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

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presided over the auspicious Great Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness of the Drikung Kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Taipei. A total of 1,298 people were in attendance, including disciples from such places as Japan, Canada, Germany, America, Mainland China, and Taiwan. Under the blessings and protection of Lord Jigten Sumgön, the lineage gurus, the Three-Grace Root Guru His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang, and Dharma Protector Achi, the puja was a pure and perfect success. Its immeasurable merits helped countless sentient beings, and all of the attendees were filled with Dharma joy.

Before the puja commenced, a disciple expressed gratitude to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having bestowed upon her this opportunity to share an account of how the guru, who was no different than the Buddha, had compassionately saved her family. She also talked about the auspicious blessings contained in the book, Happiness and Suffering.

In July of 2013 she had asked her teacher, “Would studying Tibetan or Sanskrit help one learn Buddhism?” Her teacher had responded, “Not at all!” He had then asked what her motive was for learning Buddhism. She’d answered, “To become liberated from life and death.” Upon hearing this, her teacher had advised her to purchase a copy of Happiness and Suffering and to browse the stories posted on the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center’s website telling of how the guru had helped sentient beings. Her teacher had also pointed out that while learning Buddhism one must be sure to follow a meritorious guru. Completely unbeknownst to her, at this moment, her life had already begun to change. The first time she had seen the front cover of Happiness and Suffering, she had felt a special and indescribable sensation. The sight of His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Dharma photo had filled her heart with joy and a deep conviction that this practitioner, who appeared so dignified in the photo, must be the guru of her teacher whom she admired so much. Later she had read the chapter entitled “Fake Good-Person,” in which His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche teaches that “All suffering arises from committing evil acts.” It had suddenly dawned on her that all of the physical illnesses and mental anguish she had experienced continuously, ever since she was little, had resulted from having harmed countless sentient beings, thereby creating untold amounts of evil karma. She’d immediately decided to begin eating as a true vegetarian instead of just doing so partially or when it suited her convenience.

A month later, during her first audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the guru had compassionately asked, “How may I help you?” She had gotten up the courage to answer, “I would like to learn Buddhism from Your Eminence.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had replied, “Aren’t you already practicing?” Startled, she’d thought to herself, This is my first visit to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, and I haven’t even reported to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche before this; how could he know? The guru had then asked, “Aren’t you studying the Great Treatise?” She had nodded her head and admitted that she was.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had then compassionately said, “Buddhist texts are divided into sutras, vinayas, and sastras. At the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, we engage in true practice, in the proper sequence and in strict accordance with to the sutras expounded by The Buddha. Sastras are for monastics to study. Learning the Dharma here at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center and studying the Great Treatise are two completely different paths of Buddhist cultivation; if you run back and forth in an effort to learn both, then your mind will become confused and you will not learn anything at all. Go home and think about this long and hard. Once you have decided, wait ten days and then return to see me. I will be waiting for you.” She had immediately felt very ashamed of how disrespectful and greedy had been her desire to follow both paths simultaneously. She and her teacher had not understood why Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had told her to wait ten days to seek another audience rather than fourteen days, but they had believed that the guru must have a good reason behind everything he said. Only later did the disciple realize that those ten days had been counted from the time that she would decide once and for all to stop going to the Thursday classes being held on the Great Treatise. She praised Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having known with such crystal clarity even of her attendance at those weekly study sessions. The guru truly was amazing.

Two weeks later, she had again sought an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, during which the guru had asked her why she wanted to learn Buddhism. She’d replied that life was full of suffering, so she wished to leave it behind. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “This is not the answer I wanted to hear.” She had added, “In the past I have continuously committed wrongdoings and made mistake after mistake; I can neither escape this evil pattern nor find relief from my suffering.” The guru had reiterated, “This is not the answer I wanted, either.” She had obstinately persisted with some more nonsensical reasons. A third time, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “These, too, are not the answers I wanted to hear! Go home and read Happiness and Suffering twenty times.” She was grateful for His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate teachings, for they had allowed her to discover how selfish, self-serving, and self-righteous she had been to the core. She’d only paid attention to her own suffering and turned a blind eye, with total indifference, to that of other people and sentient beings.

Afterward she had returned home and commenced to follow Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s instructions. Each time she finished reading the book, she had written down her motives for learning Buddhism; however, her answers had always been different. She’d originally hoped to take a single month to read the book twenty times through, but in the end this had taken her half a year. After the twentieth read, she had sought another audience with the guru. This time her mind had not been full of a heap of answers; she had just had a firm realization that the most important thing to do in this lifetime was to follow Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, who was no different from the Buddha. After having prepared for six months, she had sought an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to implore for permission to participate in the general pujas held every Sunday as well as the Chod Pujas. Without asking any further questions, the guru had compassionately exclaimed, “Go register!” She was grateful for His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious teachings. As the guru had said, one can only help oneself to become liberated after thoroughly understanding the true meaning of happiness and suffering, and then practicing with great diligence.

Four years previously, her father had experienced atrial fibrillations that had led to arterial thrombosis, which had eventuated in a cerebral stroke. One third of the arteries in the right side of his brain had been obstructed, causing it to become so inflamed and swollen that it was putting severe pressure on his brain stem. Regarded as the vital center, the brain stem had become seriously twisted and deformed to the point that he’d had difficulty breathing and fallen into a coma. In her ignorance, the disciple had insisted on listening to the doctors’ advice that they should go ahead with open brain surgery to alleviate the pressure on her father’s brain stem in an effort to save his life. At the time, she had also ignored her mother’s emotional collapse, which had occurred after hearing about the emergency operation to be performed on her husband’s brain, as well as the attending physician’s constant warnings: That it would be a very, very long road ahead! After the open brain surgery, her father had finally come out of his coma. Although he had not been left in a vegetative state, he had lost all motor function in the left half of his body, become temporarily blind, and forgotten how to swallow or speak. During the half year that he remained in hospital, her father had continuously done swallowing exercises, speech therapy, and physical rehabilitation, but all of this had brought him relentless agony and turned his life into an unending nightmare. To this day her father still could not accept why he had suddenly, and for seemingly no reason at all, lost complete control over an entire half of his body, and so he had abandoned himself to despair. Her father, who had always been a very gentle soul, had become rude and unreasonable, malicious-tongued, and even prone to exhibit violent behavior. All of the hired caregivers who had looked after him, whether they were Taiwanese or foreign nationals, had been unable to stay long and had eventually chosen to leave. In four years’ time the family had gone through more than ten of them. Then, right when her father’s mental condition was at its worst, the disciple had met with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

While she was reading Happiness and Suffering for the seventeenth time, her father had been treated for bipolar disorder. His anti-anxiety medication, however, had exacerbated the pain in his foot, and no amount of painkillers, sleeping pills, or tranquilizers had been able to stop him from screaming out in agony. She and her family had taken turns massaging the foot for twenty-four hours straight, yet had been unable to alleviate his pain. Though she had not yet completed the task set forth by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche—to read Happiness and Suffering twenty times—she had gotten up the courage to seek an audience with the guru to help her father. That was her fourth time meeting with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Upon seeing the guru, she had felt extremely ashamed; she’d been lazy, disrespectful, and had not completed the task he had given her. That day neither her father nor any other family members had accompanied her to seek an audience with the guru in person. As she reported her father’s condition to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the guru had very compassionately asked, “Aren’t you reading Happiness and Suffering every day?” She had nodded her head and said, “Yes.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “That book contains Dharma photos of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang and of me. Each time you finish reading Happiness and Suffering, if you dedicate those merits to your father, then he will obtain blessings from the Drikung Kagyu lords, the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, and myself.” That evening she had returned home late, and her father had actually already gone to sleep. The next morning she’d asked him whether his foot was in pain or not. To her surprise he had answered, “My foot stopped hurting last night. I slept very well.” As an ordinary person, she had truly been unable to imagine His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s great ability to benefit sentient beings across all boundaries. She was extremely grateful to the guru for having compassionately blessed her father so that he had not had to put up with such excruciating foot pain from then on.

