His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – June 2, 2019

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presided over an auspicious Chod Puja at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Taipei, and bestowed precious teachings on the Sutra of the Questions of Bodhisattva Subahu-Kumara.

“Before performing the rituals, I’d like to first talk about a portion of the sutra. As you all know, the reason I went to promote the Dharma in Japan last month was that while chanting mantras at Onsenji Temple, the Buddha statue before me started to move (For further details, please refer to Onsenji Temple Puja News). To prevent people from having superstitious notions, I called on Disciple Liao to search for just such an auspicious sign in the sutras, because in Buddhism, once a practitioner has attained certain fruition in his or her cultivation, signs of it are recorded in the sutras. We cannot assume we have attained fruition simply based on our own opinions and personal beliefs.

“Among the Tantras in the Buddhist Canon is a chapter known as the Sutra of the Questions of Bodhisattva Subahu-Kumara, the first section of which states, that ‘helped and accompanied by a superior guru, one will quickly attain siddhi’. This means that you must gain the assistance and support of an auspicious guru to ‘accompany’ you throughout your cultivation, never leaving your side; only then can you attain siddhi (realization).”

H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche called on a monastic who had been ordained decades ago to explain the idea of “realization”. He replied, “Realization means transforming from an ordinary person into a sage; it means cultivating from a Hinayana arhat and realizing Emptiness to become a Bodhisattva, breaking away from one’s attachments to self and the Dharma, and ultimately attaining Buddhahood.’” Rinpoche asked, “What else?” He responded, “It means walking the Bodhisattva Path, aspiring to bodhicitta, and acting as a Bodhisattva to assist sentient beings in attaining Buddhahood, and attaining Buddhahood oneself.” Rinpoche said, “The way you explain it, they still won’t be able to understand.”

Next, Rinpoche instructed the other ordained disciples to explain the meaning of “realization”.

The second monastic responded, “The simplest explanation of realization is becoming a person like Rinpoche, on whom sentient beings can rely to become liberated from life and death; this is my simplest understanding of it.”

The third monastic replied, “My understanding is that after attaining the Path of Vision, one begins to practice the Path of Cultivation, but of greatest importance is having a guru’s approval.”

The fourth monastic said, “One should be a benevolently adjusted and protective master practitioner, like Rinpoche, and understand the needs of sentient beings.”
The fifth monastic responded, “Based on the Rinpoche’s teachings, my interpretation of ‘realization’ is that one should first become liberated from life and death, and then help sentient beings to do the same.”

The sixth monastic replied, “My thinking is that ‘realization’ means being able to liberate oneself from life and death, and becoming able to help sentient beings to become liberated, too; this is realization.”

The seventh monastic said, “I am but a broken wreck, and still learning, so I would like to earnestly implore Rinpoche to repeat what you just said for the benefit of the gathering.”

The eighth monastic said, “Realization means that I, as a disciple, implore you to help me to achieve realization; only in that moment will I be qualified to report this experience to you.”

The ninth monastic replied, “Realization is when one’s cultivation has reached a certain fruition, like that of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche; after that, one can reach supreme, absolute perfection in everything one does.”

The tenth monastic responded, “It means practicing the way the guru does; learning from him is precisely what we need to do.”

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued. “You are all showing off a bit or trying to be a bit too clever by dumping the responsibility back on me; only the second to last of you said anything remotely appropriate. According to the sutras, attaining realization has to do with whether or not you can, by way of the teachings of the Buddha and your guru, apply your every thought toward benefiting sentient beings; moreover, it means that anything you wish to accomplish in your Dharma activities will one day be successful and perfect. Furthermore, the definition of realization is that one can use expedient methods to benefit vast numbers of sentient beings.
“If you yourself have not attained realization, then you cannot possibly benefit sentient beings. At present, many people believe that they can liberate others by chanting mantras, but that is impossible unless you have first achieved attainment. How do you know whether or not you have attained realization? For practitioners, it is absolutely necessary to obtain a guru’s authentication; other than that, all practitioners who have achieved realization will manifest auspicious signs wherever they go, and such signs have been recorded in the sutras.

“This section of the sutra begins with mention of Bodhisattva Vajrapani, who is the head of the entire Vajra Group. This means that if you wish to practice Vajrayana Buddhism, you must cultivate his Dharma. Bodhisattva Vajrapani is the wrathful manifestation of Bodhisattva Mahasthamaprapta. You can see Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara in the middle of the mandala of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Taipei, and to his left is Vajrapani.

“In this section of the sutra, Bodhisattva Subahu-Kumara addresses Bodhisattva Vajrapani thusly: ‘I have seen that there are people in the world who chant mantras. They cultivate purely and diligently, observing the precepts in a clean place. Why is it that they chant so well, yet still have not achieved attainment?’ You are unable to do this. The word ‘precepts’ here refers to the Eight Precepts and cultivating in retreat; ‘in a clean place’ means in locations that have not been defiled by acts of killing or any non-meritorious industries or businesses, cemeteries, and so on. ‘Purely’ refers to practicing very diligently, without asking for anything in return, or to fulfill one’s desires, obtain a cure for one’s illnesses, or any other such reasons. The next line is a question asking why these people chant mantras yet still fail to attain realization.

“Bodhisattva Subahu-Kumara goes on to ask Vajrapani why these people, who have purportedly advanced so diligently in their chanting of mantras, are still unable to achieve attainment in the upper, middle, and lower Dharmas of mantra-chanting. Why exactly have they not achieved any results? Is it that they have not gotten rid of their hindrances from past evil acts? Subahu-Kumara hopes Vajrapani will enlighten him. Because this section of the sutra is rather long, I will just give a brief explanation.

“Further on, the sutra mentions that in order to attain realization, one should possess unlimited Dharma power. However, these so-called diligent practitioners are ‘incapable of Dharma power’; that is, they cannot manifest any Dharma power. Is this because they practice at the wrong time, or they are of the wrong caste, or the way in which they chant is either deficient or excessive? Are they irreverent or arrogant while practicing, or do they make offerings incorrectly?

