His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – April 20, 2014

Before the puja began, a disciple thanked His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having bestowed upon her this opportunity to offer praise and to share her story of how the guru had saved her family, as well as to make a public repentance.

In November of 2004, her eighty-five-year-old mother had suffered a fall. All of her children were living out of town at the time, so she had brought her mother back to Taipei so that she could take care of her more easily. After learning of this, her older sister’s daughter had said to her, “Auntie, our guru is very compassionate and kind toward children and the elderly. We should take Grandma to seek an audience with the guru.” In this way, because of her mother, the disciple had been granted an audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and in July of 2005 had taken refuge in the guru. She was grateful to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having agreed to take her on as his disciple.

In 2008, while at her home, her mom had suddenly gone into convulsions. They had quickly kneeled in front of a Dharma photo of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, imploring the compassionate guru to bless and protect her mom. Immediately afterward they had driven her to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center. After making prostrations before the Dharma photo of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche there, they had taken her mother to the hospital. There a doctor had determined that she was infected with septicemia, that her blood cell count had skyrocketed to more than 14,000, and that she had a fever of more than forty degrees Celsius. The hospital had even issued a critical condition notice, even though her mom did not appear to be at all uncomfortable. The doctor had said that normally a patient in such a serious condition would have gone into shock or lost consciousness, but her mom had still had her wits about her, so was released from hospital two weeks later. The disciple was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having compassionately saved her mother; had it not been for the guru, her mom would never have been able to leave the hospital so quickly.

On April 6th, 2012, her mom had again been hospitalized due to hematuria resulting from a urinary tract infection. Due to her age and weak constitution, she had been unable to cough up phlegm, forcing her to rely on a suction machine to draw it out. She’d also had difficulty swallowing food, so had been fitted with a nasogastric tube. The process of drawing out the phlegm had caused her mother much pain, and the disciple had felt very reluctant to have it done. Still, it had been necessary. She had told her mom to accept the pain, because in the past she had raised and slaughtered chickens at their old home. Also, whenever her father would return from the seaside with fish, shrimp, craps, conchs, and so on, her mother would immediately cook them for the family to eat. The disciple repented for all of the evil acts her parents had committed in order to satisfy their epicurean desires.

Her mom had been released from hospital on April 14th. The disciple and her sixth eldest sister had taken her to thank His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for his blessings. At the time, the guru had warned her sister, “A man will try to harm you. If someone at your company asks for you to sign your name or affix your seal to anything, you must refuse; otherwise you will get involved in a lawsuit.” Sure enough, a few days later her sister telephoned to tell her that a male manager had asked her to sign a document. Remembering His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s warning, however, she had refrained, giving the excuse that it was not a document she was allowed to sign. Only afterward had she learned that this male manager had embezzled money from the company. The disciple and her sister were both very grateful for His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings, for they had kept her sister from becoming entangled in a lawsuit.

On the morning of January 27th, 2013, her mom had suddenly started having trouble breathing. The disciple had immediately called an ambulance and had her taken to hospital. When they arrived, the doctor had asked if she wished for her mother to undergo emergency treatment. She had declined, and the doctor had agreed with her decision, saying that her mother’s organs had aged to such an extent that emergency treatment would not do her any good. By a little after eleven o’clock, her family members had begun to hurry down to the hospital one after another. She had called her Dharma brothers to inform them of her mother’s condition, and self-righteously had requested that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche bestow blessings upon her mother so that she would enjoy a smooth transition from the land of the living. She had even requested that the guru perform the Phowa to liberate her. She repented for her wrongdoings. A general puja was being held that day, and in the shoe-changing area she had bumped into the Dharma brother who was her team leader. This Dharma brother had asked her, “Has your mom passed away?” She had answered that no, she hadn’t yet. Her team leader had replied, “No wonder Rinpoche scolded you; how can you implore for her to be liberated if she isn’t even dead yet?”

