Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Merit of Spiritual Practice is Greater In A Degeneration Age

Konde Rinpoche:
Good evening, Acho Rinpoche, Dodo Rinpoche, lama and all fellow practitioners. I am glad to be with you again. Jul this year, I was supposed to return to our Dzogchen temple in Qumalai County with my brother, to make arrangement for your visit. But we could not get our VISA to enter China. So, I requested the help of Gade Rinpoche to make the necessary arrangement for you. I was worried about the arrangement and kept calling home. They told me not to worry because they would take care of everything well. My brother-in-law, Nicai, also promised me that everything would turn out fine. Acho Rinpoche returned to his temple smoothly this time and everything turned out perfect, obviously due to your good karma.

I was given a piece of land in India and I discussed with Acho Rinpoche on building a temple. It will be named “Acho Rinpoche Retreat Centre”. It will cost less than building the hostel for our monks at our temple in Qumailai Country. Initially we thought maybe we will build a bigger temple if the sponsorship is larger or a smaller one otherwise. Finally we decided to build a small temple and gradually enlarge it in future. It is up to Acho Rinpoche.

Acho Rinpoche:
Let me add, the experience of our tour to the temple in Qumalai County was indeed inconceivable. Those who travelled with me felt touched and grateful. Our Qinghai tour guide, Liu, has a strong karmic connection with me. Yesterday, I read her note about her experience in travelling with us – it is very touching. Initially, she felt a little annoyed with us due to our frequent hygiene-breaks, and she thought that I looked too ordinary too, dressing in common attire. However, towards the end of the tour, she felt touched and wept from time to time. She said she has been handling so many tour groups in the past but there was none like ours that touched her so deeply, made her wept and kept thining about us. She was very surprised by the warm reception given to us by the local in Qumalai County – we were treated like leaders.

Konde Rinpoche was humble when he said that the reception was too simple. Those who have watched the video footages of our excursion will agree that we were treated almost like a president or chairman. Actually, we felt very touched by their hospitality – they did their best. The huge yak tent was impressive and the food was wonderful, given the poverty of the place. They just treated us like dignitaries, almost like their leaders in the government. We were moved.

Initially I thought maybe we might encounter problems without Konde Rinpoche travelling with us. Fortunately everything turned out well. Least did I expect that there was an important mission awaiting us – the meeting with the grandfather of Konde Rinpoche. His grandfather was seriously ill (due to old age). He could hardly walk and talk when we met him. He felt very uncomfortable and his whole body was cold. He could not sleep for three months. He had to sit up in his bed while sleeping. He had less than two hours of sleep every day.

Initially we decided not to visit him since Konde Rinpoche was not coming along. But we changed our plan and went to see him because he wanted to see me. Fortunately we made it or we will miss the opportunity forever. After our meeting, I decided that I ought to do something for him – I wanted to bless him. So, I invoked Guru Rinpoche and I transformed into Guru Rinpoche and blessed him. His body became warmer after the blessing. We returned to see him on the following night and he looked quite normal and could talk. He slept for four hours that night after the blessing. For the first time in three months, he could finally sleep properly. I knew then that his time was up. Indeed, he passed away one week after we returned to Singapore. He persisted in order to meet me and left after fulfilling his wish. It was indeed an extra-ordinary tour. We would like to thank Konde Rinpoche for making the arrangement and giving us a VIP reception.

We will build a small retreat centre in South India, somewhere near Dzogchen Monastery. This is another mission. I hope you will be supportive of this mission, in order to benefit the sentient beings there. Now we shall invite Dodo Rinpoche to give us a teaching.

