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Stories of Kyabje Zong Rinpoche

5 Aug

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Kyabje Zong Rinpoche was known to be an accomplished debater and Tantric master who developed occult powers due to his meditational practice. 

Kyabje Zong Rinpoche is Tsem Rinpoche’s root Guru and is one of the greatest masters to have escaped Tibet after the Tibetan exodus into India. In the late 1980s, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche arrived in Los Angeles at the invitation of Geshe Tsultrim Gyaltsen at Thubten Dhargye Ling at St Andrew’s. This was where the young Tsem Rinpoche who was raised in New Jersey and living in LA at that time, met him and a deep spiritual relationship and awakening ensued. They shared an unusual bond and closeness that defied language and culture. A transmission of not just teachings, initiations but also a deep purpose that set off Tsem Rinpoche unto the road of monkhood. The following stories were narrated by Tsem Rinpoche on his blogchat of incredible stories of the imcomparable Zong Rinpoche….

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His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche was considered a direct incarnation of Kedrub Rinpoche the wrathful student of Je Tsongkapa. Whenever you see Tsongkapa, along his left and right have two erudite students. The one on the left is Kedrub Rinpoche. It is said Zong Rinpoche achieved one-ness with Heruka Buddha (Chakrasamvara) lifetimes ago. Setrap took trance of the Gaden oracle (who has passed away now) and Setrap said clearly Zong Rinpoche is Kedrub Rinpoche the close disciple of Tsongkapa. This oracle was famous in Gaden Tibet. When we do our practice sincerely and surrender our attachments, we can gain much attainments and ‘powers’. But the ultimate is to achieve Bodhi mind and emptiness.

Another time while Zong Rinpoche was doing pujas in his home (ladrang), suddenly a group of people with a screaming frantic woman came in through the gate.The group holding the ‘crazy’ woman’ was begging for Zong Rinpoche’s help. Zong Rinpoche came out and calmly asked for a chair. He sat on the chair recited some mantras for a few moments and then very loudly and fiercely asked the woman “WHO ARE YOU AND WHAT DO YOU WANT???!!” When he said this to her, she immediately fainted. When she came to, she didn’t know what was happening. She asked people where she was and what happened. They informed Zong Rinpoche this happens often to her. She was taken possession of an evil entity and Zong Rinpoche expelled it immediately just by his fierce wrathful compassionate voice.. After this incident, she never took ‘trance’ of this entity again and lived a normal life. Zong Rinpoche’s occult powers were famous among the monks of Gaden, Sera & Drepung and the Tibetan communities.

Much black magic was sent to H.H. Zong Rinpoche also. There was one time a group of students were sitting in the room with Zong Rinpoche in his private chambers in Gaden. People witnessed balls and streaks of light hitting and entering the roof of Zong Rinpoche’s house. One person in the audience saw the light penetrate the roof and through the ceiling and ‘hit’ Zong Rinpoche’s arm. Zong Rinpoche’s arm appeared immobilized for a moment. Zong Rinpoche signaled Gen Tsoncha to keep silent and Zong Rinpoche recited some mantras and blew on his own arm. Then his arm can move immediately again. This was witnessed by close students such as Gen Tsoncha who told many in Gaden.
Another time a group of people got someone who sounded like Zong Rinpoche’s voice on tape. They mixed some of Zong Rinpoche’s teachings and then inserted this person’s voice into the cassette tape, back then it was cassettes and no cds.. Then they brought the cassette with Zong Rinpoche’s ‘voice’ to His Holiness the Dalai Lama. It was criticism against Dalai Lama supposedly from Zong Rinpoche. Dalai Lama listened to the cassette tape carefully and said clearly THIS IS NOT ZONG RINPOCHE AS HE WOULD NOT SAY SUCH THINGS. Their plans were foiled because they wanted to defame Zong Rinpoche. HH Dalai Lama never said anything further about it according to Zong Rinpoche’s close assistants. They tried many times to harm Zong Rinpoche.

His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche was a spiritual Ninja of the highest order. Next day at teachings, Zong Rinpoche told the whole audience that someone try to stab him through the window. Just before the hand with knife came in through the window, he had a very vivid dream of Four Faced Mahakala’s face ‘charge’ at him suddenly and the suddenness of it woke Zong Rinpoche and when Rinpoche woke he saw the knife in a hand. Zong Rinpoche grabbed at the hand, but the guy got startled and ran.

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Kyabje Zong Rinpoche was known to be the known emanation of Kedrub Je (sitting on the right), the heart son of Je Tsongkhapa 

This is the King of Dharma and Master of all Three Realms Manjunatha Tsongkapa. To His left is Gyaltsab Je or Gyaltsab Rinpoche who is Chenresig incarnate. To the right is Kedrub Je or Kedrub Rinpoche who is considered Vajrapani incarnate. These three are in millions of homes, temples and shrines in Tibet, Mongolia, India, Nepal, and the world. His Holiness Zong Rinpoche is the direct incarnation of Kedrup Rinpoche. I thought I would share that with you all.

These two (Kedrub Je) were very close to Manjunatha Tsongkapa and went everywhere with Him. It is said they both had the same knowledge and attainments as Tsongkapa Himself, but out of humility they showed great deference to their teacher Tsongkapa. But they were great and eminent teachers themselves. When Kedrub Je first met Tsongkapa, he arrogantly sat on a nearby throne same height as Tsongkapa and was very fierce. As he listened to Tsongkapa’s teachings, his head bowed and stooped and slowly crawled off the throne and sat on the floor and became Tsongkapa’s heart disciple. He was a great Sakya scholar. Kedrub Je was a great master of Sakya tradition till he met Tsongkapa and continued to lean.

Zong Rinpoche was very ill with walking stick and cannot barely move. Setrap took trance in the Gaden oracle and went to Zong Rinpoche’s house and personally offered mandala to Zong Rinpoche to extend his life. Zong Rinpoche refused. So Setrap relented and said, stay and oversee the unmistaken incarnation of Trijang Rinpoche is discovered and enthroned. Stay until Trijang Rinpoche’s incarnation is found and enthroned. To this Zong Rinpoche agreed. Zong Rinpoche’s diseases disappeared, he didn’t need a walking stick and became robust again. Zong Rinpoche oversaw the complete procedure of Trijang Rinpoche’s discovery and incarnation. Afterwards, Zong Rinpoche thanked his assistants after breakfast, entered clear light for three days and passed. He had full control over his winds, channels and drops and showed clearly his mastery of tantra. We do reincarnate, it’s just Zong Rinpoche controls his and where he goes and when he goes. We can achieve that thru tantra.

 

Mind-blowing teaching from LA

26 Jul

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All stimuli that serves to excite or disgust are based on lack of true permanence therefore only exist in a projected manner.

