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

At 2:00 in the afternoon, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche again ascended the Dharma throne to preside over the auspicious Amitayus Puja, and the Elephant Jambhala Puja.

“This afternoon I will perform the Amitayus. This Dharma text was transmitted by Ushnishavijaya Machig Drubpejema. The Amitayus is not practiced in Exoteric Buddhism; it is only practiced in Tantra. Amitayus is Amitabha’s Sambhogakaya. Many people do not understand what is meant by Sambhogakaya, Dharmakaya, and Nirmanakaya. Because sentient beings all have different root capacities, amounts of good fortune, and causal conditions, all the Buddhas manifest in these three bodies. They then use these as methods to appear to sentient beings and help them according to their individual causal conditions, good fortune, and root capacity. Why do they appear separately like this? To give a simple analogy, you would not look for a university professor to teach a class full of elementary students; you would find an elementary school teacher. Likewise, to teach undergraduate college students, you would not absolutely need to find a specialized professor of postgraduate studies. Strictly speaking, it has to do with one’s root capacity. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas emanate in various bodies to help you, depending on your root capacity.

“Nirmanakaya Buddhas and Bodhisattvas tend to be the ones to help people who have chanted the Buddha’s name, made prostrations to the Buddha, and cultivated in this lifetime, and who are also respectful and have taken refuge. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas emanate in the Nirmanakaya form to help such people. For example, all gurus are Nirmanakayas of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and we can say the same of all sutras and Buddha statues. Sambhogakaya Buddhas and Bodhisattvas help those practitioners who have been transmitted the Bodhisattva Precepts and are cultivating the Bodhisattva Path. Dharmakayas emanate to help and guide practitioners before they have attained Buddhahood. Therefore, people who frequently claim to see Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are seeing ghosts, because prior to attaining any fruition, actually seeing the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is impossible. The reason for this is that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are pure, which means they do not have any wandering thoughts or afflictions. People whose minds are full of wandering thoughts and afflictions cannot become attuned to the minds of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; as such, they cannot see them.

“What is the concept behind performing the Amitayus—the Amitabha’s Sambhogakaya? Because Amitabha is compassionate, he worries about the transgressions sentient beings have committed throughout their past lives, fearing that they will damage their longevity in this one, and therefore not have enough causal conditions and time to practice and then be reborn in the Pure Land. This is the reason we perform this puja. During the ritual I will explain how Amitayus helps us.

“Where does our longevity come from? It comes from having refrained from killing sentient beings and even safeguarded them in our past lives—protecting them and doing good deeds; this has allowed us to accumulate longevity in this lifetime. It can either increase or decrease. From my experience in cultivation, it seems that of all of our types of good fortune, the one that changes most easily is longevity. Many people think they can live until they are eighty, but that is not necessarily the case. On the other hand, I have seen a lot of people who look like they should live a very long time—those with earlobes that are extremely big, thick, and long—and who seem like they should make it at last to their eighties, but many end up dying in their fifties. I have seen some people who seem like they should die young end up living until they are in their seventies or eighties or longer. Take me, for example; based on my appearance, I should not have lived so long, but at seventy-two years of age I am still alive, because I am willing to be a ‘master of suffering’. Longevity increases or decreases due to one’s behavior. If you reduce your thoughts of greed, hatred, and disbelief in cause and effect, and even stop having any altogether, then the longevity from the good fortune you accumulated in your past lives will very naturally stop decreasing, and your life will even be prolonged. This can also happen if, in this lifetime, you aspire to bodhicitta and make a Bodhi vow to liberate and benefit vast numbers of sentient beings.

“For example, in 2007, I conducted a retreat high in the snowy mountains of Nepal. In the middle of one night in June, I realized with utter clarity that my heart and breathing had stopped. However, because I had always immersed myself in the Dharma, I had no fear of death nor of any attachments to this world; that was when Dharma Protector Achi appeared. I have told this story many times; today is Lunar New Year’s Day, so I’m telling it again. I simply said to Protector Achi, ‘If I am still of any use to the sentient beings of this world, then leave me in it; if not, then take me away.’ Protector Achi therefore bestowed upon me a nectar pill, and I woke up, and am still alive today. In the past, many fortunetellers had predicted that I would die when I was forty-six or forty-seven years old. For me to be able to live to the age of seventy-two is not a result of good luck, nor would I dare claim to have done much by way of good deeds. Since taking refuge in Buddhism at the age of thirty-six, all my thoughts and words have taken the Dharma as what in English would be called a ‘guideline’ to show me the way; this is what extended my longevity. My purpose in living longer is not to enjoy myself, nor is it to liberate a certain number of sentient beings; it is just that the Order has a lot of projects, and I might bring them to fruition and completion in this lifetime. It is also possible that there are many Dharma methods I can cultivate so that I might in this lifetime be able to help sentient beings.

