A Note on Offerings by Panchen Ötrul Rinpoche

Dec 13, 2011 | Views: 1,157
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I would like to share this teaching on Offerings by Panchen Ötrul Rinpoche with my students and friends as it would be most beneficial for us to know the significance of making offerings to the Three Jewels.

Making offerings to higher beings is to collect merits. Why collect merits? What type of merits? How does collecting merits benefit us? All these we need to know.

Giving offerings to a higher being allows us to make a direct connection and plant seeds of enlightenment in our mind to achieve it in the future when we practice. On a more worldly level, making offerings is a direct cause for creating wealth and purifying poverty. Knowing the meaning and reason behind making offerings to the Three Jewels is important to keep our faith stable. Through this knowledge, our enthusiasm to do dharma will be tremendous and tireless, which WILL then lead to inner transformation because all the obstacles that we face for Dharma is for a higher purpose.

There are no limitations to what can be offered on one’s altar. Traditionally, seven or eight bowls of water offering are set up on the altar. Seven bowls representing the seven steps Lord Buddha took when he took rebirth and proclaimed this will be his last life – it is an offering to reach that state. Eight bowls representing the five sensory offerings that we are attached to and we offer things we are attached to in order to free us from that very attachment; and the three extra bowls represent body, speech and mind, our total submission to the Dharma.

In general we can offer anything that pleases the five senses which are form, sound, taste, smell, and touch. The quality of the offering is very subjective, although we must always try to offer the best quality according to our means. One can offer the best quality but with lack of motivation, generate very little benefit from the action.

Offerings can be of many levels… it can be material, effort, and most importantly being consistent in Dharma centres. Any form of sponsorship to a Dharma centre – effort, money, time, etc… is extremely beneficial because it is through your compassion, generosity and sacrifice that the Dharma centre can continue to function as a place for people to make a connection with the Buddhas.

Always make offerings. If you’re a serious practitioner, then offerings are not an option but a necessity. It is not something you’ll only consider if you have spare cash to donate or extra time for volunteering. Make Dharma your main focus, because if you’re going to be cheapskate about it… then the outcome of your practice will be equally so!

May we always have the Dharma in our hearts.

Tsem Rinpoche

 


 

Offerings

Panchen Otrul Rinpoche

Offerings are the formal religious expression of the fundamental Buddhist virtue of giving. The perfection of giving, dana-paramita in Sanskrit, is first of the six or ten perfections. It encompasses every kind of generosity, whether it involves a gift to those higher than ourselves, such as deities in the merit field, or the poor or needy, who are worse off than we are.

In giving to a being in an equal or worse state than ourselves, we sacrifice something that belongs to us for the benefit of another. In giving to a being superior to ourselves, to our guru, a Buddha or bodhisattva, we perform an act of renunciation. As an altruistic deed, giving is a basis for acquiring merit. In Buddhist doctrine, the accumulation of merit leads to higher rebirth, and eventually to release from the sufferings of cyclic existence. In order to attain highest enlightenment, we must be able to give to a superlative degree, with perfect motivation, thus attaining the unsurpassable level of the perfection of giving.

Whether the physical offerings benefit the recipient or not, from a Buddhist practitioner’s point of view as a donor, they are essential means of reducing our attachment to the physical world. Attachment reinforces our notion of ourselves as real, independent selves to be satisfied by obtaining or clinging onto objects we desire. Making offerings accustoms the mind to giving and letting go of desirable objects. It serves to loosen our conception of a real and independent self. In this way, it contributes to our acquiring the essential wisdom realizing that all phenomena as empty of intrinsic existence. Without such realization we will not attain Buddhahood. The value of merit acquired from an act of giving depends on several factors: the motivation, the status of the recipient and the quality of the offering.

 
Motivation

Motivation or intent consciously or unconsciously precedes all our actions. The ultimate motivation for giving is to generate the causes for attaining enlightenment for the welfare of all sentient beings. The value of an act of giving closely corresponds to the quality of motivation. The narrower the intention, the smaller the merit. You may offer a bag of gold to a monastery, but if your real intention is just to show off, to acquire further wealth or a similar worldly motivation, the merit acquired may provide the desired result, but no more. If you give with a wish to attain liberation from cyclic existence, much greater merit will be generated. And if by giving you aspire to the ultimate attainment of Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings, the merit you acquire will be limitless.

During the Buddha’s lifetime, when he was staying in Shravasti, King Prasenajit celebrated his presence with a lavish banquet presented before all the important people in the town. One poor man looking on from the edge of the crowd rejoiced at this display of generosity. Later, when Ananda asked the Buddha who had created the greatest merit as a result of the feast, he replied that it was the poor man who rejoiced at the king’ s virtue.

The story is also told of a woman who lived the life of a beggar at the time of a previous Buddha. She and her husband owned nothing but the single piece of cloth, which they would take, turns to wrap around themselves when they went to beg for food. The Buddha of that time was nearby and a monk on his alms round came across the woman and exhorted her to take advantage of the opportunity to go and make offerings to the Awakened One. Realizing that she and her husband were beggars because they had neglected to give in the past, she decided to offer their only possession to the Buddha. Her husband simply asked how they would live if they were unable to beg, because she had given away their only clothing. She replied, “If we give the cloth and then die, what will be the loss? We have nothing in this life, but we will have good fruits in the next. If we make such a gift and then die we shall be fortunate.” So saying she asked the monk to look away while she wrapped herself in grass and handed him the cloth as an offering to the Buddha. The monk accepted the offering with embarrassment. However, before the king and queen, the wealthy merchants and countless onlookers, the Buddha picked out the heap of rags and hailed it as the most worthy offering, because the woman’s motivation was pure. The woman later attained liberation at the time of the Buddha Shakyamuni, who cited her story as an example to others to give gifts.

Another example of the importance of pure motivation is shown in the story of Geshe Ben. He was a celebrated Tibetan lama who, following a career as a notorious bandit, became a great practitioner. One day, hearing that his patron was coming to visit, he worked from early morning dusting his altar and arranging his offerings in an attractive manner. Sitting back to admire his work, and pleased at the thought of how impressed his patron would be, he suddenly realized the impure nature of his motivation. He picked up a handful of ashes and threw them over the offerings to destroy his pride. Later, other Kadampa masters commented that such offerings were by far the most valuable because they were made with a pure motivation, without hope of reward.

The actual aim in making elaborate offerings is to give up our preoccupation with external objects and to place spiritual aims above material pleasures. However, the motivation can become distorted. We may give in hope of a greater return; leading only to disappointment Pure offerings should be made with faith and without regret. When Atisha, the Indian saint, visited Tibet in the 11th century, he greatly praised the quality of the water. He recommended using it to make offerings because although it had numerous qualities, nobody would regret giving water away.

The word for offering in Sanskrit is puja, which means to please. In making offerings to exalted beings such as Buddhas, bodhisattvas and various deities, we not only accumulate merit, but also create connections with these higher beings. If we make such offerings with a pure motivation, they will help us on the path to enlightenment

Although exalted beings have no real need for our offerings, they delight in the merit of the giver, which is determined by the quality of his or her motivation. It may be possible to fool other people, pretending to be acting out of a pure and exalted motivation, covering up your mundane aspirations, but it does not generate merit. Apparently attractive offerings performed with an ulterior motivation do not please the Buddhas and bodhisattvas and generate little merit. The situation is comparable to the relationship between a good master and a deceitful servant. However much the servant may flatter his master, he will only be really pleased if his servant performs his duty faithfully and genuinely tries to be helpful. Similarly, an offering made to the Buddhas with perfect motivation will generate merit of the same nature as that generated by the Buddhas of the past, present and future. It will merge with that inexhaustible pool of merit, giving rise to boundless merit. This is what is known as ‘pleasing the Buddhas’. It is the ultimate purpose of making offerings.

 
The Recipient

In providing us with an opportunity to give, those we give to are like teachers. We depend on them to accumulate the merit. Because we dislike giving to certain kinds of beings, we have to take counter measures to correct our attitude. When somebody appears to be unattractive, we have to try to overcome our aversion by meditating on love. Giving to them, offers further opportunity to acquire merit. Giving is not an occasion to be patronizing or condescending. When giving to those who are suffering, we should meditate on compassion, mindful of their miseries and strongly wishing that they be parted from them. Making offerings to wise beings such as Buddhas, bodhisattvas and spiritual masters is an occasion for faith and joy. When giving to those who help us, such as our parents or friends, we should give impartially, with equanimity, the basis for developing the awakening mind. Giving is not an opportunity to favor one being over another, for all beings are equal in wishing to be happy. Giving simply to show off and cultivate popularity or to outdo someone else will result in little merit. To give purely, we should do so joyfully without regret, with equanimity and without expectation of any reward.

 
Action

Giving should be direct and straightforward. Delaying giving something in order to look more important, or to make people work harder for what they are going to receive reduces the resultant merit. Giving should be accompanied by a joyful expression and agreeable words. If we can, it is always better to give with our own hands.

 
The Object

Anything that reflects the giver’s wish to please someone is suitable to be given. At best, a gift should be beneficial both immediately and ultimately. If it is not beneficial in the short term, but only in the long term like bitter medicine that takes some time to act, it is suitable. When something provides short-term pleasure, but ultimate damage, such as supplying an addict his drug or a drunkard his drink, it would be better to refrain from giving.

The greater the sacrifice we make, the greater the merit we create. A piece of gold offered by a poor man for whom it represents his entire wealth will earn more merit than when a rich man offers it among many other such pieces. The ultimate sacrifice is to give away parts of our bodies. Many instances of such offerings are recounted in the collection of stories about the Buddha’s past lives. The Buddha spent many aeons accumulating limitless merit through the practice of the six perfections of giving, ethics, patience, effort, meditative stabilization and wisdom.

For example, in one of his past lives, the future Buddha was Santavik, the son of a merchant. One day he noticed that the birds in the nearby cemetery were starving, and overwhelmed by compassion for them, decide to offer them his body. He lay down as if dead and soon vultures began pecking at his left eye. They were intrigued that he kept so still and paused. Santavik thought, “This body is impermanent, I have no desire for it, and giving it away is beneficial.” He encouraged the birds to eat it, and they did so without misgivings.

As this story shows, perfect giving is accomplished without regret. Giving away part of your body requires a degree of determination that reflects a high level of realization. Beginners cannot readily perform such acts, and if they try to do so are likely to lead to disaster. Even practitioners who have attained sufficient spiritual realization will not give away their bodies for a trivial purpose or to someone demanding it out of malice. It is likewise a mistake to give something to someone who we know will use it to harm others.

