His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – June 14, 2015

Before the puja began, a disciple shared an account of the compassionate blessings and assistance her husband (who had also taken refuge in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche) had received from the guru, from when he had fallen ill ten months ago right up until his recent death. She also repented for all of the evil acts she had committed throughout her past lives.

Her husband had died as a result of colorectal cancer. Last Sunday (June 7th), while participating in the rare and auspicious Amitayus and Empowerment Puja presided over by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, her husband had been especially conscious and aware. At the end of the puja, while the guru was walking past him, the Dharma brother in charge of looking after her husband during the whole puja had noticed tears streaming from both of his eyes. Most people die with their mouths wide open, as if unable to finish drawing in that final breath. When her husband’s time had come, however, his appearance had been completely different. Compared to the agony and suffering he’d endured throughout the terrible progression of his cancer, the expression on his face had been very peaceful, without any pain, in the moment of his death; in fact, he had looked as if he’d simply fallen asleep. The disciple knew that this was all thanks to the His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings and auspicious performance of the Dharma to transfer his consciousness, allowing him to go to the Pure Land. While feeling her husband’s crown chakra, she had discovered that it was quite warm to the touch. In addition, his lips had turned pink, his eyes and mouth had gradually closed, and his hands and feet had become soft. These were all auspicious signs from the performance of the Dharma by the guru, and their manifestation had moved her beyond words. She was grateful to the guru, for her husband had finally been liberated from the suffering sea of reincarnation and would be reborn in the Pure Land.

She recalled toward the end of July of last year (2014), in response to chronic anal pain, her husband had undergone a colonoscopy at a major hospital. After discovering an anomaly, the doctor had taken tissue samples for a biopsy. In October of the previous year (2013), her husband’s health checkup report had shown that all was normal, but this time they’d had to return home and await the test results uneasily for two weeks until the doctor got back from a trip overseas. After returning, her husband’s anus had begun to hurt even more as a result of the biopsy, and his bowel movements had begun to come more and more frequently. On August 12th, 2014, the biopsy report had come back showing that he had colorectal cancer, but that it had not metastasized. The doctor had looked at him with a solemn expression on his face, and in a firm voice had said, “Even though it hasn’t metastasized, the cancer cells inside your body are extremely robust and malevolent. The speed at which they are multiplying and growing is quite high, so it is vital that we cut out the tumors immediately, and remove your entire anus. A bed has already been arranged for you in the ward.” The doctor had also informed them that creating an artificial stoma was a very common procedure these days. His stern tone of voice had left the disciple’s husband too flustered to object. Her husband’s younger brother had asked what sort of treatment he would have to go through after the operation, and the doctor had replied that they would not know for sure until after surgery. The disciple’s husband had stuttered out a request to let him mull it over awhile, and had asked the doctor to issue him an official certificate of diagnosis. They had then left the hospital in a panicked state. Every week thereafter, they had returned to the hospital to see Doctor Xie, and had also visited the Glorious Jewel Chinese Medicine Clinic to fill prescriptions given by Doctor Huang.

After the biopsy samples were taken, the disciple’s husband had suffered diarrhea constantly, twenty-four hours a day. His anus had split, and the wound would not heal shut; this had gotten so bad that he was unable to go to work as normal, and had had no choice but to take a long leave of absence and remain at home. However, day after day, his condition had only worsened. Soon he’d been unable to sleep, and it had gotten so bad that he would sometimes take a blanket and pillow into the bathroom with him in an effort to get some shut-eye in there. This was because before that, every time he had been on his way back to bed after a trip to the toilet, he’d just had to turn right back around and sit through another bout of diarrhea. Not only had his internal tumors grown larger and larger, but little ones had even begun to appear all around the exterior of his anus. This had made it more and more difficult for him to complete a bowel movement, and it was not unusual for him to have to spend an entire hour in the bathroom. He had once lamented, “I finally understand why so many people end up committing suicide, unable to bear the suffering brought by their illnesses. Had I not had the opportunity to follow His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in this lifetime, then that is exactly what I would have done.”

She was grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having given her husband the opportunity to make full prostrations each Saturday while the guru was receiving believers at the Buddhist Center, as well as to accumulate good fortune by repenting for all of the evil acts he had committed which had harmed sentient beings throughout his past lives. At home, her husband had been physically unable to execute full prostrations, but every Saturday at the Buddhist Center, he’d been able to complete two or three hundred of them. She gave high praise to the guru’s remarkably powerful blessings!

From the time that he had fallen ill, her husband’s physique had continued to decline to the point that he constantly felt cold. In early January of this year, flatulence had caused him so much agony that he had no longer wanted to live. He would often lie in bed in a cold sweat, moaning and holding his stomach with both hands. After the Lunar New Year, his chronic pain had sent him into a pit of despair, and for nearly a month he was unwilling to take either Western or traditional Chinese medicine. One day she had discovered that her husband’s feet were affected by edema, so had urged him to get them checked out at the hospital. He had been adverse to the idea, complaining that he neither wanted to be treated nor examined. She had told her husband that he would not be subjected to any invasive treatment, but that they did need to understand whether or not the cancer cells had spread. He had then agreed to go to the hospital for a CT scan, and they had gotten the results on March 20th confirming that the cancer had metastasized to his abdominal cavity and lungs. After consulting with Doctor Xie about it, they had learned that the worst case scenario would be either for the cancer cells to penetrate his intestinal wall and further infect his chest cavity, which could lead to peritonitis and death, or for his lungs to fill up with water, causing total respiratory failure. Another possibility was that the cancer would continue to spread throughout his body, leaving her husband in so much pain that he would not want to live.

Her husband’s mood had been deeply affected by this news, and he had expressed a desire to simply leave the hospital and go home. Worried that he would be unable to bear the pain of the later stages of cancer, his family members had troubled Doctor Cai to help them register for hospice care. To their surprise, on the day of the appointment, the chief physician had seen her husband while he was walking into the examination room and told him, “Your condition is not so serious yet; you were able to walk here, whereas my other patients all have to be carried in. If you feel like you can put up with their constant wailing from the pain they’re in, then I can arrange a bed here for you in the ward.” However, the chief physician had also stipulated that if the disciple’s husband would not accept any form of treatment, then being hospitalized wouldn’t do him any good.

On April 4th, the disciple and her husband had sought an audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to repent for all of the sentient beings they had harmed in their past lives, as well as to earnestly implore the guru to perform the auspicious Phowa once her husband had died so that he could escape the suffering sea of reincarnation. The guru had consented, and she and her husband had both been extremely grateful. However, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had added that when the time came, it would still depend on her husband’s causal conditions. The guru had compassionately chanted the Hundred-Syllable Mantra, blessing her husband for a long time, and had then instructed her to remind her husband constantly that he should spend all of his waking hours chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche added, “Make daily dedications to the Western Pure Land of Utmost Bliss; not to anyone in particular.”

