Saturday, March 31, 2012

The Daimoku has tremendous potential

Nichiren Daishonin
There are some Buddhists who regard Soka Gakkai International as a cult and President Ikeda as the cult leader. But I have this to say. No matter what you think of SGI or Ikeda, do not ever criticise the Daimoku. The Daimoku is the Japanese word for the "Nam Myoho Ren Ge Kyo", the recitation of the name of the Lotus Sutra. You may criticise the persons who recite it if they had abused the Daimoku, but remember the Daimoku is at no fault. The Daimoku is indeed part and parcel of Mahayana Buddhism and it is orthodox. Apart from hearing of some "things" about the members of SGI allegedly misusing the Daimoku for worldly gains (but I do not know how true these are), I do not know enough of SGI and Ikeda to give my opinion of them. Anyway, if you do not fancy Soka Gakkai, there are other lineages within the Nichiren tradition that you could join. Further you do not need to join any of them. Just recite the Daimoku on your own. I think anyone can recite it whether you are practising Zen or Tibetan Buddhism or Pure Land.

Personally, I have recited the Daimoku once upon a time. :) And I still have the small Gohonzon (altar of the Daimoku). Just like the Nembutsu (recitation of Amitabha Buddha's Name), I will never ever criticise or say any negative things of the Daimoku. The Daimoku contains all the spirituality and blessings of the entire Lotus Sutra. It has tremendous potential. So, recite it properly for compassionate and wise purposes, not so much for worldly or petty stuff. I enclose a video I found in youtube of the Daimoku for your blessings! Listen to it. It is so beautiful and enchanting! You can use it for meditation or chanting. I dedicate this blog post to the founder of Nichiren Buddhism - i.e. Nichiren Daishonin. This is my highest tribute to the Lotus Sutra as embodied in the Daimoku.  

Pic of Nichiren from :

Monday, March 26, 2012

Tibet: Sinking Deeper into Samsara

China likes to tell the world that it gives modern development and modern education to Tibetan people. While that can be appreciated from a normal worldly person, little do they know that modern living is regarded as more samsara to the mostly Tibetan Buddhists. Even without the Chinese government, I am confident Tibet can develop too just as well... only maybe in their own development pace. But China does not care about religion. No, it never did since being taken over by the Communist Party of China. Without religion, spirituality takes a back seat and they chase after material living and wealth. Nowadays they are more interested in creating Guinness world of records or always competing with the USA for sporting world records glory. In the process, they sink deeper and deeper into samsara. They also commit more and more negative karma for the nation as the Chinese people forgets about the holy life. The peak of their negative karma happened during the Cultural Revolution when many Buddhist monasteries were destroyed and monks killed or tortured. Buddhist sacred texts were also burned. Karma does not just disappear. Such heavy negative karma will manifest one day in the form of terrible natural disasters. But I do not know when that "one day" will come. However it will surely come.... especially when people are devoid of any virtues. Disasters will come as long as they do not repent and become more sincere in the treatment of Buddhism and other religions. Already in the past several years, some major earthquakes and floods had happened in China. I am really concerned that more lives may perish. And this is true not only for China. Any nation that does not respect religions and the virtue of the holy, will definitely suffer some consequences. Therefore China needs to respect and recognise religions and religious practices in the country. Stop worrying that religions may erode the communist ideas. Also, China needs to engage in talks with the Tibetan government-in-exile and stop regarding His Holiness the Dalai Lama as an enemy of China. No matter how long ago China has received gifts from Tibetan kings from the time of ancient kingdoms, that is not a prove that Tibet belongs to China. And even if it does, cannot China practice some benevolence to let it go and give independence to Tibet? I suppose that will not happen as China is so attached to its territories. Okay, forget independence. But China cannot even consider giving autonomy to Tibet just as His Holiness the Dalai Lama had proposed. They keep on finding fault with the Dalai Lama, no matter how sincere he is. If China suffers any major disasters in the future, it will be due to their huge negative national karma. And the only way to relieve such suffering is for China to infuse spirituality and religion back into the Chinese lives.  I do not normally comment on what is happening in Tibet and China's policy on Tibet. But I will do this much for His Holiness the Dalai Lama and to repay back the kindness of so many Tibetan masters who have taught the holy dharma to so many lives in the rest of the world. I also think of the many Tibetan lives who have been sacrificed for the Tibetan cause. I write this blog post with the sincere hope that China will engage positively with the Tibetans without a pre-conceived notion on His Holiness the Dalai Lama. I cannot influence anyone. These are just my thoughts on Tibet and the Dalai Lama. That's all I can do as a small, little Buddhist.