During the puja that day His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had admonished, “So you think you can implore for a Phowa to liberate your mother simply by making a phone call? That’s impossible!” At the time she had felt extremely ashamed and filled with remorse. She’d thought to herself, I was wrong to do that; I really was wrong. I have let down both the Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and my mother. The guru had then said, “You think that because lots of people have been granted the Phowa, it’s only logical that it be granted to you as well. But what virtuous acts have you performed? Have you accumulated good fortune and causal conditions? Why do you think you deserve to have the Phowa performed for your mother?” She repented that she had only been seeking the guru’s help; she had not considered the fact that she was an unworthy disciple who had neither worked hard to amend her ways nor accumulated good fortune for her mother. How could she be granted the auspicious Phowa? She had unknowingly consumed the Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s good fortune and energy, and for this she repented.

During the puja, while performing the Dharma of Dorje Phurba, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “As soon as I chant the mantra, you may all speak the names of the persons you would like helped.” She was grateful to the guru for being so compassionate and constantly benefiting all sentient beings. After the puja, she had taken some offerings to the hospital to give to her mother. The next day they had decided to drive her mother back to their ancestral home in Miaoli, so the disciple had gone home to pack some clothes, and had bought a Dharma text and a Dharma photo. Upon returning to the hospital, she had held the Dharma photo of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in front of her mom while telling her, “Don’t be afraid; Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is by your side, and will make the best arrangements possible for you.” No sooner had she uttered these words than her mother’s eyes had opened wide, gazed for a while at the guru’s Dharma photo, and then closed again. Seeing this, the disciple’s sixth sister had gotten so excited that she called out to their mother over and over, urging her to keep thinking about His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. In the car on the way to their ancestral home, the disciple and her sister had chanted the Great Six-Syllable Mantra and visualized the image of His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche bestowing blessings upon their mom’s head.

By the time they had gotten to their destination, it was nearly three o’clock in the afternoon, and her brother, older sister, and other family members were already there waiting. After they had gotten her mother settled in the main hall, the disciple had again held the Dharma photo of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in front of her mom and said to her, “The Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is here by your side. You must be sure to remember the guru’s Dharma appearance and Dharma name.” After that she had chanted His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Dharma name three times for her mom to hear. Again her mother had opened her eyes wide and gazed reverently at the guru’s Dharma photo. She and her family had remained by her mother’s side, chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, until she passed away at 3:35 that afternoon. The disciple had immediately phoned a Dharma brother with the news, and had also thanked another Dharma brother for having given her a precious nectar pill to place beneath her mom’s tongue so that her consciousness would be protected. At the time of her death, her mom’s face had been peaceful, her lips slightly parted. After they had chanted the Great Six-Syllable Mantra for a full eight hours, everyone had made grand prostrations together before the Dharma photo of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. While they were thanking the guru for his compassionate blessings, her mother’s cheeks had brightened and her mouth had closed. After changing her mother’s clothing, the funeral master of ceremonies had said to them, “Your mother is in a very good condition; her body is very clean and soft.” Their mom had passed away, but even though her family was sorry for her passing, they had not felt any grief. The disciple knew very well that all of this was thanks to the protection and blessings of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

On February 21st of this year (2014), her ex-husband had suffered from ruptured veins in his stomach and esophagus due to cirrhosis caused by advanced liver disease, and had been vomiting up a large amount of blood. As a result, he had been admitted to the intensive care unit, where his condition had been deemed so serious that he had been fitted with a respirator. On March 1st, their three children had sought an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. After the guru had asked why they were there, the children had reported that their dad was in the ICU because he was suffering from cirrhosis. They had then implored His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to help and bestow blessings upon their father. Full of compassion for suffering sentient beings, the guru had asked the children what their dad’s full name and zodiac sign was. After bestowing blessings, the guru had said, “The blessings I have given him will not make him better; they will alleviate some of his pain.” The guru had gone on to say, “It is a matter of days.”

While her ex-husband was in hospital, he would knit his brow in pain whenever anyone touched him. The next morning they had paid him another visit, during which time his torso and arm had been touched; however, strangely enough, this had not caused him to knit his brow. At 8:00 that evening they had visited him again, and found that his respirator had been removed. The following morning the doctor had told them that he would be transferred to a regular hospital ward at one o’clock that afternoon. They were grateful for His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings, for they had spared her ex-husband from much of the suffering that comes from staying in the ICU. Her ex-husband was in the end stage of liver cirrhosis; his hepatobiliary index was on the rise, he was suffering kidney necrosis, he was unable to urinate, and his organs were failing. While in hospital they had let him drink some nectar water from the Grand Puja over which His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had presided. They had also used some of it to cleanse his body and the top of his head, and brought a Dharma photo of His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for him to look at. He had looked at this during the last two days that he was alive. Her ex-husband had still been able to talk right up until the time of his death on March 8th. He had not needed morphine, and had neither suffered from ascites nor lost consciousness. In the instant before his death, he had been talking with his eldest son. He had passed away so peacefully that they at first had thought he was sleeping.

