His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – March 28, 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.

“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.’

Only after the Buddha’s giving out food as charity, can sentient beings’ greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt be subdued, and only then, can they listen to the wonderful Dharma. ‘Wonderful’ here does not refer to the usual meaning of ‘marvelous’ or ‘incredible’; it means that the Dharma Shakyamuni Buddha transmitted to help us be liberated from birth and death is wonderful Dharma. No matter who are explaining the Dharma, whether Masters of Schools of Buddhism or Bodhisattvas, these teachers expound and propagate the wonderful Dharma on behalf of the Buddha by the teachings of their gurus and the Buddha, and also by the experiences from their own practices.

Sutra: ‘Or, seeing the smile radiating hundreds of thousands of rays of light.’

Usually, the Buddha does not smile. The Buddha’s smiles definitely are related to sentient beings’ cultivation because He sees that there are people willing to practice the Dharma. A statue of Vajrasattva shows a smiling face. This is because Vajrasattva is seeing there are persons who have determined to practice the Dharma methods of Vajrasattva, which can cleanse their karmic hindrances accumulated from past lifetimes, and these people can have opportunities learning the Dharma and the Bodhisattva Path; they can then move forward to attain Buddhahood. Thus, a smiling face is shown on a statue of Vajrasattva. It is the same for the Buddha as to why He smiles.

To practice the Dharma methods of Vajrasattva, one should thoroughly repent about one’s thoughts, words and actions. Repentances made so as to eliminate the hindrances in one’s own practicing and learning of Buddhism are real repentances. They are not used to exchange for a good life for oneself in the future; they are not made in order to gain fame either. Some people think, ‘I killed many sentient beings before, and now I have cancer. After I repent, they will let go of me and then my cancer will get cured.’ This is not a repentance; rather, this is a buy-and-sell exchange. Why do you seem to be better after you have made repentances? It is because when you repent in accordance with the Dharma principles, the negative karma created by your thoughts, words and actions will stop forming. Your good fortune is then arising, which can certainly hold off a little bit of negative karma, even making it unmoved. With the arising of the sense of making real repentances, one no longer commits bad deeds, therefore, there are naturally no new negative causes forming, and no new negative effects producing.

Many people make repentances for themselves. Such a thought is an example: ‘I repent for my not attaining realization as my karmic hindrances are profoundly heavy, so my repentances can make me attain realization.’ This is also a repentance for oneself; a person who can say such a statement shows that he or she has not yet made repentances. The reason for not attaining realization is that one’s greed, hatred and ignorance from accumulated past lifetimes make one naturally foolish and ignorant in this life. Being foolish and ignorant doesn’t mean being stupid; the fact is that if one is cleverer, one is less likely being able to attain realization. For those who are foolish and ignorant, they don’t understand that their negative karma, accumulated from past lifetimes, of greed, hatred and ignorance, which are generated from their thoughts, words and actions, only makes them not being able to attain realization in this life. If they have not made repentances, there are absolutely no smiles coming from the Buddha. The Buddha smiles because He sees that sentient beings really know what problems they have, and they are determined, by following their gurus’ and the Buddha’s teachings, to do their practices in step-by-step processes, with one step at a time.

The Buddha smiles ‘radiating hundreds of thousands of rays of light’ to bless all sentient beings in the Six Realms. Because you have practiced, the compassion of the Buddha and your little compassion are attuned to each other; then the Buddha blesses sentient beings in the Six Realms. You also have a share in the merits of the Buddha’s blessings because you are part of sentient beings. This is because you have the sense of making repentances and the sense of a complete willingness to practice so as to leave the reincarnation’s sea of suffering; these senses are attuned to the Buddha’s helping sentient beings. Why is there the Buddha? Because sentient beings are reincarnating in the sea of suffering, as long as the Buddha senses that a certain sentient being has determined to get liberated from reincarnation, He is pleased.

Do not repent every day, because of your being wrong every day, without making corrections on things or on yourself. Why is the Thirty-seven Practices of Bodhisattvas so important? It is because each Practice in it tells you to amend yourself. If you say you cannot do what are indicated in this guide, the Buddha, Bodhisattvas and your guru definitely will not be attuned to you. Since they are not, you can only rely on your own negligible or tiny, dust-like sense of goodness to practice. Such a dust-like power certainly cannot make you achieve attainments. Yet, sentient beings consider that they can practice by just relying on themselves. They think, ‘I implore to Avalokiteshvara every day, and then Avalokiteshvara will help me in my practices.’ No, this won’t happen. You must change yourself from the bottom of your heart and in sequential order. If you cannot change your heart or mind, you definitely will not be attuned to the mind of your guru. No matter what your guru teaches, you either don’t listen to them or you don’t understand them. It is not because I speak broken Mandarin with a Cantonese accent. Even if I speak a very standard Mandarin with a Taiwanese accent, you will still don’t understand what I teach. Your mind is completely different from mine, so they are naturally not attuned to each other.

Some people think, ‘I cannot master the Dharma methods that Rinpoche teaches; they are not what I want to learn.’ Learning Buddhism is not like going to universities or colleges that you can select courses to study. There are 84,000 Dharma methods and, at the end, they all lead to just one method – getting liberated from birth and death and attaining Buddhahood. The 84,000 kinds of Dharma methods are explained to sentient beings based on their different affliction. When one thinks that he or she cannot do, or does not understand, a certain method, it shows what that person’s affliction is. Or, if someone feels that I pointed out his fault and deliberately mentioned it, this then is also his worry. If one is so much troubled by one’s affliction, such a person certainly does not know about repentances, and must still wallow in the mundane world; even if he or she recites or chants every day, nevertheless, that life is still floundering. The Buddha definitely does not smile at this type of sentient beings. Naturally, they will not receive His blessings, and such sentient beings’ good fortune, merits, causes and conditions will not arise either. Do not think that if, every day, you chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, sit in meditation or do grand prostrations, you can be reborn in the Pure Land. It is not that simple.

Sutra: ‘Ascending the steps of empowerments and receiving the bestowed assurance of bodhicitta.’

To become a Bodhisattva or a Buddha, you must advance to a higher stage, and this means to receive empowerments. The meaning of giving an empowerment is to grant an authorization to a practitioner that ‘you can do practices on this yidam or this Dharma method.’ In sutras, there is no mention of Exoteric or Esoteric Buddhism, because when the Buddha expounded the Dharma, He did not distinguish the aspects between Exoteric and Esoteric. His teachings were just based on differences in sentient beings’ root capacity.

After Tang Dynasty, Tantra disappeared in the ‘middle earth’ – China – and Tibetan Tantra had not been transmitted to Han ethnicity. For the word ‘empowerment’ mentioned in sutras, people think it is a term; actually, it means that it is a part of Tantra. If you want to learn Tantra, you cannot be advanced to a higher stage without receiving empowerments; once you receive them, you can then have opportunities to move up from a sentient being in reincarnation to one being able to be liberated from it, even to become a Bodhisattva. It is not possible to be like that if you have not received empowerments, or if you have received them but have not been transmitted those related Dharma methods to practice. The gurus who bestow empowerments need to observe precepts and do their practices according to the Dharma principles. Monastics have the precepts of the ordained to abide by. If they do not observe these precepts, the empowerments they bestow will not do. Does a lay guru observe precepts or respect his or her lineage? Yes. Then the empowerments bestowed by such a guru are formal ‘granting of authorization’. Otherwise, they are forming-affinity empowerments – in form only but there is no power in them. This is because such empowerments are not attuned to the yidam.

Someone once asked me, ‘Is there a patent for the Great Six-Syllable Mantra?’ Of course; there is. Even if one has heard it chanted, but has not received its empowerment, chanting it by this person will not be of use, because this person has not advanced to a higher stage and is still in a practicing stage for ordinary people. Even if people have received empowerments, and if they don’t listen to, don’t accept, or don’t do what their gurus have taught about the Dharma, these people have no ways to advance to a higher stage. Many of my disciples are scolded or punished by me because they don’t follow what I have taught. Once you have received empowerments, every word your guru says, whether you think it is right or wrong, is the Dharma. If you think, ‘What he says have nothing to do with me and are not about the Dharma; rather, what have been taught interfere with my life.’, then the empowerments have no benefits to you.

