His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – April 17, 2016

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

“Today I will resume expounding the Ratnakuta Sutra. First, however, I want to explain why—after a guru has performed the Phowa and the deceased’s body has been cremated—the leftover bones are all disintegrated except for the part of the skull near the crown chakra. This piece of bone is left intact, and a small, smooth-edged, perfectly round hole has formed in it. Many people think this phenomenon only occurs in Tantra, but here in my hand I have some information that was researched by a disciple, and which includes a reference to the Phowa in the Historical Biography section of the Buddhist Canon. Historical biographies are passed down through history, and this is from the time of the Wei and Jin, Northern and Southern Dynasties: ‘Dao Rong reported that upon traveling to Nagarāhāra, he came across the Buddha’s parietal bone. It was four inches round and yellowish-white in color, and there was a hole in the bottom of it.’ Nagarāhāra was located near modern-day Afghanistan. ‘It was four inches round,’ means that the bone was four inches in diameter, and Dao Rong said it was ‘yellowish-white’ because it was such an ancient piece of skull that it had yellowed with age when he saw it. ‘There was a hole in the bottom of it’ refers to a round hole appearing in the lower part of the parietal bone, but no explanation is given as to why this hole was there. Experienced Tantric practitioners know that those who have successfully mastered the Phowa can focus the deceased’s consciousness into his or her body’s central channel and then transfer it out through the crown chakra. Much of Tantra is practiced focusing on the crown chakra, and this is also the location through which empowerments come to us. It’s just that the ancients were not aware of the crown chakra, outside of Tantrism. They used the term “parietal bone”. A hole formed in a practitioner’s crown chakra is a certain indication that he or she has stopped reincarnating.

“Why did the Buddha leave this bone behind? Perhaps it was so that I would see it and be able to tell you about it. Originally, the Phowa was brought back to Earth by Padmasambhava after having used his supernatural powers to travel to Amitabha’s Pure Land, where he implored Amitabha Buddha to transmit this Dharma method to him personally. In the past it was forbidden to be propagated, and only began to be widely known in later generations as the population of sentient beings increased. It is very difficult to master the Phowa for oneself, let alone help others with it. To perform it for someone, a Dharma practitioner must use every ounce of his or her own good fortune, merits, strength, and everything to enable the deceased’s consciousness to shoot upward through the crown chakra. In addition, in order to succeed, the practitioner must have obtained the blessings of Amitabha Buddha, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, Vajravarahi, and the lineage gurus, and must also have been safeguarded by the Dharma protectors. Furthermore, if the deceased does not possess any good fortune, then the Phowa cannot be performed. So, when making offerings in ancient times, why was gold used instead of money? According to what is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, you should whisper into the deceased’s ear that you are going to make offerings and give alms using his or her favorite toys. This does not refer to the sort of toys that children play with; rather, it means curious – antiques or gold. Gold is money, so these are the things to which you are most attached. It is not that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas need gold; it is that offering Them the objects you treasure the most can allow you to accumulate good fortune. Who among you has ever done this? If I care about money, then I would have required what the Sutra says. Have you ever done so? No; you never have. After I finish performing the Phowa, your family members merely bow, say ‘thanks,’ and give me a little red envelope containing a tiny monetary offering.

“A few days ago a disciple passed away. This disciple originally did not possess the conditions necessary to receive the Phowa; simply having taken refuge for a long time was not enough. As I have said many times, your guru can only save you once. None of you believes me, though; you all depend on your guru, hoping that I will be compassionate when your time comes. Of course I am compassionate; that is how I am able to perform the Phowa. However, no degree of compassion can counter or undo your karma. The Buddha said very clearly that He could not alter the karma of sentient beings unless they themselves had taken action to change it. Many people are superstitious, though; they think that by offering a tiny bit of money, their karma will just go away. Based on this line of thinking, and given the fact that the offerings I’ve made are cumulatively far greater than yours in both number and amount, why should I need to keep practicing? I should be able to just casually recite the Dharma Protector Achi prayer, chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra a few times, implore for transmission of the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices, and be done with it, right?

“I have been transmitting the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices for a very long time, so why have I still not transmitted the Guru Yoga to you? It is because I am preparing to disqualify some people. Originally, I transmitted the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices to more than four hundred disciples, and now I have been disqualifying most of them; only the thirty-odd remaining ones will be given the opportunity to receive transmission of the Guru Yoga. The reason I am being so strict is that you have no respect for your guru; you didn’t listen.

“That disciple originally could not have the Phowa performed for him because he had never spoken praise of his guru’s merits to his family members and colleagues. To put it simply, he was too embarrassed to talk about me. He worked in a high-tech industry, and his boss did not practice Buddhism; as such, the disciple never mentioned it. His parents used to worry that he was being overly superstitious about Buddhism, so they tried to stop him from practicing. If I had encountered this sort of situation, I would have grown alert to the fact that it was a result of my own karma.

“That disciple would have passed away last Sunday, but because so many people loved him, they had given him medicine that reinforced his heart and adjusted his blood pressure. As a result, his physical body stayed alive. When his family members first arrived hospital, they blamed the disciple’s wife. The fact that the family got into a disagreement did not mean that they were bad; it meant that the deceased neither possessed good fortune nor believed in the impermanence of life.

“Take my mother, for example: Five years ago I began planning and making step-by-step arrangements for her funeral—not because I was her eldest son, but to enable her to accumulate good fortune. The upshot was that when she passed away, there were no disputes or quarreling among the rest of the family. This was a sign that my mother possessed good fortune.

“After a person dies, a conflict breaking out among the family members means that the deceased did not have sufficient good fortune. Even if you say that you are arguing for his or her own good, the deceased, at first in a hurry to pass away, will see this strife between family members and feel unable to resolve it. This sense of helplessness will cause the deceased to feel resentment, which in turn could send the deceased to the Hell Realm. No deceased wants to watch as family members fight over his or her affairs. I’ll give another example, of something that once happened: After their mother passed away, a sister and brother pair got into an argument over a fengshui-related issue. The deceased grew upset, so I later made a phone call to tell the siblings to stop their fighting because it was preventing their mother from leaving this world and accepting liberation. Then the fighting stopped and the deceased got liberated.

