Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Signs of Effective Purification

One of the reasons I mentioned the "black sore" that developed a few days after my dorje khadro puja is that I think that it could be a sign. Even though on the face of it it seems like it was an unwholesome sign, it is actually a wholesome sign, in the sense that something unusually happened and bad dark blood did ooze out. After doing purification or repentance practices, Ven. Master Hsuan Hua taught that if wholesome signs appear, then it means that the repentance/ purification was effective and prayers were indeed heard by the Buddhas. But that doesnot mean we go seeking after all these signs after doing it. You just let it be. If it happens, it happens. If not, you just go on doing it. Or, KIV it for awhile, and resume another day when the mind is more sincere and peaceful. So, is the sore a "sign" or just another coincident "injury"? I leave that to you.

I learned this from the Chinese Buddhist Master, Ven. Master Hsuan Hua. Look at the attached quote from the document explaining the conditions of receving the lay bodhisattva precepts picked from their website. Read the below quote: -

If you break a major precept without having first renounced it, your entire precept substance (the power of upholding the precepts) is destroyed. You can take any precept again after receiving wholesome signs while doing your repentance. Did you break the precept and then receive wholesome signs while doing your sincere repentance?
(Answer truthfully, yes or no? If yes, please write them down in detail.)


Monday, July 27, 2009

5 days after first Dorje Khadro ngondro

I think it is best to post this as a separate post, rather than combine it with the previous one. Referring to my "clean diagnosis" in my previous blogpost, I was also suspicious that perhaps whatever bad things that could have came out from my diagnosis was "purified" last Wednesday (22 July 2009, the day of the esclipse of the sun when karma are magnified many times - good or bad). Something did happen 5 days after I did my first Dorje Khadro fire puja.

On that morning, a colleague told me the esclipse was over the previous night (Tuesday). So I was not worried and thought that I had missed the esclipse. Blissfully unaware that my colleague had misinformed me (what he thought was over actually happened in other parts of the world, but not over here) and that the ecslipse was to happen from 8.30am to 10am local time. So I was having my breakfast out in the open, exposed to the sun. It was hazy, due to the haze happening recently. So the sun didnot really look that clear anyway. After my breakfast, when I went back to my office and looke at the online news, I got a shock that the ecslipse of the sun was not over yet and the locals were adviced to stay indoors from 8.30 am (or was it 8am?) and not get yourself exposed to the sun. The fengshui consultant said 6 minutes of exposuire could translate to 6 months of bad luck. So this things are not only mentioned by Tibetan Buddhists, seems like Hindus and Taoists, and others also believed in the magnifying effect of ecslipses.

Anyway, what happened after that was even more shocking. I noticed that my left thumb had a black dot that gradually became larger. At first I thought it was a mole. But then I realised it cannot be because it wasn't there yesterday and anyway, it looked like there were liquid inside. Usually it is white or yellow in colour (colour of pus) but this is black. It grew to the size of a sesame seed and it is black too. I felt like there was a sesame seed under my skin. It was painless but when pressed, I could feel slight discomfort (because it was pressing against my flesh underneath it). I did not know whther to cut it off or see a doctor.I asked a few friends what they thought it was. One friend said it was mole. Another said perhaps I had a small cut and a splinter went inside and there was internal bleeding. I said I cannot remember getting any cuts. I would have been aware of it. This happened 5 days after I performed the Dorje Khadro puja.

Later I went to a pharmacy to get some oitment or something for that "growth" on my thumb. There was a pharmicist there and I thought they would know what it was. He concurred with one of my friends and said it was internal bleeding. He advised me to get a pin, sterilise it and prick on the "growth" to let the "liquid" flow out. Strangely it was not like pus, where the yellowish/white pus flows out when squeezed. This was really blood, but dark in colour. It was red blood; not the bright red as usually the colour of fresh blood.When I squeezed it out, all the dark, probably "poisonous" blood flowed out.

