Who is H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III? Why is His Holiness given such importance by our nation and respected so broadly by the public?
In December of 2002, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III was awarded the Gold Medal issued by President George W. Bush to honor His Holiness’ noble ethics and morality, accomplishments in artistry, and outstanding contributions to humanity. In 2010, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III was awarded the World Peace Prize – Top Honor Prize. In 2011, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III was awarded the distinguished Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Legacy Award for International Service and Leadership. In 2018, the status of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III as the supreme leader of the entirety of Buddhism was once again confirmed!
As early as in 2012, the United States Senate passed Resolution No. 614, formally designating H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III with the honorific title “His Holiness” (abbreviated as H.H.). Such a title indicated recognition of the highest level, unexcelled and most treasured status. This resolution officially placed the status of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III at the highest level. I had the good fortune to ask H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, “I heard that Your Holiness has the status of the Pope of Buddhism and that Your Holiness has received the Buddhist Papal Scepter.” H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III said, “Is there any meaning in that? The true Buddhist scepter is to be enlightened and then enlighten others.”
The status of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III was conclusively established according to the system of Buddhist recognition in a manner similar to how the Penchen Lama, Karmapa, and others were recognized. Such status is not self-conferred but determined by the system. According to the Buddhist system of recognition, it only takes two rinpoches or lamas to issue a recognition. The recognition is then considered formally established. In the entire history of formal recognitions within Buddhism, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III is the one who has received the largest number of recognitions. No one has ever gotten even one-fifth of the recognitions that H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has received. This establishment of the position of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III based on conclusive evidence cannot be affected in any way by anybody’s endorsement or veto. Rather, it is a systemic and ironclad conclusion.
It has been twenty years since H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III came to the United States from China. Since it is His vow of conduct not to accept any offerings, His Holiness makes his living mainly from income generated from His paintings and sculptures. His Holiness lives a very simple life yet vigorously supports matters of justice, deeds of benevolence, charity to the needy, and the benefiting of others. His Holiness even sold paintings specifically to cover the expenses of temples and the livelihoods of monastics.
In the early years when H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III was in Chengdu, China, living supplies were scarce and people lived on rations. Whenever His Holiness was home, patients with all kinds of illnesses came in an endless stream to seek treatment. Three hundred people registered to seek treatment from Him each day. His Holiness the Buddha always treated patients with no conditions attached and without accepting even one cent. When encountering poor patients who could not afford their medicine, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III even gave His own limited rationed living supplies to those poor and sick patients. Even when His Holiness had nothing to eat and was about to faint, He still refused to accept the food offered by His patients. In His teenage years, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III used the iambic format of “Nian Nu Jiao” to compose the verse “Immediate Entry into the Universe,” in which He wrote, “Three thousand patients come to my door. Day and night, I apply herbal medicine to do wonders.” That was a depiction of the situation then.
Recently, in the Grand Hall of the Buddha at the Holy Miracles Temple in the United States, Ms. Judy Kuan, who is the younger sister of an important high-level political figure in Taiwan, revealed a deeply hidden secret that people did not know for many years about H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. Her reading of the factual account was hosted by dharma masters. Following the beating of the drum and the striking of the bell, in front of the statue of Sakyamuni Buddha and the congregation, she made a grave vow to tell the truth. Such truth astounded everyone in the audience.
She mentioned that the elderly Mr. Pan Shiao Rui, the ship-dismantling king who was a disciple of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, wanted to present offerings to H.H. the Buddha many times. Ms. Kuan was always the contact person for him. Mr. Pan Shiao Rui told her that he and Dharma Master Hsing Yun went to Taiwan together in the early years. At that time, Mr. Pan sponsored all the expenses of Dharma Master Hsing Yun as well as the living expenses of his monastic followers. He was also the sponsor and supervisor of the International Buddha’s Light Association. The affiliated Hsi Lai Temple in the United States was also built mainly from his donations.
