His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s Puja Teachings – July 27, 2014
Before the puja began, a mother and son, both of whom had taken refuge in His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, shared with all of the attendees their experiences of having been blessed and helped by the guru. The son started out by briefly expressing his heartfelt gratitude to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and then his mother addressed the attendees.
On January 1st, 2003, her son had suffered a major automobile accident on his way home for military service leave. He had scored a 3 on the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS), and had been unable to move his eyes; it had been as if his pupils were in fragments. After hooking him up to a respirator on which his very survival depended, the doctors had declared him to be in a vegetative state. During the accident, he had broken his ribs from the fifth through to the eleventh, as well as his collarbone. A fracture in his pubic bone had led to a disruption of his urinary tract, forcing him to have a cystostomy inserted due to being unable to control his urinary flow. The accident had further caused the four ventricles in his brain to combine into one, thus mixing all of his brain matter together. The doctor had explained to her that brain tissue was not unlike a big piece of tofu; enough blunt force trauma could cause its structure to collapse, and no amount of surgery could help the brain to recover from such an injury.
As a result, after the accident her son had been confined to a hospital bed in a vegetative state for eight months and twenty-three days. Although he had later woken from his coma, the central nerve in his brain had been severely damaged; furthermore, the impact of the accident had caused his lower back muscles to be unable to support his body, so he had been absolutely too weak to walk. His sense of balance had been adversely affected, too, causing further difficulties in keeping upright; his body had a tendency to tilt to the right, making it easy for him to fall over. All of this had made a wheel chair necessary. His brain damage had been quite serious, leaving his words unclear and his intelligence reverted to the level of a five- or six-year-old. His short-term memory had left him, so he would often forget things that he had just done. As a result, some days he would take his medication several times too many. His hand-eye and limb coordination had been left in a poor state as well. The most serious aspect of his condition, however, was that her son had been unable to control his moods; he would often go into a violent rage completely out of the blue. Given his rather large physique, no one had been able to restrain him when he got angry like that, and this would often frighten not only the doctors and nurses but the family members of the other hospital patients as well. Most of the nurses had been unable to look after him as a result, so the responsibility for all of his care had been left with his mother to deal with on her own.
Her son’s status as a military serviceman had allowed him to live in the hospital in this manner for more than nine years, during which time she had constantly taken care of him. Over the years his moods and willfulness had often become the source of disputes of varying intensity, and in the middle of all this she had been diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Multiple sources of stress had left her physically and mentally fatigued, and this had tormented her to no end. During a half-year course of chemotherapy, its side effects had caused her feet to feel like pincushions. She had often tripped over them and fallen down as a result. Furthermore, she had begun to suffer from such side effects as nausea, incontinence, and so on. After each painful session of chemotherapy, she would return to the ward to see that her son had still made no progress and was still unable to control his moods. All of this had combined to make her feel more and more that life had no hope, and that the future held nothing for them but pain and suffering. She remembered how one day her son had lost his temper at her in the ward for no reason, yelling and cursing at her. As strong as her son was, no one had been able to restrain him. Alarmed, the nursing staff had come running with concern, and in the end had had no choice but to separate her and her son. The emotional pain inside her had been unbearable, like a stinging pain too intense to describe with words.
Just at the time of her deepest suffering, something had happened which changed her life and that of her son. One day in 2011, after taking her son to the hospital for a rehabilitation session, she had again bumped into a Dharma brother who would often be there at the rehab clinic with his son, too. This Dharma brother had waved her over and invited her to participate in the Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness. Thinking to herself that she had already participated in quite a few other pujas, she had not taken the invitation seriously enough to follow through with it. After a while she had bumped into the same Dharma brother, again by coincidence, and he had asked her once more whether she was willing to participate in the puja. Deciding that there would be no harm in going, she had said yes.
While participating in the Great Indiscriminate Amitabha Puja for Transferring Consciousness for the first time, she had felt an indescribable emotion welling up from deep within her. As she had watched His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, tears had rolled down her cheeks and she had been speechless with excitement. This was a feeling that she had never before felt while participating in other pujas. The Dharma brother had recommended that she seek an audience with the guru. When she had, His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had compassionately asked them, “What brings you here?” She had then explained the events that had happened ever since her son’s 2003 automobile accident. Without a moment’s hesitation, the merciful Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had said to her son, “I will help you.” The guru had then given them permission to participate in the regular Sunday pujas and the Chod Pujas. They had left the Buddhist Center with their hearts filled with gratitude.
After participating in only a couple of pujas, she had noticed that her son had improved greatly when it came to wetting the bed. Whereas before he had always let go the moment he felt the urge, now he had gained the ability to control himself. From then on, he had no longer needed to wear an adult diaper for twenty-four hours a day. In addition, he had stopped drooling as much. Every time the people at the nursing station saw him, they would praise him for his rapid progress. They had assumed it had been a result of his youth, but as his mother she had known very well that all of these improvements were thanks to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings. Two months after participating in the pujas, she had taken her son with her to implore to take refuge. Very compassionately, the guru had again said, “I will help you,” and had bestowed blessings upon her son and given him permission to take refuge.
At the time she herself had not implored to take refuge, but after she left, a Dharma brother had advised her to go back and implore His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to allow her to do so. As she had approached to supplicate for a second time, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had merely said, “You came here with your son to implore for him to take refuge; you yourself did not want to take refuge.” Suddenly filled with shame, she had retreated. After returning home she had taken an earnest look inward to examine her attitude, and to ask herself why she wished to take refuge. It had turned out that she had neglected her own mind, for it still had not completely settled down; it was very chaotic, restless, and scattered. As soon as anything happened she would worry and be at a loss of what to do, other than to break down and cry. In addition, she had not genuinely made a firm resolution to go vegetarian. Her son had wanted her to eat vegetarian with him, but she would occasionally sneak down to the hospital cafeteria to eat meat. After seeking an audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, however, and listening to the guru’s stern exhortation for her to eat vegetarian, she had returned home and been surprised to discover that she no longer had any desire to eat meat. She was grateful for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings.
As a result, when she had again sought an audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to earnestly implore to take refuge, the guru had finally consented. She had then truly been freed from this “prison of the mind” in which she had been locked for years. Over the decade that she had taken care of her son in the hospital, it had been as if she were imprisoned in a jail without bars. Her job every day had been to help over and over with her son’s rehabilitation. In addition, her son’s brain damage had caused extreme mood swings, and he had been unable to chew or tear his food. All he could do was to swallow everything one big gulp at a time. Nor could he differentiate between hot and cold when it came to his food, and he would often choke on it. This had caused worries that she had to face on a daily basis, and as a mother her heart had been constantly full of anguish. She would often squat down by herself and cry, at a complete loss as to where to seek help.
After taking refuge, she had learned from the Dharma brothers sharing their experiences at the Buddhist Center that all of the mistakes and offenses she had committed in the past had done harm to countless sentient beings. She had stopped thinking of herself as a good person; on the contrary, she had been a villain committing heinous acts of evil. She was grateful for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings. Without the guru’s guidance, she would have lamented that her life had been completely wasted. Now she would draw from all of her meager strength and experiences to urge her friends and relatives, “Even a small act of kindness is worth doing, and even a minor act of evil should be avoided at all costs.”
Thanks to having participated in the pujas continuously for more than two years, her son had experienced quite a transformation. Every time he became emotional now, he would remember His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s precious teachings, and then slowly reel in his anger. No longer was he like he was before, when he had often completely lost his temper to the point that he had been shaking. His posture while walking had improved greatly as well; he no longer needed to wear a diaper whenever he went out, and he had gradually regained control over his bodily functions when using the toilet. This had made things much more convenient when it came to taking care of her son. He enjoyed going to the Buddhist Center very much, and every Saturday there he would constantly make prostrations to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. At first, afraid that he might be having a negative effect on others, she had tried to stop him. Later, however, a Dharma brother had told her that if her son wanted to make prostrations, then she should let him do it, so she had relaxed about it. After making prostrations to the guru, her son always seemed extremely happy.
Her son used to have some bad habits; she had admonished him many times for them to no avail. However, after coming to the Buddhist Center and listening to the Dharma brothers, he had gradually made changes without losing his temper. She knew that all this was thanks to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s blessings. She praised the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center for being like one big family. In the past, whenever she had encountered difficulties, she would often panic. After coming here, however, she had grown very calm, and would draw from His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s teachings and the help of her Dharma brothers to handle anything that happened. Most importantly, she now had His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche to rely on, so she no longer feared the future.
In the past, hoping for her son to recover as quickly as possible, she had tried whatever alternative therapies anyone would suggest. It had been quite normal for her to spend more than NT$100,000 in a month on such treatment. Now, however, participating in the pujas had caused her son to improve so greatly that she no longer had to pursue those avenues. After seeing the transformation in both her and her son, sick friends had come to seek audiences with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche; however, after several months they had left, for they had thought that they would not get the proper nutrients if they were to go vegetarian. Some had even given the excuse that they could not read or were too old and weak to practice Buddhism. She knew full well that they had lacked good fortune, and therefore had not gained the opportunity to continue learning the Dharma from His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. In that, she differed from her friends greatly.
