His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings — April 12, 2020

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne and led the attendees in Avalokiteshvara ritual. He then continued to expound on “Scroll 82 ‘Elder Ugra Assembly’ (Chapter 19) of the Ratnakuta Sutra.

“In accordance with a new government ordinance, we have restricted the number of people allowed to attend this puja today, propagating the Dharma within the scope of the law. From this, we can see clearly the impermanence of the mundane world. Even though I’m still alive, you will have a hard time getting to see me at all right now. Many people think that as I’m still around, they should be able to see me if they attend on Saturdays. And indeed, yesterday, the son of one follower came in to see me. But I had already descended the dharma throne by that time, and so it was too late. Without the right karmic fate and fortune, I can’t help you even if I want to.”

“Why is it the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center has set up management regulations? It is certainly not so that we can manage you. Rather, it is because there are too many of us, and a lot of differing opinions. As I said before, everyone wants to be the boss, and take charge, and so problems tend to arise. Thus, it is best we manage these things systematically. It is not I who will be managing you, but rather the system. A lot of you have the false impression that: ‘Practicing Buddhism is about free choice.’ And while this is true, all religious organizations are under the jurisdiction of the law. And without a system, people tend to make mistakes. But if all of you disciples get used to following this system, you will of course do no wrong, and naturally will take what I say to heart, and act in accordance with my instruction without lusting after merits.”

Sutra: “What for? Dwell in Ah-Lan-R. Do not cling to the body and life.”

“So-called life-or-death seclusion doesn’t mean putting you in seclusion until you die. Rather, it means that before you go into seclusion, your guru sets a time limit for you, or perhaps you tell your guru how long you want to go into seclusion, and then you remain in seclusion until that time. From the perspective of the ancient practices, a month is a month, and that means not an hour or a minute less, unless you are given special permission from your guru. In other words, during this month, even if you fall ill or die, that’s just what is going to happen. But nowadays, this is difficult to go through with, as even if you believe in Buddhism, your family may not, and they may in turn call our temple uncompassionate, as we didn’t do anything about it when you got sick while in seclusion.”

“And so, in the future, we will prioritize people without immediate family or children, because we want to avoid families interfering. We have no other choice. This is just how it is in the Era of Declining Dharma. We will prioritize people who are alone, because even those without immediate family and children will have relatives and friends. Why do I say this? Because it says this in the sutras. But why do we do this in Tibetan Buddhism? Actually, this is not the invention of Tibetan Buddhism. It was the Buddha who told us not to cling to our bodies and lives (do not do seclusion with an attitude of treasuring the body and life). Who can do this?”

“It is like when I did my three-month seclusion in 2007. Even if I found my vital signs had stopped, no sense of tragedy or sadness would arise in me, nor would I think: ‘There is so much I haven’t done yet.’ This is what it means to not cling to the body and life. His Holiness remained in his own seclusion room the whole time during the first 2 months of my seclusion, and I didn’t know it at the time, but he kept asking his attendant if I had eaten or gone to the bathroom too, because if I hadn’t, that would mean I had died, and then they perhaps would have rushed in to collect my body. But after I didn’t die and continued on, His Holiness permitted himself to leave his retreat room. But before then, he never did.”

“Why didn’t His Holiness tell me this in advance? Because he feared it would cause me hindrance and clinging, and he wanted to see how I would do without knowing. His Holiness knew I would get by if I followed the teachings of the Buddha and didn’t cling to my life and body. While in seclusion, I woke up at 4 a.m. every morning, and went to sleep at around 10 p.m. at the earliest, though not always able to fall asleep right away, as it is so cold up there. I practiced and recited every day without clinging to my body and life. In addition, as the mantras His Holiness gave me were long, and I had never recited them before then, I found it difficult to pronounce them correctly at first.”

“Not clinging to the body and life doesn’t mean getting ready to die, or that you don’t want your body or life. Rather, it means understanding that you are merely borrowing this body for your practice. And so, as long as you treasure your body and life, liberation from the cycle of reincarnation will escape you. It is like that disciple yesterday who came in with his mother to implore liberation. I asked him what made him think he could do this; liberation isn’t a mantra, after all, but rather something we have to be capable of. Without going through seclusion, he could have asked me for transferring consciousness. But he kept going on about things for his own best interests! Why does he want to be liberated from life and death? Because he suffers in this life, and doesn’t want to suffer anymore.”

“This is wrong, as I am teaching you the Bodhisattva Path, which doesn’t claim that liberation means you don’t have to return, or that you won’t need to propagate the Dharma across the universe in the future. So-called liberation from life and death means being at ease with life and death. You won’t return without a fatal bond and karmic force. And if you purify your karma, you won’t need to return either. But if you see a fatal bond with other sentient beings, you will come back.”

“Take, for example, the ancient Buddha Avalokiteshvara. Why did she return to liberate sentient beings? Because she had connections with the sentient beings of the Saha World; and thus, she incarnated as a Dharmakaya Bodhisattva and returned to liberate them. But why didn’t she do this in her ancient Buddha form? Because Buddhas are those who have already become enlightened in faultless nirvana, and they have no thoughts about liberating beings; only Bodhisattvas do. And so, if those cultivating Bodhisattvahood think they are practicing for themselves, and for their own liberation, that isn’t cultivation of the Bodhisattva Path, but rather seeking peace and happiness for themselves.”

“Though it says in the dharma texts that we pray to be one and no different from the yidam, you cannot possibly become a yidam yourself. This just means that you must learn from the yidam in your mind and aspiration. But if you cannot do this, and instead spend all of your time clinging to your body and life — like Disciple Yao, whom I just mentioned, only thinking about her son, and worrying that he won’t change — will you be able to be liberated from reincarnation? And will you be at ease with life and death?”

“Why is it the Ratnakuta Sutra teaches us so many concepts related to family? This means teaching you the ways you should view and think about these things, rather than speaking about them. Let me repeat that: the Ratnakuta Sutra doesn’t tell you to talk about these things, but rather just to think about them. But have you done this? No. Why? Because you think you aren’t going to die yet, and so you can just wait until that time comes. But you can’t wait, because when the time comes, I will be gone, and can no longer protect you. Why? Because you didn’t have faith in me when I was still alive, and so I don’t believe that you will after I’m gone, either. You didn’t listen to me when I was alive, so what are the chances you will after I’m dead? That would just be strange; this logic doesn’t make sense.”

“A lot of people think they can become cultivated by just relying on themselves. But you can’t — not if you cling to your bodies and lives. The sutras speak of not clinging to the body and life, and when I was in seclusion, I truly didn’t cling to my life, and let go of all affinities. The outside world, my business, and everything else that happened in Taiwan and at the Buddhist Center — all of these things had nothing to do with me, as everything is up to causal conditions. And if the Buddhist Center or my business shut down because I went into seclusion, that would also be my causal condition. And if my child died for this reason, that would be my causal condition too. If practitioners are to go into seclusion, they must not give rise to thoughts and cling to their body and life — unlike the way you all behave.”

“Now everyone is watching over video, and I am sure many of my disciples are half watching while keeping an eye on their children, and listening if their husbands are home yet. But then you might as well not watch; you won’t get any blessings just from watching. You must listen, and do as I teach to receive blessings! A lot of my disciples in Mainland China are the same, watching the videos without following my teachings, and still just doing as they please. But what does this do? Nothing.”

“The sutra is clear here that there isn’t much you have to do to cultivate the Six Paramitas — just don’t cling to the body and life while in seclusion. Who dares to try this? Not clinging to the body doesn’t mean pushing yourself to the point of death. Listen closely: the Buddha doesn’t recommend, approve of, or support asceticism. Asceticism is pushing yourself to the point of death. Rather, the Buddha merely suggests that your methods and ways of thinking should align with the teachings of your guru, and that you don’t think about or do things your own way. Your guru has already made it clear what you’re supposed to do, but if you insist on adding in your own methods, it won’t work. When you cultivate the Six Paramitas without clinging to the body and life, you can become attained even by doing very little.”

Sutra: “This is what it means for an ordained Bodhisattva to dwell in Ah-Lan-R, perfecting cultivation of the Paramita of Charity.”

“As you are completing seclusion without clinging to the body and life, you aren’t doing this for yourself, or so that you can go to the land of Amitabha, or come out and take on your own disciples, etc. You are acting for sentient beings. You perform seclusion on their behalf. And as you are acting for others, this is charity, and offerings. Right now, everything you recite is for yourselves, and you are thinking of yourselves. But what makes you think you can do these things without giving in charity and offerings? If all you are doing is reciting, then in the next life, you may become an actor or famous singer — because you have done many recitations, and your speech will naturally sound pleasant — but this won’t liberate you from the cycle of life and death.”

“If you are a good singer now, and people like to listen to your voice, that is because of recitations in a past life. But if you’ve never recited in a past life, no one will like your singing in this life. And even if you are a good singer, no one will want to listen or buy your records. Only by not clinging to the body and life and practicing for the sake of sentient beings can you perfect charity and offerings. And if you can do this, you will have perfected this paramita.”

Sutra: “Elder. Ordained Bodhisattvas dwell in precepts of renunciation, and action, speech, and thought. This is what it means for an ordained Bodhisattva to dwell in Ah-Lan-R, perfecting cultivation of the Paramita of Discipline.”

“This means that when in seclusion, we must uphold even the smallest of our precepts. The violation of a precept means not practicing the Paramita of Discipline. And we must uphold our precepts in action, speech, and thought. Don’t think that you didn’t do anything wrong just because you only thought something without acting or speaking. Improper thought is a violation on its own. When in seclusion, your body must be upright, your mouth reciting, and your consciousness concentrating, without being let loose. If you normally let your mind run loose, and you don’t like something — even though you don’t tell me, thinking I won’t know — then that’s not giving offerings and upholding your precepts. So long as your mind stirs, your body and speech will eventually follow; it is only a matter of time.”

“People often talk about having disrespectful thoughts about me. This is not upholding your precepts, and it’s not performing charity and offerings. And as a result, you do not gain karmic fortune from upholding your precepts, and wicked thoughts arise. This is because wicked thoughts exist in you already. It is just that practicing allows the power of virtue and virtuous thoughts to grow within you, and suppress your wicked thoughts. Only then can wickedness be transformed into virtue, allowing pure virtue to overpower the wicked habits of accumulated lifetimes. Otherwise, this would be impossible. There are precepts specific to seclusion, and we are very strict in life-or-death seclusion, to an extent that you wouldn’t believe; there are precepts even for coughing, sneezing, and yawning while doing recitations, and stretching your arms and legs and pulling on your sitting mat when tired are forbidden as well. Very much unlike the comfort you have at home!”

“In what way are you ordained cultivated? If you knew the seclusion precepts of the Vajrajana, you would be scared out of your wits. You aren’t capable of any of these. A lot of people wonder why it is I can sit upon the Dharma throne performing the Dharma for two hours straight. This is because of my cultivation from when in seclusion. But that isn’t something I achieved in a day. It is because when I practiced Exotericism, I would practice for at least 2 hours per day. That is how I was able to build this foundation.”

Sutra: “Elder. Why does an ordained Bodhisattva dwell in Ah-Lan-R? To perfect cultivation of the Paramita of Forbearance. Being among all sentient beings, free of hatred, with forbearance of all wisdom.”

“Our wisdom is unlocked because we have no hatred for any sentient beings, and are free of greed and envy. And as soon as this forbearance arises in you, pure inner wisdom manifests. But if you are constantly transferring merits to your karmic creditors while in seclusion, then you still have hatred, as you hate them, and fear they will come after you. You fear misfortune befalling you. And so, when hatred arises in you, all wisdom is unable to manifest.”

“This doesn’t mean bearing through all wisdom, but rather that when you don’t have hatred for sentient beings, this force of patience and forbearance will initiate all wisdom. This is the reason why wisdom is unlocked and compassion expands after perfected seclusion. None of this is implored. The ‘many deeds’ of the Six Paramitas doesn’t mean you have to complete a lot of tasks, and the Buddha is clear about that here. There are only a few things you must do. Thus, the point isn’t doing this and that, but rather whether or not your attitude, methods, and manner are all correct.”

“If you spend all of your time in seclusion transferring merits to your karmic creditors, then that means you still have hatred, and want for a comfortable life. If you didn’t hate them, why would you fear them causing problems for you? Plus, you should know that as long as you don’t hate them, your perfected wisdom and merits will help to decrease their hatred toward you — this is a simple enough concept. So then, why can’t we do this? Because we fear for our well-being, and want to satisfy our desires. And thus, this becomes difficult.”

Sutra: “Elder. This is what it means for an ordained Bodhisattva to dwell in Ah-Lan-R, perfecting cultivation of the Paramita of Forbearance.”

“Perfection refers to perfection of the Paramita of Forbearance. It doesn’t mean just not getting angry when people yell at us.”

Sutra: “Elder. Why does an ordained Bodhisattva dwell in Ah-Lan-R? To perfect cultivation of the Paramita of Diligence. A Bodhisattva must practice thusly. I dwell, and do not depart. One must be forbearing of non-production of dharma. Elder. This is what it means for an ordained Bodhisattva to dwell in Ah-Lan-R. Perfecting cultivation of the Paramita of Diligence.”

“Diligence means dedication to progress. First, we cultivate the paramitas of offerings, discipline, and forbearance. What the Buddha says here aligns with what we normally talk about. How do we dedicate ourselves to progress? This doesn’t mean doing a certain amount of recitations every day. The point is diligence. And we must grasp this if we are to dedicate ourselves to progress. If we are to refine something, it is of course best that we refine it to its essence. But this requires a process, as well as time and patience. It doesn’t just happen because you want it to. Dedication to progress isn’t about doing exhaustive work and a bunch of recitations, but rather is the fruit of the most important Dharma methods in the middle.

“What do we mean by fruit? This is just what we talked about earlier: one must not cling to the body and life; have no hatred; and do all in charity for this diligence to arise. This is because you realize that what you are doing isn’t for yourself, but rather for all sentient beings in the void of the universe. Only then can you attain the Dharma method of diligence.”

“‘A Bodhisattva must study thusly. I dwell, and do not depart.’ This is just like what I said earlier. Before we attain fruition, one month of seclusion means one month, and two means two. Before that, you cannot leave, and this aligns with the idea of not clinging to the body and life. There is no reason to let you leave, unless your guru says it is okay, and that you have achieved attainment. Otherwise, you must not leave.”

