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

By | Jan 6, 2017 | Views: 1,024
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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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  • Pastor Shin Tan
    Monday, Mar 27. 2017 06:42 PM
    According to the Buddhist teachings, we all have a unique blend of karma that determines where we are born, the circumstances of our birth and the quality of our life. Naturally, this is due to the actions that we performed in previous lives. Karma also dictates our characteristics and traits that determine how we act throughout our lives, which in turn leads to certain outcomes in this life and a determination of where we will take rebirth in the future.

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

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

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


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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this article.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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CREDITS

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

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

Tsem Rinpoche

What Am I Writing Now

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  Bigfoot, Yeti, Sasquatch

The Unknown

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

Photos On The Go

Click on the images to view the bigger version. And scroll down and click on "View All Photos" to view more images.
This mahasiddha Kukkuripa is easy to identify as he is accompanied by a small dog whom he loved very much.
13 hours 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
15 hours 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
15 hours 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
15 hours 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 week ago
Click on picture to enlarge and see what Milarepa says. Profound.
We are always trying to get somewhere, try something new, find some friends, get some entertainment and in the end we end up in the same place. Time to really practice Dharma seriously and stop wasting time we don\'t have. ~Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
We are always trying to get somewhere, try something new, find some friends, get some entertainment and in the end we end up in the same place. Time to really practice Dharma seriously and stop wasting time we don't have. ~Tsem Rinpoche
March 20, 2017-Mumu is just so adorable with his bright eyes.
1 week ago
March 20, 2017-Mumu is just so adorable with his bright eyes.
More and more people inviting Lord Dorje Shugden home to connect with on their shrines. I am so happy to see this as it will benefit them and their families so much. That is the purpose to be alive which is to benefit others as much as possible. Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
More and more people inviting Lord Dorje Shugden home to connect with on their shrines. I am so happy to see this as it will benefit them and their families so much. That is the purpose to be alive which is to benefit others as much as possible. Tsem Rinpoche
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
1 week ago
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
1 week ago
His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche is a good sport watching his students do Halloween drag costumes for a charity show. Funny!
The Japanese are very innovative. Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
The Japanese are very innovative. Tsem Rinpoche
Read this as it will be interesting
1 week ago
Read this as it will be interesting
Recite this before any meal or drinks for blessings of abundance. Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
Recite this before any meal or drinks for blessings of abundance. Tsem Rinpoche
This sacred statue of Buddha is in Nepal brought originally from Tibet and has spoken on many occasions. Very blessed to see this holy image and keep a picture...bless you always. Tsem Rinpoche
1 week ago
This sacred statue of Buddha is in Nepal brought originally from Tibet and has spoken on many occasions. Very blessed to see this holy image and keep a picture...bless you always. Tsem Rinpoche
I love Mumu boy tremendously. We went through so much together for so many years. You are a great being to be with. Tsem Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
I love Mumu boy tremendously. We went through so much together for so many years. You are a great being to be with. Tsem Rinpoche
Dear everyone, I am sharing this beautiful and modern altar to Dorje Shugden in Malaysia. I am glad to see more and more people creating sacred spaces. Tsem Rinpoche
2 weeks ago
Dear everyone, I am sharing this beautiful and modern altar to Dorje Shugden in Malaysia. I am glad to see more and more people creating sacred spaces. Tsem Rinpoche
Lhamo Karmo, a female buddha form visualized above the crown of one\'s head at the time of death, to encourage consciousness to leave the body via the crown aperture. From my book \"The Female Buddhas.\"- Glenn Mullin
3 weeks ago
Lhamo Karmo, a female buddha form visualized above the crown of one's head at the time of death, to encourage consciousness to leave the body via the crown aperture. From my book "The Female Buddhas."- Glenn Mullin
The Tibetan female tulku Dorje Pakmo, from a fresco on the wall of the Dorje Pakmo monastery (Samding) in Tibet, near the Turquoise Lake. In Tibet the Dorje Pakmo was ranked with the Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and Sakya Trizin as the four highest lamas in the country.-from Glenn Mullin
3 weeks ago
The Tibetan female tulku Dorje Pakmo, from a fresco on the wall of the Dorje Pakmo monastery (Samding) in Tibet, near the Turquoise Lake. In Tibet the Dorje Pakmo was ranked with the Dalai Lama, Panchen Lama and Sakya Trizin as the four highest lamas in the country.-from Glenn Mullin
Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl checking out the scene..cute
4 weeks ago
Dharma boy, Mumu boy and Oser girl checking out the scene..cute
My Dharma boy has such a cute expression here. He is a good boy!
4 weeks ago
My Dharma boy has such a cute expression here. He is a good boy!
February 9,2017-My Mumu boy and Oser girl are just relaxing together..super cute
2 months ago
February 9,2017-My Mumu boy and Oser girl are just relaxing together..super cute
Click on the picture to enlarge and see what Suzy from Hawaii commented on the Dorje Shugden issue after much research. She is very candid and honest. Refreshing. Original is posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl-4lIwxph4
2 months ago
Click on the picture to enlarge and see what Suzy from Hawaii commented on the Dorje Shugden issue after much research. She is very candid and honest. Refreshing. Original is posted here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Vl-4lIwxph4
This is a good one to read
2 months ago
This is a good one to read
Mumu is silly and cute and funny
2 months ago
Mumu is silly and cute and funny
Mumu\'s hair is messy and he looks funny
2 months ago
Mumu's hair is messy and he looks funny
I am in the process of creating beautiful Dorje Shugden and Kechara Forest Retreat watches at this time. So we can take precious protector and Kechara Forest Retreat wherever we go and be blessed everytime we see what time it is. 
I am perfecting the designs with a great team and will update when done but these are just some samples that arrived. 
Feast your eyes! 