“In the end, the wife of that disciple who died recently remembered my teachings: In the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows it is revealed that after the deceased stops breathing, family members should whisper into his or her ear that they will make offerings and give alms using the deceased’s favorite things from when he or she was still alive. She then whispered into her husband’s ear that she was going to make an offering to me of his most favorite emerald. These were the only words she uttered, they immediately produced good fortune for him, and the family’s attitude abruptly changed. The disciple’s mother let go of her hopes for further medical treatment for her son, and immediately implored me to perform the Phowa for him. Why did I wait for the family members’ supplications? It was because they could not accumulate good fortune for him until they had made offerings. That offering promised by the disciple’s wife had produced good fortune for her husband, but the emerald had not yet actually been given. I agreed to perform the Phowa not because of him, but because I was afraid his family members might slander the Buddha and the guru, thereby planting a causal seed that would send them to hell. For this reason, I sacrificed myself to perform the Phowa for this disciple. Yesterday, Saturday, his family members came seeking an audience with me; they were just full of thanks, and implored me to set a date for the funeral. Thus, being a Bodhisattva is very toilsome, because you sometimes have no choice but to sacrifice yourself in order to prevent a disciple’s family members from creating causes that would send them down to the Hell Realm.

“The disciple passed away the day after his wife whispered into his ear. At the time, I was in an airport waiting room in Japan, about to board a plane back to Taiwan. My disciples who have seen me perform the Phowa know that during the process I would make a certain sound. At the time, however, being in an airport lounge, if I’d emitted such a sound, people around me perhaps would have thought I was drunk or mentally disturbed, and I might therefore not have been allowed to board the plane. Thus, all I could do was to hold my breath while performing the Dharma. Even so, I was still able to transfer disciple Wang’s consciousness from his body. When performing the Phowa, there originally were rules with regard to the direction in which the deceased’s head should be pointing and how the legs folded; these are mentioned in the Dharma text. Nowadays, however, I am able to perform it to perfect completion without even needing to position the deceased’s body.

“Why don’t I need to? It is not that I am afraid of annoying the family members; it is that I worry that they will come and bother me with such questions as which direction is which, or complain that the room is too small so they cannot turn the body at a certain angle. Before the questions were done, half an hour would have gone by. If I say to fold the deceased’s legs, someone would tell me that for eight hours after passing away, the deceased’s body must not be disturbed. This has indeed happened before. For example, after I performed the Phowa to perfect completion one time, I told the family members to go and touch the deceased’s crown chakra, but they said that the body cannot be disturbed within the first eight hours after death. If I had gone by the Dharma text, by the time they’d gotten everything ready, another half hour would have gone by. Thus, practicing the Bodhisattva Path in this Age of Degenerate Dharma is impossible if one does not have a great aspiration.

“I’m using this disciple as an example of someone who typically was not very diligent, only made meager offerings, and completely relied on being saved by his guru. Actually, given the fact that he was lame, it was a wonder that when living he did not hurry up, made a firm resolution, and did his best to repent. A female disciple once asked me why she had been born lame in this lifetime. I just happened to have read a revelation in one of the sutras, so I told that disciple, ‘According to the sutras, if you have deformed feet, it is because in your past lives you once dug a hole in the middle of the road so that people would fall into it, allowing you to plunder their valuables and kill them.’ People with physical deformities certainly have committed evil acts in the past; it’s just that you still have some virtuous roots that have allowed you to come in contact with the Dharma. Some people with physical defects hope to use Buddhism as a way to show that they are better than other people. This is why disabled people often develop inferiority complexes, which in turn give rise to arrogance. This deceased disciple thought that because he was very well educated, had graduated from a famous graduate school, and was a very advanced intellectual, his accumulated knowledge could help him live a better life. However, he had never thoroughly repented or believed in cause and effect. His physical disability was definitely a result of his past transgressions, so the only viable Dharma method for him was to constantly repent, make offerings, and listen to his guru.

“Yesterday a disciple who has recently taken refuge implored me for transmission of the Dharma method of Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara. The reason she gave was that participating in an India tour organized by my travel agency had caused her to miss out on being transmitted this Dharma. However, no one actually forced her to participate in the tour; she did not have to go! Besides, two months passed before she finally carved out enough free time to seek an audience with me, which means that she wasn’t in a hurry. People are very horrible these days. They lack good causes and conditions, so are not transmitted the Dharma; however, they blame their guru instead of repenting of their own karma. How can they expect to learn Tantra with this sort of attitude?

“A male disciple brought a female friend yesterday to implore for permission to attend the upcoming puja in Japan, even though I had already said quite clearly on multiple occasions that only disciples can participate in puja trips to Japan. His insistence on bringing her to seek audience anyway showed that he believed he was special and respectful enough that I would make an exception for him. He must have talked himself up to this female friend, and promised beforehand that he would help her obtain permission from me to participate in the puja trip to Japan—and that I would grant it because I am compassionate. True compassion, however, involves not letting the deceased fall into the Hell Realm. You should not think that just because you have a silver tongue it means you can succeed in pulling the wool over my eyes. When I was seventeen, I left home to make my way in society, and in the decades since I have learned much. I can glean your intentions just by listening to you speak, so you must stop imploring for things that have nothing to do with the Dharma.

“Therefore, the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Shakyamuni Buddha are very compassionate toward me. A disciple gathered this information to inform the Exoteric monastics that the Phowa truly exists. You should stop doubting or muttering to yourselves that your previous Dharma masters never spoke of such a Dharma, or that it is not mentioned in the sutras. It is Tantra, so of course it is not spoken. The Phowa is mentioned in a biography of Bianji translated by Xuanzang of the Tang Dynasty, as well as in A Biography of the Tripitaka Master of the Great Ci’en Monastery in the Great Tang Dynasty. You believe in the Tripitaka Master Xuanzang; you know that he would never have spoken nonsense.

“The Buddha left this parietal bone to tell later generations that the only way of leaving reincarnation is to achieve such attainments. It would be impossible for there not to be any omens in Buddhism, just as it absolutely has forms that can be seen and signs that manifest. It is not that these signs do not exist for you to see; it is a simple matter of whether or not you are able to do what it takes to see them. Therefore, your guru is constantly demonstrating it for you to see so that you will know that you can achieve what the Dharma states, even if this means sacrificing my life and draining away my own good fortune. That disciple who passed away a few days ago actually had no redeeming qualities, other than being very good at studying. Thus, in order to help him to get to Amitabha’s Pure Land, I had no other recourse but to give of myself. It is written in the sutras that the power of the mind is limitless. This is also mentioned in the Sutra of Ocean of Contemplation on the Buddha, translated by Buddhabhadra of the Eastern Jin Dynasty.

