425: The His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche Saves “Two Lives” of Mine

Precious Gem of the World, Being a Vajra Guru, Dedicated to Promote Buddhism: I Prostrate Before the His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche

As a front-line doctor on the intensive care unit (ICU), I regularly needed to race against time and even cheat Death in an attempt to save patients who are in critical condition. Even although my work gave me the opportunity to witness the process of life and death many times over, I was still unable to fully grasp the true nature of these two important aspects of human existence. At one point, I was even diagnosed with SARS myself, and was in critical condition. This brush with death merely gave me insight into the suffering associated with illness, but I still knew nothing about where we come from or where we go after death. It was not until Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had rescued me from SARS, I had taken refuge under him, and received his teachings, that my thoughts began to change and my heart opened. At that point, I was finally able to have the following understandings: What Orthodox Buddhism really is, how endless and boundless wisdom of mercy and compassion of the Guru and the three jewels is, and the true meaning of life and death. These understandings helped me to gain insight into the true meaning of life and the correct attitudes one should comport. This was the beginning of my life of wisdom, the second life that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had saved.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche Saved Me from a Life-Threatening Bout with SARS

In early 2003, I was anxious and indecisive, and my career, life, relationships, and beliefs had all come to a bottleneck. At the same time, I had been infected with the SARS virus while on duty at the hospital. The infection was very serious.

During that time in my life, I had often plotted against my colleagues in order to gain promotions or earn more money. Furthermore, In order to pander to my girl friend’s wishes, I gave up my longtime practice of vegetarianism. My mind was especially unstable since, due to personnel issues, I had left the Buddhist center that I had been previously attending. It seemed that in many aspects of my life I had abandoned the virtuous for the evil. As a result, it was only a matter of time before my lot would turn bad. Thankfully, I was able to seek refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and learn from his Dharma talks that the greater the negative causes and conditions arising from our bad deeds, the more likely the bad karma will emerge and the greater price we will have to pay.

Over the past fifteen years, I have wandered back and forth between different religions. In the end I decided to seek refuge under the three jewels of Buddhism. Alas, heaven does not necessarily abide by the wishes of man; I had begun to feel that a lot of the people and the activities in many of these Buddhist centers did not follow Buddhist teachings accordingly. For example, the people in these centers were not practicing the Buddha Dharma in their daily lives, with their families, or in their communities, instead they would bring the greed, hatred, delusion, self-conceit, doubt and ego-clinging habits of the mundane world into the center. These places were supposed to be pure Buddhist centers for cultivation, but they had become foul, polluted places instead. Choosing to leave was painful but I had no choice. I did not know how to continue along the Buddhist path. I had been living in a haze because of my feelings of anxiety and indecision about my life. It was not until I sought refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche that I was finally able to change my outlook and have a new life.

As medical workers, we often come into contact with germs or viruses while caring for our patients, and there is always some potential for infection; usually simple precautionary measures are enough to make this risk negligible. Nobody had ever considered that a new type of virus such as SARS, with its super infectious power and strong virulence, would harm us before we could even realize it. During the period, in my hospital that was sealed off due to the SARS outbreak, us ICU doctors were given the task of conducting examinations of the newly infected patients. Therefore, for us, the risk of exposure to the SARS virus was extremely high. Due to the shortage of protective equipment, it was not at all uncommon for us to become infected. Upon infection with the virus, I was immediately taken to the isolation ward of NTUH (National Taiwan University Hospital) and was completely separated from the outside world. In the blink of an eye, I had gone from doctor to patient. It was as if I had suddenly fallen from heaven all the way down to the depths of hell, I had gone from hunter to hunted. It was difficult to bear!

On the isolation ward of NTUH, my condition deteriorated quickly. The area of pulmonary infiltration expanded and the unilateral pneumonia worsen to bilateral pneumonia. In the mean time, I had also developed severe cases of both hepatitis and gastroenteritis. I was having difficulty eating as well as trouble sleeping. I was continually feverish and suffered weight loss. I suffered from malnutrition and my body’s ability to fight against the disease was deteriorating rapidly. My blood oxygen levels dropped and I was moved to the intensive care unit of NTUH to have an endotracheal tube inserted. I now depended on a respirator to breathe.

