Monday, March 21, 2011

Enlightenment is a Possibility (成佛是可能的)

H.H Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche was a great King of Dharma in the Nyingma, who was a highly realized and accomplished practitioner. He was also a prolific writer who wrote many books about “Bodhichitta”. “Bodhichitta” is no different from the mind-training that I often shared with you. We possess an innate Buddha Nature but most of us are unable to recognize it due to our karmic obscuration. It is liken to a piece of jade that is still covered by a layer of rock externally that you must keep polishing it until the hidden gem is revealed. However the process revelation is a very tough one. That explains why there had been many practitioners in the past but few had attained enlightenment. It is very difficult to remove that outer layer of rock. Nonetheless, you must continue to do so. If you do not move upward, you will only go downward and perpetually stranded in the cyclic existence (samsara). If you go forward with courage, you will succeed one day because we have the equal potential of attaining a full enlightenment of a Buddha.

In a nutshell, we must aspire to Bodhichitta - aiming only to benefit others and avoid being carried away by our inner sense of hatred. Guard our mind very carefully – it is important not to be carried away by our inner thoughts that appear one after another incessantly because you will not be able to turn back after going too far off. We must always be mindful that a practitioner must behave differently from one who is not. No matter what we do, we must always do so with the intent to “help others and bring happiness to others.”

Let me give you an example - a lady called me while I was away, in Taiwan. She wanted to come to my house to fix the water pipe problem. I told her to call again after I returned to Singapore - she called two days later. I told her what she needed to do with my water pipe, in just a few sentences. Before she hung up, she told me, “Gee, you are just different from others!” I asked her why? She said, “I only spoke to you briefly but I feel exhilarated! I wonder why? I just feel happy and enjoy the conversations with you. I feel happy and joyful!” Actually, she would have used the phrase “spiritual joy” had she known it.

This is the positive result of a good practice – one can bring happiness to others naturally. Of course, the premise is that you must be a happy person in the first place. If you are full of negative emotions, feeling unhappy all day, being argumentative and always want to be the one winning, you will not be able to bring happiness to others. On the contrary, you will tend to only force others into a corner. So, we must first tame our own mind, after which our inner sense of compassion will naturally manifest outward in many ways that your speech will make others feel happy, and others will feel happy by merely meeting you. At that point in time, you will be able to help the numerous sentient beings; no matter where you go, you will be able to help many sentient beings whom you meet; you will somehow look different from others and will be able to bring happiness to others. You could even reach the level of attainment where rainbows will appear in the sky wherever you go, and even animals and plants could interact with you - that is an inconceivable state of enlightenment.

It is not easy to reach that state of enlightenment. It is also not easy for us to tame our own mind. We have committed too much negative karma since time immemorial and we have inculcated very strong negative propensities in ourselves that they will take a long time to be purified. Only when our karmic obscuration has been fully eradicated, we can free ourselves from the cyclic existence. You should practice gradually and change yourselves gradually. One day, though it may not happen in the present lifetime, you will still make it in your next life, or maybe ten, one hundred, one thousand or ten thousands lifetimes later. When you finally attain enlightenment, it will be a very different situation altogether - you will then see a beautiful world around you!

We will not go the extreme ways. As the Buddha said, “Buddha Nature is an innate state of being in all sentient beings”. The Zen Patriarchs said, “I am a Buddha!” However, do not misunderstand these words and think that you are already a Buddha! It is useless to claim that you are a Buddha when you are not able to demonstrate the state of enlightenment and the true quality of a Buddha, yet. You will fail the tests in the face of adversities and end up losing your temper, transgressing the precepts, being over powered by your own lust, hatred and ignorance. So what if you know that you are essentially a Buddha when you have not truly attained the true state of enlightenment of a Buddha!

Neither should we over belittle ourselves, thinking that our karmic obscuration is too great that we will never attain the state of Buddhahood - that will just give you an excuse to continue falling. We should not go to the two extremes but should walk a middle path instead. We should have faith in in the attainment of Buddhahood eventually. Although we may not be able to make it in the present lifetime, one day we will make it! We should turn towards enlightenment, but not the opposite. We should say goodbye to our negative emotions, confrontational attitudes, dissatisfactions and the rest of the negativities. We should turn toward the positive aspect of life such as being more objective, compassionate and virtuous; one day, we will make it! We should have faith in the path to enlightenment.