Her husband had sought an audience with His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and implored to make an offering to the guru twice, on April 11th and 18th respectively. Because her husband’s attitude while trying to make the offerings had been incorrect, the guru had refused him both times. Only after getting home and making a repentance had he finally understood why the guru had rejected his offerings. It is written in the Universal Gate Chapter of the Lotus Sutra that Bodhisattva Aksayamati makes offerings to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, who in turn makes offerings to Shakyamuni Buddha. From this we can see that even the great Bodhisattvas must make offerings, to say nothing of us lowly commoners. As Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche often says, offerings must be made as regularly as drinking water or breathing; it is not enough to simply make one whenever you have a problem. The disciple and her husband were both very grateful to the guru for having granted her husband the opportunity to make a public repentance before the start of the puja held on April 19th, 2015. Afterward, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had finally accepted her husband’s offering. (A detailed account of this can be found in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s April 19th, 2015 Journal entry in the paragraphs about her husband’s repentance, made before the puja began.)

She was thankful that the guru had broken her husband away from his attachments. Her husband had always cared a great deal about his reputation, and had never made a public repentance or praised the guru’s merits at the Buddhist Center. Only His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche can use various auspicious Dharma methods to help the disciples and other sentient beings. She was grateful to the guru for having finally accepted her husband’s offering during the audience held on May 2nd. Compassionately, and without regard to his own recently recovered health, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had chanted mantras and blessed her husband for quite a while before bestowing a precious nectar pill, which he’d told her to administer to her husband right away. The guru’s benevolence had caused her entire family to weep tears of gratitude.

After falling ill, her husband’s sense of taste had changed. Everything he chewed had turned bitter and sour in his mouth, so he had completely lost his appetite. He’d been growing weaker and weaker, rapidly losing weight, and constantly dropping in muscle mass; as a result, even the slightest movement or touch had been enough to send him into sheer agony. Furthermore, his breathing had begun to grow ragged, forcing him to wear an electronic oxygen mask while at home. Beginning in May, he had no longer been able to sit in a wheelchair while participating in the pujas, instead needing to lie flat. She was grateful for the assistance given by her Dharma brothers; whenever her husband’s younger brother’s car had arrived in front of the Buddhist Center’s building, they would quickly get out the wheelchair, hold up an umbrella, and help him out of the car, taking great care to make sure he was completely comfortable and did not bump into anything along the way. After getting him to the 17th floor, the Dharma brothers would work together to wheel him into the Buddhist Center and very carefully lie him down atop a sleeping bag. After the puja was over, many Dharma brothers would then help take her husband back downstairs and get him into the car. All of this generosity had deeply moved her, her husband, her daughter, and her husband’s younger brother. She thanked the Dharma brothers for all of their kind assistance.

Later, complaining of a complete lack of strength in his limbs, her husband had been unable to walk to the bathroom, so had had no choice but wear disposable diapers in bed. At first he’d been able to gently turn over on the bed by himself, but by May he had lost even the strength to do this. During the day his younger brother and daughter had had to change his diapers for him, but they could only do that twice daily, because each time they had to turn his body over, and this had caused him unbearable agony. On May 23rd, a Saturday evening, he had suddenly been filled with energy and begun chatting with his siblings about things that had happened when they were little, and he cried and laughed while talking. He even chatted with the disciple and their daughter until 1:00 a.m. that night.

After returning home from the puja held on Sunday, May 24th, her husband had grown very tired. He had suddenly called their daughter to his bedside and instructed, “After I’m gone, remember to remind your mom to give me a nectar pill.” He had lost consciousness immediately afterward. Her daughter had later told the disciple that her husband had looked just like the disciple’s father-in-law had when he’d passed away five years previously. She had then quickly placed a nectar pill beneath her husband’s tongue. She, her daughter, and her husband’s younger brother had then taken shifts, watching over her husband at his bedside. At around 4:00 in the afternoon on May 25th, he had suddenly awaken and said to their daughter, “I’m not gone so soon yet! I’m still here!” After returning home from the Chod Puja held on May 31st, he had been in a very depressed state. Turning to his younger brother, he’d said, “Why can’t I just die? I’ve been a burden on you all for such a long time.” She had reminded him, “We are Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s disciples; you mustn’t think that way. As our guru has often said, ‘without causal conditions and good fortune, you cannot die even if you want to.’”

On May 30th, her husband had suddenly started wanting to consume foods and beverages every day that he had enjoyed before falling ill—things such as coffee, papaya and milk juice, sesame paste, preserved tomatoes with dried plum, vegetable soup, and so on. However, he’d already begun to have difficulty swallowing, so he could only eat a tiny bit—just enough to stave off his hankerings. Beginning on June 1st, his bowels had moved non-stop for three days in a row. Each time, it had taken his younger brother and daughter at least an hour to clean him up. Due to her husband’s high degree of physical pain, they’d had no choice but to put another disposable diaper on him every time. In addition, purple bedsores had begun to appear on his arms. On June 4th, he had refused to take any more painkillers. The truly amazing thing was, while changing his diaper, they’d had to turn him to the left and then to the right, yet he had not cried out in pain even once. He had also announced that he could only consume liquids, because he would soon not be able to swallow anymore. Seeing her husband’s lips stop moving, and worrying that he might lose the strength to chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, the disciple had leaned down and whispered into his ear a reminder to keep on chanting. To her surprise, he had answered, “My brain is full of the Great Six-Syllable Mantra; I’m thinking about it constantly, even while I am asleep.” Only then had she realized the extent of His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s great compassion; the guru had never ceased to accumulate good fortune for her husband. On June 5th, her husband had told his younger brother that his head kept nodding downward, and said that this was what happened shortly before a person died.

His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had once asked during an audience granted to her daughter, “Given that your mom and dad have both taken refuge, why haven’t you?” The disciple wished to repent for having practiced Buddhism for more than five years without listening to the guru. She had neither implemented the Dharma in her daily life nor served as a good role model for her daughter; as a result, her daughter still had not made a firm resolution to practice Buddhism. That evening the disciple had said to her daughter, “You will no longer have much time showing your filial piety to your father; shouldn’t you do a few things for him?” In answer to this, on June 6th, a Saturday afternoon, her daughter had gone to the Buddhist Center to seek an audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. After her daughter had kneeled down, the guru had asked, “How may I help you?” Her daughter had reported, “Thank you, Rinpoche, for blessing my dad. Since June 4th, he hasn’t taken any painkillers, yet his abdominal tumors don’t hurt as much as they used to and his ascites has stopped. I implore you, please allow my father to be freed from reincarnation as soon as possible so that he might be reborn in the Pure Land.” After asking about her father’s name and zodiac sign, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had told her, “Your dad has colorectal cancer.” The guru had then chanted mantras and bestowed blessings upon the disciple’s husband for a long time before allowing their daughter to make prostrations before the Buddha in order to accumulate good fortune for her father.

