His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – January 23, 2016

On January 23rd, 2016, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang arrived to visit the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Taipei. The Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang is the root guru of the Buddhist Center’s presiding guru, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Over the past thirty years, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has performed multiple retreats under the guidance of His Holiness, and is His Holiness’s most important disciple of Han ethnicity. In addition, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is the Drikung Kagyu Oder’s only lay Rinpoche of Han origin who has attained fruition through genuine cultivation in this lifetime.

On this day of most excellent, auspicious affinity, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and over 1,500 Glorious Jewel disciples gathered to joyfully welcome His Holiness. The Drikung Kagyu Order’s Khenpo Namdol and Lama Samten had also been invited, and participated in this auspicious Mandala Offering Puja.

After His Holiness ascended the Dharma throne, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche reverently offered the mandala to him before instructing the disciples to recite the Refuge Aspiration Prayer, the Sutra of Recollection of Three Jewels, the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas, and the Auspicious Prayer of the Eight Sages.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, “Today is a very propitious day, for we have been honored by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s presence here at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center and graced by his acceptance of this mandala offering. We pray that His Holiness will live a long, healthy life so that he can spread the Dharma lineage far and wide, allowing vast numbers of sentient beings to receive benefits.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then respectfully invited His Holiness to bestow teachings upon all of the attendees.

His Holiness said, “Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, Dharma masters, honorable believers, and respectful lay members, I am very happy to see you all here. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche mentioned that today there would be a mandala offering, and for this I am very grateful. You have recited from your Dharma texts very neatly and with great familiarity, especially the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas. This is very good, as the primary purpose of these is to help you to cultivate the act of ‘benefiting all sentient beings.’

“How can we benefit all sentient beings? This is a very big question. Traditionally, in Asia and in Tibetan Buddhism, we often recite and attend pujas, hoping that we can benefit sentient beings; at the start of every puja and during every dedication, we give rise to bodhicitta. This is also an aspiration in Mahayana Buddhism. However, we still have not done enough to truly put it to use in society to help all sentient beings.

“I believe that the knowledge that can be gained from a lot of traditional, theoretical studies tends to be insufficient, so this is an area in which I have helped Buddhist colleges a great deal.”

His Holiness continued: “We should benefit all sentient beings. Only by embodying this ideal within every aspect of life and society can we truly unify our recitations, speech, and thoughts, as well as accomplish this goal. In the 21st century especially, we must reflect every aspect of the spirit of Buddhism in society and in life, and integrate this spirit in our daily lives. I feel that we humans seem to have left this world, and become somewhat separate from it, so we need to change. Many transformations are needed in Buddhist colleges these days. Not only must they completely protect, maintain, and develop the traditional way of cultivation, but at the same time they should also add to a lot of new forms in order to implement the spirit of the Dharma in all areas. This is very important.

I believe that the only way to truly help all sentient beings is to combine Buddhism with actions that benefit the ecology and the environment. The reason I have chosen to integrate these fields is that in the 21st century, economics, science, and technology are all very developed; there exist some large machines and enormous resource development projects. These have their advantages, but as our social environment has changed, they have done damage to many of our original, natural systems, both in terms of our livelihood and our ideology.

“I see that our entire world is tied together. The Buddha also said that all Dharmas arise and are connected together, due to causal conditions, and exist in a state of mutual interaction. Therefore, the effects of a single action are enormous. It influences this, and then that; thus, everything has fallen into a state of chaos and our environment is in disarray.

“I also am paying close attention to the global warming that is occurring all over the planet right now. I believe this is a very big problem, and noticed that Chinese President Xi Jinping and American President Obama both made a promise at the international Climate Change Conference in Peru in 2014 that they would formally sign an agreement at the United Nations Climate Change Conference held in Paris late last year (2015). Not only did the agreement secure promises of cooperation from participating countries, but world leaders also voiced the intention to assist smaller nations as well as in an effort to control global warming so that it will not rise more than another two degrees Celsius. This is because past that point, things would get very dangerous; not only would the environment get more difficult to breathe, but many animal species would go extinct.

“Twenty years ago I established a Buddhist college in Ladakh that had a small river flowing through it. When I visited a few years ago, however, run-off from snowmelt had caused that river to swell its banks so much that it was no longer possible to ford it on horseback or otherwise, and you had to wait until evening or early in the morning before you could cross.” His Holiness paused and continued: “Khenpo Namdol has been to that place, too. The river used to be very, very small, and now it has become incredibly, unbelievably huge due to global warming. As the Earth gets warmer, the glaciers and snowfields melt, and it is happening more and more each year. There are some places in the world where unusual phenomena are happening for the first time in history. For example, in places where it has never rained before, there have been torrential downpours; or it has snowed in locations that have never seen snow, and so on. Under these abnormal weather patterns, plant life is being greatly affected. In Kunming, the flowers have sometimes been blossoming much earlier than normal, and at times it has shown a great state of disarray.

“Last year I began to take notice of Dehradun. There the climate is usually very hot, and flock upon flock of geese were migrating up to the Himalayas because they thought the season was getting warmer. A week later, it snowed in a certain region of the Himalayas, and then another cold front came through. This happened here, too; a cold front has come through this year. Those geese had to fly back south. This phenomenon caused a lot of animals and organisms to die, and many plants as well.

I believe that this world is becoming unhealthy. Not only do we have a responsibility to the place we live in, but we also must conduct ourselves in a Bodhi manner and be accountable for the livelihood of people in the next generation, and in every generation after that. Each of us—and that includes every person living on this Earth—must take on the responsibility to protect our environment and the places that harbor life. For this reason, over the past three years I have formally started some reforestation programs and some soil and water conservation schemes. I have also begun to cooperate on many projects with other organizations such as some universities in the United States.

“This coming March, I will go to America, and on my way I’ll stop over in Vietnam. There I will choose a location to serve as a regional center of environmental protection for Asia, because Vietnam has a lot of environmental problems, too. Some of these issues are very big, and impossible for me to tackle, such as the fact that back during the Vietnam War, America dropped a lot of bombs; some of these landed in the middle of the rain forest, and contained Agent Orange (which is a defoliant). Last year when I went to Vietnam, I saw some children with enlarged heads who could not walk—so that contamination is still having a very palpable effect to this day. Many such chemicals exist underneath airports these days, too. These issues must be addressed by the United Nations, and America as well, by way of multi-million-dollar projects. Some locations need to be completely excavated. I cannot do these things, but I can gather believers from the southern, northern, and middle regions of Vietnam—together with help from the local government and some monasteries—and put them to work. Moreover, I plan to do this every year.”

His Holiness continued: “Some deans, Khenpos, and staff from Buddhist colleges, as well as a legislator who is also a member of the Center, have combined forces to set up some projects there that are relatively international in nature; one university president is over there right now helping the locals with preparations. In March I’ll be going there for a ten-day visit. This is one concrete way of promoting change. I am cooperating on projects with people in other places, too, such as in South Africa, and with local Native Americans in the mountains of California in the United States.

“At the end of this year, I will be setting up a special training program for the new subject of sustainability. In Australia in the 1970s, some people designed a system called ‘permaculture,’ but the word was not very suitable, so now we have a new name for it. The concept of sustainability involves practices that achieve a balance between the Earth and all its living creatures so that we can coexist interdependently. For example, when planting a tree, one must not plant other plants nearby that will be in competition with it; if one does, then they will draw away much of the tree’s water and it will die. It is important to plant tree species together that can coexist, and this is true of other plants as well. Thus, sustainability is a very broad subject that involves a lot of concepts.

“Last year, a follower of mine in Kaohsiung took three people with PhDs with him to India to take part in a two-week seminar that was hosted by Songtsen Library. I did my best to participate every morning, too, and a great deal was achieved. While attending this seminar, I gained a deeper understanding of the Buddhist saying that all phenomena arise from causes and conditions. This is why I hope to combine the concepts of Buddhism and ecology, and spread them internationally.

“This year, after the Sravasti Puja is concluded, I will invite some people from Bhutan, Sikkim, Nepal, and the Ladakh region, who are genuinely engaged in hands-on environmental protection work, to attend classes at Songtsen Library. After they have completed their studies, these people will be able to return to their job posts to properly and effectively promote conservation work. This is how it will be done this year, but next year I might do it in Vietnam, and the following year someplace else.”

