Saturday, May 30, 2009

Buddhist Pinball Game

I didnot know that there is such a game available in the internet designed with Buddhist graphics and inserted with Buddhist messages. Really cool! I just found out there is a pinball game where you try to hit the "Dana", "Sila" and "Bhavana" at the top side of the screen with the "ball". It is quire fun actually and my score was about 84,500 the first try. And there is even a "Global Score List". When your game has ended, and your final score displayed, there was a flash of Buddhist message on the screen. Mine showed a quote from Acharya Nagarjuna from "Letter from a Friend". Check it out. Get your kids to play this game and learn a thing or two about Buddhism at the same time.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Zen or Tibetan Buddhism?

I once asked my Zen Master this quetion: whether I should practice Zen or Tibetan Buddhism? Guest what he answered?

He said:

"Don't Know is before thinking;
Before thinking is Clear Mind;
Clear Mind is Moment to Moment JUST DO IT.
If you make something, which means Zen and Tibetan Buddhism,
Already you have wrong way.
So you must JUST DO IT moment to moment.
That is your way."

I have the fortune to have some private moments with this Zen Master to receive meditation teachings direct from him. Unfortunately, my little brain "don't know" about it... too stupid perhaps to understand. But... now looking back, I realised that indeed, I didnot have to choose. Now I have a little bit of understanding what he meant by "Just do it". I think so. I hope so. Whatever way it is, the important thing is you need to have the blessings of your Guru. Anyway, I was not really too deep into Zen in the first place, and my karma with Tibetan Buddhism was fast catching up with me then. Now I am completely submerged by it... Hahaha... LOL!! But I shall always appreciate what he taught me.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

No demand, No supply

Referring to these reports:-

I think that people who are against vegetarianism have no moral locus standi to say "No demand, therefore no supply" when it comes to animal liberation. It's because they are not applying the same principle when it comes to their food. Hypocrites.

For further comments, please refer to my updates in the previous blogposts entitled "Animal Liberation" especially the part on "Guidance from Jalavahana".

Thursday, May 21, 2009

Lama Zopa Rinpoche blessing the beingsin the ocean in Santa Cruz, CA

The reason I put forth all those questions in my "statement" was because I wanted you to reflect on them and think. Those questions are structured in such a way as to provide you with clues to the answer on how to practice animal lberation. In the process of thinking of those questions, I hope you could gain some true wisdom, which is your own and which would not have been possible if the answers are spoonfed all the time.

So, this video gives you another clue on how to do animal liberation. Not one animal was bought as you can see. And if you are a Theravadin, you can substitute those mantras by the "Vandana", "Tisarana" and "Tiratana Vandana".

Cheers! Please put your palms together and rejoice when you see the video.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Animal Liberation

A follower of one of the previously mentioned 'fundamentalist Theravadins' had this to say to a forum of Buddhists about animal liberation.

"Dear Friends,
previously every Wesak Day, Buddhist Maha Vihara, KL has conduct release of animal ceremony, then they stop doing it because after they see that it encourage more people to catch the animal to sell for Buddhist ceremony.
Metta to all"

The statement above points to sheer ignorance of the practice. But I cannot blame him because there are also Mahayanists who failed to grasp the purpose of doing it and how to go about doing it. I know because I heard this doubt in a VCD on animal liberation produced by Mahayanists available for free distribution. It says that even though it is a great practice, but there are some Buddhist masters who questioned it because of the catching of animals for such practice. It didnot give any solution to this but sowed the seeds of doubt in the minds of the viewers. Clearly someone need to clarify it. And I have clarified it before in my previous posts somewhere, but maybe I need to go through it again. We'll see.

Maybe I'll just write this: refer to the Golden Light Sutra for guidance on animal liberation. On second thoughts, if I donot reply, then others with lesser knwoeldge may think that the practice by Buddhist Maha Vihara was correct (i.e. in stopping the naimal liberation practice).

Actually what the vihara did does not reflect a proper understanding of this great practice. People just do not know how to do it anymore. People think it is just a matter of releasing animals from captivity and that’s it. There’s nothing more to it? If you think like that, then it makes sense for you to want to stop such practices.

