017: The Theopneustic, Virtuous, and Awe-inspiring Power of the His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche

Many years ago, through a kind colleague’s introduction, I attended several large scale activities organized by the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, including the Drikung Vajra Dances in May 2001; the great puja conducted by His Holiness Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche in Taoyuan in June 2002, in which there were over 10,000 attendees; and the Vajrapani Puja in August 2002. Being completely unversed in both the Buddha-Dharma and Tibetan Buddhism, I had no real idea as to what was going on or being said during these pujas. Perhaps the only clear understanding was my admiration for Phowa Dharma, along with the hope that I could someday receive it. I knew that through the Phowa Dharma, I could control the course and time of my life and death; with the Phowa Dharma, I would not feel fear, even when faced with a severe sickness or imminent death. After studying the Buddha’s teachings with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, however, I learned that it is by no means easy for those of us with scarce merit, heavy karma, and less than favorable spiritual conditions to accomplish one of the Eight Sadhana practices—the Phowa Dharma.

I am thankful to my colleague for inviting me, as well as having the patience to persuade me to attend the Vajrapani teachings puja—this was also my first time to see Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. As before, I could not understand much, nor did I have any clear idea about what was being lectured on during those three afternoon lectures; yet I did take away some key points. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche mentioned that we need to take refuge under a Guru of virtue in order for our study and practice of the Buddha-Dharma to be effective; we also need to listen to the audio recordings of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings on “The Repentant Heart”, “The Compassionate Heart”, and “The Bodhicitta”, which are the foundations of the practice of the Buddha-Dharma. At the time I asked myself: What is meant by taking refuge? I had no idea, but it seemed like a complicated process, something that I was not interested in right then. However, since I was already there at the center I decided I might give listening to the tapes a shot. With this in mind, I went to Glorious Jewel Jewellery Company, where Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche receives sentient beings, to request an audio recording of each puja. I don’t know why, but I uneasily hesitated at the entrance of the jewelry store for a long time before having the courage to enter. Once inside, I hurriedly requested the audio recordings and then scurried away. Now, when I look back at that time, I feel a deep embarrassment. I was in such a hurry that I forgot to prostrate before Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. How thoughtless I was!

Returning home, I had some free time and so began to listen to the teaching on repentance. As I listened, I discovered that at times Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would talk, other times he would simply recite mantras, but regardless of what he did, I was still completely befuddled by the meaning. But, as I continued to listen, something surprising occurred; I unexpectedly began to weep, softly at first and then out loud in large sobs. After coming back to myself, I was in a state of mild shock. In the years since I had been a child, I had very rarely cried, let alone deeply wept. What had just happened, I asked myself? Why would I burst out in tears if I had no idea what Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings or mantras meant? The next evening, I listened to the tape again and again I broke down in tears. It seemed inexplicable, yet I thought there must a reason for it.

The next morning, I hurried out to ask my colleague about taking refuge. He told me that if I wanted to take refuge, I had to go to see Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in advance; in addition, the disciple was required to adopt the vegetarian diet and abstain from alcohol after taking refuge. Since I had been a meat eater and also drunk for decades, it seemed an impossible task to stop those habits immediately. My colleague then suggested that I go ask Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for instruction.

So I decided to go to see Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche! Arriving at Glorious Jewel Jewellery Company, I was greeted by a dharma brother who asked what had I come for. I said I wanted to take refuge, but still felt bothered about the need to abstain from meat and alcohol. For my benefit, he then explained the advantages of being a vegetarian and the disadvantages of drinking. What he said, I knew, was very reasonable, but I still felt it would be difficult. Eventually I went before Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, who kindly asked me if there was a problem. I honestly told him the difficulty I had in becoming a vegetarian. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then elaborated on the benefits on a vegetarian diet; how abstaining from meat could reduce the possibility of creating evil conditions with sentient beings; and how the dharma protectors do not like the scent of a non-vegetarian. To be frank, what Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said was almost verbatim what the dharma brother had told me earlier that made sense to me. But I felt abstinence from meat and alcohol would be difficult when hearing these from the dharma brother earlier. However as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to speak, his words seemed to change something in me; suddenly I felt that the issue of abstaining from meat and alcohol would be no problem at all and any further questions I had about it just seemed to melt away. The next moment, I directly asked Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche if I could take refuge. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche replied I could. He then turned to an assistant dharma brother and said, “Let him take refuge.” I was pleasantly surprised at his answer since I thought I might have to go through an observation period to prove that I was sincerely prepared to embark upon this path. Filled with joy, I sought refuge with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and became a disciple of Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center. And from the moment Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche spoke to me about being a vegetarian, I have had no problem—whether psychologically or environmentally—in abstaining from meat and alcohol. The issue just seemed to resolve itself naturally.

At that time I didn’t know why the effect of the Dharma brother’s words and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s words were so different. Later, I came to understand that although what the Dharma brother said was correct, it was still just reasons that I knew but felt impossible to do Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s words, though on the surface were the same as the Dharma brothers’, gave me the power to alter my living habits that had been ingrained for so many years. It was not even necessary for me to understand what I was doing; my actions seemed as natural to me as if they were inherently my own. After taking refuge, I gradually learned how incredibly fortunate I was to meet the great Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, who has attained the auspicious stage of realization, possesses marvelous theopneusty, and exhibits virtuous and awe-inspiring power. Seemingly, what Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was telling me was just advice in an elementary sense, but in fact he was blessing, saving, protecting, and aiding me. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche used his limitless compassion to give his accumulated merits and virtues to those beings standing in the way of my Buddhist practice; by moving and influencing those karmic creditors who suffered from my evildoings in the past, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche created a situation in which negative influences from that karma temporarily stopped interfering. The result was I had an opportunity to listen to Buddha Dharma as taught by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. I could receive an auspicious blessing and obtain sufficient merit to be able to take refuge in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche as well as to learn from Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and cultivate Buddha-Dharma.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, who possesses theopneusty along with great virtue and awe-inspiring power, is unique in this world. It is exactly as I’ve heard it said, “The Buddha-Dharma is rare to hear; a Guru is rare to meet.” As if in a dream, I had the exceptional opportunity to meet such a precious and virtuous teacher by fortunate coincidence. Now, as I look back, I feel rather frightened when I think that if not for this juncture, I would have sunk deep into the ocean of reincarnation, and who knows how many kalpas would pass before I would have another chance to meet a Guru of virtue who could help liberate me from the ocean of suffering. I am immensely grateful to the His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for his blessings. I hope I can seize the opportunity of this auspicious juncture, abide by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings, following Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s instructions, and thus someday I, hopefully, will be able to do something that is beneficial for the liberation of myself and others.

Respectfully written by a disciple Gong Chu Ding Jin (Lai, Dian-Zhang)

Updated on November 25, 2009