In 1999, shortly after H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III came to the United States, Mr. Pan invited H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III to San Francisco to look at a piece of land that he wanted to present as an offering. Real estate in San Francisco was priced like gold! Mr. Pan first invited H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III to look at a piece of land in the suburbs of San Francisco that was more than 2,000 acres. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III declined his offering, using the pretext that the land was too big. Mr. Pan then found another thirty-seven-acre (approximately 201 Chinese mu) piece of land in the city of San Francisco. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III again declined, using a different reason. Then Mr. Pan found and offered a seven-story Spanish-style building of 65,000 square feet in Oakland, which was again declined by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. Having no way to make his offerings, Mr. Pan resorted to presenting monetary offerings each year in huge sums of over US$1,000,000. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III did not accept even one of them. His Holiness always told Judy Kuan to give Mr. Pan the bank account number of either a Buddhist organization or a temple. However, what you cannot imagine is that H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III was not even a member of those temples or organizations.
In 2013, the elderly Mr. Pan came for the last time to America to pay respect to H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. He said that he had reached an advanced age and was preparing to leave this world. He had come that time to present a large amount of gold as an offering. Mr. Pan was once the deputy chief of staff to Dai Li, who was a senior official in the Kuomintang (Nationalist Party). Mr. Pan was responsible for managing some business and financial affairs for Dai Li. At that time, Mr. Pan bought a large amount of gold, which was put away in a Hong Kong treasury. The gold bars weighed two kilograms to five kilograms apiece, and there was a huge quantity. He wanted to present all the gold to H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III as an offering. He even discussed with Judy Kuan whether to transport the gold by plane or ship. You can imagine the vast quantity! H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III immediately refused the entire offering and did not even allow him to mention the word “gold” again. To stop the elderly Mr. Pan, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III told him not to mention making an offering again; otherwise, his karmic connection with the dharma would be damaged.
Other people would use all possible methods to arouse their followers to make offerings, yet H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III rejected such enormous offerings! Is this something an ordinary person could do? Who can have such selfless, greedless character of holy purity! Think about this: If one were given free of charge such an enormous amount of land, buildings, cash, or gold, if one were given such glittering money and wealth with no strings attached, who could remain unmoved? H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III was not only unmoved, He graciously declined all of those offerings!
H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III came to the United States in 1999. Actually, His life in the United States has always been very arduous, but He has never minded that. All that His Holiness thinks about are the interests of the public. His Holiness serves as a model for others, teaching cultivators with His own words and conduct. For the past twenty years until now, His Holiness has always lived a hard and simple life. I often go to the home office of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. Mentioning that office may elicit laughter. It is in a corridor right outside a bathroom. With all kinds of books and other things piled up there, the remaining space is at most only four square meters. When someone is coming through the corridor, those sitting there have to get up to let that person through.
You cannot even imagine that in the twenty years during which H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has lived in the United States, His Holiness has not even had a dining table. He always eats His meals at the kitchen counter. Many Buddhist eminent monastics and greatly virtuous ones have eaten meals with H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. They, too, stood beside the kitchen counter just like H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III did. Almost all of the space inside the home of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III is taken up by the storage of Buddhist objects and His Holiness’ accomplishments in the Five Vidyas. I once personally saw H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III sewing and mending His own clothes. His Holiness said with a smile, “Too bad, I accidentally slit it!” How could an ordinary person fathom the holy purity and greatness of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III?
When one is rich, perhaps one can be indifferent toward donations from others. However, what about when one is poor, in need of money, and is presented with a huge sum of money with no strings attached? Only H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III can remain unmoved in such circumstances! In this society, everybody wants to become rich. They dream of becoming rich. When someone else is perfectly willing to give away a huge amount of money and assets with no strings attached, this is everyone’s get-rich dream coming true. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III did not even take a look at those offerings and simply refused them with ease. Where else in the world is there a person who does not enjoy what he is able to enjoy, who gives up wealth, and who keeps hardships for himself? Who can attain such virtuous conduct? Perhaps only Sakyamuni Buddha and H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III can do so.
