What Would Buddha Say About Selfies?

By | Oct 24, 2015 | Views: 897
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By Pastor David Lai

www.davidlai.me

Selfie [noun]

A photograph that one takes of oneself with a digital camera or a front-facing smartphone, tablet, or webcam, especially for posting on a social-networking or photo-sharing website.

In a generation of smartphones installed with Facebook and Instagram apps, taking selfies in all its variations are part of the latest social media craze. With most modern smartphones being fitted with front facing cameras, selfies are made even easier because it is so easy to take flattering and casual pictures. You either love or hate selfies but that does not deny their popularity. The funny thing is, I have been taking selfies even way before I heard of the word, no thanks to Facebook and the webcam on my laptop.

In 2012, Time Magazine included the word “selfie” as one of the “Top 10 Buzzwords” of that year, thus reflecting the current social trend. According to a survey in 2013, two-thirds of Australian women between the ages of 18 to 35 take selfies and naturally, the most common purpose of doing this is to post them on social media platforms. A poll commissioned by Samsung found that selfies make up 30 percent of photos taken by people within the age group of 18 to 24. By November 2013, the Oxford English Dictionary declared the word “selfie” as the “Word of the Year” and traces its origins to Australia.

 

What I think of Selfies…

First of all, I think selfies are fun. On second thought, I also think they made an action that is overtly narcissistic into something fun and guiltless by giving it a cute name – selfie. The vain part of me loves this and the cute little word makes it all the more inviting and fun to do so. The thing about selfies (if you read the definition at the beginning of this article) is that you have to share that little picture of yourself with people on social media to get some sort of response.

People take selfies essentially to have it uploaded onto their social networks in order to get a response from their followers. It has never been this easy and far-reaching, considering how many users there are on social platforms. It’s addictive to watch that little thumbs-up number go up. I know it’s silly but most of us selfie-lovers do that. We wait for the numbers to go up and hope someone will say something in the little box below because that would mean that my picture was interesting enough or good enough for you to make a comment. If I got over a hundred likes, I would be smiling from ear to ear and if I had more than five comments, especially from people that matter to me, I would be walking on clouds. I know. It isn’t much.

However, when I observed a few selfie-lover friends (or should I say, selfie addicts) repeatedly post pictures of themselves on Facebook, my initial reaction was, “Wow! You look great.” I clicked “LIKE” and thought I should take a selfie too. Then, I saw another selfie and I clicked “LIKE” again. Somewhere between the 20th to 30th selfie (all in a slightly different pose), I was almost screaming, “Not again!” On the 40th to 50th selfie, I would just scroll down real quick to avoid them. Finally on the 100th selfie, I found myself thinking, “Is it bad karma to unfriend someone on Facebook?” No… I didn’t do that but it got me thinking, “Why would people take so many selfies of themselves?”

So, what’s wrong with taking a few selfies for a few cheap thrills? On its own, I think that taking selfies is not a bad thing actually. It is the underlying behavioral pattern that is bad. This is when selfie-taking develops into an addiction. This is when people take selfies to the next level of narcissism and self-deception. This is when people project a make-believe world that they are always smiling, always happy, always at a party, always in a designer outfit, always on holiday in an exotic location, etc. to their audience when the reality is quite different.

More often than not, this make-believe world is an escape from a reality that they refuse to face. Self-deception is dangerous when it becomes chronic because it would mean that one will eventually resort to lying, cheating or cover-ups in order to maintain that pretence. Consequently, the more selfies one takes, the more one just feeds into this self-deception and its underlying insecurities. At this point, I am already reconsidering taking most of my selfies although I let one or two slide just for comedic relief. I know all this may sound dramatic to you but let’s check out what the experts say about this social activity.

 

What Some Experts Say…

In 2013, a social study done on Facebook users entitled “Tagger’s delight? Disclosure and liking in Facebook” found that frequently posting photos of oneself have a correlation with lower levels of intimacy and social support from Facebook friends in general. This is because Facebook audiences would find it difficult to relate to those who constantly share photos of themselves.

