His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings — July 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.

Sutra: “Abiding in the ground of the laity and practicing the precepts of the ordained.”

“This confirms what I’ve always said about ‘incarnation in lay appearance, but with ordained mind.’ Whether or not one is incarnated in ordained appearance is up to the causes and conditions of each individual. And if you are a layperson, then there is only one path for you: the Bodhisattva Path. The Buddha said to let go of meditation, and this is a frightening revelation for many ordained Zen practitioners, as they can’t understand why they would do that. Although the sutras tell us to cultivate the Four Heavens of Meditation, we should use the expedient means and not to attain the fruition of arhathood. When in meditation, our minds don’t move, and when our minds don’t move, we can’t benefit sentient beings. Thus, the Ratnakuta Sutra repeatedly emphasizes the importance of emptiness.”

“Again, I must emphasize that ‘emptiness’ doesn’t mean ‘nothingness.’ Don’t think this means just sitting and staring into space. This is incorrect. That’s all just non-Buddhist paths attaching themselves to the Buddha. The ‘not thinking and staring into space’ people talk about out there is all wrong. And for those of you who have practiced this type of meditation, if you don’t give it up, and you continue using your past experience in your meditation now, you will be doing it wrong. We haven’t yet officially taught meditation here at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center. And although His Holiness has taught it several times, he has only revealed expedient method. If you want to really practice meditation, in the Drikung Kagyu lineage, we focus primarily on Mahamudra. And to learn this, you must complete the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices.”

“Why do we meditate? Not to enter meditative state, but to gradually subdue our chaotic minds through practice, and reduce wandering thoughts. In fact, in the beginning, Mahamudra is used to train our minds so that we can concentrate, and learn to focus, and only then do we start cultivating toward fruition. The meditation and emptiness Shakyamuni Buddha speaks of in the Ratnakuta Sutra is actually the same as those conceptualized in Mahamudra. Mahamudra wasn’t invented by the Drikung Kagyu lineage, but rather is a kind of dharma method of cultivation. As I have practiced and attained Mahamudra, I can tell that many of the meditative realms the Buddha speaks of in the Ratnakuta Sutra are realms of Mahamudra.”

“So then, why didn’t Shakyamuni Buddha ever talk about this previously? Because we are all equipped with different karma, root capacity, and karmic fortune. In the Tibetan tradition of meditation, we have Dzogchen in the Nyingma Order and Mahamudra in the Kagyu Order. So don’t think meditation is just crossing your legs, closing your eyes, pondering some phrases, counting the breath, and so on. These methods aren’t necessarily suitable for everyone. In the Ratnakuta Sutra, the Buddha teaches us the principles behind various mundane matters. And here, the Buddha emphasizes that as laymen, when we practice the Bodhisattva Path, we must uphold five precepts just like the ordained. But I’ve already gone over this, so I won’t repeat myself here.”

“Thus, the Bodhisattva Path isn’t about worship, repentance, burning incense, doing volunteer work, and reading the sutras every day, and then thinking you are cultivating the Dharma. This path is a different kind of practice altogether, though it doesn’t stray from what the Buddha taught. And so, to practice the Bodhisattva Path, one must act in accordance with everything taught in the Ratnakuta Sutra.”

Sutra: “Lay Bodhisattvas abide in the ground of the laity. They should diligently forge progress in cultivating wisdom.”

“‘Diligently forging progress’ means putting our lives and all of our time toward progress in our practice on the Bodhisattva path without any excuses or compromise. Otherwise, if you compromise for any worldly conditions and don’t heed the Dharma as a result, you won’t get far on this path. For example, the Ratnakuta Sutra teaches us to view our spouses and family members as karmic creditors and jailers. But who among you does this? Not many. You forget all about the Dharma at any mention of family.”

“The Buddha never said to give up family relationships. But he did say that they are made up of gratitude and grievance accumulated over lifetimes and focused into one. Those who understand the Dharma use gratitude and grievance as a motivating force for their practices. But those who don’t understand the Dharma, view gratitude and grievance as dearest and most precious, and never want to let go. And so, when you don’t want to let go of family, you are incapable of ‘compassionate attunement with all sentient beings’ as described by the Buddha.”

“How can you respect your guru, the Dharma, and the Three Jewels if you aren’t even capable of ‘compassionate attunement’ with sentient beings? It is because you practice with desire. Last time, we talked about ‘not cultivating desire’ — we don’t practice the Dharma in order to learn about and fulfill our desires. And yet, any time your guru doesn’t give you what you want, you lose your temper, and say you can’t help it. Thus, the Buddha reminds us that practice the Bodhisattva Path means not cultivating desire. That is to say, we don’t use the Dharma to try to fulfill our desires. And only through such practice can we become attuned.”

“So, the Buddha reminds us that through ‘compassionate attunement with sentient beings,’ we naturally are without hate and grievances, and only then can our lives change. The reason we have so many vexations and afflictions is because of gratitude and grievance. Confucianism is clear that when a child lacks filial piety and does wrong, it is the parents’ fault. And likewise, the sutras also tell us that if a child does wrong and his parents don’t correct him, they will go to hell.”

“But the children of many of my disciples don’t respect their guru and the Three Jewels. So, who taught them this? My disciples themselves. They think this is fine, because they are family, and so they set the Dharma aside, to the extent that they don’t even admonish or correct their children for disrespecting the Three Jewels. They think it is fine, and say they’re just in a bad mood, and that’s why they don’t want to learn about Buddhism. This isn’t diligent forging of progress, as the Buddha says. But a lot of people think they don’t need to be diligent, and just come to implore blessings.”

“I’ve stressed this over and over. Everyone knows how to implore the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for help. Who doesn’t say such things when they worship and burn incense? And yet, people die from car accidents every day. So why do these things keep happening when the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are protecting us? Because the Buddhas can’t change our karma, nor can they change the karmic retribution of sentient beings. They can only create virtuous conditions for us, and help us to change and transform our karma for ourselves. But they can’t give us these things.”

“I’ve also repeatedly emphasized that if the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas just gave us everything, I wouldn’t need to practice at all. I could just implore His Holiness every day. Why would I need to practice and do recitations? This is His Holiness’s seventh incarnation! So then, why can’t I do this? Because this is wrong; I must not cultivate desire. If you all just use your guru and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for their help, although they will be able to aid you in overcoming calamities in the beginning, in the end, you only have yourself to rely on.”

“I, too, continued to encounter calamity and hardships after taking refuge: cancer; a failed business; divorce; disobedient children; and not having enough money to eat. All of the tragedies of the mundane world fell upon me. But I didn’t give up, saying Buddhism doesn’t work and didn’t give me what I wanted. But a lot of people leave with this attitude — despite having recited the words: ‘refuge in the Dharma, with the respect of departure from desire’ when taking refuge. You don’t listen, and don’t accept these things! And this is why the Dharma is in decline. But a lot of people don’t like my insistence on such matters, because these aren’t the popular ways on the market.”

“The Buddha didn’t teach Humanistic Buddhism. He taught liberation from the cycle of life and death, the Bodhisattva Path, and helping sentient beings. When it comes to our everyday human problems, Confucianism and other religions are sufficient. So what is the difference between Confucianism and other religions and Buddhism? They aren’t as toilsome as Buddhism! There must be clear distinctions between them; and so, our direction for the future is different.”

“It’s like that disciple’s story, from right before today’s puja. Her father had never studied the Dharma or worshiped the Buddha in life, but as she kept attending my Chod Pujas, he was able to ascend to the Heavenly Realm. And the situation she described is recorded in the sutras as well. Her father ate meat and killed sentient life. So why was he able to go to the Heavenly Realm? Because, as the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows teaches us, we can undertake expansive dharma activities in place of our deceased relatives — even though she never gave me any offerings. She gave no offerings, and she was even slow in donating for the new temple, despite having a stable income and being able to afford a house and car. But I never minded, merely heeding the words: ‘compassionate attunement.’”

“So why did her father want to make sure she and her sister knew what had happened? Because he wanted to remind them of how they are supposed to treat me! You all think: ‘Rinpoche, you are compassionate; let my father ascend to the Heavens.’ But what makes you think I have to do this just because I’m a Rinpoche? The Ratnakuta Sutra is important for those of us who practice the Bodhisattva Path, but don’t think that means it doesn’t matter to the rest of you. You might say, ‘I’m not on the Bodhisattva Path; I’m just here to implore good health, make my daughter start listening, and have a better life.’ If this is the case, then please, don’t bother coming, because the Ratnakuta Sutra says no such things. So why squander your time here?”

