Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Lama Umapa

This morning I woke up and remembered the name "UMAPA" very clearly in my dream. Only the name is clear, but I have forgotten the rest of the dream. But I remember it is something about seeking the teachings of Umapa. I have not been reading about Lama Umapa lately, so I am not sure why I dreamt of his text or his name now. For your info, Lama Umapa was Lama Tsongkhapa's teacher (as well as student) who was the intermediary between Manjusri and Tsongkhapa. They communicated through Lama Umapa. But later, Tsongkhapa was able to directly communicate with Manjusri, without Lama Umapa. They did many retreats together. Anyone has any sadhana or verses /practices written by/attributed to Lama Umapa?
from Berzin Archive:
Tsongkhapa also went to study the practice of Manjushri Dharmachakra (‘Jam-dbyangs chos-kyi ‘khor-lo) and Madhyamaka with the Karma Kagyu Lama Umapa (Bla-ma dbu-ma-pa dPa’-bo rdo-rje). This great master had studied Madhyamaka with the Sakya tradition and, since childhood, had daily visions of Manjushri, who taught him one verse each day. Tsongkhapa and he became mutual teacher and disciple. Lama Umapa checked with Tsongkhapa to get confirmation that the teachings he received in his visions of Manjushri were correct. This is very important, since visions can be influenced by demons.
Together with Lama Umapa, Tsongkhapa did an extensive retreat on Manjushri. From this time onward, Tsongkhapa received direct instruction from Manjushri in pure visions and was able to receive from him answers to all his questions. Before this, he had to ask his questions to Manjushri through Lama Umapa.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Tragic Incident

Referring to this news:

I cant believe that using an acid to splash someone can be regarded as just scaring someone. Hello?? It's acid... you know?!! Not water. I feel sad because this man is definitely destined to be reborn in the boiling hot hell, where you will be cooked alive in acid or boiling oil. And he will be there for eons and eons without escape unless someone manages to use some of his material wealth and make offerings to the Buddha. However I am not sure to what extent that will help him. That's because his karma is too deep. After the suffering in the hot hells, he probably will be reborn as animal will bodily diseases for many lives, and thereafter as human with serious diseases and short life span for many lives. He is likely to face the same tragedy as that of his daughter and wife. The daughter and wife have probably committed some deep karma to suffer such a tragedy. In future lives, that man will suffer the same tragedy. It is said that karmic offences grow. From one act committed in a few seconds, he has to suffer for eons and eons in hell, another innumerable livetimes as an animal and again for many lives as a tragic human life. Isn't this sad? I say this is very very sad.

I pray that whatver goodness there is in this man will enable him to meet with a wise man who will then guide him to take refuge in the Buddha. That is the only salvation for him. And many others like him. The only hope.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Mahamayuri = Lucifer ?

A comment in a previous post pointed out thatin the Middle East region, there is a "cult" called "Yeezidee" and they worship Lucifer. The emblem used is also a peacock and Lucifer is regarded as the Peacock Angel. This person asks whether our Peacock Queen Bodhisattva is the same as the Peacock Angel a.k.a Lucifer. And Lucifer is the Archangel in Christianity. So, is Mahamayuri also connected with Satan worship? There are also some people who associate Malek Taus (see below article) and the Sumerian God Enki as Arya Maha Mayuri. Is Maha Mayuri these gods?

My answer is this: I do not know much about Lucifer, not Malek Taus nor Enki but I can assure you our Buddhist Mahamayuri Bodhisattva is all goodness. Just because the "animal" symbol is the same (i.e. peacock) does not mean they are the same deity. In fact even Hinduism have deities riding on the peacock. The peacock is used in many cultures and religions and predates Buddhism. Therefore, be confident that the buddhist Peacock Queen Bodhisattva (Arya Maha Mayuri) is not satanic.

Having said that, the "ultimate devil" is in our mind. If our mind is perverted, we can even turn the Buddha into a devil. I have been told that even a common Buddhist paritta or mantra, which is nothing but goodness, if we recite it in a certain way, it can even become black magic. If we don't take care of our mind, we will then see everyone and everything as evil. So, we become evil ourselves. In Buddhism, we take care of the mind. Buddhism emphasizes much on taking care of the mind. In Buddhist tantra, as is in Ch'an Buddhism, if our mind is pure, everything is likewise pure, i.e. our environment turns into Buddha's Pure Land.

