Friday, July 30, 2010

The 17th Karmapa's Long Life Verse for Sai Baba

For more info on Sai Baba's meeting with lamas from Sera Je Monastery, refer this link: -

In 2007, he met with lamas from all 4 main Tibetan traditions. And moreover there is the Long life prayer composed by Gis Holiness Urgyen Trinley Dorje for Sai Baba, which goes like this:

Tsang Sog Lha Wang Soong May Den Pa Dang,
Kar Chok Gay We Thu Dang Nu Pa Yi,
Pal Den Lama Zhab Pad Rab Ten Ching,
Zam Ling Che Kyi Nang Way Khyab Par Shok.

By the Truth of the Deities, the Protector - Brahma and so forth,
And the power and ability of the virtues,
May the Guru's life be long and stable,
And may the world be pervaded by the light of Dharma.

It is not that difficult to understand why the Karmapa himself would want Sai Baba to live longer. If you only would check and see for yourself the impact of his vast project on the lives of many ordinary Indians as well as millions of people around the globe (who may not necessarily be his followers, by the way), you will know the real Sai Baba and come to respect him too. His schools in India as well as around the world are some of the best. They have been acknowledged by the accreditation bodies and acclaimed even in western countries. Would Buddhist education ever reach Zambia? I doubt so. What reaches Zambia may not be Buddhism, but it is still dharma if it teaches the students universal religious values. Sai Baba water projects had resulted in clean and clear water for the rural areas in India. He brought people of various religions together and unite them as harmoniously as humanly possible within the context of a world torn apart by many religious conflicts. He showed that divinity and the spiritual path can be expressed in many ways and not be too fanatical about our own religions that we exclude others and think they are going on the wrong path. All these are important projects that are beyond the scope of any one religion... and certainly beyond Buddhism. We need people like Sai Baba to be able to achieve all these.

So, you see that his miracles are not that important. Yes, there are people who stir up controversy by accusing that his miracles are a fake. But I say, "so what?". However, based on my own personal experiences, I can vouch that the miracles I have seen and experienced are all genuine, for Sai Baba is no where in Malaysia to pull any possible tricks. And there are others in other countries as well who can vouch the same. I am certainly not the only Buddhist who believed in him. I am not sure of those lamas believed in him or not and it does not matter they believe in him or not. But I am confident they see the vast benefit Sai Baba had on all sentient beings and due to that, they respect and do not demonise him. In fact they recited the Medicine Buddha mantra for him, and as mentioned, even HH the Karmapa wrote a longlife verse for him. If and once he is gone, millions of devotees will be deprived of a hope - an important aspect in the world of much pain and sorrow. He provides hope in a way Kuan Yin does for many Kuan Yin believers. But Kuan Yin operates not at the human level. Ordinary people cannot see and touch and speak to Kuan Yin but they can see and touch and talk to Sai Baba. Nirmanakayas make a lot of difference, you know?! If anyone intents to be a great bodhisattva one day, this is how you too should operate. You shuld not just sit there in your Pure Land and operate from there. You would want to "get your hands dirty" so to speak and come as a human among humans to benefit people. Do you understand now? So I learn all these from Sai Baba. He contributed much to the Buddhist I am today.

Yesterday I participated in a Sai Baba centre members gathering after many years of missing-in-action. Most of the members are chinese Buddhists. 20 years ago this center didnot exist and the center I went to was mostly Hindus and they sang mostly Hindu bhajan songs. But yesterday night, we sang mostly Buddhist songs. See how things change. We also recited the Mani mantra, the Medicine Buddha mantra, the white Tara mantra, the long chenrezig mantra and something I have not seen before in Buddhist circles, the long Ksitigarbha dharani. And my long time friend who is a Professor in religious studies was there to speak on some aspects of the benefit and significance of mantras. We used to go to the center where I said was mostly Hindus last time. Today, even that centre has many chinese Buddhists followers. It was truly incredible!

Sai Baba is already 84 years old this year and I realise that time is running short for me to meet up face to face with him. Somehow I am determined to meet up with him very soon. But then I realise that compared to me, there are so many other people who donot even had the chance to hear his name or see his image, far less to get to know and experience him. At least, I have eperienced him and he had written messages to me in the past. For that, I am most thankful!

Om Sai Ram
Om Mani Padme Hum
Love All, Serve All

I'll end this with an intriguing question from my friend professor, which he asked the members of the centre to ask themselves. Sai Baba used to say in his early years, "Now I give you what you want, for later you will want what I have to give". The thing is, the professor asked, now that Sai Baba is getting old, have we received it?" Have we received what Sai Baba wanted to give? And what is it? That you have to think for yourself. But for me, the inner transformation as a Buddhist and my development in the path of Lam Rim are what I have received. For all these that I have received, I have to thank the compassionate Enlightened Force, whatever we may call it "the Buddha", "Kuan Yin", or whatever.

Tibetan Lamas and Sai Baba (CNY 2010)


I am happy to see Tibetan Lamas chanting prayers for Sai Baba. My heart jumped when I see Bhagawan on a wheel chair. Looks like he is slowly manifesting illness...you know what I mean, right? But I hope that he lives for many more years and aeons to come.
I sent a letter to him a few years back and urging him to continue to live on. We need him. I need him. In line with Sai Baba's advice to his devotees to chant the Om Mani Padme Hum, one local centre is inviting a Buddhist professor to explain the meaning of the mantra to the members. This is a very good development. Om Sai Ram. Om Mani Padme Hum!

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Where is Kuan Yin?


Yesterday I attended a Q&A session at a local temple. The questions are to be directed to 2 professors, one from China and the other is a Malaysian but both based in the US. They had been conducting a series of talk there in conjunction with Kuan Yin Bodhisattva’s celebration according to the lunar calendar. Instead of questions that would affirm or build their faith in Kuan Yin, I was quite surprised that many people in the audience asked questions that seem to reflect that they do not believe in Kuan Yin and that the latter is a mythical being created by the Chinese Buddhists.

These persons said that these Mahayana Bodhisattvas were not mentioned in the Pali Canon at all, and thus were not taught by the Buddha. They said Kuan Yin is not a historical and biological person like Sakyamuni Buddha was, and hence, they concluded Kuan Yin is a fictitious being. And that all the sutras about these Bodhisattva beings were inauthentic since they were not compiled by Arahants who were the experts in Pali Canon. It is unfortunate that these people choose to ignore the many umpteen real reported stories associated with Kuan Yin. There are many stories of people who have seen Kuan Yin’s manifestations and experienced her miracles. Are these people who questioned her existence think that all these people who have had experience of Kuan Yin are all delusional? In the past, I think I have been told that there are people who have stopped praying to Kuan Yin because of being told she does not exist by this type of fundamentalist Theravada monks. (Note: Actually I think “fundamentalist” is not an appropriate word, maybe “extremist” is a better word but in the west, the word “fundamentalism” is usually used). If it is true, then it is really unfortunate that there could be such ignorant Buddhists who choose to ignore all the blessings received from Kuan Yin in the past on the basis of some irresponsible teachings from the more ignorant Theravada teachers.

For me I believe in Kuan Yin. But I believe in him not merely because of the Mahayana scriptures. And certainly not because of the fact that my family worships her too. I would think my belief in Kuan Yin is not of blind faith. Why is that so? For one thing, I too have seen her manifestations in dreams and visions quite a few times. It was recorded in my old dairy that at one time I recited “Namo Kuan Shih Yin Pu Sa” a few times, and she appeared in a vision. Then at another time, I was memorizing the first line of the Great Compassion Dharani, and again she appeared. There was another time when I recited the Heart Sutra and when I came to the mantra, there again she appeared dressed in white. I am not trying to brag but merely to show that my faith in Kuan Yin has a basis, i.e. the mantra or her name that I recited was successful in invoking her. However those were my experiences. For other people, they need to get their own experiences of Kuan Yin. It is your own experience of Kuan Yin that counts. Not others. But if you have none, don’t despair or disparage others’ experience. Others’ experience should also build on your own faith to one day be able to experience it yourself.

