Saturday, January 29, 2011

a poem from Tsongkhapa

"If... you knew how hard it is to acquire,
Living the average life would be impossible.

If you saw its great benefits,
You would be sorry if it stayed meaningless.

If you thought about death,
You would make preparations for your future lives.

If you thought about cause and effect,
You would stop being reckless."

this poem really speaks to me. it is really quite impossible for me to live the average life now. i sometimes joke to close friends that i am leading 'half an ani (meaning nun in tibetan) life' now (still very much attached to my long beautiful hair... oops not shy.. hahaha). joking joking... a modern yogini's life maybe...

next tues i am leaving for nepal to take my first year thangka exam!! oh girls wish me luck... i have learnt everything i need to learn for the exam, which consist of: 8 items (leaf, bud, lotus, 2 types of clouds, fire, decorative pattern, and draping) plus 3 Buddhas (one close-up face, one full body meditation position without robes, one with robes). the most difficult one would be Buddha without robes, thats when the teachers can check to see if you get all your measurements right, and the proportions accurate. ooh... just writing about it, i feel nervous... last night i even dreamt that i took exam and drew the wrong thing, and i forgot to bring my most important ruler or something! haha... this is one of the final-year exam pieces (6th year exam). right now, my exam is only on pencil lining. no need to colour. phew....

i am going to use 30 days to get into the peak of 'meditative-drawing' mode, haha and sit for exam before tibetan new year (which is 5 Mar) then i will leave for delhi to attend Geshe-la's teaching and then straight to Dharamsala to learn tibetan. this trip i will try to stay there for at least 2 months. i have 1.5K sin to survive for 2 months in dharamsala. it would be a challenge. i have made all contacts with my tibetan friends to see if i can bunk in with any family, or friends at a very very cheap rate.

i am also looking to stay at dolma ling nunnery near gyuto tantric college. with a quiet place, i hope to do at least my first serious 10-day retreat, to start my 'ngondro' (preliminary practises) to kick off the inner preliminaries which consists:

1. taking of refuge in the three roots in conjunction with the performance of 100,000 prostrations (purifying pride)
2. cultivation of bodhicitta (purifying jealousy). In some formulations this is included under 1.
3. 100,000 recitations of Vajrasattva's hundred-syllable mantra (purifying hatred/aversion)
4. 100,000 mandala offerings (purifying attachment)
5. 100,000 guru yoga practices (purifying delusion)

sounds very technical? haha... its ok. i hope to complete the above list within 3 years. maybe this time i will start with prostrations and recitations first. i will have to consult my teachers first. any serious retreat should be done under the guidance of teachers.

OK! let me go pack my small luggage, its filled with instant noodles x15 pack, beehoon x10, tea bags, coffee packs, seaweed, soya sauce (the light sauce in nepal and india tastes wierd), my father's home-made chilli, mini cooking pot, haha.. my mom said this time i looked like i am 'zou nan' (walking disaster), i am a very tight budget, quite fun yeah! haha....

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

something to invoke in-depth thinking

''Most of us are afraid to be alone. Do we ever go out for a walk alone? Very rarely. We always want somebody to go with us because we want to chatter, we want to tell somebody a story, we are all the time talking, talking, talking; so we are never alone, are we? When one grows older and can go for a walk alone, one discovers a great many things. One discovers one's own ways of thinking, and then one begins to observe all the things about one - the beggar, the stupid man, the clever man, the rich and the poor; one becomes aware of the trees, the birds, the light on a leaf. You will see all this when you go out alone. In being alone you will soon find out that you are afraid. And it is because we are afraid that we have invented this thing called religion.... '' read more

i used to read a lot on j.krishnamurti. and guess what? yesterday my teacher emailed to say that he will be giving a talk on 'J. Krishnamurti:You are the World. Education and Secular Ethics at Delhi University on the 9 and 10Mar. i am thrilled... i wonder if he will be speaking from buddhist point of view or in a non-secular way. anyway i really look forward to attending.

i remembered how i was exploring on my own spiritual path vigorously (especially in the last 3 years). and in 2009, i narrowed my search (of zhuang zi tao-ism to hinduism to jainism to carl jung to darwin to osho to sri ramana maharshi) down to the final two: J.Krishnamurti (no religion) and HH Dalai Lama (tibetan buddhism) as the last 2 contenders to take me on the journey. haha..... so it would be extremely interesting for me to listen to Geshe-la speak on J.Krishnamurti.

this is taken during the last night of the Kagyu Monlam, light offering. it was exceptionally moving chanting with so many people from all over the world. may the light of wisdom be instilled in all sentient beings.

