His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – March 14, 2021

His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche ascended the Dharma throne, and led the attendees in the Simplified Version of the Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara Ritual. He then expounded on “Scroll 17, ‘Amitayus Tathagata Assembly’ (Chapter 5, Section 1)” of the Ratnakuta Sutra.

“Last week, during my teachings, I mentioned that there are six types of ‘earth shaking’. Usually, when practitioners chant mantras in performances of the Dharma, there are six types of ‘earth shaking’. These are recorded in sutras: ‘In the sea of auspicious, stately world of the Dharma, by the miraculous power of the Buddha, there are all six types of “earth shaking”, with eighteen forms: These are moving, particular moving and universal moving; rising, particular rising and universal rising; surging, particular surging and universal surging; quaking, particular quaking and universal quaking; roaring, particular roaring and universal roaring; striking, particular striking and universal striking.’ The ‘earth shaking’ here does not mean earthquake. Rather, it refers to the movements of universal energy when the Buddha, Bodhisattvas, earth deities and deities of Earth Mother arrive during a performance of the Dharma. There are two meanings on this. One is the praising of practitioners’ power of merits and compassion. Secondly, since such a long history has passed, some places have become more or less impure, and after the Dharma is performed, because of changes in magnetic fields the bad will be transformed into the good, therefore, ‘earth shaking’ is felt. In fact, it is the start of changes energy is making.

‘There are sixteen real men, Virtue-and-Protection Bodhisattva and others.’ refers to the famous sixteen lay Bodhisattvas in Buddhism. ‘The other Bodhisattvas are Good-At-Thoughts Bodhisattva, Debating-Ability-With-Wisdom Bodhisattva, Viewing-Non-Abiding Bodhisattva, Supernatural-Power-Blossoming Bodhisattva, Light-Braving Bodhisattva, Jeweled-Banner Bodhisattva, Wisdom-Superiority Bodhisattva, Roots-Of-Peacefulness Bodhisattva, Belief-and-Wisdom Bodhisattva, Vows-and-Wisdom Bodhisattva, Elephant-Scented Bodhisattva, Jewels-Braving Bodhisattva, Middle-Abiding Bodhisattva, Making-Actions Bodhisattva and Liberation Bodhisattva. They sit at the best seats.” For lay Bodhisattvas, when they have attained a fruition level, they can also sit at the best seats.

The ‘real men’ mentioned in sutras means people who practice Buddhism courageously and vigorously and make improvements continuously; they cultivate strenuously on the right Dharma path and do not go backwards. There are possibilities for retrogression of bodhicitta of Bodhisattvas of the First Ground through Bodhisattvas of the Eighth Ground; this means that their mind for learning the Dharma so as to help sentient beings has been retrogressed. You are not qualified to be in the ‘being retrogressed’ category; you can only be said being slacking off. When your wishes are not fulfilled, you don’t want to learn Buddhism. The ‘real men’ is an appellation for practitioners who have practiced vigorously and diligently, and have achieved attainments on the Bodhisattva Path.
‘Being courageous’ means not fearing all kinds of hindrances and pain in the mundane world. Such practitioners continuously practice the Dharma on the right path and are unmoved, in their mind or actions, by the Eight Winds. In the process of your practices, there are always things you like or dislike happening. It is not that demons have come to give you a hard time; it is your karma, accumulated from your past lifetimes, has been manifesting sooner. If you think that practicing is living a good life, I advise you not to learn Buddhism. What is ‘being courageous’ ? It is just like soldiers in a war; they charge forward bravely without fear even if there are swords or guns in front of them. I don’t ask you to charge forward not fearing death; rather, you should not be afraid of any obstacles or imperfect, unsatisfying things that occur in your life. Everybody hopes that through practicing Buddhism, he or she will be happier and contented more and more, thinking ‘Other people like me; I earn more money.’ These are all wrong. If one wants such a feeling of satisfying one’s desires and happiness, one is learning the ways of demons.
I have taught you before that ‘live by adapting to each rising condition and keep calm no matter what happens.’ One’s affinities, good or bad, are all created by oneself from accumulated past lifetimes, and these affinities will all pass. No matter what kind of them, good or bad, appears, we should abide by the Dharma, not by our desires; we should be unmoved, in our mind or actions, by the Eight Winds. Some people had been learning Buddhism here and then, after a while, they left. They even said, ‘The Dharma that Rinpoche teaches is not what I want to learn.’ What I teach are from sutras and Dharma texts; I do not teach you seeking desires, finding someone you want to marry, or getting your businesses improved.