“Therefore, you should stop saying that there is no Tantra, or that Tantra was not spoken by Shakyamuni Buddha, or that it emerged in a later period of Buddhism as a combination of Buddhism and Brahmanism. Such claims are incorrect. Some people do not understand Tantra, but you should definitely tell them it does exit. If you do not have this sort of common sense, you should not refute its existence. If Tantra really did not exist, then how could Shakyamuni Buddha have taken on so many disciples? How could He have been so supernaturally powerful and at ease? How could He have gone to the Trayastrimsas Heaven and spoken the words written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows? I only have a little bit of experience with cultivation, but I can guarantee that these are not fairy tales. One can even reach the Heavenly Realm by mastering other religions, let alone the Buddha.

“Our myths originate in the ego. Yesterday a female disciple, with a babe in arms, came imploring to take refuge. When I asked whose child it was, she replied that it was hers and her husband’s. This meant that the child was half hers and half her husband’s, yet her husband had not agreed to allow the child to take refuge. Well, a kid cannot just go halfway when taking refuge; it is an all-or-nothing responsibility! The child’s practice would certainly be hindered if the father did not believe in Buddhism; for this reason, the child should not take refuge. This disciple thought that after getting married she would be able to make her husband change. However, he still hasn’t changed, even though they’ve already had a child; he has not followed his wife’s example and become a vegetarian.

“One of my disciples is about to gain a daughter-in-law. I won’t reveal this disciple’s name, but I will say publicly that if her son hosts a wedding banquet that isn’t completely vegetarian, and this disciple attends, then she will no longer be welcome here. As a disciple of mine, and as a mother, there is no reason she should not insist that only vegetarian cuisine be served at her son’s wedding banquet. How could she agree to only two of the dishes prepared being vegetarian? If she says she is worried about displeasing her son’s future in-laws, then she doesn’t have to agree on having such a daughter-in-law!

“These so-called believer-disciples are the very reason Buddhism is in decline. If adherents of other religions only marry within their faith, then why can’t you? You keep saying that you will gradually make your partner change, but if he hadn’t yet changed before you got married, then how do you expect him to change after your children have been born? I am not telling you that you can only marry Buddhists, but if you eat vegetarian and your partner eats meat, then over time some problems are bound to crop up. Why won’t I transmit the Dharma to you? It is because you do not listen! By putting Buddhism aside for your own selfish desires, and making marriage your priority, you are cheating yourselves as well as the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. You only come seeking assistance from your guru later, once a bunch of problems have surfaced—but why should your guru help you to solve them?

“If you see Buddhism as a form of daily entertainment, then you should stop practicing it. I have a disciple who said today that he had something to do at school, so he did not participate in this puja. He wants to do business, so he thought that by going there he’d be able to meet some rich people and get some work. He sees all of his Dharma brothers here as being too poor to offer him any worthwhile business contracts. Therefore, from now on, he does not need to keep coming here to participate in the pujas. He thought that skipping today’s puja was no big deal, so I’m going to let him go ahead and not have to worry about it anymore. Unbelievably, he’s a man in his forties, yet he still acts like this.

“Sometimes believers, despite not having formally taken refuge, have the courage to speak out in public. For example, during the Grand Opening of the Southern Branch of the National Palace Museum, the museum’s director said that I was her guru in front of all of the dignitaries present, including the president and the media. I have a disciple, however, who also serves as a government official, but does not dare to tell anyone that he has taken refuge in me for fear that they might misunderstand his motives. If he is ashamed of his guru, then he should not have become a disciple. When he encountered a problem and sought my help, his tears seemed genuine; however, after his troubles passed, all he could say was that he had been given advice from a ‘man of great stature.’ I am less than 190 centimeters tall; my stature isn’t so great. If he was so ashamed of me, then he should not have become my disciple! I don’t know why, but all over Taiwan people who are practicing Buddhism have this exact same attitude. Catholics and Protestants are brave enough to proclaim their faith, but Buddhists are not. The problem is that Buddhist disciples are not persistent enough. If you are afraid of being found out by other people, then you should just stop practicing. If you have gotten married, then you must tell your husband or wife you want to practice Buddhism; however, if he or she disagrees, then you should no longer come here. Practicing Buddhism is a good thing, so why would you be secretive about it? If your parents complain then explain to them. The disciple who passed away a few days ago is an example of someone who ordinarily did not have the patience to speak to his family members of my merits. As a result, he had problems when it was his time to die. Fate was kind to him, therefore, because I was still here and available to help him. Had his guru not been around, then what would he have done? No one believes in cause and effect. At every puja I tell you that life is impermanent, that you should cultivate Buddhism with a sense of urgency, and that you must do the tasks given you by your guru right away, yet none of you listens. I will keep on speaking the Dharma, as I always do. Whether or not you listen and put my teachings into practice is entirely up to you.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued expounding the Ratnakuta Sutra.

“In the sutra it is written, ‘Good man, how does a Bodhisattva-Mahasattva conceptualize the Right Dharma?’

“When teaching or speaking the Dharma, the Buddha always said ‘good man’ or ‘good woman;’ this referred to any person who had cultivated to perfection the Ten Meritorious Acts. To be able to listen to the Buddha expound the Dharma, one had to be a good man or woman. In other words, if you have not perfected the Ten Meritorious Acts, then you cannot practice Buddhism and are not qualified to listen to the Dharma. It can even be said that you are unqualified to chant the Buddha’s name a single time, since you have not yet cultivated the Ten Meritorious Acts. You should not assume that you have. The disciple who implored for transmission of the Great Six-Syllable Mantra yesterday had not cultivated the Ten Meritorious Acts; she was full of greed, hatred, and ignorance. Had she started out by saying that she had heavy karma, and that she wished to repent for not having accumulated sufficient good fortune to receive transmission of the Dharma while participating in the overseas tour group, then I might have transmitted it to her. People often make this mistake; they think that whatever disappointments might befall them are caused by other people, instead of reflecting upon their own actions and understanding that everything that happens to them has to do with their behavior in their past lives. This disciple is still holding on to greed, hatred, and ignorance; her manner of speaking shows that she does not respect Buddhism or her guru. For this reason, she has not even contemplated how she should talk. You all might say you do not know how to speak well, but then you can mimic others like a parrot. However, you are humans, not parrots. If you even have trouble speaking correctly, and cause displeasure in people who hear you, this means you do not treat others with respect. You never stand in their shoes; you only view the world from your own perspective. If you were respectful enough, then you would stop and think before opening your mouth, wouldn’t you?

“It’s like that disciple who brought his friend to implore to participate in the puja in Japan. As soon as I refused, this girl immediately glared at the disciple as if to say, How come I didn’t get permission like you said I would? Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is not compassionate! You all act this way quite frequently. You think you are helping a sentient being to form a connection, but actually, you have harmed that person by causing him or her to look down on the Three Jewels. As my disciples, do you still not know how I benefit sentient beings? What good would merely participating in a single puja do? Sure; go ahead! Sell your house, and I will perform the Dharma myself for you, one-on-one. But who would sell their houses in order to implore for the Dharma? I am not asking you to do that, either.

