Bill Porter (Red Pine): The Translator of Chinese Poems and Promoter of Zen Buddhism

By | Jan 6, 2017 | Views: 1,099
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Bill 1

Early Years

Bill Porter was born on 3 October 1943 in Los Angeles, California. His father, William A. Porter, was a convicted bank robber who was sentenced to 20 years in prison in Michigan in the 1920s. During this unfavourable time, William’s sisters Pearlie and Pauline moved to Michigan to be closer to their brother. Both Pearlie and Pauline worked as waitresses in an upscale restaurant where the Michigan governor at the time often dined. Both women seized this opportunity to tell the governor about their brother. Fortune started to shine on the Porter family when the governor decided to issue a pardon for William A. Porter. By the time he was released, William A. Porter only served six out of the 20-year prison sentence.

After his release, William A. Porter secured a job in the hospitality industry and eventually became a wealthy man by establishing his hotel chain. Following his success, William A. Porter became a big sponsor of the Democratic Party and a close friend of the Kennedy family. Porter grew up in a privileged environment. He attended prestigious boarding schools in Los Angeles and San Francisco but unlike most privileged children, Porter became disillusioned with wealth. He could see the superficiality of many people who surrounded those with money.

In his later years, misfortune came back to haunt his father William A. Porter. William’s marriage ended in divorce and his hotel business was crumbling from a series of lawsuits. He quickly lost most of his wealth, and his family was back to experiencing financial hardship. However, instead of lamenting the misfortune, Porter was relieved that he did not have to inherit a vast fortune. He was happy to be released from the social pressure of having to act like people with money. In his later years, Porter revealed his feeling about the loss of his father’s fortune:

Meeting powerful people and seeing what facades their characters were, how false they were. I didn’t realise what I was being introduced to, but I realised that money and fame are not worth seeking and are even worth avoiding. I still remember how good I felt when I realised my father was losing all his money because then I realised I wouldn’t have to inherit it. Not that I couldn’t use a little money right now, but at the time I was so turned off by it because of all these fake people I met all the time as a child.

 

Formative Years

University of California, Santa Barbara where Bill Porter used to study.

University of California, Santa Barbara where Bill Porter used to study.

After he finished high school, Porter enrolled at the University of California, Santa Barbara in 1961. However, he was not mentally ready for college and consequently, he dropped out from the university and two other junior colleges. In 1964, he received the draft notice and subsequently joined the military. He went on a three-year tour to Germany in his capacity as a medical clerk. After completing his military tenure, Porter went back to the University of California, Santa Barbara to major in Anthropology. It was in college that he developed an interest in Buddhism after having read a book by Alan Watts titled The Way of Zen and another book by Edward Conze titled Introduction to Buddhism. Porter recalled his thoughts when reading the two books:

It was then that I finally felt I’d found something that made sense to me about what was going on in this life. But, I was really still looking on these books as something I was doing on my own, on the side.

After obtaining his bachelor degree, he enrolled at Columbia University as a graduate student in anthropology and Chinese language. He spent his junior year at the University of Goettingen in Germany and realised that his real interest was Buddhism. Porter recalled his feeling then:

Everything I was studying then started to dovetail with Buddhism. They all were saying the same thing to me in terms of how to discover what’s real. I was ready for Buddhism when it came along. But the thing about Buddhism was that it was so much broader in scope, far more poetic as well — a way of life as well as a way of thinking.

Columbia University where Bill Porter used to enroll as a graduate student in anthropology.

Columbia University where Bill Porter used to enroll as a graduate student of anthropology.

When he came back to Columbia University, his interest in anthropology had waned. He found it challenging to write papers, and felt that the subject would not serve his purpose to find the meaning of life. He started to attend meditation classes taught by a Hua-Yen Buddhist monk, Ven. Shou Yeh, on weekends at a temple that was located north of New York City. He was never able to communicate properly with Shou Yeh because he could not speak fluent Chinese, and Ven. Shou Yeh only spoke limited English. However, Porter enjoyed observing Ven. Shou Yeh’s calm and peaceful demeanour.

In 1972, Porter made a decision to drop out of Columbia University to join a Buddhist monastery in Taiwan. His schoolmate informed him of a newly established monastery in Taiwan, Fo Kwang Shan Monastery. He wrote a letter to the monastery to express his interest in joining them. Much to his surprise, the abbot of Fo Kwang Shan agreed to let him stay. Porter’s supportive father bought him a one-way ticket to Taiwan and gave him US$200 to enable him to fulfil his desire to study Buddhism.

 

Two Decades in Asia

 

Fo Kwang Shan and Hai Ming Monastery

Fo Kwang Shan Monastery in Taiwan where Bill Porter spent one year to study Buddhist teachings.

Fo Kwang Shan Monastery in Taiwan where Bill Porter spent one year to study Buddhist teachings.

Initially, Porter wanted to stay longer at Fo Kwang Shan Monastery because the monastery offered many classes on Buddhist teachings and sutras. However, as a western Buddhist practitioner who lived in the monastery, he attracted unwanted attention. Porter felt distracted by the visitors who were curious to see him. He recalled:

All the people there thought it was the strangest thing to have a foreigner studying Buddhism. It was like being on a foreign planet. When the public came through the monastery it was sort of touristy, and I got tired of being gawked at so I decided to go…

College of Chinese Culture where Bill Porter used to enroll as a student majoring in Philosophy.

College of Chinese Culture where Bill Porter used to enroll as a student of Philosophy.

Therefore, after staying at Fo Kwang Shan Monastery for only one year, Porter decided to move out and enrolled himself at the College of Chinese Culture majoring in Philosophy. He lived in the dormitory together with other students, and took classes on philosophy, Chinese arts and Taoism. He particularly liked the classes taught by Prof. C.H. Wu who had published an English translation of Tao Te Ching, a fundamental Chinese text on Taoism. It was in this university he met the woman who would later become his wife, Ku Lien Chang. After about one year, Porter became disinterested with academic life. He dropped out of college and joined Hai Ming Monastery, about 20 km outside Taipei, Taiwan.

Hai Ming Monastery

Hai Ming Monastery

At the time, Hai Ming Monastery’s abbot was Ven. Wu Ming, the personal master of Chiang Kai Shek. Ven. Wu Ming had previously written commentaries and published the poems by the Tang Dynasty poet Cold Mountain, also known as Hanshan. Although not much was known about Cold Mountain’s personal life, he was regarded as an emanation of the Bodhisattva Manjushri. Cold Mountain is believed to have written over 600 poems, out of which only over 300 poems survived to this day. Porter was very much attracted to the Cold Mountain’s poems and decided to translate them. He recalled:

Cold Mountain really spoke to my heart. It was the first deep voice I had encountered who spoke so simply and so truly about living a simple life and not being distracted or seduced by the things that bothered me when I was younger, wealth and power and all that sort of stuff.

A recent picture of Ven. Wu Ming during his 100th birthday celebration.

A recent picture of Ven. Wu Ming during his 100th birthday celebration.

Porter was given the name Victorious Cloud at the monastery, where he would spend most of his time studying and meditating. He recalled, “I had got hold of all these classic texts with both Chinese and English characters, and I went through most of the sutras.” He also improved his grasp of the Chinese language by doing the translation of sacred Buddhist scriptures and Cold Mountain’s poems. He ended up studying there for about 2.5 years. During his stay in the monastery, Porter was still courting Ku Lien Chang and would travel to Taipei on weekends to see her. Ku introduced him to intellectuals who gathered at the Astoria Bakery / coffee shop. When the time came for Porter to decide whether or not to become a monk, he decided to leave the monastery. Before he left however, he took the lay precepts vows, to commit himself to Buddhism. The lay precepts are the basic ethical code of conduct for lay Buddhist practitioners.

 

Becoming Red Pine

After he left the monastery, Porter rented a stone farm house in Bamboo Lake, Yang Ming Mountain. Around this time, he decided to adopt the pen name ‘Red Pine’. He recalled:

…one day I’m coming down the mountain on a bus, and it came to a stop right next to a billboard advertising Black Pine Cola. I say ‘that’s the name!’ But black is not a Chinese colour. Red is a Chinese colour. Red Pine! That’s my new name.

Several months later, Porter found out that Red Pine was also the name of a great Taoist master, the rain master of the Yellow Emperor. He used the name Red Pine because he was inspired by Chinese poets such as Cold Mountain or Stonehouse who used symbolic names.

Bill Porter and his wife, Ku Lien Chang, in front of their home in Port Townsend, Washington.

Bill Porter and his wife, Ku Lien Chang, in front of their home in Port Townsend, Washington.

After many years of courtship, Porter finally married his long-time partner, Ku Lien Chang. In 1982, the union bore a son named Red Cloud and in 1987, a daughter named Irish. The financial pressure of a growing family led him to take a full-time job as a national news editor at the International Community Radio in Taipei.

John Blofeld (1913 – 1987), the person who was Bill Porter’s mentor.

John Blofeld (1913 – 1987), the person who was Bill Porter’s mentor.

During his stay in Bamboo Lake, Porter continued to translate Cold Mountain’s poems. He submitted his translation work of Cold Mountain’s poems to several publishers such as Shambala, Weatherhill and Tuttle, but he was rejected by all three. Refusing to give up, Porter sought an advice from a famous writer and translator, John Blofeld (1913 – 1987), who would become his mentor. Blofeld encouraged Porter to translate all the surviving poems by Cold Mountain and helped him by giving valuable feedback throughout the process. Upon completing the translation of Cold Mountain’s poems, Porter submitted his work to Copper Canyon Press to be considered for publication. This time he was successful. In 1983, Cold Mountain’s translated poems were published as a book titled The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain under his pen name, Red Pine. Blofeld wrote an introduction to the book. Although the quality of the translation was good, The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain was not a best seller book.

Hanshan, a poet who was also known as Cold Mountain.

Hanshan, a poet who was also known as Cold Mountain.

Excerpts from The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain:

Today I sat before the cliff,
sat a long time till mists had cleared.
A single thread, the clear stream runs cold;
a thousand yards the green peaks lift their heads.

White clouds – the morning light is still.
Moonrise – the lamp of night drifts upward.
Body free from dust and stain,
what care could trouble my mind?

Following on from the modest success of his first book, Porter persevered in his effort and continued to translate other Chinese poems. His subsequent works, P’u Ming’s Oxherding Pictures and Verses in 1983 and From Temple Walls: The Collected Poems of Big Shield & Pickup in 1984 were published by Empty Bowl Press. Empty Bowl Press specialised in publishing artistic and bohemian writing works targeted at a unique audience.

Book covers for The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain and P’u Ming’s Oxherding Pictures and Verses.

Book covers for The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain and P’u Ming’s Oxherding Pictures and Verses.

Shiwu, a poet who was also known as Stonehouse.

Shiwu, a poet who was also known as Stonehouse.

Porter started to receive serious acclaim after his book The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse containing a collection of poems by Stonehouse was published by Copper Canyon Press. The process of translating Stonehouse’s poems made a deep impression on Porter. He felt a strong connection to and was moved by the poems that described the life of a Zen hermit with all the hardships and happiness. Stonehouse, born in Changshu, China in 1272, was a Zen master, hermit and poet who eventually became a highly respected Dharma master in the Chinese Zen Buddhist tradition.

The following is the excerpt from The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse:

Snow-filled nights a fire is my lone companion
frost-covered dawns I hear a gibbon howl
my tattered monk’s robe isn’t easy to mend
I cut a new patch when a cloud rolls in

From outside my round pointed-roof hut
who would guess at the space inside
all the worlds in the universe are there
with room to spare for a meditation cushion

The poems that Stonehouse composed elegantly describe his Zen hermit lifestyle and, in an honest and humorous way, describe his experience when meditating on a mountain. The poems often mention the tiny stove that was used by Stonehouse during his solitary retreat to provide warmth and to make tea and simple meals. Stonehouse’s rare poems, combined with Porter’s ability to express the poet’s intention in his own words, made The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse a big success in the heart of its readers and secured positive reviews for Porter.

The book covers for The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse and The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma.

The book covers for The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse and The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma.

After the success of The Mountains Poems of Stonehouse, Bill Porter soon returned to work. He translated the teachings of Bodhidharma for his next book titled The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma. Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk who lived between the 5th and the 6th centuries and is often regarded as the practitioner who brought Chan Buddhism to China. Although not much is known about this monk, he is often depicted as a big-eyed and bearded man who hails from Central Asia.

Bodhidharma’s teachings focused on the Lankavatara Sutra and meditation. In Japan, Bodhidharma is known as Daruma. The first edition of The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma was published by Empty Bowl Press in 1987 and the second edition was published in 1989 by North Point Press.

