His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – June 7, 2015

Before puja began, three ordained disciples ascended the dais to share their stories. One began by pointing out that the circumstances in which that believer had passed away the week before were very different from any that she had ever seen. In ancient times it was said that the ultimate good fortune was to die a good death. Nevertheless, in all her life, she had hardly known anyone who had actually done so. The manner in which that believer had died last week had moved her to tears, and she had pressed her palms together in homage to him. Even more touching, of course, was Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate aspiration to benefit all sentient beings equally. It was amazing to witness the benefits of the Dharma.

She had once conducted recitation assistance for the mother of a Dharma brother. The doctor had warned that the elderly woman would likely die within forty-eight hours, so they had begun the recitation on the way home from the hospital. The Dharma brother’s mother had been unconscious and gasping for air, so they had decided to massage her in the hope that it might bring her back to consciousness. As she had kneaded the woman’s muscles, she had actually felt quite frightened, for she’d not known what she would do if the woman were to die while she was massaging her like that. After applying their efforts from morning to night, she still had not come out of her coma, so they had finally given up. Afterward the disciple had felt so scared that she could not sleep. The following day, sure enough, the Dharma brother’s mother had stopped breathing—forty-eight hours after the doctor’s prediction. At the moment of death, the woman had drawn a very deep breath, and then passed away with her mouth still agape. Her family members had said, “It’s time to eat,” but her mouth had remained wide open.

Because the elderly woman’s daughter was a monastic, and knew that her mother was certain to descend to a bad place, they had not dared to disturb her body. Later that evening, while changing her clothing for her, they had rubbed her very gently and discovered that her stomach was hot. This was a sign that her mother had fallen into the Hungry Ghost Realm. Despite being the mother of a monastic, this was the sort of demise she had met. The monastic had reacted by continuously reciting from the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, but this had been completely useless. Only later on, after taking refuge in Theravada Buddhism, making a very sincere offering, and imploring the Theravada Dharma master for merits related to that offering, had the monastic finally felt relieved. However, the question remained as to whether her mother had actually been liberated or not.

It had been truly auspicious how, the previous week, that believer had passed away so very serenely without even so much as gasping for air. The disciple said, “We really should aspire to pass away just so peacefully at the foot of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Dharma throne. This should be our purpose in this lifetime, and is our only objective while following Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.” To be able to die in just such a manner was a goal she had set for herself. “Actually, how long we live is not important; genuine auspiciousness comes from being able to pass away in such serenity and furthermore, at that time the Chod was being performed by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.” When she and some of the other monastics had gone up to touch the believer’s crown chakra, they had found it to be quite hot to the touch. This had been her first time experiencing this, and the auspiciousness of the phenomenon had moved her to no end. After returning home, she had said over and over to her mother, “We absolutely must initiate just such an aspiration!”

Next, a second ordained disciple shared her story with everyone. The circumstances around the death of that believer the previous week had been completely different from anything she had ever seen before. Back when she had lived in a temple—a large one of more than one hundred people—there had been many elderly Dharma masters, and lots of people had passed away there. She had asked them one by one, “Elderly practitioner, of all the people you have watched pass away at this temple, how many died good, auspicious deaths?” To her surprise, they had all answered, “Not a single one”—including the male Dharma master who had been ordained for decades. At the time, therefore, she had really felt quite disheartened, thinking that she must have not been practicing correctly at that temple. She had then gone to seek the advice of a person who had been to a Buddhist center at which all of the attendees kept the precepts, and were male. She had asked how many of those Dharma masters, who had observed the precepts so strictly and been monastics for so many years, had died auspiciously. To her even greater surprise, the answer had been the same: None—and that many of them had encountered hindrances before they passed away.

She emphasized the fact that it was truly rare to die as peacefully as that believer had, and warned everyone not to assume it was an easy feat. Of all those people who had been ordained for decades, practicing as hard as they could in preparation for this very moment—the moment of their deaths—none of them had actually succeeded. That elderly gentleman who had died last week had only participated in two pujas; he had not taken refuge, or practiced, or made offerings. Why, then, had he been able to pass away so serenely? It was because His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche does not have a discriminating mind. With blessings of such power, plus the believer’s own causal conditions, when his time had come he had passed away without any major impediments. He’d left this world on the back of the guru’s great aspiration. This was very rare indeed. The disciple had met so many monastics and asked them the same question, yet none had seen anyone able to achieve a death as good as that believer who had only participated in a couple of pujas.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said that the reason that believer could go to the Pure Land was that he had had sufficient faith. This really was extremely important; having only come to participate in two pujas, he could not have accumulated as much good fortune as people who had practiced Buddhism their entire lives—most of whom had not been able to achieve the same result, despite having applied themselves quite diligently to their practice. That believer had only met a single condition: Sufficient faith. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had once taught that to walk the Bodhisattva Path, one must meet ten conditions, the first of which is having enough faith. The disciple said, “Faith is what we lack the most. We have all taken refuge and accumulated so much good fortune, yet none of us has been able to achieve attainment. The biggest reason for this is that we have insufficient faith. We must ask ourselves on a frequent basis whether or not we have enough faith; this is something we should do as part of our normal routine.

“Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said that Shakyamuni Buddha once told His disciples the location of Shakyamuni Buddha’s Pure Land: It is here in our Saha World. Why does what we can see look like it does? It is because we lack conviction. As Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche once taught, “If our minds are pure, then the land will be, too.” If we believe deeply enough, then we will be able to see a purified land; however, at the moment we cannot. Actually, the most fundamental issue encountered while practicing Buddhism is this question of faith. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has taught us so much, yet none of us has accomplished the tasks set for us; our biggest problem lies in lacking the conviction. Thus, we should all think hard on this issue. We work hard in our practice every day, yet without sufficient faith, it could all be for naught.

“Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche treats everyone equally. The essence of the Dharma can be demonstrated by the manner in which that believer passed away. He had neither taken refuge nor begun to practice Buddhism, yet had obtained liberation from Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche just the same. From this we can see that the guru really is completely fair and does not discriminate. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche gives from this egalitarian frame of mind, but each person receives what is given in a different way, and that’s the problem we have. While performing the Dharma, the guru’s mind is very pure; in those moments, the Buddhist Center becomes the Pure Land, and we should ponder the concept of “faith.” This is very important. None of us is yet able to benefit others, so we should focus on trying to help ourselves first. In other words, we must begin by solving the great issue of our own life and death—otherwise, what will we be able to do?” The disciple said that she included herself in this, and hoped that everyone would continue to provide each other with mutual encouragement.

Finally, a third ordained disciple expressed her deep gratitude at having been allowed the week before to touch the deceased’s crown chakra and come to another profound realization of the Dharma’s auspiciousness. The crown chakra had been extremely hot. Touching her own crown chakra with her left hand while touching the crown chakra of the deceased with her right, she had been able to feel how much higher the latter’s temperature was. Thus, it was obvious how auspicious the Dharma performed by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was, as well as the fact that the deceased’s consciousness had genuinely been transferred. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had often said that transferring someone’s consciousness is not just a simple matter of reciting the sutras and chanting the Buddha’s name. In order to truly be able to help the deceased, a practitioner must, by way of diligent practice, achieve realization, accumulate a certain amount of good fortune, merits, and so on. The deceased’s own good fortune is very important as well. As Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had asked the previous week, why are all these people so different from one another? Why was that believer able to pass away so serenely?

The previous week, when they had gone up to see that believer, they had noticed that his head was bowing low as if he were sleeping. Viewing him from the side, they really would not have known that he had died if someone had not told them so; he had looked exactly as if he had simply fallen asleep. This had been an example of sugata, as often mentioned by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche: A state of being well-departed, with a mind completely devoid of any fear. As one of the other monastics had mentioned a little while ago, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said that this good death had befallen that believer because of his ample degree of faith. Furthermore, she believed that they should all possess a respectful attitude, as was frequently mentioned by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. “Once you have cultivated respect for your guru, you will naturally come to have sufficient faith.”

Before she had started following His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, she, too, had performed recitation assistance and other Buddhist activities. One time, as a deceased passed away, there had still been blood dripping down from his body. She had not known what sort of illness had caused this. As she was helping the family members changed the deceased’s clothing, they had discovered that his body was too stiff to get the clean clothes on him. They’d had to rub him with a warm cloth first. Still, though, his body had continued to bleed.

After finally getting his clothes on and laying him back down on the bed, she had begun to recite from the sutras for him. However, the expression on his face had been nowhere near as peaceful as that of the believer who had passed away at the Buddhist Center last week. This was because the people performing the recitation for him had not had a pure mind, and had not had the auspicious merits or powers of concentration that were possessed by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. As a result, their recitation assistance had not been very helpful to the deceased, unlike the energy and magnetism created by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate aspiration and cultivation of the Dharma which were so truly powerful that they could help the deceased to completely leave suffering behind.

One time, she had gone to give recitation assistance to another deceased individual whose mouth and eyes still hadn’t closed. Some deceased might slowly close their eyes after the recitation assistance is over, but their mouths do not close as serenely as that believer’s had last week. Some deceased will gradually close their mouths while the sutras are being recited for them; everyone is different. As Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, if the practitioner performing the assistance has not reached a high enough level of cultivation, then he or she really will not have enough good fortune or merits to impart to the deceased.

She urged everyone, “This opportunity we have been given, to learn Buddhism from His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, truly is rare. We really must do our best to listen and practice the Dharma so that in our moment of greatest need, we will have the causal conditions—as did that believer—to be helped by the guru, the Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas, so that we can be liberated from the sea of reincarnation in this very lifetime.” She was very grateful for having been given this chance to share her experience of having touched that believer’s crown chakra last week. It really had felt very hot. This method of liberation had not been something that an ordinary person could perform. As Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, that believer really must have had an enormous amount of good fortune. This requires causes and conditions; dying so peacefully cannot be accomplished by way of a simple recitation assistance; nor can it happen without good fortune and timing. At the time, many people had thought how wonderful it would be if they themselves could pass away in such a manner, but they still did not have enough good fortune and causal conditions. Therefore, they must continue to work hard, make repentances, and listen to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. She hoped that everyone could repent in this lifetime for all of the evil acts they had committed in their past lives so that they could follow the guru to the Pure Land and continue to practice diligently.

Next, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne to preside over the Amitayus Empowerment Puja. Before performing the Dharma, the guru bestowed precious Dharma teachings upon the attendees.

“Today I will be performing the Amitayus Empowerment for you. The Amitayus yidam is not observed in Exoteric Buddhism, because most its practitioners tend to follow the Pure Land Sect and Amitabha Buddha. You have all recited the ‘Praises to Amitabha’ before; it contains mention of Amitabha’s Nirmanakaya coming to guide people. If you practice the Bodhisattva Path, however, you need to be guided by the Buddha’s Sambhogakaya. This is written in the sutras. Vajrayana Buddhism involves cultivating the Bodhisattva Path, and Amitayus is Amitabha Buddha’s Sambhogakaya. In the past, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang once joked to me thusly: ‘To get a packed house in Tibet, perform the Amitayus; to get a packed house in Taiwan, perform the Jambhala.’ Thus, every nationality has different cultural norms.

“Why should we practice the Amitayus? It is because all of the evil karma we have accumulated throughout our past lives can shorten our longevity in this one. Buddhist practice takes time, but that does not refer to a specific number of lifetimes; it is a question of having enough time to accumulate good fortune, merits, and causal conditions. Dharma Protector Achi is very compassionate, and frequently manifests the auspiciousness of the Dharma here in the Buddhist Center. For example, as the monastics pointed out about that believer who passed away, he had neither taken refuge, nor understood what it meant to practice, nor made any prostrations to the Buddha. With such poor health, he had been unable to do so; furthermore, five years ago his son had been banned from the Buddhist Center. The reason for this was that the Buddhist Center had appointed him to be director-general for the building—the equivalent of arranging a job for him. In the past, the position of chairperson of the main building was held by a certain disciple of the Buddhist Center. However, in an effort to make things convenient for himself, this disciple had haphazardly made promises to others and then told the director-general to go and deal with them. When the believer’s son took on the job of director-general, he thought the disciple acting as chairperson was his boss; this led to many problems at the time. As a result, I told both disciples that they were no longer allowed to set foot in the Buddhist Center.

