His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – February 12, 2021

On Chinese New Year Day, at 9:00 A.M., His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche lit lamps as an offering to the Buddha, ascended the Dharma throne, and presided over the Thirty-five Buddhas Repentance Ritual and the Black Water Jambhala. The monastics of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center made the Mandala Offering to Rinpoche, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to implore for the Dharma. Rinpoche then bestowed precious teachings upon the attendees.

The Thirty-five Buddhas Repentance Ritual

“On Chinese New Year Day, many people would go to temples, praying for blessings; they usually don’t go there on other days. They just go there one day a year, wanting to implore for peace and good fortune for the whole year; how can this be possible? In this Center, on Chinese New Year Day, we perform the Thirty-five Buddhas Repentance Ritual first; in Exoteric Buddhism, the Thousand Buddhas Repentance Ritual is performed instead. In sutras, it is mentioned that one Buddha represents all Buddhas. Their essence, merits, compassion and activities are all the same. It is just that each Buddha has special vows and if the vows of a certain sentient being have affinities with this particular Buddha, the said sentient being will naturally practice Dharma methods of such a Buddha.

Sentient beings cannot be Buddhas immediately. Practicing needs a sequence, therefore, usually Dharma methods on Bodhisattvas are practitioners’ first contacts on their practices. Only after having learned Bodhisattvas’ behaviors, thoughts, actions and merits can practitioners have opportunities to learn the sections about Buddhas in the Dharma learning. In the Ratnakuta Sutra, Shakyamuni Buddha transmitted the pith instruction on the Thirty-five Buddhas Repentance Ritual. The Ratnakuta Sutra is a sutra that teaches us the practices of the Bodhisattva Path. The Thirty-five Buddhas Repentance Ritual is a penitential rite that people, who learn the Bodhisattva Path, need to perform, therefore, the blessings of this Ritual are especially powerful.

Do those who practice the Bodhisattva Path need to do repentances? As far as I am concerned, as long as I have not attained Buddhahood, I need to repent. For human beings, all their thoughts generate karma and vices. Some people might wonder, ‘Is there karma just by thinking things? Is there karma or a vice just by having a thought?’ The vices we talk about here are not those in the mundane world. From the Dharma aspect, as long as one’s thoughts or behaviors cannot help oneself to be liberated from birth and death, or will make oneself falling into the Three Evil Realms, such thoughts or behaviors are vices. Do not think that it is very difficult to fall into the Three Evil Realms; it is too easy. If hells were difficult to fall into, there would not have been the need to have Bodhisattvas existing to help us. The vow of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha is this: ’I will not attain Buddhahood unless and until all of the hells are empty.’ Hells cannot be empty.

In the Dharma, the existence of a hell is brought forth by oneself; this is different from what is said in non-Buddhist religions. The Buddha does not establish a hell to make humans, who have done things wrong, to fall into so as to let them accept punishments there. Rather, it is a living environment arisen from sentient beings’ karma. When you are alive, if you have done things similar to what happen to the lives in hells, you will be there after you die; when you are living, if things you have done are like those done by animals, you will be in the Animal Realm in your next life; while alive, if you have done things that are like those having been done in the Hungry Ghost Realm, you will be in that Realm after your death. It is like the story that a disciple shared today before the puja started. Her mother passed away but while still living, the mother left some fortune for things for her family members to do later, and the consequence was that the old lady suffered before she died. The money she previously left was just for the purpose of setting her mind at ease while dying. If such a person has not gotten the help from the Dharma, he or she will definitely fall into the Hungry Ghost Realm after death.

In the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, it is mentioned that in hells, about status of human beings, there is no discrimination in gender (male or female), age (old or young) or color of race. It is not just Chinese who will be there; foreigners will have such chances too of being there. If we want to talk about equality, it is most equal in hells. As long as one’s thoughts are bad, one falls into the Hell Realm after one’s death, regardless of such a person’s position or social status.

