His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – May 25, 2014

Disciples and believers at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Taipei listened reverently to Dharma recordings of His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings on June 15th and June 29th of 2003.

Before the puja began, a disciple shared with everyone how her dad was helped by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and liberated by the Chod.

It was engraved in her memory that her dad had brought meat home for her mom to cook practically every day, and as a result there had never been any lack of meat dishes on dinner table. On top of that, three different types of animals were traditionally sacrificed and served for consumption on the second day and the sixteenth day of each month, New Year’s Day, and other festivities. Her dad had been heavily addicted to cigarettes, and would begin smoking in the morning every day. Apart from whenever he was eating or drinking water, he would always have a cigarette in his mouth. On multiple occasions her mom had urged him to cut down, to no avail. They had all worried over her dad’s health, but he would simply tell them not to, claiming that he was very healthy because he exercised every day.

In 2003, her sixty-four-year-old dad had suddenly become paralyzed and collapsed upon the ground. After being taken by ambulance to the hospital, it had been determined that he’d suffered a brain hemorrhage and must undergo emergency surgery. Just as His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, impermanence and karma from cause and effect can manifest in terrifying ways. About every two or three weeks after returning home, her dad had developed symptoms similar to epilepsy, so had had to be rushed back to the hospital. There the doctor had told them that the symptoms had resulted from electrical discharge, a phenomenon commonly experienced by patients who undergo brain surgery. This had made her family feel extremely distressed. Acting on a referral given by a Dharma brother, the disciple had sought an audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. No sooner had she kneeled down than the guru had compassionately asked her what the matter was. After she had described her dad’s situation, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had compassionately said, “Your dad’s stroke was the result of karma from killing. Stop serving him meat; if he continues eating it, he will suffer another stroke. Not only that, but one of the main arteries to your dad’s heart has begun to clog and could rupture at any time. If it does, the consequences will be quite severe.” His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s depiction had even been more detailed than what they had heard in the hospital, where the doctor had only casually mentioned that her father’s heart was weak and that his blood was not flowing smoothly. Next, after compassionately asking after her father’s name and zodiac sign, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had begun to bless him. After that, her dad had suffered no more seizures; nor had he needed to be taken to the emergency room again. She and her family were very grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

People who are bed-ridden for long periods of time generally produce a lot of phlegm, and this must frequently be suctioned out. As a result, they tend to have a high chance of developing aspiration pneumonia. Given that her dad had been such a heavy smoker, his bronchi and lung function had already been damaged for some time, so he tended to produce more phlegm than the average person. In March of 2009, her dad had had a persistent fever. He had appeared very uncomfortable, so they had rushed him to the hospital, and was admitted to the intensive care unit. X-rays had revealed that he was suffering from pulmonary edema, which needed to be drained. In addition, he had lung fibrosis and septicemia, so the hospital had issued a notice of critical condition. As a result, she had invited her family members to go with her to seek an audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. However, her mom and older brother had not possessed sufficient causal condition, so had not accompanied them. Nevertheless, she and the rest of the family had gone ahead and sought an audience with the guru, during which they had described her dad’s situation. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had compassionately blessed her dad and permitted the disciple to make grand prostrations during every Sunday’s puja. She was grateful to the guru for constantly giving the disciples opportunities to accumulate causal conditions and good fortune. After returning home, she had told her mom and older brother about how His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had compassionately bestowed blessings upon her dad. Later, after a successful surgery, her dad had quickly been transferred from the ICU to a normal hospital ward, and not long after had been released from hospital. The attending physician had explained to her mom that in his experience, two out of three people in her husband’s condition would not have had long to live. The disciple’s mom had praised the doctor for his medical expertise, but he had modestly said that he had simply done as he had learned in school and from experience. The exact same procedure had failed to save the lives of some other people; the fact that her husband had survived was thanks to God. After her mom had told her what the doctor had said, the disciple had been quick to tell her mother that the “god” the doctor had spoken of was in fact none other than His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Without the guru’s compassionate blessings, such a miracle could never have come to pass.

In early July of last year (2013), her dad had again suffered from a persistent high temperature as well as severe shortness of breath, and had been admitted to hospital. There he had been diagnosed with pneumonia and immediately sent to the ICU. Her mom had then been informed that her husband’s blood oxygen concentration was very low, and that the family must decide whether or not to sign a consent form to allow intubation or a tracheostomy. Although the disciple had repeated what His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said about intubations and tracheostomies—that they caused great suffering in patients—her mother had been unwilling to let go. Thus, hoping that her husband could continue living one day at a time, her mom had signed the consent form. From that point forward, the disciple’s father had been forced to endure the invasive and excruciating treatment consisting of a urinary catheter, nasogastric tube, and tracheostomy tube, described by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche as “the simultaneous onslaught of the three tubes.”

In late July, the attending physician had told them that there was a problem with her dad’s heart which had done damage to his other organs and was causing them to fail. As such, the family should prepare themselves, for her dad could pass away at any time. Upon hearing this, her mom had been so devastated that she had been unable to sleep that night; thoughts of a loved one disappearing from this world had filled her heart with sadness. The disciple had again reminded her mom that the only person in this world who could help her dad was His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. She was grateful to the guru, for this time her mom had actually agreed to go with her to seek an audience. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had spoken before of the importance of giving alms and making offerings, so the disciple had grasped this opportunity to make an offering on behalf of her dad so that he could have the causal condition and good fortune to obtain the guru’s help. As they had knelt before His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the guru’s amazing powers of perception had revealed that her mom’s suffering was a result of being unable to let go of her dad. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had spoken with her mom with very patiently for a long time, asking what the doctor had said about her dad’s condition. Then the guru had said that the right ventricle of her dad’s heart had been damaged to the point of failure, and that this had caused his other organs to follow suit. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had described her father’s condition more clearly than the doctor had, and had told them that their insistence that her dad’s life be saved was causing him to die a terribly slow and painful death from edema. The guru had gone on to ask her mom, “If it were you lying there in bed, hooked up to a urinary catheter, nasogastric tube, and tracheostomy tube, would you feel comfortable? If so, then I’ll save your husband’s life right away.” At this, her mom had been taken aback, because she had never before considered whether insisting on saving her husband’s life had truly been for his own good, or had instead simply prolonged his suffering. Then His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had compassionately blessed the disciple’s dad and instructed the disciple to let things go naturally and follow her mom’s lead in all matters related to her dad. She was grateful to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for understanding the suffering of sentient beings.

After returning home, her mom had thought about His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s words. Having let go and decided that she no longer wished for her husband to continue suffering, her own pain had lessened, and that had enabled her to fall asleep that night. The disciple knew that all of this was thanks to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. She had asked the hospital in advance to notify them if her dad’s condition worsened so that he could be brought home to die in peace. A little after ten o’clock in the evening of August 12th of last year (2013), the hospital had called to inform them that her dad’s blood pressure had begun to drop and that a family member should go there. The disciple had taken with her a Dharma photo of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Every time her dad opened his eyes, she had shown it to him, all the while whispering into his ear, “You must remember His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Dharma name.” She had been well aware of how important this was, because only the guru was powerful enough to help him. When she had arrived at the hospital, her dad’s pulse was around sixty-five beats per minute. After taking his blood pressure and a reading of his blood oxygen level, a nurse had told her that they would keep him under observation for a while longer; if he remained stable, they could go back home. The nurse had then left with the nursing cart, and the disciple had continued to tell her dad that he must keep His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Dharma name in mind. She had then placed a nectar pill in her dad’s mouth. Before long, she had watched as her dad’s pulse had dropped second by second to fifty, then to forty, then to thirty, and then to twenty; finally, it had flat-lined. Her dad’s body had gone completely limp, and she had known that he had passed away. At the time she had not felt an ounce of sadness or fear; her dad had been serenely liberated with the help of His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate blessings, so he no longer needed to suffer. This had given her an even greater appreciation of how important it is to make offerings. By making one on her father’s behalf, she had helped him to accumulate good fortune, and that had allowed him to obtain His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate blessings. These in turn had shortened the duration of her dad’s pain, and he had very quickly been liberated from the suffering that comes from being ill.

She had gone to the nurses’ station and signed the necessary forms to release her dad from hospital, and made arrangements for him to be taken home by ambulance. Her mom had then informed the local funeral service in Yingko. Due to the hot and muggy August weather, with temperatures climbing to around 36º Celsius during the day and rarely falling below 30º Celsius at night, the family had worried that the undertaker might not be willing to wait a full eight hours before committing her dad’s remains to cold storage. The disciple was grateful to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, because they had been able to get her dad back home and symbolically remove his respirator by one o’clock in the morning; as such, the undertaker moved her dad to cold storage at nine o’clock the next morning. The disciple was also grateful to her Dharma brother for caring and for providing such valuable advice. They had placed a Dharma photo of His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche on a high table behind her dad’s head. While kneeling and looking at the guru’s Dharma photo, they had chanted the Great Six-Syllable Mantra. After eight hours, her dad had appeared quite serene, as if he were merely asleep. In addition, no livor mortis had appeared. She knew that all of this had been the result of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate blessings.

She repented for not having thoroughly put into practice the auspicious Dharma teachings bestowed by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, thereby causing her dad to have insufficient causal conditions and good fortune after passing away. It had just so happened that the guru was overseas at the time, so she’d had to wait until the following Saturday to hurriedly seek an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and implore for her dad to be liberated. Knowing that her dad had very heavy karma from killing and insufficient good fortune, she had made an offering on his behalf in the hopes that he could then have enough causal conditions and good fortune to be liberated by the guru. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had compassionately agreed to liberate her dad during the Chod Puja to be held the following day. That Sunday, on their way out the door to participate in the puja, the disciple had told her mom, “This afternoon Dad can be liberated by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious Chod.” After the puja, upon returning home, her mom had told them in a very astonished voice the unfathomable news that despite having been kept at minus ten degrees Celsius, her dad’s originally sallow complexion had turned pink that afternoon. The disciple well knew that this was an auspicious sign that had appeared after her dad had been liberated by the auspicious Chod performed by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Even the undertaker had expressed amazement at seeing the rosy color in her dad’s cheeks. The day before the funeral, the funeral service personnel had moved her dad’s body from cold storage into a wooden coffin. As they watched his frozen face, it had gone an even deeper color of pink, and his skin had appeared smooth and pliant, completely unlike someone who had died and then been frozen for sixteen days. Furthermore, his complexion had looked better than it had when he had been sick and bedridden; his cheeks were no longer sunken, causing him to look much younger than he had when he was ill. After the cremation, a distinct, smooth round hole had appeared in her father’s skull. The bone had been very white with auspicious pink, green, and yellow patches. While in mourning, her family had not felt any grief whatsoever at having lost her dad; they had simply cherished his memory. She knew that all of this was thanks to the compassionate liberation bestowed by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

She was indebted to the guru’s great benevolence, for she knew that from this day forward she had no choice but to listen closely, act according to the guru’s teachings, and implement the Dharma in her daily life. She must maintain a constant vigilance against becoming lax, and grasp this auspicious causal condition to learn Buddhism from His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in this lifetime so that she would not have come to this world in vain. Finally, she prayed that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would have good health, and that the guru’s Dharma activities would have an eternal presence in the world, benefiting all sentient beings in the Six Realms.

