His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – August 17, 2018

On August 17th, 2018, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presided over the auspicious Guru Yoga Puja at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Kyoto, Japan. A total of 146 people attended, including 19 believers and 127 disciples from Japan and Taiwan. The puja was a complete success.

At 9:50 in the morning, Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne to bestow precious teachings upon the attendees.

“Today I will perform the Guru Yoga. This Dharma method does not exist in Exoteric Buddhism, though it is particularly observed in Tantra and Tibetan Buddhism. Exoteric practitioners take refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha; in addition to those three, Tibetan Buddhist practitioners also take refuge in a guru. Why do we add such a ritual? If we wish to cultivate in this lifetime, then we must receive transmission from a guru; only then can we listen to the Dharma and practice it. A lot of people think of Buddhism as a kind of religion or philosophy or academic pursuit, which is why it is researched in so many places. Actually, the Dharma is not something that should be studied; it should be transmitted to you through your guru’s teachings and implemented in your everyday life. It is also a form of education that can change your future.

“Why are so many people unwilling to learn Buddhism? And why do so many merely participate in pujas, while being reluctant to take refuge? It is because they think Buddhism is a religion; they believe that if they attend the pujas, then the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will bless and protect them, bring them a better life, make them healthy, and give them whatever they want. That is not Buddhism; those sorts of promises are made in non-Buddhist religions. The definition of a religion is that it satisfies your desires, whereas Buddhism dictates that everything you do has consequences for the future. Because of this fundamental principle, the Buddha tells us, and teaches us, that if we wish to change our future, we must act now.

“Why should we take refuge? To give a simple analogy, if you want to study at any school or university, you must first register; if you do not, you will not be admitted. Taking refuge in Buddhism is a bit like this, but it would take a long time to explain it in depth. The important point is that if you have a genuine aspiration to take refuge and practice in this lifetime, then even if you don’t excel at cultivation or cannot resolve your problems from past lives, the fact that you have taken refuge will guarantee you chances in future lifetimes to listen to the Dharma, learn, and practice, and eventually become liberated from life and death.

“Many people do not consider being liberated from life and death to be very important; they equate happiness with living a good life and not having any serious illnesses. However, the Buddha said very clearly that all sentient beings must undergo eight kinds of suffering: That of birth, old age, sickness, and death, of being apart from loved ones, of being together with those one hates, of the raging blaze of the Five Aggregates (the suffering of never being able to satisfy the cravings of one’s five senses—sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch), and of not obtaining what one wants. If you do not practice Buddhism, then these eight kinds of suffering will recur throughout your lifetimes. If you do practice, and understand the origin of these sufferings, then you will stop creating causes that would make you suffer in those ways in the future, and may even reduce, or eliminate, the number of causes you already have. As such, your future lives will not be so entwined with these eight sorts of suffering.

“People live in this world for just a few short decades and then pass away. Looking back on their time on Earth, they wonder what exactly they have accomplished. They all waste so much time on their career, job, family, and children; when it comes their day to die, all of this is lost. Many people avoid thinking about death, but whether we do this or not, death is inescapable. Many hope doctors will be able to alleviate their suffering when they are on their deathbeds, but that is impossible; all a doctor can do is to placate us with the feeling that we have received treatment. It seems these days that a lot of people get cancer and seek medical help from doctors. If you were to ask a doctor, ‘Can you guarantee that you’ll cure me?’ then he or she might tell you, ‘I guess, and I speculate, that if you take this medicine, there will be a certain probability that it will be effective.’ Nevertheless, people put great faith in science and medicine, thinking that those who have gotten a certificate or degree must know what they are talking about and are worth listening to.

“In Taiwan, a believer who had gotten cancer sought an audience with me, during which he reported that he was seeing a doctor. I asked him, ‘Have you ever asked your doctor what the effect of taking this medicine is?’ He replied that he had not. I then asked, ‘What about whether it has any side effects?’ He said he had not inquired about that, either. I asked, ‘Why haven’t you?’ He replied, ‘Because he’s the doctor.’

“Actually, one special characteristic of Buddhism is that it addresses our problems at the root. The fundamental issue that plagues people is reincarnation—our continuous rebirth in this great sea of suffering. We grind our way through this life, busy every day for several decades, all so that we have food to eat, a place to sleep, and clothing to wear, all for the sake of family and career; we are so busy, yet when the end comes, we take nothing with us. And even if all this activity yields results, then after we pass, our descendants end up fighting over the property we leave, taking each other to court, and hating each other. Many people are unwilling to settle down and think for a moment: What is life? Everyone thinks, I’ve made a bit of a name for myself in my career, so I’ve had quite a full life. Some think that having some accomplishments means they have done well, and that they therefore have succeeded in this lifetime. It doesn’t matter how successful you are; as history has shown, even the greatest, most successful of people cannot avoid death.

“Buddhism is special in that it allows us to continuously accumulate sufficient good fortune and resources while we are still alive. The purpose of these is not to improve our lot or bring us better health. Obtaining good health is not a simple matter of taking some medicine. I am seventy-one, yet am still quite healthy, though this is not because I make visits to the doctor or take medicine prescribed by the Chinese Medicine Clinic. Actually, I did an experiment on myself this year; starting in February, I completely stopped taking any medicine—and have discovered that my health has not declined. This is a sort of good fortune that has manifested as a result of my constantly benefiting sentient beings. The body is a reflection of one’s good fortune, and as it accumulates, one’s health improves.

“None of you understands how to increase your good fortune; you think it is enough just to do a few good deeds, donate some money, and treat people better. These are things you should already be doing as humans. People should not do bad things; as everyone knows, committing crimes is a sure way to end up in prison. Unfortunately, so many people simply have no idea what it means to do good deeds and accumulate good fortune.

