His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – January 31, 2021

At the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Taipei, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche lit lamps as an offering to the Buddha, ascended the Dharma throne, and presided over the auspicious Green Tara Puja. He then bestowed precious teachings upon the attendees.

“Today, I will perform the Green Tara. In Exoteric Buddhism, there is no such Dharma text. It is practiced in Tibetan Buddhism and in Tantra. According to the Dharma text, seeing sentient beings still suffering in reincarnation, the great compassion arose in the heart of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, and Avalokiteshvara dropped two tears, one was transformed into the Green Tara, and the other one, the White Tara. In our Center, both Green Tara and White Tara have been practiced.

Some monastics here misused a Buddhist term and called another female monastic ‘eldest sister’. Originally, after I had mentioned this matter last week, I meant to drop the subject; then I found that three of them in question were still arguing about it and were recalcitrant; they didn’t know that they had made a mistake. Seriously speaking, they were slandering the Buddha, and viewing the situation more seriously, they were damaging the harmony and unity of a Sangha. I do not take the Bhikkhu Precepts, so I am not qualified to teach you the Bhikkhu or Bhikkhuni Precepts. This is about precepts. They said in previous time (when they were not my disciples), other people always used such an appellation of ‘eldest sister’. They also explained to me that ‘Sangha of eldest sister’ referred to ‘monastic’. Yet, I have explained to you before that ‘Sangha’ does not mean ‘monastics’; it means ‘fourfold assembly of Buddhists’, Bhikkhus, Bhikkhunis, Upasakas (male laity), and Upasikas (female laity).

When I learned Exoteric Buddhism, the master I took refuge in taught me a few most important things. The first one was making offerings and giving charity; the second one was to repent; the third one was that I should read reverently the Avatamsaka Sutra three times. Lastly, he gave me this book as a gift, A Practical Buddhist Dictionary. I read the Avatamsaka Sutra three times. Among monastics present, have any one of you read the Avatamsaka Sutra once? (None raised their hand.) In this Sutra, we are taught that every day, once we open our eyes, we need to put every one of our thoughts on helping sentient beings. Have monastics present here done this? How many? If you have not, what kinds of qualifications do you have to claim that you are monastics?

I am holding a copy of A Practical Buddhist Dictionary, in seventh edition, in my hand; the dictionary was published on April 8, 1986 by Buddhist Press. It has been a long time since, longer than the time of being ordained for many monastics present, and longer than the time they have learned Buddhism; this old dictionary is even older than their age. Its contents are all based on sutras with sources indicated on the words or terms listed. It is unlike some modern Buddhist dictionaries having individuals’ opinions added; this is wrong and cannot be done as such. At the beginning of this dictionary, there is an introduction by Master Tai Xu, written in 1933. This is an old enough of a book, right? Those who learn Exoteric Buddhism more or less know about this Master Tai Xu. His writing of this introduction demonstrates that this dictionary has not been compiled casually; it has bases. I had not seen this introduction before; I just saw it.

Most likely, this Buddhist dictionary cannot be bought now because it will not be found anymore; even the publishing company might have been gone. Maybe there is a chance that one would see a copy in some old temples. All monastics present here have not seen such an old-edition copy. When I was learning Exoteric Buddhism, my master at that time might have known that someday I would become a guru, and I would need to teach my disciples by contents of sutras, therefore, he gave me this dictionary as a gift. Nowadays, people like to explain Buddhism by Buddhist terms.

In this dictionary, there is a mention of ‘eldest sisters’, and it refers to Upasikas (female laity) – those female laity who are prepared to get ordained. The term also refers to the women who help or work on temples’ chores, like cooking or chopping wood. They are not called servants or maids, but ‘eldest sisters’. It is also written in the dictionary that for female laity, before they are ordained, they are called ‘Sangha of eldest sisters’; for male laity, they are called ‘Sangha of great-virtue’. These are just appellations and they do not represent seniority in a family or seniority in general. It is like in this Center, you call each other ‘Dharma brother’.

