His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – Morning Session, February 5, 2019

At 9:30 in the morning on Lunar New Year’s Day, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche lit lamps as an offering to the Buddha before ascending the Dharma throne. The guru presided over the Thirty-five Buddhas Repentance Ritual and the Black Water Jambhala Puja, and bestowed precious teachings upon all the attendees.

“We’ll begin this morning by performing the Thirty-five Buddhas Repentance Ritual. This ritual comes from the Ratnakuta Sutra, and was transmitted by Shakyamuni Buddha Himself. People in Taiwan and Mainland China perform many repentances, such as the Precious Penitential Rites of Emperor Wu of Liang, the Water Repentance Ritual, the Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Repentance Ritual, the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s Repentance Ritual, the Medicine Buddha’s Repentance Ritual, and the Lotus Sutra Repentance Ritual; all of which I have performed. None of these rituals’ texts were transmitted personally by Shakyamuni Buddha; He only transmitted the Thirty-five Buddhas Repentance Ritual within the Ratnakuta Sutra. With it, the Buddha taught monastics and lay practitioners of the Bodhisattva Path the proper direction and mindset for cultivation, as well as how to accumulate merits through practice and so on. Therefore, for anyone wishing to cultivate the Bodhisattva Path, the Thirty-five Buddhas Repentance Ritual must be observed. Is there any difference between this and the Precious Penitential Rites of Emperor Wu of Liang or prostrating before the Thousand Buddhas? They are all the same — making prostrations before the Buddhas, but this one is different in that it was spoken by Shakyamuni Buddha.

“We also well know that all the Dharmas known by human culture in this era were transmitted by Shakyamuni Buddha. According to Him, seven Buddhas will reside in this world; that is, the Earth will see the coming of seven Buddhas, of whom Shakyamuni is the fifth. In the future, Bodhisattva Maitreya will attain Buddhahood, and after Him there will be another; after that, there will be no more Buddhas on Earth. What does that mean? It means the end of the Earth. In other words, the Dharmas taught by the four Buddhas before Shakyamuni do not exist in the world we are in right now, so the only one that truly has a connection with the humans of Earth in this era is Shakyamuni Buddha.

“Many people think human culture has only been around for a mere five thousand years or so, when in fact, older artifacts are frequently being found which look like they were produced using modern science and technology. Some wonder whether those were left here by aliens. According to the sutras, humans flew down to Earth from Abhasvara (the Heaven of Light and Sound); they did not evolve from primates. Where is the Heaven of Light and Sound? The sutras do not state that very clearly. After people arrived from there, their love for eating a certain type of food on Earth caused their bodies to grow heavier, and they could not fly back whence they came. From then on, humanity began to reside and build abodes on Earth; this was the beginning of all civilization. Thus, if we do a bit of research, we find that just about all of the world’s religions, without exception, include the hope to go to heaven after death. We are the descendants of those who flew down from the Heaven Realm, so we all have this memory engraved in our genes. Just about all of the world’s major religions talk about wanting to return to heaven, but Buddhism does not, because if you go to the Heaven Realm, you still have to reincarnate.

“The sutras refer to the people of the Heaven Realm as devas. Despite being born there, they still have to reincarnate, and any reincarnation brings suffering. This is especially true of heavenly beings; the suffering they experience before death is far more severe than what we humans experience, because humans do not want to die and do not give any consideration to their impending death. They get doctors to prolong their lives right up to the last second, still hoping to keep from dying, because humans are unable to see their own death. However, devas can see their death quite clearly.

“In the sutras it is written that for devas about to die there will appear five signs of decay. The first is a malodorous body. Devas originally smell good, but why? It is because anyone reborn as a deva must have observed the precepts while human, so a resulting fragrance manifests; this is why they naturally have a pleasant scent. However, prior to death, that nice aroma disappears, and their bodies begin to stink. The second sign is evident in their hair. Devas do not need to get perms, cut, wash, or otherwise tend to their hair; it naturally looks very pretty and stylish. They also naturally have flowers in their hair, without even needing to pick any. When devas are about to pass away, their hair droops down, and will not behave no matter how much they brush it, even if they use supernatural powers.

“The third is that their clothing goes to shreds. If you are reborn in the Heaven Realm, whatever clothing you want to wear will appear for you, though of course this does not include our brand names from Earth; those cannot go up there. Heavenly vestments are mentioned in the sutras, and in Tantra, when we make offerings to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, there is a ritual for offering clothing; this means clothing of the Heaven Realm, and not just some ordinary kasaya. Many people these days think offering a kasaya brings good fortune, but they are wrong. No matter what sorts or how many mundane things are offered, there is still no good fortune gained. In Tantra, there is a ritual in which we make offerings of heavenly vestments; it requires us to chant mantras and visualize transforming cloth into clothing the devas wear. However, before they die, their clothes naturally fall apart.

