His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – August 24, 2014

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presided over the auspicious Great Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, with a total of 1316 participants. The puja came to a pure and perfect completion under the blessings and protection of Lord Jigten Sumgön, the lineage gurus, the Three-Grace Root Guru His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang, and Dharma Protector Achi. The puja produced merits for countless sentient beings and filled all of the attendees with Dharma joy.

Before the puja began, a disciple thanked Rinpoche and all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for granting her the opportunity to share her story of how the guru helped her and her family, as well as the chance to repent for the evil acts she had committed.

Before taking refuge with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche of the Drikung Kagyu Order on November 2nd, 2008, she participated in the auspicious Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness for three years in a row. Because her older brother passed away in 1999 as a result of colorectal cancer, and her father-in-law died in 2006 after having been paralyzed and bedridden for thirteen years due to a stoke. For that reason she signed up later that same year to participate in the grand puja for the first time in order to implore the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to liberate her brother and father-in-law. She repented deeply for having been so selfish; she had only wanted to help her family members, without giving a thought to the other suffering sentient beings in the Six Realms that were even more in need of the Dharma’s assistance.

On August 2nd, 2008, her father had died from illness. In life he endured great physical suffering and had not wanted to say goodbye to his family. His children had all been aware of this, but had not been able to bear this suffering in his stead, and had been powerless to otherwise alleviate it. While raising them, her father had not had any extra time to come in contact with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas or learn from a virtuous mentor. After retiring he had taken refuge with a Dharma master, but still had not been able to practice Buddhism for lack of physical strength due to his lung fibrosis. Gradually it had become more and more difficult for him to breathe; he would be winded just from taking a few steps, and his body had become weaker and weaker. During the final three months of his life, he would often complain about feeling too hot even when the air conditioning in its coldest setting; he would often yell about feeling cold even when covered with a thick stack of blankets. In addition, his mood had been very unstable at times. A week before his death, still unable to let go of worries about his family and perhaps knowing his days on Earth were limited, he handed several responsibilities over to the disciple. She had seen the fear of death in his eyes, and although she did not want to disappoint him, she was also powerless to do anything, for at the time they’d not had enough good fortune to seek an audience with Rinpoche.

After taking refuge, she listened to Rinpoche’s teaching of the disintegration of the Four Cardinal Elements of Earth, Fire, Water, and Wind that all of us will experience at the time of our death. Remembering the many ways in which her father had suffered before passing away, her eyes overflowed with tears. Her own ignorance vexed her even more, for in 2006 she met the greatly compassionate Bodhisattva-like Rinpoche. And yet, she did not immediately follow the guru; clearly she had missed an opportunity to accumulate the necessary good fortune to lessen her father’s suffering. The great puja for transferring consciousness was held on August 31st, 2008, and was attended by 10.000 people. Yet, because of her misjudgment and insufficient amount of good fortune, causes, or conditions, she had not registered her father’s name for liberation. Before the start of the puja, she had told herself over and over that she must implore the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to help her father be freed from his suffering. And so she had asked a Dharma brother volunteering at the grand puja’s venue how to beseech Rinpoche to liberate her father from suffering and be reborn in the Pure Land. After listening to the Dharma brother’s advice, she had contacted the Dharma brother who had signed her up to participate in the grand puja. That Dharma brother had been a complete stranger to her; she signed up for attendance via acquaintances of acquaintances layers removed from her. And yet, that this Dharma brother was willing to take the time to help her filled her heart with gratitude. At the same time, however, she repented for her tendency not to be thankful for the care shown to her by other people.

For three years in a row, from 2006 to 2008, that Dharma brother had kindly helped signing her and her acquaintances up for the grand puja, yet she had never even said a word of gratitude. For this reason she’d had neither the good fortune nor the causes and conditions to listen to stories of how Rinpoche had helped sentient beings. Worse even, she had not possessed the causal condition to take her father with her to seek an audience with the greatly compassionate guru while he was alive. She wished to repent, for she genuinely felt extremely ashamed! She had come to an even more profound realization that one really must not put off practicing Buddhism!

When she first met Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, she could not help but feel nervous and at a loss of words. She knelt before Rinpoche’s Dharma throne, and the guru compassionately asked, “May I help you?” She felt as if she had encountered an affectionate father-figure, and tears rolled down her cheeks as she earnestly implored Rinpoche to liberate her father who had worked so hard all his life, so that he could be reborn in the Pure Land and never reincarnate again. Obliviously she said, “If my father cannot escape reincarnation, then I pray that he will be born into a nice home so that he will not have to suffer so badly again!” Rinpoche compassionately allowed her to go ahead and register to participate in the Sunday general pujas as well as the Chod Puja so that her father could be liberated. Moved beyond words, she had thought to herself how praiseworthy Rinpoche’s great compassionate vow was, to so selflessly help sentient beings without asking for anything in return! How could she repay such an enormous debt?