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

Videos On The Go

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

ASK A PASTOR


Ask the Pastors

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

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

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

  • March 27, 2017 04:19
    Dongho asked: I have been reading on the tunes of certain sects and would like to ask on this. From what I've read, there are certain tunes to each sect and school of certain chants. Exactly where can I find the sheet music for these percussion and horns with the chants, such as to the one for invoking Kache Marpo or Dorje Shugden? Would it be possible to use school instruments for this?
    No reply yet
  • March 26, 2017 02:14
    Kunga asked: Does the Gelug have Begtse a protector? If so, could you please provide a sadhana for him here?
    pastor answered: Dear Kunga, Yes the Dharma protector Begtse exists within the Gelug tradition. He is also known as Chamsing. Begtse’s practice stems from India and was introduced to Tibet and therefore Tibetan Buddhism by the translator Nyen Lotsawa. Marpa Lotsawa also practiced Begtse, and so the practice exists in the Kagyu traditions. This practice was eventually transmitted to Sachen Kunga Nyingpo, the first of the five patriarchs of the Sakya tradition, who were the founding fathers of that tradition. Over time the practice of Begtse was incorporated into the Gelug tradition, founded by Lama Tsongkhapa, and was notably practiced by the 1st and 2nd Dalai Lamas. Over time the practice gained popularity within the lineage, especially when it spread to Mongolia. There the practice became an important one within the lineage as upheld there. Begtse is also affectionately known as the Dharma protector of Mongolia, because his practice is so popular there. If I am not mistaken, there is an oracle of Begtse in Mongolia as well. There is a mistaken account that the practice originated around the time of the 3rd Dalai Lama, with the subjugation of a Mongolian war god, but Begtse was definitely practiced before that time in the Gelug, Kagyu and Sakya traditions. While the practice of Begtse is very effective, I have not come across the practice of Begtse in my personal practice, therefore I do not have access to the Begtse sadhana to provide to you. Instead Begtse is propitiated in prayers that incorporate many other Dharma protectors, and Begtse is also considered one of the nine protectors of the Hayagriva (Tamdrin) cycle of tantric teachings. Therefore Begtse is included in the Dharma protector sections of the Hayagriva tantras. Surrounding Begtse are his sister, Sing Ma, and his main minister, Le Khan Mar Po. His inner retinue comprises of eight butchers who wield copper swords in their right hands and skull-cups full of blood in their left hands. They are portrayed as naked and are very ugly. His outer retinue comprises a further twenty-one butchers, who hold copper swords in their right hands, and this time, the entrails of butchered enemies. They wear the skins humans and oxen as clothes, with ornaments made from human bone. While this may seem violent, Begtse is actually a very powerful and beneficial protector, who helps practitioners clear their obstacles and create conducive conditions for their spiritual evolution. I hope this helps. Thank you.
  • March 24, 2017 20:12
    Azair asked: Venerable Rinpoche, I am doing a study in Kalachakra Tantra and I've heard from most of the lama's too that if you practice the Kalachakra Tantra, you'll be able to take control of your next rebirth. Ofcourse, it has been said that we will get our rebirth according to our Karma and desires but whether those dreams will get fulfilled will depend upon the actions that we take in this life. Thus, practicing the Kalachakra(till the end) after initiation will give you the opportunity to take rebirth anywhere you desire regardless of your Karma. My question is that, is there some truth in this statement.? Does this statement hold true for other tantra practices, such as Vajrayogini Tantra, Ghuyasamaja Tantra, Heruka Tantra, etc. I would really really like to know. Thankyou in anticipation, regards, Azair
    pastor answered: Dear Azair, Thank you for your question. Yes there is truth to this statement, both from a scriptural perspective and also by example, as the great masters have shown us. This is a unique feature of all Anuttarayoga Tantras or Highest Yoga Tantras, which Kalachakra, Vajrayogini, Guhyasama and Heruka are all examples of. This category of tantric practice can actually lead a practitioner to full enlightenment in this very lifetime. Even if enlightenment is not reached, very high levels of attainment can be reached nonetheless. This includes the ability to take control over your next rebirth. This is primarily engaged in so that the practitioner is born in an environment where they can eventually pick up their practice and further their spiritual path to enlightenment, or in order to be born in a place where they can benefit sentient beings the most, as part of the spiritual journey over many lifetimes. One of the reasons such an ability is very necessary on the spiritual path, is that usual death and rebirth occurs at the mercy of ones