Saturday, April 28, 2012

Karma Can be Changed... but not immediately!

Dharma talk by Zen Master Dae Bong

Some years ago in Korea, there lived a very devout Buddhist family. In his home, the father had a small room set up for meditation. He also had two teenage daughters. The older one was very responsible and always did the right thing. However, the younger one was quite wild. Perhaps today that would not seem so odd, but back then it was unheard of. She’d sneak out at night, go dancing, drinking, sleeping around, the whole nine yards. The older sister was always on her case about it, but the father was very kind to the younger daughter. Finally the older daughter went to the father and complained, She’s no good, she does all these bad things. Why are you so nice to her? Why don’t you correct her?

No, no, no, you don’t understand, said the father. I used to check her room and see that she was gone and then stay up and yell at her when she got home. But one day when I was waiting for her to come back, I fell asleep. When I awoke she had already come back and she was in our dharma room bowing and later sitting. So afterwards I asked her, What were you doing? And she said, I know I have this bad karma, I just can’t control it. But I try to bow to Buddha every day 108 times and sit and hope that I can change this karma. So then I said, Oh, very good. You just continue that way.

Still the older daughter was angry, That doesn’t matter! She still does all these bad things!
But the father remained very kind towards the younger daughter. Over time, the girl’s desire started to calm down. Before she would run out every chance she got, then only a couple times a week and then only once a week. Finally, going out wasn’t that interesting to her any more. She even enjoyed bowing, sitting, and doing things to help others.

At the same time, the older daughter started to think, Our father’s always nice to my sister even though she’s so bad… I’m going to do that, too. So she started to go out at night and dance, drink, and sleep with guys. Then the father started to talk to her. But she would always say, No! I’ll do what I want! I like it! The sister, too, couldn’t get anywhere with her. Finally, the sister had to go with some relatives, grab her, tie her up, and bring her home.

That’s a funny story about karma. Everybody has karma. Some of it we consider good, and some bad. But if we have a practicing mind, then we can change our karma. But if we have an "I like it!" mind and don’t develop a practicing mind, then we will really have a problem. Zen Master Seung Sahn has always been a good teacher because he understands that people have karma. If you want to, you can change even the strongest karma. However, you can’t always do that immediately. But if you keep trying, if you keep developing a practicing mind, then finally you can become stronger than your karma. Then your karma will follow your direction, rather than you following your karma.

Zen Master Seung Sahn said that our karma is like a dog. If you take a dog for a walk, sometimes you walk straight, but the dog runs all over the place. He smells something, then runs over there; he pees and looks for food round and round. But if you are the master and you keep going straight, eventually the dog will end up at the same place you do. The dogs not going to run off completely; it will always come back to where you are. So our practicing mind is like that. If we make our practicing mind strong, then our karma will run this way and that way, but eventually it will come back to where we are; it will follow us. Then we can use our karma to help other people.

Note: It means no matter what is our situation, we should try to bring it into our spiritual practice in order to achieve our spiritual goal. At the least, do not make whatever "situation" or "condition" we have into a hindrance or an excuse not to practice.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sai Baba's advice: Study the Mind

