Tuesday, December 27, 2011

The Long Lasting Merit of Spiritual Practice

(The 1st meeting between Acho Rinpoche and Summer in North India, in 2007.)

Acho Rinpoche:
Now we will invite the new members to share with us the cause of their initiation into Buddhism and their views on the practice. I think this will be helpful to the rest. The rest of you have been around for a long time and you already know one another quite well by now.

(New members shared their experience with the rest.)

I agree to the views of Dharma Brother Zibing. Practice does not mean just meditation. Everyone is born with a different intellectual capacity and therefore everyone has different needs for the teaching. Some people need meditation, some do not. Some people think that meditation is very crucial but some could already be good enough to skip it. However, meditation is a necessary process to some people. Everyone needs a different teaching, and that gives rise to the different methods of practice.

In the past, Dharma Brother Maoxin helped out at a certain meditation centre for a long time and he had a serious eye condition that could not be cured. He looked very worried when he came to seek my help because he nearly became blind. At that point in time, I was wondering why couldn’t anyone at that meditation centre help him with his problem? I told him, “Ok! Come to me.” After blessing him, his eyes recovered fully. He joined us for our recent Vietnam tour – a mind training tour. I still remember we met each other in Taiwan just last year, including his brother. He has joined us now but his brother has yet to do so. He told me that his brother had a dream recently. He dreamt of me teaching and blessing a large group of people. So, I think his brother will join us in future too. Maoxin said he could feel the powerful force of blessing during our group prayers. He felt a solidifying sensation filling his whole body and finally understood what “power of blessing” is all about. Not only could he feel the power of blessing in my shrine, he could also feel the power of blessing coming straight from me towards him when he sat at the same table with me during a meal. He is full of spiritual joy now.

Now, we will come back to Summer (Yatong). 5 years ago, we bumped into each other in North India during our visit to the sacred places of the Buddha. We exchanged our glances and she nodded to me and struck a conversation with me when she noticed that I am a Chinese. That was how we established our spiritual connection. Least that I know, we would meet again 5 years later.

I wrote in our book entitled “X-Tour: The Tour of Birth and Death” – “We parted after exchanging our first glances and making acquaintance.” I said then that “I hope we would meet again in future, be it in Africa, Tibet or any other places.” For she continued to travel to the different corners of the world, I did not know where she would be heading next. She could end up in South Africa, Nepal or any other places in the next moment. I did not expect to meet her in Vietnam this time. Maybe we should thank Facebook for making it happen. I seldom play with such tool and I do not have a Facebook account but we were somehow reconnected through such social networking tools. It was just coincidental that when she made up her mind to go into a meditation retreat in Myanmar, we contacted her and invited her to join us for our Vietnam tour.

I don’t know where she will be going next. She has no schedule, like many Tibetan practitioners who have no plans. I bet if you ask her how long she will be gone, she will not know the answer either. Maybe she will just go there and decide based on the situation then, probably stay there for 1 to 2 years if the situation permits or just leave if it doesn’t. That’s how it is. She has no baggage – no family baggage, no work-life baggage. She just goes forward and seeks the path to enlightenment. Most of us are unable to do so. At least, she has let go of her materialistic life. My deepest impression of her was that she had only one piece of garment when we first met her in India. I was curious about how she managed to get by with only one piece of garment – did she not need to change it? She told me that she would usually find a very cheap lodging place and wrap herself in a scarf, and wash her only piece of garment during this period. She had only one piece of garment but we have so many, and we continue to buy more. She could let go of her needs for more garment but we can’t. However, I notice that she is travelling with more pieces of garment this time.

We were heading to the North but she was heading to the South when we met in India. She wanted to return to where we came from 2 to 3 hours ago, in darkness at night. I told her she must not do so, it would be dangerous for her. So, we remained in the hotel for dinner and stayed there overnight. On the next day, I gave her some money in US currency. She told me that the money could support her trip to South Africa for half a year. I was thinking to myself that I could have just spent the money within a day. I was touched by her readiness to let go of her monetary possession. So, I would like to invite her to do her sharing tonight. We are unable to do what she does in this respect and that is something we ought to learn from her. Of course, I hope that she could finally fulfill her wish.

When I met Acho Rinpoche in his pilgrimage tour, I was on my own pilgrimage tour too. I just read the story of the Buddha when I was in Nalanda. There are eight most important sacred places of the Buddha, including Nalanda where Buddha first embarked on his spiritual path of practice, Bodhgaya where He attained enlightenment, Vaisali where he preached etc. The eight sacred places made up His whole autobiography. The most important point was that the Buddha began his spiritual journey as an ascetic, a beggar, a spiritual seeker, with no money at his disposal. He made it and that goes to show that it can be done. When I first met you, I already ran out of money; I would just walk or take a free ride for my travelling. Sometimes, I would feel exhausted, running out of food and water. Sometimes, I made very good connections with people.

