Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Transit at Bangkok

After the Singaporeans check out from the airport on arrival at 8.40pm Thailand time on 31 Dec. 2007, we had to go to the customer service dept and wait for more than an hour and a half. Later they took us to a hotel nearby called Miracle Hometel. It's only 10 minutes away from the airport. My wife and I didnot go any other places after that as we were tired. We just watched the TV cable channels.

The long hot shower and had a nice soap and comfortable bed was a real contrast with the retreat short 2 minute showers and just-okay but cold bed. But like what Biao Yong said, we dedicated the pleasures to the Triple Jewels. For us, we had our bath and then watch CCTV and/or BBC channel, watched the countdown in China.

We then ordered supper - just one plate as it was late, to celebrate the New Year and we both shared. This is the sort of things that women seems to remember better. You see, before 2006, we used to go out on New Year's eve to have our "special dinner". We didnot have any last year because I was in India. This year my wife clearly remembered our tradition and she was the one who suggested we order a plate of American Fried Rice. It was a simple dish but good - well, every food would taste good now, especially after the retreat. Not because the food at Root was bad, but we appreciate every food better and see it as "offerings". And also, I think my wife and I are simple people, especially my wife, we don't need extravaganza to please ourselves.

The next morning , we walked to a nearby temple called Wat King Kaeo - quite big and the local Thais were going there to make their New Year offerrings to the Triple Gems. The local shops sold buckets of goods normally used daily by the monks. We bought some flowers and candles and joss-sticks to make offerings to the Buddha there. Then we walk back to the hotel. In the afternoon, we went to Central Shopping mall. Didnot buy anything as the goods were normal shopping mall prices. Not much difference than Penang prices. I was quite sick in the afternoon and had to sit and rest many times. At the airport, we ate at the foodcourt and tasted some of the local Thai dishes. Not bad.

Sunday, January 6, 2008

My wife's first trip to Bodhgaya

This year I wanted here to go with me and I realised how important it is to enable someone to visit such a holy place at least once in your life time. We never will know when life will end abruptly. So, even though I had to fork our extra $$, it was good to plant some positive imprints in her mind in such a holy place.

But this year the pre-visit was not smooth. Our flight booking was on waiting list for quite a long time. I had to push my travel agent as well as Thai airways many times to get the tickets. When I got them, it was inadvertently cancelled the next day because the travel agent had not issued the tickets yet. They were waiting for me to tell them, and I wanted them to remind me one day before the deadline. Actually the tickets I got were still expensive (or rather, outside of my budget J) and I wanted Thai Airways to get me lower-class seats. I prayed to Rinpoche, that if I were to benefit my wife, I needed to get the tickets. Finally a week before the scheduled departure date I got the tickets. Thank you, Rinpoche!

My wife was looking forward to this trip with mixed feelings. It was good for her merely because it would be our first trip together on a plane. We had never been on a plane together. She was worried about the other aspects of the retreat. She was worried she could not communicate with the other retreatants. She was worried she could not understand the teachings. She was worried she may not be able to get up early, and others. But all the worries were for nothing. She was able to understand Rinpoche to the extent she was able to, i.e. even when Rinpoche was in Penang, she was only able to understand about 50%. But so was many others – they could not get what Rinpoche was saying!
Anyway, she understood Venerable Dondrub’s teachings better and she was able to communicate with some of the Singaporean participants as well as the Taiwanese lady and her 16-year-old son. And of course, Dr Goh – the eye doctor from Kuala Lumpur. The latter persons were her companions in my absence. Also, except for the time she was sick, at a few mornings, she was able to wake up for the rest of the teachings. And she participated in my most the programme. This is actually an achievement, and I am truly proud of her.

I advised her to say whatever she wanted when she was at the Maha Bodhi Stupa. That would be the perfect time to do purification and make sincere requests to the Buddha. She did just that and also took her time to say her prayers to Tara when we were at the self-arisen Tara cave just outside of the main shrine. During the stay in Bodhgaya, she had managed to go to the toilet everyday. And so far so good - touch wood – she had been able to maintain it after she comes back from India! Wow! Talk about karmic purification! It’s almost a miracle!

What amazes me more is her willingness to take one of the vows given during the retreat. I did tell her that it was sort of inconsequential because we had taken the set (albeit a different set) of vows under another high lama (both the vows and the name of the other high lama is our secret – so don’t ask!). But to my wife, taking it under Rinpoche was a different ball game and to her it appears stricter and more serious. She somewhat believed in the theory that the other set was only a pre-cursor or preliminary/ rehearsal to the actual set of vows to be given by Rinpoche. Well… I sort of suggested the theory to her …but of course, they need to be kept as well. Anyway, it told her that if she was not comfortable to take these vows, she was free not to take it. I advised that perhaps she should take the other set, but she was reluctant. She said she was not ready. I really do not get it; she was not ready for this one, which is a precursor to taking the other one, which she wanted to take. Mind-boggling! Anyway, Rinpoche cancelled the precursor set of vows. Too bad for her.
However, she came back with that set of vows she had in fact taken with the other high lama, but which seems more real to her now than then. So, CONGRATULATIONS! It’s definitely a step forward in her journey to enlightenment and saving incalculable sentient beings. If I could only benefit one sentient being in my present life, i.e. her, I would be very happy. I would not regret anything. Even if we do not meet again in the next life, I would be comforted that she have had enough karmic imprints in her mind to reconnect again with the Buddha dharma, and hence will be able to make her own journey to Final Liberation! And I am happy that I have done this much for her...at least.

