Saturday, December 17, 2016


Tonight, we celebrated the birth of Dipankara Buddha, who was an ancient Buddha who prophesized the enlightenment of Sakyamuni Buddha during one of his past lives eons ago.
In his sharing tonight, Acho Rinpoche stressed the importance of the Diamond Sutra again, saying that it is even more so to a Mahayanist. A Mahayanist who does not understand the teachings expounded in the Diamond Sutra has not truly entered the door of the Dharma. Acho Rinpoche also stressed the importance of the Heart Sutra which has been incorporated into our daily practice. Heart Sutra is the path to enlightenment; a practitioner who has not attained the profound wisdom expounded in the Heart Sutra will never reach the state of enlightenment. One who understands the teachings expounded in the Heart Sutra will also comprehend the teachings expounded in the Diamond Sutra as well as the Great Wisdom Sutra; it shows the importance of the Heart Sutra. All Buddhas actually attained the state of enlightenment expounded in the Heart Sutra.
We extracted two chapters from the Diamond Sutra for sharing here.

(Diamond Sutra: Chapter 10 The Sublimity of A Pureland
Sakyamuni Buddha asked Subhuti, “Did I gain anything from Dipankara Buddha in the past when I met him? What is your view on this?” Subhuti replied, “No. You did not gain anything from Dipankara Buddha in the past.” Sakyamuni Buddha asked again, “Subhuti, does a Bodhisattva sublime a pureland? Subhuti replied, “No. A sublime pureland is actually not what it appears to be but it is merely named as such.” Sakyamuni Buddha said, “Indeed so. Subhuti, all the Bodhisttvas and the Mahabodhisattvas should dwell in their pristine state of awareness undefiled by the mental fabrications caused by the appearance of form, sound, smell, taste, touch and concepts which are composite existence transient in nature. They should not let their minds be fixated on the appearance of such phenomena and thought that they truly existed. Subhuti, for instance, if a man’s body is as huge as Mt. Sumeru, would you think that his body is indeed huge?” Subhuti answered, “Yes, it is indeed huge. Why did I say so? It is because the Buddha has explained that the body of a man is not what it appears to be but it is merely named as such.”)

The Diamond Sutra interprets every worldly phenomenon in three different perspectives: 1) that which appears to be; 2) is actually not what it appears to be; 3) it is just named as what it appears to be. It helps us understand the true existence of phenomena - they are more than meet the eye. A phenomenon will first be cognized, then denied, in order to help us understand its inherent nature of emptiness free of the notion of an independent “self”. The notion of “self” is actually a misperception of our true state of existence. The Zen parables are actually hinting to us the state of true existence beyond our conventional perception. Sakyamuni Buddha gave his teachings in three periods, with the teachings given in the second period being the hardest to comprehend as they were related to the notion of emptiness.
Actually, the final stage of practice is about familiarizing ourselves with our innate state of awareness free of mental fabrications. By then we will understand that, ultimately speaking, there is no one attaining enlightenment and there is no “suffering, the cause of suffering, the end of suffering and the path that frees us from suffering”. Therefore, a practitioner only starts embarking on the journey of true practice after he has truly understood the meaning of emptiness. One who has attained the state of emptiness would have eradicated his sense of ego and, therefore, will not fall under the temptations of the evil. So, when we are doing a prayer here, we are actually not doing a prayer here, thus we are doing a prayer here. The teaching of emptiness is indeed too profound to be trusted, let alone comprehended by the sentient beings.

