His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – March 31, 2019

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne and expounded the ‘Scroll 82, “Elder Ugra Assembly” (Chapter 19)’ of the Ratnakuta Sutra.

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, “Last week, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang instructed that if I go to Hungary to promote the Dharma, I must be sure to expound the Ratnakuta Sutra, and especially this section about Shravasti. This was the third time His Holiness asked me to expound this sutra for the Hungarian believers. Had he not looked at my website, he would not have known I was expounding the Ratnakuta Sutra, and if I had said anything wrong about it, he would not be repeatedly telling me to teach about it in Hungary. This sutra comprises the fundamental principles of all of Lord Jigten Sumgon’s teachings, and he once said that the Dharmas he expounded were 1) not apart from what was taught by the Buddha, 2) not apart from what his guru had taught, and 3) not apart from what Lord Jigten Sumgon himself had experienced through cultivation after having heeded the teachings of his guru and the Buddha.

“As I have said before, in this lifetime, I have not learned Buddhism from studying the sutras and theories. What do I mean by ‘studying the sutras and theories’? It involves reciting the sutras and learning a great many terms, and then teaching them to others. By ‘terms’, I mean Buddhist terms. Knowing lots of terms can make people look erudite when it comes to Buddhism and its principles. The most important part of Buddhism, however, is practice; you might listen and contemplate what you have been taught, but if you do not put it into practice, then it won’t do you any good, because you will not know how to help yourself and benefit sentient beings with the Dharmas you have learned. I learned Buddhism differently from how many other people do; I began with genuine cultivation. Once I reached a certain state, the same as that which is described in the sutras, I then knew that I had not gone off course in my cultivation. Coupled with His Holiness’s confirmation, it became clear to me that I was on the right track.

“To this day, I am still learning and practicing the Dharma. The precepts contain a very important line: ‘Do not make false speech’. That does not refer to deception; deception is lying. The most important thing for a practitioner to do is to refrain from making false speech. This means admitting when you do not understand, rather than pretending that you do or trying to guess your way through. If you are just guessing, you are breaking the precepts. Last week an ordained disciple answered me with the words, ‘Three points’ could refer to body, speech, and mind.’ This indicated that she had broken the precepts.

Rinpoche scolded this disciple: “I asked deliberately, to see whether or not you had gotten rid of your arrogance. Whenever I don’t understand something, even I say I don’t understand. What makes you feel like you can claim to understand? If you continue to be self-righteous, you will never be able to learn Buddhism.

“Last time I told one of the monastics to go and look up the definition of ‘three points’. So what are they?” One of the monastics reported, “‘The three points are also known as ‘the three classes’ or ‘the three groups’, which refer to repentance, rejoicing, and supplication.” Rinpoche said, “Since the beginning, I have always said to you that until I attain Buddhahood, I will repent continuously. This is because practitioners of the Bodhisattva Path are different from ordinary people. Ordinary people only repent so that they improve their lot in life, and only practice Buddhism to get healthier; they think taking refuge will help them find a cure for their illnesses, and that repenting will make everything better. Why do practitioners of the Bodhisattva Path constantly repent? Any day I spend prior to attaining Buddhahood is a day I have not truly helped sentient beings. In other words, if I have not yet mastered the Dharmas taught to me by the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, and my guru, then I must repent. Why is that? It is because I do not yet have sufficient good fortune, merits, causes, and conditions. Only by continuously accumulating good fortune through repentance in this lifetime can we benefit ourselves and others, though we do not do this in order to live in comfort. All of my disciples repent in the hope that doing so will keep them from falling into the Three Evil Realms. Of course, that sort of repentance is a bit better than none at all, but it is not the same as the repentance practiced by people who are on the Bodhisattva Path.

“Rejoicing—ever since you have known me, I have never stopped praising the merits of His Holiness and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; this is what it means to rejoice. What about you? You always feel a need to prove how remarkable you are.”

Rinpoche turned to an ordained disciple and said, “This is why you so bravely stated that ‘three points’ might refer to body, speech, and mind.’ You said it because you think the world of yourself. As I have said many times, Ksitigarbha is a Dharmakaya Bodhisattva, and in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, he said, ‘My ability to benefit vast numbers of sentient beings derives from the blessings and support I have received from the Buddhas.’ What makes you think you can do it all by yourself? If you think you are ready to go out and liberate sentient beings simply because you have graduated from a Buddhist college, then it means you have neither repented nor learned to rejoice; how, then, can you possess enough good fortune?

“Why should you practice supplication? This is mentioned in every Tantric text. You should sincerely supplicate to the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, and your guru to bless you so that you have perfect merits with which to benefit vast numbers of sentient beings by helping them to attain Buddhahood as soon as possible. Whether you yourself attain Buddhahood is not important. Have you practiced supplication so that the Dharma has an eternal presence in the world? The ordinary ones among you hope for better health so that you can be safe and sound. Somewhat better are those who pray not to fall into the Three Evil Realms, and a bit better still are those who wish to be reborn in the Pure Land. If they stop there, though, they are not cultivating the Bodhisattva Path.

“I might not know this term, ‘the three points’, but I am constantly implementing it in my practice. Therefore, whether or not you know a lot of Buddhist terminology is not all that important. As long as you have a good enough root capacity, and have accumulated sufficient virtuous causal conditions in your past lives, then you will naturally cultivate what is taught by these terms. No one instructed me to repent continuously, yet I do. So many people think that simply having offered repentance will be of use to them, but they do not understand that if they are not repenting constantly, then resolving their negative karma from past lives will not be so simple. How could you so easily resolve all of the karma from the negative acts you have continuously committed in this lifetime? If I ask even just a few questions of you—and this includes you monastics—I find you have broken the precepts. It is very easy to break the precepts, and if you do not have a guru to supervise you, you will do it all the time.

“Yesterday, Saturday, while I was holding audience for believers, one of my ordained disciples had written down a heap of terms related to the Ratnakuta Sutra and gave them to me. He meant well; he had been worried that my ignorance of certain terms might make me look bad. If I don’t know something, though, I don’t know it; how does that make me look bad? I am a person who does not care what others think of me. I did not originally plan to talk about this, but this copy of A Practical Buddhist Dictionary I hold in my hand was the first book my Exoteric Dharma master gave me. Who among you has one? It was published in 1986, but I have never read it. Why not? It is because understanding Buddhist terms is not the same as practicing.”

Rinpoche berated that ordained disciple: “You thought your intentions were good, but you were actually trying to teach me a lesson. Which has more terms in it—this huge dictionary of mine, or that list you wrote for me? I got this dictionary when I was thirty-five years old, when I took refuge in Exoteric Buddhism. You have no idea of your guru’s abilities, and you have a very high opinion of yourself. You are my disciple, so what makes you feel you can teach me? No wonder your health does not improve no matter how much you chant; you are haughty and arrogant, and you want to look good. Have you read the entire dictionary? Nonsense. Can you possibly fathom my capabilities?

