His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – May 8, 2016

In order to compassionately grant the auspicious Green Tara Empowerment to all of the attendees, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche went to the Buddhist Center this morning to perform the preliminary Dharmas. Then, in the afternoon, the guru ascended the Dharma throne to preside over the Green Tara Empowerment Puja, and bestowed precious Dharma teachings upon everyone present.

“Just now I performed the preliminary practice, which signifies the intention to engender an aspiration, take refuge, and give alms to all the sentient beings that would hinder this empowerment puja so that they will stay far away from the mandala. Today I will conduct the Green Tara Empowerment. The Green Tara is one of two tears shed by Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara; the other is the White Tara. When this happened, however, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara was not crying. Rather, this was a manifestation of the ultimate form of compassion: Upon seeing how many sentient beings were still trapped in the suffering sea of reincarnation, the Bodhisattva was moved to tears.

“This Dharma text has been authorized by the Drikung Kagyu Order as a transmission of the teachings of fifty yidams, and was transmitted to me by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang. In ancient India, an empowerment was a kind of authorization ritual that occurred when the king was passing the throne to a prince or successor. The ceremony used a bottle fashioned of gold or silver that was filled with clean water; this was poured onto the prince’s head. In Buddhism, an empowerment symbolizes the authorization granted by your guru to practice a particular Dharma.

“The empowerment ritual only exists in Tibetan Buddhism; to read or recite the sutras, one does not need to be empowered. Any sutra, sastra, or vinaya of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage must be transmitted orally by a guru; only then may one read and recite it. Why is that? In the past, Shakyamuni Buddha transmitted the Dharma orally, unlike those who presume to transmit it via television or video chat nowadays. The advantage of oral transmission is that when your guru transmits a sutra to you, you are receiving it from all of the lineage gurus, along with the power of their blessings. After you have been blessed, your thoughts will no longer be chaotic when you begin to recite the sutra. If you recite a sutra by yourself without having been orally transmitted it, then you will be unable to realize its significance. As such, you must rely on your own ideas to figure out what the sutra text means; you’ll have to use whatever knowledge you have gleaned in this lifetime to decipher its words. You will therefore misunderstand them quite frequently. By way of oral transmission, on the other hand, once you have received oral transmission, and if you have respect and faith in your guru, then reciting the sutra’s contents will allow you to understand their significance. The farther we wander into this Age of Degenerate Dharma, the more diversified the myriad explanations of Buddhism get. Many things will happen as a result.

“One must first be granted empowerment of a Tantric mantra by a meritorious guru before one may receive oral transmission of it. In Tibetan Buddhism, only people with the fruition level of a Rinpoche, and who have been authenticated as such, can bestow empowerments. Is it true that any tulku can do so? No, it is not. The practitioner must also first have undergone a step-by-step process of learning, practicing, and retreats, and then have been authenticated by his or her guru before attaining the ability to grant empowerments. In the Drikung Kagyu Order, to be a Rinpoche who can perform empowerments, it is necessary to complete the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices and at the very least to successfully perform a retreat during which the yidam is cultivated. The requisite time spent in retreat depends on the length of the yidam’s mantra; the shorter ones require three months, while the longer mantras can take an entire year to complete. Of greatest importance is an empowerment called the Great Empowerment of Bka’ Brgyud Sngags Mdzod, the “Treasury of Kagyu Tantras.” This empowerment takes fifteen days. I have only ever seen His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang transmit it four times: Once each in Taiwan, America, India, and another time Ladakh, if I recall. Many people flocked to attend the Treasury of Kagyu Tantras Empowerment Puja. However, on the final day there is a ritual: If a disciple is considered accomplished enough to become a Rinpoche who will be able to grant empowerments to others, then a few rites will be publicly performed and this Rinpoche will be bestowed assurance of being able to perform empowerments in the future. Only after that can he or she learn such rituals as how to initiate empowerments and so on.

“What exactly is done during an empowerment? After becoming empowered, are you then no different than the yidam? No; this is not the case. Today I will bestow this empowerment on the monastics and a few disciples in particular. The rest of you participating in this puja will only form a connection—one that will tie you to the yidam in your future lives.

