His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – June 24, 2018

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche lit lamps as an offering to the Buddha, then presided over the auspicious Vajrasattva Empowerment Puja, during which he bestowed precious Dharma teachings and granted the Vajrasattva Empowerment to all the attendees.

Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne and said, “This yidam, Vajrasattva, is not observed in Exoteric Buddhism; however, in Vajrayana, he is extremely important. The cultivation of the Vajrasattva yidam is absolutely essential to anyone wishing to begin practicing Tantra; no Vajrayana Dharmas can be mastered without first achieving realization in Vajrasattva.

“This yidam’s power lies in being able to reduce, subjugate, and eliminate the hindrances of all sentient beings who practice Tantra. Vajrasattva’s hair is blue, a color that represents a manifestation of the Sambhogakaya’s appearance. Therefore, if you do not vow in this lifetime to cultivate the Vehicle of Bodhisattvas, and instead spend all your time fussing over your own individual affairs, then my granting this yidam’s empowerment to you today will merely result in your forming a connection.

“Many disciples have not yet received transmission of the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices; or, after having been transmitted them, have broken the precepts and thus been forbidden to learn them. For those of you who have been transmitted the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices and have completed 110,000 grand prostrations, I will find some time later, after performing the empowerment today, to orally transmit the visualization part of the Vajrasattva. A distinguishing feature of Vajrayana practice is that after being empowered and receiving oral transmission of a yidam’s Dharma from your guru, including the generation and completion stages, if you specialize in cultivating it in this lifetime, you are sure to achieve realization.

“If a disciple breaks the samaya after having received an empowerment and oral transmission in accordance with the Dharma, then, for him or her, many lifetimes of opportunities to attain Buddhahood will disappear. The samaya include the following: One—a vow to the yidam to learn his aspirations to benefit sentient beings; two—a vow to the guru to practice in accordance with the Dharma, such as how in Tantra it is said one should serve and make offerings to the guru; and three—a vow to sentient beings. If you break any of these three promises, then you will lose any chance of attaining Buddhahood.

“If you break any other precepts, and have repented to your guru, then you may renew your vows to observe them, but if you break the samaya, no amount of repentance to your guru, the Buddhas, or the Bodhisattvas will be of any use. The only way to reaffirm your vows to observe them is through a certain Vajrasattva method. Many people like to receive empowerments. I am granting you one, but not transmitting the Dharma to you; this will give you a chance to learn the Vajrayana Vehicle again in a future lifetime.

“After having been transmitted it, if you continue to have any self-righteous thoughts about your guru, then you of course have broken the samaya. After that, it is not that he, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, or the yidam will get angry and punish you; rather, once you have broken those vows, all your guru’s blessings will be disconnected from you. As is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, virtuous mentors can shield all sentient beings from hindrances. Many people think getting sick is a kind of hindrance, but it actually isn’t; rather, it gives you a clear idea of how much evil karma you have accumulated, thus giving you an opportunity to repent and repay what you owe in this lifetime.

“Many assume that after participating in a puja, they should immediately be cured of their illnesses; and furthermore, they rely on their guru to continuously bless them so that they can be healthy enough to keep on making money. All of this breaks the precepts. Which ones? When taking refuge, you are transmitted the Five Precepts and the Ten Meritorious Acts, among which are refraining from greed and ignorance (believing in cause and effect, in other words). What merits do you possess? Do you really think taking refuge and participating in the pujas for just a year or two is enough to make a giant turnaround and transform you into a completely new person? All of you depend on blessings from the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, and the guru to provide you with enough time to accumulate good fortune so that you will be liberated by your guru.

“Never mind others; recently, an American disciple passed away the day before the Dragon Boat Festival. Four months previously I had told him to chant mantras every day, because his time was near. When he was about to go, he felt some physical discomfort. I had my doctor-disciple tell him, ‘You are going to die. Your choice is to die at home or here in the hospital.’ He was a foreigner, yet he was much more observant than any of you.”

(Just then, a believer propped his feet up. On the spot, Rinpoche reprimanded him and said that if he wasn’t comfortable, he could leave the Buddhist Center. The guru then instructed the attendees sitting next to him to spread out a little.)

“That foreigner listened better than you do, because he understood that it is rare to have an opportunity to listen to the Dharma and encounter a guru. You, on the other hand, feel that you are just doing me a favor by coming here to listen, but do I need you to do that? Many people think Buddhist practice is a private matter, but in my experience with cultivation, it is not at all. It is absolutely impossible to achieve realization in this lifetime without the blessings of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and gurus.

“I often remind everyone that each time Ksitigarbha received Shakyamuni Buddha’s praise in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, the first thing he said was always that he had only obtained those merits thanks to the Buddha’s blessings. Do you think participating in a handful of pujas will make you able to fly, and change your life? Ksitigarbha is a Dharmakaya Bodhisattva, yet even so, he is extremely modest. In the Ratnakuta Sutra, it is written very clearly that any practitioner cultivating the Bodhisattva Path need only give rise to a tiny bit of arrogance, and all his or her merits will disappear.

