His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – May 12, 2018

On May 12th, 2018, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presided over the auspicious Dorje Phurba Puja at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Kyoto. A total of 140 people attended, including honorary abbot, Ogawa Yuizumi, and resident abbot, Ogawa Yujiaki—father and son—of Onsenji Temple in Japan, as well as twenty-one believers from Japan and Taiwan, and 119 disciples from Japan, mainland China, and Taiwan. The puja came to an auspicious and perfect completion.

Before the puja began, a sun halo formed directly above the Buddhist Center. At 9:30 in the morning, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne to preside over the Dorje Phurba Puja and to bestow precious teachings upon all the attendees.

“Today I will be performing the Dorje Phurba. How does the Buddhism of Tibet differ from that of China and Japan? All are Buddhism, but the Tibetan variation comprises both Exoteric cultivation and Tantra. The former involves Buddhist theory in its entirety, and includes study of the sutras, chanting the Buddhas’ names, reciting and teaching the sutras, making prostrations to the Buddha, making pilgrimages, and so on. In Tibetan Buddhism, if you want to learn Tantra, you must first have a foundation of ten years of Exoteric practice; only once you have cultivated for a decade and mastered Exoteric theories will your guru authenticate you as being ready to receive transmission of Tantra. Tantra existed back in China’s Tang Dynasty, when it was called Tang Tantra. It then spread do Japan, where it became known as Eastern Tantra. When Tantra was transmitted and spread into Tibet from India, it was called Tibetan Tantra. Historically, Tibet has always been a relatively closed-off region, with undeveloped transportation and limited influence from the outside. As a result, Tibetan Tantra has kept Tantra very intact and well preserved.

“Tantra is cultivated in four different stages: Kriyayoga, Charyayoga, Yogatantra, and Anuttarayogatantra. This means that a practitioner wishing to achieve attainment in Tantra must master all four parts. Tantra refers to methods that can help practitioners to achieve attainment in this lifetime. Those who learn them can also benefit vast numbers of sentient beings. Besides the four stages, one’s actions to help sentient beings are also divided into four methods: Subduing, Placating, Increasing, and Vanquishing. Subduing involves suppressing all suffering from natural disasters and illness. Its yidams all tend to be peaceful, such as Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, the Medicine Buddha, and Amitayus. Placating means conciliation, and is a method that must be practiced to counter demons, enemies, and so on that would wreck Buddhism and destroy Buddhist centers. This method has many yidams; because it is a Tantric teaching, it usually is not transmitted publicly. The Increasing method can increase a practitioner’s power, with which he or she can greatly promote Buddhism. It can increase the power of a country or king, too, and can add to a location’s wealth.

“The final method is that of Vanquishing, which means eliminating. When Subduing, Placating, and Increasing are not enough to counter certain demons, one must perform the Dharma of Vanquishing, though this does not mean one should kill one’s opponents or enemies. To give a simple analogy, some parents are very familiar with the following scenario: At first, when their kids do the wrong thing, they offer kind advice; however, when their words are not heeded, the parents are sure to let their children see what anger looks like. This is what is known as a wrathful appearance. Why do Vanquishing yidams all manifest such an appearance? It is because sentient beings with relatively heavy karma—ghosts, demons, and denizens of the Asura Realm—all look angry. In order to liberate these sentient beings, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas must take on a similar appearance; they appear as humans to liberate humans, and must take the form of animals to liberate animals. It is written in the sutras that in certain lifetimes, Shakyamuni Buddha has been reborn as a peacock, monkey, bear, or dear to liberate these sentient beings. During the Great Water and Land Puja, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara took on the appearance of the Black-Faced King of Ghosts to liberate beings in the Ghost Realm. A vajra appearance of wrath can liberate sentient beings with rather severe hatred and attachments.

“Not just any Rinpoche can perform the Vanquishing method. If a practitioner has not attained the compassion of Emptiness or is incapable of transferring someone’s consciousness, then performing this Dharma not only will be ineffective, but can even do harm to the practitioner himself. Therefore, prior to performing it, one must master Kriyayoga, Charyayoga, Yogatantra, and Anuttarayogatantra, as well as the methods of Subduing, Placating, and Increasing. A practitioner also needs to be accomplished in Samadhi before being receiving transmission of the Vanquishing method, which is very rarely performed to help believers. If a believer says he or she has an enemy and implores for this Dharma to be performed, I usually will not consent. Most of the time, it is only performed if harm is being done to Buddhism, the Order, or even the nation.

