His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – August 20, 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 sutra reads, ‘Suppose someone should wish to do you harm by pushing you into a great pit of fire. Think on the power of Avalokiteshvara, and the pit of fire will change into a pond.’

“‘Think on’ does not mean vocally chanting Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s name; it refers to your thoughts. It’s not that you will be able to think this way the moment something occurs; normally you must have trained your mind constantly. Last time I mentioned the phrase, ‘Such mental glimpses would not be in vain,’ which means that all your thoughts are always reverently focused on Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Then, when a crisis emerges, your thoughts will naturally turn to his merits, compassion, and awe-inspiring power. Most people think they can get Avalokiteshvara to come and bestow protection and blessings just by chanting his name at home, but that is not possible.

“Disciple Zhu, who came out to share his story with us a little while ago, did not explain very clearly why those things happened to his mother and daughter. It was because after having taken refuge for a year, his mom assumed that she could obtain protection simply as a result of taking refuge, eating vegetarian, and reciting the sutras by herself at home. She did not want to be supervised by anyone, so she stopped attending here. This was her karmic hindrance. When you think you are right or your own way is correct, karmic hindrances appear. What makes you believe you are correct? Are you able to succeed such that your ‘…mental glimpses would not be in vain’? Non-Buddhists are comparatively modest; once you’ve learned for one or two or three years, you start thinking the world of yourselves.

“Yesterday a believer who’d come seeking an audience with me said that even after having recited the sutras, his family member was still in a coma. He said he had been told that Tantra is more powerful, so he had come to me. As soon as I heard this, I scolded him. All Dharmas come from the sutras; even Tantra does. Even though I myself did not receive the training to become a sutra master, I achieved attainment by chanting mantras, and the sutras and mantras both serve the same function; it’s just that mantras are more concentrated. Chanting mantras can cause you to achieve attainment very quickly, as well as rapidly transform your karma. It can enable you to help other sentient beings transform their karma, too.

“To use myself as an example, I was once so poor I couldn’t afford to buy food to eat, and I also got skin cancer; nevertheless, I still was able to transform my karma, because I had at least behaved a little bit correctly in my Buddhist practice. The reason none of you can resolve your problems is that you do not do as you are told. The phrase, ‘Such mental glimpses would not be in vain,’ embodies enough for you to cultivate for the rest of your lives! Why do you still greed after empowerments and whatnot? Only a handful of people can achieve what is said in this phrase. Your thoughts must all be focused on Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara before you can say that your mental glimpses have not be in vain. If you take a moment to self-reflect, how many of your thoughts are for your guru and Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara? Everything that comes into your mind is about yourselves; you have completely forgotten about your guru and Avalokiteshvara, because you consider yourselves to be most important. When a disaster or troubles befall you, how can I save you? It’s not that you cannot be saved; rather, it’s that the recollection of your guru’s and Avalokiteshvara’s merits won’t naturally come to your mind.

“Everyone knows I am able to help sentient beings to resolve their illnesses and suffering. Where does this ability come from? It is based on the Dharma. My thoughts are only about my guru, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and sentient beings; none are for myself. By contrast, you only think about yourselves; you are afraid of starving to death or dying poor, of not being able to afford your mortgage or not having a place to live. If you are constantly scared of this and that, then in the end you will be out of luck. Each of you is selfish and self-serving; not a single one of you can let go of the prospect of your own benefits in order to help others. With everything you do or say, your first considerations are whether or not it can benefit you and whether or not you need to take responsibility for it. If you do, then you refuse to do it. How can you amend your ways like that?

“You should not think the Universal Gate Chapter to be very simple. The line, ‘Hearing his name and seeing his form,’ refers to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s Dharmakaya, Sambhogakaya, and Nirmanakaya. A sutra can also be considered a Nirmanakaya, as can a guru who is speaking about the Universal Gate Chapter and Avalokiteshvara’s merits. Many people practicing Buddhism these days still are under the notion that it is about worshiping deities. You think you can cultivate and see Avalokiteshvara, and that he will come and speak to you in a dream. Have a look at what is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows; see how you must practice in order to get Avalokiteshvara to tell you even just a minor thing in a dream. Have you met these prerequisites? If you have not, then do you think drinking a few cups of great compassion water will bring him to appear for you? Each and every one of you is extremely arrogant. So many people fail to practice in accordance with the sutras; they are making up their own rules.

“‘Hearing’ here does not simply refer to hearing with the ears. Rather, it means planting Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s name very deeply within one’s Eighth Consciousness. This means that only if you listen to a Dharma title without hoping for anything in return can it stay in your mind; otherwise, you will not be able to chant it when you are in a dangerous or life-and-death situation. All you will think is that you do not want to die, so no thought of giving yourself to the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Dharma protectors will occur to you. One day during the retreat I conducted on Lapchi Snow Mountain in 2007, I stopped breathing. My heart even stopped beating, but my only supplication to the Dharma protectors was this: ‘If you think my staying here would still be useful to sentient beings, then spare me; if not, then take me with you!’ This is an example of mental glimpses not being in vain and “contemplating his powers of protection.’ I did not give conditions, such as saying that my mother as still alive so I couldn’t die. You do not trust in the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Dharma protectors; you only trust in your own demands, desires, and opinions. That Dharma Protector Achi let me live was not due to my own prowess, but because I could benefit the Order and sentient beings. This was the result of cultivating ordinarily; I was without fear of life and death. Some people tend to complain that they are suffering greatly, and that they wish life would end a bit sooner, but they don’t really want to die; they feel tormented because their physical ailments cannot be cured, and hope that once they die they can be reborn in the Pure Land. What makes them think they can go there? If they have no faith or willingness to repent, then all they are doing is creating yet another desire.

“The point of going to the Pure Land is not to live a comfortable life or enjoy oneself. On the very first day of my retreat on Lapchi Snow Mountain, I was awakened at 3:30 in the morning by birds chirping at me to get up and chant mantras. In Amitabha’s Pure Land, you can’t even sleep until 3:30; some Bodhisattva might suddenly hit you and interrupt your sleep; then you will all have to get out of bed to listen to the Dharma. In the Amitabha Sutra, too, there is mention that sounds from such things as wind, water, and birds all call you awake to chant the Buddhas’ names. Ask yourselves how much you have chanted. Do not assume that imploring to be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land will cause all of your suffering in this lifetime to disappear. What makes you think you can go there and be a Bodhisattva? You have enjoyed all of your good fortune in this lifetime, so now it has all been used up. What does that mean? It means you have spent your life doing nothing but enjoying, and taking advantage of others. That doesn’t mean caring for your family members is wrong, but if, in order to take care of them, you harm others, then it is indeed wrong. Any dubious or fraudulent method of making money is wrong, too. Why would I open a restaurant? You should do the math. Is it more expensive to see a doctor or to eat a healthy meal? These days some people still like to go to those places where you eat ‘til you puke. Be aware that if you are unhealthy, you will not be able to practice Buddhism.

