Dorje Chang Buddha III told us in a discourse entitled “What Is My Sect?” that He practices the true Buddha-dharma of all the legitimate sects of Buddhism whether they represent the Theravada, Mahayana, or Vajrayana systems. This includes the Pure Land Schools that chant the name of Amitabha Buddha, the Vinaya School that emphasizes the precepts and disciplines, the various Zen sects that stress meditation, or the shamatha and vipashyana meditation of the Theravada schools as well as the practices of the Fa-Hsiang, Consciousness-only and other schools of exoteric Buddhism and the various dharmas of the esoteric or secret traditions. He said, ” If they are not part of my sect, Shakyamuni would not have spread such Buddha-dharma in this world. If only one sect could be relied upon to save living beings, then that one sect would be taught. That would avoid much hard work on the part of living beings. Right? Living beings are very pitiable. They must worry about food, clothing, housing, and transportation. They are tossed about on the sea of birth, death, and suffering. Why would we cause them any extra hard work? Thus, all of those schools are all part of my sect.”
His Holiness went on to explain that there was only one thing that is not part of the Buddha Sect and that is what belongs to evil or heretical ways–practices not taught by Shakyamuni Buddha or included in the Tripitaka or esoteric teachings. Dorje Chang Buddha III belongs to the sect of all vehicles– or the school of enlightenment and liberation.
His Holiness further told us that “Still, no matter what the sect may be, we do not dismiss it. Remember, Buddhist sects must not be lessened. If Buddhist sects decrease in number, then living beings will not be able to correspond with them. Do you understand? That is because each living being has his or her own karmic conditions. Therefore, all of you greatly virtuous ones, whether you are of the Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, Geluk, Jonang, . . . Pure Land, Zen, exoteric or esoteric school, each of you should diligently establish the teachings and precepts of your school and carry out the teachings of the Buddha. The more you develop your sect or school the better. I will support you. Additionally, I will perform initiations for and transmit dharma to those disciples of yours who cultivate themselves well. I will do this for those disciples of yours who practice well. I certainly do not have a mind that discriminates. Bear in mind that it is my duty to help that which is Buddhism.” Anything that involves the true Buddha-dharma of which Shakyamuni Buddha spoke is the Buddha-dharma of Dorje Chang Buddha.
In this discourse Dorje Chang III taught us two most important points that must be emphasized: “The goal of learning Buddhism is actually learning the subject of cause and effect and using cause and effect to change your own karmic forces all the way up to the time you become liberated and realize the supreme enlightenment.” Anything else is not Buddhism. Why did Shakyamuni Buddha teach the 84,00 dharma methods? Why not just teach the supreme or highest or quickest method? It was because He was a Buddha and deeply understood the relationship between the karma (cause and effect) of individuals and the cycle of reincarnation. He knew that each living being had his own karma that had evolved since beginning-less time and that there was a particular Buddha-dharma that would best correspond with that individual.
Dorje Chang Buddha III told us that the “. . . Mahayana, Theravada, Vajrayana, exoteric Buddhism, and esoteric Buddhism are all absolutely indispensable. They equally correspond to different living beings based on the karmic affinity and innate faculties of the particular living being.”
“What is the function of the Buddha-dharma? It is to liberate and save living beings. How are living beings liberated and saved? They are liberated and saved by adjusting and changing their karma, or their causes and effects. Living beings are saved in this way.” This is the reason that we stress cultivation and understanding the principles of cultivation and this is the reason that it is extremely absurd and wrong to insist that everyone can become liberated through practicing a particular dharma or the teachings of a particular sect.
This does not mean that the teachings of a particular sect are wrong, only that they cannot be exclusively right, either–not for everyone. That is the danger of sectarianism and one of the great destructive forces that was pervasive in Tibet as well as other parts of the Buddhist world. The great non-sectarian thinkers in Tibet of recent times were not trying to create a “Master sect” of only the best of each sect, but trying to preserve the diversity and richness of what had evolved in all the lineages, some of which were on the brink of extinction so that the myriad of types of individuals with as varied sets of karmic conditions could find a path that was right for them. Dorje Pa Mu often talked of the “different birds in the forest” in reference to this diversity of karmic affinity and conditions in people. It is because of all these “different birds” that Shakyamuni Buddha taught so many dharma methods and so many different sects evolved based on these methods. It is as H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III said, ” Everything is the dharma of correspondence, the dharma of cause and effect.” However, a living being can only obtain liberation by relying upon his or her own cultivation. “Only when a living being corresponds to a particular dharma of a certain school within the Mahayana, Theravada, or Vajrayana can that living being attain success in accordance with the dharma.”
It must be stressed that H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III does not belong to any sect. He represents the totality of Buddhism. After all, a sect is defined as “a religious group with beliefs and practices at variance with those of a more established main group” or “a small close-knit group with strongly held views that are sometimes regarded as extreme by the majority” and neither of these definitions are appropriate. Therefore, the term “Buddha School” will be used to describe those who follow the teachings of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III.
This discourse provides the underlying principles upon which the Buddha School is based. The highest and best dharma is the one that you can and WILL practice–the one for which you have an appropriate karmic affinity based on your unique karma. It is important to be sure it is based on the holy teachings of Shakyamuni Buddha, but it is as the Buddhist nun Pema Chodron said, you “start where you are.” Not everybody is ready to do the highest tantric practices, but everyone can and should begin to practice “What Is Cultivation?” as a guide, no matter what vehicle, sect, or school they follow.
The essence of this page is taken from a discourse entitled “What Is My Sect?” given by Dorje Chang Buddha III at Hua Zang Si in San Francisco during September 2007 and other sources. The discourse “What Is Cultivation?” is available in the book H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III and also on this web-site. Zhaxi Zhuoma Rinpoche is also a member of the Buddha School. She established the Xuanfa Institute , the Xuanfa Five Vidyas University, and the Holy Vajrasana Temple and Retreat Center to propagate the dharma of all legimate Buddhist sects so that all types of living beings may be liberated from the suffering of worldly existence.