by Zhaxi Zhuoma Rinpoche
Part I was an overview of just who Dorje Chang Buddha is, how He is important to all sects of Buddhism, and how Master Wan Ko Yee was recognized as an incarnation of Dorje Chang Buddha. It is also important to note that all the various sects that follow the authentic teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha—be they Lessor Vehicle, Mahayana, or the tantric Vajrayana—are important and legitimate paths within Buddhism. It is as Pema Chodron, the nun and resident teacher at Gampo Abbey in Nova Scotia, says in the title of her popular book, you Start Where You Are. We are all at different places with different karmic affinities for the dharma.
For the second part of this presentation, I want to briefly summarize the teachings that H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III brings to us and how you can enter the esoteric dharma.
The book H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III provides testimonials from disciples who have received different forms of initiation and empowerment. This includes the “Xian Liang Great Perfection Dharma,” from the Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation, that can enable the recipient to achieve the rainbow body state within two hours. There are other very special dharmas that are either new to this world or have not been practiced here for a very long time including various dharmas to help expiate negative karma and to have the Buddhas bestow nectar. Nectar is a magical substance that comes from the dharma realms that is used in various higher initiations. You can see pictures of some of the forms of nectar in this and other books about His Holiness.
Although there are teachings throughout this book, the main introductory dharma can be found in the discourse “What Is Cultivation?” and it is on how you can enter that dharma that I want to focus the rest of this talk.
Before I do that there is one more point that I want to make. There are many dharma teachers, venerable ones, and rinpoches who are not happy about the publishing of this book or the teachings of His Holiness. I believe they feel very threatened by this book. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has given some very specific guidelines concerning who has the true Buddha-dharma and warns those who want to quickly progress on this path to be careful. There are many false teachers. There are many who do not have an authentic lineage to pass on that will help living beings and many who do not hold correct views. Even some who do posses authentic lineages from true masters, may not have achieved any level of realization that can validate their accomplishments. This is true for rinpoches and venerable ones as well as lamas and dharma teachers. There are many so-called masters who exploit their followers and receive offerings who do not have the authority to do so and are not able to perform or facilitate true inner tantric initiations. As an aside, I think it is very important that His Holiness has made a point of not accepting offerings from his students. It is His Holiness who supports many of us disciples so we have the freedom to practice the dharma, and not the reverse.
I want to stress however that one does not have to receive inner tantric initiation to progress. One can cultivate oneself in accordance with the dharma you will find in this book and other authentic books including the Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation and make great progress. We have the 84,000 methods of the Lessor Vehicle, Mahayana, and Vajrayana traditions and even certain of the practices of other religions to meet the karmic conditions of living beings. However, to achieve enlightenment in this lifetime you do need to receive true inner tantric initiation and you need an authentic vajra master. We must be careful in this “Dharma-ending Age.” That is the reason and the only reason that we have put so much attention on supernormal powers. They are an indication of your progress on the path—and of the level of realization of your teacher. No powers, no progress. Pretty simple? They are a way to check your self-cultivation and to find a true vajra master.
Now, I will focus on how one enters the esoteric dharma. It can be seen as four distinct phases or steps. They need to be followed in the proper sequence.
PHASE I: Find and become a disciple of an authentic, competent vajra master, whether it be a monk or nun, a virtuous layperson, a lama, a rinpoche, or a dharma king.
The vajra master teaches the tantra and confers tantric initiations. Your vajra master is the master who transmits the Buddha-dharma to you and initiates you in the Buddha-dharma. The disciple follows the teaching of this master in the practice of the disciple’s yidam. A yidam is the tantric practitioner’s personal or main deity—either in a peaceful or wrathful form—who corresponds to the practitioner’s karma. The vajra master also teaches and transmits the doctrines of exoteric Buddhism. Very high-level vajra masters have acquired liberation from the cycle of birth and death and have already obtained the dharmakaya themselves.
A disciple may take refuge with any vajra master who can meet the following qualifications and who can enable the disciple to receive the appropriate inner-tantric initiations when the disciple is ready to receive them.
At a minimum, any master must have very high moral achievement; must understand the meaning of the Buddha’s teachings and have command of the sutras and tantras; must be conversant in the five vidyas; must be able to continue a dharma lineage by having sufficient merit to disseminate the Buddha-dharma to liberate all sentient beings; and must have received some form of certification from someone who possesses the qualifications to bestow it. A vajra master must also have the other four virtues of always obeying his or her master’s orders; not violating any of the esoteric or exoteric precepts; expounding the correct dharma; and, most importantly, having equal compassion for all believers, never giving up on them, and loving everyone—even his or her enemies. In addition, vajra masters should diligently practice the principles explained in “What Is Cultivation?,” perfect the six paramitas, and be able to manifest at least two of the five vidyas. They must also have the approval of their own vajra master to enter a mandala and perform empowerments and initiations for disciples. You can count on following such masters to reach liberation.
PHASE II: Read, listen to, understand, and practice “What Is Cultivation?” and develop the eight fundamental right views. This will enable you to have sufficient merit to receive esoteric teachings. You continue to practice these eight after you receive the esoteric teachings of tantra.
The first three fundamental right views consists of understanding the reasons for practicing any form of Buddhism and need to be understood prior to taking refuge.
1-Realize and fear impermanence (death and reincarnation).
2-Develop firm belief in the sufferings of samsara (Four Noble Truths, six realms of samsara).
3-Develop renunciation (a mind determined to leave samsara, but does not mean you must shave your head or become a nun or monk).
4-Take refuge in either the Three Jewels or Four Jewels that I talked about earlier. Make true vows.