My scar is still on my thumb, so if you want to see it, you can. It let me think that the "scorpion" did came out of my body, i.e. in the form of the dark blood that gathered suddenly on my thumb on the day the karma is magnified. Whether it was due to the Dorje Khadro puja or not, I won't be able to know for sure. Regardless, I am thankful that whatever "bad blood" had came out of my body. I just wonder if there are anymore of it inside.

I just completed doing my second session of Dorje Khadro today; another 110 mantras. What else will come out of my body? An actual scorpion? That will be frightening. I just keep my fingers crossed.

Sunday, July 26, 2009

No Pancreatic cancer!

-expanded further on Monday 27 July 2009.

No pancreatic cancer! What a relieve!

I went to do an endoscope and ultrasound of the surrounding parts of the abdomen yesterday at a local hospital and the result was that "all is clear". Thank goodness!

Goldie had a dream in which I got pancreatic cancer and she had been urging me to do tests. Since there were other problems to my stomach recently, I thought this is a good time to do some check-up.

But now that this is "over", I have another thing to worry. O-dear! It really is true what my boss said to me. He said "...sometimes when it rains, it pours!" I won't say much but keep on praying. Hope things will turn all right.

Anyway, just before I "black out" from the sedative, I recited the three great purpose prayer that starts with:

"I prostrate to the Guru and the Three Precious Gems. Please bless my mind. Please pacify all the wrong conceptions from incorrect devotion to the subtle..." I think I only managed to finish the first of the three great purposes, after which I fainted. So, those were my last thoughts. You know, it's like training my thoughts for my eventual death in the future. The last thought is very important. By the time I woke up, I heard the nurse asked me to turn and she pushed my body flat down (I was asked to lay down on my left side before I was sedated). At that time, they had already pushed me to a ward. At that time, I didnot know, of course, but found out later. Also I found out the whole procedure only took about 5 minutes. It meant I was sedated only for a short while.

There is really no reason for me to suspect myself as having cancer. But it could be other things like ulcer or "stone" found in the stomach/liver, etc (as Goldie's friend's case). I take this opportunity to remind myself and my readers that karma knows nobody. Karma has no friends. It operates whether you are Buddhist or not. You cannot bribe it away, or sweet talk to it like you do with your girlfriends/boyfriends. You cannot engage a manipulative lawyer to twist the facts and hopefully you will get away with it. Neither is it a judge that you can bribe, nor a sly politician that will help you get away with it. Karma operates no matter where or when. We cannot be ready for it because it doesnot tell us what time and day it will strike.

When karma strikes, it strikes. We can only condition our mind to be ready for any eventualities. And cope with it as it comes. So, each of us suffers our own karma. If you do anything bad, you are the one who is going to suffer. Not me. Hence I am not afraid of anyone, except myself. I am the creator of my own bad karma. Life is seriously short, don't waste it for trivial pursuit. It may just end anytime. Be ready for it with loads of positive karma, loads of refuge with the Triple Gem and faith in our Buddhist Masters.

Om Mani Padme Hum.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

Tribute to Ven. Master Hsuan Hua

These few days, my thoughts are suddenly deluged by thoughts of my late Venerable Master. Now I found out why. The monastery that Master founded had recently celebrated its 30th birthday. And it’s only slightly more than a month ago, last June 7, that marked the 14th year anniversary of Master’s entrance into stillness. Everyone whom had been his students will unfailingly be touched by him. Now this is one very strict master. And till to-date, all his temple branches worldwide are following the same strict rules. Yesterday I dropped by the local branch and paid my respect to the late venerable master. I got 2 books from them free of charge. An administrative lady said the books I took may need to be purchased. I checked my wallet and found that I may not have brought enough money, so I said if it needs to be purchased, I’ll put the books back. So the lady checked the price list, as I glanced at the photo of Venerable Master in silent communication. She checked and checked and could not find the book there. Then she asked a resident there, and the nun decided to give them to me. But I donated some money. I regard the books as gifts from the late venerable master. This small incident gave me fresh testimony I still have a connection with the Master even though he had passed into stillness many years ago. Thank you. One of the book is about interesting stories of the Master by his disciples. In the meantime, I pay my humble respect to the late Venerable Master and the "Buddhas" at CTTBs. My only regret is not having the opportunity to go there when Master was alive. And still haven't had the chance to go there.