 
Dedication

Once an act of giving is complete, the giver can reflect on it and rejoice at the merit he or she has created. When we are actually involved with doing something, we may not remember consciously to set up the correct motivation as described in the scriptures, although for a more advanced practitioner, who has generated a firm awakening mind, the correct motivation arises spontaneously. A mindful and conscientious practitioner will maintain a sufficiently positive motivation to attain the highest fruit from the virtue of giving. However, if a practitioner has not set the right motivation at the time of performing the action, he or she can still correct and redirect the virtue at the end by dedicating it to the welfare of all sentient beings. The small amount of merit we earn through such a virtuous action as giving can be compared to a drop, which, when dedicated to the welfare of all sentient beings, is cast into the ocean of merit accumulated by all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas: When a drop of water mingles with the ocean, it becomes virtually inexhaustible. Similarly, when correctly dedicating our merit, like casting it into the ocean of merit created by Buddhas and bodhisattvas, being of a similar nature it will likewise be inexhaustible. If, on the other hand, we dedicate our merit to some worldly end, it is like throwing a stone into the ocean. Being of a different nature from that of the Buddhas, our merit will not become one with theirs, but will remain like a small pebble lying on the ocean floor.

 
Obstacles to Giving

The principal obstacle to giving is avarice, our attachment to possessions and our reluctance to part with them. An effective antidote to avarice is to reflect on impermanence. We bring to mind all the people and objects we are attached to and reflect that at the time of death we will have to part from them all: body, wealth, close relatives and dearest friends. No one is exempt from this; a king leaves behind his palace, a rich man his wealth and a beggar, his stick. We can also reflect on the positive fruits of giving according to the principles of causality. Although we should not dwell on what we might receive in return when we give something ourselves, it can be encouraging to remind ourselves and others of the positive effects of giving. That generosity is the principal cause of wealth in future lives, for example, can function as an attractive incentive for someone otherwise not inclined to give. Acquiring resources through giving can also be justified by the need for at least basic material facilities, if we are to achieve the ultimate goal of perfect Buddhahood for the welfare of all sentient beings.

If we are not very determined in our practice of generosity, we should enumerate all the positive reasons for giving. Recall that all beings, just like us, wish for happiness and seek to avoid suffering. Altruistic actions on our part can quell another’s pain or contribute to his or her well-being. Giving to others or helping them in other ways also reduces our emphasis on our own interests and serves to diminish attachment. Recognizing that recipients are pleased with his or her offerings, a giver should feel encouraged. These ways of thinking can be helpful to people who have trouble parting with their wealth of possessions.

Avaricious people who wish to overcome their attachment can begin gradually, to accustom their minds to giving. First they can give away small things. At the time of the Buddha, there was a wealthy merchant known for his miserliness. One day, he came to see the Buddha and told him that however hard he tried, he could not bear the thought of even giving water to someone begging at his door. The Buddha advised him to take some grain in his hand and pass it from one hand to the other and to think that one hand was giving to the other. This is how he began to accustom himself to the simple notion of giving.

 
Imaginary Offerings

Making imaginary offerings is also useful in opening our minds to the practice of giving. If we can overcome the obstacles to offering our bodies, wealth and sources of merit, it will give rise to immeasurable virtue. Generally, the main obstacle to giving away our material possession is the thought that if we do so, we will have less left for ourselves. In the case of imaginary offerings, such anxiety has no place for we can cause even the smallest mental offering to become limitless.

In Tibet, in the centuries following the advent of Buddhism, rituals of offering, have taken countless forms. Offerings are laid out in a formal manner, according to specific instructions. This physical aspect of the offering is called the surpassable offering. It should be clean, honestly obtained, and offered with a proper motivation. However, the most important aspect of the offering in terms of merit, is not the physical aspect of the ritual cake or flowers, but what is imagined or meditated upon by the practitioner, the transformed aspect. This is called the unsurpassable offering.

All the physical offerings arranged in rituals provide a basis for transformation into the unsurpassable offering. Because all Buddhist offerings originated in India, many of them retain characteristics of that land. As the practitioner progresses on the path, he or she becomes less dependent on such as basis. Other unsurpassable offerings consist of non-physical substances, such as offering virtue or the awakening mind. Because these offerings are created in our minds and are based on an understanding that all phenomena are empty of intrinsic existence, their potential is limitless. By making such offerings we can acquire limitless merit.

To make an unsurpassable offering, the practitioner must have perfect motivation and a high level of meditative stabilization. If he or she can do the visualizations correctly, the splendor that appears to the mind will surpass the most exquisite mundane beauty. In the light of this the faults of ordinary existence, such as impermanence, appear obvious, which leads to a further loosening of attachment to the world and enhances the determination to be free.

 
Altar Offerings

In every Tibetan home, a place is reserved to make offerings to the Three Jewels, the Buddha, Dharma and Spiritual Community. The Three Jewels are often represented by a statue or thangka painting, a scripture and a stupa or a reliquary object. Before them is space to set up a set of standard offerings, represented by bowls of water, and the occasional torma ritual cake or other offerings of food. The water in the bowls would be changed every morning. For a practitioner, such offerings provide a basis for transformation into unsurpassable offerings.

According to the Buddhist scriptures, all the faults in the universe are the result of sentient beings’ disturbing emotions. Instead of dwelling on the faults to be seen in our offerings, but imagining them as pure and faultless, we create an imprint for purifying our minds of obstruction and defilement. Therefore they are imagined as pure and beautiful as possible, incorporating the best of everything existing in the past, present and future and the ten directions of the universe. The exalted beings to whom we make offerings do not apparently consume the physical substances before us. Nevertheless, as a basis for acquiring merit, such physical offerings should be clean, made of the best substances, attractive to ourselves and acquired through honest means. Consequently, they will form a better basis for imagining perfect offerings.

When preparing to make offerings, we should begin by meditating on the wisdom of great bliss and emptiness, imagining it has taken the form of the offering. When making the offering, we should think of it as empty of intrinsic existence. In this way, we purify the offering of its ordinary aspects and also purify our minds. We should abandon any thought of immediate benefit, especially in relation to ourselves in this life. It is also important not to entertain doubts about the quality of our offering and whether or not it pleased the exalted being to whom we presented it. Instead think that the deity rejoiced at the offering and generated great bliss from partaking of it.

 
Water-bowl Offerings

The traditional set of offerings, commonly represented by bowls of water, derives from the customary offerings presented to an honored guest in ancient India. The first bowl contains clear water for the newly arrived guests to drink. The water should be imagined as pure as nectar and offered in vessels made of precious substances. In the second bowl is water for the guest to wash his or her feet; a reminder that in India people walked barefoot. In the third bowl are flowers, reminiscent of the crowns of flowers offered to women and the garlands offered to men. Masses of fragrant, beautiful flowers can be called up in the imagination. In the fourth bowl is incense, an offering to please the sense of smell. In the imagination billowing clouds of fragrant incense are offered. The fifth offering, pleasing to sight, is bright light commonly in the form of a lamp, which like the sun and the moon illuminates darkness. This light is imagined to be so clear that you can see even the smallest atoms without obstruction. Sometimes colored lights are offered and imagined to be emanating from nectar. In Tibetan tradition different colors are believed to have various healing properties. Colored or not, the light offered should be very clear. Light is imagined as dispelling the darkness of ignorance. Shariputra, the Buddha’s main disciple renowned for his intelligence, had, in a previous life, offered a bright light before a stupa. As a result he was reborn with great intelligence. The sixth offering consists of a bowl of scented water. Intended to soothe the mind, it is applied at the heart. Seventh is an offering of food, commonly in the form of a torma or ritual cake. In India, this offering traditionally contained three sweet substances: molasses, honey and sugar and three white substances: curd, butter and milk. In Tibet, these would be mixed with tsampa or parched barley flour to make an offering cake. The result is like ambrosia, pleasing in color, form, smell and taste. Eighth is an offering of sound. It is not represented on the altar, but can simply be imagined as beautiful music.

 
Offerings of the five sense objects

When making offerings of the external objects of desire, the practitioner imagines emanating offering goddesses from the heart, each holding something symbolic of one of the objects of the five senses.

  • Form
    Form is symbolised by a mirror, which reflects any pleasing objects before it.
  • Sound
    Sound, is represented by the melodious sounds of musical instruments and singing. In the drawings, these are depicted by a lute.
  • Smell
    Smell is represented by substances to soothe the mind, aromatic substances to be anointed at the heart.
  • Taste
    Fine tasting substances are represented by a mango.
  • Touch
    Objects of touch are offered in the form of soft cloth, or beautiful clothes. These are like celestial garments, so fine that a fold can pass under a fingernail, so extensive they could cover Mount Meru. They are warm or cool, according to need, and stunningly beautiful.

To make these offerings a meditator vividly visualizes himself or herself as a deity, as described in the Tantras, generating what is known as divine pride in that identity. The meditator then visualizes making theses offerings, each of which is carried by an offering goddess. They are emanated from the meditator’s heart and either make offerings to the meditator manifested as a deity or to a deity visualized in front of him. These offerings give rise to great bliss in whoever they are offered to. Whatever tantric offerings we make should be qualified by three characteristics: their nature must be the wisdom of bliss and emptiness; their form should correspond to whatever is being offered; and they should have the power to induce uncontaminated bliss in the one they are offered to. By dissolving these offerings into the mandala deities, the practitioner gains a special power for inducing bliss. Once the particular offering has been made each offering goddess dissolves back into the meditator’s heart.

There are many meditations for making unsurpassable offerings. Many involve the bodhisattva Samantabhadra, who emerges from the meditator’s heart, holding a jewel at his own heart. From this emerge countless more jewels, which spread all over the world making unsurpassable offerings. These can take the form of jewels, victory banners or any other beautiful object we can bring to mind. When non-physical offerings are made, they are given physical form to facilitate visualization. For example, in the Offering to the Spiritual Master, the practitioner makes an offering of his or her own spiritual practice in the following form:

On the shore of the wish-granting sea grow lotuses,
Which are offerings arisen from the virtues of Cyclic existence and peace.
Both real and emanated they captivate all hearts;
Flowers, being both the worldly and supramundane virtues
Of my own, and others three doors,
Brighten all places.
This garden is permeated by the myriad fragrances of Samantabhadra offerings
And is laden with fruit – the three trainings, two states and five paths;
I offer this in order to please you, O venerable gurus.

Another common from of the unsurpassable offering is to offer the body, mind and roots of virtue. In all three cases, the visualization and motivation are similar.

