Sunday, September 17, 2017

My Reflections on the “Rohingya Crisis”

Recently I read, with some dismay, an open letter written to the Buddhist Sangha of Myanmar. It was said to be signed by seventy over prominent Buddhist personalities and well-known Buddhist leaders. In that letter, they openly urged the Myanmar Buddhist monks to speak up and do something about the violence against the Rohingyas. On the face of it, this letter appears to be appropriate. In fact, some years back, I had the same thinking. But this is not the case anymore. I have more facts now to make a more informed analysis of the situation. In light of this, the open letter seems to indirectly suggest that the Buddhist Sangha of Myanmar supports violence (by not speaking up). Generally, I observed that the recent ethnic cleansing is not caused by Buddhist monks. Except for a small number of monks, I believe a majority of the monks and nuns of Myanmar do not support violence at all. This open letter could mislead extremist Islamic groups into misinterpreting the situation and retaliate against innocent Buddhist monks and nuns. Already there are reports that speculated that the extremist I.S. group may target Buddhists in Thailand. Therefore it could be misconstrued. The open letter also underscores an important point that our Buddhist leaders do not really understand the situation in Myanmar – especially the delicate dynamics between the political leadership of Myanmar, the Buddhist Sangha and the Myanmar military regime. Many people question why Madam Aung San Suu Kyi and the Buddhist Sangha could not speak up louder and stemmed the violence with their political clout. Although I believe I have seen some statements from Madam Aung San Suu Kyi in social media, in which she said the situation is really very complex, by and large, the international community thinks that they have not spoken loud or done enough. She had mentioned that there are also Muslims killing Muslims. It is not a religious conflict as some people wants to portray it to be. A lot of people are concerned only because they are of the same religion as them. So, why is it the political leadership in Myanmar are still very “quiet”? Why can’t they do something to stop the violence against the Rohingyas?

From my own study and analysis of the situation there, I now understand better than before, that the actual reason why  they could not speak louder and take harder action is mainly because, they simply do not have the political clout nor voice to do so. It is a very delicate situation. We know that Myanmar had in the past been governed by the military regime for decades, and only in recent history, the political leadership is passed to the civilian government of Madam Aung San Suu Kyi, after an election. But that does not mean the military regime has truly relinquished power. If the civilian leaders were to speak any louder, do you think the military power will not take over the political rule again in Myanmar? I believe the international community does not want that to happen. I believe too that the Buddhist Sangha in Myanmar has always enjoyed close ties with the military throughout Myanmar. That’s how they could still enjoy their patronage and protection in the forest hermitages and temples throughout Myanmar. And patronage and protection are 2 essential elements for the continuity of Buddhism in Myanmar. We cannot simply dismiss such long standing social dynamics which has probably existed for decades in the country. With their hands tied, the two groups, which the international community has placed their hopes on, are practically silenced. Neither group could really say anything, or do much.
Also, we should note that on August 25, 2017, it was reported that the Rohingya militants had attacked the local government forces. The backlash of this was the action by the Myanmar military leadership against the Rohingyas. Thus, as the saying goes, one hand cannot clap. There are usually two sides of the story. There are casualties from both sides. Of course, now you can say that perhaps the Myanmar military regime had retaliated too harshly on the Rohingyas. In order to find a long term solution, an appreciation of the historical facts regarding the Rohingyas is required. We cannot just react on the basis of some incomplete recent news. As Buddhists, we have a responsibility to check our facts.

If the international Buddhist leaders and international political leaders are truly concerned of the situation affecting the Rohingyas, it is not the Buddhist Sangha of Myanmar they should appeal to. In addition to appealing to Madam Aung San Suu Kyi and her government, more importantly they should address their appeals to the MILITARY REGIME OF MYANMAR and urge them to work with the Myanmar’s civilian government on this matter. However, this is only one side to the crisis solution. Leaving out appealing to the EXTREMIST ROHINGYA MILITANTS is a big mistake by the international community. Hence, if there is any appeal letter, it has to be written to the top military leadership of both sides. With regards the Rohingya crisis, these two groups are the actual power brokers in Myanmar. Engage with them to find a solution, not just with Madam Aung Sang Suu Kyi. Although there is a small paragraph in the open letter urging action by Madam Aung San Suu Kyi and the military regime, the small paragraph is clearly inadequate. Also, it is mostly addressed to the Myanmar Buddhist Sangha. The Buddhist Sangha cannot do much. Furthermore, except for Ma Ba Tha, they were not the ones causing the violence.
 
