His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – March 13, 2016

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

“Today I will continue to expound the Ratnakuta Sutra. Last week I spoke to you about meditation in the Six Paramitas, and its cultivation to steady your mind. The attitude with which one should meditate, about which I spoke last time, is unheard of by most believers who engage in meditation. I am not saying that you have learned the wrong thing before; rather, the aspiration that led you to learn meditation in the first place is incorrect. This is because most people practice meditation while seeking something in return. They think that performing a seven-day meditation retreat will teach them samadhi. However, this attitude is completely different from the meditative state of mind Shakyamuni Buddha said we should have while practicing the Six Paramitas of the Bodhisattva Path. The Ratnakuta Sutra was the basis of all of Lord Jigten Sumgön’s writings and sastras, just as Master Gampopa’s works were based on the theories set forth in the Avatamsaka Sutra. Some people say sutras are not read in Tibetan Buddhism, but they are wrong. Others say that in Tibetan Tantra only Dharmas are performed and mantras chanted, but that, too, is incorrect. Actually, to learn Tantra, one must use Exoteric Buddhism as a foundation. This does not, however, simply mean that being able to speak a few Dharmas and having the appearance of a guru make one well-versed in all of the Exoteric basics. The word ‘Exoteric’ means ‘clear,’ and refers to a guru’s use of language to reveal truths while temporarily pausing the confusion of our minds, or even putting a stop to it completely. Therefore, ‘keeping far away from the confusion of dreams,’ as described in the Heart Sutra, is a reference to the state of mind necessary for anyone aspiring to cultivate the Bodhisattva Path.

“Many of you take a lot for granted. Your approach to things is born out of self-righteous habits, so you ignore all sorts of real phenomena of the world. Cultivation does not mean increasing anything, or chanting a mantra one or two million times, thinking the more you chant, the better you get at it. Nor does it mean if you perform a seven-day meditation retreat your mind will grow calmer. It also does not mean that if you chant a lot you will necessarily accumulate a large amount of good fortune. Reciting the sutras, attending penitential rites, chanting mantras, visualizing, and so on are indeed part of the process of cultivation, but these are merely assisting conditions that can help you practice Buddhism so that one day, eventually, you can attain enlightenment. You might think you are good at chanting and making repentances, or you might see Buddhism as an academic pursuit and assume that researching its history is the same as practicing. If you use these methods to cultivate, however, your mind will become full of attachments. Do we need to know the history of Buddhism? We do, but such knowledge is not a Dharma method of cultivation. Do we need to understand the meaning of Buddhism? Sure we do, but such understanding is not an indication that you can necessarily achieve attainment. As shown repeatedly by many great practitioners in ancient times, academic knowledge is not the same as Buddhist cultivation; it is simply an accumulation of the principles and experiences of humanity from certain regions, eras, or races. Thus, they are not the Dharma. The Dharma taught by the Buddha was not meant to make us throw away our lifestyles, but rather to transform us from ordinary people to practitioners of Buddhism. Many people claim to be practitioners, and I often ask them, ‘Okay, but what are you practicing?’ They tend to answer by telling me what they have chanted, what they have studied, and what repentances they have completed. This, however, is not practice; practice involves amending all behavior that would cause us to reincarnate.

“Recently, I had been reorganizing the staff of the Buddhist Center, and I scolded them even for minor mistakes that had been uncovered. You might think such a trivial issue is no big deal, but over time such problems can pile up, become habit, and eventually grow into much more serious issues. All causes and effects, good and bad, accumulate one bit at a time. These staff members simply do not believe in cause and effect.

“To be able to serve sentient beings is a very good thing. In 2007, I went into retreat on Lapchi Snow Mountain in Nepal at an altitude of 4,500 meters above sea level. After that three-month retreat was over, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang instructed a steward of the monastery to take me to a nearby monastery to see some sacred relics of the Drikung Kagyu Order. Among them was a yak molar. It was a sarira, and Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s sacred appearance had manifested naturally on it. Why did such an auspicious sign appear on the remains of a yak? It was because a long time ago, Lord Jigten Sumgön had instructed a disciple to lead the other disciples into retreat on Lapchi Snow Mountain. The disciple given the instructions had served as a teacher to those in the retreat huts, which were located five thousand meters above sea level. This yak had willingly, and steadfastly, born the difficult burden of carrying the necessary supplies up to the retreat huts, year after year, until it finally died. A yak cannot chant mantras, so how could its remains be qualified to manifest a Bodhisattva’s sacred appearance? Every summer the yak had traveled the same course, from Tibet up to the retreat huts, but not once did the yak pause to wonder, What exactly will I get out of doing all this work? Will I make any mistakes? Will I get scolded for them? Instead, the animal had simply kept doing what it was doing, year after year. You are inferior to a yak! By contrast, you just want to obtain good fortune; you think too much, are afraid of being scolded, and are extremely high-strung. My reflexes are very fast; no one can keep up with me. Just recently I found out that in the past I was nicknamed ‘Eagle Eye.’ How, then, can you possibly be like me? Given that you cannot, you might as well just do as you’re told, like that yak; walking and carrying the burdens assigned to you. When all is said and done, however, you are worse than that yak; you cling to a heap of your own ideas, and you do everything in the hope that your actions will yield merits and good fortune for you. You do not even care that you neglect your promises to others; you think you can simply go and apologize to them later, and that everything will be all right. Saying ‘sorry’ is just a way of keeping someone from being angry with you at that moment, however; the evil cause you have planted already exists. Hence, there is a saying among practitioners of the Bodhisattva Path: ‘Ordinary people are afraid of effects, while Bodhisattvas are afraid of causes.’ You are afraid of making mistakes in everything you do, but in the process, you keep making them anyway, over and over. After committing so many wrongdoings, it is only when your karmic retribution appears that you actually begin to worry. Bodhisattvas, however, understand that karmic retribution results from behavior, so they nip it in the bud during the causal stage by not engaging in certain actions.

“Nowadays there is a saying: ‘Business cannot be done in accordance with the Dharma.’ Who says one cannot implement Buddhism into business? People who claim such things, as well as those who listen to them, show a tendency not to believe in cause and effect or the Dharma. Cause and effect are afraid of you. In your mind, money holds the place of greatest importance; you only care about profits and losses, and not making good on your promises. Whenever you agree to do anything, you should act customarily, reasonably, and lawfully; do not behave unethically or immorally, and keep all of your promises while observing the law of cause and effect. Although there is a colloquialism that goes, ‘Look out for yourself, or heaven and earth will combine to destroy you,’ it does not mean that you should agree to commit a wrongdoing or crime and then make good on that promise; if it was an unreasonable venture, you should never have agreed to do it in the first place. If you see something that might benefit you, don’t agree to do it right away, lest you find yourself in the position of having to stop halfway through and renege on that promise after discovering that your interests would be damaged if you continued. If you conduct yourself in such a manner, you will be treated the same way by others in the future. If you think you can swindle people out of money first, and then do good deeds later to make up for it, you are mistaken; good is good, and bad is bad: They do not cancel each other out. If they did, then the Buddha would not have needed to speak about cause and effect. Alas, people in this world do not believe in those; they think they can simply say ‘sorry’ for their wrongdoings, and then everything will be alright. As I have said many times, apologizing is just a way of keeping your adversaries from getting angry at you at that moment; the evil seeds you have planted with your actions, however, already exist. No matter what ethnic group you belong to, and no matter what environment you live in, you still must uphold the ethics and morals of being human. For some people, the fear of not being able to live up to Buddhism’s standards prevents them from taking refuge, because they worry that if they do take refuge, then making mistakes will have even graver consequences. In actuality, once you have taken refuge, I will correct you as soon as I see you make a mistake, and give you the causal condition to amend your ways. If you do not take refuge, therefore, and just keep on committing wrongdoings, where will you end up? In hell! Why should you take refuge? It is because your guru has the ability of knowing about the causes people tend to plant.

“Last week, for example, a disciple told her liaison that she had not registered to participate in the puja due to work obligations. This liaison, however, forgot to inform the disciple’s group leader, so she was reported as having registered but failed to attend. I was presented with such list of names; had I not noticed the mistake, and instead had gone ahead and instructed that this disciple be told that her failure to attend meant she would no longer be allowed to participate in the future, then wouldn’t that have done her great harm? Why did that liaison neglect to report the situation? It was because this disciple is not considered an important figure at the Buddhist Center; she is neither director, nor supervisor, nor group leader. As a result, her liaison ‘forgot’ to report that she would be absent. This is a form of bullying, and is absolutely detestable!