Prior to seeking audience with His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, she had been diagnosed with endometrial cancer. Very reluctantly she had subjected herself to chemotherapy, but its side effects had caused her unbearable pain and made the soles of both feet sting as if she were walking on pin cushions. Often the pain had been so bad that she had been unable to walk. The chemotherapy had done harm to her intestines, leaving her unable to control her bladder and bowels; whenever she’d had to go, unless she were quick enough, she would soil or wet herself. Meanwhile the chemotherapy had also greatly weakened her immune system. She would also often trip over her feet while walking, and had had to take frequent breaks due to being out of breath. She had never reported any of these discomforts to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, nor had she ever implored for blessings to cure them. However, after participating in the pujas and taking refuge in the guru, her condition had completely improved: No longer did the soles of her feet sting while she walked, and she had ceased to have trouble controlling her bowel movements. After that, she had not received any more chemotherapy or taken any more Western medicine; from then on she had recuperated with the help of traditional Chinese medicine alone. Now, more than two years later, she felt better than she ever had before. She was profoundly grateful to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche.
One time she had taken her son by taxi to the hospital for physical rehab. The whole way there, the driver had been talking on the phone. When they had gotten out of the taxi cab, a pedestrian had walked over to point out that one of the car’s tires was completely flat. Afterward, upon mentioning this to her friends and family, the disciple had learned that having a tire blow out on the freeway was extremely dangerous. Furthermore, neither the driver nor any of the passengers had had the slightest inkling that the tire had been punctured. In her shock, she had realized that this whole time she had been under the protection of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, the Buddhas, and the Bodhisattvas, yet had been completely oblivious to that fact. She again expressed how extremely grateful she was for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s help.
After taking refuge, she had often heard her Dharma brothers tell of the auspiciousness of making overseas pilgrimages, so had happily signed up to join the group pilgrimage to India—a completely unfamiliar environment which she had never before visited. There she had felt extremely exhausted after the puja, so had returned to the hotel for a rest. She had asked her roommate to take the key with her for her convenience, and soon afterward had fallen asleep. Suddenly, she had heard a cacophony of shouting, clapping, and musical instruments coming from outside the door; it had sounded like a welcoming party for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. She had immediately gotten up, gotten dressed, and was just about to go out the door to welcome the guru when she remembered she had given the key to her roommate, so she had not been able to open the door. Presently her roommate had returned. The disciple had asked her, “Didn’t Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche come to the hotel?” Her roommate had replied, “No, he didn’t!” Only then had it hit her that she had not had a genuine desire to practice Buddhism; she had merely been standing and gazing from outside the Buddhist door. In that moment, out of the chaos of her mind she had realized that she had not been completely resolved to practice Buddhism.
That night she had dreamt that a severe conflict had occurred between her son and her husband. She had woken with a start, and realized that that she had not genuinely let go of the many hindrances that were filling her mind. From this overseas pilgrimage she had learned that going to another country was actually a very good opportunity to examine oneself. A Dharma brother in the same pilgrimage group had shared with her a story of her husband’s sudden death, and had said to her, “Not everyone has to own a house. Renting is fine, too.” These words had shocked her to a certain realization, and thereby untied her from an attachment. All along she had been worried that if she passed away, her son would not have anyone to look after him. As a result, she had been determined to leave a house behind and enough funds to cover her son’s living expenses. Her attachment had been the inability to let go of her constant worries over her son’s future. She had come to realize that if she could not let go of him, then she herself would never truly be liberated.
On a trip to Nepal, she and her Dharma brothers had circumambulated a stupa twenty-one times; given her difficulty walking, she had been the last to finish. When she had seen all of her Dharma brothers standing there waiting for her, and coming over to take her backpack from her to lighten her load, she had suddenly thought of the phrase, ‘liberate oneself and liberate others.’ Although her pace had been slow, she had hoped to work as hard as she could to walk in the footsteps of His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. On the way back, she had heard a little Dharma brother say, “Besides being grateful to my guru, I am even more grateful to my guru’s parents and to the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang.” Right then and there she had been shocked and moved that a person so young could have such a profound sense of gratitude. She had sighed, knowing that she still had much to learn.
Furthermore, she had brought her daughter, who was still a believer, to Hiroshima, Japan with her to take part in the Fire Offering pilgrimage, as well as to the Kun-Da-Li region of Yunnan, China to participate in the Caoxi Temple pilgrimage. She hoped to give her daughter an opportunity to listen to the Dharma brothers’ stories of how His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche had helped sentient beings, and to show her the warmth her mother felt at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center. She hoped even more that one day soon her daughter, too, would be able to learn the Dharma from His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche. She was grateful to the guru for having given her so many opportunities to learn, as well as for the guru’s selfless teachings.