“If you have not been empowered in a yidam’s mantra, received oral transmission of it, been taught how to visualize, and completed a retreat, then is it possible for you to achieve attainment within this lifetime by practicing this mantra? No; that would be impossible. It is not that your guru considers this Dharma to be his own personal treasure; rather, an empowerment is an authorization for you to practice it so that in the future you can become one and the same with the yidam. All the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas possess the compassion of Emptiness, as well as the great ability to liberate sentient beings from life and death. If you have not made a firm resolution to practice Buddhism with this in mind, then even if you receive empowerments, you still will be incapable of mastering those Dharmas. As such, your guru will not teach them to you for fear that doing so would make you arrogant. While proclaiming the Ratnakuta Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha was sure to add the phrase ‘you must not give rise to arrogance’ at the end of each of the Six Paramitas expounded. This emphasis on avoiding arrogance comes from the fact that if you are arrogant, you cannot be compassionate; if you have no compassion, then Buddhism is absolutely none of your concern. The reason His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang did not publicly praise me prior to 2002 was that until then, he had been afraid that I still might be affected by arrogance.

“Why did the Buddha continuously caution us against becoming arrogant? As we cultivate, now and then our wisdom will manifest; this puts us at risk of assuming that we have grown enlightened and achieved an attainment. As such, we could forget why we are practicing the Dharma. The point of Buddhist cultivation is definitely not to be peaceful or to feel comfortable; if you want that, then you can just stare at the ocean every day. If your goal is to focus your mind, then do not practice Buddhism, because that can be learned from plenty of other paths. A lot of Westerners misunderstand Buddhism; they assume that meditation means focusing their attention and that not thinking about anything else can rid them of afflictions. However, your desire to focus your mind is itself an affliction.

“Becoming empowered means that the guru’s merits from his own cultivation are combined with the yidam’s and then bestowed upon you, granting you the authority to cultivate this yidam until you can eventually achieve attainment and become liberated from life and death. In Tantra, you must respect and submit to your guru. This is not because your guru is very fierce; nor is it because he is supreme or incredible. Rather, it is because when transmitting the Dharma, a meritorious guru’s mind is pure, and devoid of any thoughts of personal gain. When you receive the Dharma from your guru, your mind should be pure, too; you must not be doubtful or receive it just to satisfy your curiosity. In the Dharma text it is written that you should see your guru as being no different from the yidam. You do not possess the good fortune and merits necessary to see the yidam with your own eyes, so your guru transmits the Dharma to you on the yidam’s behalf. If you regard your guru as one and the same with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, then you will receive Their blessings; if you believe your guru to be just an ordinary person, then you will not obtain the yidam’s blessings. Your guru represents all of the lineage’s gurus. If a guru bestows empowerments often, then he or she must go into retreat more so as to replenish the good fortune constantly being given out.

“I’ll start by giving you an overview of the significance of the yidam and empowerment. Don’t succumb to the superstitious belief that empowerments can change your destiny; this will change, of course, if you practice Buddhism. If you do not, then empowerments cannot change you; they will merely increase your good fortune by a small amount. As long as you have attended any empowerment puja, your good fortune will naturally grow, because there the yidam and the guru directly bestow blessings upon you.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the Dharma ritual, pausing to say, “The preliminary practice involves engendering an aspiration of bodhicitta. What is your motive? What made you attend today’s puja? Another point of the ritual is to give alms to those sentient beings that would be jealous and hinder this puja, so that they will leave. Then, a visualization must be conducted for our protection. Next, we will welcome the yidam, the Green Tara, to the mandala; we will welcome the empowering yidam.”

After performing a part of the ritual, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to bestow teachings.

“The ritual conducted just now involves constantly giving tormas as alms. A torma is infused with profound significance. To explain it rather simply, it contains alms—both of the Dharma and of wealth. The point is to give to all of the Dharma protectors in the world, as well as their retinues, to enjoy until they are satisfied. You have all come to this puja full of evil karma; such past transgressions would hinder your ability to practice in the future as well as to receive today’s empowerment. You therefore must start by giving alms and making offerings so that those karmic creditors will leave the mandala, thus enabling you to smoothly receive this empowerment—and allowing your guru to bestow it without a hitch. Another reason is that sentient beings without causes, conditions, and good fortune may not even stay near this mandala to receive the empowerment.”

