His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – June 22, 2014

On this memorial day of Lord Jigten Sumgön, the Dharma Lord His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, in answer to a sincere invitation by his mandala root disciple, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, visited the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Taipei to preside over the Grand Memorial Puja for Lord Jigten Sumgön and to perform the Guru Yoga. Rinpoches, khenpos, and lamas of the Drikung Kagyu Order—including His Eminence Regent Tritsab Rinpoche, His Eminence Trichen Rinpoche, His Eminence Rinje Rinpoche, and His Eminence Sopa Rinpoche—were also invited to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to participate in this auspicious puja. As many as 1,500 people were in attendance.

When His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s car arrived at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was there to extend a personal and reverent welcome as well as to present a khata. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang into the Buddhist Center with Tritsab Rinpoche, Trichen Rinpoche, Rinje Rinpoche, and Sopa Rinpoche all following in close attendance. Protected by a jeweled parasol and preceded by musical instruments, incense burners and the eight offering girls, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang ascended the Dharma throne above the mandala to perform the Guru Yoga and to bestow precious Dharma teachings.

His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang began to perform the auspicious Guru Yoga, and soon afterward conducted the Tsok Ritual. Each of the attendees received a food offering that had been blessed by the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, as well as the rare and auspicious causal condition to eat during the puja with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. After performing the Dharma for a while, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang compassionately bestowed precious Dharma teachings.

“Rinpoches, Dharma masters, and Buddhist friends, today I am very happy to be with you all here at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to make offerings during this Grand Memorial Puja for Lord Jigten Sumgön. I am kept very busy at Jangchubling Monastery, and as such am unable to venture to go all the places I would like to. Thus, I am overjoyed at having been able to come here to participate in this puja with you all today. As you all know, Lord Jigten Sumgön was an emanation of Bodhisattva Nagarijuna, a fact which is recorded in some famous annals of Tibetan history called Scholars’ Feast. They were authored by an important Karma Kagyu Rinpoche named Pawo Tsuglag Threngwa. Practitioners in Karma Kagyu wear red hats, black hats, and flowered hats, and Pawo Tsuglag Threngwa wore a flowered hat. This was back in about the fifteenth century, and even now people in both China and abroad all base Tibetan history on these annals.

“Pawo Tsuglag Threngwa’s book was based on the ancient works stored in the nine-story building erected by the Venerable Milarepa, and compiled from the histories contained therein. These included some stone tablets inscribed with a record of Trisong Detsen’s construction of Samye Monastery, so they are considered to be quite a reliable source of information. The historical annals contain a written account of how Lord Jigten Sumgön was identified to be an emanation of Bodhisattva Nagarijuna. In Kashmir in far northern India, on the border of Pakistan, the people all used to be Buddhist. When Emperor Ashoka’s son was sent there, his main stronghold was founded in Kandahar on the border between Kashmir and Pakistan. The place became home to a famous scholar—Shakya Shri, who transmitted many of the Drikung Kagyu Order’s precepts.

“When Shakya Shri journeyed to Tibet, a disciple named Bi Bhuti Chandra was sent to Sri Lanka for a month to receive the teachings of a famous arhat. Upon seeing him, the arhat told Bi Bhuti Chandra that he and his older brother must take five different kinds of flowers with them back to Tibet. These flowers must be blessed, and must remain neither dried nor wilted. The arhat instructed that one of the types of flowers must be delivered to Shakyamuni Buddha in Jokhang Monastery, another to a Buddha in a certain other monastery, and another to the emanation of Bodhisattva Nagarijuna—Lord Jigten Sumgön. The arhat listed the names of five Buddhas to whom the flowers must be delivered.