On the occasion of the 1st anniversary of Sathya Sai Baba’s Mahaparinirvana, referred to as Maha Samadhi in the Sai organizations, during the puja session, these are the essence of the teachings by Sai Baba given through a video message. The video was of him giving a talk to a group of students during Shivarathri festival in 2009. Firstly he stressed the teachings on impermanence of the body, giving referring to the physical bodies of avatars from Rama’s time until now, they are all impermanent. Their bodies were only an illusion. In actual fact, he stressed that the true form of avatars are formless. Similarly our bodies are also impermanent but our mind is that of Atma - formless. But the formlessness manifest as forms throughout the ages. He is trying to tell his students that similarly his own body is also impermanent and not to be too attached to it.  He also talked a bit on concentration, contemplation and meditation, distinguishing distinctly these 3 terms. He said when we focus on the god form, it is an example of concentration. And when the form moves about, or when there is movement, it becomes contemplation. What he is saying, I think, is that when there is thinking or analysis involved, then it becomes contemplation. It is something like the Buddhist Vipassana meditation. Also, during tantric visualizations, when you visualize the light shining, or visualizing making mandala offerings, then it involves some movements. It becomes “contemplation” according to Bhagavan Baba. When we are developed in these 2 aspects, then only it becomes “meditation”. He said true meditation is when we could see the god-form whether we close or open our eyes. His words reminded me that this is exactly what is stated by the Vajrayana Masters on meditation of yidam. Otherwise it is not “meditation”. Most often, Baba said, people are only engaging in either concentration or contemplation. The sequence of concentration, contemplation and meditation reminded me of the Buddhist way fo samtha, vipassana and then a union of samatha and vipassana. He also added that we should not just meditate, but meditate with love. After that he talked a little on the composition of what constitutes “us”. He said a person is made of body, mind, the intellect and inner senses. I am not sure if the translation is accurate but these are the terms used in the English translation in the video. He said the body is gone when the other components leave it. Lastly, he stressed the need for students to study their textbooks. Note that he was speaking to school-going students. But, he also made a point, and this was the “bomb”. I did not expect it coming. He said they should also study the mind. He paused to let the audience absorb that, and added that, to get their priorities right, if they are in a class, they should only study the textbooks. Although he ventured on to urge the students (mostly Hindus) to study the Upanishads, I was thinking that as Buddhists, he was spot-on to urge his devotees to study the mind. As I understand it, in Hinduism, not many people really study the mind. Therefore Baba advocated them to study it first. Then only they can purify the mind and understand the nature of the mind.  In Buddhism, there are many texts and scriptures devoted to studying the mind, its workings and compositions. Hence Baba’s advice to study the mind is very much in line with the Buddha’s teachings. In my mind, I was thinking, “Yes, Baba… I will continue to study the mind.” With Baba’s explanation of the 3 meditation terms, I feel I am clearer now in terms of the meditation I am doing. At least, now I can understand his simple explanation of these 3 terms. So, that teaching and bhajan session, ended with a queue to make offerings of flowers to Baba. On the way out after offering flowers, each person is to take a pinch of the vibuthi (holy ashes) and a small teaspoon of water to drink and sprinkle on the head. I thought that is very similar to the Tibetan Buddhist practice during empowerments, except that in Buddhism we don’t use vibuthi. We use biscuits or candies instead. Then we all adjourned to take the prasadam (food/meal after the puja, just like Tibetan tshok). In short, I am glad I went. Oh- and I have to add that they did not announce that each person must contribute a certain sum of money for the event. They are silent on that and let individuals donate as they wish. Or, we could purchase the items on sale at the souvenir/gift corner.  One more thing, in the video clip, there were scenes of the funeral and one scene clearly showed several Arabs (in their traditional headgear and long white dress) paying their last respects to Sathya Sai Baba. Looks like there are Arabs who do believe in him. Hmmm...this was quite a discovery. Om Sai Ram.   

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Lama Zopa Rinpoche's Advice to Us

The following is picked up from Kyabje Rinpoche's advice as published in the FPMT  2011 Annual Report and also in FPMT's website. Before Rinpoche gave this advice, I have already committed to reducing my meat intake several years ago. I only hope people who profess to be diehard Rinpoche students will learn to take heed of this advice. One of the things they should do is to do away with any meat whatsoever from ever being eaten in FPMT centres. The other thing I want to say is that there are "people from that banished group" (banned by HH the Dalai Lama) had been saying that Rinpoche got a stroke due to his broken samaya with that .... (unmentionable)... This is totally rubbish and nonsense. They create all sorts of contradictory talks even with other respectable Lamas. They want to create doubts in our minds. They should stop all the lies. In honour of Rinpoche and the coming Wesak celebration, I will try to be meatless for the entire day from the 15th of the 3rd Lunar month to Wesak Day (which is on 5 May, 2012). Anyway, here's Rinpoche's sweet advice. 

My very dear most precious, wish-fulfilling, dearest benefactors, students, staff of the FPMT organization, friends and everybody.
Because I had a stroke you can’t imagine all the pujas that have been done in Tibet, India and all over the world, it is most unbelievable the amount of pujas that have been done, such as so many hundreds and thousands and millions of Padmasambhava mantras and Om Mani Padme Hum in Tibet and so on, in many different places by individuals, groups and centers, projects and services. Then especially the liberation of animals, so many in Tibet and other places, of course that is a very good thing as it helps the animals to not suffer and not be killed.

