741: Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche in the Eyes of a Scholar of Tibetan Studies

“I prostrate myself before His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, lineage gurus, the Buddhas, the Bodhisattvas, and Dharma Protector Achi!

“Greetings, Dharma brothers and honorable believers. I am Lin Chunyu of Group Six. I am grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for bestowing upon me this chance to praise the guru and repent for all of the evil acts I have committed in the past.

“Nearly six years ago, I had the opportunity to obtain a copy of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious work, Happiness and Suffering, from the hands of Dharma Brothers Mao and Wang, a husband and wife couple whom I’d not known for very long. From that point onward, my life began to change. By then I had already experienced more than two decades of contact with the Dharma, because I had spent twenty years engaged in scholarly research of Buddhism as an academic pursuit. I had even earned a PhD in Tibetan studies from a university in Germany, learned the Tibetan language, and conducted a great deal of research into Tibetan history and culture. Even so, I had still only ever been able to face my life based on my afflictions and the Five Poisons. When I first started learning Buddhism, I was seeking liberation. Without anyone to give me pointers, however, I assumed that the way to practice Tibetan Buddhism was to learn to read Tibetan, study, and get a degree. After more than ten years of academic training, my faith in Buddhism began to waver. I had come to believe that the stories in the sutras were nothing more than myths, and that the attainments they described were impossible to actually achieve. I had even grown convinced that there was absolutely no such thing as liberation from life and death. This feeling lasted until I read His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s book, Happiness and Suffering, and then it occurred to me that I had stumbled upon a precious gem indeed.

Cover of Happiness and Suffering

“This book was very different from the countless works I had read about Buddhism. It is written in a manner that is easy to understand, real-to-life, and thoroughly moving; this helps readers realize that Buddhism is not a bunch of obscure, abstruse theories that are inaccessible to ordinary people. Rather, the book teaches us that the Dharma is something that really can be implemented, as long as we employ the correct methods. Reading this reignited my hope in Buddhism. After seeking an audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, I had the honor of being able to take refuge on July 18th, 2010. Ever since I was a guest attendee, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious teachings and extraordinary ability to help sentient beings have always left me infinitely impressed. The guru says he does not know Tibetan, but when reading from Tibetan Dharma texts, he always does so with great fluency and speed. Sometimes the guru recites so quickly that I, with the text in my hands, am unable to keep up. I often wonder, If the guru doesn’t understand Tibetan, then how can he recite so quickly? Is Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche really unable to speak Tibetan? All of those lineage gurus and great practitioners in Tibetan history who brought Buddhism back with them to Tibet had first learned Sanskrit before journeying to India to learn the Dharma from the Mahasiddhas there. Our guru does not understand Tibetan, yet has been able to receive transmission of more than a thousand years’ worth of Dharmas that have been passed down through the lineage for over a thousand years. This is an extremely difficult and auspicious accomplishment. In addition, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is selflessly transmitting to us all these Dharmas and experiences he has gained, thus enabling us to set foot directly upon the path without learning Tibetan—as long as we are willing to listen—and saving us quite a bit of time in doing so. If I could have encountered the guru earlier, then I would not have needed to waste so much time learning Tibetan. However, I am the one to blame, for having accumulated so many wicked views in the past. I lacked in good fortune and causal conditions, so I had to run in circles awhile before I could meet such a virtuous mentor who propagates the Right Dharma.

