His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – August 15, 2014

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presided over the Guru Yoga Puja at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Kyoto, Japan. There were a total of 270 attendees, including twenty-six believers from Japan, India, and Taiwan, as well as 244 disciples from Japan, Mainland China, and Taiwan.

At 2:00 in the afternoon, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne to perform the Dharma and bestow precious Dharma teachings upon all of the attendees.

“The Dharma being performed today is the Guru Yoga. Many believers—whether from Taiwan, Japan, or Korea—have erroneous views of Buddhism. Therefore, today I will explain it in simple terms.

“Shakyamuni Buddha was born 2500 years ago. India at the time was a land of many religions. Actually, if you take a close look at them, the world’s religions—including Taoism in China; Hinduism, which is currently very prevalent in India; Sikhism; Catholicism; Protestantism; the shrines worshiped in Japan—all have one thing in common: They all hold that as long as their constituents have faith, then after dying they will be able to pass on to that particular religion’s ‘Heaven.’

“The believers of any given religion pray to their god or gods for well-being, happiness, love, wealth, health, and power. As a result, many people around the planet pray for the above every day. That being the case, doesn’t it stand to reason that no disasters should occur in this world, and that everyone should be happy? Human culture has been around for about five thousand years. Despite all of humanity’s worship to ancestors and deities, these five millennia have been filled with the constant occurrence of wars, natural disasters, accidents, epidemic and incurable diseases. Now, in the twenty-first century, human scientific advancement has reached remarkable heights, and many countries have invested a lot of resources into efforts to improve people’s so-called happiness. However, they have all failed. As a result, just about everyone suffers from a kind of unease when it comes to his or her future; this is because no one knows what the future holds.

“Shakyamuni Buddha emerged after having practiced and attained Buddhahood as a human being. The Buddha then left the method of attaining Buddhahood and His wealth of experiences for humanity. Shakyamuni Buddha once said, ‘I have spoken the Dharma for forty-nine years, yet have not spoken a single Dharma.’ What Shakyamuni Buddha meant by this was that none of the Dharmas spoken had been invented by Shakyamuni Buddha; the Buddha had simply taught humanity from His experiences of having practiced as an ordinary person until attaining Buddhahood. Shakyamuni Buddha also once taught that all sentient beings possess the conditions for attaining Buddhahood; we simply must be willing to learn and practice according to these methods in order to to attain Buddhahood in some future lifetime. Thus, during the Han Dynasty in China—about 2200 years ago—a part of Buddhism spread into China. By the Sui and Tang Dynasties, Buddhism was flourishing in China, and part of it spread to Korea while another part spread to Japan. Yet another part spread to what is now the region of Myanmar, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and so on.

“What is Tibetan Buddhism? Actually, it is an amalgamation of traditional Chinese Buddhism and Indian Buddhism . 1400 years ago, a Tibetan king invited Padmasambhava to Tibet to propagate Buddhism. At the time, a Zen master had arrived in Tibet from China. Debate ensued among the Tibetan king’s advisers over whether Tibet should adopt Chinese Buddhism or the Buddhism brought by Padmasambhava from India. So the king asked Padmasambhava and the Chinese Zen master to hold a public debate on Buddhism; the result was, Padmasambhava’s arguments were much more profound than those of the Zen master from China.

“After that, Padmasambhava’s teachings began to be passed down in Tibet, and they integrated Exoteric Buddhism. Exoteric Buddhism refers to all of the theories and sutras expounded by the Buddha, and can roughly be divided into the Pure Land Sect, the Avatamsaka Sect, the Zen Sect, the Tiantai Sect, and so on. Exoteric Buddhism involves Buddhist theories, but to truly implement the Dharma in one’s daily life, help oneself to attain Buddhahood, and help sentient beings, one must learn Tantra. Padmasambhava’s teachings were based in Exoteric Buddhism. Only after practicing this for ten years can one begin to learn Tantra. Using schooling as an analogy, learning Tantra is like pursuing a PhD in graduate school. Because historically Tibetan Buddhism has never been transmitted outside the Tibetan region to Han Chinese areas, plus the fact that very few people speak Tibetan, it is therefore very easily misunderstood, and this sort perceived mysteriousness is often taken advantage of by certain people to do evil things.