Given the large number of people His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche saw every day, how could the guru have known that her husband had colorectal cancer? Ever since the biopsies had been taken, her husband had been in constant pain. Why had it suddenly stopped a few days prior to his death, despite the fact that he had not consumed any painkillers? Why had his tumors shrunk, despite a complete absence of treatment? Why had his ascites gone away, even though he had not taken any diuretics? From April 4th until the time he passed away, apart from going to the toilet, her husband had done nothing but chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra. She deeply believed that all of this was thanks to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s great compassion and all-embracing power. Back home, her daughter had hurriedly recounted to the family all that had happened. The entire family was grateful to the guru, and they all spoke praise of his unfathomable merits.

That day, her husband had even had trouble drinking water; soon after trying to suck it in, he would spit out any liquid that remained in his mouth. At 3:00 on the morning of June 7th, he had called out to her in a weak voice and asked her to roll his body into a posture in which he could better drink some water, but no sooner had he sucked it in with a straw than it had just leaked right back out. What was worse, his gaze had gone slack and his eyeballs were rolling up into his head. He’d also complained of feeling extremely hot, and she had discovered that his clothes and pillows were all drenched. Hurriedly, she had changed them out for dry ones and wiped the sweat from his body. Early that morning, while checking her husband’s diaper, her brother-in-law and daughter had discovered that he had not had a bowel movement, that the tumors around his anus had shrunk, and—most amazing of all—that no fluid had accumulated in his abdomen; it was completely flat. All the way to the Buddhist Center, however, he had neither uttered a word nor reacted to anything that anyone said to him; he had just continued to stare upwards. Even the medics in the ambulance had been unable to get a reaction out of him. Staring wide-eyed toward the sky, a slight smile had suddenly formed on his lips, and his teeth had projected outward. In that moment he had not really looked much like himself.

After conducting the Dharma and leading the disciples in a performance of the Dharma Protector Achi prayer, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had reminded everyone that they absolutely must not vow to die at the Buddhist Center while the guru was performing the Dharma: “Without causal conditions and good fortune, you cannot die even if you want to.” She had immediately felt very ashamed, because prior to the puja, she had had just such a thought.

Although her family had been sad to see her husband pass away, they’d also felt immeasurably grateful for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s great compassion and powerful blessings. They had been helpless in the face of her husband’s suffering. As the guru had said many times, apart from the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, and one’s guru, nobody else in the entire world can help someone at his or her time of death. Sure enough, after the disciple’s husband had fallen ill, she had read an article in which cancer had been described as being so painful that its sufferers felt it even inside their bones, causing such agony that they no longer wished to live. The article had gone on to say that in the end, all cancer patients needed morphine to stop the pain, and that most tended to lose consciousness shortly before death. Before her husband had died, however, he’d told his family that as a disciple of the Buddha, he did not want morphine. Morphine was a toxin, he’d said, and he could bear the pain without it. A former classmate of his had once volunteered in a hospice ward at the hospital, where he’d taken care of many terminal cancer patients. He had said that had it not been for the guru’s blessings, her husband would not possibly have been able to stand the spread of his cancer cells without the aid of morphine. The disciple was so grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche! After her husband was sent off to the First Funeral Home, she had noticed that his stomach was completely flat, showing a total absence of ascites. In addition, his tumors had stopped protruding.

On June 13th, the disciple and her daughter had sought an audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to express their gratitude for the guru’s blessings and performance of the Dharma, which had transferred her husband’s consciousness to the Pure Land. They had also earnestly implored Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to bestow a date for the funeral. After asking her husband’s name and zodiac sign, the guru had spent several seconds in samadhi and then compassionately granted them a date. Her daughter had then reported to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche: “Thank you, Rinpoche, for blessing my dad so that he could be liberated sooner rather than later. We also thank you for performing the Dharma of Transferring Consciousness after his death, thereby allowing him to be reborn in the Pure Land. Please, Rinpoche, we implore you to accept this offering on behalf of my father.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had asked the disciple’s daughter, “Whose money is this?” At first her daughter had been evasive, not knowing what to say. Then she had answered, “The money was my dad’s.” The guru had gone on to ask, “Are you a student or working right now?” Her daughter had replied, “I’m between jobs at the moment.” Without accepting the offering, the compassionate Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had then said, “You already made an offering last week when you made prostrations to the Buddha on your father’s behalf.” The guru had then instructed them to stand back up. The disciple praised Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, who once had said, “Every thought you have in front of me is completely transparent; you must not doubt this fact.” The guru’s words are genuinely true.

During the April 19th puja, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “As that disciple (her husband) said before the puja began, he has taken refuge for more than five years already, so why would he still get cancer? It is because he has not practiced the Right Dharma. I often tell everyone not to implore for blessings and protection, because the point of practicing Buddhism is to seek liberation from life and death. This is precisely why the Buddha spoke the Dharma. If you do not even meet the conditions necessary for attaining enlightenment, then what makes you think you can succeed? Enlightenment is absolutely unattainable for anyone in this lifetime without a strong and resolute sense of renunciation, because the Buddha made no mention that it was possible otherwise. Thus, sentient beings who have not practiced the Right Dharma cannot possibly eliminate their hindrances, such as cancer, in this lifetime. If you continue to be unwilling to uphold the Right Dharma, to behave self-righteously, and to seek blessings and protection, then your hindrances will not go away even if you follow me for a hundred or even ten million lifetimes.”

Right then and there, she repented deeply in front of all the attendees. Her dad had lived in Mainland China for twenty-three years. Because she had believed what her eldest sister had told her, she’d thought that he’d had another family over there. For this reason she had never gone to the Mainland to visit him or even cared enough to telephone, and had not seen him at all except for during his once- or twice-annual visits to Taiwan. One day, in the year that he turned eighty-three, she had gone to her middle sister’s house to see him off. At 5:00 in the morning she had watched as he hefted his suitcases into a cab and set off all by himself (even though her middle sister had arranged a taxi to drive him to the airport). In that moment, the disciple had suddenly felt that she had no filial piety at all, and ever afterward she always took her dad to Nanchang, China in person, after which she would fly back to Taiwan.

She repented. Due to her selfishness, more than two decades earlier she had gotten her husband to sign off on an abortion of her second pregnancy. The resulting karmic retribution had manifested immediately. Her husband had taken out a loan; that money, plus the money her mother-in-law and brother-in-law had given them so that they could buy a house, had been lent to her eldest sister and her friend, yet none of it was ever recovered. This had sent her husband deep into debt for more than ten years. After they’d moved to Xizhi, into a new house on level ground—at the only location that had never flooded—four typhoons had hit over the next five years, causing their house to be flooded each time. To make matters worse, the extremely high interest rates on their mortgage had left them no choice but to sell the house at a discount, eating their losses, which had amounted to nearly the value of the house itself. She deeply repented that she had married a good man, yet had frequently lost her temper at him. Her mother- and father-in-law had treated her very well, but she had thought they tended to pamper her single, eldest sister-in-law too much. The frustration had built up in her, and there had often been friction between her and her eldest sister-in-law due to different living habits. This had made life very difficult for her parents-in-law. She regretted that she had not fulfilled her responsibilities of being a good daughter-in-law to them.

