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

Thursday, May 31, 2007

The Significance of Vesak - Buddha Day

(Picture source: flickr.com)

"Heaven above and earth beneath, I am the Honoured One, the One who liberates all who suffer in the Three Realms."

The Significance of Vesak - Buddha Day

The significance of Vesak lies with the Buddha and his universal peace message to mankind.

As we recall the Buddha and his Enlightenment, we are immediately reminded of the unique and most profound knowledge and insight which arose in him on the night of his Enlightenment. This coincided with three important events which took place, corresponding to the three watches or periods of the night.

During the first watch of the night, when his mind was calm, clear and purified, light arose in him, knowledge and insight arose. He saw his previous lives, at first one, then two, three up to five, then multiples of them .. . ten, twenty, thirty to fifty. Then 100, 1000 and so on.... As he went on with his practice, during the second watch of the night, he saw how beings die and are reborn, depending on their Karma, how they disappear and reappear from one form to another, from one plane of existence to another. Then during the final watch of the night, he saw the arising and cessation of all phenomena, mental and physical. He saw how things arose dependent on causes and conditions. This led him to perceive the arising and cessation of suffering and all forms of unsatisfactoriness paving the way for the eradication of all taints of cravings. With the complete cessation of craving, his mind was completely liberated. He attained to Full Enlightenment. The realisation dawned in him together with all psychic powers.

This wisdom and light that flashed and radiated under the historic Bodhi Tree at Buddha Gaya in the district of Bihar in Northern India, more than 2500 years ago, is of great significance to human destiny. It illuminated the way by which mankind could cross, from a world of superstition, or hatred and fear, to a new world of light, of true love and happiness.

The heart of the Teachings of the Buddha is contained in the teachings of the Four Noble Truths, namely,

The Noble Truth of Dukkha or suffering
The Origin or Cause of suffering
The End or Cessation of suffering
the Path which leads to the cessation of all sufferings

The First Noble Truth is the Truth of Dukkha which has been generally translated as 'suffering'. But the term Dukkha, which represents the Buddha's view of life and the world, has a deeper philosophical meaning. Birth, old age, sickness and death are universal. All beings are subject to this unsatisfactoriness. Separation from beloved ones and pleasant conditions, association with unpleasant persons and conditions, and not getting what one desires - these are also sources of suffering and unsatisfactoriness. The Buddha summarises Dukkha in what is known as the Five Grasping Aggregates.

Herein, lies the deeper philosophical meaning of Dukkha for it encompasses the whole state of being or existence.

Our life or the whole process of living is seen as a flux of energy comprising of the Five aggregates, namely the Aggregate of Form or the Physical process, Feeling, Perception, Mental Formation, and Consciousness. These are usually classified as mental and physical processes, which are constantly in a state of flux or change.

When we train our minds to observe the functioning of mental and physical processes we will realise the true nature of our lives. We will see how it is subject to change and unsatisfactoriness. And as such, there is no real substance or entity or Self which we can cling to as 'I', 'my' or 'mine'.

When we become aware of the unsatisfactory nature of life, we would naturally want to get out from such a state. It is at this point that we begin to seriously question ourselves about the meaning and purpose of life. This will lead us to seek the Truth with regards to the true nature of existence and the knowledge to overcome unsatisfactoriness.

From the Buddhist point of view, therefore, the purpose of life is to put an end to suffering and all other forms of unsatisfactoriness - to realise peace and real happiness. Such is the significance of the understanding and the realisation of the First Noble Truth.

The Second Noble Truth explains the Origin or Cause of suffering. Tanha or craving is the universal cause of suffering. It includes not only desire for sensual pleasures, wealth and power, but also attachment to ideas', views, opinions, concepts, and beliefs. It is the lust for flesh, the lust for continued existence (or eternalism) in the sensual realms of existence, as well as the realms of form and the formless realms. And there is also the lust and craving for non-existence (or nihilism). These are all different Forms of selfishness, desiring things for oneself, even at the expense of others.

Not realizing the true nature of one's Self, one clings to things which are impermanent, changeable and perishable. The failure to satisfy one's desires through these things; causes disappointment and suffering.

Craving is a powerful mental force present in all of us. It is the root cause of our sufferings. It is this craving which binds us in Samsara - the repeated cycle of birth and` death.

The Third Noble Truth points to the cessation of suffering. Where there is no craving, there is no becoming, no rebirth. Where there is no rebirth, there is no decay. no, old age, no death, hence no suffering. That is how suffering is ended, once and for all.

The Fourth Noble Truth explains the Path or the Way which leads to the cessation of suffering. It is called the Noble Eightfold Path.

(Picture source: flickr.com)

The Noble Eightfold path avoids the extremes of self-indulgence on one hand and self-torture on the other. It consists of Right Understanding, Right Thought, Right Speech, Right Action, Right Livelihood, Right Effort, Right Mindfulness and Right Concentration.

These path factors may be summarised into 3 stages of training, involving morality, mental culture and wisdom.

Morality or good conduct is the avoidance of evil or unwholesome actions -- actions which are tainted by greed, hatred and delusion; and the performance of the good or wholesome actions, - actions which are free from greed, hatred and delusion, but motivated by liberality, loving-kindness and wisdom.

The function of good conduct or moral restraint is to free one's mind from remorse (or guilty conscience). The mind that is free from remorse (or guilt) is naturally calm and tranquil, and ready for concentration with awareness.

The concentrated and cultured mind is a contemplative and analytical mind. It is capable of seeing cause and effect, and the true nature of existence, thus paving the way for wisdom and insight.

Wisdom in the Buddhist context, is the realisation of the fundamental truths of life, basically the Four Noble Truths. The understanding of the Four Noble Truths provide us with a proper sense of purpose and direction in life. They form the basis of problem-solving.

The message of the Buddha stands today as unaffected by time and the expansion of knowledge as when they were first enunciated.

No matter to what lengths increased scientific knowledge can extend man's mental horizon, there is room for the acceptance and assimilation for further discovery within -the framework of the teachings of the Buddha.

The teaching of the Buddha is open to all to see and judge for themselves. The universality of the teachings of the Buddha has led one of the world's greatest scientists, Albert Einstein to declare that 'if there is any religion that could cope with modern scientific needs, it would be Buddhism'

The teaching of the Buddha became a great civilising force wherever it went. It appeals to reason and freedom of thought, recognising the dignity and potentiality of the human mind. It calls for equality, fraternity and understanding, exhorting its followers to avoid evil, to do good and to purify their minds.

Realising the transient nature of life and all worldly phenomena, the Buddha has advised us to work out our deliverance with heedfulness, as 'heedfulness is the path to the deathless'.

His clear and profound teachings on the cultivation of heedfulness otherwise known as Satipatthana or the Four Foundations of Mindfulness, is the path for the purification of beings - for the overcoming of sorrows and lamentation, for the destruction of all mental and physical sufferings, for the attainment of insight and knowledge and for the realisation of Nibbana. This has been verified by his disciples. It is therefore a path, a technique which may be verified by all irrespective of caste, colour or creed.

- Venerable Mahinda


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Wednesday, May 30, 2007

The Delusion of Appearances

The Delusion of Appearances
(Section XXXII of Diamond Sutra)

"If even a Bodhisattva of Great Courage filled innumerable galaxies with the seven precious treasures, and offered them as a gift to the supremely enlightened ones, his merit would not compare with the immeasurable merit of a good man or woman who took just one stanza from this Prajnaparamita discourse on dharma and remembered, recited, studied and illuminated it for others. How is this done? In a way which is free from appearances. Thus one illuminates it for others."

Like a meteor, like darkness, as a flickering lamp, An illusion, like hoar-frost or a bubble, Like clouds, a flash of lightning, or a dream: So is all conditioned existence to be seen.

Thus spoke Buddha.

(Picture source: flickr.com)


须菩提,若人言,佛说我见、人见、众生见、寿者见。须菩提,于意云何,是 人解我所说义不?不也,世尊,是人不解如来所说义。何以故?世尊说我见、人见、众生见、寿者见。即非我见、人见、众生见、寿者见,是名我见、人见、众生见、寿者见。须菩提,发阿耨多罗三藐三菩提心者,于一切法,应如是知,如是见,如是信解,不生法相。须菩提,所言法相者,如来说即非法相,是名法相。须菩提,若有人以满无量阿僧祗世界七宝,持用布施。若有善男子善女人,发菩提心者,持于此经,乃至四句偈等,受持读诵,为人演说,其福胜彼。云何为人演说?不取于相,如如不动。何以故?


