His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – December 21, 2014

Before the puja began, an ordained disciple said that the reason she had come to share her experiences today was to thank His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having continuously instructed and looked after the disciples. She then went on to express her staunch belief in the guru, for without the guru no one could come in contact with the Dharma. She hoped that all of the disciples could unite as one, follow in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s footsteps, practice Buddhism with diligence and earnestness, and act according to the guru’s teachings.

Next, another ordained disciple thanked His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having once again bestowed upon her the opportunity to share with everyone an account of the guru’s limitless merits.

She had again come to express to everyone how rare and precious His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was. Some people think their good fortune was merely to have encountered a meritorious mentor in the guru, but His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is a Mahasiddha of such rarity that one only comes along once in a billion kalpas. In preparation for today’s sharing, she had made a point of reading biographies of Lord Jigten Sumgön and Dharma Protector Achi. Her hope was to help everyone understand that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was not just an ordinary practitioner; the guru was an emanation who had been blessed and bestowed assurance of future enlightenment by the Lineage and the Order.

Even though His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had always claimed modestly that he was only an ordinary person on earth, and despite the fact that the guru had been authenticated as having achieved fruition through cultivation in this lifetime, she firmly believed that Glorious Jewel disciples could thoroughly realize from his unmatched compassion, bodhicitta vow and actions, and unfathomable Dharma manifestations that the guru is actually an extraordinary, divine paragon of a Bodhisattva with a Vajra disposition. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was like the most auspicious, outstanding gem atop a Buddha’s head—a Mahasiddha who had emanated and come to teach in accordance with his vows and protect and continue the Order’s Dharma lineage.

As everyone knew, “Glorious Jewel” was Lord Jigten Sumgon’s Dharma title . He was the Bodhisattva that Tathagata Light of the Nagas had emanated and returned to Earth, and once promised that anyone who heard his name would be safeguarded against falling into the Evil Realms. His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang himself had bestowed this Dharma title upon Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and predicted multiple times that his undertaking to propagate the Dharma to benefit sentient beings would greatly flourish. His Holiness had also said himself that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had achieved attainment naturally. What did that mean? It was clearly written in the sutras that any ordinary people wishing to practice until they attain Buddhahood must go through the three great Asana-khyeyas. How were some people naturally able to master the Dharma? In Shakyamuni Buddha’s Dharma era, the Bodhisattvas and Dharma protectors were not necessarily able to master the Dharma naturally. As far as the disciple knew, Vimalakirti, like Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, had a family, wealth, a wife, were subjected to the Five Desires, and spoke the Dharma according to each rising condition. However, Vimalakirti was also an emanation of an ancient Buddha. Lord Jigten Sumgön had appeared twice for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche; once was when the guru’s life was in peril, and the other was to transmit a Tantra unknown to other people. The guru had also said that in a past life he must have had a very profound connection with Lord Jigten Sumgön.

The grand practitioners Yunga Rinpoche and Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche had been in retreat for many years, and did not receive outsiders. Nevertheless, they had both gone out of their way to take on Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche as their disciple when he visited their retreat huts, and to personally transmit Tantra empowerments to him. Soon before passing away, they had transmitted the precious lineage traditions to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Yunga Rinpoche had once said that Richen Dorjee Rinpoche was the reincarnation of one of King Gesar’s generals, and King Gesar was publically acknowledged by Tibetan historians to have been an emanation of Padmasambhava. His generals had included emanations of eighty-four Mahasiddhas from India and the twenty-five disciples of Padmasambhava. All of them were “supramundane” Bodhisattvas; not mundane ones. What this meant was that they had all become enlightened to the Dharma and attained a Bodhisattva Ground. Furthermore, they had all liberated sentient beings from the reincarnation’s sea of suffering. Yunga Rinpoche had once personally obtained two Buddhist statues from the void and given them to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, transmitted to the guru the merits of all the Buddhas in the Ten Directions and the Three Times, and verified him as having mastered the Simplicity Yoga of the Mahamudra.

Another Rinpoche had performed the Dharma in order to understand Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s past lives. At the Sacred Lake it had emerged that in a past life Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was an accomplished, great terma master. In addition, the reprinting of the Lung Tripitaka was facilitated by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and the Chinese translation of the Hevajra, which originally had been lost, had been found by him and His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang prior to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Hevajra retreat.

Why had His Holiness passed the human leg bone, which he himself used to use while performing the Chod, down to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and not to someone else? This act had signified the direct transmission of the Chod—one of the Eight Sadhana Teachings of the Drikung Kagyu Order—to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. In the same year, His Holiness had given special instructions for treasure vases and auspicious clouds to be inscribed in gold on a Master Gampopa’s Dharma hat and then bestowed it upon Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. This incident had been unprecedented and signified the blessings bestowed on the guru that the precious oral transmissions of Drikung Kagyu teachings he had received would stand the test of time like true gold, constantly dazzling to the eye, brilliant and eternal.

In 2007, under His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s guidance, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had gone into retreat for three months on the holy mountain of Lapchi to master the Hevajra. The Hevajra is a Dharma that was attained by the Great Translator Marpa, and is the Venerable Milarepa’s primary yidam. Marpa himself had once confirmed that Mount Lapchi was one of the twenty-four sacred sites of Cakrasamvara, and it had been revered as Cakrasamvara’s speech mandala that had been blessed by Padmasambhava, Milarepa, and many other master practitioners. The Hevajra had not been transmitted or practiced within the Order for two or three hundred years, but after spending three or four years gathering and preparing the Dharma texts, His Holiness had personally led Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche into retreat. After the retreat came to a perfect completion, His Holiness had led Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in a tribute to the sacred shoe passed down by Naropa and Marpa. When Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had placed Marpa’s shoe atop his head, he had immediately received blessings akin to an empowerment. This had also been an indication that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had been blessed with the transmission of the Hevajra tradition once again.