Tsem Rinpoche http://www.tsemrinpoche.com 

Recently on facebook, I was asked by Rinpoche to elaborate on this quote for the benefit of Victor Choi. This teaching was recently given to a bunch of students who are assisting Rinpoche here in Los Angeles. Rinpoche frequently adds Dharma to everything that we do here and often gives powerful and insightful teachings to help further our spiritual path. Hence, I thought I blog about this explanation as it was based on my understanding of a recent teaching that Rinpoche gave. Here it is :- 

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Stimuli refers to any experience, people or object that serves to make us happy, unhappy, attached or something that make us want to runaway from it. This could be our partners, career, family, friends, possessions, house, car, cigarettes, alcohol, childhood experience, teenage experience and so forth. 

Rinpoche says that these stimuli lack true permanence because our opinion and reaction to these stimuli can change due to maturity, experience, knowledge, advice, environment etc. The stimuli from its side, does not actually change. It is our opinion and hence, our reaction to it that actually changes. This shows that what we like or don’t like about a stimuli was really just a projection, which is illusory or unreal. 

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Projections are just an impermanent value that we place on stimuli that does not really bring long term benefit. For example, career, money, relationship and marriage are believed to be the source of happiness according to society, culture and the media. However, if we think deeper and look closer into many examples around us, can we logically say that these people are truly happy when they just focus on career, money, relationships and marriages. 

If these things truly bring happiness, then the more money we get or the higher we climb on the corporate ladder or the more or the longer the relationship and marriage we have, we should be happier and happier. However, due to habituation and other reasons, we still pursue these stimuli although they never brought real benefit over and over again across lifetimes. 

And for each of us, the stimuli that we tend to be attached to is different from individual to individual. All of us have a certain attachment to a certain stimuli. This is something to ponder and Rinpoche stress that this is not right or wrong or even a condemnation. It is something to make us realize the true nature of these stimuli so we can balance our lives with Dharma. We can change and transformation comes with new input, knowledge, Dharma, merits, contemplation, effort and so forth. Hope this little explanation helps.

PS: I have pictures of Los Angeles and Hollywood in this post because the city, Hollywood, glitz and glamor represents everything illusory.

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Martin’s Question

5 Jun

Recently, Tsem Rinpoche shared another powerfully intellectual and yet practical teaching regarding the difference between the perception of an ordinary being and that of the Buddha or an enlightened being. I transcribed it for your reading pleasure. It’s a good thought-provoking read and if you have any questions, you can pop me one and I will do my best to answer you.

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Rinpoche,

Is the state of enlightenment also an experience albeit a prolonged one? Or is the phenomenon of ‘experience’ altogether absent in that state? Does an enlightened being feel as human beings feel but with perfect understanding of that feeling?  Or are feelings absent?

Thank you
Martin

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Enlightened beings do not experience per se like the way we do. They do not see something, like it, feel attached and from attachment, create grasping. Then, from grasping, create different mental states of aversion or liking and then, engaging in the act and from there, getting stuck in the act and becoming overwhelmed by the act. And then, being overwhelmed by the habituations of the act and further becoming caught up in the act, thus creating various karmas and then doing it over and over  again.

So, therefore, an enlightened being does not experience the positive or negative from a deluded mind. When we experience things from a deluded mind, our experience can be positive or negative and then, grasping comes. In reaction to something ‘negative’, a grasping towards eliminating it ensues and then the actions that follows and then, the karmas that follows and then the repeat of the action which becomes the habituation and all the tumultuous states of mind that follows that action comes and then we are stuck in quicksand. When we see something we like, we grasp at it, the same thing happens afterwards except we desire more of it. So, enlightened beings definitely do not experience or grasp in that manner. They just perceive. When they perceive, it is without attachment because the deluded mind which arises from the ‘I’- consciousness or the ‘I’– grasping are not present.

In answer to your wonderful and very well-thought out question – therefore enlightenment is a permanent state. It is not a state to achieve. It is not a state to grasp at. It is not a state to be grasped. It is not a state to be looked for. It is a state already within us. So, it is not about achieving it. It is actually finding it for a lack of a better word. It is finding that enlightened state. So, when we find that enlightened state and to be in that enlightened state, we must eliminate the space that is already occupied, which is grasping onto a non-existing ‘I’, hatred that arises from that ‘I’, desire, fears, attachment, delusions, sensory grasping and all that arises from that non-existent ‘I’.

For example, if we remove someone’s eyes, ears, nose and we kind of nullify their nervous system, they won’t have their 5 perceptions. They can’t taste, touch, see and they can’t hear. Therefore, when someone is bereft or without their 5 senses, they can’t perceive. So therefore, ordinary sensory perceptions are also something that arises from the non-existent ‘I’. How does ordinary sensory perception arise from the non-existent ‘I’ because the non-existent ‘I’ has that element of non-existent ‘I’ and that denotes grasping. That grasping manifests in the sensory perception of I want this. I smell this. I hear this. I touch this. I desire this. I want this. So, when we have that kinda of grasping, it re-habituates ourselves to grasp at more.

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When we have that grasping, it re-habituates us over and over until we reach a point where we cannot even hear, see, perceive, understand or listen to anyone or anything – the Dharma, a monk, a teacher, a friend or wisdom. We cannot hear anyone or perceive anyone teaching us otherwise. In that way, we are so caught up in our delusions. We are so caught up in our graspings. We are so caught up in our self- perceived ‘I’ and all that arises from it which is grasping, sensory perception, attachments, anger and hatred. We are so caught up in it and if we are told anything else, we will see that person or that doctrine as the enemy. We will see that as someone that disrupts, disturbs and destroys our peace of mind. Our false peace of mind.

Therefore, when we reach that point, we wish to escape from the Dharma. We wish to escape from the truth – Dharma or whatever we call as the truth. We wish to escape that truth. We wish to escape that meaning, that realization, that understanding and the institution along with the people, the doctrine and everything that has to do with it because it threatens our so-called false peace of mind. Why does it threaten our  peace-of-mind? Because that peace of mind that we have is being enraptured or caught up in our habituations, caught up with our sensory perceptions, caught up in our graspings, caught up in our good or bad or caught up in our prejudices and that all arises from self-grasping ‘I’. So, when we do that in one lifetime and after 2 lifetimes and after 3 lifetimes, it is very difficult to escape. Hence, a blind turtle coming up a hundred years and having a ring slip through its neck is a very good analogy of the rarity of our samsaric situation to practice. And once we get Dharma and we have a chance to become better, we should never ever let it go and go back to it.

Hence, the analogy of the blind turtle and having a ring go through his neck is the rarity of hearing the teachings, hearing the Dharma and hearing the truth. Remember, the Dharma is hearing the truth, not in the sense that Buddhist Dharma is the ultimate truth but Buddha taught the ultimate truth. So that means that in his teachings, you have the ultimate truth. There is possibility there are other teachers and other masters, other manifestations of the truth that may come under different labels, different people, different ideas and in different types of outer appearances, different dimensions or different planets. It’s possible but right now, we have the Buddha manifesting as the Buddha in our world and the Buddha speaking the universal truth.