~End of post~


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Monday, May 28, 2007

Master Hsu Yun's Brief Biography

By Upasaka Lu K'uan Yu (Charles Luk)
The Mountain Path / Vol. 1 - OCTOBER 1964 - No. 4
(Source: http://www.hsuyun.com/en/hsuyun/hsuyun-life.html)

(In picture: Ven. Hsu Yun) Click here for more pictures.

Ch'an Master Hsu Yun was born on 26th April 1840 at Chuanchowfu in Fukien province. His father was an official of the prefecture and his mother died immediately after giving birth to him. His uncle was childless and adopted him as his heir; so his grandmother decided that he should take two wives to continue both families.

When he was 11, his grandmother died and monks were invited to perform Buddhist rites. This was the first time he saw monks or sacred objects and it made him very happy. After this he read the sutras which deeply impressed him. When his uncle took him on pilgrimage to Nanyo, he became so attached to the holy place that he was reluctant to return home. When he was 14, his father discovered that he wanted to renounce the world and, in order to keep him, engaged a Taoist to teach him meditation. After practicing Taoism for three years, he decided that its teaching failed to reach the ultimate goal. One day he fled to Nanyo but was soon found and brought home. Some time later his father sent for the two girls and celebrated Hsu Yun's marriage. Although the latter lived with his two wives, he had no intercourse with them but taught them the Dharma, which they understood.

At 19, together with his cousin Fu Kuo, he fled to Kushan monastery at Fuchow where his head was shaved, and here he followed the Master Miao Lien and received full ordination. After being ordained, his cousin left in search of enlightened masters but was never heard of again. Hearing that his father had sent servants to look for him, Hsu Yun hid in a grotto behind the monastery where he practiced austerities for the next three years. At 25 he learned that his father had died in Hunan province and that his stepmother with his two wives had entered a nunnery.

During these years in the grotto, he made very good progress and had most interesting experiences. He says in his autobiography: "I was able to make my heart content and became free to go anywhere I wanted. As there were mountains to stay on and herbs to eat, I started wandering from place to place." At 31, he went to Wenchow where he met a monk who urged him to call on the old master Yung Ching who was well-versed in both teaching and Ch'an transmission. This master urged him to resume eating rice and to use the Kung An (koan) "Who is dragging this corpse of mine?" and ordered him to study the Ch'an rules, the Lotus teaching and other important sutras. From 36 to 43 he went on a pilgrimage to P'u T'o island off Ningpo, which was the bodhimandala of Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva, thence to the monastery of King Asoka at Ningpo and to many other holy places where he called on well-known masters and made good progress in his Ch'an practice.

(In picture: Ven. Hsu Yun's Stupa at Nan Hua Monastery)

At 43, he took stock of his achievements which were not complete and remembering how he had sacrificed his love for his parents in order to join the Sangha, he was ashamed that he had attained so little. In order to repay his debt of gratitude to them, he decided on a long pilgrimage from P'u T'o to the Five-Peaked Mountain (the bodhimandala of Manjusri) in the North-west to pray for their rebirth in the Pure Land. From the thatched temple of Fa Hua on P'u T'o island, he set out with incense sticks in his hands, prostrating himself every three paces until he reached his destination.

In his long walk with prostration at every third step and concentration on repeating Manjusri's name, he succeeded in realizing singleness of thought which was the key to his subsequent success in Ch'an training. Twice he was in danger of death and twice he was saved by Manjusri who appeared as a beggar called Wen Chi to hide his identity, instead of Wen Shu as he was called in China. The first time he had been caught in a heavy snowstorm and was very hungry, tired and exhausted for several days after which he was given some yellow rice gruel which brought him back to life. Later he caught malaria and dysentery and was dying in a deserted temple on the top of a mountain when the beggar appeared again to give him the hot water and medicine that saved him. Chi asked several questions which Hsu Yun did not understand and could not answer because he was still unenlightened and did not understand the living meaning of Ch'an dialogue (Japanese, mondo). Although he was told by the beggar that the latter was known in every monastery on the Five-Peaked Mountain, when he arrived there and asked the monks about Wen Chi no one knew him. Later he mentioned the incident to an elderly abbot who brought his palms together and said: "That beggar was the transformation body of Manjusri Bodhisattva." Only then did the master realize that he had actually met the Bodhisattva who had saved him twice on the long journey.

After sitting in meditation, he paid reverence to the Bodhisattva on the Five-Peaked Mountain, thus fulfilling his vow taken three years before to pray for the liberation of his parents. During this long journey, which took three years, he succeeded in realizing singleness of mind (i.e., the pure and undisturbed mind) even in the midst of hardship, adversity, illness and danger. On the mountain he saw, as many other pilgrims including devotees from foreign countries have done, balls of light dancing from one peak to another.

The master then went west and south, passing through many holy places where he paid reverence and sat in meditation until he reached the holy site of Samantabhadra Bodhisattva on mount O Mei in West Szechwan. There he saw at night countless Buddha-lights, like a constellation of bright stars in the sky. He continued his westward journey and entered Tibet where he visited the Potala, the seat of the Dalai Lama, and that of the Panchen Lama at Tashi Lunpo monastery. He then left Tibet to visit the holy sites of India, after which he crossed to sea to Ceylon, and thence to Burma. He then returned to China where he first visited the Cock's Foot Mountain in Yunnan which was the bodhimandala of Mahakasyapa, and then passed through the provinces of Kweichow, Hunan, Hupeh, Kiangsi and Anhwei. In his autobiography the master wrote of these two years of travel: "The scenery changed every day but my pure mind was like a bright moon hanging solitarily in the sky. My health grew more robust and my steps were rapid."

In his 54th and 55th years, the master stayed on a mountain to read the tripitaka. At 56, he was invited to the famous monastery of Gao Ming at Yangehow to assist its abbot in supervising the twelve weeks of Ch'an meditation. On his way to Yangehow, he slipped and fell into a rising river and was caught in a fisherman's net. He was carried to a nearby temple where he was revived. He was very ill but went on to Kao Ming monastery where he was asked to help at the forthcoming meditation weeks. Without disclosing his illness, he politely declined the abbot's request, asking only to be allowed to attend the meditation meetings. His refusal was regarded as an affront to the whole community and, according to Kao Ming's rules of discipline, he was punished by being beaten with a wooden ruler. As the master was practising the relinquishment of attachment to ego, ksanti-paramita and virya-paramita, he willingly accepted this punishment which aggravated his illness. In order to cure it, he sat firmly in the meditation hall day and night with increasing zeal. He said in his autobiography: "In the purity of my singleness of mind, I forgot all about my body. Twenty days later my illness vanished completely. From that moment, with all my thoughts entirely wiped out, my practice took effect throughout the day and night. My steps were as swift as if I was flying in the air. One evening, after meditation, I opened my eyes and suddenly saw I was in brightness similar to broad daylight in which I could see everything within and without the monastery ..." Knowing that he had only achieved an advanced but not the final stage, he refused to cling to it, resolving to wipe out the final hindrance caused by his last subtle attachment to ego and Dharma. One night when the meditation ended after six successive incense sticks had been burned, a monk came to fill his cup of tea. As the boiling water splashed over his hand, he dropped the cup, which fell to the ground and broke with a sound which was heard by his pure mind1 that was now able to perform its non-discriminating function of perceiving externals. Instantly he cut off his last link with samsara and rejoiced at his realization of the Absolute. He wrote in his autobiography: "I was like someone awaking from a dream" which meant that he had leaped over the worldly stream to the other shore of Bodhi. He then chanted the following two gathas:

1 - A cup fell to the ground
With a sound clearly heard.
As space was pulverised,
The mad mind came to a stop.

2 - When the hand released its hold, the cup fell and was shattered,
'Tis hard to talk when the family breaks up or someone dies.
Spring comes with fragrant flowers exuberating everywhere;
Mountains, rivers and the great earth are only the Tathagata.
1 - 'Pure mind' is a technical term for the innate primordial intellect.