“The Dorje Phurba I am performing today is a very important Vanquishing yidam, and there are many different Dharma texts. Today I will be performing the Dharma Activity Group of Phurba, which can be used to help all sentient beings. First, though, I’ll introduce myself, your presiding guru. As you all know, I am a Rinpoche of the Drikung Kagyu Order, and my Dharma title is Rinchen Dorjee. Rinpoche connotes ‘treasure,’ so the word means ‘treasure among humans’. This is because a Rinpoche can help people, resolve the afflictions of many, and liberate them from life and death so that they can leave the suffering of reincarnation behind.

“Tibetan Buddhism is divided into four Orders: Gelug (the Yellow Sect), Nyingma (the Red Sect), Sakya (the Flower Sect), and the Kagyu. The Kagyu Order, in turn, is divided into a few different traditions; the one I practice is the Drikung Kagyu. This tradition has more than eight hundred years of history. Beginning with Lord Jigten Sumgon, and continuing down to the current, thirty-seventh throne holder, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, the lineage has never been broken. I am the only person of Han ethnicity who has ever attained fruition in this lifetime as a Rinpoche in the history of the Drikung Kagyu Order. Historically, most Rinpoches have been tulkus, but of course there are also many who have achieved fruition in this lifetime. For example, two of my gurus became Rinpoches in this lifetime. However, never before in the history of the Order had there been a Han Rinpoche; I am the first non-tulku to have achieved fruition in this lifetime. My root guru is the thirty-seventh Drikung Kagyu throne holder, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang.

“Before performing any yidam’s Dharma method, a practitioner must achieve attainment in it while conducting a retreat. What achieving attainment means is explained in every related Dharma text very clearly. When you conduct a retreat to cultivate a yidam, only if certain auspicious signs and circumstances arise will you have succeeded. This part involves Tantra, and should not be spoken of in public. A practitioner who can perform a Dharma publicly from a Dharma throne has definitely achieved realization.

“According to the New Tantra, Dorje Phurba is another emanation—a Nirmanakaya and a Sambhogakaya—of Bodhisattva Vajrapani, one of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas. He is the wrathful yidam of Bodhisattva Mahasthamaprapta. In the Four Tantras, he is the Destruction Vajra in the Activity Tantra. The Four Tantras are Kriyayoga, Charyayoga, Yogatantra, and Anuttarayogatantra. Historically, the Nyingma is the oldest of the Orders, and in the Old Tantra, Dorje Phurba is part of Anuttarayogatantra. He is the wrathful yidam of Vajrasattva, which means that you can neither learn nor receive transmission of the Dorje Phurba until you have first mastered the Vajrasattva. In other words, I myself was only able to receive transmission of this Dharma due to having already mastered the Vajrasattva, which means I can do everything Vajrasattva can. Dorje Phurba is also a representation of the thoughts of Amitabha Buddha, Bodhisattva Mahasthamaprapta, Bodhisattva Manjusri, Bodhisattva Vajrapani, and Vajra Bhairava, and anyone who achieves realization in this Dharma can definitely be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land.

“Tantric practitioners all know that Tantra began with Padmasambhava. While he was in retreat in a cave in the mountains of Nepal, he performed the Dorje Phurba to eliminate all his hindrances, serve as his Dharma protector, and allow Padmasambhava to master Dzogchen. This is the Nyingma method of accomplishment; the Kagyu method is Mahamudra. Dorje Phurba is an embodiment of all Buddhist activities, and represents the fundamental, primary essence and disposition of all the Buddhas’ actions.

“Padmasambhava once said that practitioners who have mastered the Dorje Phurba can be glorious—that is, they can enjoy auspiciousness throughout their current lifetime, and avoid all calamity. They also can be meritorious (they can possess all merits), live a long life, be wealthy, and enjoy a full retinue (meaning, have many disciples); they will see achievements in both government and religion (in the past, in Tibet, religion and government were combined, which is why this sort of auspicious sign can be fulfilled by cultivating the Dorje Phurba), will have limitless, awe-inspiring power (practitioners of the Dorje Phurba need only wish to complete any activity related to Buddhism in order to succeed), and see perfect completion in all things (all their Buddhist activities will be successful, right up until they attain Buddhahood).

“In this lifetime, I have specialized in cultivating Dorje Phurba’s wrathful yidam. I would not dare claim to have achieved perfect realization, but all the auspicious signs have appeared. There are many Dharma texts associated with Dorje Phurba, and the one I’ll be performing this time is from the Wish-Granting Jewel Empowerment of the Dorje Phurba of Supreme Righteousness. Simply put, today’s text involves the empowerment of the wish-granting jewel of Dorje Phurba’s Anuttarayogatantra, and was transmitted by a great terma master. Before Padmasambhava left Tibet, he hid many Dharma texts among rocks, in caves, in the water, and even in the air and at the bottom of the sea. Many yidams were also hidden through various methods. Because they cannot be transmitted in public, such secret texts cannot even be shown to anyone without the proper affinity and good fortune. Some practitioners in Tibet dedicate their lives to finding these secret Dharma texts. Currently, there are no great terma masters in any of the Four Orders, but there used to be. As far as I know, they are all gone now. This means the good fortune of sentient beings is waning, because if a secret Dharma text were to emerge, it would indicate that their good fortune is on the rise.