“If Buddhism has had no effect on me, then you should not learn it. I am someone who has actually cultivated the Dharma and implemented it in my life; as it turns out, everything the Buddha said was indeed true! In my fifties I got skin cancer, yet I did not go to the doctor, nor did I implore the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for help. I just kept practicing, and my skin cancer completely went away. Reason would dictate that a seventy-one-year old should not be able to constantly fly back and forth from place to place and be so active. It is not that I am ambitious, and it is not that I am so great and wish to earn a bit more money; rather, it is simply that everything I do is to benefit sentient beings. As long as my being somewhere can help anyone accept and respect the Dharma, then I have succeeded in planting a seed so that he or she might practice Buddhism in the future. Will he or she learn the Dharma from me in this lifetime? That is not important. Many people live their lives in stubbornness, thinking, This is how I am, and you’re just a Buddhist. Here; I’ll come have a listen, then that’ll make you look good. Actually, you really don’t need to worry about saving my face. As long as the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas continue to support my Dharma activities, then I will keep doing them.

“Why am I performing the Guru Yoga today? It is written quite clearly in the Dharma text that it is the quickest way to accumulate good fortune. You might ask, ‘Isn’t the quickest way to make offerings to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas?’ In the sutras it is stated that we can gain more merits by aspiring to bodhicitta and making offerings to a practitioner than by making offerings to hundreds of millions of Buddhas. The reasoning behind this is that with the emergence of a practicing guru, he or she is constantly helping many sentient beings; the guru’s vow is to assist them in escaping their suffering. Whenever you make offerings to the guru, you form an affinity with his or her good deeds, and will therefore benefit from them.

“The Buddha has attained Buddhahood; He is immovable. If you are not a genuinely aspired practitioner, then the Buddha cannot possibly have a connection with you. Why did He attain Buddhahood? He had broken away from the myriad afflictions of the mundane world. Why haven’t Bodhisattvas attained Buddhahood? In the sutras, Bodhisattvas are also referred to as ‘awakened sentient beings,’ which means they have attained realization, and still dwell among sentient beings. They have realized that unless they practice the Dharma, they will continue to suffer through lifetime after lifetime. Because they are still Bodhisattvas and have to cultivate, they still have a little bit of afflictions; that is, they are still attached to the desire to benefit and liberate sentient beings. Supplicating to Bodhisattvas or gurus for help yields quicker results, because they still possess some delusions and afflictions. Buddhas are completely immovable, and will only answer the supplications of someone who has genuinely attained the fruition of a Bodhisattva. Most people, when worshiping the Buddha, merely accumulate a handful of merits and good fortune for use in a future lifetime. Of course, this is better than nothing.

“On the surface, the Guru Yoga might appear to be an offering to the guru, but it actually involves many methods, mindsets, and rituals to do with cultivation. In Tibetan Buddhism, special importance is placed on a lineage’s purity; a pure lineage is one in which its teachings have been passed down, generation to generation, from the founder all the way to the present without a single interruption. I cultivate within the Drikung Kagyu Order, which has been around for more than eight hundred years. Its Dharma lineage has remained unbroken ever since it was founded by Lord Jigten Sumgon; for this reason, we call it a pure lineage.

Lord Jigten Sumgon learned the Dharma from Phagmodrupa. In the sutras, it was predicted that Bodhisattva Nagarjuna would reincarnate in the Snowy Lands (which refers to present-day Qinghai). Exoteric practitioners have all heard of the Madhyamaka Sastra, which was written by Nagarjuna. In his previous lifetime, he had been a great lay practitioner in the time of Shakyamuni Buddha—Vimalakirti. Anyone with even the slightest exposure to Buddhism knows very well that Vimalakirti expediently manifested as being sick, and when Shakyamuni Buddha sent Bodhisattvas Samantabhadra and Manjusri to see how he was doing, Vimalakirti used his illness to expound the Dharma to them. Manjusri and Samantabhadra are two of the Eight Great Bodhisattvas. From this it is evident that Vimalakirti’s cultivation was at the same level as the Buddha’s.

“Thus, Buddhism is not exclusively practiced by any particular nationality or group of people. As long as you make a firm resolution, you can learn it. The Dharma was not anyone’s invention; it was transmitted by Shakyamuni Buddha. When we propagate it, all our teachings should accord with what is written in the sutras. In the Ratnakuta Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha predicted that in the Age of Dharma Decline—this age we are living in now—many monks, as well as both lay and ordained gurus, would use flattery and deceit to twist the Dharma for the sake of their own fame and profit. ‘Fame’ includes wishing to make a name for oneself, and ‘profit’ refers to raking in offerings. We Chinese know that ‘flattery and deceit’ means catering to believers through sweet talk. ‘Twisting the Dharma’ refers to completely distorting the Buddha’s teachings in order to appease and coax believers.

“For any of you Japanese believers here at the Kyoto Buddhist Center today, I will not teach you the Dharma, because you have not taken refuge. Only disciples who have taken refuge may receive transmission of these teachings. You might point out that you can go to a temple to transcribe the sutras and listen to someone speak the Dharma, but that is not practicing; that is simply having a listen. After listening, have you actually put those teachings into practice? Has anyone supervised you? No. It would be like studying on your own, without a teacher’s experience and guidance; can you get a complete education that way? You cannot. Most people make the same mistake of feeling that as adults, they should not have to be told what to do. Actually, I wouldn’t bother, except that this is the only way to teach you Buddhism.

