His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – November 8, 2020

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche lit lamps as an offering to the Buddha, then ascended the Dharma throne, and led the attendees to chant the Amitabha mantra. He then expounded The Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra.

“Last week, I asked the monastic disciples to look up the explanation of the Seven Branches of Enlightenment. I did not practice Buddhism through learning sutras, doctrines, and Buddhist terms. Yet nowadays many people like to listen to Buddhist terms. Now when practicing Buddhism, they often have misunderstandings when they listen to the Dharma and they think they can understand it. At that time, why were there Buddhist terms? It was because Shakyamuni Buddha told his disciples, ‘In the future when giving Dharma teachings to sentient beings, some Buddhist terms should be used because they can better accept what they hear. As some people like to hear such terms, they will consider you as knowledgeable and will decide to practice Buddhism with you.’ I often say that to practice Buddhism, one should be thirty percent daft; don’t be too smart. Smart people are too arrogant that they feel they are right, which prevents them from attaining achievement. The more one studies the harder it is to attain achievement. In ancient times, many honorable believers were illiterate. There were so many cases that once their cultivation had reached a certain level, they achieved enlightenment very soon. After hearing the Buddhist terms, some people neither take action nor act on what is required. Actually, they don’t understand at all. Now, to satisfy your desire, I’ll have to enlighten it.

What is explained in the sutra of the Seven Branches of Enlightenment is very similar to the content of Drikung Kagyu Order’s Mahamudra cultivation for the One-Pointedness Yoga. Although there are differences between the Mahamudra and the Zen Buddhism cultivation passed down by the Bodhidharma, the results – to attain Buddhahood, are the same. The teachings of Zen Buddhism aim directly at one’s heart. However, Mahamudra bypasses the focus on one’s own heart and cultivates the results directly. Of those complicated theories and words, you are taught are replaced by simple and concise methods. If one can receive the pith instruction of Mahamudra, the time needed for practicing meditation and realizing emptiness will be shorter.

Human beings all possess the pure nature of Buddhahood, but this pure nature is covered up by the virtuous and evil karmas of our accumulated lives, and the dirt resulting from our greed, hatred, and ignorance. For Exoteric Buddhism, it will require many methods and assisting conditions to extinguish this dirt, so that pure nature can be recovered. The concept of Tantra is that human beings were born with pure nature, it does not require many theories and thoughts to transform greed, hatred, and ignorance into the Five Wisdoms, therefore, there are the Five Buddhas (Five Wisdom ). People who have good root capacity can practice the generation and completion stages, they can even utilize the great greed, great hatred, and great ignorance for cultivation as written in the Avatamsaka Sutra. However, this is not talking about you; at present, you still cannot cultivate this way.

Do not think that one can practice by oneself after receiving the Guru Yoga. From my observation, currently among these more than fifty Dharma receivers, three to six of them are still to be eliminated, because their hearts are not with the guru. Having one’s heart with the guru does not mean to attach to the guru all day, but rather, whatever the guru does, has one truly experienced it whole-heartedly? Do you still think that it would be good enough to chant enough times every day? If that is the case, it would be sufficient to play the audio recording every day, why chant it yourself? The question is, by playing the tape recorder, can you attain Buddhahood?

Of the Seven Branches of Enlightenment:

The Bodhyanga of selection, forwarding, and joy are of wisdom by nature. And the Bodhyanga of removal, relinquishing, and meditation are of meditation by nature. The Bodhyanga of mindfulness is of both meditation and of wisdom. Thus, The Great Calming and Contemplation states ‘by cultivating these seven Bodhyangas, one enters the path.’

If the heart reaches the state of styana, one must employ the three Bodyangas of selection, diligence, and joy to end the state of styana. If the heart becomes adrift, one must employ the Bodhyanga of removal to remove the faults of body and speech. Employ the Bodhyanga of relinquishing to relinquish visualization of wisdom. Further, employing the Bodhyanga of meditation to enter the right state of meditation to gather the scattered heart and end the state of being adrift, such is the Bodhyanga of mindfulness.

‘The state of styana’ is explained here. Styana means that one feels very peaceful and comfortable, sleepy, or a sense of lacking clarity when practicing meditation, as long as you enjoy this type of calm and comfort within meditation, your heart reaches styana. The pre-existing power of the heart disappears when your heart reaches the state of styana. The heart is always unmoving. As the Heart Sutra states ‘there are no changes, nothing is born and nothing dies.’ Human beings have eyes, ears, nose, tongue, body, and mind. Before the realization of emptiness and enlightenment, they all cultivate with their consciousness, cultivate with the heart of distinguishing one’s likes and dislikes. If the heart of distinguishing is strong within you, you will lose your sense of concentration when you get what you like or need in the process of cultivation. The pre-existing power of the heart will be lost if your consciousness relaxes, thus bringing your heart to the state of styana.

