Gratitude Series 67 – Precious Teachings

A group of us have recently just completed a mini retreat prescribed by our dear Guru, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche to clear inner and outer obstacles. Although it was a very short and small retreat, it was still a great blessing to be able to sit amongst sincere dharma brothers and sisters as we focus our minds and invoked upon the fierce compassionate lion face dakini – Singdongma.

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This is the first Singdongma statue that Rinpoche commissioned to be made when Rinpoche first started a dharma store back in the 90's. It is made from resin.

This is the first Singdongma statue that Rinpoche commissioned to be made when Rinpoche first started a dharma store back in the 90’s. It is made from resin.

I actually did not know much about Singdongma except for the fact that her practice is extremely efficacious for averting spirit harm or black magic, and that Rinpoche used to prescribe Her practice or puja to people with such problems. It was not until Rinpoche explained to us her manifestation which arises from all the negative karma that we’ve created for ourselves and for others. Hence Her fierce roaring lion face, showing vajra anger towards these negative karma of ours.

Rinpoche explained to us how we should visualise Her in great detail; She is as gigantic as a mountain… dancing and trampling on all our negative karma. Her hair has sparks like there’s electric current passing through every strand, it sizzles. Her pores exude wisdom flames and burns away our negative karma and obstacles. The knife she holds is use to cut away our ego, anger and attachments that we created, causing so much suffering for ourselves. We can then visualise billions of tiny Singdongmas coming out from her body, from her every pore, blessing us and everyone. Her mantra is like thunder roaring in all ten directions dispelling all obstacles. With Rinpoche’s clear and powerful explanation, Singdongma came to life. This was just a small part of the teaching Rinpoche gave us.

Magnificent and Glorious Buddha Goddess Singdongma the Lion Faced lady who dispells all fear from the ten directions for those who invoke upon her fercocious and volcanic like power. Praise to this wrathful lady that burns all gnosis and projections! Remover of all that harms and obstructs and trampled under her feet. Tsem Rinpoche--To learn more about Singdongma: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=31904

Magnificent and Glorious Buddha Goddess Singdongma the Lion Faced lady who dispells all fear from the ten directions for those who invoke upon her fercocious and volcanic like power. Praise to this wrathful lady that burns all gnosis and projections! Remover of all that harms and obstructs and trampled under her feet. Tsem Rinpoche–To learn more about Singdongma: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=31904

Rinpoche taught us how we should behave, sit, meditate, how we should focus and cut the noise out of heads. There are two main things we, at our level, should focus on;
1) block out the noise and distractions that arises
2) focus on the mantra we are chanting
and to go another step further we could do the visualisations of Singdongma.

The retreat has been a great blessed experience, and indeed I am, we are so very VERY very lucky to have H.E. Tsem Rinpoche as our Guru. Anyone in their right frame of mind would not discard such a rare precious, sacred, treasure of having a Guru like Rinpoche.

Rinpoche’s compassion is really beyond ordinary… not only did Rinpoche build Kechara Forest Retreat (KFR) so that we can “comfortably” do whatever little Dharma we can to collect some merits. But Rinpoche also advices us on a personal and spiritual level, helping us clear and purify our negative karma. Whether it is an instruction to clean, sweep, plant, cook, write, or go into retreats, in actuality everything is a practice or a retreat if we treat it like one as Rinpoche has taught us, as it’s all about our “perception” in the end.

Rinpoche does not stop there, for those who are fortunate enough to be living closely with the Guru, who trusts, surrenders and follows the Guru’s instructions; hence the Guru is able to bestow more wisdom to the student(s). So on top of building a very peaceful, beautiful, comfortable spiritual environment, KFR for us to engage in retreats, Rinpoce gives us direct teachings to help us during our retreat. Any teaching from Rinpoche is so extremely precious these days as Rinpoche does not give teachings like before. So it is literally Dharma served on a silver platter for us… what more could any sane person ask for? What more could any student expect… except to feel extremely grateful, extremely fortunate to be where we are at this moment. I am definitely grateful to allowed to participate in this retreat. All I know it could not be ‘random’ and should be taken for granted.

When you are near the lama, the lama can give instructions. When you carry it out day by day happily, you can see the changes in your mind. Important is not to neglect any instructions and update politely. Part of awareness training. Do not see any instructions as too low, too simple, too hard or cannot-JUST DO IT… Kyabje Pabongka stayed near His Lama in retreat and received instructions nearly daily. Due to this close proximity to the Lama and instructions, Kyabje Pabongka Rinpoche was able to develop and gain high realizations and then became the great lama and lineage holder he became… His Lama was ‘low ranking’ and simple yet conferred blessings onto Kyabje Pabongka nevertheless because Kyabje Pabongka was very devoted… ~ Tsem Rinpoche

After our retreat ended, Rinpoche instructed us to clean Lord Genzey’s chapel. We are to visualise that the chapel is our mind and we are cleaning all the dirt which represents our mental obscurations that blocks us while chanting Vajrasattva or 35 Confessional Buddhas’ mantra.

Kechara Forest Retreat was envisioned and built by Rinpoche for those who are spiritually inclined to study the dharma, practice, go into retreats, gain realisations, teach dharma, and spread the dharma to the world… so if I can contribute to even one drop of this massive merit ocean, I would indeed considered my precious human life worth having and living. Thank you Rinpoche for your instructions, advices and  most importantly the precious teachings during this retreat. No way would I be doing what I’m doing now if it wasn’t for Rinpoche.