But even if the animal is not caught, or after it is being released, but remain free in the wild, is it necessarily good? Is animal liberation just a matter of releasing an animal to be free from its cage? How long will it remain as an animal?

What are the chances of an animal dropping by a temple by its own free will to listen to the teachings or prayers and thereby planting good karma and enabling it to be released from its animal status? WHAT ARE YOU LIBERATING IT FROM?

There is more to animal liberation that what some Buddhists understand. If you do it properly, you do not even need to buy any animals. Everyday, everywhere you can do animal liberation.

The below explanation by Mahabodhiyana is appropriate.

In Response to Sahabat Alam Malaysia's letter on Animal Liberation
I am writting in response to the letter written by SM Mohd. Idris. But I have to warn that in the process of responding to him I have no choice but include some of the teachings of the Buddha, even if he is a muslim. It is necessary because animal liberation is a practice within the Buddhist tradition and it cannot be seen in a way divorced from the perspective of the Buddhist teachings. I am not trying to preach Buddhism to any non-Buddhist, and not interested to do so, but is only in respect of responding to the issue first raised by Ven. Dhammaratana.

When it comes to animal liberation, I seek guidance from the story told in one of the Buddha's previous life. It tells about Jalavahana, the merchant's son and a school of fish. The ten thousand fish that lived in the forest pool were dying because someone upstream had blocked the water from flowing into the pool. Jalavahana tried to save the fishes from death. He got elephants to bring many gallons of water into the pool and prevented the fishes from death. For me, that was the first type of animal liberation, i.e. the conventional type. It consists of saving animals from cruelty, death, abuse, etc, etc etc. This is having compassion for animals and helping them stay as animals.

So, what else did Jalavahana did? He was not satisfied with that level of animal liberation. He stepped into the pool and called upon the Buddha's Name several times and let the name pass into the ears of the fishes. It's just like how mantras function. Whoever recites the Buddha's name, or mantra, and whatever he touches (i.e. the water in the pool), also will have some impact, no matter how little. Hence, the fishes and whatever that lives in the pool and surrounding also benefited from that "connection" with the Buddha's name. And then what happend? All the fishes died the next day.

So, you can see how contrasting these two actions resulted in. The first, saved the animals from death and keep the animals as animals. The second, causes the animals to die but ended their birth as animals and instead were reborn as gods in the heaven realms. Coming to the question: what are we liberating them from? Consider the answer from these 2 types of actions of Jalavahana and the results of each.

Do you want to keep your pets as animals forever? Or, help them achieve a better rebirth? The practice of animal liberation is not about reciting Buddha's name and then killing them. No, defintiely not.
You still need to take care not to release animals into the improper environment, make sure the ecology is not affected, and other such concerns by the animal rights groups, the environmentalist groups, etc. However, having taken care of these concerns, if you do the prayers properly, and if the animals manage to accumulate enough positive karma, you will find that the animals may die, not due to any cruelty at all from your side. But it could die in many ways from its own previous karma. It could die immediately, the next day, next week, whatever...basically its life span as an animal had been shortened due to the good karma from the blessings by the holy objects. Those people from the animal rights group will probably blame Jalavahana for the fishes death, but we, Buddhists believe in rebirth and being reborn as an animal is nothing pleasant. And the story goes on to tell us, that Jalavahana had a dream in which the angels (previously fishes) showered flowers upon him and thanked him for ending their animal status.

Karma is a very complex thing and it is said that karma is even more difficult to understand compared to emptiness. Hence, you can conventionally take care of animals as best you can as suggested by these animal rights groups, as well as you can also help animals end their status as animals by enabling them to gain a future better rebirth by letting them listen to the Buddha's Name/sutras/mantras or by being near a holy object, blessed by holy objects, etc etc. If you just release these animals out, without reciting any prayers or without circumambulating it around Buddha images or stupas, then the longer term benefit associated with these holy objects will not be there. It will be just a conventional animal release act.

There is a video in youtube of Lama Zopa Rinpoche and his group blessing the animals in the ocean in Santa Cruz is an example of doing the ultimate animal liberation. The group used a plate with mantras written on it as well as small stupas with holy relics inside and hang these from a boat while dragging them along as they cruised. So, instead of calling it "conventional animal liberation" and "Ultimate animal liberation", we can also call it " short-term or immediate animal liberation" and "long-term animal liberation" (because the practice of animal liberation helps them in the longer term).

