218: Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Compassion and Wisdom Have Helped My Family And My Eldest Sister Who Is In The Last Stage Of Lung Cancer

I am grateful to the Most Venerable Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Because of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s great mercy, even though my eldest sister had not taken refuge, due to auspicious causes and conditions, she was able to quickly accumulate virtues and received the “Phowa Dharma”.

My eldest sister’s involvement in Buddhism goes many years back: included were her participation in repentance rituals held at several different Buddhist temples and her study into different Buddhist sutras, to the point that she was able to recite them proficiently. She also gave donations, year after year, to several major religious groups. But, as Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has told us, such acts can only accumulate virtues—and virtues cannot change a person’s karma unless merits are accumulated. In February this year, my sister suddenly got ill. After going through a battery of tests, it was confirmed that she was suffering from Stage Four lung cancer. In a fluster, my whole family went to see Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked my sister what the problem was. My sister lamented that human life is impermanent. Immediately Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche responded, his tone severe, “You are talking Buddhist nonsense. You think you are someone for having read so many sutras and having donated so much money? Are those activities useful? It is Avalokiteshvara who brings you before me today.” Continuing, his voice full of compassion, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche told my sister that she should not be afraid of her pain—if pain can help you from not falling into the hell realm, you should let it continue! And if death can prevent you from reincarnation, then you should just die! At that time, my family and sister weren’t able to grasp the meaning behind these words, but, mercifully, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had already begun to bless my sister and agreed to let our whole family attend puja.

After a few visits with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, my sister asked to be allowed to take refuge and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche mercifully agreed. However, she did not have sufficient belief in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. With the help of my family, my sister then began to seek help from other temples, visiting them on a regular basis. Gradually my sisters’ heart began to waver and she began to fear Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings. Although she continued to attend pujas, her blessings were still insufficient to help her overcome her lack of faith and take refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. On the eve of a tea party held in honor of H. H. Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche’s visit to Taiwan in May, a disciple of Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center called to inform me that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had mercifully decided to allow my sister, who was signed up to take refuge, wear a disciple’s red vest and attend the tea party. Joyfully, I told my sister the good news. When my sister, who was staying at a temple located in the mountains of Miaoli, heard the news, her reaction, however, was one of indecision. Later my third elder sister called to tell me that my eldest sister would not be attending the tea party. She mentioned an unusual event. While the master of the temple that my sister was staying was meditating, tantric yidams appeared before him and demanded to know why this master had stolen the yidams’ disciple. The yidams also said that they would take care of all matters concerning my sister. After this encounter, the temple master told my sister to go home and put away all Tantric related items. He also instructed her to sever all Tantric related connections before she would be allowed to return. My sister, was also feeling uneasy about asking help from other temples while still take advantage of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s help, decided to stop attending the pujas at Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center. When confronted with the fact of my sister’s illness, I felt powerless; I knew that it was only Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche that could help my sister, all I could do was to continue to attend pujas.

By the end of June, my sister’s pain intensified. Eventually, the temple master and his associates asked her to leave the temple. In July, my sister decided to check herself into a hospice. Although taking strong painkillers, she felt great fear in facing her pain without any emotional support and her complaints towards her younger brothers and sisters increased every day. My sister’s condition reminded me of something Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said at a previous puja: If a terminal cancer patient is always angry or displeased he/she will definitely fall into the Hell realm after death. Since my family’s ability to help my sister was limited, I prayed to the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche—they had become my family’s saviors. So, my younger sister and I again went to Glorious Jewel Jewellery Company to beseech Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to bless my eldest sister. After his blessings, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche told us that he would never let my eldest sister fall into the three evil realms of reincarnation. My younger sister asked Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche what the causes and conditions are needed for someone to receive the Phowa dharma. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche compassionately told us that only obedient disciples and those who, in their past lives, had made offerings to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche were eligible; at present my eldest sister did not meet these conditions, so Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked the two of us to attend pujas for my eldest sister to help her accumulate virtue. Since that conversation, my sister began to show interest what Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was saying in puja. We all knew that it was due to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s mercy that my sister was starting to repent and sincerely accept all the causes, conditions, and karmic retributions that were befalling her right then.

My son, Sheng-Xuan, and I continued to attend pujas where I was moved to tears each time the Buddha dharma was spoken. After each cry, my heart would give rise to an  unlimited faith in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche; I gradually realized that the words spoken by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche—it is very difficult for one to be born as a human being, to hear Buddha dharma, and to meet a guru—were true. I realized what an honor it was for a disciple to have the opportunity to listen to his guru’s teaching on the Buddha dharma. It became my sincere wish to follow my guru’s advice to diligently making good use of this life by vowing to attain Bodhi, leaving the realms of reincarnation, and being liberated from the cycles of birth and death. So in August, my son and I asked Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s permission to take refuge under him and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche agreed. Later, I let my sister know of our decision. My sister had always actively followed my son’s education, and upon hearing that we were to take refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, my sister cried tears of joy.