[Just then, a disciple’s mobile phone rang, and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed the disciple to leave.]

“Next, Bodhisattva Vajrapani says, ‘If people are unable to achieve attainment through chanting mantras, one reason could be that they have been unable to transform the karma they have accumulated from their past lives. It is like how that person had neglected to turn off his cell phone, and just happened to receive a phone call in exactly that moment. Had it happened ten minutes earlier, I wouldn’t have heard it, and if it had rung ten minutes later, I perhaps would have been chanting mantras and would not have noticed. Thus, the Dharma protectors are quite remarkable; if you are in the wrong mindset, they will hinder you from the moment you set foot in the Buddhist Center. Let me reiterate that the people spoken of in this section are not the likes of yourselves. Bodhisattva Subahu-Kumara says very clearly that there are many who manage to keep the Eight Precepts and are quite pure of heart, very diligent, and are extremely advanced at chanting mantras, yet who are still unable to achieve attainment. Why is that? Moreover, what of disciples who think they should chant in a certain type of voice? They have not even completed the Eight Precepts Retreat, so what makes them think having practiced Exoteric Buddhism and studied a lot of sutras is enough? As luck would have it, I have gained a disciple who can find sutras for me right away; whatever I want to say, she is able to look up the quotes for me.

“If we wanted to recite every chapter of the Buddhist Canon, it would take more than a year to get through them. This is due to the support the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas bestow upon me, and one might say I have achieved some realization. In other words, I am benefiting sentient beings and dispelling their confusion, so the Dharma protectors and Bodhisattvas are bound to assist me. Each of you is very arrogant; you all assume that you can become liberated just by chanting a little bit, without any need of my help. If you do not achieve attainment, then you cannot possibly have your consciousness transferred. One of my ordained disciples used to be very conscientious, reciting more than twenty sutras in order to liberate people. She knows very well that she did not succeed, because she had not achieved realization. In terms you can comprehend, realization means being able to accomplish what you set your minds to. For us practitioners, because our every thought is for the sake of sentient beings, we can benefit them with each mantra we chant.

“Is it really so? Later on in the sutra, there is mention of which phenomena appear around people who have achieved realization. If you experience these auspicious signs, it means you have achieved attainment. However, these days a lot of movies are able to fabricate such signs; they can show them using special effects.

“The most important part of this section of the sutra is what I have been stressing from the beginning, and that is that you must acquire an auspicious guru to help you. Someone who has now left the Buddhist Center once asked me whether the Great Six-Syllable Mantra had been patented. Actually, it has, but he was under the impression that it was not patented under the law and therefore did not belong to me. It truly does not belong to me, nor does it belong to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, but nevertheless it is patented—because without a guru to help you, there is no way you can achieve attainment. So many people self-righteously assume that if they keep on chanting, the day will come when they attain enlightenment. That is not possible.

“In one of the earlier lines it is stated very clearly that these people have kept the Eight Precepts and cultivated very diligently and with dedication, yet still have not achieved realization—so what about you? Can you achieve attainment after chanting a thousand or three thousand times a day? Is that enough to change your circumstances? In Tibetan Buddhism, you are constantly told to listen to what your guru says. Why are you told that your guru is always right, that black is black, and that white is white? He is only correct; he is never wrong. If you think I am only a guru while on the Dharma throne, and become an ordinary person after descending from it, then you might as well stop coming here to learn Buddhism. In fact, we Ngakpa gurus have mastered mantra chanting—or, as you might put it, we ‘are quite robust in our chanting power’. Whenever I open my mouth to say something, it always comes to pass. If I say you will be fine, then as long as you do as you are told, you certainly will be fine eventually. It might not happen in this lifetime, but you are too impatient to wait until the next; you want to see results right away.

“Why, after giving rise to respect and being blessed, do so many people suffer less from their ailments? This is the nature of attainment. I do not perform any special rituals; I just chant. Therefore, I often tell a lot of people not to think I stop being a guru the second I step off the Dharma throne; even when not sitting up here, I still am a mantra master and a guru. If you fail to listen whenever I speak, then it is your loss, not mine. Many people think I should mind my own business. Of course I should, but as one who has achieved attainment through chanting mantras, everything I say is for the benefit of sentient beings. I am not overly talkative; I might spend a few hours in His Holiness’s company, but we just chat a little, and for the rest of the time we don’t say anything. It is not that we don’t have anything to say to each other as guru and disciple; it is that we do not have anything to gossip about, unlike you.

“This section of the Sutra states it very clearly. Those of you present here today—do you observe the Eight Precepts? Are you pure, dedicated, and diligent? Even people such as these have not achieved realization, so what makes you think that you can just by chanting mantras every day, or that you don’t need a guru? In this section of the sutra, it is stated at the outset that you must ‘acquire an auspicious guru’. I would not claim to be auspicious, but at the very least, I am the Drikung Kagyu Order’s only Ngakpa Rinpoche of Han ethnicity in more than 800 years to have achieved attainment in this lifetime; this had never before occurred throughout history. Furthermore, of late, His Holiness has repeatedly announced, in both Europe and America, that as his disciple, I have attained realization step by step, according to the prescribed order of cultivation. When a guru praises you, it means you have achieved attainment, because a guru cannot make false speech. If I am not doing a good job, then my guru would say so; if I were doing a bad job but he said I was doing fine, then he would be breaking the precepts. Thus, I don’t know why you are so arrogant. What makes you think you are so special? Based on what is written in the sutras, you really should be blushing with shame.

“The opening section of the sutra states that you absolutely must have an auspicious guru to help and accompany you; only then will you have a chance of attaining siddhi. Do you think you can achieve attainment on your own power? Everyone thinks that is possible, but the sutra plainly states otherwise. What should you do? The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas cannot hand you mastery over mantra chanting, because everyone must cultivate individually; if you do not practice, you cannot achieve realization. This is stated quite clearly in the sutra.