One of the books I got was entitled “How Buddhism changed my life!” and it is a compilation of stories by Master Hsuan Hua’s disciples. One interesting story I found there is how the Master knew that there were more than 10 young men waiting outside the main gate during a sutra lecture at City of Ten Thousand Buddhas. You see, during the sutra lecture, the main gate is always closed. During the lecture, the Master suddenly stopped to ask one of his disciple monk to go open the gates because he said there were more than 10 persons there who have waited for a long time. True enough when it was opened, there were more than 10 young men. How did the Master know about their presence outside the gate?

Story # 1: How some Chinese triad members were influenced into changing
One of his disciple, Upasika Helen Woo took them in to see the Master and suggested they take refuge. Upasika Helen Woo did not know who these youths were, but the instant Master saw them, he knew exactly who these persons were. The dharma assembly was stunned when the Master asked these youths repeatedly whether they were willing to give up stealing, killing, robbing and other evil actions. They replied “yes”. Later Upasika Helen Woo was told by the Master that these youths were members of the Wah Ching (or “China Youth” gangster group based in San Fancisco). This group and the Joe Boys were the Chinese triad groups responsible for the Golden Dragon Massacre in the 1970s. If you google these names, you will find their facts. After a while, a few of these members wanted to return to their old habits and they rebelled. On that very night, all of them had the same dream in which the Master appeared before them and told them to avoid doing evil actions. When they woke up, they related their dreams to each other and realized the Master is not just any Buddhist monk. Eventually they gave up their evil ways and became vegetarians. Even though the Master did not convert all members of China Youth, but with his enormous Way Virtue and Wisdom, he did influence some of their members into mending their evil ways and some peace managed to return to Chinatown due to him.

Story # 2: How Venerable Master came to my dream.
Before I even became an official student of Ven. Master Hsuan Hua, I already had faith in him. I was already reading many of his dharma books. I was trying to practice many of the things he taught. I decided that the Great Compassion Mantra would be one of my main dharani to recite and uphold. However, in terms of meditation practice as a cultivation dharma door, I wasn’t sure which to pick. I have faith in almost every major Bodhisattvas in Mahayana Buddhism. Sure I recite “Namo Amitabha Buddha”? or Namo Ti Tsang Wang Pu Sa”? Tara mantra? When I looked back, now I understand I was actually asking who is my principal deity. In Tibetan terms, “who is my root yidam?” That’s basically my question. A few days before that, on the 12 April 1987, I had started to recite the name of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva “Namo Ti Tsang Wang Pu Sa” I think 108 times a night. I did that because in the Sutra, it was stated that of you sincerely recite his name for some of the problems indicated in the Sutra, you may be lucky to receive some “answers” or be visited by the Bodhisattva himself. However, I thought that it could also work in my case where I wanted to know which Deity’s Name or Mantra I should cultivate.

On the evening of 16 April, 1987, I stood before a picture of Ven. Master Hua and with Chapter 6 of Shurangama Sutra open in front of me, I respectfully bowed 3 times to him.

“Namo Dharma Master To Lun” x 3

While bowing, I related to him my predicament. Then on that night I had 2 dreams. One was that of my mother cycling back home from my aunties’ house. And she said she had brought me some photos. She passed them to me and found that the photos are those of Ksitigarbha, Kuan Yin, Sakyamuni Buddha, and some spirits or deities on hills/rocks probably paying homage to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas present.

