Thursday, 22 March 2012

Putting Gratitude into your Hands

Putting gratitude into your hands
JJ Chong

MBF didn’t come by chance or by coincidence though. It was a labor of love and kindness pouring from every direction. Thinking about the kindness of Rinpoche and all He has done for not only myself but everyone He gets into contact with, I thought that would be the best way of sharing the Dharma with the people here.

The first of the 6 perfections of a Bodhisattva is the perfection of Giving. No Buddhist tradition can be passed out as being a tradition which is not charitable. The Buddha, the founder of the entire Buddhist doctrine gave up his entire life, kingdom and family for humanity. His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche was of no different. Rinpoche gave his life tirelessly to the people from all walks of life.

It was Chinese New Year and while the entire Chinese world was merry making He was busy giving gifts of encouragement to people, working on his blog, taking students who didn’t have a family out for meals and of course at the end of the day making sure that everyone was well taken cared of. It was at this time which Rinpoche texted his ‘infamous’ line of sms: “Where are you and what are you doing?”

So I told him what I was doing back home and explained that I was raising funds to renovate the studio for MBF. Initially I intended to bring my 3’ Lama Tsongkhapa statue from home to be placed as the main object of veneration here as I thought that would be a great statue. Then a call from His private office came and the next thing you know is that Rinpoche was planning to induce a new idea of having a 5’ statue on your altar instead!

The next thing that came was that his entire household was in search of a 5’ statue of Lama Tsongkhapa and I was to visit Rinpoche as soon as I can to pick out the statue which I think would fit the studio@MBF. This I did and had it arranged to be transported back to Singapore. A lot of hard work and red tape had to be endured to ensure that Lama Tsongkhapa had a safe travel here to Singapore.

All these wouldn’t have happened if it wasn’t for Rinpoche. For a man his position, Rinpoche gives out tirelessly to humankind. I for one have received innumerable kindness from Rinpoche directly and  hence this has been a propelling factor of what I do today.

So the next time you visit the Studio@MBF, do make a prayer and dedicate it towards your loved one for Tsongkhapa represents the perfection  of Giving, the leading factor out of the six qualities of a Bodhisattva.

Wednesday, 21 March 2012

Kindness in every Word

Kindness in every word
JJ Chong

Buddhism wasn’t a calling for me, it was IN me. I remembered vividly when I was young that images of enlightenment would capture my attention very much! From Buddha statues to books with line drawings, wall murals and you know what, joss stick wrappers with chinky chong(a pseudo I use back home referring to the colorful Chinese culture) Buddhas printed on them. Yes, I grew up in a community of gentle people who were not predominantly Buddhist but were pretty much open to the religion as my family was predominantly ancestor worshippers

Life did take a toll on me when my dad came under the spell of cancer. He was diagnosed with liver cancer and cirrhosis, a term used to describe the hardening of the liver. It was three months of pain for the family when he started to take his treatment. When it started, it seemed like a downhill ride for his entire life. It was for the first time I felt for my dad. We didn’t have a close bond at home as he was always out for work and spends his evenings drinking .

But it was a good three golden months for my family. We broke down and made the best out of each situation. I love my parents because I saw the dedication they had for each other. Yes, dad screwed up by not sharing his sickness with mom but mom stood by him nonetheless. She gave him her all in those three months and she gave us her all after dad passed on.

It was during this period which I found myself deeply soaked within my passion for Dharma. Prior to dad being sick, I was already active with Dharma activities via the school’s Buddhist Society and it just escalated further. Time waits for no one, so does death and it brings me to understand the need to help other people. When a person is hopeless and in need of help, all we can do for them is just to leave everything which we are doing and just attend to them.

This is not foreign for me as I found it to be the right thing to do. Setting up a fellowship here is a way we can reach out to people who are plagued with the need to be helped and we will help everyone all the way. I cannot leave one single person who is in dire need of help to be left unattended. Even a simple gift of encouragement for the other person will go a long way!

When we have received the kindness of others, we owe it to them to repay it onto them or others. Why? Kindness cannot be measured by monetary means but is definitely TANGIBLE! Think that the reason we are here today, we already have reasons to be grateful and bring life into a new frontier for ourselves by just giving help

What's in a Prayer?

What’s in a prayer?
JJ Chong

In different faiths and beliefs, we all have one common thing called prayer. What is it really? A means of communication with the Divine or is it something which we can do in order to let a higher or bigger force come into our lives? Each of these prayers sum up a mass of energy when tapped correctly and is able to help solve some of our pending mundane and supramundane problems.

Within our lineage and practice is Lama Tsongkhapa’s Guru Yoga. A lot of our members here have come week in and week out to attend meditation classes based on this lovely composition. I would like to share with you my craze over this beautiful deity whom I call Buddha Je Tsongkhapa. It is not a craze really; it is more like life in itself.

\When I first met my Guru in 2003, His first teaching to me was the Guru Yoga of Lama Tsongkhapa. Back then I didn’t know who Tsongkhapa was and how was it related to other deities of Buddhism. Why was he so different? Why the yellow pointy hat? Why can’t I just do my own practice and say my Namo Amituofo? All these thoughts soon derailed in my mind.

What Lama Tsongkhapa embodies is the every single perfection which we all have within ourselves! We want love and security, Lama Tsongkhapa who is the embodiment of Kuan Yin can bestow us 
with the necessary love and care which cannot be found elsewhere. How? It is simple yet profound, when we do this practice, we evoke on the power of Kuan Yin through Lama Tsongkhapa. This enables us to seek peace with ourselves by facing our insecurities and creating causes for us to love and be loved.

We are able to free ourselves from the obscurations we implicated onto ourselves whether it is via our conscious actions or even if it is inflicted by karma. Lama Tsongkhapa releases the energies of boundless love which is free of the Ego and blesses us to gain that same type of selfless love. By virtue of practice, obstacles will arise and we will feel disillusioned sometimes as we are thrown off track but in faith we should rely on and persevere. I believe that potent medicines are never nice to be taken, only with bitterness one can obtain a higher chance of cure. Don’t u think  so?

I do my daily prayers with meditations of Lama Tsongkhapa with the following eight verses which helps me a lot in my daily undertakings:

Eight Verses of Training The Mind

(By Kadampa Geshe Langri Tangpa 1054 – 1123)
With the determination to accomplish
The highest welfare for all sentient beings
Who surpass even a wish-granting jewel
I will learn to hold them supremely dear.

Whenever I associate with others I will learn
To think of myself as the lowest among all
And respectfully hold others to be supreme
From the very depths of my heart

In all actions I will learn to search into my mind
And as soon as an afflictive emotion arises
Endangering myself and others
I will firmly face and avert it.

I will learn to cherish all beings of bad nature
And those pressed by strong sins and sufferings
As if I had found a precious
Treasure very difficult to find

When others out of jealousy treat me badly
With abuse, slander, and so on,
May I suffer the defeat
And offer the victory to them

When one whom I have benefited with great hope
Unreasonably hurts me very badly,
I will learn to view that person
As an excellent spiritual guide.

In short, I will learn to offer to everyone without exception
All help and happiness directly and indirectly
And respectfully take upon myself
All harm and suffering of my mothers.

I will learn to keep all these practices 
Undefiled by the stains of the eight worldly conceptions
And by the understanding of all phenomena as like illusions
Be released from the bondage of attachment.

I will blog this another time but for now. We can do our daily meditations and have a better outline to get our prayers going more effectively.