Friday, May 19, 2017

Exposition of Lotus Sutra by Acho Rinpoche - 3

       Tonight, we did a Guru Rinpoche prayer. After which, Acho Rinpoche continued to expound the Lotus Sutra. Sakyamuni Buddha waited for this final moment in his life to transmit the ultimate teachings to his students, which would truly bring them onto the path to Buddhahood. It was also the time for him to prophesize their final attainment of Buddhahood in the far future, with their Buddha titles foretold.
      A Vietnamese Zen Master, Thich Nhat Hanh, had a very special experience when he recited the Lotus Sutra one day. “At night, when I was reciting the Lotus Sutra, suddenly I heard the sound of recitation resounded in the entire universe, earth seemed to have awaken within the vastness of space, and all kinds of flower blossomed fully! A brilliant jeweled stupa appeared, illuminating the whole universe. As I lifted my head and look upward into the night sky, I saw an oceanic assembly of Bodhisattvas appearing in the space, and I saw the hand of Sakyamuni Buddha within mine…”
In the history of ancient China, another Buddhist master by the name of Master Wisdom (538-597) also had a very special experience while reciting a chapter entitled “King of Medicine” within the Lotus Sutra that read “which is thus considered true diligence, true offering of Dharma to the Buddha.” At that juncture, he entered the Lotus Samadhi and witnessed the very assembly on top of the Vulture Peak, where Sakyamuni Buddha was still expounding the Lotus Sutra, with Sun Moon Lamp Buddha appearing in the same space too. Later, Master Wisdom founded the Tian Tai School which specialized in the propagation of the Lotus Sutra.
Anyone who recites any sentence within the Lotus Sutra, or by merely reciting the title of the sutra, will attain the state of Buddhahood one day! The Japanese Lotus Sect advocates the mere recitation of the title of Lotus Sutra as the main practice. Lotus Sutra is often being studied from two angles: its historical background and the miraculous phenomena such as the oceanic appearance of the enlightened ones, the appearance of the Jewel-rich Buddha Stupa from beneath the earth etc. Acho Rinpoche told us that the appearance of the Sun Moon Lamp Buddha will be accompanied by the Jewel-rich Buddha Stupa without fail due to the deep spiritual connection between the two. Thich Nhat Hanh expounded the Lotus Sutra from the third angle, emphasizing on the importance of “action”. Bodhisattva Despising No One is an exemplary role of “action”, where he would prostrate to everyone whom he met and addressed everyone as a Buddha. Such is the practice free of ego. When he was about to die, he heard the exposition of Lotus Sutra by the Magnificent Voice Buddha in space and immediately attained the ultimate state of liberation with his six sensual organs purified instantaneously. So, viewing everyone as a Buddha is the most expedient path to enlightenment! One who can internalise this teaching will attain the state of Buddhahood in the shortest time.
                Acho Rinpoche also mentioned another enlightened being coming from a different world, Bodhisattva Wonderful Sound, who came from another Buddha Land to our world in order to hear the exposition of Lotus Sutra by Sakyamuni Buddha. At that juncture, a strong light was emitted from the forehead of Sakyamuni Buddha which illuminated all the Buddha Lands within the universe, including the Clear Light Sublime Pure Land where Bodhisattva Wonderful Sound was a resident. The Clear Light Sublime Buddha of that world advised Bodhisattva Wonderful Sound not to look down on Sakyamuni Buddha and his students in our world who were a lot smaller in size and our land which appeared to be uneven and filthy. It is obvious that we are not alone in this universe and the numerous worlds mentioned in the Buddhist doctrines far surpassed what the modern science can verify.
                Finally, Acho Rinpoche advised us to copy the Lotus Sutra, recite it and be mindful about it during our daily activities while eating, walking and working etc. Eventually, we should truly attain the ultimate teachings expounded in the Lotus Sutra.
Homage to the Lotus Sutra! Sadhu! Sadhu!