“Lord Jigten Sumgön wrote a book in which he taught people how to cure illnesses, and that such techniques can only be learned through transmission from one’s guru. Several of these Dharma methods included the instructions, ‘Visualize your guru,’ meaning that it is your guru who will come to save you, not the Buddhas or Bodhisattvas. If you are irreverent toward your guru and do not believe in him, then you will not be able to visualize him, and he won’t be able to help you. A lot of people often say they are too broke to make offerings. As I often say, an offering can be a single dollar or a thousand; it is one’s attitude that is most important. You can make an offering with the money you save by skipping a meal, too. Some of you think I am rich, but if I am, it has to do with my own good fortune; what business is it of yours? Each of you is constantly calculating. How many people have I saved? Have I collected money from them? No, I haven’t. Right now I am planning on building a temple, but many of you have not given your support. Gurus at other Buddhist centers could not scold people like this, but I can. Yesterday, Saturday, I refused another few hundred thousand NT dollars in offerings. I decline offerings with alacrity; I am very reluctant to accept them. Thus, you are not qualified to discuss money with me.

“If you do not ordinarily train yourself, then when you have an accident you will not think of your guru, the Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas. You will only think of mundane affairs, and will just wonder why you had to die this way given that you haven’t done anything wrong or murdered anyone. Actually, you don’t have to kill someone; even just a few harmful words spoken to someone can be very serious. Disciple Lai’s careless words could not harm her guru, but they could influence other people’s view of Buddhism. If a sentence or two are enough to make a guru feel that someone has done him injury, then he cannot be called a guru. A few years ago an incident occurred in which I was wronged by someone, yet I did not take any retaliatory measures; I even vowed that when I eventually attain Buddhahood, he will be the first person I liberate.

“You take no responsibility, and do not know the facts. Have you seen how chaotic society is these days? People get murdered every day. In Taiwan, there are reports of murder on a daily basis. Hong Kong is very densely populated; seven or eight million people live in that city—yet even given how crowded a place that city is, people there do not get murdered every day. I grew up in Hong Kong, so I know not as many homicide cases occur there as in Taiwan. Not even Japan can hold a candle to Taiwan’s daily murder rate. You still don’t think you are living in an inharmonious society; you still won’t get to work letting go of all your thoughts and becoming devoted to your practice. You are still scatterbrained, and feel that since you cannot meet the guru’s expectations, you therefore won’t take refuge. Every day that you do not take refuge is a day that you cannot be benefited by the Buddhas’ and Bodhisattvas’ teachings. The Buddha asks nothing of you whatsoever in return.

“Buddhism is different from other religions, in which if you do not believe, you will go to hell; in Buddhism, a lack of faith won’t send you to the Hell Realm, but it will prevent you from being able to learn ways of transforming your karma. If you do not take refuge, and think that your life will change for the better if you just keep coming here and listening, you are wrong, because not taking refuge means you do not want to change. Participating in the pujas can of course bring you good fortune but it cannot help you to change your future lives or become liberated from reincarnation; it can only help you to be reborn in your next lifetime as a pet. Many people doubt this to be true. Foolish people do not believe in cause and effect or the Dharma, but these days so many people see their mental faculties decline, lose their memory, and get dementia in their old age. It would seem to you that they have completely changed; this is an indication that they are getting ready to fall into the Animal Realm in their next lifetime. A true practitioner is extremely clear-headed before passing away; in 2007, when I stopped breathing, I had all my wits about me. I did not feel panic or confusion or fear. Now that I am seventy years old, I am classed as a senior citizen, yet I have no signs of dementia.

“Nonbelievers who come to participate in the pujas merely form affinities with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, which will allow them further opportunities to come in contact with Buddhism in their future lives. Those of you who continuously attend the pujas without taking refuge are just creating opportunities to form affinities with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; it will take you many lifetimes to completely purify your karma and gain another chance to come back and practice.

“‘Think on the power of Avalokiteshvara, and the pit of fire will change into a pond.’ If Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is frequently on your mind, then if someone were to try to push you into a fire pit, the power of your thoughts of Avalokiteshvara’s compassion will cause the pit to change into a pond before you even fall in. It takes only a moment to get pushed and then fall into a fire pit, doesn’t it? It does indeed. Another interpretation of ‘fire pit’ here is this: Say you have been practicing Buddhism, but then something happens that stops you from practicing—such as meeting someone who becomes your boyfriend or girlfriend, or getting a job that will make you a lot of money. People might even do a lot of things to lure you away, telling you not to practice Buddhism for now and instead to go out and make some money; and to stop making offerings until after you have earned enough. This is an example of being pushed into a pit of fire. Neither your guru nor the sutras have ever said you can’t hold a high-paying job while practicing, but you must use your reasoning and listen to the Dharma to analyze things. It’s not that your guru and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will thwart you from doing anything; since you have listened to the Dharma, do you still need me to make decisions regarding you mundane affairs? The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and I can help by preventing you from reincarnating, yet you will not listen, and instead you only want help for your worldly affairs. As your guru, why should I take responsibility for such matters for you? If you get a good job, it’s not like you’ll give half your paycheck to me, so why should I help you make these daily decisions? Nowadays everyone sees a guru as a jitong spirit medium; they ask for advice about every little thing. Even jitong spirit mediums don’t have to answer all of your questions if they don’t want to.

“The fire pit here refers to a pit of desires. If you are in the habit of cultivating Avalokiteshvara’s Dharma, you will suddenly wake up and see this fire as pure Dharma water, and then you will know without a doubt whether or not you should do such a thing. People who ordinarily are disrespectful toward their guru, unwilling to make offerings, and are afraid of dying destitute or starving to death will certainly not possess this sort of capability; they will definitely not be able to bring Avalokiteshvara to mind during times of trouble, because all of their thoughts will be on themselves. Fearful of going hungry, they will make sure they eat three meals a day. Early in my Buddhist practice I used to live meal to meal, never knowing where the money for my next one would come from; meanwhile, I continued making grand prostrations as always. I never said to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, ‘I haven’t eaten dinner yet, so I don’t have the energy to do my prostrations. Hurry up and let me make some money, and I’ll make up those prostrations tomorrow.’ I also never said, ‘I can’t afford to make offerings to my guru right now; I’ll make it up to him once I’ve made some money.’ Shakyamuni Buddha and I have both said countless times that an offering does not depend on your material possessions, but on your attitude. If you constantly complain about being poor, you will get poorer and poorer. It is because you curse yourself into being broke. Do you think the Bodhisattvas would throw money at you?

“In Tantra, the Jambhala is only performed for people who are aspired and resolved to practice in retreat. I have never performed the Jambhala to benefit any of my business entities, so why should I do it for businesspeople such as yourselves? If you have truly made a firm resolution to cultivate diligently and wish to no longer reincarnate, then performing a Jambhala to help you get some resources for the mundane world is allowed, but it cannot possibly assist you in satisfying your desires. Quite a few people have come here imploring for me to perform the Jambhala for them. I also know very well that I have mastered the mantras, and that therefore, my performance of this Dharma would certainly be effective. So why wouldn’t I do it? On the surface, these lines from the text are talking about what would happen if someone pushed you into a fire pit, but not many people would really do that; however, many indeed would push you into not practicing Buddhism anymore. Recently a disciple of mine got a boyfriend, and after that she stopped coming to pujas. I often point out that in Islam, people are required to marry other Muslims, and that Catholics must marry Catholics; so why can’t Buddhists do the same?