On March 8th the children had sought an audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to implore for help for their father, but the guru had answered, “Your dad never practiced Buddhism in his life, so how can I help him?” The guru had then admonished the children, telling them to think long and hard about whether or not they were willing to go vegetarian, and had instructed them to come back the following week.  On March 15th they had again sought an audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, during which they had reported to the guru that they were all willing to go vegetarian. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had then chanted mantras to bless their dad, and had agreed to allow the children to participate in the Chod Puja so that their dad could be liberated. In addition, the guru had compassionately bestowed upon them a date for the memorial service and a burial at sea.

The weather had still been foul the day before, but on the day of the memorial service it was quite nice, and the funeral had proceeded smoothly to a perfect completion. After her ex-husband was cremated a small round hole had appeared in the top of his skull, as well as several patches of auspicious green and purple coloring. In addition, milky transparent crystals had grown in many places on the skull, which the master of ceremonies had said were the sarira spoken of by Buddhists. Soon after that, they had taken his ashes to Fisherman’s Wharf in Tamsui. As they approached the coast, the children had worried that the wind was blowing too hard and would scatter their father’s ashes all over the place. To their surprise, however, no sooner had they gone out to sea than the wind had calmed and the sun had shone forth, glittering magnificently on the waves. They had scattered the ashes just fine, and on the way back to shore the wind had gradually picked back up to the point that water from the waves was splashing onto the deck of the boat. The children had told her, “His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche picked a good day for this.” They had then expressed their gratitude for the guru’s blessings and liberation of their father. She repented for not having believed in cause and effect, as well as for not having been mindful of impermanence. By the time the situation had arisen, it was too late for regrets.

During last week’s puja His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had admonished, “A certain disciple has spoiled her children to the point that they dyed their hair blonde, and believes that she no longer has anything to do with their upbringing because she is divorced.” She had known that she was the irresponsible disciple that the guru was referring to, yet she had not stood up. Instead she had just sat there as if nothing were wrong. She repented for having acted so disrespectfully toward the guru. She also repented that when she was little and growing up on the coast, she had often accompanied her dad to catch sea creatures and bring them back home, where her mother would then cook them for the family to eat. She had killed mice with mouse traps, and for this she repented. She repented that she’d had three abortions, thereby creating karma from killing. She had intentionally and unintentionally murdered countless sentient beings, creating karma from these evil acts in her ignorance, and for this she repented. After taking refuge, she had not been earnest in her efforts to amend her behavior, thinking that she could obtain blessings simply by attending the pujas. She had not performed her morning and evening prayers at fixed times and had not acted in accordance with the guru’s teachings, instead continuing blindly along her own path without heeding the advice of others. She had lived self-righteously and brought much suffering to others, and for this she repented. She further repented for not having praised His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for his merits, causing her family members to miss out on the opportunity and causal condition to practice Buddhism in the guru’s footsteps.

It is not easy to encounter a guru and to listen to the Dharma. She felt grateful, and cherished this rare and auspicious causal condition. She hoped that she could learn Buddhism from His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for many lifetimes to come, and would work hard to amend her behavior. In order to repay the debt of gratitude she owed the guru, her parents, and sentient beings, she would put the Dharma taught by the guru into practice in her daily life and make pure offerings of body, speech, and mind to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Finally, she prayed that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would have good health, continue to turn the Dharma wheel, and maintain an eternal presence in the world, and that the Drikung Kagyu Lineage would flourish forever.

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

“Today I will be performing the Chod. The full name of this Dharma method is the ‘The Dharma of Rapid Attainment of Two Resources by Way of Offering One’s Body and Breaking Away from All Afflictions of Reincarnation.’ ‘Offering one’s body’ means giving one’s body to sentient beings. ‘Breaking away’ refers to severing ties with all afflictions that would lead to reincarnation; the ‘two types of resources’ refer to good fortune and wisdom. ‘Rapid attainment’ means that if one specializes in cultivating this Dharma method, one is sure to attain enlightenment in this lifetime. Not just anyone can learn this Dharma method, because it is part of Tantra. Even if someone were to transmit the Dharma method of a certain Dharma protector or yidam to you, the Chod is not likely to be transmitted to you. If someone does transmit it to you, it will be very difficult for you to master it, because there are too many prerequisites involved.”

