His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – August 29, 2015

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presided over the auspicious Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness of the Drikung Kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Taipei. A total of 1,328 people attended, including disciples and believers from such places as Japan, Canada, Germany, the US, India, Mainland China, and Taiwan. Under the blessings and protection of Lord Jigten Sumgön, the Lineage Gurus, the Three-Grace Root Guru His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang, and Dharma Protector Achi, the puja came to a pure and perfect completion. Its merits were spread to countless sentient beings, and all of the attendees were filled with Dharma joy.

Before the puja began, a disciple—accompanied by her mother, her eldest sister, and her third sister (all of whom were disciples, too)—thanked His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having bestowed upon them the opportunity to praise the guru’s compassionate blessings. She thanked His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for the help the guru had given to her mother, as well as for this chance to make a public repentance on her behalf.

Her mother had gotten married at the age of sixteen. When the disciple’s eldest sister was only a year old, the 228 Massacre had occurred, and the father was taken away, disappearing into thin air, never to be seen again. With a one-year-old baby in her arms, her mother had fled from place to place in constant fear until finally she had escaped back to her parents’ house. At the age of twenty-five her mother had married again, this time to the disciple’s father. However, he had died when the disciple was only thirteen years old, leaving her mother to bring up four children all by herself. In order to feed them, her mother had raised chickens and ducks and slaughtered them for the table. While planting vegetables in the garden, she had killed innumerable insects. In addition, when she was a female worker at the feed factory, she had killed countless mice that would try to steal the grain, thereby creating immeasurable karma from killing for her and her family.

As they had gradually grown up, her mother’s responsibilities had come to an end. At the age of sixty-four, her mother had shaved her head and gone to a temple to become a monastic, and in that same year had received the Three Precept Platforms. Her mother had resided in Puli for a few decades, and during this time had still busied herself with planting vegetables. Once, when the disciple had gone there to visit her mother, she’d discovered that her mother was not in the dormitory; instead she was out picking loofah melons from a tall bamboo fence with an elderly Dharma master. Sometimes the pair of them would argue about the best ways to plant vegetables and their various results. During that time, her mother’s physical condition had not been good; every two or three days, she’d had to go to the hospital to be hooked up to an IV, and she had required daily doses of medication. On many occasions she’d needed to be sent to the emergency room by ambulance. A tumor had developed near her left kneecap and was putting pressure on her bone. This had caused her so much pain that she often was unable to sleep at night. After a surgical operation to remove it, the doctor had said that there was a high chance that it would reappear. The residing abbess of the temple had stated that her mother’s longevity was at an end.

In July of 2005, she and her sister had had the good fortune of being able to take refuge in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Thinking about all the suffering her mother had had to endure in her life, as well as the words spoken by the abbess at the temple, she had immediately taken her mother with her to seek an audience with the guru. As her mother had knelt before His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the guru had said that the disciple’s maternal grandmother was still suffering in the Hungry Ghost Realm, and that they should immediately register to have her liberated during the next Chod Puja. The disciple was grateful for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassion. For years, every night at the temple, her mother had heard someone outside the dormitory calling her lay name. That must have been the disciple’s grandmother begging to be rescued. In their ignorance, they had been totally unaware of this; because for all these years her mother had participated in the temple’s annual Dharma assembly for transferring consciousness, they had assumed that all of their ancestors had already been liberated.

She was grateful for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s heroic efforts and great compassion; they had put an end to her grandmother’s suffering. From then on, her mother had no longer heard the voice calling out in the middle of the night outside the dormitory. The disciple’s grandmother had ceased to suffer and had found eternal bliss. The disciple had sincerely thanked the guru, and her mother had been so grateful that in 2007, at the age of eighty, she had left the temple and taken refuge in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. After following the guru, her mother’s health had gradually become more robust, and everyone who saw her had said that her complexion looked much better than it had been before. Back when she was still at the temple, she’d had to visit the hospital every two or three days; after taking refuge in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, however, such visits had no longer been necessary.

In May of 2009, her mother’s feet had both become so swollen that she could not even wear shoes or walk. To make matters worse, the skin on her feet had grown coarse and itchy, and where she had scratched it had broken and liquid had oozed out like a running faucet. The disciple was grateful for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate blessings. Within one night, her elephant-like legs had suddenly become thin again, and she’d once more been able to walk. The itchiness of her skin had abated, too. It had been absolutely incredible! They had known that because of the guru’s merits, cultivation, and magnificent compassion, her mother’s karmic creditors had been liberated! She was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche!

Early on, while still at the temple, her mother had gotten liver cancer. Ever since she’d turned eighty and taken refuge in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, she had neither seen a Western doctor nor taken any Western medicine; instead, she had gotten her prescriptions wholly from the Glorious Jewel Chinese Medicine Clinic. Whenever she’d felt unwell, she had thought of the guru’s words: “Endure it awhile, and the pain will pass.” She had done so, and sure enough, it had. Sometimes she would go to a neighborhood family medical clinic to receive intravenous fluid infusion, and after examining her condition, the doctor there would advise her to go to the hospital for treatment. Nevertheless, her mother had always been unwilling. She had told the family doctor, “We have the Rinpoche to help us.”

One time, during an audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the guru, in his concern, had asked compassionately, “Are you eating? Are you getting enough sleep?” She felt that the disciples were so incredibly lucky!  His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had shown the same concern that he would his own mother. In addition, the guru had held her mother’s head in his hands and blessed her for a very long time. The disciple was sincerely grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

Her mother was eighty-nine years old this year. A few days ago the disciple had taken her mother for a checkup at the clinic of a Dharma brother who is a doctor, and the examination results were absolutely amazing: Her mother’s tumors had completely disappeared. Her cancer index was low, and her blood sugar, cholesterol, liver function, heart rate, and so on were all within normal parameters. In the past her mother had suffered severe anemia, with a hemoglobin level of less than 7; by now, however, it had risen to 10.9. The doctor Dharma brother had even said that when he had first seen the disciple’s mother’s physical condition, he’d felt sure that her kidneys were failing and that she might not have long on this Earth to live. Now, however, the doctor Dharma brother had said that her mother was currently even healthier than she was! The disciple was grateful to the compassionate great king of healing—His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Her mother had said that were it not for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, she did not know how she could have endured the pain from her illnesses, and that she might long ago have descended to the Six Realms to wander around lost at the mercy of her karma. Without the guru, how could she have practiced at such a Buddhist Center—a place as wonderful as the Pure Land—with the support and encouragement of so many Vajrayana Dharma brothers? She was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

She remembered that one time, during a puja, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had asked her mother what her illness was. After several moments deep in thought, her mother had finally answered, “I cannot remember.” Her mother was eighty-nine years old this year, she often watched her mother earnestly chanting the Buddha’s name before the mandala. She knew her mother was very grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and had an extremely firm faith in the guru, even though she was not good at expressing it. The disciples were all very lucky to have been able to take refuge in such a meritorious guru. She thanked His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Her gratitude was too profound to be expressed with mundane language.