“It was reported in the news recently that a Malaysian princess married a Dutchman, and prior to the wedding, he converted to Islam. Most people in the Netherlands observe other religions, yet he converted to Islam to marry a princess. Well, you are not princesses, so you won’t be able to get your fiancées to change religions for you; is it possible for your prospective partners to be so rich as to cause you to quit practicing Buddhism? Perhaps you are wannabe princesses, sitting at home waiting for your knight in shining armor. When two people of different faiths get married, they end up arguing over religious ideas, and sooner or later they will split up. After that, they are full of resentment, blaming their woes on this and that, and thereby creating new evil karma.

“Neither your guru nor the sutras have forbidden you from trying to find a boyfriend or girlfriend, but you should see it for what it is. As I often have said, if it is possible for you to change your partner, then it will happen before you get married. The problem is that if you can’t even change him before you have gotten rid of your last line of defense, then how are you going to do so afterward? It’s not possible. If you’re his already, and it’s a done deal, then why would he change? Many women put blind faith in the idea of wholly giving themselves to their partner to force him to change, but so what if you do give yourself to him? Are you the only female in the entire world?

“These lines serve as a warning to Buddhist practitioners that many such fire pits will appear along their path to cultivation. If you are normally respectful toward your guru and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and a fire pit actually appears and someone has tried to shove you into it, then assuming you have good fortune, you will think of us, and no harm will come to you. If you are ordinarily diligent, have good fortune, and possess a bit of wisdom, divine light may appear suddenly, allowing you to see the danger for what it is. It’s just like something I have previously told you about: A fortuneteller once advised me not to help sentient beings, and to cultivate only for myself instead. This was an example of someone trying to push me into a fire pit. You should not think of yourselves as being masterfully cultivated; you have not cultivated one bit. If it weren’t for your guru’s constant reprimands, you would all have fallen into fire pits.

“When you took refuge, I told you that constantly committing wrongdoings is a mark of being shameless and breaking the precepts, and that a guru is not obligated to interact with such people. This was said by the Buddha; it’s not that the guru has no compassion, but rather, he is so compassionate that he must take such action. If the guru were to allow these people to keep attending even when they have not made a firm resolution to practice, then that would cause them to constantly give rise to slanderous thoughts toward the Buddha and the guru. Because the guru cannot satisfy their desires, allowing them to keep coming would do them harm. A lot of former disciples who have left the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center stand continuously at the door or wait downstairs during the pujas, unwilling to leave, thinking I will change my mind. I will not; a guru’s job is to promote the Dharma. If they still haven’t changed, how can I change my mind? They’ll have to wait until their next lifetime, or until they have hit rock bottom; people only realize their faults when they are suffering the worst.

“These three lines are very important. Along your path to cultivation, if you feel that you are fine and everything is going smoothly, then this means you are about to fall into a fire pit. As I’ve said for the Nth time, just because you have taken refuge and are practicing does not necessarily mean everything will change for the better; wanting things to improve is a mundane desire. After taking refuge, you will gradually walk in a virtuous direction, but before that happens you must repay the karmic debt you owe for all your past evil acts. You must stop committing any evil and only do good before you can get a chance to be purely virtuous. You all fail to do this; your good deeds are interspersed with evil acts, and some of you even do more evil than good. The final chapter of the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows is an admonition to the humans of Earth. We must be cautious; as soon as we begin to feel that things have improved as a result of our practice, we must be even more careful. All of the lineage gurus said that when a guru achieves attainment, he will obtain everything he needs. Do not envy me, however; my money is not my own to use. I am constantly having to spend it for the sake of Buddhism. When my good fortune accumulates, even if I do not ask for anything for myself, all my retinue will come to me. Meanwhile, this is how karmic hindrances can begin to accumulate. Every disciple has karma, so as long as their guru is the slightest bit arrogant or greedy, he will be dragged down by his disciples’ karma. Thus, in everything I do, I must be even more cautious than you.

“The sutra reads, ‘If you should be cast adrift in the vast ocean and menaced by dragons, fish, and various demons, think on the power of Avalokiteshvara, and the waves will not drown you.’

“In the vast ocean, many waves appear; apart from being produced by typhoons, they are primarily caused by the mischief of dragons, fish, and demons. Typhoons are accompanied by the sentient beings of many such creatures. Where do typhoons come from? Most come from the direction of the Philippines or the Pacific. From a scientific standpoint, they result from air currents and other factors, but from a causality standpoint, that region is like a giant fish farm in which more fishing is done than anywhere else. Asian countries catch a lot of fish, so every natural disaster that hits them is severe. You might wonder why not as many typhoons affect America. That country is only two hundred years old, and has a relatively small population compared with Asian countries; in the past its citizens ate a lot of beef, and only now are beginning to eat much seafood. Asian peoples consume more seafood than other meats, and so all those sentient beings follow along with the typhoons to exact their revenge. Typhoons cause enormous harm locally, and even when they sometimes don’t, they are still very terrifying; you feel afraid of them before they even hit, because fearful sentient beings have stirred up dread in you at prospect of approaching disaster, so everyone begins to feel afraid. Why is it said in Tantric sutras that the best time to perform the Dharma is during a storm? Storms are full of sentient beings that must be helped to let go of their resentment and prevented from continuing to create more evil karma. Thus, why is it that every typhoon mysteriously disappears and sometimes even leaves no damage in its wake after the Dharma has been performed? It is based on this.

“Ordinarily, if you constantly perform the Avalokiteshvara ritual, then before your fixed karma has matured—meaning, when you are not yet about to die—but you have been left adrift in the ocean by some calamity and are facing such adversities as dragons, fish, and demons, then because you have been continuously practicing Avalokiteshvara’s Dharma properly and contemplating his powers of compassion, the ocean’s waves will not drown you. In other words, while we are here in the vast sea of reincarnation, many dragons, fish, and ghosts are constantly doing us harm because in our past lives we continuously did the same to them. It seems that the disciple who shared her story before the puja began comes from a family engaged in killing, which is why they have faced so many problems and even ended up moving into a house that was haunted by ghosts. If you encounter a ghost, it is certainly because of something you have done. Ghosts would not otherwise bother to seek you out, for birds of a feather flock together.

“If many of your family members suffer mental illness, then your family definitely has serious karma from killing, although no one believes this to be true. I came to Taiwan more than thirty years ago, and have discovered that an especially large number of people here are afflicted with mental illness. Just yesterday I met two such people. Hong Kong has such a dense population, and competition is very fierce, but its people don’t suffer from as many psychological disorders as people in Taiwan; this has to do with karma from killing. Everyone here implores the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to bring them peace and wellbeing, yet none gives any thought to his or her past wrongdoings.