Two weeks ago, I taught you that parents should not prefer sons to daughters. A disciple came yesterday to implore me for liberating her husband. Her two daughters have taken refuge in me, but not her son. They came here yesterday. I asked her, ‘Is your son a vegetarian?’ My asking her this way indicated that he was not one. She answered that he, at that time, was starting eating vegetarian. As she said this, I understood clearly. I said, ‘Your husband worried about this son the most. You are thinking to give all your property to him, not to your daughters. Since you implored me for getting your husband liberated, you need to do grand prostrations 300 times.’

This mother intended to give all her property to her son, thinking that he would take care of her in the future and her daughters would marry, belonging to others then. For some of my female disciples, they have not been distributed family property when their family members passed away because the family itself has not been willing to let these disciples share the property. I persuaded them to accept the situation; otherwise, there will be lawsuits. Even if there are no legal issues, there will be hatred and resentments arising in the family. Any trivial matters will generate such feelings. Even this disciple (the mother I just mentioned) has received empowerments, she will not advance to a higher stage because she does not listen. You all select those words that you yourself like to listen to. If you think what I say don’t matter to you, you don’t listen to them.

Then, there are another mother and her son. In the first place, the son participated in a harmonica contest so he had not attended pujas. After the contest was completed, he came to implore for attending pujas and he also proudly said that he had won the first prize. They thought it was okay because they had reported to me in advance about the contest and related matters. At that time, because the mother had already supported the son’s decision to enter the contest, I didn’t need to say more about the whole thing to them. Otherwise, they would have grumbled in their heart, which would have been slandering the Buddha. Thus, I said nothing more for I simply did not want to give them the opportunity to slander the Buddha. Now, they came seeking an audience with me. I only asked her, ‘Have you seen anyone in Taiwan making a living by playing a harmonica as a job?’

I don’t mean that your children cannot have entertainments. You know that your children’s learning Buddhism is good for them but you let this child enter a contest so that he was not attending pujas. The child’s mother also thought that after the contest the child could then implore for participating pujas. This exactly showed their disrespect to the Dharma. When the child was very young, his mother brought him here to get him taking refuge in me, only wishing that I will protect her son to grow up peacefully. She has the money for him to join a harmonica social club, while having no money to offer the support of the temple construction project. I never regret for letting sentient beings grow up happily and healthily. However, those who have received benefits should be grateful and should not simply use the Buddha, Bodhisattvas and your guru. That is not good because in this way you will never have compassion and bodhicitta; then how can you be reborn in the Land of Amitabha? It is mentioned in the Amitabha Sutra, ‘Good men and women must have no lack of good fortune, merits, causes and conditions.’ Thus, I will not accept this female disciple’s offerings since she wants to save lots of money in the future to support many of her son’s extracurricular activities.

From these two examples, you can ask, ‘Exactly how many people are there who really listen to what Rinpoche says?’

Why do you need to receive empowerments and then advance to a higher stage? It is not because after these you will be different from others; rather, it is for you to be qualified, to have conditions and be capable to learn the Bodhisattva Path, and then move further to give rise to bodhicitta. Many people think that there will be bodhicitta arisen by just reciting or chanting. No, it is not so. After your receiving empowerments and advancing to a higher stage, the guru will teach you the practicing methods of the yidam and these are stages of ‘generation’ and ‘completion’. After these, the guru will then transmit the Dharma methods of Action Tantra and Performance Tantra, two of the four groups in Esoteric Buddhism. You continuously practice the Dharma methods of the yidam, and through the blessings of the yidam, the bodhicitta is arisen in you.

Why are you unable to give rise to bodhicitta? It is because you have not received empowerments. Even if you have, you still doubt what your guru teaches; you think you can master your practices by just relying on yourself. If your guru has granted an empowerment to you but you have not completed the required number of counts on chanting the yidam’s mantra, you are not attuned to the yidam, therefore, such an empowerment is of no use to you. This quote is very important. The Buddha hid the definition of Tantra practices in the Infinite Life Sutra. Some people say that the Buddha did not speak of Tantra. From here we can see that the Buddha transmitted Tantra because only Esoteric Buddhism contains empowerments and in Exoteric Buddhism, there are none.

Whenever I grant you an empowerment, I always say to you very clearly that you will not receive blessings if you do six things; nevertheless, many of you have not gotten that through your head. This quote was said by the Buddha. I have never read the Infinite Life Sutra, but I have read the Amitabha Sutra before. I implored Shakyamuni Buddha for letting me teach another section of the sutra which will be useful to my disciples. As a result, when I opened the sutra for this puja, the section shown in front of me was exactly this one.

‘Ascending the steps of empowerments and receiving the bestowed assurance of bodhicitta.’ Who will make bestowed assurance? They are the Buddha and the yidam. As long as you practice this Dharma method, you will receive the bestowed assurance that bodhicitta can definitely be arisen, and then ultimate bodhicitta is to appear. Practicing to attain Buddhahood is done in sequential order. Without receiving empowerments, one cannot advance to a higher stage; without accepting the teachings of one’s guru, one cannot receive the bestowed assurance of bodhicitta. Without bodhicitta, a Bodhisattva is merely one made in bronze or clay. A Bodhisattva is precisely bodhicitta. My ordained disciples have practiced for decades but they don’t know how to practice to get bodhicitta arisen. If it is given to you, it doesn’t mean that you have it. Bodhicitta is a wonderful jewel. This is indicated in the Prayer of An Exhortation to Bring Forth the Bodhicitta Resolve: ‘Wishing bodhicitta to be arisen for those who do not have it yet; wishing bodhicitta to be retained for those who already have it.’ Who helps you to get it arisen? Your guru. Yet, you still don’t listen!

When bodhicitta is arisen in you, many things will naturally be transformed from ‘black karma’ to ‘white karma’. Contrarily, all of you don’t listen and don’t believe in the Dharma. You like to do practices your own ways. You think, ‘The Dharma is the Dharma, and my home is my home. My daily life has nothing to do with the Dharma.’ Then, that means you have decided that you have nothing to do with the Dharma. The Dharma is not for you to implore for protection; the Buddha’s vow is wishing all sentient beings can attain Buddhahood.

Sutra: ‘Or, on the path of attaining Buddhahood and seeing to enter into Nirvana to completely make all countless sentient beings get liberated.’

After you have advanced to the steps of empowerments and received the bestowed assurance of bodhicitta, you are ‘walking’ on the path of attaining Buddhahood, even entering the state of Nirvana Without Residue. Through this kind of practicing method, besides getting bodhicitta in yourself and being able to attain Buddhahood and to enter the state of Nirvana Without Residue, you can even help all countless sentient beings get liberated from reincarnation with none remaining in it.

If the Buddha were to let you get the good fortune of the Human and the Heaven realms, He would have spoken of it here. In other words, in Amitabha’s Pure Land, one is not to enjoy happiness. Since the Buddha’s vow is getting sentient beings to be able to attain Buddhahood, is it possible that He will let someone being reborn in that Pure Land who does not want any illness or suffering? Of course, it is not possible. From this section of the sutra, the induction is that Amitabha’s vow is not to let you ‘go’ there for enjoying a happy life. If you have not determined in this life to get liberated from birth and death, and even if you are liberated by the practice of the Phowa, you cannot be reborn in the Pure Land. The most you will ‘go’ to is the Heaven Realm. The reason is that your purpose of being reborn is not to benefit sentient beings, but to enjoy happiness. Do not think that if you have learned the Phowa, you will definitely be reborn in the Pure Land. Rather, it is to do with your determination, your belief in your guru while you are alive or whether or not you have developed compassion and bodhicitta in you.