This reminds me of the story of Asanga who wanted very much to see Maitreya. I am sure you have heard of that story. He tried for a long, long time but in the end he was only able to see Maitreya when compassion arose in him and he licked a dog’s body infested with worms. Similarly, for those people who doubted the existence of Kuan Yin, this is the only way you can verify the existence of Kuan Yin. It is not that easy to have dreams or visions of Kuan Yin, you know? Not that easy. People who doubt Kuan Yin's existence should adhere to the Buddha’s advice as stated in the Kalama Sutta and verify Kuan Yin’s existence. And not just brush it off, on the basis of it not being in their set of scriptures.

To be sure, it is not that Kuan Yin (or for that matter, any Buddhas/Bodhisattvas) do not want to meet up with us. The reason is that we have not had the necessary conditions yet to be able to see him. And usually it is we the ones who put up barriers and obstacles and prevent us from seeing him. So, we have to blame ourselves if we fail to see him, not Kuan Yin. But we must not give up easily. In the story on Asanga he took many, many years of practice before he had a vision of Maitreya. A sincere heart of compassion is all you need to be able to see Kuan Yin and invoke her blessings.

However I would like to give a word of caution. In line with the concept of emptiness, Kuan Yin is also empty. What I mean by "empty" is not that there is no Kuan Yin outside there. In fact, there is a Kuan Yin outside there, but she is there only conventionally. It is incorrect to tell people that there is no Kuan Yin outside there. But it is correct to tell people that if you try to find Kuan Yin, ultimately you will not be able to pinpoint that "Ah... this is Kuan Yin!". We must use the right words. It means she is not inherently in existence as a permanent entity that you can pinpoint his location, e.g. “Ah, he is there in such and such a geographical place”. Not like that at all. Rather it is something that is intangible. We can only feel and have experience her responses through manifestations and visions/ dreams. And this is only when there are the right causes and conditions (i.e. inter-dependent factors) present. So, if you really want to see the conventional Kuan Yin and verify that for yourself, you need to start planting the right causes and conditions for that to happen. You cannot just demand her to appear just because you want to verify her existence. It does not work like that at all.

Kuan Yin does have a conventional existence, otherwise during deity yoga, there would not be any necessity to invite the wisdom deity to our visualised deity. Kuan Yin is the embodiment of Buddha's Compassion, as well as manifestation of compassion of all sentient beings, and if this embodiment is without a conventional existence, how are sentient beings to benefit from this bodhisattva?

I am not believing in Kuan Yin merely because of the visions and dreams that I had. I have also experienced the power of her Great Compassion Dharani. And many others have experienced it too. Therefore, Kuan Yin does exist conventionally beyond all doubts in my opinion. Of course, when I say “exist”, as in all other things, I mean “exist” in line with the concept of emptiness. She’s there and yet ultimately you cannot find her anywhere. But so am I. I am here, but it is said that ultimately I cannot find this “I” that exist. I have not seriously understood this, but at least intellectually I have, and nothing more than that.

It is unfortunate that the fundamentalist Buddhists choose to over-enmphasize on authenticity over the fact that there are millions of Kuan Yin devotees who depend on Kuan Yin in the face of suffering and crisis. If you take Kuan Yin away from them, it is like taking away hope from them, and it is not something easily replaced. After Buddha's Parinirvana, he no loner takes rebirth in samsara to help sentien tbeings. Rather he helps people through these bodhisattvas. And if Arahants help people, and most of them do, then even though outwardly they are arahants, in spiritual deeds at least, they can be regarded as bodhisattvas too. It's just that these Arahants do not portray themselves as Bodhisattvas. They help people differently than those Arya Bodhisattvas. By emphasizing too much on authenticity of Kuan Yin, you'll miss out on a whole lot of issues. And yet, these fundamentalists do not check the authenticity of Kuan Yin that they should. They must understand first who and what is Kuan Yin, have some compassion in their hearts and then magnify your compassion a million times and you will have some idea of what it is like to operate as Kuan Yin. It actually does not matter Kuan Yin is not a historical person like Sakyamuni Buddha. There is so much positive energy radiating from the millions of compassionate Kuan Yin statues and images all over the world. This alone helps inconceivable number of beings in ways we normal humans cannot comprehend. The other day, Ven. Boon Keng was just reiterating that we should not get too stuck-up with what is right or wrong. We must see what benefits people, what makes people happy, what eases their pain. If Kuan Yin provides all these to sentient beings, who are you to take these away from them? At your level, can you possibly replace what Kuan Yin is providing them?