Before the true identity of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III was known to the world, His Holiness the Buddha was already world-famous for having attained the pinnacle of accomplishment in the Five Vidyas. Just in painting alone, His Holiness single-handedly founded sixteen painting styles used in both Chinese and Western painting. The subject matter of those paintings include people, birds, insects, fishes, nature, still life, mountains, water, and landscape. The brushwork includes realistic fine brushstrokes and freehand brushstrokes, and the techniques include abstract, realist, and impressionist techniques. Each work of art is an accomplishment that is unparalleled. His Holiness’ paintings, calligraphy, and sculptures are collected by the International Art Museum of America. The H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III Cultural and Art Museum is dedicated to permanently exhibiting artworks created by His Holiness.
This year, senior officials from the White House were guests at the home of His Holiness. One of them asked His Holiness, “Seeing your artistic accomplishments, there is a puzzle that none of us can figure out. Do you spend twenty-four hours every day to create art? Even if you spent twenty-four hours a day, you still could not possibly have created so many artworks!” H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III replied, “I am very ashamed. I am immersed in Buddhist matters every day. I spend so very little time creating art.” That senior official from the White House then asked, “We have seen your artworks. There is one piece that you could not have possibly finished even if you worked on it every day for several decades. That is what we are unable to understand. How did it come into being?” The person in charge of the Office of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III replied, “The piece you saw is only one percent of the artworks created by His Holiness the Buddha.” Upon hearing that, everyone was even more astounded and puzzled. This truly is a fact that cannot be explained through ordinary human thinking.
In fact, be it the zither, chess, calligraphy, painting, sculpture, landscape design, literature, poetry, iambic verses, odes, songs, maxims of philosophy, singing, and other disciplines, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has distinguished expertise in all of them. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III can indiscriminately take into his hands any musical instrument and play it. His Holiness is exceptionally accomplished even in scientific research and culinary skills. The physical strength of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III is also quite extraordinary. This year, His Holiness effortlessly picked up with one hand an Earth Vajra weighing 220 pounds and put it on the offering table. More than 2,000 people have tried to pick up the same Earth Vajra, including a gym-trainer of extraordinary strength who is in his twenties and weighs over 200 pounds. However, until now, nobody has been able to lift that Earth Vajra off the ground with one hand.
It has been twenty years since H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III came to America. Throughout all these years, His Holiness has been voluntarily serving the public. Although there are designated people who prepare the meals for His Holiness from another work area, whenever the cooks ask H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III what He would like to eat, He always relies, “I eat whatever you prepare. Something simple and in a small amount is fine.” For twenty years, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has never specified the food that He wanted to eat. Those people are cooks in His Holiness’ own kitchen, yet His Holiness has never had any craving for the joy of food throughout these decades!
The innate character of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III cannot be fathomed by common people. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III never reveals His true state of Buddhahood to the world. When evil masters slandered His Holiness by saying He is not a Buddha, He did not mind in the least and never manifested His holy realization to prove that He is a Buddha. Last year, some people of evil spirit brought on demonic forces to damage the wisdom-lifeblood of numerous Buddhist disciples. When someone openly raised questions about that, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III reluctantly manifested the true appearance of Buddha in order to save living beings. White thin hairs instantly emerged between His Holiness’ eyebrows. At the time, some people saw one white hair, while others saw a large tuft of white hairs. Some saw white spiraling hairs intertwined like pearls. Some saw the hairs radiating and standing like steel needles, emitting white light. During the same time, what each person saw was different. A Caucasian who was a high government official said that he did not see the white hairs but did see two completely different visages of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III within one minute! When H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III manifested His sambhogakaya appearance as a Buddha, His entire face became the bright and beautiful color of red coral. Moreover, the two sides of His face emitted strong light, like that of the sun, causing some people to be unable to open their eyes. His Holiness also manifested the even-teeth appearance, which is one of the thirty-two marks of a Buddha!
H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III truly is an ancient-Buddha Tathagata. No wonder His Holiness has reached the unmatched pinnacle of accomplishment in the Five Vidyas. No wonder His Holiness is perfectly proficient in the sutras and treatises, can do that which is difficult to do, and can endure that which is difficult to endure. No wonder His Holiness has no greed, has no anger, and has not even the slightest mental attachment. His great wisdom is limitless, and His compassion is boundless. All of these qualities are due to the innate character of a Buddha.
