His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – October 20, 2019

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne and led those in attendance in Avalokiteshvara rituals, and he continued to expound on ‘Scroll 82, “Elder Ugra Assembly” (Chapter 19)’ of the Ratnakuta Sutra.

“During my teachings of the Ratnakuta Sutra last week, I mentioned that when lay Bodhisattvas see a bhikkhu without an orientation who needs clothes, or an alms bowl, etc., they must be charitable, and embrace him; and also persuade the ordained practitioners not to fight with one another. In some places, when laity see the ordained divided, they divide themselves too. Of course, this isn’t to encourage the laity to persuade others for their own interests. Nor is the point who is right and who is wrong. In such a case, one must persuade using only the Dharma and precepts Shakyamuni Buddha teaches. The laity must not say: ‘He’s not supposed to do that! Be more forbearing! He’s just quarrelsome!’ This is fighting, not persuasion.”

“People say that donating clothing and kasaya to the ordained plants a field of fortune, and call the kasaya ‘field of fortune robes’. But the Ratnakuta Sutra doesn’t say this! So then, how can cloth become a field of fortune? Does one’s clothing become field of fortune robes simply because he has shaved his head and taken the vows of the ordained? According to the Ratnakuta Sutra, if ordained practitioners don’t practice the Bodhisattva Path, then what he wears isn’t field of fortune robes. If the ordained give rise to vexations, desires, and untoward speech because of charity given by the laity, then how could this cloth possibly become field of fortune robes?”

“Prior to 1997, I didn’t dare to accept offerings. This isn’t because of how well or poorly I was doing in my cultivation, but rather because I wasn’t sure whether or not I had sufficient karmic fortune to offer in return. When someone gives to you, you must give up something to repay them. And so, the ordained have to consider what they can give up in return when someone gives to them in charity. Don’t think that it is enough just to transfer merits by reciting sutras, or reciting mantras. What matters is whether your own personal karmic fortune is sufficient. And what happens if it isn’t? Well, this is why we sometimes see so-called practitioners in poor health later in their lives.”

“Take me, for instance. Although I am old, and have a few minor ailments, I am still able to go on propagating the Dharma. So why is it others fall to bad health? It is simple: it is because they’ve given up the last of what little karmic fortune they had, and thus have run out. But why is it one can run out after giving to others? Because he doesn’t practice with bodhicitta. Only the laity and the ordained who practice with bodhicitta never run out of karmic fortune. What is this fortune for? It is for one’s practice.”

“Shakyamuni Buddha specifically told the ordained that when people give them clothing, they must not have any greed, vexations, or faults for them to have karmic fortune to give to them in return. Put in simple terms: they must uphold the precepts of the ordained. The ordained are supposed to give up all worldly objects, but as they have human bodies, they must still wear clothes. This is why they accept charity from the laity.”

“The ordained and the laity aren’t two separate factions. They are merely people of different causal conditions, and those with the conditions to be ordained in this lifetime become ordained. In reality, the ordained and the laity both rely on one another in their practices. Without the charity of the laity, the ordained would lack material resources, and it would be difficult for them to go on practicing. And without giving to the ordained, the laity wouldn’t be able to plant their fields of fortune. Thus, it is all a mutual give and take. Neither is above the other.”

“Many people think they are so great for giving to charity. But there is nothing so special about this. And those who accept also often think they are great for allowing others to plant fields of fortune. But both of these ways of thinking are wrong. Why is it I didn’t dare to accept offerings from people prior to 1997? Because I wasn’t sure if I had enough karmic fortune—not fortune of the Human and Heaven Realms, but rather the karmic fortune of a practitioner. Without any fortune, you cannot repay even a small piece of thread. Don’t think that being of ordained appearance means you should accept offerings.”

“Shakyamuni Buddha specifically taught the ordained the correct ways. Lay practitioners can use this to determine whether or not an ordained practitioner is being picky. When accepting charity, some say things like: ‘Shifu doesn’t like this color; Shifu prefers that kind of material; Shifu finds those robes more comfortable…’ But who knows if this is the shifu’s preference or his disciple’s? This is being picky, and in such a case, no field of fortune is planted.”

“The rules for what the ordained should wear are already fixed in Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism. When lay practitioners want to donate clothing, the ordained have the right and the responsibility to explain the rules to them, but not to be picky about what type of cloth they like. If you have the karmic fortune for it, not only is there good clothing available, even cashmere has been donated. But if you don’t have sufficient karmic fortune and you are given cashmere, a hole will be burned into it. And so, Shakyamuni Buddha specifically told the ordained: when receiving charity, one must not be picky, or give rise to thoughts of dissatisfaction.”

“Prior to 1996, I didn’t dare to accept offerings from anyone, and this went on until His Holiness told me that I could. Don’t think that I enjoy taking offerings; if they aren’t repaid, then one is doomed to reincarnate. Likewise, you will find that for many of those who make offerings to me or my temple, unexpected things often happen. And of course, these are all good things.”

“During my last visit to the guru I took refuge under in Tibet — Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche — there was a moment when he suddenly had his attendant search his seclusion room for nearly 10 minutes to find $500 RMB to give to me. At the time, I didn’t dare to take it from him. But he told me that I must, or else he would have a bone to pick with me — this is roughly what he said. And so, I obeyed, and took it. This is of great significance, though it is difficult to explain to you why. Those who don’t understand may think: ‘What’s the big deal? It’s only $500 RMB!’ And so, I won’t attempt to explain. But His Holiness and I, as guru and disciple, both know of the profound meaning in this. This isn’t simply an ordinary exchange of money. You could even say that the elder handed his entire inheritance over to me. And what does it mean when a practitioner hands his legacy over to you? On the surface, it just seems like money. But, in reality, it is of great significance.”

Sutra: “Wherever the ordained go, they should eat what is offered, and accept what seating is provided.”

“This phrase is more difficult to explain nowadays, as in current Chinese and Tibetan Buddhism, the ordained usually eat in temples, and seldom go out to beg for food. When Shakyamuni Buddha said ‘wherever the ordained go, they should eat what is offered,’ he meant that wherever you go, accept whatever the people there give you. And so, some wicked people would say: ‘See! Who says the ordained have to be vegetarian? Just eat whatever you are given.’ But in ancient India, meat was very difficult to get. And even now, a large part of the population of India is vegetarian. This is especially true in Southern India, where almost everyone is vegetarian.”

“In Taiwan, did people living in farming villages used to get meat for every meal? No. They only got meat during the Chinese New Year and other holidays. But in case they did get meat when begging, Shakyamuni Buddha made exceptions for meat of three purities and meat of nine purities. In simple terms, meat of three purities is: meat from an animal you didn’t kill, didn’t ask someone to kill, and didn’t see killed. This exception is for the ordained, who don’t know what they will receive when begging, and due to the precept that they should eat what is given.”