“In the next section, two points are stressed with regard to chanting mantras: If you want to learn how to do it, you absolutely must take refuge in a meritorious guru who is pure in his observance of the precepts. Only by receiving his Dharma transmission will you have opportunities to walk the path to realization. If you do not take refuge in him, then no amount of chanting or prostrations will do you any good. This is what is meant in Tibetan Buddhism when it is said that a lineage must be pure, and without one, you cannot achieve attainment through chanting. Many people who have left here assume that doesn’t matter, and that just because they have heard the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, they are therefore able to chant it for the rest of their lives. However, have they achieved realization or not? I would go so far as to say that they most definitely have not, unless they have found another guru who has achieved attainment. Nevertheless, if they are capable of leaving even their own guru, then can they find another? Perhaps they can, but there is no telling whether that one will be at the same level.

“It is even stated in this part of the sutra that if you have hindrances when chanting mantras, are in the wrong mindset, or are impure, then demons can come in and harass you, and even make you fall ill, regardless of whether you chant the Six-Syllable Mantra, because you have the wrong intentions, you do not respect your guru, and you do not do what he says. You all constantly think you don’t need to listen to me, and that you can just live the way you want to live. I have not interfered with your lifestyles, but if you are to practice Buddhism, then you must heed your guru’s advice. If you are not willing to listen to me, and just plan on relying on your ordinary devices to chant mantras, then demons and your karmic creditors from past lives will see this and know that you will gain good fortune if you keep on chanting. They won’t know what to do with you then, so will give you a hard time sooner rather than later. Do not think that chanting mantras will prevent you from succumbing to illness; you will still get sick. Take, for example, that ordained disciple who came up with idea that mantras should be chanted correctly with a certain sound; as a result, she had constant health problems. Why? It was because she did not listen.She assumed that since she had taken refuge in me, it was my obligation to teach her. However, even if I teach her, it does not mean she will learn or practice. If she does not listen, I can’t do anything with her.

“This sutra touches upon a lot of things, but there isn’t enough time to explain them all today. For example, in the sutra it is mentioned that if your mind is “inflamed with greed, hatred, and delusions”, then when you bathe, those demons will enter you, regardless of what mantra you chant. This is what is written in the sutra; I did not make it up. What are greed, hatred, and ignorance? I am constantly teaching you not to make dedications to affair partners, vile characters, or your husbands to make them listen to you; doing so is an example of greed, hatred, and ignorance.

“The line, ‘one who wishes to be freed from demonic hindrances’, refers to the fact that a person chanting mantras must first and foremost have a pure, awe-inspiring Ajari, which means a guru. What does awe-inspiring mean? It means this guru has already mastered the four Dharma methods of Subduing, Placating, Increasing, and Vanquishing; that is, whenever he performs the Dharma, he is always attuned. If the guru has not achieved attainment in those four Dharma methods, then he cannot rid you of demonic hindrances. Even if you resolve in this lifetime to practice, because those demons are hindering you, you cannot attain realization without a guru’s help. This is written so clearly; it is what is stated in the sutra, not something I invented. This section of the sutra appeared to me because the time was right. I had never read it before, because I certainly cannot spend all my time reading the Buddhist Cannon.

“Why is it that some people chant mantras to the point of falling mentally or physically ill? It is precisely due to demonic hindrances. Why do they have these? They are not respectful toward their guru, and take advantage of him; as a result, they give rise to greed, hatred, and ignorance. I often say that mantras can be chanted by anyone; some achieve attainment, while others don’t. It is not that the mantras are ineffective, it is that you are in the wrong mindset.

“If you do not possess enough good fortune, then you will run into problems even while conducting retreats. For example, you might fall inexplicably ill, be plagued by lice, or get bitten by mosquitoes; these all happen because you have demonic hindrances and insufficient good fortune, and need the help of a guru. Therefore, you must stop being self-righteous. It is written in the sutra that people who experience the aforementioned things while chanting mantras must, in addition to taking refuge in a meritorious guru who observes the precepts, also cultivate compassion and aspire to bodhicitta; only then will they have a chance of attaining realization when chanting mantras.

“The sutra reads, ‘…If one chants mantras a sufficient number of times….’ This means that we are required to chant some mantras a hundred thousand times, others a million, still others ten million, and so on. ‘How will one know that one’s cultivation has approached to siddhi?’ This line refers to the fact that chanting a certain number of times does not mean one has achieved attainment; it just means one is getting closer to it. Many people assume that if they press a counter one million times, Amitabha will appear. Have you completed the Eight Precepts Retreat in an undefiled location? If not, then how could that possibly happen? All of these prerequisites are written in the sutra; I did not make them up. The text states that even after chanting that many times, you still will only have gotten closer to having an opportunity to achieve attainment, so that when you go to sleep you can have a few pleasant dreams.

“Do not assume that having had a few auspicious dreams means you’ll soon turn into a Bodhisattva, because that is not going to happen; your dreams were merely the result of having cultivated a mantra in accordance with the rules of ritual, and after you finished chanting it the prescribed number of times, your mind became purer, and that led to some propitious dreaming. After having such dreams, you should be even more attentive, hard working, and devoted. If I go by what is written in the Ratnakuta Sutra, then in my past lives, I was more than just a Bodhisattva of the First or Second Ground. A dream I had is recorded in the sutras, but I will not speak publicly of it right now. However, after I had it, I grew even more dedicated, because, as is written in the Ratnakuta Sutra, even Bodhisattvas of the Second or Third Ground who experience such dreams are still liable to encounter some hindrances, so they have even more reason to practice diligently.

“What about yourselves? Do you think it is enough to just be liberated from life and death? The main points of the sutras are not expounded in other Buddhist centers; there everyone just practices blindly, based on hearsay and self-righteousness. Moreover, even some of my disciples who have taken refuge for a very long time are still like this; they do not listen, so there is nothing I can do. For today, I’ll hold off on talking about dreamscapes, because we do not have much time.