The great Dharma Protector Achi of the Drikung Order is the Dakini of True Wisdom and Comfort, returned to Earth to fulfil her vow to propagate and protect Buddhism. Her greatness embraces and protects all sentient beings in the Three Heavens, upholds the teachings of a thousand Buddhas, and handles the desires of all sentient beings. She follows the commands of the second reincarnation of Bodhisattva Nagarijuna (that is, Lord Jigten Sumgon) and gives support to all of the Order’s Dharma activities by appearing as the Fierce Great Vajra Dakini of Comfort. In the future she will return to Earth and attain Buddhahood in the Lotus World, and she will be called the Great Lotus Buddha of the Enlightened Tathagata. Dharma Protector Achi’s great supernatural abilities and unfathomable Dharma powers can enable members of the Lineage to vanquish their enemies simply by calling out her name. Any practitioner who prays to her can achieve attainment in both Common and Auspicious practices. She is a Dharma protector unmatched anywhere in Tibet, and is the primary yidam for all Dharma protectors. Before achieving attainment and transforming into a brilliant rainbow-light from her body of flesh and blood and flying off to the pure land of Dakinis, she once said, “This physical body’s task is finished, and my descendants will obtain extremely unique and auspicious Tantras. These Tantras will be under my protection, so if you ever are in need, you can talk to me.” For this reason the guru often says he reports all important matters to Dharma Protector Achi, and that Achi always grants her assistance. She will show her true form to practitioners who have inherited the Dharma Lineage and achieved attainment in the Yoga Tantra so that they can see her and thus succeed in all their undertakings. Therefore, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has seen the yidam frequently with his own eyes, and has been saved many times by Dharma Protector Achi. This indicates that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is rare and auspicious, and can accomplish anything he sets his mind to. Moreover, the guru’s Dharma era is eternal proof of this, and it, too, was blessed and bestowed by the Lineage and the Dharma protectors.

Wu Zetian described Buddhism as something so rare and precious that it could only be encountered once in a billion kalpas. She lived in an era when Buddhism was most prosperous in China. If you had been alive back then, you might have been lucky enough to encounter the Sixth Patriarch Huineng. However, he, too, would not have been able to perform the Phowa for you. Of the gurus who have been able to perform the Phowa throughout the history of Tibetan Buddhism, very few have been able to do it as compassionately, conveniently, prolifically, auspiciously, and successfully as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. The guru even performs it for those of us who cannot afford to make offerings, who have no good fortune, and who lack sufficient respect. As such, can you all sense how rare and unfathomable today’s opportunity to encounter Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is? Think about it: By what virtue and by what capability are we allowed to encounter such a Dharma and such a compassionate guru? Therefore, you all need to be conscious of the fact that you must follow the guru and not miss this opportunity, for such a fortunate event will never come again.

Lord Jigten Sumgön, Dharma Protector Achi, and Padmasambhava were the enlightened ones of the level of the Buddha, and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had been selected and approved by them all so that he could appear in this Age of Degenerate Dharma to promote the Buddhism and continue the Lineage. Thus, the disciple said, we absolutely must not apply the thoughts, ideology, and discriminating mind of an ordinary person to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s actions. This is also the least we can do to express the limitless admiration, trust, and gratitude we hold for the guru.

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

“Today I will perform the Chod. Those of you who are not familiar with Buddhism do not know how precious and rare this Dharma method is. To use an analogy that might be easier for you to conceptualize, even if you had a mountain of silver or gold, you still wouldn’t be able to buy the Chod. Likewise, even if you have heard the Chod, this does not necessarily mean you are able to encounter a pure lineage transmission of it that is in complete accordance with the Dharma—especially as the Chod was the last Dharma performed by the Drikung Kagyu Order’s Dharma Protector Achi shortly before leaving this world. Even though there are some monastics within the Drikung Lineage practicing the Chod these days, nowhere else can it be publically performed in front of more than 1,300 people.

“His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang once said that in the past, some Drikung monastics who specialized in practicing the Chod would perform it twice a day on a regular basis. Nowadays the Chod has fallen out of use somewhat, because the human leg bones used to perform this Dharma are very difficult to procure. It is not as simple as finding a human leg bone and fashioning a Dharma instrument out of it, after all. According to the Kagyu Order, any practitioner wishing to learn the Chod must first have achieved attainment in the Simplicity Yoga stage of the Mahamudra. What this means is that if the practitioner still has any attachments at all, then he or she will not be able to perform the Chod successfully, and sentient beings will therefore not be able to benefit from it. Before they can use the Chod to help sentient beings, practitioners also must of course already have mastered the Phowa, completed many stages of cultivation, and accumulated sufficient good fortune and wisdom.

“The first time I ever performed the Chod was to transfer the consciousness of a nurse who years previously had been killed during a kidnapping incident whereby the kidnapping victim was the daughter of an actress. It was the nurse’s mother who came to implore the Dharma from me. While I was performing the Chod, the nurse approached and told me that the person who had asked her to open the door had been female, not male. This was later verified by facts that were uncovered. Some of you might be too young to remember this incident. The day I performed the Dharma, the nurse said very clearly which of these killers would die first, and roughly when it would happen.

“The Chod is especially helpful for sentient beings who have died a violent death, because dying violently is the result of having committed many evil acts throughout one’s past lives. While reading the sutras I have never come across the word “accidental.” Many people think there are accidental deaths, but this is not true, because such deaths are results of evil acts the dead have committed in their past lives. What makes the Chod special is that it can liberate your karmic creditors from past lives; as such, they will no longer tie you down, and you can therefore leave the reincarnation’s sea of suffering. Many people think the transferal of consciousness can be accomplished just by reciting a sutra, but it is not that simple. If it were, then it would have been mentioned in the sutras. There is also nothing written there about transferring consciousness by covering the deceased with a certain type of bed quilt. If burning paper that had been folded into lotus flowers were enough to liberate the deceased, then the Buddha would have said so. The Buddha said none of this, however; these methods were invented by people who came afterward. Anything you invent that the Buddha never said is not the Dharma. If something is not the Dharma, then how can it be used to transfer the consciousness of the deceased?

“Likewise, paying money to have the deceased’s consciousness transferred is not in accordance with the Dharma, either. Liberation cannot be bought. If the transferal of consciousness had a monetary value, then that would be as what had been recorded in Tibet long ago. If someone had implored for the Phowa, then some gurus would have asked how much the deceased weighed and charged the same weight of gold. My services are already pretty cheap; whether or not you make offerings makes no difference to me. Anyone who is disrespectful to the Three Jewels by thinking he or she can transfer someone’s consciousness alone is misguided; that would be impossible. My years of Buddhist practice have taught me very clearly how to transfer a person’s consciousness. First, you need a target for liberation—the deceased; then you need the person imploring the Dharma; then you need the person performing the Chod with the aspiration of the Lineage Gurus, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas—and not a single one of these things can be missing. Many people think that by forming a personal aspiration and reciting respectfully, they can cause the deceased’s face to appear more peaceful. Actually, anyone able to pass on to the Human or Heaven Realm is bound to wear a happier expression on his or her face at the time of death. However, according to Buddhism the Human and Heaven Realms are not the ultimate goal, because they are still within the realm of reincarnation. Our hope, of course, is for the deceased to go to the Pure Land.