Right then and there, she and her sisters wished to repent on behalf of their mother for all of the evil acts she had committed throughout her past lives and in this one, as well as for all of the sentient beings she had harmed. They repented for the many sentient beings her mother had killed while raising her children, for the numerous insects she had slaughtered while planting vegetables, for the bee she had killed when she knocked a beehive down from the windowsill, and for the other one that had mourned where it lay from morning to night. The disciple and her sisters wanted to repent on their mother’s behalf, one by one, for all of the sentient beings her mother had harmed and each of the unvirtuous acts her mother had committed. They also wished to express gratitude for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s incomparably great, awe-inspiring power and all-embracing compassion. Thanks to the Rinpoche, sentient beings had someone on whom to depend, who could liberate them and give them eternal happiness. To quote a hymn of praise for the Buddha: “The void could be measured, and the winds tied down, and the waters of the great ocean could be drunk dry, but the Buddha’s immense merits could never be enumerated.”

Finally, she prayed that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would have good health, keep turning the Dharma wheel, maintain an eternal presence in the world, and have good luck and smooth passage throughout all of his endeavors.

Next, another disciple, accompanied by her son (who was also a disciple), shared with everyone an account of how her father had taken refuge and later passed away. She also told of the ways in which His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had helped her father and other family members.

Her father had taken refuge on July 20th, 2014, and had passed away peacefully at home in the early hours of May 16th, 2015. He had then been liberated by way of the auspicious Phowa bestowed by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. On May 30th, the cremation and scattering of his ashes at sea had all gone completely smoothly, and for this she was grateful to the guru!

Her father had turned eighty-nine this year. He had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for about thirty years, and over the past five years had developed signs of dementia. After taking refuge, in her greed, she had often implored His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for blessings for her father, thereby consuming the guru’s strength and good fortune. She repented, for she had actually regarded such behavior of hers as filial! At the end of 2013, while participating in a puja in Nepal, she had listened to a Dharma brother’s account of how His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had blessed and cared for the Dharma brother’s mother. Hearing this had made her feel profoundly unfilial. Still, she had continued to be extremely disrespectful toward His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche by feeling entitled to implore for blessings from the guru. Upon returning home from Nepal, therefore, she had taken her father with her to beseech His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to perform the Phowa for him.

After learning of her request, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had berated her: “You don’t even listen to the teachings spoken by your Rinpoche from atop the Dharma throne. As I have analogized many times, how can you go to America if you don’t even speak English?” His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then compassionately asked if her father had taken refuge or not. She had shaken her head, feeling great shame and guilt. Embarrassed and at a complete loss, she had tearfully implored His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for permission to perform full prostrations during the Sunday puja on her father’s behalf. The guru had rejected her request, pointing out that she had come completely unprepared to supplicate. Moreover, any full prostrations she might perform were nowhere near as useful as His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings! The guru had then blessed her father for quite some time. At the time her father was participating in the monthly Chod Pujas. The blessings received during these pujas were extremely unfathomable. Regardless of how fuzzy her father’s consciousness had been that day, whenever he went to the downstairs area of the Buddhist Center he would become quite lucid, and would even say hello to the Dharma brothers. Even though some Dharma brothers had reminded her that she should implore for her father to take refuge, she really had not dared to even imagine that her father might one day become a disciple of such a meritorious master practitioner as His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

She repented deeply for having been extremely unfilial toward not only her parents, but her guru, who had benevolently granted her wisdom life with which to learn Buddhism. She’d not had complete trust in the guru; she could not fathom the great compassion of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, who relentlessly relieves the suffering of sentient beings. For various reasons, she had continuously postponed imploring for permission for her father to take refuge. Actually, it was exactly because she had not been respectful toward the guru and had been afraid of troubles or being inconvenienced that she had actually ignored all of the painstaking efforts made by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to help sentient beings. She truly was a despicable disciple!

The following week, without further delay, she had taken her father before His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to implore for permission to take refuge. When the guru had asked, “How may I help you?” she had immediately replied, “As your disciple, I would like to implore you, Rinpoche, for permission for my father to take refuge.” His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had asked, “Why would he take refuge?” Haltingly, and not daring to voice the answer that she felt deep in her heart, she had replied, “So my father can learn Buddhism.” The guru had asked her, “Can he chant? Can he perform prostrations?” She had shaken her head. His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had then said, “Well then, how can he learn Buddhism?” The guru had then turned and asked her son, “Your mom says she wants to implore for your grandfather to be allowed to take refuge. Why should he do that? This time I’d like to hear what you have to say.” Her son had answered, “To learn Buddhism.” After indicating that this was not the correct answer, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had given her son another chance. Even so, her son had again said, “To learn Buddhism.” The guru had admonished her son by saying, “At home you are quick-tongued and tend to talk back to your mother. Whenever she tells you to do something, you say you will but then you don’t.” The guru had continued to berate her son: “You’ve taken refuge for so long, and have listened to many Dharmas, yet still you are so unfilial. Do you think I won’t kick you out?” His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had then punished her son by forbidding him from making any offerings until he had amended his ways. Next, the guru had turned back to her and admonished her for being so long-winded! She had felt both ashamed and grateful for having been so incompetent and irresponsible, not to mention for having put the guru to the trouble of having to teach her son a lesson. She had felt too ashamed to show her face. After looking at them, in the three generations they represented, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “Go and register!” Next the guru had again bestowed blessings upon her father for quite some time. After gazing at him for a short while, the guru had told her, “Your father already knows why he wants to take refuge!” His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, who is no different from the Buddha, is as boundlessly compassionate as the ocean. She was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche!

On July 20th, 2014, her father had taken refuge as a disciple of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche! Afterward, amazingly, her mother had agreed to let her father come home from the nursing home by year’s end so that he could live out his remaining days in peace. Her parents had been an unhappy couple; they had been married for fifty years, and had hated each other all that time. Her mom had never before agreed to allow her dad to return home, but after he took refuge, she had suddenly changed her mind. The disciple knew that this was all thanks to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings! She was grateful to the guru!

On May 3rd of this year, after the Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness, a change had come over her father. He was no longer sitting upright in his wheelchair as normal; he’d begun to slump, as if there were nothing to him but skin and bones. It had suddenly dawned on her that he might be on the verge of passing away. Despite the fact that she had listened to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings, as well as the experiences of so many Dharma brothers, now that this moment had actually arrived she was still anxious with dread. On the morning of May 8th she had gone to the Buddhist Center to chant mantras, and as it happened, her group leader was there serving at the front desk. She had asked the Dharma brother, “My dad seems to not be doing so well. If he dies, how should I handle things?” Without hesitation, the Dharma brother had advised her to hurry up and implore for the Phowa to be performed. At the time she had been very startled and doubted that her family could qualify to implore for such a rare, auspicious, and magnificent Dharma from His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. However, in an encouraging tone, the Dharma brother had told her, “Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is extremely compassionate and kind, and your dad is a disciple. As long as we implore with a great deal of respect and repentance in mind, then any help the guru bestows will be the best thing for us.” The Dharma brother had gone on to remind her, “Don’t forget: You absolutely must make a major offering, and you must do so with an attitude of utmost respect.”

On the afternoon of Saturday, May 9th, she had taken her dad to the Buddhist Center to implore His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to perform the Phowa for him, as well as for permission to make a major offering. As they had knelt before the guru, she’d reported her intentions. His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had immediately and compassionately given consent, and had blessed her father for quite some time. The guru had then asked her, “Do you alone have the final say regarding your father’s end-of-life care and eventual funeral arrangements?” She had nodded, because she and her family had already discussed this and decided that they would not send her dad to the hospital. Instead, they would allow him to die at home, have a burial at sea, and so on. His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had asked, “Who are your remaining family members?” She had replied, “My mother, my younger sister, and my older brother.” The guru had compassionately said, “You should do your best to communicate with your family. For example, with regard to the burial at sea, you must explain it carefully to them and not argue; only in this way will everything come to a perfect completion.” She had nodded and made a mental note of this. Filled with gratitude, she had retreated. On their way home, she had whispered congratulations into her father’s ear and reminded him, “We must continue to be grateful, and keep repenting! We must always remember the guru!” She really could not imagine how absolutely miserable they would be had they not encountered His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in this lifetime! They had successfully implored for the Phowa, but she believed that all of this was but a beginning. They had to be even more respectful and prudent, and act according to the guru’s teachings, because as His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had taught many times, at their most crucial time they might not necessarily have enough causes, conditions, or good fortune to be able to find the guru!