Since taking refuge, she had listened to His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s precious Dharma teachings and come to a profound realization that all of her suffering was a direct result of the karmic retribution that was her due. She deserved it; it was a debt that she must repay—and she accepted this debt willingly. She also knew full well that by herself she was incapable of finding liberation from her own suffering, let alone of assisting her son; only His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche could thoroughly help them both to escape from the abyss of their suffering. At the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center, the guru cared for each and every disciple like a wonderful father, and looked after their family members as well. All of the Dharma teachings Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche bestowed could be corroborated by practical life experiences. She was sincerely grateful for His Eminence Vajra Guru Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche’s compassionate guidance, for the Dharma brother who had introduced her to the guru, and for the other Dharma brothers for all of their help.
His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche presided over an auspicious three-in-one puja at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center in Taipei, during which the guru performed the Dharma methods of Amitabha, Avalokiteshvara, and Padmasambhava and bestowed precious Dharma teachings upon all the attendees.
“Today I will be performing from a Dharma text containing three different Dharma methods. Just about anyone who is Chinese has heard of the Buddha’s name Amitabha. In Exoteric Buddhism, the Dharma method of Amitabha is practiced in accordance with the Five Classics of the Pure Land, and most practitioners know how to recite from the Amitabha Sutra and chant Amitabha’s sacred name. However, in order to form a profound affinity with Amitabha Buddha in this lifetime, it is not enough simply to chant the Buddha’s name, eat vegetarian, and recite from the sutras; one must also perform a series of rituals. In addition, as is written in the Amitabha Sutra, to be reborn in the Pure Land one must be a virtuous man or woman who is not lacking in fortune, merits, causes, and conditions. Causes and conditions are inextricably linked together. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas would never owe sentient beings anything at all; as long as a sentient being has made offerings to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas with a pure mind, then They are certain to look after him or her after death.
“Many people think that chanting the Buddha’s name a few times is enough to cause Amitabha Buddha to come and receive them when they die, but it is not that simple. If you have not accumulated sufficient good fortune and practiced the Ten Meritorious Acts, then no matter who you are, Amitabha Buddha will not come forth to receive you—in either His Nirmanakaya or the Dharmakaya form. Therefore, there are many Tantric Dharma texts which can help you to obtain profound causal conditions, and the one I will be performing from today is A Brief and Simplified Ritual of Amitabha Buddha’s Dharma Method for Bringing Benefits, Bliss, and Illumination. ‘Brief’ here refers to the fact that it is a condensed version that includes the essential contents of the entire, original Dharma text; ‘simple’ here does not refer to its degree of complexity or lack thereof, but rather to the fact that many of the redundant rituals contained in the original text only need be performed once. ‘Dharma method’ here does not mean something that can initiate change just by being performed once; the Dharma is not set, and any Dharma is simply the beginning of a certain type of karma. Karma is divided into virtuous karma, evil karma, and neutral karma.
“The definition of performing the Dharma is to enable you to form a profound affinity with the yidam and obtain the yidam’s blessings so that you can achieve attainment more easily in this lifetime. The Dharma can be broken down into three primary parts: The preliminary practice, the main practice, and the dedication prayer. Preliminary practice includes all of the preparatory work that must be completed before anything can begin; only once this has been done can one’s efforts proceed smoothly. The reason people make mistakes so easily these days is that they rarely complete the proper preparations beforehand. They just grab things and jump into the task at hand last-minute; it’s no wonder they end up doing such a botched job of it! The same holds true when practicing the Dharma. In Buddhism, preliminary practice is very important. It includes one’s aspiration, mindset, and motivation. If your mindset is extremely narrow, and you are only seeking a minor benefit for yourself, then such preliminary practice will have nothing at all to do with the great compassion of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Preliminary practice involves preparing your mind and knowing exactly why you have come to participate in a puja. If you are simply here for a minor matter such as being cured of your illness, then participating in the puja will not be of much help to you.
“Only once you have completed the preliminary practice can you become attuned with the main practice—the Dharma to be performed. The main practice is completed by way of a series of offerings, prayers, the recitation of the yidam’s mantra, and by obtaining the yidam’s blessings. Once the main practice has been completed, the dedication prayers must be performed. This does not mean making a dedication for anyone in particular; of greatest importance is the dedication of your prayers to all sentient beings so that they can be reborn in the Pure Land. In yigui, the Chinese word for ‘ritual,’ the syllable yi means ‘dignified.’ If a Buddhist center lacks a dignified atmosphere, then its attendees will naturally not be able to obtain enough peace of mind to receive the Dharma. The need for dignity does not mean the Buddha needs your respect; that is not the case. If the Buddha still required these Eight Worldly Winds, then He would not have become liberated, enlightened, or attained Buddhahood. Without a dignified atmosphere, people’s minds cannot be tamed.
