My Refuge

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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?

Taking Refuge by Pabongka Rinpoche

Tomorrow

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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.

The Meaning of Dharma

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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.

H.E Tsem Rinpoche speaks about Dorje Shugden

There are just some things in life that we must appreciate, and one of these is the truth being unfolded right before our eyes. I can’t even begin to explain how many times I have watched this video of Rinpoche, a video where for the first time, Rinpoche explained in detail about the implications of the ban on Dorje Shugden. I have watched the videos and even read the transcript several times… each time, picking up new points. It is like when you watch an amazing movie, you tend to miss a few good parts of the movie and only spot them on a second watch. And like all good movies, you make a video response to shout out to the whole world how much you love it!

Only in this case, it’s not a shout out for a fictitious movie, but a shout out for the bravery, strength and great compassion that Rinpoche displayed here, just to get the truth out to the public. Why brave? Why compassionate? Because there is no gain in speaking this truth and making this video for Rinpoche, in fact, making this video only puts Rinpoche in a more difficult position as many would openly attack Rinpoche for sharing his experience and views.

Read Rinpoche’s blog post and watch the video here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/who-is-dorje-shugden-to-me.html

Some of us that come across this video may think… why is it even important for any of us to know about the truth of Dorje Shugden? For me, yeah it’s important because it’s my practice… but for others, who are not practitioners, who do not directly or indirectly receive harm, discrimination or cyber bullied; why would this matter to them?

Perhaps it wont to some… but I believe that we have come to an era, where people has a high standard of morality and are striving for compassion, irregardless of what belief system we adhere to… and because of that, we see so many causes online, supported by the good people of the world. And because no one likes to see a man being outcasted by his own community just because he holds a different opinion, I believe… more people would support Rinpoche’s views… that it is time for reconciliation to happen.

I hope that, after watching Rinpoche’s videos… people would take more active steps to aid Dorje Shugden practitioners in removing this ban… and it begins with the absence of discrimination.

If we look back in history… there were so many classes of people that were discriminated… people of color, gender discrimination on women, people with deformities, people of different religion…. In most cases, it brought about heavy consequences that resulted in the loss of many lives… and it was allowed to fester to such boiling point because no one dared to speak up…. and it was also brought to an end because someone stood up, and many lent their support. I hope that one day, when I’m 60, I can look back and think, I have made good use of my life for supporting a vision that is more than myself.

Beyond Kindness

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I remember this picture… it was one of the late nights we spent with #tsemtulku to compile the Dorje Shugden Retreat instructions http://goo.gl/1PJ95F

The retreat instruction did not come easy… it may look neat and nice right now on the blog, but a lot of hard work went behind it especially from Rinpoche.

It is a precious retreat instruction composed by Rinpoche… and I remember it clearly, how Rinpoche got up from his chair and took a few cushions to sit on the floor with us. Eventhough Rinpoche knew he will have difficulty getting up later, and Rinpoche have much pain when seated on the floor’s hard surface… but because Rinpoche wanted to make sure the instructions was heard and taken without mistakes, Rinpoche sat on the floor anyway.

I think another reason why Rinpoche sat on the floor instead of on the couch to compose the retreat text is because of humility and deep respect for the practice. This is my assumption, but I believe strongly that this is one of the reasons too.

Rinpoche sat on the floor… and thought deeply on how He can shorten the traditional Dorje Shugden retreat for busy people like us and yet allow the retreat to retain the desired results. Here, we all saw… how caring Rinpoche is… If you think the recent gifts that many people received from Rinpoche reflects Rinpoche’s thoughtfulness… then may I correct you, as that is only 1% of Rinpoche’s thoughtfulness seen on the surface.

Rinpoche’s true generocity, care and thoughtfulness is seen in the Dharma teachings that Rinpoche gave us… and in this case, Dorje Shugden retreat instructions. We as ordinary beings cant even begin to have an idea on how many angles Rinpoche must have thought about, thinking about people’s situations and problems which may deter them from doing the practice… and after taking all these into consideration, Rinpoche composed a short and condensed retreat. And it is here that I saw what it means to care for others… how we can care for others… as the retreat text compiled is Rinpoche’s gift to everyone in the world.

I am truly greatful to have Rinpoche… If it wasn’t for Rinpoche’s kindness in compiling such a short retreat text, not many would be able to engage in this practice.

But it does make me sad… as it shows me how degenerated times are and the time that many are willing to allocate for spiritual practice… which is very little.

So, I hope that the next time you engage in a Dorje Shugden retreat… remember it’s authenticity and how lucky we are to receive a practice from an unbroken lineage… how much work was put into it. Dont complain that it is too lengthy because this is as short as it gets. And remember… how much time we put in into our practice, is how much we will transform spiritually.

Wishing you a happy retreat, in advance.

An Examplary Student

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It doesnt matter who you are or what you are… if you’re a student of #tsemtulku, Rinpoche will make sure you work extra hard to benefit others.

In this picture, on Rinpoche’s right is a loyal and dedicated student of Rinpoche. He and his two sons are also very kind and humble sponsors of KFR… as you can see instead of expecting a red carpet, they bought their own working boots and walked in the mud. They were even on the land to supervise the constructions although they have busy schedules themselves.

Some people may say… well since I have sponsored the temple, lets just leave it to another person to do the work. But those who think this way unfortunately, does not derive the full benefit of meeting a lama and the Dharma.

As stated in the Lamrim, offerings of material wealth, while it is wonderful it is still the lowest offering one can give to the Buddhas. And these kind sponsors realized that through learning from Rinpoche… they gave not only materially, but also their effort as they know the benefits of Dharma service… and along with that, they offered their lama the greatest offering, mind transformation.

In the end, they were polished into wonderful Dharma practitioners and became selfless. Because when they were tired, they overcame it with determination… when they didnt understand certain things, they took the trouble to learn… they did all of that to build KFR, a place where many will meet the Dharma.

I guess sometimes I like telling some stories about people around my Lama… because only an incredibly compassionate and wise being can guide another to be compassionate and wise.

The Lama who builds wonders

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Before Kechara Forest Retreat (KFR) http://goo.gl/PKkdDy became what it is today, #tsemtulku and many dedicated students worked very hard. There were no roads, no buildings… only mud and dirt.

Perhaps many of us have forgotten how our Lama would walk around KFR, supervising the construction at day light, and staying up late at night to look through building plans, AND at the same time teach us the Dharma through the blog and even personal advice. Or perhaps some of us are new students, who werent there when KFR first started.

Yes, our lama work so hard for the Dharma, and it is not for himself, but for us and the many people that would be benefited from learning the Dharma in the future. After all, life would be so much easier if Kechara just remained as it was… but that would mean less people would benefit from the Dharma.

A Bodhisattva is someone that is constantly working to eliminate the suffering of beings… and from looking at my lama’s actions, my lama’s wants to spread the Dharma which we all know is the medicine to our samsaric sufferings… tells me a lot about my Lama’s qualities.

So the next time you visit KFR, remember this… it is a holy land where Dorje Shugden himself gave us signs that the Dharma would grow from here… and know that Rinpoche have poured a great deal of effort into making it the place we can practice the Dharma today. Appreciate and feel fortunate… KFR was built by Rinpoche… for you.