His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – November 15, 2015

Before the puja began, a disciple thanked His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having bestowed this opportunity for him to speak about the guru’s merits and the auspicious Dharma lineage.

As everyone knows, it is extremely difficult to obtain a PhD in Germany, and even harder to earn one from the University of Bonn. The previous week, they had all had the very good fortune of being able to listen to a pair of Dharma brothers speak, surnamed Lin and Zeng respectively, both of whom held PhDs from the University of Bonn and are professors of Tibetan studies. They had praised Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and shared their experiences, and the occasion had truly been extremely auspicious.

Today, therefore, he wished to share with everyone an account of how auspicious and rare Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Dharma lineage is.

As everyone was well aware, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang is Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s root guru. The latter has mentioned before that Yunga Rinpoche is Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s other root guru.

In 2003, for the first time, the disciple had accompanied Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to Nyingchi in Tibet to pay their respects to Yunga Rinpoche. Due to the close proximity of that area of Tibet to the Indian border, a travel permit was required to enter the region. Only the driver of their jeep had one, however; the rest of the passengers, including Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, had not obtained a travel permit. Immediately after boarding the vehicle, the guru had begun to chant a mantra. As they had neared their destination, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had told the chauffeur what to say to the border guards. The driver had followed the guru’s instructions, and in the end, the border guards had allowed their vehicle through without issue. The road on the way to visit Yunga Rinpoche had been extremely bumpy, but Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had not minded one bit.

As they had arrived at the foot of the mountain at which Yunga Rinpoche’s retreat hut was located, more than ten insects had appeared and hovered a short distance in front of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s forehead. They had led the way the entire trek up the mountain, and after the guru had entered the retreat hut, the insects had continued to fly around the middle of Yunga Rinpoche’s ceiling for hours. They had not finally dispersed until Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had again set foot outside of the retreat hut.

As soon as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had entered the retreat hut, Yunga Rinpoche, who was sitting on his bed, had very cheerfully held up a nine-pronged Phurba vajra that had been given to him as an offering by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and pointed at it continuously. That vajra had been used by Yunga Rinpoche in a past life; this connection between the two Rinpoches was extremely auspicious.

Yunga Rinpoche’s retreat hut had been very small. The elderly gentleman had sat on his bed while Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had sat on the floor beside the bed, and the sharing disciple had knelt behind Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. While transmitting the Dharma to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, Yunga Rinpoche had specially asked Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche eat (boiled noodles with salt for lunch) while listening. However, after opening up a very thick Dharma text, Yunga Rinpoche transmitted from only a few pages and then closed it. The elderly Rinpoche then said, “Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has understood it without me needing to say very much.” Yunga Rinpoche also said that by just hearing Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, sentient beings in each of the Six Realms are able to obtain liberation.

Behind the end of the bed on which Yunga Rinpoche was sitting had been a completely blank wall with nothing against it, not even any cupboards or cabinets. Still sitting on the bed, Yunga Rinpoche had suddenly turned and gotten out a statue of Shakyamuni Buddha to give to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and said that it was to be used in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s new Buddhist Center. At the time the Buddhist Center, which is now located on Minquan West Road, had not yet come into existence, and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had later said that he had not previously reported his plans of getting a new Center to Yunga Rinpoche. Apparently, the latter knew long in advance that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would be buying a new Buddhist Center. The most auspicious event had been the bestowal of that statue of Shakyamuni Buddha; it had been used for cultivation by Yunga Rinpoche’s guru while he was still alive. As the sharing disciple had watched the elderly Yunga Rinpoche turn around and produce the statue, it had seemed as though Yunga Rinpoche had simply held a rolled up newspaper in his hand; the statue was heavy, but the Rinpoche had wielded it as if it did not weigh very much. When it was handed over to him by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for safekeeping, the disciple had felt just how very heavy and solid it actually was.

Thinking his vision had been blurry or his eyes had played tricks on him, the sharing disciple could not, at the time, understand how Yunga Rinpoche had been able to turn around and suddenly produce such a heavy statue of the Buddha as if from thin air. He had therefore thought to himself that if the elderly gentleman were to get out another statue, he would be sure to watch closely. Sure enough, while still sitting on the bed, Yunga Rinpoche had abruptly turned around and produced a second Buddha statue. This one was of Padmasambhava, and had been used by Yunga Rinpoche himself while cultivating in this very lifetime. In addition to these gifts, Yunga Rinpoche also presented Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche with a black-and-white Dharma photograph of Yunga Rinpoche’s guru. After exiting the retreat hut, the disciple had asked Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, “Did Yunga Rinpoche snatch those two statues right out of the void?” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had answered, “Yes.” The disciple had inquired as to whether Yunga Rinpoche’s bestowal of the two auspicious Buddhist statues and his guru’s Dharma photo to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had been an indication that Yunga Rinpoche was passing his Dharma lineage down to him instead of to his own disciples. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had responded, “Yes.”

As everyone knew, during the time of the SARS epidemic, from November of 2002 to July of 2003, society had been in a state of complete unrest. There had been a reduction in the holding of all activities, including religious ones such as pujas. However, at variance with this trend and during the height of the epidemic, from April to July of 2003, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had held seventeen pujas, on Fridays and Sundays, to benefit sentient beings. The guru had said, “How can Buddhism abandon sentient beings right when they need it most?” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had gone ahead with this bold move, giving not a single thought to his own safety. Back then a certain high school student had gotten SARS and was on his deathbed. On his behalf, the student’s teacher had sought an audience with the guru. At the time, hospitals were places of horror that everyone avoided at all costs; nevertheless, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had visited the hospital twice to bestow blessings upon that high school student. Later, after enjoying a complete recovery, the student had gone on to do well on his university entrance exams. He had been accepted into a college of traditional Chinese medicine. There had been another case of one falling victim to SARS, this time of a physician working in a municipal hospital’s emergency room. The doctor’s younger brother had sought an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and had implored for permission to participate, on the doctor’s behalf, in the auspicious pujas presided over by the guru. After getting well, the doctor had not had any of the residual effects experienced by most people who had contracted SARS.

Furthermore, one of the Dharma texts for those Tantras performed by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche during the SARS epidemic had been personally transmitted to him by Yunga Rinpoche. This Dharma text had come to Yunga Rinpoche one day while the elderly guru was walking along the road. Suddenly, seeing an object flying at him from the sky, the Rinpoche had extended his hand and plucked it right out of the air—and the object had been the Dharma text of that Tantra. As everyone might imagine, Yunga Rinpoche’s Dharma lineage is enormously auspicious. What’s more, he had transmitted it to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, but not to his own disciples. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had once said, “His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang had wanted to meet with Yunga Rinpoche, too, but a few factors prevented His Holiness from entering Tibet to see him.”

In 2005, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had received transmission from Yunga Rinpoche of the earth terma Tantra and empowerment, as well as its Dharma text. This meant Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had become a holder of that particular Dharma. Yunga Rinpoche had also authenticated Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche as one who had attained fruition in the Simplicity Yoga of Mahamudra.

In 2006, Yunga Rinpoche had gifted Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche with a statue of Bodhisattva Manjusri and bestowed him the assurance that he would have the merits of all the Buddhas in the Ten Directions and the Three Times, and that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche posseses the ability to liberate all sentient beings in the Six Realms. Moreover, to this day, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is the only Rinpoche of Han ethnicity who has ever received Tantric empowerments from Yunga Rinpoche.

In 1995, Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche had taken the initiative to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche under his wing as his disciple, and now the latter is Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche’s sole root disciple who is also a lay practitioner of Han ethnicity. In 1999, when Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had sought an audience with him, Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche had bestowed upon Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche a bite of yoghurt that had been scooped up with a soup spoon which Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche himself had been licking for two minutes. Without a moment’s hesitation, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had immediately eaten the yoghurt. This was an indication of the purity of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s mind, as well as the deep respect he had for his guru.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “I once asked His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, ‘Are all Rinpoches tulkus?’ The Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang replied, ‘No. Some, such as Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche, achieve attainment through cultivation in this very lifetime.’” Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche is a Mahasiddha of the Order.

In 2002, the sharing disciple had accompanied Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche on a journey to pay homage to Mahasiddha Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche. The elderly gentleman had gone into retreat, and would not see anyone except for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. The retreat hut had been extremely small, and entering it had required bending at the waist and winding one’s way through a narrow passage. Inside there had only been a single window. Upon seeing Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche had been very happy, and had raised his hand to point at the crystal-lensed glasses he was wearing—which had been given to him as an offering by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Regarding this pair of glasses, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “The first time I ever met Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche, he told me that I had a pair of glasses with crystal lenses, and that I should give them to him.” The elderly Rinpoche had somehow known that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche owned that pair of glasses.

After Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had prostrated himself before Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche, the elder Rinpoche had searched through all of his pockets and all over the retreat hut—even underneath the rug—to find his money. In total, he had come up with five hundred yuan, all of which he had then given to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Moreover, Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche had insisted that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche take it, but at the same time His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang’s older brother, who was also present, had advised him to accept the gift; Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then finally did. The auspicious significance of this action lay in its indication that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had become qualified to receive offerings from humans and heavenly beings, and was therefore ready to shoulder the responsibility of propagating the lineage of the Order.

In 2004 he had accompanied Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche on a visit to Qinghai to pay homage to a Mahasiddha of the Order—the Venerable Khacho Wangmo Rinpoche, who at the time was 114 years of age. Khacho Wangmo Rinpoche had bestowed assurance upon Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche that his Dharma activities would be successful and that all his wishes would come true. During this journey through Qinghai, a white horse had been seen standing next to a stream, as well as a golden mouse the size of a rabbit that had squatted atop a cliff to welcome Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Both of these had been manifestations of the Dharma protectors, come to greet Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. As the car had wended its way along the stream, and in the midst of continuously chanting mantras to bless the nagas, the guru had suddenly pointed at a mountain and said, “There should be a holy relic there.” At the time, the disciple had not known that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was having a vision.