“The fourth sign of approaching death is that all their family members leave and stay away from them. Why is this? It is because when devas die, they always plummet straight down to the Hell Realm, not the Human Realm. This happens because as soon as they realize they are going to die, they give rise to evil thoughts. What sort of evil thoughts? Prior to becoming devas, regardless of which religion they practiced, they all thought they had done a lot of good deeds; therefore, when it is their time to die, thoughts of vexation, annoyance, hatred, and greed well up within them. This means that aside from practicing Buddhism, nothing can break us away from such thoughts; all other religions merely satisfy our greed. For example, some religions say their lord or god will make arrangements for them; this panders to their greed, as does the saying that all their god’s arrangements are right.

“It’s like how so many of you say the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are compassionate and will bless you. What makes you think that is true? Every one of you speaks without remembering your guru’s existence. I would remind you all once again that if you keep saying this sort of thing, you will be told to leave. Why? In the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, Ksitigarbha very clearly states, ‘I can only benefit sentient beings thanks to the Buddha’s blessings.’ Are you Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha? Therefore, that disciple who came out to share her story a little while ago was very arrogant; she thought that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas had blessed and helped her because she was good at worshiping them. When you worship, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas merely help you to form a connection and find a guru who is not afraid to scold you and who is not in it for fame or profit.

“It’s like how, last December, Mainland China’s biggest television network invited me to appear on a show, but I declined. How many people would love to be on TV? Why didn’t I go? It was because I am not after fame! A lot of people told me, ‘Rinpoche, you should go; it will make you very renowned.’ Why would I want to be renowned? Even now, not being famous, I am a “master of suffering”; wouldn’t being famous just bring me even more suffering? In other words, when practicing Buddhism, if you do not genuinely learn anything about the Dharma, then the more you practice, the greedier you will get, just like a non-Buddhist—and you will even claim, ‘The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have given me these things.’ Why did I mention the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows? As you all know, Ksitigarbha was very modest when describing his liberation of sentient beings: ‘I am only able to help sentient beings thanks to the Buddha’s blessings.’ Do you think you can help sentient beings and your deceased mom simply by making a few prostrations and eating a vegetarian meal or two? Does that make you so wonderful that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will appear before you? Will a few prostrations allow you to see the Buddha’s light? Thus, I will not transmit Tantra to this disciple who came out to speak a little while ago, because she does not respect her guru. She speaks as though she does, but she is just trying to show how remarkable she is. Even having become a Rinpoche, I till would never dare to call myself ‘remarkable’. It is only due to blessings from His Holiness, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas that such a hard-toiling person as myself is able to help sentient beings, so what makes you so arrogantly assume that you can do the same? Therefore, this Thirty-five Buddhas Repentance Ritual is precisely for arrogant people like you.

“Why did Shakyamuni choose these thirty-five Buddhas? He did not explain why, but from my limited experience with cultivation, it was surely because they were the ones with a rather profound connection to us humans of Earth. What is meant by ‘the Buddha liberates people with connections’? If we have no connection with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, then they cannot liberate or even help us even if they want to. What does ‘with connections’ mean? It does not mean having simply made a few prostrations; it has to do with whether or not you have heeded the Buddha’s words and put His teachings into practice. If you have not, then you have no connections with Him, and can therefore only be connected with the ‘master of suffering’. Everyone thinks making prostrations to the Buddha means prostrating oneself before a Buddha statue. What is a Buddha statue? It is made of copper, clay, or wood; is the Buddha made of those things? He is not; statues are just something to look at, for your convenience. The true meaning of making prostrations to the Buddha is to worship your inner Buddha nature. Have you amended your ways or not? Thus, the reason Buddhism is in decline is that everyone treats it like just another religion. Other religions’ methods can of course attract many followers, but Buddhism is not trying to compete in terms of how many believers it has. The entire planet currently holds no more than 7.7 billion people, but if one were to compare the total number of sentient beings, including those in the Animal, Hell, and Hungry Ghost Realms, then there is no end to them. So why should we want to liberate people? It is because everyone’s body contains an enormous number of sentient beings’ lives.

“I imagine that had I not given careful instructions with the building of the new temple, as soon as the topsoil was dumped, the pond would have been filled. No one believed it possible that that little pond could contain so many organisms, but sure enough, more than eight thousand fish were netted from it. It was no larger than this room, so how could so many fish have squeezed in? I still can’t figure it out. If I hadn’t cultivated a tiny bit of wisdom and compassion, then I might have assumed that sacrificing those sentient beings to build the temple would not matter; after all, surely the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas would lend a hand by liberating them to facilitate the temple’s construction. Such an assumption, however, would have been nonsense. Who says that?! Nothing in the sutras says so. Why was I able to spot a golden fish in a pond while I was in Japan? I am not showing off my supernatural powers; I am simply telling you that if you keep being so selfish, arrogant, and conceited, then you will never have any connection with Buddhism. You will merely obtain some good fortune to use in the next lifetime; it cannot be used in this one.