“If you do not meet all of the conditions I just mentioned, then you cannot possibly take any sentient beings to the Pure Land. If you yourself have never been, then how can you take them there? And if you haven’t, then at the very least you need to have heard of it and understood it before you can explain what it is to someone. Can you send someone there just by chanting Amitabha Buddha’s name? Not at all. Today you all have the good fortune, causes, and conditions to participate in this Chod Puja, which means in your past lives you must have done something related to Buddhism; otherwise you would not have had this causal condition in this lifetime. I wouldn’t dare predict how long the Chod will last, but it’s safe to say that fewer and fewer people will be able to learn it in the future, and fewer still will be able to use it to benefit sentient beings. This has to do with the fact that sentient beings living in the Age of Degenerate Dharma have heavy karma.

“This year I proclaimed that any disciples who have made mistakes must first obtain the consent of all of their fellow members on their respective groups before they will be allowed to implore to repent. Furthermore, their group members must write down their opinions as to why they agree or disagree that those disciples should be allowed to repent. Then, an incident happened yesterday. A disciple lost her Glorious Jewel vest, which is tantamount to freeloading at a Buddhist center. Don’t think that paying money to compensate for losing something will be the end of the matter; at the very least the cause produced by losing the object still exists. A Glorious Jewel vest is very precious; do you think it is simply a piece of cloth with the Glorious Jewel logo stamped on it? Ever since 1999, not once have I heard of a disciple leaving NT$100,000 or NT$1 million in a taxicab, but you are forever losing your vests, Dharma texts, sutras, and so on. You lose all kinds of things but never your money. If your heads weren’t attached to your necks, you’d lose those, too!

“This disciple wanted to participate in the puja to be held in Japan. I told her that she could only go if she obtained the consent of all of her group members. As it turned out, yesterday she presented me with all of the required letters of consent and said that they had all agreed. Suddenly, out of nowhere, I thought I heard Achi tell me to have a look. I had told you that I might do this anyway, and even when I might be too busy, I’ll have another disciple take a look. As it happened, when I looked at the letters, I saw that twenty people had each written, ‘Thank you Rinpoche! Dharma brother, keep up the good work!!’ What sort of opinion is that? What did it have to do with whether or not they thought this person should be allowed to participate in the puja in Japan? Why were they thanking me? Did this mean they wanted me to agree with them? Thus, many people don’t listen to what their guru says.

“Those of you who have not taken refuge might be wondering why it’s so serious. Of course it’s serious! If you won’t even listen to what your guru says, then what is the point of your coming here to hear the Dharma? You don’t listen because you are too opinionated. What makes the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center so special? When my disciples break the precepts or make a mistake, why do I want their group members to write down their opinions about what happened? It is because they have practiced Buddhism for many years, so if they still can’t see whether each sentient being’s causes are virtuous or evil, then what are they doing practicing? All it means is they have not achieved any cultivation. Therefore, yesterday I caught out all twenty of those people. So many people’s opinions have been written down which I have not read, but yesterday—I don’t know whether I was in a good mood, or a bad mood, or what—I instructed that ordained disciple to present the opinions to me, which is why all twenty of those group members were not allowed to participate in today’s puja.

“In the future, if any of your group members tell you they want to implore to repent, then if you casually or perfunctorily write something like, ‘Thank you Rinpoche! Dharma brother, keep up the good work!!’ instead of your actual opinion, then you should just go ahead and prepare yourselves to stop being welcome at the pujas. Why didn’t those twenty people write down their opinions? It was because they did not want to offend anyone. If they are so afraid of offending people, then why weren’t they afraid of offending me? I said very clearly that they needed to write down their reasons for agreeing or disagreeing with the disciple’s being allowed to repent. Does writing, ‘Thank you Rinpoche!’ count as an opinion? It clearly shows that they were trying to fool me.

“None of you believes Achi can help me handle you. I’m not formidable; Dharma Protector Achi is the formidable one. If a certain Glorious Jewel disciple doesn’t listen to my teachings, then Achi is sure to catch him or her out. You keep refusing to listen to this truth! Therefore, that disciple’s group leader was punished as well. Why should even the group leader have been punished? It was because she thought her job was very simple; she thought all she had to do was collect the consent forms and dump them into my hands, and then let me deal with them. Can’t you all have a bit of mercy for me? I’m sixty-seven years old, and will be sixty-eight in a few days. Do you really think I have the time and energy to worry over such trivial matters of yours? As group leaders, if you see that any of your group members have not written their opinions down or have written them incorrectly, then how about you ask them to go back and fix them? Are you more afraid of offending people than of sowing evil karmic seeds?

“A few days ago I went to the vegetarian restaurant, and a group of people who had just come back from the puja in Japan were there, eating very cheerfully together. As it happened, I caught one of them in the middle of committing a minor transgression. Dharma Protector Achi’s powers are truly remarkable; I really do admire Achi very much.” Right then and there, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed the disciple who had done the wrong thing to stand up, and then continued speaking compassionately. “After her trip to Japan, this disciple made a bookmark; on one side was a maple tree, and on the other were clouds. On the bookmark she had printed the words of the Great Six-Syllable Mantra. Did the disciple do a good job? It certainly seemed so; the bookmark exhibited some very pretty scenes as well as the mantra. One would be able to obtain blessings simply by chanting it, right? That’s what everyone out there in society says, anyway. Fortunately, though; Achi is truly helpful, and helped her as well. By placing the words of the mantra below the tree, did this disciple mean for people to worship the tree deity every day? A mantra is supreme, yet she had written its words at the bottom of the tree.

“A lot of people plant such evil seeds on a daily basis without even realizing it. This disciple has taken refuge for more than ten years, so why did she do that? It was because she thought she could make people very happy if she did; she thought that by giving folks those bookmarks, they would be able to form an affinity with Buddhism. If her bookmarks were well-received, then later on she could sell them, because this is the sort of business she does. Luckily she had taken refuge for so many years, so Dharma Protector Achi had set aside some virtuous causes for her so that she could get caught out by me. You can get in trouble even while eating a meal, so from now on perhaps you should just stop going there. After all, you never know when I might show up and catch you red-handed. For a Buddhist practitioner, being disrespectful to the Three Jewels is a grave offense. If she hadn’t taken refuge in Buddhism, her transgression would be excusable—but she had taken refuge and followed her guru for more than ten years!