“Today’s text contains a profound earth terma found by the late great terma master Ratna Lingpa. How can we confirm that the Dharmas he passed down are authentic? By the fact that nothing written in the text strays from the Buddha’s teachings. The Buddha instructed us how to leave reincarnation’s sea of suffering behind, and taught us to do only good and stop committing any evil. This is what proves this Dharma text to be genuine. The definition of a profound earth terma is a Dharma directly transmitted by a yidam. This was transmitted by Dorje Phurba himself, and was not introduced by anyone else in the intervening years. The methods contained in this text were gathered together and arranged by the twenty-ninth Drikung Kagyu throne holder, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chokyi Gyaltsen. I’ve just given you an overview of where this Dharma text comes from. For any Tantra, if an explanation cannot be given as to its lineage and source, then there is a problem with it.

“Dorje Phurba is a yidam who vowed to eliminate all hindrances for practitioners wishing to learn Vajrayana and Tantra. When we practice Vajrayana, we are already First Ground Bodhisattvas, and attainment of Buddhahood happens very quickly—much more quickly than it does with Exoteric practice. Hindrances accumulated through many lifetimes will appear; they might include abruptly getting rich or famous, or suddenly having many disciples and believers cling to you, causing you to forget how to practice. Some hindrances will make you sick or cause a lot of mishaps to occur.

“For those who genuinely aspire to practice Vajrayana, Dorje Phurba can help to eliminate all hindrances, which is also the yidam’s fundamental vow. Prior to cultivating any yidam, such as the Tantras of Amitabha or Avalokiteshvara, we begin with Dorje Phurba as our Dharma protector to prevent us from meeting any setbacks. This is because a lot of obstacles will emerge if we do not possess sufficient causes, conditions, and good fortune when cultivating a yidam. For example, problems can occur, causing us to leave a retreat before we complete it. If we successfully cultivate the Dorje Phurba, and implore him to be our Dharma protector while conducting retreats, then we will not suffer any setbacks. We will be able to subdue all demon kings, ghosts, and goblins, and have special Dharma powers. Some demon kings, ghosts, and goblins interfere with practitioners, but cultivating the Dorje Phurba gives us special Dharma powers that enable us to suppress them.

“Participating in a Dorje Phurba Puja can give you the following benefits:

“First, it can rid you of psychological and mood disorders, as well as neurological diseases.

“Where do mental illness and emotional instability come from? In the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, it is mentioned that if you have ever set fire to a forest or field, then you will suffer the karmic retribution of insanity or epilepsy. Some people might burn a swath of grass to clear a plot for farming, and some might burn down an entire forest to mine minerals from the land. People with emotional or psychological instability have heavy karma accumulated from past lives. Those who have caught fish in the past, hunted a lot of animals in the wilds, or worked at slaughterhouses are all quite liable to develop mental illness, mood disorders, and neurological diseases.

“Many people suffer from strokes or develop brain tumors; these are results of having engaged in acts of killing. Why did the Buddha tell us to eat vegetarian? It is because only by doing so can we reduce our acts of killing. Some think it is okay for practitioners of Tibetan Buddhism to eat meat, but they are wrong! More than eight hundred years ago, the founder of the Drikung Kagyu Order, Lord Jigten Sumgon, ate vegetarian, and he never said it was okay for Tantric practitioners to eat meat.

“Secondly, participating in this kind of puja can rid you of obscure diseases and cancers brought on by ghosts, monsters, dragons, and deities.

“Ghosts have relatively little good fortune, but deities have more, and receive the worship of others. Cancer patients who participate in this sort of puja over time can see a reduction in symptoms and even be cured. I got skin cancer when I was in my forties. I did not go to the doctor, have surgery, or implore any yidam to help me get rid of my disease; I simply performed the Dorje Phurba, and my skin cancer went away.

“Thirdly, it can prevent annual, monthly, daily, and hourly conflicts, as well as untimely accidents:

“Everyone has lived many lifetimes on the various planets throughout the universe. This means that we have all done both good and evil acts in each universe and in every place. In any given year, month, or time, there is always a planet that is having an effect on humans on Earth. A ‘conflict’ is the exact year and day that the good or evil karma from your past actions matures; this force rushes at you. Untimely accidents are those which cause you to die before your lifespan is up; these include such occurrences as dying in a traffic accident, taking the wrong medicine, and being bitten by a poisonous insect or snake.