She repented deeply for having been cruel to animals when she was little. She had often tied thread to beetles’ feet and watched them fly around in circles, burned ants, dug up earthworms and hacked them into pieces to use as bait while fishing in the pond, crushed snails—either intentionally or unintentionally—with her tires while riding her bike, and killed countless cockroaches, mosquitos, and flies. She had utterly lacked compassion. She also deeply repented for having taken refuge in the master practitioner, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, without having acting in accordance with the lessons he had taught her. After listening to the guru’s Dharma teachings every Sunday, she had gone back to her daily life and neglected to put them into practice. She’d had frequent evil thoughts, been haughty and arrogant, and looked down on the behavior of both her superiors and coworkers.

Because His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche constantly dotes on and cares for his disciples, from the time that her husband had fallen ill to when he’d passed away, he and his family had never felt panicked, for they’d had the guru to lean on. In contrast to that of most cancer patients, her husband’s life had been relatively stable and peaceful. The disciple wished to thank Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for the devotion and care with which he treated his disciples. She also deeply repented for the evil acts she had committed in the past, and vowed to follow Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche through lifetime after lifetime and practice diligently so that she could repay the debt of kindness she owed the guru. She also pleaded with the attendees to be careful not to make the same mistakes that she and her husband had made. Finally, it was her most respectful and sincere wish that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would have good health and keep turning the Dharma wheel so that he could continue to benefit all sentient beings in the Dharma Realm in all the Ten Directions, helping the Drikung Kagyu Lineage to flourish forever.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne to preside over the Grand Memorial Puja for Lord Jigten Sumgön. Before performing the Dharma, the guru bestowed precious teachings upon the attendees.

“Today I will be performing the Guru Yoga. This Dharma method is not practiced in Exoteric Buddhism, whereas it is in Tibetan Buddhism. This is because in Exoteric Buddhism, it is enough for the Dharma master to orally transmit the sutras, and practitioners constantly recite them, observe the Vinayas, and keep the precepts. After doing this for three great Asana-khyeyas, they then have the opportunity to attain Buddhahood. Tibetan Buddhism includes both Exoteric Buddhism and Tantra. To be able to resolve the great problem of life and death in this lifetime, stop reincarnating, and go on to benefit sentient beings, one absolutely must need the assistance of a tantric lineage.

“In Mantrayana, the guru is very important. If you do not have a guru who can transmit the lineage, Dharma essence, pith, and other teachings, then you cannot possibly attain achievement in this lifetime. This does not necessarily mean becoming a grand Dharma master or master practitioner; the crux of the matter is whether or not you can find liberation from life and death. If you cannot, then you must return in the next life, and it will be very toilsome for you. The reason a guru is absolutely vital in Tantra is that there are many Dharma methods such as piths, essences, and visualizations which are not written in any Dharma text. Actually, the truth of this can be seen in the sutras, in which Shakyamuni Buddha spoke of many different states, directions for cultivation, and attitudes with which to practice. However, there the Buddha never mentioned how to cultivate through visualization, the generation stage, and the completion stage.

“Cultivating the generation and completion stages involves utilizing the Kriyayoga and Charyayoga in Tantra. For this reason, a practitioner definitely must receive empowerment and oral transmission from a guru in order to be authorized to practice these Dharma methods. The guru is also very important for our future cultivation, although many people do not quite understand why. In Chinese Exoteric Buddhism, it is thought that cultivation comprises reading and reciting the sutras, making prostrations to the Buddha, performing penitential rites for oneself and on behalf of sentient beings, and lighting lamps. Actually, however, these are nothing more than assisting conditions. If a practitioner is unable to help sentient beings to become liberated from life and death and be reborn in the Pure Land, then all he or she can do in this lifetime is to assist them in forming connections. A guru, on the other hand, learns many Dharma methods that can benefit vast numbers of sentient beings.

“As for offerings that are made to a guru in Tantra it is mentioned that one can only accept offerings from sentient beings under very strict circumstances. First of all, the practitioner receiving the offerings must be pure in his or her observation of the precepts. This does not simply refer to how well the practitioner keeps them. Many people consider themselves to be quite adept at observing certain precepts. Then this observation becomes impure because of their arrogance. There are many stories about this kind of thing in the sutras. As soon as you become arrogant, the merits you have accumulated from keeping the precepts turn into good fortune which can only be used in future lifetimes. In other words, your hard-earned merits will all have disappeared.

“How do we remain pure in our observation of the precepts? We must understand clearly that all precepts set forth by the Buddha are not rules designed to control us. In simple terms, we first must use the precepts to help us understand how to control our body, speech, and mind by learning from past transgressions we committed due to our ignorance. In terms of the precepts themselves, keeping them is actually a way to cultivate compassion within ourselves. This is because all precepts set forth by the Buddha were done so in the hope that we would not harm any sentient beings, whether by way of body, speech, or mind. After all, do we keep the precepts for own sake or for that of sentient beings? If you think you are keeping precepts in order to master a Dharma method so that you can more quickly reach the point of being able to liberate sentient beings, then you are not being pure in your observation of the precepts, because you are just keeping them in order to satisfy a desire. Your observation of the precepts is only pure if you are keeping them because you do not want to do, say, or think anything that would harm sentient beings.

“Remaining pure in one’s observation of the precepts is not easy. It is difficult for some people just to keep any of them at all, let alone to do so with complete purity. Most people do not understand that many thoughts they give rise to break the precepts. For example, lots of people enjoy teaching Buddhism to others. On the surface this might appear to be a good thing, because they are letting others hear the Dharma. However, as was clearly stated by the Buddha in the Ratnakuta Sutra, anyone who ascends the Dharma throne to propagate the Dharma must first meet twenty conditions. If the practitioner has not, by way of cultivation, gained a realization of the profound significance of the Dharma spoken by the Buddha, and only propagates Buddhism by way of common knowledge, feelings, and from personal experience, then he or she can often mislead sentient beings. People who enjoy speaking about the Dharma to others tend to think they are good at practicing it; this is a haughty and arrogant attitude, and means they have broken the precept against making false speech. Ninety-five percent of all Buddhist practitioners break this precept quite easily.

