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What It Means to Be the Pope of Buddhism

The Pope of Buddhism, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III holding the Pope of Buddhism Scepter.

In all of human history, there have been many people who have made significant contributions to the betterment of the world. Some of the most notable names are Martin Luther King, Mahatma Gandhi, and Mother Teresa, all of whom are well-remembered throughout history. The main reason for the significance of their contributions is the extraordinary life experiences they have had, coupled with their adherence to high moral standards. The Pope of Buddhism, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, is one of the exemplary figures who is fully devoted to selflessly helping other people and living beings. 

While He was born in Sichuan, China, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III came to the United States in 1999 for the pursuit of religious freedom, making His home in Pasadena and has become a U.S. citizen. The Buddha has said, “The American people are kind and noble. People can freely believe in religion in the United States, a country that is spiritually wealthy, powerful and blessed.” 

H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has spent His life working to relieve human suffering and further the expansion of peace throughout the world. Through His teachings, He also works toward helping more people develop spiritual enlightenment. Back in China, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III was known as the Distinguished International Master and the Supreme Dharma King of Buddhism. At the time, many people came to Sichuan, China, seeking to be His disciples and learn from Him for a better understanding of the teachings of Buddha dharma, and to achieve true realization. They were moved not only by the Buddhist teachings, but also by the morality of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. After His arrival in the U.S., H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has worked to spread the teachings of Buddhism and help others throughout days and nights, just as He did in China. In 2002, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III received the Presidential Gold Award, in recognition of His moral character, noble ethics, His contributions to humanity, and His many achievements in the art world. The Buddha has also had days proclaimed in His honor in the State of California, as well as in the City and County of San Francisco. The Buddha was the only person in the Asian-American community to receive such honor and award at the time they were bestowed upon Him. 

In 2008, The book H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III – A TREASURY OF TRUE BUDDHA-DHARMA was published. It documented many of the achievements of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III in the Five Vidyas. It also discussed the fact that H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III – who originally went by the name of Master Wan Ko Yee – was officially recognized as being the actual reincarnation of the Dorje Chang Buddha. At a ceremony in the United States, the newly-published Buddhist book was offered to the American people by the International Buddhism Sangha Association. H.H. Dharma King Jigme Dorje Rinpoche, supreme leader of the Jonang sect, had his testimony in the book, which said, “H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III’s complete proficiency in exoteric and esoteric Buddhism and perfect mastery of the Five Vidyas outshine the accomplishments of all others, both ancient and modern. His Holiness is a paragon of enlightenment … His Holiness is the Buddhist equivalent of the Pope.” 

Since being recognized, the Buddha has been fully occupied with dharma matters. He serves the public, transmitting and expounding dharma anywhere between eight and twelve hours every day without accepting offerings for His service. His interest is serving all people and living beings, and has been acting with regard to Buddhist principals in His compassion toward all living beings. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III continues to pray for everyone, even those who have harmed Him in the past. In 2011, He received the World Peace Prize Top Honor Prize, and was recognized by the World Peace Prize Awarding Council for selfless devotion to healing and rescue-relief activities.

His wisdom and benevolence are offered to all cultures and races, as He works to bring peace, kindness, and equality to everyone. Wherever H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III travels, He works toward unity, with a level of compassion and humility that is beyond compare. One of the most notable things about a Buddha is that They have attained supreme wisdom, and They have realized the absolute truth held by the universe. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III has publicly announced that He would be not qualified being a master if He cannot answer any question raised by anyone. Once, during a dinner held by university and college deans, professors, and others, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III answered questions with no preparation. These answers were greatly admired by the attendees, for the wisdom they offered.

People all around the world were deeply moved by the teachings of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. Because of that, they established centers to spread the teachings of the Buddha to others, so more people could learn Buddhist principles and cultivate the self-improvement that comes from those teachings. The equality of all living beings is one of the biggest teachings of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, and that not only includes all people but also animals. As more people follow these teachings, they focus on releasing and protecting all living beings instead of harming them, as well as treating people better even through all of their differences. 