 
Offering the Body

Mentally offering the body in its ordinary aspect, can take the form of giving service to our spiritual masters and help to beings in need. There was once a practitioner who failed to serve his spiritual master well while he was alive. When the master finally passed away, the disciple realized his mistakes with regret. Since nothing he could do would alter the actual situation, he began regularly to imagine performing backbreaking labor for his master. He carried stones, buckets of water and so forth while imagining that he was helping countless beings. He further imagined that he thereby fulfilled his spiritual master’s wishes and so redeemed his past behavior.

Another reason for offering our body in its ordinary form is to seek protection. If a man offers his body to a king and the king accepts it, the man becomes the king’ s subject and as such enjoys his protection. Similarly seeking mere physical protection from exalted beings is the motivation of someone with limited aspirations. The desire for protection however, can be extended beyond mere physical defense to protection from obstacles on the path to enlightenment. In exchange for pledging body, speech and mind to the attainment of enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings, the practitioner can receive support and protection from a meditational deity or protector.

We can also offer our body by transforming it into the aspect of a wish-fulfilling jewel, which can satisfy the needs of all. From it emanate innumerable offerings in the form of jewels, victory banners, umbrellas and so forth which radiate out to all beings, from the enlightened Buddhas down to the most insignificant insects. Although the Buddha has no need for such offerings, great bliss arises in his continuum as a result of partaking from them. Bodhisattvas have almost completed the path to Buddhahood and we can imagine that our offerings clear away their last and subtlest obstructions to enlightenment. By offering our body we can fulfill the wishes of beings in an equal or worse state to ourselves. We feed the hungry, clothe the poor, relieve the suffering of beings in worse states of rebirth and provide everything we can possibly imagine to whoever may need it.

Another way of offering the body is to visualize it in the form of a deity, free from ordinary appearances. The aim of this practice is to put a stop to ordinary appearances and to attain the great bliss which is dependent on the six senses.

 
Offering Wealth

In this case we can imagine our wealth and possessions transformed into wish-granting jewels, able to fulfill all wishes. From this jewel emanate victory banners, flower garlands and precious objects. We can also visualize the world and our environment being purified by such precious, limitless offerings.· This type of practice can create imprints for future rebirths in the pure lands.

The greatest obstacle to purifying our vision is seeing things as they ordinarily appear. Special mantras are recited to help us prevent our perceiving phenomena in that way. According to the Buddhist explanation, things appear to us the way they do because of our disturbing emotions. Because all phenomena are empty of intrinsic existence, the way they appear to us and their actual mode of existence are different in nature. Since the way in which they appear reflects the state of our mind, purifying our minds will also purify our perception of ordinary appearances. In this way, it is possible to visualize a pea as a celestial mansion and then by making an offering of that celestial mansion to create corresponding merit.

There are similar methods for making an offering of our environment. We first purify it of its impure elements and then offer it. We imagine ourselves surrounded by all the beings of the six realms of existence and, acting as their leader, offer our purified world to the Buddhas for the benefit of them all.

 
Offering the Roots of Virtue

When it comes to offering our roots of virtue, we imagine all the virtue we have created in the present, all that we have created in the past and that we will create in the future. The fruits of virtue are to acquire happiness and to be parted from suffering. By offering our virtue to others we are making a gift of those fruits to them.

A practitioner on the path to enlightenment makes many pledges. Among these are pledges to give. Specifically, he or she pledges to make four kinds of gifts: material objects, dharma, protection from fear, and love.

 
Material Objects

Offering material objects has already been discussed. It is to give something to others with the aim of pleasing and helping them. Sometimes giving material objects is a means of attracting someone to a higher purpose as, for example, when a teacher offers a student gifts as an incentive to study.

 
Offering of Dharma

Offerings commonly consist of material objects, but what monks have to offer is the Dharma. All forms of knowledge, from crafts to literature, fall into this category. The offering of Dharma is the most precious offering of all. When a person is receptive and can put into practice what has been taught, he or she can achieve not only the temporary happiness that results from ordinary offerings, but can eventually attain the ultimate happiness of liberation from suffering. If we are not in a position to give teachings, even offering our roots of virtue is a form of offering of Dharma.

 
Offering of Safety and Protection

Saving beings by any means from the fear of being killed by hunters, wild animals, or disease, from the fear of hunger and thirst, poverty or any unpleasant situation, is to offer them safety. If you have no opportunity to help in that way, simply living peacefully, in harmony with others and refraining from any kind of harmful activity is also a form of offering freedom from fear. A common practice in Buddhist countries is to save animals from slaughter. People buy animals back from butchers and offer them the freedom to live out their natural lives. Offering freedom from fear is not isolated from other aspects of practice, since it also incorporates the practices of love and compassion. For example, the meditation on equanimity that is part of what is known as the four limitless wishes, the wish that all sentient beings be freed from anger and attachment, is a form of offering of protection. Beings freed from these disturbing emotions ~ill not encounter situations in which they need protection.

 
Offering of Love

All sentient beings seek happiness and wish to be parted from suffering. In making the offering of love, we should first cultivate equanimity towards all beings. Beginning with those closest to us, we then reach out to include even beings we dislike until we can generate the same feeling for all of them. By generating a boundless love that encompasses infinite sentient beings we will create correspondingly vast merit. Love her means seeing all beings freed from sufferings, attaining good rebirth, accumulating merit and high levels of realization and finally reaching Buddhahood. Similarly, love can be generated to purify the environment.

 
Mandala Offering

The mandala offering, a symbolic representation of the purified world system, is offered to the lama. It is made formally and ceremonially when disciples request a lama to teach or to live long. In informal daily practice a practitioner offers a mandala of the purified universe to acquire merit and attain realizations. Representing all the bountiful riches of the universe, it is considered the most meritorious object that can be offered. Making such an offering is thus a powerful aid to the practitioner on the path to Buddhahood. When making the mandala offering, visualising ourselves as the lama’s best disciple, we offer ourselves to him in order to serve all sentient beings.

The physical base for making a mandala offering can be round or square, made of precious or ordinary materials, depending on what is available to the individual. When the mandala is offered formally in a wealthy monastery the base may be made of gold or silver, but a solitary hermit might use simply a slab of stone or a flat piece of wood.

Whatever it is made of, the base should be kept very clean and washed with saffron scented water. The material which is heaped onto the base to represent the various constituent offerings can be jewels, shells, clean grain or crushed white stone. Rice is commonly used.

After sprinkling a little rice over the smooth base, the practitioner wipes his or her forearm over the mandala base in a circular motion. The arm’s movement away symbolizes clearing away all impurities in the world and all defilements in the mental continuums of sentient beings. The arm’s movement towards himself or herself symbolizes bringing forth everything positive and virtuous in the world.

All worlds are then visualized as having becoming like pure lands, pristine and of the essence of jewels. All beings dwelling in them have become like deities, freed from suffering. Merely imagining that all beings are free from disturbing emotions and afflictions does not actually set them free. But by imagining that others have been purified, appreciating the value of purification provides the impetus for purifying your own mind.

The surface of the mandala is once again evenly spread with grain. While doing this we imagine spreading jewels and flowers over the surface of the whole world. Grain is then scattered in a circular pattern around the edge of the mandala, symbolizing the iron fence described in Buddhist cosmology as encircling the four continents and the eight subcontinents. A handful of grain, symbolizing Mount Meru, is placed in the center. Half of Mount Meru is below the sea. The half above the surface of the sea has four levels, topmost of which is Indra’ s mansion and heavenly abode. The three lower levels are the abodes of., the other gods.

The eastern face of Mount Meru is white and of the nature of crystal. The southern face is blue and made of sapphire. The western face is red and made of rubies and the northern face is yellow and made of gold. Around Mount Meru are seven gold mountains. The oceans surrounding them are inhabited by inestimably wealthy nagas.

The eastern continent, which faces the object to whom the offering is being made, is white and crescent-shaped. The southern continent is blue and triangular, the western continent is red and circular, and the northern continent is yellow and square. Each continent is flanked on either side by a smaller subcontinent. The inhabitants of the continents are imagined to be attractive and wealthy.

Representing the eastern continent, which is visualized as a mountain. of jewels, a small heap of grain · is made in the direction facing the lama. Another heap represents the southern continent, which is visualized as a wish-fulfilling tree. On the western continent is an abundance of cows and milk and on the northern continent, uncultivated harvest of outstanding nutritional value. Small heaps of grain are made to represent the seven emblems of a universal monarch.

Between the eastern continent and Mount Meru, another heap of grain represents the precious wheel; between the southern continent and Mount Meru, another heap of grain represents the precious jewel; between the western continent and Mount Meru is the precious queen; and between the northern continent and Mount Meru is the precious minister. Between the south and east continents is the precious elephant; between the south and west, the precious horse; between the west and north, the precious general; and between the north and east, a vase of jewels.

The precious general can sometimes be a precious chamberlain, but in the present era, which is considered to be a degenerate time, a precious general is thought to be more useful in expelling evil forces and obstacles.

The eight offering goddesses are very beautiful. They sing, dance, and carry garlands, flowers and incense over all four continents.

The sun, which symbolizes the wisdom understanding emptiness, has the power to clear way all disturbing emotions, is represented by a heap of grain in the east. The moon, which stands for great compassion, is represented in the west.

On the right, a small heap of rice represents a bejeweled umbrella of the kind the King of the Nagas offered the Buddha. It is gold with a sapphire handle and its edges are studded with jewels, including diamonds which shine like the sun. The jewels give off a nectar which can quench the thirst of all sentient beings and is suitable for offering an ablution to the Buddha. Attached to the umbrella are bells whose melodious sound conveys the doctrine to sentient beings according to their capacities.

On the left is a victory banner bearing symbols of united opposites such as the lion-garuda, the otter-fish and the sea-monster conch. These symbolize overcoming disturbing emotions and are said to bring prosperity. This banner is an auspicious sign for saving all beings from the heat of cyclic existence. Another handful of grain scattered all around the base symbolizes the entire wealth of the world.

Since an empty world is meaningless, it is imagined populated by countless beings, free from disturbing emotions and suffering and enjoying the abundance already described. The practitioner imagines a splendid mansion as a residence for the lama, within which is a throne supported by lifelike lions. He or she imagines a multitude of worthy disciples, himself or herself foremost among them, which is regarded as creating an auspicious cause for becoming the lama’s principal disciple in future. Attaining such status he or she can understand and accomplish the lama’s wishes for the purpose of sentient beings. As the meditator makes this offering to the lama or to his visualized image, he or she imagines a replica of the lama emanating from the original and descending into the world we have visualized, giving teachings, abiding in the mansion and eventually returning to the pure lands.

