His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – November 1, 2020

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche lit lamps as an offering to the Buddha, ascended the Dharma throne, and began to expound The Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra.

“Today, I will continue to expound The Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra, teaching you the practicing methods of how to be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land. I didn’t start my learning of Buddhism by the study of sutras. The ways I have learned it from the beginning are through Dharmas transmitted to me by His Holiness – I have directly practiced the Tantra. This means that I started my practicing with ‘yi’, ‘righteousness’. There are two aspects of the Dharma; one is ‘yi’, and the other is ‘li’, ‘truth’. Sutras contain what the Buddha taught and are about ‘li’, whereas ‘yi’ are about the contents or connotations of Buddhism. When I expound the Dharma, I do not look up sutras to go by the quotes or descriptions in them; on some Buddhist terms, I would not go out of my way either to find other sastras to support my point of view. My notion is that whatever are said in sutras are right, and there is no need to get other sutras to prove that what is mentioned in a particular sutra is right. All sutras were taught by Shakyamuni Buddha, therefore, they are all true. To find other sutras to prove something that is said in a certain sutra is very contradictory because it then becomes doing a scholarly research.

Last time, because I had misread the term ‘Sthavirah Sariputra.’, I explained it to you incorrectly as ‘Elder Sariputra’. Fortunately, the Buddha and Bodhisattvas are compassionate to have found a group of monastics as my disciples. They were amiable that, after they returned home, they phoned me to tell me this. I did not scold them for speaking to me like this because it was my mistake. That part I spoke of last time needs to be deleted from records. I am not one who focuses on studies of sutras; I have not done researches on some terms and titles in sutras. I cultivate first and after actual practices and having attained fruition, I then look back at sutras to ensure if I have acted according to what are taught in them.

Last time when I expounded The Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra, I did not explain these terms that are mentioned in the sutra: ‘Five Roots, Five Forces, Seven Factors of Bodhicitta, Factors of Eightfold Noble Path’. I asked monastics to look up these terms.

The Five Roots.

The Root of Belief: Believe in the right path and methods of supportive paths.

What are supportive paths? Volunteering at the center, chanting mantras, reciting sutras, performing repentance rites, eating vegetarian or improving your temper are all not part of cultivation. These are just casual conditions to help you practicing. Without assisting conditions, one cannot cultivate the right path on the Dharma. When I was learning Exoteric Buddhism, I made many offerings, took part in repentance rites, sat in meditation, observed my precepts; all of these are methods of supportive paths and assisting conditions. The right path is the Bodhisattva Path. Before one’s practices have made one reaching a certain fruition level and attaining some achievements, one cannot benefit sentient beings. One of my disciples set up a Buddhist worshiping hall before taking refuge in me; she let people recite Buddhas’ names there, but that was not liberating sentient beings. All that you do now in similar situations are just on supportive paths. For the yearly Grand Puja that I have held for sixteen years, I have helped millions of sentient beings each time, and I have not yet died – this is liberating sentient beings. Running errands or moving chairs around for the Grand Puja are also methods of a supportive path. This is why I teach you all not to make any decision on your own in such a Puja. If you have issues, you need to report them to the Puja management group, and its staff will come to me for my instructions. This time there was still a disciple who didn’t listen; he had his own ideas and didn’t ask others for solutions about the issues he had. Yesterday, he came for an audience with me and cried in front of me. I told him that he needed not cry because he had never listened to me. There were several reasons why his problems occurred this time. The first one was he was lazy to ask for instructions from me; the second one was he thought he could be in charge and could make his own decisions; the third reason was that he thought, ‘I do this for Rinpoche’s own good.’ He considered himself to be most remarkable. It is not that I like to scold people. For a Grand Puja, those who preside over it are your guru, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas; you are just ones running errands, and you cannot make a decision on any matters, even a tiny one. It is because such a Puja is not a matter for just the attendees, with a total of only 20,000 people; it is a matter for millions of sentient beings. Any mistakes, even a slight one, you make become flaws, which would make these sentient beings feeling resentful, therefore, they would not come to accept being liberated, especially your karmic creditors.

Everyone hopes to be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land, but to be reborn there is not to live a good life. It is to continue learning Five Roots, Five Forces, Seven Factors of Bodhicitta and Factors of Eightfold Noble Path. In The Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra, it is mentioned that in Amitabha’s Land birds chirp from dawn to dusk at every hour, every minute and every second of the day so as to remind you to cultivate all twenty-four hours of the day with no break. Modern people have this misconception: ‘As long as I am in the Pure Land, all my problems will be solved, and with the Buddha’s blessings, my cancer will be cured, too.’

What then is being reborn in the Pure Land? It’s not to free you from suffering of sickness, or from worrying about your sons or husband. Nor is it to let you accompany Amitabha all day long – Amitabha doesn’t need your company. It is not even to let you sleep every day; rather, birds there chirp continuously, as a reminder that you should practice. At first, you would feel their chirping sound is very nice to hear, and you would even feed them. Then, after a few days you will get irritated and want to throw stones at them. On this earth we cannot do things right as the Buddha taught us because our root capacities are all for ourselves; there is not a single thing that you don’t do for yourself. In Amitabha’s Pure Land, there are no family members, or such things as ordinary matters, fame, wealth, power or influences; there is only learning Buddhism. You all have too many leisure things to do now in that you are not used to boredom; you cannot calm down. You look for things to do so as to prove that you practice diligently.

What is the right path? All you have practiced on the Dharma are for you to attain achievements so that you can help sentient beings. Your practices are not to treat a mere illness you have, to change your temper to be better, or to get good results on small things in life. If your learning Buddhism is for these purposes, it is not on the right path; it is on a false path. If your Root of Belief is not strong you will have hindrances. In The Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra, it is stated that once you are reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land you will not return to this world. In that land, the most important thing is to check whether your Root of Belief is solid or not. Since I began propagating the Dharma in 1997, of my disciples, apart from those who passed away from sickness and had been liberated by me, how many left the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center on their own? Why did they leave? It was because they didn’t have enough of Root of Belief as I did not satisfy their desires in their heart. How can I possibly satisfy your desires? If I could, it would not be the Dharma I have learned. That is why the Buddha said that ‘….take refuge in the Dharma, and renounce all desire to gain respect.’, as well as ‘Belief is the mother of all merits.’

The Root of Diligence: When acting on the right path and good methods of supportive paths, one should seek the Dharma diligently and ceaselessly.

The most important part in your practices is to diligently and ceaselessly seek the Dharma. Yesterday, a disciple came and sought an audience with me to implore for my transmission to him of the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices. Last time she came to implore for it was on September 8th, but I did not give the permission then. It turned out that she had waited until yesterday to implore for the same thing again. This showed that she didn’t have the heart to diligently implore for this Dharma method; she waited until she had time to come or until she thought about it. Either way, she tried again. Have you never thought of that I will die too? Do you seek the Dharma based on your own schedule? This is why recently I don’t give permission when many of you have come to implore for my transmission of the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices. Do you think everything will improve for you by your doing grand prostrations? Do you feel you have practiced very diligently? Not at all. Even to this day, I still implore very diligently for the Dharma from His Holiness because there are so many sentient beings needing many Dharma methods to help them. Ask yourself if you have been seeking the Dharma diligently and ceaselessly.