Dodo Rinpoche:
Amitabha Buddha. Time files - it has been a few months since we last met in Taiwan. Based on your recent trip to Qinghai, I realized that Singaporean Buddhists have helped the Tibetans a great deal. Actually, the problem of Tibet started after the Cultural Revolution, with the transmission of religion and culture of Tibet to the younger generation broken for 20 years. We, the Tibetan Rinpoches and lamas hope to mend the gap and restore what is lost. Everyone is trying hard. Every Tibetan Buddhist teacher has the same wish to restore traditions that are lost. We need help from many people. Some people might wonder why we need to build so many temples. If you take a look at the situations in Tibet, Nepal and India, they are very different from those in Singapore or Taiwan; the young lamas live in a deprived condition in the former, yet they need a learning environment badly. I would like to thank all of you who helped us in the past or who will be helping us in future, on behalf of my Tibetan community. We are grateful.

I spent most of my time in Taiwan and roughly know the problems facing the world today, such as global warming, natural calamities etc. We understand that life is very fragile, especially so for the mankind in future. The Buddha said, “Everything is impermanent.” The value of life does not lie in its length of time, nor in the wealth or status of a person. The point is – is it meaningful? There are several ways to explain its value. In most cases, the actual value is determined by whether it can bring benefits to other sentient beings. The numerous crises facing the world can only be reduced through inner and outer spiritual practices. The Buddha said, “Mind is the creator of all phenomena.” We must bring positive influence to the world through the positive strength of our inner mind.

There are two parts to the practice: the purification of our mind and the purification of our body. In Vajrayana Buddhism, there is a spiritual attainment called “Rainbow Body”. It is accomplished through the purification of one’s inner mind and physical body. One’s physical existence will then become rainbow-like. That’s my understanding. We need to start from training our mind. Basically, it means breaking free from our ignorance and ego which are our in-born propensities difficult to kick. The most difficult part about spiritual practice is not fasting, being naked or practicing in austerity. The biggest hurdle for enlightenment is taming our own mind,our desires.

A person will know who is good to him and who is bad to him without learning, after being born into this world. Even a toddler who cannot yet speak knows that. This is the in-born “ego”. Buddhism teaches us to let go of our ego but this is the most difficult part. For one who has been practicing for many life times, it could be easier for him to kick his ego or self-pride. Otherwise, it will be very difficult for a first-timer. One will find it very difficult to practice what he does not have or dislikes. So, this is the value of Buddhism and our aspiration to practice. It is not easy for us to change the world. But everyone has the responsibility to make it a better place because we are Buddhists - we are given the advice to do so by the Buddha. We should bring positive influences to the people around us, and we must tame our own ego and self-pride. This is the only way to bring peace to the world and reduce the occurences of major crises. If we train our mind well, our inner peacefulness will naturally calm the external word – this is the power of a positive mind. A positive mind will only happen through practice – mind training. There are both the teachings and true attainment in Buddhism. Teachings are just education, whereas true attainment is realized only through practice – no work no gain. We should learn the teachings and act accordingly to the teachings, taking one step at a time, do it every day, maybe scoring 100 marks or 50 marks, it does not matter. How much we could put into practice will become our true attainment.

I hope that we can become a true practitioner of the Dharma and we can achieve true spiritual attainment. Only then we are able to help the world when it is hit by disasters, by dedicating the merits of our cultivations to the victims. Take a look at Thailand which is hit by a major flood now – millions of people are displaced. The major disasters hitting the world are increasing in number over the years. This is an outer manifestation of our inner mind in a state of flux (fear and limitless desires). Guru Rinpoche said, an ordained monk who observed the precepts for 100 years in the past would accumulate less merit than an ordained monk who observes the precepts for merely one day in the current degeneration age. When the going becomes tougher, the merit gained from overcoming the difficulty in practice will become even more valuable.

We are connected through our affinity. I thank Acho Rinpoche for giving me the opportunity to do my sharing. Thanks.

