Sunday, April 1, 2018

Five Practices of a Student

          Tonight, we did a prayer on “Seven Northern Constellations Longevity Sutra”. This is an annual prayer done around every Chinese New Year. Dharma Sister Bai from Hangzhou of China joined us in this prayer, as she was visiting Singapore during this period too, paying homage to Acho Rinpoche.
          Acho Rinpoche told us that spiritual practice is the only way to help us break free of the cyclic existence and the numerous sufferings associated with it. When a person has attained a true state of liberation, he could accomplish a task by simply putting a thought to it. So, we must follow the teachings of Acho Rinpoche fully by applying them in our daily lives -  dedicate our free time to doing spiritual practice or sadhana, and nothing else. When we have accomplished our spiritual practice, we should then aspire to help all sentient beings. We must let go of all our worldly desires, for even a single desire can become an obstacle in our path to liberation.
          Next, Acho Rinpoche continued to expound the Lotus Sutra. He said that there is no man who could truly comprehend the truth and hidden meaning expounded by Sakyamuni Buddha in the Lotus Sutra. However, we should just persevere in our recitation of this sutra and one day, we will attain the true state of being expounded by the Buddha too. He also mentioned the Five Practices of a Student accomplished and transmitted by Master Zhi Zhe of Tian Tai Sect (天台宗智者大师538-597).
1st Practice: Rejoice at the good deed of others. We should rejoice at the good deed of others, regardless of whether they are done by a person you like or dislike.
2nd Practice: Recitation of Lotus Sutra. Do not worry that we are unable to comprehend the meaning of the sutra at this stage. We should just read it daily and persevere in doing so; time will tell.
3rd Practice: Sharing of Lotus Sutra and its conceivable merits with others.
4th Practice: Simultaneous practice of the Six Perfections. While we continue to watch our minds (mental activities) for a greater self-awareness, we should also practise the Six Perfections (offering, tolerance, discipline, diligence, meditation, wisdom). Among the six perfections, one must first practise “offering”, as it can help eradicate the stinginess and the sense of ego (self-attachment) in us.
5th Practice: Applying the Six Perfections in our conduct. When we have accomplished mind-watching and the Six Perfections in both teaching and practice, we should help all sentient beings in the universe, thus truly applying the Six Perfections in our daily conduct.
When one has accomplished the Five Practices of a Student, he is considered a true Buddhist; otherwise, he has merely established a good karmic connection with the Buddha. Acho Rinpoche encouraged us to apply the teachings he shared with us tonight with full faith, as it will guarantee a success in our spiritual practice. He also mentioned that Dharma Sister Mei recently found a copy of Lotus Sutra in English translation at her home, after having it for so many years without realizing it. Some of us have also kept a copy of the Sang Gyay Say Chig Gyu (契吉大圆满子续) for ten years at our homes without realizing it. So, when the time is ripe, a hint will come from the holy beings, reminding us of the treasure in our silent possession. Lastly, Acho Rinpoche advised us to copy and read the Lotus Sutra diligently because this sutra is a compilation of the inconceivable true state of being attained by Sakyamuni Buddha.  
Finally, we ended our prayer by reciting the names of the Buddhas under the guidance of Acho Rinpoche and dedicated all merits to Hualian of Taiwan which was hit by a major earth quake – may the damage be reduced to minimal and may all sentient beings be happy, free of sufferings.

Reported by Sun Moon KFS on 14-2-2018 @Singapore

Lotus Sutra and “We are actually a Buddha”