As Rinpoche mentioned; “we should feel sad after retreat, because we got to get back to samsara”. I look forward to many more retreats to come in Kechara Forest Retreat, what better way to lead a life than with one that connects us to our divine nature.

Close proximity to the lama with good motivation and good attitude can propel a sincere student to great spiritual attainments. Even if we are not physically close but applying the dharma of the lama wholeheartedly will bring transformations… ~ Tsem Rinpoche

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We were so fortunate to be able to receive direct treachings from the Lama during our retreat!

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A group photo after the retreat.

After cleaning Lord Gyenze's chapel in Kechara Forest Retreat.

After cleaning Lord Gyenze’s chapel in Kechara Forest Retreat.

 

 

 

 

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Gratitude Series 66 – In good company

We recently had a blog chat discussion and the topic was on one of Rinpoche’s previous teachings called Tendencies. I highlighted a few points which I thought was really important to keep in mind, but this particular point got me thinking even more as it made me realise how very lucky and blessed I am to be surrounded with positive influences.

“Our friends can trigger our negative karma/our positive karma. If you are surrounded with your positive friends, positive teacher, living in a positive environment, they will trigger your positive karma. Because they always reinforce your positive mind until it is habitual. Once it is habitual, the negative karma becomes very difficult to open up and positive karma opens up till you do more positive things to a point the positive store of merit is so big, the negative karma is so small, it is ERASED/PURIFIED.”  

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Yes what Rinpoche says really makes a lot of sense and now I appreciate as well as understand it even better; why we’re often advised to stick with our Dharma brothers and sisters sangha community. It is not so much that our non-spiritual ‘samsaric’ friends are “bad”, it is more to safe guard ourselves, our minds from swaying back to what made us unhappy in the first place which pushed us to seek a spiritual path. Being with the wrong kind of friends can sometimes drag us down further without us even realising it, especially when we ourselves are not strong enough, and in the middle of battling our own demons of attachments. It is like someone who is in rehab trying to kick off the habit of being an alcoholic, the last people they need having around them are drinking friends. This is just simple logic. So the Dharma centre, temple or monastery is the rehab centre for our mind. To help our mind detox (purify negative thoughts), re-habituate (learn to re-learn) and for the cultivation of our natural clear mind that is true compassion and wisdom. This is why Rinpoche created Kechara Forest Retreat (KFR), a place to discover our true nature.

Having contemplated on all that, I really feel so lucky that Rinpoche allowed me to work in Kechara Forest Retreat and be surrounded by this positive environment, with positive people. This is indeed such a precious blessing I am so grateful for. It made me feel even more appreciative of the people in KFR, my dharma brothers and sisters I work with day in and day out. Yes dharma people have their ups and downs and flaws too, who doesn’t unless we’re all already Buddhas. So let’s be practical and like what Rinpoche said at least most of us are here for the same reasons; because we believe in Rinpoche’s vision, to learn the dharma and do something useful for this and future lives.

The wise and the elders, our teachers and our parents have always advised, emphasised, and even warned us to be careful who we mix with, who we surround ourselves with and who we call “friends”. There certainly must be some truth in it as even the enlightened ones tell us so. In this day and age of social media, it’s rather easy to get friends or call someone a friend. All it takes is a few clicks and request, and tadah you have a few hundreds or even thousands of “friends”, but we all know only a hand full are really true friends. I can count them with my five fingers. It is extremely lucky to even have one true friend that one can count on… true friends who are there, not when everything is fine and good, but when I am at my worst, kicking my butt up when I’m down.

One person who is far more than just a true friend is my spiritual guide, H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche. When I think about it more, if it wasn’t for Rinpoche bringing the Dharma to Malaysia, starting a Dharma shop (Kechara Paradise) and then a Dharma centre, where would we all be? Where will there be any dharma brothers and sisters or sangha for that matter? What will we be doing, chasing, or indulging in now? It is so true what is mentioned in the scripture by Lord Vajradhara – everything comes from the Lama, all the blessings and attainments. Hence even the positive good company I am in is because of the positive good teacher. For this I am extremely grateful… thank you Rinpoche!

Related Links: 
1. Tendencies

2. What our flag means

3. Something special to share…

4. Kechara Forest Retreat 

 

Gratitude Series 65 – A once in a lifetime kind of blessing

I am grateful to live in a time where Buddhas still manifest and teach! Grateful to have a kind Guru like Tsem Rinpoche who gives us the potent remedy for our delusions in order for us to receive true happiness is indeed a once in a lifetime kind of blessing.

All we have to do it just pause and look around us, how many people are actually aware that even Dharma exist, how many are actually even spiritual? Just listen to the conversations next time you’re at public place like the mall. I did and it dawned on to me how ‘zombiefied’ the world of materialism can make us. Our minds are occupied with what’s the next thing to shop, buy, eat, get and acquire that’ll make us a little bit happier, to make us feel good for the moment. And the more we accumulate, the more a little piece of the light inside us gets lost.

It is moments like this that makes me ponder how so very fortunate I am to have stumbled upon a great Mahaboddhisattva that would do everything in His will and power to provide a an environment that is conducive for spiritual practice, just so we can try to learn how to reconnect with our light again… Nurturing and quenching the thirst of our spiritual being that was once lost, to relearn to live again, and to try to practice a path out of pain and suffering. Hence manifested a place like Kechara Forest Retreat​, a place where conversations goes beyond the mundane obsessions of just “this life”.