After returning home, she had reflected over and over on His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings. She and her family had already reached a consensus regarding her father’s end-of-life care, yet the guru had still wanted her to do a better job of communicating with them. Could it be that her brother, who seldom appeared, would have a different opinion? Sure enough, after seeing their father’s feeble condition, her brother had advocated sending him to the hospital for treatment, and had been unwilling to listen to the decision they had already made. She recalled distinctly the words of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche: “Do not fight; only in this way will everything come to a perfect completion.” She had explained patiently to her older brother that they hoped to spare their father from any further suffering medical treatment. She’d then asked her brother not to worry, because His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had been constantly looking after their father and had agreed to perform the auspicious Phowa for him. Later her brother had acquiesced. She was extremely grateful for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings!

By then it had become very difficult for her father to eat and drink normally, and the times that he was wide awake and clear-headed were steadily growing fewer and farther between. In the evening of Monday, May 11th, she had taken her dad with her to see a Dharma brother who was also a doctor. After giving her father a detailed examination, the doctor-Dharma brother had taught her a way to administer food, drink, and medicine, and had then explained, “Your dad is so far along in years that it’s very hard for his body to absorb nutrients. Even if you were to take him to the hospital, there is very little they could do there for him, and any medical treatment would cause him great pain and suffering.” The doctor-Dharma brother had even said that if her older brother was still opposed to their decision, he would explain the situation directly to him for her. Upon hearing this she had felt deeply moved! Her biggest supporter was His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and she was truly grateful to the guru for having provided so many Dharma brothers who were just as close and caring toward her as any family member!

After returning home from the check-up, her dad had begun to have a bit of asthma, and had grown a bit weaker each day over the next few days. By that Wednesday, he had lost the ability to swallow and was practically unconscious. She had wetted his lips with cotton swabs soaked in nectar water and had him lie down peacefully on the bed, doing her best not to disturb him. In his ear she had whispered reminders that he should not forget His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Dharma name, appearance, and the sound of the guru’s voice, so that when her father’s time came, he would only follow His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. After watching her dad’s condition deteriorate, her mom had decided to give her some money so that she could make an offering to the guru on her father’s behalf, thereby helping him to accumulate good fortune and have a good death. His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s all-embracing power truly was remarkable! Not only had her mom allowed her dad to come back home, but now she was even willing to reach into her wallet for some money to use as an offering to the guru! She had encouraged her mom to go to the Buddhist Center herself and make an offering to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in person.

As her father’s asthma had worsened, her older brother had recommended that they allow him to use an oxygen generator. Such a machine had delivered a steady stream of oxygen to their dad through his nose, but this had not brought about any significant improvements. She had thought to herself, Dad must have already entered the Wind Disintegration state, one of the Four Major Disintegrations spoken of by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Every day she had closely monitored her father’s condition, and her group leader had shown her concern as well. The only way to calmly face the great affairs of life and death, such as the passing of a family member, is to put one’s trust in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche!

At 10:30 in the evening of Friday, May 15th, she had suddenly sensed a change in her dad’s breathing. After every couple of breaths he would pause for a moment, and these pauses had grown more and more obvious. His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had taught that the fingertips of people on the verge of death tended to turn cold, and sure enough, she had discovered that her dad’s fingertips were gradually losing their warmth. Her family had therefore begun to chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra. She had attentively watched the Dharma photo of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche they’d placed above her father’s head, because at that time only the guru could cause them to have nothing to fear. His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had once said that death comes in the moment a person is no longer able to inhale. Finally, at 12:04 in the morning on May 16th, her dad had exhaled one last time and then stopped breathing altogether. Carefully, she had placed a nectar pill into his mouth and asked her family to continue chanting the mantra. She had then immediately telephoned her group leader to report the news of her father’s passing. Her group leader had called Dharma Brother Lai for her, and had relayed the message that she should get in touch with Dharma Brother Lai without delay. After answering the phone, Dharma Brother Lai had asked her, “You would like to implore to…?” With repentance and gratitude in her heart, she had answered, “To implore Rinpoche to perform the Phowa.” The Dharma brother had told her that it was already quite late, and that there was no guarantee that the guru would return the phone call. After hanging up, she had immediately made prostrations of repentance and gratitude before the mandala. While she was still in the middle of her prostrations, the Dharma brother had called her back and informed her, “Rinpoche is already performing the Dharma!” By then it was already half an hour past midnight; she could not believe that they had disturbed His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche so late at night! The guru, unable to bear seeing sentient beings suffer, had performed the Phowa for her father right away. How could she ever repay this great debt of gratitude? A little while later, the Dharma brother had again called to tell her that the Rinpoche had already finished performing the Phowa, and that she should take her family members over to view the auspicious signs straight away.

She had immediately led her family over to inspect her father. She had often heard that upon the successful performance of the Phowa, the deceased’s crown chakra should be quite warm, so she had touched that part of her father’s head. To her surprise, not only had it been warm, but it had actually been quite hot! She had invited each of her family members to feel it, and they had all confirmed that while the other parts of her dad’s head were cool to the touch, his crown chakra was very hot. When he was still alive, her dad’s body had always been very stiff as a result of Parkinson’s disease; now, however, his hands had become as soft as mochi. Observing from the side, even her mom had been amazed! After every family member had seen this auspicious sign, the disciple had immediately reported the experience to the Dharma brother, who was still waiting on the phone. She had also expressed her gratitude to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche! While gazing at her dad’s remains, she had thanked the guru profusely, for her dad had already gone to the Pure Land!

Her dad had lived a hard life devoid of much happiness, yet it had come to the best conclusion possible because he had taken refuge in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. All of this was thanks to the guru’s benevolence! His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche wanted the disciples to think frequently about impermanence, and had demonstrated with his own bodily suffering that even the guru is impermanent! Her dad had passed away a mere two weeks after the Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness; she was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having shortened the duration of her father’s suffering. As it had turned out, their supplication for the Phowa that Saturday had been her dad’s last opportunity to seek an audience! This had given her an even deeper realization that one should act on a positive thought as soon as it arises! Hesitating and pondering too much about it was a sure way of creating more afflictions for oneself!

After daybreak, her father’s body had been transported to the funeral home. The arrangements there had been very simple; they had neither set up a memorial tablet nor offered any rice. That afternoon she and her family had gone to the Buddhist Center to thank His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and to implore for a date for the funeral service. While kneeling before the guru, her mom had reported, “Rinpoche, my husband has passed away. I would like to make an offering of this money to you, Rinpoche, to help him accumulate some good fortune.” Smiling compassionately, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had asked, “Was he the one who passed away last night?” Hurriedly she had answered, “Yes!” The guru had then asked her to describe the auspicious signs, and she had gesticulated while saying, “His crown chakra was very hot to the touch and his hands were very soft.”