After seeking seven audiences with the guru, she had finally taken refuge in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche on July 20th of last year (2014). That day her father had met with the guru for the first time; her mother and younger sister had accompanied them as well. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had compassionately asked, “How may I help you?” Her mother had implored the guru to bestow blessings upon the disciple’s sick father. Unable to stand to watch sentient beings suffer, and without any further ado, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had immediately used the vajra to bless her father. Her mother had been moved beyond words by the guru’s immense show of compassion. Two weeks later, when the disciple had sought an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for the eighth time, her father had agreed to come with her so that he could thank the guru for his blessings. Her mother had come as well, and had implored for permission to participate in the pujas. That day, however, her father had chucked a giant hissy fit as soon as they entered the Buddhist Center. He had shouted that he wanted to lie on the ground instead of remain seated in his wheelchair, and that he was tired of waiting and wished to go home. Her father’s behavior and demeanor had been no less irascible than he had been while at home or in the hospital, and this utter lack of manners had revealed his total disrespect for the pure and solemn Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center.

As they had come before His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, her father had finally calmed down. In their shame, the disciple and her mother had knelt beside her father with eyes brimming with tears. Without any belief in cause and effect, he had been completely oblivious to the fact that he’d slandered the Buddha and that such a terrible offense could land him in hell. He had even ordered the disciple not to cry. However, not only had the compassionate Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche not berated her father, but the guru had even smiled and asked him, “So you’re strong enough now to raise your voice, eh?” Her father had gazed at His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in silence. The guru had gone on to inquire, “Do you remember me?” Her father had quietly nodded his head. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had used rice from the mandala to bestow blessings once more upon the disciple’s sickly father before pointing at her parents and asking her, “Who are these two people to you?” She had replied, “They are my parents.” Compassionately, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “Go and perform full prostrations to repent on behalf of your father.” With tears streaming down her face, she had felt speechless with gratitude for the benevolence and kindness His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had shown. With his every single thought, the compassionate guru is constantly mindful of his disciples’ wellbeing, and had given her father and her both an opportunity to repent before the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

Her father had sometimes mentioned wanting to eat certain kinds of meat dishes. At the time, the disciple and her mother—both of whom had already begun to eat vegetarian—had been unwilling to allow him in his very sickly condition to create even more evil karma by continuing to consume the flesh of sentient beings, so had refused him his wishes. As a result, her father had gone on a hunger strike; he would neither eat anything nor even drink water. Her mother’s determination had begun to waver then, and she had secretly bought some meat for him to eat. However, after putting the food in his mouth, he’d not been able to swallow it; he could only drink a very tiny amount of soup. After the disciple had discovered this, she had told her mother over and over, “Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has said that ‘if one does not stop eating the flesh of sentient beings, one certainly cannot be cured of one’s illnesses.’” The disciple had then begun to purchase Japanese food products of the highest quality to replace the non-vegetarian fare that her father desired. To everyone’s surprise, her father, who every day had only been willing to drink Genki soy milk with some brown sugar stirred in, ended up gaining weight, becoming healthy, and recovering his strength and vigor. For half a year this was all he consumed, yet his physical condition had improved greatly. With additional help from the best liquefied Chinese herbal medicine prescribed by the Glorious Jewel Chinese Medicine Clinic and administered to her father for several months, all of his previously sub-par medical indices (such as blood pressure, cholesterol, glucose, and so on), apart from a slightly low albumin count, had returned to normal. Her father’s medication regimen had been reduced from more than twenty pills of Western medicine consumed each day to just a quarter of that amount. She was grateful to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche; everything the guru did was to help countless sentient beings, and the disciples were always benefiting from his meticulous care.

Over the past twenty-four months that she had been a vegetarian, it had gradually dawned on her that the severe asthma and chronic nasal allergies that had plagued her for almost forty years had disappeared. Before this, she had received all sorts of treatment for her asthma ever since she was little. However, her allergy index had remained extremely high with a total immunoglobulin E count of as much as a thousand; under normal conditions, it should be below a hundred. When she was a child she had taken several kinds of expensive traditional Chinese medicinal powders, and had received weekly allergen treatments in the form of subcutaneous injections over a period of three or four years. After that, she had been given repeated regimens of steroids and antihistamines. Ever since she could remember, she’d had frequent asthma attacks. In the middle of the night, when she was unable to breathe, she’d had no choice but to sit until the sun came up or she fell asleep from utter exhaustion. Afraid of making her parents worry, she had not dared to wake them in the middle of the night. She’d often felt that she could just fall asleep and never wake up. Decades later, having consumed far too much medication, she had been convinced that she would never be cured of her asthma in this lifetime. Over these past couple of years, however, without the aid of medication or even a puffer, her asthma attacks had ceased. It really was a wondrous and amazing miracle.

One time she had inadvertently mentioned to Dharma Brother Zeng that her younger sister’s daughter, ever since first being able to speak, had often said that she could see sentient beings that the rest of them could not see (her sister’s daughter had called them “big bad wolves”). Sometimes these sentient beings would follow the child or pounce at her, causing her to scream in fright. The disciple’s sister had taken her daughter all over the place to receive Taoist treatment to quiet her soul; however, this had never worked. For half a year the disciple’s three-year-old niece had been so afraid that she would not take a bath; at other times she would suddenly curl up in a ball and roll around on the floor, screaming, with a blank look in her eyes. For this reason the disciple’s sister, who did not believe in the Buddha, would frequently seek help from Taoist priests. Dharma Brother Zeng had advised the disciple to bring her sister and niece to seek an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. When she had mentioned this to her sister, however, her sister had refused, saying, “Recently my daughter’s condition has been just fine; there’s no need to seek an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.”

The disciple had wanted her sister to go home and think it over, and had recommended that she read His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious literary work, Happiness and Suffering. A few weeks later her sister had informed her that she wished to seek an audience with the guru. Shocked, the disciple had asked her sister what had changed her mind. She had answered that a few days previously, her three-year-old daughter had seen the copy of Happiness and Suffering that had been left in the living room and asked, “What’s this?” After opening the book up to show her daughter the Dharma photo of His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the disciple’s sister had said, “Your auntie says this Rinpoche is extremely remarkable, and knows all about big bad wolves. Do you want to see him?” Without a moment’s hesitation, the disciple’s niece had replied, “Yes.” Surprised, her sister had wondered if her daughter was just being silly, so she’d asked, “So what will you say when you meet this Rinpoche?” The disciple’s niece had answered immediately, “I want to ask Rinpoche why those big bad wolves are always following me.” That this three-year-old child had voiced her need to seek an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had completely changed her mother’s mind.