“The words of a mantra are very precious. Don’t think that just because you have heard someone else chanting them you can therefore chant them at will; likewise, don’t think that you can chant a mantra just because someone on television taught you to. The Buddha said very clearly in the Tripitaka that anyone without the root capacity to practice Mantrayana is not even qualified to listen to mantras. In the Ratnakuta Sutra there is a section in which the Buddha forbade anyone without the root capacity to practice Mayahana Buddhism from even reading that sutra. These words were uttered by the Buddha Himself, but these days a lot of people are defiling Buddhism just so that they can get more believers to follow them. Why are mantras so precious? I have told you before that a mantra embodies the aspiration and merits of the yidam; it’s all packed into a few shorts(short) syllables. For this reason, all of these mantras have Dharma protectors. If you disrespect a mantra, its Dharma protector will not be happy.

“Using an example from my past, back when I started learning Tantra, I had taken refuge in His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, but I still did not have a very clear understanding of the rules. In Yunnan I met a person who claimed to know a lot about Tibetan Buddhism. He took one look at me and thought I might be rich, so he said, ‘Tonight after dinner I’ll transmit some mantras to you.’ I casually said ‘Okay,’ and after the meal he actually sat in front of me and started getting ready to chant. Because one of my specialties is practicing the Acalanatha, before he began chanting I suddenly sensed that Acalanatha had arrived and was taking over my body. My entire face changed while the man just stared at me wordlessly. At first I wanted to suppress the emanation, but I abruptly leapt to my feet and manifested the wrathful appearance of the yidam. This caused the man to turn tail and flee, and I’ve never seen him since.

“What is the moral of this story? I have such a good root capacity that even people who do not act according to the Buddha’s teachings want to transmit the Dharma to me, but the yidams would not let me listen for fear that a karmic hindrance might get planted in my mind. Therefore, ever since that day I have understood very well that the Dharma is not a child’s plaything; it is not for you to hear or read just because you might want to. You must abide by the rules. These days a lot of people out there are collaboratively defiling Buddhism; I know this, because I have experienced it personally. Why do Buddhist practitioners have to be so cautious compared to followers of other religions? It is because the Dharma can help us to become liberated from life and death in this very lifetime. If you have not done a good job of regulating your mind, then learning these things will not be helpful to you. If you are practicing Buddhism without the correct mindset, then the Dharma’s awe-inspiring power could help you to commit some minor wrongdoings. Buddhism involves worldly family members as well as Dharma protectors, so we must be very careful not to defile it.

“Don’t think that printing a mantra’s words will help sentient beings form an affinity with it. If it were that simple, then I should just go ahead and form connections with sentient beings and follow other people’s examples by using my own Dharma photo, printing a yidam’s mantra on it, and distributing it all over the place. Why do I only give you my Dharma photo after you’ve implored for it? I do so because that way, at the very least you will give rise to respect for the photo and not burn it. It would be very easy for me to follow other people’s examples, so why don’t I? It is because that is no way to form affinities.

“Back when I first started learning Exoteric Buddhism, a friend took me all over the place and I ended up with a pile of Buddhism-related books being given to me. I would never throw away or burn these books, so I still have them to this day. The more advanced technology becomes, the worse it gets for everybody; I say this because everyone thinks handing out such publications is a good way of propagating Buddhism. Ever since I started practicing Buddhism, and ever since I founded the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in 1997, not once have I done any advertising. I’ve never done up a single poster ad or publicizing for any of the Grand Pujas I’ve held, in which more than twenty thousand people have participated. Some people might ask, ‘Well, what about disciples talking and letting people know through word of mouth? Doesn’t that count?’ No; that does not count as publicizing. This is because I only believe in one thing: That the Buddha will liberate people who have causal conditions. If a person does not have the right causal condition, then if somehow you are able to get him or her to come to your puja, then that person will be disrespectful to Buddhism at some point in the future.

“Since 1997, I have abstained from being on television, on the radio, or in any magazines, with the exception of an appearance on TV this year; however, that was not for Buddhism, so it doesn’t count. What brought you people here? You were introduced by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Are you so obedient that you came running just because a friend mentioned something to you? The television stations are full of programs about Buddhism every day. All over Taipei—let alone the rest of Taiwan—there are many Buddhist centers, even along a little section of East Minquan Road. Why did you come here instead? It was because of your causal conditions.

“What are causal conditions? Perhaps in a past life you formed a similar aspiration to mine, yet did not achieve it, so you have come back to finish the job in this lifetime. I have never worried about not having disciples or believers. In 2002, the first time I organized a grand puja for His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang to preside over, I managed to get more than ten thousand people to attend even though it was my first time organizing such an event. Why was I able to accomplish this? It was thanks to causes and conditions from my past lives. Given that you want to practice Buddhism, you must stop believing unfounded rumors. In Shakyamuni Buddha’s time there were no cell phones or the ‘line’ app, so where did the Buddha’s disciples come from? While still in this world, Lord Jigten Sumgön had 180,000 ordained followers; where did those people come from? Back then there was no television or internet, so what made them all appear? It was the causal conditions cultivated in their past lives. Why did you all appear to me in this lifetime? It is because I owed you from my past lives. If I hadn’t, then you would not have come. You’re all ghosts, here to collect the debts I owe you, without exception, so all the Dharma methods I’m practicing in this lifetime are those of transferring consciousness.

“You might think, I’m not dead yet, so how can I be a ghost? However, if you haven’t attained enlightenment yet, then you are in your intermediate state. Don’t think that having a body draped in human skin makes you a person; as long as you still haven’t been liberated from life and death and attained enlightenment, you are in an intermediate state. There are many kinds of intermediate state; one of them is what you are in now; do not think otherwise. Having such a state means you still haven’t decided which realm you will go to. Thus, everything you do in this lifetime determines what you will be in the next. If you don’t believe it, then you should stop participating in the pujas, because the Buddha said very clearly in the sutras that those who do not believe in reincarnation are full of perverted views. What causes reincarnation? Whatever you do in this lifetime determines what will happen in the next.

“Many people think they will be fine and everything will get better after they make prostrations to the Buddha. It is not that simple; in the sutras it is written, ‘Whenever one prostrates oneself before the Buddha, one’s evils will drift away like sand in the river.’ Some people assume this means that worshipping the Buddha will eliminate all the evil deeds they have committed. However, you all need to understand that in the Tang Dynasty certain words had a different meaning than they do today. What this phrase actually means is that whenever you make respectful prostrations to the Buddha, the evil acts which have hindered your Buddhist practice will be eliminated; however, it says nothing about ridding you of your karmic retribution. If all of your karmic retribution could disappear simply as a result of making a few prostrations to the Buddha and participating in a single puja, then no karmic effect would come from participating in this puja, either. Even Shakyamuni Buddha, who attained enlightenment and Buddhahood in His current lifetime, still had to experience the maturation of effects He had caused in His past lives. The same is true of Lord Jigten Sumgon, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang and myself.

“Who says you only have one past lifetime? You have tens of thousands of past lives; more than anyone could count. It’s like how Shakyamuni Buddha and His disciples were once walking past a tree, and paused to look at an ant nest beneath it. Shakyamuni Buddha just stood there and chuckled. When the disciples asked what the Buddha was laughing about, the Buddha said that those ants had already been reincarnated five hundred times, but were still stuck in the same spot. For ants, of course, five hundred lifetimes pass by very quickly, in just a matter of months. Nevertheless, from their point of view, they are still five hundred lifetimes. Don’t assume you were necessarily human in your past lives. Even Shakyamuni Buddha spent a few lifetimes in the Hell Realm, the Animal Realm, and the Heaven Realm, so what are we to think that we were definitely human in our past lives? The only reason we have been reincarnated in this lifetime as human beings is that in a past life we cultivated the Ten Meritorious Acts to relatively perfect completion.

“All of the various characters acquired through long habits we had in our past lives in the Six Realms will emerge in this lifetime. It is written very clearly in the Ratnakuta Sutra which realms our current-lifetime’s likes and dislikes came from. For example in this lifetime, ever since I was little I have never loved playing with sand and mud, and in both childhood and adulthood I have never played with sand at the beach or sculpting pottery. Perhaps that makes me not very romantic, but in the sutra it is written that people who like playing with these sorts of things may have lived in the Animal Realm in the previous lifetime. If you take a look at pigs, sheep, and so on, you’ll see that they all like to roll around on the ground; this is even true of dogs and cats. Thus, whenever you see a child who throws a tantrum by rolling around on the floor and acting naughty, you know that this behavior might have come from the Animal Realm. When I was little, I didn’t roll around on the floor. When I lost my temper , my father would just give me a beating. All of our behavior and actions in this lifetime are definitely related to what we did in our past incarnations in the Six Realms. That we have been reborn into this lifetime as humans is tantamount to the fact that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have given us yet another opportunity to stop reincarnating.

“To avoid falling back into reincarnation, we must refrain from committing any evil acts whatsoever. We can’t even do anything that would cause other people to commit evil acts from which we might benefit. According to the Bodhisattva Path, the punishment for doing so is twice as severe. I would not claim to have achieved attainment, nor would I call myself a practitioner; however, at the very least I am benefiting sentient beings. It is recorded in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows that those who criticize others with harsh speech will go to hell. If that is true, then what about those who criticize people who benefit sentient beings?

“As His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s disciple, I consider it my duty to keep from causing my guru to suffer any afflictions. I don’t conduct myself for fame or profit; if I dared saying I had come to benefit sentient beings yet was unable to renounce fame or profit, then what would give me the right to say I help sentient beings? I don’t practice Buddhism to become well-known or for personal gain. If I wanted fame and profit, then I could just do business; why would I contend for those things with a religious flag in hand? Besides, you have not come to practice Buddhism for fame or profit, either. The purpose of my actions is not to keep possession of this Buddhist Center in the future. If you stop coming, no worries; I’d even be fine without the Buddhist Center altogether. I would not care in the least, because I have attained an immovable mind. At my age, all of my decisions must be responsible for myself and sentient beings; I definitely don’t do what I do so that I can live comfortably. Walking the Bodhisattva Path certainly does not involve viewing things from an emotional perspective; rather, it means looking at the world in terms of the law of cause and effect. I do not want my actions to cause sentient beings to sow any evil karmic seeds.

“I would not dare to claim that I have achieved any sort of attainment at this point, but at least Achi still supports me. If she didn’t, then 1,300 people would not have cropped up to attend today’s Chod Puja. Actually, I don’t want there to be so many people here, because performing the Dharma is very exhausting. If I didn’t have Achi’s support, then that person down south would not have suddenly come to implore me to perform the Dharma to liberate the sentient beings about to be displaced from the twenty thousand trees he was planning on chopping down. With twenty thousand trees, I can liberate that many sentient beings if we assume there being just one ghost per tree. If I did not have a bit of merits, then this person would not have heard of me and wouldn’t have come to find me, because he is a Buddhist, too – he could have found someone else. Simply put, right now the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Dharma protectors are spreading the word for me; people come knocking on my door without me even needing to look for them.

“The way in which that man sought me out was very strange. He heard of me through someone from Mainland China; that person talked to him about me, and he came up here. It was the result of a very bizarre string of causal conditions. I am not doing this so that the man who cuts the trees down can make money; I simply want to help sentient beings. It is written in the sutras that any tree taller than a person’s shoulders is bound to have sentient beings on it. These include insects, animals, dragons, ghosts, and so on. If you cut down that tree, you are destroying their home. A long time ago, back in 1999 or so, I had a disciple with a relative who was a teacher and who had suddenly been afflicted with psychological issues. The disciple brought this person’s younger sister to seek an audience with me, during which I asked her whether or not the condition had arisen after they cut down a tree in their home’s courtyard. She told me that this had indeed been the case.

“The one with the mental illness was married and a teacher, but her symptoms caused her to grope men. She also kept saying that she wanted to sleep with at least a certain number of men. I took one look at her and asked whether or not she had cut a tree down, and she replied that she had. At the time I still wasn’t a Rinpoche yet, and my Dharma powers were not as strong as they are now, so she led me to the courtyard. On the way there the younger sister kept telling me she hoped I wouldn’t mind if her older sister was rude to me when we got there. I told her I wouldn’t. So when we arrived, I promised the tree head that had been cut down that for the next three days I would dedicate all of my Dharma practices and performances to it, and I then asked it to please leave the older sister alone. As it turned out, two days later her symptoms were gone. Thus, you shouldn’t cut down trees without thinking. If you absolutely must cut one down, then even if you can’t find a Rinpoche to chant mantras and recite the sutras for it, you should at the very least dedicate some recitations to it yourself.

