Sunday, February 27, 2011

Huge pig in hell

I woke up this morning with the thought of my dream still fresh in my mind. Woke up today with the dream still in my mind. I had dreamt of going to a dark scary place, and so scary I felt afraid. In the end a man I didnot recognize and another person volunteered to accompany me. Where we went I am not sure but it certainly looks like it was hell. The hell guards were all over the place. It was my second dream and 'journey' to hell. We saw a huge pig about to be burnt (or roasted?). And later chopped up. The pig was in agony and pleading for his life. I am not sure what happen but I sure felt compassion for it. In the dream I recited the great compassionate heart dharani. And slowly my mind came out of the dream. I am not sure what to make out of the dream. But realize that I need to thank the 2 protectors who appeared in my dream, at the moment I need them. A nun explaiend to me that this type of dreams (she was explaining another previous dream) are usually a result of Lam Rim contemplations. It means those parts when you think of the dreadfulness of each of the six realms are starting to manifest as results, meaning realisations of Lam Rim are coming. It means those things we learn in Lam Rim are starting to stick to the mind. I do recite the Lam Rim everyday but not sure if I do contemplate or not. Something for me to improve on.

Friday, February 25, 2011

A Personal Long Life Prayer for My Vajradhara Lama

Some verses dedicated to my Vajradhara Lama, the essense of all my Gurus.

Worse than …

Without hands
Without legs
Without eyes
Without ears

Burning in the hottest hell
Being chopped and cooked as an animal
Starving as a hungry ghost
Losing the precious human rebirth

Stricken with cancer

What could be worse than to be in
The darkest night,
The coldest cell,
And afflicted with the most terrible disease?

Unable to see my own shadow
Without the slightest warmth
Indeed, a most terrifying fate!

What could be worse than that?

Worse than all the above is
If I am without you – My Dearest Guru!

Without you, it is a million times worse.
The worst thing ever.
With you around, all blessings derive
Coldness gives way to warmth
Darkness gives way to light
Paving the way to all temporary and ultimate happiness.
Even though we understand impermanence,
We cannot afford to be apart from you.

Hence, dearest Guru
I kneel at your lotus feet
With all other sentient beings
We pray and plead
That you continue to guide us,
That you live long and prosperous!
May all your holy wishes come true!
May you turn the wheel of righteous dharma forever!
And may we have the good karma to benefit from you
for a long, long time!


Monday, February 21, 2011

Bhagavan Sathya Sai Baba, You need to live on, please!

Today Sunday night (almost mid-night), almost going to Monday (it will be Monday by the time I finished writing this), I am writing this with sadness that my beloved Bhagavan Sathya Sai Baba is sick, very sick. I went to his centre today and was informed that a group that went to India recently for his birthday (or was it Chinese New Year?), they could not perform the mantra recitation because Baba was very sick and did not come out. I was told that the worldwide Sai organisations are all praying for Baba to live on. And I am going to do the same. This is the third time I will be pleading him to live on. The first time I sent a letter to him in India, mainly to request him to live on. Second, I wrote a message to the FPMT organisation, especially Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche requesting him if he could write a longlife prayer for him.I am not sure what I will do this time. But as students of teachers, we need to request the teachers to stay on and teach. I think I have written before in a previous post. When the Buddha hinted to Ven. Ananda that he was going to pass away soon, on two occasions, he did not request the Buddha to stay on and live more at least even a few more years. Then Mara came and accepted the Buddha's passing on. Hence the Buddha did proceed with his plan to pass away. You see, that's why we disciples must always be alert whenever our masters hinted on passing on, especially when he is unwell. We should tell him in no uncertainties that he need to stay on. Otherwise Buddhas will just go on. And we, the unenlightened ones, will be at the losing end. We need to play our part and whether he actually live on or not, we leave that to him ...and our karma! But we cannot know our karma, so we have to do our best. And as the saying goes... we have to cross the bridge when it comes....!!      

Saturday, February 19, 2011

Teachings on Gong Chik's 1st Vajra Verse

These are my personal notes on teachings given by His Eminence Dagpo Chenga Rinpoche, recently given in Singapore. Any mistakes are my own.

All 7 chapters of the Gong chik from causal to the resultant stage of liberation are all about view, meditation and action.