The saying, ‘luring you with desire’, is based on your affinities of learning Buddhism. It is to satisfy you on something, within the scope of not going against rules of cause and effect, so that you will aspire to believe in the Three Jewels. It is like the situation of a car salesman. Recently, he was ill with hydrocephalus; he had serviced me before and his services were very good. When his parents came to implore me for help, I told them that their son would be out of intensive care after twenty-one days. I blessed him and I also performed Dharmas for him in two evenings. You might think that he did receive a salary and sales commission, but those were given by his boss, not by me. People learning Buddhism think differently from average persons in that others’ kindness and help are remembered; such Buddhists do not hold grudges against anyone, either. Yesterday, he came here seeking an audience with me. I said to him, ‘I can only save you once.’ To every one of you present here, I say the same thing that I can only save you once.
What is hydrocephalus?” Doctor-disciple Xie reported, “The brain produces cerebrospinal fluid. For ordinary people, such fluid gathers and dissolves on its own in different parts of the brain. However, for people who have a stroke or a brain injury, the cerebrospinal fluid accumulates inside the brain, damaging it. This will decrease the size of the normal part of the brain, and even cause epilepsy, mental retardation, or stroke. In more serious cases, patients will be in a vegetative state or in dementia, and they tend to die sooner than ordinary people.”
(Rinpoche continued the teachings.) “Do not think that by taking refuge in me, I have to solve everything for you. I have taken refuge in His Holiness, and could it be that His Holiness needs to solve everything for me? If he cannot do it, do I leave him? In fact, many things are all right for me because I have a full faith in my guru, and I face everything courageously and vigorously without retrogression; I believe that my guru will definitely bless me. If one learns Buddhism with one’s desires, then it is better for the person to learn a non-Buddhist religion, which can satisfy his or her desires.
When you feel that now things are going on very well, your kids listen to you and your other half is also very good, it means that you are consuming your good fortune. Whatever we have obtained, either good or bad, all are from our good fortune; we are depleting it every day. Only through learning Buddhism can we decrease or control our own desires and accumulate our good fortune continuously. When it is large enough, even when one’s karma, accumulated from past lifetimes, appears, there will be a lessened effect of heavy karmic retribution, and negative karma will be stopped. It is like last year that I knew my right eye was having problems, but these issues will not affect my life.

Shakyamuni Buddha had already reached the fruition level of a Bodhisattva in past lifetimes. Why in this lifetime did He still need to practice as an ascetic for six years? It was because He had been a prince for two dozen years and had used up the good fortune He had gained from His past practices, therefore, He needed to gain back, through practices, the good fortune for attaining a Buddhahood. To attain it, good fortune is also needed. He got married and had children, enjoying things of the human world. These enjoyments came from achievements He had obtained from His cultivation in past lifetimes. Shakyamuni Buddha was a monastic when He was in the Tusita (a heaven). Whether one comes into the world by one’s karma or by one’s vows, as long as one enters into the Six Realms, there are opportunities for one to suffer the pain of reincarnation. He was born in a wealthy family in this lifetime. This tells us that if we have practiced in this life, in next one, we will absolutely be born in a family with great riches; we will not be born in a butcher’s family. Some people think that since they now have earned money, they want to live a good life; they want to relax for a while first. This is to consume their good fortune, which is not given by the Buddha and Bodhisattvas; it is gained from one’s own practices.
Being a human means having desires. The difference between humans and animals is that animals do not know they have desires; they have just the so-called innate nature. The innate nature forms or gathers habits from accumulated lifetimes. For humans, they can think though; even if they don’t learn Buddhism, they know what their desires are. When animals are hungry and want to eat, and if their eating desire is very strong, they would get their food without regarding their lives. Humans can control their desires. When someone tells you that by eating this food you would die, then, in normal circumstances, you will not eat it.
The disciple, who shared her story today before the puja started, said that she had felt herself suffering very much. That was because she had the desire to live a good life. Her son wanted to set up a business but had no money, so she found ways to raise money for him, thinking that as a mother, she should satisfy her son’s wishes. I, as her guru, could only remind and reprimand her; I could not fulfill her desires again, saying, ‘Your son wants to improve himself; that’s very good. I will help him.’ After I have learned Buddhism, I have decreased, controlled and even eliminated my desires. You, however, have increased yours. When you seek to get your desires fulfilled, you are not a person learning Buddhism, and you are not doing your practices courageously and vigorously. You are no better than scholars who have read books of the sage. It is because they have learned and gained understanding from these books; they know as well that one should decrease one’s desires. The Buddha and Bodhisattvas will help us, but for decreasing our desires it still relies on our decision to act on it.

The ordained disciples have all read this sutra before, but to them, it is just reading it through. There is no impression of it in their mind, like water flowing and passing the back of ducks – leaving no traces. They will not have the ‘sensibility of doubt’ because they do not have actual practicing experiences; their humbleness in the heart does not arise. It is like those titles of Bodhisattvas introduced earlier today; to these monastics, these titles are just some sort of Buddhist terms.
This sutra is to introduce Amitabha. Nevertheless, why, at the beginning of the sutra, did Shakyamuni Buddha introduce Himself first? It is because only a Buddha can introduce another Buddha. It is impossible for Bodhisattvas and ordinary people to introduce a Buddha. Shakyamuni Buddha introduced many Bodhisattvas, and He also mentioned that after Him, Bodhisattva Maitreya will be the one coming to the Earth. In this planet, Shakyamuni Buddha is the fifth Buddha, but the previous four Buddhas were not introduced. This is why He explained how He had come and how He had practiced. In this way, the people who learn Buddhism in future generations will know how the Buddha had come to the Earth and how He had cultivated the Dharma. Shakyamuni Buddha was not born out of the birth canal of His mother, but from her right armpit. Once He was born, He walked seven steps. After the birth, He lived a life of great riches, and He also wrote about the causes and conditions of how to practice for the Buddhahood.

At the beginning of the sutra, the names of some great arhats and Great Bodhisattvas were introduced. This is to let you know that even these great practitioners had come to listen to the Buddha speaking of the Dharma. Then, being ordinary persons, what is your thinking based on that you don’t listen to it? Shakyamuni Buddha’s teachings used many quite lively metaphors. Only the Buddha is qualified to speak of the Infinite Life Sutra.

Sutra: ‘Bodhisattvas walked around Him clockwise and praised Him.’

When Shakyamuni Buddha crossed over the river, Bodhisattvas came to welcome Him, and walked around Him clockwise and praised Him. It was like when I conducted a retreat on Lapchi Snow Mountain in 2007, on the second day, I saw a Dharma protector, who was beside Dharma Protector Achi, riding a kirin, patrolling around the retreat room.