Then the second dream came. I did not dream of Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva, instead I had a dream of Venerable Master himself. He was sitting in my kitchen, at my dining table (with me as well). In the dream he told me to recite a certain Bodhisattva’s Name and I woke up on the morning 17 April 1987 with this particular Bodhisattva in my mind. So, I found my answer. But it wasn’t until years later, when I remembered this dream and I remembered the deity that was said to be my root deity (as advised by my tantric guru) that I was surprised at the similar advice from both gurus. For personal reason, I will not be revealing who is the Bodhisattva as advised by Ven. Master Hsuan Hua.

I have other stories, but I will save them for next time. Dharma Master like the late Ven. Master Hsuan Hua are indeed rare gems in this world. And I was very fortunate to get to know him, study his teachings and even took refuge in him. Sometimes we think of ancient masters that we were not so fortunate to make connections with such as Ven. Master Hsu Yun, Chan Patriarch Han Shan, Japan’s Honen and Shinran Shonin, Bodhidharma, and myriad Tibetan/Indian ones like Atisha, Je Tsongkhapa, Chandrakirti, Arya Nagarjuna, etc, and we think we are extremely unlucky. But we forget the present gems that walk amongst us in this time and age. Ven. Master Hsuan Hua only passed into stillness in the last decade. It’s not too long ago compared to the other masters mentioned. With his passing, one gem has gone (at least in his physical aspect), but I am confident there are many other gems still around in this world -guiding and teaching ignorant human beings. You just need to “open your eyes” and find these gems. I was lucky I found quite a few. Once these masters acknowledge you as his “Student”, consider yourself extremely lucky because you will be in his “protection” forever. Protection in the sense that you will be guided until you achieve enlightenment not only now but in future lives as well (depending on your level of devotion). It is when you do not have a master, that you need to worry. Well, if you don’t have a master, take Sakyamuni Buddha as your master, or any of the Bodhisattvas. That’s all.
The thing I am grateful is that I had a chance to meet him and take refuge in him before he left his body in 1995. Now, even if you want to take refuge in him, there is no way you could do that... at least not the conventional way.

Cheers and take care. I will close with this prose I wrote impromptu now in praise of Ven. Dhyana Master Hsuan Hua.

“The sky is enormously huge and vast,
Still greater than that is Master’s Way Virtue
The ocean is enormously deep and wide,
Still greater than that are Master's Vast Vows!
To you - Embodiment of the Triple Jewels,
And the Incomparable Saviour, I go for refuge!"
- added the last 2 lines on July 26, 10.35pm.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Dorje Khadro Fire Puja

On Friday afternoon, I did my first Dorje Khadro fire puja ngondro (preliminary practice). I completed 110 of the mantra. The experience of it was wonderful and that of being totally purified after the puja. I was actually sick, but I thought it was a good time to do it since I have just got the last substance I needed, i.e. the sandalwood incense sticks (the woody type).

I wasn't good in creating the scorpion and it looked really big and horrible. Hahahah! LOL!! I have a few pics as above and below. Next time I will need to create a little smaller scorpion and I must not forget the scorpion's claws next time. Anyway, i have learned from this one time puja. The other thing was also the fire. It burned out several times and I had to lit the fire again and again. Somehow the sandalwood incense sticks didnot produce the embers that was expected. Maybe I should use more of those firestarters the first time and then quickly put the incense sticks on top. Maybe I also need to buy the short, properly and neatly cut sandalwood incense sticks instead of the shapeless, fragmented ones.

Throughout the puja, I was distracted by the fire that kept putting out. And thus , my counting and reciting of the mantra wasn't perfect. I was sure I recited more than 110 times. But I'll keep it conservative at 110 and try to memorise the mantra next time. Then I will not need to keep on looking at the text as I hold the tray and trying to use my other hand to pick those sesame seeds. Initially I was trying to use a mala as well, but found it impractical because both my hands are already occupied. There was no place to put the sesame tray. I had to hold it. Maybe I need to think of something next time. Hmmm...

