Sunday, April 30, 2017

Exposition of Lotus Sutra by Acho Rinpoche - 1

Tonight, we did a Boddhisattva Majushri Prayer on the day of his birthday. After which, Acho Rinpoche shared with us a few key practices which could help us attain spiritual realization in this world.
In Mahayana Buddhism, there is a practice on the recitation of the name of Amitabha Buddha which could help the practitioner gain a rebirth in the Western Blissful Pure Land of Amitabha Buddha in his next life, despite the fact that his negative karma has yet to be fully eradicated by then. There are nine levels of such birth in the pure land, depending on the level of spiritual accomplishment of a practitioner during his life on earth; the higher his spiritual attainment in this life, the higher the form of existence he would attain in his next life in the pure land. However, the pace of one’s spiritual advancement in a pure land will be a lot slower than that on earth because of the perfect living condition in a pure land that poses no temptations to a practitioner that would test him further on his weaknesses. Those who gained a lower level of births in the pure land would not be able to meet Amitabha Buddha personally immediately either, as it would take a long time for the lotus bud within which he resides to blossom. That explains why there are various realms within the Western Blissful Pure Land including a Common Land shared between the enlightened ones and the non-enlightened ones, an expedient Land of Non-ultimate Enlightenment, a Land of Enjoyment Body and a Land of Ultimate Enlightenment and Luminosity.
In Vajrayana Buddhism, although there is a very superior practice of “Instantaneous Enlightenment in a Single Lifetime”, it is not easy to accomplish such practice because there are four stages of empowerment that must be accomplished by a practitioner stage by stage. When a practitioner embarks on the second stage of empowerment, he must renounce his layman lifestyle and enter a strict retreat in order to accomplish the inner heat yoga with full concentration. There is another Vajrayana practice which is even more superior – Dzogchen (The Great Perfection), which includes the One Hundred Deities Yoga that could help one leap from the first stage of empowerment straight into the final stage of Dzogchen. Acho Rinpoche is a master from this very superior Nyingma Dzogchen lineage, who transmitted a special Guru Yoga Practice with the Sun-Moon-Lamp Buddha being regarded as the Root Guru; the immense blessing power of this practice can help expedite the accomplishment of a practitioner.  
Next, Acho Rinpoche stressed the important of the Lotus Sutra again. This sutra has a special connection with the Sun-Moon-Lamp Buddha. In numerous aeons ago, there were a total of 20,000 Buddhas appearing in this world who had the same Buddha title as “Sun-Moon-Lamp Buddha”. The last Sun-Moon-Lamp Buddha who appeared in this world was a king with eight sons. His eight sons followed him on the spiritual path. He taught for a long time, for a long period that lasted about 60 small aeons. Finally, he handed over this spiritual lineage to Bodhisattva Wonderful Light (who became Bodhisattva Manjushri in future). Wonderful Light continued to teach the eight princes, and the youngest prince became Dipankara Buddha in future. Dipankara Buddha transmitted his teachings to Sakyamuni Buddha in future. Such was the superior spiritual lineage transmission among the Enlightened Ones. Therefore, Acho Rinpoche advised us to read the Lotus Sutra diligently, apply the teachings in our daily activities, and aspire to propagate the teachings of Lotus Sutra in future. Lotus Sutra pointed out the Buddha Nature within all sentient beings, saying that all sentient beings could become Buddhas one day. The actual practice of the Six Paramitas (Six Perfections) will help us attain the state of Buddhahood one day. Besides, there is another sutra of equal importance (大通方广忏悔灭罪庄严成佛经), which Acho Rinpoche advised us to do the same. When one attains a spiritual union with Sun-Moon-Lamp Buddha, he will be able to attain the state of Buddhahood in this very lifetime or minimally, he would be able to attain the state of Buddhahood during his bardo (a period between death and the next rebirth).  
Lastly, Acho Rinpoche advised us to recite the heart mantras of Guru Rinpoche and Green Tara incessantly for at least one billion times, to form the basis of our spiritual cultivation. He reckoned that it is not easy for us to complete the practice of the Four Foundations (Ngöndro) for 100,000 rounds each during this lifetime, so he suggested an alternative solution instead which is more achievable by the layman practitioners in this era.  
Thus have I heard, the most supreme teaching which is hard to come by in the longest times beyond imagination. I shall, therefore, aspire to practise with vigor, in order to realise the true teachings of the Buddha.