“Yesterday, a believer came in to ask about her husband’s illness, and I admonished her the second she opened her mouth. She said she’s attended several of the grand pujas I’ve presided over, and now that her husband is in this condition, she wants my help. But luckily, I have a good memory. At every grand puja, I always tell everyone in clear terms that I will help anyone in attendance who doesn’t go on to practice to form ties with Amitabha Buddha in this lifetime. But I’ve never said that if you come to one of my grand pujas you will be rid of illness, or get a wife, bear kids, or get rich.”

“A lot of people think it is easy to form a bond with Amitabha Buddha, and that just reciting his name accomplishes this. But this isn’t the case. When a recorder repeats the name of Amitabha every day, does it form a bond as well? Is this not complete nonsense? And so, it is toilsome work for me to be a Rinpoche nowadays. And the sutras go on to tell us why this is the case.”

“You think I have such a comfortable life, but I really don’t. His Holiness is always telling me to take a break, but how can I? When I see you going around with such attitudes, on the verge of falling to the Three Evil Realms, I have to put all of my life and brain cells behind saving whoever among you I can. You live these great lives, and then think you’ve cultivated these things for yourselves. But really, the reason you’ve been able to take refuge under me is because I owe you each a debt from a past life.”

Sutra: “Elder Ugra spoke to the World Honored One, ‘In lay life, I do as you teach. I thusly abide in development of the great Buddha path.’”

“Speaking to the Buddha on our behalf, Elder Ugra said: ‘In lay life, I do as you teach.’ Thus, we aren’t lax in our home lives. ‘Teach’ doesn’t mean more teachings, but rather that in lay life, all of our thoughts and ways of thinking must uphold what the World Honored One taught. But do you do this? After every puja, you just go home, and see what’s on television, and then you go on to argue with someone. The only difference is whom you argue with. And if this is what you do, you aren’t acting as Elder Ugra said.”

“Continuing to show reverence in our home lives as though hearing the words of the Buddha in that moment — this is difficult, right? When you get home, you argue about this and that. Your son starts badgering you, or else it is whoever, or so-and-so. And so, is difficult for you. The Sutra of Upasaka Precepts is clear that it is difficult for the laity to practice the Bodhisattva path, as negative karma clings to you. Though the ordained have negative karma too, they have less of it, and this makes the path easier for them.”

“It is because of these difficulties that the Buddha reminds us to be diligent. Don’t think you can just lay in bed spread-eagle when you get home — cutting yourself slack, giving in to your desires, and thinking about how to get this and that done. This isn’t keeping your guru and the Buddha in your heart. You live one way in your home life and another for the two and a half hours you are here. And then, you go back to the way you were when you leave, merely putting on an act at the Buddhist center. After all, we can’t see you clearly with those face masks on. As soon as you get home and they come off, you revert, and your malevolence shows. As such, the Ratnakuta Sutra doesn’t say anything pleasant; it’s all admonishments.”

“‘One must thusly abide in development of the great Buddha Path.’ Here, abiding doesn’t mean to live here, but for your mind to dwell in this place. This is what you must do in order to progress on the extensive Path of Buddhahood. If you are to achieve attainment on this path, the first thing you must do is escape the cycle of reincarnation. Second, you must attain the Bodhisattva Path. In addition, you must become cultivated from the First Ground to the Seventeenth before you can attain Buddhahood. But if you don’t do any of this, and just think I will send you to the Heavenly Realm, you will still reincarnate thereafter! So don’t think you’ll be liberated from reincarnation if you get to the Heavens. Even if you make it to the highest Heaven of Neither-Thought-Nor-Non-Thought, you will still reincarnate — and you will go to hell first, because you will have used up all of your karmic fortune without having eradicated your past negative karma.”

“And so, these two lines are important, both for the laity and the ordained. If when you ordained disciples return to your dorms, you simply revert to your old ways, that isn’t cultivation. Only when you observe the teachings of the World Honored One in your home lives will your minds abide, and step forward onto the endlessly expanding Path of Buddhahood. But this doesn’t mean you’ve become a Buddha. Some people like to debate this. For example, the Lotus Sutra states that reverence for and worship of the Buddha is Buddhahood, and so people will argue that they’ve done worship, and thus must have attained Buddhahood. But that is not so. This just means that you have what it takes to walk the Path of Buddhahood. As for how far you have to go, that depends on your karma and resolve.”

“In simple terms, for lay practitioners of the Bodhisattva Path, anything you encounter along the way is helpful to your practice. When your children aren’t listening to you and disrespect the Three Jewels, you see the weight of your karmic hindrance, and know you aren’t cultivated. On the other hand, when they suddenly want to go out to eat with you, and you are so happy, this shows you that you haven’t let go. Then, at the time of your death, you will know you are wrong. You must realize that your children can’t liberate you — not unless they are attained to the level I am.”

Sutra: “I must also practice all of the precepts of the ordained.”

“This means that although you are of lay appearance in this life, you must learn and observe all of the precepts of the ordained. This doesn’t mean the bhikkhu and bhikkhuni precepts, as those require official oaths. Rather, it means that the Bodhisattva Precepts taken by the ordained and the laity are the same. At the beginning of the Ratnakuta Sutra, the Buddha states that being ordained doesn’t mean you observe more precepts, nor does being a layman mean you observe fewer.”

“It is only the Bodhisattva Path that both the ordained and the laity are able to practice. The laity can’t cultivate the Hinayana Buddhism, because once you get to practicing meditation, you have to sever your ties to sexual desire. And how can the laity do this when they have spouses and children? They can’t. So, does this mean they can’t practice in this lifetime? The Ratnakuta Sutra states that lay Bodhisattvas can have families and accumulate wealth, and have cars and servants. They come from your karma and fortune. These are all mentioned in the sutra. So, you don’t have to give up all of your desires just because you are a lay practitioner. Rather, this just means that whatever comes of karma comes, and we don’t grasp at it. For example, if your child calls you all of the sudden to say they want to go out to eat for your birthday, if you are happy, that is grasping. And so, here it is made clear that you must not neglect your practice when back at home. Shakyamuni Buddha had great foresight, and he knew people of the Age of Declining Dharma would be like this, reverting to their old behaviors upon leaving the Buddhist center. Thus, he gave us this reminder of how to act in our home lives.”

Sutra: “Then the World Honored One smiled. When all of the Buddhas smile, their faces emit colorful lights of cyan, yellow, red, and white, illuminating the endless and boundless world, transcending Brahmaloka, and covering the rays of the moon and sun.”

“The Buddha didn’t smile for no reason. And he wouldn’t smile because he liked you — because you were doing well in your practice; because of your offerings; because of your dignified appearance; or for good recitations. Rather, what mattered was whether or not the words you spoke benefited others. These words from Elder Ugra admonish us that this is what we laity must do. He spoke on our behalf, and this delighted the Buddha, because he understood the Dharma, and was using it comprehensively in his life.”

“Why do I talk about using the Dharma in everyday life? This is why. We don’t practice the Dharma so that we can sit cross-legged at home all day, reciting mantras and smiling at whomever we see. We must not forget the teachings of the Buddha when back at home! And we must not forget the ordained precepts of the Bodhisattva Path that the Buddha taught. We must persist, and uphold them! And so, I keep reminding you not to betray your precepts of refuge for anything. If someone says they’ll give you ten million dollars if you eat a bowl of meat soup, you can’t just eat it first and then repent to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas later. For example, I had a disciple before who ate chicken soup just because his mother-in-law asked him to. Why? Because he didn’t think anyone would know or anything would happen, and thought he could just repent later. But this isn’t upholding his precepts. If you do things like this on purpose because you think you can get away with it, that is ‘not believing’! And so, here we’re reminded not to be careless when returning to our home lives.”

“Thus, when the World Honored One heard Elder Ugra say this, he smiled. ‘When all of the Buddhas smile, their faces emit colorful lights of cyan, yellow, red, and white, illuminating the endless and boundless world, transcending Brahmaloka, and covering the rays of the moon and sun.’ This means that when a Buddha smiles, blue, yellow, red, and white light emits from his face, and illuminates the boundless world — the Ten Directions of the Dharma Realm — and spreads to anywhere with sentient beings, even transcending Brahmaloka, the highest heaven of a non-Buddhist path. Here, ‘covering’ the rays of the moon and sun’ doesn’t mean concealing them, but making it so that the moonlight and sunlight don’t hurt our eyes, but rather appear soft.”

“The Buddha emitting lights means that what Elder Ugra said is beneficial to sentient beings, and this is why the Buddha accepted his offerings. As he did accept the offerings, he illuminated the world with his light. In other sutras, it is stated that if a person has achieved attainment in reciting mantras, the mandala and statue of the Buddha will glow in the midst of his recitations, as will he. And this is what this is talking about. When we recite in Tantra, we aren’t thinking of you mere thousand-or-so individuals. Rather, this light is emitted to all of the beings of the Six Realms, and this delights the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. This isn’t just something I’m saying. If this wasn’t in the sutras, it would be truly strange that anyone is able to do this.”