Well, the ceremony wasn't perfect but when it comes to the confession part, I was very sincere in repenting and felt reget and remorse in confessing all my broken samayas and negative actions from the infinite past till then. And I visualised strongly Dorje Khadro in front of me as I confessed and prostrated to him. I didnot quite visualised the scorpion coming out that strongly this time due to the distractions of the fire and sesame seed tray as mentioned. But I did felt the heat above my navel (it was hotter than the effect of the afternoon sun...but the heat soon vanished as soon as the scorpion came out) as I visualised the fire burning at the navel rising up and slowly chasing the syllable out. I visualised all the negativities coming out too. I remember the first time I was taught this practice by my teacher, I felt terrified as I visualised the scorpion coming out. If an actual scorpion were to actually crawl out of you, wouldn't you feel terrified too? Yes, so I feel our visualisations in tantric practise need to be as strong to that extent if it's possible. At least, we should try. Anyway, do you like my scorpion? It's all my negative karma and afflictions and broken commitments and vows, etc. All that I burnt away and now coming out feeling clean.

Overall, it's not perfectly done but I am happy since this was the first time doing it and happy with the post-effect of it. I still have a long way to go to completing the required total, but this is a satisfactory start. Thank you, Dear Guru!

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Tibetan Lamas celebrate CNY with Sai Baba

Chinese New Year Celebrations At Puttaparthi
Chinese New Year CelebrationsFebruary 23-24, 2007
Chinese people in thousands from six South East Asian countries of Malaysia, Indonesia, Singapore, Thailand, Taiwan and Hong Kong assembled at the Lotus Feet of their Beloved Lord Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba to begin their new year on an auspicious note. The whole ashram was beautifully decorated with many festoons, traditional Chinese red buntings, photos of Bhagawan and sayings of Bhagawan. Large colourful hoardings contained many quotes on the theme of the New Year celebrations: ‘Filial Piety’.

Chantings by Lamas of the Four Major Orders: February 23, 2007: Evening
The festivities began on the evening of 23rd. On this holy occasion, 36 Buddhist monks from the four major sects of Tibetan Buddhism namely Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya and Gelug assembled in Prasanthi Nilayam to pay their obeisance to Lord Sai Buddha. After Bhagawan granted Darshan, He was seated on the dais and permitted the programme to commence. After two children offered flowers to Bhagawan, a monk from each of the sects presented ‘Kata’ to Bhagawan. The Kata is a sacred cloth and an auspicious symbol that is presented to Lord Buddha praying for His grace in successful chanting of mantras. They also presented other sacred and auspicious symbols like ‘Dharmachakra’ (symbolising the wheel of transformation wrought by Buddha Dharma), ‘Amitayu Tanka’ (a painting of a deity who bestows long life), ‘Stupa’ (a replica of the religious monument that is in the shape of Lord Buddha seated in a meditative posture) and ‘Chenrizig Mandala’ (a three-dimensional geometrical representation of the universe).

Then the monks commenced the chanting of the sacred mantra “Om Mani Padme Hung”. This six-syllable mantra is supposed to contain all aspects of the 84,000 sections of Lord Buddha’s teachings and is believed to generate love, compassion and positive feelings that will uplift the world. The second mantra that was chanted was ‘Samantabhadra’ or the ‘King of Prayers’. This mantra helps in awakening the mind and prodding it on the path of enlightenment towards Buddhahood, and also for universal peace. Following this, the monks chanted a special mantra dedicated to Bhagawan composed by His Holiness the 17th Gyalwa Karmapa Ogyen Trinley Dorje. The mantra seeks to have an eternal vision of the beautiful form of Lord Sai. This was followed by Gayathri Mantra recitation. At the end of the chanting session, as is the Buddhist custom, the merits accrued by the chanting of all the mantras and all the good deeds involved in the holy activity were dedicated for the greater health and happiness of all beings in the universe.

Following this, Capt. Ong, a devotee from Singapore addressed the gathering. Elaborating on the significance of the mantra ‘Samantabhadra’, he said that it is a compilation of teachings received by a person named Sudana, as he progresses on his spiritual journey through 52 masters culminating in his finding the realized master Samantabhadra. Captain Ong said that perhaps he too would have passed under the tutelage of 52 such masters in his past lives, as a result of which he has now found refuge at the Lotus feet of his Samantabhadra, Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba. The evening programme concluded with Bhajans and Bhagawan graciously granted photographs to all the monks and participants of the programme.