During the Chod Puja held on September 17th, 2008, while listening to Rinpoche’s compassionate Dharma teachings and witnessing how selflessly the guru liberated sentient beings, she was moved to tears. Words could not describe the depth of emotion she had felt. She was touched by the mind-blowing force of Rinpoche’s kindness, compassion, joy and giving! This was something she had never before experienced! Furthermore, how could such an ordinary person such as herself have had the good fortune to meet such a great practitioner as Rinpoche? This experience had strengthened her determination to learn the Dharma from the guru!

After the Chod Puja, she dreamed that her father was in a flower-strewn raised area behind a pond covered with lotus blossoms with a white steed and chariot next to him. The dream left a very deep and lasting impression on her. Realizing that her father had been liberated by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, she immediately let go of all of the grief and worries. She was grateful to Rinpoche for having helped her father with such great compassion.

The week before her father’s passing, she had a dream about her older brother who died ten years previously. He was standing in a bamboo thicket, his face ashen with worry as he told her he could not find the way home. She asked, “Why can’t you find the way home? Follow me; I’ll take you there.” Upon waking, she wondered why she suddenly had this dream. She had been commuting to the temple every year to set up a memorial tablet to have her brother liberated. In the past ten years, she had never once had a dream about her late brother. Only after seeking audience with Rinpoche who was like a Buddha and a Bodhisattva, did she understand that only a master practitioner such as the guru could help her brother be freed from suffering. However, during her audience with Rinpoche she had only naively thought about imploring for her father’s liberation and not her brother’s! Nevertheless, when she participated in the Chod Puja, the guru very compassionately helped her brother as well. A week after the Chod Puja, she had another dream about her brother telling her that he was doing just fine now. She was stunned by the guru’s great compassionate powers, for all sentient beings in the Dharma Realms in the Ten Directions could be moved by them! She was grateful for the help Rinpoche had bestowed upon her brother.

She was grateful to the guru for allowing her to become a disciple on November 2nd 2008 despite her heavy karma. The week after, while at work, she suddenly tripped and fell down the staircase. As her armful of documents had scattered across the ground, she thought, “I’m a gonner; I’m going to break my arm or leg for sure.” She lied limp on the floor for a long while, unable to move. Even the people who walked past her did not dare to get too close, and only helped her up after she showed some signs of movement. Despite having fallen from such a great height, she only sustained cuts and bruises at various places on her legs. In the emergency room a doctor asked her to confirm that she really didn’t hit anything with her head or torso, and she answered very clearly, “That’s right; nowhere else hurts except for my legs.” She and her family were very grateful for the guru’s blessings. Her mother even said that if it weren’t for the protection and blessings bestowed by the guru, she would certainly have sustained a much more serious injury.

During work on December 15th she was involved in a car accident. The front of the car was totaled, and again she was sent to the emergency room for an X-ray. As it turned out, her sternum was fractured. She stayed the night in hospital for observation, but nothing else was found wrong with her. She immediately felt even more grateful for the guru’s blessings, as well as the protection of Dharma Protector Achi, and repented continuously for the evil acts she had committed in the past. These two mishaps had made clear that the effects of her karmic retribution had been greatly lessened. She was grateful to the guru for bestowing compassionate teachings from the Dharma throne; these allowed her to be fearless during the two accidents, for she’d had Rinpoche to depend on. However, they had also caused her to repent and reflect even more deeply on the harm she had done sentient beings in the past.

Before taking refuge she had been a follower of folk beliefs, her mind filled with greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt. She used to think that burning incense and worshiping deities were enough to give her protection and wealth. She had loved listening to fortunetellers, and had believed she could change her fate. However, this had always backfired in the end, so she had often blamed other people for her woes. The worries caused by this vicious cycle disgraced her features and her speech became increasingly harsh to the point of hurting her family, friends, and colleagues. All of this behavior had planted the causes that lead to the Three Evil Realms, not to mention all the evil acts she had committed in her past lives that had harmed countless sentient beings. Had she not met Rinpoche, then she would certainly still be muddling through this life, one day at a time. Furthermore, she would have wasted the opportunity to practice Buddhism in this lifetime while in human form. She was grateful to Rinpoche for taking the trouble to teach her.

During each puja she listened carefully to the guru’s teachings, and every time she was moved to tears. Repenting deeply for all of the sentient beings she had harmed and the evil acts she had committed in the past, she wondered how she would ever redeem herself for all of this evil karma, and how she would ever repay her debt. Furthermore, how would she cut the base habits of greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt from the depths of her mind? And how could she ever repay the karmic debt owed for the evil acts her family members had committed? She repented for the self-righteous attitude she held in her Buddhist practice shortly after taking refuge, and for the evil act of slandering the Buddha. She likewise repented for this same attitude that caused her family members to commit sins, and for still not being able to make them accept the importance of receiving guidance from a virtuous mentor, even after having taken refuge for more than five years.

