Saturday, July 14, 2007

Preciousness of Human Life

I feel that people don’t really understand how precious human life is. They only know the preciousness of their brains. But what else and why is human life precious? We are told of the story of the blind turtle surfacing to the yoke floating on the ocean once every hundreds thousands of aeons. Almost everyone has heard of that story. So, we know it is rare, but does that automatically mean it is precious? I think not. Something that is rare does not by itself mean it is precious. Lately, after contemplating on the preciousness of the human existence, I managed to get an understanding. I think it is precious because of the potential within the human body itself. As long aswe still have it, we should strive to realise its potential. Until then, it is kind of hidden. It’s like in the movie “Transformers”, Sam did not realize his old car is actually one of the Autobots until it transforms itself. No other type of body in the other five realms of existence has this potential. The body of the lower beings are replete with only suffering, whereas the higher realms, some of them have no body at all (i.e. formless) and most have a subtle body. It is only the human body (flesh, blood, everything) that is endowed with the cakras, winds and channels. If combined with the mind, there is great potential there. And since ancient times there are humans that have understood this potential. In Hinduism, they practice various types of yogas to tap the potential. We have seen them in their twisted bodies. The Taoists harness the potential in the human body for longevity and immortality through various qigong exercises and meditations. Buddhists are slightly different inmotivation. We don’t strive for immortality. Instead,we strive for enlightenment. Gautama Buddha, thehistorical Buddha, tapped the potential in the humanbody and mind to become the Buddha of our era. Hence, we can see therein within this human body of ours,lies so much potential, so much precious “jewels”.However, if we merely keep it but do not know how torealize it, it remains only a potential. It is likehaving a credit card that you do not have to repay butyou are not using it to buy things. Only keeping it. Nevertheless, for human life, keeping it is a respectfor its precious potential and rareness. Majority of humans do want to live as long as possible and they do respect other lives.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Building a Rock Solid Devotion

Dear J,
Actually my main point is relating to Guru Devotion.Our karmic delusion is the one that obstruct us fromseeing the Buddha as a Buddha. Even if the Buddha wereto appear before us in all his splendor we will not beable to see him due to our karma. Even in dreams, howmany of us actually have dreamt of the Buddha?Nevertheless, devotion is not just a feeling inside.There are steps in the Lam rim meditations that ismeant to enable us to actually gain the realisationthat would let us see the Buddha or Lama as a Buddha. Our lineage is unique in the sense that it emphasise alot on lam rim, getting a firm solid grounding on eachstep of the gradual path. Not just an intellectualunderstanding or emotional/feeling kind of devotion. The realisations that would come from having devotionwould only come about if we have a solid "seeing theGuru as Buddha", i.e. actually able to see it. And notsweeping aside any doubts pertaining to the Guru. Anydoubts must be resolved but not in an aggresive orrude manner like the "open letter". I pray you wouldbe successful in your lam rim meditations.

J wrote (July 2):
Dear ,
I think the answer lies in how we see things. Karma sometimes lead us to see, hear and feel differently. Understanding of karma is very different. When I posted to you the question about the lama's eating meat, I did not sit and meditate on this subject and jumped to conclusions. I was wrong in that sense. I don't know the exact translation in mandarin but I think it is "zhe zuo". If you can eradiate that then all answer lies there. What you think?