“Also last week, an ordained disciple brought a Buddhist statue to implore for it to be prepared. I agreed, and asked a disciple on the Dharma Affairs Team to receive it for me. When I thought of it this week, I asked about it, but apparently that disciple on the Dharma Affairs Team asked the ordained disciple to take the statue home without first obtaining my permission. The former thought that I had simply said to receive the statue without giving specific instructions on what to do with it. Afraid of being scolded for asking my instructions, he had thought he could just send the ordained disciple home with the statute, and that the issue would then be over. This behavior is the same as breaking a promise made by me. These days there is a popular saying out there that goes, ‘This Rinpoche or this Dharma master is great; it’s the disciples beneath him who are bad, so you should not go to that Buddhist center.’ If you do a poor job, will people remember your name? Of course not; they will only remember your guru’s name. This is why I urge those of you who are monastics not to try to gain followers and deliver sentient beings, because it is very hard work. Luckily, I am careful and remembered this matter; otherwise, that ordained disciple would have felt very awkward. It was an example of someone without any sense of responsibility, who did not know what to do and neglected to ask for instruction. The first condition of practicing Buddhism is to learn to take responsibility for all of the actions you have committed throughout your past lives, including this one. Some of your actions have been good, while others have been bad. When you don’t take any responsibility, then the effects the deeds with good responsibility would skip you by too. Why, then, is it that so many people practice Buddhism, yet so few of them can transform their fate? It is because they are not willing to take responsibility, and they are careless in what they do because they do not practice the Six Paramitas as a result of being attached to their own views.

“One day, an employee picked up more than NT$2,000 from the floor at the entrance to the Glorious Jewel Chinese Medicine Clinic. Someone had just happened to drop it there, and this employee was on his way in to work, so he handed the money to another disciple employed at the Clinic named Hu. You all call this disciple ‘Mama Hu,’ but I call her ‘Troublemaker Hu.’ The sound ‘Hu’ is similar to the sound ‘Wu’, which means an absence of something, and she is always hoping to avoid all trouble. At the time, Troublemaker Hu wanted this employee to deal with the lost-and-found money himself by taking it over to the police station, because she was very busy and had a lot on her plate. When I learned of this, I immediately told Troublemaker Hu to handle the situation herself, and as it turned out that another disciple had dropped the money. Because Troublemaker Hu thought this was such a minor matter, she was originally unwilling to help. Why does she suffer from bad health? It is because of things like this; she has a no-good personality. You all are people who can only deal with small matters; it is not within your purview to handle national affairs, given that you cannot even do a good job of taking care of your own households! We must begin with the little things; as long as they are within the scope of custom and reason, we should always try to help. Even if doing so is not customary and reasonable, as long as they are not bad deeds, we still should give assistance. The hard thing about practicing Buddhism is amending one’s ways; this is the most difficult project in the universe. Why is that? People never believe that they are scoundrels or bad apples; they all say they are good.

“I travel back and forth between Japan and Taiwan; I often point out that despite having a population of more than a hundred million, the former has fewer homicide cases than the latter. Taiwan touts a reputation for having so many people who chant the Buddhas’ names and make prostrations before the Buddha, so why are so many murders committed here? Why do so many automobile accidents occur in this country? None of you has any feelings about this, because your family members have not been killed. But have you seen on the news just how many people are being killed here? How many car accidents happen every day? How many folks have died from the flu? With so many people practicing Buddhism in this country, why are there so many bad occurrences? We should ask ourselves: Have we amended our ways? We each do as we please, allowing our minds to go lax, with the intent of repenting for our actions at a later date. I am not saying that the Dharma method of repentance is not good, but after repenting, you must start again at zero; none of your previous cultivation will count, because you have already broken the precepts. You are all breaking the precepts; the Four Immeasurables you chant daily are your oath, a promise of what you plan to do—yet you all fail to keep your promises.

“Troublemaker Hu would not even assist with a minor issue, refusing without giving the matter any consideration at all—and proving that it is her habit to not help others. For her, everything is fine as long as nothing bad happens to her family. She does not even have the generosity to give alms. When you are able to help the Buddhist Center out, this is a result of your causes, conditions, good fortune and opportunities; however, you still manage to make mistakes over and over. At the moment our Buddhist Center has nearly 1,500 disciples. If we grow any more, then we simply won’t have margin for mistakes. So does that mean you should be extremely nervous, and afraid of taking responsibility or being scolded? No; it means you must train yourselves to be more responsible, because people with a sense of responsibility will not commit wrongdoings.

“Yesterday, Saturday, while I was receiving believers, the attending disciple standing next to me made a mistake as soon as she opened her mouth. When I asked her which disciple had introduced a certain disciple to the Buddhist Center, this attendant began to talk about the various mistakes of that ‘evil disciple who used to be here.’ I explained to her, ‘What you have just said is slander. It is not for you to describe any disciple as “evil,’ unless you are calling yourself that. You must not, however, criticize others.’ The attendant had thought that I would be happy to hear her speak that way, but on the contrary, her words did me harm. You are all such scoundrels! Thus, propagating the Right Dharma is very hard work. According to the Ratnakuta Sutra, you have not even met the standards set forth by the Ten Meritorious Acts, let alone set foot upon the Bodhisattva Path. The reason I still haven’t completely given up on you is not that I need you; it is that you need the Dharma.

“I refused almost NT$4 million worth of offerings yesterday. All I can do, therefore, is work hard to earn money, and also, Dharma Protector Achi assists me to earn a little bit of money so that I can go on to help even more people. You all come here in such a hurry to repent, yet you only make offerings after you have committed a wrongdoing. If you had the money, then why didn’t you make an offering earlier? If you only come here to repent and then make offerings after you have made a mistake, does that mean your hope is to buy off your guilt? Your view is that in ordinary times, you do not need to make offerings; you only reach your hands into your wallets when you have a problem. Even if you have come to buy off your guilt, it’s not like you are bringing me your entire family fortune. By what reasoning do you think you can atone for your wrongdoings by simply spending a bit of money? Atonement for one’s sins is an aspect of non-Buddhist religions; do you think we preach that sort of thing here? You all need to shape up; this year has not long begun, yet already so many incidents have occurred. As Buddhist practitioners, we should care about what happens in society. You feel nothing for the victims of tragedies, because their flames did not reach your home. As long as just one of you starts to do good deeds, you will have an opportunity to begin to affect others around you. After affecting two or three, your influence will gradually spread until you have influenced many people. Only in this way can Taiwan change, and the same is true of the world. If a war breaks out between our neighboring countries, you will suffer from its adverse effects, too; even if some people might gain financial profit from such a conflict, they will not be able to hold on to such wealth for very long. Why are people so hesitant and fearful? The situation of the world is very unstable, and there appear to be a lot of issues; it is exactly because no one has changed their tendency toward greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt. People are constantly scheming against each other, trying to think of ways to take other people’s money and stuff it into their own pockets, all the while endeavoring to hold on to their own wealth. Will this do any good to the economy? Will this lead to a fair society?

“In speaking about the Ratnakuta Sutra, I am not trying to dazzle you with my skills at expounding the sutras. Shakyamuni Buddha taught the Dharma in this way two or three thousand years ago, so I am endeavoring to teach it the same way now. In the future it will continue to be taught in this manner, too; the Dharma cannot be distorted. Therefore, one must not twist or misrepresent the Dharma for the sake of fame or profit; if those who propagate Buddhism have no grasp on this, they should not accept offerings, as that can be very dangerous. Yesterday was Saturday, and while receiving believers, I refused nearly NT$4 million in attempted offerings. Was my mind stirred by this? It was, but what was it that affected me? It was the thought of how best to refuse those offerings. Is money important? It is, but not to the point that we should go against the Dharma taught by Shakyamuni Buddha and His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. After all, I am not in it for the money.

“I have expounded the Six Paramitas of the Bodhisattva Path, and you must begin cultivating them. They can definitely help you in your daily life and even in your business, because as long as you conduct yourselves in accordance with the Six Paramitas, you will not suffer any accidents. Many people doing business end up with lawsuits to deal with—either getting sued or having to take people to court; in both cases, they quarrel constantly. This is because they have not conducted their business in accordance with the Dharma. There is no mention in the sutras that doing business is an extremely evil act; if we were not allowed to do business, the Buddha would definitely have said so. Monastics cannot do business, of course; in the sutras it is written that the Buddha called monastics bhiksus, or ‘mendicants’.’ That means they must renounce all lifestyles whose goals are fame and profit, so they naturally are not allowed to engage in business. They also may not even do the tiniest of business deals for any reason, even to get something they need; this even includes simply selling something. Different rules apply to lay practitioners; we can do business, because the ones we are trying to deliver are different from those whom monastics are trying to deliver.

