His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – February 15, 2015

Before the puja began, a disciple (whose mother was also a disciple) shared with everyone an account of the changes and repentances he had made since taking refuge in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

First he talked about the causal origination that had led him to take refuge. He remembered that when he was a child, his father had been in and out of hospital many times. At first it had been because of a car accident, but later those injuries had affected his brain and resulted in epilepsy. Every year after that, his father had suffered from occasional episodes during which an ambulance had often been needed to be called to take him to the hospital in the middle of the night. During summer vacation in 2011, his father had had another epileptic fit. This one had lasted so long that the disciple’s mother had told him that she did not feel very optimistic about his father’s condition. After being taken to the emergency room, however, his father’s pulse had returned to normal, and the other symptoms had also been alleviated. The disciple was grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having saved his father. He remembered that on the day he had rushed to the hospital, after having seen that so many Dharma brothers from the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center had kept his parents company there, he’d felt a very warm feeling then; he thanked them all for their sincere concern. That night his mother had informed him and his sister that the following Saturday she would go to the Buddhist Center to thank His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. She had also told them that the Chod performed by the guru could help many sentient beings who were suffering from illness, but had stressed that for their father to obtain such help, they as son and daughter must implore the guru in person. The disciple and his sister had therefore agreed to go with their mother to seek an audience and to express their gratitude to the guru.

On the day of his first audience, the Dharma brother in charge of organizing seating had arranged for the disciple to wait in the front row so that he could clearly hear and see Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche as the guru bestowed teachings upon the other believers. The disciple had felt that the guru was very straightforward and able to resolve the believers’ problems with great wisdom. At times Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had scolded them loudly, and at others he had smiled while speaking. Sometimes the guru had bestowed blessings directly without saying a word. The disciple remembered having liked the sound of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s voice while participating in Grand Pujas in the past; it had somehow drawn him to the guru, and made him want to hear more. While waiting for his first audience, the disciple had thought over and over about imploring Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to allow him to sign up to participate in the Chod Puja.

When it was time for him to walk forward for their audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the disciple, his sister, and their mother had made three prostrations and then knelt before the guru. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had asked, “How can I help?” The disciple’s mother had mentioned her husband’s epileptic episodes, after which the guru had asked, “Is he not dead yet?” His mother had lowered her head and replied, “Not yet.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had then said, “He had a heatstroke from drinking iced water. Go home and tell him he’s not allowed to drink any iced water from now on, or else he won’t be allowed to see me again!” His mother had said, “Yes, Rinpoche.” Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had glanced at the disciple and asked, “What year are you in?” He had answered, “I’m a sophomore at university.” The guru had said, “What’s your major?” He’d replied, “Chemical engineering.” After meditating for a few seconds, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “You write a lot of equations, very frequently.” The disciple had replied, “Yes, Rinpoche; that is correct.” He had suddenly felt very close to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, for the guru had seemed to genuinely care about his studies and had known what sort of work they typically involved. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had then said, “So do you know that you’ve been writing a certain symbol the wrong way for a very long time now? It should be curved this way, but you’ve been curving it this way. Am I right?” While watching His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche describe a symbol in the air with his hands, the disciple had recognized it as one which he’d been unsure of how to write correctly for quite some time. It was a symbol that made use of a Greek letter to express fluid density, so the disciple had immediately answered, “Yes, and okay, when I get home I’ll take a look.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had further pointed out, “There’s also one in which you never place the period in the right position. You must learn to place it correctly; otherwise, when your professors are grading your tests, they won’t know what you’re trying to write. Understand?” The disciple had replied, “Yes, Rinpoche; I understand.”

Remembering it now, he truly felt grateful. In the field of chemical engineering, rates of inflow and outflow of materials, as well as changes over time, were often expressed using a period, so leaving one out could cause major problems and influence the entire physical significance of the formula. The disciple had then said, “Rinpoche, I implore you; please allow me to register to participate in the Chod Puja.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had asked, “What for? Are you afraid your father’s going to die?” The disciple had said, “Um… no.” The guru had asked, “Well, do you eat vegetarian?” The disciple had replied, “Yes, I’ve begun to.” His mother had then said, “He eats a little bit of scallions.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “Well, that won’t do.” The disciple had hurriedly replied, “I don’t eat them anymore.” The guru had asked, “So, how long will you eat vegetarian?” Not having understood what Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said at first, he had just kept on answering stupidly, “I’ve already started eating vegetarian.” Afterward the guru had pointed out, “I was asking you how long you plan on eating vegetarian.” The disciple had replied, “Um….” In his heart, he had wanted to say that he would eat that way until he died, but had hesitated because of being afraid that those words might not sound right. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “Go home and think it over awhile before you return.”