Sai Baba's message on Om Mani Peme Hung mantra

This another surprise to me. It is from him that I learn how to see Guru as Divine.

Sathya Sai Baba on Holy Buddhist Mantra

I was searching for "Master Hsuan Hua" in when I found "Sai Baba". What an irony! Anyway, it is good to see him comment on this famous Buddhsit mantra.

Monday, July 13, 2009

Khenpo Konchog Rangdrol

Last Sunday Khenpo Konchog Rangdrol (DrikungKagyu) was invited at a friend's house and I was invited there. It was only a small group. Less than 10 of us including Khenpo-la. He didnot really gave a talk but just chatted and answered our questions as we had tea. Among the things he touched on was:

- Ngondros (preliminary practices) are done before tantric practices for purposes of purification of the mind as well as generating merits/blessings. Without blessings, our tantric practice will not be successful. And they talked about one guy who had gone on a retreat and completed his prostrations ngondro. So, this also answers the question someone ahd asked me,what is the benefit of completing ngondro.

- He talked about the late Drubwang Rinpoche. He related incidences when he knew the karmic propensities of all his donors. The moment you give him something he knew all about you. All the money he had collected from his talks and visits he would take them back and recite prayers and dedications. Once a few dollars dropped on the floor as he was receiving and blessing his students. And he was busy looking on the floor for the money. Some people may have wrong thoughts that he was attached to donation money. Actually he explained later that if he didnot find the money and bless the donor, the donor would be deprived of so much merits. So, you can see the level of his compassionate heart.

- Khenpo-la also explained that a person who has seen emptiness will have that level of ability as Drubwang Rinpoche. And a person who had the view of emptiness is like a person who knows the taste of noodles from others' description of the taste and whether it tastes good or bad. But he/she won't know the actual taste. So, that's the difference between having the view of emptiness (the third principle aspect of the path) and actual realising the path of seeing, which is seeing emptiness for the first time).

- he also said something about the 1st Chungtsang Rinpoche. He was said to be a manifestation of Yamantaka and all successive Chungtsangs have that wrathful look on their face, even the present one. He related one story about the 1st Chungstang whereby he manifested some miracles and tormas start flying. I did not catch the details of the story. (this para added in on 17 July 2009)

So that's about some of the teachings from the informal chat we had.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Experiential Validation

How do I attain experiential validation rather than being a parrot repeating what I heard and read?

Someone posed this question to me, and I really do not know how to answer this. But based on a student of Ven. Master Hsuan Hua, this is what he said: -

“You will know that it is an experiential validation when it is spontaneously arising, i.e. uncontrived. Only you alone will know that. And when you have the experiential validation, it shows through your actions, writings, thoughts, speech, etc. If you seek experiential validation, firstly we need to be sincere. Ven. Master Hsuan Hua used to say, “If your heart is sincere, there will be a response”. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas are not blind people, they can hear our cries. Put in effort in cultivation. Don’t think so much of merits when you do something good. Do it sincerely.

Recently I was checking some of my old diaries and came across some old draft letters that I wrote. And I can’t believe today that I actually wrote those things when I was only so young. Yes, I used to be very na├»ve and sometimes even foolish. But I was very sincere and dedicated in my dharma pursuit. When I got a copy of the Ksitigarbha Sutra published by Syarikat Dharma, I actually wrote a letter to thank the donor. It was sponsored by a family in KL. Can you believe that? Who actually will write to thank the donors or sponsors nowadays for the dharma books received by them? I think hardly anyone does that. But I did.