For you, as monastics, your thoughts or ideas should be different from those of laypeople. If you still have thoughts of ordinary people, why did you bother for getting yourself ordained? Learning Buddhism is to cultivate precepts, meditation and wisdom. These three monastics want only meditation and wisdom; they don’t want precepts. Contrarily, I am very strict on demanding my disciples observing precepts. Shakyamuni Buddha established more than 200 precepts for the Bhikkhuni Precepts, more than those for the Bhikkhu Precepts by fifty. This is because the Buddha knew that female practitioners have many issues. Of these four monastics, two are unqualified to wear Dharma vestments of Tibetan Buddhism; they can only wear those of Exoteric Buddhism. The reason is that their cultivation is still at the stage of practicing Exoteric Buddhism; they don’t intend to practice the Bodhisattva Path. One other monastic, who heard the ‘eldest sister’ having been called, but not stopping it even though she felt it was wrong, cannot continue to practice the Guru Yoga. The fourth monastic (the last one of the four in question) cannot practice Tantra.

Although I didn’t start my learning of Buddhism by studies of sutras and sastras, I have not attained my achievements just through practices in this lifetime, or by relying on conducting retreats or by scolding people. My past lives’ virtuous roots and wisdom cultivated through accumulated lifetimes manifest my achievements in this lifetime. On this, you cannot compare yourself with me. Although I do not take those precepts of the ordained, I know what those monastics did was not right. Dharma Protector Achi let this matter exposed, which indicates that they are allowed to have a little bit of wisdom life so that they can continue to simply get by.

The monastics in Taiwan, at the earliest time, were brought from mainland China by the national government of Kuomintang. At that time, Elder Bai Sheng brought on the Dharma to Taiwan, therefore, the early groups of monastics were all Elder Bai Sheng’s devotees or followers. The monastics nowadays are different groups of the ordained, and they are not quite the same as old ones. This is because, in between the time, the lineage has been broken. In China, old temples’ main halls are very small and the rest of the area is for retreat huts; monks are required to conduct retreats, and they are not in a hurry to practice on sutras or penitential rites. In Japan, such main halls are also very small as temples’ designs there imitated those of Tang Dynasty of China. Where does the money come from for monastics? To be able to eat and sustain their daily life is good enough. Can they enjoy life? No one oversees this aspect of precepts. The Vinaya School is not much valued in China or Taiwan, but precepts are very important to me; without observing precepts one cannot master any Dharma methods.

On Dharma matters, I do not scold people without reasons. As the leader of this Center, I cannot say things casually; if I do, can I even chant mantras? This is why I have brought out this Buddhist dictionary today so as to let you know that my reprimand of these monastics in question has basis. Although I didn’t read the section related to this matter before, I knew, and know, that it is not right calling a monastic ‘eldest sister’. In this dictionary, there is also another term mentioned that I have never heard of; even the sources of sutras, listed for the contents, are very detailed, too. These monastics have only learned a little bit on Buddhism but they have already been blabbing about it. Do you know more about Buddhism or does the dictionary contain more of it? Don’t test me then with Buddhist terms.

These three monastics wrote that I should punish them by requiring them to do grand prostrations. On the surface, they are repentant but actually their taking on a punishment task is for themselves, because they are thinking to accumulate their merits and good fortune, but not accepting karmic retribution. They don’t know what mistakes they have made. One of them wrote that she should have listened to what her guru had said, and she also wrote that previously she only believed in sutras and the Buddha. Then, accordingly, when they took the tonsure to be ordained, why did they need a master, who confers the precepts, to preside over, with three monks’ help, the ceremony of Three Precept Platforms so that they could take precepts?

The Dharma text of the Green Tara, which I am going to perform today, was passed down by Padmasambhava. The Green Tara is an emanation of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Before we start doing our practices, we will face many hindrances; there will be many manifestations of our karma appearing earlier. Performing the Green Tara can fulfill a little bit of mundane thinking, say, about wishes. ‘Fulfilling wishes’ does not mean that we will be very happy once we implore successfully for help from the Green Tara to do things for us, and then we don’t need to practice other supramundane. As a matter of fact, the final conclusion of learning Buddhism is also about supramundane. If one, who is learning Buddhism, is not determined to be liberated from birth and death, and only imploring for help on trivial matters of the mundane world, the blessings one receives from the Dharma will be limited.