“After today’s Thirty-Five Buddhas Repentance Ritual, if you have genuinely taken the Bodhisattva Precepts, then you will have fewer hindrances along the Bodhisattva Path. If you have not yet taken on the Bodhisattva Precepts, then today’s ritual will help you with an opportunity to do so. If you have not taken refuge, think taking refuge is superfluous, and think that everything will be fine as long as you believe and because you have come to attend this repentance ritual, then by now you should know that you are being very foolish. Why won’t you take refuge? Whenever taking refuge is mentioned, a lot of people think, Oh, at the moment Rinpoche is my friend, and everyone is quite comfortable as friends; after I took refuge, though, he would become my guru, and I would get knocked down a notch or two. The fact is that you are shorter than I am anyway. Are you taller? I am 178 centimeters tall, and you are only 160; no matter how hard you try to compare, you will never be taller. If we talk about age, I am seventy-two, and you are only in your sixties, so in that regard you are lower as well. You might have received more formal education than I, but you come from a better background; in the past, I could not afford to go to school. Therefore, people who have attended this ritual will have an opportunity to take refuge in the future—though not necessarily in me. On any day that you are not in refuge, you only form a connection with Buddhism so that you will have the good fortune in the future to hear the Buddha’s name and listen to the Dharma; however, this cannot liberate you from life and death through lifetime after lifetime.

“Many people wonder if being liberated from life and death is really so important. It is. Only if you become resolved to do so in this lifetime can you transform all of the evil karma you have accumulated throughout your past lives. That disciple we heard from a little while ago talked about how her mother had chanted the Buddha’s name, eaten vegetarian, and so on. So why did she still commit suicide? Were the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas not watching over her? Wouldn’t eating vegetarian have meant she was not committing acts of killing? She should have been protected! However, the guru in whom she had taken refuge was not as strict or quick to scold his disciples as I am; he simply told her whenever she went to the temple for a visit, ‘Ah, Bodhisattva, welcome back!’; or, ‘Bodhisattva, you’ve changed; you are no longer taking life!’; or, ‘May the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas bless and protect you.’ He kept spoiling her until she ended up slandering the Buddha. If you do not thoroughly repent and cultivate the Bodhisattva Path, then how can you transform your karma?

“Even if I were able to send you to Amitabha’s Pure Land right now, the fact that you have not cultivated the Three Blessings would prevent you from seeing the flowers blossom to reveal the Buddha there for at least twelve minor kalpas. How long is that? One minor kalpa is the time it takes for the Earth to cycle through the four stages of Formation, Existence, Destruction, and Void, and then back again; this is a very long time indeed. Well, you might say, ‘I don’t care; I’ll just hide in a lotus blossom for twelve minor kalpas and wait; no worries.’ However, because you would gain supernatural powers after arriving in the Pure Land, you would see all the nearby lotus flowers opening to attain Buddhahood, and you alone would still be locked inside yours. When that time came, you would truly repent. Thus, many people do not comprehend the sutras; they constantly talk nonsense, thinking they have already made a vow, but this is useless.

“Therefore, in a little while, when I am conducting the ritual, you must all give rise to a repentant mindset, whether you have taken refuge or not, and whether or not you are prepared and resolved to cultivate the Bodhisattva Path. As I have said, we must repent every day prior to attaining Buddhahood. Why is that? Only after attaining Buddhahood can one liberate vast numbers of sentient beings, so how can the paltry few tens of thousands of sentient beings that ordinary people such as ourselves might liberate compare? How can helping eight thousand fish compare? That is a tiny number compared to all the myriad sentient beings in the universe. Before those fish were dredged up, I had to first perform a ritual, because I was afraid of harming them. I did not think that building the temple would bring a great many merits, which I could then use to liberate them; that would be nonsense, showing an utter lack of compassion. It would be absolutely wrong.

“There used to be a temple with a lawn at its entrance; when visiting there in summer, I would often see earthworms crawling out of the grass, so I would pick them up and place them out of the way. One day I discovered that the entire lawn had suddenly been paved over. Can you guess how many sentient beings died in that concrete? Had anyone performed a ritual first? I know that no one had. Had anyone recited the sutras? Yes, but would reciting the sutras definitely liberate those sentient beings? I don’t know. Thus, whether intentionally or unintentionally, we have all done many things that harm sentient beings. Where does our intention or lack thereof come from? It comes from our desire to benefit ourselves. As long as it is for our own benefit, we do not think it is a big deal to harm sentient beings a little bit. Why did I perform a ritual at the site of the new temple before it was constructed? I did it to ask the local earth deities for permission. Do not think building a temple is such a great deed and produces so many merits that the local earth deities are sure to help you. It is under no such obligation; if you are not compassionate, then they do not have to help you, and may give you a hard time instead. We do not perform rituals to get deities to submit; we do it to ask them for permission to do things like build a temple, because the land belongs to them.

“Why should we do things in accordance with the law? If the government has stipulated that we must do something a certain way, then even if our construction project is successful, we will still get into trouble somehow if we do not do it legally. An ordained disciple of mine said that some temples are terrorized by organized crime syndicates. Of course they are! This is because those temples do not abide by the law. If they did, how would the criminals dare to intimidate them? If worst came to worst, I would simply close the temple. I could just shut the doors and cultivate inside by myself, couldn’t I? I don’t need disciples, do I? Why are some intimidated by gangs? It is because they greedily seek offerings and are afraid that their temples will have to close, so of course criminals find opportunities to terrorize them.

“Practicing Buddhism has always been about putting teachings into practice in everyday life. Do not turn it into some kind of superstition. There have always been many phenomena in the universe that our scientific instruments cannot possibly detect. For example, modern astronomers say that they have received a steady signal from a faraway place, and that it could have been sent by aliens—but could it not possibly be from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas? We come up with a lot of ideas to explain things that scientific instruments cannot verify. Actually, the Western scientists are always saying, ‘Hypothetically, this is the way it is.’ If that is the hypothesis, and they get five scientific experts together for a seminar, they will conclude that yes, that is indeed the way it is. Thus, science is superstition, too.

“For example, scientists all say people are descended from apes. If that is true, then why aren’t today’s apes changing? If an ape suddenly changed once, then now, after so much time has gone by, why haven’t any apes suddenly changed into humans? For this reason, Darwin’s theory of evolution is a bit flawed. This is because Western scientific research is done from an external—that is, a superficial—standpoint; scientists do not look at a thing’s inner qualities. Nowadays a lot of research into the genome is being done. So where do genes come from? No one has the answer. Why do we have genes? There is only a 2% difference between the DNA of an orangutan and a human. Doesn’t that mean orangutans should only be 2% different from humans? However, the difference is huge. At present, it is even said that an orangutan has the IQ of a fourth or fifth grader, so doesn’t that make us extremely different? If our DNA is only 2% different, we should be a lot more alike, shouldn’t we? Therefore, science is full of contradictions.

“However, because a system has been established in this world, anyone with a certificate is an expert. The other day I said the Buddha really did not give out any degrees or say that attaining the fruition of a first-level arhat would be awarded a first-level arhat’s certificate. I remember one time, His Holiness bestowed an empowerment, and some Taiwanese believers came up with a scheme—a certificate. However, His Holiness paid them no attention. For example, if people are awarded a certificate for having participated in a puja despite there being no mention in Buddhism that this should be done, then they are basically just giving themselves a sort of power and prestige of the mundane world. For this same reason, in ancient times, Confucius did not award his students any certificates, nor did he divide them into grades such as kindergarten, elementary school, university, and so on. Those came about later, after people had gradually come up with more schemes. Everyone would earn a chunk of money with a kindergarten certificate, then with one from elementary school, middle school, and university, and then a bit more from having a master’s degree, and even more from having a PhD. This is how everyone does it. Therefore, learning Buddhism is very inexpensive; you may give offerings if you like, but if you don’t, you aren’t going to get kicked out. You’ll even be taught a bunch of things you could never learn in schools.”

H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche put on Gampopa’s Dharma hat and instructed the attendees to stand and prepare to observe the Thirty-five Buddhas Repentance Ritual.

The guru told the attendees to recite along with him, and to make a reverent obeisance to the Buddha after every line. Those who were unable to kneel down could bend at the waist with their palms together. Embraced by H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassion, everyone, without exception, felt deeply ashamed and repentant.

After the obeisance was over, Rinpoche bestowed further teachings.

“In the repentance prayer, it is written very clearly: In this lifetime and in our past lives, while reincarnating since before time began, we are bound to have committed evil acts. Why, then, should you take refuge? You should take refuge because after that, your guru will teach you Dharmas, and only then can you break free of reincarnation. Don’t think it doesn’t matter because you’ve listened to today’s puja, or assume that you’ll still have time to practice and be a good person in the next life. I’m sorry, but there is no telling when you would return to this world; you may or may not be reborn as a human. Even if you are, you still don’t know if you will come in contact with Buddhism. The risks are very high. Therefore, in all the sutras, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas urge people to grasp this opportunity here and now, in this lifetime. If you let it pass you by, there really is no way of knowing how many lifetimes you will have to wait before another opportunity arises. Reincarnation’s sea of suffering truly is not what you can imagine; you think you can resolve it just by relying on a bit of education, power, and money. It is written in the sutras that all the evil acts you commit were caused by ignorance. ‘Ignorance’ here does not mean lacking knowledge or understanding. It means that if you have not learned Buddhism, then you do not know where all your afflictions come from. As such, in everything you do, while using what you perceive as correct judgement, you will harm sentient beings without even knowing it. After learning Buddhism, however, we understand how to prevent ourselves from committing evil; only then can we stop reincarnating in this lifetime and become liberated from life and death.

