His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – October 11, 2015

Before the puja began, a disciple, accompanied by his younger brother, thanked His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having bestowed upon them the opportunity to show their gratitude to the guru for having saved their father. The disciple then shared an account of how the guru had helped their family.

In May of 2000, the disciple’s father had been in a car accident and suffered an intracranial hemorrhage as a result. After multiple trips in and out of the operating room, he’d been left bedridden and unable to recognize any family members. Five years later, in March of 2005, further serious intracranial hemorrhaging had sent the disciple’s father into another coma, and he had lain unconscious in a sickbed for three months straight. During this time, the disciple and his siblings had felt profoundly powerless and insignificant. They would often sit dejectedly outside the intensive care unit, completely unable to alleviate their tormented father’s suffering even a tiny bit, and eventually he had been pronounced braindead. From that moment onward, they had seemed to be able to do nothing but watch on helplessly as their father’s life slipped away, one drip at a time. Later on, a friend of the disciple’s younger brother had suggested that they ask a monk to come and make arrangements for their father to take refuge. The friend had also introduced them to a psychic, after which the disciple’s brother had actually gone to meet with that so-called psychic.

To their surprise, this psychic had told the disciple’s younger brother that their father’s three immortal souls and seven mortal forms had already left the hospital. His brother had asked, “If he’s not in the hospital, then where is he?” The psychic had answered, “In hell!” Because they had not gotten the sense that this psychic was deceiving them, this news had shocked them greatly. From their point of view, hell was nothing more than something mentioned in the stories written on totems in the shrines, or in morality books. The disciple had therefore been completely unable to imagine or accept that this was happening to his father. Afterward they had hurriedly arranged to meet with a Daoist master in a temple in Xinzhu, but he had merely said, “Your father seems to have been sentenced to death. Did you know that?” After that he had not uttered a single word more!

Later the disciple had visited another shrine in Tucheng, and the one who “came down from heaven” was a boy. In a childlike voice, the first thing the boy had told him was, “Your father will go to hell; I can do nothing to help!” The disciple had been even more astonished by these words.

He was grateful to Dharma Brother Su. While in the depths of utter helplessness, he had been asked by the Dharma brother whether or not he wished to seek an audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. He had immediately said that he would! However, he had not possessed the causal condition necessary to meet with the eminent guru that week, and the following Saturday, in the morning, the disciple’s father had died from multiple organ failure.

That week, while making arrangements for his father’s funeral, a certain sentence had continued resurface in his mind: Dharma Brother Lai had specially reminded him when he was on his way out of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, “Later, whether your father is alive or not, always remember that you must come here to see the guru!” At the time the disciple’s intuition had made him wonder what the point of returning to the Buddhist Center would be if his father were to pass away. Looking back on it now, he felt deeply ashamed at how ignorant and foolish he had been!

Because Dharma Brother Lai’s words continued to replay in his head, the following week the disciple had returned to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center where he had finally been given an audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. No sooner had he knelt down than the guru had asked, “Has someone in your family passed away?” He had replied, “Yes, my father has!” His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had then inquired after his father’s name and zodiac sign, and less than three seconds later told him that his father had been plagued by a great many worries at the time of his death.

First, the guru had asked him, “Is your middle sibling a girl?” He had answered, “Yes.” The guru had continued: “Your younger sister has been quarreling quite fiercely with her husband lately, hasn’t she?” Stunned, the disciple had said to himself, “Goodness! He even knows that? Remarkable!” Then he had answered, “Yes, they have indeed been fighting rather intensely.” His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had then said, “Your father does not believe that your sister’s husband is in the wrong; rather, he thinks that she has a bad temper, so is the one who needs to change.” The guru had then specially instructed, “When you go home, tell your sister that these are your father’s final words to her.” In addition, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had asked, “Your youngest sibling is a little brother, correct?” He had replied, “Yes.” The guru had said, “Your father is concerned about your little brother’s temper, too; he thinks he is very rash, just like his father, and is worried that he will not finish school. It is his wish that your younger brother focuses and does well in his studies. Also, didn’t your father build a house?” The disciple had replied, “Yes, he did!” The guru had continued: “Your father said that your mother should be given complete authority over that house, and that he wants her to not think too much and to simply enjoy her life.”

While listening to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s revelations, he had been shocked to no end by each of the guru’s words, because the details of what had been going on had not been made known to anyone outside of the family. Right then and there the disciple had developed a profound confidence in this guru who was before him. Finally, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “The reason your father was able to find me was that he spent his life cultivating forbearance.” Then the guru had instructed, “After the funeral tomorrow, come the next day to participate in my Chod Puja.” The guru was extraordinary! The funeral had indeed been scheduled for the following day. Two days later, the disciple had participated in the Chod Puja for transferring consciousness presided over by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

Prior to this, he and his wife had been participating weekly, for two years straight, in pujas held by another order of Tibetan Buddhism. They knew of the Chod, and had heard of the Phowa; however, to them those practices had seemed very distant. Furthermore, they had assumed that only throne-holders and Mahasiddhas cultivating in caves deep in the mountains were the only ones who could perform them, because such methods—especially the transferal of consciousness—were extremely auspicious! It never would have occurred to him in a thousand years that such a master practitioner was actually right here beside him. How could he have been so lucky as to encounter such a remarkable guru?

The week after attending in the Chod Puja, he had gone to participate in the general puja. While listening to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings he had gained a profound sense of their auspiciousness. They had been completely different from the Dharma he had listened to in the past. Presently, he had developed an incomparable faith and felt deeply moved, because he’d suddenly realized that all along Buddhism had been something that could be put to use in any ordinary person’s life. From then on, Buddhist cultivation had transformed in the disciple’s mind to something that was practical, and not so abstract or distant! After returning home, he had immediately said to his wife, “I found him! I found him! This is the guru! From now on we can stop searching!” That Saturday, he and his wife had gone to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to make prostrations to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and thank the guru for performing the Dharma for the disciple’s father. Before seeking audience, they had both wondered what explanation they should give while imploring the guru to allow her to participate in the pujas. Later the disciple had decided to use his wife’s poor health as a reason!

After he had thanked His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the guru had asked him, “What else can I help you with?” The disciple had then reported, “My wife has always been overly skinny.” The guru had said, “Isn’t being thin a good thing? That way she’ll save you lots of money that you might otherwise have to spend on a weight-loss program!” The guru’s words had left him temporarily speechless, so a moment later the guru had asked, “What exactly is the matter?” He had reported, “My wife has constantly been in very poor health.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had asked his wife to reach out her hand, and after a couple of seconds, had said, “When you were little, you were playing with your older brother one time and he accidentally pushed you down the stairs. You crashed into something very hard. Turn around; this is where you were injured.” The guru had used a rattan to point at a spot on her back, and then said, “It had the same effect as if someone had hit a pressure point. Ever since then, your heart’s qi and blood levels have been frozen in place, unable to rise or fall. As a result, you get a headache whenever the slightest breath of wind touches you, and you get a cold very easily. As soon as you get your period, the pain in your insides is debilitating, and your four limps feel icy. That’s what it’s like, right?” After the disciple and his wife had nodded their heads vigorously, the disciple had said, “My wife is nothing but skin and bones; it’s true—whenever even a tiny breeze hits her, she does indeed say, ‘I have such a headache; my head hurts so bad!’ What’s worse, whenever she goes to sleep, she has to put on an entire suit of armor just to protect herself from the cold: A wool cap on her head, her body wrapped in an overcoat, long pajama pants, gloves on her hands, and socks on her feet. I often wonder how a person could become so frail.”

Addressing the disciple’s wife, the guru had continued: “Nevertheless, the explanation I just gave relates to the mundane world. Now let me give you a supramundane answer: Your parents used to engage in the sale of animals. That being the case, people in your family must all have unhealthy hearts. Come and participate in my pujas so that you can accumulate enough good fortune to one day encounter an excellent doctor who can cure you!” As it turned out, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had been well aware of their intentions. They had not been able to conceal them!

On his way out of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, the disciple had wondered to himself, Wasn’t my father-in-law a high school teacher? And I thought my mother-in-law never worked. However, as it turned out, his wife had then said, “That guru is quite amazing. My parents once spent a year raising pigs, ducks, and chickens to sell, so what he said was absolutely correct. My mother and father have both had cardiovascular stents put in, and my eldest brother’s mitral valve in his heart has prolapsed.”

After that, not only had his wife begun to participate in the pujas, but she had also gotten a job with the Glorious Jewel Group. There she had received even more of the guru’s meticulous care. Gradually she had put some meat on her bones and grown stronger, and seldom did he hear her complain of headaches anymore. Furthermore, she had been able to go to bed with sleepwear on that was much more normal! As it so happened, the guru had not only been the one to help his wife increase her good fortune, but had also ended up being the skilled doctor who cured her of her illness!

One time, after they had participated in the general pujas for about three or four weeks, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had been in the middle of bestowing teachings when the guru had suddenly changed the subject and said, “Some people, for the sake of convenience and in order to care for them more easily, will actually tie up their own sick parents.” Hearing this had startled the disciple, and he had abruptly sat up straight. He’d felt stunned because it just so happened that his father—for five years before passing away—had lived with them at home; in order to prevent him from pulling out his nasogastric tube or taking off his clothes, they had followed the example set by the medical staff at the hospital and tied his hands to his wheelchair. Likewise, at night, when it was time for his father to rest, they had tied his arms to the sides of his bed. The guru had then gone on to say, “So, how about we try this? I’ll tie you up—it doesn’t need to be for very long; one day will do—and if you can bear it, then you can go ahead and keep doing that to your parents. How can you consider yourself a good son? This behavior is outrageous!” The disciple was grateful to the guru, for in that instant he had felt extremely horrible in the realization of just how much his father had actually suffered, and how much in the wrong he himself had been. He had also gained a profound sense that in this era of confused values and upside-down morality, he would never again be able to find a guru who guided his disciples as compassionately and selflessly as His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche!

