Why is Buddha Amitabha So Prevalent in China?

By | Dec 14, 2015 | Views: 1,286
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A large ancient statue of Amitabha Buddha in Kamakura, Japan

By Pastor David Lai

www.davidlai.me

A month ago, I was with Rinpoche and a bunch of other people in a car. In a conversation about China, Rinpoche suddenly asked us, “Why is Buddha Amitabha so prevalent in China?” Silence ensued for a few moments as everyone struggled to recall what they knew on this unexpected subject matter. Finally, someone said, “In China, there are many schools of Buddhism and the school of Buddhism that grew very big actually prayed to Buddha Amitabha…”

“But that didn’t answer my question,” Rinpoche interjected.

Then, a whole slew of perspectives on the matter was raised but all of them were off the mark or near misses that didn’t even come close to answering the question. So, Rinpoche asked us to research and said that it would be interesting to know the reasons for Buddha Amitabha’s popularity in the Middle Kingdom.

This whole discussion piqued my interest in the subject as I recalled how common it was to see car stickers bearing the mantra ‘Namo Amitabha’ along with a yellow Dharma wheel. It is quite easy to see how popular the worship of Buddha Amitabha is but nobody knew why.

 

The Origins of Pure Land Buddhism

Lokaksema

I did a bit of research on the matter and I found that the worship of Buddha Amitabha arose from a school of Buddhism called ‘Pure Land Buddhism’. Although this tradition is very much associated with China, the earlier teachings arose in India and quickly became very popular in Kashmir and Central Asia.

The Pure Land teachings were brought to China in 147 CE by a Kushan monk by the name of Lokaksema, who translated the very first Buddhist Sutras into Chinese. The principle Pure Land sutras consist of the Shorter Sukhavativyuha Sutra, the Longer Sukhavativyuha Sutra, and the Amitayurdhyana Sutra. When it arrived in China, it slowly became massively popular before spreading to Japan, where it also eventually became very popular.

The spread of Buddhism in Asia

 

Buddha Amitabha

This illustration of Buddha Amitabha is in an ancient print of the Diamond Sutra. This manuscript is in the world’s oldest dated wood-block printed book (circa 868 CE)

In order to understand how Pure Land Buddhism became so entrenched in China and Japan, we have to understand its teachings. The Pure Land tradition revolves around the worship of Buddha Amitabha. The practice involves recitation of the name mantra of Buddha Amitabha as a means to develop mindfulness and to generate the merit to take rebirth in his Pure Land of Sukhavati, which is also known as the Western Paradise.  

The Pure Land is a distant place that is emanated from the mind of Buddha Amitabha. It is a place in which a practitioner can take rebirth through devotion and Amitabha Buddha’s practice and thereby continue in their spiritual practice in order to become a fully enlightened being.

It is said that the necessities are easy to come by in a Pure Land and so one is able to practice uninterruptedly until one gains full Enlightenment. One would have the pleasure of being taught directly by Buddha Amitabha in this Pure Land. Therefore, just taking rebirth in Sukhavati is seen as synonymous to achieving full Enlightenment. 

An exquisite sculpture of the Buddha Amitabha from Tang Dynasty China. (circa 7th Century CE)

The basis for Sukhavati is explained in the Sukhavativyuha Sutras which relates the story of an ancient king by the name of Dharmakara who lived during the time of Lokeshvararaja, a Buddha of a distant age. Dharmakara was one of the previous lives of Amitabha Buddha before he became fully enlightened.  One day, the Bodhisattva Dharmakara heard a teaching of Lokeshvararaja and he was so inspired that he immediately renounced his kingdom and became ordained as a monk.

Dharmakara aspired to create a place referred to as the ‘Land of Bliss’ where people could go after their death and from there, gain spiritual awakening. Therefore, Dharmakara took on 48 vows and these vows encapsulate his aspirations. When he eventually become enlightened, he was able to actualise his vows.

The 18th vow called the Vow of the Ten Recitations is at the heart of Pure Land Buddhism. In this vow, Dharmakara promises that he will be known as Amitabha Buddha in his enlightened state and if he is called upon by anyone 10 times in this state, that person will be reborn in his Pure Land.

 

The Popularity of the Pure Land Teachings

A resplendent mural of Sukhavati Pure Land with Buddha Amitabha in the center of one of the Mogao Caves of Dunhuang, Gansu province of China. (circa 7th-8th Century CE)

In ancient times, the general populace of China and Japan struggled to survive. They were constantly plagued by war, disease, calamities, poverty and so forth.

In addition, education was scarce and it was basically a luxury afforded only by the upper class and the wealthy. Most people at that time were illiterate and unexposed. Therefore, complicated foreign Buddhist philosophies and practices were beyond the scope and comprehension of most of the population.

So, when the Pure Land belief system and practice arrived in China, Buddhism was simplified by the Indian and Chinese monks and taught to the ordinary man. The thought of taking rebirth in the Pure Land of Sukhavati offered hope, salvation and Enlightenment for the ordinary man on the street. All that was required was the non-harming of others by adopting a vegetarian diet, the recitation of Buddha Amitabha’s mantra and the leading of a virtuous life. This paved the way for Buddhism to seep into the everyday life of the ordinary man in ancient China and Japan.