“This was the first book I was given after taking refuge in Exoteric Buddhism. My Dharma master did not tell me to recite any specific sutras; he just went ahead and gave me this copy of A Practical Buddhist Dictionary, which indicated his assurance that in the future I would be someone able to speak the Dharma. After being a monastic for so long, has anyone ever given you a copy? You still have to get on the web and take your time searching for terms. These days the internet is way too convenient, and it has made you all even more arrogant. Is something necessarily correct just because it has been posted on a webpage? Amateurs. A Practical Buddhist Dictionary took a long time to compile, and was finally published in the Mainland in 1923. It was certified by many of the Mainland’s great Buddhist teachers. Now it is out of print.” One of the monastics present, who had been ordained for several decades, reported that he had never seen this dictionary before.

Rinpoche said, “If you do this sort of thing again, I’ll kick you out. You have taken refuge in your guru, yet you don’t know how I cultivate; you worry about my losing face, so you wrote down a bunch of terms for me to refer to. Am I incapable of looking them up myself? As I’ve told you all countless times, I do not make any preparations before expounding the sutras; I just open them up and start speaking. If I don’t understand anything, I tell you so. “Fishing for compliments” describes you perfectly. Does being able to rattle off a bunch of Buddhist terms mean you are adept at cultivation? If you’re so great, then let me see you transfer someone’s consciousness.

“You have a background in Exoteric Buddhism. Let me tell you about something you’ve always dreamed of. When I took refuge, I was just a novice lay practitioner, but already my master had had me do one thing: Read the Avatamsaka Sutra three times. I jumped all the way forward to that particular sutra, whereas you all have to begin with practicing repentance rituals. Has your master told you to read the Avatamsaka Sutra? Why not? Because that sutra contains Tantric teachings. Am I right?” An ordained disciple replied, “Indeed.”

“Raise your hand if you have ever heard of Elder Yin Shun.” (Many people raised their hands.) “After Elder Yin Shun recovered from the first time he fell and hit his head in the bathroom, my Dharma master took me and a few other lay and ordained disciples to see him. Elder Yin Shun only spoke to me and my Dharma master, no one else. He said to me, ‘You should read the Great Prajna Sutra. ’ What sutra is that?” An ordained disciple answered, “It has six hundred scrolls. It teaches of Emptiness, and says that Emptiness is itself Empty.” Rinpoche continued: “Elder Yin Shun saw that I was a practitioner who could realize Emptiness. Have you read the Great Prajna Sutra? Has anyone ever told you to read it? If not, then why do you keep bragging that you have studied at a Buddhist college? You may have heard of Elder Yin Shun, but have you ever met him? I have, and I didn’t even ask to. I have what it takes; you do not. Why am I scolding you today? It is because you are arrogant and think you only need to put in a little effort to achieve great accomplishments. The more I expound the Ratnakuta Sutra, the more you will realize how little you have applied its teachings.

“Recently, a certain Disciple Zhang passed away.” Rinpoche instructed the eight disciples, who had gone to the hospital that day and witnessed the changes in the deceased both before and after he had performed the Dharma for her, to step forward and take turns describing what they had seen.

One of the disciples reported, “Immediately after Disciple Zhang passed away, her eyes and mouth were wide open, her face was slightly stiff, and she had a yellowish complexion. She looked terrible. As she breathed in for the last time, her face was pinched in a rather savage expression, as though she desperately wanted to take one more breath. At 1:35 p.m., she died, so we began to chant mantras. At about 4:00 p.m., I heard her daughter say Rinpoche had already protected her consciousness. After he was finished, we felt her crown chakra; it was warm to the touch, despite how icy cold her forehead was. Her eyes had narrowed to slits, and her mouth had closed; most importantly, she wore a very peaceful expression. She looked beautiful, and seemed to be smiling.”

Rinpoche said, “Why should we tell this story today? Our Buddhist Center often sees people pass away. This disciple who left us had taken refuge in me for fifteen years; in the end, she died from lung cancer. Before she died, she had sought an audience with me, during which I rebuked, ‘After taking refuge in me for more than a decade, you have messed up your life terribly, yet you have the nerve to come and see me. It is obvious that over the years, you have not listened to the Dharma, and you harbor a great deal of hatred in your heart.’ Her own daughters had no idea that their mother was constantly hating this and that. She had neither listened to nor put to use any of the Dharmas I had taught. Never mind that; when she came to me seeking help, after I scolded her briefly, she just left without remembering to make an offering. Nonetheless, after she passed away, I was very concerned that her family had no money, so I took the initiative to tell her two children that if they could not cover the funeral costs, I would lend a hand.

“Originally, this disciple was not qualified to be liberated by me because, one, she had not shown respect to the Three Jewels; two, she had not made offerings or given alms; and three, she had not believed in cause and effect. According to the law of cause and effect, she should at least have fallen down to the Animal Realm. She had been extremely frugal, saving up more than NT$800,000 for fear that she would not be able to afford to move house or leave her children any money after she died. It never occurred to her that the funeral home that ended up taking care of her would be 40-50% cheaper than anywhere else because of the many favors I had done for that funeral home over the years. I was the one who helped her save all that money; she thought she had earned it—but that’s not important. Why did I perform the Dharma for her, despite the fact that she had not made an offering? I was not going to mention why, but I’ll be looking after her two daughters from now on, so I can say it in public. I did it because I knew full well that if I did not, then her two daughters would be very sad. In the future, both of them will continue learning Buddhism from me, so I helped their mother for the daughters’ sake and because of their sense of filial piety. This is why I often say that the most genuine way to show filial piety toward one’s parents is to practice Buddhism. I only liberated this disciple because her daughters’ filial piety moved me, and it moved Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara as well. I was in Japan at the time, at least two thousand kilometers away from Taiwan, so how did I perform the Dharma for her? You have no idea.

“Why did I call this group of people up here? Because you do not believe what I say, so maybe you’ll believe me after hearing from some eyewitnesses. The funeral home employees came to take a look at the deceased when she died, and after I performed the Dharma, they came to see her again. That second time they discovered that the deceased’s body was different, and said the changes must have been caused by my performance of the Dharma. I can liberate anyone who has died; people who work in funeral homes all know of my prowess—yet you disciples actually dare to write down notes to teach me! From this it should be evident to you that my goal is not to make money. While still alive, she had not been willing to make offerings, so she had to suffer for a few hours on her deathbed. When she finally passed away, she was burdened with hindrances. She had practiced Buddhism for more than a decade while still having attachments, so she could not let go at her time of death.