“In the ancient Tibetan system, if regular ordained practitioners do a 3-year retreat, this isn’t life-or-death seclusion, but just means that they can’t leave for the duration. And this is why you see lamas with such long hair — because they haven’t had it cut in 3 years. But they don’t reach attainment in 3 years; this is merely completion of the basic Common and Uncommon Four Preliminary Practices, so that they can start learning the Tantra. One must complete seclusion in order to learn Tantra. Just learning mantras and having dharma texts isn’t enough.”

“During this seclusion, one must not leave prior to attainment. This is dwelling without departing. Take, for instance, the Venerable Milarepa, who didn’t leave Lapchi Snow Mountain, as the Venerable Marpa had ordered him not to. And from the time he started practicing to the time he left the secular world, he never did leave — even when the king came for him — because these were the orders of his guru. He obeyed his guru even when he wasn’t around.”

“Diligence means being ‘forbearing of non-production of dharma.” We all know of the Dharma method of forbearance, and its peak of the non-production of dharma. But why is this related to diligence? Because if you aren’t dedicated to progress, then you won’t be able to acclimate to the conditions that rise and cease. You will try to make changes, and maybe even invent your own methods. The concept of non-production of dharma doesn’t mean there is no dharma or production, but rather that no dharma is produced naturally; it always has its causal conditions. And without causal conditions, no dharma is produced.”

“When we realize that all dharma arises and ceases from causal conditions, we also see that we must sever this arising in order to end ceasing. That is to say that if you give rise to no vexations and wicked thoughts, there naturally will be no arising of wicked conditions and retribution. Likewise, if you constantly give rise to wicked thoughts, these things naturally will manifest. So then, how do you train yourself not to do this? Of course, by observing the Five Precepts and Ten Meritorious Acts, and upholding your vows. If every thought you have is virtuous, you naturally won’t give rise to wicked intention. And so, simply put, unless certain causal conditions are manufactured, dharma doesn’t arise. Dharma only arises from causal conditions.”

“When we are in seclusion and reciting all kinds of mantras and so on, we are acting for one purpose: to understand the emptiness of arising and ceasing conditions. In seclusion, we don’t seek enlightenment, or fruition, or true insight, but rather realize emptiness; forbearance of non-production of dharma is emptiness. But if you don’t understand the existence of this emptiness, then all of the dharma you practice becomes attachment. And when the dharma you cling to creates virtuous retribution, you reincarnate. But when we don’t cling to dharma, and just realize that it arises and ceases from causal conditions, it is like when we cultivate under the yidam, we would visualize emptiness at the end. We must understand everything arises from causal conditions, and after practicing, we must enter the meditative state of emptiness so that we don’t cling to dharma.”

“The Diamond Sutra is clear that when a Bodhisattva becomes attained in his practice, all dharma can be given up, let alone the non-dharma. The non-dharma refers to everything that causes us to reincarnate. But what does it mean to say that we can give up dharma? It is like what I’ve said before. To cross a river, we need a boat, and a guru — a helmsman. But after we cross the river, we no longer need this vessel. Of course, we will continue to need the helmsman until we attain Buddhahood. But when the time comes, the helmsman will manifest in a different way. And after the boat crosses the water, it is no longer needed, as it is simply a vessel for us.”

“The Dharma is merely a kind of vessel, just like the deer, ox, and ram carts mentioned in the Lotus Sutra. They are all vessels, and there are all kinds of playthings within these carts. These playthings are the Dharma. If you enjoy reciting mantras, then you can play with this. And if you want to be ordained, you can play with that. And then, when you’re finished, you can get on the cart, and it will take you to the road of liberation. But once you are there, you won’t need these toys any longer. You can leave them; and when you look back, you will realize you don’t need them.”

“We’ve all played with toys. But do you still hold on to the toys you played with when you were a kid? Unless you are sentimental, you will have thrown them out. In simple terms, the ways of the mundane world are all toys without exception. But don’t repeat this when you go home. If you tell your husband he’s just your toy, he will without a doubt get upset with you.”

“‘Forbearing of non-production of dharma.’ This means that your merits don’t come from how much you recite, or how many times you prostrate yourself. Merits and karmic fortune are different. Merits can change and transform our karmic forces, and help us to benefit both ourselves and others. Non-production of dharma has different levels as well. It’s not something you just attain. The distinction is so fine that, according to the sutras, there are paramanu (ancient Indian smallest unit of measure) worlds within paramanu worlds. There didn’t used to be scientific terms explaining atoms and subatomic particles. But there are particles within atoms, and quarks within particles. And so, this means that all materials contain other things that already exist, constantly changing without end.”

“Attainment of forbearing of non-production of dharma is multilayered, and this cannot be done in a day. Non-production doesn’t mean no production. This is just telling you that no methods arise naturally; all arise of causal conditions. And so, no matter the causal conditions that arise, we must be patient. We must be patient when wicked conditions arise, and not use evil to combat evil, as in this way, these things will dissipate. And we must not be smug when virtuous conditions arise, thinking them to be the result of our cultivation, because if this is virtuous retribution, then in your next life, as a result of this human-deva retribution, you won’t escape the cycle of life and death and make it to the land of Amitabha.”

Sutra: “Elder. Why does an ordained Bodhisattva dwell in Ah-Lan-R? To perfect cultivation of the Paramita of Meditation. Elder. An ordained Bodhisattva dwells in Ah-Lan-R. Let go of meditation and teach sentient beings to cultivate virtuous roots. Elder. This is what it means for an ordained Bodhisattva to dwell in Ah-Lan-R.”

“There is a difference here between the Bodhisattva Path and the Arhat Path. For the Arhat Path, one practices to enter the meditative state, not clinging to any worldly concerns. However, for the ordained on the Bodhisattva Path who are cultivating perfection of the Paramita of Meditation, they should not dwell in constant meditative state without any concern for worldly matters. Instead, they should let go of the meditative state. I had this experience before while in seclusion; I nearly entered the arhat meditative state.”

“This letting go of meditative state refers to the Four Heavens of Meditation — the First, the Second, the Third, and the Fourth. This is different from the meditation we typically talk about, as the meditation of the Bodhisattva Path is about meditation of emptiness. It is very difficult to explain in words. There is but a line between the two, and it is easy to slip into the Heavens of Meditation by accident. And if this happens, the highest peak you may reach is the Sphere of Neither Perception Nor Non-Perception, thinking you have no thoughts, when in reality you are thinking that you have achieved meditation. This is a subtle kind of thought, and it is difficult to perceive. Indeed, generally you will be unaware that this kind of meditation is wrong unless you go into seclusion, and are blessed by your guru and all of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.”

“Thus, practicing meditation isn’t about how long you can remain in meditation, or achieving meditation to the extent that your mind no longer wanders. This is wrong. Without thoughts, we cannot liberate sentient beings. And why do we cultivate ourselves on the Bodhisattva Path? So that we can liberate others. This sutra says: ‘Let go of meditation and teach sentient beings to cultivate virtuous roots.’ This isn’t for those who practice for themselves, thinking that the matters of the world have nothing to do with them once they have entered meditation, and treating the joy of meditation as food. This is the nonsense you spout, thinking meditation to be pleasure. But that is all wrong.”