On that note, to those "fundamentalists", I can without hesitation confirm that I have found my experience of Kuan Yin. Unfortunately, experiences cannot be shared. You have to find your own experience, just like the saying that you cannot know the taste of coffee until you have tasted it yourself. Others can take years to explain it to you but still you wouldn't be able to really know the taste of coffee. If these people still stubbornly refuse to accept the existence of Kuan Yin, it is their conscious choice and their karma. There's nothing anyone else can do about it. Hopefully they will be able to open up to his existence later. Actually it is not that difficult to know that Kuan Yin exists. As long as there is compassion, there is Kuan Yin, for Kuan Yin is the essence of compassion. She dwells within the abode of compassion in our heart. That is her ultimate Potala. The one in China or Tibet are just the physical representation. But doubters don't see that, do they? Do my readers see it? I hope you do. Don't be like these doubters.

So, where is Kuan Yin? We should have the answer now.

On the coming Enlightenment Day of Kuan Yin this Friday, I prostrate to the Bodhisattva of Compassion and pray that Your Compassion will manifest in every place where there is suffering!

Namo Kuan Shih Yin Pu Sa.
Namo Kuan Shih Yin Pu Sa.
Namo Kuan Shih Yin Pu Sa.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

New Kind of Tourism

Referring to this news report, about a strange new "tour" I heard being offered at Singapore.

http://www.paranormal.org.sg/forum/portal.php/category/ireports/

This is the first time I came across such methods. I cannot speak for other religions but in Buddhism, we can only visit Heaven and Hell through some methods. I can think of three: -

1. doing good deeds and gaining enough merits to land your self in heaven after death, or doing negative deeds and gaining negative karma to land yourself in hell

2. doing meditation and purifying the mind until you achieve a stage where your consciousness/mind (not physical body) will be able to “visit” these places. But visiting heaven or hell by way of consciousness/mind by meditation, is not the primary purpose why Buddhists do meditation. I need to explain this so that non-Buddhists don't get the wrong ideas.

3. visits via dreams are a possibility due to strong karmic imprints or connections to these places or deceased persons who have gone to these places. These dreams are also possible if it is by blessings from holy beings. However, these dreams are rare and genuine ones cannot be controlled or willed by the dreamer in any way.

I have not seen this Guan Luo Yin myself, so I am not able to really comment, but always check, check and check. People should be careful what they believe in. And not be easily conned.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Life is tough...but it's Precious. Hang on there...!

No matter how difficult your life is now, hand on there! Do not commit suicide, it's not the easy way out as people may think. It could be worse in the next life. Some people think that in the next life, if they become a ghost then they can take revenge on whoever had wronged them. But Alas! when they died, they found that they have been reborn as animals! If reborn as chickens, you will only live to wait to be slaughtered. How to take revenge? You cannot even protect your own life!! If reborn in the hells, it's a far greater sorrow than being reborn as animals. Imagine being cooked alive! If reborn as ghosts, the life of most ghosts are truly miserable, i.e. such as those hungry ghosts.

No matter how bad your life is, hand on there! OK? Reflect on the sorrows of the three lower realms. Life is tough. But it is extremely PRECIOUS. HANG ON THERE! DO NOT GIVE UP JUST YET! MAKE FULL USE OF IT TO HELP OTHERS. DO GOOD DEEDS TO ENSURE WE GET A GOOD REBIRTH WHEN WE ARE NO LONGER HERE. Not to give up life easily but not too attached to it either. Allow death to be natural.

