Recently, the Tibetan Buddhism Association of America requested answers and explanations from the Office of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III regarding the matter of a rinpoche recording and playing audio CDs. Because of the generality of this issue, we hereby forward to all organizations the reply of the Office of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III to the Tibetan Buddhism Association of America. In the future, any issue of a similar nature should be handled in the same manner.
Office of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III
June 16, 2010
Attachment (Reply of the Office of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III to the Tibetan Buddhism
Association of America):
Tibetan Buddhism Association of America:
In your letter, you asked for instructions about “a rinpoche who wanted to put the dharma discourses that he himself recorded together with the dharma discourses of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III for worshipping and requested that all such discourses have the same status.” This is a very pitiable and terrible idea and is conduct that totally disregards the rules, disciplines, and etiquette of Buddhism, lacks morality, and violates Buddhist doctrine. Without mentioning the status of his level of enlightenment, let’s just examine him in terms of the five vidyas. In how many vidyas has such a person attained world-class level? Why doesn’t he stand on the same status by demonstrating his abilities in the five vidyas?
First of all, except for Buddhas, Equal Enlightenment Bodhisattvas, and Marvelous Enlightenment Bodhisattvas, lectures by any Bodhisattva or rinpoche cannot be regarded as dharma discourses. They are only commentaries and discussions, which means that they are subject to deliberation. The audio CDs recorded by that rinpoche cannot be formally called dharma discourses because they have not been personally reviewed and approved by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. It is inevitable that the translation contains numerous and various mistakes. In addition, because the contents of those CDs are read by a rinpoche (that category includes dharma kings, venerable ones, dharma masters, and so on), there is absolutely no justification for placing such CDs on the Buddha’s dharma rostrum.
Rinpoches are classified into many levels. They can be roughly divided into those who possess holy realization and those who do not possess holy realization. Those who possess holy realization can be classified into one of three levels, and those three levels can be divided into six categories of master’s qualifications. Among these three levels, the highest level is a master at the Highest Level of Holy Realization. The second level is a master at the Middle Level of Holy Realization. And the third level is a master at the Beginning Level of Holy Realization. Below these levels there are masters who do not possess holy realization, including greatly virtuous ones and kind knowledgeable ones. Furthermore, there are greatly holy and virtuous ones and holy virtuous ones who do not belong to these three levels of master’s qualifications. These are holy ones who possess holy realization but do not necessarily possess the qualifications of a master at the Middle Level of Holy Realization (a Bodhisattva on or above the eighth stage) or a master at the Beginning Level of Holy Realization (a Bodhisattva below the eighth stage or an Arhat) and absolutely do not possess the qualifications of a master at the Highest Level of Holy Realization (a Buddha, Equal Enlightenment Bodhisattva, Marvelous Enlightenment Bodhisattva, or Mahasattva).
Even if a master possesses the qualifications of one at the Highest Level of Holy Realization (a Buddha, Equal Enlightenment Bodhisattva, Marvelous Enlightenment Bodhisattva, or Mahasattva), as long as he does not possesses the holy realization of a Buddha, or simply put, if this master is not a manifestation of a Buddha but is merely an Equal Enlightenment or Marvelous Enlightenment Bodhisattva, he still is not qualified to put his dharma lessons at the position of a Buddha. Similarly, a great Mahasattva is not qualified to put his commentaries and discussions at the position of an Equal Enlightenment or Marvelous Enlightenment Bodhisattva. Likewise, no matter how high a great Bodhisattva’s status is, he still is not qualified to establish his dharma seat at the same height as that of Sakyamuni Buddha and sit at the Buddha’s level. One can easily deduce from this that regardless of whether one is a rinpoche, dharma king, venerable one, or dharma master, the placement of, the worshipping of, and the making of offerings to their explanations, commentaries, discussions, or formal expositions on dharma should all be based upon which of the three levels this master’s qualifications belong. A disciple who does not know this rule is harboring evil views. If a master does not know this rule, he is an evil master who is actually an unbridled monster bringing chaos to the world and whom nobody should take refuge in and rely upon.
The English audio CD mentioned in the letter from your association was recorded by one rinpoche. It was a translation by another rinpoche of a dharma discourse given by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. However, its contents have not been examined and approved by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. Mistakes definitely exist in the translation. In addition, that rinpoche who did the recording was just playing the role of a broadcaster or announcer when reading aloud from the transcript. However, for the purpose of providing some benefits to people, this rinpoche can play for others the audio recordings produced by him in which he plays the role of a broadcaster. An audio CD containing the voice of a rinpoche should be respectfully placed on the dharma rostrum of the dharma seat of that rinpoche.
Such disposition is not limited to English translations. Translations of dharma discourses given by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III into any language, including Tibetan, Thai, Vietnamese, Filipino, French, German, Japanese and others, and even the original written transcript of such discourses in Chinese, are certain to contain mistakes as long as they have not been personally examined and approved by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. If a translation or transcript contains even one or two sentences that convey the wrong meaning, such translation or transcript cannot represent a dharma discourse given by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III.
In the future, correct translations that have been personally examined and approved by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III will be labeled with the words “Already examined and approved by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III.” Such translations will not be read by any rinpoches or dharma masters. Rather, they will be read by professional announcers who have the standard pronunciation and then made into audio CDs for distribution to the whole world for people to listen to respectfully. Such up-to-standard dharma discourses read by professional broadcasters should be placed on the dharma rostrum of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III and be treated in the same way as the original dharma discourses of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III.
Therefore, when any rinpoche, dharma king, venerable one or dharma master as well as any organization, temple, Buddhist center or dharma-listening center encounters this type of situation, they should handle it according to the above-described principles. Otherwise, they are people who do not understand Buddha-dharma, who do not understand the precepts, disciplines and sutra teachings, and who possess evil views. Such people are not masters or role models for others and, instead, are simply traitors bringing shame to the Buddha. If they do not correct themselves and repent, followers of Buddhism should not take refuge in, rely upon, and learn from them.
Everything stated above is to benefit living beings so they can acquire correct understanding and views.
Office of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III
June 16, 2010 (Revised July 15, 2011)