Three weeks before my sister’s passing, she was often in a coma and unable to communicate with the external world. When she was conscious, she expressed a wish to ask for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings. I remember that day well; it was a rainy day and in accordance with her wishes, and against all odds, we arranged an ambulance to transport her from the Mackay Memorial Hospital in Danshui to the Glorious Jewel Jewellery Company on Yi-Xian road in Taipei. While applying for an authorized absence for my sister, the medical staff warned us that my sister could not afford this kind of transportation—her life could be in danger at any time. In fact, we were also very concerned about whether her hold on life, weak as it was, would be able to tolerate such a bumpy ride. So, we also arranged a funeral car to take her remains home in case she passed away on the trip. Lying prone on a sickbed, she was wheeled into the Glorious Jewel Jewellery Company. Although she was not able to speak, she firmly looked into Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s eyes. We wheeled my sister in front of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s throne and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to bless her with chanted mantras. To us, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then said, “Your sister is a virtuous person, so the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are all coming to bless her. If the causes and conditions are ripe, I will hold a Phowa ritual for her.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche also told us that my sister would pass away within three days; that we should not cry or attempt to revive her. And in her last days, whenever conscious, she should contemplate Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s appearance. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche also sensed that my sister, although unable to speak, still cared about Sheng-Xuan’s future with Buddhism. After Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche finished, according to my sister’s earlier wishes, we made an offering to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Later, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would say at a puja that my sister, although suffering from a serious illness, had made a life threatening trip and staunchly went before him, bedridden and wearing an oxygen mask. Such actions showed that her faith was strong; her offering selfless; and her causal conditions were ripe.

But my sister was still in a coma after a week. My younger sister and I returned to Glorious Jewel Jewellery Company for guidance. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said that my eldest sister was too nervous; he asked us to tell her to relax and just contemplate his appearance. After another week, my mother could no longer tolerate watching my sister’s suffer as she was shuttled back and forth between home and the hospital. My mother then brought the whole family to Glorious Jewel Jewellery Company to beseech Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for his help. Uncaring of the pain in her legs, she knelt in front of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and said, “I would like to let Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche handle all matters concerning my daughter; please take her to the Pure Land of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, was touched by mother’s sincerity, and was suddenly able to perceive that my family had setup a longevity tablet in honor of my sister. After reciting mantras, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche compassionately asked, “Have you setup a longevity tablet for your daughter in a temple? It needs to be removed in order for her to leave this world. You need to think this over by yourselves.” Originally, we sisters were confused, as none of us had had anything to do with a longevity tablet. Later on, however, we found out that my brother had installed a tablet in a temple a month earlier. After discussing it among ourselves, we decided to remove the tablet. (In a later puja, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said that he had been touched by my mother’s request. She could not bear the suffering of her daughter and only when mother learned to let it go could the daughter leave calmly. My mother’s wisdom, said Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, was a manifestation of enlightenment.)

At 12:45 A.M. on October 31, my eldest sister passed away. My younger sister called Glorious Jewel Jewellery Company and left a phone message asking Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to hold a Phowa ritual for our deceased sister. In fact, after my sister passed away, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche immediately performed a Phowa ritual for her. After that, a disciple of Glorious Jewel Buddhist center called and informed us that the Phowa ritual had been completed, but Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, while performing the ritual earlier, had seen one of us sisters crying. We all believed that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s reminder was important to our family. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had once mentioned that matter of life and death is one of the most important events in life and learning Buddhism is just practicing and making preparations for that critical moment. My family members’ thoughtless ignorance might not only harm my eldest sister, but themselves also. After the Phowa ritual we inspected my sister. Her forehead was cold, but the crown of her head was indeed slightly warm. After eight hours of chanting Buddhist mantras, my eldest sister’s facial expression was still serene and her skin color silky white. Changing her, we found her limbs were quite soft and her body was slightly warm. We all knew then that she had already arrived at the Pure Land.

On November 1st, my whole family went to Glorious Jewel Jewelry Company to give appreciation for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s exceptional dharma power. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche also explained to us that even the welling up of tears in our eyes could make my sister’s spirit angry and thus prevented her from entering the Pure Land. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche then asked all my family members from then on to eat a vegetarian diet and attend puja in order to repay the mercy and kindness of the Buddha.

I am grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for having helped my sister with the auspicious Phowa dharma, and for saving my whole family. Although our family lost our eldest sister, our feelings are one of missing her, rather than sorrow and grief. I appreciate Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate blessings, thus allowing my child Sheng-Xuan and I to formally take refuge on November 2. In addition, my younger sister and elder brother were able to meet the proper conditions and register for the next refuge ceremony in November. Even my mother, who cannot understand Mandarin, continues to attend puja. All these events are due to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate power and great wisdom. This wisdom and compassion has allowed the auspicious causes and conditions to be met in this life, and so we now have a chance to practice the Buddha dharma under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s guidance. I hope that the sharing of my story will allow all those sentient beings still suffering to find a deeper faith in our guru, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

My deepest gratitude to the Most Venerable Vajra Guru, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

Disciple, Shu-Hua Liu, appreciatively, 2008, 12.31

Updated on November 27, 2009