The purpose of making offerings is to accumulate merit and in particular to develop and increase the mind of generosity and to reduce stinginess and miserliness. By making offerings you also create the causes for the future results of becoming wealthy and becoming naturally and spontaneously generous, most importantly your “spiritual wealth’ will grow within you.
If we can afford, we should offer the best to the Buddhas as if we were offering the best to our honoured guest, e.g. if our Prime Minister were to visit our home, we would naturally serve him the best food and bring out our best serving plates. What more do we need to say for Buddhas, supreme enlightened beings!
All dharma practitioners should wish to be able to offer the best to the Buddhas’ altar, gold is not too practical, so the next best thing is silver. It would be so beautiful and wonderful if we could offer silver butter lamps and silver water offering bowls. The benefits for making such an offering are that one’s material wealth will increase on the external aspect, and internal, our spiritual wealth also increases. Learning the Dharma would be easier when we have less financial or external obstacles. One may not necessary make this contribution to oneself alone but dedicate the merits to one’s kind parents, family, friends, the needy, deceased family members, etc.
Atisha commented that water is one of the best substance to use, for it does not generate attachment in the mind of the practitioner; and although to us it is merely water, the Enlightened Beings regard it as ambrosial nectar.
Whenever you do something positive, whether major or minor, it is indispensible to enhance with 3 supreme methods.
Before beginning, arouse bodhicitta as skilful means to ensure that the actions become a source of good for the future.
Whilst carrying out action, avoid getting involved in any conceptualisation (avoid materialistic or ambitious attitude to practice – in fact only true practitioners can practice with true freedom from concepts but as one’s practice matures, freedom from grasping comes progressively) so that merit cannot be destroyed by circumstances (and there are 4 which destroys one’s source of merit:- not dedicating, anger, regretting the beneficial actions done, boasting of one’s positive actions)
At the end, seal action by properly dedicating the merit which ensures it continually grows ever greater (such as a drop of water becomes part of the ocean-it will continue to exist as long as the ocean exists, hence, when the merits of one’s actions is completely dedicated to the “fruit, the Oceon of Omniscience” it will not be lost until one has attained complete Buddhahood.
More importantly than the way to listen to Dharma, is the motivation with which to listen (what makes an action good or bad and not how it looks, nor whether it is big or small, but the good or evil motivation behind it).
Do not be motivated by ordinary concerns, desires for greatness, fame or whatever. Turn inwards and change your motivation. If you correct your attitude, skilful means will permeate your positive actions and you will have set out on the path of great beings.
This is no ordinary T-Shirt. I wear this to my Tai Chi class and I already generated interests from my fellow Tai Chi brothers and sisters. Today, my Tai Chi Sifu also came ans ask me what this organisation is and he said he will google it.
Whether actions are wholesome or unwholesome depend on the motives (roots) behind them which are:
- greed (or attachment)
- aversion (or hatred/anger)
- delusion (or ignorance)
In terms of wholesome ‘roots’, we can add:
- non-greed implies renunciation, detachment and generosity
- non-aversion implies loving kindness, sympathy and gentleness
- non-delusion implies wisdom
Ripening of karma:
- need not be instant
- need not be in this life
- can be across succession of life times
- can be dormant for eons, like a volcanic action, waiting for the right conditions to trigger
Wholesome actions will bear favourable results and unwholesome actions will bear unfavourable results
There are 2 types of right view:
- mundane – which operates within the confines of the world
- supramundane – which leads to liberation from the world
Within mundane, we can include the correct grasp of law of karma or law of action (literally means-right view of ownership of action).
Karma – is action – volitional action, having willed, we perform actions through the 3 channels – body, speech and mind and is essentially a mental event (since it is identified with volition)
Actions can be unwholesome and wholesome
Unwholesome actions are:
- morally blame worthy
- detrimental to spiritual development
Wholesome actions on the other hand:
- produce benefits for oneself and others
- helpful to spiritual growth
Mundane right view provides a basis to do good or bad actions to collect merits/ or not for better/lower rebirth, enjoyment etc…
Supramundane right view entails wanting to liberate from suffering, from rebirth, aging, sickness and death and requires the understanding of the 4 Noble Truth
One has to have the right view to understand:
- origins of suffering
- cessation of suffering
- the way leading to cessation of suffering
It is about aim and direction, the need for liberation from suffering,
- by uprooting ignorance
- by understanding (or awakening)
- by seeing things (as they really are)
Having a right view is very important – it is like a guide (or map) as we practice showing:
- starting point
- destination and
- successive phases passed
To practice without a right view, risks getting ‘lost’ (or no direction). As an analogy, if we want to drive to a place, we must have a road map or advice from experience driver to have a general idea which direction to go.
Right view involves the correct understanding of the entire dharma/teacing of the Buddha
Buddhas cannot wash away our negativities with water nor remove our sufferings by touching us with their hands, nor can they transfer their wisdom to us in the manner of giving us a material object.
All they can do is show us the paths and practices. Whether we achieve spiritual liberation or not depends entirely upon whether we apply ourselves to the practices.
In ‘an ornament of the clear realisations’, it states:
Although the king sends forth rain, infertile seed do not grow or sprout
Similarly, although the Buddhas manifest, those without merit experience no benefit
And ‘a treasury of abhidharma’ states:
The dharma taught by Buddha, has two aspects: scriptural and insight
The first of these is upheld, by means of study and teaching
The second is upheld by practice and realisation
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:
- material form
- mental formations
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…
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.
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.