No matter which yidam we practice on, at the end of the Dharma method of that particular yidam, we are taught that we need to help ourselves and sentient beings to be liberated from birth and death, and attain Buddhahood. This is the great matter, the most important one, that the Buddha came to the earth for. The Buddha did not appear on this earth to propagate Buddhism. If you want to get liberated from birth and death, you should stop having many specious thoughts of this mundane world. After learning Buddhism, you are taught that it does not tell you to be unlike a human being or do some things unreasonable or uncustomary. Rather, in your mind, you should clearly understand that taking refuge as a Buddhist or learning Buddhism is not for you to get healthy, living a good life. All the help bestowed upon us by our guru, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is to help us forming a determination in our mind that we want to learn the Dharma so as to be liberated from reincarnation. This is easier said than done. It is difficult to do because people have a very strong self-awareness, and it is easy for them to be self-righteous; they don’t accept others’ criticism and scolding, feeling themselves most remarkable.

These three monastics felt that the ‘eldest sister’ issue was a small matter and it was fun; they were thinking to make affectionate connections with each other so that it would be easy to handle things among them in the future, therefore, such appellation was used. They didn’t even know they had made a mistake. You might wonder why they have received such serious punishments when there were only two words that were spoken wrong. Let alone monastics doing such a thing, it is also very serious if laity use a wrong title when calling someone. Can you call a general manager of a corporation ‘lacky’, saying, ‘Lacky, deliver this letter for me.’? If such a manager is magnanimous, he might not fuss about it, but if he is not, there will be issues. Can you call a government minister a section chief? What would be the consequences?

Do not think that Shakyamuni Buddha was unreasonable and impersonal. When He established this term, ‘eldest sister’, He must have his own reason. One cannot be called a monastic before having taken precepts and the tonsure. It is like an ordinary man or woman, who has not taken refuge and precepts, cannot be called a lay practitioner; only after precepts have been taken can one be called as such. An appellation does not show a difference in rank; it refers to the differences in directions and paths of men’s or women’s practices. We call such women ‘eldest sisters’, indicating that they are prepared to be ordained; for such men, they are called ‘great-virtue’ and are in readiness to get ordained. Unexpectedly, my ordained disciples think these titles are about rank or seniority in a family. After my explanations today, they have just found out their status has unaccountably changed from monastics to lay people or maids.

Today, the reason why such a matter has happened to these three monastics can be described by these two words: ‘haughtiness’ and ‘arrogance’. They think that they have good fortune, have mastered their practices and are able to have taken refuge in a great practitioner, staying around at his side. They have never thought that what I exactly wish for them to do is that they practice diligently. They live a more comfortable life than other monastics out there in Taiwan. There is no need for them to worry about anything; as long as they just concentrate on their practices, they will be all right. It has turned out that they actually compare or quarrel with each other often, unlike monastics at all.”

Next, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the Green Tara, preside over a refuge ceremony, recite prayers and conduct the ritual of Sevenfold Offering Prayer and all other rituals of making offerings.

“In this early part of the Dharma text, it is all about making offerings. In these rituals, there is one such sentence: ‘All the wealth that I earned on my own are to be made as offerings.’ This is what you absolutely will not do. Just by hearing these words your scalps tingle; you are unable to do what the quote says. Here is another one: ‘Increasing life span, good fortune and merits.’ Increasing your life span is because that it is feared that you don’t have enough of time learning Buddhism; it doesn’t mean to let you enjoy things of this mundane world. If you don’t have good fortune and merits, you will not listen to what your guru says – you won’t get them into your head.”

The rituals of Tsok and tea-offering were conducted next. Every attendee received a package of offering items, which had been blessed by Rinpoche. All participants also obtained an auspicious and rare causal condition to share food in the puja with the guru, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.