“Other examples of making false speech include thinking that you have attained fruition despite the fact that you haven’t, or even hinting that you have, or attaining fruition but deliberately not helping other people. If your observation of the precepts is not pure, then you cannot receive offerings. If you do anyway, then you will face serious consequences. The reason my ordained disciples are not allowed to receive offerings , and the reason I pay for their living expenses, is that they have not yet reached the point of being able to keep the precepts with absolute purity. You might wonder how monastics could possibly be impure, but purity is not dependent on a person’s outer appearance; it has to do with his or her mind. On the surface, the monastics have not been given permission to receive offerings, but they in fact receive some anyway, because the respect shown them by other people is a form of offering. The reason I do not allow my ordained disciples to receive people’s offerings is that I want to reduce the hindrances to their cultivation.

“Another type of practitioner who may receive offerings is one who has already attained fruition in Buddhism. This does not refer to possessing impressive magical or supernatural powers such as ’being able to call forth wind or rain,’ and the great ability to transform oneself into this and that, nor does it mean that the practitioner has the ability to possess an enormous monastery and throngs of disciples. Rather, having fruition means that one can use the Dharma to become liberated from life and death, and help others to do the same. This cannot be determined just by looking at a practitioner’s outward appearance; to see whether he or she has achieved such fruition, the practitioner must be observed over a certain period of time. If such achievement has indeed been attained, then making offerings to the practitioner will yield good fortune. When I first began helping sentient beings, I would not even accept offerings from the disciples who had taken refuge in me. This was because I did not know what level I had achieved. Only after my achievement was confirmed by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang did I begin to accept offerings.

“Years ago, before I became a Rinpoche and two years prior to the passing of Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche, the guru in whom I had taken refuge, I went to Drikung Thil Monastery to visit him and pay my respects. There Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche instructed me to enter his retreat hut. The guru would not ordinarily have allowed anyone to enter, because he was in a death-retreat. In Tantrism, being in a death-retreat does not mean being in retreat until death; it means never leaving the retreat hut unless the practitioner passes away, or his or her retreat time is up. When I went into retreat, I was subject to the same rules, and outside my retreat hut there was a sign that forbade anyone from entering.

“Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche at the time instructed me to enter his retreat hut. He actually had been giving me a lot of tests. He ordered his attendant to look for something for a long time—about three or five minutes—but because he was speaking Tibetan, I did not know what he was looking for. As it turned out, the attendant found a stash of money that included paper bills and coins in the amount of around RMB500. Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche then handed the money to me. As a disciple, how could I dare to take money from my guru? However, Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche told me that I definitely had to take it. I would never call that an offering, but it meant at least that my guru was of the opinion that I was now allowed to accept offerings.

“If a guru believes his or her disciples are not ready to accept offerings, then they must not accept any. Disciples themselves cannot simply decide that they can receive offerings; only the guru knows for sure whether or not they have achieved the necessary level of fruition. According to what is written in the Dharma texts, Drikung Kagyu Lord Jigten Sumgön, in his past life, was an emanation of Bodhisattva Nagarjuri, who, in his past life, was an emanation of Vimalakirti. Anyone who has learned the least bit about Buddhism knows that Vimalakirti was a lay practitioner who possessed the fruition of a Buddha, and was a contemporary of Shakyamuni Buddha. Even though Vimalakirti neither claimed to have attained Buddhahood nor wrote as such in any of his teachings, Shakyamuni Buddha once sent a Mahasattva to visit Vimalakirti while he was ill. Vimalakirti had purposefully revealed his illness to teach the Mahasattva. In other words, if Vimalakirti himself had not been a Mahasattva, then he would not have been qualified to speak the Dharma.

“Lord Jigten Sumgön was born in Qinghai, and his grandmother was the Tara Achi, whose Dharma prayers we must practice every day. Lord Jigten Sumgön was a disciple of Phagmodrupa. Before Phagmodrupa’s time, the Kagyu Order was simply the Kagyu Order; only afterward did it divide into the so-called ‘Four Major Sub-sects’ and ‘Eight Minor Sub-sects’ that exist within it today. ‘Kagyu’ means ‘orally transmitted,’ and ‘Drikung’ is a place name. The ‘Four Major Sub-sects’ and ‘Eight Minor Sub-sects’ are not differentiated in terms of which is greater or lesser; the ‘Four Major Sub-sects’ refer to Phagmodrupa’s disciples, while the ‘Eight Minor Sub-sects’ refer to the disciples’ disciples. The former are not bigger; this is nothing more than a convenient appellation.

“The Drikung Kagyu Lineage is over eight hundred years old. Lord Jigten Sumgön once predicted that it would be very special, and that its blessings would be especially powerful and auspicious. The Drikung Kagyu Order is one that engages in true practice. I have visited many Drikung Kagyu monasteries throughout Tibet and Qinghai. They are usually situated deep in the mountains, rather than in cities or near populated areas. They are all quite isolated, and within their walls practitioners engage in true practice through diligent cultivation. This means that every lay practitioner or monastic must achieve attainment through the same process; one cannot become a Rinpoche simply by having a lot of money or good fortune. I have never seen that sort of opportunity appear for anyone.

“Every year I perform the Guru Yoga on Lord Jigten Sumgön’s memorial day. The guru represents all of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas together, so there is a great deal of good fortune from making offerings to the guru. Because a guru’s vow is to spend lifetime after lifetime helping any sentient beings that have not yet attained Buddhahood, the guru lives within the Dharma every day and devote every thought, action, and word purely to the benefit of sentient beings. Thus, making offerings to the guru is the equivalent of rejoicing in the guru’s merits—and this includes giving praise to one’s guru. If we did not have a guru in this lifetime, then not only would we be unable to achieve anything in our practice, but we would not even be able to eliminate any hindrances. The guru constantly creates opportunities for disciples to accumulate good fortune, merits, causes, and conditions. These do not just come from worshipping the Buddha or lighting lamps; there are many different factors involved in their creation, as well as many expedient methods.

“If we do not possess good fortune, merits, and causal conditions, then we will have to suffer a great deal when it is our time to die. If we do possess them, we will not go through very severe pain before our death. To obtain these things, we must listen to everything our guru says, and act accordingly. Take, for example, that disciple who shared a story before today’s puja about her husband who had cancer. If he had not chanted the Great Six-Syllable Mantra as he was told, or hadn’t been willing to repent, then he could not have spent his final days in such comfort, for his cancer would certainly have kept him in agony right up until his final breath. Why does cancer hurt? It is because pain makes you give rise to hatred, which in turn can cause you to go to hell. Don’t think that continuously reciting the Amitabha is enough to stop your pain; in fact, without the correct attitude, you will hurt no matter what.

“The Pure Land Sect speaks of ‘constant mindfulness of Amitabha’ and ‘having one mind undisturbed.’ I heard these two phrases back when I practiced Exoteric Buddhism, too. What does ‘constant mindfulness of Amitabha’ mean? At the time, no Dharma masters could explain it to me; nor could they tell me what one mind undisturbed meant. Only after I had learned Tantra and mastered Tsa Lung Trulkhor did I come to realize that we can definitely achieve everything spoken of by Shakyamuni Buddha as long as we have learned the right methods to do so. In the Pure Land Sect, one must achieve the state of ‘constant mindfulness of Amitabha’ and ‘one mind undisturbed’ in order to accumulate good fortune, merits, causes, and conditions, and in turn to eliminate his or her hindrances from sentient beings that have been present through lifetime after lifetime.