And there was another draft letter that I wrote, but did not actually send it. It was something I wrote to Ven. Master Hsuan Hua. I wrote him of my desire to be his official student and told him that I have actually started to informally regard him as my master. At that time, we don’t have blogs, so no one else could have read my diary. It was safely kept away. I did not correspond with City of Ten Thousand Buddhas to arrange for Master’s visit. And it really did not occur to me at that time, but recently when I checked the date of that draft letter and the date that he gave the refuge ceremony to me and a few friends, it was about one year. Hence, after about 12 months from the date I wrote the draft letter to him, he actually visited Malaysia and I became his official student then. Is it just purely coincidence? Repeating what the Master said again: if your heart is sincere, there will be a response. But I have still much to learn. What do I know?”

With that, he apologized if there is anything wrong with his answer and left. Well, I don’t know about you but I feel satisfied with his answer. There is definitely precious dharma here to be learned.


As I write this blog, it occurs a few minutes ago that the first story is really about sincerity, and the second story is about guru devotion (i.e. pleasing the teacher's holy mind by one's practice of dharma). It dawns on me then that before we have guru devotion, there must be sincerity in seeking the Way. Without sincerity, there is a risk whatever devotion one may have towards one's guru will just be pure attachment. Hence sincerity precedes guru devotion. And once you have guru devotion, you have the root of all blessings. With guru devotion, not to even talk about validating experiences, even spiritual realisations will not be far away. Hence, one must have sincerity first.

Sunday, July 5, 2009

Mantras can heal

Continue from the previous blogpost, this is a teaching taken from Lama Yeshe's "Becoming the Compassion Buddha".

Mantra, in particular, is most powerful; just blowing on sick peopleafter proper mantra recitation can heal them. I had an experience of this at Sera College when I was about fifteen years old. I had a bad infection in my mouth from some growing teeth; my cheek was very swollen. I went to see my uncle, a lama and while he recited a mantra, I would just sit there. This went on for a few days. Then one day, after reciting the mantra, he blew on my cheekand !- all the pus came out. That is the power of mantra.

By the way, I am not sure if it had anyway to do with what I did to my friend but after doing the "taking of illness" from my friend, since then my abdomen has been having problems fromt time to time. That's the thing about doing "giving and taking", Pabongkha Rinpoche had mentioned that if we do it properly, the sickness of the person can reduce and the person doing it will find that he has got the illness instead. So, it is very important that you have genuine bodhicitta, otherwise, you may end up cursing whoever you were helping.

Saturday, July 4, 2009

Mantras don't work?

Referring to the above news article which also appeared in The Star newspaper under the headline, “Mantras doesn’t work for all”. I would like to say that those positive statement mantras mentioned in the articles are seriously not genuine spiritual mantras. Spiritual mantras do not work in the same way as repeating positive statements.

Spiritual mantras do work for everyone. However, you need diligence and skill in practicing the mantras and perhaps, some faith and karmic situation too. I am reminded of my own experience with mantras and how it had worked for more than once. I think in one of my previous blog post, I did mention a time when I recited the “Heart Sutra mantra” (i.e. Tayatha Om Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha) and lo-and-behold my magnetic Sai Baba picture stucked on a normal, smooth surface granite wall. There was nothing made of iron that the magnet had held on to. It stucked there for a few minutes before it dropped. So, that was one case of a mantra that worked, …or was that due to Sai Baba? I don’t know for sure, but it doesn’t matter to me. What matters was that something extraordinary had happened and I was the witness to it. I have other tales to tell which I can attribute it directly to Sai Baba, and not due to trickery (because Sai Baba was not anywhere around me at all). So I have total faith that Sai Baba is genuine. But that is for another blog post. Not this one.