“Finally, I’ll speak for a moment about how it is mentioned that for practitioners who have attained realization, that attainment has ‘entered their bodies’. Their realization is not external; it has entered their Dharma bodies, causing even their karmic bodies to achieve attainment. This is what I mean when I say that a practitioner has achieved some attainment; his or her body is naturally healthy, and such practitioners can easily do that without even needing to think about it, because the Dharmas they have cultivated have entered their bodies. This means that their bodies have become Dharma instruments; they are no longer the simple humans you perceive them to be. As I often point out, you must not assume that I become an ordinary person the moment I descend from the Dharma throne. None of you listens very attentively to what I say from atop it, and you pay even less attention to my words after I step down from it. For this reason, you are always having problems, because you all filter my words through the mesh of your own ideas. Whenever I say anything you don’t want or dislike, or even something that you feel is hurtful, you reject it. This is why you will never attain realization.

“Practitioners who attain realization emit a fragrance. You might suddenly catch a whiff of it, like incense, but you won’t be able to see it. For example, some people say there is a sweet-smelling scent whenever I walk past. This is written in the sutras. It is not that I deliberately use sandalwood as perfume; I never have.

“The sutra reads, ‘Once one has achieved inner realization, outward phenomena will manifest. When such a practitioner, having attained siddhi, chants mantras with continuous focus, there will be occurrences. Examples are seeing the Buddha statue in front of the practitioner move, seeing the Buddha’s face illuminated, and seeing the Buddha’s body vibrate; snow or drizzle might fall even when there are no clouds in the sky, and wonderful fragrances might be smelt; the Earth might tremble with the natural sound of heavenly drums, devas from the Asura Realm might appear in the void, and the voices of heavenly beings might be heard, as well as the sounds of magnificent adornments of necklaces and bracelets; lamps might increase with golden brilliance, and their flames growing ever brighter, even when they are low on oil; and voices might be heard emanating from the sky, instructing the practitioner to make wishes, or the hairs on his or her body might all raise on end.’

“If this person chanting mantras seeks inner realization, external phenomena will manifest. Therefore, as long as he or she remains constantly focused, such manifestations will certainly occur. ‘Seeing the Buddha statue in front of the practitioner move’—for example, last time I went to Osenji Temple in Japan to make offerings by chanting mantras, the statue of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara moved. This meant that I had attained realization; it did not move as a result of electricity or any nearby vibrations or earthquakes. ‘Seeing the Buddha’s face illuminated’—many disciples have seen this happen. Whenever I have chanted mantras in a temple, the faces of its Buddha statues have suddenly lit up, as though emanating luminescence. “Snow or drizzle might fall even when there are no clouds in the sky”. You have all seen this happen before, too. When I have gone to promote the Dharma in Qinghai, Ladakh, and other such places, these sorts of phenomena have occurred; without a cloud in the sky, it has nevertheless snowed or a fine drizzle has fallen.

“‘Wonderful fragrances might be smelt’. Often, while I am chanting mantras, you can smell a fragrant scent, or feel as though the ground is moving. ‘With the natural sound of heavenly drums’—sometimes when I chant, you will hear a pulsating vibration; this is the sound of drums from the Heaven Realm. “Devas from the Asura Realm might appear in the void’—this is something that you are unable to see. ‘The voices of heavenly beings might be heard, as well as the sounds of magnificent adornments of necklaces and bracelets’. Occasionally you might suddenly hear vague sounds of tinkling medals; this line refers to those.”

Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked the attendees to raise their hands if they had ever heard such sounds, smelled fragrant scents, felt the ground move, sensed great illumination emanating from a Buddha statue, or seen rain or snow fall from a cloudless sky.

(Many people present raised their hands one after another.)

“‘Lamps might increase with golden brilliance’—even when they are nearly out of oil and about to go out. You are bound to argue that it is normal for the flame to brighten briefly before a lamp goes out, but that is not what this refers to. I have seen it happen while conducting a retreat; when the lamp was just about to go out, its flame suddenly flared very bright, and continued even after all the oil was used up. This was a sign of the realization I had attained. ‘Voices might be heard emanating from the sky, instructing the practitioner to make wishes’, or ‘the hairs on his or her body might all raise on end’. These phenomena are experienced by master practitioners; they have not happened to you.

“The sutra reads, ‘If such phenomena appear, it means the practitioner has attained the siddhi he or she supplicated.’

“This means that some auspicious signs will appear, but they will not all appear at once; if that happened, you would not be able to bear it. These phenomena manifest individually. For example, when believers feel the ground move, it means that the practitioner who has achieved attainment is helping sentient beings to fulfill their wishes. If you hope to be reborn in the virtuous realms, for example, such a practitioner will help you get there, and likewise if you possess sufficient good fortune and wish to be reborn in the Pure Land. If you want to eliminate your karmic hindrances, he or she can assist you with that, too. Unless these phenomena have appeared, however, the practitioner has not achieved realization at all.

“Here the ground moving does not refer to earthquakes; those cause houses to topple and people to get hurt. Rather, this refers to the ground moving only slightly, and it will not be terrifying; it will not scare you so badly that you think it is an earthquake. If this sort of phenomenon has not manifested for you, then please just behave and listen, and do not try to compare yourselves with me, convinced that you will be accomplished just the same. These phenomena have manifested for me constantly ever since I conducted my retreats; they have not just appeared recently. They are manifesting in this lifetime due to the good roots I cultivated over my past lives.

“Why am I going out of my way today to mention these things? It is because I worry that you people are so self-righteous and full of nonsense. Many disciples are convinced that they can achieve attainment in any Dharma their guru transmits, including the ability to liberate deceased loved ones, but if none of these auspicious signs has appeared for them, then what makes them think that is true? This section of the sutra declares very clearly at the outset that even some practitioners who have conducted the Eight Precepts Retreat and are very pure, dedicated, and diligent still are unable to attain realization, so how can you be so sure that you have? Exactly what have you come to realize? The instant I give rise to a thought of helping someone, I am immediately able to do it; my every thought is bent on helping sentient beings—and this can only be called attainment because I am actually able to resolve their problems! Do you really think that occasionally witnessing a few signs means you are good at chanting?