Lying in the intensive care unit of NTUH, on the verge of death, the severity of my condition beyond description, my body was like a mere shadow, cheeks and temples sunken, atrophy in my arms and legs; I had lost over ten kilograms. I was unable to sit properly, not to mention standing or walking. If I moved even slightly, I would be thrown into fierce fits of coughing. My blood oxygen levels continued to drop, which gave me the sensation of having vertigo. The monitoring devices around me continually sounded with warning alarms. One of the side effects of the anti-virus medication was that my heart rate became extremely slow, almost to the point of stopping. While a healthy heart rate ranges from about 60 to 100 bpm, mine was barely able to reach 30 bpm. With such a slow heart rate, my blood circulation became very sluggish; this resulted in chest tightness and pain. Just as I would start to fall asleep, my heart rate would drop even lower, and the chest pain would worsen, preventing me from actually falling asleep. Day and night, the suffering brought about by this illness pestered and entangled me. Being a doctor myself and having diagnosed and treated SARS patients before, I knew that a wonder drug for the treatment of this disease did not currently exist. Modern Western medicine was unable to effectively deal with most viruses, not to mention this new SARS virus that the medical community knew precious little about. Although there was some understanding of the mechanics of the virus, treatment methods were powerless against the virus’ continual mutations. My condition worsened to the point that, I believe, everyone began to see my condition as terminal. I too realized that I might never recover so I began preparations for my impending death. This raised some important questions: “What should I do with my house and my car?” and “What about all the valuable items that I have acquired over the years?” Suddenly my perspective changed; I began to say to myself, “Whatever! I am dying; what do I care about all these things? Let someone else worry about these issues.” After this terrible ordeal was all over, I was often asked if I had experienced fear at that time. In fact, I did not really experience fear per se, but I did feel terribly depressed. I was a doctor in the prime of my life and then suddenly, over night, my body had become withered and my face haggard, I looked like a cross between man and ghost. Now, at the end of my life, there was still so much that I wanted to achieve, so many questions about life that had not yet been answered. It was all going to end so abruptly; I wondered where I would go after death. What happens after death? As lonely as I was in the face of death, neither person nor thing could comfort me. All the wonderful people, places, and events of my life had become nothing more than a cruel joke. I could not help but question the meaning of life and the meaning of the Buddhist teachings. Why was it that the acts of salvation and redemption, performed by Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, mentioned in the Buddhist Sutras did not happen for me in may state of suffering?

Even in the great depths of the abyss of suffering, I was still able to receive guidance and salvation from Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche

Fortunately, in those times of pessimism and desperation my condition miraculously improved after my younger brother on my behalf attended Drikung Kagyu’s tantric pujas conducted Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and I myself received the practices and blessings bestowed by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Through the double-layered glass window, I saw that the medical team in the intensive care unit of NTUH roared with delight because they began to see that I had made progress; it seemed that I was going to survive. Actually, it was not the medical treatments, but the help of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche that had enabled me to survive.

It is thanks to dharma brother Xu, that I was able to receive Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s assistance. Several years before the SARS outbreak, Dharma Brother Xu had told me about the extraordinary teachings of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. She had also advised me that I should meet with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Although I had heard about Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, I felt there was no need for a meeting. How few the merits I had! I truly was blind to the truth. At the time that I was sick in the hospital with the SARS virus, out of concern for my well-being, dharma brother Xu called and asked if I would like her to  meet and beseech Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for guidance on my behalf. Originally, I had wondered how Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would be able to see me since nobody was allowed to enter the hospital, even my family could only wave to me from a great distance outside the building. On the other hand, I had already left the other Buddhist center, where I had been a supporter and a committee member; I hadn’t even contacted them to let them know that I was sick. Feeling helpless and desperate, I asked Dharma Brother Xu to introduce me to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Since I was unable to leave the hospital and nobody was allowed in to visit me, dharma brother Xu took my younger brother to see and implore Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and asked for guidance on my behalf. Immediately after their meeting, Dharma Brother Xu informed me of the Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s wise words over the phone: “His illness shall pass and he will recover his health.” Even although I had never spoken to, nor met with, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, his words helped to reduce my mental burden, and enabled me to feel more stable and secure. The Rinpoche advised me to focus on several important matters: Firstly, I should always wear the chakra wheel that the Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had performed rituals  over. Secondly, I must carry with me the blessed nectar that the Rinche Dorjee Rinpoche had performed rituals over, and drink it whenever possible. Thirdly, I must continue to cultivate and recite mantras regardless of whether I was able to sit up or not. Lastly, my elder brother needed to attend the pujas on my behalf. These guidelines, which contained the immense wisdom of the Buddhist teachings, helped me a great deal. I was able to reconnect with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas by means of this new found faith that I had established in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. In this way, the dying person, who I was, had come back to life.