His Holiness said, “Right now in Ladakh a great emphasis is being placed on organic reforestation. There is a university student who, after graduating, did not go to do any other work except to promote organic reforestation in villages below Ladakh. Last year they announced that the mountainous, autonomous region of Ladakh was a ‘green county,’ and recently the Indian prime minister visited Sikkim Province and declared it entirely a ‘green province.’ In addition to the university graduate working on organic reforestation, there is another university student who majored in pastoral studies, as well as one who has a PhD in environmental studies; I have arranged for these three people to travel to Austria together. One will live in the city, one on a farm, and one on a livestock ranch. They will be there for three years, for three months of which they will live, work, and labor together. They will then take what they learn there, through their studies and hands-on experiences, back to their home provinces to teach other people. Next year, perhaps starting in Bhutan, I will implement a rotating training course that will rotate from location to location. This, too, is a way of getting people engaged. That way, these conservation efforts will be able to unfold in an objective, natural pattern, and, can be said to benefit all sentient beings.

“Benefiting all sentient beings does not just refer to humankind; it also includes helping animals and insects. If everything is in balance and natural like this, then the grass will grow healthy, too; as such, those animals and insects will have food and a place to live. This will also have the effect of creating a relatively healthy human population, too. If we can make the entire environment healthier, then our lives and bodies will be healthy, too, because everything is connected. Thus, we do not live in isolation; one location affects another, and so on. We have a responsibility to promote environmental protection on a global scale; only then can we claim that we are benefiting all sentient beings. As a result, we will be able to fulfill everything we chant and memorize.
“Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and I have discussed plans to hold an environmental protection event in Taiwan next year. On New Year’s Day, we will ride bicycles—and I will even lead the way, riding a bike myself. We have yet to work out the details of how exactly this event will take place.”

After his speech was over, His Holiness wished Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche good health and said that for more than thirty years Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had continuously done a great deal of work. In Tibet he had done a lot, as well; he had erected some Buddhist statues in Phag Dru Monastery and Gampo Monastery. Many locations were in need, and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was helping them all. For this His Holiness was very grateful, and he also praised Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for being so conscientious and earnest in his cultivation. Through practicing diligently every day, he said, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had achieved fruition quite naturally.

His Holiness continued: “Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche says he has too many followers now, and not enough room to accommodate them all. There are more than a thousand people here, and he wants to find a venue that can hold three thousand. That is very good, and I wish him great success in this endeavor.” His Holiness also blessed all of the members of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, and hoped that they would all be healthy in this new year—not just physically, but psychologically as well. “May you make great progress with each passing day in your work and schooling, as well as your cultivation. Amitabha!”

Next, led by H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the attendees recited together Long Life Prayers for His Holinesses the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang and the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang, as well as a prayer for the propagation of Buddhism.

Afterward Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, “We would like to express our sincere gratitude to His Holiness for making this trip to Taiwan. His Holiness is very busy, to the point that every day he has practically no time to rest. As his root disciple, I hope that he does not keep expending too much energy.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche also said, “His Holiness granted me some empowerments this morning, so for him to be able to visit the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center is already a very great blessing for each and every one of my disciples.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche also said, “His Holiness once taught that as long as you have a close relationship with your guru, and can always keep your guru in mind, then even if you are only able to chant ‘Om Mani Padme Hum,’ you will still be able to achieve attainment. We are very grateful that His Holiness could come here to be with us today, so, thank you, Your Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang!”

Finally, His Holiness thanked Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for helping out with the Sravasti project, and asked Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, “How much in total have you contributed for this project so far?” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche replied, “I forgot,” and then thanked His Holiness once more for visiting the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center.

Upon the perfect completion of the puja, the disciples expressed their gratitude for the compassionate teachings of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang and H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Rising to their feet, the disciples paid reverent homage and thanked them in unison as they descended the Dharma throne. This precious, rare, auspicious, and very virtuous affinity that had allowed the Glorious Jewel disciples to meet the Dharma Lord His Holiness in person, as well as to participate in this auspicious Mandala Offering Puja and listen to the Dharma teachings of His Holiness and H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, had only come about as a result of H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate support, protection, and blessings. The disciples of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center all voiced their sincere gratitude to H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for continuously accumulating all the most virtuous of causal conditions for their sake. In addition, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had demonstrated the incomparable gratitude he felt for his guru. The constant efforts Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had made toward the propagation of the Dharma lineage, as well as the unswerving allegiance he had shown to his guru’s teachings, had revealed H. E. Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche as an embodiment of the true significance of the Dharma; a Mahasiddha who had continued to bestow the most thorough and precious teachings upon his disciples.

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Updated on November 2, 2016