I would like to re-iterate that this truth of  the self-grasping mind or the non-existent ‘I’ that creates the self-grasping mind that blinds us is not something Buddha made up or something that is indigenous of just Buddha’s perception. It is something that exists and because the Buddha became a Buddha by process of eliminating it, he was able to perceive it and to expound it and share with us. Therefore, when we come across such a rare doctrine, we should do everything we can – by fighting all the heavy torrential currents of the river, to go ‘upstream’ instead of ‘downstream’. That means to understand, practice and to put it into our minds because the chance is absolutely rare and it would not come again easily due to the explanation I just gave.  I hope this helps a little bit. Thank you very much.

Sarva Mangalam.

All auspiciousness to you.

Tsem Rinpoche

Worship by Fire – Fire Pujas

29 May

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Kyabje Zong Rinpoche offering sticks into the fire – mouth of the deity. 

Here’s another set of teachings that Tsem Rinpoche recorded on his phone and sent to a few people including myself. It was all about fire pujas also known as Jinsek in Tibetan. It took me quite a bit of time to transcribe and edit it for your reading pleasure. Take time to read it as it has powerful Dharmic explanations in it.

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In general, there are many types of deities which are a manifestation of various energies, realizations and the compassion of the Buddhas. These deities specifically emanate at a particular time for an individual or a group.

If someone solicits, prays or they have a difficult situation at that time, a Buddha will manifest in a particular form – color, shape, size, stance, facial expression and holding the necessary implements to overcome, subdue and purify that particular karma or ailment of that person. So, once that’s done, when other people do that puja, a lineage of pujas begins from there. So, one deity can have hundreds of different emanations and many different types of pujas as well. Each puja in these traditions may be slightly different but the effect is the same. It depends on which tradition you belong to.

Amongst all pujas, the fire puja is considered the king of all Pujas. It is the most powerful of all pujas within Tibetan Buddhism and its purpose is basically to remove all obstacles and its stains – drima to enlightenment. It is for purifying ordinary appearances,  ordinary unwholesome actions and especially for repairing broken pledges, promises and vows. Those are very strong causes for us to have negative doubts, delusions and negative ideas. The reason we have a lot of negative ideas and delusions towards something that is good for us for example, Dharma is because of the broken pledges and promises that we had in the past. Fire pujas purifies that when we do it continuously with faith and good samaya.

The fire pujas are performed with special ingredients. Special mandalas are constructed at the site and there are peaceful, increase, subjugation and forceful or wrathful fire pujas. The peaceful fire pujas are to remove inauspiciousness,  problems that might be coming to our lifespan, wisdom, wealth, growth of Dharma – hearing, contemplating and meditating on the Dharma. To pacify those problems that may come or delay those problems until we purify it. While, the increase fire pujas is to increase merit, health, lifespan, wisdom and spiritual wealth especially on the hearing, contemplation and application of the Dharma. The control fire pujas is to turn negative circumstances around in our favor as long as we have a good motivation. The last one mentioned is the wrathful fire puja and is only performed when the peaceful, increase and control fire pujas are not effective due to the powerful amount of karma we have. We use wrathful methods to overcome whatever obstacles and ailments obstructing us to growth, wealth, health and practice.

For example, some students in the past have done pujas and fire pujas for prolonging their life, for their parents – mothers and fathers and  after the puja was done, you can see that it made a difference. That’s very kind of the teacher to recommend that and for the student who does it as well. When the student does it for their parents, it alleviates their problems, increases their lives and even saves their lives in some cases. So we should always remember that kindness and that we should always try to increase the Dharma so that other people may receive that form of kindness as well. Therefore, fire pujas is very very effective in many ways when done accordingly with samaya.

So, in the past we can see fire pujas, long life pujas, pilgrimage pujas or recitation pujas can help our family, friends, loved ones and our children. There have been many cases  where children have passed their exams because of pujas. There are cases where fathers’ and mothers’ lives have been saved or increased or their health has improved. Never forget that kindness because it is rare that someone has the ability to do that for our parents through pujas. This can only come about by having a Dharma center, organization, with the Sangha and having people together creates a receptacle or a place where these powerful methods can be taught, practiced and be of further benefit to others. So, that’s very very important to do that.

Fire pujas is also specifically for purifying ordinary appearances, unwholesome actions, broken pledges, inauspicious circumstances and removing negative karma that obstruct us from doing our Dharma practice. The fire pujas are offered to 4 main objects of offerings. The first one is to the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, deities (yidams), dakas, dakinis, arhats, shravakas, pratyakayas and highly accomplished arhats. Second set is offered to the worldly protectors and highly powerful beings in the area and then, the third is to all sentient beings and the last offering is made to spirits and hungry ghosts because they are always hungry, wandering, lonely and thirsty. So we give them some temporary relief.

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Offering of a torma to Agni as thanksgiving for using the fire to invite the wisdom deity to abide in. 

In general, there are thirteen main ingredients. In different traditions, the ingredients may vary slightly but the meaning is pretty much the same. What we do is we generate the fire, purify it and invite the fire god Agni, make offerings to him and get permission from him to use the fire. We are not praying to him but asking for permission. After that, we remove Agni and then, within the fire, we generate the deity of the Yidam or the protector. So, if the fire puja is to White Tara, we generate White Tara or Vajrayogini or Yamantaka or a Dharma Protector. So, lets say that it is to a Dharma Protector, we invite the Dharma Protector to enter the fire. It is because the Dharma Protector is indestructible, arising from the full enlightened mind, he abides within the fire and he opens his mouth and we offer the purified offerings to him, of melted butter, sesame seeds, Tsa Durva grass, rice, rice with curd, kusha grass, mustard seed, barley which is unhusked barley, normal barley which is husked, lentils, wheat, sticks and finally all the ingredients mixed.

So, these are the 13 ingredients offered step-by-step. We recite the mantra of the deity, for example our Dharma Protector Setrap. We recite Om Maha Yaksha Tsa Soha and we place the offering into the fire or into the mouth of Setrap directly. This is considered very powerful and efficacious. The first offering, we offer melted butter, which represents the increase of lifespan, merit and prosperity. So, if our parents are sick when a fire puja was done and a lot of butter was offered to the yidam or the deity in order to increase the lifespan of our parents. So, when we stick with the Dharma, we assist our parents because only Dharma can change their karma for better things. So we can offer a lot of melted butter to the deity. That’s why the offerings should be abundant as much as possible. There’s no limit to increasing one’s lifespan so if we are doing it for a loved one – our parents, our beautiful mother, our sacred father, our children or whomever it is. You can even do this for your pets and it will increase their lives when we visualize the butter as a purified substance offered into the mouth of the deity itself. So, this is very important for all of us to do fire pujas at least once or twice a year for whatever purpose stated earlier.

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A mandala of the deity is usually constructed out of sand on the spot where the fire puja is to take place

Number two, we offer sesame seeds. The sesame seeds removes non-virtues, negative karma, broken samaya, negative thought, negative speech and negative actions. We may think that we can  do and say as we want and if anybody say we can’t, they are infringing on us, they are judging us or they are being judgemental. That’s not true! All the Dharma books in the world talk about what we need to purify. They talk about the faults of our three poisons – ignorance, hatred and desire and how they afflict us and create problems for us. That’s not criticism. That’s giving you wisdom. So, we shouldn’t say “don’t judge me” or “don’t criticize me” because that is a barrier we create so we don’t hear the truth or we don’t deal with the truth. So, by offering purified sesame seeds, we remove non-virtues that create obstructions to our mind to perceive, understand, apply and operate from wisdom. It is by the power of wisdom that purifies our mind that operates from ignorance to receive,  hear and to be near wisdom or to be near a lama – Dharma. This doesn’t mean we will practice because we have karmas that obstruct it. Hence, offering the purified sesame seeds represents the  purification of non-virtues that obstruct us to higher attainments, higher thoughts, higher practice and growth.

The next one is Tsa Durva – grass and by offering that, we increase one’s lifespan. We increase it not to engage in negative actions but is meant to engage in positive actions. To be in the situation where there’s positive thoughts, actions, friends and information where we would do positive work in order to benefit ourselves and others. The next one is to offer rice. Offering rice is to increase merits. The more merits we have, the more understanding blossoms. The more understanding blossoms, the less confusion we have and the less confusion we have, the more we can progress on our spiritual practice and be of benefit to others.

The next one is rice with curd is offered to increase great happiness – Gewa Chenpo. Offering of rice with curd is to increase worldly happiness,  spiritual happiness and to gain the great bliss of a fully enlightened Buddha. The next one is Kusha grass, which is offered for protection. It is protection from negative influences from above, below, the 4 corners and the 4 intermediate directions – the 10 directions. The next one we offer is mustard seed. Mustard seed is offered to the deity purified in order to clear obstacles. This is obstacles of what we want to achieve, for example in KFR, we want to be of tremendous benefit to others, to get all of our permits and complete all of our construction work and have programs going and all that.

By offering unhusked barley, we create the causes for increasing wealth, material resources, necessities, food, clothing, properties, water, anything that we need to be of benefit to others. It is also anything our body needs in order to have a healthy strong life in order to be of benefit to others. So, offering unhusked barley increases wealth. The next one is the offering of husked barley. This offering is to gain rapid accomplishments. So, it is to gain rapid accomplishments of whatever practices, mantras, meditations, recitations, study, contemplation, application that we do from the Dharma. By offering barley, we create the causes and the karmic effects of gaining rapid accomplishments.

The next offering is lentils is to gain strength, which was what Kensur Rinpoche used to say “Thuk Chenpo”. To gain strength of body, mind and speech – to speak courageously about the Dharma no matter how we are criticized. It is to have a strong body and not be sick easy or not to be easily affected by negative elements. It is also to have the strength of mind – not to easily give up, not to find fault with others, situations or find others to be blamed. It is also to have the strength not to put the blame on others when we fail, give up or have doubts. This doubt comes from unethical behaviour or behaving unethically and saying it is ethical or justifying that it is ethical and thus creating the karma for us to always think negatively. Therefore, lentils is to gain great strength of body, speech and mind.

The next offering is wheat. Wheat is to overcome illness. Illness here is of the body and mind that we have to be purified and healed along with future illness. Next offering is that of sticks purified and buttered. These sticks are offered in order to gain high accomplishments – mental high states of being, thinking and status that is used in order to be of benefit to others. The last offering is mixed ingredients and offered to increase wisdom, study, understanding and strength to overcome our weaknesses. It increases the ability to practice and become a fully enlightened Buddha.

The whole purpose of Dharma is to become a fully enlightened Buddha. We can listen to all the Buddha’s teachings, our Guru’s teachings and we can consider it a scolding, criticism, judgement or we can take all the Buddha’s teachings and what the Guru tells and explains to us as wisdom. It is something for us to measure by because of everybody, whatever advice we give us contradicts our own projections and our own attachments. Whatever teachings that have been given to us, whatever wisdom or knowledge that have been given to us, we always see it as an attack on our attachments, we become defensive, we become angry, we say you are judging us but it is not the case. All the Dharma books, gurus, they are suppose to teach the Dharma. They are suppose to give us the Dharma. Our Guru cannot encourage us to go indulge, you know to create negative karma, drink, smoke, womanize and harm and lie and steal. Our Guru can’t do that. Our Guru is not suppose to do that and will not do that. So, if our Guru is teaching us the Dharma, our Guru is not our enemy but our friend. But sometimes when it comes to the face of our attachments, we see our Guru as the enemy but actually not.

So therefore, our Guru is not our enemy. If we really wanna say he’s our enemy, it’s the Dharma. The Guru is telling us the Dharma. For example, if a message has been given to us on a CD deck and we don’t like the message and we smash up the CD deck. The CD deck is not at fault. The CD deck is a vehicle for the Dharma to come through. You smash up the CD doesn’t matter also because the message is not the CD or the CD player but the message is from the person that is coming from. And that person is giving the message from knowledge or wisdom wherever it is obtained. So therefore, by smashing up the CD player all that, it will not help. Like that, if we criticize or we say negative things and we create problems for the teacher or the Dharma center because we don’t like what its told us. We feel it is judging us. That’s wrong view. Why is that wrong view? Because it is something that make us face our attachments which will create karma, which will definitely come back to us.

The Buddha cannot be wrong so therefore, it is giving us wisdom. It is giving us the measuring stick to check and to look at and to understand. Hence, when Pabongka Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche, Zong Rinpoche, when they give great teachings to thousands of monks in the monastery, they taught the same way. They told us what was wrong. They told us what was on our mind. They told us about wrong view. They told us about our attachments. They told us about our karma and its effects and what will happen and we didn’t feel it was scolding. We didn’t feel it was judgment. We saw it as wisdom. So therefore, the last one when we were offering the mixed items, it gives us the ability and blessings to realize advice and teachings that is part of the path to become a fully enlightened being.

So, fire pujas in that way is very effective and powerful if we do it continuously. Then, after all 13 ingredients have been offered, we make a final offering of the sensory items to the Buddha, Bodhisattvas and deities and especially to the deity that has been invited to abide within the wisdom fire. After that’s done, we have the deities return to the pure lands and then we make a final offering to the fire deity called Agni and thank him for using the fire. At the end, we conclude and dedicate and we leave the fire burning as long as possible. We don’t add anything to keep the fire burning and we don’t put it out either. If it rains on it, its fine. We can leave the fire burning until the next day and we can clean up. The fire pujas ashes can be used as relics. It can be placed into stupas, it can be worn, it can be scattered on the ground, it can be put on plants or it can be used  to bless the land. The person that is doing the fire puja must have gotten the initiation of the deity and perform the  sadhana daily without breaking and also have done the full retreat and have done the fire puja of the deity. Then, when they do the fire puja again and again. It is very effective.