A typical Facebook audience consists of a broad range of people – partners, friends, family, colleagues and acquaintances, and each group would take a different view of the information shared. Many would find excessive selfie-taking to be distasteful and even offensive. In fact, the author of this study even suggests that “those who frequently post photographs on Facebook risk damaging real-life relationships.” This is logical considering how social media is dominating inter-personal relationships with the advent of smartphones and the easy access to the Internet. 

Danny Bowman suffers from body dysmorphic disorder

In April 2014, a young English man by the name of Danny Bowman recalls spending ten hours a day taking up to 200 selfies and still feeling that they were not good enough. All this culminated to the point when he attempted to commit suicide after failing to take the perfect selfie. He was diagnosed with body dysmorphic disorder, a form of obsessive-compulsive disorder. This incident led to several research articles connecting excessive selfie-taking with body dysmorphic disorder. The connection does not indicate suicidal tendencies but the fact that excessive selfie-taking may likely indicate the underlying problem of body dysmorphic disorder.

Or view the video on the server at:
http://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/danny-bowman.flv

Body dysmorphic disorder is a psychological disorder that relates to an obsessive preoccupation with the flaws of one’s appearance. Those who suffer from this disorder would usually go to extreme measures to conceal or correct their perceived flaws. This condition is fairly common and affects somewhere between 1.7 to 2.4 percent of the population. In addition, this condition usually starts during adolescence, and affects men and women equally. Sufferers usually hide what they feel and therefore, excessive selfie-taking could be one of the indicators of this disorder.

On the other hand, recent studies conducted this year (2015) on social media users suggest correlations between selfie-taking behavioral patterns with psychological conditions like narcissism and psychopathy. More specifically, selfie-posting behavior was linked to both narcissism and psychopathy while users who religiously edited their photos would possess a narcissistic tendency but not psychopathic behavior.

According to experts, narcissism disorder is a condition where sufferers believe that the world revolves around them due to deep-seated underlying insecurity, while psychopathy is where the sufferer lacks empathy for others and are governed by impulsive behavior. The connection between the number of selfies posted online and narcissism seems to be stronger among men than in women. As smartphones and social networks become increasingly popular, everyone is becoming more concerned with their appearance. That means these conditions may eventually become a common problem.

 

What would Buddha have said?

Now that we’ve heard from the experts, what about the Buddha? I would not pretend to know the Buddha so well that I could tell you what he would have said. But I think we can get an inkling of his thoughts on the matter of selfies by going through some of his teachings on the self. Experts have long said that the selfie is an expression of the self, and there is no one more qualified on the subject of the self than Lord Buddha. In fact, the Buddha gave voluminous teachings on this subject and it forms the core of his higher teachings.

The most basic aspect of the Buddha’s teachings is the development of renunciation. This does not mean that we abandon our responsibilities, family, friends, home, job, and so forth and run off to meditate in a cave instead. Renunciation is a special wisdom that sees the flaws of our attachment to short-term gratification and worldly pleasures and turns us to invest our time towards learning, helping others and other spiritual pursuits.

Selfies are generally an exercise in self-gratification because much of the thrill of posting a selfie is in amassing the likes and compliments that one gets in the comments below. When we think deeper, all that self-gratification leads us to nothing but serves only to increase our attachment for it. Selfies may seem harmless but doing it excessively is an indication that we have particularly strong attachments. Strong attachments are synonymous with a strong self-cherishing mind as well and that is the basis for suffering. In Buddhism, cherishing ourselves leads to suffering while cherishing others leads towards happiness.

In the highest teachings of the Buddha, our self-cherishing mind doesn’t inherently exist in the way we think it does. Our self-identity is attached to many aspects but the strongest are on the body and name. How we conventionally identify ourselves is based on these aspects that are in reality false in the ultimate sense. Selfies essentially celebrate that attachment to these aspects that don’t actually exist and thereby further solidifying this false notion of self that we hold so dearly to.

Therefore, it is safe to conclude that the Buddha would not have approved of selfies. However, the Buddha being the one endowed with great wisdom and skillful means would not have denounced selfies completely but would probably have advocated the middle way of approaching selfies. That is, to allow selfies in moderation for the mass majority of his students and to discourage it amongst his closest students who are more dedicated towards reaching the selfless state of enlightenment.

