Master Hongyi – The Maverick Patriarch of the Chinese Buddhism

By | Sep 16, 2022 | Views: 144

HY000
(By Tsem Rinpoche and Pastor Adeline Woon)

It’s intolerable to see
The continual endless suffering
Of all living beings
[When its source is their delusion];
And it’s unbearable to witness
The Sage’s teaching in decline
[Where it once was well established
For over a millennia].

– – –

Outside the long pavilion walkway,
Along both sides of an old path,
There grow the most fragrant wild grasses
Whose vivid green blends into the sky.
[It’s always there to teach
And ready to be realized,
With sound,
With no sound.]

– – –

While the evening wind chases a flute’s song,
The setting sun slowly turns away…
Within the wide expanse of sky,
And all corners of the earth,
Who truly encounters another?
[Without saying a word,
By just ringing a bell,
They naturally
Understand each other.]

 

Introduction

A portrait of Master Hongyi

A portrait of Master Hongyi

The history of Buddhism is the history of virtuous individuals who have connected with and explored the Three Jewels – the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. They have come from all walks of life; from commoners to royalty, artists to scientists, and nameless wanderers to renowned achievers.

Despite their differences, they are bound by the ancient profound wisdom of the Buddha and the noble character of Dharma.

And while many have developed an appreciation for the Three Jewels, rarer still are those who have taken the selfless step of completely renouncing secular life and joining the Sangha order, spending their lives achieving the Truth. One such person was Master Hongyi.

Born into a wealthy and illustrious family, Master Hongyi made a name for himself as an especially gifted artist. At the peak of his artistic and personal life, he renounced the material world and embraced the robes of an ordained Buddhist monk.

Master Hongyi dedicated the rest of his life to Buddhist practice and became one of the most prominent monks of 20th Century China.

The well-known adherent of the Vinaya path of Chinese Buddhism tradition, Master Hongyi

The well-known adherent of the Vinaya path of Chinese Buddhism tradition, Master Hongyi

He was a well-known adherent of the Vinaya path of Chinese Buddhism tradition, a talented multi-disciplinary artist and a charismatic teacher. Although he was also called Wentao (文涛), Guanghou (广侯) and Shutong (叔同), Hongyi (弘一) is the name by which he is most commonly known.

Master Hongyi was a master of painting, calligraphy, music, drama, song writing, acting, poetry and seal-carving. His early life, when he was known as Li Shutong, coincided with what is often referred to as China’s ‘transitional period’ between the 1890s to 1911, which saw the collapse of China’s last imperial dynasty.

This ‘transitional period’ was also marked by the rise to prominence of reformers who emphasised the social and political relevance of culture. Their goal was to reform the nation through the expression of Chinese culture through reimagined lens.

 

Life as Li Shutong, Master of Arts

Li Shutong in his youth. After becoming ordained as a monk, he took the name Hongyi.

Li Shutong in his youth. After becoming ordained as a monk, he took the name Hongyi.

Master Hongyi (弘一大师, October 23, 1880 – October 13, 1942) was born Li Shutong (李叔同) to wealthy parents in the northern commercial city of Tianjin. The well-educated family was originally from Hongdong County, Shanxi and had migrated to Tianjin during the Ming Dynasty.

Li Shutong’s grandfather was a wealthy banker and salt merchant while his father, Li Shizhen (李世珍), was a scholar and devoted reader of Chan Buddhism and the works of Ming Neo-Confucian thinker, Wang Yangming (1472-1529).

His mother had a much simpler upbringing – she was a farmer’s daughter from Pinghu in Zhejiang Province. She was his father’s fourth wife in the multi-courtyard household, and was only 20 when he was born; his father was 68.

Master Hongyi’s father passed away when he was just four. Living under her eldest son’s roof, his mother struggled to maintain her position while navigating the complicated dynamics of the household. Li Shutong, however, was fortunate that two of his elder half-brothers took him under their wing in his early years. He was able to receive a good education and a solid grounding in the Confucian classics.

The young Li Shutong mastered the art of calligraphy and after his ordination as Master Hongyi, he continued to engage in this artistic tradition. This calligraphy, produced during the period of his life when he was known as Master Hongyi, reads from right to left

The young Li Shutong mastered the art of calligraphy and after his ordination as Master Hongyi, he continued to engage in this artistic tradition. This calligraphy, produced during the period of his life when he was known as Master Hongyi, reads from right to left “Zijing Qixin” (自净其意). It means “to cleanse one’s mind” and is an extract from a famous verse.

Li Shutong exhibited precocious intelligence and talent, and became exceptionally good at calligraphy, seal-carving and poetry. He also displayed an early preoccupation with religion, memorising ritual texts recited by Buddhist monks at family memorial services.

“When I was only five years old,” he wrote in an essay published in 1937, “I often met monks and many of them performed religious services at our home. By the time I was 12 or 13, I could already recite rituals of exorcism.”

Although there were clear signs that Li Shutong was inclined towards study and contemplating Buddhist philosophy before he was ordained, he was by no means a hermit or a recluse. In 1897, when he was only 17, he was wedded to a girl older than him by two years in a marriage arranged by his mother.

1905年,弘一大师(李叔同)赴日留学前,在天津自宅与其兄下围棋留影。左为弘一大师。

This rare picture was taken in 1905. Li Shutong (left) is seen here playing chess with his elder brother (right) at their Tianjin home before he left to Japan to further his studies.

It was a loveless marriage that Li Shutong did not enjoy. The couple had three sons together, the eldest of whom passed away at a young age.

Li Shutong took part in various political reform movements during his teenage years, and the volatility of the political environment compelled him to move in 1898 to the relative safety of Shanghai with his family.

In 1901, he enrolled at Nanyang Public School, which would later be known as Jiaotong University. Li had joined the Union of Shanghai Calligraphers and Painters the year before, and it served to showcase his prodigious talents in calligraphy, literature and painting. His reputation spread not only for his creative accomplishments but also for a love affair with a famous Shanghai beauty Xie Qiuyun (谢秋云), to whom he wrote this poem:

Recalling my frivolous past,
I regret indulging myself in sensual pleasure…

japanese

Li Shutong during his time in Japan, when he studied at the Tokyo School of Fine Arts.

Li Shutong used many pen names throughout his life, choosing a new one whenever a particularly momentous event occurred. When his mother passed away in 1905, Li Shutong changed his name to Li Ao (“Li who mourns for his mother”) and left for Japan, where he was already very well-known.

At the Tokyo School of Fine Arts in Ueno Park, Li studied Western oil painting under a leading Japanese oil painter, Kuroda Seiki (1866-1924). He also studied piano and composition, and composed many songs using the Western harmonic-melodic models.

