by Zhaxi Zhuoma Rinpoche
Some of you may not realize that there are many Buddhas in the universe. In fact, we will all become Buddhas some day, whether we realize it or not. That is the purpose of doing prostrations or the bowing that you will see me and other Buddhists doing—it is to show respect to all the Buddhas who are our “role models,” the teachings or “dharma” that they have given us to help us on this journey of evolution to higher states of being, and the “Sangha” or those who are also on the path and have achieved a high level of realization and virtue–our brothers and sisters who can also help us on the path.
These three, the Buddha, the Dharma, and the Sangha are the ‘Three Jewels” of Buddhism. When we refer to the “Four Jewels” we are including the highly realized masters or gurus who in esoteric Buddhism may represent the other three jewels. These are what we take refuge in.
Perhaps, I should mention now the fact that the Buddha’s teachings have come to us in several forms. One is the “exoteric” aspect of Buddhism or that which is open and easily accessible to everyone who has the good fortune to hear it and the other is the “esoteric” or the secret aspect that is only available to those who have received special instructions and been initiated into certain secret practices. I will also talk more about the esoteric system later, because I want to introduce you to this path and how you can enter it.
Buddhas are supreme holy beings who possess unsurpassed perfection, omnipotence, and complete enlightenment. They are the most benevolent and magnificent teachers among all living beings. They can do anything. They know everything.
There are three types of Buddhas. A dharmakaya Buddha is boundless, formless, and unified with the dharma nature. They are sometimes referred to as the “mind” or wisdom of the Buddha or the “truth” of the Buddha.
A sambhogakaya Buddha is perfect and supremely dignified-looking, but not visible to most humans. That is the form that Buddhas take in the dharma realm. There are living beings that have reached the level of a bodhisattva who can see and communicate with the sambhogakaya Buddhas. Bodhisattvas are holy beings, some being at the same level or almost the same level as Buddhas, but who for various reasons are not assuming the form of Buddhas.
Nirmanakaya Buddhas can be found everywhere in all ten directions having undergone limitless transformations in order to save living beings. They can appear as a human, animal or even a bridge or tree or any inanimate object—anything that helps living beings.
That is what has happened. A very great Buddha, in fact the highest Buddha in the Universe—Dorje Chang Buddha, has taken human form as a nirmanakaya Buddha who is also a dharmakaya Buddha, just as was Shakyamuni Buddha, a nirmanakaya and dharmakaya Buddha who walked on this earth 2,500 years ago.
Now, who is Dorje Chang Buddha and why has He come to America?
In the beginning of beginningless time there was only the primordial Dharmakaya Buddha, sometimes referred to as the Adharma Buddha.
Everything was boundless and everything was silent.
All great world religions have this concept, but call it by different names. It can only be referred to as a concept since it is beyond our feeble ability to comprehend or understand it completely.
Some call it the Absolute or Universal Truth—which is expressed in Buddhism as infinite Wisdom and Compassion, while others refer to the Void, “All-That-Is, ” and so forth. I always liked the way some Native Americans referred to it as the Great Mystery.
In this book and many forms of Buddhist art, you will see the Dharmakaya Buddha represented by the red sun and the yellow crescent moon as a symbol for that which cannot be seen or heard.
The Dharmakaya or Adhama Buddha has no form. The Dharmakaya Buddha cannot speak or save living beings.
So, out of infinite love and compassion the samboghakaya form was manifested and that being was known as Dorje Chang Buddha or Buddha Vajradhara, the bright blue holy one shown dressed in elaborate silks and adorned with jewels.
It was Dorje Chang Buddha who began transmitting dharma and saving living beings in the dharma realm. The dharma realm is a place beyond the sufferings that we experience in this world, which we call samsara.
As a result of Dorje Chang Buddha coming into being, Buddhism was born and the Buddha-dharma began spreading. Without Dorje Chang Buddha there would be no Buddhism in the universe. That’s how important Dorje Chang Buddha is to us.
Dorje Chang Buddha was the master and teacher of all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. You will see in the lineage chart in the book that below Dorje Chang Buddha there are the five different colored Buddhas of the five directions plus Vajrasattva Mahasattva and the golden Buddha of our own era, Shakyamuni Buddha.
The book also shows three emanations of Dorje Chang Buddha radiating out in rainbows from the original, central form. On the left is Venerable Vimalakirti, a great layman who incarnated in this world to help Shakyamuni Buddha over 2,500 years ago. I suspect that some of you are familiar with His famous sutra where He performs all sorts of supernormal manifestations to convince Shakyamuni’s disciples of the true nature of reality and the power of the true Buddha-dharma.