The practice is ended by pouring the grain off the mandala base, either by tipping it towards the lama, or by tipped it towards ourselves, imaging that the lama has returned it to us to fulfill the wishes of sentient beings.

 
Inner Mandala

The practice of the inner mandala is a potent means of controlling the three main disturbing emotions: anger, desire and ignorance. It is a powerful antidote to miserliness and attachment to our body, possession and merit or the environment. First, we visualize our skin becoming the golden base of the mandala and our blood the nectar which is spilled over the base to purify it. Our flesh becomes flower garlands floating on the ocean of nectar. Our torso becomes Mount Meru, our arms and legs, the four continents, and our hands, feet and joints, the eight subcontinents. Our head becomes a beautiful mansion and our eyes, the sun and moon. Our heart is transformed into a wish-fulfilling gem and our sense organs and other organs become perfect objects of enjoyment for gods and men.

In the space above Mount Meru, we visualize all the objects of our desire, anger and ignorance. These are the people and objects for whom we feel attachment, anger or indifference, all of whom disturb our minds. These are offered to the lama, sincerely and with total abandon. Since they no longer belong to us, we need no longer feel attached to them. All distorted perceptions will be purified by this offering and which sows the seed for rebirth in pure lands, where the entire environment is conducive to the practice of dharma.

 
Tsok Offerings

A tsok offering provides a basis for unsurpassable offerings. Tsok means assembly, and refers to a gathering of male and female tantric practitioners, who have maintained their pledges. Offering are made to the assembly of realized beings, to all the sentient beings who have been our mothers, and to ourselves. Leftovers are given to such suffering beings as hungry ghosts. Some of them can freely benefit from the gift. Others can only do so when it has been specifically dedicated to them by the recitation of transformative mantras. The offering is accompanied by the chanting of a special liturgy, many of them poignantly beautiful.

Nowadays, tsok is offered in a prescribed ritual manner, but in the past in India, it would have been more like a religious feast. At the end of the ceremony, the offerings are divided among the participants and eaten, the spiritual master receiving the best parts. It is expressly indicated that participants should not argue with each other about what they receive, nor engage in other unruly behavior. During the tsok offering, practitioners visualize themselves as deities, maintaining that identity with divine pride and stable clarity, free of all ordinary appearances. They visualize all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas abiding in their bodies, enjoying the inexhaustible nectar being offered to them. Practitioners belonging to the great vehicle will always think that whatever they enjoy is for the purpose of other sentient beings. With this basic motivation, they should think that the deities, who have partaken of the offering feel fulfilled and that feeling of fulfillment is transformed into uncontaminated bliss. The offering is first presented to the deity visualized in front of the meditator, then to those abiding in his or her body, then to himself or herself.

 
Ingredients of the tsok offering

The main object of a tsok offering is a conical cake, made of sweet substances such as molasses, sugar, and honey and tsampa. Only the best and most delicious ingredients should be used. The cake’s red color represents power, which is necessary to cause the heroes and heroines to gather. The white decorations are ornamental.

Tsok offering always includes some meat and alcohol, although in Tibet alcohol was often replaced by black tea. Impure substances such as alcohol and tea were offered to provide a basis for transformation into nectar. Participants in the ritual make their own contribution of food to the offering.

Tsok offerings usually take place in the evening. When offerings to the deities are complete and the participants have eaten their share, leftovers are gathered from each and piled on a plate. These are taken outside. Originally the bearer held a torch, but now the offering is most often accompanied by a candle or a stick of incense. It is believed that disruptive spirits lurk at night and that the light will prevent them interfering with the leftovers that are destined for miserable hungry ghosts.

The blessed substance of the tsok itself is considered to be very precious is not to be wasted. It should not be thrown on the ground or carelessly disposed of. If some of it is left over, it should be put on a roof or such high places so that birds or monkeys will collect it and take it even higher. It is considered unfit for animals that live on the ground to eat.

 
Occasions for Making Tsok Offerings

Tsok is generally offered at the conclusion of a tantric initiation, in celebration of the completion of a great event. Offering tsok is also one of the ways for a tantric practitioner to purify faults in his or her committed practice and to restore broken vows.

Tsok can be performed at any time, but the two particular dates in the lunar month, the 10th and 25th, are considered more propitious. These are the days when practitioners who have made pledges to perform tsok offerings as part of their practice do so. It is believed that the skyfarers or dakinis assemble at these times and can actually partake of the offerings.

 
Offering Food

Tantric practitioners consecrate their food in the same way as they offer tsok. They visualize a blue syllable Hung at their hearts, wherein abides all the Buddhas. The upper part of the syllable is a blazing fire, in which all the food is consumed as it is eaten. This can be thought of as the food being transformed into energy by the fire of the wisdom of bliss and emptiness. Their motivation is to feed themselves to accomplish the welfare of others, rather than eating simply for their own enjoyment. They also remember the bacteria and other organisms living within their bodies who are feeding off the food and make the wish that just as they are now being satisfied by food, in the future, they will be satisfied by hearing the Dharma.

Tantric practitioners first visualize themselves in the form of their own meditational deity and maintain that identity with divine pride and clarity of appearance. This is the basis upon which they consecrate the offerings. Ridding them of their ordinary appearances and contaminated aspect, they visualize them free of all impurities. Ordinary offerings give rise to only limited pleasure, which in tum gives rise to further desire. Our desire is not quelled by limited pleasure. Consecrating the offerings overcomes these faults and limitations.

 
Visualization for Purifying Offerings of Food

The meditator dissolves the object into emptiness and dwells sometime on that. From emptiness he or she generates the particular offering in the nature of the wisdom of great bliss and emptiness. He or she imagines all the Buddhas and bodhisattvas at the heart and having transformed the food, eats it and so offers it to them.

 
Fire Offering

At the conclusion of a meditation retreat, a meditator commonly makes a fire offering to the meditational deity concerned. After receiving initiation into the practice of a particular deity, the practitioner will cultivate that practice with the goal of attaining enlightenment for all sentient beings. The deity assists the practitioner to gain accomplishments on the path. The fire offering, correctly performed with the right visualizations, pleases the deity and reinforces the bond with the practitioner. It also serves to purify the faults of badly or incompletely recited mantras and removes obstacles to good meditative stabilization, forestalls impending difficulties and illnesses which have manifested themselves through dreams and inauspicious omens.

Fire offerings are performed outside. A throne is built for the meditator who is to make the offering, with a low wall to protect him or her from the flames. The hearth is a smooth square raised platform on which an eight petalled flower wit a vajra at its center is drawn with chalk. Firewood is placed in a circle around the flower. The five kinds of offerings, of which there are two sets, are set up on a table to the right of the throne. The first set of offerings is made to the fire god, Agnidevatta, who is invoked so that the offerings will not be consumed by ordinary fire. The second set is for the meditational deity to whom the offering is made. This set involves greater quantities than the first, although the procedures for making the offering are the same.

 
Torma Offerings

Tormas are variously shaped ritual cakes used as offerings in Tantric rituals. Unlike tsok, tormas are not eaten after the ceremony, but are scattered on roofs and left for the birds. However, they should be fit for human consumption. In Tibet, poor monks and practitioners sometimes depended on eating such discarded tormas to survive. Phurchok Jampa Rinpoche reputedly had to compete with the crows to get his share.

Tormas provide a physical basis for making unsurpassable offerings to meditational deities, protectors and local deities. They are summoned forth and offered the torma. Tormas are blessed and offered in the same manner as the Inner Offering, using the same visualization to transform impure elements. Requests accompany the offering which may range from a wish to enhance spiritual realization to more mundane demands. Such offerings are part of an elaborate ritual directed to a chosen deity. The preparations for such rituals and the tormas themselves are usually made by monks who specialize in ritual. Though most are discarded afterwards, some are kept for a whole year. These are made from raw cereals and must be periodically sprinkled with water to prevent them from completely drying out. Most tormas are offered when making a request, others, especially when protectors are concerned, are offered once the request made has been fulfilled.

There are also tormas which are meditated on as deities during initiations. The master and initiates visualise the torma before them as transformed into a deity. Tormas vary in shape, depending on the ritual they belong to. Tormas offered to peaceful deities are conical with lotus bases and those destined for wrathful deities are triangular with decorates of flames.

When properly constructed, tormas include twenty-five ingredients – the five precious substances which eliminate war and conflict and fulfill wishes: gold, silver, pearl, ruby, sapphire; the five aromas conducive to good conduct: camphor, saffron, nutmeg, musk and sandalwood; the five essences which cause beings of the world to prosper: salt, water, honey – the essence of flowers, oil- the essence of seeds, sugar – the essence of fruit; the five grains which eliminate famine and increase wealth: barley, wheat, lentils, sesame and rice; the five medicinal substances which destroy illness. Nowadays, these substances are synthesized into small pills, which are prepared independently and are added to the dough mixture when tormas are made.
 

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6 Responses to A Note on Offerings by Panchen Ötrul Rinpoche

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  1. Alex Tan on Dec 15, 2013 at 8:58 pm

    The Buddha was very compassionate to teach the method to create vast seas of merits in order to support our quest for spiritual attainments.
    The motivation of making offering is very key and it is explained very clearly here how one should set one’s motivation.

  2. Felix Kong on Dec 14, 2013 at 4:36 pm

    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing, make offering to Buddhas is one of the way to collect merits but we must have the right motivation. Just a simple step, practice of “Giving” and no hope any rewards or any prizes after this, to be more generosity.

  3. Valentina Suhendra on Feb 10, 2013 at 3:12 pm

    My dear Lama

    I am translating this for lamatsongkhapa.com. In fact there are several interesting materials recently updated to the website. Just want you to know that I am not forgetting my promise and your instruction to expand the website.

    Much love and care

    Valentina

  4. MayOng on Dec 14, 2011 at 9:33 pm

    A small incident happened this week that made me realized that “working in dharma” is actually the practice of ‘Giving’. Whenever we talk, actions we took and how our mind thinks – all equates to how we practice dharma with our Body, Speech and Mind.

    How well we do our work determines how well we’ve learned and put dharma into practice. The more we give up our personal time and increase effort, the more we plant seeds to receive more in our future lives and more Merits earned. This is a WOW for me!

    How precious and brilliant are Rinpoche’s methods to help us walk the path to enlightenment in Kechara (we are so fortunate)… Thank you with folded hands! I love this article and I would like to thank the blog researcher who worked on this also. Very, very grateful and excellently written!

  5. Mc on Dec 14, 2011 at 3:19 am

    Thank you for the post Rinpoche. It provided a lot of information and cleared up some uncertainties I had regarding visualizations. As I read the article, it occurred to me that Rinpoche is always giving things and forever offering up one thing or another to so many people. From statues, to thangkas, pictures, Rinpoche’s time, dharma, knowledge, care, wisdom, support, prayers, encouragement, food, hope (even lottery tickets), and even Rinpoche’s health and the list goes on. In fact, Rinpoche has given an entire life for the benefit of others. It is not something I or anyone else should take for granted. And i guess what Rinpoche wants in return is for me and for us to turn away from our selfish-centred ways and conduct our lives as living offerings to the Buddhas.

  6. benji on Dec 13, 2011 at 2:33 am

    Thank you very much, Rinpoche, for sharing this precious teaching.

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  • Jason
    Thursday, Apr 27. 2017 03:07 AM
    This year Wesak Day fall on 10 of May. This day is very special and meaningful to me because I will visit Kechara Forest Retreat(KFR) to join some meritorious event there.
    For me, Wesak is a day to commemorate Buddha Sakyamuni in three aspect( Birth , Enlightened, Nirwana).
    While we celebrate Wesak, we must remind ourselves to learn from Buddha teachings and practice it in order to gain attainment.
    Thanks Rinpoche and Pastor Seng Piow for sharing in order to create more understanding on Wesak Day.

    Jason

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/wesak-day-special-on-rtm-2.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Wednesday, Apr 26. 2017 06:10 PM
    OMG! This is very touching. To see a doggie who never left go of his owner in spite of death. Way more powerful than many who proclaimed “till death do us part.” Just like the human, not all doggies are as loyal as this tear-jerking pet, but I truly believe almost all doggies offer unconditional love to the person who feeds and cares for them. Even when they are stray animals. There was a stray dog who will run two streets from the entrance of the “Taman” until the car stops in front of the house, just to greet me. You can imagine the warm and conviction in my heart that these beings are more than capable of loving than many of us, human! Thank you for this lovely sharing. I miss my doggie, Sherab.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/faithful-dog-chases-deceased-owner.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Wednesday, Apr 26. 2017 06:00 PM
    Thank you, Pastor Seng Piow, for this amazing sharing. There is no doubt about the ability of our Guru, His Eminence the 25th Tsem Tulku Rinpoche. His incarnations have been compassionate and taken rebirth to return and spread the dharma so that sentient beings can benefit and learn some dharma in our short life.

    We shall never doubt our Guru; but must see that He is one with our Yidam and Protector, an attained being. Even if our Guru does not demonstrate clairvoyance abilities, we must never contest our Guru, for he holds the key (dharma) that can liberate us from eternal suffering in samsara.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/personal-attendant/the-miracles-of-tsem-rinpoche-true-story-1-2.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Wednesday, Apr 26. 2017 05:50 PM
    Thank you, Pastor Seng Piow, for the illustrated miracle story on how Rinpoche guided Cynthia and Marici away from danger through protector’s practice. The unseen exist, whether we like it or not. Some of them are malicious and have the affinity or karma with some of us. Hence they can cause harm and disturbance. By engaging in Protectors’ practice like Dorje Shugden and Setrap that have been practiced by the high lamas of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism, we are protected and guarded against harm.

    Rinpoche is compassionate and only want the best for us. His teachings are not meant to show off the power of the divines but offer us a way out from our desperate samsara conundrum that binds us from engaging in deeper spiritual practice. Rinpoche always teaches us to focus on mind transformation and Tsongkhapa practice. How fortunate we are to have met Rinpoche in this lifetime. We must not let this rare and precious opportunity go to waste.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/personal-attendant/the-miracles-of-tsem-rinpoche-true-story-12.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Apr 26. 2017 04:30 PM
    Miracles do happen,when we have faith and trust in our Guru.What is important is to follow Rinpoche’s advice and do as instructed by our Guru to clear the osbtacles all the way.Angie and Herry were so fortunate to have meet Rinpoche.Its because of Rinpoche ‘s compassion and caring for his student Angie’s life was saved.Infact Rinpoche has helped many people through his intervention, advice and instructions.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Loh Seng Piow for sharing miracles stories which i enjoyed reading.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/personal-attendant/the-miracles-of-tsem-rinpoche-true-story-2.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Apr 26. 2017 02:45 PM
    WOW….interesting a miracles true story. Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Loh Seng Piow for sharing.Reciting mantras by family members and doing 20 pujas done at the monastery to help the baby. These proved that pujas, which have been done for hundreds of years in the monasteries are very powerful methods for us to overcome difficulties, create huge amounts of merit and for protection, good health and long life.This show us how powerful pujas can help us when we have trust and faith in our Guru.And with Rinpoche divination,the baby was born and now a healthy boy.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/personal-attendant/the-miracles-of-tsem-rinpoche-true-story-1-2.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Apr 26. 2017 12:47 PM
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing these powerful teachings.Its a privilege
    to do Dharma work to benefits other,do it with motivation and a good attitude when engaging ourselves It will be guide line for me.When we serve others to do Dharma work together at Kechara Forest Retreat ,we will improve ourself , purify our negative karma and to benefit others too.I will be sponsoring to the healings bricks soon and i will cherish every moment in supporting KFR.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/me/dharma-work-attitude-tdl.html
  • Lin Mun
    Wednesday, Apr 26. 2017 11:06 AM
    Bigfoot is just another beings living in this world although not commonly seen and live in the deep jungle in high mountains. There were many evidences that people from many parts of the world sighted this beings. Whatever shape they are I think importantly we are all sharing this world and therefore need to have mutual respect and not intervene each others.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/science-mysteries/its-in-the-scriptures-they-exist.html
  • Alice Tay
    Tuesday, Apr 25. 2017 04:26 PM
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Adeline sharing this interesting post about Bodhidharma, a great master favoured meditation and introduced the Lankavatara Sutra to Chinese Buddhism.

    Here are a few points I have learned from this post:
    1. Bodhidharma had strong imprints of Dharma from the past and therefore he is interested in Buddha’s teachings and show his great wisdom. at a very young age.
    2. His strong guru devotion and determination in learning and spreading the dharma based on meditation though he confronted with difficulties such as Emperor Wu Di was not impressed by his teachings, being ostracized and rejected and lived as a beggar for many months. Notwithstanding, he continued and never give up to practice meditation in complete silence for nine years in cave wall when he was not accepted by Shaolin Monastery at the beginning .
    3. When Bodhidharma was allowed enter to the monastery, he had put a lot of efforts to help the monks in improving their physical body as well as their mind through the meditation. Then, Bodhidharma continued to develop a system of 18 dynamic tension exercises which were printed as Yi Gin Ching (Changing Muscle/Tendon Classic) in 550 CE. It is known as the Luohan (arhat) 18 Hand Movements today which serves as the basis of both Chinese Temple Boxing and the Shaolin Martial Arts.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/great-lamas-masters/bodhidharma-the-founder-of-gongfu.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Tuesday, Apr 25. 2017 04:10 PM
    Thank you, Grace, for sharing with us the many tips on how to care for and maintain our hair. Personal grooming is important because when we care for our appearance, we are respecting the people who have to deal with us. Caring for our hair, making sure that it is neat and clean should be something we need to take care of since young as it is part of personal grooming. The key is not to be attached to our body and outer-images, that results in spending much time and resources just to make ourselves look good.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/guest-contributors/how-much-do-you-know-about-hair.html
  • Alice Tay
    Tuesday, Apr 25. 2017 03:00 PM
    Thank you for sharing these wonderful and significant photos showed that Kechara Pastors’ tireless efforts to bring dharma to many others and do the blessings whenever is necessary.

    Basically, the pastorship role was conceptualized by our precious guru, H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, to preserve the Dharma and to give laypeople an opportunity to commit to benefiting others. Kechara Pastors are fully dedicated and selflessly serving others especially in spiritual growth and therefore this is good for us to support the Pastors so that they can focus and spend more of their time and effort to serve others and most importantly Buddhist teachings can be spread and shared to many others. The supports to Pastors including food, lodging, transportation, items necessary for their work, such as ritual items or spiritual gifts for those in need and many others. (If you are interested to know more about Kechara Pastors, please have a good read at http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/kechara-13-depts/support-the-kechara-pastors.html)

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/10-amazing-house-blessings-by-kechara-pastors.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Tuesday, Apr 25. 2017 02:13 PM
    Its such a great blessing for all of us to hear the holy voice recordings of H.H Kyabje Zong Rinpoche a great master..His profound teachings ,got to take seroiusly,more as an important advice on Dorje Shugden’s practice.H.H Kyabje Zong Rinpoche’s explaination was very clear before any of the practitioner’s commitment and receive sogtae.They must keep the lineage practice and teachings no matter what ever happen.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing with us on the important advice by a great master.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/great-lamas-masters/kyabje-zong-rinpoches-advice-on-dorje-shugdens-practice.html
  • Lin Mun
    Tuesday, Apr 25. 2017 11:50 AM
    Thank you Pastor Han Nee for your sharing your thoughts and review about the book “Be Happy” written by Rinpoche. It is indeed not easy to be happy as we all have various expectation in every situation and people.

    We may think having a big house, lots of cash and good career is happiness but this is the wrong perception. Being happy is not about material and everything about ourselves. It is only when we can do more for others and focus out that we gain happiness. I never realised this until I joined Kechara. I think we have such a fixed mindset of what happiness is and when our expectation is not met, we are unhappy.

    Rinpoche has pointed out many ways for us to rectify our thoughts and methods to be happy. Now it is for us to take initiative to change and transform our mind if we want to be happy.

    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Han Nee for this article.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/be-happy.html
  • Lin Mun
    Monday, Apr 24. 2017 12:30 PM
    Many people do not believe in reincarnation and only relates it to certain religion such as Hinduism and Buddhism. However, there were many instances and signs that proven reincarnation exist. As Buddhist we will believe in reincarnation and karma. It is by understanding that everything has its cause and effect that we should learn to live life in the correct attitude and mindset. Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this interesting articles to remind us of karma and the importance of doing dharma practise.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/science-mysteries/interesting-signs-of-reincarnation.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Sunday, Apr 23. 2017 08:29 PM
    Thank you Rinpoche for your teachings.
    Always be generous and kind in what ever we could do even its little help.It’s the little things in life that bring the greatest happiness. Its between us and our Buddha ,so we would not bother what the receipient thinks and say of us. What ever was said ,should not deter our motivation to do Dharma work.
    (It will change people’s lives in one way or another. It will change your life for the better.)….well said by Rinpoche.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/its-not-between-you-and-the-recipient.html

1 · 2 · 3 · 4 · 5 · »

Messages from Rinpoche

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I must thank my dharma blog team who are great assets to me, Kechara and growth of dharma in this wonderful region. I am honoured and thrilled to work with them. I really am. Maybe I don't say it enough to them, but I am saying it now. I APPRECIATE THESE GUYS VERY MUCH!