Since being recognized as H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III by the leaders of each of the major Buddhist sects and schools, His Holiness has been even more fully occupied with dharma matters. His Holiness no longer creates any paintings. As always, His Holiness voluntarily serves the public, transmitting dharma and expounding dharma for an average of eight to twelve hours a day. His Holiness often grants audiences to disciples until 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning. Even though His Holiness has arduously served others on a voluntary basis over such a long period of time, He nonetheless has never accepted any offerings. It seems that there has never been another person in this world who is so selfless, who always puts benefiting others above all else, and who always serves the interests of others without a care for himself. This is truly quite inconceivable!
In this world, people of talent are not necessarily virtuous. Moreover, they are usually talented in one particular discipline. People of virtue may not necessarily be talented. Moreover, the virtue they possess is often ordinary. However, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III possess perfect and flawless virtue along with talent that has reached the apex of accomplishment. Furthermore, what the world respects and admires most is that H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III saves living beings out of loving compassion. His Holiness has no anger or hatred at all, even toward those who harmed, deceived, or slandered Him. His Holiness even often prays for those people, wishing them happiness.
For example, many years ago H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III was falsely persecuted, which led to the launch of a special investigation by INTERPOL. That was three full years of tribulation. Yet, just as real gold fears no fire, a man of integrity can stand severe tests. The case against His Holiness was dismissed during the 72nd session of the Commission for the Control of Interpol’s Files. Official written notification was subsequently issued to all member countries of INTERPOL, informing them that they cannot detain H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. China also submitted a report stating that H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III did not commit any crime, and China requested that INTERPOL withdrawal the case against Him. INTERPOL even specially issued a document to H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III regarding the conclusion of the case. After His Holiness received that document dismissing His case and clearing Him of all the smearing targeted against Him, His Holiness did not agree to show it on the internet. When asked why not, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III said, “If my name is cleared, then the names of those who harmed me will not be cleared.” His Holiness the Buddha does not bear any anger or hatred toward those who harmed Him. His Holiness would rather be misunderstood by the world than have those who slandered and harmed Him experience suffering or dreadful consequences. What selfless, compassionate, and magnificent Buddha-character this is!
This is the way H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III is, personally applying His Buddha-virtue to teach and transform people, inspiring others to be good people, to abstain from all evil, to do all deeds of goodness, to be cultivators, and to be people who benefit others. This is the supreme and unconditioned Buddha-virtue.
Buddha-character comes from the state of Buddha-enlightenment that perfectly integrates Buddha-wisdom, Buddha-merit, and Buddha-virtue. The wisdom of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, His world-astounding accomplishments in the Five Vidyas, and His numerous achievements that are at the highest level are openly witnessed by the world. The holy realization of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III can be seen when His Holiness manifests His sambhogakaya appearance, when His Holiness teaches the dharma of the Tathagata, successfully invokes the presence of Amitabha Buddha, causes holy holy nectar (amrita) to descend to earth, and saves countless living beings. The Buddha-virtue of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III entails great compassion and forbearance. It is free of greed, anger, and attachment. It is completely devoid of selfishness, and is totally dedicated to benefiting others. Such purity and nobility exceeds even the brightness and purity of the sun and moon! When we see such inner character of a Buddha in H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, what can we who are ordinary beings say?
All I can say is that I ask everyone to reflect a bit on the following few questions:
Presented with offerings of a huge amount of gold, land, and wealth, His Holiness was completely without greed and remained unaffected. Who can do that?
Holding a document from INTERPOL that cleared Him of all the accusations fabricated against Him, His Holiness simply locked the document into a safe without making any use of it. Who can do that?
Having made the lifetime vow of not accepting any offerings, His Holiness is continuously busy expounding dharma to people and serving the public from early morning till late at night, even up to 2:00 or 3:00 in the morning, without receiving even one cent in return. Who can do that?
The truth is, probably only Sakyamuni Buddha, all Buddhas in the ten directions, and H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III can do so!