Dorje Chanag Buddha has returned again as H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu who is shown on the right side of the lineage chart and who is the subject of the book that we have here. His mission is pretty much the same as it was 2,500 years ago—to show us the true nature of reality and the power of the true Buddha-dharma and to correct the evil and mistaken views that currently exist in the world and within Buddhism (for more on this see 128 Evil & Erroneous Views).
I want to note, that the incarnation of Dorje Chang Buddha is different from the incarnation of any other Buddha. Such an incarnation is a primordial manifestation of the existence of Buddha-dharma.
In each world of living beings, there can be at any one time only one incarnation of Dorje Chang Buddha, who manifests or expresses the existence of the true dharma. There will not be a second incarnation of Dorje Chang Buddha in the same age or era. Only after the first incarnation of Dorje Chang Buddha leaves this world can the second incarnation be born based on karmic conditions relating to the good fortune of living beings.
Immediately below Dorje Chang Buddha is Dipankara Buddha, sometimes referred to as the “Lamp Bearer Buddha” who was the master and teacher of Shakyamuni Buddha. Dipankara Buddha was also an emanation or manifestation of Dorje Chang Buddha, but in another world system—not on this earth.
Shakyamuni Buddha was first known as the prince Siddhartha Gautama from the Shakya clan in north-east India. This historic Buddha was the first Buddha to teach what we know as Buddhism in this world, but there were many Buddhas before him and many who will follow. The next Buddha, who will come after the teachings brought by Shakyamuni Buddha are gone, will be Maitreya Bodhisattva.
When Shakyamuni Buddha came to this world, He realized that living beings had different karmic conditions. It is said he taught 84,000 different methods to enable living beings of all sorts of capacities to advance on the path to Buddhahood. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has told us that Shakyamuni Buddha only taught 30% of the dharma that he had learned from Dipankara Buddha (or Dorje Chang Buddha) while he was living on his earth because that was what people were ready to receive at that time. Those open teachings given during the early years that Shakyamuni Buddha taught on this earth became known as the fundamental teachings (of the Lesser Vehicle). They are still held and practiced in the countries of Southeast Asia and by many temples and dharma centers here in America. This lineage became known as the “Lineage of the Elders” or the Theravada tradition. These are the excellent foundational teachings that all followers of the Buddhist path must understand and observe.
Shakyamuni Buddha, while He was on this earth, also taught to bodhisattvas and others certain, more advanced teachings, especially those on the nature of reality. Shakyamuni Buddha predicted that in another 500 or so years, great bodhisattvas would incarnate and bring those teachings to the people, many of whom would then be ready to receive them. This was the genesis of the Mahayana teachings and the foundation for the Zen, Pure Land, and other sects that evolved from the “Profound Lineage” of Nagarjuna. It was also the foundation for the Tendai, Fa-Hsiang, Hua-Yen, Nichiren, SGI and other sects that evolved from the “Method Lineage” of Asangha. Nagarjuna and Asangha learned these dharmas from Manjushri Bodhisattva and Maitreya Bodhisattva, who learned them from Shakyamuni Buddha, who, in turn, had learned them from Dorje Chang Buddha. All of these teachings—those in the Theravada tradition and in the openly taught part of the Mahayana tradition— formed the exoteric scriptures, or the Tripitaka although the Theravada version of the Tripitaka does not include the Mahayana scriptures.
But Shakyamuni Buddha also taught certain “secret” teachings as well. These were not well known. During the Buddha’s lifetime, He only taught these to His son, Rahula, in the earthly realm. He was the only one who had the merit and virtue to receive them. He also taught the Shambhala King Suchandra and his entourage a form of the Kalachakra dharma, a very advanced tantra. Just before the Buddha entered nirvana and left this world, He transmitted secret teachings to his cousin and trusted assistant Ananda. He instructed Ananda to teach them to Guru Padmasambhava, who incarnated shortly (8 years) after Shakyamuni Buddha left this world. These also became known as the esoteric teachings or tantra and formed the basis for even more sects within the secret Mahayana or what is often referred to as the Vajrayana tradition.
There were also holy beings who reached the level of realization whereby they were able to receive the secret Buddha-dharma directly from Dorje Chang Buddha. Master Tilopa, the great patriarch of the Karma Kagyu, and both Lady Niguma and Lady Sukasiddhi, the matriarchs of the Shangpa Kagyu, are examples.