“I am performing the Guru Yoga today in the hope that it will help you all to form a profound connection with the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, and your guru. If you are unwilling to take refuge or eat vegetarian in this lifetime, it is fine, and I won’t punish you. However, your unwillingness to eat vegetarian raises the risk that you’ll fall into the Hell Realm by more than 95%. I am not saying that to scare you; I am basing it on what is written in the Sutra of Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows. It contains a section that describes how, in a previous lifetime, before Ksitigarbha became a Bodhisattva, her mother had enjoyed eating meat and turtle eggs (of a soft-shelled species that does not live in Japan). After her mother died, she fell into the Hell Realm. I want you Japanese believers to contemplate just how many animals you have consumed in this lifetime. Was the Buddha trying to scare us? He did not need to; He would neither scare nor threaten you, whether or not you learn the Dharma or believe in Him. Regardless, the Buddha spoke truths; whether you choose to accept them is up to you. He would never tell you what would happen if you chose not to; He simply tells you the facts.

“I did not come up with the truths I am revealing to you today; the Buddha taught them to us by way of the sutras. They allow us to understand what things we have done right in this lifetime, as well as how many we have done wrong. Any correct behaviors we should continue doing; these include any actions that do not harm sentient beings, and which benefit them instead. Wrongdoings are behaviors that harm them; we must not continue such acts. The Buddha said that anyone able to repent can eventually be liberated. However, people who do not repent certainly cannot, even if they implore the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas every day for good health, a successful business, and so on.

“I seem to have done a lot in this lifetime, but not once have I ever implored the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to make my business succeed. You all know that I am a lay Rinpoche, and am allowed to do business. Vimalakirti was a lay practitioner and a businessman, too; he employed many people and accumulated a great deal of wealth. Nevertheless, I have never performed the Dharma or implored the Bodhisattvas or Dharma protectors to help my business; I just let nature take its course in all things—and as a result, I don’t have as many afflictions.

“I am performing this Dharma today to help you all accumulate some good fortune so that you can learn Buddhism in the future. Many people say Buddhism can be learned casually, but that means they have no good fortune. Humans have very little by way of good fortune, and not enough to use. People think good fortune means having money, good health, and obedient children, but those things only make up a very small part of it. According to the Buddha, true good fortune is the ability to learn and practice the Dharma, and eventually to be able to benefit sentient beings and have a chance of attaining Buddhahood. This sort of good fortune can never be used up, compared with that of the mundane world. Why does your body fail as you get older? It is not because of old age; it is because you have consumed just about all of your good fortune.

“I am seventy-one, but still quite healthy, because I have sufficient good fortune; furthermore, I am constantly adding to it, so my health will not suddenly deteriorate. When people suddenly get sick or age abruptly, it is because they don’t have much more good fortune left. Many people doubt this, and say, ‘How could I have used up all my good fortune? I’m still alive and famous! I can still eat and sleep.’ They do not understand; old age is when people begin to use up the rest of their good fortune. To tell the truth, everyone is consuming his or her good fortune and waiting to die every single day. When will you die? There is no telling, so you continue to have a lot of hopes, desires, and prayers for yourself.

“Once we have learned the Dharma and gained an understanding of life and death, we naturally see a gradual decrease in our afflictions and suffering. It even gets to the point that we can accept them without being affected by them. Life on this world simply involves afflictions and suffering; these are unavoidable. My goal today is to give you a brief explanation so that you understand how important practicing Buddhism is. You should not wait until you have time or are in poor health, nor should you neglect to practice on days when work is very busy. Yesterday I arrived here from Beijing. No one is busier than I am, yet I never stop helping sentient beings. This should show you that Buddhism does not disrupt what you call ‘normal life’. Why won’t you immediately make a firm resolution and take refuge? The simple answer is that you are lazy. As such, you do not want to add what you consider to be new things to your life; you just want to live the rest of your life in the way that you already are. Lazy people do not want to change; they think life is fine as it is, and that they have all they want. In this way, however, you will burn through your good fortune very quickly.

“Once you understand the great importance of having a lineage in Tibetan Buddhism, you will no longer be at risk of following the wrong guru. Any Rinpoche who ascends the Dharma throne to perform the Dharma must be able to clearly demonstrate who taught him, as well as what his Order is. Furthermore, his disciples should more or less have an understanding of how he cultivated. It is written quite clearly in the sutras that even Shakyamuni Buddha had gurus in His previous lifetimes; it is only in this era that He was reborn on Earth as a Buddha, and therefore did not have one. Don’t think that just because He does not have a guru, it is okay for you not to, too. It is not, because you did not attain Buddhahood or become a Bodhisattva in a previous lifetime.

“In the sutras, Shakyamuni Buddha gives accounts of which lifetimes He spent practicing which Bodhisattva path. For example, He explains that He has even lived in the Hell Realm and the Animal Realm, and tells very clearly how He cultivated. Why did He come to Earth in this era? It was because in the past, He had created verbal karma, causing him to be reborn and attain Buddhahood here in this place of extreme suffering where He would liberate humans, the most obstinate beings in the universe. It is stated very clearly in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows that the most difficult sentient beings to liberate in the universe are the humans of Earth, who are difficult to tame, difficult to teach, stubborn, and opinionated. This is how so many Japanese believers are who come here to participate in pujas yet are unwilling to take refuge; they think they can learn everything just by listening. If that were true, then I would not need to continue cultivating. How long have I been listening to His Holiness speak the Dharma? Why won’t you take refuge? The way you think is, Why should I believe you? As long as I believe the Buddha, it’s fine. If you are so capable, then go ahead and implore Shakyamuni Buddha to appear before you and speak the Dharma; I’ll pay great respect to you then. You can’t, though. You would not even succeed in getting Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara to appear before you! This is because you are stubborn, opinionated, difficult to tame, and difficult to teach.

“I am not here today in order to force you Japanese believers to take refuge in me; I don’t have the energy, and I already have over fifteen hundred disciples anyway. I am getting old; I don’t want too many disciples. That would be a pain. This is because my attitude is that whenever any of my disciples has a problem, as long as I know about it, I will always take care of him or her. If you are not my disciple, and merely a believer, then it doesn’t bother me if you just come here for entertainment; when the puja is over, we’ll simply part ways and say goodbye, because the affinity between me and you is not very deep.