Turning the Wheel of Dharma:
The first chapter is on turning the wheel of dharma. The 1st vajra statement is – All the Buddha’s teachings are in accord with the nature of phenomena. Not something against nature. Why the Buddha renounced the world was that he saw the suffering world has a cause and an ending and how it end it. Individuals who wish for happiness should give up committing unwholesome deeds. He was also searching for a lasting happiness. At last he saw that what created wholesome and unwholesome actions and karma ultimately can be attributed to the mind or related to it. That’s why all the Buddha’s teachings are to tame the mind, which will mean taming the body, speech and mind.

Before Buddha’s time, there already exist in the people’s mind how good and bad karma is created but people do not fully understand how they are due to the mind. The Buddha showed us the path on the universal law of good actions bring good results, bad actions bring bad results. Our happiness and suffering ultimately depends on our fundamental mind. Not on external environment. So, in the 1st turning of the wheel, the Buddha taught the 4 Noble Truths. We need to get rid of the suffering we are experiencing. He taught us to achieve enlightenment. The word “Buddha” is enlightenment or in Tibetan is “Sangye”, means rid of causes of suffering and accomplishing all happiness as well as one who knows all the causes and results of actions (karma). All the Buddhas teachings can be summarise into the 4 lines –

Avoid all evil,
Do all good,
Purify the mind,
This is the teachings of all the Buddhas.

For the 2nd turning of the wheel, the relative and ultimate truths are not something created by the Buddha. This is also in accordance with nature of phenomena. When we go through the relative teachings – good things we need to cultivate and bad things we need to avoid. But ultimately everything is empty of inherent existence. When we can understand that, we are able to eliminate our own suffering. Another name of the Buddha is “leader”. He leads us to practice what is good and avoid what is bad. He is not giving us orders. He is just leading us to that state. So in Buddhism we do not believe in a Creator. What we are experiencing, are not created by someone else. If at all we need to blame, we need to blame ourselves. He has never considered himself as God/Creator. Whether we believe or not, positive actions lead to positive results and vice-versa. This is nature of phenomena. Not something he created. Not something somebody else created either. So we become our own protector when we do positive deeds, and become our own destroyer when we commit wrong. So Buddha said he had shown the path and whether we attain it, depends on ourselves, i.e. our own effort. This means that by praying only to the Buddha, we will not be able to attain liberation. Only by practicing the path shown by the Buddha can we attain liberation. Suffering of sentient beings cannot be reversed/ washed by the Buddha nor can it be transferred to someone else like a machine. So the Buddha gives us wisdom to distinguish what is right/wrong. This means that by merely giving the buddha’s teachings to another, this will by itself not be able to liberate the person. That sentient being must have the potential to get rid of his/her causes of suffering and attain liberation.

For the 3rd turning of the wheel, the tathagatagarbha – every sentient being can attain liberation due to the Buddha nature in everyone. Just by itself, we will not be able to attain liberation. We need to work on the Buddha nature. So, back to the instruction on how to avoid evil, practice good, we must rely on instructions of past great masters. For example, by taking refuge alone, it’s not going to help much. But we must understand what is the three refuge meant. Ultimate protection is dharma. Dharma tells us what action to abandon and what to cultivate. Just by having faith in the 3 refuges, is not going to help us much. Only by practicing the dharma, it is like going inside a house. Not just admiring it from the outside. Sangha is the 3rd refuge – those assisting in the path to liberation. One to whom we can take example in the path to liberation. We are not referring to ordinary Sangha, but Arya Sangha. If we do not understand properly, we will not know what taking refuge is all about. The principle behind the 3 Refuges is the dharma. Only practicing the dharma can liberate, i.e. by contemplating and meditating on the dharma can we practice the dharma. No need to go here and there to listen to the dharma. Just study and practice the Gong chik, which contains all the teachings of the Buddhas. So, we can listen to the teachings, it is important we understand how the teachings can be contained in the Gong chik. Just like when we understand how all the teachings of Buddha is in its own fundamental phenomena. In this one line, everything is included in this one line of vajra verse. But the Buddha’s teachings are very deep. Despite this, if we can understand this verse and understand that everything are created by the mind – and if we can just change our mind, we can change or end our suffering. Then its not that difficult to understand the Buddha’s deep teachings to attain liberation. Avoiding evil, and doing good is something that everyone like us can practice. Very much related to us like being more peaceful, avoiding war, and can apply in other daily situations.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

What I Learned in Singapore.