In the Dharma, in order not to let us fall into the Three Evil Realms because of our imprudently doing things wrong while practicing and living our lives, there are Dharma methods for repentances. Only the Dharma has a principle about repentance. In non-Buddhist religions, their followers implore their deities for help, considerations or forgiveness. Many people have done this. They would say, for example, ‘I now open a restaurant because I need it for making a living. I implore the deity to make me rich, and then I will not kill animals for food for my restaurant.’ ‘Because I am now an official, there is no way to avoid dealing with this matter; I can’t help it. I implore the deity helping me to finish this matter well. Then, I will not do it again.’ These are not taught in the Dharma. In it, doing a repentance means, by teachings and guidance of the Dharma, one is to really and clearly understand what he or she has done wrong, and such mistakes will never be made again. One should feel ashamed of oneself for making mistakes. Many people have many explanations for mistakes they make though. Simply speaking, they blame others. Here is an example of it: ‘It was all his making troubles for me; I didn’t think it like him; he showed me how to do it; our company forced us to do it; the governments’ regulations forced us to do it this way.’ This demonstrates that there is no repentance. If the negative karma from past lifetimes has not been so heavy, the causal conditions for doing bad deeds in this lifetime will be decreased in number, or will even disappear.

Because my maternal grandmother didn’t allow her grandsons to enter the kitchen, I never slaughter chicken, kill fish or cut meat. When I was young, I worked in a big hotel as an apprentice, working in their kitchen for about three months. During that time, I never cut any meat. This means that I have enough of good conditions, and have no habit of killing in my past lifetimes. Why do you kill animals or cut meat in this life? It is because you have heavy karma of killing.

The key point of repentance is not that you will get better right after you attend penitential rites. The repentance described in Buddhism is about knowing that one is wrong, stopping doing bad deeds; then one is capable to start accumulating good causal conditions. It is not that once you stop making mistakes, Bodhisattvas will forgive you and immediately let you get rich and healthy. We implore our karmic creditors, not Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and our guru, for forgiveness. When you practice diligently, your karmic creditors will then naturally forgive you for the harm you have done them.

In the Lotus Sutra, it is stated that ‘Once a prostration to the Buddha is made, one is already on the Buddhahood path.’ This does not mean one has attained Buddhahood. Rather, it means that one is moving forward on the path in the direction of becoming a Buddha, decreasing the number of opportunities of doing bad deeds, and alerting oneself to be vigilant not making mistakes again. It is said in sutras that ‘Whenever one prostrates oneself before the Buddha, one’s vices will drift away like sand in the river.’ In the Refuge Prayer, it is mentioned that ‘Commit no evil, and do all good.’ Many people’s bad deeds are all started from doing wrong on small things. If, to get fame, they give their friends more money by using funds from governments or their own work sections so that these friends would think they are good people, such actions are vices too. Another example is taking advantage of what others have done to make oneself famous; this is also a vice. Many big vices all start with doing small ones first; it is like sand in the river gradually piling up and the pile would become big as small vices having been ‘piled up’ to become big vices. We don’t pay attention to small vices we do, like cursing people with a few words, causing them an inconvenience, coveting others’ wealth, promising something but not keeping it. We don’t look out on these things, thinking they are nothing. These acts are all vices.

Making a prostration to the Buddha – such a motion bringing forth too great of good fortune – can suppress those very trivial vices. Of course, the fixed karma cannot be eliminated by such a prostration. When making prostrations to the Buddha, one does not implore the Buddha for making oneself healthy, receiving a promotion or getting rich. It is to repent. After repentances, good fortune is then arising; naturally, one’s current life will gradually turn out well. However, results will not be shown immediately, not the so-called raising-stick-then-instantly-seeing-its-shadow. It is not that your cancer cells will be gone if you make 100 prostrations to the Buddha. How can that be so easy? Metaphorically, when you owe a dragon a life, do you think these 100 prostrations can be exchanged for that lost life? Repentance is, therefore, very important.

While making repentances, your mind must be in them wholeheartedly. Do not give yourself any reasons why you have done things wrong. You should repent for all these things and those which have already harmed others. There are many different kinds of making repentances. There is one real repentance arising from deep down in your heart, and this will make the hairs on the back of your neck standing up; your whole body shakes like it being charged with electricity. Then, you totally cannot help yourself feeling sorrowful. This is not the kind you usually show that you bawl your eyes out. That is to let go of your emotions in that you feel you are much wronged, thinking ‘When I attend penitential rites, the Buddha and Bodhisattvas will bless me and know my grievances and suffering; I would cry at these rites and then everything will be all right.’ On the contrary, this kind of thoughts will have issues for you because you use the Buddha and Bodhisattvas to let go of your emotions, and this has a different revelation of Dharma nature from acting a true repentance. Making a repentance means that you will suddenly cry your heart out, which is not from what you feel that you have been harmed and are very pitiful.