In 1906, he took on the role of editor at Little Music magazine. In the magazine’s preface written January 3, 1906, Li Shutong produced an intense effect of being downhearted and trapped while contemplating the fate of the nation in the final paragraph:

An anxious moon and a desolate wind accompany the uneven sounds of a reed pipe. China’s uncertain future hangs in the balance. In the corner of a tavern I sit alone, the evenings pass by like years. I pick up my pen but can’t write a word, reduced as I am to weeping tears.

Li Shutong's charcoal drawing titled 'Maiden'

Li Shutong’s charcoal drawing titled ‘Maiden’

Despite his penchant for drawing, painting and music, Master Hongyi attracted the most attention for his works in the field of drama.

He was a skilled amateur performer of Chinese opera. In 1906, he formed the Spring Willow Society with a number of overseas Chinese theatre enthusiasts in Tokyo and often played the female lead in a drama troupe co-founded with the overseas Chinese student community.

The following year, the Society performed a number of plays, including Black Slaves Cry to Heaven, based on Harriet Beecher Stowe’s novels, as well as La Dame aux camélias and Uncle Tom’s Cabin, translated by Lin Shu. These plays took the Tokyo drama world by storm and their performances were a roaring success acclaimed by both Chinese and Japanese critics.

he formed the Spring Willow Society

A group picture of the Spring Willow Society members

Li Shutong left the Spring Willow Society in the winter of 1908 to focus on painting and music. He also met his lover, Yukiko, who bore him a son and a daughter. In March 1910, he graduated from the Tokyo School of Fine Arts and returned to Tianjin with their children. He took up a position as a teacher of drawing at the Zhili Normal Technical Institute in Tianjin.

Li settled into long-term employment in 1912 at the Hangzhou Zhejiang Province First Normal College as a music and art teacher. The college was relatively new and at the forefront of China’s emerging education reformation. Li Shutong also taught art history while continuing with his calligraphy, music composition, painting, seal-carving, poetry and songwriting.

Li Shutong with his Japanese lover

Li Shutong with his Japanese lover, Yukiko

The 1912 stock market collapse exacted a severe toll on the Li family fortune; Li Shutong and his two half-brothers found themselves on the brink of bankruptcy. He moved back to Shanghai in the spring and taught music at East Shanghai Girls’ School. He also became actively involved in several newly-formed literary societies in the early days of the new Chinese republic.

Master Hongyi with his students, Liu Zhi Ping (left) and Feng Zikai (right), before entering into a retreat in 1918.

Master Hongyi with his students, Liu Zhi Ping (left) and Feng Zikai (right), before entering into a retreat in 1918.

Li Shutong was appointed to Tianjin’s Bei-yang Advanced Industry School and took various art-related jobs to support his growing family. As one of the leading figures who introduced modern – in this case, ‘Western’ – elements into the Chinese arts scene, Li Shutong was actively engaged with leading arts figures in Shanghai’s booming creative circles.

He was the first Chinese art educator to introduce nude models in his painting classes, as well as the first teacher who taught Western music in China. Some students whom he personally groomed, such as contemporary Chinese artist, educator and musician Feng Zikai (丰子恺), and Singaporean artist Chen Wenxi (陳文希), went on to become accomplished artists in their own right.

 

Ordination

Li Shutong holding his 21-day fasting diary

Li Shutong holding his 21-day fasting diary

It was during this period that Li Shutong came into more meaningful contact with Buddhism. In 1916, he undertook a 21-day fast at a temple in Hangzhou to experience for himself aspects of the spiritual path. This would lead to his embrace of the ordained life not very long after.

A mid-life transition to monkhood was a very unusual thing in early 20th Century China, particularly for an upper class, highly educated and professionally successful person like Li Shutong. Though he had shown a penchant for both solitude and abruptness, these were traits associated with his artistic pursuits rather than his social interactions.

Li Shutong’s decision to renounce secular life was relatively sudden; most spend years thinking about the commitment and engage in it one step at a time. He instead took refuge in the Three Jewels in 1917 and was ordained a Buddhist monk less than two years after his first encounter with monastic life.

Those two intervening years were the fundamental pivot point of his life. They were the transition from secular life to a spiritual one, dedicated to practising and propagating the Buddha’s teachings, particularly those on code of conduct (Vinaya).

There is a couplet that reflects his state of mind after becoming a monk:

Truth and error in history are only a fleeting dream,
A word of scripture redeems the soul.

In 1918, he was just 38 and a well-known figure on the arts scene. After becoming a monk, Li became known as Master Hongyi and practised only calligraphy. He developed a simple and unadorned, yet unique style that remains widely treasured today.

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Li Shutong received his ordination vows at Hangzhou’s well-known Lingyin Monastery (灵隐寺). Here is a tale of Li Shutong’s transition.

In 1916 he was feeling very uncomfortable with himself, such that he sought relief. To address this ailment of shenjing shuairuo (神經衰弱), which in Europe and the United States was called “neurasthenia” and described there as a modern disease of intellectual workers overcome by the tensions of the new age, Li Shutong had read in a Japanese magazine of a method of self-cure involving a graduated diet during a twenty-one day period of seclusion at the coldest period of the year. During the winter break from his job as music and art instructor at the Zhejiang Province First Normal College in Hangzhou, Li Shutong made arrangements through friends and took quiet lodging at a local Buddhist monastery beside West Lake, the Dinghuisi (定慧寺), located at Hupao (虎跑). This monastery is sometimes known as Hupaosi.

Arriving on December 14, 1916, he was given a guest room in the abbot’s building. He later described this period as the first opportunity he had to observe Buddhist monks within their own habitat. Earlier he had come into contact with troupes of monks hired to carry out memorial and consecration rites, who had come to his family compound in Tianjin, beginning with the rites that followed the death of his father. As he notes:

“Although from the age of five sui onward I often met monks, on those occasions I often saw monks who came to our home to chant scriptures and carry out worship and repentance rites. I even studied the fang yankou (放焰口) at age twelve or thirteen. But I never lived together with “having the Way” monks, and I didn’t know what it was like inside a monastery, nor what monks’ lives were like. When I went to Hupao Monastery, I saw their sort of lives. Not only was I very glad, but moreover I came to admire their way of life.”

When Li Shutong was around eight, one of the female relatives in his household began studying with a learned monk in Tianjin, and she began to chant some of the basic prayers, such as the Dabei zhou (大悲咒, Great Compassion Incantation). Li Shutong also would chant with her and soon memorized a number of these foundational works. Although they were forgotten later on, perhaps these early practices as a child formed a kind of hidden basis for a later affinity with Buddhist monastic life.

As an adult, he also had enjoyed casual strolls through accessible monasteries near his Hangzhou lodgings. But this experience at Hupao was different. He had the opportunity to observe on a daily basis a monk— not the abbot or other senior figure, just an ordinary monk in the monastery— whom he found admirable, who seemed to reflect in his countenance a kind of happiness that had entirely eluded the famous artist.