When I was in hospital I saw a program about animals that were sold to be killed in Indonesia and other countries (live export), I don’t know how long this has been going one, must be already for a long time.

On the TV I saw the goats waiting in line, between wood fences, it didn’t show how they were killed, but it showed one cow that was on the platform, with the head tied, being pulled down to be killed. The cow didn’t want to go and the man was pulling it. I thought I don’t have power to stop all this killing, but what I can do is to try to inspire people to become vegetarian and since then whatever teaching I am giving, even if it is tantra, I am trying to talk to people about becoming vegetarian, to avoid eating meat or to eat less meat so that there are less animals getting killed. I am trying like that.

Then just to mention that one person in Vietnam became vegetarian because he heard I was sick and one student from Amitabha Buddhist Center in Singapore took lifetime Mahayana precepts after she heard I was sick and one prisoner in USA also stopped eating meat. So they are really really amazing!

I am very, very sorry, even the abbots of the large monasteries and high officials in the Tibetan Government, when they get sick or die don’t have so many pujas done, but I who is nothing, has no education, from this life and neither from past lives, just an old cow that couldn’t even chew the grass well, difficult to benefit others, so all over the world individuals and also centers did so many pujas and each monks at Nalanda Monastery recited 1000 x the long Namgyalma mantra, so that is really amazing, this helps them so much, it is most unbelievable, most unbelievably powerful, after that they will have so much power to help others, it is such a rare thing to have done.

Really there are no words left to thank everyone, even to those who just did some prayers, with a positive heart, so with my palms together at the heart, really thank you. So now I will try to benefit, with two or three words of Dharma that I know, just like imitating, like a tape recorder, I will try like that as much as possible to help others.

For me this experience has been like learning the lam-rim, which is the heart of the Dharma, the heart of the Kangyur and Tengyur. To really understand that karma is definite - once virtue has been created and dedicated to enlightenment and sealed with emptiness and not destroyed by heresy or anger and once non-virtue has been created and if it has not been purified then it is definite that one will have to experience the result.

Then karma is expandable - even if what is created is very small, the result is expandable. For example according to King Ashoka's life story, when he was child playing in the sand he offered a handful of sand to the Buddha, but he visualized that it was gold and he actually received the merit of having actually offered gold in Buddha’s beggar bowl. In his next life he was born as a Dharma King, he was very wealthy and was able to build ten million stupas in one day. So that is amazing, amazing, amazing, unbelievable merits he was able to collect. So this is the same in regards to negative karma.

This means it is very important to abandon even small negative karma as much as possible and to practice even small good karma as much as possible. To really put effort in this way.

Then if the cause has been created then one will experience the result of that karma, the result will never get lost, no matter how many billions of years ago it was created, one will still have to experience the result. For example we can see this in our lives, maybe somebody is so beautiful, so healthy, then suddenly their whole body totally changes, becomes so sick. They might wonder what happened, that they didn’t do anything bad in this life so why now do they have to experience this pain. So this is the result of negative karma created either in this life or billions and billions of eons ago. One should not relate everything to just this life, that is silly. We must have created so much karma from beginningless rebirth, that we have not yet finished experiencing the results.

Then karma that is created never gets lost – no matter how small the karma is, the result never gets lost. This has been really a serious teaching for me.

Please everybody, dear ones, wish-fulfilling dears, most precious friends, please rejoice in the unbelievable, unbelievable merit that has been created, please rejoice in all the pujas that have been done by every single individual, or in groups, and also please rejoice for all those who have dedicated their lives to FPMT, all the directors and staff who have sacrificed their lives for many years, completely sacrificed their most precious time, as well as those who have done practices, even simple good prayers, for the organization, everyone has taken on so many hardships, this is real bodhisattva actions and real guru yoga practice, by doing the work or practice, thinking of the Guru, so in this way fulfilling His Holiness the Dalai Lama’s advice, fulfilling the wishes of all the buddhas and bodhisattvas, by pleasing them by benefitting sentient beings, with the teachings of Buddha, by studying and also by practicing.

On behalf of all the buddhas and bodhisattvas, His Holiness the Dalai Lama, Lama Yeshe, every single sentient being and minute me - thank you from my heart, with my palms together (even the right hand which has stroke and doesn’t stay up so well) but still putting them both together, with all my ten fingers, thank you, thank you all every day, every hour, every minute and every second, thank you very much.