“This trip I took to Europe to spread the Dharma made His Holiness very happy, not because I went, but because he knew I had followed his instructions. Before leaving, I had asked him what to be mindful of, and His Holiness had replied that because East and West are so different, I should not be so strict. While there, some disciples took a few photos, and they happened to have me smiling in them. After seeing these, His Holiness felt that I had changed, and this made him very happy. How does one make one’s guru happy? By listening to what he says; it doesn’t matter what sort of offerings one makes.

“Today I will grant all of you the Vajrasattva Empowerment. Not only will this give disciples who have been transmitted the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices an opportunity to cultivate Vajrasattva’s Dharma method, but it will also help some disciples with severe karmic hindrances by blessing and empowering them. You all think empowerments are quite simple, and that they merely take a bit of chanting and waving a bottle around, but that is not at all correct. The definition of an empowerment is that your guru, as a representative of the yidam, bestows upon you the good fortune and privilege to cultivate this yidam in the future.

“The merits you will obtain today do not belong solely to you; they are results of my cultivation shared with you by me. Therefore, it is written in certain Dharma texts that when a guru grants too many empowerments, he or she must conduct a retreat, because a guru still has the body of an ordinary human. The body cannot hold up under the granting of too many empowerments, so one must recuperate and accumulate more good fortune while in retreat before continuing to benefit sentient beings.

“The word empowerment originated in ancient India. Whenever a king passed sovereignty down to a prince, one of the rituals was to pour a bottle of water from the Ganges River over the succeeding monarch’s head. This symbolized the passing of authority from king to son. Another definition of empowerment is to be empowered in a Dharma transmitted to you by your guru, thus receiving authorization to practice it. Mantras actually are ‘patented,’ so to speak; they cannot be cultivated unless you have been authorized to do so by a guru. Of course, you may chant them by yourself, but you certainly won’t be able to achieve realization in them that way; I guarantee it.

“You might wonder whether having heard the Hundred-Syllable Mantra and going out to buy a CD of it to chant along with is useful or not. It is, but only for your next lifetime, not this one. It is only better than cursing or gossiping, and cannot eliminate your karmic hindrances, because you are merely chanting the words. A lot of people do not understand that every mantra is ‘patented,’ though this word did not exist back when the sutras were written. Nowadays people apply for patents because they are all so afraid of losing their right to make money. In ancient times, you would have had to be authorized in order to receive and practice a Dharma method.

“Why do you have to be authorized by the yidam and your guru to practice a Dharma method? If you are not, then you will approach it with the consciousness of an ordinary person, which will cause you to cultivate impurely, and your desires will be the impetus behind your mantras and prostrations. It’s like how yesterday a disciple in the last stage of cancer implored me to allow her to die a bit sooner; I immediately told her to leave. I had expounded so many Dharmas, constantly reiterating that physical illnesses are opportunities to repay one’s karmic debt. Until she did that, how could she hope to be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land? However, no matter what I say, she insists on thinking her own way. I’ve said repeatedly that the point of going to the land of Amitabha is not to enjoy good fortune, nor will her problems be resolved by wishing to go there.

“Without the help of the Dharma to repay your karmic debt for all the evil acts you have committed in your past lives, there is absolutely no way to die earlier than your time. Also, I would never help you with euthanasia, because doing so is the equivalent of murdering someone, and those who choose that way out are committing suicide. Nevertheless, this disciple kept begging me to do just such a thing for her. You’d call that vile, wouldn’t you? Wishing to avoid suffering any longer in this mundane world, and unwilling to let illness repay her debt, she implored to go to Amitabha’s Pure Land sooner. This is an example of the ‘doubt’ described in the Amitabha Sutra: Not trusting in the guru’s teachings, and instead adhering to one’s own ways.

“That American disciple who passed away not long ago was different; he never asked me to allow him to die early. Why are you disciples so obstinate and difficult to deal with? I’ve even spoken about transforming illness into a tool for cultivation. Getting sick can actually make you realize just how many evil acts you have committed throughout your lifetimes; because you are sick, you have a chance to use your illness as an impetus to repent wholeheartedly and practice in earnest; because you are sick, you have an opportunity to make a firm resolution to stop reincarnating forever. However, everyone who gets sick acts like the sky is falling; they think they need to be rescued right away and cured in order to continue practicing Buddhism.

“I’ve told you my story before; when I got skin cancer, I never implored the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for help. By then I was already a Rinpoche, but I did not beg to be spared from cancer or cured quickly so that I could benefit sentient beings. Such a supplication would have been tantamount to extortion; if people all tried to coerce the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and guru into giving them what they want, then how could they be cured of their illnesses?

“It is stated with crystal clarity in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows that you can get help blocking your hindrances, but there is no mention of being able to eliminate them. What hindrances? Karmic hindrances—both evil and good. You can sense hindrances from your evil karma, but hindrances from your good karma absolutely cannot be felt. Say, for example, you’ve been attending pujas and have taken refuge, and your condition is no longer worsening; good karmic effects have begun to manifest. Your sense of accomplishment causes you to grow arrogant and lax; you start talking nonsense, and stop listening! Ninety percent of you are this way.

“Let me reiterate: Lord Jigten Sumgon said that all meritorious gurus who cultivate in accordance with the Dharma are capable of helping you to transform your illnesses, but as soon as you start to feel a bit better, you are liable to grow complacent and stop putting effort into your practice. I often give this analogy: How can people suffering from serious illnesses possibly become robust all of a sudden? They have to continuously use the Dharma to nurse themselves back to health. You, on the other hand, simply won’t listen! You put off your Buddhist practice until after you have fulfilled your other obligations, and you think you will be fine if you simply rely on my blessings. This is why so many people have misconceptions about Buddhism.

“If I had never gotten cancer, or had never been cured of it, then I would not dare to scold you. The reason I was able to recover from mine, and you have not, is that you do not listen; you just keep on doing as you please. You are all very eloquent; you say you want to do your utmost for the sake of your parents and your family. Do I not have an elderly mother and a family? Are you the only ones who have a family? You are unlucky to have taken refuge in a lay Rinpoche; if I were a monastic, then I would not be able to deal with you. However, I am a lay practitioner, so whatever you have, I do, too.

“No matter what I teach, no matter what I say, you refuse to listen; you just keep on practicing Buddhism according to your own ideas. I am not asking you to stop thinking while you practice; I just want you to contemplate whether your lifestyle and thoughts deviate from the Dharma teachings you have heard. If they do, then you need to change, although no matter how much I urge you to do so, you simply won’t listen. Don’t assume that standing up and repenting in public, no matter how sincerely, means you don’t have any karmic hindrances anymore. Repenting just allows you an opportunity to begin afresh, but that does not mean you should keep on repenting over and over. A state of constant repentance indicates lacking a sense of shame and repeating the same mistakes over and over, as I mentioned when you took refuge.

“That disciple who came yesterday was so despicable in imploring me to let her die a bit sooner, and thinking she could undergo euthanasia the way some people in other countries do. Because of her supplication yesterday, I predict that she is going to be in more pain. Originally she wasn’t in all that much pain, but now she has given rise to the evil thought of not having faith in her guru. We should remember: ‘When we are in pain, this suffering is helpful to us; and when we are happy, this happiness is here to harm us.’ You need to understand these two lines, and let their meaning sink in; if you do not, then you will repeat your mistakes.

“Why did Shakyamuni Buddha place special emphasis on His teachings in the Surangama Sutra? It was because He was afraid you would become arrogant; once you achieve even the slightest state of realization, you might think the world of yourselves, and then demons (both external and internal) would rush in and prevent you from becoming liberated in this lifetime. One characteristic of Buddhism is the change that happens in the space of a single thought. If you cannot respect and comply with your guru’s Dharma teachings, and simply keep practicing according to your own ideas, then you will not be able to learn how to transform your karma.

“If I were a Rinpoche who did not practice in line with the Dharma, I firmly believe that His Holiness would never have allowed me to go to Europe. Don’t think Europeans rarely get an opportunity to see a Rinpoche; the fact of the matter is that quite a few Tibetan Buddhist Rinpoches have gone to those places to propagate the Dharma. Because Europeans tend to place great importance on logic, they pay close attention while observing someone. Here things are a bit easier, but for an honest man like myself life can be difficult, because you all love to be deceived.

“Yesterday, when that disciple approached me, I could have easily agreed to bestow blessings upon her and say that she would be freed from the sea of suffering. In fact, who may die sooner than their time? Only those who have cultivated the ability to live and die completely carefree could do so. Don’t look at certain great practitioners of the Pure Land Sect who implore Amitabha to let them die early and think you can, too; they have already attained the ability to face life and death without hindrances. They feel no connection with this world any longer, for the sentient beings they wish to liberate are all gone. As such, they do not wish to remain here, and would prefer to leave sooner rather than later. For such practitioners, that is fine. Who do you think you are? Dharma lords? Great practitioners? You really are despicable disciples.”

H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the Vajrasattva Empowerment, beginning with a ritual of mandala-offering during which the ordained disciples offered the mandala and implored the Dharma on behalf of sentient beings.

After performing the ritual for a while, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said,

“The offerings made just now were to help you accumulate good fortune; only after that can you receive the empowerment. Our motive prior to being empowered is very important. If your purpose in participating in today’s empowerment is so that you can benefit all sentient beings, then your motive is correct. ‘I should achieve perfect Bodhi realization’—this means not participating for your own personal benefit. We therefore must supplicate with sincerity for this profound Tantric empowerment. For example, this morning, prior to the empowerment, I first had to perform a preparatory Dharma; if I had not achieved realization of this yidam, then I could not grant empowerment to people. So this is how you contemplate: I should give rise to bodhicitta while coming here to listen and receive the Right Dharma, which can help us to become liberated from life and death. Upon receiving the empowerment, there are a few things we should pay attention to.

“Puja participants must think of the guru as being no different from Vajrasattva. Whether or not we know them, we should view all the disciples taking part in the puja as family members practicing Buddhism together. While listening to auspicious Tantra, we must possess Uncommon motives and behavior. ‘Uncommon’ refers to something different from the methods practiced in Hinayana Buddhism; I’ll explain that more later. The point is embodied by this line: To ‘…benefit all sentient beings.’”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued performing the ritual and bestowing teachings:

“A moment ago I performed the body empowerment, which authorizes you to visualize Vajrasattva’s physical form. Without this empowerment, no matter how much you think about Vajrasattva, it will be useless, because you have not been authorized. Those believers who have not yet taken refuge in the Three Jewels will merely form a connection today, even if they chant along with me.

“Next is the speech empowerment, after which the hindrances and habits of your speech are purified. You are then authorized to chant Vajrasattva’s mantra.

“Next is the mind empowerment. Obtaining this authorization eliminates your mental hindrances, allowing your habits to be purified. There are many mental hindrances. This authorizes you to practice simultaneously Vajrasattva’s Emptiness of mind and great compassion. In Buddhism, ultimate realization must encompass Emptiness and compassion.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to perform the ritual and led everyone in a recitation from the text.

“What we just recited was a very special Vajrayana vow, which means: ‘With the blessings of the yidam (Vajrasattva), may I dedicate myself to attending and pleasing the guru; may I make offerings of my body, speech, and mind to my honorable guru; may I remain as your disciple lifetime after lifetime; may I abide and serve my guru, never to be separated from you; and please dispatch me at any time.’ This oath is addressed to the guru. Therefore, you should think this through clearly: If you cannot do these things, then you absolutely should not learn Tantra.

“Why do I say this? I say it because only a meritorious guru who cultivates in accordance with the Dharma can help you in this lifetime to eliminate all your karma of body, speech, and mind. By ‘eliminate’ I don’t mean I will get rid of it for you; it means I know the processes and ways necessary to continuously teach you so that you can keep amending your ways. I might use various methods, such as scolding, beating, and coaxing; I use everything, because each sentient being has different causal conditions and karma. Afraid that you might commit evil acts, the yidam has stated things very clearly for you beforehand. If you cannot meet the conditions mentioned in these lines, then you really should not learn or take part in this puja. It’s not that if you cannot succeed you will encounter problems. Earlier it was mentioned that nothing bad would happen to you, and the guru, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and Dharma protectors would not punish you. You will just turn around and be swept away by your own good and evil karma, and will not be a practitioner at all. I am constantly trying to get you to listen to what I have to say—not because your listening to me would make me happy, but because these lines represent a sort of vow.

“Some of you would say that you are free to practice Buddhism as you like, so why should I concern myself with you so much? If you were merely believers, I wouldn’t care, and would not pay so much attention to you, and whether you come or go would be up to you. However, if you wish to learn the Vajrayana Vehicle, then these lines are relevant once you’ve recited them. Thus, in my compassion, I’ll advise you once more: If you cannot do what is required, then you should not covet the Dharma. By all means, do not take the attitude of one who just wants to give it a try. The reason is that Vajrayana can allow you to very rapidly change all your karma and benefit sentient beings. As such, once all your actions, words, and thoughts violate your vows and the precepts, the force of your karma will also manifest quite strongly, so you should not take this risk. You might think me remarkable just because I can achieve what is written in these lines. You, on the other hand, cannot achieve a single one of them, especially given the selfish atmosphere that is suffocating this entire world; no one is willing to do what is written in these lines. Ordinary people wonder, ‘How can I neglect my family to serve a guru? You’d be crazy to be so devoted to Buddhism!’ Why do fewer and fewer people achieve realization in Tantra? Why do some people want to learn Tantra, but are unable to follow through? This is the reason.

“Right now you only serve your guru out of fear of getting punished, scolded, and kicked out. Do you do it happily? No, you do not. I happily serve my guru because it brings me joy, unlike many people who are doing the wrong thing all the time and are constantly frightened of getting in trouble. Being happy to serve my guru, I do not make mistakes, whereas those who serve without joy are just greedily trying to obtain merits and good fortune.

“The special characteristic of Tantrayana is that the relationship between guru and disciple is very close—closer than others can comprehend. Why is that? It is because one remains a disciple for many lifetimes. A Tantrayana guru knows very clearly what he or she can do, and is committed to taking care of his or her disciples through lifetime after lifetime, until they attain Buddhahood. Because of this, you must become close with your guru in this lifetime. ‘Close’ does not mean you need to be by my side all the time; it means you need to be conscientious. Likewise, my relationship with His Holiness is very close, too. We do not spend all day on the phone together or anything, but whenever either one of us has a problem, we immediately are aware. I do whatever my guru instructs without hesitation, unlike you who are constantly thinking about this and that. Whenever my guru has instructed me to do something, I have done it without the word ‘difficulty’ even crossing my mind. I also have never considered the possibility of failing, or worried about how much money it might cost me.

“It’s like how His Holiness once granted me the causal condition to restore the gilded roof of the Canons Library at Drikung Thil Monastery. Back then I had no money, and apart from a few small offerings from my disciples, I would have to foot the entire bill. In the end, I was still able to do it; I sold my antiques and other things, and was finally able to pay for it all. I also never once whined to His Holiness, ‘I can’t afford it; could you find someone else to help out?’ Not at all; I just did it. It’s not as you might imagine; I won’t just suddenly take note of you the minute you do something. Rather, you should work constantly and continuously, never stopping. If one day your guru is happy, it means you have succeeded in accomplishing what he has taught you, and he has noticed this and is paying close attention to you. None of you have done this, and you each hope to distance yourself from me. Sometimes a disciple will seek audience with me, and I feel like I have never even met this person before. I ask how long he or she has taken refuge, and the answer is seven, eight, or ten years. The reason it seems like I’ve never met such people before is not because they wear masks every time they participate in the pujas; I should at least get a sense of who they are. Why don’t I? The question is not whether or not they have ever sought an audience with me; it is whether or not they have cultivated. They haven’t at all.