“I have already taught and spoken to you at great length on the subject of how to die well. Why did she suffer such a difficult death? It was because she had not listened and did not believe. Why did she have such a horrible facial expression when she died? Why did she appear so rigid? It was because she was anxious; she was afraid; she had not believed in her guru. Her disbelief had begun the day she took refuge, which she had done in the hope that it would make her home life better, cause everyone to treat her well, and allow her two daughters to grow up to be happy and healthy. These had been her life’s aspirations.

“From this case, you should be able to see quite clearly that the way one lives dictates how one dies. It was not that I was punishing her; I have no right to punish anyone—but I was qualified to liberate her. Had I been able to bless her in person when she died, perhaps her appearance would have changed, but I could not possibly send my hand flying all the way over there from Japan. To those of you who were present and clearly watched her draw her last breath, what did she look like? And what did she look like after I performed the Dharma? A bunch of them had been there, chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, but even after all that chanting, she still looked the same. Why? It is because they had not aspired to bodhicitta.

“Buddhism is not mythology. It can be verified; it can be seen. It’s just that this sort of thing is not common; so many falsehoods tend to be spread that completely distort the truth about the Dharma. In talking about so many things today, I am not trying to bolster your faith in me; I am seventy-two years old, and I don’t care whether you believe me or not. On the contrary, your faith in me would actually burden me further. Those two daughters kept on imploring me for help, so I gave in. I would not have been able to immediately liberate their mother, because she did not possess enough good fortune, but because I happened to be performing a puja in Japan at the time, I did it for her.

“Don’t gamble with me on your lives; don’t assume that when you die, I’ll liberate you. The causes and conditions required are very complicated. I am sure to die sooner than you; at seventy-two years of age, how much longer can I live? Also, you might not have two very devoted daughters to soften my heart into helping you. Their mother had eaten vegetarian for the fifteen years she was in refuge, participated in pujas, repented, and chanted mantras. So why did she die so hard? She had not had faith, and had not listened. No one believes me. You all think, It’s fine the way I act; it doesn’t matter. When my time comes, Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara will come to receive me, or the Dharma protectors will save me…. That won’t happen; you have heeded neither the Buddha’s teachings nor mine, and instead have just continued to do as you please. If you practice in your own way, you are not very likely to be helped.

“These eyewitnesses have told you the truth very clearly today that it is not that I like scolding people, nor is it that I enjoy showing off. I just happen to have this case to tell you about—of a person who did not do what she should have while alive, and suffered as a result when she was on her deathbed. Why was her mouth agape? She did not want to die. Why were her eyes wide open? She still had attachments. Why did she have such an unsightly expression on her face? She still felt her suffering acutely. So, what did she learn in her fifteen years of taking refuge? Nothing. Even though I was moved to liberate her out of compassion, she most certainly could not go to Amitabha’s Pure Land, because she had not cultivated while still alive. Where did she go? The Heaven of Desires—the lowest level of the Heaven Realm. What this means is that after reincarnating there for a few hundred years, she will come back here again. Does this mean I am incapable or that Amitabha has no compassion? Not at all; it is beyond my control. Her fate was decided by her causes and conditions; it was of her own making.

“I tell you not to hate others, that everything that happens to you is a result of your own causes, conditions, and good fortune, and that you should simply accept it—yet you refuse to listen. It was that day before I pointed out to her that she was seeking an audience after having messed her life up so dreadfully during her fifteen years of taking refuge. Who among you listens? Who believes? Even my ordained disciples don’t believe in the precepts they vowed to observe, much less you lay disciples. This is the why it is so difficult to promote Buddhism during the Age of Dharma Decline. You should figure out just why it is you want to practice Buddhism. Genuine practitioners work so hard every day, chanting mantras, conducting retreats, and so on, not to improve their lot in life or gain good health or evade illness, but for that final instant of death.”

Rinpoche asked the disciples who had been at the hospital that day, “You saw what she looked like when she died that day; were you scared?” The first disciple reported, “Extremely scared, especially in that moment I watched her pass away, because I had interacted with her a great deal. When she died, her eyes were not completely closed; for me, this was quite shocking, as I had only seen people pass away while in a coma. It felt to me that day that were it not for Rinpoche, and had I not been with the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, I would have been absolutely terrified.” The second disciple reported, “When I got there, she had just passed away. Her eyes were staring upward, her mouth was gaping wide open, and she had a yellowish complexion. It was the first time in my life I had seen someone die with her eyes still open; it was quite frightening. If I had not been learning Buddhism from Rinpoche, such a sight would certainly have unnerved me enormously.”

The third disciple reported, “She died ten or so minutes after I got there. A lot of the people present chanted mantras for her. Her eyes were open; so was her mouth. I really felt bad for her. I saw her elder daughter constantly dealing with many things, and her younger daughter was continuously wiping tears. I felt very scared. I remember a Dharma brother told her to close her eyes, but she didn’t. After Rinpoche had performed the Phowa, the elder daughter touched her mother’s forehead and the back of her head where the crown chakra is located, and said it felt warm. When the younger daughter felt it, she smiled, because she knew Rinpoche had performed the Dharma for her mom. Seeing that shook me to the core: She had been wiping tears constantly, but Rinpoche’s performance of the Dharma caused her to smile. I immediately felt very grateful for Rinpoche. We are very fortunate to have the guru in our lives.” Presently, Rinpoche said, “I did not perform the Phowa for her; it was the Chod. Do not speak falsehoods about me; she did not possess enough good fortune to receive the Phowa.”

The fourth disciple reported, “It was 2:00 p.m. when I got there, and she had already passed away. I could see that her eyes and mouth were wide open; it was a very strange sight; in all my previous encounters with other deceased persons, they had never looked anything like this. Later, a little after 4:00 p.m., when Rinpoche had finished performing the Dharma, I touched her body for the first time. Before that, I had only heard of experiences shared by our Dharma brothers, but this time I saw firsthand the auspicious signs that manifested after Rinpoche performed the Dharma. They were absolutely amazing. Her forehead was icy to the touch, and when I felt the back of her head, it was very warm—a lot warmer than the back of my own head. I am very grateful to Rinpoche.”

