Thursday, September 3, 2009

X-Tour: Tibetan Highland in Sichuan, China. '2009

End 2008, during our tour in New Zealand, Celestial Master Zhang personally descended in New Zealand, extending His invitation to us to visit Sichuan, asking me to bless the pitiful sentient beings there and free them from their collective karma. On 12 May 2008, Sichuan experienced a disastrous earth quake – Wen Chuan Earth Quake (8 richter scale).

Early 2009, the relationship between Beijing and H.H Dalai Lama has degraded further. When my enthronement ceremony at Horthan Monastery in Qinghai looked set to be delayed further, Danzen Daji Rinpoche from the Gelong Monastery in Shiqu, Sichuan, invited me to the opening ceremony of his newly restored monastery. So, again, 22 of us set off for the tour in a hurry. From 17 to 29 Jul 2009, we created a new chapter in our X-traordinary Tours by visiting the Tibetan Highland of Sichuan/Qinghai.

When we were planning the tour with our friend in Chengdu, Zen (our tour guide of our Chengdu Tour in 2006), a Dharma Sister of ours, who was an epidemic specialist from our neighboring country, sent us an email advising us to cancel our plan. Reason being, the world was facing a H1N1 pandemic. People worldwide was worried and felt lost. Kan asked me for my opinion. I told her, every X-traordinary Tour was full of challenges but they were all finally resolved through the blessings of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and the Dharma Protectors.

Zhou, a Dharma Sister from Shandong, China, decided to join us in the last minute. She had to take a different flight, Air China, as our flight, SilkAir, was already fully booked. She arrived in Chengdu 12 hours before we did.

When our flight was approaching Chengdu, I took my rosary out and started praying to Grand Master, the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, invoking their blessing for Chengdu. At the time, Dharma Brother Hong from Australia who was on the same flight, ‘saw’ Jade Pond Golden Mother and Acho Rinpoche descended from space, blessing Sichuan by showering the rain of nectar, cleansing Sichuan. They were surrounded by many female deities who were showering flowers around them. Later, our flight pierced through the layers of rain clouds, finally landing safely at the Chengdu Airport.

When I just stepped out of the airport, I felt the cool and refreshing air outdoors after the rain, gently caressing my face. Zhou came to the airport to meet us. She told me that she just found out that Chengdu had already suffered from draught for several months, with a high temperature of 32ºC. It was hot and humid. However, just 2 hours ago, there was suddenly a heavy downpour which lowered the temperature to 22ºC. It happened just like other X-traordinary Tours - the weather would just change unexpectedly. This time, Zhou had her first hand experience in witnessing a sudden change of weather. She had earlier changed to a pair of shorts before coming to the airport in view of the hot weather.

So, the 22 of us ended up walking pass Mount Qing Chen, Dan Ba Stone Houses, Jia Ju Tibetan Villages, Natural Garden, Dao Fu Residential Houses, Unishya White Stupa, Mani Piles, Vast Grassland, Origin of Yellow River, Sacred Qing Hai Lake, Taer Monastery etc. The whole journey spanned over 2,000 km in distance. We also stayed at high altitude in the Highland City of Shi Qu, at 4,200m above sea level, and crossing over a 4,824m point above sea level at Mount Ba Ye Ge La. This time, high altitude syndromes such as panting, headache, vomiting, diarrhea, fever etc became one of the main themes of our tour.

The most unbelievable story happened on Dharma Sister Bing. She was the last to join due to some earlier work commitment issues. And our itinerary kept changing all the time. When our coach finally entered Xie Wu, a town in Qing Hai Province, we stopped by a small restaurant for lunch. Bing came forward and asked me if she lived here in her past life because every street and house in the town looked so familiar to her! Although she had never set foot in Qinghai, this place kept appearing in her dreams. Although the house had been renovated, it remained vivid in her memory. With my blessing, she found her great grandson from her past life, Sonam Lama, a Buddhist monk of the Sakya. The touching moments of a reunion crossing over two different lifetimes could only be truly felt and understood by the individuals involved. Bing knew that the reunion was being arranged by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, or she would not have such paranormal experience. “Although I had never set foot in Qinghai, Qinghai came to me in my dream every night… This was my most favorite song entitled Dreaming of Qinghai Every Night. The lyrics of this song kept ringing in my mind…..

