His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – January 3, 2015

Before the puja began, a disciple, accompanied by her daughter who had also taken refuge, shared her experiences with the attendees and praised His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having saved her. At the same time, she wanted to repent for the evil acts she had committed in the past. First, however, she shared with everyone an account of an extremely auspicious incident that had happened to her, and which had to do with the guru’s unfathomable ability to liberate sentient beings from suffering.

It had happened to her mother-in-law’s younger sister, whom the disciple and her family all called “Auntie.” Auntie had taken refuge in Exoteric Buddhism for forty years, and long before she had lost her vision in her right eye, she had gone to Taoyuan to sincerely recite sutras and make prostrations before the Buddha with a Buddhist association there. Furthermore, the disciple had often heard about Auntie’s respect for the Three Jewels and her sincerity to make offerings. Whenever the Buddhist association would hold an event, Auntie would reach deep into her pockets and make a hefty offering, giving more than NT$100,000 each time. The disciple had heard of this happening many times. In her day-to-day affairs, Auntie was not at all an overly generous person; on the contrary, she was very frugal and meticulous with every expenditure she made. Only her aspiration and offerings to the Three Jewels had given people reason to sing praise for this eighty-year-old woman who was not very highly educated. Moreover, due to the loss of vision in her right eye, she was a walking example of what His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had once said from the Dharma throne: “Everything we do is related to good fortune, especially when we see doctors and take medication.”

Auntie had familial glaucoma, for which she continued to see a doctor. One evening, ten years previously, she had suddenly felt a great deal of discomfort in her right eye. She had gone to the emergency room of a well-known hospital in northern Taiwan, but after returning home her eye had not felt any better. The next day she had returned to the eye clinic at the same hospital, but again they had done nothing to improve her condition. This had made her decide to switch to a clinic on the corner of her street where a doctor she’d often visited worked. After discovering Auntie did not just have simple glaucoma, this old physician had advised her to return to the original hospital immediately to have her eye examined. There they had finally verified that her condition was the result of an ocular stroke, but because she had missed the twenty-four hour golden window of opportunity, her ocular nerve was now dead, leaving her completely blind in that eye.

In early November, Auntie had found out that she had bone spurs growing in her vertebra. The alternating numbness and pain had begun to affect her daily life, so under the insistence of her children Auntie had sought out a famous doctor at a certain major hospital in Taipei. The doctor had told her that a minor procedure could fix her problem, and that she did not have anything to worry about. After surgery, Auntie had very happily paid the disciple’s family a visit to share her joy over the successful operation. Nothing good ever lasts, however, and only ten or so days later, Auntie had returned to the hospital complaining of acute pain. The same famous doctor had examined her and declared that spinal surgery would again be necessary so that steel nails could be inserted into her vertebra. After hearing this, Auntie had been very afraid. For an eighty-year-old to have to undergo surgery twice in the same month, one can only imagine the fear and helplessness she must have felt.

On November 15th, two days before the second operation, the disciple had brought Auntie a copy of the book Happiness and Suffering written by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. After opening the book to the page that contained the guru’s Dharma photo, she had asked Auntie to look at it carefully, and told her that at that moment there was only one person on this Earth who could save and bless Auntie, and that was His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. The disciple had told her that the guru would know of and bestow compassionate blessings upon any sentient being who implored with a mindset of respect and repentance.

At the time she had not known how closely Auntie had listened to what she said; after all, Auntie had never participated in His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s pujas. Originally, Auntie had wanted to participate in last year’s (2014) Grand Puja, but the disciples had committed wrongdoings and not amended their ways, so the Grand Puja had not been held. As a result, Auntie had never met the guru. After listening to the disciple’s words, Auntie had nodded her head tearfully. On November 18th she had undergone nearly seven hours of surgery, lasting from 1:00 in the afternoon to about 8:00 at night. This had made Auntie’s daughter worry to the point of tears, fearing the worst.

Two days later, the disciple had gone to the hospital to visit Auntie. As soon as she’d arrived, Auntie had told her something very remarkable. In Taiwanese, Auntie had said, “I saw Rinpoche come to save me. Rinpoche and twelve Buddhas came to save me!” Upon hearing this, the disciple had felt so grateful that she’d been at a loss for words. Auntie had then described His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s solemn Dharma appearance in great detail, stressing that she was sure she had seen the guru very clearly. Auntie had gone on to say that the guru’s Dharma vestments had been golden in color and blazingly bright. Having never received much by way of education, Auntie had not known what meditation was, so she had simply crossed a couple of fingers to depict how His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had sat cross-legged, and had even mentioned that the guru had been wearing a hat. Impatient to describe the hat’s appearance, she had whispered feverishly, “The hat was just like that one Matsu wears!”

Auntie had never participated in any pujas; moreover, in the Dharma photo contained in Happiness and Suffering, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is not wearing a hat. Auntie had gone on to say that the guru had been using a 10 cm wide plank to disperse black shadows, and that the twelve Dharma protectors had been helping him. One of them had even fallen down, but had then immediately gotten back up. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and the twelve Dharma protectors had protected her by holding her karmic creditors at bay. After listening to all of this, the disciple had gotten all choked up with emotion. She was grateful for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s magnificent, far-reaching compassion and great, awe-inspiring power, as well as for the guru’s willingness to sacrifice himself in order to save suffering sentient beings. Any sentient beings suffering hardship on this Earth or anywhere in the entire universe—even those who were not disciples and had never even met the guru—need only give rise to an attitude of reverence, repentance, and belief, and the guru would compassionately bestow blessings, never abandoning a single one of them. Her Auntie had said that after taking refuge in Exoteric Buddhism for forty years, not once had she ever seen or even heard of such an auspicious sight.