“This passage of the above four lines also implies that another aspect causing us to be stuck in reincarnation, apart from not having made a firm resolution to escape it, is because of all the sentient beings we have harmed through lifetime after lifetime. In this lifetime they have taken the form of dragons, fish, and demons that try to pull you down so that you cannot break free of the vast sea of reincarnation. Are fish ghosts? Yes, if you eat their flesh, they become ghosts to haunt you. Why are fish cold-blooded? It is because in their previous incarnations they were people who were very cold, never wanting to help people and only wanting to keep to themselves. There are warm-blooded creatures in the Animal Realm; for example, cats and dogs are warm-blooded. A cat, dog, or orangutan might help one of its own kind, but a fish would not. Even if one of its own species were right next to it, it still would not feel anything due to its cold blood. Cold-blooded creatures definitely have heavier karma than warm-blooded ones do. In the Compendium of Medical Herbs, there is mention that animals such as fish and crabs contain cold poison, and won’t change even if they are cooked. Their karma is more severe than most animals, and if you eat them, that karma will enter your body. A favorite dish of the British is fish and chips, but do not assume it does not contain coldness just because the fish has been deep-fried; if you first steam it and then fry it, it would be worse because it contains more cold poison. People who love eating deep-fried fish are very liable to get their skin burned in this lifetime. You have all eaten it before.

“Getting cancer is caused by having eaten fish and killed sentient beings in the past, and brings with it the karmic retribution of a very high chance of falling into the Hell Realm. This is because, first of all, cancer patients have heavy karma from killing; secondly, they are bound to be resentful before they die, so they go down there as soon as they stop breathing. Eating fish can give you diabetes. You think people who eat other meats are the only ones who can get that disease, but eating fish can cause it, too; I know, because I have helped a lot of diabetes patients. There was once an eight- or nine-year-old little boy who got diabetes when he was five, and during an audience with me, his mother said that no one in their family had ever gotten this disease before. When I inquired whether they had ever lived in Africa, she said that they had. I then asked if the locals there had given them a big river fish to eat, and she confirmed it. I explained that her child had gotten sick due to eating that fish, but she wouldn’t believe me. People with diabetes end up having to spend a lot of money on treatment and dialysis; they pay through the nose until they are completely broke.

“On the surface, these lines are about floating in the ocean, but actually you are all bobbing up and down in the vast sea of reincarnation without even knowing it. You think you are living comfortably, and that if you ordinarily offer incense to and worship Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, he will save you. Avalokiteshvara sent you here to be scolded; this is your salvation. If you do not do as you are told, I am bound to reprimand you. Ghosts will cause you to get certain incurable diseases that destabilize your mood, cause you to lose your temper, and drive you insane. The reason for this is that ghosts are greedy; if you are full of greed, they will come to harass you. This happens no matter what you are greedily hankering after.

“The sutra reads, ‘Suppose that you are on the peak of Mt. Sumeru, and someone pushes you off. Think on the power of Avalokiteshvara, and you will hang in mid-air like the sun.’

“Mount Sumeru cannot be seen with the human eye. This place is mentioned in many sutras, yet science cannot confirm its location. Actually, according to the sutras it is in the swirling center of the Milky Way Galaxy; even those who have studied a rudimentary amount of astronomy know what I am talking about. Sentient beings of the Six Realms all live on Mount Sumeru; in order from top to bottom, they exist in the Heaven, Asura, Human, Animal, Hungry Ghost, and Hell Realms. The tallest mountains on Earth are the Himalayas, but this passage is talking about Mount Sumeru, and sentient beings of the Heaven Realm live there.

“If in a past lifetime you continuously did good deeds in the Human Realm and cultivated a little, but were arrogant and thought you were better at practicing than others or looked down on non-Buddhist religions, then you will be reborn in the Heaven Realm. There you will still be subject to the attentions of your karmic creditors of past lives; they will see how great a life you are living on Mount Sumeru. Demons are born into the Heaven Realm, too; they are called heavenly demons. They, too, will try to push sentient beings of the Heaven Realm down from Mount Sumeru into the Hell Realm. Beings of the Asura Realm often fight with those of the Heaven Realm, and demons do, too.

“If this passage were simply about being pushed off a mountain, the words ‘Mount Sumeru’ would not have been written here. Back before we had the word ‘Himalayas,’ perhaps people said ‘the world’s highest mountains;’ here Mount Sumeru is written and the line refers to people in the Heaven Realm. This also indicates that the Universal Gate Chapter is not only useful for liberating humans; it can help to liberate heavenly beings, too. Even if your ancestors used to practice a faith other than Buddhism, and have been reborn in the Heaven Realm, if you constantly recite the Universal Gate Chapter and chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra for them, they will not fall from the Heaven Realm into the Hell Realm.

“‘…You will hang in mid-air like the sun.’ Even if heavenly beings are about to fall into the Hell Realm, or vengeful karmic creditors from past lives want to push them down there, having constant thoughts about Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara will bring his clouds of compassion to prop them up and suspend them in mid-air, like the sun, preventing them from falling and allowing them to live out their lives in the Heaven Realm.

“Things can happen in the Heaven Realm, too, and if you are not careful, you could get tricked into falling down from there. The abilities of sentient beings there vary, too; some heavenly beings are vastly capable, and look down on the less powerful ones, thinking them unworthy of living there with them. As a result, they try to push the lesser ones off the mountain. Going to the Heaven Realm is not as enjoyable as you might imagine; life there is still full of troubles.

“The sutra reads, ‘Suppose that you are being chased by evil men who wish to throw you down from atop a diamond mountain. Think on the power of Avalokiteshvara, and they will not be able to harm a hair of you.’

“‘Chased by evil men,’ in mundane terms, means bad people pursue you and push you off the mountain. If you think of Avalokiteshvara, they won’t hurt a hair of you. The idea of this is that if you have not been purely virtuous in this lifetime, and are still committing some evil, you will have mixed thoughts. For example, some people who attend the pujas do not eat vegetarian or have not taken refuge; their good deeds are interspersed with evil ones. Some such people will repeatedly encounter these sorts of malevolent people, and those encounters will take one of two forms: They either really will chase you off a mountain, or they will harm you and chase you over and over in your dreams. Sentient beings you harmed in previous lifetimes that encounter you in this one will chase you constantly in your dreams, and in the end your health will begin to decline; this includes getting high blood pressure, heart disease, and kidney disease.

“Another explanation of ‘diamond mountain’ is that it is a location at which Vajrayana is practiced. Even for Vajrayana practitioners whose bodhicitta ebbs, who lose the will to benefit sentient beings, and are only in it for themselves, evil karma from their past lives will also appear. As long as you have given rise to bodhicitta and engage in Bodhi acts, this sort of power can block your evil karma from past lives and stop it from coming to you. Why is practicing the Vehicle of Bodhisattvas, or Mahayana Buddhism, more suited to sentient beings in the Age of Degenerate Dharma and lay practitioners? The reason is that we all have extremely heavy evil karma. The evil acts we committed in our past lives cannot be transformed simply by chanting three thousand times, or half an hour or an hour each day; that is not enough. How many pieces are in a packet of deep-fried fish? Each piece is at least half a fish. How many have you eaten? How many fish do you owe a debt to for taking their lives? If you do not practice the Bodhisattva Path, then it is okay to just recite the sutras, too, but you must do so with great concentration and in retreat; all the prerequisites must be met before it will work.