Tsem Rinpoche

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The Unknown

The Known and unknown are both feared,
Known is being comfortable and stagnant,
The unknown may be growth and opportunities,
One shall never know if one fears the unknown more than the known.
Who says the unknown would be worse than the known?
But then again, the unknown is sometimes worse than the known. In the end nothing is known unless we endeavour,
So go pursue all the way with the unknown,
because all unknown with familiarity becomes the known.
~Tsem Rinpoche

Photos On The Go

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Holy Lady Buddha Vajra Yogini\'s blessing can be found when we decide to focus out to others instead of in to only ourselves.
~ Tsem Tulku Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
Holy Lady Buddha Vajra Yogini's blessing can be found when we decide to focus out to others instead of in to only ourselves. ~ Tsem Tulku Rinpoche
His Holiness Vajradhara Kyabje Zong Rinpoche of Gaden Monastery who is the refuge of countless, gives a clear explanation of Dorje Shugden. One is able to hear his holy voice and translation by Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen! Please see here and share: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=122352
2 weeks ago
His Holiness Vajradhara Kyabje Zong Rinpoche of Gaden Monastery who is the refuge of countless, gives a clear explanation of Dorje Shugden. One is able to hear his holy voice and translation by Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen! Please see here and share: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=122352
: This picture says it all. Click on it to enlarge and read and please share.
2 weeks ago
: This picture says it all. Click on it to enlarge and read and please share.
This is a simple chart showing the three main psychic channels used in tantric meditations to control the winds, raise tummo (fire energy), gain higher consciousness and insight and also for gaining siddhis. These channels are used in meditations for controlling the mind, when the mind ejects from the body (phowa) and one\'s death. These three channels are very important. Tsem Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
This is a simple chart showing the three main psychic channels used in tantric meditations to control the winds, raise tummo (fire energy), gain higher consciousness and insight and also for gaining siddhis. These channels are used in meditations for controlling the mind, when the mind ejects from the body (phowa) and one's death. These three channels are very important. Tsem Rinpoche
I think my cute doggie Oser is actually Tintin\'s dog Snowy!
3 weeks ago
I think my cute doggie Oser is actually Tintin's dog Snowy!
Great Masters of Gaden Shartse Monastery. From left to right: His Eminence Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche, His Holiness Sharpa Choeje Jetsun Lobsang Nyima, H.E. Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, H.E. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche, His Holiness 101st Gaden Tripa throne holder Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal.
3 weeks ago
Great Masters of Gaden Shartse Monastery. From left to right: His Eminence Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche, His Holiness Sharpa Choeje Jetsun Lobsang Nyima, H.E. Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, H.E. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche, His Holiness 101st Gaden Tripa throne holder Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal.
 Left to right: Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl. The three of them are my beautiful and loved Schnauzer dogs. They loved looking through the window to see traffic, people and movement. They loved the smells that drifted through their little noses. I love seeing the three of them together like this. I love them. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Left to right: Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl. The three of them are my beautiful and loved Schnauzer dogs. They loved looking through the window to see traffic, people and movement. They loved the smells that drifted through their little noses. I love seeing the three of them together like this. I love them. Tsem Rinpoche
Little Mumu boy...he loved balloons. When he saw them, he wanted to get close and perhaps bite them. Cute. I love this picture of Mumu reaching for the balloons. He was young and healthy! This picture captures his energy, enthusiasm, curiosity and high energy. I love this picture of him chasing the balloons. His pictures are always so nice....He was not a pet but family to me. I love him tremendously and always will. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Little Mumu boy...he loved balloons. When he saw them, he wanted to get close and perhaps bite them. Cute. I love this picture of Mumu reaching for the balloons. He was young and healthy! This picture captures his energy, enthusiasm, curiosity and high energy. I love this picture of him chasing the balloons. His pictures are always so nice....He was not a pet but family to me. I love him tremendously and always will. Tsem Rinpoche
Little Mumu boy and myself.. He was not a pet but family to me. I love him tremendously and always will. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Little Mumu boy and myself.. He was not a pet but family to me. I love him tremendously and always will. Tsem Rinpoche
2017-His Holiness the 101st Gaden Tripa, Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal is doing well and 90 years old. His Holiness Lungrik Namgyal is a powerful master of sutra and tantra and practitioner of Dorje Shugden. Currently residing in France.
3 weeks ago
2017-His Holiness the 101st Gaden Tripa, Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal is doing well and 90 years old. His Holiness Lungrik Namgyal is a powerful master of sutra and tantra and practitioner of Dorje Shugden. Currently residing in France.
One of the most sacred statues of Avalokitesvara made of sandalwood housed in Lhasa, Tibet. He has shown miracles also. Every pilgrim wishes to make offerings to this Lord of Compassion.
3 weeks ago
One of the most sacred statues of Avalokitesvara made of sandalwood housed in Lhasa, Tibet. He has shown miracles also. Every pilgrim wishes to make offerings to this Lord of Compassion.
 Sacred Avalokitesvara statue in Nepal. Thousands come to worship this special Buddha as it has conferred wishes in the past.
3 weeks ago
Sacred Avalokitesvara statue in Nepal. Thousands come to worship this special Buddha as it has conferred wishes in the past.
Tsem Rinpoche\'s Vajra Yogini statue and offerings
3 weeks ago
Tsem Rinpoche's Vajra Yogini statue and offerings
Two of my teachers from Gaden Shartse Monastery in South India. Left side is Most Venerable Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen whom I lived with for 8 years in Los Angeles where his centre Thubten Dhargye Ling is located. On the right is the abbot emeritus H.E. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche the scholar and yogi. I was very fortunate to have them in my life and learn so much dharma from them. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Two of my teachers from Gaden Shartse Monastery in South India. Left side is Most Venerable Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen whom I lived with for 8 years in Los Angeles where his centre Thubten Dhargye Ling is located. On the right is the abbot emeritus H.E. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche the scholar and yogi. I was very fortunate to have them in my life and learn so much dharma from them. Tsem Rinpoche
 It is so wonderful to be kind to people, be caring, feed them, make sure they are healthy and share dharma if they are interested with them for their future. But simply to be nice to others is worth getting up and being alive...otherwise why be alive to hurt/use/distrust and hate others? No point living that way..must change that..... It is nice to live our lives to benefit others and be patient even if we have been hurt before because by caring we can heal the hurt and \'defeat\' the ones that hurt us because we don\'t become bitter..... Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
It is so wonderful to be kind to people, be caring, feed them, make sure they are healthy and share dharma if they are interested with them for their future. But simply to be nice to others is worth getting up and being alive...otherwise why be alive to hurt/use/distrust and hate others? No point living that way..must change that..... It is nice to live our lives to benefit others and be patient even if we have been hurt before because by caring we can heal the hurt and 'defeat' the ones that hurt us because we don't become bitter..... Tsem Rinpoche
Tsem Rinpoche\'s heritage in China. Must read: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=120499
3 weeks ago
Tsem Rinpoche's heritage in China. Must read: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=120499
Thank you Buddhist Pastor Chia for sharing your story on how you met His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche over 20 years ago. We can learn much from your story.~Admin  Please read: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=116928
3 weeks ago
Thank you Buddhist Pastor Chia for sharing your story on how you met His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche over 20 years ago. We can learn much from your story.~Admin Please read: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=116928
Mumu boy is incredibly photogenic. He is beyond cute. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Mumu boy is incredibly photogenic. He is beyond cute. Tsem Rinpoche
 (left to right) Rabten Tulku, Gonsar Rinpoche, Gyume Kensur Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche, H.H. Gaden Trisur Rinpoche (France)
4 weeks ago
(left to right) Rabten Tulku, Gonsar Rinpoche, Gyume Kensur Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche, H.H. Gaden Trisur Rinpoche (France)
Beautiful 200 roses arrived today for me as a gift from Su Ming. Very kind and thoughtful of her as usual. Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
Beautiful 200 roses arrived today for me as a gift from Su Ming. Very kind and thoughtful of her as usual. Tsem Rinpoche
It\'s good to be with kind and sincere people.
4 weeks ago
It's good to be with kind and sincere people.
If we are kind, we lose less of ourselves-Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
If we are kind, we lose less of ourselves-Tsem Rinpoche
My Mumu boy didn\'t want to eat. Eating is not one of his favorite activities throughout his life. So I talked to him to let him know why he needs to eat and keep his strength up when this photo was taken. He was listening intently and after my talk with him, he ate. Tsem Rinpoche
4 weeks ago
My Mumu boy didn't want to eat. Eating is not one of his favorite activities throughout his life. So I talked to him to let him know why he needs to eat and keep his strength up when this photo was taken. He was listening intently and after my talk with him, he ate. Tsem Rinpoche
This is so true. Click to enlarge and understand more about unpleasant people.
4 weeks ago
This is so true. Click to enlarge and understand more about unpleasant people.
This mahasiddha Kukkuripa is easy to identify as he is accompanied by a small dog whom he loved very much.
1 month ago
This mahasiddha Kukkuripa is easy to identify as he is accompanied by a small dog whom he loved very much.
Mumu taking a rest in the turquoise room. Over the years, I always feel very satisfied when I see him covered with a blanket, safe and sleeping. I always wanted to make sure he was safe from harm, illness and distress. I wanted him to have a happy and loved life. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
Mumu taking a rest in the turquoise room. Over the years, I always feel very satisfied when I see him covered with a blanket, safe and sleeping. I always wanted to make sure he was safe from harm, illness and distress. I wanted him to have a happy and loved life. Tsem Rinpoche
I wrapped my little Mumu boy up in my blanket and propped him up on my bed. He didn\'t move or wiggle and just looked at me. He is one funny entertaining little guy. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
I wrapped my little Mumu boy up in my blanket and propped him up on my bed. He didn't move or wiggle and just looked at me. He is one funny entertaining little guy. Tsem Rinpoche
March 2017-Coaxing my little Mumu boy to eat his meal. He was not well and therefore not hungry. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
March 2017-Coaxing my little Mumu boy to eat his meal. He was not well and therefore not hungry. Tsem Rinpoche
Click on picture to enlarge and see what Milarepa says. Profound.
1 month ago
Click on picture to enlarge and see what Milarepa says. Profound.
We are always trying to get somewhere, try something new, find some friends, get some entertainment and in the end we end up in the same place. Time to really practice Dharma seriously and stop wasting time we don\'t have. ~Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
We are always trying to get somewhere, try something new, find some friends, get some entertainment and in the end we end up in the same place. Time to really practice Dharma seriously and stop wasting time we don't have. ~Tsem Rinpoche
March 20, 2017-Mumu is just so adorable with his bright eyes.
1 month ago
March 20, 2017-Mumu is just so adorable with his bright eyes.
More and more people inviting Lord Dorje Shugden home to connect with on their shrines. I am so happy to see this as it will benefit them and their families so much. That is the purpose to be alive which is to benefit others as much as possible. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
More and more people inviting Lord Dorje Shugden home to connect with on their shrines. I am so happy to see this as it will benefit them and their families so much. That is the purpose to be alive which is to benefit others as much as possible. Tsem Rinpoche
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
1 month ago
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
1 month ago
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
The Japanese are very innovative. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
The Japanese are very innovative. Tsem Rinpoche
Read this as it will be interesting
1 month ago
Read this as it will be interesting
Recite this before any meal or drinks for blessings of abundance. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
Recite this before any meal or drinks for blessings of abundance. Tsem Rinpoche
This sacred statue of Buddha is in Nepal brought originally from Tibet and has spoken on many occasions. Very blessed to see this holy image and keep a picture...bless you always. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
This sacred statue of Buddha is in Nepal brought originally from Tibet and has spoken on many occasions. Very blessed to see this holy image and keep a picture...bless you always. Tsem Rinpoche
I love Mumu boy tremendously. We went through so much together for so many years. You are a great being to be with. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
I love Mumu boy tremendously. We went through so much together for so many years. You are a great being to be with. Tsem Rinpoche
Dear everyone, I am sharing this beautiful and modern altar to Dorje Shugden in Malaysia. I am glad to see more and more people creating sacred spaces. Tsem Rinpoche
1 month ago
Dear everyone, I am sharing this beautiful and modern altar to Dorje Shugden in Malaysia. I am glad to see more and more people creating sacred spaces. Tsem Rinpoche
Lhamo Karmo, a female buddha form visualized above the crown of one\'s head at the time of death, to encourage consciousness to leave the body via the crown aperture. From my book \"The Female Buddhas.\"- Glenn Mullin
2 months ago
Lhamo Karmo, a female buddha form visualized above the crown of one's head at the time of death, to encourage consciousness to leave the body via the crown aperture. From my book "The Female Buddhas."- Glenn Mullin
The Tibetan female tulku Dorje Pakmo, from a fresco on the wall of the Dorje Pakmo monastery (Samding) in Tibet, near the Turquoise Lake. In Tibet the Dorje Pakmo was ranked with the Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and Sakya Trizin as the four highest lamas in the country.-from Glenn Mullin
2 months ago
The Tibetan female tulku Dorje Pakmo, from a fresco on the wall of the Dorje Pakmo monastery (Samding) in Tibet, near the Turquoise Lake. In Tibet the Dorje Pakmo was ranked with the Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and Sakya Trizin as the four highest lamas in the country.-from Glenn Mullin
Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl checking out the scene..cute
2 months ago
Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl checking out the scene..cute
My Dharma boy has such a cute expression here. He is a good boy!
2 months ago
My Dharma boy has such a cute expression here. He is a good boy!
February 9,2017-My Mumu boy and Oser girl are just relaxing together..super cute
3 months ago
February 9,2017-My Mumu boy and Oser girl are just relaxing together..super cute
Click on the picture to enlarge and see what Suzy from Hawaii commented on the Dorje Shugden issue after much research. She is very candid and honest. Refreshing. Original is posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl-4lIwxph4
3 months ago
Click on the picture to enlarge and see what Suzy from Hawaii commented on the Dorje Shugden issue after much research. She is very candid and honest. Refreshing. Original is posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl-4lIwxph4
This is a good one to read
3 months ago
This is a good one to read
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ASK A PASTOR