“Those people were not like you, who go to Northern India and get a buffet, and yet are still choosy over this and that. I struck a male ordained disciple’s head that day; he somehow thought that no one would dare hit him since he was ordained. Now you know why I hit him, right? What reason did I have for this? This phrase. The ordained do not have the right to be picky eaters. You eat what is available to you. Of course, this doesn’t mean you should eat poison, or things that are unsanitary. I myself don’t eat buffets, because I don’t like to choose my foods. I eat what I must of what I’m given, and if I don’t like something, I simply eat a couple bites less of it.”

“There is a basis for everything, and this is especially true for the rule that the ordained cannot be picky eaters. In reality, without a healthy mind, nothing you eat will be healthy. What does this mean? It means that if you have no field of fortune in your mind, nothing you eat will bring you fortune. Many people who have eaten meat get all kinds of diseases. All of you are familiar with this.”

“To explain this in literal terms, in the past, the ordained had to beg for food, but now they don’t, and so they must not criticize what the kitchen prepares for them. In modern temples, there are big kitchens, and often it is lay householders that prepare the meals there. These laity cook these meals as charity to you, though they still get paid as well. And so this is how the ordained should behave; they shouldn’t be picky and say what is good and what is bad, or complain when their cooks make the same meal over and over. Even the laity should avoid being picky, much less you ordained. Thus, in the literal sense, the sentence above specifies begging; but in reality, it is saying that the ordained cannot become cultivated when they are picky about even what they eat.”

“In the past, I have said that of the five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch) of the Five Roots (eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body), ‘taste’ is the easiest of the senses to cultivate oneself in. You can control taste. This isn’t saying that you can control what you feel, but rather that you can control what you taste, and increase or decrease that which you like and dislike. This is practicable. This is not to say that this isn’t possible with all of the senses. It is possible. But taste is the easiest to control. And for this reason, Shakyamuni Buddha specifically said that the clothing one wears firstly is the ‘touch’ of the senses. This isn’t directed at the laity; the laity can choose what they wear, as they buy their clothes with money they earned. But the ordained, on the other hand, do not have this right.”

“The sutras talk about planting fields of fortune. Where does such a field come from? Does one need only piece cloth together so that it looks like a kasaya to make a field of fortune? No. This is up to the wearer. When people make offerings to me, I often say: ‘How much money is there here? I will only take $1000 NTD; the rest you take it back.’ You’ll never hear me say: ‘How much money is there here? That’s not enough; take it back!’ At most, I may just reject some offerings. I don’t accept an offering if I don’t want to; why would I? Don’t think you are so great for donating offerings, and you can say a lot of nonsense to me.”

“This passage from the sutras reminds the ordained that they must be mindful, and the laity must do so as well. If your wife cooks the same thing every day, that is your karma too, and nothing can be done about it. Of course, this doesn’t mean you can’t ask your wife: ‘Can we try something new?’ But you must not get angry.”

“‘Accept what seating is provided’ refers to the ancient practice of giving the ordained a mat or chair after donating food so that he may sit while eating. Thus, it means that whatever they give you to sit on, you should accept it without being picky.”

Sutra: “Know contentment and thus give rise to praise.”

“When the ordained accept charity, they should know contentment immediately, and praise the giver for the charity. In this way, there can be a field of fortune; the food given will produce a field of fortune for the giver. But if you just think that it’s not something that you want to eat, and that you must have bad karma for having received it, then there is no field of fortune. The same applies if someone gives you a round stool or plastic chair, and you think: ‘Why are they giving me this when my back hurts?’ or ‘He’s giving me such a hard plastic chair; what if I fall?’ This is not knowing contentment.”

“We must understand that every bit of money in the temple is the property of the Buddhist establishment. If you have good karmic fortune, you will ascend to the Dharma throne just as I have. If not, then for you, just having somewhere to sit is fortunate enough. Those who have gone with me to India have seen what the ordained there sit on. They get rugs only when there is a grand puja; otherwise, all they have to sit on is grass. They are nowhere near as comfortable as you, who notice when there is a crease in your mats, want your lotus flower patterns on bottom, and care if your mats are soft enough, or if you’ll get rashes when it gets hot and humid, and so on. You think I must have been ordained in the past, as I talk just like one of you ordained practitioners. This goes to show that I must have been ordained in a past life.”

Sutra: “Do not give to untoward speech over seating.”

“No matter where you ordained may go in the future, if someone provides you with a chair, you should praise them. If it is really uncomfortable, you can say something first. But if you still are uncomfortable after that, then you should sit in spite of this. An ordained practitioner once came and knelt before me, and he made a gesture, and I offered him a chair. He didn’t actually need to kneel; he could have first told me that he had leg problems, and I wouldn’t have blamed him. There was no need for him to do this affected routine and make me sad, so that I asked myself why I had let him kneel. This caused me vexation. You’ve all seen that when older folks come to see me, I always have them sit. I am not one to quibble over such matters.”

Sutra: “Do not distress or give rise to worry when you don’t obtain what you desire.”

“This passage means the same as what I said earlier. Don’t distress over that which you are unable to obtain, or give in to a worried state of mind as a result.”

Sutra: “Not polluted with attachment, the pure mind will become free of pettiness and unbound.”

“We shouldn’t become polluted with attachment over seating. For instance, we, the vajra gurus, often get reprimanded and reminded that during pujas, we should not mind where our seats are, how high they are, who we are sitting next to, or try to get somebody else’s seat or fight for the Dharma seat. This is wrong. Whenever I attend a puja, I just sit wherever His Holiness has arranged. If someone won’t let me sit where His Holiness assigns, then I just sit with the audience off stage. One time in India, I wasn’t allowed to go where His Holiness had arranged for me to sit, and so I sat off stage. Later, a Rinpoche ran down to me, and I had no choice but to go back to sit on stage.”

“This phrase means that if you can be of mind that is pure and not polluted with attachment, you can become less petty, and won’t cling to the idea that you must have a certain seat to show your status, and show that you are a practitioner. This is also a problem among the laity. For instance, a general manager may think that he or she must sit in a certain kind of chair, and so on. It is the same sort of thing.”

Sutra: “Know your mistakes, and your purpose of liberation, and thus know contentment.”

“We must know that these things are wrong, and understand that we practice for the purpose of renouncing reincarnation. In doing so, we can naturally know contentment. Why is it the lay practitioners experience so much dissatisfaction? Because they don’t know contentment, and even find faults in their guru. A disciple left recently because he was unhappy with his guru. I often say that I accept your refuge under me with a pure mind. Take, for instance, the story the disciple just shared before this puja. I didn’t ask of anything from them, and I never took any offerings from them. I even paid for the funeral arrangements for his family.”

“What this means is that if you don’t practice with the purpose of renouncing the mundane world, then you naturally will find conflict with the Dharma taught by Shakyamuni Buddha, and the Dharma methods instructed by your guru. And thus, you will be prone to feeling dissatisfaction with your guru. And when someone says something a little disrespectful about the Three Jewels, you will likely absorb it, because you are of impure mind. In my own experience, when studying Exoteric Buddhism, I never had any disrespectful or impure attitude toward my master or shifu. I later came to study Esoteric Buddhism, and His Holiness took me as a disciple. From the past to the bounds of the future, I am never of impure mind, and so when others speak with irreverence toward the Three Jewels, my mind naturally doesn’t stir.”

“Why is it that doubts, and thoughts that your guru is wrong or incorrect arise in you? Because you are in the wrong to begin with. It is like what His Holiness has said so many times before: When a guru sits upon the Dharma throne, he represents the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas in propagating the Dharma. But if you believe your guru is an ordinary person, you can only attain ordinary person’s blessings. And if you believe he is wrong, that is an error on your part, not his, as you don’t believe in the purity of the Dharma, and are using your own life experiences to critique it. You only want to hear what you want to hear. That is, you want to hear whatever will satisfy your desires and actions.”

“I often emphasize that in the eyes of the Bodhisattvas, there is no division between good and evil; they merely benefit sentient beings based on causal conditions and cause and effect. Thus, the teachings of the sutras tell the ordained not to discriminate between good and bad, but rather to understand that your practice is about cultivating to leave reincarnation. When you cultivate yourself in this way, you can naturally know contentment, as you cannot take the good and bad with you. Why is it some people don’t know contentment? Why do they suffer so many vexations? Why is there so much bickering over right and wrong? Because people don’t know contentment. For those who know contentment, it is easy to let things go, and not give rise to vexations.”

“I often say that to learn the Dharma, one must have powerful renouncement mindedness (mind to renounce reincarnation), but not ‘disgust and reject.’ Many people want to hasten their deaths so that they can go to the Amitabha’s land. This is called ‘disgust and reject.’ And what happens when we are disgusted? We are unable to repay our karma. Renouncement means understanding that our current lives are retribution for karma from our past good and bad deeds. And since we know our lives are this way because of the past, through study, heeding of the Dharma, and the supervision and guidance of our gurus, we aim to no longer create bad karma. This is the only way to achieve renouncement. Any time a wicked thought arises, bad karma is created, and it will take us back to the cycle of reincarnation! You don’t even have to die for the cycle of reincarnation to begin.”

“Many people have warped views of the Dharma because they don’t have a guru to explain the sutras to them clearly. They merely learn the Buddhist terminology. But learning terminology isn’t cultivation. The meaning behind what the Buddha says in the sutras is extremely profound. It isn’t like you think: that one need only explain what the texts say. Take, for example, the phrase ‘Wherever the ordained go, they should eat what is offered, and accept what seating is provided.’ This phrase from the sutras is based on the way things used to be. But the way the ordained live nowadays is different. So does this mean they need not follow this rule? No, because the ordained still rely on charity from other Buddhists for food. Even if it is your mom and dad who feed you, this is charity to you, and so what right do you have to be picky? This is especially true when you go abroad with me. Our disciples’ offerings pay for your meals, and yet you ordained laugh merrily at your tables, rest your chins on your hands, and are picky and choosy, because you don’t understand this. Ordained practitioners who understand this phrase wouldn’t do such things; they would happily let others take their food first.”

“In order to train the laity in respecting the ordained, I let the ordained take their food first. The ordained thought they were big shots, and that they could take their time picking out what they wanted and filling their plates while the others waited. This is why they were punished. It was based on this phrase. But at the time, I hadn’t yet seen this phrase. Today I am explaining it to you. This phrase was spoken by Shakyamuni Buddha. And on that day, it was Shakyamuni Buddha that told me to hit that ordained disciple’s baldhead. He couldn’t believe it, thinking who could be hitting him? As it turns out, it was his Rinpoche.”

“Of course, the laity need not do exactly as the ordained. But still, we must be able to be at ease when faced with any situation. When we are given food, regardless of how it might taste, we should be grateful as long as it is vegetarian. If someone accidentally gives you something non-vegetarian, you must still be grateful that he had the intent of feeding you. If he doesn’t understand, tell him you are vegetarian. If he speaks harsh words to you, simply listen; this is helping you get rid of karmic hindrance. For example, when I first became a Buddhist and started eating vegetarian, some of my friends said I must have done a lot of bad things in the past, so I became a vegetarian. Naturally, I admitted that I had done many bad things. If I hadn’t, then would I have come back and met you in this lifetime? No. I’m not as bad as you, and yet we are bad together. Thus, this is collective karma. Had I already cultivated myself to Bodhisattva-hood, would I come back, and encounter you? I just don’t know what I owed you in past lives that I now have somehow been brought back by you.”

“After admitting that I was bad, none of my friends said this to me again. If you are afraid to admit this, then just say that you will vomit if you eat meat. It’s just like when I became a vegetarian before I had taken refuge. One of my family members said to me: ‘What kind of man eat vegetarian? You won’t have strength eating vegetarian.’ And so I let her see me vomit. You can vomit in front of your boyfriends as well. I’m sure that if a man sees you vomit every day, he will eventually break up with you. If one of my female disciples who has already taken refuge under me dates a man who eats meat, then I don’t want you to come back to see me.”

“Don’t think that you can change him. If he doesn’t listen to you before you’ve gone all the way, will he listen to you after? In my experience in my 72 years, the answer is no. This is a lack of renouncement mindedness. You think it’s no big deal, and you just want to get married. I won’t stop you from getting married, and the sutras don’t say that you can’t get married either. But you can be selective, okay? Don’t be without standards. The same goes for male disciples. There are 7.1 billion people on earth, and 23 million people in Taiwan. There may be fewer males, but still, you must be selective! I don’t believe that you can’t find someone who is vegetarian. It is just that you don’t care about this, and you just want your prince charming. In the west, prince charming always eats meat; what prince charming is a vegetarian? And so, if you want a prince charming, you have to be aware that he definitely eats meat.”

Sutra: “Don’t praise yourself in disparagement of others.”

“When you receive a good offering and someone else gets something bad, don’t think that this is because you’ve done well in your practice, and this is your karmic fortune. And don’t think that the other person isn’t cultivated enough, and thus deserved what he got. How do you know he isn’t cultivated enough? Shakyamuni Buddha once received a mere thread from someone else’s clothes. Does this mean he wasn’t cultivated enough? In the end, the woman who gave him the thread became a princess. Thus, charity isn’t about what you give, but rather your mindset. Are you giving with sincerity? Does the person you’re giving to have karmic fortune with which to repay you? If not, even if you give him mountains of gold and silver, you won’t get any karmic fortune in return. But if the person possesses karmic fortune, you will receive it too.”

