His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings — September 21, 2014

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne to preside over the Chod Puja and bestow precious Dharma teachings upon the attendees.

“Today a typhoon is going to pass through Taiwan. In the Dharma text it is written that whenever a natural disaster such as a typhoon or earthquake occurs, or during the advent of a solar or lunar eclipse, many times more merits than usual can be obtained from performing Dharmas. The reason for this is very simple; all of the disasters happening to the world today are the result of the evils committed by humanity. As the karmic effects of these evil acts mature, they manifest as karmic retribution. Many people think typhoons result from changes in the weather, but whenever one is produced, it actually contains many sentient beings that were harmed by humans. Practicing the Dharma does not simply involve praying for peace and safety as you might think; peace and safety come from not killing and not having evil thoughts. Thus, the point of performing the Dharma is to help these resentful sentient beings to become liberated and to resolve their hatred; only then can the numbers of natural disasters be reduced.

“In Tibetan Buddhism, and in Tantra in particular, there are eight Tantras which, if specially cultivated in this lifetime, can absolutely cause one to attain enlightenment. By ‘enlightenment’ I mean one can definitely become liberated from life and death in this lifetime. The Chod I will be performing today is one of the Eight Sadhana Teachings, and includes elements from both Exoteric Buddhism and Tantra. The Chod is a special Dharma for transferring consciousness created by a Tibetan yogini 1300 years ago, and its principles are based on the wisdom contained in the Great Prajnaparamita Sutra. In Chinese, ‘Chod’ is translated as ‘Body-Offering Dharma.’ However, in Tibetan it is translated as ‘break,’ referring to breaking away from all afflictions and all karma that leads to reincarnation. Without any Dharma methods for breaking away from afflictions, one is certain to encounter many hindrances while practicing in this lifetime.

“Why was ‘Chod’ translated into Chinese as ‘Body-Offering Dharma?’ It is because Tantric visualization is used to transform the practitioner’s body to nectar; with this, offerings are made to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and it is given as alms for sentient beings to eat. All sentient beings in the Six Realms have the habit of eating; whether they are in the Heaven Realm or the Hell Realm, all sentient beings want to consume things. This is especially true of sentient beings in the Hell Realm and Hungry Ghost Realm, where food is unobtainable. Thus, the practitioner uses visualization to transform their body into something they can and want to eat. Once this food is eaten it turns to nectar within the sentient beings’ bodies, and that can put a stop to all hateful thoughts within the minds of the sentient beings in the Hell Realm and Hungry Ghost Realm. Once they stop having hateful thoughts, they can then feel the compassion of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and practitioner; only then can they let their consciousness be transferred.

“The transferal of consciousness is not as simple as you think; it cannot be achieved merely by reciting the sutras, performing the Seven Day Rite, and making dedications. There are some very complex factors involved. According to the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, if someone in your family is about to pass away, you must recite the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows out loud into their ear over and over. Even after that family member stops breathing, you still must continue reciting, and say out loud that you will give to charity and make offerings of his or her favorite things, including his or her property. These days hardly anyone can accomplish this second part. Who is willing to let go of property? You think that if your father has died, any property he left behind should be yours; as his children, it is yours by right. However, this is what is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows. Why is that? It is because this sutra places special emphasis on cause and effect, telling us very clearly that we must practice according to the Dharma in this lifetime. ‘According to the Dharma’ does not simply mean reciting the sutras or being vegetarian; it means that all of our behavior must be in accordance with the Dharma taught by the guru which can liberate us from life and death. Anything apart from this—such as praying for protection, blessings, and good health—is not in accordance with the Dharma; these are false views.

“In the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha said very clearly that only a very few sentient beings are able to learn and practice the Dharma, and those that possess the good fortune to obtain the help of a meritorious guru and become liberated are exceedingly rare indeed. For this reason, Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha taught a very simple method that can help the deceased to accumulate good fortune. It is mentioned at the end of the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows that the deceased’s family members should extensively participate in Buddhist activities on behalf of the deceased. Many people think that means visiting many Buddhist temples, lighting lamps, and donating money, but you all need to understand that the sutras were written in the Tang Dynasty, and back then people did not waste as many words. They spoke simply and to the point, and could even convey what they wished to communicate using a single word. It was very different from nowadays, when people are extremely loquacious and constantly sending each other a heap of text messages with lots of symbols on their phones. Modern human culture is facing collapse; we are headed back toward an era without literacy. You love to type smiley and frowny faces on your smart phones, but all that indicates is that you are too lazy to write.

“The reason humans have culture is that we have written language. If being able to make marks were enough, what would be the difference between humans and beasts? After all, dogs and cats can make marks, too. I wouldn’t say the person who invented smartphones has heavy karmic hindrances, but I can say with confidence that all of you do. Somewhere along the way human culture has been lost, but you all still feel like you’re having a lot of fun. This is the reason modern humans are getting lazier and lazier; you enter a smiley face to express that you like something or a crying face to express that you are miserable. So many ‘intelligent’ people like to look at these things; meanwhile, for every emoticon you enter, someone is making a bit of money off you. People in the Age of Degenerate Dharma might look quite smart on the surface, but actually they are getting dumber and dumber.

“In the phrase, ‘extensively participate in Buddhist activities on behalf of the deceased,’ the word ‘extensively’ does not simply mean running to a bunch of temples; rather, it means accumulating good fortune and helping the deceased according to all the methods taught by the Buddha. ‘Extensively’ does not refer to quantity; it means completely accepting all of the methods spoken by the Buddha and doing everything the Buddha said to do. ‘Buddhist activities’ do not simply mean providing vegetarian food to monastics and practitioners or assisting the deceased with recitations; rather, they refer to activities taught and mentioned by the Buddha. These had to do with becoming liberated from life and death and leaving the suffering sea of reincarnation; they had absolutely nothing to do with chanting the Buddha’s name or lighting a few lamps. My rule is that anyone wishing to participate in a puja for transferring consciousness presided over by me absolutely must commit to being vegetarian for the rest of their life. Why is that? It is because you do not make offerings; I do not receive offerings from those who have not taken refuge in me. Furthermore, you ordinarily do not do good deeds; you are unwilling to donate your wealth or extensively participate in Buddhist activities on behalf of the deceased. As such, how can the deceased accumulate enough good fortune to be liberated?

“I have already lowered the bar as far as I can. Being vegetarian means not killing; only in this way can you cultivate a tiny wisp of compassion, too small even to sense. Only once this wisp of compassion appears will the guru, the Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas be able to sense that you wish to help the deceased; only then will They become attuned to you. Yesterday a believer sought an audience with me and said that he was trying to be vegetarian. So I told him I would ‘try to bestow the Dharma’ on him. Another believer said he would be vegetarian for a hundred days, so I told him I would teach him the Dharma for a hundred days, too, and that after that the deceased would come back. To this he actually said, ‘Okay!’

“Such an attitude is tantamount to ritualizing the transferal of consciousness, and thinking that once it’s over, it is no longer any of your business. Why should we liberate the deceased? It is because we share the same genes with all of our ancestors; if our ancestors suffer, then this is sure to affect us. The reason Buddhism is in favor of cremation and not leaving a corpse behind is that the longer a corpse remains, the more the genes soaked into the ground from it affect us. Chinese want good fengshui because if a place has a good aura, it is good for the genes; this in turn will benefit our later generations. You need to have a clear understanding of this; don’t be superstitious about fengshui. You think that placing an ancestor’s memorial tablet in the wrong spot will affect the next generation; this is actually not the case, because you have not completely liberated your ancestors. As long as an ancestor from a single lifetime was not liberated, they will suffer in the Evil Realms, and you are sure to encounter problems in this lifetime. Because that ancestor has no way of telling others about their suffering, they cannot find anyone to help; all the ancestor can do is find people with whom they have a tie with.

“Why did the Buddha teach us to become liberated from life and death in this lifetime? It is very simple; it is because if you do not, then you will be interfered with and harassed by those genes through all your future lifetimes. Many people think this won’t happen, but actually it will. For example, I have a disciple who gave birth to twins. Both of them were born at the same time, had the same education and the same parents, but their personalities ended up being different. This was due to differences in their karma and ancestors in past lifetimes. I’ve also seen identical twins who according to medical science are the same, but who end up having different personalities. This causes them to have different futures; even their interests and what they study in school end up not the same. Thus, Buddhism is the only method that can thoroughly solve the problem of our being born again and again; no medicine or science can do this.

“The Chod is a Dharma that was compassionately created by the female yogini Machig Labdron. In the Drikung Kagyu Order, in order to learn this Dharma, a practitioner must have practiced Exoteric Buddhism for a minimum of ten years as a foundation and be well-versed in all the basic principles in the sutras, vinayas, and sastras, as well as a clear understanding of what the Buddha said. What the Buddha talked about was very simple; it was about becoming liberated from reincarnation. Only once a practitioner has done a good job establishing this ten-year foundation can they be taught Tantra. Before teaching Tantra, a guru will decide whether their disciples possess the requisite root capacity. At the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center I test my disciples in various ways. Lots of people suddenly find that they are not allowed to learn Tantra. You think you are being punished, but that is not the case; it’s that you do not have the root capacity or the causal condition to learn it. If you are disrespectful toward the Three Jewels and the guru, you will lose the causal condition.