Next, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the auspicious Chod of the Drikung Kagyu Order. Afterward, the guru compassionately resumed bestowing precious Dharma teachings upon the attendees.

“Before performing the Dharma Protector Ritual I should explain some things to you, because many people do not have a very clear understanding of what a ‘Dharma protector’ signifies in Tibetan Buddhism. Actually, Dharma protector rituals are practiced in every Chinese Exoteric Buddhist temple, too, including the rituals of Dharma Protector Skanda and Dharma Protector Sangharama. The Dharma protectors of Exoteric Buddhism are Common, meaning that every temple can practice the same Dharma protector rituals. Dharma Protector Skanda primarily protects the Dharma and the temples, so if people in a particular temple do not practice it, but instead just go after fame and fortune by building and selling things every day, then Dharma Protector Skanda will not come to them. Dharma Protector Skanda is a celestial emperor of the Heavenly Realm, sworn to protect the Three Jewels.

“The Dharma Protector Sangharama with which everyone is familiar is represented by Lord Guan, which is a mundane Dharma protector. That is, one that still resides in this world and has not yet become liberated from the force of reincarnation. However, because they have vowed to protect the Dharma, these Dharma protectors continue to practice. On the surface Lord Guan might appear to be the only Sangharama Dharma protector there is, but in fact there are many such Dharma protectors keeping watch over the Three Jewels. In the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows it is mentioned that practitioners are protected by numerous Ghost Kings; when a Ghost King or naga has an affinity with a certain practitioner, it will protect him or her. Of import is whether or not this person is a practitioner; if he or she is not, then the Ghost King will not offer any protection. Actually, there are some lineages in Tibetan Buddhism in whose monasteries Lord Guan’s Dharma texts are practiced. Many people do not know this, but I have followed His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang for more than twenty years, and have learned a lot about a great many things.

“Many people think Lord Guan belongs to China, but that is not true. When Princess Wencheng got married in Tibet, she brought Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism to Tibet, and much of Tibetan culture dates back to that time period. The Four Major Orders of Tibetan Buddhism—Yellow, Red, White, and Flower—all practice Dharma protector rituals, and their most important task is to protect Buddhist practitioners who have truly given rise to the Bodhicitta. Such practitioners will be protected from many types of accidents, and when they go into retreat they must implore the Dharma protectors to guard their retreat huts. In Tibetan Buddhism there are both Common and Uncommon Dharma protectors. The rituals of the Common Dharma protectors, such as Mahākāla, are practiced in all of the Four Major Orders; however, each Order uses a different Dharma text for Mahākāla. Some practice the Two-Armed version, while some practice the Four-Armed version, depending on the lineage.

“The Uncommon Dharma protector ritual practiced and transmitted within the Drikung Kagyu Order is that of the Tara Achi. I transmit the Dharma text of Dharma Protector Achi to all of my disciples. In the Nyingma Order there are nine major Dharma protectors, and Dharma Protector Achi is one of them. Besides her and Mahākāla, the Drikung Kagyu Order also has Dharma Protector Zhima, whose ritual is not performed or transmitted publicly. The short, red-faced Dharma protector in the video about Vajra Dances is Zhima. Any monastic or Rinpoche who genuinely gives rise to the Bodhicitta will automatically receive protection from Zhima without having to cultivate or even think about his Dharma method. There are three Dharma protectors in the Drikung Kagyu Order, of which Achi is the most special. This is because she was Lord Jigten Sumgön’s grandmother, and her vow was to protect all disciples of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage.

“In the Dharma text it is mentioned that Achi possesses her own Pure Land, and according to the Exoteric Buddhist sutras this means she has attained Buddhahood. In other words, if practitioners specialize in practicing the ritual of Dharma Protector Achi in this lifetime, then they can be reborn in Achi’s Pure Land. There are two main types of Dharma protectors in Tibetan Buddhism: The wise and the mundane. Mundane Dharma protectors can include the ghosts of the ancestors of certain monastics, Rinpoches, or lay practitioners. They can also be local mountain deities or ghosts that are subdued or have an affinity with certain practitioners, thus later becoming the practitioners’ Dharma protectors.