Reported by Sun-Moon KFS on 29-4-2017 in Singapore

Sunday, April 23, 2017

X-Tour: Laos

In January 2017 Murakami Haruki, a renown Japanese writer, published his new book entitled Tell me what does Laos have to offer?. He shared with the readers that when he was transiting via Hanoi airport after visiting Vietnam, a Vietnamese asked him, Tell me what does Laos have to offer? Murakami was dumfounded by that question because he really did not know much about Laos, except the little information he read from Wikipedia. Is that not the exact purpose of making a tour for one to find out the what?
In the 70s, when I was still studying in the university, I took part in a cultural exchange programme that brought me to several tertiary institutions in Thailand, travelling from Bangkok to Chiangmai. Later, I visited Thailand a few more times. We also visited Cambodia and published a book named after its ancient name Chân Lp. And we published two more books on Vietnam after visiting this country. We just kept missing Laos due to some reasons. However, we had never forgotten about Laos which seemed to be lingering in our minds all this while. As time went by, our longing for Laos became stronger. When we set our foot in the golden triangle in the North Thailand, we were calling Luang Prabang quietly in our hearts.  
    In 2016, we visited Sikkhim of India. Dharma Sister Mei won herself two free tickets to Laos in a lucky draw because she paid for our expenses using her credit card. Her free tickets ended up creating an opportunity for us to finally visit Laos, thus establishing a spiritual connection between us and her land and people.  
    In August 2016, we flew to Laos. Murakami only stayed in Luang Prabang when he visited Laos. However, we travelled all the way from Luang Prabang, to Xiangkhouang, Vang Vieng and finally returning to Vieng Chan. Throughout the journey, we came across many temples and Laos people, fostering a spiritual bond with them quietly.
    Sert was our local tour guide. He became a novice monk at the age of eight because his family was poor (and the monasteries offered him a good education). He spoke fluent English. Due to our strong spiritual connection, Sert brought his wife and his two kids to the hotel where we stayed to ask for my blessing on the last day. When we were in Luang Prabang, we went to a massage parlor to relax ourselves. Sert recommended a Lotus Spa Centre, where we discovered a few pictures of White Tara hanging on the walls, which was indeed a very strange phenomenon in a country that practised mainly Teravada Buddhism. None of the workers in the shop could tell who was the deity in the picture. Sert guessed that the deity in the picture might be Mother Mary of Christianity; Laos people only recognized Sakyamuni Buddha of Teravada Buddhism. I was amused by our interesting discovery. I asked the rest, Did I not chant the heart mantra of White Tara when we were cruising the Meikong River just the other day? Did White Tara not descend and help in delivering the souls in the Bawo Cave of One Thousand Buddhas?
During our flying journeys between Singapore and Vieng Chan, we witnessed a huge sun halo and many rainbows appearing in the sky when we looked out the windows. Those were signs that we were in the company of the Vajra Protectors at all times.
Murakami merely brought back his memories of a few places of Laos at the end of his tour. He said that he could still remember the smell, sounds and touch of such places. And there were special auras, breezes and voices of someone in those places which still lingered in his mind. The resonance within his heart is something which a picture can never offer.
What did we bring back from Laos then? Was it the strong love of White Tara? It was indeed an extra-ordinary tour made possible by a group of globetrotters and White Tara.
Acho Rinpoche
 Meikong River

 Bawo Cave of One Thousand Buddhas

 The mystical Plain of Jars
 Padi Fields
 The National Emblem of Laous - The Stupa
A rainbow appeared beneath our airplane

