His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – March 1, 2015

Before the puja began, a disciple thanked His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for his blessings and shared with everyone an account of how she had come to take refuge in the guru, as well as how he had taken care of her and her family. She also told of how her mother had been miraculously saved twice, thereby adding more than ten years to her mother’s life.

She had sought her first audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche because her mother had been gravely ill with fulminant hepatitis and had a liver index was over ten thousand. As a result, the doctor had issued notices of critical condition one after another. The disciple had been absolutely unable to accept the fact of impermanence, and in her panic had spent each night hiding and crying under her covers. She had sought help for her mother wherever she could; any time she’d heard of a place that could give assistance, she would rush there without delay. Later, after learning from a university classmate about His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, she and her sister had quickly gone to seek an audience together. The disciple would never forget the first time she had met the guru. After she’d reported to him about her mother’s critical condition, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had immediately spoken at length about the impermanence of life. At that point the disciple had broken down in tears and thought to herself, Is there no hope for Mom? Why would the guru be saying these things? After explaining patiently, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had bestowed upon her mother a precious nectar pill. At the time the disciple had had no idea of how auspicious and rare this was, so His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had repeatedly emphasized that she must cherish it. The guru had also said he would only give it to her on the condition that she promised to have her mother take it. The disciple had readily agreed.

After arriving at the hospital, however, she had been advised by a nurse not to give her mother the nectar pill for fear that it might block her air passage. Because the disciple had not had sufficient faith, she’d listened to the nurse’s advice and completely forgotten her promise to the guru. As such, her mother had missed the auspicious opportunity to consume a nectar pill. That evening her mother had received the go-ahead for a liver transplant. Back then this was quite a major procedure that required more than ten surgeons taking shifts to perform surgery over a period of twenty-four hours. After the operation, the disciple had fearfully reported her foolish behavior to the guru. His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had berated her for not being filial, and had told her that the nectar pill would have helped her mother to recover a bit more quickly. By then her mother had fallen into a coma and undergone three complete plasma transfusions. In addition, a hole had been drilled into her skull to monitor her intracranial pressure. During surgery, her GCS had barely registered higher than that of a dead person. Under such dire circumstances, doing a liver transplant had been extremely dangerous to say the least. The disciple repented, because her lack of filial piety had caused her mother to suffer more than necessary.

None of the doctors had known whether or not her mother would ever awaken from her coma, so the disciple and her family members had self-righteously asked Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, “What can we do?” In response the guru had said, “Good question. What can you do?” She had suddenly felt very ashamed. Even the doctors had been helpless, and all anyone could do was to watch as her mother lay there like a withering mummy. Then Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had told them that the only reason they’d acquired the causal condition and good fortune to be granted an audience with the guru, and thereby obtain help for her mother, was that they had previously recited the sutras. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had further said that as her mother’s daughters, the disciple and her sister must continuously participate in the Chod Pujas so that their mother could accumulate good fortune. The disciple had then informed His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche that she was in so much pain at not having been filial toward her mother, and that she felt it was now too late. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had compassionately stated that true filial piety was expressed by practicing Buddhism. These words had taken the disciple completely by surprise, and she had been at a complete loss for what to do next.

His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had later promised to go to the hospital to bestow blessings upon their unconscious mother. This was but one of many examples of how Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche benefits sentient beings without asking for anything in return. After blessing the disciple’s mother for a long time, the guru had mentioned that he’d seen many fish on her body as well as two infant spirits next to her. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had then said that an elderly deceased man had also come to see her. This had caused the disciple to realize that her grandfather, who had died the year before after having suffered a great deal, was still suffering. Upon questioning other elderly relatives, the disciple had learned that her mother had had two abortions before getting married. Remembering Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s guidance that the only way to show genuine filial piety was to be diligent in one’s Buddhist practice, the disciple had gotten up the courage to ask the guru, “If I wanted to practice, would there be any relatively entry-level teachers available for me to learn from?” The guru had replied, “With such a good teacher right here in front of you, why would you want to look elsewhere?” In retrospect, she had deeply regretted that she had not possessed a sufficiently virtuous root capacity to grasp the opportunity right then and there to follow such a meritorious guru.

While participating in the Chod Pujas, she had watched her mother’s condition gradually improve over time. One day, a month after His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had blessed her mother, the disciple’s grandmother had called to tell them that she had dreamt about seeing Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara bestow blessings upon the disciple’s mother. Soon afterward, her consciousness had slowly begun to return. The doctors and nurses had all felt that this was nothing short of miraculous, because during this period of time even they had lost all hope for her mother.

After staying in the intensive care unit for three months, her mother had finally been moved to a regular ward, and a further half year of rehabilitation had allowed her to gradually recover to the point that she could walk and was able to think very clearly. However, the hole that had been drilled into her skull to monitor intracranial pressure had caused her to be severely cross-eyed. Corrective surgery was planned, but the week before that, while driving with the disciple’s mother in the passenger seat, her father had suddenly crashed into the car in front of them. Other than being frightened, they had both been fine. After spending a few hundred thousand NT dollars on car repairs, the disciple’s mother had discovered that the sudden scare had somehow miraculously corrected her lazy eye. The disciple was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having spared her mother from the suffering of surgery, thereby lessening the effects of heavy karmic retribution. More than a decade later, she had bumped into some nurses who had looked after her mother while she was in the ICU. She’d told them excitedly that her mother’s seemingly miraculous recovery had actually been thanks to the care and blessings bestowed by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, who was no different from a Buddha or a Bodhisattva.

Only after she’d begun to participate in the pujas had the disciple genuinely come to appreciate what it meant to practice Buddhism. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings were profound yet easy to understand, and she had learned that the Dharma was not some unattainable abstraction; rather, it comprised practical methods that could be implemented in one’s everyday life. Although her family had been relatively well-off when she was little, her ancestors had been farmers who had accumulated heavy karma from killing, and this had resulted in constant altercations among her family members. Moreover, she herself had had poor health and was always in pain from her scoliosis. So, despite never having had to worry about living expenses, she’d always been unhappy. When she was a young girl her father had attended a Presbyterian church, and she had often accompanied him there to sing hymns and worship. When she was in twelfth grade she had participated in a Christian fellowship. Because emotional conflicts between her mother and father had led her father to take frequent trips abroad, and due to enormous academic pressures, she had begun to suffer insomniac tendencies. A psychologist had prescribed her with medication that had put her to sleep immediately after she’d taken just one pill. Upon waking, however, her mind had been completely blank, so she had not dared to continue taking the medication. At the time a fellow congregation member had shouted the Lord’s name with her, but even this had done nothing to resolve her mental anguish. After she’d begun participating in the pujas and listening to the guru’s teachings, however, she had gradually come to understand that her suffering had all been the result of cause and effect—of karmic seeds that she herself had sewn and that had matured into retribution that she must face. It had dawned on her that she must repent, work hard to amend her behavior, and participate in the pujas on behalf of sentient beings. Ever since that realization, those inexplicable bouts of sadness had ceased. She was also grateful to the Glorious Jewel Medicine Clinic for having provided her with such wonderful medicine that had stopped her joints from aching in the winter and had caused her health to gradually take a turn for the better.

After she’d taken refuge, her parents had come seeking an audience to thank Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having helped her mother. The guru had started out by saying, “Your daughter has taken refuge in me, but will not become a monastic. If she misbehaves, come and tell me.” Right then and there she had been extremely grateful, but at the same time had also felt deeply repentant for not having been filial enough to understand the things her parents had worried about. She had also been grateful to the guru for having put her parents’ minds at ease, thereby granting her the causal condition to practice Buddhism. In the early days of her practice she had dived right in and resolved to do her best to repent. Her plan had been to follow closely in the guru’s footsteps so that she could become liberated from life and death in this lifetime and leave her days of suffering in the great sea of reincarnation behind once and for all. Later, however, as her life had begun to improve, she’d begun to slack off and change, and had stopped acting in accordance with the guru’s teachings. She’d had a deep attachment to her material desires, and had exhibited behavior that was completely unbecoming of a Buddhist practitioner; she had only been superficially busy at participating in the pujas. After graduating from university, she had earned enough money to begin pursuing her desires. She had been very extravagant, self-righteous, and arrogant; everything she had done, she had done for herself, and had shown no respect for her parents. These various evil habits had left her father no choice but to write a letter to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, in which he had expressed his wish that she could go on more overseas trips with her family—by which he’d meant that he wanted her to be with them rather than here participating in the pujas. For this she deeply repented, because her lack of diligence in her Buddhist practice and her failure to amend her ways had prevented her family from realizing the auspiciousness of the Dharma. She had not praised His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s merits in front of them frequently enough; she had merely pursued her own desires until a hindrance to her Buddhist practice had cropped up. The guru had therefore said that she and her father should try to communicate better, and from that point on had forbidden her from participating in the pujas. During the following years she had gained a profound sense of the suffering that comes from not being able to participate in the pujas or listen to the Dharma. As such, she was grateful for the guru’s auspicious teachings, as they had given her an opportunity to reflect on her mistakes.