Porter confessed that The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma is the first book translated in his own voice:

With Stonehouse it was somewhere in between. I think I didn’t really discover my translation voice until I did Bodhidharma, which gave me a chance to find the rhythms of my language.

Porter regards the Chinese language as abstract and telegraphic, and many Chinese authors focus more on the substance and not the form. Therefore, good translators should be able to understand the meaning and context of the words prior to executing the translation to their native languages.

Porter on translating Chinese poems:

It’s like I see a beautiful woman dancing on the dance floor and I’m so attracted [and] I want to dance with her but I don’t hear the music. I’m deaf. I have no idea what’s impelling her to dance but I want to dance with her, so I do. But I would never want to put my feet on top of her feet to dance.

This is what most people think is translation – dancing with your feet on top of someone else’s feet. That way it’s literal and it’s accurate but it’s not because it kills the dancer. And you can’t dance across the room either. You have to get close enough to feel the energy.

Winston Wong Wen-Young who funded Bill Porter research on Buddhist hermits.

Winston Wong Wen-Young who funded Bill Porter research on Buddhist hermits.

After Porter completed the translation of Cold Mountain’s and Stonehouse’s poems, he wondered if Buddhist hermits still exist in modern times. To fulfil his curiosity, Porter applied for a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation to engage in research in this area. However, before he heard the news from the Guggenheim Foundation about the status of his application, he had a chance to interview the son of the wealthiest man in Taiwan, Winston Wong Wen-Young from Formosa Plastics, one of largest plastic companies in the world. Porter informed Wong that he was waiting to hear from the Gunggenheim Foundation about the grant to research about Buddhist hermits. Wong told him that if Porter did not obtain the grant, he would be happy to help. As it turned out, the Guggenheim Foundation rejected Porter’s application, leading Wong to help to fund his research. In total, it took him 1.5 years to complete his first book, Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits. The book was published by Mercury House in 1993.

After completing Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits, Porter had another project in mind. He wanted to research the origins of Chinese culture, and he contacted Wong to request the necessary funding which was around US$9,000 to pay for his three-month journey to China. Once again, Wong agreed. During his research, Porter focused his attention on the Yellow River and the surrounding areas in China because he believed that they were the centre of cultural assimilation between the native Chinese and other nationalities who came to trade via the Silk Road route.

The book covers of Road to Heaven: : Encounters with Chinese Hermits and Yellow River Odyssey.

The book covers of Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits and Yellow River Odyssey.

After Porter came back from his research, his superior at the radio station in Taiwan, Bryan Curtis, was offered an opportunity to become the head of a new radio station, Metro News. Curtis asked Porter to come with him, and Porter agreed. In Hong Kong, Porter pitched his idea to produce his own radio series on Chinese history called Yellow River Odyssey. The idea was accepted and he signed a two-year contract. In total Porter successfully wrote and produced five radio series covering Silk Road to Islamabad, the tribes who lived on the hill in southern China, Jiangnan region, and the Three Gorges. After working in Hong Kong for two years, Porter saved enough money to return to the United States with his family and put a down payment on the house the family is now still living in.

In 2014, Porter rewrote the radio scripts into a book titled Yellow River Odyssey. The book includes photographs of his travels and information about religious sites that are connected to Confucius, Mencius, Laozi and Zhuang Zhou.

 

Returning to the United States

Port Townsend in Washington, USA where Bill Porter and his family currently live.

Port Townsend in Washington, USA where Bill Porter and his family currently live.

After working in Hong Kong for two years, Porter saved enough money to return back to the United States with his family. In 1993, Porter and his family moved to the United States and settled down in Port Townsend in Washington State, a coastal town of 8,000 people. Prior to this move, Porter had visited the city several times before because Copper Canyon Press that published many of his books was based in Port Townsend. He was particularly enamoured with the fresh and peaceful nature that the city offered. The family bought a house for US$93,000 and they have been living in that house ever since.

Initially, the family experienced financial hardship. For some time, Porter had to work two jobs in a bakery and a restaurant as a waiter to support his family. Juggling two jobs was challenging and left Porter too exhausted to do his translation and writing works. After one year of focusing on his jobs, Porter realised that he missed writing and translation work, and decided to prioritise these over his two jobs. He started using credit cards to pay for his family expenses. Although his literary aspirations were fulfilled, debt quickly accumulated and although he was able to write book, however, the proceeds from the book royalties were insufficient to cover his family’s living expenses.

At the time, Porter had 15 books in print and he was able to sell 1,000 books a year on average. He earned US$1.50 per book as his royalties, and therefore was making US$15,000 per year on average. For some time, the family lived frugally and relied on food stamps. In interviews, Porter has seriously and sincerely thanked the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Food Stamp Program and the Port Townsend Food Bank for providing meals for his family.

 

Bill Porter’s View on Zen Buddhism

An artist’s illustration of Bodhidharma.

An artist’s illustration of Bodhidharma.

Porter is very much interested in Zen Buddhism. Zen Buddhism is a branch or school of Mahayana Buddhism that teaches its practitioners to exercise self-control and meditation. It encourages practitioners to understand the nature of Lord Buddha so they can also practise their understanding of every aspect of their daily lives for the benefit of sentient beings. The teachings of Zen Buddhism are believed to have been brought by Bodhidharma to China during the 5th or 6th century.

Porter has previously expressed that he agrees with the idea of Zen Buddhism to free one’s mind from concepts, languages and attachments. Porter’s belief that Zen Buddhism is more a way of life than a religion, has compelled him to write and translate books related to the subject, such as The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain, The Zen Works of Stonehouse, The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse, The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma and Zen Baggage. To Porter, the belief that Zen Buddhism is more a way of life has fuelled his interest in Buddhist Zen hermits because their commitment to live in isolation to meditate is the true essence of Zen Buddhism.

 

A Conversation on Zen Buddhism with Bill Porter

http://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/ConversationwithZenMaster.flv

Or view the video on the server at: http://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/ConversationwithZenMaster.flv

 

 

Bill Porter’s Impact on Modern Chinese Readers

One fateful day, Porter met Tang Xiaoming, the manager of Beijing Reader Publishing in the Cypress Grove Monastery, Beijing. Porter was visiting the monastery to do research for his upcoming book, The Zen Baggage. At the time, Tang Xiaoming had started to become interested in Buddhism, and he was impressed with Porter’s work and how he conveyed the substance of Chinese poetry and writers. As a result, Tang Xiaoming was interested in publishing Porter’s works, although Beijing Reader Publishing usually only publishes business-related books.