While it was good for Ven. Dhammaratana and Sahabat Alam Malaysia to point out the concerns for doing "short-term animal liberation", we must not forget to benefit them in the longer term too. Hence, it should not be totally abolished. As a local Malay proverb goes, you donot want to burn the entire bedroom because of one mosquitoe, do you? Instead, the Buddhist groups intent on doing animal release should address those concerns raised by Venerable Dhammaratana and Sahabat Alam Malaysia and other NGOs.

Other religions may not bother so much of animals for the next rebirth, and they may not even believe in rebirth, but we Buddhists certainly should view the compassion for animals from a longer time perspective. Put yourself in the animal's position. Yes, if I were an animal, I would not want to be put into cages, I donot want to be cruelly treated. I donot want to be caught and traded. I will not understand what I am doing or what others are doing for me. And I just go by my animal instincts. But yet, deep in my heart, I want to be reborn as a human or god again. I donot want this life as an animal. In the hearts and minds of animals, the number one wish they have is that they they donot want to remain a second longer as animals. And helping them make connections with the Buddhadhamma is the responsibility of all Buddhists. Letting them make connections with the Buddhadhamma is important. Ultimately I would say it is even more important than their miserable lives as animals.

The main objective of this practice is not just to care for them in the conventional way, but enabling them to plant good karma so that they can end their animal karma soonest possible and preventing them from future rebirth as animals by establishing them in the Buddhist path of cultivation in future lives. So how could any right thinking Buddhist suggest doing away completely with the practice of benefitting these animals? Buddhists just need to address the issues and do it properly. Animals being animals, you try your best to care for them and not being careless, but yet there is only so much humans can do to protect them as animals. Ultimately if you are seriously compassionate about them, END THEIR KARMA AS ANIMALS AND ENABLE THEM TO PLANT A SEED OF CONNECTION WITH THE THREE JEWELS. That's the Buddhist stand. That is having bodhicitta.

(note: "end their karma" and "end their lives" are two different things altogether. When an animal has exhausted its animal karma, its life will end. But when an animal has died, but has not yet exhausted its animal karma, it will be reborn again as an animal until its animal karma is exhausted. Hence, this is what is meant by "end their karma as animal". I had to clarify this point, otherwise, some people will twist and turn what I meant)

- letter by Mahabodhiyana (dated 23 May 2009)

Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Theravadin fundamentalism?

Venerable Dhammavuddho was formerly known as Bhikkhu Hye. Among Mahayana circles, he was known as a staunch anti-Mahayana monk. He asserts the Theravada teachings as the original Buddha's teachings. And all others are false teachings.

Venerable Boon Kean told me that he was "indoctrinated" by the late Reverent Suvanno, a popular monk at Lunas. Reverent Suvanno was notorious for going around telling people that Kuan Yin does not exist, Amitabha Buddha is false, ...that all these Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are a figment of the Mahayana imaginations.

There was also another anti-Mahayana by the name of Ven. Phra Hoe, but it seems he had mellowed. But I really don't know.

So, these few monks are the ones notorious and regarded as such by those within the Mahayana circles for leading the "crusade" against Mahayana Buddhism. They did not just started this recently but had been around since the eighties. I am sure there are more people like them slowly but surely being influenced. Venerable Aggacitta could be one of them too. But he is not that direct. I don't know. We'll see.

In the newspapers, we often read about muslim fundamentalists. Now, are these Buddhists Therevadin fundamentalist (taking this word to mean "extremists")? You judge. I have no more to say.

Friday, May 8, 2009

United We Stand, Divided We Fall

re-edited (about 12.15am, & again 9.20 am on Wesak Day, 11.05pm 10 May '09) You are advised to read it again from time to time. I am changing the title from "Happy Wesak, Happy Mother's Day" to "United we stand, Divided we fall".

I would like to take this opportunity on the coming blessed Wesak Day as well as Mother’s Day to reflect on the Buddha’s teachings as well as think of sentient beings, who are all like our mothers – very kind.