A teaching given by Acho Rinpoche on 22-9-2010

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In Search of a Reincarnated Master (The Recognition of Acho Rinpoche III)

On 23 Nov 2007, we paid our respect to H.H Dudjom Rinpoche at his residence in Nepal. My mobile phone suddenly beeped, indicating a message sent from Singapore. It was from H.E Konde Rinpoche III. He asked me if I could meet him, for he had a little question for me. I replied to him that I would meet him when I returned to Singapore.

On the very night when I returned to Singapore, I went to see him at his residence, with a few fellow practitioners. He gave me a surprise! He told me that I am a reincarnation of a late Nyingma Dzogchen master – Acho Rinpoche II. So, he gave me the official recognition of “Acho Rinpoche III”.

H.E Konde Rinpoche is a Nyingma Dzogchen practitioner, whose root guru was the late Achang Dodan Rinpoche, a renowned and accomplished Dzogchen master. Konde Rinpoche was ordained as a monk since young, and he is the current abbot of the Horthang Monastery in Qinghai, China. He left China some years ago and is now residing in India, following H.E Dzogchen Rinpoche.

Konde Rinpoche told us that he had a vivid dream. In the dream, Achang Dodan Rinpoche instructed him to present a Guru Rinpoche crown to someone. When he woke up from his dream, he knew that it had a very special significance. He prayed to the Nyingma protector – Single Knot, for an advice on who should the recipient of the crown be. He must be someone with a very special karmic connection. Later, in his meditation, he had a vision of me. He knew then that I must be the owner of this crown. He consulted a few other Rinpoches, including the 70-year old Kade Rinpoche of the Horthang Monastery and his grandfather who was also an accomplished practitioner. All of them confirmed his vision.

On 1 Dec 2007, H.E Konde Rinpoche held a simple and yet solemn enthronement ceremony at my home, in recognition of my status of a reincarnated Nyingma Dzogchen master, Acho Rinopche III. In Feb 2008, H.E Dzogchen Rinpoche, the current lineage holder of the Nyingma Dzogchen, also recognized my status as a reincarnated master in the Nyingma Dzogchen lineage.

I used to have frequent dreams of my returning to Tibet. I saw a temple in which my body of previous life was being enshrined and worshipped by the believers. I also knew that I had repeatedly taken rebirths in the four major schools of Tibetan Buddhism. My karmic connection with Tibetan Buddhism is indeed very profound. However, I have not been actively searching for my past identities all these years. Names and forms are never important to me; I find actual practice and attainment far more important. Although I did not pursue the name and form, they came to me somehow. I understand that the time has come for me to help more sentient beings, for a practitioner who has aspired to bodhicitta shall bear the responsibility of performing the Buddha activities. So, I accepted the faith presented to me.

Giam Eng Leng, Lotus Robe, Acho Rinpoche, Living Buddha, are just illusory names in a dream. “Rinpoche” or ‘Living Buddha” are but an expedient method that “I” will be using in this lifetime to help the sentient beings. I am just a tiny leaf which is carried by the wind to wherever it brings me. I recalled a song that I used to sing when I was young, the lyrics of which suddenly appeared in my mind – “Although I have never been to Qinghai, it came into my dream every night. Mt Kala decorated by white clouds rises tall into the sky. The Yellow River and Yantze River seem to be originating from the sky…”

Acho Rinpoche

Monday, March 14, 2011

Japan Hit by 9.0 Magnitude Earth Quake on 11 Mar 2011

We dedicated the merit generated from our prayer tonight to the People of Japan who suffered from the major earthquake hitting Japan on 11 Mar 2011 - may Buddha bless them.

There is an increasing number of disasters occurring in the world today. Some people thought that we Singaporeans are very fortunate because Singapore is almost free of natural calamities. Although we live in a land free of major crisis, it will be meaningful if a crisis helps to engender a sense of impermanence in us.

The Japanese live in constant fear of earth quakes. In 1923, a 7.9 magnitude earth quake killed 140,000 people in Kanto, Japan. The People of Japan live in fear every day, worrying about Japan being completely flattened by earth quakes one day. In fact, the earth is rocked by tremors every second daily, but most of them went unnoticed. Major earth quakes are expected to occur once every hundred years. But in the two recent decades, major earth quakes occurred frequently, including the big tsunami hitting Indonesia (Aceh), the major earth quake hitting China (Wen Chuan), New Zealand (Christchurch), Taiwan (921) and Japan (Kobe), causing the loss of millions of lives. The People of Japan live in fear of earth quake daily; it will be great if they can turn their fear into a strong sense of impermanence which could propel them into a vigorous practice of the Dharma.