“I deliberately chose these lines today in order to tell you that cultivation is both very easy and very difficult at the same time, because so many of you just do not listen. Why don’t you? It is because you are all so full of yourselves. The moment you think something is going to do harm, you shut your ears and stop listening. This is why it is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows that of all the beings in the entire universe, the humans of Earth are most difficult to tame, difficult to teach, obstinate, and conceited.

“The sutra reads, ‘No matter where such an accomplished practitioner goes, demons, ghosts, and deities dare not to invade or approach within a distance of one hundred or even a thousand yojanas.’”

Rinpoche called upon an ordained disciple to explain the meaning of ‘yojanas’. She replied, “I believe I once read that a yojana is thirty meters long.”

Rinpoche continued: “This line means that wherever I go, demons, ghosts, and deities do not dare to approach me. What about you? Never mind thirty or thirty thousand meters; none of those beings will be afraid of getting within even just one meter of you. In the sutra it is made especially clear that everything done by such awe-inspiring practitioners brings abundant benefits to sentient beings, so they cannot be irreverent or arrogant in the slightest. As is written in the Ratnakuta Sutra, if you show even the tiniest bit of arrogance or irreverence while practicing the Bodhisattva Path, then all of your merits will vanish. Thus, if you believe yourselves to be adept at cultivating, then merits will not have anything further to do with you.

“I am not expounding this part of the sutra to show off my prowess; I am just trying to tell you that this is what happens when one has attained realization. These phenomena are written in the sutra; they are not superstition, nor are they anything I make happen deliberately or have invented. Furthermore, I am not especially awesome for having experienced them; all these signs were mentioned by Bodhisattva Vajrapani. Why did he talk about them? It is because people of the world tend not to believe in anything unless they can see it with their own eyes, so he was pointing out to us that such phenomena indicate that that sort of practitioner has attained realization and should be relied upon. This is the goal here; it is not to show the I am better than you or paramount in my cultivation, because everything I quote from the sutras is meant to bring bountiful benefits and help to sentient beings. In other words, whenever I open my mouth—whether to scold you, exhort you, or even trick you—I am always doing it to help you; not to mention, I would never actually lie to you. However, the minute you feel hurt, you think Rinpoche is deceiving you.

“When I say ‘bring bountiful benefits to sentient beings’, I mean I do everything in the hope that their futures will go well—and even if they misunderstand my intent, it doesn’t matter. Why is particular mention made of this sort of thing in the sutra? It is so that sentient beings in the Age of Dharma Decline will understand. Even if you practice vigorously and have conducted the Eight Precepts Retreat, it does not mean you can attain realization; you cannot, unless you have an auspicious guru to help you. It is like how I am fortunate enough to have His Holiness as my guru; ever since, he has helped me, and continues to do so even now. Why should he help me? It is because the more he helps me, the more sentient beings I can benefit.

“If you do not listen to what your guru says, how can he assist you? It is not that I don’t want to; it is that you are refusing my help. Many people assume that supplicating to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will make everything A-Okay, but if that were the case, the sutra would contain a line that reads, ‘Imploring help from the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas allows one to attain siddhi’. Of course, that is not written in the sutra; instead, it is written that ‘helped and accompanied by a superior guru, one will quickly attain siddhi’. If even Bodhisattva Vajrapani were capable of misspeaking, then none of us would need to believe the Buddha, right?

“Why did he say that you need a superior guru to help you? It is because you are still just ordinary humans, and are therefore not yet qualified to gain the help of a Sambhogakaya Bodhisattva, let alone that of a Dharmakaya Bodhisattva. You can only receive the help of a guru, because gurus are emanations of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas—their compassionate representatives—so are the only ones who can assist ordinary people such as yourselves. If you do not listen, it won’t hurt your guru, because he just keeps cultivating and making dedications every day anyway. Why is it that some obtain benefits while others do not? The difference has to do with how serious their demonic hindrances are. If you have severe demonic hindrances, then your guru will still have ways to help you. Why do I scold you, send you away, kick you, and all that? A lot of people feel embarrassed at being reprimanded by their guru, but if you want people to respect you for appearances’ sake, then that means you have no substance. If you care so much about what people think about you, you will eventually lose everything.

“This section of the sutra just gives you a clear understanding that everything taught to us by the Buddha can be categorized as either external or internal phenomena. His teachings are most certainly verifiable; He did not make empty promises, and everything He said is recorded in the sutras. We must base our Buddhist practice on what is written in them; if something was not mentioned in the sutras, then we should not think the person speaking it to be remarkable in any way. For example, here in this section it is written that people who achieve attainment in chanting mantras will manifest auspicious signs. If something different from these suddenly appears, you should be suspicious of it, because there is no mention of it in the sutras.

“A little while ago I asked you whether you had experienced any of these phenomena mentioned in the sutra. You, too, have heard of them and perhaps seen or heard such signs; those are what are referred to here. You have toiled for so many years without understanding, so today I want to give you a clear idea of what they mean: Your guru has attained realization, and is not a mere ordinary person. If you doubt this, no worries; you might keep asking why I am capable of doing many things that you are not, but the key point is that having respect for one’s guru is very important.

“Today I am going to perform the Chod. If you have not achieved attainment in chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, then even if I transmitted this Dharma to you, it would be useless, because you are incapable of benefitting sentient beings.”

(While in the meditative state of Mahamudra, Rinpoche began to perform the auspicious Chod, liberating the deceased from their suffering. With supreme bodhicitta, he visualized himself making offerings to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and giving alms to all the sentient beings of the Six Realms using his blood, flesh, and bones, sparing nothing for himself. He then chanted the Great Six-Syllable Mantra for a very long time, filling the universe with his compassionate Dharma voice. Sensing Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s great, compassionate aspiration to deliver sentient beings from the endless suffering of rebirth, every single attendee was unconsciously moved to tears.

Upon the perfect completion of the ritual, Rinpoche led the disciples in the Dharma Protector Achi Ritual and dedication prayers.)

The guru then announced, “Next week, I will perform the Guru Yoga.”