So, I have requested these fire pujas to be done at our beautiful Kechara Forest Retreat to dedicate to all of our sponsors, friends, volunteers and students who have contributed a thousand dollars, a million dollars, a million hours, a million cleanups – sweeping, cooking – whatever they have done. Sponsors is not just money. It is everyone who have contributed. For all the meaning of the 13 ingredients to come true for all of them and for our existing students and future students to come. So, the fire pujas are also done to dedicate to all the hardworking students so that their Dharma, learning, meditation, practice and especially application of Dharma will increase. So, we are doing a lot of fire pujas on the Kechara Forest land so that in the future, whoever comes will be blessed, will feel peace, will have healing, will gain wisdom, will want to do Dharma and will be able to develop the inner higher attainments in order to become a fully attained being.

In Preparation to Receive Vajrayogini…

23 May

A Haunting Beauty

A very old statue of Vajrayogini at a shrine in Nepal

A week ago, Tsem Rinpoche forwarded a bunch of audio messages that formed an advice given to an old friend. It seemed that this person had made plans to fly over to the monastery to seek out his aging lama in order to request for a Vajrayogini initiation. Now, Rinpoche forwarded the advice to me and a few others with the hopes that we make take the advice. I actually transcribed the advice and edited out the personal stuff while retaining the Dharma information (including the Tibetan phrases which I tried to faithfully recreate as much as I can hear it ) to share here for all of you…

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It’s important that you Yaya Zhiwa Gyab – you make requests to your teacher humbly again and again for the full Vajrayogini initiation and commentary. However, these few weeks before you get the actual initiation and commentary,  it would be very good to visualize Vajrayogini and your teacher as one and to offer a full mandala offering.

Om Benza Bhumi Ah Hum Wang Chen Ser Gyi Sa Shyi.

Om Benza Rekhe Ah Hum Chi Chak Ri Khor Yuk Gi

etc etc

To offer a full mandala to your Guru who is one with Vajrayogini and focus very strongly and visualize all the wealth, animals, mountains, trees, moon and stars, nice environments, food, people – beautiful women, beautiful men, beautiful houses, beautiful jewellery, money and everything in the world is within this mandala. You visualize this very strongly and clearly. You offer it up to your Lama and Vajrayogini.

Yidam Dang Lama Dag Trugpa Kangso Du Zheyba –  they accept. Think that they accept and you have collected a lot of merit. When you do this every single day before you actually get the initiation, you will remain alert, awake and clear and be able to absorb the information easily on the actual day. Since you are going to make such a long trip over and its a very special event. You want it to be perfect. Tamche Ma Yum Ba – You want to have no obstacles come your way. To receive this kind of high and powerful initiation that would benefit yourself, obstacles always come as you already know. So, it would be good to do this practice every single day to prepare the way.

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 A mandala offering set held by Rinpoche that is filled with fake pearls visualized as real 

When you offer the mandala every single day, it shouldn’t be just our finger intertwine into a mandala offering mudra. It should be an actual mandala set with whatever items you can put on it including coins, crystals, precious objects or whatever you can afford. Since you don’t have a lot of material wealth that you can offer up to your lama, you can offer the visualized inner, outer and secret mandala*. So by doing this mandala practice every single day and offering to a lama, it is very powerful way to generate tremendous amounts of merits.

If we are very wealthy, it would be very good to make offerings to our lama-yidam every day for as much as possible in order to gain merits that can be transformed into practice and gaining realization of Bodhichitta and Shunyata. On the other hand, for the poor, it is not always easy to make vast amounts of offerings so we can engage in mandala offerings. Jetsun Mila or Jetsun Milarepa had no money, no house, no resources, no bank accounts and no sponsors. He had nothing. People would offer him some food once in awhile. He chose this way and therefore, he offered mandala every single day to his lama,  Jetsun Marpa.

Through making mandala offerings every single day, Milarepa gained great amounts of merit and when he did his practice. he became enlightened. The same goes with the King of Dharma of the Three Realms, Kamsum Chokyi Gyalpo Lama Tsongkhapa Chenpo. Same thing he did, same thing when Lama Tsongkhapa stayed in retreat. Kamsum Chokyi Gyalpo Lama Tsongkhapa Chenpo The King of the Three Realms. The Lord of the vast mandala of Sutra and Tantra, Lama Tsongkhapa also manifested poverty until Gaden was built. Before Gaden, he stayed in a cave with his main students and without a lot of money and resources, he made mandala offerings and he didn’t even have a mandala set. He actually used stones and a flat rock surface as the surface of a mandala and you know, we are suppose to hold the mandala with our left hand and in the beginning we are suppose to rub it with our inner palm – left and then right and then left on the mandala to purify it before placing the grains of sand, rice or whatever on it.

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The actual picture of Lama Tsongkhapa’s holy stone mandala base and the groove was etched because of ritually wiping it with his bare hands.  

When Lama Tsongkhapa used his right forearm to wipe the mandala, he wiped it on the rock and he did it so much that he tore his flesh, yet he never stop offering mandala and in the end, he offered over 1 million mandala offerings. After which he did the mandala offerings, prostrations to the 35 Confessional Buddhas and so on. In the end, he had a direct vision of Lord Manjushri. From then on, Manjushri would appear to him and talk to him. But Lama Tsongkhapa was so humble, even though Lama Tsongkhapa saw Manjushri, he didn’t think he was capable of seeing, Lama Tsongkhapa and… Manjushri told Umapa, the great Nyingma lama to tell Tsongkhapa that he is really appearing to him. So, Lama Umapa who was one of Tsongkhapa’s teachers told Tsongkhapa, “It is really Manjushri appearing.” Henceforth, Lama Tsongkhapa believed that it was Manjushri appearing to him. But this arose partly due to Mandala offering.

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Many years ago, when His Holiness Kyabje Zong Rinpoche came to Los Angeles and stayed at our center Thubten Dhargye Ling in LA, I was chosen as Zong Rinpoche’s cook, attendant and cleaner. So, everyday, I would clean Kyabje Zong Rinpoche’s room. I would cook him breakfast and dinner, someone else did lunch. For every single day except Sunday, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche would give Dharma teachings, initiations and empowerments for 6 months. I was very fortunate as I lived and stayed with Kyabje Zong Rinpoche when I was 18 years old in 1983. I was 18 and I received so much teachings every single day after I cooked dinner and cleaned up.