“Lord Jigten Sumgön once said that every action in the whole wide world, down to the placement of the tiniest rock somewhere, has its own causes and conditions. A rock cannot be suddenly put somewhere without reason. These causes and conditions do not refer to who placed the rock there; they refer to cause and effect. Thus, if a tree grows in a certain place, this, too, is the result of the tree’s own causes and effects. This does not mean you should be careful not to move anything; rather, you should use Buddhism to give assistance. I asked that man from down south very clearly, ‘What will you do after you cut down those trees?’ He answered, ‘For every one I cut down I’ll plant a new one; this is in line with government regulations.’ Only then did I agree to help. I did not charge him for my services, nor am I planning on receiving any offerings from him. This is because the offering he made to me was enormous: The opportunity to help the sentient beings living in twenty thousand trees. Thus, our discussions never touched on money or offerings, because he was not my disciple. I’ve spoken so much today, and I still haven’t even performed the Dharma yet. My purpose is to teach you that receiving the Dharma is not easy. Don’t think that just because you want to hear or need it, you’ll necessarily be able to do so; practicing Buddhism is an undertaking that spans lifetimes.

“A practitioner performing the Chod must remove all Dharma instruments and sacred objects from his or her body. One cannot protect oneself with them, because if the practitioner is holding a sacred object such as a protection wheel, then the sentient beings will see it and will not dare to approach. For this reason such objects must be taken off, for we do not want the sentient beings to feel afraid. It is written in the Dharma text that if any sick people are present, we must have them lie down in front of the mandala. Because there are so many people participating in today’s puja, however, and due to the resulting lack of space, we won’t do this. Why should sick people lie down? It is so that they can make offerings and accumulate good fortune. However, today I can achieve the same results by way of my visualization abilities.

“There never used to be so many people attending whenever the Chod was performed in the past. Things are different now, so we can’t do it 100% the same way we did before. In the past, Chod practitioners used to wander all over the place; if someone needed a Chod performed, the practitioner would go there and perform it. However, that way of doing things is not exactly suited to modern society. For example, it would be impossible for me to carry a hand-bell and vajra all over the place and declare that I would go wherever someone passed away to perform the Dharma. This is especially true in Taiwan with its many superstitious areas; if I suddenly rocked up in such a place to perform the Chod, I would definitely get shooed away. You were all able to attend today because the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas referred you here.

“Many people think they will benefit from benefiting sentient beings. This sort of view is not very accurate. Until we have attained enlightenment and Buddhahood, benefiting sentient beings will continue to be as necessary as breathing. It is not something we should only do from atop a Dharma throne; there are many ways to benefit sentient beings. It is written in the sutras that you should not harm any sentient beings, because you do not know which of them might be an emanation of a Bodhisattva. Bodhisattvas can emanate as insects, cats, dogs, flower petals, et cetera. The reason I ask you to eat vegetarian for the rest of your lives if you participate in pujas for transferring consciousness, is very simple: Given that you are imploring for help from the Dharma, are you in a condition to harm sentient beings? Do you have the right to accidentally harm a Bodhisattva?

“If you are not even willing to meet the most basic prerequisite of becoming vegetarian, then I do not believe you can learn compassion in this lifetime. As such, any further recitations of the sutras or Buddhist practice would be useless to you. Compassion is the foundation of all Buddhism. Thus, refraining from killing is the starting point of our cultivation of compassion; if you cannot even do this, then you won’t be able to do anything else. The most important reason I want you to eat vegetarian is so that you can learn how to make a firm resolution. If you cannot, then some random phone call might make you stop coming here, or you will come up with many other such mysterious excuses. Resolve is of utmost importance; once you make a promise, you must follow it through. Don’t think that you can get away with not doing something you’ve agreed to do just this one time; this, too, is cause and effect, because in the future someone might break a promise he or she made to you. Thus, don’t agree to do something lightly; if you make a promise, follow through. If you cannot then you shouldn’t have agreed to do it in the first place. Don’t say without thinking that you can make a commitment, and then one day say you can’t come when something important comes up. Nothing in the universe is more important than participating in a puja, unless the presiding practitioner is a false master of course.

“The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are constantly creating causal conditions for us, but whether or not we make them last is up to us. Any erroneous decision you make can cause a hindrance to your Buddhist practice; once this has emerged, hindrances to aspects of your mundane life will naturally arise as well. If you eliminate the hindrances to your Buddhist practice, then even if something emerges in your mundane life as a result of something you owe from your past lives, the related effects of karmic retribution will be greatly lessened. Sometimes you might lose fortune, thus avoiding calamity, or be criticized a bit; that is just repaying debts, however, and it would pass. Therefore, don’t be superstitious when it comes to Buddhism. ‘Rely on the Dharma, not the person’ means anything anyone says that does not help us to become liberated from life and death is not the Dharma, whether the speaker is a throne holder, a senior monk, or what.

“Many entrepreneurs have implored me to make their businesses thrive. I conduct a lot of business, too, but I have never performed the Jambhala Dharma for myself. If I were to perform it, shouldn’t I do it for myself before I do it for someone else? If I myself were not a businessman, then it might make sense to perform the Dharma for you in the hope that you might make money with which to make offerings. I am, however, yet I do not perform the Jambhala for myself. Why should I do it for others? Many people slander Tantrism and misuse Tantra. The point of the Jambhala is first and foremost to help monastics who have had no resources because over their past lives they did not make offerings or give alms, and who are extremely poor in this lifetime as well. Furthermore, poverty is suffering. This Dharma is performed for anyone who is determined to dedicate his or her life to practicing Buddhism and who has no resources with which to do so—that is, who has no food to eat. Thirdly, I will also perform the Jambhala for anyone who wants to take the money he or she earns and give it back to society. I will not help anyone who wants to earn money or to get through a difficult time in life. I endure hard times all day long, yet I have never performed the Jambhala for myself. If I were to do so, I would do it for myself first, because I am very good at performing the Jambhala.