Sutra: ‘Then, the Bodhisattva received grasses and made a mat himself under the bodhi tree.’

At that time, Shakyamuni Buddha had not attained enlightenment, and was not a Buddha yet, so He called Himself a Bodhisattva, not a Buddha. From this quote, we know that the Buddha observed precepts and acted according to the Dharma principles. ‘Received grasses’ means that many Bodhisattvas, with their supernatural powers, sent grasses to Shakyamuni Buddha, and after receiving the grasses, He used them to make a mat Himself. Because He observed precepts and since at that time everyone was a Bodhisattva, He Himself made the mat. Another thing was that only the person who was going to sit on this mat would know how thick it should be to be appropriate.

This passage tells us that we Buddhism learners should be modest and humble. Even the Buddha, having attained the level of a Bodhisattva’s Dharmakaya (Dharma-body), after coming back to this world by His vows, was very cautious; He paid close attention to every link around Him. You are ordinary people; I am able to teach you to be liberated from reincarnation, so I have not let you down. It is like when I chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, for the count of one round of prayer beads, I only need four breaths to finish chanting the round, because I chant in a meditative state. How many breaths do you need to chant the round? You cannot even do this as I do. How can you implore for things from me as you wish, like ordering dishes from a menu?
Sutra: ‘Seeing also that demons gathering, surrounding and intending to put in danger and harm to the Buddha, the Bodhisattvas, with their power of meditation and wisdom, subdued the resentments of demons. The Buddha then attained supreme enlightenment.’
To become a Buddha, you need those sentient beings having affinities with you to help you. Even the Buddha had Bodhisattvas helping Him to attain Buddhahood. What bases do you have that you think you can achieve attainments just by reciting or chanting at home? It is mentioned in the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows that if one recites, in accordance with the Dharma principles, the sacred name of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha 10,000 times a day for three years, ghosts and deities in the neighborhood will come to protect one’s house, and there will be no ominous situations occurring in the house. ‘In accordance with the Dharma principles’ means making the mandala clean, observing the purifying precepts and performing an ablution. If your mind is not yet purified and is still having lots of desires, the reciting or chanting you are doing is not carried out with respect even when the count is 10,000 times. As such, what is your thinking based on that I transmit mantras to you and you chant them at home so that things will become better for you, or your children will be healthier? It is just that because you keep on reciting or chanting, Bodhisattvas assign Dharma protectors, who are at Bodhisattvas’ side, coming to help you.
The words, ‘danger and harm’, mean that when these demons knew that the Buddha was about to attain Buddhahood, they came and intended to harm Him so that His mind would not be in a meditative state and would not become a Buddha. The ‘resentments of demons’ mentioned here refers to the situation that demons faced. Being a Buddha, Shakyamuni Buddha liberated those that originally had been followers of demons, which certainly made demons feeling resentful; they did not wish Him to become a Buddha. It is like the event occurred in Pingtung, a county in southern Taiwan, a few years ago. I went there to liberate all the ghosts of the Mudan Incident. The Ghost King was displeased because he then had no ghost armies to command anymore.
When Shakyamuni Buddha was in a meditative state, these Great Bodhisattvas were all protecting Him; they used their power of wisdom gained from their meditative states to subdue the resentments of demons. From the aspect of Tantra, this means bringing forth and mastering the four Dharma methods of Subduing, Placating, Increasing, and Vanquishing. Only by using these methods could the resentments of demons be eliminated and demons would no longer obstruct the Buddha. There is no mention here of the names of these Bodhisattvas, but in the early part of the sutra, many such names are mentioned. Why are they not indicated here? This is related to Tantra. As this sutra is not about practices of Tantra, the Bodhisattvas’ names are not noted here. Besides, Dharma texts on Tantra cannot be transmitted publicly anyway; these transmissions are done one-on-one. If the forty-eight vows written in the Infinite Life Sutra are to be explained, the explanation cannot be finished within one year. Shakyamuni Buddha clearly told those, who learn Buddhism in the Age of Dharma Decline, not to be arrogant, not to casually act on not-observing-precepts. Once the precepts have not been observed, all things in the Dharma are gone. Next, I am going to talk about the ‘meditation and wisdom’ used by the Bodhisattvas. Only in a meditative state can pure wisdom and essence be generated. The thought arose in the Bodhisattvas’ mind to help Shakyamuni Buddha in achieving attainments to become a Buddha. They have thusly immersed in the great sea of merits of Shakyamuni Buddha; then the length of time for these Bodhisattvas to take for attaining Buddhahood will be shortened.
We should do self-practicing, but don’t think that it will make us becoming a Buddha immediately. Shakyamuni Buddha had practiced through accumulated lifetimes, and had been a monastic in several of these lifetimes although we don’t know how many. After He came to the Earth, He still needed the protection and help of Bodhisattvas. Then, how can it be possible that you think you will gain achievements by relying on yourself? My transmission of the Dharma Protector Achi ritual to you is to protect your home from getting ominous things happening, like some household items getting burned unaccountably, or some passing ‘naughty’ ghosts, stopping by and taking a look after seeing you burning some incense at your home. These are all possible occurrences.
Moreover, in the Dharma text of the Dharma Protector Achi ritual, it is mentioned that the Dharma Protector is to protect and support the Right Dharma. If you ask me to fulfill your desires, the Dharma Protector will not protect and support you. It is like the situation that a disciple, who has learned Buddhism with desires, found that the mandala at her home getting burned unaccountably, but the fire did not spread to other areas of her home. Learning Buddhism is to learn the thoughts and behavior of the Buddha. As a prince, He had everything, but when He went outside of the palace, he saw the phenomena of birth, old age, sickness and death, and knew that life was not about living in it comfortably. He then left the palace with just six attendants. You are all reluctant to let go of things; nevertheless, you should at least decrease your desires.
Do not think that your good fortune is given by the Buddha and Bodhisattvas. When you feel your other half listens to you and you live a good life, it means that, all this time, you have been using up your good fortune. You need to be on your guard and be alert. You should do all the methods your guru has taught you, and only in this way can you continuously accumulate your good fortune for the future. If you think you can master your practices by relying on yourself, you cannot attain Buddhahood even after the three great asamkhyeya kalpas. The key point of learning Buddhism is to break away from reincarnation, and to do that, you should listen to your guru. Do not think that once you participate in pujas or finish mantra-chanting, you have done what you need to do; you then continue to live a life you like. I am not telling you not to get married or not to go traveling; rather, you are to control your desires, and do not indulge your mind.
‘Attaining supreme enlightenment’ means that because the Bodhisattvas had subdued the resentments of demons, the Buddha became a Buddha.
Sutra: ‘The Brahman King, with bravery and vigorousness and without fear, implored for the turning of the Dharma wheel.’