The disciple was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for compassionately receiving her mom’s offering. The guru had said, “While I was performing the Dharma, your father’s consciousness appeared before me. He seemed to hardly have any worries or hindrances at all. I have performed the Phowa many times, but have seldom come across people with so few hindrances. Your dad only had one little thought in mind, and that was about what had happened between him and your mom.” His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had continued: “Your dad had faith in his guru; he came to the pujas every week and listened closely to my Dharma teachings.”

She was grateful to the guru! Because of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s all-embracing power, her mom had been able to come to the Buddhist Center in person, seek an audience with the guru, and make an offering. Moreover, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate teachings had caused her mom’s chronic resentment to dissipate like smoke clouds scattering before the wind! Her younger sister had also been able to let go of the grief she’d felt over their father’s death, and now she simply cherished his memory. This had all resulted from His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings, which had created such causal conditions for her dad! In the past, the disciple had always felt that her dad had not been respectful toward the guru, because he would often seem drowsy and semiconscious during the pujas. Actually, she had been judging what she saw with the mere eyes of an ordinary person; how, therefore, could such a dullard as she have comprehended the all-embracing ways employed by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche? She had pushed her wheelchair-bound dad back and forth all over the place, but that had not been an exercise of filial piety; she had simply been running errands.  In his final few months, her father had been able to take refuge in the guru, participate in the pujas, and personally receive teachings by direct contact with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s wisdom. In this way he had been able to accumulate causes, conditions, and good fortune for himself!

She was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche! After her dad’s cremation, his skull had remained intact with a small, delicate, perfectly round hole quite visible in the top of it. The funeral service and burial at sea had both gone very smoothly. His family and close friends had all been very pleased to see that her dad had died a good death, and for his sake had been happy that the funeral had been both simple and grand, as well as for the fact that he’d had a burial at sea. They had all felt that it had been a very fortunate affair indeed! All of this had been thanks to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings! At 3:00 in the afternoon on May 30th, a boat had set out with close to forty family members, friends, and Dharma brothers on board. As they had scattered her dad’s ashes over the ocean together, she had thought to herself, This is absolutely perfect.

Looking back on it all, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had early on started paving a grand and solemn road for her dad that would eventually take him straight to the Pure Land of Utmost Bliss. She felt profoundly grateful to the guru. At the recent puja held in Japan, while explaining the contents of the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had placed particular emphasis on the great offering Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha had made in a past life as a Brahmin maiden to the Enlightenment-Flower-Serenity-Self-Sovereignty-King Tathagata after her mother had passed away. The disciple felt genuinely and deeply ashamed, for her family had hardly made any decent offerings. Nevertheless, in his great compassion and kindness, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had still granted her dad the auspicious Phowa! What else could she do to repay the debt of gratitude she owed the guru other than to do as she was told and act according to his teachings? She was grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and prayed that the guru would maintain good health and keep turning the Dharma wheel so that Buddhism could continue to spread far and wide, benefiting even more sentient beings.

And 9:00 in the morning, following by a welcoming procession of incense, musical instruments, and a jeweled parasol, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche approached the mandala along the white carpet of Eight Auspicious Symbols. After making reverent prostrations to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, the guru presented a khata to the wish-granting jeweled Dharma throne of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, lit a lamp as an offering to the Buddha, and then ascended the Dharma throne.

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

“Today I will be performing the Amitabha Dharma for Transferring Consciousness. This is a Tantric Dharma method; it is not an ordinary Exoteric Buddhist ritual of liberation. During the month of July, people in China, and in Japan as well, offer sacrifices to the ghosts of their ancestors. They believe that burning paper money can make the ghosts happy and therefore keep them away. However, there is no mention in Buddhism of any need to burn paper money in July, nor is it said that ghosts will leave if one burns a big heap of things. Chinese traditionally never used to burn paper money, either.

“This allusion is based on the sutras. Of the disciples who were close to the Buddha, the one most adept at supernatural powers was the Venerable Maudgalyāyana. Using these abilities, he saw that his own mother had fallen into the Hungry Ghost Realm after her death. What sort of people go there? They include those who are greedy, too stingy to give to charity or make offerings, or who feel regret after having given to charity or made an offering; they are also those who haggle over every single penny whenever they have to spend money. Such people are at grave risk of descending to the Hungry Ghost Realm after death. This is true even of practitioners. Hungry ghosts are described in the sutras as having very large stomachs, tiny necks, protruding eyeballs, mouths that exhale fire, and very thin limbs. Actually, they look a lot like the photos you’ve seen of starving children in Africa. People don’t in fact need to wait until death to know what it feels like to fall into the Hungry Ghost Realm; those who were there in their past lives will be born into poverty-stricken families in this one.

“The Venerable Maudgalyāyana watched his mother reincarnate in the Hungry Ghost Realm. Like other sentient beings trapped there, she experienced the extreme torture of feeling hungry every day. However, she could not swallow anything she consumed—neither food nor water—because it turned into fire as soon as it entered her throat. This would be agonizing. Most hungry ghosts like to be in close proximity to a body of water such as an ocean, a river, or a creek, which is very tantalizing because they think they can have a drink to cool the fire in their throats. As soon as they take a gulp, however, it just fans the flames even higher. When the Venerable Maudgalyāyana saw his mother enduring such suffering, he used his supernatural powers to transform some food into something he thought she could eat. Nevertheless, no sooner did she eat it than it, too, turned into fire, and she was unable to swallow it.

“Even the Venerable Maudgalyāyana could not simply burn things to make an offering to his deceased mother; he had to transform the food by way of supernatural powers and send it down in an attempt to feed the hungry ghost she had become. Therefore, what makes you think that you can feed ghosts just by burning some stuff, erecting a piece of incense, and making prostrations?

“My father practiced Taoism, and I used to, too; I learned it alongside my dad from an early age. However, I have never seen mention in any of the Taoist texts that using this method is a guaranteed way of getting a ghost to receive a food offering. Likewise, nothing of the sort is stated in the Daodejing or Scripture of the Most High Lord Lao written by Laozi. Why are there so many Chinese inventors in religions? It is because they want to make money, so they make up all sorts of things.

“Despite all his supernatural powers, even the Venerable Maudgalyāyana was unable to conjure food that a hungry ghost could eat. What makes you think you can feed a ghost simply by burning something at the side of the road? You would surely say that this is just something the Buddha said. When the Buddha told this story, however, people in China had not yet begun the tradition of burning paper money; you can all read history and see for yourselves when that custom started. So when the Venerable Maudgalyāyana returned, he implored the Buddha to bestow upon him a method to liberate his mother. While the Buddha was alive, He was followed every day by 1,200 disciples. These were all arhats and great arhats—practitioners who had already attained fruition. Summertime in India is extremely hot, so rather than let the disciples go out as mendicants and be at risk of falling ill, the Buddha gathered them all in one place to practice in retreat. Another reason for doing this was that there are so many insects and worms on the ground during the summer; the Buddha wished to reduce the chances that His disciples might step on all those sentient beings and crush them to death. For this reason they went into a two-month summer retreat, which is the equivalent of practicing in retreat these days.

