715: The Guru Propagates Buddhism and Helps Sentient Beings Across All Boundaries

Praise be unto His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, the Drikung Kagyu Lineage Gurus, Dharma Protector Achi, the Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas. Greetings, Dharma brothers and honored believers! I am Lee Shunming of Group Five. I am grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for bestowing upon me the opportunity to share with everyone an account of the causal origination that have led me to take refuge, as well as how he helped me and my family. I will also repent for all of the evil acts I have committed.

My family and I immigrated to America in 1972, when I was still just a freshman in college. I have lived there for more than forty years, during which time I received an education, built a career, got married, and had a child. One day in October of 2010, after having a major surgery done on my gallbladder, I was in the middle of postoperative recovery when it hit me that the guru I was following at the time was also of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage, yet had never mentioned anything to do with the Order. That day, suddenly feeling very curious about this lineage, I did an internet search with the words, “Drikung Kagyu,” and His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s official website came up. It contained detailed descriptions of the Drikung Kagyu Lineage, and after respectfully reading through them, I took down some notes.

Homepage of the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center’s official website

As I was navigating away from that site, I somehow accidentally pressed a key on my keyboard and was suddenly taken to the “Traces of Liberating Beings” page on the Drikung Kagyu Order’s Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center’s website. This was unfathomable, because afterward I learned that the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center’s website has a link to His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang’s official website—but not the other way around. To this day I have never been able to recreate whatever action took me there in the first place. I would like to give my sincere thanks to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for compassionately helping sentient beings in the void, including a person like myself with such low root capacity and who lacks good fortune and causal conditions.

After reading respectfully through the Traces of Liberating Beings, I felt a huge shock deep down, wondering how such a remarkable and awesome guru could exist in this world. Anyone, suffering from any sort of disaster or difficulty—whether in birth, old age, sickness, or death—need only implore with sincerity and respect, and this guru would use very unique methods to help and to resolve those problems. Furthermore, the strict discipline with which this guru led his disciples was something that I had never heard of or seen at any other Buddhist center.

After that, I made an international call from America to order a copy of H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s book, Happiness and Suffering. After reading it, I had the audacity to write an email asking the guru to liberate my mother, who had passed away not quite forty-nine days previously. Also, in my extreme ignorance, I inquired how to make an offering to H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche on her behalf. I also asked how I could take refuge in the guru, given the fact that both my doctor and family members did not approve of my eating vegetarian due to my thalassemia.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performing the Chod for sentient beings.

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche Compassionately liberated Lee Shunming’s (right) deceased mother (left), but would not accept an offering.

In his enormous compassion, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche wrote back that he would liberate my mother during that month’s Chod Puja. The guru also said that my thalassemia was a result of cause and effect, and had no bearing on whether or not I should eat vegetarian. He also mentioned that a man with severe thalassemia had taken refuge, and afterward had improved greatly. Right then and there, believing that H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had already blessed me, I felt extremely moved and grateful. What was I still hesitating for? And so, from that day on, I began to eat vegetarian. After that I wrote and called again and again to ask the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center how to transfer funds to make a monetary offering to the guru for liberating my mother, but my efforts elicited no response whatsoever. At other Buddhist centers, liberation came with a price tag; no one could obtain liberation for a loved one without paying for it up front. Only later did I learn that the compassionate Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche does not accept offerings unless they are from his disciples, and this made me realize that this master practitioner benefits sentient beings selflessly and without asking for anything in return. After that, I dreamed of my mother a few times; she appeared young, and smiling. Apparently she had indeed been delivered to a good place by the compassionate guru, and for this I am eternally grateful.

Afterwards, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche compassionately explained to me the differences between “taking refuge in accordance with one’s connection” and “genuinely taking refuge,” I gained a profound sense that he is a rare, meritorious guru who practices in strict accordance with the Dharma. Convinced that I should commit myself wholeheartedly to learning Buddhism in his footsteps, in mid-February of 2011, immediately after flying back to Taipei from America, I went to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center to seek an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, during which I implored to take refuge. I am grateful to the guru for compassionately allowing me, on the 27th of that month, to formally take refuge as a Glorious Jewel disciple.

Soon thereafter, a Dharma brother told me about the very difficult marital problems she’d experienced for a couple of years, and how during that time H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had frequently bestowed teachings related to marriage. She had followed the guru’s guidance, and two years later their marital issues were resolved and everything had returned to normal. She was extremely grateful to the guru. I asked her, “So in those two years, how many audiences you sought with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche?” She replied, “Not even one.” I was dumbfounded; without seeking any audiences to implore for the guru’s blessings and personal guidance, how could that be possible? It was utterly unfathomable to me.