“What makes learning Buddhism difficult? Our cognitive hindrances. This does not mean your knowledge, which is limited; it refers to everything we perceive and are conscious of. From the time we were in our mothers’ wombs, we have lived within our own perception—‘I know, I feel, I think’. These hinder our cultivation. Buddhism teaches us not to be self-centered, and that we instead should be sources of help for vast numbers of sentient beings. Therefore, before we can assist them, we must be aware of all our shortcomings so that we can reduce and even eliminate them; only then can we gain the ability to help sentient beings.

“Next, we will perform the Black Water Jambhala Ritual. There are a lot of Exoteric practitioners who criticize Tantrism for emphasizing on performing the Jambhalas Pujas. I do not perform them constantly, and never have I performed one for the sake of my business. Actually, Jambhalas count as Dharma protectors in Buddhism, and are Bodhisattvas of the Eighth Ground or higher. Why are they Dharma protectors? Dharma protectors do not safeguard us when fighting enemies; they help us along our path to cultivation by reducing and even eliminating our hindrances. Why should we perform Jambhala pujas? It is because in the Ratnakuta Sutra, the Buddha taught that a person’s life is comprised of two elements: Longevity and wealth.

“The Buddha said that people die in one of four ways: When their wealth and longevity have run out, when they have both longevity and wealth, when they have wealth but no longevity, or when they have longevity but no wealth. Where does our wealth come from? It comes from alms and offerings we have given in our past lives, which means that we will only get a set amount of wealth in this one, and no more. Don’t assume that supplicating to a Jambhala will cause him to give you more wealth; this might happen for practitioners like me, but it wouldn’t for you. So why do you come to participate in the pujas? It is because you have done so many bad things in this lifetime. You would say, ‘I haven’t!’ Raise your hand if you have never eaten meat, besides those disciples of mine who have been fed vegetarian since they were in the womb. For every mouthful of meat you consume, you lose some wealth. Why is that? Wealth is a type of good fortune; without it, how can you buy meat to eat? You would argue, ‘I didn’t; someone bought it for me.’ This, too, costs you good fortune!

“Some people complain that eating vegetarian is inconvenient when there are meat-eaters present. It is plenty convenient for me; I have been eating vegetarian since I was thirty-six years old, and I have met all manner of VIPs. I eat my vegetarian dishes, and they eat their meat dishes. What is inconvenient about that? Whether something is convenient or not is decided by your mindset. Thus, when you want to eat meat, you will lose wealth. It is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows that in one of her lifetimes, Ksitigarbha’s mother loved to eat turtle eggs; after she died, she went to the Hell Realm. Every time I read this section, I get goosebumps, for two reasons: First of all, because this shows just how easy it is to fall into the Hell Realm; and second of all, because so many people still do not believe, saying, ‘Will anything bad happen even if I just eat a little bit?’ If you love to eat meat, you won’t eat just a little bit; you enjoy the flavor of those sentient beings’ flesh, so you will eat it. Never mind the fact that eating it will definitely cause you to fall into the Hell Realm; you are at least sure to get sick! I won’t keep talking about such an inauspicious thing on this Lunar New Year’s Day.

“Where does sickness come from? It comes from greed. In addition, you might point out that cattle and sheep eat vegetarian, too. True; they do, too, but they are not compassionate. Why do humans eat vegetarian? It is because we cannot bear to take the lives of other sentient beings. Take, for example, that golden fish I mentioned. When a bird flew over to eat the little minnows in the pond, that fish swam up to the surface to shoo the bird away. The golden carp had compassion. As humans, you have no compassion; you eat huge meals of fish and meat every day to your hearts’ content to show that you have influence and can enjoy all the delicious delicacies the world has to offer. I ate too many delicacies in the past; as a result, I got skin cancer. However, due to my belief in cause, effect, and the Dharma, I was cured. The reason you cannot be cured—including some of my disciples—is that you still do not believe in cause and effect; you are still unwilling to repay your debts.

“We are performing the Jambhala puja today for a few different reasons. Because all of the evil acts you have committed in this lifetime have reduced the amount of wealth you should have obtained, this puja will help you to recover some of it. Tibetan Jambhalas are different from our Chinese wealth deities, who are deities, not Bodhisattvas, whereas in Tantra, Jambhalas are Bodhisattvas. We just give them an easier-to-remember title because, after all, without wealth, we really cannot survive.

