His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – July 2, 2017

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne, and bestowed precious Dharma teachings upon all of the attendees.

First, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led everyone in recitation of the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, and then the guru continued teachings on the Universal Gate Chapter.

“The Great Six-Syllable Mantra is Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s heart mantra. It and the Great Compassion Mantra both are associated with Avalokiteshvara, though the latter is longer. Asking you to keep your minds empty of thoughts while chanting the Great Compassion Mantra would not be possible. In the Tantra section of the Buddhist Canon, Shakyamuni Buddha stated that even with His wisdom, it would take more than a minor kalpa to explain all the merits of chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra. Many people think they have to learn a lot of Dharmas in order to practice Buddhism, but merits can actually be derived from just a single mantra, as long as you have been transmitted the Dharma and are cultivating it. This does not mean you can simply chant it by yourself. A lot of people assume they can effectively chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra just from having heard it before. All mantras are secrets of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, meaning that any given mantra encompasses all of a Buddha’s or Bodhisattva’s merits, aspirations, compassion, and deeds accumulated through cultivation. The merits obtained through this process are only known to the yidam and the guru, in the same way that in my constant cultivation, only my guru, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas are aware of the tiny amount of merits I have accumulated. No ordinary people know.

“Ordinary people are those still trapped in the suffering sea of reincarnation. Don’t assume that you will know of my actions just because you’ve taken refuge, learned, and chanted; as long as you still have not attained the fruition of a Bodhisattva, you cannot understand the merits of a Vajrayana guru. As His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang once said, ‘While learning Buddhism, you might feel that your guru has a problem; it is not your guru that has a problem, but your mind.’ This does not mean we should put blind trust and faith in a Dharma master. I previously spoke about a guru’s observation of his or her disciples, and vice versa, so today I won’t repeat those teachings. A meritorious guru does not simply make things up; in terms of Tibetan Buddhism, one must have a clear lineage, because it is impossible to achieve attainment in this lifetime all by oneself. Many people say it is written in the sutras that you can become enlightened as long as you make vows. How many people are actually able to accomplish the things mentioned in the sutras? So many people chant the Buddhas’ names every day, yet how many of them end up achieving attainment? Having a lineage means a practitioner is not making up Dharmas with his or her own consciousness and thoughts; they have a basis and a precedent. By way of experience gained through practice and learning, a practitioner comes to realize the true profundities of the Dharma, and only then transmits these to his or her disciples.

“Many people think they can speak about Buddhism and what they understand of it to others just because they have chanted the Buddhas’ names, listened to the Dharma, and learned how to recite sutras. According to the Ratnakuta Sutra, for instance, in order to ascend a Dharma throne, which is this sort of Vajrayana throne, a guru must meet twenty indispensable conditions. Anyone who does not meet all of them may not ascend the Dharma throne to speak the Dharma. If someone sits on it anyway, a lot of problems will occur. We often see a lot of so-called ‘great masters’ with lots of disciples and believers end up succumbing to all manner of physical ailments; quite a few people assume this is because they are helping sentient beings bear the weight of their karma. According to the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, a virtuous mentor is able to block sentient beings’ karmic hindrances for them, not bear their karma; otherwise we could just ask the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to carry our karma, and everyone would live happily ever after. Some people expect their gurus and Dharma masters to take responsibility for everything for them so that they can live a carefree life.

“I once heard a very absurd yet true story. A woman said to a Dharma master, ‘Master! You have to save me!’ Thinking she must have a very serious issue, this monastic asked what had happened. She replied that her son was getting married, and could not afford to pay for the wedding banquet, so she was there to ask him for money. Of course he was not willing to grant her request; in the end, she said, ‘Master, you aren’t compassionate at all!’

“When I heard this story, I thought it was a joke, but now that I have so many disciples, I have heard some of them say this sort of thing: ‘Rinpoche won’t even help me.’ What should I help you with? Does helping you mean making you strike it rich? Does it mean enabling you to get married? That is absolute nonsense, and destructive to Buddhism. The purpose of the Dharma is not to help us with these things. If you do not understand it, you are liable to unconsciously slander the Buddha or look down on the Three Jewels. It is stated in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows that a guru able to speak the Dharma from atop the Dharma throne is one of the Three Jewels. If a guru speaking the Dharma were not meritorious, then that guru would not be able to keep doing it for long. This is especially true of me: If I were bad at keeping the precepts, how could I liberate people so frequently? How could I transfer people’s consciousness from so far away, causing a hole to appear in their crown chakras? All of this is due to my observance of the precepts. Many people view their guru through a lens of their own desires, and they are wrong to do so. This is the reason His Holiness said that when you feel there is a problem with your guru, it is actually your mind that has the problem. This is because you make demands of your guru to satisfy your desires, not because you want to learn the Dharma to become liberated from life and death, repay all of the karmic debt you owe from all of the evil acts you have committed in your past lives, or amend your ways. Rather, you do everything for the sake of your own desires, whether you are coveting the Dharma or something else.

“Today I have suddenly decided to talk about the Universal Gate Chapter because you have all heard about Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara ever since you were little, but nowadays everyone worships him as if he were a deity. If Avalokiteshvara were a deity, there would be no need to make prostrations to him. The Universal Gate Chapter is part of the Lotus Sutra. Before this sutra was spoken, Shakyamuni Buddha announced to His disciples that He was going to expound it, and many of the ones who were arhats left, refusing to listen. Their concept of the Lotus Sutra was that it taught sentient beings to comprehend the suffering of reincarnation, that they should take refuge in the Three Jewels, and that they must rely on the teachings of the guru, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas in order to become liberated from life and death. This was different from cultivating to become an arhat; arhats were self-centered, so they believed they could resolve the issue of life and death themselves and that none of the rest had anything to do with them. As a result, many of the Buddha’s disciples left rather than listen to Him expound the Lotus Sutra. In the beginning of the sutra it is written that Shakyamuni Buddha explained to sentient beings that reincarnation is a house on fire; that everyone is living in a burning house without even knowing it, and thinking it is all a great bunch of fun. This was why the Buddha revealed Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhism; it was to help sentient beings to escape the burning house of reincarnation. A lot of people think the burning house of reincarnation has nothing to do with us, but the Buddha said ‘the sentient beings of the Six Realms,’ so that includes each and every one of us.

“Even if you are an ordained practitioner, if you do not try to understand what Buddhism is about, then you will be plagued with so many problems, and your recitation of the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas will be useless. Lay practitioners have a heap of their own issues as well. Buddhism is not being ruined by non-Buddhists; it is being ruined by these self-proclaimed Buddhists who are not even willing to change themselves. Each of them is greedy; not only do they swindle money from others, but they even say they are doing it for Buddhism, so it doesn’t matter, and that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can go ahead and punish them later. Actually, neither the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, nor your guru will punish you; it is you who must bear your own karmic retribution—yet none of you believes in cause and effect.