The car had arrived at a precious and favorable location, and not long after Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had gotten out of the vehicle, auspicious signs appeared, one after another, on both sides of the sky in the form of a pair of symmetrical red rays of light. The disciple had seen many auspicious signs while accompanying Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche on pilgrimages overseas or while participating in pujas, but this had been the first time he’d ever seen red rays of light. He was grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

In 2005, the disciple had again accompanied Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to pay their respects to the then 115-year-old Venerable Khacho Wangmo Rinpoche. As Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was making prostrations before her, auspicious snowflakes had suddenly begun to fall from the clear blue sky. While Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was in the elderly Ani’s retreat hut, a Dharma protector had manifested in the sky outside, across from the hut, in the form of a white eagle that had glided over the horizon—a sign of welcome to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. During their journey, a halo had appeared around the sun, and other auspicious signs had manifested as well—such as several Dakinis that had transformed into a kettle of vultures to welcome the great practitioner. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “A halo around the sun represents the backlight behind the Buddha, and those who witness it are blessed.” The guru was constantly keeping the disciples in mind; the line of vehicles had been quite long at the time, so Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had immediately given instructions for everyone to get out of their vehicles so that the disciples could all see the halo. The guru’s compassion for his disciples was clearly evident.

In 2004, the Rinpoches of the Order had wanted to know why Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had been able to cultivate so quickly and so well within such a short period of time. For this reason, they had performed the Dharma at a holy lake in Qinghai. This was the same holy lake at which the Dharma had been performed in order to locate the yangsi, the holy child who is a reincarnation of the Dalai Lama. During the ritual, a vertical rainbow had emerged in the sky, as well as clouds forming very auspicious shapes. Even more remarkably, the name Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had had in a past life as a terma master had appeared on a rock in the water of the lake.

Also in 2004, he had accompanied Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche on a visit to Lhomiyel Monastery in Nangqên, Qinghai. At the foot of the mountain, by the entrance to the monastery, a red cloth banner could be seen hanging on which the words, “Welcome, Terma Master Yan Rinpoche,” had been written. Only then had the disciple suddenly recalled that during their pilgrimage to pay homage to the 114-year-old Ani, Venerable Khacho Wangmo Rinpoche, earlier that year, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had suddenly pointed from the car at a mountain and said, “There should be a holy relic there.” This action had been a demonstration of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious fruition, but the disciple had been oblivious to this fact at the time. For this he repented. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had once said, “The merits produced by a hundred lamas cultivating the Dharma are the equivalent of those produced by a single Rinpoche cultivating, and the merits generated by a hundred Rinpoches cultivating are equivalent to those generated by a single Ngakpa. It would take a hundred Ngakpas, in turn, to produce as many merits as a single terma master generates.” The disciple had once asked Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, “So, if a single terma master can produce the same amount of merits that ten thousand Rinpoches can, are there actually that many Rinpoches in total across all Four Major Orders of Tibetan Buddhism?” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had answered, “There are not.” Therefore, to attain fruition as a terma master is very, very auspicious indeed.

In 2005, he had gone with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to Qinghai to participate in the Earth Terma of the Eight Major Herukas Empowerment Puja. The guru had explained, “This auspicious Dharma method was in possession by Garchen Rinpoche of the Drikung Kagyu Order, and has not been transmitted in the Order in more than a hundred years.” It would only be transmitted to a single ordained Rinpoche and a single lay Rinpoche, and that lay Rinpoche had been Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. The guru’s receiving of the empowerment during this puja had represented the fact that a lay practitioner was now in possession of the auspicious lineage of the Eight Major Herukas. At the same time, it had also signified the first time this auspicious Dharma method had ever been transmitted to anyone living in Han Chinese lands. During the ritual, such auspicious signs as earth tremors, falling hail, strong winds, and lightning and thunder had manifested. During the puja, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had also descended his seat to bless and bestow empowerment upon each monastic and lay practitioner present, one by one.

Back in 2001, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had received transmission of the Empowerment of Raktayamari, the Wrathful Emanation of Manjushri, from another Rinpoche of the Order. This was the first time that this Dharma had been transmitted to anyone from outside of the Tibetan region.

On October 29th, 2006, in an unprecedented event, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had, in the capacity of a Vajrayana Ngakpa of Tibetan Buddhism, accepted an invitation to visit the Sikh region in northern India to give a speech at MGN Public School, the most famous school in Punjab Province, and was an honored guest of its Annual Award Ceremony. The previous year’s honored guests had been the outgoing Indian prime minister and the new one. Prior to the ceremony, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had been invited on stage to review the student parade, and during the ceremony had tirelessly handed out awards to all the students and classes. At the end, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had given a speech, directly in English and with a beautiful Oxfordshire accent, instilling in the more than one thousand students and their parents present a profound speech and no one at the venue made any noise or walked around—a testament to the guru’s great, all-embracing power. Furthermore, without having been given any advance notice during the press conference held before the awards ceremony, and without any preparation, Rinpoche had walked straight into the venue and been bombarded with tough questions asked in the thick accents of the Indian reporters (including some about a beauty contest). Nevertheless, the guru had answered every single one of them calmly, eliciting great admiration from the reporters. One female media representative even read out loud a verse of poetry and praised Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for being the most precious gift the heavens had ever given them. The following day, six newspapers of the local media, in four different languages, had printed the clearly visible headline, “His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche Guides Young Students with Buddhism.”

In February of 2007, in the main city (Jalandhar) of Punjab Province in India, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had presided over the Avalokiteshvara Puja. This was the first time a Tibetan puja had been held deep inside the Sikh region. When the disciple had asked Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche whether or not anyone had ever held any pujas there before, the guru had replied, “Yes! Shakyamuni Buddha did.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had also said, “In our Order, Akong Rinpoche was extremely famous throughout Tibet in his previous lifetime, and he cultivated to the point that he could sit next to a wall and transport right through it. In this lifetime, due to various factors, Akong Rinpoche is secular, so he cultivates as a lay practitioner. He is married, and his son is a Rinpoche, too; Akong Rinpoche personally taught his son the Dharma.” The statue of Dharma Protector Achi, photograph of which Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche bestows to his disciples, was currently in Akong Rinpoche’s house. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said, “At first only the head of that statue of Dharma Protector Achi existed; it was used in cultivation by the throne holder of the Order in his previous lifetime.” Upon learning that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had money left from supporting some events of the Order, Akong Rinpoche had asked whether Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche might take the head and use it to remake a complete statue of Dharma Protector Achi. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had cheerfully agreed, and that had been the origin of the Dharma photo of Achi available today. The disciple was grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

After seeing Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, Akong Rinpoche’s mingfei (wife) had tearfully asked the disciple, “Why is he so thin? Is he unwell?” The disciple had informed her that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had recently, disregarding his own health, performed the Phowa for four deceased in one day. She had gone on to say that many of the Order’s monasteries rely on Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s support, and would not be able to survive without it. Just then, it had dawned on the disciple just how much Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had sacrificed for the good of the Order—because the guru had never mentioned all the hard work he had done; he’d simply done it, in complete silence.

A Rinpoche from one of the other Orders, greatly impressed with all the stories of how Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had helped sentient beings, had praised the guru for being able to perform the Chod for 1,500 people at a time. That Rinpoche had said to the disciple, “In the past, the Drikung Kagyu Order never used to be all that well-known in Tibet, Kham, India, and Nepal, but nowadays it has a great reputation, primarily because of two people: One of them is His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, and the other is your guru, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.” The Rinpoche had also said that the disciple was very lucky to have such a wonderful guru. The disciple felt that all of the disciples were, in fact, extremely fortunate to have taken refuge in such a great guru. Finally, he hoped that everyone would pray together for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to remain healthy, keep turning the Dharma wheel, and live long in this world; and furthermore, that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious Dharma lineage would flourish forever, benefiting countless sentient beings. He thanked Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

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

“Today I will continue expoundint the Ratnakuta Sutra. Last time we talked about the Six Paramitas, which are for cultivation of good fortune and wisdom. The first three—giving, precept observance, and forbearance—are for cultivation of good fortune, while the other three—meditation, diligence, and wisdom—are for cultivation of wisdom. While practicing Buddhism, one must cultivate both fortune and wisdom simultaneously. What is good fortune for? Some people who practice Exoteric Buddhism wonder what the point of good fortune is, given that they are already practicing the Dharma. After all, they say, getting sick is just an opportunity for us to repay the debt we owe using our bodies! This saying is true, but such good fortune is not used for our own enjoyment, to bring us good health, or to make our children more obedient; rather, it is used to practice Buddhism and benefit sentient beings. According to Exoteric Buddhism, practice is a matter of cultivating the mind and not the body. In Vajrayana Buddhism, the body and mind are both cultivated at the same time. How can we practice Buddhism without a body? Our cultivation needs a physical body for support. Some people think that being able to practice the Dharma and participate in pujas means that they have good fortune. Actually, however, it simply means that they possess the causal conditions to practice; it does not mean that they have good fortune. To accumulate good fortune, one must first be able to benefit oneself; only then can one benefit others. You have to solve your own problems before you can help anyone else. In words, which people use rather frequently, don’t you need money if you want to become people of great virtue who can help others? For example, if someone asks you to take him somewhere, you yourself need sufficient funds before you can help him; if you are completely broke, then you can’t help anyone even if you wanted to. All you can do is to say a couple of nice-sounding lines. The need to accumulate good fortune while practicing Buddhism is a similar concept; only after you’ve accumulated good fortune will you be able to help sentient beings. Yesterday a believer came seeking an audience, during which he implored me to cure him of his physical ailments so that he could return to help sentient beings in the next lifetime. As soon as I heard this, I got a headache. It is stated very clearly in Buddhism that everything we are given in this lifetime is brought over from our past lives, and whatever we obtain in the next life is the result of our actions in this one. Only the Bodhisattvas return to this world to fulfill Their vows; ordinary people can only return to this world at the mercy of their karma. If you do not attain the fruition of a Bodhisattva in this lifetime, then how can you return to fulfill your vows in the next life? If you have not even resolved your own problems, then how can you help sentient beings?