“I am performing the Amitayus today in the hope that by way of Amitayus’s blessings, you will all be able to recover some of the longevity you have lost. ‘Recover’ does not mean earn; this longevity was originally yours, so I am helping you to restore what you have lost. Whenever we eat meat in this lifetime, it shortens our lifespan; the same is true whenever we hate others or commit other evil acts such as killing. The most important point of performing the Amitayus Puja is that it can prevent us from meeting an untimely death, which is defined as accidental death. As long as you have complete faith in your guru and the yidam, and have participated in today’s puja, you will have practically no chance of meeting an untimely death in this lifetime—unless, of course, you continue to commit acts of killing, eat meat, and do evil.

“This is why I am performing the Amitayus for you all on this first day of the Lunar New Year. After some of your longevity is restored, your health will naturally improve a little. For some of you, this will not happen, and there is nothing to be done about that; it is not my business, nor is it the Buddha’s. It is yours. You are sure to say, ‘In saying that, you’re just looking for excuses!’ I am not. If you do not get healthier, it is because you have not changed and are not in a repentant mindset. It is like what I mentioned before, about when I got cancer: Not once did I ever feel sorrow or anxiety over it, nor did I worry I would die or even tell His Holiness that I had cancer. I also did not perform pujas every day and dedicate them to my cancer cells so that they would peacefully coexist with me. I simply went on with like as normal, and as a result, my cancer went away. A lot of people would ask me enviously, ‘Why were you able to achieve that, while I cannot?’ Do not envy me; I was only able to achieve it because I am a master of suffering. You cannot, because you are unwilling to suffer; you only hope to avoid it. If that is the case, then where will those suffering sentient beings harmed by you go to collect the karmic debt you owe them? If you are willing to be masters of suffering, then a lot of things in your lives will naturally change for the better. This Amitayus Puja I am performing for you all today is an earth terma Tantra; it cannot be performed by just any guru or monastic.”

H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the auspicious Amitayus Ritual. Next, the ordained disciples offered the mandala to the guru and implored the Dharma on behalf of sentient beings. Rinpoche continued:

“This first part is performed by the presiding guru for himself and for his disciples. It involves our blood, flesh, body temperature, qi, consciousness, and so on; our longevity gets damaged, scattered, broken, twisted, fractured, shaken apart, stolen by demons, and so on. What causes these things to happen? They result from evil actions we have committed, which certainly do not stray from greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt. People who give rise to such things will certainly see their longevity scatter, break, twist, fracture, and be shaken apart. The usual omens include unexplainably falling ill, being in a foul mood, and feeling displeased with anyone they lay eyes on.

“How does your longevity get stolen by demons? If you are always praying to deities, demons, or ancestors to help you do things, especially if you are worshiping at places like shrines or using Taoist magic-drawers, it is the equivalent of trading with them, and they will usually take some of your longevity in return. Therefore, in this ritual, all our supplications should be to the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, gurus, yidams, Dakinis, and Dharma protectors to grant us blessings so that we sentient beings of the Six Realms will have longevity, fortune, wealth, life, health, power, and qi; the energy and essence of all these things will then be integrated into the substance of longevity. In a moment, you will be blessed.

“In Buddhism, it is said that a sentient being’s body is comprised of earth, wind, water, fire, and emptiness. ‘Earth’ refers to all our bones and flesh; ‘water’ refers to all our body’s liquids, including blood, internal secretions, fluids, etc.; ‘fire’ is energy; and ‘wind; is qi. There are two explanations for ‘emptiness’; one of them is well known to anyone familiar with Buddhism: Every part of the body arises and ceases according to causes and conditions. The other explanation of ‘emptiness’ is that as practitioners, we understand that our bodies are merely compilations of elements; they came together to form our physical forms.