According to the diary that Li Shutong kept while in residence at Hupao (a peculiarly obsessive and self-regarding document that in some ways is vivid witness to his self-diagnosis), for these three weeks he continued some usual practices, mainly reading and calligraphic work. But his interest had been piqued, and he engaged this monk— who lived on the upper floor of the building where Li Shutong was quartered— in conversation, after which the monk introduced him to some Buddhist texts. The experience moved him in unforeseen ways. As he later wrote:

“Even though I only lived within the monastery precincts for a bit more than a half- month, my heart was utterly joyful. And I enjoyed eating their vegetarian food. After I returned to school, I asked the workers to prepare dishes in that style for me to eat. It can be said that the near cause for my becoming a monk was this time in which I went to Hupao to fast. By the second half of Minguo 6 [1917], I had decided to eat [only] vegetarian food. Then during that winter I sought out many scriptures, such as the “Chapter on Puxian’s Acts and Vows” [from the Huayanjing], the Lengyanjing, the Treatise on Arising Trust in Mahāyāna – many Buddhist scriptures – and in my room I also gathered together images of Buddhist figures such as the bodhisattvas Dizang and Guanshiyin, and I burned incense before them every day.”

During this same period, he regularly visited a friend, the somewhat reclusive and brilliantly learned philosopher Ma Yifu 馬一浮 (1883-1967), for instruction and conversation on Buddhist views. Li Shutong’s student at the time, the later very famous artist and essayist Feng Zikai 豐子愷 (1898-1975), sometimes accompanied his teacher to Ma Yifu’s house and listened quietly; he reports that the conversation was far over his head.

Step by step, Li Shutong’s mind turned toward the notion of a Buddhist inflected life. Early in 1918, roughly a year after the fast at Hupao, he made the ritual commitment to enter the Buddhist community as a layperson by taking refuge in the Three Jewels (the sanbao guiyi 三寶皈依 rite). This ceremony was presided over by a senior monk, the teacher of the monk whom he so admired at Hupao. He began gravitating more and more toward Buddhist life, spending school holidays in the Hupao monastery rather than visiting family or going on outings. There was something about it that suited him. As he tried on the clothes and customs of this world, they began to feel comfortable.

Two years after the fast, he left his teaching position at the end of the academic year, moved into the monastery at Hupao, and then “left home” (chujia 出家), which is the initial stage in becoming a monastic in the Chinese Buddhist tradition. While some novices take a year or so to get accustomed to monastic life and memorize the basic daily liturgies before committing to receive the full monastic precepts (“ordination”), Li Shutong immediately sought out the opportunity to make this commitment. Only a month after joining the Order, he was able to go through the preparatory training and then the full ordination rites at the largest monastery in Hangzhou, the Lingyinsi. Thereafter, he was known by the monastic names Yanyin (演音) and Hongyi (弘一).

(Source: Zhe, J., Goossaert, V., & Ownby, D. (2017). Making Saints in Modern China. New York (N.Y.): Oxford University press.)

 

Life as Master Hongyi, Patriarch of the Vinaya School of Chinese Buddhism

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For Master Hongyi, the three milestones that mark his passage from ordination as a novice monk to full ordination as a bhikshu took place in fairly close succession.

The adoption of a vegetarian diet was the first step in changing his daily activities to align with Buddhist teachings. Master Hongyi noted that it was the vital turning point to establishing a new life as an ordained monk.

He let go of his lay identity and success to lead a life guided by the 250 monastic precepts of behaviour. These range from serious transgressions such as killing, stealing, sexual misconduct and lying about one’s attainments, etc., to auxiliary transgressions such as those covering acts like walking, sitting and even one’s eating posture.

In addition, Master Hongyi also took the Bodhisattva Precepts which include fundamental Mahayana vows to seek liberation in order to aid all sentient beings. Precepts and vows are similar but not identical:

  • Precepts (rules): for the most part, to restrain and to control one’s speech and behaviour
  • Vows: to direct one’s inner life and to establish aspirations that give defined meaning to one’s actions

Precepts and vows are central to a Buddhist life. In many of Master Hongyi’s writings, one can see very clearly how these two aspects became the main focus of his life after he embraced the path to Enlightenment.

Master Hongyi studied and practised the Vinaya all his ordained life. His interest was not limited to clarifying the Vinaya but extended to restoring its central daily practices, such as the taking of two meals before noon, which had largely fallen out of practice in China at the time.

This was a significant departure from the life Master Hongyi had led up to that point, a life which was characterised by hedonism and a lack of restraint. The calligraphic works he created during his ordained life reflect his departure from that existence, to his concerns with vows made by the Buddhas and Bodhisattvas to aid all sentient beings.

 

Significant Events in Master Hongyi’s Ordained Life

Love Is Compassion

Stage photo from Spring Willow Society

Stage photo from Spring Willow Society

Both Master Hongyi’s wives were baffled with his decision and understandably reluctant to let him go. His Japanese wife was especially confused because he had once told her she was the ‘search of his life’ and that they were destined to be together.

An arrangement was made for them to meet and she asked him, “What is love?”

To her, the nature of love was to hold her beloved to her heart. It was difficult to let him go as she really loved him. However, Master Hongyi’s perspective of love had grown beyond that basic manifestation of love.

His answer was short and simple, yet profound: “Love is compassion.”

According to Buddhist teachings, true love is the ever-open hand that lets go of attachment and traditional perspectives of the beloved, and instead gives freely and equally to all.

 

An Advocate of Compassion

An illustration from the Pictorial Series on Protection of Life

An illustration from the Pictorial Series on Protection of Life

Master Hongyi authored the famous Poem & Pictorial Series on Protection of Life (《护生画集》) that expressed his mindful practice of the precepts and his message of compassion in every facet of life.

His exhortations were not just for others; Master Hongyi, the Maverick Monk, practised what he preached, inspecting his seat or bed closely before sitting or lying down, lest he harmed the smallest insect.

He would chant Amituofo (Amitabha Buddha) to bless any bug he found before releasing it. This was his way of advocating the importance of valuing the sanctity of life, no matter the size of the earthly vessel within which it was contained.

 

Attitude Towards Basic Needs

Master Hongyi had a remarkable attitude towards food, as captured in this commonly recounted tale:

One day Xia Mianzun, a well-known educator of that time, saw the venerable monk eating a simple dinner of a single dish of pickled vegetables. Feeling sorry, Xia Mianzun asked, “Don’t you think that the pickled vegetables are too salty?” Venerable Hongyi replied, “A salty taste has its own appeal.”

After dinner, the monk poured himself a glass of water. “Why not drink a cup of tea?” Xia asked, “Water is so bland.” Smiling, Master Hongyi replied, “Blandness has its own taste, too.”