“Tantras can be divided into four different groups: Kriyayoga, Charyayoga, Yogatantra, and Anuttarayogatantra. Before receiving transmission of a Tantra, each practitioner must fulfill the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices, which entails performing grand prostrations, chanting the Hundred-Syllable Mantra, offering the mandala, and performing the Guru Yoga—each one hundred thousand times. These days some Orders say that if you are not a monastic, but are a lay practitioner instead, then it is fine for you to perform ten thousand grand prostrations. I do not agree with this, because the founding father said we should do it one hundred thousand times; we cannot alter the Dharmas passed down by the founding father of our lineage. There is a reason we should perform it a hundred thousand times; I will explain this another time. Once you have fulfilled all of the Uncommon Preliminary Practices, your guru will transmit a yidam to you so that you can practice it while in retreat. As long as you complete your retreat okay, then the guru will transmit Tantra to you. By ‘okay’ I do not mean you have to have great supernatural powers or a strong aura; I mean the guru must examine your mind and determine whether it is that of an ordinary person, a practitioner, or a First-Ground Bodhisattva. If there is something wrong with your mind, then transmitting the Dharma to you would be useless.
“Thus, in order to learn the Chod, you must first meet these conditions. Most people go into retreat the first time with Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara as their yidam, and there they chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra one million times. This number is not kept track of with a counter; that sort of thing doesn’t count. Rather, it is counted by being in total isolation in a retreat hut for three months doing nothing but chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra. Once you are finished, your guru will inspect whether or not you received any resources while in retreat, as well as whether you are able to liberate yourself and sentient beings from life and death. If you cannot, then you must resume your retreat. Thus, none of you has practiced Buddhism; don’t think that just because you have seen a few tulkus (reincarnated Tibetan Buddhist masters) means you are a Buddhist.

“I am famous within the Order for being strict. Anyone who knows me knows that the Dharmas I transmit are passed on in the ancient manner of Tibetan Buddhism. Why are people not as strict in modern times? It is because too many temples need renovations, and every Order needs money. As a result, they cannot be so strict anymore. Because I am not building a monastery, I don’t need any money. Furthermore, I can make my own money, so I can be very strict. This is why I adhere to such strict standards.

“To learn the Chod, no matter which of the Kagyu sects you belong to, you must learn a certain power of meditation—the Mahamudra. This is divided into Exoteric Buddhism and Tantra. To learn it, you must fulfill the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices. Then, after your guru has bestowed the empowerment upon you, you can practice the pith transmitted to you by the guru. A pith is not a lengthy tirade; it is just a few short sentences. There are four stages of the Mahamudra: One-Pointedness Yoga, Simplicity Yoga, One-Taste Yoga, and Non-Meditation Yoga. Each of these is subdivided into three parts, so in total there are twelve steps. To practice the Chod you must first have mastered the Simplicity Yoga, and at the very least you must have gained a realization of Emptiness and have no major attachments, or even be completely unattached to anything. Of course, the most important thing is to have compassion. Even this is not enough, however; you also must have a Bodhi vow, be on the Bodhi Path and behave accordingly, and be past the stage of simply forming an aspiration.

“Only after you have met all of these prerequisites can you begin to learn the Chod. One problem about learning the Chod is that it requires possessing a particular Dharma instrument—a human leg bone. This cannot simply be dug up from a grave; it must meet very special conditions, and there are rules pertaining to its shape, too. This sort of bone is often procured from a sky-burial. As you all know, Tibet has sky-burials, and having one means the deceased was a person with good fortune. From our point of view, sky-burials seem very cruel; they involve cutting up the corpse and smashing it apart. The first sky-burial platform was located next to a Drikung Kagyu ancestral monastery; as such, sky-burials are especially famous within the Drikung Kagyu Order. The reason the Drikung Kagyu’s sky-burials and Phowas are so famous is that this is our job. Only a leg bone that was seen during a sky-burial can be used, and after it is obtained, it of course must be blessed by a guru first before being used.

“The Dharma instruments I use were previously used by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, who later passed them to me. In the Tibetan Buddhist tradition, this meant that the Chod Dharma lineage had been passed on to me. Usually a guru’s Dharma instruments are not given to their disciples. The reason for this is not that the guru cannot part with them; gurus would be able to discard even their own lives, so why would they quibble over some Dharma instruments? The reason they are usually not given is that the disciples are not qualified to use them. All Dharma instruments used by a practitioner have Dharma protectors on them; if you are not qualified to use them, then you will not even be given an opportunity to see them, let alone use them. Only after having this Dharma instrument can you perform the Chod. Even after all these conditions are met, it also depends on whether or not you have an affinity with the Chod.

“In ancient times, because Machig Labdron was a lay practitioner who had married and had children, she, too, was able to pass down the Dharma lineage. Nowadays Machig Labdron’s monastery is still in Tibet, a little ways away from Padmasambhava’s first monastery, Samye Monastery. His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang is always telling me to go there, but I still have not had time to go over and take a look. Because the Chod is a Dharma that both lay practitioners and monastics can cultivate, these days it has become something that many lay yogis tend to practice. By the mid-to-late periods of Buddhist history, many people had begun to understand how enormously beneficial the Chod was for sentient beings, and that it was especially auspicious for sentient beings who had met violent deaths or had heavy karmic hindrances. Some yogis would run over to people’s doorways to perform the Dharma and receive offerings. As a result, some Orders gradually stopped allowing the Chod to be performed, because it gave people a bad feeling.