Last but not least, this is something I got from searching the internet:

Quote from:

"Worship centers around Angels (Malek is from the Arabic word for 'angel'), the most important of which is named Melek Taus, or the "Peacock Angel," also known as Lucifer. Lucifer plays a different role in Yezidism, where he is considered the chief Archangel, and the creator of the material world. In Yezidi belief, Lucifer is not a fallen angel, or the enemy of God. In Yezidi cosmology, the universal Spirit (the Supreme deity) created a pearl, which became broken after a period of forty thousand years. Melek, or Lucifer, used the remains of the pearl to create the material world. After this creation, the Spirit created the remaining Angels. Yezidi theology claims that Lucifer was forgiven for his transgressions, and those who revere him are the spiritual elect of humanity. They are forbidden from referring to him as Satan. [snip] Yezidis are a Kurdish sect, named after their supposed founder Yezid, the Umayyad Caliph. The Yezidi revere the Prophet Mohammed and the Sufi mystic Adi Musafir, a descendent of the Umayyad Caliphs (Kalifs). Adi is credited with writing many of the Yezidi Holy texts and is possibly the originator of the faith. Islamic writings mention the religion as early as the fourteenth century, but some scholars link them to Mithraism, Zoroastrianism, and even ancient Iraqi Buzzard worshippers. Yezidism is an enigma that has confounded scholars and incited debate for some time"

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Tigle Bubbles in Water Bowls - Again!

I am not sure what I should call them, or if the term tigle is appropriate or not, or whether I should call them "mandala bubbles", but five days after I met with my teacher, the tiny little bubbles appeared in my water bowls again. Yes, this is the third time. I am not sure if it has anything to do with meeting the teacher or not, but it sure does appear like they are blessings. Someone made a comment that these could be "sentient beings" as well, and it could be positive or negative. I have asked a few Tibetan monks before (of various traditions) but no one seems to have seen these before. I have not really not asked that many actually, because I donot want to make this a big thing and become attached to it. Anyway I cannot control it. If it comes, it comes. If it vanishes, it vanishes. There's nothing I can do about it. So I'll let the "sentient beings" come if they want....and go if they want. If you have any news, please let me know. Drop a comment.

Refer back to the posts I did in the past under the subject heading "bubbles (tigle)" or "water bowl" if you are not sure what I meant...and if you want to see the pics of these "wonder bubbles" or whatever you want to call them again.

This time the bubbles seem smaller in size and seem to be vanishing at a faster rate than the first or the second. The first ones vanish the slowest. I let these bubbles vanish by themselves before I change the water bowls. But I place additional new bowls as offering.

O-yes, a few bigger bubbles also appeared in a few "drinking water bottles" (unopened ones) that I had placed on a side table beside the altar. The drinking water bottles were not meant for offerings. One was a "Spritzer" brand drinking water. Not yet open and bought by my wife for the Nine Emperor Gods festival that is celebrated by many in Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Strange, huh? Do you guys want to see pics of the third time appearance?

Thursday, October 22, 2009

Spiritual tests

Have you been tested by your Guru? Well I have...I think a few times. Let me relate a major test that happened recently. This is a long one, so take your time to read after several days of not blogging.

Right from the beginning it was a test of my resolve. That’s how it seemed like because there were obstacles all the way till just before I was on the way home after meeting Khenchen Rinpoche last Saturday. He was my first official lama that I regard as my Vajrayana guru since I did have a refuge card given by him. And I had not met him since 2006, I think. I have heard in the past few years that he had been sick. And I had written a longlife verse to dedicate it to him for his quick recovery then. So, due to his illnesses, I wanted to see him very much in case he might decide to leave us too soon. Touch wood, I hope not. It was after receiving a stern “PRACTICE!” and that strict look on his face that I decided to be more focus on my practice in vajrayana. And not long after that, I met Lama Zopa Rinpoche and the Gelug tradition, and the rest is history. But in the beginning I did practice a little bit of Drikung, but due to the unavailability of teachers and the disunity of the drikung devotees here, it sort of did not take off seriously. At that time, I did not really go indept into Vajrayana yet.