“Thus, this passage verifies what I often say about the phenomena that occur when one is attained in mantra recitations. Why did the Buddha say this? Because although the words of Elder Ugra were language, they were really also a kind of mantra — words that help sentient beings practice. After all, all mantras are words that help sentient beings in their practices. As soon as these words are uttered, they become a light that benefits vast sentient beings.”

“Actually, when we do recitations correctly, they are good for our health. It’s like when I was reciting just now, my whole body became hot and started sweating — not becoming cooler and cooler like you say. So why does this happen to you? Because your hearts are cold; you don’t accept the Dharma, reciting nonsense, not heeding my teachings, and even inventing your own Sanskrit voices. When you follow a guru, you must do exactly as he teaches. Reciting mantras isn’t about recitations that sound nice, but rather attaining compassion and emptiness. If you can do this, then anything you recite becomes a mantra.”

“Why is it we attach so much importance to the Great Six-Syllable Mantra in Tibetan Buddhism? Because we don’t have such a deep connection with Amitabha Buddha, whereas Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara has a deep bond with the Saha World; and so long as any sentient being from this world implores her, she will liberate them. Further, Avalokiteshvara is a returning Buddha — an ancient Buddha returning on her vow. Moreover, she is Amitabha’s disciple, and after Amitabha enters nirvana, she will inherit the Western Pure Land.”

“Some people believe some special dharma methods need to be cultivated in order to transfer consciousness. In fact, in Tantrism, unless you have mastered the Avalokiteshvara dharma method, you won’t achieve attainment in any other methods you practice. For this reason, Drubwang Rinpoche used to advocate doing 100,000,000 recitations of the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, and this is where this comes from. This is also why we do 45 days of Great Six-Syllable Mantra recitations at the end of every year at the Drikung Thil Monastery.”

“And so, if you recite the Great Six-Syllable Mantra well, your health will gradually improve, as this mantra moves the six chakras. The ‘om’ sound corresponds to the crown chakra; ‘mani’ to the throat chakra; ‘padme’ to the heart chakra; and ‘hum’ to the solar plexus chakra. Reciting the six syllables correctly doesn’t refer to the accuracy of your pronunciation, but rather being of correct mindset (compassion). If you recite correctly, these syllables will not only allow you to be liberated from the cycle of life and death, but also benefit your health.”

“However, if you recite carelessly, or stretch out the syllables, like one of my ordained disciples likes to do, it won’t do you any good. The ‘hum’ sound needs to be cut off; if it carries over to the next syllable, that is incorrect. Why? Because then it becomes a different sound. Therefore when you hear me reciting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, I always recite each syllable clearly. I recite very many times, but always clearly. When you recite ‘hum’ enough, your qi will be replenished. But if you recite ‘hum’ incorrectly, and stretch it out, you will lose your qi.”

“Where does the natural breath come from? While still in the womb, we breathe with our dantian and solar plexus chakras; the umbilical cord is connected to the abdomen, and air enters through it. Do you know why the doctor slaps your buttock when you are born? So that you can start using your lungs to breathe. But then, once you start breathing with your lungs, your qi begins to disperse. And so, we have to use the dantian to breathe in order to gather qi, and the ‘hum’ sound helps us to activate dantian and gather qi. You might think: ‘But doesn’t this send our qi outward?’ As a matter of fact, the ‘hum’ syllable clears our qi channels for us. Also, in some non-Buddhist paths, certain sounds are used for training in qi circulation.”

Sutra: “It circles the body thrice, and enters Tathagata’s crown.”

“This is Tantra, and it comes up when Tantric practice gets to the outer aspects. A lot of people say there is no Tantra in Buddhism, but this is talking about Tantra. How does one make light return, circle the body three times, and enter the crown chakra? Since you haven’t practiced Tantra, I must explain this passage based on its literal meaning. There are countless Buddhas among the Ten Directions of the Dharma Realm. Not only are there Buddhas here on earth, but according to the sutras, any world with a galaxy has a Buddha. And as modern science has proven there are billions of galaxies in the cosmos, there are likewise as many Buddhas.”

“When the Buddha’s lights blessed the sentient beings of the Ten Directions, all of the other Buddhas received the lights of Shakyamuni Buddha as well. Thus, their lights reflected back onto him. Why? Because Buddhas wouldn’t want to owe others a favor. That is, when one sends blessings, others send more blessings right back, and in this way everyone is enhanced. Contrarily, those who recite mantras only for themselves and their families are without merit and blessings.”

“When we practice Tantra, we do not recite for ourselves, but for all sentient beings, while making offerings to our gurus and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. And though Tantra is mentioned here, you can’t practice it yet; you are incapable. You don’t understand where this light comes from, and how it enters the crown chakra. And what happens then? In some non-Buddhist paths, they teach you to imagine the energy of the universe coming down from the crown chakra, and say what happens next, etc. But this is all nonsense. If you absorbed the universe’s energy, you would explode. And accidentally absorbing certain bad energies would have the same effect.”

“Here, the Buddha mentions Tantra. But he doesn’t say where the light goes after it enters the body, or what it does. Why? Because Tantra isn’t to be transmitted widely. The Buddha was merely bringing up this subject, telling us: it is emitted, returns, and enters our bodies. And those who have been transmitted the Simplified Avalokiteshvara Ritual are all familiar with this. But don’t tell anyone else what you know. A lot of people who practice Exoteric Buddhism like to criticize saying there is no Tantra in Buddhism. But this is Tantra, from Kriyayoga and Charyayoga. If there is no Tantra, why would light be emitted, return, and enter Tathagata’s crown? What would this mean? And how would it enter the crown? Where is the crown chakra?”

Sutra: “At that time, Ananda saw the Buddha smile. He rose from his seat, fixed his clothing, uncovered his right shoulder, knelt upon his right knee, and spoke to the Buddha.”

“The Venerable Ananda was one of the Buddha’s attendants, and he understood right away. The Buddha never smiled, and so, when he saw this, he immediately stood up from where he was seated, and tidied his clothing and appearance. But you don’t do this. Some believers have even come into our Buddhist center in shorts. And this is disrespectful.”

Sutra: “For what cause does the Great Meritorious World Honored One smile? The Buddhas and the Honored One do not smile without cause.”

“At this time, the Venerable Ananda implored on behalf of sentient beings: ‘Buddha, why are you smiling? For what causes and conditions are you smiling?’ The Buddhas and World Honored One do not smile without cause. Likewise, you say I always look serious. But why would I smile without cause? Do you take me as mundane? Anyone who has read the sutras knows, in the Heaven of Desires, if desire exists between a man and woman, then a handshake is like becoming one. Similarly in higher-level heavens, the same goes for a smile. And so, how could I smile without cause? For example, some of you have dated and gotten married. What happens when you see someone you like and smile at them? And what happens if someone you like smiles at you? Desire arises. And so, the Buddha didn’t smile without reason. He only smiled when he had cause to.”

Sutra: “The Buddha said to Ananda, ‘Did you see Elder Ugra make offerings to Tathagata? He wants to cultivate the Lion’s Roar.’”

“The Buddha said to the Venerable Ananda: ‘You just saw Elder Ugra. Did he make offerings to Tathagata? He wants to practice the Lion’s Roar.’ The ‘Lion’s Roar’ isn’t loud yelling, but rather all that he speaks helps sentient beings. A lot of people think this means yelling admonishments, but it doesn’t. Rather, when true content of the Dharma benefits other beings, that is the Lion’s Roar.”

Sutra: “Ananda said, ‘I saw his offerings, World Honored One. And I saw virtuous passing.’”

“The Venerable Ananda said: ‘Yes, World Honored One, I saw it. I saw Elder make offerings to the Buddha, and I saw virtuous passing.’ ‘Virtuous passing’ doesn’t mean dying, but rather that the words he spoke made it so that the negative conditions of future generations of practitioners on the Bodhisattva Path would die under virtuous methods. Thus, no negative causes and conditions will bind you. A lot of people explain virtuous passing as a good death, but this is wrong. How could you die comfortably when your negative causes and conditions remain? That’s not possible. How could bad causes and conditions become virtuous? And how do we use virtuous methods to eliminate negative causes and conditions? We can only do this through practicing the Bodhisattva Path. So don’t think recitations alone are enough. What did Elder say we must practice in our home lives? The Bodhisattva Path. And if you want virtuous passing without practicing this path, you will get a negative passing.”

Sutra: “‘Ananda, Elder Ugra abides in the ground of the laity in the Bhadda Kalpa. Tathagata, arhat, samyak-samBuddha, incarnated on Earth.’”