When I conducted my first retreat in India, after two weeks of it, His Holiness wanted me to come out of my retreat to see him. Upon seeing him, I kneeled in front of him and wept. I wept not because I felt I had been working very hard during those two weeks’ retreat; rather, it was because I felt my guru’s compassion. Making repentance is very important. When His Holiness wanted to transmit the Mahamudra pith to me, I reported to him that I was afraid that my negative karma in past lifetimes has not been cleansed, so I would chant the Hundred-Syllable Mantra 100 thousand times first before coming out of my retreat hut to receive the Dharma transmission from him. As there are 100 words in the Hundred-Syllable Mantra, chanting it for the said number of times means chanting 10 million words. I spent about two weeks to finish chanting this Mantra; only then dared I to be out of my retreat hut to receive the transmission of the Mahamudra pith. It was not like you, continuously imploring to me for the Dharma, but not getting it. In my case, it was His Holiness himself who took the initiative, saying that he wanted to transmit a Dharma method to me. If I have not gotten my negative karma cleansed, even if receive transmission of the Mahamudra pith, I cannot master the practicing of it. Thus, you should think what repentance means and what you want to repent about.

When making a real repentance, towards the end, some people will even bleed from their eyes; this does not happen from deliberately puncturing a needle to, or squeezing tears out of, the eyes. It is very rare to be able to do such a repentance. It doesn’t matter if you cannot make such a true one, but you need to tell yourself: “I have been wrong.” If you have not done anything wrong in this life, will you have any physical discomforts? If you have not eaten the flesh of sentient beings, will you still have so many issues?

Let’s not talk about past lifetimes. In this lifetime, as long as you have eaten a bite of meat you need to repent. You might wonder, ‘Is it so serious that there is just one bite of meat having been eaten?’ Yes, it is because one bite of it is one life. If, on that bite of meat, the spirit of that particular animal happens to be there, then there will be issues for the person who has eaten it. Some animals are reluctant to let go of their bodies when they die; in such instances, their spirits will always be ‘attached’ to their bodies. Except for those disciples who have been vegetarians since the time of their being conceived in their mothers’ womb, all of you present here have eaten meat. For those animals, whose flesh have been made into ground meat, they are especially hateful. When you eat dumplings or hamburgers, you still feel they are delicious; you don’t consider you are doing anything wrong, thinking that many people like eating such food! That’s right! Many people have also thusly fallen into hells. I can see that nine out of ten dead people fall into the Hell Realm. There are also some falling into the Animal Realm and some, the Hungry Ghost Realm. Some people don’t feel well today so they have not come to the puja. That is okay; it gives me less things to handle. It also demonstrates that such a person does not have affinity with Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Even if we are sick, we should put efforts into our practices. This is because only the Dharma can save us; nothing in the mundane world can do that. Now, the more you listen to my teachings, the more you will realize that you are awful.

A short while later, I will give you a little time to do a self-examination. Try again to think a little bit about this. Since you have started comprehending things and rules from childhood, how many bites of meat, how many pieces of shrimps and how much of seafood have you eaten? These are enough for you to make repentances. From the time that people are able to speak, how many lies have they told their classmates, teachers, parents and colleagues? How many lies have people made to the companies they work for and the governments? Everyone has done these things before, including me. All these acts need to be repented for.

The characteristic of the Thirty-five Buddhas Repentance Ritual is that since you want to practice the Bodhisattva Path, you must make repentances. Even if you do not plan to practice the Bodhisattva Path in this life, because this cause and this condition have been planted in you to help you in the future, as long as you make prostrations to the Buddha, there is absolutely one day in a certain lifetime you will diligently practice this Path. Even if you practice it in this life but not diligently, because you have attended this penitential rite, when you do things, you will keep them in check, not getting them too much out of line. Also, because of this, those of your negative karma, which originally would have appeared much sooner, will have slower manifestation, letting you having some time or opportunities to do things.

Making a repentance in Esoteric Buddhism needs these four forces: repentance, counteracting, taking refuge and making vows.