Next, a second disciple shared with all of the attendees her story of how she had had the causal condition to take refuge in His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and of how the guru had helped her father.

In 2007, her younger sister (also a disciple) had been at home cooking one evening and accidentally set the deep fryer on fire. In her hurry to extinguish it, she had thrown the fryer into the sink, resulting in second-degree burns to her right hand. After hearing about the incident, a Dharma brother living nearby had asked them if they would like to seek an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. They had listened to the Dharma brother and learned of how the guru had helped sentient beings; however, their intention had only been to politely hear the Dharma brother out. This disrespect and lack of faith had caused them to miss an opportunity to seek an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

While her little sister was undergoing the medical procedure of reconstructive skin grafting, the Dharma brother had bumped into them and continuously told them various stories of how His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee had helped sentient beings. Still, they had simply smiled and listened politely. The following year, the Dharma brother had invited them to participate in the Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness of the Drikung Kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism. Too polite to refuse, the disciple and her little sister had agreed to go. The Dharma brother had then asked them yet again if they would like to seek an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and this time they had said “yes.”

Before they sought an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the Dharma brother had reminded them over and over to be respectful. The disciple had thought to herself, How do I show my respect? Later, the Dharma brother had given her three DVDs. Even after watching the first two, she had irreverently thought to herself, What does all this have to do with my seeking an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche? After watching the third DVD, she had inexplicably burst into tears. In her surprise she had wondered, Why can’t I stop crying? Later that day she had come to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to seek an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. After seeing how the guru employed all different methods—including merry laughter and angry scolding—to help sentient beings, she had felt both shocked and afraid. When she and her little sister had approached to seek audience, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had asked them why they were there. Her sister had raised her right hand and told the guru of how she had burned it. Smiling, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “This is a minor matter.” The guru had then blessed her hand by blowing on it, and even given her a bottle of nectar water and carefully taught her how to use it. Then His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had turned to the disciple and asked, “So why are you here?” Suddenly her mind had gone completely blank. Nervously she had said, “I would like to practice Buddhism.” Smiling, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had replied, “Come back once your husband has given his consent.”

After returning home, she had raised the subject with her husband. He had immediately said, “Okay! I agree!” A day later she had bumped into the Dharma brother who had referred her to seek and audience with the guru, so she had happily reported that her husband had agreed with her proposal to practice Buddhism. The Dharma brother had advised her that it would be best if her husband would give the news to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in person. Half a year later her husband had finally been willing to accompany her to seek an audience with the guru. There he had said, “I give my consent for my wife to participate in the pujas.” His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had compassionately replied, “Don’t quarrel over her coming to learn Buddhism; that would be bad for you.” Her husband had nodded, and the guru had said to her, “You do not possess the causal condition to become a monastic in this lifetime, so you must take good care of your household.” She had nodded her head and promised to do so. Later, she and her little sister had gone together to take refuge in His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. She was grateful to the compassionate Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for knowing so early on that her husband would be opposed to her Buddhist practice, and for using that auspicious opportunity and condition to remove the hindrance.

Next she shared a story of how His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had helped her father. Her father had been a farmer as well as a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and a Taoist priest. Having grown up on a farm, he had harmed countless sentient beings. Her grandfather had also been a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine; her father and uncle had inherited his traditional Chinese medical clinic. Her father had once told her that he had become apprenticed to a Taoist priest because someone had mysteriously cast frequent spells upon her when she was little.

Three years ago, her father had frequently complained of stomach pain. Her younger sister, who had normally taken it upon herself to care for him, had taken him to various hospitals to have gastroscopies done, but after half a year of these the doctors had still not been able to determine the cause of his pain. Her father had occasionally hurt so badly that he had wanted to kill himself. She and her sister had told him about how His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had helped sentient beings. They had asked their father whether he would like to seek an audience with the guru or not. At first he had been unwilling, because he only had faith in himself; he had thought taking some medicine coupled with his own methods would be enough to solve his problem, so did not see the point in seeing anyone about it. This had lasted until one time when he had been in so much pain he had not been able to stand it. Her little sister had grasped the opportunity to again ask him if he wished to seek an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to implore for help, and this time their father had acquiesced.

When they had gone together to seek an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the guru had asked her father, “What’s wrong?” Her father had answered, “My stomach is in constant pain, but no one can figure out why.” Using a Dharma text to bless her father by patting him on the head with it, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had asked, “What do you do?” She and her sister had exclaimed simultaneously, “He’s a Taoist priest.” His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had then spoken to her father of the differences between Buddhism and Taoism, and had said, “My own father was a Taoist practitioner as well. It’s not that Taoism is bad; it’s that it cannot liberate you from the suffering of reincarnation. The reason you came seeking an audience with me today is that Patriarch Lu—Lu Dongbin—brought you here.” The guru had gone on to reveal that there was a problem with her father’s lungs, urged him to go vegetarian, and suggested that he participate in the Chod Puja. Her father had agreed that he would, even though he did not actually want to. The following week her father had gone to the hospital for a check-up, where he had immediately been discovered to have lymphoma of the stomach. While he was there they had also checked his lungs; after taking some medicine prescribed by the doctor, he had started coughing up thick black chunks of phlegm, nonstop. Soon afterward, to her great surprise, he had quit his fifty-three-year-old tobacco habit, and she had known that this was all thanks to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings.

After being diagnosed with cancer, her father had immediately started chemotherapy as recommended by the doctor, and was treated once every three weeks for a total of six treatments. Most chemotherapy patients tend to experience symptoms such as oral ulcer, low energy levels, and loss of appetite; however, having been blessed by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, her father had suffered none of these and had even been able to move around and stay active as normal. Right then and there, the disciple wished to repent to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, for she and her sister had not done a good job, causing their father to have no faith in Buddhism. While undergoing therapy, her father’s friends had constantly urged him to boost his sustenance by eating more meat, so he had eaten anything and everything he could. When she and her sister had mentioned that eating meat is unhealthy and can cause an increase of cancerous cells, their father had been displeased.

After returning home from his fourth chemotherapy treatment her father had suddenly cried out, complaining of pain in his stomach. Her little sister had taken him to the emergency room, where a doctor had said that his stomach had ruptured from top to bottom and required immediate surgery. The plan was to completely remove his stomach and connect his esophagus directly to his intestine. As such, if her father were to eat meat, then it would lodge in his esophagus and cause him discomfort and vomiting. Thus, from then on he could only eat vegetarian fare, as it was more readily digestible.

After her father had undergone the stomach resection, she and her sister had come to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to make an offering and give thanks to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having saved his life. The guru had specifically advised them, “Don’t mention the Buddhist Center or Buddhism to your father; he has no faith in it.” Afterwards they had followed the guru’s advice. Last month, her father had suddenly begun to complain again of chest pains. Her little brother had taken him to the emergency room, where a doctor had said that three arteries attached to his heart—one on the left and two on the right—were completely blocked. His condition had been critical, and at any time he could have gone into shock; however, because he had undergone chemotherapy, the doctor had been unwilling to risk performing a cardiac catheterization on him. The doctor had decided that the best course of action was to move her father to the ICU and keep him under observation until a further assessment could be made. She had mentioned this to another Dharma brother, who had then told her to visualize His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche placing blessings upon her father’s head. Two days later, the doctor had said that her father’s condition had stabilized enough for a cardiac catheterization to be done. She and her little sister had then given their father a precious nectar pill to take, telling him keep His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Dharma image in mind and that he had no need to worry, for the guru would help him.

After a successful operation, her father had come out of the operating room and waved her over to his side. In Taiwanese he had said, “I saw your Grandpa come to see me, and so did the Earth God. After that I saw a really, really bright light, and a man approached wearing a red hat. I kept staring at him, and he looked a lot like your Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.” Upon hearing this, she had immediately felt very grateful to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Regardless of how little faith her father had had in Buddhism, the guru had nevertheless bestowed blessings upon him, not only reducing her father’s physical suffering but also causing him to give rise to faith and respect with regard to the Dharma.

While in the ICU, she had shown her father a Dharma photo of His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Her father had said happily, “That’s him! Why is he wearing a hat? The last time I saw him, he didn’t have one on!” Overjoyed, she and her little sister had explained the hat in the photo was His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Dharma hat. Her father had smiled and said, “Your Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has saved my life twice now. Last time was when I had the operation on my stomach; this time it was during my heart surgery.” At that she had said, “Yet you still won’t do as you’re told?” Her father had smiled without answering, but she believed that he had begun to have faith in the Dharma. Having recovered quite well from surgery, he had soon been moved to a normal hospital ward. He would tell everyone he met how amazing Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s nectar pills were, and the disciple and her sister had hoped that their father could share with others his entire experience of having been helped by the guru. They had believed that their father had begun to have faith in His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche; at the same time, he had agreed to go with them to participate in the upcoming Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness to be held that August.

She was grateful for His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings, which had enabled her formerly unbelieving father to experience such a transformation and which had caused her to go from having no faith at all, to half believing, to now having complete faith. She believed to a profound degree that only a person with great wisdom such as His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche could understand the needs of sentient beings and employ the most suitable methods to help them. Her father had used to only believe in himself, thinking he was a capable doctor of traditional Chinese medicine and therefore filling his own prescriptions; he had likewise only believed in the Taoism that he had learned. However, after having undergone this second operation, he had finally given rise to faith in His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. She was grateful, for this change had been a result of the help bestowed upon her father by way of the guru’s great, awe-inspiring power.

She recalled that His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had once taught that “faith” is the mother of all merits, and that the disciples should practice with frequent observance of the impermanence of life. No one and nothing remains the same forever; everything we feel is a function of the mind. She repented for having been self-righteous, for not having had faith in the Dharma, for not having acted according to the guru’s teachings, and for not having carried out the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas. Right then and there, she repented before His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for the myriad evil acts she had committed in lifetimes both present and past, and vowed never to make the same mistakes again. Finally, she 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.