“In the line, ‘how does a Bodhisattva-Mahasattva conceptualize the Right Dharma,’ the word guan-zheng-fa-xing does not mean to visualize. Rather, it means that a true Mahasattva conceives the way of practicing the Right Dharma, and this conceptualization must be very clear and correct. If it is not, then the practitioner is not cultivating the Bodhisattva Path.

“It is written in the sutra, ‘Good man, a Bodhisattva-Mahasattva conceptualizes in this manner because for ordinary people, all Dharmas are like illusion and deception.’

“The word ‘Dharmas’ does not refer to the various Dharma methods you think it does. Rather, it refers to all phenomena in the universe, including everything you can hear and see; that is, whatever you can sense. In the Buddha’s terms, these are ‘forms’—meaning everything you can see, hear, feel, and even think of: It is all ‘like illusion and deception for ordinary people.’ For example, some people might perform Dharma rituals to counter you, but these are all fake; they are not fixed or constant. Rather, they are simply forms that appear temporarily; these forms are false. By false I do not mean false as in ‘not real;’ causal conditions produce forms, after all. However, the moment a causal condition arises is the very moment its existence begins to cease. This means that everything you consider to be right or wrong, no matter what it is about, is like an illusory form; it might appear for a moment, but then it will disappear.

“An ‘ordinary person’ is any sentient being that has not yet become liberated from reincarnation in the Six Realms. Even if you take the form of a practitioner or a monastic, can expound the sutras perfectly from beginning to end, have erected great monasteries, and have hordes of disciples, as long as you yourself cannot become liberated from life and death and help sentient beings to do the same, then you are but an ordinary person. ‘Ordinary person’ is not a derogatory term; it simply refers to a level of fruition. You are all ordinary people, because you have no inkling or grasp when it comes to your own liberation from life and death; nor do you accept the methods for escaping reincarnation that your guru teaches you.

“The word ‘deception’ in this line means arrogance and madness; it means using your own ideas and decisions of what is right and wrong to view the myriad affairs of the world. For all mundane matters, there is no definitive ‘right’ or ‘wrong.’ When we look at history, we see that after enough time has gone by, our opinion of what we used to think is right can change so that we later feel that it might actually be wrong—and vice versa. The first words to bear in mind from the outset of this section of the Sutra are that a practitioner of the Bodhisattva Path should not grow attached to any forms at all. If you feel that someone is bullying you, has done you wrong, or is annoying you, then you are not on the Bodhisattva Path, because you are still attached to forms; you are attached to all things. These conflicts have only happened to you because your mind has given rise to afflictions; if it hadn’t, then they would not exist. Here at the Buddhist Center I often hear young children crying, but I never feel this is a source of annoyance; such sounds do not affect me. This is not because I myself am a father; the reason you are affected by these noises is that your minds have given rise to affliction.

“The sutra text continues: ‘This is due to a lack of authentic wisdom, caused by foolishness and ignorance that have veiled the mind.’

“As for ‘foolishness and ignorance,’ a lot of people come to practice Buddhism with the misconception that a guru should only say what they want to hear. The words ‘foolishness and ignorance’ are packed with significance, and appear many times throughout the sutras. You should not assume that the Buddha would never scold anyone or only says nice words. If I scolded my employees for being ignorant and foolish, they might sue me for libel. However, just about every section of the sutras contains some mention of foolishness and ignorance. In essence, these words mean not believing in cause and effect; this describes all of you, including that disciple who passed away a few days ago. Don’t think yourselves clever or extremely capable. ‘Cause’ means that everything you do will have a consequence in the future. Don’t think that it doesn’t matter if you only do something a little bit; this will produce karmic effects just the same. Don’t think you can modify your way of doing wrong and will do the right thing later – this also will have karmic effects. When you took refuge, one of the refuge precepts you vowed to keep was to never seek the help of non-Buddhist religions for the sake of convenience. These words can be taken at face value, but actually, whenever your mind strays from the Five Precepts you vowed to keep when you took refuge, you are seeking convenience; as such, you immediately break the precepts. Some people think that after breaking the precepts, they can simply repent and be fine. Apart from the Samaya Commandments, you can break the Five Precepts of the laity, the Bhikkhu Precepts, and the Bhikkhuni Precepts and still be re-transmitted them after you repent. However, the problem is that all of the merits you cultivated prior to breaking those precepts get reset to zero and transformed into good fortune. Only merits can be used in this lifetime; to use good fortune, you must wait until your next reincarnation. If I were unable to cultivate a few merits, I would never be able to perform the Phowa for sentient beings.

“It is foolish and ignorant to put Buddhism and the Five Precepts on the back burner while you pursue other things for your own benefit. You are all constantly accumulating evil karmic energy, and its evil effects will appear for you very soon. We often say that Buddhist practitioners should ‘stop evil and practice virtue,’ and only do good deeds while ceasing to commit evil acts. Think neither that minor good deeds are not worth doing, nor that minor transgressions are okay to commit. This is the unique nature of a Buddhist practitioner. During times of adversity, it is even more important that we use the Dharma to reflect upon where we have strayed from the path, what we still need to change about ourselves, and what aspects of our practice we have neglected. When things are going our way, likewise, we should use the Dharma to determine why life is going so smoothly for us. Is it because we are intelligent, sociable, and eloquent? When life is going well for you, it is vital that you use Buddhism to gain control of yourself. It is pointed out in the Ratnakuta Sutra that Bodhisattvas who have cultivated the Six Paramitas cannot be arrogant, and that practices will go increasingly smooth for Them. If you are arrogant, then the merits from cultivating the Six Paramitas will immediately turn into good fortune, and you will not be able to transform the karma you have accumulated over your past lives. This was what happened to that disciple who passed away the other day; even after more than a decade of practicing and listening, he never truly used what he learned and heard to amend his behavior. First of all, he did not have bodhicitta; second of all, he did not thoroughly repent; and third of all, he was arrogant.

