Sunday, June 24, 2018

X-Tour: In Search of the Birthplace of Holy Mother Mazu

Preface

This tour came about because of two individuals – our 17 year-old Dharma Brother Jun Xing and 69 year-old Mdm Lin.   It has a wonderful significance beyond words.
Actually, I met Holy Mother Mazu in my dreams very often since I started my spiritual practice more than 30 years ago. I knew that while I am a practitioner of Vajrayan Buddhism, I have a great spiritual affinity with Mazu of Taosim too. 
I asked Jun Xing when he would be free to join us for a tour this year, over a Chinese Lunar New Year dinner one day. He told me that he could only make it on 11 Jun 2018, during his school holiday. Although Dharma Sister Kan suggested Mtn Wutai as one of the possible places of visit, I told her to contact Mdm Lin of Golden Travel to plan a tour in search of the birthplace of Mazu instead. I kind of remember that Xiamen of Fujian Province was a second home to Mdm Lin, and our trip to Meizhou Island would have some special connection with her too.  Mdm Lin greeted Mazu as her “Great Grand Aunt” when we visited the main seat of Mazu in Meizhou Island, as they were both the descendants of the same Lim Family Tree.
Thus, 40 Dzogchen practitioners rode on an iron bird (airplane) and headed for Xiamen on 11 Jun 2018, touring Xiamen, Quanzhou, Meizhou Island, Wuyi Mountain, Yongding and Anxi of China, creating yet another new chapter of X-Tour.
2 days prior to our trip, US President Donald Trump and the Supreme Leader of North Korea Kim Jong-un came to Singapore, ready to meet each other over a US and North Korea Summit attracting a world-wide attention. When the meeting was being held in the Sentosa Island of Singapore, our group was offering incense at the Mazu Temple in Meizhou Island of Fujian Province in China; there was a very inconceivable relation between the two concurrent events. Secret. Secret. Secret. 
Mr Ke Zheng Hua, the Director General of International Exchange Center of China from Beijing and Mr Meng Jian Huang, a professor from Putian University who specialized in the study of Mazuism, accompanied us on our visits to the main seat of Mazu in Meizhou Island and Xianliang Harbor. We had an enigmatic experience at the Mazu Temple in Xianliang Harbor.
We took a high-speed train from Quanzhou to Wuyi Mountain which took only about 3 hours. China’s high-speed train has indeed become a technology icon admired by the world over. We saw a few ancient tea trees dating back more than 600 years ago which are famous for its scarcity and exorbitant price – Da Hong Pao (Big Red Gown). In 2005, tea leaves harvested from these few ancient tea trees were sold at RMB 5 million per catty. It was indeed astonishing! Wuyi Mountain was famous for its bamboo rafting along its scenic Jiu Qu River. However, a few members of our group were complaining about feeling drowsy or headache during the river cruise, when the sky was fully covered by clouds and there was a cooling breeze. Why so? Actually, there was an ancient cemetery above the river, with coffins hanging high on the cliffs that are clearly visible to us while cruising along the river. This ancient cemetery dated back to 3,850 years ago. Spiritual beings were emerging from the river, as they came forward to seek blessing for soul deliverance!  
On the 5th day, we returned to Xiamen and visited the Chen Jia Geng Museum and his former residential house. We applauded his generosity in helping to develop the educational systems in both Xiamen and Singapore in the past (he was a Chinese citizen who made his fortune in Singapore). When we visited Gulang Island, it reminded us of our own Sentosa Island in Singapore. More than 20 years ago, a friend of mine who was a teacher cum grassroot leader told me that he was considering migrating to Gulang Island after his retirement. He told me that almost every household in Gulang Island owned a piano. That story somehow became ingrained in my mind ever since and I felt a little fondness towards this island with no obvious reason. However, such retirement plan can no longer be materialized today because this island has been transformed into a tourist spot with private cars disallowed on the island. All visitors could only walk on their feet on the island when visiting the Shu Zhuang Garden and Piano Museum. Ha ha!
In the afternoon, we had a vegetarian lunch at the South Putuo Temple. It was famous for its vegetarian cuisine which was touted as “the best in the world”. The dishes were indeed very refined and inviting that we could hardly stop eating. Later, we circumambulated two stupas in the temple commemorating two former abbots. There were many pictures taken during this time showing beautiful auras. When we returned to the Puzhao Building where we had our lunch, we just stood outside the building and chatted.  At this juncture, I could feel the presence of Buddha Lights showering the whole area. So, I told our members to quickly snap pictures of the surrounding, in order to capture the special auras. Indeed, the special auras were captured on both pictures and videos by a few members. The auras appeared in many shapes and forms, including a very clear shape of Buddha Eye. It was just mesmerizing! It was indeed the magical play of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas.
On the 7th day, we visited the Mud House of Yong Ding. The design of these mud houses had incorporated the elements of the Eight Trigrams which were based on the ancient wisdoms of our ancestors. It was indeed an eye-opening experience.
On the 8th day, we visited the Supreme Master Qingshui Temple in Anxi. When our coach was gradually entering the hilly roads, we noticed that that entire area was engulfed by a thick fog. We travelled amidst the fog for about one hour before finally reaching the temple site. Even the temple was engulfed by a thick fog. Mdm Lin came to this place many times in the past but she said it was the first time that she saw a thick fog engulfing the entire place. Actually, we had entered another space parallel with the physical world, while paying our respect to the Supreme Master Qingshui. When we passed by a sacred spring, I blessed the spring water. Rain started falling at this very moment too, likened to the showering of celestial flowers. Today was the 5th day of the 5th Lunar Month, any rainfall on this particular day is naturally charged by the great cosmic energy and carries great blessing power. Our group and all other people who were present at the time were greatly blessed by the rainfall. At this moment, the main temple right opposite the sacred spring quietly re-appeared from the thick fog, revealing half of its face…
Yet, there was an even greater surprise that happened at this juncture when I was using the sacred spring water to bless our group and when the rain was falling from the sky, that Jun Xing came near me and told me that he wished to take refuge in me. I asked him, “Have you not already taken refuge in me?” He said: “Not yet.” He said he heard someone telling him that if he wants to “return home” (to the Buddha’s Pureland), he must take refuge in me. He said: “Today will be our last day in Xiamen, so I wish to take refuge in you.” Coincidentally, Mdm Lin was standing just beside me and she heard the conversation between me and Jun Xing. She had been thinking very hard about whether she should take refuge in me for quite a while. When she heard the words of Jun Xing, she immediately told me that she also wished to take refuge in me tonight. Finally, Jun Xing, Mdm Lin, Yang Qian (sister of Yang Meng), Hui Yan took refuge in me tonight. Including the mother of Song Tao who took refuge in me the night before, there were 5 new students entering the practice of Dzogchen (The Great Perfection) during this trip. Sadhu! Sadhu!
On the 9th day, we wrapped up this X-Tour and rode on an iron bird, returning from Xiamen to Singapore. Another pleasant surprise awaited us during this flight, with the Dharma Protectors displaying yet another extremely fascinating magical play! There was a rainbow arch appearing on the left side of our plane, our airplane appeared to be encircled by a rainbow light as reflected on the clouds, and a huge sun halo appeared on the right side of the airplane, with numerous luminous dots appearing around the sun that looked like meteorite showers.
Thus, this X-Tour wrapped up timely amidst the colorful display of rainbow lights. My homage to the Sun Moon Light Buddha.