Back to story, it was a certain “Madam” who called me to inform me that Khenchen would be here in Malaysia (but not visit my home town because noone invited him) and told me to call another man. And she gave me his number and said she will be leaving for U.K. in the next few days. So I won’t get to call her again. As I was outside my home, I did not get to write down the exact dates of Khenchen’s visit. But I got that guy’s number and soon I wrote him an sms. I waited for him to reply, but nothing. I sms again, I think. Still nothing. So I called his number but no one pick up the phone. I left a few messages. He did not return my voice messages/sms. His silence had made me think that perhaps he did not want Khenchen to be disturbed and perhaps his silence is a polite way of saying “No”. Some people are like that, you know?

But I did not give up. At last, I manage to speak to him. So, I told him I am interested to go to AS to meet with Khenchen. I asked him for details. He said ok but did not have much interest…at least it appears that way to my ignorant mind. After that, he did not sms me his house address nor the dates of Khenchen’s schedule. But I remembered roughly the dates Mdm told me, and I decided to request for his house address one week before the Saturday that I had planned to go. Thankfully he sms me back with the details. With that, at least I knew I had his permission to go to his house. So that week, I printed the longlife verse I wrote, in colour and have it framed up. It costs me RM25. I have had my car serviced to prepare for the long journey. That costs me RM198.

Two or three days before the journey, I sms that man in AS of my intended trip and he reverted by giving me a shocking reply. He said that Khenchen and he are going to Thailand and asked me to visit him only after 5pm Saturday. What!? I thought my plan to visit him was then in shreds. As I donot drive in the highway at night, especially to a unfamiliar location, I thought maybe I should re-schedule it to Sunday instead. As I learned later from Khenchen himself, Sunday he would be leaving to KL already. Had I postponed the visit to Sunday, I will not have got to meet Khenchen. Thankfully I did not decide to visit on Sunday itself. My wife was also instrumental in supporting me when I said that I could drive earlier to AS and go sight-seeing in the city centre first before meeting Rinpoche at 5pm. So, that was the decision made and I was happy about it and it was a crucial decision. I sms that man my decision to him and said I might arrive earlier and request him to revert when he is back in town from Thailand with Khenchen.

And then came the second shocking news. But it’s a positive one for me. He said they were not going to Thailand anymore but to another smaller town in Kedah (Merbok), and will be back home by 4pm. I was happy because if they had gone to Thailand, there might be delays in flight, customs, etc. Maybe Khenchen knew and wanted to see how I would react when I was told of his trip to Thailand, to test of my resolve to see him. I supposed that made him chance his plan to go to another local town instead. I was ecstatic at this change in plan. It enabled me to travel to AS and arrive there earlier and go back earlier too before dark, perhaps. At least that’s how I had planned.

On that Saturday morning I woke up feeling excited and happy to start the journey. But my wife was still rolling in bed, unable to get up. I told her she had better get up and start preparing. Then we’ll go at before noon. It wasn’t until 12.30pm that the journey officially begun. It was because we took some time to check the internet for info on AS town by searching for the map. Then we had wanted to go shop for some local biscuits to buy as gift for the AS host. We could not find any tambun biscuits nearby, so we decided to forget about it. We’ll buy it when we reach the AS town. Then we went to fill up the petrol tank, that cost me about slightly above RM30. The first obstacle there was when I over-shot the exit toll and went to exit 180 instead. I should have exited at exit 178. I had to make a huge turning and incur extra toll charges. RM13.00 toll. Plus entering the toll at AS = RM0.40. It was about slightly after 2pm. Then we went to the new shopping mall built by the generous Muslim millionaire. We took lunch there. At about after 3pm, my wife reminded me better to start looking for that man’s house as we were not sure of the location, except that it was near another shopping mall (S Parade).

On the way to my car parked outside the mall, we decided to start asking for directions to the actual housing estate of that guy. We asked a few strangers before meeting one man who surprised us by volunteering to take us right to that place. He said he was going there anyway. Could he be a manifestation of a benevolent protector? Reminded me of the young woman I met at Bangkok airport who volunteered to give me a ride and take me right up to the doorstep of Root Institute 3 years ago. I believe all these people are blessings from the guru. Anyway, that stranger took us to the particular road. I thought it would then be easy to find the host's road. After going several rounds around the place, we could not find that road. It was my mistake. I should have asked the stranger just now to take us specifically to that road. So it’s not the fault of the protector. It’s my fault for not being exact. This was the fourth obstacle. We decided to wait outside a nearby church and contact that host of Khenchen and see if he can direct us to his house. Later he came in his car and we followed him to his house. It was really difficult to find with all the twists and turnings. The problem was that the district council did not put up road signs for the small roads. We were told to wait because Khenchen was resting upstairs. This was also a test of my resolve and fifth test. Well, once I was there, I had no other choice but to wait anyway. But it means a shorter time since darkness will descend soon and we need to travel back.