“You might be thinking, Why take such a trivial matter so seriously? It is because I observe the precepts, and the Buddhist Center is a place in which all sentient beings make offerings. As such, it must not be abused whatsoever, and nothing may be done which would harm the Buddhist Center. One of the precepts is against the freeloading of a temple. Although this precept refers to monasteries, the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center is currently supported entirely by its disciples, and its real estate is not under my name. At first it could have been, because I was the one who purchased it; I have also put a lot of money into this place since then. Also, when I bought it, the market price of property was more than NT$30,000 per square meter; I could easily have cooked the books had I wanted to. I did not, however, because I believe in cause and effect, and that any money I make should be earned outside of the Buddhist Center.

“The failure of these two disciples to safeguard the Buddhist Center caused it to suffer losses. Given that they had not kept the precepts, why should they be allowed to come here? Moreover, that believer’s daughter-in-law is not allowed to set foot in the Buddhist Center, either. Because I allow the disciples to learn a lot of different things, she was in a torma team at the time; in secret, though, she had collected a sum of money to serve as funds for her team to use. This sort of activity is not permitted at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center; if I even hear of any borrowing or lending going on among Dharma brothers, I will ask them to leave. If my disciples are broke, they can come and tell me. If their motives for wanting some money are reasonable, I will lend a hand. The purpose of this policy is to prevent financial dealings, which can be the root of conflict.

“No serious conflicts have occurred at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center since its founding in 1997; this is because its guru manages it by drawing from the precepts. In legal terms, that disciple who gathered funds for her torma team was seeking profit, no matter how they ended up using the money. For example, if an employee of a company were put in charge of a project and told his coworkers that he needed them all to donate a certain amount to put into a fund which he himself administered, then what would his superiors do once they found out? They would certainly fire him. People who commit wrongdoings in the mundane world will make mistakes in their Buddhist practice, too; if they do not amend their ways in Buddhism, then they will continue to do the wrong thing in society as well.

“Neither that disciple nor his wife, therefore, is allowed to enter the Buddhist Center. Before passing away, his father had met with me twice, and only participated in two pujas. What did he cultivate? It was very simple: He cultivated faith, aspiration, and practice. Having been punished for five years, these two disciples must have constantly told him that their guru is very good and could help him. Why did I allow these two disciples back in today? It was not because I pitied them due to their father’s death; rather, I had been testing them for five whole years, waiting for them to finally amend their ways.

“Don’t think that I ban people out of anger. How could I be angry? Actually, the Bodhisattvas use various Dharma methods to liberate sentient beings; I would not get carried away by your desires. The more desires you have, the more I need to sort you out. Yesterday, for example, a disciple who had taken refuge for more than four years suddenly sought an audience with me to ask about whether there is a problem with his job. I immediately asked him to leave.

“For more than five years those two disciples had been praising their guru in front of their father. When you take refuge, you are constantly told that you should praise the guru’s merits. It is not that the guru needs your praises; nor do the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Rather, it is that praise is a form of offering, and good fortune and causal conditions can only be accumulated by making offerings. However, many people stop speaking praise as soon as they go home. Strangely, adherents of other religions speak praise and chant every day without fear of being scolded or driven away; why, then, do you ask your guru for everything and still want to look good at home? You won’t even speak praise of the guru in front of your family members, for fear that they will mock you for being superstitious. When have I ever taught you to be superstitious, though?

“From what happened it is obvious that they had been speaking praise of their guru all along; otherwise, that elderly gentleman would never have taken heed. You, on the other hand, are afraid of getting under people’s skin if you speak too much praise in front of them. You do not want to talk about it every day, because you all just hope to have a harmonious home life. You think practicing Buddhism is your own private affair, after all. Sometimes I see a lot of phenomena in the Buddhist world that make me very sad. If people in other religions can get results, then why can’t we Buddhist practitioners? As soon as we are criticized by someone, we hide right back in our shells! Buddhism, however, does not teach people to do anything bad! In Taiwan these days, the Buddhist world is constantly being bullied; this is your fault. The Buddha said we should not fight with people, but He did not say that once you have begun learning the Dharma and changed your lifestyle accordingly, you are then not allowed to tell anyone about it.

“Tantra cannot be taught in public, but Exoteric Buddhism can. Even a basketball player feels grateful to his lord when the ball is going into the net. You, on the other hand, wouldn’t thank the Bodhisattvas or me after striking it rich; you would think you earned the money all on your own. This is why other religions are becoming more and more prosperous while Buddhism, despite seeming to have a lot of believers, can count on the fingers of two hands the amount of people who genuinely have faith—and there would still be fingers left over! I am an expert on transferring consciousness; every month, I liberated quite a few deceased. Only a tiny few can pass away while still sitting up, and this includes my disciples.

“I, too, cultivate faith, aspiration, and practice; without faith, I naturally cannot form any aspirations, and without aspirations I of course cannot amend my ways. No matter what your desires are, if you practice Buddhism based on your desires, then you will definitely not be able to initiate an aspiration. Even the hope that you can liberate sentient beings is a desire. It is written very clearly in the Diamond Sutra that any Bodhisattva that thinks He or She is liberating sentient beings is not, in fact, a Bodhisattva. There were obviously 1300 people present, and I was performing the Dharma for everyone at the same time; if I did not feel compassion for everyone equally, then how could that believer have been liberated? When he registered to participate in this puja, he did not tell me he was going to die or remind me to pay special attention to him. What happened was because Bodhisattvas treat everyone equally.