The ordained disciples offered the mandala to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and implored for the Dharma to be performed on behalf of sentient beings. The guru began to perform the ritual.

Afterward, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, “Usually, prior to a formal empowerment, the guru bestows teachings. Our motive for becoming empowered is vital. What sort of motivation should we possess? We are receiving this empowerment today not in order to acquire any temporary happiness of the Human or Heaven Realms; nor is it so that we can become enlightened or anything like that. The point of today’s empowerment is ‘to liberate the countless sentient beings.’ As long as that is your motive, then even if you cannot succeed within this lifetime, you are bound to succeed sometime in your future lives. I ask a lot of people who seek audiences with me the question, ‘Why are you learning Buddhism?’ They say that they wish to help sentient beings. I then say, ‘If you have not even resolved your own problems yet, then how can you help other sentient beings?’ Secondly, if you do not have a guru to reveal to you how to form an aspiration, then you have not really done so; you have simply had a thought. As is written in the sutras, a bird that learns to utter human words does not understand what they mean. If you parrot whatever someone else says, then you are just like a tape recorder. Some people claim that they can learn Buddhism on their own, but this way of thinking is erroneous. You must have the guidance of a guru; otherwise, you really will go astray. You must have faith in your guru. This does not mean believing in your guru as an ordinary person of flesh and blood; it means believing that your guru has received the Dharmas taught and passed down by Shakyamuni Buddha and the Lineage gurus. The motives I am guiding you and teaching you to have today are different from those you have read in books, watched on television, or heard others speak.

“Regarding the line, ‘to liberate the countless sentient beings,’ there are so many sentient beings that even the Buddha said their number was unfathomable. We humans on earth are not the only ones in this universe; it is written in the sutras that somewhere in the Milky Way Galaxy is a place called Mount Sumeru. People have searched for it, but Mount Sumeru is not actually a mountain; it is energy that has taken the form of one. As is written in the sutras, Earth is the southern land of Jambūdvīpa, and people also exist in the lands to the east, west, and north. These places look different from Earth, and their people have better fortune than we do here. Scientists these days have discovered that there are three other planets out there which have similar conditions to Earth, and could therefore sustain human life. These are not Mars, Saturn, and so on. Buddhism is extraordinarily scientific; it’s just that human experience differs from what the Buddha can see. Humans need to use instruments and machines to probe for proof of something’s existence or nonexistence, but this way of conceptualizing the universe is wrong. You should not be participating in today’s puja because you feel it is a novelty; I neither need nor want to satisfy your curiosity. If you think back to your first day of school, you will recall that you complied with all of your teacher’s instructions and did not dare to stray. You were very attentive, and that is how you should be when practicing Buddhism.

“You should heed your guru’s words. While receiving transmission of this Dharma here today, it should be your hope that you can all liberate countless sentient beings in the future. Only in this way can you repay the debt of gratitude you owe the Buddha and your guru. Each sentient being has its own unique causal conditions with each Buddha; for this reason, one section of the Chod is a prayer that we can help liberate the sentient beings that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have not yet liberated through the Chod performed that day. Despite what you might think, the point of Buddhism is not to be peaceful. The concept of the Dharma is at once both very profound and very great.

“To this end, I ask that you aspire to a supreme, auspicious bodhicitta. Bodhicitta will not come to you just because you want it to; rather, the guru who is transmitting the Dharma to you has already developed this bodhicitta. This cannot be done just by thinking about it; bodhicitta must be actively developed. Your guru has ways of developing your bodhicitta for you. First of all, I must very rigorously require you to observe the Five Precepts and the Ten Meritorious Acts, and to cultivate compassion. Only after you have acquired compassion and gained its strength can you develop bodhicitta. Many people think that making prostrations at a Buddhist temple or doing some volunteer work is aspiring to bodhicitta, but those are just causes and conditions that will give you an opportunity to develop bodhicitta sometime in the future. This is not done with words; instead, the guru must be able to open up the disciples’ bodhicitta for them. This, too, is not done vocally. Rather, various methods are used to completely purify you of all your fundamental darkness and evil habits from past lives; only in this way will you be able to develop bodhicitta. If you still cling to the tiniest notion that you are correct, then you are wrong—because it means you are still attached. As long as you have any attachments, then your compassion will never see the light of day.