These are my humble observation and feedback. And I hope my two cents can contribute to some peace in Myanmar in the long term. It will not be easy, but small steps can be done by urging and appealing to the correct people.

P/S: After a long absence, this is my "come back" post. Thanks for all your comments for other posts.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A Poem on Fake Spiritual Teachers

WHEN SENTIENT BIENGS MAKE LOVE
When sentient beings make love,
it's considered sexual intercourse.
When "buddhas" "make love"
- and so it seems,
it's esoteric yoga.
That's a different thing altogether.

When sentient beings visit the brothel,
it's committing lust and resulting in negative karma.
When "buddhas" visit the brothel,
it's liberating activity.

When "buddhas" do not respond to sentient beings' prayers,
it's due to sentient being's karma.
When sentient beings do not do as advised by "buddhas",
it's not "buddhas" fault, but it's negative karma for sentient beings.

When sentient beings are unhappy with the Buddhas,
they feel angry but should not scold the Buddhas.
When "buddhas" are unhappy with sentient beings,
Wait...."buddhas" don't get angry, do they?
....it's also sentient being's bad karma.

So...

it is most ideal to strive to be a Buddha,

Not to be "buddhas" - all the tulku pretenders, fake rinpoches, cult leaders everywhere,

Nor a sentient being.
But to be a truly Enlightened One!
Real Buddhas seriously liberates if there is cause to ever visit a brothel,
Unlike fake ones - merely self-indulgence!

Stay away from fake teachers!

Monday, November 14, 2016

MH17 accident - Prayers by Donetsk Zen Centre

This post was supposed to have been posted 2 years ago but had problems uploading the photos. Now that problem has been resolved.
 
This is about the tragic plane that was shot down on 17 July 2014 killing all 283 passengers and 15 crew members onboard. It crashed near Donetsk, Ukraine. The first batch of the remains of the MH17 victims were flown back to Malaysia on 22 August 2014. It was declared as a national day of mourning. The Donetsk Zen Centre compassionately did prayers for the victims. The group is affiliated to the Kwan Um School of Zen, founded by Zen Master Seung Sahn. On behalf of families of all victims, we would like to thank this group! They even displayed the Malaysian flag and the Malaysian Federation emblem near the altar. "Namu Amita Bul" to all of the victims and their families and friends.


The photos are courtesy from the Donetsk Zen Centre. The first photo shows an elderly woman making flower offerings at the crash site. The second photo shows the members of the Zen Centre. The third photo is the Centre altar with the Malaysian flag clearly displayed during the prayers. The fourth shows the members during the ceremonial prayers.  Namu Kwan Seum Bosal!




Sunday, June 19, 2016

HELL AWAITS THE TERRORISTS

according to Buddhism, beheading of people will only result in oneself being reborn in the HELL REALMS. When it is time for the terrorists to die, it will not be pleasant. And they will remain there for millions of aeons and aeons. Thereafter, reborn as animals to be slaughtered again and again. And thereafter, being reborn as hungry ghosts for another millions of lifetimes. Lots of pain and suffering. They just don't get it now. If they know what is awaiting them, they will not do such terrible acts of evil. It does not matter that they think they are of another religion. Karma does not recognise religion. It is not determined by the Buddha or anyone for that matter. It operates by itself. And that is why, it is fair. The fairest system ever.   

Saturday, May 21, 2016

HAPPY WESAK - A REASON TO BE GRATEFUL!