After teachings, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche would retire to his room and I would go in front of Zong Rinpoche’s room and make 100 full prostrations – Chak Sem. I would pray to Kyabje Zong Rinpoche that all the teachings, initiations and practices he gave me would never be forgotten and are absorbed easily into me and that I would be able to practice it very deeply. At that time, I didn’t have any money. So I offer my body, speech and mind every single day quietly without anybody knowing. Geshe-la already went to sleep. Geshe Tsultrim Gyaltsen was the teacher of the center and Kyabje Zong Rinpoche went to sleep and so did all his attendants and students. I would secretly and quietly do 100 prostrations in front of Zong Rinpoche’s room every single day for 6 months because I believed Zong Rinpoche is Heruka Chakrasamvara– Khorlo Demchog and I would do prayers to Demchog and Zong Rinpoche as one. I would absorb, understand the teachings and kept my samaya – damtsig with my guru very pure.

Now that you are arranging to fly over to your monastery to see your wonderful teacher who was of the old generation from Tibet. Their generation is dying out so it is important for us to get there to receive teachings, practices and to receive lineages. I am very very happy that you are requesting your teacher to confer on you the Vajrayogini initiation and after that just like your previous life because I felt very strongly that your previous life did vajrayogini practice. So, it is very good for you to continue again and pick up from where you have left off as the saying goes. What’s important is the initiation and commentary – Katrik from Kensur Rinpoche, your teacher along with the oral transmission, the rituals and the lung.

You have to make it a point to learn how to do the Daju because sometimes when we transgressed our vows, we can purify by doing Daju or self-initiation and also the jinsek (fire puja). Daju and Jinsek – you can ask from other monks but the transmission and initiation, you should get from your teacher. Therefore, practice this deity very well. It is supreme and it is number one as it is the most suitable for us at this time and it is in the most simplest form because it is Zhechig Chanyi – 1 face 2 arms only. By doing that and doing Vajrayogini’s practice, you will send many people to Dakpo Kacho or to the real Kechara Paradise. I really want that to happen and I really rejoice.

Before you receive the teachings and practice and in the future you can inspire others in your country. A lot of your countrymen, sorry to say are poor as they live in the nomadic areas, it would be perfect for them to do the practice. Wealth doesn’t help Dharma practice in some cases. So, if you do your practice well, you will inspire many to practice and eventually ascend to Dakpo Kacho or Kechara Paradise. Perhaps, you can help to set up  a special Vajrayogini chapel with a large Vajrayogini statue that is covered so people can do the practice quietly because her image is not to be seen by the public easily because it is very holy.

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Rinpoche performs a full length prostration to the current incarnation of Kyabje Zong Rinpoche 

So you must prepare for this initiation by requesting your teacher many times and collecting the merits to receive it so that obstacles don’t arise. It is very important that you collect a lot of merit and one of the ways is through making mandala offerings – the extensive long mandala offering with visualization with good motivation to Vajrayogini and to your Guru. Why to Vajrayogini? Because that is the initiation you wish to receive. Sangye Jangsem Pawo Khandro Chokyong Sumgyi Tamche…dissolved. All Buddhas, Bodhisattvas, Yidams deities, Dharma protectors and Dakas and Dakinis all dissolved into Vajrayogini and then Vajrayogini becomes the essence of the 3 Jewels – past, present and future and then she is also one with your Guru and you offer this mandala to her every single day. That would be very powerful.

If you have time, the mandala offering is very good and also to do the Tongshak to prepare which is the 35 Confessional Buddha practice and also to do full length prostrations however many you can do every day – 21, 50, 108. Up to you and then you do the prostrations to Vajrayogini herself and again visualize her as one with your Guru, What’s very important is to visualize full Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and deities as one with Vajrayogini and then make the prostration. It would be more effective this way. This are practices that you may do before initiation so that obstacles do not come and before you make the trip to the monastery, you should do your protector practice.

Your protector should be Gonpo Chadrugpa – Six-armed Mahakala. You should do a Mahakala puja and golden drink offering. If you can, you should do a Mahakala golden drink offering every day in order to destroy obstacles. Why? Because when you receive this initiation and you practice it, you will gain immense blessings and purify a lot of karma. So, since we have a Dharma protector such as Mahakala in your case. What’s important is to use the Dharma Protector, to solicit – Topa  and to request and to ask for him to grant his protection and actions. So, this is very very important. Duen Nyampa Nga Kabla – During the 5 Degenerate times, which is now, many obstacles arise when we want to do powerful practice. But you know all that. I am just sharing with you. So, I offer all these to you with humility and love and care and I thank you very much.

Tsem Rinpoche

* – An outer mandala offering (phyi’i mchod-pa) is of external objects such as water, flowers, incense, and so on, or of the desirable objects of the five senses. An external mandala is an offering made of an external world-system.
– An inner mandala offering (nang-mchod) is of aspects of the body. These may be either aspects of the gross body, namely the five aggregates and five elements or, in Kalachakra, aspects of the subtle body, namely the ten subtle energy-winds. Five meats and five nectars, purified, transformed, and multiplied, represent the two sets of five or the ten. An internal mandala (nang-gi dkyil-‘khor) is an offering made of various parts of the gross body, with the spine or trunk imagined as Mount Meru and the four limbs imagined as the four island-continents.
– A secret or hidden mandala offering (gsang-mchod) is of blissful awareness. Alternatively, it is of the nonconceptual blissful awareness of voidness with the clear-light, subtlest level of mental activity (a clear-light mind). Similarly, a secret or hidden mandala (gsang-ba’i dkyil-‘ khor) is an offering of a blissful awareness or of a nonconceptual blissful awareness of voidness with a clear-light mind. ( source – Berzin Archives )

The Corpulent Monk

14 May

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Happy belated Wesak guys!

In Malaysia, we celebrate Wesak Day yesterday and this is the sacred day of the Buddha’s birth, enlightenment and parinirvana as many of you might already know. It is indeed a sacred day for us Buddhist and so, I was busy the entire day performing my Pastors’ duty to blessed children with Manjushri’s mantra, officiate Rinpoche’s latest book (Un)expected and also Time to Wake Up and was also the puja lead for the prayers at Kechara House. That’s me above with Pastor Lance and Pastor Niral. This is the first time for the 3 of us Pastors to perform the baby blessing.

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Anyway, I thought I would give you guys a treat to commemorate this special day – a little story and explanation of Phra Sangkachai or Maha Kaccayana.

According to archaeology, the oldest statuette of the fat monk was found in Asia was dated around the beginning of the Christian era.  It was found in Vaisali of India. The image is 4.4 inches high, 2.3 inches wide and0.9inches thick.  This Fat monk is depicted in sitting posture with a back slab behind him.  At the back of the slab behind the image there was an ancient script in Brahmi and the line can be translated as Saccakaparlbajaka (ji) na.

