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In this post I would like to tell why I am following H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III as a Western disciple from Germany. I will take you on my journey and share my first-hand experiences. You can also listen to this blog post.

I came into contact with the Chinese classic “The Journey to the West” from the 16th century for the first time during my stay in China in 2004. Almost every child there knew the adventures of Sun Wukong, the high-spirited Monkey King, who sets off from China to the West with his master, the Monk Xuanzang, and his disciples, the Pig Bajie and the Sand Monk, in search of the Buddha Dharma.

I too ended up travelling to the West, namely from Germany to California, in search of the true Buddha Dharma. It was a long journey, both geographically and spiritually. And just as the Monk Xuanzang and his companions were successful in the end and found what they were looking for, I also found what I was looking for: clarity about the path and the practice of Buddhist cultivation.

My first experiences with H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III

I gained this clarity mainly through studying the Buddha Dharma as imparted in the Dharma discourses of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. The first time I came across one of these Dharma discourses was on the internet. It was the discourse “What is Cultivation?”. There, H.H. the Buddha explains what Buddhist self-cultivation is. Until then, I had heard or read little about it. Of course, as a Buddhist, I knew that I should abide by the moral principles, such as those contained in the five precepts, that is, not to kill, not to lie, not to steal and so on. And I also read in the Mahayana sutras what it means to become a Bodhisattva. But in the end, much of what was in the sutras or the commentaries of the old masters remained quite abstract, and I didn’t always have a clear idea of what these things really meant or how I should put them into practice. That’s why I found the Dharma discourse “What is Cultivation?” to be very different: it was clear and understandable because the Buddhist concepts were formulated in everyday language. Above all, I realised the order in which certain things need to be done to achieve real and lasting results. Although I was a little confused at first because the person who gave this Dharma discourse was called a Buddha, I was so impressed by the content of the discourse that I wanted to find out more about H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III.

So I later came across the website of Zhaxi Zhuoma, who was a close disciple of His Holiness the Buddha. We exchanged many e-mails and at some point I realised that I had to meet her in person. So I finally made my way to California. Zhaxi Zhuoma lives in Sanger, near Fresno, on a site that is now the Holy Vajrasana Temple. There, together with some other people that were interested, I had the opportunity to listen to audio recordings of preliminary English translations of various Dharma discourses by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. I still remember very well that what I heard and learnt in that short time surpassed anything I had learnt in the years before through my own study of Buddhism.

A short personal anecdote

At this point, I would like to share a little anecdote:

Fahrt nach LA
Driving on Interstate 5 near Grapevine on the way from Sanger to Los Angeles

Zhaxi Zhuoma had to go to Pasadena near Los Angeles during my visit to attend an important event with H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. She thought it would be a good idea for me to accompany her. That way we could use the four-hour car drive to get to know each other better. The meeting shouldn’t take too long so that we could be back in Sanger late in the evening. She couldn’t take me directly to His Holiness, but she would drop me off in Pasadena and pick me up later. And so we set off.

We had a lovely trip and talked a lot. Later, I spent the sunny day in Pasadena, read a book on tantric Buddhism in the park that I had bought at the Temple Hua Zang Si in San Francisco, and waited to be picked up by Zhaxi Zhuoma. She arrived in the late afternoon and we made our way back. On the way, she explained to me that she had left the location earlier because she didn’t want to leave me here. So we had just left Los Angeles and its traffic chaos behind us when the phone rang and she was told she had to come back. So we turned round. As it was already late, she didn’t know if we would make it back to Sanger or if we would have to get a room. She dropped me off at a Starbucks and a supermarket and promised to come back soon after explaining the situation to her master, H.H. the Buddha.

Park in Pasadena
Park in Pasadena

The hours passed, it was already dark and the Starbucks was closing. I was sitting on a wall outside and a homeless man joined me. We talked for a while when Zhaxi Zhuoma suddenly appeared at the parking space. I was very happy that she had come and jumped into the car. When I already sat in the car, the man called after me. I had left my mobile phone on the wall and he brought it to me, which I thought was really kind of him. I remember that although the situation ended up being a little chaotic, I never felt like I was going to get into trouble. At night on that car parking in a city I didn’t know yet, I actually didn’t feel uncomfortable.

Back in the car, Zhaxi Zhuoma told me what had happened. As a translator was not there right away, she could not explain to His Holiness the Buddha why she had to leave. When He understood that she had dropped me off at a parking lot somewhere in Pasadena and that there were other people in Sanger waiting for our return, she was told to leave immediately. Before that, His Holiness gave her a certain number of Vajra Pills for us, one for each of us. These pills are made from real nectar given by the Buddhas in special inner tantric Dharma rituals and therefore have great powers.

My mother was very ill after a long history of suffering. Her condition was already very poor at the time. During a medical emergency, she had a cut in her air tube, which made her unable to speak. She was also so weak that she could no longer stand up and had to be cared for in a nursing home. I asked Zhaxi Zhuoma if I could give my mother the Vajra Pill I had received. She said yes, but also told me that the effect of the pill might not be visible in this lifetime, but my mum could definitely benefit from it.