During her audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, her sister had reported her daughter’s problem. The guru had berated her in a loud voice for being full of nonsense and said, “You gave birth to a daughter, yet you haven’t tried hard enough to nurture her. You’ve put all of your efforts into making money without doing your best to fulfill your maternal responsibilities. Whenever your child falls ill or feels discomfort, as adults you and your husband tend to grow superstitious and pass the responsibility of taking care of her on to other people. The idea of ‘big bad wolves’ is something you taught your daughter; you corrupted her with this thought.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had then pointed at the child and said, “Your daughter’s eyes are big and pretty; I can see just by looking at her that she is fine and healthy. If she had a real problem, then she could not possibly look this well.” The compassionate guru had then continued to instruct the disciple’s sister to be filial toward her mother-in-law and to respect her husband. Afterward he had taken the initiative to bestow blessings upon her with the vajra. He had then glanced at the disciple and said, “Take your sister to a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine to improve her heath; she should not see a Western doctor.” The disciple had immediately nodded her head in acquiescence. Afterward, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had told her, “Your sister’s qi and blood are very weak. She bled a lot when she gave birth to her daughter, and never fully recuperated.” Finally, the guru had taken out two pieces of chocolate, which he’d blessed by blowing on them. These he had given to the disciple’s sister and advised, “If your daughter won’t eat this, first let her watch you eat a piece. You must get her to eat one before leaving here.” The disciple was extremely grateful to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, not only for having helped her niece, but for helping her sister, too.

Sure enough, when leaving the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, her niece had refused to eat the chocolate. Her sister had taken a piece, pretending that she was going to eat it, and given the other piece to the child to take home for her sick grandfather. Hearing this, the disciple’s niece had immediately snatched the chocolate from her mother’s hand and crammed it into her mouth, said how yummy it was, and gobbled down the other piece as well. The disciple and her sister had both repented that all of the girl’s fears had come from their own internal demons, and the disciple’s sister had been extremely grateful for the precious teachings and blessings bestowed by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Her niece still remembered her meeting with Rinpoche as clear as day; since then, her ‘big bad wolves’ had never appeared again. In addition, and to the disciple’s great surprise, at about that time the disciple’s sister, who had been running a breakfast shop in a hilltop neighborhood, had been about to sell off her business and open an even larger breakfast shop in the city so that she could make more money. The disciple and her mother had urged her on multiple occasions to leave the food industry, for it involved killing. However, not having had much by way of an education, her sister had not known what else she could do. Less than a week after the audience with the guru, her sister’s shop had suddenly sold. At the same time a neighbor had sought her sister out to help in running an after-school activity center for kids. To everyone’s surprise, in the space of a single week, her sister had succeeded in changing her profession. The disciple was grateful for His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings.

She was grateful to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for giving her this precious opportunity to repent for the various evil karmic seeds she had planted because of her ignorance. All things that had happened to her were results of cause and effect and karmic retribution; she must face them rather than try to avoid. She repented that ever since she was little, because she would not eat meat, her parents had cooked seafood for her for every meal. She had therefore eaten her fill of fish and other creatures from the ocean, thus creating evil karma by harming those sentient beings. As Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had warned, she had gotten liver disease as a result. She repented for having consumed the folk remedy prescribed to cure her asthma by her superstitious cousin, which had been a stew containing pigeons that had been suffocated to death; in this way she and her cousin had created karma from killing. She was ashamed that she used to love eating crab legs, cruelly cutting them apart at the joints with a kitchen knife. The karmic retribution for this had manifested in this lifetime in the form of an inverted kneecap which frequently caused her great pain. She repented that when she was little, she had enjoyed using plastic bags to capture flies, and she would then pour water into the bags to drown the flies. She also repented that while working on a school assignment to hand in insect specimens for biology class, she had been unable to catch any, so had instead captured a cockroach and brutally pinned it to a piece of cardboard with a needle, all the while watching as it struggled in pain until it died.

She regretted deeply having fallen pregnant and gotten an abortion during her university entrance exams. She had thought she was terrified of shaming her parents, and of hurting and vexing them, but in fact she had been quite calculating and cruel. She had been ingrained with so many evil habits of killing that she had murdered her own child, greedily hoping to enjoy life and not be held down by a baby. In this lifetime alone, the evil acts she had committed were too numerous to record. She should fall into the Uninterrupted Hell. None of the anguish she had endured could hold a candle to the suffering she had caused to countless sentient beings, lifetime after lifetime, not to mention the further evil acts she had committed through her greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt. She was grateful for her father’s chronic illness, for it had taught her that life is impermanent. She was also thankful that the suffering her father had endured, all manifestations of the torment of the Three Evil Realms, had given her reason to fear cause and effect. Only after reading the words ‘Diverse sufferings are like the death of a child in a dream. By apprehending illusory appearances as real, one becomes weary. Therefore, when encountering disagreeable circumstances, viewing them as illusory is the Bodhisattvas’ practice,’ in the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas, had she come to a profound realization of how rare and precious the Dharma is. She was grateful for the physical illness and mental anguish that she and her family had suffered in the past; these had guided her to obtain help from Buddhism.

She had spent her life searching and searching, learning different languages and constantly seeking knowledge from every corner of the world in an effort to escape karma’s shackles. In the past she had not known why she could not stop chasing this dream; now, however, she finally realized that she had been entrapped by greed, hatred, ignorance, and affliction, and had never had a clear view at the state of her own mind. She was grateful to Dharma Brother Lin and Dharma Brother Zeng for their constant praise of the His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s merits; this had allowed her to form a connection and have the good fortune to take refuge in the guru in this lifetime. She now understood very well that to be able to take refuge in His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was her most precious good fortune in this lifetime.

Over the past two years, she and her family had encountered many difficulties and hindrances. However, her faith in the guru’s compassion, strength, and her own capacity to meet his requirements had allowed her to eliminate the negative conditions that had been obstructing her Buddhist practice, one at a time, so that she could calm her mind and begin to receive the teachings of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. She vowed to listen well to the guru’s instructions and act accordingly, to stop evil and practice virtue, and to spend her life repaying the karmic debt she had accumulated throughout her past lives so that she could become liberated from life and death. She also hoped that all sentient beings would have the opportunity to learn the all-embracing Right Dharma of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, to form a deep belief in cause and effect, to change their ways from evil to good, and to break away from reincarnation so that they could genuinely be free from suffering and obtain happiness by being reborn in the Western Pure Land of Utmost Bliss. Finally, she wished to pray on behalf of all sentient beings that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would remain in good health, keep turning the Dharma wheel, and have an eternal presence in this world, so that the Dharma would be spread far and wide and the Drikung Kagyu Lineage would continue to flourish, thereby benefiting all sentient beings in the Dharma Realm.

At 2:00 in the afternoon, following a welcoming procession of incense burners, musical instruments, and a jeweled parasol, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche walked along the white carpet of Eight Auspicious Symbols to the mandala. Afterward, the guru made reverent prostrations to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, presented a khata to the wish-granting jeweled Dharma throne of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, lit lamps as an offering to the Buddha, and finally ascended the Dharma throne.