“Sentient beings all have very heavy karma in this Age of Degenerate Dharma. In His compassion, Shakyamuni Buddha introduced us to Amitabha Buddha, and Amitabha Buddha’s Pure Land is the only place to which we can carry our karma with us when we pass away. Here it refers to good karma, not bad karma. There are three types of karma: Good, bad, and neutral. Amitabha Buddha does not mind if you possess good karma, so even if you have some, you can still be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land. However, if you possess any bad karma, you cannot. For this reason we must carry out the Ten Meritorious Acts—and not the ‘Ten Evil Acts.’ People in modern times tend to make a certain mistake while reading the sutras: That is, to take their lessons out of context. Whenever they read a section they like, they think, Hey, I can accept this; I’ll be fine if I just practice like that. For example, many people labor under the misapprehension that if they keep on chanting Amitabha Buddha’s name, or continue to attend penitential rites, then they will be allowed to be reborn in the Pure Land. Or there are those who think that they can return to this world, and even to the same charity group, if they continuously tell the Bodhisattvas that they wish to return to fulfill their vows—but what will they do if that group no longer exists when they come back? It is clearly written in the sutra that we must make our dedications either to Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi or to the Pure Land. In the past I have expounded many methods that can help one to be reborn in the Pure Land; the Pure Land Dharma method is not the only way to get there. If you dedicate all of your good roots to the Pure Land, then you can go there just as well.

“Whenever I teach from the Ratnakuta Sutra, I do not read its contents beforehand; I always just open it up on the day, and teach from it directly. When I see a section that I think might be beneficial to my disciples, I begin to explain it. There is a great amount of risk in expounding the sutras. There is a story recorded in one of them of a Dharma master who ascended the Dharma throne to speak the Dharma, but because he misspoke a single word, he was doomed to spend five hundred lifetimes reincarnating as a fox. I myself have cultivated to the point that I no longer smell like a human, let alone a beast, so that sort of thing probably won’t happen to me.

“When practicing the Six Paramitas, the first three are for cultivation of good fortune. Some of you think that attending penitential rites, serving monastics, or cooking food for them are acts that count as giving alms, but those are merely assisting to create favorable conditions that can give you a chance to practice Buddhism in the future. At Buddhist centers, there are people who like to fight over opportunities to do volunteer work or be main donors, but these aren’t examples of giving alms, either. True almsgiving, as is written in the Ratnakuta Sutra, involves non-abiding, which means that you cannot be attached to it. Why should you cultivate good fortune? First you must understand where your body came from; it was formed when your father’s essence combined with your mother’s blood, and the result was your karmic body. Originally you were just a lonely ghost, wandering around; once you obtained the causal condition to be reborn, and you saw that humans or animals were having intercourse, you had perverse thoughts, and boom, you reincarnated into your mother’s womb. This is the reason we must cultivate an impartial mind while practicing Buddhism. In the later stages of Vajrayana cultivation, we do not differentiate between beauty and ugliness, because we strive not to discriminate or be attached. If you have attachments right as you obtain the causal condition to be reborn, and it just so happens that a few couples of humans or animals are mating nearby, then your feeling that such intercourse is beautiful and enjoyable will cause you to be reincarnated into the womb. You might be reborn as a pretty dog. This happens because your discriminating between what you like or dislike is a form of ignorance. Thus, beginning with your cultivation of generosity, you must learn how to renounce.

“In modern scientific terms, it was genes that caused you to reincarnate into your parents’ home. In Buddhist terms, it was karma; that is, you certainly must have contributed to the same collective karma as your parents in your past lives. Thus, our bodies comprise all of the karma produced by our father and all of his ancestors, combined with the karma of our mother and all of her ancestors, too. In addition to this is the karma we and our ancestors have produced over lifetime after lifetime. All of this has come together to create our karmic bodies. As you might imagine, with such a karmic body, it is impossible for you to completely avoid sickness and suffering; even if you were a billionaire, only one percent of your karma would be good, while the other ninety-nine percent would be bad. Now that you are in possession of this karmic body, you have no choice but to eat and breathe, yet you can’t obtain food simply by thinking about it; and once you have finished eating, you need to go out and search for many more things to satisfy your body’s needs. Why do I say that you have more bad karma than good? If you were purely good, then you would be in the Heaven Realm; you would not have been reborn as a human. Thus, you should no longer assume that you are a good person.

“Why, when practicing Buddhism, do you first need to accumulate good fortune? All of you have very shallow pools of good fortune; otherwise, you would not have been reborn as humans or possess these karmic bodies. Good karma and bad karma will both cause you to reincarnate. From a Buddhist point of view, so-called “evil” includes all behavior that would cause us to reincarnate—including that which produces good karma. You should not assume that you will have good fortune no matter what if you practice Buddhism; your ability to cultivate is a result of having possessed the causal conditions to learn the Dharma from your guru, the Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas in your past lives; in this lifetime, you are simply maintaining and continuing this affinity, that’s all. Having such a connection does not necessarily mean you possess good fortune. If you had sufficient good fortune in your past lives, then I won’t say you’d have become a throne holder or a Rinpoche, but at the very least when you come to this world in this lifetime there would be lots of people willing to listen to you speak and learn Buddhism from you. If you don’t even have these followers, then it means you have insufficient good fortune. That being the case, what sort of problems do you think will emerge when you first start practicing? Here is one simple example.

“When I first started learning Buddhism, I was the same as you. In the beginning I was very eager; every day I would meditate and recite a lot of sutras. I had practiced Taoism with my father in the past, so for me, sitting in meditation was quite easy. There is a form of meditation used in Taoism, too, but meditation in other religions is different from Buddhist meditation. I don’t mean that you sit in a different posture; I am referring to a difference in the attitude you have while meditating. After doing sitting-meditation for a couple of months, however, I suddenly discovered that I was unable to sleep at night. I knew my body was very tired, but I had a lot of energy, so I couldn’t fall asleep. Thinking about the fact that I needed to work during the daytime, it occurred to me that this insomnia could not continue, so I asked the advice of the Exoteric Dharma master I was following at the time. My Dharma master simply told me to stop meditating for a time; that’s all he said. Obediently, I took a break from my meditation practice, and afterward I had no trouble falling asleep at night. Later, when I began to learn Tantra, I went through a lot of cultivation processes before I understood that my flesh-and-blood body had actually always been a karmic body, and my karma weighed me down too much because I had not had enough good fortune. In terms that you would understand, this means that if your body does not have sufficient energy, it will not be able to bear these sorts of cultivation methods. This is why I still haven’t taught you to sit in meditation, and why I tell you to keep making offerings and giving alms. It is absolutely not because you need to spend money to practice Buddhism. Rather, it is that without sufficient good fortune, you will not be able to continue cultivating, because our karmic bodies were originally born with a very meager pool of good fortune. Take someone whose physical constitution is rather weak, for example: If you suddenly gave that person something too rich to eat, he or she might be unable to bear it, and could even die. Therefore, if we try to cultivate without a guru to supervise and guide us, and we just blindly practice using nothing more than our karmic body, then this body is sure to give out.

“Many people encounter problems while cultivating, because they have not accumulated good fortune. They do not know what good fortune is used for. Actually, it is used to resolve one’s karmic body. When the genes or cells inside us gradually transform from bad karma to good karma, and our good fortune is manifested through our cultivation, only then will our bodies have enough energy to bear the various hindrances that burden us. In Exoteric Buddhism there is a saying that the body is fake, and that it is just used to repay our karmic debt. This way of looking at it is not incorrect, but how can you continue practicing Buddhism if your body cannot endure? How can you chant mantras? How can you sit in meditation?

“While practicing Vajrayana Buddhism, it is necessary to make offerings. You are doing this every time you chant the Seven-Branch Offerings Prayer. Many people use fruit to make offerings to the Buddha, and some of them, before purchasing the fruit, first ask their husbands and children which kind they are in the mood to eat. They then go and buy the fruit their family members like to eat, and offer that to the Buddha, This is eating fruit, not making offerings to the Buddha. Habits like this come from traditional customs of worshipping ghosts and deities, but people who chant mantras cannot eat food offerings given to such beings. Why is that? It is because as soon as a ghost or deity smells it, the food’s taste changes. It is written in the sutras that people chanting mantras must not eat food that was used in an offering made to a ghost or deity. It is not that you cannot worship your ancestors; rather, you should not eat the food items you used in your prayers. Don’t think that eating such offerings will protect you, and don’t do it for fear that the food will go to waste; with so many sentient beings starving in the Animal Realm, it can be given to them. I am not saying that you cannot make offerings to your ancestors, either; this is a Chinese tradition. However, you must not implore your ancestors to protect you or make your children more obedient.

“In the sutra text it is written, ‘Such act is performed with an aspiration to attain Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi, without taking any possessions from the recipient or being attached to the act. Then the Bodhisattva is practicing generosity.’