“Fourthly, it can prevent floods, fires, earthquakes, and other natural disasters brought on by changes in the constellations:

“In Buddhism, celestial changes are said to fall into the four categories of Formation, Existence, Destruction, and Void. A planet forms, providing a place for sentient beings to exist; then begins its destruction, until finally it is no more. Right now, the Earth is in its third stage, Destruction. Every celestial transformation in the universe causes various natural disasters on Earth, including floods, fires, earthquakes, and so on. If we perform the Dorje Phurba, even if these calamities occur, they will not endanger our lives.

“Fifthly, it can prevent us from being poisoned or cursed by others:

“If we implore Dorje Phurba to be our Dharma protector and yidam, then even if someone wishes to harm us through such means as poison or uttering curses, we will be shielded from injury.

“Sixthly, participating in this sort of puja can eliminate all good and evil karmic hindrances that would obstruct your cultivation.

“Puja participants can obtain these six kinds of merits and benefits. Today I am performing the Dharma Activity Group of the Dorje Phurba, and it can help you by removing your enemies and karmic creditors from past lives. However, you must not fear or resent them, nor should you rejoice that they have been driven away or eliminated. Rather, you should face them with compassion. All your karmic creditors and enemies are here today as a result of your past actions. If you had never harmed a single sentient being, then you would not have any enemies or karmic creditors in this lifetime. We must face them with a repentant attitude and with compassion, and not be happy at seeing them gotten rid of so that we can live our lives in peace.

“The point of performing the Dorje Phurba today is to give you all an opportunity to form a very good connection so that you will have fewer hindrances to your Buddhist practice in the future. In the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows it is written that a meritorious, virtuous mentor and practitioner can help sentient beings by blocking all hindrances from reaching them. This is the purpose of performing this Dharma today; it can help you by removing your hindrances in learning Buddhism and causing fewer unwanted occurrences in your mundane life. Once you all have gained an understanding of this, I will begin the ritual.

“In Tibetan Tantra, prior to performing a puja, the disciples and believers must all make offerings to the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, and the guru. The guru accepts them on behalf of the yidam, thereby allowing sentient beings to have the good fortune and affinity to receive Tantric blessings and help.”

Just then, the reputed father-and-son abbots from Onsenji Temple in Japan, Ogawa Yuizumi and Ogawa Yujiaki, as well as the ordained disciples and distinguished attendees whose names had been drawn by ballot prior to the puja, all offered the mandala and implored the Dharma from His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche on behalf of sentient beings.

“It is recorded in the sutras that Mount Sumeru is surrounded by four celestial bodies, known as the Four Dvipas. Humans reside on each of them; we are on the southern one called Jambudvipa, the Earth. The mandala plates present all the best things from the Four Dvipas as offerings to the Three Jewels and the guru. The Buddha statues, sutras, and stupa behind the mandala represent offerings of body, speech, and mind. Before performing the ritual, we must give rise to bodhicitta and take refuge.

“The refuge aspiration is not the same as most aspirations in that it is initiated by the practitioners. The next line reads, ‘May I become a guru to all sentient beings.’

“Before performing the ritual, we should make offerings to those sentient beings who are outside and unable to come in to participate in the puja. When performing Tantra, one must wield a bell and a vajra; the vajra and bell are further divided into five prongs and nine prongs. The five-pronged ones are usually used when performing the Dharma methods of Subduing, Placating, and Increasing, whereas those with nine prongs are used for methods of the Vajra Group. These latter tend to be a bit larger and heavier. Bells and vajras have deep significance that as to do with Tantra, but because we are short on time today, I won’t get into that.”

H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the Dorje Phurba, and then explained, “Just now, I set the boundary, a way of protecting the mandala through the yidam. Now no demons can come in and disrupt this puja. Next, mantras must be chanted to unlock the presiding guru’s Tantric words, and then obeisance, repentance, and blessings.”

After performing the ritual for a while, Rinpoche said, “What I have just performed are offerings—secret offerings; not ordinary food or thought offerings. In them, the practitioner must give the best of himself so that the yidam will feel happy enough to approach the mandala and accept these offerings, thereby becoming one and the same with the practitioner to perform the Dharma and benefit sentient beings.”