Recently, there was a concert in Taipei performed by eighty of the best musicians from the country’s five major symphony orchestras. Contrary to what was expected, many of my disciples felt they were at a higher level on taste, so they did not want to listen to a symphony; instead, there were many people from outside of the Center in the audience, and they appreciated and enjoyed the music. The performance was splendid and the audience had a great time. Those musicians felt very delighted too, and they said that the Glorious Jewel was very wonderful, as the audience said the same. However, if you had not been there to attend the concert, the musicians wouldn’t have felt highly pleased. When they, both the audience and the performers, said that the Glorious Jewel was very wonderful, they formed an affinity with Lord Jigten Sumgon. Why did they say that? It is because I do everything very attentively. The result was that the audience felt the concert was worth the ticket price, even exceeding the price! I have several disciples who majored in music, and they know that when I organize a concert, I would not consider costs so there would be no profits to make. Yet, you all distinguish what I do, thinking why I run businesses. I am a lay practitioner, so why can I not have business operations? You differentiate clearly between my Dharma activities and my businesses; your karma will distinguish what you do very clearly, too.

Those musicians felt delighted. In the future, these symphony orchestras, where the musicians were from, will perform even more beautiful music for others to hear because those musicians knew that music could influence humans’ heart. Some people don’t believe in Buddha, so we use all kinds of methods to let them form affinities with the Buddha; then, they would have opportunities in the next life to learn Buddhism. As laity, you do not have that many supportive paths in your practices as monastics do. For instance, when they told me I misspoke about a term in a sutra, I was very glad; letting them talk to you is also one of their supportive paths. Many people look for me to engage in their events. I pay out money or give out my efforts but I don’t appear at such events. I did not show up in that concert that night. My pianist-disciple, who was one of the performers, was already very nervous without my being there; if I were in the audience, she would certainly become even more tense, and I was afraid that she might play her piece wrong.

I am not one who focuses on studies of sutras, so originally, I would not have opportunities to speak to you about the Five Roots. However, today I saw the information monastics had found; then I realized that I have always been doing what are described in the Five Roots, but my disciples have not. Do not have the wrong idea that ‘Things would be okay for me if I have come to pujas, and Rinpoche would need to protect me on everything.’ If it were so, the Buddha would have said in sutras that as long as one attends pujas one is to be reborn in the Pure Land. Do not think that there are no alarm clocks there, and you can sleep to whatever hour you want. It is not so. You should start practicing when you are on earth, not when you ‘get’ there. In 2007, I conducted a life-or-death retreat in Lapchi Snow Mountain. If my mind had not been determined that I wanted to do this retreat, I would not have gotten up from bed at 3:30 in the morning when birds chirped. I would have found the excuse that it was the first day I arrived there and I had not adjusted myself to the environment yet. However, I did not cover my ears with a pillow, blocking the chirping sound, to continue sleeping. Instead, I got up because I knew the birds were calling to wake me up; they knew that the Dharma method I came to practice was a very difficult one to do, with not enough time to do it; with three months’ time, the practice definitely could not be completed. Hence, I needed to get up early in the morning. I didn’t rest during the day until 11:00 at night, but after one hour’s sleep, spiders and insects would crawl into the room, so I couldn’t sleep any more. What do you practice? You don’t even listen.

Recently, some people came to implore for taking refuge in me, but to this day, I have not granted them the permission. I know they don’t want to learn Buddhism; they just said they do eloquently, but in their heart, they don’t. I have more than 1,000 disciples and once you have taken refuge in me, you are my responsibility. When you die, no matter if you have practiced in this life or not, I will still liberate you. Nevertheless, if you have not practiced, I will have much hardship in getting you liberated. Don’t think that liberating someone is an easy thing to do, by just reciting or chanting a little bit, and then that person will be reborn in the Pure Land. It is not like that.

The Root of Thoughtfulness: Think of the right path and good methods of supportive paths, and even more, have no other thoughts.

‘Even more, have no other thoughts’ means having no other ideas. We cannot do this on earth, but we should work in this direction. Every thought we have is ‘Think of the Buddha, of the Dharma and of Sangha.’ These words refer to cultivation. Your second thought is to think of ‘all good methods that can help me’. What good methods do you usually have? They are all led by your guru so that you can do them. I have done many things for you to let you participate in assisting conditions, like last concert and so on, creating them for you. However, you always make excuses not to get involved. You take everything, except things that might put you at a disadvantage.

We should practice while alive, and even more, have no other thoughts. As long as you have enough of the thought – believing in the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and your guru – your mundane issues would certainly be transformed into better situations without even asking for changes. I have said this many times that when I had cancer, I didn’t take medicine, see doctors, or implore for His Holiness’s performing any Dharma for me. I only continuously did my learning of Buddhism and my practicing of the Dharma. Yet, you don’t listen and you just live your own lives.

The Root of Meditation: Embrace the mind on the right path and good methods of supportive paths. The mind is attuned to all these paths and its state is not scattered.

‘Embrace the mind’ means gathering together all your ideas or thoughts, and concentrating your mind on the Dharma practices. How to increase good paths in practices? All things I have done are good methods, but you don’t accept them, thinking that I want you to spend money. For sixteen years, I have been able not to take your money for the yearly Grand Puja. When we purchased this place for the Center, I had the opportunity to make a profit of NT$200 million, but I didn’t take the opportunity. Yet, you are still not satisfied and take all these things for granted. Do you have a conscience? If you don’t, your mind would not be attuned to the good methods of supportive paths, and the state of your mind is scattered, too. The most recent example was the mantra-chanting of Parnashavari this year. Some of you didn’t bother to come to do it because my instruction had been that coming here to chant the mantra was optional. Those who didn’t show up thought that this chanting was not for themselves (it was for COVID-19 victims), so it had nothing to do with them. These people, therefore, have had many hindrances later when imploring for some Dharma methods from me. They have slowed themselves down. They don’t intend to practice the Bodhisattva Path; they only seek protection and do not want to give things away. It is the same for those who were late in donating money to support the temple construction project. Although they have been given opportunities later on to support it, their attaining Buddhahood will be delayed as well. This is cause and effect.

The Root of Wisdom: For the right path and good methods of supportive paths, one visualizes the Four Noble Truths, suffering et cetera.

The Four Noble Truths were what the Buddha first taught when He started expounding the Dharma. These are suffering, arising, secession and path. Nowadays whether you practice Hinayana, Mahayana, or Vajrayana Buddhism, you should know that we can only use wisdom to visualize the source of suffering. For your own suffering, it is all self-sought; you find it yourself. Your karma, causes and effects from accumulated lifetimes have created all kinds of suffering in your life. To explain simply for the ‘suffering, arising, secession and path’, it is this: only after you have reached the stage of ‘path’ can the causes of suffering be extinguished. Those with many concerns and worries cannot extinguish their suffering.

The Five Forces.

The Force of Belief: The force of belief grows. It can break doubts, false beliefs and affliction.

The first one of the Five Roots is the Root of Belief. It is mentioned in sutras that belief is the mother of all merits. The Force of Belief comes from the Root of Belief, which is from the Five Roots I just explained. Only when there is enough of the Root of Belief, can the Force of Belief emerge. It then can break your doubts, and the hindrances of learning Buddhism can be decreased. The disciple, who shared his story today before the puja started, is still having many doubts. If I don’t find ways to make him believe, he would always have his doubts.

Any methods that are not related to the liberation from birth and death are false beliefs. Even reciting the Buddha’s sacred name in front of His statue is ‘false’ if the recitation is not for the purpose of leaving the cycles of birth and death. ‘False’ does not mean bad; it means leading people to reincarnation. With sufficient Force of Belief, the affliction of mundane issues will naturally be reduced. Your belief has no roots, like duckweed which would float away when the wind blows. It is because you do things for yourselves.

The Force of Diligence: The root of diligence grows. It breaks all kinds of physical and mental slacking-off. It accomplishes the great matter of the supramundane.

