772: I Am Grateful to the Guru for Helping Me to Accept Cause and Effect and Face Impermanence

Praise be unto His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang, Dharma Protector Achi, the Lineage Gurus, the Buddhas, and Bodhisattvas. I am Fang Lixuan of Group Four; my Dharma name is Huibei Drolma. My husband is Guo Junhong of Group Three, and my son is Guo Guanting of Group Three. I am extremely grateful for today’s opportunity to share an account of how His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has helped my family and to repent for all of the evil acts I have committed.

I am grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche who, in his compassion, uses every method at his disposal to help all sentient beings that are difficult to tame and difficult to teach. Despite my being a disciple of low root capacity, he enabled my entire family to take refuge and learn Buddhism.

The origination for my seeking an audience with H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche was in September of 2012. At the time, my four-year-old son had had to go to the hospital for a blood test because his face had gone pale and he’d had a slight temperature. There he was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. Not believing in cause and effect at the time, and unwilling to accept impermanence, I wondered how this could have happened to my son: Didn’t this sort of thing only happen on TV? What should I do? Over the next few days, I kept hoping I would wake up to discover that this had all just been a bad dream. It hadn’t, however; this was real life, which needed to be faced.

After my son’s diagnosis, the hospital immediately arranged for a procedure to insert a catheter, and he began chemotherapy three days later, the following Monday. That tumultuous week was full of visits from swarms of family members and close friends who came as soon as they’d heard the news. Everyone very enthusiastically suggested various non-medical routes to treatment, but in my heart I knew that only that extremely solemn and compassionate Rinpoche, who had presided over the only puja I’d ever attended in my life, could possibly help us. I therefore registered for an audience with H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche that Saturday. Because I did not have enough good fortune, however, it just so happened that the guru was not receiving any believers that week, so I had to wait until the following weekend to register. In the meantime, my son started his chemotherapy two days later, and being a staunch believer in Western medicine, I had never considered any other treatment methods. As his mother, my only hope was that my child could recover completely, so I wanted to go again to implore H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to help us.

Richen Dorjee Rinpoche presiding over the Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness.

At the solemn and auspicious Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness.

The next week, we went ahead and registered for an audience with H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. At the time, we were merely imploring for help from Buddhism out of our desire. We had no sense of respect or repentance; our attitude was completely wrong. As soon as we entered the Buddhist Center, tears began to stream down my face non-stop. I felt like it was my fault that my son had fallen ill, so I wholeheartedly prayed that the guru could help us. That day we were granted an audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche very quickly. As soon as we knelt down, the guru asked my husband, “How may I help you?” After reporting our son’s condition, my husband asked a very cliché question: “What can I do?” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to scold him in a loud voice, and told him to complete two thousand grand prostrations every day. Crying to the side, the only words I heard the guru say were, “See you next time.” My immediate thought was: We are allowed to come back!

That evening, floating in and out of dream, I dreamed that I saw H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continuously chanting mantras, and next to him I heard someone’s voice praising the guru over and over for being a great practitioner. When I woke up, due to my low root capacity, I simply dismissed this as having been nothing more than a dream. It did, however, deepen my belief that only Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche could help us!

The following Saturday, we again sought an audience with the guru. Compared to how we were the previous week, this time we felt more respectful. After kneeling down we reported about how our son was doing, and said that he had developed an infection after his chemotherapy that week. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche compassionately told us that the reason he had scolded us the previous week was to eliminate our hindrances to practicing Buddhism. He also explained that there was nothing to be done about the chemotherapy. The guru then made three points: First of all, that many cancer patients end up dying from infection, not from the cancer itself. Secondly, that because the present approach in Western medicine to treat cancer with chemotherapy and surgery was not very effective, it had gradually begun to embrace more natural remedies. And thirdly, that even in illness, quality of life is still very important.

As an ordinary person, I’d had no way of appreciating the wisdom of a master practitioner, and it dawned on me that I’d paid a very big price—in my stupidity, it had taken my son’s torment to make me slowly come to understand this. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s seemingly simple words were completely confirmed by what happened afterward. At the time, however, in my extreme ignorance, I did not quite believe what the guru was telling me. Seeing our lack of confidence, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed Dharma Brother Tang and his wife to speak with us. With their encouragement, during our next audience with the guru, we reported that we wished to participate in the pujas. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche told us that we should not do so to satisfy our desires, and instructed us to come back after reading his book, Happiness and Suffering, ten times. The guru then asked our son’s name and zodiac sign, and began to chant mantras to bless him.