After Shakyamuni Buddha attained Buddhahood, the first one who came to implore the Buddha for the turning of the Dharma wheel was Brahman King (the great brahman Devaraja in the Brahman Heaven of the Heaven Realm). In Hinduism, the Brahman Heaven is the highest heaven.

Without the affinity of imploration, the Buddha will not transmit the Dharma, and this is why we need to recite the imploration prayers before our pujas start. Before His Holiness transmits Dharmas to me, I always implore him for them. Many people have come to implore me for the transmissions of Dharmas; they asked me to hurry up to transmit the Phowa to them. However, I will not transmit it under these circumstances: persons who are to receive it are not the right ones to get it; the time to transmit it is not right, or the ways their imploring for it are not right. I definitely will not transmit it if there are no implorations shown. You have all implored for it with your own desires because you want to satisfy them. To this day, His Holiness still transmits Dharmas to me. What bases do you have to think that, after you have taken refuge in me for a dozen or twenty years, I will transmit whatever Dharmas you want to you? You have to open your mouth to implore for them. This is the way that this story, described in the sutra, tells us to do.

Sutra: ‘The Buddha’s voice roared, like ground-shaking, with sounds of Dharma-drums beating and Dharma-conches blowing.’

When the Buddha started transmitting the Dharma, these sounds were heard. This does not mean that there were really drums being beaten; it refers to the sounds that were made in the air by devas, nagas and others of eight groups of non-humans as well as Dakas and Dakinis.

Sutra: ‘Setting up the great Dharma-Banner, lighting up the Right Dharma-Torch, and embracing the Right Dharma and many kinds of meditation.’

Setting up the great Dharma-Banner means that the Dharma’s formal lineage had started. ‘Lighting up the Right Dharma-Torch’ means that the Right Dharma had started ‘burning’ (flourishing). There are many kinds of meditation, like the First, the Second or the Third Meditation (Heaven). For arhats’ practices, there are only four fruition levels. In the practices of Mahamudra, there are four different, sequential stages with three levels in each stage, totaling twelve types of practices to do.
Sutra: ‘Pouring down the great Dharma Rain to benefit and moisten all sentient beings.’

There are two meanings in the ‘pouring down the great Dharma Rain’. One is that it really rains; the other is about a rainfall that you cannot see, which looks like rain when coming down in the air but it is absorbed when it hits the ground. Before, I went to an area including Tibet and Qinghai (a province in China). In the clear sky, a cloud appeared and it seemed that it was snowing; however, the snow disappeared when it fell on me. That was ‘pouring down the Dharma Rain’. If the person that such ‘rain’ falls on is not a Right Dharma practitioner, he or she will not see such a phenomenon. ‘To benefit and moisten all sentient beings’ means that all sentient beings in the Six Realms need to be benefited and moistened by the Dharma Rain. Before sentient beings have been through it, the Buddha viewed them as ‘being dry’ in that they totally don’t understand the Dharma, therefore, there should be the Dharma Rain before the Buddha taught the Dharma.
Sutra: ‘Rumbling the great Dharma Thunder to make all things enlightened. The lands of Buddhas illuminated all with great light.’
When the Vanquishing method is performed, sometimes the sounds of thunder and ground-shaking are heard; this then is Buddha’s ‘making all things enlightened’ with the sound of thunder. Humans’ mind is originally pure, but such purity is covered by the karma produced from things having been done by humans through accumulated lifetimes. This is why it is difficult for them to listen to the Dharma just from the spoken words. You get a little startled by the sound of thunder, and at that startling moment, the light of purity is revealed. Even if the revealing time is very short, as long as your pure nature is uncovered, and when it happens exactly at the time that Dharma is being taught, you will receive benefits and moistening as well as blessings and protection from the Dharma.

Sometimes, when the Vanquishing method is performed, the sound of the thunder is heard and the shaking of the ground is felt. This is not superstition; it is completely stated in sutras. This doesn’t mean that Esoteric Buddhism is remarkable, either; rather, it indicates that if a practitioner has achieved attainments, there will be such an occurrence. The ‘attainments’ here does not mean attaining the state of Buddhahood, but at least the said practitioner has mastered his or her practices in accordance with methods of the Right Dharma. Then this type of phenomenon will appear. It doesn’t happen every time though. It is related to the situation that whether or not participants of the puja, at which this Dharma method is performed, have sincerity in their mind. If they are not sincere about the Dharma, then, even if the Buddha were present in front of them, it is useless to them.