During the five plus years of practice, she had continuously received blessings from Rinpoche. The guru did everything within his power for sentient beings without expectation of anything in return. Yet, she was as plain as any other ordinary person. She was constantly harming sentient beings and asking forgiveness, yet did not know how to honestly repent. She had often harmed them for personal gain, yet whenever karmic retribution had presented itself she had been unwilling to accept it. As the guru had said, she was an ordinary person—she did not believe in cause and effect or accept the imminence of impermanence, nor did she possess a truly repentant or compassionate attitude. Only now had she finally come to a vague realization that the Four Immeasurables that she chanted every day reflected an aspiration for all sentient beings to get far away from desires, hatred and attachments, and give alms indiscriminately. She had not lived up to the guru’s benevolence, and she owed an apology to sentient beings. Even worse, she showed them no mercy. Her family members’ unwillingness to practice Buddhism was the result of an evil seed she herself had planted which had prevented them from giving rise to belief in the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. She felt deeply ashamed.

In mid-August of last year her second-oldest sister-in-law committed suicide after a twelve year long suffering from depression. When the disciple hurried over to her sister-in-law’s house and saw her two helpless children as well as the corpse of her sister-in-law lying on the floor, a sense of sadness welled up unbidden from deep within her. Crying uncontrollably by the side of the deceased, she suddenly remembered the guru’s exhortations and quickly wiped her tears. Later she took her sister-in-law’s children to seek audience with Rinpoche, and the guru compassionately asked, “How can I help you?” Her niece answered, “Please, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, we beg you to liberate our mom and dad.” Rinpoche asked, “Whom of you is willing to be vegetarian?” After her niece had raised her hand, Rinpoche compassionately agreed to allow her to participate in the Chod Puja. The disciple was grateful for the guru’s help. In her coffin, her sister-in-law’s complexion had appeared mild and gentle. The corners of her mouth were slightly upturned as if she was asleep. After the cremation, her bones shone a beautiful pink color. These were all auspicious signs of the liberation Rinpoche had bestowed upon the deceased.

Six days after her sister-in-law’s death, the disciple’s mother-in-law finally came to the end of her suffering after being bedridden for eleven years due to spinocerebellar atrophy. Both her pain and the suffering of her family members had been excruciating when she was ill. In the early stages she was still able to walk, but would often fall. This ability to get around had ended a year into her sickness, and she begun using a wheelchair. Gradually she had lost the ability to feed herself and speak, and of course the more her condition worsened, the more astronomical her medical costs had grown. Three years before passing away, the disciple’s mother-in-law had to be taken to the emergency room because of a fever that sent her into shock. The doctor informed the family that she needed a tracheostomy. The disciple and her husband advised against this, instead speaking in favor of allowing nature to take its course, for Rinpoche had spoken of how much suffering a tracheostomy brings. Moreover, even if such a procedure were to be done, her mother-in-law still could not return to normal. For the sake of her mother-in-law, they had asked the rest of the family to think carefully about it. In the end, however, the other family members decided to go ahead with the tracheostomy. Being hooked up under the invasive treatment of a urinary catheter, nasogastric tube, and tracheostomy tube, her mother-in-law’s suffering intensified.

After having spent another three years in the intensive care unit the disciple’s mother-in-law neared her last days on Earth. Despite the blood-flecked saliva oozing from the corners of her mouth, she still did not want to die. The disciple whispered into her ear over and over to have faith that the guru would help her, and that as long as she remembered Rinpoche’s sacred title she would be saved. When visiting hours were over she left the ICU, but less than half an hour later the hospital informed her that her mother-in-law passed away. She was grateful for Rinpoche’s blessings, for he alleviated some of her mother-in-law’s suffering. She also wished to thank the Dharma brother who gave her a nectar pill, which she had placed in her mother-in-law’s mouth so that she might have a future opportunity to give rise to an affinity with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The disciple had once shown the Dharma photo of Rinpoche from the book ‘Happiness and Suffering’ to her mother-in-law while she was ill. The disciple also asked her if she would like to seek audience with the guru. With some difficulty her mother-in-law nodded. Rinpoche once said that people who are suffering from illness know best who can give them help. After having suffered from illness for so many years, her mother-in-law took but one look at Rinpoche’s Dharma photo and immediately knew that the guru could help her. However, because the disciple had not done an adequate job at accumulating good fortune, causes, and conditions, her husband and other family members were unwilling to take her mother-in-law to meet the guru; they did not want to be inconvenienced by it. She had had no choice but to look on helplessly as her mother-in-law had continued to suffer.

In the past her father- and mother-in-law had both raised so-called “holy hogs.” These pigs would get so large that they could neither roll over nor even stand up to urinate or defecate. Unable to eat normally, they had to be fed through a tube. This reminded her of how her father- and mother-in-law had lived after falling ill. After becoming paralyzed, they lost all dignity and were unable to speak, eat, or move. This made the disciple realize just how terrible karmic retribution could be, and just how vulnerable sentient beings were. She repented for having resentment and anger towards her husband because of his attitude towards life. She started to bear resentment and treated both her husband’s parents and her own with a discriminating mind. Her courtesy toward her in-laws had only been superficial, and she did not endeavor to be a good daughter-in-law to them. She had even complained behind their backs quite frequently. Had it not been for the guru’s Dharma teachings and blessings, she would never have reflected upon herself. Furthermore, all of these evil acts she had committed were enough to send her straight to hell, so she was grateful to the guru for saving her.