“These days Tibetan Buddhism is divided into Four Major Orders, one of which is the Kagyu. The Kagyu Order is further subdivided into many lineages, and the one that was transmitted to me is the Drikung Kagyu. The other Major Orders include the Nyingma, the Sakya, and the Gelug. In each Order, those who can propagate the Dharma are called ‘Rinpoches.’ The majority of Rinpoches are reincarnated, meaning they were Rinpoches in their past lives and have been authenticated as such in this lifetime by their respective orders. However, last year the Dalai Lama and the throne holders of the other orders held a conference at which it was decided that from then on, no further reincarnated Rinpoches would be authenticated. Actually, nowadays every order has its own official website on which it has posted photographs of all the Rinpoches that have been authenticated by that particular order. Besides the reincarnated Rinpoches, there are also a small number of Rinpoches that have attained fruition from cultivation in this very lifetime.

“How do we know whether the Dharma being transmitted to us is real or fake? In Buddhism we speak of compassion, so anyone transmitting the Dharma should teach you not to harm any sentient beings. Furthermore, because propagators of Buddhism must observe many precepts, they are sure to teach you not to violate any laws set by the local government. If they are genuine Buddhist practitioners, they are certain to teach you to be less greedy, to reduce your hatred of other sentient beings, and to believe in cause and effect. A true teacher of the Dharma must instruct you to have a profound belief in the existence of reincarnation and, in this lifetime, to be completely prepared for the happiness of your future lives.

“Thus, Buddhism does not simply involve praying for protection and blessings; the Buddha is a guide teaching us what to do and how to do it. However, we ourselves must be the ones to act. It’s like how in school, all students are taught the same lessons, and then it is up to them to go home and reinforce what they are taught by doing homework. Buddhist practice is similar; you cannot implore the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, or the guru to help take the great test of life for you. Buddhism does not teach us to do a bunch of strange things that are different from the norm; the most important thing it will teach us is to change our preconceived notions and self-righteousness so that we, and all other sentient beings, can live blissfully in the future.

“Today I’ll provide a very brief introduction, and I hope it helps you all to form a more accurate mental picture of Buddhism. There is a reason we practice the Guru Yoga. Using a worldly analogy, whenever you go to see an elder or a VIP, you usually bring a small gift with you to show your sincerity. From a Buddhist point of view, our ability to enjoy relative wealth in this lifetime—having enough money to buy things, eat, purchase a house, and so on—is a result of our having made offerings and given alms in our past lives. Thus, good fortune that comes from making offerings and giving to charity can be likened to money we have saved over your past lives. However, even money we save can be used up eventually, so in this lifetime we need to continue making offerings and giving to charity.

“I am performing the Guru Yoga today not so that you can strike it rich; my only hope is that by way of this Dharma, you can accumulate enough good fortune to practice Buddhism in this lifetime and your future lives, and eventually attain Buddhahood. The history of the Drikung Kagyu Order is more than nine hundred years long. Its patriarch was Lord Jigten Sumgön, and the Lineage has been passed all the way down to the thirty-seventh and current throne holder, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. In Tibetan Buddhism, every Rinpoche who ventures forth to propagate Buddhism needs to be able to show believers a clear proof of his or her Dharma lineage. It is not enough to simply show a photograph taken with the throne holder of a certain Order; people who claim authenticity based on that are deceiving others.

“My guru is the thirty-seventh throne holder of the Drikung Kagyu Order, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. This is publicly acknowledged; I did not make it up. Propagating Tibetan Buddhism in Japan, I am faced with many obstacles and difficulties, because Japanese people learn from an early age not to trust foreign concepts, and have a deep fear of religion. However, I myself have changed in this lifetime through my practice of Buddhism, and have used the Dharma to help many suffering sentient beings. So although it might not be easy to propagate Buddhism here in Japan, as long as I am still alive I will continue to do it, for I do not want anyone to commit evil acts in the name of Tibetan Buddhism.