“The Buddha instructed the Venerable Maudgalyāyana to make an offering of rice and dishes to these monastics once their summer retreat was finished, and to dedicate the resulting merits to his mother. She would then be able to escape the Hungry Ghost Realm and be reborn in the Heaven Realm. The tradition of giving offerings and meals to monastics came from this story. Nowadays, however, there practically aren’t any arhats, and even if there are any, they would not appear before you. Providing meals for monks has become a sort of ritual these days; each monk eats a meal and receives a red envelope. This is very good, too, because it allows believers the opportunity to give rice and dishes in charity and make financial offerings. However, as for whether or not they obtain any merits, who knows? According to what is written in the sutras, the offerings must be made to arhats who have finished practicing in retreat. Nowadays people out there provide meals for monks every year even if they haven’t previously been in retreat, and it has turned into a sort of get-together. Such parties are fine, too, because they can cause sentient beings to develop respect for the Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha.

“The second point to which you should draw your attention is that the Venerable Maudgalyāyana’s mother was not reborn in Amitabha Buddha’s Pure Land; she was reborn in the Heaven Realm. In Exoteric Buddhism people practice the Precious Penitential Rites of Emperor Wu of Liang, which tells the story of how the Liang emperor implored Master Bao Zhi to perform this repentance for the sake of his deceased concubine, who had descended to the Animal Realm and assumed the body of a huge python. After the repentance was performed, however, the concubine was reborn in the Heaven Realm. It is not written in any repentance text that after performing it one will go to Amitabha’s Pure Land. Even if it were inscribed in a Buddhist venue or temple, it would not do any good, because the yidam in the ritual is not Amitabha Buddha.

“Today I began by telling you that the Amitabha Dharma for Transferring Consciousness is Tantra. Although Amitabha Buddha did transmit this Dharma, it was not done by way of the sutras, because this Dharma was introduced by Shakyamuni Buddha. In the Five Classics of the Pure Land there is no mention that Amitabha Buddha transmitted it in person, either; all indications point to the fact that Shakyamuni Buddha introduced us to Amitabha Buddha and then expounded how to practice in order to be reborn in the Pure Land. I am completely opposed to the burning of paper money, because doing so pollutes the air and causes ghostly beings to feel greedy. It misleads them into thinking that there are things to eat here, so they come running. However, if this does not satisfy these ghosts, then what will they do? If you could strike it rich simply by burning paper money, then you could all stop working hard and just set fires all day.

“The ‘opening of the gates of hell’ is a custom, but there is no mention in the sutras that they will open in July. I often give the following analogy: If the gates of hell were to open in July, who would want to return through them? Would all the ghosts that came out be willing to turn around and go right back to the Hell Realm? This is superstition; it is just a heap of baseless fiction designed to terrify folks. Why are you all afraid of ghosts? Only ghosts are scared of ghosts—therein lies the reason. How can people cultivating the Bodhisattva Path fear ghosts? If they don’t even have time to help ghostly beings, then how can they possibly be afraid of them?

“The reason I mention this allegory today is to communicate to you unambiguously that if you think you can liberate someone by reciting the sutras without first having achieved a certain level of attainment, then you are sorely mistaken. Are you more capable than the Venerable Maudgalyāyana? Have you forgotten the story in the Precious Penitential Rites of Emperor Wu of Liang? If you try to use Exoteric Buddhism to transfer someone’s consciousness, then you will be just like Emperor Wu of Liang. Do you know what Master Bao Zhi’s status was? According to the biographies, Master Bao Zhi was an emanation of Thousand-Armed Avalokiteshvara. He led monastics who were keeping the precepts to prostrate themselves before the thousand Buddhas in order to obtain merits.

“Do you think you can liberate someone just by reciting a sutra and sounding a wooden fish? Surely you realize that it’s not as simple as that! Moreover, anyone planning on performing penitential rites must first go into retreat, because repentance can only begin once one is completely pure of body, speech, and mind. These days, however, there are people out there who eat meat the day before they plan on performing penitential rites. What would happen if you ate fish today and participated in a puja tomorrow? It would be a wonder if you didn’t get diarrhea! If you participate in pujas here at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, then you are very likely to get the runs, unless you eat vegetarian. So go ahead and eat your fill! I’m going to tell the Dharma protectors to give diarrhea to those of you who participate in the pujas while continuing to eat meat and fish.

“Why should we eat vegetarian? In accordance with what is written in the sutras, everything provided at today’s puja was prepared with vegetarian ingredients without any meat products mixed in. We fall into the Three Evil Realms because we engage in killing and are greedy. By coming here to participate in the puja, you are helped to repay your past debts and avoid repeating the same mistakes in this lifetime; the point is not to seek a good life. Having a good life depends on how well you listen, amend your ways, and cultivate. Before you can do this, however, you first must repay your debt; after all, how can you live in comfort if you are still being chased by creditors? This is the definition of Buddhism. Practicing does not mean relying on me for everything. If such were possible, then I could simply rely on His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang and not have to practice anymore.

“The reason you depend on me for everything is that you are lazy, greedy, and unwilling to admit to your past offenses. For example, there are some people who have been acquainted with me for a long time yet are still unwilling to take refuge; they say they are scared of doing a poor job. However, if they don’t even try, then how can they ever do a good job? Some even say they are afraid of getting scolded, but why are they not frightened of falling into hell? Do you think that having participated in pujas makes you immune to going there? You are just as likely to, because you do not believe. You must not doubt; only a firm resolve can keep you from falling into the Three Evil Realms.

“You must be wondering, if that’s the case, then why would I keep performing the Dharma? I can’t help it; I haven’t done well in my cultivation, so I have to accumulate as many resources as possible so that I can benefit even more sentient beings, far and wide. Too many sentient beings are suffering in the Age of Degenerate Dharma. For this reason, it is written in the Amitabha Sutra that in order to be reborn in the Pure Land, one must be a good man or woman who has made a vow and is not lacking in good fortune, merits, causes, and conditions. A good man or woman is one who has perfected the Ten Meritorious Acts, and ‘not lacking’ means he or she possesses the proper causes and conditions. If you do not know Amitabha Buddha, then Amitabha Buddha cannot help you even if He wants to.

“As a guru, I am constantly creating causes and conditions for you, each according to your affinity. When you make a vow, you are expressing a decision. Don’t fall into the trap of thinking that your children are still young, or you are still doing business, and that you need to finish it first and then practice Buddhism when you have some free time. That disciple who shared before the puja a little while ago said that her father had suffered from Parkinson’s disease for more than thirty years. It would stand to reason that such a person should not deserve to have the Phowa performed for him; in karmic terms, the reason he got such a disease was that he did not believe in cause and effect. He was eventually able to obtain the Phowa because he had later changed. In addition, his daughter had come to implore on his behalf, and he had been willing to take refuge.

“Don’t think that I will necessarily perform a transferal of consciousness whenever you implore for one. Without the proper causal conditions, I will not grant your request even if the deceased is a disciple of mine. I’d be even less likely to perform the Phowa for someone who is not a disciple, unless the Order is in his or her debt. If I owe you, then I still might not help you; if the Order owes you, on the other hand, then I will give my assistance. What would ‘owe’ mean? It would mean you had done some tasks for the Order in the past. Hearing this, you might think you don’t need to practice anymore, but that would not be exactly correct, because I’ll die someday, too. Life is impermanent; there really is no way of knowing when I will die. I could pass away tomorrow. Don’t put too much faith in luck; just because I am adept at cultivating does not mean I will necessarily keep on living for a long time.

“I am bound to keep on living by way of my Dharma body, but sooner or later my flesh and blood will begin to fail. You all need to stop thinking you will continue to be lucky and that everything will be fine as long as you have me to depend on. If this were true, then I could simply rely on His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, and be fine. Why is this not the case? As was demonstrated by Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, the Buddha creates causes and conditions for you. However, whether or not you make a firm resolve to act on them is completely up to you. If you do not, then do you really think you’ll be alright if you simply depend on me to perform the Dharma? There are no good things for those of you attending today’s puja; you have surely come to get scolded. You are here under the impression that I would merely perform the Dharma, but as it turns out I’ve roped you in.