Accomplishing the great matter of the supramundane is what I do. If my Root of Belief does not grow, my Root of Diligence will not grow. Only when the Root of Diligence grows will there be the Force of Diligence, which will be able to break all kinds of physical and mental slacking-off. It’s like when I conduct a retreat; I am in a closed retreat room alone and there are no CCTV cameras in the room; His Holiness would not ask me all day long either where I have gotten to on my recitation or chanting. When you become lazy, only the Buddha and Bodhisattvas know. As for you, when you conduct a retreat, you sleep in the retreat room all day long. Be careful. In the room, no one pays attention to you. ‘Physical and mental slacking-off’ would be like that you feel tired, not wanting to recite or chant anymore; or, you are having a bit of cold so you don’t want to continue your practices. These are mental slacking-off. You only want to live a comfortable life; you are practicing for the good fortune of Human and Heaven Realms.

Last year, I got diarrhea when I conducted a retreat the day before the Grand Puja.
The diarrhea I had was not like the usual one you think it would be. It was the kind that makes one not being able to eat all day long, so the next day (the day of the Puja) I didn’t eat anything either. Nevertheless, on that day, I still chanted the Amitabh mantra for a hundred thousand times. I was not like you. If you were to preside over the Grand Puja, and if you had a bit of cold, feeling a bit of discomfort, you would have taken a sick leave. I didn’t take your money for puja fees, and I could have told these monastics to chant the mantra, too. I could also have taken a sick leave, which would not have caused you losses, except a little bit of time and transportation fees you spent for going to the venue of the Puja. Yet, I still liberated sentient beings. A few years ago, after I had gone to Pingtung to perform a Dharma ritual, I got sick with health issues; I didn’t decrease the number of Dharmas I performed, either.
You are unable to do what I do, so just follow me along and you will be alright. Even to this day I do not set up my own sect on the Dharma. If you think that you can attain achievement by practicing at home, then why have I conducted retreats? You all live a too comfortable life now, including the monastics here; you just do your practices on supportive paths. Just try having plain noodles cooked in water as a meal for all three meals a day, and have them for a week. In the first few days, your legs would go weak; on the seventh day, you would be flat on the ground, feeling the noodles had no nutrients and no calories.

Conducting retreats is to accomplish the great matter of the supramundane, which is for liberating oneself, and helping sentient beings be liberated, from birth and death. These are not possible to accomplish without the Force of Diligence and the Force of Belief.

When I conducted a retreat at the high-altitude region of Lapchi Snow mountain, eating plain noodles cooked in water for three months in an environment with low level of oxygen, I still didn’t feel that I was not getting enough nutrients or had weak legs. At night, the temperature was minus ten degrees Celsius, and I didn’t feel that the calories were lacking, either. This was not by my willpower although many people say it was. Willpower is a function of consciousness, which changes. This was the effect of the Force of Belief and the Force of Diligence.

The Force of Thoughtfulness: The root of thoughtfulness grows. It breaks false beliefs, and attains all merits on the right thoughts of the supramundane.

The Force of Thoughtfulness is the power of thoughts. It is not the power of recitation; the power is not from your mouth, but from your thoughts. My three-month retreat was not hindered by goblins, demons, ghosts or monsters. It was because of two reasons. The first one was my retreat room was protected by Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and my guru. The second one was that my thoughts were all right thoughts; there were no false ones. This means that once the Force of Thoughtfulness arises in me, all things I do are for the supramundane, and are not for mundane issues.

I do so many things and they are all for the supramundane. If they were for mundane affairs, I would have become famous just by accepting media interviews all day long; I would have collected money for consciousness-transfer pujas I have held. However, one cannot have fame and profits in the supramundane. The Five Forces are developed from the Five Roots, and only when the Five Forces are well developed can you conduct retreats.

The Force of Meditation: The root of meditation grows. It can break disturbed thoughts. It brings forth matters and manages meditation.

Those with the Force of Meditation are having their Root of Meditation grown. Even when we suddenly have thoughts arisen, they would be immediately extinguished because there is enough of Force of Meditation in us. It is like when I chant mantras, sometimes I would suddenly have thoughts arising; I would immediately be aware of the situation and will stop following the thoughts’ progressing. It is also like that I would scold people severely but I never get angry; this is because such reprimands are always for their own good, and are not for matters of my own. After seeing me like this, His Holiness asked me before, ‘How is your health after you scold people?’ I said, ‘I am fine; there are no problems for me.’ Don’t imitate what I do though that you would scold others. I am fine after doing that. Why? It is because I don’t do such things for my own good. When His Holiness asked me that question, he was worrying that I might get high blood pressure, affecting my heart condition. However, my health has never been affected.

A few years ago, at one time, after I scolded someone, doctor-disciple Huang, who is a Chinese medicine doctor, took my pulse, and he found that its condition did not change at all. Doctor Huang, please tell them a bit about the situation.” Doctor Huang said, “Usually, when people are angry, their pulse will appear beating very disorderly. On that occasion, before Rinpoche scolded the person, I had already taken Rinpoche’s pulse. Then after the reprimand he had done, I took his pulse again, and found that his pulse condition didn’t change at all. It was the same as at the time before he scolded that person; in other words, his pulse condition has been very stable and very mild.” Then Rinpoche continued the teachings. “This is because my reprimands are not for my own fame and profits; I scold you because I want you to be good, and it is for your own good that I do that, therefore, it has nothing to do with me. Besides, I do it in the state of meditation; I have enough of the Force of Meditation, so on the surface, it looks that I do the scolding but my mind is unmoved.

The Force of Wisdom: The root of wisdom grows. It can uncover, know and distinguish concealed doubts. It brings forth the truth of the Dharma without deficiencies.

The Root of Wisdom grows. The Force of Wisdom can help us know all the concealed doubts if any particular one is true or false. It is like the believer who came yesterday to seek an audience with me. Obviously, he came because he was sick but he said he came to implore for my permission to attend pujas here. That was a pretense. As he knelt before me, I didn’t ask him any questions but I told him directly, ‘You don’t need to come and attend pujas because you have come to implore for getting a better health. This is not in conformance to the Dharma.’ He didn’t speak out the truth but he pretended that he wanted to learn Buddhism. It was hypocritical. If he were to say, once he knelt, ‘I have illness; I am imploring for your help to bless me.’ I would have blessed him. I am constantly in the state of meditation. Some of you would come to me and say things eloquently to me but my mind is unmoved. This is because I don’t listen to what you say; rather, I “see” your mind with my own mind. If you train yourself to have your mind always on the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha, your Force of Meditation will grow.

The ‘truth’, in the ‘It brings forth truth of the Dharma without deficiencies.’, refers to the core of the Dharma. ‘Without deficiencies’ means there is no residual effects; there are no side-effects in helping sentient beings. The concept of the Dharma is to help you understand all causes of things, as well as helping you how to lessen the effect of your karmic retribution; then, there will be no side-effects on everything you do. Otherwise, if you are sick and is given medicine for a headache, once the headache is gone, you might get a foot-ache – the physical pain has switched. Without wisdom, one cannot help sentient beings. Their karma is intricate and complex; if you follow their thoughts in doing things, you will be led around by them in your life.

The Seven Factors of Bodhicitta, also known as Seven Factors of Awakening.

The Factor of Awakening of Selecting the Dharma: When viewing phenomena with wisdom, one can be apt to simply distinguish their being true or false, and will not erroneously accept false phenomena.

The word ‘Dharma’ here does not necessarily mean the Dharma in Buddhism. It refers to all kinds of phenomena that happen in the mundane world. Only for those people with wisdom and having bodhicitta can they view – not see – phenomena with their wisdom. They can simply distinguish if a phenomenon is true or false. They will not casually take on false methods to do things. These people include the ones who propagate the Dharma, and if they possess the Seven Factors of Bodhicitta, when they view phenomena, they will not be led around by believers or disciples.