“In simpler terms, our bodies were originally empty. Thus, in many aspects, science—medicine included—has a hard time explaining where ‘wind’ comes from; it is qi that moves within our bodies. Where does a person’s qi come from?” A disciple who had served as head of a department of Western medicine for decades reported, “According to Western medicine, qi is oxygen and carbon dioxide from breathing that get dissolved in the blood. As for the wind and qi to which Rinpoche referred just now, I am completely clueless.” The guru asked, “Why do people have qi?” The doctor-disciple replied, “It is because we breathe air from outside our bodies in through our noses.” Rinpoche asked, “After air is breathed in, why does it move within the body?” The disciple answered, “There is no mention of this in Western medicine.” The guru asked, “Without qi, can blood circulate?” The disciple replied, “Western medicine says that the blood circulates due to pressure caused by the beating of the heart.” Rinpoche said, “That’s right, but what does the heart use to make it beat?” The disciple answered, “The heart has a small cycle, known as coronary circulation, in which the blood causes the heart to beat.”

Rinpoche continued: “Exactly, but you have not been able to explain exactly what makes the heart beat or what causes the blood to flow. Your theory is based on the heart’s movement, but these days machines are used instead of the heart, yet the blood flows regardless. Thus, in actual fact, there are a lot of contradictions in medicine and science. We know we have qi; even if we hold our breath, our qi continues to flow. To reiterate, if you had no qi, you would not even be able to go number one or number two, right? Western doctors say that qi is produced by breathing air in, which means it comes from outside the body, not inside, right? If that were true, then how could something external that enters the body cause the body to move? When you were a tiny embryo in your mother’s womb, you received nutrition through the umbilical cord. Doctors all know that embryos don’t breathe through their nostrils, right?” The doctor-disciple replied, “Nutrients are brought to the embryo via the umbilical cord.”

Rinpoche said, “That’s right. So does the blood going into the embryo contain air? Inside the mother’s body is a vacuum, so there should not be any air!” The disciple answered, “According to Western medicine, an exchange occurs between the blood cells and the outside air.” The guru asked, “If the blood is just a bunch of cells, then how does it know to exchange with the air?” The disciple said, “I don’t know.” A disciple who was a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine explained, “According to Chinese medicine, qi as a concept refers to a manifestation of all of life’s phenomena; it can therefore carry and circulate our blood.” Rinpoche asked, “So where does qi come from?” The disciple replied, “Chinese medical theory says that it is given innately by one’s parents, and is also acquired by way of bodily fluids generated by the spleen and stomach transforming into qi.” The guru said, “According to your theories, this qi is certainly not a gas emerging from living entities; it is completely external. If that were the case, then we would certainly be able to continuously draw qi from outside of ourselves. By that logic, we should be able to bring someone back from the brink of death simply by giving him or her enough qi! Why do people stop breathing?” The disciple who was a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine answered, “From the perspective of traditional Chinese medicine, what we refer to as the cessation of breathing happens when the function of our vital organs fails, and this eventually leads to death.”

Rinpoche said, “The decline of our vital organs has nothing to do with qi either! Based on your theories, qi is given from external sources, so it should still be moving around within our blood vessels. Why is ‘qi’ used in Chinese words and expressions that describe anger? Do we say someone is ‘venting blood’ or ‘venting hot air’? The latter. Therefore, in Taoism, the existence of qi is recognized, but both traditional Chinese and Western medicine merely look at this existence from a phenomenological standpoint. Taoism acknowledges that qi is formless. If we go by traditional Chinese and Western medical theories, breathing in oxygen causes our hearts to beat and our blood to circulate, so all we need to do is to keep inhaling oxygen, like inflating tires. If that is true, then why do we still die? By that hypothesis, we shouldn’t. In traditional Chinese medicine, can’t one’s qi be bolstered by taking a lot of different herbs? Why, no matter how many herbal medications we take, do we still die and lose our qi?” The doctor of traditional Chinese medicine answered, “From a traditional Chinese medical point of view, it may be that such a person’s organs have failed to function to the point that they cannot absorb what those medicinal herbs are providing….”