“These mundane Dharma protectors place a great deal of importance on rituals. If the slightest mistake is made while performing a ritual, such as performing it in the wrong location, they will be unhappy. You cannot perform a Dharma protector’s ritual anywhere you want unless the ritual belongs to a wise Dharma protector. For example, Achi is a Dharmakaya Bodhisattva that has attained the Eighth Ground or higher, so of course one can become attuned to her no matter where her ritual is practiced. Mundane Dharma protectors have many rituals, and one must always carry their Dharma photos while performing them. Furthermore, no Dharma protector’s ritual can be performed if the practitioner has not first received oral transmission of it. Why is it so strict? It is because both mundane and wise Dharma protectors have large retinues, and their members all have very strong human habits and characteristics. If they have descended into the Ghost Realm or the Māra Realm, then they possess a great deal of hatred, and will only yield to a certain Rinpoche, practitioner, or lineage.

“When a certain Buddhist college first opened, all of the lamas hoped that it would flourish. To that end, they all began to practice Dharma protectors’ rituals. After a few months of this, they found they were experiencing frequent differences of opinion and were often squabbling amongst themselves, so they asked my advice. I told them that their problems stemmed from the fact that each lama was practicing a different Dharma protector’s ritual. This is a true story; the ones quarreling were not the Dharma protectors themselves, but the members of their retinues.

“For example, Dharma Protector Achi’s retinue includes the Five Sisters of Longevity and the Earth-Walking Mother, among others. Furthermore, Achi herself has four different Dharma protectors. Thus, you should not think that after having received transmission of a Dharma protector’s ritual, it will be effective if you practice it every day; the Dharma protector will only come to you if the practitioner who transmitted the Dharma to you is one who has attained the essence of the Dharma within the lineage. Dharma protectors come to you in order to help you get rid of hindrances to your Buddhist practice, and to prevent you from suffering an untimely death; they will not fight for you or help you solve your worldly problems. You must not think Dharma Protector Achi can help your children to get better test scores; such does not happen. It would only work if I chanted it, not you.

“My child once told me that a friend of his friend—someone my son did not know personally—had come up out of the blue and asked him, ‘Your father practices Tantrism, right?’ When my child replied that this was indeed the case, that person went on to say, ‘Your father is really amazing; you are surrounded by Dharma protectors he sent.’ As a result, my child does not dare get into trouble, because all these mighty Dharma protectors are watching his every move.

“Many people are superstitious; they think practicing a Dharma protector’s ritual every day will cause that Dharma protector to watch over them and solve all of their problems. You need to gain a clear understanding of what a Dharma protector’s job is. The ritual of a Dharma protector will only be of any use if you are following a guru, have made a firm resolve to leave reincarnation and the mundane world without looking back on your worldly affairs, and have decided to renounce the desire for fame and fortune. Otherwise, it will only provide you with a tiny amount of protection, such as warding your home against ghosts. Therefore, if any more disciples show a lack of faith by complaining to me of having seen a ghost at home, I’ll ask them to leave. With Dharma Protector Achi by your side, how can there be ghosts around? If you say you’ve seen a ghost, you’re a living ghost yourself; as such, you belong to the ghost category, which shows that you have neither amended your ways nor practiced diligently.

“Why does Tibetan Buddhism require that Dharma protector rituals be performed on a daily basis? In Exoteric Buddhism you have to perform morning and evening prayers. The former are meant to remind you that you are a monastic, and so should live that day as a monastic lives; the purpose of the latter is to remind you to think over the day’s events and ponder whether or not you acted as a monastic should. If you did not, then you should repent. Generally speaking, people who are able to become monastics in this lifetime do not have very perfect fortune. Lots of people would swear at me for saying so and ask, ‘Isn’t it said that one has to have good fortune before one can become a monastic?’ If you truly had good fortune, then you would have been born as a Cakravartin such as a lineage throne holder or a Rinpoche. Monastics do not have very good fortune in this lifetime due to their lack of the resources of ‘fortune’ and ‘wisdom.’

