helped many people with their legal issues. How can a person’s situation change? It is not that Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is so compassionate as to make him or her not have to go to jail; there are many prerequisites that must first be met. However, at the very least such a person can be helped by practitioners who can perform the Dharma.

“If you fall ill or get into trouble, you deserve it. The more pujas you participate in, the more you will get sick, so you should just stop asking why. You’ve eaten so much meat in this lifetime that you are bound to go to hell. Instead you’ve only had to suffer from illness, so why don’t you just accept it? Apart from a few the children of a few disciples present, who have been fed vegetarian ever since they were in the womb, who among you has never eaten meat? Not believing in cause and effect, you think that attending the pujas to liberate those fish, pigs, and chickens will make all of your problems go away. You’re wrong! Liberation is for their benefit; because you attend the pujas in order to liberate them, the effects of your karmic retribution will be lessened. It is written very clearly in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows that if you like eating the flesh of sentient beings, you are bound to fall into hell. Even Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s mother descended into hell due to loving the taste of turtle eggs in one of her lifetimes. If you count them all up, how many sentient beings have you eaten?

“Why wouldn’t I allow those people who had participated in the pujas for a year and a half to continue to come? It was because they did not believe in cause and effect; they thought that as long as they attended the pujas, they would be out of harm’s way. Lord Jigten Sumgön stated very clearly that all meritorious Rinpoches are able to lessen the karmic burden sentient beings feel while suffering from illness. However, many people think that once they are cured, their worries will be over and they will have no further cause to forge ahead vigorously in their practice. Why do I help you get better? It is so that you have the strength and health with which to practice Buddhism; only in that way can you become liberated from reincarnation in this lifetime. Many people think they can accumulate good fortune by participating in the pujas. This might be true, but it will not be enough to transform the karma they have accumulated over their past lives. Have you read about how the Venerable Milarepa practiced? His guru told him he was not allowed to leave that mountain cave. Milarepa stayed put even after his guru passed away, and that was the only reason he was able to attain enlightenment. What about you? How do you practice?

“Everything I teach is based in truth; I don’t say things just to hear myself talk. I cannot indulge the minds of sentient beings, nor can I indulge you when you constantly give rise to greedy thoughts. If you do this even when it comes to the Dharma, then you are wrong. When taking refuge you are told, ‘Take refuge in the Dharma, relinquish all desire, and become venerable.’ If you do not, you cannot possibly become liberated from life and death. Why is the world in so much chaos these days? It is because everyone has his or her own desires, and hopes other people will satisfy them. If they are disappointed, they commit evil.

“It’s like how I had to take the long way around to get here today; how many of us were inconvenienced as a result of the desires of a small group of people, blocking the road with their protest? On the surface they might seem to have other people’s benefits in mind, but who actually benefits from this? Take a very close look at the situation, everyone. The parents of these people paid for their education, yet this is how they act. They really should not do this. We can vote to veto any decision a politician makes; if this continues, then how can universities, corporations, and even the country be run? It will be complete chaos! Anyone participating in this protest or expressing his or her views on the matter is committing evil. There is currently no way of knowing which side is right or wrong; can you predict the future? Your concept of right and wrong is based on your desire to benefit yourselves; the same is true of other people out there.

“Nothing happens by chance. I don’t mean to criticize or talk about certain people; the special characteristic of Buddhism is learning that every cause is certain to have an effect; it would be impossible not to. Information technology has become very advanced, but that is actually a bad thing. Chinese used to conceal people’s evils while promoting their virtues; nowadays we do the opposite. As soon as the tiniest thing happens, the entire world knows about it. Why did the person who invented the smartphone die young? It is because that invention has caused so many children to create verbal karma. The courtesy with which people used to treat each other has completely disappeared. Why is that? It is because none of you thinks there is any need to talk with anyone anymore, because you can just text each other back and forth from your tablets. If you don’t like someone, you just shut your tablet off. You think that person can’t do anything to you, because you cannot see his or her facial expressions. However, the most important form of human communication is face-to-face conversation.

