Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 Year, Layman Pang and Vimalakirti

As the year draws to an end, I am thankful that I am still alive – physically and most importantly, mentally. I had been through a hard time and on the brink of depression towards the end of last year and into this year. Hard times are not yet over for me, but I am starting to count the months when it will hopefully be over. At least one aspect of it will be over. Thereafter it may be another period of uncertainties, but I will worry about that later. The first phase of my “worldly” hardship will be marked by the appearance of my guru. Yes, he will come a visiting! I am looking forward to end of May 2015. Then I hope to quit my job and do a long retreat in Korea before I start looking for a job again. This time my job has to enable me to take long holidays for my retreats and other Buddhist activities if I need to. I do not wish to be confined or restricted by my job again – ever. So that’s my plan. I am not sure how realistic it will be or whether it will materialize or not. 2014 was a bad year. There were 3 plane mishaps that involved Malaysian planes and so many hundreds of people have died suddenly. And then there is the major floods happening currently. Elsewhere in the world, it is no less sorrowful.

So, that was how the last 12 months was. On the worldly level, things are not that good. On the spiritual level, things are not that bad. In 2014, I received critical teachings that I can relate to and it came very timely. It will help in certain aspect of my practice. In Ven. Hsu Yun's teachings, Layman Pang was mentioned. In a very strange (coincidence or not, depends on you), my Zen teacher also mentioned Layman Pang in his reply to me in a Q&A session. I was like - "What? You knew what I was studying lately?" Layman Pang was someone I could exemplify. Later, in a private interview with the Zen Master, he said that a closer lay person in terms of attainment, would be Vimalakirti. That was also very strange remark because in a private thought, the night before, I was thinking that Layman Pang was second to none and equal to the Buddhas and Patriarchs. The Zen Master said Layman Pang was a little attached to emptiness. Just a little. But I would not worry about this. In Tibetan Buddhism, it is very common for one Tibetan master to say another master does not have the correct view on emptiness. Anyway, do you think my Zen Master had read my thoughts, or do you think they are merely coincidences? I personally think there is more to it than just coincidence. 

Generally I pray that 2015 will be a better year for everybody! And I always close the year thanking my protectors! Thank You Very Much! If not for You all, 2014 would definitely be MUCH worse. Namo Amitabha Buddha. Om Mani Padme Hum.

Friday, December 26, 2014

Why "Hua Tou - My Protector"?

Referring to the poem I wrote on "Hua Tou - My Protector", the reason why I wrote it is not because I have such a strong resolve or that my hua tou is already that focused. Actually it is the opposite. I wrote that primarily to motivate myself. The truth is I am weak. I am currently beseeched by my job and other problems that I am not sure if I could handle them. Seriously. So I needed the poem to boost up my determination. I also need to go for a mind re-charging a.k.a meditation retreat. So, perhaps I will see you all next year.... if I don't drop by here again with another post. HAPPY NEW YEAR! MAY ALL BEINGS BE BLESSED!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Earth Store Bodhisattva Is OUR HOPE in DEEPEST SORROW

Lately it dawns upon me that no matter how deep is our sorrow and no matter how painful our suffering or situation, there is always a HOPE out of it. Why so? This is because in every of such situation, there is Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva (Earth Store Bodhisattva) in it waiting for us to tap into him and receive his guidance and blessings to end that suffering. Remember his deep vow to stay in Hell until hell is empty. But Hell is never empty. And never will. That is because we keep on creating hellist situation for ourselves and others. So, it looks like Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva has found a permanent place to accompany us. Hence we are NEVER ALONE in suffering. NEVER. Ksitigarbha Bodhisattva is always there with us. In such deep sorrow, we should try to remember him and recite his Name. We should chant his mantra. HE IS OUR HOPE!

No matter what is your situation or hopelessness - NEVER GIVE UP! Recite his name and he will come in mysterious ways. He will definitely listen, even though it will seem like he isn't. I completely trust in his ability to help us in his own ways. I completely trust Kstigarbha Bodhisattva!

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Hua Tou - My Protector

These words are meant to inspire during difficult times, to provide the push when weak and to serve as reminder of what we are all capable of. Let these not be empty words.

Hua Tou - My Protector
The hot hells may burn my body into ashes,
But the hua tou shall shine even brighter.
The cold hells may crack my head open like the Utpala,
But the hua tou shall solidify even stronger.
The body may be deprived of food and water,
But the hua tou shall be all the sustenance I ever need.
So, stop there - greed, anger  and ignorance!
Stop being a hindrance to my peace.
To reach for the stars above,
I have a thousand steps to climb.
In this arduous journey,
The world can be cruel,
And people vicious.
They don't care.
But fear not -
Let the hua tou be the protector.

The hua tou - my only companion.
Never let go of it.
Laying down everything,
With a single mind, going forward.
Once at the pinnacle, to take a leap forward -
What is there?
HAK! Freedom!
Waking up from a long sleep.
Time to brush my teeth and wash my face.
Namo Prajna Paramita!

written: 22 Nov 2014. Sat. 10.30pm to 12.50pm the next day. Revised on 23/11/14, 8.30am.

