Sunday, September 22, 2013

A Study on the Practice of Praying to "Datuk Kong" in Malaysia

Rather than for me to copy the entire paper by Ms Wendy Choo Liyun, which is not practical because of its length, I thought I should just let you guys click on the link as below. It is commonly spelt as "Datuk Kong", although the paper spelt it as "Datuk Gong". It's the same. Also the practice is common throughout Malaysia, although the paper title centres on the practice in Malacca only.

Monday, September 16, 2013

LOOK INSIDE : A Dharma Talk by Zen Master Dae Kwang

We often think that the Buddha's life and our lives are different. We think that their situation and ours are different. Actually both of our situations are the same, except maybe that none of us here (referring to the audience) is a prince. However, we all want a good situation and wants to keep it forever, even though we know the wind will not always blow our way, so to speak. Situations will change. The Buddha realised that and saw no way out. So the Buddha left his princely home. We may not be like the prince but during meditation, even for 5 minutes, during that space of time, our mind has "left home". And furthermore, in many times of our lives, we will always encounter moments whereby we have this big questions about life itself. Whether it be when tough decisions that you have to make in your life, or when life does not seem so meaningful to you, basically these are the same life questions that beseeched the Buddha. These questions served as our wake up call. Similarly for the 6th patriarch Hui Neng. He was just a poor man selling wood for a living. Materially he was quite the opposite of the Buddha who was a prince. Hui Neng did not come from a rich family. But he too had a wake-up call when he heard a line of Diamond Sutra being recited one day by a wondering monk. So, for most people they have their chance encounter with Buddhism.

Before there were Buddha images, the Buddha was represented only by an empty space or the Buddha's foot with a dharma wheel on it. This has a meaning. Life big questions often cannot be answered by thinking alone. You see, there are two types of questions. One is "thinking question" and the other "before thinking question". Questions "before thinking" cannot be answered by thinking. Zen is a set of techniques that point to the answers and ask us to find the answers ourselves. Doctors check what is wrong with us and then prescribed medicines. They don't take the medicines for us. Similarly the Buddha cannot practice and find answers for you. You have to look for them yourself, but he can point the way. Hence there is no explanation to solve all of our problems. All the fingers pointing to the moon are to get you to look up at the moon. It's not to let you admire or examine the fingers. And when you do look up, you will be awakened by the moon, just as the Buddha did. You might think that the Buddha was incredibly stupid to leave a good situation. But he looked inside. That is the Buddha's message to us to look inside of us, instead of outside. And that is the meaning of the image of a foot of the Buddha. So, look inside.
- dharma talk by Zen Master Dae Kwang in Malaysia on 6 Sept, 2013. (note: the prepared from notes taken during the teaching. Any mistakes are mine. I have tried to retain as much of the original spirit and teaching style as possible. I have edited it to be suitable for publication, and is not a verbatim of the actuall talk. Also I have taken the liberty to tentatively label the title as above.)

Monday, September 9, 2013

Having Unwavering Faith without Attachment

A lay Buddhist remarked to me that more people are attracted to Tibetan Buddhism due to the Sangha/Lamas giving blessings via giving empowerments and conducting Pujas of various kinds. On the other hand, in Zen, there is less of such things. You mostly have to do it yourself, like chanting and meditating yourself. She pointed out to me there is this contrast between this two traditions. My respond to that is you need both elements. Helping others through all these means and at the same time, they must practice themselves. You can't depend on receiving blessings all the time. Some day you will run out of blessings and you better be able to handle it when it happens. Tibetan Buddhist teachers must emphasize more on "self-help", and many teachers actually do. It's just lay students can't help themselves but end up chasing after merits, blessings and collecting empowerments. It's so much easier for most people to just hitch ourselves to a deity or God and you only need to put your one hundred percent faith on it for your liberation. It's called 'salvation' in others. So much easier than not having anyone to depend on, other than a clear mind, right? That's why Zen disappeared in China and Japan, and in danger of disappearing in Korea too. Many Koreans have converted to Christianity and it's not difficult to see the reason. Everything is about going the easier and faster way now. On the other hand it is said that without blessings, no attainments is possible. Indeed, life itself can be very miserable without blessings. So definitely we need to have oceans of blessings, only we should not do something good with attachment to its merits. We just do it. So it's good to pray to external deities such as Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, protectors, etc, but we must also develop some inner strength to remain steadfast and calm should something bad happens to us. We should not start blaming or questioning the deity. This was what I meant by people becoming dependent on external entities. Develop strong faith without any attachment. We should, in particular, use prayers, offerings and rituals to help others. Invoke the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Protectors, etc for this purpose. This is also in line with compassion. Does this make any sense to you?

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Surau demolished

Check this link below. The said "surau" has been demolished. This is just for information.