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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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6 Responses to What Would Buddha Say About Selfies?

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  1. Wan Wai Meng on Apr 10, 2016 at 3:17 pm

    I suppose one if one is very attached to one’s body and seeing that body in a beautiful is a cause for concern. I recall once Rinpoche said that people who have a lot of attachment have a lot of fears, the fear can then create more anger.

    So I agree with the pastor David, normal people can take selfies for fun of course, they should never be obsessed with taking selfies. For the ones firmly on the path of renunciation i don’t think it is forbidden, as the renunciate has left their worldly life in the pursuit of a quick way to enlightenment.

  2. Jason on Dec 4, 2015 at 11:55 pm

    Thx Pastor David. For me i dont like selfie but i hv to do it because always travel alone to overseas.i posted selfie in fb because i use fb as my photo album.Frankly said, i did feel happy n cheers once i saw many LIKE my photo.i will change my mind after i read the above article. i must renunciation because all these so called LIKE wont help me in my life.it might make me more attachment and make myself suffer.

  3. Yeo on Oct 30, 2015 at 1:06 am

    I definitely agree with what the author written above. Its so true that people get too obsessed with selfies and hurt themselves by it. I was a guy who love to take selfies, i can take up to 30 selfies a day but after some time i found out that i was actually wasting my time and craving for the “likes” from people around me, and i was living with all these “likes” by people on my social media. So i did actually quit and only do selfie when people ask me to do it for social purposes. (: Thanks author for the good sharing, great post indeed.

  4. Vinnie Tan on Oct 24, 2015 at 8:52 pm

    Thank you Pastor David for your sharing of this article. With this article coming from you that is also a huge selfie king it means so much.

    Not only the self realisation that you have and sharing with us, but it also teaches us that the kind of problems that we will have when we overly focus on our external looks, it will bring us no where.

    The little thumbs up, comments, retweets, favourites, or hearts on Facebook, Twitter, or even Instagram mean nothing by the end of the day. Yes, little things like this may make us happy for the moment, but what is the effect after that instant happiness? We will once again be back to the dull lifestyle that we may be having or that lousy day that we have. Nothing can change.

    The ultimate change that we can have is the change of us disconnecting from the “I” factor.

    I remember Rinpoche always telling us, we treasure so much about our body treat it with the best that we can. But by the end of the day, what it does is that it betrays us. It does nothing but to betray us. So why are we even putting so much emphasis to upkeep this perception of “I”.

    When we pass away, there is nothing that is able to help us apart from the merits that we have collected while we are alive and doing work to benefit others. Like many of Rinpoche’s teachings, when we truly feel happy is the times when we focus out. It is difficult at first, but as time goes by, that habit that we install in us will just come forth. By that time we will truly be happy as we no longer focus on “I” that we know will betray us.

    To be honest, I do get excited when I see the little figures going up as well. But by the end of the day when I think of it again, there is nothing after that. These only last for maybe a day or two. But when we leave this world, what do we get. Nothing… because what we have done has done no impact, it only impact ourselves but not anyone else’s lives.

  5. Joy on Oct 24, 2015 at 4:28 pm

    Thank you Pastor David very “interesting” post on “selfie” as it is such a huge trend right now. I enjoyed reading it. I guess as we degenerate, the world or rather we will create more and more self-indulging activities, which creates more attachments that binds us in this vicious cycle of being born again and again in samsara. Experiencing all its sufferings again and again. It’s amazing how in Dharma we are taught to detach from the self, while the world spins around a chain that binds us to the self.

    Yes I would agree with your opinion that the Buddha would probably advice us closer students to not indulge in this “selfie” obsession. Even our Rinpoche does not encourage it, so I am quite certain it’s not something we should progress into.

    It just encourages our ego, pride, vanity, attachments to increase and inflate. On a psychological level, it is also unhealthy so let’s be moderate if we really “must” and why must we is also something we should investigate deep within us to address a much deeper hang up.