“The words, ‘foolishness and ignorance that have veiled the mind,’ mean that your disbelief in cause and effect has filled you with the defiling elements of greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt; these have covered up your true Dharma nature. Now that it is concealed from you, you lack ‘authentic wisdom.’ There are two types of wisdom: The type you have possessed since birth (original wisdom), and learned wisdom. This ‘authentic wisdom’ refers to the former. Our original wisdom has been veiled from our perception, so no matter how much learned wisdom we acquire, it will not help. How can we gradually lessen that which obstructs our view? If you do not cultivate the precepts, meditation, and wisdom, then the defiling elements that shroud your original nature will not gradually go away. As such, the authentic wisdom with which you were born with will continue to be concealed, and no matter how hard you practice, you still will not be able to produce wisdom. This is also the reason understanding escapes you, no matter how diligently you cultivate; you cannot truly learn, because greed, hatred, and ignorance have hidden authentic wisdom from you. Another explanation of ‘authentic wisdom’ is that only with this sort of wisdom can you help yourself and sentient beings to become liberated from life and death. What conceals your authentic wisdom from your view? Afflictions do. They completely block out authentic wisdom’s radiance, so that you are unable to see it at all.

“In the sutra it is written, ‘All phenomena are like unfounded and delusional dreams, and we should live by this thought.’

“‘Unfounded and delusional dreams’ means that everything in the mundane world is insubstantial and unreal, like a dream. We should live our everyday lives by this very concept. The dreams we have during the day might feel clearer, but our waking thoughts and experiences are just a continuation of the dreams we have at night. You would say ‘Is it so?’ Are you always wondering what will happen in your future? Do you spend all day thinking about who has offended you or what mistakes others have made? Isn’t this the same as dreaming? Aren’t you therefore dreaming even during the day? Both night and day, everything we come in contact with is an illusion. It is not eternal and unchanging; it is merely temporary, like a dream. The disciple who passed away a few days ago spent his entire life in a dream, and in the wink of an eye, it was gone. None of you believes me, though; you all think that nothing bad could happen to you. He believed in science, and his results from the health examination administered at his company every year always came out normal. He also considered himself to be one who practiced Buddhism, made offerings, and everything. However, he did not truly accomplish what is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows; namely, to renounce everything and hope not to fall into the Three Evil Realms, and to implore for liberation from life and death. He never implored for this; his plan was to simply grow old with his wife. He did not believe that all phenomena are like unfounded and delusional dreams.

“The sutra text goes on to say, ‘All phenomena are like reflections of the moon on the water, but they do not exist.’

“At night, if you’re near a body of water, you can see the moonlight reflected in it. However, you cannot scoop that light up with your hands, can you? Of course not; it disperses into ripples as soon as you reach into the water. It’s like things that you believe are actually there will disappear as soon as you try to capture them. Take emotions, for another example: You might think the relationship is yours to keep, but if you try to grasp it, can you? You might think that child is yours, but if you try to hold on to him or her, will you succeed? You might think the money is yours and you are able to put it in the bank without a problem, but because you have to constantly pay fees a little bit at a time, that money will eventually dwindle. The Buddha did not mean to imply passivity with His words; He did not mean that because nothing is real, you therefore do not have to do anything but eat your fill every day and live out the rest of this lifetime while doing the bare minimum. This is an erroneous way of thinking, because we know that everything is an illusion. How can we implore for existence? Only by clearly recognizing that each phenomenon comes from an illusory form can we understand the attitude, concepts, and methods with which we should face and deal with all the phenomena we encounter in our lives. Only in this way can we continuously progress, thereby ridding ourselves of the hindrances that should not have occurred in the first place. If we do not use Buddhism, then we have no choice but to use the knowledge and experiences, which we assume are correct, accumulated from our life and work. However, no matter how educated you are or how experienced, in this world of 7.1 billion people, how many of their experiences can you possibly comprehend? Nothing in the mundane world has ever been capable of making everyone happy, because we all have different ways of thinking. In English there is a saying: ‘You cannot please everybody.’ No matter how perfect you might think a certain method is, as long as it was thought up by humans, it is bound to be flawed, because there are so many different people asking for help. If we all understood the Dharma, then we would always implore from the point of view of others.

“Many of the diseases that affect our health have to do with the history of human food consumption. The reason the ancients did not succumb to quite so many bizarre illnesses was, first of all, that they did not kill as often. Secondly, they did not commit as many evil acts in general. The ancients ate organic food, which is getting more popular these days. Back then, night soil was used to fertilize crops, but now the very thought of that disgusts us, so we use chemical fertilizers. This way of thinking shows a lack of belief that everything is illusory and dreamlike. That which you perceive to be stinky can be placed into the mud as fertilizer, and the resulting vegetables that grow are always quite sweet. If you think manure stinks, then you shouldn’t eat vegetables or even rice, because you don’t know exactly what went into the soil. Everything we eat and use comes from things produced within the human body. This means that people who implement the Dharma do not worry over their losses or sacrifices. You, on the other hand, keep track of every single cent.

“‘All phenomena are like reflections of the moon on the water, because nothing has ever existed.’ Do not dwell on whatever has happened to you today; it is all moonlight on the water, so there is no need to grow attached to it. Even over the course of ten or twenty years, everything you experience is still just moonlight on the water; nothing has actually happened. Where do phenomena come from? They are produced by the human mind. As a person’s mind changes, everything else changes along with it, and eventually disappears. When the surface of the water is very smooth, the slightest breath of wind can cause the moonlight reflected in it to waver, and a wave can make it disappear altogether. This is a metaphor to show you that things you fuss over are nothing; actually, all those phenomena do not exist just like moonlight on the water does not. If you think the moon is really there in the water, then do your best to jump down and scoop it up with your hands. As for those of you who would complain that you do not have any open water at home, and therefore are unable to see the moonlight in it, you can shine an electric light into the sink! Then you’ll see it. In Shakyamuni Buddha’s time, there were no lightbulbs, so the Buddha could not explain using electric light as a metaphor. The analogies used by the Buddha were phenomena that everyone in the world can see; whether or not you have electricity, you can certainly see the moonlight.

“Water is like the mind. When it is calm, the moon’s reflection can clearly be seen in it. This can be explained by way of two different concepts: When the mind is calm, everything reflected by its water is distinct; when it is busy with a lot of thoughts, then that water gets disturbed, and the reflections become unclear. Why do a lot of people have trouble understanding how to do things? It is because they have too many afflictions, thoughts, and desires; they want everything. As soon as you stop believing that everything is moonlight in the water, you will think up disturbances that will happen to you. All phenomena have to do with conditions, causes, and effects; these are impermanent, and ever-changing. They are not set in stone.