“Today I will perform the Amitabha Dharma for Transferring Consciousness. This Dharma does not come from the sutras, so the Dharma text begins with the words, ‘Herein are written the wondrous methods and extremely profound essence and hidden meanings of the Dharma of transferring consciousness.’ The word ‘wondrous’ here does not mean ‘marvelous;’ it means ‘very auspicious,’ and that it is a Dharma method that ordinary people cannot listen to or realize. ‘Extremely profound’ does not simply mean ‘abstruse’ or ‘wonderful;’ it indicates that this Dharma cannot be explained with mere ordinary Exoteric Buddhist terms, and connotes the Buddha’s wisdom and fortune. ‘Essence’ refers to the true meaning of helping all sentient beings become liberated from life and death. The word ‘hidden’ in ‘hidden meanings’ does not mean ‘secret;’ it is a type of usage. After we comprehend the theory, we need Tantra in order to truly put it into practice.

“Relatively speaking, Tantra provides a very stable method of cultivation that cannot be destroyed by any worldly matters. This means that the ways in which it benefits sentient beings are quite stable, and they are indestructible by mundane means. So-called ‘liberation’ is not necessarily limited to the deceased; the living should be liberated, too. This is done by plucking out your greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt, thereby helping you to escape the suffering sea of affliction. A true explanation of liberation includes the extrication of sentient beings from the suffering sea of reincarnation and transferring their consciousness over to the other shore. If a practitioner is unable to do this, and is still unclear about how to get there, where the Pure Land is, then he or she will merely be able to help sentient beings gather good fortune and form connections, which can be used in the next lifetime.

“To liberate people means having the ability to cause them to transcend and leave the suffering sea of reincarnation, and send them on to the Pure Land. You cannot send them there just by mouthing the words or reciting a few lines from the sutras. I can liberate my disciples without being physically present; even from far away, I can cause their crown chakras to grow hot to the touch. This is the skill of transferring consciousness. Why do you have to see auspicious signs? In my modesty, I want to make sure I do a good job, so I cause auspicious signs to appear so as to verify that my performance of the Dharma has helped the deceased. If it does not work, then I perform it again. Once I have agreed to help someone, I will keep trying until the job is done. I am not like those people out there who just say casually that they have recited twenty-one sutras, and that this was good enough for the deceased.

“The point of auspicious signs is not that your guru requires your praise; rather, they are important in that they clearly demonstrate that the deceased have genuinely benefited from the Dharma. In fact, I already know they have, of course, but people are attached to signs; they won’t believe unless they have seen and felt such manifestations for themselves. This is why I produce those auspicious signs for you to see. The Amitabha Dharma for Transferring Consciousness being performed today involves many rituals. First, the practitioner must already be practicing three parts of Tantra; namely, the Kriyayoga, Charyayoga, and Yogatantra. In addition, the practitioner must be skilled at meditation to the point of having mastered the Simplicity Yoga. Last week, while I was performing the Dorje Phurba, you all would have seen my eyes focused on the same spot for more than ten minutes. This is an example of true meditation, and involves a lot more than simply closing your eyes; that’s just sleeping.

“Why was I able to focus my eyes on one spot like that without moving? This has to do with Tantra, as well as with the Simplicity Yoga. You think the Buddha’s eyes hang downward, but this is a manifestation by the Buddha on stillness, and is part of Exoteric Buddhism. Both sorts of cultivation are fine; the only difference lies in how long they take. Cultivating by way of Exoteric Buddhism takes a very, very long time, whereas practicing Tantra can bring attainment relatively quickly as long as one encounters the right guru. Only after practicing through various stages, such as performing retreats, can one master the Amitabha Dharma for Transferring Consciousness. This text was personally transmitted by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, who was also the one who compiled it before orally transmitting it to me. Usually, whenever transmitting a Dharma to me, the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang first recites its text and then trusts me to go off and practice it by myself. You are different; I keep reciting things over and over, but you still can’t grasp their meaning. Whenever His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang transmits a Dharma to me, he finishes reciting the text and then says, ‘Begin,’ and I start practicing it immediately. The reason I understand the rituals contained in it is perhaps a result of having cultivated in my past lives.

“In a moment, while I am performing the Dharma, you must amend your ways no matter what your motive was for coming here to participate in today’s puja. We are unable to become liberated from life and death or leave this evil time of the Five Turbidities because of the many evil and virtuous acts we have done throughout our past lives. If you possess an overabundance of virtuous karma, you will enjoy your life to such a degree that you will not think to practice Buddhism. The same is true, however, if you have too much evil karma, for you will be distracted by all that excess suffering. The fact that we are still living in the Saha World and the evil time of the Five Turbidities is an indication that we continue to be indebted to a large number of sentient beings. You have come here today to participate in this puja, but you should not do so with the intention of repaying your debt; nor should you hope that your attendance will cause everything to get better for you. All of the evil acts we have committed in body, speech, and mind throughout our past lives have prevented sentient beings from leaving their suffering behind. For this reason, during the pujas we must take on an attitude of mercy, repentance, and compassion, and hope that all sentient beings—both with and without affinity with us—can become liberated from suffering. There is no need to implore for anything or to specify a target in your prayers.

“The Dharma fills the void. As long as you give rise to a wish to help sentient beings, you will become attuned to the mind of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and your guru. Barring extraordinary circumstances, you do not need to specify a target for your prayers; it is quite normal to have hindrances to do with most mundane matters. Ask yourselves how much fish, shrimp, abalone, oysters, and pork you have eaten in this lifetime. All of this debt you must repay. Those sentient beings will hinder you, because you ate them. When we have hindrances in our worldly affairs, it is a good thing, because it reminds us that there are still a great deal of things that demand our attention; it also tells us that we still owe sentient beings. Don’t think you can ignore this fact and continue charging through life like a bully and just deal with the consequences after you’re dead. When you are on your deathbed you will be afraid and want to live.

“No one believes that he or she is going to die, but we all are. Who can escape death? No matter how powerful or capable you might be, on your very last day you will take one final breath and then be gone. Performing or practicing Dharma is preparatory work for the final moment—death. You should not count on luck and assume that I will still be here when your time comes. Of course I will be here, in the void, but you will not necessarily be able to find me. Right now I am constantly helping you all to accumulate good fortune, wisdom, and resources. Many people don’t understand why they should accumulate these things; they think they are only useful during death. If you continuously accumulate good fortune and wisdom, then of course this will cause a decrease in your worldly hindrances because of your good fortune and wisdom. Even if something happens to you, its effects will not be very severe.

“Take your monthly salary, for example. If you were to spend it all without even setting aside a single cent for a rainy day, then what would you do if something unexpected happened? In Buddhism, too, we are taught to save money. For every paycheck we get, we should divide it into five parts. We are even taught how to use them: One fifth of the money should go into savings, and one fifth left for expenses. We should not deposit it all into the bank. If everyone stopped spending money, then society would collapse. If you were to wear the same suit from when you were young until the time of your death, then wouldn’t that trigger the downfall of the world economy? So you shouldn’t do that. As you can see, Buddhism harmonizes very well with the mundane world.