Reported by Sun-Moon KFS on 5-5-2017 in Singapore

Exposition of Lotus Sutra by Acho Rinpoche - 2

Today is the 8th day of the 4th Lunar Month, which was also the same day when Sakyamuni Buddha was born in this world more than two thousand five hundred years ago. Vajrayana Buddhism placed special emphasis on certain days of the year including the date when a Buddha was born in this world, when sun eclipse or moon eclipse happen etc.; we believe that the merits accumulated from doing the sadhanas on these days will increase by numerous folds, thus expediting our advancement on the spiritual path to enlightenment. A sadhaina performed today is equivalent to numerous rounds of sadhana performed for a long period of time, beyond one’s imagination.

Tonight, Acho Rinpoche mentioned the importance of the Lotus Sutra again. After Sakyamuni Buddha expounded the Innumerable Meanings Sutra (Amitartha Sutra), he entered the Samadhi of Innumerable Meanings. At this juncture, the whole world was illuminated brightly by the luminosity emitted from his body while he was dwelling in the state of profound samadhi.  It was indeed a very astounding and unprecedented experience to the entire assembly of students who observed the amazing situation in awe. Bodhisattva Maitreya could not help but asked Bodhisattva Manjushri, whether the latter had any idea of what was happening? Manjushri told the assembly that he had, in fact, witnessed a similar situation aeons ago when Sun Moon Lamp Buddha was about to expound the Lotus Sutra. True enough! Sakyamuni Buddha rose from this samadhi later and expounded the Lotus Sutra. There were five thousand Arahat students who left the assembly before the exposition began, leaving behind the remaining students who were ready to accept the teachings and receive the prophesy from Sakyamuni Buddha on their enlightenment in future with their Buddha titles clearly predicted.

Acho Rinpoche mentioned that the Vimalakirti Sutra despised the Hinayana practice but the Lotus Sutra mentioned that all three schools of Buddhism (Hinayana, Mahayana and Vajrayana) are actually one and the same – the Buddhayana. Sakyamuni Buddha prophesized that all his Arahat students who practiced the Hinayana would attain Buddhahood in future. Lotus Sutra is the king of all sutras. We should revere and cherish the Lotus Sutra by copying, reading and practising the teachings expounded within.

The Three Realms (Desire, Form and Formless) are but a house on fire. Sakyamuni Buddha transmitted the three schools of teachings for the sole purpose of helping us to escape from danger. Ultimately speaking, there is only one teaching – the Buddhayana. A practitioner must complete the practice of the Six Perfections (offering, discipline, tolerance, diligence, meditation and wisdom), in order to attain the ultimate state of enlightenment - Buddhahood. There is a practitioner by the name of Despising No One being mentioned in the Lotus Sutra, who did not appear to be reciting the sutras, chanting the mantras nor doing meditations in his practice. However, he would prostrate to everyone whom he met and addressed everyone as a Buddha. This is just the practice free of ego which views all sentient beings as the Buddhas. How many of us are capable of doing so? Bodhisattva Despising No One finally attained a state of enlightenment with his six sensual organs fully transformed into a state of purity that they could be used interchangeably. So, the most expedient path of practice is just the practice free of ego.

The ultimate state of enlightenment can only be reached through the actualization of practice, without which there will be no chance! A believer can attain the ultimate state of liberation but a non-believer will continue to be stranded in the Six Realms of Existence. Today, our world is very near the verge of destruction, with possible nuclear war breaking out anytime which could wipe out certain countries from the surface of earth immediately. Acho Rinpoche advised us not to belittle ourselves nor belittle the spiritual power of our practice.  Instead, we should have full faith in the teachings of Sakyamuni Buddha and all the enlightened ones like the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, that when we chant the mantras and visualize the numerous enlightened ones illuminating the Six Realms of Existence with bright lights to free all sentient beings of sufferings, and dedicate the merits of our practice to all sentient beings, it can actually help change the world and save it from destruction.

Sadhu! Sadhu!