Taking refuge in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had caused her to relearn how to treat people and conduct herself in society. She was grateful to Rinpoche for frequently encouraging the disciples with stories of the guru’s own diligent cultivation; when in times of trouble, all she had to do was think about the guru’s experiences, and this would give her hope. During every puja Rinpoche would explain abstruse and profound Dharma using metaphors that were easy for sentient beings to understand. This helped her realize many things despite possessing neither any root capacity nor the foundations of Buddhist practice. It also gave her an even firmer belief that only by following Rinpoche would she have a chance at breaking away from the suffering of reincarnation in this lifetime.

She repented for not having been respectful toward the guru; this caused her to often be distracted or muddle-headed with impure thoughts. She also repented for not having acted in full accordance with the guru’s teachings. As a result, she had made frequent mistakes and worried the guru. In the process of her cultivation as a Buddhist practitioner, she had always thought a lot but done very little. Her selfishness had prevented her from taking actions that would benefit sentient beings. She knew very clearly that she must do her best to cherish the causal condition to practice Buddhism in Rinpoche’s footsteps for there would be no second chance in future, yet her determination was lacking. Sometimes she really hated her evil habits; they caused her to waste Rinpoche’s time and energy! Right then and there she prayed for genuine repentance. She wished to break away from the evil habits she had accumulated over the course of many lifetimes, learn to treat sentient beings with equality, accept cause and effect, and cultivate compassion. She had a deep belief that the guru’s teachings were the foundation upon which sentient beings could truly build an appreciation of how to be liberated from reincarnation. It would be even harder to measure all of the benevolence Rinpoche bestowed upon sentient beings bit by bit. The disciples were so blessed to be able to learn the Right Dharma from Rinpoche!

She appealed to all the Dharma brothers present to do their best to also cherish this causal condition to learn Buddhism from Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche; to constantly reflect on their past mistakes; to understand, care, and protect sentient beings; to amend their own evil habits; and to diligently practice the Dharma. Only then could they repay the debt of gratitude they owed the guru, the Buddha, their parents, and sentient beings.

In November of last year, the Glorious Jewel disciples went to the Taoyuan Airport to welcome His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. Upon witnessing the conscientious care and respect with which Rinpoche attended His Holiness’s every need, she had been overcome with admiration and deference. Rinpoche followed His Holiness’s every step with great care, constantly glancing around and making every effort to protect His Holiness. This sight caused the disciple to feel great shame as a disciple. Rinpoche had always made expedient use of all sorts of methods to teach his disciples. She firmly believed that with the guru’s teachings, the Glorious Jewel disciples were the most fortunate of Buddhist disciples in the entire universe! She was grateful to Rinpoche.

Lastly, she offers her gratitude to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, His Holiness, the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Dharma Protector Achi. It was her most respectful and sincere wish that Rinpoche and His Holiness would be in good health and that the Dharma would long remain in this world, benefiting all sentient beings in the Dharma Realms in the Ten Directions.

At 2:00 in the afternoon, surrounded by incense burners, musical instruments, and the jeweled parasol, Rinpoche walked on the flower-strewn white carpet of Eight Auspicious Symbols towards the mandala. He made respectful prostrations to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and presented a khata to the wish-granting jeweled Dharma throne of His Holiness. Rinpoche then lit offering lamps to the Buddha and ascended the Dharma throne.

Before performing the Dharma, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche bestowed precious Dharma teachings upon all the attendees.

“Today I will be performing Amitabha’s Dharma of Rapid Attainment of the Pure Land, which is also called the Dharma for Transferring Consciousness. Many people think transferring consciousness for the deceased is a very simple matter; they think reciting a sutra and chanting the Buddha’s name a few times is enough to liberate sentient beings. To give an analogy, if you wanted to immigrate to another country, you must learn a lot of things beforehand. First of all, you must learn the language of your country of destination; secondly, you must have sufficient funds; thirdly, you must be determined to go there. In addition to all of these preparations, you must go through a lot of procedures while applying for immigration.

“So, going to Amitabha’s Pure Land is not as simple as you might think; chanting Amitabha Buddha’s name alone cannot guarantee your way there. It is written quite clearly in the Amitabha Sutra that people who wish to be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land must meet certain conditions. One is that while alive, they must carry out the Ten Meritorious Acts. The Ten Meritorious Acts include Refraining from Killing, Stealing, Sexual Misconduct, Making False Speech Frivolous Talk, Harsh Speech, Divisive Speech Greed (taking things that do not belong to you), Hatred (not resenting or hating others), and Ignorance (not having a profound belief in cause and effect). Only people who have carried out the Ten Meritorious Acts and have fulfilled the conditions written in the Amitabha Sutra of ‘not lacking good fortune, causes, or conditions;’ that is, those who vow and possess the prerequisites of good fortune (not good fortune of the Human and Heaven Realms, but the good fortune that is obtained by way of Buddhist practice), merits (cultivated from practice), and causes and conditions (affinities with Amitabha Buddha and the guru) in this lifetime and even past lives can be carried over into the Pure Land.