Next, the disciples and believers listened with reverence to Dharma recordings made of His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings on June 15th and 29th of 2003.

“Not everything ceases to exist after death. If you did not practice Buddhism or perform any great meritorious acts while you were alive, then Yama’s attendants will cause all manner of phenomena to manifest before you so that you will feel terrified and fall into the Three Evil Realms. There is no way of knowing when you will die, but when the time comes, only the Right Dharma will be of any use. The Venerable Padowa said that he hoped you could think frequently about death and impermanence, and accept firmly in your minds the fact that ‘death is on its way.’ Do not hypnotize yourselves into believing that you will live for a very long time; do not deceive yourselves. Refraining from committing evil is not difficult; you should be more compassionate and benevolent, do everything you can to help sentient beings, and from now on, spend more time contemplating the Emptiness and the true phenomena. Breaking away from evil acts is not difficult; the hard part is when you don’t realize that what you are doing is evil. The definition of evil includes not benefiting sentient beings, acting in a self-serving manner to satisfy your desires, not accepting the teachings and advice bestowed upon you by your guru, and refusing to immerse yourselves in the Dharma or implement it in your daily lives. To put it simply, acting according to the guru’s teachings is the beginning of all virtue and the end of all evil. Thus, neither practicing Buddhism nor breaking away from evil is difficult; the hard part is learning to believe in cause and effect. Anyone with a profound faith in cause and effect can absolutely break away from evil! You should be more compassionate and work harder to benefit sentient beings, but right now you are not able to achieve that, so all you can do is make offerings and give to charity. It’s not that your guru wants all that money. Whenever I mention that it is written in the sutras that one fourth of your money should go to offerings and charity, many people do not take me seriously; they think money is the most important thing in the world, and that they cannot live without it. If you believe the Buddha and the guru would rip you off, then you don’t need to keep coming here to learn Buddhism anymore. Even His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang stated publicly that making offerings is the most important Dharma method there is, and with my own eyes I once saw the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang ask a Khenpo to offer the mandala on his behalf so that he could listen to a certain Dharma. In order to listen to the Dharma, you first must accumulate good fortune. This comes from making offerings. You are not yet able to benefit sentient beings directly, but working hard at your jobs every day benefits sentient beings, too. In fact, every person and every job in society involves many sentient beings, either directly or indirectly; if you do your job well, then you can benefit a lot of people. By the same token, if you only think about how to get ahead and strike it rich, then you are liable to harm many, many sentient beings. Thus, one way of benefiting sentient beings is to work hard at your job.

“If we do not spend more time contemplating death, our minds will fall into chaos.  Therefore, when it comes to dealing with our friends and relatives, our enemies, and strangers, we will give rise to the three poisons of greed, hatred, and ignorance. If we do not contemplate death, then in our desire to grasp control over certain situations, our minds will become disordered. We will not listen to what the guru says, and we will be so covetous as to demand that our friends and family members obey us and that our spouses do as we say. This is the beginning of the poison that is called ‘greed.’ We will give rise to hatred toward our enemies, thinking that because we are surrounded by so many villains we must retaliate by putting them down verbally. We will always act in a cold and detached manner toward people we do not know, thinking that they are not worth our care or attention. Why are some public restrooms so filthy? It is because the next people to use the toilet there are strangers to us, so we think that we can get away with being sloppy without anyone being the wiser. As a result, we give rise to the poison of ignorance; that is, we do not accept the truth, and throw all notions of right and wrong to the birds.

“People who do not contemplate death are not Buddhist practitioners. They always occupy their minds with worldly affairs, thus giving rise to the three poisons of greed, hatred, and ignorance. When it comes to their wealth, food, and comfort, they are avaricious and insatiable. Fearing that they will lose everything, day after day they live in chaos for the sake of wealth, self-protection, and acquisition. As a result, they subject themselves to constant fear and suffering. You have all done these things; you have all had such experiences. To protect yourselves you have acted out of avarice and greed, and have taken life and eaten meat for the sake of nutrition. In order to make a bit more money there are teachers who play the stock market, doctors who sell medicine, and civil servants who engage in corrupt practices. All of these things cause us to give rise to fear and suffering. The Venerable Milarepa once asked the question, ‘When exactly will people be content with their wealth?’ While in the pursuit of wealth, our minds become tied down by stinginess and greed, making us unwilling to do good deeds. All of these things are signals that summon evil enemies to us, and these include those of the Human Realm. For example, if you receive a phone call from someone who is obviously trying to scam you, then why do you still send that person your money? It is because in your greed, you do not believe that you could ever be so unlucky; as a result, you get taken advantage of. Because you hope to gather financial wealth for yourself, you naturally become stingy and unwilling to make offerings or give to charity. As such, there is a limit to what virtuous karma you can create.

“Even if you work very hard in this lifetime to accumulate worldly wealth for your family, you will still die in the end. Thus, we must understand that worldly wealth and our family members are both things which would bait us into reincarnating. I once told of how an elderly woman on her deathbed had given rise to hatred toward her son’s lack of piety and her husband’s ill feelings toward her. Had I not performed the Phowa for her, she would have gone straight to Hell. If you think your children have not met your expectations despite all you have done for them, then you are certain to harbor a lot of resentment. This will definitely send you to Hell, and in the next life you will come back to collect the debt you feel they owe you. I often teach that your children’s filial piety—or lack thereof—is the result of cause and effect. It cannot be bought with money; no matter how much you spend to help them do business or buy houses, you still will have no effect on whether or not they act filially toward you. If such were possible, then you might as well spend a few million dollars to buy someone who will be filial to you! Why do you fret so much over your children? Is it just because they are your own flesh and blood? If obtaining a person’s filial piety were that easy, then you could just sign a contract to give someone a certain amount of money per year in exchange for his or her filial piety toward you. There are so many unemployed people in Taiwan these days, why settle for your children? People are ignorant; they think worldly wealth and family members are very important, so they fall hook, line, and sinker for the bait of reincarnation.

“Lord Jigten Sumgön also once said that no matter how stingy you are in this lifetime and no matter how diligently you work to save, all your financial wealth will eventually be exhausted like bubbles popping or dew evaporating from the grass. You should think about this long and hard! Use your minds; do not let yourselves be harmed or deceived by money. If we do not contemplate death, then our minds will become cluttered with thoughts of mundane affairs. Our attachments to our family members, enemies, and strangers will give rise to the three poisons of greed, hatred, and ignorance; as such, we will waste this lifetime away by clinging to peace and happiness, prestige, and so on. By ‘waste this lifetime,’ the Buddha meant that if you do not practice the Dharma in this lifetime, you cannot become liberated from life and death; therefore, you will have completely wasted your lifetime! Don’t think that having a career, children, a home, and your heath means that you have not wasted your life away; in the Buddha’s view, those are all illusions. They will not last forever; rather, like dreams and visions in the surface of a bubble, they will all disappear very abruptly. All of your academic knowledge and prestige are but illusions as well. Your life goal might be to strike it rich or obtain a position of power, but these are illusions, too. People who think like that do not believe in cause, effect, or causal conditions. Your worldly wealth, fame, and family members all represent causes, effects, and causal conditions you have accumulated over the course of many lifetimes; you did not create them in this one.

“If you have causal conditions, karmic retribution, and good fortune, then no one would steal your money even if you were to lay it out in the middle of the street. If you do not have enough good fortune, however, then the bank in which you keep your all your money could go out of business. There is truth to this; let me tell you all a story. Back when I was about twenty-one or twenty-two, I had a job as a manager at a jewelry store. One time I was carrying a consignment worth about two years of my salary, and I left it in the taxi cab I had taken on my way home. I ran all around the neighborhood in search of the taxi. After finding it parked by the side of a street, I told the driver I had left something in his cab. He told me it wouldn’t possibly still be there, because he had just taken another fare for a short ride. As it turned out, however, the package was still in the car. This meant that I was destined not to lose this particular consignment! Ten minutes after leaving it in the cab, I had gotten it back. It had been my fate not to lose it; otherwise, how could there be such a coincidence? The package contained necklaces, rings, and so on, but no one had stolen them. Therefore, I have resigned myself to the fact that my own possessions will come and go as commanded by fate. This is not fatalism; this is the law of cause and effect. No matter how good you are at saving money, it’s useless, because someone is certain to help you use it all up. Being miserly is useless, too, for the same reason, and because you were stingy. My view of money in this lifetime is that I should spend it as quickly as possible, because the faster it goes, the faster it comes back. On the contrary, you like to spend it slowly; thus, it will come back to you just as slowly.

“We should contemplate how much time we have left in this lifetime. There’s no telling whether it’s ten years, twenty years, or just one. Furthermore, we must understand very clearly that everyone will die and no one can escape death. No matter how many plans you make, in the end they will all become empty. The same is true of the filial piety of your children. In Taiwan there are many ‘filial parents’—parents who act filially toward their children, thereby spoiling them—who are stingy in making offerings; they think an offering of NT$100 is quite a lot. However, those same parents would not think twice about giving their children a few million. Making an offering with this sort of attitude will not yield even the tiniest of merits, for all they’re doing is comparing, and thinking that their children deserve to get a few million bucks.

“You must contemplate on the fact that everyone will die, and vow to practice Buddhism for the rest of your lives. This is why I keep pushing you so hard; it’s because you don’t know how long you have left to live. If you continue to waste your time, then when death comes knocking you won’t have a card to play, and then you might not be able to find me. Thus, you should immediately take advantage of what little time you have left to genuinely engage in Buddhist practice.

“As the Venerable Milarepa once said, the Buddha stated that the purpose of all Dharmas is to break away from the Eight Winds. Buddhist practitioners should constantly examine themselves to see whether or not they have gotten carried away by these Eight Winds. None of the precepts prescribed by the Buddha are meant to punish or reward people; their purpose is to help us break the chains that bind us to the mundane world. Ask yourselves this: Have you accumulated an inordinate amount of worldly affairs? Hurrying through the penitential rites you attend every day counts as a worldly affair, too, as does rushing around to serve your children and forgetting what the guru taught you. Thus, you might think you are keeping the precepts, but first you should ask yourselves whether or not you are tied down by a lot of worldly affairs. If you do not think frequently on death and the impermanence of life, then what’s the use of practicing the Dharma? You have to have a clear understanding of the purpose of practicing Buddhism. It is not to obtain worldly benefits, nor is it to improve your lot in this lifetime. The most important thing you should do is to contemplate on the subject of death.