One of the daughters of the deceased spoke: “Before my mom stopped breathing, I said to her, ‘Mom, how about closing your eyes and having a rest?’ But her eyes remained somewhat open, and wouldn’t shut no matter what. By the time she took her final breath, her eyes were actually wide open, and her mouth wasn’t completely closed, either. After arriving at the hospital that day, I had reported first to my team leader over the telephone, and when she asked me if there was anything I wished to implore from Rinpoche, I answered, “I wish to implore Rinpoche to liberate my mom.” My team leader then asked me to confirm, “You wish to implore Rinpoche to perform the Dharma to liberate your mother?” At that, I said into the telephone, “As his disciple, I sincerely implore Rinpoche to liberate my mom.” After that, my team leader told me that the moment my mom stopped breathing, I should call back immediately, so I did, and my team leader then located the guru and passed on my supplication to have the Dharma performed. After the ritual was complete, I truly felt very grateful, because my mom’s eyes had closed, and the corners of her mouth had turned upward into a smile. Before Rinpoche performed the Dharma, my team leader had instructed me to whisper into my mom’s ear that she could rest at ease, for my sister and I would definitely do our best to continue learning Buddhism from Rinpoche. So, I did exactly as my team leader instructed. When it was time to transport our mom’s body to the mortuary freezer, our final view was of her with her eyes and mouth completely shut, wearing a very peaceful expression. We truly are grateful to Rinpoche.”

Rinpoche said, “It is written in the sutras that belief is the mother of all merits—but believing is not the same as being superstitious. Not a single word spoken by the Buddha was false; you should believe that everything He said was to benefit sentient beings. However, the point is that people should believe that they are able to do so, which means they should have faith in the Dharmas taught by the Buddha and their guru. Even if they cannot fully believe it yet, they should at least make a start. The Buddha said that all sentient beings are equal. This means that all sentient beings possess the conditions necessary to attain Buddhahood, so as long as you think and act in accordance with His teachings, you are sure to attain Buddhahood in some future lifetime. This is what is meant by belief.

“Given that you must believe, you then have to act. That does not mean saying you’ll do a little bit or feeling like it isn’t a big deal and you can wait until you are good and ready. If you keep doing that, then you will never get there. This disciple, both during life and in death, was taken care of by the Dharma and her guru. Had she not taken refuge, even this opportunity may have escaped her. Of course, some might say, ‘Is it really that important? Her appearance changed, that’s all; would that affect anything?’ People who ask those sorts of questions show that they do not believe in the Dharma; explaining it to them is useless.

“If a person has died, how can his or her appearance be made to change, other than through a lot of physical manipulations such as stretching out the deceased’s face with hot water, applying makeup, and so on? That day, though, no one touched her face. I remember there was a foreign nun once—you all know her name; she did a lot of good deeds, and was very petite in stature. I saw a photograph of her taken after she had died; her mouth was wide open, and in the next photo, they had wrapped a piece of cloth from her chin around her head, forcing her mouth shut. Thus, out of all of the world’s religions, only Buddhism can help the deceased. Can other religions do so? Sure, but you first have to meet the conditions they set forth, such as keeping the Ten Commandments. If their believers do that well, their angels will come to receive them, but if they do not, the angels won’t. Even this nun, who had done so many good deeds, still ended up dying this way—so how many good deeds have you done? You should be careful; time is running out one day at a time, and very soon your life will be over. I am not expounding the Dharma because I need fame or wealth; it was the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and my guru who entrusted me with this task and responsibility, so I must keep on doing it.

“While conducting a retreat, I once asked His Holiness whether or not I needed to learn the Madhyamaka Sastra, given that Lord Jigten Sumgon was a reincarnation of its author, Bodhisattva Nagarjuna, and because anyone practicing Buddhism knew that it was a very important sastra. His Holiness answered me straightforwardly: “No need; everything in it is contained in the Mahamudra.” A characteristic of Tantra is to not approach it from a theoretical standpoint, but rather to use methods to adjust one’s mind directly. Sastras are just theory. Can you use them to attain enlightenment? I don’t know. The Zen Buddhist phrase, ‘directly pointing to the heart’, means that practicing Buddhism is not so complicated or overelaborate; it involves looking directly into your own mind to see its nature. Tantrism is not just a bunch of mantra-chanting, drum-beating, and rituals; those things are all done for you to see, but the most important thing is to gain a clear view of your own mind. As Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha said, ‘every thought produced by an ordinary person generates karma and vice.’ Tantrism teaches us many Dharma methods of observing our own mind. If you can adjust and transform the way you think, then naturally you will realize the Dharma teachings very quickly. If you continue to stubbornly insist ongoing about things the wrong way, thinking that your direction in your practice is correct, then you will not make progress. Examples are that ordained disciple and the other disciple, who would remain the same even if they cultivated for a hundred or a thousand lifetimes. None of you has changed.

“There is already a good deal of content about the Madhyamaka Sastra in the Ratnakuta Sutra. How is the Madhyamaka Sastra useful? Actually, this has something to do with science. A lot of countries these days are constantly wanting to do international research on such things as quarks, and how the tiniest subatomic particles came into being. After all that research and spending all that money, however, they still have not found the answer; they have merely discovered a very short-lived phenomenon that only appeared once. However, Buddhism’s Madhyamaka, Emptiness, and the Great Prajna Sutra all explain the reasons behind the emergence and extinction of every phenomenon in the universe. Once we comprehend these reasons, we can easily help the deceased even from thousands of kilometers away. If we do not understand these reasons, then we cannot realize Emptiness, and won’t be able to benefit sentient beings even if we chant and make prostrations every day.

“Everything written in the Ratnakuta Sutra is meant for practitioners, whether or not you think you want to practice. Lay practitioners may only practice the Bodhisattva Path, but doing so does not make you a Bodhisattva. Practicing this path is an expedient Dharma method, and is relatively effective for us lay practitioners. If you do not do as you are told, though, you will not change, even if you listen to these teachings a million times. Monastics may cultivate the Bodhisattva Path, too, and the Ratnakuta Sutra teaches them how to practice. Whenever any of my ordained disciples have done anything wrong, I always scold them, because it is written in the sutras that monastics should be scolded by their guru—so do not assume that a lay practitioner may not teach monastics. Most lay practitioners may not, but vajra gurus may. For example, Vimalakirti used to teach the Dharma to Bodhisattva Manjusri. If you look at it that way, from the Buddha’s point of view, both monasticism and secular practice are expedient methods of cultivation; even though they might have different directions, the end result is the same. Their processes of cultivation may be different, but they end up at the same place.

“In am expounding the Ratnakuta Sutra today to provide you lay practitioners with a direction to keep you from practicing blindly with the assumption that you are cultivating.