The way the Master viewed food revealed not only that he had truly integrated Dharma into his daily life, but also how joyful a life of Chan can be.

Guo Beiping's oil painting of Master Hongyi

Guo Beiping’s oil painting of Master Hongyi

He was also known for his great frugality. For example, he would repair and keep using ragged robes and shoes, worn towels, old bedding and other personal items instead of replacing them with new ones. He would politely refuse any offer of new or better replacements simply because he was truly content with the little he had, not out of pride or stubbornness.

As an ordained monk, he saw no need to exchange what he felt was adequate with something that could be used to benefit others.

 

Cherish Our Blessings

Master Yinguang

Master Yinguang

Once, Master Hongyi stayed with Master Yinguang (印光大师), the 13th patriarch of the Pureland School of Chinese Buddhism, for seven days and spent time observing his practice of Dharma in everyday life.

When they were having a meal together, Master Hongyi emulated Master Yinguang’s practice of adding water to the food scraps in his bowl at the end of a meal and drinking the food ‘juice’. Master Yinguang responded by saying, “Yao xi fu ah!” (We must cherish our blessings!)

In the Mahayana teachings, it is said that gratitude for what we have, however small, is one of the fundamentals that gear us towards higher spiritual attainments, compassion, bodhi mind and wisdom.

A simple act like washing down one’s food can therefore become a Dharma practice that can be aligned with the path to Enlightenment.

 

Virtue of Humility

As Li Shutong, he was arrogant and proud of his background and achievements but reborn as Master Hongyi, he would humbly ask student monks for advice to improve his teaching of Dharma. Instead of rationalising his apparent faults, Master Hongyi would ask for his students’ feedback, humbly and without defending himself when a student monk was displeased with him due to a misunderstanding.

This was contrary to the usual expectations that a master is always perfect and flawless, and any apparent faults they may have must be rationalised without any doubt.

Once, Master Hongyi requested to be Master Yinguang’s disciple. Upon receiving the request, the latter humbly declined and thought it was more appropriate that they become Dharma co-practitioners and learn from each other’s virtues, so as to make up for each other’s faults.

Master Yinguang taught,

Constantly maintain a humble and repentful heart; even if one has upheld true cultivation, one should still feel one’s practice is shallow and never boast. One should mind one’s own business and not the business of others. Only look after the good examples of others in-stead of bad ones. One should see oneself as mundane and everyone else as Bodhisattvas. If one can cultivate according to these teachings, one is sure to reach the Western Pure Land of Ultimate Bliss [Amituofo’s Pure Land]…

…Whether one is a layperson or has left the home-life, one should respect elders and be harmonious to those surrounding him. One should endure what others cannot, and practice what others cannot achieve. One should take others’ difficulties unto oneself and help them succeed in their undertakings.

While sitting quietly, one should often reflect upon one’s own faults, and when chatting with friends, one should not discuss the rights and wrongs of others.

In every action one makes, whether dressing or eating, from dawn to dusk and dusk till dawn, one should not cease to recite the Buddha’s name. Aside from Buddha recitation, whether reciting quietly or silently, one should not give rise to other improper thoughts. If wandering thoughts appear, one should immediately dismiss them.

(Source: “印光大師留世之作.” Southern Taiwan University of Science and Technology. STUST. Accessed May 26, 2020. http://faculty.stust.edu.tw/~tang/Mahayana/teacher/master.htm.)

Later, Master Yinguang was revealed to be a manifestation of the Mahastamaprapta Bodhisattva (Dashizhi Pusa), to whom Master Hongyi was particularly attracted. This made such an important lesson of humility even more significant!

 

Song of the Triple Gem: A Collaboration

Master Hongyi (left) and Master Taixu (right) with whom he collaborated for the song

Master Hongyi (left) and Master Taixu (right) with whom he collaborated for the song “San Bao Ge” (Song of the Triple Gem).

Master Hongyi composed the music for the song San Bao Ge (《三宝歌》, Song of the Triple Gem) and had Master Taixu compose the words for it. The Chinese Buddhist community has since adopted it as an anthem. Master Taixu, being a great Buddhist education reformer, used the lyrics of this song to remind fellow Buddhist practitioners that ‘Buddhism is for the world’.

Master Hongyi’s encounters with the great masters of his time clearly show that the interest and focus of his ordained life never deviated from propagating Buddhism and preserving the Buddhadharma for the generations to come.

 

San Bao Ge (《三宝歌》, Song of the Triple Gem)

Or view the video on Youtube at:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wvPgTXdxCb8

 

《三宝歌》

人天长夜 宇宙黮黯 谁启以光明
三界火宅 众苦煎迫 谁济以安宁
大悲大智大雄力 南无佛陀耶
昭朗万有 衽席群生 功德莫能名
今乃知 唯此是 真正皈依处
尽形寿 献身命 信受勤奉行

二谛总持 三学增上 恢恢法界身
净德既圆 染患斯寂 荡荡涅槃城
众缘性空唯识现 南无达摩耶
理无不彰 蔽无不解 焕乎其大明
今乃知 唯此是 真正皈依处
尽形寿 献身命 信受勤奉行

依净律仪 成妙和合 灵山遗芳形
修行证果 弘法利世 焰续佛灯明
三乘圣贤何济济 南无僧伽耶
统理大众 一切无碍 住持正法城
今乃知 唯此是 真正皈依处
尽形寿 献身命 信受勤奉行

English translation

Song of The Three Jewels

Night is endless, man’s world is dark, who lead us to the light
Who will free all living creatures from the scorching fire
Mercy wisdom and Great Might, Namo Buddhaya
You are lighting up my hearts and warming my body
Follow you, then I know, it is just the time
From now on, believe in you, offer all my life

Here we have “two truths” and “three studies” farming grand Dharma
Bondless pious deed help me enter land of Nirvana
Cause and impermanence decide all, Namo Dharmaya
You can uncover all the truths and as sun shining bright
Follow you, then I know, it is just the time
From now on, believe in you, offer all my life

Obey discipline, show the kindness, paragons from Linshan
Spiritual progress does good to the world
Buddha lamps never die
Men of virtue so many, Namo Sanghaya
You can command the people to guard the sublime
Follow you, then I know, it is just the time
From now on, believe in you, offer all my life

 

The End of His Life

By early 1942, austerities and fasts began to take their toll on Master Hongyi’s health and by mid-May, his health was deteriorating rapidly.

Three days before he passed away at Busi Temple in Quanzhou, Fujian Province on October 13, 1942, Master Hongyi wrote his last brushstrokes of calligraphy: “Sorrow and Joy Comingle”, “Worldly Sorrows and Joy Are Intertwined”, or “Sorrow or Joy Are Inextricably Bound to Each Other” (《悲欣交集》, Beixin jiaoji).