I have been busy due to the Chinese New Year and my trip to Singapore. So just sharing some of my experiences there.

1. I just came back from attending Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche's teachings in Singapore's FPMT Amitabha Buddhist Centre. I was late for the talk but even then the points I heard from his teaching was point blank in answering a question I had on my "Ultimate Guru". And on my last day, I just dropped by the centre, on the way to the train station to Changi Airport, even though it was just a few minutes at the centre to mentally bid him goodbye and thank him, at that crucial moments, I heard from him several verses to emphasise the same message from him again on the root guru. Were those moments just coincident? You can believe what you want but my experience with Rinpoche is that he always had a way to let the listener listen to those points that mattered to them. At least that's the case for me. That was not the first time. Last year in KL, for most of his talk, I could not make out what he was saying but at some critical junction, I heard some crucial sentences very clearly to answered some questions that I had been having... something on yidam meditation. Then after that it was time for me to go back and didnot manage to heard anything else anymore. I heard what I needed. And that was adequate!

2. I also managed to attend HE Dagpo Chenga Rinpoche's talk on Gong Chik. The latter is Drikung Kagyu's founder - Lord Jigten Sumgon's teachings often called "Single Intention" in English. These teachings are short sentences or statements that clarify points on dharma or related to dharma. I managed to attend 2 of the sessions, and the consequence of those was that I think very highly of those vajra verses. I have not heard officially any teachings from a lama before on Gong Chik and I thank Jigten Sumgon Ratna Shri for this blessings to receive some of it now. As a result on the teachings, some of my lngering dounts on Asanga was also dispelled, making my visualised field of merit, which included Asanga, now very clear. I regard that as having been blessed by Asanga himself. I am beginging to see the power of doing guru yoga. Slowly ..slowly, things are becoming clearer. I also was previleged to see a thangka of Lord Jigten Sumgon without the giant red hat and he was pictured as bald! His hand mudra was like that of Lama Tsongkhapa. Amazing!

3. Oh... I also "bumped" into my protector images. There were the 2 of them (statues) behind a glass display at a shop selling deity statues and  other prayer stuffs at the building next to the Outram Park MRT station. I donot know but they seem to be "tailing" me everywhere I go as if to tell me "I am watching you... do not do anything stupid. We are watching..." Even when I go to Nepal, even though those statues are rare, I still chanced upon them while in Kathmandu. Can you believe it? That's the thing about having protectors! They follow you around. But during the talk on Gong Chik, Chenga Rinpoche did say that our practice of the dharma is actually our own protector. That's because if we are practising properly, then our morality will prevent us from creating misdeeds that will court trouble and create bad karma. Our own morality "manifests" as external deties/helpers. Not anything else. If I slacked, they will go away and take a slumber!  So I am reminded of that!

4. I got myself a meditation cushion. My first one, and I like it very much. It was love at first sight. I like the colour and the pattern. It's mostly red in colour and it is the colour of the Tathagata of the Lotus family, which is Amitabha family. What's cool is that I got it at the 3 for 10 shop in Vivo City shopping mall. It's only 3 items for SGD10. Worth it!

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Gods of Good Fortune, Prosperity and Longevity (Fu Lu Shou)

G2 nights ago, after a meditation practice I had a new understanding of what the three wise chinese gods are. Just who are the three wise chinese gods? In Chinese tradition, they are commonly known as Fu Lu Shou, or Gods of Good Fortune, Prosperity and Longevity. These figures are not known in Buddhism but their statues are commonly dsiplayed in the homes of many Buddhist and Taoist Chinese. The below “conversations” with them will bring new light on who they are and what is the proper way to usher in good fortune, prosperity and longevity into our homes. I will present it in a conversational way so that it's easier to understand (although no conversation took place).