To my surprise, soon there were equally impossible things happened to me as well. At the time I was home in America, and had been feeling very dizzy. I went for a checkup, and our family doctor informed me that my thalassemia had caused my hemoglobin count to fall to 7.1, and that if it continued to go down, I would have to be admitted to the hospital for a blood transfusion to keep from being at risk of dying. As a result, the doctor wanted me to continue returning to the clinic for blood tests. I’d had so many tests like that over the years, but this time I was not as afraid as before. Deciding not to undergo any further blood transfusions, I visualized H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. I am grateful to the guru for teaching me the Right Dharma and for providing me the great ability to rely on him so that I could fearlessly face my possible death with peace.

Two days later, a nurse at our family doctor’s clinic called to inform me, “Your hemoglobin count has risen back to normal levels, so you don’t need to come back for any further tests.” Momentarily unable to believe my ears, I asked her to double-check the examination report to make sure it was the right one, and she replied that there was no mistake; the name on it was indeed mine. After handing up, I felt absolutely thrilled. In the past, whenever my hemoglobin count had fallen that low, I would have to spend a very long time resting and recuperating before it would gradually go back up from 7.1 to 7.2 to 7.3 and so on. Sometimes it would then fall back down, and it would take three to six months or even longer before my levels had adjusted back to normal. This time, however, my hemoglobin count and health had returned to normal within just three or five days, and this was absolutely incredible. I am so grateful for H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate blessings; despite my being in America at the time, their power truly knew no bounds.

Another time, six months before graduating from law school, my son was given a very good position at a law firm. It is typical for more than half of American law school graduates to not be able to find a job as an attorney, and out of more than a hundred students in my son’s class, he ranked last. It was to our great surprise, therefore, that six months prior to graduating, he landed his dream job and became the envy of all his classmates. All of this was thanks to H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate blessings.

In the two or three years after I took refuge, I flew back and forth to participate in the Grand Memorial Puja for Lord Jigten Sumgön, the Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness, and pujas in Japan and India. Each trip was rushed; after staying two or three weeks, I would feel the need to hurry back to take care of my family in America. I saw this as a matter of course. During an audience with H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche the year before last, I repented for having slandered Amitabha and His Pure Land, the Buddha, and the Dharma, and committed so many serious evil acts over the past two decades of prior practice. The guru told me that as a result of my wicked views in my past lives, I had encountered wicked teachers and put my faith in evil religions in this lifetime. At the same time, he told me to write these things down.

After returning to America, I began to write a report, which I revised over and over. In the process, I was deeply grateful for H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s precious teachings, for they allowed me to understand that the extreme errors I’d had with my prior faith had grown from my constantly feeding the Five Poisons in myself, and had run completely contrary to becoming liberated from reincarnation. The guru also enabled me to gain a profound realization of the auspiciousness and rarity of Amitabha and His Pure Land. After writing all of this down and returning to Taipei, I respectfully presented my report to H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. The guru immediately instructed me to hand my report over to a Dharma brother who was a monastic. When I look back on it, I realize that by then Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had already made arrangements for my future practice of Buddhism, unbeknownst to my ignorance self.

A few days later, this monastic informed me that after having a look at my report, she had discovered that I’d completely missed the point. I felt very surprised to hear her say this; after all, I had spent a lot of time editing and rewriting my rather comprehensive report that was several pages long, so it should have been pretty complete. How could I have missed the point? This monastic asked me, “We have taken refuge in such a rare, meritorious guru. Wouldn’t it be a shame if you didn’t come back here to learn Buddhism from him?”

After talking to this Dharma brother, I felt very ashamed. My hurried trips back to Taipei to participate in the Grand Pujas while claiming to be learning Buddhism from H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche all suddenly felt very superficial. Actually, it had merely served to make me feel good and put on an appearance of cultivation. What had I actually learned? What lessons had I implemented in my life? When I deeply contemplated the guru’s teachings on the Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas, it struck me that how our family members from this and past lives are as countless as the ocean’s waves, drifting back and forth without number. H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, on the other hand, is the only one who can help me to escape this suffering sea of reincarnation and be reborn in the Pure Land. He is a meritorious guru, a rare encounter over the course of lifetimes or even kalpas. If I only took care of my home and family of this lifetime, and thus neglected to seize this extraordinary opportunity to learn Buddhism, then I would be foolish, and would have completely wasted my time on Earth.