“Having the causes and conditions to become a monastic in this lifetime is simply the result of having performed the Eight Precepts Retreat in a past life and done a good job of keeping the precepts. However, if you have had such a causal condition, then you must cherish it all the more, because being a monastic means breaking away from many worldly afflictions. As such, you must concentrate even harder on the important matter of becoming liberated from life and death instead of worrying about which Dharma method or Rinpoche might be beneficial to you. If you do not have the causal condition, then meeting with a throne holder will not be of any use. This is because throne holders help Rinpoches, not ordinary believers.

“The reason I am speaking about Dharma protectors today is that I want you all to stop being superstitious. Don’t think you are the Invincible Iron King just because you have practiced a Dharma protector’s ritual. If you have not kept the precepts and given rise to your aspiration, then no Dharma protectors will be able to protect you, no matter how powerful they might be. You will only obtain their protection if you are behaving correctly. Simply put, if you were to rob a bank or murder someone, the police would not protect you; the Dharma protectors are the same way. They might not arrest you, but they sure won’t protect you, either. As the name implies, a ‘protector’ protects, while ‘Dharma’ refers to all those who practice in accordance with it. Dharma protectors are not the ones who see a thousand miles, hear wherever the wind blows, or drive away ghosts as the folks tales would have you believe; if Dharma protectors possess awe-inspiring power, then they do not need to drive ghostly beings away, because ghosts will automatically retreat in fear until they are far, far away.” Speaking very humbly, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche added, “I am just an ordinary practitioner, yet even I was able to cause those ghosts in Japan to run away; can you imagine the power of a Dharma protector?”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued. “Dharma protectors do not scare any sentient beings away; they use their compassion and awe-inspiring power to subdue them. Thus, you must not be superstitious when you practice a Dharma protector’s ritual. Rather, you must take a close look at yourself to see whether or not you have formed an aspiration, and be clear about whether you are practicing the ritual of a mundane Dharma protector or that of a wise Dharma protector. If the former, then you absolutely must not practice it when you visit other people’s Buddhist centers, or else you will suffer dire consequences. I don’t mean that bad things will happen to the Buddhist centers; rather, they will happen to you. The reasoning for this is, how would your Dharma protector allow different kinds of protectors to enter? Furthermore, if the mundane Dharma protector that you are not supposed to practice entered, then your own Dharma protector would be very angry.

“Don’t think that no troubles will come to you as long as you practice Dharma protectors’ rituals. I have seen many people get in trouble by practicing to the wrong Dharma protectors. You must not be superstitious. Exoteric Buddhism only teaches you to chant the Buddha’s name, but not to worship Dharma Protector Skanda and Dharma Protector Sangharama or practice their rituals; this is for fear that you might become superstitious. In general, people are greedy and tend to think that whatever they do, Dharma protectors will always come to protect them. For this reason, in Chinese Exoteric Buddhism believers are not taught to practice these rituals. They are simply taught to chant the Buddha’s name, because people of Han ethnicity are quite greedy. They are fearless except for the fear of going broke; as such, they dare to do anything for money.

“Dharma protector rituals are not carelessly transmitted, nor should they be carelessly practiced. Rather, you should be clear about which type of Dharma protector’s ritual you are practicing: Mundane or wise? You should also have a distinct idea of why exactly you are practicing it. In Achi’s Dharma text it is clearly stated that the purpose of practicing the Dharma protector’s ritual is to help us carry out Buddhist activities and vows—that is, to realize our aspirations. It makes no mention, however, of helping us with any of our mundane affairs. Thus, if you practice from a Dharma text that mentions mundane affairs, then the Dharma protector whose ritual you are practicing is mundane. If that is the case, then you must be very careful about where you practice it; it would not be very good to practice it just anywhere you want. The last thing I’ll say on this matter for now is that you must all be very clear on this subject so as not to cause problems for yourselves.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the disciples in a performance of the Dharma Protector Achi Ritual and the Dedication Ritual, and then continued to bestow precious Dharma teachings.