Pure Land teachings simplified complicated philosophies, rituals and meditational techniques of Buddhism so that there was hope even for the illiterate. Prior to this, Buddhism was very much associated with the intellectuals and scholars who discussed, debated and expounded on the subtleties of Buddhist philosophy. However, the arrival of Pure Land Buddhism heralded a whole new era where Buddhism became massively popular among the general population. This is when Buddhism really took root in China and Japan.

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About Pastor David Lai

David is a lay Buddhist pastor of Kechara and a longtime student of H.E. Tsem Rinpoche. Initially a reluctant writer, he now finds himself writing for a living and has published four books including his autobiography, There's No Way But Up and Conversations in Love.

David is a lover of Buddhist art and whenever he can, he shares his knowledge of the Dharma with everyone, giving frequent teachings and writing on his blog www.davidlai.me.
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31 Responses to Why is Buddha Amitabha So Prevalent in China?

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  1. Pastor Han Nee on Dec 24, 2016 at 8:46 pm

    Complex philosophies of Buddhism were alien to the masses in China, who were poor, uneducated and illiterate. Thus when simplified Buddhism in the form of the Pure Land practice of Amitabha was brought by monks to China, the masses immediately took to it. The thought of taking rebirth in Sukhavati, the Pureland of Amitabha, offered hope to the masses – the hope of salvation and Enlightenment. All that was required was the non-harming of others by adopting a vegetarian diet, the recitation of Buddha Amitabha’s mantra and the leading of a virtuous life. Thus the arrival of Pure Land Buddhism brought to China, a new era of Buddhism, where it became a widespread practice, as it was embraced by the masses. Buddhism thus took root in China and also in Japan.

    The repeated chanting of the mantra allows for a deep meditation practice , where one replaces the impure thoughts of the mind with pure thoughts, achieve single-minded focus and ultimately gain entry into the Pure Land of Sukhavati or the Western Paradise at death.

    Nevertheless, I agree that the continuous purification of negativities , the accumulation of merits,and the transformation of the mind are essential practices of Buddhism.

    Thank you Pastor David for this blogpost, which explains why the practice of Amitabha Buddha is so popular in China.

  2. Fong on Aug 17, 2016 at 7:48 pm

    The chart of the flow of Buddhism into China and Japan is interesting. From what I encountered within the Japanese community in Hawaii, Jodoshinsu which is a off-shoot of Pureland Buddhism, is very pre-dominant there. Jodoshinsu was brought over to Hawaii by the Japanese when they migrated to the Hawaiian island looking for a brighter future about 200 years ago.

    So, as with the Chinese, the promise of a better way and place to practice till enlightenment is the key draw. The other key draw is that any lay person can practice and have hopes of achieving enlightenment; no need of complicated rituals or philosophies to get results.

    Thank you, Pastor David for the background of how Pureland Buddhism evolved and migrated from India into China. It has given me a better perspective on Pureland Buddhism.

  3. Datuk May on Jul 31, 2016 at 3:40 pm

    Due to the aspiration of an ancient king, Dharmakara, a previous life of Buddha Amitabha before full enlightenment, the doctrine of Buddha Amitabha was established in the form of Pure Land to benefit his citizenry.

    The Pure Land doctrine was specifically “designed” for the poor and illiterate common Chinese to gain merits to practise with simplicity so that they may achieve a better rebirth.

    Amazing story of compassion which made Buddhism prevalent in China and Japan up to this day. Understanding why and how it happened is truly inspirational for us to continue to have the Dharma grow to benefit others.

    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor David for this lesson.

  4. Wan Wai Meng on May 21, 2016 at 2:27 am

    I learnt about Amithabha and had much faith in the mantra, and the Buddha. I learnt Om Mani Padme Hum first, but Amithabha’s imagery and mantra brought more comfort to me somehow. Perhaps I was also Chinese in my past life.

  5. Cynthia Lee on Jan 7, 2016 at 2:22 am

    Thanks PDL for the research and simplifying for our reading. Often, a practice, buddha or mantra gained much fame but yet we have zero knowledge about it. In Kechara, we know much about Dharmapala Setrap, the wrathful emation of Amitabha but so little of Amitabha.

    With this new knowledge, it’s no wonder Amitabha Buddha’s practice really shed hope to the mass because his practice is part of the daily life. To do good and observe vegetarianism should be as natural as it gets.

  6. Lester Lim on Dec 30, 2015 at 9:57 am

    Hi all,

    https://www.facebook.com/AMiTuoFuDeHaiZi/videos/904909889541088/

    Above is a link to a video on rebirth in Sukhavati according to the scriptures. The last grades of rebirth particularly moved me. There are real anecdotes documented for sinful people (even mice and chickens) who because of the ripening of their affinity with the Pureland gained rebirth there. My face covered with tears as I think about it. For the highest rebirth, we can be a proficient Tantrika in this life, but dedicate all our practices to Sukhavati, then gain rebirth there and become like our Yidam. Do enjoy! 🙂

  7. Jacinta Goh on Dec 27, 2015 at 12:36 am

    Thank you Pastor David Lai for the above post. As far as I know, you are indeed right to say that this practice is simple where it simplified complicated philosophies. It suits people who are simple minded and especially those peasants I think. It does offer hope, salvation and Enlightenment through continuous chanting of the sacred mantra of Buddha Amitabha. Also thanks for the extra info on the previous life of Buddha Amitabha, Dharmakara.