Friday, January 4, 2008

Khenrinpoche’s longlife puja

I have so many things to write,…hahaha I just donot know where to start. Hmmm…maybe I’ll start with Khenrinpoche Lama Lhundrup's longlife puja held at LDC on 7 Oct 2007...and do it in point forms,with short notes just to capture the main points.

1.1 Purification outside the gate
It was held at LDC in KL and that was the first time I ever took part in a guru’s longlife puja. I took the last midnight bus from Penang and reached KL in the early morning. It was about 5.30 when we reached Hentian Duta. Not wanting to disturb any of my KL friends, and since I thought there would be someone at LDC to open the gate for me, I took a bus to Plaza Rakyat and from there, a taxi to LDC. It was only about 6.30am and to my horror, I found out that there was no ringing tone when I pressed the bell outside the gates. I tried to call a few people on their handphone, but they are either switched off or could not be reached. I really do not know what to do outside the gate… sitting, squating , standing… watching cars go by… looking at the ants and saying mantras to them… walking here and there…I caught two taxis and asked for their number in case no one came…hahaha… The real problem came when I had to use the toilet… my stomach rumbled…. Oh my goodness! Am I going to just poo in the public drain? How? Thank goodness Jesus came and bless me. I did not know the house a few doors away was a church, but I just walked a bit further… hoping to meet someone who could let me use their toilet. Then I came to the church and they had just opened their doors about then. How lucky! So, I was able to use their toilet... and showered there too. Before I left the church, I just went inside the hall and said my thanks to Jesus for coming to my help when I needed it. A short while later at about 8am, someone from LDC came … and the gate was finally opened and I could enter. Boy, was I glad! I later learned from William that he had switched off the bell the day before. That was why there was no sound when I pressed it. Osel-la thought that she could not hear the ringing because they were inside their rooms.


LDC’s gompa is always spectacularly beautiful. The throne was especially magnificent to behold. It was arrange in such a way that the Singaporean delegation sat on one side, and those from Penang at another side. And the public and members of LDC sat about right in front. The committee members of LDC was there too… I do not know all of them but certainly Lillian Too, MK Sen and wife, Juanita, Chung Han, William and others were there too. Of course, the Venerables were there too – Geshe-la, Dechen-la, Osel-la, Ven. Sonam, as well as the Geshe-la from ABC and other attendants. I was seated just right behind Lillian Too and one other lady I forgot the name. And I was also seating near Leng Leng, Chee Hin, as well as Eillian and his husband. When Khenrinpoche Lama Lhundrup was ushered into the gompa, I felt he was like a Buddha walking in. I felt a small tear of joy in the corner of my eyes when he reached at the top at his throne and stood there for a moment to arrange his robes. There was a light at the top of his head and it must be that impact or maybe it was the purification I had waiting outside the gate…whatever, at that time, the feeling in me was of tremendous bliss erupting. For that fleeting moment, I was looking at a BUDDHA! WOW!! Just WOW!!

Another such moment came a short while later. I was waiting in line after the dance of the 5 dakinis and their offerings (The dance was spectacular and something I have not seen before – great performance!). Osel-la allowed me to hold one of the last of the 8 precious objects, to be offered to Venerable Khenrinpoche. When it reached my turn, I reminded myself to see him as a Buddha. I bowed my head down and he touched my head. He put a kata over my head and I felt so “kam tong” (“touched” in hokkien). I cried and wept that I would have the chance to meet both Kyabje Lama Zopa and Khenrinpoche, and their precious teachings. As I was wiping away my tears, when I closed my eyes, there was this halo of light around an image of a Buddha silhouette, just like what we see during an eclipse of the sun. There is this simmering light around it but all darkness within. At that time, I knew that it was because of our delusions that we cannot see our gurus as a Buddha completely in all their splendour and glory. To see even a small glimpse of it is considered a blessing. I also remember the story of Asanga whom Maitreya told him that he had visited the latter a few times. But Asanga did not see Maitreya, instead he saw ordinary people. One was trying to wipe a mountain or something, right? And the last was that of a dog infested by maggots. It was only after wiping all his delusions that he could see Maitreya as Maitreya.

Before I left KL, I had a private audience with Khenrinpoche to obtain his blessings. I returned to Penang in Chee Hin’s car. So it was a wonderful occasion and which I will always remember. Oops…not quite point form/notes format. :)


When you find yourself with a long hard beak
And black feathers and a tail on your body
WOE! Shiver with fear…you are no longer human
For you have been reborn as a crow!

When you find yourself with an ugly snout
And fat juicy meat fit for the dining table
WOE! Shiver with fear…you are no longer human
For you have been reborn as a pig!

When you find your limbs all gone
Having a long tongue and body covered with scales
WOE! Shiver with fear…you are no longer human
For you have been reborn as a snake!

When your belly grows big as a drum
And your neck and mouth become very tiny
WOE! Shiver with fear…you are no longer human
For you have been reborn as a hungry ghost!

When you find all around you burning with ravaging fire
And despite howling with extreme pain, you are still unable to die
WOE! Shiver with fear…you are no longer in our human world
For your resident now is in HELL!

When you become all these, it’s too late… too late!
No matter how much you beg and scream for help…
You have lost your precious human body!
Woe befalls you for endless eons if you do not recognize
The human body as more precious than even a wish-fulfilling jewel!

Written on 26 Nov 2007 5.15pm
after much contemplation on Lam Rim on daily basis.

Now I understand how the Great Masters manage to write
so many "songs of realisations". Realisation here means "the understanding
that fuses and connects with the heart; not just intellectual understanding" as
per the meaning mentioned by Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche. It doesnot mean
enlightenment either.Is this my song of realisation then? It is IF I can
maintain the realisation. :)