Statue des Medizin-Buddha
Statue of the Medicine Buddha next to my mother’s nursing bed

When I was back in Germany, I gave my mum this pill. I also brought her a small statue of the Medicine Buddha. When she saw the Buddha statue, she started to cry and pressed the Buddha tightly to her body. I was very touched and also a little surprised. My parents were not overly religious and had never had anything to do with Buddhism in their lives. I told her to try to remember the name of Amitabha Buddha. Two months later she died as a result of her illness.

We were all very sad that she couldn’t be with us for our wedding, which took place a few weeks later. On the Honeymoon, however, I had a remarkable dream one night, and I can still remember the details of it today. In this dream vision, I was busy preparing for the wedding. There were many people around me, all helping, when suddenly my mother stood in front of me. I was very surprised that she was able to walk again. Her face looked very relaxed. She turned to me and said: “Alex, I just came back to tell you that I now understand that I have to learn the Buddha Dharma.” Then she disappeared again.

The Dharma teachings of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III

On my spiritual journey, the Dharma teachings of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III have deeply impressed and transformed me. In the many years that H.H. the Buddha tirelessly imparted the Dharma, He left us over 2,000 audio recordings of His Dharma teachings and many Dharma books. These include works such as “A Monk Explains the Absolute Truth to a Layman”, “Learning from Buddha” and “The Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation”.

What makes these discourses so special is their focus on the essence. In contrast to the sutras and the classical commentaries of the old masters, they are written in a language that is easy to understand and suited to our modern lives. They are practical and directly applicable, comprehensive in their entirety and deal with all topics relevant to Buddhism. Special emphasis is placed on Buddhist self-cultivation, but also on concepts such as emptiness, which are essential for the realization of transcendental wisdom – prajna. The teachings are aimed at both beginners and advanced practitioners, whereby deeper and more advanced concepts are also imparted.

Personally, these teachings have helped me to understand many Buddhist concepts such as karma, impermanence and suffering, the meaning of the Buddha Dharma, esoteric Buddhism or Tantra and the meaning of supernatural powers. An important lesson that H.H. the Buddha taught me is that Buddhism is not about learning techniques, but that self-cultivation and learning and doing Dharma practice must go hand in hand to make real progress on our path.

Stamped first edition of “Imparting the Absolute Truth Through the Heart Sutra” on the main altar of the Xuanfa Dharmazentrum

An outstanding example of the Dharma teachings of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III is the book “Imparting the Absolute Truth Through the Heart Sutra”. It was published in Chinese in 2014 and is based on a series of important Dharma talks given in China in 1992. It uses the text, the meaning and the principles of the Heart Sutra to teach Dharma. It clearly presents the relationship between mind, Buddha and living beings and reveals the absolute truth of Buddha Dharma and liberation.

I had the good fortune to attend the Great Dharma Assembly 2014 in Hong Kong when the book was published and to participate in the procession that honored and praised the Dharma book. More than 28,000 Buddhist organizations from around the world participated. Although the book has only been published in Chinese so far, I was able to read the preliminary English translation at Holy Vajrasana Temple in Sanger. Every time I traveled to California, I used every spare minute late into the night to read and study “Imparting the Absolute Truth Through the Heart Sutra”. This extensive work reveals word by word the true meaning of the Heart Sutra and is a guide on how we can realize prajna and attain enlightenment. It is truly my greatest wish that others will also have access to this Dharma treasure soon.

To emphasize the importance of this holy book, we should remember that His Holiness the Buddha said to us just before He left this world: “At all times, we must think about bringing auspiciousness, serenity, happiness, and peace to living beings and to the world, to the extent of giving our all and even our lives. I have already brought true Buddha Dharma to this world. Everyone who practices in accordance with ‘The Supreme and Unsurpassable Mahamudra of Liberation’ and ‘Imparting the Absolute Truth Through the Heart Sutra’ will surely attain liberation.”

Personal meetings with H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III

As a disciple of Zhaxi Zhuoma, I had the opportunity to meet H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III in person several times. Zhaxi Zhuoma, herself an entrusted disciple of H.H. the Buddha, arranged meetings during my visits to California whenever possible. His Holiness always made time for us who did not speak Chinese. However, sometimes it was a challenge to have someone with us who could translate for us. At these meetings we were able to ask questions, receive Dharma teachings and even Dharma transmissions directly from H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III.

H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III was aware that the situation is more difficult for us non-Chinese speakers because we cannot use all sources, such as recorded Dharma discourses or Dharma books, directly because most of them are in Chinese. The translation process of these texts is very difficult and time-consuming, as the translators not only need to have a very good understanding of Chinese and English, but also need to have reached a certain level of realization in order to be able to translate the actual meaning.