  8. italyciampatogme on Dec 22, 2015 at 7:59 pm

    Great tnx.

  9. Pastor Shin on Dec 21, 2015 at 1:20 am

    It is said that beginning of Pure Land Buddhism was in year 402, when Ven. Huiyuan, with 123 of his disciples, took a vow before an image of the Buddha Amitabha that they all would earnestly strive for rebirth in the Western Paradise (Amitabha’s Pure Land Sukhavati) and help one another to reach it.

    It is commonly know that the school promotes the idea that the simplest way to practice is by focusing the mind with “mindfulness of the Buddha” through recitation of the name of Amitabha Buddha. As one keeps chanting and the mind focuses on the sound of “Amituofo,” errant thoughts are replaced with pure thoughts, to reach single-pointed concentration, and ultimately to gain entry to Western Paradise at the time of death.

    In the versions of the sutra widely known in China, Vietnam, Korea and Japan, Dharmakāra’s eighteenth vow was that any being in any universe desiring to be born into Amitābha’s Pure Land and calling upon his name even as few as ten times will be guaranteed rebirth there.

    The second patriarch of the Pure Land school, Shandao, is said to recite Amitabha’s mantra day and night without interruption, each time emitting light from his mouth. Therefore he was bestowed with the title “Great Master of Light” (大师光明) by the Tang Dynasty emperor Gao Zong (高宗).

    The simplified philosophies, rituals and meditational techniques of Pure Land teachings may have led the illiterate or general public to think of the practice as a Buddhist version of salvation by grace merely through recitation, hence the popularity of this method/ school.

  10. Soon Huat on Dec 19, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    Thank You Pastor David Lai for the profound sharing. I was from Pure Land sec before joining Kechara. I engaged in Pure Land Sec center in US during my school time here. The reason of joining Kechara is I failed to find any Pure Land Sec Center suits my need. Thank You to Pastor Patsy for opening KP in Penang which open another door for my Dharma practice.
    I am sure my ultimate goal is to go to pure land but which pure land should I go; Kechara or Western Pure Land? I struggled for a long time till finally I made up my mind to just follow my Guru’s instruction. All I need to do is to do/learn my Dharma practice/teaching according to my Guru teaching/instruction. It will not be wrong, leave/surrender the rest to Guru.

  11. Karen 君慧 on Dec 18, 2015 at 12:05 am

    When I first encountered Buddhism it was through Namo Amitabha chanting and His image that can be seen everywhere. Buddha Amitabha practice is basically widespread almost in every Chinese society. However, I did not know much about Buddha Amitabha other than his mantra and image, let alone the whole concept of Buddhism..For me, it was more like the tradition in the family that has been passed down for decades. So the young generation just follow what the adults do.

    Master Hui Yuan (慧远法师) was one of the most influential practitioners of Buddha Amitabha in China who established the Pure Land School or White Lotus Society. Here’s a link of Master Hui Yuan and the transformation of Buddhism in China : http://wenshuchan-online.weebly.com/hui-yuan-and-the-transformation-of-buddhism-in-china.html

  12. Chris Chong on Dec 17, 2015 at 2:38 am

    This post is very interesting and informative. It shows that Buddhism is very flexible in many ways to suit the people of that time and place. It can manifest in any way for the people to accept it so that Dharma can grow in that area and time.

    Buddha Amitabha’s practice is so simple that even the people in those difficult time with no education or peaceful life can practice. It gives them hope in their life and also offer a chance for them to escape from their difficult situation. When Vajrayana Buddhism is being introduced into the same place, it did not go far in that community because the condition for the community to accept and practise it is not there.

    This is a perfect example to how Dharma can penetrate into any community regardless of culture and background.

    Chris

  13. Sarah on Dec 15, 2015 at 9:00 pm

    It is true that the worship of Buddha Amitabha was popular among the ordinary Chinese people, especially the poorer and illiterate families. This practice came to Malaysia with the Chinese immigrants. I remember when I was small, I was taught the Amitabha mantra by my mother for protection. When we walked on lonely and dark roads, we would chant the mantra to feel safe. When I asked my father what religion we practised, he said, “the Chinese religion”.

    • Pastor David Lai on Dec 16, 2015 at 4:19 pm

      Dear Sarah,
      I love how your dad answered your question by saying, “the Chinese religion”. I don’t think most Chinese comprehend the separation between folk beliefs and Buddhism. This is not to mention Taoist, Confucian elements as well. However, due to the success of Pureland belief system, Buddhism has somehow found a place in most Chinese amalgamated belief system. The idea of karma and reincarnation runs very strong in this.

  14. Stella Cheang on Dec 15, 2015 at 4:21 pm

    The extension of Mahayana Buddhism in Asia is a history topic that traced back to 147 C.E. Given the social circumstances at that point in time, majority of the citizen struggled to stay safe and made ends meet. Religion, and especially a profound one like Buddhism was considered as unreachable because it was associated with intellectual while majority of the citizen were illiterate. So when Buddha Amitabha’s Pure Land teaching arrived at ancient China, it offered a chance of salvation to the people on the street by cultivating their positive human nature. Which was something the people can understand and practice. Pure Land teaching stem from the noble aspiration of Dharmakara; who took vows to let anyone who called upon Him (in his enlightened state)10 times, be reborn in his Pure Land. Being reborn in Pure Land means the person would receive teaching directly from Buddha Amitabha himself, and because of the ample of resources available; they are able to practice dharma uninterruptedly.

    Thank you Rinpoche for asking this question and Pastor David for doing the research to benefit us.
    The diagram on the extension of Mahayana Buddhism in Asia is simple and easy to follow. It helps lay practitioners like me to be able to explain clearer to friends and families who ask questions.

    Humbly, bowing down,
    Stella Cheang

  15. sweekeong on Dec 15, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    Thank you for the article. I very much agreed with what was written in this article. Majority of Chinese people during the dynasty eras are illiterate because education costs money. Only the elites and nobles get to study and become educated. For the common folks they struggled to survive. There is little hope for them to understand complicated concepts even more so the complex Buddhist studies and philosophies.

    For me personally when I was much younger my parents taught me to chant Amitabha Buddha name mantra for protection. When one is outside late at night and alone chant his name. Whatever that was pass on when the Chinese immigrant left China were mostly likely have been lost and forgotten. I don’t even hear about Pure Land until I did some reading on Buddha Amitabha.

    Most Chinese families who came from a Taoist background have strong natural belief in deities and the protection the deities accorded with. I belief that is how they easily accepted Amitabha Buddha name mantra into Taoist belief, the name mantra giving hope of good future rebirth.

  16. Lester Lim on Dec 15, 2015 at 9:57 am

    Dear Pastor David,

    Other few points I think why Pureland School is the most popular form of Buddhism in northeast Asia:

    1. Historically and politically, Pureland School does not need any lineage and institutionalised protection. It is thus able to survive wars and other major and frequent catastrophes. Unlike Vajrayana, which entered China long before the Tibetan s are Buddhists, the simplicity and hope generated by Pureland School can be practised and preached by any individual.

    2. Pureland School has been actively promoted even by high realised masters from many advanced Buddhist sects, like Tiantai and Weishi (Cittamatrin). This lends tremendous doctrinal support for the supposedly easy practise.

    3. Pureland is easy to practise. The famous Master Yin Guang with a stern demeanour, himself an emanation of Vajrapani, said that rebirth in Pureland is based purely on faith and willingness to be born there, the grade of rebirth is however dictated by the power of recitation of Amitabha Buddha. This somehow corresponds with Lama Tsongkhapa’s “Prayer for Rebirth in Sukhavati”, which describes how a sinful and deluded being, through cries for Amitabha’s salvation, becomes a Bodhisattva waiting to be a Buddha.

    4. The results of Pureland practise is guaranteed and universal. There are no shortage of anecdotes of beings from the lower realms like mice and chicken, even non-Buddhists and even sinful men and women, gaining rebirth through sincere recitation on the deathbed. You may search YouTube for those videos. Practitioners passed away from this life through auspicious acts that can only be observed from enlightened masters of the other Buddhist schools. For example, the appearance of relics after cremation, knowing one’s date of samsara departure, dying while sitting and standing bidding farewell to all loved ones without suffering etc.

    Pureland practise is a one that is preached spontaneously by Shakyamuni Buddha and Lama Tsongkhapa. It is praised by all Buddhas. This rarely occurred. With palms clasped, I will sing praises of Amitabha and His 18th Vow in all my lifetimes!

    • Pastor David Lai on Dec 16, 2015 at 4:27 pm

      Dear Lester,
      I don’t know if you will see this but I have never read of ordinary practitioners of pureland become attained merely by recitation. Are there any examples. I would very much like to know and rejoice. Once, an ordinary practitioner achieve the signs that you mention, they must have gained some attainments. Hence, I would very much like to read about it. I am guessing it would be in Chinese, so could you kindly just give a brief overview of the story in English here. Thank you. That would be very nice.

      • Lester Lim on Dec 16, 2015 at 10:59 pm

        Dear Pastor Lai, thank you for your interest in Pureland school. Sukhavati is the Pureland most mentioned in scriptures. It is the easiest to go. Amitabha Buddha has great affinity with us too. Every major masters that founded and spread the different schools of Buddhism are somehow related to him, including Guru Padmasambhava. Even Lama Tsongkhapa manifested in Amitabha style flanked by his disciples who are emanation of Chenrezig and Vajrapani.

        The question you have asked is a big one.

        1. If by attainments you meant enlightenment, it is possible. There is no lack of examples of yogis and laypeople in Tibet who gained enlightenment or realisation purely from reciting mantras like Om Mani Padme Hung. So it is possible to gain enlightenment through chanting Amitabha name. And yes, most resources are in Chinese. For recent famous realised beings you may want to Google on Reverend Daozheng 道证法师. However, like all Buddhist practices, the degree of attainments is dependent on merits and wisdom. Enlightened Pureland practitioners are usually those who have gained insights into the teachings, and have developed a certain degree of wisdom. But according to Vajrapani, in the Surangama Sutra (大势至菩萨念佛圆通章) enlightenment through Nian Fo, another name for Amitabha recitation or mindfulness of the Buddha, is possible if one is earnest. This is nonetheless a huge topic that will take another independent discussion.

        • Lester Lim on Dec 16, 2015 at 11:02 pm

          2. Back to what I think your real interest is. Are those who have displayed auspicious signs upon death necessarily enlightened beings? The answer is no. This is the inconceivable part. It is purely through our faith and the power of Amitabha that rebirth is gained. One need not be egoistic if good signs show. Because this is through the Buddha’s grace that we attain everlasting life (to borrow the Christian saying and interestingly, Amitayus, the other name Fo Amitabha Buddha, means everlasting life). The miraculous accounts of rebirths are duly documented in volumes known as Records of Pureland Sages 净土圣贤录. Around me too, there are many anecdotes of miracles of ordinary people who gained rebirth in Pureland. I have a friend who volunteered to lead recitation sessions for convicts sentenced to death in Changi Prison. He too has many tales to tell. They are all true moving stories. With the recitation, strong regret can be generated. But depending on the propensities of the practitioner, some only gained good rebirth in samsara (and according to Amitabha vows, even good samsara rebirth through reciting his name means becoming someone who can practise Dharma rather effortlessly!). So to most Pureland practitioners, attainment means achieving rebirth in Sukhavati. And like what your article said, this is synonymous with becoming a realised being because once we are there, our appearance, merits and powers are like any advanced Bodhisattva. We are like the prodigal son returning to the house of his royal parent. Now, what will it be like to be a Bodhisattva in Sukhavati? The answer is in the King of Prayers.

          • Lester Lim on Dec 16, 2015 at 11:04 pm

            I am an ignorant and immoral Buddhist who cannot even perfect the basic precepts. What I have said above are mostly words of the more wise and knowledgeable. There are many things to elaborate upon. Just like it is not possible to explain Vajrayana Buddhism in one post, neither is it plausible for defining Pureland Buddhism in such a short article. You can Google and ask other Pureland practitioners on the subject as well. Wish you the best in your spiritual search!

  17. freon on Dec 15, 2015 at 7:59 am

    Dear Pastor David,

    This article let me think about the Tzu Ji organisation. In Tzu Ji Buddhist organisation, mostly they did many charity works. All these work related to poor people, people who are unfortunate, and it become very popular amongst rich and medium people. This is because by serving others, helping the poor, in touch deep down to people that they are kind, and they feel good by helping people.

    Shakyamuni- when Shakyamuni Buddha teach Dharma, Buddha did not taught in the sanskrits language that is use by noble people at the time. He taught in Pali language where most common people used.

    Thus, Buddhism is actually very practical. It suit everyone’s culture, mind and lifestyle. In other religion, maybe there is a ultimate book to guide. But Buddhism seem there is no guideline, but in which lineage you follow. Either Theravadan, Mahayana or Vajrayana. Thus, we should not condemn on which lineage is better than which. Because different people needs different’s path to head to enlightenment

    Thank you for this article

    Regards
    Freon

    • Pastor David Lai on Dec 16, 2015 at 4:38 pm

      Dear Freon,
      Tzu Ji and Rev Cheng Yen’s lineage is Humanism Buddhism (as far as I recall). Their doctrine focuses very much on outer expressions of compassion, which is very good. However, just doing good alone and the good karma accrued does not save one from rebirth in any of the 6 realms because doing lots of charity does not purify negative imprints and karma. However, it is likely that one who does a lot of charity would be born in a good place still. It also does not transform the mind that much. However, it is much better than not doing anything at all.

  18. Frederick Law on Dec 15, 2015 at 1:12 am

    amo Amitabha or 南無阿弥陀佛 is synonymous to Buddhist in the Asia Region, especially in China, and Japan. It is also very well known amongst Buddhist in Malaysia as well, especially everyone striving to gained enlightenment and ascend to the Pure Land of Sukhavati, or Western Paradise.

    But not many of us knows the reason why the propitiation of Buddha Amitabha so well known in China, this post by Pastor David explained it well for us.

  19. JP on Dec 14, 2015 at 11:08 pm

    Thank you Pastor David for the clear explanation on Buddha Amitabha. I have friends who follow Amitabha practices and can’t explain why the practice is so prevalent in China. I also wondered why the practice was so simple. They only had to chant the mantra daily in front of an image of Amitabha and they will ascend to Pure Land when they pass away. I thought that perhaps my friends didn’t receive the proper set of practice.

    Regardless of my thoughts, a friend of mine who is a strong practitioner of Amitabha transformed a lot. She is more grounded, focused, at peace and more kind. Even her family supports her in her practice when they see her transformation.

    Every sentient being has a chance of Enlightenment. Even those who are born with the karma of being illiterate have effective practices to help them get closer to being Enlightened.