“For example, some disciples who have left always had the same notion: ‘I’m here, so you need to help me and make me better; if you can’t do what I want, then I’m outa here.’ In such cases, I want them to leave sooner rather than later, too; I am certainly not here to satisfy their desires. If I were, then I would not be a Rinpoche.

“You have recited these lines now. Whether you can do what they say or not does not matter; if you can’t, it just means you won’t receive transmission of the Dharma afterward. You monastics should think this through very clearly; don’t assume that I will necessarily transmit the Dharma to you just because you are ordained. If you cannot fulfil what is written in these lines, then my transmitting the Dharma to you would not harm you, but would cause you to quite seriously violate the samaya.

“Also, you still need the yidam to bless you before you can make such offerings to your guru. I have never needed to implore; I just very naturally make offerings. For this reason, His Holiness always tells people that I practice every day and have naturally achieved realization. How have I done it naturally? I have never considered what I might gain or lose, whether something is beneficial or harmful to me, or whether it is right or wrong; as long as my guru has given me a task to do, I do it. You, on the other hand, are constantly afraid of getting scolded and so on.

“According to the biographies of the Lineage gurus, how was the Venerable Milarepa dealt with by his guru, Marpa? How was Master Naropa dealt with by his guru, Master Tilopa? Of course, Naropa was a practitioner of the utmost root capacity, but Vajrayana gurus use this sort of method to completely resolve your good and evil karma. Cause and effect are incontrovertible; do not assume that participating in a puja will shield you from any bad karmic effects, as that would be impossible. However, a guru uses every method at his or her fingertips to make your effects mature sooner, and to prevent that maturation from harming your Buddhist practice. None of you listens, though. You all think, Okay, I’m here, so you have to make me healthy so that I can practice diligently; cure my illnesses so that I can tell my husband how great the Dharma is and get him to come and participate in the pujas. This is all a bunch of nonsense. My son doesn’t participate in the pujas, nor have I told him he has to. Even being a Rinpoche, I still would not force them to come. If I said, ‘I’ll give you this much money each time you come,’ would he come? He certainly would. If I said, ‘If you don’t attend, I’ll kick you out,’ would he come? Most definitely.

“Thus, those of you, whether you are a wife or a husband, should not think that being cured of your illnesses would influence your spouse into believing in the greatness of the Dharma and practicing with you. That would be a misconception. Whether or not you recover from your illness has to do with whether or not you yourselves have enough good fortune. Where does good fortune come from? Making offerings to your guru. Even Lord Jigten Sumgon said that making offerings to one’s guru is the fastest way of accumulating good fortune—offerings of actions, words, and thoughts. To tell you the truth, this is no easy feat. Since you cannot do it, I as your guru will do everything in my power to help by scolding you, driving you away, and hitting you; this is the Vajrayana teaching method.

“In 2006, I took five hundred disciples over to celebrate His Holiness’s birthday. He deliberately spoke to Garchen Rinpoche in Beijing-accented Mandarin, even though they had been conversing in Tibetan. At the time I was sitting in attendance behind His Holiness. Purposefully speaking Chinese, he said, ‘This disciple of mine is very strict; he hits his disciples.’ Garchen Rinpoche replied, ‘Well, that’s no good!’ His Holiness said, ‘Actually, that’s the most compassionate way.’ The two elders had put on a show for me to see. One of them had been playing the role of guru, while the other had been playing the role of an ordinary person (for a detailed account, refer to this precious video link). Most sentient beings out there think learning Buddhism is all about getting the guru to flatter you, spoil you, and attend to your needs. Believing in this will harm you. It is stated very clearly in the Ratnakuta Sutra that when dealing with people in power, a guru should subdue their pride; you therefore need to understand the characteristics of Buddhism.

“When your children are disobedient, do you spoil them? Why do so many murders and crimes of passion occur in Taiwan? It is that kids get spoiled; whatever they want, they get. As a result, they grow up with the attitude that they cannot lose anything; loss represents failure, so they feel they must destroy anyone who opposes them. The downfall of Taiwan’s at-home education lies in the fact that so many families put their children on a pedestal, and do everything they can to give them whatever they desire. Many of you present might have sons like this, but treating them that way will actually ruin them. As for a correct way of educating in the home, when you are trying to teach your kids but they won’t listen, should you scold, hit, and punish them? Sure! Why can’t these moves be used in Buddhist practice as well? If you were my disciple or my child, do you think I would use them? I most certainly would. You may go on hoping that I wouldn’t, and I’d smile politely at you, because then I would not see you as my disciple. You need to understand this clearly, and stop talking nonsense. Some people say they don’t want to be reprimanded by me. So many people nowadays are lost; there’s nothing that can be done about that.

