Is there anything wrong with dogma?

The danger of reading something and literally sticking to it dogmatically.

Here is something I read in the book The Awakened One – A Life of the Buddha where the Buddha replied to Upaka who was asking who his teacher was.

“I have transcended all existence and become omniscient. My insight is unobstructed, and I am liberated from all desire. I have achieved this on my own, without a teacher. Because I alone in the world am completely enlightened, I myself am the worlds teacher…”

As I come upon this paragraph, I remembered some people in some dharma groups quoting and citing that the Buddha did not have a guru, and so they also do not need one. At this point I felt they are hugely egotistical to compare the self to the Universal Sage.

Please don’t get me wrong. It is noble to emulate the Buddha but ignoble to behave like one is already.

There is no substitute for a good and qualified dharma teacher who has learned from teachers before him tracing back the the Universal Sage.

As indeed the Buddha said, “I myself am the world’s teacher.” We are now 2600 years later from Buddha’s statement. Why do some think they don’t need a teacher because the Buddha did not have one?

Did the Buddha not say he is our teacher. So how do we learn from the Buddha if not from a qualified guru? Some will say, from books – but who wrote those books? Who can give us a better insight into the Buddha’s words?

A QUALIFIED GURU of course.

But we must know how to find one and follow steadfastedly.

https://uk.search.yahoo.com/search…

Keng Tan's photo.
Keng Tan's photo.

The Many Faces of Anger

anger

Here is a rather long passage that my Guru shared with his students some 10 odd years ago. It was extracted from a book “Good Life Good Death by Gelek Rinpoche”. It is very powerful and merit a good read and contemplation.

Anger takes different forms. It sneaks up upon us. First comes impatience, then irritation, a tantrum, anger, and finally hatred. There is anger that seethes, anger that freezes, anger that shakes you, and anger that bursts into rage. And then there is anger at ourselves – what we call self-hatred.

Self-hatred takes time to develop. It doesn’t just pop up. At first, it’s a dissatisfaction. Often it starts because someone planted the idea in our minds at an early age or because some desire was not fulfilled-whatever that desire may be, involving pleasure or money or a goal, however unrealistic. We work ourselves as hard as we can to fulfill that demand or reach that goal. People take two jobs. three jobs, do all kind of things. They work more, eat and sleep less, there’s no rest for body or mind, all because of a desire we impose on ourselves. We often aren’t even sure where it came from or why we’re pursuing it.

When we work hard and still cannot fulfill our dreams, we begin to develop a dislike for ourselves. We see nothing but faults. We view the fact that we could not fulfill our desires as a failure. Then we say, “That’s me, a failure.” The unfulfilled desire becomes stronger, and the sense of failure becomes stronger, so we see ourselves as incapable. We don’t like to see ourselves as a failure, so the dislike becomes stronger until it turns into anger. The anger grows until it becomes hatred. We actually begin harming ourselves.

If you are angry at yourself, that anger can surface as a dissatisfaction with life in general. Then someone begin to latch onto the spiritual to justify their sense of failure. You tell yourself you don’t care about material success. But deep down, anger and self-hatred make you think you’re spiritually well off even though you’re not. You say that material things aren’t important when the reality is you failed at material life and don’t want to admit it. So you act as though you don’t need anything, pretend to be happy about things, and pretend to be a saint. That is another typical face of anger that people don’t recognize. It will only trap you further into negativity. It will give you an excuse to drop out of life, provide a cocoon to hide in, instead of facing your problems.

“Never mind” plays the same trick. When you are talking to someone and hit a sensitive subject, they try to hide if you get too close to home. They get upset, they don’t want to show their anger, or they don’t realize they’re angry, so they say “never mind”, and try to avoid talking about it. Whether you realize it or not, it’s a symptom of anger.

Some people hide the rough edge of anger: They put on a smooth face, maybe even showing a caring and loving face, hiding their real feelings any way they can so as not to think they are giving another person pain. But really, it’s a kind of violence. For example; “I didn’t lose my temper. I kept my cool, and he got angry.” Then they take pleasure in the fact that the other person is getting angrier. That’s a case of strong anger, only wearing another face.

Repression may not look like anger, because you can’t see the desire to harm so easily, but it may harm the individual more because it’s hiding in storage. When you repress anger, you hold back and don’t explode, but you internalize your anger. You eat or you don’t eat. You start taking out your frustration on anyone – a clerk in a store, a cashier at the gas station – instead of the person you’re really angry at. Sometimes, repression can take the form of self-affirmation. You may think, “Okay, I’m going to work hard, teach him a lesson, and be the most famous person in the world.” That is also anger. It may look positive but, from a karmic point of view, it might not be.

A lot of traditions encourage repression but it can create may problems. It only buys time, delay wrong action. It may in fact contribute to building anger, and make for even greater repercussions. Rebellion is often the result of repression…\to be continued…

Perhaps one of the most important aspects in Buddhist – IMPERMANENCE

 

 

 

Buddha

A lay disciple asked Geshe Potawa which Dharma Practice was the most important if one had to choose only one. The Geshe replied:

If you want to use a single Dharma practice, to meditate on impermanence is the most important.

At first meditation on death and impermanence makes you take up the Dharma; in the middle it conduces to positive practice; in the end it helps you realise the sameness of all phenomena.

At first meditation on impermanence makes you cut your ties with things with the things of this life; in the middle it conduces to your casting off all clinging to samsara; in the end it helps you take up the path of nirvana.

At first meditation on impermanence makes you develop faith; in the middle it conduces to diligence in your practice; in the end it helps you give birth to wisdom.

At first meditation on impermanence, until you are fully convinced, makes you search for the Dharma; in the middle it conduces to practice; in the end it helps you attain the ultimate goal.

At first meditation on impermanence, until you are fully convinced, makes you practise with a diligence which protects you like armour; in the middle it conduces to your practising with diligence in action; in the end it helps you practise with a diligence that is insatiable.

And Padampa Sangye (a famous Indian siddha 11th-12th century) says:

At first, to be fully convinced of impermanence makes you take up the Dharma; in the middle it whips up your intelligence; in the end it brings you to the radiant dharmakaya.

Unless you feel this sincere conviction in the principle of impermanence, any teaching you might think you have received and put into practice will just make you more and more impervious to the Dharma. He also said:

I never see a single Tibetan practitioner who thinks about dying;
Nor have I seen anyone live forever!
Judging by their relish for amassing wealth once they don the yellow robe, I wonder-
Are they going to pay off Death in food and money?
Seeing the way they collect the best of valuables, I wonder-
Are they going to hand out bribes in hell?
Ha-ha! To see those Tibetan practitioners makes me laugh!
The most learned are the proudest,
The best meditators pile up provisions and riches,
The solitary hermits engross themselves in trivial pursuits,
The renunciates of home and country know no shame.
Those people are immune to the Dharma!
They revel in wrong-doing.
The can see others dying but have not understood that they themselves are also going to die.
That is their first mistake.

Meditation on impermanence is therefore the prelude that opens the way to all practices of Dharma.

(Extracted from Words of my Perfect Teacher)

Man-Made Social Rules

thinkWhen is it right to go to the lavatory but not the toilet or when it is right to sit on the sofa in the drawing room but not to sit on the settee in the lounge…These are some of the man-made social rules that are ‘drawn-up’ to divide people – Disgusting…Oops, watch what you wear too – you can be easily judged by what you wear….brown shoes? suits? whatever – mind boggling indeed…

I see no difference at all – only one with a deluded mind would have you believe everthing they believe. In the same way, I see no social difference in the 3 yanas of dharma training but many would disagree with me…

Betrayal

the-betrayalWhen I came across an article like Judas’ betrayal of his master,  I was curious why he did that to his master who is deemed the Messiah?

There are a couple of views on this matter: firstly, he was not a firm believer that his master was the Messiah and secondly, he was a greedy opportunist, who took advantage of his master’s ‘fame’ to loot from the goodwill of his masters followers.

It seems that his master already fore saw his disciple’s betrayal and in the end, he was forgiven together with everyone else – “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.”

I also wonder sometimes why certain types of people go to houses of worship when in all honesty, they are not there to for self improvement.  But, there are those that genuinely want to change but due to strong attachment to worldly matters, in the end, were unable to change permanently and revert to their ‘old’ selves..

I also always wonder why highly attained teachers with their powers of clairvoyance and able to see what is coming with certain students, would still take them in knowing that the teacher-student relation is sealed for ‘life’. I guess it must be the teachers’ great compassion which seem to be able to override the ‘rule book DON’Ts”, thereby allowing the students the ability to collect some form of merits which they would not otherwise receive based on their inherent ‘bad’ behaviour.

Most ‘back sliders’ would support their actions based on worldly intelligence but there is clearly a difference between  worldly ‘intelligence and wisdom as the proverbial saying which holds true all the time – “knowledge comes from learning and wisdom comes from living”.

In Buddhism, we say our minds are filled with delusions that focus much on the self, and it’s close relation, the ego.

To end this note, I would like to share a parable I read years ago from the Bible, known as the parables of the two sons. It goes like this:

“There was a man who had two sons. He went to the first and said, ‘Son, go and work today in the vineyard.’ ” ‘I will not,’ he answered, but later he changed his mind and went.

“Then the father went to the other son and said the same thing. He answered, ‘I will, sir,’ but he did not go.

Which of the two did what his father wanted?” Jesus asked his disciples.

“The first,” they answered and Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, the tax collectors and the prostitutes are entering the kingdom of God ahead of you.”

Isn’t this a great parable that makes the reader guessing.  Just imagine yourself as the father – what do you think?

 

the-saddest-thing-about-betrayal-is-that-it-never-comes-from-your-enemies-quote-1

I will not be pulled into conflict

Resource: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/i-will-not-be-pulled-into-conflict.html

Some people think if they trust Trijang Rinpoche they are against H.H. Dalai Lama. Some people think if they have faith in H.H. Dalai Lama which they should, they cannot accept Trijang Rinpoche. That is wrong view. Certainly H.H. Dalai Lama is a high incarnation, highly attained and one of the greatest scholars of Buddhism in this world. He really practiced the sacred teachings and became attained…lifetimes ago and incarnate to benefit others. But His Holiness the Dalai Lama was not the only one. Many great beings male and female, high and ‘low’ practiced and became highly attained. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche was one of these. One highly attained being cannot be better than another one. It’s just how they manifest. Highly attained beings all should be respected and they can manifest as Kings, Queens, ministers, generals, homeless, monks, nuns, scholars, bridges, animals, animate and inanimate beings. Never limit the abilities of enlightened Ones. Therefore we can respect and have faith in both Trijang Rinpoche and H.H. the Dalai Lama. I do. I do not see conflict.

Sometimes enlightened beings can manifest ‘conflict’ for a higher purpose, the great senior monks of Gaden used to relay to me. I respect all lamas. These are my views. You may have your own and I respect it, but respect my views too. I’ve always for the last 30 years had natural spontaneous faith in H.H. the Dalai Lama. When I first saw a picture of Trijang Rinpoche in Howell, New Jersey, I spontaneously cried from deep natural faith. It still happens now. Whenever I read about His Holiness, I also gained greater faith. It’s from inside of me. Some people say my faith in these beings are ‘questionable’. But you know what, that is their own opinion. They don’t know me. Nor have ever met me.

I do not need to agree to everything these higher beings may share, but that is my level. But I respect all great beings and not say negatives. Just do our practice. Gain compassion. Gain wisdom. Gain tolerance. Bring peace to everyone and everywhere we go and don’t create conflict. This is important. We may speak up or ‘fight’ for our views and rights, but do it in a way that gives honor to our practice and what it stands for.

Tsem Rinpoche

P.S. For me I make no distinctions between any lamas and their views. Each lama has their way to guide their students to enlightenment. Hence 84,000 teachings by the Sage Shakyamuni the Conqueror. So we should never get into conflicts and criticize this or that lama. In Buddhism we are suppose to be kind to even ghosts, beggars, thieves, snakes and all sentient beings. All deserve compassion. So the least we can do is refrain from negativities. Our job in dharma is not to find who is right or wrong in others, but to find who is suitable for us and respect all other teachers, traditions and their methods. I will never go against any lama or be pulled into criticizing anyone. I have my practice from Kyabje Zong Rinpoche which some may like and some may not, but it suits me and I will continue. I will never give up any practice my guru gave me 31 years ago. No other guru or student will convince me otherwise. I have examined Zong Rinpoche and his teachings in terms of suitability for me and how they helped in my life to become a better person and that is good enough for me. I remain firm and loyal to my teacher/lineage and practice while respecting everyone else’s. I respect all and will continue to. My job in this life is to create peace, compassion and tolerance in my mind and hopefully affect the environment around me to be happy. I have a long way to go, but I will get there. Thank you very much.

I personally really feel warm to see this picture. It is His Holiness Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche bestowing a set of initiations to His Holiness the young 14th Dalai Lama. Kyabje Trijang Rinpoche had conferred teachings, oral transmissions, commentaries and vast corpus of Dharma to His Holiness the Dalai Lama for over thirty years. This teacher and disciple relationship is sacred and should be respected in Tibetan form of Buddhism. Especially in Tantra where attainments are fully dependent on our respect and trust in our teachers and to never blame, begrudge or abandon him or his teachings. We should never listen to the negative talks of others about our teachers and what he kindly bestowed upon us. If by karma we find it hard to be with a teacher, respectfully ask to be excused but never criticize or justify it publicly or privately. It will not help your mind, the minds of others and our spiritual development.

Sometimes we can have two teachers that manifest opposing views. We can choose the view we find suitable to us and not criticize the other ‘opposing’ view. Dharma is individual. This is especially important for students who have received teachings, practices and initiations from various teachers who have manifested ‘opposing’ views like I have. Which teacher to choose? Our job is not find right or wrong, but to practice the best we can to be a beneficial person in society. Our practice and behavior will show the wisdom of our teacher through us. We choose the teachings that suit us and still respect the teachers who shows ‘opposing’ views. I have teachers who have opposing views of different spiritual practices, so my views have to suit those in the same situation. I am not allowed to choose or have that option so please understand. I have to respect all my teachers. All fifteen of them. You may not be in this situation, but I am. In Gaden, we had to go to various teachers for teachings. That is my humble opinion.

I often get criticized for picking one teacher’s views instead of another. Or coerced to choose. I have teachers who have manifested conflicting views and I have to find a way to come to terms with it peacefully and respectfully. But I know my Dharma enough and I choose the teacher that has impacted a great change in my life. I do not follow teachers because they are famous, well known, wealthy, have many followers or influential. This does not affect my decision alone. Many great lamas had teachers who were simple hermits in caves and in reliance on their teachers, they gained liberation. Read the stories of the 84 Mahasiddhas. I follow the teacher who touches my heart and inspired me to change from a selfish, angry, intolerant and difficult person to be better. After all our actions create our karmas and their effects we dread. So if our actions change due to our mind, this is the kindness of the teacher and how he/she impacted our minds. Ultimately whatever the views of the teacher, he/she has changed my mind to look within and to change from within. To this teacher I owe everything especially my transformations. I don’t care what this teacher prayed to, practiced or not practiced, liked or disliked or still doing. I don’t care if my teacher prays to a tree believing it is Manjushri. I will not criticize any teacher and I will never abandon my teacher who showed me that being tolerant, compassionate and working for others is the true meaning of my life. True spirituality is tolerance, forgiveness, kindness and compassion in action. I am far from it, but I am inspired enough to keep practicing until I achieve these qualities. I thank and bow to my teachers eternally. All of them. I do not see or get involved with conflict. I respect all teachers who train their students with utmost compassion and in the best circumstances they can. I will not point fingers and say this teacher or that teacher is good, bad, wrong, right or whatever. I am not the judge, jury and executioner of any teacher or tradition or practice, but a humble, simple and afflicted denizen of samsara doing my best. We only can decide for ourselves which teacher is right for us and no one else can decide for us.

Good luck everyone!

Tsem Rinpoche

 


 

我不会让自己卷入冲突中

有些人认为,只要他们相信赤江仁波切,就等于是跟至尊嘉瓦仁波切做对。反之,只要他们对嘉瓦仁波切有信心(他们本该如此),他们就不能接受赤江仁波 切。这是错误的看法。至尊嘉瓦仁波切肯定是一位高证量转世高僧,也是当今世上最伟大的佛教学者之一。他确实修持殊胜的教诲,并在好几世以前即获得证悟,乘 愿回来利益众生。然而,至尊嘉瓦仁波切并不是独一无二的。许多高僧大德,无论是男性或女性,修行地位高或“低”,皆获得高证量。赤江仁波切就是其中一位。 一位高度觉悟者的修为不可能比另一位来得高。那只是他们化现的方式。我们该尊重所有拥有高证量的觉悟者。他们可以化现为国王、皇后、将军、流浪汉、僧人、 僧尼、学者、桥、动物、有生命和没有生命的物体。切勿为觉悟者的能力设限。有鉴于此,我们可同时尊敬赤江仁波切和至尊嘉瓦仁波切,也对他们生起信心。我个 人是如此。我并不认为这两者之间存有任何冲突。

有时候,证悟者会为了更崇高的目的,而示现“冲突”——甘丹寺的资深僧人曾对我转达这样的信息。我尊重所有喇嘛。这都是我的看法。你或许有本身的看 法,我尊重你的看法,但也请你尊重我的看法。我这30年来对至尊嘉瓦仁波切的信心是自然且由衷的。当我第一次在新泽西霍威尔看见赤江仁波切的圣像时,内在 深沉自发的信心让我不由自主地哭了起来。即便至今仍是如此。每当我读到至尊嘉瓦仁波切的故事,我也同样生起很大的信心,这都源自我的内心深处。有些人说我 对这些觉悟者的信心是“不可靠”的。然而,你知道吗,这只是他们个人的看法。他们并不认识我,甚至跟我素未谋面。

我不需要认同这些高度觉悟者所分享的一切,但这只代表我个人的修为程度是如此。然而我尊重所有伟大的智者,也不会说一些关于他们的负面的话。专注于 我们本身的修行,证得慈悲,证得智慧,证得宽容。在每个地方给每个人带来宁静,不制造冲突。这很重要。我们或许会畅所欲言或为本身的看法和权益作出“斗 争”,不过请以敬重本身修行和代表本身修行的方式来进行。

詹杜固仁波切

备注:对我而言,我并不会加以区分任何一位上师和他们的观点。每位上师自有一套引领弟子通往证悟之道的方法。正因如此,智者释迦牟尼佛才传授了8万 4千种法门。我们不该卷入冲突之中,进而批评这位或那位上师。佛法教导我们即便是面对鬼魂、乞丐、小偷、蛇和一切有情众生都该心怀善心。一切众生都该被慈 悲以待。我们能做到的,至少是克制自己去作出负面的行为。我们学佛并不是为了找出谁对或谁错。反之,我们要在寻找适合自己的上师的同时,也尊重其他所有上 师、传承和他们的传法方式。我绝不会违背任何上师或让自己卷入批评任何人的纠纷中。我从宋仁波切处获得我的修持,也许有些人会喜欢或不喜欢这些修持法门; 无论如何,它们适合我,而我也会继续修持下去。我将不会放弃我的上师在31年前传授给我的任何修持法门。没有任何一位上师或弟子能劝服我放弃它们。在此之 前,我已经观察了宋仁波切和他的法教,明确知道他是否适合我,我也知道这些法教能如何帮助我成为更好的人。对我而言,这就够了。我在对我的上师/传承和修 持上保持坚定立场和忠诚的同时,也尊重别人的抉择。我尊重所有人,并且会继续如此做。我今生的任务是在心中生起和平、慈悲和宽容,希望从而使得周遭环境也 变得快乐。前方的路还很长,但是我终究会抵达目的地。感谢大家。

这张照片让我感到非常温馨。这是至尊赤江仁波切赐予年幼的第14世嘉瓦仁波切灌顶时拍摄的照片。赤江仁波切用了超过30年的时间,赐予至尊嘉瓦仁波 切系列教诲、口传、释义和许多珍贵佛法。在西藏佛教中,这段殊胜的师徒关系确实应该让人肃然起敬。这种关系在密续修持中尤其显得重要,因为一名弟子的成就 全取决于他对上师的尊重和信任,与此同时不非难、不埋怨,也不背弃上师或他的教诲。我们不该听信他人对我们上师的批评,若有人恶意扭曲上师慈悲地赐予我们 的一切,我们也不应予以理会。如果因为业力的缘故,我们无法跟从某位上师,请以尊敬的态度要求退出,但切勿公开或私下批评或合理化我们的决定。这对我们或 他人的心灵并不会带来任何好处,对我们的修行也没有任何助益。

有时候,我们可能有两位上师,各示现不同的立场。这时候,我们可以选择适合自己的观点,而不是去批评另一位上师所持的“对立”观点。佛法属于个人的 修行。这对那些如同我一样,师从多位上师,接受不同教诲和灌顶,且上师们各示现“对立”立场的弟子而言尤为重要。我们该选择哪一位上师?我们的责任并不是 找出对或错,而是尽己所能去修持,让自己成为一个能造福社会的人。我们上师的智慧将透过我们的修持和行为展现出来。我们在选择适合自己的教诲的同时,仍应 尊重持“对立”观点的上师。我跟从的某些上师们对某些修持法门持有对立的观点,因此我的看法必须适用于那些跟我处于同一种境况的人。我不被允许选择或没有 抉择的余地,所以,请理解我,我必须尊重我所有的上师。我共有15位上师。你或许并不处于像我一样的处境,但是我却是如此。在甘丹寺,我们必须到不同上师 处求法。这是我谦卑的看法。

我经常被批评选择某位上师的看法而抛开另一位上师的看法,或者被迫去做出选择。由于我的上师们持相互冲突的观点,我就必须想方设法以和平及敬重的方 式解决它。然而,我对佛法有足够的了解,让我选择了对我影响最深的上师。我不因为某些上师著名、富有、跟随者众多或深具影响力而选择跟随他们。这些因素无 法影响我个人的决定。许多高僧大德的上师是住在山洞里的隐士,而他们却依靠这些上师得到解脱。去读读84位大成就者的故事吧。我选择跟随触动我心、启发我 从一个自私、愤怒、心胸狭窄和难搞的人中蜕变出来的上师。毕竟,我们的一切行为造就我们的业力,而业力的后果我们皆深感畏惧。假使我们的行为因为心识改变 而改变,这就是由于上师的仁慈,以及他/她对我们心识产生影响的结果。最终,不管上师的观点是什么,他/她改变了我的心,让我观察自心和从内在改变。对这 样的一位上师,我将一切,尤其是我的转化完全归功于他。我不理会这位上师祈祷的对象是谁,不理会他是否曾经修持或不修持某些法门,受认同与否,也不在乎他 是否依然继续这么做。我不理会我的上师是否向一棵树祈祷,并相信那是文殊菩萨。我不会去批评任何上师,也绝不会背弃那位指引我把待人宽容、慈悲,并以服务 众生视为人生真正意义的上师。真正的灵修是以行动来实践宽容、宽恕、仁慈和慈悲。我离这目标还有一段很长的距离,但是上师的启发足以让我持续修持,直到我 拥有这些品德为止。我永远向我的上师们致谢和敬礼。对每一位上师皆是如此。我看不出或也不觉得需要卷入冲突当中。我尊重每一位以最大的慈悲心和尽己所能用 最好的方法来训练弟子的上师。我不会批评这位上师或那位上师的好或坏,对或错等等。我不是任何上师、传承或修持的裁判、评委或执法者,我仅是一个谦卑、简 单,尽己所能做到最好的娑婆众生之一。只有我们自己才能决定哪一位上师最适合我们,其他人皆无法替我们做出这个决定。

祝大家好运!

詹杜固仁波切

 

For more interesting information: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/category/dorje-shugden

Tai Chi and Spirituality

taichichuaneddie

tai chi grp

As a child I was rather timid to the extent I was somewhat bullied at school.  I have this notion that I do not want trouble and so I did not report the bully to the school to my family.  This perhaps instilled some martial arts interest in me.  From an early age, I love to watch martial arts films.

I came into spirituality some 13 years ago and I treasure everything I learned from my root master His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche.  Dharma as I would call it gave me the confidence in my life and whilst I acknowledged the change, some people claimed I became different, almost to the point of arrogance.  Perhaps when they compared one who always acquiesce to one who now understands a little more ‘truth’ and able to debate and take no nonsense, I do seem somewhat  arrogant.  Hand to heart, this was not my intention.  Perhaps, I began seeing other people’s actions as more controlling and do not wish to be subject to any of that, which reminds me of my childhood bully days.

So, with my spiritual journey, I found it tough at times to be consistent because of my attachments to personal secular life: family, work, finance, etc.  This is unsatisfactory as dharma is about consistency and effort.  Age is catching up too and never was there a morning gone by when I would wake up with aches in my joints, usually the arm joints.

So it was that I was watching a tv series called Tai Chi and decided to sign up at a local gymn.  My tai chi sifu is Eddie Ong and he comes from Penang.  He is a skilled tai chi teacher who explains in detail the art of tai chi.  Tai Chi is a slow art which can be sped up into a deadly form of martial arts.  In its slow form, it likens to ‘dancing meditation’.

I felt inspired by the principles of tai chi as it balances my mindset with my spirituality and offers a tranquil way to stay healthy and at the same time bring about inner peace.

Tai Chi practice has many benefits such as:

– Develop skills for self-defense
– Foster self-awareness and confidence
– Increase energy levels
– Maintain or increase flexibility, strength and vitality
– Improve posture, coordination and balance
– Develop the ability to relax and let go of tension
– Develop inner stillness and calm
– Help deal with stress

I was quite amazed when I see people from different backgounds in the class and they have been training, some of whom, more than 10 years.  They are very polite and mindful and bow to our sifu when they come into the class.  All these are traits for a successful spiritual aspirant.

I say to myself I have to see myself through this tai chi routine as a parallel for my spiritual training.  My patience paid off and I have completed the 28 Yang Style in about one year.

In the words of my tai chi sifu, ‘Tai Chi Chuan is about Yin and Yang. It is about seeking harmony and balance. The training is in accordance with the principle and classic concept that will lead to one’s ability to resolving a conflict confidently, and yet calmly.  As one progresses and understands Tai Chi as an “Art of Life”, one will grow with it over the course of time.  As with nature one cannot forces it to happen. It takes time. It is a process which keeps on evolving.’

In some medical areas, the doctors are known to recommend patients to take up tai chi as a form of physiotherapy, helping to improve body posture and muscular weaknesses.

I love my tai chi and I would recommend anyone, any age to take this up.  It is healthy and it helps in mind training, an added boost to my spiritual training.

Good Old Questions on Dharma Practice:

think

 

 

 

 

 

 

Would it be better if one say some mantras?
Wou
ld it be better if one work for other people?
Would it be better if one renders oneself to be of service
to needy people?
Would it be better if one sits in meditation, in a temple perhaps? or
Would it be better if one circumambulate a stupa like Tibetans do?

It appears these are questions many spiritual aspirants ask of erudite masters and each time, the answer they receive was : ” each one of the above is very nice, however, it is better if one does a good practice”

So building a temple is good, but it is better to do a little dharma; meditating is good but it is better to do a little dharma; charity work is good but it is better to do a little dharma…

So what is this dharma business???

Simple: watching one’s mind; watching the direction one takes when one encounters a situation and how one deals with it – positively or negatively…if it is moving in the wrong direction, try to ‘catch’ that moment and ‘stop’ it…it is never too late to change direction, habituate positive energies, and very soon negative emotions will subside and diminish completely…

Dharma is For Everyone

Resource:  http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/dharma-is-for-everyone.html

Religion is just a label. It is the teachings of the religion that help nurture our innate goodness. Therefore I have always encouraged people of different backgrounds to practice their chosen religion with great faith and devotion.

I will never try to distract and convert people from their religious teachers to Buddhism because I believe all major religions in the world teach their followers love, peace and compassion. Kechara is the way it is today not because the beautiful people of Kechara are special, or have incredible abilities that others may not possess, but because they work very hard, long hours and respect others regardless of their social status and background. The results reflect that. There is no special secret, it is just hard work, dedication and everybody can do that. If the growth of Kechara both physically and spiritually amazes you, then I hope that you know of the hard work by dedicated people that goes on behind-the-scenes, and feel inspired to follow their footsteps by applying this good attitude in your own centres.

In Buddhism, all enlightened beings’ minds and consciousnesses are equal. The state of an enlightened mind is one that has achieved perfection of wisdom and compassion, which means there is no enlightened being greater than the other. Enlightened beings such as Shakyamuni and Cherezig appear different in our limited minds, but by nature, they are one and inseparable. However, although all enlightened beings are the same, out of their great compassion, they manifest to us in various different forms such as Medicine Buddha, Tara, Manjushri etc. And because samsaric beings like us are affected and influenced by karma, we develop a stronger form of  connection and affinity to one (or more) enlightened beings that manifest to aid us in dispelling whatever klesha we hold strongly in our mind.

In a similar way, one manifestation of Dharma is no greater than another because the essence of the teachings are the same. Whether we label ourselves as Buddhists, Christians or any other religion, the practice of Dharma transcends those labels. Practice of one’s religion does not come from the labels we give ourselves, but from actually carrying out compassionate acts as taught by our beliefs. There are many people who identify themselves as ‘Buddhist’, yet they do not truly understand or practice Dharma and there are many people who identify themselves as ‘Christians’, yet they repeatedly sin then beg for forgiveness. Is this the outcome we truly want just because we are so fixated about religious labels?