After his own enlightenment, the master immediately began his Bodhisattva work of guiding others out of the sea of suffering. His first act was to pray to the Buddha for the liberation of his mother whom he had never seen. Previously he had taken the vow to go to the monastery of King Asoka at Ningpo to pay reverence to the Buddha's relics and to burn off there one of his fingers as his offering to the Buddha for her liberation. Each day he prostrated three thousand times and increased the number until he ached all over and was seriously ill. He became so weak that the chief monk did not approve of his burning a finger on account of the risk involved. The master burst into a flood of tears and finally the superintendent of the monastery and another monk agreed to assist him in fulfilling his vow. He was helped to the main hall where together with the assembly, he paid reverence to the Buddha, performed the ritual and recited the text of the rules of repentance and reform. He wrote later: "With singleness of mind, I repeated the Buddha's name and prayed Him to liberate my affectionate mother. At the beginning I felt pain, but as gradually my mind became pure, my awakening wisdom manifested clearly ... When my finger had burned off, I arose to bow down before the Buddha. I did not need others to support me and entirely forgot my illness. After walking unaided to present my thanks to the assembly, I returned to the sick bay. Everyone present was surprised at my transformation, and I moved out of the hut for sick monks."

From then until his death, the master performed his Bodhisattva work by expounding sutras, transmitting the precepts, reconstructing many temples that had fallen in ruins, building new ones and starting seminaries for novices, Buddhist associations for lay men and free Buddhist schools for children. His field of activities was not confined to China but also included Burma, Thailand, Malaya, Singapore and Hong Kong where the number of his disciples could not be counted.

In the course of this Bodhisattva work, the master survived dangers, illnesses, poisoning, beating, torture and persecution. A translation of his autobiography is being published by instalments in World Buddhism, a monthly journal published in Dehiwela, Ceylon. Before passing away on 13th October 1959, the master said to his attendant: "After my death and cremation, please mix my ashes with sugar, flour and oil, knead all this into nine balls and throw them into the river as an offering to living beings in the water. If you help me to fulfil my vow, I shall thank you for ever."

Hsu Yun in his extreme old age had chosen hardship and suffering to protect the Buddha Dharma in his country instead of seeking safety across the water in Hong Kong.


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Rare Buddhist relics on display in Singapore to mark Vesak Day

Rare Buddhist relics on display in Singapore
Channel NewsAsia | 27 May 2007

SINGAPORE: Rare Buddhist relics and art works are on display at the Nei Xue Tang Buddhist Art Museum to mark Vesak Day.

Among them is a portrait of Master Hsu Yun by renowned Singapore artist Tan Swie Hian.

The old master had lived through turbulent times in China.

But that did not stop him from spreading the philosophy of Buddhism till his death, at 120 years old.

Hsu Yun is considered by many to be one of the greatest followers of Buddhism.

"Anybody who sees Hsu Yun's robe, particularly Buddhists, their knees go weak and they go bowing down in great devotion. Our artist friends like the robe itself because it is like a piece of art work....material gathered by the monks, and they patch it, because they are supposed to renounce wealth, their lives as simple as possible," said Woon Wee Teng, an art collector and caretaker of Nei Xue Tang.

Besides the robe, a letter written by Hsu Yun and his alms bowl are also on display.

They are all on loan from Hsu Yun's disciple, Master Yi Zhao from Hong Kong.

During these two weeks, Nei Xue Tang is also exhibiting the fine carvings of Guan Yin from the Tang Dynasty.

The museum hopes it will inspire visitors to contemplate the virtues of compassion - for which Guan Yin was known - during this Vesak Day celebrations. - CNA/ir

Event Information:
28th to 14 June 2007

235 Cantonment Road,
Singapore 089766
Tel: 6372 0189 Fax: 6533 0807

Bus Services:
75, 167 and 196

Nearest Mrt:
Take Mrt to Outram Park Station (EW16 - NE3)
and walk 700m south along Cantonment Road

Car Park :
Car park is at the end of Yan Kit Road.
Entry through Yan Kit Road only.

Admission Fees:
SGD $5.00 Adults / SGD $3.00 Children
(Children below 8 years old are not permitted)

Daily Opening Hours:
10am to 5pm



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Friday, May 25, 2007

How to practise vipassana (or mindfulness) in daily life?

Here are some chatlogs between myself (CK) or my friend (AEN), and my friend 'Thusness' who is a good practitioner, on 'how to practise vipassana in daily life'. I hope it will benefit anyone in the Path.

Ck: Thusness, how to practise vipassana in daily life?
Thusness: just observe every sensation.
Thusness: until one day u are able to experience "emptiness as form".
Thusness: then it becomes effortless.
Thusness: CK u cannot imagine the bliss when one clearly experiences that.
Thusness: but there is no point to over stress anything.
Thusness: *Smile*

Ck: Thusness just observe every sensation... give me an eg?
Thusness: when u breath, u don't have to care what is the right way of breathing, whether u breath hard or soft, smooth or fine...just experience as much clarity as u can...just that experience...regardless of what it is like.
Thusness: same for all other experiences.

Ck: what abt sound? hows it?
Thusness: when u hear, just the sound...the totality of the sound. There is no how but just to do away with all arbitary thoughts. Hear the sound as clear as u can be.
Ck: then what abt thoughts?
Ck: thoughts r v sticky *Sad*
Thusness: thoughts seldom arise if the practice is correct. If it arises, then not to chase after its meaning. Not to answer urself what it means, not to dwell in 'what'...then u will resort to just the moment of awareness.
Ck: when i try to be just openly aware, i notice that i jump from sense to sense
Ck: like one moment hearing, then touch, etc
Thusness: that is okie.
Thusness: our nature is so.

Ck: whats the right way to do it
Thusness: don't think that u should concentrate.
Thusness: ur only duty is to sense with as much clarity as possible.

Ck: and for all the sensations, i dun dwell in the 'what'?
Thusness: ur mind is looking for a way, a method
Thusness: but what that is needed is only the clarity.
Thusness: however because our mind is so molded and affect by our habitual propensities, it becomes difficult what that is direct and simple.
Thusness: just stop asking 'how', 'what', 'why'.
Thusness: and submerge into the moment.
Thusness: and experience.
Thusness: i perfer u to describe.
Thusness: not to ask how, what, why, when, where and who.
Thusness: only this is necessary.

Ck: ok
Thusness: if u practice immediately, u will understand.
Thusness: if u entertain who, what, where, when and how, u create more propensities and dull ur own luminosity.

Ck: i shuffle between self inquiry, observing sensations n thoughts, being aware... its ok right
Thusness: yes
Ck: means start work i'll hv even more propensities...
Thusness: that is when u do not understand what's awareness, but it is true to certain extend. *Smile*

Another conversation 'Thusness' with my friend, 'AEN':

Thusness: tell me what u think is awareness?
Thusness: in ur own words
Thusness: just say

AEN: just the knowingness, the sensation or thoughts etc
Thusness: look at the skin of ur hands
AEN: ok
Thusness: looks real?
AEN: yea
Thusness: touch it...feel it as much as u can
Thusness: can u don't think of a background

AEN: yea
Thusness: and know that, that is awareness?
AEN: ya
Thusness: that is all.

1 and a half year ago:

Thusness: so far what do u understand about awareness?
AEN: hmm like u say lor... awareness is never lost
Thusness: what is awareness right now?
Thusness: when u say thought arises, is thought awareness?

AEN: thought is not awareness, but there is awareness of thought
AEN: lol
Thusness: so what is thought?
Thusness: and where is awareness?
Thusness: same like taste, is the taste awareness?

AEN: i think u cant define awareness to a 'thing' :P
Thusness: so is taste or thought a thing? *Smile*
Thusness: u practice meditation now right?
Thusness: *Smile*

AEN: never practise for quite some time :P
AEN: taste or thought is not a thing
AEN: lol
Thusness: so do u think awareness is a party behind thinking thought or experiencing taste?
Thusness: *Smile*
Thusness: lol

AEN: no
Thusness: taste is not a thing, then what is it?
AEN: just the awareness
Thusness: experience this awareness with totality. *Smile*

~End of post~


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Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Why are you so unhappy?

(Picture source: flickr.com)

Why are you so unhappy?
Because 99,9 per cent
of everything you think
and everything you do
is for yourself —
and there isn’t one.