These esoteric or tantric sects of the Vajrayana were all part of what became known as the “Practices and Blessings Lineage” as they depended upon certain secret practices like mudras, mantras, and visualizations and the blessings of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas that could only be transmitted directly from a guru to a disciple, often orally. The various tantric systems became known as the “Quick Path” because in some of the authentic lineages it is not difficult to obtain enlightenment in one lifetime. Although the transmission of dharma and lineage charts are very complex—much more complicated than indicated in the book—this still shows that all dharma—both exoteric and esoteric—originated with Dorje Chang Buddha.
Now, why did Dorje Chang Buddha come to America?
We are living in what is known as the “Dharma Ending Age” where we still have some of the teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, but there are few living now who have realized the power of these teachings and who can demonstrate the realization of a Buddha. Most of what is taught as Buddhism today is “about Buddhism” or the “study of Buddhism” and not the actual practice or power of Buddhism as experienced in earlier times.
The Sutra of the Golden Age states that the dharma will only exist in its pure form for 500 years after the passing of Shakyamuni Buddha. After that the dharma will exist as a shadow of its real self for another 1,500 years, which is what happened in India.
For all practical purposes, Buddhism had disappeared from India by the thirteenth century of this era. However, Buddhism was exported to other countries where it took root and flourished for much longer.
In China it lasted for many centuries and was exported to Korea, Japan, and Vietnam where it continued to develop. In Tibet it reached its highest form and flourished for over a thousand years and in Southeast Asia it is still a vital part of their culture, but even in these places it is rare to encounter someone who can exhibit the realization of a Buddha.
However, as Shakyamuni Buddha tells Subhuti in the Diamond-Cutter Sutra, when the dharma ending days come, great Holy Beings who possess morality, fine qualities, and wisdom will incarnate. In India there were the Six Jewels –Nagarjuna, Aryadeva, Asanga, Vasubandhu, Dignaga, and Dharmakirti—all holy beings who developed the texts that are still considered the core classic commentaries today in Mahayana Buddhism.
In Tibet there were the great Dharma Kings:Padmasambhava, Marpa, Sakya Pandita, Dolpopa, Longchenpa, Tsongkhapa, Tangtong Gyalpo, and others of the esoteric Vajrayana tradition.
In China there were the Zen patriarchs Bodhidharma and Hui Neng and others of the Mahayana tradition. Now, in America there is H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III.
Because we are living in the Dharma Ending Age, Dorje Chang Buddha has incarnated again to teach us the highest form of tantra—the Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation. H.H. Penor Rinpoche, the third person to serve as the head of the Nyingma Sect, told me last summer in Upstate New York that “because this is the Dharma Ending Age, it is good that such a high being (Dorje Chang Buddha) has incarnated.” He also said that such a being “should demonstrate many miracles (which, of course His Holiness has done as documented in the book).” H.H. Penor Rinpoche also told me that my master, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, was much higher than he was. Penor Rinpoche is one of the dharma kings who wrote a congratulatory letter recognizing Master Wan Ko Yi (Yee) as Dorje Chang Buddha III.
The fact that we are living in the Dharma Ending Age may explain why Dorje Chang Buddha came to this world now, but why is He living in America?
First I want to tell you of a prophecy that is often quoted in Buddhist circles. Guru Padmasambhava, an incarnated Buddha who brought Buddhism to Tibet in the 8th century, predicted that when “iron birds fly and horses run on wheels, the Tibetan people will be scattered like ants across the face of the earth and the teachings of the Buddha (dharma) will go to the land of the redman.”
Well, that time has come. We have seen increasing interest in Buddhism in America partly due to the diaspora of Buddhist leaders leaving Tibet and many settling in America, partly due to the tremendous immigration of people to the US from other Buddhist countries—especially Japan, China, and South-east Asia, and partly because of Americans who were searching for something more than their culture and traditions provided them, who went to Asia to find the path of the Buddha.
Just as Dorje Chang Buddha II incarnated 2,500 years ago to help Shakyamuni Buddha establish Buddhism in India, Dorje Chang Buddha III has come to America to help establish Buddhism in the West.
We know that between the time of Padmasambhava in the eighth century and Tsongkhapa 700 years later (1357-1419), the highest teachings were freely taught. Many did achieve enlightenment. For examples, records show that over 100,000 lineage holders at Kathok monastery and over 60,000 at Dzogchen monastery have attained the rainbow body and become Buddhas since those monasteries were established in the twelfth and seventeenth centuries. With this dharma it is possible for a person to transform his or her body into rainbow light after as little as two months of practice, but normally it takes twelve years or longer. The rainbow body phenomena is of interest to some Christian scholars who think it might explain the transformation of Jesus.
It was also during that period that many Indian monks fled India due to the invasion by foreign armies and sought to support themselves by doing the only thing they knew how to do—teaching dharma.
Some were qualified, some were not. There was a flowering of dharma, but also a corruption of dharma in Tibet at that time.
Since so many were practicing and teaching so many different dharmas, many received dharma inappropriately and, in turn, transmitted incorrect and erroneous teachings. We are in a similar position now in America. His Holiness Dorje Chang Buddha III came to correct these errors and to transmit new dharmas that are appropriate for this age. I will talk more on this later.
Now you may be wondering who recognized Master Wan Ko Yee as Dorje Chang Buddha and how did that recognition take place?
Several years ago, the Master Wan Ko Yee Cultural Institute organized several exhibitions of the accomplishments of Master Wan Ko Yee in both southern California and the San Francisco areas. After that, two publishing companies printed a draft manuscript of these and other accomplishments and sent it to the leading Buddhists in the world—dharma kings and great rinpoches of the major sects. That book contained over 30 categories of accomplishments that indicated Master Yee’s achievements in the five vidyas and His mastery of both exoteric and esoteric Buddhism.
So now you may also ask, “What is a vidya?” Good question, because most people—Westerners at least—no longer know what they are and the concept held by most Buddhists—among those who even know of the vidyas—is quite limited. Traditionally, the vidyas are divided into five major and five minor categories. The five major vidyas include craftsmanship, healing, sound, causality, and inner realization. The five minor vidyas are rhetoric, ornate diction, prosody, dramaturgy, and astronomy. A classic Buddhist education in India and later in Tibet would include training in all of these. Actually, it is as Venerable Akou Lamo Rinpoche said in the book: “… the Five Vidyas are not that narrow. Everything in the universe can be classified into five aspects of brightness and darkness. To develop everything that is good in the universe and that benefits living beings is classified as ‘bright.’ That which confuses and is bad is classified as ‘dark.’ This is the real meaning of the Five Vidyas of which the Buddha spoke.” The five vidyas are the manifestation of the powers and wisdoms of holy beings—they represent the realization of Buddhas and Bodhisattavas. They are the results of what holy beings do and they include everything in the universe that helps living beings.
So these accomplished Buddhist leaders looked at the evidence of what Master Wan Ko Yee had done in regards to craftsmanship—creating beauty and joy in the arts and the area of technology; They looked at what He had done in regards to healing—both humans and non-humans as well as fixing broken, inanimate objects; they looked at what He had done in regards to sound, both music and debate as well as all forms of communication; they looked at His understanding of cause and effect or Buddhist logic; and finally they looked at His level of inner realization as expressed through His demonstration of supernormal powers and the supernatural events that occurred in His presence. The later includes manifestations of beautiful rainbow “Buddha Lights” around the sun and moon or on the clouds after or while His Holiness expounded the dharma and having the Buddhas bestow nectar from the sky into a bowl in front of His disciples. [In June nectar manifested through trees in San Francisco around Hua Zang Si, after a formal ceremony was conducted to honor this book H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III and again on the following day just before the Dharma Propagation Team started this tour of the USA.] These same Buddhist leaders also investigated Master Wan Ko Yee’s understanding of the principles of exoteric and esoteric Buddhism as expressed in the Tripitaka and the tantras. Some determined on the spot that this had to be the work of a Buddha. No ordinary being could accomplish what was shown in that book. Other, more highly realized ones, actually went further and used their own supernormal powers to determine just who this magnificent holy one was by entering into a deep samadhi state and traveling to the dharma realms to investigate.
Even the Buddha Master’s closest disciples who were with Him almost every day did not know His true identity until quite recently. However, we always felt that no one else could compare with Him. In hindsight, we were given an incredible number of clues along the way. The fact that Master Wan Ko Yee had produced world-class art that was worth millions of dollars; created technological innovations that aided living beings but did not profit from His genius or accept any offerings Himself; cured many forms of illness; restored life to non-human beings; rescued human beings from the jaws of Yama (or death); and fixed inoperative or broken objects; as well as the other many holy occurrences or miracles that are documented in the book H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III was proof of His holy status. The publishers could find no other examples in history or among current Buddhists that would come close to this level of accomplishment.
The International Buddhism Sangha Association sponsored the first publication of this manuscript as the book you see here—H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, which also included the testimonials of some of those who read the original manuscript and their biographies. This book contains confirmation and congratulatory letters from the World’s most accomplished Buddhists including the heads of the Sakya and Jonang sects, Dodrupchen Rinpoche who is the main lineage holder of the Longchen Nyingthik lineage of the Nyingma sect, the Sharmapa of the Kagyu sect, the American Bishop of the Japanese Shingon sect, and many others, all of whom recognized Master Wan Ko Yee as H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III.