Rinpoche asked a disciple who had been a monastic for more than thirty years, “Had you ever heard the sutra teachings I just expounded?” He replied, “No, Rinpoche, I report to you that I have not.” Rinpoche said, “And have you ever genuinely seen anyone achieve attainment in chanting mantras the way it was described in the aforementioned lines of the sutra?” He answered, “No, I have not.” Rinpoche asked, “Why not?” He said, “Because I have severe karmic hindrances.” Rinpoche said, “No; your karmic hindrances are not so severe, so don’t be so down on yourself. Don’t you monastics chant the Great Compassion Mantra and the Ten Short Mantras every day? Why haven’t you attained the realization mentioned in the sutra?” He then replied, “I have not transformed consciousness into wisdom, nor have I come to understand my mind and see its nature.” Rinpoche berated this disciple for speaking nonsense, and then asked another monastic, “What is this section of the sutra about?” She replied, “It is about not taking refuge in a meritorious guru.”

“I cannot blame that monastic for forgetting what is written in the sutra, because you are all like that. Whenever you have a problem, you look for me; whenever you are fine, you think you can just rely on your own prayers to Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara and Dharma Protector Achi. I’ve hit the nail on the head, haven’t I? You are exactly the same as he is. The reason Bodhisattva Subahu-Kumara specifically implored Vajrapani for advice is written at the very beginning of this section of the sutra: One absolutely must have the help and blessings of a guru before one can attain realization. This is written with crystal clarity. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas have never tried to fool us; it is you who are fooling yourselves. Each one of you thinks you are absolutely awesome.

“Yesterday, a believer came to implore me to liberate his mother, and the first thing out of his mouth was, ‘What can I do to make things a bit better for my mom?’ I was very pleased, because by saying those words, I did not need to do anything. In line with what is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, I told him, ‘First of all, you must donate all of your mother’s assets, in her name, toward a good cause; you must not divide them up.’ He asked, ‘Do you mean I should donate my portion to charity?’ I said, ‘No; all of it,’ and he immediately froze, completely stunned, because he had absolutely no way of doing that; he had brothers and sisters, and each one of them was scrambling to get a share of the money—so how could he take it away from them? The second instruction I gave him was to engage in Buddhist activities extensively. Many people assume this to mean going around to all the temples, lighting lamps and imploring for liberation for the deceased, and dropping a thousand NT dollars in the donation box and submit the deceased’s name. It’s like how, yesterday, two of my disciples—both of whom had taken refuge for more than a decade—came to implore for my help in transferring their mother’s consciousness. I told them each to perform three hundred grand prostrations. ‘Engage in Buddhist activities extensively’ means that we should all take part in all Buddhist activities on a broad scale, and in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings; doing this does not require a guru to be present. Can you do this? This is what Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha said to do. I also told that disciple that before his mother drew her dying breath, he should whisper into her ear, “I’m going to give this favorite jade bracelet of yours to charity’—but warned that if he said that, she might jump right up and slap him in the face. It’s no use; think about it for a moment: Do you know anyone who has ever donated all his or her parents’ wealth toward a good cause? I don’t need to ponder this, because I’ve already done it.

“You, on the other hand, have not done this; you have still not broken free of your attachments. Why did Ksitigarbha teach us to do this? First of all, it is to break the deceased from their attachments to material wealth. Secondly, it is to allow the deceased to gain enough good fortune to be liberated. Why do I always stipulate to those believers, who come imploring me to liberate their loved ones, that they absolutely must become vegetarians for life? What merits do you have, that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas would liberate them for you? What did your loved ones do while still alive? Can they be liberated just because they chanted Amitabha’s name, or because you recited a sutra for them? These disciples of mine understand this very well, which is why they are heeding Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s advice by accumulating good fortune for the deceased. Those of you who do not believe in the Buddha and have not taken refuge will just have to settle for second best, and refrain from killing for the rest of this lifetime. If you stop engaging in acts of killing, then you will give rise to good fortune; if you eat vegetarian in this life for the sake of the deceased, they will gain the good fortune that will make it possible for me to liberate them.

“I am not trying to strike a deal with you; I am simply repeating what is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows. If you continue to be too stingy to give up your money and take part in Buddhas activities on a broad scale, then by what reasoning should I or the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas be able to liberate those deceased loved ones? I often point out that Avalokiteshvara is the most compassionate Bodhisattva, so why has he still not liberated so many sentient beings? Just look at how many people die to car crashes every day. Why did that happen to them? It is precisely because they and their family members committed so many acts of killing over the course of their past lives. ‘Calamities and war’ are mentioned in the sutras, but because no major wars are happening right now, those people are dying in automobile accidents instead: Aren’t those injuries just like being hacked at by a soldier’s blade? No one believes in the sutras expounded by the Buddha. How can you implore Him for help? I just don’t get it.

“You keep hoping I will talk about subjects you can understand. What does it mean to ‘understand’? The sutras do not fall into our realm of academic knowledge. In school, ever since we were little, we have never studied the sutras, and even if you have, you are just like that disciple who was ordained more than thirty years ago: After so much talk, he still forgets his guru.

“Why do you forget? It is because you are accustomed to placing so much importance on yourselves. You think that you are participating in these pujas to make me look good. I don’t need you to make me look good; it is you who need to help the deceased. According to what is written in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, Ksitigarbha made a great vow to practice so that her mother would have an opportunity to attain Buddhahood in the future. Have you done this? You think that once your deceased loved ones are liberated, nothing matters anymore, and then you go off and eat meat and this and that, and your every action and thought ends up harming others. Even if the deceased can be liberated, there are many levels to it. For example, Ksitigarbha sold her mansion and made an offering to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas with all the proceeds. Even after putting forth such an enormous effort, she still was only able to help her mother to leave the Hell Realm and be reborn in the Human Realm with a very lowly status, as the son of a maid; what’s more, this child had a short lifespan of only thirteen years. The moral of this story is that when the deceased do not possess enough good fortune themselves, their living loved ones have to go to great lengths for them in order to relieve their suffering. Who would you say is doing more: Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha or yourselves?

