About me

This blog is created by a Buddhist living in Singapore. He embraces the Mahayana spirit of Bodhicitta, deeply respecting all Buddhist Traditions as expressions of Kindness guiding us on the path towards human perfection ~ Buddhahood.

He likes to post stuff that he had read or think is good to share here, sometimes he adds a little comments here and there... just sometimes..

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“Sariputra, if there are people who have already made the vow, who now make the vow, or who are about to make the vow, ‘I desire to be born in Amitabha’s country,’ these people, whether born in the past, now being born, or to be born in the future, all will irreversibly attain to anuttarasamyaksambodhi. Therefore, Sariputra, all good men and good women, if they are among those who have faith, should make the vow, ‘I will be born in that country.’”

~ Amitabha Sutra

When I obtain the Buddhahood, any being of the boundless and inconceivable Buddha-worlds of the ten quarters whose body if be touched by the rays of my splendour should not make his body and mind gentle and peaceful, in such a state that he is far more sublime than the gods and men, then may I not attain the enlightenment.

~ Amitabha Buddha's Thirty-Third Vow

Sunday, April 29, 2007

A Bodhisattva's Garland of Gems

(Picture source: flickr.com)

A Bodhisattva's Garland of Gems
(Byang-chub sems-dpa'i nor-bu'i phreng-ba, Skt. Bodhisattva-mani-avali)
by Atisha (Dipamkara Shrijnana)

translated by Alexander Berzin, 2004
(Source: The Berzin Archives)

I make prostration to great compassion.
I make prostration to the sublime teachers.
I make prostration to the Buddha-figures,
Those in whom to have belief.

(1) Let me rid myself of all indecisive wavering
And cherish being wholeheartedly earnest in my practice.
So, let me rid myself fully of being sleepy, foggyminded, and lazy,
And always make effort with joyful perseverance.

(2) Let me always safeguard the gateway of my senses
With mindfulness, alertness, and care.
So, let me check repeatedly the flow of my mind,
Three times each day and each night.

(3) Let me make my own failings be known
And seek not mistakes in others.
So, let me keep my own good qualities hidden
And make the good qualities of others be known.

(4) Let me rid myself of (desire for) material gain and honor
And always rid myself of (desire for) profit and fame.
So, let me have few desires, be content,
And show appreciation for the kind acts that've been done.

(5) Let me meditate on love and compassion
And stabilize my bodhichitta aim.
So, let me rid myself of the ten destructive actions
And make myself stable, always, with belief in fact.

(6) Let me overcome rage and pride
And come to have an attitude of humility.
So, let me rid myself of dishonest ways of living
And make my living with a livelihood that accords with the Dharma.

(7) Let me rid myself of all material burdens
And adorn myself with an aryas' gems.
So, let me rid myself of all bustling activities
And live in seclusion.

(Picture source: flickr.com)

(8) Let me rid myself of idle words
And always restrain my speech.
So, when I see a sublime teacher or learned master,
Let me extend my service with respect.

(9) As for persons with the eye of the Dharma
And limited beings who are beginners,
Let me expand my discernment
Of them as my teachers.

(10) Whenever I see any limited beings,
Let me expand my discernment of them as my father,
my mother, my child or grandchild.
So, let me rid myself of misleading friends
And entrust myself to spiritual friends.

(11) Let me rid myself of hostility and uneasy mental states,
And go happily everywhere.
So, let me rid myself of whatever I'm attached to
And live without attachments.

(12) With attachment, I won't attain even a happy rebirth
And I'll cut off the life of my liberation, in fact.
So, wherever I see a Dharma measure (for bringing) happiness,
Let me exert effort always in that.

(13) Whatever I've undertaken to start with,
Let me accomplish that very thing first.
Everything, this way, will get accomplished well;
Otherwise, neither will come about.

(14) While still acting always negatively and parted from joy,
When a feeling of superiority arises about anything,
Let me cut off my pride and remember
My sublime teacher's guideline instructions.

(Picture source: flickr.com)

(15) And when a feeling of discouragement arises,
Let me praise the glories of the mind
And meditate on the voidness of both (states).

(16) Whenever an object of attachment or hostility
arises in any situation,
Let me regard it like an illusion or a projection;
Whenever I hear unpleasant words,
Let me regard them like an echo;
And whenever harm happens to my body,
Let me regard it as (coming from) my previous karma.

(17) Let me step up to living in a sequestered place,
Outside the limits (of any town),
And, like a corpse of a dead game animal,
Hide myself in solitude and live without attachments.

(18) (There,) let me always be stable with my Buddha-figure
And whenever a feeling of laziness or exhaustion arises,
Let me enumerate my own shortcomings
And remind myself of the essential points
of taming behavior.

(19) But if I happen to see others,
Let me speak calmly, gently, and sincerely,
Rid myself of any frowns or closed-off expressions,
And always keep a smile.

(20) And when I'm continually seeing others,
Let me not be miserly, but take joy in giving,
And rid myself of all envy.