Foreword written by His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang

“The Phowa and Chod performed by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche both are Dharma methods that I had read about in books, and which have been passed down for more than a thousand years now. As the guru has said before, one shall first succeed in mastering the Phowa oneself before one can help others. Mastering it means being able to break away from reincarnation and feeling at ease with life and death. Therefore, we need not doubt the fact that our guru is a Mahasiddha who has already become liberated. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performs the Phowa with a frequency that is extremely rare to be seen. While perusing through the annals of Tibetan history, I have been able to trace the lineage of the Phowa, its ins and outs, but have not seen any record of a guru who performed it often. I also have not discovered descriptions of any gurus who achieved attainment in the Phowa and were able to manifest various auspicious signs. I think this is probably due to the following reasons: First of all, it is hard enough to master the Phowa oneself, let alone to help others with it; as a result, such accounts would naturally be rather rare. Secondly, performing this Dharma consumes an extremely high amount of energy, so it is not something that every guru out there would likely want to do very frequently. Some Dharma brothers have probably heard of, or even witnessed with their own eyes, when several years ago our guru performed the Phowa four times in a single day that his heart stopped. In addition, every time Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performs the Phowa for the deceased, it takes so much effort that the guru actually loses blood because of it. Anyone able to perform this Dharma would have to have a very strong bodhicitta indeed to be willing to use it to help others with any degree of frequency. Furthermore, even those willing to perform it for people do not necessarily have the physical strength to follow through. For example, a student of mine once told me that his guru performed a Dharma for someone once, and afterward, that guru lay in bed for an entire month and was still not able to get back up. When my student went to visit him, his guru had already lain in bed for a month, and was still too weak to even speak. My student actually did not tell me which Dharma his guru had performed. If it was the Phowa—then, you should know what kind of skill His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche possesses; if that other guru did not perform the Phowa, then that would be even more understandable. Even other Dharmas can cause practitioners to lie in bed for a month or more, let alone the Phowa which can take an even heavier toll. His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche really is no ordinary Rinpoche. Now let me get back to what I was saying earlier, about why not many instances of the Phowa’s performance have been recorded in the history of Tibet. As you are all aware, according to Tibetan tradition, in order to implore any guru to perform the Phowa, one must first make a grand offering of one’s body’s weight in gold. Then, after the Phowa is completed, another offering would have to be made. In other words, those who wish to be liberated by the Phowa must possess good fortune and causal conditions. Since gurus who are able to perform the Phowa for others are difficult to find, in addition to the fact that the deceased must possess causal conditions and good fortune, the guru must also be willing to perform it for the deceased and have the strength to do so. On top of that, the Phowa must be performed successfully, signified by the manifestation of auspicious signs. All of these conditions must combine, and this must happen with a certain degree of frequency before the guru’s acts are noticed and written down in history. It is not at all easy for all of these factors to come together just right. If it has not been recorded in history, then that suggests that it has not occurred very often. Before coming to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, I had heard that there are a few Tibetan gurus who are able to perform the Phowa or transmit it. I yearned to meet them very much, but I had never before heard any descriptions of a guru performing the Phowa so masterfully that auspicious signs appeared. After coming to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, and when the first time I watched His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche perform the Phowa, I was completely shocked out of my wits. I felt that being able to witness such a rare Phowa being performed was simply unfathomable. Since then I have seen the guru perform it many times, and have looked at many photos of the resulting auspicious signs. Not only can Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche perform this very rare Phowa, but he can do it while not by the deceased’s side—even from thousands of miles away—yet still, auspicious signs appear as usual. This really is extraordinary. I later even heard that our guru can perform the Phowa just as successfully without even needing to emit any sound. This demonstrated how skillful the guru is and how profound a state his attainment has reached. Many people have seen with their own eyes the auspicious signs produced by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s successful performance of the Phowa. Dear Dharma brothers, how many of you have seen these auspicious signs with your own eyes? Please raise your hands. Sure enough, many of you have! If you are at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, you are bound to witness the auspicious signs produced when the Phowa is successfully performed; this is something we have all gotten quite used to. However, as I said previously, this is actually an exceedingly rare phenomenon, so we absolutely must not take it for granted. His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche not only has become liberated himself, but is also constantly helping sentient beings to become liberated as well. Without such profound compassion and bodhicitta, no one would be willing to take on the hardship and perform such a difficult task all the time.