“The first three of the Six Paramitas are giving, precept observance, and forbearance. Actually, the Six Paramitas are not divided into six different ones; they comprise an integral whole. For convenience’s sake, the Buddha taught them separately so that we would know what we should do. The Buddha did not say that one has to first practice giving and then observe the precepts and cultivate forbearance. In fact, when we keep the precepts, we are also cultivating generosity. Take the precept against killing, for example: When you refrain from taking a sentient being’s life, you are also releasing it, and therefore being generous. Similarly, when you keep the precept against theft by not taking things that belong to others, this, too, is a form of giving.

“You should not assume that cultivating the Six Paramitas will prevent bad things from happening. If that really were the case, then there would be no such thing as cause and effect. The evil acts you committed in your past lives, and the evil seeds you planted then, have now come to fruition and emerged as evil effects; furthermore, all of the causes you create right now will reemerge as karmic effects in the future. Many people would ask, ‘If that’s true, then why do we still have to practice?’ The point of Buddhist practice is to put a stop to all your evil behavior and do only good deeds. Everything happens for a reason, and we must understand how to use Buddhist concepts to handle it all. If we conceptualize it correctly, then we will not form attachments whenever an accident occurs, and we will no longer commit evil acts. Any debt we repay in this lifetime will not burden us into the next; any that follows us into the next lifetime will carry interest. Therefore, you should not fuss over being at a slight disadvantage; you should simply see it as giving. Nowadays people will even complain about shop owners to TV news media just for not giving enough black tea. This is really terrible; such behavior must not continue. If the people of Taiwan continue down this path, we will become more and more narrow-minded to the point that we will be overly quick to blame others for anything that happens. I hope that you all can tell your relatives and friends around you that there is nothing wrong being at a slight disadvantage; if you can endure it, it means you have good fortune.

“Some schools in Australia, the United Kingdom, and China have begun to require primary and middle school children to study the sutras. Catholic countries have a rule that students must go to Sunday school and attend Bible class, yet we, a Buddhist country, would not dare to put such a regulation in place. If schools were to require students to study the sutras, I have no doubt that parents and political figures would come out en force to protest. Why has Buddhism been reduced to such a sorry state of affairs? The reason is that your behavior causes people to look down on it. You are secretive; you do not have the guts to tell people you are Buddhist practitioners. Did the Buddha teach you to commit crimes? Why do you feel a need to cultivate in secret? These days there are some folk out there, parading through the streets; would you dare go and protest against them? Despite their behavior, has anyone opposed them? The answer is ‘no.’ However, they have been loud enough to disturb you all. The Buddha did not teach us to pollute the air, nor did He teach us to make a lot of noise. If it were Buddhists parading through the streets, they would immediately be reported. Why is that? It is because people look down on the behavior of many Buddhist practitioners; even though they are Buddhists, their actions of body, speech, and mind are despicable. Monastics are not the only ones who should defend the Dharma; all those who consider themselves to be practitioners of Buddhism should, too. I feel very sad and distressed at the degree to which Buddhism has been ruined. If you are only here seeking blessings and protection, then you might as well just go and join those ranks of people parading through the streets, and wander along all day to the sound of firecrackers. You’ll feel nice and carefree that way, too.

“I run several business entities. Nevertheless, whenever I have dealings with other business owners, I tell them up-front that I am a Buddhist practitioner. I would never feel afraid of letting anyone know this fact just because he or she might subscribe to a different religion or possess a large amount of power or authority. Likewise, I would never agree with anyone who subscribes to a different faith just to make him or her happy. You, on the other hand, upon encountering wealthy people who follow a non-Buddhist religion, would not dare to announce to them that you are Buddhists; some of you would even concur with such people in order to make them happy by saying, ‘Correct, your god is very compassionate, too.’ Actually, this god they speak of is still in the Ghost Realm, and its descendants have even sought audiences with me to implore for help in resolving their problems. I would especially like to remind all the monastics present that you absolutely must not carelessly voice agreement with people in order to curry favor with them, because by doing so you are creating verbal karma.

“The sutra text goes on to say, ‘Observe the precepts without falling short, omitting, or adulterating them. If a Bodhisattva has thus managed to observe abstinence, and dedicates the resulting merits to Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi without ever becoming attached to the precepts, then the Bodhisattva will succeed in cultivating them.’

“This means that when keeping the precepts, you have to do it completely, without leaving any parts out or changing them in any way. Bodhisattvas observe the precepts because they cannot bear to harm sentient beings. A Bodhisattva would never allow sentient beings to be afflicted by the Bodhisattva’s actions of body, speech, and mind. The precepts are not tools of punishment; they are rules to be observed so that one can help sentient beings. When you took refuge, I told you that every precept is protected by a precept deity that enables you to continue observing each precept, and which strengthens your resolve to practice Buddhism. There was a story about a monastic who broke all the precepts except one—the precept against speaking at mealtime. This observance is not suited to lay practitioners, because according to Chinese habit, asking you not to speak while eating would be tantamount to asking you to give up your life. One day, while eating his meal, the monastic in question saw a benevolent deity appear. The monastic asked the benevolent deity why it had appeared in that place. The deity informed him that it was because the monastic had been keeping the precept against speaking at mealtime; as a result, the deity had been unable to leave. It had therefore come to implore him to talk while eating so that the deity could finally be released. After hearing this, the monastic realized that benevolent deities were sure to exist as long as he kept the precepts, so from then on he started anew to observe them all. Actually, there is truth in this. Why do we need precept deities to come and protect us? It is because we easily grow lax. In Vajrayana Buddhism there are a lot of Dakinis, Dakas, ghosts, and deities that uphold the Dharma; all of these will come to protect us. Also, in the Sutra of Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows it is written that if you continuously do good deeds, ghosts and deities will manifest to safeguard your home. Some people say that ghosts will appear whenever you recite the Sutra of Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows; this is correct, but those ghosts will not harm you but to help you. Do not assume that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will pay attention to you. Instead, it is ghosts that come to strengthen your resolve and intention to practice the Dharma, prevent you from becoming lazy or lax, and reduce any hindrances to your Buddhist practice. If you can keep the precepts, then the precept deities will come to protect you. However, they will not inform you that they have appeared; they will certainly remain invisible to you. Do not think that you’ll be able to see black or white shadows; there actually is no such thing. Breaking free of the four forms, which is mentioned in the Diamond Sutra, involves not seeking to see the form of Tathagata or hear Tathagata’s voice. Until you have attained a Dharmakaya, everything you see is a result of hallucinations born of your attachments.

“I’ll now give an example of what not ‘adulterating’ the precepts means. Back when I was practicing Exoteric Buddhism, I often encountered people who would, based on their own interpretation of the sutras, criticize others and try to teach them how they should act. I have witnessed and heard of this sort of occurrence a lot. For example, when everyone is eating in the Buddhist hall, someone will say, ‘Dharma Sister, while holding a bowl your posture should be alike to a dragon holding its pearl, with your head dipped down like a phoenix. That is true way to keep the precepts.’ However, what do you do when you encounter someone with trigger inflammation of the thumb, who is unable to hold her bowl in that sort of position? To give another example, I’ve heard some people say that prayer beads can only be worn in the left hand, not the right. These words have struck me as strange; clearly they are not written anywhere in the sutras, so it seems this is yet another case in which someone has made up a new precept out of thin air. I have also had people tell me that after finishing a round of prayers with the prayer beads, one’s fingers must not directly cross over the head-bead. They say this is because it represents the Buddha’s head, so crossing over it with one’s finger would be disrespectful; instead, one must turn the head-bead around before continuing to chant. I have reverently read the sutras, yet nowhere in them is such a thing written. If the head-bead represented the Buddha’s head, then if you kept turning it around and around like that, wouldn’t you make the Buddha dizzy? A lot of people these days like to use their own convictions to correct others, but none of what they say was spoken by the Buddha. Many like to criticize, and are full of so many specious theories. Some claim, after not succeeding in becoming the chief main donor, that their Dharma master gave that honor to someone else because the master doesn’t like them. They even criticize their Dharma master’s choice by saying, ‘Check it out; that person is making prostrations to the Buddha with an incorrect posture. How come she got to become a main donor?’ By whispering resentments to themselves while making prostrations, such people have already begun to cultivate hatred. How, then, can they bow before the Buddha? Voicing such criticism is really, really bad.

“Another instance was when His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang came to Taiwan to preside over the fifteen-day Treasury of Kagyu Tantras Empowerment Puja. Knowing that I had no money at the time, His Holiness gave special instructions that I had to participate and sit in the front row. That day, as I was walking over to sit down in the front row, I bumped into someone I knew who said to me, ‘Dharma Brother, you’re divorced, yet have you still come here to practice Buddhism and participate in this empowerment puja?’ My reply was, ‘I am here in accordance with His Holiness’s instructions.’ Actually, nowhere in the sutras is it written that divorcees cannot practice the Dharma. Nowadays some people add Confucian and Catholic concepts into Dharma precepts. In Catholicism, divorce is not recognized, but Buddhism has no such prohibition, and neither does Confucianism. These various sayings are in contravention of the Buddha’s teachings, and are simply examples of people using their own ideas to criticize others. Such behavior is not good.