“Yesterday a pair of sisters sought an audience with me together. The older sister was ill, and the younger sister wore a blank expression and looked very unhappy. The older sister said that two years previously they had sought an audience with me, and I had told them to get their mom to eat vegetarian. However, they had not done as they were told. They told me they were sorry for this. Was the implication that she had only fallen ill because she had let me down? You all speak like this. Your way of thinking is that because you have let me down, you are out of luck and will get punished and dealt with. You believe you have disappointed me, so I won’t save or help you and am angry with you! In all of this, you are slandering your guru. What does it have to do with me? It’s like studying in school; say your teacher has given you so many lessons, yet when you get home, you do not do any review. If you then do poorly on the test, does that have anything to do with your teacher? I often say that I have so many disciples, each with different needs, so that is your own problem. It is the equivalent of a teacher with more than forty students who lectures to them all at the same time in class. Why do some of them do well on the test while others do not? The ones who fail say it was because they offended the teacher. Everyone does the wrong thing and then throws the blame onto the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, and their guru. Luckily, after I explained the true meaning of the Dharma to the sisters who came yesterday, the younger one completely changed her way of looking at things; otherwise she would have continued to mistakenly believe that she was being punished as a result of not having gotten her mother to eat vegetarian. This sort of attitude is evil.

“It’s like how some people who come seeking audience say the wrongdoings they have committed have consumed my good fortune. When they say it, it sounds like they are being lofty, but actually they are trying to trick me. They have clearly committed offenses, so they must bear their own karmic retribution. Those people who quarrel in the dormitory will certainly have to face karmic retribution; there is no need for them to report to me. If you do not believe in karmic retribution, you naturally will not keep the precepts. Why must you vow to keep the precepts when you take refuge? First of all, the precept body is used to protect you; only if you are willing to keep the precepts will your karmic creditors from past lives only do limited harm to you, even if they seek you out. Secondly, the precept body safeguards you from committing further evil acts. Without it, you are certain to commit evil. Do any of you believe how serious it is to break a precept? None of you does. If we did not have the precepts, then no Dharmas would be of any use, nor would anything we chant or any prostrations we perform. We would only be able to obtain a little good fortune of the Human and Heaven Realms, and perhaps even some good fortune of the Animal Realm in our future lives. I am constantly telling you that as disciples, you must be different from others; you must know constrain your actions of body, speech, and mind. The foremost of the Six Paramitas is forbearance; this does not mean not getting angry when someone else loses his or her temper. Rather, it means you must put up with what ordinary people cannot. Nevertheless, you refuse to listen; you become lax in body and mind, and only after you do something wrong do you then give excuses, try to think of a way to resolve the problem, and come here to say you are sorry! You are not repenting; you are simply apologizing.

“Why are you unable to achieve attainment? If you do not keep the precepts, then no amount of mantra chanting will be of any use. Many people wonder why they are still sick even though they’ve been chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra on a daily basis. It is because they have not kept the precepts. A lot of people wonder why just a tiny transgression should be such a big deal. They wonder if gossiping or speaking divisively about others is really so serious. It is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows that if you engage in divisive speech while you are still alive, then after you die you will go to the Plowing Tongue Hell. If someone tells you about another person’s affairs, and you then repeat it to someone else, then you are speaking divisively; if you have listened to someone’s gossip without discerning between right and wrong, then this, too, is divisive speech. You would say that you didn’t say anything, but none of you is afraid of cause and effect; it is cause and effect that are afraid of you. Even if you haven’t learned Buddhism, ancient China also teaches us to ‘conceal what is evil and publish what is good.’ If you keep talking about evil, then sooner or later people are bound to learn it. The occurrence of evil is the collective karma of sentient beings; they are naturally sorted out by cause and effect, and there naturally are laws that will deal with them. Once the causal condition has arisen, they will naturally meet with the effect; you don’t need to keep spreading it over and over. Scientific advancement these days brings with it a lot of trouble, too; just about everyone is breaking the precept against divisive speech by way of giving a casual thumbs-up. These actions can create part of their collective karma. How do they have so much free time to constantly mind others’ business? Our country these days has become a nation of gossip; everyone lives by it.

“Vajradhara once said that if you can learn the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, be granted empowerment in it, be transmitted its pith by a guru, and cultivate it through the generation and completion stages, then if you cannot achieve attainment in this lifetime, what he said would be a lie. This means that if you can cultivate it in accordance with the Dharma, then you can become liberated from life and death in this lifetime—and that he was not deceiving you about this. Why are so many people unable to achieve this? It is because they are disrespectful, disobedient, and practice according to their own methods and ideas: ‘I don’t believe that if I implore for help, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara won’t grant it to me.’ Will Avalokiteshvara help you cheat people? If you are obviously engaged in deception, do you think he will help you get over this hurdle without having to go to prison? He will not.

“None of you keeps the precepts. Why don’t you? People who do not respect the Three Jewels naturally do not keep the precepts, while of course those who do respect the Three Jewels keep the precepts. This goes without saying. The Universal Gate Chapter tells you to constantly chant Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s name with respect. If you can do this, then you naturally will be able to keep all of the precepts, and you won’t need anyone to keep going after you all the time.

“If you fail to keep the precepts, it is because you have no reverence for the Three Jewels. You become greedy, deciding to wait and worry about these things after you’ve gotten some money or cheated someone; you think you can just fix things later. You simply do not respect Buddhism or the Three Jewels. You don’t listen to a single word your guru says; you think the point of practicing Buddhism is to make you healthier, make your mom well, put you in a better mood, or make any other sort of improvements, and that all the rest has nothing to do with you. Avalokiteshvara said very clearly that people full of hatred and desires should constantly chant his name with respect. Respect implies listening; if you do not listen, then you naturally will not be respectful. At work, when you see your boss, you tend to be rather respectful, because otherwise he or she might fire you or prevent you from getting a promotion. You are disrespectful to the Three Jewels because they cannot threaten, frighten, or punish you. While at work, would you dare to talk nonsense to your boss? Even if you didn’t get fired, you at least would not get promoted. Shouldn’t you show your boss a little respect? Yet because the Three Jewels cannot give you a promotion or make you rich, you naturally don’t respect them.

“When you are respectful, you will naturally treat the sentient beings around you with respect; only then can you learn to be compassionate. If you do not respect the Three Jewels, you absolutely cannot learn compassion. If you have listened to all these Dharmas yet are still unwilling to go out and implement them, it means you are disrespectful, as are those monastics who have listened to so many teachings yet quarreled over a few trifling matters. If you have no respect, then why are you practicing?

“I scolded those monastics for quarreling in the dormitory. Yesterday they came before me to say who had cursed at whom, who had driven whom out, and who had hit whom. So did you come here to listen to the Universal Gate Chapter in order to obtain blessings and protection? Even if the other person is in the wrong, you should understand that everything results from your affinities; if you’d had enough good affinities, then you would not have encountered such a person. Some businesspeople approach me to get me to turn their businesses around. I often tell them that in all the time that I have been in business for myself, not once have I ever performed the Jambhala or implored the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to make my business improve. I believe in my karmic retribution, good fortune, causes, and conditions, and adapt to each rising condition. Take this temple I am constructing; funds are short, yet I still do not perform the Dharma in an attempt to get more. I just let come what may, according to the causes and conditions of sentient beings. Why were these monastics unwilling to adapt to their conditions as they occurred? Whomever you meet, it has to do with your own affinities, whether they are good or evil. You turn good affinities into evil ones, and those beget even more evil affinities; it would be strange if you did not reincarnate! Since you have taken the Three Precept Platforms, you must keep the precepts in body, speech, and mind. Luckily, you have not taken the Bodhisattva Precepts; if you had, then you would break them simply by speaking a few harsh words. Why don’t you look in the mirror and tell the other person where you have been at fault? You absolutely refuse to admit to any wrongdoing. This way of thinking is rampant all over the world these days: Everything is someone else’s fault. No one believes in causes and conditions—but they affect everything.

“Your ability to listen to the Great Six-Syllable Mantra today is a result of your past causes and conditions. Why did you come back in this lifetime? It is because you did not believe that these six syllables can resolve all matters. The late Drubwang Rinpoche, a master practitioner of the Drikung Kagyu Order, spent his entire life promoting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, and no other Dharma; he did not even bestow any empowerments. I have gradually stopped granting them, too, in order to avoid having to reincarnate because I owe a debt to sentient beings. If you chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, then even if you cannot be reborn in the Pure Land after this lifetime, you will not fall back into the Three Evil Realms as long as you stop committing evil. These six syllables—‘om-ma-ni-pad-me-hum’—closes the doors to the Heaven, Asura, Human, Hungry Ghost, Hell, or Animal Realms so that we will not reincarnate there. In addition, shri, opens the door to being reborn in the Pure Land. This is not simple at all.

“Those who are able to achieve a bit of attainment in chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra will naturally be cured of their physical illnesses. In the text, it is written that you should conduct retreats in accordance with the Dharma. This means being empowered, keeping the precepts, and being absolutely respectful to your guru. If you chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra in accordance with the Dharma a hundred thousand times while in retreat, then you will certainly not reincarnate again; if you chant it a million times, then you will be able to help sentient beings. Whether or not chanting it for other people will have any effect depends on whether or not you have completed a retreat. If you have not, then how can you help sentient beings get to the Pure Land? These million chants are definitely not done with a counter in your hand; they must be chanted in a retreat hut. Many people misunderstand the Dharma because they lack sufficient root capacity. In order to attract more followers, some Dharma masters end up being a bit too casual, but this casualness harms people by causing them to misunderstand the Dharma more and more. In the end, Buddhism becomes a tool of superstition.

“Why should we chant mantras? There is a direct connection between sound and the entire universe. Transformations in various phenomena only occur when sounds are emitted. The blood and qi in our bodies are especially related to sound. The sounds of all the Buddhas’ and Bodhisattvas’ mantras are helpful to us in that they can vibrate those impure karmic energies in our minds. If we constantly think evil thoughts, it is because the energy of our evil karma has not yet dissipated. Why do some people like to praise their guru, while others like to criticize him? It is a very simple concept: If their minds are full of goodness and respect, then they will naturally praise him; if they are full of evil, then they will naturally criticize. Evil thoughts cause them to criticize because their guru has not done what they wanted, so they cannot accept his behavior.

“Only after expounding the Lotus Sutra quite a bit did Shakyamuni Buddha introduce Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. First, people had to have a clear understanding of why they should learn Buddhism: To escape the suffering sea of reincarnation. They therefore needed the help and deliverance of various Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Avalokiteshvara and the rest of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas have a particularly profound connection with humans on Earth, so it is relatively easy for you to become attuned after cultivating Avalokiteshvara’s Dharma. Ordinary people have a very difficult time becoming attuned to the aspirations and merits of some Buddhas, so you cannot cultivate a Dharma just because you want to; some you aren’t even allowed to listen to or look at. This is because these Buddhas do not have a deep affinity with sentient beings on Earth. The Eight Great Bodhisattvas, on the other hand, including Avalokiteshvara and Ksitigarbha, have a profound affinity with Earthly humans, so it is easier for you to become attuned when practicing their Dharmas. Attunement does not mean you will become enlightened or be able to take on disciples and perform the Dharma. It brings you the realization that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are in our minds to assist us in our renouncement of the suffering sea of reincarnation. Only once we understand this will we stop committing offenses, cultivating the wrong way, and being greedy. Do not try to take advantage of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in order to satisfy your desires, because doing so is bad for you.

“As I have said many times, I would not perform the Dharma to resolve problems at home, to assist my business, or even to help my elderly mother even when she was gravely ill. Why not? It is because I understand the ins and outs of causality, and have a deep belief in karmic retribution. Everything arises and ceases according to their conditions; this actually makes me feel more at ease, unlike you. You come to participate in the puja because you want to be healthier or whatever else. If your goal in cultivation is to be healthy, then the Great Six-Syllable Mantra should be sufficient. Why do you still fail to see any effect? While chanting, you are disrespectful to your guru and the Three Jewels; you only respect yourselves. Your minds are full of greed, hatred, and ignorance, no matter how much you chant. If you keep refusing to turn yourself around and change, then you are wasting your time.

“The sutra reads, ‘If Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara needs any devas, nagas, yaksas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, mahoragas, humans, or nonhuman beings to be liberated, he will immediately manifest in the appropriate form and then speak the Dharma for them. If he needs any vajra-bearing deities to be liberated, he will manifest as one, and then speak the Dharma for them.’

“Does this mean Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara will emanate in any of these forms to speak the Dharma to us? Perhaps; perhaps not. The Buddhas and the Great Bodhisattvas all can have these three forms: Nirmanakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Dharmakaya. An emanation is a representation; any guru who has learned Avalokiteshvara’s Dharma can speak the Dharma as his representative. According to the teachings of the Universal Gate Chapter, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s Sambhogakaya will only manifest if he has very clearly spoken the Dharma to a sentient being, who can then benefit vast numbers of sentient beings. There are two ways in which the Sambhogakaya can emanate: One is through rebirth as a human, and the other is through transformation into a body by way of supernatural powers, which manifests to speak the Dharma. Neither of these is your concern; they certainly will not happen to you. This is why you are following a guru like me. Will Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara transform into someone? There is a chance, but in this Age of Degenerate Dharma, the chance is not very big. We can see any person who gives us advice out of genuine goodness as an emanation of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara; we do not need to differentiate and say that only the teachings of master practitioners come from Avalokiteshvara.

“His Holiness once said, ‘Anything one does or says that can benefit sentient beings is the Dharma.’ Benefiting sentient beings doesn’t mean giving them money; I can’t just help someone earn some money after his or her business has failed. If that were the case, then I’d earn some for myself first. Rather, it means saying things that can help them and warning them to stop committing evil; it means speaking words that can assist them in turning from evil to good. This is the Dharma. All sorts of people might say this sort of thing to us, and it all depends on our causes and conditions, so we don’t need to become obsessed with the idea of Avalokiteshvara taking on such a form to speak to us. If you have not become ordained, and do not have the causal condition to do so in this lifetime, then you will be relatively receptive to a lay practitioner speaking to you. The Bodhisattvas have Four All-Embracing Virtues with which to liberate sentient beings, one of which is ‘Adapting Oneself to Others.’ This refers doing the same things, but in a manner that you are more liable to accept. If I were to transform into an alien and then try to speak the Dharma to you, you would feel I was very strange and that my words were none of your concern. If you find someone who has constantly been in retreat and never come out, and that person suddenly speaks a few words to you, you will think this person very sacred. Such a person might speak the Dharma to you, but afterward you will forget it all, because it has nothing to do with you; you will feel that it is too different from your lifestyle.