The level of religious freedom in the United States has helped H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III bring His teachings to the world, and share with Buddhists in other areas who want to bring His teachings to their countries as well. In March 2014, for example, Hong Kong held a “His Holiness Dorje Chang Buddha III Grand Dharma Assembly,” that representatives from over 28,000 Buddhist organizations and temples attended.

All of this, when combined, has convinced the World Peace Prize Awarding Council and World Peace Prize Religious Leaders Title Awarding Council that H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III should be given the title Pope of Buddhism. This is the highest title in Buddhism, and can only be held by one person at a time. This title was originally bestowed on H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III in 2018, but much to the surprise of the Councils, the Buddha refused this title and returned the certificate to the Councils, instead. 

In the goal to benefit all living beings, and propagate Buddha Dharma, the conferment decree and scepter were originally accepted on behalf of the Buddha, by the World Buddhism Association Headquarters. Then, the scepter and decree were presented with respect to H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III by the Headquarters. Upon seeing the decree and scepter, the Buddha said, “I see that on top of this Scepter is the seated Shakyamuni Buddha, we should be respectful to Namo Shakyamuni Buddha.”

Then He returned the scepter and decree, and would not accept them. He also made a symbolic gesture to pay His respects. The refusal of H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III to accept the title, scepter, and decree did come as a surprise to the Councils, but the Buddha had good reason to refuse the honor. 

H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III said: “Within the field of Buddhism, there are Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. There are titles of Dharma kings, rinpoches, Dharma masters, eminent monastics, greatly virtuous persons, and Holy Gurus. There is no need for a Pope.” H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III was unmoved by the honor, which was shocking to those who had offered it in good faith, and with much reverence for the Buddha.

In 2020, however, the World Peace Prize Awarding Council and World Peace Prize Religious Leaders Title Awarding Council passed a resolution together, determining that the Buddha should be honored with the scepter and decree. They felt that giving them back was not possible. In their eyes, and in the eyes of Buddhists everywhere, H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III was the Pope of Buddhism, and His Holiness the Buddha is the only one qualified to be the Pope of Buddhism in the current world. It was decreed, even if He would not use that title Himself, or would not choose to be called by that title going forward.

At the Holy Miracles Temple of the World Buddhism Association Headquarters, the joint Chair of the World Peace Prize Awarding Council and World Peace Prize Religious Leaders Title Awarding Council, Suzi Leggett, made the announcement that, “Over the past several decades, the World Peace Prize Awarding Council has presented the World Peace Prize to presidents, spiritual leaders, and prime ministers of many nations, including President Ronald Reagan, Hon. Mahatma Gandhi, and H.E. Yitzhak Rabin.”

Leggett went on to say, “There has never been a precedence of an award being retracted or returned. All determinations made and implemented by our Councils are very solemn, serious, and absolutely cannot be changed. The return of the Pope of Buddhism Scepter and conferment decree by H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III is deemed not effectible. The title, status, and authority of the Pope of Buddhism belong only to H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, and cannot be exercised by anyone else.”

Then, the two Councils requested that the scepter and decree be accepted by the World Buddhism Association Headquarters, and presented to H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. Even though this had been done once already, and the Buddha had returned these items, the Councils felt that the items belonged to H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III, and had to be accepted by Him. Venerable Mozhi Rinpoche then accepted the scepter and decree, on behalf of the World Buddhism Association Headquarters.

The World Buddhism Association Headquarters believes that H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III is the first person in Buddhism to complete and display the flawless accomplishments coming from the Five Vidyas. Therefore, they see H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III as the Pope of Buddhism, even if He refuses the scepter and decree.

Ever since Shakyamuni Buddha entered parinirvāṇa, in over 2,000 years, there has not been anyone in the world who possesses the needed qualities of a Buddha in the same way as H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III. He has taken a vow to work for the benefit of all living beings, and has faithfully carried out that vow on a fully voluntary basis. He accepts no offerings of any kind, and has never accepted them. Throughout His life, He has offered perfect wisdom and accomplishment, unlike any other Holy Guru. H.H. Dorje Chang Buddha III is truly the Pope of Buddhism.

Adrian

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