We met in Vaisali and we went together to Kusinagar and Jetavana Garden next. We parted after our trip to Jetavana Garden. Actually, I was planning to go to a temple near the hotel, about 7 km away. I thought it was fine for me to walk there from the hotel but you folks insisted that I should not do so, saying that it was too dark and too dangerous. You said you would feel uneasy if I should end up in any danger. I said it was safe in India but you said I just should not do so. You wanted me to stay overnight at the hotel. We had our dinner at this beautiful hotel. When we parted, you told me to stay behind in the hotel for one night. I said it would be too expensive, at 2,000 rupees per night. 2,000 rupees could last me for half a year. You were worried about my safety and paid for my lodging at the hotel, and you gave me some additional cash. At that point, Acho Rinpoche used a word that really moved me to tears. He said, “We would like to make an offering to you.” I was shocked by the word “offering” because it is usually used in reverence of someone of a higher spiritual attainment. I was expecting the word “donation”, to someone as ordinary as I. That was my first time accepting a monetary offering from others. I still remember Acho Rinpoche gave me a 100 dollar note in US currency. Dharma Sister Chan and others also gave me some money too. I almost cried. I remained in a state of shock even after you folks left. I wrote many things in my diary on that day but they have not been published in my blog yet. The impact was very great and lasting.

Acho Rinpoche:
Why did I use the word “offering”? To me, all sentient beings are essentially equal. Since you are a serious spiritual seeker, you must be a real practitioner. To me, there is no question of higher or lower in my offering to you. Since you aspire to walk the path to enlightenment in order to help other sentient beings, you are a precious being. Of course, I should make offering to someone precious. I still remember asking you, “Don’t you feel worried about falling sick, since you travel without money?” She told me that initially she fell sick easily but became healthier over time. When she could not find any lodging in the temple, she would just sleep in an open field. I asked her was she not afraid of baddies? After all, she is just a lady. She said she was not afraid. She said she usually would have an intuition about whether it would be safe to go into a certain house. Well, she has been travelling safely in the past 5 years. I felt touched about what she said to me in Vietnam during our tour, “When you made up your mind, everything will work out nicely to fulfill your wish.”

I believe in one thing – “When you make a wish that is strong and clear, realize it. The force of the entire universe will be with you.” (Summer said this idea came from a book entitled “A Miraculous Tour of a Teenage Shepherd”.) The only point that one must make sure is that this wish must be a genuine wish but not a mere desire. Sometimes we can’t differentiate between a genuine wish and a desire. But if we can quiet our mind and listen to our inner voice, we can pacify the noise and see clearly the most important wish in our life. We will then know what our destiny is. Basically, there will be no fear and deprivation when we simply walk on our path of destiny.

Acho Rinpoche:
Summer mentioned an important point about spiritual practice. When one aspires to the bodhicitta, he does not need to worry about anything else - do not worry about money, do not worry about environment, do not worry about family etc. For when you aspire to bodhicitta, the Dharma Protectors will come forward to assist you and help you realize your wish and fulfill your bodhicitta. This is a very important point. The most important point is – have we aspired to bodhicitta? If we have, we will overcome all adversities in life, and the Dharma Protectors will come forward to assist us. This is how I feel after going through so many rounds of our “mind training tour”. All adversities will be eradicated and transformed into positive conditions, and a situation will become conducive in enabling us to complete the tour successfully, allowing us to accomplish our mind training practice and help some of the sentient beings along the way.

Take our recent Vietnam tour for instance. We managed to help some of the Vietnamese walk the path to enlightenment. Our tour leader and local tour guide joined us for our night prayers several times, and they too could feel the inconceivable power of blessing. No matter how much money you make in this life, no matter how many houses you own, no matter how great or influential your career is, when you draw your last breath, they will just vanish into thin air - these things will not be related to you at all. When you die, you will not be able to bring along any of them. You will only bring along your own karma and the merit of your spiritual practice.

Every X-tour is a mind training tour planned by the Bodhisattvas, which aims to help the numerous sentient beings. We just have to follow the instruction and the power of blessing will happen naturally. The power of blessing will last forever – it will follow you life after life and help you moment to moment. It will not vanish after you depart from this world but will follow you forever. Konde Rinpoche said that the world will be hit by numerous disasters going forward. Who knows what would happen on 21 Dec 2012? Will mankind become extinct? Will earth vanish? No one knows. What is certain is that major disasters will happen. They have already happened in the past few years, outnumbering the occurrences recorded in the history of mankind in the last few hundred years. They have become more frequent and larger in scale, including natural calamities, hurricanes, earth quakes, floods etc. The big flood hitting Thailand lasts a long time, and it will be followed by plague naturally. The SARS that hit us few years ago suddenly vanished; we realized that it was the blessing of Grand Master that helped to eradicate the plague. However, Grand Master said that there will be a more serious plague than SARS that will hit us, that will cause a much greater casualty.

Singapore was hit by SARS too, although it is spared of natural calamities, hurricanes, earth quakes etc. Will Singapore be spared of disasters? My answer is – no! I felt that Singapore will be hit by many disasters going forward, including some people would suddenly die of strange illnesses. So, do not assume that Singapore will be spared because it is free of natural calamities. It will be hit by many disasters too, just like other places in the world. Only spiritual practice can protect a practitioner. So, please practice seriously in order to attain true liberation and enlightenment. Give spiritual practice the first priority, and leave the rest aside – this is a very important point.

(The 2nd meeting between Acho Rinpoche and Summer in Vietnam, in 2011.)

A discourse given by Acho Rinpoche on 12 Nov 2011.