Please enjoy with bodhicitta, enjoy the happiness of Dharma with bodhicitta.

Lama Zopa

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Journey to the West - Part 3

Refer to this link for the making of the “Journey to the West” and theme song, they really put so much effort within those 8 months of fliming. They filmed at so many locations and often have to carry tonnes of equipment along the uncharted paths, and putting up with the weather conditions. Even though the special effect is nothing like the ones you see in Hollywood movies, you have to understand they made this drama series with the budget and equipment/know-how that they have. .  

There was an episode whereby a certain King of a small kingdom had been pushed into a well by a demon in disguised. The demon-in-disguise had earlier gained the trust of the king ever since he ended a drought and became appointed as the king’s advisor. While sleeping at a Buddhist temple, the Tripitaka Monk had a dream in which the dead king, who had died 3 years ago, sought the help of the Monk to vanquish the said demon. After pushing the king into the well, he turned into the image of the king and told his subjects that the king’s advisor had fallen into the well. Monkey was instrumental in helping reveal to his subjects that the so-called king was actually a demon in disguised. And the Monkey had sought the help from Medicine God (Tai Shang Lau Jun, mainly in Taoism) to revive the actual king and was given a magical pill. The actual king was successfully revived and the demon was vanguised. However, there was a twist at the end of the story. It was revealed that the demon was actually the lion that Bodhisattva Manjusri rides on. He had to manifest on earth as a demon on instructions from the Buddha to cross over the king who had earlier imprisoned the manifestation of Manjusri. Apparently Bodhisattva Manjusri had gone to test and teach the king to be more sincere when doing good deeds. The king was said to be only concerned about his own pride when doing good deeds and not so concerned whether the deeds actually benefited the people or not. Anyway, the lion had gone to help release his master and through consultations with the Buddha had decided to manifest as a demon to turnover the king. Even though the king was pushed into the well, and while being “dead”, he was actually being taught by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. The Buddha wanted to enable him to stay in the Buddha’s Pure Land but apparently his merits were not enough yet. Thus he had to return to earth as a human again. The Buddha did not tell Tai Shang Lau Jun but through causes and condition, somehow I think he knew and the pill was given to Monkey. Therefore, we cannot really judge a person by his or her outer appearance. Sometimes outside a being may be a demon, but in actual fact it can be a bodhisattva. Conversely, a person can look very saintly externally, but may have bad intentions in his/her heart.         
There are also episodes whereby a cow (belonging to one dewa) and a fish (belonging to Kuan Yin Bodhisattva) whereby they evolved into heavenly spirits (a type of asuras) after hearing the dharma. I think these stories support the animal liberation concept that Buddhists are doing, particularly the Tibetan Buddhists who chant mantras for the animals to hear before releasing them. Depending on the karma of the animals, they could be reborn into a higher realm, for example, as a human being. But whether they become a good or bad human, depends on their own selves. It is not guaranteed they will be beings of good character in their next life. It is said that bad habits die hard. There was a reason in the first place why they became animals. So, if they even have a little bit of good karma, perhaps they will encounter with someone good who will enable them to change their old ways, so that they don’t get reborn as animals again after only one life of escaping it.
They also came upon a town that had been without water for 3 years.  There was not a single drop of rain and the rivers and wells had also dried up. This episode is important because it shows the existence of God (i.e. the Christian kind) within the context of Buddhism and Taoist beliefs and how the entire town had to suffer because the actions of the king. The king had angrily scolded his wife for offering food to God and the other heavenly gods.  He said that it would be better to eat them themselves rather than offer the food to Heaven. He also said he would rather offer the food to the dogs rather than to the Gods. This kind of attitude was wrong and the Jade Emperor (as lord God of the 3 samsaric worlds) punished the town to be without water. It was not until Monkey intervened and requested the other Gods to persuade the Jade Emperor to stop the punishment. Upon suggestion by one of the God, Monkey told the King and his people that they need to change their wrong attitude and start to have faith ion religious practices. They especially need to believe the existence of Heaven and Hell. They also must respect the Gods and the Buddhas. Once the attitude changed, the Gods were pleased and Jade Emperor commanded the dragons to shower rain in that town immediately. So, from here we can learn that any governments or country that does not respect God or believe in Heavens and Hells, will surely suffer. Due to sometimes the head of the government, the whole country has to suffer. So, choose your governments properly!
The other point in another story is that the Heart Sutra can be used to cut across all confusions and defeat the demons. Once the internal mind is peaceful and clear, the external environment will also be crystal clear. I have also used the Heart Sutra to heal before. Do not under-estimate the power of the Heart Sutra mantra, i.e. Tayatha Om Gate Gate Paragate Parasamgate Bodhi Svaha. 
When the Monk came to Anathapindika’s temple, he knew that was the place the Buddha did many of his preachings. According to the story of Anathapindika, the whole temple and compound was made of gold. That was the condition with the owner of the land with Anathapindika before he could sell it to Anathapindika. And Anathapindika did just that. He covered every inch of the garden with a few inches of gold. The owner had to fulfil his part and the ladn now belongs to Anathapindika who offered it to the Buddha. But when the Monk arrived there, there was only rubble and ruins of the once majestic temple, said to be made of gold. He stepped into the throne hall where the Buddha once was sitting and preaching.  In the movie, he was shown as touching the floor with his hand, and the whole floor and temple ruins magically restored itself and transformed into gold. Even the Buddha was seen sitting on his golden throne together with all his fourfold assembly of Sangha. I think the Buddha reminded him something. After he got the message, the place transformed back into the ruin that it was. All the gold had disappeared. This episode was interesting in that it reminded me of a popular believe among Buddhists, particularly Mahayanists, that the Buddha is still preaching here in all of his places. This is stated in the Lotus Sutra. The only thing was that we are unable to see him or hear his teachings. Only if our heart and mind is pure, could we see and hear the Buddha. Reminded me of the short glimpse I had of the Buddha and his assembly preaching the Sutra. That was truly a wonderful sight I won’t forget!  

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Healing with Maha Mayuri & Heart Sutra

I would like to share one story with you. Real story. A family member was sick. She was coughing non-stop and unable to get rid of the phelgm despite taking western and eastern medicine. She was coughing badly, at night it gets worse and everybody unable to sleep well because of the coughing. So I decided to use the Maha Mayuri feather I have to help her. I recited the Heart Sutra and added several other verses of my own together with the Mahamayuri mantra and use the feather to touch her throat region. And guess what? She (and everybody else) slept well for the rest of the night. Even though she did not recover immediately after that, she got better and better after that and eventually recovered fully. I really think it was due to the blessings of the Heart Sutra and Mahamayuri.      

Friday, April 13, 2012

How to Make Qing Ming festival more Buddhist?

Referring to this article - - I think young lads have forgotten that qingming is not just about remembering the ancestors. So, virtual qingming doesn't cut it. The idea is also to clean the graves and most importantly to benefit them (and others like them) in a real way, such as doing a transference of merit. Tibetan lamas do not quite understand this festival as it is not their tradition to bury the dead nor do they keep the ashes of the dead. Hence they just perform jangwa puja for the dead. Jangwa alone, unfortunately, it not quite complete qingming. Real qingming must be accompanied by a visit to the grave or the columbarium (where the ashes is kept) and offerings made there. But some people do it at home. As mentioned before, Buddhists have also to be blamed for not being able to adapt to this Confucian practice. They think burning all the paper cars, paper clothes, paper shoes, etc is not Buddhism. So, some Buddhists tend to stay away from this festival and merely perform jangwa or other prayers at the temple. They forget good Buddhist masters in the past have been able to adapt local cultures and practices into a Dharma practice and make it a Buddhist practice. In this way, the Buddha dharma is able to spread far and wide in the past. Nowadays people don't have this ability anymore.