“The sutra reads, ‘Suppose that you are surrounded by evil-hearted bandits, each brandishing a knife with which to wound you. Think on the power of Avalokiteshvara, and at once all will be swayed by compassion.’

“If you go somewhere and a bunch of bandits or a crowd of people try to hurt you, they will feel compassion for you and stay their hands as long as you are thinking about Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Even if you are harmed, you still should treat them with compassion; do not call on Avalokiteshvara to drive them off. This is because only if you give rise to compassion can they become attuned to their own innate compassion. Some people learning Tantra think that cultivating a wrathful yidam can drive away things that would harm them; this way of thinking is wrong. Wrathful yidams embody the ultimate form of compassion, and should only be cultivated if your compassion is extremely developed. These four lines do not mean that thinking about Avalokiteshvara will cause his compassion to influence those bandits into being compassionate themselves. Thinking on Avalokiteshvara means trusting in his arrangements for you; if it is your time to die, then let him take you away! Don’t say, ‘Hey Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, drive those meanies away for me,’ or, ‘Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, my husband is having an affair; please get rid of her for me.’ Thoughts like these are all useless, because you have not given rise to compassion. These four lines do not involve imploring Avalokiteshvara to drive bad guys away for you. He is an emissary of compassion, so only if your thoughts are on him can the power of compassion cause the pure Dharma nature with which sentient beings are endowed to appear instantaneously and make them compassionate enough to decide not to kill you. If you protest that you cannot die because you still have to take care of your mother, or that you still have a wife and kids, or a big company to run, then these kinds of prayers will definitely not work.

“One time, years ago, I was driving over to a gas station and I honked my horn. A driver got out of his car and charged straight at me very menacingly, intending to give me a beating. By then I had begun learning Tantra, so when I saw what was happening, I was not afraid, nor did I resort to chanting mantras. I simply felt sorry for this person for being so filled with hatred. I did not budge, and the moment his fist came in contact with my hand, it rebounded and he was tossed backward a few meters. That driver just stood there stunned, not moving, and after a while got back in his car. My immediate thought had been that there was no need to fight with him, and if it was meant for me to take a beating, then let him hit me! If things haven’t yet gotten to the point that someone is going to hit you, you might be able to reverse the situation by having a compassionate, commiserate attitude. Nevertheless, people in this world love to fight; they like to fight to the death and claim all victories for themselves.

“This is the difficult part of the Universal Gate Chapter to explain. How can you get bandits to give rise to compassion? What possible reason would Avalokiteshvara have to do what you want? Do you think a Bodhisattva will come just because you want him to? The fact is that you are the protagonist; if you are not compassionate, then the sentient beings around you will not sense any compassion in you. If you always want to do this and that and give others a hard time, then Avalokiteshvara certainly will not help you. All of his thoughts are compassionate, so how can he possibly help you to fight with someone? Even if he were to help you, it would be in such a way that would cause the other person to instantly give rise to compassion and say, ‘I don’t want to fight you; let’s drop it!’ If you are not compassionate, you should not cultivate the Dharma of Avalokiteshvara.

“The sutra reads, ‘Suppose that you get in trouble with the king’s law, face punishment, and are about to forfeit your life. Think on the power of Avalokiteshvara, and the executioner’s sword will be broken into bits.’

“This passage is relatively hard to explain. These days, executions are done with guns rather than with swords. The words, ‘in trouble with the king’s law,’ could mean you have not directly broken the law but are an unwitting accessory to a crime, or happen to be in violation of the law because of something that happened. In ancient times, punishment for guilt by association was very severe; a few thousand people could get implicated and executed in the blink of an eye. In today’s terms, you might accidentally get caught up in some bad collective karma, such as going overseas and mysteriously getting kidnapped or arrested and sentenced by government authorities. Even if you are sentenced to die, the executioner’s sword will break. This sort of thing has happened in history; in China, someone who was about to lose his head kept chanting Avalokiteshvara’s name and, bit by bit, the sword broke and fell to the ground; the executioner stopped killing him after that. This didn’t happen by coincidence.

“If you get ‘in trouble with the king’s law,’ it may mean you have committed many evil acts in your past lifetimes, and the karma produced has now matured in this one. It is just like how Shakyamuni Buddha’s clan spent a certain lifetime killing fish; they would drain a pond dry, catch all the fish, and eat them. The consequence was that in a later lifetime, these fish were reborn as humans who became a military group that came and killed the Shakya clan. The leader was a king, too; hence the phrase, ‘in trouble with the king’s law.’ If you have been practicing very diligently in this lifetime, then perhaps you would not meet with an untimely death ; you might instead just have to go to prison, rather than be executed. For example, some people say they don’t want to go to prison, but sometimes going there is better than not going there; if they aren’t imprisoned, there is no telling what sort of accidental death might befall them.

“If you encounter this sort of tribulation, even if you are to be executed in a firing line, you should repent deeply, for this has undoubtedly happened to you as a result of something you did to offend a king in a past life or to get involved in an evil collective karma. You cannot possibly be innocent; this did not happen accidentally or out of nowhere. It definitely had to do with your past actions. You should be deeply repentant, and not say, ‘This king is full of nonsense; he has convicted me for no reason.’ Therefore, giving rise to a repentant attitude means your thoughts toward Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara are always respectful. Respect means that in your supplications to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, including Avalokiteshvara, your reverence and trust in them are not diminished whether or not you obtain the results you were expecting.

“After I began to come in contact with Tantra, my business failed, my family fell apart, and I got cancer. Had you been in my shoes, you would have up and run away long ago. You would say, ‘Isn’t learning Tantras supposed to make you more powerful?’ For me, it has indeed made me powerful; I’ve been able to repay my karmic debts from past lives sooner. The reason people become impoverished is that they are too stingy to give alms and make offerings, or they try to haggle over how much to give, or they drag their feet when doing so.

“In the deepest reaches of your hearts, you think of me as someone with money. Whether or not I am wealthy has only to do with my own good fortune; what business is it of yours? I use my money to benefit sentient beings. If I wanted more of it, I could get it easily; just yesterday, in fact, I refused several offerings. In addition, not long ago, I turned down twenty or thirty million NT dollars from disciples who had the wrong attitude. Why are you so foolish? You simply will not listen, no matter how much I try to tell you! The Glorious Jewel is the most frugal Buddhist center there is; as all monastics know, it is impossible to find any place that will grant your request to have a loved one liberated without demanding a fixed fee. You are still afraid of not being able to eat or pay rent. Back when I was broke, I would walk in the blistering heat of summer all the way from Minsheng Community Center to Xinsheng North Road to attend Dharma teachings. By contrast, you would have complained, ‘It’s too hot out; I’ll just stay home today.’

“All of these mishaps that people encounter are of their own making; they have nothing to do with the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, or gurus. However, good things that happen do indeed have to do with them.

“The sutra reads, ‘Suppose that you are imprisoned in stocks and chains, hands and feet bound by shackles. Think on the power of Avalokiteshvara, and they will fall off, leaving you free.’