“Last time I pointed out that what we call an “ordained mindset” is very important. In the Ratnakuta Sutra it is written that some practitioners are ‘ordained in body but not in mind’, some are ‘ordained in mind but not in body’, and finally, some are ‘ordained in neither body nor mind’. What, according to the Buddha’s definition, does it mean to be ordained? It is not simply a matter of shaving your head or wearing the clothing of a monastic; it means that you have renounced the home of reincarnation. To cultivate in the direction taught by the Buddha, you must break free of this burning house—in other words, this abode in the Six Realms in which we currently reside; you must renounce and leave it. To ‘break free’ means knowing that while you are in the Six Realms—even while in the Heaven Realm—you still must reincarnate, so you make a firm resolution to cultivate and renounce this home of reincarnation. To do so, your mind and thoughts must of course be different from those of most lay practitioners. This difference does not mean that your behavior or speech changes; it means the way you think becomes different. Different how? You must seriously contemplate every thought you have, and not give yourself any opportunities to do evil. You also must refrain from becoming overjoyed at doing some minor good deeds or hoping for their positive karmic effects to immediately manifest, as such hopes will cause you to reincarnate.

“To keep from reincarnating, we must maintain a very strong resolution to renounce reincarnation. A little while ago I mentioned that that disciple who passed away did not have such a mindset. She had hoped that all the mantras she chanted, vegetarian meals she ate, and trifling offerings she made in her fifteen years of taking refuge would have brought her happiness and caused her family members to be good to her; as such, she did not have the resolve to renounce reincarnation. Naturally, since she did not have the right mindset, all her suffering befell her when it was her time to die. Luckily, I kept blessing her the whole time, so she died without having to bear the pain of her cancer. My disciple Doctor Xie was present that day; let’s have him tell us whether cancer patients suffer a lot when they die.”

Doctor Xie reported, “Without the help Rinpoche gave her, it would be difficult to describe all of the suffering she would have gone through as a cancer patient. From the time this disciple first got cancer until her final hours, she was weak and could not stand up, but she was still able to eat, and only experienced a tiny bit of pain.” Rinpoche commented, “This person really love food, didn’t she?” The doctor continued his report: “Throughout, only in the last week or two did she feel the slightest pain, which was easily alleviated by taking a very low dose of pain medication. The day before she passed away, her pain level was higher, so she was prescribed a slightly higher dosage, but she did not take anything like morphine or amphetamines. Her passing was as the others described; she was not at peace, and seemed very anxious about many things. I told her daughters to tell her that Rinpoche would help her, that he had promised to take good care of her daughters, and to let go of all her worries; I told them to say these things over and over. The day before her death, just about the time she lost consciousness, I had told her to believe in Rinpoche and do her best to repent.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, “She had no faith; this was why her eyes and mouth were wide open.” The doctor continued: “When her heart stopped, I could see that she seemed to be opening and closing her eyes, so I said that would not do, for she was sure to be in a lot of suffering. I asked her daughters to tell her those things again.”

Rinpoche said, “Whatever the daughters said still had no effect. However, when she died, she turned into what you would call a ghost, but which in Buddhism is referred to as bardo. It was only after she had begun to have ghostly supernatural powers that she realized my prowess. Thus, after you are all dead, you will understand how adept I am. While you are still alive, you have no inkling of my capabilities; you think these things simply happen as a matter of course. Why did she not realize my ability until after she’d died? It was because once she had become a ghost and entered the intermediate state, a lot of her conscious thoughts stopped, and in their absence of motion, she became more sensitive to who had compassion and merits and who didn’t. Why did she smile? Very simple: It was because she felt that I was delivering her to a good place, which meant somewhere other than the Three Evil Realms. However, because she did not have a strong resolve to renounce reincarnation, she could not possibly go to Amitabha’s Pure Land.

“Do not assume you can go to the Pure Land just because you chant Amitabha’s name. You must first be very determined to leave the cycle of reincarnation. I am not asking you to become monastics. You might not have the causal condition to be one in this lifetime, but you should become very resolved in your heart to leave this home of reincarnation. In the earlier chapters of the Ratnakuta Sutra, much is written that teaches you how to do so, as well as how to treat your spouse and children, and what view you should have of monetary wealth and power; these teachings are very thorough. I have taught you these things, and they are written in the sutra, so you should contemplate them. Had that disciple contemplated them? She had not. Therefore, because she hadn’t, that was how she died. Had she given even a little thought to the sutras I had expounded, she could have saved me a lot of energy. Similarly, you all give me such a hard time; I have heavy karmic hindrances, whereas yours are light and you are very fortunate to have such a good guru to help you.

“However, do not gamble with me on your lives; I am most certainly going to die before you. Since I now have two systems in my body, one day I might decide I don’t want to play anymore, and I’ll be gone; once I’ve done all I need to do in this world, I will pass on. Do not assume I will never die and will always have my health. As two of my doctor-disciples well know, I am very healthy, but one day I will decide to leave, and will not be here anymore. I am not trying to frighten or threaten you; I say these things because another characteristic of practitioners of the Bodhisattva Path is that we know that once we have completed our tasks in this lifetime, we will be gone. What tasks are they? They include repaying any debts we owe or giving away things as we should; once our affinities are exhausted, we leave without looking back. Do not think that just because I seem to be busy with a lot of businesses, it means I cannot bear to part with this world; I am not attached to it. Why not? Because I am cultivating the Bodhisattva Path, I know that all mundane phenomena are suffering, so once I have completed what I need to do, I can leave without any regrets.

“Here it is written quite clearly: ‘One should give rise to the resolve to renounce the home of reincarnation, and not be reincarnated any longer.’ This line is very important to those of us who want to practice Buddhism and wish to take refuge. Whether you are practicing the Exoteric, Hinayana, Vajrayana, or Bodhisattva Vehicle, if you do not resolve to renounce reincarnation and are still attached to all the various good fortunes and hindrances of this world, then even if you have taken refuge, you will end up just like that deceased disciple. If she had not had two daughters to implore for my help so many times, she would not even have been liberated. In addition, it was due to her causes, conditions, and good fortune that I happened to be performing the Chod that day that I was able to help her while I was at it. I did not go out of my way to perform that Dharma specially for her, so do not misunderstand. That day I was going to perform the Chod anyway. Don’t be under the misapprehension that I only perform the Chod once a month; I perform it frequently, whenever I have time. I was able to help her in passing, and even that was good for her.

“Therefore, this is a line that all Buddhist practitioners should memorize, and never forget or neglect. If you are deeply attached to mundane affairs—whether to love, marriage, career, family, or wealth—then you are not resolved to renounce reincarnation. What do I mean by ‘attached’? If you feel sad at losing something or not being able to obtain something, then you are attached. If you cannot grasp this concept, then learning the Dharma will not be of any use to you.

