His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – August 16, 2014

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presided over the Thousand-Armed and Thousand-Eyed Avalokiteshvara Puja at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Kyoto, Japan. A total of 274 people were in attendance, including thirty believers from Japan, India, and Taiwan and 244 disciples from Mainland China and Taiwan.

At 2:00 in the afternoon, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne. Prior to performing the Dharma, the guru bestowed precious Dharma teachings upon all the attendees.

“During today’s puja I will perform two different Dharmas. The first one is the Avalokiteshvara Dedication Prayer of Rapid Attainment of Great Bliss. If you wish to practice Buddhism, you must start by learning to be compassionate. Of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas introduced by Shakyamuni Buddha, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is the one that represents compassion. Of the sutras expounded by Shakyamuni Buddha, one is a special introduction to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara—the Universal Gate Chapter. Before I relate this to you, I will first give a brief introduction on what compassion is. Compassion (cibei) is a term especially used in Buddhism; it is not mentioned in other religions, nor do their practitioners endeavor to cultivate it. Compassion is a combination of two different things: ci, which means exchanging the good things you have for the bad things possessed by sentient beings; and bei, which is the ability to help sentient beings to leave the suffering sea of reincarnation and be reborn in the Pure Land.

“Compassion does not distinguish between people, affairs, or things. It has a different standard from that of being a good person and doing good deeds; these are things people should do in any case, but it is very easy for people to limit themselves to fixed objects. The Universal Gate Chapter gives an introduction to how Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara helps suffering sentient beings. According to what is written in the sutra, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is an emanation of an ancient Buddha, and attained Buddhahood prior to this round of human history. In the current cycle of human history, only Shakyamuni Buddha has attained Buddhahood. According to the sutra, a total of seven Buddhas will attain Buddhahood on Earth, and Shakyamuni Buddha is the fifth one.

“After attaining Buddhahood, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara saw that there were still many sentient beings trapped in the suffering sea of reincarnation, so transformed from a Buddha to a Bodhisattva. Why did Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara do this to help sentient beings? It is because in the sutra it is written that Buddhas primarily help Bodhisattvas attain Buddhahood, while Bodhisattvas primarily help ordinary people leave reincarnation behind to set foot upon the path to Buddhahood. In simple terms that you can understand, there are many different kinds of teachers; professors teach PhD graduate students, while an elementary school student must learn from an elementary school teacher. Not very many people in this world become PhD students, but there are a great many elementary students. Even though you all think you have learned a lot, in the Buddhas’ and Bodhisattvas’ eyes people who have not learned Buddhism are like elementary school students.

“Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is a Mahasattva, the term used for Bodhisattvas that have attained the Tenth Ground and beyond. The Avatamsaka Sutra teaches ordinary people how to cultivate from a First Ground Bodhisattva to a Tenth Ground Bodhisattva. Bodhisattvas of the Tenth to the Sixteenth Ground are also called Dharmakaya Bodhisattvas and Mahasattvas, and reaching the Seventeenth Ground means the Bodhisattva has attained the fruition of Buddhahood. Thus, attaining Buddhahood is an endeavor of many lifetimes, and requires diligent cultivation in each of them; you cannot become a Buddha simply because you understand a bit about the sutras. You have the causes and conditions to come in contact with the Dharma in this lifetime because you practiced Buddhism in your past lives.

“The character guan in the Chinese translation of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s name Guan Shi Yin does not mean seeing with the eyes; it means looking at the world with the mind. This involves viewing the world’s suffering from the state of Samadhi. The character shi refers to all worldly sentient beings that have not yet left reincarnation. The last character in the Bodhisattva’s name, yin, is the sound of all sentient beings earnestly praying to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. In the sutra it is written that in the universe, humans on Earth have the keenest sense of hearing; thus, the Dharma is transmitted by way of language here on Earth.

“Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara appears in many different forms in the mundane world. Today I will perform the Eleven-Faceted Thousand-Armed and Thousand-Eyed Avalokiteshvara Dharma. In the sutra it is recorded that Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara once made a vow to liberate all sentient beings from the suffering sea of reincarnation, and that if the Bodhisattva failed, the Bodhisattva’s head would shatter into eleven pieces. After helping sentient beings for a very long time, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara saw that many of them still had no way of becoming liberated from reincarnation, so felt guilty of violating the oath the Bodhisattva had made. As a result, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s head split into eleven pieces. After learning of this, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s guru Amitabha Buddha felt Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s compassion, so helped the Bodhisattva transform into a yidam with eleven heads and forty arms. In the palm of each hand was an eye, and each hand held a Dharma vessel.

“Because there are too many sentient beings in the suffering sea of reincarnation, and they all need the help of the Dharmakaya of Thousand-Armed and Thousand-Eyed Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Before performing the Chod, I will first chant Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s mantra and implore the Bodhisattva to liberate all sentient beings reincarnating in the Six Realms. Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara has a very deep affinity with humans on Earth; this is written in the sutra. I would even go so far as to say that every human is certain to have had contact with Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara in a past life. It would take more than a minor kalpa to explain the secret meaning of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s mantra, even with the Buddha’s wisdom. To give you an overview of it, however, this mantra embodies all of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s compassion, merits, and Dharma activities. In a moment, while I lead you in a chanting of the mantra, you should give rise to compassion and mercy for all of the sentient beings that still have not been freed from the suffering sea of reincarnation. You also should give rise to a mind of repentance.”

Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the attendees in a performance of the Dharma and a chanting of the Great Six-Syllable Mantra. After performing the Dharma to perfect completion, the guru continued to bestow teachings.

“The most important purpose of the Dharma we just performed is to help all sentient beings so that they might form an affinity with Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. In the sutra it is written that if no affinity exists between a sentient being and Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, then the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas cannot help that sentient being even if They wanted to. For this reason, we implore Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara for help on behalf of all sentient beings. The Japanese believers present might not be able to keep up with the speed at which we chant. The sentient beings we help include our own relatives as well as all the people we do not know personally; we must pray even for them. Many people think they will be alright on their own, but in fact, everything that happens on Earth and throughout the universe is directly or indirectly connected to us. Thus, the point of this hour or more prior to performing the Chod is to prepare for it. Now you may go ahead and take a twenty-minute break; I will perform the Chod at 3:25.”

All of the attendees stood and paid reverent homage as His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne.

At 3:25 in the afternoon, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche held the Chod Puja at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Kyoto, Japan. A total of 277 people were in attendance, including thirty-one believers from Japan, India, and Taiwan, as well as 246 disciples from Mainland China and Taiwan.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne and personally presided over the auspicious Drikung Kagyu Chod and bestowed precious Dharma teachings upon the attendees.

“The next Dharma to be performed is the Chod. The Chod is one of the Eight Sadhanas in Tantra. The fact that it is a Sadhana means that if a practitioner specializes in performing the Chod in this lifetime, he or she is certain to become liberated from life and death. In the Dharma text it is written very clearly that practitioners cannot wear any protective devices or Buddhist icons while performing the Chod. During the Chod, the person performing it makes an offering of his or her body, blood, and flesh to all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas on behalf of all sentient beings. The practitioner also does this to give alms to sentient beings on behalf of all sentient beings, especially those in the Ghostly Realm. These days there are not many practitioners in the Four Great Orders who are still able to perform the Chod, and no one can do so publicly in front of so many people. The reason for this is, to be able to perform the Chod, one must first practice Exoteric Buddhism for at least ten years, and then conduct the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices for three years. The Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices include making full prostrations, chanting the One-Hundred Syllable Mantra, offering the mandalas, and performing the Guru Yoga, each one hundred thousand times.

“Next, the practitioner must go into retreat to cultivate a yidam, which usually means practicing the Dharma of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, and chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra one million times. Performing a retreat means remaining in a prescribed location without ever going out, speaking with anyone, bathing, shaving one’s head, or cutting one’s fingernails, until the retreat is perfectly complete. After that, the practitioner must master the Mahamudra, the meditation method of the Drikung Kagyu Order. The Mahamudra is divided into four sequences, and each of these is subdivided into three sequences. Only after one has attained the highest sub-sequence of the second stage can one learn the Chod.

“The Dharma text of the Chod is divided into two volumes. The first is to be cultivated for oneself, and once the practitioner masters it, he or she can then perform it for others. As is mentioned in the Ratnakuta Sutra, the Bodhisattvas are fearless, because They possess the power and mind of compassion. Thus, they are not afraid of being harmed by any sentient being.” Next, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began performing the Chod, and after a while continued to bestow teachings.

“While participating in the puja, you must all give rise to a compassionate and repentant mind, and uphold respect for the Dharma and the practitioner who is performing it. If you possess these three aspects, then with the addition of the merits of the presiding guru, all of your wishes will come true. The Chod is especially powerful in helping those sentient beings who died violent deaths to become liberated from their suffering.” Next, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche resumed performing the Chod.

Upon the perfect completion of the Dharma, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche bestowed upon the Japanese believers a special explanation of the prayer contained in the Dharma text. “In ancient times, people in both Japan and China used to worship ghosts and deities. Before Buddhism entered Tibet, this was common practice there, too. The last line of the Dharma text mentions that we pray that these blessings will benefit shadowless deities and ghosts. ‘Benefit’ here means the hope that it can cause them to leave their ghostly bodies and be reborn in the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss. If you perform the Chod for a long period of time, you can pray for blessings to be able to obtain eternal happiness and youth devoid of any sickness. Thus, anyone who wants to be young and healthy should practice Buddhism very diligently.

“I can explain a few lines of the Dharma text to you, because they involve Exoteric Buddhism. Here it is written that because of our past evil causes and acts—meaning, the  killing, theft, deception, smoking cigarettes, drinking alcohol, and so on that we have committed in our past lives—we will attract to us the suffering and disease manifested by demons and ghosts. We hope that today’s puja can immediately eliminate these hindrances, and we implore for blessings from the gurus. The Dharma text also includes numerous other prayers to implore for the gurus’ blessings; to sum up, illness has many causes. After participating in the puja, you must work very hard at doing good deeds.

“The Buddha once said that every person creates his or her own life. Our parents merely gave us our physical bodies in this lifetime; however, our future and our future lives are of our own making. Whether or not you decide to act according to the Buddha’s teachings is completely up to you; Buddhism is definitely not a dictatorship, nor does it use fear-mongering or any other means to terrify or threaten anyone into believing in the Dharma. All sentient beings are equal before the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and gurus. This is because all sentient beings possess the conditions for attaining Buddhahood. Many people pray for many things, but they are all the makers of their own futures.

“Using myself as an example, I should never have lived this long. Ever since I began practicing Buddhism at the age of thirty-six, however, I have implemented the Dharma in my everyday life; this has changed me. Everyone can apply the Dharma; all you need to do is be willing to listen, and you will surely succeed. Some people are afraid of doing it, or do not wish to, because they do not believe in cause and effect or reincarnation. They also have no faith in themselves, the guru, or the Dharma. Therefore, it stands to reason that Buddhism does not mix with politics, because the Dharma can help any and all sentient beings. I hope the pujas held over the past two days can provide a great deal of help to the land of Japan. We pray to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for a decrease of disasters in this country, and that no more wars will occur here. This has always been the wish of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.”

“As I said yesterday, it is very difficult to propagate the Right Dharma in Japan, but I will not give up. As long as I am still alive, I will do everything in my power to teach the Dharma to Japanese believers. Thousands of years after Shakyamuni Buddha’s prediction in the Ratnakuta Sutra, there are many people in the Age of Degenerate Dharma (our current age) who are out there propagating distorted versions of the Dharma, flattering their believers, and trying to destroy Buddhism, all for fame or profit. Thus, propagating Buddhism in the Age of Degenerate Dharma is a very difficult venture, but I will do what I can in this lifetime to accomplish it. Right now the same thing is true all over the world: It is getting harder and harder to maintain genuine and proper traditions. However, we must persevere for as long as our efforts can benefit humankind.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the attendees in a performance of the Dedication Ritual, and led the disciples in a performance of the Dharma Protector Achi prayer. Upon the perfect completion of the puja, the disciples expressed gratitude for His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings and performance of the Dharma. Rising to their feet, they paid reverent homage as the guru descended the Dharma throne.

« Previous Puja TeachingsNext »

Updated on January 24, 2015