“In the past the rule was that the Chod had to be performed in one of the Eight Great Cool Groves. In Tibet and India there are eight cremation sites in total. Many people think a Cool Grove is a cemetery, but actually it is a cremation site. There are always some spirits and ghosts loitering nearby a crematorium, so practitioners go to these places to perform the Chod—instead of running over to perform it at night in a graveyard. Thus, what some disciples learned from a different Rinpoche was not exactly correct. The Eight Great Cool Groves are based on the eight places total in India and Tibet which, in ancient times, were where cremations were held, and in which crematoriums are still located today. I have not been to a Cool Grove in this lifetime, because there aren’t any in Taiwan. If anyone were to run over to perform the Dharma next to a crematorium, that person very well might get beaten to death, because people in Taiwan are very superstitious; they think that calling the spirits back and waking the dead will cause them to be burned. This is superstition.

“When I learned the Chod, I was at a Drikung Kagyu monastery in Yunnan; to this day I continue to support this monastery. At the time I said I wanted to learn the most auspicious method for transferring consciousness. A lama in his eighties, who had never left his monastery before, later went to Kunming to see me. While performing the Chod you have to ring a bell in your left hand while whirling a drum in your right. It would be reasonable to assume that a typical lama learning the bell and drum would need about a year or so to learn to keep rhythm. However, as soon as I picked them up I was able to master the rhythm, so I knew that I had learned the Chod in my previous life; in this lifetime I had again self-righteously learned this difficult Dharma.

“Later, His Holiness bestowed a special empowerment upon me in his retreat hut in India. This empowerment had to be transmitted at night. I still remember very clearly; that day before the empowerment, the whole sky turned pitch black, and there were no lamps to light my way as I walked from my room over to His Holiness’s retreat hut. I did not have a flashlight with me, either, because I had suddenly received instructions from His Holiness’s to come out of my retreat hut. When I got to His Holiness’s retreat hut, He transmitted the empowerment. Afterward, but before the dedication, a peal of thunder suddenly grumbled through the air. It was extremely loud. His Holiness paused to glance at the sky, and then continued to perform the dedication. After the dedication was finished He told me, ‘In future, your Buddhist activities will be like thunder.’ You have all heard what thunder sounds like; you know what it’s like. When I left His Holiness’s retreat hut, I looked up and saw the stars and moon shining down.

“Since learning the Chod, I have in fact helped many sentient beings, and my own cultivation has benefited greatly in the process. Therefore, that you possesse the causes and conditions to come here today to participate in this puja means you came in contact with the Chod in the past but did not master it; as such, the opportunity has come your way again in this life time. Whether or not you will obtain more such causes and conditions in the future is up to you; it is not up to me or the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. If you have come here to participate in this puja thinking your life will improve or you will strike it rich, you are mistaken, because as I have said very clearly, the purpose of being here today is to give alms to others. If you are so attached to yourselves that you have forgotten how much evil karma you have created and you continue to live in denial, thinking you are good, then let me ask you—how many people present were born vegetarians? You have all been scoundrels ever since the day your mothers became pregnant, because without this sort of karma you would not have been reborn into these sorts of fetuses. If you had good karma, you would have been born into fetuses that would grow up to be my disciples, and you would have been born vegetarians.

“According to what is written about cause and effect in the sutras, if you have even had a single bite of meat you must repay a debt for it. Why does everyone suffer so much before dying? Have you ever seen anyone who didn’t suffer before dying? Don’t think those people who pass away while unconscious avoid suffering; only practitioners can leave this Earth with complete clarity. Why do you suffer? It is because for every bite of meat you have, you must repay a bite’s worth of debt. A moment ago I told you that ‘Chod’ means to ‘break away’—this means breaking away from all that hinders your Buddhist practice. I often remind many people that as long as they do a good job of cultivating supramundane Dharmas and their Buddhist practice, they will have very few problems in the mundane world. What is the reason for this? When you practice a supramundane Dharma with the intention of becoming liberated from life and death, all of the sentient beings that have anything to do with you will of course follow you and become liberated as well. These do not just include your family members in this lifetime, but all of the sentient beings you have eaten or harmed in your past lives as well. This is because if you can be freed from life and death, then they can, too. Therefore, those that would take their revenge and harm you gradually become fewer and fewer.

“Where do rogues come from? Because you used to be rogues and harmed people in the past, others will harm you in this lifetime. Why do some of you have spouses with other lovers? It is because you brought it on yourselves by doing the same thing in the past, so you can neither complain nor hate. I don’t know where this sort of phrase came from; if someone can have a ‘third person,’ (TLN: ‘the third person’ means ‘another lover’ or ‘homewrecker’ in Chinese.) then wouldn’t it follow that they must have had ‘the second ‘ before the third? Whoever invented this term is quite strange, too, because in ancient times, ‘the seconds’ referred to those people who worked in wine houses. Thus, the mundane world of humans is full of many wonders.

