Thursday, September 23, 2010

In Amitabha Buddha, I Put My Trust

This is basically taking refuge in Amitabha Buddha. Here the Buddha is represented by Amitabha Budha, the Dharma by his 48 Great Vows and the Sangha by the Land of Ultimate Bliss, i.e. Sukhavati (Sanskrit) or Dewachen (Tibetan). Even though I have at one time contemplated practicing Pure Land Buddhism and gone on to practice Tibetan Buddhism instead, still I have never gave up my faith in Amitabha Buddha and His Land no matter what I am practicing. I gave up last time because it seemed to me that Pure Land Buddhism seems like the Christian and other such God-based religions.

But I was obviously wrong. Very wrong. Now I realised the God in other religions never made any vows to save sentient beings to bring to his land. Their God was also never an ordinary sentient being like you and me. He was, is and will be God for eternity. But this is different for Amitabha Buddha. He was the simple and ordinary Dharmakara monk before he became Amitabha Buddha. He made great vows in front of another Buddha and for millions of kalpas, he simply cultivated virtues and merits and purification for all sentient beings. Hence, Shin Buddhists and all other Pure Land Buddhists need not feel as if they are practising another Creator God-based religion like Christianity or Judaism.

So, this time I realise that I can even do my yidam tantric practices with shinjin. Yes, with Great Faith in Amitabha's vows. What does this actually mean? It means doing my yidam practices with less attachment to meditative and non-meditative experiences and more faith that the Buddha's Vows will simply work its way to pick me up to His Pure Land of Sukhavati, not necessarily at the time of my physical death. Rather, being in Sukhavati here and now. And this is not just about being mindful during meditation or outside of meditation. It means allowing the Pure Vows to work through you to help other sentient beings go to Sukhavati so that they can ultimately achieve Buddhahood.

I am writing this because I like to emphasise that it is important for Tibetan Buddhist practitioners to have faith in Amitabha Buddha's Vows, rather than simply believing in mantras and think that they can chant their way to Dewachen without faith in Amitabha. It's like trying to gate-crash into a party or stay in a friend's house without being friends with the host. It may work, but for me, it seems ridiculous for me to go to Amitabha's Land without having any faith in what he is doing and what he stands for. In that sense, I will not eject my consciousness to Amitabha's Land via phowa but may do it if that will result in Supreme Buddhahood. It means not doing phowa merely to gain entry into His Land. You noticed the difference?

It is far far safer to come back as a human being by aspiring first to go to Amitabha's Pure Land. A short training stinct in Amitabha's Academy of Bodhisattvas is essential to equip aspiring Bodhisattvas with the necessary skills to help others. I think I mentioned about this training academy in a previous blog-post. Often fools like us think we are ready to help others by aspiring straight to be reborn as a human after the present life. This is like the blind leading the blind. Soon both will plunge into the depths of samsara. So, it is important to be guided first in Amitabha's Sukhavati. Hence, put your faith in Amitabha Buddha's land and aspire to be reborn there. The element of faith is important whether we are reciting the mantra or His Name. And I took the trouble to post poems by the Japanese Pure Land Master, Shinran so that we can better understand and develop faith in the Great Vows of Amitabha Buddha. So try to read more on Pure Land Buddhism, especially Shinran's Jodoshinshu. It does not conflict with Vajrayana Buddhism, if you really understand.

While the workings of mantras are very mysterious, but it does not always work every time you recite it. You must not treat mantras like "abracadabra" which does not have any deity associated with it. You must have some measure of faith in the deity associated with the mantra to make it work. I am also not aware of any vows behind any mantras. It is not so with reciting the Nembutsu. There are 48 Great Vows behind the recitation of Amitabha's Name. As Shinran said, when you are reciting the Nembutsu, it is not you who are petitioning to Amitabha Buddha. Rather, everytime you recite His Name, it is Amitabha who is reaching out to you. It does not depend on your own merits and virtues. Instead you are living on the merits and virtues of Amitabha Buddha. Therefore, it works everytime you recite it. Isn't that wonderful?

