His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – January 11, 2015

Before the puja began, an ordained disciple shared with all of the attendees her account of how auspiciously His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had performed the pujas in Pingtung on January 4th.

After finding out that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would be performing the pujas in Pingtung for two hundred thousand trees, deep down she had felt extremely moved. Back when she used to practice Exoteric Buddhism, they had merely chanted the Great Compassion Mantra over and over. By comparison, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had performed two major pujas: The Tantra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha and the Fire Offering. This was a result of the guru’s great, compassionate aspiration to help sentient beings leave their suffering behind.

On January 4th, she and her Dharma brothers had arrived in Zuoying at 8:00 in the morning. From there it had taken them about an hour and a half by bus to get to their destination, and most of the trip had been along bumpy mountain roads. These were not even paved; weeds had grown right up to the edges and even in the middle. On the bus she had joked, “Luckily I ate my fill, or else I’d be puking it all up!” Their journey truly had taken them deep into the heart of the mountains.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had presided over the Ksitigarbha Blessing Puja in Japan on December 28th, and soon afterward, on January 3rd, the guru had conducted the Amitayus Puja for believers and disciples in Taipei. The following day he had again set out to perform the Dharma deep in the mountains of Pingtung. Were it not for the guru’s great compassionate aspiration, how could he keep working so hard and endure such toil? The mind of an ordinary person really wouldn’t be able to comprehend this.

A little after 11:00, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had arrived at their destination. Everyone—even little dogs—had lined up to greet the guru. Although she’d missed the spectacular event that had taken place in New Zealand, in which a herd of cattle had lined up to welcome the guru, she had at least gotten to see these small dogs do the same. Without even stopping to take a sip of water, the guru had donned his Dharma vestments and gone straight in to inspect the mandala. Only after performing the Ksitigarbha Tantra had Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche finally paused to eat a simple meal, and the guru had performed the Fire Offering immediately afterward.

Worried that the mountain weather would start to change after 3:00 that afternoon, the landowner had prepared many items to protect the participants against the cold. Nevertheless, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had finished performing the Fire Offering before 3:00. In Exoteric Buddhism, Dharma masters tended to rest first or take a break for lunch before performing the Dharma, and everyone would line up in an extravagant ritual to welcome them as they ascended the Dharma throne. However, for the sake of sentient beings both tangible and formless, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had dispersed with all formalities. Neglecting his own comfort, he had only snacked on a simple, cold lunch, and had even been concerned about whether or not the disciples had eaten their fill. They had, actually—long before the guru had arrived.

After performing the Dharma, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had told the disciples that the puja held that day would benefit all sentient beings in that entire tract of land. Some of them would go to the Pure Land, while others would go to the Virtuous Realms. Even the tiniest of insects would benefit. Hearing this, the disciple truly was very grateful to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. The guru had gone on to inform the landowner that many people had died in the mountain ravine there in front of them. The landowner had not known anything about it, and had simply commented with great surprise, “How strange; it’s been blowing a gale, like in typhoon, for the past three days straight, and today the weather has suddenly turned all sunny and clear.”

The next day, she had told her mother of how His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had compassionately enabled so many sentient beings to be free of their suffering. Her mother had replied that she had heard when she was little that during the Japanese occupation, the invaders’ execution method was to take group after group of people up into mountain ravines and slaughtered them. Just then, the disciple had broken out in goose bumps, for had it not been for His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, those sentient beings in that mountain ravine would not have been liberated for thousands or even tens of thousands of years. Later, after doing some online research, she had found out that those sentient beings had been killed in the Mudan Incident, which Japanese forces had later used as an excuse to occupy Taiwan.

After the puja, the person who had implored for the Dharma to be performed had tried to make a monetary offering, but His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said mildly, “You are not my disciple, so I will not accept your offering.” This person had felt very moved, and kept saying that he planned to go to Taipei to take refuge. Prior to this he had not made any offerings; he had only said he would donate a piece of land to help build a retreat center, which His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had declined. The guru had paid for this puja entirely out of his own pocket, and his only purpose was to benefit all sentient beings.

That day, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had worn the Dharma vestments bestowed by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. From head to waist, to the skirt and even the upper and lower sleeves, the entire garb was completely ornamented with bone. Although it had an extremely stately appearance, it was also very heavy. At the same time, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had also needed to hold the Dharma instruments and distribute the offering items involved in the Fire Offering over and over. Nevertheless, the guru had done all this without complaint or regard to his own lack of comfort. That day His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had performed the Dharma at a very quick pace, picking up offering items more than seven hundred times. The disciple asked everyone to think about how tired their arms would feel if they had to hold, one at a time, that many plastic bottles.

During the midday meal, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had asked them whether any Exoteric Dharma masters would bother to go so far into the mountains to perform the Dharma. They had answered that that would be practically impossible. In Exoteric Buddhism, Dharma masters always perform the Dharma in the temple and have their believers come to them; they would not take the trouble to trek to such a remote mountain area. Sighing, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said that if that were the case, then they had genuinely lost an opportunity to cultivate good fortune. She had wondered, given that there were so many sentient beings deep in the mountains in dire need of the Dharma, how the benefits obtained from performing it in a temple could possibly compare with those produced by the Dharma performed in a place like this. If people constantly worried that Dharma masters’ basic daily needs would not be met, that too much money would be needed to spend on the necessary supplies, and that the more formless sentient beings attended the puja, the more energy the presiding Dharma masters would have to expend, then no one would want to take the trouble to journey to the mountains to perform the Dharma without any recompense. This was the very reason that those spirits of the deceased had had no one to liberate them for over a century. That a person from Mainland China had traveled all the way from Pingtung to Taipei to implore a meritorious Mahasiddha to perform the Dharma, she believed it must be the case that these sentient beings had sought him out themselves.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had also told the landowner that the Dharmas he had performed that day included elements from both Exoteric Buddhism and Tantra, and that the ashes left over from the Fire Offering could be used for a very wide variety of things. If they were sprinkled on crops, then they would act as a sort of pest-deterrent, reducing the number of sentient beings by a great deal; if they were painted onto house’s beams, then no formless sentient beings would come inside to bother anyone. However, one’s mind must certainly be in the right place for these methods to be effective; one must have an attitude of compassion, not of simply wanting to drive sentient beings away.