“You must aspire to supreme, auspicious bodhicitta, and you must devote your attention, in a right frame of mind that accords with the Dharma, to the profound, supreme Tantra. By ‘devote your attention,’ I mean you must concentrate and be completely attentive. Do not compare and contrast what you hear to what you may or may not have heard in your experience; if you do, then you are not listening very carefully. When His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang transmits the Dharma in Tibetan, I devote my attention; in other words, I listen to the Dharma from within a meditative state. This means to listen to the Dharma using your original nature; it does not mean using language to comprehend it. Only if you listen to the Dharma with your original nature will today’s puja plant a virtuous seed deep in the fields of your Eighth Consciousness, also known as the Alaya Consciousness. We often say, ‘As soon as the Dharma enters your ears, it becomes an eternal seed of Buddhahood.’ Why does it become a seed of Buddhahood? It is because of what we have just talked about. There is a necessary process to this; it cannot be achieved by just turning on the television and listening to someone pontificate. First, you must develop your auspicious bodhicitta; then you must listen with great concentration and respect, and not indulge in your own thoughts. As long as you still cling to your own ideas, you are definitely still subject to your own life experiences; then your Eighth Consciousness will certainly not receive the Dharma.. That being the case, how can those teachings become a seed of Buddhahood?

“According to the Shi-Ming Sastra, in order to receive an empowerment, one must not have any of the following attitudes:

“Number one: Arrogance. If you have only come here to listen and see what it is all about, out of curiosity, then you are arrogant. Likewise, if you cling to the differences between Buddhism and your own customs and culture, then this, too, is arrogance.

“Number two: Lack of Correct Faith. This line is very important. Why should we listen to the Dharma? It is to liberate the countless sentient beings in every corner of the universe, including yourselves. Many say that they want to liberate sentient beings, but until they have helped themselves, how can they help others? Some people very arrogantly say, after only having chanted for a year or two, ‘Hey, look! I chanted for a bit and those ants went away,’ or, ‘When I chanted, that cat became very docile; now it sits by my side every day, listening to the Dharma.’ This is utter nonsense. If they cannot even change their own habits, then how can they hope to change an animal’s behavior? Which has heavy karma? Animals or humans? The former, of course. You cannot even change the people around you, let alone animals. You should be very careful with this sort of thing; even if you never broke the precepts before practicing Buddhism, cultivating with this attitude could cause you to break a heap of them. When I transmitted the Six Paramitas from the Ratnakuta Sutra, and told you not to be arrogant, this is what I was talking about.

“What can you get out of today’s puja? Nothing at all; nor should you come here thinking you use it to alter your health or anything else, because none of that will happen. Why are you here? You are here to ‘liberate the countless sentient beings in every corner of the universe.’ The first part of the word ‘liberate’ here, du, means to help them to escape the suffering sea of reincarnation, and the second part, hua, means to resolve all of the evil karma accumulated from evil acts of body, speech, and mind that they committed in their past lives due to being ignorant of the law of cause and effect. These ‘countless sentient beings in every corner of the universe’ include yourselves, your family members, and all those you have eaten. Thus, you should not deliberately say that you want to help sentient beings in the future. If you cannot even help yourself or the worms and germs in your stomach, then how can you help sentient beings?

“Number three: Taking the Dharma for granted. Many people come here intending to just listen and see what is being said during the puja. None of you aspires to the Dharma; you all take it for granted, and think you are entitled to learn more teachings so that you can understand and practice. This sort of attitude is not one of aspiration. In Buddhism we have a saying: ‘It is difficult to listen to the Buddha Dharma and encounter a guru.’ You might think that nowadays listening to the Dharma is a simple matter of turning on the television or visiting one of the growing number of Buddhist temples, but that is not the case. His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang is very busy, so I always hope against hope for any chance to receive transmission of the Dharma from my guru. It only happens if I have sincerely implored for it, but is not granted just because I want it to be.