“No matter which Dharma methods you practice during your lifetime, your ultimate goal should be to be able use them at the time of your death. It does not matter how outstanding a practitioner you are or how great your supernatural powers might be. The important thing is whether or not you know how to keep yourself from reincarnating. The purpose of all of the mantras we chant and sutras we recite in this lifetime is to help us during those few short seconds just before we die, and the same is true of all of the Dharma methods we learn. You must not labor under the misconception that the point of Buddhism is to change all of your various worldly affairs for the better; if the Dharma could do this, the law of cause and effect would not exist. In the sutras it is written that the minds of sentient beings are unfathomable. Even the Buddha, in all His wisdom, could not think up all of the complicated things conceived by sentient beings, and that is why so many disputes occur in the world. If my purpose were just to help you flourish in your careers and cause your children to be filially pious toward you, then your thinking is wrong! Your guru is here to help you recognize and clearly understand the true nature of death, as well as how to gain control over your future lifetimes. For those who are in your sixties or seventies, your life is pretty much set in stone, so you need not think too much about it. You’re better off just chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra in earnest.

“Anything that happens in this lifetime is the result of cause, effect, and causal conditions. You must stop creating new problems and afflictions for yourselves. You must take some time every day to calm yourselves and think about what you have achieved in this lifetime, what you have contributed to society, what the day of your death will be like, and how you will feel during those last few seconds before you pass away. You must go on to contemplate whether you really will live forever just because you are young, and whether your death will be more painful once you have grown old. This is your homework—to ponder these things every day. Don’t think that contemplating your mortality will cause you to suddenly drop dead; such thoughts will have no impact on your time of death. As long as you still have some lifespan left, then you won’t die even if you think about death every second for twenty-four hours a day!

“Contemplating death teaches you to bravely face a problem that you do not currently understand and cannot yet solve. This is not a problem that science, medicine, financial wealth, or your knowledge can unravel; only Buddhism can. The reason you are filled with so much fear is that you do not understand death. Once you do, you will be completely fearless. On the contrary, you will feel that life is full of hope and bright prospects, because you will have learned how to take control of your future. All of your so-called hopes and prospects involve fame and financial gain, but there is not actually anything hopeful or bright about these, because they are nothing more than the results of your causal conditions and good fortune. By telling you to contemplate your death, I am not asking you to live passively or stop going to work. The point of contemplating death is to first accept that this natural phenomenon is bound to happen to everyone. This is the most important and most difficult issue to comprehend. If you can handle it, then you can handle any problem you come across in your life, so there is nothing passive about this at all. If we learn how to deal with the most difficult problem there is, then what remains that we cannot solve? Death is the most difficult and incomprehensible subject there is, and the hardest to accept. If you can solve the problem of your death, then any other difficulty you come across in life will seem small by comparison. Why, in life, do little problems turn into big problems? It is because you have not yet found a solution to the fundamental problem of your death. As long as you can solve this, you will no longer stray from your Buddhist path.

“The Buddha spoke the Dharma for forty-nine years, but in the end the Buddha denied having ever spoken the Dharma at all. What the Buddha meant was that He had merely been repeating truths that generations of Buddhas had realized and spoken down through the ages. The real reason the Buddha spoke the Dharma for forty-nine years was to teach us to become liberated from the true suffering of life and death. With regard to the various kinds of suffering in the world, in terms of the Buddha’s wisdom none of these is as bad as the torment of constantly reincarnating over and over. Of the four great sufferings of ‘birth, old age, sickness, and death,’ we have no control over the suffering of birth. This is because we are born according to our karma, and we grow old according to the laws of nature. We do have some control over sickness, as long as we refrain from killing and do as many virtuous deeds as we can; minor illnesses, however, are unavoidable. We do have a way to deal with death, because the Buddha can teach us how to become liberated from life and death in the future, after these bodies of flesh and blood have outlived their usefulness.

“People with a higher root capacity can break away from life and death in this lifetime without needing to go through the process of death. All of us here, on the other hand, have lower root capacities, so our physical bodies must experience death. Therefore, before our physical bodies die, we need to complete a lot of preparations to get ready for the day of our death. You absolutely must not count on luck, thinking you’ll be fine when you die because the guru can simply perform the Phowa for you then. Once I have repaid all of my debts from past lives and His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang tells me, “You have done everything you needed to do,” then I will be saying goodbye to you all. You must not think that imploring and praying every day for your guru to live an eternal life will definitely work to your advantage. ‘Living an eternal life’ does not necessarily mean to return to this particular Saha World; I could go to any world in the universe, not necessarily this one. Why have I spent so much time and effort cultivating my Buddhist practice? It is because my father’s death gave me a huge wake-up call: Why can’t people understand their own death? Someone might be all-powerful while alive, but completely helpless in the face of death. What does it mean to be human? If we cannot even settle the matter of our own death, then what use is being outstanding in this lifetime? What use is all of the academic knowledge we might accumulate? At the age of eighteen, when I had to face my father’s death, I promised myself that I would definitely figure out the problem of death in this lifetime. Now I can say that I understand it, and can grasp it. I also hope that I can pass on everything I have learned from my experiences to you. The fundamental prerequisite for you to receive such transmission, however, is for you to listen to your guru; if your ears are closed, then you cannot learn it. Tantra is very auspicious, but to learn it you really do need to possess good fortune and practice in accordance with the Dharma.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued. “Thirty-seven of my disciples were punished a while back, and may no longer make offerings. It has been forty-five days since this happened, and today two of them may begin to make offerings again. Why is it that some are allowed to make offerings and some are not? It all depends on whether their minds are committed to acting one hundred percent in accordance with the guru’s teachings, and whether they have looked inward to see exactly where they have been at fault. When you took refuge, I taught you to distance yourselves from evil influences, including certain friends. However, you continue to interact with them, thinking that you can remain in control and not be influenced by them. My purpose in not allowing you to make offerings over this period of time—a time that has spanned seven or eight pujas—is to teach you that if you do not follow the guru’s instructions, then you will not even be given opportunities to accumulate good fortune, let alone learn Tantra to become liberated from life and death. Buddhism must be practiced honestly, and implemented in your daily lives. As a propagator of the Dharma, I have a great responsibility to make you truly understand it. If I were to simply transmit it to you whether you were happy to hear it or not, then I would hurt not only myself, but you as well. The reason I was reincarnated into this lifetime is that in my past lives I did not succeed in liberating you, so I was pulled back here by you to finish the job. Nowadays, the first time a disciple refuses to listen, I punish him or her; the second time, I ask that disciple to leave. I hope that you will continue to have opportunities in this lifetime to listen to the Dharma, and that none of you take the wrong path, say the wrong things, or do the wrong thing. Buddhist circles in Taiwan have fallen ill; every Buddhist center out there curries favor with its believers for fear that otherwise they will stop attending and making offerings. Actually, eons ago, Shakyamuni Buddha often used to drive people away, too.

“In today’s society, plagued as it is by chaos and disasters, if you have a very casual attitude in your Buddhist practice—thinking that you will always be able to listen to the Dharma as long as you have the money, time, and intention to do so—you are quite mistaken. It is not easy to find opportunities to listen to the Dharma, and even when you do, it is difficult to implement it in your daily lives unless you have someone to constantly supervise and push you to go forward. What is Buddhist practice? It is amending your behavior! Chanting mantras and prostrating to the Buddha do not produce the same effects as amending one’s behavior. If you do not change your thoughts and behavior, then you will continue to have problems. We must learn to train ourselves, control our minds, and not give rise to resentment. If you harbor resentment even toward your guru, then you are liable to resent other sentient beings as well; as such, you cannot be liberated from reincarnation.

“All of the methods used by a Vajrayana guru are relatively fierce, because unlike monastics, we do not have a lot of time. The life of a lay practitioner is filled with temptations and potential hindrances; the slightest misaligned thought can lead you astray, and it then becomes very difficult indeed to find your way back. You absolutely must not think that you have done a good job in your Buddhist cultivation. It is easy to find faults in others, but much harder to see them in ourselves.

“Everyone reacts immediately as soon as his or her so-called dignity is hurt. However, that same person feels nothing when it is someone else’s dignity on the line. Therefore, the very first thing Bodhisattva Samantabhadra taught us was to pay homage to the Buddhas in the Ten Directions. You probably imagine this to mean all of the Buddhas in the universe, but what it actually connotes is that all sentient beings are Buddhas, for they all possess the inherent conditions to attain Buddhahood. You might look down on someone today, but he or she could become a Buddha in the future. If you believe yourself to be better, more outstanding, smarter, or more capable than others, then you will naturally have no respect for them; as such, you are liable to first commit verbal offenses and then give rise to hatred.

“Why do you feel that practicing Buddhism is so difficult? It is because you pin your goals upon a Buddha that you cannot see. Sentient beings living in the Age of Degenerate Dharma do not have sufficient good fortune to see the Buddha. Thus, because the objective you have set your hearts on is invisible, you assume you understand. When practicing Vajrayana Buddhism, you must be very respectful toward your guru, because the guru represents all of the Lineage gurus, Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas, and has come to teach you the Dharma. A guru’s every word and deed is designed for your benefit so that you will not fall back into reincarnation in the future. Simply chanting mantras and saying that you want to be liberated is not enough to keep from reincarnating; you must genuinely and honestly achieve it. Therefore, if you do not accept and follow your guru’s teaching methods, you are being disrespectful. If you do not respect your guru, then how can you respect anyone else? And if you do not respect others, then how can they possibly respect you? You are willing to accept anything that gets put on your plate except for being put at a disadvantage. As such, you cannot learn how to respect others, so naturally you commit evil in body, speech, and mind. When someone makes a mistake, we should empathize. We do not need to use the word ‘forgive,’ but we should show what understanding that we can.

“There was a male disciple who had taken refuge for more than two years yet had never come to respect me. Only after his father had passed away did his attitude begin to change. Given your personalities, you would long ago have broken all ties with this disciple, but Buddhism never gives up on any sentient being. As long as he remains at my Buddhist Center, even if it is just for one more day, he will continue to have the opportunity to change. Before the Venerable Milarepa began practicing Buddhism, to take revenge for his mother, he performed evil mantras that caused it to hail, killing many people. Once he realized how much evil he had committed, he gave rise to a great Bodhicitta, practiced Buddhism in earnest, became a great master, and attained Buddhahood. Thus, as was written in the sutras, people are bound to make mistakes; however, once they admit to their faults, it is possible for them to change and even become great sages. The worst thing that can happen is if you keep insisting that the mistaken one is not you, but rather your guru—that the guru misunderstands you and does not appreciate you. Actually, in these short few decades we spend on Earth, we frequently misunderstand people or fail to empathize with them. This is all the result of the retribution of cause and effect. If someone accidentally bumps into you on the street, you might not lose your temper, but at the very least you’ll probably glare at that person! This is an example of not empathizing with someone—of having no tolerance for anyone who might harm your so-called dignity.