“As for the Chod Pujas, in which I have had frequent opportunities to participate at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, this Dharma, too, has been transmitted down for close to a thousand years. The first time I participated in a Chod Puja at the Buddhist Center, I heard His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche say that the Chod was created by a Tibetan yogini, the Venerable Machig Labdron. In Tibetan, the word ‘Chod’ means ‘to break.’ At the time I was extremely surprised to hear this! This is because I had learned of this description before, but had had no idea that I might one day have the causal condition to participate in such an ancient, auspicious puja with such an extremely special lineage. There are a great deal of benefits to be gained from the Chod, and many people should have experienced it first-hand. I used to suffer from various major and minor ailments such as chest tightness, back pain, a chronically dislocated shoulder, and so on, all of which doctors were unable to treat; however, after participating in the Chod Pujas, each of them has disappeared, one by one. In addition, my father was liberated by way of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious Chod. My father passed away after his cancer had spread to multiple organs. While alive, he did not practice Buddhism, nor did he even believe in the Buddha. Nevertheless, the guru still compassionately bestowed liberation upon him with the Chod, and for this I am eternally grateful. From the time it was confirmed that my father had cancer until his death, only a short two weeks passed, and while still alive, he did not experience any of the pain typical of a terminal cancer patient. After the cremation, there was a small, round hole in the top of his skull. The ashes were of the purest white, and the crematorium staff responsible for carrying out the funeral service said that my father’s ashes were whiter than normal. I am guessing that many Dharma brothers at the Buddhist Center have had similar experiences; by now these are common occurrences, though against the backdrop of Tibetan history, they are quite rare. After searching through all my books on the history of Tibet, all I could find was the source of the Chod and some general descriptions of its lineage and what its ritual involves. There is also mention of many yogis performing this Dharma at crematoriums or sky burial grounds, but they generally do it for self-improvement reasons. I have never read any descriptions of people who perform the Chod to help others, or doing it so successfully that auspicious signs appear. In other words, our guru’s frequent performance of the Chod for devotees and disciples, which can cure many types of illness and is always performed to such perfect completion that various auspicious signs appear, is a phenomenon that has been quite uncommon throughout history. The Glorious Jewel devotees and disciples truly are blessed!

Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche performing the Chod for sentient beings

“Before I went to Germany, I had frequented a Tibetan Buddhist center. One time, during the Ching Ming Festival, the presiding Tibetan Rinpoche performed a ritual of transferring consciousness for the deceased and ancestors of the devotees. The Rinpoche instructed everyone to prepare photos and clothing of their deceased loved ones, and erected a small memorial tablet for each of the deceased. After performing the Dharma, it was over. Afterward, however, I never heard of any of the puja attendees experiencing alleviation of their illness symptoms, or of any auspicious signs appearing on the remains of any of the deceased. The Glorious Jewel Chod Pujas have never required family members of the deceased to prepare anything. Even if the sentient beings’ names are not known, as long as the puja participants think of them, the deceased can still receive His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s help—and this help, of course, extends to those in attendance as well. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche liberates the dead and the living alike. You then know where the difference lies.

“In the 8th century A.D., not long after Buddhism had begun to spread to Tibet, Tubo Emperor Trisong Detsen once held a large-scale symposium to decide whether Tubo (Tibet) should adopt the version of Buddhism coming from India to the south, or instead, the Han Chinese Buddhism from the lands to the east. After losing the bid during the debate to the monks from India, the Han monks left Tibet. During the subsequent 1,300 years of Tibetan history, there is no record of any single Han Chinese having ever achieved attainment and become a Rinpoche, been authenticated as such by any order, or publicly propagated the Dharma. Although there were a few monks and practitioners from the Han lands who made pilgrimages to Tibet to learn the Dharma in the early years of the Republic, in all of those cases, preparations were made for their journeys. Beforehand, they learned Tibetan and familiarized themselves with the customs of the local people. In addition, most of them went in groups, many with the backing of Buddhist organization and even funding from the government.