Ask the Pastors

A section for you to clarify your Dharma questions with Kechara’s esteemed pastors.

Just post your name and your question below and one of our pastors will provide you with an answer.

Scroll down and click on "View All Questions" to view archived questions.

  • April 20, 2017 10:45
    Ronnie asked: Dear Rinpoche and Pastors, I'm studying abroad and very far away from home, seeking guidance and advice as I have no one else I can talk to about this. Please read with an open mind, I don't know where else to go for help. I'm pregnant and it's an unplanned pregnancy. I'm stuck between keeping it or letting it go. I'm young and having a child at my age in the society we live in now would be considered taboo. The father of the child thinks I should let it go because it may cause a setback to both our careers and cause major family issues. He thinks we aren't ready to raise a child especially since we're both still in university and his parents think badly of me even though they've never met me or tried to get to know me. I'm sure no one would ever have the heart to take away a heartbeat but it seems like it isn't the right time to have a child now and if we did go through with it, the child probably won't be able to have the best things life can offer looking at where we are now in terms of finance and maturity. I'm lost, confused and unsure what the right thing to do is now. Any advice at all would be helpful right now. Thank you so very much for taking time to read my story.
    pastor answered: Dear Ronnie, I’m sorry to read that you are going through this situation. I can understand that this situation is tough to go through. You are always more than welcome to come here to ask questions. May I suggest that you talk to either someone in your family or your friends to help you come to an appropriate solution? This is because, what you feel, what you are going through, will change from time to time and you would need someone to talk to, someone that you can lean on through this situation you are facing. Depending on where you are in the world, professional help can also be sought to help you make a decision, which will be the best option for you seeking help. From a Buddhist perspective, the taking of a life is not considered a positive act, therefore those on the Buddhist path, would normally abstain taking a life if possible. However, that being said, one must always weigh the decision oneself. Everything we do in life, necessarily involves karma both positive and negative. That is why Buddhists try to overcome samsara in general. Your situation is complicated because you are abroad, but if possible you should really open up to someone you are close to in order to help you through making this decision on a personal basis. When you talk to someone, whom you are able to express yourself more, you may able to come to better decision that is right for you. There may be other options open to you if you seek help. I personally know women who have been in similar situations. One of these women, let the child go and the other went through the pregnancy and then gave the child up for adoption. You may or may not have thought of this option, but it is one that could be open to you, depending on where in the world you are. Any decision we make in life, however big or small it may seem, has far reaching consequences whether in this life, or in future lives. This is just a part and parcel of life within samsara. However, we should weigh the decisions we make clearly given the situation we are in. We cannot always do this weighing ourselves, but need to talk about our options with others we can rely on such a friends, family or professionals. You should consider doing this, which will help you greatly emotionally, and may give you the grounding you need to make the correct decision for you. I hope this helps.
  • April 19, 2017 04:57
    Dongho asked: What is a nyung ne practice? According to Lama Zopa Rinpoche, it's a purification sadhana. However, what are the instructions for this? I'm guessing it's to Chenrezig, but how does it work? Also, from what I have read, Vajrasattva practice is only for broken vows while Akshobhya is for regular misdeeds. Does that mean one has to take the Akshobhya practice to purify bad karma from this life and previous instead of Vajrasattva? As for the purification practices, are some like Vajrasattva and Chenrezig only to purify the bad karma and let it come quickly or is it to prevent it from coming? I am confused in it. As for signs, I recited a mantra of White Yangchenma that a Sakya lama, Lama Kunga Thartse Rinpoche, gave me with the Sakya visualizations I read on, and after one mala, I heard some lady call my Korean name even though no one in my neighborhood knows of my name and my family members weren't in the area. What does this mean?
    pastor answered: Dear Dongho, Thank you for your questions, it’s nice to see you back here again. Nyung Ne practice is a purification practice that centres around Chenrezig. It is a very beneficial practice that stems from a holy nun named Gelong-ma Palmo. It is a two and a half day practice that can be repeated many times over and over again to intensify the purification and build a closer relationship with Chenrezig. As well as its purification aspect, the practice is known to generate vast amount of merit, and also compassion, as the practice centres around Chenrezig, the Buddha of compassion. The practice involves taking the eight Mahayana precepts for the duration, fasting, meditating, prostrating and praying. The practice usually entails empowerment into the practice of Chenrezig, therefore the exact meditations, prayers can only be explained to those who have the empowerment. Vajrasattva practice is not necessarily only for repairing broken vows, etc. That’s why it is advised that you engage in the practice at the end of the day, to repair any vows that you may have broken during that day, as well as stopping any negative karma you created that day from multiplying. This would entail reciting the mantra 21 times, together with the four opponent powers. However, if you engage in this practice more intensely, it definitely has the capability to purify all sorts of karma. That is the reason why in Ngondro, or preliminary practices one engages in before tantra, the practice of 100,000 Vajrasattva mantra recitation is an integral part. You can read more about Vajrasattva and his practice here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/prayers-and-sadhanas/an-important-purification-practice.html. Within purification practices, some of the karma will be purified completely, so you do not feel its effects at all, but when purifying other karma you will need to feel its effects somehow. For example if you have the karma to be in a car accident and get seriously injured, and you are engaging in any practice, but especially the purification practice, since you have purified most of the karma, you will only experience being in a very minor car accident, with only very superficial injuries. Therefore, in this case, the karma has been purified to the extent that it does not affect you as much, but you still need to feel part of its effect. In regards to any signs that you receive which engaging in the practices given to you by one of your specific gurus, you should report the happenings to that particular guru. He will be able to give you more of an accurate answer, as it may be related to the particular practice that he gave to you. I hope this helps. Thank you.
  • April 17, 2017 07:06
    Thomas asked: Dear Pastors, When a serkyem set has been used so much and one is ready to get rid of it and replace it with a new one. What is a respecful mode of disposal?
    pastor answered: Dear Thomas, Thank you for your question. Your question shows that you have a lot of respect for offering items, which is very good. If possible, you should try to repair the item if within your means, and doing so make embellishments to make it a better offering item, which can still be used. If this is not possible, then you should dispose of the item with a good motivation. You should think that this item has been used to make offerings to the enlightened beings, but now that it is broken or unusable, you are going to dispose of it, and replace it with a new one. Since it itself is not a receptacle of energies of the enlightened beings, such as a statue, tsa tsa or thangka, it does not require a special dissolution before being disposed of. However since it was used to make offerings, it still requires some form of respect when disposing, and this comes from one’s motivation and the way in which you dispose of it. Usually, when disposing of items in this way, make the motivation that you have used it and that it is now time to dispose of it, and replace it with a new one. When you do this you can dispose of it in a respectful manner. For example, if you are going to throw it away, you do not simply open the trash can and throw it in. You wrap it up in something, like a bag or newspaper and dispose of it respectfully. Another method you can dispose of it is to recycle the object, if the material it is made from can be recycled. That way you are more conscious of the environment as well. I hope this explanation helps. Thank you.
  • April 16, 2017 22:38
    Curious asked: Dear pastors In a recent youtube video something like paying respect to deceased ones, pastor Nirel Patel explained that merits are like the interest and good karma is like the principal sum. So merits always regenerate themselves and hence do not get used up but good karma is like the principal sum so it gets used up. So my question is what are practices that generate merit? And can we turn a mundane daily activity into a meritorious one? Maybe can you provide an example?
    pastor answered: Dear Curious, Thank you for your question. First, to clarify a point, in regards to good karma, you are right, it is like a principal sum in a bank account, but you take away from it when you experience something good in your life, and you add to it when you do good deeds. Merit on the other hand, once accrued never diminishes, therefore when something is based on merit, it is based on the energies of this never diminishing sum, which you could say is like interest. In short, the principal sum when talking about karma is always added to and subtracted from. However, when talking about merit, once you have it, there is no way to destroy it, you will always benefit from it. There are various ways to explain how to generate merit. I will explain a way that I find easiest to understand. In normal life, when we go about performing any sort of activity, be it ‘good’ or ‘bad’ we do so out of ignorance of the true nature of existence, and it is usually self-motivated. For example, we work our entire lives to generate monetary income, so that we have enough money, resources, and materials goods to be comfortable. This is self-motivated, but it is the accepted way the world works these days, and is part and parcel of being bound to samsaric life. On the other hand, the act of merit making can be categorised into three parts: i) motivation, ii) the act itself, and iii) dedication. Let’s start with motivation, when engaging in various virtuous acts, we should have the motivation that by engaging in the act, we have the motivation to alleviate the suffering of someone else, and that may we gain enlightenment so that we can benefit them in the future. The second is the act itself. The third is to dedicate the energy of the virtuous act to gaining enlightenment. These three are what make merit. This may be a little confusing, so let me give an example: giving help to a homeless person. Whereas in ordinary life, this is something praised as a very good deed, it does not create merit without motivation and dedication. In order for this to become merit, one must set the motivation that one is giving help to the homeless free of the eight worldly concerns, to alleviate their suffering and also making the motivation that you will achieve enlightenment for the sake of the person or people you are helping. Then after you have helped them, you dedicate the energy created to the spiritual journey towards full enlightenment to help all sentient beings, while at the same time benefiting as many sentient beings as possible on the way there. This transforms the act into not only a virtuous action but also one that generates merit. On the other hand, if you were to help the homeless without these, you are creating good karma, which although beneficial, keeps you bound to existence within samsara. As it is the goal of Buddhist practice to overcome the cycle of samsara, a Buddhist would want to generate merit instead of good karma. I hope this explanation helps. Thank you.
  • April 13, 2017 11:38
    D.A. asked: If Begtse Chan is not from Mongolia, what are his real origins or story exactly? And which lamas offer his empowerment? As for Manjushri Nagarakshasa, which lamas specifically offer his empowerment and practice?
    pastor answered: Dear D.A. Thank you for your question. Begtse, is also known as Chamsing, or Jamsaran in Mongolian. As mentioned in an earlier sharing with someone who also asked a question about Begtse, the practiced was introduced to Tibet from India by the translator Nyen Lotsawa, and is considered one of the main protectors of the Hayagriva cycle of tantras. According to the scriptures that derive from the Sakya tradition, who incorporated the practice from the translators, and in which tradition Begtse became a very important protector, Begtse in a previous life was born many eons ago. In that particular life, he was born as the younger prince in a royal family. His name was Drag Gye, and his older brother’s name was Drag Den. Over time both princes developed differing religious beliefs, to the point where they could not get along with each as they both held their own religious views strongly. As was the custom during that time, they decided to settle their differences through logical debate, with the loser having to convert to the winner’s religion. This custom was also prevalent in ancient India, and there are many stories of such debates occurring between the great masters of the past and those of other faiths. Drag Gye lost the various debates, but ran away instead of converting to his older brother’s religion. Drag Den caught him, and tried to punish him for breaking the rules of debate and going back on his promise. Drag Gye told his brother that even if he was killed he would not give up his religion, however if Drag Den let him go, that in the future when Drag Den became enlightened, he would protect his teachings. With that Drag Den let him go, and gave him a set of copper armour, a stick, and a bow and arrow. Drag Den also gave Drag Gye a new name: Sog Dag Yam Shi Mar Po. After this incident the two brothers never saw each other again in that lifetime. Many lives after that Drag Den was reborn as Prince Siddharta, who eventually became enlightened and is now known as Buddha Shakyamuni. Drag Gye, or Sog Dag Yam Shi Mar Po, was reborn in a cemetery in the North West direction. His parents gave birth to two eggs, one was a coral-like colour and the other was an agate-like colour. These two eggs flew high into the sky and reached the heavenly realms, there they subdued the gods. Then flying back down to earth, they subdued many nagas. Eventually they even came to threaten their own parents. The parents petitioned the Dharma protector Ekajati for her help, who threw her own staff (khatvanga) at the eggs, and broke them apart. From the coral-like coloured egg came a ferocious man with yellow hair, he proclaimed that his name was ‘Sog Dag Yam Shi Mar Po’. When he emerged he was wearing a set of copper armour, wielding a stick, copper sword, and a bow and arrow. From the agate-like coloured egg came a female who was blue in colour, her teeth were like shells, she had turquoise eyebrows, and her hair was made of fire. She emerged wielding a copper knife, ritual dagger (phurba), rode a terrifying bear and wore an intricate necklace made of agate and lapis lazuli. It was then that Ekajati once again took action, and subdued them, after which they became Dharma protectors. The male figure became known as Begtse, and the female as his sister. When you propitiate Begtse, his sister is automatically included and aids practitioners as well. As for which lama offer his practice and empowerment, most lamas do not advertise which teachings or practice they hold. Therefore you should respectfully approach lamas and ask them if they have the practice and can bestow it, or if they know of any lamas that have the practice, depending on how much you want to practice Begtse. Similarly, this applies to those lamas who have the practice of Manjushri Nagarakshasa. However, this practice is included in the Rinjung Gyatsa series of empowerments. This unique cycle of teachings, includes all 4 classes of tantric practices, and includes the practice of Manjushri Nagarakshasa. Therefore those lamas who have received the complete transmission, and have kept their commitments for this practice, are qualified to pass this on to others. I hope this explanation helps. Thank you.
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CHAT PICTURES