Acho Rinpoche
21-6-2018
Mud House of Yongding
High Speed Train
Mazu Temple at Xianliang Harbour
Mazu
Mazu Temple at Xianliang Harbour
an Impromptu Mazuism Conference held at Xianliang Harbour
Cruising Jiuqu River on a Bamboo Raft
South Putuo Temple





Buddha Lights captured on video at South Putuo Temple

Rainbow Lights captured on video on our flight returning from Xiamen to Singapore
Sun Halo appeared in the sky during our flight returning from Xiamen to Singapore

Saturday, May 19, 2018

One Hundred Deity Soul Deliverance and Naga Vase Puja in Penang, Malaysia







On 4 May 2018, a group of thirty plus of us followed Acho Rinpoche on a tour to Penang of Malaysia, as he was to co-host a public prayer with H.E Konde Rinpoche on a Hundred Deity Soul Deliverance and Naga Vase Puja which was to be held at the State Chinese (Penang Association) at 13 Jalan Perak 10150 Pulau Pinang. It was coincidental that the 14th General Election of Malaysia was underway during this period that we witnessed the many posters and flags decorating almost every corner of the streets in Penang. 
On 5 May 2018, the prayer started at 10am with One Hundred Deity Soul Deliverance Prayer, followed by the ceremony of bathing a statue of Dragon King with milk mixed with medical herbs. After lunch, we left the prayer venue and headed for the beach. We would offer all the naga vases filled with precious medical herbs by dumping them into the sea, as the blessing power of the Buddha and the herbs within the vases could help eradicate the negative karma and sickness of the sea beings. During the process of bathing the statue of Dragon King, Dharma Sister Bing suddenly did three long prostrations before Acho Rinpoche; she explained to the rest that she had a vision of Acho Rinpoche transforming into the Dragon King Buddha at that juncture and the rest of the dragon family also came forward and prostrated to him. So, she felt that she was actually representing the dragon family in doing the prostrations, as a gesture of appreciation to Acho Rinpoche for his compassion and blessing. After that, Acho Rinpoche blessed all the registration forms submitted by the participants before burning. Dharma Brother Shao contributed a “dragon boat” this time, as he got a hint from a Dragon King while in Singapore, suggesting that he should make a “dragon boat” from joss papers (origami) and offered it to the dragon family. The “dragon boat”, after being blessed by Acho Rinpoche, could help deliver the numerous dragons to a higher realm of existence, either being reborn into a Buddha Land or as human practitioners, or even attain the state of Buddhahood! However, we witnessed that the “dragon boat” took a long time to burn. Acho Rinpoche later explained the reason why it took so long for it to be totally burnt as it signifies the heavy negative karma associated with these dragon beings, that it would take lots of blessing power to help them eradicate their negative karma and leave the realm of dragon, for a higher rebirth.
When we left the State Chinese premises after the completion of the One Hundred Deity Soul Deliverance Prayer, we saw a sun halo appearing in the sky, which signified the perfect closure of the prayer which was hailed by the numerous holy beings in the spiritual realm. We took a bus to the beach which had all its windows shut and no air-conditioning – we felt suffocated and sick during the bus journey. Later, Acho Rinpoche explained that it signified the hardship endured by the numerous sentient beings stranded in their current state of suffering; they would not be able to break free of their current state of suffering due to their negative karma, unless they are blessed by the Buddha. When we reached the beach, we saw some clouds in the sky appearing in the form of “dragon boat”, dragon king, dragon pearl etc. It was indeed truly amazing and unbelievable!  Acho Rinpoche was drenched twice by sea waves splashing into the boat while sailing – he knew that they signified both the welcoming gesture and appreciation expressed by the Dragon King; he felt extremely energized after being drenched by the sea water!
The whole event came to a perfect closure by late noon.