“When practicing Buddhism, you must not observe the precepts with conceit. For example, I have mentioned before a certain practitioner who had cultivated to the point that heavenly beings would come to make offerings to him, but as soon as he started to show off, the heavenly beings stopped coming! His behavior was an example of observing the precepts with conceit. If you think eating vegetarian sets you apart from other people, and you look down on those who still eat meat, you are in the wrong, too. I once saw two people in a restaurant get in an argument over eating vegetarian. One of them, a vegetarian who in those years was a male pop star but who isn’t on the scene anymore, was urging the other guy over and over to eat vegetarian, and they ended up getting into a fight about it. Some vegetarians, upon seeing people eat meat, tell them that they are eating corpses and that bad things will happen to them later on. They criticize those people with such harsh-sounding words. Perhaps they will encounter someone with bad temper who replies that eating vegetarian is the same as eating excrement, because vegetables are all fertilized with night soil. The upshot would be a back-and-forth barrage of insults. Actually, there is nothing extraordinary about eating vegetarian, so if you look down on others because you are a vegetarian, then you are observing the precepts with conceit.

“Everyone’s observance of the precepts is an individual affair. You are not qualified to say that someone has broken the precepts, because you are not the one who transmits the precepts; you are not Dharma masters empowered to do it. You are the only one who knows, deep down, whether or not you have succeeded in cultivating the precepts, and only your guru can confirm how well you have kept them. Whenever I see you do something wrong, I can tell you about it, because the precepts you are trying to keep were all transmitted to you by me. Likewise, if I were to violate the Samaya Commandments, His Holiness would let me know.

“In order to walk the Bodhisattva Path, one must understand that observing the precepts is just like eating or breathing; it is fundamentally vital to one’s cultivation. As long as you maintain this sort of attitude while observing the precepts for the sake of sentient beings, you will naturally be able to keep them. There will be no need to meticulously focus on what things you may or may not do; you will naturally be able to refrain from breaking the precepts—and, as is written in the aforementioned section of the sutra, you will not grow attached to your observance of them. You will not form an attachment to how well you keep the precepts compared to others, because you are not keeping them for your own sake; with compassion, you will naturally be able to keep the precepts without any need to be deliberate or meticulous about it. The reason ordinary people omit, fall short, and adulterate while attempting to keep the precepts is that they all think they are doing it better than others. Without being aware of one’s own keeping the precepts is the epitome of precept observance.

“In the sutra it is written, ‘Good man, how do Bodhisattvas practice forbearance? Good man, in order to learn about such a path and tradition, a Bodhisattva can tolerate defamation, humiliation, and rumored condemnation, as well as physical assault by means of attacking, tying, imprisoning, or even dismemberment. If a Bodhisattva has endured such hardships, and dedicated the merits to Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi without generating arrogance from His own restraint, then the Bodhisattva is successfully cultivating forbearance.’

“This section tells us that though people who walk the Bodhisattva Path might suffer defamation and even be beaten, locked up, tied up, and dismembered, they will be able to endure it all. Forbearance does not mean keeping from losing your temper; it means being able to tolerate any humiliation or verbal abuse that gets thrown at you. Forbearance includes not having evil thoughts when you are insulted, and not feeling annoyed by other people; it involves self-reflection and a recognition that these things have only happened to you as a result of whatever causes, effects, and conditions you possess. Upon mastering forbearance, you will not think about retaliating against others or have any other evil thoughts in response to anything bad that happens to you, because your mind will be immovable.

“Speaking of which, for my Japanese foods business, I always pay the Japanese factory owners for their goods in advance. This is not to tell you how you would do business; if you operated this way, you would all worry about what would happen to you if those factory owners were to not deliver the goods. However, if you get ripped off, it can only happen once, because the next time you will know not to deal with whomever cheated you. If you actually got ripped off by them a hundred times, then that might have to do with a debt you owe them from your past lives.

“Forbearance is not easy to cultivate, because until you have mastered the art of giving, and of keeping the precepts, a single word or action from someone could be enough to push you past the limits of your endurance. You would be liable to allow such an utterance to make you jump up immediately, in anger or humiliation. Practicing forbearance does not mean holding your tongue temporarily; it means knowing clearly, deep down in your heart, that everything—whether good or bad—happens for a reason; it all has to do with your conditions, causes, and effects. When I got cancer, I knew why I had gotten cancer, so I neither performed the Dharma for myself nor implored His Holiness to cure me of my illness. I also did not wish to come to peace with it, because I knew I had deserved whatever happened to me. After all, in the past I had enjoyed eating seafood, so I knew I had to repay the debt I owed! In the instant that something happens to you, if your mind can remain unmoved and unaffected, and you know that for better or for worse, everything is the result of your causes, effects, and conditions, and that everything is impermanent—if you can face what happens to you with this sort of attitude, then the incident will pass. This is not to say that we should be extremely passive and not protect ourselves from anything; that’s not what I mean. It was written in the sutras that practicing the Dharma can resolve some lawsuit-related issues. If you want to go through legal proceedings, then do it; taking someone to court is simply a matter of explaining what happened in clear terms. Importantly, people who are cultivating the Bodhisattva Path would not think about taking any sort of retribution on anyone, no matter what harm they might have suffered. Forbearance involves having pity on one’s enemies and praying that they will develop bodhicitta. It is recorded in the Dharma text of the Chod that we should feel compassion for our karmic creditors from past lives, and hope that they can cultivate bodhicitta. This is because only by doing so will they have a chance in the next lifetime to walk the Bodhisattva Path and attain Buddhahood. You should not be like other people who, only thinking of their own benefit, hope that their karmic creditors will hurry up and practice Buddhism so that they let them go and stop harming them. Many of you have that sort of attitude.

“If you are beaten, you do not necessarily have to take action or report the aggressor to the police. Even if you don’t, bystanders—your family members, perhaps—might, unable to stand watching as you take no action, come to your aid; this is always a possibility. It’s like the saying, ‘If revenge breeds revenge, will it ever end?’ Take, for example, the terrorist attack that happened in France a few days ago. Those murderers, as well as their victims, certainly share in a collective karma stemming not just from this lifetime, but from their past lives as well. That is the only reason that they all simultaneously came to harm in this lifetime. The result is that this group of people will continue to be entangled with each other in the next life. Cultivating forbearance means accepting, with an immovable mind, the fact that all phenomena, whether good or bad, arise and cease according to their causal conditions. If someone attacks you, it must be because you attacked that person in the past. Last year I was in a car accident, and the other party involved made some statements that were not in line with the facts. Knowing very clearly that my causal condition had matured, I felt very thankful to the other party. The occurrence of this sort of incident may well have prevented something even worse from happening. It may also have given the chance that in the future once I’ve attained Buddhahood, that person would be the first person I liberate. This is the Dharma method of cultivating forbearance.

“Even when I have gone to court, my purpose has only ever been to clarify what happened. Back when I established my very first business entity, I rented a basement office. On the rental contract it was written that the place was more than 230 meters square, but because it was registered as a disaster refuge shelter, by law only thirty-three square meters of the property could be used. The landlord at the time had not informed me that the other one hundred ninety-eight square meters could not be used to conduct business, and charged rent in the full amount that one would pay for a property that was 231 square meters in size. Eventually someone reported the offense, and only after the authorities came to conduct a safety inspection did I learn that I had been ripped off by the landlord. I then told the landlord that beginning the following month I would only be paying for the thirty-three square meters of property I was allowed to use, but believing that the original rental contract had to be honored, the landlord did not agree to this. Regardless, from the following month I only paid enough rent to cover the thirty-three square meters anyway. The reason I did this was to teach the landlord that he had cheated many people like that in the past, and that I hoped he would no longer do that in the future. The previous tenant had not reported this violation, either, because back then a lot of people operated that way. Eventually the landlord filed a lawsuit, but in the end the court ruled that the landlord was in the wrong and must return all the rent he had overcharged. This sort of case is extremely rare in Taiwan, because typically landlords are the ones who win in court; it is not very often that one hears of a tenant winning a lawsuit.

“My attorney at the time advised me to take the landlord to court again for fraud, but I chose not to. Had it been you in my shoes, you might have taken it this step further, because given his loss of the civil suit, the opposing party most certainly would have lost a criminal suit as well; I would definitely have won further reparations from him. However, I dropped the matter, because my reason for taking the landlord to court had been to prevent him from continuing to commit the evil act of swindling other tenants. If you win in court, you don’t have to keep kicking a man when he’s down or make sure he suffers a cruel fate.

“I could even have sued the person who had brokered the rental agreement, but I did not. Even lawyers said I have a big heart. Furthermore, because I handled it this way, I formed a good connection with the landlord, and for this he was very grateful to me. After all, at the time no tenant had ever won such a case, so had I taken the landlord to court again in a further lawsuit, the media surely would have reported the matter, and the landlord certainly would have lost everything and been completely ruined. Ever since then my experiences in renting properties have gone relatively smoothly. This, too, is a result of causes, effects, and conditions.

“Mastering the Dharma method of forbearance is extremely difficult. While we are cultivating it, how well or poorly we practice is not important; what is important is that we are actually practicing. Only once you have mastered the Dharma method of forbearance will you be qualified to walk the Bodhisattva Path. Therefore, you should not think that you are any different from other people just because you are cultivating the art of forbearance. It would be very dangerous for those who do not practice forbearance; I have seen with my own eyes many great Dharma masters and Rinpoches who, because they have been quite successful at accumulating merits, have grown arrogant. This immediately causes their merits to transform into good fortune, and they soon encounter problems. The saying, ‘fire burns away the forest of merits,’ does not mean our merits get burned away by hatred; it means that the merits we have cultivated grows lusher and lusher, as trees in forests do indeed grow, but the slightest arousal of any of the Five Poisons—thoughts of greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt—will cause our merits to transform into good fortune. When a section of forest is burned away, all that is left is a swath of charcoal. Which do you think can burn longer: Wood or charcoal? Wood, of course. Trees can burn for a very long time, yet they can continue to grow into a forest that can benefit many sentient beings—but as soon as charcoal burns once, it is gone. This means that once you have used up your good fortune, it will disappear, whereas merits cannot be exhausted even over the course of many lifetimes.