“Today I am performing the Chod for you. Whether or not you have cultivated compassion, you must try to engender a compassionate attitude here today. Don’t think about your individual affairs; do it for the sake of all sentient beings in the Six Realms who are facing reincarnation. Because we possessed the causes and conditions to bring today’s puja into being, we also hope that they will benefit from the Dharma. Secondly, you all must have a repentant attitude. We should thoroughly repent for the evil we committed in our past lives. In the Chinese word for ‘repent,’ the first syllable, chàn, means accepting all the consequences of our actions; the second syllable, huǐ, means never repeating them again. Thirdly, you must have a respectful attitude. No matter what your reason for coming here today or how much you believe in Buddhism and the Three Jewels, being respectful is paramount. Why is that? It is because all offerings come from a respectful mind. If you are not respectful, then you will not produce offerings; without making offerings, you will have no good fortune.

“By mentioning offerings here I do not refer to material things; rather, they have to do with whether or not you have engendered respect. I did not invent the Chod; for it to still be around after more than a thousand years, it is certainly not a simple Dharma. If you disrespect the Dharma, you also disrespect its practitioner. Disrespecting a practitioner is the same as disrespecting the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Today I sit here on the Dharma throne not as myself; I represent all of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in helping sentient beings. Whether you choose to believe me is your business, but the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have never deceived a single sentient being. This is especially true of those who participate in my pujas, on which I have never placed a price tag. Whether or not you make any offerings is totally up to you.

“I do not need to perform the Dharma for the sake of my own reputation. Today just happens to be the day the causes and conditions have matured. I did not know a typhoon would be hitting today; it’s baffling that today just happens to be the day it decided to come, obediently following the rules of causal condition. If the typhoon had come yesterday, it would have had nothing to do with me; it only has a little bit to do with me because it came today. Thus, there is always a definite reason behind anything a guru says. Many people think I don’t know about their situations. I don’t need to know; knowing that they still have not been liberated from life and death is enough.

“Even the Buddha said sentient beings’ minds are unfathomable. Many people see me and like to implore me to bestow teachings upon them. My answer is often, ‘I have nothing to say to you; you do not have the causal condition.’ What do I base this decision on? In the sutras, all sentient beings imploring the Dharma always ‘opened their mouths’ to ask first; the Buddha never took the initiative to speak the Dharma. If you do not ask, you have not ‘opened your mouths,’ because you did not have the causal condition to do so. You don’t need to test me to see if I have any supernatural powers or not; if I did not, would I have been able to sit up here for so long? However, supernatural powers are nothing more than Dharmas of expedience; they cannot help us to solve our problems. They are just a reminder that if you do not change, then no matter how great your supernatural powers might be, they won’t be of any use.

“Even though the Venerable Maudgalyāyana had the greatest supernatural powers out of all of Shakyamuni Buddha’s disciples, when his mother fell into the Hungry Ghost Realm he had been able to transform things into food for her to eat, but she still was not able to eat it. The Venerable Maudgalyāyana still had to implore the Buddha to teach him how to liberate her. From this story it is apparent that supernatural powers are simply instruments of convenience. Any guru who keeps the precepts and can meditate sufficiently well is certain to develop supernatural powers. What are supernatural powers? Simply put, because a practitioner’s mind is motionless, they will not be affected by anything in the mundane world; naturally, the practitioner’s mind will be very still, and therefore they will be able to gaze into many places which are invisible to you.

“Many people like to argue with me. You don’t need to argue; if you don’t like it here, you can leave. Why do so many people like to argue? It is because they want others to agree with their opinions. For example, when people come seeking audience with me to inquire about doing something they have already planned to do, they ask me to tell them whether they can do it. If I say they cannot, they ask why not; despite listening to my answer, they keep on explaining themselves, saying that I don’t understand the situation. If that’s what they think, then what was the point in asking me in the first place? Even fortunetellers will scold you; do you think I won’t? However, people nowadays are very fond of putting on a performance. If you really are as amazing as you think you are, then tell me you can avoid death. If you can, then I will admire you. There is no one as being the most powerful person in the world. Even former president of Taiwan, or, Chairman Mao of Mainland China is now gone, and yet, life goes on. Who’s more impressive—you or him?

“People should be modest; it is a type of good fortune as well as a method of practice. Many people enjoy showing off; this is their style of living. Since you say you want to learn Buddhism, you should act like a Buddhist. Buddhists are distinguished by a special characteristic— namely modesty. Even if they cultivate their practice to the point that they are highly skilled, on the surface it would not be very apparent to others. Why is that? Everything is cause, effect, and conditions. If you are talented, that is your business; being talented does not necessarily mean you can solve all of your mundane problems. I am performing the Chod for you today, so you all must prepare the three types of mindfulness of which I spoke a moment ago. If you do not, my performance of the Dharma will be of no use to you.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the auspicious Chod ritual of the Drikung Kagyu Order. Upon its perfect completion, the guru continued to bestow Dharma teachings upon the attendees.