“In addition, because communication is too convenient these days, suddenly a massive group of people can gather together and bully those who don’t want to join them. The purpose of practicing Buddhism is not to benefit oneself, but to benefit one’s family, society, country, and the world. In the Age of Degenerate Dharma, the problem associated with the view turbidity of sentient beings is becoming more and more serious. As a result, we all think our own views and ideas are correct, and we expect others to accept them. On New Year’s Day I predicted that the coming year would be very chaotic. However, for you as Buddhist practitioners, the question is whether or not you can learn to steer clear of that chaos, and see the preciousness of the Dharma in its midst. If you cannot, then you are not qualified to practice Buddhism. We can’t isolate ourselves and think that the affairs of the world have nothing to do with us or will not affect us. They actually do have an effect; an example is the traffic jam caused by those protesters this morning, which forced us all to rack our brains for a way around just so we could get here.

“Why do people like to squabble so much these days? The reason is that many people set the example by arguing on television. After all this quarrelling back and forth, everyone gets used to it and follows suit. If you quarrel at home, will your family prosper? The same is true on a national level. As Buddhist practitioners, I am not asking that you go out and stop these things from happening, but at the very least you should be role models. Why won’t I let people keep participating in the pujas after a year and a half? It is because those people are not Buddhist practitioners. If they go out and say they have participated in the pujas, people will see that they are still the same as they ever were. This in turn will affect Buddhism by causing people to misunderstand the Buddha, the Dharma, and its practitioners. If they ask them where they participated in the pujas, and they answer that it was at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, then those people will say, ‘Isn’t that place really strict? So why haven’t you changed yet?’

“I don’t care about my reputation; I simply have the utmost respect for the Three Jewels. We should protect them, but how? We do so with our body, speech, and mind. If those people are not prepared to take refuge and learn Buddhism from the very beginning after coming here for more than a year, it means they have been arrogant. They just want to listen until they feel like they understand; they hope to hear me tell them something they don’t know, or something that is useful to them. If that is the case, then they don’t need to come here! Why not? It is because the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center is not a department store, and only one thing is taught here—how to become liberated from life and death.

“That being said, I have many tricks up my sleeve with which to teach you this. For example, before you even knew what was happening, I suddenly instructed the disciple in charge of Dharma affairs to come out and give a speech. You should not think that he’s the only one I do this to; at any given moment I might play a lot of different cards. As a guru, many of my moves are directed at all of my disciples. All of the ancient Zen masters used to use all sorts of methods to deal with their disciples. For example, if the master told a disciple an item were white, and the disciple agreed, then the Zen master might smack the disciple and say, ‘Is it white just because I say so?’ Those masters were unreasonable. By comparison I am quite reasonable, and would not punish someone unless it were warranted.

“These days no one would dare use the methods Zen masters used to use on their disciples, because they would immediately lead to a lawsuit in which the guru would be accused of beating his or her disciples. Who says it’s not okay to beat one’s disciples in Buddhism? In ancient times both Tibetan Buddhist and Zen Buddhist disciples were beaten. The reason for this was that if a disciple still did not listen even after being told something, then the pain of being beaten would help the disciple understand where he or she had gone wrong. I am truly quite gentle toward you; all I do is make you come up and speak for a couple of hours in an air-conditioned room. Gurus of the past would chase their disciples with sticks all around the mountaintop until they caught them and beat them. The disciples ran if they could, but if the guru couldn’t catch them, they would be told to stop and take the beating. This method was used because sentient beings have such heavy karma. There are many things that cannot be solved by human ideas alone.

“Let me answer another one of your questions. Many people can’t understand why I ask that you commit to becoming vegetarian for the rest of your lives before I will allow you to participate in the Chod Puja. People who participate in this puja are certain to accumulate some good fortune, but if it is not used to practice Buddhism in the future, then it will not necessarily become good fortune of the Human and Heavenly Realms. If you were to eat meat after participating in the puja, then it would be very likely that you would fall into the Ghost Realm once this lifetime is over. In the Ghost Realm there is a type of ghost that possesses good fortune. The reason they go there is that they ate meat in their previous lifetimes, so meat is used when worshipping ghosts. Any deity that uses meat, no matter how powerful, is sure to be a ghost. What’s so bad about falling into the Ghost Realm? Even if that being is very powerful, it will still suffer, for it can see that its future will be filled with suffering—after existing in the Ghost Realm, it is certain to descend into Hell.