Before performing the Dharma, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche bestowed precious teachings upon all of the attendees.

“The puja being held today is the Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness. Everyone knows that Buddhism is divided into two major parts; one is Exoteric Buddhism, and the other is Esoteric Buddhism—which is also called ‘Tantra’ in some sutras. When practicing Buddhism, one must start with the Exoteric part, which involves the fundamental concepts and principles behind all of the Dharmas expounded by the Buddha and includes the sutras. In Tibetan Buddhism, before one can learn Tantra, one must first practice Exoteric Buddhism for ten years. By this I do not mean memorizing all the sutras to the point that you know them like the back of your hand, or doing outstanding deeds every day; the most important thing to cultivate in Buddhism is your own mind. Once you have received oral transmission of the Dharma from your guru, as well as an explanation of it, then as disciples of the Buddha, you must use it to evaluate your every thought and action and judge whether or not you have violated the Buddha’s teachings. This is what true cultivation is. It has nothing to do with how many sutras you recite, how many repentances you make, how much volunteer work you do, or whether or not you succeed in getting your family members to do this or that; these are merely assisting conditions (that will help you in your Buddhist practice.

“After practicing Exoteric Buddhism for ten years, a disciple will begin to receive transmission of Tantra from the guru in accordance with the disciple’s root capacity. Tantra is divided into Kriyayoga, Charyayoga, Yogatantra, and Anuttarayogatantra. Normally Kriyayoga is transmitted first, but before that, one usually must receive transmission of the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices. ‘Uncommon’ means that these Dharma methods can only be transmitted to Vajrayana practitioners; they cannot be practiced hand-in-hand with the Dharma methods of Hinayana or Mahayana Buddhism. These Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices include chanting the Vajrasattva Mantra, making offerings to the mandala, and practicing the Guru Yoga—doing each of these, one hundred thousand times. Once this has all been performed to perfect completion, then according to the Drikung Kagyu Order, the practitioner is ready to be transmitted the Mahamudra. This is a meditation method of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage, and there is a sequential order to its mastery. It is different from Chinese Zen practices. Chinese Zen Buddhism includes the Northern and Southern schools, and the latter lineage ended with the Sixth Patriarch Hui. When Bodhidharma transmitted Zen to China, he laid great importance on instant enlightenment—a method of becoming suddenly enlightened. Gradual enlightenment, on which Mahamudra is based, is also practiced in China. This does not mean that Tibetan wisdom is inferior in any way; rather, in this Age of Degenerate Dharma, practically no sentient beings possess the root capacity to become enlightened instantly.

“The Mahamudra is made up of four stages, each one of which is further divided into three parts for a total of twelve parts. If you can completely master all of them within this lifetime, then you will definitely be able to attain the state of Dharmakaya. To practice the Dharma of any yidam, you must complete the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices and begin to receive transmission of the Mahamudra. Your guru can then bestow upon you the yidam’s empowerment, pith instruction, and the teachings of the generation and completion stages, and designate a time period for you to go into retreat. This refers to chanting the yidam’s mantra to perfect completion, alone, in your retreat hut. In terms of the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, you must chant it at least one million times. This method does not simply involve holding a counter in one hand and prayer beads in the other, as is popular these days; that does not work. It must be done in a retreat hut after having received empowerment and oral transmission from your guru, as well as permission to go into retreat; only then will your chanting count.

“Tibetan Buddhism might not be very democratic compared to the Buddhism practiced by most people here in Taiwan. Here, whoever would like to go into retreat can do so; people do however they please. On the surface they appear to have quite a bit of freedom, but in reality they have not actually learned the essence of the Dharma. When Shakyamuni Buddha began to propagate Buddhism, everything was orally transmitted by the guru; there was no such thing as this so-called ‘self-cultivation.’ Even arhats can only attain fruition by way of the transmission of their heritage, although it is mentioned in the sutras that it is permissible to directly take refuge in a Buddha’s statue and begin to practice if there are no meritorious gurus or monastics within a five hundred kilometer radius of the practitioner’s location. However, those conditions cannot be met in modern-day Taiwan; as soon as you walk out your door you can find a Buddhist center, and there are even quite a few of them situated diagonally across from the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center. Thus, the prerequisites for self-cultivation cannot be met these days.

“However, people nowadays are all afraid of being supervised. They think that if they chant behind closed doors, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will hear them just as well. If you do this, however, only you will hear yourself. Going into retreat does not mean holding a sutra and reciting from it indoors; to achieve attainment, you must follow the stages and learn the rituals, pith, the essence of the Dharma, and so on. Therefore, if you chant the yidam’s mantra a million times to perfect completion while in retreat, some auspicious signs are sure to appear. Merely claiming that you have seen such signs does not count; they must be verified by your guru. Anything you imagine, are told, or make up does not count. Once you have cultivated the yidam’s Dharma, you can begin self-cultivation. In Buddhism we often say, ‘Benefit yourself and others.’ This does not mean you will obtain great benefits from cultivation; rather, it means that if you do not first resolve the problems that have plagued you down through lifetime after lifetime—that is, your karmic hindrances—then how can you possibly qualify to benefit other sentient beings?

“Earlier this year, after I went to liberate the deceased in Mudan District, I suddenly and mysteriously developed health problems. Within a month, however, I had recovered. According to what my doctor-disciples have said, given that I am sixty-eight years old, it should have taken me at least two years to convalesce from a condition like that. Why was I able to regain my health so quickly? I was practicing Buddhism, of course, but the most important question to bear in mind is this: While walking the Bodhisattva Path, what does a practitioner give in exchange for the suffering of sentient beings? Everyone would say it is compassion, but in truth none of these people actually accomplishes that. Compassion means giving the best of oneself in exchange for that which afflicts sentient beings. In Tantra, this is called ‘self-others exchange,’ which means trading something of oneself for something belonging to someone else.

“If you have not quite become accomplished in your cultivation, then you could die immediately after making only a single such exchange. However, you do not need to fear this sort of thing, because the ultimate goal of practicing Buddhism is to benefit sentient beings. When a lot of people come seeking an audience with me, I ask them why they are practicing. If they answer that they are doing it to benefit sentient beings, I scold them profusely—for if they have not even resolved their own problems, then how can they hope to help others? Some people love to take in stray dogs, thinking that they are doing a good deed. I tell them that they are actually exhibiting a discriminating mind. After all, if they are willing to give a home to a stray dog, then why not to a homeless person? Why give preferential treatment to dogs? This is not compassion.