One’s heart is unmoving. It is we who use consciousness to affect the heart. Practitioners use the unmoving heart to affect consciousness so that the latter remains unmoved. Now you all use your consciousness to cultivate because you still cannot relinquish your consciousness. Eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and body exist, the slightest external change, such as every vibration in the air affects our eyes, ears, nose, tongue, and mind, causing the change in our consciousness. Once the consciousness moves, one will feel the discriminating heart of having not practiced at all.

As a result, the heart would easily fall to the state of styana. If you haven’t finished chanting your mantras today, you may think that you can wait until tomorrow or several days later to complete the rest, or find excuses to slack off on doing grand prostrations, and think that ‘I’m very tired today and will continue tomorrow’ (many disciples raised their hands to express that they had such experiences before). This is the state of styana, it means one does not have strong determination to escape from the reincarnation’s sea of suffering of birth and death. Let us not talk about having a strong sense of extra-mundane renunciation, should one be lacking in this sense of strong renunciation, all Dharmas have nothing to do with you. You think that you don’t have to prostrate today since there is always tomorrow, but you forget that there will be one day less if you don’t perform the prostrations today.

If one hopes for better health by performing more prostrations, then one does not have a definite repentant heart. To repent means to allow yourself the opportunity to admit to your mistakes, and accept your karmic retribution. Even if you think that after making repentance ‘my karmic creditors will forgive me so that I will have time to better cultivate.’ These notions are all wrong. Do you think that cancer will be cured after making prostrations?

When I first became a guru, I was not a Rinpoche yet. Someone asked me, ‘Master, how did you practice Buddhism?’ I said to hold the notion that one will die eventually. After hearing my answer, that person has never shown up again. Everyone will die. You all are afraid of having no money, afraid of being poor, and afraid of everything. Yet you all are not afraid of falling into the Three Evil Realms after death. I often teach you to think that I’m already dead before you fall asleep in bed. When you wake up, you think that ‘I am alive again.’ You have to think in this way every day. You all feel scared after hearing this, and are afraid that you will die after falling asleep; wondering if there is something I still haven’t said to my spouse, haven’t told my son and daughter my arrangements, and haven’t lit the incense before the Buddha’s statue. How can you be liberated from birth and death when you think like this? According to Tantric Buddhism, we are having fragmentary birth and death now. Try to think about this, doesn’t living another day mean your life is one day less? Isn’t this the same as fragmentary birth and death?

Suppose that your purpose for practicing Buddhism is to allow yourself to live a few more years. This would be possible if you could be like me to help sentient beings by having the Grand Puja for sixteen consecutive years to transfer the consciousness of sentient beings. You might as well become the fertilizer of the earth sooner; otherwise, living a few more years would only waste more resources and foods on the earth.

Some may have heard me say that I will not live to see my grandson get married in the future. Only I dare to speak such unlucky words. No one is like me to say what people don’t like to hear on such an occasion, but I did. This is also true that I can’t be likely to see my grandson get married and have children, and also my great-grandchildren get married and then have children. I know that my late mother’s only wish was to see the birth of my grandchildren. Since I was not able to keep my mother alive until this year to see the birth of my grandson, how can it be possible for me to prolong your life so that you can see your children get married and have grandchildren, your grandchildren get married again and have your great-grandchildren? I can’t make it happen myself. Yet all of you don’t worry at all that you will fall into the Three Evil Realms. You all will only come and implore me for curing your illnesses and not to die.

According to Tantric Buddhism, one will say, ‘If death is good for me, let me die.’ If death can pay off my karma, so be it. ‘If sickness is good for me, let me be sick.’ If sickness can keep me from falling into the Three Evil Realms, then I do not want to be reincarnated ever again and let me get sick and use my body to repay my debt. ‘If being healthy is good for me, let me be healthy.’ If my being healthy can benefit many people, let me be healthy. There were many times that my life was not taken away. None of you dare to say that. Only by doing so will your imploration be fulfilled. Do you dare to say so? You can’t do that without the heart of extra-mundane renunciation.

Some people who were more than seventy years old told me that they wished to die earlier, but this was impossible if their karma was still not repaid. One cannot likely die earlier unless one makes great offerings, and has the heart of great repentance. Some people’s parents were sick, and they implored me to make their parents better. After they recovered and were discharged from the hospital, they got sick again. Once again, those people came to implore for the same thing. When I saw people let their elders in and out of the hospital in such a way, I felt very sad. Those sons and daughters were foolish. Seeing their parents suffer from sickness, why didn’t they repent, make great offerings, and implore the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas? You only hope that your parents will not die, but who will be immortal in the world? Even my aged mother had to go, how can I guarantee that your mother will not die?

Everything that happened to you was the result of your karma and conditions. Why do you need to take care of your sick companion? That is because you owed him/her in the past lives; therefore the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows states that ‘to attend to the sick with a caring heart is a great merit.’ If anyone is related to you, it is definite that you owed that person. You must repay him/her in this life. As long as you give rise to an annoying mind, you definitely will return in the next life. You should not think that ‘I can rely on Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, so it is easier for me to take care of him/her. If I die, what about him?’ These are your causal conditions, too. When the causal conditions between the two of you have ended, we shall see who will die first. If you die first, it is his fate to be left poor and lonely. If you even don’t believe in this, then what’s the purpose of practicing Buddhism? How everything operates in a person’s life is from his causes and his karmic retribution. His Holiness also spoke very clearly that ‘Dharma speaks of causal conditions. Today I help sow this cause for you, and it is your choice to decide whether to continue your affinity or not.’ So His Holiness ordered that my grandson should practice Buddhism with me. This is affinity.

The guru helps sow many virtuous causes and virtuous conditions, have you continued them yet? No, you disappear in the middle of the cultivation path. The guru has been continuously planting virtuous roots. For the roots to sprout, it takes one to keep on cultivating diligently.

Being in the state of styana means one has no strong sense of extra-mundane renunciation. Those who have a strong sense of renunciation can definitely keep things going. When I conducted the grand prostrations, it was in summer and very hot. At noon, I had no food to eat, but I continued; at night, there was no food to eat, I still continued and did not prostrate one time lesser. The state of styana is not in sit-in meditation only but can be in a situation in which one has a stomachache during mantra chanting and thinks about completing the rest of the chanting on the following day. Like what I have told you before, in a retreat two days before ‘The Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness’, I had diarrhea for two days and was unable to eat anything except a little soup. Yet I had completed the chanting of the Amitabha mantra 100,000 times still, not one time lesser. The next day I still ascended the Dharma throne and practiced the Dharma. I knew that I had to do so. The condition of my body would not affect what I was doing unless I died. If you were I, you would have collapsed there and implored Amitabha Buddha for your being better and having the strength to chant. However, I still sat upright with my legs crossed. Monastic disciples know that it takes physical strength to complete the mantra chanting 100,000 times. Although I had diarrhea and was not able to eat any food, I still completed the chanting.

When the heart is in the state of styana, you can choose the methods that you are accustomed to or you like. For example, getting up to have a stroll and then continue chanting mantras, but don’t get up and quarrel with others so that you are energized enough to continue chanting. You must use the methods that the guru has taught.

Secondly, you must cultivate diligently. When your heart is in the state of styana or that you don’t feel like doing anything, you must force yourself, even more, to do so. Congratulations to you if you die from making prostrations to the Buddha. Amitabha will come and guide you the moment when you catch your last breath. Many people are afraid of pain and death. It was stated in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows that in one of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s lives, she made prostrations until she passed out and bled, yet she continued doing so. What about you?

For a period, I was too poor to pay the rent and electricity bills. After eating lunch, I would have no money to eat dinner, but I made grand prostrations every day. How did I have the money to buy knee protections, or have a mat to quickly slide on when doing prostrations. I only had a worn rug on which I did the grand prostrations. The rug was blue originally but turned into white later because of sweat. Why is it still useless for you after making prostrations 100,000 times? It is because you are being too comfortable doing that. Conducting grand prostrations is to let our body have some sufferings, not as you worry about hitting the chest, hitting the stomach. Don’t do the prostrations if you worry about having chest pain, abdominal pain, concussion, bad knees, then don’t do so. You all cherish your body too much. Of course, it does not mean to damage the body intentionally, but just don’t overprotect it.

Diligence means that the moment you do not want to act accordingly, you should insist on doing it even more. You should take me as an example. Learning Buddhism requires hardship, to do so comfortably is not possible. I am not like some people who return home after the puja and write notes for an hour. They thought that they had already understood, but actually, they did not at all. That was because they had not started to do so at all. The great practitioners of the past generations did not begin to write down the processes of cultivation until they had attained enlightenment and fruition, yet they would not deviate from the teachings of the Buddha and the guru. All have a basis.

‘Joy’ does not mean that you feel happy or joyful if you continue. Instead, you should understand that all Dharmas can benefit yourselves and benefit sentient beings. This is joy. Such joy will diminish if you don’t want to act accordingly. Don’t think that you can make it up tomorrow. It is one day lesser if you don’t act accordingly today. Time passes by day after day and will not stop.

‘When one’s heart reaches the state of styana, be mindful and employ the three Bodyangas of selection, diligence, and joy to observe all Dharmas so as not to stay in the state of styana.’

‘To observe all Dharmas’ means that you should see clearly why you cannot continue and want to stop doing so when reciting a Buddha’s name, practicing meditation, and worshiping toward the Buddhas? You should see your thoughts clearly and do not find unreasonable excuses. None of them is the reason. You become lazy just because your heart is in the state of styana. Do not blame others for disturbing you from making prostrations. Just like when I did the grand prostrations, it was summertime. I sweated but had no money to pay the electricity bill, yet I continued to prostrate. I might also think that my body would lack water from sweating too much and become very dry, so I could stop prostrations. However, you have been finding excuses for yourself.

