Rigdzin Puja in Wutai Mountain 2016 – The Teaching about Taking Refuge (Part Two)

The teaching from Rigdzin Gawa Rinpoche:


It is the first time for many attendants today to meet me in person, and to take refuge. Some others come to attend the puja. I haven’t seen my disciples from all the regions this year.  I think it is really a rare occasion that we can gather together. We all come to Mount Wu-Tai, such an auspicious venue, to attend the group practice of 100,000 light offering. How precious it is. I hope you all attend with a pure aspiration and conduct excellent Dharma practice.


I would like to begin with the statement that in our lives, we are filled with worldly chores which never end. Notwithstanding the foregoing, we have put them aside and come all the way here to attend this puja. This is because of our strong faiths in Buddhism and this is truly precious. I am actually under huge pressure to accomplish a puja with so many attendants. I hope all of you, besides taking the group practice, offering light and water, and cleaning up the lamps, also go to worship the White Stupas, Shan Cai Cave and those temples open for visitors.   Attention that some of us may come cross faulty Dharma practitioners and sometimes fortunetellers. This can be quite confusing. Please be aware that we come to such an auspicious place in order to provide worship solely to Bodhisattvas, to prostrate before the Manjusri Bodhisattva and to offer lights. We should not get involved in any other activities. Let’s focus on our tasks, which are prostration, aspiration and light offering. Moreover, let’s do everything in order. This is our mission this time. We would like to see changes in our lives with growing merit and wisdom, all we need to do this time is to get these three things done.  Sometimes we walk into strangers that talk about fascinating things. Please be alerted and make sure you don’t follow them. We might think that since we are at a sacred Buddha field, all Dharma practitioners here are purified. In fact here gather all kinds of people.  That’s why we should adjust our mindset and focus on our own business, we will attend the puja with full happiness and the group practice will be satisfactory. I hope you all carry out a perfect puja with a pure aspiration. In our lives this kind of occasions are rare and particularly precious. Hence, in these days, please take good participation in the sutrarecitation, the 24-hour light offering in the temple, the worship to Mount Wu-Tai and the aquarius offering.


We can only live our life once and the time is limited.  In this world, there is nothing more important than our own lives. Our life cycle will continue and in this continuous process we need to make sure we are prepared, with some confidence. This is very critical. We are lucky that in  this lifetime, we are the few ones who have accumulated enough merit to take refuge and to practice the Dharma. Not every person has this opportunity. Most people have no faith in Buddhism. And many claim they do but what they actually believe in is not authentic Buddhism. Now we have such a precious opportunity to gather together. Please make sure we discipline ourselves as qualified disciples of the Buddha. Among us there are a lot of young people. We are a very youthful group. 

Our Nyingma Urgyen Mahayana Joyous Dharma Continent, has established life release groups in many cities. Everywhere the disciples work hard on life release, charities and many other good deeds daily. We have already released 1.1 billion lives. Furthermore, think about it, besides the homework we do daily, we also have group practices. We are a sizable association. For the purpose of gaining merit and wisdom for all, for your cyclic lives and for good outcome, you are offered a lot of opportunities. And all these offers are from your Vajrayana brothers and sisters. As well as from me. As a guru of Tibetan Buddhism, or a disciple of Buddha, I have tried my best to do what’s possible. In cities I organize life release groups and Dharma practice groups, I have now so many disciples gathered together. This is also because we have acquired fortunate conditions.  Let’s make full use of these conditions, turn ourselves into examples of the Dharma practitioners and become truthful disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha.

The society is in desperate needs of people helping sentient beings without conditions, just like us. Nowadays, most mankind only think about themselves in daily life, rarely keep others’ interest in mind. Let’s review ourselves, from morning to night, how often we think about helping others and benefitting others? In contrast, how often do we think about our own benefits and how much desire we have?  Even we, as Buddhism disciples, are not able to hold our minds (on benefiting others), let alone the ordinary people.   We spend our whole lives in pursue of how well “I” can be, what “I” eat, where “I” live and what “I” wear. We think about this kind of things every day and we spend our lives in this way. Ask yourself: whether can these things we spend a life time provide us permanent benefits? These things might help us worldly in a few decades, however do they benefit people around us?


While if we live our lives according to the standards of a real Buddha disciple, we will discover more and more happiness, find more and more benevolent people around us and have better and better pursues. Without noble wisdom and thinking, we will not make progress. We will be busy all day just to follow others, not knowing exactly what we run after and what is truly beneficial to us, as we are too busy to think about it.

Many people said to me that there are a lot of deluded thoughts come to their minds when they chanter sutras. I said to them this is a good thing since they were not aware of what on their minds earlier. And now you discover a lot of your thoughts are not positive and should be corrected, which is a result of a calmer mind and changes in your heart.


Some people said we go often life releasing. It has become a habit and a must-do for every month. They now like life releasing and helping these sentient beings. If they ever see the lives being killed, they feel really sad. This is the bodhichitta! Before you took refuge in Buddhism, you had no such feeling when killing animals or seeing them killed. When others had pains, we were also indifferent. But ever since we took refuge in Buddhism, our hearts have become more and more compassionate. Our relatives and friends, as they have observed our changes, would like to study Dharma too. As they see our merit growing, they also tend to do good deeds.


Majority of attendants to the Puja today have taken refuge and have followed me for more than a decade.  I have led you to practice all kinds of good deeds, no matter big or small. You have acquired a lot of accomplishment up to date, and you are all happy and contented. Because we have been doings all the right practices, we become more and more in favor of what we do over the years, and we desire more and more in conducting good deeds. If there is no much value out of these practices, or we don’t observe changes in our minds or see no help to our lives, we would not have had faith in a person without questioning and we would not have practiced his teaching without conditions. It calls for your participation in person, then you will discover through your own experience, that how much changes and benefits can arise from Dharma practices of a Buddha disciple.  You would not realize until you practice it in person that how much people around you are actually in need of your help.


A lot of people live miserably in this world. Normally it doesn’t not bring to our awareness, as our network is so small. We have no clue how suffering the world is and we are blind to the pain of others, which even include our parents. Please think about it, many people are busy with taking care of themselves in daily life and never spend time looking after their parents. We forget those who have given us most care and love. Why? Because the pace of our life is too fast and we have no time to think about it. In fact you will never have time to think about it. As time passes by, will it always be like this? Not really. One day the impermanence comes, no matter you have time or not, all the things you deem to do will not be your business anymore. What we will take with us are the karma of the positive and negative actions. This is guaranteed.  They are stored in alaya-consciousness and they go along with us. Think about it, why people have different fates, different merit and different minds? There are reasons for it. The inequality comes with reasons, which are the differences in positive actions people have taken in previous and present lives. It results in our different lifestyles as well as our material conditions.

That is why we are lucky that we take refuge in Buddhism, study and practice Dharma, conduct good deeds and contribute to the society. A man with such kind of objectives, is a man with noble mind, far vision and high goals. Most people don’t have it. Therefore I believe everyone at present today are in strong faith in Buddhism, including those who are going to take refuge. Please practice Dharma diligently.


I am going to grant refuge soon. For those who will take refuge today and those who are not yet ready to take refuge, the basic requirements are the same, which is stop taking life, stop smoking and drinking alcohol. There is enormous merit even if we just take a basic precept like this. 


There are two requirements after taking refuge. Firstly, we do not seek refuge to other religion. We should not believe in Jesus, Daoism or other faiths. We take refuge in Shakyamuni Buddha, inclusive of Tibetan Buddhism, Han Buddhism and Hinayana Buddhism. It is not a problem if you have taken refuge before in Vajrayana or Exotoric Buddhism, as we are all disciples of Shakyamuni Buddha. We all dedicate ourselves to the same great goal of benefiting sentient beings and generating Bodhicitta, via different avenues. Hence if you have already taken refuge in any other vehicles of Buddhism, there is no conflict if you do it again. However we should not believe or worship other gods, immortals or Daoism. Not saying they are not good. It is due to the difference in the objectives, pursues and values. Whilst among Buddhist disciples, these are all held the same. The differences exist only in the pace, the approach and the vehicles. Other than that, the itineraries are alike. Therefore, the first requirement is that we would not seek refuge to other religion.


Secondly, we as Buddhism disciples should take at least one basic precept, which is we stop taking life. What does it mean? Of course we should not kill a person. That does nobody, however we quite often take lives from other sentient beings, that is exactly where we should make aspiration on stop doing. Let’s make an aspiration on not killing any sentient beings anymore. We have taken many lives since our birth. For the sake of the happiness of your parents to which you are most thankful, in order to purify all their obscuration and for the purpose of their better life, let’s take this precept and dedicate the merit to them. It is going to benefit them. Even since our births, our parents have taken many lives to breed us, because they don’t understand Dharma. Today let us take the precept of stop taking life for their happiness. From now on we share our merit with them to confess all the negative karma from taking life. If we hold such kind of determination and thinking, it is definitely helpful. In summary I hope the people taking refuge today will not seek refuge to other religion and will stop taking life. 


We will take more and more precepts gradually as it is impossible to do all at once. We start with these two requirements after taking refuge today. Besides, we will chanter mantras and there is simple homework that we conduct daily. If you practice offering to statues of Buddha and Bodhisattvas at home, such as the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, Amitabha, Shakyamuni Buddha or Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, you may well continue. Any Buddhism scriptures that you have been chanting, such as The Sutra of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, The Amitabha Sutra or The Heart Sutra, you may also continue.  Furthermore, I will assign some mantras and sutrarecitation. Please take your time to complete them.  If you have friends taking refuge today, please explain them to your new Buddhist brothers and sisters.  You may also ask the group organizer in your location. Many of you have received the refuge certification. For those who haven’t, please go to the dedicated counter to fill in the form. You may do it after the ritual of refuge and you will get the refuge certificate after that.


I am going to grant refuge now. How many people at present will take refuge, could you raise your hands? Oh, so many! Great! You are very brave! Brave for becoming Buddhas! (Rinpoche laughed joyfully.)