“Therefore, the aspiration to cultivate the Six Paramitas of the Bodhisattva Path represents the difference between our way of life and that of the average person. We must not live in a manner that we ourselves think is correct; rather, we must live according to the Buddha’s standards. The Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas are standards for all the Buddha’s disciples to follow; if you do not live by them, then you are not a disciple of the Buddha, and can only call yourself a believer. Likewise, just because you eat vegetarian, make prostrations to the Buddha, and recite the sutras does not mean you are the Buddha’s disciple; you are still just a believer, because you have not met the standards of body, speech, and mind set forth by the Buddha. Thus, I would scold you for a very small transgression, which might be earthshattering for you, so as not allowing you any chances to constantly accumulate evil karma, but I would also give you many opportunities to accumulate good karma. Therefore, as the guru of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, I do not scold you just for the sake of scolding; I do it because your behavior influences your practice, so of course I would stop you from doing anything bad. There are those who think I have this many disciples because I reprimand people, so they try the same thing, only to send their disciples running away. When I scold you I am not targeting your personal lives; I do it to eliminate the hindrances you encounter along your path to Buddhist cultivation.

“Last week I explained the state of mind one should have while cultivating meditation in the Six Paramitas. You should not rely on anything. If you wish to depend on any particular attitude or matters when practicing meditation, then you are not cultivating meditation in the Six Paramitas; instead, you are engaging in non-Buddhist meditation. When I was in my forties, after I had completed my first retreat, I asked His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang whether it was necessary for me to study the Madhyamaka Sastra. His Holiness said, ‘For you, there is no need. It is enough for you to master the Mahamudra.’ The Mahamudra is Madhyamaka. Some people do need to study the Madhyamaka Sastra, of course, but can written explanations of this sastra teach you to understand what “the middle way” is? Of course not; instead, you should continuously practice the Dharma in accordance with your guru’s teachings. Once you possess sufficient causes and conditions, you will naturally be able to comprehend the meaning of Madhyamaka. There is no special mention of Madhyamaka in the Ratnakuta Sutra; it merely includes instructions on what we may or may not do. Actually, however, these do in fact refer to “the middle way”, or Madhyamaka. You therefore must have a clear understanding of what your attitude while practicing meditation should be; only then can you begin to cultivate prajna.

“In the sutra it is written, ‘Good man, how do Bodhisattvas practice prajna?’ Here the word ‘prajna’ is not explained, but there is a sutra called the Great Prajna Sutra about which the Buddha expounded for a long time. Prajna is the wisdom of Emptiness. All sentient beings possess equal wisdom. That being the case, why are some able to attain Buddhahood while others remain in the Hungry Ghost or Animal Realms? ‘Equal wisdom’ refers to our fundamental wisdom, which is the seed for attaining Buddhahood possessed by every single sentient being. However, if this fundamental wisdom has no causal conditions with which to develop, it will be covered up by the Five Poisons—the greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt we accumulate throughout our lifetimes—and we consequently will not be able to see it. By this I do not mean with our eyes; rather, we will not be able to realize this treasure that we each possess deep down. Another name for fundamental wisdom is the ‘Embryo of Awakening.’

“How do we develop our fundamental wisdom? Ordinarily, we use our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind —all producing our senses of sound, sight, smell, taste, touch, and idea—to get through our everyday lives, but these comprise neither wisdom nor the essence of the Buddha; rather, they are conditioned Dharmas. Hinayana cultivation involves keeping from reincarnating by putting a stop to the function of the six forms of consciousness—perceived by eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind—one by one. Cultivating the Vehicle of Bodhisattvas includes transforming the senses perceived by the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body into the Five Wisdoms. Practicing Vajrayana Buddhism involves treating the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body as the essence of the Buddha, and then immediately transforming them into the Buddhas of the Five Directions. By way of cultivation, we transform our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body, on which we rely to live, into wisdom. Can you do this just because you want to? Will learned wisdom emerge without your even thinking about it? What we call ‘wisdom’ is completely different from worldly ‘intelligence,’ and it is made of neither mundane theory nor worldly academic knowledge. No matter how remarkable, smart, or capable you are, without the help of wisdom you cannot break away from reincarnation and go on to help sentient beings do the same. If you do not possess learned wisdom, then you cannot cease to reincarnate or liberate sentient beings from reincarnation. How, though, can learned wisdom be developed? It requires causal conditions and time. Once you have opened up your learned wisdom, it will combine with your fundamental wisdom; only then can you use the Dharma to help yourself and other sentient beings. Learned wisdom comes from our recognition and understanding of the Dharma, from acting in accordance with all of the Dharma methods taught by our guru, and by continuously accumulating the resources of good fortune, merits, and wisdom. If you have wisdom but no good fortune and merits, you will grow haughty; if you possess good fortune and merits but no wisdom, you will grow ignorant. Thus, the two must be cultivated hand-in-hand. The Six Paramitas comprise the Dharma method of cultivating good fortune, merits, and wisdom all at the same time.

“This ‘Troublemaker Hu’ has not cultivated giving, one of the Six Paramitas. Even such a minor matter counts as practicing generosity. When that company employee picked up the money in the doorway to the Clinic, he surely assumed a customer had dropped it. Moreover, being in a hurry to get to work, he had asked Troublemaker Hu to help him take care of it. If I had been the one to pick up the money, and had instructed Troublemaker Hu to deal with it, she most certainly would have; she felt, however, that if an unimportant colleague picked up some cash in front of the Clinic, it was none of her business. This is a behavior of someone with discriminating mind.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked a disciple who is an ophthalmologist, “Does this Troublemaker Hu have one eye bigger than the other?” The doctor-disciple answered, “She does indeed; the size of her pupils differ by about two to three millimeters.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, “No wonder! She can only see big things, and small things are invisible to her. I specialize helping unimportant people, yet Troublemaker Hu only helps important ones.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked, “Why does she have different-sized eyes?” The doctor-disciple answered, “There are two types of phenomena whereby a person’s pupils can differ in size; one is physiological, while the other is pathological. Disciple Hu’s eyes fall into an abnormal category.” After instructing this ophthalmologist-disciple to give Disciple Hu an eye examination, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued: “When one has a discriminating mind, whether the difference in eye size is the result of a physiological or pathological phenomenon, it is the mind that discriminates in the way of only looking at important figures while disregarding people of lesser standing. I am constantly teaching you from the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas, yet you all refuse to listen. As such, there is no way you can cultivate the Six Paramitas. Without them, how can you consider yourselves to be on the Bodhisattva Path?! In this Age of Degenerate Dharma, whether you are a monastic or a lay practitioner, only the Six Paramitas of the Bodhisattva Path can help us to break away from reincarnation; no other Dharma method is effective, because you do not have what it takes to become arhats. For example, an ordained disciple came to ask for permission to go to participate in penitential rites in America. This is not the cultivation of an arhat; if he were trying to become an arhat, he would have cut all attachments clean off.

“This Disciple Hu, ever since she was young, has always had a discriminating attitude. As soon as the opportunity to be of service to a sentient being presented itself, she declined it. This is because it has always been her habit to avoid having to go to any trouble, an indication of her lack of compassion. She had not cultivated the ‘giving’ part of the Six Paramitas, so when someone came looking for her help, she turned him away. It is strange that you will drop your money in the street but not here in the Buddhist Center.

“Given that none of you can practice the paths of Sravaka and Pratyakabuddha, you have no choice but to rely on a guru. However, your guru is impermanent, too; he could cease to exist at any time. You should not assume that just because I have agreed to perform the Phowa for you, it means you are definitely going to pass away before I do. Who knows? I might die first. I have already been expounding the Ratnakuta Sutra for a long time, but this is just ‘volume one;’ there is still a ‘volume two.’ I am taking so long not due to arbitrary digressions; I am speaking to you of my realizations, over the course of my Buddhist practice, of the truths spoken by the Buddha. At the slightest mishap, in the briefest moment of incaution, or the instant we allow ourselves to relax our discipline, we can find ourselves committing wrongdoings! Why do I know that Disciple Deng had to go to work? It is because she would never fail to show up without a reason. However, her liaison forgot to report her absence. Because Disciple Deng was not a group leader or on the board of directors, the liaison thought a simple apology for the incident was sufficient. You must not bully people. Sentient beings are all equals; they all possess fundamental wisdom and the chance to attain Buddhahood. This is why we may not take life or eat meat. If you want to cultivate the Bodhisattva Path and the Dharma, then how can you have superfluous thoughts? How can you bear to eat the flesh of sentient beings? The real way of releasing living creatures as a work of merit is to not have any murderous thoughts. As soon as you think about killing, you have broken the precept against it. Releasing living creatures does not simply mean going to the markets, buying some fish, chanting mantras or reciting from the sutras, and then releasing them into the ocean. Reason would dictate that with so many people in Taiwan releasing living creatures, there should not be so many murder cases or automobile accidents. If everyone were refraining from killing and eating meat, then that should influence others to follow suit; why, then are the marketplaces still so full of chickens, birds, and so on being sold so that people can buy and release them?