“The methods used at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center are rather strict, because as lay practitioners, our time is limited. With our need to go to work every day, we really don’t have a lot of time to calm our minds and practice the Dharma. You have no other choice but to make great efforts to immerse your daily lives in Buddhism. Practicing Buddhism requires instilling the Dharma in your every act, word, and thought. If someone speaks of you, and your immediate thought is, It wasn’t my fault, then you are already at fault. If someone points out a fault in you, and you then go home and take your frustration out on your husband, then you are even more at fault. Why would you do that? You are suffering enough as it is; if you cause someone else to suffer, then why exactly are you practicing Buddhism? How can you consider yourself compassionate? You should give happiness to others, not suffering. You absolutely must not listen to that stuff touted by some Westerners about relieving stress by venting your problems to other people. You must come to understand that all of your suffering is a manifestation of your karmic retribution, which is why it is so important that you listen repeatedly to the audiotape of me explaining the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas. To this day I continue to practice the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas, so why don’t you? What makes you think you have mastered them? Not a single person here has cultivated even one percent of the abilities contained in this Dharma text. Some disciples spend all day complaining that they don’t have time to listen to audiotapes, yet they have enough time to watch television, eat, make money, and hang out with their families. Our only fundamental mission in life is to practice the Dharma.

“The few decades we spend alive are nothing more than a dream. If you obstinately persist in your mistaken ways by remaining self-righteous, continuing to lose your temper at others, and always saying that the guru is wrong, then you will never learn how to be compassionate. As His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang once said, when you think what your guru says is wrong, it is not actually the guru who is mistaken; rather, is it your mind. This is because you have given rise to discrimination and evil thoughts; you are listening to the Dharma for the sake of your desires instead of with a purified mind and the intention to be liberated from life and death. Ever since I began practicing Buddhism, I have never once thought that the Exoteric Buddhist master in whom I took refuge or His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang was in the wrong. You should take a close look at yourselves; how many times have you thought that I am mistaken? With evil thoughts such as this, you cannot learn Buddhism! Why is it that in Vajrayana Buddhism the guru should be viewed like a father and like the Buddha? This does not mean that I am the Buddha. Rather, I am someone who can teach you the Dharma and help you to leave life and death behind; why, then, are you so ungrateful as to give rise to hateful thoughts as soon as something happens that makes you the tiniest bit unhappy? And as such, how can you possibly learn to be compassionate? Without compassion, you cannot learn the Dharma.

“Compassion is the most fundamental prerequisite for one to generate the Bodhicitta. If you harbor hatred even toward a person who has shown you benevolence, then how can you be filial to your parents and be grateful to sentient beings? Without such a sense of gratitude, your mind will naturally be filled with hatred, greed, and discrimination, all of which are elements of fundamental darkness and affliction. If you do not move in the direction of learning to control your thoughts, then even if you were to read every volume of the Tripitaka and receive empowerments from each throne holder of the Four Major Orders, it still would not mean you had learned the Dharma. We should be grateful not only to people who show us kindness, but even more so to our enemies—because without their existence, we would not be aware of our shortcomings. Why do you have enemies and villains in your lives? It is because you have done these sorts of things yourselves; you have harmed sentient beings, spoken ill of other people, and so on. Such enemies, then, are your karmic retribution, and you must accept them.

“You must not think that the point of coming here to practice Buddhism is to seek good health or pray for good luck; that sort of attitude would be inappropriate. Whether your health and luck are good or bad is a trivial matter, and has to do with your own causes and effects. The point of practicing Buddhism is to solve the great problem of life and death; whether or not you can live a long life is not important. The most important questions are these: Do you think you have a direction? Are you confident that you can be liberated from life and death in this very lifetime? The Buddha shows us the way, but whether we are confident or not is up to us. For example, if His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang transmitted a Dharma to me which I afterwards did not practice, it would be completely useless.

“Over the course of your Buddhist practice you will experience many challenges and grievances, including pressure and opposition from your family or superiors. We must endure all of these things. The Six Paramitas include a Dharma method for forbearance. Forbearance does not mean simply refraining from becoming angry when someone has scolded us; rather, having forbearance means that whether in our Buddhist practice or on our path to liberate sentient beings, we must bear all temptations, face all stress, and accept all of our grievances. Taiwan’s Buddhist community claims to practice Mahayana Buddhism and the Bodhisattva Path. To practice the Bodhisattva Path, one must practice the Six Paramitas, give to charity, keep the precepts, and cultivate forbearance. Practicing these three Dharma methods and these three Paramitas is a way of cultivating good fortune; if you have not done so, you have not practiced the Six Paramitas. If you cannot even accept the pressure put on you by the guru when scolding you, then can you be patient enough to bear all of the stress piled on us by sentient beings? It is written quite clearly in the Amitabha Sutra and the Five Classics of the Pure Land that anyone wishing to be reborn in the Pure Land must give rise to the Bodhicitta—in other words, he or she must practice the Six Paramitas. However, you are unwilling to act on this; you think listening to the Dharma is enough to solve your problems. Listening to the Dharma is the doorway to liberation, but the doorway to practice is the most important. Practicing involves action; if you only listen to the Dharma without putting it into action, then sooner or later you will give rise to perverted thoughts, perverted views, and create evil karma. Therefore, after listening to the Dharma, you must implement it in your daily lives.

“I have often taught that before you go to bed at night you should go over in your minds the thoughts you have had that day, and ask yourselves whether any of them were for your own benefit, and whether or not you have violated any of the Buddha’s teachings in body, speech, or mind. If you have, then you should repent in order to keep from making the same mistakes again the next day. How many of you have done this? You watch television every night until you are exhausted, and then you go to sleep. Have you given any thought to what you did that day? Did you just live that day as an ordinary person, or did you act in a manner befitting a Buddhist practitioner? If you do not use this sort of introspection to amend your ways, then you are lost. These monastics here have more time on their hands, but we lay practitioners do not. Thus, whenever you go home and take your frustrations out on your wife, complain that your boss is in the wrong, or speak ill of your workplace, it means that you spent that day wallowing in greed, hatred, and ignorance. If, however, you go home and tell your wife, ‘I shouldn’t have acted like that today; I should change,’ then you have set foot upon the path to Buddhist practice.

“Do not labor under the misapprehension that if you begin making grand prostrations, it means you are practicing the Dharma; likewise, do not think that practice simply involves getting hold of a Dharma text and chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra one or two thousand times a day. Doing these things helps us to calm our minds somewhat and have fewer wandering thoughts, and allows us the time to practice introspection. You come here and repent to me every day, but you aren’t actually here to repent; you’re here to apologize. What is repentance? It is admitting that you will not commit the same error again in the future. What is an apology? An example is if I slap you, say I’m sorry, turn right around and give you another slap, and then apologize again. This is how you are right now; every time you come here to apologize, time passes and you again give rise to greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt. You are caught in an eternal cycle. It is written in the Diamond Sutra that it is very difficult to encounter a good guru. From a guru’s point of view, however, it is even harder to encounter a good disciple! Why? It is because the minds of sentient beings are unfathomable! They have too many wandering thoughts and ideas, yet they lack respect and sincerity. What is respect? It is being sincere and of a single mind. It means accepting anything spoken by the Buddha and the guru with single-minded sincerity. Don’t think you have been wronged a lot by the guru; on my Buddhist path, I have encountered many injustices, pressures, and problems, yet I have patiently dealt with them one after another without letting them get to me at all. I have completely accepted them, because they are my karmic retribution.

“Back in 1996 or so, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang came to Taiwan to hold a Thousand-Armed Avalokiteshvara Empowerment Puja, which had been organized by another of the Drikung Kagyu Order’s Buddhist centers. That day I had taken more than a hundred disciples with me to participate in the puja, and at the time I was seated below the dais. About twenty minutes before the puja began, one of the organizers ran up to me and said that His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang wanted me to sit on the dais. In order to sit there I had to wear Dharma vestments, but because I had not known, I had not brought any with me. I hurried back to the VIP room to ask the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang what I should do. No sooner had I set foot through the door than His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang said in a very stern voice, ‘Why have you still not changed into your Dharma vestments?’ If it had been you, I’m sure you would have explained that you didn’t know you had to, or that you just found out. Without making any excuses, however, I replied, ‘I’ll get changed immediately.’ This is what it means to act as a person should; there is no need for explanation.

“It did not matter who might have set me up or failed to inform me; whatever the case may have been, it was my karmic retribution and undoubtedly the result of my having treated someone in the same manner in a past life. All I could do was to grin and bear it; what would have been the point in explaining it? If I had given His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang the explanation that someone had failed to tell me I was to sit on the dais, it would have been tantamount to causing that person to be scolded by the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. As such, wouldn’t I have been creating evil karma? Would you have done this? The reason I am qualified to sit upon the Dharma throne today is that I did the right thing. I immediately retrieved my Dharma vestments, put them on, and returned to sit upon the dais without saying a word.

“There was another time, also at a puja being held in Taiwan, when the khenpo arranged to have me sit at the front. In Tibetan Buddhism sitting on a high seat at the front indicates a relatively higher level of fruition. As a result, one of the lamas was very unhappy; he had originally been slated to lead the attendees in the chanting and recitations, but he had passed his microphone to me instead, indicating that I would be the one leading the chanting and recitations. How could I recite the Dharma texts if I could not read Tibetan? The entire Dharma text was written in Tibetan. In my shoes, you would certainly have lost your temper. Instead I said, ‘No, no, khenpo arranged for you to lead; I must have sat in the wrong seat.’ I then immediately retreated to take a seat in the back. Could you have done this? Not only could you not have done this; even when I sometimes show discontentment toward you, you say, ‘Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is mad at me.’ Whenever you say this or even think it, this is an evil thought. On the other hand, if we see the wrathful manifestations of yidams, we do not say they are angry or ugly. Seeing them makes us happy, because their wrathful manifestations can eliminate our karmic hindrances. As such, we are grateful to them. What about you? No sooner does the guru scold you than you become hateful and complain that the guru is no good. You are terrible!