“When Ksitigarbha was a Brahman girl, she had not encountered a meritorious guru who had mastered in mantras, which was why she used this method. You may use it, too; you can sell off your house and donate all the proceeds as an offering to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Do not give the money to me; I don’t want it. After that, you may engage in extensive Buddhist activities and initiate a great vow. Who among you is brave enough to do that? I am not asking whether you are willing or not; I am asking whether you dare to or not. You are scared of getting criticized by others: ‘Hey, it’s fine if you just believe, but don’t go getting all superstitious! Life is very important, as is your son’s education and paying our mortgage. You can go ahead and just give a little bit to charity from time to time; our deceased loved ones will get liberated just the same.’ If you do not trust in what is written in the sutras, then from now on you should never again claim to believe and worship the Buddha, because that could put you at risk of slandering Him. If you are unable to do what is written in the sutra, that’s fine, but you must believe that everything the Buddha said is absolutely true. I especially know their veracity, without a doubt, because I have been liberating people for decades. I am seventy-two years old this year, and I began liberating sentient beings in 1997. If I were no good at it, then I would have died a long time ago; even if I didn’t, then my face would have turned dark. An ordained disciple of mine had a darkened complexion when she first came here. Why had her face gone dark? It was because she had not achieved attainment. She was just trading her good fortune to deceased sentient beings, but because she didn’t have enough, her face darkened, for all their dark energy had gone straight into her. Even monastics are separated along very clear lines; some will never even touch liberation, am I right? This is because they are so afraid that they won’t be able to do it.” (A disciple who had been a monastic for more than thirty years responded, “That really is true.”)

Rinpoche continued. “With some monastics, if you tell them to perform recitation assistance for the deceased, they won’t do it. If it involves going together as a group of dozens of people, then they might, because they know the trade inside and out and are aware of the possible dire consequences of such acts—unlike you, who think that you will gain merits as long as you perform recitation assistance. However, you yourselves have not attained realization, so what makes you believe that you can make the deceased go to the Pure Land if you recite the sutras for them? In fact, the Buddha did not say this can work, nor is that practice written in the Amitabha Sutra. Anyone performing recitation assistance who is not pure of heart will cause the deceased to give rise to hatred, and that will make them go to the Hell Realm instead.

“As we saw a moment ago, it is stated quite clearly in the sutra that even if you have chanted mantras and recited Dharma texts, demons can still enter you the second you give rise to greed, hatred, or ignorance, or an irreverent and arrogant attitude. Even if you chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, they will still enter you via your chanting. Until you have cultivated compassion and developed bodhicitta, you only have one method at your disposal: To put complete trust in the fact that your guru can help you. There is no other way. In this Age of Dharma Decline, if we go by what is taught in the sutras, we have to be selective even when it comes to where to conduct retreats. For example, in our Tibetan Buddhist retreats, even the person who brings us our food must be pre-selected, as well as what food should or should not be served; we must be very clear about all these things. All of this is recorded in the sutras.

“Why don’t Dharma masters teach these things anymore? It is because they know that if they were to say such things, they would lose their popularity; all their followers would run off and not attend their pujas anymore. I am going to keep on saying them anyway, though, because I am not here to promote Buddhism for fame or gain; whether you make offerings or not is completely up to you. As long as I am unimpeded—which does not mean being able to live freely, but being able to benefit sentient beings without impediment—then I am fine; I will not allow myself to be bound by desires for fame or profit.

“Take, for example, the current construction of the new temple: We are still very short of funding, but I have never even considered organizing any fundraising events or seeking out major donors. If I possess enough good fortune, then I will naturally be able to complete this temple; if I do not, then seeking out major donors will just bind me to them—so what would be the point? My temple would turn into a family shrine for them, and I would be obliged to perform the Dharma whenever they visited. You monastics have encountered those sorts of major benefactors before, haven’t you? Rituals have to be performed the minute they show up, as if it’s their own family shrine. However, I won’t do it. A lot of people think constructing a new temple requires advertising on a broad scale so that many sentient beings can form a connection, but I simply refuse to do it that way, because I believe in connections. If people have connections with me or the Drikung Kagyu Order, they will naturally appear; if not, then broadly advertising the project could actually create chances for people to slander the Buddha.

“While practicing Buddhism, it is absolutely necessary to have faith. Believe in the Buddha’s teachings, and do not try to come up with your own brand; don’t practice according to your own ideas or methods, because doing so will absolutely lead you astray. Do not assume that making prostrations to the Buddha will spare you from mental illness, because you can still get it; I have met many such people. They fell ill because they did not listen, practice in accordance with the Dharma, or have the good fortune to find a meritorious guru. As that ordained disciple said just now, without good fortune, you cannot find one, even if one were right there in front of you; you would not even be able to recognize his prowess.

“This section I found today of the Tantras from the Buddhist Canon is just perfect for scolding you. Bodhisattva Subahu-Kumara starts out by asking Bodhisattva Vajrapani why it is that some practitioners fail to attain realization even after having conducted retreats and cultivated very diligently. Thus, exactly what sort of root capacity do you think you have? Do you think you can achieve attainment just from sitting there, casually chanting every day? This section of the sutra mentions many methods for achieving attainment, but I won’t get into them today. Of course, you are welcome to go home and read the sutra yourself, but doing so won’t help you, because those methods are useless unless a guru has transmitted them to you. After reading, you still would not be able to practice them, nor would you be able to find the right kind of location in which to conduct a retreat.

“Why do I want to build a temple? It is because in Buddhism, without a pure location in which to cultivate, realization cannot be attained within a single lifetime. Do not labor under the misapprehension that you can succeed just by practicing and chanting at home; if that really were possible, then His Holiness would not have had me conduct annual retreats ever since 1997. Only after I completed a three-month retreat in 2007 at the sacred site of Milarepa did His Holiness stop stressing retreats quite as much, though it is not that he stopped mentioning them altogether; occasionally he would still say, ‘Hey! You should do a retreat next year!’
“Retreats cannot be conducted just anywhere. Your chanting at home cannot be called cultivation; it is merely an assisting condition, which will help to form a more and more profound connection over time between you and your guru, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas. Do not assume you are practicing every day just because you tell others to keep it down and turn off the television and their phones while you are chanting. It is like that disciple a little while ago, who neglected to turn off his cell phone: He was unable to disturb me, but you, on the other hand, are susceptible to such commotions. Making everyone keep quiet at home while you chant is useless, because it is not written anywhere in the sutras that it is possible to attain realization that way. Instead, it is stated very clearly what sort of locations should be used, and for Tibetan Buddhism, distinct instructions are even written as to exactly how construct a retreat hut.