He thanked the guru for liberating his dad. Because the funeral had been held the day before the Chod Puja, his father had already been buried, so the disciple had never seen the transformations that had happened to his remains. Nine years later, his mother had urged him to exhume his father’s bones and place them in a pagoda, as was their family’s custom. For this reason, early one morning he and his younger brother had gone to the cemetery to have their father’s remains dug up. Once they opened the coffin, the groundskeeper had extracted their father’s skull and discovered that the car accident had cause a very long and obvious crack to form in it which extended from the back of the head straight through the crown chakra to the top of the skull. After cleaning off all the mud that had been stuck to the disciple’s father’s bones, the groundskeeper had been surprised to find a pair of symmetrical, round holes formed along the crack in the skull in the location of the crown chakra. Smooth and translucent, clear and well-defined, these were proof that the guru had transferred their father’s consciousness to the Pure Land. The disciple was grateful to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for this extraordinary arrangement: Nine years after his father had been buried, They had still allowed the disciple to witness evidence of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s great awe-inspiring power and the auspiciousness of Buddhism. When the guru had performed the Dharma for his father, he had still just been a believer who had not yet made any offerings. However, out of his kindness, compassion, joy, and generosity, the guru always gives the best of himself to sentient beings without discrimination. Moreover, soon after taking refuge, the disciple had been a real pain in the guru’s side by selfishly draining His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s precious energy and health.

In 2006 the mastiff he’d raised for twelve years, named “Bao Bao,” had suddenly stopped eating. Over the following ten days in a row, the dog would not even drink water, so the disciple had taken it to the veterinary clinic. Even after getting a shot, however, Bao Bao still would not eat anything. One evening after thirteen days had gone by, the disciple’s wife, in a moment of panic, had rushed over to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to seek an audience with the guru. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had asked, “What’s the matter?” Upon seeing the guru, she had involuntarily burst into tears and said, “Our dog hasn’t eaten anything in more than ten days, and taking him to the vet didn’t do any good!” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “Give your dog a nectar pill to help him pass away sooner.” It had not occurred to them that Bao Bao would reach this point. This had made them realize that they were always facing everything they had with greed. Only His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche could truly understand the suffering of sentient beings, and genuinely hoped that they could leave that suffering behind.

That night, worried that Bao Bao might not eat the nectar pill, they had very seriously told the dog, “This nectar pill was bestowed by the guru. It is very precious!” To their surprise, Bao Bao had chomped it down in one gulp and even drunk some water with it. The disciple had been very surprised to discover that this dog knew what to do, just as the guru had said it would. Two mornings later, as the disciple was preparing to go to work, he had discovered Bao Bao lying on the floor, blocking the doorway as if refusing to allow him to leave. Normally the dog would stand up and get out of the way, but that day it wouldn’t move an inch. He and his wife had had no choice but to move the dog away from the door. At around ten o’clock that morning, his wife had telephoned to inform him that Bao Bao had died. The disciple had hurried home to discover that the dog’s eyes were still wide open, and not only was its mouth agape in a painful grimace, but it was so rigid that it could not be closed no matter what they did. The disciple had made a phone call to a Dharma brother to ask what they should do, and whether or not they should give the dog recitation assistance the way they would a human. The Dharma brother had said, “Alright, sure, because it’s a sentient being, too.” The disciple and his wife had then visualized the guru while chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra for their dog. About two hours later, they had wiped their tears away to find, to their surprise, that Bao Bao’s mouth and eyes had closed shut, and his entire body had gone limp. In twelve years of Bao Bao being their pet, they had never once seen it look so at peace. It had even looked as if the dog were smiling. The disciple’s wife had actually asked, “Did we make a mistake? Is Bao Bao still alive?” The next day, upon finding how soft the dog’s corpse was, the person who had come to take it away had been absolutely shocked. He’d said that in more than ten years of doing that line of work he had never seen such a thing. The disciple and his wife had known that this had been made possible because Bao Bao had received the guru’s compassionate blessings.

On December 1st, 2006, he’d been fortunate enough to accompany the guru to Tibet to visit Yunga Rinpoche. The day before setting out, however, and while delivering a document for his company to a client, the disciple had suddenly been caught in a heavy rain storm. The taxi driver had made him get out of the car on a curb that was not protected by any sort of awning, so while standing at the crosswalk, waiting for the light to turn green, he had gotten completely soaked. At the time he had been unconcerned, but little had he known that this would later lead to a cold and a fever which, combined with the effects of the high Tibetan altitude, had left him in very dire straits indeed!

After flying from Chengdu to Lhasa, he had discovered that something did not quite feel right! At the airport, while getting ready to leave, he had parked the luggage cart he’d been pushing right between the tourist coach they were about to board and the minibus next to it. Afterward he’d thought he had better place the cart in front of the minibus so that it would be easier to get the luggage into the bus. While bringing the cart to a stop there, he had suddenly heard the minibus honking very loudly. Raising his head, he had seen that it was the guru inside, mashing down the horn and pointing a finger at him with the wrathful look of a Vajra on his face. Suddenly frightened, the disciple had quickly pushed the luggage cart to a location that would not interfere with the minibus, and had hurriedly placed his baggage on board. After being corrected by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the disciple had realized that his mind was full of thoughts—a whirlwind of anxiety mixed with other complex emotions, all constantly welling up into his consciousness. Before long, however, these thoughts had subsided to be replaced by the suffering brought to him by the effects of high altitude.

After that, his condition had deteriorated quite severely: He had grown hoarse and had a runny nose, cough, headache, and tightness in his chest, and felt dizzy. Just about every night he’d had difficulty falling asleep, and by the time he finally did, he would begin to cough at around two in the morning—and the coughing was so forceful that it often brought up traces of blood!

This had continued until early evening on the day before they would be visiting Yunga Rinpoche. The disciple had discovered that his body was so stiff that he could not move. His awareness was fuzzy, he’d had trouble breathing, and his entire body was in utter agony. Realizing suddenly that he might not make it, he had done his level best to visualize His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, but no matter how he tried, he could not bring a clear image of the guru to mind. In that instant it had hit him that although he ordinarily relied on Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, he actually had had a fundamental lack of faith in the guru. Right then, in the face of the guru’s selfless compassion and earnest teachings, the disciple had felt deeply ashamed. He had then thought about the fact that all his life, he had been a constant source of worry and bother to his parents, and had made no contributions to anything at all. His heart was full of selfishness and hatred. Seeing he was in such pain, his sister-in-law on the tour bus had been scraping his neck and back for him, but he had grown annoyed at her. He understood clearly how despicable he was; he was an ingrate, completely devoid of virtuous thoughts.

Suddenly a thought had welled up from the depths of his heart: I want to repent. As those words had made their way to the tip of his tongue, something very mysterious had happened: Two rays of light had instantly shot into him like bullets through the space between his eyebrows. One of them was the guru, and the other was Dharma Protector Achi. (People had later asked him how he could be sure that they were the guru and the Dharma protector, and in all honestly he was uncertain of exactly how; he’d simply known that they were.) After these two rays had entered him, warmth had bloomed outward from his mind. This had caused his arms and legs to no longer be stiff, and the pain had receded significantly.

He had hurriedly roused his wife awake, who was sitting next to him, and said, “I am unworthy of the guru. After I’m dead, sell my car; use the money to make an offering to the guru and implore to have my consciousness transferred. I owe my mom an apology, too. In future, I hope life won’t be so hard on her. Please take good care of her for me. I want to say sorry to my sister, too; she has always been good to me, yet I get annoyed by her. Thank you for sticking with me for so long with no complaints or regrets.” After stammering all of this out, he had commenced weeping. His wife had asked, “Do you feel better?” After he’d nodded his head, his wife had fallen back asleep. Only then had he realized that everyone actually felt uncomfortable, not just him. At noon the following day, after another dozen or so hours on the road, they had finally met Yunga Rinpoche. Afterward the disciple had even felt well enough to go to Drikung Thil Monastery and climb up to Dharma Protector Achi’s retreat hut, thus completing the entire itinerary. He knew that all of this was thanks to the help and blessings bestowed by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and the Dharma protector.

Everything he had recounted thus far was but a part of all the assistance His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had given to his family. At the same time, the disciple wished to repent for still being a wanderer, continuing to reincarnate in the Six Realms, and prayed that everyone present could be guided by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to be reborn in the Pure Land, never to reincarnate again. The disciple again expressed gratitude to the guru, the throne holders, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas, and prayed that His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would be healthy, maintain an eternal presence in this world, and keep turning the Dharma wheel so that Buddhism could be spread far and wide and the Drikung Kagyu lineage would flourish forever.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne to preside over the general puja and bestow precious Dharma teachings upon everyone present.

“Today I will resume expounding the Ninth Chapter of the Ten Dharmas of Mahayana, from the Ratnakuta Sutra. This is a very long sutra. The reason I am specially talking about this chapter is that if you do not understand how to act in body, speech, and mind, then you are bound to have problems in the future when practicing the Bodhisattva Path. The Buddha said that the definition of Mayahana, Hinayana, and Vajrayana Buddhism lies in what is in one’s mind. The more capacity one’s mind has, the greater the achievements and merits one can attain. Thus, if you want everything you learn and practice to produce merits in this lifetime, then the only way is to cultivate the Bodhisattva Path.

“You should not assume that reciting the sutras, making prostrations to the Buddha, taking refuge, or becoming ordained will necessarily allow you to obtain merits. Chinese people have plenty of good fortune; there are many examples from antiquity that we can look to in order to see how a practitioner should act. Emperor Wu of Liang certainly did many more good deeds than we have, both in terms of the offerings and almsgiving he gave and his own cultivation in Buddhism. Why, then, did Bodhidharma say that he had no merits? It was because Emperor Wu of Liang did not cultivate precept, meditation, and wisdom, and did not act as a Bodhisattva in body, speech, and mind in accordance with the Bodhisattva Path. As such, he did not create merits, without which he could not transform the karma he had produced over the course of many lifetimes as the result of the good and evil acts he had committed.