However, when we arrive at his house, Khenchen was sitting right in the living room sofa, waiting for us. It was wonderful to behold him. It was a surprise because the host had told us he was resting upstairs. I prostrated to him 3 times and then presented him the frame-up longlife verses. However he returned it to me saying he cannot take it back because it will add weight to his luggage. Then he gave me his books “Calling the Lama from Afar” and “Transformation of Suffering”. He autographed both books. After that we talked for a while and I requested for oral transmission of his composition: “Permissions and Prohibitions; the mode of abiding” as well as the short Guru Yoga. I asked for any advice on those oral transmission. And he told me he had written a new one entitled, “Samsara and Nirvana; Two sides of the same hand”. He said it is in the internet and I can find it there. Since he mentioned it, it means it had given me the oral permission to read and study it. Later I found that this was a profound Lam Rim text – longer than Lama Tsongkhapa’s Foundation of All Good Qualities. I love the text, especially some of the warnings and succinct points contained in some of the verses.

I also told him my wife’s health problems and the “thousand arms” issue. He blessed my wife by reciting something and touching her head with the book “Calling the Lama from Afar”. I told him I am currently doing Chenrezig practice – not much of a practice actually. Just reciting the mani mantra and visualising the lights radiating out to all beings, esp. bardo beings. He said he was going to teach something on the guru yoga that night for short session starting at 7.30pm. And he asked me if I could go. It’s up to me, he said. Later I realized that this is actually another test (sixth one) of my resolve. Having gained the oral transmission, had I not gone it would have been a waste. Moreover, it is a direct explanation from the guru himself – the one who composed it. Not someone else. Therefore, it is a direct blessing from the guru for anyone who practices it.

However, initially I hesitated. It was because it was getting dark and I wasn’t sure if I could drive home at night. Khenchen said I have to decide myself, it’s up to me, but he said that the next day was a Sunday. So, he was saying that I could stay. And indirectly hinting that I should stay and receive the instructions. I did not get the hint right away, only realized it on the way back to Penang. I said to Khenchen I will discuss it with my wife. I told him I planned to go to Nepal in December and mainly to go for pilgrimage. I did not tell him that I would be going to Kopan too, but I suppose with his mind he would know. Also I told him I do study the Lam Rim Chen Mo and he said it is a very good book. However he added, I could also read The Jewel Ornaments of Liberation. I expected that to come because Khenchen is a Kagyupa and the Jewel Ornament is the Lam Rim text by Gampopa. I have read both. I also showed him HY’s book which he knew about and told him the teachings we are getting through internet audio-conferencing.

Not knowing what else to talk about, I suggested perhaps he may be tired and if he needed a rest, he can go have a rest. We will not disturb him. He agreed and got up to leave. At that point, I requested for blessings too and same thing, he took the book and placed it on my head. I could feel a heavy energy channeling through my head. I felt good to be blessed after that. Then we left after Khenchen had gone upstairs. Along the way to AS town, I discussed with my wife whether to go for the teachings. I donot know what or why but suddenly it occurred to me that since we were already there, we might as well stay back for a few hours more and receive his teachings. Otherwise why would I want to go back so fast? It makes more sense to stay back even though it was a guru yoga on Lord Jigten Sumgon. Even though I prefer to practice the Gelug guru yoga, I reasoned that I could still learn from Khenchen. I decided to keep an open mind and go for it. After all, this was a guru yoga written by Khenchen himself and I definitely consider him as one of my living gurus. Anyway, it’s not like I have received any guru yoga practice from Lama Zopa. Apart from reciting my personal secret mantra, there wasn’t any substantial official guru yoga that I am practicing anyway. So I decided to contact the host again and asked for directions to the place he was going to be teaching.

