Sunday, June 30, 2013

Returning to the "Original Teachings" of the Buddha?

Question: Actually I am looking for any information mention about Bardo in the SUTRA. Why information of reincarnation to different realms is published openly where the information for bardo is kept as secret? Aren't they interconnect in the reincarnation process?
Answer: The way I understand it is like this. Buddhism is different from other religions. In other religions, they look into their holy books and they want to be able to quote exact words as spoken/ written. But Buddhism is about the inner experience. The words spoken/written is only an original guide. Original broad principles. But time will always evolve. There will be new things. The way people behave and think will be different too. Even though the principles of the dharma is changeless as contained in the spoken/written words, how we apply the guidance to different times and different people will depend upon our skillful means. The way dharma is applied will need to evolve too. The original wheel is probably made of rock. But today it has evolved into other types of material and more sophisticated. Is today's tyre then a counterfeit product? Of course not. But it is still based on something round made of rock founded by the cave men millions of years ago. Similarly, even though Bardo (and other tantric teachings) is taught by Guru Rinpoche or other tantric masters, neverthless these are based on the Buddha's fundamental teachings to cut greed, anger and delusion. As long as you achieve successfully in cutting greed, anger and delusion, it is a Buddha's teachings. Now, which Sutra tells us to cut greed, anger and delusion? It should not be difficult for you to find out yourself. Anything that increases greed, anger, delusion, is not, even though you can find them quoted in wonderful "Sutras". At least this is my humble opinion. My apologies if this isn't correct.

Note: My intention of giving that response was not to answer all t=of his questions. Rather I wanted to close the gap of any attempt by fundamentalist Theravadians (not referring to the person who asked the question, because I know he is not one. But there are others in the forum) to question the authenticity of the Mahayana teachings. For me, to say that only Theravada is the true teachings of the Buddha, and Mahayana teachings are fake and we have to rely solely on the scriptures existing at the time of the Buddha is as ridiculous as insisting that we drive only the type of car built by Henry Ford. The rest of the modern cars existing today, these fundamentalists would refer to as counterfeit products. Certainly ridiculous!

The True Measure of Spiritual Progress - Cutting of Defilements

Someone recently asked me 2 questions (as below) and my response is as such: -

1.Just want to know if bardo teachings is written in any Theravada or Mahayana sutras?

My reply: I don't think there is any specific Theravada suttas on bardo per se, but I stand to be corrected. As for Mahayana sutras(I think you meant Chinese Mahayana), I really can't answer that. My knowledge is not enough. But if you want to know if there is any Vajrayana Sutras on bardo subject,again I shall not attempt to answer that. But I am curious why you want to know. The Buddha already said it clearly in Kalama Sutta " Don't believe anything just because it is written in a holy book".

2. How do you relate the Bardo states with cut greed, anger and delusion?

My reply: Why do you practice Buddhism at all? Anything I practice, I tell myself it has to result in reduction of the three root vices. Whether you are alive or dead/in the bardo, you cut greed, anger and delusion. No matter which tradition we go to, we will never go wrong if we stick to this universal principle of cutting greed, hatred/anger and delusion.

It's Buddhism 101 actually. The 2 replies I have given above is something others can provide too. Nothing special. You and I are the same level in training. If I say something wrong, then you correct me. That's how we learn from each other, right?
The above Q&A were given due to an earlier question posed more generally to others. This will be shared in another blogpost because I want to emphasise on the issue of the "originality of the Buddha's teachings".
Further thoughts on the subject:-
I used "cutting of greed, anger and delusion" (inclusive of various kinds of attachments and defilements) is because I do not want to use "attain enlightenment/liberation". In the Tibetan Book of the Dead, it is explained step by step what happens after death and what does the person expect to experience in the intermediate states. It tells us how the Buddha in the disguise of various peaceful and wrathful deities try to help the deceased to recognise the nature of mind and thus achieve liberation. But the text also recognise that if the deceased has the various attachments and delusions, it is very difficult for the deceased to recognise the nature of reality and mind. Hecne, my intention is to bring us back to the basic of understanding what is "attaining liberation or achieving enlightenment". It is nothing more than cutting of of our attachments and delusions. We should not think of it is any superstate of consciousness. That is how bardo practice is linked to cutting of greed, anger and delusions, i.e. achieving liberation through realising the nature of reality. We can only realise it when the former are cut off.

