Friday, February 8, 2013

Counting My Blessings

In my schooling days, I first got to connect with Bhagawan Sri Sathya Sai Baba, Venerable Master Hsuan Hua and Venerable Boon Keng. They were my earliest teachers. Later Zen Master Seung Sahn, and few years after that Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen (at that time a "khenpo"). During that time, I read up a lot of books and listened to teachings of all traditions. I came across Lama Yeshe's books and FPMT at that time. I was particularly attracted to Lama Tsongkhapa's teachings although I have no idea of the differences between the Tibetan Buddhist lineages then. I could not tell the difference, except that they wear different coloured hats. I was also attracted to Shinran's approach to Pure Land Buddhism for many years already. There was no FPMT centre yet in Malaysia or Singapore (or just starting) at that time but I remember being interested in this organisation. Yes, I did connect with Seung Sahn Sunim a long time ago. I met him before I met many of my Tibetan Lamas. Zen practice just did not pick up. There was no Kwan Um Zen centre in Malaysia or Singapore yet (or maybe just starting, same as FPMT). So I let these two stay dormant. There was a period of time when I was disillusioned with Buddhist groups in my country. I tried not to project myself as a practitioner so much. There was not much spiritual progress at that time. But it led to many personal problems. I could not handle myself, in short. It was Khenchen who said something and I decided to re-focus on Buddhist practice. But Khenchen was not around all the time. There was also no group. In order to re-establish myself, I decided to go to a teaching given by the first teacher of a Tibetan Buddhist tradition that came by. And that was His Holiness Phakchok Rinpoche. It happened to be him. But it was Kyabje Lama Zopa Rinpoche that re-connected me with Lama Tsongkhapa and for the first time, I understood the entire path of Lam Rim. Basically, it means I understood how Vajrayana path works. His Holiness Sakya Trizin is a teacher of Lama Zopa, so it is okay to receive teachings and empowerment from him. Understanding Lam Rim was an important turning point for me. Previously I did not understood how all these different practices in Tibetan Buddhism jive together. It is around that time, that I understood the different lineages within Vajrayana Buddhism. By then, for me, it was too late to stick to one lineage. I had my foot in almost every Buddhist tradition and lineage. I cannot pick one and ignore the rest of my previous gurus. But the Buddhas have a way for me. Neither am I mixing them up like some mixed fruit cocktail. Where my karma for one practice is weak, it is made up in another tradition. For example, I find that there is lacking of a Tibetan Buddhist centre for meditation practice here in my home state. But recently I re-connected back to Master Seung Sahn's Zen school. They have many meditation centres around the world. Many people did not know I have a previous connection with him and they may think that I "jumped boat" to Zen. It is not like that. Through the Zen centres of Kwan Um School of Zen, I get to practice my meditation. One Zen Master have this observation. He said that the Buddha blesses me by sending me different teachers to guide me in different aspects. In short, I know how to take care of my path. You don't have to worry. One Lama also said I have blessings from the Buddha (after I had the vision of the Sanghata assembly). So in this blog post, I humbly count my blessings and thank all my gurus for these blessings! I really have not much achievement in my life to be proud of, at least not in worldly matters. In spiritual matters, nothing much too, seriously....except for these blessings that I cannot ignore or not acknowledge. To not acknowledge these blessings would be ungrateful. I suppose one must always count one's blessings and humbly be thankful to the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas! I try. I try. Hence this lunar new year, I am sharing with you my spiritual path, not out of arrogance but humbly counting whatever I have as blessings. If you learn from different traditions and get confused, it is not so good. But if you can benefit from them, and no conflict, then no problem. That is my advice for those contemplating of learning more then one tradition or lineage. For me, it is not a case of "...okay, now I am going to learn this tradition. After that I will learn from another." Not spiritual shopping. Not like that at all. Take care. Sarvam Mangalam.        

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