Bill Porter during an interview session with a Chinese hermit.

Bill Porter during an interview session with a Chinese hermit.

In 2001, Porter had published a book titled Secluded Orchids in a Deserted Valley about Buddhist hermits and other noble characters. In Tang Xiaoming’s opinion, the previous publisher of this book did not represent the text well. Thinking that the time had come for the Chinese to reconnect with their religious roots, Tang Xiaoming decided to re-publish the book in 2009. He was right. Secluded Orchids in a Deserted Valley received positive reviews in China and sold over 100,000 copies. Porter became a foreign sensation in China, and a page in Baidu Baike, the Chinese version of Wikipedia was dedicated to him. In addition, the book prompted hermit tourism in China. Porter believed the reason behind his book’s success was because many Chinese readers were eager to learn about their cultural heritage.

The book covers for The Heart Sutra and The Diamond Sutra.

The book covers for The Heart Sutra and The Diamond Sutra.

In 2009, Porter’s English versions of The Heart Sutra and The Diamond Sutra, along with his commentaries, were translated back into Chinese. The publisher felt that compared to the original Chinese version, Porter’s translations were easier to understand after being translated back to Chinese. In 2011, Tang Xiaoming released the Chinese version of Porter’s The Zen Baggage in China. The book received critical acclaim and 50,000 copies were sold. For the first time in his life, Porter received a commission and down payment to write a book based on his old radio show script in Hong Kong, Yellow River Odyssey. In 2012, it became known that Porter had earned US$30,000 from his book sales in China alone. After several years of struggle, he was finally able to provide for his family without relying on the government’s Food Stamp Program.

 

Awards and Grants

One of Porter’s books titled In Such Hard Times: The Poetry of Wei Yingwu was awarded the 2007 PEN Translation Fund Grant from PEN American Center. In 2010, the same book also won the American Literary Translators Association’s inaugural Lucien Stryk Asian Translation Prize.

 

Future Plans

The book cover of Finding Them Gone.

The book cover of Finding Them Gone.

In 2011, Porter received a grant from the Guggenheim Foundation after being rejected seven times in a row. The grant was utilised to fund his research in 20 locations in China that are associated with poetry. Porter used the information from the trip to write a book about the ancient Chinese poets titled Finding Them Gone: Visiting China’s Poets of the Past. The book was released in 2016.

Now that Porter is in his 70s, he will soon be retiring from the literary world. Initially, he used Buddhist texts as a functional way to understand the Chinese language and had not planned on translating them into English. These days, Porter finds more meaning connecting with other people, instead of going around China to research for his books. He has plans to visit Europe where he used to serve as a medical clerk for three years, and to visit Taiwan. Although Porter does not plan to write or translate any more books, he will always be remembered as a gifted translator and prolific author who pours his heart into his works.

 

Promotional Video on Finding Them Gone

http://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/FindThemGone.flv

Or view the video on the server at: http://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/FindThemGone.flv

 

W.S. Merwin, a National Book Award-winning poet, once gave a thoughtful comment on the translation work of Red Pine, especially for his book titled The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse:

…they’re not like any others. Love of language, love of tradition, accuracy and power of language. I am so indebted to him (Bill Porter). I’ll be reading his Stonehouse translations for the rest of my days.

 

List of Bill Porter’s books:

No. Book Title Publisher Year
1. The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain (translator) Copper Canyon Press 1983
2. P’u Ming’s OXHERDING PICTURES & VERSES (translator) Empty Bowl Press 1983
3. From Temple Walls: The Collected Poems of Big Shield & Pickup (translator) Empty Bowl Press 1984
4. The Mountain Poems of Stonehouse (translator) Empty Bowl Press 1986
5. The Zen Teaching of Bodhidharma (translator) North Point Press 1987
6. Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits (author) Mercury House 1993
7. Guide to Capturing a Plum Blossom (translator) Mercury House 1995
8. The Zen Works of Stonehouse: Poems and Talks of a 14th-Century Chinese Hermit (translator) Mercury House 1997
9. The Clouds Should Know Me By Now: Buddhist Poet Monks of China (translator) Wisdom Publications 1998
10. Secluded Orchid in a Deserted Valley (author) Contemporary China Press 2001
11. The Diamond Sutra (translator) Counterpoint Press 2002
12. Poems of the Masters: China’s Classic Anthology of T’ang and Sung Dynasty Verse (translator) Copper Canyon Press 2003
13. The Heart Sutra (translator) Counterpoint Press 2004
14. Platform Sutra (translator) Counterpoint Press 2006
15. Zen Baggage: A Pilgrimage to China (author) Counterpoint Press 2005
16. Lao-tzu’s Taoteching (translator) Copper Canyon Press 2009
17. In Such Hard Times: The Poetry of Wei Ying-wu (translator) Copper Canyon Press 2009
18. The Lankavatara Sutra: Translation and Commentary (translator) Counterpoint Press 2012
19. Yellow River Odyssey (author) Chin Music Press 2014
20. Finding Them Gone: Visiting China’s Poets of the Past (author) Copper Canyon Press 2015
21. South of the Clouds: Travels in Southwest China (author) Counterpoint Press 2015
22. South of Yangtze (author) Counterpoint Press 2016
23. The Silk Road (author) Counterpoint Press 2016

Sources of information:

  • http://www.kyotojournal.org/the-journal/fiction-poetry/dancing-with-words/
  • https://royhamric.wordpress.com/2010/08/14/red-pine-language-poetry-translation/
  • http://www.latimes.com/entertainment/arts/la-caw-paperback-writers19-2009jul19-story.html
  • http://www.oregonlive.com/books/index.ssf/2013/12/post_47.html
  • http://old.seattletimes.com/html/books/2001845874_redpine29.html
  • http://www.drbu.org/blog/poem-cold-mountain
  • http://beijingbookworm.com/happenings/meet-the-author-bill-porter/
  • http://sinosphere.blogs.nytimes.com/2014/07/17/q-and-a-bill-porter-on-travel-writing-in-china/?_r=0
  • https://www.coppercanyonpress.org/pages/browse/book.asp?bg={92D32EA4-CD76-4275-AC49-F64217BC9D0B}
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Red_Pine_(author)
  • http://www.scmp.com/magazines/post-magazine/article/1495760/my-life-red-pine
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanshan_(poet)
  • http://terebess.hu/zen/mesterek/RedPine.html
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hanshan_(poet)
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tao_Te_Ching
  • http://www.eclectica.org/v18n4/purdy_pine.html
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bodhidharma
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zen

For more interesting information:

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About Valentina Suhendra

Valentina met H.E. the 25th Tsem Tulku Rinpoche in year 2006 and became his student one year later. Prior to joining Kechara, Valentina was an advisory director at one of the big four accounting firms.

