Sunday, December 25, 2011

A Time of Merriment and ... Serious Practice

Today is Christmas and many people are celebrating and partying and enjoying the festive mood. Lights and music are everywhere. Shopping malls and cinemas are full of people and many retailers are offering year-end sales. The streets are jammed with cars and people are just going somewhere to have a good time. While we are busy with samsaric indulgence, somewhere in Korea, a group of dedicated meditators are putting extra effort to practice through the night. They cut down on sleep to intensify their effort, hopefully  to gain enlightenment. The reason they do that is because it is to celebrate Sakyamuni Buddha's Enlightenment according to the lunar calendar, which falls on January 1, 2012 according to the normal solar calendar. So, for one week before that, they intensify their efforts to commemorate that achievement. I personally think that it is the best form of celebrating the Buddha's Enlightenment. What better way to celebrate it than to achieve enlightenment yourself! Let's wish the Christians a "Merry Christmas", and the meditators at Mu Sang Sa a "All the Best and Strive With Diligence!" I sincerely hope there will be among them those that will "make it"... if you know what I mean. :)

Even though not that I am indulging in samsara very much, but still comparing with those practitioners, I am like way way behind. Look at Geshe Tenzin Zopa, the former resident geshe of Losang Dragpa Centre. He has gone for a ngondro retreat for one year. He intends to complete his ngondros, then consider going on full three-year retreat. Before him, we hear of Yongey Mingyur Rinpoche who had left a letter behind before he wandered off into the mountains to do his cave retreat. It is unknown when he will return. He was exemplifying the wandering yogis of ancient Tibet like Milarepa. That is amazing. I wish these 2 monks "All the BEST"! After completing all those retreats, people will naturally feel more confident studying with them. Nowadays people are studying and taking guidance from teachers who have not themselves experience any long term meditation retreats. They have not gone through the due process and hence I am not sure how their followers can truly learn from these type of teachers apart from basic teachings. It is only when you have "been through it and done that", that you can seriously teach others something through your experience. But if you have not, you will be just as blind as the others that you are trying to teach. As HH Penor Rinpoche said, even people who have been recognised as reincarnate tulkus need to do extensive study and meditation life after life. But now people do not look at their gurus on this matter. They do not think it is important to have a guru with extensive study and meditation. It does not matter that their guru has not even done the one-year retreat before, let alone the three-year retreat. Their teachers bank on their followers to have faith in them and the followers foolishly think that it is enough just having guru devotion alone (and nothing else). Year-in and year -out the teachers do not teach them much about meditation, and merely give them the basics, some initiations, some pujas, and just these, they think their teachers are really very high attained Buddhas. Sometimes these teachers give highest yoga tantra, and the followers who took them do nothing more than reciting the sadhana six times a day, without much meditation into each session. Even after many years, nothing much has come out of all their practice. And yet, these people do not question themselves. I am not trying to downplay the importance of basics, initiations, sadhanas and pujas, but without a more deeper meditation practice, and developing samatha-vipassana, the root of samsara cannot be severed.

Over here, I am surrounded by sights and sounds and yet my thoughts are with those people experiencing the peace at Mu Sang Sa. My thoughts are also with Geshe Tenzin Zopa doing his ngondros and the wandering Sakyo Mipham Rinpoche experiencing the serenity of his natural green environment. Perhaps one day I shall join them. One day. For me, next year I will probably take on a lower profile. I am not sure what this means, yet. Perhaps I shall cut down on my blog posts. I don't know yet. But I shall endevour to be less visible and lay low for a while. I think I can have one or two more posts for the year before it ends... but we shall see.  

Side Topic
Recently I also feel sad when I read that the First Lady of USA wanted to be her pet dog in her next life. From a Buddhist perspective, wishing to become an animal, no matter how comfortable an animal's life may seem, is a huge "No". Someone better advice her to wish to be human or angel instead. Regardless of whether she actually believed in rebirth or reincarnation or not, it is not good to plant the psychological "seed" in her own mind of wanting to be an animal. Nothing you wished for, even casually goes unnoticed by our own sub-conscious mind. We should be careful what we wish for.

Refer the news here:

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