“This phrase is clear. Don’t think that your gains are because you have done well in your practice, and that others’ lack of gains are because they haven’t. This is praising oneself in disparagement of others.”

Sutra: “Have joy in severance, renouncement, and practice.”

“Practitioners should find severance from all vexations to be the greatest joy. Of course, in modern society, it isn’t easy to cut ourselves off from all of our vexations. But we must understand that vexations are self-inflicted. No vexations come looking for us. We bring them all upon ourselves; they are self-created, and self-imagined. So-called joy in severance from vexations means that the good and bad karma we’ve created in past lives has made it so our current lives are filled with ups and downs; and, so, who would dare to go on creating new vexations? Thus, we have joy in severance.”

“Why must one be vegetarian to practice the Dharma? So that we no longer owe life debts to sentient beings. If you continue to eat meat, you will have to keep repaying these debts. There is a lot of wicked saying that goes, ‘the sooner an animal dies, the sooner it gets liberated.’ So why is it those who say this don’t let themselves die first? There is also another wicked speech that goes, ‘ when an animal dies, you can recite the Great Compassion Mantra and the Rebirth in the Pureland Mantra for it, and it will be reborn in the Good Realms.’ But ask yourself: do you yourself have the ability to go over to the Amitabha’s Land? And if not, what makes you think that by reciting a few words, you can bring an animal to the Good Realms? This is all wrong view that comes from one’s desire for food. The saying ‘meat and liquor pass through the colon [but the Buddha still remains in one’s heart]’ cannot apply before one has become cultivated in emptiness. It will go through your colons too, but you will get cancer — colon cancer.”

“And so, we take joy in severance from our vexations when we believe we are practicing the Dharma not with hatred, dislike, or rejection toward our vexations, but rather so that we can learn how to sever them. It is like when I perform Chod; the name of my Dharma text is called ‘break away.’ If you can let go of even your body, then what is there that you can’t let go of? Our biggest problems are our desires, thoughts, demands, and fantasies. These cause us vexations in our Buddhist practice. Thinking that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and your guru don’t listen to you, that your guru aren’t helping you, and disliking what your guru says are all examples of vexations.”

“When you take joy in severance from vexations, you will naturally demand less. Having joy means cultivating mind of renouncement happily, understanding that worldly affairs are all born of causal conditions, and being able to live your life in accordance with your karmic condition. Moreover, having joy in one’s practice means having delight in one’s heart throughout the process of one’s Buddhist practice, rather than practicing for the purpose of repaying debts or not suffering in the future. Such an attitude is not joy in practice. I’ve said before that when you initiate bodhicitta, everything bad may happen all at once. And when this happens, you will surely feel bad for yourself, and regret doing so. But you should be congratulated, as you are repaying a debt. This isn’t a bad thing, as you would have had to repay it anyway — and, what’s more, repay it in hell. Originally, you were going to get cut up in surgery before dying, but since a few simpler bad things have happened to you already, now you won’t be met with this heavy retribution.”

“Those who don’t have renouncement mindedness and joy in practicing the Dharma are filled with worldly desires, and when their guru are unable to fulfill them, they leave. But if I am supposed to fulfill your desires, speaking conscientiously for you, what are you contributing? Even when I’m building a Buddhist temple to preserve my lineage, over 700 of you disciples don’t show your support. And why is this? Because they think that what their Rinpoche is doing has nothing to do with them. They think that they need only do their recitations and make prostrations before the Buddha, and everything will be fine. How are you supposed to succeed in your practices when you don’t even partake in the good deeds of your guru? By success, I don’t mean you will be free from sickness or become rich, but rather, you most certainly will meet with hindrances in your practice.”

Sutra: “And thusly, have joy in severance, renouncement, and practice without self-praise.”

“When we receive help from others (for the laity, this is help; for the ordained, it is charity), we should take joy in severance in this way — meaning, as mentioned before, not complaining about this and that. This is severance of vexation. Joy in renouncement means departure from all greed, praise, and reputation to renounce the mundane world while refraining from disparaging others. ‘Joy in practice without self-praise’ is difficult to explain. To not self-praise means don’t think so highly of your own cultivation, or think you’re doing well in your practice just because you’ve met with some success. The Ratnakuta Sutra states that this is ‘conceit,’ and when ‘conceit’ arises, all merits disappear. Trust me; I’ve seen this a lot.”

“I once saw a Dharma master give a speech, and when he turned around afterwards, he had that kind of expression like I just said, thinking he was being praised. And so, he suffered greatly in death. Logically, with so many disciples having taken refuge under him, this shouldn’t have happened otherwise. You ordained mustn’t be complacent. We can’t be complacent prior to fruition and orientation. Why is it I didn’t dare to accept offerings before? Because I had not yet become oriented. And once one becomes oriented, he must be even more careful, and even more so must gradually consolidate himself at every step in his practice, as a change of thought can turn all of his merits into karmic fortune. You can’t use your karmic fortune in this lifetime; you must wait until next lifetime to use it. Furthermore, karmic fortune cannot change the karma of your accumulated lifetimes.”

Sutra: “Elder: an ordained Bodhisattva should be of these four noble acts. And, Elder: ordained Bodhisattvas should wear their vestments with ten merits. What are these ten? For humility.”

“The Buddha told Elder Ugra that only in this way is ‘an ordained Bodhisattva … of these four noble acts.’ The Buddha said that ordained Bodhisattvas should accept the clothes on their backs with ten kinds of merit. What ten? [First] is for humility. But why must one have such attitude? Because he is a beggar, and thus should be ashamed? Is accepting charity shameful? Should I be repentant when someone gives to me in charity, because I am useless? No; that is not what this means. Rather, it is about humility, humility, and more humility. From the perspective of the Dharma, there should be ten humilities, as when you aren’t humble, you give rise to desire, and don’t know gratitude. And when you don’t know gratitude, you naturally are ungrateful. And when you are ungrateful, you naturally don’t repay gratitude. And when you don’t repay gratitude, how can you bring yourself you share your karmic fortune with others?”

“As laity, you should know gratitude even when drinking a glass of water. Why is it so many people get into a fight over petty spending? Because they don’t know gratitude. If you spend a little bit of money for someone to prepare a meal for you, and then you don’t like it, then can’t you just not go back? There is no need to go on the internet and try to tear other people down. A lot of people eat at those restaurants, and if they don’t do a good job cooking, they will be met with the fruits of their own negative cause and effect. So why do you need to try to bring them down with your own two hands? You can try to give them advice, or even little warnings, but there is no need to go that far!”

“Have you considered that when you are unable to make food for yourself, if you spend a little money, someone will cook for you in a restaurant made up all nice for you, and let you sit somewhere comfortable with air conditioning? So what more do you want? It wasn’t until I started business in the food industry that I realized it’s a money-losing business. And those who operate conscientiously absolutely don’t make any money. People want low prices, good food, quality products, sanitary conditions, pleasant decoration, and sufficient air conditioning, but they don’t want to spend the money! How is this possible? I’m not like you; I know contentment. And so, as I’m losing money on you every month due to this food business, I just consider it a burning off of my bad karma and continue.”

“Also, I don’t like eating out anymore. I prefer eating in my own restaurants. Several of my restaurants have been honored with awards from the government for excellent sanitation standards. What other restaurants have this? Have you looked? Even major restaurants don’t get this! One has to meet over 200 different conditions, and you don’t get the award if you fail just one! Also, this isn’t something you can apply for; the inspections are random. You don’t know how hard I’ve worked, making everything clean and spotless for you to eat. But no one wants it. You just want to go to those 200-yuan eat-until-you-vomit places. Where are you going to find something that cheap? Right now, nothing is cheap. I’m not in this business for my own benefit. If you want to be in the food business while being conscientious, you really can’t make any money.”

“Yesterday, I was watching TV, and a pastry chef said something nice. When he kept failing to make a certain type of pastry, he finally said: ‘I can’t do it, because I know the ingredients aren’t good enough.’ So tell me, is anything cheap? If you want something cheap, make it yourself. But cooking at home isn’t cheap anymore either. A lot of soy sauce is made from chemicals, and it’s bad for your stomach. For those who haven’t studied the Dharma, there are a lot of things that I don’t know how to explain; but those who have learned the Dharma know the horrors of cause and effect. Even if you’re going to lose money, you can’t let people eat things that will give them stomach problems.”

“Thus, for humility, when receiving, one must give rise to humble mindedness. Don’t try to outmatch others, comparing what you should get and whether or not it is better. Rather, what are called for are humility, humility, and more humility. When humble, whether ordained or a layman, you will lessen your vexations. Don’t think that your daughter-in-law should wait on you, or that your children should to be dutiful, or that your grandchildren should treat you well. If you are humble, even when your past-life friends, foes, and karmic creditors come to beat you up, when they see you show humility, humility, and more humility, they may beat you less. This is absolutely true.”

“Before, when my son was young and would fight, whenever I saw him show a lot of humility, I would hit him less, as I couldn’t bring myself to strike him. But anytime he was arrogant and aggressive, I would hit him more. This is how people’s minds work. And the same goes for all the sentient beings you have harmed. And so, when I perform the Chod, it is clearly stated in the Dharma text that as the Chod means to give alms, I am offering my whole body over for them to eat, and to lessen their hatred, as I am being humble times over, and pleading with them. And so, when their hatred lessens, the forces of harm working against you are also reduced. Why is it sentient beings want to harm you? Because of what you have done! You have eaten from their flesh, and drank from their blood. Who else would they go after? How could you not have ailments?”

“We must maintain humility toward other people and things. Rather than merely repeating the slogan ‘humility, humility, and more humility,’ we must put this into practice. This doesn’t mean we have to live our lives letting ourselves be wronged, or acting like servants all day long waiting on others. It’s not like that, but rather has to do with our mindset. When someone gives us a bit of help, we should be humble, and know gratitude. Only those who know gratitude can repay it. Don’t think that just saying you are grateful means you really are. Grateful for what? You can’t even come up with an answer. And so, this phrase is very important. Whether laity or ordained, we all must have this kind of mindset.”

Sutra: “For clothing. For mosquitoes. For storms.”

“Second is for clothing. This means for matters related to the clothing you wear, such as your kasaya, etc. For mosquitoes means for mosquitoes, as in the insects. For storms means even in stormy winds. For example, before typhoons, I always perform the Dharma. Does this mean that the typhoons disappear after I finish? No. They cannot disappear, as this karma is already set. But it lessens their harm a bit, as these typhoons certainly have ghosts, sentient beings, goblins, and demons, which would cause terror for you at the very least. I don’t dare say this is because I redirect the typhoons. But think about it; over the past few years, haven’t all the typhoons turned in other directions? I dare not say this is because of my individual abilities; however, I do believe that due to the constant rituals I perform, Taiwan has gained a bit of karmic fortune, and this kind of fear has lessened. These phrases mean that as Buddhist practitioners or the ordained, we must be repentant. For our appearances, mosquitoes, and incoming storms, we must pray for blessings for all sentient beings. And so, according to the Tantra, performing rituals during solar and lunar eclipses, earthquakes, major storms, and floods is the greatest merit. Thus, we mustn’t hide when strong winds come blowing.”

“About a decade ago, during the SARS epidemic, everyone was afraid of becoming infected, and only I, not fearing death, was willing to take my disciples all over Taipei to perform the Chod. At the time, a high-ranking official came and asked me when the epidemic would end, and I said it would end in mid June. Why is it I dared to say it would end mid June? I did rituals everywhere, and did the most in the Datong District. My viewpoint was simple: it is for storms, and for mosquitoes. By this, I mean that I wouldn’t stop doing rituals for mosquitoes, thinking little of them, as though they were not lives themselves. And also, that I wouldn’t hide from incoming storms in the face of danger. And so, that year, I went everywhere. The hospital Disciple Hsieh used to work at was a SARS specialty hospital, and I went and performed the Dharma there as well. He was lucky to come across a Rinpoche who doesn’t fear death, though I wasn’t a Rinpoche yet at the time. My disciples also had faith that I wouldn’t die, and so accompanied me for these rituals. It all comes from these phrases. Have you done these things?”

“When a storm comes, you do recitations so that it won’t blow over your own families. I remember before, when there was major flooding around the Minsheng Community. At the time, I hadn’t yet learned the Tantra, and the administrator asked me to get my car out of the underground area as soon as possible before it flooded. As I went downstairs, I thought: ‘Wait, this isn’t right. The sutras clearly say that if one recites the Great Compassion Mantra, the flooding should stop.’ And so, I ran back to recite it, and the flooding stopped. At the time, the gate was still open, as the track had been covered in cement, and so they couldn’t close it, and water kept flooding in. After I went back to recite the Great Compassion Mantra, the car was gone. Older folks all remember the flooding back then was awful. Places were flooded above their second floors. But there was only one death. It comes from this. This means that you don’t become ordained for enjoyment, to avoid suffering, or to learn. Rather, it is for these reasons that you become ordained. And as a lay Rinpoche, I practice for these same reasons as well.”