(Diamond Sutra: Chapter 17 The Ultimate State of Selflessness
At the time, Subhuti asked Sakyamuni Budda for advice, “How should the good men and women who aspire to attain the state of enlightenment maintain their state of mind and take control of their mental activities appropriately?”
The Buddha replied, “All good men and women who aspire to attain the state of enlightenment should think as such, ‘I will help all sentient beings attain the state of enlightenment but I will not take their corporeal existence as real, thus there is ultimately no single sentient being who has attained the state of enlightenment.’ Why so? A Bodhisattva who perceives the self, a man, sentient beings and age as real is not qualified to be called a Bodhisattva. Why so? Subhuti, ‘one who aspires to attain the state of enlightenment’ does not truly exist. Subhuti, did I gain the state of enlightenment when I met Dipankara Buddha in the past?”
Subhuti answered, “No. As I understand your teaching, you did not actually gain the state of enlightenment when you met Dipankara Buddha.”
Sakyamuni Buddha said, “Indeed so. Indeed so. Subhuti, I did not gain the state of enlightenment. Subhuti, had I thought that I had gained the state of enlightenment, Dipankara Buddha would not have prophesized that I would become a Buddha in future and be known as Sakyamkuni Buddha. As I had not gained the state of enlightenment, thus Dipakara Buddha prophesized that ‘You would become a Buddha in future and you would be known as Sakyamuni Buddha.’ Why so? All phenomena are inherent of the same nature. If someone says that ‘the Buddha had gained enlightenment’ - he is wrong. Subhuti, I did not gain the state of enlightenment. Subhuti, the state of enlightenment gained by the Buddha is beyond a dualistic view of existence and non-existence. Thus, I say that all phenomena are just the Dharma. Subhuti, that which appears to be is actually not what it appears to be, but merely named as what it appears to be. Subhuiti, for instance, a huge body…”
Subhuti said, “Buddha has said that a huge body is actually not what it appears to be but it is merely named as what it appears to be.”
The Buddha said, “Subhuti, it is the same for a Bodhisattva. If he proclaims that ‘I will help all sentient beings gain the state of enlightenment’, then he is not qualified as a Bodhisattva. Why so? Subhuti, ‘a Bodhisattva’ is actually not what it appears to be. Thus, the notions of a self, a man, sentient beings and age are actually not what they appear to be. Subhuti, if a Bodhisattva proclaims that ‘I will sublime a pureland’, he is not qualified to be called a Bodhisattva. Why so? It is because the sublimity of a pureland is actually not what it appears to be, but it is merely named as such.” Subhuti, a Bodhisattva who has finally attained the state of selflessness is indeed a true Bodhisattva.”)

We should view all worldly phenomena as dreams and illusions including our daily activities such as working, eating, walking, resting, sitting and lying down. We need to be mindful about viewing all phenomena as illusory and train our mind to think in such manner. We have been too used to viewing all phenomena in life as real, so it will take a long time for us to eradicate the old habit. When we feel the sense of pain, we should learn to view it as empty in nature, which does not truly exist and therefore do not be bothered by it. Ultimately speaking, we will need to return to our real home one day – the state of emptiness; only then will we truly attain the state of ultimate liberation.
Acho Rinpoche has gone through a painful period of illness lately. However, he views his illness as a normal routine of a human life which will start with birth and end with aging, falling sick and finally death. He views his physical pain as a dream and illusion, and his body as such too. We need to learn to let go of our attachment to our body, in order to attain the state of liberation. Even if all the sentient beings appeal to a Buddha to live on perpetually in this world, one day he must still pass away and leave this world behind. So, we should focus our attention on the practice which is more important than to lament on our illness. We should learn to view all phenomena as empty in nature and even enjoy the sickness when it comes. Acho Rinpoche said that if he does not fall sick, how could he cure others of their illnesses; he will need to take on the sufferings of others when he blesses them, thus freeing them from sufferings.
On a separate note, Acho Rinpoche reminded us that a Vajrayanist should never assume that his personal spiritual attainment could ever surpass that of his root guru; otherwise he will certainly fall into the evil path. In fact, a root guru is the source of all blessings received by a student. This is indeed a very unique teaching of the Vajrayana.

