I came from a ‘buddhist’ family and I guess I am buddhist or so I thought, I was, then. I have no idea what it means to be buddhist. I joined my school’s christian society and read the bible, took a correspondence course and scored a distinction. Every Sunday I would creep out of bed and sneak off to the church as my mother was against me becoming a christian. The old folks being worried that there will be no one around to burn incense and light joss-sticks when they are ‘gone’.
Being a christian provided me with a groundwork to develop my spiritual knowledge. Strange, there was one time a group of us gathered to be baptized by the ‘holy spirit’. All of them started speaking in ‘tongues’ and I was desperately trying to do the same. Anyway, it did not happen. I am wondering if there was anything wrong with me.
After passing my sixth form exam, I came to England, I had all the opportunity to attend church but somehow I never bothered. But as time goes, I felt I did not have a ‘belonging’, like part of a ‘group/or family’.
In April 2002, whilst on holiday with my family to Malaysia, I was invited to attend a puja session in Kelana Jaya and there I met my root Guru, His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche. What captivated me about Rinpoche was, when someone asked Him why there are so many religions in this world, Rinpoche’s response very logical. Instead of bragging about how great a religion, Buddhism is Rinpoche used an anolgy – about the different types of food in a buffet – to cater for different tastes – the essence of the food was to satisfy the hungry stomach. From that meeting, I began earnestly researching about Tibetan Buddhism and what it meant to be a Buddhist. I logged onto the Rinpoche’s website, painstakingly (as those were the days of dial up internet) recorded a few of His talks onto a cassette tape and listen to them daily in my car.
I took refuge with Rinpoche the year after, in August 2003. Every opportunity I get, I would travel back to Kuala Lumpur to vist Kechara and have been lucky to meet Rinpoche in person. I read many Buddhist literature, go into different buddhists blogs and forums and participated in chats. I always have a dharma book in my hands when I traveled to work in the train.
I have been immensely fortunate to be included in the few pilgrimages: to Bodhgaya in 2004, Gaden in 2006 and Kathmandu in 2008. Rinpoche was very kind and gave me (and my wife) personal teachings in early 2005, after we came back from our Bodhgaya pilgrimage. Rinpoche said that as we are from faraway He wanted to give us as much dharma teaching as we can possibly get.
The dharma Rinpoche gave me comes from a pure lineage tracing back to Shakyamuni Buddha. Rinpoche said that it is very important that we are able to trace our lineage teaching to Shakyamuni Buddha to give its authencity.
As I read and gained more dharma knowledge, my confidence in life increased. I was very eager, so to speak, to share my dharma knowledge. I even asked Rinpoche if I am able to share my dharma experiences with friends or people I come into contact with. Rinpoche was very kind and said I can share dharma experiences with people as this would help people.
From then on I will find every opportunity to introduce myself , as a buddhist and using whatever tag line, share my dharma experiences and especially the very special moments I had with Rinpoche and Kechara Sangha.
I am very lucky to have met my root Guru His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche because Rinpoche teaches is a manner that makes dharma fun to learn, and always logical. Please get me wrong and I do not have any disrespect for dharma but sometimes the dharma topic can be a little dry and difficult to absorb but Rinpoche makes it easy to understand. It is great to have this knowledge but equally great is the ability to spend time mulling over (in other words, contemplate) on what has been read or taught. This way we gain wisdom. It would therefore be good to share this knowledge to as many people as possible.
When my mother passed away in the summer of 2013, Rinpoche asked me if I would like to become a Pastor, I had no hesitation in accepting the request, subject to discussions with my family regarding the logistics. This I did because when I saw my mother in that state it dawn on me that one day I will be like that. Still, motionless, and nothing will or can rouse me except for a mind that is prepared for the next phase of spiritual journey.
Whilst I jumped at the chance to accept Rinpoche’s request for me to become a Pastor, I have also to bear in mind my family who still require my financial support. Rinpoche was so kind to suggest I become a cyber pastor since I am stationed in the UK and this work can be carried out anywhere in the world as long as there is internet access.
It is not an easy task to balance between my secular life and spiritual life but no matter, I must do it, not just for the sake for others but for my own salvation too.