“Number four: Scattered thoughts. Your attention is elsewhere. People come here to listen to the Dharma, but instead they are thinking about what they will do with their wives or sons afterward, what dates they have later, and so on. Their focus has flittered off somewhere.

“Number five: Adducting the Five Roots. This is when you feel very bored and nod off after listening for a short while. You think, ‘You’ve said a ton of things, but none of it has anything to do with me; I don’t want any of this. All I want to know is when I will get married, strike it rich, be cured of my illness, and become enlightened. If you keep on talking about stuff I don’t care about, then I’ll stop listening.’ These thoughts are examples of adducting the Five Roots. They are all desires, and unrelated to liberating sentient beings.

“Number six: Fatigue. This happens when you grow bored of listening to the Dharma for a long period of time. Some people listen for a while and then start to wonder when the puja will end, so they surreptitiously glance at their watches. All of these are severe criticisms of how not to listen to the Dharma, and this behavior is impure. For this reason, I often say that you must not fall asleep while listening to the Dharma lest you spend your next incarnation as a pet. This is because your impure thoughts while hearing the Dharma will have produced such defiling elements. Defiling elements include ignorance, and disbelief in cause and effect. People who love to nap while listening to the Dharma are like animals. Those of you who have ever had a cat or dog know that cats and dogs sleep the most during the day. You have been able to listen to the Dharma in this lifetime, so that means you possess good fortune; however, your refusal to believe in cause and effect will lead to your falling into the Animal Realm and being reborn as someone’s pet.

“‘Lack of Correct Faith’ means not believing in your guru and the Right Dharma. ‘Not imploring the Dharma’ means neither admiring nor actively seeking out the Right Dharma. You should not assume that receiving today’s empowerment will mean you have successfully implored the Dharma, because you still need to implore for instruction on how to practice it. ‘Scattered thoughts’ means your attention is on your external environment; such is true of those of you who are constantly glancing around, this way and that. The door of the Five Roots referred to here is that of your ears. Adducting the Five Roots means closing your ears and not listening. Sometimes, when you don’t feel like listening to your parents scold you, you shut your ears and don’t hear a single word; that is what this means. I reprimand these disciples all day long, but if they do not want to listen, then they won’t hear me no matter how harshly I berate them. They think that once they have done their duty, they can just leave.

“We should distance ourselves from these adverse conditions, and develop an auspicious motive to ‘visualize the guru as the yidam and the disciples listening to the Dharma as family.’ These two lines mean that while you are listening to the Dharma, you should not think I am just an ordinary person telling you things; you should view your guru as being one and the same with the yidam. If you perceive a difference, then that is a sign that your mind is discriminating. Not being different from the yidam does not mean that your guru’s flesh is literally that of the Green Tara; rather, it means that his essential nature has transformed to that of the Green Tara, and is therefore helping sentient beings. For us to be able to have more than one thousand four hundred people all in the same place, listening to the same Dharma, means that in the future, we will all be family members in the Dharma Realm. Those who receive the same Dharma should not be jealous or in conflict with each other. It is easy for jealousy to occur within religious groups, because people tend to compare themselves to each other to see who is better at cultivation, who has the Dharma master’s favor, or who isn’t liked as much. All such competition is very bad.

“‘Puja attendees, while listening to the supremely auspicious Tantra, should develop an Uncommon Motive and Behavior.’ Buddhism is separated into Vajrayana, Mahayana, and Hinayana, all of which have ‘Common’ methods. There are both ‘Common’ and ‘Uncommon’ methods of developing compassion and bodhicitta. The sutras belong to the ‘Common’ category, so may be read by all practitioners of the Three Vehicles. Mantras, however, cannot be cultivated unless you have received oral transmission, become empowered, and been taught how to practice them. Hence, they cannot be cultivated in the other two Vehicles, outside of Vajrayana Buddhism, and are referred to as ‘Uncommon’ methods. Therefore, ‘Uncommon Motive and Behavior’ means to ‘liberate countless sentient beings in every corner of the universe.’”