“In the phrase, ‘Great mercy of the void condition, great compassion of the equal body,’ the ‘void condition’ does not mean a lack of causal conditions; it means not discriminating between them, because conditions are empty in nature. They arise and cease, and every time one comes into existence, the Bodhisattvas are moved. The reason the Bodhisattvas are called ‘awakened sentient beings’ is that every time Their minds are moved, They benefit sentient beings. Great mercy of the void condition can be explained on two different levels. ‘Void’ does not connote a total lack of conditions, because without them one cannot help sentient beings. A certain condition must arise in order for a practitioner to form connections with sentient beings. The first stage of explaining is that the void is empty in nature, and conditions arise and cease. People often say they want to let go of everything, but how is this done? If you do not understand or have not even realized that all phenomena arise from conditions and are empty in nature, then you cannot let go. I can let go; if I couldn’t, then I would have died recently. I can let go because I understand that all phenomenal arise from conditions and are empty in nature. Everything is impermanent; nothing is eternal or unchanging except the Dharma nature. That the Dharma nature does not change does not mean it is immutable or that nothing can make it grow larger, smaller, prettier, or uglier; it means it is completely motionless.

“Another explanation of ‘great mercy of the void condition’ is that as soon as a condition arises and the Bodhisattvas form the intention to help sentient beings, that condition simultaneously ceases. Thus, after helping liberating sentient beings, Bodhisattvas never remember very clearly whom They have helped. It is written in the Diamond Sutra that we must break free of the notions of four forms: Sentient beings, self, humanity, and time. Many people who have practiced Zen understand that it is crucial to break away from these four forms, but how is this done? It definitely does not involve turning the individual self into the greater self or lesser love into greater love; doing so will merely play tricks within one’s consciousness. To break away from the four forms is very simple; all you have to do is to cultivate kindness, compassion, joy, and giving, as was taught by Shakyamuni Buddha. Why does no one talk about this? It is because only people who are genuinely willing to give up their lives can cultivate kindness, compassion, joy, and giving.

“You have not yet made a firm resolution to give up your lives, but doing so does not mean using your life to fight with people or accomplish certain things. Once you realize that death is impermanent and that conditions arise and cease, then your view of your own life will change. You will begin to ask yourself whether or not you can benefit sentient beings, help them to become liberated from life and death, and assist them in accumulating good fortune, merits, causes, and conditions continuously. As is written in the Amitabha, good men and women who aspire to be reborn in the Pure Land must not be lacking in fortune, merits, causes, and conditions. Where do these come from? Don’t assume you can get them by lighting lamps, making a repentance, or telling someone to eat vegetarian; such actions will only yield good fortune of the human world. Without good fortune of Emptiness, you cannot even help yourself to become liberated from life and death, let alone help sentient beings.

“A late Mahasiddha of the Drikung Kagyu Order, Yunga Rinpoche, once told me in person that the three fastest ways to accumulate good fortune and merits are to carve the Tripitaka into stone, to hang windhorse prayer flags, and to participate in grand pujas. The purpose of having good fortune and merits is not for you to enjoy your life. Some people who have been to Tibet have seen the many multi-colored flags hung there, but this flag-hanging method is not useful. If the guru has attained the level of a Rinpoche, performed Dharma rituals to the windhorse, and taught his or her disciples to give rise to an aspiration, only then will flag-hanging yield results. In addition, a date must be set as well. Why does hanging windhorse flags help one to attain good fortune? It is because when such flags have been inscribed with sutra texts or mantras, blessed, and blown by the wind, they will carry benefits to all sentient beings that pass by, and this includes a great many different sorts of sentient beings. ‘Grand pujas’ are not defined by how many or how few people attend; rather, their grandness depends on whether their purpose is to benefit sentient beings or to reap profits and gains. If you want to go on television and inform people that you will be holding a puja at a certain Buddhist center, and that there will be major, medium, and minor benefactors being presented, then you are just doing it for profit. This would not be a grand puja; it would be a commercial one.

“I have read many sutras, but nowhere is it written that major benefactors should be seated in the front row and minor benefactors in the back, or that a puja cannot be held until a major benefactor is found. Every one of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center’s pujas is an event stemming from the collaborative efforts of all my disciples. My disciples have taken refuge in me, so as their guru, of course I do everything I possibly can to help them accumulate good fortune, merits, causes, and conditions. Today’s puja was held because of the Nepalese earthquake. On New Year’s Day, I stated that a lot of earthquakes would happen this year, and just a few days ago another one struck New Guinea. With so many sentient beings suffering in the massive earthquake that hit Nepal, and because I happened to witness it and His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang has appealed for a quick alleviation of the suffering of all these sentient beings, I had the idea to hold an Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness here at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center.

“The Dharma text being used today is not an ordinary Exoteric Buddhist text; it is an earth terma. Some people think hidden termas and earth termas are unique to Tibetan Tantrism, but that is not true. Shakyamuni Buddha  stated in the Ratnakuta Sutra that secret Dharmas would later become hidden termas and earth termas—in other words, they would not be transmitted publicly. These termas contained important Dharma methods which Padmasambhava, before leaving Tibet, placed in caves, rocks, on trees, underwater, and even gave to the Dakinis to look after. Later, the Dharma texts were found one after another by master practitioners. Amitabha Buddha is a very important yidam who was introduced by Shakyamuni Buddha. In addition to the Five Classics of the Pure Land, with which you are all familiar, it is also written in the Ratnakuta Sutra that Shakyamuni introduced Amitabha’s Pure Land, and Bodhisattva Maitreya also often asked Shakyamuni Buddha how to aspire to be reborn in the Western Pure Land of Utmost Bliss. For this reason, some people who practice the Dharma method of Bodhisattva Maitreya criticize those who practice in the Pure Land Sect, and vice versa—but all such criticism is not good.

“In the sutra, Bodhisattva Maitreya personally implored Shakyamuni Buddha for an explanation of the Pure Land, so human practitioners are the only ones who fight about that. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas would not differentiate one method from the other; they will expound any Dharma method that is of benefit to sentient beings. The Dharma of transferring consciousness that I will be performing today is an earth terma that has been passed down from Padmasambhava. It is a very special Dharma method within the Drikung Kagyu Order. Besides having to complete all of the aforementioned Tantras, it is vital that a practitioner wishing to perform this Dharma first master the Phowa. For now I won’t spend time explaining the Phowa, but in short, it is a Dharma method that was transmitted by Amitabha Buddha. Amitabha was introduced by Shakyamuni Buddha. Shakyamuni did not say how to use Amitabha’s Dharma method to directly liberate sentient beings; He just told us how to cultivate in order to go to Amitabha’s Pure Land.

“Shakyamuni Buddha’s mother was born in the Trayastrimsas Heaven. Shakyamuni Buddha went there to speak the Dharma for her, and Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha appeared. Shakyamuni Buddha obviously knew Amitabha Buddha, so why did He not transmit Amitabha’s Dharma right away? Shakyamuni Buddha only ever transmitted one of the Kriyayoga Tantras to His aunt, and those who practice Exoteric Buddhism know this as the Sixteen Visualizations of the Pure Land. These were not invented by Shakyamuni Buddha; they are Tantra. Many practitioners of Exoteric Buddhism think Tantra is fake, but this results from their lack of understanding. The first of the Sixteen Visualizations of the Pure Land is to visualize the sun. How is this done? Can your eyes see the sun’s light as soon as it appears? The second visualization involves visualizing the moon. Back when I was practicing Exoteric Buddhism, I racked my brains trying to learn this visualization; I asked many Dharma masters, but none of them could teach me. Why is that? The reason is that when Shakyamuni Buddha transmitted this Dharma, only His aunt heard it, and He only spoke of it generally without going into detail about the various visualizations involved.