“Shakya Shri later arrived at Yalong in the Lhokha prefecture of Tibet, which in the past was the early Tibetan Empire’s main stronghold as well as the location of Tibet’s first permanent settlement. More than two thousand years ago, Tibet’s second civilization was born there on the banks of the Yarlung Tsangpo River. When Shakya Shri as there, he lived in Tang Butche Monastery in Suona, where he transmitted the precepts to many people. Each time he did so, he would give Dharma vestments to a large number of people. One time, after the transmission of the precepts, an ordained disciple of the Drikung Order from Qinghai found he had not been given a set of Dharma vestments. As a result of his particular causal conditions, this disciple very much wanted to obtain one, so as Shakya Shri was walking past him on the stairs, the disciple grabbed hold of his sleeve and said that he had had not received any Dharma vestments. Seeing this, an attendant pushed the disciple away, causing him to fall down the stairs and get a bloody nose.

“In the historical annals it is written that every morning while performing the Dharma, Shakya Shri would see an emanation of the White Tara. After that the White Tara stopped appearing. When Shakya Shri asked why, he was told that it was because he had committed a great evil by harming the disciple of Bodhisattva Nagarijuna from Qinghai and causing him to bleed so much. Shakya Shri asked what he should do, and was told that he must give Dharma vestments to one hundred monastics and construct a mandala for Chakrasamvara. This mandala still exists to this day, and is located on the banks of the Yarlung Tsangpo River. I myself have seen photographs that were later taken of it; it is exactly as was recorded in the histories. This incident caused Shakya Shri to be aware of Lord Jigten Sumgön’s existence at Drikung Monastery, and Shakya Shri’s younger brother then sent Lord Jigten Sumgön flowers and a letter of thanks. This is how Lord Jigten Sumgön was confirmed to be Bodhisattva Nagarijuna.

“Lord Jigten Sumgön lived in the 12th century. He was born in the year 1143 and entered Nirvana in 1217; it has been nearly eight hundred years since then. Three years from now (2017) will mark the eight-hundredth anniversary of Lord Jigten Sumgön’s Parinirvana day. On that day a Chakrasamvara Puja will be held, for which Drikung Kagyu Buddhist centers all over the world are already busy preparing. Although not everyone will be able to congregate under the same roof at the same time, we can take turns going to Sravasti, because the venue there is relatively large. The main building at Sravasti was constructed in the Indian architectural style. The outer building appears Japanese in style, while the inside is set up in the Tibetan manner. After holding the puja at Sravasti, each Buddhist center will hold its own cultural events and performances throughout 2017 to celebrate and commemorate this special day. Any event which is of benefit to sentient beings will be fine. As for its details, each Buddhist center will be notified at a future date.

“At the age of thirty-seven Lord Jigten Sumgön began constructing a monastery for the Drikung Lineage—Drikung Thil Monastery, an undertaking that had been predicted by Lord Jigten Sumgön’s guru, Phagmodrupa. Lord Jigten Sumgön was abbot of Phagmodrupa’s monastery for three years. One day he dreamed of Phagmodrupa telling him to abandon his old sitting mat and find a new one. Another evening five lamas ran away, and because one of Phagmodrupa’s disciples at Drikung Thil Monastery had predicted that this would happen, an offering was made to Lord Jigten Sumgön. A local retreat center was expanded into a monastery in the year 1179, later to become the monastery of the Drikung Lineage which to this day is known as Drikung Thil Monastery.”

Next, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang conducted the Lord Jigten Sumgön Offering Ritual, and continued to bestow teachings.

“Eight hundred and thirty-five years have passed since the construction of Drikung Thil Monastery. In 1979, in Ladakh, I helped celebrate the eight-hundredth anniversary of the founding of the Drikung Kagyu Order; it has already been thirty-five years since then. Two years from now we will further commemorate the eight-hundredth anniversary of Lord Jigten Sumgön’s Parinirvana day. Many stories have been passed down about Lord Jigten Sumgön; too many to tell within a limited time. Importantly, however, Lord Jigten Sumgön placed a great deal of emphasis on Buddhist practice. By the time he was about fifty years old, he had already taken on many disciples, one of whom—Nyo Gyalwa Lhanangpa—made a great offering and implored the Dharma from him. Nyo Gyalwa Lhanangpa was one of the three most accomplished of Lord Jigten Sumgön’s disciples. Of these three primary disciples (Nyo, Gar, and Tsagang), Gar was the first incarnation of Garchen Rinpoche. Nyo was Nyo Gyalwa Lhanangpa, as well as the leader of Bhutan, which had no monarch back then.