Rinpoche said, “Thus, you still haven’t explained how this qi came about or was produced. Why does it exist? Why does it disappear? You can explain ‘blood’, because you can look at it through instruments, and you can explain ‘flesh’, too, but with ‘qi’, you draw a blank. Let’s expand our discussion to include energy. We call this the fire element, one of the four elements of earth, wind, water, and fire. Everyone knows that as soon as a person dies, the body goes ice-cold. Strangely enough, the deceased’s body still contains blood and nutrients; these have not all been used up. According to Chinese and Western medical theory, when we eat food, it turns into energy, which in turn becomes heat—the ‘fire’. It would therefore stand to reason that right after dying, a person’s body should not immediately lose its heat. Where does all that energy go? Where does the fire go? Western and Chinese doctors, here is a Lunar-New-Year’s-Day quiz for you!” The disciple who was a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine replied, “According to Chinese medicine, in the absence of any signs of life or any visible external phenomena, we would say….” Rinpoche asked, “Why does the fire go out?” The disciple who was a doctor of Western medicine sighed and said, “Well, Western medical theory states….” The guru said, “Please don’t sigh on the first day of the Lunar New Year, okay?” The disciple said, “It’s like a car’s movement; as soon as the power stops, the ignition stops, and the engine stops running. Those gas pockets also stop because nothing is functioning that can provide them with….”

Rinpoche said, “The question I keep asking is this: Why can qi and fire suddenly be extinguished? The view of traditional Chinese medicine is that because the organs have stopped functioning, the fire and qi cease to exist. So, if I were to target those organs and keep them functioning, would fire and qi not then be produced? According to the theories of Western medicine, energy and qi suddenly just disappear. Therefore, all the theories of so-called modern medicine and science are merely superficial; they seem to have the answers for us, but in actuality they do not.

“Thus, it is stated very clearly in Buddhism that the elements that make up people are earth, wind, water, and fire. These are all dependent on our good fortune, as is how much of their essences we can absorb into our bodies. Why did my health continue to improve despite not taking Chinese medicine for a year? It was because in Tantra, there is a way to continuously absorb the essences of earth, wind, water, and fire from the void. How is that done? Not by breathing in through the nose, nor by way of instruments. How, then? I won’t tell you, because it is Tantra. Actually, these elements exist freely in the void; they don’t belong to anyone. If you can cultivate so that your entire body become the same as the elements in the void, then you will be able to use and manipulate this earth, wind, water, and fire at will; you can have however much or however little of them that you want. It is not like what Chinese medicine says—that fire and qi disappear as soon as your organs stop functioning, nor is what Western medicine says true. To put it a bit more simply, earth, wind, water, and fire are the fundamental elements of our longevity; we have been in possession of them ever since we reincarnated in our mothers’ wombs, and if we use them all up in this lifetime, they will be gone. Therefore, ‘water’, whether you are male or female, is the essence given by your father and the blood given by your mother. These can maintain your physical body and produce ‘earth’ (bones and flesh). Fire and water came to you along with your karma when you reincarnated in the womb; once inside your body, those two elements remained there, and they continue to assist with physical movement. Once you have used up all of the longevity of your fire and water, this water will be gone.

“To put it more simply, why do you get old, your faces growing more and more wrinkled and your bodily organs failing? It is because your water element is constantly decreasing. Where does this element come from? It comes from your father’s essence and your mother’s blood. After a continual reduction of those two things, this life of yours begins to end. No matter how much medicine you take or how many sorts of treatment you undergo, you can only slow the reduction of your essence and blood; you cannot increase them. Therefore, with the help of Tantra, we can cause the earth, wind, water, and fire in the void and the essence of the Buddhas’ and Bodhisattvas’ four elements to grant us blessings, which can help us to restore some of our own. If you are disrespectful toward your guru, or don’t believe, then no matter how many rituals he performs, they won’t work for you. As your guru, I cultivate to possess more earth, water, wind, and fire, and then share these elements out to you; therefore, if you do not believe in me, they leave you. Why is that? They bounce back; I take them back from you. This is the reason I call myself the master of suffering. You all think you can get what you need simply by chanting mantras, but that is not true. I have done so many preliminary practices so that I would possess this sort of condition to perform this puja; otherwise, I could not possibly perform it, because I would still be in need of the Buddhas’ and Bodhisattvas’ blessings before I could bestow these things upon all sentient beings.