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His state of mind was revealed through the strokes of these Chinese characters. The word “sorrow” (悲) closely resembled his facial expression and his life. Despite Master Hongyi’s great accomplishments in many fields of the arts, he was alone.

He believed that there were three stages in human life: material, intellectual and spiritual. Intellectual life is the life of ordinary intellectuals. Spiritual life refers to the religious realm.

Material, intellectual, spiritual; beauty, profundity, deity. These are largely associated with abstinence, composure and wisdom in Buddhism.

Abstinence refers to the abandonment of the materialistic life. Composure stands for deep meditation, tranquil and remote, which finally leads to the attainment of wisdom. The image of Venerable Hongyi being sorrowful and joyful (欣) represented the interplay between the various aspects.

The paranirvana of Master Hongyi

The paranirvana of Master Hongyi

Beyond Master Hongyi’s transformation that shocked his family and peers, it is indeed incredible that he is now celebrated as much for his accomplishments as a monk as he was for his contributions to the artistic and cultural world.

By the last stage of his life, not only were his teachings remarkably clear and powerful, but his fluent calligraphy had been pared down to a distinctive style that remains the graphic look of Chinese Buddhism for many. It embodies a sense of purity and calmness associated in China with Buddhist cultivation.

These qualities were developed, not descriptors of this great monk in the years before he became a monk.

 

Poetry and Legacy

Li Shutong also wrote the famous poem Farewell (《送别》, Song Bie) that was later made into the widely sung The Farewell Song (《送别歌》, Song Bie Ge).

《送别歌》

长亭外 古道边 芳草碧连天
晚风拂柳笛声残 夕阳山外山

天之涯 地之角 知交半零落
一觚浊酒尽余欢 今宵別梦寒

English translation

The Farewell Song

Outside the long pavilion, along the ancient route, fragrant green grass joins the sky,
The evening wind caressing willow trees, the sound of the flute piercing the heart, sunset over mountains beyond mountains.

At the brink of the sky, at the corners of the earth, my familiar friends wander in loneliness and far from home,
One more ladle of wine to conclude the little happiness that remains; don’t have any sad dreams tonight.

He arranged the lyrics to the melody of the mid-19th Century song Dreaming of Home and Mother by American composer John P. Ordway. When Ordway’s work was introduced into Japan, musician Kyuukei Inudou (犬童球渓) translated it, with a few modifications, into the Japanese version titled Loneliness on a Journey (《旅愁》) that was published in 1904. Li Shutong was introduced to this melody when he was studying in Japan between 1905 and 1910. He was moved by its melody and wrote Farewell in 1915 based on Ordway’s original work when he returned to China.

Later, the Beijing-based progressive-metal rock band, The Tang Dynasty, recorded a rock-version of The Farewell Song on their second album, Epic.

 

Song Bie, performed by the Tang Dynasty

Or view the video on Bilibili at:
https://www.bilibili.com/video/av200834435/

 
A special 130th anniversary celebration of Master Hongyi, showcasing his calligraphy and painting works, was held in 2010 in Shanghai. It was sponsored in part by the Pinghu Municipal Government and attended by a granddaughter of Hongyi.

 

Important Works

  • Collections
  • Happy Stones
  • Li Shutong’s Seals

 

Articles

  • How to Paint (《圖畫修得法》)
  • An Introduction to Watercolours (《水彩畫法說略》)

 

Lyrics

  • The Farewell Song (《送别歌》)

 

Music

  • Childhood Memories
  • Song of Three Jewels (《三宝歌》), Master Taixu lyrics

 
Sources:

  • http://www.pacificbuddha.org/chinese-poetry
  • http://www.khenposodargye.org/2016/03/chapter-seven-pravrajya-ordination-and-practice/
  • https://moonpointer.com/new/2009/09/a-full-bright-moon-radiant-with-compassion/
  • http://animperfectpen.blogspot.my/2009/02/li-shutong-and-writing-lifes-stories.html
  • The Poetry of Sculpture, Weishan Wu, World Scientific, 2008
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Songbie_(song)
  • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hong_Yi
  • http://faculty.stust.edu.tw/~tang/Mahayana/teacher/master.htm
  • Making Saints in Modern China, edited by David Ownby, Vincent Gossaert, Ji Zhe

 

For more interesting information:

 

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Pastor Adeline Woon
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About Pastor Adeline Woon

Adeline Woon is a Buddhist Pastor and a Sangha-to-be in Kechara who enjoys learning and sharing the Dharma with others. Due to her deep interest in Buddhism from a young age, Adeline enrolled herself into the Dharma Drum University in Taiwan, where she graduated with a Master in Religious Studies in 2012.
Pastor Adeline Woon
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One Response to Master Hongyi – The Maverick Patriarch of the Chinese Buddhism

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  1. Samfoonheei on Sep 22, 2022 at 1:25 pm

    Master Hongyi, a multitalented Buddhist Monk famous for being a talented writer and musician . He was one of the most celebrated and admired Buddhist monks in modern Chinese history. Born in wealthy family yet he choose to he was ordained as a Buddhist monk. Already, even as a child, developed an extraordinarily where he could memorised Buddhist text. Master Hongyi dedicated the rest of his life to Buddhist practice and became one of the most prominent monks of 20 Century China. Interesting read.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Adeline for this sharing of a great Lama Master.