My wife and I went to S Parade and had our dinner there. We got lost our way a bit and this was the seventh test to test our resolve. I could have given up and return home but I did not. We kept on calling the poor host who had to entertain these 2 “kids” who could not find their way to their centre. With persistence and kindness of the host, we finally arrived at the centre just shortly before the Khenchen arrived himself with the host and his wife. We stayed through the teaching and it finished at just before 9pm. We bid farewell to Khenchen and the other members of the centre. They were very friendly and one man even led us with his car all the way to the main road (near the beautiful Nine Emperor Gods’ temple). But we said it is okay and we can find the rest of the way back to the exit toll to the highway. We thanked him and went on. Exit toll cost RM12.60. Along the way home, I mentally recited my personal secret mantra until completed my number of rounds. We arrived at about 11pm. About one and half hours later. Faster than arriving there in the morning. Maybe at night there were lesser vehicles on the highway and I drove most of the time at 100-110 kmh. I think I drove slower when arriving. We ate supper at Kayu Nasi Kandar before going home. Hence we stayed until the end and I think I passed all the tests that were ditched out to me. On hindsight these are difficult tests. I could have given up going to see him, but I did not. In fact I was even considering going to KL if the host continued to “ignore” my phone calls. But I am sure he had his reasons for not responding to my phone calls and messages. Hahaha…LOL! But I could not have done it without the support of my wife and her help was crucial throughout the journey. Also, I must thank the help by my unseen protectors all along the way. THANK YOU.

Mission accomplished.
Thank you Khenchen for testing my resolve and determination.

Sunday, October 18, 2009

Points to ponder on Pema Chodron's book

There is an important point I would like to share here on the book review I did on Pema Chodron's book - The Place that Scare You. The story about the experience of the young woman and what Pema Chodron described as bodhicitta, elicited a response from someone. She wrote to me to say that her interpretation of bodhicitta is incorrect. She was comparing that one paragraph I wrote to her understanding of bodhicitta as stated in the Lam Rim texts. On the face of it, with just that one paragraph of that short story by Pema Chodron in my blogpost, it does seem that the definition of bodhicitta is incorrect. To her, it was more of a feeling of Equinimity; not Bodhicitta.

Upon reading the paragraphs of Pema Chodron's book before that particular story and the paragraphs afte that, it became clear, that Pema Chodron's understanding of what is bodhicitta is faultless. Instead the fault lies in the person who thought that it was wrong because she jumped to conclusions without first reading the story in the context of the book. In this person is a senior Buddhist. See what Pema Chodron said by "heightened neurosis"!! Many times the more learned we are, the more neurotic we become.

It also stresses one point I have known, i.e. different persons perceive differently on the same dharma message. That's why one person was able to achieve enlightenment and another do not, even though both of them receive the same teaching from the same teacher. When I read that story it was clear that the young woman did have compassion on those who jeered her. It was not only equinimity. Yes, she may not have expressed her wish for enlightenment but what is 'enlightenment'? And ask yourself, how can someone who had expressing such a deep connection to everyone not wish to be liberated from all these jeering? And if you know who Chogyam Trungpa was, you will know that this was a teacher that was unconventional in his dharma delivery methods. He was not a textbook dharma teacher. At the end of the day, he wants you to be able to interprete and understand the dharma in the context of our everyday life. Quoting text book answers without real understanding was clearly not adequate.

Anyway I do think that that American woman in the story was most probably not even a Buddhist. Being a renown teacher in the West, Pema Chodron have many Western fans who are not yet formal Buddhists. Pema Chodron was merely using a story and illustrating an important buddhist concept to both buddhist and non-buddhist in a way both could understand in the context of the Middle Eastern conflicts and deep hatred between Palestinians, Jews and Americans.

This person who wrote to me wanted to take out the story (because to her, the bodhicitta interpretation was wrong) before she would share it with others. She also changed the "Chogyam Trungpa lineage" to "Kagyu" lineage. To me, yes, Pema Chodron is a Kagyu lineage teacher but she was also a Nyingma teacher to many, since her master - Chogyam Trungpa was a teacher under both lineages. To me the word "Kagyu" lineage doesnot convey the entire scope of the fact that she was in Chogyam Trungpa line of teachers. Furthermore, I think when we do a book review, it is important for the person not to "curry-flabour" it with our own intepretation or our own lineage's understanding... especially if the author is from another lineage. If we are going to "curry-flavour" it, we might as well not read the book...or for that matter, reading anything. The thing is, I want to present the author's point of view; and if I donot agree, I need to say so in the book review. But I should not edit it in such a way that it presents differently than what the author originally wrote in his/her book. Hence I also refuse to let her edit what I wrote (and in the process distort Pema Chodron's point of view) and publish it in her newsletter.