“At the end of the Amitabha Sutra it is written that one should chant Amitabha Buddha’s name, but it does not mention how one should do it. It simply says, ‘Before passing away, do one or two niàn! ‘ This does not mean chanting a few times; it refers to one’s thoughts. In the sutra it is also mentioned that before passing away one must ‘spend one or two days;’ this means going into retreat from a period of one or two days to seven days. Only people who have gone through this process of cultivation can be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land. In neither the Amitabha Sutra or the Amitayurdhyana Sutra —both sutras about the Pure Land—is it written that chanting the Amitabha for the deceased will guarantee that they will be reborn in the Pure Land. What makes you all think that paying someone to recite the sutras is enough to send the deceased to the Pure Land?

“According to the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows , whenever a person passes away, their family members should conduct extensive Dharma activities on the deceased’s behalf. ‘Extensively’ does not mean going to every Buddhist temples to light lamps; rather, it refers to doing things that can help the deceased accumulate good fortune, including making offerings, giving alms, repenting, and so on. Only then can the deceased obtain the good fortune, merits, causes, and conditions necessary to pass away and be reborn in the Virtuous Realms. Burning paper lotus flowers, covering the deceased with a Tantric-Dharani quilt, and chanting the Buddha’s name a few times are definitely not the right ways to help them be reborn there. If you want to practice Buddhism, then you should act in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings. If something was not mentioned in the sutras, then it certainly is not something the Buddha taught. From the Dharma transmitted by Shakyamuni Buddha, it is evident that for the deceased to become liberated, he or she must possess good fortune, merits, causes, and conditions; if he or she does not, then the deceased’s family members can implore for these things on the deceased’s behalf.

“An example is how the Venerable Maudgalyāyana implored for Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings so that he could learn how to rescue his mother from the Hungry Ghost Realm. Shakyamuni Buddha instructed the Venerable Maudgalyāyana to make offerings to all of the monks who had just come out of retreat. Those who followed Shakyamuni Buddha were definitely not just like the average, ordinary people of modern times; in the sutras it was written that the Buddha had1200 disciples at his side. Unlike you, each one of them had achieved the fruition of an arhat. Only after making offerings to these 1200 disciples did the Venerable Maudgalyāyana obtain the merits and good fortune necessary to liberate his mother from the Hungry Ghost Realm.

From this story it is apparent that the Venerable Maudgalyāyana was an arhat with the highest of supernatural powers. And yet he still was not able to liberate his mother by himself. What makes you think reciting the sutras for a couple of hours is enough to liberate your parents? Everything you do must have a foundation of some sort, just as your Buddhist practice must be based on the Buddha’s teachings. If you think you can liberate the deceased simply by finding some people to chant the Buddha’s name, it is not exactly correct. On the positive side, however, such chanting will at least provide the deceased with causes and conditions for their future lives. Actually, ever since I began propagating Dharma in 1997, I have seen many people reciting sutras in various places. They have not been able to solve their problems, but due to having recited the sutras, they at least were able to obtain the causal condition to come to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center.

“Becoming a practitioner who can help sentient beings is not something an ordinary person can achieve. From the point of view of Tantra, one must liberate sentient beings with the help of the Amitabha yidam. The practitioner must chant the Amitabha mantra at least a million times while in retreat. Being in retreat means that you absolutely must complete this task within a set period of time. If you set out to chant the mantra a million times within three months, then you cannot leave the retreat hut until you have completed that task, even if it kills you. Thus, these days there aren’t many people at all capable of achieving this. After chanting the mantra one million times, you must then cultivate the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices (making full prostrations, chanting the Hundred-Syllable Mantra, offering the mandala, and practicing the Guru Yoga, each 100,000 times). You then have to receive the Amitabha Empowerment and oral transmissions from your guru, and while completing yet another retreat, you must develop a very clear grasp over your own life and death. Only then can you liberate people. In simple terms, if you wished to send a person to a place where you yourself have never been, how would you describe it? How would you be qualified to take anyone there? If you know absolutely nothing about the Pure Land, then how could you say you can take someone there just by chanting the Buddha’s name?”

Just then a disciple nodded off. Rinpoche instructed her to stand, and gave her a severe scolding. “Does she think what I’m talking about has nothing to do with her? Or has she participated in too many pujas, and thinks today’s is just one more to add to the list?” Right then and there, Rinpoche told her she was not qualified to sit in the front, and that she should sit in the back of the Buddhist Center. The guru then continued to bestow teachings.