H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche entered Samadhi, manifesting a wrathful vajra appearance that showed he was completely attuned with the yidam. From time to time he emitted a low roar; while chanting the yidam’s mantra, his lips remained set, but a distinct vajra ode rolled forth from his mouth, deep and rich like the tides. Occasionally, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s facial expression transformed rapidly, manifesting the extremely auspicious appearance of Dorje Phurba; his brows arched straight up, his eyes protruded, the corners of his mouth pulled back, and his head vaguely oscillating from side to side and his arms slightly turning. Then, after a time, his expression would again soften. While performing the ritual and chanting the mantra, Rinpoche transformed into the wrathful appearance of Dorje Phurba to compassionately gaze upon sentient beings, never blinking once, and entered Mahamudra meditation and visualization. He had become completely attuned to the yidam in a unification that was both solemn and unfathomably auspicious.

Meanwhile, the earth shook, and a rich fragrance suddenly permeated the air. It was extremely auspicious, and all the attendees felt joy in their hearts.

In-between chanting mantras, Rinpoche instructed the attendees to voice out loud the names of their loved ones whom they would like the yidam to protect, as well as their own names. Rinpoche said, “A mantra is transmitted by the yidam. Because of having various local dialects and pronunciations, everyone sounds a bit different when chanting. We therefore must conduct retreats in which we specially cultivate Dharma methods and chant certain consonants and vowels; that is, learn the correct ones for the mantra. An origination mantra reflects the fact that we were only able to participate in this puja today because the causal origination had arisen; this is why we must chant this mantra. To keep from losing our concentration or pronouncing the sounds inaccurately, later we’ll chant Vajrasattva’s Hundred-Syllable Mantra, and then repent.

“There are many different sorts of Dharma texts. One kind is used while conducting retreats, and another is what we are using today to help sentient beings. There are many variations of Dorje Phurba’s Dharma text. The one I am performing from today is called Simple Rituals Used for Cultivating Phurba’s Activities. Another is Dharmas of Calling Forth the Dorje Phurba, used to call forth the yidam to help you succeed in all your Buddhist activities. Another is Dharma Protection Methods of Dorje Phurba, and then there is the Phurba Countering and Shielding Dharma, which yogis (practitioners) use to eliminate all demonic armies. ‘Countering and shielding’ means to knock back bad things, and shield us from them. Another kind is the Lineage’s Mind-Continuum Phurba; this is a prayer and a Dharma method to remove all suffering. Today I will recite it for you, though I usually don’t do that very often.

“Here is a brief summary of the prayer text: May Dorje Phurba bless us so that we can achieve realization as quickly as possible, destroy all demonic armies, and obtain the blessings of Padmasambhava and the Dakinis; may we destroy all demonic armies so that we can embrace and realize the true Lineage. In performing this Dharma, we beseech Dorje Phurba to allow us to accept and maintain purity, visualize the Lineage, and those who possess this Dharma method. May Padmasambhava bless us so that we can vanquish all demonic armies. We pray that the great sea of Dharma protectors and all yidams at the Phurba mandala will enable us to destroy all demonic armies.

“There are two types of demonic armies: Internal and external demons. In your case, you do not have external ones. They will only come to interfere with you before you attain a Dharmakaya Bodhisattva and Buddhahood. For the most part, all your demons are internal; these result from greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt, not believing in cause and effect, breaking the precepts, and so on. Internal demons prevent you from ever making progress in your Buddhist cultivation; they make you merely seek blessings and protection without being willing to practice. If you do not practice, though, such blessings and protection will have no effect on you; they will simply provide you with some good fortune to enjoy in your future lifetimes. Those of you who are not willing to take refuge or cultivate diligently, and only come to participate in the pujas, will just remain ordinary believers. Of course, that is far better than not coming to the pujas in that you can obtain some good fortune, but such good fortune cannot be used in this lifetime; it can only come into use in the future ones.

“The next part of the text is Tantra, which you have not learned, so I cannot speak about it here in public. In conclusion, you can leave all your doubts, succeed in all Buddhist activities, live auspiciously, and follow your guru through lifetime after lifetime. You can remain in all wondrousness, meaning, you can experience the joy of all Dharmas that help you achieve the fruition of Vajradhara as quickly as possible.

“I very seldom recite this prayer, but today I did in the hope that it will at least plant a seed for you to have an affinity with Buddhism in your future lifetimes, even if you do not practice in this one; it’s okay if you have decided not to or are still unwilling to take refuge, keep the precepts, and eat vegetarian. However, in your next life, you will not be able to find me, because I won’t be coming back. I recited this prayer for you so that you will have the causal condition to receive Dorje Phurba’s blessings in your future lives.

H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the attendees in a performance of the Dharma Protector Achi Ritual, and then introduced the Dharma protector.