I hope my readers would take note of this even when reading my posts in this blog.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

Pema Chodon's The Places that Scare You

Based on my own observation, my last book review had resulted in many books of "Rich Brother, Rich Sister" being sold off the shelves of MPH, Borders and Popular Book Stores. Many stores are now out-of-stock. So, I am glad to be able to help a nun raise some needed funds for her cancer treatment. Here's another review:

Today I read a book by Pema Chodron, entitled "The Places that Scare You: A Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times". It’s a book published by Shambala Publications. In case you do not know, Venerable Pema Chodron is a Tibetan Buddhist nun and teacher in the renowned Chogyam Trungpa lineage (the Trungpa tulkus are traditionally Kagyu but he also had many Nyingma teachers and taught many Nyingma teachings too. As such, he is considered by many as both a Kagyu and Nyingma master. Pema Chodron followed his style of combining Kagyu and Nyingma). By ‘places that scare you”, she did not mean a haunted house or cemetery. Indeed, these usually scary places often pale in comparison to our own ‘haunted’ mind. Our ‘haunted’ mind generates so much emotional instability, fear and grief on a daily basis that it does many times seem we would go deep into the abyss of depression and madness. That's certainly more frightening than seeing ghosts. As a result of these, we become afraid of suffering and go around building ‘protective’ walls around ourselves in the hope of shielding from these emotional topsy-turvy. As Venerable Pema Chodron said, we fortified it further with anger, jealousy, pride, etc. If we are Buddhists, we use (or misuse?) the Buddhadharma to shield ourselves further by justifying our own insecurity. In the process, we develop a kind of Buddhist ego that we do not see. For instance, we become blind to our selfish conduct within our own dharma centers. We compete with our own dharma brothers and sisters to see who has more guru devotion, or who donates more money this month, or who comes to pujas more often, etc. Sometimes we think that practicing dharma, everything will be okay. But the fact is nothing in life is certain. As Ven. Pema Chodron said Buddhist teachings do not promise happy endings. I can almost hear my readers now re-acting to this with surprise, "They do not?". After chanting hundreds, maybe thousands of mantras or sutras, you still find that you are still suffering from cancer. The tumour has still not gone away. After doing many mandala offerings and other pujas, Arya Jambala still did not give us that extra “dollars” that we need. You still need to wake up the next day and face the uncertainly of your boss’ emotional ups and downs despite having prayed to your Guru the previous night. All these are examples of how we are always looking for something expected, comfortable, predictable and safe, but the sad truth is that, things are just the opposite.

When things do not go as planned, we agonise and retreat further into insecurity. Sometimes we gloss over the insecurity and fear by doing even more similar actions. And the cycle continues, otherwise we become mentally stressed and go on the verge of insanity. On the surface of it, these examples of actions done are not necessarily bad, but it does seem sometimes that the more we practice, the more neurotic we become. Ven. Pema Chodron calls this “Heightened Neurosis”. She said that all those pictures of lamas with perpetual smiles and going about their lives with seeming easiness are those that have ‘exploded’ their neurotic behaviours. They have found the courage to face the openness or spaciousness of their environment and of their own mind. So, until then it is a fallacy to think that practicing Buddhism will immediately quell the storms of our life. Indeed, she suggested us to hold to nothing, stand on nothing, and literarily feel the ‘fall’ in a state of ‘groundlessness’. It is not 'doing nothing', rather it is an active state of true 'letting go'. She exhorted her readers to be courageous and feel our own fears and other neurotic behaviours and see into its openness/ spaciousness. She said that’s how we ‘abide in prajna paramita’. I think the below story of the woman in the Middle East describes the condition of how to abide in this state. It is only by not grasping to anything that our mind becomes truly free and then gives wisdom a chance to arise. But it's easier said than actually doing it, right? If this groundless method is difficult, try other less mind boggling methods such as practising loving-kindness, compassion, tonglen, four limitless qualities, etc.