This passage is about the phenomena that the Buddha demonstrated and showed to the Brahman King (the great brahman Devaraja) when he implored the Buddha for the Dharma. If no one had implored for the Dharma, the Buddha would not demonstrate these good omens. These signs indicated that the Brahman King was attuned to the Buddha. It was as if the Buddha said, ‘I will do what you have implored for and have vowed to achieve. ’A practitioner’s producing such signs is not a superstition, nor does it mean that he or she is remarkable. It is just that because the practitioner helps sentient beings with the Right Dharma, Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and yidams are attuned to the practitioner and those sentient beings. As long as the helps are not done for fame and profit, there is the attunement, and then some signs will appear.
Why is there a need for these signs to appear? It is because that people are used to having a sense of feelings; if they don’t have a feeling on something, they would think such a thing is ineffective. Also, there were sayings about these signs ever since the Buddha had started turning the Dharma wheel, therefore, occurrences of such signs are absolutely not superstition. From the perspective of sciences, these things happen because the Dharma can sway a locale’s magnetic field and energy. It is like what I said earlier today that some places are impure and they need to be cleansed by the awe-inspiring power of the Buddha and Bodhisattvas, therefore, the energy of these places will produce changes for them.
When the energy changes, there are certainly some signs appearing. People who understand Electronics know that when energy changes, there will definitely be some phenomena happening, and sounds emerged. This is the same concept as what we just talked about. Don’t be superstitious on these things then. Otherwise, there might be someone, at the back of some venue, faking thundering sound to let you hear it, or doing something to pretend a Bodhisattva (a statue of it) swaying. Before I learned Buddhism, some people once said that there was a certain Buddhist place, which was very effective. In there, when you stood in front of a statue of Avalokiteshvara, the statue would sway, which meant that you did very well on your practices. I went to the place too. That statue did sway when I stood in front of it, but the swaying movement stopped after I stepped back for a few steps. Later, I stood at the side of the statue and looked; I found that it would sway if one stood there within a certain range, and the movement would stop if the person was outside of that range. It seemed that something was installed below the statue, but I didn’t (and don’t) know what it was.

It was unlike the event in Japan when I was there in 2019. That statue of Avalokiteshvara is not mine and it has been enshrined in that temple for a thousand years; the statue was carved from wood. It was swaying back and forth (when I was chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra), not shaking like being charged generally by electricity. At that time, many of my disciples who went there with me saw the occurrence, and so did the temple’s abbot. Such a phenomenon is mentioned in sutras. In the Sutra of Upasaka Precepts, it is indicated that when your practices and mantra-chanting have reached a certain state, and when you make offerings to a Buddha statue by chanting mantras, the statue will sway and the ground will shake. In addition, there will be a very fragrant scent smelled. These are all derived from a cultivation state. Why does the air become fragrant? It is because the air has been cleansed. Look at our Center. No matter how polluted the outside air is, once I enter into this venue and chant mantras, the air here becomes clean, therefore, when you come here, the clean air makes your breathing easier and you get healthier, too.
Sutra: ‘The ground in the world shook, destroying the Demon Palace and terrifying Papiyas.’
On all Buddhas’ land, not only Shakyamuni Buddha’s or Amitabha’s, as long as it is the land of a Buddha, the Buddha’s light illuminated all. The “world” does not refer to the Earth, but places in the entire universe where sentient beings live. The ground shook in all these places because the Dharma and the light of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas were radiated and spread over the ground; the shake even destroyed the Demon Palace and terrified the Demon King, Papiyas.
Sutra: ‘Break down the walls of city of afflictions and drop the nets of perceptions. Stay far away from “black Dharmas” and give rise to “white Dharmas”.’
Break down all the walls of city of afflictions and drop the nets of your perceptions. What does ‘drop the nets of perceptions’ mean? We need to break away from the hindrances of knowledge. If they are broken away it will be easier to break away from the hindrances of affliction because you can sense what grieves or distresses you have. However, it is very hard to break away from the hindrances of knowledge. When your own opinions are formed you will quite stubbornly believe that you know what is right. Then it is very difficult to break away from such self-views. It is just like some disciples recently; they thought that ‘this is how we are; we are not wrong.’ When you have such an attitude you have a big net of perceptions, enclosing yourself in it.