“This ordained disciple had constantly committed wrongdoings and broken the precepts because she did was not resolved to leave reincarnation. If she had been, then she would not have written those terms down for me; she would have asked first. She did not respect her guru; she wanted to show off to me that she was superior to the other ordained disciples in that she could look all those terms up and they could not. What did I instruct you to do that day? It was to look up the term, ‘three points’, for me, was it not? Did I say to look up more than that? Luckily, I have somewhat mastered the supernatural power of mind-reading. I’ll give a better explanation: This disciple was worried her guru would look bad not knowing many Buddhist terms. Actually, she was just trying to show off to me how capable she was. If she were so competent, she would have found me a copy of a dictionary like this one.

“The sutra reads, ‘One can attain the supreme right path by gathering his or her cultivation.’

“Only if you are resolved to renounce reincarnation and are not attached to mundane life will you be able to gather all the Dharmas you cultivate and attain the supreme—that is, beyond all comparison—right path of enlightenment. What is that? It is the path by which one cultivates true, genuine enlightenment, before attaining Buddhahood or becoming a Bodhisattva. If you do not practice with this mindset, then you will not be able to cultivate and attain the right path of enlightenment. What is it meant by ‘right’? It is true, authentic enlightenment. What is enlightenment? Here it does not mean realizing that you have attained Buddhahood or become a Bodhisattva; rather it is realizing that all sentient beings are subjected to the eight forms of suffering—birth, old age, sickness, death, being apart from loved ones, being together with those you hate, not getting what you want, and the raging blaze of the Five Aggregates.

“When Shakyamuni Buddha was a prince, he left the city through four different city gates. After witnessing the suffering of birth, old age, sickness, and death, he became resolved to renounce his crown, family, and relations and cultivate a way to help sentient beings to escape such suffering. During the last year or two before my mom died, I witnessed the suffering of old age. You all think you will remain young forever. How do the elderly suffer? They cannot do everything they want to do, and are unable to manage a lot of their affairs on their own. When you were children, you had parents to bathe you and help you go to the toilet. When you are old, people will ignore you if you have to go number one or number two; even if you pay someone to help you, they will feel disgusted, because you are old. Young children smell good, but old people stink. Parents who toilet their kids simply say, ‘ew, stinky,’ but then get on with business, not even bothering to wear a mask. You’ve probably noticed that all those caregivers tending to the elderly wear masks, because they stink! Why do people stink when they get old? After eating food for several decades, they become truly malodorous. However, if you practice the Bodhisattva Path, then you see stink as just another phenomenon.

“A very long time ago, there was a believer whose father discharged all of his urine and feces on the hospital bed, and it stank up the entire floor of the building. Those who had taken refuge and become my disciples, despite their having cancer, did not need to stop eating before they died, and this did not happen to them. Many people know that some Dharma masters can stop eating for a month before they pass away, consuming only water. Furthermore, in Tantra, there are ways to prevent incontinence when a person stops breathing. Incontinence causes the deceased to fall into the Hell Realm, because their qi flows downward.

“If you have not given rise to the resolve to renounce reincarnation, then you certainly won’t be able to gather your cultivation and realize the right path of enlightenment; instead, your cultivation will just turn into good fortune of the Human and Heaven Realms, to be used in some future lifetime. You might even end up having the fortune of being a pet, because you are not practicing Buddhism with a resolve to renounce reincarnation. You think it is okay to chant to make your son get healthier, or dedicate your chanting to the person with whom your husband is having an affair so that she will stop enticing him. This is not renunciation; it is desire. Whenever you chant mantras, or recite any sutra out of desire, you won’t give rise to the power of compassion. Without that, your karmic creditors will not leave you alone, nor will they forgive you, because you hope to gain benefits for yourself but have forgotten how many sentient beings you have eaten in this lifetime. Every day, you eat many things without consideration to cause and effect. Where do all the nutrients go? Into your cells, correct?” Doctor Xie reported, “Rinpoche is absolutely correct; once consumed, the energy from those nutrients enters the body and transfers into its cells and tissues.”
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Rinpoche resumed his teachings: “Thus, if you eat a lot of fish, your cells will gradually turn into fish cells. Fish cells are different from human cells, and you will of course get sick, because the cells inside you will be fighting each other. Whenever there is a conflict between human and fish cells, the natural result is illness. If you eat a lot of beef, a lot of bovine atoms will enter your body. No one believes these facts; so many people think that eating vegetarian means getting no nutrients. At my Buddhist Center there are quite a few children who have eaten vegetarian since they were in the womb, yet they have grown up to be taller than anyone else—not to mention better-behaved.

Yesterday I was at the Glorious Jewel coffee shop in Dazhi, where I saw some kids eating. Some children from our Buddhist Center were also there eating. The non-Glorious Jewel kids were loud and rambunctious. You might think that to be quite normal, but actually, it isn’t. Our children from the Buddhist Center are very well behaved, and aren’t noisy; they move around, too, but they do it a lot more quietly. Because their mothers—due to practicing Buddhism, taking refuge, and believing in me—were relatively calm while pregnant, their kids learned to be calm while still in the womb, and were not so restless after they were born. Nowadays so many children suffer from autism, hyperactivity, and depression because when they were fetuses, they were affected by what their pregnant mothers and other family members did; this included their karma and what they ate.

“Chinese talk about prenatal education, and this does indeed exist. Yesterday I saw a glaring example of it; on one side, there were those kids from outside our Buddhist Center, and on the other side there were our Glorious Jewel kids, and the two groups were completely different from each other. It was not that the latter were not as smart; they, too, were active and ate their food, but they did it very peacefully. It also was not because I was there, because I am omnipresent; even when I was in Japan, I still liberated a deceased person in Taiwan, an example showing that I am everywhere.

“The sutra reads, ‘Without the resolve to renounce reincarnation, the mind is clogged with dust and dirt; with such resolve, the mind is full of wonder and goodness.’

“If you live your life without being resolved to renounce reincarnation, then even if you make prostrations to the Buddha and recite the sutras, your mind will be contaminated with a lot of dirt and dust that will pollute your pure Dharma nature. Once your mind is thus clogged, your compassion will definitely not emerge; without it, you will certainly not be able to give rise to bodhicitta. Without bodhicitta, how can you claim to be liberating yourself and others? If your mind has been polluted, you will not even have faith. You will not be able to obtain anything you pray for, and you will naturally lose faith, because you practice without the resolve to renounce reincarnation. Here in the sutra is written the reason we should practice Buddhism: To renounce the home of reincarnation. To that end, I have been expounding the Ratnakuta Sutra over the past few weeks, and it has been teaching us how to think: Our spouses are our jailers and creditors. It is also written in the sutra that if your spouse takes your money and has a falling out with you, you should see this as charity. It does not teach you to get your money back when you divorce or break up with your spouse.