“Why is it written in the text that the benevolence of your guru is more important than your own parents? It is because they can only give birth to you once. With the Buddhas’ and Bodhisattvas’ blessings and the support of the Dharma protectors, your guru can create a new life for you. That does not mean you will recover your health or youthful vigor, but I can certainly help you to create a new life for the future. This is not something that just anyone can achieve, nor can it be done by way of mundane knowledge. You are bound to say, ‘Well, with your chanting back and forth and carrying on, how am I to know whether to believe you or not?’ I can answer that quite simply: I did not take any herbal medicine for a year, yet I am healthier now than I was the previous year. Right?” The disciple who was a doctor of Chinese medicine replied, “Rinpoche’s qi-channels are better harmonized and more robust than they were a year ago, so this verifies that despite not taking any medicine, Rinpoche’s health actually improved.” A little while ago, you said that qi and blood can be replenished from external sources. Why, then, did my qi grow more robust and my blood cell count increase without taking any medicinal herbs or supplements?” The disciple who was a doctor of Western medicine answered, “I cannot explain it.” Why did I stop visiting the doctor of Chinese medicine for a year? It was not that Chinese medicine is no good; the herbal medicines I import are of top quality. Rather, I wanted to prove to my doctor and others that doctors might be able to treat our illnesses, but they cannot give us more of anything. I am not trying to stop you from visiting doctors; I have a clinic, too. If you are sick, you must by all means see a doctor. However, if you wish to increase your four elements, you really can only do so via cultivation. The purpose of treatments is to slow down the root and spread of your illnesses so that they do not metastasize or worsen rapidly, thereby giving you more time to learn the Dharma.

“Everything I am telling you today is completely true and real. I have often said that if there were no evidence that Buddhism has had a positive effect on me, then you should not learn it. I can be quite a cheeky person; I can endure a whole year of butting heads with that doctor. A month would have proved nothing, but a year? Exactly what does it prove that I am healthier now at the age of seventy-two than I was at seventy-one? It proves that the Dharma supports and helps me, and at least minimally confirms that the path I am on, the direction in which I am cultivating, is correct, for I have in no way implored for longevity or anything else; I have simply continued to live in this manner. I do not often perform the Amitayus, either, other than when His Holiness is sick, or when you have issues. I never perform it for myself; the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have blessed me naturally. Therefore, if you have the wrong attitude toward your guru, you will receive different blessings. This is the reason I often say that in a puja with over a thousand participants, each person will obtain different things. It is not that I discriminate; I absolutely do not, and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas certainly do not, either! It is that you are discriminatory. It is you who are making choices, and each reaping unique consequences. The part of the ritual I performed a moment ago was to solidify myself; only after that could I perform the rest for you—but I had to perform that part myself.”

H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to perform the ritual. In the process, he conducted the Tsok and Tea Offerings, and each attendee received a share of offering items that had been blessed by the guru, as well as the rare and auspicious opportunity to dine with him, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas.

Then, Rinpoche instructed the attendees to sit up straight while he continued to perform the ritual. Next, he told the believers and disciples to line up and approach the mandala one by one with palms joined to pay homage and receive blessings. The guru also bestowed precious longevity pills and longevity wine on each of them. In all, Rinpoche blessed more than 1,400 attendees, and all the while was ringing a bell and chanting the Amitayus Mantra. At the same time, the guru used his gaze to bless everyone, and gave the elderly, frail, sick, and suffering a chance to approach the mandala themselves and pay their respects. His compassionate gaze was deep and boundless, bringing benevolence to all. Filled with sincere gratitude, all of the attendees joined their palms to receive the auspicious blessings.

Rinpoche said, “After receiving the blessings of Amitayus today, you must refrain from always being so angry, because anger will drain your mind. Why do people go insane? It is because their minds—the ‘mind’ part of ‘body, speech, and mind’—become exhausted, thus they gradually develop mental disorders. So, keep on getting angry at others and your guru, and you will prove that the Dharma is right.”

Without even pausing for a break, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche tirelessly continued to perform the Elephant Jambhala Puja, and expounded its auspiciousness.

“Next I will perform the White Mahakala Puja. The Elephant Jambhala is also worshiped in Hinduism, but in Tantra, his background is explained differently. According to this tradition, in his previous lifetime, he was a very wealthy prince who enjoyed giving alms very much. He gave to anyone who supplicated to him, without asking what the money was to be used for. As a result, he unintentionally enabled a lot of wicked people to do vicious things. Mahakala (the ‘Great Black Dharma Protector’) saw that if this continued, not only would it do harm to the prince, but to other sentient beings as well; he therefore ended the prince’s life. After that, because the prince still had quite a large amount of good fortune, Mahakala transformed the prince’s head into that of an elephant, for elephants have boundless strength. It signified that this Elephant Jambhala could continuously benefit sentient beings. The moral of the story is that alms and offerings should only be given in accordance with the Dharma; not every plea to give alms or make offerings is granted. This is because it is written in the sutras that people who try to curry favor with everyone will fall into the Hell Realm, too. In other words, if you do not ask the person to whom you plan on giving alms what the money will be used for, then something bad could happen, in spite of your generosity. For example, if you lent money to someone who used it to open up a restaurant that serves meat or a clinic in which abortions are performed, then in both situations, you would be creating evil karma. This is true for a disciple of mine as well. He once invested in aquaculture, and also in someone’s Cantonese-style barbecue shop; both of these ventures created evil karma. Thus, it is very important that we understand what our alms and offerings are to be used for before giving any.