Some of us do not need to even pay to live on this sacred land, no bills to pay, nothing is demanded of us except our commitment in transforming our own mind to become better is required. That’s certainly isn’t much to ask of anyone that one wouldn’t already want for oneself. So how could we not feel gratitude and do everything in our power to at least try to practice? How could we not remember the kindness of our Lama who forsakes His own happiness to live a quiet hermit life in the forest doing retreats, just so we can have a chance to become spiritual practitioners ourselves?

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For some like me, it is because of Rinpoche we are even alive now breathing the fresh air of life. So yes, gratitude is a meditation and a reflection for not just today but every day. It is makes us appreciate waking up in the morning, giving us a clearer perspective and a whole lot fresher focus than just ourselves. Thank you Rinpoche for this teaching, and thank you for the greatest gift in life – the dharma. May all those who have a genuine Guru follow their Guru loyally and practice the dharma their Guru has taught them.

May all those who have a genuine Guru follow their Guru loyally and practice the dharma their Guru has taught them.

When we are afraid to express gratitude, we don’t want to reveal what has been done for us and so we don’t have to ‘pay back’ nor remember. Also perhaps we don’t want others to know so we don’t have to ‘pay’ back…..then eventually we become angry and bitter because we are not being honest and true to others and ourselves.. we will not feel good when we just take, take and not give. We need to give and take and take and give then there is a balance. Balance is the key.

Example: A student takes a lot from the teacher eg teachings, love, advice, materials, care, etc and that is in the beginning. Student ‘returns’ or ‘pays’ back the kindness of the teacher by transforming, overcoming fears, helping others and doing less vice and more positive activity for oneself and society. So by a student showing gratitude or anyone showing any gratitude, it is ultimately a training of the mind to overcome self-centricity. Gratitude has that type of effect on our mind. Teacher and student is just one example as it can be applied to many other relationships as well. Gratitude is not meant to remind you negatively how you took something, but a quality in the mind to be developed. To develop the mind to higher thoughts and modes of conduct.

When we express gratitude, then we return it to others and others feel good you remembered. Then others respect you. When they respect you, you feel good about yourself giving little space for anger, hatred and negativity to arise. When you feel good about yourself, little space for negativity to arise and do harm. You have nothing to hide, avoid or feel bad about when you express gratitude. Owing and gratitude are different. Owing is like a loan to the bank that you responsibly pay back. Gratitude is not being afraid to say you needed help, received it and will show the same to others. It is a positive state of mind to another sentient feeling being.

Showing gratitude is one of the best ways to not feel bad about what you received and to positively put you in a position you ‘have’ to give also. It makes you give to others due to the mind being cultivated into higher mode of thought and conduct not guilt. When you give, then you feel good because innately we want to help others. When others are benefitted by us, we innately and naturally feel good. Feeling good can escalate into doing even more for others and vice versa. It just continues. Showing gratitude is acknowledging others can do more than you at the moment and you needed love, help and that is it ok to receive this. It counters jealousy and pride. Big enemies that make our minds unhappy. It also tells us that we are not bad people for needing love and help. Also that when we are ‘better’ we will help others back. It is a good way to live.

It is important to show gratitude in a way that trains our minds and it lets other people know they are appreciated. That is important in mind training. To appreciate the care, help and love you have received is a very strong component of happiness.

Training in gratitude is good for those who are in a secular life and especially good for those developing spiritual qualities of higher attainments, compassion, bodhi mind, wisdom. All good things arise from proper and consistent development within the fundamentals of which gratitude is one of them. ~ Tsem Rinpoche

An excerpt from Rinpoche’s FB: https://www.facebook.com/tsemtulku/posts/10204779946445861:0

Gratitude Series 64 – Enlightenment in Jalan Alor?

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It was passed midnight and we had just finished doing some shopping with Rinpoche, getting gifts for students and friends, at the heart of KL shopping’s district – Bukit Bintang. Just around the corner is a famous street called Jalan Alor with 24 hours hawkers for supper lovers amongst other night life activities. We decided to take a break, rest our tired feet and get some supper to refuel before heading back home.

As we were eating, Rinpoche would throw jokes and tease us. Rinpoche alerted us to be aware of our surroundings and observe everything around us, and what came with it was an unusual, unconventional profound dharma teaching. Although this event happened many years back but I will always remember the gist of Rinpoche’s teaching because the whole experience was quite out of this world.

Rinpoche asked us to look around and notice that we were in the heart of samsara, in this case Jalan Alor, where the energy of samsara; desire, sin, and non-virtuous activities are strong. Yet here we are… a bunch of dharma aspirants, trying to benefit others, with a highly attained Tibetan Lama who is definitely benefiting others.

Rinpoche asked us to take in our surroundings and realise how fortunate we are to have encountered the dharma when there are so many people out there who do not have the merits to do so. Instead what they do drives them further in to the abyss of samsara. We should be grateful for this. As Rinpoche explained all this, it seemed time had just suddenly slowed right down and as if in a dream like state, we were looking in to this dimension’s reality from another side. It was quite surreal and I will never forget this moment as I felt Rinpoche offered us a glimpse of samsara’s illusion and for a moment it seems like we were “awake”.