Monday, September 20, 2010

Shinran's Shoshinge (Part 2)

Jodo Ron,
Compiled by the bodhisattva Vasubandhu in India,
Urges us to rely on
The Tathagata of Unhindered Light—Amida—
Through the Larger Pure Land Sutra
Which makes clear
The truth of Amida's eighteenth vow,
The vow which gives to each and every one of us
The mind of true entrusting, shinjin,
And the certain eventuality of our joining
The great company of bodhisattvas
In the treasure-ocean of Namu Amida Butsu.
At the very moment of our entrusting,
Says Vasubandhu,
We are able to see the truth
Of things-as-they-are,
Of suchness,
And instantaneously we become an avenue
For the wisdom and compassion of the Buddha.
This being so,
Though we can now burst free
From the thicket of our passions,
Having become this avenue of wisdom and compassion,
In this transformed state,
We freely plunge back
Into the garden of birth-and-death.

The cause resulting in all this
Is shinjin alone.
Such is the teaching of T'an Luan,
A bodhisattva in China,
Before whom the benevolent Buddhist Emperor Wu'Ti
Always bent his head.
Ta'n Luan had received Chinese translations
Of the Pure Land sutras and Vasubandhu's writings
From the sage Bodhiruci.
Turning to these teachings,
Ta'n Luan burned his Taoist texts
His own writings say that
When we ordinary foolish beings realize
The mind of true entrusting,
The mind of shinjin,
Though we still wander in samsara—
The world of birth-and-death,
At the same time we are shown Nirvana—
The world of the Buddha,
The world of things-as-they-are,
Of that which is real and true.

In this true and real wisdom of Amida's realm,
All we sentient beings,
Everything that exists,
Totally and equally,
Become as one.
The great teacher Tao Ch'o showed us the difficulty
Of the path of self-power practices.
He clarified that for we ordinary men and women
The way to Buddhahood
Is the Pure Land path of entrusting to
The wise and compassionate power of the Vow.
Even millions of self-power practices are useless!
Tao Ch'o urges the single practice of
Saying the Name,
Namu Amida Butsu,
From which arises the uncalculated directness,
The single focus,
And the constancy
Of the mind of true entrusting,
The mind of shinjin.
Tao Ch'o explains that this is the pure mind
Which is in total contrast to our mind of doubt.

At any time, in any age,
We who happen to encounter the drawing power
Of the Great Compassion of the Vow,
Though throughout our lives
We create nothing but evil,
Will reach the Pure Land
And the final state, enlightenment.
It is Shan Tao alone who teaches us
The Buddha's true meaning in disclosing that
For we who break the five precepts,
We who constantly pollute
Our streams of birth-and-death
As we come to hear the Vow,
Amida's light and Name manifest cause and condition
For our entry into its great wisdom-ocean.

This we nembutsu followers receive
Shinjin's diamond-like mind.
In the joy of this single moment,
When we encounter the wisdom of the Buddha
Exactly as did Queen Vaidehi,
We simultaneously receive shinjin's three benefits:
A joyful mind that totally entrusts in the Vow,
An awareness of the nature of the dharma,
And the issuance of Nirvana.

Genshin, on Mt. Hiei in Japan,
Widely explored the whole of Sakyamuni's teachings
And coming to those of the Pure Land,
Genshin recommended this path to all.
However, he makes clear to us a distinction
Between the shallowness of self-power nembutsu,
Which leads only to the borders of the Pure Land,
Leaving one at a way station,
With the depth of the true nembutsu
That assures is entry into the heart of Amida's realm.
True nembutsu can be uttered
By the lowest of the low.
Amida is always pursuing them, drawing them in.
Such a one am I! Genshin confesses.
Even though I am blinded
By the anguish of my passions,
Great Compassion is always,
Without interruption,
Illuminating me.