Some anti-Mahayana persons had questioned the authenticity of Mahayana Buddhists texts, doubting that Nagarjuna or anyone else could actually go to the Naga realm, implying Mahayanists who follow vegetarianism is incorrect and are following Devadatta’s wrong teachings, etc etc. They are implying that, basically, the Mahayana Buddhism is a degenerate form of Buddhism. What these people do not realize is that the centralize message that forms the core of Mahayana is Bodhicitta. These groups of people can prove all they want about the falsity of the sutras and texts, but they have not been able to prove the falsity of the main message of Mahayana, i.e. the truth of Bodhicitta. They can prove the falsity of the “forms”, but never the "substance".

Pure meat?
To prove my point that these groups do not understand Bodhicitta, take the issue of “pure meat” for example. Those who buy supermarket meat think that they are partaking “pure meat” but they forgot that other sentient beings need to do the killing for them. So, while they eat “pure meat”, others have to suffer the bad karma for them. So, this is exactly meant by the lack of bodhicitta, if you eat the food without reflecting on the kindness of all sentient beings who were killed and/or involved in the producing of the food, then you lack bodhicitta. You justify your pure meat but lacks compassion for the butcher. In your heart, you only have this thought, “Who ask him to be a butcher/fisherman/etc?” So, you continue to eat your so-called “pure meat” without thinking of the karma that others are continually making. There is no effort at all to liberate these beings. Indeed, if you cannot forego meat, or the animal is already dead and chopped up for your meals, at least we must have the heart to think of their kindness and return their kindness by reciting mantras and dedicating to them the merits before we eat them.

Don't waste dead meat...bless it!
In the story of the Buddha counseling his sangha to eat the meat prepare by the Jain benefactor, that was exactly what the Buddha must be thinking. It is because the animal’s meat has already been chopped up and if the Buddha and his sangha do not eat it, the animal will not be able to benefit from it. By letting the monks eat them, especially Buddha, the animal that was killed will be reborn in the Heavens and be Emperors/Kings for many lifetimes. This is another perspective that some Buddhist groups do not realize. They only think “oh, the Buddha said that Meat is okay, meat is okay… so let’s eat!” But nowadays Theravadin monks donot regularly go on alms round anymore. They have regular cooks at their temple. And even if they do, generally the public knows that they DO eat meat. So, they may buy meat and cook especially for them. While this monks say they do not see and hear of the animal being killed, the poor butcher and the cook have to suffer the bad karma. These type of Buddhist do not think of these people at all if they donot know how to recite mantras and prayers back for these people.

It's not quite "dead"!
The other thing about meat is that when animals are cut up/ slaugthered, its consciousness do not necessarily leave its body immediately. It's just like us, human. Our consciousness takes a few hours to days to leave the body and then up to 49 days to take rebirth into the next body. So when you fry or deep fry fish for example, imagine the unspeakable pain it has to tolerate and yet nobody can hear it scream in pain (since its body is already physically dead). It is said that if you have true bodhicitta in your heart, you could almost hear the screams of pain of all the sentient beings around you. Could the anti-Mahayana critics hear those sub-conscious screams? Obviously not. To them, its "pure meat".

Vegetarianism - better good/lesser evil
Yes, vegetarianism may be killing the insects and earth worms, etc but

- it is only indirectly killing, and
- it is the vegetables that is eaten, not the worms, insects that got killed. This is compared to eating meat of the animal directly by killing it.

Benefitting all regardless of meat or vegetables
And regardless of eating meat or vegetables, Mahayanists are supposed to have the heart to rescue all beings from samsara by making short mantras and prayers to benefit them before eating it. This is especially true for Vajrayanists who recite the meat mantra or Medicine Buddha mantra to bless the animal that had been taken its meat as food. Of course, you do not kill it purposely for the food. But if it is already dead, you might as well benefit the animals and other sentient beings that got involved in the food.