“Now you all know why I canceled the grand puja this year. If even my disciples act like this, then I dare say Taiwan does not have the causal conditions for me to continue transmitting Tantra here! I have presided over the Great Amitabha Puja for nine years, and every year I urge sentient beings to go vegetarian Nevertheless, each year you all continue to eat meat. To ‘extensively conduct Dharma activities’ means following each and every one of the Buddha’s teachings; if you don’t, then what good is participating in the pujas to you? Do you think you’ll really obtain blessings and protection? You won’t!

“Many people think that after participating in a puja for transferring consciousness, they will be cured of their illnesses and their husbands and children will do as they are told. We participate in this puja because we have harmed too many sentient beings throughout our past lives, and this has resulted in hindrances that have prevented us from being reborn in the Pure Land in this lifetime. Our participation in the puja for transferring consciousness is done in the hopes that those sentient beings will not hinder our Buddhist practice in this lifetime; we are not here in search of a better lifestyle. Thus, if those of you who have come to participate in today’s puja are not determined to liberated from life and death in this lifetime, and have simply come seeking blessings and protection, then all you will get out of today’s puja is some good fortune of the Human and Heaven Realms, which you certainly cannot use in this lifetime. If you are determined to be liberated from life and death, then your participation in today’s puja will help sentient beings to obtain the causes and conditions to be liberated, which in turn will allow you to obtain the same to be liberated in future.

“If you are here to seek relief from illness, to liberate your own karmic creditors such as any aborted children so that they will not hate you, or to improve your relationship with your partner, then my advice is that you do not participate in the puja. Leave immediately, because remaining will not be of any use to you. There are many out there who distort the Dharma. The Buddha liberates sentient beings not to rescue them from such temporary mundane suffering, but from the suffering that comes from reincarnating over and over through lifetime after lifetime. If you want to avoid reincarnating in a future lifetime, don’t you have to break away from all evil in this one? Even the tiniest evil act is enough to disqualify you from going to Amitabha’s Pure Land.

“Don’t be misled by the mention in the sutras that many people will give rise to a great attitude of repentance before they pass away; such people are extremely rare. You are unable to do as they do, because you have not suffered enough. As is written in the sutras, ‘it is difficult for the wealthy to practice Buddhism.’ Taiwan is not one of the richest nations on Earth, but you really do live in comfort. What do your insignificant worldly sufferings really count for? At least no wars are happening here, and everyone lives in relative peace and happiness. Thus, your lives are overly content and you do not know what it means to suffer. Whenever a very minor mundane problem occurs, don’t you act like it’s some enormous source of unbearable suffering? You are here participating in the puja right now. ‘Fortune, merits, and causal conditions’ are for the benefit of all sentient beings that are either related to you or not, so that they can become liberated from life and death. This is the Buddha’s vow. Only if you also uphold this vow while participating in the puja right now can you merge yours with the vow of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

“Many people think that they will be cured or better off if they participate in the puja to liberate their karmic creditors, but this is not exactly true. Why not? It is just like the parable Shakyamuni Buddha once said, in which a large number of abalones had been placed in a room. After they were removed, the room still smelled like them; their odor did not go away immediately. It is the same with you; you should not think that you will be fine after participating in a puja for transferring consciousness during which your karmic creditors are liberated. Actually, you will continue to have problems, because their odor will continue to linger around your body. What should you do about it? You should make a firm resolution to practice Buddhism.

“Practicing Buddhism does not mean changing your temperament; that does not require such diligent cultivation. All you need to do to change your temperament is read a book or stare at the mountains or the sea every day; gazing into the distance will improve your mood just fine. Cultivation involves amending all behavior that leads to reincarnation. If you have not committed evil, or if you stop committing evil acts and give rise to virtuous karma, then things that would lead you to reincarnate will naturally and gradually leave you. If you do not have this sort of mindset while participating in the puja, your ancestors and karmic creditors might still be liberated, but it would not be a result of your cultivation. Some people think this has nothing to do with whether or not they practice Buddhism, and that they are not here for that. Whether or not you engage in Buddhist practice, you are all constantly cultivating yourselves throughout your lives. Mundane laws, too, require that you amend your behavior; if you are not willing to do so in the mundane world, you are very liable to commit crimes. From a supramundane point of view, this means amending all behavior that leads to reincarnation.

“Don’t think that only religious people need to practice. The reason there is so much corruption and crime in the world is that people are unwilling to amend their ways; they only come to the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, or me for help if they have a problem. If nothing is wrong, they continue living their lives, allowing their greed to grow and grow until they do something wrong. The reason that disciple dozed off a little while ago was that she thinks she has done a pretty good job of cultivating, and that she does not need to pay attention to anything I say since she has heard it before. In the sutras Shakyamuni Buddha talked about ‘reminders,’ which meant to constantly remind or urge you all day long to be mindful. This is because you really do have severe karmic hindrances; without these constant reminders and urgings, then pretty soon you will go backward and fall again!

