Saturday, January 21, 2012

Journey to the West - Part2

Some notes on what I learned from the drama:-

1. The mani that the Buddha placed on top of the Five Element Mountain that trapped Monkey is supposedly Om Mani Padme Hum. And the secret mantra that the Monk recites to tighten the ring over Monkey's head is also Om Mani Padme Hum. That in itself is a lesson to us that this mantra is so powerful it can help control our delusions and eventually will lead us to what is good.

2. Today's episode (30/1/12) we are taught a lesson on the importance of Bodhicitta. The Monkey was able to see through any demon guised as a human but the Monk cannot. So, Monkey killed those demons but his Master was unhappy that he killed 3 persons in one day. The Monk then asked Monkey to leave him saying that he is unworthy to go to the West to obtain the Buddha's scriptures. The Monkey tried to explain to his Master that in actual fact those "humans" he "killed" were actually demons out to devour the Monk. The Monk is not taken in by the explanation. He said that Monkey is endowed with the ability to see demons in disguised and able to kill them in one blow. But it is useless to go with him to get the scriptures because one who is not compassionate is unworthy of the journey. The Monk said he had realised this from teachings by Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. And indeed, he stressed that having bodhicitta is one of the most important criteria before one can get the scriptures from the Buddha. He said not everybody is worthy of the journey. Monkey said if not for him killing the demons, they would have been killed by the demons instead. But the Monk was unperturbed in wanting to instill bodhicitta in Monkey. That is the lesson Monkey must learn, even if it means being harsh to Monkey. He recited the mantra to tighten the ring on Monkey's head. And in the end, wrote the letter of severance to end Master-Disciple relationship with Monkey. In the end, Monkey left reluctantly after bowing to the master one last time. So, what can be learned from this? Plenty.

-  It is useless to be in a hurry to achieve enlightenment without cultivating and letting our bodhicitta blossom in FULL. Achieving enlightenment is not like turning on a switch whereby suddenly you are endowed with compassion. It does not work like that. We are not mechanical machine. Great compassion must be instilled in our hearts while we are still unenlightened. Then only we are qualified to earn that status. Many people instead are more interested in opening their physical cakras nowadays without developing their inner virtues. They think virtues can be gained mechanically. How wrong! That is why some so-called "enlightened master" still are found to have gross faults. Such masters will never learn because their students cover it up by their "guru devotion", i.e. faith in seeing the master as PERFECT. Such students will also never truly gain much because their masters do not have proper virtues in the first place.

- It is not always right to insist right over wrong. Even though sometimes we know we are right, but it is sometimes good to relent and let others have their way. But slowly you try to let the dharma reach out to them. Not directly but in a wiser, more creative way. we must also have the patience to wait for the opportune time to cross over any sentient being. And not immediately brand or be too quick to label someone or something as good or bad. Labelling should not be the primary purpose but having compassion for people is. It is not good to leave others estranged but instead as Buddhists, we should learn how to gather others (Buddhists and non-Buddhists, animals, ghosts, hell-beings and heavenly gods) in. Gather eveybody in - Buddhists or Taoists gods/deities. Buddhists tend to make the mistake of putting aside Chinese gods that they think are more Taoists than Buddhists, and refuse to make offerings of flowers, fruits and joss-sticks to these gods. They think that making these offerings will make them less Buddhist. How ridiculous! I think it is okay to "gather" such deities and gods "in" by making offerings to them on their holy days or respecting them by putting our palms together for festivals dedicated to these gods. Tonight Chinese of hokkien descend will pray to Jade Emperor to mark his birthday. I have a friend who told me today she is not praying anymore because it is considered a Taoist god. By my comments above, you already know that I think of that. Even Theravadins have a puja praise to the Heavenly gods and they do offer flowers in local shrines dedicated to such heavenly gods. By no means are they taking refuge in these gods. They are merely making offerings and being respectful. Hence I think it is okay to celebrate Jade Emperor's birthday.

- As soon as Monkey left his master, and returning to his home in Flower-Fruit Mountain, he learned that his kingdom has been destroyed by a freak fireball and by an unknown entity. So, returning to his homeland on a bad experience has also enabled Monkey to help his people.

I will add more notes here instead of creating new posts. So do come back to this post from time to time.

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