“Everyone always thinks the hindrances in question are those that appear in our daily lives, but those are not actually important; the most crucial ones are those that manifest before we die. If that disciple who had cancer had had a hindrance on the day of his death, then in the end his breathing would not have just stopped the way it did. You have witnessed these two examples, one after another, with crystal clarity. I would not dare to say that I have achieved any attainment, but at least I have allowed you to see clearly that just as is written in the sutras, if a person has good fortune, then he or she does not need to suffer at his or her time of death. The process of the disintegration of the Four Elements includes having one’s head hanging down and feeling very hot and cold, but that disciple experienced a process that was different from what others usually go through; he did not suffer nearly as much.

“If anyone in your family has ever passed away, then you would have seen that even if the air conditioning is on full-blast, patients can still complain of feeling hot, or of feeling cold even if the air conditioning is not on at all. They cry and cry, moaning that they still need another pillow no matter how high you might have stacked them. Some beds these days can be raised, but in the past people had to rely on raising patients’ heads by piling up pillows for them—and even when you had enough to sit the patients upright, they still would complain that their heads were drooping. These things are not taught in Exoteric Buddhism. The disintegration of the Four Elements is very painful. With the help of a meritorious guru, this suffering can be alleviated or avoided altogether, so that you might pass away without even feeling it.

“Why can we only be reborn in the Pure Land if we did not suffer just prior to death? It is because even a tiny bit of pain can fill the mind with hindrances and cause us to lose our concentration. Why should we believe our guru and do as we are told? This does not mean that in our day-to-day lives we must be supervised by the guru or told what time we should walk out the door every day and so on; rather, it means that if we are the least bit negligent in body, speech, or mind, grow lax and indulgent, or lose faith in our guru, then hindrances will manifest at our time of death. Usually, they are very complicated with many factors involved, including the hindrance of family members. Actually the real hindrances might be your family members. They love you too much and say they will definitely save you in order to give you few more hours to live so that they can tell you things they had not told you before, to cry more, and so on. As soon as a family member cries, however, it might not be possible for you to go to the Pure Land.

“I keep emphasizing the importance of having a guru. In the past I have also spoken of how to recognize whether or not a guru is meritorious, but I won’t get into that today. In order to commemorate Lord Jigten Sumgön’s transmission of auspicious Dharma, Exoteric Buddhism or Tantra, which thenceforward allowed all sentient beings to obtain blessings and help from Buddhism and caused our lives to undergo such a major transformation, today I am performing the Guru Yoga. The point is not only to commemorate the guru, but also to preserve the connection we have with our guru through lifetime after lifetime. Only if this connection continues will we have the opportunity to attain Buddhahood.

“Lord Jigten Sumgön has appeared before me twice in this lifetime, both times before I had become a Rinpoche. Once was to save my life, and the other time was to transmit the Dharma to me. He has not appeared since then, and I have had to practice on my own. After all, it would not be possible for him to keep showing up to save me over and over!

The Guru Yoga I am performing today is also a kind of expedient method that can help us to accumulate good fortune, merits, and other resources for practicing Buddhism. It contains many rituals. Originally, it used to take an entire day to perform the Guru Yoga, but I will do my best to shorten it by way of meditation. The Drikung Kagyu lineage has been passed down to its present and thirty-seventh throne holder, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, as well as its thirty-sixth throne holder, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang, who is in Tibet. Normally the Lamp-Lighting Ritual is conducted at the end, but today I’ll go ahead and do it first.”

Next, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche conducted the Lamp-Lighting Ritual before continuing to bestow teachings.

“This Dharma text was written according to the teachings of the Venerable Atisa. Anyone who has practiced Buddhism knows very well that the Venerable Atisa was a master practitioner who traveled from India to Tibet, and whose teachings were based in Exoteric Buddhism. The words I chanted just now, while lighting the lamps, were spoken so that sentient beings might be liberated from life and death in the future, and contained visualizations, mantras, and so on.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed a monastic to approach the mandala to light the lamps, and then began to perform the Guru Yoga. After performing the Dharma for a short time, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to bestow teachings.

“The Refuge Aspiration Prayer we recited a moment ago is an uncommon aspiration. Buddhism is divided into the Hinayana, Mahayana, and Vajrayana vehicles, and uncommon aspirations are those that are practiced in Vajrayana and Mahayana Buddhism. They involve cultivating bodhicitta, and are not about making monetary donations or doing volunteer work. These vows are a bit different from other refuge aspirations; they contain a prayer that all sentient beings, who are deemed as our mothers—including any enemies that grow angry with us, demons that harm us, or sentient beings that hinder us from becoming liberated—may find peace and happiness, leave all their suffering far behind, and attain Buddhahood.

“Here the words ‘enemies’ and ‘demons’ should not be taken literally; they refer to the wrongdoings we have committed in our past lives. Many people participate in pujas for transferring consciousness in the hope that they can have their karmic creditors liberated so that they will leave them alone. If our karmic creditors leave us, then there is no longer any reason for us to practice. With them gone, why should we continue? Our karmic creditors are the very reason we practice Buddhism in the first place, because we are cultivating not so that we can attain Buddhahood, but so that we can help them to. An uncommon aspiration is one that cannot be recited by ordinary, self-serving people, so hearing it will frighten you. It is written in the sutras that some people, upon hearing the Vajrayana Dharma, will feel afraid or be filled with dread. They will wonder what the point of practicing it is, if it is not for themselves. Therefore, this Dharma text is different from other Dharma texts.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performed the Dharma for a while before continuing to bestow teachings.

“Just now I recited a few different sections for you all. If you had a good root capacity, then you would vow to break away from all evil and do good deeds in body, speech, and mind throughout your future lifetimes until you attain Buddhahood. If your root capacity was not as good, then you would just vow to do good deeds in body, speech, and mind for the rest of this lifetime. If you had the worst sort of root capacity, then you would just promise to do good deeds in body, speech, and mind from now until this time tomorrow. Most of you here fall into the third category, but remaining purely virtuous for an entire day—in everything you do, say, and think—is not at all easy. If you give rise to a single selfish thought, or glare at someone who jostles you on the bus, then you will have failed. I won’t lead you in a recitation of the lines that follow, because you would not be able to succeed in carrying out what they tell you to do; I’ll just recite them for you instead.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche resumed his performance of the Dharma. The guru then said, “What I just recited is a common aspiration, and one that is recited by practitioners of all three vehicles of Buddhism.” His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the attendees in a recitation of supplication prayers, and then continued to perform the Dharma so that everyone could accumulate good fortune. The guru announced that he would next transmit the Meditation Empowerment, but first he bestowed more teachings.