” You come to participate in the Chod for the benefit of the deceased so that they can be liberated, but 99% of the deceased never practiced in accordance with the Dharma while they were still alive. As such, by what right do they expect not to fall into the Hell Realm or the Animal Realm? What’s more, in order not to produce ghost kings, even practitioners are at risk of falling into the Three Evil Realms. When you come here imploring for my help, I will definitely help your deceased to accumulate good fortune. As is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, the family members of the deceased should extensively carry out Dharma activities on their behalf. As I’ve often said, ‘extensively’ does not mean visiting a lot of temples or participating in a large number of Buddhist activities. For example, last time someone had passed away whose family members thought that they should find people from different orders to help, when actually they did not have to. ‘Extensively’ here means that your mind must be broad enough to accept everything the Buddha taught. The simplest lesson is not to take life, but the rest is very difficult to teach you. Not taking life includes not eating meat; only in that way can you decrease your opportunities to kill. Not eating meat does not mean you have no opportunities to take life, but it can decrease them by quite a bit. Only once you have given rise to compassion are you then being respectful toward the Three Jewels; only after you respect the Three Jewels can you then produce offerings, and this in turn will lead to good fortune. Only with good fortune can the deceased be qualified to become liberated.

“You should not think that making an offering simply means giving money; that is not true at all. With my abilities I could charge you NT$10 million to liberate your deceased, but I don’t speak of money with you; I speak of the Dharma. Besides that, I also look at whether or not there is proper causal condition. Many people turn around and run away as soon as they hear the words ‘eat vegetarian.’ This means that their deceased do not possess this causal condition. I don’t believe that people who cannot even give up their epicurean desires have the ability to change their personality. Your diet is constantly changing from childhood to adulthood; you might now hate something you used to love, or vice versa. If your epicurean desires are continuously changing, then why can’t you change from being a meat-eater to being a vegetarian? The only reason you are unable to change is that you do not believe in cause and effect.

“Listen closely: If you bring your friends and relatives here to implore for the liberation of their deceased, they may only participate in the Chod Puja if they commit to becoming vegetarian for the rest of their lives. Of course they might lie to me and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas later, but they must give verbal agreement to this condition while in front of me. If they do not, then I will not liberate their deceased. You might ask, ‘Okay, so what about people who participated in the Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness?’ As I’ve stated on many occasions, that puja is meant to help sentient beings to form an affinity with Amitabha Buddha; whether or not those who attended it ate vegetarian afterward was entirely up to them. However, at every Grand Puja, without exception, I always urged everyone present to go vegetarian. Thus, it is likely that fewer and fewer people will be coming to participate in the Pujas for Transferring Consciousness.

“Let me tell you all a story. On my latest trip to Japan, I visited a temple that has seven or eight centuries of history. Never in my life had I seen a Buddhist temple with so many ghosts and so many graves on its grounds; there must have been at least a few thousand graves, and a whole heap of ghosts. The temple’s main yidam was Amitabha, and in the middle of the temple a mandala had been set up to confine all of those ghosts inside it. You should not think that simply erecting a statue of Amitabha Buddha or chanting Amitabha Buddha’s name every day would be enough to liberate them. The Japanese monastics there might not have been able to liberate these ghostly beings in the past, but they were able to prevent them from floating around from place to place by forcing them to stay in one location. If you went there you would definitely feel frightened, because it is extremely eerie. When I first arrived the sky directly above the temple was dark with clouds, but as soon as I got inside, the sun came out. Strangely, only that part of the sky had been cloudy; everywhere else the sky had been completely clear.