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Rinpoche continued explaining that even in the heart of samsara; in the dirtiest, most degenerate, gross part of world, still there are Buddhas and Bodhisattvas that can appear to benefit people. Like a lotus that blossom from the in muddy waters, the Buddhas and Boddhisattvas are without duality and they can appear anywhere that needs them. Basically we should never judge a book by its cover and never underestimate the powers of the compassionate enlightened beings who are like peacocks thriving on the poisonous groves (samsara). Hence if we have a Guru and the dharma we should seize every opportunity to practice, to trust as the Guru guides us to find a way out of samsara, out of suffering, to wake up before it is all too late.

I wonder if this is what Rinpoche means by “we may be in the middle of samsara but samsara is not in us”. Perhaps it is, but one thing’s for sure I am so grateful for my good fortune and merits to have a real Boddhisttava as my Guru, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche. Without Rinpoche, I know I would never have a chance to collect any merits or do any dharma, instead I would be blinded by samsara’s illusion of happiness, chasing after a fake security and never finding true peace. Thank you Rinpoche for you have changed my life, shown that there is still goodness in this world and given me hope and faith when I almost gave up on it.

“Although outwardly we have so much, we have so many conveniences, inwardly we have become more unhappy, so, acquisition is not the secret to happiness. The more we get, the more we have, the more unhappy we become.” ~ Tsem Rinpoche the 25th

Related Links:

  1. The Beginning….
  2. Discovering Yourself: A Teaching on Karma & Mindstream
  3. Supreme Contemplation

Gratitude Series 63 – My first car

I am grateful to have found a precious Guru who cares not just about our spiritual development, but also about our personal development. Rinpoche has helped me many times to overcome many fears and one of them was making a commitment in buying my first own wheels. Maybe to most people it is not a big deal and would actually look forward to it but not me. I did not like the idea of owning a car at that time because I did like the idea of being locked down with monthly instalments and all the other commitments that comes from owning a car. To me it was a burden, a huge responsibility for a carefree girl I was at that time. I did not think it was a necessary add on this extra stress in my comfortable life.

However Rinpoche instructed me to do so and said once I get one, I will experience a sense of “freedom” and that I would really like it. Rinpoche was absolutely right as usual. Once I got my own car, I felt the freedom to move around anywhere any time, without being a burden to anyone or stressing out on getting taxis.

This is nothing new to some of the closer students, as it is one of the first few compulsory lessons Rinpoche always teach us – be mobile and be independent. Rinpoche instils this in us to make us learn,  give us strength, to believe in ourselves and to never say I “can’t”. He does this to free us by standing on our own two feet instead of depending on others; be it someone to drive us or relying on taxis which are never reliable, in general to grow up and rely on ourselves.

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So getting my first car and putting down my first down payment was one of the scariest things I did in life but it was one of the best lessons I got in life. I learnt to overcoming my fear of commitments and taking responsibility. Just from this one action, it taught me so much that could be applied in all aspects of life up till today. Not only did I learn to be more responsible for myself, it gave me the ability to also care and help others more by me being mobile. So instead of always looking out to get help, we can provide help. Therefore apart from one’s spiritual development, Rinpoche’s care extends right up one’s personal development. This is just one of the many things that Rinpoche does to help us grow. As Rinpoche says… “from outer achievements brings inner transformation”. This is one of the many outer achievements which I am truly grateful for.  And Rinpoche’s care reminds me of a verse in Dorje Shugden’s golden drink offering prayer…

“Please perform the four types of action during the six times;
And always care for me like a father with his child,
Without wavering even for a moment.”

Thank you Rinpoche for your unwavering care in all aspects of my life, where others do not bother, you do and make me see my own potentials.

Related Links:

  1. Tendencies
  2. Dorje Shugden Retreat: A powerful practice to fulfill wishes

 

Gratitude Series 62 – The way out

As we contemplate more on the activities in life, we think what is the purpose of it all and we find it to be senseless and redundant and that is without understanding of dharma. With dharma we can further probe and realize that life is senseless and redundant and we have to return again life after life to do basically the same things. We might not even return in the form of a human. Therefore as we contemplate dharma we realize there are two choices, continue the meaningless redundancy or engage in the way out as taught by the perfect Tathagata. ~Tsem Rinpoche 25th

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Yama the Lord of death holding the wheel of life. The moon symbolizes liberation and the Buddha guides us by pointing at the moon. At the centre of the wheel one finds three animals — a pig, a snake and a rooster. The pig symbolizes greed , the snake anger and hatred and the rooster (or cock) ignorance or delusion. The three animals are often shown biting each others tails, to show that these evils are inseparably connected. The emotions of the three stem from fundamental ignorance. Together, the triad represents the root causes of trouble on earth.

Just in the nick of time, I received this meaning and profound dharma teaching from my Guru. What perfect timing, it appeared as I was contemplating how grateful I am to be alive, to be in KFR (Kechara Forest Retreat), and to have dharma. This is all made possible for people like me because of Rinpoche’s great kindness to help all beings. Because Rinpoche decided to lead a selfless life; by becoming a monk, choosing the road less travelled and for doing this with the pure motivation to benefit others.

