Advice at a Funeral

By | Jun 22, 2016 | Views: 1,142
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One of my earliest experiences with death was with Rinpoche, during the passing of my beloved maternal grandmother. In the Chinese (specifically Hokkien) tradition, this person is known as ‘Ah Ma’.

Our Ah Ma was a wonderful lady. Kind, gentle and soft-hearted, she was extremely forgiving and always accommodating – whatever we grandkids wanted to do or eat, wherever we wanted to visit, she would do her best to make sure it happened. It wasn’t until years later that I realised financially, things weren’t always easy for my grandparents but they never let us experience it. We only saw them a few times a year, during school holidays when trips to Penang to visit them was the highlight. Our grandparents doted on us and they wanted to make sure we had a good time, and leave with good memories.

Ah Ma with her acupuncturist brother

So when we did something that deserved a scolding, Ah Ma would help with the cover up so our mischief wouldn’t be discovered, and she did it with a twinkle in her eye. Once I got into a bad bicycling accident and fluid built up in my knee. It swelled up horrendously and I was left unable to walk, and no amount of treatment would get the swelling to go down again. The hospitals and even her acupuncturist brother were unable to help. Ah Ma spent the next few days seeking all kinds of treatment for me, getting on the phone with friends and coercing Ah Kong (my grandfather) to drive her here and there. Finally, a Pakistani neighbour told her to rub a boiled egg on my knee every day for 20 minutes which she did lovingly until the swelling subsided and I could walk again.

In my mind’s eye, I can still see Ah Ma shuffling from the kitchen to her bedroom, hot and bothered from cooking up a storm. She’s wearing her loose Nyonya batik kaftan, her hair rolled up in green and pink plastic curlers. Her feet are clad in hotel slippers one of us stole from our last holiday and they slap against the tiled floor as she walks. I can see her leaning in to the mirror to carefully apply her make-up, her hands steady and still soft from her nightly moisturising routine. And in another memory, there she is, bent over the bathroom sink, carefully applying dye to her hair. It wasn’t until many years after her passing that I realised I never once saw her with any grey hairs.

You would be forgiven for thinking this immaculate, well-dressed lady was only about parties and having fun, but in reality she was a spiritual person who loved Buddhism and Rinpoche. One of our favourite activities to do with our grandparents was to visit the Burmese and Thai temples in Penang, and the Kek Lok Si Pagoda. Ah Ma was the first person to teach me the meaning of the refuge prayer “Namo Guru Beh, Namo Buddhaya, Namo Dharmaya, Namo Sanghaya”. She was open to all religions, keeping an altar for Sai Baba and encouraging us to explore spirituality. One of the first times I ever went out on my own in Penang was to, at her encouragement, a Hindu yoga and meditation centre. Meanwhile, it was Ah Kong’s nightly ritual to clean the altars, and offer incense and fruit, before settling down with a sigh in front of the TV, cigarette in hand (and nosy grandchildren just behind him, spouting the dangers of smoking hehe).

Some of our best moments took place in the hour before bedtime. We grandkids shared a room and a bunkbed with Ah Ma; she had the lower bunk with my brother and sister, who took turns sleeping with her or on the floor on a mattress. As the older one, I got the upper bunk. Ah Ma would try her utmost best to get us to fall asleep but we never wanted to because back then, being grown up meant staying up as late as possible. So for an hour, she’d chat to us then ‘realise’ she was falling for our tricks, pretend to be frustrated then burst out laughing and say, “Okay, okay, that’s it, you need to sleep now”…and then start talking to us all over again.

Ah Ma’s death in 2002 was sudden and totally unexpected. Early one morning, Ah Kong went to wake her up in her bedroom and discovered that she had had a stroke sometime in the night. He asked if she wanted an ambulance; she was still responsive and tried to speak but everything was garbled. She could only nod yes but shortly after she arrived at the hospital, she was gone. It was not something any of us could have predicted, especially since she had just undergone a full medical check-up the week before and nothing unusual was spotted except for slightly raised blood pressure.

Our parents pulled us out from school for the week and we immediately drove to Penang where the funeral was being held. We were silent most of the way, a rare occurrence when you put three boisterous and often-arguing siblings in one car.

Ah Ma and Ah Kong, at her 60th birthday celebration. She died just two years later.

Rinpoche kindly came to Penang to conduct the funeral for us. A lot of people had turned up to celebrate the life of this wonderful lady. Rinpoche advised us not to cry, saying Ah Ma would be worried to see us upset and her mind would hang around, and this would hinder her taking her next rebirth. It was therefore our responsibility to make sure she knew we were okay so she could leave in peace. So as we did our best to stem our tears, we recited OM MANI PADME HUM or OM TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA which Rinpoche said would be good for her because those were Ah Ma’s favourite mantras. As Rinpoche himself recited prayers, a huge gust of wind blew on what had otherwise been an extremely warm day with no breeze. The door behind Ah Ma’s coffin slammed with a resounding bang, making everyone jump. After Rinpoche finished reciting the prayers, he said it was at that moment Ah Ma had left and it was a good sign. After the cremation, our family gathered in my aunty’s house, where Rinpoche called and spoke to all of us over for two hours.

A couple of weeks ago, I was reorganising my things when I came across my mother’s notes from that phone call. I still remember that call clearly. All of us were in my aunty’s bedroom, crouched and straining to listen to the speakerphone. Rinpoche spoke patiently and caringly, and waited for my mother to repeat his words so that everyone in the room could hear clearly.

I think the phone call and Rinpoche’s presence made Ah Ma’s passing a lot easier to bear because to be honest, her passing didn’t hit me until a few months later. On the way back from school one day, I realised I would never see her again and that’s when I started crying. I realised death wasn’t something people could come back from, and whatever sorrow I felt actually arose from regret – could I have called her more often, or written to her more? Could I have served her more and taken less from her? Was there anything I should’ve apologised to her for? And if death comes so suddenly, when would it be my grandfather’s turn and my parents’ turn, and my turn, and how would I be able to predict any of it?

Death is unavoidable and death is irreversible, and the moment of our death is uncertain. And not only is the exact moment uncertain but at our level, where we go after death is uncertain too. So we can play all the fun and games we want, pretending we will be young and live forever but the fact is that our mortality is very real, and anything else is a denial of the inevitability of death. At the point of our passing, the only thing that will help us and our relatives and take their pain away, is the Dharma. It will not be the good memories, the trips we took, the photographs we have, the meals we ate or the shopping we did with them. If we are Buddhist, those events do not determine our rebirth and if we are not Buddhist, well they won’t determine whether we get into heaven or hell (if that is our belief). So I share Rinpoche’s advice here hoping it will be useful to you. If we have real love for ourselves and for those closest to us, preparing for our death and theirs is the greatest gift we can give them.

 


 

Advice from Rinpoche

* all additions within [ ] are my own, intended to lend more clarity to my mother’s notes

He says he is honoured to be here and to be able to set her free and he says he is happy everything went smoothly in [such a] difficult situation and that everyone cooperated together so well. Whatever our family does is our own affair, not others’ business and whatever we do is our work together.

Since Rinpoche is the teacher of our family, it is his responsibility to relay some messages to us. Our parents have been independent [in] taking care of each other until now and the reason why they leave us alone is because they do not want to burden us in any way, shape or form and make their own lives. This is what he feels but it could be other factors too.

Now that the situation has changed and the grand matriarch of the family has passed away, the passing away of Ah Ma is a rude awakening and a shock to immortality and very sudden and makes us feel life is so fragile, short and quick to end and because it’s fragile, that’s why every moment we spend with our family is so important. There’s no guarantee who is older will go first or last. At this moment, we have the only oldest person left is Ah Kong. So we need to put our own wishes and needs and pursuits aside. At this moment, we need to concentrate on our father. None of the three sisters spoke to Rinpoche about it. This is [Rinpoche’s own] thought and Rinpoche is letting us know in this aspect, he is not pushing or ordering us but to please take care of Ah Kong for the next 49 days and thereafter do not leave him alone; not let him be alone. The husband and wife had a long life together and planned everything together. Ah Kong held up his strength and pulled through this ordeal. He held up quite strongly, but inside he is completely broken up.

His three daughters have the essence of his beloved wife so when he sees his three daughters and [their] offspring, it will remind him of his wife and make him closer to his wife. If his three daughters are gone and not around he will be broken emotionally.

Whether you are Buddhist, Christian, Muslim, you must put that aside and think on [a] human basic level. He gives us life, fed us, he washed us and took care of us. Now we have to take care of him. Not because he is a baby and cannot take care of himself, but if we are human and remember kindness, we repay kindness. Ah Kong doesn’t expect this but we should act as human.

We can go see movies, see boyfriends, etc. but put all attachment aside, put personal comfort aside. All of us must have a harmonious, loving, unselfish forthcoming meeting, and work out a plan so that our sacred father is not alone. There is no point going to temple, churching, praying, etc. if we don’t take care of the father and mother who gave us life. How much we pray will be no blessing from God or Buddha or whatever we choose to believe. So if we repay them even without praying, the Holy Ones will bless us and [in the] later years, we will be alright. Naturally, good attracts good. Contemplate on this. Rinpoche requests us to take care of father and grandfather. It’s a natural thing some people will be more biased towards father or mother, but if you take care of father, won’t mother be happy? Think of Ah Ma and what she wants us to do at this time.

Whatever differences we had with them or not with them, put aside now, take care of Ah Kong. Do not think of our own staying place, our own comfort, our own entertainment. Sacrifice and repay back. This type of sacrifice is worth the sacrifice. Any time father can go off and be heartbroken and feel abandoned. A person’s mind is stronger than [their] body and if the mind goes, even if [the] body is strong, it will pass. Don’t let Ah Kong down or Ah Ma for 49 days. One must keep him company and take turns and do not do it grudgingly. Everything said is from Rinpoche’s heart. Some of us have been under the kindness and [have been] personally taken care [of] by Ah Ma. Whatever faith we believe, remember [the] faith of our mother and forefathers and never put down or disrespect them. One should not listen to peers and friends but to our grandmother who has taken care of us to heart. If she prayed to Kuan Yin and Buddha all her life and lived so well, definitely Buddha has the power to bless us. Family remains forever, friends will not. Friends are attracted to us by the way we talk, look, money, many different types of factors. But if one of these factors is gone, they will be gone.