“A few days ago I watched a television program that mentioned a Qing Dynasty worker who, without saying a word, refrained from going home even though some problems were going on there, so that his boss would be able to get all the work done without distraction. You are certain to say that only people in ancient times would have been such idiots as to not take leave from work to take care of their families. That worker’s supposition was very simple; without his boss, he would not be able to survive. If something happened to his family, it was their problem, and had nothing to do with his boss. Would you be able to do so? Why was it easier for people in ancient times to practice Buddhism than it is for us? They had less greed than we do, and their morality and ethics were sounder than ours. Were any of you sitting here moved by this story? Have you been able to do even a little bit of this? Never mind your Buddhist practice; you have not even learned how to act as a proper human being should. If everyone thinks his or her family is of utmost importance, then this society must collectively bear the consequences. The reason Taiwan is deteriorating is that all these people here think they and their families have issues, and they are unhappy. Why were people in ancient times able to do it? In a word, it was because of gratitude. That worker did not think, ‘I am helping my boss to make money.’ He only had a single thought: ‘Because of my boss, I have food to eat, so I must repay him.’ Could you do this?

“During the SARS epidemic, not a single nurse or doctor in Hong Kong ever came out and said, ‘I’m not going to help those patients at the hospital.’ What about here in Taiwan? From the SARS disaster, it became apparent that people in Hong Kong are more united than we are; their health care workers have never protested. Thus, even though people say Buddhism flourishes in Taiwan and there are many Buddhist centers, Dharma masters, and Rinpoches here, you can count on two hands the number of actual practitioners there are. This is because you are all too selfish. How can such selfish people learn the Dharma?

“On stage with us today is a Khenpo of the Drikung Kagyu Order—Khenpo Namdol. He is from Yunnan, was a monastic at Zhongdian, went into retreat at Drikung Thil Monastery, and continued on to practice Buddhism in India. After first asking permission from His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, I invited Khenpo Namdol to stay here in Taiwan for six months to help the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in regards to the setting up of many rituals and mandalas, and the making of tormas. I’ll be choosing a few people to train with the Khenpo, and you should all cherish this opportunity. Even though I do not speak Tibetan, I have a particularly profound affinity with the Drikung Kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism, which is why His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang has transmitted so much Tantra to me with which to benefit sentient beings. You all accumulated enough causal conditions from past lives to have been able to enter this door, so you must not give up; do not interrupt your path to attaining Buddhahood simply because you are self-righteous or encounter a minor grievance. It is very easy to lose the opportunity to practice Buddhism, and there is no telling how much time might pass before you obtain another such an opportunity. Thus, my disciples should listen to recordings of my teachings more often. Don’t just listen one or two times and think you know it all, have heard it all before, and do not have time to listen to it anymore. Such thoughts are unworthy. If you have time to watch television, then you naturally have time to listen to an audiotape. If you watch half an hour less TV each day, you definitely will be able to make enough time.”

Just then a female disciple was caught napping. In a reprimanding tone Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, “Why don’t I permit you to sleep? It is because there is mention in the sutras of ‘sleep demons.’ Do not think that just coming to a place where a puja is being held and sitting there is enough. It isn’t, even though it is written in the sutras that as long as you listen to the Dharma with your ears, your seed of Buddhahood—that is, the seed of attaining Buddhahood—will exist forever. The word ‘listen’ here does not mean hearing while you nap; rather, it means listening with your full concentration and storing what you hear deep within your Eighth Alaya Consciousness. If a guru were to take a nap during a puja, you would certainly follow suit. You all remember the Grand Puja presided over by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang on June 30th, 2002. I had not slept the night before, yet from early that morning to the conclusion of the puja, no one ever saw me doze off even once on the television monitors mounted on the wall. Why was I able to do this, yet you cannot? The reason is very simple: You are disrespectful. No matter how hard I have to work or how tired I am, I would never doze off as long as His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang is on the Dharma throne. This is because I am respectful. This respect is not for my own sake, but for that of all sentient beings. You fall asleep because you think you are listening to the Dharma for your own sake. If you believed that you were listening to the Dharma on behalf of sentient beings, including your karmic creditors, then you would be able to keep listening without dozing off. If you have come here to listen to the Dharma for selfish reasons, then your karmic creditors will make you fall asleep and not allow you to attain liberation from life and death. It is written quite clearly in the sutras that sleep demons will prevent you from hearing the Dharma and cause you to feel sleepy and yawn continuously while chanting mantras. Don’t think that the reason you are yawning is that you are tired from work; it is the reflection of your defiled mind.

“As soon as you took refuge I told you to refrain from evil and do virtuous acts. This includes all evil acts; even minor ones. You absolutely must not think that committing a minor transgression isn’t a big deal; even bank robbers started out small. At first they might have borrowed people’s things without returning them, and not thought it was a big deal; then they moved on to theft, and still did not think it was a big deal; after that, they escalated to full-on robbery. This is how such things begin. Therefore, don’t think your transgressions are no big deal as long as you keep apologizing to me about them; as long as you keep committing them, you are bound to have problems.

“In Exoteric Buddhism, cultivation begins with causes. Your current root capacities are still based in Exoteric Buddhism, so you should start your practice from the causal ground and break away from all evil. Tantric practice is very different in that it is started from the effect ground. Once we understand this, we ‘transform’ the effects, not change them. Thus, we often hear that we can transform the Five Consciousnesses into the Five Wisdoms. This is not change; this is transformation. How is it done? Transformation of course requires listening to the Dharma and practicing in earnest; it does not mean transformations the Buddha does for us, but rather transformations we make ourselves. None of you understands how to make such transformations because you are still muddling your lives away in greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt. As such you cannot transform anything!

“Some people speak very rudely whenever they answer the phone. Why is that? It is because they do not want to answer the people on the other end of the line who are annoying and bothering them. I myself receive such telephone calls frequently in the morning; if it’s not a bank calling to try to sell me a credit card plan, then it’s someone else inquiring about something or other. Not once have I ever lost my temper at these people. I simply tell them, ‘I’m sorry, but you have the wrong number,’ and then they apologize, too. Lots of people dial the wrong number all the time. You would hang up the moment you heard it was a wrong number, and then that person would immediately call again thinking he or she had made a mistake or had not been answered. You would say the fault lies not with you, but with the other person. You would think you couldn’t care less; after all, you do not know them. My way of dealing with this sort of thing is a bit better than yours; I just say a few more words. If they ask confirmation of whether or not such-and-such is the right number, I tell them the number is correct but that the person they are looking for really does not exist. I ask them to please believe me, and then naturally they never call back again.

“If we spend a bit more time giving people opportunities, then we are giving ourselves opportunities, too. If we do not, then we have caused ourselves to lose opportunities. This is why it is said that Buddhism encompasses every minute and every second of every day. It can be as simple as someone dialing the wrong number; if you use the Dharma to deal with such a situation, then you will naturally not feel annoyed. I’m sure you’ve all received wrong number calls in the middle of the night, calls from drunk people, and even calls just after six in the morning. Given my temper in the past, I would have scolded anyone who woke me up with such a call; now I do not. I simply say a few more words to them, and they don’t call again. If you don’t believe me, then give it a try. If you hang up the moment you hear someone’s voice on the line, he or she will call you right back. This is especially true now that phones all have a redial button; if the person calling doesn’t know your number by heart, he or she will just hit ‘redial’ and keep on annoying you to death.

Therefore, you all should understand that practicing Buddhism is as simple as that. You can transform your personality, transforming your state from that of an ordinary person to that of a sage slowly; one step at a time. Our personality is what causes us to keep reincarnating over and over in the Six Realms. What is personality? When someone says you are an individual with a strong personality, from a Buddhist point of view it means you have a lot of attachments, are unwilling to admit when you are wrong, and refuse to repent. Is such a person bound to be liked by everyone? Not necessarily. People with so-called strong personality are those who live their lives under the influence of their six roots. If you live your lives with sincerity and honesty, then you are implementing the Dharma in your lives. Even if someone dials the wrong number, you will explain to that person sincerely. That person is certain to listen unless he or she suffers from a mental illness. Any normal person would not bother you again. Why call you again after accepting your good intentions? If you hang up without explaining or giving him or her an opportunity to speak, then that person is certain to call you over and over again until you lose your temper and start yelling into the phone.

“Many people practicing Buddhism think practice involves making a certain number of grand prostrations each day and sensing whenever a Buddha or Bodhisattva approaches. This is not actually the case. The quality of your Buddhist practice depends on whether or not you have raised your quality of life. This quality is neither material nor spiritual; rather, it has to do with whether or not you have reduced the amount of hatred you incite and your chances of having conflicts with other people. If you have, then your quality of life is improving. People with whom you have conflict could be strangers, acquaintances, or family members. If, after you begin to practice Buddhism, you do not reduce the amount of conflicts you have with other people, but instead experience even more conflict, then you are even worse off. Namely, you have knowingly violated the rules, so your offenses are much more serious.

“If you can begin to change and transform immediately after you begin to practice Buddhism, then your good fortune will increase several times more quickly than that of people who simply do good deeds. What is the reasoning behind this? Because you act in accordance with the guru’s teachings, you are a disciple of the Buddha. Being a Buddha’s disciple requires more than simply taking refuge; rather, you must act according to the guru’s teachings, and meet the conditions taught to us by the Buddha, then you will have good fortune. This is because you are a disciple of the Buddha. How could the Buddha not look after you and care for you?”

Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche taught of the torments suffered by beings in the Asura Realm. “Without good fortune, one cannot go to the Asura Realm. Where does this good fortune come from? It comes from the person in question having practiced Buddhism while still alive. Asura is also called sobriety, because people born in the Asura Realm do not drink alcohol. The men are very ugly and the women are very beautiful, and all enjoy good fortune that is very similar to that of the Heavenly Realm. The only difference is that those in the Asura Realm are filled with hatred. Why were these people born there? It is because while they were practicing Buddhism, they kept thinking they were contending against other people. What were they contending for? They thought they were better at practicing than others, that they were better at chanting, and that others could not hold a candle to them. This is like a disciple who thinks he is better at chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra than others; theirs is the attitude of Asura. We Buddhist practitioners are particularly liable to produce these sorts of thoughts. Many of the laity—especially those who have practiced for a few years within a monastery—tend to feel that every new person that comes is doing it wrong, and that they themselves are the only ones who are practicing in the correct manner. As such, they often speak very rudely and go out of their way to correct people or lecture others. As I have told you in the past, before you have attained any sort of fruition you are not qualified to speak the Dharma to others. You cannot correct any mistakes they might make with regard to the Dharma, because you are examining them from your own consciousness instead of out of true nature. In addition, you are judging others through the veil of your own competitiveness. This sort of person, after passing away, is sure to be reborn in the Asura Realm.