“Don’t think that praying to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas every day will enable you to transform your karma. They can only bestow blessings and reduce your hindrances, or stop them from occurring. In order to transform your karma, you must rely on yourselves. If you are unwilling to practice the Bodhisattva Path, then imploring for this and that all day will be useless. The reason I chose this chapter is that there is a lot written in it about the Madhyamaka Sastra, and a great deal on the subject of Emptiness, but these would not be very easy for you to experience directly. The most important thing is to understand the criteria of body, speech, and mind needed to practice the Bodhisattva Path—a Dharma method which enables us to cultivate merits in this lifetime.

“Last week I mentioned that a practitioner’s biggest fear is ‘arrogance,’ which includes haughtiness. For example, just about every Buddhist practitioner is liable to err in the way of having arrogances while listening and practicing; saying that others have broken the precepts or not kept them very well is a form of ‘arrogance.’ What gives you the right to criticize how well or poorly someone else has observed the precepts? Only the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and gurus are qualified to do so. You are not qualified because you are not the person who confers the percepts. When you see other people do the wrong thing, you can use that experience as a warning to learn by so that you will not make the same mistake. However, you have no right to say out loud that they have broken the precepts. As soon as you say such a thing, you have made false speech, thus breaking a precept yourself. This is because you are not qualified to transmit the precepts to others—so what makes you think you may say that they have broken them?

“It’s like when a student makes a mistake; the other students can merely report to the teacher that a certain student messed up, but those students cannot punish the offending one. The principle here is the same, so why do you approach your Buddhist practice with a completely different way of thinking? Everything has its rules. The precept that Buddhist practitioners break most easily is the one against making false speech. They say they have something when they don’t, and vice versa; especially when it comes to having arrogances while listening and practicing—this is a mistake that most people seem to have committed. Why is that? It is because everyone is arrogant. As is written in both the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows and the Amitabha Sutra, people living in this evil time of the Five Turbidities are stubborn and refuse to listen.

“I specially chose this chapter because it includes mention of all the shortcomings shared by every Buddhist practitioner. If you have not succeeded in adjusting your body, speech, and mind, then how can you cultivate the Bodhisattva Path? The idea behind Exoteric Buddhism is that you must first understand clearly all of the basic foundations and theories underlying how one should act in body, speech, and mind, and then put those into practice. Only then will you be qualified to learn Vajrayana Buddhism. Don’t think that the Dharma will be transmitted to you anytime you implore for it; if you have the wrong attitude, then it will not. Some people think the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices are very common because they are taught by every order currently operating in Taiwan. However, how many people actually succeed in mastering them?

“It is clearly written in the Dharma text that if one masters the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices to perfect completion and in accordance with the Dharma, then auspicious signs will definitely appear. If you practice them according to all of the methods taught by your guru and the Buddha, then mastering them is sure to change you. I would not claim that I have done a very good job of cultivating, but I really have changed in a way that has led me toward this virtuous path of Buddhist practice; that is for certain. Why are some people unable to transform even after they have made grand prostrations and chanted the Hundred-Syllable Mantra? It is because they have not amended their body, speech, and mind. As was mentioned previously, such people are still full of doubt, delusion, and indecisiveness.

“Some people assume that having taken refuge for three years, or because they are monastics and have listened to a lot of sutras, they are therefore qualified to practice the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices, but that is not necessarily true. If your mind is unsettled or you do not have what it takes to cultivate the Bodhisattva Path, then I will not transmit them to you. You might be able to receive transmission of such Dharmas relatively easily elsewhere, and perhaps you have heard it said in some places that because this is the age of commerce you therefore may simply make ten thousand grand prostrations instead of a hundred thousand. However, I do not really approve of such sayings, because commerce is not exclusively a product of the modern age; there were plenty of people doing business in the past, too. Thus, you cannot alter the Dharma just because various mundane phenomena might be changing.

“As Glorious Jewel disciples you must at least have taken refuge for a full three years before I will even consider transmitting the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices to you. Even then, I might suddenly stop transmitting halfway through. Some disciples report to me that they have finished chanting the Hundred-Syllable Mantra, and then ask me whether or not I will transmit the Dharma of Mandala-Offering to them. I tell them I will not. Do you think you are remarkable just because you have finished chanting the Hundred-Syllable Mantra? That I therefore should definitely transmit the Dharma to you? Think about it: Are you paying me tuition? Even if you were, it is your teacher’s prerogative to decide not to teach you.

“The reason I am going out of my way to expound this chapter of the Ratnakuta Sutra today is that everyone—including myself, in the past—has committed the error of being arrogant while listening and while practicing. Some so-called ‘Tantric old timers’ look down on Exoteric Buddhism, while some Exoteric practitioners place great value upon themselves for having read a lot of sutras and look down on Tantric practitioners because they think the latter can only chant mantras. This attitude is an example of arrogance, and it utterly skews the original intention of the Dharma transmitted by the Buddha. Before you can leave reincarnation behind, you must at least be able to alleviate the suffering you experience from birth, old age, sickness, and death. If you cannot, then how do you expect to be able to handle the ultimate matter of your own life and death?

“How does one lessen these four sorts of suffering, and even stop them from emerging? By cultivating the Bodhisattva Path. Some people, before dying, worry over who will look after their temples while they are gone. Such people are not walking the Bodhisattva Path because they still have attachments. Lay practitioners are often attached to their material wealth and property, but monastics can likewise grow attached to concern over whom their monasteries and temples will be handed to after they die. The method by which Tibetans reincarnate is quite smart; they just do it themselves without asking anyone else to take over. However, this requires mastering a special Dharma method. Many propagators of Buddhism undergo surgery or get a lot of illnesses. These people are not carrying the burden of other sentient beings’ karmic hindrances; rather, they might not have practiced in accordance with the Ratnakuta Sutra. They should have done everything according to their causal conditions.

“Who says building a temple will help you accumulate good fortune? There is no mention of this in the sutras; nor is it written that constructing a monastery is an indication that you have done a good job of cultivating. I am not certain when people started putting stock in that idea. Master Hong Yi of the Qing Dynasty practiced Vinaya, and never built any temples in his entire life. I believe Master Hong Yi was sure to have read the Ratnakuta Sutra. Many people think having their own monasteries is the greatest indication that they have achieved attainment, but in the past plenty of practitioners did not do so. Yunga Rinpoche never constructed a monastery, for example, and neither did Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche. Later in life, Drubwang Rinpoche helped others to erect one in Nepal, but he himself never built one.

“Whether or not you have a temple has to do with sentient beings’ causal conditions; it is not the result of any achievements from your cultivation. Such an achievement means that you are in total control of leaving the suffering of birth, old age, sickness, and death behind; thus, you can be free from the suffering of reincarnation. If you cannot take care of, or even reduce, your suffering from birth, old age, sickness, and dying, then how can you become liberated from life and death? When I had skin cancer, I never once prayed to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas or implored His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang to perform the Dharma for me, yet ended up not suffering from my disease. In 2007, while in retreat, I stopped breathing. Nevertheless, I did not experience the suffering of death, because I had gained a realization of Impermanence. This prevented me from suffering from dying.

“At the beginning of this year (2015) I became gravely ill, but I did not suffer. A disciple of mine who is a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine did acupuncture on me, and while this was happening I remained concerned about his daughter. This qualifies me to say that I am on the Bodhisattva Path. Many people covet the Dharma. They think that they can master any method transmitted to them, but that is not actually true. If they have not made adjustments to their body, speech, and mind, then they will not be able to cultivate any Dharma at all. I am specially expounding this chapter today because this is a mistake that most Buddhist practitioners make, whether they are monastics or laity.

“If you think you are a practitioner of Buddhism, yet you do not think about whether or not your actions of body, speech, and mind are in accordance with what is written in the sutras, then you have not actually been practicing. Don’t think that you are unique; not cultivating makes you different, because you are not the same as the good men and women spoken of by the Buddha in that you do not listen. I am now going to explain this chapter. It is very important for practitioners, but you should not assume that practicing simply involves imploring, making prostrations, and receiving blessings. If you were illiterate, had a very low IQ, or were otherwise not very quick, then I would not speak of these matters to you. In the past there have been many such true stories, in which people were not intelligent or were incapable of anything; in those situations, they are taught to only chant the sounds of a mantra. However, you are all smarter than that, so I expect you to actually listen, contemplate, and practice.

“When listening to the Dharma, you should contemplate it by yourself. This does not mean you need to lock yourself up in a retreat hut to reflect on it; rather, it means you should not ask others their opinions or dwell on the idea that the Dharma you have heard is different from what everybody else hears. Of course it is different, because every person’s karma and causal conditions are different. How can they be the same? After you have heard the Dharma, you should consider whether or not your actions of body, speech, and mind have been at variance with the Dharmas taught by the Buddha and your guru. If they have, then you must amend your ways without making any excuses. Some people think they have heard something in the past that differs from what they are hearing now. I do not know how they heard it, but what I know is what was written in the Ratnakuta Sutra and spoken by my guru.

“One who speaks at variance with what is written in the sutras or spoken by one’s guru can be considered non-Buddhist. If the Buddha taught a certain way, then anyone who says differently is mistaken. It is written in the sutras that people cultivating along the Bodhisattva Path are bound to feel ashamed. The reason for this is, as I said long ago, that until we have attained Buddhahood, we must repent and be ashamed every day, because we have not yet practiced well. Do not assume that having begun to practice the Bodhisattva Path means you are any different from those who practice Hinayana Buddhism. Why do I say that you have not yet practiced well? It is because if you had, you would be able to attain Buddhahood and benefit vast numbers of sentient beings. We are not even able to benefit ourselves yet, let alone benefit others, so we should feel ashamed and repent.