“Later the Drukpa Kagyu arrived on the scene. Perhaps for political reasons, Nyo Gyalwa Lhanangpa moved on to Mt. Gangdisê, where he constructed an identical Drikung Kagyu monastery in a place called ‘Lhanangpa.’ This later became part of Nyo Gyalwa Lhanangpa’s name. ‘Nyo’ was a clan name; in modern times, the kings of Bhutan still carry this as their family name. Bhutan is a relatively small country; after becoming independent and in order to form a stable regime, it declared Drukpa Kagyu as its national religion. Years later, it has become somewhat more democratic and therefore conducts elections; it no longer has such a strict policy about Drukpa Kagyu being its national religion, and even allows other religions into Bhutan. Because of this, Nyo Gyalwa Lhanangpa’s heir invited me to establish a foundation there, and it has now been completed. I was also extended a personal invitation by his two sons, so in September of this year I will be making a visit to Bhutan. There are a lot of ancient retreat huts there. I told them not to disturb them so that when I go there I can determine how to restore the original architecture instead of building new ones.

“To return to the topic of Nyo Gyalwa Lhanangpa, back then he made offerings and implored the Dharma from Lord Jigten Sumgön a total of seven times. Legend has it that when the last of those offerings was made, the offering caravan was so unfathomably long that it stretched half-way up the mountain to Drikung Thil Monastery. When I was little, I heard many people from the Drikung region describe this event. Also, in the histories that have been passed down, I have read that the caravan included many horses and cattle laden with bag upon bag of offering items, all bound for the monastery. By the time the first one arrived, the one at the end of the line was still all the way back where the present-day airport is now located. Those histories do not contain a lot of information about the Drikung Kagyu Order, but according to a work written by a certain great practitioner, back then offerings were made one hundred at a time—including items such as musical instruments and so on—and every type was lined up in a set order. I would like to gather and organize all of this historical data at some point, but there is so much of it that these days I simply cannot find the time.

“By the time Chenga Sherab Jungne and Chenga Drakpa Jungne finished counting, there were found to be a total of 55,500 offering items. In addition, some believers made offerings of many lumps of brown sugar, which has great historical significance. On the surface it might seem that Lord Jigton Sumgön left due to being tired of having so many followers. Everyone looked all over the place for him, to no avail. Finally, after searching the many caverns behind Drikung Thil Monastery, someone found a translucent cave which Lord Jigton Sumgön had knocked clear with his cane, and inside were his mudra as well as an area where one could hang up one’s belongings. It was a very special cave. The songs found inside it have since been translated by Khenpo Namdol.

“They had finally located Lord Jigton Sumgön. The Dakini, Dakas, Dharma protectors, and so on from Gangdisê (the holy land of the body of Cakrasamvara), Lachi (the holy land of the speech of Cakrasamvara), and Zhari (the holy land of the mind of Cakrasamvara) had all implored Lord Jigton Sumgön to go into retreat in those locations, so he promised that even if he himself could not do so, he at least would send others there in his stead. This was the origin of those causes and conditions. In the end, all of the lamas went to the cave in which Lord Jigton Sumgön had gone into retreat to implore the guru to return to live at the ancestral monastery. Each of them held a khata in hand. Back then, khatas were not made of nylon as they are today; they were fashioned from silk or cotton. Because there were so many, they would be burned and their ashes fashioned into sacred life-sized images of Lord Jigton Sumgön and enshrined at the ancestral monastery. These sacred images, called ‘silk Buddha statues,’ no longer exist, perhaps as a result of the Cultural Revolution.