“The White Mahakala is Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s Dharma protector. There are two Mahakalas: The Black Mahakala, also known as the Great Black Dharma Protector, and the White Mahakala. The Elephant Jambhala is one of the White Mahakala’s retinue. Therefore, if you have not achieved attainment in the Avalokiteshvara Dharma method, you also will not be able to perform this Jambhala Puja. When all is said and done, compassion is everything. If you have not cultivated it, you cannot become attuned to any Dharma.

H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the auspicious Elephant Jambhala Ritual, and then said,

“This Dharma text was transmitted to me directly by Yunga Rinpoche, a Mahasiddha of the Drikung Kagyu Order who is no longer with us. He spent his later years cultivating in a cave in Tibet, high in the Himalaya Mountains near the Indian border. I saw him three times, but by then he had stopped receiving most visitors. Furthermore, those he did see would usually get scolded by him, even if they were Rinpoches. Apparently, it was seldom that he didn’t reprimand his visitors. I was the only one who never got scolded, and he always spoke with me for a very long time. He also went out of his way to transmit some of the more secret Dharma texts to me.”

In his compassion, Rinpoche instructed the attendees to pray to the Elephant Jambhala.

“As I have said before, after performing the Elephant Jambhala, none of our Buddhist Center’s disciples will starve to death—I have never heard of this happening before—because I perform this puja every Lunar New Year’s Day. This puja is especially expensive, because it involves burning agarwood incense as offerings. How much did this year’s incense cost?” Someone answered, “NT$500,000.” Rinpoche said, “NT$500,000 for only this much? So, as you can see, the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center operates on quite a grand scale; most Buddhist centers could not afford to hold this puja. For this reason, you disciples may implore the Elephant Jambhala without shame, because you are the ones who footed the bill. Why do we use agarwood incense? It is because this is what is instructed in the Dharma text; I have no control over it. Why do we use half a million’s worth? It was not I who set the price; these days authentic agarwood incense has gotten more and more expensive, and is almost impossible to procure. Who knows? In a few decades it might no longer be possible to perform this puja, because there will not be any more agarwood incense. In the Age of Dharma Decline, more and more pujas are becoming impossibly to perform—not because there are no gurus willing to perform them, but because the karma of sentient beings has caused a lot of treasures and quality items to disappear. Nowadays people buy agarwood incense to make a profit, not to make offerings to the Buddha or the yidam. As a result, it is getting more and more expensive to perform pujas, but there is nothing we can do about that, either.

“This also means that it is rather difficult to receive transmission of the Elephant Jambhala. Had I not possessed the proper causal conditions, Yunga Rinpoche would never have transmitted it to me. He knew that so many people in Taiwan just want to make a buck. In Tibet, people want more longevity, but Taiwanese hope for money and think they are lost without it. This was why he transmitted the Elephant Jambhala Dharma to me; it was so that I could satisfy your cravings a bit. I imagine you would therefore consider it fair and worthwhile that today, on Lunar New Year’s Day, I performed two pujas in the morning for you, and am performing another two this afternoon.” (All of the attendees said, in unison, “Thank you, Rinpoche!”) “No thanks are necessary; if you thank me again, I’ll turn into the master of suffering again. I always perform these pujas for you, every year.”

H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the attendees in the Dharma Protector Achi Ritual and dedication prayer, and then continued to bestow teachings.

“Here it is written, ‘The Elephant Jambhala was once liberated and guided by Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’. This was because he originally descended from the Heaven Realm. In other words, if you fail to cultivate the Avalokiteshvara Dharma method and compassion, then nothing else you try to practice will do you any good. Compassion has nothing to do with education, academic knowledge, being a good person, or one’s moral principles. ‘Compassion’ means taking something good of yours and exchanging it for the suffering of sentient beings. This is the reason I am the master of suffering. True ‘compassion’ means having the ability to help sentient beings to leave reincarnation’s sea of suffering behind and be reborn in the Buddha Lands. To have compassion, you must also possess Emptiness. What is Emptiness? It means understanding the law of cause and condition, as well as the principle that all phenomena arise from conditions and are Empty in nature. Only then can you freely put your compassion to use.