“Any practitioner who thinks he or she is practicing Buddhism in order to liberate sentient beings is not on the Bodhisattva Path. When this practitioner realizes that he or she is not following the Arhat Path, either, then what should the practitioner do? What happened that day was a manifestation of the Dharma for everyone to see. The most important thing for a Buddhist practitioner is to die without any suffering. Why, despite all your chanting and prostrations, do you not achieve realization? It is because you are cultivating good fortune but not merits. What does it mean to cultivate good fortune? It means wanting to live in comfort, and desiring this and that!”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked a doctor-disciple, whose family had been Catholic for two generations before converting to Buddhism, how long he had been practicing medicine. The doctor-disciple answered that it had been thirty-five or thirty-six years. The guru asked whether he had ever seen anyone die in a wheelchair without falling out of it. The disciple answered that he had not, and said, “According to commonly accepted medical knowledge, a person is unable to sit upright after dying because the nerves relax and the muscles and bones become paralyzed. After a while, rigor mortis gradually sets in. Therefore, a person’s body goes limp at the time of death.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to bestow teachings. “A Buddhist explanation of why a person with faith, aspiration, and practice can continue sitting upright at the time of death is that by way of meditation, his or her mind becomes completely focused on everything the guru says and every mantra he chants, and is not distracted by wandering thoughts. Before I ascended the Dharma throne a little while ago, I reverently read a work by Master Gampopa. In it was mention that we should practice with our mind separate from our consciousness. I have said this to you before; we use our consciousness to do so many things every day that we no longer can differentiate between it and our mind. This is the crux of practicing Buddhism. That believer’s consciousness had completely stopped, and he was using his mind to listen to the Dharma. Because of this, by the time he stopped breathing, he was already in a meditative state.

“You, on the other hand, would not be able to help but move. Even if you kept still at first, your mouths would twitch and your eyes would squint, and you would prod at your hair. This is because your minds are not on the here and now. If your minds are not focused, then there is no use in continuing to practice. Nevertheless, I still will go ahead and perform the Dharma for you, because as a Rinpoche I have to do certain things, or else it will seem like I am not helping you. Amitayus is Amitabha Buddha’s Sambhogakaya. If you receive transmission of the Amitayus Empowerment at some point in this lifetime, then even if you have not cultivated well, initiated an aspiration, or believed, you still are bound be able to go to Amitabha’s Pure Land in some future lifetime.

“The Dharma text of Amitayus was not orally transmitted by Shakyamuni Buddha; rather, it is an earth terma that was passed down from Mother Buddha Machig Drubpejema. Exoteric Buddhism makes no mention of Mother Buddhas, but Tantrism does. Mother Buddhas are not wives of gurus; nor are they wives of Buddhas. The definition of a Mother Buddha is one who has manifested in the body of a female, but such a person is not anyone’s wife, so you must be careful not to misunderstand. In the past a so-called Tantric practitioner passed away, and some people began to call his widow ‘Mother Buddha,’ but this appellation was not actually correct.

“A Mother Buddha is a convenient representative of compassion and wisdom. We all know that our mothers’ love for us is completely unconditional, despite the fact that some mothers are different. From the time she first falls pregnant, a mother will do absolutely anything for her child. Thus, Tantrism expediently uses the female sex to represent compassion. Reminding us of the benevolence our mothers have shown while raising us, therefore, is an easy way of getting us to feel the benevolence of other sentient beings. All sentient being are benevolent toward us. Even if they do not amount to 100% of the devotion and love shown us by our mothers, they can at least show a little part of that.

“Tantrism’s use of Mother Buddhas as convenient representatives also breaks our minds from discrimination by keeping us from thinking that males cultivate better than females. The point of the Amitayus lies in the fact that throughout our many lifetimes, all of the evil acts we commit cause our longevity to become damaged, dispersed, broken, twisted, fractured, shaken, and stolen away by demons and ghosts. How do they steal it? Anyone who smokes tobacco, eats meat, loves the taste of garlic, and deceives people all the time will have his or her longevity stolen away by ghosts and demons. As long as such people have worshipped at a shrine or temple at some point while committing any of the aforementioned evil acts, then whenever they help you, they will take away your longevity. Why would they suddenly help you out of the blue? If you have not asked for anything from them, and have only ever treated them with respect, then they will not take anything from you. If something is stolen from you, it means you are just as greedy as those demons and ghosts.

“Longevity is part of a person’s good fortune. Let me emphasize that the reason I am performing the Amitayus today is not to extend your lives or make you immortal. Once your longevity has been scattered, broken, twisted, and so on, then you become vulnerable to suffering an accident; the same is true if your longevity has been stolen by demons and ghosts. Accidents are of course the result of antecedents. The reason the world is plagued by so many volcano eruptions and earthquakes these days is that we humans have destroyed it with our greed. Natural disasters and other calamities keep happening, one after another; for example, a ferry capsized, killing more than four hundred people, and a gas station exploded, resulting in more than one hundred deaths.

“I would not dare to guarantee how many benevolent acts you might do in this lifetime, nor would I assume to know how much good you have done in your past lives. Your advantage over other people, however, is that at least you want to learn Buddhism. That being the case, it is my hope that you will not die an untimely death in this lifetime. Untimely deaths involve dying when you shouldn’t—meaning, before your lifespan is depleted. They include deaths resulting from taking the wrong medicine, being hit by people out of nowhere on the street, and so on. There are many ghostly beings in this Age of Degenerate Dharma, so as soon as you give rise to a greedy or hateful thought, those ghosts and demons are liable to take advantage of the situation and enter your minds. You will not see them coming, though. More than 98% of those who claim they have seen ghosts were actually hallucinating. It is explained in the sutras that ghosts are very light but practically invisible smoke; they are even lighter than incense smoke, and seem almost nonexistent.

“Once our longevity has been drained and damaged, our four major elements—Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water—will decrease. Our bodies are made of these four elements, which were produced when our mothers’ blood and our fathers’ essence combined. It is written in the sutras that if a person’s four major elements fall out of harmony, then he or she will become ill. What causes them to get out of synch? We are born with our Earth, Wind, Fire, and Water in balance; they are all at the exact same percentage. Our subsequent actions are what cause them to fall out of balance. For example, people who are very greedy will lose some of their Water element. Greed is a very broad term, but as soon as you lose some Water, you will become inexplicably skinny and your skin will dry out. People who suffer major losses of their Earth element are those who commit evil acts; for example, those who abuse animals, hit people, and so on. After losing it, they become liable to fall and break their bones; in addition, they can easily succumb to fever and their bodies become overly sensitive, etc. This is the result of taking life, including eating meat.