After he was finished, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked my husband what his ancestors had done. My husband answered that they had been farmers. The guru said that one of the reasons our son had gotten sick was that while farming, our ancestors had harmed many insects, and another was that when he was little, our son had eaten a lot of whitebait. He then asked which was worse: Our son getting sick, or us getting sick. He also said that the chemotherapy drugs had harmed our son’s lungs, and asked whether or not we’d known about that and if the doctor had mentioned it. Actually, we did not, nor had the doctor said anything about it, but our son had in fact been coughing continuously. His chest X-rays had revealed a lesion and infiltrate. Like a compassionate father, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche urged my husband to get some rest, because it had been many days since he’d had a good night’s sleep. The guru told him to take care of his health because he needed to earn money, as medical expenses would be high. By then my husband’s face was streaming with tears.

Two weeks later, we sought another audience with Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to implore for permission to participate in the pujas, and this time he very compassionately gave it. I am grateful to the guru for allowing us the opportunity to listen to the Dharma and set foot upon our path to cultivation. After my husband and I participated in that first puja, the Sunday pujas became the most important source of spiritual support for us. From the guru’s precious teachings we gradually gained an understanding of causality and learned to accept impermanence. Nevertheless, we still were deeply attached; we did not want to let go of our child, and hoped with all our hearts that he would be cured.

As H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had predicted, our son kept getting infections while in the hospital. He also seemed to have an allergic reaction to the catheter, and his flesh completely ruptured. Apparently, as our formerly vivacious, cute, and mild-mannered son was getting weaker and weaker, he was growing more and more violent. In the hospital he stubbornly refused to get out of bed, and this led to atrophy in his feet. As parents we felt not only sad, but also utterly helpless. In our desperation, our only recourse was to brazenly register to seek another audience. It was granted, and on January 12th, 2013, after we reported our son’s situation, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said, “You simply do not believe what I said!” He then instructed Dharma Brother Tian and her husband to share their experiences with us. Thanks to their encouragement, we asked for hospital leave for our son so that we could bring him to the Buddhist Center to seek an audience with the guru. As soon as he saw how frail our son had become, the guru embraced him and blessed him; despite our failure to listen, he still was compassionate toward us. Right then and there we felt both grateful and extremely ashamed. Thank you, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche! After taking our son to that audience, everything became clear to us. It is not that the medical treatments started going more smoothly; rather, it is that our hindrances to practicing Buddhism slowly began to disappear.

In the months afterward my husband and I were granted permission to learn Buddhism and take refuge, which we did on June 2nd, 2013. We also overcame the hindrance preventing our son from eating vegetarian, and helped him to obtain permission to participate in the pujas. Only then did we discover that all along, the source of our hindrances had actually been our mindset. During that time, our son made it through an intensive treatment period and entered a recuperation phase consisting mainly of outpatient services. He seemed fine on the service, but a side effect of his chemotherapy was elevated liver enzymes —rising from twenty, which was normal, all the way up to three hundred. He also could not swallow food, and it always took more than two hours to get down a meal. We asked the doctors for advice, but they were unable to give a clear answer. Throughout this period, we had actually been considering whether or not to stop chemotherapy altogether, but in my foolishness, I did not find the courage to make that decision. Every time the topic came up, I felt too much pressure to face it.

The doctor’s report: In September of 2012, the patient was admitted to the hospital and diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. In July of 2013, treatment was stopped, pending follow-up outpatient examinations. No recurrence was detected, but further regular check-ups would be required.

I am so grateful to H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. Even knowing that I was a disciple with a low root capacity who lacked the courage and wisdom to accept cause and effect, on July 27th, 2013, he bestowed assistance upon my entire family. We wished to take our son—who was still just a believer at the time—with us to participate in the puja being held in Japan, so we brought him with us to an audience with the guru. However, our disrespectful attitude caused Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to berate us: “All you think about is your son. You have no room in your hearts for the Dharma or your guru; only your son is important to you.” The guru also refused to accept our offerings. At this, my mind went completely blank, and all I wanted to do was to kneel down continuously. After returning home, though, and regaining my wits somewhat, I talked it over with my husband, and we decided that it would be better to stop our son’s chemotherapy!

