Wednesday, June 26, 2013

The Singapore Haze, 2013

21 Jun 2013 09:45

21 Jun 2013 10:58
(The most serious haze level in the history of Singapore,
believed to be way above PSI 400)

 21 Jun 2013 14:32

24 Jun 2013 09:24
(Back to normal since the second half of 23 Jun 2013)

We are going through a major environmental disaster now. To Singapore, this is an unprecedented major disaster which has serious implications on its economy and environment. Singapore is actually very vulnerable; although we are spared from earth quakes and tsunami, we are not spared from something so unimaginable like this one. It started off being a man-made disaster but evolved into a natural disaster when it reaches Singapore. The PSI reading was 400 yesterday (Editor: It was believed to be way above 400 as the instrument used could only detect up to the highest PSI reading of 400) and that made a lot people panic. There were many netizens who vent their frustrations on the Internet against the Singapore government for not handling the situation well. If the PSI reading rises further to 500, probably the Changi Airport would need to be shut down. It is hard to imagine the tolerance level of the public – people do not know how to run away from the haze. Someone said that the weather in Genting (Malaysia) was good! (laughter) The Singapore government said that rain seeding above the hot spots in Indonesia would not work. And the Indonesian government said that the rain may only come after 10 days later.

Think about those construction workers and foreign laborers working in the fields for 8 hours daily - they are the group most seriously affected by the haze. Of course, we should not be easily misled by other unfounded claims that will only create more confusions and unnecessary paranoid among the people.

Two of my colleagues came to me yesterday when the PSI reading reached 400. They asked me to bless and help Singapore out of the problem because the weather forecast said that the PSI reading will hover around 300-400 in the next two days. So, I advised you folks to pray to Dragon King Buddha through our Facebook group for His blessing - to help Singapore out from the current dire situation. One hour later, the PSI reading suddenly dropped from 400 to 100. My two colleagues were flabbergasted. One of them said, “Wow! You are a really powerful Rinpoche!” He said this could only be done through supernatural power! From this episode, you can tell how inconceivable the collective karma of the sentient beings is, and how equally inconceivable the power of the Buddhas and Bodhisattva is.

Yesterday, people became panic after the weather forecast was announced - predicting a PSI level around 300-400 in the next two days. The haze can cause heart attack and increase the number of asthma patients; the asthma patients already have difficulty in breathing during a normal weather condition, they will have greater difficulty in a much degraded weather condition. I had asthma problem in the past and I understand such feelings. To an asthma patient, when the air quality is bad, he will have difficulty in breathing due to the lack of oxygen in the air. The Indonesian government said that Singaporeans are just complaining over a trivial matter because Indonesians have been living in such condition year after year. They don’t feel for us. The Singapore government feels helpless over the indifference of their Indonesian counterpart. The tiny island of Singapore has hardly any major disaster but this haze problem proves too much to bear. A lot of people are rushing to buy N95 masks. There are many people who wear the wrong masks. Only N95 mask is effective to fight the haze, the rest are not. Actually, you will feel uncomfortable after wearing a N95 mask for a long period of time because after awhile, you will end up inhaling the carbon dioxide which you exhaled. The right method is to just stay in-door and turn on the air-conditioning system and air-purifier.

Most of the people are not able to face this major disaster with a sensible and calm mind. In fact, when we look at this event from another perspective, this major disaster actually reminds us of the impermanence of life. Well, the PSI reading will remain high in the days ahead. Just now, we prayed to Dragon King Buddha and dedicated the merit of our prayer to help clear the haze. Let us take a respite before the PSI reading rises once more (laughter). Let’s hope that it does not continue to rise from 200 to 300, 400, 500... We just cannot take it anymore (laughter). The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas do indeed possess inconceivable power. However, even the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas cannot simply override the Law of Karma. The Buddhas and Bodhisattvas could have just sent a few kings of dragon to the hot spots in Indonesia and put out the fire by rain. However, this will mean violate the Law of Karma; it cannot be so. Through this experience, we have learnt to appreciate the impermanence of life better and the seriousness of a major disaster.

A discourse given by Acho Rinpoche on 22 Jun 2013

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

The Impermanence of Life

Let us welcome Hui and Hong for joining us in the prayer tonight. Their parents practised and travelled with us in the past. Their mother was seriously ill and passed away recently – such is the impermanence of life. “Impermanence” can occur at any time and to everyone. Their mother has been reborn in the Western Blissful Pureland. She will continue her spiritual cultivation in the pureland and return to this world one day (when she is ready to help others). She wished to see her children take their spiritual cultivation seriously.

When we reach the end of this life, we will then realize that the true purpose of life is to find our way back to our true origin; the rest of the things in life are just passing clouds which will simply disappear in no time. Regardless of how much love, money or children you have in this life, soon, you will draw your last breath and leave everything behind.

This is life – when you still love someone, everything will seem fine; when love disappears between both of you, you will turn towards the other extreme (of hatred) and conflicts will creep into the relationship; what did not seem to matter much in the past will become the source of conflicts. You could tolerate each other out of love, and you will try to work things out amicably. But when love turns into hatred, you will become enemies and strangers instead. You become husband and wife, parent and children in this life based on an affinity worth cherishing. However, at the same time, we ought to understand that such affinity is temporal, which lasts only this life time. So, we should also learn to let go of our attachment to a temporal affair. When you love someone too deeply, it will become an obstacle instead – it is relative.