“‘The Elephant Jambhala vowed to abide by these teachings’—What does this line mean? It refers to all of the Dharma methods and precepts Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara had transmitted. Avalokiteshvara universally liberates sentient beings. That does not mean he gives people whatever they ask for. ‘Universally’ means he does not discriminate; he helps sentient beings irrespective of their religion, race, language, education, influence, position, gender, and which of the Six Realms they are in. As long as you have the causal condition to implore Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara for help, and act in accordance with the Dharma, then he will definitely help you. Therefore, ‘universally’ here does not mean common or ordinary. Also, the Elephant Jambhala once vowed in front of Padmasambhava that all his activities would be to the benefit of sentient beings, so he also helps those in poverty and hardship. The Elephant Jambhala is in the Black Mahakala’s retinue, and is also worshiped in Hinduism. In India, the Jambhala Puja originally had three lineages, one of which we are performing today. Therefore, the Amitayus Puja we performed today has replenished your deficits in earth, wind, water, and fire, though it will of course not restore those completely. Why not? It is because you are not benefiting sentient beings. Therefore, only some will be restored to you, just to make you healthier and able to continue chanting the Buddha’s name and worship the Buddha.

“Just now, you were all given a red pill and some nectar water. What do you think these are? I was not originally going to talk about it today, but I’ll touch on it briefly. White represents white bindu, which is what you call ‘essence’. Red, the color of those pills, represents the essence of blood. Where do these come from? The fact is that the presiding guru moves the yidam into blessing him, and then both elements flow from him onto the pills and nectar water. This means that not just anyone is qualified to be a guru. This is no laughing matter; with my blood and essence going out of me, I should have become more and more shriveled up; after performing pujas all the time, my face should be completely wrinkled. Thus, right now you are eating and drinking of my essence and blood, yet you still have the nerve to complain and not listen. I’m sure you would ask if such a small pill and tiny amount of nectar water could contain all that. Well, it does. When your parents were giving birth to you, you were only given tiny amounts, too, yet it was enough to make you into the large person you are today. No matter what you say, this pill and this nectar water contain more than that drop of blood from your mother and those little sperm from your father.

“So why is it written so frequently in the Dharma text that you should be grateful for your guru’s benevolence? It is not to coerce you. If you cannot even keep your guru’s benevolence in mind, and are still thinking only about yourselves, feeling wronged, and so on, then how can you learn Tantra? How can you be qualified to? For those attendees who have not taken refuge, I would not go so far as to say you owe me, but as a guru, I have at least granted you a good causal condition, so you should at least give rise to some virtuous thoughts. Who among you is willing to let go of your possessions? Apart from the tiny bit of bone or blood you are willing to donate to your own family members, such as your children or parents, what are you willing to give? You are not willing to give anything at all. This here today is not blood; it is the essence of blood, and the essence of sperm. This is why we call them red bindu and white bindu. Thus, if you think that consuming these while saying a prayer will bring you protection and blessings, you are wrong. If, after taking the red pill and drinking the nectar water, you decide to practice together with your guru, then you will see results. ‘Together with’ does not mean following me; it means being of the same mind.

“It’s like what His Holiness once said in India: ‘From now on, I and my disciple will be of the same mind in devotion to all of our Buddhist activities.’ The two of us are not constantly together every day; he does his thing, and I do mine. However, we are both constantly putting forth our efforts for the sake of Buddhism and the Order. His Holiness is two years older than I; between us, we have been around for nearly 150 years, yet we still haven’t retired. I was originally going to, but His Holiness wouldn’t let me. Now I understand; if he still hasn’t retired, then how can I? He knows that I am a disciple who listens, so he is holding me accountable. If the Order has a few Rinpoches who constantly promote the Dharma to benefit sentient beings, then the Order will naturally flourish; if all of its members are in it only for themselves, then it will wither.