(21) In order to safeguard the minds of others,
Let me rid myself of all contention
And always have patient tolerance.

(Picture source: flickr.com)

(22) Let me not be fawning, nor fickle in friendship,
But rather always stay faithful.
Let me rid myself of insulting others,
And keep a respectful manner.
Then, when imparting guideline instructions to others,
Let me have compassion and a mind to help.

(23) Let me never deny the Dharma and,
Setting my intention on whichever ones I fervently admire,
Let me make effort to split my days and nights
(Passing) through the gateways of the ten Dharma acts.

(24) Let me dedicate to great peerless enlightenment
As many constructive acts as I've amassed
throughout the three times,
And extend out to limited beings my positive force.
So, let me always offer the great prayer
Of the seven-part practice.

(25) Doing like that, let me complete my two networks
of positive force and deep awareness,
And deplete my two obscurations as well.
Thus, making my attainment of a human body meaningful,
Let me attain a peerless enlightenment.

(26) The gem of belief in fact, the gem of ethical self-discipline,
The gem of generosity, the gem of listening,
The gems of care for how my actions reflect on others
and of moral self-dignity,
And the gem of discriminating awareness make seven.

(27) These sacred gems
Are the seven gems that will never deplete.
They must not be mentioned to quasi-humans.

(28) When in the midst of many,
Let me keep a check on my speech;
When remaining alone,
Let me keep a check on my mind.


Verse 23:
The ten Dharma acts (chos-spyod rnam-bcu) are (1) copying scriptures, (2) making offerings to the Three Gems, (3) giving to the poor and sick, (4) listening to teachings, (5) reading scriptures, (6) taking to heart the essence of the teachings through meditating, (7) explaining the teachings, (8) reciting sutras, (9) thinking about the meaning of the texts, and (10) meditating single-pointedly on the meaning of the teachings.

Explanation of A Bodhisattva's Garland of Gems
(Berlin, Germany, November 2004)
Part 1 (8.4 MB) 0:35 hours mp3 audio
Part 2 (13.5 MB) 0:57 hours mp3 audio
Part 3 (13.7 MB) 0:58 hours mp3 audio
Part 4 (16.7 MB) 0:71 hours mp3 audio


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Friday, April 27, 2007


(Picture source: flickr.com)

What is Life? Life is me. It is not separate from me, not merely a reflection of my thoughts and projections, it is me.

Life is such a great teacher.. whenever we feel complacent and proud, Life will somehow manage to wack havoc as if to show who's the boss... through our ups and downs we learn of countless lessons throughout our lifetime.

The Four Seals of Dharma

All compounded things are impermanent.

All emotions are painful. This is something that only Buddhists would talk about. Many religions worship things like love with celebration and songs. Buddhists think, “This is all suffering.”

All phenomena are empty; they are without inherent existence. This is actually the ultimate view of Buddhism; the other three are grounded on this third seal.

The fourth seal is that nirvana is beyond extremes.

From all these lessons that i've learnt, none bring me more peace and joy than the 4 Dharma Seals. When i can see the truth of the 4 Dharma seals in them, especially the first seal of 'All compounded things are impermanent.' and third seal of 'All phenomena are empty'. It brings me much peace and joy, that even experiences of pain cease to be suffering.

Although i've yet to realise the ultimate truths in this 4 Dharma seals, I'm contented with just seeing impermanence and emptiness nature of each moment... and laughing at & with myself how I took my attachments and the contents of my thoughts and the sense perceptions so seriously. Its amazing how much joy arises from just seeing the 4 Dharma Seals... not even death can take it away. What more do I need to at ease now?

May you be at ease too.


~ End of post ~


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Tuesday, April 24, 2007

How to find Joy?

Bhante Vimalaramsi describes "How to find JOY" from his perspective as a Buddhist Monk for 20+ years.

He discusses his background and ... all » training and how that might help you with dealing with the problem of living your life in a joyful and happy way.

He gives you a clear road map as to what you can do right now to improve your practice and improve your experience of life.. Transcript of this talk by Peter Argli may be found by looking for the link at this page: http://sites.google.com/site/begintosee/home

- End of post -


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Monday, April 23, 2007

The Foundations of Mindfulness with Bhante Vimalaramsi

I think it's a really good set of teaching for anyone interested in meditation. Enjoy.

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Sunday, April 22, 2007

Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche talk transcript at Beijing University on Buddhist Views

Day 1

I'd like to thank him for introducing me. I'm also a little nervous that he might have raised everyone's expectation about me. I'm sorry I'm a little bit skittish because I'm nervous.

It is a very big honor for me to have this opportunity to speak in this one of the greatest learning centers of the world. I have heard about this university's fame and glory so many times. But I've never even imagined that I would actually come here and speak on the campus.

As you all know, learning is a passion for many of us. Especially learning the ultimate truth since to be a big passion even since without memories. Even today we human beings have not stop learning and seeking the truth. For me, personally, the Buddhism is just another angle of learning or tools to find the truth. Although its history is originated in India, it became popular in many different parts of the world. Especially today.

Even though I don't know so much, but I hear about Master Hsuan Tsang's diligence and determination to really study the truth. According to Buddhism, all his sacrifice and endurance are just amazing. Almost inconceivable. If you ask me how much relevance of that to today as far as Buddhism is concerned. I especially think it did does a lot. Not necessarily as a religion, but as a means to, as a tool to find or actualize the truth. And you may wonder maybe because of Buddhism is something that originates from India. So it really doesn't have much relevance to China or elsewhere. I think things are not like that. I'll leave this to Prof. Sharf. He will talk about this in the afternoon.

I'd like to talk a little bit about Buddhism view. As the view is what drives us. Before we talk about the Buddhism view. Again, I think we ask this question: why Buddhism? I think that question can be simply and easily answered of that. Why everything? Why science? Why technology? Why economy? I think why Buddhism because fundamentally we all want to have fun. We want to be happy and we want to really have fun, the fun that lasts long, and cheap if possible, and portable fun. I think this is the same case for everything like science, technology. If you look at what we do, we are always looking for fun. Of course, the definition of what is fun differs. Different beings. Different cultures. Different nationalities. Different generations. And then because of that, the methods or the tools to acquire the truth also then began to have different varieties.

Picture source: flickr.com

According to the Indian prince Siddhartha, the reason why we are not able to have the fun as much as we want depends basically only on one reason. We are always looking at something fake, unreliable, uncertain. And then we think that's the truth. An absolute truth. And that is ultimately what he called ignorance. This is actually nothing religious. We are talking completely science.

If you want to have genuine Italian leather shoes, and if someone tells you what you're wearing is a fake one. Then you will have suffering. And you don't have the courage to be happy with the fake. Not many of us will do. So for this Indian Prince Siddhartha, finding the truth is really happen to be the biggest quest for him.

Once he was in the palace, he saw death, old-age and sickness. When he heard that death, old-age and sickness are inevitable and going to happen to everyone. Then naturally he wants to solve that problem. Of course if there is a problem, our immediate reaction is to solve that problem. So he slipped out of palace and left his family. Because his family was against him having this idea of finding the truth.

So finally he found, this is what Buddhist would say, finally he found the truth. That does not mean that Buddha finally find a way so that we don't have to die. Finally he found a moisturizer cream so that our skin would never wrinkle. He found a truth, and then he realized that you have to accept that truth. If you accept that truth, you don't suffer. The truth that he found, what he has realized was later taught to his students. In order to make them easier accessible, we categorize them into many different categories. So there are a lot of categories of truth. They are a lot of methods to getting close to the truth. Then the unfortunate thing happened. These methods I think then began to become so-called Buddhism--the religion. That is very unfortunately. Because we then began to get so attracted to the methods rather than the truth.

For instance, you ask this question: but why all these tools, in the first place, why all these methods? Why all these different kind of tools? This is a challenging question. I'll give you two examples here.

(Picture source: flickr.com)

First, this glass is filled with pristine, very very clear water. And then you are looking for the water, get this water that is completely to rim. You will not see the water, because the water is too clear, you will not see it. So in order to make you see the water, what do we do? We diluted the water a little bit. So this yellowish color has you to see there is water. So in Buddhism, you try all these methods, which is nothing more than that dilution. In other words, what I'm saying is, all these sorts of Buddhism methods, if I can be very frank, they are all fake. They are not the real truth, but if you ask me: do they help? Very much! Without them, you don't see it. But the problem is we get too attracted to the color not the water.

You would ask, in that case why Siddhartha taught us all these different schools of Buddhism. If you at a gunpoint, if someone tells you, you must say the sky is red, or the sky is green. You have no choice, but agree and say yes, the sky is green. But inside you know it's not green. That's how exactly Buddha taught all these teachings. He had no choice. He was not at a gunpoint. Anybody. But he had no choice. Because, the Buddhists would say, he has powerful compassion.

Let's say, you're dreaming right now. A nightmare. That you are sleeping with a tiger. And you're frantic. To get out of that, there are several things you could do. You can chase away this tiger. That's not bad. This is something that most of us might do it right away. But there is a much better way: a bucket of cold water. But if you really think it carefully, both ways are wrong. Why? Because the bucket of cold water has not chased away any tiger. There was no tiger. You were dreaming. So Buddhism methods are usually like that. You should still thank that bucket of cold water because it is good for you. Your appreciation of that bucket of cold water is good. Because next time when you dream again. You know what to do.

Now let's talk about the view. The view as we said previously, the view is what drives us. Everything. Basically, the view is an idea. Maybe right now, in our world, there is an idea that SUV and BMW cars are good. A slim body is good. That's the view. Now motivation comes in. Right? Of course motivation can be very conditional. Until all these magazines such as Vogue and Cosmopolitan are introduced, I don't think many people have the motivation of becoming slim. So because of these conditions, now you have the motivation to become slim. Because you think the idea of becoming slim is the ultimate truth. So what do you do? You think about becoming slim. You read about it. Go to the workshops. That's basically the meditation. And then cutting down rice. Running. Herbal stuff to slim you down. That's the action. So the view is very important. So let me share with you four fundamental views of Siddhartha.

First, he discovered that no matter where or when, everything compounded as long as something is compounded is all impermanent.

Because even the very action of putting two things together--compounding, that is already impermanent. The shape has changed. The color has changed. The size has changed. But I'll tell you that, as simple as it sound, it is not that easy to get used to it. I'll give you a very popular example coming from Theravada Buddhism.

They said that every time you look at your hand. This is what Buddha said. Every time you look at you hand, there are three fundamental mistakes you make.

(Picture source: flickr.com)

The first one is you think it in terms of whole, not as a part. You don't think can I shake your veins, bones, and blood or skin. You think it in terms of a hand. So because we think everything as a whole. In reality, there is no hand. There are a lot of particles of a lot of different things.

The second, we think yesterday's hand is today's hand. I mean, today's hand is yesterday's hand. It's the same hand that you are shaking with. But this is again not the truth. If today's hand is exactly the same hand as yesterday. Then really moisturizer companies will have no business. Hand cream. Even as we see it's deteriorating day by day, minute by minute. We think it is the same hand.

The third mistake is we think it is independent. It is not depend on any other things. More will be discussed later. So see now Buddha discovered that this fundamental mistaken view then leads you to suffering. How? You think that this will last. You think it is permanent. So what do you do? You get attached. You just never think that one day this is going to be inside of coffin. So what do you do? You go around the world, trying to protect this. Even Buddhists will go to their master asking for bless, so it can live healthy and live forever. And if I joke with you. To live long is a very important issue in the Chinese society. We already see an old man with a peach-- "xiantao". Like the genuine Italian shoes or fake Italian shoes. Because you have diverted yourself from the truth that no matter what do you do, this impermanence has led you to all kinds of unnecessary sufferings. Remember what we've discussed right at the beginning? Therefore we are not having fun. Because we are so busy taking care of this. Okay. Now let's shift this a little bit. The Buddha's first truth/view that everything is impermanent, it is not necessarily a bad news as many people would think. Actually, impermanence is a very good news. If your hand is becoming dry, you should buy moisturizer. Why? Because of impermanence it will work. If you are not millionaire now, thanks to impermanence, you can become millionaire.

So it's very important to understand the Buddha's view of impermanence. Not as a religious threat. Like hey, you know, you'd better behave, otherwise, you will die and go to hell and all that. Base on this view, you can develop an attitude. An attitude based on accepting the truth. Okay. In order to understand this truth, there are many different methods. Meditation-related. Action-related. If you go to countries, like Myanmar, or Thailand, you see monks who have shaved their head. The act of shaving head is a method to remind you the impermanence. It's a discipline to help you remember impermanence. Not that Buddha has some allergy towards long hair. That he imposed this rule that as a Buddhist you have to shave your hair. So all these rituals are actually to take you to this truth. As I said before, unfortunately, we get so caught by the rituals, but not the impermanence. Okay, go back to our first question: Why Buddhism? We can have a really good, long-lasting, portable, and cheap fun. And how do you do that? By understanding all compounding things are impermanent. By accepting that. Even if somebody is wishing you long life, ten thousand years. Or on the other side, even if you are going through the most depressing time.

(Picture source: flickr.com)

I don't know if you have this expression in Chinese: "Time heals". That's a simple truth. By the way, I should tell you. When Prince Siddhartha was contemplating on how to really seek and search the truth. He was very practical. All his teachings are very practical. I'm sure he has the wit and intellect to do a research on what the neighboring deer eat or elephants eat when he was meditating. He can do a fantastic research on those. But a breakthrough discovery of dietary system of a deer might help a few deer. That's all about it. He really wants to get to the bottom of all the problems. So he realized problem No.1 is: Not understanding that all the compounded are impermanent. All of them, not a single thing exempt.

Now the second view. Where does all these pain come from? Not only the gross pains such as headache and stomachache. Basically, the human pains are not getting what we want. And having to live with this uncertainty all the time. Most of us are very uncertain like right after this, will we see our friends and loved ones? We are not sure. What is it? What is the fundamental cause of this pain? He never come out with answer like oh, yes there is an evil force from outside of galaxy. It invaded us. He didn't say that. No external existing evil being created pains to us. Then he discovered it is clinging to the self. Every mindstream or emotion that is directly or indirectly involved with clinging to the self leads to pain. All our emotions such as love, hatred, jealousy, all of them basically stem from clinging to the self. That's a big discovery. Because we as human being, we like blaming someone. According this second view, there is none to blame. If you have to blame, you have to blame this habit of clinging to the self. But this is a very big subject in Buddhism study. We hear a lot of Buddhism teaching about selflessness. But I want to tell you something here. It's not that Buddha found that the self is evil, therefore clinging to the self is wrong. It is not that at all. So again here, I would say, the second view is nothing religious. But again, unfortunately, these tools to contemplate on the selflessness have unfortunately become very religious. As I was saying, he didn't discover that evil self. He never said therefore clinging to the self lead you to pains. Actually, he found there is no self. Therefore clinging to the self is wrong. That's why we suffer. This is important. As you know because many of we Buddhist always say, oh, I'm so egoist. I'm selfish. We all judge it very ethically or very religiously.

He said that actually everything is conditioned. He thinks that, basically, the so-called ignorance is self-clinging and is you are looking at something that is actually several components putting together then you think it's something. Like this table, table leg, plank, all these put together, then it becomes a table. Things put together, then it becomes something.

Probably, you already know this trick. But I'll show you a trick. I can only do it in English. If I show you this. How would you read this? You read twelve, thirteen and fourteen. Now, the same thing I fold it differently. Then thirteen will become B. Why? Because we have A and C. Our mind shifts through. When 13 is in the middle of 12 and 14. It is 13. But when 13 is in the middle of A and C. Then it becomes B. Why? You can always argue this with Siddhartha. This is something good. You can debate with him. Never you should take that on the face of that. But According to him, everything is basically like this 13 or B. Everything is basically you put together and then it is functioning as something, which can be changed if another component is put together.

If I put a bed sheet here, and a blanket and a pillow here, it becomes a bed. If I chop it into pieces and put it in the kitchen. Firewood I get. So now, he thought the so-called self is exactly 13 and B. Basically, you are looking at several components put together. Form, feeling, color and all these. This is a very big subject in Buddhism study.

(Picture source: flickr.com)

I'm sure many of you know Heart Sutra. Form is emptiness. Emptiness is form. No eyes. No ears. No nose. Basically, according to the Buddha, several components put together, you come up with this idea of self, which totally does not exist at all. This is what you are clinging at. This is ridiculous actually. But again, as simple as it sound, it is very difficult to combat with this self-clinging. Why? Because it's an old habit. Even to quit smoking is difficult. That's relatively a new habit. Because you didn't hold a cigarette when you were born. But clinging to the self is a very old habit. So what do we do?

Basically there are several components put together, and we think it is the self. Then we built a lot of hideout so that the self will be comfortable, insured and powerful. This is where like money, power, influence and friendship. It is very big. If there is no self there is no economy. If what Buddha said works and if a lot of people actually practice combating the self, the market will crash. Because there is no insecurity, if there is no insecurity, there is no business. You must know that, right? I don't know much about business. But it looks like this is the quintessence of business. And they have people teaching us what we don't have and what we should have. To make this non-existing self more comfortable and more insured and on the process of trying to make this non-existing self comfortable, on the larger scale, we destroyed our own world. Environment. Everything. Every one of us. On the smaller scale, even between the friends and the family, we say we love them. It is all related to we love them because we love ourselves. Because we want to put them on the shelf, so that anytime you want, you can use them. This is basically the second view. There is nothing really religious about this. Nothing ethical. But in Buddhism, ethics is taught a lot. There is a full subject such as Vinaya. But all of them they are designed to understand the truth. As I said before, the gunpoint, you would say the sky is red. The whole path, the complicated path has been taught by Buddha himself.

Diamond Sutra is something that is very popular in Chinese culture. Maybe some of you remember...there Buddha said: Those who see me in form is a wrong view. And Buddha said, Buddha's marks are not true. Of course it is very difficult to understand this. We'd like to have a savior. A savior. Someone to blame to. Someone to pray to when all the options run out. For the Buddhist, yes, we talk about Buddha. We are talking about golden Buddha. Because we like gold. There's no one mentioned charcoal like Buddha. But even if you look at the marks of the Buddha you really understand why this is just yet another skillful means. The truth that we have been talking about, itself is the Buddha. There is no other Buddha than the truth. The truth has no color, no shape, it's not bronze-made.

But somehow we just make people to get attracted to this truth, isn't it? That is important. If you love someone, you want to really make this someone to be happy. You want really to give this person the cause of happiness. You will do anything to lead him to the truth, lead him to the cause of happiness. I'm trying to talk about Buddha's compassion. So the compassion is like this, you want to make them understand the truth. Yet the truth has no color, no shape. Nothing. Even on the general level, the truth is bitter.

Let's say, like the other day, I was in India 3 days ago. I attended a elaborate wedding. You can't really go to the couple and say, you will die some day. And also you two are human beings, therefore many times you will fight and disagree with each other. Especially this couple I've never seen them before. So in order to deliver the truth, you have to make the truth attractive. This is when the Buddhists begin to paint the Buddha with gold. It became much more elaborate later. there are actually some people who like blue color, then we have blue Buddha. There are some people who like coral. So there is Amitabha Buddha with coral color.

(Picture source: flickr.com)

If you look carefully at these methods, if it is really an authentic method, it should all have an element of bringing you to the truth. For example, even the Buddha's qualities like the golden color that we Buddhists are so proud of. Or the ears long enough to touch the shoulder. I mean think, would you really seriously date with someone like that? Would you proudly show your boyfriend who with completely golden color to your normal friends? Or ears hanging to shoulder. So all these Buddhists' symbols, if they are authentic, they are designed to attract you. Then lead you to the truth.

Because as long as you are bound by color, shape, you are bound by compounded phenomena.

So it is very difficult for me to present these two views. It's quite vast. It's very difficult for me to put it in a very short time. There are two more truth out of four Seals of Dharma, which we will discuss tomorrow. So maybe about 10 minutes for your questions.

Day 2

Today we are going to talk about the two remaining truths.

These two are very difficult. Actually, out of the four truths, the first two truths that we discussed yesterday that all compounded things are impermanent and all emotions coming from ego are pain. These two are actually the relative truths. These two remained are what we call the ultimate truths. The ultimate truth as what Prof. Sharf said yesterday, the moment I speak, I've failed. Even in the Buddhism Sutra, we have a saying like, in order to express the ultimate truth, even the mouth of the Buddha is not good enough.

But you see, the thing it is, even today the ultimate truth can not be expressed is already an expression. Remembering yesterday we talked about, in order to allure us to the right view, we have to make the truth attractive.

These two truths, very difficult to make them attractive for the human mind. Especially the third one. Everything is emptiness. Not attractive at all. The last one, the nirvana. For centuries, the Buddhists have tried to make it very attractive, and actually it had sort of worked. Western Land, the lotus is blooming, you come out from the lotus bud and all that. Nirvana, a very happy place forever; your computer does not need to be updated. All that kind of things.

(Picture source: flickr.com)

But the third one, the emptiness, it is very difficult to discuss. But yet it is the most important. I would say, out of these four, the third is the most important. For centuries, masters and saints all had tried to explain it. They sang songs about it. If you go to Tibetan monasteries, they even painted emptiness. I don't know if you have ever seen a blue, naked Buddha. No ornament. It represents the emptiness. The blue color represents the sky. The sky color again cross to the emptiness.

Remembering as I said yesterday? All these tools are just tools. They are not the actual truth. And I want to really emphasize this because many times we end up with falling in love with these tools. This is why I thought it is very interesting and important what Prof. Sharf said yesterday afternoon. Because as Buddhism travels to different places, the technique/the tools have to be changed. I was shocking to realize one of the greatest influence in Japanese Buddhism probably has a little bit of Christian influence. That is shocking.

These are important for specially academic students to know, not necessarily by practitioners. Because with these information we will be guarded from the misunderstanding.

My translator told me that in china when Buddhism was introduced in the beginning. Because the begging bowl, the Chinese couldn't really accept the whole Vinaya kind of phenomena that all believed in India. Because maybe Chinese are very practical people, they think the begging is not the right thing to do. You have to earn. Now in place like India, even today, a life that led with a begging and wander. They call it ...(Hindi). They consider it a very good life. It's a very honorable life. It's a very, what they call the right livelihood.

As the Buddhism is traveling, it becomes different. In Tibet, if a monk wears blue, the Tibetans will just condemn it. This is funny. Because actually the Buddha allows monks to wear blue. But I think because the king actually thought monks can only wear either red or yellow. That's why it became like that.

And many times, actually it becomes a little bit bad also, you know. The things like these culture influences. Like the Tibetan Mahayana. The Tibetan Buddhists are Mahayana Buddhists, they shouldn't really eat meat. But okay, in Tibet, maybe nothing grows. So they can eat meat. But When they are in places like Beijing, there are so many vegetables. So They should really eat vegetables. They still say, you know, we still have this old habit. They use Tantra as an excuse also. Oh…we are Tantra practitioners, so we can eat meat. So it is really important for academic students to know these things.

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Okay, also the culture habit. Let me tease you a little bit. The Chinese value common sense. They are the people with a lot of common sense. Because their culture has taught them to value common sense. India? No common sense. Because they value wisdom, transcending the common sense. Stuff like reincarnation (Next life), it's nothing to do with the common sense. Common sense is very much about this life. Just trying to tease you so that you maybe become a little bit agitated with me. You know, why I'm telling you this is because of that the Buddhism also has to adapt.

Anyway, let's go back to the third view. Now to speak in very layperson's language: the emptiness. What you see is not what it is, that's emptiness. I think that's probably the best thing I could do right now. If you see your boyfriend or girlfriend is very handsome or beautiful, you have to realize that most of other people would think they are ugly. The beauty or the ugly is not there, empty of beauty and ugly. So everything that appears is not what it is. So they must ask what is really there. We human being always like to ask these questions: what is really there? Okay, how it appears is not what it is. So in that case, what is there? This habit of needing something there is very difficult to break.

So much so, even the Buddha indicated many times in many other Sutras, such as Lankavatara Sutra, the Buddha nature, which is very much related to China. I think Xuanzang really liked this. Also, all my Chinese friends love Buddha nature. You see, again, the common sense is moving in here. If you do something, there is a beginning point, so the Buddha nature is good.

The Nagarjuna people like the Indians, they said nothing exists. Then if you ask, okay, what Buddha said about Buddha nature, what is that? There is a convenient way to say the Buddha nature is a name given to what they called the result of elimination. (The elimination of dualism—Rinpoche said this in the 2nd lecture.) And actually even Nagarjuna said, that is wonderful. Because of that, you could put it like this. You could put everything like this.

Go back to the beauty and ugly. If your boyfriend is really ugly, really ugly. Then other people would never think he is handsome. Because the ugliness is the truth. And the space is occupied by ugliness. I'm not talking about other people, even you yourself. In the evening, you found with the candle light your boyfriend is good looking. But in the morning when you waked up, who is this? You see, there's a change. This change can't take place if the ugliness really does exist outside.

These are probably the best thing I could do to really talk emptiness with very layperson's language. But even though it is something not expressible, it is something that can be experienced through examples. There are three basic experiences. They have a height ranking. The lowest, examples, like a dream, like magic, at the end of Diamond Sutra. That's the lowest way. Then the higher way: reasoning, which is like what we've talked about the beauty and ugliness. And that's probably what Mahayana people mostly do. Now for some Mahayana, especially the Vajrayana, then they say, if you have a master who can point out directly the experience of this emptiness, that's the best way! And this can come in the form of many things. I think the Zen people have Koans. Anyway, conclusion: what you see or how it appears is not what it is. That is the emptiness for now.

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Next is nirvana. Nirvana is the fourth truth.

Nirvana in our head is something like you will get it after a long long time. Something like a heaven. That's not a good understanding of nirvana. Because Buddha said, Nirvana is beyond extreme. When all extreme is exhausted, that's the experience of nirvana.

Let me give you an example, this is from a Buddha Sutra. There is a girl dreaming and really longing for a child. She dreamed that she actually got pregnant and gave birth. She is very happy. In the same dream, the child died. She is unhappy. When she waked up, both that happiness and unhappiness have no reference. They don't exist. She is free from these two extremes. But this is difficult as I said before, because we already have painted a lot of these pictures, like the flowers, the Western Land and all that. They are very important. We need them. The Amitabha Sutra has many descriptions about the lotus land.

I always give this example. I'll give you this now. If you are asking me that do you really want enlightenment? I don't think so. Not because of my compassion that really drives me to samsara and help people. Nothing to do with that. Because I want to watch the World Cup and enjoy it. Because I want to read suspense books and see mystery movies. Do you know what happened when you get enlightenment? There is no time. The extreme of time is gone. There is no past, no present, and no future, which also actually means omniscience. So the whole next World Cup, everything, the results of play I know instantly. That's not fun. If you watch mystery movie, you know what will happen right from the beginning, you don't even have to watch the movie. No fun again. What I want to say is, usually, we are looking for an enlightenment that is partially omniscient, like enough to read your lover's diary or the like.

I'm telling you this is because I want to paint a picture of enlightenment, beyond time and beyond space. I do know you would think, wow…this is just beyond me. How I can do that? You should not be discouraged like this. This is doable. If you can really pursuit a path, let's say, a few minutes of meditation everyday, training your mind everyday. Now, I'd like to really mention this. People always recognized these sensations like, my forehead is itchy, or my third eye is about to burst out, or I had a good dream. Please don't speak about that. Because this is disgrace. It's not good.

The result of practice is when you began to have a little bit of shift. Let's say you are someone who gets so stuffed up when somebody is praising you, or get really depressed if someone criticizes you a little bit. Let's say, after a few years of mediation, you don't have much that kind of hang-ups. That is amazing! That is equal to ushnisha. The tip of Buddha's head. I mean even the smallest obsession, let's say you are someone who need to iron your underwear every night, because you are so obsessed with cleanness and tidiness. But after years of meditation, you think that doesn't matter, maybe your underwear haven't washed for two years. I would say it's a small enlightenment. That's what we are going to look for.

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Before I close, I'd like to take this opportunity to introduce you a little bit Vajrayana. Because what we've been talking about is basically the common ground for both Vajrayana and Mahayana. By the way, Vajrayana is Mahayana. I'd like to really tell you, without Hinayana, there is no Mahayana. Without these two, there is no Vajrayana. I know the Vajrayana is very ***y in some places. Many people forgot its danger also. A classical example. If you have jaundice, and you are looking at a conch, you see it's yellow. I want to present you how Mahayana and Vajrayana deal with this. Mahayana and Hinayana, they say, look, you should eat this medicine. Your idea of yellow conch is wrong. You should eat medicine and get rid of that yellow conch. Now in the Vajrayana, they say it's a quick path. The reason why it's a quick path, they say it's because you bypass this thinking of yellow conch is wrong, I should eat medicine, so I can get rid of the yellow conch. They don't emphasize all these. Immediately, you begin to think it's white. Because it is white. You are looking at a conch. You are seeing at a yellow conch because you have jaundice. Then think, think and think it's white. The reason why I want to tell you this is because Vajrayana has rituals. All rituals involve deity. All the deities from your self-reflection are like six-armed and stuff like that. The reason why I say this is exactly why we talked about the conch. Instead thinking I will become him, I am him or her! But this has been misused a lot.

In fact, many Hinayana and some Mahayana, they don't believe Vajrayana is Buddhism. They think it is Hinduism. Especially the Tibetan Vajrayana Buddhism is under scrutiny of many scholars. And rightfully so. I forget the name of this master. This Tibetan master was going to India. On the way in Nepal, a Hindu master was going inside to Tibet. They met on the road. A Hindu master was going in. A Tibetan master was going out. The Tibetan master asked this Hindu master, where are you going? The Hindu master said, oh, I'm going to Tibet to teach Buddhism. "But you are Hindu.""I'm very much Hinduism. But I know Buddhism. At the moment the Tibetans are so enthusiastic about Buddhism. They'll give me a lot of gold." We have a story like that.

There's another more interesting story. The Atisha Sagara, when he heard XXX died in India. He cried. His disciple asked him, you've heard so many bad news, but why you cry on this? He said, in whole this world, there are only two people who can actually differentiate between Hinduism Tantra and Buddhism Tantra. I am here in Tibet. The other one died in India. So there is no more who can differentiate that. We are talking about the thing happened more than a thousand years ago. I'd like to give you this. You need to think about it, and discuss it with people like him (Prof. Sharf).

Q & A.

Question : About retreat.

Retreat has a lot of definitions. Basically you are supposed to creat a boundary. There is an outer boundary such as I'm not going out of my room, out of my cave, or out of my monastery. Then you lock yourself in there for maybe one day, one year, one lifetime. Right? That's only the outer boundary. This kind of retreat is a sort of ordinary retreat. But the highest boundary you can make is between the past mind and the future mind. Being in the present. Even when you are brushing your teeth. That kind of retreat is the best.

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接下来是第二个见地.所有这些痛苦是从哪里来的?不只那些粗重的痛苦,比如头痛,胃痛啊.基本上,是在谈到我们人类那种求不得的痛苦, 而且必须一直跟不确定性生活在一起.我们一直都活在一种不确定的状态下,就像下一刻我们还能看到我们的亲朋好友吗?很难说.那这是什么?这个痛苦的基本原因是什么?悉达多并没有说,哦,他发现有一个来自银河之外的邪恶势力侵入我们,所以我们会这样.没有这种所谓在我们身外的邪恶东西给我们制造痛苦,他发现是因为我执的关系.所以一切心流,一切情绪只要直接或间接跟我执有关系,就会带来痛苦.我们的一切情绪,包括爱,恨,嫉妒都来自我执.这是一个很大的发现.作为人类,我们喜欢怪罪别人.根据第二个见地,你不能怪罪任何人,如果你要怪罪的话,就要怪罪我执这种习气.这在佛教研究中是个很大的主题.我们在佛教中听过很多关于无我的教法.但我想要跟大家说一个事情,并不是因为佛陀发现自我是邪恶的,因此说执着自我是错的.完全不是那样.所以再度要说的是,第二个见地也完全非宗教性的.可是再度不幸的是,这种反思无我的方法又变得非常宗教性.悉达多并不是说发现了邪恶的自我.他也从来没有说过,执着自我会带你到痛苦.事实上,他发现没有自我.因此执着于自我是错的.这就是我们为什么会受苦.这个非常重要,因为我们佛教徒经常说,哦,我很自我,我很自私,所以我们经常批判自己,而且以一种非常伦理或宗教性的态度来批判自己.


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(仁波切在一张纸上写:12 13 14.然后指着13说,你会说这是什么?你会说13.如果将纸倒过来,13就变成了B.为什么会这样?因为有A和C.当13在12和14中间时,你认为它是13.但在A和C中间时,它变成了B.)






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今天我们要谈另外两个见地. 这两个非常难.事实上,昨天谈到的两个真理,一个是诸法无常,以及一切来自自我的情绪都是痛苦.这两个是相对真理.接下来要谈的两个真理就是绝对/究竟真理.究竟真理就像昨天沙尔夫教授所说的那样,我刚开口想说的时候,就不对了.正如佛经上所说,要解释究竟真理,佛之口都不足够.






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还有一个更有趣的故事.是有关阿底峡尊者的.当他听说某大师(附:对不起,名字有待考证)在印度圆寂,他哭了.尊者的弟子问他,你听过这么多坏消息,为什么唯独为这个哭泣呢?他说,是因为这个世界上,只有两个人能区分印度教的密续和佛教的密续.我在西藏.而另一个在印度已经圆寂了.再也没有其他人能区分了. 我们在说的是一千多年前的事情.我跟大家说这些,是希望大家能想想,然后跟像沙尔夫教授这样的人谈.

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