“At the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center the Dharma of Jambhala is only performed once a year. Because you have made offerings to the Buddhist Center and the guru, by performing this Dharma for you we do not owe you. The Jambhala can therefore help you to obtain whatever wealth you can in this lifetime—that is, the wealth that is your due in this lifetime as a result of the offerings and charity you gave in your past lives. You have committed too many evil acts in this lifetime, and for every piece of meat you eat you either lose longevity or wealth. Don’t think that just because you have repented it means you do not have to repay your debt; it simply means that your karmic creditors do not need you to repay them right away. Even if you do repay them, you will still pay a little less on interest. You must listen closely, and remember: Don’t speak of Buddhism with a bunch of superstitious nonsense. As the saying goes, ‘Rely on the Dharma, not the person,’ so you should not view me through superstitious eyes. How powerful I might be is my own business; it doesn’t matter how powerful I am if you aren’t willing to listen and do as you’re told. All you have then is having a connection with me, and therefore an opportunity to be scolded.

“It’s like the disciple I mentioned just now, who got scolded even while eating a meal. Moreover, she didn’t show me that bookmark; a child took it out and it was mysteriously gotten in my hand. It seems she still had some good fortune; you can only be reprimanded if you have good fortune. This is because correcting your behavior can keep you from having the causal condition to fall into reincarnation. Those of you who are afraid of being reprimanded really should stop coming to hear the Dharma.”

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

“I’d like to take some time to explain a certain phrase to you. After taking refuge we all recite, ‘I will refrain from evil, practice all good, and purify my mind. The Dharma includes all of these things.’ Purifying one’s mind does not mean making your mind clean; in terms of the Buddhist concept of Emptiness, your consciousness is already pure, so you don’t need to deliberately refrain from thinking about committing evil acts and only think about doing good. That’s not what it means. Rather, once you can stop committing all evil and do all good, your consciousness will very naturally recover its original, pure nature. This is the basis of all Buddhism. Buddhism will not give you anything; it has absolutely nothing to give you. You all think that if you make prostrations to the Buddha, you will be given good fortune, be able to unlock your wisdom and get help on everything. Once your consciousness naturally recovers its pure nature, nothing in the world will produce any hindrances for you. Thus, if you have any hindrances, it means your mind is not yet pure.

“For example, last week while I was performing the Guru Yoga a pair of believers who had already arrived at the Buddhist Center’s entrance received a phone call saying that their daughter was suffering an asthma attack, so they hurried back home. Why did such a hindrance happen to them? It was because they came to participate in the puja hoping that it would cure illnesses. Thus, their minds were not pure. As such, they naturally did not have sufficient faith and respect for the Three Jewels. In this lifetime nothing has been able to stop me from participating in the pujas. I would still make prostrations even if the sky were to fall.

“One time, back at the old Buddhist Center, on the same day and at the same time that I was performing the Dharma from atop the Dharma throne, another Dharma master was performing the Dharma elsewhere for more than a thousand people. When the earthquake hit, I kept on performing the Dharma without stopping, whereas that other Dharma master’s attendants immediately carried him off stage. It’s not that I wasn’t afraid of dying; with a body of flesh and blood, how could I not fear death? So why didn’t I descend the Dharma throne? It was because I believe that sentient beings are more important than my own life. If I ran away any time an earthquake hit, what would the sentient beings in need of the Dharma do if they got crushed by the earthquake while I ran off?

“The reason that Dharma master acted that way was that his mind was not pure. Perhaps he was holding the puja to get offerings or something else. I don’t preside over pujas for my own good, and I ignored the earthquake when it happened. If the roof had collapsed, then perhaps we would all have died together, but as it turned out we were fine. No one was injured during that earthquake. In the sutras it is written that if Buddhist teachings are expounded in accordance with the Dharma, the earth shall move. This sort of earthquake, however, will never result in injury or loss of property. When an earthquake incurred injuries or loss of property, then it is not called “the earth is moving.” Don’t confuse one with the other; just because a lot of earthquakes happen in Japan does not mean there are a lot of master practitioners there. Actually, this is not the case, because Japanese earthquakes often result in great loss of property. After I refused to descend the Dharma throne during that earthquake, the Buddhist Center began to thrive.

“Over the course of your Buddhist practice, it is not so much that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will come to test you as it is that the karmic creditors from your past lives will be watching you. That pair of believers, who were not able to participate in the Guru Yoga as a result of a phone call, were naturally also unable to participate in today’s Chod puja because they would have had to implore for permission again, and yesterday they did not come. To ‘refrain from evil and practice all good’ is very important. Why did that disciple get reprimanded just from writing that mantra in the wrong place? It was because she had committed evil. As such, her mind could not recover its original essence of natural purity. The phrase ‘Dharma includes all these things’ means that essence of pure mind is the basis of all Buddhism; it’s not something you can obtain through supplicating, nor is it anything that His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang or I can give you. He and I only bestow blessings upon you so that further bad things won’t happen to you, giving you the time and space you need to diligently amend your ways; our purpose is not to get rid of them for you. You sowed your own karmic seeds, and you must reap your own karmic retribution. For example, in coming here today to participate in the puja, you have planted a virtuous cause. I cannot take away from you the virtuous effects it will grow into, because they are yours. If you plant an evil cause, then likewise you will have to deal with the consequences. All I can do is act as a farmer, helping these fruit to grow even better or not so bitter. This is something the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and I can do, but the fruit itself is your own to eat.

“Purifying your mind does not mean continuously using the Dharma to wash it clean; your mind already possessed that condition in the first place. If you keep on adding things, thinking that you’ll meditate until you attain enlightenment and can liberate sentient beings, then your mind will not be pure anymore. According to the Ratnakuta Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha once stated that all Bodhisattvas are adept at all Dharmas. In other words, they have a complete understanding of all Dharma methods, and have attained and accomplished these goals without asking for self-enlightenment. Why don’t they ask to become enlightened? It is because they want to return to this Earth and keep on liberating sentient beings. If they were to attain enlightenment and enter Nirvana, then who would be left to liberate sentient beings? Many great Bodhisattvas are emanations of the ancient Buddhas returned to Earth; that is, they are not simply Buddhas that belong to this era of human culture. According to the sutras, a total of seven Buddhas will be seen on Earth in this era. Shakyamuni Buddha was the fifth, Bodhisattva Maitreya was the sixth. As for who the seventh will be, that is up to Bodhisattva Maitreya to reveal; it is not up to me. Once all seven Buddhas have come and gone, the Earth will cease to exist. You might think that is still a long way off, but if it happens that no Buddha is on Earth when you return here in the future, you will be doomed.