“For example, the disciple who passed away a few days ago thought that everything was fine—right when he should have been exercising caution. Take me, for example; I never think to myself that I am doing okay, because I have not yet attained Buddhahood or perfected my cultivation. As such, I should maintain even greater vigilance. This does not mean I should be afraid of making mistakes; rather, it means that every step of the way, I should be thinking of how best to benefit sentient beings. I originally should not have performed the Phowa for disciple Wang, but because I wished to prevent his family members from slandering the Buddha and his guru, I consented so that he would give rise to joy. This is how to practice the Bodhisattva Path; we must exchange our own happiness for the suffering of others, just as I gave of myself to him. What exactly did I give him? I don’t know. All I know is that for two days after I finished performing the Phowa for him, I felt unwell and had a headache. This was the result of expending so much energy. Why was I able to recover so quickly? It is because while I was helping that disciple, I did not think of my own interests; it never occurred to me to only perform the Phowa in exchange for receiving twenty kilograms of gold first, for example. As it turned out, that disciple’s family members came here yesterday seeking an audience, and they were full of gratitude; all they implored was for me to set a date for the funeral.

“It is written in the sutra, ‘All phenomena are like images in a mirror, because there are no sentient beings.’

“All forms are like reflections in a mirror; this also makes reference to the Great Perfect Mirror Wisdom of the Five Wisdoms. Our original mind and pure Dharma nature, as described in Buddhism, is like a mirror, and all worldly phenomena are reflections in that mirror. However, once you remove those phenomena, they no longer produce images in your mirror; not a single thing will remain embedded in it. The totality of your experience is like reflection in a mirror: When there are objects in front of it, their reflections will appear; when there aren’t any, then the mirror shows nothing. All of these things are your attachments, resulting from your belief that they exist. The reflections in your mirror include everything you most like, dislike, are annoyed with, and so on; yet they are all just reflections, and can disappear in an instant. Your pure Dharma nature, however, has never changed; it is utterly devoid of defilement. When you get out of the bed in the morning, try looking in the mirror. Stand in front of it, and then walk away from it; you’ll be able to witness the phenomenon I am talking about.

“Another way of putting it is that everything you see is like an image in a mirror. The words, ‘because there are no sentient beings,’ also appear in the Diamond Sutra. Why are there no sentient beings? All sentient beings are reflections in your mind; these are what you see in front of you, moving back and forth. If your mirror never moved or reflected anything, then you would not think there are sentient beings in it. Sentient beings and one’s self cannot be separated; a Bodhisattva does not differentiate between the two. Why am I able to master the Phowa, and help the deceased go to the Pure Land? It is because I do not differentiate between myself and others. Otherwise, how could I, while far away in Japan, possibly have performed the Phowa for disciple Wang, who was here in Taiwan at the time? Another angle of looking at it is that while I was performing the Dharma, I was like a mirror that helped the deceased by reflecting his appearance.

“How was I able to attain the state of understanding that there are no sentient beings? It was because I myself am a sentient being; I am the same as all other sentient beings. For the disciple who passed away a few days ago, except for having limited mobility, the atoms and elements that made up his cells were all the exact same as my own. Thirdly, every sentient being’s original nature inherently possesses the same Buddha-essence; all are equals in this respect. It was his karma that prevented him from being reborn in the Pure Land. As his guru, I simply helped him a bit by giving him a nudge in the right direction. It’s just that this ‘nudge’ took a great deal of energy from me; I was exchanging my own strength for his benefit. Only by giving him what I had could I actually help him. I was not helping him go to the Pure Land; rather, I was respectfully asking the deceased to go there. If I’d approached this with the wrong attitude, the Dharma would not have worked.

“The sutra text continues: ‘All phenomena are like sounds, and these sounds arise from Emptiness.’

“You think phenomena only arise as a result of how people act or how they judge each other, but that is a misconception. ‘Phenomena are like sounds.’ You can hear sounds, but can you see them? You cannot. This is ‘because sounds arise from Emptiness.’ When a sound occurs within a space, you cannot see the resulting soundwaves. Even if you were to use an instrument to detect them, they will not remain there forever; they are in a constant state of flux. These two lines of the sutra mean that everything you feel and hear is like sounds arising in an empty space. Their emergence is the result of causal conditions. Can you capture a sound? No, you can’t. Even though there are now machines that can record sounds, this still is not a way of preserving them forever, because as soon as the sound recorder breaks, those sounds will cease to exist. Sounds that are recorded are also a sort of energy. Why does this energy exist? It, too, is a result of the law of cause and condition. In other words, all phenomena that you believe to exist are causes and conditions.

“The sutra goes on to say, ‘All phenomena are arising and ceasing, because they are formed under causal conditions.’

“The emergence and disappearance of all phenomena result from causes and conditions. To give an example, being able to drink a glass of water when you get up in the morning is not simply a matter of turning on the tap. First of all, there has to have been rainfall; secondly, that water has to have been collected in your local water reservoirs. You need the help of people who manage the reservoirs, as well as those who look after the water pipes you use. Only after all these related factors come together are you then able to drink water from your faucet. After you drink it, you urinate it back out; the water then rejoins the cycle. Everything that happens or stops happening is the result of causes and conditions; it is not that people are trying to harm you or vie for you, so stop trying to blame everyone for what was said or done. What are causes and conditions? Whenever something happens to you, it definitely has to do with you, and you are certainly in part the cause of it. If you had never done it or participated in such a thing in the past, then it would not have happened to you. If you hadn’t been thirsty, would you have turned on the faucet to boil the water and get a drink? Of course not. Do you get something to eat when you aren’t hungry? No. First you have to feel hungry. What makes you hungry? The consumption of your energy. Why does your energy get consumed? This is a very complex chain of causes and conditions.

“If you complain that someone has treated you poorly, then you must have mistreated him or her in some way in the past. He might do you wrong, but this ‘wrongness’ will not remain unchanging forever; it will pass very quickly. All phenomena arise and cease ‘because they are formed under causal conditions;’ without those conditions, they would not have been produced. To put it more simply, if you had absolutely no intention of dealing with someone, and had never done anything to him or her in the past, then this thing would definitely not have happened between you in this lifetime. In order to help sentient beings believe in cause and effect, Bodhisattva Manjusri gave performances for them to see. Bodhisattva Manjusri had already repaid the karmic debt He owed from being a thief in His past lives, and He had kept the precepts very purely. Some people didn’t believe this, Bodhisattva Manjusri then took His prettiest pair of shoes and placed them in the middle of the city’s main gate. There they remained for three days and three nights, yet no one took them. This is because the cause had already disappeared; without this cause, there was no resulting condition. As such, nothing happened. If someone in this lifetime looks down on you or picks a fight with you, it is surely because you did the same to others in your past lives. Likewise, if your partner has a bunch of affairs in this lifetime, then you must have done the same thing to someone in a previous reincarnation. None of you believes in causes and conditions, but they are the same as cause and effect. Whenever you see an evil condition has emerged, you try your best to change it. How miserable it is! When a good condition appears, you scramble to grab ahold of it in the hope that it will last forever. How pitiful it is!