“It is written in the sutras that monastics must not raise pets. Why is that? The only reason such market for pets exists is that there are people who want to raise them; this demand is why they do things that go against the Dharma. It is stated in the sutras that monastics must not raise raccoons or cats because these two types of animals have a very ingrained habit of killing. In England, a certain television show conducted a survey and found that a certain cat in a rural village killed more than ten birds each day. It did not do this out of hunger; it simply killed them. You might say it could’ve been fed vegetarian food, but as soon as it went outdoors, it would kill birds again. Don’t feel sorry for it, worry about how long it can live, or if there is anyone to take care of it; these are all results of its causes, conditions, and good fortune. In everything we do these days, we need wisdom before lending a hand. Whenever we give our help, we must do it wisely. In this evil time of the Five Turbidities, with its dazzlingly colorful and multifaceted distractions, we must be very cautious, because the tiniest mistake can cause us to fall into the clutches of cause, effect, and reincarnation. Therefore, you should use the methods the Buddha taught as your guidelines. This is neither intimidation nor superstition; nor am I trying to give you rules about what you absolutely can or cannot do. Rather, I am telling you to base your actions on the norms of Buddhism and Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings. The Buddha would never harm or deceive us, so why are you still unwilling to leap into action? It is because you still have not made a firm resolution to do so.

“If you feel that practicing Buddhism will conflict with your lifestyle, it is because you still haven’t become resolved to cultivate. Is it true that you cannot do business if you practice Buddhism? Of course not; cultivation does not require that we give up every single aspect of our lives. The Buddha taught that if we transform our minds, then our behavior will follow, as will our speech. This Troublemaker Hu has been confirmed by an expert to have one eye larger than the other, so I can forgive her, but I still cannot condone her behavior, because she has not changed; she puts no thought toward making life more convenient for others, and her position of authority has gone to her head. Authority comes from good fortune that has accumulated over one’s past lives—but if you have it, you should use it to help people, not make them fear you. Only this sort of authority is useful.

“Some people come to implore for wisdom, and I often ask them, ‘Why do you want it?’ The supplicants usually answer that they wish to do better in school. This, however, has nothing to do with wisdom, which is related to the karma you have accumulated through your past lives. It has to do with whether or not you have read the sutras in your past lives. If you had read a lot of them in your past lives, then you will naturally do well in academia in this one. When reading the sutras it is not necessary to understand their contents. However, as long as you read them in your past lives, you will do better in school in this lifetime than other people.

“Many people believe that if they cultivate prajna, it will make them more capable of dealing with people and handling issues. This notion is erroneous. The ethics and morality we use when interacting with people and addressing problems are based on the differing cultural backgrounds of our various regions. Do you think that if you have wisdom, others will treat you better? If so, you are wrong. Wisdom is used to help others; it is a tool that benefits sentient beings. If you use it to benefit yourself, it is merely intelligence, which is for your own good. Only Buddhism speaks of prajna. Everything we obtain in this lifetime is the result of our actions in our past lives, just as the way we behave now will determine what we get in the future. The outcome of the next lifetime is produced by how one acts right now, a fact which is only taught in Buddhism. Other religions do not include the Dharma method of prajna, so they preach the use of consciousness to do things—by separating them into what we like and what we dislike. Last week I mentioned that dedications made through meditation are non-discriminating dedications. Dedication is giving! We do not discriminate by giving less to a sentient being in the Hell Realm just because that place is evil, or more to one in the Heaven Realm because that place is good; that is how that disciple Hu thinks.

“‘Non-discriminating’ means sentient beings all have the same essence. The reason they incarnate into different realms is that they do not have the same karma. However, karma also has the nature of Emptiness and can be transformed; it is neither eternal nor static. When we practice any Dharma, we must do it with an attitude of fairness and equality for all. It does not matter if someone has harmed us or not, either in this life or in a past one; as long as he or she needs the Dharma, we must give our assistance. I do things with prajna in mind, so I naturally have no feelings of hatred or resentment or have any attachments. I therefore do not dwell on love or ponder the question of who might have hurt me. Once you have stopped thinking about these sorts of problems, will you continue to suffer? Where does suffering come from? It comes from your thoughts of people who have done you harm or let you down. On the light side, such thoughts cause you to hold a grudge; on the heavy side, they lead you to revenge. Will that make you happy? No, it won’t. Is this just a way of expressing a very passive attitude—such that if someone hurts you, you should simply allow it? Speaking from the point of view of cultivating forbearance, then yes. After all, if that person is able to harm you, it naturally has to do with cause and effect.

“Take that disciple, for example, who broke her left hand in a car accident. When she came to repent on Saturday, I asked her which hand she had used in the past to grasp a chicken for other to kill. She answered that she had used her left, and sure enough, that was the hand she had broken. Her karmic retribution was very obvious; having broken that hand was a direct result of having used it to grasp a chicken for other to kill. Did someone harm her? Of course not; her karmic retribution matured, that’s all. I would not presume to say that I have a very clear understanding of cause and effect, but at least I am able to differentiate good causes from evil. If I see you creating evil seeds for yourselves, do you think I will sit by idly and not block or stop you? Do you think I’ll let you keep on accumulating evil causes? This is why I use the Dharma method of kicking you out, punishing you, and scolding you.

“A practitioner should not ask, ‘When will my fundamental wisdom develop? When can I obtain learned wisdom?’ These will be yours once you are in possession of the right causes and conditions. This comes from continuously using the Six Paramitas to transform your Six Consciousness from Six Roots—eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. If you can do that, then you will naturally unlock your wisdom without needing to implore for it. Some people specialize in cultivating the Dharma of Bodhisattva Manjusri; they think Bodhisattva Manjusri represents wisdom and can help them unlock it. This is not true. Practicing the Dharma of Bodhisattva Manjusri will just help you remove some of the hindrances to your future cultivation of prajna; it does not mean you will immediately become smarter than others, unlock your wisdom, or obtain the ability to speak in a smoother and more connected manner to people and about things. Some people criticize by asking, ‘If Buddhism is about cultivating compassion, then why does Bodhisattva Manjusri wield a jeweled sword, a weapon?’ This sword, however, is a symbol implying that wisdom, like a very sharp blade, can cut away all afflictions. Therefore, those hoping to cultivate prajna must have a very sharp root capacity in order to succeed. Your do not have it, therefore, the only way for you to cultivate prajna is to listen; there are no other Dharma methods that can help you, and you should not have your own ideas about this. Your ideas derive from your eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind; they have nothing to do with prajna. Do not expect that you can unlock your wisdom just by meditating every day.

“In the sutra it is written, ‘Good man, Bodhisattvas constantly contemplate the liberation of sentient beings. After liberating sentient beings, Bodhisattvas resume such contemplation.’ Bodhisattvas are forever thinking about how to use all of the Dharmas they have learned to liberate sentient beings. This means they are not thinking about themselves; all of their thoughts are on how to help and benefit sentient beings. Cultivating prajna does not make one more formidable than others, able to attain enlightenment, or become a Bodhisattva. Why do I keep kicking more and more people out of here? It is because all of my thoughts are bent toward helping sentient beings. Sometimes, when eating out, if I see a pregnant woman, I’ll even tell her that if she comes to see me shortly before she gives birth, I will help her. If she believes me, then at least I can urge her to eat vegetarian during the last few months of her pregnancy.

“So how can people cultivating the Bodhisattva Path reject anything or anyone that gives them trouble, the way Troublemaker Hu does? Practitioners of the Bodhisattva Path are not afraid of trouble. If I were afraid of trouble, why would I have allowed you all to come here? That disciple who shared her story on stage last week did not tell us that she was a doctor; she just said she was someone who works in the medical field. She cannot even save her own life or cure her own illnesses, so she did not dare to say she was a doctor for fear that people would stop wanting to be her patients anymore. Why did I know that a piece of her son’s heart was missing as soon as I held him? It was because my every thought is about how best to benefit sentient beings.

