Teachings from Rigdzin Gawa Rinpoche:
We are going to complete successfully today by dedicating with one more chanting of the Practices and Vows of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra. We have made an auspicious completion of the 100,000 lights offering, puja of water offering and two nights of group practices. Everyone participated with great joy and practiced properly according to Dharma. It has been really auspicious and we have done a good job.
Our people have filled Wutai Mountain and it is difficult to extend our stay. The duration of our puja is just appropriate. We have found suitable places for our group practices, in both the main hall and the session halls, for both large group practice and light offerings. Our group leaders have made excellent arrangement. Since we complete successfully today, when we return home, please start reciting the Seven Line Prayer to Guru Rinpoche according to our aspirations last night and continue our respective Dharma practices. Make sure you do them well. Participate actively in life-release in your cities, take lead among the people around you and guide them toward virtuous activities.
When you take your friends and family members to virtuous activities, you are gradually converted. Quite often during the process of helping others, we talk about the benefits and meaning of virtuous activities through which we assure ourselves. If we are not used to benefiting others, either lack of the environment or the willingness, our own desire toward Dharma can gradually wane. Therefore everyone should participate actively in group practice, life-release and keep up with daily homework.
We are exceptionally lucky to be a Dharma practitioner nowadays and able to practice Dharma. Although there are a lot of Dharma practitioners, the true disciples of Buddha are rare, referring to those who have reached quite high level of Dharma practice and can truly benefit sentient beings. Most of us have done very well.
All of you follow the same Rinpoche. I have conferred the ceremony for your taking refuge and taught you the mantras and liturgies little by little. Today all of you can recite a lot of liturgies and practice all kinds of Dharma appropriately. It is like a school from which we learn a lot of new knowledge that resolve ignorance and confusion in our mind. It is the result of our long-lasting persistence. Otherwise, even if we read a few books and visit a few temples, we cannot make such great progress in Dharma practice, nor would we arise Renunciation with the awareness of the difficulty of finding the freedoms and advantages, the impermanence of life, the principle of cause and effect and the defects of samsara. In the circle of samsara, if we do not prepare ourselves in current life, later on we could neither protect ourselves nor make our own choice. Many people are not aware of it because they haven’t learned about it. As we have known it, it becomes crucial that we should do it well.
The atmosphere is not a problem for us at all. We are surrounded by excellent Dharma practitioners. Every vajra brother or sister is a good Dharma practitioner. Think about it, when we conduct virtuous activities and accumulate merits, a lot of people around you are willing to help you and provide you guidance. This is really our fortune.
Many people would like to learn Buddhism but they can’t. They are either lost or have blind faith. A lot of them even don’t know which direction to go. It is precious that thousands of us gathered together (for Dharma practice) yesterday. What is the most precious thing? It is that all people know me well, have followed me and practiced Dharma for many years. Everyone is familiar, which is the most precious thing.
Of course, if we send a public notification, more people would have come. If we promote this puja online, it is not a problem to gather seven or eight thousand people. It is meaningful to have such a large amount of people to practice Dharma together; however, it is difficult to say whether they could continue to be a true disciple of Buddha, a real Dharma practitioner and a person committed to virtuous activities. Because they do not follow Rinpoche, they don’t know the Vajra brothers and sisters and they cannot gather together again. Therefore, sometimes there are hundreds or thousands of attendees to a big puja, but when they return to their normal life, they lack circumstances, friends and vajra groups to have group practices, sutra chanting and virtuous activities.
We are different. We are a group suitable for group practice, which is precious. Why? Because our group has high quality. Even in Tibetan area, a group focusing on Dharma practice like us is rare. Many Rinpoches have praised our group. For example, our life-release activities have achieved the number of 1.1 Billion which is impossible without the long-term persistence from many of us.
We are now able to recite so many liturgies, moreover we are delighted and diligent in Dharma practice. It is because we have always had vajra brothers and sisters. All together we enjoy Dharma practice more and more and we realize the importance of it more and more. If we didn’t have vajra brothers and sisters, it would not be so easy to make progress. We would tend to be lazy and forgive ourselves for the laziness. Our mind might slide back. When we experience all kinds of impermanence in life, we might change. Therefore, we need good Dharma practitioners around us, those who have a lot of wisdom and merits.
Even if we make mistakes and encounter with contradictive conditions, with the help and support of our vajra brothers and sisters, we can gradually overcome and make progress again. Before we reach the best status of our Dharma practice, it is possible to happen. But when we are at the best status, nothing would let our faith wane and nothing unfortunate would happen anymore.
When we are not at the best status, we don’t understand the importance of Dharma practice, just like children don’t understand the importance of study. The teachings from Buddha and Rinpoche are what your vajra brothers and sisters can guide you with. It is because we don’t understand its importance and its meaning, we don’t practice hard and our confidence will wane. Therefore, we need such a group, a homebase, and it is precious. When we practice together, we should respect and learn from each other and make sure we don’t criticize or defame each other. As disciples of Buddha, we should stay away from affliction, right and wrong, and five poisons of greed, hatred, delusion, arrogance and doubt. If we didn’t achieve any changes in ourselves, it is really a pity.
In the past, we didn’t know (about Dharma). When our habit or the temper arises, we tend to make mistakes. It was because we were not required (to follow Dharma) and we are used to let (our temper) go. It is not a problem if we confess immediately and change our behavior timely. If we continue with our mistakes, it becomes a real pity. Therefore, I hope you learn to respect and learn from each other. You need such a Rinpoche, vajra brothers and sisters, as well as such a learning environment to conduct Dharma activities that benefit sentient beings, to reach Buddhahood and to have confidence in our future lives. This is very important. I hope you keep practicing a lot of virtuous activities when your return home.
Around us, there are a lot of vajra brothers and sisters, family members and friends. Dharma can bring them compassion, wisdom and love which will definitely help them in their lives. As long as they notice the importance the Dharma and participate in Dharma activities, none of them will be unhappy. They are all happy. Why? Honestly, we are such a group that focus purely on benefiting all sentient beings, we never complicate or amplify things, we focus completely on doing. If they cannot arise faith in such a group, it is difficult for them to find any better Buddhist groups. I think it is really difficult.
I have been in contact with many other groups. They are either not in harmony, or holding weird ideas and appearing mysterious. It complicates things and leads to prejudice against Buddhism. Sometimes it is due to lack of appropriate management, otherwise due to the teachings of Rinpoche penetrating too little in details. Or it is like in Han area, Dharma teachers are occupied with all kinds of tedious matters in temples, and it is not often to see influential great masters teaching Dharma. There are some (great masters) but not a lot. And most people cannot reach them.
In Tibetan Buddhism, there are a lot of great masters. They have all practiced Dharma for long and capable of helping others. Buddhism is the belief of all people in Tibet. Nowadays a lot of people in Han area believe in Tibetan Buddhism too. Why is that? It is because there are so many Rinpoche dedicated themselves to Dharma teaching day and night for sentient beings. These Dharma practitioners are all over the place in the West, Han Area and Tibet.
How come? Because there is a good atmosphere of studying Dharma in Tibet, just like schools. Many people began to believe in Buddhism from childhood and they learn a lot about Dharma. There is no other religion in Tibet. Nobody disbelieves in the principle of cause and effect. We are all Buddhists. Why? It is related to the environment. Just like Bhutan. Bhutan is the happiest country in the world. Why? Because it is a country of Buddhism. All people believe in Buddhism, no matter rich, middle class or poor. Everything follows the teachings of Buddha and everybody follows the percepts as disciples of Buddha, so it is impossible to be unhappy. It is definitely different from many other places. That is exact the reason why people are happy in the countries that Buddhism prevails. We are likewise. More and more people nowadays believe in Buddhism. We have a lot of friends that are lack of belief and wisdom. We should share with them what we learn.