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Guidance from Ch'an Master Hsu Yun

On Friday, which is a day after Lhabab Duchen – the day that marks the occasion when Buddha descended on earth – I chanced upon a book containing teachings from Elder Master Hsu Yun, a 19th -20th century Ch’an Chinese Master. The strange thing was that I found the book in a Theravadian Buddhist temple. The book was “hidden” in a book cabinet where books meant for free distribution or dharma books that are recycled from their original owners are kept. Of the many books there, my eyes just set upon that particular book not too long after I scanned through the books there. As I opened it, I came upon passages that could be advising me on what I should do in my meditation practice and what I should avoid. These teachings were given by Ch’an Master Hsu Yun during Ch’an meditation retreat. It will be extremely valuable advice to me in my practice. I am really thankful to the Buddha for providing me with teachings from Good Knowing Advisors at various stages of my “development”. I completely trust Master Hsu Yun’s complete attainment. So, to have received such important teachings, especially when it is relevant to me at this point in time, I cannot but realise that this indeed is the actual significance of Lhabab Duchen, i.e. receiving of the Buddha Dharma within us. His recoded teachings are so invaluable!

I make my obeisance to the Master beyond comparison - Venerable Elder Master Hsu Yun! Namo Amitabha Buddha! Namo Amitabha Buddha! Namo Amitabha Buddha! HAPPY LHABAB DUCHEN!  

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Prayers for Kuan Yin Bodhisattva

Today in honour of Kuan Yin Bodhisattva's "renunciation day" (9th day of the lunar 9th month), the below is what I did, for record purpose:-

1. Recited Great Compassion Dharani (Korean) 5 times.
2. Recited Heart Sutra (Korean) 3 times.
3. Recited Thousand Eyes and Hands (Korean) once.
4. Recited 21 Tara praises 3 times (Tibetan)
5. Recited Longest Compassionate Dharani (Sanskrit) 3 times.
6. Recited short Lam Rim prayer - Foundation of All Good Qualities, once.

I also played the chanting of Surangama mantra, Great Compassion Dharani, Ten Small mantras and Heart Sutra, all in Chinese.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Independence Day message: Together Action Fosters Harmony

At the inaugural Zen retreat in Penang, it was good to see people of different traditions coming together to practice meditation and to attend the Kung-an interview given by the Zen Master. There were even two monks - one wearing a Theravada robe and the other a traditional Chinese Mahayana robe. There were a few people who came wearing Tibetan Buddhist centres' t-shirts. There may be others who cannot be distinguished by their clothes. But I know that the people who attended the retreat were practitioners from other traditions or using different meditation techniques other than pure Zen/Ch'an. However, like the Theravada robed monk said, these are just labels. Yes, the clothes we wear are just outer labels. It does not mean we are practising Tibetan Buddhism if we are wearing Tibetan Buddhist clothes.Same with others. The important thing that Zen Master Dae Kwang said last Thursday was that despite all the different Buddhist meditation techniques, all of them have the same objective. And coming together to practice and sit together despite practising different techniques, in our Zen school we call that "together action". "Together action" fosters "harmony". In light of our nation celebrating her 57th year of independence today, we can see the emphasis on "HARMONY" everywhere. However, only by putting down our personal opinions and acting together as one, can true harmony be achieved. If only we can put down our racial, religious, political and social differences down, then a lot of conflict in our society, our community, our country and our world can be avoided. 

With that, I want to take this opportunity to wish HAPPY MERDEKA to all MALAYSIANS!
and  "Well Done" to Haeng Won Zen Centre! 

Monday, July 7, 2014

Video: In the Footsteps of Won Hyo

Recently through social media sharing, I was fortunate to be able to watch this fortunate group of people making this journey in search of Won Hyo's cave. This video couldn't have come at a more appropriate time, since I only recently shared what Master Won Hyo wrote on what seemed like Madhyamaka Emptiness. So, enjoy the documentary. This is my way of showing support for this journey undertaken by this Western guy and his crew.

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Perfection of Mind and Body

Today I was feeling down for some worldly reasons. The Buddha took noticed and created an opportunity for me to discover a teaching on Samatha meditation, especially on what it means to have achieved Samatha or "Shi-nay" in Tibetan. In particular, I now know what are the signs prior to achieving this state. Therefore I want to thank the Buddha for giving me this teaching, through Gelek Rinpoche's book on meditation. It is said that when the student is ready, the teaching and teacher will appear. With this teaching, it gives me a renewed aspiration to go for this state of perfection of mind and body. It's usually called "pliancy of the mind and body". 

Thank you to Buddha Sakyamuni who is my Spiritual Father! Although this is really a worldly celebration, nevertheless, I thought it appropriate to wish Buddha Sakyamuni "Happy Father's Day!" 