‘When the heart moves unsteadily, be mindful and employ the Bodhyanga of removal to remove the faults of body and speech.’

To remove the faults of body and speech.’ What makes one’s heart move unsteadily? Certainly, it is because there are lots of thoughts in one’s mind. Having lots of thoughts is related to body and mouth, for example, the sound of reciting a Buddha’s name, sometimes it is loud and sometimes small. Why are prayer beads used for recitation of a Buddha’s name? They are to allow us to chant the words one by one clearly, no beating about the bush. Doing so, there will be fewer chances of the heart moving unsteadily. Dragging the sound will make the heart move unsteadily. When breathing control goes wrong, other thoughts will arise from dragging the sound. You cannot chant mantras the way I do now. Clear chanting does not mean to pronounce each word precisely, but to chant each word clearly so that there will be fewer chances of the heart moving unsteadily. During the retreat, speaking of any words will have bad consequences. Even talking to oneself is forbidden. People don’t say good things. For some people who have been scolded, they turn their heads to speak to themselves. Once they develop such habits, they cannot keep the precept of not speaking during the retreat.

‘Employ the Bodhyanga of removal to visualize wisdom through relinquishing.’

Before the realization of emptiness, one will use consciousness to contemplate emptiness. When such a method is used to contemplate wisdom, consciousness will have an effect easily. You will use a lot of texts, thoughts, and ideas that you think correct, and still think that such wisdom is correct. Your heart will move unsteadily very easily when you use this method to contemplate wisdom. Hence, you should relinquish the contemplation of wisdom. In Tantric Buddhism, the completion stage is the contemplation of emptiness. Meaning that when you complete Dharma practice, nothing ceases to exist, then causes and conditions extinguish. If you still attach to the thought that you are practicing the Dharma, you are still a yidam and your wisdom is like that of a yidam, the sutra says that your heart is moving unsteadily.

‘Employ the Bodhyanga of Meditation to enter samadhi, gather your scattered heart so as to stop it from being adrift; this is the Bodhyanga of mindfulness.’

‘Samadhi’ does not mean one should be motionless and think of nothing. It is not to wish for having meditation either, but to forget that our heart does not have thoughts. Our heart is like a mirror. When an object appears in front of the mirror, the mirror will reflect the shadow of this object; when removing this object, there will be nothing in the mirror. The mirror is still the mirror. For the Great Perfect Mirror Wisdom of the Five Wisdoms, it means that everything you feel now, including your feelings of being in the state of meditation, is like that you put an object before the mirror. When you attach to the existence of this object and attach that this shadow exists in your meditation, this is not True Meditation, and it is easy to fall into the Heaven of Neither-Thought-Nor-Non-Thought, which is the highest state of Zen meditation. The secondary state will be The Fourdhyana Heavens. Practicing meditation has the first, the second, the third, and the fourth mediation. All the beings born there still have to reincarnate.

Samadhi is not for one to feel oneself within the state of meditation. The purpose of meditation is to keep our hearts from moving unsteadily and to concentrate on the disordered heart so that one’s disordered heart will remain still, not thinking too much. Hence, Mahamudra teaches us how to respond to and control ourselves when we are in the state of styana, and our heart is moving unsteadily. Shakyamuni Buddha did not have sufficient time to enlighten these. When the Buddha first turned the Dharma Wheel, he enlightened the Four Noble Truths and the Twelve Limbs of Dependent Origination to the arhats and the six attendants who followed him to cultivate from the beginning and give them the teachings of visualization one by one. The Buddha did not teach the disciples to attain enlightenment directly. During the later stage when he gave the teaching to the Bodhisattva Path, the wisdom that was spoken of is Emptiness. The realization of Emptiness can neither be achieved by literal interpretation nor by sit-in meditation. It requires perfect completion of both the Path of Accumulation and the Path of Preparation so that you can realize the path – the path of true enlightenment. You are now still in the Path of Accumulation, but cannot be in the Path of Preparation. You should complete the Path of Accumulation, any less won’t work. Do not think that by coming to attend puja every week, making a few minor offerings is practicing the Path of Preparation. This is simply to come and listen to a lecture.”

Rinpoche continued to give teachings of The Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra.

“Sutra: ‘Sariputra, one must not be lacking in virtuous roots, good fortune, merits and causal conditions to be reborn in the Pure Land.’

Being at that land of Amitabha means one may gather with the most benevolent people in one place, but this will be impossible if one does not cultivate the Ten Meritorious Acts in the world. ‘Must not be lacking’ means to keep doing accordingly and cannot stop, therefore, this line in The Buddha Speaks of Amitabha Sutra is very important.

Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and gurus help sow the virtuous seeds for you. For the virtuous seeds to sprout, it still requires many criteria. The seeds need watering in the soil, and the rain of Dharma is the water. It also needs fertile soil of compassion. Once the seeds sprout and then gradually grow up, the roots will spread out and stay solid. With solid roots, buds cannot be easily blown away by the wind, so the flowers may bear fruits; Without solid roots, there will be nothing left when the wind blows. What kind of wind? It is the Eight Winds that you speak of. You must listen and act accordingly, to make the roots solid and even to sprout, bloom and bear fruits. Virtuous roots originate from the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha. This is why being mindful of the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha are spoken of here. Be mindful constantly so that virtuous seeds have the opportunity to sprout and grow.

Since you have already taken refuge, you should live a life in accordance with the Five Precepts and Ten Meritorious Acts. Some ask, if so, does it mean that we cannot marry and have children, or change our jobs? No, I don’t mind whether you have children or not. That is your karma. Nor have I ever cared whether you would marry or not. I merely remind you to find a Buddhist as your spouse, otherwise, it all comes to naught. In other religions, it is regulated that their believers may only marry those of the same belief. When some of my disciples got married, however, their families did not agree to have a vegetarian banquet, therefore, only the bride’s and groom’s table was served vegetarian dishes, while all the other tables were not. Would there be any consequence in doing so? Yes, because these people gathered here for the celebration of your birthday, or your wedding. If the killing of sentient beings was not done on my behalf, then this was none of my business. For example, I attended a banquet and ate vegetarian dishes while people at other tables did not.

The Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows states clearly that when a woman becomes pregnant, Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha assigns good ghosts and deities to protect the pregnant mother. However, the pregnant mother, not knowing that she is being protected, kills sentient beings and eats meat at will. Especially during the month of postpartum confinement, evil roots were planted for both the mother and the child. From the moment of reincarnation into the mother’s womb, evil roots were planted for the child; do you still think it would be okay by attending pujas? Do you think that turning evil roots into virtuous roots is that simple? Do you think that chanting mantras 1,000 or 3,000 times a day would work? Or making grand prostrations 100,000 times would solve your problems? Other people need to do 100,000 grand prostrations whereas you need to do a million. Why don’t things change for you after you’ve completed 100,000 grand prostrations? It is written in the Dharma text that 100,000 grand prostrations should be performed. 100,000 times is good enough for me, but what about you? In my entire life, I’ve never cut a piece of meat in the kitchen or cooked anything because my karma from killing had been repaid in my previous lives. However, in this life, I have still cut pork chops with a knife, picked out living fish, shrimps, and other seafood to be cooked on my behalf. They died because of me so I deserved to get skin cancer in this life. To those of you whose families made a living out of killing sentient beings, why do you think that you wouldn’t get cancer simply by making 100,000 grand prostrations?

I wreck my life for the sake of cultivation because I am afraid of falling into hell. The Venerable Milarepa implored his guru the Venerable Marpa for one thing only, which was to transmit him a Dharma which could help him attain Buddhahood and stop reincarnating because he knew that he had killed many people and would be going to hell. You all came to implore for your personal matters, such as not to be sick, not to die so soon, or be able to attain enlightenment, but none of you said straightforwardly for stopping reincarnation.

Earlier before the puja, the treasurer director of our Center reported the financial status. Maintaining a Buddhist center is a costly matter, but I have never concocted any pretexts to collect fees. Fortunately, more than 1,000 disciples are sharing the costs. However, I never name a price to pay for attending a puja. Usually, you give the Center perhaps a few hundred NT dollars each month, however, you ought to know that things are not as easy in other centers. To take refuge under me is your great fortune because I do not set a price to attend any puja, nor does the Center pay me salaries. Currently, there are more than one hundred disciples whom I refuse to accept their offerings. If your attitude is incorrect, I will not accept your offerings.

That one must not be lacking in virtuous roots, good fortune, merits, and causal conditions means that one must act upon these matters ceaselessly and continuously. The guru continues to help you plant virtuous roots, and all you have to do is listen and act upon them. If you feel any nuisance, virtuous roots will become evil roots. Never ask when you can fulfill it completely or perfectly. Do it like breathing, as you must not stop. Never say such things as I have already done plenty or I have done enough in these matters. Virtuous roots, good fortune, and merits are three of the most important matters of the Pure Land Dharma method.

One must follow everything according to the sutras to cultivate. All that the guru can do is continue to create causal conditions for you, but you must be the one to act. If you don’t follow the Buddha and the guru’s teachings but employ your methods instead, you have no virtuous roots. Without virtuous roots, you cannot go to the Pure Land.

To stabilize and solidify your virtuous roots, you must not be lacking in good fortune, merits, and causal conditions. With compassion as earth and Dharma as the dharmic water, all of them are given to you by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and will disappear with a single evil thought. When you don’t listen, a sudden wind will blow the earth away. Since we think of ourselves as learning Buddhism, we should be more cautious in the way we think and live our lives, and understand that a single thought can destroy one’s virtuous roots and give rise to evil roots. To uproot one’s evil roots is no simple task.