“The line, ‘After liberating sentient beings, Bodhisattvas resume such contemplation,’ means a Bodhisattva has another thought: ‘I deliver countless worlds of sentient beings.’ This means the Bodhisattva Path is not simply about practicing here; He emanates as many sentient beings as might appear. A Bodhisattva can emanate in countless forms and travel to every world to liberate sentient beings; mastering this ability is an indication of achieving the level of Bodhisattva’s Dharmakaya. You cannot do this. In the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, it is written that Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha can transform into emanations that visit billions of worlds to liberate sentient beings. However, Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha also declared humbly that he was acting ‘by virtue of the Buddha’s majestic, miraculous power.’ Do not assume that having a few believers to make offerings to you means you have achieved attainment, or that just because you are good at chanting the Great Compassion Mantra, it means you are as compassionate as Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. The fact that you have a few people supporting you might actually be a karmic hindrance that has accumulated over your past lives!

“Practicing the Bodhisattva Path means devoting every single thought toward the liberation of sentient beings. If we cannot liberate sentient beings right now, at least we can think about how to serve them. When such an opportunity arises, we should give our help, as long as we can do so reasonably, legally, and ethically. You should not refuse to help the way Troublemaker Hu does. You might think what she did was a minor transgression, but for a Buddhist practitioner, it is not so. It also showed that Troublemaker Hu has not cultivated the Six Paramitas. She pushed away an opportunity to help as soon as it arose. Who among you has never troubled me for anything? Have I ever refused to give assistance? I have only refused money. If I had accepted all of the money that has ever been offered to me, then I could have built a new monastery a long time ago. The reason I cannot afford to do that right now is that I made all of those people keep their money. You are the reason that banks in Taiwan have more and more money.

“The first four lines of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s Dharma text are, ‘All Buddhas, Right Dharma and Noble Sangha, I constantly pay reverence to you under whom I have sought refuge. The unchanged sentient beings in the Six Realms have aspired to achieve the attainment of the Buddhas.’ This is contemplation of delivering all sentient beings in the countless worlds. When you recite it, you are making a promise, a vow. When you can fulfill it is not important; as long as you implement this vow into your every thought, then your guru, the Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas will help you succeed. I was just an ordinary high school graduate; I never imagined that in this lifetime I would end up liberating sentient beings or achieve the level of a Rinpoche. The thought never even occurred to me. I have merely acted in accordance with what is written in the sutras. Because the sutras instruct us to devote every thought toward benefiting sentient beings, I have done so. Preliminary practice involves having you recite the Three Refuge Prayers and the Four Immeasurables every day; these are very important, because they echo what is written in the lines I just mentioned. Our every thought should be devoted to the liberation of sentient beings via emanations in their countless worlds.

“Why did Troublemaker Hu get scolded? It was because she would not do even a small favor for someone; she refused to help. Why do so many people make mistakes? For the same sort of reason. Why have I not yet banished her? It is because whereas before I had not spoken these two lines from the sutra to you, now I have; if she continues to refuse opportunities to assist others, then she will get kicked out. Even if we are unable to liberate sentient beings from reincarnation, we should have a sound attitude of serving them, and take every opportunity we get, within the bounds of custom, reason, and legality, and as long as we do not violate our ethics or the law of cause and effect. Some people want to help, but have not yet had the opportunity to. We should therefore remember these lines from the sutra.

“The sutra goes on to say, ‘…so as to enter the realm of Nirvana Without Residue.’ Bodhisattvas are always thinking about how to help sentient beings attain Buddhahood, rather than when they themselves might do the same. If other sentient beings cannot attain Buddhahood, then what is the point of your becoming a Buddha? We aspire to attain Buddhahood in order to help sentient beings attain it. According to the oath made by me and by the yidam, as long as a single sentient being remains trapped in reincarnation, I will not attain Buddhahood; rather, I will continue to help sentient beings.

“What does ‘Nirvana Without Residue’ mean? It refers to helping someone to genuinely enter the state of the Buddhas, rather than that of the Pratyekabuddhas. What is Pratyekabuddhahood? Pratyekabuddhas are still burdened with a miniscule speck of dust – the thought of wanting to reach Nirvana. I am still unable to realize this state. Pratyekabuddhas, therefore, in term of the level of the Buddhas is called ‘Nirvana With Residue’. Once this state of samadhi disappears, they will return to reincarnation. For this reason we should cultivate Nirvana Without Residue, which means that in our Buddhist practice, we should go with the flow: You keep on acting in accordance with your individual causal conditions, without hoping or expecting to reach any sort of fruition level in a set period of time. I am an example of this; I have never wondered how many years it will take me to achieve attainment in something. Of course it takes completing a certain number of times in chanting mantras during the three-month retreat, but as for what level of fruition you might attain, there is no need to think about it. If you expect to attain a certain level after ten years, and then something else after twenty years, you are mistaken because these thoughts are ‘with residue’. You need to get there naturally, like the saying, ‘A canal is formed when the water comes.’ Your success will ripen when the conditions are right. Once you have sufficient resources of good fortune and wisdom, your fruition will naturally emerge; there is no need to implore for it. The Dharma expresses the idea of ‘doing things naturally’, but it does not mean you do not need to put any effort into it; rather, you should not pray to finish doing something within a certain period of time. This is different from making plans in your life. As long as you are willing to act and aspire to conform to what I am saying here, you will definitely be able to realize the help given to you by the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and your guru. We do not help you to become omnipotent; rather, we enable you to help sentient beings.

“In the sutra it is written, ‘…and no sentient being has entered the realm of Nirvana.’ This is a continuation of the previous line, ‘…so as to enter the realm of Nirvana Without Residue,’ and echoes the earlier statement that samadhi involves not falling to either side: Not being attached to possessions, and not being attached to Emptiness. Helping sentient beings to attain Buddhahood is a result of their causal conditions. This does not mean the practitioner is amazing, and it does not mean he or she will attain Buddhahood due to having helped a certain number of sentient beings. If you think this way, you are not a Bodhisattva. This was stated in the Diamond Sutra. If you think you are liberating sentient beings, then you are not a Bodhisattva; Bodhisattvas do not think they liberate any sentient being. After listening to everything I’ve been saying so far, you are probably feeling quite scared. Earlier I said that we should act, but here I am saying that we do not need to think about it. What should you do? You should follow my example: Help sentient beings, but then forget about it as soon as you turn your attention to something else. Some of my disciples have taken refuge in me for years, yet I still do not know them. There are many factors that have led to this happening.

“How can you train your mind to be like this? You, by yourself, cannot decide what the consequences of your actions will be. In any worldly matter, you can only succeed with the help of many people. If you expect a good outcome, yet you are blind to the inherent issues and the needs of sentient beings, then you will make a mistake. For those who walk the Bodhisattva Path, the focus of everything they do is on the entire process of it, and on handling every detail involved without neglecting a single aspect. Take these people on the board of directors, for example: They get into all sorts of mischief, and think it’s all fine and that they are not in the wrong as long as I don’t find out and scold them about it. This is because they are attached to a desire to do things well. In the process, they will lose their objectivity, and fail to see a lot of details they have never noticed before. However, you will be fine if you do not grow attached to a good outcome, as long as you are careful not to harm any sentient beings in the process. If you are careful, then you would see the details involved in the process.

“These couple of lines say that despite having helped many sentient beings to attain Buddhahood, Bodhisattvas do not consider themselves to have given such assistance. It is like breathing: You need to do it, but while inhaling and exhaling, you wouldn’t think about the fact that you are breathing. You breathe whether the air is good or bad, and you don’t decide to take extra breaths when there is more oxygen in the air—unless you are wearing a respirator, that is. Liberating sentient beings is the lifeblood of being a Bodhisattva, just as breathing is necessary for us humans to live. It is as if the air is our life. Even when you sleep, you are still breathing, though you are unconscious of doing it. This is because it has become your habit; this is very natural. You cannot grow attached to breathing too much or too little, and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are the same in that they do what they do, quite naturally. A Bodhisattva liberates sentient beings without discriminating between their being good and bad. As I have said in the past, people who are walking the Bodhisattva Path simply act, without being attached to anything at all. If sentient beings accept their help, fine; if not, then that’s fine, too. It doesn’t matter if sentient beings practice Buddhism or not. These all have to do with their individual causal conditions.