karma, specifically what is known as the ‘throwing karma’ or the karma that dictates what sort of rebirth a person is going to take. This opens up at the time of ordinary death, which most people have no control over. During the death process, many of our disturbing emotions will arise. Whichever of these is the strongest at the point of death triggers open a latent karmic potential, which becomes the ‘throwing karma’ and dictates where we are going to take rebirth and if that life will generally be full of suffering or not. Within Anuttarayoga Tantra, one of the key points of practice is to prepare for one’s death. This is done by simulating the dying process during one’s meditations, so that one becomes familiar with it. At the most pivotal part of this process, one practices achieving either the rainbow body or great bliss (in the case of the father tantras); or clear light (in the case of mother tantras). The tantras themselves are not defined in terms of the gender of the central deity, but by the method used to gain enlightenment. This is either the rainbow body/great bliss (classified as male, therefore labelled ‘father’) or clear light (classified as female, therefore labelled ‘mother’). Non-dual tantras such as the Kalachakra tantra can employ either of the two methods, a mixture of both, or alternate methods. In the case of superior practitioners, due to the power of their practice, they can achieve either of these two methods in their current body. Since they have familiarised themselves with the dying process, and a particular method of practice, they can also achieve enlightenment during their physical death. The great Lama Tsongkhapa is said to have achieved enlightenment at the moment of physical death, using the second of these. For other practitioners, they may not be able to achieve this either in their meditations while they are alive, or during the death process. However because they have familiarised themselves with the dying process, they remain in complete concentration at the time of death, not allowing any disturbing emotions to arise. Due to this level of concentration, meditation and awareness during the dying process, they are able to control where they next take rebirth. This is evident in the tantric scriptures themselves, and the life stories of many masters, who can state exactly where, when and to whom they will take their next rebirth, as they are in full control of the dying and rebirth process. There is a type of meditation called ‘thukdam’ which has been translated into ‘death meditation’. This is a final meditation some masters choose to engage in. During this meditation, the master themselves consciously begin the physical dying process themselves, engage in the meditation of dissolving the winds into the heart centre and remain in the most pivotal part of the death process, the mind of clear light of death. During this point they engage in meditations, either the methods of the father or mother tantras as mentioned previously, and or consciously choose where they are to next take rebirth. They can remain in this death meditation for long periods of time, days at an end, in which their consciousness has not yet left their body, although for all intents and purposes they are dead according to medical science, e.g. they have no heartbeat. At the end of their meditation, a drop of blood will be emitted from their nostril, and their head will slump over a little. Masters who engage in this meditation usually sit in full meditation posture, and their body remain supple and soft even though they have passed away from a medical point of view. I hope this brief explanation helps. Thank you.
  • March 23, 2017 23:01
    Brad asked: What is the significance of offering the Seven precious emblems of royalty to the Buddhas and enlightened Dharma Protectors? What are we symbolically offering up?
    pastor answered: Dear Brad, Thank you for your question. The ‘saptaratna’ or seven precious emblems represent on the one hand the ultimate state of temporal power, and on the other hand the ultimate spiritual attainments that we can achieve. By offering these to the Buddhas, we are actually creating the causes to achieve what they represent. Therefore it is good to know the meaning of each, so we can understand what we are creating the causes for by offering them up: Please see below for an explanation of the seven royal emblems: 1. The Precious Wheel: a thousand spoked wheel, representing the universal power of the Buddhas, as well as the teachings of the thousand Buddhas of our aeon. It is represented by the Dharmachakra, symbolising the ‘turning of the wheel’ or teaching of the Noble Eightfold Path. It is a symbol of a universal emperor’s spiritual and temporal power. It is also represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect mindfulness, especially that of our own mind, thoughts, delusions and afflictions. 