J was responding to this email dated June 29th:
More ramblings from me...hahaha... A lot of people are definitely loyal to HH The Dalai Lama. And a lot of people say he is the living Buddha and is a emanation of Chenresig. But are we ourselves able to see him as a Buddha? The question is: how do you support your faith in him by actual wisdom and experience? Not just devotion built on empty sky? By that I mean: devotion based on other's wisdom and experience. Not our own. Most people's devotion to guru is like that, very few devotion are actually based on own wisdom. Any Guru for that matter. Even His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I am not asking you to doubt your guru, no. Of course it is better to have devotion base on other's wisdom and experience than nothing at all. However only genuine> devotion from being able to substantiate that devotion from one's own experience of seeing the Guru as aBuddha will bring about realisations talked about by the Masters. I think the mistake that guy made in that open letter is that he is nto patient enough to wait for an answer from HH Dalai Lama. I don't think it was wrong for him to question the Dalai Lama but it was certainly rude to publish it in an open letter to humiliate him. If I had a doubt like he had, and it is certainly a genuine case. I mean, he had real reasons to question him and he is not wrong as far as the Buddha is concerned. The Buddha donot believe even himself just because he is the Buddha. Similarly we are not to believe or justify the Dalai Lama just because he is the Dalai Lama...IF IT IS A GENUINE DOUBT like in the open letter. While waiting for an answer from His Holiness by writing him a personal letter, he should wait and> adopt an open mind. Wait, even 10 or 20 or 30 years. Or longer. Meditate on it. He only wrote to HH for a short time (2 or 3 years is a short time). These kind of doubts must be cleared and not brushed aside or baseless justification. Does he know monks' vinaya allow him to eat meat? Like you had a doubt the other day, why the monks are eating nasi kandar? I also had that question before. I wasnot able to answer you> satisfactorily. We cannot adopt a double std - for monks we donot know, we question their acts. But for Dalai Lama, we try to justify. This kind of justification is not genuine devotion. So, I went around asking other monks. And my doubt was cleared. So, I have justified with proper reasons why His Holiness can eat meat even if he has no health problems. But in the open letter, the writer is questioning more than that. He is saying that the Dalai Lama is not> walking the talk, i.e. Not doing according to what he preaches. I'm afraid I also donot have an answer to those yet. I'll keep an open mind that someday I'll understand his actions and I'll just follow whatever he advices me to do. Not necessarily to follow what he does himself. I'll also pray everyday that he will make me uderstand quickly. Supplication to Guru is important to clear doubts. Remember that devotion is no different from blind faith without wisdom. Please keep this email to yourself.

Email sent dated June 25.
I am going to post a link that is controversial butnevertheless this is going to test you a lot on yourguru devotion and how you see His Holiness.
Sometimes in our practice things are not going to besmooth sailing. we are surely going to be tested everynow and then. This criticism should be seen in thecorrect way and remember the Eight verses of ThoughtTransformation. Would you react to the writer angrily?Or sugar-coat it or brush it aside? Or... Are you sureit is Guru devotion or you're just sugar-coating thereal issue? That reminds me of what Ajahn Sumedho said in one ofhis books. He said that in the West, Tibetan Buddhismis growing so well mainly due to the influence of HHDalai Lama. But Ajahn asked, what if the Dalai Lamawere to convert and become a Christian or marry awoman and become a layman. What would be theimplication on you? Yes- you, me, us! Are you going toleave Buddhism as well? If you are a monk, are yougoing to become layperson just to follow the DalaiLama "out of devotion"? Is that the correct meaning ofdevotion? We are not going to debate on what the writer wrotenor about the Dalai Lama nor about vegetarianism...rather it is about reflecting on ourselves. WhetherTheravada, Mahayana or Vajrayana, we can certainlyreflect on our own actions. Religious people sometimescan be so self-righteous, isn't it? This is just for your thoughts. PEACE!

My friend's first published book

This is such a precious piece of work that I think I should share it here, irrespective of lineage. I think everyone can benefit from it. As his friend, I have waited for "ages" to see his name on the front coverof a Buddhist book. I have encouraged him in the past to write some books. There is so much knowledge andexperience in this guy that it would be a waste for usnot to get some benefit out from him. What I am today,in terms of my spiritual knowledge and connections, isalso partly due to him. Even now, when I want to checkcertain things on dharma or get another perspective ofan issue, it is him I turn to. So, I often get a fair"check and balance" view. Not just listen to one side.So, out of this gratitude, and this is the small thingthat I can do in return is to share this email postedby himself to all of you here. Even if you are not from Drikung Kagyu, not to worry.Reading life stories of other lineage saints can be of tremendous benefit. For me, all these other Gurus comefrom my Guru. So, it strengthens my own devotion.That's how I see it. As I have mentioned to a fewfriends, devotion is not just a feeling. If it is justfeeling, it is like a house built on weak soil, itwill collapse anytime. I believe reading Namtars ofenlightened saints will supplement our devotion andmeditation, & gradually we will be able to actuallysee our Guru as a Buddha. Not just a feel or beliefthing.So, to end my "rambling", I am happy to see this work,which is co-written together with Khenpo Ts├╝ltrimTenzin.