“Ever since I was little, I have always been very generous, so those sorts of things won’t happen to me. I have always given freely, unlike you men who are so stingy these days. You take for granted that you have given something to someone, but the reverse is true, too! If you think being generous to people entitles you to receive something in return, then you might as well just buy stuff from them. Why even talk about marriage and love? Aren’t you just deceiving yourselves and others? On the other hand, you women are like this, too; if you want something in return after giving something to someone, then you might as well just set up a business! Thus, none of you has really learned the Dharma. Let me reiterate that you should keep those thoughts about your spouses, family members, and karmic creditors to yourselves, and not talk about them out loud. The Buddha never said you should voice your thoughts to your family members. Why is that? To prevent them from slandering Buddhism.

“However, when I say ‘keep those thoughts to yourselves’, I am not telling you to feel annoyed with your family members; the Buddha never said that just because you think of them as karmic creditors, you can hate them and practice Buddhism with such fervor that they leave you; if you do that, then you are in the wrong. If you ordinarily chant mantras a thousand times a day, but then, after listening to me expound the Ratnakuta Sutra, you start chanting them ten thousand times a day, hoping that your husband or wife will decide to leave you, then you are wrong. In fact, if you have not paid off your karmic debt, and chant more and more, then your spouse might turn around and decide not to leave. Furthermore, when you dedicate recitations to your spouse, he or she will accumulate more and more good fortune and end up staying. I am not telling you not to make dedications; I am telling you not to do it with that sort of attitude, thinking that your karmic creditors will disappear after you’ve chanted a bunch. Without karmic creditors, would we even need to cultivate? I suppose not! As a matter of fact, without karmic creditors, we could just practice and practice in Amitabha’s Pure Land until we attained Buddhahood.

“All your karmic creditors come to collect on the debts you owe them. You are not qualified to have children that have come to repay your debts. From the time they are tiny, you worry that they will not grow up; once they have grown up, you worry they won’t get a job; after they are in the workforce, you worry that they won’t be promoted; once they start talking about being in love, you worry about their getting ripped off by their partners. Children, on the other hand, don’t listen to what their parents say; if they love someone, then that is the person they will listen to. Why don’t they think about the fact that their parents were the ones who raised them? How is it that they don’t listen to their mother and father, and instead listen to someone who didn’t raise them? Children as such are genuine karmic creditors.

“Much of what is written in the sutras is to teach us lessons. The point is not to abandon, discard, or ignore human affairs of the mundane world, but rather to change the way we think about them. If you have the right mindset, then a lot of things in your life will change.

“Why, if you are resolved to renounce reincarnation, will your mind be ‘full of wonder and goodness’? If you have that resolve, then you will be able to observe the precepts and the Ten Meritorious Acts quite easily, and are bound to refrain from committing any further negative acts. At the very least, you will accumulate some good fortune while you are alive. It’s like that disciple who passed away recently: If she had not taken refuge and gone vegetarian, and hadn’t participated in pujas, then she would not have even been fortunate enough to have her consciousness transferred. I live my life with the resolve to renounce reincarnation; whenever sentient beings are suffering, I help them. Even though she had made such grave mistakes, a causal condition arose in the form of her family members coming to implore me for help. Even though I had given her quite a tongue-lashing, deep down I still wanted to save her. This is the mindset of one who has renounced the home of reincarnation.

“If my disciples treat me poorly, do not make offerings to me, or ignore me, none of that bothers me; as long as the causal conditions arise, I will do what I can to help them. This is what is meant by ‘with the resolve to renounce reincarnation, the mind is full of wonder and goodness.’ As a Buddhist practitioner, if you have not affirmed that you will renounce the home of reincarnation, then you will continue reincarnating.

“The sutra reads, ‘With the resolve to renounce reincarnation, one is tied to one’s karma; without such resolve, one will not have any hindrances.’

“Here, ‘not having any hindrances’ refers to not having any hindrances both in life and death. Being ‘tied to one’s karma’ means that one is controlled by his or her karma, and is at the risk of reincarnating. If that disciple who died had not had me to help her—had her daughters not sought out my assistance—then what do you think would have happened to her? She most definitely would have reincarnated. Dying with one’s eyes open means not being willing to let go of life; not wanting to die. Such people are certain to reincarnate. Will she come back as a human? Not necessarily. She is bound by karma of her own making; only Buddhism can untie that sort of knot. If you don’t have an opportunity to receive help from a meritorious guru, then you need to understand what it means to be resolved to renounce reincarnation. ‘With such resolve, one will not have any hindrances’—this does not refer to not encountering any obstacles in life, or experiencing no mishaps; it means that none of the good or evil effects of your karma will hinder you from practicing or keep you from walking the path to Buddhahood. As such, you will have renounced the home of reincarnation. Conversely, if you live without the resolve to renounce reincarnation, you will encounter many hindrances.

“Disciples are forbidden to tell people’s fortunes for a living, even if they only do it for small sums of money. Why? Because the opposite of the Eightfold Path of Righteousness is the Eightfold Path of Unrighteousness, and it includes divination and fortunetelling. When engaging in such acts, one is not practicing with the resolve to renounce reincarnation.

“The sutra reads, ‘Without the resolve to renounce reincarnation, one will continue to accumulate the defilements of karma; with such resolve, one will be free from attachment and aversion.’

“Without the resolve to renounce reincarnation, it is very easy to accumulate the defilements of our good and evil karma. What defilements are those? They include defilements of our pure, original nature, which can very easily pile up. Resolving to renounce reincarnation means leaving all attachments and aversions behind, and resting in equanimity. In other words, people with the resolve of renunciation view everything—including both good and bad—equally; they shed all their attachments. This involves neither seeking nor striving for anything; if something does not come to them naturally, they do not want it. On the other hand, if your boss gives you a raise, but you say you don’t want it because you haven’t earned it, then you’re just being dumb. If you are being offered a raise, then of course you should get it! Therefore, shedding attachments means that anything you get is not worth feeling happy over, and anything you lose is not worth feeling sad over. Even if you get something through whatever method you have at your disposal, whether through cheating, swindling, or corruption, one day you will still use it up or lose it. You will then understand that wealth comes and goes, as do family members. You should know that you cannot hold on to them; as soon as you draw your last breath, they will not be yours.

“Of course, some of you think you will just wait and worry about all that when you die. However, because of your myriad attachments, prior to your death, you will experience a lot of unnecessary suffering, and in turn, this will cause you to make a lot of bad decisions which will lead to even more suffering when you pass away.

“The sutra reads, ‘Without the resolve to renounce reincarnation, one’s actions lead to evil karma; with such resolve, one’s actions lead to good karma.’