“Don’t assume that not having many thoughts today means that you have made progress; this is merely something that happens occasionally, and such an assumption will cause you to begin to be arrogant in your practice. Arrogance can also be found when you think you have chanted a lot that day. People who are haughty and arrogant will never be able to cultivate the slightest shred of compassion. Do not spend time thinking about whether you outwardly appear compassionate when inside you are not. Arrogant people think that they themselves are the most important, and that they are more remarkable, advanced, or prolific than others. How can such people possibly break free of the four forms? If you are unable to do this, then you will never be able to cultivate kindness, compassion, joy, and giving. Where would the compassion be then? Compassion is the foundation of all Buddhism, and it is not urging others to chant the Buddha’s name, performing prostrations to the Buddha, making offerings, doing volunteer work, or performing a Seven-Day Retreat or an Eight Precepts Retreat. They are simply ways of helping sentient beings to form a connection with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

“For sentient beings to learn how to cultivate compassion, they absolutely must begin with practicing the Bodhisattva Path. Compassion is not taught in the paths of Sravaka and Pratyakabuddha; it is only emphasized in the Bodhisattva Path. If you have no compassion, then whatever Dharmas you learn, the energy will not emerge. When I was performing the Dharma at Drikung Thil Monastery, the yidam immediately appeared for you to see so that you would understand, without a doubt, that that was what it meant to practice in accordance with the Dharma. Actually, the many auspicious signs you saw in those photographs were the methods of visualization taught in the Dharma texts. A lot of people think that visualization is simply a form of thought, but that is not true. It is meditation; it is a method of accumulating good fortune and unlocking wisdom. This is the only way that a yidam will become attuned to the practitioner.

“Visualization does not mean to think up something yourself; you must practice it one step at a time, in accordance with what is written in the Dharma text or what was transmitted to you orally by your guru. You definitely cannot cut any corners, nor can you add to or subtract from the content. The reason Tantra involves a simultaneous cultivation of wisdom and good fortune is that it is done through the visualization of the generation and completion stages. However, an arrogant practitioner will believe himself or herself to be a Bodhisattva. Our physical bodies certainly cannot achieve the state of a Bodhisattva; only a Dharmakaya can do that. The flesh-and-blood bodies you all received at birth are the cumulative result of karma accrued over the course of many lifetimes. Only if you were to succeed in cultivating Emptiness in this lifetime could your flesh-and-blood body turn into the Nirmanakaya of a Bodhisattva. Without attaining Emptiness (which in Tantra is called the ‘Rainbow Body’), your physical body cannot possibly transform into the body of a Bodhisattva.

“Many people think visualizing means seeing one’s own body as being one and the same as that of a Bodhisattva, but that is false. Rather, it involves revealing one’s original essence, or Dharma nature. Arrogant individuals are unable to visualize. For example, the disciple who shared his story before the puja began said that he had been unable to visualize my appearance; this was because he was still arrogant. If he was not, then he would quite easily have been able to immediately enter a meditative state. Even when arrogant people cultivate meditation, the best they can go is to the Asura Realm. There are actually a great number of monastics in that realm, because monastics are at high risk of succumbing to arrogance compared to lay practitioners. The latter, however, are liable to suffer from numerous afflictions, so each has its pros and cons. Every Dharma method is good for all types of people.

“The reason I especially expounded the contents of this section is that I wanted to examine whether or not I had amended myself based on what is written in the sutra. Disciples who have taken refuge for a long time should be able to recognize these sections of the Ratnakuta Sutra, for I have spoken about them all before. In the past I had not yet read this sutra, so why was I able to teach them? It is because back when I first started learning Tantra, I wished to expand my collection of material to draw from while speaking the Dharma; this is why I respectfully read it. Furthermore, the Ratnakuta Sutra was the foundation of all of Lord Jigten Sumgön’s works, so every time I read it, it just happens to be in a location in which you need to listen and put its lessons to practice.

“As I reverently read the Ratnakuta Sutra, I did not check the other sutras for proof of its meaning; rather, I expounded these texts in accordance with the words and meanings spoken by the Buddha as well as from some of my own experiences in cultivation. I found that if one does not change one’s behavior of body, speech, and mind in accordance with the Ratnakuta Sutra, then one cannot set foot upon the Bodhisattva Path, and thus will forever remain an outsider. Why am I so strict with my disciples here at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center? You have not mastered a single bit of what is taught in this sutra. If you wish to transform from an ordinary person into one who has begun to practice the Bodhisattva Path, then you must first break away from all evil and stop creating any causes or conditions that aren’t good.

“A couple of disciples, while in Tibet, did not know how to be courteous enough to let an elderly person board the bus before them, so I berated them severely. Why was that? Even Confucius taught us to honor the elderly as we would our own parents, which is actually a lesson in cause and effect for us to learn from. If you can respect the elderly now, then in your own golden years people will respect you in turn. If you do not revere the elderly and cherish the young, then no one will be good to you when you yourself are older. I was taught from an early age to respect my elders, but these days such Confucian views seem to have all but vanished here in Taiwan. Everyone thinks young people are the only ones with any prospects, but that way of thinking is unacceptable. In the sutras, too, there is mention that one should not become arrogant by regarding oneself as being young or healthy. It is not that I am being especially demanding or strict with you; this is written in the sutras.

“Those disciples allowed their own discomfort to cause them to neglect the elderly because they were arrogant; they felt that only they were important and needed to be protected from anything bad happening to them. This is an indication that they cannot understand the fact that other sentient beings suffer. That being the case, how can they help sentient beings to resolve their suffering? If they feel they are more important than other sentient beings, then what business do they have practicing Buddhism? How can they cultivate the Bodhisattva Path? People like that—who constantly think they are not at fault, blame everything on other people’s misunderstandings, or say that they are just victims being framed by other people—are not qualified to practice the Bodhisattva Path, and they will not be able to remain at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center for very long. After hearing the rest of what I have to say, you will know this to be true.

“A certain trend in the way people think has been pervading society these days: The attitude that “everything that goes wrong is someone else’s fault.” So many people believe that whenever something bad happens, it is the result of a misunderstanding or another person’s problem, and that they themselves are blameless. How can such self-centered people give alms and make offerings? They cannot, because they are unwilling to let go of their wealth. After listening to me expound the Ratnakuta Sutra over the past few weeks, if you still refuse to change, then time is running out. I am not saying you will die soon, but you might have to leave the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center before long. After I finish talking about this ninth chapter, some people will probably leave. You should not make life difficult for yourselves; don’t assume that no one but yourself is aware that you have or have not changed. Dharma Protector Achi is quite astute, so even if I might not notice that you haven’t changed, she certainly will. That’s because you all like to perform the Ritual of Protector Achi. However, you should not labor under the misapprehension that practicing her ritual will cause her to take notice of you; I am the one who has transmitted it. It is written very clearly in Achi’s Dharma text that if you wish to practice Buddhism and break away from reincarnation, then Achi will come to help you; if you do not, then she will stay away. Do not assume that reciting the Ritual of Protector Achi every day will cause her to appear, because she won’t—unless you implement everything that is written in the Dharma text.

“A certain stanza spoken by the Buddha in the Ratnakuta Sutra explains what I just said: ‘Virtuous acts of the Buddhas, Pratyekabuddhas, and so on increase Their level of attainment. A wise person, therefore, practices through such acts by reflecting on his or her subtle thoughts and conduct. The great title of “Bodhisattva” is so named because of the practitioner’s fearless cultivation in “attainment through practicing,” which is how bodhicitta can be attained. This was spoken by the Buddhas.’ This is true of anyone wishing to increase his or her level of attainment, including the Buddhas, Pratyekabuddhas, et cetera. The word ‘wise’ here does not refer to worldly intelligence. Instead it means that if you wish to achieve attainment, then you must not think about how to live in comfort; rather, you should hope that you can help countless sentient beings. You absolutely have to practice this teaching without bargaining or cutting corners.

“The word ‘subtle’ suggests that it is very difficult for us to sense the changes in our minds and thoughts, because every day our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind are outwardly focused, so we never settle down enough to contemplate whether or not all our behavior has violated the Dharma taught by the Buddha. No one thinks about this; rather, you all look for excuses so that you can claim that you are not at fault, that it doesn’t matter, or that it is of little importance. The word ‘subtle’ is used in the sutra, however, because minor issues can become major ones. If you cannot even restrain yourselves from committing a minor transgression, then how will you act when something major happens? In Buddhism we do not begin with big things, nor do we begin with small; rather, through constant accumulation, we immerse our minds with the Dharma. Bit by bit we learn; not all at once. We do not assume we can attain enlightenment after having practiced for a mere three or five years, or even after having cultivated for twenty years as a monastic. It is not thus written in the sutras, so we must practice in sequential order, one step at a time.

“None of you has what it takes to experience instant enlightenment. You must do things in their proper order, step by step, without growing lax or thinking you are too busy to practice every day. How busy are you? Do you have more on your plate than I do? I can do it, so if you cannot, it means you do not believe in cause and effect; you only believe in feeling good. A few words uttered suddenly turn into antagonistic rumors being passed around, and you even say you did not say anything—that someone else said it—or that someone misunderstood you. Don’t you get tired? If you have so much time on your hands, why not take a moment to contemplate whether or not your actions of body, speech, and mind are consistent with the Dharma spoken by your guru? You have wasted so much time!

“The time we have in this life is limited; it is over in the blink of an eye. Right now it is already October, or the ninth month by the lunar calendar; very soon another year will have passed. How many years will you spend muddling through this world? For monastics especially, having decided to spend this lifetime in ordainment, this chance is something to be grasped tightly, as there is no telling when another opportunity to be a monastic might come. Don’t think that just because you have been ordained in this lifetime it necessarily means you will get to be a monastic in the next; even I mysteriously became a lay practitioner in this lifetime after having spent the previous one as a monastic. However, there are advantages to being a lay practitioner, too, such as being able to say a lot of things that ordained practitioners cannot say.

“Yesterday a couple of believers, husband and wife, came to seek an audience with me. The previous week the wife had come on her own, and I had asked her, ‘Why is your husband not with you?’ She had said that as a performer he was very busy. I said that I am a performer, too. If I were a monastic, could I have said that? I am able to make such a statement because ascending the throne to speak the Dharma is a sort of performance, too; as such, I am a performer. Consequently, a week later her husband came, and I helped him. The reason I had wanted him to come was not that I wished to see him; rather, I wanted him to give rise to respect. By giving respect as his offering, he could then accumulate good fortune.