“Many people think learning to meditate merely involves listening to the Dharma and being taught how to sit cross-legged. However, this just teaches them to sit still, deep in thought; it is not the same as meditating. If you want to learn how to meditate, you must first receive oral transmission of the Meditation Empowerment from your guru, as well as the Meditation Pith. First you must start with practicing the Samatha and Vipasyana, and then receive transmission of the Mahamudra, step by step in the proper sequential order; only then will you achieve attainment in meditation. Most of the time when you are sitting down there, you are just sitting quietly, in deep thought, but you are not meditating. Lord Jigten Sumgön transmitted the Profound Samadhi Empowerment. Samadhi means immersing one’s body, speech, and mind in a complete meditative state, and it includes a preliminary practice, a main practice, and a concluding practice. If you are unable to cross your legs with both feet on top of your knees, it’s okay; however, you must sit up straight and not scratch here and there. If you feel an itch, just put up with it for the time being.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to transmit the Meditation Empowerment. When he was finished, he continued to bestow teachings.

“Just now, by way of the guru’s visualization, you were all granted the Meditation Empowerment. If you continue to practice for the remainder of this lifetime, you will be able to attain fruition in the Simplicity Yoga. If you wish to learn Mahamudra meditation, then you must first master the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices. The reason we recited this section today was to provide you all with the opportunity to be taught the Mahamudra at some point in the future. Only about one tenth of you will be able to learn it, because most of you have not yet committed yourselves to your practice. Don’t think that learning to meditate can improve your mood or unlock your wisdom; such sayings are nonsense. The point of learning to meditate is to help you examine yourself so that you can see where your problems lie, and then attempt to discard any unnecessary aspects of your life, until nothing but a pure Buddha light manifests. Many people sit with their legs crossed when they are in a bad mood, but that is not meditation; it is merely sitting still. Some sit like that when they are physically unwell, too, but that is nothing more than thinking deeply.

“The Chinese characters for ‘meditation’—chanding—cannot be translated into English with total accuracy. Before one can begin to receive transmission of Mahamudra meditation of the Drikung Kagyu Order, one must first master the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices. Now you should understand why I have not taught you to meditate. Learning chan-sitting is actually quite easy; for example, you can participate in the Chan-One Activity or Chan-Seven Activity. However, those are just ways of forming connections, and do not mean you have genuinely learned meditation. In terms of Chinese Zen Buddhism, it has its own essences, but they probably were not passed down to the present day.”

Next, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performed the Vajra-Bell Ritual. Afterward, the guru continued to bestow teachings.

“Many people think that if they pick up a vajra and a bell, they will be able to play them, but that is not true. To do it properly, you must perform a Dharma to bless them. Furthermore, the vajra and bell have multiple significances. This instrument is not used in Exoteric Buddhism; it is only used to perform the Dharma by Vajrayana gurus. I will explain more about this later.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performed the Guru Yoga Ritual. Meanwhile, the ordained disciples offered the mandala to, 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 led the attendees in a chanting of the mantra of Lord Jigten Sumgön. The eight offering girls then presented a song and the Tsok Ritual was conducted, during which each attendee received a food offering that had been blessed by the guru as well as the rare and auspicious causal condition to share a meal with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas during the puja.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed the attendees to sit up straight with their palms together. “I am going to recite a section of an aspiration prayer now, but whether or not you have engendered the aspiration yet is not important. This dedication-aspiration prayer was written by the twenty-eighth throne holder of the Drikung Kagyu Order, and one of its lines is very important: ‘May the World Honored One joyfully embrace me.’ How can the World Honored One feel joy? This does not mean you should spend all day saying things that sound good, brown-nosing, and making offerings; rather, you should completely offer yourselves to the guru in body, speech, and mind. In other words, you should listen. If you do not, then it is no use even if your guru decides to embrace you. ‘Joyfully’ here does not mean that the guru likes one thing or dislikes another; if such were the case, then he or she would not be a guru.

“Whether a guru is joyous or not depends on whether his disciples listen. Take, for example, that disciple who was mentioned before today’s puja—the one who died from cancer. It would stand to reason that after having taken refuge for more than five years, his cancer should not have hit him so hard. The reason it did, however, was that he had spent most of his time worrying about how to take care of his family’s affairs. He did not repent at all, nor did he listen. Everyone is obsessed with not having enough money. I remember very clearly when I could not even afford to eat; despite my situation, I never stopped placing incense and flowers before the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. I would rather have starved than stop making those offerings. This is a vow, and a resolution that everyone must face. I used all sorts of Dharma methods to get that disciple into a repentant mindset, forcing him to repent; otherwise, how could he have acquired the good fortune to be led and embraced by his guru?

“Wishing for the guru to joyously embrace you means that you should act in accordance with the Dharma methods your guru has taught you, without clinging to your own ideas. In 1997, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang instructed me to travel to India to go into my first ever retreat. I was fifty years old at the time, and I asked the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang whether or not I could still achieve attainment in this lifetime, despite already being so advanced in years. His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang answered me with one simple sentence: “If you have absolute faith in your guru you definitely can.”

“Recently I’ve drawn your attention to a couple of examples. One was not a disciple, but he had absolute faith in his guru, so was embraced just as completely. Another was a disciple who had neither practiced diligently nor repented; only later, while suffering, did he finally repent. Nevertheless, he was embraced, too. The Dharma does not differentiate based on age; all that matters is one’s resolve and belief. Attainment through believing is the first attainment mentioned in the Ratnakuta Sutra, and means that if you act in accordance with all of the methods taught by your guru and the Buddha, then you are sure to achieve attainment. As for when this might happen, however, you don’t need to ask. Why not? It is because you will achieve attainment as soon as you possess the proper causes and conditions.

“If your mind is wishy-washy and you keep searching for a bunch of excuses, then of course you will not succeed. It is written in the sutras that practicing Buddhism is an act of great, courageous people who plow ahead bravely and with a firm resolve. Only then can one learn Buddhism. If your thoughts wander this way and that, you worry over not having enough money to pay this month’s mortgage, or you are reciting less today because you are in a bad mood, how can such a person as yourself practice? There are also those who, upon seeing others doing such a good job practicing, feel that they themselves are too old to keep up. How could you possibly keep up? I go very fast; scarcely a handful of you would be able to match my pace. Nevertheless, as long as you apply yourselves, you are sure to achieve attainment eventually.