Then, Rinpoche continued to perform the Dharma. He compassionately bestowed the opportunity to his disciples imploring for what they wished for from the Green Tara. After this, Rinpoche led the attendees to recite the Dharma text and chant the Green Tara mantra for a long time. He then taught the dedication section in the Dharma text of the Green Tara.

“It is written in this Dharma text that as long as you implore sincerely with all your heart to the Green Tara for what you wish for, the Green Tara will definitely let you rid of sorrowful and fearful matters. Thus, for those of you, having already taken refuge to learn Buddhism, if you still have fear in your mind, it means that you are ineffectual. What does this ‘ineffectual’ mean? It means not believing. Why not? It is because you have not done what you have learned, therefore, you think they don’t exist. Practicing needs a sequence, and if such a sequential order is not followed in one’s practices, one naturally cannot obtain benefits from them. Being ineffectual is nothing to do with Buddhas, Bodhisattvas or gurus. The ancients mentioned that people learning Buddhism would need to be a little dimwitted. Smart people like you would not learn its principles, and it is the same as well for those who have gone through lots of studies.

It is also mentioned in the aspiration prayer in this Dharma text that as long as this Dharma method is practiced, when we die, the Buddha of Immeasurable Life will appear to lead us. In later part of the text, it says too that no matter where we live, all poverty, illnesses and wars will be subdued.

At many times, when we have done things wrong, we don’t even know it; that’s why it is necessary that we should have a guru to teach and guide us. If you are afraid of being scolded or do not want to be scolded, don’t learn Buddhism. You can leave this Center. These three monastics in question can leave here and go to other Buddhist centers to show off their impressiveness. In the Ratnakuta Sutra, we are taught that we practitioners do not commit the error of having a mind of haughtiness and arrogance. That monastic, who was called ‘eldest sister’, was even pleased with the appellation; she committed exactly the error of being arrogant. She thinks that she has taken refuge longer than other monastics, has been staying around at my side longer and is older. If things continue like this, soon there might be another monastic being called ‘eldest sister’. Then, a small group would be formed, and maybe, on various things, they would criticize or blame those not belonging to their group. In this way, this Center would be divided into many small groups. This is damaging the harmony and unity of a Sangha. I absolutely will not allow this to happen. All sentient beings are equal, and they are all ordinary people before attaining a fruition level. Such a behavior of theirs has already shown that they have not been observing precepts. Looking at it seriously, they were slandering the Buddha, and viewing it more seriously, they were damaging the harmony and unity of a Sangha. I am saving them from falling into the Five Uninterrupted Hells.

Although I didn’t read those terms in the dictionary before, I know that the Dharma theories mentioned in sutras are all the same in that their ultimate purpose is to get sentient beings liberated from birth and death, leaving reincarnation behind. I scolded these monastics so severely for their speaking just two wrong words because my vow is that I will not become a Buddha before sentient beings attain Buddhahood. Once I see you having actions or words, even slight ones, that have nothing to do with liberating from birth and death, I certainly will start correcting you. Why were there some disciples who couldn’t stand my methods and left this Center? It was because, at the beginning, they considered I am very remarkable, can cure illnesses and knows everything; they thought by following me they would get rich.

In such a chaotic world, you should let go of this kind of mind and focus on learning Buddhism. If you fail in the learning it does not mean that the Dharma does not exist; if you have doubts about it, you will be unable to learn anything. Do not doubt what your guru says. When Venerable Milarepa took refuge in Master Marpa, the first thing Master Marpa wanted Milarepa to do was build a house, but didn’t tell him how to build it. After Milarepa finished building it, Master Marpa looked at it and said that it should be demolished and rebuilt, and he did not say how to rebuild it. Thus, Milarepa tore down the house and rebuilt it. Once it was completed, again, Master Marpa wanted it to be rebuilt. This was repeated a few times and the reason was that Master Marpa wanted Milarepa’s karma to be eliminated. If you are required to do this sort of thing you would probably all run away from me – you would leave. Milarepa was very poor at that time, not even having a penny. Then Master Marpa’s wife gave him her own jewelry so that he could make offerings to Master Marpa.