“As long as you have respect for the ritual I am performing today, as well as for the lineage gurus, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas, you are sure to accumulate some good fortune, which is helpful when you die. If you can remember today’s ritual well, and be very respectful while I am performing it, then you are much less likely to fall into the Hell Realm, unless you continue committing evil. This memory will help you on your deathbed to keep from going there.

“People in this mundane world possess very little good fortune, and it can change at any time. However, the great matters of life and death and our wish to reincarnate in the Three Virtuous Realms require that we continuously accumulate good fortune in this lifetime. The Three Virtuous Realms include the Heaven, Asura, and Human Realms. Some people think that they would be pretty satisfied to be reborn in the Heaven Realm, but there they still have a chance to reincarnate—so even if you were reborn there, you would still need to practice Buddhism. Thus, it is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows that Shakyamuni Buddha went to the Trayastriṃsa Heaven to speak the Dharma for His mother. In other words, she had been reborn in the Heaven Realm, so Shakyamuni Buddha did this out of filial piety so that she could learn to practice Buddhism and become liberated from reincarnation. From this it is evident that being born in the Heaven Realm does not mean you will be eternally happy.

“Usually, prior to any ritual, we begin with a refuge aspiration, of which there are two types: Uncommon and common. Buddhism can generally be categorized into three vehicles: Mahayana, Hinayana, and Vajrayana. Hinayana Buddhism involves cultivating the Arhat Path, and is widespread in such places as Myanmar, Sri Lanka, and Thailand. Its practitioners are required to be ordained. Mahayana Buddhism is the Bodhisattva Path, and is practiced in places such as Japan, China, and Korea. Vajrayana is the path of attaining Buddhahood; this Dharma lineage has spread outward from Tibet.

“‘Uncommon’ refers to any rituals that are not practiced jointly by practitioners of the Three Vehicles. Therefore, this uncommon aspiration prayer should be practiced specifically for practitioners of the Vajrayana and Bodhisattva Vehicles. An ‘aspiration’ means aspiring to bodhicitta, which is not done in Hinayana Buddhism.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the ritual, and then said, “What I recited just now was an uncommon aspiration prayer. The words mean that we have done many harmful things to sentient beings throughout our past lives, so in this lifetime we will encounter so-called enemies or demons that would harm us. This is not because they are malicious, but because of their resentment for all the evil things we did to them. These sentient beings will try to block us from becoming liberated for life and death, so we must aspire in the hope that the Dharma we learn today will allow them to be in peace and leave their suffering far behind, and no longer hinder our cultivation.

“After initiating this aspiration, we make a vow. For Vajrayana practitioners, this involves reciting the words mentioned earlier: ‘From this day until I attain Buddhahood, may all my actions, words, and thoughts be purely virtuous.’ This means we must refrain from committing even the slightest of evil acts. The vow made by practitioners of the Bodhisattva Vehicle is this: ‘From now until I die, may all my actions, words, and thoughts constantly be virtuous and not evil.’ For believers in general, especially those who have never taken refuge, the most basic requirement is to at least be virtuous in your actions, words, and thoughts for twenty-four hours—that is, from now until 10:40 tomorrow morning. Therefore, those of you believers in attendance at today’s puja—whether you are from Taiwan or Japan—should refrain from eating meat and killing for at least one whole day. If you are in the restaurant business and have to prepare a meal with meat, do not enter the kitchen, and do not carry any meat dishes out to your customers; get someone else to do it for you. That is bad, too, but it is the lesser of two evils.

“In addition, you should not verbally curse others or utter any foul language. This means that your thoughts should all be positive and virtuous. If you see people doing anything that makes you unhappy, do not give rise to hatred or annoyance. If you can refrain from such things for the next twenty-four hours, then at least you will have accumulated one day’s worth of good fortune. However, if you cannot even do that, then I beseech you to stop coming here—especially you Japanese and Taiwanese believers who aren’t willing to take refuge in me. These days I already have too many followers and disciples, so you would not be missed; being virtuous for twenty-four hours is the bare minimum of what is required.

“Although I was reciting in Tibetan a little while ago, I was doing it on your behalf; you’ve been tricked! If you are unwilling to do the aforementioned, then don’t bother seeking an audience with me. This includes not watching those terrible television shows about homicide or certain programs on cable. Refrain from doing all of these things I’ve mentioned from now until 10:30 tomorrow morning. If you go home and your spouse tells you you’ve lost your mind, just say, ‘That’s right! I’m crazy for a day.’ You can be out of the ordinary for one day. For you, it would be out of the ordinary, but for me, refraining from such things is par for the course. Give it a try; act out of the ordinary for one day. If it makes you happy, then that should be your new ‘normal’. If it doesn’t, then that means you are abnormal, which means you are not qualified to listen to the Dharma. If you cannot even refrain from those evil acts for an easy twenty-four hours, then how can you expect to do it for the rest of your life, and throughout the many lifetimes to come? You must make a firm resolution within yourselves; I cannot force you to. All this is written in the Dharma text; I did not make it up. Next, I will perform an uncommon refuge prayer.”

After performing more of the ritual, Rinpoche said, “Any Japanese believers intending to eat vegetarian today should avoid eating ramen, because the soup used tends to be based on a bone or meat stock. Don’t think it’s no big deal to eat noodles as long as they don’t have meat chunks added; it is a big deal, because the broth itself is not vegetarian.”

Rinpoche led the attendees in a recitation of a common aspiration prayer, and then said, “From this we can see that it is vital for Buddhist practitioners to take refuge. If you do not, then these prayers will merely help you to form an affinity, but that does not mean you can learn or practice the Dharma, or that you even understand it.”