“The reason I am performing the Great Amitabha Dharma for Transferring Consciousness today is that I promised Amitabha Buddha I would perform it once each year. However, I am now doing so on a smaller scale. I am not liberating humans; humans are too difficult to liberate. As is clearly written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, humans on Earth are the most difficult beings in the universe to liberate. Humans are obstinate, conceited, difficult to tame, and difficult to teach. After more than twenty years of liberating sentient beings, I have come to the profound realization that liberating ghosts is easy compared to liberating humans, for of all sentient beings, they have the most thoughts and desires. When a puja is held, sentient beings only have causal conditions as a result of people attending; only after they have these causal conditions can the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas then help them. Many people wonder why so much suffering and so many natural disasters still occur in the world despite making vows every day; it is because making a vow is not enough by itself. Amitabha Buddha and Shakyamuni Buddha made vows, too, but when you do not possess causes, conditions, and good fortune, no matter how much you vow, it will be of no use. Many would ask, ‘Why is my situation still so bad even after I’ve made my vow?’ It is because you have not acted according to your vow.

“For a puja for transferring consciousness such as the one being held today, the presiding practitioner must possess compassion and merits. I have told you this little story before. There was once a yogi (a lay practitioner) who walked past the door of a home where the family had just lost one of its members. Inside there were two monastics trying to transfer consciousness for the deceased. The yogi used his clairvoyance, and learned that the presiding practitioner was capable but not compassionate, because he kept thinking about what offerings he might receive from the deceased’s family later on. The little shami present was compassionate, and anxiously hoped that the deceased could be liberated, but did not have any merits. So, like the other monastic, he was unable to transfer the deceased’s consciousness. With a heart full of compassion, the yogi wanted to help, but first needed to plant the seeds of causes, conditions, and good fortune for the deceased. As such, he asked the family members, ‘Could you possibly give me a bowl of butter tea as alms?’ They agreed, and the yogi thought to himself, ‘This is an offering made on behalf of the deceased’. After drinking the tea, the yogi then transferred the deceased’s consciousness.

“This is a very simple story, but very significant nevertheless. If the deceased had not made offerings and did not possess good fortune, then the yogi could not have helped him even if he wanted to. Furthermore, compassion is useless without merits, and vice versa. Surely you wonder, ‘How do you know whether someone has compassion and merits?’ Well, just observe how the practitioner normally operates and treats people. Is there an admission fee to their pujas? Does the practitioner spend all day advertising or coveting merits?

“I have never coveted merits in my entire life. All I have done is to plod along in my practice, slowly but diligently; as long as the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas know what I’m doing, it’s good enough for me. Thus, participating in a puja for transferring consciousness is not at all about chanting the Buddha’s name or worshiping the Buddha; today’s Dharma especially is Tantra that was transmitted personally by Amitabha Buddha. It is not publicly transmitted, nor is it at all like any of the ways of reciting the sutras and worshiping the Buddha that you know from Exoteric Buddhism. Although using such methods can transfer someone’s consciousness, it takes a lot of time.

“You all know the story of the Precious Penitential Rites of Emperor of Liang. Master Bao Zhi led more than a hundred monastics in continuous prostrations before a thousand Buddhas in order to liberate Emperor Liang’s concubine. However, the Rites only managed liberate her from the Animal Realm and send her to the Heaven Realm. You have all read many stories in the sutras, but none of them mentions being liberated to Amitabha’s Pure Land. After introducing Amitabha Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha had little time left. He transmitted the Dharma of Transferring Consciousness to one person only—Shakyamuni Buddha’s aunt. This Dharma is the ‘Sixteen Kinds of Contemplation in the Pure Land School,’ and no one has ever practiced it since. The same applies to all the Dharma performed today: if the presiding guru has not mastered the Phowa (an accomplishment that can guarantee that a person passing away from this lifetime will be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land), then they cannot perform the Great Amitabha Dharma for Transferring Consciousness. If you did not possess causes and conditions accumulated from your past lives, then you would not have been able to come here today and participate in this puja. Now that you are here, you should give rise to great compassion. You are not here for your own minor gains; your wish should be the same as Amitabha Buddha’s grand aspiration—that all sentient beings can be reborn in the Pure Land. Only then can you be received by Amitabha Buddha in the future.

“Whether or not you practice Buddhism or have the highest root capacity, having participated in today’s puja will plant a cause for you to be reborn in the Pure Land. As long as you are compassionate and wish that the guru and Amitabha Buddha can help all sentient beings, you will have planted a seed that will cause a practitioner or a guru to help you when you die. If you have selfish thoughts to do with romance or becoming pregnant and etc., then the karmic effect of obtaining a guru’s help will not materialize in your future. This is very important to keep in mind.

“Next I am going to begin performing the Dharma. In Tibet, it takes an entire day to perform this Dharma, because it includes many Tantric rituals. You probably think it’s very strange that so many things are placed in the Tantric mandalas of Tibetan Buddhism. It is because when practitioners perform this kind of extensive Dharma, they are not just doing it for the benefit of the people present; they are also performing the Dharma for all the sentient beings in the Six Realms. In order to help them, the practitioners must perform many rituals and use many Dharma instruments, and require the help of the yidam and many Dharma protectors, Dakas, and Dakinis. This is the reason so many objects must be placed on the mandala. Because this subject touches on Tantra, I won’t explain it today.