“Each Order of Tibetan Buddhism has an Uncommon Dharma protector that has vowed to protect it. Dharma protectors safeguard practitioners as well as the Dharma. The Drikung Kagyu’s uncommon Dharma protector is Achi. She was Lord Jigten Sumgon’s grandmother; she married and had children, and achieved Buddhahood in that lifetime. Her vow was to always protect all Drikung Kagyu disciples who aspired to cultivate, so that they could be accomplished. This ritual is performed at every puja. Even though some of you are not Drikung Kagyu disciples, you at least are taking part in this puja; my performing Achi’s ritual will cause you to form an affinity with her.

“Actually, Dharma protectors are very important to our practice. For example, in 2007, while I was in retreat cultivating the Hevajra for more than three months, on the more than 4,500-meter-high Lapchi Snow Mountain in Nepal, it was Dharma Protector Achi who constantly kept me safe. I very clearly saw her appear before me, and watched her protect me. What was she protecting me from? At the time, I had been continuously diligent and making progress, so the karma from my past lives had begun to manifest. Some demon armies had even come to interfere with my practice. I therefore needed her protection, to prevent unwanted occurrences from happening.

“Our retreats are different from normal retreats. When conducting an Anuttarayogatantra retreat, it is forbidden to have any contact with the outside world. It is also forbidden to speak or leave the room; the retreat huts are locked from the outside. You cannot leave until you have spent the allocated time in retreat; even if you are dying, you just have to die inside. It is not allowed to talk while in retreat, and this includes talking to yourself; you may only chant mantras and practice the Dharma. It is forbidden to cut your hair, shave, bathe, cut your fingernails or toenails, or have any ties with the outside; this means you may not bring any magazines, cell phones, or iPads to where you are conducting the retreat. Only this sort of retreat is a true retreat; we call it a ‘death retreat.’ You are probably not very receptive to the idea of not being able to leave a retreat even at the risk of dying. In 2007, while conducting an Anuttarayogatantra retreat, I experienced a lot of things, but we don’t have time to talk about those today.”

Next, the Tsok and Transferring Consciousness rituals were conducted. Rinpoche said, “Today I am performing a Vanquishing Dharma. As a practitioner, I am able to liberate all those karmic creditors from your past lives that bear grudges against you.”

While performing the ritual, Rinpoche held a Phurba vajra and used it to cut of a piece of torma, and then said,

“This plateful of cut-up tormas symbolizes the Phurba vajra cutting out and destroying the bodies of all enemies and demons that have manifested from the Three Poisons—our greed, hatred, and ignorance. If you have enemies, it is because they are manifestations resulting from your greed, hatred, and lack of belief in cause and effect. The enemies, demons, and ghosts that plague you are only brought about by the harm you have done to sentient beings. Using ‘the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha’ means the power of the guru, the Buddha, and the Dharma will call forth all of the Three Poisons into these tormas, and the guru uses the Phurba vajra to rid you of your greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt, making offerings of your afflictions and confusion to the yidams.

“To put it more simply, today I am freeing you and your karmic creditors of greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt. You should be repentant and compassionate; no one has avoided making mistakes in this lifetime. If you think you have done nothing wrong in this lifetime, then you do not believe in the Dharma. Whenever we eat a piece of meat, we are harming a sentient being, just as we are whenever we speak ill of someone. Pursuing personal benefit without regard for cause and effect is wrong. For now, go ahead and visualize all of resentful enemies created by your greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt; call it forth via the power of the yidam and your guru into the tormas.”

While H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performed the Tsok and Tea-Offering, each attendee received offering items that had been blessed by the guru, as well as the rare and auspicious causal condition to share a meal with the guru, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas during the puja.

Rinpoche said, “Eating tsok food offerings during a puja represents having the affinity to share a meal with the presiding practitioner, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas. It is written in the sutras that not just anyone can do this, so this will give you the causal condition to do it again in the future. When you eat food offerings, you also should set some aside to be collected back as offerings to the sentient beings outside that were not able to come in and participate in this puja.

“The first stanza of what I just recited was a supplication to Vajrasattva to motivate and urge us practitioners to act as diligently and quickly as possible, allowing us to fulfill all our aspirations. We pray that Dorje Phurba and all his retinue will assist us in our Subduing, Placating, Increasing, and Vanquishing activities. The second stanza involves making an offering of tormas, that have Dharma protectors’ vows, to sentient beings that cannot enter here. Next, I will perform the Earth Mother Dharma.”