Another mantra that worked some “magic” was when I started to memorise the Great Compasssion Mantra (the version often recited by the Chinese Mahayana tradition). I had learned that from Venerable Master Hsuan Hua, who is also my Buddhist master. The moment I recited the very first sentence of the long mantra, i.e. Namo Ratnatrayaya (the translation in Sanskrit of the actual chinese version that I was memorising), and I closed my eyes to memorise it better and listened to the sound. At that moment, lo-and-behold there in front of my eyes there was Kuan Yin (i.e. Avalokiteshavara, sitting version with a vase and plant in hand such as in the picture above). It was not a flesh and blood Kuan Yin like you see you, me and everyone else. It’s just something that appears to the “inner eye” like how Tibetan deity yoga methods where you are supposed to visualize the deity in the form of light. It’s something like that. When I opened my eyes, she is not there, but when I closed them, there she was again. I then put my palms together. It lasted for a few minutes as well, and it happened while I was in school (in between classes I think). So I have totaled faith in the power of the Great Compassion Mantra. Do you think this was only due to my imaginations running wild? You are certainly entitled to say what you like, but I saw what I saw. And even if it was a hallucination, it's okay. A question would then arise: then why doesn't the hallucination arises everyday? Why is it that I don't see the "hallucination" thereafter again? I am sure you are also capable of hallucination, why don't you see Kuan Yin?

The third case happened during my undergraduate days. One of my program mates had fallen ill and was taken to the nearest sub-urban government clinic. He had severe pains in his abdomen and he was twisting and turning. Our lecturer had told us there will be quiz on that day, and that means marks will be given and will form part of the accumulated assignment marks for the course taken. Out of compassion for him I agreed to follow him to the clinic and take care of him even though he was not really close to me. His other closer friends somehow chose the quiz marks over their friends. So, I was the “stupid one” who chose to forego my marks. LOL!

Anyway, the doctor checked and did not understand what his sudden illness was. It was not appendicitis, nor gastritis. Not food poisoning either. He gave him some pain killers. But it’s of not much help. Hours later the drug would have taken effect, but my friend was still wriggling in pain on the clinic bed. I was made to understand that the doctor had scheduled an operation or endoscopy (or some other tests or something) the next day. In the meantime, he was just told to rest. Later in the afternoon, when the pain was so severe, and he was still struggling in pain and the doctor was no where around, spontaneously I recited some mantras and put my hand on the part that was in pain. I was alone with him at that time. I did various mantras for him but mostly was the Great Compassion Mantra. Even though I was not seriously a vajrayana practitioner yet at that time, I had learned about visualization and all that from my readings and some teachings I had heard. So, I visualized myself intensely as Kuan Yin and visualized myself “sucking” all the pain from his abdomen. Actually I alternated my visualization as Kuan Yin, Sai Baba, Master Hsuan Hua and Buddha I think. If you have seen someone in pain and struggling in front of you, you will know what it’s like. If you are in that situation, you just want to help. And that’s the best I can do. If that does not ease his pain, I am sorry. There’s nothing more I can do. After all, I am not a Buddha. In fact, even the Buddha cannot ease everyone’s pain without a collaborative karma involved. But the good news was that the pain in my friend started to ease after that. The pain was all gone in the evening and he could sleep better. Then I took a night bus back to the campus. I really do not know whether it was attributed to the mantras I recited or other factors, but it also surprised the doctor. The next morning, the doctor said there was no need to do anymore tests and my friend was fully recovered. He was discharged. The doctor wasn’t sure what healed the pain but could only speculate the pain was due to attack by bacteria. So, did the Great Compassion Mantra heal my friend? I leave that to you. Anyway, after that incident, that friend called me a "wei da" person. Me - a great being? Let me tell you who is a great being. It is the Buddha.

Bottom line is, spiritual mantras do work. If it can work for an ordinary guy like me, it surely can work for you too. They do work all the time, but only problem is, there could be obstacles (i.e. karma) to prevent you from receiving its full benefits. Oh,… by the way, I found out the next day that the lecturer decided the quiz she had given will not be accounted for in the course marks. So, I did not miss anything at all. Surely, this is blessings from Buddha. Even though I am telling you this story, but sincerely, I have to admit that I am and was not compassionate all the time. At times, I have been selfish too. I sincerely apologise for that. However, regardless of my actions, we all can learn to be more compassionate in our actions. Perhaps, that’s the way to make mantras work – i.e. more compassion and sincerity in our hearts.