“In Japanese bookstores these days it is possible to purchase books written by what Japanese believe to be experts on Tibetan Buddhism. I have decades of experience with Tibetan Buddhism, and I know that such books merely contain information that is common knowledge; they do not contain any correct methods for practicing Tantra. Tantra is not publicly transmitted. Shakyamuni Buddha once mentioned in the sutras that if certain methods are not suited to certain people, then they must not be transmitted to them. Because Tantra is not transmitted in public, many people misunderstand it. People are very curious; even when they obviously are not able to learn Tantra, they still want to know what it is. As a result, they are liable to have a lot of unnecessary misapprehensions.

“Speaking from my own experience, Tantra is like a secret to an elementary school student wanting to understand what a person with a PhD knows. Thus, you must not think that just because you have a respectable social status or are well-read, it means that you can understand Tantra by yourself. If you have not learned Tantra step by step in the proper order, you cannot possibly comprehend it.

“The ritual being performed today includes elements from both Exoteric Buddhism and Tantra. I will not explain those parts related to Tantra to you, because you do not yet possess the root capacity to learn it. However, I will do my best to explain the Exoteric Buddhist parts in the simplest terms possible. The point of the Dharma being performed today is to make offerings to the lineage gurus of the Drikung Kagu Order. The reason we should make offerings to the gurus is that by living in this era, we do not have the good fortune to listen directly to the Buddha’s teachings; as such, all of of the Dharma is passed on to us by way of our gurus. As with learning anything else, we must start by making offerings to our teachers.”

Next, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed the attendees to open up their Dharma texts. After reciting it once, the guru continued to explain its meaning to everyone.

“Before practicing any Dharma, you must first gives rise to an aspiration. An aspiration is your motive for participating in the puja. The type of aspiration mentioned in today’s Dharma text is called ‘uncommon,’ which means it differs from that written in other Dharma texts. The purpose of giving rise to an aspiration is to enable ourselves to practice Buddhism in the future and become liberated from reincarnation, so its content is rather different. The first line reads, ‘May liberation come to all my wrathful enemies, all demons that would harm me, and all those that would hinder me and other sentient beings from being liberated from life and death, as well as all mother sentient beings in the entire void and universe that are benevolent toward us (including the Hell Realm, the Hungry Ghost Realm, the Animal Realm, the Human Realm, the Asura Realm, and the Heavenly Realm).

“Speaking of the Animal Realm, yesterday I saw a Taiwanese news story about a dog whose owner took it to a seaside fish market. A pair of fish had dropped onto the ground, and next to them were some puddles of water. The dog used its nose to splash water onto the fish over and over. This continued for a few minutes, and the dog even walked up to the fish and pushed at them with its nose to see if they were still alive or not. When I read about this, it occurred to me that this dog had more compassion than many humans. If a human saw a living fish on the ground like that, the first thing he or she would do would be to pick it up, and then take it home, kill it, and eat it. Thus, humans are worse off than dogs.

“The words I mentioned from the Dharma text just now are meant to help our enemies and all sentient beings in the universe to leave suffering far behind so that they might attain Buddhahood in the future. The point of giving rise to an aspiration is not to seek personal protection or good health; rather, it is done in the hope that any sentient beings that would harm us will all be able to attain Buddhahood some day. This is the essence of the Dharma.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed the Japanese and Taiwanese attendees to recite from the Dharma text in Japanese and Chinese, respectively, and to put their palms together while doing so. The guru then continued to perform the Dharma and explain the contents of the Dharma text.

“The lines at the end of the Dharma text contain three verses: First, from now until our attainment of Buddhahood, we vow to perform virtuous acts in body, speech, and mind; second, until we die in this lifetime we vow to perform virtuous acts in body, speech, and mind; and the last verse says that from right now until this time tomorrow, we vow to perform virtuous acts in body, speech, and mind. If you want to attain Buddhahood, you should recite the first verse; if you hope to avoid disasters and sickness over the next few decades, you should recite the second verse. I imagine for the majority of Japanese, it is enough just to recite the third verse, because they should be able to manage not eating meat for a day—and this includes seafood. They should also be able to manage not smoking, not drinking as much, not cursing people, not uttering ugly words, and not deceiving people, in thoughts as well as in deeds. If you cannot even succeed in refraining from doing these things for one day, then you should not recite any of it.

“From this you can see that Tibetan Buddhism is quite democratic. Let me reiterate: If you want to attain Buddhahood, recite the first verse; if you hope to avoid calamities in this lifetime and reincarnate as a human in your future lives, recite the second verse; if you just want to be a completely good person for a day, then just recite the third verse. As long as you recite it, the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, ghosts, and your ancestors will all hear you. Of course you don’t have to recite it; all that will happen is that your ancestors will get angry. Recite if you want; I will not force you to. Buddhism is nothing like your superstitious preconceived notions; it is even more democratic than elections are these days in that it does not deceive people the way some politicians might.

“Next is an explanation of the Uncommon Refuge Prayer. What does ‘refuge’ mean? Whatever you learn, you need a teacher to teach it to you, and you need a method by which to practice it. This is the definition of taking refuge. Once you have recited the Uncommon Refuge Prayer, it means you will, at some point in your future lives, attain Buddhahood. The next part is the Common Aspiration; that is, the aspiration that is common to both Exoteric Buddhism and Tantra. After that is the Common Refuge Prayer, which again includes those ways common to both Exoteric and Tantric Buddhism. Following that is a section about the Four Immeasurables, the practice of benevolence, compassion, empathetic joy, and equanimity. These are just taking refuge and aspirations; a more detailed explanation of what they involve would take a long time.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the attendees in a recitation of the contents of the Dharma text, including the Seven Branch Offerings Prayer and so on. “I originally was planning on bestowing the Meditation Empowerment upon you all, but many of the Japanese believers present would not practice Buddhism, so I am leaving that part out.” His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then began to perform the Guru Yoga, and explained that the previous passage of the Dharma was about imploring Lord Jigten Sumgön and the lineage gurus to approach the mandala to receive offerings.

Right then and there, the disciples implored His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to be allowed to offer the mandala. After being granted the guru’s compassionate permission, the ordained disciples and the Japanese and Indian believers who had drawn lots when entering the venue presented the mandala and implored the Dharma from His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche on behalf of sentient beings. After the Mandala Offering Ritual was complete, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to bestow teachings.

“Next we will recite the Legend of Ten Directions and Three Times. These lines of text give praise to the Three Jewels as well as the blessings we receive from them which allow us to practice the Dharma. You Japanese believers may recite in Japanese. Just do your best; don’t be nervous. If you mispronounce something, it’s alright. Because this is your first time reciting it and you are sure to make mistakes, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will not punish you.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performed the Dharma for a while and led the attendees in the chanting of Lord Jigten Sumgön’s mantra. “A Buddhist mantra embodies the yidam’s aspiration, compassion, and practical experiences, as well as the power of the blessings bestowed upon the people chanting it. Blessings are bestowed so that people or things that hinder our Buddhist practice can be eliminated. Originally I was going to perform an empowerment, but because these Japanese believers are not willing to practice Buddhism, I will skip that today. Next I will perform the Guru Yoga Ritual.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued performing the Dharma and bestowing teachings. “With regard to the part I just recited, people who truly take refuge and vow to do good deeds today can, by way of today’s offerings, obtain a chance of not falling into the Hell Realm, the Hungry Ghost Realm, and the Animal Realm after this lifetime; furthermore, they can stop all of the illnesses, demons, and other hindrances from occurring in their environment. The ‘yoga practitioner’ referred to in the Dharma text is not you; it is a practitioner such as myself. If you cultivated your Buddhist practice to the same level as mine, then you, too, could obtain these effects, and you would experience an increase in your longevity, wealth, and good fortune. This increase would not be as great as what I have experienced, but as long as you attend the puja, you will all get some, even if it’s just a little bit. In addition, in the Dharma text there is mention of praying to the Dharma to eliminate all enemies and hindrances, with emphasis on helping Buddhist practitioners.

“Thus, different amounts of good fortune will be obtained depending on whether you vow to constantly do virtuous deeds before you attain Buddhahood, to do so only over the course of this lifetime, or to do so just for one day. This is cause and effect, and is the source of all gurus’ wisdom. If I were to tell you right off the bat what you can expect to get, you would make up a huge vow and use it to deceive the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. If your vow is to do virtuous deeds for a single day, then you will only gain one day’s worth of longevity, wealth, and good fortune. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are quite remarkable.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to perform the Dharma. In the process, the guru also conducted the Tsok Ritual, during which each of the attendees received offerings that had been blessed by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche as well as the auspicious causal condition to dine with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas during the puja.

After performing the Dharma for a while, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche personally led the attendees in a recitation of the Auspicious Dharmadhatu Prayer. The guru’s boundless benevolence moved many of the disciples to tears.

After performing the Guru Yoga to a perfect completion, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the attendees in a performance of the Dedication Prayer and said, “As long as you have believed in Amitabha Buddha in this lifetime, stopped killing (eating meat and seafood), and recited the Aspiration Prayer for Rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land, you will have an opportunity to obtain the path to Amitabha’s Pure Land. Everyone in the mundane world, from birth to death, spends a lot of time reading books, earning money, and seeking happiness. However, no one has ever sat down and calmly contemplated death. We’re all going to die some day, and Buddhism is absolutely able to help us avoid both physical and mental suffering at the time of our death. How can this be proven? If any of you Japanese believers wish to know, feel free to implore me to reveal the Dharma to you. Otherwise, I will not talk about it.

“If you have read the stories about how I have liberated sentient beings, you will know that the Dharma can help people avoid suffering before they die. In a little while I will recite in Tibetan, while the Japanese believers recite in Japanese. You should listen very closely. The disciples from Taiwan should not recite out loud, because you have no compassion in your voices; as such, you may recite in silence.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche sang the Aspiration Prayer for Rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land. As the guru’s compassionate and fervent Dharma voice filled every corner of the Buddhist Center, all of the attendees received extremely auspicious blessings. Feeling deep compassion for all the sentient beings suffering in reincarnation, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche could not help but get choked up while reciting the prayer. All of the attendees were very moved.

Next, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the disciples in a performance of the Dharma Protector Achi Ritual.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche announced, “Tomorrow, I will perform the Thousand-Armed and Thousand-Eyed Avalokiteshvara Dharma; in such troubled times as these, we have great need of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s help. Afterward I will perform the Chod. Performing liberation for the deceased in the month of August is something that was mentioned in the sutras; as such, it gradually became a custom in Chinese Taoism, in Japan, and even across the rest of Asia. According to the sutras, liberating one’s ancestors cannot be accomplished simply by burning blocks of wood or sweeping their graves. Tomorrow, when you come to participate in the puja, I will explain to you in detail the importance of liberating the deceased.

“I have come in contact with many different religions, and only Buddhism can genuinely help the deceased. Many people think performing liberation has nothing to do with them; they think it is simply a ritual and a custom. However, this, too, is in fact a form of cultivation. These days there are not very many practitioners left who are able to perform the Chod which I will perform tomorrow. Even those who understand it tend not to truly be able to benefit sentient beings with it, because it is very difficult to master the Chod. Furthermore, only a practitioner who has cultivated to a level of immense compassion can perform this Dharma.

“Thus, the point of performing the Guru Yoga today was to help you all to accumulate good fortune so that you may continue participating in the puja tomorrow. In Buddhism, it is very difficult for anyone to come in contact with such an auspicious Dharma in this lifetime. In my own experience, nothing in this world is more important than Buddhism. I run a business, too, and I also have a family; however, Buddhism has never stopped me from doing business or taking care of my children. For those who have attended today but do not attend tomorrow, it means they do not have sufficient good fortune. You should all give this some thought!”

Upon the perfect completion of the puja, the disciples thanked His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in unison for performing the Dharma and bestowing teachings. The rose to their feet and paid reverent homage as the guru descended the Dharma throne.

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Updated on January 24, 2015