Even though she hadn’t been able to participate in the pujas, the guru had never given up on her, and had continued to take care of her and her family. After her mother’s first bout with critical illness that had resulted in a liver transplant, the long-term use of antibiotics had weakened her body’s immune system to the point that even a tiny cold or fever was enough to send her to the hospital. At the end of January of 2011, she had become gravely ill a second time when a simple cough and cold had developed into an acute respiratory disease of which the mortality rate was higher than 50%. After being in hospital for less than a weak, she had already begun to have difficulty breathing, and fitting her with an oxygen mask had not improved her condition. After her blood-oxygen level had dropped to sixty, her lungs had turned completely white. The doctor had urgently informed them of this, and that she had been intubated and moved to the ICU. Every day, while holding up a Dharma photo of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for her mother to see, the disciple had told her that she must remember the guru’s appearance and Dharma name. The disciple had discussed with her family her wish to make a great offering on behalf of her mother, and after obtaining their approval, had whispered into her mother’s ear that she was planning on offering the guru her mother’s most precious bracelet.

Her entire family had gone together to seek an audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, during which they had informed the guru of her mother’s grave condition. After repenting on her mother’s behalf and making an offering of the bracelet her mother was wearing, the disciple had implored Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to alleviate her mother’s suffering. The guru had inquired after her mother’s name and then meditated for a while, after which he had asked, “What’s the matter with your mother’s breathing? Why is one of her feet so badly swollen?” The disciple had reported to the guru that because her mother had had trouble breathing, the doctors had administered ECMO (extracorporeal membrane oxygenation) treatment. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “That is quite serious. Will her foot be amputated?. Although the administration of ECMO had kept her mother alive, she had developed several complications, because the anticoagulants had caused her entire oral cavity to hemorrhage and left her body riddled with jaundice and edema. She had also needed dialysis, and it was likely that her right foot would have to be amputated. No matter how much infrared light they subjected it to, or how much they massaged it, black and purple bruises would return to the sole of her right foot once the massage was over. Luckily, the Glorious Jewel Medicine Clinic had provided a traditional Chinese salve for them to use, and it had prevented the sole of her mother’s foot from deteriorating even further. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had described her mother’s appearance as if the guru were there by her side, and had then chanted mantras and bestowed blessings upon her for a long, long time.

After bestowing blessings, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said that her mother’s body was full of freshwater organisms. Later, after hearing her mother say that as children they often used to go dredging for clams in a rural creek, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said that a virus had invaded her mother’s spine and that her life was about to end. The disciple had then implored Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to allow her to repent and make grand prostrations during the puja on her mother’s behalf. The guru had agreed, and the disciple had immediately implored him to help her mother to leave her suffering behind and become liberated from life and death. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had not consented right away; instead the guru had told them to talk it over as a family first. So the family had stood aside and discussed it, and had all agreed that if her mother’s life was indeed at an end, they all wished to lessen her suffering. After all, none of them could stand to see her in so much pain. During their second audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, they had said that the entire family wanted her mother to leave her suffering behind, and implored the guru to liberate her by way of the Phowa. They were all grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having allowed them to seek help from Dharma Protector Achi.

And just like that, the miraculous had occurred. The following day, her mother’s lungs had shown improvement and she had stopped producing so much phlegm. The sole of her right foot had actually changed from dark purple to red, and both infrared light treatment and massage were no longer needed. Seeing this, her family had been baffled, and had all felt grateful to the guru for having spared her mother the suffering of an amputation. Ten days later, the ECMO apparatus had been removed without mishap, but because the severe injuries to her lungs had made her mother unable to breathe on her own, the doctors had kept her intubated. The disciple and her sisters had sought yet another audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, during which her sister had started out by thanking the guru and imploring for more blessings for their mother. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had again asked their mother’s name, and after hearing it, had said that their mother had made a great deal of progress; her fever had stabilized and she was no longer producing nearly so much phlegm as before. However, they had continued to be greedy by asking for more. The disciple had thanked Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and then she, her sisters, and her brother-in-law had gone to another part of the Buddhist Center to perform their grand prostrations. After a time, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had called them back to the dais and asked, “Are you exhausted?” The guru had then told them that it had been even more exhausting for their mother to carry them, and that as their parents’ children, only they could accumulate good fortune for their mother and father. The guru had had two reasons in making them perform those grand prostrations, he said: One was to form a deep connection between their mother and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and the other was to enable her to become liberated by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche at some point in the future. After that, the guru had chanted mantras to bless their mother. The next day her fever was gone and her urine volume had returned to normal. In addition, she was very lucid; she had even asked to see a Dharma photo of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

From that point onward, her mother had begun to do endless breathing exercises. The injuries to her lungs had caused her to develop pulmonary edema, however, and during a routine drainage procedure air had gotten into her lungs and sent her into shock and convulsions. The doctors had not known whether she’d suffered brain damage due to a lack of oxygen or whether she would therefore be left in a vegetative state; they’d also had said that there was a distinct possibility that the constant convulsions might kill her. Thus, the disciple and her sisters had sought another audience with the guru to implore for an alleviation of their mother’s suffering. After bestowing blessings, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had asked whether or not their mother owned any gold, and her sister had confirmed that she did. The guru had then instructed them to sell off their mother’s gold and use the money to make a donation on her behalf to the Social Affairs Administration at the Ministry of the Interior, and to designate it as a special fund for people who could not afford medical treatment. Grateful to the guru for having given her mother this opportunity to give to charity, the disciple had repented for having failed to help her family to develop sufficient faith—which was why the guru had had to help her mother accumulate good fortune by way of such a Dharma method. The disciple had done exactly as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had instructed, and a few days later her mother had gradually regained consciousness to the point that she could write to tell them when she was hungry.

Her mother’s blood-oxygen level had continued to be unstable, though, and this had frequently put her in critical condition. The breathing exercises had been very tough on her, and the pig-nosed mask she’d had on, which regulated her oxygen concentration to help her breathing, had looked quite painful to wear. As a result, the disciple and her sisters had again gone to seek an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in the hope that the guru could further alleviate their mother’s suffering. After asking them their mother’s name, the guru had bestowed blessings for quite some time before telling them, “Your mother’s heart isn’t healthy. She looks fine on the surface, but she’s actually putting up with a great deal of pain because she still cares for you and doesn’t want you to worry. Observe her for sixty days; if her blood pressure continues to go up and down like that, then these sixty days will be her last. If her blood pressure stabilizes, however, then it is unclear what will happen.” Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had asked the disciple’s sister, “Given her condition, do you really want your mother to keep on living?” Still her sister had nodded her head, so the guru had said, “Your mother’s intestines are wrecked and her liver is gradually failing; if she remains in this world, she will continue to suffer. Do you understand that?” Without waiting for a reply, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked, “Does your mother have any more gold?” Her sister had answered, “No; it’s all gone now.” The guru had said, “Well actually, she still has a few gold rings and some savings. It’s not much, but you should still go and sit beside her and inform her that you are going to give those valuables to charity. Make sure she understands.”

Thinking that all of their mother’s gold had been sold off, the disciple and her sisters had wondered what might still be left. Suddenly she’d recalled that her father, while retrieving the gold jewelry from their safe deposit box, had said in passing that they would just sell the necklaces and leave the smaller items there. She had then asked her father about those items, but he had insisted that there were no rings and was reluctant to make any further donations because he felt that they had given enough. And just like that, they had missed the opportunity to obtain Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious Dharma method for her mother. Soon afterward, her mother’s left foot had abruptly become very swollen. Later they had found out that this was due to her having been given too many shots, and those had caused the main arteries of her foot to hemorrhage. During an emergency surgical procedure, the doctors had inserted three coronary stents, which the family had to pay for themselves. The total cost had been close to NT$200,000, not to mention the suffering her mother had had to endure during the operation. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s every thought is devoted toward helping sentient beings; the Dharma methods the guru bestows are for our own good. All we have to do is listen and act accordingly.

Something else that was remarkable was the fact that the disciple’s mother had been intubated in the ICU off and on for nearly nine months, yet not once had she needed to have a tracheostomy. She was constantly in critical condition, but whenever her blood-oxygen level had fallen to 60 or her body had produced too much phlegm, she’d had to stop her breathing exercises and be re-intubated. Typically, doctors want to perform a tracheostomy on the patient three days after intubation so that they can more easily administer care and drain phlegm. The disciple’s paternal grandmother, in fact, had lain in a respiratory care ward on life support for two years after a tracheostomy, but that had been like living in hell for her. By the end, her feet and hands had atrophied and mildewed, and she’d died in a great deal of pain. At first, therefore, the family had been very much against the idea of having a tracheostomy done on the disciple’s mother. As more and more traces of blood began to appear in the phlegm that was extracted from her, however, the ICU’s resident doctor and nurses had persisted in their advice to allow it. They had informed them of the benefits it could bring a patient, including greater comfort and more convenient phlegm drainage, and this had begun to weaken the family’s resolve. The disciple’s mother was often writing that her throat hurt a lot, so one day the disciple’s father had called from the hospital to inform the disciple that he was going to tell her mother’s attending physician to go ahead and perform the tracheostomy, and that he had already persuaded her mother to receive it. She had replied by asking her father, “If it were you, would you want it done to you?” To her surprise, he had answered that he would.