All children remember – pray to Ah Ma’s Buddha. [For] ourselves we can do anything we like. If we love her, pray for her. Please respect Ah Ma and do as she has done and do what is best for our family without listening to outside peers because they never bathed and fed us. Do what your family does, be proud of your family heritage and proud of your religious traditions. Whatever our Ah Ma has done has made her [the] wonderful person she was. Whatever she has done is correct.

In conclusion, please do not allow father/grandfather to be alone. His motive is not to burden us. He is not someone stupid, crippled or cannot take care of himself. This is not the point. The point is to make him feel loved and cared about. Sacrifice your own comfort and happiness and take care of him. Do prayers with him. Those in Penang and nearby, do prayers with him together. It’s only for 49 days and make sure he is taken care of and someone stays there with him. After the crucial period of 49 days, we make arrangements that he is not alone because he is useful and necessary and [a] very important part of [the] family. More importantly [at] this time, be human first. Put your needs aside. [To be] human means compassion, kindness and sacrifice. Dedicate time for father/grandfather. Take care of him, see him often, call him all the time to make sure [he is] alright. Listen between the lines; he will always say ‘no’ so as not to burden us.

To our father: Rinpoche has the right to say this even though Rinpoche is younger and not to be disrespectful, but he says it as a spiritual teacher, in that capacity. Give [your] children/grandchildren the chance to serve you. Let them have the honour and be able to collect merit to serve you. Give them a chance. Don’t think you are [not] independent, you are. But help them so that they may collect merit, repay kindness, give them a chance to repay your kindness as [a] father/grandfather. If you don’t do this and you pass on, they will have guilt and regret. Don’t let them suffer like this. Rinpoche is telling us all of this as he has [a] close and intimate connection with us. He dares to take this chance to invade our privacy. Whatever he says is not meant to be disrespectful to anyone, but to bring benefit. Do not take offence to what he has said.

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Pastor Elena Khong Jean Ai
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About Pastor Elena Khong Jean Ai

Writer. Blogger. Non-conformist and contemporary. Kechara’s youngest Buddhist Pastor. The smiling nun-to-be. Proud student of H.E. Tsem Rinpoche. Lover of cheese and bad puns. You can find more of her writing at www.elenakhong.com.
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30 Responses to Advice at a Funeral

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  1. Samfoonheei on Nov 16, 2016 at 5:53 pm

    Thank you Pastor Jean Ai for sharing your experience.
    Death is uncertain that for sure.Our time in this world is limited, and that eventually all of us will end. At the point of our passing, the only thing that will help us and take our pain away, is the DHARMA.
    Show compassion, kindness and sacrifice our time for our loved one before its too late.
    Thank you Rinpoche for all your teachings and advice

  2. Wan Wai Meng on Nov 1, 2016 at 11:34 pm

    What a lovely and warm article article written by Pastor Jean Ai. I enjoyed every word of this article, and it is such a blessing to have the kind of advice that Rinpoche’s dispenses to people who are going through a grieving period. i do think the advice Rinpoche gives to people will differ on a case to case basis. Whatever advise Rinpoche gives is always based on benefitting the people he is assisting and perhaps even to a certain extent helping those who have experienced loss to awaken their compassion and their sense of care for one another.

  3. Elisha Lynn Tang Sue Ming on Jul 30, 2016 at 1:45 am

    We can’t avoid death in life. Life is too transient and fleeting that we need to do good deeds in life. For us, death is not the end of life but it’s just another transition of life. We should live a life meaningfully so that we won’t regret in the future.

    • Pastor Elena Khong Jean Ai on Jul 31, 2016 at 6:06 pm

      Thank you for your comment Elisha. Reminds me of a teaching Rinpoche gave recently upon hearing that a close friend has cancer. Rinpoche reminded us that in actuality, all of us are dying. The difference with cancer patients, especially those whose conditions are terminal, is that they know what they are dying from and have some kind of prognosis and timeline. The rest of us are dying, just slower.

      Your remark about regret also reminded me about another teaching Rinpoche previously gave about how to live a life that’s without regret. One of the most powerful things Rinpoche said in that teaching was a reminder of the most commonly said things we hear from people on their death bed. “I wish…”, “I regret…”, “I should’ve…” – but at that moment, when we are lying there, what can we do about our regrets?

      So knowing death is an eventuality, better we meditate on death every day. The uninformed say to do this is morbid but in actuality, it’s liberating. Because you know you’re going to die and take rebirth, and this current existence is not your last, you end up living fearlessly. And when remind ourselves of the fact death is eventual, it helps to develop a motivation whereby we act, speak and think in such a way that will leave behind only benefit so when our moment arrives, we have no regrets. It therefore behooves us to live kinder lives now. We don’t want our last moment to be something nasty we did or said to a person.

  4. Su Ming on Jul 24, 2016 at 8:07 pm

    Thank you PJA for sharing this experience with us.

    I, myself had shared the similar experience with what you wrote above when my late maternal grandmother passed away. Before and also after her passing, Rinpoche had stood by my family throughout.

    Rinpoche visited her not once but twice during her critical moments and spoke to her also. My family will always be grateful for the advices Rinpoche has given during that time as I know it has ease her pain and also both my mom and her siblings pain in losing her.

    I am glad that my mom/aunt and myself are in dharma as due to the merits accumulated we are able to help my maternal grandmother during her final moments. And that is how I can repay her kindness she has shown me throughout the years with her. What other better way to repay her kindness except to have her final moments “guided”

    Thank you

  5. Lin Mun on Jul 20, 2016 at 10:45 pm

    Thank you Pastor Jean Ai for sharing your experience.

    I have to face a funeral of my closest family member, my mom two weeks ago. Her death was very sudden to all of us (family members and friends) as she passed away in her sleep with no prior sickness.

    It is true that life in impermanent and that death is unpredictable. Although the news came in so sudden but I must say that our family members accepted it very well. We try very hard not to cry and stay calm so my mom can leave this world peacefully.

    Also thanks to Kechara Puja’s team advise, when giving my mom the last respect, I prep all my relatives not to cry and asked them to tell my mom to leave this world and not to worry anymore. All went well.

    It is very important that the family members understand dharma so they can help the deceased. Also it is because of dharma that I am much calm in accepting my mom passing.

    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Jean Ai for all your teaching and knowledge so we are more prepared when facing such incident.

  6. freon on Jul 4, 2016 at 5:28 pm

    Death is so sudden and unpredictable. It could be happened to anyone, anytime and in any situation. Death, brought separation forever … It can be devastating to one’s life. Often in the funeral, we did many things for the deceased and we kind of neglected the one who are alive and close to the deceased. Their mind can be very unstable and fall into depression. Many time, people who can’t take the pain, will develop mental illness.

    In this article, Rinpoche have kindly reminded the family on the important to take care of the one who are still alive. so that they do not fall into a situation that lead them more devastating.

    I remember in a Puja -namely Lama Chopa Puja, this puja is not just collect vast merit for the deceased but this puja could also protect the mind of the living relatives, so that they are protected and not over carry by the lost.

    It is very true, if one have dharma, during these period, either to the deceased or the living relatives, it is very very useful. With dharma for instant, puja can be done to help the decease pass away without fear. While for the relatives, they could collect merit while perform the charity acts, example be vegetarian during the 49 days. With Dharma, We could understand the important of keep calm and not to cry. Cry over the death will not help anything, but, make the decease and relatives suffered more in pain.

    Without Rinpoche’s teaching all this dharma knowledge, how could we possibly know about the pro and con in a funeral. How could we benefit the decease and the relatives. I thanks Rinpoche a lot whenever i went to funeral. The dharma knowledge that Rinpoche taught are so precious .

    Thank you Pastor Jean Ai for sharing this article.

  7. Jill Yam on Jun 28, 2016 at 10:25 pm

    Death is inevitable and no matter how well prepared we are for it and when someone close to us passes away it just shake our whole world. More so if the passing is so sudden.

    I remembered when my father was sick in hospital I felt so helpless no knowing how to help him to make him more comfortable. I am and still is saddened by his passing 3 years ago and at times I felt guilty and regret for not doing much while he was alive.

    But after having read about the Death Meditation by Tsem Rinpoche and having had the chance to follow Pastor Yek Yee when she was performing last rites and the puja team doing the Bereavement pujas I am able to understand more about what to do when someone passes away.

    And when the sudden demise of my husband a year ago my family and I was devastated but with the help of Kecharians, puja house and the Pastors we manage to go through this difficult time. Not forgetting my Guru, Tsem Rinpoche as well. The support is very important and that is the time when we need to know someone cares about us after losing a loved one.

    I know my late husband is in a good place now and we will always remember the good memories of him as a father, husband and a son.

    Thank you Pastor Jean Ai for the beautiful sharing too.

    Jill Yam.

    • Pastor Elena Khong Jean Ai on Jun 29, 2016 at 6:34 am

      Jill, thank you for this personal sharing. Reading what you wrote, it comes to mind that the support you gave to others during their time of grief created the causes for you to receive the same during your own difficult times. And knowing now what it is like to lose someone very loved, your understanding of death and the pain that those behind have to experience can assist you with your work, whereby you can reach out and help others. After all, we have Kechara because Rinpoche went through so much, knows what it is like to feel pain and suffer, and decided to never let anyone else feel that way or experience that too.