“In Tibetan Buddhism, there are black, white, red, yellow, and green Jambhalas. The Black Jambhala is an earth terma. What is that? When Master Padmasambhava left Tibet, he hid a lot of puja texts in mountain caves, within rocks, in the water, in the trees, and even in the air. In later generations, some terma masters performed rituals to find these texts. Thus, the blessings from these sorts of texts are especially powerful, because they are pujas that were transmitted personally by the yidam. Nowadays, no more terma masters exist; if someone claims to be one, you can be certain that he or she is a fake, for there are none in all the Four Orders. The Black Water Jambhala is of the same system as Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. The guru he carries atop his head is Akshobhya, and the Four Heavenly Kings and the Heavenly King of Abundant Treasures, with whom we are familiar, are the Black Water Jambhala’s retinue.

“So, the Black Water Jambhala can restore for you a bit of the wealth that was originally your due. Why would he give it to you? It is not so that you can buy a house, pay your mortgage, or do things you enjoy; it is so that you can make more offerings—because you can’t make offerings if you’re broke; am I right? In general, the Black Water Jambhala Puja is rarely performed, because the presiding guru must first have completed retreats during which auspicious signs had manifested before he can perform it for others. Otherwise, this Jambhala will not come. The Black Jambhala takes on a wrathful appearance, and ignores ordinary practitioners. Why does he ignore them? It is because he is a yidam that primarily emphasizes the elimination of karmic hindrances.

“In a moment, while I am performing the ritual, you should all give rise to a repentant mindset, because all of the evil acts you have committed in this lifetime have caused you to lose wealth. This is no one else’s business; it is yours only. Performing this Jambhala ritual will give you a few more chances in the future to do good deeds and give alms so as to accumulate good fortune. The Jambhala is not asking you to donate all your money; that’s not what this means. You should be a bit more generous, and give what is within your capability. I do not ordinarily perform this, so many people seek me out and say, ‘My business is failing, so I hope Rinpoche will perform the Jambhala for me.’ I absolutely will not; if I won’t even perform it for my own business, why should I for others’?

“This next part I was not originally going to mention, but I’ll touch upon it briefly. If you cultivate this Dharma very diligently, you will practice it 100, 1,000, 10,000, or 100,000 times, and so on, each time being a single session of the ritual. Furthermore, you have to see some perfect, auspicious signs manifested, but I won’t elaborate. The text then reads, ‘Gather together an abundant surplus of wealth.’ This Jambhala earth terma ritual was obtained and written by Gulu Chowang Rinpoche upon the supplication of the compassionate First Jamyang Khyentse Wangpo. Performing it can bring two siddhis: Perfect attainments of good fortune and wisdom. In other words, if the practitioner has not seen the auspicious signs mentioned in the text, then he cannot perform this puja for others. You might ask whether I myself have seen the auspicious signs. Of course I have; if I had not, how would I dare perform it? Performing it for you without having seen the auspicious signs would be the equivalent of trying to give you my own wealth. How can I afford to do that? Of course, the Black Water Jambhala will come to help out. Therefore, you should all be aware that being able to participate in a Jambhala puja is very rare, and that the point is not to accumulate wealth for your own use. Moreover, I have something selfish in mind in performing it: My disciples have made offerings to me, and I hope that performing this Jambhala will enable them to continue to have money with which to make offerings, though this has its conditions.”

H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the ritual. After doing it for a while, he allowed everyone to pray to the Black Water Jambhala, and then bestowed more teachings.

“To perform the Black Water Jambhala, the presiding guru must first have realized the compassion of Emptiness of the Four-Armed Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, because the Black Water Jambhala is an Eighth Ground Bodhisattva. The Eighth Ground Bodhisattvas used to be Buddhas who reincarnated as Bodhisattvas to help sentient beings. Therefore, after being subdued by Avalokiteshvara’s compassion of Emptiness, the Black Water Jambhala is able to take pity on sentient beings, bringing relief to the impoverished. Everyone has a different definition of poverty, but the point is that as long as you have participated in a Black Water Jambhala Puja, you are certain to never in this lifetime be so poor that you have nothing to eat.

Also, the presiding guru doesn’t merely have to chant mantras as you might imagine; he must transform many of his own merits into nectar water and make an offering of it to the Black Water Jambhala; only then will the Jambhala comply with the guru’s wishes and help sentient beings. Therefore, the reason taking refuge in a guru is mentioned at the very beginning of the Dharma text is that without a guru to perform this puja, you cannot gain any wealth no matter how hard you might chant. The guru’s own good fortune, merits, causes, and conditions move the Black Water Jambhala to compassion; only then can he help sentient beings.”

Rinpoche picked a Buddha card up from the table and said, “Out there, it is very popular to buy Buddha cards and chant the mantras printed on their backs. This is how most people practice the Dharma. However, quite often, these mantras are incorrect; that is the case with this Buddha card.

“Performing a Jambhala puja hinges on one’s bodhicitta. This means that if the presiding guru has not aspired to bodhicitta, he will not be attuned to the yidam, and it won’t work. Ever since I started performing Jambhala Pujas, not a single one of my disciples has starved to death, because I use every cent they give and make it count as though it were a hundred thousand dollars; as such, they cannot starve. In other words, do not assume that my helping you today means you will someday get rich. As I said earlier, the point of today’s puja is to replenish for you a bit of the wealth that originally was your due. Secondly, if you have already used up all your good fortune and have no money, this puja will give you some wealth so that you can survive and not die in poverty, a type of suffering. Why do people become destitute? This happens because through lifetime after lifetime, they have been too stingy to give alms and make offerings. Those who do give alms and make offerings, but later regret it, also become poverty-stricken. Why was the happiest time of my life back when I was so poor that I could not afford anything to eat? It was because I was resolving all of the evil causes from past lives of not being generous. You, on the other hand, are all very worried about not being able to afford to pay your mortgage or your credit card bills. You worry about this and that, but I have never worried about anything. If I had not once been poor, then I would not be qualified to talk to you about this. None of you present has experienced being so poor you could not even buy your next meal, so why are you always saying you are broke? It’s because you like to curse, ‘Oh, no! I don’t have any money! I’m saving it for a rainy day!’

“To give an example, some of your family members are opposed to your practicing Buddhism here because they are afraid you will give me all your money. Since when has that ever happened? Some people have houses, some have cars, and some have savings in the bank, but there are of course some people with none of those things. Has all that wealth gone to me? No! Another example is that I have saved Disciple Huang’s life—but did he give me all his money? No! He still has the vast majority of it, because he is worried his wife won’t take care of him. Therefore, life is very hard for a guru. This is why Shakyamuni Buddha said that practitioners are beggars, picking up others’ leftover scraps. Of course, I accumulated some good fortune in my past lives, which is why wealth appears for me very naturally. However, I still have to work hard for it; I don’t get it for free.

“Your concept of wealth should be that it is used to nurture your physical body. However, that does not mean that if you are frugal, you will accumulate more wealth. These days the banks have set interest rates at just over 1%, so how will saving your money make you rich? You won’t even keep up with inflation! Some of you might say, ‘So you’re saying I should give all my money to you.’ I did not say that, so do not slander me! I am just telling you that I cultivate differently from you; even when I was too broke to buy food, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas still had flowers and incense placed in front of them. Back then I, too, could have complained to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas that I was about to starve to death, and begged them to give me food, promising to make offerings to them of what was left over. However, I did not do that. You are unable to follow my example.

“Some people think this is superstition. I am not superstitious; I believe in cause and effect. Of all the Chinese peoples all over the world, only the Taiwanese have the saying, ‘See to your belly first, and then look after the Buddha.’ When I first came to Taiwan and heard this expression, I thought it was hilarious; I wondered who in the world would be so selfish. Whenever you have a problem, you turn to the Buddha for help; once you’ve gotten what you wanted, you take care of yourself before taking care of the Buddha. Does the Buddha need you to look after Him? That expression illustrates your selfish, self-serving attitude; such a mindset will bring a great many afflictions down upon you.

“Prior to the New Year, Taiwan saw a great many homicices, and they were quite frightening. Therefore, 2019 might seem like a very good year, but a lot of unseen turbulence is at work beneath the surface. If you do not devote yourselves to doing good, and continue to give yourselves many afflictions while hoping to reap a bit more profit, then problems will arise, and things will not go very smoothly this year. Some might say, ‘Rinpoche, you frighten us every year.’ I am not trying to frighten you; this is just how greedy everyone in the world is. This year, if people all pull together to do good, and work hard to amend their ways, then even if disasters occur, they will not be as terrible.

“Some of your family members might urge you to be cautious, and only believe without growing superstitious, because they are concerned that all your money might go missing. It is very strange how everyone worries about that. This is why Dharma Protector Achi sent me to you; none of you has ever felt what it is like to be penniless, but I have! No one can beat me in a debate, because I have been there. I once spent a summer too broke to pay my electricity bill, so I couldn’t turn on my electric fan—yet I still performed my grand prostrations just the same. That is so different from you, who only make prostrations as long as the air conditioner works, and stop as soon as you break a sweat. You give a heap of excuses, which is why you are stuck where you are.