For the force of counteracting, here are some examples. If you know you are arrogant, you should be humble; if you know you like to talk, then don’t talk. Do not say ‘I love you’ because you are unable to love that person the ways he or she wishes; love is a desire for unlimited wants. In the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, it is mentioned that ‘Attaching importance to physical desires makes one falling into the Hell Realm after death.’ This includes the desire of love. We don’t learn about love; we learn about compassion and doing good deeds, which are also what you call ‘love’. Those who love to kill animals for food should not eat meat and should do good deeds, even release living creatures. People who like to be famous should keep themselves low-key; it should be more so for those who love others’ attention because this would give them opportunities falling into hells. If you are a learned or knowledgeable person, naturally you would have good reputation; if you are not such a person but you insist to gain fame by many means you would get yourself into trouble at the end.

The force of taking refuge means to take refuge in the yidams of the Three Jewels.

The force of making vows is to make vows as to how we will not do bad deeds again. The vow I have made to Vajrasattva is this, ‘I will not do bad deeds forever in my body, speech and mind. When the void ends my vow does not end.’ There will be time for the void in the universe to end, but my vow will not be nonexistent then. This shows my mind is very determined. If your mind is not perseverant enough, never follow me to make such a vow because it will harm you. I learn Buddhism without regard to my life.

Once these four forces come out, your power of repentance follows. It is possible that after making repentances, things that are not good, – evaluated as such from your viewpoints – will happen consecutively. This is because these no-good things are ‘matured’ sooner than the time when they originally should have appeared; you then have opportunities to do your practices. If you wish that after learning Buddhism such things do not happen, then the last year before you die, your life will be very hard for you. You have to repay your negative karma; it is impossible not to. What do we seek for after living for decades? The answer is to seek a good death. It means that before death, there are no pains or worries; it is not to worry whether your illness has been diagnosed wrong or you have seen wrong doctors or not. What is to worry about is whether or not you can be reborn in the Pure Land. The Buddha once said that He cannot change sentient beings’ karmic retribution. Even the Buddha cannot do that, let alone me. However, after you have made repentances, the effect of your karmic retribution can be lessened, but your fixed karma certainly will appear.

The Dharma methods on repentance are very important. As long as you start your practices with these methods, you can attain achievements from any Dharma methods. As long as you think you have cultivated very well, you will not start making repentances. It’s like those three monastics; they have treated the Dharma like a child play in that they regard the solemn dignity of monastics as an ordinary matter like something in a traditional open market. They have behaved like this because they have not started making repentances from the beginning, thinking that it is good enough to follow a meritorious guru. However, since you have followed such a guru, you need to repent even more because your guru is meritorious. He is very strict in his teachings and will not relax his rules. If you are slacking off in your practices, you will have issues. It is not that I want to be so strict. If I slacken a little on my guidelines or instructions, I will have many ordained disciples; the reason is that under my management, monastics here eat well, live in good places, can listen to teachings of the Dharma and only need to recite sutras. However, if my rules have been relaxed, such an act will go against what I have been taught by sutras and by His Holiness. I cannot do that.”

Rinpoche instructed that the attendees started making prostrations for the Thirty-five Buddhas Repentance Ritual.

The Black Water Jambhala

Then, Rinpoche performed the Black Water Jambhala. During his performance of the Dharma, the guru compassionately bestowed the opportunity upon the attendees to implore the Black Water Jambhala for their wishes to be fulfilled. After the perfect completion of the Dharma, Rinpoche continued his teachings.

“In Tibetan Buddhism, the Dharmas of the Jambhala group are practiced. Life of humans is composed of these two major elements, which are invisible to us: wealth and longevity. In sutras, Shakyamuni Buddha mentioned how humans die. There are four situations. Some people, who have wealth, die after their lifespan is exhausted; this is having wealth but no longevity. Some people, who live but have no money for food, die of hunger; this is having longevity but no wealth. Some people are so poor that they cannot afford to eat and then they die; this is having no wealth and no longevity. There are still others having both wealth and longevity but they die; these are untimely deaths. It is like what are reported in the news that some people are very rich but they die suddenly from accidents.

Wealth and longevity are part of one’s good fortune, and are gained from one’s cultivation in past lifetimes. If one has done no killings in this life, he or she definitely has a long lifespan. If one had been willing to give charity and make offerings from lifetime after lifetime, one’s wealth in this life is inexhaustible. About ninety-nine percent of people had made killings in their past lifetimes. Let’s not talk about past lifetimes now; we will just mention things in this life. Here are some examples. When you go to a seafood store and see a fish moving about happily in a fish tank, you point to it and say that you want to purchase it. Seeing someone catching a big fish, you say to that person, ‘You are amazing to have caught such a big fish.’ When you see someone putting a cooked fish dish on the table, you say, ‘It looks delicious, so I should get a bite of it too.’ All these acts are following bad deeds. Eating a bite of meat or cursing others with a sentence will decrease wealth.