Saturday, March 24, 2012

Don't Be Distracted by Inner Peace...

by on Mar 7, 2012
Our minds are filled with confusion. We obsess endlessly. We anticipate, we regret, we brood and we scheme. We want what we don’t have, and we don’t want what we have. At times we feel under assault. At times we feel forgotten. The Sanskrit word for this is dukha. It is often translated as “suffering,” but what is really means is pervasive, at times unbearable, dissatisfaction.

When we are aware of this inner noise, this dukha, we naturally want it to stop. We think there is some other state we should be in – calm, peace or even nirvana. We go looking for it. We try this and we try that, and now and then we do feel peaceful; we do feel calm. And it feels really good.

So we try to hold onto this feeling. We become anxious that something will interfere with our morning cup of coffee, our five-mile run. Which just increases our feeling of dukha. It’s like the Gordian knot – you can’t untie it. But you can cut through it. Don’t be distracted by inner peace. Don’t be distracted by anxiety. Don’t be distracted by anything. What are you doing right now? What is in front of you right now? Pay attention, see clearly and act correctly. It’s simple, but not easy. Our delusions mislead us. Our thoughts and feelings control us. We don’t know who we are. Some kind of practice, a daily practice over a lifetime, is necessary to cut through all this. And not in isolation, but within a community, to cut through self-absorption and delusion.

What kind of practice? It’s up to you. My great-grandmother davened (Jewish prayer) every morning. My mother-in-law went to Mass every morning. I meditate every morning. Find what fits. Then do it, if you’ll excuse the expression, religiously.

Bullock, J., & Roitman, J. (2005, June 25). Faith Forum: How do you find inner peace? Lawrence Journal World. Retrieved March 6, 2012,

Thursday, March 22, 2012

No Apostasy and Blasphemy in Buddhism

Dear fellow Buddhists,
Buddhism respects lives. It places lives as more important than religion. Yes, a single life is more valuable than what you and I would commonly call "Buddhism". Non-Buddhists can go ahead to ridicule the Buddha but Buddhists are not going to threaten them in any way as they would if we were to ridicule theirs. But of course, Buddhists will not do any such thing. Generally Buddhists do not go spreading their "word", hence Buddhists do not need to convert others by saying negative things about their religion, especially to say that their religion is wrong. Their religions are not wrong. For Buddhists, we believe that every religion has a role to play and it fits into somebody's conditions and inner character. But conditions and character changes over time. So when they do change, what suits you then, may not be appropriate for you anymore in the future. Then your faith changes and your spiritual direction also changes. That's how spiritual practice evolves over time until one achieves enlightenment. At least this is what I believe Buddhism is about. Hence it is certainly not right if Buddhists say that Buddhism is more important or more right than other religions or more important than other lives. Buddhists should not and cannot kill another life in the name of Buddhism nor the Buddha. We don't do such things, at least it is not our philosophy. Committing acts of terrorism to promote religion is not what Buddhists believe in. Thank goodness I am already on this peaceful path and I am not leaving it for any others. Yet if any Buddhist feel other religions are better for them, and can make them better persons, by all means they can embrace the other religions. In Buddhism, there is no apostasy. Anyone can leave Buddhism at any time. Yeah! Buddhism is not a religion where you become fanatical about...until we need to control adherents from leaving it. We also do not need to condemn those who leave it. Yet, that does not mean that if we see a situation where Buddhists are being taken advantaged of, we do nothing. If this happens, we should protect the sanctity of the dharma in the wisest manner. Being compassionated does not mean allowing ourselves to be bullied by others. On the contrary, we can use the situation as best we could to point to the dharma and saving ourselves as well as others. This is because Buddhism is a journey of having compassion for lives, and ensuring our inner peace is fused with outer conditions. Being a Buddhist is living our lives with wisdom and compassion, in a way that is not possible by following any fixed dogma or religious texts. In other words, if you breathe compassion and wisdom on your everyday life, no matter what is your religious label, then you are no different from being a Buddhist. And if you label yourself a Buddhist but do not have compassion or wisdom, and react angrily when others talk badly about the Buddha, or draw cartoon caricatures of the Buddha, then you are not acting as a true Buddhist. There is no blasphemy in Buddhism. There is only incurring good or bad karma for oneself. Unlike some other religions, Buddhists will not be punished in hell or regarded as "soldiers of the devil" if you speak badly of the Buddha. Karma is not imposed by the Buddha. It is not a law created by him. It is self-operative. It happens naturally. So when the Bamiyan Buddhas were destroyed, generally Buddhists do not threaten the lives of anyone who did the destruction. We behave properly as Buddhists should. And that is a shining example of what Buddhism and the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha stand for. If the number of Buddhist adherents decline in the future, it must never be because of compromising on our principles. If other religious adherents wants to bully us, let us be called cowards, but still we must never let our principles of wisdom and compassion be compromised. It is such a shame that there are other religions who think it is okay to kill other lives in the name of God and religion. If one needs to kill anyone for the glory of God, then Buddhists would rather perish than to kill someone else. The case of Tibetans killed in self-immolation is a great example of self-sacrifice and non-harming of others, even though human life is indeed precious! Let this be known! Hence generally Buddhists do not idolize the Buddha by dedicating everything to the glory of the Buddha, whereas other religions idolize their God. Therefore it is most incorrect for other religions to criticize Buddhists for idolizing the Buddha. We don't even worship the Buddha in this sense. This is something non-Buddhists find it difficult to understand. They think we are worshipping the Buddha in the same way as they worship their God. Actually it is not the same. So they continue their own deluded thinking about Buddhism (nothing much we can do if they refuse to understand) and we continue our own way, wishing them all the best. We bear no ill-will on them. In fact, we need to have lots of patience with them and all sentient beings. For how else can enlightenment or liberation be gained without patience - a key virtue consisting of both wisdom and compassion?

Sunday, March 18, 2012

The Struggles with Desire

Yesterday was a challenging day for me as it was a day a "devil" tried to "seduce" me, but thankfully, I was still very mindful of what I stand for, especially my principles. I will never trade in my "spiritual specialities" for some dumb worldly stuff. And a rain that came pouring in suddenly became my excuse for not "giving in". It was good to be tested and be able to cut evil just as it arises. You know it is like in the midst of anger, just as you are about to stab into someone and committing a kill, you stopped your anger just in the nick of time. Controlling yourself at that time and thus avoiding huge negative karma. If you have not been tempted before and successfully passing this kind of test, then you have not really had a matured spiritual experience. Pure abstinence from worldly temptations is not enough. You have to submerge in it and yet not liking it, to be able to transcend it. But just a caution here. If you are not ready for this kind of test, you can actually find yourself drowning in worldly temptations. Be warned! Real renunciation is achieved by revulsion, not abstinence! It must be true revulsion, because sometimes you think you do not like something, but it is actually still hiding somewhere inside you! Still lurking in the dark, waiting to come out when you least expect it. And then, when it does appear, at that time, it will be too late for you!

And as if the Buddhas knew, right after that, I bumped into a Tzu Chi booth at a local night market. Just as I flipped over some books at their booth, I saw a message on a particular page of a book (I think it is Jing Si aphorism). It says something about humans not being able to give up worldly desires. To me that it both a warning/reminder and a blessing to me for being able to let it go in the nick of time. That encounter with Tzu Chi also provided me with an eye opener of the activities of Tzu Chi which I will write about in a later blog post. For now, I am just dealing with my own internal struggles. Even Gautama Buddha who as a bodhisattva sitting there under the Bodhi tree before his enlightenment, was tempted by Mara and his seductive daughters. Venerable Ananda was also tempted by the daughter of a witch named Matangi and was cast in a magic spell. Using Only Surangama mantra, the Buddha was able to break that spell. I am thinking everyone has to go through it. You do not want to get "enlightened" only to find that you are still tempted by sensual pleasures, do you? There are monks or Lamas /Masters who find out this hard truth and found themselves embroiled in sexual scandals. At that time, the line between having "sex" as a spiritual practice or liberating activity and succumbing to desires will be blurred. Hence, the sooner you experience this test the better, preferably before your first stage of enlightenment (i.e. the path of seeing). There is one more thing you must understand. Desire is usually not rooted at one go, it is done as a process or in stages. So, one must always be on guard. You may think you have rooted out desires, but actually it may only be gross desire. But the subtle desire is still there. Only by testing oneself, do we know it is still there. But be ready first, do not get yourself in trouble unnecessarily just to test yourself. It would be silliness!    

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Still fooling around

One day is over, and another day has come. Very soon all the days in our short life as humans will be over. Still we are fooling around with things that are ultimately unimportant. That is why I don't strive hard to be high corporate flyers such as CEOs, or become millionaires. I used to think that I should become financially independent before I can really practice. But some years ago, I realise that this concept is not true at all. There is only managing one's finances properly and ensuring it is enough for the rest of our lives! Anything more than this is a blessing. We should put more focus on character building as a foundation for our spiritual development. Some people may wonder why it is so hard to be a saint. Actually the hardest part for most of us is to how to be a proper human being. We cannot even be a proper human being, and we want to be a saint? Fat hope, right? But many people cannot accept this fact. There is no self-reflection, and self-examination. These are just my own notes as it comes to my mind. I write it down, so that I won't forget it.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Donation to St. Nicholas Home for the Blind.