“These lines have given me an opportunity to make you understand the characteristics of Vajrayana. If you find a guru who is teaching the wrong thing, then this is a very serious matter; this is the reason for the earlier line, ‘With the blessings of the yidam.’ If a guru’s transmission lineage can be clearly shown, as well as the process through which he or she has cultivated, then any Dharmas this guru transmits to you will be pure, and you will therefore be relatively safe.”

Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne to bless the attendees one at a time by touching their heads with a hand-held Vajrasattva statuette, all the while ringing a bell and chanting mantras. Amidst these sounds, the 1,500 attending believers and disciples were all moved to tears, grateful to their 71-year-old guru for tirelessly and compassionately granting blessings to benefit sentient beings.

Afterward, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche again ascended the Dharma throne to lead everyone in the Dharma Protector Achi ritual and dedication prayer. He then continued to bestow teachings:

“Today’s empowerment is a relatively short one. If you wish to advance to cultivate the Vajrasattva Yogatantra, you will need to use another empowerment text. You will all be given nectar water from the treasure vase on your way out of the venue once we are done here. Those of you who have completed 100,000 grand prostrations may call the Buddhist Center tomorrow to register to receive transmission of the Vajrasattva, but if you have not completed that many, then you may not. If you are up for a challenge, then try completing one hundred thousand prostrations in a single day, but I don’t believe you can. I’ll pick a day to transmit the Vajrasattva Dharma to you. Next Sunday I’ll be performing the Guru Yoga in commemoration of Lord Jigten Sumgon. Originally I was going to do that today, but because of this empowerment, I changed it to next week.

“After having received the empowerment, you believers who have not taken refuge do not need to observe the precepts mentioned earlier. However, anyone who has taken refuge and has been transmitted the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices absolutely must observe them. Don’t think that if you have already been transmitted them, and later are asked to leave by me, then you can make a photocopy and keep practicing them by yourself. Doing so would be useless, because the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center is special in that it does not charge you for any Dharma texts or photos you implore for—so they do not belong to you. Making a photocopy of a Dharma text indicates you are prepared to, at any time, be kicked out, leave the Center, or get the text ruined. No one who does this can obtain blessings; such actions are tantamount to stealing the Dharma, which is theft. Without permission, it is forbidden even to photocopy the sutras, let alone Dharma texts.

“Many people believe that printing out a lot of sutras will bring merits and good fortune. Things have changed since ancient times; back then, it was quite difficult to transcribe even just one copy of a sutra, which is why believers were always urged to transcribe as many as they could. Nowadays it has turned into a type of business. I am sure that some of you present have helped people make money in this fashion. If a monastery’s abbot has not given instructions for sutras to be printed, then it is not right for everyone to take them and print a bunch of copies, because in doing so, there being too many of them, they could be thrown away, and that would not be good. Respecting the Three Jewels does not mean doing whatever you want. A family has its family rules, and a nation has its laws; why can’t Buddhism have its rules, too?

“When visiting vegetarian restaurants, I often see Buddhist books heaped everywhere. The restaurants I own don’t; they are kept spotless. I was once a believer, too, so I know how some people will pick up a free book in a restaurant, browse through it, and then toss it aside. If they take it home, they don’t end up reading it; over time, such books pile up there and they don’t know what to do with them: They can’t take them out and burn them, and then the restaurant has gone out of business, so they can’t take them back there. People who print free copies and leave piles of them at restaurants mistakenly believe they are doing good deeds.

“Some people do things in His Holiness’s name. Here at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center I would never do anything in his name unless he had directly told me to. Falsely using my name to do anything here without my knowledge would have very grave karmic consequences, and very serious legal ramifications, too, so you must make sure none of you ever do this. There are definitely rules to adhere to in Buddhism; you may not just do whatever you please. There are not just one or two people here; there are over a thousand—and there are also a lot of people outside the Buddhist Center who know me. For this reason, you must not drop my name out there recklessly or when talking nonsense, because sooner or later word will get around. My rules are very strict; you may not use my name or that of the Buddhist Center to raise any money. Legally, you definitely would not get away with it; if anyone tries, I will absolutely seek legal counsel with the intent of bringing lawsuit. All the disciples who are currently allowed to help me raise money for the temple have already been registered.” A disciple reported, ‘Only those five hundred people may raise money, and each of them owns a booklet.’

“I, for instance, hold the Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Pujas for Transferring Consciousness with more than 25,000 participants at a time without selling a single thing, nor do I tell the attendees that they have to take refuge in me. If I were to place some refuge certificates in the hallway, many people would certainly take them, but I won’t do that. I keep everything clearly and cleanly separated; as you would say, that would be a horse of another color. The temple project will keep going ahead, and the legal process will proceed as planned. I hope construction can begin by late this year or early next year.

“Nowadays the entire Buddhist world is going on in multitude of directions and using a variety of methods to attract believers and disciples. The Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center only uses one method—the way in which we rely on the help of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. We have never done any advertising or other secular activities; we simply promote Buddhism. Once the new temple is built, nothing will be sold there, not even prayer beads. It also will not contain any dining halls or restaurants, so after participating in the pujas, you will have to go outside and give your patronage to the surrounding eateries. If you all loiter around out there breathing for a long time, the nearby plants won’t even be able to take it.