“There is no such thing as being ‘advanced’ or ‘behind’ in one’s Buddhist practice. Given the fact that everyone possesses different causal conditions, a person’s root capacity can neither be ‘good’ nor ‘bad.’ Root capacity is not defined as such, and when the Buddha spoke of people’s root capacities as being ‘high, medium, or low,’ He was referring to the result of causes and conditions that we planted in our past lives which affect our root capacity in this one. This, however, does not mean that one root is superior or inferior to another; the idea is that they affect what happens after this lifetime is over. In the Pure Land Sect’s terms, after being reborn in the Pure Land, one’s root capacity decides where he or she will be seated—in the upper or lower level of a lotus flower. So whether you have a higher, medium, or lower root capacity, you can still attain Buddhahood; you just have to spend more time getting there if yours is lower. Don’t think that you can attain the state of upper-level upper-birth; this requires a great amount of good fortune, merits, causes, and conditions. If you can even attain the state of lower-level lower-birth, then you are already guaranteed not to retrogress. While practicing Buddhism, you should be modest and even humble so as to avoid becoming haughty or arrogant. As soon as your pride crops up even a little bit, a hindrance will form in the way of your path to enlightenment.

“The reason I am so strict with my disciples is that in ancient Tibet, the teaching methods were just the same way; practitioners from back then would not waste words on you. I am especially strict because there are not many opportunities for lay practitioners to go into retreat. Every thought you have generates karma and vice; if I do not help you to rid yourselves of your problems, then I do not deserve to be your guru. If you want a guru who just flatters you and makes jokes, then perhaps you should just go home. I don’t judge you by whether or not you make offerings; if you are unwilling to practice, then I will treat you the same as anyone else, no matter who you might be.

“I know very well what I am capable of, but I absolutely refuse exploit any conditions to climb any social or political ladders. If I wanted to, then I could be very famous, but I only act in accordance with the causal conditions of sentient beings. ‘May the World Honored One joyfully embrace me and lead me to the perfect, meritorious, auspicious Pure Land.’ This refers to going to the Buddha Lands. You cannot get there simply by vowing that you will; you need a guru to embrace you. People who practice Exoteric Buddhism see Amitabha Buddha and Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara as their gurus. However, it is not very likely that they will be able to cultivate to the point that the Sambhogakaya will come to receive you. If you truly have let go of all of your conditions, then even if you only chant Amitabha Buddha’s name, you still will have an opportunity to be received by the Nirmanakaya.

“One very special characteristic of Tantrism is that the merits accumulated by the guru can benefit all of his or her disciples, as long as they have faith in their guru. This is because a guru’s vow is to help all practitioners who are cultivating to become liberated from life and death, and all who believe will be embraced and shown the light, whether or not they have taken refuge. If you continue to be full of bizarre excuses, then I might as well stop talking to you, for it means that you are unable to let go of your arrogance. Only once you have knelt down and rid yourselves of your pride will you be able to learn the truth and develop compassion and bodhicitta. If you think you are very good at practicing, then these things will have nothing to do with you. Without compassion and bodhicitta, how can you benefit yourselves and other sentient beings? This principle might sound very simple, but it is not at all easy to adhere to.

“Today I have granted you all an empowerment, but I have not spoken of it out loud, because doing so would be useless. Only a few of you would be actually able to cultivate it. The aspiration prayer at the end includes a hope that we will obtain the blessings of the lineage gurus, and at the very end there is even mention of the Dharma Lord of the Three Worlds, Amitabha Buddha, and a supplication to bless us as to be His principal retinue. This means that if you have achieved all of the aforementioned steps and have faith in Amitabha Buddha, then He will allow you to be reborn by His side. ‘Principal retinue’ means ‘primary disciples.’ However, this is not very easy to achieve. If you don’t even respect your guru in this world, then will you really respect Amitabha Buddha? Or perhaps you might consider yourself His chief disciple and even want to usurp Amitabha Buddha altogether so that you can create a whole new world.

“A while ago a certain person said that someone had cultivated so well that she was more and more like Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, but which one did he mean? The one in China, Tibet, India, or Mongolia? Is Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara actually male or female? In the Tang Dynasty, statues of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara had beards which then were no longer depicted after the Song Dynasty; as time went by, they gradually became feminized. There are historical reasons for this, but we won’t go into that today. Hence, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara does not have a set form. The important thing is not that your outward appearance resembles Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara; it is whether or not your mind is attuned to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s compassion. As soon as I finished explaining this, that person faltered and did not dare to talk anymore.

“This sort of nonsense is very popular out there these days. The Buddha clearly taught us that we must look beyond all superficial appearances—“to eliminate all forms,” yet some people insist that a certain person appears more and more like Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Which one does she look like? Does she look like the statue in your home, or the one in mine? This is all stuff and nonsense that attempts to transform the Dharma into non-Buddhist doctrine. If that person is cultivating the wrathful yidam and takes on a wrathful appearance, then won’t she scare people? None of this nonsense matters. The mind is what’s important.

“Today I am performing the Guru Yoga. On the surface, the Drikung Kagyu Order was started by Lord Jigten Sumgön, but in fact all of the Buddhas have been our gurus through lifetime after lifetime. We simply are unable to visualize all of the Buddhas in the void, so have a single person to represent Them all so that we can visualize more easily. This is an expedient method that helps us do so, and also helps us to concentrate and meditate. Buddhism does not involve superstition; everything in the Dharma Realm is a working of the mind. Today I am performing the Guru Yoga and reciting prayers for you, but whether or not you can fulfill it isn’t up to me. It all depends on your own concept of the Dharma, as well as the hopes and expectations you have for your Buddhist practice. This is very important.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the disciples in a performance of the Dedication Ritual before continuing to bestow teachings.

“The Long Life Prayer you all just recited does not exist in Exoteric Buddhism, but it does in Tibetan Buddhism. A long life prayer cannot be written by practitioners themselves; the writer must base the prayer on facts and records. For example, for the Long Life Prayers of the Drikung Thirty-Sixth and Thirty-Seventh Throne Holders were written by Dalai Lama upon the supplication of the Drikung Kagyu seneschal Gongjue Sangdan. Even the time and date must be written down. A Long Life Prayer refers to the fact that a practitioner will achieve certain attainment in the future, and is akin to a bestowal of assurance of future enlightenment Such a prayer does not mean that one will be immortal in the mundane world. Importantly, it expresses that the practitioner’s Dharma teachings will have an eternal presence in the world.

“My Long Life Prayer was written for me by the Three-Grace Root Guru, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. On it is even written the date, including the year, that it was composed, as well as the words, ‘sincerely written.’ When a Tibetan writes ‘sincerely,’ it means that these words are not deceitful or lies; they are absolutely true. This sort of sincerity is different from what you feel when you are courting a boyfriend or a girlfriend. A guru takes full responsibility for anything the guru writes. In other words, disciples should be able to cultivate to about this level before a guru will write those words. You are not reciting the my Long Life Prayer so that I will live a long time; rather, by reciting it over a long period of time, by definition you will help my Dharma teachings to remain in this world a while longer.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the disciples in a performance of the Dharma Protector Achi Ritual. Upon the perfect completion of the puja, they all expressed their gratitude for the guru’s compassionate teachings and performance of the Dharma. Rising to their feet, they paid reverent homage as His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne.

« Previous Puja TeachingsNext »

Updated on January 7, 2016