Next, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the attendees in prayer and resumed his teachings.

“The Dharma being performed today embodies the Tantra and essential Tantra of all eighty-four thousand Dharma methods expounded by the Buddha. Tantra is divided into four parts: Kriyayoga, Charyayoga, Yogatantra, and Anuttarayogatantra. The parts being transmitted today are the Kriyayoga and Charyayoga. The Anuttarayogatantra is divided into three types: The Father Tantra, the Mother Tantra, and the Non-dual Tantra.

“The Dharma being transmitted today is Tantra, and its ritual is divided into the three continual expedient methods of Tantra: Path, Effect, and Cause. To practice this Dharma is to perform these three methods simultaneously and sequentially. This Dharma includes the Path of Maturation and the Path of Liberation. If one specializes in this Dharma, then one’s cultivation is sure to bear fruit in this lifetime. This maturation means being able to leave behind the karmic hindrances from your past lives. Tantra can be cultivated and one can reach attainment in it relatively quickly, because it involves practicing the Path, Effects, and Causes methods at the same time. Most cultivation methods are to first practice the Causes and Path methods, and only then to practice the Effects method. ‘Bear fruit in this lifetime’ means that you can definitely see and put into practice the effects of everything you have cultivated in this lifetime; only if this is true can you benefit sentient beings. If your Buddhist cultivation does not come to fruition and you are unable to benefit sentient beings, then you are merely deceiving yourself and others. ‘This is the path to liberation’ means that if you focus on cultivating this Dharma method in this lifetime, then you can definitely become liberated from life and death. So that today’s empowerment will bear fruit, I will give you simple and concise blessings of body, speech, and mind.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to bestow the main practice of the empowerment, and led all of the attendees in another prayer.

“If you are not respectful while participating in today’s puja, then your guru’s compassion will not be moved. The phrase, ‘Great mercy of the void condition, great compassion of the equal body,’ comes from the respect of sentient beings. If sentient beings do not give rise to respect, then their guru’s compassion will remain unmoved. To give the clearest of examples, Shakyamuni Buddha and Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara are compassionate; if They were not, then They could never have attained Buddhahood or become a Bodhisattva, respectively. Since such compassion exists, it seems that no sentient beings on earth should fall victim to disasters or hardship, and everyone should get what they ask for. However, to cause compassion to be moved, one must supplicate with respect and earnestness; only then will this compassion be bequeathed. The word chui here, or bequeath, means to come down from above. Your guru is different from you; he is bound to have more good fortune than you do—not because of his fruition level, but because he is constantly cultivating. When you ask another person for a favor, for example, your attitude must be respectful. Once a disciple of mine, while imploring for a Dharma text, knelt down and said, ‘Now I am eighteen years old. Give me a Dharma text.’ Is this attitude acceptable? Nowadays people of all ages act just like that. If a Dharma master won’t recite sutras for them, they say that Dharma master lacks compassion, and will even haul the Dharma master over the coals. This sort of attitude is tantamount to bullying the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. You are not afraid of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; They will not let you fall into the Hell Realm unless you want to go there. You therefore do not fear Them. Followers of other religions would never dare to sport this sort of attitude or speak to their gods like that, because doing so would cause them to go to hell. You are afraid of spirit mediums; whenever they hit you or scold you, you think you are getting beat and reprimanded by the deities. By contrast, you do not fear what your guru says. You should all understand the special characteristic of Buddhism: You cannot treat it lightly.”

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued, bestowing the empowerments of ‘body,’ ‘speech,’ and ‘mind’ upon the attendees.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to perform the main practice of the empowerment.