Vajrayana position
But there is such a thing as “pure meat” and this is the minimum level that the Buddha sets for his doctrine of compassion and non-killing. In the alms round, the food is not chosen, but given by the offerer. So, that is pure meat. It is not so pure if you have to buy the meat and cook it yourself. It is also not so pure meat, if you purposely go to the Seafood restaurant and order meat-based food especially if it is exotic food like Lobster, Fish head Curry, etc. Nevertheless, if you are a Vajrayanist, you can still take anything into your path and transform it into your practice. For example, they can recite mantras to benefit the animals as was mentioned. But even for Vajrayanist, ordering exotic seafood is a bit too much, I think. And Buddhists of other traditions should be aware that different Vajrayana groups have different emphasis. Due to this some Tibetan lineages emphasise more vegetarianism than others.

Bodhicitta in action
Let me share a true incident. There was once when we ate dinner at a vegetarian restaurant with Lama Zopa Rinpoche. The time it took to finish the prayer and dedication was even longer than the eating time. The food became cold already when we finished dedicating to all sentient beings. Inconceivable compassion! That was bodhicitta in action, even for vegetarian food! I was there, so I know this for a fact. Is this degenerate Buddhism? Far from it.

Inclusive Religion
This minimum level of pure meat was set by the Buddha, and not vegetarianism so that more sentient beings are able to be included in the Buddhist path. It proves that Buddhism is an inclusive religion and not exclusive. The Buddha’s great wisdom knows that not all sentient beings can be vegetarian, whereas it was possible at least for even animals (at the zoo for example) to be given meat that the animal did not have to kill for food (although most carnivorous animals in the wild have to kill for food). However, in certain limited ways, it was still possible for humans and others to have pure meat as food. And anything better than that, such as being vegetarians is a plus point. And the levels that we can go are limitless, i.e. from eating pure meat, to being meatless, to abstaining meat and eggs and dairy products as well, to total vegans (including not using animal products such as leather bags, etc). There is also the way of the Jainism where they close their mouth for fear of breathing in small bugs and killing them in the process. And they also make it a point to look at their seats if there are any small insects before they sit. Some people may think this is extreme but actually these are the whole spectrum of practice that we can adopt. It depends on how you use it together with bodhicitta. So, Buddhism can be practice by anyone from the lowest level to the highest level. Imagine if the Buddha had set vegetarianism in the Vinaya, the Buddhadharma would not have been able to “reach” sentient beings as effectively as if it were not. That was the wisdom of the Buddha in rejecting Devadatta’s proposals, not because the latter’s proposals were of themselves bad ideas.

In the entire spectrum of Buddhism, there is something suitable for every sentient being.

Some people may wonder why the Lotus Sutra actually regarded Devadatta in a much better light than what he was. After all, in the Buddha's time, he did attempted to kill the Buddha many times. He did this not for one or two years but many many years. And to make matters worse, he was related to the Buddha. He was a constant thorn in the flesh, so to speak. So, why did the Lotus Sutra regarded him in such a positive manner? That was to demonstrate the Mahayana principle of regarding even our worst enemy as being most kind to us. The Buddha was actually teaching us how to handle similar situations in our life. After all, he had to bear with Devadatta too. The Tibetan Buddhist masters such as Geshe Chekawa, Langri Tangpa and others picked up this principle and taught us very effectively on this important point. It's the teachings inside the Sutras that are important to us, not so much who wrote it or where it originated.

Hence the Buddha taught us bodhicitta by how he handled Devadatta and other beings. In fact, all of the teachings in Mahayana are based on some principles found in Sakyamuni Buddha's life or his teachings.

Please critic the Madhyamika, not the Naga realms!
It is not how the Sutras came about that is important, compared to the message that it contains. And these people who criticize the originality of the Mahayana scriptures have never been able to effectively demonstrate the same level of Bodhicitta as those they are criticizing. Indeed, they do not even comprehend what is Bodhicitta. They think it is similar to compassion. It is not just compassion. There is more to it.

Also, although they contended that Nagarjuna never went to the Naga realm to obtain the Prajna Paramita Sutras, but they fail to effectively prove the Madhyamika concept of Emptiness as incorrect. Why attack the form, instead of the substance of the matter? If they have any ability, they should refute the theories of Madhyamika and back in black and white the arguments with supporting facts. And publish it for all to see.

