Friday, April 15, 2011

Going Through the Bardo State (超越生死)

Acho Rinpoche:
We chanted the Hundred Syllable Mantra 21 times just now; we did it 49 times last time; one day we will do it 108 times. You should practice the way I do - sitting completely still, listening to the sound of mantra, and completely resting in a state of emptiness. I felt extremely light, free of sensual feelings, completely disappeared - gone! You have to reach this state of stillness that your body is free of sensual feelings, you only heard the sound of mantra, and you dissolve into the sound of mantra. In that state, you can chant 108 times or 1,080 times of the mantra, and your mind will just sink, sink, sink… First, the enlightenment being will descend, and your body will feel a hardened sensation as though you are a piece of rock, and then you will find yourself vanished into emptiness. Finally, you will find “yourself” present outside of your body - in space. At this point, you will feel that your legs, body and mouth no longer belong to you. In this state of non-being, only the resonance of the mantra continues, within which you completely dissolved. Then, you can sit there in a meditative posture for a long period of time. If you feel restless, you will feel that your legs have turned numbed, and you will not be able to continue chanting the mantra and you will feel very uncomfortable.

The next thing I want to let you know is that I have been sick for the past 2 days, during which I could not sleep at all. First, it was my toothache caused by a badly swollen gum. The pain persisted from 1am, 2am, 3am, 4am, to 5am. I exhausted all methods including taking medications, using salts etc. I almost felt like extracting my tooth using a plier! The pain was simply too great to bear! Finally, I thought to myself, “Alright! Just go ahead and torture me with the pain!” I just lied in my bed and continued chanting the mantra in my heart, till dawn.

On the following day, I called my dentist. Before that, I consulted a Chinse physician who said that I was too heaty and he gave me the strongest medication and assured me that the pain could be treated. However, it did not work! When the dentist saw my condition, he was surprised. He said, “The swell is really bad!” He asked me why I came to him so late? He asked me how long has it been? I told him, “2 days.” He wondered how I could bear the pain and he thought by now my blood pressure would have shot up very high! “110/70,” he said, “normal!” My body temperature was also normal, at 36 degree Celcius. He said, since the swollen gum did not affect my blood pressure or my body temperature, he would do an operation for me. The operation, although was done under anaesthetic, was very painful!

After the operation, he said he would not be available on the following day because of a meeting already scheduled. He gave me the contacts of two of his dentist friends, in case I need further assistance. “Tell them that you are sent by me, they will attend to you,” he said. “I think you must consult one of them tomorrow,” he said. I told him, “I may not need to seek their help tomorrow.” He gave me lots of medication. I told Dharma Sister Yue that we might need to cancel the prayer tonight. Actually, I had a meeting today and a prayer tonight. I had not been able to sleep for the past few years. After taking the medication, surprisingly, I could sleep again. Although I still feel the pain, my gum is no longer swollen. That’s why I could practice with you tonight.

Now I would like to invite Dharma Sister Xiu to say a few words. Let her share with us the details of some events that had happened recently.

Dharma Sister Xiu:
I took care of my husband for more than ten days by now. It was hard work and I almost fall sick now. He is someone who is very stubborn, probably because he served in the army in the past. Although he is a Buddhist, he has not been practicing the teachings. He consulted a fortune teller recently and was told that there was a spirit following him closely. However, the fortune teller could not help him solve the problem. Acho Rinpoche also said something similar about the problem faced by my husband but he could help solve the problem. I am very grateful to Acho Rinpoche.

Initially my husband had a headache. He kept vomiting too despite taking the medicine. I was panic and tried to help him by chanting the mantra and seeking help from Acho Rinpoche. I hope he could recover soon. He was so stubborn that he refused to consult the doctor despite the seriousness of his sickness. Finally, I managed to drag him to a family doctor. The doctor did not even dare to prescribe any medication for him but merely gave him a jab. He advised me to take my husband to the hospital instead but my husband just refused to do so. He vomited again at night.

On the 2nd day, I brought him to a doctor. He was given a jab and blood pressure assessment. He showed no sign of a stroke. On the 3rd day, he fell somewhat unconscious and hardly opened his eyes throughout the day. At night, when he woke up, he told me that he had a dream. In his dream, he saw a shadow, dressed in a floral shirt. When I heard that, I could feel the presence of a foreign being in his body. On the 4th day, I told Acho Rinpoche that I wished to bring my husband to see him for blessing. But I could not force my husband to go with my plan. On the 5th day, I told my husband, “If you are still not well today, I will bring you to Acho Rinpoche.” Surprisingly, he agreed. He put on the shirt he wore when he took refuge in Buddhism i the past, and a rosary. But he took them off soon after. I really felt that there was a foreign being in his body. I made an appointment with Acho Rinpoche and I finally brought him over to seek blessing.