“If you want good things to last, then you must constantly create good causes and conditions. As a guru, I am always bestowing benevolent deeds for my disciples to do so that they can accumulate causes, conditions and good fortune, because I know they do not have enough. It is written in the Amitabha Sutra that one should not be lacking in good fortune, merits, causes, and conditions. For example, whenever His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang tells me to do this or that, he actually is giving me opportunities to accumulate causes, conditions and good fortune; he bestows benevolent deeds for me to do. I do the same for you, too. However, you would count up your monthly mortgage first, and if this month there is an extra amount of NT$2,000 left, you would then give it to me. With regard to a guru bestowing benevolent deeds, there is a saying: ‘When doing good, do not fall behind.’ However, none of you has the intention to go through with it. It is written very clearly in the sutra that if you wish to be reborn in the Pure Land, then you cannot be lacking in causes, conditions and good fortune. Nevertheless, you keep dragging your feet. Obviously, I feel this is urgent, because I am getting older and older, and my time is running out. You, on the other hand, feel no sense of urgency to do what your guru wants done.

“It is written in the sutra, ‘All phenomena are non-arising because they have the nature of Tathata.’

“If we believe that all phenomena arise on their own, then we are wrong. The previous line stated that all phenomena are formed under causal conditions, so without causal conditions, they would not come into existence. Also, as a result of their causal conditions, those phenomena cease to exist. The words, ‘because they have the nature of Tathata,’ mean their pure, original essence has never created anything. What is it created from? It is from your afflictions, your greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt, and your attachments; therefore, you yourself manufacture all of your own causal conditions. If a person walking the Bodhisattva Path still has attachments, then he or she cannot master the Phowa or use it to help sentient beings. Why are some able to master it? It is because they do not consider themselves to be performing the Dharma; they only believe that these phenomena arise and cease according to their causal conditions, so if they can resolve the deceased’s suffering in the shortest time possible, the phenomenon would cease. You, on the other hand, are attached to every little thing.

“The sutra text continues: ‘All phenomena are non-ceasing, because they rise from Emptiness.’

“In other words, nothing has ever disappeared, because nothing has ever appeared. This is quite a profound concept for you to swallow. It means that all of the phenomena produced in the entire universe do not come from a pure, original essence, and our never-moving Embryo of Awakening has never done anything or produced any phenomena at all. This is because as soon as we give rise to fundamental darkness—which includes not believing in cause, effect, and causal conditions, and creating various afflictions and conditions—all the phenomena we produce arise and cease according to their causal conditions. These arising and ceasing phenomena are not made by our pure, original essence. For example, when the Buddha helps sentient beings, His own pure, original essence never changes; it reflects those phenomena outward, like a mirror. After things are taken care of, however, this essence of the Buddha’s still has not been moved; it has neither increased nor decreased. It remains pure, which is why it is not afflicted. If this pure, original essence could increase or decrease, then I would have been sick of helping people after transferring so many people’s consciousness. I had no afflictions while helping disciple Wang; I merely thought that I did not want his parents to fall into the Three Evil Realms.

“There is something that I still haven’t told you. Not long ago, I performed the Chod for a disciple, and he said he wished to make an offering to me of an antique woodcarving. When his family members sought an audience with me, I deliberately pointed out to them, ‘Your deceased father must have had something that he liked very much.’ The deceased’s son replied that his father, after suffering a stroke, had often used his toes to point at his favorite piece of mahogany furniture. I simply answered, ‘I see!’ I said nothing more, because the deceased’s family members did not want to make any offerings. The deceased had expressed his wish for this offering to be made, so I could have said something, but I did not want to make them feel like his guru was conning them. It is written quite clearly in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows that offerings should be made of the deceased’s most favorite possessions. Your family does not need to bring that mahogany furniture to me; the incident has already passed. I am just telling this story for you to hear, that’s all. I am aware of the deceased’s wishes because my mind is like a mirror; I have no expectations, and do not greed after anything in return. Thus, I knew very well the various thoughts of this deceased disciple. A person’s mind, both before and after death, is quite clear.

“‘All phenomena are non-arising, and all phenomena are non-ceasing.’ Both are correct concept. Once we can accept it, then we will make progress in ourselves, our endeavors, and our cultivation. Back when I was practicing Exoteric Buddhism, I would meditate for forty-five minutes a day. One time, after entering a deep state of meditation, I suddenly, and naturally, said in Mandarin, ‘A phenomenon does not arise, and it does not cease. It arises because the mind moves.’ My usual dialect is Cantonese, so how could I say all that in Mandarin? Later, I asked many Dharma masters what the line I spoke meant, but none of them could explain it to me. However, it is explained in the Ratnakuta Sutra. This meant that I had learned it before, in my past lives. At the time I had not yet read the Ratnakuta Sutra, either, so I simply wrote down the words I had uttered. After I met His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, I again asked what they meant, and he answered, ‘That is the state of Mahamudra.’ I decided right then and there to implore to take refuge in His Holiness. Some Dharma masters had been at a loss for words, or had given me an irrelevant answer, and I knew immediately it was not Dharma-related. Why couldn’t they respond? This is because they had no point of reference, so were unable to explain. They were not speaking from their self-nature. If they had read the Ratnakuta Sutra, then perhaps they could have explained those words to me—but not necessarily.

“‘All phenomena are non-arising, because they have the nature of Tathata. All phenomena are non-ceasing, because they rise from Emptiness.’ The nature of Tathata will not move to do anything; it is completely passive. Only if you implore will anything be given to you; if you do not implore, the causal conditions will not be produced, and only by imploring will they arise. Only then can your nature of Tathata reflect phenomena. Every time I ask you what the matter is, if you tell me nothing is the matter, then nothing is the matter—but this is true for me, not you. If you do not possess causal conditions, then no phenomena will be produced. Don’t think that facing a Buddha statue will cause the Buddha to come and bestow blessings; causal conditions will only arise if you implore. The Buddha’s nature of Tathata is completely still, like the surface of a mirror with nothing in it; not the slightest thing can cause the Buddha to deliberately do anything. Going along with sentient beings does not mean getting caught up in their karma and satisfying their desires; it means acting in accordance with their causal conditions.