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  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Oct 3. 2022 02:47 PM
    Interesting article indeed tells us a thousand words of a Great Lama . When Lama Tsongkhapa Lobzang Drakpa was born many people witnessed numerous auspicious sign. He could understand and memorized complicated texts at a very young age proving that he was someone very special. He received many teachings and tantric initiations from many great masters of different lineages. Many of Lama Tshongkhapa’s teachings were composed through the instructions and inspiration of deities and masters appearing in pure vision. Tsongkhapa was a prolific author of tantric literature, composing and gave teaching to many of what he had discovered. Tsongkhapa’s fame as a great scholar and realized practitioner was well known and respected by many all over Tibet and China. Even the Yongle Emperor of the Chinese Ming Dynasty invited him to give teachings. Interesting article to understand better of this Great Lama.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/great-lamas-masters/tsongkhapa-lobzang-drakpa.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Oct 3. 2022 02:43 PM
    Trulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was an important Gelugpa lama who gave up his life to arise as the World Peace Protector Dorje Shugden.Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen , who had reincarnated lifetime after lifetime to benefit all beings. He and the Fifth Dalai Lama had shared a very respectful and close relationship. He was one of the most highly respected and sought-after Lamas of the land. He was deeply learned and well-versed in scriptures, and also having received many direct visions of deities and exalted Gurus. Rare and very precious secret writings of Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen can be found in Music Delighting an Ocean of Protectors. He was truly a great teacher of all time.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing of Golden Undefeated Lama of Blessings.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/golden-undefeated-lama-of-blessings.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Oct 3. 2022 02:37 PM
    Reading again this article to get a better understanding of the significance of placing our Dharma statues and items in the correct order. Nor matter what the statues made of we have to respect it and placing correctly. In the Buddhist tradition, statues are created to represent Buddha. Each Buddha image represents the spirit of the teachings of Buddha. Each statue features common physical attributes, poses, and postures that define its purpose and meaning.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this teachings.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/statues-and-stupas.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Sep 29. 2022 12:55 PM
    nteresting read of a great Lama Tsarchen Losal Gyatso who is the founder of the Sakya tradition. One of the three branches of the Sakya School, which is part of Tibetan Buddhism. Interesting story of how his illness was occurred and meeting the mysterious lady at monastery courtyard well. The lady who gave him a small Tibetan pecha manuscript wrapped in cloth before vanishing. Apparently Vajrayogini had appeared to him leading him to the great master Doringpa at Tashi Lhunpo. Since then he studied with 63 masters of all traditions. He had travelled tremendously to various place to perform great deeds, giving teachings and benefiting all whom he encountered along his journey.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor David for this wonderful sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/tsarchen-losal-gyatso-lineage-holder-of-vajrayoginis-tantra.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Sep 29. 2022 12:53 PM
    interesting read of Kentrul Thubten Lamsang Rinpoche, one of our Guru previous life. He was one of the most important disciples of Kyabje Trijang Lobsang Yeshe Tenzin Gyatso. Kentrul Rinpoche had spent many years in remote areas like Phari on the Tibet-India border. Where he worked tirelessly to improve the condition of local monasteries and built large Buddha statues. He even built a three-storey statue of Maitreya Buddha. Highly respected by many locals and remembered by monks of the monastery for his work. Kentrul Rinpoche was also known for performing extensive pujas for people of the area. Kentrul Rinpoche will always be remembered as the lama who remained devoted to his teacher until his final moments. He went out of his way to help the sufferings, in desperate situations. His is a legacy that is timeless and beyond compare. Both Kentrul Rinpoche and our Guru Tsem Rinpoche’s activities did exhibit an unquenchable thirst and curiosity for Dharma, Guru devotion . Both have the similarities after-all. Interesting read, shared by Pastor Jean Ai on Tsem Rinpoche ‘s previous reincarnation.
    Thank you Rinpoche.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/autobiography/kentrul-thubten-lamsang.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Sep 29. 2022 12:51 PM
    Very interesting article of great Lamas whom I never find it bored reading over and over again. Anything related to history had me feeling excited.
    Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was a great master, meditator, teacher, logician, yogi, siddha and erudite scholar. He was an important Gelugpa lama and a contemporary of the 5th Dalai Lama’s time. Even more than three hundred years ago he was eliminated yet he continued reincarnating until present day as been confirmed by many great beings. Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen in fulfilling the promise he made to Nechung protector arose as World Peace Protector Dorje Shugden, merely to serve the teachings of Je Tsongkapa and sentient beings. After realising the mistakes done by his officers 5th Dalai Lama built a Dorje Shugden chapel and even composed a prayers texts to Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen. He named the Chapel as Trode Khangsar which still exist to this day at Lhasa, Tibet .May more people reading this article to understand more who is Tulku Drakpa Gyeltsen was. An interesting read.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor David for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/who-is-tulku-drakpa-gyeltsen.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Sep 29. 2022 12:48 PM
    The Kangxi Emperor was the third emperor of the Qing dynasty. He is considered by historians to be one of the greatest emperors in the history of China. Having ruled China over 61 years, he was the longest-reigning Chinese emperors in dynastic history. He was thought of as one of the greatest emperors because, under his rule, the Qing empire started to prosper, dynastic succession was stabilized, and he was comparatively benevolent. He was also highly educated and was known as a hardworking emperor who ruled diligently. His rule was a period of expansion, stability, and prosperity for the Chinese Empire. Kangxi gave religious freedom to all religions and had sponsored many literary works, monasteries, monks and teachers all over China, Tibet and Mongolia. He was considered an extremely modern Emperor at that time whom was loved by many. He was said to be the reincarnation of Tulku Drakpa Gyaltsen and an emanation of Manjushri as recorded in the ancient scriptures.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this interesting sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/art-architecture/emperor-kangxi.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Sep 22. 2022 01:28 PM
    The unmistaken incarnation of Panchen Sonam Drakpa was proclaimed to be Sonam Yeshe Wangpo. From birth, he spoke with clairvoyance and seemed to remember people and events of his past life. Even as a young man , he travelled tremendously as part of his retinue, with the 3rd Dalai Lama and gave various teachings as well. Throughout the journey, he had even composed verses to praise and commentaries on the teachings.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor David for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/great-lamas-masters/sonam-yeshe-wangpo.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Sep 22. 2022 01:26 PM
    Master Hongyi, a multitalented Buddhist Monk famous for being a talented writer and musician . He was one of the most celebrated and admired Buddhist monks in modern Chinese history. Born in wealthy family yet he choose to he was ordained as a Buddhist monk. Already, even as a child, developed an extraordinarily where he could memorised Buddhist text. Master Hongyi dedicated the rest of his life to Buddhist practice and became one of the most prominent monks of 20 Century China. Interesting read.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Adeline for this sharing of a great Lama Master.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/great-lamas-masters/master-hongyi-the-maverick-patriarch-of-the-chinese-buddhism.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Saturday, Sep 17. 2022 04:24 PM
    Spirits and unseen beings are everywhere not only actually restricted to specific areas. Places such as cemeteries, abandoned houses or places where death occurred. There are many different types of spirits around us, unseen to the naked eye, but for some they could see it or sense their presence. Many people of different faith reported having experienced sense the presence of spirits. Interesting rather scary reading Steven Wong ghostly experienced in the motel . I have encounter such before staying in hotel . More scary I can say. That’s past history, since coming to Buddhism I am not scare at all , I will recite DS Mantra . Later do prayers and dedicate to them .
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/paranormal/paranormal-stories/paranormal-experiences-occur-everywhere-part-1.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Saturday, Sep 17. 2022 04:21 PM
    Reading this article written by Tsering Shakya, again as it tells us more and understand better of the situation suffered by Tibetan people. Due to the Dorje Shugden controversy many Tibetans suffered . Many of them migrated to other countries to the west for better opportunities. Tibetan culture and identity is inseparably linked to Tibetan Buddhism. Somehow once in a foreign land they tend to lose their traditions and cultures slowly over times. Living in foreign land , it difficult to maintain their true identity. For them Tibetans maintaining links to the homeland presents a very unique challenges tasks. If only the Tibetan leadership more opened, forgo the past and accepts as what HH Dalai Lama said that Dorje Shugden is no evil and do no harm. Tibetan Buddhist could continue practicing the Dorje Shugden’s practice. Tibetan should stand united to protect the Tibetan heritage and culture instead discrimination against Dorje Shugden practitioners so much so had divided the Tibetans. Many of them left and migrated else where to look for better livelihood.
    Tsem Rinpoche had gone through a rough time , rejected twice from the moment of birth from Taiwan to US and travelling to India where Rinpoche found a place called home then. Later to Malaysia as advice by his Guru.
    To this end, the discrimination against Dorje Shugden practitioners must end for the sake of the all Tibetans living in India and Nepal .
    A very good article by Tsering Shakya, more people should read it to understand better.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/tibetans-rejected-twice.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Saturday, Sep 17. 2022 04:19 PM
    Wow…that’s great , rejoice Pastor Joy, you have painted over a thousand Buddha statues over the years. Pastor you have a painter’s fine hands. I saw those Buddha ‘s images beautifully painted without formal training is a great achievement. Pastor has turn un-groomed images into something beautiful. A great painter that have put a lot of work into it and it has paid off .
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Joy for sharing this with us for-most looking at most of the painted Buddha images tells us a thousand words.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/one-minute-story/painting-buddha-statues
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Sep 15. 2022 12:44 PM
    Feeling disappointed when someone a Sangha supposed to promote peace, harmony and helps to give teachings to those who are new instead promoting hatred, cursing another person. Its wrong to tell people to break their samaya with their teachers. They must be given the wrong information about Dorje Shugden and Shugden Buddhist practitioners . The Tibetan Leadership has spread their lies and causing misunderstanding among the Tibetans. The rights of Dorje Shugden practitioners were denied just because for practicing their religion as they have done for the past 400 years. Dorje Shugden practitioners are side-lined from their own community, denied medical care, education and even employment in government offices. The Tibetan Leadership has instituted this ban against Dorje Shugden causing sufferings among many. Sad indeed hopefully these controversy will dissolve soon as more people understand and know that Dorje Shugden is not an evil as claimed by the Tibetan leadership.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Jean Ai for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/guest-contributors/go-on-break-your-samaya.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Sep 15. 2022 12:42 PM
    Buddhism is one of the most popular religions all over the world. Buddha statues have different shapes, sizes, different gestures or mudras and styles of presentation. Well said by Tsem Rinpoche the bigger and more Buddha statues makes a difference in our life. It gives out more powerful positive and relaxing energy to help us. concentrate better. One of the methods for us to purify our karma to suit our current karma-bound situation. By circumambulating 500 mantra stones one time we could accumulate much more merits in just one round of circumambulation. All thanks to Rinpoche having this idea with many mantra stones as possible for us to circumambulate. The larger the Buddha image, the more merits are collected the greatest amount of benefit for one who sincerely circumambulating.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this amazing post and explaining all the details for us to understand more.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/kechara-13-depts/bigger-and-more-buddha-statues-makes-a-difference.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Sep 15. 2022 12:37 PM
    Ra Lotsawa said to be an emanation of Manjushri was a great tantric master who had used wrathful means to subjugate his opponents. He was declared to be a saint and a fully enlightened Buddha. Many viewed as a murderous villain with magical powers and by some as a liberator of human suffering. Ra Lotsawa used his power and magical abilities to defeat his enemies rather rivals to accumulate wealth. He received many Empowerments and practices, which came into conflict with other lamas. His life offers a rare view into the often overlooked roles of magic and sorcery in the Buddhist tradition. In the book The All-Pervading Melodious Drumbeat tells the story of Ra Lotsawa Dorjé Drak . It was written by Ra Yeshe Sengye, and translated for the first time into English. Despite this obsessed legacy, his fame also rests on an illustrious career as a translator of Buddhist scriptures. Ra Lotsawa was so revered in Tibetan Buddhism even though he was so evil where nobody can denied. Interesting read an classic account of one of the most colourful and memorable figures in Tibetan Buddhist history.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/ra-lotsawa-the-yamantaka-hero.html