“By comparison, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s situation was completely different. Not only did he not know Tibetan, but was also the Order’s only member of Han Chinese to become a Rinpoche. While learning Tibetan Buddhism, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche did not have the luxury of receiving help from any compatriots, and he only had himself to rely on when it came to obtaining the resources necessary to practice. Moreover, our guru had to learn to cultivate alongside Tibetans, whose language and cultural background were completely different from his. None of this, however, got in the way of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s determination to practicing Buddhism. As a lay practitioner, he cultivated until he was authenticated as a Rinpoche by the throne holder of the Order, and attained achievement in the Anuttarayogatantra. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche even received transmission from his guru of several special Tantras and termas. This was absolutely unprecedented in all of Tibetan history; no prior examples of this had ever occurred. Some Dharma masters and practitioners practicing Buddhism in the Tibetan Autonomous Region might be a bit famous, but I have read their files and have only been able to find information regarding their path to cultivation, their own achievements, or descriptions of when they have spoken the Dharma in public and transmitted it to their disciples. However, I have not seen record of anyone who has continuously benefited so many sentient beings the way His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has, or examples of practitioners who have manifested all manner of auspicious signs by masterfully performing the Dharma or given so much practical help to a great number of sentient beings. I used to practice the Immortal Path under a certain guru, who once told me that he had visited one of those famous Tibetan gurus I just mentioned. At the time, this Tibetan guru was already quite elderly; he had lost use of his legs due to having sat in meditation for such long periods, so he could only crawl to get around. This sight had been a great disappointment to my guru at the time. From this it can be seen that attaining the Anuttarayogatantra is already difficult enough; to have mastered it to the degree that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has, while at nearly seventy years of age and still being fleet-footed that even his younger disciples have to run to keep up, truly is extraordinary.

“His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s ability to transform from an ordinary person to one who has achieved a level that most others could never attain is probably due to the guru’s utterly resolved, doubtless, and undeluded state of mind. After achieving such great accomplishments, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche is still willing to remain on the front lines to receive and guide us sentient beings, despite our obstinacy and tendency to be difficult to tame and teach. Our guru constantly performs the Chod, Phowa, and other special, rare Tantras that most great practitioners would not perform often. This is because Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche feels compassion for sentient beings who have no one to rely on and are tormented in reincarnation, and wishes to pluck us up from this sea of suffering. Though I’ve had the opportunity to come in contact with Tibetan gurus, practitioners, and monasteries in several different countries, including Taiwan, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, and India, people who emanate auras of compassion as naturally as His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche are quite rare, and I have only experienced two such encounters. Both of those experiences were very short-lived, whereas here at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, we can be in the presence of such a master practitioner in person every week, and are constantly under the protection of the guru’s great aura. We are extremely fortunate!

“I might have a PhD and more than twenty years of experience with Buddhism, but after coming to the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center and hearing His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s auspicious teachings, I discovered that my erstwhile understanding of the Dharma was merely at a kindergartener’s level, so I had to start all over with the basics. Just because I had learned Tibetan language, history, and culture, read the sutras, and attended Buddhist centers to listen to the Dharma did not mean I was actually practicing Buddhism. Despite my varied education and research, I was still ablaze with the Five Poisons and my heart was still full of doubt, because I had not had sufficient faith in my guru and had therefore been prohibited to learn Tantra. When practicing Buddhism, if we do not begin with our own minds and continuously adjust them, then no matter how much we learn the seemingly related subjects, none will be of any use. Moreover, the lesson that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche teaches us over and over is how to subdue our stubborn minds; he is our best possible role model. Though he did not possess sufficient external conditions, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has achieved his present level of accomplishment thanks to always having an unwavering faith in his guru, persevering in keeping his promises to his guru, the yidam, and sentient beings, and not allowing any internal or external enticements sway him or change his mind.

“I would also like to take this opportunity to repent before His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for all of the wicked views I have held in the past. I repent before my guru and the Three Jewels for having been disrespectful, for not possessing sufficient faith in my guru, and for all of the evil acts I have committed over the course of my past lives. I pray that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate blessings will help me to develop the utmost faith and respect toward the guru, and enable me to smoothly secure my rebirth in the Pure Land when this lifetime ends. May I always remain by His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s side, walking the Bodhisattva Path lifetime after lifetime until I attain Buddhahood! I pray that His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche will have good health, keep turning the Dharma wheel and his lineage will flourish forever!

Respectfully written by Huicheng Drolma, Group 1, on May 23rd, 2015

« previous – Return Traces of Liberating Beings Next »

Updated on August 4, 2016