“The Buddha said very clearly that every planet will experience the Four Kalpas of Formation, Existence, Destruction, and the Void. The Earth has already been established and produced, and all sentient beings can live here. Now we are in the process of entering Destruction. In human time, this will take a very, very long time, but from the point of view of the void, it will all be over in the snap of a finger. Why am I relatively strict? Why do I reprimand you for such tiny things? It is because everything starts small. For example, in response to that disciple’s bookmark, someone else might have said, ‘Wow! How inspired! How truly diligent you are to think of letting people see that mantra!’

“I would never say such a thing, because it is utter nonsense that is detrimental to Buddhism. Think about bookmarks for a moment: After you place one in a book, will you cherish it? Unless it were made of gold, you’d probably lose it immediately and not be able to find it. The words of a mantra should be respectfully placed on the mandala; after being blessed by the guru, they can be carried in one’s person—but they should not be used to make bookmarks or ornaments. Why do you commit evil acts? It is because you give rise to greed.

“In the Dharma text it is written, ‘If one’s bodily precepts are kept pure, then one’s verbal precepts will be virtuous, too.’ If you do well at keeping your bodily precepts by refraining from killing and reducing the number of evil thoughts you have, then the words that come out of your mouth will naturally be virtuous. You will no longer swear at people or engage in harsh speech; you will stop acting that way quite naturally. The phrase, ‘If one’s mind-precepts are kept pure, then all one’s precepts will be virtuous, too,’ means that if you can purely keep the precepts in your mind, then all of your precepts will be virtuous. Whether you are keeping the Five Precepts of a lay practitioner, the Bhikkhuni Precepts, the Bhikkhu Precepts, the Shami Precepts, or even the Bodhisattva Precepts, if your mind is pure, then you will remain virtuous in your observance of the precepts, no matter which ones they are. People in other religions eat vegetarian, too, so why can’t they become liberated from life and death? It is because their minds are not pure and they have not kept the precepts. Thus, the precepts are very subtle.

“Perhaps I practiced Vinaya School in a past life, but the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center covers all Dharmas spoken by the Buddha and transmitted to me by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. The Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center is not divided into different sects; all of them were spoken and taught by Shakyamuni Buddha. In Kyoto, Japan I visited a temple of the Pure Land Sect, and at its entrance was a large stone tablet on which were engraved the words, ‘A Fundamental Buddhist Center of One Million Times.’ As soon as I saw this I knew that perhaps in the past they’d had a resident abbot who had recited the Amitabha Buddha’s name one million times, so he thought this was a milestone in cultivation. By comparison, we in the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center have chanted it more than 120 million times, yet we have not engraved this feat into any stones. The way in which we have chanted the Great Six-Syllable Mantra a hundred million times at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center is a bit different from how it is chanted in other places; we have all of our disciples chanting in the same location together. In other places, they chant separately or at home drawing circles on pieces of paper to count; they then add these all together until they amount to a hundred million. I’m not saying this isn’t a good way of doing it, but there is a difference in terms of its efficacy and the collective virtuous karma it can produce. When a guru gathers everyone together in a single location to perform the same Dharma from the same lineage in the same Buddhist Center, a power is produced that is much more useful than if you were to go home and chant the mantra by yourself for a million, ten million, or even a hundred million times.

“Many people ask what sort of homework they should do. The Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center is not a school, and it does not give you homework. Those of you who have not yet taken refuge should not ask, as soon as you have, what homework you need to do. Your homework is to prepare yourselves to be reprimanded! You therefore should think it through very carefully before you decide to take refuge. Don’t think that you will receive protection and blessings after taking refuge; that is not quite accurate. Your homework is to mentally prepare yourselves to be scolded at any time. Even disciples who have taken refuge for more than ten years would get caught and reprimanded by me. The precepts are very important, which is why, when Shakyamuni Buddha was going to Nirvana, the disciples asked who their guru would be once the Buddha was gone. The Buddha’s answer was, ‘May the precepts be your guru.’ This does not literally mean that we should see the precepts as our guru; it means that all Dharmas, sutras, and anything to do with Buddhism are founded on the precepts. The reason we reincarnate is that throughout our past lives we have not kept in strict compliance with the precepts. As such, we have broken them then; how else would we have come back to this world? Thus, of course we must base our entire Buddhist practice upon the precepts.

“Will keeping the precepts make life inconvenient? No, it will not. If you look at me, you’ll know that I’m still able to run around from place to place. The keystone of the precepts is consciousness; if your consciousness is not pure, then even if on the surface you have stopped killing, whenever you see someone else eating fish you might think, Ah, that looks so good! If only I’d known, I wouldn’t have taken refuge! If you have thoughts such as these, then you have broken the precepts. Don’t think the precepts are simply rules designed to control us; Buddhist precepts are different from those of other religions. They are not ways of punishing or awarding us; rather, they give us parameters which, if we act within them, can keep us from reincarnating. Only after you have gained a clear understanding of what these parameters are will you stop making mistake after mistake.

“Why do you break the precepts? It is because you are greedy, resentful, and ignorant; you have neither committed your guru’s teachings to memory nor studied the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas very attentively. You merely recite them by rote and congratulate yourselves for having done a really good job of memorizing them. However, being able to memorize them does not mean you will necessarily be able to act accordingly. Thus, I may have performed the Chod for you all today and helped you to eliminate the karmic hindrances you have accumulated over your past lives, but the real question is whether or not you will continue to cultivate yourselves. By the end of every Chod I perform, my voice has gotten rather weak. This is not because I have spoken so much or chanted so many mantras; it is because I have had to liberate so many sentient beings, and I must use my own life force to do so. As you would put it, transferring their consciousness drains me of energy. I help you with these things, yet you still won’t make a firm resolution to practice; this means you are extremely ungrateful. I don’t mean that you should show gratitude or be nice to me; I mean you have not prepared to truly commit yourselves to your Buddhist practice and cultivation. No matter what an ungrateful person does, he or she will never have the opportunity to find contentment and is bound to have problems. As these problems plague you one after another, you will start to complain; however, that won’t do you any good, for it will already be too late.”

Upon the perfect completion of the puja, the disciples thanked His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in unison for the guru’s compassionate performance of the Dharma and auspicious teachings. Rising to their feet, they paid reverent homage as His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne.

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Updated on July 21, 2019