Friday, January 14, 2011

hello i am back!

hello girls! how is everyone? sorry i have not been writing becos the lifestyle in nepal and india really doesnt promote the internet. haha.. whenever i am there, i just dun feel like using the internet. i use only to check my emails like once a week. we have received many emails asking us about kyurii. we also miss interacting with you girls. thank you so much for your care and concern. we are deeply appreciative of it.

so yes, now i am in singapore after spending 40 days in bodhgaya, india. the holy place where Buddha was enlightened. this is the mahabodhi temple, literally meaning 'great awakening temple'.
'A Bodhi Tree is to the back of the temple and between the Bodhi Tree and the temple is the 'diamond throne' where the Buddha attained enlightenment.' this is the bodhi tree!! this is taken about 6am in the morning, last week in bodhgaya it was extremely cold and very foggy throughout the morning.
this is the Buddha statue in the inner temple. it is truly very special. the moment one sees the statue, its as if all thoughts are silenced. one can only bow in respect and pray for blessings on behalf of all sentient beings.
this is the spot where Buddha was enlightened.

ok i went there to attend the KAGYU MONLAM aspirational prayer for world peace led by HH the 17th Karmapa, Ogyen Trinley Dorje. besides the continuous 8 day prayers, i also attended HH Karmapa's 3 day teaching on 'Atisha's The Lamp to the Path of Enlightenment', a text that has greatly inspired me. after that, i attended Mingyur Rinpoche's meditation class 'Joy of Living' which has been truly beneficial to my daily life. Mingyur Rinpoche will be coming to singapore next month, those who are interested to attend some of the public talks, find out more here. highly recommended, Rinpoche's method of teaching meditation is very practical and across all religions. the other highlight of this trip is definitely attending my own teacher, Geshe Dorji Damdul's teaching on Nagarjuna's Fundamental to the Middle Way. Nagarjuna (150–250 CE) is one of the most important and influential Indian philosopher who founded the Madhyamaka (Middle Way) school of Mahāyāna Buddhism. it was an intensive 7 day course held at the root institute, a beautiful place for anyone who is interested in a retreat. here is meixian and dave posing at root institute. to be able to start the new year by attending my teacher's teaching (from jan 1-7) is really a gift for me this year. and to be able to do koras with my teacher round the mahabodhi temple, sit under the bodhi tree to pray and meditate is a precious opportunity and one that is deeply inspiring. this photo taken in singapore last nov where Geshe la was teaching 'Heart Sutra' at tibetan buddhist center. the response was fantastic and therefore Geshe la (who is the english translator of HH The 14th Dalai Lama) has been invited again to come and teach in singapore very soon. oh this photo is taken before i left for the airport for bodhgaya. so obvious i teared... so touched by the kindness that our teacher showed towards us all. those who have met him will truly experience this.
bihar, the state which bodhgaya is located is the poorest state in india. this has to be the dirtiest place i have ever been so far on the globe. beggars everywhere sleeping on the streets in rows with thin blankets, with the cows, dogs, goats, chicken, wild boars rummaging through the pile of rubbish, little kids with fleas in their hair running around barefooted asking for money, holding onto your hands, following you relentlessly asking for biscuits with smiles on their faces until you reach the gates of the guesthouse,

handicapped beggars trying to catch your attention by swinging their broken leg across the dirty floor as they make their way towards you on their hands, these are all common sights. if not for these sentient beings, this trip wouldnt have been so impactful. my prayers wouldnt have been so strong.... the suffering that i see here makes me feel that no matter how tough we think our situation is, we are not alone. somewhere out there, there is someone with the same or even more intense level of sorrow, hurt, poverty, hunger, cold, homeless...

a trip to any third world country helps open up our narrow views directed only at our own suffering, however when we can simply think of millions out there in a situation much more adverse than our own, and try to put away that self-concern but instead extend that very same concern towards others, immediately our unhappiness will turn into a kind of courage and strength. whatever 'bad' situation we perceived ourselves to be in, will still be there. however now, we have the courage to go through it, with a heart full of love and compassion.

this basic goodness is what my teacher has been consistently showing us through his own actions in this one year that we know him. this genuine all-embracing affection and kindness which is becoming extinct in this fast developing city, is ironically what all of us are searching for and need most. let us try to keep it going. 'keep on going, never lose heart.' Geshe la always says. by the power of whatever little merit that is accumulated through this writing, may all sentient beings everywhere be free from fear and suffering and the causes of fear and sufferings and be quickly led to enlightenment.