The Glorious Light of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Mercy, Compassion and Wisdom Beckon the Wanderer Back

Even after being discharged from the hospital, I still had to spend two weeks in quarantine under observation before I was allowed to move about freely; following this period, I immediately went to pay a formal visit to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. I was too weak to stand or move about quickly, I just wanted to express my gratitude to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, even although I didn’t fully understand that it was Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche who had saved my life. Nevertheless, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s enlightenment made a big impact on me; I was very touched. The experience was an enlightening one, just like the sun illuminating a deep, secluded valley, bringing with it brightness and warmth. The doubts and contradictions that had arisen from my previous experiences with Buddhism over the years, melted away as I stood before Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche uses more than just language or worldly cleverness to spread the Dharma, and dispel the followers’ doubts. It is the light of compassion and wisdom from within the Rinpoche’s heart that illuminates the hearts of the followers. This is the same as the mind-to-mind transmission spoken of in the Zen school of Buddhism. At that time, I still could not understand how Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, without making reference to classical texts, having never attended any Buddhist institute or institute of higher education for that matter, was still able to awaken every cell and every nerve in my body when he spoke. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would be able to help me eradicate every single one of my doubts. Upon seeing the Rinpoche, most of the questions that I had brought forward to ask him about would just dissolve all by themselves. During that period, no matter how busy I was, I would go at least once or twice a week to beg for an audience with Rinpoche. I would ask him for answers to my various questions about human existence and about Buddhism. As the Rinpoche patiently and unwearyingly gave Dharma talks, I gradually came to realize that in the past many of my ideas and behaviors with respect to Buddhism were clearly incorrect.

Furthermore, I followed Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings to continuously attend pujas, by which we increased the accumulation of virtues by the help of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. I also repeatedly listened to the audio recordings of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings in which both of the Practical teachings and Theoretical teachings were given, I began to recognize that ultimately we must try to act in accordance with these teachings as much as possible. After half a year had passed, suddenly, I began to perceive that my mind as well as my habitual behaviors had become increasingly righteous. Over the past twenty years, I had been making efforts, with very little success, to accomplish this goal; but now in such a short time under the guidance of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, I had achieved so much.

In the past, I had worshiped and sought refuge under many different kinds of religions: Daoism, Christianity, Yi Guan Dao and Exoteric Buddhism. Each of these religions had offered me some form of bright and positive teaching, but when it came to really turning my life around and influencing my heart, I was unable to practice what they had taught me. Even when trying to practice something as simple as the Five Precepts or the Ten Virtuous Deeds, my mind was full of contradictions and struggles. My religious path was always filled with contradictions and remorse. However, now things had totally changed. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is my true Guru, he possesses great virtue, and although I have only been able to practice a small portion of his teachings, following him has improved my physical condition, my mind, my life and all the worldly circumstances associated with it. Looking back, I have learned that no matter what means Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche takes, whether it is tireless verbal instruction, scolding, striking, ignoring, or simply smiling, all of his words and actions arise from his ability to know the causes and conditions with us, and help us correct our problems of body, speech and mind. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s words and deeds are all manifestations of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s inconceivable mercy, compassion and wisdom. It is thanks to of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s marvelous mercy, compassion and theopneusty that I have had the opportunity to make some progress and have some simple understandings. Until meeting the Rinpoche, these achievements had continued to elude me while I spent nearly twenty years searching out all sorts of other religions. Whenever I think of this, it moves me deeply, and brings me to tears. I feel immense gratitude toward Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. The grace bestowed upon us by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is incomparably vast. Having been deeply moved by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s great wisdom and compassion, I am now able to imagine how great the wisdom and compassion of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas would be. Having felt the faith and reverence toward Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has in turn enabled me to generate true faith and reverence towards Buddha and Bodhisattvas, and to realize that the Guru is the embodiment of Buddha, Dharma, and Sangha. The Guru’s mind is the Buddha Mind.