“A ritual, or ‘yigui,’ is a method or pathway used as an antidote to calm the minds of sentient beings. ‘Gui’ means to walk along these pathways without you creating your own method. All rituals were transmitted by the yidam, spoken from the sutras, or written down by great masters of the past; you cannot invent a new one of your own. Just as a train must follow its tracks to avoid crashing, if you hope to invent your own rituals while practicing Buddhism or think you have a feel for it or have attained enlightenment after practicing for just a few years, it is very terrible, because by doing so you will have misled sentient beings. Rituals must be performed exactly as they are written in the Dharma texts; you must neither add anything nor leave out any part of them.
“‘Benefits, bliss, and illumination’ means this Dharma method can help us to obtain eternal bliss; that is, to be freed from life and death. How is this achieved? If you are not born, you cannot die; if you do not die, then you will not be reborn. Therefore, only by being reborn in Amitabha’s Pure Land can you obtain eternal bliss. All worldly happiness is short-lived, and is the beginning of suffering. ‘Illumination’ means that if you participate in this ritual, your future will be bright. This does not refer to money; it does not mean you will strike it rich. Rather, it means that in the future you will be guided by the Buddha’s light, and will be able to obtain a pure Dharmakaya. This is a simple explanation of what is written in this Dharma text.
“The Dharma method being performed today includes the Kriyayoga and the Charyayoga Tantric practices. Tantra is divided into the Kriyayoga, Charyayoga, Yogatantra, and Anuttarayogatantra. The essence of the Kriyayoga and Charyayoga is that a practitioner’s mind and behavior are no different from those of the yidam. The difference between the yidam and ordinary people is that everything the yidam does is completely selfless, and is for the benefit of sentient beings. Only practitioners who attain the aforementioned state of mind can benefit sentient beings while performing the Kriyayoga and Charyayoga.”
His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the Simplified Amitabha Ritual, during which the guru also conducted the Tsok Ritual. Every attendee received offering items that had been blessed by His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche as well as the rare and auspicious causal condition to share a meal with the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. Upon the perfect completion of the Amitabha Dharma method, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued bestowing teachings upon the attendees.
“Next is the ‘Simplified Ritual of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara.’ Many people think mere vocalization is enough to make chanting a mantra effective. For example, some people on television tell people all the time that they must chant certain mantras; however, in this Dharma text it is written quite clearly, so you should all pay close attention. Here it is written that ordinarily, chanting a mantra only serves to form a connection; however, it does nothing at all in terms of practitioners becoming liberated from life and death, nor is it helpful to sentient beings. It can merely help to calm the practitioner’s mind down a little bit and cause him or her to commit fewer verbal offenses; special mention is made of this in the Dharma text.
“In the Dharma text it is written that while chanting the Great Six-Syllable Mantra, we should cultivate the essence of this mantra. Of all the mantras, the Great Six-Syllable Mantra is the most important. However, if you practice it without integrating the generation and completion stages—that is, if you practice without obtaining the oral transmission of the Kriyayoga and Charyayoga from your guru, then you will be doing so from a mandala of confusion, chaos, and the Five Poisons. By ‘mandala’ I am referring to your mindset. This is because many people chant mantras in order to obtain certain things that they want. Wandering thoughts while chanting the mantra are the result of not having received blessings from the guru and the yidam, causing your mind to run around in circles. The Five Poisons are greed, hatred, arrogance, ignorance, and doubt.
“In the Dharma text it is mentioned that a conch shell might have a lot of dirt (that collects in grooves on the shell’s surface), but no matter how hard you scrub it, you will not be able to scrub it clean. This is a metaphor for chanting a mantra; if you mere move your lips to form the syllables, you will still be very far from attainment. Thus, you should not think that telling someone to chant a mantra is the same thing as transmitting the Dharma; if you think that, you would be wrong. If you have not learned Tantra, any mantras you chant will do nothing but help you to form a connection. Strictly speaking, if the person transmitting the mantra has not achieved a certain degree of attainment, then his or her transmission of the mantra will not be in accordance with the Dharma; as such, neither will those of the people listening to those mantras. As I have mentioned before, someone once told me he wanted to transmit a mantra to me. As it turned out, the yidam immediately changed my face to scare him, and he was so horrified he ran away.