“Why should you go to so much trouble? In Zen Buddhism, isn’t it held that all phenomena are illusions? A retreat is a retreat, so what is the point of all this fancy stuff? We don’t have a choice; because we lack sufficient good fortune, we need help from a lot of assisting conditions. The day after I conducted that retreat in 2007, for example, I saw another Dharma protector appear next to Achi, come to protect me. I had not prayed for this to happen; he just manifested naturally, and I saw him quite clearly. Why do Dharma protectors appear? First of all, it happens when the person conducting the retreat deserves protection; second of all, it happens when he or she possesses enough good fortune to receive such protection; and thirdly, it happens when the practitioner needs that protection. Why would one need to be protected? Demons will come to hinder even Bodhisattvas of the Eighth Ground and above, and while attaining Buddhahood, Shakyamuni Buddha Himself encountered a seductress that attempted to stop Him. Just think how prone you are by comparison! By what reasoning do you believe it is okay to simply chant a bit at home? What makes you think Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara will descend to the mortal realm and let you become his little serving maids?

“Each and every one of you has such high expectations for yourself, but such a way of cultivation simply is not recorded in the sutras. After learning Buddhism from His Holiness for so many years, I know that it is indeed true that one must abide by everything written there. For example, wherever I conduct retreats, rules about what food is served have to be adhered to, and the timing has to be right; every aspect must be correct. Only then can you have enough good fortune to take part in a retreat, and after that, you still need Dharma protectors to protect you as well as a guru by your side. This is what the word ‘accompaniment’ refers to in the sutra.

“During my 2007 retreat, His Holiness stayed near me the entire time. He only began to travel the world after he felt sure that I would not die—but he still accompanies me when I go to India to conduct a retreat every year. A reasonable question would be that if retreats involve chanting by oneself, why does one’s guru need to be present? It is because that is what is written in the sutras. Therefore, I am not building this great new temple for myself or even for the Drikung Kagyu Order. I don’t think I’d be bragging to say that I have mastered chanting, or that I have a clear idea of how to cultivate. Attainment cannot be achieved simply by chanting alone at home; all you can hope for is to accumulate a tiny bit of good fortune that can be used in the Human and Heaven Realms. If it were possible, then Bodhisattva Vajrapani would have said, ‘No worries; just practice for one hour at home every day, and everything will be OK.’ However, he did not say that.

“There were married people in Vajrapani’s time who were able to achieve attainment in chanting mantras, too, so this was not limited to monastics or lay practitioners. As long as you aspire to cultivate the Bodhisattva Path, then you can do so; this is written in the Ratnakuta Sutra. Why am I constantly telling you to be modest, not be arrogant, and stop thinking that you don’t need to listen to what your guru says when he is not speaking about the Dharma? When a guru who has mastered chanting mantras opens his mouth to speak, his every word is a mantra. You must stop assuming that the Great Six-Syllable Mantra is the only mantra there is. My every word is a mantra, yet you still refuse to listen. If you don’t listen, then your karma, hindrances, and other problems will manifest, and that does not have anything to do with whether or not you have money or good health; rather, it means you will have issues in your Buddhist practice.

“It is written in the sutras that if you master chanting mantras, then its good fortune will enter your body—and that will alter your physical condition. However, it is also mentioned that chanting mantras can cause demonic hindrances to occur as well. The Buddha taught us everything; the problem is that sometimes we simply do not possess the causal conditions to listen. The impetus behind my recent trip to promote the Dharma at that old temple in Japan was when that statue of Avalokiteshvara started moving while I was chanting mantras; this provided me with the causal condition to go. I was afraid you would get superstitious, so I explained this incident in accordance with the sutra’s teachings. A disciple of mine just happened to come across this section, so I am using the opportunity to talk about you and reprimand you.

“The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are all compassionate toward you and help you to dispel your doubts and suspicions. You constantly harbor such doubts: Why can Rinpoche do so many things that we can’t? What exactly does he depend on? There are clear explanations of all these things in the sutras. In summary, Bodhisattva Subahu-Kumara saw people who still had not attained realization even after conducting retreats, so he asked Vajrapani about it, and Vajrapani answered.

“The Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center is different from other places in that I speak the truth. This means I repeat the Buddha’s words, and would not dare to utter what mere ordinary humans say. Normal people just say, ‘I thought it, so I learned it.’ As a practitioner, I am different from others; I have cultivated to the point of growing attuned with the sutras, and this has allowed me to know that I have attained realization. For example, a while ago, while I was chanting mantras, a light fragrance permeated the air. Those of you wearing face masks would not have been able to smell it, but it was certainly over here where the monastics are. This is mentioned in the sutra. Therefore, you really must discard your arrogance; if you do not, then as is written in the sutra, you will succumb to greed, hatred, and ignorance while chanting mantras or the Buddha’s name, and demons will be able to enter you. These sorts of demons cannot be sensed, and you won’t change into a different person overnight—but they will gradually transform the virtuous karma you have accumulated over your past lives and expose all your negative thoughts.

“This is the reason people fight with each other in many temples; their minds are inhabited by demons, so they look at everything with hostile eyes. As I have said before, Bodhisattvas do not discriminate between good and bad; they only look at cause and effect. They do not care if you are a good person or a villain; as long as you repent, aspire to bodhicitta, and make vows, then they, the Buddhas, and your guru will always help you. That is all I will say for today.”

Upon the perfect completion of the puja, all attendees expressed their gratitude to His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having performed the auspicious Dharma and bestowed compassionate teachings. They stood and paid reverent homage as the guru descended the Dharma throne.

« Previous – Puja TeachingsNext »

Updated on August 9, 2019