After every performance of Dharmas here, in the dedication prayers you recite, there is a mention that ‘wishing to attain Buddhahood for benefiting sentient beings.’ It does not say that attaining Buddhahood is to break away from all suffering. What do you base on that you think being my disciples I can help you break away from all your suffering or miseries? Even the Buddha dare not say this; what reason do I have that I can say it then? When sentient beings implore me for my help, if I cannot fulfil their wishes but have already accepted their offerings, don’t I need to come back to this world (to return something back to them)? What I teach you now is the Right Dharma; if you don’t listen to it and don’t follow the teachings, even if I have accepted your offerings, I do not owe you.

Your family matters in this life do not let you make the decision of getting liberated; how can you be reborn in the Pure Land then? It is not that I am unreasonable and impersonal; I am a layman, too. However, I have determined to get liberated, and that is why I can help sentient beings. I found this section from pages in the sutra and have expounded the part of the Dharma that you have never heard of before. Actually, this passage has always been included in sutras and the reason you have never heard it explained to you is that you did not have causal conditions and good fortune for getting the occasion of listening to it. As you are not determined to be liberated, what you have heard before about the Dharma are those subjects on how to attain realization, gain supernatural powers or liberate sentient beings. You did not hear the topics of how to reach the steps of attaining Buddhahood. If there were no such Dharma methods, how did the Buddha appear?

Sutra: ‘Matured Bodhisattvas possess boundless virtuous roots.’

Even if you don’t wish to become a Buddha right away, but wishing to continuously liberate sentient beings, you need to ‘mature’ the boundless bodhicitta of a Bodhisattva’s Dharmakaya (Dharma-body). The bodhicitta of matured Bodhisattvas on the Bodhisattva Path is boundless, limitless and inexhaustible, and this bodhicitta is also continuously existing with constant use. It is possible for the Bodhisattvas from the First Ground to the Eighth Ground to have their bodhicitta of benefiting sentient beings getting retrogressed. In Buddhist terms, for ordinary people, the word used to describe their ‘going backward’ in their practices is ‘lazy’; the word ‘retrogress’ can only be used for Bodhisattvas.

Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha said, ‘I vow not to attain Buddhahood unless and until all of the hells are empty.’ This can only be accomplished with the boundless bodhicitta, absolutely. ‘Matured’ doesn’t mean something like fruits being ripe and then falling to the ground. It means that all the Dharma methods to benefit sentient beings are all ‘matured’ – fully-developed – and are utilized freely and with ease; the propagation of the Dharma is not for one’s own fame and profit. Now, if I quickly go through the contents of this section, and expound directly the Forty-Eight Vows, you will be pleased because it is what you want to hear. The reason you like to hear these vows is that you think, ‘After hearing this subject I can then “go” to the Land of Amitabha.’ Contrarily, I am teaching you this section. It is because that, for being reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land, this section contains the most important cultivation foundation to be kept in the mind of practitioners, and without understanding this foundation you cannot be reborn in that Land. Do not think that if you recite Amitabha’s name continuously, Amitabha will come to lead you.

Shakyamuni Buddha taught us in this section that when you are still in this mundane world as ordinary people, have you, after all, decided whether or not you will do what had just been expounded? If you will not, the Forty-Eight Vows mentioned later will have nothing to do with you. Amitabha’s Forty-Eight Vows are to make sentient beings accomplish their practices. Thus, a sentient being at least needs to have a little bit of virtuous roots and if there are no such roots, how can he or she attain accomplishment? These being said, one should gain one’s virtuous roots first in that one is to train oneself on this.

Sutra: ‘In this way, being able to appear in the lands of Buddhas.’

In this section, Shakyamuni Buddha had said that learning Buddhism has a sequential order in practicing steps, with one step at a time. When you have ‘matured’ the Bodhisattva Path, you can appear in any of Buddhas’ lands.

Sutra: ‘It is like a magician who knows very well that magic can show appearances of males or females.’
Bodhisattvas appear to let you see their appearances. To them, it doesn’t matter what kind of an appearance that is, like showing as a Bodhisattva’s Nirmanakaya (emanation-body). It is like a magician playing magic tricks; if you want to see a Bodhisattva, you will see a Bodhisattva. It is also like the situation that many people will ‘see’ me when they need me. This is not that I am deliberately ‘transformed’ to let you see me; rather, as a guru, I continuously keep the thought in my mind that I want to benefit a vast number of sentient beings. I had said before that ‘whenever any sentient beings need my help, as long as they call my name, I will know.’ As I have made this vow, Dharma protectors and Bodhisattvas will help me to fulfill this vow.

This quote does not mean that what has appeared is a Bodhisattva’s Dharmakaya (Dharma-body) or Sambhogakaya (reward-body); it is the Bodhisattva’s vow that is shown to you. It is like a magician playing magic tricks to let you see certain objects. When a Bodhisattva appears, in the mind of the Bodhisattva, there is no feeling of having practiced to reach high levels or of being very amazing. It is a concept of Emptiness in causal conditions, which is interpreted as this: ‘When sentient beings implore me (the Bodhisattva) for help, they will see me; if they don’t seek my help, I will not appear.’

The words ‘appearances of males or females’ mean that a Bodhisattva appears as a man or a woman to liberate sentient beings according to their individual vows. Such an appearance is also Emptiness. The appearance of a form of either male or female is based on the mind of sentient beings; it does not mean that the Bodhisattva wants to be a man or a woman. It is mentioned in the Universal Gate Chapter, too, that if a sentient being needs to be liberated by a male form, then the Bodhisattva will appear as a male form; if a female form is needed, the appearance of a Bodhisattva will be in a female form.

Sutra: ‘In that appearance, there is really nothing to be obtained.’

Such an appearance does not have a real form. Bodhisattvas’ practicing methods are based on the principle that causal originations are Emptiness in nature. When causal conditions arise, there are causal originations, and then these conditions cease to exist. The nature of conditions is Emptiness, which does not mean non-existent. The definition of Emptiness here means ‘changeable’ or ‘not fixed’. It is not a fixed situation about what form, a male or a female, to appear when a Bodhisattva liberates sentient beings. For example, there are thirty-two emanations of Bodhisattva’s Nirmanakaya (emanation-body) for Avalokiteshvara, and these have male forms and female forms. Another instance is that the Dharma Protector Achi is in female form. The appearance of a Bodhisattva, who has come back (to benefit sentient beings), whether in a male form or a female form, does not depend on the Bodhisattva’s karma; the appearances on either form are based on sentient beings’ karma and affinity. Once this affinity comes to an end, the male form or the female form ceases to exist.

Sutra: ‘Thus, for these Bodhisattvas, by learning well the boundless magic and merits, they can show changes and the attuning to things. They can also know very well the path of changes.’

When Bodhisattvas appear, their minds are still, and the bodhicitta in them is consistent. For example, when Shakyamuni Buddha was in the practices of the Bodhisattva Path, He, in different lifetimes, had been an ape, a deer king, a peacock or a bear. When sentient beings needed Him, He appeared in a different form to help them. The term ‘Working Together’ in the Four All-Embracing Virtues means that those ‘working together’ – being together – are of the same type. It is like if liberating sentient beings in the Ghost Realm, whoever does this deed needs to be in the form of a ghost. We are now in the Human Realm, therefore, if a practitioner is to liberate sentient beings, it is impossible that he or she shows the form of a ghost, or an asura, expounding the Dharma to you. This practitioner definitely appears as a human. The Bodhisattvas we ‘see’ now are in forms of what we think they are supposed to be, however, such forms are not necessarily the same in the Six Realms. Their appearances will change based on the causes and conditions of sentient beings.

This is what the quote ‘can also know very well the path of changes’ means. A Bodhisattva understands very clearly about the principles and reasons of changes. The reason that a Bodhisattva comes and liberates sentient beings is not to gain more worship from believers or disciples, but is because of the Bodhisattva’s being very aware of the existence of causes and conditions.

Sutra: ‘Showing that the great compassion in the lands of Buddhas is seen. All sentient beings everywhere have benefited from Bodhisattvas’ vows and actions.’