“Take this group of disciples who have recently taken refuge; especially those who used to practice Exoteric Buddhism. People out there have a tendency to show others the mantras and sutras they themselves have learned, but you absolutely must not follow their example. The Dharma texts may not be copied and given to others; this holds especially true for the Dharma text of Protector Achi. If you break this rule, then you are sure to encounter major hindrances in your future Buddhist practice. I will emphasize this point once more: You must not casually hand out the Dharma texts to people; doing so does not make you compassionate toward them. In the sutras it is written very clearly that the Buddha said the Dharma cannot be transmitted—or told—not only to people who cannot practice Tantra, but even to people who cannot practice Mahayana Buddhism. Therefore, don’t think that you are doing people a favor by telling them to chant the Great Six-Syllable Mantra with you. This is especially true for married people. As a mother, you should not tell your son to chant the mantra with you. When it comes to people who have not taken refuge, although having them chant mantras is better than cursing people, your assumption that telling them to come over and chant with you will help them is actually quite false. Thus, one must receive oral transmission of the generation and completion stages from one’s guru in order to chant the mantra.
“Conversely, therefore, after obtaining the auspicious Vajrayana oral transmission of the Dharma, you must then integrate it with the generation and completion stages of meditative and diligent practices. ‘Genuine cultivation’ here refers to performing retreat. In Tantra when a retreat is set to last twenty days, that means twenty days. During this time you may not speak, see people, or have contact with the outside world except when receiving meals. Only by practicing in this way can you be diligent; this is very different from having a few hundred people gather in a stadium to quietly practice the Eight Precepts Retreat. If such were meant to be, the Buddha would have said so in the sutras long ago. Activities such as this can only help you to form affinity connection; diligence, on the other hand, involves targeting and practicing the most important parts of the Dharma. It would be useless to do this in a giant group of people.
“Genuine cultivation involves genuinely amending your attitude, no more and no less. It does not involve casually making a vow and talking a whole lot about it; this, too, would be useless. According to my own practical experience, casually making vows serves absolutely no purpose; you must practice according to what is written in the Dharma texts and what your guru says. Trying to embellish the Dharma yourself is useless. In the Dharma text it is written that if you learn Vajrayana and receive oral transmission of a pith from the guru, and integrate it with the generation and completion stages when practicing it, then if you still cannot obtain liberation in body, speech, and mind, it means Vajradhara has completely deceived people. In other words, practicing in this manner is certain to lead to achievement; Vajradhara absolutely cannot deceive people. If you do not attain liberation, it is because you yourself have not practiced properly.
“As for ‘cannot obtain liberation in body, speech, and mind,’ ‘liberation’ here does not only refer to liberation after death. Only by leaving the Eight Winds can one truly be liberated; only then can one’s mind remain unswayed no matter what worldly praise or slander it is subjected to. Liberation means leaving behind all of the various worldly games, with the mind constantly focused on the Dharma, not being swayed—regardless of whatever attacks or slander might fall upon it. Only this is true liberation. Many people say they will become liberated after death, but that is not at all how it works. Rather, liberation happens while one is still living. If you are still quarreling with people or looking down on your elders, you will be hopeless, just like a disciple quarreling with her mother-in-law.”
Right then and there, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche named this disciple and asked her whether or not that was the case. The disciple answered, “I would not dare.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche said he had not asked her whether she would dare or not, but whether or not she had done such a thing. The disciple answered, “I have not.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche told her he would not have asked her if he had not heard news of such an incident, and then gave her three minutes to think about whether or not she had ever quarreled with her mother-in-law. If she still did not admit to it, she would have to leave immediately.
“Thus, those with higher and medium root capacities should learn to practice the completion stage; ordinary people—that is, people who do not think they are very remarkable—should engage in simple but genuine practice of taking refuge and giving rise to aspirations. What this means is, if you do not have sufficient root capacity, the guru will not instruct you to perform a retreat. This does not indicate that you cannot practice; rather, it is that you must genuinely practice the Dharma exactly as it is transmitted to you, without adding or subtracting anything. In this way, at the very least, you will be able to be reborn in the Pure Land.”
Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche asked that disciple whether or not she had quarreled with her mother-in-law. The disciple answered, “I did not quarrel with her; I made her angry.” Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche expressed admiration for this disciple’s descriptive language. “Based on what she just said, isn’t making her mother-in-law angry the same as quarreling with her? Perhaps my Chinese isn’t good enough, though, so I should ask a professor of Chinese language to explain it to me.” A disciple who was indeed a professor in the Chinese department at a university said, “Making someone mad means causing that person to give rise to angry thoughts. This is the same as quarreling with that person.”
Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche continued to bestow teachings. “That disciple is very good at arguing. Luckily, we have a great number of very competent people here at the Buddhist Center, including a Chinese language professor who can explain things to us.” Right then and there, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche instructed this disciple to hand in all of her Dharma texts and told her that she would not be allowed to practice Tantra. “This is the sort of disciple who shouted ‘Rinpoche!’ when giving birth until she was out of danger. Normally, however, she shoves all of the Dharma I have taught right to the back of her head. She is heartless and ungrateful! I teach you married people many things; as a son- or daughter-in-law, you should be just as filial toward your mother-in-law as you are to your own mother. How can she say that making her mother-in-law angry is not the same as quarreling with her? If she were to make me mad one day, would she say she and I hadn’t quarreled but that she had merely made me angry?
