674: The Buddha Light Illuminates All of Life’s Dark Corners

Praise be unto His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, the Lineage Gurus, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas! Greetings, honorable believers and Dharma brothers. I am Huiwei Drolma (Chen Yijing ) of Group Five and my son is Kungtrul Dinghong (Xu Yaozhong). Today I would like to share an account of how His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche blessed and saved us.

On January 1st, 2003, my son was in a severe car accident while on leave from active duty. He measured a 3 on the Glasgow Coma Scale and could not move his eyes; his pupils looked as though they were fragmented. He had to be put on life support, and the doctors officially diagnosed him as being in a vegetative state. The accident left my son with his fifth to eleventh ribs broken, as well as his collarbones. Due to a fracture in his pubic bones, his urethra had ruptured, making him have to use a stoma connected to his bladder and leaving him unable to control his urination. The accident had also caused all four ventricles of his brain to join into one, blending his entire brain together. The doctors explained to me that brain tissue was like a chunk of tofu, and extreme shock would cause it to fragment. All surgery would be useless, and he would not be able to recover.

Therefore, my son lay in bed in a vegetative state for eight months and twenty-three days. Although he woke up after that, his brain and central nervous system had been severely damaged, and his lower back had been so impacted that it could no longer support him. When trying to walk he had no strength in his waist, and he had trouble with his sense of balance, so he was unstable on his feet; his body tended to lean to the right and forward, putting him at risk of falling over, so he had to use a wheelchair. His brain damage was quite severe, too; his speech was slurred, and his intelligence had reverted to that of a five- or six-year-old. He lacked short-term memory, often forgetting immediately things that he had just done. Sometimes he took his medicine several times too many in the same day. He had poor hand-eye and limb coordination, too. The worst part, however, was that he was unable to control his moods; he would frequently fly into a rage for no reason. Moreover, he is a very big boy, so whenever he got mad, no one could hold him down. He would often scare the nurses and other patients’ family members, and ordinary caregivers could not look after him, so as his mother, that responsibility fell squarely on my shoulders.

Due to my son’s military status, he was able to remain in the hospital for more than nine years, during which time I continued to care for him. His moods and headstrong nature resulted in frequent major and minor disputes, and while caring for him, I discovered I had endometrial cancer. These various pressures left me physically and emotionally exhausted, and all that torment made me absolutely miserable. While undergoing half a year of chemotherapy, I suffered a side effect that left my feet feeling like pincushions, and they would often go soft while I was walking, causing me to fall down. I also suffered from other side effects like nausea and urinary and bowel incontinence. After each excruciating chemotherapy treatment, I would go back to the ward and see that my son had still not made any progress and still was unable to control his moods; this made me feel even more that life no longer had any hope to speak of, and only infinite suffering lay in front of us. I remember, in the ward one day, my son chucked a hissy fit at me for no reason; he was yelling curses at me, and no one could hold my strong son down. More nurses rushed over in alarm, and in the end, they had no choice but to separate him from me. When that happened, I was in utter agony inside; I cannot describe how profoundly that stung my heart.

Right when I had hit rock bottom, something happened that changed my and my son’s life forever. One day in 2011, while I was taking my son to the hospital for physiotherapy, I bumped into a Dharma brother who often took her son there for the same reason. She waved at me, and then invited me to participate in the Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness. At the time I thought about the many other Dharma events I had already attended, so I did not take her invitation seriously, and therefore did not agree to go. After a while, during another encounter with her, she again asked me to participate in a puja. I suddenly felt that there wouldn’t be any harm in going, after all, so I said yes.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presiding over the Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness, benefiting countless sentient beings

The first time I attended the Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness, I felt an unexplainable wave of emotion well up from deep inside me. While I was watching His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, tears streamed down my face, and I felt indescribably excited. I had never felt this when participating in any of those other pujas. The Dharma brother advised me to seek an audience with the guru. When my son and I went to see him, Rinpoche compassionately asked what the matter was, and I told him everything that had happened since my son’s car accident in 2003. Without a moment’s hesitation, the compassionate Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said to my son, “I will help you.” At the same time, he also granted us permission to participate in the regular Sunday pujas and the Chod Pujas. We left the Buddhist Center with our hearts bursting with gratitude.

After participating in only two pujas, I discovered a major improvement in my son’s bedwetting situation: Whereas before, he had no control, and would urinate the second he felt he had to go, he had gotten much better in this regard, and no longer needed to wear a diaper twenty-four hours a day. Furthermore, his drooling had improved greatly, too. The people at the nurses’ station would look in on him now and then compliment him how quickly he was improving. They thought it was because he was young, but as his mother I knew very well that all of these changes were thanks to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings. In the two months after participating in the pujas, I took my son with me to implore to take refuge. Very compassionately, the guru again said, “I will help you.” He then blessed my son and granted him permission to take refuge.