Saccakaparibajaka was a Nigrantha Jain ascetic. He lived in Vaisali during the lifetime of the Buddha. He possesses immense wealth since birth and later became a philosopher and teacher.  He has many followers seeking wealth. Due to his immense wealth and abundance of food and grains, he looked after the poor orphaned children of Vaisali. He was said to have challenged Mahavira and the Buddha to a discussion with him about whose philosophy was the best.  At the end of the debate he had to bow down to Buddha and acknowledge the Buddha’s superior wisdom.

Even after he became ordained in the Buddhist monastic order, his fame of being the harbinger of extreme wealth and abundance made him followed by too many worshipers, both Buddhists and non-Buddhists.  It was to the point where his popularity was annoyed and jealous by much of Buddha’s other follower monks.  To compensate the tension among his monks, Buddha had to explain about the origin of FatMonk Saccaka’s immense wealth and popularity by telling a story of his previous life.  25 worlds ago, at the period of Kaukaukthan Buddha, there was a big flood and his native country was flooded. Many people were starved.  The hungry and starved people called Kaukaukthan Buddha for help.  Even though he can make food for people with his own powers, Kaukaukthan Buddha asked for help from the people who could donate food for the poor instead.  Saccaka at that time was a great merchant and as being a devoted follower, he donated 500 ox-carts full of grains for the hungry people.  Therefore the Kaukaukthan Buddha had granted him a promise that he will be extremely rich and abundant for number of lives equal to the number of grains in his 500 ox-carts and his wealth would be immense and uncountable like the number of grains that he had donated for the people.  Since that time for 25 worlds, he was always immensely wealthy and abundant in each and every of his life.

Lord Buddha had praised the Fat Monk Saccaka for his excellence in explaining sophisticated dhamma  in an easily and correctly understandable manner. The Fat Monk Saccaka also composed the Madhupinadika Sutra or the first Pali Grammar.

One tale relates that when he was young, he was so handsome that once even a man wanted him for a wife. To avoid a similar situation, the Monk Saccaka decided to transform himself into a fat monk. Another tale says he was so attractive that angels and men often compared him with the Lord Buddha. He considered this inappropriate, so began to eat and became very fat so people would not be inappropriately attracted. He obviously just wanted people to come to him for the Dharma and not for other inappropriate reasons.

Since his wealth and abundance is mainly on food and grains, many farmers in Asia regard him as the Lord of the Abundant Grains.  Every year, at the start of the rainy season, before starting the farming, his image was taken to the paddy fields and worshipped with flowers, food and water.  Then farmers pray at his statue for great yield of paddy for the year.

On being Santa…

4 May

Last Christmas, which was nearly 4 months ago, I did a little Christmas Santa free giveaway of my books (http://www.davidlai.me/2013/11/26/christmas-surprise/). Interestingly, I received 4 requests and come 2014 New Year, I decided to fulfil them. My apologies for taking this long to blog about the winners of this little giveaway. The next time I do this, I promise to be more efficient with the postage and handling. Hehe! Anyway, here are the winners…

*Drum roll*

1. Chandra Golay

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She is Nepalese girl living in England. She won the Vajrayogini 8″ statue consecrated with mantras inside of her and she now sits on her altar. All she had to do was to record or write a review of my book There’s No Way But Up. Apparently, she wrote this little review…

The book accounts of a wonderful relationship between Mr. David Lai and His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche. To name it the relationship between them is that of a student and teacher. However, this is not an ordinary relationship between a teacher and student at a school or university where the teacher imparts his/her theoretical knowledge to student and the student is at the institution with the aim to pass the academic year.

David and Rinpoche’s relationship is really a wonderful and special one. As  Rinpoche is a refined person with so many skills and good qualities, we find these qualities rubbing off on the young David. The book captures a glimpse of a transformative spiritual journey from self-centeredness to that of a genuine caring, aware and all-rounded individual who aims to practice and attain the essence of the teachings of David’s spiritual master.

In the beginnng of the book we find David to be an only child pursuing higher education in Australia. His characteristics resemble a mediocre student enjoying life, as any young person desires. His dedication to the degree is mediocre too and he finds himself in his hometown resitting the final year. During this time he meets Rinpoche who nurtures and persuades him to be self-sustaining and independent. Overall Rinpoche becomes a mentor and friend to David who inculcates in David life lessons necessary to be a responsible and mature person.

However like life there are glitches in this relationship mainly on David’s part. David undertakes the Gelugpa Tibetan Buddhism lineage as taught by his master and the journey although the results of the journey is to attain full enlightenment, to undergo the method isn’t rosy all the time. In short the spiritual training shows David his mind and how he can better himself for himself and others. The message of the book is to look into himself and challenge himself, overcome these challenges and take responsibilty of his mind. During his work at Kechara Media Publications  we also find how the ancient teachings are practised by the students of Rinpoche and how being happy and beneficial amidst the chaos of life remains a genuine possibility.

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2. Michael Collier

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He is a young guy all the way from America and this was what he wrote to me…

I don’t have any books published by Kechara Media and Publications because I am poor and have no money (#whiteboyproblems) but I do have a Poster gifted to me by Malaysian Kechara house after answering a question correctly during a blog quiz. Does this count? After all, a picture IS a 1,000 words or so.

Decided to give him a copy of my book There’s No Way But Up anyway.

3. Lars Mårdenkrans

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This Swedish guy has a name I don’t really know how to pronounce. He left this message on my blog and needless to say, I gave him my book for Christmas.

That’s awesome!;o I’m a scholar when it comes to being greedy,no shame at all. Keeping my thumbs crossed!:o Merry christmas/Lars

And emailed me this when he received my book.
Hey David!
I just wanted to inform you that DHL tried to deliever yourbook yesterday, but I was not home at that time.. today I got it though!;o Thank you once again for the book and I enjoyed your Little “pm” you left lol, I be sure to hit you back with a response after reading.
I can say that I recently read “Vajrayogini and Other Sacred Power Places in Nepal” though, the only objection I have is that it was to short haha. I loved it, seriously. It’s a renounciation-maker!*o* It could easily been double the content,both photos & text, but as a book also aimed for the non-buddhist, the amount of content feels just right to lit a interrest without inducing Zzz..
Really man, I feel blessed to be able to take part of such a journey thru your book and to gaze upon the beautifull temples & the statues there in. Thank you!
All the best / Lars
4. John Cartwright
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This guy from Australia wrote to me and unusually, he bought my book in a bookstore in Perth and was interested in Tales My Lama Told Me instead. I thought, why not?…
Hi David,
I picked up a copy of your book “There’s No way But Up” in a bookshop in Perth, Western Australia and have really enjoyed reading it.
An honest and refreshing book.
Could you please put me in the draw for your other book – “Tales My Lama Told Me” as I would like to read it also.
Thank you.Kind regards,
John Cartwright

I am a Pastor now… A Buddhist one

27 Apr

Hello cyberspace… Long time no see. I apologize for my long absence from blogging. I thought I come back with a bang and my big bang here is a post on my Pastor ordination. Yup, I am officially a Pastor now… A Buddhist one that is. I know some Christians lay claim to the fact that Pastors are lay ministers in a Christian church. But, that is not necessarily true as the term pastor had also been in use in some Buddhist traditions in the West. Anyway, all I can say is it is just a religious term that is not exclusively meant for any one religion.