“The Great Amitabha Dharma for Transferring Consciousness was transmitted to me by His Holiness personally. Actually, for a period of time some parts of the Dharma text were lost, but His Holiness sorted it out, compiled it, and transmitted it to me. When the transmission occurred it was quite simple; His Holiness just recited it once, and then handed me the Dharma text. This is very different from how I constantly remind you all day long. After His Holiness orally transmitted the Dharma to me, I had to go and practice it by myself; whenever I came across any parts I did not understand, I would ask His Holiness about them. That was all.

“If I had not had this sort of root capacity in a past life, I would not have been able to master this particular Dharma, nor would I be able to finish performing it within just three or four hours. This is because if I could not enter Samadhi, this Dharma would be difficult to perform. You should not think reciting it continuously is very simple; actually, at the same time that I’m reciting, I am constantly visualizing. You should all contemplate what I’ve just taught and not just think about your own personal desires or dwell on your personal views.”

Rinpoche began to perform the auspicious Great Amitabha Dharma for Transferring Consciousness. First the ordained disciples offered the mandala and implored Rinpoche for Dharma on behalf of sentient beings. After the Mandala-Offering Ritual was concluded, the guru performed the Dharma for a while and then continued to bestow his teachings.

“The Mandala Offering is performed at the beginning of the puja. During the puja, sentient beings first make their offerings, and then the presiding guru receives them on behalf of the lineage gurus, the Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas. This is what provides the sentient beings with sufficient good fortune to participate in this puja. The parts I just recited were the aspiration, the vow, and an introduction to Amitabha Buddha’s Pure Land, palace, and that the guru is no different from the yidam.”

Rinpoche continued to perform the Dharma. After leading the attendees in chanting the long Amitabha Mantra, he performed the Dharma again for a while and then bestowed teachings upon the attendees.

“The next part of the ritual is to show that the guru is no different from the yidam, and the repeated performance of this part is a respectful invitation for the yidam’s Dharmakaya to approach the mandala to receive the Eight Offerings. Each offering has a different meaning. For example: The Music Offering, which is an offering to all virtuous mentors, the Buddhas and their retinue, and is offered constantly with respect that is made in the hopes that auspicious Buddhahood will be bestowed. Offerings are not made to obtain riches or good health; they are made to attain Buddhahood, which of course cannot be accomplished in this lifetime. However, if you have made offerings, you are guaranteed to attain Buddhahood in a future lifetime. Now we will continue to make offerings.”

Rinpoche continued to perform the Dharma. After a while, the guru bestowed more teachings.

“That whole section I performed just now was about making offerings. Why is it necessary to make offerings? It is so that we and the sentient beings can accumulate good fortune. Each offering has its own significance; for example, the Lamp Offering can eliminate all darkness and completely fill the void with light. Offerings are very important.”

Next, Rinpoche continued to perform the Dharma. As he did so, the eight offering maidens offered a song of praise, and the Tsok and Tea-Offering Rituals were conducted. Each of the attendees received a share of offering items that were blessed by Rinpoche, as well as the auspicious causal condition to dine with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas during the puja.

While performing the Ritual of Transferring Consciousness, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche compassionately allowed all of the attendees to speak the names of the people they wished to have liberated out loud several times. The guru instructed the attendees to stand and make prostrations before the mandala, led them in a recitation of the prayer within the Dharma text, and continued to perform the Dharma of Transferring Consciousness. Rinpoche’s great, compassionate, all-embracing, and awe-inspiring power filled the void with his uninterrupted, solemn Dharma tones, benefiting countless sentient beings. All of the attendees expressed their sincere gratitude to the guru for using his own life force to liberate the sentient beings suffering in reincarnation. Many people were moved to tears.

After performing the Dharma to perfect completion, Rinpoche instructed everyone to temporarily close their Dharma texts and listen while the guru bestowed teachings. “The Aspiration Prayer for Rebirth in Amitabha’ Pure Land of Utmost Bliss is not a song for you to sing; you must earnestly give rise to an aspiration while reciting it. Now I am going to recite it in Tibetan, so listen closely.”

Rinpoche recited the Aspiration Prayer for Rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land of Utmost Bliss in both Tibetan and Chinese. The guru’s Dharma voice was filled with compassion and the auspicious power of blessings, praying in extreme earnest for all sentient beings. Feeling compassion for all suffering sentient beings Rinpoche got so choked up that he had difficulty speaking, a sight that moved both heaven and earth. All of the attendees gained a profound sense of the boundless benevolence shown by the guru when propagating the Dharma to benefit sentient beings, and gave rise to the utmost, immense repentance and respect. Many disciples and believers were so inspired by the guru’s compassion that they cried tears of gratitude.

Upon the perfect completion of the Great Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness, the disciples expressed in unison their gratitude for the guru’s teachings and performance of the Dharma. Standing, they paid reverent homage as His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne.

« Previous Puja TeachingsNext »

Updated on May 17, 2020