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Known is being comfortable and stagnant,
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One shall never know if one fears the unknown more than the known.
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The first title published by Kechara Comics is Karuna Finds A Way. It tells the tale of high-school sweethearts Karuna and Adam who had what some would call the dream life. Everything was going great for them until one day when reality came knocking on their door. Caught in a surprise swindle, this loving family who never harmed anyone found themselves out of luck and down on their fortune. Determined to save her family, Karuna goes all out to find a solution. See what she does- https://bit.ly/2LSKuWo
3 years ago
The first title published by Kechara Comics is Karuna Finds A Way. It tells the tale of high-school sweethearts Karuna and Adam who had what some would call the dream life. Everything was going great for them until one day when reality came knocking on their door. Caught in a surprise swindle, this loving family who never harmed anyone found themselves out of luck and down on their fortune. Determined to save her family, Karuna goes all out to find a solution. See what she does- https://bit.ly/2LSKuWo
Very powerful story! Tibetan Resistance group Chushi Gangdruk reveals how Dalai Lama escaped in 1959- https://bit.ly/2S9VMGX
3 years ago
Very powerful story! Tibetan Resistance group Chushi Gangdruk reveals how Dalai Lama escaped in 1959- https://bit.ly/2S9VMGX
At Kechara Forest Retreat land we have nice fresh spinach growing free of chemicals and pesticides. Yes!
3 years ago
At Kechara Forest Retreat land we have nice fresh spinach growing free of chemicals and pesticides. Yes!
See beautiful pictures of Manjushri Guest House here- https://bit.ly/2WGo0ti
3 years ago
See beautiful pictures of Manjushri Guest House here- https://bit.ly/2WGo0ti
Beginner’s Introduction to Dorje Shugden~Very good overview https://bit.ly/2QQNfYv
3 years ago
Beginner’s Introduction to Dorje Shugden~Very good overview https://bit.ly/2QQNfYv
Fresh eggplants grown on Kechara Forest Retreat\'s land here in Malaysia
3 years ago
Fresh eggplants grown on Kechara Forest Retreat's land here in Malaysia
Most Venerable Uppalavanna – The Chief Female Disciple of Buddha Shakyamuni - She exhibited many supernatural abilities gained from meditation and proved to the world females and males are equal in spirituality- https://bit.ly/31d9Rat
3 years ago
Most Venerable Uppalavanna – The Chief Female Disciple of Buddha Shakyamuni - She exhibited many supernatural abilities gained from meditation and proved to the world females and males are equal in spirituality- https://bit.ly/31d9Rat
Thailand’s ‘Renegade’ Yet Powerful Buddhist Nuns~ https://bit.ly/2Z1C02m
3 years ago
Thailand’s ‘Renegade’ Yet Powerful Buddhist Nuns~ https://bit.ly/2Z1C02m
Mahapajapati Gotami – the first Buddhist nun ordained by Lord Buddha- https://bit.ly/2IjD8ru
3 years ago
Mahapajapati Gotami – the first Buddhist nun ordained by Lord Buddha- https://bit.ly/2IjD8ru
The Largest Buddha Shakyamuni in Russia | 俄罗斯最大的释迦牟尼佛画像- https://bit.ly/2Wpclni
3 years ago
The Largest Buddha Shakyamuni in Russia | 俄罗斯最大的释迦牟尼佛画像- https://bit.ly/2Wpclni
Sacred Vajra Yogini
3 years ago
Sacred Vajra Yogini
Dorje Shugden works & archives - a labour of commitment - https://bit.ly/30Tp2p8
3 years ago
Dorje Shugden works & archives - a labour of commitment - https://bit.ly/30Tp2p8
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha.
3 years ago
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha.
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha. She was his step-mother and aunt. Buddha\'s mother had passed away at his birth so he was raised by Gotami.
3 years ago
Mahapajapati Gotami, who was the first nun ordained by Lord Buddha. She was his step-mother and aunt. Buddha's mother had passed away at his birth so he was raised by Gotami.
Another nun disciple of Lord Buddha\'s. She had achieved great spiritual abilities and high attainments. She would be a proper object of refuge. This image of the eminent bhikkhuni (nun) disciple of the Buddha, Uppalavanna Theri.
3 years ago
Another nun disciple of Lord Buddha's. She had achieved great spiritual abilities and high attainments. She would be a proper object of refuge. This image of the eminent bhikkhuni (nun) disciple of the Buddha, Uppalavanna Theri.
Wandering Ascetic Painting by Nirdesha Munasinghe
3 years ago
Wandering Ascetic Painting by Nirdesha Munasinghe
High Sri Lankan monks visit Kechara to bless our land, temple, Buddha and Dorje Shugden images. They were very kind-see pictures- https://bit.ly/2HQie2M
3 years ago
High Sri Lankan monks visit Kechara to bless our land, temple, Buddha and Dorje Shugden images. They were very kind-see pictures- https://bit.ly/2HQie2M
This is pretty amazing!

