Wednesday, February 25, 2009

'Days of Miracles' Tashi Delek

At yesterday's dharma sharing with Sister Lim Pao Yen, I find it interesting that Sister Pao Yen repeated a point made by Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche in early February. The fact that this point was made only weeks after Rinpoche said it, makes the point even more important. At least it seems that way to me, because normally when points are stressed again and again, it indicates its importance. Sister Pao Yen clearly did not know that Rinpoche already made that point during his teaching earlier, so it was by mere coincidence (and it’s auspiciousness) that the same points were stressed. Moreoever, Sister Pao Yen is not of the Gelugpa lineage. She is a devout student of Jamgong Kontrul (Karma Kagyu lineage). She had spent the last 20 years visiting and serving at Pullahari Temple, Jamgong Kontrul's monastery.

The point was: Other than the gross or outer gurus that we have, our ultimate guru is none other than our own holy mind.

Sister Pao Yen said that the real guru is within our mind. She’s basically saying the same thing. Rinpoche urged us to find our ultimate guru and realize our Buddha nature. Rinpoche said that if we can constantly see the Buddhas everywhere on every single atom (even in dirty places such as toilet), just like it is mentioned in the King of Prayers, then we have realized our Ultimate Guru. Sister Pao Yen said if we can actually perceive (the word is “perceive”, not just “believe” or “visualize”) our conventional guru as a Buddha for every single moment, then we have realized Buddhahood. She also urged us to check ourselves whether we are merely attached to our guru devotion or do we have genuine guru devotion. It’s the first time I have heard of someone say these words publicly: attachment to guru devotion. It’s something to think about and check ourselves. It’s something like what I said earlier about merits – i.e. the more we try to grasp water, the less we will scoop up water.

Another interesting point she mentioned was that sometimes the guru may purposely create klesas (afflictions) for his students as a test and/or to drive home a learning point, or to clear other klesas. Using poison to fight poison, so to speak.

Since the same message (and other messages) had been driven home to us, then it is up to us to make good out of it.

The fact that the message of both Sister Pao Yen and Rinpoche is the same, demonstrated what she was trying to say that "the View is only one". She was referring to "view" as in the Kagyu's teachings on "View, Meditation and Action". "View, Meditation and Action" are common in the Kagyu school and not so much taught within Gelug. She said that but I wonder whether she realised that within the different systems of schools, when you study the deeper teachings on Emptiness, there are subtle differences between them. For us, it may be subtle differences only. But for the great masters of the past, even though it seems subtle to us, these had resulted in intense debates over the centuries. That's why you have "The two truths debate" and other similar debates between different masters of different schools.

If you ask me, it is because of this ultimate interpretation of "Emptiness", that we should choose which school or lineage we should stay in. In other words, it is not so much the lineage/schools, or which lineage our guru comes from, rather finally we have to choose which ultimate view of Emptiness that we subscribe to. For me, there is no need to stick to one guru just to maintain the purity of the lineage. After all, Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche also had gurus from other lineages. And so does Lama Tsongkhapa, he had many teachers even though in the Lam Rim Chen Mo he thought that in the present age people should have limited teachers. His Holiness the Dalai Lama had also received teachings from other lineages as well. Purity of lineage is not as important as purity of your mind. Remember that the Ultimate Guru comes from your own Holy Mind. That was the message by Kyabje Zopa Rinpoche and since I was receptive to now the same message again from Sister Pao Yen, I take it that I am getting a lot of guidance from this Ultimate Guru of mine. And all my previous gurus and Root Guru ultimately all comes from my Ultimate Guru in my mind. But I cannot ever publicly disagree with anyone who urges people to listen to only their own guru and stick to their lineages. How could I? If I were them, that's perhaps what I would say too. But if you know my previous karma, and where my spiritual background came from, you would not think I had been unfaithfully and like a "monkey" jumping from lineage tree to lineage tree. Listening to one guru to the next. People generally advise others to be devoted to one guru because then they can ripen the fruits of devotion and practice. I am a different "ballgame" altogether. I listen to teachings of the Buddha since I was young and I had formal education in all schools of Buddhism. I had authentic Masters and teachers who taught me different aspects of the path. For me, I feel I had a spiritual purpose to fulfill. I am learning all these different schools of Buddhism so that I can benefit sentient beings more extensively and so that I can become as wise as Sakyamuni Buddha was in devising different teachings for different types of sentient beings. If you donot know teachings from other schools, how are you going to be a qualified spiritual liaison for Sakyamuni Buddha, for example? I had taken this vow a long time ago: " No matter how many dharma doors are, I vow to learn them all". I donot purposely seek to learn all "dharma doors". No, instead it was my karma that enabled me to learn all these dharma doors previously without any conflict of teachings or reduced devotion to a previous teacher. For example, even though I subscribe to Tsongkhapa's Lam Rim path and his emptiness view, I am no less devoted to my Drikung Kagyu teacher. Otherwise, how would I be able to write him a long life prayer? It's very difficult for me to explain and that's why generally I donot explain at all. I will leave it to my Ultimate Guru to judge. Bottom line is I know what I am doing and I know where I am heading. If you donot, you cannot follow my path and example. Better stick to one guru and one lineage.

All of the three Masters I mentioned were able to take the best spiritual practices from all lineages and syntesize these into their own teachings and combine different lineages. As a result, they were able to benefit sentient beings extensively. I come from the corporate world and I know very much about "best practices". I belong to this category of people. So, in this respect, I beg to differ from the view of Sister Pao Yen... but I will never say she is wrong. And she is not. It's just that my spirtual history" is kinda unique.

I dedicate this sharing to all of us in this forum for all our temporal and ultimate happiness and I join you in rejoicing over the Buddha’s deeds of miracles in this Auspicious Losar 2009!

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