“Why? Because the Bodhisattva Path is about liberation for others. You must help sentient beings to constantly plant virtuous roots. And if you forget the suffering of others due to your own joy, then you are not practicing the Bodhisattva Path. Many are incapable of experiencing the meaning of this phrase for themselves, as they’ve never entered meditative state, and thus cannot distinguish between the meditation practiced by the Bodhisattva, the arhat, and the secular commoner. The difference is in a thought. And this thought can create all kinds of karmic effects for us.”

“And so, it is made clear here that we must let go. Don’t think that you can enter the Four Heavens of Meditation, fancying yourself a self-oriented practitioner, and thinking you are getting more and more adept because you can remain in meditation for 3 hours on end. When you do this, you cling to meditation: both with some parts clinging and some delusion. But the purpose of the meditation we practice on the Bodhisattva Path is to enable our compassion and bodhicitta to dwell in our own pure Dharma nature so that we may teach sentient beings to cultivate virtuous roots within the pure Dharma-self.”

“It is like the believer who sneezed yesterday. Had I not been in meditation, how else would I have known that his mother was scolding him? It wasn’t a ghost who came to me with this; ghosts don’t dare to enter my Buddhist Center. Rather, I knew because this disciple is in the Heaven Realm and told me through divine power. This comes from meditation. And this meditation isn’t self-serving, like how some people meditate in hopes of healing their bodies and improving their mental and emotional states. None of that is the meditative state. It is secular, mundane meditation.”

“When it comes to the meditation of the Bodhisattva Path, without a guru to guide you, it is easy to wander astray, and slip into the Four Heavens of Meditation. Of course, many ordained practitioners enjoy this. But this meditation will turn to misery, as you must always return. And once you use up your karmic fortune in the Sphere of Neither Perception Nor Non-Perception, and clinging manifests, you will fall to the Three Evil Realms in an instant. You’ll think that you have done so well in your practice, so how is it you have fallen? But as soon as a wicked thought arises, you will fall in an instant.”

“Why is it I don’t teach meditation? Because you are incapable of Bodhisattva meditation. Thus, how can you be shown that you are capable of meditation? There are two solutions: the first is to trust in your guru, and accumulate karmic fortune; the second is to follow the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas I taught you. So long as you act in accordance with the Thirty-Seven Practices, your meditative power will gradually manifest, and your mind will not give rise to so many distracting thoughts. This is what we call being without distraction. It becomes so that reciting is just reciting, and eating just eating. You will gradually become trained in this; there is no need for you to sit cross-legged every day. You don’t have what it takes to sit. Don’t think that you should meditate for 15 minutes every day just because everyone else does. I don’t know what you are practicing — training your legs not to get sore? But you haven’t become practiced in meditation!”

“It’s like the example I always give: does having this Dharma throne fixed here every day, not thinking, mean it is meditating? No. Many people think just sitting without thinking about anything means they’ve entered the meditative state. Wrong! That isn’t meditation. I’ve experienced this realm. I’ve practiced meditation to the point where I couldn’t hear what was happening next to me, and when I came to, two hours had passed. It was only lucky that the Dharma Protector Achi is compassionate, and allowed me release from that meditation. Otherwise, sitting there uninterrupted like that was so comfortable — not hearing sounds from the outside or seeing what was in front of me; and I didn’t ache or feel sore or tired either. But Achi started laughing in my ear on purpose, and with a ‘boom!’ I woke up after two hours. And so, do not pursue the meditative state. This goes double for the laity.”

“So then, what do you rely on for meditation? Through upholding the precepts; practicing the Five Precepts and Ten Meritorious Acts; constant reciting; daily Dharma protector ritual; and sufficient faith in your guru, this meditative state will manifest. But when does this happen? During the last few seconds before your breathing stops; this isn’t the ordinary meditation. Will you enter a better state of meditation? No, not unless you have realized emptiness, and cultivated kundalini meditation. It is like just now when I was reciting, and this disciple up in front was focused on watching my mouth. He was thinking: ‘Why is it Rinpoche’s mouth isn’t moving, yet he can recite the Great Six-Syllable Mantra so clearly?’” An ordained disciple answered: “When Rinpoche recites, his mouth doesn’t move, and yet every syllable is annunciated swiftly and clear. We cannot keep up.”

Rinpoche continued: “This is the meditative state. Do you want to learn it? Fine. But the question is whether or not you have what it takes to practice Tantra. And if you are skeptical and do not have faith in your guru, you cannot learn this. This is not ventriloquism. It comes entirely from the central channel — pure inner nature; it is what we call self-nature reciting of the Dharma. Self-nature reciting means it is your pure inner nature that is reciting. It is not superficial and forced. For instance, there is an ordained disciple who recites slowly all the time. Does she think that reciting slowly is compassion and tenderness? Do I not have compassion and tenderness when I recite quickly? I do. It is all in the mind.”

“As I expound on the Six Paramitas today, the concepts you have learned are being refuted. But I’m not the one refuting them; the Buddha is. The Buddha is saying: ‘You are practicing the wrong way.’ I dare not say it is wrong if there is no one to teach the Ratnakuta Sutra. For example, if you were to tell a Zen practitioner to give up meditation, he might jump and punch you, saying: ‘I’m practicing Zen and you want me to give up meditation; then what am I practicing for? I give up.’ But the Buddha is clear. For what purpose do we teach sentient beings? And what qualifications do you have to do this? You must cultivate all virtuous roots. And who will help you spread these seeds? Your guru. Otherwise, how can you cultivate virtuous fruits and effects to share with others without virtuous roots? We cultivate Bodhisattvahood not to be Bodhisattvas, but to offer these fruits to sentient beings. Only when they have had a taste can they know how sweet it is, and be motivated to plant the same seeds. If these fruits were bitter, they wouldn’t want to eat them. Why is it I help so many sentient beings, whether for the sake of transferring consciousness or to deal with illness? It is to give them a taste of this sweetness. As result, they come to learn the Dharma for these sweet benefits, and thus, I have the opportunity to liberate them from life and death.”

“It is stated clearly here: ‘Educate and transform all sentient beings, and teach them how to cultivate all virtuous roots.’ It says nothing about turning you into Bodhisattvas instantly. I’ve already put myself through enough, helping you cultivate virtuous roots, and getting criticized all day long. Why am I getting criticism? Because I criticized others in past lives. And so, I am getting what I deserve in return.”

“I used to practice Exoteric Buddhism, and I practiced until I could dwell in the realm of meditative state, and began to no longer care about the matters of the mundane world. All that was left for me was to commit to becoming ordained. I used to meditate for at least 45 minutes per day, also reciting the Universal Gate Chapter, the Rebirth in the Pureland Mantra, and the sacred name of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara for at least 2 to 3 hours per day. But you don’t put in this kind of time. I’ve told this story before: one night, I suddenly had a dream that I was happily standing next to a counter, and I saw someone who looked exactly like me teaching others the Dharma at a market-like place, and they were very happy. When I woke up, I realized I was practicing the wrong path, and that’s why I started over with the Bodhisattva Path.”

“I am a person who likes things neat and tidy, but you can’t stay clean when you’re helping others. You have to assimilate to their lifestyles. Otherwise, how else are you going to teach them? And so, I have gone through a lot in my life. I have children, and I have suffered a failed business and a failed marriage. I’ve gone through much more than you. But how could I know this suffering if I didn’t walk among you? And since I do know this pain, if someone has an issue related to divorce and they come to me, I can tell them: ‘You’re asking the right person. I have experience with this.’ And if your child won’t listen to you, I can say the same thing. If you say: ‘My business is failing,’ I can say: “I had a failed business too.’ And this is what teaching sentient beings is. Bodhisattvas do not fear suffering. They see it, and go toward it. Taiwan isn’t a happy place. It is filled with misery. Though the Dharma exists here, there are a lot of things that happen.”

‘The Buddha isn’t telling you to cast aside meditation, but rather to let go of it. What does this mean? If you’re not clinging to your practice, then you are clinging to meditation. You have to understand why it is you practice on the Bodhisattva Path. Meditation is a tool to help you teach others. And why do we teach sentient beings? It’s like that believer who sneezed twice yesterday, and I knew something was up with him. I entered a meditative state and visualized, and saw his mother wanted to scold him! Fine! His mother used to be my disciple, and as she hasn’t yet attained Buddhahood, she still is. I knew she was giving me a hard time, and so I scolded him a bit.”

“What good does it do me to scold a believer (Disciple Yao’s son) who hasn’t even taken refuge? None. Had I told him yesterday: ‘You’re a good son. You should come and learn Dharma; this is what your mother wants’ — there is no way he would listen. Why? Because he would be thinking: ‘My mother practiced for 15 long years, and yet she still died of illness. Why should I believe you?’ But by reprimanding him, I’ve let him know what I’m made of, and at the very least he won’t dare to slander Buddhism. So what do we do without meditation and wisdom? This is very difficult. A lot of people would have said to him: ‘Diligently learn the Dharma. This is what your mother wanted.’ But in his head, he would be murmuring: ‘My mother got cancer after 15 years of practice, and died a miserable death. What good is Buddhism going to do me?’ But this wasn’t the fault of the Dharma. It was his mother who didn’t listen.”

“The Six Paramitas are completely different from what you’ve heard in the past.”

Sutra: “Elder. Why does an ordained Bodhisattva dwell in Ah-Lan-R? To perfect cultivation of the Paramita of Wisdom. Elder. An ordained Bodhisattva dwells in Ah-Lan-R. One must practice thusly. Merely as though this body is an empty space. Merely as though this body is bodhicitta. Constantly free of distraction. As though empty and free of distraction. Elder. This is what it means for an ordained Bodhisattva to dwell in Ah-Lan-R.”

“Here, the Buddha has explained prajna wisdom incisively and thoroughly. No other words could explain it so. Why is it Shakyamuni Buddha keeps telling Elder Ugra these things? Because it is Elder Ugra who has implored the Dharma. And so, when many of my disciples implore the Dharma from me, I refuse, because they are irreverent, and think I have to do as they ask. ‘I’m your disciple. If I want to learn the Dharma, you have to teach it to me.’ But what does Elder Ugra do when he goes to the Buddha? He takes 500 of his disciples and prepares all the offerings he has, imploring the Dharma on behalf of all sentient beings. This is why the Buddha is willing to tell him so much.”

‘Why does an ordained Bodhisattva dwell in Ah-Lan-R? One must practice thusly. Merely as though this body is an empty space.’ When an ordained Bodhisattva is in a place of seclusion, he should practice thusly. ‘Empty space’ means the body has attained emptiness. Perhaps you have never heard of this, but there once was a Tibetan guru who cultivated and attained rainbow light body. That is to say, though he was still alive, his body became rainbow-colored light. The Venerable Gampopa achieved this as well. Once when he was meditating, someone entered and found a puddle of water, as he had entered water meditation. And another time, someone saw him as fire, as he was cultivating flame meditation. This isn’t a myth, it is something that has been done.”

“Here, the Buddha is first telling us that even if you are able to cultivate emptiness of the body, and arrange the particles of your body into flesh that cannot be seen by others, this is nothing special. The Buddha says ‘merely’ — it is nothing special, as it can be cultivated through non-Buddhist paths as well. But this has nothing to do with liberation from life and death, or helping sentient beings to attain Buddhahood. Thus, why the Buddha says ‘merely’ — nothing special. This just means that you have concentrated your efforts on cultivating a particular Dharma method. For example, I had a guru in Tibet with a disciple who had cultivated himself so that he didn’t need to eat or drink. His Holiness didn’t say much to him, or praise him. He merely told him he should drink some water, otherwise his stomach would get stuck together. As His Holiness knew he was the disciple of one of my gurus, he didn’t mention this to me until we were chatting one day. Now, he is a retreat teacher at the Drikung Thil Monastery.”

“Even if you cultivate your body to Bodhisattva fruition, that’s nothing special either. ‘Constantly free of distraction. As though empty and free of distraction. Elder. This is what it means for an ordained Bodhisattva to dwell in Ah-Lan-R.’ What does it mean to cultivate emptiness and be free of distraction? Cultivating yourself to the point that no distraction arises in you, rather than not having any. How does one make it so that no distracted thoughts arise? There are 2 methods: virtuous thought and meditation. For example, when I recite mantras, everyone’s distracted thoughts are significantly reduced. But when you recite, you are filled with distraction. I have few distracted thoughts — practically none — and that is why my blessings can suppress you so that your thoughts are not distracted. And so, you must trust your guru. You are all aware that when you come to the Buddhist Center and I am reciting, you seem to become free from thought for the day. This is not because I have intimidated you; if you feared me, you wouldn’t behave this way.”

“Thus, this means that if you cultivate emptiness and complete bodhicitta of the body, constantly free of distraction, you will become fully immersed in emptiness. What does this mean? Not that you disappear, but rather that your mind has expanded to emptiness, and you have no distracted thoughts. In Zen Buddhism, it is said that if you can ‘contain the void in the mind,’ then your mind has realized emptiness. This ‘void’ refers to the universe. It means that no matter how big the universe becomes, you can wrap your mind around it. After all, modern science has already proven that the universe is constantly expanding.”

“After emerging from seclusion in 2007, I once explored this phrase together with His Holiness. If the mind contains the void, that means it has a boundary. Thus, your mind must have a definite shape in order to contain the void. And so, I said it should be ‘accommodate the void in the mind.’ No matter how the void changes, the mind can accommodate it; and thus, my mind is boundless and limitless. This is realization of emptiness. This is what I said after coming out of seclusion. Still, before that, I had always memorized the phrase ‘contain the void in the mind.’ But if the mind contains the void, it has a shape and boundaries, and a set capacity. But that is not the case for ‘accommodating the void in the mind.’ We know that the void is constantly changing, though no one knows if it is shrinking or expanding. My mind doesn’t change; the void does. The void changes, but my mind does not. And yet, no matter how it changes, I can accommodate it. It doesn’t matter how many people criticize me. If I couldn’t accommodate other people’s admonishments, how could I possibly accommodate the void of the universe? This is a profound phrase, and those who haven’t already learned it are probably feeling dizzy about now.”

Rinpoche asked an ordained disciple: “Why is it you have such a strong impression of the phrase ‘accommodate the void in the mind?’” The disciple responded: “I like it. Emptiness is important for all of us practitioners. We have merely uncovered, explained, and tried to understand emptiness. But unlike Rinpoche, we haven’t yet realized or witnessed it, manifested it, or liberated sentient beings within it. There is nothing else like entering emptiness. That is Rinpoche’s realm. It is something we cannot do. But I am full of joy just to be able to learn a bit about it.”