  6. Lum Kok Luen on Oct 24, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    Dear Pastor David,

    Thank you for the wonderful analysis of the obsessive and compulsive behavior called “selfie”. I would also include “wefie” into this discussion as there are a many people who in a small closely knitted friendship group, are obsessed with taking “wefies” just like taking “selfies”.

    Totally agreed that moderation is the key. As Budhha has always advocated we should moderate our behavior. As long as we are always mindful and alert not to let “selfie” become a self cherishing practice, then it’s ok.

    There are many other behaviors that is self cherishing and “selfie” is just one of the many in-things that is happening around the world, especially in this degenerate age.

    Thank you for the wonderful article. Keep these coming!!

    _/\_
    Lum Kok Luen

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  • Jason
    Thursday, Apr 27. 2017 11:54 PM
    People always expect return on some contribution being done especially in charity events. When the return was under their expectations then they will feel sad or unhappy.
    As Rinpoche said, Dharma is a teachings to transform our mind to become bodicitta or selfless to benefit others without condition. Once we practiced selfless mind, our mind will not be affected by others people reaction.
    What will be my legacy? I think this is not really important to me anymore once I know Dharma teachings from Rinpoche.
    Thanks Datuk May for sharing to benefit more people.

    Jason

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/guest-contributors/what-will-be-your-legacy.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Apr 27. 2017 08:56 PM
    Amazing miracles true story …of how Rinpoche helped. With Rinpoche blessing during the children baptismal ceremony,this little boy who had not spoken since 9 years old was able to speake again.Incredible….
    Chef Au truly believes been a vegetarian has help him to collects merits for his son.Rinpoche’s care and compassion has benefited many more people.Through these stories hope more people will be inspired to achieve the state of compassion and attainments.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Loh Seng Piow for this sharing.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/personal-attendant/the-miracles-of-tsem-rinpoche-true-story-4.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Apr 27. 2017 07:51 PM
    Having fully trust and faith in Rinpoche ,Fat monk’s mother was well again, after been diagnosed with cancerious tumour at the liver.
    Following instructions given by Rinpoche, his mother recited mantras and Fat monk did a series of pujas as told,his mother recovered then.
    Amazing……Miracles do happen.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Loh Seng Piow for sharing.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/personal-attendant/the-miracles-of-tsem-rinpoche-true-story-3.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Thursday, Apr 27. 2017 05:27 PM
    We are no strangers to the creatures called Werewolves. They are often depicted as the Jekyll-and-Hyde-like monsters in movies who are unable to control their animal instincts when they shift from human form to a wolf-like creature, usually during the full moon. Together with the Vampires who can transform into bats, are my childhood imagery villains, who triggered my curiosity on mythical creatures during younger days. They still do, lol.

    It is gruesome to learn that real life werewolves are actually brutal even when they are in human forms. It is a far depict from the movies and fictions, where they are civil and level headed when in human form. I hope one day science or technology can provide more proves the existence of werewolves, and debunk the reason of this mystical shapeshifter.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/paranormal/werewolves-the-shapeshifters.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Thursday, Apr 27. 2017 05:07 PM
    The miraculous power of Protectors’ practice can heal and shield us from negative karma from ripening. Through the blessings of our Guru, coupled with strong faith and trust, the practices will take effect swiftly and effectively. Rejoice to Steven Lee. May he be guided by the Three Jewels always. Thank you, Pastor Seng Piow for sharing the true story with us.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/personal-attendant/the-miracles-of-tsem-rinpoche-true-story-10.html
  • Lin Mun
    Thursday, Apr 27. 2017 03:57 PM
    This is a very touching article. I totally agree that dog is a man’s best friend. They are always so loyal to the owner. However it is sad that not all pet owners are such. Some will only treat them literally as an animal and therefore do not take good care of them. Dogs or any other animals are beings that have feeling. There should not be neglected and be abused by us. This article reminds us to always care for all beings and respect them.