I celebrated today in the most meaningful way. I donated further to St Nicholas Home for the Blind. That, and perhaps eating a peach cake from Secret Recipe. Too bad I did not have the photo of it. Later I will eat a portion of the carrot brownie. This post is not so much of any spiritual value. It is just for record purposes. If you want to donate too, just google it and there is a link in their homepage for online  donations. To be unable to see what is before us, is a most sorrowful pain! Better repent before we lose our sight!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

How I celebrated Kuan Yin Bodhisattva's Birthday?

Today, Chinese Mahayanist celebrate the birthday of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva. I append below the youtube chanting by the Kwan Um School of Zen. These 3 chantings are done on a daily basis in their evening service/puja.  It is in Korean language but some of the sounds are transliterations of the actual sound in sanskrit. I love the melody. I played the musical chants and/or recited together with each yesterday and today.

The Great Compassionate Dharani

Thousand Eyes and Hands Sutra Chanting

The Heart Sutra

fruits & food offering
flowers for Kuan Yin
What did I do today? Today I did a small Lama Chopa and Tshok (or called "Ganacakra" in sanskrit, which is a meal offering feast for Kuan Yin. I regarded my Vajradhara Lama in the aspect of Kuan Yin/Chenrezig and recited the short Lama Chopa and tshok liturgy. The meal offering is very simple but consisted of the best red traditional pastry (called "ang ku" in Hokkien dialect, bought from the shop, which is said to be selling one of the best "ang-kus, although that can be disputed; refer to picture) and big juicy green and yellow pears as well as a big delicious orange. I did not choose small cheap ones. I especially choose these fruits to reflect 3 different colours (to denote the inner, outer and secret offerings). I also offered beautiful chrysanthemum flowers. Look at the pictures which I took. After that, I played the Surangama Mantra and listened to it for quite a while. So, that's how I celebrated Kuan Yin's birthday today. How about you? How did you celebrate it?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

"Ghost Adventures": Not All Ghosts Are Evil

I refer to the local TV series “Seekers” and the American “Ghost Adventures”. In these TV series, they show so-called “ghost hunters” trying to seek and detect ghosts or so-called “ghosts” (because some paranormal activities may not actually be due to presence of ghosts) in haunted places. Once they have detected such “ghosts”, they harassed and disturbed these ghosts in many ways. They treat these ghosts as if all of them are evil and are all demons. After disturbing and calling out these ghosts, and if any of the humans get possessed, they will use various religious chants to get rid of these ghosts. I have seen episodes in “Ghost Adventures” where the humans involved dared the ghosts and show their bravado saying things like, “I am not scared of you, show yourself”. It shows their silliness because it is not that ghosts do not want to let you see them, rather it is because you are limited by your own human eyesight. Human eyesight can only see objects up to the 3rd dimension. Ordinary eyes cannot see objects in other dimensions. Therefore, it is equally silly to not believe things do exist beyond the 3 dimensional boundaries. An example of such silly conceptions is disbelieving in the existence of ghosts and spirits. Similar to humans, I would also like to say that not all ghosts are evil.

Anyway I think that people should leave ghosts and spirits alone if they did not disturb them. And if they do, try to help the ghosts, not exterminate them. Try to help ghosts in sorrow. They are the ones that normally haunt people and places. Other religions may regard these beings as evil, and usually exterminate them by exorcism. But Buddhism is different. We help them gain better rebirth or at least out of their present predicament by transferring merits to them. We offer them food and drinks and smokes. Yes, smokes – ghosts are said to thrive on smokes and fragrances. It is particularly liberating if combined with mantras and scriptures in prayer sessions (or “puja”). So, I am not happy that ordinary scientists and other humans, who do not know about the predicament of these beings, try “experimenting” with ghosts. They end up harassing these unseen beings and often making the situation worse in many cases. Humans should not try to capture or meddle with ghosts and spirits in anyway. If they do not harm anyone, leave them alone. And if they do, try to understand why they do that and help solve it if you can. If not, leave it to the real experts, such as good Buddhist masters. Otherwise, stay away! Whenever I see these types of TV programmes, and seeing what they do on screen, I shake my head. May All Ghosts and Spirits be Liberating and Not be Tormented! May They Gain Rebirth in Amitabha Pure Land!


Note: The "Movie" label includes TV series.