Afternote: Malaysia had a change of government on the 9th of May 2018, after the 14th General Election, with Pakatan Harapan replacing the Barison National after the latter ruled Malaysia for a long 61 years. The Malaysian citizens had their wish fulfilled – a new Malaysia was born and her people could bid farewell to the former corrupted government. We prayed to the Sun Moon Light Buddha for the prosperity of Malaysia and the happiness of her people; may the Buddha’s teachings spread far and wide and may kindness blossoms in the hearts of her people.  

Reported by Sun Moon KFS on 5-May-2018 in Penang, Malaysia.

Sunday, April 1, 2018

Five Practices of a Student

          Tonight, we did a prayer on “Seven Northern Constellations Longevity Sutra”. This is an annual prayer done around every Chinese New Year. Dharma Sister Bai from Hangzhou of China joined us in this prayer, as she was visiting Singapore during this period too, paying homage to Acho Rinpoche.
          Acho Rinpoche told us that spiritual practice is the only way to help us break free of the cyclic existence and the numerous sufferings associated with it. When a person has attained a true state of liberation, he could accomplish a task by simply putting a thought to it. So, we must follow the teachings of Acho Rinpoche fully by applying them in our daily lives -  dedicate our free time to doing spiritual practice or sadhana, and nothing else. When we have accomplished our spiritual practice, we should then aspire to help all sentient beings. We must let go of all our worldly desires, for even a single desire can become an obstacle in our path to liberation.
          Next, Acho Rinpoche continued to expound the Lotus Sutra. He said that there is no man who could truly comprehend the truth and hidden meaning expounded by Sakyamuni Buddha in the Lotus Sutra. However, we should just persevere in our recitation of this sutra and one day, we will attain the true state of being expounded by the Buddha too. He also mentioned the Five Practices of a Student accomplished and transmitted by Master Zhi Zhe of Tian Tai Sect (天台宗智者大师538-597).
1st Practice: Rejoice at the good deed of others. We should rejoice at the good deed of others, regardless of whether they are done by a person you like or dislike.
2nd Practice: Recitation of Lotus Sutra. Do not worry that we are unable to comprehend the meaning of the sutra at this stage. We should just read it daily and persevere in doing so; time will tell.
3rd Practice: Sharing of Lotus Sutra and its conceivable merits with others.
4th Practice: Simultaneous practice of the Six Perfections. While we continue to watch our minds (mental activities) for a greater self-awareness, we should also practise the Six Perfections (offering, tolerance, discipline, diligence, meditation, wisdom). Among the six perfections, one must first practise “offering”, as it can help eradicate the stinginess and the sense of ego (self-attachment) in us.
5th Practice: Applying the Six Perfections in our conduct. When we have accomplished mind-watching and the Six Perfections in both teaching and practice, we should help all sentient beings in the universe, thus truly applying the Six Perfections in our daily conduct.
When one has accomplished the Five Practices of a Student, he is considered a true Buddhist; otherwise, he has merely established a good karmic connection with the Buddha. Acho Rinpoche encouraged us to apply the teachings he shared with us tonight with full faith, as it will guarantee a success in our spiritual practice. He also mentioned that Dharma Sister Mei recently found a copy of Lotus Sutra in English translation at her home, after having it for so many years without realizing it. Some of us have also kept a copy of the Sang Gyay Say Chig Gyu (契吉大圆满子续) for ten years at our homes without realizing it. So, when the time is ripe, a hint will come from the holy beings, reminding us of the treasure in our silent possession. Lastly, Acho Rinpoche advised us to copy and read the Lotus Sutra diligently because this sutra is a compilation of the inconceivable true state of being attained by Sakyamuni Buddha.  
Finally, we ended our prayer by reciting the names of the Buddhas under the guidance of Acho Rinpoche and dedicated all merits to Hualian of Taiwan which was hit by a major earth quake – may the damage be reduced to minimal and may all sentient beings be happy, free of sufferings.

