The words of Heruka and Manjushri, spoken through their Nirmanakaya (སྤྲུལ་སྐུ) emanation. Holy words that wise men paid a hefty sum for just one syllable, now brightens my desk. A reminder of my motivation.
As time pass, and information is easily available, it is easy for us to forget the true value and difficulty of listening and reading the Dharma. What we have now is something people of the past had to travel great distances to receive, sometimes even at the cost of their own lives.
When Lama Atisha was invited to Tibet to turn the wheel of Dharma, the great King Yeshe O made requests but Lama Atisha never agreed. In the end, through his nephew Jangchub O, at the price of his life, a large sum of gold and the genuine humble request that Atisha teach the people the Dharma, Lama Atisha made the trip to Tibet, revitalizing Buddhadharma in the region.
This examplary story as told in the Lamrim, as told to us students by HE Tsem Rinpoche, is a great reminder that the Dharma we receive today is through the kindness and hardships of countless selfless Bodhisattvas.
Its not about giving up ones life, for if we place our life above the Dharma then only worldly concerns fills our mind. Its not about the heaps of gold, for if we place items of relative value as supreme then our focus is not for Dharma.
Its about our attitude for Dharma, and the genuine pursuit of the absolute truth, at the cost of our ignorance, ego and attachments.
Yesterday I took refuge in myself,
The day before that I took refuge in anger,
And the day before that, I took refuge in laziness,
And the day before that, I took refuge in hatred.
Today is a new day, and I’ll be taking refuge in my choices.
It doesnt end. As long as we’re breathing, we take refuge in something.
So, what’s our object of refuge?
There is no place I have not been,
There is no circumstances I have not experienced.
I have tasted the best wines,
I have lived magnificent lives that one can only dream of,
I have felt the extremes of sufferings, and
I have lived excruciating pain filled lives.
In the end, all I went through life after life, doesnt matter.
Good or bad, I still ended up where I am today,
And now I feel like a old piece of movie, too bored to see the same drama played over and over again.
Understanding the truth of life, is not meaningful enough,
Knowing the method to get out of this cyclic existence is precious.
But what is my conviction of getting out of samsara?
When the key to unlock the methods to freedom is kept for tomorrow’s use.
Failing to apply the Dharma today, tomorrow will never come.
Applying the Dharma today, then there is no need for tomorrow.
What is Dharma?
Dharma is a word that many people use but perhaps not too sure of its meaning. Some people know it as the teachings of the Buddha. Some people say it is a way of life. While some thinks its just merely lighting a candle and an incense everyday.
In Sanskrit, Dharma means ‘the instructions that hold us back from suffering’. The Buddha taught us the 4 nobel truths, where He reveals to us the root of suffering up to the point of how we can severe it into non existance. This is not something made up, but it has been in existance from beginningless time, the Buddha reveals to us what was already the nature of our reality.
But practicing Dharma, has to be accurate. For our fault finding mind can find wrong even in the perfect Buddha just like Devadatta, thus if not careful, one can find fault with the Dharma or worst, to use it as a diversion and strenghten our attachments.
It is due to this, that the guidance of a teacher is essential. Once found a sincere teacher, as a student, listen with the absence of the 8 worldly concerns for it to be the most powerful medicine in eliminating all sufferings.
Gaining happiness have always been all sentient beings’ goal in life. No one would aspire to grow up into a life ridden with suffering. Unfortunately, without Dharma, our limited wisdom pushes us to alter our environment continuously to accomodate our perception of happiness.
But when one receives Dharma teachings and practices the instructions of one’s lama, then one’s mind is nourished with equanimity and compassion, allowing us to remain happy regardless of one’s external conditions.
These, is what I, a lowly practitioner wish to achieve. To achieve ultimate freedom from the mind that brings suffering.
The nature of Buddha can be simply seen by the nature of the moon.
When the moon sets for the day, people say the moon has disappeared. When the moon rises, people say it has appeared. But the truth is, the moon never appeared or disappeared, it continued to shine in the sky at all times.
People give names to the phases of the moon… from the crescent to full moon. But the truth is, the moon is always round, neither waxing nor waning.
The moon follows us everywhere, regardless of what we’re doing, where we go, or what we think. From people’s point of view, their thoughts of the moon may change. But truth is, the moon does not change.
And so, one can say the aspects of the Buddha can be explained by looking at the moon.
The Buddha does not appear nor disappear, but only does so out of compassion and as lessons to be learnt.
He may seem to change in appearance, but in truth he does not change for enlightenment is not bound by physical appearance.
He follows us and guides us in this world in all of its ever changing circumstances. But his essense never change.
Whether one believes in the Buddha, or whether the Buddha is present or appear not to… His existance is independant of our thoughts and belief, filling every corner of the universe, existing forever.
One can be near the Lama, near the most beautiful Buddha statue, near the most elaborately decorated stupas, and near the hundreds of volumes of the Kangyur and Tangyur. But without practice its as if one has never met the Three Jewels.
Just as sitting infront a bowl of rice without eating it does not make one full, so it is similar as one sitting infront the Lama but partake no Dharma.
Looking at this image of my Lama, I can only imagine what the mind of a Bodhisattva would think. Perhaps it goes along the line of “May I be able to be like the sea, that nourishes and supports billions of beings selflessly”.
A Bodhisattva who loves all sentient beings as a father loves his only son. Perhaps for some it may be easy to understand, while for others it may not. But there is a story that’s easily told…
It reminds me of a story I read, about a rich man’s son who left the family only to end up as a begger many years down the road. When the rich man finally saw his son in a pitiful state, he sent his servants to take the young man home. But the begger did not recognize his father and instead of rejoicing of a reunion, he became afraid.
Out of great love for his son, the man thought of various ways to help his son. So instead of scaring the boy away by insisting of forgotten family ties, he offered the begger a job in his mansion, as the janitor. As the years passed he nurtured the boy patiently, from when he came in as the janitor, he now manages the rich man’s estates.
Finally the day came when the rich man is to leave this world, and the boy who regarded his boss as a father could finally see that he was actually his father. “I have taught you everything I know, now I leave all my wealth to you as they were yours from the moment you came home as a janitor”.
The lama is like this old rich man. He offers us the greatest riches of all in the world that is the Dharma. And through his skilfull means, he educates us, he is patient and guide us along the gradient path of enlightenment.
There is no work or instructions too small that’s given by the Lama. Everything is tailored for us to eventually obtain the greatest jewel of Enlightenment… Just like the wise rich man who made his son the janitor in his mansion.