Reported by Sun-Moon KFS on 15-10-2016

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Let Go

Acho Rinpoche gave a key teaching after the group prayer tonight on “letting go”. What should we let go? How do we let go? Only when one has understood the meaning of “letting go” and put the teaching to practice in his daily life, will he be able to attain the true liberation free of sufferings.
Acho Rinpoche shared the teaching of Venerable Jin Kong as follow.
Even an ordained person might not be able to truly “let go”, let alone a layman Buddhist who is preoccupied by worldly concerns like his works, his family etc. Sakyamuni Buddha said that a layman Buddhist may attain Buddhahood too. Vimalakirti, a layman Buddhist during the time of Sakyamuni Buddha, attained the same level of enlightenment as Bodhisattva Manjushri, who was an ordained person. In one of the sutras (阿难问事佛吉祥经), Buddha advised his students that A Buddhist may do the worldly activities but he should not feel attached to them.” It means that a Buddhist may live a layman life including getting married, having children, working etc.; however, he should not harbor the thoughts of wanting to take control of them and own them permanently.”
People tend to assume that this world is real and permanent, and reject what they dislike and feel attached to what they like. They wish to own, monopolize and control what appear to be pleasant to them. However, all the phenomena in this world are transient in nature and appear only in the form of composite existence due to our karma; they will change over time and finally disappear completely. People tend to feel anguished when they lose someone or something they love - it is actually our sense of attachment to the worldly phenomena that creates the feeling of pain in us. In fact, we may enjoy the things presented to us at the juncture they appear, but we will need to learn to let them go when they disappear before us. Let them go, and we will then liberate ourselves from the feeling of pain of not wanting to let go.
Acho Rinpoche advised us that we may fall in love wholeheartedly with someone but we must let our lover go when the karmic connection between us has ended.  There is nothing permanent in this world including our husband, wife, children, colleagues etc. If we insist on wanting others to follow exactly what we want them to do, that is the root cause of our own suffering. We need to let go of the notions of “I”, “me”, “mine” including our own physical body, and treat them like a hotel which we will only be using for a short while and leave them behind after that. Do not harbor the thought of wanting to take possession of someone or something, let alone wanting to “control” them. This is the key to attaining the ultimate liberation from all sufferings in life.
By “letting go”, it does not mean ignoring all things in life but to simply let go of our inner desire of wanting to own, monopolize and control the people and things in our life. It is the wrong ideas that fabricate the feeling of pain in our mind. We can certainly enjoy the things presented to us at present but do not fall prey to the thoughts of wanting to own, monopolize and control them perpetually. When it is time for them to disappear before us, learn to say “goodbye” to them. Apply this key teaching in our daily life, be it at home, at work or when dealing with our family etc., and we will gradually liberate ourselves from the sufferings in life.    
Reported by Sun-Moon KFS on 17-9-2016


Acho Rinpoche gave the following teaching after the group prayer tonight.
Grand Master fell seriously ill during Apr-May 2016, during which his physical body was overwhelmed with great pain that he could merely maintain his inner state of wakefulness. When a person goes through such major crisis in life, he will realize that all other things in life are no longer relevant to him.
Acho Rinpoche shared with the group that one of his former colleagues who was about 30+ year-old went missing while doing white water rafting in Malaysia, who was a very experienced water sports trainer. His friend sought help from Acho Rinpoche, hoping that he could be saved. Acho Rinpoche said that he could only help the search team find his body. The body of the deceased was finally found by the search team and brought back to Singapore.
Acho Rinpoche attended his wake and prayed to Avalokitesvara Bodhdisattva to help deliver the soul of the deceased. The body of the deceased lying in the coffin bled profusely through the various openings on the body and looked dreadful. Those attending the wake did not have the courage to go near his coffin except Acho Rinpoche who thought that a practitioner should face the reality of impermanence in order to increase his sense of renunciation.  
          Acho Rinpoche advised us that a practitioner should think of helping others to eradicate their sufferings when he goes through a suffering himself – “May the pain I felt help to eradicate the pain of all sentient beings!” A practitioner should aspire to help all sentient beings and take over the pain felt by the sentient beings. Abiding by the precepts, aspiring to help others attain Buddhahood and practicing the teachings are the conditions for one to be born as a human in his next life. A self-fish person who only takes care of his own interest will only fall into the three lower realms (animal, hell being and hungry ghost) when he passes away from this life.  
Acho Rinpoche also shared with us a dream that he had recently. In his dream, Mayumla was hosting a few of her friends at home by cooking a meal. One of her friends told her that he just came back from Taiwan where he paid his respect to Grand Master. Acho Rinpoche thought that the dream probably means that he should make a trip to Taiwan at the end of this year, to take part in a Buddhist function presided over by Grand Master.
Reported by Sun-Moon KFS on 6-11-2016