The great Buddhist teacher Honen
Out of compassion for all beings
Established the true way of nembutsu teaching in Japan.
He opened to ordinary persons everywhere
The gate of Amida's eighteenth Vow.
Our turbulent endless cycle of birth-and-death,
Going and returning,
Is due to our mind of doubt, says Honen.
But in the nembutsu,
When we receive the decisiveness
Of the mind of shinjin,
The mind of true entrusting,
Without fail—
We are assured of entering Nirvana's peaceful world.

Thus these bodhisattvas and great masters
Of India, China, and Japan
Have shown us the meaning of
The Larger Pure Land Sutra,
The meaning of the Name and the Vow
Which liberates innumerable beings:
Those of us who are the most defiled
And calculating,
Those of us who are hopeless.

Their teachings speak to us directly
So that now,
At his present moment,
And always, throughout our lives,
We who are priests,
We who are lay,
Being of one same mind together
In abandoning all superstitions,
Abandoning self power and petitionary practices,
Need believe only in this true nembutsu way.


Shinran's Shoshinge (Part 1)

How inconceivable!
Throughout the universe
The ceaseless, boundless activity of Namu Amida Butsu
Awakens me to what is real and true.
This is my reliance,
My refuge,
My wholehearted trust.

Namu Amida Butsu is the call of the Vow
Made by Amida,
The Buddha of Immeasurable Light and Life,
When he was Dharmakara, a Bodhisattva,
Who, coming into the presence of the great teacher
Lokesvararaja Buddha,
Was enabled to see that which is invisible
And yet visible to the mind's eye—
The Pure Lands of all the Buddhas
And how they became so.

To establish such a realm for all beings,
Whether good or evil,
A realm without discrimination or condition,
Was Dharmakara's deep yearning, his Great Vow.
He spent five kalpas—
A time and effort beyond comprehension,
Fulfilling this most excellent and rare Vow,
This dynamic Vow
The primal Vow
The original Vow
By which his name conveys enlightenment to all.

Throughout the universe this Name resounds
This Vow continues like light
Unbounded by space or time
Without hindrance
Needless of cause or condition
Illuminating our greed
Our anger
Our blind and calculating foolishness.

Just as I am
This all-embracing Vow enables me to become a buddha!
Its light in all its many facets
Stronger than the light of the moon
Stronger by far than the light of the sun
Illuminates even the least particle of dust
In the countless worlds of the Universe
Shining equally on all.

The Nembutsu of Amida's Great Vow
Is the dynamic cause for my birth
Into the realm of enlightened beings,
The Pure Land.
Because of the Vow
My mind of true entrusting, my shinjin,
Is assured
As is my ultimate enlightenment,
Identical with that of Amida's,
Resulting in the great, complete Nirvana.

Sakyamuni Buddha was born into this world
With the sole mission of teaching
The treasure-ocean of Amida's Vow
To rescue we who constantly pollute
Our streams of birth and death.
Please listen to the truth of Sakyamuni's message!

The mind of true entrusting, shinjin,
Arises from my awakening to the reality
Of Amida's Great Vow.
No need to sever evil passions to reach Nirvana!
Ordinary people,
Holy monks,
We who break the five precepts—
All of us, equally, just as we are,
Though like various polluted rivers
Become of one taste on entering the ocean of the Vow.

To receive and be taken in
By Amidas Great Compassion
Is to be perpetually transformed,
Protected by its light.
Yet, while my inner darkness is thus broken,
My cloudy mists of anger, hatred, and desire
Continue to obscure shinjin's bright sky
Though shinjin, in the same way as sunlight filtered
Through mists and clouds,
Continues to cast light into the darkness below.

To receive this shinjin is to know great joy.
Simultaneously, I am emancipated
From the limbo of a world without dharma.
Of all of us,
Good and evil together,
Who hear and awaken to Amida's Great Vow,
The Buddha says: we are persons of shinjin.
Those who comprehend this completely
Are like a white lotus blooming.