Friday, April 14, 2017

Our Choice of Life

Tonight, we did a Avalokitesvara Prayer because today was the birthday of Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. After which, Acho Rinpoche shared with us on a letter left behind by the late Yangthang Rinpoche of Sikkim, who passed away recently. He left behind a letter giving advice to a niece but it is clear that the teachings in the letter were meant for the rest of world.
Yangthang Rinpoche advised us to ponder the purpose of life and choose our paths wisely, should it be the path of a commoner or a path of spiritual cultivation. For the path of a commoner, no matter how successful one is on this path, he must bid farewell to all his family members, wealth, career etc., and leave them behind when he passes away from this world, as he will not be able to bring anything along to his next life. However, the path of spiritual cultivation is a luminous path that could lead one to the ultimate liberation free of the endless cycles of birth and deaths in the Six Realm of Existence.
Yangthang Rinpoche said, out of the 40 billion human population in the world today, there are barely one hundred thousand people who have chosen the luminous spiritual path. In the current age of degeneration, the non-practitioners will naturally head for a downfall in the Three Lower Realms of Existence (animal, hell being and hungry ghost). A person should not assume that it is good enough to just be a kind-hearted person because almost everyone is competing with one another out of his self-interest, which is the reason for a downfall. When one falls into a lower realm in his next life, he will be stranded in a miserable state of existence not for a short period of one or two years but for millions of years! A human existence is a very precious condition for spiritual cultivation. However, if a practitioner does not take it seriously, he will fall into the Three Lower Realms of Existence too. Sakyamuni Buddha and the past patriarchs had been repeating the same teachings from generation to generation, which goes to show the truth of such maxims.
Acho Rinpoche reminded the audience that we may not necessarily be walking on a luminous path unless we abide by the precepts, be humble and do not assume that we have done better than others; otherwise, we will fall into the evil path too. If we made mistakes, we should just repent our mistakes and make amends.  
Acho Rinpoche advised us that a person who leads in group prayers must aspire to help all sentient beings including taking on the negative karma of the sentient beings. He was experiencing excruciating pain in his swollen palm lately. One day, he placed his swollen palm above an incense burner in his shrine and saw the numerous spiritual beings coming out from his palm. Such is the process of soul deliverance, where one has to let the spiritual beings reside within his body for a period of time in order to undergo the cleansing process for eradicating their negative karma, before they could be delivered to the next rebirth.
Sadhu! Sadhu!  

Relevant link: Yangthang Rinpoches letter for his niece

Reported by Sun-Moon KFS on 19-10-2016, from Singapore

Saturday, April 8, 2017

The Enigmatic Realm of the One Hundred Deities

Tonight we did our first group prayer after returning from the One Hundred Deities Puja and Naga Vase Offering Prayer held on 24th Mar 2017 in Penang, Malaysia. After our group prayer, Acho Rinpoche invited Dharma Brother Shao to share his experience on the Penang prayer. Shao told us that he had a vision of the majestic-looking One Hundred Deities Mandala appearing in the spiritual realm during the One Hundred Deities Puja. As the puja had indeed benefited the numerous sentient beings, a special sun halo appeared in the sky and lasted a long while, clearly celebrating this wonderful occasion. Later, when we went out to the sea to offer the Naga vases, Shao had a vision of two King Dragons appearing in the spiritual realm and participating in the Naga vase offering ceremony, together with the numerous sea beings.  

Acho Rinpoche told us that during the One Hundred Deities Puja, he prayed to all the Buddhas in the universe, seeking their help to confer blessings to all the participants at the prayer. This is a very special practice that could eradicate our negative karma, increase our merits, enhance our relationships with others and eliminate adversities befalling us. The power of such blessing was so tremendous that all the late ancestors of the participants were fully delivered; those who skipped this prayer for the reason of ancestor worshipping due to the Qing Ming Festival had truly missed a golden opportunity that could help their late ancestors more effectively.  
Acho Rinpoche reminded us about the next Green Tara Puja scheduled to be held in Kuala Lumpure, Malaysia on the 13th of May 2017. He advised us that a practitioner who has attained a spiritual response with Guru Rinpoche and Green Tara will certainly fully accomplish his spiritual practice in this very lifetime.  
Tonight, Dharma Sister He from Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province of China took refuge in Acho Rinpoche. She was introduced to Acho Rinpoche by another student of Acho Rinpoche, Dharma Sister Pan. After which, He joined us several times in our group prayers through Internet webcast. She had a special dream recently where she prayed to Acho Riponche in her dream when she found herself in danger, and her prayer worked and freed her of the danger. So, she felt that it was time for her to take refuge in Acho Rinpoche now and decided to do so tonight. Sadhu! Sadhu! 
Sun-Moon KFS reported on 1st Apr 2017 from Singapore