After the audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was over, he had immediately resolved to eat vegetarian for the rest of his life. He’d therefore asked the attending Dharma brother for help arranging another audience with the guru. The Dharma brother had said, “Okay, return to the back row. Once everyone who has registered for an audience today is finished, you may ask His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche whether or not he will see you again.” Because there had been a very large number of believers present that day, it was after 10:00 at night when the Dharma brother had finally said to him, “We should let His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche go home and rest. You may implore again for an audience after tomorrow’s Sunday puja.”

At 4:00 P.M. the following day, he had arrived at the downstairs area of the Buddhist Center to wait. Not seeing the Dharma brother with the Glorious Jewel vest, he’d begun to feel worried that he was too late to seek an audience, but then the downstairs building custodian had informed him, “They’re still in the puja. I’ll take you up to see if you’re allowed to enter or not.” Upstairs, after seeing some Dharma brothers leave the room, he’d been led inside and seated. Seeing His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche speaking from the Dharma throne, he’d thought to himself, Wow! Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche says a lot, even more here than he did at the Grand Puja! I hope I’ll be allowed to get into the Center and listen to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche speak. Seeing everyone here in the Buddhist Center gives me such a good feeling! After listening to them all recite the Dharma Protector Achi ritual and dedication prayer, he had told himself firmly that he must do his best to implore the guru. By the time His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche returned to the Dharma throne, it had been arranged for the disciple to be the first to approach. This time he had not felt nervous. Glancing at him, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had asked, “What did I tell you yesterday?” The disciple had replied, “You told me I’d been writing a symbol incorrectly and that I needed to change my method.” The guru had exclaimed, “Now you understand!” He had answered, “Yes, I understand now. Thank you, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. I’ve returned to implore for permission to register to participate in the Chod Puja.” The guru had said, “Why is that?” The disciple had replied, “Ever since I was little, I’ve seen my father go in and out of hospital, and it makes me very sad.” The guru had answered, “Fine.” The disciple had said, “Thank you, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.” Then he’d stood, made three prostrations to the guru, and left.

After his father had been discharged from hospital, their entire family had again sought an audience so that they could express their gratitude to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. On the day of the audience, his father had said to the guru, “As your disciple, I have been ignorant. I am grateful to you, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.” The guru had smiled and said, “Have you drunk any more iced water?” His father had replied, “No, I have not.” The guru had said, “Great! If anything untoward happens, I will perform the Phowa for you. Is there anything else?” The disciple and his sister had then both said simultaneously, “Please, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, allow me to register to take refuge.” His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had compassionately said, “I will allow it.” Their entire family had then thanked the guru and made another prostration.

After he’d taken refuge in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, everything had changed for the better. He had learned how to keep his room clean—a chore which, for him, was quite a big step. Actually, the first time he’d met Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, he had still been in his second year in high school. At the time, the guru had told him that he needed to obey his parents, mind his own business, and not think himself overly eloquent. His father had often said that his room looked like a war zone, with everything just dropped all over the floor at random. After taking refuge, the disciple had decided to use that as a starting point for amending his ways. No more would he cause his parents to worry that he couldn’t even take care of life’s most trivial matters. Later, seeing their home begin to get tidier and tidier, his mother had exclaimed happily that this really was the result of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s help. Also, because the guru had told the disciple to keep his nose out of other people’s business, he had fewer opportunities to engage in harsh speech. For this he was grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