Good. I have explained the first requirement of refuge, which is we do not seek refuge to other religion. Is it clear? (All replied: Clear.) Good. The second requirement is to arouse Bodhicitta by no more life taking and by free them from torment. Can we make it? (All replied: Yes). Great. This is the two requirements of today. There are other five precepts and we will get there gradually. For example, if we cannot become a vegetarian immediately, we can start with taking no more meat from freshly killed animals. Instead we can take frozen meet from supermarket. We will make progress gradually. Let us start with no more killing in person. We might still take lives from small animals when we walk or drive. In this case we should chanter 100 Syllable Mantra of Vajrasattva. The Six Syllable Mantra and dedicate (the merit to them). Next let’s get ready for taking refuge.

Everyone please kneel.  If you don’t take refuge today, it is also appropriate to listen. I mentioned that even without taking refuge, you can well make an aspiration to believe in Buddhism with full faith, and accept a precept to stop taking life.(The only difference is that ) You don’t stand up to take the refuge certificate for the time being. (Rinpoche smiled.) This is also fine. 

Firstly take a look at this statue of Shakyamuni Buddha. This is a terma treasure which is very special. Please think in your heart that you become the disciple of Shakyamuni Buddha today, you will never reverse and you will be a Buddhism practitioner following stringently the teachings from Buddha. Please prostrate three times and take refuge in Shakyamuni Buddha.

Please prostrate three times again. Take refuge to your Guru. Benefit all sentient beings. Arouse Bodhicitta.


Next, please hold your refuge certificate if you have got it, in which list your Dharma name. In a while, once I say “Dharma Name”, please quote it. If you have not got your refuge certificate, you may just say your own name. What does it mean to say your name before Shakyamuni BuddhaBecause you become the disciple of Buddha today and you tell Buddha about your name. In this way the Buddha will recognize we all as his disciples.


Afterwards, when I chanter Refuge Vow, everyone please think in your heart that you will dedicate the merit of taking refuge today to your family, to your parents of current life and of all cyclic lives, for their obscuration purification and eternal happiness.  This is the first goal of taking refuge. Secondly, please think in this way, I will benefit all sentient beings and arouse Bodhicitta after taking refuge. I will practice good deeds as much as possible and minimize negative actions. Please make an aspiration like this. I am going to chanter Refuge Vow in Tibetan.


(Rinpoche chanted Refuge Vow)


Good. This is the ritual of taking refuge today. It is complete for those have got the refuge certificate. For those who haven’t received it, please pay attention to the dedicated counter for registration. Please sign up your name and they will provide you the certificate. All the Dharma names are noted down by me. You have taken refuge and you just need to pick up the refuge certificate. For those who not yet ready for taking refuge, as said earlier, you may well make an aspiration that you will practice Dharma and you will take refuge when you acquire the right conditions.

After taking refuge, all the new disciples please start with reciting Refuge Prayers 110,000 times. Refuge Prayers means you take refuge to your guru, Buddha, Dharma and Sangha.  You should recite these four sentences. Once it’s completed, you can move on to Guru Rinpoche Prayers 1 million times and thirdly the Vajrasattva’s mantra. Then please recite the Manjusri’s mantra 1 million times, because you take refuge at Mount Wu-Tai, a field of merit of Bodhisattva Manjusri.


Now I am going to transmit the lineage to you.


(Rinpoche taught Refuge Prayers.)


Guru Rinpoche Prayers. (Rinpoche taught Guru Rinpoche Prayers.)


Good. The third one is the Vajrasattva’s mantra, the mantra for confession. (Rinpoche taught the Vajrasattva’s mantra.)


Good. The fourth is the Manjusri’s mantra, which will increase your wisdom. Because you take refuge at Mount Wu-Tai, a field of merit of Bodhisattva Manjusri, please make an aspiration to recite the Manjusri’s mantra 1 million times. (Rinpoche taught the Manjusri’s mantra. )


Good. Those who didn’t take refuge today while attended, please also make an aspiration to recite the Manjusri’s mantra 1 million times. This is not impossible. Take your time to recite and record it by electronic counters or prayer beads. You don’t have to take refuge in order to recite the Manjusri’s mantra. Via reciting the Manjusri’s mantra, you help your family members and friends those who need help.  Reciting Manjusri’s mantra will allow expelling ignorance and affliction as well as increasing merit and wisdom.


Good. This is the homework of taking refuge from today. Moreover, there is daily homework as listed in our book of Life Release Prayers. Every group organizer will explain to you in details, such as Refuge Vow, Eight Auspicious Prayer, The Great Cloud of Blessing, Thirty-Five Buddhas Confession, The Heart Sutra, Heart Essence Prayer to Guru Rinpoche and the Practices and Vows of the Bodhisattva Samantabhadra. If you have friends taking refuge today, please explain them to your new Buddhist brothers and sisters.


We had no time today to print the list of homework. We will make sure it’s printed in these days and we will deliver it to your all. It is quite convenient to refer to the list.

Good. The refuge ritual is now completed. Once again I will dedicate the merit. (Rinpoche recited the dedication prayer.)