“If you have any doubts about Buddhism, then you will not be able to make any offerings. Some people who have fallen ill hope that after seeing me they will immediately get better, but what in the world is ever that easy? You have eaten so many sentient beings, and some of them do not want to be liberated right away. Did you think they would have their consciousness transferred all at once? Not necessarily; some harbor a deep-seated resentment—so deep that it cannot be resolved in one go—so they hang on. Don’t assume that Buddhism is some magic pill you can take to cure all your woes; the Dharma helps you according to your karma and level of determination. If you have not made a firm resolve to practice, and still have any doubts, then the effectiveness of your cultivation will immediately be reduced by half, because you yourself are blocking the Buddha from coming to you.

“‘The great title of “Bodhisattva”’ does not mean this appellation is relatively resounding, nor does it mean Bodhisattvas are bigger or have better names than ordinary people. Rather, it means that obtaining the title ‘Bodhisattva’ is no easy feat; one must begin to amend one’s behavior of body, speech, and mind in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings before one can be qualified to be called a ‘Bodhisattva.’ Furthermore, getting three burn marks and receiving transmission of the Bodhisattva Precepts does not make you a Bodhisattva. Many people call others by the names ‘lay Bodhisattva’ or ‘ordained Bodhisattva,’ but those are just catchwords which, contrary to their intentions, can cause sentient beings to grow arrogant. If those people have not genuinely practiced, then how can they be Bodhisattvas? Doesn’t calling them by that name do harm to believers? Some people out there will say, ‘Bodhisattva, you are back! Wow, you are so great! You have made such a grand aspiration to be a major donor!’ What aspirations have they made? The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have not used their money. Others even say, ‘This puja was only made possible because you were a major donor!’ I have heard people say this sort of thing a lot.

“However, when the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center holds pujas, there are no ‘main donors’—so where does support for such pujas come from? This depends on the guru’s resolve. If a guru is determined to help sentient beings, then the puja will naturally possess the causal condition to take place. Since 1997, the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center has never needed to find major benefactors or main donors to support the holding of a puja. How do these pujas come together? These are matters of sentient beings, so let them work side by side to make the pujas happen. The reason the guru, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Dharma protectors make such things happen is, according to what is written in the sutra, that if a practitioner practices according to the Dharma, They will come and help. You don’t need to rack your brains; the attendees will always mysteriously appear. The Grand Pujas haven’t been held for two years. If I were to resume them, no place would be big enough to hold everyone.

“The words ‘fearless cultivation in “attainment through practicing,”’ echo those of the previous line, ‘the great title of “Bodhisattva” is so named.’ To become a Bodhisattva, one must be completely fearless in everything one does. This means not being afraid that your actions might bring you harm or cause others to change their opinions of you; you should not dwell on these things. Just think about the law of cause and effect, and of whether you are compassionate enough to benefit sentient beings; only then will you be worthy of the title ‘Bodhisattva.’ If you worry or are afraid of this and that, then you might as well not practice Bodhisattva Path; instead, you probably should go for the practices of Sravaka and Pratyekabudda – and just meditate every day. Even with that, however, there is no guarantee that you will succeed.

“‘…Which is how bodhicitta can be attained. This was spoken by the Buddhas.’ This means that to develop bodhicitta, you first must complete the above acts, and that all the Buddhas said the same thing. In other words, this was not just spoken by Shakyamuni Buddha; any Buddha would teach the same thing. To put it more simply, there is no other Buddha Dharma, and no one has attained enlightenment in a different manner than Shakyamuni Buddha. Anyone that cultivates differently from Shakyamuni Buddha is not a Buddha. Here the words, ‘This was spoken by the Buddhas,’ mean that any Buddha would say and bestow the same teachings, without exception. Some people have very high opinions of themselves, so high that they even criticize Shakyamuni Buddha. Such people might as well forget it and stop believing in the Buddha altogether.

“We are currently living in the Dharma era of Shakyamuni Buddha; no other Buddha will appear. If you think Shakyamuni Buddha spoke incorrectly, then you are a heretic with wicked views. There are people these days who speak that way about Buddhism; they criticize the Dharma expounded by Shakyamuni Buddha as being inaccurate—but this simply means that such people have not truly practiced. If they had, then they would have taken another look in the sutras and discovered what the Buddha originally taught. I am brave enough to explain the contents of the Ratnakuta Sutra because I feel that I have listened and implemented the Dharma in my practice; this is the only reason I am somewhat competent to talk to you about this sutra. Otherwise, I would not dare. The contents of this sutra are all about the processes undergone by a practitioner; they are conclusions drawn from experiences in cultivation. If I myself had not experienced such things, then how could I explain to you what the contents of the sutra mean?

“Taking the line, ‘The great title of “Bodhisattva” is so named because of the practitioner’s fearless cultivation in “attainment through practicing,”’ as an example, some people might divide it into two lines and explain them separately. Actually, they comprise a single line; it means that to become a Bodhisattva and be so named, none of your actions of body, speech, and mind can be for your own sake. That being the case, what is there to be afraid of? Thus, as is written in the Ratnakuta Sutra, Bodhisattvas are completely fearless wherever They go. That does not mean They have a lot of guts; it means They do not worry about being harmed. Even if They were to be harmed, Bodhisattvas understand very clearly that such an occurrence would be the result of cause and effect. How can you be on the Bodhisattva Path without accepting cause and effect, as well as all the karmic retribution that is your due? If you accept it, then what else is there to be afraid of?

“The reason I am able to preside over Grand Pujas with more than twenty thousand attendees is that I have nothing to fear. I never get stage fright. Some people would get shaky knees up here, because with an audience that big, you are being watched by more than twenty thousand pairs of eyes. I am a Rinpoche of Han ethnicity, so during the Grand Pujas a lot of monastics from other Orders, while sitting next to the mandala, would pay especially close attention to see whether or not I had made any mistakes. It seems I haven’t messed up yet, because they always remained in attendance from start to finish; if I had made any mistakes, they likely would have gotten up and left.

“The reason I have been able to do this is not the result of special treatment given to me by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, the Buddhas, or the Bodhisattvas. Rather, the good root of my past lives, combined with my having practiced Buddhism in accordance with the Dharma in this lifetime, has naturally caused the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to bestow Their blessings and protection—so even if I were to make a mistake, They would allow me to know where I had gone wrong and to make adjustments accordingly. I was not authenticated as a tulku at an early age, so there are a great deal of rituals I did not learn growing up. I am only able to perform them this smoothly now thanks to blessings bestowed by Protector Achi, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas. As a matter of fact, I perform the Dharma from the state of Samadhi, so of course it goes smoothly; furthermore, since I expect nothing in return, thereby, I fear nothing. Regardless of whether people say I have conducted correctly or not, I conduct rituals according to what is written in the Dharma texts, because I believe in the truth within. You, on the other hand, only believe in yourselves, and that you can cultivate all by yourselves—but without your guru’s blessings, you never can.

“It is written in the sutra, ‘Good man, what is the “attainment through the essence of everything” of Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas? Good man, it refers to the fact that by nature, Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas have fewer desires, little anger, and less ignorance.’ The word ‘nature’ here means innate essence. Many people think that if their original nature is good, they can become enlightened; however, the ‘good’ mentioned by the Buddha did not refer to attaining Buddhahood. Rather, it means that conducting oneself in this manner can qualify one to succeed in walking the Bodhisattva Path to ultimately become a Bodhisattva, and that if those standards are not met, one will fail. ‘By nature, Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas have fewer desires, little anger, and less ignorance.’ This line indicates that Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas have very few desires, but They still do have some. The desires spoken of here are to benefit sentient beings and to be diligent in cultivation; as for other affairs, Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas have very few desires indeed: They are simply satisfied with having a place to live and a full stomach, and always adapt to each rising condition. Adapting to each rising condition does not mean you should quit work or school and do nothing; rather, you should do your best at whatever you are doing right now. Whether or not other people can accept the fruits of your labor depends on their own causal conditions, too.

“If even Shakyamuni Buddha gets criticized, then what makes you think no one will criticize you? After attaining Buddhahood, even Shakyamuni Buddha had to go through the Nine Distresses. That being the case, the Buddha should not have wanted to liberate any sentient beings, let alone venture everywhere to do so. The Buddha was surrounded and protected by 1,200 disciples. In spite of that, people threw rocks at the Buddha. Because He was the Buddha, however, heavenly deities stood in the way to block their trajectory. Even so, a rock hit the Buddha’s foot and drew a bit of blood. The Buddha surely knew beforehand that this would happen, so why did He still go there? It was because this was the Buddha’s own karmic retribution; once He had accepted it, it was past. If the Buddha had refused to accept this fate, and had tried to escape by running away, in the end the Buddha would still have been hit anyway.

“Once you become a person with fewer desires and less hatred and ignorance (to not believe in cause and effect), only then will you be qualified to set foot upon the Bodhisattva Path. The Buddha’s words here are very apropos; He did not say that people cultivating the Bodhisattva Path are completely devoid of desire, hatred, and ignorance. This is because they are still in a state of practice. What sets them apart from you, however, is that people walking the Bodhisattva Path are continuously amending their ways and making progress. The Buddha did not say that people cultivating the Bodhisattva Path are not allowed to think about this or want that; otherwise, the Buddha would not have said they ‘have fewer desires, little anger, and less ignorance.’

“Who says Bodhisattvas always have to appear amiable? They can appear wrathful, too, and some use angry appearances to help sentient beings. The Avatamsaka Sutra contains mention of ‘Sudhana’s Fifty-Three Visits to Virtuous Mentors.’ Some Bodhisattvas use desires, hatred, and ignorance to practice, but this is something you would not be able to do, so whatever you do, don’t try to learn that. Only people who have realized Emptiness can use such Dharma methods in their cultivation. Furthermore, one absolutely must receive oral transmission of those Dharmas from a guru and be taught their essence. Do not assume that you can simply go and practice anything you see written in the sutras.