Rinpoche continued: “Shakyamuni Buddha was compassionate. In the Paramita of Wisdom, ‘wisdom’ (prajna) doesn’t just refer to wisdom as we know it; it also includes emptiness, and Dharma nature. Why is it Master Tang Sanzang didn’t translate the term ‘prajna?’ Because it has too many meanings. This passage means that even if you practice a special, unique Dharma method of your own, it won’t make a difference; you will still have distracted thoughts, simply because your desire to achieve such a thing in itself is a distraction. And even if your body becomes cultivated to bodhicitta, the Buddha says that is nothing. What does this mean? Your body includes your flesh body as well as your Dharma body — your flesh body and Dharma body are cultivated to bodhicitta. But what does ‘bodhicitta’ mean? Not that everyone says you are compassionate and well-cultivated, and you get all smug about it.”

“‘Constant and unmoving.’ Why is it we call the Buddha Tathagata? Because he is constant and unmoving. What does ‘constant’ mean? His mind doesn’t stir for anything, and he doesn’t waver for good or evil. But it doesn’t say ‘unmoving’ here. A Bodhisattva doesn’t give rise to distracted thoughts or ideas for any personal reasons, nor does he undertake any actions. ‘Thus’ means ‘as though;’ a Bodhisattva’s mind is ‘as though’ free of distraction. Why isn’t he distracted? Because his thoughts — even some delusions — are all for the sake of liberating sentient beings rather than for his own sake. And so, this is even more useful than realization of a body of emptiness or bodhicitta, as we practice the Bodhisattva Path to help others rather than to gain anything or change in any way for our own sakes.”

“‘As though empty and free of distraction.’ It is like entering the void without any distracted thought. This is also very difficult to explain. You would know if you had ever experienced being in the void. Were there no stars buzzing around in the void, space would be without movement. Our wrathful yidams are all black and dark blue. And without the light of the sun and stars, space would be dark blue too. All is still in space, except for what is produced by the ways of karmic conditions. When these conditions arise, planets, and energy and momentum are created.”

“‘As though empty and free of distraction.’ As humans, there is no way we can be completely without thought. But once you realize emptiness, even if you have thoughts, you will not be distracted. For example, there is the thought: ‘I am hungry and want to eat.’ Here, I’m not thinking that I want to eat something that I like. And so, being hungry and wanting to eat is merely a basic desire for survival.”

“A Bodhisattva doesn’t have day fantasies. He will still do things and live a normal human life, but he will not daydream, giving rise to thoughts of fantastical things that he cannot accomplish — nor will he pursue such things. Instead, he will be as though empty and free of distraction, his mind immersed in emptiness, as though without distracted thought. When sentient beings ask him for help, his mind will stir; and when they don’t, it will remain still. It is like with that believer who sneezed yesterday. Had he not sneezed, my mind would have remained still. But as he sneezed, my mind stirred, and I entered the meditative state, and emptiness, and thus knew what was going on.”

Rinpoche asked an ordained disciple to speak, and he reported: “This is getting difficult to understand.” Rinpoche responded: “As I didn’t have distracted thoughts when helping Disciple Yao’s son, I didn’t think of whether or not he was reverent toward me, how he would give me offerings, or what would happen in the future. Instead, I had the thoughts that I had because of the existence of certain karmic conditions.”

The ordained disciple reported: “As Rinpoche is a Bodhisattva, and Bodhisattvas help sentient beings, he is attuned to emptiness whether his mind stirs or not.”

Rinpoche responded: “This is the grind I go through. He sneezed, the condition arose, and so I noticed him. And as I noticed him, he came over, and I quickly entered into a state of emptiness, completely free of personal thoughts and distraction. The only distraction I had was the thought: ‘How can I help him?’ And when this thought arose, I naturally became attuned to the thought of his mother. On the other hand, had I not entered emptiness, all of my thoughts would have been personal distractions, thinking things such as: ‘You should work hard to be a good son and practice the Dharma.’ These are personal distractions, as I personally want him to learn the Dharma. But without this distracted thought, I was able to pick up on the real message.”

“The signal from his mother was weak, but I still picked up on it, as I was in emptiness. What does this mean? I was still, and my mind was still. And so, I could pick up on any signal that came through. But if my mind had been stirring, and I had been thinking: ‘What should I do about him; I should see if he’ll be my disciple,’ then I would have missed it, and then I wouldn’t have been unable to help him. The Buddha’s choice of words is interesting. ‘As though empty and free of distraction.’ When I helped him yesterday, I was as though empty and without thought. But as the message from his mother came in, my thoughts stirred, and I was moved to help his mother scold him. I helped his mother get to the heavens to practice so that she won’t come back looking for me, thus making it so that her son will obey and her daughter will have more faith in me. And does this not align with what I said earlier? ‘To teach sentient beings to cultivate virtuous roots.’ The Six Paramitas are difficult to explain.” At this time, an ordained disciple reported: “It is unfathomable. Abilities in meditation can give aid to sentient beings, solve their problems and liberate them from reincarnation.”

Rinpoche continued: “Now you all see. Once you have become my disciple, so long as you hold me in your thoughts, I will help you whenever I can, even in your death. This woman passed, and I sent her to the Realm of the Heavens; and yet, she still held to her concerns. And so I had to help her. Had I not helped her with this, she wouldn’t be able to attain higher fruition in the heavens, and even if I performed the Chod for her, she wouldn’t make it to the Pure Land due to these hindering concerns.”

“But today isn’t about me bragging about my divine knowledge and greater powers. This all comes from the sutras. Only those who practice the Six Paramitas can do such things, and endlessly benefit sentient beings. Of course, I could have ignored Disciple Yao’s family matters. What do I care if her children are wealthy or poor? But she is still my disciple, even in death. And so, it is like I always say: even if you leave my Buddhist Center, so long as you have taken refuge under me, I will still consider you my disciple in my heart, even if you don’t acknowledge me as your guru. For these difficult disciples, I don’t know how many years it will take to liberate them. It’s just like how when the Buddha walked the earth, he had disciples who didn’t listen to him, and even some who slandered him. And so, it is normal to be slandered. As the sutras state, demons do all in their power to hinder the Dharma.”

“The Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center absolutely hasn’t lasted from 1997 up to now because of my greatness. Rather, it is because of the ceaseless support and protection of His Holiness, generations of gurus, and the Dharma protectors. And so, you should practice Dharma Protecter Achi’s ritual every day. Do not be lazy, or lust after other dharma. Her Dharma texts are clear, and she helps us in our practices. She helps you directly, unlike the Sutra of Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, which just tells you to repeat the sacred name of Ksitigarbha over and over so that you can have good ghosts and deities to protect you. Instead, Achi’s aspiration and power help and bless you directly. What is the point here? You must believe all that your guru tells you, and not give rise to any wicked thoughts about your guru, rather than me having to fear you having wicked thoughts and saying unpleasant things.”