“People with too much Fire constantly lose their tempers, and like to tell lies and brag. This is the reason we observe the precept against frivolous talk; not engaging in it means not saying anything that is unrelated to the Dharma. This is a precept that all monastics must keep. Any monastic who speaks of matters that have nothing to do with Buddhism has broken the precept against frivolous talk. Many people think the phrase, ‘do not engage in frivolous talk,’ means that they shouldn’t tell dirty jokes or stir up other people’s desires. For ordinary people this may be the case, but if you say you want to practice, then you must refrain from talking about anything that is unrelated to Buddhism. In other words, anything you say that does not cause the person to whom you are talking to experience the Dharma is included in the scope of frivolous talk. Thus, people who engage in a lot of frivolous talk will gradually lose their Fire element. Such people will age quickly, and the same is true of people who smoke cigarettes, because doing so consumes their Fire. People who lose their Fire are very vulnerable to respiratory illnesses such as bronchitis, which after a while turn to fibrosis.” Right then and there, the doctor-disciple confirmed what Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said: “The next step after fibrosis is total respiratory failure. This can affect the heart; insufficient oxygen in the body can then lead to organ failure. People with this sort of problem age quickly, too, and no amount of beauty care will help.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued. “People sure are strange. They simply refuse to believe. A while back, I read an article that said smoking a single cigarette will shorten a person’s lifespan by at least six minutes. Go ahead, keep letting your family members smoke! Once you have lost your Wind, then according to traditional Chinese medicine, all of your bodily functions will cease to work properly. Western medicine places importance on the lungs and breathing, whereas traditional Chinese medicine places importance on qi. Western doctors do not give much credence to the existence of qi, because their machines cannot detect it; as such, they base their observations on breathing, which is a response produced by the lungs and windpipe.

“On Chinese New Year’s Day I predicted that there would be an outbreak of illnesses affecting the respiratory system and lungs, and so far this has indeed been the case. People in Taiwan these days are suffering a lot of problems with their respiratory tracts. I am always urging you all to stop eating ice, but you never listen; you think such illnesses couldn’t happen to you. Dying suddenly is not such a big deal; the most frightening thing is a long, drawn-out death. That involves a great deal of suffering. No one believes me; you all think that if you really do get sick, you can just go to the doctor and be cured. By the time you go to the hospital, however, it’s already too late.” The doctor-disciple said that this was indeed true: “Slow-progressing conditions are often undetectable. For example, if you walk to Tibet, you might not be able to perceive the difference in altitude, but if you fly there you will feel it immediately and have great difficulty in breathing as soon as you step off the plane. Chronic illnesses likewise progress so slowly that you cannot even sense them. By the time your body reaches the critical point at which your organs begin to fail, it is absolutely too late to do anything about it.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to bestow teachings. “Today I am performing the Amitayus so that your longevity, good fortune, wealth, life, health, means, and qi will stop draining away. There are of course conditions, however. If you do not keep the precepts and continue to eat meat, smoke cigarettes, swindle people, and grow lax, it will not work. The reason there are so many people in Taiwan these days who have psychological problems is that they have let their minds grow lax; they think that they can get away with doing and thinking evils, and that no one will find out. If you do not change your way of thinking, then the Dharma I perform today will only help you to form a connection. Moreover, the reason I am performing the Amitayus for you today is that it is my hope that sentient beings in the Six Realms will all have enough time, in this lifetime, to become liberated from life and death. How much is ‘enough time?’ It is not necessarily fifty or sixty years; it is very difficult to say. Take that believer, for example: It was enough for him after only having participated in a couple of pujas. For you, on the other hand, it is decidedly not enough even after coming here two thousand times. Why is it so? It is because you do not believe.

“Last time, I made special mention of how a Bodhisattva achieves fruition, as is written in the Ratnakuta Sutra. The first prerequisite is cultivating faith, and believing everything taught by the Buddha and the guru. As long as you listen and act accordingly, you can definitely achieve attainment—but this does not mean you should think you can immediately cultivate to the point of being able to help sentient beings. There is constant mention in the Diamond Sutra that any Bodhisattva who thinks He or She can help sentient beings is not actually a Bodhisattva, but no one heeds this warning. Some would ask, ‘Didn’t the Buddha teach us that we should vow to help sentient beings? What about the saying, “First learn the Dharma, and then help sentient beings?”’ Sure, but this saying can only be uttered by practitioners who have attained Emptiness, which means they have a profound understanding that all conditions arise and cease. The reason I transferred that believer’s consciousness in front of all 1300 people present was that I have attained Emptiness; I do not perform the Dharma for selfish reasons. I assist anyone who needs my help.

“Why would the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas assist any sentient beings who implore for their help? They will not grant your desires; rather, they will help you to resolve the great problem of becoming liberated from life and death. As long as you supplicate this way, you are sure to become attuned to them, because this is the whole purpose of my performing the Dharma for you. This is what having one’s wishes granted really means. It does not mean being poor and imploring Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara to help you strike it rich so that you can hold a wedding reception for your son; nor does it include asking for help to get your man to listen to you, or to make your ex return your things to you. None of these things will help you to become attuned with the Bodhisattva, because they are just desires.

“What makes a practitioner improve? The term ‘improve’ does not refer to what you might imagine. Rather, because the practitioner has stopped committing any evil, any benevolent action, no matter how small, is more useful than one hundred benevolent actions you yourselves might perform. This is because the practitioner is not swayed by the force of evil. What about you? For example, when that disciple yesterday told me that he was under a lot of pressure at work, I asked him who it was getting paid a salary. He answered that he was the one getting paid. If that’s the case, then what business is it of mine? If he felt under an enormous amount of pressure, then he could have just quit his job. Everyone looks at Buddhism through the tainted goggles of their own desires. As for why he was having problems at work, it certainly was not just something that happened overnight, but no one listens.