What I mean is - do not be too pre-occupied with seeking a cure, especially for terminally ill cases. There's no use living up to 100 years old if in the next life, you're going to be reborn as a chicken.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Buddha Turning the Wheel of Dharma


Today I almost forgot that today marks the first turning of the wheel of dharma according to the Tibetan calendar. But thank goodness, I still have a tiny little merit left. I checked an email and was reminded of it. Then I decided to be a vegetarian for the wholeday. I walked to a vegetarian restaurant some distance away from my work place but didnot bring an umbrella. It started to rain and I thought I might not be able to walk back without getting wet. After finishing my meal, I called a colleague to see if he can come fetch me back to office since he was also outside for lunch and he drove. Just about that time, the rain suddenly became less heavy and then to just a drizzle. I called my colleague and told him there's no need to come fetch me anymore. I walked back. When I reached my office, the rain came pouring again. But it does not always happen like that. Today I was lucky. So, thank you, rain!
Thank you to Buddha for turning the dharma!

Monday, July 12, 2010

Tantric lessons from Miss Tatsy "Rinpoche"

I have had weird dreams last night. Dreamt of going to a big but very old house… and very spooky too. It’s very dilapidated and dirty. I had a terrible time trying to find a decent toilet that I could use. I think in that dream I went into some kind of trouble and someone had to help me. Then I had to climb over a barbed wired wall and again somebody helped me. Along the way, somebody will appear and help me. That dream was really not a very good dream but appreciate the helps that I got along the way.

In the light of that troubling dream, and still thinking of it after I woke up, when I heard on the radio a dharma lesson from the local radio. No, it was not a Buddhist radio channel. But I could connect to it because there was one dharma speaker who said almost the same thing few weeks ago. The “Light and Easy” hosts had invited a lady, I think her name was “Tatsy” ( I remember hearing clearly the “T” sound and not “P” as in “Patsy”). She was from a peak performance school or something and was invited to talk on “Personal excellence” on the radio. She talked on the technique of doing visualizations to enhance our personal performance in every aspect of our lives. She said that with visualisation, it will be easier to actualize the goal that we have visualised. This was something many motivational gurus are using and the fees for their workshops or seminars are very high. Upon hearing that, I thought to myself that the technique of visualizations is something taught a long time ago by the Buddha and it is especially prevalent in Vajrayana tradition. We have been teaching and doing it for thousands of years! And to hear that on the radio, it just enhances my connection to this technique. But there is something Miss Tatsy said that reminded me that visualization alone is inadequate. It was akin to a direct dharma teaching from a Lama or Rinpoche. What else do we need besides visualization?

So Tatsy “Rinpoche” said that there is a two-step process to visualization. Visualisation will only create a clear mental picture of what you want. It is still practice that makes something perfect. Just a mental picture does not make anything perfect. From that mental picture in the mind, we then need to transfer it into our bodily actions, she said. An example was given. Visualising scoring goals in our mind will set the goal in our mind, but you still need to actually practice scoring with the ball. You cannot expect immediately able to score by just doing visualizations and then going into the match without any practicing. As the proverb goes, practice makes perfect. That proverb is still very much valid.

Connecting that with the practice of visualizing ourselves as yidams (deities) or on top of our head, will not in a thousand or million years transform us into any Buddha. It's only a simulation. We need to follow-up that visualisation with actually transforming our mind, speech and actions into those of the enlightened Buddhas. I am just thinking, what sort of practices do we do to transform these? How do we follow-up after doing those yidam visualizations?

I can think of a few: -

Mind
- doing calm-abiding (Samatha) meditation
- doing insight (vipasyana) meditation
- doing mind training such as lojong practice
- doing Lam Rim contemplations
- thinking kind thoughts

Body
- doing purification practices such as prostrations, nyung-nays, and other preliminary practices
- doing guru yoga
- doing pujas
- making offerings
- blood donations and donating other parts of our body
- doing something physical to help others
- stop doing bad habits

Speech
- doing mantra repetitions
- reciting sutras
- reciting names of Buddhas/Bodhisattvas
- saying kind or compassionate words
- not saying harsh or angry words
- being pleasant in our daily conversations

And there are many others you can add to the above list. Some of the above practices could be affecting combinations of body, speech and mind or all three together. Masters have also advised that some of the above should be done prior to doing visualisation practices.