Rinpoche held up a five-color flag while performing the ritual, and then explained, “In this section, the guru begins by replenishing his own longevity. After performing the Dharma, he would have expended some of his good fortune; so, to keep it from being consumed too quickly, he must replenish his longevity and allow it to be granted to him through the yidam and thereby be restored so that the guru can then go on to benefit sentient beings. The next part helps you to….” (Just then, Rinpoche suddenly stopped and sighed. “But doing this would be pointless, because after the puja you’ll just go back out there and eat meat again. Forget it! These Japanese believers do not believe that eating meat will shorten their longevity, so I won’t perform this part!” With every thought devoted to sentient beings, Rinpoche never misses a single opportunity to earnestly exhort believers to eat vegetarian and refrain from killing, thereby cultivating the seeds of compassion.)

Rinpoche continued to perform the Dharma, and then said, “The juice I blessed just now represents longevity wine; these, made of red tsampa, represent long life pills, which are to help you by increasing your longevity. In a little while, after the puja has concluded, monastics will be waiting outside to hand these out to each of you.”

Next, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne to bless each attendee with the Phurba vajra, one by one. In the process, he continuously rang a bell and chanted mantras, his compassionate gaze profound and boundless. With gratitude, the attendees were all moved to tears.

After bestowing blessings, Rinpoche again ascended the Dharma throne to resume rituals and teachings. “Today’s puja has been successful. The reason I performed the Dorje Phurba is that, because we are living in the Age of Degenerate Dharma, Shakyamuni Buddha’s Dharma era has entered its final phase. In times like these, it is very difficult to promote Buddhism; very few people believe in the Dharma. For this reason, I have performed the Dorje Phurba in the hope that it will help Buddhist activities to continue to flourish throughout the world, benefiting vast numbers of sentient beings. I also hope that performing this Dharma will remove hindrances from those of you who are aspiring to learn Buddhism and wish to take refuge. People who want to practice Buddhism definitely have to take refuge; don’t think you can be a disciple just by attending the pujas over and over. If you do not take refuge, then you will remain just a believer. The difference between believers and disciples is that believers may participate in pujas, but may not be transmitted Dharmas; the advantage to being a disciple is that you get to be scolded all the time, whereas believers do not. I treat them a bit more politely. This is why some do not want to take refuge; they are scared of getting scolded.

“You all need to understand that in learning Buddhism, you should not assume you are able to understand the Dharma because of your status or experience. The methods taught by the Buddha are meant to help us renounce the mundane world; as it happens, they vary from normal human experience. For example, recently I expounded the Ratnakuta Sutra, in which Shakyamuni Buddha explained what a lay Bodhisattva’s mindset, actions, and aspiration should be like. He said it very clearly. For lay practitioners, there is no conflict between our life and our practice; not one bit. Most important is one’s individual resolve. I can say that cultivation has changed the last few decades of my life, and not because it has helped me to live in comfort. Before performing the Dorje Phurba a little while ago, I had already explained to you all that practitioners who have mastered this Dharma will naturally see an appearance of wealth and all manner of benefits; these are manifestations of cultivated good fortune. However, this is not the point. The point is that at any given time, every second of every day, a practitioner is constantly hoping to devote every ounce of his or her life toward helping sentient beings.

“As is written in the Sutra of Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, humans on Earth are the most difficult people to fix in the entire universe. In that sutra it is also mentioned that we are obstinate and conceited (difficult to tame and difficult to teach) . This is why there are Vanquishing methods in Tantra; their purpose is to tame your mind. Being full of greed, hatred, and ignorance causes you to disrespect the Dharma; you do not believe in it, nor do you cherish it. You think giving money will buy you the Dharma. You assume that as long as you come to listen, I will talk to you; you think I should give you whatever makes you happy—but none of this is the case. The Dharma must be implored. I am the same as yourselves; in this lifetime, I have been a lay practitioner. So how have I been able to become a Rinpoche? I have done it by acting in accordance with the sutras and with His Holiness’s teachings; this is how I live my life, every second of the day.

“Generally speaking, very few people perform the sort of Dharma I have performed for you today, because it consumes a guru’s good fortune. However, for the sake of benefiting sentient beings, I see this as giving you alms. Now that you have had this puja performed for you, you should cherish your affinity and good fortune. Let me reiterate: You must all stop eating meat! Do not assume eating a little bit isn’t such a big deal. As long as you continue eating meat, your health will deteriorate. I am seventy-one years old, yet am in much better health than you. You are afraid of not getting enough nutrients if you don’t eat meat, but when you get cancer, every last one of you will be terrified of dying; you will have to undergo surgery and be under a doctor’s care. However, no doctor can cure cancer, because cancerous cells are part of your body. What good can come of cutting out your own cells? People are foolish; they think they can get cured by having their sickness cut out of them, but in this way, patients have to suffer severely before dying. A lot of my disciples have cancer. Having come to believe in cause and effect, they know that invasive treatments cannot help, so they do not have surgery; as a result, they actually suffer a whole lot less.