“The concept of ‘forbearance’ is that one’s determination to practice Buddhism will not be affected, and one’s mind will remain unmoved, no matter what good or bad situations one encounters. ‘Forbearance’ does not just mean putting up with the bad, because whenever we are humiliated, abused, harmed, and so on, we can all understand very clearly that these fall into the scope of phenomena that we should be able to endure. Earlier, I mentioned such negative incidences as dismemberment. When bad things like this happen, you can bear them, because you know they are a result of evil acts you committed in the past. If this were happening to you, you would have repaid your debt, and you would be fine. However, whenever you encounter something good, it is much more difficult to maintain forbearance. The hardest things to forbear are fame and profit. You might be able to practice forbearance if you have some fame and profit, but to keep your mind from being fanned by the Eight Winds (gain, loss; defamation, eulogy; praise, ridicule; sorrow, joy) is truly difficult.

“Fame and profit are what practitioners fear the most, because a few misspoken words can lead to very severe karmic retribution. Life goes very smoothly for some people after they begin practicing Buddhism; as a result, they believe that they are pretty good at cultivating, and can start to live a better life and enjoy themselves. This is the point at which one should be especially on guard. The moment we feel that things have begun to go our way is the moment we start to consume the good fortune we cultivated in our past lives. Listen closely: This good fortune is from our past lives. The good fortune we are using right now was not cultivated in this lifetime. We should therefore be even more vigilant and not indulge ourselves. Instead, this is the point at which we should work even harder.

“While I was practicing Buddhism, my opportunities to meet Exoteric masters and His Holiness all came about thanks to introductions made by a close friend. This friend of mine had met many throne holders and famous Rinpoches of the Four Main Orders. It would stand to reason that he gained more than a few merits by introducing me to His Holiness—an act which led me to learn Buddhism from my guru—right? However, during a conversation one time, my friend said that he had cultivated so much in this lifetime that he would be sure to sit back and enjoy himself in the next. Just like that, a single thought of his immediately turns a lifetime of merits into good fortune. Unable to transform the karma he had accumulated over the course of his past lives, in the end he suffered a stroke far away from home, and it was left to me to bring him back to Taiwan.

“The mother of that friend ate vegetarian and had chanted the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s mantra all her life. Not once had she ever gone out and had a conflict with anyone; she had remained in her home, living a simple life. In her later years, however, she fell down and injured her hipbone. Her pelvic bone completely shattered, and she was no longer able to walk. Why, given her vegetarianism and commitment to Buddhist practice, did she suffer such a serious fall? It was because she had only practiced for herself; she had not cultivated the Six Paramitas. My friend’s father used to enjoy going hunting, and when he was older he suffered a stroke that for nine years left both his arms curled up, just like a bird’s talons look when it dies. My friend’s mother suffered that fall due to the fact that she had helped her husband butcher the animals he’d hunted. She had quite a strong personality, too; she would not let her servant help her get around. So she had to crawl along the floor like a wounded bird, and in this way she completely repaid all of her karmic debt in this lifetime. However, had she practiced Mahayana or Vajrayana Buddhism, she would not have needed to repay it in such a painful manner.

“Take the Venerable Milarepa, for instance. He achieved attainment as a Tantric Mahasiddha while spending a lifetime in retreat, never leaving his caves even when kings came calling. Why was that? It was because he had listened to his guru, the Venerable Marpa, who had instructed him to cultivate in caves and never leave. Thus, even though the Venerable Milarepa cultivated to the point that he even had the ability to fly, he still did not allow his achievements in cultivation to make him cling to his own ideas; he simply followed his guru’s instructions, and practiced in caves for the rest of his life. Before learning Buddhism and while obeying his mother, the Venerable Milarepa had used incantations from the folk belief to kill many people with hail, including his relatives. According to the law of cause and effect, one would think he should have gone to the Hell Realm for this! However, the good root he had developed throughout his past lives allowed him to achieve great attainments in cultivation. Even so, the effects of his karma from killing remained, so his guru—Marpa—told Milarepa to practice in isolation, in caves, for the rest of his life. This was so that the Venerable Milarepa could repay in this lifetime all of the karmic debt he owed, and then continue to practice until he attained Buddhahood. Where I spent my 2007 retreat, on the holy mountain of Lapchi, was a place in which the Venerable Milarepa had practiced. My retreat hut was high on a mountain, at an altitude of 4500 meters. That environment is very difficult to survive in. There is nothing but mountain springs, a few deer jumping around, and some little birds singing into the ether; there is no fruit to eat there. It is possible to plant a bit of highland barley, but nothing else.

“The Venerable Milarepa also spent time in retreat in a cave that was more than five thousand meters above sea level, as well as in an even higher one—at an altitude of more than seven thousand meters—that even professional rock climbers are unable to reach. Furthermore, the Venerable Milarepa had already mastered the ability to fly, and could easily fly straight up to such high caves in which to practice. His footprints are still visible in the cave that is over five thousand meters in altitude; I once went there, after I had finished my retreat on Lapchi Snow Mountain. The footprints were very high up inside the cavern, and I would have to have stood on top of a table for my head to be at the same level as the footprints.

“What would you have done in Milarepa’s place? What a joke! As soon as your guru had died, wouldn’t you have left your cave to stretch your legs in comfort? However, the Venerable Milarepa remained on Lapchi Snow Mountain, cultivating, until the very end, refusing to come down from the mountain no matter what. Even when kings went there to ask him, he still wouldn’t leave; no amount of riches or glory promised, or even the threat of being killed by the king’s soldiers, was enough to make Milarepa leave. If the king wanted to speak with him, he had to climb the mountain himself to do it. The Venerable Milarepa was cultivating the Dharma method of forbearance, which is why his good fortune came to fruition. By contrast, after practicing Buddhism for a few years, you believe life is starting to go rather smoothly, so you think you can start enjoying your good fortune.

“Good and evil cannot cancel each other out. The Buddha taught that we should refrain from evil and do virtuous acts. Once we put a stop to all our evil behavior and begin to only do good deeds, the power of good will grow continuously and can temporarily suppress the power of evil. Pay attention: It only suppresses it temporarily, because the evil karma continues to exist; it will not disappear. Do you think that nothing bad will happen to you just because you have practiced Buddhism for a few years? You have given no thought to how much karma you have accumulated over your past lives. If a few years of cultivation were enough to completely repay all your karmic debt, then why did Shakyamuni Buddha encounter nine difficulties even after He had attained Buddhahood? The Venerable Maudgalyāyana was an arhat with the most developed supernatural powers around, yet in the end he was beaten to death by heretics. His death, however, had a different significance: It caused all the karmic debt he owed due to all of the evil acts he had committed over the course of many lifetimes to be completely repaid.

“The Dharma method of forbearance, cultivated to its highest form, is called ‘forbearance attained from a realization of the non-arising of Dharmas.’ A practitioner cannot become a Bodhisattva before achieving this state. I was unable to realize this state until after I had mastered the Simplicity Yoga. Now I am speaking of it to you, but you do not understand, either; I’ll have to reveal it to you again in the future once you have been transmitted the Bodhisattva Precepts.

“Here there is mention of ‘dedicating the merits to Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi.’ Dedications are vital; it is of utmost importance that dedications are made during any Buddhist activity that takes place. Many people tend to talk a lot while making dedications; they say they want to dedicate their Buddhist practices to their husbands, sons, or daughters. Actually, there is no need pray for your children to change for the better; as long as you cultivate good fortune, they will get better naturally. Folks out there have yet another saying that goes, ‘If you don’t even have enough good fortune for yourself, how can you dedicate it to others?” Such concepts are not quite accurate. Therefore, the sutra gives us a special reminder that we must make our dedications to Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi or to the Pure Land. Dedication Dharma methods exist only in Buddhism. As mentioned in the Dharma next, we must make dedications in everything we do.

“Actually, you should make dedications even when performing the tiniest of good deeds. You should dedicate all merits—even those attained while lighting a lamp, lighting a stick of incense, chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, and so on. Don’t think that coming to participate in the pujas is enough to improve your situation; the merits we accumulate are extremely few in number and smaller than a drop of water, a mote of dust, a molecule, or an atom. Modern science has proved that every word we utter, action we commit, or thought that comes to mind produces a signal that is sent out into the universe. If we constantly send out positive signals for sentient beings to receive, then the signals that come back to us will all be positive, too. If you keep your good energy for yourself, then you will not receive any positive signals from sentient beings or the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; you will only be able to receive negative signals. We therefore must be sure to make dedications, because we are not isolated entities in the universe. When you make your dedications, you are enabling your extremely small merits to enter the great sea of merits—like drops of water entering the ocean! Merits are not separated into ‘yours’ or ‘mine.’ When you dedicate your tiny merits, and they enter the great sea of merits, won’t your miniscule, individual merits then join other drops to become much bigger than they were by themselves?

“Every time a Vajrayana practitioner chants a mantra, sits in meditation, or takes an action, he or she must make offerings to the Three Jewels and the guru, as well as make dedications to sentient beings—without even leaving a little bit of the merits for the practitioner’s own use. Of course, some Dharma texts instruct practitioners to implore the yidam for a little to use themselves, but this, too, is done in order to help sentient beings. Thus, dedications are extremely important. We spend our entire lives learning all of these Dharma methods, and for what? It is all in preparation for that instant that we pass away, that millisecond of our death that flashes past more quickly than a click of fingers. When you die, as long as you can remember that your guru will come to save you, then you will not fall into the Three Evil Realms. How can you achieve this? First of all, you must train yourselves to endure a scolding, and secondly you must practice not getting kicked out, no matter what—because you must never leave your guru. However, you shouldn’t learn that part, because I hope you all leave so that I can relax.