“Sometimes you might unexpectedly be captured and locked up. If you dwell on Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s power, you can be freed. I have helped many people. Some people clearly have problems, yet are willing to repent. If I continuously help them, these sorts of issues can be resolved. Such occurrences are the result of having locked up animals in their past lives. For example, some people like to put mice in cages and watch them run around inside. Keeping chickens in pens or chaining dogs up are other examples; lots of people have done this kind of thing. In their future lives, they all have a chance of being imprisoned themselves. If they get locked up, it has to do with their actions committed in previous lifetimes, and they can only escape if they are more resolved to develop a repentant attitude.

“It can also be explained thusly: We are still in the suffering sea of reincarnation, imprisoned by greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt; our minds are constantly consumed with these. For example, those who attend the pujas, yet remain unwilling to take refuge, are full of doubt. They think, ‘I don’t believe it; I’m here to listen to what you have to say until one day I am convinced. Then I will take refuge.’ Do I need to keep talking until you believe me? Whether or not you believe is up to you. Every day that we have not become liberated from reincarnation, we feel bound and imprisoned by the Five Poisons. This often leads to our feeling confined, due to our karma of greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt. Only if you continuously think on the meritorious power of Avalokiteshvara’s compassion can you feel free of the Five Poisons and liberated from life and death. Why would a genuine practitioner not be tied down by such things? As I have said in the past, I don’t worry even if I cannot afford to eat. On the contrary, if you go without a meal one day, you feel like you are starving to death. The only reasons you chant every day are to gain wealth, have things go smoothly, and to be healthy. You have not yet become liberated; you are still tying yourselves down.

“The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas teach that we should learn the Dharma so as to become liberated from life and death. How is this done? It is done by reducing our greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt. Making offerings is an antidote to your greed. Greed is a gateway to all kinds of evil behavior. Lots of people wonder why I have been able to achieve attainment. I have never stopped making offerings and giving alms. It has nothing to do with how much money I give or don’t give; it has to do with my attitude. Whenever I hear something about a chance to make offerings or give alms, I immediately put it into action, as I do whenever the affinity or an opportunity exists. What about you? You think everything over first, and calculate your potential benefits. I am planning on building a Buddhist temple, but you are still biding your time, calculating and waiting! As a result, you have tied yourselves down; the reason you keep waiting is that you possess greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt, and you do not believe. In the past, whenever my Exoteric Dharma master in whom I took refuge called me on the phone asking for any amount of money, I immediately gave it to him without hesitation and without even asking what it was for. When I didn’t have money I was still the same. Later, when I was learning Tantra, I was even more like this. Strangely enough, the more I gave, the more I had. You, on the other hand, are constantly wanting more, but you are broke. You are constantly binding yourselves without even realizing it.

“When taking refuge, you said, ‘I take refuge in the Dharma, and renounce all desire and, thus, gain respect.’ If you leave all of your insistent desires, then you will naturally be respected by others, and will not need to ask for anything. I’ve kept a very low profile ever since I began promoting Buddhism in 1996, but many people know my Dharma name. I have not advertised it, so who has spread the word for me? The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. If I made frequent appearances on television, had written a lot of books, or had my own TV station, then of course I would be very well-known. However, as you know, I have not done such things.

“On the surface you might have been punished for committing some wrongdoings, but actually you have always kept yourselves imprisoned. Only by practicing Buddhism can you be liberated from life and death. That is not done verbally or by shouting slogans, nor is it something your guru can help you do; you yourselves must practice. I keep expounding concepts to you. If your thoughts are different from those of your guru, the Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas, then your mind will run contrary to the Right Path, and none of your supplications will bear fruit. Once you can reduce your greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt, and even rid yourselves entirely of those, then you will naturally be liberated. You will see yourselves gradually stop having the tendency to fall back into the suffering sea of reincarnation, because you will not be committing even the slightest bit of evil anymore. Many people think murder is the only way to commit evil, but whenever you say anything deceptive or harmful to people, or try to cheat them out of their money by taking advantage of their desires, you are preparing to begin reincarnating. If you do not understand the Dharma and live according to the mundane path, then you would seem to have closed yourselves off and locked yourselves up; you have confined yourselves.

“The sutra reads, ‘Suppose that someone should try to injure you with curses and various poisonous herbs. Think on the power of Avalokiteshvara, and the injury will be reflected back at the perpetrator.’

“These four lines represent the Vanquishing Dharma method from Tantra. Many people assume Vanquishing involves performing rituals to deal with and kill certain people, but that is actually not true. Rather, they are used when someone has ill intentions toward you or curses certain food items for you to eat in order to do you physical harm. If you frequently think on Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, these sorts of things will be given back to them instead. Performing Vanquishing means returning the things others wish to give to you, and making them unable to cause you to receive such things. Most deities are capable, too, of making you drink enchanted water or placing a harmful curse upon you. These things can harm you because you still have your own greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt. If you have some good karma, or have even taken refuge, then once informed, your guru will help you resolve your problems and help you to reverse them.

“The curses I mentioned are ones that spur ghosts and deities into attacking you. Some people purchase prayer flags and take them home. I once went to a person’s home and saw that the prayer flag there had an iron pole, and a little ghost was bound to it with iron chains. This means that someone bound a little ghost and placed it inside your home, which will scare your family’s ghosts (the ghosts of your ancestors) from entering; in addition, they will get more and more meddlesome. It’s not that setting up prayer flags in your home is good; most won’t work, unless they are authentically Taoist. ‘Curses and various poisonous herbs’ all have to do with you yourselves. If you have no intentions of harming others, then there will be a very low chance of these sorts of things happening to you. If your karma from past lives really has manifested, then performing the Vanquishing Tantra will prevent it from harming you, and will reverse the effects onto the person trying to injure you. Over the course of my cultivation I have encountered such things, but have not needed to perform any Dharmas. All of my thoughts are on my guru and the yidam, so everything is reflected back at people who try to harm me; none of their curses can affect me. These four lines are not for you to hear; they are for those practitioners who come across people of other religions who, in their jealousy, wish to do them harm. If you encounter such a situation, it is because in the past you have been greedy toward others, thereby causing them to covet something of yours or harm you. Why should you take refuge? Only after you do can the Dharma protectors and the Buddha’s light shine upon you, thus allowing you to defend against such harm. If you do not take refuge, then listening to the Dharma for a million more years still will not help you.

“The sutra reads, ‘Suppose that you should encounter some evil rakshasas, venomous dragons, and various demons. Think on the power of Avalokiteshvara, and then none of them will dare to harm you.’

“Evil rakshasas are from the Ghost Realm. Rakshasa ghosts mainly eat human flesh and drink human blood. Venomous dragons and various ghosts cause you to get cancer or incurable diseases. ‘Think on the power of Avalokiteshvara, and then none of them will dare to harm you.’ Before they can harm you, you will know of it, and after you think on Avalokiteshvara’s power, they will be too afraid to hurt you. This does not include being ill already; for that, you must perform other rituals. As for how to know about this sort of thing, you must seek your guru’s help. None of you is aware; you are all apathetic and insensitive. Only after getting sick do you finally utter a few words of repentance. Diseases that affect blood and flesh, such as leukemia and septicemia, are all caused by rakshasas. Tumors, epilepsy, and mental illness are all caused by ghosts. If you cultivate continuously on a daily basis, then even if you possess the causal conditions to encounter these things, they still will not dare to harm you because they know Avalokiteshvara is protecting you. That does not mean just chanting an hour a day or chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra three thousand times a day would get you such protection. That will merely prevent your affinity with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas from breaking. Chanting three thousand times is not even enough to liberate a single fish. Don’t assume chanting three thousand times a day means you are practicing. It’s like that disciple who shared her experience prior to the puja, whose mother thought just chanting at home would be good enough, and her guru could still see her. However, when she stayed away from him, would her chanting still work?