“You have just vowed to observe the Samaya Commandments. If you disrespect the Buddha, your guru, or the yidam in this lifetime, then you will not be able to attain Buddhahood for many, many lifetimes. A lot of people wouldn’t think that matters; they would be perfectly happy to enjoy life as humans again. However, as was taught by the Venerable Milarepa, whenever you reincarnate, there is a chance that you will fall into the Hell Realm. Therefore, the Samaya Commandments comprise a promise to the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, the guru, and the yidam. ‘Put more into chanting the yidam’s mantra’ does not refer to how many times you chant it; it means that you must change your attitude. If you break the Samaya Commandments, repenting will not help; only one Dharma method can. Thus, the reason I am so strict is that I know how important the Samaya Commandments are. Today you have recited the vow of keeping the Samaya Commandments. Whether you keep them or not does not matter, so there is no need to worry about falling into the Hell Realm. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas would not send us there. Why, however, are people who break their promises liable to fall into the Hell Realm? It is because they are naturally prone to committing evil and behaving deviously. People who keep their promises, on the other hand, know how to listen; as such, they have fewer chances of doing bad things.

“The Dharma text reads:

‘With the blessings of the yidam,
May I dedicate myself to attending and pleasing the guru;
May I make offerings of my body, speech, and mind to my honorable guru;
May I remain as your disciple lifetime after lifetime;
May I abide and serve my guru, never to be separated from you;
And please dispatch me at any time.’

“From these lines it can be seen how we should reasonably protect and keep the Tantric vows we make. Follow these rules: First of all, do not stray from any of the precepts taught by the Buddha. Secondly, do not break any local laws. How do we ward ourselves against breaking our vows? For this, we need the yidam’s blessings; only then can we obtain our guru’s help through our following and relying on him. Therefore, to attend and please the guru, make an offering to the guru of one’s body, speech, and mind, remain as a disciple through lifetime after lifetime—this is the Uncommon Refuge Prayer of Tantra. You Exoteric practitioners might not have heard this prayer before. As soon as this life is over, it is goodbye, until you reach the Pure Land. As long as you have received empowerments from your guru and refrained from breaking the Samaya Commandments, your Vajrayana guru will help and look after you through lifetime after lifetime until you attain Buddhahood. In this very lifetime, Lord Jigten Sumgön once saved my life and taught the Dharma to me, though he has not reappeared since then. It has been more than eight centuries since Lord Jigten Sumgön was alive, yet he still sees me as a disciple to help. From this you can glean the importance of a Vajrayana guru; without a guru’s supervision and guidance, you would be lost—unless you are another Sixth Patriarch; although even the Six Patriarch needed the teachings of the Fifth Patriarch. After the Sixth Patriarch wrote his verses, he was tested by the Fifth Patriarch before being deemed worthy of receiving transmission of the Fifth Patriarch’s lineage. You should not assume that you can achieve attainment without anyone’s supervision. Actually, being monitored by a guru is way better than being controlled by your karma. You have all been at the mercy of your karma through lifetime after lifetime; you have been unable to escape it. The Buddha said that if you do not believe in cause, effect, and karma, then all of your views would be wicked. This means that you will engage in all manner of very strange behavior.”

Holding the statue of the Green Tara, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, “This statue was passed down to me by a Mahasiddha of the Order, Yunga Rinpoche. Many auspicious and unfathomable signs appeared in the photographs taken at the time, when Yunga Rinpoche had placed this statue of the Green Tara upon my head and was bestowing blessings. This shows how great was the power of those blessings. I won’t say what those auspicious signs were, because I do not wish to encourage any talk about supernatural powers.

Next, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the disciples in the Dharma Protector Achi prayer. Upon its perfect completion, the guru compassionately continued to bestow teachings.

“Although the Drikung Kagyu Order maintains the empowerments of fifty yidams, for those learning Tantra who hope to receive the empowerment of each one, there is actually no point in even trying, because it would take a lot longer than a single lifetime to achieve attainment in all fifty of them. Besides the basic yidams, there are also earth terma empowerments, which are the many Dharma texts of empowerment transmitted by Padmasambhava. The definition of empowerment is granting you the authority to practice this yidam’s Dharma method. Because of our karmic bodies, we cannot rely on our own power to change our karma in this lifetime; for this reason, we must rely on the strength of others. In the Pure Land Sect it is said that one can rely on chanting the Buddha’s name alone to obtain the Buddha’s external help. However, those practitioners do not have this empowerment process; therefore, while chanting the Buddha’s names, frequently their minds often get lost and do not know where their chanting has taken them.