I am somewhat disappointed with Buddhists who in spite of their years of meditation and practice as well as vast knowledge in the dharma, still display such arrogance and bad attitude that goes contrary to their status as a senior practitioner. They have so much attachments, anger, jealousy, other delusions but they don't realise it. I suspect one to be on the verge of going "chou fuo ru mo", or "...crazy" in simple English. That is why I am more keen to measure wisdom (no matter what practice we do or which tradition we are in) in terms of how much defilements that have been reduced. There is not much point in being able to understand deep emptiness concepts but ... the behavior is still the same. There is no transformation in your behavior and attitude towards others.
This is what is happening in Myanmar. Despite being learned in the so-called "original" teachings of the Buddha, and deep vipassana meditation practices, some monks there still incite hatred towards their Muslim brethren and some even allegedly kill others to protect their Buddhism, race, or whatever they think they are protecting. How can this be? Those people are a disgrace to Buddhism. I hope there are only a few of them. What a shame!

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Important Quotes from Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche - Pt2

The right view is: anything you see / hear / smell / taste / touch etc., all seemingly appear and arise. Like that. There is no reason. Sometimes things just come and go. If we lack such knowledge, we will have problems.
So the right view is just being satisfied with the realization and understanding that things are seemingly there but not truly there. Without right view, we can’t develop our practice.
The many forms of Vajrayana activities such as empowerment and puja, are all based on right view.

Practice does not mean being inside a room, shutting the door. You say that you have no time. Of course you have no time for that, I can understand. I also have no time. ‘Time’ means you are not wasting. Each and every time, you are mindful. Make it meaningful. This is Dharma practice.
When you face any problem or intolerable pain and suffering, think of the right view. These problems do not truly exist, they are just reflections of negative thoughts. Because of ignorance, dualism, the dualistic point of view, we feel suffering.

Without this, as in Western countries, without support from the right view, they force themselves through their meditation. Sometimes they say that they are flying. That is wrong, that is an illusion. Too much makeup. Fake meditation. You feel that you are flying, then you stop, and bye-bye. Very dangerous. Therefore, to avoid such mistakes, be on the safe side. Go along with the right view, right instructions, and right meditation. Be on the safe side, and it will be perfect.

You will not engage in negativities because of correct view and correct meditation. With correct meditation, you are totally trained well. With the right view, your mind is very clear, very mindful. Because you are mindful, your physical movement will spontaneously or naturally transform into virtue. So these three––right view, meditation and conduct––are general practices for all Buddhist practitioners.
Treat all experiences equally: Everyday you go through different experiences. Most of the time it’s unhappy, while happy times are very little.
So you become Buddhist in order to get rid of this, not simply for blessing. It is not like the master gives you something, you eat, and then tomorrow you feel something. Or after drinking something, you immediately feel nauseous or sweaty. Then you think that the deity has come to you, and you become very powerful.

According to the instruction of Indian master Nagarjuna, he said that good practice means managing any circumstance that comes to you. Whatever it is good or bad, happy or unhappy, whatever circumstances arise, you equally accept them. This is proof of good practice. If you are happy when good circumstances come, and when bad things happen you go to the master and ask him to bless you, this is wrong practice. 

There is no need to prevent unexpected negative circumstances. 

If an individual introduces to you the ultimate truth or true nature of mind, and you yourself realises or experiences the true nature of mind, then effortlessly or spontaneously that person becomes your root guru.

There is no nomination, no voting; it is not like roaming in shopping centres, thinking: “Can I buy this?”
When an individual introduces to you the true nature of the mind, and you realize it, then even if you deny it, that person is spontaneously your root guru. You can’t deny.
It is only at the moment when you realise or recognise the true nature of mind, then at that moment, you call “root guru”. Until then, no matter what happens, you still call “guru”, not “root guru”. 