Fortunately, I have the accumulated virtuous roots from previous lives to be able to meet His Holiness, who has taught me Buddhism, otherwise, I will be doomed in this life too. His Holiness taught me, but I still must practice myself. If His Holiness transmitted the Dharmas to me and yet I did not practice, it would still be useless. To obtain this human life is not easy at all, it takes hundreds of years. Although there are nearly seven billion human beings on earth, how many of them have the chance to listen to the Dharma? Further, it requires a guru to ceaselessly help you plant virtuous roots and supervise you, so do not give up easily. If you give up, in the next life you will be pitiful!

‘Good fortune’ is making offerings and giving alms. To be ‘not lacking in’ (good fortune) does not mean you should go into bankruptcy, sell your house or business to make offerings and give alms. This is not the idea. I will look at your ability, mentality, and situation to create opportunities for you to make offerings and give alms. The Chod Puja, for instance, is the Dharma that helps you do the giving of wealth, of the Dharma, and of fearlessness all at the same time, as opposed to resolving your current issues.

How many virtuous roots have I planted on your behalf? Why is it that among the Tantric Buddhist centers only the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center has consecutively held sixteen annual ‘Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Pujas of Consciousness Transference’ with 20,000 attendees to each puja? This is all to help you plant virtuous roots. I could just cultivate it on my own. Why do I need you? If you don’t take part, you won’t be planting any virtuous roots. Why do you think I paid for all the costs of the Grand Puja this year? That was because you all took your time and waited for the last second to donate. Some disciples, in their hearts, even did not want the puja to be held at all, because of the pandemic, they were worried that they needed to pay the money with their lesser income. So, I just let you not spend the money; instead, I paid the money. I provided the money, labor, and my life, so this year I got more virtuous roots than all of you. The Parnashavari Puja held this year was to let you form affinities with sentient beings through chanting the mantras for twenty-four hours consecutively; however, some disciples did not attend and only cared about themselves.

Without sufficient virtuous roots, good fortune, merits, and causal conditions, you have to wait to be transferred consciousness, not to mention the performance of Phowa for you. Even though I promise to help you perform the Dharma, you may not have the causal conditions to receive it. This results from the fact that you do not plant sufficient virtuous roots, good fortune and causal conditions for you, and still have all kinds of thoughts. You think that it will be enough by making a few offerings to me on each week’s puja and paying some money to the Center.

If one practices the Pure Land School but does not pay attention to this line, then one can not go (to the Pure Land). Do not think that one can go to the Pure Land by continuously reciting the sacred name of Amitabha Buddha. If you recite Amitabha’s name without the heart of virtues, of giving alms, and making offerings, you still can not go there. The ordained have their precepts, and the lay practitioners have theirs, too. With the precepts, one can obtain meditation. With mediation, one can possess wisdom and merits. If Buddha thought that making offerings and giving alms were merits, he would not separate them into three categories: ‘virtuous roots, good fortune, and merits.’ One who processes deep virtuous roots will naturally make offerings and give alms.

At the end of last year, His Holiness publicly honored me for donating such a great amount of money. It is because I have virtuous roots from past lives, naturally, I will make offerings and give alms. Whatever the guru wants to do, I will do so within my capability, and will not wait until the guru comes to ask me or until the last minute. As you all are used to waiting until the last minute, therefore, in the future when I practice the Chod Puja, you will be the last in the waiting line. Maybe you will be waiting in the line that is below the seventeenth floor. You will not come up to receive consciousness transference until the group before you have finished. It is because you are used to waiting and never rush to the front. Just like the sentient beings who receive consciousness transference during the Grand Puja, some run ahead, why? Those who had respected the Three Jewels and had causal conditions with me would be in the first row. Similarly, to be able to sit next to His Holiness requires sufficient virtuous roots, good fortune, merits, and causal conditions. It is stated very clearly in the Ratnakuta Sutra that when you ask to see the guru, it is your karma, virtuous roots, good fortune, and merits that decide where your guru arranges you to sit. Why do we have Chod Puja and Grand Puja? It is to plant virtuous causal conditions for you and sentient beings.

I have been ceaselessly accumulating good fortune, merits, and causal conditions, making great aspirations and great compassion, and keep doing. Without charging a penny has been the gist of the Grand Puja for the last sixteen years. Who else will do such a thing? When those who you have invited to attend the Grand Puja know that there is no charge for the Puja and say ‘a nice word about the Glorious Jewel or how compassionate Rinpoche is,’ your virtuous roots are planted and virtuous conditions formed. This is because you have helped a person to praise the Three Jewels. You can’t imagine that, can you? The guru has been ceaselessly planting virtuous roots and forming good affinities for the disciples.

You all are afraid of death and being poor. If you often think of yourself as poor, it will become real eventually. Since you more or less have some meditation power from chanting mantras, it may become real if you keep thinking about one thing. Since I began to practice Buddhism, I remember one sentence that Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara has said: ‘if you practice Buddhism in accordance with the Dharma, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will not make you have no food to eat, no clothes to wear, or no house to live in.’ If you form good affinities with sentient beings, the funeral house will treat your body with more respect even when you are dead.

When my father died, I went to identify his body. On the ground of the morgue were bodies to be identified. Their clothes were all removed, and the bodies were on the ground one by one. The staff cleaned them up by flushing them with water. At that time I felt very sad and realized that people had no dignity after death. Some people would arrange spa services done for the deceased because they had good fortune or money. For those who had good fortune, the staff in charge of cleaning the body would be nicer to them, too.

I am a lay guru with many methods to help sentient beings. It is stated very clearly in the Amitabha Sutra, ‘One must not be lacking in good fortune, merits and causal conditions.’ It means that even if I want to transfer consciousness for sentient beings, there are still many steps to go through. First, I will visualize the deceased as the yidam, and then help eliminate the deceased’s evil karma of the accumulated lives. It is not just simply to recite Amitabha’s sacred name. To liberate the consciousness of the deceased, it needs to wait until the karma of the deceased is eliminated and the merits arise and then implore for blessings and help from Order Gurus, Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas. Phowa is the Dharma passed down from Amitabha Buddha. It can’t be wrong. To those who have ever conducted recitation assistance, the more you hear about this, the more frightened you are. Aren’t you? How can you help the deceased to be reborn in the Pure Land if you lack virtuous roots, merits, and causal conditions yourself? You, monastic disciples, can seek my help if you are not able to help the deceased.

A monastic disciple, who has been ordained for more than thirty years, used to be the second in command of the temple. Before he took refuge in me, he asked me if he should go to America. I told him not to. He could have not listened then, but he had and did not go. Although he did not go there and received much lesser offerings, he did not have to listen to much gossip either.

I will not ask you to do things that should not be done casually. Everything I have taught you is about planting more virtuous roots, good fortune, merits, and causal conditions. As you are incapable of attaining achievement in this life, you are given the opportunity to act accordingly. Since you have already taken refuge, you must follow Buddha’s teachings to liberate yourself from birth and death. If you could be reborn in the Pure Land just by reciting the sacred name of Amitabha, the Buddha would not have spoken of so many things for us to act accordingly. It is also said in the Amitabha Sutra ‘To speak of such difficult-to-believe Dharma in this evil time of the Five Turbidities’ Yet, you don’t listen and still use your ways to practice Buddhism and to understand life. Go home and think about exactly what you are doing.

I chose the Amitabha Sutra to give teachings but not the Dharma texts because you could not understand the meanings of the Dharma texts. Just like what a monastic disciple said about my teaching of meditation last week, he listened but did not understand what it was. It was impossible to understand it without attaining a certain state. Only when you listen, accept, and act can you cultivate virtuous roots, merits, and causal conditions. Do not stop or fear to do so. Back then I had no money, but when His Holiness asked me to support the gilded roof of Drikung Thil Monastery, I immediately sold a set of antique furniture for that. I would not be like you who changed thoughts all the time. When the guru granted me opportunities to do good deeds, I would certainly do so. I would not tell His Holiness about what I had done because the guru is compassionate; he would be sorry and worried upon hearing this and said, ‘You don’t need to do this. I will find someone else.’

I am not asking you to sell your property as I did. Some disciples wanted to make offerings with their houses but I refused. How would I care about your trifling amount of monetary offerings? The disciple Lo wanted to make offerings to me by mortgaging his house, but I refused. It was not about if his attitude was correct or not. However, his wife would blame this on me if she felt their life became worse later.

Many years ago, disciple Tien wanted to make offerings with her house. As her children were still very young then, I did not accept it. Now the price of her house has gone up. I wanted her to keep it for her children because her husband has nothing to leave for them. Another disciple Wu wanted to make offerings with her house after her husband died, but I rejected it. All she had was that apartment, so she should keep it. It was enough that she had such an attitude. Why would I care about your trifling offerings since I had rejected the large-amount ones? What matters most is the attitude of making offerings, not the value. If you have the correct attitude, it is enough and I accept it. I was very touched when the disciples had such an attitude. I accepted the intention but not the object. For those who wanted to make offerings with their houses, the total amount added up to at least NT 50 million, but I still rejected them. If I wanted money, how would I reject the large-amount ones but accept the smaller ones? Even now, there are still more than one hundred disciples who are not allowed to make offerings. Without the correct attitude, I don’t want any offerings from them.

Do not make offerings with the things you don’t want and make trouble for your guru, either. Some disciples make offerings with the Pu’er tea because they have bought too much of it. Since Dharma Protector Achi could not drink so much, the disciples made offerings with it. As I have a lot of Pu’er tea, do not make offerings to me with it anymore. Maybe some disciples would say that it was their most treasurable thing. If so, it is better to offer more Pu’er tea to the Dharma Protector Achi, even just a cup more.

You should know how to make offerings. Like today, I made an offering to His Holiness with two things, which His Holiness mentioned during the chat. His Holiness did not ask me for them, but I prepared them because I thought His Holiness would need them. Nonetheless, I still asked His Holiness first before making the offerings.