      The work you and Pastor Yek Yee and the rest of the Puja House team do is really invaluable. The suffering of the body can be dulled, numbed, taken away with medication but the suffering of the mind is very difficult to treat. When people are down and need help, the Puja House team are available at all hours of the day to provide mental and spiritual support through your pujas. You guys put your sleep and discomforts aside to be there for others so I think everyone really owes you all a very big thank you for your work _/|\_

  8. Leonard Ooi on Jun 28, 2016 at 11:52 am

    Dear Pastor Jean Ai,

    Thank you for sharing with us your personal experience of losing your beloved grandmother and Rinpoche’s advice for your family. Death is inevitable and one day we will depart and we will suffer when that day comes if we’re not prepared for it. My mum passed away on May 1st 2002, my dad a month later on June 1st 2002. It was a tremendous blow for me as I was orphaned within a month.

    What I know is that I have taken care of my parents well when they were alive, knowing that that’s the best gift I have given them. I missed them a lot and I now dedicate prayers to them so that they will have a good and quick rebirth. Life is short and I will continue to do more dharma to accumulate merits for their good rebirth.

    Om Benza Wiki Bitana Soha

    With folded hands,

    Leonard Ooi
    KPSG

  9. Sarah Yap on Jun 28, 2016 at 4:51 am

    Death is so common and it happens in every family, and yet it is unnerving how we are usually unprepared to deal with the inevitable, especially when someone close and loved by us passes away. It doesn’t matter if it was a sudden death, an accident or one that was expected… we are always unprepared to deal with it. Least of all, the one that has passed away.

    If there is no Dharma, and we lack the knowledge, then when the time comes there is really nothing we can do except shed tears of sorrow. Nothing we can do because we dont know any better…

    People often speak about death in a very morbid way… but I have always found it to be weird in a sense that we often avoid talking about the subject. I remember being brought up in a family where on my father’s side, you can’t talk about death especially when there’s old people around… while on my mother’s side of the family, speaking about death was not always morbid and can be taken in a comical way.

    Also, the views about death differs so much between people… most people fear, but for the accomplished, practiced and well prepared Buddhist practitioner… Death is a precious moment where we can put into action what we have been practicing and everything we have learnt in this life.

  10. yikming on Jun 27, 2016 at 9:35 am

    Pastor Jean Ai,
    Thanks for the sharing , brings us back in time. Reflecting back on our own grandparents and in my case, my dad’s passing. I was lucky to have learn a little dharma and connected with Guru’s teaching that the passing of my dad was able to be taken better. Our parents or grandparents time, talking about death is a taboo and morbid kinda of topic. Belief is when you talk about death, you may attract it. But I learn a lot during the process thus feel blessed that i was able to provide the proper preparation and prayers for my Dad. Guru gave specific instruction and advice which help my Dad along the “journey” and the family to better accept it. Thanks again for the sharing. Reading your article takes us back in time and the pics takes us back to the 70-80’s. Awaiting your next post.

  11. Frederick Law on Jun 26, 2016 at 2:38 am

    Losing a love one is devastating to the family, especially those who are close to us, it is a emotional moment for the whole family, it is certainly not easy to hold the tears and heart break. But if we understand Dharma, it help us to be calm in the moment of death when our loves one passed away, and know how to deal with at the exact moment.

    What is important is how we take care of our parents, grandparents and family members when they are alive, the best gift we can provide them is not material, but instead spiritual. Knowing that life is short, we should take care of them, making sure they are ok.

    It is important that we give them the gift of Dharma, help them to be connected to the 3 Jewels and our Guru while they are alive. Because at the time of death, it is through the Guru and Protector blessing that will ensure that they will be good hand and will have a swift rebirth.

    From this article, we can see Rinpoche compassion and care for the family, especially to Ah Kong. Rinpoche advice is profound and touches the human feeling because the most important thing we must not forget is our beloved family who is still alive, fot this case Ah Kong. We should let go of our differences, and focus of taking care of Ah Kong, because it is at the moment Ah Kong is the most affected due to the loss of his beloved wife. Hence being the children, we must take care and make sure of beloved one is alright, and give them love at their saddest moment.

    For a family, we must look past religion, and respect each other religion, never let religion be an obstacle for us to care for others especially our love ones. instead we must be more humanistic is in taking care of parents which is beneficial for the future lifes.

  12. Lew on Jun 26, 2016 at 1:37 am

    This is a very beautiful written article. I too have lost my grandmother when I was quite young (I think may be 7 or 8 years old) but in my case, it was quite a traumatised experience, whIch I still have “images” about it until today.

    Just like we need “family doctor”, it is important to have a spiritual guide for the family too. It would be good to guide us better in such cases. My parents are good people, and instil good values to us, but they are not spiritual inclined person. Therefore, they don’t discuss such things are after death, etc. In that sense, I feel Pastor Jean Ai is very fortunate to meet Rinpoche at such a young age and able to start her spirituality at a young age.

    From the advice, I can see that Rinpoche is forever kind and compassion, and to instil the good values to His students and people around Him. Otherwise, Rinpoche could have easily just give some simple advice without “intruding” the family affairs.

    One of the things I like about Rinpoche’s teachings, is He is able to take Buddha’s teaching, and strip away the “religion aspect” of it, and the teaching become universal to everyone, including people of different faith. It is this ability where the teaching become humane.

  13. Datuk May on Jun 25, 2016 at 7:42 pm

    Dear Pastor Jean Ai,

    Thank you for the lovely story of the love between you and your grandmother, it is really beautiful to know how much you have treasured your time with her. And more than that to share with us the teachings from Rinpoche.

    Yes, death is inevitable and it is important for us to be able to contribute to the rebirth or afterlife of our beloved.

    Your story reminded me of the year in 2007 when I had a strong desire to visit my god parents in USA, Margaret and Thomas Hague. They were very kind and loving to me, as stopping in their ranch in Canton, Ohio on my business trips to USA was like a time of relaxation from the pressures of the business world. They would always be there and we would have a great time together.

    After visiting them in April 2007, I continued to keep in touch with them as they were both not well, with Margaret suffering from cancer and Tom from several strokes. One year later, Margaret passed away and I managed to talk to Tom over the phone, but sad to say Tom passed on 3 days later.

    The circumstances were very saddening but that is what life is all about and our death is never predictable but totally inevitable.

    Rinpoche’s advice to care about all our beloved is very kind and compassionate, Thank you Rinpoche.

  14. Uncle Eddie on Jun 25, 2016 at 5:52 pm

    Even though how long a person lives, we always used to hear remarks like “life is brief; before we know it, it’s over”. Of course as said, death is unadvoidable, and the moment of death is uncertain. We do not know when that will happen, it could end anytime. What counts is that whether we have achieved our goal, which is to find happiness. All of us do wish for happiness and want to avoid all forms of sufferings. As in Buddhism, achieving happiness in this life alone is an inadequate goal. It is far more worthwhile to ensure ourselves of happiness in all our future lifetimes too. Even better than that, and also the very best of all, is to achieve a state of happiness in which is to concern not only with just our own happiness, but also the welfare of all living beings. This ideal is to work towards making all creatures happy too, like our Guru always do! To many of us, may we in our present life,with our good human body and mind give us the capacity to generate vast quantities of merit to purify ourselves of any bad karmic impurities to be able to obtain a higher human rebirth in order to achieve our aims to serve and benefit all Beings. Om Mani Padme Hung.

  15. tong sun sun on Jun 25, 2016 at 12:07 am

    感恩仁波切 和Pastor Jean Ai 的分享。
    这篇文章里所提到的 孝恩和 对 还在世亲人的关怀令我想起了 11年和4年前我的父母离世时的情节。我的母亲在55岁那年突然得了肝癌在短短的两个月就往生了,她的离世给我打击很大。我的母亲劳碌了30多年刚好是家里可以安定下来,儿女都成年可以退休和我父亲结伴同游的时候,她就突然病发离开我们。
    我还未来得及请她旅行,请她吃一餐我煮的晚餐,未来得及看到我弟妹的成婚就这样离开了。我和她最亲密的时候就是她得病时,牵着她的手到各大医院求医。煞是讽刺。
    她离开的那一刻突然大量吐血,我当时还未学佛,对她的离世十分不舍拉着病床不给推走哭的抢天呼地。。。现在再想起当时的情形真的很懊恼。
    母亲离开后剩下父亲我们都格外珍惜,为了让父亲下班回家可以有饭开,我拿起了火头将军的责任。我母亲在世时我是十指不沾阳春水,就这样这样子把我训练成了‘煮饭婆’我们姐妹都让父亲觉得我母亲还在世一样让他觉得不缺任何东西,母亲不在了还有我们相伴,陪他旅行 ,衣食住行都有人打点,不会让他觉得寂寞和孤独。
    可是好景不长,母亲离开后的第7年父亲也患上了末期癌症,对我们又是一个晴天霹雳。这时候的我刚刚接触佛法,所以我一直劝我父亲念佛 和放生。但我父亲是位无惧神论者,因此不很相信我讲的,我们唯有帮他做了。因为有母亲的 前例,在照顾父亲上我们比较应手相对的心理比较踏实不比之前彷徨。
    父亲在临终前几天突然对佛法改变,问我如何念佛号,原来几天前他突然在床上窒息原来是业力显现(之前他很爱钓鱼)梦里他变成了鱼饵(一种小青蛙常被用着鱼饵)被丢入水里在他挣扎时他念了佛号才醒了过来,所以才改变的。
    直到他往生那晚(凌晨2点)因为这次知道往生者不可乱动,我们都只围在床边诵咒,10个小时后我才联络了殡仪服务到来,可欣的是他们告诉我父亲身体软如棉,面色微红,我终于明白佛菩萨真的存在。可惜当时还未真正认识克切拉,不然祈愿堂帮忙更好。
    我衷心希望他们投身去更好的地方,早日亲近佛法,听闻佛法。

  16. Chong Pee Bee on Jun 24, 2016 at 11:49 pm

    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Jean Ai for the sharing

    What I have learnt from this article are:

    1) Death is unavoidable and irreversible. and the moment of our death is uncertain. Games and fun will not help us. The only thing that can help take our pain away, is the Dharma. Therefore, we preparing our death and for those closet to us is the best give we can give to them.