“A temple is meant to be a pure place unstained by commercial activity. If a temple has meritorious practitioners present, then the devas, nagas, and Dharma protectors will naturally support the temple so that it can keep on existing. If a heap of concoctions are set up to increase its revenue, then I feel such a temple is not being run in accordance with the Dharma, because no such teachings are written in the sutras. I have been to Sravasti, too—Shakyamuni Buddha’s residence in His later years—and saw at a glance that clearly the place is filled with retreat huts, not commercial shops.

“Shakyamuni Buddha used to require His disciples to beg for alms. If one walked by three homes without receiving any food offerings, then the disciple would have to go hungry that day. He was not allowed to keep begging, because he obviously did not possess the causal condition and good fortune to eat that day. My temple will be like this as well; if a puja is being held, participants will only make offerings according to their causal conditions. A temple is, first and foremost, a place of cultivation. Also, right now there are some monastics living in housing I have provided, but this is not part of the long-term plan.

“The final important point I’d like to make is that I am building the new temple because His Holiness instructed me to. Ordinarily, at seventy-something years old, I should not still be taking on so many responsibilities, but His Holiness told me that as a Rinpoche who has achieved fruition, I needed to leave behind a clear lineage and built a temple. The Four Major Orders are no longer authenticating any more new Rinpoches or reincarnated Rinpoches. His Holiness has not attested to any new Rinpoches appearing in our Order, and the current rule is that reincarnated Rinpoches must have had a temple in their past lives and must be able to name the place in which they cultivated. This is unlike before, when just anyone could pop up and claim to be a Rinpoche. Now, if someone does that, then he will be asked very carefully whether or not he has been enthroned into the Order. An ‘enthronement’ involves having been formally bestowed assurance of future enlightenment at a public puja by the throne holder of the Order, his Dharma title and name publicly proclaimed. No one else may claim to be a Rinpoche.

“These days a whole heap of Rinpoches have suddenly come up out of the woodworks. Last year, over in the Mainland, a few ‘Rinpoches’ had their Dharma titles removed. Certain public figures came in contact with some Tibetans in Qinghai and proclaimed them to be reincarnated Rinpoches. There’s a joke that goes there’s an area of Beijing where you can call out ‘living Buddha!’ and the street will suddenly be crowded with people with that title; in Mainland China, Rinpoches are still called ‘living Buddhas’. Taiwan is characterized by a great degree of religious freedom. You should all make sure you understand where the lineage of the guru in whom you have taken refuge comes from, and whether it has been very clearly passed down. It needs to have been, because it is now impossible for any new lineages to emerge.

“Nowadays, whether you are a monastic or a lay practitioner, without the support of a lineage, you cannot achieve realization; you cannot even spread the Dharma. Take the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center for example. I am not a reincarnated Rinpoche; I achieved realization in this lifetime, so there are many tormas and other rituals I have not learned. His Holiness therefore sends khenpos to lend a hand. If I did not have the support of lineage to teach me, then I could never do anything to perfection. Everyone thinks tormas are very simple to make, but they actually aren’t at all; there are differences between the tormas of every Order. This is true even of the thangkas that are drawn: Insiders can look at them and know whether they are Drikung, Sakya, or Gelug. Each has its lineage. These days a lot of people like to go out and buy thangkas; some of them are just painted by artists, and did not come from any actual lineage. If a new Rinpoche suddenly appears, then he must be questioned very carefully to determine his lineage and how he cultivated. He must give his disciples a general idea of his fruition process and how he achieved realization. It cannot be like in the myth that the Great Sage of the Heavens—the Monkey King—leaped out of a stone; a clear process must be evident. It is impossible to become a Rinpoche after just a couple of years of practice, be able to fly to heaven after just three years, or attain omnipotence after just four. There is no way.

“The more supernatural powers a person has attained, the less he or she exhibits them. This was a lesson taught by Shakyamuni Buddha, because He used supernatural powers to help sentient beings, not lure them. Without supernatural powers, you cannot know sentient beings’ past causes, and therefore have no way of liberating them from reincarnation. It’s just like how a doctor cannot prescribe medicine without first knowing what is making the patient sick. The point of supernatural powers is not to draw people in; they are used to help sentient beings.

“Take, for example, that child I helped last year in Latvia. Had I not possessed some ability, then how could I have known that one of his ancestors had died and was hanging around his body? He was all better after I performed the Chod. His Holiness learned of this story, too, and told me to go back there a few more times. Yesterday I encountered a similar case; a little girl with epilepsy came to seek an audience. Others would have rationally concluded that she was haunted by a ghost, but this girl’s condition had actually come about because her father had smoked cigarettes for twenty years. I turned to him and said, ‘Do you smoke?’ He said, ‘Yes.’ I asked, ‘How long have you smoked?’ ‘Twenty years,’ he said. I said, ‘Do you want to kill your child?’ This was because second-hand smoke can cause epilepsy in children.” A disciple who was a doctor confirmed, “Second-hand smoke causes many problems; changes to the nervous system can also result in epilepsy.”