“As you can see, even having a statue of the Buddha set up in front of them did not keep these sentient beings from being trapped in the Ghostly Realm for hundreds of years. Many people think a Buddhist statue can liberate the deceased, but that isn’t enough. This is because sentient beings cannot be liberated if they do not have the necessary causal conditions. My reason for being so strict about making you go vegetarian before I allow you to participate in the Chod Puja is to help you form a causal condition so that at the very least you might be healthier in your next lifetime. This is because if you break away from killing, then you are sure to enjoy better health in your future lives. Many people point out that everyone else eats meat, so why shouldn’t they? In fact, whoever eats meat has a very high chance of falling into Hell; do you want to follow such people? You don’t have to wait until you are dead to fall into Hell; lots of people, while still alive, go under the knife at the hospital and so on, which means living in Hell. I have seen it happen far too many times.

“Today I will perform the Chod for you. As long as you respect the Three Jewels and have complete faith, your deceased is sure to be liberated. If a deceased cannot become liberated, this is not at all the fault of the practitioner or the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; it is that you do not have the correct motive. I have said so much today, but in conclusion, you must have faith but not be superstitious. Instead you should believe that we already possess the same conditions the Buddha had to attain Buddhahood. We have simply forgotten; that’s all. I actually feel very reluctant to use the word ‘forgotten,’ but it is a word that you can understand.

“Furthermore, you must have faith that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are compassionate and would never ask for anything in return. If this is true, then why don’t the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas simply liberate all suffering sentient beings? We must believe what the Buddha said—that sentient beings need to have causal conditions; that is, whether or not sentient beings are willing and able to accept the Buddha’s help. If a doctor prescribes medicine for you, yet you refuse to take it, then no matter how skilled that doctor is, he or she will not be able to save your life. Buddhism operates on a similar concept. Don’t think that because the Buddha is compassionate people therefore should be made to listen; the Buddha has never forced anyone to listen. Rather, Buddha has always employed continuous encouragement.

“If the Buddha had been able to force people to listen to His words, then the Buddha’s family would not have been killed. You might think the Buddha should have coerced and threatened everyone whose surname was Shakya, telling them that they must hurry up and leave or else they would be killed. You might say this sort of thing to people on a daily basis, but the Buddha did not, because the Buddha saw that the causal conditions did not exist. The Buddha stalled the enemy in the middle of the road for three days before finally getting up. Why was that? It is because the Buddha was repaying a debt of gratitude by giving His family members three days’ time, to see if their causal conditions would change. If they did not change within three days, then there weren’t any. Why, then, did I give those people a year and a half? After all that time they were still unwilling to take refuge, which meant that their causal condition would not change; for this reason I also told them goodbye.

“The Buddha got up and left; likewise, I am asking you to leave, because if you continue participating in the pujas like this it will do you no good. It is not that I am heartless; rather, your refusal to stop committing evil will cause a ghost king to emerge. As is written in the sutras, it is very bad when this happens, for as soon as a powerful ghost appears somewhere it will attract all of the smaller ghosts nearby right to it. As a result, they will not be able to reincarnate until the ghost king’s power subsides. Ghost kings typically commit acts of greed, hatred, and ignorance, so will increase the smaller ghosts’ karmic burdens. I once went to a believer’s clinic to help him; in his superstition, he had gotten some prayer flags from a shrine. The sight that greeted me as I walked in was truly pitiful, because a ghost king had chained smaller ghosts to the prayer flags and then sent them to different places.

“By ‘smaller ghosts’ I do not mean the ghosts of children; rather, I mean ghosts of a lower class than ghost kings. Think about it; would ghosts feel happy about being chained up? They definitely would not. Many people think they can keep other ghosts away by placing prayer flags at home, but if the ghosts chained to the prayer flags are not powerful enough, then they will not be able to defeat the other ghosts. This is because some ghosts are quite powerful. For example, when I was once performing the Chod to liberate a ghost of another religion, his force was so great that he actually tugged on the bell I was holding, right in the middle of the ritual. He only stopped because he was moved by my compassion.

“Some people might think my actions show a lack of compassion, and feel that as long as these people are willing to attend my pujas, I should give them more time. So who is going to give time to me? I am already over the hill, so I don’t have all that many spans of a year and a half left to waste on you. I am going to be acting more and more quickly from now on, because I don’t have much time left. If you are good-for-nothings, then don’t waste my time; you might as well stop attending the pujas sooner rather than later, go home, and do something you enjoy. I don’t wish to produce ghost kings, so if you don’t want to practice Buddhism or have any doubts whatsoever, stop coming here.

“Some people claim they are vegetarian and do not eat meat, but if evil is in their hearts, they will still fall into the Ghost Realm. There they might become ghosts that do not eat meat, but which can smell the fragrance of flowers and food. There are many such ghosts; they are everywhere. The reason I am speaking to you all about these things is not to constantly nag you just because you have come to participate in the puja. Rather, the more I see the more I understand, and the more I understand the more I nag, for fear that you might take a wrong turn in your lives. If you stray from the right path, it will be very difficult to find your way back.

“Many disciples run shrines in their homes. If I did not have a little bit of compassionate power, then the deities in their shrines would not come up and say, ‘that gentleman to the north is huge; I am a lesser being, but he is a great one.’ I once had a disciple who went to a certain famous Taoist shrine to throw divination blocks. In the end, five of them all said that I was the true practitioner. Simply put, you might not know who I am, but the ghosts and deities definitely do. Why is that? It is because of the power of my compassion; it has nothing to do with how fierce, formidable, or well-known I might be. The Ghost Realm is different from the Human Realm; in our world we look at how famous or eloquent someone is, but in the ghosts’ world they place importance on a person’s energy and compassion.

“Given that I am performing the Chod today, everyone must come to a profound realization that this is a very rare opportunity, and that performing it is not an easy thing. There are so many Rinpoches, Khenpos, and lamas in the Drikung Kagyu Order, but currently none of them performs the Chod in public; perhaps they perform the Dharma one-on-one. Even though some Rinpoches of other Orders have come to Taiwan to perform the Chod recently, not as many people attended. That there are so many people here today has nothing to do with how remarkable I might be; it has to do with the fact that the Chod’s yidam, the Dharma protectors, and Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara allow the sentient beings who possess the affinity to participate in this puja.

“The Chod is Tantra, and is not easy to transmit. To master the Chod one must also achieve attainment in the Phowa of Amitabha and the Simplicity Yoga within the Mahamudra of the Drikung Kagyu Order. In Zen terms, practitioners of the Chod must already have achieved sufficient skill in meditation, and according to the Diamond Sutra must already have realized the elimination of the Four Forms: self, sentient beings, time, and humanity. According to Zen, only once they have attained this state can they perform this Dharma.

“Many people misunderstand the phrase, ‘No forms of time,’ to refer to longevity; rather, it means there is no time or space. ‘No forms of humanity’ refers to the fact that we help not only humans, but all sentient beings of the Six Realms as well. ‘No forms of self’ means that there can be no ‘self’ while performing the Dharma. What do I mean by this? Because compassion is act of exchanging the good within oneself for the suffering of sentient beings, if you think of your ‘self’ while performing the Dharma, then you will end up protecting yourself. As a result, your compassion and merits will not be able to emerge. For this reason we absolutely must not be attached to self or the Dharma. ‘No forms of sentient beings’ means the Bodhisattvas do not discriminate between sentient beings and the Buddha. Sentient beings have a Buddha-nature, too, but because of their karma and all of their karmic retribution, they suffer in the sea of reincarnation.

“Only after realizing and achieving these four forms can a practitioner perform the Chod. Why is that? It is because the most important part of the Chod is the practitioner visualizing his or her own bones and blood as offerings to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and as alms for sentient beings to eat. This is not something you say or think about; if you can eliminate these Four Forms, then you will naturally have this ability. The reason behind this method is that Shakyamuni Buddha had shown the way many times in the past. While practicing the Bodhisattva Path, the Buddha made offerings of His physical body and everything to sentient beings. As such, we latter-day Buddhist practitioners should follow Shakyamuni Buddha’s example. Before we have attained Emptiness, we will not be able to cut off our flesh, dig out our eyes, and jump into a pit of tigers as the Buddha did; however, we can do this in our minds while meditating, because we understand that the body is not real. It is Empty in nature; it is simply an accumulation of all sorts of karma from past lives, and is forever changing. Whether you want to live a long life or not, your body is changing every second of your life.”