The Factor of Awakening of Diligence: When diligently practicing Dharma methods on paths, one can be apt to know right methods, and will not erroneously practice useless methods as ascetics. One often practices true Dharma methods with diligence in one’s mind.

This is criticizing practitioners. Some people think that to practice like ascetics could make one attaining enlightenment. ‘Achieve attainment’ means that a practitioner, with wisdom and diligence, will not ‘walk’ on wrong paths, and will not practice like an ascetic in methods that are useless in liberating sentient beings from birth and death. Any Dharmas, that were not passed down through pith instructions by Shakyamuni Buddha, not expounded by your guru, or not written in sutras, are not true Dharma, and are all false.

The Factor of Awakening of Joy: If one’s mind retains Dharma joy, one is apt to know such a joy. One will not feel it by relying on the distorted Dharma; one adheres to the real Dharma joy.

I have explained about Dharma joy before. ‘Know’ here does not mean that in your consciousness you feel very cheerful for attending pujas, therefore, you are filled with Dharma joy. Rather, it is in one’s enlightenment that such a joy is distinguished in a very apt manner. This kind of joy is related to Tantra, and is not to be explained by words.

‘The distorted Dharma’ refers to the Dharma methods you implore for to fulfill your desires. You think that by satisfying some of your desires you would feel Dharma joy. These are all false. ‘The real Dharma joy’ means the joy one has retained from one’s capability to reach enlightenment and understanding that methods one practices today can benefit oneself and others. If you participate in pujas to satisfy some of your feelings, desires or curiosities, and if you feel then that you are filled with Dharma joy, it is not so.

The Factor of Awakening of Elimination: If and when one eliminates inappropriate ideas and affliction, one is apt to know such an act is to eliminate anything false, and will not damage the real virtuous root.

This quote describes what I do now. Although I scold people it is not for my own good; it is for the good of sentient beings. Hence, there are no false things involved in what I act on.

Before each Grand Puja, I need to conduct a retreat. Otherwise, how can I liberate so many sentient beings in the Puja? Not to mention other things, at least I need to be able to accept attendees’ paying obeisance to me and there are 20,000 of them. In the past, I always scolded those who went to the restroom during the Puja; they delayed the progress of the ritual, because there were many sentient beings packed at the entrances of the venue. Millions of them, invisible to you, were waiting to get into the venue. You usually feel cold in the venue, Nangang Exhibition Hall, but it is not because of its air-conditioning system, which has been always the same in these sixteen years and has not increased its operating units. It is because the number of sentient beings coming to get liberated is far exceeding the number of attendees, 20,000. If any beings are without a form of a body, they are cold, including ghosts and deities. At the beginning of the Grand Puja, you will feel cold; it is because all the spaces and walkways are full of invisible sentient beings. Some attendees wear coats or hats but they still feel cold because they are physically weak. However, at the end of my performance of the Dharma, it is not cold anymore; there are no additional people attending the Puja, and there are no fewer air-conditioning units been turned on. Why are people not feeling cold then? It is because those sentient beings have been liberated – they are no longer there. You should be, therefore, conscientious. For this year’s Grand Puja, I spent money and put in efforts. Now, I have bestowed opportunities upon you to do good deeds, but you don’t support or act on them. Then, for next year’s Grand Puja, you organize it with your own money; I will not care for it.

Some time ago, there was a believer who came to seek an audience with me because she had a fight with her family members about the ownership of the family land. In order not to increase her greed, I scolded her. If there is a major donor coming to see you and you call the person a Bodhisattva, that is a false act. Not being false is judged from the principles of the Dharma, and is not from the idea that one can get something in return, therefore, one’s virtuous root will not be damaged. Even when I scold people so severely, I do not damage my virtuous root. If I want to live a good life, I don’t need to do so much hard work in running my businesses. I could also have said to people, ‘You have some more white hair now, but it doesn’t matter; it would be fine if you practice Buddhism.’ I will not say this though. A seventy-year-old man came to seek an audience with me. I told him to go to see a Chinese-medicine doctor, and if he doesn’t want to, he needs to follow my ways of practicing the Dharma. Yet, you don’t do it. Many people out there often say that by drinking Great Water of Compassion one could improve one’s health; they think that facing a glass of water and chanting the Great Compassion Mantra seven times, such water is called the Great Water of Compassion. There are also some people who would hold a glass of water, with many words on the glass, and chant the Mantra at the water; they say if one then drinks it, one would have a better health. Have these been mentioned in sutras? Never. If they had been, the Buddha would have said so and they would have been written in sutras.

On whatever you do, as long as the intents are not for your own benefits, and are for wishing that others do not do things wrong, and even if they don’t accept what you say or not wanting to make friends with you, your virtuous root is not damaged. Do not learn from me and do what I do though because you would say that your relatives and friends would leave you; you all need them. Learning the Bodhisattva Path will not make one being false towards the end. However, when pointing out other people’s problems one should really know about these problems first before saying anything. If one says these things casually and wildly, those people, having been talked to, would be displeased when they get home.

The Factor of Awakening of Abandonment: If and when one abandons a state of seeing and remembrance, one is apt to know such a state is false and unreal, and will not recollect it forever.

‘Not to recollect it forever’ means not thinking about it again. Do not think how affectionate you and your partner were before; you two were running on the beach and the wind was blowing your scarf. Do not think about the past anymore. Let go of what were good or bad and do not recollect them. We should remember what benevolence others did towards us. Nevertheless, all that you remember are about hate and animosities between you and others; you don’t remember the benevolence you received. The heading shown above means that one is not to think about the past again because the past is the past. Some women would say how things had been before they were married but then things have changed afterward. Some men would say that their wives were very beautiful before the marriage, but now have become ‘yellow face wives’, women who are married for a long time and are aged and worn out. Then again, this is the result of what you have chosen.

‘Abandonment’ means knowing that all things are impermanent; they change all the time and nothing is unchanged or unchangeable forever. Since things always change, we should abandon our thoughts on what we have seen and not to think about them continuously. This is why there are so many mentally-disabled people; they are constantly thinking about things. It is stated in the Diamond Sutra that all phenomena have unreal appearances, and are like dreams, illusions, bubbles, and shadows. ‘Unreal’ doesn’t mean non-existence; it means that things change all the time in that good things will turn into bad ones and vice versa.

The Factor of Awakening of Meditation: If and when states of meditation arise, one is apt to know such states are unreal, and one’s mind will not give rise to ideas of loving them and to delusional thoughts.

This is something that only can be said when practicing the Bodhisattva Path. For a practitioner, whether you practice on Mahayana or Hinayana, if you practice diligently, the force of ‘states of meditation arise’ will emerge. However, we should understand that all meditations are unreal. Meditation is only a process of our learning and training and it is not a result. When you enter a state of meditation and think you have attained achievement, then you are finished; you can never become a Buddha or a Bodhisattva. If you love such a meditation, one day you will be attached to it. There is a heaven called ‘heaven of neither-perception-nor-non-perception’, and this is the problem you will end up with in that you will be in that state. Meditation is just a process; it is not a result. It was until I conducted retreats in India that I could distinguish the differences between the state of meditation and that of thoughtlessness. If you are unable to know these differences, once you enter the state of meditation you cannot get out of it. Then, you cannot attain enlightenment or fruition. Any religions can have a state of meditation arising, including Taoism or Catholicism.

