Monday, May 12, 2008


Over the weekend, I managed to talk to Venerable Boon Keng of Ang Hock See temple. Actually I went there just to while my time away but ended up talking to him for quite a while. Since I was there, I thought I might as well ask him about my job situation. I told him I donot know when my company will foldover.

I told him times are very uncertain and difficult nowadays with the inflation and food crisis, and natural disasters. He said that life is like that. He said I should do the Kuan Yin loving-kindness (metta) practice daily and he gave me the piece of practice sheet. I find that the four immeasurable thoughts practice is much more profound since it incorporates individual responsibility. And since it also includes this metta practice, I think I will stick to doing the four immeasurable thoughts daily as I had been doing. Anyway, he said I should be patient and wait for other jobs since my company had not asked me to leave. He said that in consideration of my wife’s situation and he said if I go to KL, I still need to rent a place and all the other troubles that go with it. However, I thought to my self, “ do I still have the luxury of choice to wait for another job?”

He said that the problems I am facing is actually a small problem compared to the problems he has to take care of. Not only his own problems, but he has to take care of his devotees’ problems, his temple trustees’ problem, his “former” family problems, etc. He said that if a person has no “kungfu” then he will not be able to handle his scope of problems. O-yes, I believe he has some “kungfu”. There was another lady from YBAM who came and sat opposite me. And Ven. Boon Keng was talking to us about all these problems he had to face. He said that everyone wishes that everyday would go smoothly for him/herself. Like in sitting meditation, everyone wishes everything to go peaceful all the time. But sometimes your meditation is smooth, sometimes not. He said to the lady that, in reality there will be disturbance always and we will think of all the problems we have during meditation, such as thinking about this and that, including homosexuality, office politics, and other life problems. Therefore, I knew he does have some “kungfu”. Life is so difficult to handle and that is why I am apprehensive of whether I will be able to handle the changes in KL that is demanded of me if I were to decide to accept the KL job. Ven. Boon Keng then said that it is also because of life’s uncertainties that we have a chance to practice the Way. He is trying to advise me to embrace life’s many challenges and “ups and downs”. So, embrace it, don't fight it. Face it, no matter what comes.

Strangly these words are to resonate shortly later from the most unexpected source - The Wonderful Dharma Lotus Sutra.

After our conversation, I thought I might as well try asking him to teach the sutras, even though I know he is not so much into “technical” teachings. True enough, he said this is not his “thing”, but his disciple by the name of Kai Chou will do that in the future. He asked us to be patient. With that, I am happy I have done another “requesting the dharma teaching” from an actual bhikshu. His style is really in contrast to Ven. Master Hsuan Hua. He is so simple. Too simple perhaps that people sometimes take advantage of him. But his critics donot know him as well I do. He is a master for the common, unsophisticated men. For that, he remains my master and I have the deepest respect for him.

Before I leave the office, I usually go to the table where the free dharma books are. I saw a small booklet, “Guide to the Threefold Lotus Sutra”. I have never read this book before although I think I have seen a similar or expanded version by the same author that are available for sale, i.e. not for free distribution type. When I took it back to read it, it was such a revelation. I have gained so much wisdom from this little tiny guidebook. I did not think that I would gain such immediate benefits from requesting the teachings from a master (even though the master declined to teach). Still, the Buddha has his ways. Due to the merits from requesting the teachings in the yahoogroup as well as from Ven. Boon Keng, I have obtained precious teachings with regard the Lotus Sutra. Teachings that reinforce what Ven. Boon Keng advised me, teachings that teach me how to really dissolve my yidam into emptiness (because there is really no external Avalokiteshvara apart from our inate compassion) and other deeply profound teachings. Of course, I have heard/read from elsewhere that there is no external deity that you can find , but this time it hits me hard. So hard I could feel slight disbelief, and even shocked and frightened that there would be no Kuan Yin. Isn't it frightening that there is no motherly figure whom you can pray to and who can come to our rescue when you call upon her? O-yes, the thought is so scary. We will be there to fend for ourselves. But the teaching I got is that right beneath this uncertainties and frightful feeling, if we can focus more on compassion for others and do the necessary compassionate activity to help these people that needed help more than we do, think of the others who are worst than us, and rejoice for those in better condition than us, then right there - is born Kuan Yin. Kuan Yin will manifest when there is compassion and wisdom within us. To those who have faith, Kuan Yin is born from a believing mind. Other than that, there is no inherently existing solid Kuan Yin who dwells somewhere in the Western space. Kuan Yin actually dwells within the dharmakaya of compassion and loving-kindness. It is there that we have to find Kuan Yin. Same for other deities, and yeah, even the Buddha.

Another profound chapter is the Parable of the Magic City. It has many levels of meaning and I have heard of a few. But the booklet gave me the level of meaning I needed at this time when my mundane world and everything around me seems so difficult and uncertain. This chapter tells of a man leading a group of treasure seekers to a city of treasures. Along the way, his men got tired and wanted to give up. So this leader, who also is a magician, conjours an entire city for his men to rest and rejuvenate. It's as if they have arrived at their city of treasures. After getting the proper rest and seeing their spirits up again, the magician made the city disappear and told them the journey had not ended and there is more to go. After gaining their physical and mental strength, the men went on their journey with more confidence. The booklet compares the journey to our life's jouney...whatever we are journeying to , be it our career success, our family success, to be wealthy, to be successful in sports, etc etc and whatever the word "success" means to each and everyone of us. And when we face problems in life, we feel like giving up, right? I am sure all of us have faced this many many times. There will be many times when we are disheartened, lonely and sad. There will be times when we face tragic circumstances. We all want to avoid these ad tragic times. That's why we distract ourselves from all these unhappiness by drinking, and all sorts of modern day entertainment. We seek divination and fortune telling in order to choose the "better choice". Don't we always do that? But this "terrible" world is also a world replete with many good opportunities for "rest and rejuvenation". We are our own "magician", we conjour our own world. There's no magician outside of ourselves making the world for us. It is the same as what I mentioned above - there being no external deity pulling the strings like a puppet master. We will evetually realise that we ourselves are the puppet masters of ourselves. WE ARE THE DIRECTORS OF OUR SHOW. So, we should take ownership of the show and take responsibility to shape our own future and happiness. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas can merely provide guidance. Ultimately we save ourselves. (Note: with this explanation, I am actually reconciling the Mahayana's theory of "other-power" versus "self-power"; a topic often debated between most Pure Land Buddhists and Zen/others Buddhists). In another chapter of the Lotus Sutra, we shall see this "terrible world" is also a pure land when Sakyamuni Buddha transformed the Saha world into a Buddha land. In other words, how pure we see the world, is only a reflection of the state of our own mind.

This "magic city" is like the Buddha's teaching. After arming ourselves with more wisdom, and rejuvenating our slackened spirits with the dew of compassion, we should understake all activities in this world as if they are Bodhisattva activities. With this attitude, we will still face the same problems, the same people, the same "enemy and friends", i.e. the same world... BUT now with a different perspective and philosophy. With the renewed energy, we will be able to face whatever problems that come and yet be able to smile at the end of a tiring day.

Isn't this such a wonderful, profound teaching? WOW!

So, these are just some idea of the profoundness of the teachings that I got from the tiny book on the Wonderful Dharma Lotus Sutra. And all of this wonderfulness comes because I listened to Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche's advice to request teachings from our local teachers. But I still have not found out the meaning and explanation for the chinese words for Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. I intent to find out (if there is any).


I dedicate the merits of this teaching to the spread of the true dharma and for the happiness of all mother and father sentient beings! Thank you so much to Buddha and masters for your blessings! Thank you!

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