Right then and there, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed a disciple who was a doctor to explain what the guru had meant by “your body is changing every second of your life.” The doctor-disciple replied, “Every second, our bodies are undergoing the processes of breathing, circulation, and metabolism, so they really are constantly and gradually changing. Every seven years, all of our tissue completely regenerates, so whether you look at the circulation process that absorbs oxygen or metabolism by the kidney and liver, the body is indeed in a constant state of change.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued. “‘No forms of self’ means that although we think we are in possession of these physical bodies, they are actually in a constant state of flux, and do not belong to our ‘selves.’ Why did Shakyamuni Buddha walk seven steps as soon as He was born? In Exoteric terms, it was because the body transforms once every seven years; in Tantric terms it would be explained a different way, but that cannot be said in public. Those of you who used to practice Exoteric Buddhism—do you remember hearing a Dharma master say that Shakyamuni Buddha took seven steps immediately after being born? The reason the Buddha took seven steps was that He would not take a step more nor a step less than necessary; it all to do with us humans. The Buddha’s every action and every word is connected with our practice and our bodies. In Tantric terms, every action of the Buddha is related to Tsa Lung Trulkhor. Only after you can understand the Buddha’s actions will you stop being superstitious and having attachments. Modern medicine has only recently discovered that our bodies regenerate every seven years, but the Buddha already knew this a few thousand years ago. Thus, the Buddha took those first seven steps for everyone to see. In other words, our bodies only live for seven years; after that time we have a new body, a new life.

“Why do Chinese say that something changes every ten years? By this logic, a change that happens every seven years requires three years of preparation. If you think about it, wouldn’t you agree that this is true? It really is. Whether one’s body changes for the better or for the worse, it takes about seven or eight years before it begins to change. If you think about young children, there are very obvious differences between a seven-year-old and an eight-year-old; fourteen-year-olds and fifteen-year-olds are different as well, and the changes that occur after the age of twenty-one are even greater. This is because the body is constantly changing. As a result, meditation and visualization can also transform the body into forms that the eyes cannot see, but which sentient beings can. What does it take to transform the body? The power of compassion.

“Someone once asked Shakyamuni Buddha how the Buddha could propagate Buddhism in this world, given that the Earth exists in the evil time of the Five Turbidities. Furthermore, where is the pure Buddha Land? In Exoteric Buddhism there is the saying that ‘if the mind is pure, then so is the land,’ and everyone keeps deliberating on what this means and how to achieve it. Back when I was practicing Exoteric Buddhism, I thought the same as others when it came to the meaning of this saying. Actually, Shakyamuni Buddha once showed this to the Bodhisattvas, but not to ordinary people. Why not? It was because the minds of ordinary people cannot be purified, and are therefore different from the Buddha’s mind. Even if something might be pure in the Buddha’s eyes, ordinary people would not see it as pure. Thus, ‘if the mind is pure, then so is the land’ refers to the level of a practitioner’s Buddhist practice; it does not mean deliberately purifying the mind and thinking that this is the Buddha Land.

“When practicing Tantra, just as when I perform the Chod, I must visualize that this place is the Pure Land. At first I must chant the Emptiness Mantra until everything returns to Emptiness and its pure nature before any causes or conditions have come into existence; only then can I take a further step to visualize the emergence of the Buddha Land. As for the saying, ‘if the mind is pure, then so is the land,’ first ask yourselves how pure your practice and meditative states are. The purer they are, the purer the land will appear to you. In the sutras it is written that the Buddha once showed it to the Bodhisattvas; what the Bodhisattvas saw was the Buddha Land, but ordinary people would only have seen the world obscured by the Five Turbidities. This has to do with our minds; if we have not yet made a firm resolution to become liberated from reincarnation, then our minds cannot possibly be pure. If we are still attached to certain mundane pleasures and afflictions, then our minds will be impure. With impure minds we absolutely are not qualified to see the Buddha Land.