“Tibetan Buddhism is divided into four major lineages: Nyingma, Kagyu, Gelug, and Sakya. In the final analysis, however, all of them hope for sentient beings to become liberated from life and death and attain Buddhahood as soon as possible. The Sakya Order is also called the Flower Sect. Its throne holders are lay practitioners, and the throne is inherited by each succeeding generation. The uniqueness of the Sakya Order lies in the fact that its lay throne holders lead a fourfold assembly, and historically it has enjoyed great influence in Tibet. According to history, the Gelug Order was founded by Tsongkhapa after he had learned everything perfectly in the Drikung Kagyu Order. The Nyingma Order was based upon the Buddhism introduced by Padmasambhava, and can be traced back to the Katok Order, when the Venerable Atisa brought Exoteric Buddhism to Tibet.

“The Kagyu Order is rather unique in that it was introduced to Tibet from India. Its founding gurus include two Indians named Tilopa and Naropa, both of whom were lay practitioners. Prior to practicing Buddhism, one was a fisherman and the other was a hunter. Naropa transmitted the Dharma to the Venerable Marpa—a Tibetan—who has been called the Great Translator because he translated many Dharma texts from Sanskrit into Tibetan. Marpa, also a lay practitioner journeyed to India three times. Each time, he brought a large amount of gold with him with which to implore for the Dharma. Later there was the Venerable Milarepa, who also remained a lay practitioner despite never getting married. After him came Master Gampopa, who had been an ordinary practitioner of Tibetan medicine before practicing Buddhism, and had been married with children. At the time an epidemic had wreaked havoc on Tibet, taking the lives of his wife and children. Master Gampopa felt a profound grief as a result, so he went to seek an audience with the Venerable Milarepa.

“Before coming to the Kagyu Order, Master Gampopa had practiced in the Nyingma Order. After meeting the Venerable Milarepa, he decided to become a monastic, and eventually took on many disciples. The Kagyu Order is said to be divided into the four primary schools and the eight secondary schools, but this does not actually refer to the size or population of the lineages or the importance of their Dharma methods. Rather, the four disciples to whom Master Gampopa transmitted the Dharma directly are referred to the four primary schools, and the eight disciples that they transmitted the Dharma to in turn were called the eight secondary schools. Master Gampopa transmitted the Dharma to Phagmodrupa, who later transmitted it to Lord Jigten Sumgön, thereby starting the Drikung Kagyu Lineage.

“There is a saying in history that ‘the mountains are Drikung Mountains, and the dams are Drikung Dams!’ This came from the fact that during Lord Jigten Sumgön’s lifetime, he took on 180,000 ordained disciples to practice Buddhism in his footsteps. There are many sub-lineages within the Kagyu Order, including the Drikung Kagyu, the Karma Kagyu, the Drukpa Kagyu, the Taklung Kagyu, and so on. They only differ in terms of which gurus lead them, where they are located, and what their causal conditions are. Due to some regional differences, their tormas and rituals vary a bit, too. However, every single sub-lineage of the Kagyu Order transmits the Mahamudra. In order to receive transmission of it you must first have fulfilled the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices; you can’t learn it just because you want to.

“The most important of the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices is the last one—the Guru Yoga. Many people think they can practice it on their own just fine, but that is not true. Without a guru to orally transmit the Guru Yoga to you, it will be useless no matter how many prostrations you perform. According to tradition, after practicing the Guru Yoga to perfect completion while in retreat, you then need a guru to perform the Fire Offering for you. In ancient times, if a monastic wished to practice the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices, he or she had to go into retreat for three years, and this is still the case within the Drikung Kagyu Order. During those three years the practitioner may not leave the designated location or monastery, nor may he or she shave his or her head. This is why you sometimes see monastics whose hair is tied in a bun; they have just finished their three-year retreat. When can they shave their heads again? They must wait until after their guru has performed the Fire-Offering Ritual for them. There is no set number of times that the Fire Offering must be performed; it all depends on the practitioner’s causal condition. Afterward, the guru transmits the yidam to the practitioner, and only then may he or she get a haircut.

“Many people believe in the myth that Tibetan Buddhism can only be learned from Tibetans. I don’t dare criticize, but no matter how you look at it, Tibetans have somewhat different habits and thought processes than we do, and sometimes their logic might be at odds with ours. Even if a Tibetan might be able to speak Chinese, if he or she does not understand how Chinese people think, then it opens up the possibility for a lot of confusion to occur while transmitting the Dharma. This is due to mutual misunderstanding, feeling too embarrassed to ask questions, and so on. You sometimes have the superstition that Tibetans are quite formidable, but I have practiced within the Drikung Kagyu Order for decades and I know that there have only been an extremely few truly accomplished practitioners.