Reported by Sun-Moon KFS on 3-5-2017

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

Green Tara Puja & Naga Vase Offering in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

On 13 May 2017, Acho Rinpoche and Konde Rinpoche jointly presided over a Green Tara Puja and Naga Vase Offering Prayer held at PGMR in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Konde Rinpoche explained the significance of Lamp Offering, Flower Offering and Puja. When one offers lamps during a soul deliverance prayer, the light emitted from the lamps will become so bright that it could hide the weaker light emitted from the Six Realms of Existence, thus leading the deceased towards the luminous path of a rebirth in the Pure Land instead of falling back into the Six Realms of Existence. The offering of flowers signifies tolerance, and it can bring peace to the mind of the deceased. Puja is a huge offering of foods to the deities, whereby the foods would be blessed by the deities and become nectar which can help to eradicate the negative karma and cure the sickness of one who consumed them. He shared with the audience that in the past, there were no doctors in the poor villages of Tibet. So, the villagers would just consume the foods offered in a Puja to cure their own sickness.
        Acho Rinpoche expressed his appreciation to 21 Singaporean students who rose early at 3am this morning, in order to catch a morning flight from Singapore to Kuala Lumpur and take part in this prayer; they clearly demonstrated their commitment to the practice and how much they cherished the Buddhadharma . There was a total of 37 Singaporean taking part in this public prayer, with some of us reaching Kuala Lumpur one day earlier. He also shared with the audience that there were simply too many spiritual beings attending this prayer too, which made him feel drowsy at the beginning of the prayer. But after the prayer started, there were numerous deities descending to the prayer hall and helped deliver the soul of the spiritual beings; by then, his feeling of drowsiness was swiftly swept away.
       Konde Rinpoche told us that the Green Tara practice is a very superior practice because when one finishes reading the Prayer of 21 Taras, he has in fact, finished reading all the sutras. When one makes offering to Green Tara, he has made offering to all the deities. When one chants the heart mantra of Green Tara, he has chanted all the heart mantras of all the deities. In Tibet, Green Tara Puja is part of the morning prayer in all the monasteries.
After lunch, we went to Port Klang and took a boat ride to the sea. We offered the Naga Vases to the sea beings by dropping them into the sea. By this time, a sun halo appeared in the sky. This was an auspicious sign telling us that the prayer was perfect and it had indeed helped the numerous sentient beings tremendously; the deities were greatly delighted by this meritorious act. Next, we went to a new Dzogchen Centre set up along Jalan Ipoh, for an inauguration ceremony. Acho Rinpoche and Konde Rinpoche jointly inaugurated the opening of this centre which was sponsored by one of the local practitioners. The centre will be an important place for the propagation of the Nyingma Dzogchen teachings which had been prophesized by Guru Rinpoche to flourish in this era (when iron bird flies in the sky). After the inauguration ceremony, Konde Rinpoche invited Acho Rinpoche to ascend the throne set up in the prayer hall. Konde Rinpoche prostrated to Acho Rinpoche and presented a few important religious objects to the latter including a mandala, a Buddha statue, a sutra and a stupa. This is a common practice in Vajrayana Buddhism for an abbot to show his utmost reverence to a precious master who graced the occasion. The offering of these religious objects signifies the prayer for the longevity of the precious master, and a request to him to transmit the teachings of the Buddha for the benefit of the sentient beings. Konde Rinpoche told us that the visit of a precious master to a spiritual centre can only happen when the audience has accumulated tremendous merits in their practice.  Acho Rinpoche told the audience that Konde Rinpoche is a great Vajra Master who are very humble in nature. He advised the local students to cherish the presence of Konde Rinpoche and learn from him seriously, and they will certainly accomplish their practice in future.
Acho Rinpoche shared with the audience his personal experience in spiritual cultivation, and his connections with Buddhism, Taoism and Christianity. In the past, he often dreamed of himself wearing monk robes which might mean that he would become an ordained person one day. Finally, he realized that those dreams actually hinted that he would become a Vajra Master one day, while remaining as a layman Buddhist. He has been practising for 40 years by now and he noticed that anyone who came to seek help from him, as long as he agreed to help (without doing anything), the requestor will naturally have his wish fulfilled. Such is the amazing ability of an accomplished spiritual master. Sadhu! Sadhu!