However, in order to prolong your life through the receiving of the Amitayus empowerment, you need to generate Bodhicitta to help many sentient beings. If you are simply reciting the Amitayus for your own enjoyment, there is no guarantee.
Do not think that Amitayus is simply a Buddha for long life. It goes along with reason, depending on conditions.
The continuity is very important. It is not just when you are sick you pray to the medicine Buddha. When you are unsuccessful, you practise a certain deity. That would be wrong practice, wrong view.
Sometimes you misunderstand what tsok means. You think that tsok means enjoying the fruit, biscuit and delicious food. Actually long time ago, tsok was when the great masters gathered in caves, together with dakas and dakinis, enjoying all kinds of food. Not only delicious food, but also dirty food, mixed together and ate them. Because of the power of their knowledge and realisation, they had to power to transform the impure into pure. We have dualism––the notion of good and bad, clean and dirty. We want the clean, but don’t want the dirty. That is dualism, which keeps us far from reality. To avoid such dualism, we practise tsok to transform the poison into medicine, transform the dirty into clean. I also do not have such power. We imitate.
Practice does not mean being alone in a jungle or remote area. Practice means having to deal with our everyday life, having to face difficult situations. It is important to practise the Dharma in our daily lives, it is much faster than practising alone in a cave. Inside the cave, how to know where your practice is going? Tell me. You can’t. You say that there is no anger so far, then when you meet with unpleasant people, your anger arises. Therefore, it is not practical. We need to use everyday circumstances. We need good and bad people, pleasant and unpleasant people.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Important quotes from Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche - Pt 1

These are teachings by Sangye Nyenpa Rinpoche during an empowerment of Chig She Kun Drol (Knowing One Thing, Everything is Liberated) given in Johor Bahru in April 2010. Will add on bit by bit.

So do not waste your life anymore, do not waste time. Every year, we remain at the same level, still the same mindset, still an ordinary person, we have never changed.
The Buddha was very professional, but he skilfully taught according to our abilities. He never said that we must practise in a certain way, but gave us choices. All these choices have the same purpose. 

Deities do not truly exist, but we cannot say they are not there: There are many deities and Dharma protectors in peaceful and wrathful forms––none of them truly exists.
Though we say that they do not truly exist, we cannot say that they are not there.
The mother is very kind, always using nice words, giving sweet talk. But if the child doesn’t listen, sometimes the mother will beat the child. But this beating is not out of hate, but because of having more compassion. That is the only option that the mother has. Similarly, the ‘wrathful’ form is symbolism for greater compassion, not anger.
Are you a Dharma practitioner in your daily life? You simply say that you're a Buddhist without considering this. Even though you have ‘Buddhism’ as your identity, you lose the meaning of ‘Buddhism’, yet claim that you are a genuine Dharma practitioner. This does not make much sense.
Relatively, this deity is very special for the curing of diseases especially paralysis, and for dealing with certain harmful beings in Tibet. However, do not think that this deity is a ‘paralysis specialist’. That is a big mistake.
Sometimes receiving too much blessings spoil you. You think that there is no need to practise the Dharma, your guru will help you. You see him touching your head and you think you are fine. 

Sunday, June 2, 2013

I love Buddhism but...

I love Buddhism but .... I love "Do good, Avoid doing bad, enhance purity of heart" better. Anything that promotes these 3 values is enough for me. It does not need to be called "Buddhism". It does not even have to be a religion or spiritual thing. It can be secular ethics. If we can live by these ideals, we will be in harmony with anyone, irrespective of religion. At the same time, we will be upholding our Buddhist religion's core principle. Why so? Because doing good, not doing bad and purity of heart are basic human values. His Holiness the Dalai Lama always emphasise on this point to focus more on our core values as human beings and go beyond our narrow concepts of race, religion, state or nation.

For Pest Control Companies: How to Kill with Compassion (if at all)

For Pest Control Companies: How to Kill with Compassion (and in a way that can be done by anyone irrespective of religion)
These words above (in red) are based on the Buddha's advice to "Do good, avoid evil, and purify the mind". I twig it a little bit to make it a bit less religious sounding. In fact, it can be used like a mantra to benefit sentient beings. I was thinking how to advice pest control companies on how to kill with compassion, in a non-religious way. These people who operate pest control companies need not be Buddhists, and they are of various religious or secular background. I thought of these words as above. They can just recite it over their pesticides or chemicals. Hopefully it will benefit the pests that they will be killing. I was thinking that if people need to kill, my advice is to kill with compassion.  But if possible (should there be another way), don't kill.