How do you know that you have self-views? When you think you are right, read the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas immediately to see where you can find verses that say you are right on what you have done. If what are mentioned in it are completely different from what you have acted with your body, speech and mind, you know then that you have again fallen into the net of self-perceptions. The longer you have practiced the easier it is for you to think you are right. Because you have not attained Emptiness you have a very strong sense of self-perceptions. Thus, demons like you very much. Having self-perceptions is impossible to give rise to the mindset of bodhicitta of Emptiness, therefore, you will have anxieties or distresses, and then fall into reincarnation, which will greatly delight demons.
The Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center has always been transmitting the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas, which focuses on the subject of self-perceptions (all viewpoints). What are said in sciences are not 100% correct, but many people still think they are. It is because when a viewpoint is formed a person would easily use it as an inference to things. For example, many people believe that human species evolved from apes. This is impossible, however, in terms of the Dharma. If such evolution occurred why are there still apes now? Sciences are contradictory nowadays. It is clearly said that the genes of humans and apes are not 100% the same; there is only a little bit of difference. Then, why aren’t humans transformed into apes? Since genes would change, and as the difference in genes between humans and apes is only 0.1%, why wouldn’t the latter’s off-springs become humans? The theory is very contradictory, and is so-called viewpoint. The inference is like this: apes walked from North Africa, passed through somewhere and then turned into humans. The more you hear about it the stranger you think it is because this is not mentioned in sutras. In them, it is said that in the Six Realms sentient beings exist in a different realm based on their karma. If you are a human in this life, you are not necessarily a human in the next one; if what you have done in this life are like what animals do, and you don’t believe in cause and effect, you will be reborn as animals in the next life.
Those who act greedily in this life and are reluctant to make offerings and give charity will fall into the Hungry Ghost Realm in the next life. This is totally the consequence of what people do while living and is not because they are transformed from something into that realm. This is the result of perceptions. When explaining it this way you will understand it better. To put it simply, if you don’t agree with some things but a person keeps telling you about them, your perceptions will be led to the same views. You will then think the person is right. Here is another example. On beliefs or doctrines, you think that this one is good and that one is bad. However, someone thinks that bad one is good for him or her, and it is bad to you only because you don’t accept it. This is so-called perception as well.
Once you have such a perception it is very difficult to break away from it. For example, Chinese people prefer sons to daughters. Nowadays, this is still a firmly-established thought in some places that sons can inherit family fortune, but daughters might not. Many of my disciples have encountered this kind of situation. This is from a perception that money should not be given to married daughters but to sons who ‘belong to the family’ (because of their bearing the family surname at all time). When perceptions are formed, it is really difficult to change them. Thus, to persons having taken refuge to learn Buddhism, the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas is very important to your thoughts, words and actions.
‘Stay far away from “black Dharmas” and give rise to “white Dharmas”.’ The term ‘black Dharmas’ refers to all things you do or say that will have a chance for you falling into reincarnation; all things you do that can benefit sentient beings and help you get liberated from reincarnation are called ‘white Dharmas’. It is because of the appearance of the Buddha that we have been taught to stay far away from ‘black Dharmas’ and give rise to ‘white Dharmas’; the latter do not arise unaccountably in that we must first stay far away from the former. This conception is expressed in two sentences, as part of the Refuge Prayer you recited when you took refuge, and they are these: ‘Commit no evil acts, and do many good deeds.’ Any evil acts, even just a little one, will not make the good to appear. Do not think that if you recite the name of Avalokiteshvara every day, the Bodhisattva will protect you. No, you will not get such protection because you do evil acts.
The two sentences, ‘Commit no evil acts, and do many good deeds.’, are very important. ‘Commit no evil acts’ means you cannot even have an evil thought. ‘Do many good deeds’ means doing all things with virtuous methods you have been taught. Even if you are unable to do them you still need to believe in them, and you cannot do whatever you want, thinking that ‘I would do this thing first and then make a repentance to Rinpoche later.’ It will be too late. For example, a disciple who sought an audience with me yesterday, said that his son’s health is not good, and so on. He already stretched out his hands with an envelope to make an offering to me, and my attendant also walked over intending to take it. However, when he saw the attendant coming, he turned his hands to the other side. This was because he still had a lot to say to me so he didn’t want to make the offering yet. Do you say it was right?
I told him then, ‘Your taking refuge in me does not mean that you want to learn Buddhism. Rather, it was because you knew that I have methods to help people, you came and took refuge in me. You don’t even have a mindset to make offerings!’ He certainly wanted to ‘punish’ me by forcing me to hear his whole story first; only then would he make his offering.
There was another person, a believer, who had an audience with me yesterday. He said, ‘Rinpoche, I have participated in the yearly Grand Puja four or five times.’ I said it was very good he had done that; I could have even said, and almost did, ‘Good, indeed! Good, indeed!’ He went on to say, ‘Rinpoche, I am having my teeth implanted now and I cannot eat because this dental process is hurting my teeth very much; I am losing weight. Rinpoche, can you help me not to lose weight?’ It is this type of people who are muddled coming to seek my guidance. If the dental implant hurts, ask your dentist to help; if you can’t eat, ask for the help from a doctor of traditional Chinese medicine, and if it still doesn’t work, go to consult a doctor of western medicine! He actually came to ask me such a question. I really have no ways to help him. In addition, he even threatened me to help him because of his past participation in the Grand Puja.
There was yet another believer who came yesterday and did the same thing too. His wife had an Aortic dissection aneurysm. I said to him, ‘You don’t believe in me.’ He then also said, ‘I have been in the Grand Puja.’ Why did I say he didn’t believe in me? It was because he had gone to many places and doctors, seeking help for his wife, but to no avail. Only then did he think of me. I said, ‘If your wife has good fortune, you would have come to me for help at the very beginning. You only think of me now? I am, therefore, just one “dose” of all the medicine you have for your wife, and you just want to see if this “dose” would work.’ Nevertheless, I still blessed him a little bit because ‘he had attended the Grand Puja several times’, right?
I have now discovered a very serious issue. Many disciples and believers think that as long as they have ever attended the yearly Grand Puja I have held, I must help them and deal with all their problems, as if I owe them something. You came to my Grand Puja; I never charged you a penny for it; I performed the Dharma for you. Do I owe you? I even paid for it! The believers who came to see me had all been introduced by you. It was not just these two who said such statements, there were many others who spoke to me the same way.