“Were it not for the little bit of meditation skills and supernatural powers I possess, I might have said that she was haunted by a dead ancestor, too, but her condition was actually a result of her dad’s smoking. Second-hand smoke is quite frightening; all that nicotine sticks to all your furniture at home, including your clothing, and as soon as kids smell it, they are affected. There are many factors. As a Rinpoche I must understand a great many mundane matters; only in this way can I benefit sentient beings. A lot of people are in the bad habit of only listening when I am speaking about the Dharma; as soon as I discuss another topic, they close their ears. If I had no understanding of the mundane world, then how could I help its people? You do not cultivate the supramundane path; all you do is talk nonsense. If I did not understand your nonsense, then how could I knock sense into you?

“You have all had the affinity to attend this puja today. You should all give it some thought: Why have you come? What is your purpose in being here? I can of course teach you what I have learned, but I cannot give you any of the good fortune, merits, causes, and conditions I have cultivated. That being the case, all I can do is let some of my good fortune help you to continue learning Buddhism. For example, while bestowing those blessings a little while ago, I merely knocked you on the head with a Buddha figurine, but don’t think that was easy; you give it a try—I guarantee by the time you were finished, you’d be sick in bed. A lot of people don’t cherish their guru; after they use me to get what they want, they just throw me away like toilet paper. You’re all the same.

“You should all come to appreciate when someone helps you without wanting fame or profit in return. Why has this person helped you? Once you have received these kindnesses, how do you face your future? You should be clear about this. Do not think he or she ‘should’ help you; there is no ‘should’ about it. Likewise, just because someone is a practitioner does not mean he or she should be compassionate enough to help you. Compassion does not mean trying to be on good terms with everyone. When you took refuge, you were told very clearly that when you do certain things, you will not be helped or given opportunities to do good deeds; the Buddha said this. The Dharma is completely helpful to us, but we absolutely must not violate the law of causality; we must act in accordance with our conditions and help sentient beings in accordance with theirs. If a person is very evil, you should not help unless he or she repents. Otherwise, you could make that sentient being feel as if he or she has gotten lucky: ‘As soon as I asked for help, he helped me; now my problem has been solved. Next time I have a problem, I’ll seek out help from the same person again.’ The meaning of repentance is that you must not commit the same transgression again—even including having evil thoughts.

“Why did I scold that disciple yesterday? I did it because once again, she wanted to enjoy life by quickly going to Amitabha’s Pure Land and not have to suffer anymore. Who had sown the seeds of her own suffering? She had, and she of course had to pay her due. Would it have been okay to place all her suffering into Amitabha’s hands? You are all completely selfish and self-serving; you won’t be happy until you’ve tricked me to death. If my answer to her yesterday had been, ‘Alright! I’ll let you die sooner than your time,’ then people could have been misinformed. Luckily, despite my seventy-one years, my reflexes are pretty quick for an old man; I kicked her out immediately. A great practitioner once said that when a guru achieves realization in Tantra, his disciples will multiply and his karma will manifest. That was exactly what happened yesterday. Had you been in my shoes, you would have said, ‘Okay! Recite more sutras and pray more to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara to go to Amitabha’s Pure Land, and that way you might die a bit sooner.’ Is that written in the Amitabha Sutra? If it were, then I would do just that. However, it is not, nor is it written that you can die sooner if you chant Amitabha’s name. Nowhere in the Five Sutras of the Pure Land School is this written, either. You cannot die until you have cleared all the karmic debt you owe for your evil acts.

“What causes a person to get sick? Being sick is better than going to the Hell Realm. I have spoken many times about my aspiration. What did my guru tell me to vow? If death is good for me, then let me die. In other words, when my fixed karma has matured, do not save me; I then won’t fall into hell after death. If sickness is good for me, then let me be sick. This means that if I get sick, I won’t need to go to hell, and can use my illness to practice. If health is good for me, then let me be healthy—meaning, if my having a healthy body can benefit lots of sentient beings, then let me be healthy. The condition of such a vow is genuinely being able to benefit sentient beings. If you cannot even solve your own problems, then how can you convince the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to cure you so that you can help sentient beings?

“The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have allowed me to be so healthy even in my seventies because they see that I am constantly doing good deeds, and have never stopped. I never feel frustration of any sort; no matter how disrespectful sentient beings might be, it does not bother me. This is my affinity, so I keep on doing it.

“I have granted you this empowerment today so that you can form a connection, and so that you will see clearly that practicing Tantrayana does not mean you can get or learn whatever you want. Even if I have granted you an empowerment, it has no use unless you have received oral transmission; even if you have, it is useless without blessings; even if I have bestowed blessings upon you, they, too, will be useless if you forget me. This is because it is written very clearly in the following lines that the wisdom of the Buddha and all gurus is inconceivable to you. I have explained everything to you with crystal clarity; it’s just that you have not listened. If you will not listen, then nothing can be done.

Upon the perfect completion of the puja, the disciples and believers thanked His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for compassionately granting the empowerment, transmitting the Dharma, performing rituals and bestowing teachings. Rising to their feet, they paid reverent homage as the guru descended the Dharma throne.

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Updated on September 1, 2018