“I’ve performed the Chod to completion today. I’ll just mention something rather special: During the ritual, a girl who had killed herself by jumping off a building came, and many of the other sentient beings that came were ones that you had eaten. Tibetan Buddhism, especially Tantra, places great emphasis on how important a guru is to us. This is because we live in the Age of Degenerate Dharma, so we have neither the qualifications nor the good fortune to see the Buddha teaching the Dharma with our own eyes. Many people think practicing Buddhism is an individual affair; they think they can just practice by themselves and be fine. There are also many people who think they have to choose an environment they like in which to practice, and there are even those who think they have taken refuge in me, yet they think this Buddhist Center is no good or look down on its staff and so on. People who say such things are not Buddhist practitioners.

“What sort of Buddhist center you are in now has to do with your causes and conditions. This is true whether you like your current Buddhist center or not. We can transform virtuous causal conditions into evil ones, and vice versa; you can do this in the space of a single thought. If you keep picking and choosing, you will end up having problems because of your discrimination. People with severely discriminating minds are of course heavily burdened with afflictions as well as severe greed. All disasters begin with greed. The reason we Buddhist practitioners keep the precepts is that if we can do so, our future will naturally be free of any new disasters—except for those that are the result of causes that were planted earlier in this lifetime or in our past lives. Because we have taken refuge in Buddhism, we should accept all our karmic retribution without question.

“If you do not accept your karmic retribution, you will not be able to receive any virtuous karmic effects either. Don’t just pick good things to eat; if you do, and when you won’t be able to eat anything delicious, you will definitely end up eating food that does not taste very good. We have committed so many evils throughout our past lives. As is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, every thought produced by sentient beings generates karma and vice. What karma? It is the force that prevents us from becoming liberated from life and death; this is true of both virtuous karma and evil karma. What vice? It is that we already know all those thoughts and behavior that would cause us to reincarnate but we don’t mend our ways.

“I’ll just explain the contents of this Dharma text briefly; if I were to speak too much about it, it would go over your heads. There is a section in here that mentions praying for the yidam’s blessings so that they can turn all of the practitioner’s flesh and blood into nectar, which can then be offered to karmic creditors of past lives, pestilence demons, yakshas, and all pitiful guests. In the Dharma text, all sentient beings that harm us are our visitors and guests; they are not our enemies. If you think tumors are bad, you are wrong. Why is that? The reason is that if you have not harmed someone, then that person will not come to harm you causing you to have tumors. If you treat them as a guest and have a practitioner make offerings to that person on your behalf, then because these offerings are of nectar, they will help the person become purified of all thoughts of hatred and cruelty and give rise to joyfulness. This is the reason I remind you before this puja to maintain an attitude of repentance, compassion, and respect. If you are not mindful of these three things, the hatred and cruelty of those sentient beings will not go away.

“You’ve all come to participate in the puja, but being here will be useful to some and useless to others. It is not that the presiding guru is useless; rather, it is a result of a problem with your minds. Thus, in order to cause those sentient beings turn from hatred and cruelty to joy, you must treat them as honored guests. The reason is that by making this sort of offering, you home your karmic creditors of past lives and so on so that they can give rise to the Bodhicitta, because even compassion is not enough by itself. The reason Mahayana Buddhism teaches us to give rise to the Bodhicitta is that only after you have done so can your karmic creditors of past lives follow suit. Only once they have given rise to the Bodhicitta will they let you go—but this does not mean they will forgive you. If you owe them, how can they forgive you? Only once they give rise to the Bodhicitta and let go of their various cares, attachments and grudges they hold in this world, will they finally stop hindering your Buddhist practice.

“Don’t think that reciting the sutras, attending penitential rites, and performing dedications to your karmic creditors of past lives will cause all of your karmic offenses to be blown away like pollen on the wind, or that once they are gone you will be a perfect person. This is impossible. If you yourself have not given rise to the Bodhicitta, your karmic creditors cannot, either. This is because they are watching you and have followed you throughout your past lives. Thus, when I see you toiling so much in the end, I’ll again help you by reciting a section of the Prayer for you. It is written very clearly in the Dharma text that everything depends on the guru’s blessings; without them, we cannot obtain liberation from our suffering.

“Of course, not just any so-called guru can bestow blessings; doing so requires that the guru possesses some merits and power. Thus, when the Dharma text mentions compassion and might, what is meant is that the guru must possess compassion and the Buddha’s awe-inspiring power. This is not the sort of power used to vanquish or kill enemies; rather, it will naturally come into being. If a person has a very just mentality, when you look at them you are sure to feel they are very righteous and different from other people. If someone is sly and deceptive all the time, you will want to keep clear of them. These innate qualities will be obvious quite naturally; there is no need to speak about them.