Bodhisattvas can be seen in all Buddhas’ lands. ‘All sentient beings’ means sentient beings in the Six Realms, and they can all receive benefits from the Dharma. Even if we advance to a higher stage and give rise to bodhicitta, we can continuously practice until we attain Buddhahood; we can also make vows to constantly act on the Bodhisattva Path. This is because there are too many sentient beings who need help from many Bodhisattvas.

Sutra: ‘Accomplishing boundless and countless Dharma methods of truth.’

Dharma methods are countless. Based on sentient beings’ karma, affliction and all kinds of situations, countless Dharma methods, about the truth of liberating sentient beings from birth and death, are produced. ‘Boundless’ means there are no borders, and ‘countless’ means that things cannot be counted by numbers. Some people say, ‘Rinpoche said it this way yesterday but why does he change it today to a different way to tell me?’ It is because your mind has been changing, the method to help you changes accordingly. If you think I say something with just such sentences without changes later, you are wrong because you have always been changing. From your childhood to the present, how many times have you changed the ways you think? You don’t even now.

(In Chinese, the word, ‘meaning’, is pronounced as ‘yi’.) The ‘yi’ in the ‘Dharma methods of truth’ does not mean ‘meaning’; it means ‘revelation of the whole truth’. The ‘partial revelation of the whole truth’ cannot help us to get liberated from birth and death; the ‘revelation of the whole truth’ can. Bodhisattvas, on behalf of the Buddha, explain ‘revelation of the whole truth’ to sentient beings, and speak it in a way that is easy for them to understand. Once sentient beings have decided to get ‘revelation of the whole truth’ (getting liberated from birth and death), they naturally understand the explanation. If they have not determined to be liberated from birth and death, and are still concerned and have worried about many things, then, the methods on ‘revelation of the whole truth’ have nothing to do with them. For example, if you are still concerned about many matters in your family, you will not be able to be liberated from birth and death in this life. Even if I am to liberate you, at least you will leave behind the Three Evil Realms but you cannot be reborn in the Pure Land, and you still need to come back to continue to practice the Dharma in next lifetime.

The thoughts you have and the behavior you show in this life will decide how you live your next lifetime. Who decides? Yourself. The Buddha and Bodhisattvas can only exhort us. Bodhisattvas have experiences and capability to teach you, helping you achieve and learn ‘revelation of the whole truth’. If you don’t accept it, then what you have learned is ‘partial revelation of the whole truth’. There is a saying, ‘Rely on the Dharma, not the person. Rely on meanings, not words. Rely on revelation of the whole truth, not partial revelation of the whole truth.‘ This means that a practitioner’s teachings are not ‘evaluated’ by how good the explanations are, or how high a title-position or practicing stage this practitioner holds, like a head of an Order or a Rinpoche. It is to see whether or not these teachings about the Dharma have instructed or guided us towards the path of getting liberated from birth and death. If the answer is yes, such teachings are ‘revelation of the whole truth’. It is not that the practitioner is quite eloquent and adept at debate and speaks many Buddhist terms all day long, making you feel that the Dharma is a very profound knowledge, which is to be debated about the true meanings of Buddha’s teachings. The key point here is whether or not what have been spoken, demonstrated or taught to you are methods of practices towards the path of getting liberated from birth and death. If yes, this is the meaning of ‘revelation of the whole truth’.

If you are still stubborn and refuse to realize your errors, thinking that you don’t understand what I teach, then it indicates you are still ‘walking’ on the path of ‘partial revelation of the whole truth’ because you continuously have too many concerns and worries. It is more difficult for laity than the ordained to learn Buddhism because the former have families. However, your family is just from your causes and conditions in this life, and they are not permanent. If you are attached to all kinds of care and concerns of your family, you will not learn ‘revelation of the whole truth’ in this life, nor will you be liberated from birth and death.

I am not persuading you to abandon your children or your family. Having a family, on the contrary, can help you see clearly on things and reflect whether or not you have the mindset to get liberated from birth and death. If you are much worried and anxious about certain family member, it is definitely impossible for you to get liberated from birth and death in this life. Some people feel uncomfortable when there is just a little bit of disrespect shown to them by others. This is also a worry or a concern to those people and it will lead them being unable to be liberated from birth and death, too. In addition, there are some people, when hearing others gossiping about them, who will then feel wronged and sad; this sort of persons cannot get liberated from birth and death as well.

Why is the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas so important? It is because it constantly tells us to pay attention to our thoughts, words and actions. If you are not watchful for every Practice in it and do not reflect how many of these Practices you have not accomplished, then it will be impossible for you to get liberated in this life. Those who are better in their practices can be reborn in the Heaven Realm, and for those who are not as good, they will be reborn in the Human Realm. Some people say that being a human is not bad, and being in the Heaven Realm is not bad either because one can joy life there. Yet, the Buddha does not encourage us to be reborn in the Human or Heaven Realm; He encourages us to attain Buddhahood or become a Bodhisattva so as to benefit sentient beings. If you are not determined to do your practices towards this direction, and still learn Buddhism using the methods of Human and Heaven Realms, then the Dharma will not be attuned to you.

Some people say, ‘I cannot master what I have been taught.’ It is said very clearly here by the Buddha that you are not required to achieve accomplishments in this life. That is why Shakyamuni Buddha introduced Amitabha to us so that you can accomplish your practices in the Land of Amitabha in next lifetime. You will know why when the Forty-Eight Vows are explained to you. In your mind, you yourself decide your own practicing stage. As your guru, I can only exhort, teach and help you; whether or not you are able to listen to me depends completely on your decision. If now you still feel you are narrow-minded that you will not accept words of my teachings, I exhort you to amend yourself. Sentient beings are all equal in that there is no differentiation between being honorable and being humble. The reason you gain honor today must be that there are people supporting and accomplishing you. If you don’t have it, then that means you had not practiced in your past lifetimes, therefore, in this one, you have no good fortune and there is no respect shown to you by others. All things are from karma and all acts have their effects. You should know clearly about your own faults; do not be negligent or careless.

Do not think that it is okay if you have bad thoughts about things or people, or wanting to scold them. Once you are at the time to pass away and when similar types of situations are occurring, you will suddenly remember those past bad thoughts. It is because your mind has not been transformed into pure good so the bad still exists. When you are to pass away, the power of the bad is greater than that of the good, therefore, those thoughts will arise. As long as you remember a certain person having done something bad to you before, you fall into the Three Evil Realms; even if there are people beside you, doing recitation assistance for you, you will still fall into those Realms, because your thoughts at that time are all bad. You need to train yourself and keep on telling yourself to change. We do not expect others to change because we don’t have the capacity and authority to tell them making changes; we can only persuade them. Since you think you have taken refuge as a Buddhist to learn Buddhism, you should amend yourself; if you cannot, what do you base on that you can persuade others to change themselves to the ways you like?

Sutra: ‘Possessing completely all the virtuous Dharmas with connection, accessibility and equality to achieve attainment.’

All Dharmas are equal, connecting and accessible. For Rinpoches, they understand these four groups in the Esoteric Buddhism: Action Tantra, Performance Tantra, Yoga Tantra and Highest Yoga Tantra. These are practiced in a sequential order which we follow. When we have mastered them and achieved attainment, these methods can be connected with, and accessed to, one another. The purpose is to help sentient beings to get liberated from birth and death and someday they can attain Buddhahood. All Dharmas are equal and there is no differentiation between ‘big Dharmas’ and ‘small Dharmas’; different methods are used and are based on differences in sentient beings’ virtuous roots, causes and conditions. Some sentient beings can learn some Dharmas – called ‘big Dharmas’ by you – that will make one instantly attain Buddhahood in this life. On the other hand, some sentient beings have insufficient root-capacity base so they cannot learn such ‘big Dharmas’; they can only learn the methods that correspond to their root-capacity base. Then, can they attain Buddhahood? Yes, they can, too. It is just that they need to spend more time to attain it, and it will not be done in this life. You cannot become a Buddha in this lifetime but at least you can be liberated from birth and death, and be reborn in the Land of Amitabha to practice the Dharma there, reaching a level to become a Buddha-to-be.