What they meant was that they know me now because they had attended the Grand Puja. I owe them a favor then, so I must help them. This way, it will make me very tired. In every Grand Puja I said very clearly that the Puja was for me to help people form affinities with Amitabha. It was up to them to make their own decision whether or not they would practice in the future. I also said that there are many other Buddhist centers out there so they could choose one and go there for their activities!
It is not that they are not allowed to ask for my help, but they should not treat it as a buy-and-sell transaction, as if I owe them and I have to pay my debt by helping them. In their mind, they relied on the fact that they had attended the Grand Puja but with a notion that without their participation the Puja would not have existed. They then thought I owe them something.
I do not mean that you should introduce those who have a right faith, but at least talk to them first. Let them know clearly that I will absolutely accept their requests for help but they are not to make such a ‘prank’ on me. In general, I will help believers who have come seeking my help, however, they should not have such an attitude that ’You must help me because I have been in the Grand Puja.’ When there are no affinities between them and me, or when they have no faith in me, how can I help them?
This is exactly what is called the net of perceptions. They think that because I am a practitioner, I have to be compassionate, therefore, I must help them whatever they want, which are kept in their thoughts; these thoughts are self-views. You all need to understand one thing: I can help you in solving all your problems without even regarding my own life. However, do not take advantage of me, thinking that you can do that just because I learn Buddhism. Do not have such an idea. You will not treat other people like this. Then why do you treat me so? Is it because I am compassionate?

My compassion is not just for you. It is just like last week that a female disciple of mine passed away and her daughter called here from Hong Kong to give the information. Upon hearing the news, I immediately gave my blessings to that disciple! Before dying from cancer, a person absolutely feels excruciating pain, suffering incessantly to the last breath. Because she was my disciple and her daughter made the call herself, I blessed this disciple to help her relieve all her pain; she then passed away peacefully. She had told her caregiver that I would help and lead her at her death. She did not practice while alive but she believed in me, and that was why she did not suffer before she died. Cancer is a very painful disease. There are no cancer patients who do not feel pain before passing away; it is not possible that they don’t suffer until their last breath. Doctor-disciple Xie of western medicine has seen many cancer patients. (Rinpoche turned to Dr. Xie and said this.) ‘Explain it to everyone then.’”

Doctor-disciple Xie gave the following explanation. “Honestly speaking, cancer is a disease that is still not understood in medical practices, and is only known for the phenomena it produces. In the processes of cancer’s mutation and growth, it metastasizes to different parts of the body; wherever that part is, like bones, brain, lungs, intestines, et cetera, there are bad symptoms showing. For example, if it is nerve system, such a system might get broken, pressured or cause delirium. If it is lungs area, lungs will have pleural effusion, which makes breathing difficult, and the pain is very unendurable. Even when morphine is used to relieve the pain, because it has a form and a weight, its pressure on the body keeps the pain continuing; such suffering cannot be solved by any medicine. So far, the situation is that even a cancer patient faints by a very strong dose of cancer treatments, he or she shows bodily struggle with a hideous face, which makes those who see it feeling unacceptable and grievous.”
Rinpoche continued the teachings. “Why does it happen this way? It is because this makes the deceased, before death, have a heavily afflicted mind, which is distracted and disturbed. In the case of that disciple, if her mind were in such a state, she would have forgotten her guru, the Buddha, Bodhisattvas and the sutras she had chanted before. Why did I bless her so that she would not feel pain? It was to let her have no worries with a mind undistracted, undisturbed and still remembering me. In this way, she would not be suffering and auspicious signs appeared immediately. At that time, I did not perform the Phowa for her yet; I just blessed her from a distance.
Don’t take advantage of me then. If you do, I won’t do the same to you, however, the Dharma Protector Achi will start watching you. We are all laity; why do you want to take advantage of the elderly? It is like that if I have made an appointment to meet with you at a certain time today but I don’t show up, you would be displeased. Or, in another occasion, you might say, ‘Not today; tomorrow then.’ Nevertheless, there is not even a phone call from you the next day. What will happen then after this? You have lost your credibility, right?
You don’t wish that there is no credibility in your children, right? In the case just mentioned, of course, I won’t trust him in the future, because he just says things casually. This is from self-views in that he thinks that doing businesses is to make money, therefore, things should be compromised so as to get the deals through and the money made. This is not right. Being rich doesn’t mean being a master or an important person. Wherever I go as a consumer I am always polite to stores’ servicing people because they serve me. You want to let people remember your goodness, because not everyone is like me that I remember others’ kindness, and don’t hold enmity in my heart. In general, people are opposite that they hold enmity, rather than gratitude, in their heart.
Do not think that just because, in society, you are a little bit famous, rich or in high position you can be overbearing or you don’t need to keep your promises. It is not that I am afraid of you; it is for your own good because you will harm yourself in the future if you act like that. Today, my having opened stores for selling various products is precisely to train you not to be overbearing. Are you terrific because you have money? Don’t merchants need capital to do businesses? Don’t they need to train their employees to service you? If, today, we have good fortune for making consumption on merchandise, we let those employees earn salaries. Isn’t that making offerings and giving charity? You gain good fortune instead!

Learning Buddhism is a little different from the ways people generally live and think. Those who learn Buddhism understand that all things are to be given out willingly. The idea of ‘giving out things’ does not mean spending money like water flowing aimlessly; it refers to the attitude you should have towards people who service you, and it is that you are to be grateful. Do not think just because they earn salaries these servers must service you. You need to know that they don’t take salaries from you. How do you know whether their bosses can lose money or not? It is like the travel agency I run that it did not have any businesses last year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, I didn’t deduct a penny from my employees’ salaries; I used the income I had received from past trips of overseas-puja-groups to support these employees.