2. The Precious Jewel: an eight sided wish-granting gem, which fulfils all the needs of a universal emperor. This jewel has eight special qualities: it illuminates the night sky for hundreds of leagues; it is cooling when the temperature is hot and warming when the temperature is cold; it makes manifest whatever the holder wants; when thirsty it causes a fresh-water spring to appear; it has the ability to control the nagas, and other supernatural beings, as well as preventing natural disasters such as storms, floods, etc.; it gives off multi-coloured lighted which heals the various mental and emotional afflictions; it cures all illnesses; and it ensures that one dies a natural death, not an untimely one. It is a symbol of a universal emperor’s spiritual and temporal power. It is also represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect mindfulness, or perfect discrimination, so one knows what to abandon and what to keep in the mindstream during the spiritual journey to enlightenment. 3. The Precious Queen: the most beautiful and virtuous of all women. She is described as a goddess who is the epitome of someone: with devotion; without jealousy; who is the embodiment of fertility; who works for the welfare of all beings; who possess feminine wisdom; speaks the truth; not attract to sensual pleasures or material possessions; and does not have false views. She is adored by all. She also represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect effort. This is necessary to keep meditating until one gains spiritual attainments. 4. The Precious Minister: who has sharp intelligence, patience, and the ability to give wise counsel to the emperor. He is so attuned to the emperor that even before the emperor has spoken, the minister is already carrying out his command. He only wishes to support the Dharma, help sentient beings, and is an excellent strategist. He also represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect joy. This is also akin to the attainment of the first bodhisattva level, because you have come to an understanding of your own mind, which is like pouring ice-cold water into boiling water. The water stops boiling, as does the thoughts, projections, and delusions in the mind. He represents the path of the bodhisattva. 5. The Precious Elephant: who has the strength of a thousand normal elephants. He is white, with the perfect features that an elephant could have. He is majestic, graceful, and gentle, but in battle is fearsome, fearless and unyielding. He communicates with the emperor through a telepathic link. He represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect adaptability. This is important, as one needs to be able to adapt to the various mental afflictions as they arise, and suitably counter them. 6. The Precious Horse: who has all the marks of a celestial horse. Known as wind-horse, he is able to travel extremely fast, and can circumambulate the entire universe three time in just a single day. He is never fearful or startled, never makes a sound when galloping, and has extremely soft hairs on his body. He represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is single-pointed concentration. This is important because without this form of concentration, once cannot engage in the analytical meditations that lead to an understanding of emptiness, and therefore enlightenment. 7. The Precious General: who has mastered the arts of war and always wins in battle. He wears battle armour and holds many different weapons. He tries to avoid battle, but when necessary fights, and never gives up until he has won. He is fearless, and courageous in carrying out the emperors commands and ensures the emperors army carries out their duties. He represents one of the factors of enlightenment, which is perfect equanimity. This is because he overcomes all warfare, which is akin to the battle between things were are attached to and things we have an aversion for in our minds. In short, what you are offering up is the highest of all temporal treasures and abilities, as well as the entire path of the Dharma. Doing so creates the causes for you to receive all of this on your spiritual journey towards enlightenment. I hope this helps. Thank you.
  • March 20, 2017 10:16
    Grigoris asked: Excuse me, but I would like to ask, what does the prayer to Shangmo Dorje Putri say exactly? I can't read Tibetan, but would like to see the description that the prayer gives. I am not planning to say the prayer or make interaction(as it would be very dangerous), but would like to see what it actually says from the Tibetan text. Here's the link: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/shangmo-dorje-putri-the-bamo-of-sakya.html
    pastor answered: Dear Grigoris, Thank you for your question. Shangmo Dorje Putri is indeed a fascinating unenlightened Dharma protector. Unfortunately at the moment, we do not have a translated copy of the text in English that we can provide. The usual format for such texts, would include an invocation, making offerings to appease them, and then exhortations for them to perform their activities, possibly followed by thanking them for their help. One thing is for certain, due to the nature of Shangmo Dorje Putri her prayer is sure to include violent imagery, just like many other Dharma protectors, such as Achi Chokyi Drolma (who even though has a peaceful appearance, has a lot of violent imagery in her prayers). The reason behind the violent imagery is explained in the post about Achi Chokyi Drolma here: http://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/achi-chokyi-drolma-chief-protectress-of-the-drikung-kagyu.html
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