At the time, I did not ask to take refuge myself, but after we withdrew, a Dharma brother advised that I do so. When I again approached Rinpoche, he simply said, “You only want to take refuge to keep your son company; you don’t actually want to take refuge yourself.” Suddenly filled with shame, I withdrew. When we got home, I reflected in earnest on my attitude and why I wanted to take refuge. I realized that I had been neglecting my mind, which had never completely settled down; my thoughts were very chaotic and impulsive. As soon as anything happened, I would get very worried and not know what to do, other than cry. Furthermore, I had not genuinely made a firm resolution to eat vegetarian. My son had requested that I eat vegetarian with him, but I would occasionally sneak down to the hospital cafeteria to eat meat. After seeking this audience with Rinpoche, however, and hearing his firm exhortation to eat vegetarian, I went home and found that I had lost all urge to eat meat. I am grateful for Rinpoche’s blessings.

When I again sought an audience with Rinpoche to sincerely implore to take refuge, he finally consented. This meant I had truly been freed from the “prison of the mind” in which I had locked myself up for so many years. The ten years I had cared for my son at the hospital had been like a cell without bars. My daily, repetitive duty had been to help him with his physiotherapy. On top of this, his brain damage had made his mood extremely unstable. He also had been unable to chew or tear food, and had to swallow in big gulps. He’d had no awareness as to whether the food was hot or cold, and it often had gotten stuck in his throat. These were worries I’d had to face every day. As his mother, my heart had ached so much for him that I would often curl up into a ball and cry by myself, not knowing who could help me.

After taking refuge, every time I listened to my Dharma brothers share their experiences at the Buddhist Center, I gained more of a realization of how my past wrongdoings had harmed countless sentient beings. I no longer considered myself to be a good person; on the contrary, I thought of myself as an extremely evil one. I am grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s encouragement; without his guidance, alas, this lifetime of mine would have been wasted. Now, too, I am doing my best with what meager effort I have to use my experiences as examples to convince my friends and family that “even a small act of kindness is worth doing, and even a minor act of evil should be avoided at all costs.”

For these past more than two years of continuously participating in the pujas, my son has undergone a transformation. Every time he has a mood swing, he thinks of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s precious teachings, and is able to slowly rein in his temper. He no longer loses control to the point of trembling with anger the way he used to. My son is also able to walk with a much better posture now, and no longer needs to wear a diaper when he goes out; he has gradually been able to bring his toileting under control. This has made it a lot easier for me to care for him, too. My son likes going to the Buddhist Center very much; when there every Saturday, he constantly makes prostrations before the guru. At first, fearing this might bother others, I wanted to stop him, but later a Dharma brother told me that if my son wanted to make prostrations, I should let him. After that I relaxed about it. He feels extremely happy every time he makes prostrations.

My son used to have some bad habits, and was incorrigible despite my repeated advice. Since we started coming to the Buddhist Center, however, the Dharma brothers have spoken to him, and he has slowly changed, and not even gotten mad. I know that all of this is due to Rinpoche’s blessings. The Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center is like one great big family. I used to get flustered whenever I encountered a problem, but since coming here, my mind has settled down quite a bit. Now, when something happens, I deal with it by drawing from the guru’s teachings, as well as help from my Dharma brothers. Most importantly, I have His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to rely on; because of this, I no longer fear the future.

In the past, so that my son could recover as quickly as possible, I used to try whatever sort of treatment anyone suggested, and it was not uncommon for me to spend more than a hundred thousand NT dollars in a single month. I have stopped all that now that my son has seen such a great improvement since he began participating in the pujas. I have a friend who, upon seeing the transformation in both my son and me, also sought an audience with Rinpoche; however, after several months, she left due to the erroneous assumption that eating vegetarian would not provide enough nutrition. She even claimed that being illiterate, elderly, and feeble had made her unable to learn Buddhism. I know full well that a person without good fortune cannot have the opportunity to learn Buddhism from Rinpoche; this is where my friend and I differ.

Prior to seeking audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, I was diagnosed with endometrial cancer. At my doctor’s suggestion, I very reluctantly underwent chemotherapy, but the side effects were unbearably agonizing; it caused both soles of my feet to feel like they were being pricked with needles, and it often hurt so badly that I couldn’t walk. The harm the chemicals did to my gut also left me unable to control my bowel movements; the second I felt an urge to go, I needed to hurry to the toilet, and if I were too slow in getting there, I would have an accident. Meanwhile, the chemotherapy also weakened my immune system and sapped the strength out of my legs, frequently leaving me prone to falling down, and after walking just a short distance I would be out of breath and need to rest. I had never reported any of these various discomforts to Rinpoche, let alone implored for blessings, yet right after I started participating in the pujas and took refuge in him, I got completely better: The soles of my feet no longer stung when I walked, and I regained continence. Since then I have not undergone any chemotherapy or taken any Western medicine; I only take Chinese medicine, and have been doing so for more than two years. Everything is better than it was before, and I am deeply grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

Certificates of diagnosis for Chen Yijing and her son, Xu Yaozhong

One time, when I was taking my son by taxi to the hospital for physiotherapy, the driver was on the phone the whole way there. We only discovered that one of the tires was flat once we had gotten out of the car and someone walked up to tell us. When I later told my friends and family about this, I learned how extremely dangerous it is to drive on the freeway with a punctured tire. However, no one in the car at the time had felt anything amiss. This was what shocked me into realizing that all along, we had been under the protection of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas, without even being aware of it. I truly am so grateful.

I had often heard other Dharma brothers share accounts of their auspicious pilgrimages overseas, so after taking refuge, I, too, was happy to put down my name to join a group going to India—a completely unfamiliar place I had never visited. After the puja there was concluded, I felt quite exhausted, so I went back to the hotel room to rest. I asked the Dharma brother with whom I was sharing the room to take the key with her when she went out so that she could come and go easily, and before long I was asleep. Suddenly I heard a ruckus outside the door; there was enthusiastic shouting, applause, the sounds of instruments, and so on, as people welcomed His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s arrival. I immediately jumped out of bed and got my clothes on, and was about to go outside to greet the guru, when I abruptly remembered that I had given the key to my roommate—and the door would not open. An instant later she returned. I asked her, “Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is here at the hotel, right?” The Dharma brother replied, “No!” Only then did it suddenly occur to me that I did not actually have a genuine desire to practice Buddhism; I had merely been standing outside the door, looking in. In my muddled state, I realized that I was not yet completely resolved.

That night, I dreamed that a serious conflict occurred between my son and my husband. I woke with a start, and suddenly understood that I had not really let go yet; my heart was still full of attachments. This overseas pilgrimage gave me a very good opportunity for self-reflection. Another Dharma brother in my travel group shared with me an account of how her husband had abruptly passed away, and then said, “It’s not necessary to own a house; it’s okay to rent one, too.” These words shocked me awake and untangled me from my attachments. All along I had been worried about what would happen to my son and who would care for him if I were to die before he did. As a result, I had been determined to leave a house behind, as well as money to cover my son’s living expenses. I had been constantly stressing over his future and unable to let go of that worry; this was my attachment. I also now knew that if I could not let my worries go in this lifetime, then I would not be able to obtain true liberation.

“During a visit to Nepal, my Dharma brothers and I all circled the stupa twenty-one times, but because I had trouble walking, I was the last one to finish. As I saw all my Dharma brothers waiting for me and coming over to take my rucksack to lighten my load, the saying, “liberate oneself and liberate others,” suddenly passed through my mind. I might walk slowly, but I hope to put my utmost effort into following in the footsteps of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. While on the bus, I heard a little Dharma brother say, “In addition to being grateful to our guru, I am even more grateful to his parents, as well as His Holiness.” I immediately felt astonished and very moved that such a young person could have such a sense of gratitude. I sighed at just how much I myself still have to learn.

Also, I took my daughter, who was still a believer, with me to take part in the fire offering in Hiroshima, Japan and pilgrimage to Caoxi Temple in Kun-Da-Li, Yunnan. It was my hope that this would allow her to listen to other Dharma brothers share accounts of how Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had liberated sentient beings, and help her comprehend the warmth of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center that her mother so appreciates. Even more, I hoped that in the not-too-distant future, my daughter herself could also learn Buddhism from Rinpoche. I am grateful for the many opportunities to learn that Rinpoche has granted me, and for all his selfless encouragement.

Since taking refuge and listening to the guru’s precious Dharma teachings, I have come to know deep down that all of my suffering has come about as a result of my karmic retribution, and that it is my due; it is a debt that must be repaid, and I gladly accept it. I also am fully aware that I am incapable of resolving my own suffering, and am even less able to help my son. In order to solve our problems and escape the abyss of suffering, we must completely rely on Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. At the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, the guru cares for all disciples and their family members as though he were the head of a big family encompassing us all. Every single line of the Dharma that he expounds can be applied in our daily lives. I am sincerely grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for his compassionate teachings, to my Dharma brothers for introducing me, and for all their assistance.

Chen Yijing (first on the left) and her son Xu Yaozhong (middle) and granddaughter (first on the right) are all very grateful for the guru’s compassionate help.

Respectfully written by Disciple Chen Yijing, Group 5, on July 27, 2014
Modified on December 12, 2018

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Updated on June 9, 2019