“I am someone who has had cancer before, so I am qualified to tell you that it cannot be cured with an operation. It also cannot be gotten rid of by doing a few good deeds; you really have to amend your ways. Many people are afraid that eating vegetarian would not provide enough nutrients, but I am seventy-one and have eaten vegetarian since I was thirty-five, and am better nourished than you are. Many of these meat-eaters are skinny with no muscle, have high blood pressure and heart disease… and are riddled with disease. If you are unwilling to go vegetarian, then seeking an audience with me will be useless; you’ll only have a chance of changing your health if you stop committing acts of killing. I am an example of this. Before I was thirty-five, I ate so much meat and seafood; after I stopped, I got cancer anyway, but thanks to my faith in the Dharma and belief in cause and effect, the disease did not harm me. I have not been to a doctor or had to seek medical treatment since I was in my forties. I also did not implore the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to cure me of my cancer; it went away naturally.

“Today I have performed this puja in the hope that you will listen. If you do not, then coming back here to see me won’t do you any good. Do not assume that participating in pujas over and over will bring you protection, blessings, and salvation from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. They will indeed save us, but only if we listen. Don’t think, Well, everyone else does those things, so why can’t I? You were only able to come into contact with Tantra today due to your causes, conditions, and good fortune. Never mind Taiwan; by comparison, Japan is huge, with over a hundred million people, so how is it that you are here? I do not advertise; I just do what I do quietly—so the fact that you have come here indicates that in a past life you had an affinity with me and with Tantra. Everything results from causes and conditions. In the future, whether or not you come back is not important; what is important is that you listened and let today’s teachings sink in. Don’t say I haven’t said anything; I’ve said a lot.

“The first thing after taking refuge in Buddhism is to stop all evil, and only do good. Even minor transgressions are not allowed; do only good deeds. Then your entire life will naturally change without your even needing to ask for it to. When I got cancer, I did not implore the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for a cure; I simply kept practicing in accordance with the Dharma, and I naturally got cured. The reason you cannot obtain what you seek is that you do not listen; you persist in seeing Buddhism through the lens of your own ideas, life experience, and education. The Buddha’s teachings simply are not academic knowledge or common sense; they are ways to change your mindset. Only once this has happened can you gradually gain a chance of transforming from an ordinary person to a Buddha.

“I said a few extra words today; whether or not you will have any affinity with me in the future, as a promoter of the Dharma and a practitioner, I had to make these points. My teachings have fallen on deaf ears, because no one likes to hear such things. People would rather hear someone tell them that they will have good luck, wealth, and happiness as a result in participating in the puja. Is that true? It is, but you won’t be able to use those things in this lifetime; you can only use them in your future lives. Because you have not behaved well in this life, you must wait to enjoy them. In exactly which future lifetime will you be able to use them? There is no telling. Which Realm will you be able to use them in? You can’t know that, either. It might be in the Animal Realm, the Hell Realm, or the Hungry Ghost Realm. I have helped you today; I hope you will all cherish this affinity.”

After leading the attendees in the Dedication Ritual, and as the puja came to a perfect conclusion, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed everyone to go ahead and leave the venue. At the exit, they each received long life wine and long life pills from the ordained disciples, and then thanked the guru for his auspicious blessings and gifts. They were all moved and full of admiration for his profound yet easy to comprehend Buddhist teachings.

Afterword:

After the attendees left the venue, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche tirelessly continued to perform the Dharma and bless prayer flags. The sounds of his chanting resounded through the void. Next, Rinpoche entered Samadhi for a brief moment, and then descended the Dharma throne. Smiling, he walked toward the reputed father-and-son abbots from Onsenji Temple in Japan, Ogawa Yuizumi, and Ogawa Yujiaki, who had been waiting reverently. Rinpoche met with them briefly, and then took it upon himself to bless Mr. Ogawa Yuizumi’s prayer beads. After chanting mantras, he touched Mr. Yuizumi’s head and chest with the vajra. Full of joy and gratitude, the father and son were both deeply moved by the guru’s immense compassion, and implored in earnest for him to return to Japan more often to propagate the Dharma and pray for good fortune for their nation. The brief meeting was warm and touching; a wonderful exchange between Tibetan and Japanese Buddhism that captured the imagination. When the auspicious puja was concluded, everyone present was happy to see a seven-colored halo around the sun in the sky above the Buddhist Center, as well as layer upon layer of auspicious clouds. Thank you, Rinpoche, for performing the Dharma to perfect completion, and for benefiting countless sentient beings!

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Updated on July 23, 2018