From Ask the Awakened by Wei Wu Wei

~End of post~


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Monday, May 21, 2007

101 Ways to Be Kind to Animals Every Day

(Article source: petsmart.com)

Need suggestions for things you can do to show kindness to your furry, finned, or feathered friends? Here are 101 possibilities for all creatures, wild and domestic, large and small. Consider being kind to animals all year-long.

1. Convince local lawmakers to establish dog parks in your community and offer to raise money to help maintain them. The country's oldest dog park opened in 1979 in Berkeley, California. These fenced-in areas allow well-behaved dogs to romp and run off-leash.

2. Bid on a celebrity photograph or piece of artwork at PAWS/LA's annual auction to raise money for pet-owning people with HIV/AIDS. For more details, contact Pets are Wonderful Support/LA, a nonprofit group in Los Angeles, at (323) 876-7297.

3. Renovate vacant city-owned buildings and convert them into pet adoption centers. Just follow the footsteps of Merrill Chernov, M.D., a physician who led the fund-raising drive for a pet adoption center in the Mesa and Phoenix, Arizona, area.

4. Practice what you've preached. Contact your local humane shelter and place of worship and organize a day to bring adoptable shelter dogs and cats to your church or synagogue after worship service.

5. Buy a federal duck stamp offered by the National Wildlife Refuge System. For your contribution, you benefit more than 200 species of birds at the nation's 92 million acres of wildlife refuges. And displaying this stamp admits you free to all national wildlife sanctuaries. For details, call the Federal Duck Stamp office toll-free at (877) 887-5508 or check out their web site at www.duckstamps.fws.gov.

6. Create a pet-care plan in your will to guarantee a happy and secure future for your animal pal in the event you die before it does. Remember, cats have nine lives, and some birds can live beyond 100.

7. Walk the dog of an elderly neighbor twice a week, especially at night or during inclement weather.

8. Volunteer to bathe dogs at local animal shelter one day a month.

9. Help a friend find a lost pet by posting flyers with the animal's picture at supermarkets and shops. Also give a call to Petfinders (800) 223-4747 to help in the search.

10. Spend a few extra dollars and buy a specialty license plate that raises money for endangered animals such as the manatee in Florida or the tiger in Pennsylvania. Drive with pride knowing you're doing your part to help them.

11. Erect a bird feeder in your yard with a baffle to keep squirrels from raiding the seed supply. (Skip the baffle if you want to be kind to squirrels too).

12. Build a bat house in your rural backyard. If you give bats free housing, they'll return the favor by eating hundreds of mosquitoes and other winged pests each night so you can sit on your porch in peace.

13. Donate old towels, blankets, and pet toys to your local animal shelter. Or make a trip to the pet supply store and buy bags of food, collars, leashes, and toys to drop off at the shelter.

14. Switch to pet-safe antifreeze. Sierra, made by Old World Industries, Inc. Conventional antifreeze contains propylene glycol that carries a tempting but fatal taste to animals. Just one teaspoon can kill a cat, and two ounces can kill a dog.

15. Ensure your pet's safe return if it scoots out of the house by putting an ID tag, license tag, microchip, or tattoo on it. Offer ID tags as gifts for your pet-owning friends.

16. Patronize pet-friendly hotels when you travel with your dog or cat. Don't try to sneak them in. Let them feel at home in a hotel that caters to their needs. Forget about taking your dog along on your Hawaiian vacation. The state is rabies-free and wants to stay that way. Under state law, all dogs and cats arriving in Hawaii must be quarantined between 30 and 120 days. Stick to the mainland for your treks with your furry pals.

17. Place a sticker on your window to alert firefighters that pets are inside in the event of a fire or other emergency. Make sure the sticker indicates how many and of what species.

18. Raise your cat indoors, limiting its outdoor exploration to 5 to 10 minutes each day on a leash with you. Indoor cats are at less risk for contagious diseases or injuries due to fights or cars.

19. Show true love for your older dog or cat by requesting your veterinarian do blood and urine tests on it by age 7. These tests can identify the early stages of diseases that can be treated more effectively than in later stages.

20. Dedicate a drawer or box in your house for pet-grooming supplies and pet medications that are safely out of paw's reach.

21. Animal-proof your trash cans. Fasten lids with rope, chains, or bungee cords or tie the handle to a stake driven into the ground to stop scavenger snacking by neighborhood dogs, raccoons, and other critters.

22. Devote a week's vacation to being a volunteer at Best Friends Animal Sanctuary in Kanab, Utah, caring for homeless dogs and cats. The world's largest animal sanctuary features Dog Town and Wildcats Village. For more details, call (435) 644-2001 or visit its web site: www.bestfriends.org.

23. Adopt a seal at the Marine Mammal Center in Sausilito, California. Sorry, you can't take it home and let it swim in your pool. But for $25, you will provide enough herring to feed a malnourished seal or sea lion for a day. For $50, you will provide enough antibiotics to heal a marine animal injured by a fishing line or marine debris. Splurge and donate $100 to pay for a diagnostic x-ray for fractured-flipper surgery. For details, call (415) 289-SEAL.

24. Donate money to the Delta Society, an organization that trains volunteers and screens their pets to provide therapy to 350,000 people each year in hospitals and nursing homes. Based in Renton, Washington, the Delta Society can be contacted by calling (425) 226-7357 or by going to its web site, www.deltasociety.org.

25. Attend a fashion show featuring a line of faux fur fashions or observe "Fur Free Friday" held every year in late November. You'll literally save the hides of foxes, minks, raccoons, and other fuzzy friends.

26. Keep your dog or cat in a quiet, safe place inside your home on the Fourth of July. If you'll be away, turn on the radio or television to offset the exploding noise and close the drapes and blinds to block the light-up-the-sky fireworks. Leave a pile of favored toys and food treats for solace.

27. Buy heated water bowls for both migrating and local birds during cold winter months and refresh daily.

28. Practice good dental hygiene on your dog and cat. If you can't maneuver a toothbrush inside their mouths, try rubbing specially designed pet toothpast gels onto their gums with your finger at least three times a week. Have your veterinarian professionally scale their teeth to remove stubborn tarter.

29. Plant trees and shrubs in your yard that will attract birds and butterflies. North American native birds flock to evergreens, hawthorns, junipers, and mulberries. Butterflies flutter to bee balm plants and apple trees.

30. Avoid using chemical-loaded pesticides on your lawn to kill weeds and insect pests. They can harm visiting birds, squirrels, and other critters. Consider using botanical insecticides such as neem and pyrethrins as well as natural approaches such as pulling weeds, roots and all, before they flower and seed.

31. Learn how to raise puppies that will grow up to become assistance dogs for the disabled. Or volunteer to help the International Association of Assistance Dog Partners. For more details, contact them at their headquarters in Sterling Heights, Michigan, at (810) 826-3938.

32. Delay adopting a dog or cat until a couple weeks after Christmas. Just like other gift returns, far too many dogs and cats offered as Christmas presents find their way back to the local animal shelters. And with the holiday stress and hectic pace behind you, you'll be able to devote more quality time to bonding with your new pal.

33. Select a dog breed that matches your personality and lifestyle. Size doesn't matter as much. If you're a major TV watcher, a bull mastiff is more appropriate than an energized Jack Russell terrier.

34. Enroll your puppy in a local socialization school starting at 8 weeks of age. The sooner you can expose it to strangers, friends, costumes, vacuum cleaners, cars, and cats, the better chance it will grow up to be a well-adjusted dog able to adapt to change.

35. Weigh your dog and cat each week to check against obesity as well as rapid weight loss that may be due to a medical condition. A couple of pounds weight loss in a dog or cat is comparable to 10 to 20 pounds in a human.

36. Give your pet weekly mini-medical exams at home. Open its mouth and check for bleeding gums, chipped teeth, or (yuck) doggie breath. Take a close peek at its eyes and ears for signs of discharge or infection. Finger its paws and massage its torso to detect any cuts or lumps. Conditions caught early have a better rate of recovery. And there's a hidden bonus: Your pet will become used to being handled, making for more harmonious vet visits.

37. Slow to five miles per hour in wake areas while boating to protect manatees and other mammal life. Manatees are slow-moving sea cows that can't dodge boat propellers quickly.

38. Purchase calendars, stationary, and address labels from nonprofit organizations that contribute a portion of the proceeds to help endangered animals.

39. Visit Dollywood in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, and stop by the area that houses injured eagles. Singer Dolly Parton contributes some of her amusement park profits to nurse eagles back to health so that they can be re-released into the wild. For more details, call Dollywood at (423) 428-9488.

40. Use glow in the dark collars and leashes when walking your dog at night to heighten your visibility, especially with motorists.

41. Give your little dog a break from trying to match your strides by carrying it in a kennel stroller. This pet carrier offers safety, comfort, and mobility for dogs under 13 pounds.

42. Give your animal a spirituality boost by taking it to a local place of worship that conducts annual Blessing of the Animals services, usually around Easter. Among the blessed last year at the All Saints Episcopal Church in Long Island, New York, was Molly, a black bear cub brought in by members of the Long Island Game Farm.

43. Hire a professional licensed pet sitter to take care of your pets (and your mail and plants) while on vacation or business trips instead of boarding the animals at kennels. Nothing beats home, sweet home to a dog or cat. To find a licensed sitter in your area, call the National Association for Professional Pet Sitters Referral Network at (800) 296-PETS or visit www.petsitters.org.

44. Seek a veterinarian who makes house calls to care for the skittish cats or dogs stressed by car rides and visits to veterinary clinics. These vets also handle households with many animals.

45. Participate in the local beach cleanups to remove debris that can harm birds, sea turtles, and other beach critters.

46. Slow down on curves on winding roads in areas frequented by deer. Each year, 500,000 deer are killed, and 29,000 people are injured in deer-vehicle collisions. Deer roam at dawn, dusk, and the first few hours of darkness.

47. Cap your chimney to prevent wayward birds from nesting or getting trapped inside your flue.

48. Car shop with your dog in mind if the two of you like to travel together. Certain models of Saabs, Fords, Audis, and Subarus offer optional pet-restraint harnesses or dividers to confine dogs in the cargo area.

49. Buy a first-aid kit specifically designed for your dogs, cats, birds, and horses. Must items: bandages, antiseptics, eye and skin wash, antibiotic ointment, cotton swabs, plastic forceps to remove splinters and ticks, and scissors.

50. Enroll in a pet first-aid class and learn how to perform CPR, stop bleeding, and carry out other medical treatments.

51. Donate $1 at PETsMART stores during their twice-a-year "Just-A-Buck, Change Their Luck" campaign. Proceeds go toward animals at shelters. Last year's two campaigns raised $3.5 million nationally, according to Joyce Briggs, executive director of PETsMART Charities.

52. Memorize this phone number: (888) PETS-911. The next time you've lost your pet, found a pet, need to locate your nearest animal emergency care center, or want directions to a local animal shelter, dial this number. This new national pet hotline is in operation all across the country. Or tap into its web site: www.1888pets911.org.

53. Treat your indoor felines to wide TV screens filled with videos of chatty, flying birds once a week. It's virtual reality for cats.

54. Widen narrow windowsills by adding cushy cat perches so your friends can peer out at the world in comfort.

55. Wash your pet's bedding in warm to hot water once a week. And clean the slime off rubber and plastic toys with disinfectant; rinse thoroughly in hot water.

56. Cut plastic rings from six-pack sodas and beers into tiny pieces before putting in recycle bins. These connected rings can choke birds and animals.

57. Scoop out litter once a day and wash the litter box once a week in disinfectant. You like clean toilets; so do your fastidious felines. Hate poop-scoop duty? Spend extra money for a motorized automatic cleaning litter box that needs your attention only once or twice a month, depending on the number of cats in your home.

58. Place one of your used T-shirts or sweatshirts at the foot of your bed for your dog or cat to sleep on while you're away. Your scent brings them comfort.

59. Tour the Cats' House in San Diego for ideas on how to convert your house into a colorful, creative, feline fantasy land. Owners Bob Walker and Frances Mooney customized the interior with catwalks, cat ramps, cat-sized holes in the walls, and floor-to-ceiling scratching posts and perches for their 11 felines. Once a year, they open their home to tours with proceeds benefiting the National Cat Protection Society. For details, check out their web site: www.thecatshouse.com or call (619) 276-3621.

60. Treat cats to tiny pieces of real tuna, stored in the freezer. Fresh tuna acts as a natural toothbrush to rid your cat of tartar buildup.

61. Join a local dog agility club. Both of you will work out together. Beats lifting barbells at the gym.

62. Invest in indoor potties and litter boxes for dogs if you work long hours to prevent them from developing urinary infections.

63. Take your dog to a pet pampering spa once a year, perhaps on its birthday.

64. Wash your dog's paws with a dampened towel after walks during the winter. Chemical salts used to melt ice on sidewalks cam be harmful to your dog's footpads.

65. Sidestep sizzling hot pavements during the dog days of summer. The heat can damage your dog's sensitive footpads. Aim for early-morning or evening walks. Stick to grassy areas for afternoon walks.

66. Stroke your dog and cat instead of patting them. Stroking is soothing. The jarring patting motions can cause nervousness among some pets.

67. Leave your voice on a tape recorder with phrases such as "How's my favorite dog?" or "Hi [pet's name], it's me. I'll be home soon." This is great for dogs with separation anxiety.

68. Quit smoking. One in five dogs suffers from some form or allergy, including smoke.

69. Rely on once-a-month flea and tick products such as Program, Sentinel, or Revolution instead of the unreliable, unsafe, and messy flea baths and flea bombs. Consult with your veterinarian for the right product to meet your pet's needs.

70. Don't physically punish your dog for housebreaking problems. Some indoor soiling is attributed to the wrong diet. Have your dog get a thorough exam by your veterinarian to determine the underlying cause.

71. Spay or neuter your dog or cat -- and the sooner, the better for your pet's health. They can be safely altered as early as 12 weeks of age now. You don't have to wait until 6 months anymore to do your small part to address pet overpopulation.

72. Devote at least 15 minutes twice a day giving undivided attention to your pet. Let the answering machine take a message.

73. Provide filtered drinking water for your pet every day. A lot of pets dislike the taste and smell of chlorine and other substances in tap water.

74. Stop feeding fast foods to your dog. Obesity is the Number 1 health problem among canines and can lead to heart disease, pancreatitis, cancer, and a host of other problems for too-plump pets. Keep a small bag of healthy pet treats in your vehicle to distribute when you get that urge for a burger with everything.

75. Resist the temptation to give your macaw and parrot bits of cookies, candy bars, or even avocados. These tasty treats can be toxic to their delicate systems. Treat them instead to corn on the cob (minus butter), broccoli florets, and thinly sliced apples.

76. Sacrifice sitcom each night and spend 30 minutes walking your dog for a mile or more. It will benefit both of you. You can catch up during reruns.

77. Drink tea from a mug purchased from World Wildlife Fund and toast the lions, tiger, and host of other animals whose wild habitats you're helping preserve. Check out their web site at www.wwfus.org or contact them at (202) 293-4800 for more details.

78. Share pet humor that pokes fun at people. Example: "Did you hear the one about the dyslexic agnostic insomniac? He stays up all night wondering if there really is a dog."

79. Resist the temptation to share your Thanksgiving meal with your pet. Turkey bones can choke your pet, and the richness of many holiday dishes may cause upset stomachs. Treat your dog to a toy filled with kibble and your cat to a catnip mouse.

80. Use elevated food bowls for your dogs and cats to prevent them from incurring neck injuries. Try eating off the floor and see how your neck feels!

81. Limit your pet food supply to one month. Even when stored in airtight containers, the food can become stale or rancid.

82. Buy a Greenpeace bumper sticker to slap on your car. Tuna and whales will love you. For more info, check out their web site at www.greenpeace.org.

83. Buy a pet ramp to help your ailing or aging dog or cat get into your vehicle or onto your bed or furniture without jarring its joints.

84. Enroll in a dance class with your dog and learn how to do the cha-cha together.

85. Keep ant traps out of your pet's access to avoid accidental poisonings.

86. Show true compassion to homeless cats. Go beyond feeding them and have them spayed or neutered to do your part to stop overpopulation. A pair of mating cats can produce more than 120,000 total offspring within six years if none of them are spayed or neutered. Check with your local animal welfare groups on how to obtain safe traps to catch them, take them to the veterinarian for sterilization and vaccination, and return them to their turf.

87. Buy holiday cards from Dogs for Disabled Americans for $10 for a box of 10. Money goes toward training rescue dogs to serve deaf or physically disabled children and adults. For more information, contact (978) 422-9064.

88. Mix one teaspoon of safflower or other vegetable oil for 20 pounds of body weight into pet food to help outdoor animals maintain their weight during the winter weather.

89. Avoid using metal water bowls outdoors during winter months because a dog or cat's tongue can easily stick to the freezing metal. Remember the kid from the movie A Christmas Story whose tongue got stuck to the flagpole?

90. Custom fit your dog's doghouse. It should be big enough for your dog to stand and turn around in but snug enough to help hold in his body heat.

91. Apply a layer of petroleum jelly to paw pads before taking your dog out on walks during the cold weather to protect them from ice and salt.

92. Keep holiday plants such as poinsettias and mistletoe out of your dog or cat's reach. They are poisonous to them. Consider replacing them with artificial replicas.

93. Make a donation to a local shelter in the name of a friend who "has everything" for a birthday or Christmas present.

94. Pile laundry fresh from the dryer on your bed or sofa and whistle for your dog or cat. The warmth increases the flow of oxygen-rich blood and is comforting for critters with arthritis. A little hair on your sweater is a small sacrifice to provide your pet a bit of pampering.

95. Volunteer to clean up road apples deposited by horses in your town's annual Memorial Day parade.

96. Recognize that dogs and cats require different medical treatments. An aspirin can work wonders on an ailing dog but can kill a cat. Check with your veterinarian first before using over-the-counter medications, prescriptions, and flea or tick products.

97. Go easy on the perfume or cologne use, even if you do have a hot date. The noses of dogs and cats are much more sensitive.

98. Create a resume for your dog or cat that shows it's healthy and well behaved. It's especially handy when you're looking for an apartment. Have your veterinarian and current landlords write supporting letters.

99. Garner a tax break by making gift annuities to animal welfare organizations. Uncle Sam takes less of a bite on your income, and you aid animal victims of disasters, fund spaying and neutering programs, and promote responsible pet care and other acts of kindness.

100. Adopt a lion or a tiger or a bear. Many zoos have adopt-an-animal programs. In exchange for money, you get a photo and bio of your new wild adoptee. Get more details by calling the American Zoo and Aquarium Association at (301) 562-7777.

101. Protect your pet -- and your pocketbook -- by using pet medical insurance. Even vets are buying it.

Arden Moore was a contributing writer for two books, DogSpeak (Rodale Press, 1999) and PetSpeak (Rodale Press, 1999). She is a member of Dog Writers Association of America and Cat Writers Association of America. She is currently a writer and editor who shares her Seal Beach, California home with three dog-like cats. A contributing editor to Dog Fancy magazine and Pets: part of the family magazine, she also regularly contributes to PETsMART.com, Cat Fancy magazine, and Veterinary Practice News.

Information and advice contained on this site is for your consideration only. Please consult your veterinarian for specific advice concerning the care and treatment of your pet.


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Sunday, May 20, 2007

The Visuddhimagga

(Picture source: flickr.com)

"Suffering alone exists, none who suffer;
The deed there is, but no doer thereof;
Nirvana is, but no one seeking it;
Path there is, but none who travel it."
~ The Visuddhimagga (The Path of Purification)

~End of post~


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Saturday, May 19, 2007

Spontaneous Song of Experiences

(Picture source: flickr.com)

Spontaneous Song of Experiences
by Ven. Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche

In the essence of realization of the Buddhas, the lords of the three times,
The natural state of the Dharma of the definitive meaning,
There are no divisions as to Buddhas and sentient beings.
Sugatagarbha is present in everyone.
Reflecting on this innate state, I feel great joy!

All beings are fooled by the thought of ego-clinging.
Reflecting on this delusion, I feel deep despair!
The lord guru pointed out the natural face of awareness.
Reflecting on this liberation, I am filled with amazement!

This is not far away; it is right with you.
It is not difficult; it is so simple.
What a great loss not to recognize
The fact that your present ordinary mind
Is the self-existing Buddha!

Your naked empty awareness.
Is covered by the peels of meandering indecisions.
Your natural face is veiled
By the grip of the meditator and his object.
Now is time to gain direct experience!

The sign of experience is your nature turning gentle.
To the ones above, faith and devotion grow forth spontaneously.
To the ones below, love and compassion naturally surge.
The ocean of understanding and experience overflows.

Vital it is to practice the view, meditation and action
Condensed into a single key point.

Once you seize the stronghold of your innate mind
You have captured the illustrious kingdom of Dharmakaya.
With no need to hope for a future result,
Disciples, aren't you filled with joy!

This inexpressible nature, self-existing wakefulness,
Is claimed to be understood by almost everyone,
But rare it is that someone is free from mental fabrication!

You may have the drive of wishing to meditate,
But unless you give rise to experience from your heart,
Halfway understanding will fail to liberate you.
What certainty is there without realizing the true nature!

Resolve the view definitively!
Define the practice repeatedly!

By the singular kindness of my gracious father root
guru, I felt that my being was slightly liberated through
learning, reflection and meditation on the definitive
meaning, and so, in the presence of the Mahabodhi
Stupa at Vajra Seat, the eminent site where our teacher
reached true and perfect enlightenment, I, Dharma
Surya, offered this earnest wish in order to remind
myself and inspire other people in the year of 1990.
May this be a cause for fulfilling its intended purpose!

At the command of our precious teacher, this attempt at a translation was freely made by Erik Pema Kunsang, Nagi Gompa.

Ven. Chokyi Nyima Rinpoche

Article source

~End of post~


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Friday, May 18, 2007

Parallel Universes - BBC Documentary, Horizon 2002

Documentary Description
Everything you're about to read here seems impossible and insane, beyond science fiction. Yet it's all true.

Scientists now believe ... all there may really be a parallel universe - in fact, there may be an infinite number of parallel universes, and we just happen to live in one of them. These other universes contain space, time and strange forms of exotic matter. Some of them may even contain you, in a slightly different form. Astonishingly, scientists believe that these parallel universes exist less than one millimetre away from us. In fact, our gravity is just a weak signal leaking out of another universe into ours.

~End of post~


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Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Buddha's Happiness

(Picture source: flickr.com)

The total amount of happiness
That exists in the world has come from
Wanting to make others happy.
The total amount of suffering
That exists in the world has come from
Wanting to make yourself happy.

What need is there for many words?
The children of the world
Work for their own sake;
The able Buddhas do their labor
For the sake of others —
Come and see the difference.

~ Shantideva (The Bodhicaryavatara)

~End of post~


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Sunday, May 13, 2007


Picture source: flickr.com)

When you don't have obsession,
when you don't have hang-ups,
when you don't have inhibition,
when you are not afraid
you will be breaking certain rules,
when you are not afraid
you will not fulfill somebody's expectations,
what more enlightenment do you want?
Thats it!

~ Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Rinpoche
Quoted from movie 'Words of my Perfect Teacher'

'Words of my Perfect Teacher' is a great movie not to be missed.
Watch the movie trailer:

It's showing in Singapore during the Asian Buddhist Film Festival (Singapore) 2007 : www.AsianBuddhistFilmFest.org

Some words on the movie:

"Dedicated to all teachers and students", with the wish that "compassion and wisdom flourish", "Words of My Perfect Teacher" is a quest for a perfect teacher by the filmmaker (Lesley Ann Patten) and her friends. Initially unsure of whether she has stumbled upon the guru she has been longing to find, she decides to make a film about her potential guru - with his blessings of course - as a subtle skillful means to understand more about his teachings. Having titled the film such, she probably found the guru she was looking for! The film juxtaposes thought-provoking interviews during excursions in different countries in the East and West, set against the backdrop of an infectious Dharma-inclined soundtrack.

The film opens with a brief introduction of the Buddha - "Some 2500 years ago in India, a man was born named Siddhartha. At age 35, he awoke with the dawn and realized that wisdom that he had been searching for had never been lost. He became known as Buddha, the awakened one. The Buddha said this enlightenment could be realized in one lifetime, or over many. It was the birthright of every human being. But to perfect it, you need a teacher." Yes, a teacher is needed, unless one's spiritual capacity is similar to that of the Buddha himself, though he did have teachers in his previous lives too. As narrated, "Every step to enlightenment has to be taken yourself - so the most important reference point to have is a teacher who points the way." Here's more on why we need teachers, as advised by the titular teacher -

"We do know we have to crush our ego. In order to do that, we somehow, we have to see a model if you like, a model who has done it. Okay? And we have to admire that model and when we admire, then there is a father, there is a leader. There is all that thing - Buddha, whatever. That is the only way to go. I mean how could you teach someone, in order to crush their ego? Look at your teacher as your maid - it won't work. Maybe for some very particular people. But it does work when you need to look up at someone higher than you, or someone more pure than you." Interestingly, even the historical Buddha was inspired by previous Buddhas.

So what is the problem with our lives, such that we seek spiritual liberation? Lesley sums it up neatly - "Yes, there it was, from the moment of birth, the first thing the Buddha taught - the truth of suffering. It was the background noise, amidst moments of happiness or distraction; it was always there. An anxiety born from the struggle against change, impermanence, not getting what you wanted, getting what you didn't want."

The guru in "question" looks perfectly ordinary, though his background is extraordinary. As introduced, Dzongsar Jamyang Khyentse Norbu was born into an illustrious family of Buddhist teachers - known to be intellectually brilliant, great artists, heroically kind, and awake. At the age of seven, he was formally recognised as the third incarnation of Jamyang Kyentse Wangpo, one of the most admired teachers of the last two centuries. Centred in Bhutan, he plays multiple roles. He has an international teaching schedule with disciples all over the world, and is so deeply respected in Bhutan that its citizens hesitate to look him in the eye. An avid filmmaker, he also runs several charitable foundations, and monasteries in Tibet, India and Bhutan. (See www.KhyentseFoundation.org and www.SiddharthasIntent.org for more information.) In his words, "My job is to help sentient beings."

Despite being revered by so many, the mischievous Rinpoche self-effacingly says that "All the paranoia that ordinary people have I have too." He reveals that, at times, he hates his "profession", because there is "so much hypocrisy, pretense, so much cultural hang-ups." He even says "I wish I am just an ordinary person." With a compelling opening like that, it is difficult not to hear more of what he thinks of his own role as a teacher. Much later in the film, he exclaims that, "We want our teacher slightly human being. We want him to like what we like, we want him to dislike what we dislike, we want to share things - so this shows there is a certain element that we want him to be not that special. And at the same time, he has to be slightly special too. That's a big difficulty there." This he says seriously, though we also see his casual moments of enjoying watching football. Does he merely manifest ordinariness as a compassionate skillful means to connect to us? Maybe?

Is Rinpoche truly enlightened, or merely projected to be so by his followers? Maybe we shouldn't be too concerned with that. In a way, anyone with a "more enlightened" outlook on life is surely a guru to that extent. In the enlightening words by Rinpoche, it does seem that he is more enlightened than most of us. Consider this intriguing dialogue -

Kent: Your students consider you enlightened. Rinpoche, do you consider yourself enlightened?
Rinpoche: Me? No. Because . I am still a victim of condition. If I'm enlightened, then I shouldn't be [a victim of conditions]. If the students keep thinking that I'm enlightened, it will only benefit them. If there is benefit, that is. Okay. That is where the Buddhist teachings on mind comes in. You see. Everything is your mind. It's like, let's say, I don't know, you are in the bath or something, and a person hops in the bath and sits next to you. This person may be, I don't know, going through a big problem, and you, without even realising, you didn't do anything, maybe you just sat there right? But somehow this person thinks that you helped him. A lot. I don't know, by stepping over his toes or something. Now, he is not your liberator, but the other person thinks so, you understand? And it will give the other person a sort of benefit. It can give the other person the benefit to keep on thinking that this person helps you. This happens a lot.

But what if a person truly grossly sees someone wrongly as a teacher? Is that not dangerous? Let's hear what Rinpoche says on this -

Luke: How can we determine if a teacher is a genuine teacher?
Rinpoche: That is a good question. It is very difficult, but I mean, especially as a deluded being. People like us, I mean, our judgement, even if we judge that someone is a really good teacher, how much can we trust with our own judgement? Many times our own judgement has failed us. This is why, in Buddhism, study, contemplation, not accepting Buddhism with blind faith, with blind devotion, is very much stressed. Especially initially - by the Buddha himself. Again and again. not to depend on a person but depend on the teachings he gives you. And not simply like that. You have to - it will always be an insurance, if you like to study, to contemplate on the Buddhist texts, study them. And then finally, once you are slightly matured, I would say, you know this - even if all the other qualities failed, maybe your teacher is not learned, maybe not, I don't know, gentle. But one thing that I think you should look for is a teacher who is not interested in himself. A teacher who is totally interested in you and fellow sentient beings.

As Rinpoche says, of the mission of a good teacher - "Your goal is to see. All the worldly values have no value. If you have that kind of view, and that kind of aim, then a genuine teacher who breaks all this pride, crushes your pride. Makes this worldly life completely miserable, this is something that you asked for... He has to be the mirror to see yourself, but he's also the assassin. He is the man or the woman whom you have hired to completely dismantle yourself." Perhaps thus, we see him in the film pushing the buttons of the filmmaker, seemingly to test her. It might seem a wee bit contrived when a student says that when his expectations of Rinpoche are not met, he is still teaching him something... patience maybe? This might seem to be foolish rationalisation, but it is also foolish to feel disappointment or anger.

Rinpoche says that he likes "teaching students in many different situations - in a garden, in a bar, in a toilet." These are modern times, and communication can be done differently. Consider his rationale for making films, which is seen by some Buddhists as unconventional for a Buddhist master. He says that 1000 years ago, masters paint thangkas to express compassion and wisdom. What he does is simply "painting" using modern technology. He is the director of "The Cup" and "Travelers and Magicians" - both of which were well received.

With much advice on how to seek a teacher, the film is also full of illuminating dialogue on various spiritual matters. Here are some transcribed excerpts, in no particular order -

On Great Teachers

Gesar: You can't just expect to wake up one day, and the greatest teacher in the world has come to your house. If you expect to have a great relationship with a great teacher, you need to exert yourself extremely... You should never have a sense of doubt with your teacher. If there is ever that sense of doubt with a great teacher, they pick it up and they're there giving you the tools to voice your doubt. The lesser teachers, the malicious fakes, are only interested in cementing their greatness in your mind. When the great teachers are challenged by their students, they enjoy that, and they like that, because it sort of shows that they're gaining intelligence. Great masters never write anyone off.

Rinpoche: Tibetans even have a saying - "If a snow lion comes down to the ground too much, then the snow lion will be mistaken as a dog." But also, lion's roar is wasted if there is nobody hearing. The very reason why you roar is so that someone would get intimidated, get inspired, sort of have some ideas. If you are totally isolated, what's the point?

Lesley: Even tulkus (recognised reborn masters) have to be students before they become teachers.

On Attachment to Teachers

Lesley: . they (some students) also have this grasping quality towards the teacher.
Rinpoche: Yes. Well, it is a very complicated relationship. Like the Zen master said: To study Buddhism is to study about yourself. To study about yourself is to forget about yourself... The ultimate aim of Dharma practice, is to forget. Not to say forget, actually to really transcend, to go beyond these distinctions. Now that should be the fundamental base, where we develop a student and teacher's relationship. But not many times it happens this way. Many times, a student relationship is just another relationship. Boyfriend, girlfriend, husband, wife, man, woman. So, that is why there is a game. So when the student is insecure, students play games. When the guru is insecure also. Gurus who are not accomplished - they have insecurity, and they play games. That's why, first of all, students don't go to a teacher, seeking for something they need. Rather they go there to look for something they want. Similar things happen from the teacher too. Many of us, many of the teachers like myself, we are not even brave enough to really give what a student really needs. And what a student really needs could be very raw, very painful. Very naked. And who has courage to do that? So difficult. Because many of us we have agendas. Agenda is the big problem in this world, basically. One should be agenda free.

Lesley: What about the fact, there seems to be a point where a student has to stand up to the teacher or get away from the teacher.
Rinpoche: But that is the path. You see. You are not supposed to, but we know that you will do it, and when you do it, you watch your mind.

Rinpoche: The whole reason you go to a teacher is, ironically, is so "one will not want". You don't want to leave the Guru as an external saviour. You want to realize your mind; the nature of your mind is the Guru. The Guru is only a bridge. So, ultimately, wanting something from an external source is something that we have to eliminate.