‘Not give rise to ideas of loving them and to delusional thoughts’ means that this meditation you are in is unreal and will change. This is because that once the power of meditation vanishes, the meditation itself will change, therefore, think, ‘I cannot give rise to the feeling of loving such a meditation.’ Also, do not think, ‘I want to be like this every time.’ If you think that, it is wrong and it is especially dangerous to monastics’ practices. If you feel very comfortable when you enter a state of meditation, you are finished because you are starting to practice on Hinayana. When you do a so-called heretical ‘meditation’ technique, you would think that you have entered a state of meditation. It is very dangerous to your practices without a meritorious guru guiding you on your conducting of retreats and practicing of meditation.

The Factor of Awakening of Thoughtfulness: If and when one practices on supramundane paths, one is apt to know to frequently equalize meditation and wisdom. The mind might sink into an ineffective state, and then one should think of using these three Factors of Awakening – Selecting the Dharma, Diligence and Joy – to examine and raise such a state. The mind might be unsteady and fluctuates, and then one should think of using these three Factors of Awakening – Elimination, Abandonment and Meditation – to embrace and hold the mind, making it reconciled and harmonious.

‘Equalize meditation and wisdom’ means that without meditation there will be no wisdom. If one has too much of wisdom but no meditation, one is also finished; likewise, having meditation but without wisdom will not make one alright, either. When practicing on supramundane paths, meditation and wisdom need to be equalized. The precepts, meditation and wisdom are to be practiced together at the same time; this is called ‘cultivating meditation and wisdom simultaneously’.

‘The mind might sink into an ineffective state.’ In the cultivation of the Manhamudra, there are no diligent methods dealing with such a state of mind; one cannot give rise to the Factor of Awakening of Joy in meditation to examine and feel the mind being in such a state. It happened twice when I was practicing Exoteric Buddhism. I entered into a state of meditation but I had not enough of power of mind; I felt I was in that state but my eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body did not feel what things that were happening outside of my body. Only my consciousness remained. If no one had told me to get out of that state, my mind would have stayed there, and I would have been in the situation of so-called meditating-without-falling. One time, I was sitting in meditation at home, which I usually did in the middle of night. I entered into a state of meditation and my eyes, ears, nose, tongue and body all stopped functioning with only my consciousness remaining. I felt I was alive but I heard no sound out there at all. Later, all of a sudden, I heard the sound of a woman laughing, and just then, I got out of that state. I checked the time and realized that two hours had already passed. Through practicing Tantra, I think that lady should be the Dharma Protector Achi. At that time, my pulse was very weak, which would have made people think that I was dead; only by getting close to me would they have found out I was not dead. If I had not gotten out of that state of meditation, I would have been considered dead and then been autopsied.”

(Rinpoche asked monastics if they had encountered such a situation before. One of them answered, “When the old monk Guang Qin had entered into a state of meditation, the people in his temple thought that he was dead and they wanted him cremated. It was Master Hong Yi who came and told the old monk to get out of his meditation.) Rinpoche continued his teachings. “What he just described was a well-known example. Actually, such kinds of things occur very easily; they are dangerous to practitioners. There have been a lot of such situations and it is just that this one is more famous. These things have happened because there is no Factor of Awakening of Thoughtfulness in those practitioners’ mind.

Some male believers like to sit in meditation; they sit there and feel they are Masters of Meditation. Their pulse cannot be taken, not even hand-pulse, and they feel very comfortable after an hour of sitting there. I do not teach you sitting-in-meditation at the present time because you don’t have attributes for learning it now. Don’t think that sitting there for an hour is good for your health. If you want to be healthy, do exercises but you are lazy and don’t want to sweat.

Later, it happened once again in Keelung, a city in northern Taiwan. There is a very old temple worshipping Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. At the time, there was a very old stone statue of Avalokiteshvara enshrined in a minor hall of the temple. I went into this hall and entered into a state of meditation; the rain was pouring outside but I heard nothing of it. At that time, a friend of mine was with me and he carried a pager. It made a beeping sound and because of it I was able to get out of my meditation. Only until I have learned Tantra, could I equally allocate the force of my meditation and wisdom while conducting my retreats in India. If you have too much of meditation, your wisdom will not arise; likewise, if you have too much of wisdom, your meditation will not come up, either. When you have too much of wisdom, you will be arrogant, therefore, you need your guru leading you in your practices.

When your mind is unsteady and fluctuates, your wisdom vanishes.” Rinpoche instructed the monastics to look up the Three Factors of Awakening.

“What do we use meditation for? It is not for us to have a good mood so as not to quarrel with others; it is not to show people that we are capable of doing a meditation, either. Its purpose is for us to use it at the moment before we die. Because of our flawed bodily conditions at that moment, our mind is in disarray that we cannot recite the Buddha’s name at all, and we cannot even remember what our guru looks like. It is for this crucial moment that we need the power of meditation. ‘Making the mind reconciled and harmonious’ is mentioned here because our mind is too disordered, and by practicing meditation our pure nature will appear occasionally. Then, ‘bang!’ wisdom arises for an instant. Train ourselves slowly to accumulate these practicing experiences. When there is meditation, there is wisdom following to arise. When we realize that we possess meditation ability and our wisdom is unlocked, we should equalize them. We cannot be stubbornly obsessed with being in the state of meditation; we also cannot be arrogant in thinking that we have great wisdom.

In the Ratnakuta Sutra, it is stated that practicing the Bodhisattva Path needs to abandon meditation. Upon hearing this, people who are learning about meditation are afraid for not knowing the reasons. Now, from what we have just discussed, it proves that what the Buddha said is right. The state of meditation you enter into is not that of Shakyamuni Buddha. Yours is just suppressing your consciousness to make it unmoved; as long as it moves, all your karmic creditors from your accumulated lifetimes will come looking for and dealing with you. Thus, you should know clearly what the function of meditation is. It is not casually sitting cross-legged in front of a statue of the Buddha, and feeling calmer in your mind that you can handle your matters a little bit better.

In The Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra, the reason why Shakyamuni Buddha particularly expounded this passage is because the methods mentioned are tools needed during the processes of our practices. On this earth, it is very difficult to master these methods stated above. They are to be continued to cultivate in the Land of Amitabha; before you have attained a Bodhisattva’s Dharmakaya (Dharma-body), all you have practiced are not done to a perfection. Without perfection, one cannot practice on supramundane paths. For example, during the time of transferring consciousness, there are so many sentient beings appearing in the rituals. If you have not enough of power of meditation or wisdom, seeing so many of them present, you will be frightened, and even have some thoughts arising.

For those who are able to cultivate the Bodhisattva Path and help others, need to observe the Bodhisattva Precepts and give rise to bodhicitta; only then can they attain the achievements of having meditation and wisdom and have the capability to help people. One who gains meditation but without wisdom cannot help others; one who has wisdom but without gaining meditation will become arrogant. To gain meditation and to have wisdom should be practiced equally. Another explanation of wisdom is that Emptiness arises in the state of meditation; wisdom is Emptiness. We are to understand that all are Emptiness, and nothing is fixed or unchanged. All phenomena we see now have appeared from karma, causes, and conditions, and they are not definitive or constant. When we are able to gain meditation from observing precepts and then from meditation gained to have wisdom, we should distinguish ways to average them out so that we will not be attached to any one of them. We will not cling to ideas like, ‘this is a precept’, ‘this is meditation’ or ‘this is wisdom’; these three tools are to be used in our practices at the same time with no differences or preferences. For example, when transferring consciousness, if one does not observe bodhicitta precepts, one will not gain meditation, which in turn will not have one’s wisdom unlocked to attain realization in Emptiness for the continuation of one’s cultivation. It is like when I perform the Chod, if I am not enlightened in Emptiness, I cannot perform this Dharma, and then I cannot help sentient beings getting liberated.