Currently, Valentina is the chairwoman of Yayasan Kechara Indonesia, a foundation working on social community projects to benefit the community. Read more of her writing on her blog: www.valentinasuhendra.com
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20 Responses to Bill Porter (Red Pine): The Translator of Chinese Poems and Promoter of Zen Buddhism

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  1. JP on Feb 13, 2017 at 12:28 am

    It is very inspiring to read about Bill Porter’s tenacity and determination to explore Buddhism and how it led him to translate some important Chinese literature and do research on hermits in China. As a result of his years of hardship, his works became well known in China and his financial situation improved as a result. The bottom line is most goals can be achieved if we put our heart and soul towards them.

  2. wan wai meng on Feb 12, 2017 at 12:02 am

    It was probably a struggle for Bill in his earlier years as a writer. I liked that he wrote to learn something, as obviously one need to be a master of the subject matter to write anything.

    Interesting to know that Zen is one of first spiritual traditions in China that encouraged practicing as a community.

  3. Samfoonheei on Feb 6, 2017 at 6:21 pm

    Very inspiring article of Bill Porter. His determination and will power in learning Buddhism has took him across many countries just to learn Buddhism. Despite facing many obstacles in his Life. he never give up even to the extend to learn totally a new language and doing translating work. it is not easy to learn a new language in a new place and so forth which resulted in numerous work that benefited many people.
    Bill Porter will be remembered as a gifted translator and prolific author .Thank you Rinpoche and Valentina Suhendra for sharing this inspiring article to motivate and inspire us.

  4. Mingwen on Feb 1, 2017 at 8:32 am

    Nothing is impossible, it’s just difficult.

    Determination, good motivations, hardworking, have faith and passion, by combining all these great qualities, the key to the door of SUCCESS will be create.

  5. Pastor Chia on Feb 1, 2017 at 8:32 am

    Bill porter one of the great translator of poems to promote Zen Buddhism. I had seen some of his book sales at the bookstore but rarely know about his background. I admired his knowledge learning about Buddhism and able to translate many poems which hard to understand especially Zen Buddhism. Bill Porter ready blessed by Manjushiri by doing translate Tang Dynasty poet Cold Mountain, also known as Hanshan. He was regarded as an emanation of the Bodhisattva Manjushri. Cold Mountain is believed to have written over 600 poems, out of which only over 300 poems survived to this day. Porter was very much attracted to the Cold Mountain’s poems and decided to translate them. Thanks to Bill Porter hardwork produce many Buddhist books, benefit many people understand the profound teaching of Zen Buddhism.

  6. Pastor Albert on Feb 1, 2017 at 8:21 am

    A very beneficial interest Porter has and with his passionate work, he has benefited countless people by translating the Buddhist text. Buddhism can really touched many people with it’s logic and teachings, whether you are from Asia, Western country, Europe country or any country with any background or culture, Buddhism will still make sense and it will answer lots of our doubts in life, because Buddhism is all about our life.

    Porter’s work is very consistent and he never give up even when there are challengers, he learn a totally new language to learn more about Buddhism by doing translating work, it is not easy to learn a new language and giving up our lifestyle to live in a foreign country, we have to adapt a new culture, people, language, and everything, but Porter has done it, his action reminded me of H.E. the 25th Tsem Rinpoche, who also found Buddhism in USA and travel all the way to India to pursue his spiritual practice.

  7. Pastor Antoinette on Feb 1, 2017 at 8:16 am

    Bill Porter or Red Pine is an extraordinary translator and author. With his long and in depth studies and John Blofeld as his mentor, his translations are very accurate. Having the interest to research and write himself, he found a sponsor to allow him to research and write “Road to Heaven: Encounters with Chinese Hermits”. It is interesting to see how many hardships he had to take to be able to follow his calling.

    Thank you Rinpoche and Valentina for sharing about Bill Porter whose books are for sure beneficial to read.

  8. Julia Tan on Feb 1, 2017 at 1:58 am

    I think being a translator is not only putting the words of the author into other language but he or she is responsible to understand fully of what the author is trying to express and the essence of story and then written them into other language with the spirit and essence of the author. A true translator like Bill Porter, He’s one that went deep into understanding Buddhism. With his passion in Buddhism, enable many to receive Dharma.

  9. Andrea Lai on Feb 1, 2017 at 12:49 am

    I admired Bill Porter of his interest, passion and his strong determination to explored the knowledge of Buddhism despite facing any obstacle in his Life. Success goes to determine people who never give up on his dream.

    Very inspiring.Thank you Rinpoche for sharing and Valentina for writing this wonderful article.

  10. June Kang on Jan 31, 2017 at 11:53 pm

    How fortunate we have Bill Porter took up Chinese language and translate chinese book to English. I like the “The Collected Songs of Cold Mountain” and is truly a valuable book. He has made Han Shan’s spontaneous poems accessible to Western readers. He is great. In the Buddhist tradition Hanshan is honored as emanations of the Bodhisattvas Manjushri. In his poem you can find the compassion of the Bodhisattvas and how he taught Dharma in “unusual” way to benefit many people.

  11. Eric kksiow on Jan 31, 2017 at 11:01 pm

    This is the 1st time i heard of Bill Porter name, much thanks to Valentina for this article ( i learned more of Bill Porter ) and i found this from FB, Bill Porter FB admin helped him to post all the interesting pictures to share with all of Bill Porter fans.

    Please check out his FB page – https://www.facebook.com/pg/Red-Pine-translator-Bill-Porter-author-141241929246990/about/?ref=page_internal

  12. nicholas on Jan 31, 2017 at 10:15 pm

    Bill Porter is truly inspiring. His determination in learning Buddhism has resulted in numerous work that benefited many people.
    He traveled around many places to record and introduce Buddhism to the world. The geographical play a main role for Bill Porter to introduce Zen Buddhism.

    His work really benefitted others especially his translating work which open up to more westerner. May he continue with his meritorious work.