“All acts done by people without the resolve to renounce reincarnation will ultimately result in negative karmic retributions. For example, if you love seafood, you will naturally end up unhealthy and bring yourself negative effects. If you do things with the resolve to renounce reincarnation, then whatever you embrace will be good, because you will be doing deeds such as being devoted to others, self-sacrifice, and anything that does not harm sentient beings. How can I explain this concept? It does not mean you should give away all your money, nor does it mean you should not go to work, get married, or fall in love; that is not the point. If you want to fall in love, go ahead! However, you must be clear on the fact that love is not an act of possession, and the end result of love is not marriage; it results in the suffering of being parted with someone in life and death. Marriage is simply a process. Many people think the outcome of love is marriage, but they are wrong! The real eventuality of two people being together is that they are bound to suffer from having to say goodbye.

“If you are resolved to renounce reincarnation, then even if you have fallen in love and gotten married, you still know that these are but karmic manifestations, and that regardless of whether those manifestations are good or bad, they are of your own making. If they are good, you will not be overjoyed; if they are bad, you will not be constantly trying to push them away. As such, your actions will bring good effects. The sutras teach us lay practitioners that if our better half spends our money, we should see this as charity; if our children spend our money, we should discipline them. By doing these things, everything we receive will lead to good karma. If, however, your wife spends your money and then you want to control her, thinking she belongs to you, you would be embracing evil. If you understand that being a husband, it is your responsibility to take care of your family, then this is an example of embracing good; the same is true of parents who know that they must supervise their children. If you are a parent who hopes your kids will one day pay you back for raising them, then this is an example of embracing evil. You should not think about getting something in return from your children; you should ask yourself whether or not you have good fortune and causal conditions to deserve it. Thus, the definition of ‘good’ and ‘evil’ in these two lines is that ‘evil’ is anything that will cause us to reincarnate, and ‘good’ is anything that allows us to leave reincarnation.

“When people talk about the ‘law of good and evil’, evil is not limited to killing or cheating someone, nor is good limited to doing a bunch of good deeds. What determines whether something is good or evil is whether it will help you to become liberated from life and death, or make you continue reincarnating. If the latter, then it is evil; if the former, then it is good.

“The sutra reads, ‘Without the resolve to renounce reincarnation, one is immersed in the muck of love and desire; with such resolve, one can keep from being mired in that muck.’

“It is very easy for lay practitioners to fall headlong into the muck of love and desire. This is why love is not mentioned in Buddhism. The reason it is muck is that once you are trapped in it, you cannot climb back out. As for the line, ‘with such resolve, one can keep from being mired in that muck’, let us consider the opposite; as I mentioned before, if you do not have the resolve to renounce reincarnation, how can you stay away from the muck of your emotions and desires? If your husband loves you, that is not necessarily a good thing, nor is your love of him. Why? These days everyone wants to be independent. If a man loves you very much, then especially given how prevalent smart phones are these days, he might want to see exactly where you are and whom you are with, pressuring you to be and do what he wants. This is an example of being too in love.

“To keep from being mired in that muck means that if your causal condition has matured and you want to get married, then go ahead, but after the fact, you do not need to love someone to death, nor should you get married for avaricious reasons. Rather, you should know that you are doing this because of your fate and affinities, and that once this process is finished, it will be gone. To put it simply, when you die, all that love and desire will drag you down into reincarnation. If that disciple who passed away had not obtained my help in resolving her death—plus the fact that when I transferred her consciousness, she said she was worried about her younger daughter—had I not known about it, then like that muck of love, it would have dragged her down. Being aware of it, though, I told her she could rest at ease; only then did she leave.

“Where does the muck of love and desire come from? It comes from thinking that someone is yours, like your daughter, husband, wife, lover, and so on. I’ll explain again: One side of one of the Chinese characters for ‘love’ is the ‘heart’ radical, and the other side means ‘black’. In other words, only one with a black heart is qualified to talk about love; if your heart is not black enough, then don’t, because you are sure to be bound and imprisoned very tightly by it. At the top of the other character for ‘love’ are three knives and a lid. You could not run away from it even if you wanted to. If you look at it again, you can see that it has a lid covering a heart, and beneath that are three legs. The ancients created characters in a very interesting manner. If you want to fall in love, then you should prepare yourself to have three legs and for your heart to be covered up; you will not be able to see clearly, and your mind will be muddled. In this lifetime, my heart has not been black enough, so I am always sacrificing myself for others in order to repay my karmic debts. None of you is willing to do this; you think your partners belong to you. That is why you are in trouble.

“The Dharmas taught by the Buddha are not meant to force us into monasticism or to discard our possessions. The most important thing is that you must adjust your mindset. If you cannot, then your daily actions will cause others to scold you, because you are still so self-centered; in everything you do, you think of your own benefit first, and want to do the right thing only to escape being reprimanded and so that others will say good things about you. That is not the way to be.

“The sutra reads, ‘Without the resolve to renounce reincarnation, all one has are tools that lead to reincarnation; with such resolve, one gains the wisdom to leave reincarnation.’

“All that ordinary people without the resolve to renounce reincarnation possess are tools leading them to continue reincarnating. ‘Ordinary’ means they cannot leave reincarnation. Only those with the resolve to renounce reincarnation can obtain the wisdom necessary to escape reincarnation, whereas people without such resolve cannot. Despite being berated by me, that disciple who passed away turned into an example to learn from, and thus was cultivating the Bodhisattva Path, too. It’s just that this path is rather arduous, that’s all. Her story tells you that practicing the way she did is wrong; you should not go about it that way. If you do not change, then you will end up just like she did. Ask yourselves this: Do you have two devoted daughters? Is your guru immortal? If you cannot guarantee these things, then you should immediately amend your mindset; otherwise, your will not be able to turn your ordinariness into wisdom. Whenever I light lamps as an offering to the Buddha, I implore the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to help sentient beings turn their ordinariness into wisdom. That is, I hope that they can leave the suffering of reincarnation behind. Also, whenever I light lamps as an offering to the Buddha, I hope that His light will illuminate the darkness in the minds of sentient beings so that their pure wisdom can be revealed, allowing them to listen to the Dharma, contemplate it, and begin to practice it. Otherwise, it will be very hard for them.

“After talking to you about all of this, I hope you will all go home and think about why exactly you are learning Buddhism. If you are still unable to adjust your mindset, then you are just a believer; and even if you have taken refuge and possess good fortune, there is no telling whether or not you have the right causal conditions to practice.
H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the disciples in the Dharma Protector Achi Ritual and dedication prayer. Upon the perfect completion of the puja, the attendees thanked the guru for his compassionate performance of the Dharma and auspicious teachings, benefiting countless sentient beings. All rising, they paid reverent homage as H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne.

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Updated on May 25, 2019