When Master Marpa learned about it, he said he didn’t want them because they were not Milarepa’s own things. Master Marpa had done all those described above because he followed what were mentioned in the Ratnakuta Sutra.

The offerings we make have to be things belonging to us. They cannot come from borrowing, snatching, cheating or threatening. Someone once mortgaged his house for a loan to make an offering to me without telling me first. Afterwards, he knelt before me and then said, ‘We have been able to borrow money from the bank because of your blessings, and with this money we want to make an offering to you.’ The amount was two million NT dollars. I rejected it right then and there because the money he offered was borrowed. This is what a practitioner would do. As I came from a background of sales profession wouldn’t I know how to please people with flattering words, making them smug? I could not do it – my guru and the Buddha had not taught me so. The only method I could use then was to scold this person.

Today, I have given you a caution with this incident of ‘eldest sister’. The Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center is not allowed to form small groups by disciples. As long as you are slacking off just a little bit, you will make mistakes on the path of learning Buddhism. There were reasons that these few ordained disciples made this incident happening. They had been slacking off on their practices; they had not thought that they are monastics; they didn’t observe precepts; they thought they were better than others because of having read a bit of sutras. They also thought that I could only chant mantras and perform dharmas. They still talked back to me, argued with me and contradicted me; they didn’t think they were wrong. They took advantage of me, thinking that I don’t know sutras and the teachings contained in them. Fortunately, I learned Exoteric Buddhism before. I know all about it and I have its learning tools too. They didn’t expect I had this ‘trick’ – showing them A Practical Buddhist Dictionary.

To learn Buddhism, one must follow a guru. I have reported to His Holiness that when the constructions are completed, the Glorious Jewel Temple would only admit up to one hundred visitors per day. This temple is not built to be turned into a tourist attraction. Some would say letting people visit it would make them form an affinity, so that they might come to learn Buddhism in the future. However, I know that lots of people have visited some big temples in Taiwan, but among them, have there been many of them going there to learn Buddhism?

In the Age of Dharma Decline, it is very hard to promote the Dharma; it makes such a promoter exhausted physically and mentally. Do not think that it is difficult to fall into the Three Evil Realms; it is really very easy. I have been transferring consciousness of sentient beings all the time, and have seen many factors and results related to liberating processes, like causes, effects, affinities, karma, so on and so forth. Therefore, when seeing your behavior would lead you falling into the Three Evil Realms, I certainly would scold you to stop your actions. I am already 74 years old and have not much time left. The best I can do is teach you the Dharma I have learned. Nevertheless, if you don’t have the natural capacity to learn it, there is no other way for me to help you.

I have been through all kinds of hardships in my life, and have met many different types of people, like high-ranking officials, the rich and the powerful, little merchants, or delivery men. Nowadays it is not easy at all to have a puja every week. I even received a thank-you letter from the Ministry of the Interior a few days ago, saying that we have done a very thorough job on prevention of the epidemic, and they hope we will continue to work hard as a model. Such a result cannot be obtained overnight; we have to uphold our efforts persistently. Before the epidemic prevention regulations were announced by the government, our Center had already set up rules at the entrance of the Center, such as taking body temperature, wearing masks, disinfecting, wearing new socks, et cetera. The government acknowledges that we have implemented all the prevention measures and done them very well. This is because we abide by the laws.

This Green Tara statue in my hand was bestowed by the great practitioner, Yunga Rinpoche. Many of you do not know him. I will now lift the statue, visualizing the Green Tara being on top of your head, and bless you one more time.”

Rinpoche held the statue and chanted the mantra to bless all attendees for a long time. His compassionate Dharma voice and clear sound of the hand-bell filled the void. The guru’s boundless compassion and bursts of warmth were felt by all participants; they couldn’t help having their tears streaming down their faces.

Rinpoche then led the disciples in the Dharma Protector Achi Ritual and dedication prayer. Upon the perfect completion of the puja, in unison, all the disciples thanked the guru for his performance of the Dharma and bestowal of teachings. Rising to their feet, they paid reverent homage as His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne.

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Updated on July 12, 2021