Reported by Sun Moon KFS on 14-2-2018 @Singapore

Lotus Sutra and “We are actually a Buddha”

          Today was the day when Sakyamuni Buddha passed into nirvana. It was also the day when the Most Supreme Elder was born on this earth. We did a Sakyamuni Buddha Practice tonight under the guidance of Acho Rinpoche. He wished us to rejoice in the practice of the Buddhadharma and remain firmed in our spiritual endeavor.
He mentioned Sun Da Rinpoche, who is one of the grand children of the 2nd H.H Dodjum Rinpoche. Sun Da Rinpoche grew up in China and studied under the guidance of his uncle who is also a Buddhist master. H.H Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche recognized Sun Da Rinpoche as a re-incarnation of an accomplished Dzogchen master. Phuntsok Lama introduced Acho Rinpoche to Sunda Rinpoche earlier and the latter contacted Acho Rinpoche through WeChat recently. Sun Da Rinpoche suggested a meet up with Acho Rinpoche when the former visits Singapore in the near future.
Next, Acho Rinpoche continued to expound the Lotus Sutra. He advised us to frequently recite the title of the Lotus Sutra and a verse praising Avalokitesvara, as expounded in the Lotus Sutra. He did that during his walking meditation too. He further advised us to spend more time and energy on studying the sutras but do less on frivolous chats.
          He cited a parable in the Lotus Sutra entitled “A Hidden Gem”, in which it was said that the five hundred Arahat students being prophesized by Sakyamuni Buddha of their future attainment of Buddhahood finally knelt before the Buddha and repented their complacency of spiritual attainment, as they mistook their achievement as a completion when it was actually only half-done. A parallel was drawn from a parable about a man who became drunk after attending a party at his relative’s house. His relative hid a piece of precious gem in his shirt worrying that he might lose it in a state of drunkenness. It was meant to help him pay for his traveling expenses when making his way home. He was unaware of the hidden gem in his shirt and begged his way home instead. After reaching home and being told by his relative of the hidden gem, then only he realized what he missed. This parable gives a very clear hint on the expedient method employed by Sakyamuni Buddha in teaching his students. He had to help his students attain the state of Arahat first, although it is not a state of ultimate enlightenment, for he was waiting patiently for them to reach a certain level of spiritual maturity before he could tell them the ultimate teaching on the attainment of Buddhahood. As all sentient beings possess the most precious Buddha Nature in us, we have the potential of attaining the ultimate state of Buddhahood.  The Arahat students must be told of the fact that they are essentially a Buddha (for one to recognize his Buddha Nature), so that they would move towards achieving the goal of attaining the ultimate enlightenment of a Buddha. Without letting them know the truth of their Buddha Nature, they will never realize their real potential and they will not become a true Buddha.
Acho Rinpoche repeated another parable about “A Poor Son”. A rich man’s son lost his way home since young and became a beggar for many years. One day, he passed by his father’s home again and was being recognized by his father as his long-lost son. However, the poor son was so used to his life as a beggar that he had already became a man with very low self-esteem, who would not be able to accept the fact that he was, in fact, so rich! So, the father hid the truth from his son for the time being and just hired the latter to be his worker who were assigned very simple chores including cleaning the human waste daily. Meanwhile, the father quietly trained him up on the various skills over time. Finally, when the son was ready, the father revealed the truth and handed over his wealth to his son. You see, it has to be a very lengthy training process, as we are unable to attain the state of Buddhahood even when we are told of our real potential of a Buddha. We must go through a long period of spiritual practice, cleanse our negative propensities including lust, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, suspicion etc., accumulated through our numerous lifetimes. Only when all our negative propensities are completely cleansed and purified, we would attain the state of perfection – Buddahood! 
The Lotus Sutra aims to tell us that we are essentially a Buddha, and if we practise properly we will attain the state of Buddhahood one day. A student who was prophesized by the Buddha of his attainment of Buddhahood in future does not guarantee an instantaneous enlightenment of a Buddha, for the student must continue to work hard on his spiritual practice daily; it is liken to the poor son who must clean up the human waste daily. We have developed numerous negative propensities during our numerous lifetimes out of ignorance. So, we must sincerely repent our mistakes and make amends, eradicate our negative karma (effects of our past actions) and stop creating new ones – this is the only way that we could become a true Buddha. So what if we know that we are essentially a Buddha but continue to make mistakes? We will then just continue to be stranded in the cyclic existence of the Six Realms full of sufferings. Therefore, Acho Rinpoche re-iterated that we must continue to practise the teachings of precepts, meditation and wisdom seriously, and accomplish the training of “Five Practices of a Student” (see sharing on 14-2-2018). Only when we have fully accomplished the said practices, we will become a true Buddha. If we fail to do so, we will simply continue our life as a poor son who will continue begging and to be stranded in the Six Realms of Existence (god, human, demi-god, animal, hell being and hungry ghost).
Finally, we ended our prayer by reciting the names of the Buddhas under the guidance of Acho Rinpoche and dedicated all merits to the sentient beings - may all sentient beings be happy, free of sufferings and attain enlightenment swiftly. 
 