If it wasn’t because of Rinpoche, I would definitely be another one amongst the billions on this earth leading a meaningless redundant life; chasing after a delusional form of happiness based on attachments, desire, and ignorance manifested in materialism. And I would have suffered more each time something was lost, or something did not match my projected expectations. It is not that once you know the dharma, you don’t have problems or experience lost or disappointments, it’s just that you know and acknowledge this reality, and hence learn to deal with it better in a more logical positive light.

We’ve been told and brainwashed that happiness is about having a good education, then getting a great job, building a career that earns us lots of money, to go for holidays, have nice meals, nice things, nice cars, get a relationship, then get married, have kids, get a house, grow old and look forward to have grand kids because there’s nothing much you can do after that. Then what? Basically wait for the inevitable – death. Then what? Repeat this all over again, if we’re lucky to reincarnate back as a human. But what about those who don’t even believe in reincarnation, or the afterlife in heaven, you basically seize to even exist! Lol I just cannot imagine that we’re put on this planet earth just to do those mundane sequences of events and then die. What a boring life! It just seems so… meaningless – the perfect word for it as mentioned by Rinpoche in the above quote.

So many people say religion brainwashes people, but the truth of the matter is that we’ve been brainwashed ever since we were born. It started with our parents, and all that they projected on to us; how we should behave, dress, talk, walk, think etc. It reminds me of what Rinpoche shared recently by another brilliant attained Lama Dzongsar Khyentse Rinpoche…

“At the end of the day, education is brainwashing. Brainwashing is inevitable. We human beings love doing that. We are already brainwashed—we don’t know otherwise. So since we are going to be brainwashed anyway, it’s good to brainwashed with good motivation and so that we can be kind, harmonious, and also decent. Becoming decent human beings seems to be not so much in the modern education agenda because, as we all know, modern education seems to be so much about what we can have. Human beings are defined by what we have, like cars and houses. And then modern education is also so much geared towards getting a job. There are very few schools that teach you anything other than what will benefit you in getting a job”

So yes since we’re already being brainwashed, we might as well get brainwashed into doing something “good”, something meaningful, purposeful and a lot larger than just tiny selves. And like what Rinpoche said, at least we’re engaging in the ways that helps us get out of samsara’s delusion, one habit at a time, one step at a time, as taught by the perfect Tathagata.

So thank you Rinpoche for this perfect reminder of why we are here in dharma for, why we’ve all reconnected with our Lama, why we’ve all come together in making Kechara Forest Retreat a reality and the whole point of it all.  Thank you or this reminder which I will read from time to time less I forget, to continue working in this direction come what may, because happiness is found when we give it away and the repeated suffering ends when we get out of samsara. The choice is clearly ours to make.  Thank you Rinpoche for your guidance always.

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monkey.monk.Buddha

Related Links:

  1. Kechara Forest Retreat
  2. My Short Bio in Pictures
  3. The Beginning 
  4. You Always Have A Choice… make the right one

 

 

 

Gratitude Series 61 – The Haven

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Recently a colleague asked me… “remember the ‘Haven’ days, do you miss it?” in which I replied, “yes I do actually”. Then I began thinking more about it and why I missed it. I came to realise it was not so much that I miss it but it was more that I appreciated it. I think a bunch of us were very fortunate to have had that great honour to work that closely with H.E. Tsem Rinpoche. I appreciated it for all the amazing lessons, teachings and training it has brought upon us, given by Rinpoche.

Rinpoche basically sacrificed His own private space, his home for us; transforming his entire living room for our workstation. This is all before KFR (Kechara Forest Retreat) came up. We had to make do with the little haven we got, but it was a cosy yet productive environment filled with creative work that benefited others. Yes we were literally working in Rinpoche’s living room! Some may think that’s intense, yes I do agree it was intense… it was intense Dharma, intense learning, intense purification and intense blessings! How one perceives this great fortune, is based on one’s merit and karma.

Rinpoche used to tell us that everyday when we travel to our Lama’s Ladrang (residence) we should visualise it to be the mandala of the supreme Vajrayogini, and that we’re going and entering her mandala to do work. Just  from this thought one generates a great amount of merits right from travelling to the place, let alone entering and doing work in such a powerful place.

Whenever Rinpoche has an idea or the urge to share something with us, we would just run upstairs together to meet Rinpoche. We had that privilege. Rinpoche gave us many hours of personal and group teachings, even watching a Madonna in concert could be a Dharma teaching. An idea could spring up from there like the psychedelic teaching videos we did with Rinpoche that was impromptu called Cosmic Tantra and Psychedelic Change.

I appreciated the fun debate sessions we had with Rinpoche that was heart racing, adrenaline pumping, exciting, challenging yet fun all rolled into one. Our knowledge was put to the test as well as our memory. Rinpoche was training us to “THINK” and to think “FAST”. It was a way to sharpen our minds, to be alert, and to be skilful with the questions we asked and the rebuttals we gave. The point as Rinpoche always remind us is not about winning, it is about learning. Sometimes Rinpoche would join the debate and we were all asked to go against Rinpoche, one person. It was like debating with Manjushri! Of course none of us could defeat Rinpoche. He could turn black to white and white to black and have you agree to it lol. It was all a great exercise in making us think out of the box.

Some days Rinpoche would make us do stretching exercises to get us off the computer, to get our hearts pumping, blood circulating and relax. At times Rinpoche would make us go out for walks around the area, and we had to walk a few rounds. Rinpoche was not just a Guru; he was like a father to us all, a spiritual father, who cares not only for our education but also for our well-being. Rinpoche cared for everyone’s mental, emotional, even physical health, and if I may say so, the kind of care is even more than our parents because it is not based on attachments.