“Why are higher, medium, and lower root capacities separated so distinctly? In Buddhism, these root capacities are not rankings or a comparison of good and bad; they should not be taken as reasons to look down on someone. Your root capacity depends on the causal conditions you have cultivated in your past lives as well as the virtuous root you have planted, and whether or not you have given rise to aspirations. All of this has an effect on your current lifetime. Can you change your root capacity in this lifetime? I believe I am of an extremely low root capacity, but because I listen, I have been able to achieve some attainment. Lower, medium, and higher root capacities are not set in stone forever; your root capacity can change, depending on your determination. That disciple I reprimanded just now is bound to use me when she is in time of need; without me, she would surely have died during childbirth. She lived, but has completely forgotten everything I ever taught her. She even argued that she had only made her mother-in-law angry. I already gave her one chance, but there still is a matter that I have not settled with her. One thing at a time; because I have gotten old, I have a lot of patience. Unlike you, I can take my time.
“In the Dharma text it is written that people of higher and medium root capacities should practice the completion stage. Why have so many disciples still not been able to receive oral transmission from me of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara’s visualization? Even those of you who have received it have only received the simplest version of it, because there is so much to practice when it comes to the Avalokiteshvara Dharma method. Why have I not transmitted it to you? How could I, with your exhibiting such revolting behavior? You have no Bodhicitta; you do not listen to your guru, and you are still full of your own self-righteous ideas. That disciple I berated a moment ago is the same; she has made frequent mistakes recently. Every time I tell her to do something, she fails to do it. This has to do with her family problems; I won’t discuss them publicly. She did not listen to me; she had a certain family member come and see her son (because she thought she should treat her family a bit better). Because she would not listen, I was unable to help her.
“Don’t think that receiving empowerments and oral transmissions means you have a higher or medium root capacity. Your guru can see what your root capacity is! If you had a higher root capacity, your guru would take the initiative to transmit the Dharma to you; if you have a lower root capacity, or an ordinary one, then at least you should do one thing—truly listen and engage in genuine cultivation. Genuine cultivation means earnestly, truthfully practicing, such as ‘chanting the Buddha’s name in earnest’ as the old monk Kwong Chin said. While chanting you should not have any wandering thoughts or desires in your mind. This is what it means to be an earnest and truthful person. Such a person is one with a sense of gratitude. That disciple I scolded just now has no sense of gratitude. If she did, she would have completely listened. She is ungrateful, which is why she went against my advice. Gratitude is truthfulness and earnestness; it means doing as your guru tells you without using your own thoughts to make judgments about the matter.
“I don’t mean to tell you to be stupid, but if your guru has shown you benevolence, would he harm you? Even if he did a little bit, it would be fine! Don’t think sounding a wooden fish and reciting the sutras every day means you are engaged in genuine cultivation; that is not true. Rather, you should be more simple-minded. Smart people cannot achieve this. That disciple just now still would not admit to fault; she said she had simply made her mother-in-law mad, and tried to explain that she had not done anything wrong. The more she defended herself, however, the more she dug herself into a hole. Thus, genuine cultivation means being truthful and earnest.
“When taking refuge you must give rise to aspiration. Once we do, if we keep this aspiration in mind constantly and use it to train our mind-continuum, then the day is sure to come when we will move from a lower root capacity to a medium one, and then in turn to a higher one. In English this is called motivation; in ancient Chinese it was referred to as aspiration. Giving rise to aspiration does not mean aspiring to donate money; it means aspiring to the Bodhicitta. Has someone developed the Bodhicitta? It is not simply something that is talked about. How does one develop the Bodhicitta? First, of course, one must start by observing the Five Precepts and engaging in the Ten Meritorious Acts. Only after that can one cultivate compassion. If you do not succeed in observing the Five Precepts and engaging in the Ten Meritorious Acts, then you cannot be successful on the human path. As such, you will not listen to your guru, and sooner or later will encounter problems. Only once you are successful on the human path will you be qualified to learn compassion; once you have achieved this, you will be able to develop the Bodhicitta. Only after that will you have the power and opportunity to benefit sentient beings and yourself.