The most interesting character of this tour was A Peng. He was my school mate in my secondary school. We reunited sometime back at our alumni. He came to know about our plan for the tour and he wanted to join us. In Tian Quan, there was a landslide blocking our road ahead. So, we decided to just stop somewhere nearby for our dinner, while waiting for the road to be cleared. We took pictures around the area and caught the images of the amazing round lights filling the sky on our cameras - the Mandala Lights. At first, A Peng did not manage to capture those lights with his expensive camera when others did. He was very curious about such a phenomenon. Later he told me, “Don’t be superstitious! Those are just reflections from the dusts in the sky.” I only smiled to him and continued to walk into the small restaurant nearby. Strangely, the “dusts” miraculously disappeared after I stepped into the restaurant. A Peng asked me to go out of the shop for photo taking again. This time, the “dusts” reappeared. So, the “dusts” seemed to be spiritual. The “dusts” seemed to be surrounding me during the whole photo taking session. After studying it for a long time, A Peng finally came to me and said, “A Leng, I’m sorry! I think those are not dusts but an unbelievable paranormal phenomenon.” At a later stage when we reached the Dzogchen Monastery, one of the six main monasteries of the Nyingma, A Peng captured more of such Mandala Lights with his camera. He finally firmly believed that those are not “dusts”. Another Dharma Brother Jin even captured the Mandala Lights in motion in Ganzhi Town, in broad daylight.

Jin also joined us for the first time. He was a disciple of Venerable Jing Kong. He read a few of our books on X-traordinary Tours but was doubtful about the stories. He had been to Tibet, Qinghai Lake, Taer Monastery, the Silk Road, the Vast Grassland in the past. But he found those places too commercialized and was losing his interest in travelling. However, this time, he found this tour truly memorable. He shared his feelings with many people after the tour, “This tour was truly unusual! Every thing that I saw, heard and felt during the tour will change the rest of my life!” Besides, he also saw the changes in A Peng, Zen and Ben - changes in their outlook of life and finding their long lost childhood innocence.

Ben was the assistant to Zen. He was not very close to us at the beginning of the tour but we became closer each day. Soon after, he even started sharing our books on the Paranormal Tours with almost everyone he met during the tour. Due to his good efforts, a female waitress at a restaurant where we had our lunch near Qinghai Lake came to me for blessing; and Shi, our tour guide at Taer Monastery, came to me for blessing by asking me to touch her head.

How unusual was it? How inconceivable was it? How did one change from a non-believer to a strong believer? How did one change spiritually and physically? It was the blessing of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and the Dharma Protectors. It had nothing to do with Acho! May I ask you, the x-traorinary readers, to join us, a group of True Buddha practitioners, for this X-traordinary Tour of Tibetan Highland in Sichuan!

Lotu Robe (Acho)
6 Aug 2009

More pictures:

Wednesday, September 2, 2009

Garbage Truck (垃圾卡车)

H shared a story with the rest:
A car suddenly came from nowhere, nearly clashing with a taxi on the road. The driver of the car did not apologize to the taxi driver, instead he scolded the latter. But the taxi driver merely gave a friendly smile and waved to the car driver. The passenger in the taxi questioned the driver, “The car driver was at fault. Why did you treat him that way?” The taxi driver answered, “ Beware of garbage truck! A garbage truck refers to a person who is overwhelmed by his negative emotions, who is ready to throw them onto others. If you quarrel with him, you will end up being another garbage truck.”

Acho Rinpoche:

None of us wants to be a garbage truck. However, our true nature was obscured by lust, hatred and ignorance during our many rounds of re-incarnations in our past life.

In Grand Master’s book entitled “A Transcendental Book” (通天之书), he mentioned that he went to hell one day and the Hell Lord showed him a few doors. Through one of the doors, he saw the remaining 15 Large Lotuses out of the original 18. 3 of them already withered. For the 3 Large Lotus Bodhisattvas lost their way in the secular world, fallen prey to the worldly temptations and ended up in hell.

From this story in the book, we could tell that even for the Bodhisattvas who were suppose to come save the sentient beings, they could end up being defiled by the latter instead. They ended up collecting the emotional garbage, and finally fell. They might not have realized their falling, although it was clear to the those around them. When a person collected too much emotional garbage, it will become noticeable to others around him. But the person himself will not notice his own problem because he would always think that he was right and tend to be defensive; he will not accept any advice from others.

When you have collected too much emotional garbage, your behavior will become weird and noticeable to others. How do you tell if you have collected too much emotional garbage? When you become unhappy, dissatisfied, argumental and always insist on your own points of view, those are signs of falling. But you will never notice it! So, a practitioner must learn to be humble.

Grand Master also mentioned in his book that many people thought that they did very well in their cultivation and achieved good spiritual responses, but they had actually ended up enlarging their ego and stop listening to the advice of others. Grand Master said such people did not achieve a true spiritual response, although they too claimed to be able to dream of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas and even see them while awake. Unfortunately, they have actually fallen due to their lack of humility.