“Having lived to the age of 73 as of this year, I have really gotten ahead. I originally would have died before the age of 45, but I have been blessed and protected by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and made it 73. The fact that I am able to continue living is due to their blessings as well, as there are so many sentient beings to liberate. Therefore, it doesn’t matter who slanders me or treats me in whatever way. These are just the conditions of my karma. And whether you like it or not, in the hundred or more lifetimes before you attain Buddhahood, I am going to keep working to liberate you, as my vows say: ‘Before all sentient beings attain Buddhahood, I will not either.’ How do I help sentient beings to attain Buddhahood? I let them push me until I die. In this way, their grievances are vented, and they thus gain the opportunity to attain Buddhahood.”

“Today, I have explained the Six Paramitas. This is essential knowledge for anyone practicing the Bodhisattva Path, and it is of the utmost importance. Were it not for the fact that I practice the Paramitas in my life, I wouldn’t be able to explain them, as they cannot be understood from these literal texts without experience. But as I practice the Six Paramitas, and have this experience, I am able to do this.”

Take the phrase I just used for example. ‘As though empty and free of distraction.’ This is very difficult to explain. How can one think of emptiness while being without distraction? How do we explain this? We can’t, at least from the text alone. But thanks to what happened yesterday, I can give you this example as an explanation. I generally dwell in emptiness, as though without any distracted thought. But when something happens, and a sentient being needs help, my thoughts stir. In the Buddha realm, this would still be considered distracted thought. But for those of us who practice the Bodhisattva Path, this is not distraction. It is benefiting others. This is the difference between the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas: Buddhas are not moved easily, unless the sentient being imploring the Buddha is sufficiently earnest, and implores over and over. But even still, being moved doesn’t mean that Buddha will appear. It only means that, in a past life, this Buddha may have had a bond with you, and your aspiration is connected with him. The Buddha teaches us the Dharma, while the ones who help us are the Bodhisattvas, the Dharma protecters, and our guru. Only a Bodhisattva can implore the Buddha’s help directly.”

“The sutras are clear about this. Have you ever heard of a mortal going up to the Buddha to implore help? No. And so, based on what the sutra says, we can be certain that Elder Ugra had attained Bodhisattvahood, otherwise he wouldn’t have had the qualifications and karmic fortune to meet with the Buddha in person, much less implore the Dharma from him directly. But I don’t have this fortune, and I cannot see the Buddha in person. Born in the Era of Declining Dharma, with this current pandemic, you even have a hard time seeing your guru in person when you want to. This isn’t because I don’t want to meet with you; it is simply forbidden by the law. And so, we have to settle for the next best thing, and transmit the Dharma via Zoom. Is this any different? Of course not. You will still receive your blessings. So then, what’s the difference? You just feel like there’s a difference, because you want to see me in person before you will feel like you’ve been blessed. But in reality, you don’t need to see me. As long as you have faith in me, you will still receive my blessings.”

“The day I saw Disciple Yao’s daughter, I never gave her any verbal promise that I would help Yao with anything. I only told her daughter to do full prostrations. But did I help Yao anyway? Of course. And it was because I helped protect her consciousness that two holes appeared in her crown chakra after she was cremated. One hole was due to the release of power upon telling her daughter to do prostrations — this didn’t come from her prostrations, but from my blessings. And the other hole emerged from me protecting her consciousness.”

“Today, I have gone over the Six Paramitas to completion, and I hope that whether watching over Zoom or in person, everyone understands now that the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center promotes the Bodhisattva Path. We do certain things differently from others, but this is not heresy; we merely do things in a different spirit. The first thing we do on the Bodhisattva Path is let go. Not letting go of this and that makes you like Disciple Yao. She spent all her time thinking about her son without letting go, and when her son came to see me, I even had to pass on a message for her. This is not letting go. And as she wouldn’t let go, she was unable to learn the Bodhisattva Path in life; and in death, she was not cultivated in the path, and continued to harass her guru. But I am not reprimanding her. This is just her karmic condition. The other disciple was able to let go of all types of affinities, and I helped her.”

“You always say you are good to me. But just treating me well and showing me respect on the surface does no good. What matters is whether or not you listen. Why is it disciples Lin and Zhu and that ordained disciple didn’t listen? Simple: because they thought: ‘We are close to Rinpoche. This is what he did last week, so it must be what he will do this week.’ But no phenomena are unchanging, and I can change at any time. Why did I do things differently this time? Because I sensed the sentient beings coming this Saturday had an urgent matter for me. Disciple Yao had something she thought was important, and by resolving her concern, I made it easier for her to continue her practice in the Heaven Realm. But had I not done this, she wouldn’t be able to, as she would constantly be thinking about this matter.”

“Why didn’t Disciple Lin and Disciple Zhu listen? Because they thought they were my favorites, and that they knew everything about me. But only His Holiness, Dharma protectors, and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas know what I want to do. No one else knows. This is because practice the Bodhisattva Path is for but one aim: to help sentient beings. Perhaps today I will scold him harshly, and tomorrow I won’t scold him at all. All variety and form are constantly changing. Some people will go off and say: ‘Rinpoche yelled at me.’ And of course I did. Why wouldn’t I when they have done something wrong?”

“There’s nothing that can be done about this. You haven’t yet realized emptiness. However there is nothing to worry about. Before then, you only need to show complete reverence to your guru and the Three Jewels — this is your charity and offerings. But if you are irreverent, even if you give me offerings in cash, I will return them all. Why do you need to be reverent? So that you can cultivate the other five paramitas.”

“His Holiness doesn’t transmit the Dharma to me because I’ve given him a bunch of monetary offerings, but because I have been thoroughly reverent to him as my guru. What is reverence? Listening. Whatever he says, I just say ‘okay,’ and do it. And when I run into problems, I discuss them with him rather than giving up. Thus, through our discussions, we then come up with alternative solutions. What you say isn’t necessarily always right. Why is it my disciples behaved this way? Because they thought they were right. ‘That’s how it was last week, so this week must be the same.’ But the form and phenomena of the karmic conditions of sentient beings are too complex, and I cannot get a hold on all of them. The conditions of every Saturday are different. The reason I spent all this Saturday scolding people was because this is what was called for. Some people came to me to implore the Dharma with fake reverence, but I refused them all.”

“Don’t think that just because we are in the Era of Declining Dharma and things aren’t looking good that means I should transmit more to you and let you cultivate more Dharma methods. It is enough that you only practice the Dharma Protector’s ritual. Why add more on top of this? Have you already attained Bodhisattvahood? Wanting to learn this and that… The Dharma texts of the Dharma Protector Achi are clear: so long as you have faith in her, she will receive you in death and take you to her Pure Land. Do you think this little of Achi? The reason I perform so many different Dharma is because of the complexity of sentient beings. But it is the yidam that is most important.”

“Yesterday, I had an ordained disciple explain the importance of the fire offering to the believers in attendance. Who is qualified to perform this ritual? The first main qualification is that one must be proficient in meditation. Next, one must be attained in cultivation of the yidam. What does ‘attained’ mean? Being attuned with the yidam when liberating sentient beings. It doesn’t mean that I become the Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara before your eyes. If I sprouted two extra arms, I would instantly be on TV and become famous. But now, you need to understand what the Six Paramitas are, so that you don’t take the wrong path.”

Then, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led the disciples in performing the Dharma Protector Achi ritual and dedication prayer.