“It is written in the sutra, ‘Why so? As the Buddha says, all phenomena are selfless, without sentient beings, lifeless, devoid of nurturing, and without Pudgala.’ Why is that? As the Buddha says, all phenomena—here the word ‘fa’ does not refer to performing any particular Dharma; it means all the matter and forms in the universe that the eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind can sense. Many people try to explain the word ‘selfless’ as transforming one’s individual self into a greater sense of self, and then transforming that into great love; however, this is not a Buddhist explanation. Rather, that explanation is a rather secular saying from the mundane world. In terms of Dharma methods we practice, I once posed the question, ‘What is the “self”?’ If you take away your name, date of birth, and social security number, then what is left of your ‘self?’ Our definition of the ‘self’ these days includes the questions of who your parents are, what your name is, what year you were born, what your job is, and so on. If you take all these away, then what remains? Who are you? You cannot answer. Thus, the definition of one’s ‘self’ tends to have a heap of names piled on it, so the ‘self’ is actually false; it is not real. ‘Selfless’ does not mean the self does not exist; if it did, then how would you practice? What, however, is the origin of the ‘self’? It comes from karma. Karma is impermanent; it changes. We are not real; the self was not born naturally—rather, it was born of causes and conditions, and it will cease to exist according to causes and conditions as well. When we grow attached to the self, we are liable to commit wrongdoings. Once we understand that the self is subject to the law of cause and condition, our attachments will lessen and even disappear entirely. When that happens, we will not feel our ‘selves’ have been deceived or harmed by others.

“Who says you cannot implement the Dharma into your everyday life? You can. I was deceived by a disciple for many years, but I still remained happy and never said anything about it. I had saved his life. This disciple got a kick out of cheating me, but I did not feel like I had been deceived, because he was actually deceiving himself. If I had thought he was deceiving me, then I would have given rise to an affliction and thoughts of annoyance. We must strive to understand where these feelings come from, when we feel that our ‘self’ has been harmed or put at a disadvantage: It comes from greed, hatred, and ignorance. If you feel that the guru is scolding you, and that you are sad, then you are attached to ‘self’; if you feel bad when someone reprimands you, it means you do not believe in cause and effect, and therefore are not a Buddhist practitioner.

“Some people would ask, ‘I am employed in the financial sector, and every minute and every second of every day I am constantly talking about money; can I still practice Buddhism?’ The Buddha did not say people are not allowed to work in finances, but it is your responsibility to inform the people with whom you’re doing business of both the advantages and disadvantages of making deal with you, leaving completely up to them the decision of whether or not to make investments. You must not merely tell them the advantages while hiding the disadvantages and hoping they will not find out about them; nor should you be afraid that they won’t sign the contract and you won’t make any money if you reveal everything to them. You should tell them both the good points and bad points about investing with you; nothing in this world is perfect, after all. Whether or not you are able to make a commission depends on your good fortune, not on how well you might conceal your product’s faults. If you do business in a deceptive manner, then first of all, you will earn less wealth than your good fortune would normally have brought you; secondly, you will not be able to hold onto your money earned in this way; and thirdly, something bad will happen to you. As long as you have good fortune and speak honestly of the pros and cons of doing business with you, then you will earn what is coming to you, and at the very least you will have done so without cheating. As soon as you grow attached to your ‘self,’ you will engage in deception. If you feel that you have been put at a disadvantage or harmed, will you use deception to try to get what you want? Yes, you will. It’s just like that bunch who used to be on the board of directors; they tried to hide everything they did, and keep me out of the loop. If they deceived me, then in the future they will be deceived by others. Why were they attached to the idea that I could not be allowed to find out what they were doing? It is because they were attached to ‘self.’ If you grow attached to ‘self,’ you will have many hindrances in your Buddhist practice. If you are attached to ‘self,’ then when your karma presents itself, you will not be able to do anything to stop it.

“At the beginning of last year (2015), I experienced a major health problem and nearly died. The reason I was able to recover so quickly was that I had constantly been accumulating good fortune. Although I was very ill, I was still able to give advice to a doctor-disciple regarding his daughter, because no matter what I am doing, I always think of sentient beings first, not my ‘self.’ I would not become attached to the worry of whether I would live or die, because for me, the whole purpose of my life is to benefit sentient beings. At the time all I thought about was that a problem had arisen with this karmic body; if I still had any longevity left, then I would use it to continue helping sentient beings. If not, then my life was over, and with such thoughts, I was actually fine. You are all constantly attached to your physical bodies. You eat this food to counter that ailment, or you use that medicine in the hope that it will cure you of some condition or other, but in the end, all of this amounts to an attachment to ‘self.’ I am not saying that you should not see a doctor when you are sick. Buddhist concepts are not meant to cure you of what you are attached to: ‘self;’ when you cure this karmic body, you are temporarily stopping your karma from having effect so that you can have enough time to cultivate good fortune. Once you have accumulated it, no illness can do you any harm. I am the most obvious example of this; I was on the verge of death, but I regained my health so that I could once again scold you or kick you out. Plus, I am doing these things more and more quickly. How was I able to do this? I did it by continuously accumulating good fortune. Why have you still not been cured of your illnesses? It is because you lack good fortune. Why is that? It is because you keep thinking about how to cure your diseases. You cannot cure them. All you need to do is listen; if you do this, then your good fortune is sure to accumulate.

“On the surface, the Six Paramitas appear to be quite abstruse; however, they can be used in your daily life. With regard to ‘selfless’ and ‘without sentient beings,’ it is written in the Diamond Sutra that we must break free of the four forms, and the Ratnakuta Sutra teaches us how to do it: By cultivating kindness, compassion, joy, and giving. Why are you unable to break free? It is because you have not practiced. Like Troublemaker Hu, you push all troublesome things out the door because you have not cultivated kindness, compassion, joy, and giving. You are attached to your ‘self,’ and continue to discriminate between yourself and others. It is not only Troublemaker Hu who has this problem; it includes all of you: If you feel that something is none of your business, you push it onto someone else to deal with; you feel this is fine as long as you are able to keep from getting scolded.

“I must humbly admit that I do not understand this word, ‘Pudgala;’ I’ll have to go and refer to a Buddhist dictionary.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed an ordained disciple to look the word up in a Buddhist dictionary. After researching awhile, the ordained disciple reported that she was unable to find it. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued: “I’ll have to go home and look it up myself; I have a Buddhist dictionary. These days very few Dharma masters would openly admit that they don’t understand something, and say it outright, ‘I don’t understand it.’

“The words, ‘lifeless, devoid of nurturing’ probably refer to the fact that as parents, we should not assume that we are the ones who gave our children life or have nurtured them to adulthood. For example, if someone takes in a stray dog and then thinks he is nurturing it, his thinking is wrong. ‘Lifeless, devoid of nurturing’ does not mean your children have no longevity or there is no one to raise them; it means that because of their causes, conditions, and good fortune they obtain your nurturing and care. Causes, conditions, and good fortune are impermanent. If you hope to raise your children so that they grow up and repay their debt of gratitude to their parents, then you are not cultivating the Bodhisattva Path. Once a child is eighteen years old, his or her parents’ responsibility ends; after that age, people must look after themselves. Some parents keep up the coddling and protecting even when their children are in their thirties or forties; this is why so many adults are dependent on their mothers and fathers. I am a broad-minded father, because I practice the Six Paramitas. Whatever friends or partners my children might meet or marry is up to them; I will not interfere. If they ask for my opinion, I give it, but as for whether or not they listen, that, too, is up to them. If they do not need my advice, then I say nothing; as long as they don’t stir up trouble, then they are happy and so am I. I do not ground my kids, but I do tell them not to stay out too late at night; otherwise they will not be able to get out of bed in the morning. To achieve this level of broad-mindedness, I have applied the Dharma.

“Speaking from the point of view of cultivation, even if it might seem to you that I have saved your life, I actually haven’t. It might appear that I am supporting a great many disciples; however, it is not that I am supporting you, but rather because I am walking the Bodhisattva Path, I am repaying you my debts from my past lives. Once my debt is paid, we will say our goodbyes. I am not attached to how many people I might support, give alms to, or save the lives of. I do not save you for my own sake; if I did, then yesterday I would not have refused millions of dollars in offerings. Why do I save your lives? It is to help you so that one day you can attain Buddhahood. Thus, I do not feel that I have saved you. Why do I say I will only save you once? You now understand this in principle. I do not feel that I have saved your lives; I merely feel that I have helped you. However, I also do not dwell on the number of sentient beings I may or may not have liberated. My behavior should tell you that I am not talking nonsense; this can be verified by reading the sutras.” An ordained disciple reported, “Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s behavior is like that of a Bodhisattva; this can completely be confirmed by the sutras.”