“Here it specifically says that he will manifest as, for example, an upasaka, upasika, Bhikkhu, Bhikkuni, and so on to speak the Dharma. This does not mean a Sambhogakaya Bodhisattva will appear; rather, it means that anyone that urges us to refrain from evil and do virtuous acts, and be compassionate, is an emanation of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Sometimes on television you will see an animal saving another animal; this is compassion. If you see this sort of news report yet still do not feel that you lack compassion by comparison, then you are lower than a dog, an orangutan, or a bear. If you were an animal, you would need an animal to liberate you; animals cannot understand human language. If you saw an incident in which a dog saved a fish, yet you still did not understand it, then you should prepare yourself to go to the Hell Realm. You may use this to test yourselves.

“I once spotted a group of sparrows clustered around the entrance to the Buddhist Center. One of them was older and bigger than the rest, and was standing on the steps. Previously, I had performed a Fire Offering, so the clumps of grass nearby had grains of rice in them, and a few of the smaller sparrows were jumping off the steps into grass to retrieve some of the rice to bring to the older sparrow to eat. When we see this sort of thing, we realize that what the Buddha said was absolutely right; all things are equal. If you had seen this, you would simply have thought how fun it was that the little sparrows were feeding the older one. You would not have thought about the fact that you yourselves are not filial; it would not have occurred to you that the money you earn today should be used to show filial respect to your parents. You would not have thought that you have learned the Dharma; therefore, you ought to repay the debt of kindness you owe your guru. You would merely have thought it an entertaining sight; this means you lack compassion, are not virtuous, and only care about your own feelings. As long as you have a good heart, all the things you see around you can be helpful to you. Do not assume that practicing Buddhism only entails attending the Buddhist Center, and that once you leave you can resume talking nonsense. Don’t think that you are only practicing if you are chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra three thousand times. You should be practicing twenty-four hours a day, non-stop.

If you monastics continue to allow your minds to go lax, I will tell you to leave. I am seventy years old now, so I don’t have time to waste on listening to your excuses. If you cannot change, it means you do not have an affinity with me.

“Here it is written that Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara will emanate as a deva, naga, yaksa, and so on to liberate sentient beings of the same type. In Tantra it is said that after we receive empowerment and oral transmission of a mantra, we should see all sentient beings as being no different from the yidam. The Universal Gate Chapter gives us the answer: Bodhisattvas take on any form to liberate any sentient being. That is, all sentient beings have a pure, fundamental nature that is no different from that of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; if any difference is perceived, we are the ones who are discriminating. People who have cultivated Tantrayana do not differentiate between Bodhisattvas and ordinary people. You are the ones differentiating; you even see your guru as being different.

“You need to have a clear understanding of this section. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are omnipresent, as is your guru. That doesn’t mean I am there watching you sleep every night or by your side twenty-four hours a day; you have your own private life that has nothing to do with your guru. If you break the precepts after having taken refuge, then even if I might not know right away, and might go for a year or two or three without knowing, suddenly one day I will become aware of it. It’s not that I am spying on you or anything; rather, Dharma Protector Achi tells me. You now know why every person who has taken refuge gets an image of Dharma Protector Achi. You don’t have to accept or receive one; I won’t get mad. It is written quite clearly in Achi’s Dharma text that it can help us to cultivate. If you have accepted this Dharma photo and text, yet you don’t listen, constantly breaking the precepts, Dharma Protector Achi will not punish you, but she will let me know. Once I know, I will fix you based on what I told you when you took refuge.

“The sutra reads, ‘“Aksayamati, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara has succeeded in acquiring benefits such as these and, taking on a variety of different forms, travels among worlds, saving living beings. For this reason, you and the others should single-mindedly offer alms to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.”’

“The Buddha said to Aksayamati that these were the merits of Avalokiteshvara’s achievements. Once Avalokiteshvara had attained such merits, he would certainly have fulfilled his vows. He would not have simply quit after achieving some merits. Merits from cultivation can be divided into those that benefit oneself and those that benefit others. If you wish to go to Amitabha’s Land, the mantras you chant will benefit yourself; if you wish to help sentient beings, however, you must achieve attainment. It’s like what I said earlier; you can only obtain merits and achieve attainment after having chanted the Great Six-Syllable Mantra one million times while in retreat. Don’t assume that you can necessarily benefit sentient beings just because you have cultivated some merits; in Esoteric teachings, for example, if you wish to become a guru, you must do more than simply understand the Dharma. Likewise, just because you have received transmission of a Dharma lineage does not mean you can perform it; you still have to cultivate the yidam, because one yidam’s aspiration is different from those of other yidams. The purpose of cultivating the yidam is to help sentient beings and become their guru. You do not become a guru in order to prove that you have merits or are well-cultivated, nor should your goal be to liberate sentient beings so that you can attain Buddhahood sooner. If you make vows left and right yet you have not cultivated the yidam, then your desire to be a guru will end up bringing you a heap of problems. Many people do not understand this; they think they can go out and teach people Buddhism as soon as they have graduated from university.

“‘Taking on a variety of different forms, he travels from world to world.’ Not residing in any one place for very long, Bodhisattvas liberate sentient beings as their causes and conditions arise and cease. When sentient beings are in need and possess the right conditions, the Bodhisattvas appear; once those conditions have ceased, they will leave. They would certainly not be attached to any given location and stay there forever. Even if you set up statues of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and are making prostrations to them, that does not mean they would have necessarily stayed; they leave when your affinities with them have ceased. The word ‘travels’ used here means to move around to every corner of the universe. It is like the line written in the Long Life Prayer bestowed upon me by His Holiness: ‘Freely traveling wherever virtuous affinities exist.’ Bodhisattvas go wherever virtuous affinities exist. Just because I am building a temple does not mean I will necessarily reside in it. I often say that a Buddhist center cannot tie me down; once the condition for being there ceases, then I will leave. None of you practices; I talk and talk to you, yet you persist in your old habits. Thus, when the virtuous affinity for being here ceases to exist, I will leave. You say you are very observant, yet why wouldn’t you pay some attention to the people around you whether or not they are doing as they are told?

“In the word ‘dutuo,’ or ‘liberating sentient beings,’ ‘du’ means to transfer their consciousness, while ‘tuo’ means to deliver them from the suffering of reincarnation.

“‘For this reason you and the others should wholeheartedly make offerings to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.’ The word ‘wholeheartedly’ I have already explained. Offerings are offerings, and should be made without requesting anything in return. Many people make offerings to Avalokiteshvara, and after chanting the Great Compassion Mantra, say a heap of things to him: ‘I have finished chanting this mantra, so please give me some great water of compassion to drink. Once I drink it, may I become healthier so that I can help sentient beings.’ This is total nonsense. ‘Wholeheartedly’ means making offerings unreservedly from one’s heart and mind. If we believe in the Dharma and cause and effect, and know without a doubt that as long as we make offerings we are sure to obtain good karmic effects, then what else is there to ask for? If you ask for more, then you do not believe in cause and effect. You just feel that if you have given something, you should get many things in return, but those are not necessary. If you are imploring for the sake of sentient beings, that is okay; so is requesting something that will help you to be reborn in the Pure Land. However, if you are asking for help with minor family issues, physical ailments, or problems with your business, then no amount of supplication will work. This is because if you do not believe in cause and effect or have no faith in your guru, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas, then none of your prayers will be answered.

“I do not perform the Jambhala while doing business, because I believe in my own causes, conditions, and good fortune. Why would I perform it? If I did, I would suddenly have a lot of money, but later on I’d have to gradually pay it back by encountering problems. This would be overly exhausting. I adapt to each rising condition. You refuse to learn this; you all try to exploit conditions.

“The sutra reads, ‘“This Bodhisattva-Mahasattva Avalokiteshvara can bestow courage upon those who are in fearful, pressing, or difficult circumstances.”’

“This line is very important; Avalokiteshvara is a Great Bodhisattva. Regarding the word ‘fearful,’ both before and after our death, we will be in a most frightened state of mind. Before you die, you do not know what death will be like, whether or not it will hurt when you stop breathing, and so on. If you have not practiced Buddhism, or if you do not have faith or respect for your guru, then even if you ordinarily chant mantras, you still will feel fearful at this time. There was once a monastic, second-in-charge at a temple, who was suffering in the final stages of cancer. Though she had many disciples, before she died she did not dare to close her eyes and go to sleep at night for fear that she might not see the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas when they came to receive her. Is this not fearfulness? I went to bless her, and only after I expounded the Dharma to her did she feel relieved enough to close her eyes and go to sleep. In the end, I performed the Phowa to help her be reborn in the Pure Land (for a detailed account, refer to Traces of Liberating Beings #046). Going bankrupt is not the scariest thing that can happen to you; it merely leaves you penniless. I have been completely broke before, too; I was so poor I could not afford to eat. However, I have never felt fearful. There is a phenomenon sweeping through Taiwan: People aren’t afraid of anything except being broke. This is the reason so many social problems are reported in the news these days.

“The word ‘fearful’ here does not refer to worldly matters such as the suffering of divorce. Why does divorce result in so much anguish? Conditions arise and cease; if he does not appreciate you, sooner or later someone will. ‘Fearful’ is the completely helplessness people feel shortly before and after they pass away. You don’t know who can help you or save you. Why should you be respectful toward your guru? If you are not, then even if he comes to help you, he won’t be able to due to your lack of belief in him. If you respect your guru, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas, then the moment fearfulness arises in you, your strong faith and confidence in them will suppress any fearlessness. Why do sentient beings that have been liberated by the Chod and the Phowa have no expressions of suffering or terror on their faces? It is because they are not ‘fearful.’ All I have to do is say, ‘Protect this person’s consciousness,’ and all signs of suffering will disappear from the deceased’s face. Has this ever happened?” The attendees responded affirmatively in a loud voice: “Yes!” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued. “Why don’t such deceased look ugly and frightened? They are not ‘fearful’—this is the offering of fearlessness. We can talk about it on a simpler level, too. Someone might be scared of something, but you talk that person down from his or her fear; this is a simple case. Most importantly—and many people have this experience—after I say I will protect the deceased’s consciousness, when you go back and look at his or her face, it will be wearing a peaceful expression. I really do protect and hold the deceased against the karma of his or her past lives, so once this person’s consciousness has been transferred by the Chod, the deceased feels relieved from knowing he or she has been liberated. If a guru has not kept the precepts, then can chanting a few mantras protect the deceased? In fact, for any mantras I chant to be beneficial to sentient beings, I have to observe the precepts strictly, and every thought I give rise to must be in line with the precepts as well.

“Fearfulness is a very important word; it is not about mundane matters. Mundane matters are too simple; they arise and cease according to conditions. Even if you have learned, heard, and practiced the Dharma during your lifetime, as soon as you stop acting in accordance with it, you will become fearful. You will just be like the monastic I mentioned earlier, and she was the second-in-charge at a monastery; you aren’t even the one-hundredth-in-charge, so how can you avoid being ‘fearful’? Why do I constantly scold you and try to get you to develop faith? It is not because I want you to be afraid of me; this ‘fearful’ state of mind is a million times more terrifying that your fear of me. You might be able to avoid feeling afraid by not looking at my face or covering up my Dharma photo atop your altar, but this ‘fearfulness’ mentioned here cannot be gotten rid of.

“We talk about the giving of wealth and of the Dharma, and only after those do we talk about the giving of fearlessness. This is because only people who have cultivated the Bodhisattva Path and attained fruition as Bodhisattvas possess the ability to prevent sentient beings from feeling fearful. This does not refer to mundane matters, which are all very minor; no matter how serious your situation might be, as long as you are still alive, there is still a chance that it will gradually improve. That is not to say that if you are terrified at having gone bankrupt, you will suddenly get out of it or that your creditors will stop chasing you.

“‘Pressing or difficult circumstances’ here refer to the calamities mentioned earlier, such as floods. Why do the Bodhisattvas save people? They do not save everyone. So many people around the world die every day in natural and man-made disasters and accidents; why doesn’t Avalokiteshvara save them? The words ‘pressing or difficult circumstances,’ written in the sutra, come with prerequisites. These are not prerequisites set by Avalokiteshvara; rather, they have to do with whether or not you are qualified to receive the Bodhisattva’s help. It is not that Bodhisattvas discriminate; it is that they cannot save you unless you possess the proper causal conditions.

“Say, for example, you were drowning and a lifeguard threw a rope to save you, telling you to hold on to it; it would be like you refusing because you would prefer something other than a rope. If you do not do as you are told, you most certainly will drown. The lifeguard can only rescue you and bring you to shore if you obediently grab the rope; however, you will still have to use your strength to hold on. It is not that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas set conditions for us to follow. The reason you have to observe the precepts as soon as you begin practicing Buddhism is that when you observe precept bodies, which are necessary for those Dharma protectors and deities to safeguard you and quickly relay your signal to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara; only then can he save you. If you do not keep the precepts, then all those Dharma protectors and deities will leave you, and no amount of chanting, supplicating, or prostration will be of any use. If you don’t believe me, then you might as well stop coming here. Do you think you can be saved on your own? It is stated very clearly in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows that when you chant Ksitigarbha’s name, the nearby ghosts and deities will come to protect you. It does not say Ksitigarbha himself will come to protect you; you are not qualified for that. If ghosts and deities come to safeguard you, it means you are in distress; they will immediately notify Ksitigarbha. The same is true of Avalokiteshvara.

“Did you think that performing Protector Achi’s Dharma would bring Achi to you? It is Achi’s retinue of protector’s protectors’ protectors’ protectors that will glance at you, that’s all—but even this one glance is helpful. If you are disrespectful to your guru, then they will all leave. Do not doubt me; this will definitely happen.