“As with the Dharma text from which I am currently performing, even if you were to get your hands on a copy it would not do you any good, because it involves many unwritten visualizations which can only be learned by way of oral transmission. Only after I had learned Tantra, Kriyayoga, Charyayoga, Yogatantra, and Anuttarayogatantra did I suddenly realize what it meant, and that it can be achieved. I often hear the saying, ‘perfection and integration of Buddhist theories and activities.’ Many people think this means learning the sutras and then telling others, but that is not the case. ‘Activities’ refers to things that you actually undertake and successfully accomplish. If you have learned a whole heap of Buddhist theories, but are unable to benefit sentient beings, then can you really say you have attained the perfection and integration of Buddhist theories and activities? When the great practitioners of the past spoke this line, they certainly did not simply teach people to recite the sutras; nor did they merely explain what the sutras to them—for this is all still just the part taught in Exoteric Buddhism.

“To perfect and integrate Buddhist activities, one must learn Tantra. However, I am not trying to force you to do so; if you are not made of the right material, then any efforts to teach you Tantra would be in vain. I always give disciples a foundation of Exoteric Buddhism to help them to constantly accumulate good fortune, merits, causes, and conditions. I also tell them that they must make a firm resolution to renounce the home of reincarnation. In this lifetime you were not born with the good fortune, merits, causes, or conditions with which to attain enlightenment; it was for this reason that Shakyamuni Buddha compassionately introduced Amitabha Buddha to us. Last week I spoke of the contents of the Ratnakuta Sutra, in which it is stated that you can definitely be reborn in the Pure Land as long as you dedicate your practice, and all the merits that come of your virtuous deeds, to the Western Pure Land of Utmost Bliss; in addition, you must spend this lifetime carrying out the Ten Meritorious Acts, maintaining reverence for the Three Jewels, and respecting your guru. This was taught by Shakyamuni Buddha; I did not make it up.

“These are the most basic requirements, but even they are difficult to fulfill, because everyone tends to practice Buddhism self-righteously. If you wish to learn the Dharma, then how can you come up with things of which the Buddha did not speak? I have spoken very clearly about what is written in the sutras that even if you are not practicing with Amitabha Buddha as your yidam, as long as you dedicate the merits you receive to the Pure Land, then you, too, can go there. Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings would never deceive anyone, so you must act in accordance with the Buddha’s words. Regardless of whether or not you have the causal condition to read these sutras, your guru has had the good fortune to read them, so I have explained them to you. Despite the fact that this sutra is obviously available, many of you have not read these sections. Why not? It is because you still have not made a firm resolution to go to the Pure Land.

“The Buddhist Canon’s texts are kept in temples, but you have not read them, because you still aren’t committed enough. The Dharma protectors prevent you from seeing them; have no doubt about that. It is written in the Ratnakuta Sutra that if a monastic does not have what it takes to practice Mahayana Buddhism, then he or she will not even be able to read the sutras. Thus, the reason you have not been able to see this section is that you have not made a firm resolution. Why is this so? It is because your self-righteousness, tendency to slander the Buddha, and doubt have all gotten in the way. Many people propose that in order to practice the Pure Land teachings, one must chant the Amitabha and nothing else; reading this section could cause your mind to be clouded with doubt. Thus, even if you are eventually able to go to Amitabha’s Pure Land, you will be limited to the City of Doubt which is outside of it, and you will not be able to see the Buddha for a period of five hundred lifetimes.

“Thus, Shakyamuni Buddha is extremely compassionate; He cares for you and protects you in every way. If you journey to the Pure Land with doubt in your heart, then you will be trapped in this City of Doubt for five hundred lifetimes—but these are not human lifetimes; they are much, much longer. There is absolutely no way you can become liberated from life and death while you are there, and every day you will have nothing to do and be unable to even see the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Nor is this place the beautiful paradise mentioned in the Amitabha Sutra; it is a Heavenly Realm, but there are no lovely maidens or handsome men there. You will be alone, muddling along through five hundred very long lifetimes until you eventually fall again.

“When I read the sutras I get the feeling that Shakyamuni Buddha is far too compassionate; He hid so many things within their pages. Why did Shakyamuni Buddha hide them like that? It is because without the proper root capacity, you are filled with doubt. Many people enthusiastically advocate chanting the Amitabha, saying that this is the only way to get to the Pure Land, but it is stated quite clearly in the Ratnakuta Sutra that as long as you make a vow, you can go there without chanting. For this reason, Shakyamuni Buddha deliberately hid these sections from those sorts of people, fearing that if they read them they might doubt and slander the Buddha. Now you should realize that the purpose of the Buddha’s compassion is not to prevent you from getting sick, or to make you famous, or to help you accomplish all of your good deeds without a hitch; the Buddha is compassionate so that we can gain a clear understanding within this lifetime and vow never to return—for reincarnation brings only suffering.

“Today you all have the causal origination to be here, so while participating in this puja you must possess a compassionate attitude. You should feel sorry for all of the sentient beings who do not currently have the opportunity to attend this sort of puja, and hope that they will in the future. We must also maintain an attitude of great repentance, because all of the evil acts we have committed through lifetime after lifetime have created karmic hindrances that are preventing us from becoming liberated from life and death in this lifetime. For this we must repent. Thirdly, we must engender a respectful mindset. You should believe what your guru tells you, because I did not make it up. In all the years you have followed me, I guarantee you that not once have you ever heard me expound on anything that I myself invented; everything I say is in strict accordance with the Dharma, the sutras, and my guru’s teachings. I do not carry my own flag; I bear the standards of the Drikung Kagyu Order and Shakyamuni Buddha, nothing else.

“If you think you have your own Dharma method, then you are finished; you might already be past saving in this lifetime. If you think you can create your own Dharma method after having only listened to a few of the Buddha’s words, then when will it be your Dharma method’s turn to shine? All 84,000 Dharmas, and taking refuge, are the Buddha’s methods. What makes you think you can come up with a new one? You couldn’t possibly, unless you were the Buddha. However, as Shakyamuni Buddha very clearly stated, there will not be another Buddha until the arrival of Bodhisattva Maitreya. Therefore, whenever someone these days claims to be some Buddha or other, I wouldn’t go so far as to say they are phonies, but at the very least I can say for certain that there is no mention of those Buddhas in the sutras.

“If your goal is to practice Buddhism, then you need to have respect. Do not attend the pujas with mere curiosity, for my level of fruition was not authenticated by you; it was authenticated by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, and it is the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who have spared my life and allowed me to continue propagating the Dharma. This was my third brush with death. The reason I am still alive is that I have not finished walking the path I must walk in this lifetime, and like Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, I have a long face. So I will continue laboring away, for the vow we both made was to not ‘attain Buddhahood unless and until all the Hells are empty.’ I have a long face, too; there is nothing I can do about this, because my path is set and my vow has been made. Once one makes a vow, one’s face changes as well. Thus, you should not make a vow lightly.