Afterwards, Rinpoche continued: “In her texts, it is stated: ‘Dharma Protector Achi upholds the teachings of the Buddha.’ This tells us that Achi is a Bodhisattva who has attained Dharmakaya, and a supramundane Dharma protector — yet her aspiration is to uphold and protect the teachings of the Dharma. Thus, simply put, she doesn’t uphold anything other than the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha. This means that if you implore anything else from her, she will not get involved, and this is made clear here. ‘Realize the vows of all sentient beings in accordance with the Buddha’s teaching.’ What does ‘vows’ mean? The aspirations of your practices — not your worldly desires. ‘In accordance with the Buddha’s teaching,’ means that she will not violate the law of cause and effect no matter what. And if you don’t have what it takes to become a Bodhisattva in this lifetime, she will not promise you that. How could you become a Bodhisattva without practicing in sequence? She will realize the aspirations of your practice in accordance with all of the teachings spoken by the Buddha and written in the sutras. But for anything that goes beyond this, she can’t and won’t fulfill you. Don’t think she has to give you whatever you ask for. Some of you say you want to learn the Phowa. Well then, implore Achi, and see if she teaches you. She certainly will not.”

“What is following the Buddha’s teaching? It means you prepare for practicing the Bodhisattva Path, and eventually attaining Buddhahood. But how can this happen when you don’t concern yourself with cultivating this path in life, only thinking about escaping from your suffering, and a future of comfort? Why would the Dharma Protector Achi help you? I always say: ‘Fine, implore Achi!’ But my agreement doesn’t necessarily mean I will perform the Phowa for you. This all comes from this phrase. You will not be granted that which you implore outside of the Buddha’s teaching. You clearly know that you are irreverent to your guru and the Three Jewels; so what makes you think you will get the Phowa? Why should I teach it to you? You don’t hold the Phowa in high enough regard, just thinking: ‘I want it, so you have to give it to me and teach me.’ But ask yourself, deep down: ‘Am I ready to be a Bodhisattva? Am I ready to sacrifice all of my personal enjoyment to help sentient beings?’ Take this pandemic for example. I could just go off and enjoy myself. Why should I toil every Saturday and Sunday just to benefit more sentient beings? Does this benefit me in any way? Not at all.”

“It’s like performing the fire offering ritual yesterday. Did this benefit me? No. I didn’t even get to eat, and I had to rush back to help more sentient beings. So then, are you ready to do this? What makes you think you should be able to learn the Phowa? This is illogical. It’s clearly stated here: you need Dharma Protector Achi to help you realize your vows — the aspirations of your practice. But you must not stray from the Buddha’s teaching. Achi upholds the guidance of the Buddha, and she will not help you with anything outside of what the Buddha taught.”

“Why do I expound on the Ratnakuta Sutra? Because it teaches us time and time again how to practice the Bodhisattva Path. It teaches us how to transform our minds, and how we should think. And so, how are you meant to become cultivated on the Bodhisattva Path when you don’t even have the right mindset? These two disciples are a clear example. One let go, and the other would not. The one who didn’t let go (Yao) went to the Heaven Realm, and no matter how I protected her or how many prostrations her daughter performed, that was as far as she could go. This is because she took refuge for 15 years, and was a vegetarian for at least that amount of time. But as the other disciple let go and followed the Buddha’s teaching, she reached the land of Amitabha. Both were my disciples, and both were poor and didn’t make offerings. So then, why is there such a discrepancy? One saw me once a week, and the other didn’t visit me for 7 or 8 years. This is because she didn’t follow the Buddha’s teaching, thinking attending pujas meant she would get me to perform the Dharma for her.”

“In pujas, the Buddha’s teaching comes first. Exoteric Buddhism is most important, and you can’t learn Tantra without the basis of Exoteric Buddhism. What is Exoteric Buddhism? The reasoning spoken by the Buddha, and the teachings he has given us. If you won’t even listen to the Buddha, to whom will you listen? You go around with these false beliefs all the time, thinking you will be blessed just for attending pujas, and you won’t get this illness, or meet with that hardship. But the sutras don’t say this. They teach us to practice exactly as we’re taught. But you don’t listen and practice as you are told, instead always wanting to do things your own way.”

“Gurus who teach True Dharma in the Era of Declining Dharma have a tough job, as no one likes these methods. People want to just come in, kneel, and toss their offerings over. And then they think: ‘Now you have to do whatever I want.’ But this isn’t what the Buddha taught. We have specific methods for cultivation on the Bodhisattva Path. And so, how could you expect to get by without practicing the Six Paramitas? I propagate the Bodhisattva Path, and all that our sutras, mantras, and Dharma texts teach are methods from this path. So, even if you aren’t prepared to enact the methods of this path in this lifetime, you need to at least listen. What can I do if you won’t even listen? I can save you now while I’m still alive. But once I’m gone, who is going to save you? If you don’t even have faith in me while I’m alive, I don’t believe you will after I’m dead.”

“Think about it. This includes those of you watching over Zoom. Very few Buddhist Centers teach the Ratnakuta Sutra, for fear that people will give up, thinking it’s just too much. It’s like that ordained disciple said: ‘This is getting difficult to understand.’ But of course you don’t understand! Because you haven’t yet realized Bodhisattvahood. However, everyone wants to understand; once you understand, you will be a Bodhisattva. But right now, you don’t need to understand. You just need to do these things, and change yourself. What makes you think you should get everything you want just for making a small offering when you haven’t even done anything or changed at all? This will never happen. You must remember this.”

“Why is it good things happen to those who are supporting the construction of the new temple? Because this temple isn’t going to belong to me when it’s finished. Although I have named it, and will be managing it, this Buddhist center is being constructed not for me, but for all sentient beings. It belongs to no one person, but rather to the whole Drikung Kagyu Order. His Holiness wants me to pass on my lineage. But my methods of cultivation are no different from others. I have merely chosen a more powerful and toilsome path. It requires powerful effort to help sentient beings escape the cycle of life and death.”

“You have witnessed this. One disciple had faith and the other didn’t, and yet I helped both of them. I helped the one who hardly came to see me regardless. That is, I help any who have faith in me. Of course, you will say: ‘I don’t see you doing anything.’ But I don’t actually need to do anything. As the sutras say, it is enough just for me to be moved. But I don’t need to do anything. Is there so much we need to do right now? The sutra tells us that we need only do ‘a few things’ to perfect the Six Paramitas. So what does this mean? It would seem these things are not so few; the Buddha spoke with reserve for fear of scaring you off.”

“The sutra is clear here. How do we practice the Six Paramitas when in seclusion? A lot of you don’t go back to review the Dharma I teach after the puja is over. But if you don’t review it, you will end up being eliminated gradually from our Buddhist Center. For example, even if I want to, I can’t have all my disciples attend the puja today because of the ordinances. It shows to us that as soon as impermanence manifests, everything changes. Don’t take these things for granted. I am always telling you this. After all, we are but microscopic entities in the universe. Don’t think: ‘This is the way things should be; we are all reverent, and so this Buddhist Center’s existence is a given.’ That isn’t necessarily true. This all falls on the shoulders of you sentient beings — and your abilities in this matter rely on your faith in and reverence toward your guru, the Dharma protectors, and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.”

As the puja came to a perfect completion, all of the attendees thanked Rinpoche for his compassionate performance of the Dharma and for bestowing auspicious teachings, benefiting boundless sentient beings. Everyone then stood up and gave His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche a reverent sendoff.

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Updated on June 25, 2020