“Furthermore, these days, people want practicing Buddhism to be democratic; they do not want to be supervised. They prefer to practice Buddhism how they like. Sentient beings with this sort of attitude are going to cause Buddhism to disappear ten thousand years from now. Sentient beings are unable to constrain their own minds; they need blessings and supervision from a guru, the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, and the yidams in order to rein their minds in. Buddhist practice does not require distancing oneself from ordinary life. You cannot become Rinpoches, nor will you necessarily have to hide away deep in the mountains to practice. However, you must go into retreat. If you do not complete a retreat in this life, then the chance of your becoming liberated from life and death in this lifetime is exceedingly small. Based on my own cultivation experience and the processes undertaken by the lineage gurus, I have a clear understanding that completing a retreat is an absolute must. If you do not have a suitable location in which to perform a retreat, you will be unable to put a stop to all external causes and conditions. Due to the lack of retreat centers these days, your guru has no choice but to use very strict means to supervise you; nothing else will work. I cannot merely sit quietly, receive your offerings, and let you do whatever you like. When I begin to speak to you very, very politely, you should watch your step.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche reprimanded the disciples in charge Dharma affairs: “These disciples attending to their guru are very nervous, timid, and fearful of being scolded and punished. It is because they have not acted in accordance with what is written in this Dharma text, and have not attended their guru with joy. I never feel nervous when I attend His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, because I am filled with joy whenever I get a chance to do it. It is my belief that serving one’s guru is what every disciple should do. If you are humble, you will serve well.

“This morning, while I was performing preparatory puja, one of the disciples responsible for Dharma affairs made a mistake. Before I had even said anything, this disciple copied another disciple, who previously had served on the Dharma Affairs Team, and slapped himself in the mouth. I have never asked you to hit yourselves, yet this disciple did that, after copycatting the behavior of another. Should he just go ahead and serve that other disciple as his guru? Should he carry on his lineage?!

“I am already nearly in my seventies. You are still so young, and you constantly make mistakes because in your practice, you still have not made a firm resolve to become liberated from life and death. You are still getting blown around by the Eight Winds; every little thing you do, you do in the hope that you will receive praise from your guru. You want me to tell you that you have done a great job and that you are very clever. Whenever I attend His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, I am not swayed by the Eight Winds of the mundane world. Attending one’s guru is what every disciple should do; whether the guru accepts a disciple’s servitude is up to the guru. You should not hope for praise or kindness from your guru for every little deed you do. The politer I am toward you, the more careful you should be. When I stop scolding you, it means I am leaving you behind.

“Today I have bestowed upon you the Green Tara Empowerment. This does not mean that you can definitely receive transmission of the Dharma, nor does it mean that you will definitely receive a copy of the Dharma text. In it there is no mention that the text certainly must be handed out whenever an empowerment is granted; it depends on the faith you have toward your guru. If you commit wrongdoings—either deliberately or not—or approach your Buddhist practice with an incorrect attitude, or have not cultivated Correct Faith, then the Dharma text will not be transmitted to you. Even if you receive it somewhere else, or it has been orally transmitted to you there, that does not mean you are capable of practicing it. This Dharma text I’m using today was passed down to me by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang himself, and I am transmitting from it again. This Dharma lineage is pure, and its practitioners ask nothing in return. Therefore, while imploring the Dharma today, you should do so with great longing in your hearts; do not assume that your guru will give it to you just because you are down on your knees. The Second Patriarch implored the Dharma by cutting off one of his arms. Do not do that; nor do you even have to cut off your hair. It was just an analogy to describe to you the attitude with which you should implore the Dharma. Science is getting more and more advanced these days, but people are less and less respectful toward Buddhism. If the Dharma were useless and not worthy of being cherished, then it would be impossible for this many people to still be willing to practice it a few thousand years later. Buddhism can definitely help people and other sentient beings. It all depends on your decision.”

Upon the successful completion of the puja, the disciples thanked His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in unison for having compassionately granted the empowerment, performed the Dharma, and bestowed teachings. They then stood and paid reverent homage as His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended from the Dharma throne.

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Updated on July 8, 2016