Saturday, March 12, 2016

Practising on the Day of Full Sun Eclipse

At around 9am today, the world was experiencing a rare astrological phenomenon of a full sun eclipse. In the past, the ancient people used to regard a sun eclipse as an inauspicious affair, thinking that the sun was eaten by a celestial dog; the people would beat the drums hard and make lots of noise in an attempt to scare the celestial dog away, protecting the sun. However, from the view point of Tibetan Buddhism, a sun eclipse is a very auspicious affair. Reason being, the pure wisdom energy within our body will automatically enter our central channel during this period, helping a practitioner attain a swift advancement in his spiritual practice. So, there is a great emphasis for a practitioner to practise with vigour on such occasions, for the merits accumulated from a positive act will increase by a billion folds. Likewise, a bad deed would also increase in its negativity by a billion folds. Acho Rinpoche saw a huge sun halo appearing after finishing his morning prayer, and he shared that it was indeed a very auspicious sign.

Tonight, Jigme Khenpo from the Sakya Buddhist College and Serap Lama from the Nyingma in India joined us for our group prayer. Acho Rinpoche invited Jigme Khenpo to give his teachings after the prayer. Jigme Khenpo explained that there were many schools of Buddhism, liken to a pharmacy filled with a great variety of medicines for treating the different ailments. All sentient beings are different by nature, due to their past karma, in terms of their mental state of being and physical appearances etc. The Six Realms of Existence is just a manifestation of the different karmas of the sentient beings. Hence, the different teachings are necessary and are equally important, as they are part of the condition for attaining Buddhahood. A practitioner should reflect inward daily, watching our inner state of mind and be aware of our lust, hatred, ignorance, arrogance and suspicion arising and fading away in our mind. We should change our negative mental and physical behaviours, and learn the practice of compassion and emptiness instead. Actually, both the cyclic existence and nirvana are but our mental fabrications. We should learn to dissect the notion of “I” (or “me”) for we will eventually realize that we are unable to really find the true existence of the notion of “I”. By then, we will be able to break free of the hallucination of “ego”, and reach the sate of enlightenment free of the sufferings of cyclic existence. We should learn to reduce our strong attachment to our world concerns, as attachment is the cause of suffering. Whether our life is smooth or otherwise, we should always remember the Three Jewels and pray to them for their blessing. When we face the adversity in life, we should understand that it is just the fruit of our past negative actions and accept it with a peaceful mind; we think and act positively, and pray to the Three Jewels for their blessing. We should aspire to help all sentient beings progress on the path to enlightenment by dedicating the merits of all our daily actions to such good course, and repeat such aspiration daily.

Acho Rinpoche shared a teaching from Dzongsar Rinpoche. Dzongsar Rinpoche is of the view that it is indeed very difficult for a Buddhist to do his spiritual practice as a lay person. Even Sakyamuni Buddha had to renounce his ordinary life as a prince and worked hard on the attainment of Buddhahood. He only returned to his family after becoming a Buddha in order to help the rest walk the same path to enlightenment. A lay Buddhist has to devote his life between spiritual practice and other daily activities on making a living and having to manage all kinds of relationship with the people in his life. How could he focus well on his spiritual practice then? Dzongsar Rinpoche advised that we should not take our usual perceptions of life too seriously as they may not be truly what we think they are. Sometimes, it would be good to blur the lines. He said, when a practitioner has understood that there is no difference between a piece of gold and a piece of stone, and that the space within his palm and that of the universe is the same, then he has attained the state of enlightenment; because Sakyamuni Buddha said so in the past.

There was a group of Chinese students joining us for the group prayer through Internet webcast. Two of them did the following sharing.

Dharma Sister Yue: “Tonight, all eight of us sat together in a circle, unlike in the past. We placed the photo of Buddha Master (Acho Rinpoche) on the table in the centre. When I entered the state of Samadhi, I had a vision that every one of us in the group emitted white light into space. As we sat in a circle, our light collectively formed a pillar of light; Buddha Master appeared within the pillar of light. I could clearly see a circle of purple light appearing on the crown worn by Buddha Master. This circle changed from the shape of a sun into a moon crescent and vice versa, repeatedly. Strong light was emitted from this circle of purple light during its changing of shapes, blessing all of us. I could feel the presence of the spiritual beings around us increased in number very quickly, and they were circling us too. The strong light emitted by Buddha Master increased in its intensity and the pillar of light continued to enlarge in size to infinity. All eight of us could feel the powerful energy of blessing that seems to be locked within our circle. The power of blessing was so great that I began to feel a slight headache and my mom had a similar sensation too. I am very thankful to Buddha Master for his blessing. My homage to Sun-Moon-Lamp Buddha. ”

