Pujas are normally done when we need to clear a certain obstacle quickly. Not all obstacles are external; sometimes it could be internal, like having inner turmoil, depression or negative mind set. Pujas are directed to certain Deities, Buddhas or Bodhisattvas that the person/sponsor is connected to. They accumulates great amount of merits, which will clear their obstacle or fulfil their wishes and purify their negative karma, which is the ultimate cause for their particular problem.
There have been many times that Rinpoche has sponsored pujas to be done to clear my obstacles. I am not certain what obstacle it is exactly for Rinpoche did not tell me, but I am definitely sure it is to protect me and it helped me to continue on spiritual journey in doing Dharma work. I feel blessed to have this privilege, kindness and care from Rinpoche. Without Rinpoche I know I would probably not be here, alive and in Kechara today. Depending on how big or small is one’s obstacle, the Pujas may cost from a couple of hundreds to a couple of thousands. Rinpoche has easily spent hundreds of thousands on Pujas for his students like me. Imagine how kind Rinppoche is to care so much that He personally sponsored pujas for tired me? It should be the other way round. Even my own family would not do that. At that time we did not have Kechara Puja House, so most pujas needed to be ordered and done in Gaden monastery.
I believe that the Pujas done for me gave a positive push in my merit bank to ensure that I stay on the right path. Perhaps it was to clear away some inner obstacles or kept me safe from an accident. It is common when we are doing Dharma work or when we are about to engage in doing anything good, like Dharma, our negative karma will manifest to stop us. So even though we are working in Dharma, doesn’t mean we are free of obstacles but we are fortunate to be able to have the support and methods to pacify the obstacles. Without enough merits, our negative karma can ripen any time. Without enough merits to support us in our spiritual path we could also easily drop out and give up on our spiritual practice. Basically from what I’ve learnt is that merit is like fuel for our spiritual practice, if the fuel runs out, then we can’t move forward.
Therefore this is why Rinpoche keeps on emphasising the importance for us to collect merits all the time. Rinpoche constantly think of many ways to skilfully get us to purify our negative karma through the various assignments He gives. Sometimes the assignment may appear tedious, challenging and even impossible to our limited wisdom. But usually it is possible as the Guru has already analysed it carefully before even assigning it to us. For example there was once a computer assignment was given to a few of us which involves writing and creating a website. Never in my wildest dream would I ever think it was possible and that I would ever want to do something like this – create a website. For one I am terrified of computers and technology, so when Rinpoche asked us to create a website for birds, I really panicked. But I had no choice but to just learn it overnight, do it and meet the deadline. After something like 3 days, and completing the assignment, I realised what Rinpoche was trying to teach us – nothing is impossible! I also learnt to not give up so easily, not always have self-doubt and never limit myself from learning new things. It is true, nothing is impossible if we put our minds to it. Many times I’ve learnt this through the various assignments Rinpoche has given. It us who build up borders and limit ourselves all the time. This is the obstacles we create for ourselves, stopping ourselves from achieving more and succeeding. Whatever assignment Rinpoche gives us, usually He already knows if we can pull it off or not. If we doubt the Guru, do not trust, resist taking the medicine, then we will not heal, this is when we end up failing, because the assignment was catered for us to succeed.
I am indeed very fortunate for having a Guru who is compassionate, patient and who cares enough to help me improve. And if I dare say so even more than a parent to their children, because Tsem Rinpoche is a spiritual teacher who guides his students not just in this life, but for many future lives until one gains enlightenment. I know I can never thank Rinpoche enough for everything Rinpoche has done for me, but I still wish to thank Rinpoche for without Rinpoche, there will be very little hope for someone like me. It is out of Rinpoche’s great compassion, I am still here, so thank you dear Lama and I will keep on improving myself.
Note: For more info on Pujas here are some useful links: