Tuesday, November 20, 2018

X-Tour: Sri Lanka

We first planned to visit Sri Lanka twenty years ago. However, it did not materialize because of the prolonged civil war between the Tamil Tiger and the Sri Lanka Government. Four years ago, we made a second attempt to visit Sri Lanka but ended up going to Japan instead, touring Wakayama and Koyasan due to some reasons. We missed the chance of visiting this Land of Buddhism twice.

This time, prior to our visit to Sri Lanka, there was another political crisis happening within her coalition government. Nevertheless, on 3rd November 2018, 45 Dzogchen practitioners finally boarded an iron bird heading towards Sri Lanka, opening yet another chapter of X-Tour that lasted 11 days.

Our first impression of Sri Lanka was a country full of greenery. Unlike Singapore which is a man-made garden city, Sri Lanka is a natural garden city due to its lack of development – with so many forests and wilderness remain untouched.

In the next ten days, we kept circumambulating many white stupas while reciting the mantras. All the stupas in Sri Lanka appeared similar in design and white in color. The only difference lies in the sacred relics of Sakyamuni Buddha being enshrined in the various stupas, which came from different parts of his body. Every stupa in Sri Lanka is of at least 2,000 year-old and a world heritage site. Shoes are not allowed into the stupa; all visitors must take off their shoes before entering the stupa as a gesture of reverence. The locals even took off their shoes about one to two kilometers away from the stupa, walking barefooted towards the stupa. Unlike India, China or Tibet, Buddhism in Sri Lanka was never destroyed in the past since it was first introduced here more than 2,500 years ago. The positive influence of Buddhism is clearly visible in the Sri Lankan people who are very simple and pious. Many of the locals came forward to seek my blessing and I gladly obliged by touching their heads. The most fascinating moment happened one evening when we finished visiting a stupa, with a few of the local helpers who assisted us during the visit to the stupa requested my blessing and rainbows appeared above their heads after the blessing. It was indeed an inconceivable experience.

We circumambulated the Seruwila Stupa in Trincomalee located in the east of Sri Lanka. The forehead bone of Sakyamuni Buddha is enshrined in this stupa. When we did our circumambulation of this stupa in the rain, Dharma Sister Bing had a vision of lotuses appearing underneath the feet of every one of us. We were literally walking around the stupa with lotuses supporting every step we took.

We visited a British styled village in Nuwara Eliya, known as Little England. It was surrounded by mountain ranges, valleys, waterfalls and tea gardens. There was a white stupa in front of the hotel. A few of our members went circumambulating this stupa and took a few photos showing an image of that stupa in rainbow colors appearing in the sunlight. It was yet another amazing experience.

When we arrived at Kandi located in the central of Sri Lanka, the air was very cooling and refreshing. The sacred Buddha Tooth Temple was just opposite our Queen Hotel. Kandi Lake was just beside the hotel. Queen Hotel is a world heritage site too. Before we came to Sri Lanka, Mr Ke, who is the Director of China  International Relationship Exchange Center, volunteered to help connect Venerable Miao Hai with me in Sri Lanka. He told me that Venerable Miao Hai is a friend of the Spiritual Leader of Sri Lanka and could probably help us with our needs. As I did not wish to deliberately establish such connection, I told Mr Ke that we would not be able to arrange the meeting in view of our busy schedules. Little did I know that Jane, our tour leader from Universal Travel, still had her contact of a local care taker of the Buddha Tooth Temple whom she met eight years ago. She tried to call him and found out that he was still working at the Buddha Tooth Temple. However, he was not working on the day. He rushed back to the temple in an hour and made a VIP arrangement for us to pay respect to the sacred relic – a tooth of Sakyamuni Buddha. I was the first person in the queue and just prostrated to the sacred relic when I stood in front of the stupa enshrining the relic. Other temple helpers seemed to be very surprised by my action and told me that everyone was allowed to only take a look at the stupa and move on because the queue behind is very long! Ha ha!

Huge sun halos and rainbows appeared daily in the sky since the first day of our trip, when we visited the sacred bodhi tree transplanted from India more than 2,000 years ago. The sun halos kept us company when we circumambulated the many stupas. On our way to Adam’s Peak, a giant sun halo appeared in the sky, covering almost the entire sky! When Adam’s Peak was still far away from our coach, Dharma Sister Bing was chanting mantra in the coach with her eyes closed but she had a vision of a circular rainbow light emitted continuously from Adam’s Peak. When our tour guide stopped the coach to let us take photos of Adam’s Peak from afar, rainbow appeared above Adam’s Peak, with beautiful clouds appearing in the sky too.

That night, we stayed in a hotel at the foot of Adam’s Peak and did a group prayer. On the 11th of November 2018, 11 of our members led by H.E Konde Rinpoche ascended Adam’s Peak from 2am. They reached the peak at 6.11am and did a prayer before the sacred foot print of Sakyamuni Buddha. Later, Konde Rinpoche led the group in doing another prayer on Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha Terma Practice at a location where several Dzogchen patriarchs accomplished the attainment of Rainbow Body during their retreat. Konde Rinpoche buried a sacred terma vase containing the Ksitigarbha Sutra, Dzogchen teachings and the name of Acho Rinpoche at that location. He sprinkled the holy water and rice grains blessed by Acho Rinpoche on the terma. Simultaneously, I was doing a prayer too at the hotel at the foot of Adam’s Peak, blessing the terma (hidden treasure) remotely. After our prayer and breakfast, 30 of us at the hotel went to a location where there was a sleeping buddha statue, welcoming the group led by Konde Rinpoche descending from Adam’s Peak. Again, many amazing photos of spiritual aura were taken at this location.  

Konde Rinpoche said that there are two sacred places on earth. One is Bodhigaya where Sakyamuni Buddha attained his enlightenment. Another one is Adam’s Peak. 100 years after Sakyamuni Buddha entered paranirvana, the founder of Dzogchen, Garab Dorje, received his Dzogchen empowerment directly from Vajrasttva on Adam’s Peak. Garab Dorje later passed his Dzogchen lineage to Manjushrimitra. Next, Manjushrimitra passed the Dzogchen linage to Shri Singha. Next, Shri Singha passed the Dzogchen lineage to Guru Padmasambhava. Guru Padmasambhava buried 800 terma teachings at Adam’s Peak which are protected by Ekajati (One Knot). Konde Rinpoche had a dream on the very night when sleeping in the hotel at the foot of Adam’s Peak – he dreamt of Ekajati telling him that “Garab Dorje is just …. and I am the reason of all the sun halos, accompanying the group wherever you go.” Konde Rinpoche will write his 3rd book on Dzogchen Lineage and he will include this dream in the book too. I vaguely remember that in the past, Konde Rinpoche recognized me as the reincarnation of Acho Rinpoche through Ekajati too…

11 days of trip to Sri Lanka had finally came to a perfect closure. When we flew from Sri Lanka back to Singapore, a huge sun halo appeared in the sky again and our airplane was seen surrounded by a circular rainbow throughout the journey. Ekajati is indeed protecting the Dzogchen practitioner.

Written by Acho Rinpoche in Singapore on 19 November 2018

Praying below a 2,300 year-old bodhi tree.
 Praying at Buddha Tooth Temple
 Lion Rock
A Hong from Australia doing vajra martial arts.
The image of stupa appeared in the sunlight above the sun.

 Beautiful clouds and special auras

The Dzogchen Patriarch appeared above Adam's Peak in the form of cloud.
Rainbow appeared in the cloud above Adam's Peak
Konde Rinpoche and Acho Rinpoche at the foot of Adam's Peak
Blessing of terma vase and 11 members who would ascend Adam's Peak on the following day.

The group of 11 who ascended Adam's Peak led by Konde Rinpoche

Konde Rinpoche burying the terma vase on Adam's Peak

Simultaneous prayer at the foot of Adam's Peak by Acho Rinpoche while Konde Rinpoche was burying the terma vase on Adam's Peak.
 A huge sun halo appeared in the sky above Adam's Peak
Sun halo and rainbow appeared during our flight from Sri Lanka to Singapore

Rainbow light appeared above the heads of the locals after blessing.

Blessing the locals at the foot of Adam's Peak.
 Konde Rinpoche blessing the lady boss of a restaurant.
 Blessing the locals at a silk shop.
 Tour guide requesting blessing with reverence.

 Tour guide, Konde Rinpoche, Acho Rinpoche, Jane