    2) We should not cry when the person we loved passed away. as it is our our responsibility to make sure the person passed away knew we were okay so they could leave in peace and their mind would not hang around and worried about us

    3) We should work together and do what we know is the best for the deceased. What we do is our own affair, not others. We can recite prayer and the deceased favourite mantra.

    4) Do not leave the person whose companion passed away alone. They might pretend they are ok because they don’t want to burden others. We should take care of them because their heart will be broken down. We should repay our kindness, put aside our own needs and pursuits aside to accompany them and help them pull through this ordeal.

    5) For the elder parents/grandparent, give others the chance to serve you, let them have the honour and be able to collect merit to serve you and repay your kindness, give them If you don’t do this and you pass on, they will have guilt and regret. Don’t let them suffer like this

    We should prepare ourselves what to do before, during and after a death because death is uncertain. By preparing ourselves, we can help our family, people around us.

  17. JP on Jun 24, 2016 at 11:46 pm

    Dear Pastor Jean Ai,

    Thank you for sharing with us your personal experience of losing your beloved grandmother and Rinpoche’s advice for your family. Death is inevitable. If we don’t take the time to embrace the fact that one day we will depart from each other, we will suffer tremendously when that day comes. We will find it very difficult to say our last goodbye to the ones we love so much.

    I remember when my paternal grandmother passed away as well. It didn’t hit me until months later as well. I loved her a lot as she was the perfect grandmother in my mind. I still miss her whenever I think of her. She will always have a special place in my heart. It’s too bad I hadn’t learnt Buddhism back then. Otherwise, I would have done more pujas for her.

    All of us would experience death of a loved one sooner or later. It’s an experience that will put life in a clearer perspective. Life is extremely fragile and we’re not immortals in the human body.

    I’ve learnt while practising Buddhism that no matter what our differences may be, it’s not important. If we cherish a person or life in general, we should see pass our differences, accept the person whole heartedly and love them unconditionally. This is because we will never know when our goodbye will be the final one. So it’s pointless always fighting to be right and harbouring on the negative aspect of a person or any negativities in general.

    Rinpoche’s letter to your family is a teaching and practice that is very beneficial on many levels for all your family members. You are all very fortunate to be given the advice during such a difficult time.

    Much care,
    JP

  18. Yoke Chim Yap on Jun 24, 2016 at 10:49 pm

    看了Pastor Jean Ai 憶念她外婆的这篇文章及仁波切对家屬的开示,让我想到,雖然我们有幸听聞和正在学习佛法,但我们真正準備好了吗!当無常真的降臨在自已家人或自己身上时,能镇定应付自如及接受嗎?我自己就不太肯定,但知道有一些事是必须要做到的。
    就是当家裡有成员往生时,其他的人都应该放下各人成見及不满.尊從死者生前的遺愿和宗教.让死者可以安心和平静的离去。不留遗憾!
    若死者没有留下特别遗愿,而家里又是拜佛或民間信仰时,这时用佛教儀式是給亡者最后的好礼,不殺生,诵経文.做法会迥向他,让他一路好走.丧礼过后,要照顧还在世的另一人,如双方非常恩爱的话,更要留意。仁波切也提醒说一个人的心灵建設会影响他的健康,若不,最后在世的伴侣也会很快步上后麈隨他去。看来人的生与死都要慎重看待。

  19. sonny tan on Jun 24, 2016 at 9:08 am

    Thank you Pastor Jean Ai and Rinpoche on this subject on death and advice that we so badly needed especially when there is an unexpected and sudden death in the family. We all know that it is a taboo subject never to talk about and never to be discussed and people will shun you or show their disgust or walk away very quickly whenever such topic are raised.
    It is always very devastating for everyone no matter how strong they may professed to be when death comes knocking at our door. It would be more painful especially when it happens so suddenly. I remembered that I attended a friend’s passing just recently, she was at the prime of her life when children are all grown up and a time to retire, relax and enjoy the holidays with her hubby and then tragedy suddenly strike. It pains me to see her going through this ordeal going from one hospital to the next; operation after operation, tears flowed whenever we visited her. There are no right and proper words to described her agony, her fears, her uncertainties and the so many times seeing her like that I just wished that I have this power to remove all of the mental and physical pain that is within her. Many times I tried to assure her and pleaded with her never to give up because we have the same spiritual master and assured her that if the master is not giving up on her then she should not even think of giving up. All she ever wanted from us is each time we meet is to give her a hug we even crossed our little last pinky finger together and I make her promised me that we would attend the level three healing training together when she recovered from her ailment and I continually ask her to be strong.
    During my meditation I will use whatever I have learned, like lighting candles, prayers and I will visualize light from the Buddhas especially Medicine Buddha going into her body and cleanse all the dark energy and each time I do that tears would flow incessantly.
    This was a very poignant event in my life and it has left an indelible mark which I would hold dear in my heart
    I guess it was not meant to be with all the hopes we have, all the prayers, all the meditations, all the promises just vanished into thin air, God gives and God takes it away.
    I remember a Buddhist quote that says life is uncertain and death is certain, now that we have Rinpoche with us guiding and teaching us on death meditation I believe it would come a time after much practice that we will all be more open and see and accept death as part of our living and we should not let fear cloud our mental frame all the time on death.

  20. NgJesvin on Jun 23, 2016 at 11:12 pm

    Thank you Pastor Jean Ai for sharing Rinpoche’s advise. Yes, losing our love one is definitely very sad. I lost my beloved dog last year and although i did recite mantra for him in the 49 days but I didn’t accompany my mum who help me took care of the dog for 24/7 after I went to university. I feel so guilty and regret after reading Rinpoche’s advise. Anyway my parents are still alive, now no matter how busy I am, I definitely will go home twice a week and have dinner with them, talk to them and listen to them. I am now slowly bringing dharma to my mum, encourage her to recite om mani Padme hung everyday.
    Thank you Pastor Jean Ai, thank you Rinpoche.

    Humbly with hand folded,
    NgJesvin

    • Pastor Elena Khong Jean Ai on Jun 24, 2016 at 7:42 am

      Hi Jesvin, thank you for your comment! The best gift we can give to anybody including our parents is the Dharma. If we consider how many lifetimes we have already reincarnated, and how many lives we will reincarnate to in the future, actually our time with our loved ones and friends is short – this life is what, 80-90 years if we are lucky and nothing goes wrong?

      Since we are with them for such a short period of time, it will be very good for us to find skillful ways to connect them to Lord Buddha’s teachings. Rinpoche is the best example of this practice. Wherever we are, Rinpoche ALWAYS finds a way to impart Dharma to at least one person. When I was in the US with Rinpoche, for example, Rinpoche would give a Dorje Shugden pendant to almost every waiter who served us.

      I realised this is the most precious thing Rinpoche has – his Dharma knowledge and Dorje Shugden – and Rinpoche is so generous in giving it away. On top of that, we know Rinpoche’s biography and how much Rinpoche suffered for the Dharma, and how the Dharma helped Rinpoche. Rinpoche truly 100% believes the Dharma can help others too, and is so compassionate to always make sure other people also have a chance to benefit from Buddha’s teachings. This is very inspirational for me.

      I’m sorry to hear about your dog by the way 🙁 perhaps you might want to sponsor a Medicine Buddha puja and dedicate the merits to him. It is something you can do for him even though he is gone.

  21. Sofi on Jun 23, 2016 at 4:15 pm

    Thank you Pastor Jean Ai for sharing such personal moments of sadness with us as Rinpoche’s advice given still has the relevancy to everyone who faces such moment of loss. All of us will face losing someone dear to us and it is during these times that we do not waste our grief in self-indulgence of tears or sorrow, but instead to focus out to help and care of others. Rinpoche had cared and loved your family for such a long time and it was so fortunate for your grandmother to have him conduct prayers for her. Such tremendous blessings at the time of need.

    Thank you Rinpoche and may Rinpoche remain with us for a very long time to help guide us during our journey of learning.

  22. Stella Cheang on Jun 23, 2016 at 2:49 pm

    It is very emotional to have a family member passed away. Especially when it is the one whom we have fond memories with. I can tell what a loving person Pastor Jean Ai’s Ah Ma was from the writing. When my father past away in 2011, it was difficult for the family. I can still remember the feeling of lost that lingered within the family even two years on after his passing. Therefore I can imagine the feeling of loss suffered by Ah Kong. Ah Ma and Ah Kong had spent almost a lifetime together and now suddenly the better half is gone. Hence, the extra care and attention for the living is imperative.

    I wish I had known this at the time of my father’s passing so that the emotional support for my mother could had been much earlier. But I am still thankful for my mother is still alive and I can now do for her what I could not for my dad. And now I have learnt from Rinpoche’s teaching, the best gift I can give my mother is Dharma knowledge.

    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Jean Ai for this emotive article.

    Humbly, bowing down,
    Stella Cheang

  23. michele marie on Jun 23, 2016 at 1:28 pm

    Thank you so much Pastor Jean Ai for sharing with us your writing.
    What a joy to read you and how beneficial it is to be reminded about death and how to be useful and caring for the others at the time of passing and after. _/\_

  24. Fong on Jun 23, 2016 at 12:13 pm

    Thank you, Pastor Jean Ai for sharing this. In the 3+ years since my father’s passing, i tried not to cry. The only time I broke down was a day before the funeral and I had to go out the back so as not to be near the casket, as my mom who is a Buddhist of the Chinese Mahayana Pureland tradition had already given us instructions.

    I’m sad he’s gone. I’m glad too as, mentally he wasn’t with us anymore. It was quite hard sometimes to see him and yet not have him recognize us. He was 96. It is a fact of life on this earth. We all have to move on.

    As you say, “the only thing that will help us and our relatives and take their pain away, is the Dharma.”