“I knew, for example, that the family members of the disciple who passed away recently would slander the Buddha, so I helped them in accordance with their causal conditions to prevent them from doing so. This disciple had died with his respirator still on, so how could I sleep at night? Luckily, Dharma Protector Achi is very compassionate, so I was able to get some shut-eye the following day. If you do not understand the concept that the nature of the Dharma is emptiness, then no Dharma you perform will be of any use to sentient beings. If you are attached to these phenomena, then you will not know what sentient beings are thinking. If that is the case, then wherein lies their problem? It is because your mirror cannot reflect the phenomena of sentient beings. Only people who understand Emptiness can reflect the source of sentient beings’ problems and provide assistance in accordance with the Dharma. If I had replied to this disciple’s family by saying, ‘This disciple is already dead, so I don’t need to save him,’ they certainly would have jumped to their feet. I therefore waited to see whether or not this disciple could gather enough good fortune, and whether or not he had the right causal conditions; I gave of my patience. Other people would have told them to do recitation assistance because he had now died for eight hours. If I had said this, his family members would likewise have jumped up in surprise. However, once the good fortune had been accumulated, they immediately accepted the situation; it came after they made offerings. It was just the disciple’s wife who spoke into his ear, but nothing essentially has yet been done. To this day I still have not received any offerings. You should not make empty promises; without actions to back your words up, they are useless, because you aren’t dead yet.

“In the sutra text it is written, ‘All phenomena are non-acting, because no one exists to take action.’

“A Buddha would not take the initiative to seek you out individually unless you and this yidam, Buddha, and guru had maintained a very deep connection over the course of many lifetimes. If you had not, then that guru, Buddha, or Bodhisattva would not intentionally appear for you. They would only be moved when the supplicant had something occurred, due to having accumulated very profound causal conditions in the past. Some people say that when meditating they have seen Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara appear before them. If you did not achieve the fruition level of a Bodhisattva in your past lives, then you cannot possibly see a Bodhisattva’s Sambhogakaya or Nirmanakaya. If you see something like that, then it is fake. Lord Jigten Sumgön once saved me; right before I had an accident, I very clearly saw him. However, he only saved me once, and I have never seen him since. Did this mean that I would never again be in danger of dying? No; it still could have happened. So why am I still okay? It is because ever since that moment, I have practiced very diligently. What about you? If you are saved once from dying, you think it means you have good longevity, have cultivated well, and made offerings. You also think you do really well, and your guru treats you well. You don’t listen or practice diligently; you think you are right. I often say to you that I can only save you one time, and that after that you should rely on your own practices. This does not mean that your guru lacks compassion; it means that your guru can only ward you from the effects of your karma once. I cannot stop your karma from affecting you forever, though, because it is all the result of debts you owe and acts you have committed. You should not think that your guru is compassionate because he wards off your bad karma to let you make money and live the good life. I am very compassionate to all suffering sentient beings in need; the problem is whether or not they listen. If they do not, then helping them will be useless.

“If you do not have an affinity with your guru, the Buddhas, or the Bodhisattvas, then They will not intentionally appear for you. This is because the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and your guru do not do things for appearances’ sake, and would never save a specific individual. Their aspiration is to save any suffering sentient beings; as long as you implore for Their help, They will become attuned to you—but this does not mean you should implore because you do not have enough money to pay your rent or mortgage. I used to not have enough money to pay rent, too; I couldn’t even afford to eat—but I never once implored for help in such matters from Dharma Protector Achi. I only implored Dharma Protector Achi to help me complete the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices, and sure enough, I really did end up succeeding in that. Why did I become attuned after imploring? It was because the aspiration of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Dharma Protectors, and all gurus embodies a hope that sentient beings will all stop falling into the suffering sea of reincarnation, and get liberated from life and death. It is not that I will not help you with your worldly affairs at all; I might give you one or two pieces of advice, but that is enough. Do not treat me like an ATM that you just keep making withdrawals. What have you given your guru? From a mundane point of view, you have not even given me half of your property, so how can you keep making withdrawals unlimitedly? From a supramundane point of view, your guru will of course assist you, but the problem is that you will not accept supramundane advice; you only want help with the mundane so that everything goes your way and you can strike it rich. If you want everything in your mundane lives to go smoothly, then you must first do a good job of cultivating the supramundane. Only then will your problems in your mundane lives go away. However, none of you understands this. If you keep on treating your guru like an ATM, then at some point I’ll have to start requiring something in return.

“To give a perfect example, a disciple of mine, while we were eating together in a restaurant, once asked me when he could hang up a sign for his place of business. I asked him, ‘What sort of place is it?’ He answered, ‘It’s a restaurant.’” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked the attendees, “What is a restaurant used for?” The attendees answered, “For eating.” The guru continued: “A couple of weeks later, this disciple approached me again, this time we were in another restaurant. He would not give up, and asked me the same question. Again I asked, ‘What sort of place is it?’ He replied, ‘A restaurant.’ I stopped speaking then. He thought he and I were quite familiar, but he actually has no respect for his guru; he thought I would keep answering any questions he had for me. You should not treat me like an ATM by continuously making withdrawals, over and over. If I were really an ATM, then you would first have to deposit funds into the bank before you could withdraw any money! The problem is you do not make deposits here! You ask me questions whenever you like, and then expect me to answer them right away. None of you does what I want you to. Thus begins the cycle of cause and effect! You had better believe it.

“The words, ‘because no one exists to take action,’ mean that no one is to do certain things purposely for you; all of them happen because of your own causal conditions. If Buddhist practitioners accepts the fact that conditions arise and cease, and that everything—both good and bad—is a result of what they have done or taken a part in, then they will not give rise to any afflictions. As long as you still feel that you are the most important, the best, or the prettiest person around, then you will always feel that anything other people say is being said about you. If the greatest people in the world ceased to exist, the world would still keep on turning without them. These people think that everything good happens because of them and they are the greatest. Why are they liable to be ignorant? It is because they do not accept the law of cause and condition. This is why the Buddha said, ‘because no one exists to take action.’ No one specifically does anything; all phenomena are produced by causes and conditions. You hope your guru, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas will specially bestow blessings upon you, but what should you do to make this happen? I am not talking about making offerings; rather: Have you listened with one hundred percent of your attention to the Dharmas taught by your guru, and implemented them in your lives right away? None of you has; as soon as you encounter a conflict of interest, you immediately put Buddhism aside.

“If I keep on talking, you’ll all be very confused, and you won’t understand me anyway, so that’s all I’ll say for today.” His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked the monastics whether or not they had understood the day’s teachings, and they reported that they had. Smiling, the guru said, “I am very happy to hear that you can understand me.”

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. All rising, they paid reverent homage as His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne.

Updated on December 3, 2017