The concept of ‘connection, accessibility and equality’ relates to the teaching that in all Dharmas, there is no differentiation between ‘big Dharmas’ and ‘small Dharmas’. Every sentient being’s root capacity is different. It is like me that my karmic hindrances have been heavy and I need to practice or perform many Dharma methods or rituals to help sentient beings. As for you, you have large good fortune and it is enough for you to just help yourself get liberated from birth and death; there is no need for you to practice this or that Dharma method.

As your guru, I have definitely transmitted Dharmas to you based on your root capacity. I do not throw all of what I have learned at you. If you don’t practice a Dharma method, which has already been transmitted to you, this is not good for the guru, nor will it be for such Dharma’s future. It is because if this Dharma is not cherished, it will then slowly be in decline and cease to exist.

For example, speaking of Hevajra. Hevajra was transmitted and passed down by Venerable Marpa. Because Venerable Milarepa practiced Chakrasamvara, many practitioners then have not cultivated Hevajra. After His Holiness has sorted out its Dharma text, transmitted it to me and taken me, one person only and a Rinpoche, to conduct a retreat at a sacred place, only then are there many practitioners wanting to learn Hevajra. Will they certainly be able to learn it? No one knows. Then, if one really is going to learn it, is there sufficient time? Can the person conduct a retreat in a sacred place? It is clearly mentioned in Dharma texts that some Dharma methods truly need to be mastered during a retreat in a sacred place.

The Lapchi Snow Mountain in Nepal, where I went for this retreat, is considered by all Orders of Tibetan Buddhism one of the mandalas of Chakrasamvara, and that is why we call this Mountain a sacred place. It was also a place where Venerable Milarepa conducted his retreats for many years when he was alive; he never left it. It is thusly called a sacred place, too. If the retreat is not conducted in a sacred place for such a ‘big Dharma’, it does not mean that it is not possible to learn it; however, more toil will be needed. In 2007, His Holiness for the first time took someone, me, a Rinpoche in Han ethnicity, there for the retreat. Since then, to date, he has not brought anyone there yet for conducting a retreat. There is no knowing if there will be such an event in the future.

‘Possessing completely all the virtuous Dharmas….to achieve attainment.’ All the Dharma methods, that can help sentient beings get liberated from birth and death, can completely be possessed and mastered to achieve attainment. This is mentioned here very clearly. If you say you don’t understand the Dharma methods I teach, then you are finished because what I teach are all virtuous Dharmas; as long as you listen to them you definitely can master them. The methods I teach are certainly from sutras, and are not invented by me. This quote tells you not to select Dharmas to learn.

Why do you need to practice the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices? If these are not learned and practiced, you cannot advance to a higher stage. Even if I grant you empowerments, and if you have not advanced your practicing stage, you still cannot be on the Bodhisattva Path. However, you feel that once you have learned the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices, you are very skillful in your practices, have enough of good fortune, or are different from others. When I see that you don’t have the attributes for learning these Practices, I will not transmit them to you. Many of you have told me that you have attributes but when you kneel in front of me, I can sense that they are not in you; you are only greedy for getting Dharmas.

It is very clearly indicated in this quote that any Dharma methods are equal, and one can achieve attainment with any virtuous Dharmas as long as the person practices them. Let’s take the Great Six-Syllable Mantra as an example. You chant this Mantra all your life. If the guru grants you the empowerment and you always do your practices according to the Dharma text, you still can attain achievement. If the guru does not transmit some Dharma methods to you, do not give rise in your mind to a feeling of resentment. Some of my disciples have this type of thought.

I treat everyone equally. When you have issues and have come asking for my help, I will definitely appear. Although I will scold you, I still help you; I will punish you but I still help you because you are nevertheless my disciples. At the end, I am soft-hearted. It is like a saying, ‘being a soft spot in the heart.’ I cannot change that. Then, when a hard-hearted disciple leaves here, I cannot get him or her to remain.

When people get old but are unable to learn the Dharma, they are very pitiful. I am saying all these to let you know clearly that I treat you equally. Among you present here, there are businesses owners, physicians or government officials; I have not treated anyone especially well. If there are things occurring in this Center and the help of those disciples, with special professions and skills, is needed, I will ask them if they are willing to assist. If they are, that is fine; if not, it doesn’t matter to me.

Here is an example. A disciple was a government official the year before last. Later, he was disrespectful to the Dharma. He said that he wanted to be a volunteer for the Grand Puja, and I told him that I was sorry that he would not be one because there were enough of volunteers already. I knew very well that once he came, many government officials would come with him too. If he wanted to use this ‘trick’ (to be in contact with me and the Center), he would have done it a lot earlier; why had he waited until now to do it?

There is a story about another disciple. He had continuously implored me for the Phowa a dozen years ago. It is not that I don’t want to transmit it to him; rather, he does not have the root capacity for receiving this Dharma method. Even if I transmit it to him, he cannot master its practices, and at the end, it will do him harm. However, I still gave him opportunities for deciding what he would like to do about his practices. Later, he decided he would not implore for the Phowa because he really was not physically fit to learn and practice it. I told him then to truthfully chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, and I said to him, ‘It is okay; I will not give you up. As long as you believe in me and remember me, when you pass away you will definitely be liberated.’ Today, sitting on the Dharma throne, I am now saying this in that all of you know about it.

If you have not decided to get liberated from birth and death, and even if I transmit the Phowa to you, you will just be ‘going’ to the Heaven Realm. Even if there are many people doing recitation assistance for you after you die, you will still be in the Heaven Realm only, not ‘going’ farther up. There are some crash courses about the Phowa out there but how can it be possible to learn it this way? In learning the Phowa, it is not just uttering the sound of ‘peh peh peh’ (part of the ritual) that one can be liberated. How can it be so simple? Learning Buddhism can only go through step-by-step processes, and is to truly follow what your guru teaches. There are no crash courses, which are not mentioned in sutras. If there is anyone who dares to say this, I really admire his or her courage.

Why have I not transmitted the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices when there are so many people coming and imploring for this Dharma method? It is because they think they can select what Dharmas they want, just like going to a buffet choosing dishes of food they like. This is greed for getting Dharmas. I will observe you to decide whether or not I will transmit Dharmas to you. When you kneel in front of me, your mind is transparent to me. I will see if you have a right mind; if I think you still have attributes for learning some Dharma method, I will transmit it to you. Why do you need to learn the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices? The reason is that this is a practicing stage. Only by passing through this stage can you move up to learn the Bodhisattva Path.

Do not give rise in your mind to a feeling of resentment just because Dharmas are not transmitted to you. Likewise, do not think that only those disciples who have made much offerings to me will get the transmissions of Dharmas. The Buddha taught 84,000 Dharma methods because sentient beings have different causes, conditions and karma, therefore, what Dharma methods they have learned are different as well. It does not mean that, if methods are not transmitted to you, you cannot learn Buddhism, nor will you be ignored.

Shakyamuni Buddha went out of His way teaching those learning Buddhism in later time that as long as you practice the Bodhisattva Path and then attain the fruition level of a Bodhisattva, you will know that on all Dharmas of ‘revelation of the whole truth’, when their being transmitted to sentient beings, there is no differentiation between ‘big Dharmas’ and ‘small Dharmas’; all such Dharmas are equal, connecting and accessible. For example, all the Dharma methods of Eight Great Bodhisattvas are different. Do all these Dharma methods need to be learned? Shakyamuni Buddha did not say so. If one just practices the methods of one Bodhisattva exclusively, it is fine that one still can attain achievement; this is because all such Dharmas are connecting with one another. It is like that there are many people in Taiwan who practice Dharma methods of Bodhisattva Maitreya saying, ‘Practicing Bodhisattva Maitreya is not to mention the Pure Land School.’ This indicates exactly that these people do not read sutras. It is recorded in sutras that Bodhisattva Maitreya asked Shakyamuni Buddha for instructions with this question, ‘What kind of aspiration should a Bodhisattva have so as to go to the Land of Amitabha?’