You need to understand the contents of ‘Five Roots, Five Forces, Seven Factors of Bodhicitta, Factors of Eightfold Noble Path’ and do your practices toward these directions. All things you have done now are assisting conditions. Do not waste them. The things I want to do are to give you such conditions. I don’t force you to do these things; you can refuse to get involved in them and you will not fall into the Hell Realm. However, because your assisting conditions decrease, your opportunities to be close and attuned to the Dharma in this life will become fewer and fewer. You will be fine if you do one thing less but there will be no good deeds for you to see; you think too much of yourself.

The Factors of Eight Right Paths: Right views, right thinking, right words, right actions, right lives, right diligence, right thoughtfulness and right meditation.

When I expounded the Ratnakuta Sutra before, I already explained to you the Eight Right Paths, also called the Eightfold Noble Path. The Eight Right Paths I have taught you are not quite the same as those explained in Exoteric Buddhism. I will not expound these Paths again today.”

Then, Rinpoche continued to expound The Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra.

“Sutra: ‘All these birds chirp day and night in harmonious and graceful sounds, which give forth smoothly these Dharmas: Five Roots, Five Forces, Seven Factors of Bodhicitta and Factors of Eightfold Noble Path. As sentient beings in this land hear such sounds, they all think of the Buddha, of the Dharma and of Sangha. Sariputra, do not say these birds were really born out of retribution of their vices. Why not? The land of that Buddha is without the Three Evil Realms. Sariputra, such a land does not even have the name of the Three Evil Realms, let alone their being there in reality. All these birds are emanations of Amitabha, wanting to make the Dharma voice pronounced and spread out . Sariputra, in the land of that Buddha, breezes wave rows of jeweled trees and jeweled nets, producing gentle and wondrous sounds. All the sounds coming forth from birds and breezes are like hundreds of thousands of kinds of music, playing simultaneously. For those hearing such sounds, their mind naturally gives rise to the thinking of the Buddha, of the Dharma and of Sangha.’

With great compassion, the Buddha told us what things are there in the Land of Amitabha. He did not say that we can see Amitabha; instead, He mentioned that there are breezes waving, birds chirping and also the scents of flowers. It is like when I chant mantras, you can sense a fragrant smell. In The Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra, it is said, ‘In this evil time of the Five Turbidities, speaking of such a Dharma that is hard to believe….’ This is indicated because you don’t believe in the Dharma; you only believe in yourself, doing whatever you like. It is not said so in sutras but contrary to what is expected, you think it is. Then, can you be liberated to be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land? Of course not. According to the concept of the Dharma, if, in this life, you do not eliminate your karma, attain realization of Emptiness and a Bodhisattva’s Dharmakaya, how can you not be reincarnated? This is why Amitabha ‘appears’ with forty-eight vows to help sentient beings, like us, who think they have practiced but are unproductive, to be reborn in the Amitabha’s Land to continue doing their practices. You are ordinary people; you have made vows but have you done what have been taught previously? You have not, and that is the reason that a Buddha’s Nirmanakaya (emanation-body) comes to receive you when you leave this world.

In Amitabha’s Pure Land, you are in pre-kindergarten classes, starting your level of learning from the beginning (level zero). It is not like what you think that once you are in that land, Amitabha will make friends with you. Do not think, ‘I was an ordained practitioner on earth and made many prostrations, so I will start the learning here differently.’ You will still start from level zero. It is not mentioned here in the Sutra that you will immediately be a Bodhisattva or a Buddha; what is indicated is just that you are not allowed sleeping – you need to practice day and night.

‘Chirping…in harmonious and graceful sounds.’ When I conducted a retreat at Lapchi Snow Mountain, at first, at 3:30 in the morning, a bird would chirp and then many birds followed; there were a dozen kinds of them and these sounds of birds got me out of bed. Thus, do not think to sleep for twenty-four hours a day in Amitabha’s Pure Land; in there, in the day and at night, at the whole twenty-four hours, birds of all kinds chirp, wanting you to get up to practice. In the Pure Land you cannot have a deep, long sleep because birds bring out different kinds of sounds, which make you unable to sleep. Different sorts of birds make different kinds of sounds. For example, the sounds that cranes give forth are different from those made by peacocks. In that land, there are many kinds of birds. This is because if you hear only one sound from one kind of birds, after you are used to hearing this particular sound, you will not feel the sense of it anymore. Hence, there are different kinds of birds helping you to practice, and all of them are emanations of Amitabha, to increase the efforts of your practices on Five Roots, Five Forces, Seven Factors of Bodhicitta and Factors of Eightfold Noble Path. If you do not practice these now and do not think of the Buddha, of the Dharma and of Sangha, you cannot be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land.

Few days ago, His Holiness and I visited the construction site of the temple. There were many birds chirping there bringing out many different sounds. There was also wind blowing in our direction. For those of you who have been there would know that the wind often blows in the direction of the site. The temple (in construction) is located in a valley but there is always wind blowing in there. It is a very special place.

Because our mind is not steady, we need many different sounds to help us calm it. This is why we should think of the Buddha, of the Dharma and of Sangha. Our daily practices of Dharma Protector Achi, the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices, and mantras-chanting are all for the purpose of getting us to think of the Buddha, of the Dharma and of Sangha. This will be the same in the Pure Land when we are reborn there. It is just that in there, practices are in advanced classes, and here, pre-kindergarten ones; in either place we start from level zero. Do not dedicate your mantras-chanting to your partner, wishing him healthy; it is useless because there is no meditation ability and no observance of precepts in you. Do not dedicate the chanting or other practices to your children, either, wanting them to get good grades in school or be healthy. The learning of the Dharma has nothing to do with these.

As a result, if you don’t keep me, your guru, in your mind, you have not done practices; it is the same that you have not practiced if you practice on your own, or if you think, ‘The Buddha is mine.’ Some people say, ‘I have a statue of a Bodhisattva at home, and that statue….’ However, would Avalokiteshvara or the Buddha live in your home? Is your home a Buddhist center? Do you think because there is a statue of Avalokiteshvara in your home, that Avalokiteshvara is yours? These are all thoughts of arrogance.

Sutra: ‘Sariputra, the land of that Buddha attains achievements of such merits and solemness.’

In Amitabha’s Pure Land, all things that you see or hear, say, a piece of grass, a tree, a flower, or a bird, are to help us cultivate; there are no trivial things to do there. Because we have not attained achievements from our practices, we cannot dignify that land; only Amitabha has such a good fortune. In that land, what we hear, touch or feel are all the things that help us practice, unlike things on earth aiding us to reincarnate. Do not think that you are living a good life. The land of Shakyamuni Buddha is Saha World, a world that reincarnated ordinary people and sacred persons live together. Naturally, there are their own environments existed there for them.

Sutra: ‘Sariputra, what do you think? Why is that Buddha called Amitabha? Sariputra, the light of that Buddha is immeasurable and it illuminates the lands of ten directions without hindrances, therefore, he is called Amitabha. Also, Sariputra, the life span of that Buddha and of his people is as immeasurable and boundless as asamkhyeya kalpas, so he is called Amitabha.’

Why is he called Amitabha? It is because the light of Amitabha is immeasurable, and it can illuminate all lands in ten directions without hindrances. The life span of Amitabha and that of all sentient beings in his land cannot be counted in numbers. Such a life span exceeds the period of one great asamkhyeya kalpa, and it is still there afterwards.

Sutra: ‘Sariputra, it has been ten kalpas since Amitabha attained Buddhahood. Also, Sariputra, that Buddha has immeasurable and boundless numbers of disciples of Sravaka. They are all arhats, and the count of them cannot be known by arithmetic. It is the same for the count of Bodhisattvas there. Sariputra, the land of that Buddha attains achievements of such merits and solemness.’

It has been ten kalpas since Amitabha attained Buddhahood. One kalpa is how long it takes for a world to cycle through the Four Stages of Formation, Existence, Destruction, and Void and back again, in reverse order. It is not indicated here whether a kalpa, from the ‘ten kalpas’, is a major kalpa or a minor kalpa. Either one is still a very long time.

‘They are all arhats.’ In Amitabha’s Pure Land, there are immeasurable numbers of arhats and Bodhisattvas practicing there. Evidently, arhats can also be reborn in that land, therefore, in Esoteric Buddhism, one cannot look down on practitioners who practice Hinayana. Although they are arhats when they are alive, once they turn their mind to a different type of cultivation, wanting to practice Mahayana, they still can ‘go’ to Amitabha’s Pure Land to continue their practices. However, this requires a period of twelve minor kalpas to do the practices.

Why does Amitabha have so many emanations? It is because in his Pure Land there are so many arhats and Bodhisattvas, and they become Amitabha’s emanations to come and lead us there. If you have not attained the fruition level of a Bodhisattva when you are alive, you cannot possibly see Amitabha when you are living. All the others leading us are emanations. If you wish to see Amitabha, it is only after you are dead and Amitabha’s Nirmanakaya comes and leads you away. Or, you have already attained the fruition level of a Bodhisattva when you are alive – you are already a Bodhisattva – then you have the opportunity to see Amitabha’s Sambhogakaya.

The light of Amitabha illuminates the worlds of ten directions ceaselessly. Every beam of the light is an emanation of Amitabha. If you have not attained the fruition level of a Bodhisattva, you cannot see him no matter how. Arhats or ordinary people can see what Amitabha looks like when they are led to the Pure Land. We should recite the name of Amitabha as often as we can before we die. As we do not see the Buddha, we should have Him in our thoughts. Your guru can transform into an emanation of Amitabha to help you. This is the reason why in Esoteric Buddhism gurus are very important.

Sutra: ‘Also, Sariputra, sentient beings reborn in the Land of Utmost Bliss are all Avinivartaniyas.’

Avinivartaniyas are alternative Bodhisattvas, waiting to become one. Even if you have not attained the fruition level of a Bodhisattva while alive, as long as you are reborn in that land you are an alternative Bodhisattva. This means that once you are there you start to practice the Bodhisattva Path. If on this earth you are unwilling to learn or practice this Path, and even if you recite or chant every day, you cannot get there. Although we are unable to become a Bodhisattva, at least we should have a very strong concept in our learning that it is not for solving small family matters that we come here to listen to the Dharma teachings. Otherwise, the Pure Land has nothing to do with you at all.

Cultivation of Mahayana Buddhism is to practice the Bodhisattva Path. Then, do you still care so much about your fame and profits? Since you don’t, your mind can give rise to bodhicitta, and you can practice the Bodhisattva Path. Without practicing about compassion and without aspiring to have a mind of bodhicitta, what reasons can you based on to be reborn in the Pure Land if you just recite Amitabha’s name?

Sutra: ‘There are many among Avinivartaniyas who can become Bodhisattvas in one life. Their number is so great that it cannot be known by arithmetic but it can be said that this number is as immeasurable and boundless as asamkhyeya kalpas.’

Among alternative Bodhisattvas, many of them can be reborn in the Land of Amitabha in this life; it means that they can immediately attain the fruition level. There is no need for them to make vows to be what kinds of persons they will be in next life. For those who have not reached accomplishments of a Bodhisattva, they come back to this world at the mercy of their karma; if they have become Bodhisattvas, they come back by their aspiration and vows. For some people who have not immediately been reborn in that land, if they practice the Bodhisattva Path, they will be there once they have mastered their practices; then they are alternative Bodhisattvas. It is like me that I have attained the fruition level of a Bodhisattva in this life and on this earth; once I am reborn in Amitabha’s Land, I immediately become a Bodhisattva. In that land, there are no certificates or reward-plates praising us, like what we have on the earth. Rather, it is all by what Amitabha ‘says’; if he says you have attained the fruition, then you have. Amitabha is aware of all merits you have gained from your practices. When you are in such a fruition level, you are an alternative Bodhisattva. If you have practiced the Bodhisattva Path in this life and on this earth, even if you have not reached the fruition level of a Bodhisattva, because you have practiced and learned the Bodhisattva Path, when you are reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land, you are an alternative Bodhisattva. Thus, the time for me to attain Buddhahood will be much shortened. This ‘much shortened’ doesn’t mean that the time shortened is a period of few years or tens of thousands of years, as you think. It means a period of a few dozens of thousands of years. To attain Buddhahood is not easy; it will take a very long time.

You should, therefore, act upon what you have learned when you are alive. Do not think that you will wait and do your practices when you are reborn in the Pure Land after you die. Then you might need to practice for a very, very long time there. You should take advantages you have now to do your practices bit by bit, accumulating experiences. This allows you to practice first on the earth so that you will not take so much time to do your practices when you are in the Land of Amitabha.

Sutra: ‘Sariputra, sentient beings who have listened to what have been described should make a vow to be reborn in that land. Why is it so? They will then be able to gather together with these men of great virtue in the same place.’

After having listened to these, you should make a vow to be reborn in Amitabha’s Land. What kinds of qualifications do you have so as to be with those men of great virtue? You must practice completely the Ten Meritorious Acts, and have attained the fruition level of a Bodhisattva. When we are in that land we are with the best of people. How can you ‘go’ there if you talk nonsense on the earth? Will we put a king and a murderer together on the earth? We will not unless the king is giving the murderer an amnesty. If you haggle over your own money with others all day long, how can you be reborn in that land? Practicing the Dharma is not a matter for a day or two. The most important thing to bear in mind is this, ‘think of the Buddha, of the Dharma and of Sangha’; the mindset is very important. Have you thought of these yet? You still think that you recite or chant very well and read many sutras; you just don’t think of Sangha and of the Dharma. You are not qualified to get to the Pure Land; then, since you cannot get there, you will come back to this world in your next life. Have you kept the teachings of ‘think of the Buddha, of the Dharma and of Sangha’ in your mind? Have you practiced them? If you have not, you cannot be with those men of great virtue, and naturally, you cannot be reborn in the Pure Land. Then you will come back here. When you do, you are not necessarily an ordained person again. I myself was a monastic in one lifetime, but in this lifetime, I cannot be a monastic; I was led here by my heavy karma. When true practitioners have been aspired to benefit sentient beings, they come back by their aspirations and vows; they don’t come back at the mercy of their karma.

It is the Buddha’s Sambhogakaya leading you to do your practices in Amitabha’s Pure Land. All the people in that land are people of great virtue. While living, if one practices any methods that are not for liberating sentient beings from the cycle of birth and death, such methods are false Dharmas and they cannot lead one to Amitabha’s Pure Land. Only when one cultivates the Dharma once being in the Pure Land can one attain the fruition level of non-retrogression.

Sutra: ‘Sariputra, one must have no lack of virtuous roots, good fortune, merits, causes and conditions to be reborn in that land.’