Fu is the first to speak and said: “Many people do all kinds of things during Chinese New Year in the hope of good fortune. But most of them are only doing external things. They wear red. They offer pineapples. They consult fengshui who told them of auspicious and inauspicious directions. They make ridiculous profit margins and cause inflations in economies. But seriously, most of them do not know how to bring about good fortune into their lives. My real name is Cut-down-Greed. Why is my name such? It is when you cut down on greed, have less desires and crazy attachments to profits and gains, that you can gain good fortune. A lot of people can be charitable in their actions but they are still miserly in their attitude. They are still not making any headway in Generosity. Alas! Many people go for bogus ways to enrich themselves. They just do not know what is enrichment. Nor do they count having more virtues as good fortune.”

Then Lu spoke next. He said, “Many people do all kinds of things during Chinese New Year in the hope of prosperity. But most of them are only doing external things. Even among spiritual practitioners, there is so much pride and competition. There is much hatred and anger among people. They have little tolerance. Even if it seems they do have patience, it is really artificial. For tantric practitioners, they desire to be the deities more than they want the qualities of the deities. They do not care whether they develop the enlightened qualities of the deities or not. Nowadays more and more young children are involved in killing and criminal activities. You cannot scold them anymore, If you scold them, they will be offended and retaliate in the most vicious manner. They donot know how to bring about prosperity in their lives. My real name is Cut-down-Anger. Why is my name such? It is when you cut down on anger, hatred and other negative emotions, that you will see more peace in your lives. Because many problems are caused by not being able to control our emotions, once you have more control over yourself, a lot of problems will go away by themselves. Unfortunately people can only see wealth as having more money. They donot see having ethical conduct and morality as prosperity. It is only when we have self-discipline and good conduct will prosperity have a chance to develop in your lives.”

The final person to speak is Shou. He said, “Many people want to live a long life. They become outwardly smarter in inventing all the new modern technology. There are also advances in modern medicine. Yet many people still die young. If it is not due to disease and illnesses, then it is by accident, whether man-made or natural disasters. But little do people know the cause of all their illnesses and accidents. My real name is Cut-down-Ignorance. What is meant by “ignorance” is really our stupid or mind with no wisdom. If we can reduce the ridiculous and stupid actions that we do everyday, and be more wise in our thoughts, actions and speech, you may find that you have less problems. If you can cut down on the many ridiculous food that we consume everyday, then perhaps there will be less chance of contracting a disease. But we love to eat and eat and eat. Sometimes, the words we speak or write can cause us many problems. So, if we can be more careful in what we say and how we say, and less fault finding with others, then we can cut down on our "stupid” words and actions. Hence we will have less problems with others and we can have a chance to live longer. On a deeper level, longevity is not really about living a long life. It is about how much wisdom we have."

The three of them then spoke in unison, "People must not see only money and material gains as good fortune and prosperity. Having a happy and harmonious family is also good fortune and prosperity even when one is not that rich. Be wiser in our daily conduct, and benefit sentient beings. This is the way to true longevity. Now do you understand how to truly invite the three of us into your homes during Chinese New Year?”

I nodded and they smiled before vanishing away. Now whenever I see the three statues of Fu Lu Shou, I will always think of them as the Three wise chinese gods called Uncle Cut-down-desires, Uncle Cut-down Anger and Uncle Cut-down-Ignorance. I suppose it is the same principle with any wealth deities. Many of us crave for material wealth without the necessary hard work and honest trade. We gain wealth by cheating others and selling things at absurd profit margins or we compromise on the quality. Similarly we do wealth rituals in the hope of becoming rich through shortcuts. That is wrong motivation. We are always looking for shortcuts to success. We donot count cutting on our mental defilements and delusions as richness. We consult fengshui master after fengshui master in the hope to overcome our problems and obtain our wishes. And in the process, we fall prey to unscrupulous ones. Who is then to be blamed? Having said that, I acknowledge the difficulty to control one's greed, desires, anger, and other delusions. I know it's not so easy. I haven't managed to control mine yet.

With this new understanding (which I can not get anywhere else and which I have never heard before from anyone, and which you too will not be able to hear this teaching from anywhere else), I try to reflect on the actual meaning of Fu Lu Shou. I take this opportunity to wish all celebrating the New Year of the Rabbit, a happy lunar new year and hopefully you will gain the real Fu Lu Shou! Gong Xi Fa Cai!

Pic from: