Sunday, August 13, 2017

What is the practice of a Buddhist?


          Tonight, we did a Guru Rinpoche prayer. After which, Acho Rinpoche mentioned that Dharma Brother Zhong just asked him many questions related to the practice. The last question raised by Zhong was indeed a very good one: how should one practise the teachings after becoming a BuddhistAcho Rinpoche advised that a Buddhist should practise the Three Teachings viz. precepts, meditation and wisdom. Minimally, a Buddhist must abide strictly by the Five Precepts and do good. The Five Precepts include no stealing, no sexual misconduct, no excessive drinking of alcohol (drunk), no lying and no killing; a Buddhist must not transgress any of the said precepts. It is indeed difficult for anyone to eradicate his negative propensities formed after the numerous lifetimes. However, a Buddhist must henceforth resolve to gradually eradicate his negative propensities no matter how long it would take. For a person who has not attained the state of full enlightenment, he will continue to face the issues of his negative propensities; even a renowned teacher is not spared of this dilemma. Grand Master advised his students not to pick on his shortcomings but should learn his positive values instead. In addition to the need to abide by the precepts, a Buddhist should also do all actions that will bring benefit to others.   

          A Buddhist should also practise the Six Perfections (offering, discipline, tolerance, diligence, meditation and wisdom). Offering includes the offering of teachings, offering of wealth and offering of fearlessness. When one comes across a good teaching such as the Lotus Sutra, he should share the teachings with others; this is considered an offering of the teachings. Building temples, printing the teachings and helping the poor are considered the offering of wealth. When one helps to dispel the sense of fear in others and even sacrifices himself to protect others, is considered making offering of fearlessness. A person who is rich in this life must have offered his wealth to help others in his past life; such action of kindness would have helped him earn the good merits for this life. A person who is poor in this life had obviously not offered his wealth to help others in his past life; such action lacking in kindness would not have helped him earn any merit for this life. Therefore, a poor person should try his best to offer his wealth to help others in this life, so that he will earn his merits and become a rich person in his next life. A Buddha is also known as “The Holy One Who Has Perfected The Two Full Accomplishments”, which refers to his full accomplishment of merits and wisdom. Tolerance is another crucial practice of the Six Perfections. Anyone living in this world must tolerate all the adversities in life including the nagging of his wife and criticism of others etc.  When one learns to tolerate an adversity in life, he is likely to feel being treated unfairly while trying very hard not be carried away by his negative emotions; not losing one’s head is a commendable achievement. However, the ultimate teaching of tolerance actually requires a person to not feel emotional at all in the face of adversity. Diligence means doing one’s spiritual practice with vigor. Meditation is just part of the spiritual practice. Finally, our innate wisdom will naturally unfold through the practice of meditation.

          Acho Rinpoche also mentioned two cases of dispute which occurred in the Buddhist circle recently. The first case is related to a Tibetan Buddhist teacher who lives in the west, who is being accused by his westerner students for his misconducts. The second case is related to a successor of a Buddhist sect in Taiwan. The Tibetan Buddhist teacher being mentioned in the first case has been teaching in the west for about 30 years by now, who has established more than 100 seats worldwide and who has tens of thousands of westerner students. However, he was being accused by his closed disciples for his misconducts such as beating up his students and sexually assaulting his female students. His students consulted H.H Dalai Lama on how should this problem be handled. H.H Dalai Lama told the students that although this teacher is a good friend of his but the latter has indeed misbehaved. Initially, this teacher offered to enter a retreat and stopped his teachings. However, he was finally forced to fully relinquish his role as the spiritual director of all the seats worldwide. The second case is related to a Taiwanese Buddhist sect which is quite huge in size. Many of its ordained and layman students attended the teachings of H.H Dalai Lama in the past on the Lamrim (“Stages of the Path” by Master Tsongkapa). However, before the late abbot of this Taiwanese Buddhist sect passed away, he appointed a Chinese female layman Buddhist to be his successor as he believed that she is the reincarnation of Master Tsongkapa. This lady has been leading the ordained community of the sect since then, which is a clear violation of a rule set by Sakyamuni Buddha in the past. She is also being accused of having wrongful affair with a novice monk in her sect. Some of the students of this sect consulted H.H Dalai Lama on whether it is wrong for a lady to lead an ordained community, and they also complained about her other wrongful actions. Similarly, H.H Dalai Lama advised the students to publicly expose the wrongful acts of a Buddhist teacher, in order to protect the true teachings of the Buddha. Acho Rinpoche supports the rule set by Sakyamuni Buddha that a layman Buddhist must not lead an ordained community. However, Acho Rinpoche disagrees with the view that a female cannot be a spiritual leader (this is a common view held by most of the traditional Buddhist sects that belittle the spiritual capacity and attainment of a female practitioner) because historically, there are indeed great adepts among the female practitioners.    

          Acho Rinpoche said that there are all sorts of news being circulated on the Internet, with true facts and fake news mixed together, causing a lot of confusions to the readers. A practitioner will need to differentiate between the truth and fake news using his wisdom, to avoid being misled into the wrong paths; this is indeed a sad situation of the current age of degeneration. In short, the most crucial point is just that a practitioner must abide by the precepts strictly and do his daily spiritual practice with vigor.

Reported by Sun-moon KFS on 12-8-2017 @Singapore