The call had made her feel very sad, and she’d silently implored Grandmother Achi to protect her mother from more suffering. By the time she’d arrived at the hospital, she had discovered her infuriated father fuming that he was done talking to the attending physician, because the doctor had told him in no uncertain terms that he would not perform a tracheostomy on her mother. She had immediately been overcome with awe, and had later told a Dharma brother who was a doctor about the incident. She’d said that the doctor had probably not known why he had objected, because for a trained doctor, performing a tracheostomy was a simple matter of making an incision, and took no more than two or three minutes. In other words, no doctor would object to this; that was simply impossible. The disciple knew, therefore, that all of this had been thanks to the blessings of Dharma Protector Achi and the guru, which had lessened her mother’s suffering.

After two or three months of respiratory treatment, her mother’s intubation had finally been removed. The amazing thing was, she had recovered to the point of being able to breathe with the aid of a simple oxygen mask. The Dharma brother who was also a doctor had said that most people can only hold out for a couple of days after that sort of medical treatment, and that when she’d gone to see the disciple’s mother, she had been baffled as to how a patient could be so relaxed while wearing that breathing exercise apparatus. Furthermore, the Dharma brother had pointed out that with the administration of pure oxygen there is always the risk of brain damage to the patient, yet the disciple’s mother had not suffered any at all. Later, while chatting with her, the Dharma brother had gone on to say that at least ten miracles had happened to the disciple’s mother. Every time the disciple had thought her mother had been on the verge of passing away, in the blink of an eye her condition would somehow suddenly change for the better.

Nine months later, her mother had been transferred out of the intensive care unit. After that, however, she’d had frequent trouble breathing. This had made the family worry and feel very sad over all the medical torment she’d been subjected to. While still wearing the oxygen mask, she could not be brought back for in-home care. The disciple’s sister had reported to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche that their mother had been out of the ICU for ten days, yet still was suffering greatly, so she’d wanted to implore Amitabha Buddha to take her mother away. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had explained that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas would not take anyone away, and that to leave suffering behind, one must possess good fortune. Her sister had then thanked Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, because the tea and traditional Chinese medicine she’d obtained from the Glorious Jewel Group had helped her to become pregnant. Previously, she had tried artificial insemination to no avail. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had compassionately said, “You paid for it, so there is no need to thank me.”

Later, while researching ‘acute respiratory distress syndrome’ online, she had learned that the mortality rate of patients who were hospitalized with this condition was as high as 40%. Of the survivors, only 34% were released from hospital and able to return home without mishap, while 13% of patients had to be transferred to a different hospital for continued treatment. A further 12% were moved to rehab clinics for recovery, and 40% had to be moved into a nursing home for 24-hour care. The disciple’s mother had been discharged without any complications, and to this day was still living peacefully at home and doing quite well. She was even fully conscious. The disciple and her family were all extremely grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having saved her mother and reduced her suffering. However, as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had pointed out, a virus had entered her mother’s spine, so she still could not walk even after three years of rehabilitation. The guru had also said that she would be in a lot of suffering if she were to continue living like this. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is indeed a master of medicine, more perceptive than any doctor.

“The disciple regretted that she could not repent or make grand prostrations during the pujas on behalf of her mother due to still not being allowed to attend. Only now did she realize that her inability to listen to the Dharma, resulting from having lost the opportunity to participate in the pujas, had actually been caused by her own stupidity. She also now knew that she must cherish every opportunity she got to listen to the Dharma. Her older sister had begun to develop some problems, so in September of 2014 their father had encouraged her and her sister to implore to participate in the pujas. Although her sister had obtained permission from the guru, the disciple could feel how sincere their father was in his approval of her participation in the pujas. Immediately afterward, her father had also cheerfully agreed to let her participate in the puja group that would be going to Japan in December of last year. And so the disciple had quickly registered to seek an audience with the guru so that she could implore for the opportunity to repent and participate in the pujas, and had reported that not being allowed to attend had caused her a great deal of suffering. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had compassionately said that if all of her team members agreed, she would then be allowed to go to Japan and participate in the puja. She was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for giving her this opportunity, for allowing the whole team of Dharma brothers to go over and examine her to tell her where she was still in error, for causing her to look inward and inspect her attitude toward her Buddhist practice, and for helping her to affirm her aspiration to practice the Dharma.

After returning from the puja in Japan, she had sought another audience with the guru to repent for not having done her best to amend her behavior due to having been so busy chasing after her selfish desires. At the same time, she had reported to the guru that her father had given her permission to participate in the pujas. She had then implored Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to allow her to do so, as well as to repent. The guru had replied, “How do I know your father has given you permission to attend?” She had quickly explained that her father had written a letter expressing his approval, so the guru had allowed her to show the letter to the general director. The following week, she had again sought an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, reporting that she had done as the guru had instructed. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had looked at her with compassion and said, “Give the letter with your father’s permission to the Association, and then you may participate in the pujas, starting tomorrow.” She had immediately felt extremely grateful, and had told herself that she must do what she could to cherish this opportunity to practice Buddhism, because the specter of impermanence could show its face at any time.

She wished to repent for having only known how to implore for things ever since she had taken refuge. She had not been diligent in her practice and had continuously used up the guru’s good fortune, encumbered the guru, and remained unworthy of the guru’s teachings, for she had not acted in accordance with them. If she could practice with a true attitude of repentance and renunciation, then she would naturally stop having hindrances. Many of her causes, effects, and conditions would then change, and when her karmic retribution manifested, it would not be as harsh as it would otherwise. She would therefore not need to use up Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s good fortune, thus enabling the guru to benefit even more sentient beings. She repented for her foolishness, her extreme greed, and her failure to believe in cause, effect, and impermanence. She repented for only knowing how to rely on the guru.

His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche once taught, as is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, that “Every thought produced by an ordinary person generates karma and vice.” She repented for all of her wicked conduct, for never having had a deep belief in cause and effect, and for having eaten and harmed countless sentient beings. She repented for stealing her parents’ money while she was growing up and using it as her pocket money. She had also been guilty of embezzlement of public funds. She repented for having engaged of sexual misconduct while in pursuit of her own desires, and for having felt hatred against sentient beings while possessing an attitude of arrogance and not admitting to her faults. She repented for her unwillingness to recognize her mistakes, for being self-righteous, and for speaking falsely and harshly. Her carelessness had often led to afflictions in others; she had been frequently tardy and done things to waste the time of other sentient beings, and for all this she repented. She repented for having been unfilial. Ever since she was little, she had loved to argue with her parents; she’d been willful and rebellious, and had refused to listen to them. She repented for not having been diligent in her Buddhist practice, for not acting according to the guru’s teachings, and for being unworthy of the guru. She further repented for having dozed off during the pujas, thereby planting an evil seed that would cause her to return to this world as someone’s pet.

She would never forget when His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said that true filial piety was shown by diligently practicing Buddhism. Having encountered such a master practitioner in this lifetime—His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche—she must grasp this precious causal condition to follow the guru closely in her Buddhist practice and become liberated from life and death so that she would cease to reincarnate. Meanwhile, she was grateful for the opportunity to practice Buddhism provided by her mother’s illness, as well as to her father for having helped her to understand her faults. She also thanked all of the Dharma brothers who had helped her and informed her of her mistakes. Life is impermanent, and it is not easy to listen to the Dharma or encounter a guru. It was hard to imagine where she might have ended up had she not met the guru. Finally, she prayed that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would maintain good health, keep turning the Dharma wheel, and have eternal presence in the world, so that the Right Dharma would be spread far and wide and the Drikung Kagyu Lineage would flourish forever.

Next, the disciples and believers listened reverently to a Dharma recording of the teachings His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had bestowed on July 13th, 2003 regarding the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices.

That day a female disciple had run over to implore Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for some times off so that she could participate in a paid class called “Developing the Latent Self.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had told her that from then on, she didn’t need to keep coming to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center. The guru addressed the attendees: “If you want to develop your potential, it is better to come here and learn Buddhism. As soon as you think of yourself, your sense of self-attachment becomes very strong. People with a lot of attachments cannot learn Buddhism. However, people in society are extremely ignorant; they think any place that charges money must be good. If I were to change the way I do things and charge you for listening each series of Dharmas—let’s say, NT$200,000 for every three months’ worth—would you attend? You most certainly would, and you wouldn’t want to miss a single day, because you’d have paid good money for it. Thus, I am strict with you not because I want you to obey me; rather, I do not want you to break the precepts.