Reported by Sun-Moon KFS from Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia on 13 May 2017

Sunday, April 30, 2017

Exposition of Lotus Sutra by Acho Rinpoche - 1

Tonight, we did a Boddhisattva Majushri Prayer on the day of his birthday. After which, Acho Rinpoche shared with us a few key practices which could help us attain spiritual realization in this world.
In Mahayana Buddhism, there is a practice on the recitation of the name of Amitabha Buddha which could help the practitioner gain a rebirth in the Western Blissful Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha in his next life, despite the fact that his negative karma has yet to be fully eradicated by then. There are nine levels of such birth in the pure land, depending on the level of spiritual accomplishment of a practitioner during his life on earth; the higher his spiritual attainment in this life, the higher the form of existence he would attain in his next life in the pure land. However, the pace of one’s spiritual advancement in a pure land will be a lot slower than that on earth because of the perfect living condition in a pure land that poses no temptations to a practitioner that would test him further on his weaknesses. Those who gained a lower level of births in the pure land would not be able to meet Amitabha Buddha personally immediately either, as it would take a long time for the lotus bud within which he resides to blossom. That explains why there are various realms within the Western Blissful Pure Land including a Common Land shared between the enlightened ones and the non-enlightened ones, an expedient Land of Non-ultimate Enlightenment, a Land of Enjoyment Body and a Land of Ultimate Enlightenment and Luminosity.
In Vajrayana Buddhism, although there is a very superior practice of “Instantaneous Enlightenment in a Single Lifetime”, it is not easy to accomplish such practice because there are four stages of empowerment that must be accomplished by a practitioner stage by stage. When a practitioner embarks on the second stage of empowerment, he must renounce his layman lifestyle and enter a strict retreat in order to accomplish the inner heat yoga with full concentration. There is another Vajrayana practice which is even more superior – Dzogchen (The Great Perfection), which includes the One Hundred Deities Yoga that could help one leap from the first stage of empowerment straight into the final stage of Dzogchen. Acho Rinpoche is a master from this very superior Nyingma Dzogchen lineage, who transmitted a special Guru Yoga Practice with the Sun-Moon-Lamp Buddha being regarded as the Root Guru; the immense blessing power of this practice can help expedite the accomplishment of a practitioner.  
Next, Acho Rinpoche stressed the important of the Lotus Sutra again. This sutra has a special connection with the Sun-Moon-Lamp Buddha. In numerous aeons ago, there were a total of 20,000 Buddhas appearing in this world who had the same Buddha title as “Sun-Moon-Lamp Buddha”. The last Sun-Moon-Lamp Buddha who appeared in this world was a king with eight sons. His eight sons followed him on the spiritual path. He taught for a long time, for a long period that lasted about 60 small aeons. Finally, he handed over this spiritual lineage to Bodhisattva Wonderful Light (who became Bodhisattva Manjushri in future). Wonderful Light continued to teach the eight princes, and the youngest prince became Dipankara Buddha in future. Dipankara Buddha transmitted his teachings to Sakyamuni Buddha in future. Such was the superior spiritual lineage transmission among the Enlightened Ones. Therefore, Acho Rinpoche advised us to read the Lotus Sutra diligently, apply the teachings in our daily activities, and aspire to propagate the teachings of Lotus Sutra in future. Lotus Sutra pointed out the Buddha Nature within all sentient beings, saying that all sentient beings could become Buddhas one day. The actual practice of the Six Paramitas (Six Perfections) will help us attain the state of Buddhahood one day. Besides, there is another sutra of equal importance (大通方广忏悔灭罪庄严成佛经), which Acho Rinpoche advised us to do the same. When one attains a spiritual union with Sun-Moon-Lamp Buddha, he will be able to attain the state of Buddhahood in this very lifetime or minimally, he would be able to attain the state of Buddhahood during his bardo (a period between death and the next rebirth).  
Lastly, Acho Rinpoche advised us to recite the heart mantras of Guru Rinpoche and Green Tara incessantly for at least one billion times, to form the basis of our spiritual cultivation. He reckoned that it is not easy for us to complete the practice of the Four Foundations (Ngöndro) for 100,000 rounds each during this lifetime, so he suggested an alternative solution instead which is more achievable by the layman practitioners in this era.  
Thus have I heard, the most supreme teaching which is hard to come by in the longest times beyond imagination. I shall, therefore, aspire to practise with vigor, in order to realise the true teachings of the Buddha.