Deriving benefit from "forms"
There was an occasion during a Wesak Day Procession that I attended during my schooling days. A close friend of mine showed me a bodhi tree leaf. He said to me that it was from the actual Buddha's Bodhi Tree at Bodhigaya. I immediately became excited and believed in it instantly. And then later, he told me the truth. It was taken from a local "bodhi" tree. My heart sank and I told my friend how stupid I was. But he said something about the mind being the forerunner of all things and that if there is faith, there will be blessings. So he told me about the story about the son who brought back a dog bone and told his mother that it was the Buddha's relic. I am sure you have heard of this story, so I won't repeat it. In the end, due to the faith of his mother, the dog bone eventually turned into genuine relic.

Similarly, some of the stories told in the Mahayana scriptures may seem too incredible or too incredulous. But if you have the faith, it is possible to derive much blessings. And even then, very often the stories does point to an inner meaning. You can take it that not everything you read was meant to be taken literarily. This is the way to derive benefit from the "forms" even though the "substance" is more important between the two.

Effectiveness of Mahayana teachings
So, what I am saying here is that the key messages of Mahayana have never been proven as incorrect by any non-Mahayana Buddhists. And at the end of the day, what proves a teaching as genuine is that there are people who have tasted the fruits of the Mahayana path as taught therein. Not necessarily talking of achieving enlightenment here, but could be something simple as experiencing the effectiveness of mantras, blessings by deities, etc etc etc. There is also the fact that in Mahayana and its sub-tradition of Vajrayana have many tools to help sentient beings such as mantras, dharanis, myriad of Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, their pujas, and other such tools. Although these tools are not of themselves important, these tools are necessary to those who practise bodhicitta. These tools are often referred to as "skillful means". If you are not equipped with these skillful means, how are you going to help the myriad types of sentient beings - each being with a unique situation?

Objective of this article
I am writing this not to convert anyone into Mahayana, rather it is meant to restore anyone's faith who might have been affected recently by comments in the internet about the status of Mahayana sutras and other related issues. I took quite a few days to think and write this article actually, drafting it over and over using my knowledge and experience in all 3 schools of Buddhism. And throughout it all, I sought the blessings and guidance from Sakyamuni Buddha to guide me at all times so that I don't write the wrong things. However, if there is anything wrong, I stand to be corrected.

Harmony among Buddhists
I am not sure if what I wrote make any sense, but in learning Buddhism, we must try to focus more on the substance of the teachings and not so much the outward forms of it, even though the "forms" part does have a role to play. After all, bodhicitta is in the attitude. It is in the way we talk, act and think. Looking at the confusion of many people in trying to learn Buddhism, I was really lucky in having learned but not get caught in the confusion. To be fair, there was some in the beginning, but I was very open-minded. I was not overly critical when I was learning the different schools. I was also fortunate to have good virtuous teachers and friends to guide me. I always advise people to stick to learning one particular form of Buddhism if you think you'll get confuse by all the various forms. And once you have decided on one, do not criticise the others.
After all, we all believe in the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha and we all strive to end Samsaric existence. So, we should be harmonise as Buddhists and respect one another.

The fall of Buddhism in India
According to "The Story of Tibet- Conversations with the Dalai Lama" written by Thomas Laird in which His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama was interviewed, he was asked about the decline of Buddhism in the original land of its birth, i.e. India. According to His Holiness, he had read a study of what happened and there were generally 3 causes.

i) the patrons of the monasteries were themselves attracted to non-Buddhist traditions.
ii) the incursion of invaders of another faith
iii) and the point most emphasised by His Holiness is that the Buddhists monks did not adhere to the precepts but engage in drinking and sex. The indisclipline among the Sangha had caused the public to also lose their respect for the Sangha. The lack of unity and respect for one another had caused external factors to hasten the disappearance of dharma in India. The Buddha was spot-on when he predicted about the decline of the dharma as pointed out in the Sutta Nipata. Hence, there are definite lessons to be learned from history on the need for Buddhists of all major traditions to be united. (Note: Cults are, however, a different thing altogether).

United we stand, divided we fall
It is in this light that Venerable Boon Kean advised that if we are too critical of the other schools of Buddhism, it only fuels our own pride. He said that we should self-introspect and put our energy instead attaining the fruits of Enlightenment. He pointed out that all schools of Buddhism is similar in that they recognise these as the teachings of all Buddhas:

"Avoid evil, Do all good, Purify the Mind"

He said that we must purify our own mind first, instead of criticising the other schools of Buddhism. He reminded Buddhists with this universal advice: "UNITED WE STAND, DIVIDED WE FALL." I agree totally with Venerable Boon Kean and all Buddhists should take heed.