His mother had once said that her biggest worry was his health. When he was little he had not been a big eater; he’d only liked fruit. He remembered having to buy those ham sandwiches for breakfast in the elementary school cafeteria for NT$10, and not even being able to get a single bite down. He would stuff them into his desk drawer or schoolbag, and after days turned into months they would begin to mold and attract maggots. In the eyes of both his classmates and teachers, he was a student with issues. Back then, however, eating had really been an ordeal for him; during mealtime he would often hide food in his mouth and then pretend he had to go to the bathroom, where he would spit it into the toilet. Because he would not eat anything, he’d lacked nourishment and become quite skinny and small. After taking refuge in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and beginning to eat vegetarian, he had started to enjoy eating, and his appetite had grown larger and larger. In addition, he had become fond of keeping fit. Those factors, plus such nutritional supplements as soybean-milk powder and wolfberry that he would buy at the Glorious Jewel Japanese food store, had caused his health and physique to improve and normalized his eating habits. Last year his mother had told him that she was no longer worried about him. He was grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

After taking refuge in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche his teeth had straightened and grown perfectly aligned. He remembered that they used to be so sharply pointed that in his freshman year at university a classmate had laughed at him and said that he was toothless. In addition, he’d had frequent cavities. After taking refuge, a dentist had suddenly told him that his dental alignment needed to be corrected so that his teeth could be brushed more easily. During the correction process, he and his mother had both discovered that the shape of his teeth had turned to normal. Furthermore, many people who wear correction-plate tend to complain of pain and lack of appetite, but these things had never happened to him. He was very grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and felt that this had all been karmic retribution resulting from having told a lot of lies when he was little and having spoken harshly, cursed, and verbally abused people during middle school and high school. After taking refuge in the guru, he had no longer impulsively bought junk food and gadgets he did not need, and had stopped greedily spending his money on entertainment.

He had also stopped being afraid of ghosts after taking refuge in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, for he now knew that the guru would protect him and that ghosts are sentient beings, too. The guru had once said that sentient beings in the Hungry Ghost Realm are easier to liberate than humans, because they cherish the Dharma more than we do. Hearing this, the disciple had decided he needed to do better. He remembered one time when he was a sophomore in high school, about a month before participating in his first Grand Puja, he had suddenly felt a lot of pain in his lower spine. This had made him feel like he needed to keep twisting it to relieve the pressure, but doing so had caused it to hurt even more. Just then he had recalled the pets he’d kept while in middle school: All sorts of fish, as well as a turtle. Back then he had used a knife to sever the fishes’ spines, and then given them to the turtle to eat. Thus, he’d felt that this must have been karmic retribution. After his mother found out, she had told him, “During the Grand Puja, if you think of the sentient beings you’ve harmed, then Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche can help them.” On the day of the Grand Puja, the guru had made special mention of the fact that while participating in the puja, the attendees should remember that they were there on behalf of all sentient beings, and had also reminded them to sit up straight. That day the disciple had concentrated very hard, and the day after the puja he had discovered that his lower back did not hurt anymore. He was very grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

Once, while riding, and speeding, his moped at night, he’d overlooked a bollard toppled in the middle of the street and had hit it with such momentum that he’d been thrown from his bike. However, he had only suffered minor scrapes and bruises. He was grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having saved his life. After taking refuge and hearing the guru teach about the Five Precepts of the laity and the Ten Meritorious Acts, the disciple had gained a new purpose in life that was no longer limited to completing his coursework and reaching the goal of certain number of work-hours at his temporary job. Whenever he did anything, he had now begun to examine his actions to see whether or not they were in keeping with the Five Precepts and the Ten Meritorious Acts. He had discovered that when they were, it was not easy for him to make mistakes, harm other people, or accumulate so many afflictions. He had also realized that any techniques to correct his mistakes that he’d learned in the past, from interpersonal relationships and work experiences, could not hold a candle to the Dharma methods taught by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, which were far more detailed and thorough. He felt that the point of the Dharma taught by the guru was to help us adjust our attitudes so that we could then behave appropriately, but not just amending our behavior to satisfy others.

In the past he had felt very proud of the fact that he would reflect each evening on whether or not he had harmed anyone that day. Only after taking refuge, however, had he realized that he’d only been hoping to win the approval of others thus becoming more popular. Listening to the Dharma had taught him that those self-reflections had been wrong; instead, he should honestly face the mistakes he had made, develop a sense of repentance, and stop committing evil acts. Only if he diligently observed the Five Precepts and the Ten Meritorious Acts would he have fewer opportunities to harm others; as such, he would not need to think about whether or not he was liked. He had discovered that whenever something that made him happy happened, he would grow lax; this had helped him to understand what Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had meant when the guru had said that good things can hinder our Buddhist practice, too.