“The text used for the Amitabha Dharma of Transferring Consciousness includes parts from Exoteric Buddhism, Tantra, and the Phowa. If a guru has not mastered the Phowa, then he or she cannot help sentient beings; likewise, this Dharma can only be performed to benefit sentient beings if the guru has conducted retreats. The attitude you bring with you when participating in a puja is very important. In other words, if your motive for being here is in accordance with the spirit of kindness, compassion, joy, and giving, or even just one of those, then being here will be beneficial. This does not mean you absolutely must succeed in doing so 100%, but at least you should be in that frame of mind.

“I will now illustrate the spirit of kindness, compassion, joy, and giving. First, in order to help sentient beings leave their suffering behind, we must begin by engendering kindness and compassion. Next is ‘joy.’ Joy is not about obtaining what we want, accumulating good fortune, or becoming a guru in the future. As the Chinese saying goes, ‘Happiness of the many outweighs happiness of the individual.’ If you are happy, but people around you are not, then you, too, will end up in pain. In other words, if sentient beings are not relieved from their suffering, then you will suffer as well. The definition of joy is not that you will become happy after helping sentient beings escape their suffering; rather, it means hoping that they can all attain Buddhahood along with you.

“The word ‘giving’ here means letting go of all thoughts, both of disliking and of liking; it means abandoning these equally, and is very difficult to do. No human can easily let go of his or her likes and dislikes. This ‘giving’ does not discriminate between what one enjoys or hates; there is no difference. It can only be achieved after reaching a very high state of cultivation. As long as you participate in the puja with thoughts of kindness, compassion, joy, and giving, then all of the merits produced here today will benefit you. You will accumulate good fortune, too, and gradually be able to reduce and eliminate the hindrances to your Buddhist practice. The same is true of your worldly hindrances. Thus, you should not spend all day vowing to make dedications to your husbands so that temptresses will stay away from them, or to your sons so that they can find the right girlfriends, and so on. Don’t waste your energy on such things. It is enough to make your dedications to the Pure Land of Utmost Bliss; only in this way can the resulting good fortune, merits, causes, and conditions be of use to you.

“The reason I am telling you that a reduction in the hindrances to your Buddhist practice will naturally reduce your worldly hindrances as well, is that there are flaws in the mundane path. When you become attached to something, the mundane will cause afflictions to arise within you. If you have no attachments, however, then suffering and happiness will come and go like water off a duck’s back, for both are impermanent. Once your hindrances to your practice decrease, it means your attachments are waning, too. The fact that your husbands, wives, and children hinder you is due to your attachments, and there is sure to be something you have not resolved.

“Many people have thoughts while practicing Buddhism such as, At least I’m better than others; at least beginning to be a good person; at least I’m changing. I turn my nose up at this way of thinking, because we all are burdened with heavy karma; if we weren’t, then what would be the point in coming here? Changing is what we all should endeavor to do, no matter what. Do you think you shouldn’t change? Even I think I should amend my ways. Before we have attained Buddhahood, we all still have problems, and the Dharma teaches us how to change. This is why the view of afflictions in Vajrayana Buddhism is not that we should leave or discard them; we should use them as tools for our practice. What makes the Vajrayana path unique is that it can save us time, but this does not mean eliminating or throwing our afflictions away; rather, it involves turning them into things that we can use, thereby speeding up our progress. However, even though the process is faster, it still is the case that only people with special root capacities can achieve attainment along this path. Given that you all still have not reached such a state, you should listen.

“Usually, before a tantric Dharma is performed, the Mandala Offering should be conducted, in which the guru accepts the offerings of sentient beings on behalf of all the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Dharma protectors, lineage gurus, Dakas, and Dakini. This is because only by making offerings can sentient beings accumulate good fortune and have the causal conditions to accept the Dharma. In other places, the Mandala Offering tends to be conducted by major benefactors, but I have ordained disciples, so I have them represent everyone else making offerings to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Although you yourselves will not be doing it, you will still be able to rejoice along with it. Rejoicing does not have to do with how much money you donate; it means feeling praise and joy well up within your hearts after seeing such a virtuous act. This yields a certain kind of merit that does not require you to physically come up and offer the mandala.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the Amitabha Dharma for Transferring Consciousness. First, the ordained disciples offered the mandala and implored the Dharma from the guru on behalf of sentient beings. After the ritual, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led everyone in a chanting of the “Praise to Amitabha.” The guru’s Dharma voice and strong words of praise filled the void, causing all the attendees to feel joy, respect, and generosity. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s boundless compassion and all-embracing power caused them to burst into tears, and an incomparable admiration welled up within their hearts that was hard to describe with words.

After performing the Dharma for a while, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, “I just performed the aspiration and refuge prayers. Next is the ritual of exorcism. There are two kinds of demons: External and internal ones. After that I will make a short offering.”

During the Dharma ritual, the mandala of the yidam emitted dazzling golden rays. In the meantime, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche emanated a golden glow, and his appearance was no different from that of the yidam Amitabha Buddha. This auspicious light brought blessings to sentient beings, allowing them to become liberated.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the attendees in a chanting of the Amitabha mantra for a long time before continuing to bestow teachings.

“Just now I performed the wisdom yidam. The first part focuses on the practitioner’s self-cultivation to become one who is no different from the yidam. After the offering is made, the second part is to perform the Dharmakaya of the yidam Amitabha. Next are the Eight Offerings, after which are all the offerings to the yidam.”

While the Dharma was being performed, the eight offering girls sang an offering song and the Tsok Ritual was conducted. Each of the attendees was given food items that had been blessed by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, as well as the rare and auspicious causal condition to dine during the puja with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, thereby producing causal conditions for being reborn in the Pure Land in the future. On several occasions while conducting the ritual for transferring consciousness, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was compassionate enough to allow the attendees to speak the names of those deceased whom they wished to have liberated.

After performing the Dharma for a while, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to bestow teachings. “Just now what we did was help to exorcise any demons that might be afflicting the deceased. Those who died in accidents are likely to have committed many evil acts in the past; for this reason, many demons hinder them in death and do their best to prevent the deceased from being liberated. Don’t think that you can transfer someone’s consciousness just by reciting sutras; you must help the deceased by exorcising his or her demons which were attracted in the first place by the deceased’s past evil acts. Exorcism does not involve killing these spirits; rather, it employs mantras and visualization methods to get them to leave so that the deceased’s consciousness can be transferred. If the demons still won’t listen, then the Vanquishing Dharma can be used to drive them away.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to perform the Dharma. In the process, the guru explained the significance of the two sections being performed; the first was meant to rid sentient beings of their evil karma, and the second was to eliminate their karmic hindrances. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed the attendees to stand, and had the ordained disciples lead make prostrations to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas on behalf of all the attendees’ ancestors and the sentient beings they had harmed. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then led the attendees in a recitation of a prayer, and then resumed conducting the ritual for transferring consciousness.

After that, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the disciples in a performance of the Dharma Protector Achi prayer, and then conducted the dedication ritual. As the guru led the attendees in a recitation of the ‘Aspiration Prayer for Rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land,’ his Dharma voice was filled with compassion and the auspicious power of his blessings. With great earnestness, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche prayed on behalf of all sentient beings. The guru’s boundless benevolence and ability to propagate the Dharma to benefit sentient beings filled the attendees’ hearts with an incomparable sense of repentance and respect, and they were moved to tears.

After performing the Dharma to perfect completion, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to bestow teachings upon the attendees.