“If you disrupt the harmony of a Buddhist organization, then even if you were to engage in true practice while in retreat for twelve years where Buddhism is flourishing, you still would not achieve anything. If you have any problems, come and tell me about them, because I can judge clearly, while you cannot. When it comes to the matter at hand, I am objective and not swayed by emotion; you, on the other hand, are the other way around. Right now there are some people, including disciples both old and new, who are very dissatisfied with their team leaders. They say these team leaders are incompetent. Why haven’t I asked you to be a team leader? It is because you have issues. This behavior amounts to sowing discord, and means you are getting ready to disrupt the sangha. If a team leader has a few imperfections, then you can remind or even help him or her; don’t just stand to the side laughing in derision. That is not the way to act.

“In 2001, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang told me to organize a series of Vajra dance performances. The primary purpose of this was, first and foremost, to benefit Taiwan. I was very aware of all the disasters that were about to occur here, so it was our hope that the Vajra dance might help to lessen their frequency. Secondly, we hoped that these performances could bring the Drikung Kagyu’s name to the ears of everyone around Taiwan. Thirdly, I hoped that the Vajra dance tour would help His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang raise the money needed for construction of the library. When I first started making preparations, people both inside and outside of the Order did not lend much credence to this project, and some even poured cold water on it or stood to the side laughing derisively. Luckily, Dharma Protector Achi lent me a hand. I prayed every day to Dharma Protector Achi to help this Vajra dance tour to be successful enough to earn US$200,000 in proceeds to be donated to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. As it turned out, the dance tour ended up making US$200,000 after taxes—not a penny more, not a penny less. While I was organizing the Vajra dance troupe’s tour, some disciples thought I should listen to them and not to anyone else; they are not here anymore. This is because they thought themselves experts and were adamant in their opinions; as such, they were disrupting the sangha. All of my disciples have the right to share their opinions with me. Whether or not I take someone’s advice is completely my decision; it does not mean that any one disciple can speak for all the others. This is the only way I can prevent my disciples from quarreling and inciting disharmony. I knew very well that these disciples would leave, but I let them go; I could not allow their strong personalities to affect the group’s operations as a whole. Being a guru is a tough job; I have to take into account every aspect of the situation so as to prevent anyone from breaking the precepts.

“It is mentioned several times in the sutras that in future lifetimes, ordained monks would kill each other and fall into the Uninterrupted Hell, and that ordinary people would think only of what color their Dharma vestments were—red or yellow—and would build temples in which to make offerings, thus dooming themselves to ascend to the Heaven of the Thirty-Three Devas. Although these sangha themselves broke the precepts, they nevertheless were subjected to their karmic retribution and went to hell. The people of mundane world who make offerings to monastics based on whether they were wearing red or yellow vestments would ascend to the Heaven of the Thirty-Three Devas by way of fruition of their karmic effects, but they would not be able to go to Amitabha Buddha’s Pure Land. This is because the sangha they were making offerings to did not act in accordance with the Dharma, so they could not help them to get there. However, because of their offerings, they, too, were reborn in the Heavenly Realm. ‘Killing each other’ does not literally mean taking a monastic’s life; it also includes cutting off a monk’s wisdom life of propagating the Dharma. This is actually the worst thing one could do. Thus, the sutras contain frequent warnings to avoid criticizing people who have decided to become ordained. If they do a lot of things they shouldn’t, and sow a lot of evil causes, then the karmic effects will be theirs to face; it has nothing to do with you. Because they have decided to become monastics, however, their aspiration to do good deeds is stronger than yours; for this reason alone, they are worthy of your respect. Whether or not you have made any offerings to them is not important; the important thing is that their virtue is greater than yours. At least they possess the good fortune and causal condition to become monastics in this lifetime.

“Thus, you must not criticize any monastics, or else you will face a very severe karmic retribution. My occasional words with you should not be taken as criticism; I am simply telling you that if you do not act in accordance with the Dharma, then even if you decide to become monastics you still will not achieve any attainment. Therefore, whether you are monastics or lay practitioners, the fourfold assembly must all engage in diligent Buddhist practice to benefit sentient beings in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings and the principle of complete equality. If any monastics think they are better or higher in status than lay practitioners, then they are wrong. Likewise, lay practitioners who criticize monastics are also wrong. We should all see each other’s causes and conditions in an equal light. Whether yours led you to become a monastic or not, we should treat you equally, just as we should all other practitioners.

“Next the Dharma text mentions ‘harsh speech.’ Sentient beings are the object; ‘thoughts’ refers to a desire to voice unpleasant words; ‘activity’ means the above behavior; ‘completion’ means that these words have already been spoken; and ‘motives’ refers to the Three Poisons—especially hatred. There are three types of harsh speech. The first is direct harsh speech, or extremely vile verbal abuse that is voiced directly to someone, face to face. The second type is lateral harsh speech, which is often hidden behind flowery language and a smile. The third kind, indirect harsh speech, involves abetting someone else to speak evilly. You’ve all done this before, as harsh speech includes cursing others. Even if someone commits a heinous crime, we still must not curse that person.

“Take criminals on the ‘most wanted’ list, for example. A lot of people curse them, saying that these people need to be caught and put to death right away. This behavior counts as engaging in harsh speech. From the perspective of a disciple of the Buddha, if those criminals commit evil acts, they will face their own karmic retribution; it has nothing to do with us. As disciples of the Buddha, all we can do is pity them for committing evil due to not having the good fortune, causes, and conditions to listen to the Dharma. We should regard them as a Bodhisattva’s emanations here to warn us and our family members to refrain from greed, hatred, and ignorance throughout our lives. We should not verbally abuse them as if we were all high and mighty, or say that all bad people should be locked up; such utterances are considered harsh speech as well. We all do this a lot; we often say or echo such opinions without even knowing it. The same thing happens when someone is disliked by the rest of the group; many people feel annoyed and want to speak ill of that person. This happens a lot among people working at an office together. Many elderly ladies like to scold children by saying they will live a short life; this, too, counts as harsh speech. Don’t think it is okay to say these things because they are just catch phrases, because once you voice them, the seed sown by your harsh speech will yield a karmic retribution that will be yours to face alone.

“People with the karmic burden of having engaged frequently in harsh speech are bound to suffer from many illnesses in this lifetime. Those with high blood pressure and respiratory problems have definitely spoken harshly and divisively in the past. People who engage in a lot of harsh speech will gradually see the effects of their words manifest—but in themselves, not in others, for they are constantly cursing about the same things. Many elderly women like to curse and speak harshly; it doesn’t take much to get them to yell, ‘You ignorant fool!’ or, ‘You rascal!’ This is harsh speech, too. Many monastics continue to engage in harsh speech by saying things like, ‘Do you have any idea how to chant?’ or, ‘Can you even do this?!’ Unpleasant language is harsh speech, and this includes ridiculing or belittling people. If you deliberately say something that you know will hit below the belt or hurt someone in any way, then you are engaging in harsh speech. Direct harsh speech means cursing someone face to face. Lateral harsh speech means saying something that might seem like a joke but is actually a way of criticizing someone. Indirect harsh speech means getting someone else to speak harshly.

“A little while back, a certain person was dissatisfied with me and unconvinced that I should be allowed to sit the Dharma throne while he could not. He therefore got someone to write a letter of complaint to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. As it happened, the person writing the letter asked the advice of a khenpo of our Order, who dissuaded him from going through with it. He said, ‘First off, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is genuinely helping sentient beings and the Order. Secondly, if you write this letter, you will be breaking the precepts, so you must not write it.’ As you might imagine, it is very easy to engage in harsh speech. When that person listened to the other one complaining about me, he would have thought to himself, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and this other person started practicing Buddhism at the same time. If one of them is allowed to sit the Dharma throne but the other is not, then doesn’t that mean the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang is biased or has unwisely chosen the wrong one? I’ll just take a moment to mention this to the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. Many people do this sort of thing; they ‘just take a moment to mention’ to the guru that someone has done something bad. Such tattling counts as harsh speech, too.

“Some people, without saying anything outwardly harsh, use gentle words to infuriate others. This is harsh speech, too. For example, if you know ‘someone’ doesn’t like a certain person—call him ‘A’—and you purposefully say something provocative about A to ‘someone’ such as, ‘No, don’t misunderstand A; he’s really a good person,’ then the more you say, the angrier ‘someone’ will get. When faced with people who are easily provoked, many people do whatever they can to push their buttons. They might sarcastically flatter them, for example, knowing full well that such words are likely to make them mad. This happens a lot when there is friction between a woman and her mother-in-law; her husband’s sister might say something nice that is deliberately designed to pitch one against the other, for example. This sort of harsh speech is very bad.