Something that particularly impressed me was the fact that H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III did not accept any offerings or gifts from disciples. Although it is usual to support one’s master in this way and at the same time accumulate merit through this act, H.H. the Buddha never accepted anything in any of our meetings. Instead, He encouraged us to donate our offerings to one of the many Buddhist organizations or other good causes.

Through my personal encounters, I was able to directly experience the high moral standard of His Holiness. He constantly reminded us that we really need to cultivate ourselves, especially in situations where people are against us.

H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III himself has demonstrated this impressively time and time again, and I would like to take this opportunity to briefly discuss a case that has made headlines in the past:

H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III was persecuted by some people in the Chinese state security system because of His propagation of Buddhism and His commitment to justice and morality. After coming to the USA in August 1999 and settling there, He was falsely accused of fraud in China, even though He was not in China at the time. In addition, His house was bulldozed, over 700 works of art were stolen and some of His students were unjustly arrested.

These false accusations led China to request a “Red Notice” from INTERPOL. However, after thorough investigation, INTERPOL determined that the accusations were groundless and revoked them, with the decision officially made at the 72nd meeting of the INTERPOL Files Control Commission in France. China withdrew the arrest warrant after it was determined that H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III had not committed any fraud or crime. INTERPOL confirmed the withdrawal of the arrest warrant and informed its member states accordingly.

Despite all these events, some parties continued to disseminate the revoked arrest warrants on the Internet, misleading the public. Moreover, the alleged victims have publicly confirmed that they were not deceived by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III.

However, all these happenings did not impress H.H. the Buddha. Instead, He repeatedly reminded us not to hate even those who wish us harm. After the whole matter was cleared up by the authorities, His Holiness did not want to take action against the slanderers to restore His reputation. However, the World Buddhism Association Headquarters wanted to draw public attention to the matter on its own initiative and published a statement in the Washington Times, in which the letter from INTERPOL was also shown.

Through my personal encounters with H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, I was also able to experience for myself how great the true Buddha-Dharma is and what one can accomplish through correct self-cultivation and practice of the Buddha-Dharma. Even though H.H. the Buddha has said time and again that supernatural powers are not something we should strive for, they are the proof of whether someone has realized true attainments of the Buddha Dharma or whether that person is just a scholar who is good at lecturing on Buddhist concepts but has not attained any realization. There are many examples of long-time disciples of H.H. the Buddha who have attained very high realizations and are able to manifest various Dharma powers. I will discuss these examples in a separate blog post.

Holy Miracles Temple
Great Hall of Shakyamuni Buddha, Holy Miracles Temple in Pasadena, California

During my last personal meeting with H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III at the Holy Miracles Temple in Pasadena in November 2021, I asked H.H. the Buddha how I could make it clear to the people in my home country what the true Buddha Dharma is, that is the Dharma that is really capable of liberating people from samsara and is not just Buddhist theory.

His Holiness the Buddha answered me that this is not possible. Only through our own realization will we be able to convey this to others so that we can be a role model.

Why I follow H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III

The facts about H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, such as the large number of recognitions from high Buddhist authorities, His impressive mastery of the Five Vidyas and His tireless work of helping other beings, may seem unfathomable to outsiders and even unbelievable to critics. For me, however, they are part of a very real experience.

Of course, at first I didn’t understand what it meant that His Holiness was called a Buddha. But instead of focusing on titles and recognitions, I focused on the essence of what H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III represented and lived. And what I found was far more impressive than any formal recognition: a teaching and a model that had a deep and concrete impact on my life.

H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III himself always spoke humble about Himself and His recognition and clearly stated: “Although the title of Buddha has been officially confirmed in my name, the name Dorje Chang Buddha III means nothing to me. I am not a Bodhisattva, not an Arhat, not a Venerable, not a Dharma King, not a Rinpoche. I am not a holy person. I am a human being with a heart full of humility.” This quote deeply reflects His position and strengthens my faith in the authentic Dharma teachings that He embodied.

S.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III
H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, photographed during the 2010 World Peace Prize ceremony at the US Capitol in June 2011, with His Holiness holding the prize

By putting the Dharma teachings of H.H. the Buddha into practice, I experienced a transformative power in my spiritual understanding, a clearer view of Buddhist wisdom and its real impact on my daily life. These changes were tangible and real. In my family, in my professional life, in my interactions with others – in short, I felt the positive influence of these teachings in every corner of my life.

So it is not only the astonishing recognitions by Buddhist authorities that confirmed H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III as a Buddha that convinced me, not only the countless accomplishments that one can really only marvel at, or the amount of worldly honors that were bestowed upon him. Rather, for me personally, it is the direct and tangible impact that His teachings have had on my life. In H.H. the Buddha, I have not only found the highest refuge, but also a compass for the practical implementation of the Buddha Dharma, which guides me decisively on my path.

In the light of these personal experiences and in view of the deeds and works that speak for themselves, I follow H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. He was a true Buddha and what He gave us is the true Buddha Dharma. This is what I experience and feel in my daily practice and in my heart.

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