At night, I asked Aco Rinpoche about my husband’s condition. Acho Rinpoche told me, “He is possessed by a spirit.” It matches what the fortune teller said. I asked, “Will he be alright?” Acho Rinpoche said, “ No problem!” After receiving the blessing from Acho Rinpoche, my husband had a dream on the same night. In his dream, he fought with others but won the fight. He took three human heads home, placed them in paper bags and placed them before the earth-god. After that, he fell sick. He consulted a doctor but was told that he did not suffer from a stroke. So, I felt relieved because it meant that it was not a very serious illness. Few days later, he became dehydrated after vomiting continuously. Finally, he was admitted to a hospital but again, the doctor said he did not suffer a stroke. He was put on drips and became conscious again. When I returned home for a sleep, I dreamt of taking a photograph with Grand Master. After that, I returned to the hospital and was told by the doctor that my husband was admitted to the Intensive Care Unit due to internal bleeding in his head. I became panic because I initially thought that it was not a stroke. Why did he suddenly bleed in his head? After the prayer at night, I learnt that Acho Rinpoche fell sick and I guessed he must have taken over the sufferings of my husband. I could not sleep after returning home on that night, feeling guilty.

On the following day, the doctor told me that my husband had suffered from a stroke at least 7 to 8 days ago. I told him that my husband just refused to consult the doctor. The doctor said, “I see. However, the blood clot has disappeared almost completely. If there is no further complication, he can be transferred to a normal ward soon.” At the time, there was another experienced doctor with us who said, “It must be the blessing from heaven! He is very lucky!” In the afternoon, he was transferred to a normal ward. Grand Master and Acho Rinpoche must have given their blessings. I felt very touched by what the doctor said and felt like crying. I hope that my husband will change some of his bad habits after surviving this crisis, and cherish the Dharma. The Dharma is truly inconceivable!

Acho Rinpoche:
The dentist told me not to speak in the next three days, in order to reduce the pain caused by my toothache. I experienced great pain when swallowing my saliva. When I left the dental clinic looking for my lunch, I could not find porridge after checking it out at 4 to 5 coffee shops (eateries). I could not speak at all and had great difficulty in swallowing my saliva, besides not being able to eat anything throughout the day. As I need to attend a meeting in the morning, I had not time for breakfast in the morning. I am not a choosy person but all I could find in the eateries are just hard foods that need chewing.

Since I have given him the blessing, he will turn out to be fine. There is no need to worry too much. All things in this world are impermanent, aren't they? It is coincidental that I just talked about the “Bardo Teachings – Going Beyond Birth and Death” recently. This story tells us about the sufferings before death. I must live through the great pain while I am still alive! However, such pain is very insignificant compared with the pain of going through the bardo state. It is a far more painful process of going through the bardo state. Her husband actually went through a state closely resembling that of a near-death. We must learn from this lesson and prepare ourselves well to go through the bardo state.

A discourse given by Acho Rinpoche on 10 Oct 2010

Monday, April 11, 2011

The Illusory Cyclic Existence (六道轮回的虚幻)

Dharma Brother Yi:

Acho Rinpoche gave a very wonderful teaching the other day. I felt that it was indeed a very rare teaching that I have ever come across in this lifetime. I have always found the core teaching of Buddhism somewhat elusive. However, on that very night Acho Rinpoche pointed out the core teaching in a very direct and reassuring way, giving me a very clear sense of direction that prevents me from digressing. My heart was indeed filled with the Joy of Dharma!

On the following day, I had a dream in early dawn. In the dream, we were practicing in a group. Acho Rinpoche taught us the recitation of the name of a highly realized Thai Buddhist Master who had a very stron spiritual connection with the former. Acho Rinpoche was holding a book in his hand. The book consists of two sections, with the first half section written in Thai and the second half in Chinese, translated by Acho Rinpoche.

After the group practice, Acho Rinpoche told us that he invented a special fertilizer lately. This fertilizer would enhance the booming of flowers for any plant. He gave the fertilizer to all of us. I was the first in the queue, and I took one big bag of it. The fertilizer appeared to be translucent and was milky white in color. I held the bag in my hand and thought to myself, “I don’t have any plants, what should I do with this fertilizer?” I knew not what to do with it. Then I noticed that the fertilizer given to others looked different from mine – they looked like the “black pills” instead. Acho Rinpoche instructed them to swallow the black pills and they did so accordingly. I thought, “Why is it that I can’t eat mine?” I felt very grateful in my mind, and I woke up from my dream at that point, still feeling very joyful at heart.

I had yet another dream this morning but I forgot it completely after waking up. Suddenly I recalled this dream during our practice and it became vivid again. In my dream, I was standing beside a lake, staring at the water in the lake. The water was murky. There were numerous illusory sentient beings in the lake which looked extremely sad and troubled. They were swimming all over in a very chaotic manner. I felt clearly that they were illusionary, not real – why would they suffer from so much mental afflictions? “An illusory existence should rightly be free of mental afflictions,” I thought. “I must tell them!” So, I jumped into the lake, trying to reach them. However, the moment I entered the lake, I felt tremendous pressure and my mind became very confused! I could not see my own body, instead I felt like one of them – an illusion too! However, my mind was telling me that I was not an illusion but real! I struggled in great discomfort. Again, I thought, “How can I pull them out of this place? How should I tell them that they are just illusory?” At that point, I no longer felt that it was just an illusion - my mind became clouded and confused. Suddenly, I saw Dharma Brother Shao leading a group of people moving towards a certain direction, looking for his master. He told the rest that his master would be able to free them from the cyclic existence and their mental afflictions!

I looked at the direction to which he was pointing and saw two vertical rays of light. When Dharma Brother Shao mentioned his “master”, a message flashed through my mind immediately – “Acho Rinpoche is there!” So, I helped to lead the rest moving towards the light in that direction too. The lake water was murky and we lost our sense of direction completely. When we came close to the two rays of light, we began to develop a clearer sense of direction – and we could feel that this was a lake. We moved towards the two rays of light which appeared to be two vertical pillars of light leading upward from the lake. I started feeling very uncomfortable and I said “I go up first!” I charged upward and half way through, I sensed that I would be seeing Acho Rinpoche. And I knew that the two pillars were, in fact, his legs! I felt that he was seated, with his two legs resting in the lake.

When I reached the surface of the water, I returned to the initial state where I could see the lake, the water, the mountain, birds and trees. I felt very comfortable in the nature. At that point, I knew that the lake was illusionary. I had awaken in the dream but had yet to wake up from my dream. I could not quite remember the dream after waking up until I did my practice, where I quietly analysed my dream once more. I thought this was a special dream that must have its significance. When I re-emerged from the bottom of the lake, I expected to see the face of Aho Rinpoche but I saw an empty space instead. I did not see the face of Acho Rinpoche appearing before my eyes but his two legs of light. Which one was his true identity? While I was searching for the answer, the vision of the entire lake appeared in my mind. Actually, the upper half of Acho Rinpoche’s body was formless! It was just nature – trees, flowers, grass etc; the manifestations of emptiness!

Both legs of Acho Rinpoche that appeared as light symbolised “luminosity”. The water in the lake symbolised “sentient beings in the six realms of cyclic existence”. It simply means – luminosity actually exists within the sentient beings of the six realms of cyclic existence”. When I saw the light from the bottom of the lake, I thought it was Acho Rinpoche and I saw his face appearing. Actually, the face of Acho Rinopche is just an illusion. His face appeared from luminosity in order to give us a sense of direction, guiding us upwards the pillars of light. What is above the lake is the true existence – it is not impermanence but "emptiness and awareness". It was a very clear sense of awareness! That was the whole picture! I was very touched when I understood the meaning of this dream!

Acho Rinpoche:

Dharma Brother Yi had a very meaningful dream. It is likened to a small opening, through which he saw a small facet of my attainment. Actually, the upper half is a luminous state of emptiness. You will finally reach a luminous state of emptiness. The whole universe and nature are just your manifestations. In order to help the sentient beings, you place both your legs in the Six Realms of Existence. The manifestation of rainbows, rains… are meant to bring them back to their place of origin. The Seal of Great Perfection can deliver the sentient beings to the Pure Land of the Buddhas. This is simply an inconceivable method – the Great Perfection!

As what Dharma Brother Yi said, the lake represents the Six Realms of Existence. When sentient beings entered the Six Realms of Existence, they lost their ways. The lake is simply too vast, and everyone is lost in his dream, lost in his delusions, stranded in the process of birth, aging, sickness and death, and trapped by his career, family, children, spouse etc. Although Yi wanted to help others, he too was lost when he entered the lake. He was trapped too and became helpless himself. This is to tell you that it is just not easy to break free of the Six Realms of Existence. If the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas and the enlightened masters do not re-enter this realm of existence to help the sentient beings by teaching, blessing and helping them, it will be impossible for anyone to break free of the Six Realms of Existence at all!

Sakyamuni Buddha said there is no one who can break free of the Six Realms of Existence, regardless of your status as a king, a president, a billionaire, a professor etc. You simply cannot break free of the Six Realms of Existence but repeatedly born and die within. Only with the blessing of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, one can break free of the cyclic existence. The wisdom of the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas is simply inconceivable - it is simply beyond the comprehension of ordinary beings. If you want to break free of the Six Realms of Existence, you must practice with vigour. When you break free, you will realize that the whole world, the universe are just parts of your body. Rainbows will appear wherever you are because they are part of your existence. Wind, rain, streams… are all parts of your existence - they are just your manifestations. You did not create them intentionally - they just appear very naturally. This is the state of being when you reached the ultimate state of enlightenment. So, the dream was very meaningful - it leaked slightly my state of attainment. I am pleasantly surprised that Yi had such a dream.

A discourse given by Acho Rinpoche on 31 Jul 2010 in Singapore.