We, as people learning Buddhism, should not be so narrow-minded, thinking only of ourselves. It is like the situation that while Shakyamuni Buddha already attained Buddhahood and had no afflictions anymore, why did He want to turn the Dharma wheel again when the Brahman King came to implore for it, which would make Him work very hard? It was because to Shakyamuni Buddha there was only ‘giving’, and no ‘receiving’. If, at the present time, we cannot do acts in the state of what the Buddha was in when He had done deeds, at least we should learn His methods and do our best as much as possible within our own capability. Saying a few good words to others is also an act of giving charity and making an offering. Do not live your daily life full of anger or a feeling of egotism. If you live like that, the society and the country will be in trouble.

Sutra: ‘For the Buddha’s giving out food as charity, such a food can be accepted and then digested so as to subdue sentient beings, and to propagate the wonderful principles of the Dharma.’

The food in ‘the Buddha’s giving out food as charity’ is not the material kind we usually see; this food is the Dharma. It makes sentient beings full after ‘tasting’ the Dharma. ‘Being full’ here does not mean the usual sense of ‘eating one’s fill’; rather, it is described this way because sentient beings originally did not have the Dharma. For example, when I perform the Chod, to those sentient beings who have come for the ritual, what I give out as alms is food, but actually it is not food – it is the Dharma. As they treat the alms as food, once they are full after eating it, they will listen to what I, as the practitioner presiding over the ritual, teach, and accept the liberation. If they feel that such a food will make them unwell, they will not eat it, and then they will not be liberated.

With compassion of Emptiness, any of the Buddha’s acts had been done to help sentient beings break away from afflictions and perceptions, therefore, He used all kinds of methods. ‘The Buddha’s giving out food as charity’ does not mean that He cooked food for sentient beings to eat. It means that through supernatural powers He gave alms to those in the Hungry Ghost and Animal Realms with kinds of food they could eat, and then it ‘could be accepted and then digested’.

‘Can be accepted and then digested so as to subdue sentient beings’ is the key point. Can sentient beings accept and then digest the food? For example, if many foods are put together to worship ghosts, they can only smell these foods, but they definitely cannot eat and then digest it. This is because without the blessings of mantras, those ghosts certainly are unable to do it. It is like when I perform the Chod, I give my body as alms to sentient beings to eat. If I do not do that through my practices, they cannot eat this food, nor can they digest it. How do they digest it? This is how: All that is contained in the food that sentient beings eat is the Dharma; when it ‘gets’ to their desires, it ‘digests’ the desires. Without desires, sentient beings can then listen to the Dharma. If I don’t understand the Chod or if I have no experiences in practices, this quote cannot really be explained.

‘To subdue sentient beings’ means to subdue them for their disobedience and their being difficult to tame and teach, so then they can accept the Dharma. ‘To propagate the wonderful principles of the Dharma’ means this: After having eaten alms, sentient beings’ hatred is eliminated – digested – then their pure essence naturally appears, therefore, they are able to listen to and understand the Dharma, and accept it so as to get liberated. If you chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra just to wish your sons to be healthy, what will your karmic creditors do? Do you think that your chanting can be dedicated to them? They will not ‘digest’ it! It is because you chant the mantra with hatred, resentments, greed and ignorance on self-ability.

Why are there so few people performing the Chod? It is because once the food is given, if those sentient beings cannot digest it, they will not accept the Dharma and cannot be liberated. They will then not want to leave; at that time, all ghosts are staying. I have started performing the Chod since 1997. This Center was established in 2005 and to this day, I have performed the Chod once a month. Every time, there are countless ghosts coming in to the Center for the ritual. If I had not liberated all of them, and if there were just one ghost remaining, you would not endure the situation. In Chod pujas, those sentient beings you ‘bring in’ with you have been harmed by you, so they are full of hatred and resentments in their hearts. By this sentence alone none of you present has the capability to liberate them.

There are no other Dharma methods that make me being able to do it. The only method is that I listen to my guru and I believe in him; then I do it. It is said by many people that performing the Phowa will make that practitioner having a short life. No matter the life is long or short, I have at least lived to the age of 74 so far, therefore, what are mentioned in sutras can absolutely be done and what are taught in them are complete truth. If you cannot accomplish the deeds, it is because you are not willing to do them. Do not say this again, ‘This is not the Dharma method I want to learn.’ What I have taught you are all from sutras; they are not invented by me. Since they are based on sutras, you cannot say, ‘The Dharma taught by Rinpoche is not what I want.’ Of course, it is not what you want because I do not satisfy your ideas, thoughts or perceptions. Thus, what I teach on the Dharmas are certainly not what you want.

Expounding sutras is not just simply explaining words themselves. If the expounder does not have experiences in his or her own practices, this quote cannot be explained. I am able to know it clearly because I perform the Chod every month. I do it based on the Right Dharma taught by the Buddha, not on some thoughts of my own; this way, sentient beings naturally accept it. Why is there such a situation that while the Chod has been performed continuously there have been the deceased coming unceasingly to get liberated? It is because they are found by the Buddha and Bodhisattvas, who naturally help me achieve attainment of performing this Dharma in this Center to benefit sentient beings. This has the same meaning as what I taught you earlier today that all Bodhisattvas helped and protected the Buddha from demons so as to accomplish His attaining Buddhahood. I dare not say that, at this Center, whether or not the practices done or puja performances held are good, but I dare say that they are proceeded in the direction of Right Dharma. Also, you have been helped in many matters.

In the later part of the Infinite Life Sutra, it is about teaching Bodhisattvas how to practice. I will expound this section in the future.”

« Previous Puja Teachings Next »

Updated on September 16, 2021