In the past, I wished that I had nothing in my life because when one develops a very strong sense of impermanence in him, he will wish for nothing that will perturb his mind. When we fall in love, we should cherish the relationship. When love disappears, we should let it go. It is fine to have love and have not. Spiritual cultivation is about maintaining a calm and composed mind at all times. We will feel happy over having a good family, children and career. We should also feel fine over having none of these relationships. No kid – fine. No love – fine. Not having anything – fine too. Regardless of whether we have something or nothing, we should stay on the middle path.

When we do have something, we should feel happy! When we do not, we should feel happy too! However, the commoners will feel happy over what they have and moan over what they lose – thus they will be stranded in the cyclic existence perpetually.

So, spiritual cultivation is more important, without which one will never be able to break free from the endless cycle of birth and death. There are numerous merits associated with spiritual cultivation – it can change your life. The Eradication Practice in Vajrayana can eradicate the calamities befalling you; the Accumulation Practice will bring you wealth; the Loving Practice will make you likable to others; the Elimination Practice will protect you from being harmed by others. Spiritual cultivation is full of merits. However, after obtaining the worldly possessions, we should not become too attached to them. Instead, we will need to constantly remind ourselves of “impermanence” and be prepared to let go of them anytime. I hope to see both of you (Hui and Hong) joining us frequently in our group practice from now on.

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Buddha Dharma – The Most Precious Thing in Life

One day you will understand that the Buddha Dharma is the most important thing in life; the rest pale in comparison. You probably would have obtained the things you want, things that you like or someone whom you love dearly but you will need to bid farewell to all of them when your time is up. Even if you possess the whole world, 100 years on earth is just a blink of eye which passes even sooner than a snap of fingers! Within a very short span of time, you must let go of all your worldly possessions. So, what is the true value of such possession? When your time in this life is over, all your possessions in this life will become completely meaningless to you. So, the most important thing in life is to attain the ultimate freedom breaking fee from the endless cycle of birth and death (samsara), and then returning to this world (when you are ready) to lead the rest of the sentient beings onto the path of enlightenment, returning to our place of origin - this is a more meaningful pursuit of life.    

The Buddha Dharma is indeed inconceivable. Recently I delivered the soul of a Dharma Sister who passed away, who hardly did any practice in the past. It was much easier to help someone like her who had a very strong faith in me far surpassing others. When you have a strong faith in your Root Guru, you will automatically go to him when you pass away from this life. If you do not have any faith at all and your life is totally disconnected from spiritual cultivation, you will not know about the Buddha Dharma, and that you will spend your entire life pursuing just worldly goals. When your time is up, your spiritual body will not know where to go because you do not have the faintest idea of death. Inevitably, you will end up running around aimlessly in frenzy, and continue to be reborn within the Samsara.   

There are things that appear at different phases of our life which we deem valuable and want to chase after. When you look back at these things after awhile, you will realize that all things that you managed to take possession of have a time limit. I still remember that I used to have a treasure box during my childhood, in which I kept my favorite toys including marbles, paper etc. I loved it so much and I decided that I must bring it along wherever I go. Looking back - “Where is my box now? I don’t know!” So, as you grow up, you will tend to forget about the things that you once said you wanted for your entire life. As you grow up, you will fall in love with something else, and then something else…… You will continue to chase after things, one after another…… One day when you look back, you will realize that none of them is worth remembering and none of them is meaningful! Finally, there is only one thing that you can bring along with you – your “karma”. Your karma will follow you like a shadow. How does karma come about? It is created through all your actions since birth till you draw your last breath probably at the age of 100, 50, 35, or even 5! We have seen so many youngsters passing away at a tender age. 

Recently there was a 17 year-old teenager who collapsed and died while working as a volunteer in East Malaysia, as reported in the news. He was the adopted son of a wealthy family and his dad was a high performing remissier. This teenager lived in a rich man’s house and studied in one of the most prestigious schools in Singapore. But he died at the tender age of 17. Of course, there were those who died at the age of 20, 30…… I just delivered the soul of a young photographer who passed away recently. He was 30-something and his wife told me that her husband never expected himself to die so soon.  

If you have never prepared yourself for death, you will feel completely lost when the time comes, and you will end up running wild in frenzy - you will simply run into any place you saw and “boom!”, you will again fall back into Samsara. I told you before that in the current society, most of the people are self-centred and tend to do more evils than good, who will only fall into the Three Lower Realms (animal, hell and hungry ghost) in their next life; it is extremely difficult to be reborn as a human again. As long as you do not do spiritual cultivation or do it wrongly, you will easily fall into the Three Lower Realms. You would probably obtain another human birth only after millions of years. Since we have already obtained this precious human body, we should learn to let go of all worldly concerns dearest to our heart and not let them control our mind easily. You should maintain your mind in a state of calmness, immersing in the joy of Dharma instead. We ought to feel happy about being able to accept the Buddha Dharma and should not be easily perturbed by the worldly concerns.

Human life is short. You will lose your worldly possessions in no time and they will become meaningless to you. What you have obtained today may end up causing you a greater pain tomorrow, by then you would say, “I would rather not have it in the first place!” You would probably end up getting a greater pain than joy. A person may appear to be wonderful when you see him from afar. However, when you get too close to him, you may realize that he is actually very ordinary. And when you finally get hold of him, you might say, “Oh! This is what it is!” When you see things in a greater detail, you will realize that they are indeed no big deal! So, the most precious thing in life is still the Buddha Dharma.