“Without the Bodhicitta you are helpless, and you will turn into what the Buddha called a ‘self-centered person.’ One cannot help sentient beings simply by making vows or learning Buddhism. Who doesn’t say these words? However, how is this done? Developing the Bodhicitta does not mean simply vocalizing it or thinking about it; there is a sequential order to doing it. How can you develop it if you have not cultivated the Five Precepts and the Ten Meritorious Acts? Why do I always scold you whenever you quarrel? It is because that is tantamount to not performing the Ten Meritorious Acts. If you have not cultivated these, how can you be compassionate? Without compassion, how can you develop the Bodhicitta? You must not take the Bodhicitta lightly; don’t think talking about it and chanting a bit is enough. The more you listen the more you are afraid. Now you understand how it really is.
“Many people think they can get there just by chanting, but that is not true. To achieve it, you must have a foundation, just like how machines and tools are needed to develop a piece of land. It is not enough simply to say, ‘I’m going to dig here;’ you must prepare a lot of things before you can actually get the job done. Similarly, in Buddhism you must complete a lot of preparations before you can develop the Bodhicitta; chanting alone is not enough. Why are we so strict at the Glorious Jewel Buddhist Center? It is because this is the only way I can attain results. I am tested by many sentient beings every day. They look at my Bodhicitta, because I have not yet perfectly attained Buddhahood. Until we attain perfect Buddhahood, we are still subject to many human habits. Because I have a bit more good fortune than you, I am constantly receiving blessings from my guru and the yidam; as such, I am able to constantly examine myself every day.
“If you overlook even a tiny thing, the opportunity will pass; problems will immediately appear. However, you all think you are not at fault. In the end, you will be able to see that your own thoughts are like flecks of dust; this is what it means to be in the state of Mahamudra. Only when you are able to see your own thoughts without thinking about them are you considered to have mastered meditation. If your thoughts come from your thinking about them, then you are still a long ways off. Don’t be arrogant and full of yourselves!
“Today I have used this opportunity while performing this Dharma to reprimand you. There are prerequisites to develop the Bodhicitta; you can’t do it simply by chanting, nor is it enough simply to come running to me and tell me that you want to practice Buddhism so that you can benefit sentient beings. How can you benefit sentient beings? If you have nothing, how can you help them? All you’re doing is saying the words. I have never heard of someone honestly coming before me and saying he or she wants to repent or to practice the Dharma in the proper sequential order. You all make great vows, but they are completely useless if in the end you cannot fulfil them, and then complain that it is the Dharma that is not working. The Buddha would not deceive anyone; it is you who have not followed the teachings. The guru would not mislead anyone, either; it is you who have not listened.
Next, Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the Avalokiteshvara Dharma. After performing it for a while, the guru continued to bestow teachings.
“The dedication at the end of the Dharma text contains a very important line; you should all listen closely: ‘I practice this Dharma method today in the sole hope that all of the offenses and hindrances in my mind-continuum and that of sentient beings will be completely purified.’ Here, ‘purified’ means that none of your thoughts will be for your benefit; the hope is that all of your thoughts can help sentient beings so that your body, speech, mind, and Buddha nature can be no different from the yidam. Buddhism involves the cultivation of the mind rather than the pursuit of external matters. Whether or not one is practicing the Dharma depends on whether or not the practitioner has properly adjusted his or her mind.
“Next I will perform the Padmasambhava. Master Padmasambhava was the patriarch of Tibetan Tantra for all of the Orders. Padmasambhava was born in a lotus blossom and lived in modern-day Afghanistan. According to the sutras, Shakyamuni Buddha would be reborn in a lotus blossom to transmit Tantra. In biographies of Padmasambhava it is written that after bringing the Dharma from India to Tibet, it was about eight hundred years before Padmasambhava left Tibet again. Leaving Tibet did not mean dying; according to the biographies, Padmasambhava rode on horseback to the Land of Rakshasas to serve as its king. Rakshasas were ghosts that primarily ate people, so Padmasambhava’s purpose in becoming king there was to bring these ghosts under control.
“Thus, anyone who practices Tibetan Buddhism is sure to form an affinity with Padmasambhava. Today I will perform abridged simplified version of the Padmasambhava Ritual, and this is a peaceful yidam. You might ordinarily think of Padmasambhava as having a rather stern countenance, because Vajrayana gurus appear roughly the same way. When you look at Padmasambhava, you will see that Tantric practitioners are different from ordinary people. It’s not that their eyes protrude more; it’s that their entire faces—especially the eyes, eyebrows, cheeks, and so on—are different from those of other people. That’s all I’ll say on the subject for now.”
His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche began to perform the Padmasambhava Dharma method. After the ritual was conducted to perfect completion, in unison all of the disciples expressed their gratitude to the guru for having performed the Dharma and bestowed teachings. They rose to their feet, paying reverent homage as His Eminence Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche descended the Dharma throne.
Updated on December 19, 2014