A practitioner must be humble and never think high of himself. It will be easier for him to pass the tests with such mentality. There are just too many temptations in the world today. I wish that you would practice well and surpass the realm of evil - finally savoring the fruits of enlightenment.

Zen Buddhism (禅)

Has anyone of you attained enlightenment after reading Grand Master’s new book entitled “The Secrets of a Flower-holding Hand”? Many tend to think too highly of Zen. Actually it is not as profound as you thought. Grand Master has been trying to tell you in words repeatedly that it is, in fact, very easy. Zen is about breaking free from your conceptual mind. When you mention “existence”, it will say otherwise - “emptiness”. When you break free from your conceptual mind, you will then be able to recognize your true existence. However, it must be handled with care in order to avoid falling into the wrong side of nihilism.

Zen is not nihilism. If you fall into the pitfall of nihilism, you will tend to even eliminate the law of cause and effect. So, when you read Grand Master’s writings on Zen, you should avoid falling into the pitfall of nihilism. When you thought that there was no Buddha, no man, no you, no me, no cause and effect... then you would have been mistaken that you could commit any bad karma. When you thought that there was no you, no me, no cause and effect, you would have been mistaken that you could rob and steal from others and there would be no consequences. So, one must be very careful when learning Zen, for one could easily fall into the pitfall of nihilism. Zen wants you to break free from your conceptual mind. However, when you completely break free from your conceptual mind, it is not done yet. Next, you must develop your sense of bodhicitta.

Grand Master has, in fact, already revealed the true identity of Zen. So, do not think too complicated. However, many were confused by the Zen parables. Actually, you can ignore all the Zen parables. The Zen patriarchs seemed to be contradicting themselves from time to time, but actually they were just trying to tell you one point – break free from your conceptual mind. When you cling on to the notion of “existence”, they would mention the notion of “emptiness”, and they would further eliminate the notion of “emptiness”. When you break free from your conceptual mind, you will then be able to recognize your true existence (pristine awareness).
Read the Zen parables carefully. Do not end up falling into nihilism. Handle it carefully and do not end up being a nihilist. The biggest challenge with Zen is that it lacks the stages of the path. As there is no clear stage of the path, one will feel lost and do not know where to start. Similarly, Grand Master said, his True Buddha Zen does not have a traceable path.

I am of the opinion that a practice with the stages of the path clearly laid out is safer. The “Eight Stanzas of Mind Training” is still the key practice. You should start with the “Eight Stanzas of Mind Training” instead. If you do it wrongly with Zen, you will fall into “lip-serviced Zen”, “crazy Zen”, “nihilistic Zen” which are far from the true enlightenment.

Some Zen masters like to resort to actions like knocking on the floor, pointing a finger at the sky etc to help the students understand the teachings. However, they may still be plagued by anxieties when faced with the many challenges in life. The wisdom of Zen is indeed inconceivable. However, as it lacks the stages of the path, it will be difficult for one to learn the practice in a structured way. So, the “Eight Stanzas of Mind Training” is therefore a more important and safer practice.

Practice (修行)

Mind-training is a key practice. According to the “Eight Verses of Mind Training” which I often referred to, we should reflect on our own shortcomings but not those of others. When you reflect on the shortcomings of others, you will never succeed in your practice. The more you reflect on the shortcomings of others, the more shortcomings you will see in others. If you reflect on the shortcomings of your teacher and if he happens to be an enlightened master, the more you criticize him, the faster you will fall. So, do not criticize others of their shortcomings. It is most crucial to reflect on our own shortcomings, which is the only way to succeed in your practice.

Reflect on the merits of others but reflect on the shortcomings of our own. A teacher nearest to us is always right! Do not look too far away because you might think that a teacher far away seems better, but you have no opportunity to follow him closely. Assuming you have the opportunity to follow another teacher closely, you will still continue to find faults in that teacher. Do not look afar, just look at our own shortcomings.

Mind-training is the most important practice. When you have accomplished your mind training, you will see amber in a stone. Asanga went into a 12-year retreat, longing to meet Bodhisattva Maitreya one day. Finally, when he came across a sick dog with half its body infested by maggots, he felt strongly for the poor dog and decided to help remove the maggots by licking them away without hurting them too. The very moment he fully developed his great sense of compassion, Bodhisattva Maitreya appeared before his eyes. Upon seeing Bodhisattva Maitreya, Asanga was so touched that he cried.

He asked Bodhisattva Maitreya why had He not appeared before him in the past during his long retreat. Bodhisattva Maitreya said, “It was not true that I did not appear before you. But it was your own lust, hatred and ignorance that blinded your vision. I had always been around you without you knowing. When you have fully developed your sense of compassion, you can see me. This story tells us the importance of mind-training.