Saturday, September 30, 2017

Practice vs Study

Tonight, we did a Guru Rinpoche Prayer under the guidance of Acho Rinpoche. After which, he shared an article posted by Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche (Dzongsar Rinpoche) on the Internet. Dzongsar Rinpoche has set up many Buddhist Academies in India, Bhutan and Tibet which have produced more than one thousand ordained Buddhists today. However, he is now wondering if these students are Budddhist practitioners or mere scholars? Besides, did they learn the true Buddhadharma? Most of these students could recite the various sutras without referring to the books, and there are about one hundred Khenpos among them (Buddhist scholars) who are qualified abbot candidates for the various monasteries and qualified teachers for the various Buddhist sects. He could not help but asked himself, “How many of these Khenpos have actually attained the state of realization?” According to his observations, many of these students have become very egoistic! In fact, many of the ordained ones, scholars and Khenpos have developed a big ego as they pride themselves as scholars who are knowledgeable of  the teachings. They have lost their most genuine and original faith in the teachings. They even belittle the various spiritual practices including the chanting of mantra, meditation, circumambulation of stupas, construction of stupas etc., by saying “Well, all such things are just emptiness, we don’t need to do those.”  They are very fond of making such remarks. Next, Dzongsar Rinpoche used an analogy to explain what he meant by a scholarly study. He said, a person who has never visited the Bodhigaya in India (where Sakyamuni Buddha attained his enlightenment) will study the map first but he may not be keen to go there personally. On the contrary, there are others who thought that they had no time to study the map and simply decided to just buy an air ticket and head straight to Bodhigaya! The Khenpos have learnt about the teaching on emptiness but they may not be keen to visit Bodhigaya personally, whereas others simply embark on the journey that might be full of challenges but will certainly reach the destination eventually.
          Acho Rinpoche said that there are only two possible ways of learning the Buddhadharma: learning through practice and learning through study. Learning through practice includes going into a retreat for an intensive training or practising in our daily lives. One who merely studies the teachings in a Buddhist Academy is just learning through study. A person who does not learn the basic teachings might go astray because the spiritual path is indeed full of challenges. However, a person who learns too much of the teachings but does not apply them in his practice will never be able to break free of the Six Realms of Cyclic Existence. He came across Khenpos who appeared panic when faced with challenges, due to the lack of real practice. There are also people who had visions of the spiritual deities and auras during their practice but could not understand the reason of such experience and might go astray too. Recently, he saw a video footage on the Internet of a Taiwanese nun appearing on TV, criticizing other spiritual communities of their behaviors. She sounded hostile, arrogant and impatient. This is a sign of one knowing too much of the teachings in theory but fails to tame his own monkey mind. Acho Rincpohe said, if he must choose between practice and study, he would rather choose the former – practice! In the past, the Nyingma and Kagyud sects placed greater emphasis on the need for practice than study. However, recently there seems to be a change in their emphasis that they began to place a greater emphasis on the study of the teachings like the Gelug, stressing on the need to study the five main doctrines too. He opined that when a person over emphasizes on the study of the theoretical aspect of the Buddhadharma, he will perpetually be stranded in the realm of conceptual thinking and will never be able to attain the state of enlightenment.
          Finally, we ended our prayer by reciting the names of the Buddhas under the guidance of Acho Rinpoche, and dedicated the merits to all sentient beings - may all sentient beings be happy, free of sufferings and attain enlightenment one day.  

Reported by Sun Moon KFS on 28-9-2017 @Singapore