Rinpoche led the attendees in a recitation of the Four Immeasurables, and explained, “The word ‘immeasurable’ here means that once you have engendered an aspiration, your mind’s energy becomes limitless, which means it is filled with the compassion of Emptiness. People who are unwilling to take refuge in Buddhism think it is enough for their spouse or children to practice. Let me ask you something: If your wife eats her fill, but you have not eaten, does it make you feel full? Her feeling satiated has absolutely nothing to do with you. Don’t assume that the Buddha will protect and bless you just because your spouse and children practice! As if! Even I, a Rinpoche, cannot protect my family members if they themselves don’t practice. They can merely share in a little of my good fortune because I am a practitioner, and the things that happen to them will only be slightly better compared to others. If they get in a car accident, they might incur financial loss, but they’ll be physically okay. Something bad will still happen to them. A lot of people don’t understand; they think cultivation has nothing to do with them, and that as long as they are good persons, they will be fine.

“In the previous verse, Shakyamuni Buddha is praised, as are His myriad merits such as manifesting among humans and so on.

“Just now, I recited the Seven Branch Offerings Prayer. Why? To help you accumulate enough good fortune so that you can receive the merits and blessings generated by today’s puja. Next, I will transmit the Meditation Empowerment.

“Many people—including people in Japan, Mainland China, Taiwan, and Korea—think meditation is a simple matter of visiting a temple for a day and sitting with legs crossed without moving, or having a Dharma master hit them in the back with a plank of wood whenever they lose their concentration. Actually, meditation is a special Dharma method practiced in every Order of Buddhism. The Drikung Kagyu Order’s meditation method is called the Mahamudra. Why should you receive the Meditation Empowerment? The reason is that if you are not authorized to receive the Meditation Empowerment, then you will not have the opportunity to learn genuine meditation methods in the future, and will merely pick up some heretical ‘meditation’ techniques. This includes visiting a temple and being told some specious Dharmas, and sitting there with your legs crossed until they ache. This is not meditation.

“Why should we learn how to meditate? First of all, it trains the mind into being able to focus, and rids us of many unnecessary undulations and moods. Secondly, it teaches us to eliminate all unnecessary mental defilements. Thirdly, and most importantly, meditation can help us in the last instant before we die. If, in that moment, we are able to only focus on the Dharma, our guru, and nothing else, then we will not be led astray by our karmic creditors. Any guru transmitting this empowerment must first have at least mastered the Simplicity Yoga of Mahamudra.

“The Mahamudra is divided into four stages. In order, they are the One-Pointedness Yoga, the Simplicity Yoga, the One-Taste Yoga, and the Non-Meditation Yoga. Each of these stages is further divided into three levels, for a total of twelve. Upon mastering the final stage, a practitioner attains Buddhahood. Any guru who has not mastered the Simplicity Yoga cannot transmit the Meditation Empowerment. My transmitting it to you today does not mean you have learned how to meditate and can sit there every day with your legs crossed; that won’t do you any good, because I have not transmitted the Dharma’s essence and pith to you. Moreover, why do you have to first be transmitted an empowerment before anything else? It is because after this, we still have a lot of rituals to perform. If you have not first been empowered in meditation, then your mind will wander. You will still be sitting here, but your thoughts will be elsewhere. For example, those of you who work in restaurants will think about how your kitchen hasn’t been prepped yet; those in other lines of work would think many things. Receiving the Meditation Empowerment can at the very least enable you to concentrate a bit better.

“The first part of an empowerment is the preliminary practice, which is our aspiration; the preparation for the work to be done. The second part is the main practice, which includes performing the rituals as written in the Dharma text. The third part is the concluding practice, which is a dedication.

“Go ahead and sit cross-legged now. Those of you who are unable to place both your feet atop your knees may just do it with one leg; if you cannot even do that, just sit up straight, and do not slouch. Don’t touch your ears; place your hands in front of you in a natural position. This is the dhyana mudra—with your hands placed slightly below your belly button. Just let them rest there naturally; you don’t need to apply pressure. Keep your head upright. Don’t try to open your eyes wide the way I do; you wouldn’t be able to. Don’t shrug your shoulders upwards; let them rest in a natural position. Your back should be straight, but not too straight; again, sit naturally. Tuck your chin in just a little bit; it is enough just to feel like it is pointing slightly inward. You should curl your tongue so that it is touching the roof of your mouth, but there is no need to apply pressure; just touch it lightly. This is the Seven-Point Posture of Vairochana. You don’t need to crunch your arms too tightly against your body; just let them relax.

“There is an easy visualization associated with this verse, but I won’t transmit it to you. It involves the Anuttarayoga Tantra yidam and Vajravarahi. This means that if the presiding guru has not attained the Anuttarayoga Tantra, and has not received Vajravarahi’s empowerment and method, then he or she cannot transmit the Meditation Empowerment.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the Meditation Empowerment, and explained how to visualize: “We should visualize a white light being emitted from our guru’s forehead and entering us right between our eyebrows; this light rids us of all the good and evil karma we have created with our body, and enables us to receive the blessings of all Buddhas. Next, we should visualize a red light being emitted from our guru’s throat and merging into our own to eliminate any hindrances we have created with our speech, so that in the future we will be able to obtain, listen to, and understand the essence of mantras. We should visualize a blue light being emitted from our guru’s heart and entering our own, purifying our mental hindrances and empowering us with wisdom. Finally, we should visualize our guru’s manipura as turning into light that we assimilate into ourselves, allowing all our actions, words, and thoughts to be equally purified. Only after receiving this empowerment will we have a chance to learn how to meditate in the future.”