“This is why I have performed four pujas today, on Lunar New Year’s Day. In Tibet, these four used to normally be performed over a period of four days, but you are busy with this and that, and you would only come when you had some free time. If I didn’t give you tomorrow off, then a lot of your family members would complain, ‘You devote so much to Buddhism that you’re abandoning your family, your parents, and everything else.’ In fact, in the end, we will have to abandon everything anyway. Thus, my purpose in performing these four pujas today was none other than to repay my debt to you, so that I don’t owe you anymore; that will make a lot of you very happy. There will not be a puja held this Sunday, because I am tired out from having given too much. This Sunday there will only be morning and evening prayers; you may all take a break. You’re being given a day off, and the Bodhisattvas and your guru will take a day off, too. Everyone gets a vacation. How good is that?

“I hope everything will go smoothly for you this year. By that, I do not mean I hope you get whatever your heart desires; I mean I hope you find relief from any suffering and hardship. Even if your longevity comes to an end this year, you have me as your guru, which means I can save you from falling into the Three Evil Realms. This human life of ours is over after just a few short decades. No matter how old we are this year, we should contemplate in earnest just where we will go after this lifetime ends, as is written in the sutras. While doing so, how should we face this process? Once your time comes, don’t just say, ‘My doctor will help me’; I have quite a few disciples who are doctors, so I can go ahead and ask them now: If a person is about to die, can you save his or her life?” A disciple who was a doctor of Western medicine answered, “No; we can’t.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, “Why are you whispering so quietly?” He answered, “Because after witnessing the suffering of birth, old age, sickness, and death for so many years, I realize that when it is time for people to die, they are gone; there is not time to do anything to stop it from happening.” A disciple who was a doctor of Chinese medicine said, “I have no way of keeping someone from dying. In Chinese medicine, when faced with a patient on his or her deathbed, nothing can be done.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued: “Buddhism cannot do anything to prevent your death, either. However, it has good ways to alleviate your suffering while you are dying, including both physical and mental suffering. The Dharma can allow you to make arrangements for where you want to go in the future, and this is something that academia and science cannot achieve. You’re likely to complain that I’ve spent the first day of the Lunar New Year speaking on some ominous subjects, and that what you really want is peace, wealth, a good education for your daughter, and protection for her while she is abroad. Well then, take refuge in me! I will protect and bless her. If you do not, then I can merely grant a few blessings, because I cannot possibly look after so many people. A lot of you think the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will take care of you. As I often say, if they are so compassionate, then there shouldn’t be so many accidental deaths, murders, and so on in this world. Am I right? So why are there? It is not that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are not compassionate; it is because people lack affinities and refuse to listen.

“I must be quite eccentric to be speaking about such things you don’t want to hear even though it’s Lunar New Year’s Day. Having listened to what I’ve said, if you start to think about these matters this year, you will find that a lot of things you used to worry about are actually no big deal. If you can contemplate even such serious matters as these, then are you likely to take to heart all those little mundane affairs or whatever words someone might say about you? Will you not be able to get over them? In performing the pujas for you all today, I have made you repent and increased your longevity, thereby satisfying your desires. You therefore really must live your lives this year in accordance with the Dharma; do not let yourselves grow lax even the tiniest bit. The moment you slacken off, all your karma from past lives will manifest and cause you to make bad decisions and do the wrong thing.

“I have no more qi. How can I replenish it? You doctors of traditional Chinese and Western medicine both said I could get it back just by breathing. So what should I do?” The doctor of Western medicine said, “We have worked you so hard, Rinpoche. Please, have a rest.” The guru said, “That’s not what I asked. Didn’t you say a little while ago that qi can be replenished by breathing in air? Well, right now, I am out of qi, yet I am breathing; why, then, do I feel that I don’t have as much qi as before? I’ll explain it for you: I have been in constant motion, consuming my oxygen, so if I take a few deep breaths, I should immediately recover from being so exhausted, and my qi should be completely replenished, shouldn’t it? Thus, science gives a lot of specious explanations. I am not arguing for the sake of arguing; this really is the case.

“Today you have all been given quite a lot. I hope that because of this, you will work hard to reflect upon your actions, and that sentient beings can benefit from that. If you do not, then you cannot possibly benefit them. Once you have engaged in self-reflection, you will stop committing any wrongdoings; only then will you be able to help sentient beings. Okay, that’s all; Happy New Year.”

The attendees all thanked Rinpoche and wished him a happy New Year. The guru replied, “I am a master of suffering.”

Upon the perfect completion of the puja, the attendees expressed their gratitude in unison for His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious performance of the pujas and teachings. Rising to their feet, they paid great homage as the guru descended the Dharma throne, all wishing him a happy New Year.

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Updated on April 28, 2019