“Although Shakyamuni Buddha is specifically referring to the ordained here, the laity must have the same attitude. When there is a crisis, we light an incense stick for the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and hope that they will bless all sentient beings and protect them from suffering. Even if one cannot change fixed karma, you are still a practitioner. For example, if you say something like: ‘My son is still down south, please bless him and let him return north safely.’ Then you might as well practice the non-Buddhist path. Lots of people say things like: ‘Recite the Great Compassion Mantra so that my son has a smooth trip.’ This is a lack of faith that only the methods the Buddha teaches are true and correct. Everyone is selfish and self-interested. But if the whole world falls apart, can we still go on living? Why is it I always advocate that all puja attendees should eat vegetarian? If we can eat vegetarian, we can kill fewer beings, and reduce some of the problems of the world. This is karmic fortune both for you and for sentient beings. No one believes the Dharma is something you have to do yourself. People think that if they just attend pujas, they know what they need to know, and they can go home and have their blessings. If this were the case, I wouldn’t need to cultivate. I’ve said this before over and over: if that were the case, then I would need only call up His Holiness every day, and have him bless me. He definitely would do it. And would I need to go on practicing then? You all want to enjoy good lives. Every day I am performing the Chod while you are living comfortable lives.”

Sutra: “Not for sensation or good fortune.”

“We practitioners must not act for the sensations of the five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste, and touch), or seek the best in fortune for ourselves.”

Sutra: “For sramana likeness and precept appearance.”

“This means that everything you do is for the sake of being ordained. Precept appearance means you must be able to show others. Others don’t know if you’ve earnestly held to your inner vows, because they can’t know such a thing without divine knowledge. But you must be able to display proper behavior and appearance. Why is it that when the ordained disciples are laughing at meals and being picky eaters, I reprimand and hit them? Because they are not behaving in sramana likeness. To put it another way, are we laity of layman appearance? Everyone says that the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center is strict. This is true, because I discipline you strictly. If you behave yourselves when you go out, and people think highly of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, who stands to gain karmic fortune? You! Who is Glorious Jewel? The founder Lord Jigten Sumgon. As long as the disciples of our Buddhist Center behave, comply with the Dharma, and respect the Three Jewels, people will praise us, and both sides will gain karmic fortune. Why must I be so strict? I could always just put up with your bad behavior and let you do what you want. After all, this would be better for me. Why tire myself out yelling at you? Because this all comes from the sutras.”

“The sutras teach us a lot. For the sramana, there is sramana appearance. Why do people give offerings to the ordained? Because at the very least, they have done as the sramana should in terms of appearance, rather than failing to live up to this appearance. So then, why is it these ordained disciples let me see them do those little gestures? What’s wrong with resting your hands on your cheeks at the dining table? Or laughing with others at the table after you’ve eaten your fill? Or being picky eaters? Of course these things are not okay! Because this doesn’t fit what Shakyamuni Buddha has taught us at all. Although I haven’t taken the vows of the Bhikkhu Precepts in this lifetime, I know them. I’m not sure how I know them. Perhaps I was really ordained in a past life; otherwise, there is no way ordained disciples would take refuge under me in this lifetime. If I hadn’t understood these things in a past life, His Holiness would be the first one to say to me: ‘What are you doing taking on ordained disciples!’ And so, you don’t have the right to criticize. Has His Holiness visited our Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center? (The attendees respond: ‘Yes.’) And has he seen the ordained of our Buddhist Center? (Everyone responds: ‘Yes.’) At first, His Holiness didn’t know this, and called them Dharma-masters. But he doesn’t call them this anymore, because he knows they are my disciples. If I wasn’t supposed to let ordained disciples take refuge under me, his Holiness may even reprimand me publicly. Don’t think that His Holiness would feel too bad to yell at me. He will still yell at me.”

“Yell at me for what? If a disciple doesn’t have the right mindset, he must be reprimanded. Furthermore, His Holiness is training me. It is like when the Venerable Milarepa was scolded by the Venerable Marpa. There is no way to avoid being scolded, unless you stop being my disciple. Just like how one disciple left because he didn’t want to be scolded by me. So then, why do you I scold you? It is not to make you listen to me. Rather, it is to teach you in accordance with what the sutras tell us so that you may renounce reincarnation. Otherwise, I guarantee you wouldn’t be able to. I can’t live to be 100 and wait for all of you to pass first before I die. I would truly be pitiful if I did. What do I mean by this? Without resolute renouncement mindedness, when the day comes that I’m not around, how are you going to escape reincarnation? Don’t be so dependent, thinking ‘Rinpoche won’t die.’ I’m always saying: ‘My time here is limited.’ I don’t believe that I’m going to be able to live to be 100, or even 90.”

“The Ratnakuta Sutra is specifically for those cultivating themselves on the Bodhisattva Path. And although this section is for the ordained, who is imploring the Dharma? A layman. Logically, a layman shouldn’t be asking about how the ordained should act. But this passage is special; it is a layman asking Shakyamuni Buddha about how the ordained should conduct themselves.”

“It isn’t that the Buddha wants to put down the ordained. Rather, he wants them to be of a certain appearance. Shakyamuni Buddha is so compassionate. He told the ordained that if they aren’t of this appearance, and aren’t of karmic fortune and merits, and yet they still accept offerings, there is a phrase for this: ‘There are many of the sangha at the gates of hell.’ It comes from this phrase. Likewise, if lay practitioners aren’t earnest about making offerings to the ordained, they will go to hell too. Why is it that of my ordained disciples, with the exception of those who can look after themselves, I am the one taking care of all the others, and giving offerings to them. It is not because I am greedy and want all of the karmic fortune and merits for myself. Rather, for one, it is because they are not qualified to accept your offerings. And secondly, it is because I fear that you will be discriminating, and say things like: ‘That ordained practitioner is doing well in his recitations; I’ll give him a little more,’ or ‘This ordained practitioner is not of such good appearance; I’m going to give him a little less.’ You are all like this. This is clear at grand pujas.”

“As your Rinpoche, I have my reasons for everything I do, and they all come from the sutras. I do not make these things up. I am not qualified to invent Dharma, or speak new Dharma. The Dharma is what Shakyamuni Buddha speaks and my guru passes on to me. And I pass it on to you.”

Sutra: “This dyed cloth. It has all humans, heavenly beings, asuras, and sentient beings give to you as though to a pagoda.”

“This is a powerful phrase. The Buddha says that the appearance vows of you ordained are the precepts you have taken, and that you must uphold all of them. Regarding the kasaya you wear: they used to be called white robes for the laity, as they were un-dyed, whereas the ordained wore dyed robes. For this reason, some Dharma centers now have their laity wear white. But this isn’t necessary, as the system is already set; what is worn in Esotericism and Exotericism, and what style ordained robes come in, etc., is all clear, so there is no need to go out of the way to dress in white. At the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, I give you all red vests to wear, symbolizing that you may become ordained in the next life. You certainly won’t become ordained in this life, as I myself am not yet ordained.”