Next, after performing the Vajra Bell Ritual, Rinpoche said, “The bell must be blessed before the Dharma can be performed. It doesn’t get blessed just by being placed somewhere; a ritual must be performed.” Next, Rinpoche conducted the Lamp-Offering Ritual, and instructed the attendees to pass around the lighted lamp. Afterward, the guru continued to bestow teachings:

“Just now I performed the Lamp-Offering Ritual. Lamps represent the Buddha’s light, shining down upon all sentient beings in the Six Realms. It also is a metaphor for how the light of wisdom burns away all our hindrances and increases our good fortune. The merits produced by lighting lamps can enable our mind to focus on the path to bodhicitta and aspiration, thus giving us a chance of not falling back into the great sea of reincarnation. These merits also decrease our greed, hatred, and ignorance, keeping us from being as likely to fall into the Hell, Animal, and Hungry Ghost Realms. The merits from lighting lamps reduce the harm done to us by our afflictions. We should be grateful to our guru for having this chance to light lamps, which has given us further opportunities to practice meditation, live longer, and eliminate all hindrances along the great path to cultivation so that we might be reborn in all Pure Lands and be received by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

“Even if you are unable to genuinely cultivate the Dharma in this lifetime, the merits from lighting lamps can at least give you a chance of being reborn in Vaisravana’s Heaven, where you will have the opportunity to continue listening to the Dharma. Lighting lamps produces countless merits, though you cannot obtain them simply by going to a temple and lighting lamps; you must have a guru to perform the Dharma, and only then will the merits appear. Moreover, on the anniversary of Lord Jigten Sumgon’s parinirvana, we recite a Lamp-Lighting Prayer in the hope that the lamps’ illumination will allow us to eliminate all hindrances and give sentient beings of the Six Realms a chance to see all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in the Ten Directions.”

Next was the Mandala-Offering Ritual. Ordained Glorious Jewel disciples and distinguished guests offered the mandala to the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, and H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and implored the Dharma from the guru.

After performing the ritual for a while, the guru led the attendees in chanting the Guru Yoga Mantra.

Meanwhile, Rinpoche conducted the Tsok, Tea-Offering, and Rice-Offering rituals, during which each attendee received offering items he had blessed, as well as the rare and auspicious causal condition to share a meal with the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, and the guru. Finally, Rinpoche led the disciples in the Dedication Prayer.

Without waiting for the guru’s instructions, the disciples began reciting from the Dharma text on their own. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche reproached them for this: “Who is leading here? Are you all gurus now? Why do you persist in having this bad habit, no matter how much I have scolded you for it? Are you in charge of the puja? Because you’ve done this again, I want you to turn in your Dharma texts; only our Japanese believers are allowed to keep them. The way you recite is a mess!”

After leading the attendees in chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performed the Dharma Protector Achi ritual, and then bestowed more teachings.

“Today’s Guru Yoga has been a perfect success. You Japanese believers may open up your Dharma texts; inside are two brief Long Life Prayers for the two Holinesses and one for me. Here I should take a moment to explain what a Long Life Prayer is, because many of you have no idea—and this includes quite a few Han disciples and even Tibetans.

“In Tibet, when a Tantra-practicing guru has achieved realization and reached the fruition of a Rinpoche, his guru will write a Long Life Prayer for him. This cannot be written by just anybody. The real significance of this sort of prayer lies in the fact that a practitioner has written it for his disciple, predicting and even confirming that all the disciple’s Buddhist activities in this lifetime and in future lives will be successful. To put it more simply, it grants confirmation to everything the disciple does, both now and in the future, through lifetime after lifetime—‘everything’ meaning things related to Buddhism.

“The 36th throne holder of the Drikung Kagyu Order, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang, and the 37th throne holder, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, both became throne holders when they were children. Their Long Life Prayers were then written by their true teacher, the first Yongzang Anyang Pudun Rinpoche, who had been their private tutor (the person who had taught them on a daily basis). This sort of prayer is written as an indication of how the practitioner in question cultivated in the past, as well as what fruition he has attained in this lifetime; it also shows how he has cultivated in this lifetime and what fruition he will attain in the future. ‘Long life’ does not refer to how long the body stays alive in this lifetime, although of course if you recite his Long Life Prayer continuously, his body will live longer than most people’s. The words ‘long life’ here connotate that this person’s Dharma activities have been continuous and unbroken for a very long time, and that he will keep cultivating until he has attained Buddhahood.

“For example, the 36th throne holder’s Long Life Prayer states that he is an incarnation of Bodhisattva Manjusri, and that everything he says was transmitted by the Five Wisdom Buddhas. He is able to uphold the Dharma, illuminating all like a bright, shining lamp. To implore the Dharma from the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtang is to grasp the teachings of the Drikung Kagyu Order and the Buddha for a hundred kalpas. A hundred kalpas is a very long time; one minor kalpa is how long it takes for the Earth to cycle through the Four Stages of Formation, Existence, Destruction, and Void and back again. The Drikung Kyabgon Chungtang has engaged in many activities; for example, in the past few years, he has presided over the Grand Memorial Puja for Lord Jigten Sumgon as well as pujas held on the ground below Drikung Thil Monastery in Tibet. This never used to be possible due to historical reasons, but recently the government has allowed him to hold these pujas. In the first year, three hundred thousand believers from all over Tibet participated. I cannot remember how many days the puja lasted, but they all slept on the ground out in the open, because there was no suitable accommodation. Last year (2017), or the year before, the puja was held again, and even more people attended; there were more than four hundred thousand of them. How do I know how many there were? I know because the government drew a perimeter around Drikung Thil Monastery and charged each entrant a small fee. In my opinion, these days only His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chungtsang can preside over a puja with so many attendees.

“For the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, his guru wrote that he is an incarnation of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, an embodiment of all emanations of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. For this reason, he possesses all of the Buddha’s teachings. His compassionate gaze enables him to see them clearly and thoroughly. The prayer goes on to wish him the ability to continue all of his Buddhist activities for a hundred kalpas. The two throne holders do different work. His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang travels all over the world, bringing Drikung Dharma teachings everywhere he goes.