Finally, she asked everyone to think about the fact that the ashes left over from the Fire Offering were non-sentient, but that they could benefit all sentient beings. “Furthermore we, as perceptive sentient beings, are incredibly lucky to have been able to encounter a great Bodhisattva walking among us, speaking the Buddha’s Right Dharma. How can we live with ourselves if we do not grasp this good fortune and devote ourselves to our Buddhist practice?”

Next, a Mainland Chinese disciple from Beijing shared with the attendees an account of how His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had helped him. He was extremely grateful to the guru and Dharma Protector Achi for having given him this opportunity to tell everyone about his experiences. He had met His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for the first time in July of last year, and his first impression had been of a very handsome and knowledgeable person. Everything Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said to him had led him to believe that the guru was speaking about others’ experiences. He had not, however, felt that His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was actually a guru or a Living Buddha or a Rinpoche, because at the time, the disciple had absolutely not believed in any of those things.

Since the disciple was a child he had always worshipped, and had a great deal of faith in, the Buddha, and would make prostrations whenever he was at a temple or anywhere else with a Buddha statue. However, he had not known what the real Buddha was. He had thought everyone’s impression of the Buddha should be of an extremely distant entity, from thousands or tens of thousands of years ago, and that people who made prostrations to the Buddha these days were just placing their spiritual hopes in the Buddha or engaging in simple prayer for blessings. Thus, after someone told him that His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was an actual Living Buddha and a Rinpoche, he’d had a hard time taking anything the guru said seriously. In the disciple’s view, people—especially adults—tended to be extremely bad listeners. After growing up, finishing university, and setting foot into society, how could anyone believe yet another teacher? What did he think who he was giving us these teachings?

He had taken refuge at the Taipei Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center on October 12th of last year. Over the next two months, he’d felt a huge change take place within himself. During this time, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had completely transformed his life and his mind by teaching him what it really meant to be human. Thus, he now was more than willing to listen to everything the guru had to say.

Most recently, because he had not wanted to miss a single word spoken by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the disciple had been flying to Taiwan just about every Friday and then taking the earliest flight back each Monday morning. At first he’d thought Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had only been speaking about others’ experiences, but later he had discovered that this was not true at all; everything the guru had described was real, and had happened to him personally.

He had followed other Rinpoches before, and had taken refuge in an extremely famous one. Because the disciple had worked in the entertainment industry, he’d taken refuge in the same Rinpoche as so many celebrities had. However, when he and a friend had gone to participate in one of that Rinpoche’s pujas, that Buddhist center’s attendees had come and gone in a very casual manner. The disciple had left after only having listened for twenty minutes because he could not understand anything the Rinpoche was saying, and everyone had just been kneeling there, praying for blessings. The Rinpoche had neither handed out Dharma texts nor taught them to recite any sutras; he had not even expounded any Buddhist principles. Only the monks and Tibetans present had recited along with the Rinpoche, and for some reason he had not even given a copy to the lay practitioners.

The disciple had felt very bored at the time, and the proceedings within that Buddhist center had been very chaotic. All sorts of people were constantly coming and going; he had stayed for twenty minutes and then left. However, as soon as he had walked into the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, he had learned just what it meant to be orderly, as well as how one should show respect for the Buddha. This had especially been true of the trip he had taken to the Buddhist Center in Japan last year to participate in the puja held there. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had spent all day talking to everyone about the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, and the disciple had deeply cherished such a rare and precious opportunity.

In Hong Kong he’d come across a very well-known master of fengshui. The man had merely been a fengshui master, though; he had not actually attained any fruition. This fengshui master had been extremely rich, and every year during the Spring Festival, he would hold an event similar to a puja at his own private Buddhist center on Lantau Island. Each year he would speak to everyone about the sutras, and the disciple had always registered to participate. The fengshui master would charge RMB 60,000 a head for people to listen to him speak about the sutras all day long for five to seven days straight. Moreover, they’d all had to line up to learn anything from him. During the puja held in Japan last year, however, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had not charged anyone a single cent; the guru had even refused to accept any offerings. This had surprised the disciple to no end. In addition, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had taught all day and led everyone in recitation of the sutra for free.

Every time the disciple came here he would always tell his Dharma brothers how lucky they were, and now his biggest wish was for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to go to Beijing. There were an enormous number of believers in that city, and the disciple had constantly hoped and implored Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche that he would be able to go there and speak to them one day. The disciple had had no real understanding of Buddhism, but his reason for choosing to take refuge in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was that the guru was one of the best teachers he’d ever had. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche spoke of the Dharma using the plainest words possible without confusing everybody with a bunch of abstruse stuff.

He felt that at the very least, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s words had struck a chord deep within him. Last year, right when the disciple was going through a really hard time, the guru had saved his life. In November, the disciple’s company had undergone a major reshuffling of its personnel. Someone in whom the disciple had placed the utmost trust had backstabbed him, and even more than that, he had faced a relationship break-up. In the midst of these crises he had suddenly decided to fly to New Zealand alone in order to escape and quiet down. When bad things happened to him, he did not want anyone to be with him. As he was about to board the plane to New Zealand, however, he had thought of some especially negative outcomes that might happen if things did not go right for him once he got there. If this were the case he really had no intention to return home. He’d imagined the worst, because he cared most about love—not profit—and he had been on more intimate terms with the person who had hurt him than even with his parents, and that person had also been his closest partner at work.

At the time he had not reported his situation to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Many of his friends had been giving him advice, and he was able to listen to them, but he simply hadn’t been able to untie the knot in his heart. Before boarding the plane, he had suddenly received a phone call from a Dharma brother asking him whether he would be able to go to Taipei to participate in the Chod Puja that coming Sunday. Normally he would have, especially given that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said it would be a Chod Puja and because that Dharma brother had been specifically calling about it, but that time he had answered, “Sorry, no; I’m already at the airport with a boarding pass and about to hop a plane to New Zealand.”

After that he had boarded the plane. Later, during the flight, he had fallen asleep. At around 2:30 in the morning Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had suddenly appeared before him, surrounded by a rainbow. The disciple had stressed that this was really happening; it was not a dream. He had once heard that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was most adept at performing the Phowa, and was able to perform it from afar. However, he had not known just how skilled the guru actually was, and had always assumed those stories were exaggerated. The disciple had felt that these things were very far away, and had wondered how they could be possible. This had caused him to feel a deep-seated doubt. However, now they had actually happened to him.

