693: Seize the Moment! A Living Bodhisattva Is Right in Front of Our Eyes

Dharma brothers and honorable believers, hello! I am grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, Dharma Protector Achi, the Lineage’s founding guru, Throne Holders of the Order, and all of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas for granting me this opportunity to share an account of what I have learned over the past three years since I took refuge. I am Hong Limei of Group 2. My Dharma name is Huiyin Drolma, and I took refuge on September 11th, 2011. The day after participating in the Grand Puja held that August of that year, I threw divination blocks to ask Thousand-Armed and Thousand-Eyed Avalokiteshvara whether Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara had truly received and liberated all the sentient beings that had been brought by the more than twenty thousand attendees to the Grand Puja the previous day, as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had proclaimed. To my surprise, as soon as I tossed those two blocks down, one of them landed right-side up and the other landed upside-down! (I repent for having used this sort of method to ask questions before I started practicing Buddhism; since taking refuge, though, I have never done it again.) This result motivated me to seek an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

On the day of my audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, when it was my turn, I implored for four things: The first was for the guru to bless my mom and my mother-in-law. They were elderly, and I hoped that they could be safe, at peace, lucky, and healthy. Secondly, I implored him to grant me permission to participate in the pujas, because I hoped to change my current causes as well as my future effects. Thirdly, I wished to listen to the Dharma CD entitled Repentance so that I could learn to repent for all of the karmic hindrances I had accumulated from evil acts committed over lifetime after lifetime, as well as the evil karma I had created in this one. Finally, if I was lucky enough to be able to participate in the pujas, I implored the guru to bestow blessings upon me to eliminate all of the evil obscuring my mind, increase my wisdom, and enlighten me so that I could practice Buddhism, become liberated from life and death, and be reborn in the Pure Land of Utmost Bliss without hindrance.

After listening to my requests, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked, ‘Wow, where did you come from? How do you know so many Buddhist terms?’ I hurriedly replied that I had learned them from watching television. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, ‘Surely not just from that; where were you taught?’ Reluctantly, I answered that I had attended the Buddhist center in Shuangxi. The guru, ‘Oh, that place is very good, very good indeed! You should just go ahead and practice there!’ Quickly I reported to him that I had participated in the Grand Puja, and that it was my belief that if I were to be liberated, then the sentient beings with whom I had connections would be liberated, too—and that if I were saved, then they would be as well. Thereupon, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche compassionately picked up a Dharma instrument to bestow blessings upon me, and granted me permission to participate in the pujas. When I tried to make an offering to him, he refused to accept it, because I still was not his disciple at the time.

The second time I participated in a puja, it happened to be one in which a refuge ceremony was being conducted. I thought to myself: Here I am, having encountered such a meritorious master practitioner, yet I have no idea how I might take refuge! Suddenly I heard a person on stage say, “Anyone who has not registered to take refuge, but who would like to, please come up.” Without hesitation, I charged straight up onto the stage.

I am grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche who, in his immense compassion, was willing to take such a problematic disciple as myself under his wing and bestow upon me the opportunity to learn Buddhism, thus enabling me to alter many affinities. In 2012, our guru led us disciples in a continuous, twenty-four-hour chant of the Amitayus Mantra at the Buddhist Center to celebrate His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s birthday. Not only was this a great show of respect for Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s guru, but he also compassionately allowed his disciples to participate so that we could accumulate good fortune. He is constantly setting a good example for his disciples and thinking of their welfare.

In 2013 I participated in the Amitayus Puja held in honor of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s birthday. His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had painstakingly prepared a bowl made of lapis lazuli and filled with gold, pearls, sea coral, and countless other fantastic treasures. Making such an offering of the highest quality to His Holiness showed the respect, gratitude, and generosity Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche feels toward his guru. For this all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, in Heaven and on Earth, gave joyous praise. So that the disciples could get on stage with him, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche sacrificed his own honor and glory and chose to line up with his disciples to make the final offering to His Holiness. Someone of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s status should have been the first to make an offering, but in order to spread the Right Dharma, he seeks neither fame nor profit, as proved by this display of sincerity and genuineness. I am grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for allowing us disciples to participate in such an auspicious event to make offerings. I shamefully asked myself whether or not I had ever made such a devoted offering to my guru, who so selflessly and compassionately cares for his disciples.

In 2014, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche made an all-out effort within a very short period of time to single-handedly complete the establishment of His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s Buddhism Foundation. Only Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was capable of achieving such a monumentally arduous task, and the gala celebrating the Foundation’s establishment, which was held on the 22nd of June, was very successfully made known to the public. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did all of this just to fulfill his guru’s wishes.

The Grand Pujas Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche holds each year have never given special honors to any major donors or created price lists for the lighting of lamps as offerings to the Buddha. Once participating, all sentient beings, rich or poor, are treated equally; lots are drawn publicly for both lamp-lighting and offering the mandala. Nothing is done behind closed doors. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche once said, ‘If we were to set a price for any of our services, then what would poor people do? Buddhism is not the province of the rich, nor can one put a price on it. Before the Dharma, all sentient beings are equals; there is no difference between them.’ Other Buddhist centers and temples out there are hardly able to do so. After each Grand Puja, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche takes all of the attendees’ offerings and adds them to his own and donates them to the Social Affairs Administration at the Ministry of the Interior to assist those in urgent need of help.

Recently there was a soldier who had suffered an accident, but for some reason was unable to get help from the military. After obtaining Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s permission, the Ministry of the Interior gave assistance to the soldier’s family from this special account. Our guru’s pure compassion has been consistent for decades. In contrast, prior to taking refuge in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, I always went to the temple at the beginning of the year and paid a fee to light lamps for my family members, quell strife, and placate Tai Sui. Every July, I would write down the names of the deceased so that they could be liberated, as well as the names of the living to pray for blessings for them. I always spent a lot of money without actually knowing whether or not this had any effect. Since taking refuge, not once have I seen Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche charge any fees in the name of Buddhism. Such an impeccable and meritorious guru truly cannot be found anywhere else. Looking at Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s eternal and unquestioning devotion to his guru, I have asked myself whether I have ever been so attentive and observant to mine. I have not. Nevertheless, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continues to take care of all of his disciples, regardless.

His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche prohibits his ordained disciples from accepting any offerings, because offerings must be repaid. If they cannot repay people with the Dharma, they will fall into hell. For this reason the guru provides clothing, food, shelter, and transportation to all of the monastics so that they can learn Buddhism in peace and focus on their Dharma activities. Where else would I be able to find such a meritorious guru who is always thinking so conscientiously about his disciples? Moreover, I am grateful to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for frequently giving us disciples so many opportunities to accumulate good fortune, and allowing our tiny drops of water to add to his great ocean of merits.

Furthermore, one time, after an ordained disciple passed away, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche immediately took over the responsibility of caring for her elderly mother. Our guru’s compassion is so great that he viewed this disciple’s mother as his own, tending to her needs and taking very good care of her. There have also been disciples without enough money to pay for a funeral, and our guru has often reached a hand into his own wallet to help. For disciples unable to look after their kids, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has hired experienced nannies to watch the children in their place so that the disciples can have peace of mind with which to complete their schooling. Those disciples who are ill or have tumors, and who have listened in earnest to the Dharma taught by the guru, have had their pain alleviated and are therefore able to continue practicing Buddhism. All of this is thanks to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. There was a disciple on the verge of death who, luckily, was called back by our guru; this act returned the disciple to the land of the living, and he is now robust again. All of these are manifestations of Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s great compassion and awe-inspiring powers.

Soon after taking refuge, before I’d made any offerings to our guru or donations to support the Buddhist Center, I was fortunate enough to have Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to hear my supplications. Rinpoche prevented my mother-in-law from feeling any pain during the two operations she underwent within half a month, and he brought her back from death’s door. Although my mother-in-law’s arms and legs still do not work very well, and she is confined to a wheel chair, she still has her wits about her. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings saved me from having to spend an incalculable amount in medical and nursing expenses, and enabled me to continue attending the Buddhist Center so that I could learn Buddhism. The guru also saved my son. When he and a pregnant woman crashed their cars into each other, all their lives were spared—including that of the woman’s unborn child. Had something horrible happened, our entire family would immediately have been plunged into a desperate predicament. How then would I have been able to keep coming here to practice Buddhism in Rinpoche’s footsteps? I am grateful for our guru’s compassionate blessings.

One time, thanks to an introduction made by a friend, I acquired a piece of land. It was my wish to transfer the title over to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche; perhaps he would be able to use it to build a retreat center. During an audience with him, he told me that the piece of land was not suitable for building a temple, and that he would not build a second home for himself, so he graciously declined my offer. I praise the guru for his utter lack of greed. There was also once a Dharma brother who wished to make an offering of more than NT$20 million in cash, but who was unable to persuade Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to accept it no matter how many times he tried. The guru remained steadfast, and never changed his mind. Any other person would likely have quickly pocketed the money first and worried about it later.

There was once a Dharma brother who, feeling ashamed at having taken refuge for years without making any good offerings to the guru, worked very hard to come up with a sum of money for that purpose. However, while seeking an audience with our guru, she was told by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, ‘You don’t have much money, so I’ll just take one bill and call it even.’ He then gave her back the other ninety-nine bills. Deeply moved, this Dharma brother was convinced that our guru has a complete understanding of everyone’s heart. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s every word and action is uttered and taken with consideration for us disciples. As long as an offering is made out of respect and from the depths of one’s heart, our guru is sure to know it.

My karmic retribution manifested because I had not followed our guru’s teachings. Last year, after listening to a Dharma CD and writing a report on it, I erroneously wrote the character si instead of the character shi. For this my punishment was to not be allowed to make offerings for two whole months, and I was also forbidden to learn Tantra. At the time I felt extremely sad; it seemed incredible to me that I should be punished so severely for having miswritten just a single character. However, the reason our guru uses such a strict style of teaching is to remind us to face our real problems. I remember, back when I used to practice Exoteric Buddhism, I mistakenly believed that as a main donor for the temple, I would be able to accumulate good fortune, so I got carried away in doing so. I thought I could go to the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss if I participated in Dharma activities and recited the sutras, chanted mantras, and performed penitential rites at home. Only after taking refuge in His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did I come to understand how wrong I’d been. Without a meritorious guru to guide me, I would not be able to become liberated from life and death, eliminate my suffering, or obtain happiness, no matter how many sutras I might recite, penitential rites I might attend, or mantras I might chant.

I am so grateful for our guru’s compassionate and auspicious teachings. They helped to rid me of an arrogance for which I repent deeply. The punishment of not being allowed to make any offerings was very painful, for I was unable to take part in Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s vast ocean of merits. This was truly a great loss for me. Even after having attained such a high level of fruition, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche still continues to give major alms; what does this say about ordinary people like ourselves? I recalled the original aspiration I had while taking refuge, as well as the promise I made to Rinpoche. On March 8th of 2014, I sought an audience and implored His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to transmit the Dharma method of Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara to me. In his compassion, he instructed me to obtain signed consent from all the Dharma brothers on my team, and said that only then would he agree. At the time I thought to myself, Oh no! I’ve never thought about this before. I’ll have to bow to more than a hundred people in order to get their signatures. Previously I would never have been able to accomplish such a thing, but Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche knew that about me, and thus ferreted me out. As our guru once said, his teaching method is to make us disciples do precisely the thing that we dislike the most. He is the guru in which I have taken refuge; as such, everything he shows me—from merry laughter, to angry scolding, to outright punishment—is for my own good. It is only right for me to completely submit, listen, and do what I am told, and I am currently still working very hard at this task. Our guru’s teaching method of hitting the nail on the head is something almost non-existent at any other Buddhist center.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said on a Dharma CD that he had once asked His Holiness, “Why do I have so many disciples? Is it that I owe them?” The Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang had answered, “Yes.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has also said that he owes his disciples because he has not done a good job of teaching us in previous lifetimes. I feel very ashamed, because it is not that he has not taught us well; it is that we have not done a very good job of learning. We have encumbered our guru with our many faults, and I myself have not been able to help at all. Everything a guru does to benefit sentient beings is done without asking for anything in return, yet we must not continue to make our guru work so hard to look after us; this cannot last forever.

Nowhere in the entire world—or in the entire universe—can such a meritorious guru be found. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche does everything he can to take care of us disciples, our family members, and even our pets; our guru is tireless, omniscient, and ever-present—twenty-four hours a day, 365 days a year. Convenience stores might be open twenty-four hours a day, but even their employees get to work in shifts; Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, on the other hand, has no one to relieve or stand in for him. Our guru would even sacrifice his own life and property in order to propagate the Dharma and benefit sentient beings. Every Saturday he receives believers and applies the Dharma to rid sentient beings of their difficult problems and various ailments, all without charging them a single cent. I have been to many Buddhist centers around Taiwan, yet have never met such a virtuous and moral person as Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. If our guru were not such a master practitioner, he would not be able to do such remarkable deeds.

Every Sunday Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche comes to the Buddhist Center to teach the Dharma, allowing us to get close to our guru and listen closely to the Right Dharma while leading us in our evening prayers. I am grateful to Protector Achi and the Dharma protectors for looking after everyone. As soon as I arrive at the Buddhist Center, I can smell the scent of the Right Dharma; after each puja, I see the Buddha’s light illuminating everyone around. It causes their faces to appear bright and healthy, much more effectively than any brand-name skin care product ever could. I am grateful for the guru’s great efforts of compassionately bestowing good fortune upon us and fulfilling our needs of eye, ear, nose, tongue, body, and mind every Sunday. Despite being extremely busy, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performs the Chod on a monthly basis, offering his flesh to the many karmic creditors brought by each disciple so that they can obtain help from the Dharma and have a good place to go.

I took refuge three years ago, and have participated in dozens of Chod Pujas. There I pray for blessings for people still living, and for the liberation of those who have passed away. If NT$1,000 were charged for each of them, there is no telling how much money I would have had to pay by now. However, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has never asked his disciples to pay any fees at all. What would we do without our guru? I believe that the world would end and nothing would be left; how, then, would we have the opportunity to practice Buddhism, become liberated from life and death, and be reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land? I urge my Dharma brothers to give some sincere thought to this question: What have you actually done for our meritorious guru, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche? Shouldn’t we all rouse ourselves to unite and work together with a common purpose, putting forth all our effort and grasping every opportunity to make offerings and support this Buddhist Center? We disciples should genuinely take action and stop making our guru constantly have to look after us. Instead, we should do what we can to allow Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to have energy to spare so that his great ocean of merits might encompass even more suffering sentient beings. Our guru, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas will all come to help us to become liberated from the suffering of reincarnation so that we can be reborn in the Pure Land without hindrances.

May we all, in a united spirit of cooperation, help Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, our guru of lifetime after lifetime, to have enough strength to benefit even more sentient beings and propagate Buddhism so that the Dharma is not lost but instead remains in this world forever. Finally, I pray that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche will have good health, keep turning the Dharma wheel, and that our guru’s Buddhist activities thrive, attain perfect completion, and continue to help countless sentient beings everywhere. May the Drikung Kagyu Order’s lineage and traditions maintain an eternal presence in this world, and may its teachings be transmitted over and over, so that all sentient beings throughout the Dharma Realm can benefit!

Respectfully written by Disciple Hong Limei, Group 2, on November 9th, 2014
Updated on November 11th, 2016

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Updated on August 31, 2017