“Apart from having to reincarnate, the most important of the sufferings of Asura is that people there fight with people in the Heavenly Realm because they are jealous that the latter get to enjoy more than they do. On Earth, in fact, we can see how Catholics have often fought with Muslims; this is exactly how people in the Asura Realm fight with people in the Heavenly Realm. Some people in the Middle East are very rich; the men are relatively hard to look at and the women are beautiful. In addition, people there do not drink alcohol. They are just like the people living in the Asura Realm. Thus, you don’t have to die to go to the Six Realms; they can be seen right here on Earth. Some Middle Easterners have a deep and bitter sense of revenge; they would rather blow themselves up than let their enemies live. This is the mind of Asura.

“Asura has very intense animosity, but because he has practiced Buddhism and made offerings, he also enjoys good fortune. Thus, if you harbor a great deal of jealousy and resentment at work or while at a Buddhist center, then even if you have attained good fortune and a little bit of wisdom, you will still fall into the Asura Realm. Most countries in the Middle East boarder the ocean; the same is true of many places in the real Asura Realm. For this reason I often tell people to take care when they go to play on the beach; if they aren’t careful, they could offend Asura, and then it will all be over for them. If you are someone who is often jealous or resentful of others in your daily life and who looks down on people, then even if you practice Buddhism, you will still fall into the Asura Realm. When chanting mantras, as soon as you think the timbre or volume of your voice is better than that of others, you have the mind of Asura. For example, some people might make more offerings than you do, so you gossip about them, saying that they make a larger offering in order to make the guru like them better. In addition, you might block others from making offerings or tell them that they shouldn’t offer so much because you are afraid it could rock the boat and cause you to lose face. If you practice Buddhism well, you will end up in the Asura Realm; if not, you will fall into the Hungry Ghost Realm. Hence, anyone present who prevents others from making offerings, or even those thirty or more people who changed their minds about making offerings, is sure to end up in the Asura or Hungry Ghost Realms. The reason I would not accept their offerings is that I fear that doing so would send them to those two realms. It is very easy to fall into the Asura Realm or the Hungry Ghost Realm. For example, if someone was originally planning on making an offering of a NT$1000, and you tell that person NT$100 is enough, then you have obstructed his or her offering. Therefore, whenever someone asks you how much he or she should offer, you should refrain from giving your opinion. The first amount that comes to mind is the right one. This is especially true at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center; I have never required a certain amount of money for performing a Dharma or liberating someone. It is all up to you. Those who constantly say that NT$100 or NT$500 is enough are hindering others from making offerings.

“After making an offering to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, I have never worried about whether or not I have enough money left over to live on. All I know is that with that money in his hands, the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang can accomplish many things. Likewise, I can do many things with the offerings you make to me. You might think you have made plenty of offerings to me, but behind the scenes there are many things that need to be done. I don’t tell you about them for fear that you might feel that practicing in my footsteps comes with a great deal of pressure. Some people say they have mortgages to pay, and for that reason do not want to give a fourth of their income as an offering. I did not make up that percentage; it was said by Shakyamuni Buddha. It is the Buddha’s compassion that has arranged the use of our money for us, and we are even left with three fourths of it for our own use. We only have to make an offering of a quarter of it. Only a scant few of those of you present have succeeded in matching this standard; do you think that you are making offerings by giving one or two hundred bucks? Take myself as an example. The last time His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang went into retreat, he had to find some people to carry things up the mountain so that the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang could live there in retreat for six months without any problems. However, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang forgot to take money with him to Nepal, so he called and asked me to wire him some money from his Hong Kong account. However, I replied immediately that there was no need to go to so much trouble, and that I would simply send His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang money directly from my own bank account. In saying that, I committed myself to paying US$10,000. Those of you present might go an entire year without ever offering that much money, and that ten thousand dollars was made up of your accumulated offerings of a hundred here or two hundred there, which I then offered to the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang for use during his retreat. Thus, maybe people feel regret after making an offering; they wish they had not offered that much money, and had kept more of it for their own use. This is the sort of attitude that will send you to the Asura Realm and the Hungry Ghost Realm. You cannot obtain good fortune from offerings made with such an attitude. The fortune I am speaking of is not for you to become rich; it is the fortune that can help you to obtain liberation from life and death.

“Khenpo Namdol has no money; Tibetan lamas living in monasteries receive no salary, nor does anyone make any offerings to them, nor do they receive offerings from reciting sutras for other people. The cost of becoming a monastic is completely covered by the person’s family, and if the family is poor, then the monastic will have no money, either. While I was in retreat, however, Khenpo Namdol continuously made offerings of fruit and incense to me. These were true offerings. This particular offering was of Jambhala Incense, made in the hopes that I would have more money with which to help the Order. Thus, if you have not met the standard mentioned by the Buddha in the sutras, none of your offerings are actually offerings. You make offerings of NT$100 at every puja, and the cost of transportation to and from six pujas adds up to around a thousand NT dollars. However, it only costs between NT$500 and NT$1500 for two people to eat out these days. Don’t misunderstand and think that I am nitpicking about money; I could always just set a price on liberation of the deceased. Instead I just tell you that you should make offerings in the right manner, but not to worry if you don’t. However, while making an offering you must not be attached to the idea that ‘I am making an offering.’ If you cannot afford to make an offering, then as long as you have aspired to practice Buddhism, I will be just as happy; as long as your offerings are made sincerely and honestly, I will be happy as well. For example, there was a disciple who made an offering of his secret stash of money to me in order to implore the auspicious Phowa for his father. This was a sincere offering, so his father, having passed away right after I finished eating, was liberated by the Phowa. This is an example of true good fortune. Thus, how much money is offered does not matter; it is your attitude that is important.

“In future, when you see others making offerings, you should say nothing; you should neither criticize nor hinder them. Even if an offering is only ten dollars, it is the person’s attitude that is important, so you should not ask why the amount is so little. If a person makes a large offering, you should not try to hinder him or her for fear that such a large offering will set precedence or make you look bad. As long as you act in complete accordance with your causal conditions, you will not fall into the Asura Realm or the Hungry Ghost Realm. Don’t think that making offerings is enough to prevent you from going to those places; you still will if you have the wrong attitude. The only difference is that having made offerings, when you arrive in the Hungry Ghost Realm you might be able to have a bit more to eat and become a Ghost King; you will get to eat before the other ghosts, or they will eat excrement and you will not have to. Thus, the reason I mention Asura is to remind you to pay close attention to your thoughts, and not be jealous of others. In the Seven Branch Offerings Prayer, one of the Dharma texts of Tibetan Buddhism, one part mentions rejoicing in others’ offerings. This does not mean for you to tell others that they can just make offerings of any amount they like. Rather, it means giving praise in your heart whenever you see other people perform any meritorious deeds. Even if we see someone make an offering of a simple cup of tea, we still should praise him or her; this is what it means to rejoice in the merits of others. If you have not cultivated this sort of mindset, then you can very easily fall into the Asura Realm or the Hungry Ghost Realm. Thus, as for these thirty-odd people who have regretted making offerings, I have punished them by not allowing them to make any offerings. My reason is that I am afraid they will fell into the Hungry Ghost Realm and the Asura Realm, because they made their offerings with a discriminating mind.

“Many people are like that. They obviously already placed NT$2000 in a red offering envelope, but then they reconsider and take a thousand of it out. Especially when giving to charity and making offerings, once you have given the money, you should stop thinking about it. Take me, for example; I have done many things and subsequently forgotten about them. The Threefold Wheel of Essential Emptiness does not simply refer to that to which you give charity, the things you give, and the thoughts of giving do not exist. Rather, it means you should not be attached in body, speech, or mind to any offerings you make or alms you give. In simpler terms, once you’ve made an offering, you should stop thinking about it, and in your mind you should not necessarily remember what you were doing. Making offerings is our lifeblood, as vital to us as breathing. Without making offerings or giving to charity, you will die a terrible death.

“Khenpo Namdol understands making offerings. When one makes an offering to a practitioner in retreat, whether that offering be as small as a piece of hair or a sesame seed, as long as it is made in sincerity, the merit that comes from it will be greater than that of any other offerings. You need to understand this; do not end up in the Asura Realm out of carelessness. People who would hinder others from making offerings are jealous people who are afraid that others might do better than they. If they do not hurry up and repent, they are in grave danger of falling into the Asura Realm. Once there, they will be quite miserable. They will have to fight every day, in constant fear of being killed by people in the Heavenly Realm or suffering as a result of those people looking down on them. Some rich people look down on people who have no money, and theirs is an Asura attitude, too. Thus, you should avoid going to the Asura Realm at all costs, because once you’re there, it becomes very difficult indeed to get back out.”

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His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche held “The Puja Commemorating the Sixth Anniversary of the Inauguration of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Kyoto, Japan” at the Kyoto Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, and presided in person over the auspicious Acalanatha Fire-Offering Puja. Attendees included twenty-eight believers from Japan, India, and Taiwan, as well as 186 Japanese and Taiwanese disciples. In all, 214 people attended. The puja came to an auspicious and perfect completion.

At two o’clock in the afternoon, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne to perform the Dharma and bestow precious Dharma teachings upon the attendees.

“Before any puja begins, we must all understand what our intentions and motives are for participating in it. Thus, the prayers of Refuge and the Four Immeasurables that you all recited just now are what motivate us to participate in today’s puja. This motivation derives not from a desire for personal benefit; rather, it comes from an aspiration to benefit all of the sentient beings by participating in the puja. The Seven Branch Offerings Prayer, taught by Bodhisattva Samantabhadra, is a prayer that all Buddhist practitioners must recite. It includes prostrations, making offerings, repentance, and rejoicing in the merits of others; praying that the Buddha and the Dharma will remain in the world, and accumulating even the minor acts of virtue; and finally, making dedications to sentient beings. The Seven Branch Offerings Prayer helps us to accumulate good fortune, allowing us to learn and practice Buddhism. The purpose is not, however, to obtain worldly wealth, power, or good health.

“The Dharma being performed today is Tantra, and its yidams are separated into four groups: the Buddha, the Lotus, the Dharma protectors and the Vajra; the part being performed today is the Wisdom King section of the Vajra group. The yidam of the Dharma being performed today is Acalanatha, who has a very profound affinity with Japan. Many Japanese believers, however, suffer from quite a few misconceptions when it comes to Acalanatha. In the past some people believed Acalanatha could help them fight and win wars, while in modern times people have believed that Acalanatha can drive away or kill one’s enemies. In Buddhism, the word ‘Acalanatha’ is explained to mean that after you begin to practice Buddhism, you will not create more bad karma due to the influence of greed, hatred, or disbelief in cause and effect. The main point in practicing the Acalanatha is to allow you to control your minds, and that is normally not very easy to do.