“The worst form of harsh speech is that spoken against a holy person or one’s parents, and it carries the most serious consequences. I’ve reminded you before that if one of your parents or your guru does or says something that is not accepted by an outsider, and this outsider then criticizes your parent or guru in front of you, then you should just walk away and stop listening. If you listen, even if you are just trying to satisfy your curiosity or hope to argue in defense of your parent or guru, then you yourself are actually engaging in harsh speech, too. Thus, as I’ve told you in the past, whenever someone criticizes me, you don’t need to defend me, for the reason I just mentioned. The other reason is that perhaps I criticized others in a past life, so if someone returns the favor in this lifetime, then it is simply a manifestation of my karmic retribution. As such, it is a debt, and after I repay it I will be fine. If we constantly argue in defense of ourselves, our parents, or our guru, then that will only cause people to criticize even more. As such, you will have given them additional opportunities to speak harshly, and then you will actually be the one guiding the course of events. By this logic, therefore, we should not even listen to it. How bad, then, do you think it is to initiate criticism of your parents, a holy person, or your guru?

“Many people seek me out to tell me that their parents are not up to par. I often say to them, ‘You must not speak of your parents’ problems.’ This is because that is their business, not yours, and if you do, you will be breaking this precept. It’s just like how a lot of divorcees love to speak ill of their exes in front of their children, causing them to criticize their mother or father. All of this is harsh speech. Even if you are not divorced, if you as parents disagree about something, you should not criticize each other in front of your children. This is because whenever you say something negative about your partner, your children are sure to hear; after a while, they will begin to believe it, and then they will start to criticize their father or mother, too. This is why there are so many messed up kids these days; they have all come from homes like yours. Given a family in which there is a lot of friction between the father and mother, after a while of listening to them arguing, their child will think, My dad bullies my mom, or vice versa. As such, the child will have engaged in harsh speech. Where does homosexuality come from? It is cultivated by parents such as these! If a child’s mother is constantly saying negative things about his father, then this child naturally won’t like men. If his father continuously criticizes his mother, then the child won’t like girls and will be too afraid to get near them.

“Thus, parents should not speak of each other’s shortcomings or criticize each other in front of their children. When they are together, they should treat each other very nicely; when they have separated, they must not become foes. They should not speak harshly of each other back and forth; otherwise they might unwittingly cause their children to commit evil. As your parents’ children, you absolutely must not speak ill of them. Even if they really are at fault, you still should not say anything about it. There is such thing as public opinion in society, and the law of cause and effect is inescapable. As the Buddha’s disciples, if we don’t even have time to help them repent or plant the seeds of good fortune, then do you think they really need you all to open your mouths and criticize them? This society of ours is sick; it is plagued by troubled people who are constantly pointing out the faults of others without acknowledging their own. This has poisoned the next generation, and the information we are leaving them is all negative. From this day forward, as your parents’ children, it is enough for you to know about their behavior and all their issues. If you have the opportunity to change how you act, then do so. You can use the Dharma to gradually advise them to amend their ways; you do not, however, need to criticize their imperfections.

“Next I’d like to discuss ‘frivolous talk.’ Sentient beings are the object; ‘thoughts’ refers to the desire of sentient beings to be slack and to chat idly. You all love doing this. ‘Activity’ means pointless words and lyrics. If you want to understand why I scold you for singing karaoke, you have just heard the message! ‘Completion’ means that these words have already been spoken; and ‘motives’ refers to the Three Poisons—especially ignorance. There are three types of frivolous talk. The first is chanting non-Buddhist prayers, mantras, and so-on, and taking something that is not the Dharma to be the truth. This is called distorted frivolous talk. These days it seems that a lot of Buddhist temples are promoting the “White Robe Mantra.” This does not exist in the Tripitaka; it probably comes from an old Taoist incantation. Anything new, which does not appear in the Tripitaka, is false Dharma. The only exception is Tantra, but Tantric mantras are not transmitted openly or performed in public. In the past there was something called the ‘Red Sect,’ led by a married couple who ran a Buddhist center and printed a ‘sutra’ that was written by the followers of Yiguandao. Someone brought a copy to show me, and at a glance I knew it was a fake sutra. Frivolous talk includes all of these things, as well as chanting non-Buddhist prayers.

“Thus, as I’ve often said, if your family situation is such that you sometimes have no choice but to attend a non-Buddhist religious event, then while participating you must not move your lips and not be swayed. In other words, you must neither implore for anything from that religion’s deity nor hope to feel something. Best, however, would be to avoid such situations altogether. To what does the phrase, ‘taking something that is not the Dharma to be the truth,’ refer? It means anything that is not the Right Dharma. If it cannot help us to abandon suffering and obtain happiness in this lifetime, break away from life and death, or stop reincarnating, then it is false Dharma. Someone might come across as a Buddhist practitioner by speaking a bunch of Buddhist terms and completely looking the part, but if the theories and methods he or she preaches cannot actually help us to leave life and death behind, then they are not the Dharma. Thus, you should listen to the recording made of me speaking about the Ratnakuta Sutra, in which Shakyamuni Buddha taught sentient beings in the Age of Degenerate Dharma how to determine whether or not a guru has met the twenty prerequisites for practicing in accordance with the Dharma. If you do, you will understand how to recognize when a guru is preaching false Dharma.

“The phrase, ‘refrain from following the heart’s desires, being heedless, and engaging in idle chat,’ sets a very high standard. For monastics, this means that they must not speak of any mundane affair or anything to do with fame, profits, or the Eight Winds; doing so would be tantamount to engaging in frivolous talk. In many Buddhist temples, Dharma masters tell their believers things like, ‘You have great aspirations,’ or ‘Your appearance has changed.’ Frivolous talk includes expressions such as these, too. As I am always telling you, from the time I took refuge in His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang until the Grand Puja held in the Year of the Snake, not once did the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang utter a single word of praise about me, either in public or to my face. This is because His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang has very high standards when it comes to what it means to practice in accordance with the Dharma, and does not compliment anyone publicly until he or she has met them. If you were to openly praise a believer who had not kept the Five Precepts and achieved the Ten Meritorious Acts described by the Buddha, then you would be engaging in frivolous talk. Constantly telling such a person that he or she has great aspirations is frivolous talk, too. Having great aspirations has nothing to do with how much money you’ve donated; it hinges on whether or not you have genuinely aspired to the Bodhicitta, and whether you truly are aspired to renounce this mundane world. Only if you do are you worthy of praise; otherwise, praising you will cause you to become arrogant and haughty. Thus, monastics are generally better off not talking about these mundane affairs, and whenever you hear about them, you should feign ignorance. Lay practitioners should stop engaging in so much celebrity gossip.

“There was once an incident involving VCDs containing photos taken without their subjects’ permission. I was vigorously opposed to these, and forbade you to view them. This is because if you had, you would have broken all the precepts: The one against sexual misconduct, for starters. Voyeurism is a type of sexual misconduct. If you had spoken with others about the photos you’d seen, you would have broken the precept against frivolous talk. Now you understand how serious this is, right? Many people were curious as to why I wouldn’t allow them to look at such things; after all, they said, they would forget them right after seeing them. Is it really that easy though? What do you do if you can’t forget? Those seeds of depravity have already been planted quite securely in the memory of your Alaya Consciousness. According to the law of cause and effect that is written in the sutras, any behavior of ours that elicits negative behavior in others is sure to result in karmic retribution that will only go away if the thing we produced disappears from this earth. If it does not disappear, then the karmic retribution for those people is to be forever imprisoned in hell. Thus, anyone who engages in voyeurism, or the sale or exposition of such photos or videos, is going to go to hell. People who feel joyous after viewing them will go to hell, too, and those who utter criticism after looking at them will fall to even deeper levels of hell. We as humans in this world are already burdened with a heavy load of lustful desires; if we allow ourselves to be drawn to external temptations such as these, then those desires will grow stronger and stronger and our behavior will deviate accordingly.

“In Buddhism, it is called ‘immersion’ because that is how it works. Any seeds that have not been given to the proper causal conditions will neither sprout nor produce fruit. Although we carry habits and seeds of lust from lifetime to lifetime, and we get married and have sex, we must not allow this to affect us and cause us to reincarnate again, or sway us to have such thoughts in the moment of our death. As such, we should try our best to reduce the influence of things that happen around us so that we will not continue to accumulate their effects. Why is it written in the sutras that monastics should not even watch people fight? The fear is, that they might get drawn in, and that their minds will therefore become immersed in thoughts of fighting. As lay practitioners with the causal condition to get married, we cannot break this affinity in this lifetime. However, we must not add weight to such pursuits, especially when it comes to spying into people’s private lives. In doing so, we will have broken many precepts.

“Thus, we normally should keep our noses out of other people’s private business. After meeting someone, many tend to start out by asking about his or her job and so on. People from other countries often attach a great deal of importance to privacy, so they do not usually ask about something personal unless you bring it up first. We, on the other hand, tend to go ahead and ask. Whenever someone seeks an audience with me, I always begin by asking, ‘How can I help you?’ If the supplicant asks me a question then, I’ll answer; if not, I’ll keep my mouth shut. Even if I know of certain of his or her secrets, I still won’t mention them if the time isn’t right or if the supplicant does not have sufficient faith. You talk a lot and love to know about people’s private matters, so you are very liable to produce such thoughts.

