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First Truth of Suffering

Inherent unsatisfactoriness of existence, revealed in impermanence, pain and perpetual incompleteness; intrinsic to all forms:

  • birth, aging, sickness, death
  • sorrow, lamentation, pain, grief and despair
  • association with unpleasant
  • separation from pleasant
  • not to get what one wants

Briefly, there are 5 aggregates of clinging, to:

  1. material form
  2. feelings
  3. perceptions
  4. mental formations
  5. consciousness

which gives rise to thoughts, emotions, ideas, dispositions dwelled upon in ‘our world’ and these 5 aggregates equate to suffering because of impermanence!

  • changing from moment to moment
  • arising and falling away
  • without anything substantial behind them, persisting through the change

So to try to cling to something impermanent brings about suffering…

What is Practice

I always get this question from non-buddhist or prospective buddhist practitioner.  They will ask me “what do you mean by practice, uh?”

In simple terms, it is dealing with the transformation of one’s mind from negative disposition to a more positive disposition which ultimately leads one to liberation.

How we transformation depends on how much we want to change, to rid ourselves of mental (or afflictive) emotions.

Lord Buddha found the solution and He showed His students and disciples how to do it.  He taught the 4 Noble Truth.

1  The Truth of Suffering – everyone has sufferings

2 The Truth of Causes and Effects – we need to find the root causes of suffering

3  The Truth of Cessation of suffering – that we can stop suffering once we identified the root causes

4 The Truth of the Path – Lord’ Buddha’s way to stop suffering

This is the beginning of Buddhist Practice

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

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

and Padampa Sangye says:

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

My Dharma Path

I came into Buddhism in April 2002.  It was a chance meeting with my root guru His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche.  It was totally unplanned.  A friend asked us to join them in a prayer session organised by their friend for the friend’s mother who passed away.

Rinpoche came to the prayer session and after He introduced Himself to the new faces, He changed into His teaching robes and gave a question and answers session to the group.

What caught my attention was when someone asked why there are so many religions in this world and Rinpoche , instead of proclaiming that Buddhism is the best religion, He gave an anology with broccoli dish.  Rinpoche said, if broccoli was cooked in particular way, only a particular group of people would eat them. So if it was cooked in a different way, another group of people would eat it and so on and so forth.  And the main purpose is to satisfy an empty stomach.  And conculded that all religions are valid.

I was very impressed with Rinpoche’s answer and decided to find out more of what His practice is and started googling Tibetan Buddhism.  Back then, there were no fibre optics or wi-fi.  It was a dial up service into the internet and it was painstakingly slow.

I also found Rinpoche’s website and recorded His teachings using my aiwa walkman using an external microphone and played the tapes in the car.  So whenever I am travelling in the car, I get to listen to Rinpoche’s teachings.

I was totally absorbed into in.  If I have questions I would email Rinpoche’s personal assistant and wait eagerly for a reply.  I decided that I want Him as my teacher.  Coincidence or not, after meeting Rinpoche on 22 April 2002, I returned to London and on my visit to my client, I noticed something tibetan around the corner to my client’s office.  It was the Tibetan Foundation, (where HH Dalai Lama is Patron of).  I popped in, spoke to some people and became a member.  I bought a CD and on it was Lama Chenmo (seeking the Perfect Teacher).  I played this track everytim I was in the car and hoping I get to be His student.

A year and a bit later, I was travelling to Malaysia with the family on holiday and our friend suggested to me to take refuge with Rinpoche.  I hesitated initially not knowing what it meant.  But I wrote to Rinpoche, all the same and to my surprise, Rinpoche agreed to accept us (the family) for refuge.  It was a simple ceremony in the then Kechara Paradise SS2 (as it was called) located on the second floor of a shop lot. That took place on 27 August 2003.