“As for the reference here to having ‘fewer desires, little hatred, and less ignorance,’ do not assume that appreciating your good fortune is all you ever have to do; there are still daily matters you must attend to such as sleeping, wearing clothes, and buying the things you need. Don’t think you don’t need to spend any money; if everyone stopped spending money, what state would that leave the world in? If everyone’s money went to the temples and monasteries, would that be an ‘appreciation of good fortune?’ In ancient China there was once a movement to stamp out Buddhism, and this sort of thinking was its impetus. When the Buddha said that we should ‘appreciate our good fortune,’ He meant that we should cherish any opportunity we get to learn Buddhism, and not waste it or allow it to pass us by. Good fortune of the human world does not last forever – it will disappear even if it is cherished; if it is unused, then it will drain away in this lifetime. However, many people misunderstand this expression. Everything we possess in this lifetime came to us as a result of our cultivation in our past lives. If we do not use it before we die, it will disappear—that is, unless we cultivate further in this lifetime, in which case we will have it to use again in the next lifetime. If you have food to eat, clothing to wear, and family members surrounding you in this lifetime, they are all the result of good fortune you have accumulated from your past lives up until now.

“Many people would say that while practicing Buddhism one must appreciate one’s good fortune by being frugal and not wasting money. Of course you should not waste money, but the Buddha did not teach us to abandon all our worldly possessions. If humans all did this, then how would they live? Right now humanity has a population of 6.1 billion, and everyone needs to eat. If everyone, thinking they should appreciate their good fortune, were to take one less bite of food to save a bit of money with which to give to charity and make offerings, that would be great, but that’s not what the Buddha said. According to Exoteric Buddhism, one quarter of one’s income should be used to give alms and make offerings. In Tantra, one fifth of your income should be offered to the guru, one fifth to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and you keep the rest to use how you want. You must not misunderstand Buddhism; it is different from other religions. Some religions require their believers to donate a certain amount of money over the course of their lifetimes, but the Buddha said nothing of the sort. You are the ones to decide whether or not to make offerings.

“You should contemplate what having ‘fewer desires, little hatred, and less ignorance’ means. If you used to feel a great urge to buy something, like you couldn’t do without it, but now you feel you could do without it, then your desire has lessened. If you used to lose your temper whenever someone said a few words to you—or even if you didn’t get mad, but gave that person a heap of excuses—then it means you had hateful thoughts. If you always defend yourself against anything someone says to you, then you most certainly have hatred in your heart. People without hatred would react differently; when someone says something, they don’t worry overly much about it, and instead view it as a good thing, for the other person is helping them to repay their debt. Last year I was slandered by someone, but I instructed my disciples not to react in any way. If more than a thousand disciples were to have attacked that person, it perhaps would have been quite satisfying on some level, but I told them they were not allowed to do a thing. The reason for this was that I had ‘little hatred.’ It was a manifestation of my acts over the course of many lifetimes; when I encountered it, I dealt with it..I vowed that when I someday attain Buddhahood, I will first liberate that slanderous person, because he helped me master the Dharma method of forbearance.

“There are some disciples who like to explain that they didn’t say certain words, which is an indication that they harbor severe hatred. I use my own life experiences as examples for you all to see, but you refuse to learn from them. You think I have only been able to do so because I am a Rinpoche, but I wasn’t always one; nor am I a reincarnated Rinpoche. I achieved these attainments in this lifetime through true practice and diligent cultivation. Why did I become a Rinpoche in this lifetime? I believe it might have been because, for some unknown reason, I read the Ratnakuta Sutra in my past lives. For this reason, I have acted in complete accordance with its teachings in this one.

“To have ‘less ignorance’ requires believing in cause and effect. However, because we are not Buddhas, and have not attained the level of Bodhisattva-Mahasattvas, we overlook various minor causes. Still, we must maintain a deep belief in cause and effect. The reason I am constantly picking on my disciples for their bad habits is that they all have parts of their behavior that they have neglected or not noticed. Thus, as your guru, I must help my disciples to amend their ways. Do not assume that tiny causes or minor transgressions are unimportant; everything is important.

“It is written very clearly in the sutra that you are not expected to completely lack desires, hatred, and ignorance, but that you should have a reduced amount. This will be possible as long as you keep comparing yourself to yourself. What I mean is, for example, if something happened to you yesterday and today, and if it did not make you feel unhappy, that means you now have less hatred. If you really wanted something yesterday, but today you feel that you could either have it or do without it, then your desires have lessened. You should reflect upon yourself, not ask the people next to you whether or not you have improved or begun to look a bit statelier. In Buddhism, we do not cultivate outward appearance; we cultivate our inner mind. Once you have done this, people will see a change in you from the outside. It is unnecessary to ask others their opinions, for you will notice yourself changing.

“Let me be clear: Your goal is to lessen your desire, hatred, and ignorance. The Buddha did not say that practitioners walking the Bodhisattva Path must be completely devoid of those afflictions, but we must reduce them. Don’t be a constant moneygrubber like so many other people. Someone once introduced me to a business opportunity, but I did not do it because the other party’s government wanted to make a commission; had I made the deal, this would have been tantamount to encouraging others to be greedy. While doing business, if you provide others with opportunities to break the law, engage in corruption, and so on, then you have helped them to plant causes that will send them to hell. Some would say, ‘Well, the other party might just find other people with whom to conduct their business,’ but that would have nothing to do with me. At least I would not be forming an evil connection with that person. This is an example of the effect of reduced desires. Of those who have not cultivated along the Bodhisattva Path, who would not want that sort of business? In Taiwan, it is not against the law to give foreign governments commissions; what’s more, commissions have always been a part of conducting trade. Nevertheless, I refuse to conduct business in this manner, no matter how poor I might become. This is because I believe in cause and effect and have reduced my desires.

“Buddhism, and especially cultivation of the Bodhisattva Path, can protect us. This is because people who practice to reduce their desires, hatred, and ignorance naturally experience a reduction of the negative consequences of cause and effect, and will stop planting evil seeds in this lifetime. Even when they do commit an evil act, they will have been on guard against such behavior, so they will repent and amend their ways. Thus, learning Buddhism is not what you might imagine—merely closing the door to chant and meditate every day.

“The sutra text continues: ‘…not stingy, nor holding back, in giving assistance; careless in neither words nor deeds.’ Besides its obvious application in the context of giving to charity and making offerings, the word ‘stingy’ also includes situations in which you have the capability to help others, as well as suitable causal conditions to do so, yet you refuse to. Suitable causal conditions mean that if your assistance will not cause others to think badly, then you can give them your help. Some people feel too awkward or embarrassed to even utter a few helpful words; this is an example of being ‘stingy.’ They are afraid of looking bad or of being rejected. As for a standard by which you may measure your coyness, if an action is not in violation of the precepts you vowed to keep when you took refuge, then you may go ahead and do it. Another way is to watch how your guru acts, and then act accordingly.

“I forbade a certain disciple from entering the Buddhist Center, and to this day he still is not allowed to come here. This happened because one time, while viewing renovations that had recently been made to the Buddhist Center, and not knowing how sharp my eyes and ears are, he had pointed at the door paneling and told a disciple standing next to him that it had not been done well and so on. He thought that he could get away with saying that, so I banished him. The Buddhist Center belongs to us all, so he could have reported his opinion through official channels and that would not have stirred up trouble; however, afraid of offending others, he did not. Instead, he just wanted to show off how knowledgeable he was. For this reason, I have not allowed him to enter the building ever since. If this were someplace else, people might not have cared.

“In the line, ‘not stingy, nor holding back, in giving assistance’ in the Ratnakuta Sutra, the concepts of being ‘stingy’ and ‘holding back’ are not the same. The latter means you clearly are in possession of something, but will not donate it; first you set aside what you believe is your rightful portion, and only then do you give the rest away. I often tell you all that while making offerings and giving to charity are good deeds, you must not ask or watch others to see how they do these. Only the first thought that pops into your head when thinking about how you yourself will do them is important; as for how much you will give, that is not so crucial. Some people’s minds are filled with worry over whether or not people will think the amount they plan on giving will be too little, or they grow concerned that such a large offering might leave their coffers penniless. If you think this way, then you might as well just not make any offerings or give any alms.

“The Buddha’s reason for teaching this is that to cultivate the Bodhisattva Path, one must practice almsgiving. How do you train yourself to give? It doesn’t necessarily have to be monetary or assisting others, or making it obvious to people that you are helping them. Rather, we can do a lot of helpful deeds for people without them knowing. This is what is meant by the expression, ‘casting bread upon the waters.’ The Chinese phrase, ‘undisclosed virtue,’ means that even if one does good deeds in silence, one is sure to obtain good fortune. If you make a whole lot of noise to advertise the fact that you are doing good deeds, like people who like to grab the title of ‘major benefactor’ or ‘main donor,’ then your alms and offerings might not be very useful. If a Buddhist temple needs money, then it is enough to help out quietly; do you absolutely have to sit up in the front row? Will the Bodhisattvas really be able to see you more clearly up there? Not necessarily; the Bodhisattvas exist in the void, so sitting that close might actually cause them to overlook you.

“The words ‘careless in neither words nor deeds’ do not refer to being crude or vulgar; they mean that we should not be unconscientious or have a casual attitude in everything we say or do. We must examine the matter at hand very closely and decide whether our deeds or words will harm any sentient beings before we do or utter them. Do not think that speaking a few words out of desire is no big deal, and that you can simply apologize later; this is not a very good way of behaving. As soon as you say something out loud, the force of their karma has entered the void. Don’t assume that saying you are sorry for saying the wrong thing will do you any good, because it will not. As soon as you have a thought, it has already gone into the void with its energy. A program I saw on the Science Channel once mentioned that the energy produced by even a single drop of water will transmit a signal that can be received throughout the entire universe. Given that fact, don’t you think that the energy produced by your words will permeate the void? Can you deny its presence? When you do an action, can you refute the existence of its energy?