“Frivolous talk includes gossiping about others and speaking nonsense. In terms of the Buddha’s standards, everything we say should be for the benefit of others. This does not mean helping them become rich or famous; it means helping them to learn Buddhism so that they can understand cause and effect, as well as what it means to renounce life and death. Any other words would be superfluous. You’d probably say, ‘Aw, practicing Buddhism is so boring; we can’t say anything! We’re not allowed to do this or that!’ First, though, you should understand what the word ‘boring’ means. What is it? It is when your mind cannot calm down and is constantly being seduced by external desires, also known as ‘dust.’ Why do you feel a need to watch television, read the newspaper, watch movies, and drink coffee? It is because you are unable to calm your mind. As such, you cannot go into retreat. When I went into retreat for a month, I was not allowed to utter a single word. If I had loved to gossip the way you do, then that retreat would have been very difficult to endure; even if no one had been there to converse with me, I probably would have taken to muttering to myself. How do you typically spend your days? If you love to talk a lot, you’d be better off spending more time chanting mantras and Buddhas’ names. Why are you so garrulous? Nothing you say has any meaning; it is all frivolous talk, and that includes when you sing songs.

“You’re sure to ask, ‘Don’t Tibetans sing all the time?’ The songs Tibetans sing—especially those sung in the monasteries—are all odes to the compassion of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and the various achievements of their gurus. They do not sing ‘You love me, I love you, I hate you, you hate me, it’s over between us, don’t break up with me,’ and so on. What pop song these days isn’t about such nonsense? People who are famous pop stars in this lifetime were most certainly practitioners in a past life who led their believers in reciting the sutras and chanting mantras; otherwise they would not be as trendy as they are today. However, in-between lifetimes they forgot who they were, so in this lifetime they were reborn as pop stars. Why do they sing these kinds of songs in this lifetime? It is because they had frivolous thoughts in their past lives, and they acted on them; as such, they were unable to forget their passion and lust, so those feelings have manifested in this lifetime through the songs they sing. Thus, if you sing karaoke very often, you will start to think you are actually some sort of diva. This is because our minds are very easily swayed by our environment.

“The mind of a true practitioner can transform his or her environment, but the opposite is true when it comes to the mind of an ordinary person. Whenever you go somewhere with an unsettled mind, you are sure to notice how comfortable or drab your surroundings are. Why is that? It is because your mind has been changed by its environment. If you go to sing at a karaoke bar, the atmosphere changes as soon as you dim the lights. If you continue to sing to that raucous music, all sorts of situations could arise. Many people think singing is a way to vent their emotions and express their thoughts. They are wrong! If they did not sing that particular song in the first place, they might not have even given rise to those thoughts. As soon as someone finishes singing, however, she might recall some guy wronged her. After she goes home, she’ll tear up her photo of him and throw it in the toilet. Some of our memories—so-called ‘seeds’—will not come into effect or cause us to act if we do not have the proper causal condition. There is a lot written in the sutras about singing and other such behavior, which also includes dancing. Why do you like to dance? It is because you can feel some comfort while holding someone in your arms. Other forms of exercise don’t involve holding anyone like that, so you don’t enjoy them.

“Why do we Chinese consider ourselves a nation of etiquette? It is because traditionally when we danced, we did it solo; people never used to press their bodies close to one another. Now things are different. I was young once, too; even I liked slow-dancing to ballads back then. However, as disciples of the Buddha, we must discontinue such behavior. You absolutely must not feel bored at not being able to do this or that, or wonder what the point of living would be if it only involved going to work, listening to the Dharma, and getting scolded by me. Actually, in addition to those reprimands, you also get to listen to my jokes and stories from my life. Those might not be very colorful, but at least they are quite complex, and together they spin a yarn of how I became cultivated.

“I used to sing, watch movies, and dance, too; unlike the Bhikkhus and Bhikkhunis, I have experienced those things. Back then it genuinely felt as if such activities could carry one’s heart away, change one’s attitude, and completely transform one’s behavior and way of thinking. Thus, schools in Taiwan and Hong Kong were correct when they used to forbid students from organizing proms and parties. Back then people disagreed with that rule, and they often wondered what was so bad about having a prom. As a result, they decided to hold such parties whether they were allowed to or not. Now that you are learning Buddhism, you understand why it really was wrong for schools to hold parties and proms; it is because in such an environment is it very easy for children to learn bad behavior. Thus, if you as a parent still have such habits—listening to love songs and telling your children to stay home for dinner, whereas you go out with your husband for a commemorative dance—then how can you convince your children not to dance? This is why I don’t dance or sing karaoke anymore; it is so that I can set a good example for my children and teach them not to do such things.

“A few days ago a female disciple came seeking an audience with me. Because she had a cold, she was wearing a face mask. After kneeling in front of me, however, she pushed the mask aside and coughed a few times. Perhaps she thought that by giving me her cold she would be cured. This disciple then reported that she was planning on participating in a self-improvement event for work on the day of the puja. In other words, she wanted to go out and play. I said that she could call in sick and not attend the event; after all, she was already ill. She replied, however, that she could not take any sick leave. That being the case, from now on she won’t be allowed to listen to the Dharma anymore, either.

“Sometimes people are just so strange. She thought that if she did not participate in that self-improvement event, then later on things would be awkward between her and her coworkers, so she thought it would be unreasonable for her not to go. Perhaps she was of the opinion that what she needed most was to lead them in song, so she had to go. I am not telling you that you have to completely ditch all of your favorite hobbies; I am simply pointing out that listening to the Dharma is more important than anything else. Actually, lamas like to play, too; now and then they will chase each other around a bit for some harmless fun. When people say that frolicking and joking around is bad, they are referring to engaging in such behavior during the pujas. This is especially true if it keeps you from attending. For example, if you went out to play during the two-day puja presided over by Drubwang Rinpoche because you had promised a friend that you would, then you broke the precept against frivolous talk. Many people joke around or do a bit of roughhousing at work in order to express their need to lighten up, but all such behavior is improper.

“As I’ve mentioned before, you should stop talking about our president and criticizing this and that. The reason Taiwan has the government and the president that it has today is that we don’t have enough good fortune. You all know that Liu Bang started out as an unlearned street hoodlum, and when he began the country, he merely set out three laws as a provisional agreement between the new government and the people. However, he ended up doing a great job as a ruler. He used the Taoist approach of ‘ruling through inaction’—that is, he let people do what they wanted, as long as they did not break any of those three laws. Nevertheless, the Han Dynasty he founded thrived. What is the moral of the story? It is that the people of that era had good fortune, and this led to the appearance of such an enlightened leader.

“Thus, your tendency to criticize officials or other figures falls under the scope of frivolous talk, too. Even a general’s success or failure while leading troops into war has to do with good fortune, causes, and effects. From a fortunetelling point of view, it is related to one’s luck. Actually, if you read history—of both China and of other nations—you will see that many wars are won in a state of chaos and under bizarre circumstances. Another example is how the police will often catch certain criminals that were unaccountably sent straight to their door, while others cannot be apprehended no matter what the police do. Thus, everything is the result of causes, effects, and good fortune. This includes criticizing your superiors. If you have good fortune, then you will naturally find a good boss; if you can’t, then this has to do with your lack of good fortune—not with how bad that person might be. Therefore, criticizing one’s superiors in front of one’s subordinates is wrong; it is a form of frivolous talk. However, these days no one accepts that idea; people all like to blame their boss or government for not doing a good job. All of such thoughts are inaccurate.

“Where would we be without a government? Whether you think it is doing well or poorly, at least the government does a lot of things for us. For example, while Iraq had no government, wasn’t it in a state of chaos? Everyone said the Iraqi government was bad, but what was the situation after it was gone? In other words, whether your superiors are doing a good job or not, it is not your place to criticize. If you don’t like it, you can leave or quit working there, but you must not constantly argue back and forth that it would be better if your boss did this or that. If you possessed good fortune, then you would long ago have been promoted to your boss’s position. Likewise, if you had good fortune, you would not have this sort of boss; instead you would have a much better leader to follow. With sufficient good fortune, causes, and conditions, you would have been born with a better lot in life. This life is ruled by collective karma, and you cannot change it; nor does it require your criticism.

“Frivolous talk includes speaking about such things as pop stars, models, and beauty pageants. You women especially like to criticize or praise the way a person dresses. Yesterday I saw a fun news item in which it was reported that some people wait in line from 4:00 a.m. until the next morning just to be able to eat a NT$1,000 steak for free. If you asked these same people to listen to the Dharma, they wouldn’t line up even if you gave them NT$1,000. Do you believe me? Thus, greed really is a terrible thing.

“I’ve just been speaking of frivolous talk of the mundane world; now I will touch on the topic of teaching the Dharma to non-vessel people: These are the real sort of frivolous talk. Here it should be said that teaching Tantra to people who are not qualified to learn it is frivolous talk. Thus, when those other Orders these days are out there propagating Tantra around Taiwan, they are breaking this precept, because they should not speak of Tantra in public. I remember one year when His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang gave believers an opportunity to ask questions. One of them asked, “Does qigong exist in Tantrism?” The Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang heard this believer quite clearly, but did not answer; instead, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang turned around and ignored him. This was because the believer was not a Dharma vessel, so even though the believer knew that word, the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang would not explain it to him.