“If you want to be reborn in the Pure Land, you must be a virtuous man or woman who is not lacking in good fortune, merits, causes, and conditions. ‘Virtuous’ here is a reference to the Ten Meritorious Acts; if you have not carried them out completely, then you will not be able to go to the Pure Land even if you have vowed to go there. This point is made very clearly in the Amitabha. Therefore, you should not think that chanting Amitabha Buddha’s name a few times is enough to get you there; if you have not performed the Ten Meritorious Acts, or don’t have enough good fortune, merits, causes, and conditions, then the door to the Pure Land will be closed to you. I cannot possibly wait until I’m two hundred years old for you to die one after another, so if you do not practice according to what is taught in the sutras, you will not qualify to see the Pure Land even in your dreams.

“In Tibetan regions, the Amitabha Dharma for Transferring Consciousness usually take all day to perform. Being a modern-day Rinpoche is not easy, because people these days don’t have the patience to sit still that long. For this reason I force myself to perform it as quickly as possible; otherwise, unable to hold it, you would get up and go to the bathroom. If I had poor health or had insufficient mastery over meditation, I would not be able to perform the Dharma this fast. A rapid performance does not indicate a deep familiarity with the subject; rather, it shows a great ability to focus. In Buddhist terms, one can only perform the Dharma quickly from the state of samadhi. Also, I tend to take relatively long and deep breaths; when it comes to chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra 108 times, I usually only breathe three or four times, so I am able to perform the Dharma quite swiftly. You, on the other hand, take a breath after each time you chant it, so you get through the 108 chants more slowly.

“The breaths you take should be long and deep. This of course depends on your physical health, but the ability also has to do with Tantra. Those who have learned Tantra take long, continuous breaths. Just now, when the ordained disciple was leading everyone in a chanting of the mantra, I was chanting, too; why, though, did they sound different? It had nothing to do with any variance between the voices males and females; rather, it was that this ordained disciple has not yet learned Tantra. Some say Buddhism is abstruse, but it isn’t really. As long as you can learn the Dharma with a respectful attitude, then one day you are sure to realize its truth, as well as all that truth implies. Today I have performed the Dharma for the sentient beings that passed away in an earthquake. This aspiration is very good, because if you had not attended, the puja would not have happened. That you have all come to participate in a virtuous act is a very good thing.

“Today 1300 people have come together to produce this virtuous collective karma. If we continue to accumulate such karma as this, then it will gradually influence society, the nation, and eventually the entire world, and will greatly reduce the occurrence of disasters. You must persevere in your resolve to have faith in the Buddha and the Dharma; don’t think that your supplications have not been heard. If you do not get what you pray for, it does not mean that the Buddha has not helped you; your implorations were all made out of desire, but the Buddha cannot violate the law of cause and effect while helping sentient beings. Even if you think your prayers have not been answered, the Buddha has indeed already helped you. What you gain is not always good, and loss is not necessarily a bad thing. This is the nature of life. Most of you present are lay practitioners. The Buddha never said that practitioners are forbidden to engage in commerce or politics; nor is that written anywhere in the sutras. On the contrary, if everyone applied the Dharma to handle mundane affairs, then there would practically be no complications at all, and everything would be harmonious.

“Buddhism is not a passive undertaking; nor does it teach us to hide from the world. To the contrary, it is easier to practice Buddhism while among other people, because seeing their many afflictions on a daily basis can serve as a warning that causes the practitioner to grow vigilant. No matter whom we’ve come here to help today, it is actually all the sentient beings that are helping us. Without these suffering beings we would not have the opportunity or causal condition to gather together and conduct this virtuous acts. If there were no suffering sentient beings, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas would not exist; They only emerged as a result of the former. Of course, we ourselves hope to escape from suffering, but this cannot be accomplished simply by saying a few words and participating in some pujas; we must practice continuously. I have been practicing Buddhism since I was thirty-six years old, and my diligence has never stopped. I am not complaining at all; rather, as Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara once said, there are so many sentient beings to liberate yet not enough time in which to do so, and that fact made even the great Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara shed tears.”

Feeling such profound compassion for the countless sentient beings trapped in reincarnation caused His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to suddenly get choked up and have to pause his teachings. The guru’s vast bodhicitta deeply moved the attendees. A moment later, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche resumed bestowing teachings.

“The Vajrayana vow is binding as long as there is even a single sentient being left in reincarnation. At the end of the Vajrayana dedication are the words, ‘May all sentient beings attain Buddhahood.’ This is a kind of thought, or idea, but this concept tells us that while serving society, our minds should be filled with virtuous thoughts. If others commit evil, that is their business; as long as our thoughts continue to dwell on good things, then that evil will be lessened. For example, a little while ago, while I was performing the Dharma, I talked about exorcism, but driving away demons does not mean killing them; it means getting them to leave. If they do not leave, then they must be dealt with, but using force is always a last resort. Buddhist practitioners do not play the victim as you might think; we do not advocate being mistreated. Rather, we only come to blows as a last possible resort. First we urge the demons, and then we still want to liberate them. Thus, if you do not have the ability to transfer a consciousness, then you cannot perform an exorcism.

“In this society, many people think they should avoid hearing about evil matters. Although paying too much attention to such things can indeed have some affect, we should maintain a certain degree of understanding of evil acts so that we can prevent others from committing them. In such a complicated world as this, it is very difficult to isolate oneself completely within a life of good deeds and spiritual cultivation. Nevertheless, we must persevere with our goal of performing virtuous acts. In Vajrayana Buddhism, gurus perform many different Dharmas that on the surface might seem difficult to accept from an Exoteric Buddhist point of view, but at their core is an intention which is good. For instance, in the section of the Dharma I just performed that contained the exorcism, there is a line that says that if this demon comes back to cause more trouble, the Dharma practitioner will split its head into seven pieces. It is written very clearly. However, ‘split its head into seven pieces’ actually means the practitioner will liberate it and help it to go to the Pure Land or the Heavenly Realm. Therefore, if you are unable to accomplish this, then you should not say those words. Actually, it is also mentioned in the sutras that the Buddha would split those demons’ heads into seven pieces. As for why it is seven pieces and not some other number, I will explain it at another time, for if I continue, you might not be able to sit still any longer,” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said humorously.

Upon the perfect completion of the Great Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness, the disciples expressed their gratitude in unison to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for tirelessly performing the Dharma and compassionately bestowing teachings. Rising to their feet, they paid reverent homage as His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended from the Dharma throne.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performed the Dharma for suffering sentient beings and delivered the Buddha’s teachings with his life, which are more precious than the most valuable treasure on Earth, turning the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center into a solemn Dharma land. All of the attendees reverently participated in this rare and auspicious puja, their hearts filled with an ineffable sense of gratitude. After the puja, an auspicious rain began to fall from the sky, bringing moisture to the land that had been shriveled by drought for so long and keeping the thirsty sentient beings from suffering further. This auspicious sign was proof of the countless merits produced by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s performance of the Dharma, and that the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, devas, nagas, and others of the eight groups of beings were so filled with joy and praise that the Dharma rain filled the void , causing countless sentient beings trapped in reincarnation to be helped and liberated by the Dharma.

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Updated on November 19, 2015