While some of the prescriptions in this book may seem traditional in how to deal with our fears and daily emotions, Ven. Pema Chodron presents it in a fresh way by relating real stories and anecdotes to give it a powerful punch to anyone who picks up the book and reads it. At the end of the book, she appends some useful guides, including short, single sentence advices such as, not to stand in an arrow’s way, and other ageless advice but presented in a new-age way. It definitely is more than a book on how to deal with our emotional fears/insecurity but an astounding guide on how to reach out to our originally clear, bright and spacious mind in a daily setting. I find this book an indispensable 'mirror' where we are forced to look into the real nature of our emotions and how to turn these into genuine every-second-practice-moments. For those of us who hardly have time to meditate or have short limited formal practice sessions, these moment-to-moment Buddhist practice methods suggested in this book are more useful and often yield better results than formal sessions. The end result of this book, the way I see it, is how to be a real bodhisattva despite all the negative conditions in samsara.

I'll end this with a story extracted from the book, where she illustrated what is bodhicitta, the enlightened mind: -

"A young woman wrote to me about finding herself in a small town in the Middle East surrounded by people jeering, yelling and threatening to throw stones at her and her friends because they were Americans. Of course, they were terrified, and what happened to her is interesting. Suddenly she identified with every person throughout history who had ever been scorned and hated. She understood what it was like to be despised for any reason: ethnic group, racial background, sexual preference, gender. Something cracked wide open and she stood in the shoes of millions of oppressed people and saw with a new perspective. She even understood her shared humanity with those who hated her. This sense of deep connection, of belonging to the same family, is bodhicitta."

Hence, if you are confused, stressed out, or just thinking of getting a useful Buddhist book you can relate to everyday, this is it!

Monday, October 12, 2009

Tigles Appearing at Jade Buddha

At the Jade Buddha's World Tour in both Vietnam and Sydney, Australia, tigles (or referred to as Mandala Lights at their website), the tigles have been photographed and reported at the Jade Buddha's venues as can be seen in the pics at their website. Look at the pics below.

Check out my previous posts on tigles.


Note: From today onwards, I am also renaming my blog to "Buddha And Me" in line with my blog web address.

Sunday, October 11, 2009

Jade Kuan Yin and Other Comments

Same Jade Kuan Yin
A few days after I wrote the blog on my dream of the Jade Thousand Armed Avalokiteshvara, I found an old diary where I discovered I had dreamt of a similar Jade Avalokiteshvara before. I actually have forgotten about that dream because it happened so long ago. But today I tried to find the diary entry again, I could not find it. That’s because I have so many diaries. But if I am not mistaken the entry was dated in the year around 1993. So, you can imagine, after about 16 years, the Jade Kuan Yin came back to me. And I have no idea why.

Om Mayura Krante Svaha
One colleague of mine came to my office and saw my Peacock Queen picture and became interested in the mantra. So, she learned the mantra by heart. Glad to share it with her.

Great Compassion Dharani
I attended a recitation of the Great Compassionate Dharani recently and recited it for 108 times. I sat at a corner where I could view the Buddha Sakyamuni and flanked by Ven. Maha Kassapa and Ven. Ananda one one side. And on the other side, there was the three saints of Amitabha Pure Land. During the recitation, I had a good visualization where it became so real till it did seems at times that Buddha Skayamuni and his chief disciples were actually there. What seems like inanimate statues, also became alive as Amitabha Buddha, Avalokiteshvara and Mahastamaprapta Bodhisattvas (or Vajrapani). And to have these holy beings in front of you, you feel like so blissed out! I like the look of the Kuan Yin image. Her head was slightly looking down and her eyes semi-closed and I thought she was deeply listening to the cries of all sentient beings. She knows our every thought and actions. She knows and hears our every scream to her for help and mercy. And she is constantly eminating millions of transformation body out of herself to bless and help there sentient beings. However on the side of the sentient beings it’s not necessarily that we are able to receive her blessings. Sometimes we are too heavily indebted by our own misdeeds. Hence we are only to blame ourselves if our prayers do not come true or we seem not to receive any blessings at all. So, all these were in my mind during the assembly to recite the great compassion dharani. In short, if you think statues are in front of you, then you are just praying to statues. But if you could see that real Buddhas were in front of you, then you deal directly with the holy ones directly and obtain direct blessings as a result. However, seriously, it’s not just a matter of playing with our visualizations.