If one had not given charity in past lifetimes, one cannot have a body form of a human in this life; such a person will fall into the Hungry Ghost Realm after death. Even if the person gets a body form of a human, he or she will be a beggar and not knowing where the dinner will come from after finishing the breakfast. If you hope to have riches and a high social position for your entire life, that is an impossible wish. It is because all bad deeds you have done in this life will consume your wealth; in your past lifetimes, there was definitely one that you were reluctant to make offerings and give charity. You have not listened to what I have taught about this, pretending that you don’t understand it. It’s like the story a disciple shared today before the puja started. Before her mother (also a disciple) passed away, the old lady was reluctant to make offerings and give charity, thinking that she was to save her money so that her daughters would have it to move their living places after she died. Yet, she didn’t think she had a guru who is very generous; I have said before that if my disciples have no money, they are to let me know. She left the money in such a way that she made herself suffering while dying. Many people have this kind of thought that they leave their wealth to be used later by their family members. This does not tell you that you are to throw out all of it, not caring about it at all; the Buddha did not say this. He taught us that we need to arrange things for ourselves but when opportunities arise to give charity and make offerings, we should immediately do them, not thinking about other things confusingly.

In Tibetan Buddhism, there are five types of Jambhalas with different colors: black, white, red, yellow and green. They are not the ‘Wealth Deities of the Five Paths’ in Taoism. These deities find wealth for you from the directions of east, west, south, north and center, and such wealth will cost you. Once you use it, it is possible that your life would be lost or other things would happen. The so-called Five Ghosts Transporting means that the ‘Wealth Deities of the Five Paths’ tell ghosts to move things to you. These ghosts are like hooligans; they want compensation and good things from you.

The reason that Jambhalas are in five different colors is that, based on differences in karmic hindrances, sentient beings implore a certain Jambhala yidam for help. The Black Water Jambhala has a wrathful appearance. Why do people have no wealth? It is almost always because that one’s negative karma, having been committed by oneself, has blocked one’s wealth. It doesn’t mean that after this Dharma is performed you will become rich. Rather, your wealth, which belonged to you originally but have been blocked by your doing bad deeds, has been returned to you after your karmic creditors having been negotiated through the process of performing this ritual. You are given your wealth back so that you will be able to use it for giving charity and making offerings. This is not to get you a big fortune or to let you pay your mortgage. If this were the case, I could have just performed this Dharma for myself and everything will be fine then. However, I only perform the Jambhala once a year. In addition, some people are very destitute in this life because they were really reluctant to make offerings in their past lifetimes. Performing the Jambhala can sustain these people’s basic life. This is why in this Center, to this day, there is no single disciple having died of hunger.

The Black Water Jambhala is the earth terma Tantra from Padmasambhava, and it was discovered by terma masters. A practitioner must practice the Black Water Jambhala to reach a level that the auspicious signs have appeared before he or she can perform this ritual for others to help them. If such signs are not shown, a practitioner cannot perform it. This means that the number of times to practice the Black Water Jambhala is at least 1,000 or 10,000. This Jambhala is in a color of black, which refers to the subdual of all beings, like deities, ghosts, karmic creditors or animals, no matter what kind, that have hindered you. They are subdued so as to temporarily leave you. Your wealth is restored to you but it will not be increased, unless your practices have reached the same level as I am now at; only then can your wealth be possibly increased. If you feel your life has not been going well, it is because your good fortune and wealth have been consumed almost completely; then, the performance of this Dharma will restore your wealth to you.

In addition to monetary wealth, another kind of wealth is Dharma wealth. (Learning Buddhism needs Dharma wealth, and it means whether or not you have opportunities to learn the Dharma.) In sutras, the Black Water Jambhala I am going to perform today is in the Dharma Protectors group, and is not a deity of the mundane world. This Jambhala is a Bodhisattva above the Eighth Ground, but still having a little bit of human habits; the Black Water Jambhala makes choices. For those believers and disciples who are not respectful to the Three Jewels, the Jambhala ignores them; being respectful means listening to the guru. Performing the Black Water Jambhala needs to be in a clean place, indicating that such a place has never been set up for operating a business that is not good, like killing animals, dealing prostitution or running a restaurant serving meat or seafood dishes. Such places cannot be chosen to perform this Dharma.