“So then, how do you turn monastic’s robe into a field of fortune? The answer comes from this phrase. If you don’t uphold your appearance precepts properly, humans, heavenly beings, and asuras will see you merely as an ordinary person rather than a practitioner. And not being a practitioner, they will naturally see you as without karmic fortune, and you won’t have karmic fortune to give to sentient beings. Here, Shakyamuni Buddha specifically explains how to make humans, heavenly beings, asuras, and sentient beings revere you like a Buddhist pagoda. A pagoda isn’t the Buddha’s Sambhogakaya or the Buddha’s Dharmakaya, but rather the Buddha’s Nirmanakaya. It is a symbol of the Buddha, letting sentient beings in the mundane world plant fields of fortune. You must become cultivated so that you are like a pagoda. Of course, pagodas vary in size, height, and shape. This doesn’t mean you need to literally become a tower. Rather, it means that a pagoda is a combination of the Three Jewels, and actions, speech, and thought are all there. Thus, if these three things are impure, and your precepts are impure, then your actions will be unlike those of a renouncement-minded practitioner, and you shouldn’t be given offerings. This phrase says that you aren’t qualified to accept or possess offerings given to you by sentient beings.”

“Why is it I am the one providing all of the offerings for the ordained disciples? Because you haven’t even proven yourselves worthy to be a brick atop a pagoda, much less a pagoda itself. And so, you must rely on me for support. But I don’t support ordained practitioners who don’t uphold their precepts. What does this mean? Not even listening to what I say isn’t upholding your precepts, and means you cannot accept offerings. I don’t just do whatever I want; there are reasons for everything I do.”

Sutra: “Dyed for liberation; cloth dyed not for desire.”

“This is phrase is very special, because of what was said before about dyed clothing. He is saying that the dyed clothing isn’t dyed on purpose, but rather colored for liberation from the cycle of life and death. What does this mean? A piece of cloth starts out white, and no matter what color you dye it, its base is white. It isn’t woven into red or blue cloth, but rather is dyed so that it becomes that color. Who dyes it? You and your desire. Whether you wear white robes or dyed robes, you must all understand that the cloth always starts out white. In other words, we ourselves all start out white and pure. So then who changes the color? You and your desires.”

“Thus, by wearing this dyed clothing, you are reminding yourself: ‘Our minds must not become colored or polluted.” This, however, is not saying that the ordained have to wear this color or that color. Rather, it is warning you that you must not let your minds become further polluted. But wearing dyed clothing doesn’t automatically mean that you are practicing. Your minds must not become further polluted: ‘This is just how I am,’ ‘I just can’t change,’ ‘I just can’t bring myself to think the same way as you.’ This is pollution. And if you are polluted, wearing dyed clothing will add to it, like black on black. This phrase is difficult to explain. In order to escape the cycle of life and death, it is even more so important that we wear dyed clothing to remind ourselves that carelessness can bring on all kinds of coloring. And the laity must also remind themselves: if you are careless, you will pollute your mind, and reincarnate. And then, you will reincarnate over and over for eternity.”

“‘Cloth dyed not for desire.’ You don’t wear dyed clothing for the sake of your desires.”

Sutra: “Rightness of tranquility is not rightness of binding.”

“Why does Shakyamuni Buddha keep going on about clothing? Because whether you are practicing or not, you have to wear clothes. When it comes to eating, you can eat more or less. But when you leave your bedroom, you have to wear clothes, and this is the most important thing in human life. Tenzin Nyima Rinpoche once had a disciple who has practiced in fasting, and didn’t need to eat. Thus, matters related to eating were meaningless to him. But he still wore clothes. He wore them when visiting His Holiness. It is for this reason the Buddha specifically uses clothing to explain this idea to ordained and lay practitioners. Clothing is something we need each and every day, even if you can get by without eating, or with only one meal per day. It is just like how I once went two days in seclusion without anything to eat. Even then, I still had to wear clothes.”

“One of the distinctive ways that Shakyamuni Buddha propagated the Dharma was by using metaphors that he knew people would understand. The Buddha didn’t say fantastical things that no one had ever heard of, or wouldn’t have experienced personally. He specifically spoke of clothing, and attached particular importance to clothes. For this reason, there are some meritorious Dharma masters in Exoteric Buddhism who are especially reverent of their clothing. This isn’t just because it is a kasaya, but rather because they use their clothes as tools for their practices. One may not even know this himself. Old shifu used to say that one must revere his kasaya. Why? Because without it, you wouldn’t know how to cultivate yourself. There is already so much to cultivate here. A single piece of clothing can be used for cultivation in all sorts of things. Our reverence for an object can give rise to reverence for our precepts and the Three Jewels naturally. Why must you revere everything your guru bestows you with? It is not about whether the objects themselves are precious, but rather because the mind of your guru in giving you the object is precious. It is not about what he is giving you.”

“Here, Shakyamuni Buddha keeps going on about clothing specifically, because as humans, we have to wear clothes every day. Who is going to tell me that you can go out on the street without clothes? Clothing is something we are in contact with nearly 24 hours every day. The Buddha uses this object to tell you how it is you should view such a thing, and how to apply your mindset in your practice. We don’t cultivate ourselves in clothing, but rather expand on the idea of the clothing so that we may in turn know how it is we should practice. If your husband suddenly buys something for you, don’t complain about this and that; just be happy that you have it. ‘He bought me all kinds of things last year, but not this year. Does this mean he doesn’t love me?’ That’s right! He doesn’t love you, so you can escape the cycle of reincarnation. If he loved you enough, you would be stuck here. This means that no matter what we have, we aren’t moved by it. We just know that there are some things that we need, and that we can’t go without; but we don’t pursue these objects for fame or fortune.”

“‘Rightness of tranquility is not rightness of binding.’ It is right to have tranquility of mind. ‘Binding’ means being bound to vexations. Just now, I jokingly said that if your husband gives you something, you should just accept it. This is what I meant by that. ‘Last year, I got one carat for our wedding anniversary, and this year, I got nothing but a cake.’ This isn’t tranquility. He doesn’t have to give you anything. The point is whether or not you have the fortune to get this thing.”

Sutra: “Wearing this dyed cloth. Give not rise to all evil, and cultivate all good karma. Do not wear the dyed clothing for gain.”

“When acquiring dyed clothing (a kasaya), the ordained must not give rise to any kind of wickedness. This doesn’t mean killing someone or anything like that, but rather giving rise to greed, hatred, or delusion. Any dissatisfaction is wickedness. Thinking that you are better than someone else is wickedness. And so, we must transfer all merits to sentient beings. You don’t wear this kasaya because you are an ordained practitioner and have behaved differently compared to someone else.”

“In ancient times, a lot of Zen practitioners wouldn’t accept offerings even when their clothes were full of holes, and they would even enter their great halls with torn collars. Some of the ordained couldn’t bring themselves to hold their tongues, and would say things like: ‘Ugh, this isn’t dignified!’ But Shakyamuni Buddha didn’t look down on them. And so, how is it up to you to complain about them? When it comes to being dignified, although clothing can help, what matters most is whether or not you are dignified on the inside. If you are a meritorious person who upholds precepts, you will naturally be of dignified appearance.”