Saturday, November 19, 2016

Two Methods for Accomplishing the Practice of Dzogchen

After our White Tara practice tonight, Acho Rinpoche did the following sharing.
There are two methods for attaining the practice of Dzogchen (The Great Perfection).
The first method requires a practitioner to learn widely and practise renunciation, bodhicitta and the Six Perfections (offering, discipline, tolerance, diligence, meditation and wisdom), who eventually needs to attain the state of emptiness in order to accomplish the practice.
The second method requires a practitioner to trust his root guru fully, with utmost reverence and confidence in his teacher and believing in his teacher as a Buddha. The greater his confidence is in his teacher as the Buddha, the greater is the power of blessing he would receive in return. In short, a practitioner must find a qualified spiritual guide and trust his spiritual guide completely as a Buddha; however, it is actually very difficult for one to fulfil the second conditions due to his personal ego.
Reported by Sun-Moon KFS on 14-11-2016

View Others as Buddhas

Acho Rinpoche shared a teaching given by Venerable Jin Kong after our Guru Rinpoche practice tonight.
Venerable Jin Kong advised a practitioner to learn the attitude of a bodhisattva by the name of Good Wealth. Good Wealth always regarded others as the Buddhas who meant to help him walk the path to enlightenment and regarded himself as the only commoner. Such attitude can prevent a practitioner from falling in his practice.
“No matter how others scolded me, criticised me, praised me or belittled me, they actually meant well to help me on my spiritual cultivation.” It is likened to another bodhisattva by the name of “Belittling No One” who regarded everyone as a Buddha and prostrated to everyone whom he met with reverence.
          “I’m a commoner. The rest of the people are the Buddhas who meant well to help me in my spiritual cultivation,” which is in fact a key teaching to a practitioner. Only one who beholds such attitude can prevent himself from falling in the practice.

Reported by Sun-Moon KFS on 19-11-2016

Sunday, October 9, 2016

A Message from Olivier Faneuil in France

Olivier is the fiancée of Dharma Sister Yue in Hangzhou, China. He is from France. He came into contact with Acho Rinpoche in August 2016 when he visited Yue in China. He took part in a few of our group prayers through Internet webcast during the visit. Initially, he found it hard to appreciate our practice because Buddhism was quite foreign to him, as he was brought up in a completely western culture since young. So, he declined the suggestion by Yue to go further into the practice by taking refuge in Acho Rinpoche. Acho Rinpoche advised him that there was no need for him to take refuge hastily but they could continue to keep in touch with each other as friends through WeChat.
Through WeChat, Olivier discussed with Acho Rinpoche on the many questions he had about the practice, and Acho Rinpoche recommended him a book entitled “The Power of Now” which was written by a westerner, providing a westerner’s perspective on the practice. This book helped Olivier appreciate the teachings better. And gradually, he also gained some personal experiences which were inexplicable including seeing a rare rainbow appearing in the sky one day and a bird that seemed to be following him for some long distance; and he began to notice the change in him.
Here he is, sharing his experience with us:
Hello everyone. I'd like to share with you what I've been feeling for a few days through meditation. The first thing I want to say is I try to be present in everything I do, all day. The meditation is for me just a training for what I live everyday. Since I do that, I can feel a strong feeling of happiness inside all my body. But it's not something I ever felt before. It's stronger and always there. I just have to be quiet to feel it. I can feel it all day. My heart can be moved just when I walk in the street. I can feel people, trees. Just everything. I can't put a name to it or it will mean less than what it is. I feel good, I feel me. This weekend I told my mom, “I love you.” As far as I remember, I had never told her that. I thought I never could. I try to be a Buddha everyday. I don't care whether I can achieve that. I just try to be one. And it makes me different, a better person, or just the person we all are inside us.
Acho Rinpoche has the following advice for him, “This is bodicitta nature within us and the more your share, the more happiness will arise at present.”
May we wish Olivier a fruitful journey in search of the true purpose of life. 

Reported by Sun-Moon-KFS, Singapore.

