Friday, December 30, 2011

Closing Year Message: Take Care of the Mind

As 2011 comes to a close and we usher in 2012, I think of the many things that happened in the past 12 months. Some important gurus are no longer with us such as Kyabje Lama Lhundrup of FPMT's Kopan Monastery. Bhagavan Sri Sathya Sai Baba have manifested stillness. It was a challenging year for FPMT with Kyabje Lama Zopa manifesting stroke. Personally it was a tough year too both domestically as well as work wise. However, I want to thank the Guru-Buddha, Guru-Dharma and Guru-Sangha first of all for all the blessings received during the year. Without this blessing to come into contact with the Guru-Triple Gem, no other blessings possibly matters. That is just how important the gurus are. It is due to the blessings of gurus, that I reconnected back to the late Seung Sahn Sunim and the Kwan Um School of Zen that he founded. This year I attended a meditation retreat headed by a Zen Master who received dharma transmission from ZM Seung Sahn. Having been a student to Seun Sahn Sunim and having met him before, it was not so problematic to get to know the existing Zen Masters. I am regarded as an "old student" by them so to speak, even though I had not had much contact with the School after my correspondence with ZMSS ended. But now with the knowledge that they do organise regular retreats every year in most of their Zen centres, my spiritual direction is clearer going forward. Now I can fulfill my direction of doing more retreats. Without the blessing of having met Seung Sahn Sunim in the past, I do not see if their Zen retreats will mean as much to me now. Next I want to say my gratitudes to my family and being close to them, caring for them and be cared for by them, we naturally avoid many troubles. Any hindrance is easily overcome. Therefore, our spouse and children are our closest protectors. So, I thank my family here. Then I have to thank my external root and subsidiary protectors who did a fantastic job this year. I want to mention the incident whereby I fell on the slippery icy ground twice in an oversea country recently. That was the first time I saw real natural snow! And without signboards to warn tourists of slippery grounds, I fell in no time. On those occasions, I definitely risked having a head concussion and fracturing my limbs. I say this because I was informed by another visitor whereby a lady, also from Malaysia, had fractured her wrist from a fall at the same place and as a result, her holiday was ruined. Although she is said to be older, it does not mean my bones are stronger. We never know our karma. On my second fall especially, I thought I risked breaking my back or injuring my spinal cord. It was an even harder fall. But thankfully, somehow the pouch bag that I was wearing, which is normally in front, somehow I found it at the back. It, therefore, unexpectedly cushioned my fall and I end up with only some pain. Here I learned that certain karma may not be avoided and we have to face it. Having some blessings could help smoothen our handling of bad times. Having a good protector is also the result of having some good karma. So, nothing escapes karma.  I have also done a Dorje Khadro fire puja ngondro before my trip, so that purification possibly helped too. And I remember that I was sick for a few weeks before my trip.
I also would like to express my thanks to friends, especially those who read my blog. Next year will be tougher and I can foresee it will be very challenging for me personally. Therefore, I need to lay low for a while and that means I may not be able to write as much as before. 
When "the final countdown" song blares in the air in every city around the world, most people will be busy enjoying themselves, oblivious to the fact that death may occur to them in 2012. This is for those who will die in 2012. We wish we knew when we will die, don't we? Then we can prepare ourselves. But the thing is death can come at any time. And Buddhists are taught to prepare ourselves all the time. Some other religions may think we are pessimistic. But I rather think we are actually pessimistically realistic than realistically pessimistic. You understand the difference here? Think about it. 
I wish everyone goodbye, thank you for reading my blog and I apologise for whatever wrong I might have committed/ offended either knowingly or otherwise. I will end this with a quote from the Ch’an Master Yun-men who said, “Every Day is a Good Day!” I certainly need to be reminded of this since next year is forecasted to be not so good according to feng shui and especially for people with certain horoscopes. I try not to think of it but people keep reminding me of this. Master Yun-Men is not saying that there will never be any bad days. He is saying that if we take care of the mind, then no matter what happens, it is okay. Then 2012 (or any year) will be no problem. We don’t have to freak out. Essentially our own mind is our best protector! So, that is basically my motto for next year. I repeat – “Everyday is a good day!” I might just enlarge it on a poster and hang it on my wall... less I forget. That and "Avoid evil do good, purify the mind" must adorn my walls. :) Take care!  

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