“‘Thusly one practices wisdom and dedicates the wisdom to Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi as an aspiration.’ We use this method to cultivate wisdom, which is learned wisdom. You should not grow attached to your actions or to how many sentient beings you have liberated or plan to liberate, people you have saved or plan to save, or children you have nurtured or hope to nurture. Do not be attached; simply act. This is cultivating the Wisdom of Emptiness. If you are attached to those sorts of things, then you will not be able to transform the karma you have accumulated throughout your past lives. I have seen far too many people like that, including laity, monastics, and practitioners. This is a very subtle trap; if you are not careful, you will fall into it. You must be cautious! Only by cultivating the Bodhisattva Path can you become liberated from reincarnation; you cannot break away from it simply by chanting. I do not know when I will leave this world, and I have no idea where I will go, but you cannot follow me there. That is, of course, unless you are my disciple; while I am around, if you genuinely practice Buddhism in this lifetime, adhere to the rules, and listen, then when you call my name, I will definitely lend you a hand. This is also my vow.

“This is how to cultivate wisdom—both fundamental wisdom and learned wisdom. The latter can be dedicated, while the former does not need to be, because those to whom you would make such a dedication are the same as you; you are all equals. Even an ant is fundamentally the same in essence as I am; being little does not make the ant’s Buddha nature smaller. We are all the same. Therefore, such a dedication does not exist. What we must dedicate is the wisdom we have cultivated in this lifetime and in our past lives. Why must we? It is because this conforms with what was said earlier, about there being no sentient beings that are liberated. If you do not make any dedications and remain attached to your past achievements and the fact that you possess wisdom, then you will fall back into reincarnation. If you make dedications, then you will obtain blessings by virtue of the Buddha’s majestic, miraculous power, as was said by Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha. Making dedications does not mean giving away objects; it means immersing yourself in body, speech, and mind, in accordance with the Dharma, into the great sea of merits of your guru, the Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas. Only after you can be assimilated into that great sea of merits can you obtain enough good fortune to become liberated from life and death, and then go on to help sentient beings. People who are very self-centered cannot succeed in this.

“You young women who have not taken refuge should think long and hard before deciding to practice Buddhism; otherwise, what will you do if your partner has an affair? Whether or not your partner has another partner is related to your causes and conditions, similar to the situation of that disciple who killed a chicken with the consequence of breaking a hand. Everything that happens to you in this lifetime has to do with your causes, effects, and causal conditions. Buddhist practitioners are able to lessen their suffering because they understand and accept cause and effect. When good things happen, we do not feel happy; when bad things happen, we do not feel sad. This is because we understand. Nor do we live very passively, either; rather, we live quite actively. We must amend our habitual modes of thinking. This is a very painful and difficult task.

“Only dedications made to Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi are true dedications; those made to family members or anyone else do not count. I sometimes make dedications to certain people, but those are all designed to give special assistance to them. In Buddhism, Anuttara-Samyak-Sambodhi has a very profound significance. Most importantly, we must practice bodhicitta in the three aspects of body, speech, and mind. The words ‘as an aspiration’ in this section refer to the fact that something is only an aspiration if you are actually practicing it. If you have not cultivated to the point of fulfilling it, it does not mean your aspiration is false; it just means you have not succeeded yet. Of utmost importance is that you listen and follow. We should form aspirations based on the methods taught to us by the Buddha, but we should not try to reinvent the wheel.

“In the sutra it is written, ‘…and then refrains from differentiating wisdom; thus, the Bodhisattva is practicing prajna.’ We often hope to read some sutra that will unlock our wisdom for us, and that by cultivating some Dharma method we will grow wiser, but we should not think this way. The amount each person’s wisdom is revealed is determined by his or her good fortune, merits, causes, and conditions. The way in which others unlock their wisdom might differ from how we do it, but neither method is inherently better or worse. The point is to reach a point where we have unlocked our wisdom. However, to see whether or not people have genuinely unlocked their wisdom one should judge their behavior using the Buddhism’s standard, rather than mundane views. That standard is this: Have all their actions been for the sake of benefiting others so that the latter would become willing to practice Buddhism? Wisdom is not differentiated between great and small. When used in minor matters, of course wisdom appears a bit smaller, just as it appears bigger when used in major matters. It is like comparing the wisdom of the Buddha with that of Bodhisattvas, of course the former seems vaster, but that does not mean it is more amazing; both wisdoms are of the same level. It’s just that the Buddha’s learned wisdom and fundamental wisdom are combined together, and devoid of any fundamental darkness, whereas the wisdom of Bodhisattvas contains a bit of fundamental darkness. Bodhisattvas at different fruition levels possess varying degrees of fundamental darkness, so of course ordinary people have an enormous amount of it by comparison.

“When dark clouds obscure the sun, we feel that its illumination has lessened. Those black clouds are a metaphor for our fundamental darkness: Greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt, as well as other afflictions, have obstructed our illumination. By cultivating the Dharma, we can cause those dark clouds to recede, bit by bit; as they gradually disappear, the light of our wisdom grows visible. Once the clouds of fundamental darkness are all gone, our natural illumination will be completely revealed. The light of the wisdom is like that of the sun. When a dark cloud passes in front of the sun, does the sun’s illumination actually decrease? No, it does not; it remains the same. Each cloud covers up a different area, allowing different levels of light to penetrate. Depending on how thick the clouds are, the light that gets through varies, making it appear that the sun’s luminosity has decreased. However, it is our discriminating minds that make us see it that way; the sun’s illumination has not actually changed. Only after understanding this principle can you rid yourself of arrogance; only then will you stop looking down on other people because you practice Tantra, Zen, or whatever else. Even the tiniest amount of wisdom can help others; once you have it, then you will no longer think that the paths of Sravaka and Pratyakabuddha cannot hold a candle to Mahayana Buddhism, or that the wisdom gained from Vajrayana Buddhism is better than that gained from Mahayana Buddhism, or that Zen Buddhism is purer than the Pure Land Sect. Everyone has different causal conditions; we have all learned and listened to different Dharma methods, that’s all. In order to benefit sentient beings with an impartial mind, we must first possess non-discriminating wisdom. If you have a discriminating mind, then you will be biased just like Troublemaker Hu; you will refuse to take the time to do any minor favors, and only do big favors – you will only help important persons while ignoring those you deem of lesser stature. By examining your actions in your daily life, you can see whether or not you have cultivated, and whether or not you are practicing Buddhism!

“In the sutra it is written, ‘and then refrains from differentiating wisdom; thus, the Bodhisattva is practicing prajna. Good man, when a Bodhisattva-Mahasattva engenders bodhicitta in such a manner, the Bodhisattva is in the bliss of bodhicitta.’ Only once the aforementioned conditions have been met can you attain the bliss of bodhicitta. The bliss of Bodhicitta brings eternal bliss to sentient beings; any other form of happiness is unreal. Sentient beings cannot obtain eternal happiness; this sort of bodhicitta is worldly bodhicitta, not ultimate bodhicitta. Worldly bodhicitta is not bad, but it is conditioned; it is contrived. Ultimate bodhicitta, on the other hand, is Empty in nature. Worldly bodhicitta is produced by conscious thought, but the ultimate bodhicitta practiced by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is Empty in nature, and naturally reveals itself whenever sentient beings are in need. By contrast, you have to think about it first before you decide to help someone, like Troublemaker Hu; she believes minor matters are not deserving of her assistance. If someone were to keel over in the hallway in front of the Clinic and start bleeding profusely, she would go and lend a hand, because she considers that to be a major matter. However, that is the only reason she would be willing to help, for she has a discriminating mind. I’ll say it again: As long as you can do so customarily, reasonably, legally, ethically, and morally, you should help whenever possible. Even if you cannot give assistance, you at least should be mindful. There are so many news reports about unfortunate incidents, and people cultivating the Bodhisattva Path take notice of these. Only after seeing the karma of sentient beings and realizing that this is not how things should be can you urge yourself to make a firm resolution to practice Buddhism, and only then can you gain a clear understanding of the impermanence of life and death. You should not think, That would never happen to me; all I have to do is keep attending the pujas and I will be protected by the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Who can protect you? Only you can, by amending your ways.

“‘Then the World Honored One emphasized the meaning of the teaching by reciting the verse again: “It is like an authentic glorious gem that will not be abandoned by light. It is also like the gold in ore that turns brighter when smelted. So is the nature of Bodhi. The revealed bodhicitta is pure in both sides and will not be taken advantage of by demons.”’

“‘It is like an authentic glorious gem that will not be abandoned by light.’ Our wisdom, our true nature, is like a genuine, precious gem; the light will never leave it. Even if it gets covered by a piece of cloth, as soon as you remove that cloth, its innate illumination will shine forth once again.

“‘It is also like the gold in ore that turns brighter when smelted.’ Our true nature is like gold in ore; when the ore is first extracted, it contains a mix of metals such as copper and so on, so the ore’s worth is not immediately apparent. Only after going through the process of smelting can the brightly shining, valuable, pure gold be revealed. The Dharma smelts us similarly. Our bodies are full of a heap of impurities: Greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt. However, after we are smelted and tempered, we are rid of those impurities, and this allows our wisdom to develop.