The sutra text continues: ‘Good man, how do Bodhisattvas cultivate diligence? Good man, a Bodhisattva thinks in this manner: Like the Void being infinite and limitless, the realm of sentient beings is, too; then I am the only one without equal company that is allowed to enter the realm of Anupadisesa-Nibbana. The Bodhisattva is then aspired to cultivate diligently to achieve thus.’

“The word ‘diligence’ does not refer to how much you chant. All of you chant a couple of extra rounds whenever you have some free time, but when you don’t have any or you aren’t in a good mood, you chant less. Diligence also does not mean making a hundred prostrations today and adding another fifty tomorrow, making it a total of 150; if you do that, you can just be said to be hard working and not lazy.

“‘Diligence’ can be explained in two separate parts. One part of it is precision: We choose an accurate direction, and then constantly progress along that path. ‘Diligence’ does not mean learning a whole bunch of different Dharma methods or reading as many sutras as we can, nor does it involve only focusing on the cultivation of a single Dharma method. Some people have a desire to learn every Dharma method there is, so they learn a smidgeon here and a little there—a bit of everything—but in the end they have lost their way. Practicing Buddhism is not a matter of taking a shot in the dark. It requires a guru who can confirm whether or not you are on the right path in your cultivation, and who will ensure that you do not waste a lot of unnecessary time and energy. The Dharmas that I expound do not stray from the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, and my own experiences from practicing Buddhism. However, the validity of these experiences had to be confirmed by my guru; I could not simply decide on my own to include them in my teachings.

“In the course of cultivating, as long as you have desires, you are not being diligent. You’ve never heard such a saying, have you? Diligence is not a matter of attending more penitential rites, chanting the Buddha’s name more, or chanting more mantras; rather, it is something that has to do with sentient beings. The concept of ‘diligence’ refers to the question of whether or not all our actions are related to helping ourselves to become liberated from life and death and helping sentient beings to attain Buddhahood. If the answer to that question is ‘yes,’ then we are being diligent. Another purpose of helping oneself is to gain the ability to help sentient beings, so first we must resolve our own problems. If your purpose is to seek enlightenment for yourself, or to get a few more disciples to follow you, then no matter how hard you work, your efforts will not amount to diligence. Many Buddhist practitioners, when they first start out, tend to seem quite genuine in their intentions. Each day, they recite a good deal and make plenty of prostrations, thinking that doing so means they are being very conscientious in their cultivation. The monastics present might have experienced this: As soon as you became ordained, you worked in earnest, but over time you began to relax and think, I feel rather tired today, so I’ll just chant a bit less. How much or little you chant actually is more related to your industriousness; none of this counts as diligence. Do not assume that reciting a high volume of passages from the sutras means you are diligent or that doing so can enable you to become liberated from life and death. Reciting from the sutras is indeed useful; it can cause you to be sent over here to get scolded. Before today, I had never read this section of the sutra text. The more you hear, the more afraid you are getting, am I right? To put it simply, if you are practicing for yourself, then you are not being diligent; diligence only comes from cultivating for the sake of sentient beings.

“The point of participating in pujas is not to be cured of your ailments. Actually, getting sick really isn’t a very big deal; once you have repaid your karmic debt, you’ll get better. I am frequently approached by believers with terminal cancer seeking blessings. I tell them that I would be glad to bestow blessings, but that afterward they will soon pass away regardless. After hearing this, most of the believers seeking audience tend to ask why that is. The fact is, people with terminal cancer might still have a month or two of life left to live, but with that remaining longevity be substituted for the agony brought by their illness, they can leave suffering behind immediately. I always ask them whether their family members are all in agreement that they would quickly pass away after receiving my blessings; if they are not, then I tell them to go back and talk it over with their families before returning to seek another audience. A lot of people never come back after that. Actually, another way of thinking at it is that not continuing with their treatments could help them save them money.” Right then, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked a disciple who was a doctor, “How much does being hospitalized in the intensive care unit cost each day?” The disciple answered, “Including all the related expenses, it costs around NT$7,000 per day.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued: “If you’re in there for thirty days, you’ll have to spend around NT$210,000. If you are a believer, I won’t even accept any offerings from you—so wouldn’t that save you money? People often ask while seeking an audience with me what they can do for their parents. I usually tell them to make prostrations to the Buddha. However, no one can make two thousand grand prostrations for the sake of his or her parents in the space of a single day. I’ve recently heard about a new term being used in hospitals: The ‘daughter from California syndrome.’ This refers to someone who is never around, but who suddenly shows up as soon as his or her parents get sick. Many of you are just like this.

“In the sutra it is written, ‘Like the Void being infinite and limitless, the realm of sentient beings is, too;….’ The Buddha said that the void is boundless. Modern science verifies that this universe is expanding and spreading outward, without stopping. The Buddha truly is amazing to have realized and voiced this more than two thousand years ago. The ‘void’ is the universe, which stretches on forever. In other words, it has no bounds; hence the word ‘limitless.’ Given the infinite nature of the universe, this means the realm of sentient beings is boundless, too. Not only are the other sentient beings existing throughout the universe countless, but the Buddha said that on this Earth alone there exist 410,000 species of animals, including those in the Animal Realm, insects, and so on. You might think that our human population of more than six billion is a very high number, but in the insect world there are even more species, and their numbers border on the uncountable. There are many sentient beings living on this planet of which we have no knowledge. Would you say life on Earth is complex? It is; extremely so. Over two thousand years ago, the Buddha said there are more than 410,000 species here; this number has surely grown over the past couple of millennia. People have grown more and more complex, so when we reincarnate into the Animal Realm, an even greater variety of insect species and so on come into being.

“It is also written in the sutra that in the endless void, there are as many Buddha Lands as there are grains of sand in the Ganges River. In other words, numerous sentient beings have already attained Buddhahood. In addition to other sutras, in the Amitabha Sutra it is mentioned that there are hundreds of millions of Buddha Lands. If there are a hundred million Buddhas in each of the four cardinal directions – east, south, west and north, then there are four hundred million Buddhas. You might ask why the Earth had only one—Shakyamuni Buddha. It is because compared to the entire universe, the Earth is very small, and as invisible as a mote of dust. Our planet is tiny even just compared to the Milky Way galaxy, let alone the entire universe. In order to help countless suffering sentient beings become liberated and attain Buddhahood, we must cultivate with diligence. While you are still ordinary people, you are as yet unable to help others, so now is the time to work hard to amend your behavior so that you are no longer confused or full of doubt; now is the time to make a firm resolution to begin to cultivate.

“The sutra text goes on to say, ‘…allowed to enter the realm of Anupadisesa-Nibbana. The Bodhisattva is then aspired to cultivate diligently to achieve such karmic connections.’ ‘Anupadisesa-Nibbana’ refers to attaining Buddhahood. Bodhisattvas therefore aspire to diligently cultivate bodhicitta so that, through causal connections, They can help sentient beings to attain Buddhahood.

“In the sutra it is written, ‘First, one must control oneself.’ Before a First Ground Bodhisattva beginning to walk the Bodhisattva Path, one must have a clear understanding of which direction to take in one’s cultivation. The purpose of all of the Dharma methods and precepts to which we adhere is to purify our precept body. This does not refer to our physical body; rather, it is our ‘Dharma body.’ Because our Dharma body is an accumulation of all of the greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt we have exhibited through lifetime after lifetime, and our pure Dharma nature has never been revealed, we therefore do not have sufficient good fortune or wisdom with which to help sentient beings. Only through continued practice via this physical body can we unlock the Dharma nature that we have possessed all along. The acts of ‘benefiting oneself’ and ‘benefiting others’ are, in fact, essentially the same thing; the purpose of the former is to benefit others, and if you are unable to help yourself, then you cannot help sentient beings, either. Your body and consciousness are inseparable from each other; in your case, the former is always affected by the latter. I am different. Why is my consciousness not affected by my body, even though I have S-type scoliosis? It is because my mind can control my consciousness and keep it from having any effect; it is because I can separate my mind from my conscious awareness. None of you can tell the difference between consciousness and mind; you lump them both together. Actually, upon realizing Emptiness, one’s mind and consciousness become one and the same. For Bodhisattvas, for example, mind and consciousness are not separate. If a Bodhisattva’s mind is aroused, the Bodhisattva can help sentient beings escape their suffering. That is, once a causal condition has matured, the Bodhi ‘mind’ causes the ‘consciousness’ to switch on in order to help sentient beings. Mind and consciousness are explained separately in the sutra for the sake of convenience; reluctantly, in language you can understand, the Buddha explained them as if they were two separate entities.

“When I help sentient beings, I do so according to their causes and conditions. Once those have matured, my consciousness, my compassion and bodhicitta are moved in order to provide assistance. I do not think about whether those people are rich or not, or whether they wear diamonds on their fingers; I do not give any preferential treatment to anyone. The reason for this is that if I were to treat rich people a bit better just because they have money, it would indicate that my consciousness has been moved and I have a discriminating mind. As such, I would neither have compassion nor bodhicitta. ‘First, one must control oneself.’ You need to have a clear understanding of what the Buddha was saying. You should rid yourself of doubt and confusion, and you must make a firm resolution to practice in accordance with your guru’s teachings. Only then will you be able to use your precept body to control yourself. Right now your precept body is composed of the Five Precepts, the Ten Meritorious Acts, and the Six Paramitas; the only way to keep your Dharma body from being affected by your karmic body, and allow your Dharma nature to gradually emerge, is to continue cultivating in the right direction. ‘First, one must control oneself.’ I bet you had no idea that such a short phrase would take so long to explain.