Sutra: ‘Knowing the sacred path, I do thusly.”

“I do the above because I know the path of Buddhahood and liberation from the cycle of life and death.

Sutra: “No gathering of pollution in a thought.”

“In even a thought — such a short moment of time — I will not give to the gathering of pollution or polluted intention.”

Sutra: “Elder: an ordained Bodhisattva wears his vestments with ten merits.”

“There are 10 merits for when the ordained wear clothing; and there are 10 merits for when they eat as well. The Buddha also specified that the same goes for the laity. And so, you ordained disciples need to get a handle on yourselves. Don’t think you are becoming cultivated; until you’ve done these 10 things, you aren’t qualified to call yourselves ordained. Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings are interesting in that he teaches different things for different areas, and for those with different karmic conditions and root capacities. Since the Ratnakuta Sutra is specifically about the Bodhisattva Path, what is said is for those with root capacity to practice on the Bodhisattva Path.”

Sutra: “And again, Elder: an ordained Bodhisattva, given these ten, even on the brink of death must not abandon begging for food.”

“Even on the brink of death, the ordained should never give up on begging for food. But nowadays we can’t beg for food anymore; so what do we do? That means the ordained must refrain from being picky eaters. You must happily accept all that people give to you, and cook for you. There is no begging for food in modern society, and some ordained even cook or prepare their meals themselves. But no matter what, if you are eating today, then that is food sentient beings have given to you. You did not plant those crops yourself. Thus, at large monasteries in ancient China, the ordained had to plant and tend to their crops themselves, as they couldn’t beg for food. This means one can’t eat without tilling one’s own fields. Perhaps my Buddhist temple will be the same. I have not decided yet.”

“But you ordained must understand: all of your clothing, food, lodging, and transportation is provided to you by benefactors. And so, you must mind your behavior. Whatever you do, do not be careless, and think that you can just repent later. This is a violation of your precepts. And so, Shakyamuni Buddha is emphasizing this again for you today.”

Sutra: “What ten? I live on myself, not others.”

“In order to go on living on this day — ‘but not others.’ This doesn’t mean not allowing others to live, but rather that you cannot help them cook. Ordained practitioners didn’t used to cook, like in current Theravada Buddhism; they don’t cook in Sri Lanka, Thailand, etc.”

Sutra: “If sentient being offer me food, I must ask that they have peaceful dwelling in the Three Refuges before consuming.”

“This is also very difficult to do in modern times. In Exoteric Buddhism, the ordained used to recite from the sutras for benefactors who offered them food, so that the benefactors’ minds may rest in the Three Refuges: refuge in the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. But you cannot do this anymore; by the time you are finished, he will have run off, and think donating to you is a hassle. Now, the ordained instead recite from the sutras before they eat.” The ordained disciples responded: “Offerings to all of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and gurus, and charity to all sentient beings.” Rinpoche continued, “This also means peaceful dwelling in the Three Refuges. No matter what you recite, your transferring of merit is ultimately in hope that sentient beings may take refuge in all of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and gurus. And so, regardless of what the ordained practitioners eat, they must transfer merits for the Three Refuges. You must transfer all of the karmic fortune you have received to all sentient beings, and pray that they may take refuge in the Three Jewels. This is essential. Don’t think: since I am ordained, offering me food gives you good fortune, and so I don’t need to help you.”

“Does this mean we have to do a bunch of recitations? Really, what is most important is that before you eat, you give rise to an aspiration, ‘May all sentient beings who make offerings to us, and even those who don’t give us offerings, rest in the Three Refuges.’ Why is it that transferring merit is so important regardless of the Dharma methods one practices? Because without transferring merits, there is no way for you to form virtuous connections with sentient beings. And without this, no one will even give you offerings, much less take on any disciples. At the end of merits transfer, there are a few lines about wishing for all sentient beings to attain Buddhahood; this means peaceful dwelling in the Three Refuges. The same goes for the laity. Don’t think that because I pay for my own meals none of this matters after I’m finished. We must transfer all merits from eating food to sentient beings, wishing that they may take refuge in the Three Jewels, and not suffer the torment of hunger.”

“If you initiate this aspiration and transfer merits, you will never go hungry in any future lifetime. The laity must do this as well. Before, when I was a Buddhist believer, the most important offering to the Three Jewels is, ‘may all sentient beings be free from the suffering of hunger, and they may take refuge in the Three Jewels, learn the Dharma, and attain Buddhahood.’ This kind of dedication is very important. Do we have to put our palms together every time? No. If you are eating with your boyfriend and you suddenly put your palms together, he will think: ‘What are you doing?’ So it is fine just to recite in your head. If when you suddenly stop talking, he asks: ‘What’s wrong? Why are you just staring doing nothing?’ Just tell him: ‘I’m thinking about you.’ And it is true you are thinking about him; he too is a sentient being. This goes for your husbands too. After your meal, stare into space, and if he asks: ‘What are you doing,’ say: ‘Nothing! Just thinking about you.’ ‘What are you thinking?’ ‘Thinking that you work so hard to earn money for us.’ This will make both you and your husbands happier. This isn’t sweet-talking, but rather what we should be doing anyway. And you husbands should do the same as well. Stare into space for 2 to 3 seconds, and when your wife asks: ‘What are you staring into space for?’ say: ‘I’m thinking about how hard you work to cook and buy food for us.’ When you go to one of my restaurants, after you finish eating, pause for a moment, and think: ‘Rinpoche works so hard to provide this good food for us.’ But I don’t need you to transfer merits to me; transfer them to the cooks and the waiters.”

Sutra: “For sentient beings who don’t give us food, give rise to great compassion.”

“Give rise to great compassion for the sentient beings who give you food, as well as for those who don’t. Either way, you must transfer merits to them, and give rise to great compassion. For example, ‘may all sentient beings be free from the suffering of hunger.’ — this is great compassion. Even though you cannot make this happen, your aspiration for this to happen is important. This aspiration doesn’t necessarily mean the power will manifest, but it is instead training in great compassion. The fact you are able to eat a good meal today doesn’t mean you have good karmic fortune, rather, you should know you used up some of your fortune and you will have less of it. So, does it increase your fortune when you are willing to transfer merit? No. It just means you use it up less quickly. You must practice the Dharma for your karmic fortune to arise. So then, how does it arise? I’ve explained this many times before, and I will not repeat myself today.”

H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the disciples in the Dharma Protector Achi ritual and dedication. Upon the perfect completion of the puja, the attendees thanked the guru for his compassionate performance of the Dharma and the bestowal of 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 December 1, 2019