So, what do I do as a Pastor?

As a Pastor, I assist Rinpoche to share the Dharma (which I have always done as a senior student of Rinpoche’s), perform rituals and ceremonies along with the other Pastors. Consequently, the Pastors have to hold the 8 Mahayana Precepts for the duration of our pastorship. The vows empowers us with merits and the frame of mind to benefit others. Pastors are not monks and nuns (not yet at least as for some, this would be a step towards receiving full ordination) The vows does not include celibacy.

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Rinpoche asked me a couple of months back if I wanted to be a Pastor. I said yes and he asked me why and I told him that I have been doing some of the work of a Pastor so its just just a matter of the next step – ordination and receiving the vows. So, here I am on an early morning of April 17, 2014 with a bright and crisp white shirt, smiling and all ready to receive my vows. By the way, the ordination vows are given by Pastor Yek Yee.

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After receiving my pastor ordination vows, Buddha pendant and the hair cutting ceremony, I got into my Pastor suit and received a package of my pastors uniform in a box. Datuk May Phng, the president of Kechara House presented the package on behalf of the organisation. The attention was flattering because so many people lined up to congratulate, offer a khata and angpaos. Yes, exciting but dared not pocket the money. I donated it all back to Kechara. Some earlier angpaos I had received before the ordination, I donated it to Tsem Rinpoche’s Foundation.

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Before the ordination, we were told to prepare a 10 minute talk on a topic of the lamrim as well as a short introduction of ourselves and our personal goals as a Pastor. As much as I love to share the Dharma, 10 minutes was rather squeezy to talk about so many things but somehow I managed.

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Here’s a little certificate to let people know that I am a legitimate Pastor of Kechara House. Someone did ask me how would I like to be known as? Pastor David Lai or just Pastor David. I told her Pastor David is fine and if that’s too long, PD is also alright.

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My official Pastor portrait in uniform that I initially hated because I thought I look bloated but I like it now. Just gotta let go of the fact that I am no longer the skinny chicken I once was. Hehe! Just wish I opened my eyes bigger though. I look like I am squinting here.

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Here’s a group Pastor portrait with 3 of the newly ordained Pastors – myself, Pastor Henry Ooi (next to me in grey suit) and Pastor Niral Patel (next to Pastor Yek Yee in white and the only Indian here) The fourth pastor is not in the picture because he is in America serving Rinpoche and he took the vows via skype. Anyway, he is Pastor Seng Piow.  Incredible what technology can do to bridge the distance. Those in white uniform are pastors in training that have plans to be ordained as a fully ordained member of the Sangha.

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I love this last picture because it was with my dad and the sunflowers my mom sent via my dad. She couldn’t make it because she had to go to Church for easter celebrations. All the same and my pastorship is dedicated to their happiness, long life and good rebirth (a thousand years from now).

Here’s a recording of the pastor ordination ceremony(apologies for the poor quality video):- YouTube Preview Image

The missing MH370 – Time to Practice the Dharma?

19 Mar

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Amidst the flurry of messages all over social media calling for people to pray for MH370 and various speculations as to what happened to the Boeing plane, there were some Buddhists telling people to “practice the Dharma while we can”. If you are Buddhist, you would instantly recognize the meaning behind this simple statement. If you are not, you’d be wondering what’s the connection?

Missing MH370 and practicing the Dharma… is there a mystical connection?

Well, the missing plane represents one of the bane of our existence – the insecurity of our impending death. We are not sure if our next breath, next minute, next hour, next day, next week, or next year could be our last. Hence, it is imperative as Buddhists or seekers of the truth to seize this moment to make the best of what we have – a sort of spiritual carpe diem. That I am sure makes this mystery of the missing plane all the more gripping and a huge play on people’s fear and imagination. I have heard many who normally would take this overnight flight to Beijing saying that they could have been on the plane…

Understanding the uncertainty of life or as Buddhists calls it the nature of impermanence, we delve into what the Buddha offers with his teachings that’s popularly called the Dharma. Often translated as the law, the truth or even the teachings, it invokes upon our universal responsibility to act in ways that makes us closer towards becoming a fully enlightened being. The more evolved we become, the better we are at benefitting others. In that way, we make our short existence on this planet meaningful. The more we understand the Buddhadharma and practice, we make our lives meaningful so when we do meet our ‘end’, our lives would be in vain. In the Buddhist sense, it is a life spent towards shoring up merits and good karma for our hereafter like a sort of spiritual investment….

Hope my explanations help. All these were in my head and I thought I attempt to convey the connection between a missing plane and the the call to practice the Dharma. I know my explanations are a little skewed towards Buddhist view… Please feel free to share your thoughts or if you have any questions.

Uproar Over the Upcoming Movie Noah

10 Mar

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I had just watched this and I find this entertaining and interesting. At times, I couldn’t help myself from laughing at some of the remarks. Anyway, the video is about the negative feedback regarding an upcoming blockbuster movie featuring the life of Noah, one of the early prophets of the Bible. And because of this, Paramount has already come up with a disclaimer regarding this movie.

A friend of mine said she was not surprise that people are taking the bible so lightly. It is such views that makes the bible seem to modern individuals as a book made up of fairytales that only the most conservative Christians like the Mormons would believe word-for-word. I never thought of it that way and I found it hard to disagree with her. I know most Christians these days interpret the meaning while a few take it literally. Anyway, she went on with the most outrageous opinion about the story of Noah. It was outrageous but it made sense and I like it when it makes sense.

She said that it was ridiculous to make a movie about Noah’s Ark and she was funny because she said that is the one story in the bible that makes God of the Bible to be a ruthless and most effective killer. In the bible, Satan was suppose to be the ultimate embodiment of evil but in the bible, he only managed to kill 10 people. However, God of the bible had wiped out the entire human population in this story of Noah and this does not include innocent animals. At this point, I was flabbergasted at the truth of this statement. She said animal activists must really dislike God because of this.

Then, she said she’s not trying to denigrate Christians or the bible. She’s merely stating facts and she said that those who take the meaning of the 10 commandments and the gospel of Jesus to heart, they would be radically different – kind, compassionate and conscientious towards others. This is radically different than those, who take the word of God (bible) to be literal truth like the ones who complained about the movie Noah. She said she formed this opinion based on the a documentary of Mormons that she had recently watched. It must be awful to be born into such an environment that teaches such wrong views.

I must say this is rather insightful not just of Christians but of Buddhists and another other religion who unyieldingly uphold their dogma at the expense of being receptive, kind and compassionate. In the end, it is not God, Buddha or any other deity that decides our fate, it is our own views and resulting actions that decide our future.