After taking refuge in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, he had stopped having so many emotional attachments. He had amended his tendency to try controlling his girlfriend and other friends, and had stopped fretting over gains and losses in his everyday life. He needs only focus on doing his own part correctly. As Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, he needed to live by adapting to each rising condition and keep calm no matter what happened, and now he would no longer bother his mother any time he encountered something that did not go his way. He used to think he had a lot of enemies. Whenever certain people had done things to put him in a bad mood, he would begin to resent them and curse them inwardly. This had caused him to feel uncomfortable inside, and a few days later, after he’d calmed down, he would encounter another similar situation. Caught in an endless cycle, he had felt constantly annoyed. Once he’d had a crush on a certain female student. This had caused him to feel suddenly very happy; however, he also felt very possessive, and just as abruptly, he would grow very sad and annoyed whenever he could not find her. This had happened many times.

After taking refuge, he had listened to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings on the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas. One of the things the guru had said was that “attachment to loved ones is as mercurial as water, and hatred toward enemies burns like fire.” From this the disciple had learned how to get along with the people he liked the least as well as those he liked the most. As Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, whenever problems arise between you and anyone you might interact with, you should use the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas to examine yourself. Each time you do this, you can figure out how to face these differences, and you will realize that you yourself were the one in the wrong all along. The disciple felt that the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas were treasures that should be greatly cherished. After taking refuge, he had felt that the biggest benefit he’d reaped was the ability to constantly discover his own faults due to having continuously participated in the pujas and listened to the guru’s teachings. As such, he could keep amending his ways. However, doing this had also often caused him to grow arrogant, as the guru had warned it would happen. For this reason, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche taught the disciples to always examine themselves and not dwell on when they might achieve what they’d set out to do. The disciple had often felt he understood this, and in his heart he believed that the guru really was great. Thus the disciple would sometimes think he had succeeded in following the teachings, but then once a problem arose, he would realize that he had merely listened to the guru’s advice without actually following it.

He repented for not having listened to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s advice to always be mindful of his actions of body, speech, and mind, and for having slackened off to the point of realizing he’d broken the precepts. He also repented for being lazy; every day during morning and evening prayers, he did not focus his full attention on chanting the mantras, and would sometimes become distracted by other thoughts. He repented for the fantasies he would often have about the female sex. He repented for having slept late while in university and then lied to his professor, saying that he was tardy because he’d gotten lost on the way to class. Once he had carefully calculated what he needed for his living expenses, and then had given what money he had left over in the form of an offering; for this he repented. He also repented for having doubted the guru in the past, and for only having developed a sense of renunciation whenever he’d been suffering. He felt that he had not been one hundred percent respectful toward the guru, and as a result was still making mistakes, giving excuses, and explaining his behavior in an effort to simply get by. He repented that he still listened to the Dharma with a sense of greed and discrimination. His listening, pondering, and cultivating skills had a long way to go still, and were nowhere near a state of perfect completion. He wanted to remember the guru often, be mindful of the impermanence of death, and amend all of his thoughts and behavior from the perspective of a determination to leave reincarnation behind. He hoped that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would always embrace him and keep him away from all hindrances to his Buddhist practice. Finally, he prayed that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would maintain good health, keep turning the Dharma wheel, and continue to benefit all sentient beings.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne to preside over the auspicious Chod Puja. While performing the Chod, the guru tirelessly expended his own merits and good fortune. Filled with gratitude for the guru’s endless benevolence in liberating sentient beings with his own life force, the disciples were all moved to tears. While performing the ritual, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Dharma voice caused the Buddhist Center’s CCTV video signal to be interrupted several times. As the guru’s powerful blessings filled the void, the synchronized video imaging was unable to keep up. After the Dharma was performed to perfect completion, the screen’s image returned to normal. This auspicious sign was absolutely amazing. Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the attendees in a chanting of the Great Six-Syllable Mantra that lasted for a long time, during which they all felt wave after wave of compassionate force coming from the guru’s voice.

Upon the perfect completion of the puja, the disciples thanked His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in unison for having compassionately performed the Dharma. Rising to their feet, they paid reverent homage as the guru descended the Dharma throne.

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Updated on January 30, 2019