Today is the day we commemorate the birth, Enlightenment and Maha Parinirvana of the Buddha. I am resuming writing here after a long absence, in order to express my deepest and sincerest gratitude to the Buddha for showing me MERCY and COMPASSION...for giving me hope when all is almost lost...You see, I have been focusing on myself lately. Busy with some personal issues. When all is dark around me, and sinking into more darkness, ...suddenly there is light. THANK YOU, BUDDHAS AND SAGES for answering my prayers! I tried so hard - completed a million Migtsema, 100,000 Taras, completed my prostration ngondros, asked quite a number of Rinpoches to bless me, requested for a tea offering for my sake, committed to a number of actions IF my prayers were answered, etc etc etc. Sometimes I felt like I was praying to a wall.... blank, dull, uninterested in what I was saying.

It might seem to others that I am praying for some worldly thing and that the reason I am emotional, shows the kind of spiritual weakling that I am. People may have that kind of judgment about me. But you can judge or have whatever opinion you want. I don't care what you think of me. You are not me having this roller coaster ride - going through tremendous stress, sadness, desperation, anger, hopelessness, depress, whatever else.....! If it wasn't for my Zen practice, I might have gone crazy.

I pushed myself to work hard to get this thing that I want - and "this thing" is not really worldly at all, although it appears to be. One thing is clear. "This thing" opened up only after I did the Dorje Khadro puja. It made me realise that this had better be my aim, otherwise I will regret it for the rest of my life. It's because I also realise I am not getting any younger. I should not be chasing for money anymore. Certainly not any wealth, fame, positions, etc. It is time for me to renounce the world. Yes, in a way. That is how important "that thing" was to me. I really must get it. And I used all my spiritual and worldly resources to get it.

Now it is not so much of a roller coaster anymore. But still working on towards my "thing". Now, I am grateful. Really grateful. With that, I want to wish all who respects the Buddha - A VERY HAPPY WESAK! Namo Amitabha!

Thank you, Sakyamuni Buddha!
Thank you - Dorje Khadro!
Thank you - Shirdi Sai Baba!
Thank you - Lotus Assembly!
Thank you - Dzambala - for coming to my dream after I invoked you!
Thank you Gurus and Masters - for not giving up on me!
Thank you to my Vajra Protector... you work so hard!

Thank you!

Saturday, March 5, 2016

Completed Prostrations for Ven. Master Hsuan Hua

Sometime in January 2016, I completed the 10,000 prostrations required fulfilment with Ven. Master Hsuan Hua. Yes! I am glad it is done. Technically all of my prostration commitments are completed and I need not do it anymore, but I shall continue doing the bows as a daily practice.

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

1,000,000 Migtsema and 100,000 Green Tara mantras

Today - Feb 10, 2016, history is made. It was supposed to be tomorrow but I did the sprint towards the finishing line and managed to complete one million Migtsema mantras and one hundred thousand Green Tara mantras. Actually I did more than more than that because I use the mala and one mala has 108 mantras. But if you take away 8 for errors and omissions, then there is only 100 mantras for one mala. So, it is only an estimate, not absolute numbers. To think that I managed to complete it and coinciding it with the celebration of Chotrul Duchen (Buddha's Days of Miracles) makes it even more auspicious!

I am so glad I have reached this important milestone in my life. And I have my own personal dedications and prayers for the 1,000,000 Migtsemas and 100,000 Green Taras. Amongst these wishes are for the good health and successful career of all my gurus, including His Holiness the Dalai Lama, my Tibetan Buddhism gurus and my Zen gurus.

Namo Amitabha!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Monkey Story for Monkey Year

This is a very good teaching story by Zen Master Dae Kwan. Read on.

"Monkey Story for Monkey Year" -- Zen Master Dae Kwan
A monk from Malaysia shared a story from his retreat centre in Ipoh.
One day, many monkeys came to the centre when they were preparing for a retreat. In a very short time, these wild monkeys turned the whole centre upside down, especially in the kitchen. They became frequent visitors to the centre, and they came just to disturb and mess up everything.
All the volunteers and the monk were frustrated. The retreat centre is a place for quietude and practice. It is not for the hostile monkeys to come and turn it into their playground and war zone. Finally the volunteers called for a meeting. Many suggestions were proposed: poison them, cage them, put up electrical barb wires, call the government department to shoot them, etc.