“You all saw auspicious signs at Drikung Thil Monastery. Actually, I did nothing but chant and think to myself. Why did so many signs appear? They showed that as long as we gather all our pure thoughts and intentions, then these will in turn generate energy. As such, if you speak about someone in a very venomous, retaliatory manner, then the energy created by your words will definitely come into existence. As long as you keep on producing more and more negative energy, you are bound to turn into a very negative, unfortunate person. You might feel a lot better after you have vented your anger by giving someone a piece of your mind, but once those words escape your mouth, their effects will remain in the void.

“You must not think that practitioners are the only ones who need to follow the lessons taught by the Buddha. As long as you are human, you need to put them into practice. Our every decision to act, of body, speech, and mind, must not be made carelessly. His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang once said publicly that I am very conscientious; this is because I have cultivated the Dharma method of being ‘careless in neither words nor deeds.’ You should always think before acting, no matter what you are doing. Your thoughts should not be for your own sake, but for others; for sentient beings. If you have trained in this method for a very long time, then will you be surrounded by villains and enemies? Of course not; nor will people gossip about you, unless that is your karmic retribution from your past lives. Why would others bad-mouth you? It would be a result of your having been quite careless in your words and deeds. If you spend all day talking about other people’s business, then you will naturally think that others are discussing you; at the slightest sense of trouble, you will assume they have you in their sights. If you are in the habit of talking about others, then you will grow accustomed to wanting to do so; as a result, you will become very sensitive. Even when something very obviously was not said about you, you will nevertheless think it was. This will cause you endless vexation.

“The reason so much conflict tends to occur between mothers-in-law and daughters-in-law is that they are often careless in their words and deeds. As a daughter-in-law, you might think if you cook a meal for your husband’s mother, she should praise you for showing filial piety—but how do you know she likes your cooking? Have you paid very close attention to her? Thus, practitioners who think and act so carelessly cannot achieve attainment, and they are unable to help sentient beings either. Don’t assume yourself to be very diligent just because you meditate every day; you are still acting for your own benefit, so are not cultivating the Bodhisattva Path. You should not think that chanting the Great Compassion Mantra many times in dedications to sentient beings will allow you to be cured of your illnesses; this is yet another example of being careless, because your deeds are still being done for selfish reasons. As I’ve said before, even when I had skin cancer, I never tried to get better by chanting mantras, performing the Dharma, or imploring for assistance from the Bodhisattvas or His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. Nevertheless, in the end I was miraculously cured.

“In the sutra it is written, ‘Do not be arrogant or abruptly violent.’ People with a high degree of arrogance are quite prone to violent outbursts in their behavior and speech, whereas those who are not so conceited are not. For example, some husbands, being CEOs, treat their wives with disdain and berate them with harsh words. This is violence! ‘You rely on my income to eat, so you have to do whatever I say!’ What’s so great about a husband who talks that way? All he’s done is brought home a few bucks. If he doesn’t even respect his wife, can he ever respect others? This sort of dynamic exists in abundance these days; it even takes place here in the Buddhist Center. Many men who are husbands have not changed their behavior—and there are many married women who have not amended their ways, either.

“One of my female disciples used to beat her husband quite severely, but now she wouldn’t dare. The upshot, however, is that nowadays a lot of very strange things have started happening to her. This is an example of how arrogance can give rise to abrupt outbursts of violence. People who suddenly turn very cruel to the point that they physically hit others are typically arrogant and haughty. You’ve seen this yourselves; some people might have practiced Buddhism for a long time, but then out of nowhere they let loose with a barrage of insults. This is caused by their arrogance; they believe they have cultivated better than others.

“As I continue to expound the Ratnakuta Sutra, the more you hear the more frightened you will get. This is because its lessons hit home, blow after blow. They do not strike your flesh, but rather go straight into your heart. Do not pretend you are practicing Buddhism, because unless you are acting in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings, you are not—and you are still just outsiders. You say that amending your behavior is really hard, but once you’ve cultivated the Bodhisattva Path, you will feel quite comfortable, even if you have to endure some hardship in the beginning. If you hope to succeed in all of your endeavors, then don’t you think you’ll have to put in some effort? Such effort will not cause you to lose a chunk of flesh, shorten your lifespan, or make you look bad, and it eventually will help you to obtain countless good effects. Only if you amend your ways like this will you stop sowing evil causes.

“If you cannot change yourself, and just keep on doing as you please and speaking as cleverly as you think you do, then whenever you offend people you will think they deserved it. Take, for example, those people who are always trolling and starting flame wars on websites these days: In the future they will probably all be in a very sorry state indeed. You should not click ‘like’ so carelessly on social media sites; if you do it too much, your fingers might develop sores. If you do not have a thorough understanding of the subject, then you should not press ‘like’ or write a negative reply; for all you know, you could be reading it out of context. You therefore should not voice your criticism along with everyone else; instead, you should focus on improving yourself. Do not spend your time resentfully pointing out the world’s flaws. If you were so good, would you have been reincarnated in this world? Don’t you think you had better reflect on how good or bad a person you actually are? When you criticize everything around you, you are criticizing yourself—because if you had good fortune, then according to the law of causal condition, cause, and effect spoken by the Buddha, how could you have been reborn in such a bad place where you had to listen to, and look at, such unpleasant things? You brought this all on yourselves.

“In this situation it is even more important that you immediately make a firm resolution to invest time and energy in practicing Buddhism; there is not a moment to spare. If you delay just a single minute, you will very easily get sucked in by that sort of negative whirlpool. This could happen the very moment you carelessly press ‘like’ on something; it could also happen as soon as you let down your guard and curse someone. Nowadays communication technology is advancing in great leaps and bounds. That leads to a higher and higher probability of people doing evil deeds. If you don’t have great capabilities or supernatural powers, then what makes you think that by sending a few SMSs or reading a few words on your instant messaging software you can know everything there is to know about something? Right now you are like ants; the lead ant says, ‘There is food over there!”—and the rest of you swarm after him blindly. In a way you are like bees, too; one bee flies back to the hive and does a dance to indicate which direction nectar can be found, and then the rest of the hive buzzes along after him.

“The more information you read, the more like an insect you become—because you are already blind, and are only looking at it from the perspective of your own emotions. You see something you like and click ‘like;’ you see something you don’t like and click ‘X.’ Human culture could soon be on its way out. In ancient times people used symbols to communicate, and now we’ve regressed to that same old tradition. In another hundred years perhaps no one will even use written language anymore; it will all be a series of symbol buttons that we press. What this also indicates is that everyone is getting lazier and lazier. The only good thing about this is that nowadays, with everyone using cell phones and computers so often, we are using a bit less paper, so not as many trees are getting cut down. But that’s the only advantage.

“It is written in the sutra, ‘adjust your mind to be soft; speak good words, gentle words.’ As beings that have not yet attained Buddhahood, Bodhisattvas still have desires, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and so on. However, if we consider ourselves to be cultivating along the Bodhisattva Path, then every minute and every second of every day we must constantly use the Dharma to adjust our minds. As soon as we have a thought, we should immediately compare it to the Dharma to see whether it is in violation of the Buddha’s teachings. If it is, then we must adjust our thinking. In addition to amending our behavior, we absolutely must have a guru to help us with that. It is written very clearly in Vajrayana Buddhism that a guru is like a zither tuner. Only your guru knows how to tune each instrument’s strings. If they are tuned too tightly, they will break; if they are tuned too loosely, they will not make a sound.

“The reason I said you need a guru’s blessings and oral transmissions is that a guru adjusts his disciples, and only after going through that adjustment will you know how to utter sound. Moreover, the sound emitted by your voice will be good and nice to listen to; people will like hearing it. The point of everything written in the Exoteric sutras is not to teach us to eliminate certain things; rather, it is to get us to begin by fine-tuning our behavior. Only once you have amended your ways in that manner will you be able to gradually, and naturally, stop negative occurrences from happening. It is written in the sutra quite clearly that you must ‘adjust your mind to be soft’ and ‘speak good words, gentle words.’ The adjustment means that everything you set out to do is for the sake of sentient beings, and you will not suffer any negative consequences in the future. I help sentient beings not with soft words, but by constantly berating them. However, after I have admonished them, their health improves and things start to go their way. This is because I am not angry when I scold them, nor am I full of hatred; rather, seeing that they genuinely are in need, I use every single means I have up my sleeve to help them.

“A certain disciple of mine, after having been willing to listen to my teachings and and make adjustments, is completely fine now. Everything he says can be accepted by society at large, and no further incidents have happened to him. Anyone else would have taught him to fight back, but I instructed him not to be that way. The words, ‘adjust your mind to be soft; speak good words, gentle words,’ mean that while practicing the Bodhisattva Path, you must adjust your mind; in other words, you should give your help equally to anyone who implores for it, and not just those who have status, position, experience with cultivation, or wealth. While you are helping people, you should not expect anything in return. Many people misunderstand the phrase, ‘speak good words,’ to mean saying what people like to hear, but that is not the case. A soft mind is one that asks for nothing; as soon as a little bit of desire for something in return creeps in, your mind will certainly harden. Thus, you become self-centered, wishing to protect yourself and wanting something in return. If your mind is soft, then you will not want anything but the opportunity to help others. As for whether or not the people I help end up returning later on to make offerings or practice Buddhism, these are not things that I hoped for, nor are they the reasons I helped those sentient beings in the first place. They were in need, so I had to respond. This is the only way to be soft-minded.

“The disciple who shared before the puja began today mentioned that I knew everything that was going on with his family. Because I am selfless, I understand the suffering of the deceased and my mind is very soft, so the deceased tell me their concerns and affairs. If I wished to obtain merits from helping the deceased, they would not tell me anything. This is the source of supernatural powers; they do not come from meditation.