Art expression using chalks and papers is an avenue for young children to cultivate positive perspective of life and connect with their artistic or creative side. Stella, KSDS
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Art expression using chalks and papers is an avenue for young children to cultivate positive perspective of life and connect with their artistic or creative side. Stella, KSDS
Children as long as 2 years old are ready to learn up skills and attitude that will help them shape their life. When else will be best to instil them with good Dharma values if not since young? Stella, KSDS
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Children as long as 2 years old are ready to learn up skills and attitude that will help them shape their life. When else will be best to instil them with good Dharma values if not since young? Stella, KSDS
Senior students of the children class of Kechara Sunday Dharma School had their class in the ghompa every Sunday. Stella, KSDS
2 days ago
Senior students of the children class of Kechara Sunday Dharma School had their class in the ghompa every Sunday. Stella, KSDS
Besides young Karlson and Ern Ern, there are new faces in Kechara Sunday Dharma School 2-4 years old. Stella, KSDS
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Besides young Karlson and Ern Ern, there are new faces in Kechara Sunday Dharma School 2-4 years old. Stella, KSDS
Kechara Sunday Dharma School students 5-6 years old making prostration to Lama Tsongkhapa at the beginning of the class every Sunday. Stella,KSDS
2 days ago
Kechara Sunday Dharma School students 5-6 years old making prostration to Lama Tsongkhapa at the beginning of the class every Sunday. Stella,KSDS
@KecharaHouse tonite, 48 puja attendees filled the air with a loud chorus of prayer n mantra 2 Dorje Shugden n Setrap!  PHNee
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@KecharaHouse tonite, 48 puja attendees filled the air with a loud chorus of prayer n mantra 2 Dorje Shugden n Setrap! PHNee
A big Thank You to the kind volunteers and to Jace Chong!
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A big Thank You to the kind volunteers and to Jace Chong!
Make your weekend meaningful! Contact Jace Chong to volunteer in Kechara Forest Retreat for the aviaries.
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Make your weekend meaningful! Contact Jace Chong to volunteer in Kechara Forest Retreat for the aviaries.
Thank you to our young volunteer to improve the life of the birds in our aviary!
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Thank you to our young volunteer to improve the life of the birds in our aviary!
English Level 2 Dharma Class, Pastor Han Nee started the Day 5 Lamrim, which is the Seven-Limbed Prayer with Homage and Prostration( 35 Confessional Buddha )  was extensively covered. -  Yew Seng
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English Level 2 Dharma Class, Pastor Han Nee started the Day 5 Lamrim, which is the Seven-Limbed Prayer with Homage and Prostration( 35 Confessional Buddha ) was extensively covered. - Yew Seng
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Sunday Dharma class kids learning to take refuge with teacher Alice. Lucy Yap
One of the outdoor activities for KSDS students is to exercise the drawing that near to the nature. Alice Tay, KSDS
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One of the outdoor activities for KSDS students is to exercise the drawing that near to the nature. Alice Tay, KSDS
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Teacher Jesvin explained the camp rules and regulations to the camper. Alice Tay, KSDS
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KSDS teachers and the young participants of WOAH Camp played & have fun together for this game, Self defense and attack. Alice Tay, KSDS
The younger group of KSDS were happy because they're given chance to feel,touch and play the slime. Alice Tay, KSDS
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The younger group of KSDS were happy because they're given chance to feel,touch and play the slime. Alice Tay, KSDS
Teacher Laura guided the students do meditation. Alice Tay, KSDS
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Teacher Laura guided the students do meditation. Alice Tay, KSDS
Day break at Kechara Forest Retreat! Sunrise meditation during Inner Reflection Retreat, April 2017
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Day break at Kechara Forest Retreat! Sunrise meditation during Inner Reflection Retreat, April 2017
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Visitors in Kechara Forest Retreat, circumambulating the holy Vajra Yogini Stupa. Picture credit Pastor Gimlee
Students are getting ready to do prostration in Gompa following a Teacher Kien and Teacher Zhi Yan instruction. Lin Mun KSDS
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Teacher Callista & Teacher Irene were sharing with children on the topic of courage. It is good to instil dharma knowledge from young. Lin Mun KSDS
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Beautiful tormas was offered during Gyenze Puja at Kechara Forest Retreat. Lucy Yap
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