“The Buddha is talking about Elder Ugra’s past lives during the Bhadda Kalpa. In the Bhadda Kalpa, the Buddha then was not the Buddha of this generation, but a previous one. ‘Tathagata, arhat, samyak-samBuddha, incarnated on Earth.’ Elder Ugra appeared when there was a Buddha, and this isn’t his first incarnation. He couldn’t have become so cultivated if it was. Rather, there were other Buddhas in his other lifetimes and kalpas — not Shakyamuni Buddha in this lifetime. That is, he was around before, too, in past lives.”

Sutra: “Always a layman, making offerings with reverence, and upholding True Dharma across Tathagatas.”

“Though he has always incarnated in lay appearance lifetime after lifetime, he has made offerings and been reverent, constantly and respectfully making offerings to all of the Buddhas, and upholding True Dharma. He doesn’t violate or go against his vows of action, speech, and thought, and lives according to the Dharma. And this is upholding True Dharma. Don’t be sly and think you can just repent after any wrongdoings. This isn’t upholding True Dharma. A lot of people have this kind of attitude. ‘What’s wrong with losing my temper, or getting angry at Rinpoche?’ There’s nothing wrong with this for me, and you will be fine, too. But this means that you aren’t practicing the Bodhisattva Path. And what’s the problem with this? Well, you won’t be able to transform the negative karma, conduct, and character you’ve accumulated over lifetimes.”

“The Buddha gave specific instructions, and taught us that attunement with other beings is compassion — including attunement with your guru. And if you have hatred in your heart for your guru, that’s not the Bodhisattva Path. And it’s fine if you don’t want to practice the Bodhisattva Path. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and I won’t get angry, punish you, or deny you blessings. It’s like I said before. Even if you leave me in this lifetime, my vow is ‘not to attain Buddhahood until all sentient beings have.’ And so, there will certainly come a lifetime that I liberate you. But I am not able to do it in this one. What does this mean for you? Just keep on suffering in further reincarnation. However, I’m a bit impatient, and want everyone connected to me in this lifetime to be liberated from cyclic existence. For this to happen, you have to listen. If you don’t want to listen, instead act on desires, and do things your own way rather than living in accordance with the Buddha’s teachings, then there is nothing I can do, and it doesn’t matter what I say.”

“Some people say: ‘I left the Buddhist center, but nothing happened to me!’ I’ve said before, too, that of course nothing will happen to you. You practiced at our Buddhist center for years. And no matter what, we have pujas here every Sunday, and perform all kinds of rituals for you on the first and second day of every Chinese New Year, as well as on other occasions — helping you to plant all sorts of virtuous seeds of causes and conditions. And so, even if you leave me, you will still have your karmic fortune. It’s just that this fortune isn’t merit, which is used for practice. And so, it only helps you in getting by in life. A lot of people value their karmic fortune in the mundane world. But for us practitioners, this kind of fortune gets used up quickly, and only merit lasts forever. Very importantly, on the Bodhisattva Path, we cultivate merit rather than karmic fortune.”

“I want to be clear and on the record that I never harm you or try to have you dealt with. And if you leave, that doesn’t mean things will get bad for you, or you will become down on your luck, and so on. After all, I have been creating virtuous conditions for you for years, and helping you plant seeds of good karmic fortune. But this fortune can’t be used to make you become cultivated; it is merely for mundane living. And so, you may say: ‘It’s fine. I’m getting by well.’ And of course you are fine. I won’t get angry with you, nor will the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and Dharma protectors. However, it is because you are no longer practicing the Bodhisattva Path that the Dharma protectors let you leave the Buddhist center — so that you won’t slander the Buddha, the Dharma, and your guru. Therefore don’t think we become enemies if you leave. Have I ever harmed you here at the Buddhist center? No. And I’ve never set minimums for your offerings, either.”

“I’ve never said you have to give a certain amount in offerings to attend pujas. And I even used my own money for our grand puja this year to help you build karmic fortune. So, what more do you want from me? This is a bit much! A bit out of the ordinary! Me and the Dharma aside, even if you get into an argument with a friend, that doesn’t mean you become enemies the next time you meet. Why would you? This is a strange way of looking at things. And so, the Ratnakuta Sutra has taught us a lot today. What has it taught us? That you are wrong, and don’t listen.”

Sutra: “Consistently abiding in the precepts of the ordained in lay life. Broadly hearing the supreme Bodhi teachings of Tathagata.”

“Although incarnated in lay appearance, Elder Ugra was of ordained mind — aiming to escape the cycle of life and death and reincarnation. He didn’t shave his head; that is for the bhikkhu and bhikkhuni. To the Buddha, ‘ordainment’ meant leaving the home of cyclic existence. If we are to do this, we of course must uphold the precepts practiced by ordained Bodhisattvas, as well as all that was taught by the Buddha. For example, we must change our attitudes toward family. That doesn’t mean viewing family members as our benefactors or enemies, but rather recognizing them as our karmic affinities. The child you end up with depends on your karma. And no matter how much you love them, or how much they love you, you will eventually part, and nothing will remain in death. The sutras are clear that when you die, only your guru and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can liberate you. No method, medicine, or amount of money in the world can save you from death and the cycle of reincarnation. Only the Dharma can help you. Once more, why is it Elder Ugra became so cultivated? Because he was of ordained mind despite being a layman lifetime after lifetime.”

“‘Broadly hearing’ doesn’t refer to the amount one hears. It means having an open mind, and accepting the words of Tathagata, rather than narrow-mindedly thinking: ‘Everything Rinpoche says is critical of me. He isn’t telling me what I want to hear.” This isn’t having an open mind. The words I speak today aren’t my own, but the words of the Buddha. It is the Buddha who is telling me how to speak to you. And if you don’t open your minds, but instead listen from greed, hatred, and ignorance, how are you going to understand and experience the compassion of the Buddha and his Bodhi teachings to us? You won’t be able to, as you remain within your own selfish desires — regardless of what they are.”

“Some people withdraw from refuge as soon as I give them permissions. But withdrawal isn’t a punishment, or something for you to protest in silence. If you withdraw from refuge, you lose your bond with me in this lifetime. But at the very least, you must not harbor hatred; you can come back in a future life! How long will this take? I don’t know. Perhaps several thousand years will pass without another chance. If you don’t take advantage of this opportunity in this life, the next won’t come easily.”

Sutra: “Then the Great Ananda said to Elder Ugra, ‘What joy and benefit do you find in lay life? Is there sage wisdom?’”

“Venerable Ananda was truly amazing. He asked: ‘Elder, you are a layman. What benefit do you see in lay practice?’ Is he asking what joy there is in lay practice? (Eternal joy.) And, can one attain sage wisdom in lay practice — the wisdom to escape from cyclic existence? Even the Venerable Ananda asked this. Why? For the sake of future generations. Because many people wonder: ‘How do the laity become cultivated?’ There are many ordained practitioners in Taiwan, all of who do not come to my Buddhist center, with the exception of this one group. This is because they think: ‘How can you become cultivated as a layman? What makes you think you can cultivate joy, benefit, and sage wisdom in lay life?’ And so, the Venerable Ananda is asking this on your behalf. A lot of people in the mundane world ask this with a doubtful expression: ‘You’re a layman?’ This goes to show they haven’t read the Ratnakuta Sutra, and that no one is teaching it.”

“I already said this before. I had the causes and conditions to take 500 disciples to Sravasti due to my support of His Holiness. This is also why I’ve had the opportunity to explain this section upon my return. This is very interesting. Elder Ugra also took 500 disciples with him when he went to hear the Buddha teach the Dharma. Is this not interesting? And I just opened the book to this section. I would not deceive you. The Ratnakuta Sutra is so long — why expound on this section over others? Because we are laymen. And my ordained disciples are, too. That’s not to say they are incarnated in lay appearance, but rather, they are lay in thought.”

“The Venerable Ananda specifically brought this up in order to break through the notions held by people in the Age of Declining Dharma. In Tibetan Buddhism, there are both lay gurus and ordained gurus, whereas in Chinese Exoteric Buddhism, a master must be ordained, and this has gradually created a kind of misunderstanding.”

Sutra: “He responded, ‘Great One, without great compassion, I should not claim peace and joy.’”

“Liberating sentient beings isn’t about having them attend pujas and recite sutras. It’s about guiding them to the other shore, and the Heavenly Realm. In the beginning of today’s puja, a disciple testified that I had liberated her father to the Heavenly Realm. And so, while I dare not call myself an Elder, I am a Rinpoche, and the sutras verify this.”

“‘Without great compassion, I should not claim peace and joy.’ This means that until I have the ability to liberate others, I must not think myself happy, joyful, and secure in my practice. And yet, this is how you think: ‘Rinpoche blesses us so we can live comfortably.’ That’s why you dragged your feet in giving support for the new temple, because you thought: ‘What does that have to do with me? The temple is for ordained practitioners to use for retreat. I’m not going into retreat any time soon. Why should I rush to donate? How do I know Rinpoche is going to get this temple built? And if he doesn’t, is that not a waste of my money?’ I wouldn’t say these things if none of you were thinking them. You think there’s no rush! And that’s why all of these questions come up. They all come from your imaginations.”