After this meeting and before any action was taken, the monkeys became more hostile and fierce. They even wanted to attack the monk. The leader of the monkeys came to him with an angry face showing its teeth as if it wanted to take revenge. The monk was astounded. At the same time he understood his own mistake. How could I just think of helping the retreat students and not think of the monkeys as well. They are also sentient beings that we vow to save... With this realisation and remorse, he repented deeply to the monkeys. But only repentance is not enough, I must take a few more steps, he thought to himself. So he brought all the things that the monkeys liked to eat and put them in the open area of the kitchen. Interestingly, the monkeys did not respond to this good will. They did not take anything that was offered to them; instead, they continued their hostile actions towards the centre. The monk continued to repent and make offerings to the monkeys. After a week the monkeys calmed down a bit. They started to look at the food offered to them, but they still wouldn't eat the food. They just came and checked on the food. After a few more days they at last grabbed the food and ran away quickly. Then slowly they came and sat next to the monk, checking on the food. Finally they sat down to eat the offering. After some time, the monkeys stopped coming to the temple, and the temple is now free from the monkeys disturbing them.

This is a good story about how our thinking creates our world. Thinking bad, attract revenge. Change our attitude with correct action, the whole situation can be transformed. This world has more and more conflicts. Out of ignorance more and more people want to kill each other. With our sincere action of helping each other, we can heal the wounds that we once created.
2016 is the year of the monkey. Monkeys are very active, mischievous and clever. The good thing about them is that you can train and tame them. When they are disciplined, and once they've mastered their skills, they can do many tricks and help their master. This is true to our monkey mind. It is restless with no direction. Once we train this monkey mind, this mind can help this world and bring happiness and peace to the whole universe.

Su Bong Zen Monastery wishes you all a happy new year filled with good training that will tame this monkey mind and fruitful experiences that will bring happiness and harmony to you and this world!

Read more of Zen Master Dae Kwan’s teachings here: SUBONG ZEN MONASTERY

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Mind and Methods

Welcome to Year 2016. I am sorry this greetings come late.

Anyway, I am more and more convinced that the mind that chants the Mani mantra,  the mind that immerses in Amitabha Buddha's Name, the mind that has the objectless object awareness and the mind that investigates the kung-an - they are all capable of reaching the same state of mind. Whatever method is used, the same nature of mind is reached. Only the what I call "side-effects" are different.

Friday, December 4, 2015

The Two Truths In Zen: Dongshan's Five Ranks


In Tibetan Buddhism, many Masters talk about the two truths, i.e. relative truth and ultimate/absolute truth. In Zen, there is also talk about the two truths. This is best encapsulated by Dongshan Liangjie, the founder of Soto tradition within Zen Buddhism. He composed what is known as “Dongshan’s Five Ranks”. However, it may not be easy for ordinary persons to understand.

1. The Bent within the Straight (meaning the Relative within the Absolute)
In the third watch of the night
Before the moon appears,
No wonder when we meet
There is no recognition!
Still cherished in my heart
Is the beauty of earlier days.

2. The Straight within the Bent (meaning the Absolute within the Relative)
A sleepy-eyed grandma
Encounters herself in an old mirror.
Clearly she sees a face,
But it doesn’t resemble hers at all.
Too bad, with a muddled head,
She tries to recognize her reflection!

3. The Coming from within the Straight (the Absolute)
Within nothingness there is a path
Leading away from the dusts of the world,
Even if you observe the taboo
On the present emperor’s name,
You will surpass that eloquent one of yore
Who silenced every tongue.

4. The Arrival at the Middle of the Bent (the Relative)
When two blades cross points,
There’s no need to withdraw.
The master swordsman
Is like the lotus blooming in the fire.
Such a man has in and of himself
A heaven-soaring spirit.

5. Unity Attained
Who dares to equal him
Who falls into neither being nor non-being!
All men want to leave
The current of ordinary life,
But he, after all, comes back
To sit among the coals and ashes.

note: the above 5 verses are taken from "Zen Masters of China" by Richard Bryan McDaniel.