On the contrary, Singaporeans live in a land free of major disasters and tend to take things for granted. Most people do not seem to have a sense of crisis when major earth quakes hit other countries, for they seemed too remote. Some people seemed to worry more about having paid for the tours to Tokyo or Hokkaido and insisted on going on the tours. They did not seem to consider the possibility of losing their lives in an earth quake. When impermanence or a major disaster strikes, one could perish immediately regardless of whether he is a president, a prime minister or a billionaire.

I watched the news yesterday and I found the earth quake hitting Japan appeared similar to the scenes depicted in the movie "2012". The tsunami was 10 meter high and it swept away people, boats, cars, trains, houses standing in its way. Had you been there on the spot, you would have felt completely helpless and realized that mankind is just too insignificant in the face of mother-nature!

Sakyamuni Buddha said, if you simply enjoyed the materialistic wealth of your life but know nothing of the Dharma, you are simply wasting your time, your life and the resources on earth. We should turn our sense of impermanence into a motivation for practice. Practice with vigour till you reach the state of enlightenment, and you will be able to help the rest of the sentient beings. Do not just live your life as a routine, day after day, year after year, wasting your valuable time - your entire life will just pass you by in a blink of eye! Bodhisattva Shamanthabhadra gave a good analogy – we are just like a fish living in a fish tank, where the water level in the tank recedes gradually. One day, we will suddenly realize that the water in the fish tank has completely run dry and our life will soon come to an end. In fact, our death will come sooner than expected.

Two nights ago, while I was driving home from work, I suddenly felt that my neck became stiff and I could not turn my head. When I reached home, I could not alight from my car because my left leg became too stiff to move. I had to massage my leg for awhile before I could start dragging my feet home. At night, half of my body became too stiff to move. On the following day, Japan was hit by a major earth quake! Initially I thought I was having a surge in my blood pressure, but the doctor advised me that my blood pressure was actually normal. My body was very stiff and I felt very uncomfortable throughout the period. Fortunately the stiffness suddenly disappeared today; it came and went like a gust of wind! This is just impermanence!

While the news of Japan earth quake was reported widely, I got a SMS from Dharma Brother Liang. He informed me that his wife fell on her way to a hospital for a check up. Her elbow was dislocated and her bone was fractured. She is now being hospitalized. Like I said, anything can happen at any moment. Impermanence is staring at us right in our face! Please practice your mind-training and do not succumb to your hatred, lust and ignorance – do not be deceived by your own thoughts. The fall can be fatal! I had survived several falls, thanks to the blessing of the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and Dharma Protectors. One day, I went to a hawker centre for my breakfast. Someone dropped his bowl of noodles on the floor. I stepped on the spillage and slipped. I was flung a few feet away from the spot and landed with my back on the floor. Fortunately I survived the accident unscathed. Some people could end up with broken limbs after a fall. We had a Dharma Sister who fell in Malaysia in the past and needed to rest at home for the next one year. Some even died from their falls.

You should not assume that you are still young and you still have plenty of time – you will not know when you will die. You could get into your bed tonight but you may not be able to wake up the following day to put on your pair of slippers again. Do not assume that you still have plenty of time. When tsunami or earth quake strikes, there is no more time left. Do not waste your time on frivolous matters or arguments. When a disaster land on you, your four elements (earth, water, fire, wind) will decompose and you will not even have time to repent. I hope all of you can turn a sense of crisis engendered by the Japan earth quake into a sense of impermanence, and practice with vigour!

The Japan earth quake is not totally unrelated to us. I was born in Japan in one of my past lives, as a Vajrayana practitioner. So, Japan is one of my homelands. My feelings for Japan and Tibet are equal. Tibet is one of my past homelands too. I was born in Tibet as a practitioner in one of my past lives. The trail of practice is non-erasable. The Japan earth quake saddens me. I felt as if my homeland is destroyed. However, this cannot be helped due to the collective karma of the sentient beings. I hope the People of Japan can rise from the devastation, and the mind of people will turn towards virtue, in order to avoid future crisis. If the mind of people continues to turn towards evil, crisis will just continue perpetually. There are still many people buried underneath the rubble. We pray to the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and the enlightened ones to help the People of Japan, help them return to their homes, help more people practice the Dharma and transform the collective bad karma into good karma.

Date: 12 Mar 2011