Let each of us make a pure aspiration. Besides mundane activities, we should become a disciple of Buddha and live this life in a meaningful way. After one decade, two decades, the longer it is, we will understand better what it means. At the beginning we might not understand its meaning and value. Just like today, among your vajra brothers and sisters, those who have followed me for more than 10 years would recognize it. At the beginning they knew nothing and now we host such a big puja. I have said earlier that when we were in Wu-Tai Mountain seven years ago, most people could only chant the Verses of the Eight Noble Auspicious Ones and the Great Clouds of Blessing, nothing else. When we did the Puja, I was the only one reciting the liturgies. Others could only follow with mantras. But yesterday, thousands of us recited the liturgies of the puja together. Everybody in the temple was impressed, as they have never seen such a group as us, neither in Exotoric Buddhism nor in Tantrism. There are too few Dharma practice groups of our scale and level.
I have spent a lot of time on our group. I travel all over the places in the Han area every year and teach little by little how to practice Dharma. As I see today, all the hard-working over the years have been rewarded. Everyone in each place can organize group practice, do virtuous activities and be a disciplined Dharma practitioner. We are guiding people around us and we are increasing in numbers. We do a very good job. I joked you don’t need me anymore. You all have learned how to practice Dharma and do good deeds. It is true that many of us are excellent Dharma practitioners, second to none. I believe a lot of us are qualified with high standards in Dharma practice, as well as in study and reflection.
I hope you cherish such an excellent group. We have completed the event very successfully. When we go back home, let’s practice Dharma harder. A group practice such as what we did today is a life-long memory. A lot of things in our life are actually meaningless and we will forget them. But a puja and group practices like this is unforgettable. The meaning of the group practices these days, your experience from it, such as how you feel the compassion and wisdom of Buddha in your mind every moment, as well as the devotion of your vajra brothers and sisters, can all do your best to strengthen your faith in Dharma practice. It is like a travel to Lhasa. Many people go to Lhasa for sightseeing. When they see how the local people devote themselves to Buddhism, prostrating, circling around stupas, turning prayer wheels day and night and dedicating merits to all sentient beings, the tourists are all touched no matter they believe in Buddhism or not. A lot of people become Buddhists when they return from Lhasa.
That is why I advised you to try your best to participate in this activity. It is precious so that you should put everything else aside and you will not regret it. We are lucky to be able to host such a big puja in this place. We have a lot of merits and luck because we are devoted to Buddhism practices. For so many years we have held pure aspirations when we do virtuous activities. We have always been selfless as real disciples of Buddha and we do everything purely for the benefits of all sentient beings. It is because our practices have followed the teachings of Buddha, so that Denon and Dharma protectors have blessed us, and we can have a chance to keep practicing Dharma. It is also because we are disciplined and organized that we can complete such a puja successfully. I hope you all dedicate the merits properly.
All our Dharma activities are completed today and most people will leave tomorrow. It is impermanence. Two days ago, all of us came here enthusiastically and yesterday all of us gathered together, but today many people have left already. It is like life. It is easy to get together and it is also easy to be apart. This is impermanence. Happy moments seem to pass fast, while miserable moments are particularly slow. Why we are living faster but unhappy? Actually, we have a happy life, but we don’t know how to discover happiness. Therefore, happiness passed by quickly and our life passed by quickly too. Just like our gathering. The circles in samsara are likewise. Since we are compassionate and we have practiced Dharma, we will carry out virtuous activities that benefit all sentient beings in every life, and our life in the future will have enormous outcome and meaning. I hope you can cherish it.
When we are back home, we should keep doing our own Dharma practice. If we dedicate to Dharma teaching and virtuous activities with great aspiration, we will become much more powerful and we can surely help many people around us. It is very meaningful. I hope you try hard.
Next Rinpoche will confer the ceremony for taking refuge.
Everyone please chant the Practices and Vows of Bodhisattva Samantabhadra..