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Madhyamaka in Zen Buddhism

Now, the fount of the One Mind is free from existence and non-existence and is independently pure. The ocean of the three levels of apprehension of emptiness2 merges the absolute and conventional and is perfectly calm. While calmly fusing two, it is not one. Independently pure, it is free from extremes, but does not lie in the center. Not lying in the center, yet free from extremes, non-existent dharmas do not abide in non-existence, and marks that are not non-existent do not abide in existence.

Since it is not one yet merges dualities, non-absolute phenomena are not originally conventional, and the non-conventional principle is not originally absolute. Since it merges dualities and yet is not one, there is nothing thatthe natures of the absolute and conventional do not establish, and there are no marks of purity and pollution not contained within. Since it is free from extremes, yet not in the center, there are no existent or non-existent dharmas that are not created, and no positive or negative implications that are not subsumed.

Accordingly, without refutation, there is nothing not refuted; without positing, there is nothing not posited. We can call it the ultimate principle of no-principle, the great being-so of not being-so. This is the general message of this sūtra. It is precisely because it is the great being-so of not being-so that the words of the speaker mysteriously match the center of the ring.3 Since it is the ultimate principle of no principle, the doctrine that is explained transcends this world. Since it leaves nothing unrefuted, it is called the Vajrasamādhi. Since there is nothing it does not establish, it is called the Sūtra of the Compendium of the Great Vehicle. None of its meanings and doctrines fall outside of these two. Therefore it is also called the Numberless Meanings and Doctrines. But being constrained to tender only one title, we call it the Vajrasamādhi-sūtra.

-Preface to the Exposition to the Vajra Samadhi Sutra, a commentary by Zen Master Won-Hyo

The above commentary by the Zen Master should open the eyes of the Tibetan scholars from the various lineages such as Sakya, Gelug, Kagyu and Nyingma. I'd like to think of it as the Madhyamaka in Zen. But Won Hyo is talking about the nature of the One Mind. He is not refuting someone else's theory to prove he has the most correct emptiness theory.

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Nembutsu People also Capable of Great Awakening

Hakuin was a special Zen Master. He used his wisdom to promote awakening according to the person’s practice. In Japan, the practice of reciting Amitabha’s Name, or Nembutsu, was a popular practice. Even though he was from the Zen tradition, he believed that the Nembustsu was more suitable for the laity. This was because the laity has to attend to all the daily chores of a family and working life. ...However he preached that the Amida Butsu (Japanese for Amitabha Buddha) was not to be sought outside of ourselves and that one should look for him in the mind. Once it has been found, one will also find Amida’s Infinite Light. One will then realize that that has always been the nature of all things, i.e. infinite light.

One lay woman, upon hearing this teaching, instead of “converting" to Zen practice, as might be expected, she resolved to deepen her practice of the Nembutsu. She declared to Master Hakuin that the Amida’s Inifnite light was not that difficult to find. So, she recited Nembutsu in all of her daily chores – while gathering wood, while preparing meals for her family and her many other house work. After many months, while washing pot, she had an awakening. She then rushed to see Master Hakuin and said, “The Buddha’s light shines through everything!” Master Hakuin decided to test her awakening and remarked, “Are you sure? What about that animal dung there on the road?” The woman immediately slapped the Master and said, “You mean you don’t really understand?” Master Hakuin burst out laughing.

This story confirms my understanding that even using the Nembutsu we can come to the same attainment as the Zen Masters. And that the person with Nembutsu awakening can also be able to give the right response to a koan, if asked. Conversely, using the Zen Methods, we too can attain the levels of the Nembutsu practitioners. I am sure the Mahamudra method will lead to the same Unborn Mind. It’s only that one should employ the same method over time. So, this is one story of Hakuin I want to share. May all be free from suffering!

Source of story: "Zen Masters of Japan" by Richard Bryan McDaniel

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Elephant Dream

This is to record a rather strange dream I had. This morning I woke up and remembered the dream I had. It was a huge elephant and it was emitting light. There was a Buddha beside it and the Buddha too was emitting light. The elephant then became a thangka and I was looking at it together with another dharma friend. Then I woke up. Felt blessed upon waking up. This is the second time I had dreamed of a elephant - which I think is supposed to be a symbol of the Buddha. The first time was Bodhisattva Samantabhadra's elephant complete with all the tusks and lotus flowers. But that was many, many years ago. Thank you, Great Elephant for this dream blessings. :)

Friday, March 21, 2014

Bhajans with Sri Sathya Sai Baba

For my future reference... !

Friday, January 10, 2014

10,800 White Tara mantras for Khenchen K. G. Rinpoche

Yesterday I completed the accumulation of 10,800 White Tara mantras for the quick recovery from the fall in India for Most Venerable Khenchen Konchog Gyaltsen Rinpoche. I dedicate all the mantras to him for that purpose. Most his injuries heal quickly and may he be able to walk about again as normal.