The disciple was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having bestowed upon her the opportunity to participate each week in the general pujas presided over by the guru. Every day she had lived a peaceful, uneventful life thanks to the protection that had constantly been provided by the guru’s great ocean of merits. She felt ashamed, for she’d known these merits were precious, but had not understood exactly how valuable they truly were. They were as important as the air; even though the air cannot be seen with the naked eye, a person cannot live without it even for a minute—and in this Age of Degenerate Dharma, sentient beings suffer from heavy karma, a lack of good fortune, and a dearth of causal conditions! Just as His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, without the guru’s compassionate deliverance there would be no telling how low we might sink. Her Auntie, for example, had amassed a solid foundation of Buddhist practice over a period of forty years, but because she had not had the causal condition to take refuge in such a master practitioner as His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, she’d still been misdiagnosed at that major hospital. Even though she had sought out a very famous doctor, her surgery had been unsuccessful all the same. Nevertheless, because Auntie had developed a repentant mindset and respect for the guru, this elderly woman had been granted the guru’s blessings during her time of greatest need, and had thus been spared a dangerous fate.

She took this opportunity to repent deeply. As a disciple, had her attitude of reverence and repentance toward His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche been as earnest and sincere as Auntie’s had been? Had she done all she could to make respectful offerings to the guru and the Three Jewels? This little life of hers, too, had been saved by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

She had taken refuge in the guru in July of 2005. The causal condition that had led her to do so had been her inability to bear the sight of her father’s suffering from colorectal cancer, so she had sought an audience with the guru. Within a week of receiving his blessings in the hospital, her father had passed away peacefully, and multicolored, auspicious signs had appeared on his bones and ashes after the cremation. Over the following couple of years, however, because the disciple had not been very diligent in amending her behavior, her husband and family members had developed a negative view of Buddhism. As a result, she had not been able to participate in the general Sunday pujas for the entirety of those two years. Then, in July of 2009, her husband had been assigned abroad for work reasons, so the family had moved to Kuala Lumpur.

Before moving to Kuala Lumpur, she had developed a hysteromyoma; this she had been able to get under control with an ongoing regimen of traditional Chinese medicine. Beginning in January and February of 2012, however, she had experienced three or four heavy bouts of hemorrhaging, which was referred to in Western medicine as “vaginal bleeding.” She had been very alarmed and afraid throughout this process, and because she had been overseas at the time, she had felt very insecure and had not known whom to turn to for help. Her only recourse had been to silently visualize His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and implore for the guru’s blessings so that she would not be in danger or even die in a foreign land. After less than a minute of doing this, the bleeding had stopped. According to Western medicine, this should have been impossible; she should have needed the immediate application of a powerful hemostatic injection, or to be sent to the operating room.

That April she’d returned to Taiwan. A blood test had revealed that she was suffering from a severe case of anemia, with a hemoglobin index of only 4. Anything under 12 was considered to be anemia; given that she’d only had one third of the normal amount of hemoglobin remaining, it would stand to reason that she should have been too weak to stand. Nevertheless, she had persevered through a four or five hour flight back to Taiwan. She knew that it was thanks to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings and aid that she had not bled to death in Malaysia or suffered any vaginal bleeding while on the plane. Due to the critical nature of her condition, a doctor had recommended surgery. At the time of the operation, the doctor had informed her husband that the myoma had been full of 400cc of blood, leaving her in a very precarious situation indeed—like a bubble waiting to pop. Had it not been for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate blessings, she would have bled to death in Malaysia or lost her life in the airplane cabin at a high altitude.

She repented for having practiced Buddhism with such a continuous lack of diligence and sincerity, and for not having listened closely to the teachings the guru had bestowed from atop the Dharma throne. Even worse, she had forgotten the motto, “Do not stray from the guru.” It is not that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche needs us; rather, as soon as disciples who lack good fortune and have heavy karma roam far away from their guru, they then have no one to turn to once their karmic hindrances begin to manifest. She repented for not having had a profound belief in cause and effect or death’s impermanence. She had always greedily practiced Buddhism to obtain protection and blessings. She’d also been lazy, and had not done her best to practice the Dharma transmitted by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

She knew she had been in the wrong, and after pondering her painful experiences, had made a firm resolution to work hard to change her evil habits from that day forward and to achieve the goal of becoming liberated from life and death in this very lifetime so that she could be reborn in the Western Pure Land. Right then and there, she wished to make a public repentance for all the evil and immoral acts she had committed with body, speech, and mind in violation of the Five Precepts and the Ten Meritorious Acts. She had, for example, stolen items that had not belonged to her; given in to her desires by watching and reading unsavory publications and movies; induced abortion several times; and greedily eaten the flesh of sentient beings. She went on to repent for having broken the Five Precepts and not followed any of the Ten Meritorious Acts, as well as for all of the immoral acts she had committed which would send her to hell. She also wished to repent for having greedily sought after merits by participating in the pujas, and for not having heeded the teachings bestowed from atop the Dharma throne by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. The guru had once said, “When your family members do not agree with your decision to participate in the pujas, it means you have not amended your ways. You mustn’t participate in the pujas by way of deception.” She had selfishly lied and deceived in order to obtain good fortune, thus causing her family members to suffer afflictions, thereby creating verbal karma by speaking harshly. Moreover, this had cut off their wisdom life for learning Buddhism. All of these consequences had been her fault. She had heinously harmed sentient beings, yet had not known she was doing it and had even been self-righteous about her actions. She repented for all of her evil behavior, and resolved never to make those mistakes again.

She prayed that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would take pity on her, a disciple who had such heavy karma and was so lacking in good fortune. She implored the guru to bestow blessings upon her to bolster her mind. She would not flinch when her karmic retribution manifests, and she must constantly maintain a pure nature and follow her Auntie’s example by examining herself from time to time to make sure she had a 100% respectful, repentant, and generous attitude toward His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. From that day forward, she would earnestly put the guru’s Dharma teachings into practice and try hard not to slack off so that she could reach the most important purpose of life—the liberation from life and death.

His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was constantly looking after not only the disciples, but their family members as well. Her entire family, including her husband and daughter, had benefited from the guru’s blessings. In the past, while studying in America, her daughter had felt some physical discomfort. After she’d returned to Taiwan, a doctor had discovered mastoid nodules had been in her thyroid gland. Since then she had recovered, thanks to the guru’s blessings. In the future, if time permitted, the disciple again planned to share an account of this painful process with everyone. Finally, she sincerely and reverently prayed that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would maintain good health and keep turning the Dharma wheel, that the Drikung Kagyu Lineage would flourish forever, and that the guru’s Dharma activities would flourish even more so that all sentient beings in the Six Realms could benefit and more of them could be liberated.