Yet, having received this mind of true entrusting,
This shinjin,
To neither doubt nor question it,
To retain it,
To not forget that the Nembutsu of Amida's Great Vow
Is directed to all sentient beings—
Including arrogant persons and those of wrong views—
Is the most difficult of all difficulties.

The great dharma teachers
Of ancient India, China and Japan
Make clear Sakyamuni's emphasis that
When compared with Amida Buddha's pure activity
All we sentient beings are calculating
And defiled.
Sakyamuni's teachings disclose to us
Our inconceivable endowment—
Universal enlightenment,
Made possible through Amida's Great Vow

In a sermon on Mt. Lanka,
Sakyamuni talked about Nagarjuna,
A bodhisattva of southern India
Who later appeared in this world
To destroy misleading views
Of "being" and "non-being."
Nagarjuna proclaimed the great dharma
Of Mahayana,
And identified for us the joyous stage
Of birth in the Pure Land.
He described this Pure Land Way
As like the ease of an ocean voyage,
Whereas the way of difficult practices
Is like traveling a rough and dangerous path
On foot.
Once we entrust to the vessel of Amida's Vow,
At that instant, says Nagarjuna,
Our birth in the Pure Land is assured!
To fully express our gratitude for this,
Let us utter Amida Buddha's Name always.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

Within a Pot of Steamboat

Let me warn my readers first. By the time, you finish reading this blog-post, you will probably have a different view the next time you are invited to a steamboat dinner (pictured here) or other food that you normally enjoy eating. So, be warned beforehand. If you do not want to be affected, please stop reading this blog-post. But if you do not have any bodhicitta, it will probably not affect you at all. Read this at your own risk! Don't say I did not warn you!

In Tibetan Buddhist teachings, we are often taught that different types of sentient beings see phenomena different due to their unique karma. For example, humans see a river as a river with H2O, i.e normal water. However, gods see it as a river flowing with nectar and hell-beings see it as a river flowing with burning hot lava. Similarly, bugs and cockroaches see their food as delicious ice-cream whereas we humans see their food as disgusting dung. What we humans do not realise is that on the same principle, the gods see some (to put it mildly) of the food that we eat as disgusting. An example is the bird's nest, which is popular among the chinese. It's actually bird's saliva but humans treated it as soemthing so precious like gold. A small piece of dried saliva costs thousands of local currency, depending on the grade. By nature saliva is actually a disgusting thing but business-minded people promoted it based on it's supposed nutritious value. I don't know it's nutritional value but I am looking at it from the angle of different perception of different types of sentient beings. Hence, I am not asking you not to eat bird nest, but merely to reflect on what the Buddha taught on the phenomena of perception. I will eloborate with another example below.

A food that is popular among the chinese is steamboat. It is normally eaten in a group. The chinese people like to hold their chinese new year family reunion to eat steamboat. They prepare all kinds of meat and vegetables for the steamboat. Sausages, all sorts of meatballs, fish meat, chicken meat, crab meat, etc. You put these into a bowl of boiling soup and wait for it to cook, and there you are - it's ready to be taken out to be eaten. Do you guys realised what's really happening at that time? We see these meat as meat from animals that had been dead. But actually, from the side of these animals, they see themselves as hell-beings... and even though physically their animal bodies are dead, their consciousness may still be there...and depending on their karma, they are not yet dead! They are reborn as hell-beings and they experience their suffering right there in the steamboat pot. When you put them into the hot water to be boiled, that's the hell-beings being boiled alive in the hot lava or hot oil. They experience the suffering of hell at that time. From our side, it may just be 5 or 10 minutes before you take it out to eat. But on their side, they experience it like for endless aeons (kalpas) and repeated over and over. And on their side, they never die until their causal karma is exhausted. So, this blog-post should also answer the intriquing question of where hell is. Is it a location somewhere else, thousands of miles deep below or is it here somewhere in Sudan, remote parts of India, etc? It is right here, where we are!