“You all need to adjust your attitude if you want the Dharma I am performing for you to mean much. You don’t need to worry over having a lot of wandering thoughts; that’s normal. After all, you are not made of wood! As you sit down there, thoughts are bound to arise in your minds even as you chant the Buddha’s name along with me. As soon as you perceive that you are thinking a thought, it means you have begun to concentrate on that thought. Once you are able to sense some thoughts that have nothing to do with the Dharma, and learn how to pull them back, then you have done enough. You don’t need to fly out of the building or become completely motionless; having thoughts is normal, because while we are still living, a thought will arise between every breath.

“While I am performing the Dharma, you should refrain from feeling bored, because you still have a great deal to do: You must cultivate an attitude of mercy, repentance, compassion, faith, and respect. Don’t think that you don’t have anything to do or that there is nothing for you to chant. If you want to learn how to develop this attitude, then there already are plenty of things you can do. During my performance of the Dharma you should adjust your mind. Don’t worry about how well you do this; even minor adjustments are useful. Buddhism has no strict definition of what it means to do a good job; you are doing fine as long as your understanding continues to grow rather than decrease. One special characteristic of Buddhism is that as long as you practice, it can help you to continuously accumulate resources until one day, eventually, you attain Buddhahood. Don’t think you have to wait until you comprehend everything; to this day I myself still do not understand Buddhism completely.

“Many people think they have to wait until they understand what the guru has said and comprehend his or her meaning thoroughly, but the word ‘meaning’ is never used in Buddhism; more often we use the word ‘mind.’ The concept is that if we are mindful and put what we learn into practice, we can eventually realize from experience what it means. No matter what your profession is, and even if you are a very hardworking university student, you absolutely cannot gain any genuine work experience without first putting what you have learned into practice. You should stop laboring under so many misconceptions; you do not have to wait until you understand Buddhism before you act. Even I do not understand it, because I have not yet attained Buddhahood. I only consider myself to have taken a few steps further than you have; this is why I can lead you along this path.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the Amitabha Dharma for Transferring Consciousness. First, the ordained disciples offered the mandala to, and implored the Dharma from, the guru on behalf of all sentient beings. After this ritual was complete, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led everyone to sing Praises to Amitabha. The guru’s solemn Dharma voice filled the void, and all of the attendees gave rise to joy, respect, and generosity as they received Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s endless compassion and all-embracing power. Unconsciously, tears streamed down their faces as their hearts were filled with incomparable admiration that was impossible to describe with words. His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche conducted the Refuge and Aspiration Rituals, and then continued to bestow teachings.

“The refuge and aspiration prayers in this Dharma text are different from others. When taking refuge, you first must chant a seed word. All of the sutra text and mantras you are reciting and chanting right now are words spoken by Amitabha Buddha, meaning that today’s Dharma was passed down personally by Amitabha Buddha. You have come here to participate in this puja today, so as long as you vow to practice, the power from taking refuge will not dissipate before you attain Buddhahood—unless you break the precepts. Breaking the precepts includes eating meat. The reason I forbid puja attendees from consuming meat is that as soon as you break that precept, your refuge power vanishes. It genuinely disappears, because the light of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can no longer reach you. Some people think it’s a real pain to have to abstain from eating meat during social or business functions, but those sorts of gatherings were already annoying in the first place: They have to spend the whole time being careful not to offend others or say the wrong thing. All people without a firm resolution naturally think everything is a bother.

“At the end of the Dharma text it is written that we have never stopped suffering. It is as if all sentient beings are chain-bound and desperately being forced down an inescapable road to hell. By giving rise to both aspiration and action bodhicitta, we can rescue them from their despair, but these things have nothing to do with you. These are two different things. Engendering aspiration bodhicitta does not imply that one has the ability to take action. When a practitioner starts to practice action bodhicitta, he or she becomes qualified to liberate sentient beings. Thus, requirements are to take refuge, perfect the Ten Meritorious Acts, keep the Five Precepts, cultivate compassion, realize Emptiness, develop aspiration bodhicitta, and then practice action bodhicitta. Therefore, you now know that transferring consciousness is not a simply matter of reciting a few lines from the sutras.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche resumed his performance of the Dharma, reciting mantras and visualizing the scenery and palaces in the Western Pure Land. The guru praised Amitabha Buddha’s merits and conducted other rituals before continuing to bestow teachings.

“It is stated in the Dharma text that if you continuously chant Amitabha’s name throughout this lifetime, then you cannot die an accidental death unless you break the precepts and commit evil deeds. It is also written that once Amitabha Buddha gives rise to a thought, He is able to rid the world of all disasters. This is why, every year that I perform the Amitabha Dharma for Transferring Consciousness, a lot fewer typhoons hit Taiwan. In the text there is also mention that if we can take refuge, we will obtain constant bliss. This does not refer to our time in this world; it refers to the bliss of never reincarnating. The Dharma text goes on to point out that we should eternally and frequently respect and praise the yidam Amitabha Buddha. Thus, if you go out and eat meat after today’s puja, then you will have failed to meet the requirements mentioned here. The reason I no longer hold Grand Pujas is that no matter how much I tried to urge them, those people never listened. All they did was to ask again, the following year, when the next Grand Puja would be. I have stopped holding the event; after all, if everyone insists on eating meat, then how can I continue?”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to perform the Dharma, leading the attendees in a chanting of the Amitabha Mantra for a long time. The guru then said that he was about to conduct an empowerment ritual for himself.

“An ‘empowerment’ refers to the authorization to benefit sentient beings, given by the yidam to the practitioner. However, ordinary people cannot be authorized as such. In order to obtain empowerment for oneself, a practitioner must first go into many retreats, perform many Dharmas, and chant a lot of mantras. What is the purpose of this ritual? Although we visualize the guru as being no different from the yidam, the former still possesses the body of an ordinary human being. Therefore, only after becoming empowered—achieving a physical transformation that renders the guru’s body identical to the Dharma’s essence—can he or she help sentient beings.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche resumed his performance of the Dharma, and spoke briefly about the rituals and visualizations being conducted. “These rituals cover the Kriyayoga, Charyayoga, Yogatantra parts of Tantra. If you have not cultivated these Dharmas, then you cannot visualize their contents.” Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performed the treasured vase ritual and said, “The function of this vase does not appear upon filling it with water; the point is to visualize and chant mantras to transform the water in the treasured vase into the waters of merits. If the practitioner has not mastered the ‘Vanquishing’ part of the ‘four Dharma methods of Subduing, Placating, Increasing, and Vanquishing,’ then he or she cannot bring forth the effect of the treasured vase, because the vase contains blessings of the Wrathful Yidam.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued performing the Dharma, conducting various rituals of offering. In the process, the eight offering girls sang a song of praise, and the Tsok Ritual was performed. Each of the attendees received a food offering that had been blessed by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, as well as the rare and auspicious causal condition to share a meal with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas during the puja. While conducting the Ritual of Transferring Consciousness, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche very compassionately allowed the attendees to speak out loud the names of the deceased they wished to have liberated. The guru then instructed the attendees to stand and the lead monastic prostrated before the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas on behalf of the attendees’ ancestors and all of the sentient beings they had ever harmed. His Eminence Rinchen Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche compassionately and auspiciously bestowed blessings and performed the Dharma, very ardently praying for all sentient beings. The attendees were all deeply moved by the guru’s boundless benevolence and assistance to sentient beings, and in their hearts they felt so much incomparable repentance and respect that tears rolled incessantly down their cheeks.