Dharma Sister Min: “Buddha Master, Mayumla, Dharma Brothers and Sisters, good evening. When I entered the state of Samadhi, it was like watching a movie that I saw many majestic looking Buddhist buildings, some were westernised and some were oriental in design. I was inside a building made of yellow clay. There were many Buddha images made of yellow clay too within the building. We were all there inside the building, doing prayer. After our prayer, we saw a reflection of light on the floor in the shape of a sword. We were full of joy! I am thankful to Buddha Master. My homage to Sun-Moon-Lamp Buddha.”

Lastly, Acho Ripoche told the group that the power of blessing generated from the group prayer tonight was exceptionally huge, as it was augmented by the effect of the sun eclipse. Actually, not only the group in Hangzhou generated the great power of blessing, our group in Singapore did that too. When we visualised our foes, parents of past and present lives, our relatives and all sentient beings of the Six Realms encircling us, practising together with us and receiving the blessing from all the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas, it can generate the greatest power of blessing benefiting all. When we practise our sadhana with the aspiration, compassion and bodhicitta to help all sentient beings, it can create the largest power of blessing, benefitting the numerous mother sentient beings.

Om Mani Padme Hom.

9-3-2016 Reported by Sun-Moon KFS

Saturday, March 5, 2016

How Should We Face Our Final Moment?