On the side of human beings, we just eat and eat and eat... oblivious to the other dimensions of phenomena that's occurring. All the sufferings and torture that's going on in our steamboat or our pot of soup - we are blissfully unaware and keep on enjoying our food while these beings suffer in pain. That's what happen when people do not or have not developed their bodhicitta enough. It is said that (and I learn this from others too) that when we have realised bota, we can hear and feel sentient beings pain and suffering every moment, everywhere and whatever we are doing. After learning this dharma lesson, I have since then cut down on meat. And I don't really like steamboat anyway. So, the next time, you see a pot of delicious tomyam steamboat or for that matter, any food, object or phenomena, think about what's happening to other beings on their side, i.e. the dimensions that we do not see with our human eyes. Normally, people think what they see before their eyes must really be the complete truth and hence, real. But in this case, what we see may not necessarily be the complete truth! Within a pot of steamboat, there's so much going on. It's just that we don't realised it. Reflect on this!

Sunday, September 12, 2010

A Vision of Wrathful Green Tara

I woke up from my dream early this morning still with a clear image of the Tara that I saw in my dream. I was at a strange temple, not sure where is. But there was some ritual practice going on at that time. There was also a lot of lay worshippers there and making offerings. I went inside and into the main hall and was astonished to realise that the main deity was Green Tara. The Green Tara statue was very big and sits inside a glass enclosure. But my view of the statue was blocked by another statue of a baby sitting in front of the Tara statue. In the dream the baby is a disciple of Tara. There were other statues inside the glass enclosure of these 2 were clearly the main ones. I went closer to look at the statue of Green Tara... and I got a shock!

The face of Green Tara didnot look like the peaceful one we are used to but rather the statue had a wrathful look. She looked very fierce, with sharp big eyes. And the most terrifying aspect were the long teeth, each at least 4-6 inches long and were conical in shape and sharp at the end. Her mouth was wide open and it showed two rows of such sharp teeth each pointing upwards and downwards. It was most horrifying! Because of that, I did not look at it for too long. It's actually frightening and reminded me of the aliens of the "Aliens" movies! I checked the 21 Taras image but none of them were green in colour. The wrathful ones were black or reddish in colour. The closest is the 8-armed wrathful Green Tara but the dream I had had only 2 arms. Perhaps the statue only took on the face of one of the wratchful 21 Taras.

In the dream there were many pairs of shoes, just a few metres away from the statues. There was one big heap of black and white pairs of shoes... supposedly offered by worshippers to this deity. I am really not sure what it signifies. I think in the dream I also wanted to get one of the white pairs of shoes to offer to this Tara. I donot think this vision was a result of my imagination. Reasons are:-

1. it was a clear dream
2. the face and image of Tara was clear.
3. in the morning prior to the dream I had suddenly re-discovered a book I had lost for many years. The book was about mantras. However, I usually associate that book with Tara as the author shared his experiences on the Tara mantra. After discovering it, I kept it back at its place and did not think about Tara or Tara mantra after that for the rest of the day. So, I do not think the dream of Tara was due to me thinking of Tara the whole day. But the discovering of the book was a definite "sign". I had been looking for the book for more than 10 years, and only now I found it.
4. Even if I had imagined it, there was no way I could have dared imagine and distort such a peaceful image of Green Tara into such a terrifying one.

There are many questions in my head now. Did I do something wrong? Or, am I going to do something wrong and this vision is just a fore-warning? This is not the first time I have dreamed of deities. Are they watching over my back? If yes, I am as good as "dead". That's because they would have watched all my misdeeds. O-dear! Maybe I am going to be "eaten" by this ferocious Green Tara. Her sharp teeth are probably going to sink into my "head". Maybe one day, when I am good at thangka painting, I will draw it. Or, maybe I can commission someone to do it for me? Who knows?! What's for sure is that I will never again look at any image of Green Tara the same way again. In my mind, the peaceful image will always contrast with the wrathful aspect. Is that what it means by the black and white shoes, i.e. contrasting aspects in life? Like Yin and Yang of Taoism?

Whatever it means, I offer a big "Thank You" and offer you all my delusions to be "eaten"! Om Tare Tutare Ture Svaha!

Friday, September 10, 2010

Supply and Demand for Vegetarian Food

I just wonder how many people among my readers are vegetarians on holy days or new moon/full moon days? I think not many.

I observed that not many people are observing vegetarianism even on such days, not to even talk about being full vegetarians for the rest of their lives. I noted that some vegetarian shop owners have complained to me of lack of business. And some of these shops have closed down already. Talk about "Less demand less supply". It's true for this case. You only need to look around at the place where your work, i.e. your office, and count how many people are vegetarians today. Not many, right? In Kuala Lumpur, it is even worse. In order to get vegetarian food, you need to travel very far most of the times, unless you happen to stay or work near a vegetarian restaurant or temple. And that discourages Buddhists from being vegetarians. Hence the situation does not improves but can only deteriorate. While the vegetarian shops decrease in number, the meat stalls and meat restaurants grow more and more every day, fueling further people's desires for meat.

Even though I do think Buddhists should at least be vegetarians on holy days and on new and full moon days (or reduce meat intake on these days), I am also aware that people do have the freedom and the right to choose what to eat. We talk about bodhicitta but yet we seem to only emphasize on our own freedom and rights. When it comes to food, animals donot seem to have any rights. And we spend so much money on animal liberation practices, but yet eat them and their kins anyway. You can't even reduce your meat intake for 2 or 3 days a month? Like I said, the choice is yours. Hence, consider this as just "food" for your thoughts... pun intended! :)

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

Monkey God & Pilgrimage to the West

Just some personal notes on Wu Cheng En's classical story "Pilgrimage to the West", featuring a Tang dynasty monk who journey to Buddha's Pure Land to obtain Buddhist scriptures. Along the way, he was protected and accompanied by 3 disciples, namely Sun Wu Kong (a.k.a. The Monkey King or Monkey God), Zhu Ba Jie (Pigsy) and Sha Wu Jing (Sandy).

Lately there was this TV series and even though I have watched quite a few versions before in the past, now I try to capture my understanding of various incidences in the story in relation to the dharma. I shall edit this blog as the series go along.

1. Monkey represents anger. Pigsy represents desires/greed and Sandy represents Ignorance.

2. When Monkey was trapped under the mountain, the Buddha said that the mountain represents our 4 (sometimes 5) elements and 5 aggregates.

3. With Monkey's spiritual powers, he could have easily brought the Monk striaght to the Buddha to receive the scriptures but the monk insisted they walk step by step and meet the challenges along the way. I think this is a very significant message in our spiritual cultivation.

4. There was a part that showed the Monk teaching the dharma to other monks. He said that sometiems it is not because there is no dharma, but rather because of our own prejudices and obstacles, we do not hear the dharma at all. Or we hear it but misunderstands or misinterpretes it.

5. The importance of having a Guru/Teacher to guide us. Monkey complained that he didnot have a Teacher to guide/teach him properly. So, the Buddha gave him a chance to serve and be taught by the Monk.

6. Sometimes we need to subject ourselves to other people's control. This is due to our unstable character and emotions. Monkey was subjected to wear the ring over his head and everytime the Tripitaka Monk recited a certain mantra, his head would be extremely painful. In one of the episodes, the demon boy who could spew out fire, was tamed by Kuan Yin Bodhisattva and was made to wear a ring not only around his neck but also his hands. Hence, for us our "ring" comes in the form of moral precepts, commitments and our worldly bosses/colleagues. And sometimes even our spouses. I leave it to each individual to think what/who are their "rings" that control us. These worldly "rings of control" need not always be good, but they need not always be bad either.