“The sutra reads, ‘If evil beasts should encircle you,
their sharp fangs and claws eliciting terror, think on the power of Avalokiteshvara, and they will scamper away in all directions.’

“‘Evil beasts’ does not necessarily refer to lions and tigers; your household pets, if they often bite you, count as evil beasts, too. If you have a pet cat and it scratches you frequently, it is an evil beast, because an evil connection exists between you and this cat; there is no virtuous affinity. It took much effort for it to get to your home, and it obviously just wants to sleep, but you keep poking at it with things for fun, so it loses its patience and scratches you. Moreover, it is an animal, and has its own life, yet you insist on personifying it, making it wear clothing, and calling it your son or daughter. Modern humans seldom venter into the forest or the high mountains, so no tigers or lions will come to eat you. These beasts are in your own home. They also include poisonous insects. If you get bitten by a disease-carrying mosquito, it was your own fault. I used to have a pet cat, too, but I was never scratched by it. Many cat-owners have been scratched. They are evil beasts. Because you have not treated them well, they get angry; they think, ‘Hey, you weirdo; I am a cat, not a human. Cats are pretty and humans are ugly! Cats come in all the colors of the rainbow, unlike humans who all look the same with their clothes off.’ So you are all full of nonsense.

“If you have evil beasts around you, it is because you called them to you. If a true practitioner is present, then even if evil beasts appear in a place, they will not harm its inhabitants; they will stay far away. Some Drikung gurus have subdued some ferocious beasts. Lord Jigten Sumgön once spoke the Dharma to the Dragon King. As long as you cultivate to a certain degree, any ferocious beasts that appear will not turn into evil beasts. When evil beasts do appear, it is because of your evil. This gives us even more reason to be compassionate; because they have reincarnated as evil beasts, without the help of the Dharma they will continue to commit evil acts until finally they fall into hell. We should take mercy on them and pity them instead of taking revenge on them, feeling that they are evil and harmful to us.

“‘They will scamper away in all directions.’ Just like the example I gave a little while ago, that person wanted to hit me, but as soon as he encountered me, he immediately ran away; animals will do the same. It is also mentioned in the Ratnakuta Sutra that the power of a Bodhisattva’s compassion can transform a sentient being’s evil intentions. If you are afraid to go here and there, it is because you have not cultivated or learned compassion. People who are full of themselves cannot cultivate compassion.

“Even if you are completely surrounded by ferocious beasts, and the claws are out and fangs are bared, as long as you ordinarily practice Avalokiteshvara’s Dharma and give thought to the power of his compassion, those creatures will leave. This is because sentient beings all have essence of the Buddha; even if they fall into the Animal Realm, it doesn’t mean they are devoid of this essence. Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s compassion is powerful enough to kick-start the pure Dharma natures of such beasts. Animals can do good deeds, too; years ago I watched a program on television about a lion that led a little antelope around. Lions eat antelopes. You might think animals all get eaten, but this lion did not eat the little antelope; it led it around constantly. You should not think of animals as a warranted food source for us; they have their natural instinct, too. It’s just that they have heavier karma than we do, so were reborn in the Animal Realm. However, that does not mean we have the right to kill or harm them.

“If this sort of thing happens to you in this lifetime, it means in your past lives you must have harmed, frightened, or threatened sentient beings of the Animal Realm. Now they have the causal conditions to return in this lifetime, and want to take their revenge on you. Why should we cultivate? It is because we really have no idea how many good deeds or bad deeds we have done in our past lives; only the Buddha knows. And not just in our past lives; without a virtuous mentor to remind you, you would not remember how many evil acts you have committed in this lifetime, either. In their compassion, the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and guru are constantly teaching you the Dharma. Even if this sort of thing occurs, you can temporarily put a stop to it with the blessings of the Dharma and your guru. As is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, a guru can help you to overcome any hindrances to your practice, but he cannot eliminate them for you. For example, take a high-jumper who cannot quite jump high enough; with a push from the person behind, such a jumper can get over the obstacle, but the obstacle remains. If you stop cultivating, then the moment you turn around, that hindrance will be there; it might even leap up right in front of you. As soon as you relax and allow an erroneous thought to enter your mind, the hindrance will appear. You must be cautious; you cannot afford to be careless.

“There was a tour group that wanted to book a certain restaurant, but they were unable to. They knew I had connections with the establishment, so they asked me to make the reservation for them. They were meat-eaters. Later, the restaurant wanted to pay the service fees to me, but I would not accept it; as such, I kept the precepts. You, on the other hand, would have made a profit and then worried about it later; you’d have said, ‘Well, it wasn’t me who ate the food; all I did was made the reservation, so why shouldn’t I get something from it? It’s not just a little money, after all.’ Only if you succeed in this seemingly little act of declining such money can you claim to be Buddhist practitioners. You just concentrate on making a buck, and then deal with the consequences later, regardless of what precepts you have broken; only then, after you get your money, do you come back here and make prostrations in repentance to the Buddha! It is useless! Therefore, being a lay practitioner is quite difficult, but it is also very good: There are many enticements, which allow you to see clearly where temptation comes from. I do not make money that has karma tied to it, because I do not want to owe anyone. Some might say, ‘It wasn’t me who ate the meat, and it wasn’t me who killed those sentient beings.’ However, that is bad collective karma. I only helped them to make a reservation, because even if I hadn’t, they would have done it eventually anyway; however, I refused to make a profit from it. This was quite a large chunk of money; you would have taken it.

“The sutra reads, ‘If lizards, snakes, vipers, and scorpions threaten you with poisoned breath that sears like flame, think on the power of Avalokiteshvara, and they will flee at hearing a certain sound.’

“Some snakes spit venom. How can snakes and scorpions emit fire? This is very difficult to explain. You know that cobras spit venom, and a scorpion’s sting can injure your body. Some animals have poison in their saliva. The phrase ‘sears like flame’ does not mean these snakes and scorpions will burst into flame and burn you. They have a lot of hatred in their hearts, which is why they were reborn as snakes and scorpions. If you have a lot of hatred, then your heart will burn like fire, and this will attract them to you. Secondly, many people who see such venomous creatures would set fire to them and burn them to death, thereby producing another kind of evil karma. Moreover, the venom of those burned snakes and scorpions billows smoke that turns into another sort of toxic substance. This can also be explained to mean the poisonous things we burn all the time produce toxins that in turn harm our bodies.