Yesterday I led some disciples to attend a puja. Everybody knew the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center and knew that I supervised my disciples very strictly; therefore, you all felt honored. Although some people still disagree with me, this is unavoidable. Even Shakyamuni Buddha was criticized by others, not to mention me. Yet, people gradually know the good of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center. Our monastic disciples simply go out to attend the puja. His Holiness does not care about my offerings. He teaches me the Dharma and watches me cultivate, how I treat my disciples, the sentient beings, and the Order. Hence, His Holiness is impartial.

What I’m expounding today of ‘One must not be lacking virtuous roots, good fortune, merits and causal conditions’ is the most fundamental Dharma method of cultivating Pure Land School. Only when this is accomplished will there be the methods of making aspirations and reciting the sacred name of Amitabha Buddha. As I, the guru, know that you cannot be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land immediately when you die, I will ceaselessly create many opportunities for you to plant virtuous roots and accumulate good fortune, merits, and causal conditions when you are still alive. This is the benevolent people’s way of life in the Pure Land. There is no being enough or not. You just keep doing it. It is as natural as breathing and eating. Do you need to breathe every day? Yes, you do! Can you tell yourself to stop breathing for you have breathed enough, or stop eating for you have eaten enough? Unless you’re going to lose weight, you need to eat at least two meals a day. The reason why you feel difficult is that you are reluctant to do so.

Now, It is of great fortune for you to take refuge in me since I am the one who has been relinquishing money. The Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center is the Center where you spend the least amount of money. You will know if you ask these monastic disciples. (The monastic disciples nodded and said yes). You will be charged even just for lighting up lamps in other places, yet there is no price for you to pay for attending the puja here. For example, on my birthday and the commemoration of the Center, I did not use them as pretexts to organize events or collect money. In fact, I could have done so but I wouldn’t. In all these years, many disciples have no money to pay for funeral expenses, no money to eat, or no money to pay for children’s tuition. However, I have been continuously helping them. Have I ever calculated these with you? (All disciples shake their heads to express no.) The Center has been operating for the past dozen years. We should be grateful for the blessings from the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, and His Holiness for continuously bestowing us the opportunities to accumulate virtuous roots, good fortune, merits, and causal conditions. However, without your support, the Center cannot last until today, either.

We should act and change our mind in accordance with what is written in the Amitabha Sutra, and never act with your own thoughts. In this way, to be reborn in the Pure Land is for sure. Never think that how Shakyamuni Buddha would know our current matters 2,000 years ago? Buddha knows everything. He also knows if I speak correctly or not. I am the last person to be afraid of losing face. If you don’t know something, just say so; if you say something wrong, just admit it. However, you all are afraid of doing this. As a guru, I admit mistakes if I said something wrong. I cannot say that I was not wrong, or I forgot.

It is written in the Amitabha Sutra that there must not be lacking in good fortune, merits, and causal conditions to make offerings to all Buddhas of the Ten Directions. Why have I been emphasizing to be mindful of the Buddha, Dharma, and the Sangha? It is to plant virtuous roots. Now in our Center, there are more than 1,000 people gathering together. If one acts in accordance with the sutras, it is like what Amitabha Sutra says, ‘would then be gathering in the same place with these very good men.’ In the future, we will all be gathering in the Pure Land. So if you still ignore others, how can you be gathering in one place with them? It is not that you should gossip on the phone, but that you should ceaselessly follow within your capabilities when I tell you something.

Only the guru can ceaselessly lead you to practice; therefore, you must listen. When the guru bestows disciples the opportunities to plant virtuous roots and form good affinities, grasp the opportunities, listen and act upon accordingly. Do not have too many thoughts of your own. Don’t even worry that you don’t know what to do, what can or cannot be done, how well you can do it, or if you have done enough. Under my commands, just try your best. Why have so many disciples left in these years? It was because they had too many thoughts of their own. Your virtuous roots are all very shallow, thin, and weak. They shake whenever the wind blows. Hence, the guru’s job is to ceaselessly plant strong and firm virtuous roots for you.

On the path of my Buddhist practice, I take action in accordance with whatever the guru says. Back then I was practicing Exoteric Buddhism, I did whatever my master asked me to do. One time my master told me that he was going to make the statue of Bodhisattva Weituo. Although I had no money at that time, I made offerings as usual. One night I dreamed of Bodhisattva Weituo, and later I told my guru what Bodhisattva Weituo looks like in my dream. My master said yes, and that was what he looked like. Bodhisattva Weituo has a very deep causal condition with me. I have been helped and supported by him with many things.

Today, I only speak of this line, ‘One must not be lacking in virtuous roots, good fortune, merits, and causal conditions.’ This is very important. Once you understand the key points of practicing Buddhism, you should focus and act accordingly. I will lead all of you to ceaselessly plant virtuous roots, good fortune, merits, and causal conditions.”

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

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Updated on May 15, 2021