Rinpoche: According to Buddhism, a student has to be like a patient and the teacher, like myself, should be like a doctor. The patient must reveal everything openly without any fear, without any inhibition.

Rinpoche: The very trust, that can also have its disadvantages, because it can become blind faith. The very freshness of the West, the freshness, the inquisitive or sceptical, they are very good qualities. But then, sometimes, this can also go too far. You end up not practicing because you end up analyzing all the time.

On Hypocrisy of Teachers & Students

Rinpoche: Many teachers... don't have courage to give their children, their disciples, what they need. Because they have agenda. They want to give them what they want. And that can spoil them. And that can make them emotionally dependent on them. Very much. That is a big responsibility on the teacher. If the teacher and the students are genuinely interested in enlightenment... but if they just want to build a [worldly, instead of spiritual] relationship, yeah, that is the way to go. One should be more superior, and one should be a little inferior, attempting to become superior. But always one step behind. And that works. That's how the relationship works.

Rinpoche: . Hypocrisy, people like I have, doing one thing, in front of, maybe a picture of my teachers and do something else, behind. That shows there is a lack of acceptance - that your teacher is the Buddha - he knows everything, so there is no such thing as behind the picture or in front. [In Vajrayana Buddhism, the guru is seen as a representation of the Buddha.]

On Happiness & Suffering

Luc: We opened the refrigerator door, ten o'clock at night, looking inside, looking. what are we looking for? What is it really that we want? There may be a piece of cheesecake, but really we want happiness. And we are looking in the refrigerator. Well, guess what, you know? Happiness cannot be found in the refrigerator. It's just not there. But it's obvious, but at the same time, we do this, isn't it? We are just looking with this look of "I want, I want something." Not understanding the whole mechanism, the whole, sort of, the whole process of how we achieve happiness.

Rinpoche: When Buddhists talk about suffering, we're not talking about a pain, we are talking about change, the uncertainty. See, when people talk about suffering, they are talking about like a gross pain, like a headache or a depression or something. That is, like, already like too late. That's like only aftermath. But in every level there is change. Everything is changing and everything is uncertain, and that is suffering.

Rinpoche: When you don't have obsession, when you don't have hang-up, when you don't have inhibition, when you are not afraid you will be breaking a certain rule, when you are not afraid you will not fulfill somebody's expectations, what more enlightenment do you want? That's it.

Rinpoche: Your own nature of mind is radiant, enlightened, and uncontrived, but because we don't know that, because we are so caught up with all kinds of hang-ups, and inhibitions and all that, then we lose that radiance, so we get depressed, emotional, aggressive, all of this. Ideally, we should understand that these are all our imagination, so that slowly we build this confidence to walk out of it.

Shirley: If you see one (bomb) in the sky and it's coming towards you, don't run away from it - you run towards it. So it passes over your head... and I've always thought that is a good way to live life. You know, don't run from your problems, go meet them.

On the Mind

Rinpoche: Everything is your mind. Or interpretation of your mind. Everything is your imagination. And there is nothing that is not an imagination. Therefore imagination is very powerful. Imagination is the only reality that we have. Within the imagination there is a fantasy and a reality.

Luc: Phenomena also means what happens to our mind when we are in a football game. Football is a game. You are supposed to play it, enjoy it. If it becomes serious, like for the hooligans, then the problem is obviously not the game, the problem is believing one's own thoughts, and that's when it becomes dangerous.

Luc: It's always a mind that's perceiving, it's always a mind that's experiencing, it's a mind that's elated. It's also about a concept. I'm Canadian, what is Canada? Is it this sort of a border? No - borders change. It's not the people because the people, obviously there's new people born now, than there were 100 years ago. The constitution changes, the government changes, every single thing about Canada, about any country, changes constantly. Yet, people kill other people because they believe in the reality of this thing. That's sort of you know, vague, and is very clearly a concept. It's a concept like the square root of two. How many people would go to war for the square root of two? For pi?

Lesley: The stakes have gone up, from the aggression of soccer hooligans to the brutality of armies. In a way, the war was like an exaggerated rendering of my own egotism. I realised, none of us will have true happiness until we learn to deal with our own minds. Because the mind is the starting point for all suffering, entrenched views, closed hearts, and prejudice.

On Practice & Spontaneity

Luc: Rinpoche's Grandfather Dudgom Rinpoche, he used to say, "The truth is so close that we can't see it. It's like our eyelashes." We can't see our own eyelashes. That's why, out of compassion, the Buddha developed all these elaborate practices, because we simply cannot accept the simplicity of this.

Rinpoche: We are getting more and more distant from spontaneity. And that is really creating all the big mess, really. I mean like ecology... We are not happy to spontaneously just camp under a cave or tree. We need to now have a hotel, for instance. So the credit cards and all that. We, human beings - we ask for a programmed life. And some of us think that secures everything. Now it's too late, I mean, if you want an excursion ticket, you have to book it three months before. No more spontaneity, my dear.

On Pilgrimages

Rinpoche: Pilgrimage, although it has become very ritual now... It is, devotion is a ritualistic thing. The essence of going on pilgrimage, is to remind ourselves, that such [enlightened] beings exist. Not as a hero, okay, not as someone who has done this, did this. But as an example. Even going to places like Hiroshima, probably can, even if it is a minute, remind you, how we human beings destroy ourselves. It's like that. Going to Kushinagara for instance, can remind you that life isn't permanent. Even the Buddha himself. [In terms of his manifestation of physical passing.] Going to places like that, Sarnath [where the Buddha gave his first teaching], can remind you that one of the greatest things that has been said in this world, has been said there. And then it might evoke a little interest. What did he say? Know the suffering. Abandon the cause of suffering. And so on, and so on. It's so important you know, to remind ourselves. I mean of course if you are a good practitioner, you don't need those things. I think one should help ourselves with all kinds of help. Even if it requires some type of gross reminder, like holy lands, mountains, trees. Whatever. It's like keeping the nostalgia. The nostalgia can open a door to many things. Nostalgia can be a fuel for creativity. Here we are talking about the nostalgia of an enlightened being. And that may trigger the creativity in the sense of really valuing the Dharma, spiritual path. And seeing the futility of this worldly life.

On Ultimate Truth

Rinpoche: Buddhists in general are trying to train people's mind to think on gentleness, kindness, love, compassion and so on and on. That is all path. But when you talk about everything as mind, you are approaching to the ultimate truth... As we approach the ultimate truth, first thing we have to realise is that then, we are not talking about path - okay? You see, don't bring the path in here. When we talk about path, of course, we have to talk about goodness and badness. And all that. What needs to be abandoned, what needs to be practiced. Not as we approach the ultimate, then we don't talk this anymore... [As an example,] A woman who desperately wishes to have, a baby, dreams that she is pregnant and even giving birth. She is so happy. Within the very same dream, the baby dies, and she is very unhappy. She wakes up, and the happiness of having the baby, and the pain of the death of the baby are all gone. The third experience is what the Buddha is trying to aim. Not to have the baby. Not to "not to have" the baby. But to go beyond that.

On Renunciation

Bernardo Bertolucci (Director of "Little Buddha", for which Rinpoche was a consultant): Then he (Rinpoche) said, "Wouldn't the ultimate renunciation be the renunciation of renunciation?" Which is absolutely brilliant, because renunciation means to give up everything. The renunciation of renunciation means to give up giving up, so as to be able to embrace everything. Extraordinary.

The film closes with Rinpoche translating a prayer he recited - "How wonderful it is that Siddhartha came to this Earth. How wonderful it is that a simple man, Siddhartha, became enlightened. How wonderful it is that this enlightened being left us the path that led him to enlightenment. Lastly, how wonderful it is that even he did not stay on as a mortal being." [So as to remind us to treasure the shortness of life, to practise diligently.]

Who is you perfect teacher? Have you found him or her yet? If not, the Buddha and his Dharma in the sutras can always be your default perfect teachers. Life itself is a teacher. Similar to what Luc mentioned, everything can teach us something, if only we are willing to learn. If so, may we open our hearts and minds to learn well. You might not have a perfect teacher in the flesh, but you can always be a perfect student! (Part of the material in this review is found in the "Bonus Material" section of the film's DVD.)


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