Furthermore, as H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche taught that as we advance through our cultivation, we will be able to go to the Pure Land to practice and help sentient beings. These include our family members, so of course they, too, will benefit. In addition, the guru always cautions that we must see our Buddhist practice as the most important thing in our lives. I want to repent for not having acted in accordance with the guru’s teachings; instead, I saw my reincarnating family of this lifetime as most important. In the report I presented, though I continuously expressed my gratitude to H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, I went no further. It did not occur to me that I should commit to any action to follow the guru and practice Buddhism diligently. Now I realize that gratitude without action is quite empty, superficial, and utterly insignificant. No wonder the monastic Dharma brother said my report had completely missed the point.

Therefore, in April of last year (2014), I had a discussion with my husband during which I said that the Dharma taught by H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is extremely auspicious, and that I wished to return to Taiwan in June and stay there for at least three months so that I could learn Buddhism from the guru by participating in the general Sunday pujas each week, the puja trips to Japan, and so on. At the time I had no idea what his reaction would be; all I knew was that back when I was practicing Exoteric Buddhism and wanted to go out of town to listen to my then Dharma master expound the sutras for a month, my husband had pulled a long face and seemed very upset. However, to my great surprise, this time he readily said it wouldn’t be a problem, and that he could take care of himself.

I immediately felt overjoyed. I forced myself to remain calm, though, because I did not want to make my husband think I could be so happy despite the fact that I would be away from him for three months. After my time in Taiwan, my plane ticket originally had me returning to America in September of last year (2014). However, around that time, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche started to bestow upon us the auspicious cultivation method of Mani chanting in our Buddhist Center, so I discussed with my husband for remaining in Taiwan for a further three months. Following the guru, during that time I was able to participate in the perfectly complete Mani chanting for one hundred million times and attend the Ksitigarbha Blessing Puja at the Kyoto Buddhist Center in Japan. In total, I stayed in Taiwan for six months before returning to America.

Lee Shunming, despite suffering from severe thalassemia, successfully followed the guru to the ancestral monastery in Tibet, situated at an altitude of 4,500 meters above sea level.

I know that this was all thanks to H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious blessings and arrangements; were it not for the guru, things could not possibly have gone so smoothly for me. In his compassion, H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche knew that if a disciple such as myself, who has committed so many evil acts, were to continue practicing Buddhism in such an inconsistent, superficial manner, then when impermanence and karmic retribution hit, I would definitely not be able to bear it by myself. I was like someone trying to pay off millions of dollars’ worth of debt by only working a part-time job for an hour or two each day: How could I possibly repay such a huge debt? While instructing me to write that report, the guru had simultaneously been helping me to make arrangements for my future path of cultivation, and compassionately removing many hindrances to my Buddhist practice.

This is why we must not stray far from our guru. It is not that he needs us; rather, we need him. Nowadays there is a tacit understanding between my husband and me; I live in Taiwan for at least six months out of every year. I hope that in the not-too-distant future our whole family will be able to move back to Taiwan to take up permanent residence. Moreover, I must continue working hard to change myself, because as H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche once said from the Dharma throne, “Even if your family members aren’t hindering you from practicing Buddhism, it is more important that you bring them to learn the Dharma together.”

Last year, before returning to Taiwan, I was in extremely poor physical health. My heart, stomach, and other problems had me practically unable to eat or get a good night’s sleep. I was very weak and thin, having lost around ten kilos. After coming back to Taiwan, many Dharma brothers showed a lot of concern, asking, “What’s wrong? How come you’ve gotten so skinny?” Some of them even thought I had gotten some sort of terminal illness, and were so worried about me that my group leader often telephoned to ask after my health. I was very grateful to be able to be back to Taiwan that time. After I started participating in the general pujas week after week and receiving H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s wondrous and incomparable blessings, my health gradually began to improve.

Looking back on it all, if I hadn’t decided back then to return to Taiwan to practice Buddhism, I soon could have ended up in the hospital. While living in Taiwan last year, I often went to the Glorious Jewel Japanese Food Store to make purchase. I discovered that many of those food items were quite helpful for my digestion, so I began to eat them in great quantities. One time on a puja trip to Japan, a Dharma brother in our group shared some of the Glorious Jewel’s Japanese food. We reached the conclusion that we need to eat the food sold at the Glorious Jewel Japanese Food Store for the sake of our health, because when it comes to benefiting sentient beings, everything H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche provides is of the finest quality.