“I performed the Black Water Jambhala for you today because in the past year, you have made offerings to the Buddhist Center, to me, and to the new temple, so I hope you can continue to do so this year. If you were unwilling to give offerings last year, then you’ll be the same this year. You are sure to ask, ‘Why does Rinpoche insist on punishing me and not letting me make offerings?’ I wouldn’t dare to accept your money; you are constantly making up excuses, so why would I want it? Therefore, what is meant by being forbidden to make offerings? It means not being granted opportunities to do good deeds. Thus, those who have been waiting for the right time to make offerings in support of the temple will not be granted permission no matter how hard they come to implore me for a second chance. My words are set in stone, and I will not take them back. Back when I first announced that I was going to build a temple, you hesitated, stalled, and gauged in your support, saying, ‘It is no big deal; I’ll just take my time and see what happens.’ So, I followed the Buddha’s teaching to be strict and uncompromising—not granting permission to those disciples who procrastinated in doing good deeds.

“I keep exhorting that disciple of mine who is a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine, but he refuses to listen, so I refuse to give him opportunities to do good deeds. I do not let him write prescriptions for me, thus not giving him a chance to serve his guru, because this person is extremely stingy. To this day he still won’t listen, so I’ve been toying with him. I am an old man in my seventies, messing with a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine. After a year of this, he verified that I am healthier than I was last year. Don’t try to contend with me, I beg you; no matter what cards you might have up your sleeves, you cannot get the better of me. Mainland China’s biggest television network invited me to appear on TV, but I wouldn’t go. What sort of person do you take me for? Weird; inhuman. Therefore, you think about me from a human perspective, so you really cannot fathom me. I am seventy-two years old, which is quite a feat, so last year I gave myself a new nickname—‘master of suffering’—because I have concentrated all suffering onto myself so that you can see that it can be dealt with and transformed. Why are you unable to transform it? Why can’t you be cured of an illness you’ve had for decades? It is precisely because you do not listen! You think that as long as you are a good person, everything will be fine. Buddhism’s definition of a good person is quite profound; there is not enough time to explain it today.

“Regardless of whether you decide to take refuge or not, performing the Thirty-five Buddhas Repentance Ritual for you on Lunar New Year’s Day will allow you to form a connection with the Thirty-five Buddhas. Actually, this might seem like a very simple ritual for you to observe, but we did a great many preparations. The mandala was set up in a completely different manner, because every Buddha requires a unique offering. When I was performing the Black Water Jambhala Ritual, you thought you saw me just pouring water. You were wrong; it was my good fortune, flowing out as an offering to the Black Water Jambhala. He would only begin to help if he were happy; despite what you might imagine, simply pouring some water is not enough to make him so. If you don’t believe me, try pouring some water. You can empty an entire reservoir and it still won’t work. The text contains a lot of visualizations; these are all Tantra at the level of Toga Tantra, not quite the level of Anuttarayoga. Many people ask me why I won’t transmit the Jambhala Puja. It is because you do not have the courage to practice it; you have not cultivated enough compassion or aspired to bodhicitta, so you really would fail. Because Jambhalas are Eighth Ground Bodhisattvas, who still think like humans, they would think you were full of nonsense and completely ignore you.

“Today is the first day of the Lunar New Year. I don’t know whether you have looked back at your behavior over the past year, but you should at least look at yourselves and ponder just how much understanding you have of Buddhism. You must stop being so arrogant, thinking yourselves cultivated or that you’ve attained realization from chanting because you are respectful or devoted; you place overly high expectations on yourselves, and people with no modesty cannot learn Buddhism. What does modesty mean? It does not mean being uncompetitive or inferior. The idea is that only if you are modest can your mind be empty, and only once it is empty can you see a lot of things. What does emptiness mean? It means being devoid of all those unnecessary, petty, and defiled thoughts; once they are gone, you can see clearly, which is prerequisite to refraining from wrongdoings. If you are not doing anything wrong, then you will naturally not run into any problems. Why can’t you see clearly? It is because your minds are packed full of egotistical thoughts: ‘I am right’; ‘I made a dedication to him, and I am always right.’

“What sort of dedication did we make just now while observing the Thirty-five Buddhas Repentance? We dedicated our all; not a single bit was left. Nor did we make the dedication to anyone in particular, such as a husband, wife, or child. You can only do that if you are a Rinpoche like me; I am only very slightly qualified and able to move a tiny bit of it around. However, being that you are not a Rinpoche, just be observant and listen. What should you listen to? You should listen to all of my teachings, and stop using your own methods from now on. As long as the Dharma still exists in this world, we humans still have hope; if it disappears, nothing will be able to save us. This is because humans are still so full of greed, hatred, and ignorance, and everyone is constantly fighting back and forth; this avaricious mind will cause this world to be destroyed.”

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Updated on April 28, 2019