To perform the Black Water Jambhala, a practitioner should at least have attained achievements by conducting retreats on practices of Avalokiteshvara, and only then, can such a practitioner perform this Jambhala. Also, it is necessary that the yidam is related to Akshobhya (the Immovable Buddha). For example, the ‘head set’ of Hevajra is Akshobhya, and the ‘head set’ of the Black Water Jambhala is also Akshobhya. From these, we can see that all Dharma methods are related. Which Dharma method one practices is relevant to one’s karma of past lifetimes and the vows one has made in this lifetime. The Black Water Jambhala is an emanation of Akshobhya; if one has not practiced Dharma methods related to Akshobhya, and is not attuned to this Buddha, it is very difficult to perform this ritual. The performance of it should be based on a mindset of aspiring bodhicitta, not on one for getting rich. The bodhicitta here means this: being poor is also a kind of suffering and the performance of this Dharma is to let sentient beings, who are poor, not to be poor anymore. If performing this ritual with bodhicitta, all things will naturally be accomplished and wishes are fulfilled; all adverse conditions and obstacles will be eliminated and benefits are increased, received and enjoyed. The performances of Jambhalas, therefore, are not to get you rich. Because you have participated in this puja, it can help you eliminate many negative causal conditions and hindrances, including those you have encountered on the mundane path and on supramundane; even when there are negative causal conditions happening, they can also be resolved.

Performing the Black Water Jambhala lets you get back the wealth that originally belonged to you. Having such wealth doesn’t mean that you are to use it to coax your spouse or a partner and make them happy, like buying a watch for your wife. You might think that previously you wanted to buy her one but didn’t, and now you can do it because you have the money. If you buy her one in this way, you are actually doing her harm. It is because she was not meant to get this watch originally. Wealth is to be used, not to be put in banks for no usages, and also, it is not to be misused or be used randomly. Wealth should be well used. When I learned Exoteric Buddhism, my master then taught me the Dharma method of making offerings and giving charity. In all the Dharma methods, making offerings and giving charity are very important. On these, one needs to be willing to do them, do them right and do them immediately; one is not to wait. If you wait to do these things, all your things are waiting to be done.

I have started propagating the Dharma since 1997. Among my disciples who had passed away, upon their death, why did some of them get liberated immediately by the Phowa, and why did some of them ‘wait’, not getting it even though I had promised them before they die that they would get it? Why did some of the deceased even ‘wait’ for one or two months before getting liberated by the Chod? These were all related to what they had usually done while alive. It is not that I am not compassionate; it is the result of your actions. Some people knew that they were going to die, and then they constantly made offerings to me. Even when such money was not much, they believed in me very much. They also received my help, getting liberated through the Phowa right after they died but some people did not receive the Phowa. The difference did not result from whether their having money or not. The dissimilarity came from what they had done in their living life; all such things having been done have causes and effects.

Today, on the first day of Chinese New Year, I will first lead everyone to make prostrations to Buddhas, do a penitential rite, and cleanse your karmic hindrances. Cleansing these hindrances does not mean that your karmic retributions will disappear; rather, it means that such retributions will not hinder your practices. Before, when I first started learning Tantra, I was so poor that I couldn’t afford to eat meals; after finishing my lunch I didn’t know where my dinner would come from. However, I ignored these and continued making grand prostrations. In the summer, I didn’t have money to buy an air-conditioner or an electric fan and the temperature in my place reached over 40 degrees Celsius, but I made grand prostrations as usual. Although there was no money for my meals, the offering items, like incense, lamp light, water and flowers, had never been stopped to be placed before a statue, or an image, of the Buddha. It is not that the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas need these things; it is to show that your mindset is right and truthful. I was so poor that I couldn’t pay my rent but my landlord didn’t immediately chase me away. Otherwise, the Bodhisattvas and I would have needed to sleep on the side of the road. When karma has been cleansed, karmic retributions still appear. At that time, I already had Dharma texts of Jambhalas, but I didn’t perform one for myself. It is because I believe in causes, effects and karmic retributions; I am to accept and face them. I also knew at that time that I must have been greedy in one of my past lifetimes in that I was reluctant to give charity and make offerings; that was why I had such a karmic retribution of being poor. When your guru gives you opportunities to make offerings and give charity, you must do them immediately. When you were first given the opportunity to support the temple construction project, for those of you who wanted to look at the situation slowly, to wait for a while, and felt embarrassed to say something about the construction, you will know later the consequences of your actions.