What does this indicate? Connection and accessibility. It means that based on sentient beings’ karma and vows, Great Bodhisattvas will help you. This is why we recite, at the end of each puja, the Aspiration Prayer for Rebirth in Amitabha’s Pure Land of Utmost Bliss, which is to implore Bodhisattvas helping us be reborn in the Pure Land. This is the evidence that all Dharma methods are connecting with, and accessible to, one another; they are all for the purpose of helping sentient beings understand Dharmas of ‘revelation of the whole truth’ for getting liberated from birth and death. Thus, do not make selections on Dharmas; if you don’t have the affinity, you will not learn a particular Dharma method. Don’t think if you continuously implore me for a certain one, I will transmit it to you. Also, do not consider that once you have completed the chanting of the required count on the Guru Yoga mantra in the Four Uncommon Preliminary Practices, you will be attuned to your guru, me. There are more practices to come! I haven’t taught you those yet! This is because the retreat center in our temple (in construction) has not been completely built yet. How can you have so much time thinking or doing many things?

You think that you yourself can learn any Dharma methods at home. I am able to learn Buddhism without wanting my businesses or family. I could leave my children in Taiwan for three months so as to conduct a retreat in Nepal. Could you do that? In there, phone calls were not allowed; could you endure that? If not, how could you learn? If you don’t learn a certain Dharma method, it doesn’t matter. Shakyamuni Buddha encouraged you by telling you that all virtuous Dharmas are connecting and accessible. There is no mention if a certain Bodhisattva practices exclusively a certain Dharma method or if you practice a particular method that neither can achieve attainment. Both can.

It is your guru who helps you decide what Dharma methods you are to learn; it is not you who select them. It is like this situation. Before, His Holiness had not transmitted Hevajra to me. Later, he observed that I seemed to have the attributes to learn this Dharma method, therefore, he then transmitted it to me. At that time in Nepal during my retreat, he was even afraid that I might die so he watched over me beside my retreat hut. He knows too that sentient beings’ minds are always changing. How could he know whether or not my mind would be changing during my retreat? If it did change, I would have died. It depends on whether or not one has practiced and then attained bodhicitta; if bodhicitta is attained, the life-death situation will pass. It is not like what you think at all; you think that it is okay if your daughter-in-law eats meat because as long as you recite, or chant for her, this bad deed of hers will be rescinded. Will it be? Of course not.

Everyone needs to remember very clearly about this quote, ‘Possessing completely all the virtuous Dharmas with connection, accessibility and equality to achieve attainment.’ Thus, do not criticize other people about Dharma methods they practice on. Also, do not say you chant mantras differently from others. If you think that you do your mantra-chanting correctly and others do theirs wrong, and if you say it to let them know, this means you are wrong. If you think what Shakyamuni Buddha said were wrong, you shouldn’t learn Buddhism. Once you understand what He taught, then don’t do bad deeds without even knowing their being bad.

Sutra: ‘Going to places indiscriminately and engagingly in the lands of Buddhas, and being often exhorted, advanced and enhanced in power by Buddhas.’
This quote means, going to places indiscriminately and engagingly in any lands, and entering any realms of the Six Realms to liberate sentient beings. For His emanation of an ape, the Buddha did not say that He was uncomfortable because of the very long and hot hairs of an ape; for becoming a peacock, He also did not say that a peacock was well liked because of its pretty feathers. These emanations were just based on causes and conditions. It is just like what are described in the Long Life Prayer that His Holiness has written for me. In it, it says that I will go wherever there are causes and conditions for me to appear in; this is exactly the indiscrimination of the mind.

Indiscrimination does not mean that practitioners must liberate particular sets of sentient beings. There was an olden public record. Two monastics went out to beg for food. The first one looked for rich families exclusively, and the second one sought out poor families only. The first one said that he could then form an affinity with rich people, getting them to learn Buddhism and do practices. He thought that if rich people did that, they could benefit a vast number of sentient beings. The second monastic thought that if poor people learned Buddhism, they could become rich and then benefit sentient beings. Then, Shakyamuni Buddha taught these two monastics that both of their ways of begging for food were not practicing methods of helping sentient beings equally. I have then been learning the indiscrimination of the mind.

In my Center, there are all sorts of disciples: rich or poor, in high or in low social positions. I don’t ignore you because of your low-position jobs, nor do I pay no attention to you because of your having no money. I don’t treat you particularly well with a different manner either just because you are very rich. Then, again, I might be especially harsh to you. These are methods that sutras have taught me – going to places indiscriminately and engagingly.

No matter which land to be conceived and to enter a fetus in or which realm in the Six Realms to be out of, it is not for liberating a celestial emperor or heavenly beings in the Heaven Realm. If there was no affinity in a place, the Buddha would not be there; He only appeared in such a place if there was affinity. Then, after being there, it did not matter what He would transform Himself into; He helped sentient beings with indiscrimination of the mind.

‘Being often exhorted, advanced and enhanced in power by Buddhas.’ This means that all Buddhas exhorted those practitioners practicing the Bodhisattva Path. The ‘power’ in the ‘enhanced in power’ is not about prominence; it means ‘awe-inspiring power’ – the power of the Dharma. The Dharma is not propagated in an overbearing manner. It is not like non-Buddhist religions that if one doesn’t obey their rules, one is to be killed or fall into hell. The awesome inspiration of the Dharma is not like this; it is to demonstrate to sentient beings this: ‘As Shakyamuni Buddha can attain Buddhahood, so can sentient beings.’ This is what the power of the Dharma is.

Why could Shakyamuni Buddha attain Buddhahood but we cannot? It is because He had accomplished what were required to do and we have not achieved what we should do. Why haven’t we? One example shows the reason why. Learning harmonica is more important than learning Buddhism for a disciple’s son. In such a case, can they achieve what are needed to do in their practices? At the beginning, she felt that learning Buddhism was more important because it would help her son grow up without being unfilial and he could study hard. The result is that the child has grown up and started having his own opinions. She then has implored the Buddha and Bodhisattvas for fulfilling her son’s thinking and wishes. These have nothing to do with the Dharma taught here. Since such thoughts and acts are unrelated to the Dharma, the mother and her son surely cannot accomplish what are needed to do in their practices.

Sutra: ‘All Tathagatas recognize, know, mark and approve.’

All Buddhas can clearly distinguish and give approval on what Bodhisattvas do. This means that all deeds by Bodhisattvas to liberate sentient beings will be approved by the Buddha. It is like when I wanted to establish this Center years ago, I needed to get His Holiness’s approval first because only His Holiness knew if I was qualified or not to set up my own Buddhist center. During my performances of the Chod, I have explained to you before that I need to implore the yidam-guru for approving my performances of this Dharma method; only then can I proceed. ‘Mark and approve’ means that the Buddha will observe whether or not you are qualified to perform a certain Dharma method to be able to benefit sentient beings. You will not be allowed to perform it if you have no qualifications. It does not count if you say you are qualified; you must obtain the ‘mark and approve’ from the Buddha.

Sutra: ‘To be an Acharya – a teacher – for Bodhisattvas.’

In order to teach more to Bodhisattvas, a teacher’s role can be obtained. Bodhisattvas have their own teachers.

Sutra: ‘Eternally learn and being attuned to boundless deeds, connecting with and accessing to all acts in the Dharma Realm.’

‘Eternally learn’ means to learn perpetually. All deeds for benefitting a vast number of sentient beings are boundless, and will never stop.

‘Connecting with and accessing to….in the Dharma Realm’ needs to be explained in three stages. The first stage means that you have made vows, and have thoroughly carried them out; the power of these acts can be spread out all over the Dharma Realm. The second stage is that after you have made vows, you have really practiced a Dharma method of a certain yidam; the power of merits gained from this practice will fill all over the Dharma Realm. Finally, on the third stage, when you have become a Bodhisattva or attained Buddhahood, there is no need to move, to think, to recite or chant, and the merits will connect with and access to all things in the Dharma Realm.