Saturday, April 1, 2017

One Hundred Deities Puja & Naga Vase Offering in Penang, Malaysia


On 24th March 2017, Acho Rinpoche presided over a One Hundred Deities Puja and Naga Vase Offering Prayer jointly with H.E Konde Rinpoche, Gunga Tashi Khenpo and Jigme Khenpo in Penang, Malaysia, with Venerable Dhammadina assisting in the oral translation.  
It was indeed an exceptional prayer because the One Hundred Deities is a special teaching that can help one who hears it, sees it or practises it attain the state of Buddhahood effortlessly. According to Konde Rinpoche, the heart mantra of the One Hundred Deities is the collective heart mantras of one hundred Buddhas, and the power of blessing from one hundred Buddhas is so powerful that it can help cleanse the negative karma of the recipient and help him attain the state of emptiness and Buddhahood during his bardo state (the period between one's death and his next rebirth). This method is different from the recitation of the name of Amitabha Buddha for the purpose of gaining a rebirth in the Western Blissful Pure Land, where he will need to continue doing his practice there until attaining the ultimate state of Buddhahood in the far future.   
The blessing of the One Hundred Deities can help a deceased recognize his innate Buddha Nature during his bardo state and attain Buddhahood effortlessly. The empowerment of One Hundred Deities can therefore shut the doors of the Six Realms of Cyclic Existence and leave only one way out for the deceased – the path to Buddhahood. Furthermore, if the deceased missed the golden opportunity to recognize his innate Buddha Nature during his bardo, he still stands a final chance of gaining a rebirth in the Western Blissful Pure Land by simply thinking of Amitabha Buddha! The deceased in a bardo state no longer has a physical body that constraints his movements, as he exists only in a state of mental existence. So, when he thinks of Amitabha Buddha, he can reach the Western Blissful Pure Land instantaneously!
As we also offered butter lamps during the prayer, Konde Rinpoche shared the purpose of light offering. He advised the participants that we can offer lights for any occasion, for instance one can offer lights to pray for the success of his business, offer lights at a funeral wake or offer lights for a prayer. A deceased will plunge into a dangerous bardo state when he will see both a strong light of the Buddha appearing before him which he will tend to avoid, and a dimmer light of the Six Realms of Cyclic Existence. If he chooses the dim light which he feels more comfortable with, he will plunge into the Six Realms of Cyclic Existence once again. So, when we offer lights for a deceased, the radiance of lights and the radiance of the Buddha will merge as one and hide the dimmer light of the Six Realms of Cyclic Existence from the deceased, thus helping him to avoid being reborn into the Six Realms of Cyclic Existence. 
When a practitioner offer lights during his prayer, he can visualize the light transforms into rainbow light, and his own body transforms into a rainbow body. In the past, the great masters of Tibet would offer lights during their prayers and visualize the deities entering their bodies which gradually transform into rainbow light (over time, our mental strengths augmented by the blessing of the Buddha can actually help us transform our physical body into a rainbow body).  
Next, Konde Rinpoche explained the significance of Naga Vase Offering. There are Buddhist scriptures, holy objects and medicinal substances being placed within the vases which can help connect the sea beings with the Buddhadharma and cure them of their sickness. Of course, as we offer the Naga Vases to help the sea beings, we will gain good merits too. This is indeed a very meaningful act of kindness that can benefit the one making the offering and the sea beings. This is, in fact, a very precious teaching transmitted by Guru Rinpoche in the form of terma (hidden treasure).  
Konde Rinpoche greeted Acho Rinpoche as "The Great Master Acho Rinpoche" and invited him respectfully to give his teaching to the participants. Acho Rinpoche reminded the participants to be mindful about the impermanence of life, cherish our human existence and put it to good use by doing spiritual cultivation timely. He also told the participants that this prayer is indeed very precious for the merits generated will protect the practitioners eternally throughout his present and future existence. He stressed that a human life is only meaningful when it is being used for cultivating the Buddhadharma too; otherwise a person is simply wasting the resources on earth. Acho Rinpoche told the participants that Konde Rinpoche is an accomplished master whom might look too ordinary but should be taken seriously.  
Around mid-noon, a beautiful sun halo appeared in the sky of Penang, celebrating the wonderful prayer taking place. In the late afternoon, we chartered five boats to go out to the sea to make offering of the Naga Vases by throwing them into the sea. At this juncture, beautiful clouds appeared in the sky, celebrating the wonderful occasion. Sadhu! Sadhu!   

Sun-Moon KFS reporting from Penang, Malaysia on 24-3-2017.