“You must have faith in the Dharma. Why don’t I denominate people as major benefactors? Actually, I understand how this trick works, too; I, too, came from an Exoteric Buddhist background. At the time, while following my Dharma master, I saw the situation very clearly, and I even once asked him, ‘Why are the major benefactors allowed to sit up front, and why do those who are not major benefactors have to sit in the back?’ The answer I got was, ‘Because Bodhisattvas want to be able to see the major benefactors clearly.’ I therefore resolved to stop following that Dharma master, because if this really were true, then what would a person without any money do? It really is not the case, but people’s minds are very easily contaminated by this sort of practice.

“When His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang began to allow me to take on disciples, as a lay practitioner I had already made a very firm decision: In this lifetime, I would never accept offerings from anyone who was not my disciple. Of course, I have made exceptions for some people whom I want to help form affinities, but even in those cases I only accept offerings of 100 or 1,000 NT dollars. Why won’t I accept offerings from non-disciples? It is because I am afraid of giving rise to a discriminating mind. Only in this way can a practitioner achieve attainment. We should not dwell on what sort of root capacity we might have; instead, we should be more humble and modest so as to avoid making mistakes. If you are self-righteous, then you are certain to encounter problems along your path to cultivation, and you will become more and more arrogant.

“Do not labor under the misapprehension that males are better than females. Although it is true that the Buddha set forth a precept requiring female attendees to press their palms together and bow whenever they see a male attendee, this is just a ritual; it does not mean that men are any better than women when it comes to cultivation. Dharma Protector Achi is female, as is the Venerable Machig Labdron. Even the yidam whose Dharma method I will be performing today is female. However, you also must not think that all women who practice are guaranteed to become well-cultivated, either. Shakyamuni Buddha wished to achieve a psychological equilibrium between the sexes so that no one would say that they are unequal. Shakyamuni Buddha was quite progressive, so you need to stop saying that He was old-fashioned or behind the times. A few thousand years ago, the Buddha had already raised this argument for equality between the sexes. It is also written in the sutras that the Buddha deliberately called out a disciple who had looked down on a female who became a Bodhisattva.

“According to Buddhism, it is only a certain sort of causal condition, whether you are a man or a woman. Today I am going out of my way to perform a special Dharma which, in this Age of Degenerate Dharma with its myriad crises, you all should cherish. Don’t think that once this Dharma has been performed—or because I have said it can extend your longevity—it necessarily means you will be like the Invincible Iron King. If you have a long life, but do not use it to practice Buddhism, then you are liable to encounter other forms of suffering. If you do not vow to leave life and death behind, and are only practicing Buddhism to satisfy certain desires, then the Dharma being performed here today will be of no use to you.”

Next, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the Amitayus Empowerment Ritual. In the meantime, the ordained disciples offered the mandala and implored the Dharma from the guru on behalf of all sentient beings. After conducting the ritual for a while, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche spoke of the contents of the Dharma text as well as the empowerment’s visualization technique and benefits. After transmitting the samaya, the guru continued to bestow teachings.

“Just now we recited the samaya. If you do not continue to practice Buddhism, then it is okay. Actually, though, I feel like I’ve been tricked, too; I should probably not have led you in a recital of the words, ‘I will be my guru’s disciple through lifetime after lifetime.’ The samaya is not used as a form of punishment. If you do not observe them, it means you are not making offerings of your body, speech, and mind to the guru; as such, you will not achieve attainment in this lifetime, nor will you be able to serve as that particular guru’s disciples. Some people do not understand why the samaya of Tantrism is so strict. The main point of observing it is that until we have attained Buddhahood, we need our guru’s blessings and help. There are many different sorts of gurus, but in the end, the most important ones are those who can orally transmit the Dharma and teach us how to practice it. This is because we do not have the good fortune, merits, and causal conditions necessary to be directly taught by the Buddha. Yidams are very important, too, but because you do not have sufficient good fortune to come in contact with them, you need a guru to perform the Dharma for you so that you can form connections with the yidams.

“The lesson to be learned from the saying, ‘I will be my guru’s disciple through lifetime after lifetime,’ is not that you should rely on your guru to liberate you through all lifetimes; rather, it is that your guru can continuously teach you how to attain Buddhahood. If this is not your aspiration, then you do not need to observe the samaya. If you feel that you do, however, then you should—and this means that you must thoroughly listen to everything your guru says. Your guru will not teach you to go against society’s ethics and morals or do bad things; your guru will, however, teach you what you need to know to practice Buddhism. If you cling to your own ideas, you will have a very difficult time achieving cultivation. With the empowerment I just performed, as you know, even committing verbal transgressions will shorten your lifespan. This includes deceiving others, telling lies, thinking you can pull the wool over people’s eyes, and so on.

“Some would wonder, Can even thinking the evil shorten my life? As is written in the sutras, having an evil intention can indeed drain away your longevity. What signs foretell of a shortened lifespan? It is quite simple; early on, you will succumb to some minor illnesses. If you have a ton of these, it means there is a problem with your organs, and then of course your longevity will be shortened. Some people are not vigilant; they assume they will remain healthy. What is the point of being healthy? Is it so that you can see your children marry and have children of their own, and watch your grandkids do the same? Not at all; the purpose of good health is to allow you to continue practicing. I am not performing the Dharma for you today out of compassion, as you might think; nor am I doing it so that you can finish paying off your mortgages before you die. Who cares if you don’t pay off your mortgage? The worst that can happen is that the bank will take away your house, so what does it matter? You hope to live long enough to see your son get a PhD degree, but this puja will not fulfill these wishes of yours.