“Today I will perform the Chod for you. Besides helping you accumulate the resources of good fortune and wisdom, most importantly the Chod will help you quickly break away from all afflictions. Only by doing this can you experience and come in contact with the pure Dharma. The afflictions that can fill a Buddhist practitioner include the desire for more clarity, to comprehend more, and to know more. In a moment, while I am performing the Dharma, you do not need to think about anything; all you need is to clearly believe that the Three Jewels are of benefit to sentient beings and know that you have come to participate in today’s puja on behalf of all suffering sentient beings. Only by keeping this pure motive in you can it help you and all those suffering sentient beings.

“The saying, ‘whenever one implores for help, one’s wishes will be granted,’ does not refer to mundane matters. It means that if you implore the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to help sentient beings leave suffering behind, you are sure to get a response. If you implore for your husband to obey you or for your children to do well in school, will you get what you asked for? Perhaps; if you have sufficient good fortune, then your situation will naturally change. However, it will not necessarily be the Bodhisattvas that come to your aid. Having sufficient good fortune means that when you yourself have enough good fortune from practicing Buddhism, you will be surrounded by Bodhisattvas and Dharma protectors that have come to protect you. How, then, can bad things happen to you? They cannot. You must all have a clear understanding of the Dharma; do not speak nonsense about it or get it wrong, because as soon as you do you will have a very difficult time and have to start all over again.”

Next, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the auspicious Drikung Kagyu Chod. Afterward, the guru continued to bestow teachings.

“Some of you in attendance today are wearing black—the color of the clothing worn by the protestors. Be careful on your way home; don’t go near that protest over there. Don’t you watch television? Are you in retreat? Later on, the first thing you should do is to go home and change your clothes so as not to cause any misunderstandings. Do I have to remind you of everything? Regarding this matter, you may exercise a bit of your own influence. If we do not trust the government, then this nation will cease to exist. Actually, if we had overthrown the government in this manner, the nation’s people would all have been suffering for many years. Is that what you want? If not, then there is no need for us to oppose those people or speak ill of them. However, we can choose not to support them.

“Sometimes a government is unable to communicate very clearly about certain things to its people. If you cannot even communicate clearly about your own situations at home, then what do you expect when it comes to the greater affairs of the nation? Don’t just parrot what you hear; this is especially true for university students—don’t just repeat anything someone else says. If Taiwanese society becomes unstable, then even if your demands are granted, I doubt life will be good for us all in the future. Why is that? It is because this sets a precedent; if people can get what they want by acting this way, will this country be able to survive?

“Thus, teachers should not fear that speaking of this matter will bring them dire consequences; they should educate our children to act in accordance with the law and abide by the rules. This land is already the most democratic nation in the world; what else do you want? In other places the media can be completely censored without the people ever sensing that the government is in control. Don’t keep bullying people just because you think they are easily bullied. Therefore, people in the education sector should not simply focus on giving exams; they should truly teach this concept to our children.

“Buddhist practitioners understand very well that conditions arise and cease, but of course this does not mean that if someone has governed very poorly we should still let him gradually become terminated. However, surely things can’t have gotten that bad! As the English expression goes, ‘you cannot please everyone;’ people are sure to oppose you as soon as they think their interests are at risk. There are also those who benefit from opposing the government. We must not be so stupid as to mimic these people’s actions. Even if your opinion is that the government’s operations are not transparent enough, tell me, what government’s operations are? No government is completely transparent. No matter how democratic a nation might be, there are sure to be some things that are kept in the dark because they cannot be discussed openly for fear of causing problems.

“You all have parents and siblings at home; who among them ever reveals every single thing to you? If you ask where one of them is going, he or she might say, ‘Nowhere! I’m just going for a walk.’ Walk where? Who do you know that tells you absolutely everything? If your brother is obviously going outside to make a phone call and you ask him where he’s going, he might say, ‘I’m just running down to the convenience store to get a few things.’ Complete transparency is impossible even at home, so why do these people expect that of the government? First take a look at whether this matter is as beneficial as it is detrimental! There is always time for us to cast our votes. If people keep acting this way, and won’t even accept the result of our votes, then can this country remain in existence?