Within a week, we each reported our decision to our respective parents, and explained it to our son’s attending physician as well. At the same time, we turned to traditional Chinese medicine for treatment. Thanks to the guru’s blessings, this entire process went more smoothly than we could have imagined. The doctor was not very understanding, of course, and asked why we would give up on chemo when our son was already starting to get better. Clinical studies also showed that if he stopped treatment, the cancer would return three to six months later, and when that happened his only option would be to have a bone marrow transplant, which had an even lower success rate. During our time in the hospital we saw many children suffering terribly from chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants. There really is no way to understand the sense of helplessness we felt without experiencing this sort of thing. Of course we had no intention to make our son have to suffer such torments any further.

The following week, on August 3rd, we sought an audience with the guru and to repent and to report our decision. After asking about our son’s condition in great detail, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche bestowed upon him a precious nectar pill, and compassionately made the following points:

1. When someone gets ill, he or she of course should see a doctor and undergo treatment. Leukemia is not cancer; the reasons for it are very complex—but basically, it involves having bad things in one’s blood. Moreover, Western medicine’s chemotherapy and bone marrow transplants are not good ways to treat it.

2. Elevated liver enzymes may be followed by liver cirrhosis or liver cancer. Did we really want our child to have to spend his youth completely bedridden?

3. The doctor said that the cancer could recur in three to six months. Knowing that we lacked confidence at the time, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche told us, “If that happens, I’ll see what else I can do to help.”

4. A person’s longevity is not given by Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the Buddhas, or the Bodhisattvas; it comes from cultivation done in one’s past lives. Parents can only give child happiness. No one undergoing chemotherapy at the hospital is happy; would our son feel any joy from going there? Moreover, even the doctors could not guarantee that he would be one hundred percent cured. Buddhism, on the other hand, could safeguard him through lifetime after lifetime.

I am grateful to the guru for bestowing precious guidance upon us, and for providing us with such great support. In his great compassion, he had given us the answers early on, but it took us a very long time and the constant manifestations of our son’s suffering before we gradually came to understand wherein our problem lay. Cause and effect are real, and impermanence follows like a shadow every step of the way. Were it not for the guru’s compassion, we could never have accepted impermanence when it arrived. Instead, we would have just kept on doing everything we could to avoid cause and effect.

My son received meticulous treatment at the Glorious Jewel Chinese Medicine Clinic. Every time he had a blood test, his results came back clear, and after half a year the his liver enzymes had gradually returned to normal. His appetite came back, too; he got to where he could drink down two bottles of Genki soymilk daily, and he grew taller and stronger than he’d ever been before. Thanks to prescriptions from the Glorious Jewel Chinese Medicine Clinic, his atopic dermatitis was gotten under control. In addition, he regained his formerly lively personality, and was able to go to school again without needing to wear a mask or maintain distance between himself and his classmates anymore. The toxins from his chemotherapy drugs were still present, but every time we sought an audience to express our gratitude to Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the guru would compassionately bless our son and bestow guidance regarding many of our son’s health problems. For example, prior to the food safety crisis that year, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche told us, “Your son’s liver and kidneys have been damaged, so he must not eat any bread sold at the market, because it contains too many additives that are harmful to the body.” We therefore immediately purchased a bread maker and began making our own bread. The guru also said, “Your son’s bones hurt, but neither Chinese nor Western medicine can determine the cause. The pain comes from residual chemotherapy toxins in his bones, and he’ll have to take herbal medicine to slowly get rid of them.” Hearing this immediately resolved the questions I’d had in mind, because my son had hollered over and over about excruciating aches in his bones. Moreover, the location of these pains kept changing. We’d asked the doctor about it, and were told they were just growing pains, but they didn’t seem like those. After learning their cause that day, I went back to the Chinese Medicine Clinic and talked to Doctor Huang about it. He then adjusted my son’s prescription by adding a stronger detox agent. Now my son’s bones are hurting less and less frequently, and not nearly as intensely. Through all of this, had had it not been for H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s help, how could my family possibly have lived as a normal, healthy household would? We certainly would have had to live with masks, rubbing alcohol, and thermometers never far from hand, and at the slightest sign of fever we’d have had to take our son to the emergency room. It would have been a very nerve-racking existence.