“Thus, some disciples have followed me for many years without ever hearing me teach Tantra. To be honest, you still are not Dharma vessels, so I cannot speak of it to you; if I did, I would be breaking the precept. For a practitioner, not engaging in frivolous talk means not even saying anything that is not in accordance with the Dharma. Many years ago I implored His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang to propagate the Dharma in Zhongdian, Yunnan. After learning of this, a certain believer hurried over to Kunming from Shanghai, and through me was able to implore for an audience with the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang. Afterward this person made an offering of RMB10,000, which in the Mainland at the time was an absolutely enormous sum of money. He then fished out a couple of name cards from his wallet and asked His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang for a recommendation on whom it would be good to do business with. The Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang just sat there without answering, and did not even bother looking at the believer. If it had been you, you would have muttered, He took my money, so why doesn’t he answer? How uncompassionate! You would have thought that doing business of utmost importance, and that it was strange that His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang had not even spoken at all.

“After witnessing the awkwardness this believer had caused, I explained briefly to him, ‘His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang practices only in accordance with the Dharma, and is a practitioner who has achieved attainment. You asked a question that had nothing to do with Buddhism, so the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang basically won’t answer you. Furthermore, in asking which person would be better to do business with, don’t you realize that you are putting His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang in the position of having to criticize one over the other? In doing so he would be breaking the precepts. Thus, the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang will not answer you; this is the way of a true practitioner.’ For another example, when some people come to me seeking advice and I feel that their questions are not related to Buddhism, I just ask them to leave. I am blunter than His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang; I won’t even accept their offerings—otherwise you might go out there and say I took your money but refused to speak to you. In this way, I’ve saved you from committing a bit of evil.

“As I have said in the past, if one didn’t have what it takes to practice Buddhism, then Drubwang Rinpoche would have completely ignored this person. With my own eyes I’ve seen Drubwang Rinpoche return money from offerings. You are quite fortunate in being able to follow me; if you were with His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang or Drubwang Rinpoche, you would not know whether to laugh or cry. I at least give you reasons for some of what I do. Thus, if you are not a Dharma vessel, then neither I nor the other gurus would teach you Tantra; we wouldn’t even speak to you about mantras. Many people regard mantras such as those bestowed after they participate in an empowerment puja or the Ten Short Mantras popular in Exoteric Buddhism these days as Tantra. A lot of practitioners of Exoteric Buddhism even take mantras from the Tantra section of the Tripitaka and give them to their disciples, claiming they are Tantras, but this sort of thing is frivolous talk.

“The mantra of any Buddha’s or Bodhisattva’s yidam must be orally transmitted by one’s guru. A guru can do this by first being empowered in that yidam and then being authenticated as qualified to perform the four major Dharma methods benefiting sentient beings in Tantra (subduing, increasing, placating, and vanquishing). This does not merely involve, as you might think, a daily chanting of the Ten Short Mantras, the Rebirth Mantra, or the mantras from the Tantra section of the Tripitaka and then thinking you are practicing Tantra, for that would be incorrect. The most fundamental concept of practicing Tantra is that one’s actions, speech, and thoughts must be in accordance with Tantra. Thus, the Dharma method of visualization is not as simple as thinking about the Buddha’s appearance; one must cultivate the generation stage and the completion stage before one can enter the Outer Tantra.

“These days our Buddhist community in Taiwan has gone right off the rails. If you are going to practice Risshū, then you should diligently practice the precepts; don’t copy down a bunch of mantras for your disciples to chant and mislead them into thinking they are practicing Tantra. If you are practicing Zen, then you can’t do anything but hide in a cave and cultivate the Dharma; you should not even receive and teach believers. Those of the Pure Land Sect should only chant the Buddha’s name; they should not chant the Ten Short Mantras or anything else. If you plan to cultivate from the Avatamsaka Sutra, then you must immediately decide to become ordained, for it has its rules, too. Only in Tibetan Buddhism are the various Dharma methods all integrated and then transmitted respectively by individual gurus.

“I used to chant the Ten Short Mantras and the Great Compassion Mantra, too, but I always thought it strange that they had no effect no matter how much I chanted them, and I sometimes wondered who had deceived me. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas would never deceive us, and any mantra that can be written is most certainly useful. Why didn’t chanting them work? First of all, it was because I was not keeping my actions, words, and thoughts in accordance with Tantra, and because I had not cultivated the generation and completion stages. A second reason was that I had not received empowerments. Finally, I had not obtained blessings from lineage gurus. Thus, these days Buddhism in Taiwan is in a state of total chaos, including anything and everything like some sort of supermarket. It is absolutely terrible! There are so many people learning Buddhism, yet only a very few achieve attainment.

“Therefore, frivolous talk includes when Dharma masters or gurus casually transmit a mantra, too. Don’t think that just because the Great Compassion Mantra is so universally known it means that everyone can practice the Avalokiteshvara Dharma method just by chanting it. Actually, it is written very clearly in the Great Compassion Dharani that the way to practice is to go into retreat, stop eating meat, stop having sex, and chant within a certain period of time until one has become attuned with the Bodhisattva. Thus, it is useless when you just chant the mantra seven to ten times during your morning or evening prayers; this will merely help you to form a connection with Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara so that you can return to this world in the next life, nothing more. However, at present you would not be able to achieve the state that is mentioned in the Great Compassion Dharani.

“The five-colored vajra knot everyone is given in Tibetan Buddhism nowadays is based on this Dharma text. After a guru chants the mantra to the knots made of five-colored thread, they are given to believers to wear. This is a practice done in Tibetan Buddhism, not Exoteric Buddhism, and is written in the sutra. Actually, many things are done with great practicality in Tibetan Buddhism.

“These days a lot of people break the precept against frivolous talk without even knowing it. Here it is written very clearly that Tantra cannot be taught to anyone not qualified to learn it. This qualification does not refer to one’s knowledge or status; rather, it has to do with whether or not the person has become a Dharma vessel. In Kunming there was a man who once tried to transmit a mantra to me. At the time I had only recently taken refuge in His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, so I did not yet understand the severity of this sort of transgression. However, just before this person opened his mouth to speak the mantra, because I had received transmission of the Acalanatha from the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, I felt the yidam inside me. I suddenly transformed into Acalanatha’s likeness and rose to my feet. As soon as the man saw me like this, he said he wasn’t going to transmit the mantra anymore, and immediately afterward I felt Acalanatha leave me. In this case the man transmitting the mantra was in error, but because I was a Dharma vessel, the yidam inside me blocked that person so that I could not hear him. As you can imagine, one should never listen to any Dharma in such a manner that is not in accordance with the Dharma; doing so is quite serious. Those who transmit or listen to the Dharma involving non-Dharma vessels are truly guilty of breaking the precept against frivolous talk; this is a much more serious transgression than engaging in any sort of mundane frivolous talk.

“Thus, before we learn Buddhism from a guru, we should understand his background. By this I am not referring to his family background; I mean the path he has taken in his Buddhist practice. From whom did the guru learn? What is his Dharma lineage? All of this must be laid out very plainly, unlike some people these days who suddenly appear, claiming to be someone’s reincarnation or a living Buddha. That is a major example of false speech, and is forbidden. A meritorious guru is someone like His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang who has made it very clear where he learned the Dharma and who his teachers were. For example I tell very clearly you who my guru is and how I learned Buddhism. Only such a guru practices in accordance with the Dharma. Whether or not he has achieved a high level of fruition has nothing to do with you, because no matter how well he is cultivated, he cannot transmit his achievements to you. Whether or not he has achieved the level of fruition you have expected will not have any effect on your Buddhist practice, either; the important thing is whether or not the guru can clearly show his lineage. If the Dharma he speaks does not stray from the Right Dharma spoken by the Buddha, then he is qualified to transmit it to you—as long as you are a Dharma vessel able to listen to it. We must clearly comprehend the interaction that happens between a person speaking the Dharma and one who receives it, as well as their identities and backgrounds. Only then can we keep from breaking the precepts and understand what sort of attitude we should have when receiving transmission of the Dharma.

“The most serious sort of frivolous talk is when one implores the Dharma from within a lax frame of mind. Now do you understand why I scold you whenever you yawn or nod off while listening to the Dharma? Why do you do those things? It is because your minds are lax; you are not focused on listening, and so you yawn. You feel bored because you think you’ve already heard everything I have to say; by feeling this way, however, you have engaged in the worst sort of frivolous talk. Whenever anyone is speaking the Dharma to you from the Dharma throne, it is not just you who are there listening; your ancestors and karmic creditors from past lives are present as well. Whenever you listen, you are repaying your debt and accumulating good fortune. However, as soon as you stop listening, that good fortune drains away immediately.