  13. Pastor Henry Ooi on Jan 31, 2017 at 7:37 pm

    Bill Porter is a man of inspiration. He shows that while education is important but never giving up is more important. A good attitude rather than just a paper chase. Like everyone else, he made mistakes and that landed him in jail. Instead of mulling and regretting his mistakes, he focused in changing his life for the better.

  14. pammie yap on Jan 31, 2017 at 7:06 pm

    Mr Porter has an interesting life! And I really do have to agree, ‘Meeting powerful people and seeing what facades their characters were, how false they were.’
    But the best part was reading how he realized it and how he don’t even want to be a part of it.

    It is really good to know that he persevered with his work and never gave up even when there were obstacles. And his interests in Buddhism kept growing and he did more translations. How fortunate are those who got to read translated versions of such esteemed teachings and poems. I know I would enjoy reading it as I can’t read Chinese as well. Hope that his works will continue to benefit many.

  15. Pastor Han Nee on Jan 13, 2017 at 5:04 pm

    Thank you Valentina for this well-researches article.

    Bill Porter’s non -attachment to worldly fame and wealth makes a rare individual in this modern materialistic age.Even from a young age, Bill Porter showed his disdain of wealth and fame. He was sharply perceptive of how superficial or faked people were around wealth. Hence, he was even happy when his family’s fortunes changed and they became poor . He was so relieved that he did not have to inherit wealth and to have people who were merely hangers on as friends.He was relieved of the burden of the social pressure and expectations on people with money.

    When he finally decided to go to college to undertake serious study, he discovered Buddhism, after reading a book on Zen Buddhism and another on an Introduction to Buddhism. He said he had finally ” found something that made sense to him about what was going on in this life”. Buddhism showed him the meaning and purpose of life. After a year of college in Germany, he finally realised that his real interest was Buddhism. Everything he was studying started to dovetail with Buddhism. They were all saying the same thing about how to discover the reality of life.Buddhism became a way of life as well as a way of thinking.

    After dropping out of University in America, he went on to spend the next two decades in Asia. He first entered Fo Kwang Shan in Taiwan , where he stayed for 1 year, then moved to the College of Chinese Culture to study Philosophy.Chinese Arts and Taoism. However, he became disillusioned with academic life . He dropped out of college and entered Hai Ming Monastery. He was drawn to the Tang Dynasty poet Cold Mountain, who appealed to him because his poems spoke so sincerely about living a simple life and not to be distracted by fame or wealth. In fact Cold Mountain was regarded as an emanation of Manjushri.

    Then he began to translate the Buddhist scriptures and Cold Mountain poems, for which he earned his special fame as a writer.He decided to leave the monastery but he took the lay precepts as a personal commitment to Buddhism. Later, he adopted the pen name of “Red Pine”.

    Through translating the Stonehouse Cold Mountain poems, he felt a strong connection to and was moved by the poems that described the life of a Zen hermit with all the hardships and happiness. From then on his fascination for the Chinese Buddhist hermit’s way of life led him to research and write about them. Meanwhile he continued to be drawn to Zen Buddhism. It reinforced his fascination with Stonehouse, this great Tang Dynasty poet , who was himself a Zen Master and a hermit! Bill Porter was drawn to Zen Buddhism because it seeks to free the mind from concepts,languages and attachments. Buddhist Zen hermits especially attracted his attention because they were committed to living in isolation to meditate, which is the real essence of Zen Buddhism .

    Bill Porter is a fascinating and inspiring person. His passion to explore the truth stripped of any facade, has led him on a journey of searching and researching and writing about it. His works show his love of the Chinese language, the culture and the history. He writes with commitment to accuracy.

  16. Sock Wan on Jan 12, 2017 at 7:07 pm

    Bill Porter is so impressive! He is not a Chinese but has put in so much time and effort try to understand Chinese culture and language and bring it to people all around the world. He is very passionate of his works, despite financial difficulty, he continues to do what he likes, he never gives up. Another thing that strikes me is that he had realised very early in his life how wealth would not help him in finding the meaning of life or making him happier. How many of us actually have this kind of realisation if we were born in a wealthy environment? I like his persistence, perseverance and passion, he won’t achieve what he has so far without all these qualities.

  17. justin on Jan 11, 2017 at 9:06 pm

    I believe he is a firm believer of Buddhism and was very keen to explore. The fact that he saw many lives were taken away from war during his stint as a medical personnel during war time. He must have seen it all and came to a realisation that he should make more effort into helping people finding answers in life.

    His tenacity is there for everyone to read. His works are apparent spanning 30 over years of in depth studies of Buddhism. There was one line that particularly touched me. He applied for grants from Guggenheim Foundation and got rejected for 7 consecutive times which says a lot about himself really. He took up Chinese language and another breathtaking thing that he did was being so expert in Chinese language till he can translate it out back to English.

    He is one real master for me.

  18. Echeah on Jan 9, 2017 at 12:42 am

    It goes to show that life is full of twist and turns. We can make the best of plans, firmest objectives, study in the supposed chosen field, embark on the relevant profession. Then as life unravels itself, you find that you lose conviction in your earlier plans and then decide you no longer want to do what you had set out to do. You change courses and sometimes the same scenario keeps repeating itself and life seems rudderless.

    Then you find your niche and happily pursue it thinking that would be the last, until you begin to get tired of it again and want out. I believe that’s the story of many people’s lives. People change, situations change, needs change. I suppose that only thing that’s constant is change.

    Life can be directionless until you stumble on something and you find real purpose.

  19. Datuk May on Jan 7, 2017 at 6:18 pm

    Bill Porter is an artist, one who follows his heart to something which is passionate for him, although initially, he did not totally grasp what he was going after.

    However if you read between the lines, his imprint was to learn Buddhism and to do so was to learn the Chinese language. Chinese is a very daunting language to master, and it is with perseverance and hard work that Bill Porter succeeded.

    All his works are inspirational, as a foreigner to translate works of poetry and Buddhism from Chinese to English.

    What I get to be best lesson from Bill Porter is that he realised to be effective in his translation is not to get a “word for word” translation but rather to completing understand the contents and context of the writing and from there to have the translation done.

    It is good to learn that because Bill Porter Zen Buddhism can be understood both by Chinese and English language readers. What a benefit to others.