“Only a guru with compassion and awe-inspiring power can eliminate all of your internal evil and karmic hindrances that have been produced by your mind. Many people think karmic hindrances are bad. There are two types of karma—virtuous karma and evil karma—and karmic hindrances refer to all forces which hinder us from practicing Buddhism. For example, if someone told you they would give you ten million bucks if you stopped practicing Buddhism and worked for them for a couple of months, many of you would say ‘yes.’ When you have money, the Buddha is far away in the heavens; when you are broke, the Buddha is right in front of you. This is because you are asking the Buddha to help you strike it rich. Why do you think the Buddha is up in the heavens? It is because you think it is the Buddha’s job to meditate, and your job to make some money first. Therefore, suddenly hitting the jackpot is not a good thing, because the material wealth you gain can hinder your Buddhist practice.

“In all the years that I have conducted business, I have always done so very calmly and without expectations. So-called evil karma is the power that harms any sentient beings. Why should you be vegetarian? In the sutras it is written that if you want to practice Buddhism and the Bodhisattva Path, you must stop eating the flesh of sentient beings, for Bodhisattvas will not tolerate it. Thus, how do you expect Bodhisattvas to come if you are eating the flesh of sentient beings while imploring for Their help? It is not that They do not wish to come; it is that those sentient beings you have eaten beg Them to stay away. With such a lack of compassion, why would Bodhisattvas come to help you?

“Thus, here at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center we stress that to take refuge, you must become vegetarian. In the sutras it is written that people who eat meat break the seeds of compassion. To practice Buddhism, you must cultivate compassion; only by doing so can you cause your karmic creditors of past lives give rise to the Bodhicitta and be compassionate like you. If you implore the guru for blessings and then go right home and eat meat, are those blessings going to be of any use to you? I guarantee you that they will not, not even when you just get a whiff of meat odor on the sly. It is mentioned in the Dharma text that all inferior causes are of our own making; no one forced you or put a gun to your head to have those thoughts. About 99% of the diseases and pain suffered by human beings come from evil demons and ghosts. Many people think ghosts are all ghosts of humans, but actually a lot of them are the ghosts of animals.

“Animals have souls, too, and practitioners can see them; even non-practitioners can see them sometimes. These days there is a lot of photographic evidence showing a dog’s or cat’s ghost nearby after the animal has died. Thus, when you kill these animals, they will run over and occupy your body. Many people think ghosts were formerly people, but this is not necessarily true. Even an ant or a fly can end up as a ghost, and if you do not transfer its consciousness, it will follow you. Don’t think it’s fun to hit one with a flyswatter; from the moment you do, its ghost will follow you, because you killed it. If you take a bite out of an animal it is even more likely to follow you.

“I am already sixty-seven, but my teeth are still pretty good. Even my dentist said my teeth are like those of a thirty- or forty-year-old. At the time a couple of dentists even stood to the side having a quiet discussion, and one said, “It turns out being vegetarian is good for your teeth.” Actually, I have many disciples who have bad teeth even though they are vegetarians; some have even completely lost all their teeth. Where does this problem come from? It is written in the sutras that because the Buddha does not engage in false speech, the Buddha’s teeth are as perfectly white as seashells and as impervious to corrosion as vajra teeth. Thus, the reason your teeth are always falling out is that you constantly tell lies. Even I get the occasional cavity. Some people always have bad breath, because they are constantly deceiving people. Medicine tells us the cause of bad breath is a problem with the stomach or inflammation of the liver, but that is not true; it has to do with the fact that you have spoken in an ugly and deceptive manner, so no matter what you spray in your mouth to make it smell better, it will not work.

“It is written in the Dharma text that the diseases and pain produced by evil demons and ghosts can immediately be eliminated by imploring the guru for blessings to rid you of greed, hatred, and ignorance. When the guru blesses you, if you can be respectful toward the Three Jewels and cultivate compassion, those three poisons will naturally go away, and you will not even need to perform the Dharma. What is written in the Dharma text is absolutely true; in my experience, too, this will naturally eliminate greed, hatred, and ignorance. You don’t even need to think about it; your cultivation would just make them disappear. The Buddha said that the diseases we succumb to are qi from the wind, liver-heat (heat from liver) and phlegm (in lungs, kidneys and heart); these all result from greed, hatred, and ignorance. Thus, if you have these three poisons you would develop those three types of illness.

“So take a good look at yourselves. Those of you with your qi blocked are overly greedy; people who are very angry tend to develop liver or gallbladder disease; people who produce too much phlegm are ignorant and do not believe in cause and effect. Traditional Chinese medicine agrees that some types of food, when eaten too much, can lead to a gross amount of phlegm; this is the result of greed. Thus, if you take a look at yourselves, you will know where your problems come from. Greed leads to strokes, too. It is mentioned in the Dharma text that imploring for the guru’s blessings will naturally eliminate demons, including male, female, and dragon demons. 90% of all cancer has to do with these demons, and this is true of lupus erythematosus as well, which is more complicated. Because it is caused by dragons and ghosts, it cannot be cured. In all the years I have been teaching Buddhism, the strangest thing is that people with cancer continue to attend pujas while people with lupus attend once and then stop coming. This is because they think they still have a long time to live, and won’t die right away. Doctors tend to tell cancer patients how long they have left to live, so they become afraid and come running here immediately. People with lupus, on the other hand, don’t come because they can hold out a lot longer.