“Everything a guru does is for the sake of helping and liberating sentient beings. And if we don’t leave behind a seed for the Dharma and the lineage, what will become of our future? Am I supposed to just leave this up to you thousand disciples? Let me be straight with you all. For what I have attained, it really doesn’t matter to me if I have a temple or not. It is His Holiness who has ordered me to have a temple of my own built so as to preserve my lineage of lay practice. But this isn’t for you. You just want to live in comfort, thinking you are becoming cultivated. But what about everyone else? You can’t even help your own family members, much less others. Why? Because you want peaceful, happy lives. But the Buddha was clear. Before I have achieved great compassion, I don’t have the right to a happy and peaceful life. All of you just want peaceful, joy-filled lives, free of problems and vexations. And so, Elder Ugra is admonishing you.”

“I don’t live a life of peace and joy. I constantly have matters to attend to, and even when you don’t see me working, I never stop. Think about it. I have over a thousand disciples to teach, and thought is the hardest thing to supervise. When I manage my 150 employees, I could just fire those who weren’t doing their jobs, and give them an extra month of pay for severance. But how could I just give you an extra month of the Dharma? So then, how do I manage you? I don’t. Rather, I use the Dharma to encourage you to go the right direction, and set an example with my own behavior. I can accomplish many things in lay life; so why can’t you? Because you don’t listen.”

Sutra: “‘Great Ananda, Mahasattva Bodhisattva, I endured all hardship, never forsaking sentient beings.’”

“You don’t want to endure all hardship. You want all joy and no suffering. And this is the attitude you approach your practice with. You seek all joy, and this is why you want to practice. But have you thought of the sentient beings? No. You say: ‘I don’t have those kinds of abilities.’ Well, that’s fine. But you must have this intention. I am always reminding you: Although we may be at peace and happy on an individual level, if society, the nation, and the world do not have peace and happiness, we cannot have true peace and happiness. Now we have proof; a virus has the whole world in disarray. Moreover, because you lack faith, some of you were absent when we performed the Parnashavari Heart Mantra. You think: ‘What does this have to do with me? Rinpoche protects me, so I’m not going to get sick. And I practice every day to the Dharma protectors so that they’ll protect me as well. I’ll be fine.’ And this is why you didn’t show up.”

“When you repent after the fact, I will always accept it. But I must also warn you: ‘If you do not benefit other beings in this life, and lack this intention in your heart, you will get no help from others in your future lifetimes.’ Is it that serious? Of course it is. ‘Why didn’t Rinpoche tell us this from the beginning?’ This all depends on your karmic conditions. I’ve been telling you in clear terms this whole time that I teach the Bodhisattva Path. This passage about the Bodhisattva Path is clear: ‘Endure all hardship.’ I ask you to take just two hours out of a 24-hour day, and yet you refuse. Why? Because of hardship! ‘I have to study; I have to go to work; I don’t have time. Two hours — I have elders in the home to take care of; I have to cook for them.’ And you call this practicing the Bodhisattva Path? Forget about being a Bodhisattva — are you even human?”

“Whether we gain merit when reciting the Parnashavari Heart Mantra or not, at the very least, we have sentient beings in our minds. Did I set an offerings minimum for the puja that day? No. I just left the Buddhist center after we finished. How do you practice the Bodhisattva Path? Don’t just think I’ll keep forgiving you every time you repent — this has nothing to do with me. It has to do with your practice. This passage is clear: Endure all hardship, never forsaking any beings. Your families and ancestors are all sentient beings. And when you didn’t recite with us, you forsook them; and so, you are unworthy descendants. You think I’m the one you’re wronging? No. You’re wronging your ancestors, and your karmic creditors. And this will leave you with no benefactors in your future lives, as you never think to help others. You wouldn’t even attend a two-hour recitation, and you sure dragged your feet in donating for the temple. Think about this for yourselves. This isn’t about me wanting to scold you.”

Sutra: “Then the Buddha told Ananda, ‘Elder Ugra abides in the ground of the laity, but he has liberated sentient beings in the Bhadda Kalpa.’”

“Here, the Buddha is using divine recollection to explain Elder Ugra’s cultivation. The Buddha is telling Jetsun Ananda this, as many won’t believe it. It’s just like how I’m the only lay Han Chinese Rinpoche to achieve fruition in this lifetime in the Drikung Kagyu lineage’s 800-year history. And many people still don’t believe this. Someone even once said: ‘It’s because your Mandarin is so good.’ And I thought: Who would really think my Cantonese-style Mandarin is good? And I can’t even understand Taiwanese. But the answer is here in the Ratnakuta Sutra. I dare not say I’ve liberated sentient beings in the Bhadda Kalpa, but at least I have liberated beings in past lives.”

“This passage is saying that although Elder Ugra abides in the ground of the laity and is incarnated in lay appearance, he has liberated sentient beings in the Bhadda Kalpa, and he is constantly working at this.”

Sutra: “No ordained Bodhisattvas of one-hundred kalpas and one-hundred thousand kalpas can compare to him.”

“In India, one-hundred thousand is how they say 100,000. The ordained Bodhisattvas of 100 kalpas, or even 100,000 kalpas, are all no match for Elder Ugra.”

Sutra: “Why? Ananda. The merit of one-hundred thousand ordained Bodhisattvas cannot rival the merit of Elder Ugra.”

“Here, the Buddha is clear that the laity can become cultivated so long as they are willing to practice. It is like Elder Ugra said: ‘World Honored One, in lay life, I do as you teach. I thusly abide in development of the great Buddha path.’ But you haven’t done this, whereas I have. I’ve done this, and I’ve met all sorts of hardship in this life, enduring all of it. But do you endure all hardship? You won’t even endure the hardship of two hours of recitations. You just want to go on living your peaceful, happy lives.”

“The Buddha was clear here. Elder Ugra’s merit rivals even ordained Bodhisattvas who have practiced for 100 or even 100,000 kalpas — or, rivals 100,000 ordained Bodhisattvas. In fact, this confirms the teachings of Tibetan Buddhism. A senior practitioner once said: ‘The merit of a meritorious ordained practitioner who practices in accordance with True Dharma is equal to that of 100 laymen.’ This means that if an ordained practitioner is meritorious and acts in accordance with the teachings of the Dharma, his recitations are worth those of 100 lay practitioners. ‘The merit of a khenpo (monk scholar) is equal to that of 100 meritorious ordained practitioners; the merit of an ordained Rinpoche is equal to that of 100 khenpos; the merit of a ngakpa (a lay Rinpoche) is equal to that of 100 ordained Rinpoches; and the merit of a terma master is equal to that of 100 ngakpas (lay Rinpoches).’ And so, if we do that math, is this not 100,000? Thus, Tibetan Buddhism got it right. The Buddha says it right here.”

“One-hundred thousand means 100,000. A lot of people misread the sutras (in Chinese translations), thinking it means a hundred and a thousand. But then, why not just say 1000? Was the Buddha this inarticulate? No. He possessed unrivaled eloquence. And so, when he said ‘one-hundred kalpas, one-hundred thousand kalpas,’ he wasn’t rambling. He meant 100 kalpas, or 100,000 kalpas. How do I know this? Because I’ve met people from India, and I know they count 100,000 not as 10 ten-thousands, as we do, but as 100 thousands. Actually, this means more than 100,000. Is there evidence for Tantra? Yes; the words of the Buddha. You’ve all broken into a cold sweat now! This is what this means. Before, when reading one-hundred thousand, you thought it meant 100 and 1000. But that’s not what this means. If it were 1000, the Buddha would just say one thousand. So, why didn’t the translator just write 100,000? Because that’s not what the Buddha said; so the translator translated it directly.”

Sutra: “The Great Ananda asked the Buddha, ‘World Honored One, what is the name of this sutra? What to uphold?’ The Buddha told Ananda, ‘Elder Ugra’s Inquiries, Or Bodhisattva Precepts of the Laity and Ordained.’”

“This passage is about the precepts of lay and ordained Bodhisattvas. And here, the Buddha is clear that both the lay and the ordained can practice the Bodhisattva precepts, and become Bodhisattvas.”

Sutra: “Or Precious Service to the Master Chapter.”

“Precious means valued, emphasized, or detailed. Service means to attend to. And how do we serve our teachers and elders? With the Dharma.”

Sutra: “Ananda, if a Bodhisattva hears this sutra, he is a person of great diligence. When one merely exerts lesser Brahman effort, his diligence cannot be compared to the above Bodhisattva in one-hundred, one-thousand, ten-thousand times.”