Dharma is a doctrine. To one who’s not Buddhist, it can simply be taken as advice to live a virtuous life; to a spiritually inclined person, Dharma is the essential teachings to transform the mind towards that of an enlightened being. Although it can be a part of it, Dharma is not just lighting some candles or incense every day, or going to the church or temple every week… at the end of the day, we must observe whether we remain mean, lazy, uncommitted and uncompassionate, or if we transformed to overcome our negative behaviours.

In this respect, the deities of Buddhism can appear in different forms but their essence remains the same. Compassion and love are also taught in other religions such as Christianity, even if the method of delivery to the people is different. In Buddhism there is the Buddha and in Christianity there is Jesus Christ. I will not say that Buddhism is objectively better than Christianity, but Buddhism is just the best for me and that will not change. There are many Buddhists who find that Buddhism is not the best for them and that is okay. And there may be Christians that do not find Christianity is the best for them, and that is okay too… Ultimately, it is who we become at the end of the day that is more important than any label we can put on ourselves.

We should understand this. Dharma cannot be owned by anybody or anything so labelling that only Buddhists can practice Dharma would be very incorrect… and labelling that Christians or anyone of other faiths cannot practice Dharma is not correct either, because there is nothing religious about Dharma; it is about finding ways to become a better person and lead a virtuous life. Anybody can be on the Dharmic path, not just a Buddhist. Before Lord Buddha became enlightened and started to teach, there was no labelling of Buddhism but Dharma existed before and will exist after Buddhism is no longer heard of in this world. Also, Buddha has surely manifested in parts of the universe that we do not know of and at those places, the term Buddhism may not exist. Yet the Dharma remains the same.

This article below illustrates a half-dozen examples on how the Dharma helped some Christians to deepen their relationship with God, and how they strengthened their Christian beliefs and are now better Christians by applying some Buddhist teachings in their lives. I am sharing this not to show that Buddhism is superior to other religions, absolutely not. But as an example of how some people, by keeping an open mind and not trapping themselves within the boundaries of religious labelling, have managed to find more inner peace. I wish everyone to have a great spiritual journey and may you always find peace and happiness.

Sarva Mangalam.

Tsem Rinpoche

 


 

Why are Christians Turning to Buddhism?

Six Examples by Jay McDaniel

A small but growing number of Christians in the West are turning to Buddhism for spiritual guidance. Many are reading books about Buddhism, and some are also meditating, participating in Buddhist retreats, and studying under Buddhist teachers. They are drawn to Buddhism’s emphasis on “being present” in the present moment; to its recognition of the interconnectedness of all things; to its emphasis on non-violence; to its appreciation of a world beyond words, and to its provision of practical means — namely meditation — for growing in one’s capacities for wise and compassionate living in daily life. As they learn from Buddhism, they do not abandon Christianity. Their hope is that Buddhism can help them become better Christians. They are Christians influenced by Buddhism.

 

1. Julia is typical of one kind of Christian influenced by Buddhism. She is a hospice worker in New York who, as a Benedictine sister, turns to Buddhism “to become a better listener and to become more patient.” As a student of Zen she has been practicing zazen for twenty years under the inspiration of the Vietnamese Zen teacher, Thich Nhat Hanh, whose book Living Buddha/Living Christ gave her new eyes for Christ, proposing that Jesus himself was “mindful in the present moment.” She practices meditation in order to deepen her own capacities for mindfulness, particularly as it might help her be more effective in her life’s calling. As a hospice worker she feels called to listen to dying people, quietly and without judgment, as a way of extending the healing ministry of Christ. Like many people in consumer society, she sometimes finds herself too hurried and distracted, too caught up in her own concerns, to be present to others in patient and healing ways. She turns to Zen practice because it has helped her become more patient and attentive in her capacities to be available to people in a spirit of compassion.

From Julia’s perspective, “being present” to people in a compassionate way is a spiritual practice in its own right. She calls this attention “practicing the presence of God,” and she believes that this listening participates in a deeper Listening – an all-inclusive Love — whom she calls God, and whom she believes is everywhere at once. She turns to Zen meditation, then, not to escape the world, but to help her draw closer to the very God whose face she sees in people in need, and to help her become gentler and more attentive in her own capacities for listening. In her words: “I hope that my Zen practice has helped me become a better Christian.”

 

2. John, too, is a Christian who practices meditation, but for different reasons. He suffers from chronic back pain from a car accident several years ago. He has turned to meditation as a way of coping more creatively with his pain. “The pain doesn’t go away,” he says, “but it’s so much worse when I fight it. Meditation has helped me live with the pain, instead of fighting it all the time.” When people see John, they note that he seems a little more at peace, and a little more joyful, than he used to seem. Not that everything is perfect. He has his bad days and his good days. Still, he finds solace in the fact that, even on the bad days, he can “take a deep breath” and feel a little more control in his life.