“Therefore, whenever you start yawning and dozing off, I get you to stand up and run laps, because I love you and care for you, and I don’t want you to break the precepts. Actually, what business is it of mine if you yawn or fall asleep? I should just keep on speaking and let you listen as you will, because in Vajrayana Buddhism we don’t just listen with our ears; we pay attention with our hearts, fully and completely. If you always have your mind on other things and listen with a discriminating attitude while imploring the Dharma, then you will naturally yawn and grow sleepy. As I’ve told you in the past, whenever I listen to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang speak the Dharma, I neither yawn nor doze off. Sometimes the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang speaks in Tibetan, and I cannot understand him; when that happens, how is it that I can sit completely still without yawning? It is because my mind is not in a state of chaos; it is focused. To describe it in greater depth, I listen from within the state of Samadhi.

“During the Grand Puja held in 2002, everyone knew full well that I had not slept the night before. The venue was very hot that day, but did you even once see me shut my eyes, let alone yawn or doze off? I sat up there from start to finish, completely still as I listened to the Dharma. I was able to do this because I understood very well that I was not the only one there listening to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang speak the Dharma; many sentient beings had come as well. My motionlessness naturally enabled them to remain still, too. Your continuous state of disorder—amusing your children, snacking, nodding off—is a sign of a chaotic mind, and means you have committed the worst form of frivolous talk.

“If we mix in other words with our morning and evening prayers and mantras, then this, too, is frivolous talk, and will prevent us from achieving attainment. Many grandmothers and mothers interrupt their mantra chanting to admonish young children, or to call out for someone to answer the phone; these are also instances of frivolous talk. Most Dharma masters would say that such things aren’t a big deal, and that it’s enough just to be chanting the mantras.

“During your morning and evening prayers, the first thing you should do is to let go of all of your personal affairs. If the phone rings, then even if the person on the other end has a problem, that fact does not change whether you answer the phone or not. If it is something important, then he or she will call back. If you overcook the rice because you were chanting mantras, then that is your fate; after all, who told you to try to save time by cooking rice right before chanting? If you are busy planning it so that you plug in the rice cooker when you start your prayers and the rice is finished just as you finish, then your thoughts will be scattered, and it would be surprising if you didn’t mix in other words with your evening prayers. While chanting in a retreat hut, we not only must not speak; we can’t even sneeze or cough, or else we have to start over from the beginning. I see you sitting there, yawning all day; you chant a line from a mantra, then scratch yourselves here and there. If you meet the conditions outlined in the Dharma text, then you are sure to achieve attainment. You have not achieved attainment, so that means you have not yet met them! Do you think I’m just talking to hear myself talk? Do you think it doesn’t matter, and that the Buddha and your ancestors will forgive you? It has nothing to do with the Buddha or your ancestors, or with me; your cultivation or lack thereof is your own business. Nevertheless, the Buddha and your guru will tell you methods of attainment, if you will listen.

“Some people, in the middle of chanting mantras, have thoughts such as, My hubby still hasn’t called me back, and then you put a hold on your prayer beads. You’ll stop chanting, and then you’ll resume once you’ve made that phone call, but by then it’s already too late; you’ve wasted your time. If you commit to chanting three thousand times, then you must do so without any interruption. If you think that is too long to chant, then shorten it a little; start with chanting the mantra five hundred times, and then gradually increase from there. You absolutely must not start out by forcing yourself to chant it three thousand times a day with the hope of completing one million chants as soon as possible; don’t do that. Start out slowly, because as soon as you have mixed in other words with your chanting, and even if you chant with visualization, you are not doing it with a single mind; as such, your chanting is not pure. As a result, the mantra you chant will not produce any energy.

“Breaking the precept against frivolous talk during group Dharma activities is especially heinous. Many people appear to be genuinely chanting during the pujas, but then they make a joke to the people next to them and cause them to laugh and lose their concentration. This is very serious, as it ruins the merits that would have been gained by all the sentient beings practicing the Dharma. This is especially bad if you are a monastic, because you have turned your back on the hopes of your forebears. Besides telling jokes, frivolous talk also includes trying to rush through your recitations or stopping when you are only halfway finished, as well as any disputes that might arise before, during, or after a Buddhist activity as a result of your differences of opinion. What’s more, if you only read the words of the Dharma without comprehending their meaning, then you are not diligently reciting it; as such, not only have you committed a transgression, but you have also ruined others’ merits. For example, whenever you chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, if you only know how to chant the sounds without knowing what they mean, then you are welcome to listen to a Dharma recording of me explaining them called ‘The Avalokiteshvara Dharma Method.’ In that recording I spoke in detail about the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, because I wanted you to understand its significance so that you would chant it diligently.

“When I say ‘ruining the merits of others,’ who are these ‘others’? They are your karmic creditors. The reason you are able to come here to listen to the Dharma, chant mantras, and recite sutras is that your karmic creditors want you to succeed and are helping you instead of hindering you. If you are not diligent, however, and take a casual approach—by yawning and nodding off, for example—then not only are you at fault, but you have also harmed your karmic creditors and major benefactors. Thus, we must adjust our minds while listening to the Dharma not for our own good, but for the good of sentient beings. In this way I hope you will be a bit more careful and respectful.

“Therefore, we should practice with diligence and without speaking too much. This does not mean you should remain completely silent; it just means to talk less. The karmic retribution for breaking the precept against frivolous talk is quite horrific, so don’t think that you’ll be fine after you’ve said something. This is true if you even jokingly criticize the way someone chants mantras. For example, if you say someone’s voice sounds ugly like a cow when he or she chants, then you will be born as a cow in your next life, for that sort of jest falls under the scope of frivolous talk, too. You should not laugh at other people no matter how they sound or how poorly they might pronounce a mantra’s syllables, because in doing so you are engaging in frivolous talk. Whatever way in which you mock a person like that will decide your karmic retribution for you; if you say a person sounds like a chicken while chanting, for example, then you will reincarnate as a chicken in the next lifetime.

“We should be careful about what we say. In the phrase guayu, or ‘speaking few words,’ the word ‘few’ means refraining from saying anything unnecessary to sentient beings that isn’t of benefit to them. If we have a sense of humor and want to make a joke, we must not do it to ridicule or criticize anyone. It is okay to put things in a humorous light if it will help people to realize how they should change, but you must not do it to point out their shortcomings or open old wounds, because that is not good. Of all our actions of body, speech, and mind, verbal transgressions are the easiest to commit. For this reason, we often say that loose lips are the root of all karma and vice. If we are not careful and do not keep ourselves from saying too much, then we will have many problems. One small slip-up really can result in another person’s death or cause a lot of harmful things to happen.

“There was once a person who spoke ill of a woman’s husband; as a result, this woman poisoned herself to death. The instigator had thought she was doing her friend a favor by telling her to break up with her abusive husband; she had hoped her friend would be able to end a very unhappy marriage. As a result, the woman could not see a way out, so had poisoned herself. Who was the real culprit in this situation? It was the one who didn’t keep her mouth shut. Even though she was the cause of her friend’s death, she just kept on saying, ‘Could she really see no way out? Was she really that stupid? If she’d just left her husband, she would have been fine.’ She still says such things, so has committed a very grave evil. Thus, before we open our mouths, we must consider our words very carefully. You must not say, ‘I just blurted it out without thinking; I didn’t mean what I said.’ If you did not mean it, you should not have said it; actions speak louder than words. If you don’t know what to say, then just keep quiet. You absolutely must not say ‘I just blurted it out,’ as that is a way of avoiding responsibility and blame. Thus, when it comes to our body, speech, and mind, we must be especially careful about what we say. You cannot make any mistakes, because as soon as you misspeak, you could be setting off an entire chain of events.

“One time a person came to implore me to bestow blessings upon his brother, who had fallen ill. It was obvious to me that his brother was going to die, so I gave him a nectar pill. The first thing out of his mouth was, ‘My brother is too sick to eat this!’ I immediately took the pill back from him, because the words he’d uttered had broken his causal condition. Many people are apt to make mistakes such as this. People always have reasons behind whatever they do or say, or whatever they choose to give you. You might ask, ‘Why are you giving me this pill? How is it administered?’ Many people think themselves very intelligent, and point out that the patient won’t be able to swallow it due to being intubated. As soon as they refuse, the causal condition is gone—it is broken immediately!

“When His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang instructed me to go into retreat for the first time, if I had hemmed and hawed or asked the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang if I could put it off a month or shorten its duration a bit, then I would have been refuse this causal condition. Instead, I gave an immediate and concise answer: “Alright.” At the time I did not even know when I would be going or where I would get the money to pay for it, but I knew that any instructions His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang gave me must be for my own good, so I did not feel the need to dwell on those things. You all have the tendency, whenever I tell you to do something, to first wonder whether you can accomplish it; you then try to explain. Thus, speech is by far the most important element in life. You absolutely must not say the wrong thing, or speak wantonly, or talk random nonsense. If we can achieve this, then we will have advanced a step further in our Buddhist practice.”

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Updated on August 29, 2015