  20. Fong on Jan 7, 2017 at 12:57 am

    A man connected to dharma in ways not fully understood by himself. But, at the end of the day, he did what he loved most which is translating dharma works. And, now he has benefited many with his translation.

    And, he finally managed to provide for his family from his writings. So, if you create the merits by doing virtuous work, you reap its rewards.

    Thank you for this sharing.

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  • Alice Tay
    Tuesday, Apr 25. 2017 04:26 PM
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Adeline sharing this interesting post about Bodhidharma, a great master favoured meditation and introduced the Lankavatara Sutra to Chinese Buddhism.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Han Nee for this article.

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

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/science-mysteries/interesting-signs-of-reincarnation.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Sunday, Apr 23. 2017 08:29 PM
    Thank you Rinpoche for your teachings.
    Always be generous and kind in what ever we could do even its little help.It’s the little things in life that bring the greatest happiness. Its between us and our Buddha ,so we would not bother what the receipient thinks and say of us. What ever was said ,should not deter our motivation to do Dharma work.
    (It will change people’s lives in one way or another. It will change your life for the better.)….well said by Rinpoche.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/its-not-between-you-and-the-recipient.html
  • Lin Mun
    Sunday, Apr 23. 2017 07:16 PM
    Thank you Grace for this interesting articles about hair. There are just so much info which we do not know previously. Most of the time we may neglect the details, thinking as long as we clean our hair everyday it is sufficient. But there are so many things we need to know for example types of hair, scalp condition, our environment and our physical condition which may affect our hair. Great tips.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/guest-contributors/how-much-do-you-know-about-hair.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Sunday, Apr 23. 2017 03:31 PM
    Amazing miracles……….its show that the practice of Dorje Shugden is so powerful and will help whoever needs help regardless of race and religIon, far or near as long we have faith and trust. Dorje Shugden is an emanation of Manjushri , arose to protect the teachings of Lama Tsongkhapa. Dorje Shugden helps us to purify our own negative karma and clearing o bstacles .It is a very beneficial practice and we can in turn to help our friends and people in need.
    The two stories told by Datuk May was one of those miracles that Dorje Shugden has helped.
    Thank you Datuk May for sharing these amazing miracles.
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/guest-contributors/%EF%BB%BF%EF%BB%BFdorje-shugden-miracles.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Sunday, Apr 23. 2017 12:19 PM
    Well i do not have much knowledge obout hair till i read these imformative article.Thank you Ms Grace Leong,,,i do enjoyed reading it as i learned some knowledge from it at least i could know what hair type i do have and taking caring of it.Very useful tips too.
    Yes it true,most of us spend more time and money on our face and less on our hair. With your useful tips ,i am sure more people will be taking care of their hair and scalp too .
    Thank again Ms Grace Leong for sharing
    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/guest-contributors/how-much-do-you-know-about-hair.html
  • Valentina Suhendra
    Sunday, Apr 23. 2017 09:20 AM
    Pig Slaughter

    When you watch how the poor pig cried for his life in this article’s video, you will understand that animals have feeling too. None of them are willing to be slaughtered to satisfy our taste buds. Please be kind to animals and be vegetarian.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/pig-slaughter.html
  • Tsem Rinpoche
    Sunday, Apr 23. 2017 03:33 AM
    This is a powerful movie. The Tillerman siblings are forced to fend for themselves when they are abandoned by their mother in the parking lot of a shopping mall. Heart wrenching to see. Abandonment is very hard and affects you for the rest of your life. They eventually meet their grandmother (Anne Bancroft), a loner who is reluctant to take them in. The acting is excellent. The plot was powerful. The struggles are believable. The ending was beautiful and everyone should have a good ending. Must watch this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=yN6HQGHVYaA
  • Jason
    Sunday, Apr 23. 2017 02:28 AM
    Dorje Shugden( DS)is World Peace Dharma Protector and he is emanation of Manjushri (Buddha of Wisdom). DS always help anyone to clear inner or outer obstacles in order for us to have a conducive environment to practice Dharma.
    From above miracles cases, we can see that DS really compassion to help layman in samsara to overcome problems or difficulties.
    In return to DS, we must practice Dharma to nurture or cultivate wisdom and compassion to benefits more people.
    Thanks Datum May for sharing her own experiences to us.

    Jason

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/guest-contributors/%EF%BB%BF%EF%BB%BFdorje-shugden-miracles.html
  • Stella Cheang
    Saturday, Apr 22. 2017 04:07 PM
    Thank you, Nicholas, for sharing with us how you started with Kechara. It is very inspiring to learn that Nicholas started volunteering at KSK, no doubt being nudged to do so, but it was with noble and unconditional intention and had gone all the way since then.

    Each and every one of us has unique affinity, hence, different preference in setting our foot out of our comfort zone to start benefitting others. It is because of this reason; Rinpoche initiated many departments so that people with different preference can find an area that calls out to them.

    I hope more people will volunteer their time for a cause, it not only make our life more meaningful but also expand our horizon as well as benefit many people along the way.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/kechara-soup-kitchen-ksk/my-first-time-volunteering-in-kechara.html
  • Lin Mun
    Saturday, Apr 22. 2017 02:51 PM
    It is indeed difficult when a person loss his/her pet. It is never easy because for many pet owners they don’t treat their dog/cat literally but as part of their family. Especially for dog and their nature, they are so loyal and the bonding with human is very strong. Hence, it is understandable that pet owners will grieve over the death of their dog. Every pet owners will mourn or grieve at different extent. As family member and friends we should understand the situation and extend our assistance to comfort them.

    http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/why-losing-a-dog-can-be-harder-than-losing-a-relative-or-friend.html

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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