Thus, ask yourself first on this: As you have made many vows, have you actually carried out any one of them? If not, you are still a tiny bit of dust in the Dharma Realm because the power of your vows has not appeared. When it appears, Buddhas and Bodhisattvas will fulfill your vows – bodhicitta vow, vow of compassion and vows for practices. Bringing in your family members for taking refuge and seeking protection for them is not a vow; it is greed. The vows made to practice so as to benefit sentient beings are what vows are. Any vows apart from such a range are not vows.

Sutra: ‘Being able to clearly understand sentient beings and the lands.’

What is mentioned in this quote cannot be done by Bodhisattvas in general. Only a Bodhisattva’s Dharmakaya (Dharma-body) can do it. (In Chinese, the word, ‘clearly’, is pronounced as ‘shan’.) ‘Shan’ means ‘clearly’. ‘Clearly understand’ means to understand with ‘white Dharmas’, not with ‘negative Dharmas’. This is to explain that, with all the ‘white Dharmas’, the Dharma methods of liberating from birth and death and the vow of each Buddha can be understood. ‘The lands’ means the lands of Buddhas. Shakyamuni Buddha already accomplished what has been described in this quote. That is why the Buddha understood clearly all the causes, conditions and karma of sentient beings in the Six Realms. He also knew surely the emergence of lands of Buddhas; He was then able to introduce these lands. This cannot be known by ordinary people or those having made prostrations to the Buddha for decades.

We should then concentrate our practices on Dharma methods of liberating from birth and death, and not give rise to too many thoughts, thinking complicated things. If you are determined to definitely practice the Dharma methods of liberating from birth and death in this life, you certainly will accomplish it one day. Also, because you have made such a decision, you will automatically stop much negative karma. You will even stop doing deeds that will produce such karma. This is because you understand very well that in order to get liberated from birth and death, new karma cannot be generated, including gossiping about or criticizing other people, which is indeed karma.

We should concern ourselves with facts, not with individuals. Everyone has made errors. If a certain matter harms only you, I advise you to endure it! Do not think or talk about it so much because that will be disadvantageous to you. Our spoken language is most dreadful. It can make sentient beings attain accomplishment; on the contrary, it can also harm them, and then what follows is that it will harm oneself.

Some people say loudly and unashamedly that they know they will certainly die one day, so they have let go things long ago, thought everything through and wanted nothing. This is just a talk. If you cannot get a few words into your head about what people say about you, how can you say that you don’t want anything? Thus, one needs to be alert and on one’s guard. If one thinks he or she is learning Buddhism, and is on practices towards the path of liberating from birth and death, one should see clearly whether one’s thoughts are actually about ‘white Dharmas’ or ‘black Dharmas’.

Everyone has made mistakes, including yourself. Other people’s mistakes are for us to drawn lessons from. On your own mistakes, you should make amend; do not forgive yourself. In this way, you will then continuously improve your learning and practices of the Dharma. This is very important.

Sutra: ‘Also, often giving rise to enthusiasm to make offerings to Tathagatas. Seeing all kinds of bodily forms as if they were images.’

Bodhisattvas are in the Six Realms eternally to liberate sentient beings, and are often entering and leaving the Six Realms without producing any suffering. Because of this, Bodhisattvas often make offerings to all Buddhas no matter which realm Bodhisattvas are in. Offerings made are not necessarily in material substance. As long as all deeds in practicing the Bodhisattva Path are done in accordance with the methods taught by the Buddha, such deeds are all counted as offerings made to the Buddha.

Bodhisattvas see any bodily forms of sentient beings as images, which are not permanently unchanging. This is why in sutras we are always exhorted not to harm sentient beings. It is because that those we see today, like pigs, sheep or chicken, are in ‘unreal’ forms; their pure nature is the same. When we harm sentient beings, on the surface, it seems that we kill them but actually we are killing Buddhas-to-be. Although the pure nature of all sentient beings will not disappear, the hatred and resentments arisen in them, when they are harmed, will cause them to be on the path of attaining Buddhahood for a very long time. This amounts to indirectly destroy those sentient beings whose becoming Buddhas might have been attained a lot sooner. We cannot despise sentient beings just because they have different appearances. We cannot look down on them either because of their different skin color or race. These all go against the Dharma.

Sutra: ‘Learning well as the nets of Dharani can break the nets of demons.’

It is impossible to break the nets of demons by just understanding the principles of the Dharma. The blessings of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas must be relied on. This means that chanting the mantras of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can break the nets of demons. The nets of your long-term chanting of mantras of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can protect you. What have made us give rise to greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt so that we are unable to get liberated from birth and death are demons. Your family members, who have told you not to get too obsessed with learning Buddhism, are demons, too. Dharani is pure and encompasses the yidam’s vows, merits, activities and good fortune. As long as you have been transmitted pith instructions by your guru, and if you believe deeply in your guru and such instructions without seeking any returns, responses or feelings, your perpetual chanting can absolutely and naturally break the nets of demons; there is no need to ask for ways to break such nets. For mantra-chanting, there is a pattern for it. After your guru has transmitted you the pith instructions of generation stage and completion stage, and if you chant these mantras in accordance with the Dharma principles, you definitely can break the nets of demons.

Why have there been many people coming recently to implore me for the Dharma methods of Avalokiteshvara but I do not transmit the methods to them? They think that Avalokiteshvara is compassionate and if they chant more often the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, they will gain peacefulness, protection and blessings. In fact, if you seek those, you can get them too by doing grand prostrations 500 times a day. The most important thing on Dharani is not getting peacefulness, protection and blessings; rather, Dharani is to break the nets of demons so that you can be liberated from birth and death. If chanting a mantra is for having a good health, for the sake of your grandsons or your daughter-in-law who eats meat, such a mantra becomes a demon-mantra. The mantra of any yidam is wishing sentient beings to be able to get liberated from birth and death in this life. Anyone can chant a mantra but how to chant it effectively is related to your mind, vows and whether or not you have affliction.

After you are clear about this, you can then understand this: Dharani is not to let you deal with others, nor is it to let you use it to change your current karmic retribution. If you have this kind of thought, and even if you have implored successfully for a Dharma text because I am not careful that I let you receive it, you are assured that you cannot attain accomplishment in this life. This is because your thoughts and acts are against what are written in the Dharma text. In it, it is stated very obviously that this Dharma method is not for oneself, but for sentient beings, wishing them to be able to attain Buddhahood like oneself, the ‘I’ indicated in the text. You implore things for yourself all day long; then, if you are all right, what will those karmic creditors be who have been harmed by you?

Some people think that if one’s karmic creditors have been liberated, everything will be all right. Liberating them is just stopping temporarily the senses of resentments and hatred between them and you, however, the bad roots are still existing. Only when you give rise in your mind to making repentances and getting liberated from birth and death, can the bad roots between your karmic creditors and you be extirpated. Do not think you will be fine after you have made repentances and gotten some persons liberated. As time goes on, you should rely on yourself. It is like after you are cured on a disease by your doctor, your maintenance to keep a good health depends on your own care. After you have helped persons get liberated, participated performances of Dharmas and made repentances, the roots of hatred and resentments are still existing and are not extirpated if you do not listen and not practice hard. As long as there are still such roots, some day if you have given rise to bad thoughts and have continued doing bad deeds, you are irrigating these roots, which will sprout again and blossom into bad ‘fruit’.

The Drikung Kagyu Lord Jigten Sumgon once taught us this: ‘Gurus can help you solve many problems and cure your illnesses. However, if you do not practice diligently after such help, your problems and illnesses will come back again to get you.’ This is exactly because your bad roots have not been extirpated. You say, ‘Since my guru, the Buddha and Bodhisattvas are so compassionate, and since I don’t know how negative my bad roots are, why don’t they help me extirpate them completely?’ These bad roots cannot entirely be gotten rid of because they have been planted by yourself. For example, you are displeased because of some words spoken or an expression shown to you by other people. This is from what you have planted; you have planted such a bad root that such an occurrence happens to you. You should know very well how to deal with it, and it is to behave in an opposite manner. When others say something nice to you, you need to be careful. On the contrary, if what they say are not what you like, be pleased with it because they help you eliminate your karma; in such a situation, if you think conversely (you are not pleased), it indicates that your bad roots are getting grown deeper and deeper.