When John is asked to reflect on the relation between his meditation practice and Christianity, he reminds his questioner that the very word Spirit is connected to the Hebrew word ruach, which means breathing. John sees physical breathing – the kind that we do each moment of our lives – as a portable icon for a deeper Breathing, divine in nature, which supports us in all circumstances, painful and pleasant, and which allows us to face suffering, our own and that of others, with courage. “Buddhism has helped me find strength in times of pain; it has helped me find God’s Breathing.”

 

3. Sheila is an advertising agent in Detroit who turns to Buddhism for a different reason. She does not practice meditation and is temperamentally very active and busy. But over the years her busyness has become a compulsion and she now risks losing her husband and children, because she never has time for her family. As she explains: “Almost all of my daily life has been absorbed with selling products, making money, and manipulating other people’s desires. Somewhere in the process I have forgotten what was most important to me: helping others, being with friends and family, and appreciating the simple beauties of life. Buddhism speaks to my deeper side.”

When Sheila reflects on the relationship between Buddhism and Christianity, she thinks about the lifestyle and values of Jesus. She recognizes that Jesus himself had little interest in appearance, affluence, and marketable achievement, and that he was deeply critical of the very idea that “amassing wealth” should be a central organizing principle of life. She doubts that Jesus would approve of the business culture in which she is immersed, in which the accumulation of wealth seems to be the inordinate concern. For her, then, Buddhism invites her to rethink the values by which she lives and to turn to values that are closer to the true teachings of Christ. “I find this simpler way challenging,” she says, “but also hopeful. I hope that Buddhism can help me have the courage to follow Christ more truly.”

 

4. Robert is an unemployed social worker in Texas, who feels unworthy of respect because he does not have a salaried job like so many of his friends. He, too, has been reading books on Buddhism, “Most people identify with their jobs,” he says, “but I don’t have one. Sometimes I feel like a nothing, a nobody. Sometimes I feel like it is only at church, and sometimes not even there, that I count for anything.”

Robert turns to Buddhism as a complement to the kind of support he seeks to find, but sometimes doesn’t find, in Christianity. Buddhism tells him that his real identity – his true self, as Buddhists put it – lies more in the kindness he extends to others, and to himself, than in making money and amassing wealth. Like Sheila, he sees this as connected with the teachings of Jesus. “Jesus tells me that I am made in the image of God; Buddhism tells me that I possess the Buddha-Nature. I don’t care what name you use, but somehow you need to know that you are more than money and wealth.”

 

5. Jane is a practicing physicist who works at a laboratory in Maryland who goes to a local Methodist church regularly. For her, a religious orientation must “make sense” intellectually, even as it also appeals to a more affective side of life, as discovered in personal relations, music, and the natural world. But she also finds God in science and in scientific ways of understanding the world. She is troubled that, too often, the atmosphere of church seems to discourage, rather than encourage, the spirit of enquiry and questioning that is so important in the scientific life. Jane appreciates the fact that, in Buddhism as she understands it, this spirit is encouraged.

This non-dogmatic approach, in which even religious convictions can be subject to revision, inspires her. In her words: “I plan to remain a Christian and stay with my Methodist church, but I want to learn more about Buddhism. I sense that its approach to life can help me see the spiritual dimensions of doubt and inquiry and help me integrate religion and science.”

 

6. Sandra is a Roman Catholic nun in Missouri who leads a retreat center. Twelve months a year she leads retreats for Christians, Catholic and non-Catholic, who wish to recover the more contemplative traditions of their prayer life and enter more deeply into their interior journey with God. At her workshops she offers spiritual guidance and introduces participants to many of the mystics of the Christian tradition: John of the Cross, Teresa of Avila, Meister Eckhart, Hildegard of Bingen. Even as she does this, she herself is on the very journey to God, and she makes this clear to people who come her way.

Sandra turns to Buddhism because she believes that its teaching of no-ego or no-self, when understood experientially and not just intellectually, is itself an essential dimension of the journey to God. She sees this teaching as complementary to, and yet enriching, the teaching of “death and resurrection” that is at the heart of Christian faith. In her words: “Christianity and Buddhism agree that the spiritual pilgrimage involves an absolute letting go, or dropping away, of all that a person knows of self and God. Indeed, this is what happened in Jesus as he lay dying on the cross, and perhaps at many moments leading up to the cross. Only after the dying can new life emerge, in which there is in some sense ‘only God’ and no more ‘me.’ I see the cross as symbolizing this dying of self and resurrecting of new life that must occur within each of us. Buddhism helps me enter into that dying of self.”

 

As you listen to their stories, perhaps you hear your own desires in some of them? If so, you have undertaken an empathy experiment. You need not be “Christian” or “Buddhist” to do this. There is something to learn from them even if you are not religious at all. Don’t we all need to live by dying? Don’t we all need to listen better? Don’t we all need to inquire and seek truth? There is something deeply human in their searching, and deeply human in our willingness to learn from them, even if we don’t share their faith. And even if we do.

[Source: http://www.bbncommunity.com/why-are-christians-turning-to-buddhism/]