“Finally, it is mentioned in the Dharma text that the practitioner imploring for blessings transforms their body into feed, and as it being blessed, the practitioner can help sentient beings and eradicate all of their problems. Our bodies are karmic in nature; all of the virtuous and evil karma we created in the past is what produced our bodies in this lifetime. If you practice Buddhism in this lifetime, your bodies will change; if you do not, your bodies will still change. The reason the Chod is so auspicious is that the presiding guru transforms their body into feed with which to make offerings and give alms to sentient beings, thereby take on their bad karma from its roots. Thus, the Chod works faster than any other Dharma method; however, learning to perform it is very difficult. If you have not cultivated great compassion, you cannot master this Dharma method.

“A little while ago, when you saw me waving the drum and bell around, you probably thought I looked quite relaxed, but my disciples know that I have no cartilage in my shoulder joints anymore so the bones grate on each other. It stands to reason that I shouldn’t be able to rattle the drum like that due to all the pain it would cause me. When I first started performing the Chod, I was indeed in a lot of pain; however, I ignored it. I only had a single thought: If the pain kills me, that’s good; dying while performing the Dharma would be the best way to go. Now, however, it doesn’t hurt anymore, because of the Chod itself. Many people hope to find solutions to their problems by participating in a single puja. It has taken me many years of practice to solve this problem I used to have with my bones, so what makes you think you’ll succeed so easily? Where do you get off thinking you are more capable than I am?

“If you do not have sufficient faith in your guru, even by a tiny margin—I mean even if you don’t believe in your guru enough, let alone doubt them—then the guru’s blessings will not work for you. Even back when my shoulder joints were hurting really badly, I still did not implore my guru for blessings, because my pain was a manifestation of my own karma. I had beaten people; when I was little, I loved to fight. There was bound to be karmic retribution for this, and the same was true of having killed sentient beings. If you break an arm or a leg, it is because you hit or kicked people in the past; if you didn’t, you will be fine. If you kicked your own son, however, that is another matter entirely. A certain disciple of mine, who is a doctor, might ask himself whether or not it was his karmic retribution when I once kicked him. At the time he deserved to be kicked, but actually I was bestowing blessings upon him. I kicked him while he was kneeling next to me, and he didn’t even see it coming. A guru has many ways of helping sentient beings.

“For coming here to participate in the puja despite the typhoon that has hit today, you are sure to gain countless merits.” All of the attendees raised their voices in gratitude. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, “No need to thank me. If it weren’t for you, this puja would not have happened; this is the nature of causal origination. Don’t think I asked you to come participate in this puja; you newcomers wouldn’t know this, but just this year I asked more than two hundred people to leave and would not allow them to participate in the Chod. I worry about having too many people here at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center; if you have come here for an entire year, yet are still unwilling to take refuge and practice the Dharma, then why are you here? There are plenty of places out there lacking believers, so in my compassion I might create more believers to give to them.

“Over the past few years nearly two thousand people have left the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center. You should not labor under the misapprehension that you’ll be allowed to practice Buddhism just because you want to. I have an uncompromising moral character; if you are unwilling to practice the Dharma according to the Buddha’s teachings, and think you attempt to negotiate terms, you’ve got another thing coming. I do not try to negotiate any terms, unless I think this person might have an opportunity in the future; only then will I loosen the reins a tiny bit. Later after the person comes here for a while I will be strict, though, so you should think things through before taking refuge.

“You should not think that I need you to be my disciples, nor should you think that I might need you as my disciples because I haven’t taught Buddhism in a certain place. Without disciples I would live quite comfortably, and would continue to practice just the same. I’d be able to practice anywhere I went in response to anything I might see. For example, if I saw on television that someone was killed, I would immediately bestow blessings; I don’t just help people who don’t listen like you.

“Those of you who won’t listen really should stop coming, because in the end you’ll certainly end up getting scolded. If you aren’t a disciple of mine, I’ll treat you very politely, because we all need to conduct ourselves in society. If you are one of my disciples, I will not be so courteous toward you, because I want to solve your problems. How many good teachers have you seen who speak politely to their good students? If you are in the wrong, of course I will say so and admonish you for it; do you think practicing Buddhism is a part-time job? Without the Dharma, this world would long ago have been destroyed. Without the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to constantly take care of the Earth, it would long since have disappeared. Many such stories are written in the sutras.”

Upon the perfect completion of the puja, the disciples expressed their gratitude in unison to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for performing the Dharma and bestowing teachings. Standing, they paid reverent homage as the guru descended the Dharma throne.

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Updated on August 3, 2020