This had happened at 2:30 in the morning, but a very distinct rainbow had appeared right in front of him. He had thought to himself, I’m on an airplane, am I not? Am I dreaming? How can there be a rainbow here? Right then, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had materialized before him in very solid, three-dimensional form. He had wondered, Is this real? Or is it a hallucination? However, he had momentarily forgotten where he was, and had struggled to wake up. No matter how he tried, though, he had not been able to. Later, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had reappeared in front of him, and this time had begun to chant a mantra. At once the disciple’s body had spun around like a turbine, but had anyone asked him at the time if he was scared, he would have replied that he was not. He had instead felt quite willing to submit to this wave of force.

He had once heard Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche say that when you are on your deathbed and a bunch of karmic creditors have come to take you away, you must not go with them; you should follow your guru instead. The disciple had never really understood this, because the person he’d loved the most had been his grandmother, and she had passed away. Deep down he had known that if she and a Rinpoche were to suddenly appear before him, his deep fondness for his grandmother would definitely make him choose to go with her. He felt that this was a very plausible scenario, and thinking about it had caused him to doubt in the past. However, when Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had suddenly appeared in front of him, the disciple really had abandoned all else. In that moment his only thought had been to follow the guru, and he’d even wished for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to spin him around in circles a little bit faster.

While he was spinning around, thoughts of things he’d failed to accomplish in his career had flitted through his mind. He had then continued spinning for a whole minute before finally stopping. After opening his eyes, he had felt quite lucid for a brief moment, but had then lost consciousness immediately. After the second ray of light had appeared and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had begun to chant the mantra, the disciple’s ears had been filled with the sound of the guru’s voice. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had continued to make him spin around, only this time he was spinning ten or twenty times more quickly than before. He had spun faster and faster until he called out, “Give me strength! Give me strength! Give me strength!” He had yelled this while all of the passengers were sleeping, so a flight attendant had approached and asked, “What’s the matter?” Right then he had woken up. If it had merely been a normal dream, he would not have sweated so profusely; however, his entire body had been drenched. In addition, though he’d been suffering from rhinitis, upon waking up his nasal passage had been completely clear.

He had sat up and told the flight attendant that he was fine. Then he had begun to cry, because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had genuinely given him a chance to arouse a repentant mind, and he believed that the strength the guru had granted him was more important and stronger than anything else he had ever experienced. As a result, in that instant he had known that all the things that had happened to him from day to day were but trivial matters—and he had gained an appreciation of what it truly meant to be human. Thus, after disembarking, he had happily set out on a trek around New Zealand, feeling completely relaxed and enjoying every moment to the fullest.

Another, even more wonderful, thing had occurred while he was in New Zealand. Though physically he had not a particularly strong heart he had asked his Dharma brothers what they thought about him trying the most exciting activity there was to do in that country: Skydiving. His reasoning had been that after experiencing that sort of thing on the airplane skydiving might help him relax. While everyone was giving him advice not to do it, he had even asked, “If you get a chance, would you please ask Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche his opinion? If I do this, I should be fine… right?” A Dharma brother had told him, “Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche says he doesn’t want to pay any attention to you.” Assuming that this was the guru’s way of giving tacit approval, an indication that he’d be fine after he jumped, the disciple had decided that with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche behind him he could not die. So, he had gone ahead with his plan.

He and a friend had driven two hours to a skydiving location. When they got there it had begun to rain and turn foggy, so the instructor had told them that they would need to wait a couple more hours. This was New Zealand’s most conventional tourist attraction, and there the weather tended to only take two hours or so to clear up. Thus, he and his friend had passed the time by entertaining themselves in the vicinity. After a while they had been told that they’d have to wait yet another couple of hours, but that they should be able to go ahead and skydive by noon. At midday it was still foggy, and a little after one o’clock it had started to rain cats and dogs. By three o’clock in the afternoon the instructors had declared that there would not be any skydiving that day. Celebrating the fact that this was the first time such a thing had happened in four or five months, they had begun to hand out alcohol and other drink for everyone. It had been just his luck, or lack thereof; to make matters worse, he had to fly out the very next day. In the end, the disciple had not gotten to do any skydiving.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had protected him from many dangerous things such as this; at some point in the future the disciple would take the time to share his many experiences with everyone. Now he just wanted to be a very obedient disciple and completely do as he was told by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, because in life, especially as an adult, it was very difficult to encounter a good teacher such as the guru. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had taught him about the Buddha, and allowed him to understand more fully that the Buddha was with him. As long as the disciples had Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche on their side, the Buddha would be, too. The guru goes to so much trouble, and is relentless in his efforts that the disciple feels much concerned about his wellbeing. The guru is constantly giving to his disciples without asking for anything in return. This really was not easy at all, so the disciple hoped that everyone would cherish this opportunity of learning Buddhism and that all his Dharma brothers at the Buddhist Center would keep it up and work hard to avoid doing anything that might cause Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to scold them.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne to preside over the Green Tara Puja, and bestowed precious Dharma teachings upon the attendees.

“Today I will perform the Four Mandala Offering Ritual of the Green Tara. It is written in the sutras that after seeing all the sentient beings still suffering in the void and the Dharma Realm, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara was so moved by compassion that she let fall a pair of tears. One of these transformed into the White Tara, the other into the Green Tara. The Green Tara is not a yidam in Exoteric Buddhism, but basically it can help people who wish to learn and practice Buddhism by resolving all sorts of worldly hindrances for them. Thus, it is written in the Dharma text that in order to master the Green Tara one must observe the purifying precepts, perform an ablution, eat no meat, drink no alcohol, and—most importantly—become determined to renounce reincarnation. Thus, if you simply implore for protection, blessings, or anything else without having the will to renounce reincarnation, you will merely obtain a little bit of good fortune of the Human and Heaven Realms. Furthermore, you must develop the Bodhicitta. It is very difficult to give you a clear picture of what the Bodhicitta is using just a few short sentences, but the most important thing about it is that you do not cultivate it for yourself; you cultivate it on behalf of all sentient beings.