After visiting many different Buddhist centers and attending numerous pujas, I finally came to realize that Buddhism actually has all the answers. Tibetan Buddhism, in particular, has both exoteric and esoteric Buddhist doctrines; it preserves the complete teachings of the Buddha and embodies theoretical as well as practical teachings in stages on the Buddhist pathto the attainment of Buddhahood. The lineage of the Drikung Kagyu Order of Tibetan Buddhism is especially pure and auspicious, and the blessings of the Drikung Kagyu Order are particularly powerful. Nevertheless, the teachings of this lineage must be passed down through a process of transmission. We must rely on a virtuous Guru to extend our wisdom life, teach us according to our own individual aptitudes, and dissolve our doubts. We cannot practice the Buddha Dharma on our own. Take me for example; I had been roaming around for decades without proper guidance, I am now so grateful to have taken refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, a guru of the orthodox Buddhist teachings. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, strictly observing the Buddhist precepts, founds and guides the Buddhist center with conscientious and careful disciplines, far from the world of wealth and fame. Moreover, just as the Buddha taught, every sentient being is treated equally before the Buddha at his Buddhist centers to learn and cultivate the orthodox Dharma. The Buddhist center is so pure, because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has attained the position of Maha-Bodhisattva, possesses great wisdom and compassion, has the ability to clearly perceive causes and conditions of the past, present, and future, helps us solve suffering of all kinds, and has even saved countless lives. For these reasons, we, stubborn mundane beings, are willing to make ourselves subject to the Three Jewel and act in accordance with the teachings. In fact, how could it be possible that we would choose not to seek refuge under such a virtuous Guru, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche?

Meeting Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in person, after my traumatic time in the hospital, was a refreshing and sobering experience. It is rare to meet such a great Guru, but I was able to meet one; it is also rare to hear the true Dharma, but I heard it. Over the past few decades, I had always wanted to meet such a virtuous guru, so when the opportunity arose, I knew that I should definitely take refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche and follow his teachings closely. Unfortunately, due to the deep-seated karmic power caused by the five poisons, my mind was wavering. Whenever I was in front of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the glorious light of blessings and wisdoms emitted by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche would drive away all internal and external darkness in my body and mind, and Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s enlightenment I was listening to let me feel being enlightened a little; but whenever I returned to my daily routine and ordinary environment, I would relapse into my old ways again. My mind would be filled with doubt and hesitation. I was wondering whether I should take refuge or not. Since I had taken refuge under another Dharma Master before, I worried that if I now took refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, it might somehow be invalid. On July 27th, 2003, the puja of ceremony for taking refuge was held; I was hesitant and could not decide whether to attend or not. I waited until the very last moment to enter the venue and took a seat, feeling more than just a little perturbed. Before conducting the refuge ceremony, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche gave a Dharma talk, it was simple and easy to understand but just as profound as the talks that he had given previously, my vexations had once again been made to completely melt away. I cannot help but feel grateful that I did not miss the opportunity to take refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

The Auspicious Teachings of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche Cause the After Effects of SARS to Disappear without a Trace

In recalling this experience, I have also remembered that even after my bout with SARS, I experienced such after effects as pulmonary fibrosis, reduced lung function, hepatitis, gastroenteritis, and minor arthritis. On the other hand, my colleagues who had also been infected with the virus suffered such terrible after effects as ischemic necrosis of the femoral head, pathological peripheral nerve changes, hair loss and so forth. Most doctors thought that pulmonary fibrosis was irreversible, meaning the illness would leave scars on the lungs and would likely never fully disappear. However, half a year after taking refuge under Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, I underwent a follow-up physical exam and the results indicated that all of the after effects of SARS had vanished and all my physical and mental functions were back to normal. It is interesting to note that the abnormalities suffered by other SARS patients did not manifest in my case. In view of the fact that I had contracted this serious illness, it is truly miraculous that I have now fully recovered to the point of being healthier than the average person my own age (Please see attached photo). Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has often said that, “these so-called miracles are not actually miracles. Any one, who is able to practice Buddhism accordingly, will also be able to achieve these miracles. The many miraculous accounts spoke of in the Sutras are not fictional. They are all true.” I feel that my recovery from SARS is a miracle, and that it is an even greater miracle that the after effects have also disappeared. These are both examples of the miraculous occurrences that Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has revealed to us through the Buddha Dharma. Such unimaginable miracles have been manifested both in me and in the hundreds of thousands of people who have received Rinpoche’s help. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has performed these miracles in order to lead us to the blessed path of liberation from life and death, but if we only focus on the miracles, and ignore the precious teachings of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, we indeed only see the Guru but actually miss the Guru.

Disciple, Wang Zun-Wen

Photo 1: Dr. Wang Zun-Wen, the attending physician
of the emergency unit of Taipei City Heping Hospital.
Photo was taken on June 30, 2009. Dr. Wang does not
have any of SARS-induced sequelae since 2003.

Updated on July 13, 2009