“Lord Jigton Sumgön told his followers that he had promised Lord Phagmodrupa and the Dharma protectors of the sacred places that he would go into retreat, and that they therefore had only one choice: Either Lord Jigton Sumgön would go into retreat in those locations and his followers would live in the monastery, or vice versa. In the end they chose the latter so that Lord Jigton Sumgön could reside in the monastery. As a result, Lord Jigton Sumgön first sent five hundred people to those sacred locations, and later eight hundred, and finally anyone who had fulfilled the four basic preliminary practices. It is recorded that each location played host to more than fifty thousand such practitioners. Gangdisê, Lachi, and Zhari each has its own residing guru. Back then an ancient Indian-style pagoda was presented to Lachi, and later they gave it to me. My plan is to donate it in turn to Drikung Thil Monastery. When I was in the National Palace Museum, I saw the same pagoda.

“Thus, for more than eight hundred years, practice has continued to be very important, and I, too, have done what I could to send people to places such as Lachi and Gangdisê. The monastery at Gangdisê has been rebuilt three times, and is currently the largest monastery in the region. In my work, A History of the Tibetan Empire, you can see some photographs of these places. Lachi is one of the main retreat locations for Nepal and India. Because it lies on the border of those two countries, many problems have arisen, and nowadays the lower part of it has been occupied by India. Despite these difficulties, the monastery was renovated twice. After that, however, due to lack of manpower to maintain them, its buildings burned down, so the only choice was to completely rebuild. As for sending lamas to Drikung Thil Monastery, outsiders are prohibited due to the fact that it is in a restricted area.

“Buddhism has gone global, so its sacred places should likewise be brought to the outside world. Five or six years ago, I came up with the idea to build Gangdisê Retreat Center on the edge of a national park in Germany, about an hour south of Hamburg, as well as Lachi Retreat Center in New Zealand, where five retreat rooms have already been constructed. This year it was consecrated by Nuba Rinpoche, but it still does not have a residing guru for retreat. For this reason it is open to people from all of our Buddhist centers. There are already thirty or forty Buddhist centers in such places as Auckland and Wellington, but those locations do not have good facilities for retreats, so anyone is welcome to go there. Nowadays quite a few people go there to perform various retreat events lasting from a few days to a week. Before this trip to Taiwan, I was originally planning on performing an empowerment in Germany. Later I asked another Rinpoche to do it for me. After performing the Amitayus for a week, he bestowed the Vajrasattva Empowerment.

“In December of this year, I will again travel to Germany. The practitioners there will learn how to go into retreat for one month, after which it will be decided whether or not they are able to go on a three-year retreat. When I make my visit I will bestow empowerments, and will transmit the Fivefold Mahamudra to those who decide to perform the three-year retreat. The local spiritual teacher will be Konchen Konchok Tenzin, and every day the attendees there will be led by a nun who was in retreat at Lachi for more than ten years. This year I will also bring with me a young Rinpoche from Bhutan who studied for more than twenty years at the Drepung Monastery Buddhist College in southern India and went into retreat under Nuba Rinpoche’s supervision for three years, where he is still in retreat. In December I will take this Rinpoche with me to learn German. His English is already pretty good; after that he will be able to transmit the Dharma directly in German. Thus, in the future we will be able to localize each Dharma text to every country and culture, thereby further propagating Buddhism. In time, there will be a major Drikung Kagyu center established in the Gangdisê in Germany.

“Actually, it has been thirty-five years since I first went there to consecrate that Buddhist center back in 1980. Now there are seven relatively large Buddhist centers there, in which many sutras, a written history of Lord Jigten Sumgön, and a collection of books about his practice and retreat are being translated. Now all of these have been consecrated, too. In addition, I’ve had a very peculiar affinity with Hungary. Around 1980 or so, I went there to visit. A few Buddhist centers had been established there, next to one of which was a Japanese temple, so I decided to go and take a look. At the time a major benefactor approached to tell me that her father did not have much longer to live, but that he was unable to accept his impending death. She implored me to give him guidance.