“My Long Life Prayer was bestowed upon me by the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang; this was the equivalent of assuring that I would be able to achieve attainment in everything I cultivate in this lifetime and assuring my future enlightenment. Every Buddhist practitioner must keep the precept of refraining from making false speech, which basically means not lying, but in a Buddhist context, the point is to speak honestly about your achievements or lack thereof. One form of false speech is to claim to have done something that you have not; another is to deliberately tell people you have not achieved something and therefore will not teach it to them, when really you have. Breaking this precept is a very serious transgression. When a guru writes a Long Life Prayer, it is a confirmation of everything his disciple will accomplish in this and future lifetimes.

“The first line of the Long Life Prayer bestowed upon me by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang reads, ‘The rare, precious jewel propagates the Victorious One’s teachings.’ I am rare and precious, and ‘victorious’ means that I am constantly making progress in Buddhism and propagating the Buddha’s teachings. This line indicates that His Holiness believes I, his disciple, would never flatter or deceive believers with distortions of the Dharma for the sake of fame or profit. For example, right now I am propagating the Dharma here in Japan, yet I have never told you I would bless and protect you, nor have I ever promised that if you attend my pujas you would get rich or enjoy good health. Instead, I just keep on teaching the Dharma. If one day my words get through to you and you decide to take refuge, that is your business, and has nothing to do with me; however, this is how I teach. I would never say anything believers like to hear in order to make a name for myself or obtain any sort of benefit. I treat believers in Taiwan the same way; if you want me to sweet-talk you, you are out of luck, because I will only speak the words I learned from the Buddha.

“The second part reads, ‘Possessing compassion, he dances marvelously with awe and auspiciousness.’ I am compassionate; the word ‘possessing’ means that my compassion is not affected; it comes naturally, and I have begun to use its power. In Tantra, we often see the word ‘dance’; this means doing something effortlessly. Like dancing, my compassion is not deliberate; it comes very freely and naturally to me, and is very beautiful. ‘With awe and auspiciousness’ means my compassion is very powerful and beneficial to sentient beings, always manifesting auspicious signs.

“The third line reads, ‘Freely he benefits sentient beings wherever virtuous affinities abound including Fuzhou.’ This is an assurance about my future enlightenment bestowed upon me by His Holiness. In my future lifetimes, I won’t necessarily be on Earth; I will go anywhere in the universe where virtuous affinities exist. Fuzhou refers to one of the four great dvipas of the universe; the Dharma does not exist there, so perhaps that is where I will go to propagate it. I will go wherever my virtuous affinities take me. You should not keep imploring me to stay here; I most definitely will not. This is because very few people on Earth genuinely believe in the Dharma. You are already quite unusual for having attended the pujas, and even fewer of you believe in Buddhism. Fewer still believe enough to practice. These virtuous affinities have gradually been disappearing here on Earth.

“The fourth line reads, ‘May you, holder of the Vajra, remain for hundreds of kalpas!’ His Holiness confirmed me as one who holds the vajra, meaning I have grasped Tantra and use it exclusively; furthermore, everything I teach from now into the future will also be Tantra. My use of Tantra will allow me to propagate the Dharma while residing in the Vajra Realm for a hundred kalpas. In other words, I can be free from karmic forces that would cause me to reincarnate, and no one can make me stay or go if I don’t want to. Furthermore, I will reside in the Vajrayana Realm and remain a Tantrayana practitioner.

“I have explained the significance of the Long Life Prayer today so that you Japanese believers will understand. Why have I taken the time to do this? It is because you have no understanding of Tibetan Tantrism, and a bunch of erroneous information has led you to believe that Tantrism refers to the ability to chant ‘Om’ or an image of someone with a long beard. Not all Tibetans understand Tantrism; very few people have truly learned it. From what I can see, very few people in the history of Tibetan Buddhism have been able to genuinely cultivate Tantra.

“Today you have been able to participate in the Guru Yoga Puja. We are certain that all of our good fortune originated with offerings we made and alms we gave in our past lives. Good fortune, like money, can be used up. If you are unable to accumulate it, then you will use it up; it will be like money kept in the bank but that does not earn interest, and will eventually run out. For this reason, a guru puts his all into helping disciples and believers to continuously accumulate good fortune so that they one day can make a firm resolution to take refuge and practice Buddhism. Without good fortune, you cannot be resolved; you are sure to be plagued with a heap of bizarre reasons not to take refuge.

“You have a lot of special ideas, but are they correct or not? From your point of view, of course they are, but in light of the Buddha’s wisdom, you are ignorant. Why is that? It is not easy to come across an opportunity in this lifetime to listen to the Dharma, and to encounter a guru who practices in accordance with it is even harder. To meet one who helps sentient beings without caring about fame or profit is rarer still. Therefore, to those of you who have not decided to take refuge, I’m not saying that you will not be allowed to attend pujas in the future. Rather, I’m telling you that in not taking refuge, the good fortune you accumulate from all the Dharmas you listen to and all of the pujas you attend can only be used in your future lives; you cannot use it in this one. This is because you are not resolved, are still full of doubts, and still don’t want to be told what to do. Don’t tell me this; those of you with families are told what to do at home, and those who are employed are controlled by your jobs. Those with neither are controlled by the law. When are you ever free? Even living deep in the mountains you would not be free; there is no such thing as freedom. Throughout our lives, we are all at the mercy of our karma.

“I have performed this puja for you today so that you can accumulate some good fortune. If you end up taking refuge in Buddhism in this lifetime, then you will definitely find a use for the good fortune you have cultivated today. If you are only here in the hope that you will become healthier and obtain some good fortune, then you will only be able to use it in the next lifetime. Does this necessarily mean you will be reborn in the Human Realm and use it here? No; for the most part, you will have to use it in the Animal Realm. Why is that? The reason is quite simple: In this lifetime, you have listened to the Dharma, but are unwilling to take refuge; this means you are ignorant, because you do not believe in cause and effect. As such, when you die you are bound to have some attachments, which make you quite liable to fall into the Animal Realm.