“This is an admonishment. When a Bodhisattva hears this sutra, just hearing it is not enough, if he accepts it wholeheartedly, he is a great diligent person. Diligence doesn’t refer to how many recitations or prayers you perform every day, but to whether or not you have progressed in the key areas of the Dharma. ‘When one merely exerts lesser Brahman effort, his diligence cannot be compared to the above Bodhisattva in one-hundred, one-thousand, ten-thousand times.’ This means that even if you uphold pure precepts, you don’t have great diligence unless you observe what is taught here. And then, even if you renounce desire and uphold Brahman conduct, your practice will be insufficient even one-hundred, one-thousand, and ten-thousand times over (1,000,000). That is, even if you renounce lust and uphold pure precepts and Pure Dharma, until you hear the Ratnakuta Sutra, your diligence cannot compare. And so, while I dare not say you should be proud, at the very least you can compare to others, including the ordained practitioners. In what regard? Not in terms of merit, or education, but in diligence. We have great diligence.”

“Don’t go thinking: ‘Is the Ratnakuta Sutra really that important?’ These are the Buddha’s words — not mine. I’m not saying this to try to build myself up, nor would the Buddha do such a thing. He is just telling you: ‘What do you get today? Get great diligence.’ And so, you must remember this passage.”

Sutra: “So, Ananda, aspire to abide in diligence, and urge others to be diligent.”

“In this passage, the Buddha is telling the Venerable Ananda to abide in diligence himself. And we should use this as a goal and a standard for our practice on the Bodhisattva Path.”

Sutra: “Aspire to abide in all merit, and urge others to abide as well. You must hear this sutra, upholding it and reciting. Speak widely of this practice as thus spoken. Ananda, I entrust this Dharma unto you. Uphold and recite. Why? Ananda, this dharma contains all merit.”

“Urge others: You must practice as such. ‘Aspire’ refers to your will. What merit do your aspirations abide in? The merit of the Bodhisattva Path — and not the human and heaven fortune of the mundane world. The Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center doesn’t advocate Humanistic Buddhism, nor do we impart fantastical things you can never accomplish. We teach and promote the Bodhisattva Path in accordance with this passage from the Ratnakuta Sutra. Therefore, if you don’t listen, and insist on doing things your own way, you might as well not practice.”

“Sutra: “Ananda, if a Bodhisattva is attuned with this dharma, he will not depart from attunement with Tathagata.”

“What does attunement mean? That your actions, speech, and thoughts align with the teachings of this dharma. And if you continue on in this way, you will be attuned. After that, the next line says: ‘If you are attuned with the dharma, you will not depart from attunement with Tathagata.’ Then do you still need to implore blessings? Are you still going to ask me for blessings every day? This is unnecessary. So long as you act in accordance with the Dharma, and listen to and implement what I teach, you will be attuned both with the Dharma and with Tathagata.”

Sutra: “Ananda, if a Bodhisattva departs from this dharma, he also departs from the Buddha. If a Bodhisattva departs from this dharma, he departs from upholding, recitations, and practice as thus spoken. And this is view departed from all of the Buddhas.”

“Some people stray — leaving not me, but the Buddha. And once you stray from the Buddha, your recitations do you no good. I want to thank His Holiness and Shakyamuni Buddha for helping me admonish you. What does it mean to depart? To leave the Buddha. I am currently teaching the Ratnakuta Sutra, however I am only a medium for your practice of the Dharma. I am an emanation of the Buddha — not the Buddha himself. I am speaking to you on behalf of the Buddha. Thus, if you depart, straying from the Ratnakuta Sutra, you are leaving him. Furthermore, if you leave the Buddha, no matter what you recite, you will not be attuned with him. Anyway, you can leave the Buddha if you want to, and withdraw from refuge, because you are the ones making your decisions.”

“If you are unwilling to amend based on what I say and teach, you are straying from the Buddha. And even if you don’t withdraw from refuge, you have left him. In this way, will you still have blessings? Why is it I tell you when you take refuge that if you get angry with or curse your guru, you will not have blessings? It’s not that I won’t bless you, or am unwilling to do so. As I said before, the light of the Buddha is always shining, and my blessings extend to every corner. As long as you are my disciples, I will give you blessings. But if you leave, that means you are rejecting them! Why? Because you won’t listen, and want to make your own demands. And I can’t satisfy your desires! So listen closely. This is an interesting passage. The Buddha is admonishing you again and again.”

“This means that if you don’t accept this passage from the Ratnakuta Sutra, not upholding and reciting it, and still say you are practicing, then you have already departed from the Buddhas, and you are practicing and dabbling in the fake. This is what the Buddha said. Why am I teaching this passage? Because the Buddha is compassionate. I’ve been to his domain, and he took my hand and turned to this passage to tell you: ‘Rinpoche is right and you are wrong! You don’t listen and do as you are supposed to.’ A lot of what I’ve said before comes from this. However I didn’t give you a basis for it then, and so you thought: ‘You just say these things and scold us because you like scolding us, and want to control us.” And now, you see the Ratnakuta Sutra states the same things. So, do I control you? Or push you? You’re the ones pushing me — pushing me into a corner! Shakyamuni Buddha has taken pity on me, and shown me this passage to reveal to you. One could even say that the Buddha is revealing the True Dharma and the Bodhisattva Path here at the Taipei Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center.”

“Ask these disciples who have been ordained for decades if they’ve ever heard the Ratnakuta Sutra taught? (The ordained disciples responded: ‘This is the first time’) I’ve never recited from the Ratnakuta Sutra. In fact, from the time I took refuge in Exoteric Buddhism and received my set of the Buddhist Canon, I never once opened this sutra. And so, this just goes to show the karmic fortune you still have some good fortune left for the Buddha to have told me to teach this sutra to you — to see if you will change, whether or not you’re willing, and whether or not you are resolute. The Buddha is talking to you through me: The Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and your gurus never deceive you, and it is just that you don’t listen.”

“Why is it disciples who have been ordained for decades have never heard the Ratnakuta Sutra? Because it scares most people away, telling you that you can’t do this and that. And unless a guru has cultivated the Bodhisattva Path, it is difficult to know how to teach this sutra. Take, for example, what I just said about enduring all hardship. Look at me. How much have I endured? Have I not endured enough? You see me transfer consciousness for others and think it is so simple. But is it? I come from hardship. And how could anyone teach the Bodhisattva Path in this way unless they had practiced on this path for themselves?”

“So, if you remain selfish and self-interested, hearing the Dharma only for your own practice, then I urge you to just leave, as here we are taught not to forsake sentient beings. Moreover, if you don’t accept, uphold, and recite from this sutra, and yet still claim you are practicing, then your view strays from that of the Buddhas’ — that means your understanding completely departs from what the Buddhas teach. The view expressed by this passage — the correct interpretation — is that those of us who practice the Bodhisattva Path must understand: Unless your thinking and behavior align with what is said here, you have strayed, and that is not the Bodhisattva Path. On the other hand, it is fine to admit you aren’t practicing the Bodhisattva Path. I’m not going to chase you off. But what matters is that you listen. I am helping you, and creating virtuous causes and conditions for you. So you must listen and follow! I don’t want your life or your wealth. So, why is it you don’t follow the teachings, and hold to so many of your own ideas? Do you take this as a folk religion?”

“Get this straight. You have the rare opportunity to hear this sutra. Had I not made so many donations to support His Holiness and the lineage, this condition would have never come to fruition. Even these disciples who have been ordained for decades have never heard the Ratnakuta Sutra, and yet you have the karmic fortune to get to hear it after only 10 – 20 years of refuge. Ask these ordained disciples; they’ve been ordained for 30 – 40 years and never heard it! They’ve gone through the hardship of a lifetime, getting to hear it only now. In addition, His Holiness has even told me repeatedly that I must teach the Ratnakuta Sutra when I go to Germany. If my teachings were wrong, would His Holiness tell me to do this? The point is not that I am so special in speaking the Ratnakuta Sutra, but rather that these are the teachings of Lord Jigten Sumgon and Shakyamuni Buddha — they are not my teachings. That’s why you must listen!”

Sutra: ‘‘Why? Ananda. All supramundane matters of the Buddha are revealed in this sutra.”

“The Buddha said: ‘Why am I saying these things? Because, Ananda, all matters of the appearance of the Buddha in this world are revealed in this sutra.’ Or, in other words, the Buddha came to our world to teach us the Dharma — and based on what? Based on this sutra. This means principles. The principles of the Bodhisattva Path and Exoteric Buddhism are all here, revealed to you. Listen closely. The Buddha was clear and forthright. Why was the Buddha incarnated? Why did he come to our world? This is why! So then, does everything else the Buddha said before still stand? Yes. It’s just that people with different karma are met with different Dharma teachings. Is the Hinayana Buddhism the words of the Buddha? Most certainly. How about the Twelve Links of Dependent Origination and the Four Noble Truths? They too are the words of the Buddha. But here, the Buddha emphasizes that his reason for coming to our world was to spread the teachings of this sutra. This passage is a demonstration of this. Otherwise, who would have transmitted the ways of the Bodhisattva Path? The Buddha had to spread these teachings in person. And so, he told Ananda this in clear terms.”

