Tuesday, February 20, 2007

Message to Fellow Buddhists

After the retreat, I may still have my personal flaws and problems and delusions, etc etc, but it sealed my conviction that the Buddha's words and teachings are correct. After Venerable Master Hsuan Hua and now Lama Zopa Rinpoche, I have had the fortune of meeting true masters - Masters who are beyond all doubts Enlightened Beings, walking on this earth together with us. And we, normal humans could potentially achieve the same status. Don't just beleive me. You have to check it up yourself. This is also the advice given by the Buddha himself, i.e. to check up his words whether true or not. And not just accept it as truth. Only Buddhism talks about such thing. The Buddha is never afraid of telling people to go check his teachings and NO NEED to ask his followers to go propagate his teachings. He knows the truth of Dharma will stand the test of time and the truth of Supreme Enlightenment will propagate itself. By teachings I mean all the 3 teachings embodied in the main traditions of Buddhism, i.e. Therevada, Mahayana and Vajrayana. So, how then do I prove the Buddha's words were true?

The prove of Buddhism is in Buddha's Supreme Enlightenment. Buddhism is different from other religion in that it is not specifically based on one particular book, nor even baskets of books. The teachings of Buddha is any teaching/method that systematically bring one towards Supreme Enlightenment. So, in this interpretation even "other religions" can be considered as the Buddha Dharma. But the huge difference is in the method and time taken to achieve the final goal, i.e. Nirvana. Since the Buddha's time, thousands of people have achieved some form of Enlightement, be it Arhatship, Boddhisattvahood and even Buddhahood. Most of the time, people I know who converted to other religions often cited Buddhism as empty or without the "glorious salvation of their lord" or the "promise of resurrection". I find actually these persons donot know enough of Buddhism. They donot know enough of the Buddha's great teachings.

Buddhism is not just going to temples and putting some joss-sticks or lighting some candles and praying for this and that. This type of behaviour is really more suitable for other religions. In Buddhism we believe more in self-purification for the purpose of ultimately liberating all sentient beings. By liberating we mean, causing the same purification in others and hence, helping others achieving the same Enlightenment. Even if you donot achieve the Supreme Enlightenment of the Buddha, by sincere and proper practice of meditation, you will be able to gain some little, little Enlightements, i.e. lower levels of achievements. And there are many many thousands of Buddhists who have achieved that. And as long as you are on that track, you will be surely on the way to Supreme Buddhahood one day. So, there is no reason whatsoever in giving up Buddhism!

Other religions engage in a lot of active "spreading of the gospel" and they have a lot of support system especially if you are having emotional, health or social problems. These systems provide so much emotional and friendship that you feel like "saved" in the end. That is why a lot of Buddhists who were sick (or near death) or having social or family problems converts and turn to other religions for help. This kind of support system is good in a sense, which is not that apparent within most Buddhist organisations. That is why Khenrinpoche Lama Lhundrup adviced Buddhists to set up support cells within Buddhist groups, to provide needed suppport to their own members or friends. But the Buddha really provided more than this feel good temporary relieve.

I have participated in other religious functions many many times and often music is used to pump up your spiritual adrenaline. When you feel HIGH, you feel like you have entered some sort of estacy and bliss. You dance and move in praise of your Lord. I am not saying there is something wrong in this kind of "feel good stuff", in fact it may be a good thing to experience temporal bliss now and then, to remind you of the final BLISS. Moreover, such singing and dancing are usually acts of devotion. However, in Buddhism such indulgence in HIGH experiences is of not much use in your path towards Enlightenment. In fact it can be a hindrance. You can become so attached to such "happy moves" and "high spirits" that when you are unwilling to let go of such experiences. When the "high experience" ends, you experience much misery and unable to cope with your normal miserable life. Also when you die, there is a chance you may be reborn as a wandering spirit, i.e. smiling ghost. Happy... but nevertheless still a ghost. Still very much trapped within the cycle of birth and death. Behind such happiness, actually there is much sorrow! When you are still trapped like a bird in a cage, how much happiness can you enjoy? How much freedom do you have?

Of course, such happiness also exists within Buddhism if you want to, but this is not the approach of any of the traditions of Buddhism. Buddha exhorts you to engage in practices that bring REAL JOY, REAL HAPPINESS. He asks you to always remember the ultimate happiness - liberation from cycle of birth and death. When you become a Buddha yourself, you can experience all the bliss and happiness you ever wanted!

As Buddhists, we must remember that this is the main essence or message of the Buddha! As Buddhists, this is what we must know and not be easily swayed.

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