The reality is that these paper stuffs to be burned were not meant to reach the ancestors in the first place.  They are just manifestations of our high regard for the contributions of our ancestors. It is a mistake to think that people offer food to the Buddha in the hope that the Buddha will eat it. Tibetan Buddhists also mould the mandala copper plate as a symbolic representation of the whole universe. Similarly the torma is also a symbolic of something else. Hence whether it  is real food, real clothes, or paper clothes, or paper car, these are merely manifesttations of our sincerity to offer them. BUT it will be good to first offer these paper stuffs (by thinking/visualising) to the Triple Jewel, and not just to your ancestors. Only by offering these to the Triple Jewels, do our ancestors benefit from the offerings. And then it will not go to waste! It will become a powerful fire puja. Hence I do go to offer food, drinks, fruits, and paper clothes, paper money, etc, not only to my late grandparents and grand uncle, but mainly to the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. And then I pray that wherever they are now, they will get adequate food, shelter, clothes and other needs. Same for the other departed ones. I recited the Great Compassionate Dharani and Heart Sutra for them and all sentient beings. This year I recited these in the Korean version. I am sure they loved it. I do this practically alone, when actually usually it should be done by my parents.  I am not sure whether they do perform qingming or not but I can feel that they are not very keen on that. My brothers/sisters are away outstation and qingming is not their cup of tea. I don't have to do it, but yet I do it every year. The young generation should continue this practice although I agree it may come a time, we could run out of place for columbariums or burial plots. I, for one, may just decide to let my ashes be strewn in the wind above the hills... just like Master Hsuan Hua's ashes. But maybe I want someone to keep my memorial photo somewhere at a temple so that I can keep in contact with the dharma. The Sangha members there could still continue to benefit me after I am gone.    

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Science Experiment Explains Emptiness Concept

Referring to this news which appeain the internet lately, refer to this link  (and there are many others in the internet) , I thought of the Buddhist concept of emptiness and thought that how true it is and that non-Buddhists may not be aware of this wonder already thought in the Buddhist Sutras thousands of years ago. In the Heart Sutra, it says, "... Form is Emptiness, Emptiness is Form..." and it goes on to describe how it is empty and what it means and the consequences of that "emptiness". As sound is another aspect of form, the same verse is also true for sound (i.e. Form) and silence (i.e. emptiness). So, the verse would have sounded as such "Sound is silence, silence is sound....". You can see from that news, when there is total silence, sounds start to be created from that silence. It was interesting the scientists acknowledged that people (i.e. the brain) is halucinating the sounds. As in it is not real. Applying the same concept, we can understand better the concept of emptiness in our tangible world where the Buddha has also said this entire world we live in is also emptiness. But just as the case of the halucinated sound, the objects that we see everyday are also halucinated. Just as the astronauts in the chamber did indeed hear those halucinated sounds, so also we do perceive the objects of this halucinated world. It does not mean this world is not real. Rather it means it is not inherently existing. Deep concept, isn't it? I think that news is really timely because I can understand the concept of Emptiness better. Again it proves the reality and truth of the Buddha Dharma. That place may just be the best place to rest the mind in meditation and Enlightenment may just be within reach. Who knows?!   

I would like to end this post with a verse from "Prayer that All Thoughts be Self-Liberated" by Guru Rinpoche (or Guru Padmasambhava) (note: pay attention of the second verse concerning sound which is what we just discussed above):

All these forms that appear to eyes that see,
All things on the outside and the inside,
The environment and its inhabitants
Appear, but let them rest where no self's found;
Perceiver and perceived when purified
Are the body of the deity, clear emptiness
To the guru for whom desire frees itself,
To Orgyen Pema Jungnay I supplicate.

All these sounds that appear for ears that hear,
Taken as agreeable or not,
Let them rest in the realm of sound and emptiness
Past all thought, beyond imagination;
Sounds are empty, unarisen and unceasing,
These are what make up the Victor's teaching
To the teachings of the Victor, sound and emptiness,
To Orgyen Pema Jungnay I supplicate.

All these movements of mind towards its objects,
These thoughts that make five poisons and afflictions,
Leave thinking mind to rest without contrivances,
Do not review the past nor guess the future;
If you let such movement rest in its own place,
It liberates into the dharmakaya
To the guru for whom awareness frees itself,
To Orgyen Pema Jungnay I supplicate.

Grant your blessing that purifies appearance
Of objects perceived as being outside;
Grant your blessing that liberates perceiving mind,
The mental operation seeming inside;
Grant your blessing that between the two of these
Clear light will come to recognize its own face;
In your compassion, sugatas of all three times,
Please bless me that a mind like mine be freed.


Friday, April 6, 2012

Another 10,000 prostrations accomplished

I forgot to mention I have completed another round of 10,000 prostrations about end of last year. I was able to accomplish that after returning from a one-week intensive meditation retreat at a Zen temple. Prior to that, perhaps I was a bit lackadaisical? Well, I had this new found gusto to quickly finish off my prostration ngondros before age or illness catches up and unable to bend my body anymore. It is a new found urgency, you can say.