    We all have to learn to accept the inevitable and to let go when the time comes. I used to think Rinpoche’s advise to us to do death meditation pretty gory. As the months rolled by, I began to understand.

    • Pastor Elena Khong Jean Ai on Jun 24, 2016 at 7:30 am

      Hi Fong, thank you for sharing with us your personal experience with the passing of a loved one. I have read people saying that death meditation is gory but when we think about it as you have, you come to understand why it is so beneficial for us.

      Accepting the inevitable is indeed beneficial. We live our lives in a state of denial so when we accept and realise what our real future is, it will actually be quite liberating! Liberating because it gives us time to prepare for that moment so we are in control when it comes, and liberating because we suffer much less when our loved ones pass away, and when we ourselves are in the process of passing away (if we are so lucky as to be conscious and in control at the time).

      I would say that the analogy of an ostrich is useful in explaining this. Being an ostrich with our head buried in the sand isn’t helpful to our spiritual practice. We can’t see the problem and we think it’s gone just because we can’t see it but for sure, the lion that is creeping up to devour us is still there! It makes much more sense to pull our head out of the sand, so we can see which way we are running 🙂

  25. gary foo on Jun 23, 2016 at 12:48 am

    Dear Pastor Jean Ai
    thank you for sharing that personal experience and how Rinpoches presence and advice had made such a painful and sad event into something more bearable and comforting.
    Its an eye opener how Rinpoche made such a sad event into a major Dharma class that benefited everyone and every being.
    We should not just cry and take effort to recite holy Mantras durnng such critical times.
    Relatives should for a short period at least not just think about themselves but someone else..in this case Ah Kong who was so close Ah Ma. To sacrifice ones discomfort on their part to supoport Ah Kong
    To be able see past one speech on what a person wants and realise what a person really need. In that Rinpoche pointed out Ah Kong may say he prefer to be alone etc..but Rinpoche knows at such time support and is Key. Thanks for sharing again and thank you Rinpoche for the precious teaching.

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  • Pastor Shin Tan
    Monday, Mar 27. 2017 06:42 PM
    According to the Buddhist teachings, we all have a unique blend of karma that determines where we are born, the circumstances of our birth and the quality of our life. Naturally, this is due to the actions that we performed in previous lives. Karma also dictates our characteristics and traits that determine how we act throughout our lives, which in turn leads to certain outcomes in this life and a determination of where we will take rebirth in the future.

    Karma, however, is not set in stone. We can change our circumstances through our own efforts – purification of karma and accumulation of merit. Tibetan astrology, based on these Buddhist principles, provides us the methods to ensure success in this life and a good rebirth in the future. Tibetan astrology can also predict what will happen to us in this life and our next rebirth based on the time of our birth.

    Discover your traits according to the Mewa, or Magical Square system of Tibetan astrology below, and find out how to purify your negative karma to improve your life!

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/tibetan-astrology/tibetan-astrology.html
  • Tsem Rinpoche
    Monday, Mar 27. 2017 05:24 PM
    Very interesting:


    Radin explained in his book: “For a Western-trained academic, the mere existence of, say, telepathy would be considered supernormal and thus wildly extraordinary. But for an experienced yogi, it’s just a boringly normal minor siddhi [a Sanskrit term for a meditation attainment, or power]. A skeptical scientist, not having the benefit of thousands of hours of practice in yoga and meditation, would require repeatable, rigorously obtained experimental data showing odds against chance of a gazillion to one. The yogi merely requires his own experience.”


    Very interesting read: http://www.theepochtimes.com/n3/2157904-supernormal-abilities-developed-through-meditation-dr-dean-radin-discusses/?sidebar=morein
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Mar 27. 2017 01:45 PM
    Its indeed a beautiful place …..away from the city hectic life to visit and could stay over night too.Just to get away from work to relax ,get some fresh air ,do meditation and so forth .At Kechara Forest RetreatI,Bentong is where the largest Dorje Shugden statue in the world situated and we can receive blessing,make offering to the Buddhas as well as enjoy the tranquility of the beautiful gardens.I have recomended my friends and relatives to visit such a beautiful place at Bentong.
    Thank you Paul Yap for sharing.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/kechara-13-depts/go-bentong.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Mar 27. 2017 01:15 PM
    Well…all pendants are beautifully designed,hand crafted to match each and every sacred images on it to suit all occasion for the wearer.I can see a lot of hard work for those involed in desgning and making of it.
    All pendants are very unique, modern, timeless and also sacred ,thats all i could describe it.Hope more people will be wearing these beautiful pendants to get connected with the Buddhas.Thank you Rinpoche for sharing and Kechara’s Louise Lee for creating Dharma art in in the form of jewelry
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/kechara-13-depts/timeless-and-sacred.html
  • Tsem Rinpoche
    Monday, Mar 27. 2017 12:41 PM
    This Mahasiddha is Kukkuripa (the dog lover). He loved dogs so much. When he meditated in the cave he had his doggie with him. She had kept him company for years in his cave. They shared bedding, food, water and company. When he gained high attainments, the Dakinis came to take him to Kechara Paradise. He was hesitant to go but the Dakinis insisted and he went with them.

    He arrived at Kechara (Paradise/Buddha abode of Heruka and Vajra Yogini) and enjoyed teachings and feasts up there and they asked him to stay longer if not forever…. But he kept thinking about his doggie left alone in the cave. He felt guilty and missed her. Kukkuripa would use his psychic powers to see his poor doggie alone and hungry waiting for him at the cave while enjoying the attention of the Dakinis and feasts. The cave was dark and had no food. The doggie had to go out and find small tiny scraps of food and was getting skinny. Kukkuripa saw this and it pained him. Worried she was not getting enough food. He use to share the offerings of food he would get from people with her. Doggie and him would delightfully eat the food together. Kukkuripa had no attachments to ‘clean’ or ‘dirty’ in regards to sharing food with his dog. He had overcome this in his meditations. In ancient India, people would not co-habitate with a dog. It was considered unclean and filthy, but Kukkuripa had cast away those notions and loved his dog as she loved him. But he felt guilty to leave her alone while he was ‘enjoying’ himself in Kechara and could not stop thinking about his beloved dirty smelly dog in his cave alone…so he left Kechara Paradise and all it’s ‘delights’ for his doggie. He couldn’t abandon her. The Dakinis implored him to stay, but he was firm to return. The Dakinis said you will give up this paradise here for a mere dog???!! You can advance further in your meditations if you stay in Kechara and then help the dog later they attempted to persuade him. But Kukkuripa would not stay, he was loyal to his little dog as she had kept him company for many years in the lonely dark cave. She was loyal to him and how can he abandon her now. He couldn’t and he wouldn’t listen to the Dakinis. He left to join doggie. He never forget her companionship and loyalty. All the wonderful things in Kechara could not tempt him against his loyal friend the little doggie. He left everything for her.

    So he finally left Kechara to the Dakinis dismay and went back to his cave to be with his dog so she won’t be alone. Doggie was delighted to see her master and wagged her tail so much!! She licked him and he hugged her! She was skinnier for not eating well these few days he noticed. He fed her and hugged her and loved his doggie…He went back to his routine of meditation, receiving food offerings and sharing his food with doggie. They were happy together. One day, when he was scratching her in her favorite place and she licked him so his eyes were closed, when he opened his eyes she had suddenly turned into a Dakini shimmering with lights! The brilliance of the lights lit up the whole cave in front of Kukkuripa!! Kukkuripa was astonished to behold the splendourous lady in front of him! Of course this Dakini must be the Queen Herself he realized, as Vajra Yogini which was Kukkuripa’s main Yidam he had meditated on her for years in the cave. And She said to Kukkuripa, “Well done, you gave up paradise to be with just a dog..it shows you have given up attachements and projections of pleasant and unpleasant, now your Dakini will give you the final paradise (enlightenment)!”

    Kukkuripa attained full enlightenment blessed by Vajra Yogini by releasing the final subtle attachment to the non-existent self! After enlightenment his fame and name grew and many came to see him and he gave teachings to countless and benefitted many before he finally ascended to Kechara the second and final time. He was forever known as Kukkuripa the dog lover.

    I love him so much!!! This is one of my favorite Mahasiddhas along with Badrapa, Shantideva, Ghantapa and a few others. I wanted to share this story with you. I wanted you to know that there are many great true stories like this one about Kukkuripa that are true and can be applied to our lives. To inspire us.

    Tsem Rinpoche
  • Tsem Rinpoche
    Monday, Mar 27. 2017 12:29 PM
    The great and illustrious master Sonam Tsemo at the end of his life was described by an old woman who witnessed Sonam Tsemo depart. Standing on a rock at the holy spring near Sakya area known as Chumik Dzingka, his body ascended gracefully into the sky, still holding his dog. He loved his dog very much. Even today the footprints of Loppon Sonam Tsemo and the dog can be clearly seen in the rock, left for the benefit of living beings as a field from which to accumulate merit. It is a sign of a holy being when they can leave their footprints in stone for future generations to witness and make offerings on that spot to collect merits. This holy site was decorated by the great master Mantradhara Ngawang Kunga Rinchen later on. Other accounts say that he ascended from Gorum Library near Chumik Dzingka spring. A stupa containing his holy relics was erected there. Sonam Tsemo was a powerful practitioner of the Lady Buddha Vajra Yogini and at the end of his short life he ascended with his very body to Kechara paradise. He was 40 years old. Kechara is the sanksrit name of the special abode of Vajra Yogini. Those who practice Vajra Yogini to the highest level can ascend her paradise with their very bodies. Sonam Tsemo the great master of sutra and tantra was seen by an old woman flying off holding his beloved dog to ascend Kechara paradise. No one every found his body and his room was empty.
  • Lin Mun
    Monday, Mar 27. 2017 12:27 PM
    Congratulations to Mitra for his first dharma teaching in Nepali to the expats. So glad that Dorje Shugden practise can reach out to many in various languages and to different people. Mitra has done a good job in introducing Lama Tsongkhapa lineage and guided them on the benefit and iconography of Dorje Shugden.

    May Lama Tsongkhapa lineage and Dorje Shugden practise continue to grow and benefit more people.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/mitra-teaches-bhagwan-dorje-shugden-in-nepali.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Sunday, Mar 26. 2017 04:15 PM
    Very clear explanation of what is Vajrayogini’s left foot stepping on. Each time when i have a look at the beautiful statue of Vajrayogini this question will comes back to me. i am glad came across these blog by chance, i saw and read to understand better.A clear explanation ..stampling left and right foot significant of desire ,hatred and ignorance that cause us to be in samsara and she she able to control.Vajrayogni’s practices is so powerful in heliping us and that is the reason Rinpoche always ask us to start now.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing these short explanation in the video and the interesting story of Mahadeva.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/facebook-question-what-is-vajra-yoginis-left-foot-stepping-on.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Sunday, Mar 26. 2017 02:44 PM
    Rejoice to all the families who had setup a Buddhist altar at home and conducted a house blessing puja. There are diverse benefits of conducting the house blessing puja, which ranges from bringing well-being on all levels – in one’s health, relationships, business, and family – to purifying the home. The puja ceremonies will purify the environment which helps the people who live there and people who are visiting there to experience general well-being. The puja can be personalised based on the request or need of the individual. Thank you for sharing with us the many photos of the beautiful altar of these families, it is very heartwarming to know that they will always be blessed by the Three Jewels.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/10-amazing-house-blessings-by-kechara-pastors.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Sunday, Mar 26. 2017 02:24 PM
    Thank you for sharing this mindfully planned itinerary for everyone who is interested in visiting Kechara Forest Retreat. Kechara Forest Retreat has different facets that showcase different elements of spirituality and Tibetan Buddhism in this wholesale venue. One can enjoy the flora and fauna of Mother Nature, or embrace the contemporary architectures that feature many magnificent Buddha statues and authentic Himalayan decorations. Not forgetting to mention, in Kechara Forest Retreat sits the largest Dorje Shugden statue in the world! This is a holy place we must never miss to pay homage for blessings from the Three Jewels.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/kechara-13-depts/go-bentong.html
  • Pastor Shin Tan
    Sunday, Mar 26. 2017 01:07 PM
    金泽“财王”护法殿

    在禅修林的入口处的左边有一间小佛堂,是全天候二十四小时开放给大众的。这间佛堂的一砖一瓦都是由不同善心人士捐增的。也因为他们过后发了一笔小财,所以在大马文东,金泽护法一般被简称为“财王“。

    根据佛陀教诲,五蕴是组成众生的五个方面,分别是色、受、想、行、识。证悟者如多杰雄登能将五蕴分别化现成不同的本尊。金泽是多杰雄登“受”蕴的化现,作用是协助我们增长世俗和修行上的财富。“受”蕴是我们对愉悦或不悦感受的认知。我们执着于愉悦,避免不悦,而这正是导致我们受困和造下各种业,继而产生痛苦的因(此段原文: http://blog.sina.com.cn/s/blog_6d7edf5f0102x1n6.html)

    来到这里,我们首先要上香。做生意的朋友可要趁此机会拜拜,供养一个大的莲花蜡烛,上三根大香,祈求今年一帆风顺哦。

    摘自“GO BENTONG!与菩萨有约”
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=120808
  • Lin Mun
    Saturday, Mar 25. 2017 11:02 PM
    Can’t imagine that a priest actually stabbed Pope John Paul. How can he do this when he as a priest is suppose to be compassion and love everyone but kill the religion leader. he should remember that he carries the name priest and hence must show good example and behaviour to others but instead took another person’s life.

    I respected Pope John who continued his trip even though he was injured. That shows the determination he had to teach so it can benefit others. Always put others first more than our own needs.

    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this article.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/pope-john-paul-stabbed-by-priest.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Saturday, Mar 25. 2017 08:13 PM
    It is admirable for Sine Lindholm & Mads Ulrik Husum to place their design as open source for everyone to download and copy to manufacture. This shows how farsighted they are in propelling self-sustainability. The first step is always the hardest, and I believe what Sine and Mads had done is towards the right direction. In this way, people from all the around the world who genuinely are passionate and interested in growing own vegetables will be able to start on their own. Without needing to rely on middleman or manufacturer who might end up making the brilliant idea a commercial white elephant. Thank you, Rinpoche for this sharing.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/build-your-own-growroom.html
  • Alice Tay
    Friday, Mar 24. 2017 10:05 PM
    Many companies especially in overseas are very considerate and allow their employees to bring their dogs to work. I personally think that this is a very good practice where the employees no longer have to worry about leaving pets at home alone. The work environments that cultivate loving kindness, caring and compassion create a much more positive and productive place to work. Besides, it may influence everyone especially those who do not have pet to be more kind to the animals.

    Nevertheless, the employer and employees may have to work together to maintain the safe and cleanliness work place such as reduce odour, provide clean air and many others.

    Thank you for this interesting article as a reminder to us to love and be kind to animals no matter where we are.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/inside-the-worlds-most-dog-friendly-office.html
  • Lin Mun
    Friday, Mar 24. 2017 07:06 PM
    Superb idea and very creative. Home farming in the cities ! Appreciate all the hardwork and ideas to produce Growroom. It’s just like putting a big puzzle and making the whole process so much easier to plant in cities where we always have limited spaces.

    We should support more people to come up with such ideas so we can eat our own food and cultivate self sustainability.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/build-your-own-growroom.html

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CREDITS

Concept: Tsem Rinpoche
Technical: Lew Kwan Leng, Justin Ripley, Yong Swee Keong
Design: Justin Ripley, Cynthia Lee
Content: Tsem Rinpoche, Justin Ripley, Pastor Shin Tan, Sarah Yap
Writer: Pastor Loh Seng Piow
Admin: Pastor Loh Seng Piow, Beng Kooi

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

What Am I Writing Now

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Animal Care Fund
  Bigfoot, Yeti, Sasquatch

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

Click on the images to view the bigger version. And scroll down and click on "View All Photos" to view more images.
This mahasiddha Kukkuripa is easy to identify as he is accompanied by a small dog whom he loved very much.
yesterday
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
yesterday
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
yesterday
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
yesterday
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 week 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 week 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 week 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 week 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 week 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 week 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 week ago
The Japanese are very innovative. Tsem Rinpoche
Read this as it will be interesting
1 week ago
Read this as it will be interesting
Recite this before any meal or drinks for blessings of abundance. Tsem Rinpoche
1 week 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 week 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
2 weeks 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
2 weeks 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
3 weeks 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
3 weeks 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
4 weeks 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!
4 weeks 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
2 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
2 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
2 months ago
This is a good one to read
Mumu is silly and cute and funny
2 months ago
Mumu is silly and cute and funny
Mumu\'s hair is messy and he looks funny
2 months ago
Mumu's hair is messy and he looks funny
I am in the process of creating beautiful Dorje Shugden and Kechara Forest Retreat watches at this time. So we can take precious protector and Kechara Forest Retreat wherever we go and be blessed everytime we see what time it is. 
I am perfecting the designs with a great team and will update when done but these are just some samples that arrived. 
Feast your eyes! 

Tsem Rinpoche
2 months ago
I am in the process of creating beautiful Dorje Shugden and Kechara Forest Retreat watches at this time. So we can take precious protector and Kechara Forest Retreat wherever we go and be blessed everytime we see what time it is. I am perfecting the designs with a great team and will update when done but these are just some samples that arrived. Feast your eyes! Tsem Rinpoche
                        Pick the practice, devotion and precepts of Vajra Yogini\'s path over everything and anything in samsara. Samsara has nothing of value and nothing lasting to offer. You are born in suffering, live in suffering, die in suffering and enter bardo and future lives expecting more sufferings. This is not a negative way of looking at things but the truth. If the truth is negative, so it is the truth. Devote oneself to the guru, dharma work, dharma practice and bringing dharma to others compassionately. Choose to practice Vajra Yogini now with the preliminaries. You can start right now: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/starting-on-vajra-yogini-now.html  Much care, Tsem Rinpoche
3 months ago
Pick the practice, devotion and precepts of Vajra Yogini's path over everything and anything in samsara. Samsara has nothing of value and nothing lasting to offer. You are born in suffering, live in suffering, die in suffering and enter bardo and future lives expecting more sufferings. This is not a negative way of looking at things but the truth. If the truth is negative, so it is the truth. Devote oneself to the guru, dharma work, dharma practice and bringing dharma to others compassionately. Choose to practice Vajra Yogini now with the preliminaries. You can start right now: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/starting-on-vajra-yogini-now.html Much care, Tsem Rinpoche
Message to Tibetans in English
3 months ago
Message to Tibetans in English
Message to the Tibetans
3 months ago
Message to the Tibetans
Left to right: Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche, Sharpa Choeje Jetsun Lobsang Nyima, Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche, 101st Gaden Tripa Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal. Great lamas of Gaden Shartse Monastery
3 months ago
Left to right: Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche, Sharpa Choeje Jetsun Lobsang Nyima, Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, Kyabje Lati Rinpoche, 101st Gaden Tripa Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal. Great lamas of Gaden Shartse Monastery
A beautiful Indian rendition of Gyenze Dorje Shugden manifesting in wealth form
3 months ago
A beautiful Indian rendition of Gyenze Dorje Shugden manifesting in wealth form
This is my thoughts and determination to share with you. Please open and read. Thank you for your time. Tsem Rinpoche
3 months ago
This is my thoughts and determination to share with you. Please open and read. Thank you for your time. Tsem Rinpoche
Nepalese King Birendra receives His Holiness Panchen Rinpoche in Nepal
3 months ago
Nepalese King Birendra receives His Holiness Panchen Rinpoche in Nepal
Guess what Zava Damdin Rinpoche did in Mongolia recently with 7,800 people??? Very interesting and it is a must read:  http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=116206
3 months ago
Guess what Zava Damdin Rinpoche did in Mongolia recently with 7,800 people??? Very interesting and it is a must read:  http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=116206
This huge Buddha in Korea is magnificent
4 months ago
This huge Buddha in Korea is magnificent
The very first oracle of Dorje Shugden in trance statue. I have commissioned this.
4 months ago
The very first oracle of Dorje Shugden in trance statue. I have commissioned this.
Such a old and ancient thangka painting of Dorje Shugden. He has been around in Tibet practiced for hundreds of years.
4 months ago
Such a old and ancient thangka painting of Dorje Shugden. He has been around in Tibet practiced for hundreds of years.
One of the "Four Exalted Brothers" Avalokiteshvara statues, Phagpa Wati of Kyirong, which is now with H.H. the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala.
4 months ago
One of the "Four Exalted Brothers" Avalokiteshvara statues, Phagpa Wati of Kyirong, which is now with H.H. the Dalai Lama in Dharamsala.
Kyabje Zemey, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche and Kyabje Pabongka Choktrul Rinpoche
4 months ago
Kyabje Zemey, Kyabje Zong Rinpoche and Kyabje Pabongka Choktrul Rinpoche
My Oser girl and Mumu boy are so adorable
4 months ago
My Oser girl and Mumu boy are so adorable
Wow this meditator in his cave in front of a painting of Yamantaka draped with a white khata of respect. He sits among bones to remind him of impermanence and our future. The bones inspire him strongly to let go of all attachments in this life and focus on dharma, meditation and liberation and he is doing so. Very beautiful and inspirational. Tsem Rinpoche
4 months ago
Wow this meditator in his cave in front of a painting of Yamantaka draped with a white khata of respect. He sits among bones to remind him of impermanence and our future. The bones inspire him strongly to let go of all attachments in this life and focus on dharma, meditation and liberation and he is doing so. Very beautiful and inspirational. Tsem Rinpoche
Tenzing Norgay found this in Nepal. Guess what it is?
5 months ago
Tenzing Norgay found this in Nepal. Guess what it is?
Sir Edmund Hillary
5 months ago
Sir Edmund Hillary
Halloween is my favorite holiday. Wild natural plants and flowers are my favorite offering. Buddha\'s teachings on meditation and Yidam practice bring the ultimate results and happiness. ~Tsem Rinpoche
5 months ago
Halloween is my favorite holiday. Wild natural plants and flowers are my favorite offering. Buddha's teachings on meditation and Yidam practice bring the ultimate results and happiness. ~Tsem Rinpoche
Previous lives do resemble current lives especially if they are a recognized incarnation. If notice how similar the previous and current Trijang Rinpoche looks. The eyes, bone structure, expression, long neck, thin and overall look. Beautiful. I\'ve seen this phenomena over and over in many Rinpoche incarnations. Especially when you compare them with pictures of previous and current lives at around the same ages. Something powerfully karmic about this. Tsem Rinpoche
6 months ago
Previous lives do resemble current lives especially if they are a recognized incarnation. If notice how similar the previous and current Trijang Rinpoche looks. The eyes, bone structure, expression, long neck, thin and overall look. Beautiful. I've seen this phenomena over and over in many Rinpoche incarnations. Especially when you compare them with pictures of previous and current lives at around the same ages. Something powerfully karmic about this. Tsem Rinpoche
It\'s nice to have monks visitors and resident monks in Kechara
6 months ago
It's nice to have monks visitors and resident monks in Kechara
                         Taken in Lake Champlain in Canada. A huge water monster...neat...
6 months ago
Taken in Lake Champlain in Canada. A huge water monster...neat...
Click on "View All Photos" above to view more images

Videos On The Go

Please click on the images to watch video
  • Please watch this video, it's heartbreaking to see how people have to suffer.
    1 week ago
    Please watch this video, it's heartbreaking to see how people have to suffer.
  • Lady saves puppy from potential abuser
    2 weeks ago
    Lady saves puppy from potential abuser
  • Mr. Denzel Washington is a very intelligent man. Tsem Rinpoche
    2 weeks ago
    Mr. Denzel Washington is a very intelligent man. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Dear friends, please see this educational video on suffering for the sake of others.
    2 weeks ago
    Dear friends, please see this educational video on suffering for the sake of others.
  • A very neat footage of Bigfoot captured by Patterson-Gimlin.
    3 weeks ago
    A very neat footage of Bigfoot captured by Patterson-Gimlin.
  • [11/02/2017] Mumu darling is a very good boy.
    1 month ago
    [11/02/2017] Mumu darling is a very good boy.
  • [11/02/2017] Mumu wants to go bye bye!
    1 month ago
    [11/02/2017] Mumu wants to go bye bye!
  • [11/02/2017] I love you mumu boy
    1 month ago
    [11/02/2017] I love you mumu boy
  • [11/02/2017] Mumu and Oser eating together.
    1 month ago
    [11/02/2017] Mumu and Oser eating together.
  • Great spiritual rock carving in Tibet
    2 months ago
    Great spiritual rock carving in Tibet
  • You will Never be Ready
    3 months ago
    You will Never be Ready
    Dear friends, watch this video and ready, if we keep waiting till we are ready, that day will never come. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Stop asking for Easy
    3 months ago
    Stop asking for Easy
    This video is powerful because it's the truth. It applies to anything. It applies to our dharma practice. Watch the video and share it. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Must Watch this Video!
    4 months ago
    Must Watch this Video!
  • Sacred Tibetan Incense - Nyimo County, Lhasa, Tibet
    5 months ago
    Sacred Tibetan Incense - Nyimo County, Lhasa, Tibet
  • Kyabje Denma Gonsa Rinpoche on Samaya
    5 months ago
    Kyabje Denma Gonsa Rinpoche on Samaya
    ཁྱེད་ཀྱི་བཀའ་སློབ་དོན་སྙིང་དེ།།གང་གི་རྣ་བར་བདུད་རྩི་མོད།།འོན་ཀྱང་འགའ་ཡི་རྣ་ལམ་དུ།། བྲག་ཆ་བཞིན་དུ་འགྱུར་སྲིད་མོད།། ཚང་མས་ཚར་རེ་གཟིགས་རོགས།། Kyabje Denma Gonsa Rinpoche telling people that it is important to have guru samaya. It use to be that way in the great monasteries. We should not create problems and schisms. If we want to practice a protector, then do so, if not it's okay, but don't make trouble. One should just practice the Buddha Dharma well. To do good practice. If you have faith in Dorje Shugden and trust all the way, he will definitely help you. But most important is to practice the dharma. This is his advice in short here. It's good to let more Tibetans hear this holy speech and appeal by this very senior Rinpoche. TR

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.

  • March 28, 2017 09:11
    Lia asked: If the ushnisha is actually supposed to be a bump, then do we change the visualization of the top knot and replace it with a bump covered in hair or do we keep the ushnisha as the thangkas show?
    No reply yet
  • March 27, 2017 04:19
    Dongho asked: I have been reading on the tunes of certain sects and would like to ask on this. From what I've read, there are certain tunes to each sect and school of certain chants. Exactly where can I find the sheet music for these percussion and horns with the chants, such as to the one for invoking Kache Marpo or Dorje Shugden? Would it be possible to use school instruments for this?
    pastor answered: Dear Dongho, Thank you for your question, it is good to see you back and asking more questions. Yes you are right, there are differences in the tunes and chants between the lineages. The differences can vary significantly between the traditions, for example the Gelugpa tradition of Tibetan Buddhism is known for its extremely deep throat singing which is very powerful and is characterised by a low, booming voice, in contrast to the other traditions. Even within a particular tradition, there can be slight variations as to the manner in which the chants and tunes are performed. For example those monasteries are which are affiliated with Gyume will have one way of throat singing, where those affiliated with Gyuto will have another. As far as I am aware there is no professional sheet music for the rituals, most probably because the music is actually an integral part of the ritual itself. Therefore the music, tunes, and chants are all taught at the same time the ritual and prayers are. The tunes, and use of the instruments all have specific meanings, because they are considered to be offerings to the deities in the form of sound. The monasteries would not have copies of sheet music either, because sheet music is western practice. The use of ritual music within Tibetan Buddhism is more of one based on memory. In the Kechara organisation, the puja team was trained in such ritual instruments at the same time they learnt the particular ritual from monks from the monastery, such as the puja of Dorje Shugden. From what I saw of the training, the musical tunes, and use of instruments was not written down but taught experientially at the same time as the chanting. I have not come across any other instruments being used in pujas apart from the traditional ritual instruments, because even the instruments themselves have a specific meaning. That is not say that school instruments cannot be used. This is because, as long as the offering is sincere, the Buddhas and enlightened deities will accept it, and in turn you will generate great amounts of merit. Offerings should be made to the best of our ability, therefore if you do not have access to the ritual instruments, or do not know how to play them, but you know how to play other instruments, and use these instruments as offerings to the Buddhas during pujas, the amount of merit you generate will be the same. This is because you are sincere with your offering. I hope this helps. Thank you.
  • March 26, 2017 02:14
    Kunga asked: Does the Gelug have Begtse a protector? If so, could you please provide a sadhana for him here?
    pastor answered: Dear Kunga, Yes the Dharma protector Begtse exists within the Gelug tradition. He is also known as Chamsing. Begtse’s practice stems from India and was introduced to Tibet and therefore Tibetan Buddhism by the translator Nyen Lotsawa. Marpa Lotsawa also practiced Begtse, and so the practice exists in the Kagyu traditions. This practice was eventually transmitted to Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, the first of the five patriarchs of the Sakya tradition, who were the founding fathers of that tradition. Over time the practice of Begtse was incorporated into the Gelug tradition, founded by Lama Tsongkhapa, and was notably practiced by the 1st and 2nd Dalai Lamas. Over time the practice gained popularity within the lineage, especially when it spread to Mongolia. There the practice became an important one within the lineage as upheld there. Begtse is also affectionately known as the Dharma protector of Mongolia, because his practice is so popular there. If I am not mistaken, there is an oracle of Begtse in Mongolia as well. There is a mistaken account that the practice originated around the time of the 3rd Dalai Lama, with the subjugation of a Mongolian war god, but Begtse was definitely practiced before that time in the Gelug, Kagyu and Sakya traditions. While the practice of Begtse is very effective, I have not come across the practice of Begtse in my personal practice, therefore I do not have access to the Begtse sadhana to provide to you. Instead Begtse is propitiated in prayers that incorporate many other Dharma protectors, and Begtse is also considered one of the nine protectors of the Hayagriva (Tamdrin) cycle of tantric teachings. Therefore Begtse is included in the Dharma protector sections of the Hayagriva tantras. Surrounding Begtse are his sister, Sing Ma, and his main minister, Le Khan Mar Po. His inner retinue comprises of eight butchers who wield copper swords in their right hands and skull-cups full of blood in their left hands. They are portrayed as naked and are very ugly. His outer retinue comprises a further twenty-one butchers, who hold copper swords in their right hands, and this time, the entrails of butchered enemies. They wear the skins humans and oxen as clothes, with ornaments made from human bone. While this may seem violent, Begtse is actually a very powerful and beneficial protector, who helps practitioners clear their obstacles and create conducive conditions for their spiritual evolution. I hope this helps. Thank you.
  • March 24, 2017 20:12
    Azair asked: Venerable Rinpoche, I am doing a study in Kalachakra Tantra and I've heard from most of the lama's too that if you practice the Kalachakra Tantra, you'll be able to take control of your next rebirth. Ofcourse, it has been said that we will get our rebirth according to our Karma and desires but whether those dreams will get fulfilled will depend upon the actions that we take in this life. Thus, practicing the Kalachakra(till the end) after initiation will give you the opportunity to take rebirth anywhere you desire regardless of your Karma. My question is that, is there some truth in this statement.? Does this statement hold true for other tantra practices, such as Vajrayogini Tantra, Ghuyasamaja Tantra, Heruka Tantra, etc. I would really really like to know. Thankyou in anticipation, regards, Azair
    pastor answered: Dear Azair, Thank you for your question. Yes there is truth to this statement, both from a scriptural perspective and also by example, as the great masters have shown us. This is a unique feature of all Anuttarayoga Tantras or Highest Yoga Tantras, which Kalachakra, Vajrayogini, Guhyasama and Heruka are all examples of. This category of tantric practice can actually lead a practitioner to full enlightenment in this very lifetime. Even if enlightenment is not reached, very high levels of attainment can be reached nonetheless. This includes the ability to take control over your next rebirth. This is primarily engaged in so that the practitioner is born in an environment where they can eventually pick up their practice and further their spiritual path to enlightenment, or in order to be born in a place where they can benefit sentient beings the most, as part of the spiritual journey over many lifetimes. One of the reasons such an ability is very necessary on the spiritual path, is that usual death and rebirth occurs at the mercy of ones karma, specifically what is known as the ‘throwing karma’ or the karma that dictates what sort of rebirth a person is going to take. This opens up at the time of ordinary death, which most people have no control over. During the death process, many of our disturbing emotions will arise. Whichever of these is the strongest at the point of death triggers open a latent karmic potential, which becomes the ‘throwing karma’ and dictates where we are going to take rebirth and if that life will generally be full of suffering or not. Within Anuttarayoga Tantra, one of the key points of practice is to prepare for one’s death. This is done by simulating the dying process during one’s meditations, so that one becomes familiar with it. At the most pivotal part of this process, one practices achieving either the rainbow body or great bliss (in the case of the father tantras); or clear light (in the case of mother tantras). The tantras themselves are not defined in terms of the gender of the central deity, but by the method used to gain enlightenment. This is either the rainbow body/great bliss (classified as male, therefore labelled ‘father’) or clear light (classified as female, therefore labelled ‘mother’). Non-dual tantras such as the Kalachakra tantra can employ either of the two methods, a mixture of both, or alternate methods. In the case of superior practitioners, due to the power of their practice, they can achieve either of these two methods in their current body. Since they have familiarised themselves with the dying process, and a particular method of practice, they can also achieve enlightenment during their physical death. The great Lama Tsongkhapa is said to have achieved enlightenment at the moment of physical death, using the second of these. For other practitioners, they may not be able to achieve this either in their meditations while they are alive, or during the death process. However because they have familiarised themselves with the dying process, they remain in complete concentration at the time of death, not allowing any disturbing emotions to arise. Due to this level of concentration, meditation and awareness during the dying process, they are able to control where they next take rebirth. This is evident in the tantric scriptures themselves, and the life stories of many masters, who can state exactly where, when and to whom they will take their next rebirth, as they are in full control of the dying and rebirth process. There is a type of meditation called ‘thukdam’ which has been translated into ‘death meditation’. This is a final meditation some masters choose to engage in. During this meditation, the master themselves consciously begin the physical dying process themselves, engage in the meditation of dissolving the winds into the heart centre and remain in the most pivotal part of the death process, the mind of clear light of death. During this point they engage in meditations, either the methods of the father or mother tantras as mentioned previously, and or consciously choose where they are to next take rebirth. They can remain in this death meditation for long periods of time, days at an end, in which their consciousness has not yet left their body, although for all intents and purposes they are dead according to medical science, e.g. they have no heartbeat. At the end of their meditation, a drop of blood will be emitted from their nostril, and their head will slump over a little. Masters who engage in this meditation usually sit in full meditation posture, and their body remain supple and soft even though they have passed away from a medical point of view. I hope this brief explanation helps. Thank you.
  • March 23, 2017 23:01
    Brad asked: What is the significance of offering the Seven precious emblems of royalty to the Buddhas and enlightened Dharma Protectors? What are we symbolically offering up?
    pastor answered: Dear Brad, Thank you for your question. The ‘saptaratna’ or seven precious emblems represent on the one hand the ultimate state of temporal power, and on the other hand the ultimate spiritual attainments that we can achieve. By offering these to the Buddhas, we are actually creating the causes to achieve what they represent. Therefore it is good to know the meaning of each, so we can understand what we are creating the causes for by offering them up: Please see below for an explanation of the seven royal emblems: 1. The Precious Wheel: a thousand spoked wheel, representing the universal power of the Buddhas, as well as the teachings of the thousand Buddhas of our aeon. It is represented by the Dharmachakra, symbolising the ‘turning of the wheel’ or teaching of the Noble Eightfold Path. It is a symbol of a universal emperor’s spiritual and temporal power. It is also represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect mindfulness, especially that of our own mind, thoughts, delusions and afflictions. 2. The Precious Jewel: an eight sided wish-granting gem, which fulfils all the needs of a universal emperor. This jewel has eight special qualities: it illuminates the night sky for hundreds of leagues; it is cooling when the temperature is hot and warming when the temperature is cold; it makes manifest whatever the holder wants; when thirsty it causes a fresh-water spring to appear; it has the ability to control the nagas, and other supernatural beings, as well as preventing natural disasters such as storms, floods, etc.; it gives off multi-coloured lighted which heals the various mental and emotional afflictions; it cures all illnesses; and it ensures that one dies a natural death, not an untimely one. It is a symbol of a universal emperor’s spiritual and temporal power. It is also represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect mindfulness, or perfect discrimination, so one knows what to abandon and what to keep in the mindstream during the spiritual journey to enlightenment. 3. The Precious Queen: the most beautiful and virtuous of all women. She is described as a goddess who is the epitome of someone: with devotion; without jealousy; who is the embodiment of fertility; who works for the welfare of all beings; who possess feminine wisdom; speaks the truth; not attract to sensual pleasures or material possessions; and does not have false views. She is adored by all. She also represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect effort. This is necessary to keep meditating until one gains spiritual attainments. 4. The Precious Minister: who has sharp intelligence, patience, and the ability to give wise counsel to the emperor. He is so attuned to the emperor that even before the emperor has spoken, the minister is already carrying out his command. He only wishes to support the Dharma, help sentient beings, and is an excellent strategist. He also represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect joy. This is also akin to the attainment of the first bodhisattva level, because you have come to an understanding of your own mind, which is like pouring ice-cold water into boiling water. The water stops boiling, as does the thoughts, projections, and delusions in the mind. He represents the path of the bodhisattva. 5. The Precious Elephant: who has the strength of a thousand normal elephants. He is white, with the perfect features that an elephant could have. He is majestic, graceful, and gentle, but in battle is fearsome, fearless and unyielding. He communicates with the emperor through a telepathic link. He represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect adaptability. This is important, as one needs to be able to adapt to the various mental afflictions as they arise, and suitably counter them. 6. The Precious Horse: who has all the marks of a celestial horse. Known as wind-horse, he is able to travel extremely fast, and can circumambulate the entire universe three time in just a single day. He is never fearful or startled, never makes a sound when galloping, and has extremely soft hairs on his body. He represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is single-pointed concentration. This is important because without this form of concentration, once cannot engage in the analytical meditations that lead to an understanding of emptiness, and therefore enlightenment. 7. The Precious General: who has mastered the arts of war and always wins in battle. He wears battle armour and holds many different weapons. He tries to avoid battle, but when necessary fights, and never gives up until he has won. He is fearless, and courageous in carrying out the emperors commands and ensures the emperors army carries out their duties. He represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect equanimity. This is because he overcomes all warfare, which is akin to the battle between things were are attached to and things we have an aversion for in our minds. In short, what you are offering up is the highest of all temporal treasures and abilities, as well as the entire path of the Dharma. Doing so creates the causes for you to receive all of this on your spiritual journey towards enlightenment. I hope this helps. Thank you.
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