“Back when I was practicing Exoteric Buddhism, the temple I attended would hold a recitation of the Sutra of Golden Light every year on the ninth day of the first month of Chinese calendar. At the time I was a secondary benefactor; the major benefactor was the wife of a senior government official, and had been placed in that position at the last moment. After the Dharma master finished making an incense offering, it was benefactors’ turn. Before going up there I suddenly came up with the idea of making an offering of everything I had practiced that day to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and then dedicating it to all sentient beings. No one had ever taught me to do this before; the thought came to me naturally. Then, I went up and offered the incense.

“The ritual of worshipping the lord of Heaven is done outside; the lord of Heaven is the Jade Emperor. That day, after we’d offered all the incense, a Bhikkhuni showed me the photographs she’d been taking of everyone from behind the mandala. She had been snapping photos over and over; by the time I had walked up from where I’d been standing among the believers and offered the incense, she had taken a total of four pictures of me. As it turned out, an unknown phenomenon had appeared in the photos: They showed a white hand-like shape, stretching from between the Buddhist statues of the mandala all the way over to touch my heart. This shape appeared in all four images. When I showed the photographs to the Dharma master, he told me not to show them to anyone else, so I obediently hid them away. Now I pretty much understand why I shouldn’t let anyone else see them.

“As long as you have developed the Bodhicitta, all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will know, and will bestow blessings upon you. However, you cannot develop the Bodhicitta just by deliberately thinking about it with the intention of obtaining blessings from the Bodhisattvas; it is something that is revealed to you naturally. The reason I teach you to keep the precepts, do good deeds, and so on is to train you to bring the Bodhicitta into being. This is why, at the end of each puja, you always recite a prayer imploring the guru to help you to develop the Bodhicitta. If you have already done so, then the prayer helps you to maintain it. In the sutra the word ‘regression’ is mentioned. Many people think this means when they haven’t recently recited the sutras or made prostrations to the Buddha, but that’s just being slack. Regression does not refer to you ordinary folk; it refers to the fact that there is always a chance that the Bodhicitta—the awakened intention to benefit sentient beings—developed by Bodhisattvas of the First through the Eighth Grounds might regress. The precept against such regression is the greatest of all the precepts of the Bodhisattva Path. You are not qualified to talk about regression, nor is it mentioned in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows. That sutra just talks about slacking off. The ancients were quite adept at choosing the right characters for the right words. Thus, if you keep on saying you’ve ‘regressed,’ you are full of nonsense. If you haven’t even achieved attainment as a Bodhisattva of First Ground, how can you say you have regressed? You’re just being slack; it’s as simple as that. In modern lingo, you’re just a bunch of lazy bones. Laziness is laziness; it’s not the same thing as regression.

“Regression is what those who practice the Bodhisattva Path fear the most. However, it is not the same as laziness; regression is what happens to practitioners after seeing that so many sentient beings still haven’t been liberated and still won’t listen, despite years of cultivation to help them do so. As a result, some practitioners begin to practice for themselves; this is regression. Why did Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara shed tears? It was because she was anxious. A little while ago, that ordained disciple who got up to share her experiences mentioned that I’d gone deep into the mountains to perform the Dharma. However, why did I do it first before eating lunch? I did it because so many sentient beings were desperately waiting to be helped. Eating is not as important as helping those sentient beings; this is the Bodhicitta. The Dharma cannot benefit sentient beings without it, and the prerequisite of the Bodhicitta is compassion. In turn, compassion can only be developed through practice, cultivation, training, and so on, and only after you possess it can you develop the Bodhicitta naturally.

“Today I will be performing the Green Tara, because you have all taken refuge and come to participate in the puja. It is my hope that over the coming year every one of you will be protected by the Green Tara and can make progress in both your mundane and supra-mundane Dharma practices. I made a point of bringing a sacred statue of the Green Tara with me today; the one you see now above the mandala is the one I bought in Mainland China. When it was there, this statue was never prepared or consecrated. It’s now been here in the Buddhist Center for more than a year, and yesterday when I specially looked at it, I noticed that it looks more magnificent than it ever did before. In Tibetan Buddhism, some Buddhist statues change along with a practitioner’s cultivation.

“In Tibetan Buddhism, why do Buddhist statues need to be prepared? It is because if a practitioner’s mind is not receptive, the magnetic field of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas cannot enter it, and then there is a risk that other sentient beings might take it over. Taoist methods are not used in statue preparation; a statue is filled with the five grains, treasures, sutras, and prayer wheels—gifts to the Buddhist statue with the same body, speech, and mind of the Buddha. Thus, even if you do not practice well, you at least would be a bit safer for not going astray in your practices. Anyone who implores for a Buddhist statue must have it prepared. You do not know how, though, so a monastic must do it for you.

“Today I’ve brought with me this small statue of the Green Tara, which was left to me by the late Mahasiddha of the Drikung Kagyu Order, Yunga Rinpoche. Yunga Rinpoche achieved fruition as a Rinpoche through cultivation in this lifetime, and was not just an ordinary Bhikkhu. He once predicted that he would definitely be reborn in Bodhisattva Maitreya’s Pure Land, after which he would follow Bodhisattva Maitreya back to Earth and attain Buddhahood. I met Yunga Rinpoche three times; at the time he was in retreat in a cave, and would not receive any visitors. Nevertheless, each time I went there he saw me, said a lot of things to me, and even specially transmitted Dharma methods to me. Some Rinpoches, however, did not believe that I could receive any Dharma methods transmitted by Yunga Rinpoche. Yunga Rinpoche even specially gave me some of the Dharma text his guru had transmitted upon him, and it contains the guru’s fingerprint. In Tibetan Buddhism, if a Dharma text contains a guru’s fingerprint, it means the guru has passed down the lineage to his or her disciples.

“Yunga Rinpoche’s guru was the last of the Drikung Kagyu Order’s Terma masters, and was born in Qinghai. The Rinpoche gave me this small statue of the Green Tara, and I once made an offering to him of an ancient nine-pronged Phurba vajra. Once, after seeing a photograph of this Phurba vajra, Yunga Rinpoche told Lhochen Rinpoche that it was a Dharma instrument that had belonged to him in a past life, so he asked me if I could make an offering of it to him. I said that of course I would, and did as promised. The last photograph taken of Yunga Rinpoche shows him holding this nine-pronged Phurba vajra. I came by it under very strange circumstances, too; it had mysteriously appeared to me.”

Having specially brought with him a couple of photographs that day, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed a disciple who was a professional photographer to explain, from his experience, whether the photographs could have been doctored to show the two circles that could be seen in them.

The photographer-disciple said that in his four years of experience as a professional photographer, he had never seen anything like the phenomena appearing in these photos. He suspected that they might be mold or stains resulting from the photos’ being left unprotected for too long, but after taking a second look, that did not seem to be the case, because the circles only appeared in one corner of the photos. If they were mold or stains, the entire surface of the photos should be covered by such spots; however, only these two very intact circles could be seen.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to bestow teachings. “One of these photographs is of Yunga Rinpoche holding this statue of the Green Tara, and in it the circle in question appears on the left side of Yunga Rinpoche’s chest. This location has a very special significance in Tantra, so I will not explain it here. The other photo is of Yunga Rinpoche in the background holding the nine-pronged Phurba vajra I offered him, and Lhochen Rinpoche is present, too. However, the circle in this photograph is on top of my head, translucent but intact as the moon, against a background of stone. This is a visualization from a certain part of Tantra.

“I’m not trying to show off here; I just want you to understand that every sacred item bestowed by a guru has a special significance. In other words, a guru would not give something to a disciple arbitrarily. Yunga Rinpoche had many Buddhist statues, yet he suddenly bestowed this Green Tara upon me. This was because Yunga Rinpoche knew very well that I often used this Dharma method to benefit many sentient beings; otherwise he would not have given it to me.

“I very rarely show these photographs to anybody. I did not get them out today to bolster your faith. Rather, there are so many rumors going around; I wanted you all to know that Yunga Rinpoche did indeed receive me in person, and that it was not as some people think—that I could not possibly have met him. I don’t want you to continuously create verbal karma out of jealously and so on.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked the photographer-disciple, “According to your professional knowledge, could there be any other explanation for what appears in these photographs?” The photographer-disciple replied, “Those two circles of light do not look like light streaks from backlight or any other such phenomenon from light pollution; they are perfect circles. They really are remarkable; I’ve never seen anything like them.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche allowed the ordained disciples to take a look at the photographs, and then continued bestowing teachings. “Today I will perform the Green Tara. You’ve all been very busy over the past year, and to some extent your actions of body, speech, and mind have not all been in close accordance with the Dharma. I hope that after obtaining blessings from the yidam you will understand that you really need to develop a sense of renunciation, and that after that you must develop the Bodhicitta. Of course, many people might wonder why I don’t let you see those photographs. It is because by the time all 1300 or more of you have seen them, there won’t be any time left to perform the Dharma.”

After looking at the photographs, a monastic said, “How auspicious! Were it not for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, I would not have had a chance to see these in this lifetime. Such an opportunity is quite rare indeed.” Another ordained disciple declared, “What is truly unfathomable is the fact that ordinary people such as ourselves can look at what has happened to a sage and think that it is not true. Then, after seeing proof of it, we still refuse to believe there is anything special about it. Therein lies the difference between a sage and us.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued. “Actually, there is nothing very surprising about this; when a practitioner achieves a certain level of cultivation, his or her energies will combine with those of the guru. From a scientific perspective, this can cause the tiniest of subatomic particles to form into images. Some would say they cannot be seen, but just because you can’t see them does not mean they don’t exist. They are only invisible to the physical eye and the divine eye; however, they can be seen with the Dharma eye and the eye of wisdom. The reason different things often appear in photographs is that the light spectrum used in photography is different from that which can be seen by the human eye.”

A disciple who was an ophthalmologist pointed out, “What Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche says is absolutely correct, because what we can see can be divided into visible light and non-visible light. A single light spectrum is divided into two parts, and humans can only see the visible light part of the spectrum. Thus, a camera can capture the non-visible light part which humans cannot normally see.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued. “In the past I did not feel it was necessary to get these photographs out because I did not think I needed to become one of those practitioners who claims to have emanations. The only reason I got them out today was that I am performing the Green Tara; that and the fact that Yunga Rinpoche and I had a very close connection with each other. Even though I only met him three times, he gave me the Dharma text that contained his own guru’s fingerprint, and this entailed a very profound causal condition. It just so happens that I am performing the Green Tara today, and I’ve had these two photographs placed atop my own mandala all this time. I got them out because I was worried my own abilities were limited, so I wanted to alert all the Bodhisattvas in Bodhisattva Maitreya’s Pure Land to come and lend a hand, because that’s where Yunga Rinpoche is now.”

As His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the Dharma, the ordained disciples implored the Dharma with the mandala offering to the guru on behalf of all sentient beings. As His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to perform the Dharma, the guru performed the Tsok and Tea-Offering rituals, during which each attendee received offering items that had been blessed by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, as well as the rare and auspicious causal condition to share food with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas during the puja.

After performing the Dharma for a while, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche bestowed teachings directly from the contents of the Dharma text. “Next it says that if a guru visualizes himself as being no different from the yidam, the yidam will bless him. Once the guru is filled with all these blessings, he can distribute them to all the sentient beings the guru wishes to protect. The part that is recited afterward is the Prayer for Merits and Benefits of the Twenty-One Taras. This can be very auspicious if recited once every day, but I won’t teach it to you right now because it would be too much of a temptation for you. Its words contain the phrase, ‘May you have riches, honor, longevity, and peace in this lifetime.’ However, the next line is quite easy to understand; it is for the future attainment of Buddhahood. It is also written in the Dharma text that if any sentient beings eat anything poisonous—whether natural or synthetic—then by ‘thinking of the holy one’s true power,’ they can rid themselves of all evil and poison. Toward the end of last year I predicted that some food in Taiwan would be contaminated. Why did none of my disciples get food poisoning from it? It was because of this section of the Dharma text.

“You might have seen those who succumb to various illnesses after encountering ghosts or demons; reciting this prayer is useful for them, too. It also can help one fulfill one’s wish, like obtaining a daughter, or a son, or wealth, with perfect success in everything, all without any hindrances. If you have not made a firm resolution to renounce reincarnation from the mundane world in this lifetime and to develop the Bodhicitta, then this Dharma will not help you at all. Thus, now you know why you should participate in the pujas. Don’t think that you will get what you want just from reciting the Dharma text; I can talk to you all day long about it, but the prerequisite remains that you must make a firm resolution to renounce. Without a mindset of renunciation and the Bodhicitta, the Dharma text will not be of any use to you no matter how much you recite it.

“Yesterday a monastic came to seek an audience with me. She said she had not yet paid off her mortgage, and that she would not form an aspiration to practice until she had done so. I told her that saying such a thing was tantamount to threatening and blackmailing the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Many people these days cultivate the same way, and they won’t get anywhere in their practice.

After performing the Dharma for a while, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to bestow teachings. “What happens if you specialize in practicing the Green Tara in this lifetime? These two lines I read just now are not included in other Dharma texts: If a practitioner specializes in practicing the Green Tara in this lifetime, then the Buddha of Immeasurable Light will truly appear. This means that if you predominantly practice the Green Tara in this lifetime, Amitabha Buddha will genuinely appear before you pass away. The word ‘truly’ here doesn’t mean He will appear dreamlike, or shimmering back and forth the way figures might when you have your eyes shut. You have never experienced this sort of feeling: It’s very clear, just like an image on the television. Thus, anything you see in your dreams, with your eyes closed, or while you are squinting is fake.

“The Dharma text contains the following sentence: A practitioner prays that when Amitabha Buddha truly appears he or she would obtain assurance of future enlightenment. This will be bestowed by Amitabha Buddha directly, and the practitioner will be able to practice the yidam throughout his or her future lifetimes. Thus, many people do not understand the auspiciousness of Tantra, because in Tantra the guru’s aspiration can cause you to form a profound connection with the yidam. Every line of the prayer in the Dharma text can be achieved, but only if the aforementioned condition is met: You must have a strong sense of renunciation, and you must already have decided to practice Buddhism in this lifetime to become liberated from life and death. Furthermore, you must already have developed the Bodhicitta. If you still have even the slightest notion of fixing your current situation or waiting until your children grow up before you renounce the world, then my advice to you is to stop learning Buddhism, because it won’t be of any use to you. There are so many practitioners but why is it only one or two of them actually attain fruition? It is because none of you has made a firm resolution to leave the reincarnation’s sea of suffering! Every day you make a heap of vows to attain enlightenment, meditate, and so on, yet still you have no sense of renunciation. Without this, no Dharma can help you at all. Vajrayana Buddhism is all about walking the Bodhisattva Path. If you try to cultivate along the Bodhisattva Path without a sense of renunciation, you won’t succeed at all.”

During the ritual, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne and used the sacred statue of the Green Tara to personally bestow blessings upon the more than 1300 attendees in the venue as well as outside the Buddhist Center’s doors. All the while, the guru continued to chant the Green Tara Mantra, a look of boundless compassion for all sentient beings in his eyes. Filled with a sense of sincere gratitude, the attendees all kneeled down, heads bowed and palms clasped, to receive the auspicious blessings. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche returned to the Dharma throne and continued to perform the Dharma. Upon its perfect completion, the guru led the attendees in a dedication ritual, and then bestowed more teachings.

“Before the puja ends I’d like to speak to you all about a short section of the Ratnakuta Sutra that contains a dialogue between Shakyamuni Buddha and Mara Papiyan. Shakyamuni Buddha gave the following analogy: If an elder layperson possesses ‘endless wealth’—in other words, is very rich—and only has one son, and ‘loves that son very deeply, and never leaves his son out of his sight for he clings his life to the son.’ This means that he treats his son as someone closest to his heart. This son ‘has bad Six Roots, hurting people and twisting truth,’ meaning he will commit all kinds of evil. ‘Has bad Six Roots’ means his eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind will all lean toward evil. Thus, because the elder layperson loves his son, he beats him with a cane or even a roof tile, or throws stones at him, in the hopes that his son will stop committing evil acts. Thus, the Buddha asked Papiyan, ‘Virtuous man! What do you think? If an elder layperson beats his son, does this mean he has an evil heart?’ Papiyan answered, ‘No. He simply does these things hoping that they will help his son to succeed.’

“Then the Buddha said, ‘Papiya, you should know that Tathagata, in His wisdom, genuinely knew about sentient beings’ nature, root capacity and desires, which was why He watched them. If they should be liberated by speaking evil to them, then He spoke evil to them. If they should be liberated by speaking nothing to them, then He remained silent. If they should be liberated by banishing them, then He banished them. If they should be liberated by listening to the Dharma, then He spoke the Dharma to them. If they should be liberated by His embracing power, then He embraced them with such power. If they should be liberated by seeing His physical form, then He showed them His physical body. If they should be liberated by their perceptions of sound, smell, taste, touch and idea, then He used these senses to liberate them.’

“The word ‘embrace’ refers to the Four All-Embracing Virtues of Almsgiving, Words of Affection, Assistance, and Working Together. It is important to note that there cannot be a very big gap between how you manifest and the people you are embracing. For example, if they like pretty things, then the practitioner should not appear ugly, or else they will not believe. ‘Embracing’ means using something they like to cause them to accept what you say first. It’s like that disciple sharing experiences before today’s puja, who said that he thought I looked very handsome when he first met me; this caused his mind to settle down enough to listen to what I was saying. The reason I am reading from this passage of the Dharma text today is to allow you to understand that the Buddha has many different Dharma methods with which to liberate sentient beings. However, you must not think that you yourselves can do the same. Don’t forget these words: ‘Tathagata, in His wisdom, genuinely knew about sentient beings’ nature, root capacity and desires.’ The Buddha helps sentient beings without asking for anything in return; this is how the Buddha is able to genuinely know, by way of the Dharma, the true nature, root capacity, and desires of sentient beings, and in turn to use various Dharma methods to liberate them.

“A certain Dharma master, after seeing that more and more disciples were taking refuge in me despite my constant scolding of them, decided to try the same method. In the end, all of his disciples ran off. This was because he did not see them clearly with his wisdom. ‘Evil words’ does not mean to curse at them with ugly language; it means saying things to them that they don’t want to hear—the hard truth, in other words. I often tell you that if I scold you, you will remember me, because if someone flatters you but then suddenly reprimands you, you will not forget, and as a result you will have an opportunity to learn Buddhism in a future lifetime. Thus, the Dharma comprises more than just one method, but it is not divided into many fragmented ones; rather, the different methods exist because the minds of sentient beings are truly unfathomable, as are their thoughts. Thus, if there were only one or two methods available, then there would be no way to help sentient beings; you’d have to keep fishing around until you struck a chord in one in order to make him or her listen. If the sentient being still won’t listen, then use a different method so that he or she would remember it and have an opportunity to listen in a future lifetime.