“‘So is the nature of Bodhi. The revealed bodhicitta….’ These two lines mean that we originally possessed this bodhicitta, but only by smelting the impurities away from it can we turn it into bodhicitta that shines brightly and radiates warmth. Possessing a Bodhi nature does not necessarily mean we can develop bodhicitta, so you must smelt it until it shines brightly. Only then will you attain a Bodhi aspiration and be able to help sentient beings. This is a process. How can people who have not carried out the Ten Meritorious Acts or cultivated compassion, and who commit wrongdoings all the time, succeed in walking the Bodhisattva Path? By wrongdoings, I mean giving no consideration to the thoughts of others or the affairs of sentient beings, and only worrying about how to avoid getting scolded.

“…is pure in both sides and will not be taken advantage of by demons.’ The two sides mentioned here refer to ‘possession’ and ‘Emptiness,’ both of which are pure; it does not mean they do not exist. You will not become attached to these two sides. You are not aware of that, because by attaining ‘possession’ you or things become stable and unchanging; nor would you think of ‘Emptiness,’ which is the lack of anything, and you will not grow attached to this, either. When we say ‘go along with sentient beings,’ we do not mean to accommodate them; this expression means to go with the flow of their causal conditions, and do not help even when you want to, reluctantly, if certain causal conditions have not yet matured. Also, even after they have matured, we must not stop giving assistance. Going along with sentient beings does not mean pampering them or allowing them to do whatever they want; nor does it mean we should ignore them.

“Last Saturday, a politician came to the Buddhist Center to seek an audience with me. I knew he was a political figure, but scolded him just the same. He requested a private meeting, but I refused; I only grant such requests in the event of a national matter. I am not afraid of offending people. In my shoes, you might have thought, Oh, he’s a politician, and then taken on a different attitude toward this man, but I simply told him the truth; I spoke the Dharma to him. Even if he could not accept what I said, at least he went home with the memory that someone had scolded him, and that recollection might curb some of his behavior in the future. I do not feel that I offended him, because I was speaking the Dharma; whether or not he was able to listen has to do with his own causes and conditions. If I had allowed the Eight Winds of the mundane world to sway me, causing me to give special consideration to his position as a political figure and tell him what he wanted to hear, then I actually would have done him harm. In the sutras it is written, ‘As soon as the Dharma enters your ears, it will plant a seed of enlightenment that will last forever.’ I spoke the Dharma to him that day, thereby planting a seed in his consciousness so that one day he might have the opportunity to practice Buddhism. Actually, scolding is not always necessary; I also use the Dharma to speak about real issues. Some people might have taken pity on him first and accommodate him so that the person might give rise to faith, and eventually come to practice Buddhism that way, but actually such a method cannot be used.

“It seems that a certain person with cancer waited until chemotherapy had caused him to yowl in agony before he came imploring for my blessings to relieve him of his pain. I told him, ‘That is impossible; those cancer cells are your own cells, and killing your own cells would not cure you, of course.’ He was eating poison pills, on the one hand while wishing for an end to his pain on the other. How could he possibly get what he wanted? If I were attached to one side, either ‘possession’ or ‘Emptiness’, I could have allowed him to feel my compassion by blessing him and then speaking some nice-sounding words, as such, in the future, even he does not get better, he will not blame me either. I could have done this sort of thing, but should I have? No. Speaking to him honestly and straightforwardly signified that I was not attached to whether or not this believer would come seeking my assistance again in the future; what would happen would happen, in accordance with causes and conditions. I must tell him the truth by following the Buddha’s teachings, because only by being honest with him can I keep myself from falling into reincarnation.

“In the Ratnakuta Sutra it is written that in the Age of Degenerate Dharma, practitioners will distort the Dharma and mislead believers with flattery in order to obtain fame and profit. I would never distort the Dharma by uttering falsehoods. Therefore, I have merely learned that I should keep both sides of ‘possession’ and ‘Emptiness’ pure. Practitioners of the Bodhisattva Path do not fuss over fame or profit, nor are they attached to ‘possession’ or ‘Emptiness’, and neither can influence their aspiration to help sentient beings attain Buddhahood. If they obtain ‘possession’, they will not feel happy; likewise, they will not feel a sense of loss if they obtain ‘Emptiness’. This is because they do not feel that they are liberating sentient beings.

“‘…and will not be taken advantage of by demons.’ Why are you plagued with sickness demons? It is because you are not pure in both sides. If you are walking the Bodhisattva Path, then you must keep both sides pure. If you are not yet able to achieve this, then you should keep a lower profile; you should not be in such a hurry to deliver sentient beings. This is why it was stated earlier that we first must contemplate; before we act, it is of utmost importance to think and contemplate first. Just thinking about liberating sentient beings will not get the job done, but careful contemplation like that will keep the demons from taking advantage of you. All of this is mentioned in the Surangama Sutra, too, so why have you forgotten? It is because no one dares to scold monastics. There are fewer and fewer monastics these days, to the point that some temples have no one to worship in them. The only reason I dare to say what I say is that it is all based on what is written in the sutras; I did not make it up. How can demons take advantage of you? They do it by way of your attachment to ‘possession’, which includes your tendency to think about affairs related to fame and profit. Once you become attached to ‘Emptiness’, you will cease to want to do anything at all, and will become very passive.

“Today I have been speaking about the Six Paramitas, which are the standards of behaving as an upright person that you should aspire to whether you are a monastic or of the laity. Aspiring to these standards is vital, no matter how well or to what degree you do it. In Buddhism we do not lay importance on how well or how poorly a person practices; the important thing is to practice, and to do so diligently, without planning on a specific time frame within which to achieve attainment. If you keep doing this, then one day you are sure to achieve results; no anticipation is necessary. The results will come to us in that final second when we die. Even if you have a lot of disciples, it will be of no use if you cannot resolve the matter of your life and death when you are dying; the same is true even if you have a very magnificent temple: If you are unable to dictate the terms of your life and death, then such achievements will be useless. This is why the Buddha specially taught that only by revealing one’s bodhicitta and keeping both sides pure will one be able to prevent demons from taking advantage of you. Be sure to remember this! Be careful! You should not let your expectations get too high. First, begin with contemplation; ponder each and every idea. Can you definitely succeed? That is not important. While practicing Buddhism, I simply used my every waking thought to help sentient beings, as taught by the Buddha. By doing this all along, I was somehow unaccountably elevated and became a Rinpoche. So why have you not been elevated? You have all made such a huge aspiration, becoming ordained, so why have you not yet been elevated to the level of Rinpoche? Right now you are being taught by someone speaking broken Mandarin with a Cantonese accent. Why is that? It is because you do not act according to the Dharma, and you have been walking a wrong path. That, however, does not matter, because I am dragging you back to the right path. So you should listen.

“I am not talking about what you should do about what you have learned before. If you had not practiced or cultivated in the past, then you would not possess the good fortune, causes, and conditions that allowed you to listen to today’s teachings. There is no right or wrong; it simply means that your mind had not been immersed within the Dharma. Everything you practiced in the past cultivated you so that you now have the good fortune to listen to today’s teachings. Whether or not you will be able to act accordingly in the future is up to you. All I can do is tell you about my experiences with cultivation, which correspond to the states spoken of by the Buddha. You cannot depend on me to lead you and guarantee you the success. This has to do with your own determination and root capacity; it depends on you actually putting these teachings into action, and amending your behavior.

“Today I have only touched briefly on the section about the Six Paramitas. You should listen a lot and read a lot about this part, because as the Buddha said, the Six Paramitas are like authentic gem of which no demon can take advantage. Demons are not necessarily external; you might be assailed by demons of the mind, which are incarnations of greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt. If you chant mantras hoping to make someone leave or hope for this or that, then you are thinking with the mind of a demon, not of a Buddha or Bodhisattva. Married women absolutely must not chant mantras to try to get their husbands’ affair partners to go away, because this amounts to cursing others and is the mark of a demonic mind. If your spouse is seeing someone else, then when that person leaves has to do with your own good fortune. If you cannot enjoy your husband’s presence, then chant mantras and hope that all sentient beings will attain Buddhahood. This is very difficult, but you must do it. Do not think negative thoughts about your enemies or with destruction upon them; you must not allow yourself to have such an attitude. Listen to the Buddha, and do as He teaches; implement these lessons into your thoughts. Only then will you have an opportunity to achieve attainment; otherwise, you will not.”

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

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Updated on October 29, 2017