“When you are in pressing or difficult circumstances, what happens to you depends on whether or not you have formed good affinities with the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, and sentient beings. The most important thing is whether or not your fixed karma has matured. If it has, then it means your longevity up to this point in this lifetime should be over. Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara will not save you from dying; he will save you from falling into the Three Evil Realms. As I often mention, the vows I make while practicing Tantra are different from yours. You should not learn them or tell others about them; otherwise, they might think Buddhist practitioners are crazy. I frequently say to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, ‘If death is good for me, please let me die.’ If death can keep me from falling into the Three Evil Realms and allow me to go to the Pure Land, then why would I want to remain attached to this world? If illness is good for me, then let me be ill; if it can allow me to repay a bunch of karmic debt, then why wouldn’t I want to get sick? You would implore for the exact opposite: ‘Let me be healthy so that I can benefit sentient beings.’ This is an indication that you put no trust in the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. If your remaining in this world would be helpful to sentient beings, then you will be given an opportunity.

“In 2007, while I was conducting a retreat on Lapchi Snow Mountain, I had stopped breathing, and my only wish was for Dharma Protector Achi to let me go on living if it would be of use to sentient beings—but to take me away if not. Would you dare to say this? You would say, ‘My husband is young, and I wouldn’t feel at ease knowing he were having to raise the children on his own; please let me live a bit longer.’ This is how you would supplicate. Otherwise, you might tell Dharma Protector Achi, ‘I haven’t helped any sentient beings yet, so let me keep on living.’ This is another of your methods. Yet, by contrast, Achi has allowed me to live this long.

“The sutra reads, ‘“That is why everyone in this Saha World calls him Provider of Fearlessness.”’

“While you are in such circumstances, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara will keep you from feeling afraid. Another of his Dharma titles is ‘Provider of Fearlessness.’ One of the methods of almsgiving is the giving of fearlessness, which is not something ordinary practitioners can achieve. We talk about the giving of wealth, of the Dharma, and of fearlessness, and giving of fearlessness only counts if done in this way. You should not boast that your teaching sentient beings the Dharma is giving of fearlessness; that is not what this means.

“The sutra reads, ‘Bodhisattva Aksayamati said to the Buddha, “World Honored One, now I must make an offering to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.” Then he took from his neck necklaces adorned with numerous precious gems, worth a hundred or a thousand taels of gold, and presented it to the Bodhisattva.’

“After listening to the Buddha speak of so many of Avalokiteshvara’s merits, Aksayamati said, ‘Oh Buddha! I should make an offering to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.’

“Bodhisattva Aksayamati immediately took the jeweled necklaces he was wearing, worth a hundred or a thousand taels of gold—which these days would be at least a few hundred million dollars—and made an offering of them to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Many people say practitioners should not wear jewelry, but as you can see, Aksayamati wore some and so did Avalokiteshvara. Of course, these jewelry were not bought, because Bodhisattvas have no money and wouldn’t know what sort of money to use to buy them. Having accumulated good fortune, Bodhisattvas naturally come by jewelry by way of offerings; this happens naturally, without their even needing to think about it. We visualize Bodhisattvas as wearing precious stones, earrings, eight treasures, and so on. Why do they wear eight? This has to do with Tantra.

“Monastics are not allowed to wear jewelry, but lay practitioners may. This does not mean you should borrow money or swindle money out of your spouses in order to buy some. Without good fortune, you will not be able to even lay eyes on quality jewelry, let alone purchase it. You might hear about something of value, and want to go to the shop and have a look, but if you have no good fortune, then someone will have bought it and left before you even get there.

“Why is this section written in the Universal Gate Chapter? It is because all of a Bodhisattva’s jewelry and precious stones come as a result of having cultivated good fortune. Aksayamati made an offering of the best that he owned to Avalokiteshvara. All Bodhisattvas have various sorts of heavenly garments, but each one wears different-sized jewelry and precious stones. This has to do with their fruition level and amount of good fortune. The jewelry attained by Bodhisattvas of the First, Second, and Third Ground are all of various types. If jewelry were something they should not possess, or were evil, then it would not be mentioned in the sutra. We say there are Eight Treasures in Buddhism. If you cultivate good fortune, then those treasures will naturally appear from somewhere in the universe for you to use. Just because you have saved up some money does not mean you are wealthy. It is very interesting that this section specifically talks about this, which is not mentioned in the other sutras.

“The sutra reads, ‘“Benevolent One, please accept these necklaces of precious gems as an offering of the Dharma.” At that time, however, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara was unwilling to accept the offering.’

“The designation, ‘Benevolent One,’ used here is different from that which is used in Confucianism. Here the term indicates a Bodhisattva who has already achieved attainment through pure and virtuous acts; not just anyone may be called this. This ‘offering of the Dharma’ clearly refers to the giving of jewelry, but here it does not say that it is the giving of wealth; rather, it is the giving of the Dharma. ‘Wealth’ means all the internal and external wealth we possess, and all of our knowledge that can help people; this can be encompassed by ‘the giving of wealth,’ whereas all methods that can assist sentient beings in understanding the suffering of reincarnation and how to escape it are called ‘the giving of the Dharma.’

“Why were these jeweled necklaces considered a gift of the Dharma rather than a gift of wealth?” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche called on a monastic who used to study at a Buddhist college to answer, and she replied with what came to mind. The guru said, “That is not what the Buddhist college taught you; you thought it up yourself. You did not pay attention to what I said. A moment ago, I explained that any method that can help sentient beings to become liberated from life and death and escape reincarnation is called the giving of the Dharma. Bodhisattva Aksayamati did not make that offering of jewelry for his own sake; it was done on behalf of all sentient beings in the hope that they could obtain good fortune and Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s assistance. This was the epitome of the giving of the Dharma. In other words, Aksayamati made this offering of his wealth without expecting anything in return, unlike you, who hope with your measly little offerings to obtain liberation for this person or that.

“‘Dharma’ is defined as selflessness; if everything I do is completely devoid of selfish considerations, and is purely for the benefit and wellbeing of sentient beings, only then can it be called the giving of the Dharma. Although Aksayamati gave the wealth of jewels as an offering to Avalokiteshvara, nevertheless, being a Bodhisattva, he would certainly never make an offering for his own benefit; thus, it was an offering of the Dharma. Even if Aksayamati had cultivated into a Great Dharmakaya Bodhisattva, because he is not an ordinary person, his offerings are not selfish or even the least bit self-serving; as a result, they can be called gifts of the Dharma. Do not think that teaching people a little Buddhism can be called the giving of the Dharma; the profundities of the sutras lie not in their literal meaning, but in the connotations and significance those words contain. If you do not learn through practice, then you will be like this monastic just now, and interpret the text according to your own ideas. If you learn through practical experience, then you can naturally discern Shakyamuni Buddha’s compassion, and will know why He used these words when expounding the sutra.

“Many of you recite the Universal Gate Chapter daily, yet have not noticed this point: Offerings should be gifts of wealth, whereas Bodhisattva Aksayamati said his was a ‘gift of the Dharma.’ Shakyamuni Buddha would not misspeak or misuse a word, so each word is accurate. If you keep using your conscious mind to listen to the Dharma, you will never understand it; nor will you if I don’t explain it to you. For this reason, my teachings about the Dharma are very precious.