In the Sutra of Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha’s Fundamental Vows, it is stated that ‘All our thoughts generate karma and vices.’ If your thoughts are all about helping yourself, and you don’t like other people, then we will let go of that subject here. It is not that you are to like or love all people; it is to let you not to generate any obstacles. If you have such a mind of helping yourself only, it will help your bad roots grow deeper and deeper. As long as you do some bad acts one day, such roots will have more water to be grown gradually, sprouted and blossomed.

Last year, a disciple died of cancer. She had taken refuge in me for a dozen years and while alive, she was still full of hatred and resentments in her heart; she admitted it. However, because she had been learning Buddhism, I still helped her. For the ‘leaves’ and ‘flowers’ (from her roots) that were supposed to be grown out, I took them off a little bit, but her bad roots were still existent. She continuously hated every day, and such bad roots became stronger and vigorous; they sprouted, growing leaves and flowers. As she had taken refuge in me, I, her guru, helped her first to make the (bad) ‘fruit’ smaller. The pain from her cancer had then been lessened, and she did not feel pain before she died; nevertheless, there was still that ‘fruit’ existing. All things occurring to oneself have been done by that person. Do not resent or hate others. One should accept and face any issues and amend oneself. Life is short, lasting only decades, and it will be gone like smoke being blown off. Do not be in attachments; do not keep them in your mind. Otherwise, it will not be good for your health, nor will it be good for your future practices.

Sutra: ‘Destroying the nets of self-views and entering the nets of thoughts of sentient beings.’

After you have chanted mantras many times, you can destroy all your own self-views, and ‘enter the nets of thoughts of sentient beings’. Don’t we want to liberate all sentient beings? Why do we still need to go to their ‘nets of thoughts’? This quote means that only after you destroy the self-views of ‘I’ can you see clearly the sources of affliction of sentient beings. Yesterday, I saw obviously that a certain disciple wanted to give all her money to her son. I am also a layman and I know the thinking of laity; besides, I chant mantras every day so I understand very well how your minds work.

Destroying the nets of self-views’. My own self-views are decreasing continuously. I can then enter the nets of thoughts of you – sentient beings – knowing what you are doing and what your problems are. When I say of things you don’t like to hear, it indicates that I already know where your issues come from. Contrarily, you don’t like to hear them because you think what I say is not about the Dharma, but about family life or people’s emotions.

Some of my disciples are getting a boyfriend or a girlfriend; I don’t stop them doing that. However, I will tell them that they had better find someone who can learn Buddhism together with them. For the disciples who didn’t listen to me, at the end, they either left the Center or got divorced. I told them at the beginning what would be good for them because I had already seen the possible consequences. If they didn’t listen to me at that time, it would not be my business. I had told them in advance so if something happened to them later on, they needed not to complain.

Sutra: ‘Being able to surpass affliction, family members, demons’ companions and demons.’

If you continuously chant mantras, you can surpass affliction and family members. Family members are our biggest affliction. I am a layman and I have family members too but I have no affliction at all. I have always been living a good life of forming affinity with the Buddha and Bodhisattvas. If this were someone else, the person might have uttered cries of anguish. You have taken refuge in me so you are my family members, too. If you suddenly want to leave here, you can just leave. Then, there is no knowing whether or not there is an affinity for me to help you again in next lifetime.

Some people are demons; they tell you not to believe in the Dharma. They say, ‘Believing in it is fine but don’t get too obsessed with it.’ Have I taught you to get obsessed with the Dharma? (The attendees said No.) I have only taught you about the real, genuine truth. Now you know why I have always forced you to chant mantras. The Buddha said that there are many advantages in mantra-chanting. On the contrary, you don’t listen; you just do it perfunctorily every day. You shouldn’t do it as a perfunctory act just to show me. You do it for things of your own, including those unhappy ones, which can be solved as long as you chant mantras. There is no need for you to implore for help; if you chant mantras, you can get solutions. As it turns out, you have not succeeded. Of the 24 hours a day, how much time do you spend to really sit down to chant mantras?

Yesterday, there was a young disciple who came and implored for a lot of Dharma texts. Do you think learning Buddhism is like ordering dishes from a menu? If I grant you many of the texts, how do you practice them? Do you draw lots every day to see which one is drawn and then recite that particular Dharma text? The mindset of young people is often changing. They are all greedy for getting Dharmas. When seeing others having some Dharma texts, young people think they should have the texts too. Finally, I only bestowed him the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas. If he can accomplish just one verse in it, that will be fine because it is not an easy task. Do not be greedy.

The monastics here read the Infinite Life Sutra many times before, but no one had taught it this way. How to conquer demons’ armies? It does not rely on sitting in meditation only. Although in the Lankavatara Sutra and the Surangama Sutra, it is stated that ‘When demons come, decapitate demons; when Buddhas come, decapitate Buddhas.’, why can it not be done? In Zen School, it is not just sitting there and doing meditation; there are many Dharma methods that have not been taught. The Sixth Patriarch, Huineng, became the Sixth Patriarch only after he had been transmitted the citta (essence of the Dharma) of the Fifth Patriarch from him. Had the Sixth Patriarch transmitted the citta and passed it down? No, he had not. Then, how will demons’ armies be conquered?

Listening to the expounding of sutras is very important; it can let you ‘untie the knots’ of many of your doubts. Relying on making prostrations to the Buddha all day long can also conquer demons’ armies, but you will not be able to hold on to it, and then you die. Thus, Shakyamuni Buddha taught us the Dharma method of mantra-chanting. The Buddha said to us that any Dharma methods can be practiced. For those whose root capacity is good, they can practice the methods I have expounded earlier; for those having not enough of root capacity, they chant mantras then. Do not be greedy to get this or that Dharma method. Even chanting mantras have their own methods.

For practitioners of Tiantai Buddhism, their practices are to break free of fifty-three mental factors, one by one. Only when these factors have been cleansed can the practitioners be enlightened. This Sect’s theories are very detailed, and are about movements of the mind, and how such movements generate the thoughts. People of old times had nothing to do so they could look to this type of theories all day long. Modern people have many things to do and don’t have time to get knowing such details. This is why nowadays there are fewer and fewer people learning Tiantai Buddhism. More people are practicing the Pure Land School, which is about mantra-chanting. Reciting the name of Amitabha is a form of chanting a mantra. Chanting mantras can have so many advantages; this has been taught by the Buddha, not by me. If you still use your own ideas to do your practices, you cannot attain accomplishment. We cannot market the Dharma as a product in a marketplace. When sutras teach us in certain ways, we should then follow such ways to practice.

In the Universal Gate Chapter, it teaches us a Dharma method: If you give rise to hatred in your mind, remember Avalokiteshvara frequently and respectfully. Of course, we can chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra. When you deal with people, some of their words and actions make you unhappy; it is okay to directly tell them about how you feel. If you don’t but instead you make some actions, such actions are then the indication that hatred has arisen in you. You should be alert and on your guard. When you think or feel about displeasure or dislikes on things or people, the appearances of these thoughts and feelings are also in the range of giving rise to hatred. You should then immediately chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra. ‘Remember frequently’ means remembering eternally the compassion of Avalokiteshvara. What we are learning is compassion, not hatred. When you are willing to chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, the hatred in your mind is naturally eliminated; when it is gotten rid of, then the negative karma naturally will not be generated. If there are no suitable places for you to chant loudly, do it without sound in your heart then. You can visualize Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara or me. As long as you continuously chant silently, the thoughts of displeasure or dislikes will be eliminated. The Dharma methods taught in sutras are all useful. It is just that everyone is negligent and likes to do practices in his or her own ways.

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Updated on October 5, 2021