It was like this occurrence. When one time I conducted a retreat in India, I had nothing to eat for one and a half days. The reason was when the monastics there handed over their duties of the day, they didn’t mention that there was someone in the retreat hut that I was in. This happened because I was reluctant to make offerings and give charity in my past lifetimes. However, this no-food situation didn’t hinder my practices and I continued to do them. Maybe, originally, I had been supposed to eat nothing for one and a half years, but because of my making prostrations to the Buddha, such a time period turned out to be just one day and a half; my karmic retribution had become lightened. This is the so-called a lessened effect of heavy karmic retribution.”

Rinpoche then led the attendees in the Dharma Protector Achi Ritual and dedication prayer. After these were completed, the guru continued the teachings.

“2021 is not an especially good year; it would be a little bit better than last year though, but it would still not be too good. The next few years are all like this. Don’t think, ‘Last year was not a good year, and this year doesn’t seem good either so more money needs to be saved this year. Say, one dollar was saved last year, and then it would be two dollars to be saved this year,’ This is greed. You will not be starved to death and you will still have jobs. This is not telling you to save all your money in banks or to spend all of it without any financial planning.

The spreading of current COVID-19 pandemic will be suddenly eased off in June or July this year, but it will not be because of vaccination. Now, it is reported in the news that vaccines are in ten rich countries and none are in poor ones. Based on the principle of cause and effect, if people were born in a poor country, it is because they were reluctant to give charity and make offerings in their past lifetimes. Rich countries’ reluctance to donate vaccines to other countries is a sign of greediness, too. If one is not willing to help others when they are in suffering, one will be gradually becoming poor in the future, although this will not be seen in this life. When you give your help to those who suffer, such an assistance is a great merit, no matter what your motivation is. These ten countries’ unwillingness to distribute vaccines to others in need demonstrates that there is no bodhicitta in such countries. People there are enjoying their good fortune gained from their past lifetimes; they also feel they are very remarkable, not paying attention to suffering sentient beings in other countries. Thus, they have planted negative causes and conditions for their own countries, too.

The world is very complex because deeds everyone does are either good or bad; it is just that, in these deeds overall, some people have done more good ones, and some people, more bad ones. If the people of a country are able to accumulate good deeds, this country will gradually turn out to be a good country. In this Age of Dharma Decline, as political situations are uncertain, be wise and know rules and principles to protect yourself. Do not charge forward in impulses; holding on to the present will be fine. You should be clear on things before making any decisions, and under this unsteady environment, use your constancy to face many changes.

All calamities start with killing. I advise this to those who have not taken refuge in me: do not think that you only need to eat vegetarian just on the first day of a Chinese lunar month and not on other days. I am already seventy-four years old and do not have much time left in my life. Making friends with me is very good; it will be easier and more relaxed for you but no one will know about the future. Do not think that after you pass away, I will help you get liberated with Dharmas while you have not done things about what I have taught. It is not possible that I live to an age of 100. If you usually listen to me, I might still wait for you, but if you have not done your practices, or not listened to my teachings, what can I do? There is no contract signed between you and me. Your being here is entirely established from belief; it is not the belief in me, but the belief in the Dharma and in what the Buddha taught.

For your life this year, you should mainly make things in steadiness. Do not think too much; abide by the laws and remain in your proper place. If someone suddenly wants to give you some benefits or asks you to do certain things so that you will gain fame, you might think about it first; if you are unable to do what is wanted, don’t do it. How could there be such good things being given to you? If suddenly you are offered a general manager position, don’t consider it as a good thing. Do you think it is easy to be a general manager of a corporation? Ask yourself how many good deeds you have done to deserve such a position. Do not do things that you should not do for the sake of gaining fame. If you are originally a very proud person, there should be no end to your humbleness, and do not handle things that are beyond your capability. Work hard on your job but it doesn’t mean working your fingers to the bone; it means that because your boss has given you a salary you need to put efforts into your job, not to be disingenuous about it. The ordained disciples here should be even more careful and not be disingenuous on your practices or on things you do. I have given you the Dharma bodies and wisdom life, and since you have an appearance of monastics, you should let go of everything, not pursuing things of the mundane world.