7. When you are a heavenly god/goddess, the slightest wrong action can cause you to rebirth in the lower realms. Take General Tian Peng, the previous life of Zhu Ba Jie, for example. Because of flirting with another goddess, he was send down, but somehow he said that he went into the wrong "womb" and end up as a pig. But due to his practising some esoteric pactices, he became a demon. This is also one of the sufferings of the upper realms. The same fate befalls Wu Jing.

8. There was a case when a fish in Kuan Yin's pond become a demon after listening to the dharma teachings there. As a demon, he was obssessed with eating the Tripitaka monk's flesh in the hope of becoming a real god, instead of a fish in heaven. It's the first time I hear of such things. But I suppose to become a demon after listening to the dharma is better than not listening to it at all. In the end, Kuan Yin caught the fish in her basket and returned it to her pond.

9. There was a case of Tai Sun Lao Jun's (Taoism's god of medicine) cow named Qing Niu who escaped to the human world and became a cow spirit. He captured the Tripitaka monk in the hope of eating it so that he become a god/immortal faster. He said he was bored and could not wait anymore. He thought that eating his teacher's golden pill daily was too slow a process to become an immortal. The lesson here is: donot take the easy way out. Sometimes you may end up committing some negative actions and end up even worse and slower than before. So the Tripitaka monk advises that we should walk one step at a time and learn from every step of the way in our practice. I think this advice should well be heeded by Buddhists so obssessed with fast ways to enlightenment without developing the necessary foundations.

10. There was the bull-headed King of the Underworld (i.e. Hell) Yama who was once friends with Sun Wu Kong and they fought the gods together. However, Sun Wu Kong managed to turn his enormous energy and anger towards the dharma whereas Yama craves for more spiritual powers and found himself becoming a "bad guy" and indulges in infidelity. The two former "heng tai" or adopted brothers, are now enermies. Hence, from here we learn that how and where we direct our energy and efforts in life is important. If we direct it into the wrong path, there goes all our future!

11. There were the spider ladies and one male. The male one tries to meditate and turn himself into a god and good person so that he does not have to kill anyone for food anymore. He was almost sucessful when the bad spider ladies captured the Tripitaka monk and hopes to eat his flesh to gain spiritual powers and immortality. They managed to influence and black mail the male spider spirit by getting into him to capture the Monk and his 3 followers. He still has latent desires and attachments. The monk advised them that killing and eating him will not only not make them immortal but they also will end up suffering long periods in hell. As I missed an episode in this part, I donot completedly understand why the lesson to be learned here is that we should not suppress our desires inside us for too long. We must deal with it or else, in the words of the monk, "only suffering and hell awaits us". 

12. There was the demon who wanted to take over Tripitaka monk's job in going to the Buddha to obtain the scriptures and he asked the monk to let him do it instead of him. He asked the monk to stay behind. However, Tripitaka monk replied that if the demon is sincere in wanted to get the scriptures, he can go but he himself will not stay behind and give up his resolve to obtain the scriptures. I see this as a test of his resolve/ determination. This is an very powerful demon and in the end he had to be tamed by his master. The demon turned out to be another "creature" that has escaped from his master in heaven. 

13. There were many demons who were actually animals from their masters. For example, the lion and elephand spirit-demon were actually Manjusri's and Samantabhadra's vehicles that had "escaped". And there was the Jade Rabbit (the moon goddess' rabbit) who had escaped and caused some problems on Earth. Maybe they were purposedly let loose on a mission to test the Monk and the 3 students. So, in our effort and practice along the path, we are bound to face many tests of obstacles. We must not easily give up. This seems to be the lesson because at many times even Sun Wu Kong were at wits' end on how to defeat these demons.        

14. Last Friday, Sun Wu Kong actually turned into King Kong to frighten off a group of villagers who had swarmed around his Master. Refer to my other blog post on my comment on someone who had made a remark or joke that Buddhism is a King Kong religion. And I had interpeted that one of the meaning of King Kong is actually Sun Wu Kong. It was ironic therefore, that there is the episode where Sun Wu Kong actually turned himself into a giant ape. Heheheh!

The drama series is coming to an end and I will update this post later.