Acho Rinpoche:
I would like to thank Dodo Rinpoche for his sharing. Besides the major flood in Thailand, South Turky was also hit by a major earthquake just few days ago – 7.2 rectal scale (23 Oct 2011). Thousands of houses have collapsed in the earthquake. There are many students still buried under the rubble. Today is the third day and the 72 golden hours have passed. There was a 2-week old infant being saved from the rubble yesterday. That place is under developed and lacks resources. Many countries in the world are trying to help them now, including Singapore. We, the Vajrayanists, ought to feel for them as though they are our relatives being buried under the rubble. We should feel the pain of those who are buried underneath the rubble. We should dedicate the merits of our practice to them and hope the situation can improve.

This world is facing numerous major disasters, including natural calamities and financial crisis which is caused by the greed of the financial sector. The whole financial sector has turned into a huge monster swallowing everything. This monster is conspiring with the government, academic institutions and the media to cheat the whole world, swallowing the wealth of the whole world. They warn the world that the global economy must not be let collapsed or the whole world will collapse. This is a big disaster. If the global economy collapses, the world will be thrown into a state of chaos, and our hard earnings will just evaporate into thin air overnight. How so? Each time they start printing more currency notes, our savings will reduce significantly in value. We work hard here and they spend all our money elsewhere. They are lazy to work and are merely scheming about taking others’ money away. The world is indeed in a state of chaos. Most people want to earn the most money in the shortest time without working hard for it. Sp, this world ends up facing many problems. “Mind is the creator of all phenomena.” It is the “desire” in men that created this world; this is the consequence of the inner desire of mankind manifesting outward. When the world is in a state of flux, the power generated from our spiritual practice will become greater.

Recently I read a book about a Taiwanese spiritual medium trying to help others through spiritual consultations with the deities. There was a strange phenomenon being mentioned in the book – “those people seeking help were either facing a major crisis in life or had incurable illnesses”. The medium found a commonality among these people – “none of them ever did anything good in their life! Even the deities could not help them! ”

In this degeneration age, a person is born with an instinct to fight and compete with others, who is eager to outdo others at all times. He never thinks of wanting to help others but cares only for himself. Our educational system has gone astray – people who are more intelligent and highly educated are more inclined to cause harm to the world. When they face big problem in their life and seek help from the spiritual world - the spiritual world cannot help them because they had never done anything good in their life, not even a small act of kindness. I found it very pitiful! Why on earth had this people not done any good act in their entire life?

"A Bodhisattva is fearful of the cause, whereas the sentient being is fearful of the effect." When a sentient being faces the consequence of a bad karma and rushes to seek help from the deities, it is just too late! A Bodhisattva is fearful of the cause and therefore avoids planting a bad seed, no matter how small it seems. Every thought that arises in our mind must be good and should mean to benefit others.

We are very lucky that we are spiritual practitioners in this degeneration age, and we are able to help others through our practice. What will we do when we face “impermanence” in our life one day? What should we do? How can we depart from this world freely? Or do we want to end up like those seeking help from the Buddha only in time of crisis? I really feel sad after reading the book – how on earth has the world become like this today? Too many people are selfish and never think of benefitting others.

There was another medium mentioned in the same book too. He helped to build a monastery in India, for a Vajrayana group. He met a senior Rinpoche and became a big donor, helping the latter to build a monastery.

There are not many monasteries in Singapore because there are not many ordained folks here. But there are many ordained folks in India and Tibet but not enough temples to provide them with shelter. We will build a temple in India (Acho Rinpoche Retreat Centre, near Dzogchen Monastery in South India), to give them a place to live, to learn and to practice the Dharma without worrying too much of their basic needs. We will dedicate the merits to the world. We are walking on the right path, a path that will lead to our ultimate enlightenment in future.

I am thankful to you for sharing the same mind set during all these years, walking on the right path. Thank you. I would also like to thank Dodo Rinpoche for giving us a warm reception in Taiwan last year when we visited his meditation centres. Amitabha Buddha.

A discourse given jointly by Konde Rinpoche, Dodo Rinpoche and Acho Rinpoche on 26 Oct 2011.