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

“Today I will perform the Amitayus Ritual. This Dharma method is not included among Exoteric Buddhist rituals; it only exists in Tibetan Buddhism. The Amitayus is Amitabha Buddha’s Sambhogakaya. If a practitioner cultivates the All Acts of the Six Paramitas and Mahayana Buddhism, then practicing the Amitayus will be beneficial. We don’t even have to go as far back as our past lives; from the moment we reincarnated into our mothers’ wombs in this lifetime, we began to commit evil. If our mothers ate meat to nourish our bodies, then it did indeed help us to grow physically; however, because it involved the act of killing, the collective karma that came from that act began to grow in us from the time we were fetuses right up until we developed intelligence and began to eat a lot of meat ourselves.

“It is written in the sutras where longevity comes from. It has nothing to do with whether or not you are healthy, nor is it the case that anyone born into a wealthy household will necessarily have a long lifespan whereas anyone born poor will definitely have a short one. Our longevity comes from having not eaten meat or killed in a past life; this has added up to certain longevity that we can enjoy in this one. What is it used for? In this lifetime it is basically used to collect and repay debts; once all of our gratitude and grudges are settled, we will pass away. Many people do whatever they can while they are still alive to extend their longevity. From a mundane point of view, we might be able to do so if we spend this lifetime doing as many good deeds as possible, sparing no thought for ourselves and dedicating all of our actions toward helping sentient beings.

“In terms of our Buddhist practice, what is longevity used for? If the point of longevity were just to enable us to live on Earth a few extra years, then life would not be very meaningful; we would simply drag our useless bodies around like old dogs, right up until our last second in this world. In Japan I have seen many elderly people leading very lonely lives. That country is known to have a relatively long-lived population, but when I see that sort of longevity, it makes me very sad. Simply being able to live for many years is not enough; you also need wealth—but this does not refer to financial wealth. Rather, it comprises things that benefit us besides longevity—for example, having food to eat, clothes to wear, and a roof over our heads. Where does our wealth come from? It was produced by offerings we made and alms we gave in our past lives. Thus, any past lives in which we did not eat meat or take life, and during which we made offerings and gave alms, will have produced longevity and wealth. All of this combines to create the good fortune we enjoy in this lifetime.

“However, every second of every minute of every day, we are constantly using our good fortune. Once it runs out, it is gone. Good fortune is like money. For example, if you have saved up a hefty sum in the bank, then you might think you now have enough money to spend for the rest of this lifetime; thus, once you’ve used it all up, there won’t be any left. Of the myriad mundane methods out there, none of them can help us to accumulate longevity or wealth. You might point out that some people suddenly strike it rich, but their windfalls are actually the result of cultivation done in their past lives.

“Today I’ll mainly be talking about longevity. What is longevity used for? Why is the Amitayus Ritual practiced in Tibet? There are two reasons: First of all, it is because from the time sentient beings arrive on this Earth, their lives get continuously shortened. Therefore, our hope is for them to have enough time to practice Buddhism so that they can become liberated from life and death. If they run out of time, then no matter how great their aspirations or how diligently they practice, all will be for naught. Performing the Amitayus Ritual is for the benefits of practitioners. If you are not a practitioner, then why would you cultivate the Amitayus? In the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows there is mention of the Demon King of Master-Exhaust; if, in this lifetime, you eat meat, steal money, kill, enjoy telling lies, are otherwise dishonest, break the Five Precepts, do not carry out the Ten Meritorious Acts, and so on, then the Demon King of Master-Exhaust will send over his servants to drain you of your longevity. After all, if you like eating meat and killing so much, then why should you be allowed to live for such a long time?

“Of course, there are those who would argue that some meat-eaters live until they are ninety or even a hundred years old; but do you really want that sort of life? When you’re over a hundred, you’ll just sit there like a lump of clay, unable to walk or to do anything for yourself. If no one is around to wait on you, then you’ll be more helpless than a child. Therefore, that sort of longevity won’t do you any good. Why is special mention made in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows of the Demon King of Master-Exhaust? It is because we have all made friends with him in this lifetime. Many people think eating meat doesn’t have such serious consequences, but it is written very clearly in that sutra that Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s mother spent a lifetime not believing in cause and effect. She loved to eat the flesh of sentient beings, especially seafood. Back then the word ‘seafood’ did not exist, so the phrase used in the sutra was ‘fish and bie.’ The word ‘bie’ did not literally refer to ‘freshwater softshell turtles,’ as it means in Chinese, because those did not used to live in India; there were, however, tortoises. But the ‘bie’ mentioned in the sutra were actually crustaceans such as crabs and shrimp. For example, people in Japan like to eat fish roe, which they call ‘mentaiko.’ It is spelled out very clearly in in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows that eating this sort of food can cause even someone like Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s own mother to go to hell after dying. Even so, people continue to doubt.

“Many people worship Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha without believing him; they think he was just telling stories, and that these sorts of things could never happen to them. It is therefore written very clearly in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows that not believing in cause and effect leads to false life, and is a false view that is very likely to send a person to hell after death. Many people might not think hell is anything to worry about right now; their attitude is to just wait and see what happens, and for the time being to do what is most important to them: To eat anything they can to satisfy their epicurean desires. If you are bound for hell, then before you die you will suffer greatly, and this includes the various sorts of pain produced by medical treatment. A little while ago, while sharing her story before the puja began, that disciple mentioned that her father had cancer. No one with cancer dies a painless death. Why does cancer cause you to suffer? It is because its goal is to send you to hell. If you are in peace, it means you are not bound for hell, for your karmic creditors will not have come to pester you.

“Those people who eat meat in this lifetime lose a bit of longevity for each piece of flesh they consume. Once all of their longevity is gone, they pass away. Many people see themselves as being quite healthy, so they don’t believe they will die from eating crabs and shrimp. Today in the news there was a story about some cancer research done in America which revealed that cancer cells are not hereditary; rather, the cells mutate suddenly. It was added later in the report that all people who get cancer are those with bad luck. In Buddhist terms, getting cancer means you’ve used up just about all of your good fortune; the fish, shrimp, crabs, and so on that you have consumed are now stronger than you, so they take their revenge from within your body. The part of that theory that mentions the sudden mutation of cells conforms to something I have often pointed out: Where do the nutrients from the seafood you eat go? They go straight into your cells. Other than some deep sea fish, which have a chance of living for several decades, the shrimp and so on that you are consuming have a lifespan of only a few months. There are not very many fish that can live for a decade or two. Will you live a long time by eating animals that originally had such short lifespans? Of course not.

“Animals on Earth that are vegetarians grow to be relatively large. Now I know why you all eat meat; it’s because you don’t want to get big and fat! One of my disciples had a husband who passed away. At a glance, his physiognomy revealed that he had especially large earlobes and a very full lower facial division. After reading his facial features, it seemed impossible for him to die young. He was in the tourism industry, however, and drank alcohol and consumed seafood every day, only eating the crème de la crème. In the end he died from liver cancer at around the age of fifty. The first time he met me he still did not believe in cause and effect, and thought nothing like that could ever happen to him. Going by his large earlobes and plump lower facial division, everyone had assumed he would continue in his career until he was old and gray. Despite this, he had killed sentient beings by eating their flesh, and had therefore burned through his good fortune very rapidly. His alcohol consumption and smoking had burned through even more. No one ever believed that he would get liver cancer and die so suddenly.

“With my physiognomy, I should have died before I was fifty. Back when I was growing up in Hong Kong, I ate fresh seafood for every meal—especially crab and shrimp. Even after peeling shrimp for so many years, not once did I ever prick my hand on one. Because I ate too much seafood when I was younger, in the summers I always got blisters in my joints, and they would itch. This was a result of my liver and spleen having been poisoned by the seafood. Some people think they are fine because their skin still appears healthy, but that’s even worse, because it can become inflamed. For women this inflammation can occur in the uterus, an organ whose purposes include ridding the body of unwanted material. After those poisons accumulate there over a long period of time, they can cause myomas to form; if the person continues to eat such foods, these can turn cancerous.

“Everyone is afraid of death, but no one listens. What happens to men if they eat too much seafood? They can get liver cancer or colorectal cancer. The reason I am performing the Amitayus Ritual today is not to extend your lives for you; all I’m doing for those of you who do not practice Buddhism is telling the Demon King of Master-Exhaust to hold off on taking away your longevity. As for those of you genuinely engaged in cultivation, and who do not have sufficient longevity, the Amitayus can bestow blessings so that you can live long enough in this lifetime to attain the state of being able to benefit yourselves and others. If you have already made a vow and promised never to commit evil again, then all ghosts and deities will of course go away and leave you alone. Don’t think that just because you saw a ghost it means it was coming for you; if one were to invade your body, you would not even feel it. If you eat too much seafood, then of course ghosts will come near you. Whether this is a good thing or not is not to be commented here, but birds of a feather do flock together, after all.

“Do ghosts have happy lives? Of course not. Like attracts like, so if they approach you, it’s your own fault. Normally it would be fine to just chant mantras to perform today’s Amitayus Ritual, but this Dharma text is rather special. At the end is ”complementary assimilation” which many Rinpoches do not perform because it includes a very dangerous action. This assimilation comes from the fact that the Rinpoche performing the Dharma must visualize himself or herself as being no different from the yidam. Then the yidam transfers the essences of earth, wind, water, and fire to you so that you can practice Buddhism in this lifetime. Thus, if the practitioner performing the Dharma is not attuned with the yidam, then he or she would need to give of his or her own essences to sentient beings. In Tibetan Buddhism there is a Dharma method that involves swapping essences with someone else. The benefits you receive from this are not money, nor are they simply an encouraging word or two; they really can help you to achieve your goals.

“Since the establishment of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, I have acted in accordance with a certain sentence in the Amitayus Dharma text: To keep you from suffering an untimely death—in other words, to prevent you from dying when it isn’t your time. For example, if you have an accident or meet with a disaster, and you still have some longevity left, then the Amitayus will keep you from dying during your mishap. This includes death resulting from medical treatment. A little while ago that disciple mentioned her Auntie. Because she possessed good fortune from making offerings, she naturally experienced a manifestation of the protection through my Dharma appearance; otherwise she would have died during surgery. In every hospital’s operating room there are blood-sucking ghosts. As long as you have eaten meat or killed in this lifetime, your chances of meeting them are very high. Many people point out that a lot of patients don’t actually die in the operating room, but even if they don’t, they will come out of there with a lot of complications from surgery such as a wound that just won’t heal, a fever, or the wound has moved to other parts of the body. Many of these problems were caused by blood-sucking ghosts while the patients were still in the operating room.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked a disciple who was a surgeon, “What is an operating room like?” The surgeon-disciple answered, “An operating room is like a pork stall at the market or a slaughterhouse.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, “Being able to enter an operating room means you have very heavy karma from killing, so you’ll get cut up a little in this lifetime as a result. In simpler terms, if you repent in this lifetime for the karma you have accumulated from killing throughout your past lives, and if you stop committing evil, then destiny will not land you in the operating room.” The surgeon-disciple said, “Everything described so vividly in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows as existing in hell exists in the operating room, too, including every last one of those terrifying tools. Any tool of torture you might imagine, you can see it in the operating room.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued. “Many people think patients who are anesthetized before having an operation don’t feel anything, but they actually do. In this surgeon-disciple’s experience, about three or four out of every ten patients say they felt pain during surgery.” The surgeon-disciple said, “This is indeed the case. Some patients say they were very aware during their surgical procedures. Surgeons and anesthetists tend to doubt the validity of this, but the patients are able to clearly recount details of their operations as well as how long they took, even though they actually looked like they were asleep at the time.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued. “What this means is that the anesthetist simply dulls the patient’s nerves, but cannot put his or her consciousness to sleep. Our conscious minds are very aware. Many people think you can only go to hell after you die, but if you can clearly feel the entire operating procedure, won’t you be afraid? Those of you who haven’t taken refuge go ahead and keep eating meat, and see what happens! You’re sure to end up in the operating room someday. You don’t have to wait until you die to suffer; you’ll be in more than enough pain after surgery.” The surgeon-disciple said, “This is true. Some people seem, before surgery, very sure it will be smooth, and their doctors feel very confident too that everything will go okay during the operation. However, the real agony starts afterward; it can include pain from the wound, inflammation, and all sorts of complications that prior to surgery no one would ever have dreamed of happening.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued. “What is the cause of your inflammation? It is the ghosts that begin to pester you in the operating room. Many people who come to implore me for blessings say they are going to have an operation. I always say, ‘Okay, and you hope you won’t die in the operating room, right?’ They always answer, ‘Yes.’ I always agree to protect them during surgery, but I take no responsibility for what might happen afterward. Strangely enough, they do indeed survive their operations, and their wounds heal a bit more quickly than they normally would have. However, my blessings cannot prevent any complications from arising, because they simply implored not to die in the operating room. People are ignorant. That disciple’s Auntie made offerings and prostrations to the Buddha for forty years, yet her karmic creditors are still right there by her side. Why? It is because she does not have a meritorious guru to liberate them for her. Your karmic creditors cannot leave, because they have not received any benefits. You all think you will be fine as long as you implore for protection and blessings, and that if you recite the sutras your karmic creditors are sure to leave. You are wrong.