“Acalanatha has a different appearance in Japan from how it appears in Tibet. The Japanese Acalanatha sits on a lotus or sometimes stands. The statue of Acalanatha worshiped in the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Kyoto is in a standing position. The Tibetan Acalanatha’s right leg is bent, and it kneels on its left knee. Squashed beneath his feet are four demons: the Demon of Death, the Demon of Affliction, the Demon of Sickness, and the Demon of Heaven. The reason this last one being called the Demon of Heaven is that even though it was born in the Heaven Realm, it continues to reincarnate. Both Japanese and Tibetan Acalanathas hold a sword in their right hand. The sword held by the Tibetan version is raised in the air, while the Japanese Acalanatha holds its swords across its chest. However, they both mean the same thing.

“The sword wielded by Acalanatha is not used to kill its enemies. In Buddhism, a sword is a symbol of wisdom. Only with the help of a sword can people cut away their afflictions; because swords are very sharp, they represent the sharpness of wisdom and its ability to cut away all of a person’s afflictions. Flames rise from the sword held by Acalanatha, symbolizing the fire of wisdom. The mudra in which Acalanatha’s left hand is positioned is called the Tarjani-Mudra. Placed over the heart, the hand is holding a lariat woven of silver and gold. On its end are two hooks, indicating that Acalanatha uses wisdom and compassion to reel sentient beings that do not believe in cause and effect or the Dharma back in, so that they can practice Buddhism.

“Acalanatha has blue skin and red eyes, but these eyes do not appear wrathful as do those of the Vajra. On the contrary, they are rather charming, and are not opened wide like the glaring eyes of other Vajra yidams. This lends them a slightly attractive feel. Acalanatha’s facial expression is very fierce, because sentient beings are very unruly and do not listen; that ferocity is used to make them listen and obey so that they will practice Buddhism. Acalanatha wears a crown with five heads on it—the top of which is the head of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Around his neck is a white serpent, and he is wearing a skirt fashioned from a tiger’s pelt. This is decorated with jewels and other solemn decorations, and his whole body emanates the fiery light of wisdom.

“The serpent worn around Acalanatha’s neck is a symbol that means hatred can be subdued. In the sutras it is mentioned that people who frequently harbor resentment and hatred and who harm others will very likely turn into snakes after they die. Humans feel fear whenever they see snakes, because they emit a sort of magnetic field made of hatred. This is why people tend to keep their distance from snakes. The red of Acalanatha’s eyes means that he can subdue greed; the charming look in his eyes mean that he can subdue ignorance (disbelief in cause and effect). Acalanatha’s blue skin represents the Dharma nature, because the true essence of the universe is blue in color.”

” Today we pray to Acalanatha by performing the Fire Offering. In the sutras, Fire Offerings are also called homas. The origin of the homa is recorded in the sutras; it originated in ancient India when people used fire to worship the heavens in the hopes that heaven would protect them. The homa used in Buddhism is not simply a prayer for protection, however. Participating in the Fire Offering can help us to live longer, be healthier, and keep from having accidents, but these things remain with us only to help us practice Buddhism for the rest of our lives. It is also recorded in the Sutras that with Fire Offerings, one of these three types of mandala is used: small, water and large. Any Buddhist who has taken refuge may practice with small mandala. I have seen the homa performed in Japan; its mandala can be categorized as a small one, whereas the homa practiced in Tibetan Buddhism uses a large mandala.

“The Fire Offering can be divided into four Dharmas: Subduing (subduing disasters), Increasing (accumulating wealth), Placating (conciliating), and Vanquishing (eliminating and killing). Each of these Dharmas is performed with a different mandala, and they all use different offering items, too. While performing the Fire Offering today, I will bestow offering items that you can all throw into the fire so that you have an opportunity to make a direct offering to the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and the yidam and give alms to all sentient beings in need of help. This ritual is not about inscribing one’s name on a piece of wood, tossing it into the fire, and forgetting about it. Such method of practice is not mentioned in the sutras.

“Every substance used in the Fire Offering has a special significance as well as its own special mantra. In Tibetan Buddhism, any practitioner who performs the Fire Offering must be a Rinpoche. In other words, a practitioner performing the Fire Offering has to have undergone continuously a series of retreats. You all have the causal condition to participate in the Fire Offering today, which is to help you to plant the causal conditions necessary to see the Buddha in the future. I know that some Japanese believers have come to participate in this puja simply out of curiosity. Buddhism does not belong to any one race or nationality; the Dharma is egalitarian. Anyone who participates in today’s puja with respect for the Buddha and the Dharma will obtain benefits.”

Right then and there, the disciples implored to make a mandala offering to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Compassionately the guru granted permission, the ordained disciples and the Japanese and Indian believers who had been selected by lot when they entered the venue approached His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to offer the mandala and implore the Dharma. After the mandala-offering ritual was finished, the guru continued to bestow teachings.

“According to the sutras, a person without great good fortune is unable to listen to and practice the Dharma. As such, the purpose of the mandala-offering is to help us to quickly accumulate good fortune. Now I will perform the Dharma of the yidam, so I ask that you all remain quiet.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the Dharma of the yidam, and afterward instructed the attendees to make their way to the mandala in the courtyard of the Kyoto Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center for the performance of the Fire Offering.

On the day of the puja, the weather was hazy and muggy. However, as soon as His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne in the courtyard and began to perform the Dharma, gust after gust of cool wind began to blow with the sounds of the guru chanting the mantra. The oppressive weather suddenly turned cool and refreshing, and just then the clouds dissipated rapidly to reveal a deep blue sky. The sun shone down from between the clouds, and a wonderful rain of nectar began to float down from the sky. As time went by, the weather continued to change quickly until an auspicious sign appeared in the form of rain falling from a clear blue sky, causing all of the attendees to marvel and wonder ceaselessly. While the Dharma was being performed, a great bird kept wheeling in the sky far above the mandala of Fire Offering, and a flock of birds continuously chirped all around the Kyoto Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center. It was a sweet and wondrous sound. Many clouds appeared in the sky in the form of dragons, the Garuda, and so on; the sight of these ever-changing clouds was extremely unfathomable. All of these various auspicious signs had appeared thanks to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s great achievements in cultivating Tantra. Because the guru applies every ounce of his energy toward benefiting countless sentient beings, all of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, devas, nagas, and Dharma protectors came forth to offer protection, blessings and praise!

While performing the Fire Offering Ritual, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche compassionately allowed each of the attendees the opportunity to come forward, receive an offering item that had been blessed by the guru, and toss it into the Fire Offering mandala as an offering to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and as alms for sentient beings. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performed the Dharma for more than three hours, continuously chanting mantras and blessing all sorts of offering items. At the same time, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had to rapidly place offering items onto each attendee’s plate one after another, non-stop, so that they could all receive them in a timely manner. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche paid close attention to everyone’s pace and conditions, constantly blessing sentient beings with his gaze.

While performing the Dharma, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche used his right hand to pick up offering items and rapidly pass them out. The guru performed this action at least three thousand times. At sixty-seven years of age, and without any cartilage left in his right shoulder, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche endured an unimaginable physical burden while continuously chanting mantras, blessing offering items, and placing them one after another on the attendees’ plates. Completely ignoring any physical discomfort, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche used all of his strength to benefit sentient beings in a display of the auspicious and great Bodhicitta of a Vajrayana Tantric practitioner. A Mahasiddha’s vow to benefit sentient beings is unfathomable, and can move heaven and earth!

As His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performed the Dharma, the flames of the mandala appeared in the forms of deities of fire and continuously manifested all sorts of changing auspicious signs. As the ritual continued, the Fire Offering mandala’s flames burned very fiercely, rising two stories high. The fierce conflagration suddenly seemed to come to life, and could not be stopped. The auspiciousness of Tantra is difficult to imagine. With his great compassionate vow, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche benefited sentient beings with the merits from his Buddhist practice and his great capabilities, helping countless sentient beings with the nectar of the Dharma and causing all of the attendees to sincerely give rise to an incomparable degree of respect!

While the Fire Offering Ritual was underway, the attendees came very close to the flames as they tossed their offering items into the fire. However, during the entire process no one felt overly hot. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings are incomparably auspicious! As the Fire Offering drew to a close, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed the disciples to take down the prayer flags and throw them into the middle of the Fire Offering mandala. All the while, the guru continued to chant mantras and bestow blessings. As the prayer flags caught flame, a thick black smoke was scattered by the powerful wind. Nevertheless, it never came near the Dharma throne, nor did it carry any sort of burnt smell. As the aromatic fragrance of incense wafted through the courtyard, all of the attendees were filled with a profound sense of praise and joy!

After the Fire Offering was complete, and without taking a break, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche immediately entered the Buddhist Center to ascend the Dharma throne once more. There the guru led the attendees in a performance of the Dharma protector’s ritual and the dedication ritual, and then continued to bestow precious Dharma teachings.

“Today is a very rare opportunity for you all to take an afternoon out of your busy schedules to get a bit of exercise. This is a lot more useful to you than a round of golf would be. The Dharma text contains many prayers.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche gave an overview of the benefits that could be obtained from having participated in the day’s puja: “It is hoped that the guru and all of his retinue (which includes both disciples and believers) can enjoy long lives without sickness and become empowered to practice this Dharma, because doing so can rid their lives of dangerous occurrences and distance them from murderous events—but only on the condition that they no longer take life or eat meat. Practicing this Dharma can prevent you from suffering an untimely death (such as dying in an accident or from an illness that should not have killed you), can eliminate, and keep us far away from, all obstacles created by demons, nightmares, and ill omens. It can protect us from curses placed upon us by other people, bring us worldly happiness and abundance, and provide us with a bumper harvest of the Dharma and the five grains (agricultural products). It can bring us luck, peace, and happiness, and help us to achieve everything our hearts desire. If you are willing to learn the contents of this prayer and to continue practicing Buddhism, then you can get whatever you want.” His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the attendees in Ritual of the Dharma Protector and the Dedication Ritual, and then thanked everyone. Upon the perfect completion of the puja, the disciples stood. In unison they expressed their gratitude for His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious teachings and performance of the Dharma, and stood to pay reverent homage as the guru descended the Dharma throne.

To commemorate the sixth anniversary of the consecration of the Kyoto Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presided over this rare and auspicious Acalanatha Fire Offering Puja. Its purpose was not only to pass on the Dharma lineage of the Drikung Kagyu Order, but also to pray for blessings for Japan, to increase the good fortune of the nation and its people, and to help all sentient beings with a Dharma rain of compassion and wisdom so that they can be liberated from suffering and practice the Dharma with diligence, thus allowing them to obtain countless merits and benefits!

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Updated on October 27, 2014