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Holy Lady Buddha Vajra Yogini\'s blessing can be found when we decide to focus out to others instead of in to only ourselves.
~ Tsem Tulku Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
Holy Lady Buddha Vajra Yogini's blessing can be found when we decide to focus out to others instead of in to only ourselves. ~ Tsem Tulku Rinpoche
His Holiness Vajradhara Kyabje Zong Rinpoche of Gaden Monastery who is the refuge of countless, gives a clear explanation of Dorje Shugden. One is able to hear his holy voice and translation by Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen! Please see here and share: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=122352
2 weeks ago
His Holiness Vajradhara Kyabje Zong Rinpoche of Gaden Monastery who is the refuge of countless, gives a clear explanation of Dorje Shugden. One is able to hear his holy voice and translation by Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen! Please see here and share: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=122352
: This picture says it all. Click on it to enlarge and read and please share.
2 weeks ago
: This picture says it all. Click on it to enlarge and read and please share.
This is a simple chart showing the three main psychic channels used in tantric meditations to control the winds, raise tummo (fire energy), gain higher consciousness and insight and also for gaining siddhis. These channels are used in meditations for controlling the mind, when the mind ejects from the body (phowa) and one\'s death. These three channels are very important. Tsem Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
This is a simple chart showing the three main psychic channels used in tantric meditations to control the winds, raise tummo (fire energy), gain higher consciousness and insight and also for gaining siddhis. These channels are used in meditations for controlling the mind, when the mind ejects from the body (phowa) and one's death. These three channels are very important. Tsem Rinpoche
I think my cute doggie Oser is actually Tintin\'s dog Snowy!
2 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.
2 weeks ago
Great Masters of Gaden Shartse Monastery. From left to right: His Eminence Kensur Jampa Yeshe Rinpoche, His Holiness Sharpa Choeje Jetsun Lobsang Nyima, H.E. Kyabje Zemey Rinpoche, H.E. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche, His Holiness 101st Gaden Tripa throne holder Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal.
 Left to right: Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl. The three of them are my beautiful and loved Schnauzer dogs. They loved looking through the window to see traffic, people and movement. They loved the smells that drifted through their little noses. I love seeing the three of them together like this. I love them. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Left to right: Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl. The three of them are my beautiful and loved Schnauzer dogs. They loved looking through the window to see traffic, people and movement. They loved the smells that drifted through their little noses. I love seeing the three of them together like this. I love them. Tsem Rinpoche
Little Mumu boy...he loved balloons. When he saw them, he wanted to get close and perhaps bite them. Cute. I love this picture of Mumu reaching for the balloons. He was young and healthy! This picture captures his energy, enthusiasm, curiosity and high energy. I love this picture of him chasing the balloons. His pictures are always so nice....He was not a pet but family to me. I love him tremendously and always will. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Little Mumu boy...he loved balloons. When he saw them, he wanted to get close and perhaps bite them. Cute. I love this picture of Mumu reaching for the balloons. He was young and healthy! This picture captures his energy, enthusiasm, curiosity and high energy. I love this picture of him chasing the balloons. His pictures are always so nice....He was not a pet but family to me. I love him tremendously and always will. Tsem Rinpoche
Little Mumu boy and myself.. He was not a pet but family to me. I love him tremendously and always will. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Little Mumu boy and myself.. He was not a pet but family to me. I love him tremendously and always will. Tsem Rinpoche
2017-His Holiness the 101st Gaden Tripa, Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal is doing well and 90 years old. His Holiness Lungrik Namgyal is a powerful master of sutra and tantra and practitioner of Dorje Shugden. Currently residing in France.
3 weeks ago
2017-His Holiness the 101st Gaden Tripa, Jetsun Lungrik Namgyal is doing well and 90 years old. His Holiness Lungrik Namgyal is a powerful master of sutra and tantra and practitioner of Dorje Shugden. Currently residing in France.
One of the most sacred statues of Avalokitesvara made of sandalwood housed in Lhasa, Tibet. He has shown miracles also. Every pilgrim wishes to make offerings to this Lord of Compassion.
3 weeks ago
One of the most sacred statues of Avalokitesvara made of sandalwood housed in Lhasa, Tibet. He has shown miracles also. Every pilgrim wishes to make offerings to this Lord of Compassion.
 Sacred Avalokitesvara statue in Nepal. Thousands come to worship this special Buddha as it has conferred wishes in the past.
3 weeks ago
Sacred Avalokitesvara statue in Nepal. Thousands come to worship this special Buddha as it has conferred wishes in the past.
Tsem Rinpoche\'s Vajra Yogini statue and offerings
3 weeks ago
Tsem Rinpoche's Vajra Yogini statue and offerings
Two of my teachers from Gaden Shartse Monastery in South India. Left side is Most Venerable Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen whom I lived with for 8 years in Los Angeles where his centre Thubten Dhargye Ling is located. On the right is the abbot emeritus H.E. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche the scholar and yogi. I was very fortunate to have them in my life and learn so much dharma from them. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Two of my teachers from Gaden Shartse Monastery in South India. Left side is Most Venerable Geshe Tsultrim Gyeltsen whom I lived with for 8 years in Los Angeles where his centre Thubten Dhargye Ling is located. On the right is the abbot emeritus H.E. Kyabje Lati Rinpoche the scholar and yogi. I was very fortunate to have them in my life and learn so much dharma from them. Tsem Rinpoche
 It is so wonderful to be kind to people, be caring, feed them, make sure they are healthy and share dharma if they are interested with them for their future. But simply to be nice to others is worth getting up and being alive...otherwise why be alive to hurt/use/distrust and hate others? No point living that way..must change that..... It is nice to live our lives to benefit others and be patient even if we have been hurt before because by caring we can heal the hurt and \'defeat\' the ones that hurt us because we don\'t become bitter..... Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
It is so wonderful to be kind to people, be caring, feed them, make sure they are healthy and share dharma if they are interested with them for their future. But simply to be nice to others is worth getting up and being alive...otherwise why be alive to hurt/use/distrust and hate others? No point living that way..must change that..... It is nice to live our lives to benefit others and be patient even if we have been hurt before because by caring we can heal the hurt and 'defeat' the ones that hurt us because we don't become bitter..... Tsem Rinpoche
Tsem Rinpoche\'s heritage in China. Must read: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=120499
3 weeks ago
Tsem Rinpoche's heritage in China. Must read: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=120499
Thank you Buddhist Pastor Chia for sharing your story on how you met His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche over 20 years ago. We can learn much from your story.~Admin  Please read: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=116928
3 weeks ago
Thank you Buddhist Pastor Chia for sharing your story on how you met His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche over 20 years ago. We can learn much from your story.~Admin Please read: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=116928
Mumu boy is incredibly photogenic. He is beyond cute. Tsem Rinpoche
3 weeks ago
Mumu boy is incredibly photogenic. He is beyond cute. Tsem Rinpoche
 (left to right) Rabten Tulku, Gonsar Rinpoche, Gyume Kensur Rinpoche, Trijang Rinpoche, H.H. Gaden Trisur Rinpoche (France)
3 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.
4 weeks 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 weeks 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 weeks 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 weeks 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
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
3 months ago
This is a good one to read
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ASK A PASTOR


Ask the Pastors

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

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

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

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