Concluding Remarks
I take this opportunity to urge all to think of the kindness of all sentient beings on this Mother's Day and Wesak Day 2009. We can start this with the food we eat. Transform every moment into the Buddha’s path. I wish every one well and happy!

I shall end this with a verse that came to my mind:-

"Wielding the Vajra pestle,
Banishing hordes of demons,
The false returns to the true.
No Vajrayana,
No Mahayana,
No Theravada,
Only the Buddha vehicle. "


- written by: Mahabodhiyana
Note: this is the name I adopted when I took the oath of Bodhicitta in front of the Buddha together with some friends many years back. There was an interesting story to this event but I won't go into it for now.

Sunday, May 3, 2009

Three Essential Roots

It was Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche who said in his recent lecture at the Caring Complex that we must find our Root Guru, Root Yidam and Root Protector. That was the first time I have heard of a need to have a Personal protector. We have all heard of Root Guru but not everyone knows there is such thing as Root Yidam, i.e. the yidam that is most suitable for your practice. Even lesser people know about Root Protector, i.e. the protector that will smoothen the path of practice and protect you in your spiritual endeavour. In some tradition, the third root is "Dakini". Essentially, both Dakini and Dharma Protectors are root activites of the Buddhas but Dakinis are more hidden than dharma protectors. Without these three roots, our tantric practice will never be successful. With the recent encounter with my protector, and the blessings I obtained from his statue, my three roots are now complete. It's the same as the Root Guru, when our karma is ripe, our Root Yidam and Root Protector will come "knocking on our doors" (just as mine did when I dreamt of him).

So, here is an explanation of the three roots (sometimes referred to as "Inner Refuges") : -

The lama or guru: The root of energy
The guru is your actual human contact with awakened mind. The energy of the guru is inspiring, challenging, and sustaining. In his or her presence you feel directly the effect of awakened mind. That presence can and does awaken something in you, a sense of being that is different from the functioning of habituated personality. The explicit recognition of this possibility is the essence of empowerment. When it is clear in you, you have few choices but to travel the path.

Refuge in the guru means not only your own guru but the gurus of the transmission lineage since each of them plays a role in this awakening of our own potential. As your recognition of mind nature deepens, refuge in the guru also comes to mean taking refuge in mind nature, your own mind as your guru. See Kyergongpa's song on Recognizing Mind as the Guru.

The yidam:The root of attainment
The yidams, meditation deities, are expressions of awakened mind. In meditation practice, you identify with the particular expression, awake compassion (Avalokiteshavara), for instance, or awake purity (Vajrasattva). By reorganizing your experience of what you are and of the world around this expression of wakefulness, the knots of habituation and confusion loosen and fall apart. In effect, you cease to be you and you become the yidam, with all its understanding, capability, and qualities. Thus, the yidam is the root of attainment, the attainment of free knowing and the ability to live awake.

The protector: The root of activity
The protectors are further expressions of awakened mind, how your experience of wakefulness arises in the world around you. As you practice, wakefulness manifests as reminders to be awake. The constant play of wakefulness creates conditions that support your practice. At the same time, it averts conditions that disrupt your efforts to wake up. The activity can be very direct and dramatic or very subtle and seemingly inconsequential. However, the more messages you miss, the more forceful the reminders. Consequently, this manifestation of awakened mind is often depicted in wrathful forms that represent the terrific power and immediacy of awakened mind when it manifests directly in your world of experience.


Friday, May 1, 2009

My Protector Statue

Well.. this is the image of the statue that I bought.

The description of the statue:

Japanese vintage mid Showa period c1960 bronze statue "okimono" of a Buddhist temple "Ni'o" Protector. These fierce guardians can be seen at the gates of most temples in Japan. This Ni'o protector comes with its original Japanese cedar wood signed box.

Condition: excellant, presentation box is coming apart in the front.
Dimensions: 11" (18cm) x 4 1/2" (11cm) x 3 1/4" (18cm).