Some people say that I do not have a good temper; if I don’t, how could I have conducted retreats? When I was poor, I was more at ease at that time than I am now. I have not asked you to take refuge in me. I don’t want to accept many people as my disciples; I only accepted fourteen of them last year because I was too tired. I now seldom agree taking on new disciples, and for the disciples I have, I weed them out quickly. In the future, the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center will have two extreme situations in that all of a sudden, either there are many more disciples or the number of disciples has decreased.

Don’t be discouraged. Some of you feel that you cannot keep up with me. Of course not. In our Order, there is only one Rinpoche like me; it is also impossible that, in the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, there will be a chance that many Rinpoches appear. Yet, you need to follow what I have done, at least touching the side of the scope of my attainment; when you will have results is not important but you should start doing what you have learned. You cannot be successful instantly, like what is said out there, ‘getting it with one go’, or ‘reaching the sky with one leap’. However, do not feel discouraged. As long as you are willing to take actions about your learning, there will always be a day that a fruition is accomplished. It is the same while you do your practices.

If there are things that you cannot think through and you need another opinion, you can come to seek an audience with me; do not come to me only after you pass away (seeking my help through your family members or your own spirit). In this modern time, neither last year was a good year nor will this year be. This is why when many people want to make themselves becoming better, they will find all possible ways to take things from others. If we owe a person some debts, money or otherwise, we repay these debts to him or her; we don’t need to owe such debts, however, if we are careful in our behavior. Remain in your proper place; as long as you have this principle in mind, when it is not your turn to do actions, you don’t need to think hard to get things from other people; what you have gotten are not yours anyway because they don’t belong to you.

In the next several years, the changes in this world will be great, especially for this year. For those who remain in their proper places, they will live their lives peacefully. What ‘remain in one’s proper place’ means is, earning-wise, on whatever salary one makes now one is to maintain it by working hard, and then he or she will certainly get more of it later on. It is not to be in such a situation that since the amount is only this much, which is not enough, one immediately looks for another job to make more money. One should consider whether or not one has the capability to work on such a job; otherwise, after working for only one month on the new job, the person is possibly fired. This is the result of not remaining in one’s proper place. It is the same for running a business that the company should remain in its proper place, not to get involved in a big business when hearing about it; otherwise, when the time comes, this company that joins in and operates the big business could owe lots of debts.

In this Age of Dharma Decline, we should believe that we are lacking in good fortune and causal conditions. If we have enough of good fortune, we would have been born in the age when the Buddha appeared, about 2000 years ago. At that time, although the living environments were not as good as now, people had little desires. The farmers then went to their fields doing farm work every day, and that was all they did; they were very joyful when there was a little harvest and they would not think about things that were strange or weird. When I first came to Taiwan a while ago, basils here were very fragrant and tiny, but now, they are very big and not aromatic; they are not medicinal either. This is because of greed; the growers or the sellers think that the bigger the basils are the better the sales would be, but the product has lost its original fragrant aroma. It is the same for guavas, a fruit. Guavas used to be aromatic, sweet and very delicious, and they were not hard. This fruit has become, nowadays, so big like something else; because they are hard, when eating them, people with bad teeth might be afraid of getting their teeth broken. This shows that humans are greedy. They think if the products are made bigger there would be money to make, therefore, the original characteristics of the products are gone. Now, technology is so advanced, but is it really so? We should observe it more carefully. If one is not greedy, one is not avaricious on anything; one should remain in one’s proper place. If things are made by your efforts and hard work, of course these things should be kept or be wanted; however, if things are unaccountably given to you by other people, be careful.

Today’s puja started at 9:00 A.M. but I left home a little after 5:00 A.M., and arrived at His Holiness’s place before 6:00 in the morning. I went there to pay him a ‘Happy New Year’ greeting. His Holiness is a Chinese who observes Tibetan calendar, and he was getting ready for a new Tibetan year. Since my guru instructed me to visit him on this day, I, as his disciple, followed his command. At that time, many of you were still staying in bed, turning either to the left side, or the right side, of the bed. Who knows?

Wishing you all to live through the New Year with peacefulness, prosperity and good health.”

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Updated on August 11, 2021