  20. Paul Yap on Dec 14, 2015 at 10:38 pm

    Buddha Amitabh with his two disciples Avalokitesvara and Samanthabhadra are generally very popular in China, and among the Chinese. Having a strong connection with these deities, almost everyone is able to recite “Namo Amitabha” since young. Buddhism has always changed its outlook to suit the people’s need at a particular time, however the essence is maintain no change. In ancient China, there were wars outbreak everywhere, people were living in poverty. Sickness and death are common. The practice of pure land is perfect for that time. Simple, easy, the people often has placed their last hopes on Buddha Amitabha. Living in an era where you are not certain of continuing for the next day, people are generally hope for a better rebirth and to ceased the current sufferings. By looking upon Buddha Amitabha’s peaceful and graceful’s face, people placed hope for a better future lives.

    • Pastor David Lai on Dec 16, 2015 at 4:57 pm

      Dear Paul,
      In the Chinese tradition, Buddha Amitabha is usually depicted with Kuan Yin and Mahastamaprapta, and not Samantabhadra. In the Tibetan tradition, it is Chenrezig and Vajrapani. However, Vajrapani and Mahastamamprapta is considered the same bodhisattva as they are emanation of the same being.

  21. Joy on Dec 14, 2015 at 9:48 pm

    Thank you Pastor David… this is indeed interesting to know that Buddha Amitabha practice grew to such popularity because of the fact that it offered hope to the lay – “man of the street” to be able to take rebirth in the Pure Land of Sukhavati “heaven”. I did never knew this… and now I learnt something new 🙂

    How compassionate are the Buddhas are like Dharmakara who promised to be known as Amitabha Buddha in his enlightened state and if he is called upon by anyone 10 times in this state, that person will be reborn in his Pure Land. This kind of vow really gives so much hope to those who are not educated, the poor, and the majority who are commoners.

    I believe Lokaksema must be also be Bodhisattva who translated the very first Buddhist Sutras into Chinese otherwise Buddhism would not take root in China and from there spread all over the world.

    I like the illustration map of how Buddhism spread from China to other parts of Asia and evolved in to different schools of practice. I also realise that China seem to always be the pioneer of something big. It certainly would be super awesome if Dorje Shugden lineage could take root in certain countries like CHina and from there spread throughout the world! It happened with Buddha Amitabha’s practice, why not for Dorje Shugden and besides Buddha Amitable sits right at the top floor of Dorje Shugden’s mandala… I guess He really is so many people’s Guru, even Tara’s.

  22. Wylfred Ng on Dec 14, 2015 at 11:39 am

    Dear Rinpoche

    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor David for the teaching.Now i know why Buddha Amitabha is so famous among Chinese communities.

    Yes, Buddha Amitabha is so famous among Chinese communities, i can say that most of the chinese also know how to chant the name of Buddha Amitabha: Namo A Mi Tuo Fo.

    Last time before i was introduced to Tibetan Buddhism, I chanted the name of Buddha Amitabha too.

    Thank you for the teaching that now i know the origin of Pura Land Buddhism and how it spreaded to China and Japan

    Thank you
    Wylfred Ng

  23. Calvin Thum on Dec 14, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Thanks for your sharing. Hope is a driving force.

  24. Timmi Wally on Dec 14, 2015 at 5:49 am

    Great story, thanks for sharing

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Blog Chat

BLOG CHAT

Dear blog friends,

I’ve created this section for all of you to share your opinions, thoughts and feelings about whatever interests you.

Everyone has a different perspective, so this section is for you.

Tsem Rinpoche


SCHEDULED CHAT SESSIONS / 中文聊天室时间表

THURSDAY
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5 - 6AM (PST)
星期五
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(除了每个月的第一个星期五)
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11AM - 12PM (GMT +8)
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9:30 - 10PM (GMT +8)
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UPCOMING TOPICS FOR MARCH / 三月份讨论主题

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KECHARA FOREST RETREAT PROGRESS UPDATES

Here is the latest news and pictorial updates, as it happens, of our upcoming forest retreat project.

The Kechara Forest Retreat is a unique holistic retreat centre focused on the total wellness of body, mind and spirit. This is a place where families and individuals will find peace, nourishment and inspiration in a natural forest environment. At Kechara Forest Retreat, we are committed to give back to society through instilling the next generation with universal positive values such as kindness and compassion.

For more information, please read here (english), here (chinese), or the official site: retreat.kechara.com.