“A moment ago, we recited the samaya. If you do not observe them, it’s okay; it just means that you will not be able to practice this Dharma method, and will leave here today having merely formed a connection. If you want to practice this Dharma, you will have to observe the samaya we just recited. If you do not observe them, however, then you definitely will not be able to achieve realization in this Dharma. When I first began following His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, it had never occurred to me that I might someday become a Rinpoche; nor did I ever ask him what would happen after obtaining his help. I did not dwell on any of this; I simply did as I was told. This is what it means to have faith; I believed profoundly that one day I would definitely achieve attainment. If I had clung to my own ideas, then of course I would not have been able to succeed.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to perform the Dharma, and led the disciples in the Dharma Protector Achi ritual and dedication prayer. Upon the perfect completion of the Dharma, he continued to bestow precious teachings.

“There is something that I would like to remind you all about. You absolutely must not make a vow to die at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center while I am performing a puja. Without the proper causal conditions and good fortune, you would not be able to die even if you wanted to. When I first began teaching you about Buddhism, I told you that you should be constantly mindful of death and impermanence. Don’t assume you will die at a set time, or whenever you want to. Actually, looking at death from a Buddhist point of view, reincarnation is just a change of the house you live in. The suicide rate these days is very high. The reason people kill themselves is that they killed a lot of sentient beings in their past lives. They have no opportunity to kill other people, so they kill themselves. Any life you take—whether it is yours or someone else’s—will make it extremely likely that you will fall into hell.

“The first time I saw someone who had died by suicide, I caught a glimpse of the hell he had fallen into, and it was very terrifying. I saw the deceased wandering through a blackness that was so dark he could not see his fingers in front of his face. It seemed to him that he was sitting alone in a house, but in fact he was in a hell realm filled to the brim with suicide victims who were constantly reliving their deaths, over and over. There is no telling how many times they must experience their horrible demise; it might go on for as long as a millennium or two, waking up every single day to kill themselves all over again, as regularly as eating a meal. If you want to experience this, then go ahead and take your own life! Many people think suicide represents an end of all their pain, but this is not true by a long shot. Some believe killing themselves is a way of expressing their love for their partners. That is the stupidest notion in the whole world!

“The reason killing leads to a shortened lifespan is that as soon as you think a murderous thought, whether toward yourself or toward someone else, your luck turns bad. Look around you: Whenever you hear someone call out a plan to commit suicide, you will notice that his or her health soon begins to decline, and afterward everything will go wrong for that person. This is the result of giving rise to an evil thought which, although it might only be about killing oneself rather than someone else, nevertheless leads to hatred—and once a person succumbs to that sort of mindset, everything will begin to fall apart. As you go through life, some people will treat you badly, while others will be good to you; everything that happens is the result of your behavior in your past lives. Once you have repaid all your debt, you are done; you do not need to keep worrying about it or trying to change it.

“The reason I have performed the Amitayus for you all today is certainly not so that you will be able to live longer than others and watch how they die; rather, it is to give you more time in which to amend your ways. Some people want to change, but they run out of time; they die as soon as their karmic retribution manifests. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have many expedient means to teach us, but their purpose is not for us to live a bit longer and enjoy ourselves in this evil time of the Five Turbidities; instead, the point is to provide us with more time in which to change. Don’t think you have plenty of time, because you do not. You came here today just to participate in a puja, but I actually began the preparatory puja yesterday because I have to bestow it upon all of you.

“Performing a puja is different from simply reciting the sutras, as is done in Exoteric Buddhism. You can recite sutras even if your mind is not in a meditative state, because you will not need to give away anything that way. Without sufficient good fortune, however, a guru cannot perform the Amitayus. I am giving you this empowerment today not so that you can continue behaving badly or deceiving people; my goal is to provide you with enough time to change your evil acts of body, speech, and mind in this lifetime. You must stop this behavior immediately; you cannot delay even for a single second. Don’t think that it doesn’t matter, and that you have enough lifespan that you can just go ahead and commit an evil act now and deal with the consequences later. None of you believes in collective karma! Why did more than four hundred people die when that ferry capsized? It was the result of collective karma. Perhaps they all did bad things together in a past lifetime that caused them to all die at once when their time was up.

“The definition of collective karma includes that which results from committing an evil act together, or encouraging someone else to do something while looking on and making money as a result of that action, or even living off money earned by a person who has engaged in a wrongdoing. Don’t be under the illusion that you practice Buddhism well; even if you do many prostrations it will do you no good, due to the existence of collective karma. Many people who do not like that their wives practice Buddhism are in the same boat. For example, if the man opens a restaurant, and as soon as the woman starts practicing she declares that she cannot share in his collective karma, then the man is sure to be very opposed to her Buddhist practice. Buddhism really is in a very sorry state these days. Islam forbids eating pork so strictly that none of its constituents would ever dream of breaking that rule, yet you all eat meat without remorse even though Buddhism teaches you to eat vegetarian for your own good.

“Nowadays people’s minds are in a perilous state. Everyone takes advantage of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to achieve their own goals. It seems there are even people on death row who claim they have repented and believe in the Buddha now, and think their lives should therefore be spared. Whether they are executed or not, they are still going to die, and killing people still leads to karmic retribution. Do you think having faith in the Buddha will protect you? You must not think that way. Belief in the Buddha merely promises you an opportunity to change for the better in a future lifetime; if you have committed a crime in this one, then you must admit to it and face what’s coming to you. The Dharma I have performed today is not as simple as you imagine it to be; it is more complicated than reciting the sutras. If a guru is not confident, then he or she definitely should not attempt to perform this Dharma, because completely giving his or her good fortune and merits to the attendees would leave nothing for the guru. Who is willing to give that much?

“The reason I did not start out wearing my Dharma hat, and only put it on later, is that donning it represents the yidam giving something to you. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas do nothing but give; this is compassion—exchanging something good of themselves for something bad of yours. Now that it has been given to you, if you continue to act like fools and have a heap of twisted thoughts, then nothing good will come of it. You might not feel you have gained
anything; you might think your Earth element has not been piled up, your Wind element has not blown, your Water element has not rained on you, and your Fire element has not been set ablaze. Strictly speaking, Earth, Wind, Water, and Fire are just elements; can your eyes see such miniscule particles? If you can actually sense them, then I greatly admire you, for it means you have the divine power of heavenly eye.