          Today was the day when Sakyamuni Buddha passed into nirvana. It was also the day when the Most Supreme Elder was born on this earth. We did a Sakyamuni Buddha Practice tonight under the guidance of Acho Rinpoche. He wished us to rejoice in the practice of the Buddhadharma and remain firmed in our spiritual endeavor.
He mentioned Sun Da Rinpoche, who is one of the grand children of the 2nd H.H Dodjum Rinpoche. Sun Da Rinpoche grew up in China and studied under the guidance of his uncle who is also a Buddhist master. H.H Dilgo Kyentse Rinpoche recognized Sun Da Rinpoche as a re-incarnation of an accomplished Dzogchen master. Phuntsok Lama introduced Acho Rinpoche to Sunda Rinpoche earlier and the latter contacted Acho Rinpoche through WeChat recently. Sun Da Rinpoche suggested a meet up with Acho Rinpoche when the former visits Singapore in the near future.
Next, Acho Rinpoche continued to expound the Lotus Sutra. He advised us to frequently recite the title of the Lotus Sutra and a verse praising Avalokitesvara, as expounded in the Lotus Sutra. He did that during his walking meditation too. He further advised us to spend more time and energy on studying the sutras but do less on frivolous chats.
          He cited a parable in the Lotus Sutra entitled “A Hidden Gem”, in which it was said that the five hundred Arahat students being prophesized by Sakyamuni Buddha of their future attainment of Buddhahood finally knelt before the Buddha and repented their complacency of spiritual attainment, as they mistook their achievement as a completion when it was actually only half-done. A parallel was drawn from a parable about a man who became drunk after attending a party at his relative’s house. His relative hid a piece of precious gem in his shirt worrying that he might lose it in a state of drunkenness. It was meant to help him pay for his traveling expenses when making his way home. He was unaware of the hidden gem in his shirt and begged his way home instead. After reaching home and being told by his relative of the hidden gem, then only he realized what he missed. This parable gives a very clear hint on the expedient method employed by Sakyamuni Buddha in teaching his students. He had to help his students attain the state of Arahat first, although it is not a state of ultimate enlightenment, for he was waiting patiently for them to reach a certain level of spiritual maturity before he could tell them the ultimate teaching on the attainment of Buddhahood. As all sentient beings possess the most precious Buddha Nature in us, we have the potential of attaining the ultimate state of Buddhahood.  The Arahat students must be told of the fact that they are essentially a Buddha (for one to recognize his Buddha Nature), so that they would move towards achieving the goal of attaining the ultimate enlightenment of a Buddha. Without letting them know the truth of their Buddha Nature, they will never realize their real potential and they will not become a true Buddha.
Acho Rinpoche repeated another parable about “A Poor Son”. A rich man’s son lost his way home since young and became a beggar for many years. One day, he passed by his father’s home again and was being recognized by his father as his long-lost son. However, the poor son was so used to his life as a beggar that he had already became a man with very low self-esteem, who would not be able to accept the fact that he was, in fact, so rich! So, the father hid the truth from his son for the time being and just hired the latter to be his worker who were assigned very simple chores including cleaning the human waste daily. Meanwhile, the father quietly trained him up on the various skills over time. Finally, when the son was ready, the father revealed the truth and handed over his wealth to his son. You see, it has to be a very lengthy training process, as we are unable to attain the state of Buddhahood even when we are told of our real potential of a Buddha. We must go through a long period of spiritual practice, cleanse our negative propensities including lust, hatred, ignorance, arrogance, suspicion etc., accumulated through our numerous lifetimes. Only when all our negative propensities are completely cleansed and purified, we would attain the state of perfection – Buddahood! 
The Lotus Sutra aims to tell us that we are essentially a Buddha, and if we practise properly we will attain the state of Buddhahood one day. A student who was prophesized by the Buddha of his attainment of Buddhahood in future does not guarantee an instantaneous enlightenment of a Buddha, for the student must continue to work hard on his spiritual practice daily; it is liken to the poor son who must clean up the human waste daily. We have developed numerous negative propensities during our numerous lifetimes out of ignorance. So, we must sincerely repent our mistakes and make amends, eradicate our negative karma (effects of our past actions) and stop creating new ones – this is the only way that we could become a true Buddha. So what if we know that we are essentially a Buddha but continue to make mistakes? We will then just continue to be stranded in the cyclic existence of the Six Realms full of sufferings. Therefore, Acho Rinpoche re-iterated that we must continue to practise the teachings of precepts, meditation and wisdom seriously, and accomplish the training of “Five Practices of a Student” (see sharing on 14-2-2018). Only when we have fully accomplished the said practices, we will become a true Buddha. If we fail to do so, we will simply continue our life as a poor son who will continue begging and to be stranded in the Six Realms of Existence (god, human, demi-god, animal, hell being and hungry ghost).
Finally, we ended our prayer by reciting the names of the Buddhas under the guidance of Acho Rinpoche and dedicated all merits to the sentient beings - may all sentient beings be happy, free of sufferings and attain enlightenment swiftly. 
Reported by Sun Moon KFS on 31-3-2018 @Singapore