5-Maintain diligence, study the exoteric or open teachings of the Buddha as taught in the Tripitaka and in the books and discourses by H. H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Wan Ko Yeshe Norbu and Female Dharma King Dorje Pa Mu and practice the Four Unlimited States of Mind, the Ten Virtues or Good Characteristics, the Six Paramitas, and the Four All-Embracing Bodhisattva Virtues, thereby cutting off the bad karma of greed, hatred, and ignorance.
6-Obey all the precepts. If you violate the sacred precepts, you cannot become enlightened in this lifetime.
7-Develop concentration by maintaining steadfastness and immovability, by not being attached to either joy or sorrow or any other emotional state (the eight winds), and by building dharma wisdom. Wisdom, per se, cannot be taught. It is the result of keeping the precepts and developing concentration and cultivation in order to eliminate karmic obstacles.
8- Generate bodhichitta. “What is Cultivation?” provides two sets of seven branches for developing bodhichitta:
Great Compassion for My Mother Bodhicitta Dharma
- Understanding who my mother is
- Bearing in mind kindness
- Repaying kindness
- Renouncing greed
- Eliminating attachment
Bodhisattva Correspondence Bodhicitta Dharma
- Self and others are equal bodhicitta
- Exchange between self and others bodhicitta
- Benefit others before self bodhicitta
- Dedicating merit bodhicitta
- Fearlessly protect the dharma bodhicitta
- Effectively lead others to correct practice bodhicitta
- Renouncing myself to help others build good karma bodhicitta
If during your practice you have wrong behavior, you will have problems. You must check yourself as you cultivate yourself. No one else will check you. You must develop a conscience that monitors your own behavior. You need to regain the ability to hear that inner voice that tells you what to do. The Chinese word that is used for “cultivation” is xiuxing (hseeowe-hsing/show-shing). It means to examine one’s conscience and seek perfection. That is the concept, but there is no equivalent word in English that I can find. Cultivation isn’t quite right, but it is the closest term we have found, so we continue to use it. Your progress on this path and your “accomplishments” will be your proof of correct xiuxing (cultivation). No accomplishments only means you don’t have it right. This is not something that you can blame on anyone else—not your parents, your guru, some higher power, etc. You have to accept responsibility for your evolution, knowing that there are higher beings who will help you if you are moving in the proper direction. This is, after all, the “Practices and Blessings Lineage.”
How do you know what the proper direction is? You listen to discourses and read books by genuine dharma kings and great rinpoches and observe the causes and effects of your actions. You may even find that the Buddha Master or other holy beings will come to you to bless and teach you. I have several students who have been “visited” by the Buddha Master on several occasions.
PHASE III: After you have found a Vajra Master and cultivated yourself according to the principles contained in the discourse “What Is Cultivation?” you will need to perform the necessary “Preliminary Practices” of esoteric Buddhism and study and practice the other required esoteric texts as determined by your vajra master. You may also receive certain initiations and empowerments to eliminate negative karmic obstructions and plant the karmic seeds to accelerate your progression. You may also receive “Good Fortune” dharma to help you develop the resources you need to pursue this path.
PHASE IV: Request and receive initiations and empowerments so that you will be able to practice tantra, become enlightened, and attain liberation from the cycle of birth and death. Normally, a vajra master will observe a disciple for six to twelve years before teaching tantra in order to determine the disciple’s karmic affinity to receive the dharma—his or her level of cultivation, devotion, determination, and loyalty as well as where the disciple puts benefiting living beings. The generation of bodhichitta is absolutely essential to be able to successfully practice tantra.
Most practitioners follow the above program step by step. There are special cases where this approach does not apply. Some people may have learned these lessons and perfected these practices in a previous life, or they may have received a special dispensation from their vajra master due to special karmic conditions. The guru can only give this dispensation if he or she has the permission of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, and that can only happen through the inner-tantric initiation process. A vajra master who is not authorized to give inner-tantric initiations cannot grant these dispensations.
This summarizes the steps that need to be followed on the Quick Path to Enlightenment. It is indeed unfortunate that in America there are many who collect rinpoches and empowerments like baseball cards. It is rare to find someone who really wants to practice dharma and cultivate him or herself. This was true in Tibet as well. The Kadampas of old reported that everyone was talking about their intricate mudras or chanting fancy mantras or doing elaborate visualizations, but no one was actually practicing the dharma of cultivating themselves.
Most of us would rather focus on someone else’s cultivation. I believe that Jesus’s admonishment to “cast out the mote in your own eye” applies to Buddhists as well. His Holiness clearly tells us that accomplishment in all dharmas depends on self-cultivation and the generation of bodhichitta. Learning mantras and mudras and fancy visualizations will not help much if one does not understand or practice the basics.
I’d like to end with some events that have happened in the past year since this book was first drafted. His Holiness has started to transmit the Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation Dharma to some of His most advanced students. One rinpoche has demonstrated the Tummo Samadhi Dharma whereby he could raise his body temperature to almost 200 degrees, thus being able to burn away his negative karma and also eliminate the negative karma of others. Several other disciples had their crowns opened and were able to achieve the Vajra Substitution Body Meditation, thus being able to visit other realms and places. There is also an article written by Zhaxi Zhuoma Rinpoche on the Ni-Wan dharma, a dharma that can enable believers of any faith to have their crowns open so as to ascend to the paradise of their choice. There are DVDs of these events using modern heat-sensing equipment and MRI scans to document them. You should try and see them. These are all dharmas that can enable the practitioner to quickly obtain the rainbow body state. They are all part of the book The Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation. Included in this book are 128 evil and mistaken views that the Buddha points out to us that will correct many of the erroneous beliefs and practices that exist in Buddhism today.
Zhaxi Zhuoma Rinpoche
July 10, 2008
Revised August 28, 2009
Revised February 13, 2011