“If one could obtain supernatural powers just by meditating, then other religions would employ meditation, too. Only if your mind is soft will sentient beings allow you to help them—and this includes transferring their consciousness. If your mind is not soft, and you are performing the Dharma of transferring consciousness in order to accumulate merits and good fortune, then the deceased will not accept your help. They will only let you assist them if your mind is soft. To ‘speak good words’ does not mean saying what people like to hear, just as ‘gentle words’ does not mean to whisper softly. I have always spoken in this direct manner, ever since I was born; if someone asked me to change my tone so that it was soft like a kitten, I would be unable to comply. Speaking ‘gentle words’ involves talking in a way that does not harm sentient beings. If your words, on the surface, seem to be for the benefit of someone, yet they end up harming another person, then you have not spoken with good and gentle words. A lot of people make this mistake. For example, upon suddenly finding out that your best friend’s husband is cheating, you wantonly criticize him. Your words might sound like they are for your friend’s benefit; you stand in her shoes and even tell her how she should fight back, but this will harm the other woman. A less ignorant person who believes in cause and effect will know that if your spouse cheats on you, it definitely is the result of causes, effects, and conditions from your past lives. If you keep on harming the other person, won’t you be planting more seeds of evil?

“Many people seek audience to ask me for help with matters of the heart. I always tell them not to confront their husbands’ girlfriends; instead, I teach them how to face and accept their own causes and conditions. This is what is meant by speaking ‘good words, gentle words.’ It does not mean saying you understand her suffering, or criticizing the other woman like so many people out there would and saying she should not have disrupted the family. Some say a wife whose husband is cheating on her should spray a bunch of disinfectant and perfume around the house to lessen the other woman’s scent, but that is not what the wife should do. Many people misuse the Dharma by saying that dedicating sutra recitations to the other woman can cause her to leave one’s family alone. However, this, too, is a way of doing harm, because if she is still there after you’ve recited ten or a hundred sutras, you might turn around and say the sutras are ineffective. You therefore will have slandered the Buddha, the sutras, and the Dharma.

“Often, when people seek audience with me, I do not tell them which sutras they should recite, because I know that they will not be able to do so. Take that heartbroken disciple, for example. When he came here, he thought he was on the brink of death; no sooner did he kneel down before me than he said a certain matter of the heart was plaguing him. Presently I answered, ‘You’ve come to the right place, because I’ve had my heart broken, too.’ He immediately laughed out loud, and that was why he was able to hear the advice I subsequently gave to him. Someone else might have told him, ‘Stop being so attached!’ Hearing such words, he would have thought to himself, Well, how do you propose that I do that? If I had said to him, ‘Recite more sutras!’ he might have tried it, but every day he would see the image of his lover pop into his head. As such, how could he recite them?

“Therefore, if you are incapable, you should not casually try to help sentient beings. To ‘speak good words, gentle words’ means that you do not speak for your own benefit or for the benefit of anyone in particular. If you have committed to lending someone a hand, you must help him to thoroughly resolve his problem so that it does not occur again; this is what is meant by speaking ’good words, gentle words.’ To do this without the proper skills is very difficult; you can’t simply speak in a calm, leisurely manner. Only by talking to him in such a way that he will stop creating evil causes will you have spoken good and gentle words. If you just speak with a pleasant tone of voice, but do not stop him from planting evil seeds, you have not spoken good and gentle words.

“Thus, you cannot learn the Bodhisattva Path simply by reading the sutras. How is it learned? In the past, in Tibet, to become a Rinpoche one had to master the Five Sciences, one of which was language. This did not involve knowing what to say, but rather how to speak in a logical fashion and so on. I have never studied that, but I have learned from my life experiences and the time I have spent practicing Buddhism. When I help sentient beings, I do so from within Emptiness, rather than from the belief of self- or non-self-existence; nor do I think that my status as a Rinpoche makes me all high and mighty.

“When I told that disciple that I have had my heart broken, too, he felt that I could relate to his situation. One of the Four All-Embracing Virtues practiced in the Bodhisattva Path is ‘adapting oneself to others.’ This does not mean working in the same company as someone; it means doing or having done the same sorts of things that he has, thus enabling you to empathize and arousing your sympathy. When I made that disciple realize that even I had had my heart broken before, and therefore knew from experience the suffering that involves, he was then able to listen to the rest of what I had to say to him. If I had told him to chant the Great Compassion Mantra some more, he would have wondered, How? Do I chant the Mandarin version, the Taiwanese version, the classical Chinese version, or the Sanskrit version? To make it simpler, he could just have chanted the Great Six-Syllable Mantra.

“The words toward the end of the sutra, ‘easily perceive the suffering of sentient beings and put an end to all the suffering, including one’s own,’ are very important. Even with my level of attainment it would take a week to explain this line. It means that we should commiserate with sentient beings by sharing in their suffering. Practicing the Bodhisattva Path is not a matter of leaving the world’s suffering behind to cultivate in isolation; if you do not know what it means to suffer as sentient beings do, then how can you help them? Therefore, when you look at the generations of practitioners who have come before you, you will see that they all experienced all human worldly suffering. Even His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, due to various historical factors, has had to endure a great deal of suffering ever since he was a child. When the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang and I chat together as disciple and guru, we talk about all sorts of matters of which you are unaware. Little did you know, practitioners are the same as ordinary people.

“As for me, in my life I have experienced every sort of suffering you could imagine. In the line ‘easily perceive the suffering of sentient beings and put an end to all the suffering, including one’s own,’ the word ‘easily’ does not mean easy as in simple; rather, it means that only after having experienced the suffering of all sentient beings can you more expediently put yourself in their shoes and understand, from within a state of samadhi, what their needs are. If you cannot do this, you will never know how to help them. For example, when seeing a patient, Western doctors are unable to diagnose what might be wrong without consulting their instruments; likewise, doctors of traditional Chinese medicine cannot do so without taking the patient’s pulse. Even doctors cannot prescribe medication without first knowing what the patient’s condition is, so if you are on the Bodhisattva Path but have not shared in the suffering of sentient beings, then how can you understand where it comes from? How can you know what it feels like? How can you help them resolve their suffering?

“Knowing what it means to suffer in the Six Realms due to having spent time in the Hell Realm and the Animal Realm, Shakyamuni Buddha became aware of the importance of cultivation. If one has no understanding of suffering, then how can one practice? This is the reason behind the saying, ‘it is difficult for the wealthy to learn the Way.’ People with an abundance of wealth might think that with all their money, they can buy anything they want. It is very difficult, however, to get such people to practice Buddhism, because they do not understand where suffering comes from. Even though the Buddha taught us the Four Noble Truths and the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination so that we could realize the nature of suffering. However, without experiencing suffering ourselves, we merely know the causes. This is why, when divorcees come seeking an audience with me, they always get a lot of benefit out of the meeting, because I myself have been divorced. I am also quite capable of assisting those whose children are not filially pious, because my own children used to be disobedient.

“Every practitioner has experienced suffering, so knows what worldly suffering is. The words, ‘put an end to all the suffering, including one’s own,’ mean that those who practice the Bodhisattva Path should hope to end all suffering—not just for themselves, but for other sentient beings as well. Only then can they cultivate compassion. If you only do good deeds for yourself, and leave sentient beings to continue suffering, then you are not on the Bodhisattva Path. Some people think they should first cultivate themselves. The expression ‘benefit yourself and others’ actually implies that you do both at the same time. This is quite profound and wondrous, and is very difficult to realize. As soon as you have achieved some attainment, you will know that in the moment that you help yourself, you are also helping someone else—because those who are willing to keep the precepts are benefiting themselves, and that means they are no longer harming sentient beings. This, of course, means they are benefiting others.

“The point of observing the precepts is not to make your life more comfortable or improve your level of cultivation; it is to actively benefit others. If you do not keep the precepts, you will naturally harm sentient beings. This is why Bhikkhus have their own precepts and Bhikkhunis have theirs; both are benefiting themselves while benefiting others. This is done simultaneously, not separately. For convenience’s sake, the Buddha merely said, ‘Benefit yourself and others.’ All people have desires, after all, so who among us would commit an act in which we feel there is no self-benefit? This echoes what I said earlier—that even those practicing the Bodhisattva Path are afflicted with desires. Thus, from now on, you may not criticize anyone cultivating the Bodhisattva Path for still requiring daily necessities, because they are still on that path; they have not yet attained Buddhahood. If they had, then as Mahasattvas, They would have what they needed the moment they gave rise to such a thought.

“For example, in the land of Amitabha, as soon as you think about food it will float into existence before you. It will be in a golden bowl, and this will disappear as soon as you are finished eating; you will never have to wash the dishes. Therefore, people who are afraid of doing chores at home should definitely vow to be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land. How convenient it would be to not have to wash dishes or cook, and to have food appear for you just by thinking it! This, too, is desire. However, it is not written in the Amitabha Sutra that having desires will prevent you from going to the Pure Land; if this were the case, then there would be no mention of there being such things as delicacies, singing birds, or musical trees. Shakyamuni Buddha introduced us to Amitabha Buddha because we live in the Saha World, so even if we practice the Bodhisattva Path, we cannot possibly become Mahasattvas in this lifetime. Therefore, when we go to the Pure Land, we are allowed to have certain desires, because as soon as we go there we will have attained fruition as First Ground Bodhisattvas. Although we will have desires, these will only be the most basic ones; they will not be desires that will harm sentient beings in the way of giving only to get something in return.

“Today I’ve only expounded a few lines from the sutra. The line ‘easily perceive the suffering of sentient beings and put an end to all the suffering, including one’s own’ cannot be explained literally. Because of my past cultivation, it is easier for me to realize what the Buddha’s words mean and why they were said; I can therefore encourage you all to follow them. You should not think that Buddhist practice is very difficult; it is not at all. It’s just that if you self-righteously try to practice your own way, you will of course not be able to attain enlightenment. Some people have come here asking me to transmit the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices, but the reason I have not consented to do so is that they still haven’t adjusted their attitudes; they are still arrogant in their practice, so transmitting those would actually do them harm. I do not refuse to transmit the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices to those people because they are bad; rather, if the teachings of Vajrayana were being misused, it would be damaging to their future. This is all I will say for today.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the disciples in a performance of the Dharma Protector Achi prayer and dedication rituals. Upon the perfect completion of the puja, they thanked the guru for bestowing compassionate teachings. All rising, the disciples paid reverent homage as His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne.

« Previous Puja TeachingsNext »

Updated on May 12, 2016