    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this heartwarming article.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/faithful-dog-chases-deceased-owner.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Apr 27. 2017 02:21 PM
    Its a heartfelt touching article of this faithful dog.Cannot imagine this ,such a wonderful relationship between that dog and the deceased owner.The greatest fear dogs know is the fear that we will not come back for them That i noticed from observing from my pet poodle.In this case this faithful dog knew his owner won’t be back.
    Dogs are loyal, patient, fearless, forgiving, capable of pure love and have feelings too.He must have missed the owner badly that he wanted to accompany the owner all the way to the resting place.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing. May that faithful dog ,continue to serve and well taken, love by the other family members.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/faithful-dog-chases-deceased-owner.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Apr 27. 2017 01:46 PM
    Werewolves are known to be mythical creatures found in fiction instead of lurking in the dark woods,In various parts of the world there were few cases who have gone down in history as real life werewolves Interesting to read it from these post..How far it was true or just legends.,no one really know . Many myths and legends surrounding werewolves .To become a werewolf, it is necessary to be bitten by a werewolf in their form at the time of the full moon. Thats what all of us knew from the movies and from fiction told. Reports of werewolf sightings continued even till this century but mostly in between 1428 and 1447 .The most recent sighting of werewolf sightings in 1972. was in Ohio .but eventually subsided .
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing these interesting article which i do enjoyed reading it,
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/paranormal/werewolves-the-shapeshifters.html
  • Valentina
    Thursday, Apr 27. 2017 01:11 PM
    Join our blog chat session this Saturday 11AM – 12PM (GMT +8) on the topic of:

    Twenty-Four Holy Places & Eight Great Charnel Grounds part 2 – (focus topic: Eight Great Charnel Grounds)

    At one time there was a god by the name of Rudra who was originally part of Mahadeva’s retinue. He was a very fierce being who also had many of his own consorts. Together with his consorts he began to oppress sentient beings, and promoted violence and unethical behaviour. At that time, Heruka once again arose, and in a dance of great compassionate wrath, liberated Rudra and his consorts from their physical bodies, sending their minds to pure lands. The places where Rudra’s body parts fell became charnel grounds. …read more by clicking the following link:

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/twenty-four-holy-places-eight-great-charnel-grounds.html
  • Jason
    Thursday, Apr 27. 2017 03:07 AM
    This year Wesak Day fall on 10 of May. This day is very special and meaningful to me because I will visit Kechara Forest Retreat(KFR) to join some meritorious event there.
    For me, Wesak is a day to commemorate Buddha Sakyamuni in three aspect( Birth , Enlightened, Nirwana).
    While we celebrate Wesak, we must remind ourselves to learn from Buddha teachings and practice it in order to gain attainment.
    Thanks Rinpoche and Pastor Seng Piow for sharing in order to create more understanding on Wesak Day.

    Jason

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

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

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

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

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

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/personal-attendant/the-miracles-of-tsem-rinpoche-true-story-12.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Apr 26. 2017 04:30 PM
    Miracles do happen,when we have faith and trust in our Guru.What is important is to follow Rinpoche’s advice and do as instructed by our Guru to clear the osbtacles all the way.Angie and Herry were so fortunate to have meet Rinpoche.Its because of Rinpoche ‘s compassion and caring for his student Angie’s life was saved.Infact Rinpoche has helped many people through his intervention, advice and instructions.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Loh Seng Piow for sharing miracles stories which i enjoyed reading.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/personal-attendant/the-miracles-of-tsem-rinpoche-true-story-2.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Apr 26. 2017 02:45 PM
    WOW….interesting a miracles true story. Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Loh Seng Piow for sharing.Reciting mantras by family members and doing 20 pujas done at the monastery to help the baby. These proved that pujas, which have been done for hundreds of years in the monasteries are very powerful methods for us to overcome difficulties, create huge amounts of merit and for protection, good health and long life.This show us how powerful pujas can help us when we have trust and faith in our Guru.And with Rinpoche divination,the baby was born and now a healthy boy.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/personal-attendant/the-miracles-of-tsem-rinpoche-true-story-1-2.html

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Messages from Rinpoche

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

Videos On The Go

Please click on the images to watch video
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ASK A PASTOR


Ask the Pastors

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

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

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

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