“Some people still adhere to other religions, and just come to participate in the pujas as a way to seek protection and blessings. I don’t mean that they should quit their faiths; rather, other religions have need of the Dharma’s help, too. One time, while chanting mantras at a location in India, I saw a Hindu deity approach with a retinue of ghosts following. After I finished chanting, I asked the seneschal next to me whether there was a temple nearby, and he confirmed that there was. When I told him that the deity was very large, the seneschal said that must have been Shiva—a deity positioned at the top of the totem pole in Hinduism. This seneschal’s family was akin to the spirit mediums, or Jitong, here in Taiwan, so he, too, was able to see Shiva, and knew that the deity had indeed approached just as I said it had.

“From this we can see that even deities will come immediately after hearing the Dharma. There are also people who think of themselves as adherents of certain religions, and therefore think of those faiths as their own. Actually, there are no religions; they are all just the result of people’s attachments and desire for spiritual sustenance. No true religion actually exists on Earth; the so-called ‘religions’ in this world are nothing more than lifestyles manufactured by various powers and authoritative forces. Only Buddhism genuinely teaches humanity to turn from evil to good, and 100% of those teachings are true. If a practitioner is unable to get people to feel the auspiciousness of the Dharma, and only rely on a monastery or a Main Hall of Worship to show people, that would not be useful, however. Of utmost importance is to help everyone come to realize how the Buddha benefits sentient beings. Only then will people begin to believe.

“It is exasperating sentient beings right now are still blinded by their attachments even when they stand at the gates of hell. Thus, you monastics should not desire to be reborn in this world; keep practicing diligently and aspiring to be reborn in the Pure Land. You should return to this world to fulfill your vows when you have attained the ability. If you do not achieve fruition in this lifetime, then you will come back to this world at the mercy of your karma. As long as you vow to be reborn in the Pure Land one day, then no matter which yidam’s Dharma method you practice, it is sure to help you get there. This is an absolute certainty. In this Age of Degenerate Dharma, relying on meditation to achieve fruition is exceedingly difficult. If the air is bad, how can you meditate? For this reason, Shakyamuni Buddha revealed this Dharma method to us so that achieving attainment would be easier for sentient beings trapped in this Saha World in the Age of Degenerate Dharma and the evil time of the Five Turbidities. As for how long you should chant before you are able to go to the Pure Land, don’t bother asking. You will go as soon as you have possessed causal conditions and enough good fortune!

“The worst form of human suffering is that of illness and death. This is what we should practice for; not for what is known as ‘love’ these days. What is love? You all should take a closer look at the way the second character of the Chinese word for ‘love’—qing—is written. On one side is the symbol for ‘heart,’ and on the other is the character for ‘green.’ In ancient times, however, ‘green’ meant ‘black.’ Thus, if you do not want your heart to darken, then do not talk about love; those who do are black of heart. The ancients who created characters were quite skilled. The first character in the word for ‘love’—ai—is a heart squashing down on the symbol for ‘friend,’ and at the very top are what look like a trio of knives. Do you still want to talk about love now? There is no such thing as ‘true love;’ that’s just make-believe nonsense. You need emotions to live; neither I nor the Buddha will stop you from having them. However, you must let go of your attachments.

“If you take a clear look at Chinese characters, you will agree that they are absolutely remarkable! The most powerful written language in the whole world is Chinese. Qing is a black heart, and three knives hover above ai. In other words, speaking about love means controlling one’s emotions. If you cannot take control of your emotions, then you should not talk about love, because you will just get taken advantage of. When people fall in love, it means they had a connection in a previous lifetime that caused them to come together in this one. If they are happy, then they should stay together; if not, then they should say goodbye and start over. With today’s population of more than 6.1 billion, I refuse to believe that you cannot find a partner—nor do I believe that any particular person, and only that person, is the one for you.

“Today I have performed the Amitayus for you not to give you more time to find your Prince Charming; I simply want you to see clearly how attached and blind you have been in the past. Having made mistakes, your only recourse is to set out again on fresh feet. Take that disciple, for example, who was not allowed to enter the Buddhist Center for five years: Even he was able to help his father receive the Phowa. The Buddha never said that making a mistake will send you past the point of no return; if you are willing to look around, you will glimpse another shore—the Buddha’s Pure Land. However, you must actually turn and look for it. This means looking back over your shoulder at your past mistakes, not looking back at the other shore; this other shore is in front of you. You should indeed view your own mistakes in retrospect, but do not talk about other people’s mistakes, because everything that happened to you is your own fault. If you had taken no part in a certain event, then it would not have occurred.

“Don’t resent someone for dumping you after you have devoted so much energy to him or her, for actually, this is a very good thing, because it means you have repaid the debt you owed that person. I treat you so well, yet you do not dedicate yourselves to me completely. It is written in the Dharma text that you should make offerings of your body, speech, and mind to the guru, yet not one of you has succeeded in doing that. Therefore, this sort of thing is your own debt; once you have repaid it, you can say goodbye. Don’t go looking for a new debt to take on, or wonder who out there owes you. There is also no need for you to go around saying that you feel there must be someone who owes you a debt because I told you so.

“Some people who seek audience with me seem to think their problems are matters of life and death. When I ask them whether or not they like their partners, they say that they do, and when I ask if they have ever been happy, they tell me that they have. I tell them that being happy is enough, and that as long as they remember they were once happy, they will be fine; there is no need to dwell on anything else. Wouldn’t thinking on it further just hurt themselves and other people? Don’t think that your partner is really bad for taking advantage of you; this is that person’s fate, and has nothing to do with you. It just means that there is no more connection left between you and your partner; if the affinity between you two has ended, then it has ended. The way in which I have helped you all today is definitely related to your Buddhist practice, nothing else; as for whether you will enjoy good health and good fortune, it all depends on your minds and on the vows you have made.

Upon the perfect completion of the puja, the disciples thanked His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for compassionately bestowing the empowerment and Dharma teachings. Rising to their feet, they paid reverent homage as the guru descended the Dharma throne.

« Previous – Puja TeachingsNext »

Updated on September 24, 2018