10 October 2016

Monday, August 29, 2016

Sakyamuni Buddha's Footprint on Karimum Island of Indonesia

On 28th August 2016, a group of forty plus of us joined Acho Rinpoche on a visit to Karimum Island of Indonesia situated about 30km from the southern part of Singapore, in search of a Sakyamuni Buddha’s footprint. There is a Sanskrit inscription believed to be written in the 10th CE bearing the following translated message: “This is a holy footprint of the most revered Sakyamuni Buddha. ~~ A Mahayanist from Bengal.”

We boarded a ferry from Singapore’s Cruise Centre early in the morning. The whole journey took us about one and half hours. After arriving at Karimum Island, we had our breakfast somewhere in town before heading towards the northern part of the island. It took us about 45 minutes to drive from town to our destination, Pasir Panjang. The location is just next to a lovely beach; it is actually a granite quarry. About 100 meters from the main entrance of the quarry, there stood a small pavilion painted in yellow. The Sanskrit inscription was actually done on a boulder enshrined within the pavilion, with the words clearly visible still. We saw a few pictures of Hindu saints placed above the inscription and some used incense sticks. Just a few meters away from the pavilion, lied the Buddha’s footprint. It was a very huge foot print indeed, obviously Buddha was huge in size. Buddha left his footprint on the rock as a form of blessing, hinting the flourishing of Buddhism in this land in future. According to the locals, there are several similar footprints in this area which can be rediscovered gradually. There is a much smaller footprint next to the big one. There is a spring behind the footprints, on top of a rock. According to the locals, the spring never runs dry. Someone even tasted the spring water and found it sweet; so it cannot be just rain water collected overtime nor sea water. Acho Rinpoche led a group prayer at the Pavilion. After which, he blessed the footprints and the spring, liberating the spiritual beings and consecrating this land, wishing that Buddhism may flourish again in future like how it did in the 8th CE.

Actually, between the 8th and 12th CE, Indonesia was a Buddhist country (with Vajrayana being the mainstream Buddhism); it was called “Srivijaya” then, with Palembang being its capital city in the Sumatra Island. Srivijaya was a huge empire in the south east Asia during the said period, with its territory covering the current Sumatra Island, Java Island, Peninsular Malaysia, Singapore, and the southern parts of Thailand and Cambodia. Srivijaya was located at a very strategic location, at the entrance to the Malacca Strait which is an important sea route for merchants plying between India and China. Srivijaya was in control of the Malacca Strait and built its wealth from collecting taxes from the merchants.  During the same period, there was another strong empire emerging in the north eastern part of India - Pala. Pala dominated the current Bihar Province and Bangladesh (called Bengal then). Vajrayana Buddhism also flourished in this kingdom during this time. Pala and Srivijaya established a strong diplomatic tie then which facilitated the exchange of Buddhism teachings between the two countries too.

Buddhism was flouring in the Sumatra Island then. A Sumatran prince was sent to study Buddhism in Pala as the renowned Buddhist institutions such as Nalanda, Vikramshila and the-likes were mainly within the region of Pala then. The prince spent eleven years in Pala studying Buddhism. When he returned to his homeland in Sumatra, he became a renowned Buddhist teacher and propagated the teachings actively, which contributed much to the flourishing of Buddhism in Srivijaya. He was Dharmakirti - the teacher of the renowned Atisha. As Pala and Srivijaya became the strongholds of Buddhism in the region then, both countries had established their own renowned Buddhist Institutions attracting many Buddhist scholars. Atisha from Bengal went to Sumatra to study under Dharmakirti for twelve years. Atisha was in Srivijaya around the time when the Sanskrit inscription was done, which made him the likely candidate who did the inscription found in Karimum Island. According to our tour guide, the history about this Sanskrit inscription and the Buddha’s footprint could be found in the British Museum. We will need a volunteer to study the historical artefact kept in the British Museum to confirm the fact then. When Atisha finally returned to India, he was invited by a Tibetan King to help rebuild the Buddhadharma in the snow-capped Himalayan region, which is yet another beautiful story to be told on its own.

 Sakyamuni Buddha's Footprint

Reported by Sun-moon KFS