Adhering to this principle, before returning to America in early January of 2015, I sent more than ten large boxes of the Glorious Jewel Japanese Food Store’s products there by air mail. Once we had just about eaten it all, I asked a friend in Taiwan to hurry up and buy some more to send to America for me. Life’s daily necessities include firewood, rice, oil, salt, soy, vinegar, and tea; aside from firewood, which we did not need to burn, everything our family consumed was from the Glorious Jewel Japanese Food Store. Sometimes when going to the supermarket in the US I would just buy fruit and vegetables, nothing else. After eating such large quantities of quality food for a few months, my gastrointestinal problems completely went away, and my heart problem did, too. I was able to eat and sleep again, and my health was better than it had been before. I used to buy some expensive medicine and tonics in American, but now I don’t take those anymore. In mid-May this year, as soon as I came back to Taipei and set foot in the Buddhist Center, several Dharma brothers ran up to tell me that I looked so much better and more energetic than before. They also commented that the difference between last year and this year was like night and day.

One of the foods that helped me greatly was the miso soup with kelp buds. I started drinking two small sachets of it every day without fail, and within a short amount of time, my severe bloating and digestive problems completely went away. Very surprised and curious about why it had been so effective, I did some online research and discovered that this fermented miso contains a very special, high-quality probiotic that is very good for healing and strengthening the intestines. Even more remarkable is the fact that I used to have a difficult time acclimatizing to Taiwan whenever I came here, and had terrible dehydration caused by diarrhea; this time, however, thanks to my strict regimen of miso soup with kelp buds, my body has adjusted without any issues at all.

Also, my husband is a doctor, but for few years every time he’d had a physical checkup, the report had come back showing that his triglyceride level was too high—more than three hundred, or thereabouts—and his doctor and colleagues all recommended that he take a certain medicine to lower it. This medicine is taken by many people in America, including doctors, but it is harmful to the liver and kidneys, so my husband felt very hesitant about taking it. Early last year, I began placing a satchel of Glorious Jewel Pu’er Tea into a 1000cc thermos of boiled water for him to take to work. After he’d drunk this every day for six months, his medical report came back showing that his triglyceride level had dropped to two hundred, which is just about normal. He therefore no longer need to worry over whether or not to take that medicine. I know that all of this is thanks to H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s having found and provided the highest quality food for us all to enjoy, regardless of the high price he had to pay for them.

In May of this year, before I came back to Taiwan, we decided as a family to purchase a ring with the Drikung Kagyu logo inscribed on it from the Glorious Jewel Jewelry Company for my son. My husband and I felt that such a treasure was more valuable and significant than giving him money or anything else. I hope that this logo ring will help my son to obtain the causal condition and good fortune to learn Buddhism from Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche at some point in the future.

Now I would like to make a public repentance: In my youth, in my weakness and cowardice, I had two abortions; I also miscarried once. Due to my lack of compassion, I have killed countless sentient beings such as cockroaches, ants, mosquitos, flies, and fleas. I have eaten the flesh of sentient beings, including chicken, duck, goose, and all sorts of seafood. I have committed various evil acts by succumbing to the Five Poisons of greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt; I’ve engaged in divisive speech, sexual misconduct, harsh speech, theft, and so on. I stand here today in repentance for them all, and vow never to commit the same transgressions again.

I also would like to deeply repent for having put my faith in a wicked religion for twenty years out of greed, anger, and ignorance. I did not believe in the Buddha, slandered Amitabha, and maligned the Pure Land. I believed so much in what I was doing, and even introduced many others to that religion, thereby creating extremely heavy karma. I am very fortunate to have taken refuge in H. E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche; had I not, I dare not imagine what would have become of me. I am even more ashamed that I did not feel genuine respect, repentance, and gratitude toward the guru. I often took a lot of things for granted, and did not act according to his teachings, and when taking refuge I did so hoping to obtain protection and blessings. I also have, in the past, criticized H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche from the perspective of an ordinary person. Now that I think back on all of this evil behavior and speech, I really want to repent over and over again. From now to eternity, I vow to be grateful and respectful to H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, who has been so enormously benevolent to me!

Finally, I sincerely pray that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche will have good health, keep turning the Dharma wheel, maintain an eternal presence in the world, and see success in all his Buddhist activities, and that the Drikung Kagyu Lineage will flourish forever.

Respectfully written by Disciple Lee Shunming, Group 5, on August 2nd, 2015

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Updated on November 30, 2016