I am grateful for the manifestation of impermanence in our lives. My son’s illness has enabled me to listen to the Dharma, learn Buddhism and take refuge in H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, who is no different from the Buddha, and gain a renewed appreciation for the meaning and value of life. I never used to believe in cause and effect; I only put faith in the notion that human power can prevail over nature. I thought that life’s challenges could all be overcome with willpower and perseverance. I did not accept impermanence, believing instead that no worldly misfortune could happen to me; I assumed I could simply stay out of it. In love with this mundane world, I gave no consideration whatsoever to how fleeting and transient this life is, or to the ever-present suffering of reincarnation; my only goal was mundane happiness. As a result, I studied hard in school and then committed myself to finding a spouse; after getting married and having a child, I dedicated myself to caring for my family. Only after my son fell ill did life’s suffering and impermanence wrench me awake. Even after that, however, I continued to hold on tightly to my desires, unwilling to let go of my attachments and wishing to do everything in my power to hold on to my loved ones. I am grateful to H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassion for all sentient beings; he guided me patiently and systematically until I changed my mind, grew to accept cause and effect, and learned how to let go.

Despite having leukemia, the soon-to-be eight-year-old’s (middle) life finally returned to normal after he began learning Buddhism from Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.

I am grateful to H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche for tirelessly bestowing precious teachings every Sunday, thus enabling me to listen to the Right Dharma. Our weekly participation in the pujas became the event our entire family most looked forward to. After each puja, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s word’s resounded in my head, causing me to look back on my life from a new perspective and examine my actions of body, speech, and mind to determine whether or not they were in line with the guru’s teachings. After learning Buddhism, my mind gradually, unconsciously began to change; my previous thoughts and values slowly transformed, and I stopped dwelling so much on the things that I used to like and care about. Moreover, being liberated from the suffering sea of reincarnation, which I’d previously never even considered, became my number one goal. Nothing but Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s all-embracing power and blessings could possibly have caused such an innately stubborn and dense person as myself to undergo such a profound transformation. In addition, the guru’s compassionate, step-by-step guidance has given me an example to follow in both words and deeds while cultivating and learning the Dharma. Every day I use the Five Precepts, Ten Meritorious Acts, and Thirty-Seven Practices of Bodhisattvas as points of reference to examine my acts of body, speech, and mind, and each time I do so, I am astounded at the thoughts I have given rise to and the actions I have committed. I also have proved to have more than a little greed, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt. As Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche has said before, we have not cultivated the Ten Meritorious Acts at all; instead, we are practicing the Ten Evil Acts. From this day forward, whenever any of these thoughts enter my head, I will immediately examine them and amend my attitude. Furthermore, only after genuinely taking a good look inside myself have I come to realize that I should face up to my offenses rather than make excuses for them, and not try to shirk my responsibilities. Instead, I must bravely meet them head-on, not to mention the wrongdoings I have unconsciously committed. Were it not for the teachings of H.E. Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, who is both a stern guru and a compassionate father to us, I most certainly would never have been able to find the courage to face my truly ugly self.

Finally, I repent for my behavior when I was little: I liked to capture ants and play with them until they were dead, and every time I saw a mosquito, I absolutely had to kill it. I scalded cockroaches to death with hot water, ate the flesh of countless sentient beings, and committed innumerable acts of killing. I repent for not being a good daughter to my parents; I would often drive my mother to anger. I also repent for the fact that while working part-time to help my teachers do research at school, I used the time to find my own materials and committed acts of theft. I repent for being selfish and self-serving, for not caring about anything or anyone around me, and for having neither empathy nor compassion. Even worse, because of my selfishness and fear of the burden of parenting, I agreed to allow a doctor to abort my fetus in which abnormal chromosomes had been detected, thus committing an unforgivable act of killing.

Only after coming in contact with Buddhism did I gain a profound realization that everything I had thought, said, and done was practically enough to send me down to the Three Evil Realms, and that escaping reincarnation in the Six Realms was so terribly difficult. In this lifetime I have been fortunate enough to take refuge and learn Buddhism from a master practitioner, so I must do my best to grasp this opportunity. I promise to act in accordance with the teachings of my root guru, His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and amend my thoughts and behavior. I also pray that I can become liberated from reincarnation in this lifetime and be reborn in the Pure Land.

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 Fang Lixuan, Group 4, on February 28th, 2016
Updated on April 27th, 2016

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Updated on April 27, 2016