This quote admonishes us because it says, ‘one must have no lack of….’! Why have I continuously done so many things for you? The reasons are to help you increase assisting or good conditions, and plant virtuous roots. Do not think that you have been doing practices. Things I have told you to do are to give you assisting conditions; if you don’t do them, then there are no ways to help you in your practice. You don’t want to be involved in activities when assisting conditions appear. Not to mention past events, just look at what happened in this year’s mantra-chanting of Parnashavari; many of you didn’t want to participate in that puja. You thought, ‘Rinpoche didn’t say we have to attend it; this chanting is not for myself anyway so it has nothing to do with me; I will not go.’ This was a good deed for helping sentient beings and you didn’t want to do it. You always think of only yourself; then there is nothing to be done to accumulate your virtuous roots. For those of you who were slow, at the very beginning, in supporting the construction project of the new temple, you were instructed not to support the project anymore. Although later you were allowed to do it, such a delay had lasted for a few years. Consequently, the time will also be delayed for you to be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land. Your virtuous roots need the help of your guru to plant good seeds, making them grown. Will anyone be so stupid doing such a thing at a loss of money?

Whenever I read this quote, I feel sad. Since 1997, I have been constantly helping my disciples to plant virtuous roots. On the contrary, they don’t want these helps; they think they can practice what they have learned by reciting or chanting. Why are there still disciples, after having taken refuge for a dozen or twenty years, getting cancer? It is because they have not accumulated and planted enough of assisting conditions and virtuous roots. If you have enough of virtuous roots, even if your negative karma from accumulated lifetimes appears its effect will be much lessened. I had cancer before and it was cured because I have enough of virtuous roots. You think that because you have chanted mantras and come here to participate in pujas, things are all right for you and you are living a so-called good life. However, those circumstances are just assisting conditions; they help you accumulate causal conditions to learn Buddhism. If these things you do can make you showing that you have mastered your practices, it would have been written in sutras that you will attain accomplishments by just attending pujas; there is no need then to continuously mention in sutras about assisting conditions.

In the Pure Land, if you want to get the flower (that you are in) blossomed out soon so as to see the Buddha, you need to start practicing when you are on the earth; you cannot wait to practice until you are there. You do your practices two steps forward while ten steps backward. When I die, who will help you? Learning Buddhism is not for living a short, satisfying life of decades. The most important thing for this learning is to know where we will go after we die. Here, in this quote, the Buddha said very clearly on the condition to be reborn in the Pure Land: ‘….one must have no lack of virtuous roots….’. I have done this thing right: I have often given you many opportunities to plant virtuous roots; in other places, there might not be such opportunities.

People think that as long as they read The Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra, they can be reborn in the Pure Land after they die. Out there in society, this thought is widely spread out, too. Now, the more you have listened to what I have taught the more you are afraid, because you find that it is not so. It is mentioned very clearly in this Sutra that to be reborn in Amitabha’s land one must have no lack of virtuous roots. Thus, I have constantly created causal conditions for you so that you have opportunities to plant virtuous roots. However, you still push these opportunities farther and farther away. When I just took refuge in His Holiness, he didn’t ask me to do things, either, but as long as I heard that there was something I needed to, or could, do, I immediately did it. Do you think that every time what His Holiness asks me to do are things about organizing pujas or constructing or fixing temples? Actually, from what you can understand, many of the things I am asked to do are not for these types of tasks. Nevertheless, His Holiness is my guru, and I must serve my guru. Are those things I do for him related to my practices? Yes, they are – they are assisting conditions. How can I be like you doing things one step forward while two steps backward, or three steps forward while a hundred steps backward? Let’s not talk about the past now but about the recent event of mantra-chanting of Parnashavari. You thought that since I had said that it didn’t matter whether or not you would come to chant the mantra, and since you thought the chanting was not directly related to you, you decided not to come to that puja. It was the same for your supporting the construction project of the new temple. You thought, ‘I want to closely watch out the progress of the project; it should not be completed so quickly! I will wait and see, and decide later when I start supporting it.’

No one wants you to sell your house or land, exhausting all your family financial resources in order to make offerings; some people make offerings to me with their houses, which I don’t accept. The important thing is about your thinking in that whether you have kept what your guru wants to do in your mind or not. Other places are not like our Center that they don’t have so many opportunities to plant virtuous roots. Every year, in the Grand Puja, I receive donations made to me as offerings by believers, and I deposit all the money in a special account of Ministry of Health and Welfare. A few days ago, I withdrew NT$ 1 million from this account to help physically-disabled athletes who will attend the Olympic Games next year. They were all very pleased. They were happy not because they will get good results from the competition; rather, they felt that someone cared for them. This was planting virtuous roots. You implore for protection from the Buddha all day long; you should know that ‘….one must have no lack of virtuous roots….’. If you have enough of them there is no need to implore for protection and things will be okay for you. Ask yourself if you have the mindset of ‘think of the Buddha, of the Dharma and of Sangha’. If you still think of only yourself all day long, then you have nothing to do with what the Buddha taught on virtuous roots, good fortune, merits, causes and conditions. For me, I don’t need to eat but I cannot do deeds without planting virtuous roots. You are just opposite; you cannot be without food but you can be not planting your virtuous roots. When I had cancer, I didn’t take medicine and didn’t see doctors but my cancer got cured; that was because I have never stopped planting virtuous roots.

To this day, I have never stopped planting them since I started learning Buddhism, because it is said in sutras that planting virtuous roots cannot be stopped; once it is stopped, such roots will not increase. Some people always have this wrong thought: not thinking of ‘think of the Buddha, of the Dharma and of Sangha’, meaning not having enough of beliefs in them. Because of this, their life will suddenly be pulled back by their karma to what it was before; a thought makes a turn-back on things. Participation in pujas gains good fortune and that is why some people, after leaving this Center, do not immediately have issues. It is just that they cannot be liberated from the cycle of birth and death.

I have propagated the Dharma since 1997, and to date, as your guru, I have continuously created things in helping you plant virtuous roots. I have also ceaselessly created good conditions and bestowed upon you good deeds to do, letting you have opportunities to accumulate virtuous roots. However, you keep on refusing to accept what I have done – you reject them! When you bring out your money you haggle about or calculate the amount, thinking that getting a little bit of virtuous roots is good enough. Some people, having not done what they are asked to do, feel they are pressured. How can there be any pressure? You just do it and that is all. How much efforts – a lot or a little – you put into those activities I have created for you is not important. Just don’t stop doing them; continue to do them. If you don’t get involved in them, I will be very tired; I am already seventy-three years old. Have a conscience, okay?

What I have taught are all based on sutras. You can pay attention to the occasions that if I explain Buddhist subjects wrong these monastics will immediately correct me. I have taken in a dozen monastics as disciples and they are like my supervisors watching over me.” Rinpoche asked them present, “Have I said anything wrong today? (The monastics shook their heads, smiling.) Dharma Protector Achi is amazing, finding me a group of monastics who have been ordained for decades to take refuge in me. They let you know clearly that what I have expounded in sutras have absolutely based on what I have been taught by my gurus and the Buddha as well as on my practicing experiences over the years. Expounding these to you does not do me any good, and you should understand this very well.

Nowadays I do not quite take in new disciples. This is because I have found that those who came recently and implored for taking refuge in me are not really wanting to learn Buddhism. I will then observe those of you in such situations whether you truly want to learn it or not. If I do not promise you that you can take refuge in me, there must be reasons. However, you can come to attend pujas (as believers). After this year’s Grand Puja, Doctor Huang, a doctor-disciple of Chinese medicine, took my pulse and said that my pulse condition has lost its strength by one-third, meaning that my life energy has reduced by one-third. The condition originally was like a person in an age of thirties but now it becomes being in an age of sixties. Even when its strength has reduced by one-third, have I reduced the times of performing the Dharma? Have I blessed you less? (All the attendees answered, ‘No.’) Then, do you have a conscience? Do you wish me to become old? Think about this closely. I will explain good fortune, merits, causes and conditions next time.”

Rinpoche led the attendees in the Dharma Protector Achi Ritual and dedication prayer.

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Updated on July 9, 2021