Reported by Sun-Moon KFS on 29-4-2017 in Singapore

Sunday, April 23, 2017

X-Tour: Laos

In January 2017 Murakami Haruki, a renown Japanese writer, published his new book entitled Tell me what does Laos have to offer?. He shared with the readers that when he was transiting via Hanoi airport after visiting Vietnam, a Vietnamese asked him, Tell me what does Laos have to offer? Murakami was dumfounded by that question because he really did not know much about Laos, except the little information he read from Wikipedia. Is that not the exact purpose of making a tour for one to find out the what?
In the 70s, when I was still studying in the university, I took part in a cultural exchange programme that brought me to several tertiary institutions in Thailand, travelling from Bangkok to Chiangmai. Later, I visited Thailand a few more times. We also visited Cambodia and published a book named after its ancient name Chân Lp. And we published two more books on Vietnam after visiting this country. We just kept missing Laos due to some reasons. However, we had never forgotten about Laos which seemed to be lingering in our minds all this while. As time went by, our longing for Laos became stronger. When we set our foot in the golden triangle in the North Thailand, we were calling Luang Prabang quietly in our hearts.  
    In 2016, we visited Sikkhim of India. Dharma Sister Mei won herself two free tickets to Laos in a lucky draw because she paid for our expenses using her credit card. Her free tickets ended up creating an opportunity for us to finally visit Laos, thus establishing a spiritual connection between us and her land and people.  
    In August 2016, we flew to Laos. Murakami only stayed in Luang Prabang when he visited Laos. However, we travelled all the way from Luang Prabang, to Xiangkhouang, Vang Vieng and finally returning to Vieng Chan. Throughout the journey, we came across many temples and Laos people, fostering a spiritual bond with them quietly.
    Sert was our local tour guide. He became a novice monk at the age of eight because his family was poor (and the monasteries offered him a good education). He spoke fluent English. Due to our strong spiritual connection, Sert brought his wife and his two kids to the hotel where we stayed to ask for my blessing on the last day. When we were in Luang Prabang, we went to a massage parlor to relax ourselves. Sert recommended a Lotus Spa Centre, where we discovered a few pictures of White Tara hanging on the walls, which was indeed a very strange phenomenon in a country that practised mainly Teravada Buddhism. None of the workers in the shop could tell who was the deity in the picture. Sert guessed that the deity in the picture might be Mother Mary of Christianity; Laos people only recognized Sakyamuni Buddha of Teravada Buddhism. I was amused by our interesting discovery. I asked the rest, Did I not chant the heart mantra of White Tara when we were cruising the Meikong River just the other day? Did White Tara not descend and help in delivering the souls in the Bawo Cave of One Thousand Buddhas?
During our flying journeys between Singapore and Vieng Chan, we witnessed a huge sun halo and many rainbows appearing in the sky when we looked out the windows. Those were signs that we were in the company of the Vajra Protectors at all times.
Murakami merely brought back his memories of a few places of Laos at the end of his tour. He said that he could still remember the smell, sounds and touch of such places. And there were special auras, breezes and voices of someone in those places which still lingered in his mind. The resonance within his heart is something which a picture can never offer.
What did we bring back from Laos then? Was it the strong love of White Tara? It was indeed an extra-ordinary tour made possible by a group of globetrotters and White Tara.
Acho Rinpoche
 Meikong River

 Bawo Cave of One Thousand Buddhas

 The mystical Plain of Jars
 Padi Fields
 The National Emblem of Laous - The Stupa
A rainbow appeared beneath our airplane