In essence, what I learn from the radio talk is that mechanically doing visualizations or engaging in cakras and bindus do not turn one into Buddhas by themselves. These are just techniques and tools and are just “mechanical devices”. For instance, mechanical devices do not make one kinder or more compassionate. Compassion has to come from our change of heart or attitude and a transformation of our mind. Also to become a real Buddha, and to develop real compassion, we need to involve ourselves with sentient beings and not just sit in meditation and expect to become a Buddha. While meditation can open our cakras, it is still getting involved with sentient beings that our compassion can truly develop to its full potential. But these “devices” could come in handy and perhaps speech up things a little. What do you think?

So, thank you to Miss Tatsy “Rinpoche” for giving us some tantric lessons through the radio.

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

HAPPY 75th BIRTHDAY!


Yesterday was His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama's 75th birthday. This time I have strong feelings of celebrating his birthday. I do not know why and so I bought a birthday card for him and intend to send it to him Perhaps I must have felt that His Holiness is getting old, and I am not sure how many more years he is going to live. I dread to see him "go" because his next reincarnation will doubtlessly be contested by China's government. They will very likely choose and install their own puppet "Dalai Lama". Then again we will have two Dalai Lamas, just as we have 2 Panchen Lamas and 2 Karmapas.

Our karma is getting worse. So I pray the present Dalai Lama will stay strong and healthy and able to continue his activities for many many more years to come.

There is a 2 hour webcast in http://www.dalailama.com/ that enables viewers to see his celebration yesterday in Dharamsala, India. Check it out.

So, HAPPY BIRTHDAY, MY DEAREST HOLINESS!

Sunday, July 4, 2010

Of Spiritual Healers and Ghostbusters

The three stories in the links below refers.

http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2010/7/3/north/6599509&sec=North

http://www.thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2010/7/3/north/6597991&sec=north

http://thestar.com.my/metro/story.asp?file=/2010/7/3/north/6598545&sec=north


There are many others like her in this country and in every other country.

Without referring to this lady in the links above or anyone in particular, my advice to people who are not truly liberated from samsara is really not to mess with ghosts and spirits. Being compassionate is good but trying to be a hero when you are not skilled enough, is foolishness. I am not saying any particular person is a fool, but let it just be a reminder to anyone who tries to be a ghostbuster, or healer, and I am not trying to say that you should help people with these problems, rather I am saying you must be careful. Be very, very careful! Otherwise, you are the one who may end up busted!

The papers and tabloids like to publish these sort of healers and ghostbusters. They tell of their successes and how their temples have even helped people win lotteries. But the stories of how much money people have lost after going to their temples, are not published. Also, the stories of how supposed "healings" have gone awfully wrong are not told publicly. More importantly, the stories of how the healers and ghostbusters themselves have got themselves into deep trouble are not popularly known. People only know the good side of the stories. The bad ones are ignored. It is said that if you associate yourself more with ghosts and spirits, you will accumulate more tendencies for rebirth as a ghost/spirit when you die. And more so if you have the habit of allowing your human body to be possess by these spirits in trance by being a medium or healer. It shows that you regard ghosts/spirits as mroe precious than your human body.

If you are into these sort of "services", my concern goes out to all who are not genuine masters and lamas. Even Ven. Master Hsuan Hua realised the trouble he could get into if he started healing people. He did warned of this in one of his sutra commentaries. But he is not saying, don't heal, rather he said one must know the consequences of what he/she is doing. And I understand that a normal human being usually will not be able to truely know the consequences of healing or the causes behind a certain sickness or problem. However, if you do know what you are doing and not just speculating or guessing the causes behind any ailments, and not pretending to be able to see ghosts/spirits, by all means, help people. But even then, one must be extremely careful!