“‘They will flee at hearing a certain sound.’ Scorpions make clicking sounds, and snakes have their own sounds. Snakes have snake kings, and among scorpions there are scorpion kings. One time when I was little, I was walking through a place and was surrounded by more than twenty wolfhounds. Their master called the pack’s leader, which barked twice, causing all of the dogs to run back. In other words, even among animals, there is always a leader in charge. Ghosts are supervised by ghost kings, and humans are supervised by kings as well. If you were to encounter these sorts of things, your hatred would make you want to beat them and kill them and so on. If you think back on it, you will realize that the more you hit them, the more there were. Some people who strike a snake in this lifetime end up getting bitten by one of those very same snakes a few years later. Even if they don’t get bitten, the snake they killed will still have its revenge; I’ve treated this sort of illness, too. Thus, when we see venomous snakes and scorpions, we should not be in a hurry to harm, beat, or prod them. Usually, they won’t harm you, unless they are taking revenge for something you did in a previous lifetime. As long as we think on the power of Avalokiteshvara’s compassion, imperceptibly, they will hear their leader calling them to retreat. The ones that run up and try to hurt you are not normally large-sized scorpions and snakes; they are all the ones that accompany them.

“Scorpions and snakes tend to move around in their own space; if they enter your house, it is due to one of two circumstances: One is that you are capable of liberating them; they hope you will help them. Another is that you have acted evilly in your home, so they assume it is a nest for them to enter. You should be clear about why you should always think on the power Avalokiteshvara’s compassion and your guru’s blessings. As a result of this sort of power, even if snakes enter your home, they still will not harm you; they will simply stop there awhile and then leave. When I was a child, I once came across a bamboo viper in the mountains; it was right in front of me. Bamboo vipers tend to be aggressive, but strangely enough, upon seeing me, this one just turned around and slithered away. This had to do with my past lives; it was not brought on by my actions in this lifetime.

“A lot of things happen in life, and the power that protects you from them can only come from regular and constant accumulation, training, and practice. If you do not ordinarily do these things, the power cannot possibly just appear out of the blue for you. The most important line here is ‘they will flee at hearing a certain sound.’ There is frequent mention throughout the sutras of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas emitting wonderful sounds; these sounds are inaudible to us. However, sentient beings in various domains of the Six Realms can hear them. Some sounds are designed specifically for beings of the Animal Realm to hear, and will placate them and arouse compassion within them so that they will not come to harm us. Chanting mantras is useful because of their broad range in pitch. Taking the Great Six-Syllable Mantra as an example, it not only has six different sounds, but their pitch varies broadly, ranging from a frequency so high that human ears cannot hear it all the way down to one so low that it, too, is inaudible. When sentient beings of the Six Realms hear mantras being chanted, their sounds are attuned to their own frequencies, and this placates them. Chanting mantras often is good for the body, and it prevents accidents from occurring. This is because the sound of them being chanted is at just the right frequency to placate sentient beings of a certain realm and keep them from doing evil.

“The sutra reads, ‘If clouds should bring thunder, and lightning strike, or if hail should pelt or drenching rain pummel down, think on the power of Avalokiteshvara, and at that moment all such elements will vanish.’

“Thunder only comes when it is cloudy, and afterward lightning strikes. These lines are out of order; according to physics, first we see lightning and then we hear the thunder, because light is faster than sound. However, here it is written that lightning is produced by clouds and thunder; it is the exact opposite of what is said in science. Some people say they are thunderstruck; this is where that comes from: Thunder brings lightning, thus harming people. Being struck by thunder tends to happen to people with relatively heavy karma who have committed transgressions against heaven and earth—not necessarily in this lifetime; perhaps they did them in their past lives. These days there is more and more lightning and thunder, because evildoers are multiplying. It is now the Age of Degenerate Dharma, and good deeds are few and evil actions are many. People are very quick to murder others, go to war, and threaten and terrify others; every day there are reports of homicide on the news. Only in such an evil place do people get killed by thunder and lightning.

“Apart from reasons that can be explained by science, many clouds are also produced from the force of sentient beings of the Six Realms. Many different types of clouds are mentioned in the sutras. When lightning comes into being, it produces electric clouds, which is why it emits light and sound. Therefore, clouds are not necessarily made of water vapor; they can be produced by many animals and beings of the Ghost Realm.

“‘If hail should pelt or drenching rain pummel down’—hail can kill and injure people. For example, before the Venerable Milarepa learned Buddhism, out of filial piety to his mother, he practiced spells of another religion, and hail fell that killed and injured dozens of their relatives. If a location is suddenly hit by a major hailstorm, this is explained by science as being a result of atmospheric convection, but in fact it also has to do with evil ghosts and dragons. If hail falls but no one gets hurt, such as what has happened a few times while I’ve visited Qinghai and Tibet, when it fell on me and others but then simply melted—those weren’t hailstones; they were snowflakes. Also, those snowflakes that sprinkled down were not harmful; they just melted as soon as they touched the ground. Those who accompanied me to Qinghai and Tibet all saw that these flakes fell even though there were no clouds in the sky.

Sudden downpours of rain all have to do with dragons that wish to do harm to the location in question. If a place floods a lot, it means people there are very greedy, and therefore frequently harm sentient beings. The reason it might suddenly rain hundreds of centimeters in a single hour is to frighten those people who harmed them, and to destroy their property. If they are ill-fated, they will even lose their lives. The inhabitants of locations that are often prone to landslides and flooding all tend to be very greedy.

“‘Think on the power of Avalokiteshvara, and at that moment all such elements will vanish.’ If we think on the power of Avalokiteshvara’s compassion, then these sorts of clouds, hailstones, and rainstorms will instantly disappear. Actually, this type of Dharma method exists in Tantra, too. If a dragon does not like a place, it will cause rain to fall continuously until the inhabitants are forced to leave. Another reason for this is when people keep cutting down forests; losing their habitat causes the dragons to take revenge. Natural disasters are happening with greater and greater frequency because humans are getting greedier and greedier; thus, they are harming many sentient beings. As a result, floods, hailstorms, and thunder are growing especially numerous. For example, recently, in a neighboring country, thunder occurred two thousand times in a single hour; this definitely meant some very bad things have happened there for so much thunder to be produced.

“Where does the ancient saying, ‘adequate wind and rain makes crops abundant, and all is well,’ come from? It meant that if the local rulers and citizens had no greed or hatred, then the weather and crops would naturally be fine. If people live with greed and hatred in their hearts, then many disasters and accidents will befall them. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are constantly urging us to practice the Dharma and take refuge because while living in this world, it is very easy to get entangled in bad collective karma. Not to mention anything else, it is a pain when the electricity goes out, isn’t it? This sort of thing can be considered bad collective karma as well; it does not happen as a result of those unrelated factors.

“Why am I always giving you exhortations? Given the merits I have accumulated from constantly practicing in retreats, I have cultivated enough, and do not need to concern myself about too many things. However, I have no choice; I took the Samaya Commandments, so as long as you all still have some affinity with me, I will do whatever is in my power in the years I have left to guide you. Whether or not you listen is up to you. Therefore, for those of you who insist on doing things your own way and living however you want, even if you are my disciples, you cannot possible be liberated from life and death or be granted the Phowa. Don’t assume that you definitely can just because you have taken refuge in me. Thus, you all need to understand this clearly.

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

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Updated on December 3, 2017