Sutra: “Ananda, imagine a great fire amidst the Great Trichiliocosm, you must pass through its middle to attain sambodhi. Hear this sutra, uphold, recite, and practice thusly.”

“All worlds go through the four stages of formation, decline, continuance, and disintegration. And at the point of perfection, at the midpoint, there is a great fire — but this doesn’t mean burning destruction. It means that when all of the Dharma of the Great Trichiliocosm is perfected, in the middle, there will be an appearance of fire. What is this great fire? The fire of wisdom — not the fire of the mundane world. Likewise, when we perform fire offerings, the flames aren’t fire, but wisdom.”

“From the midst, we must pass through this mid-point of the perfect Dharma to sambodhi. Otherwise, if you don’t go through this stage of Dharma, and practice your own ways, you will never attain sambodhi — the way of true enlightenment. And this means that you must pass through the midst of the fire of wisdom at the midpoint of the perfection of the Great Trichiliocosm. What does this mean? Not doing things your own way, with different ideas and methods, thinking you can attain enlightenment yourself. You must practice in accordance with these methods, and no others. It’s like I always say: Don’t make up your own methods and then think you can become cultivated.”

Sutra: “Ananda, from the Great Trichiliocosm, one reverently offers the Seven Treasures for this sutra. Hear this sutra, uphold, recite, and practice thusly.”

“Reverently offering the greatest Seven Treasures of the Great Trichiliocosm merely for the sake of hearing this Dharma, and upholding, reciting, and practicing accordingly — I’ll explain the Great Trichiliocosm later when I have the chance. This means offering the greatest Seven Treasures of the cosmos reverently to the Buddhas. And for what? To hear this Dharma, uphold it, recite it, and practice accordingly. The Buddha is clear here. However, I don’t require you to offer the greatest Seven Treasures of the Great Trichiliocosm. It doesn’t matter if you can’t do this. But you must listen and be reverent! What for? To hear this dharma. Why? To recite and practice it.”

“Did the Buddha speak of gaining wealth? And helping us to improve our health? Why is it that this dharma benefits our practices? Of course, it does — and I’ve practiced it to improve my health to the point people can’t believe I could be 73. Where did I get this from? Here. Perhaps I practiced the Ratnakuta Sutra in a past life, and that’s why I’m continuing on with it in this life. My focus is on the Bodhisattva Path. Where is my focus? On the Ratnakuta Sutra. On what? On the teachings of the founder, and my guru. I don’t use the dharma to show off my abilities in any special way. The reason I have achieved attainment all comes from this. Otherwise, how would I be attuned with the Dharma and my guru? It would be impossible. And how could I have attained realization without such attunement?”

Sutra: “Ananda. As though erecting a pagoda of the Seven Treasures for all past Buddhas. Give all in offerings. Ananda. If incarnated as Buddhas and Sravakas. Make offerings with all music, with your whole life. Ananda.”

“Use all of the best music to make offerings for your whole life. This just means making offerings non-stop over the course of this life.”

Sutra: “As servants and disciples for all of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the future, making offerings to them.”

“This doesn’t mean the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are our servants. It means that once we hear this dharma, we must be humble attendants to all of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the future, making offerings to them as disciples. In other words, even if you are a fruitioned Bodhisattva, as you have heard this Dharma, you are retinue and disciples to all of the gurus and the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas who have spread this Dharma — lifetime after lifetime — and you must make offerings to them accordingly.”

“The Buddha is admonishing you again. Some people will think: ‘Forget it, I don’t want to make offerings! I give up.’ But have I brought up money to you? Others may have a lot to give, but if you can only give a little, I won’t refuse you! This passage is clear. If you hear this Dharma, you must make offerings to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas of the future as servants and disciples. I dare not say I am a future Buddha, but I am a future Bodhisattva. And so, you must make your offerings lifetime after lifetime.”

Sutra: “Not hearing this sutra. Not accepting and upholding it. Not practicing and reciting it. Not spreading it and abiding in it. That is leaving this dharma. And thus can’t be called making offerings to the Buddhas and Tathagata.”

“Listen closely. Even if you have given money, that doesn’t mean you’ve made offerings. Here, the Buddha is saying that if you don’t hear this sutra — not accepting and upholding it; not practicing and reciting it; not transmitting — teaching and spreading it to others; and not abiding, meaning your mind doesn’t dwell in the sutra — then you depart from this Dharma (stray from all methods that teach us how to become Bodhisattvas), and that isn’t making offerings to the Buddhas and Tathagata. In other words, even if you’ve made offerings, you have to go through this sutra — hearing, reciting, and practicing. Why is it I was able to build up karmic fortune so quickly through offerings to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and His Holiness? His Holiness once said: ‘Rinpoche’s efforts in his dharma activities are sure to succeed.’ And this is where that comes from.”

“Now, I’m a Rinpoche. And what kind of attitude do I have toward His Holiness? I remain a disciple, reverent, humble, and loyal! The Ratnakuta Sutra states that as soon as you give rise to the slightest bit of conceit, all of your merit is gone. All of the merit you’ve obtained through practice the Bodhisattva Path vanishes instantly. Of course, you’ll say now that if you’d known sooner you wouldn’t have become my disciple — a disciple lifetime after lifetime. As long as His Holiness practices, I will be his disciple. Look at Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. She attained Buddhahood before Amitabha Buddha, and yet she was his disciple. Does this make a difference? Why is it she was willing to be Amitabha’s disciple? Because she was making offerings on behalf of all sentient beings.”

“Look at the Universal Gate Chapter. There was once a Bodhisattva who wanted to make offerings to the Buddha and Avalokiteshvara, but she didn’t want to accept it. However, the Buddha told her: ‘Take it! Take it, and then offer it to the Buddha and the pagoda on behalf of all sentient beings.’ And so, she wasn’t doing something beneath her by being a disciple. Rather, in order to achieve attainment on the Bodhisattva Path, she ceaselessly did everything to benefit the vast sentient beings. As a disciple, you naturally have a guru and the Buddha to make offerings to. Otherwise how can you aid others without karmic fortune? Do you understand this relationship now?”

“I don’t want you to feel so humble and think that I am amazing. In fact, I’m really nothing special. These are the teachings of the sutras. How do you accumulate merit and karmic fortune quickly? Not with that pocket change of yours. I’m always saying that while you give me offerings, I am outputting money in large sums. For instance, maybe you gave me NT$10,000 in offerings. But then I donated it with a larger sum, and this makes it so that you have a portion of the merit from that sum.”

Sutra: “Ananda, if a Bodhisattva hears this sutra, upholding, reciting, spreading it widely and practicing thusly, this Bodhisattva has already made offerings to the Trailokya Buddham. How so? Ananda, thus practice is the subduing dharma of Tathagata.”

“In simpler terms, this is about all of the offerings you make — everything you give to your guru. The Buddha is saying that this method of practice is the subduing dharma of Tathagata. Subduing what? Subduing our greed, hatred, delusion, conceit, and doubt. And if you won’t even part with your money to make offerings, then what will you part with? What is the first of the Six Paramitas? (The disciples answered: Charity.) Rinpoche continued: “Why? To subdue your greed. That is, if you can’t even subdue your greed, will you not fail at what comes next? And so, the Buddha is compassionately giving us a reminder. It is not that the Buddha lusts after merit, or your guru is greedy for offerings. Rather, this is about methods for subduing you, and teaching you to let go. You’re unwilling to let go of your families, and wealth, and this, and that — and so, how are you to practice the Bodhisattva Path like this? If you can’t learn this path, and if you aren’t even taking in its concepts, you remain unattuned with your guru, and the Bodhisattva Path cultivated by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Without attunement, even if you work hard prostrating before the Buddha, you will remain unattuned, and what will you get out of it then? In the next life, you will be a pet cat with rubies. This was on the news. A cat was left billions by its owner. As a cat, for one, its life is short, and secondly, it seems enjoyable, not doing anything but eating and sleeping. But you don’t know the hardship of being in the Path of Animal Realm. They can’t express it themselves, and they have no freedom because they are often locked up by their owners.”

Sutra: “After hearing the words of the Buddha, they — the Great Ananda, Elder Ugra, Gandharvas, the heavenly beings of the world, and the Asura Class — are all delighted.”