“We cannot follow evil; we must use our wisdom to look at things clearly, and not create disturbances. If you are not in a position of authority, you cannot understand. How hard do you think it is for me to look after more than a thousand disciples? I am kept busy with all kinds of things. Thus, we are very fortunate that we can live in peace, put food on the table, and not have anything vile happen to us. How can the government possibly fulfil our every wish? If things don’t go our way, life is as it should be; that is normal. If we always got what we wanted, then this would not be Earth; it would be the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss. You do not wish to die now, so how can this be the Pure Land? This is without a doubt the Saha World, where the vast majority of things do not go as we would hope. You must accept this; it is life. Only after you have done that can you see a problem’s source. If you do not accept reality, instead trying to use your own methods to fight it, you will not only be unable to see the problem clearly, but will also create more and more difficulties for yourselves.

“If you don’t believe me, you can go home and browse the web. You’ll discover that in the past decade, things have not gone well for any country whose government has been overthrown in this way. Recently it has happened in Egypt, and society there is still in utter chaos. Don’t think that this sort of action can be called democracy; this is the most undemocratic thing you can do. If you want democracy, it means the minority must comply with the wishes of the majority; these days that has been flipped on its head. Here at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, the majority complies with the wishes of the minority; there is only one Rinpoche here, so you have no choice. Things are different in the outside world, however. The reason I have performed so many Dharmas is that I am constantly worried about what will happen this year. I hope that everyone can get through it in peace and harmony.

“How can Buddhism be propagated if this country is in turmoil? It would be impossible. As Buddhist disciples, you must all make an effort to prevent this situation from worsening. If someone brings it up, there is no need to debate the matter. If complete transparency is impossible even at home, then how can we expect it of the government? You often ask your father, ‘Dad, how much money do you make in a month?’ Your father always answers, ‘You’re too young to worry about that.’ Isn’t that an example of not being transparent? It is the same thing. This country is one big family, and each of us is one of its members. If we destroy our family, life will become grave indeed. If you don’t like how the country’s being run, then a couple of years from now you can vote them out of office; there is no need to cause a huge ruckus at great cost to society. The longer this keeps up, the more money taxpayers will have to pay, especially law abiding citizens such as myself. The more I think about this, the worse it makes me feel.

“All of these occurrences are the result of our collective karma, a collective karma which extends because everyone wants to fight and know everything. We created this next generation with our lack of care and patience, as well as our neglect to teach them ethics and morality from an early age. If we do not teach them properly, our children will handle their affairs based on whatever knowledge and principles of loss and gain they absorb from their environment. Without adults to support them, you can be sure that those children would not dare to act this way; there are profits and gains in all of this. We have no stake in the matter, and we need not get involved. It would be best if you could all simply live in peace and security. Today I performed the Chod in order to substantially lessen the impact of this event.”

In a unified expression of heartfelt gratitude, all of the attendees thanked His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for compassionately performing the Dharma. Modestly the guru said, “No thanks are necessary; this has nothing to do with me. You are the ones who should be credited, for without your attendance this puja would never have happened. All causal conditions originate from sentient beings. The reason the Diamond Sutra contains passages about ‘no forms of sentient beings’ is that if you think you are liberating sentient beings, then you are not Bodhisattvas, because sentient beings are all equals. When I say I feel very sorry for this child or these people, I don’t mean they are repulsive; rather, I look upon this situation with mercy. There is no absolute right or wrong; everyone has his or her own point of view. The fact is, we all reside in this country and hope to live in peace and prosperity. We should work hard and do our very best to protect this country so that it continues to thrive.”

Upon the perfect completion of the puja, the disciples voiced their gratitude in unison to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for performing the Dharma and bestowing teachings. Standing, they paid reverent homage as the guru descended the Dharma throne.

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Updated on August 21, 2014