Tonight we performed the practice of Cintamani Wealth Enrichment Practice. This is an annual practice that will increase the merits of a practitioner, helping him to achieve a smoother progress in his spiritual practice. A group of Chinese students in China took part in the group prayer too via Internet webcast. One of them, Dharma Sister Hui, had a vision of Yellow Jembhala during the recitation of Cintamani’s mantra. She “saw” Jembhala emitting rainbow light, blessing everyone participating in the prayer. Acho Rinpoche explained that Jembhala is the wealthiest in the universe, with him gracing the occasion would mean that everyone had truly gained a huge share of wealth. Such spiritual wealth does not necessarily translate into a monetary form, as it could also encompass other aspects of our lives including having a good family relationship, good health, good career, good inter-personal relations etc. Such spiritual wealth will provide adequate financial support to a practitioner, affording him some spare time in doing his spiritual practice while taking care of his other basic needs in life. Nowadays, there are many rich men in China but they are too pre-occupied with their businesses that they have no time for spiritual practice; such lifestyle is just meaningless.
Acho Riponche reminded us again that the purpose of our spiritual practice is to prepare us to face our final moment with confidence. When we face our final moment in life, the physical elements of our body (earth-flesh, water-fluid, fire-warmth, wind-breath) will disintegrate naturally. At that juncture, we actually stand a chance to attain Buddhahood during the bardo stage (the intermediate state of existence between death and the next re-birth) when a strong light appears. This light is extremely bright and it is a manifestation of our innate Buddha Nature; we just have to recognise it and merge into it – thus attaining Buddhahood instantaneously. However, if we fail to recognise this light, we stand a second (and the last) chance of attaining Buddahood during this bardo stage, when the second light appears in the form of One Hundred Deities. However, while some of the deities appear in peaceful forms, others appear in wrathful forms; they are actually the manifestation of our innate Buddha Nature too. If we could recognise them and merge into them, we will attain Buddhahood instantaneously during the bardo stage. However, if we fail to recognise and pass the opportunities of enlightenment (these lights disappear very swiftly), we will miss the chance of enlightenment and will now face a rebirth in the cyclic existence of the Six Realms (god, demi-god, human, animal, hell being, hungry ghost). For those who have not done spiritual practice during their life, they will not be able to recognise such critical moments during the bardo stage and will easily miss both opportunities of ultimate liberation; as they will feel terrified seeing the strong light and the wrathful deities, and will try to run away from them, thus falling back swiftly into the cyclic existence.
We need to know that during death, when the four elements of our physical body disintegrate, we will be overwhelmed by the feelings of great sufferings – the entire world appears to be collapsing, with flood and fire breaking out everywhere. The deceased will feel terrified and absolutely helpless. At this juncture, if he has a vision of a man and woman doing their sexual intercourse which arouses his sense of desire, he will swiftly enter the womb of the woman and be reborn into the Six Realms of Existence. Or he could be feeling afraid of a sudden rain and run for shelter, and entering a house or a cave – he will be reborn into the Six Realms of Existence. A myriad of illusions will appear during death, which are very powerful forces that will push the deceased back into the Six Realms of Existence without any strength of resistance.
There was a Tibetan Master who said that nowadays, 99 out of 100 people will certainly fall into the Three Lower Realms (animal, hell being, hungry ghost) after death because he saw (with his celestial eye) almost all the people walking on a street manifesting the appearance of sentient beings of the Three Lower Realms. They were, however, just ordinary people but not big villains. Why so? Actually, our current society is progressing on the wrong path, with the general community sharing and teaching the wrong values including our educational system - promoting individualism, materialism, competition etc. Our ancient society was different as it propagated the good value system based upon the teachings of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism promoting oneness, spirituality, collaborative spirit etc. Also, when a society becomes affluent, the rich will tend to kill the lives of animal for their eating enjoyment too. The world is currently in a state of chaos, with US, Russia, Middle East, North Korea etc., constantly fighting one another in wars. If the people in this world do not realize the importance of spiritual cultivation and continue to misbehave in the current way, they will have nowhere else to go but fall into the Three Lower Realms; especially those who instigated the wars and who killed others, who will only fall into the lower and more miserable hells.
Grand Master stressed that every practitioner must do his sadhana (meditative practice) at least once a day. If a practitioner aspires to attain a spiritual response with his principal deity, he must first attain the mental state of this principal deity. For instance, if his principal deity is Avalokitesvara known for being the most compassionate one, he must fully develop his sense of compassion to be of an equal state as that of Avalokitesvara. And he must choose only one principal deity for his life-long practice. Grand Master also said that if a student puts in 100% of his efforts in doing the practice, he will be able to attain Buddhahood on his own. If a student only puts in 80% of his efforts in doing the practice, Grand Master will come to bring him to the Buddhaland when the latter draws his last breath in this life. If a student only puts in 60% of his efforts in doing the practice, Grand Master will, very reluctantly, come to bring him to the Buddhaland when the latter dies. If a student puts in less than 60% of his efforts in doing his practice, Grand Master will not come to help him during his death – he needs to take care of himself then. 
Acho Rincpohe stressed that a practitioner must first attain the state of emptiness of self (egoless) before he could achieve a spiritual response with the Buddha and Bodhisattva. A practitioner cannot feel attached to anything in life, including his family, wealth etc.; otherwise such things will manifest during his death and pull him back into the Six Realms of Existence. Our daily sadhana is in fact very important, as it is designed to prepare us to face death in the correct way – recognising the path to enlightenment. Every step in the sadhana must be done with proper visualisation. Although the visualisation need not be too detailed, the key features of every deity being invoked must be visualised. For instance, when we invoke Majushri Bodhisattva, we should visualise his sword of wisdom; when we invoke Avalokitesvara, we should visualise his thousand arms; when we invoke Acala, we should visualise his burning flames etc. One day, we will finally be able to touch the hearts of these deities during the invocation with our mental strengths, and they will actually appear before us. We should also visualise the numerous sentient beings surrounding us, doing the practice together and showered by the blessing of lights from the deities. These sentient beings include our foes, parents of our present and past lives, friends and relatives, and all sentient beings in the Six Realms of Existence. This act of kindness can really help all sentient beings in relieving their sufferings and setting them on the path to enlightenment eventually. How well we can do at our final moment will depend solely on our daily preparations; it is not something that should be taken lightly. We need to practise letting go of our attachments to our worldly concerns, and constantly remind ourselves that this human world is just an illusion, and the Six Realms of Existence is just an illusion too. We should only be thinking of the Buddha and Bodhisattva at all times, as this is the only way to liberate ourselves from the Six Realms of existence at our final moment.
Acho Rinpoche also reminded us that when we turn the Mani Wheel in our hand, we should recite the Six Syllable Mantra softly to focus our attention inward. When we do the recitation of mantra, we should visualise the appearance of Avalokitesvara who shower his blessing on all sentient beings in the form of light. We should not be distracted by others during the recitation and should not be engaged in a conversation with others while turning the wheel in our hand. We practise for the purpose of actually changing and improving ourselves, but not showing off a false appearance to others.
Om Mani Padme Hom.

This is a teaching given by Acho Rinpoche on 4-3-201, extracted and reported by Sun-Moon KFS