“This comes down to your willingness to act in accordance with the words of the Buddha. After hearing the major points of practice in this sutra, the Venerable Ananda, Elder Ugra, Gandharvas, and the heavenly beings of the world — they are among the Eight Legions of Devas and Nagas. What does ‘heavenly beings of the world’ mean? They refer to beings of the Heavenly Realm that haven’t escaped the cycle of reincarnation. The ‘Asura Class’ means that asuras have come to hear this dharma as well. ‘After hearing the words of the Buddha, they are all delighted.’ It means that after hearing these words, they discovered that there are dharma methods that allow them to help sentient beings, escape the cycle of life and death, and attain Buddhahood.”

“Today, this sutra teachings have been completed to perfection. I hope that everyone will go over the teachings I’ve revealed from the Ratnakuta Sutra over the years starting from the beginning. From the beginning! The beginning! And see if you have done what these teachings ask of you. And tell me if you don’t go over them. I won’t punish you or make you leave. So why do you need to tell me? Because I will gradually be transmitting Vajrayana teachings, which means practice of the Bodhisattva Path. And I won’t transmit these teachings to you if you don’t have what it takes. Why? Because you won’t understand them, and will end up slandering the Buddha, the Dharma, and your guru, saying I haven’t taught you anything. But actually I am always teaching you. It’s just that you don’t accept these teachings, and hold to your own ways of thinking.”

“The reason we’ve been able to carry on through these troubling times this past year up to now (mid-July) isn’t because of your abilities or mine, but because the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and our lineage of gurus have always promoted True Dharma at this Buddhist center. And so, of course, the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, dharma Protectors, and our gurus protect the Buddhist center that propagates True Dharma. This protection means fewer problems arise. Why do problems occur in our Buddhist center? Because not all of you disciples have the same resolve. I am teaching you the Bodhisattva Path, but if you don’t listen and act, all the while slandering your guru, how is our Buddhist center supposed to flourish?”

“Upon hearing the Dharma, you should realize you must rectify many of your shortcomings yourselves. After all, I can’t keep my eye on you all of the time. I put my all into speaking the Dharma, but you must make the decision to do these things yourselves. Even if you don’t, I won’t get angry, or make you leave. But you have to see these things clearly for yourselves. Don’t just think: ‘I’m no practitioner; I don’t have the root capacity for this.’ Who starts out with a ready root capacity? The fact is that I am helping you plant virtuous seeds to grow your root capacity now. But if you don’t accept it, of course you won’t have the root capacity.”

“What benefits come from practicing the Bodhisattva Path? There are many. It is a sure way to transform lifetimes of negative karma in this life, and repay your karmic debts. And there is no other dharma method for this. No matter how many recitations you do, unless you recite in the way taught in the Bodhisattva Path, it does you no good. So listen closely!”

At this time, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche led everyone in attendance in the Dharma Protector Achi Ritual and dedication.

Afterward, Rinpoche continued:

“Don’t think just anyone who so desired would be able to hear these teachings from the Ratnakuta Sutra. It’s like that ordained disciple just said — he’s been ordained for decades without ever hearing this sutra taught until now.” Rinpoche asked one ordained disciple: ‘Do you have the Buddhist Canon at your temple?’ He replied: ‘Yes.’ And Rinpoche asked another ordained disciple who graduated from a Buddhist college: ‘Do you have a set of the Buddhist Canon?’ The disciple also responded: ‘Yes.’”

Rinpoche continued: “They all have the Buddhist Canon. So then, why is it they’ve never seen this sutra, or come across it? Because they lack these causes and conditions! This is the interesting thing about the sutras. Without the right karmic condition, you won’t read a given sutra even if I put it right in front of you and tell you to read it every day. This is what’s special about the Dharma. And so, what does it mean when we say the Buddha only liberates those with the right causes and conditions? It means he can’t liberate you unless you have the right karmic affinity.”

“Lord Jigten Sumgon promoted the Bodhisattva Path; His Holiness promotes the Bodhisattva Path and Vajrayana Buddhism; and I promote the Bodhisattva Path as well. Thus, this section from the Ratnakuta Sutra naturally comes up. It’s not that you get to see it just because you want to; rather, you must be equipped with the right karmic conditions and fortune. Otherwise, even if you did read it on your own, there would be no one to explain it to you. And so, simply put, as Glorious Jewel disciples, you must treasure this opportunity. I’ve taught this section for two and a half years! This is rare. Why? For one, you are hearing this from a guru. And I explain the sutras differently from the other Dharma masters. I don’t prepare in advance, but rather just turn the page and start teaching. Why is it that I can do this? For one, I may have cultivated the Bodhisattva Path, and thus have experience with the realms the Buddha spoke of. Secondly, because of the blessings of the Buddha and my guru.”

“Don’t think this is over when the teachings end. The point is whether or not you uphold what you have heard. Some people tell me they can’t read, but that doesn’t mean you can’t uphold it. The Elder Monk Guangqin was illiterate, as was the Venerable Milarepa, and the Sixth Patriarch Huineng. Therefore, you illiterate disciples have no excuse for not practicing. And if I hear someone else say: ‘I’m illiterate; I can’t read this; I don’t understand.’ Then that means you aren’t prepared to practice. Of course, none of you are the Venerable Milarepa, the Elder Monk Guangqin, or the Sixth Patriarch Huineng. But you have to have this resolve at the very least, rather than just waiting and waiting — waiting for me to bless you, and liberate you. Do you have the aspiration to act? This elder from the sutra was at least 60 years old. Otherwise, how else could he have led so many people and who would have listened to him? Despite being wealthy and influential, he was able to attain fruition in his cultivation.”

“Glorious Jewel disciples: your homework for every day now is to go back over my teachings on the Ratnakuta Sutra from the past two and a half years. I’m certain you’ve already forgotten everything I’ve taught, thinking it has nothing to do with you. And if you don’t want to go over the teachings, that’s fine too. Just dawdle here, saying: ‘I can’t read. I don’t want to know; no one told me. I can’t understand his Canto-mandarin. I only speak Taiwanese.’ These are all excuses. Why is it I was eventually able to understand everything His Holiness said, even when he transmitted the Dharma in Tibetan? Because I have faith in my guru, and he transmits pure Dharma. His words are merely a tool. What really matters is whether or not my mind is attuned to him! But are your minds attuned to me? No! Being attuned doesn’t refer to like me or dislike me. Rather, it means to accept and uphold the teachings. The Buddha is very clear here. And even if you don’t recite it, at the very least, you must accept, uphold, and hold on to these teachings. But have you done this? No. You make excuses: ‘I can’t read. I don’t speak Chinese.’ I don’t speak Tibetan. So then, how did I learn Tantra? This is all just in your heads.”

“This section of the Ratnakuta Sutra is extremely important for practice of the Bodhisattva Path, and it is of unique importance. If you don’t review it, you will quickly grow lax. Over these past two and a half years, I have lived up to your offerings by revealing this great dharma to you. What does ‘great’ refer to here? Great diligence. The sutra states this is the highest and ultimate in the way of diligence. And so, have I lived up to your offerings? Yes! But if you don’t accept, uphold, recite, and practice, then that is your own business. It has nothing to do with me. I’ve already done my part with detail and clarity. There aren’t many people who will expound a section of the sutra for two and a half years. And it isn’t easy to hold on to such a large audience for two and a half years, either. This isn’t because you fear me. Rather, it is because your karmic creditors are forcing you to come and hear this dharma! And so, you must hear it.”

“I repeat: If you don’t practice the Bodhisattva Path, you won’t be able to transform your lifetimes of accumulated negative karma in this life. So, even if you aren’t ready, and lack in ability, you must at the very least decide to take this path. When it is that you take the path, set off, and act isn’t a matter of time, but a matter of your resolve right now. When I first started practice the Dharma, I never thought I would become a Rinpoche. I merely resolved to practice, doing what I could for myself and sentient beings. And I’ve been through a lot to get to this point — putting up with you all day after day!”

“And so, listen carefully. If you male disciples are going to keep saying you’re too busy with your work, careers, families, etc., I urge you not to bother practicing. I too have a family and a career. Do you think you’re busier than me? No! In addition to my family and career, I have to supervise over a thousand disciples, and serve His Holiness as well. And with the addition of the construction of our new temple, I’m constantly on the move nowadays! Only through the Bodhisattva Path can we implement the Dharma in our daily lives. The Buddha was clear about this. Elder Ugra also told us in clear terms as well that even when returning to our home lives, we must listen to and follow the teachings of the Buddha. We must continue to do these things in the home — rather than just going home, changing clothes, and lying spread-eagle on bed. This doesn’t mean you can’t go to bed, but you need to engage in introspection. Have you accepted all that you’ve heard today? If not, you have no karmic fortune, and have given no offerings. These are the words of the Buddha — not mine.”

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Updated on November 3, 2020