“Before I perform the Amitayus Ritual, I first need to remind you that if you continue to eat meat, then participating in today’s puja will be of no use to you other than to help you form a connection with Amitayus in a future lifetime. You still will be at risk of having to go to the operating room in this one, and any wounds produced during surgery will hurt. We don’t need to talk about major operations; when your hand is accidently cut a little bit, within a few days it will still begin to cause you some degree of discomfort. That being the case, how much pain do you think you’ll feel if surgeons saw here, cut there, and chop at that? If that is what you hope, then I have nothing more to say. Why is the surgical business thriving more and more these days? And why are there fewer and fewer doctors of internal medicine? It is because sentient beings are killing more and more, and accumulating very heavy karma as a result. These days many hospital doctors do not receive a base salary, so their income depends on how many operations they perform. If they don’t do any surgery, they make no money. Thus, if you aren’t careful, you could end up in this kind of hospital: You’ll go there in the afternoon, and they’ll put you under the knife that same evening.

“I used to have an employee who one day looked very troubled. When I asked her what was wrong, she told me she had gone to see a family doctor after feeling some physical discomfort, and that the doctor had ended up sending her over to a famous gynecologist. To her surprise, the gynecologist had informed her that she would have to have her uterus removed immediately. I thought that this probably wasn’t necessary, and that she might just have an ordinary physiological problem, so I advised her to get a second opinion. After she went to a different hospital, an examination done there revealed that she was fine. If she hadn’t bumped into me that day, her uterus would have been cut out. Now she’s left my company, though, and I could only save her once. I couldn’t save her a second time, because she did not possess the causal condition for that.

“I’m not performing the Amitayus Ritual for you today so that you can live forever; I simply hope to give you another chance at having enough time in this lifetime to change the causes that would send you to hell and make you reincarnate. This is the only way in which performing the Dharma will be of any use to you; otherwise, no matter how much I chant for you, it will merely help you to form an affinity with the yidam. None of you should think that just because you eat vegetarian it means you definitely will not end up in an intensive care unit; you can only avoid that fate if you have been completely respectful toward the Three Jewels and your guru. If you have had surgery, it will be very difficult for you to learn Tantra, because you will certainly have some hindrances. Thus, Achi is very compassionate to have sent me some surgeon-disciples and had them describe to you all how an operating room is a lot like a slaughterhouse; most of its victims end up getting slaughtered.

“Many people think surgery can cure them of their conditions or illnesses. This might not actually be true; instead, surgery might simply be the result of a karmic seed coming to fruition, and which could send you to hell. After your operation, if you continue not to repent and practice Buddhism with diligence, then you are sure to face the karmic retribution of going to hell. You all have family members who have undergone surgery. When things didn’t go well after the operation, they either take their resentment out on the doctor or on their family, right? Surgeons have heard of this sort of thing happening a lot. According to the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, this attitude of resentment and hatred very likely can cause a person to go to hell. Many people think that’s not a big deal, and that they will cross that bridge if and when they come to it; they think if they go to hell, then Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha will rescue them. However, you need to read the sutra in detail to see whether or not anything is actually written about that.

“It is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows that we must not create these causes, and it mentions how the family members of a person unfortunate enough to meet with such a fate should help the deceased. However, in Taiwan these days, people never really help their family members. According to what is written in this sutra, a dying person’s family members should sell his or her home, give a large donation to charity, and make a major offering in order to accumulate enough good fortune for the soon-to-be-deceased. Nowadays if you were to tell your sick loved one that you were planning to sell the house and make an offering with the proceeds, he or she would leap out of the hospital bed and beat you silly. Thus, no matter what the Buddha said makes no difference, because none of you listens. You think paying a monastic a few tens of thousands of NT dollars to come and chant awhile is enough to enable the deceased to go to the Pure Land. If you won’t even believe what is written in the sutras, then why are you still practicing Buddhism? You really don’t need to anymore. If you are going to keep straying from the sutras and imploring the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in accordance with your own personal views, then you might as well just stop.

“This is written very clearly in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows. You should all practice in the ways described in the sutra, but you just won’t listen. Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha had already said it; worried that no one would listen, Shakyamuni Buddha sent Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, to help Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha. Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara and Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha are very good friends, because Shakyamuni Buddha told them to be. Therefore, anyone who practices the Avalokiteshvara Dharma method will definitely practice the Ksitigarbha Dharma method as well, and vice versa. Thus, if you are cultivating the Ksitigarbha Dharma method, don’t think there are differences between you and someone who is cultivating the Avalokiteshvara, because their connection is clearly spelled out in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows. Why are you so dead-set on differentiating yourselves? It is because you have discriminating minds. If Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha were not immensely compassionate, then how could he do what he set out to do? In the end, both Dharma methods of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha and Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara are for sentient beings to go to Amitabha Buddha’s Pure Land.

“Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha made a rather profound vow. His biggest fear was that sentient beings would end up in hell, because unlike your idea that you’d only spend eighteen years there and then come out just fine, as the saying goes, the minimum time one spends in hell is a thousand years in human time. Some would refute that, pointing out this planet’s enormous population—seven billion—and asking where all these people came from. They have all returned from the Six Realms. Do the things people do these days make them worthy of being called ‘human?’ Three months ago some people in a country that adheres to another religion went to take revenge, and ended up killing more than a hundred young children. Was that action humane? These people have all come back here from the Six Realms. According to the Buddha, there are more sentient beings in hell than there are snowflakes in a snowstorm—more than even the Buddha can count.

“That today you had the good fortune to come here and participate in this puja is absolutely not because you were acquainted with me, nor is it because you needed protection and blessings. Rather, your presence here today is a result of the contact you’ve had with Buddhism throughout your past lives, and it also has to do with your karmic creditors. The Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center is special in that although it propagates Tibetan Buddhism, it does so with Exoteric Buddhism as a foundation. Other locations do not speak of Exoteric sutras; even those that do tend to invite Exoteric Dharma masters in to give lectures about them. As it so happens, however, I myself have recited and practiced the sutras, so of course I will teach you what I have learned from them. If I did not practice according to the sutras, I would make mistakes—and this is true of any practitioner, whether reincarnated as a practitioner, a tulku, or not.

“Actually, we are all reincarnated. Who isn’t? If we weren’t, then we wouldn’t be here. Thus, don’t get all superstitious about someone being a tulku; it simply depends on what you do in this lifetime. Only if your actions come close to what is written in the sutras can you be considered a Buddhist practitioner. The sutras were all written in the vernacular, in fact. They were written in the language of the Tang Dynasty; not some profoundly obscure tongue. The reason you might think them difficult to understand is that you are not yet prepared to act in accordance with their instructions. Once you do, however, you will be able to take one glance at the sutras and understand what they are telling you to do, and you will no longer make mistakes. If you are self-righteous and disregard Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings, then whether you claim to practice Exoteric Buddhism or Tantra, you will not actually be practicing the Dharma. Even Tantra was all spoken by Shakyamuni Buddha and the other Buddhas; it wasn’t invented by someone, nor does it belong to a particular sect or order. All of these teachings are essentially the same; there simply are different stages and paths along which they are practiced.

“If you understand what I am telling you today, then you will know what the significance of participating in the Amitayus Puja is. The Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, and the guru would never abandon a single sentient being. No matter how difficult one might be to liberate or save, the guru would never lose heart or give up. Even if that sentient being could not be saved in this lifetime, at the very least the guru would help him or her by planting a very profound causal seed. The reason I scold you is to ingrain a memory of me in your minds, because being a grown-up, you would certainly remember who has scolded you. Once you remember me, you will always stay connected.

“If I were to say what you want to hear, since you are already used to being flattered you would begin to grow self-righteous. If I scold you, on the other hand, you will wonder what you did wrong, or at the very least you will remember what I look like. If you do, you will have an affinity with the aspiration I instinctively formed after attaining the Anuttarayoga Tantra while in retreat with His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang: That any sentient being who sees my image, listens to my voice, and hears my name will be able to be liberated.

“Ever since I made this vow, Achi has to work hard following and taking care of you people every day. When you are in need, do I actually appear to help? I don’t think I am that powerful; however, Achi appears in my form, because if you were to see Achi’s appearance you would be terrified. Achi and I have a profound relationship. I wouldn’t say that we are one in the same, but at least I am attuned to Achi. The reason I am saying these things today is not to point out how remarkable I am, but to give evidence as to whether or not I can benefit sentient beings in accordance with what is written in the sutras.

“Toward the end of every year I always perform once the Amitayus Puja in the hope that during the following year nothing will happen that might cause you to suffer an untimely death. If you are mysteriously killed, you will not have enough time to practice Buddhism. Therefore, once you are blessed by the Amitayus, you must be even more vigilant against committing any evil acts, and your body, speech, and mind must remain pure. Even if you see something that looks absolutely delicious, you must not give in to your epicurean desires. Why will eating the flesh of sentient beings consume your wealth very quickly? It is because your wealth was originally obtained from pure offerings you made in the past, so if you use it to commit evil, it will be used up very quickly. In other words, your longevity will be consumed very quickly; it will not just stick around for you to enjoy. Many people think it is the Heavens that take your longevity away; actually, this is not true. Rather, it is the Demon King of Master-Exhaust that does this, as is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows.

“Thus, as you might observe, people who love eating seafood tend to fall into poverty in their old age. They might save up a nice chunk of change and think that what they’ve gotten their hands on will be enough for retirement; in addition, the government might even provide them with a retirement pension. They could think they are all set, but then by the time their golden years arrive, their funds have all mysteriously run dry. There are a lot of people like that in Japan, and it’s beginning to happen in Taiwan as well. As the Confucian saying goes, ‘the elderly are cared for’—but who will care for you? If you want your children and the government to take care of you, then you need good fortune. One thing that has always set me apart from others is that when I was young, I very seldom went out all over the place for fun. I have always acted according to my causal conditions, which is why I am still healthy enough in my old age to be able to serve sentient beings. Otherwise, I would long ago have lost my health and would not make it to this day. It’s unfortunate for you, too, that I still have so much strength at my age, because it means I’m still able to reprimand you.

“You must cherish the opportunity to attend this puja, because it is an Earth Terma. In the Dharma text the complete name is the ‘Amitayus Ritual of Immortal Longevity Bestowed by Mother Buddha Machig Drubpejema.’ Actually, if you practice this Dharma from an early age, your physical body will not perish; instead it will turn into five-colored light with which you can operate very freely throughout the universe. In the biographies of the Drikung Kagyu throne holders it is written that the twenty-third throne holder achieved an immortal body through cultivation on Mount Wutai. The elders of the Order all used to say that if you go there and very reverently recite the long-life prayer of the twenty-third throne holder, he will appear and would sometimes ask who the current throne holder is. These days, however, no one goes there to recite his long-life prayer anymore, and the knowledge of the precise location has been lost. This is what I’ve heard. Many of the younger generation of practitioners don’t know anything about this.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the auspicious Amitayus Ritual. First the ordained disciples offered the mandala and implored the Dharma from the guru on behalf of all sentient beings. Next, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to perform the Dharma, which included the Tsok and Tea-Offering rituals. Each of the attendees received a bag of offering items that had been blessed by the guru, as well as the rare and auspicious causal condition to share food during the puja with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

After performing the Dharma for a while, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche bestowed teachings in accordance with what is written in the Dharma text.

“Of utmost importance in one’s Buddhist practice is one’s causal origination, and whether it is virtuous or evil. If one practices for the sake of sentient beings, one’s causal origination will be virtuous; if one practices for oneself, it will be evil. I remember one time when His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang developed a minor ailment. Out of all of the Buddhist centers and lamas of the Drikung Kagyu Order, no one had taken the initiative to help His Holiness, so I led the disciples of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in a 24-hour continuous chanting of the Amitayus Mantra as an offering to His Holiness. That day some lamas of the Order were here participating, which is why there is an Amitayus Puja held later for His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang.

“Without this origin, then perhaps there would not have other similar pujas held afterward, because no one would have thought of it. Another way of putting it is, we must help sentient beings to establish affinities—that is, to reestablish their good fortune. At the time you all thought it seemed like I was forcing you to come back here and chant the mantra, which is why some of you did not take it very seriously. I was very aware of that. Whatever the case may be, the Amitayus pujas only began to be held in Nepal as a result of the example set by the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center when we conducted the Amitayus Ritual for His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. Without this beginning, I believe there would not have been much likelihood for the subsequent pujas to have been held. Thus, unless I leave this Earth, the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center will definitely hold pujas every Sunday. The importance of this lies in creating causal originations for sentient beings to practice Buddhism and continuously accumulate causal conditions. I don’t know when those causal conditions will come to fruition; not even the Buddha knows.

“If you do bad things such as eating meat, you will erode away your longevity. In the Dharma text it is written that being ‘scattered’ means an unstable longevity; for example, like falling ill but not being able to figure out why. ‘Breaking’ refers to shortening one’s lifespan, and ‘bending’ refers to having enough longevity so as not to grow unhealthy due to old age. Old age and health are two separate things; growing old does not necessarily mean you will become unhealthy. You will show signs of old age, but you might not have bad health—just take me as an example. This year is 2015, and I am sixty-eight years old. Those of you in your thirties and forties who have begun to develop high blood pressure or heart disease are manifesting that your longevity is bending; as such, you path has turned, and you are headed toward the Evil Realms. This includes having stomach tumors as well. ‘Splitting, shaking, swaying, and breaking’ means your longevity is splitting apart; indications of this include suffering a stroke or a sudden loss of consciousness. People who lie in the hospital for five or ten years are in just such a situation. ‘Stolen by demons and ghosts’ refers to our essences of earth, wind, water, and fire being stolen.

“The Buddha did not constantly urge us to eat vegetarian and refrain from killing for nothing. You think you can’t live without meat. I used to like eating meat, too, but now when I think about it, it disgusts me, because who would dare eat raw meat? Whenever you cook meat, you always add soy sauce or spices and so on. Thus, everyone eats seasoned meat. If you think meat tastes good, then see if you can stick a raw piece of it in your mouth and chew it for an entire minute before spitting it out. If you can still eat it after that, you’ve proved that you like eating meat. Go home and give it a shot! Why do people who eat fish have such bad body odor? It is because of all types of meat, fish goes off the quickest, so people who eat it literally stink.

“My uncle slaughtered fish for a living, and you could smell him coming from a mile off. As soon as I walked into his house, I would smell an indescribable stench permeating the whole place. He showered every day, though, so where did that smell come from? It was from the fish he handled. People who like eating beef smell like cows; those who like pork smell like swine; those who like chicken smell like chicken; those who like eating fish smell like fish; and those who love seafood smell like seafood. To a Buddhist practitioner, all of these people smell bad. So why do your essences get stolen by demons and ghosts? It is because you are of their kind—especially those of you who are constantly praying for blessings, protection, and so on—so they steal your longevity away from you. You think you should implore for blessings before you buy a lottery ticket, but even if they help you win it, you still won’t have any longevity. If those demons want to steal from you and you’re destined to have no wealth, what will you use to trade for winning the lottery? Your longevity. Thus, if you observe carefully, you will notice that some people who suddenly strike it rich will encounter mishaps mysteriously. Therefore, making money slowly is better.

“It is written in the Dharma text that we should implore for blessings from the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, the yidam, the Dakinis, and the Dharma protectors. We should pray that the combined force and essence of the longevity, fortune, wealth, fate, life, power, and qi of all sentient beings in the Six Realms could then enter the torma. If there are no earnest supplications of the guru, then no amount of chanting from you will be useful to you.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to perform the Dharma, descending the Dharma throne and using a Dharma instrument to personally bestow blessings upon the more than 1300 attendees. Meanwhile Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continuously chanted the Amitayus Mantra, his compassionate, boundless gaze fell upon all sentient beings. All of the attendees expressed their heartfelt gratitude by kneeling down and lowering their heads, palms together, to receive the auspicious blessings. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then returned to the Dharma throne and led the disciples in a performance of the Dharma Protector Achi ritual and dedication prayer. Upon their perfect completion, the guru continued to bestow teachings.

“I’ll say again that my reason for performing the Amitayus Ritual was not so that you could enjoy a long life or have time to finish all the things you want to do; the point of the Amitayus Ritual was to give you enough longevity to practice Buddhism in this lifetime. If you do not use it to practice, then even if I help you regain the longevity you originally should have had, that longevity will put you in a grave state of suffering, because you will not have any wealth. By ‘wealth’ I do not mean money; I refer to whether or not you have enough good fortune to enjoy your longevity. According to the sutras, how do people die? We die when our longevity and wealth run out. Another way we can die occurs even when we have both of these. You can all understand the former, but what about the latter? It happens when you have committed a lot of evil acts in this lifetime, and are therefore made to pass away before your time.

“Thus, people who make a living from killing or have once joined with other people in such a living will lose their longevity, unless they give rise to a great attitude of repentance; however, this can only happen if they completely rid their minds of any thoughts of killing. Another type of death comes from having longevity but not having any wealth, and vice versa. Longevity is part of good fortune; without it, you cannot do anything. However, if you benefit sentient beings, then how long you live isn’t important. If you implore for longevity on behalf of a group or an individual, or yourself in order to learn Buddhism, it won’t be very effective. Sooner or later in all of our lives there comes a day when we have used up all of our longevity. This happens whether we are ready to accept it or not, just like it did for that twenty-eight-year-old in the news the other day who passed away while singing a song.

“People who are genuinely practicing Buddhism do not worry about when they might die; they only worry about where they will go after death. Buddhist practitioners should worry about whether or not we can repay the debts we owe from our past lives before our time comes. Any Buddhist practitioner who still worries about his or her own mortality should realize that of course he or she will die; everyone dies, after all. Upon hearing that their parents’ health is failing, true Buddhist practitioners do not become nervous or afraid; they should try to make their parents come in contact with the Dharma as soon as possible. This is what being truly filially pious means. Our parents are bound to use up their longevity one day, just as are our other family members. For this reason, the Buddha constantly and earnestly urged everyone not to commit evil acts such as killing or eating meat, because if you have longevity but no wealth, you will not be able to enjoy it.

“For example, my mother is in her nineties this year. She has lost all her teeth, but she has longevity. If she did not have any good fortune, she would not have me, her son, to constantly care for her. My mother cultivated this good fortune in her past lives and in this one. If your parents have not done any good deeds in this lifetime—and morality, too, has many flaws—then your hopes that they will live happily to a ripe old age will come to naught. This is why you all send your parents to the hospital and nursing homes. Your own cultivation can be somewhat beneficial to your parents, but it cannot help them to become liberated from life and death. Nevertheless, it can help reduce their suffering to a minimum when they are elderly. Practicing Buddhism is not just done for the benefit of your own health; it is for all your familial affairs.

“Performing the Amitayus Ritual can help you all to plant seeds so that the Buddha’s Sambhogakaya will later come to receive you. Thus, if you are not a practitioner of Mahayana or Vajrayana Buddhism, then the Buddha’s Sambhogakaya will not come to receive you; rather, as is written in the Amitabha Sutra, the Buddha’s Nirmanakaya will come to receive you instead. This is of course better than nothing. The significance in my performing the Amitayus Ritual for you all today was much more profound than simply trying to help you accumulate more longevity. The Amitayus Dharma method is divided into the Kriyayoga, Charyayoga, Yogatantra, and Anuttarayogatantra. The Yogatantra and Anuttarayogatantra are not transmitted. Today I used all four of these Dharma methods, but you could not see that because your minds are not pure; as such, you naturally were blind to them.

“I performed the Amitayus Ritual for you today in the hope that you might accumulate enough longevity to practice Buddhism in this lifetime, and not die an untimely death. I am constantly urging you to go vegetarian not because the Buddha or I require it of you; I do so because if you keep eating meat, you are bound to suffer an accident at some point in the future. If we continuously accumulate evil karma, some people might say they don’t care, and that when the time comes they will find a doctor and get fixed back up. However, there is a limit to what doctors can cure, and they might merely be able to provide you with a bit of comfort so that you feel good about being treated.

“Thus, if you want to live a long time, be healthy, and have good fortune, then you really must begin by practicing Buddhism. Even if you have someone to take care of you, if you don’t listen and commit evil acts, then one day your good fortune will still all run out. Don’t think you’ll be able to achieve certain things just by having a life plan and saving up some money; as soon as an earthquake or other natural disaster occurs, your money will vanish like a puff of smoke. This has been especially true over the past few years, when all manner of troublesome things have happened. For us to be able to live in peace, we should be grateful for the Buddhas’ and Bodhisattvas’ care. However, we absolutely must make a firm resolution to act according to their teachings. We must stop harming sentient beings to satisfy our epicurean desires. If you think sentient beings were born to provide us with something to eat, then the fish you catch should just obediently die for you so that you can eat it. Why do fish always try to get away every time you catch them? Why do their tails always jitter back and forth as soon as you come down on them with a knife? It is because they are in pain and terrified! Taking a bite out of their flesh is the equivalent of a ghost sucking your blood. Thus, people who constantly eat meat will naturally go to the Hungry Ghost Realm.

“Some people would say, ‘Isn’t being ghosts very remarkable because they can shape-shift?’ If this were the case, then it would not have been written in the sutras that those cultivating the Bodhisattva Path must help sentient beings in the Hungry Ghost Realm. Ghosts suffer more than humans. It is difficult to be born into human form in this lifetime, but it is very easy to lose it. Being born as a human again in your next lifetime is easier said than done. If you do not make a firm resolve to learn Buddhism in this lifetime, then your opportunity will be gone in the blink of an eye. No matter how long you live in this lifetime, if your quality of life is no good, then staying alive really doesn’t mean anything. You’ll just be like an old dog dragging its body around, waiting to die. Thus, you must become determined. If you do not, then no matter how much the Buddhas and the Bodhisattvas exhort you, how powerful they are, and how many blessings they bestow on you, none of these will be of any use to you. It is written in the sutras that people who live in places that have a lot of earthquakes are arrogant and haughty; those who live where there are a lot of hurricanes do not believe in cause and effect; and those who live where there are a lot of floods are extremely greedy. Thus, this neighboring country of ours might appear to be economically developed, but it suffers frequent natural disasters, because its people have such heavy karma from killing.”

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

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Updated on June 17, 2019