Noticeboard

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  • Alice Tay
    Thursday, Mar 30. 2017 10:01 PM
    This is really great news for having SFS campaign to help the stray dogs. Other than to urge and educate the public to treat the stray dogs with compassionately, SFS campaign encourages for all quarters to work together to spay or neuter stray animals which is an effective method to control the amount of stray dogs. Indirectly, this may reduce the suffering of stray dogs from being abused or die because of starvation.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/stray-free-selangor.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Mar 30. 2017 10:00 PM
    Good news finally Selangor becaome the first state free from stray dogs. With the support of the royalties and the Selangor Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) organised the campaign to make
    the state free of stray dogs and create the awareness of compassionate love towards stray animals.They are working work towards a radical change,thats a worderful news.
    Well ,do hope more states will follow Selangor to replace the inhumane way of dealing with stray animals too.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this wonderful news.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/stray-free-selangor.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Thursday, Mar 30. 2017 05:29 PM
    These iconographically correct Buddha images set in precious gemstones are one of its kind and unique in every sense of the word. And the designs are versatile to suit any apparels and occasions, redefining the Buddhist sense of fashion in a big way. Thank you, Rinpoche and Louise for this sharing. I hope the pendants will bring protections to the wearer and connections to the Buddha to those who admire it by sight.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/kechara-13-depts/timeless-and-sacred.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Mar 30. 2017 03:29 PM
    Very inspiring true story of a monk…Master Xuyun after going through many hardships and illness to pursue what he wanted to be. What he did was amazing travelling in harsh conditions to so many places just to preach chinese buddhism from one country to another. Master Xuyun has spent his entired life devoted to the Dharma,During the war many monasteries and holy sites was destroyed but somehow Master Xuyun managed to restore once again.Because of him ,those monasteries and holy sites were till today. He was a household name at that time and have inspired many modern spiritual seeker to strive along the path towards enlightenment.
    Thank you Pastor Adeline Woon for such an interesting and inspiring article.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/great-lamas-masters/empty-cloud.html#tabs-7
  • Lin Mun
    Thursday, Mar 30. 2017 11:47 AM
    It is ironic that Dalai Lama would have given a remarks to discourage country such as Germany to accept refugees and that refugees should return to homeland and to build the country. I think this is really a callous statement to be mentioned. Dalai Lama being the Tibetan Buddhist leader should portray compassion and extending help to those in need. All these refugees are running away for their life because their own country is not safe to stay anymore. Just like what Tibetan has encountered in the late 1950s.

    This kind of contrary statement is also very obvious in the Dorje Shugden ban. Dorje Shugden have been practised by many high lamas since 400 years ago and also by Dalai Lama’s Guru but it is ban by Tibetan leadership.

    Dalai Lama is a high lama and is believed to be the emanation of Chenrezig. Although his statements were contrary sometimes but I believe he would have the reason that we may not understand yet. Hopefully all the issues would be resolve in peace.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/dalai-lama-says-too-many-refugees-in-europe.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Thursday, Mar 30. 2017 12:34 AM
    Wonderful good news to learn about this first of its kind progressive campaign to help the stray animals in Malaysia by the Sultan and Permaisuri of Selangor. While stray animals can be a nuisance to the public at large but bear in mind, the strays do not have a choice, and we have a role to play. Neutering strays is a humane and compassionate ways of resolving the program of stray animals in the long run because it largely reduces the numbers of strays on the streets. Neutering and proving proper shelters to strays can prevent thousands of animals from being born, only to suffer and struggle to survive on the streets, be abused by cruel or neglectful people, or be euthanized inhumanely. I have read somewhere that says spaying and neutering makes a big difference: Just one unaltered female dog and her offspring can produce 67,000 puppies in only six years. In seven years, one female cat and her offspring can produce an incredible 370,000 kittens!

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/stray-free-selangor.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Thursday, Mar 30. 2017 12:15 AM
    Humans and animals, as well as other sentient beings within the six realms of samsara, are subjected to the law of cyclic of existence. Karma or generally known as the law of cause and effect will determine where we take our next rebirth. It is extremely rare for sentient beings to take the form of a human body and in perfect condition. Hence we must not let this precious lifetime go to waste by indulging in silly actions and harmful ways. If we are born in the animals realms or lower, there is close to zero way for us to collect merits and get out of that realm.

    From the stories above, I find the story about Dalawong most unusual because he seemed to be able to determine the destination of his next rebirth after he was being killed as a snake. After he had taken rebirth in human form, he continued to remember the incident in his past life. Amazing!

    Thank you, Rinpoche, for sharing these researches with us.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/science-mysteries/do-animals-reincarnate-back-as-humans.html
  • Tsem Rinpoche
    Wednesday, Mar 29. 2017 09:42 PM
    If we are kind, we lose less of ourselves-Tsem Rinpoche
  • Lin Mun
    Wednesday, Mar 29. 2017 03:50 PM
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this article about tsa tsa. Didn’t know there are many steps and holy materials used in making a tsa tsa. In addition, the maker of tsa tsa would need to do prayer in the morning depending of what tsa tsa they are making on the day, for example, the maker will do Dorje Shugden practise before making Dorje Shugden tsa tsa.

    Only by knowing the process, we will appreciate the items more. Tsa tsa is a precious item.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/kechara-13-depts/tsa-tsas-are-nice.html
  • Pastor Shin Tan
    Wednesday, Mar 29. 2017 09:28 AM
    Dalawong: A Child Recalls a Past Life as a Cobra in Thailand

    This case was actually researched by the late Francis Story, a British citizen who was fascinated with Buddhism and spent many years in Asia. He was also very interested in the topic of reincarnation and assisted Dr. Stevenson in investigating a number of very important reincarnation cases in Burma and Sri Lanka. Francis interviewed the subject of this case, a Thai boy named Dalowong, along with his father, mother and sister. He also had access to a pamphlet that was previously published regarding the case, which was also summarized in an article in the Bangkok Times.

    Dalawong actually claimed two past animal incarnations. He recalled a past lifetime as a deer, which he said was killed by a hunter. Subsequently, he stated he was reincarnated as a snake, more specifically, as a cobra.

    As the snake, Dalawong remembered that he was in a cave when two dogs entered and attacked him. A ferocious struggle ensued between the cobra and the dogs. The owner of the dogs then entered the cave and killed the snake. Apparently, the snake was able to bite the human invader on the shoulder, prior to succumbing to death.

    The human took the cobra’s body back home, where the snake was cooked for a meal. This man shared the snake meat with an acquaintance, who would become Dalawong’s father in the near future. The man who killed the cobra had the name Mr. Hiew.

    Read more here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/science-mysteries/do-animals-reincarnate-back-as-humans.html
  • Alice Tay
    Tuesday, Mar 28. 2017 08:40 PM
    谢谢Paul Yap 为我们介绍马来西亚彭亨州文东必定参观的地方之一~克切拉禅修林。就如照片显示,克切拉禅修林的确是一个环境清幽、山明水秀以及令人有宁静舒适的感觉。

    如果有机会到马来西亚游玩,千万不要错过由Paul Yap介绍克切拉禅修林里的几个优美与神圣的地方,包括:
    1. 金泽”财王”
    2. 金刚瑜伽母佛塔
    3. 绿度母石雕像
    4. 药师佛山
    5. 梦幻文殊菩萨
    6. 詹仁波切的货柜屋
    7. 文殊山
    8. 智慧堂(释迦摩尼佛像和多杰雄登像)

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/kechara-13-depts/go-bentong.html
  • Alice Tay
    Tuesday, Mar 28. 2017 08:09 PM
    The sculpture of Kuan Yin in Macau is simple but elegant. Most importantly, this big Kuan Yin in Macau is built to bring peace, harmony and prosperity to the people.

    I remember Rinpoche mentioned before a big Buddha statue will have positive impact on the environment and plant the Buddha’s seeds in all sentient beings that not only humans but also including animals and many others. Therefore, the bigger Buddha statue the more beneficial to all sentient beings where they can see and be blessed by this big Buddha statue from far.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/art-architecture/kuan-yin-of-macau-city.html
  • Lin Mun
    Tuesday, Mar 28. 2017 03:29 PM
    Krishnan’s effort and hard work in contributing to the society is very inspiring. He is willing to let go of his high paying job to Switzerland and staying back in India to operate a soup kitchen for homeless. On top of that he is willing to accept the hardship of financial restraint every month in maintaining his service for the people living in the street. I hope his good work will bring more awareness and sponsors for him especially when CNN showed the video of his work and awarded him with top 10 CNN heroes.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/chef-turned-hero.html
  • 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

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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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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.
If we are kind, we lose less of ourselves-Tsem Rinpoche
yesterday
If we are kind, we lose less of ourselves-Tsem Rinpoche
My Mumu boy didn\'t want to eat. Eating is not one of his favorite activities throughout his life. So I talked to him to let him know why he needs to eat and keep his strength up when this photo was taken. He was listening intently and after my talk with him, he ate. Tsem Rinpoche
yesterday
My Mumu boy didn't want to eat. Eating is not one of his favorite activities throughout his life. So I talked to him to let him know why he needs to eat and keep his strength up when this photo was taken. He was listening intently and after my talk with him, he ate. Tsem Rinpoche
This is so true. Click to enlarge and understand more about unpleasant people.
yesterday
This is so true. Click to enlarge and understand more about unpleasant people.
This mahasiddha Kukkuripa is easy to identify as he is accompanied by a small dog whom he loved very much.
4 days ago
This mahasiddha Kukkuripa is easy to identify as he is accompanied by a small dog whom he loved very much.
Mumu taking a rest in the turquoise room. Over the years, I always feel very satisfied when I see him covered with a blanket, safe and sleeping. I always wanted to make sure he was safe from harm, illness and distress. I wanted him to have a happy and loved life. Tsem Rinpoche
4 days ago
Mumu taking a rest in the turquoise room. Over the years, I always feel very satisfied when I see him covered with a blanket, safe and sleeping. I always wanted to make sure he was safe from harm, illness and distress. I wanted him to have a happy and loved life. Tsem Rinpoche
I wrapped my little Mumu boy up in my blanket and propped him up on my bed. He didn\'t move or wiggle and just looked at me. He is one funny entertaining little guy. Tsem Rinpoche
4 days ago
I wrapped my little Mumu boy up in my blanket and propped him up on my bed. He didn't move or wiggle and just looked at me. He is one funny entertaining little guy. Tsem Rinpoche
March 2017-Coaxing my little Mumu boy to eat his meal. He was not well and therefore not hungry. Tsem Rinpoche
4 days ago
March 2017-Coaxing my little Mumu boy to eat his meal. He was not well and therefore not hungry. Tsem Rinpoche
Click on picture to enlarge and see what Milarepa says. Profound.
2 weeks 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
2 weeks 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.
2 weeks 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
2 weeks 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!
2 weeks 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!
2 weeks 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
2 weeks ago
The Japanese are very innovative. Tsem Rinpoche
Read this as it will be interesting
2 weeks ago
Read this as it will be interesting
Recite this before any meal or drinks for blessings of abundance. Tsem Rinpoche
2 weeks 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
2 weeks 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
1 month 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!
1 month 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
3 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
4 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
4 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?
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Tenzing Norgay found this in Nepal. Guess what it is?
Sir Edmund Hillary
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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
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ASK A PASTOR


Ask the Pastors

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

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

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

  • 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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Dorje Shugden
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