“Therefore, don’t think that just because you have learned and listened to the Dharma, it means you can teach it to others. After listening to this section of the Dharma text, you should understand that it is not that simple. The reason you should light incense is that, as the Buddha said, some people enjoy its scent; as such, it might bring them in contact with the Dharma, and so might a pleasant sound. Take my book—Happiness and Suffering—for example: After seeing the Dharma photo of me inside it, some people think, Hey, this guru looks very dignified. They then want to see me, and this is an example of embracing them by manifesting my physical body. People like seeing good things.

“Some practitioners have unpleasant appearances. Those practicing the arhat path are like this, of course; they will show you an appearance that you don’t like. They don’t want you to like them, because they are practicing for themselves. However, those on the Bodhisattva Path manifest pleasant appearances, unless they are manifesting something special such as the appearance of a deaf or mute person in a place full of deaf and mute people—but you can’t generalize. Why did the Buddha urge us not to kill? It was because you have no way of knowing which sentient being might actually be a Bodhisattva. An insect, or an ant queen, or a queen bee, might be a Bodhisattva. This is because the Buddha emanates in all sorts of physical forms to liberate sentient beings of all root capacities. Thus, you can’t generalize or think it should be this way or that. Some people think practitioners cannot engage in commerce, but nothing is written in the sutras that forbids lay practitioners from doing business.

“Yesterday I met a lay practitioner, who also propagates the Dharma, from another Buddhist school, and he ran a business, too. All of his disciples do volunteer work for him without pay. I’m different, however; I always pay my employees, and I never subject them to exorbitant salary deductions. On the contrary, I keep bumping their salaries up, and I pay them even when they make mistakes. Thus, there is no reason to ask why I can do business; I can because I am a lay practitioner.

“The reason I suddenly brought this section of the Dharma text to light was that it is almost the Lunar New Year, and I want you all to understand that Buddhism is not necessarily what you think it is. I don’t need to say too much; there are 1300 of you participating in today’s puja, and each of you has a different job, family, and degree of fortune. If I were just to use a single method to teach you, I’d be just like those other practitioners out there who hold pujas and make their attendees compete for the right to light lamps and be major benefactors. That sort of thing is pointless. Today I am performing the Dharma, and as I have said quite clearly, if you have not developed a strong sense of renunciation and the Bodhicitta, then no Dharma method will help you. In this lifetime, you will not be able to clear the karmic debt you have racked up through your past lives and this one; you will carry it with you into the next lifetime. You might think that doesn’t matter, but your evil karma will begin to manifest before you die; you don’t even have to wait until the next lifetime.

“Many people have overly rigid concepts of Buddhism. The fact that the Buddha could even have a conversation with the Demon King means that in the Buddha’s eyes there are no good or bad people. In the beginning of the Dharma text, it is mentioned that the Demon King repented, so the Buddha definitely wanted to speak the Dharma to him. Yesterday a believer came to threaten me, saying that I should save his relative because he was a good person. Well, if he was good, then why did he need the help of a Bodhisattva? If Bodhisattvas help good people, does that mean they do not need to help bad people? Whenever you come seeking audience, you always threaten and blackmail me. You shouldn’t do that. I help some people by scolding them; I adopt various methods depending on each individual’s root capacity. A few ordained disciples who are often by my side might wonder why I would scold some people even when they are obviously very good.”

An ordained disciple expressed gratitude for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings, and felt that the guru really was extremely auspicious and great. “Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche genuinely helps us subjectively by pointing out our faults according to our individual nature. This is a Dharma benefit that cannot be obtained anywhere else out there, so we are extremely grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.”

Another ordained disciple said, “Whether a Buddha or Bodhisattva laughs or reprimands, it is always done to benefit sentient beings. Sentient beings have discriminating minds; they like hearing what they want to hear, and dislike being scolded. However, unpleasant things can actually help them by leaving a deep impression on their minds.”

Another ordained disciple said that while attending the guru at the Buddhist Center on Saturdays, she often would see people whom at first she thought were very good; after seeing them get scolded by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, however, she realized that she had been deceived. Some people would speak a heap of flowery Buddhist words to the guru, and seemed to have formed a great aspiration, but in the end she would discover yet again that she had fallen for their lies.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to bestow teachings. “If a practitioner who promotes and speaks the Dharma in public has not first obtained blessings from the guru, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas, and has only learned a few things from the sutra text, then he or she might think these lessons are useful to everyone, but that is not the case. I would prefer that such people not come to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, but I cannot cause them to misunderstand Buddhism.

“Another year has passed, and I have spoken a lot of earnest words to you all; whether or not you actually listen to them I will not discuss it here. I’ll tell you an old story now. The person who introduced me to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang was an old friend who is now deceased. He received even more empowerments than I have, and met in person with the throne holders of the Four Major Orders. His job and activities were to participate in pujas and receive empowerments every day. It would stand to reason that things should have gone very well for him, but in the end he died from a stroke. He, too, was vegetarian, and had urged many people to make prostrations to the Buddha; why, then, was a person with such virtuous causal conditions unable to change his karma? It was because he once told me, ‘I have done so much in this lifetime, so when I return in the next one I plan to enjoy myself.’ Just saying this caused his sense of renunciation to completely disappear. Once you have no sense of renunciation, your merits drain away, and all that remains is some good fortune that can only be used in the next lifetime—and you cannot change your karma in this lifetime.

“Thus, if you start feeling like life is going your way after practicing Buddhism for two or three years, then this will be a sign that you have lost your sense of renunciation and have become a bit arrogant. Whether your life is comfortable or not has nothing to do with Buddhism; it has to do with your karma. The most important thing is whether or not you have any hindrances to your Buddhist practice in this lifetime. Any hindrances that emerge can help you repay your karmic debt. You will encounter the most hindrances at home. If you do not make a firm resolution to leave the world of reincarnation, then these hindrances will continue to manifest, and you will never be able to resolve them. However, if you do have karmic hindrances, then you should remind yourself to be vigilant and work even harder. This does not mean chanting more; it means remembering all the Dharmas taught by me and the Buddha, and not goofing off!

“Don’t think it doesn’t matter; don’t be like that monastic who told me yesterday that she would apply herself to her Buddhist practice once she finished paying off her mortgage. I asked her, ‘Did the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas tell you to buy a house? Did They tell you to get into debt?” Many of you have the same notion; how can you practice then? Practicing Buddhism and paying off your mortgage are not mutually exclusive. Luckily she encountered me. I was once so poor I couldn’t afford to pay my rent, yet I still practiced and made grand prostrations every day. Thus, the issue is whether or not you have a sense of renunciation. If you do not, then you still will not be able to succeed no matter how much you chant or how many prostrations you make.

“You are the ones who must make this decision; your guru cannot make it for you. The blessings you receive during the pujas are no more than assisting conditions that help your mind recover its illumination as quickly as possible, but you are the ones who must actually make that firm resolution. My old friend thought that because he had participated in so many pujas, met so many throne holders, recited so many sutras, and received so many empowerments, it meant that his karma had been eliminated. He had not eaten meat or killed in this lifetime, so why did he suffer a stroke? It was because his father and grandfather had killed while hunting. You are well aware of whether or not your ancestors killed and ate meat. Don’t think that their actions have nothing to do with you. If you did not share in their collective karma, then would you have been born into the same family? Thus, if you have no sense of renunciation, then those sentient beings killed by your ancestors will not be able to leave. That being the case, will they allow you to live in peace and comfort? It would be very surprising if they didn’t force you to suffer! If you have a sense of renunciation, then your Buddhist practice can help them to pass away with you when you die.

“There is so much that you do not know and cannot see. I do not believe your ancestors have told their descendants everything very clearly. You haven’t even spoken clearly about your own affairs, let alone those of your ancestors. If you can’t even liberate them, then who can you save? Don’t think that simply making prostrations is enough to liberate your ancestors; if you have not made a firm resolution to renounce this world, then you cannot help them and they will not be able to come here no matter how great my supernatural powers might be. Why can’t they? It is because they do not have the causal condition for their descendants to think of them. You only care about getting cured of your cancer; you have not given any thought to the wellbeing of your ancestors. Why should you think about them? It is because they engaged in acts of killing in their past lives. You all act like you don’t know what I’m talking about, and say you have no way of knowing what mistakes your ancestors might have made. If they made none, then would you have so many problems?

“The ancient saying ‘good fortune will come to those who practice virtuous deeds’ is correct; don’t think you are now practicing Buddhism for your own benefit. Your practice can change the futures of many sentient beings; this is the Bodhicitta, and does not entail constantly thinking about what ailments you might have. You brought your illnesses upon yourselves; the causes of them are sentient beings, too. As long as you make a firm resolution to develop a sense of renunciation, these sentient beings are sure to be very pleased. Even if your karma is fixed and your karmic retribution has to manifest, its effects will not be quite as harsh. They won’t cause you any major problems, and will all be within your control.

“For example, on the 4th of this month I went to liberate a bunch of innocent spirits. On the morning of the 6th, the entire water pipe to my bathroom fell down, and the bathroom was completely flooded. Had I not been there, wouldn’t have my mother been scared to death? This, too, was a result of my karma. However, because I had helped a lot of sentient beings, I was able to deal with the matter without much fuss, and got it fixed without having to break the piggybank. Nevertheless, no one believes that the Dharma protectors provided help by delaying the day of incident. If the pipe had suddenly flooded on the 4th while I was not there, and my mother had been home alone, what would have happened? You tell me whether the Dharma protectors provided help or not. The miraculous thing was that the pipe broke right after I woke up. If it had happened in the middle of the night, I would not have been able to find anyone to help, so as it happened the Dharma protectors were actually quite good at the timing. They helped by thinking about what time I get out of bed and whether or not those plumbers were at work yet.

“Thus, if you believe deeply in the guru and the Dharma protectors, you will be fine. Even when something does happen to you, you will be able to handle it and solve any problems that arise. Don’t think that practicing Buddhism will make you immune to mishap; thinking like that will get you in trouble. Only those who have attained Buddhahood can be free of troubles, because Buddhas have no attachments. It is actually good when things happen to you. Don’t worry about what bad things might happen after you start practicing Buddhism; I help so many sentient beings, yet even I encounter troubles in my life. However, they make me happier and happier, because I know that I can definitely repay all the karmic debt I owe from my past lives in this lifetime. Once I am free of that debt, I will be set for life, and Amitabha Buddha will bestow assurance of future enlightenment upon me. You, however, cannot achieve this.

“Thus, you should listen. Don’t transform all your Dharma merits into good fortune for the sake of a moment’s greed; good fortune cannot be used in this lifetime. To be sure, my old friend chanted and saw much more than you have, yet he did not have any merits in the end, for they had been transformed at the utterance of a single sentence. The saying ‘fire burns away the forest of merits’ does not mean you should change your temper; it means that your house is on fire. It is written in the Lotus Sutra that we live in a burning house, and that the flames that consume it are our greedy thoughts. Many people misunderstand this saying and think that it refers to hatred, but it does not; it means our house is on fire, preventing us from wanting to break away from reincarnation. Once it burns down, it’s not that there is nothing left; there are still ashes—yet these can only be used in the next lifetime. Wood can continue to grow, but ashes can’t. Thus, Shakyamuni Buddha’s analogy is something that must be gradually appreciated. Why did the Buddha use the word ‘forest?’ It does not mean trees in the forest are gone; it means they have changed into something else, but cannot be wood again. It means all you can have is a little bit of fire you can use in your life, that’s all.

“Many people think the saying ‘fire burns away the forest of merits’ refers to losing one’s temper, but actually it doesn’t. Rather, it means not having a sense of renunciation; that is, figuratively, your house is on fire, so you must be very careful. As is written in the Lotus Sutra, the Buddha placed a large number of toys in a pair of carts to lure people from the burning houses of their afflicted minds. However, many still would not leave. You think that only your family members would love you enough to do you good. Only when you are on your deathbed will you finally realize that the guru, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas are in fact the ones that have your best interests in mind. Your family members will just sit next to you, shaking you as if rocking a boat, and saying all sorts of things such as, “Hey! You still haven’t finished telling us who gets your money when you’re gone? You’re being unfair!”

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

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Updated on June 17, 2019