“Even though Bodhisattva Aksayamati did not make this offering for his own benefit, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara still would not accept it. Now you know why I am constantly refusing your offerings!

“The sutra reads, ‘Bodhisattva Aksayamati again addressed Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara: “O Benevolent One, please accept these necklaces in order to take pity upon us.”’

“Avalokiteshvara is quite strict; if one’s attitude is even the slightest bit incorrect, then he will not accept one’s offerings—just as I refuse to accept many people’s offerings as well. You might feel that something only crossed your mind briefly, but if that attitude was wrong, then I will not accept your offerings. Aksayamati is much higher in status than you; he has attained fruition as a Bodhisattva—so why didn’t Avalokiteshvara accept his offering?

“‘Please accept these necklaces out of pity for us.’ The reason is evident from this line. Bodhisattva Aksayamati had listened to Shakyamuni Buddha speak a great deal about Avalokiteshvara, but was a bit arrogant; he thought that since he was a Bodhisattva, it should be up to him to make the offering. I dare to say so because in the Ratnakuta Sutra, it is written that to cultivate the Bodhisattva Path and attain fruition as a Bodhisattva, one cannot possess even a little bit of arrogance. Aksayamati is a master practitioner with the fruition of a Bodhisattva, so he immediately said, ‘take pity on us.’ Likewise, your offerings will only be accepted if I take pity on you; it is not that your guru wants your money, or that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas want to take things from you. I pity you for having such heavy karma, and wish to help you to accumulate good fortune. As long as you have even the slightest misplaced thought, however, I will not accept your offerings. Because you do not believe you need to be pitied, and only see yourselves as tossing something at your guru, he therefore will have to accept it. Now you know why I do not accept your offerings; there is a basis for it.

“Bodhisattva Aksayamati made this offering of jeweled necklaces worth a hundred or a thousand taels of gold, but because he had given rise to a tiny bit of arrogance, Avalokiteshvara refused it. Due to being a master practitioner, Aksayamati knew right away, so he immediately said, ‘out of pity for us.’ On the surface, it might seem that Aksayamati was asking for Avalokiteshvara’s pity, but he actually was helping sentient beings. If you want the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and your guru to accept your offerings, then you must develop an attitude of imploring for our pity. This does not mean you are less than us; rather, you must do it this way because your mind is impure, you have very heavy karma, and you need the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and your guru to teach you and save you. For example, in school, if you do a poor job at your studies and are badly behaved, then will the teacher pay any attention to you? No; you will be ignored. If you ever want to change, won’t you have to use a very sincere attitude when asking the teacher for guidance? If you say to the teacher after you’ve done the wrong thing, ‘Hey, teacher, you have to teach me!’ then he or she will certainly not. Arrogantly ordering someone to teach you will not work. This is the sort of attitude with which you all come imploring your guru; you think that because you have made offerings, I should therefore teach you. You even think that if your business has failed, it had to do with me!

“From this line we can see how we should implore; we should supplicate to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to take pity on us. Once they know that you are supplicating in this manner, they will be moved to compassion. If you are arrogant when you supplicate, then they will not. Asking for them to ‘take pity on’ you implies knowing that the grave evil acts you have committed have brought you heavy karma, and that you therefore need the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to save you. Only then will you become attuned to their compassion. If you think your problems stem from your guru lacking sufficient compassion or being incapable of or unwilling to help you, then you will neither become attuned nor be pitied. Even if your guru feels compassion for you, your arrogance will block his blessings.

“I scold you all the time for not understanding the correct attitude with which to make offerings. You say, ‘I am doing it on behalf of sentient beings,’ but so is Bodhisattva Aksayamati. You are all just reading from a script; this is why I often tell you not to do that. I know you are still arrogant. You recite the sutras, yet you do not know the significance of what they contain. The more you listen, the more frightened you get. Despite what you think, the Dharma method of making offerings is not merely mouthing the phrase, ‘on behalf of sentient beings;’ that act does not mean you are doing it not for yourselves, but for them. Rather, the word ‘pity’ is very important. Aksayamati is a Bodhisattva, yet even so, he implored Avalokiteshvara to take pity on them. Who do you think you are to not even implore your guru for pity? You all just do whatever you please; you say you are in dire straits, that your spouse is young and your kids are still little, as a way of threatening and coercing me to save you. If you come here to repent, saying that you have severely heavy karma and imploring for my pity so that you will not fall into the Three Evil Realms, then I will definitely help you. I have experienced what it’s like to have a young wife, small kids, and desperate situations, too, but I never implored the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas like that.

“Even back when I had cancer, I still never made such supplications to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. At the time I was at least a guru, yet I did not make threats to Avalokiteshvara by saying, ‘If you won’t save me, I won’t take on any disciples from now on; I can only take on a lot of disciples and spread the Dharma if you save me.’ I never tried to coerce Dharma Protector Achi, either.

“Do not look down on the Universal Gate Chapter. You have completely failed in cultivating the Dharma of making offerings, so how can you possibly accumulate good fortune? You all ask for something in return; you make offerings of a few things and then want to take something home with you. Aksayamati put on a show for us, indicating that even as a Bodhisattva, he still had shortcomings.’ So what are you? What is so special about you? You think you have made offerings. Have a look at what is written in the sutra. Aksayamati had risen to the fruition of a Bodhisattva; he was not just an ordinary person. Thus, he immediately knew why Avalokiteshvara would not accept his offering, and he did not say Avalokiteshvara lacked compassion. By contrast, whenever I do not accept offerings, many people say I am not compassionate and won’t let them plant a seed of good fortune. People who say this sort of thing are very haughty and arrogant.

“Those of you who dragged your feet in making offerings in support of the temple were haughty and arrogant, too; I have stopped allowing you to make offerings for the temple, period. I am very quick in my actions, as is Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara; we’ll refuse your offerings as soon as you get them out. Actually, I gave you a bit more time to take action. These days we tend to make the mistake of thinking that practicing Buddhism is about being a nice person and not offending anyone; that we should all be very polite and keep this or that person’s secret. Did Avalokiteshvara let Aksayamati save face? Aksayamati was a Great Bodhisattva, and there were many other Bodhisattvas present at the time. Why did Avalokiteshvara refuse Aksayamati’s offering in front of them? Being genuinely compassionate, he immediately corrected Aksayamati for doing wrong. Avalokiteshvara did this for the sake of sentient beings, without dwelling on whether or not he would offend Aksayamati. If Aksayamati had felt offended, then he would not have been qualified to be a Bodhisattva. Had Avalokiteshvara ignored Aksayamati’s error and accepted the offering anyway, then he would not be Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, because he would not have been correcting the attitude of sentient beings. Using this Dharma method of making offerings, these two Bodhisattvas put on a show for everyone to see—yet you all are still confused. One of you even complained that her son’s business failed, and asked why there weren’t any other methods or teachings that would help him. The sutras did not teach me such things, so how can I teach him?

“The sutra reads, ‘The Buddha then said to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, “Out of pity for this Bodhisattva Aksayamati and the fourfold assembly, the devas, nagas, yaksas, gandharvas, asuras, garudas, kimnaras, mahoragas, humans, and nonhuman beings, you should accept these necklaces.”’

“When Avalokiteshvara refused the offering, the Buddha said nothing; only after Aksayamati implored did the Buddha speak. Some of you think I am very mean, and run to complain about me to His Holiness. This is useless, because you have not changed. According to what is written in the sutra, when Avalokiteshvara refused the offering, the Buddha did not say anything; He waited until after Aksayamati had implored for pity. This meant that the Buddha could not do anything until the causal condition arose. If you have not repented, grown respectful, amended your behavior, or done as you were told, then you do not have proper causal conditions. If you have not changed yet, do you think His Holiness will listen to you? His view of my role is different from how you see me. His Holiness has a very clear idea of what this disciple of his is doing.

“At first, the Buddha said nothing. Once Bodhisattva Aksayamati had adjusted his attitude, however, the Buddha knew that the causal condition had arisen for Him to speak. It was not that Shakyamuni Buddha was trying to be a nice person or to put pressure on Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Avalokiteshvara was an ancient Buddha come again, so how could Shakyamuni pressure him? It was that by accepting this offering, Avalokiteshvara would be helping sentient beings to accumulate even more good fortune. It’s like how when His Holiness instructed me to build a temple, a project he has endorsed, he did it to help sentient beings to accumulate vast amounts of good fortune.

“As I have often said, before I do any Buddhism-related activities, such as holding a Grand Puja, I always ask His Holiness for approval. I will only proceed with his consent; this comes from this sutra as well. Shakyamuni was a Buddha, and Avalokiteshvara had been an ancient Buddha, who possessed the fruition of a Bodhisattva at that time. Therefore, when the Buddha spoke, He provided further endorsement of the correctness of Avalokiteshvara’s action, thereby reinforcing the message to sentient beings that they should behave the same way. This Dharma era on Earth is presided over by Shakyamuni Buddha, so from this we can gather the meaning of respect. Avalokiteshvara refused this offering because it had not been made in keeping with Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings. Once Aksayamati corrected himself, his actions were in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings, so the Buddha told Avalokiteshvara to accept the necklaces. I have tried to refuse offerings before, too, and only accepted them after His Holiness instructed me to. You might think the Dharma method of giving offerings is very minor, but it involves an endless amount of Dharmas worth speaking about.

“Sentient beings of the Six Realms include humans, non-humans, and so on. By making this offering, Aksayamati was able to benefit a broad spectrum of sentient beings, as could Avalokiteshvara by accepting it. Many of you think that I am the one who benefits from the offerings you make to me, but you are wrong. When you make offerings, your good fortune will arise, and with those offerings I can help many sentient beings that are connected with you. I wouldn’t say I am remarkable in any way, but I have experienced this many times: When people give rise to the intention to make an offering, they feel a bit better physically, and things begin to turn around for them. This is because their intention to make offerings brings good fortune to their karmic creditors of past lives, so they stop interfering. If I were to accept your offerings without possessing any good fortune, then you could offer me the moon and it still wouldn’t help you at all. I absolutely did not accept any offerings before I had permission from His Holiness; I wouldn’t even take a cent. This is because I believed in cause and effect; if I accepted anything, I would have to pay it back. Why won’t I accept offerings from believers? If they have not taken refuge, it means they are not planning on learning Buddhism and do not want to change their ways. As such, taking their offerings would mean owing them debts. I accept my disciples’ offerings because I am teaching them the Dharma.

“You would say you might not have taken refuge, but you are coming here to listen to the Dharma just the same. You would be wrong. If you have not taken refuge, then nothing I say will be of any use to you, nor will the Dharma protectors and deities help you, because you are not disciples of the Buddha. Some people say they can turn on the television and learn Buddhism that way, but that won’t work. According to the sutras, my experience with cultivation, and what Drubwang Rinpoche has publicly declared, if you have not taken refuge, then no amount of listening or chanting will be of any use, because it cannot change your karma accumulated from past lives. Some of you would refute that by saying you have taken refuge and chanted yet your situation still has not changed. How do you know it has not? You can definitely change your future; that does not mean altering your current situation. What is happening to you right now is the result of what you did before; what will change as a result of your practice is your future. That future might be the next lifetime or it might be the final second you are alive in this one; as long as you are willing to listen and act accordingly, the Dharma is sure to help you. Therefore, that one offering could benefit vast numbers of sentient beings; its significance was demonstrated by two Great Bodhisattvas, and on top of it, the Buddha was there to speak. As such, the merits of this offering were beyond measure.

“The sutra reads, ‘Thereupon, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara took pity on the fourfold assembly, the devas, nagas, humans, non-human beings, and so on, by accepting the necklaces. Dividing them into two parts, he presented one part to Shakyamuni Buddha and the other part to the Stupa of Many Treasures.’

“Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara accepted Bodhisattva Aksayamati’s offering, and then in turn offered it on behalf of sentient beings. He divided the jeweled necklaces into two parts, and with one, he made an offering to Shakyamuni Buddha; the other he gave to the Stupa of Many Treasures. When taking refuge, you are told to be respectful whenever you see a stupa; even the Universal Gate Chapter makes special mention of stupas. A stupa is a structure; why is it deserving of our respect? In Tantra, building a stupa requires many rituals; its interior is tantamount to the unity of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha, and contains all the yidams of both Exoteric and Esoteric Buddhism. It also represents a place in which all of the Buddhas’ and Bodhisattvas’ merits and wisdom are embodied. Thus, the merits of making offerings to a stupa are boundless. From this section it can also be seen that after accepting the offering, Avalokiteshvara went on to divide it and make further offerings of it on behalf of sentient beings. Likewise, when you make offerings to me, I turn around and use them to make offerings. In answer to your question of whom I give them to, I do not remember; as soon as I make an offering, I completely forget about it. However, as long as you have made offerings to me before, then you have a share in any subsequent offerings I make.

“When Avalokiteshvara made this offering to Shakyamuni Buddha, why did the Buddha accept it? It was because He knew very clearly that doing so would benefit sentient beings. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas do not need jewelry; He only accepted this offering out of pity for sentient beings, as was mentioned before. This section of the Universal Gate Chapter is very important, for it teaches us what attitude to have while making offerings as well as the right concepts about the Dharma. The sutra has given us teachings; where we go wrong is by not listening, not accepting them, and going by our own methods. If you do not use the methods told to us by the sutras when conducting yourselves and handling matters, then you are bound to encounter problems. You will commit evil without knowing it, and still think you haven’t done anything wrong. Bodhisattva Aksayamati had such a finely tuned mind that he immediately sensed his error, and changed right away. I scold you day in and day out, yet you are still unwilling to change. Each and every one of you is a stick in the mud!

“That is all I will say about the Universal Gate Chapter for today. Go home and think it over. There is another section yet; after that, it will come to a perfect completion.”

H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the disciples in a performance of the Dharma Protector Achi prayer, dedication, and announced that next week will be the Chod Puja.

Upon the perfect completion of the puja, all the disciples thanked the guru for bestowing compassionate teachings. All rising, they paid reverent homage as H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne.

« Previous – Puja TeachingsNext »

Updated on August 29, 2017