“If you want to practice Buddhism, then you must conform to a great many things. Don’t think you can attain enlightenment simply by running off to India for a few years. I’ll be frank with you: You are not Tibetans, and there are many Dharma methods which they would not transmit to you lightly. These include the Dharma protectors’ rituals, because they are their most important Dharmas. If you want to take refuge, they will let you; if you wish to learn, they will transmit a few things to you. However, even if they transmit such Dharma methods as the Yogatantra or the Anuttarayogatantra to you, they will not explain them, so you will not be able to master them. When His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang transmitted the Dharma to me, he told me, ‘Even though every Rinpoche has this Dharma text, not all of them know how to use it. Now I’ll teach you how.’

“Many people feel extremely awed whenever they encounter a practitioner who has been reincarnated in Tibet a few times. I once met a practitioner who had reincarnated fourteen times, and I myself have reincarnated perhaps twenty-four times. None of this means anything, so you should not believe such nonsense. The most important lifetime is this one; past lives are nothing but history. If practitioners truly practiced well in their past lives, then they will achieve attainment much faster in this one and encounter fewer hindrances. If they do not practice Buddhism in this lifetime, then nothing that happened in the past matters. I often see people who cultivated quite well in previous lifetimes, but not in this one.

“Now I’ll mention a special characteristic of reincarnation. In reference to a practitioner’s emanation in body, speech, and mind, it is said that some practitioners have twenty-three emanation reincarnations. Thus, someone might be one of the speech emanations, or 1/23rd of the reincarnated practitioner. Only added together with the other 22/23rds can the entire speech emanation be considered whole. Why do they say there are twenty-three of them? There is certainly a reason; perhaps these twenty-three emanations will reincarnate at the same time to help the Order and sentient beings, or perhaps they take turns emanating in this world. There are many possibilities, and only the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas understand how this works.

“His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang once told me that last year the leaders of the Four Great Orders met to form a resolution to stop authenticating reincarnations. If a practitioner was authenticated in the past, then that authentication would hold; however, no new authentications would be issued. In other words, anyone whose name was previously registered will continue to be counted as authenticated, but anyone else will be regarded as a fraud. You must stop being superstitious about this; understand your Buddhist practice clearly, and stop making mistake after mistake. I was able to encounter His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang as soon as I began learning Tibetan Buddhism because I have some good fortune in this lifetime. In the process, many others have tried to get me to go over to their Orders, but I believe it is my affinity to follow the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, because he speaks Chinese. Otherwise, communication between us would be very difficult.

“Although many Tibetans speak Chinese, their logic is very different from ours. For example, we do things in a straight order—one, two, three, four, then five—whereas they might jump straight from one to five, saying that they act according to causal conditions. If they continued to have problems, they would perform a Dharma protector’s ritual. We do things completely differently, which is why we are somewhat estranged from each other. It is possible that I met His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang in this lifetime because I have a very profound affinity ties us together. Moreover, it just so happened that the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang speaks Chinese and has spent time in America. As a result, we communicate in a mixture of Cantonese Mandarin, Tibetan Mandarin, Tibetan English, and Cantonese English.

“You should not think that just because someone understands Mandarin he or she will be able to understand the Mandarin that you speak. This is because the Mandarin spoken in Taiwan is different from that spoken in the Mainland; the terms and usages they learn over there are different from what we learn here. You think they should be able to understand you when you talk, but they actually can’t. For example, whenever I report to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, I repeat it two or three times until I see by the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s facial expression that he has indeed understood me. This is because our communication involves a mix of a few different cultures. Don’t think that just because he and I both speak Mandarin it means we should be able to communicate easily; it does not work this way. His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang learned Mandarin in China, so when you speak Taiwanese Mandarin he has to first translate it mentally into Beijing Mandarin and then into a Tibetan mode of thought before he can react.

“Many people run up to Tibetans and start saying a ton of things to them. They listen to you, and they might even smile and nod their heads, but finally they will ask the person next to them, ‘What did he say?’ Thus, you have an easier time communicating with me.”

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

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Updated on August 31, 2014