“The sutra text continues: ‘After one controls oneself, the citta has been visualized and received. Therefore, one is visualizing and receiving the citta. A Bodhisattva who has been able to assert control over His own mind will witness the Dharma, and so on, through gradual and repeated cultivation.’

“Here the word citta appears. It is a Dharma method of the Six Paramitas, and means the essence of the Dharma transmitted by Shakyamuni Buddha to help us cultivate along the Bodhisattva Path. I have never seen this word before. We must reflect upon whether or not we have mastered the Dharma methods we have been taught. If we have not, then we have not yet received the Buddha’s citta–Dharma essence. The words ‘visualizing and receiving’ mean that the Buddha taught us to reflect internally upon our problems. I often give the metaphor that right after getting out of bed every morning, none of us knows what we look like. Unless we glance in the mirror or hear someone describe our appearance for us, we have no idea whether we are beautiful or ugly. People are often in the habit of looking outward, at other people’s problems, which they seem to see with crystal clarity—yet they are blind to their own problems. We should look inward at our own mind. When it comes to any improper speech and behavior other people might exhibit, we can use our eyes to see, our ears to listen, and our mind to reflect, and tell ourselves that we should not act that way. However, we do not need to criticize or discuss it. When we first start practicing, we are unable to see our pure Dharma nature. We must monitor our consciousness to see whether our thoughts are evil or good, and whether or not they are in violation of the Dharmas taught by the Buddha and our guru. If they are, then we must immediately rectify them. If we come up with any excuses, then we are not visualizing and receiving our citta. If we do not monitor our mind, we can only use our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and consciousness to interact with the external world. Our perception will then be limited by subjectivity, and we will not have cultivated the Dharma method of diligence. This ‘visualizing and receiving’ is a way of determining whether all our behavior is helping us and other sentient beings to break away from reincarnation. If it is, then we have succeeded in visualizing and receiving.

“The next line, ‘…will witness the Dharma, and so on, through gradual and repeated cultivation,’ is quite profound. This is something you are unable to achieve. Only through such steady and continual cultivation will a Bodhisattva be able to see His Dharma nature. This has a very deep meaning, and even if I were to explain it, you still would not understand. It is like when I was in retreat on Lapchi Snow Mountain in 2007; that was the first time I was able to use my Dharma eye to witness the suffering of sentient beings trapped in reincarnation in the Six Realms. Without this sort of cultivation method, I could not possibly have seen the suffering of sentient beings with my Dharma eye. If you have not achieved the first part, then you cannot succeed in doing it ‘repeatedly.’ This line might appear simple, but it takes a lifetime of steady practice to master.

“In the sutra it is written, ‘A Bodhisattva has thus cultivating diligently so as to prevent sentient beings from generating non-meritorious acts and evils, as well as to encourage their meritorious acts to come into existence.’

“In the aforementioned manner, Bodhisattvas can control their mind and cultivate diligently. The point of all of this is to help sentient beings break away from all evil and only do good deeds, and to assist them in attaining Buddhahood. Bodhisattvas cultivate to attain Emptiness, the surfacing of Their Dharma nature, and the unification of mind and consciousness. Until our Dharma nature has been revealed, we cannot experience these things. So, as ordinary people, we are human; as such, we have eyes, ears, a nose, a tongue, a body, and a consciousness, all of which are receiving signals. What, then, should we do? The way of cultivation in Vajrayana Buddhism involves transforming the Five Poisons and one’s consciousness into wisdom. Practicing along the Bodhisattva Path requires a continuous cultivation of the Six Paramitas from Exoteric Buddhism and of Tantra from Vajrayana Buddhism before a practitioner can benefit sentient beings. A Bodhisattva’s diligence exists purely so that the Bodhisattva can help sentient beings attain Buddhahood. When this happens is not important; what is important is setting foot upon the path and cultivating in the right direction, with absolute selflessness and devoid of any desires, all the while practicing diligently for the sake of sentient beings. If you practice for your own benefit, then you are not cultivating diligently; you are diligent only if you are doing it for the sake of sentient beings.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the disciples in a performance of the Dharma Protector Achi prayer and dedication rituals. When they were finished, the guru said, “Today I have explained a bit about the Six Paramitas. Many people might think these methods are rather difficult to understand and achieve, but you should not worry about whether or not you can do it; the important thing is to listen and remember what you have heard, as well as to begin practicing. Mahayana and Vajrayana practitioners who do not use the Six Paramitas as a foundation for their cultivation are very easily led astray, and are quite liable to reduce Buddhism to theoretical research. The Dharma is not an academic subject for us to study. Such research involves taking what you can understand from the sutras and exploring it according to your own life experiences. You then search through a lot of classics and read a lot of books, or make inquiries, after which you read a heap of research papers written by other people. You compare these to your own notes, and then produce your own thesis. This is not wisdom that comes from cultivation; it does not have the slightest bit to do with Buddhist practice. If you try to cultivate this way, you are flirting with disaster. It can be said that Buddhism is a type of education, but it is not to be used for academic research. In Taiwan there used to be a Dharma master who was very good at researching Buddhism. He once sustained an injury from falling down, and my Exoteric Dharma master at the time took me with him to visit the injured Dharma master. When I looked into his eyes, I saw that they were sparkling with life. In his later years, however, I saw him on television once; it was the last time his disciples celebrated his birthday for him. With the ability of knowing others’ minds, whenever you blink or raise your eyebrows, I know what you are thinking. So at the time, I noticed that the elderly Dharma master already had a rather sluggish look in his eyes, and knew that this might have been an early sign of dementia. Why would he succumb to such a fate? It was because he had not cultivated the Six Paramitas. Thinking he had done a pretty good job of practicing Buddhism, and because he often penned his own idea into the books he had authored, all of his merits had quickly transformed into good fortune.

“The Dharma differs from the principles we learn from our everyday life experiences. As Lord Jigten Sumgön once said, the Dharmas he expounded were, first of all, based on what is written in the sutras; secondly, on what his guru taught him; and finally, on Lord Jigten Sumgön’s own experiences gained through cultivation. Simply claiming to have had certain experiences through cultivation does not count; one’s experiences in cultivation must be authenticated by his or her guru first. The reason gurus are so important is that an experienced guru can supervise his or her disciples.

“I encourage you all to go home and think deeply about today’s teachings. You should ponder the Buddha’s words by yourself. That is, you should not ask others, ‘What did Rinpoche mean by that?’ If you do, doesn’t that mean you see that person as the Buddha or your guru? Don’t say that you have forgotten all of your guru’s teachings; of course with such severe karmic hindrances as yours, you could not possibly have remembered everything I’ve said over the past hour or more. Whatever you can remember from today—even if it’s just a sentence, or a single word—you must reflect on it. Reflection does not mean wondering what the meaning of the Dharma is; if you have not yet cultivated it, then how can you realize what the Buddha meant? Reflection involves thinking about whether or not you have put these lessons into practice. If you can do this, then even a line or a word from today’s teachings will be useful to you. Reflecting on a puja’s teachings after you get home is very important. Don’t say you are too tired, and then fall asleep as soon as your head hits the pillow; nor should you necessarily sit silently pondering, with grave seriousness, in front of your Buddhist shrine for an hour or two. People living in today’s society do not always have the luxury of an environment in which that is possible. All you have to do is sit down quietly and think; even five minutes of reflection will be helpful to you. If your husband comes up and asks you why you seem to be staring into space, you can just tell him you are tired. In a few moments, while on the bus on your way home, you can reflect; just be careful not to miss your stop! It is important that you do not neglect thinking about today’s teachings, or else you really will only have heard them—in one ear and out the other. If you can only remember a line or a word or two, that is fine; even a single line is still from teachings bestowed upon you by Shakyamuni Buddha and interpreted for you in easy-to-understand language by me. Actually, when I respectfully read the Ratnakuta Sutra, I did not get all the way through it. Why, then, am I able to explain it directly like this? It is because my cultivation has naturally enabled me to draw meaning from its text. Every second of our lives we should be thinking about whether our actions of body, speech, and mind are in line with our guru’s teachings, and are not in violation of the Dharma in any way; this is very important. Don’t grow more afraid the more you hear; if you cannot master it right now, don’t worry about it. However, you should reflect.

“Even now I still continue to help sentient beings; I have never stopped. Each week the contents of my puja teachings are published on the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center’s website, not in the hope that more people will read them—as then I would have even more disciples—but because I want to provide His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang with a way of keeping an eye on me. If I ever say anything that is unsuitable, Hi Holiness will definitely let me know, and could even stop me from speaking it again. In the past I never realized that His Holiness would read the contents of my puja teachings, and I would never have known had His Holiness not mentioned it one time. If you say that you do not remember a single word or line from your guru’s teachings, it means you have been a dummy throughout your past lives so it doesn’t matter that you are an idiot in this one, too. Karmic hindrances are obstructions to your Buddhist practice created by your karmic energy; if you remember nothing of your guru’s teachings, then it means karmic hindrances have emerged in your practice. If that is the case, you should resolve them by way of the Dharma methods you have learned, including making a major repentance, giving to charity, making offerings, and so on.”

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

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Updated on March 5, 2018