“All over the world these days, more money is being spent on pets than on humans, and they live better than humans do, too. They constantly have people to serve them. Do you have a 24-hour servant at your beck and call? Think about it for a moment. It really has gotten to where humans are worse off than dogs and cats. Don’t think you’re great for being human; just look at how pets live. They get pampered from morning to night, called “dog-sons” and “dog-daughters,” are taken for walks all over the place, and get all the best toys and food.

“Today I have expounded the true significance of Buddhism for you, and this of course has included making you have to hear some things you don’t like. You want to hear that participating in a puja can make you rich. When is anything ever that easy? If that were true, then I would hold them every day. It is also false that attending a puja can make your health suddenly improve. Do you not need to repay the debt you have accrued from eating so much meat in this lifetime? A pound of flesh you eat is a pound of flesh you owe. If you don’t want to pay it back, then your health will continue to deteriorate; or, if you are healthy, something else is certain to happen that will make you lose money. I have spent a great deal of time today benefiting you; I hope you have listened.”

Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed ordained disciples to open up a Manchurian translation of the Buddhist Canon for the attendees to see.

“This is a compilation of 108 chapters of a Manchurian copy of the Buddhist Canon written in the time of Emperor Kangxi. This here is a copy, not the original, of what is currently the last set of its kind in Mainland China. Due to a certain connection, I was able to obtain it. It would normally cost about two million RMB, but I have a bit of a relationship with the Palace Museum in Beijing, so I was able to buy it at a relatively favorable price and bring it to this Buddhist Center. At present there are two copies of the Buddhist Canon in this Buddhist center; one is in Tibetan, and the other is this, the Manchurian one. Why did I obtain it? I did this because Director Fung of my company’s Cultural and Historical Studies Institute knew a professor of Manchurian Studies at Kyoto University, and after she mentioned this matter, he indicated that he wanted to research it. I said okay, and obtained a copy for him. He has been very busy, and hasn’t yet had time to come here to research it. Actually, there is not much to research when it comes to the Buddhist Canon, so perhaps he wants to study the Manchurian script. It was actually written in the Qing Dynasty, so the language should be quite authentic. There are 108 chapters in total.

“The disciples here should mention this when they go home to Taiwan; otherwise the other disciples not participating in this puja will think it strange: I have not even seen that sutra that the Association purchased. You may look at it if you want to; all of my disciples may. If you participate in a Sino Travel tour group, they will open the door for you to take a peek. However, if you come on your own, they won’t open the door for you.

“In Buddhism it is said that a Buddhist center cannot do without the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. For you, ‘the Buddha’ means a Buddha statue; ‘the Dharma’ refers to the sutras; and ‘the Sangha’ are the guru and other practitioners. Only if a Buddhist center has these three things will it be in accordance with the Dharma. That does not mean taking a Buddha statue out for you to see once every twelve years; that sort of thing is an antique. Possessing the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha means all Three Jewels are present; only then can the Dharmas transmitted in a Buddhist center be in line with Right Dharma. Very few Buddhist centers would keep Tibetan and Manchurian copies of the Buddhist Canon together. Corners were cut when the Manchurian copy in Taiwan was printed; it was not given the same look as the original, whereas this copy from Beijing’s Palace Museum was. The original is very large, so this was printed large, too. For this reason, I had a shock when I saw all 108 chapters together; I couldn’t believe how big it was. They designed it exactly the same way as the original, and there are more than ten copies in total. This is the last set they will ever print. The original set cannot be checked out for duplication, because each time it is copied, it gets damaged, so they won’t print any more. This is why I said this is the final set.

“It was paid for by the Association, so you have a right to know about it. After you go home, tell all the other disciples about this; if they want to have a look, they may do so, but they will have to register and participate in a group. If any of you Japanese believers wish to see it, I’ll require you to eat vegetarian, and you’ll have to submit an application for a time that I am here. To have an opportunity to view the Buddhist Canon in this lifetime one must possess a large amount of good fortune; without good fortune, you cannot see it. Why is the Buddhist Canon printed in the era of Kangxi the most precious? It is because back then, everything was written most authentically and orthodoxically. Due to various translations and a few centuries of history, some copies that were printed late contain flaws or are not as complete. The Tibetan Buddhist Canon comes in large and small versions. These two sets here are the large versions, and contain all of the Dharmas expounded by the Buddha in 108 chapters. To be able to view this body of work in this lifetime means at some point in your past lives you must have come in contact with the Dharma, and therefore obtained this causal condition.

“Why are you still unwilling to take refuge? You are helpless; you have been subjected to a certain influence in society, which makes Buddhism seem like some sort of superstition and has you thinking that its practitioners are different from others. When I go out, I look just like anyone else; it is your mind that makes you feel you are different. That you have been able to participate in a Tantric puja and lay eyes on the Buddhist Canon in this lifetime means that you were given this opportunity to learn Buddhism; if you let it pass you by, then there is no telling how many lifetimes it will take before you have this chance again. In a little while, all of you who have participated in today’s puja, including you Japanese believers, may make prostrations before the Buddhist Canon.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had instructed the attendees to make prostrations before the Buddhist Canon after the puja had concluded. However, the disciples did not do as they were told, so the guru berated the ordained disciple in charge of leading the attendees: “Do you not need to make prostrations to your guru? Just a moment ago I told you to wait and make prostrations after the puja. Without the guru, are there sutras for you to learn? Well then, you don’t need to take refuge in me anymore. You are all full of nonsense.”

Upon the perfect completion of the puja, the attendees thanked His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for compassionately performing the Dharma and bestowing auspicious teachings, thus allowing countless sentient beings to receive boundless benefits. Rising to their feet, they paid reverent homage as the guru descended the Dharma throne.

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Updated on October 22, 2018