After performing the Dharma for a while, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche resumed his teachings.

“The Dharma text being used today was compiled by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. One part of it is a terma, which is text that was taught directly by the yidam, hidden by Padmasambhava, and found by later generations of terma masters. A part of Tantra—the Amitabha Ritual of Rapid Transferal to the Pure Land—was added to this text. The lineage of this Dharma text is very clear. Learning Tantra is definitely not a matter of willfully thinking that you will learn it just because you want to; one absolutely must have the backup of the entire lineage, as well as the awareness of who can transmit the Dharma and how it is practiced. As for the Amitabha Dharma of Transferring Consciousness, if the practitioner has not mastered the Phowa or is not of pure mind, then not only will the performance not end up helping sentient beings, but the practitioner will encounter some mishaps as well. I have performed this Dharma for many years, and under the protection of my guru, Dharma Protector Achi, and the yidam, I have never had any problems and have always been able to benefit sentient beings.

“Contrary to what you might imagine, participating in a Puja for Transferring Consciousness is not as simple as making a phone call, registering your name, writing down the names of the deceased, giving a bit of money, or even donating one or two million in order to become a major benefactor. Liberating the deceased is not so easy; it is a very complex process that involves many rituals. Only by helping the deceased to purify all of the evil acts they have committed out of greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt throughout their past lives—thereby enabling them to reveal their pure Dharma nature—can they become liberated. For this reason, if the practitioner’s capabilities and fortune are insufficient, then reciting sutras and performing the Dharma will merely help the deceased and the living to form a connection.

“It is also written in the Dharma text that if a practitioner performing the Dharma of Transferring Consciousness fails to liberate the deceased, then the latter will grow resentful, and that this will cause the deceased to fall into the Three Evil Realms. As I have often said, without the presence of a guru who practices in accordance with the Dharma, it is best when someone in your family passes away to have family members chant for him or her. This is because family members will chant more sincerely, so at the very least they will not harm by sending the deceased to the Three Evil Realms. However, you are not qualified to transfer the deceased’s consciousness, so don’t think that you can simply chant and cause them to go to Amitabha’s Pure Land. Because your chanting is earnestly in support of the deceased, and you hope that they will not suffer, you will help the deceased to plant some good roots and avoid falling into the Three Evil Realms.

“Many people think that they can recite the sutras, and that once they achieve a state of deep concentration they can then liberate sentient beings. However, this is conceptually false. To explain it in mundane terms, if you want to help someone go somewhere, then at the very least you need to have the ability to do so. In modern language this means you must have enough money to help that person and possess sufficient knowledge of his or her proposed destination. Who among you has sufficient knowledge of Amitabha’s Pure Land? If you do not, then how can you liberate sentient beings? Can you really help them just by reciting the sutras?

“Just now I explained a lot about the palaces and the Pure Land, and all the while I was performing the Dharma and making offerings. It is not that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas need our offerings; it is that each offering we make chips away at the fundamental darkness and attachments we have as ordinary sentient beings. We subscribe to a lot of myths and misunderstandings when it comes to Buddhism. This is not a criticism; rather, in order to help the deceased, we first must chant to become better. If we do not have the proper skills, then how can we assist anyone? Some people would say that reciting for someone in and of itself is useful, but this is probably just a way of making themselves feel better. Before you can help a person, you must be capable. For example, if you want to teach someone something, then you first have to learn it yourself. This is the same exact concept.

“Don’t assume that the Buddha will come whenever you chant His name. Even I, after having completed so many retreats, still must go through all the steps of visualizing, making offerings, respectfully supplicating to the yidam, and empowering myself before I would ever dare to begin performing the Dharma. While reciting the sutras you must not imagine, grandiosely, that your recitation will be useful to the deceased. As long as you are willing to recite and have a good heart, then you will certainly help the deceased—but you must refrain from making false speech and thinking that you have mastered the task at hand. Before performing the Dharma, I always implore my guru and the Dharma protectors for blessings. I never think that I am very powerful or capable of performing. In addition, a great deal of preparatory work must be completed.

“Exoteric Buddhism embodies Buddhist principles, but you cannot apply them immediately. To give an analogy, if you learned a heap of theory at university but never got a job in society, then what use would it be? You therefore should not think that being literate and having listened to people lecture on Buddhism means that you understand the Dharma. If it were that simple, then His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang would not have needed to train me; he could simply have gotten some people together, shaved their heads, and started them chanting every day. We must recognize Buddhism for what it is. The job of all practitioners is to help sentient beings without regard for their own wellbeing, and hope that they will comprehend what the Dharma is. Otherwise, it will be destroyed. You must not dwell on your likes and dislikes, or be picky about which passages you enjoy or don’t enjoy reciting. Do you think you are ordering dishes in a restaurant? It is your guru who tells you what to practice; it is not up to you. What makes you qualified to pick and choose?

“Do you really think you’re in a restaurant and can spend a little money to get what you feel like eating? These are human affairs. For example, in school, teachers will teach you only once you hold the proper qualifications; why, then, do you think you can just do as you please in Buddhism? If you read a Dharma text, you will not dare to put any of it to practice, because you are slaves to your desires. You must not bully the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas just because They can’t speak but I can. Don’t try to bully me, either. If you don’t like it, then stop coming here.

“Today I’ve lured a few people to come to the puja. However, you must get this through your heads: If you continue to eat meat, then you are forbidden to set foot near my mandala. I spend all day everyday helping lots of sentient beings. I am constantly urging everyone to stop eating meat, yet you turn around and say it’s not a big deal because you haven’t taken refuge or you aren’t ready to go vegetarian yet. You then will come here imploring to repent before me. I will die at some point; when that time comes, whom will you find to repent to? Do you think the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will listen to what you have to say?

“In this chaotic world, in this Age of Degenerate Dharma, if you continue to stray from the path to good and keep on accumulating evil seeds, then your entire life could tumble like a house of cards at the slightest breeze. Don’t think that just because you are enjoying good luck at the moment it means it will continue, or assume that you will be protected if you come to the pujas. I have never read mention in any of the Dharma texts that attending the pujas automatically grants protection and blessings; the only thing written there is that everyone should listen. If your ears are closed, then how can you obtain blessings and protection? If you could get those things just by imploring for them, then how is it that so many people worship deities, Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas yet still end up having problems? It would stand to reason that nothing bad should happen to them. However, even petty thieves make prostrations to the Buddha, and even hardened criminals supplicate to Matsu. If one could get protection by doing so, it would not be fair.

“The main concept of Buddhism is that you must adjust your attitude and amend your ways. In the Age of Degenerate Dharma, propagating Buddhism is very difficult, because people are so obstinate and refuse to believe there is anything wrong with them. They blame everything that happens on other people, without taking any responsibility for themselves, so they are never able to gain a clear view of their original nature. Any Dharma I perform is a method of expedience designed to lessen your hindrances to practicing Buddhism. However, you are the ones who must decide to practice, not me. Whether or not you do so does not matter; I won’t get angry either way.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the disciples in a performance of the Dharma Protector Achi prayer and the dedication ritual. Upon the perfect completion of the Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness, the disciples expressed in unison their gratitude to the guru for having tirelessly and compassionately performed the Dharma and bestowed teachings. Rising to their feet, they paid reverent homage as His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne.

From 3:55 to 4:50 that afternoon at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Taipei, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had helped sixty-five believers by resolving all of their worldly suffering and bestowing Buddhist teachings and assistance upon them.

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Updated on February 19, 2016