I also appreciated the many spontaneous activities that Rinpoche would make us do. I appreciate the obstacles one had to face while doing them, the challenges, the tribulations as well as the sweet triumphs when we’ve overcome them. An example was one assignment Rinpoche gave a group of us (Pastor Shin, Pastor David, Andrew and I) to find a space doll that reminded Rinpoche of his childhood days watching the program called Mission Stardust. There was no such doll on this planet available in the market, so we ended up having to find a way to create the doll ourselves!

One thing’s for sure, whether it was something to do with work or if it was for us to just unwind; like catching a movie, going for a massage or gift shopping for others, every moment spent with Rinpoche is an active moment of focusing out. How one may ask. Well, even when we are going out for a movie, a few people would be assigned to get the tickets; some would go ahead of everyone to prepare the popcorn and drinks, some would drive. Basically to show care, to look out for one another, making sure everyone arrived safely and gets home safely.

So yes I am grateful for the “haven” days, it’s impossible not to as it was a place of refuge. So much was learnt and experienced in that space during that time that was much larger than the self. They are precious memories never to be forgotten or taken for granted for it was a cornerstone to where we are today. Everything Rinpoche does is completely 100% out of care and to help us improve to be better, at least better than who we are yesterday.

Every minute spent with Rinpoche is a precious teaching, a special lesson that is uniquely, and precisely just for you to realise. It could be in that instant moment you realise it or perhaps later on in the future, but the lesson would have been imprinted, all it needs is the right conditions to ripen. That would be up to us based on the actions we choose to take to trigger it. This is how compassionately skilful our Guru is. So what more is there to ponder but just to let go, trust and be loyal. It makes it easier for the blessings to come through.

Here are two must watch videos which were an impromptu recording we did with Rinpoche in Haven. The concept or idea Rinpoche got was inspired by Madonna’s videos.

Related Links:

  1. Cosmic Tantra
  2. Psychedelic Change
  3. Mission Stardust
  4. Debate with Tsem Rinpoche
  5. For Elizabeth regarding Vajra Yogini Mandalas

Gratitude Series 60 – Please don’t hate me because I practice Dorje Shugden

Since day one I met H.E. Tsem Rinpoche right up till today I have never heard Rinpoche not even once said anything bad or negative about His Holiness the Dalai Lama. In fact Rinpoche has always spoken highly of His Holiness and He has actually invoked great respect and admiration in me and many students on His Holiness. Otherwise I do not think I would have such a high regard or even know who His Holiness the Dalai Lama is. So this has been consistent with Rinpoche from before right up till now. It is definitely not an act but a genuine respect that Rinpoche has for all His Gurus as well as other Lamas.

Rinpoche has instilled in us these same values of respecting Lamas and the sangha and to even have us learn and familiarise Tibetan etiquette so we may better serve the sangha. If anyone were to meet Rinpoche, immediately you’ll be able to tell that Rinpoche has no attachment to status, fame or fortune. Rinpoche’s goal since day one has always been to spread the Dharma so many can be benefited.

To say I am really lucky to have met Rinpoche is not even close to expressing how extremely fortunate I am to have come across a living Buddha. Someone like Rinpoche changes people’s lives, evokes the impossible in us and helps us transform our negative into positive; taming the monkey mind where previous Gurus have probably failed to do so. I am grateful for this consequence of my good merits (definitely from previous lives) that has allowed me to reconnect with a Maha Bodhisattva like H.E. Tsem Rinpoche. I am also grateful to be born in a country where religious freedom is still intact and advocated within a multiracial multicultural society. I am grateful to receive Dorje Shugden practice through Rinpoche, because if it wasn’t for Dorje Shugden I would have probably been dead by now. Dorje Shugden has protected me many times and saved me from accidents that would have costed me my life. Dorje Shugden not only helped and protected me but also helped my family and friends through their dark times.

I believe if we’re secure with our faith or anything in life for that matter, we will not need to put another person down to show we’re is right or better. Rinpoche is definitely someone who expounds the Dharma with no agenda and without having to put down other faiths or religion. Instead Rinpoche has always encouraged people to follow their own faiths diligently as all faith teaches universal peace, compassion, harmony and respect through the right conduct of one’s behaviour. I guess this is what made me and many others trust Rinpoche… this is one of the reasons I became a Buddhist.

Ever since Kechara decided to openly practice Dorje Shugden, many have come hurling very negative remarks and false accusations on Rinpoche as well as us Kecharians as a whole, many of them who do not even know us would crash into our social media page with their constantly negative remarks, harassing us for our beliefs. All this hate directed to us simply because our spiritual beliefs and the choices we made differs from the one made by His Holiness the Dalai Lama. Overnight we became like a plague, an enemy in the eyes of the followers of the Dalai Lama. How is it possible that followers of someone who teaches compassion, treat others without compassion but with hostility, lies, vulgarities and even death threats? How can logic and reason become non-existence, while discrimination, hatred and aggression became appropriate? Even if you wish to inform someone of their mistakes, especially if they do not even know you, you would not be rude and vulgar about it? It would just completely put the person you’re trying to convince off.

The only way to go about this to put a stop to this hostility and discrimination is to have peaceful reconciliation through dialogue, which His Holiness Himself is an avid promoter of such solutions. So I do not see why we cannot have this dialogue as it is the very advice given by His Holiness for interfaith harmony.

If we are to achieve peace and harmony on earth, we definitely need to stop causing hatred amongst people. Hence the plea by H.E. Tsem Rinpoche to His Holiness the Dalai Lama to end the Shugden conflict; to send representatives to engage in a peaceful dialogue with Dorje Shugden Lamas for the sake of humanity, for the sake of Buddhism, before Buddhism as a whole degenerates even further not through the worship of any deity but through anger and hatred caused by humans themselves.

Thank you Rinpoche for showing us courage in doing the right thing and speaking up for a much greater cause other than ourselves. As Martin Luther King says, “Injustice anywhere is threat to justice everywhere”.

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Related Links:
My plea to His Holiness the Dalai Lama
Appeal to H.H. the Dalai Lama

What I Think of His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama?
I pray to what I want to | Tsem Rinpoche

 

 

 

Gratitude Series 59 – Keep Calm, You’re in KFR

The past week has been such an amazing spiritual busy week with so many activities happening in Kechara Forest Retreat, undoubtedly it has been a week buzzing with blessings abound. Yet when everyone is gone and all the fussing has settled down, you come to appreciate the stillness of nature that brings a sense of calmness, a sense of inner peace you cannot find in the chaos of the modern world.

I love this quote from my Rinpoche, it truly sums up exactly how I feel right at this present moment and what perfect timing it popped up as I was writing this post…

“Such calmness is achieved when we connect with spiritual nature and not urban confusion” ~ Tsem Rinpoche

I am ever so grateful for all of Rinpoche’s love and guidance so that I can be here at this juncture; to be at Kechara Forest Retreat (KFR). Rinpoche used to tell me a few years back that I will love living amongst nature. At that time we had not even found the land for KFR yet and I was very comfortable with my urban lifestyle. Never in my dreams did I imagine myself living in the forest… never in my dreams did I see myself enjoying it and feeling so fortunate to be here. Fortunate because I am doing Dharma, fortunate because even if I had to work 24 hours with no sleep just to finish off a painting, it is okay because it is so worth it as it’s for a much higher purpose. A purpose where it can benefit someone for the better. It is definitely way more worth it than staying up, schlepping it off for some “boss” to get richer, and the end result is just about a bigger pay cheque, a name, a status and some fame, that are just all fleeting because for the self-cherishing mind has no end in satisfying.

Just last week at one of our special prayer events, right before a blessed puja (prayer) commence, a man who was a friend, a colleague, a father suddenly collapsed and passed away within a few minutes.  Hearing of another person who we knew passed away reminded me again of how fragile we all are. How temporary we all are. How we are all actually waiting for that very same moment where we would breathe our last breath and like a candle flame being blown out in a second, we are gone. The lesson of impermanence is being taught again, as I recall how similar this incident was with my late husband Justin Ripley’s death (a close student of Rinpoche); they both had the good fortune to pass away in the mandala of their Guru.

Justin went in Rinpoche’s ladrang itself, this person right outside our prayer hall, Wisdom Hall. Some may ask why were they not “protected” seeing they are on such holy grounds? Well, if you know the Dharma, you would know it is probably the perfect place to take our last breath. There is no better place to go, then to go on holy grounds where one’s Guru reside and where highly attained monks are present to give blessings. This is what we consider as great merits. Like it or not death is inevitable for that is the nature of things in samsara. When our karma has ripened and our life force for this life has come to an end, nothing can stop death, not even the Buddhas. But what the Gurus, Buddhas and Dharma Protectors can do, and will do if one has the merits through the good deeds done in this life, and due to ones good relation and strong connection with one’s spiritual guide (Guru), they will guide us to take on a good rebirth. With a good rebirth as a human, we can then continue where we left off on our spiritual path. Hence it is considered very meritorious for a person to pass away in a place whereby enlightened spiritual energy is most potent. I too wish someday I would be able to die on this holy ground. It will be a great blessing for one’s final day and for one’s next destination.

I understand, see, feel and experience Rinpoche’s divine manifesto of what Kechara Forest Retreat is supposed to be now; a place where inner and outer healing takes place, a place for those spiritual seekers of the enlightened path, a place that gives hope, to bless mind streams and where wisdom and compassion is active in every corner. Rinpoche used to tell us that “Kechara” which is the name of Vajra Yogini’s pure land is a paradise where one can take rebirth in and continue learning the Dharma. Its beauty is beyond one’s imagination and that the Dharma can even be heard in the leaves, wind, streams, birds, animals everywhere. Somehow I sense Rinpoche is creating a replica of it here in KFR. So when people say heaven is a place on earth, I can comprehend this now when I look at KFR.

Words can never thank Rinpoche enough for creating this heaven on earth for so many beings… including me, and which will continue to bring benefit to countless more in the future. With much gratefulness, I am truly thankful for Rinpoche’s guidance thus far. I shall continue to work harder in eliminating the negative mind set, transform within to find true peace and from here extend externally to others. Glad I am here and would never trade places to fall back into the delusional world of samsara’s false happiness again.