“After consenting to help, I went to his place of residence. This was a riverside restaurant, the interior of which was being renovated. Her father was lying on a recliner in one of the rooms. He, too, spoke English, so I told him, ‘After we are born, we must die; all animals are born, dried out, and reborn. This is the law of life. We are born and then have to die; everything we have accumulated must eventually be wiped out. All those who reunite must ultimately part ways, and all the bricks we lay are bound to crumble. These are the rules of life’s impermanence, and we have no choice but to accept them.’ I also pointed out to him that he was getting on in years.

“Later his daughter telephoned to thank me, and said that my teachings had helped them a great deal. That was the last time she contacted me. However, whenever she hears about me making a visit there, she always invites everyone over. That restaurant of theirs is the best one in the area; many officials have gone there to eat while visiting Europe. In Hungary there is a pagoda that was built by a Korean monastic. He saved up a third of his entire income and donated it as a virtuous Buddhist act. That pagoda is enormous, and is run in the traditional style of Japanese monastics. There are also many monastics from India, where traditional pagodas are in abundance. Their practitioners mainly practice the Lotus Sutra, but they remain relatively independent from this system.

“After the pagoda was finished, the major benefactors chose not to live there because it was rather remote. In fact, because the government had hoped to promote tourism there, the pagoda became a point of interest. The second time I went there, I was asked to bestow an empowerment, and I agreed. That place is only about two hours from Vienna by train, so I went ahead and made the journey so that I could bestow the Amitayus Empowerment. When I got there, I discovered that there were only seven attendees. These were all officials, but none of them had much faith in Buddhism. Anyway, seven chairs were arranged in a circle for them inside the pagoda, and I went ahead and bestowed the empowerment.

“About ten years later, they sent word to me that they had kept the pagoda in good repair but that no one lived there. There was housing and land available, and they had hoped to ask me to send a lama there. I did not grant their request right away, but when they made a formal phone call to implore me to accept their offering of this pagoda, I agreed. They expressed their wish to make an offering of the pagoda to the Drikung Kagyu Order. It just so happened that at the time, more than twenty lamas had just come out of retreat at a certain location, so I picked two of them and promised to send them to that pagoda within the week. Thus, the people in Hungary started to prepare for their arrival. I made a phone call to Ladakh, and a few days later the lamas arrived. They filled out the relevant forms at the embassy, and within ten days were granted permission to reside in Hungary.

“From then on they were paid a salary by the Foundation and taxed by the local government; as such, it was easy for them to obtain permanent residency permits, and later they became citizens of Hungary. I once visited there for a period of ten days. These two lamas had helped with the pagoda’s maintenance. Because the Korean who had originally been in charge, while still there, had asked the locals for help, the repairs had not been done properly; the exterior walls had been full of cracks and had even broken apart after a while. Therefore, he had gone ahead and given money to the Drikung Kagyu Order to take charge of a complete renovation, so these two lamas—wearing plain clothes—had worked like laborers to restore the pagoda. That Korean was so happy with their work that he had sent over a car for them to use. There were also Buddhists in the area from Vietnam, Budapest, Mongolia, and other places; gradually, those two lamas had formed relationships with them and were given their financial support. With it they constructed a Buddhist center that could accommodate more than three hundred people, and had statues of the Buddha delivered all the way from Nepal, placing Shakyamuni Buddha enshrined in the center, Lord Jigten Sumgön on the left, and Padmasambhava on the right. All of the interior drawings had also been done by the two lamas.

“The two lamas went to more than ten Buddhist centers in the Budapest area to hand-deliver invitations to the consecration ceremony. So everyone attended, including forty reporters and other people from the media. Nearly a thousand people participated in the ceremony, including local government leaders, legislators, and so on. In addition, students from a local school attended to give performances. Ever since the construction of the Buddhist center was finished, about forty or fifty people have visited there each year. I purchased some land on a neighboring mountain, and am planning to build a retreat center there. Usually buildings may not be constructed within the boundaries of national parks, but it is okay to build small-scale structures made of wood. Therefore, the plan is to complete eight huts there by next year some time so that people from Austria and surrounding areas can begin to participate in retreats. That sums up the three sacred sites located overseas.

“Before I came to Taiwan I drew up a plan to send a few people to Gangdisê this coming August, one of whom will be in charge of filming the surrounding scenery. Next year (2015), I will do a tour of North and South America; the following year (2016) I will visit Europe again. Next year the model for Gangdisê will be complete, so I will conduct rituals to concentrate all of its major blessings on that location. After that I will invite Garchen Rinpoche and Nuba Rinpoche to journey to the new Gangdisê with me to perform blessings so that it becomes just like the original Gangdisê. This is the same as how there is a Mount Wutai and a Mount Putuo in Mainland China, even though their origins are in southern India.”

His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang then continued to perform the Dharma. Upon its perfect completion, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche implored for permission to speak, which the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang subsequently granted.

“Today His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang has flown from Europe here to Taiwan, the most important reason for which was to participate in this evening’s Foundation Establishment Gala. The most important part of tonight’s proceedings is to give the community a clear understanding of how the Buddhism Foundation of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang will begin to operate in Taiwan. In addition, this evening’s gala will be filmed in its entirety by CTS and later broadcast on television repeatedly; for this reason, tonight’s events will all be done very professionally, including the stage performances and so on. It was everyone’s great good fortune that His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang made a special trip here all the way from Europe, and visited the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center this morning. The Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang has gone out of his way to come here and bestow blessing upon you. If you continue to be slack in your practice, then it is very possible that by next year only seven people will remain.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche reported to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, “I recently asked more than two hundred people to leave, because they were not practicing.” Next, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked Khenpo Namdol to introduce the Rinpoches and lamas that had also visited the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, and said that it had also been everyone’s great good fortune that these Rinpoches had been invited there by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang.

Khenpo Namdol gave a brief introduction to the Rinpoches and lamas in attendance that day: In order from His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s right were Regent Tritsab Rinpoche from India; Trichen Rinpoche from Switzerland—also a master practitioner of the Drikung Kagyu Order; and Sopa Rinpoche, one of the four Rinpoches from Nyizong Monastery in Qinghai. To His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s left, next to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, was Rinje Rinpoche from Ladakh. The lamas in attendance today, respectively, are Lama Drupon Taiding, a Dharma teacher in retreat at Garchen Rinpoche’s monastery; Garchen Rinpoche’s attendant Lama Abu; Lama Sonam of the Bamai Buddhist Association; His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s attendant Lama Samten; Lama Konchog Tsering of the A Li Rinpoche Buddhist Center; the Panchiao Buddhist Center’s Lama Wangdus; and Lama Tenzin from the Kaohsiung Buddhist Center, who had frequently come there to help out. All of the attendees gave a warm and enthusiastic welcome to the Rinpoches and lamas, the sounds of their applause thundering around the venue.

Upon the perfect completion of the puja, all of the disciples expressed their gratitude in unison to the Dharma Lord of the Drikung Kagyu Order, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, for having performed the Dharma and bestowed teachings. They all rose to their feet and paid reverent homage as the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang descended the Dharma throne. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is constantly creating incomparably auspicious and virtuous causal conditions for his disciples so that they can have the good fortune to listen in person to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s Dharma teachings and accumulate resources for practicing Buddhism. The disciples’ heart-felt gratitude and appreciation cannot be described with words, and they will never forget their guru’s boundless benevolence. His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang had chosen to visit the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center because of His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s great efforts to support the Order and his guru. The disciples saw with their own eyes the profound reverence with which His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche attended His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang; meticulous and hands-on, he did his utmost to respectfully serve his Three Grace-Root Guru, benefiting and moving countless sentient beings of the Six Realms with his awe-inspiring power and the auspicious achievements of his practice!

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Updated on November 5, 2014