Reported by Sun Moon KFS on 31-3-2018 @Singapore

Friday, March 30, 2018

The Passing of Jigme Khenpo

Acho Rincpohe (left) and the late Jigme Khenpo (right)

Tonight, we did our annual prayer to the Year God at the beginning of a Chinese New Year under the guidance of Acho Rinpoche. After which, Acho Rinpoche explained that there is no such practice in Buddhism including the Vajrayana; he allowed such practice among us simply because it is part of our Chinese tradition. Next, he mentioned that he just attended the annual Singapore Chingay Parade last night. This was a mega project done by Dharma Brother Nah for many years as part of his job, and his last before his retirement. Dharma Sister Zhen told us that the sky was clear during the presence of Acho Rinpoche at the parade but soon after he left, the rain started to fall.
Acho Rinpoche informed us that Jigme Khenpo of Nyingma Dzogchen has just passed away. Dharma Sister Xiu shared with us a recent dream of hers, in which she saw Acho Rinpoche transmitting a Mahā-pratisāraḥ Practice. She also dreamt of Grand Master appearing at her home, telling her that he was looking for Acho Rinpoche. Acho Rinpoche said, “I have nothing.” He advised that others should not just blame XX for the huge problem created today, as XX is just a collective karma created by the group. It will be more important for one to focus on resolving the problem than being too personal about it. 
Dharma Brother Shao shared with us that when he was dedicating the merit of his practice to the late Jigme Khenpo before the latter passed away, he had a vision of Jigme Khenpo lying in his sick bed. However, the body of Jigme Khenpo appeared in golden color and was seated in a meditation posture, with many emanation bodies of Acho Rinpoche appearing around and protecting him. Shao also told us that he had a vision of Jigme Khenpo and a huge stupa appearing in the spiritual space during our prayer tonight.
Acho Rinpoche told us that Jigme Khenpo had been delivered into a higher realm of existence. The latter has attained a higher level of spiritual accomplishment and aspired to assist Acho Rinpoche and Konde Rinpoche in their spiritual endeavors. Sadhu! Sadhu!
Finally, we ended our prayer by reciting the names of the Buddhas under the guidance of Acho Rinpoche and dedicated all merits to the sentient beings - may all sentient beings be happy, free of sufferings and attain enlightenment swiftly. 

Reported by Sun Moon KFS on 24-2-2018 @Singapore