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The glorious Lama Tsongkhapa, our lineage Buddha that is Manjushri, Chenrezig and Vajrapani in one blesses the entire Kechara Forest Retreat with love, peace and stability

The glorious Lama Tsongkhapa, our lineage Buddha that is Manjushri, Chenrezig and Vajrapani in one blesses the entire Kechara Forest Retreat with wisdom, love, peace and stability

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The beauty of Kechara Forest Retreat Vajra Yogini stupa by dawn is breathtaking….

The sacred Vajra Yogini stupa at sunset...

The sacred Vajra Yogini stupa at sunset…

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The blessings of Manjushri’s wisdom is bestowed upon all living beings big and small…

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Beautiful lush green Tara Walk covered with passion fruit vines. Excellent for walking meditation.

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In the near future, we will be placing 21 Taras strategically along Tara walk to bless those doing their walking meditation

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The unique and exotic flowers of KFR… this one is a passion fruit’s flower

 

Related Links:

 

Gratitude Series 58 – Meeting holy beings

It was such a great blessing and privilege to welcome my dearest Guru, H.E. Tsem Rinpoche and H.E. the 7th Panglung Kuten (oracle) of Dorje Shugden, Choje La in Kechara Forest Retreat (KFR). Words cannot really describe how I felt… I was nervous, excited, happy, anxious all rolled into one. Firstly because I haven’t seen my Guru for a while and second it is my first time meeting the Panglung Kuten up close.

I wanted to offer a khata to Rinpoche and then to Choje La, but Rinpoche was so humble, instead He directed me to offer it to Choje La, saying Choje La is a holy monk. Then Rinpoche asked Choji La to sit on my chair, blessing my space and to make my Dharma work grow and have a picture taken with me. I was so deeply moved and humbled by how compassionate my Rinpoche is, how Rinpoche cares for this unworthy silly me.

I know that none of this would have actually happened if it wasn’t for Rinpoche’s courage and selflessness to stay here in Malaysia, to teach Dharma, to start a Dharma centre and to build retreat centre here. If it wasn’t for Rinpoche’s Guru devotion, to follow Rinpoche’s Guru’s instruction to come here to teach in the very first place, none of us Kecharians would have had this amazing privilege of meeting Rinpoche and receiving the precious Dharma.

Rinpoche always tells us that we did not meet each other by “chance”, and that there is a reason, a karmic connection for us to come together to do something bigger than our own selves… something bigger than our own self-cherishing pursuits.  Imagine what are the chances for someone selfish like me to be born as a human, with all 5 senses in tack, to meet a high Lama – H.E. Tsem Rinpoche, and to have the rare opportunity to do Dharma work with Rinpoche?

When I think deeper, I am just so glad I am still here in Kechara, that I did not give in to my delusions, ego, anger and selfish ignorant mind, to really quit, run away and burn my bridges. Yes I have my negativities, my deluded mind, and I can be a tough nut to crack, but I am glad I have a bit of merits, thanks to Rinpoche, that makes me push on, stay and stick with my Guru through thick and thin. I do this because once you’ve heard, know, and experience the truth, the wisdom and compassion given by Rinpoche, how can you deny it? For those who choose to deny it, is actually denying themselves of true happiness. Even when I was working outside, I never ever think about going to any other Guru’s teachings or Dharma centre. To me Rinpoche was my Guru and that was enough.

I am so glad to have stuck on with Dharma instead of falling back to samsara, and like what Rinpoche said, those who quit, left, and ran away, who basically gave in to their samsara, lost a great opportunity to receive great blessings like meeting H.E. the 7th Panglung Kuten. Today it may be the oracle of Dorje Shugden, tomorrow it may be His Holiness Kyabke Trijang Choktrul Rinpoche, H.H. Kyabje Zong Rinpoche and so on.

I would also like to thank Rinpoche for requesting Choje La to bless us sangha-to-be and the Pastors, by bestowing upon us the oral transmission of fourteen different mantras. To hear my name being called out by Rinpoche as a sangha-to-be was already a huge blessing, on top of that to receive oral transmission from the oracle of Dorje Shugden (who Rinpoche asked us to visualise Him one with Dorje Shugden himself). So basically we received Mig Tse Ma from Dorje Shugden himself! Wow, never in my wildest dreams have I ever imagined this… and I am still in a buzz from these very precious moments.

Thank you Rinpoche for the important message on being here; sticking around through thick and thin and not just to show up and enjoy the wonderful facilities, and appear only when high Lamas come visit. We should be here even before they appear and get our hands dirty. So when they are here, we can happily smile and be proud that we were part of this legacy of peace, compassion and wisdom; for Je Tsongkhapa’s teachings to spread. I am really grateful to Rinpoche for giving me purpose, for always including me in your blessed mandala, and for giving me the opportunity to lead a meaningful life by doing Dharma work, serving Rinpoche directly or indirectly. I am forever grateful and will always treasure this, I know by doing Dharma, it will definitely help me at my final hour, when I take my final breath… I will have no regrets. I can never thank Rinpoche enough for everything.

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H.E. Tsem Rinpoche explaining to H.E. the 7th Panglung Kuten who we are (Sangha-to-be and Pastors) and requesting Him to give us oral transmission of some holy precious mantras so we can pass them on to others in the near future.

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The Pastors and Sangha-to-be with H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche and H.E. the 7th Panglung Kuten (oracle of Dorje Shugden) Choje La

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Me with the 7th Panglung Kuten, Choje La at my desk area where I work at Manjushri Hill, KFR.

 Related Links:

Dorje Shugden