First Sri Lankan Buddhist temple opened in Dubai!!!
3 years ago
This is pretty amazing! First Sri Lankan Buddhist temple opened in Dubai!!!
My Dharma boy (left) and Oser girl loves to laze around on the veranda in the mornings. They enjoy all the trees, grass and relaxing under the hot sun. Sunbathing is a favorite daily activity. I care about these two doggies of mine very much and I enjoy seeing them happy. They are with me always. Tsem Rinpoche

Always be kind to animals and eat vegetarian- https://bit.ly/2Psp8h2
3 years ago
My Dharma boy (left) and Oser girl loves to laze around on the veranda in the mornings. They enjoy all the trees, grass and relaxing under the hot sun. Sunbathing is a favorite daily activity. I care about these two doggies of mine very much and I enjoy seeing them happy. They are with me always. Tsem Rinpoche Always be kind to animals and eat vegetarian- https://bit.ly/2Psp8h2
After you left me Mumu, I was alone. I have no family or kin. You were my family. I can\'t stop thinking of you and I can\'t forget you. My bond and connection with you is so strong. I wish you were by my side. Tsem Rinpoche
3 years ago
After you left me Mumu, I was alone. I have no family or kin. You were my family. I can't stop thinking of you and I can't forget you. My bond and connection with you is so strong. I wish you were by my side. Tsem Rinpoche
This story is a life-changer. Learn about the incredible Forest Man of India | 印度“森林之子”- https://bit.ly/2Eh4vRS
3 years ago
This story is a life-changer. Learn about the incredible Forest Man of India | 印度“森林之子”- https://bit.ly/2Eh4vRS
Part 2-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
3 years ago
Part 2-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
Part 1-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
3 years ago
Part 1-Beautiful billboard in Malaysia of a powerful Tibetan hero whose life serves as a great inspiration- https://bit.ly/2UltNE4
The great Protector Manjushri Dorje Shugden depicted in the beautiful Mongolian style. To download a high resolution file: https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
3 years ago
The great Protector Manjushri Dorje Shugden depicted in the beautiful Mongolian style. To download a high resolution file: https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
The Mystical land of Shambhala is finally ready for everyone to feast their eyes and be blessed. A beautiful post with information, art work, history, spirituality and a beautiful book composed by His Holiness the 6th Panchen Rinpoche. ~ https://bit.ly/309MHBi
3 years ago
The Mystical land of Shambhala is finally ready for everyone to feast their eyes and be blessed. A beautiful post with information, art work, history, spirituality and a beautiful book composed by His Holiness the 6th Panchen Rinpoche. ~ https://bit.ly/309MHBi
Beautiful pictures of the huge Buddha in Longkou Nanshan- https://bit.ly/2LsBxVb
3 years ago
Beautiful pictures of the huge Buddha in Longkou Nanshan- https://bit.ly/2LsBxVb
The reason-Very interesting thought- https://bit.ly/2V7VT5r
3 years ago
The reason-Very interesting thought- https://bit.ly/2V7VT5r
NEW Bigfoot cafe in Malaysia! Food is delicious!- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
3 years ago
NEW Bigfoot cafe in Malaysia! Food is delicious!- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
DON\'T MISS THIS!~How brave Bonnie survived by living with a herd of deer~ https://bit.ly/2Lre2eY
3 years ago
DON'T MISS THIS!~How brave Bonnie survived by living with a herd of deer~ https://bit.ly/2Lre2eY
Global Superpower China Will Cut Meat Consumption by 50%! Very interesting, find out more- https://bit.ly/2V1sJFh
3 years ago
Global Superpower China Will Cut Meat Consumption by 50%! Very interesting, find out more- https://bit.ly/2V1sJFh
You can download this beautiful Egyptian style Dorje Shugden Free- https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
3 years ago
You can download this beautiful Egyptian style Dorje Shugden Free- https://bit.ly/2Nt3FHz
Beautiful high file for print of Lord Manjushri. May you be blessed- https://bit.ly/2V8mwZe
3 years ago
Beautiful high file for print of Lord Manjushri. May you be blessed- https://bit.ly/2V8mwZe
Mongolian (Oymiakon) Shaman in Siberia, Russia. That is his real outfit he wears. Very unique. TR
3 years ago
Mongolian (Oymiakon) Shaman in Siberia, Russia. That is his real outfit he wears. Very unique. TR
Find one of the most beautiful temples in the world in Nara, Japan. It is the 1,267 year old Todai-ji temple that houses a 15 meter Buddha Vairocana statue who is a cosmic and timeless Buddha. Emperor Shomu who sponsored this beautiful temple eventually abdicated and ordained as a Buddhist monk. Very interesting history and story. One of the places everyone should visit- https://bit.ly/2VgsHhK
3 years ago
Find one of the most beautiful temples in the world in Nara, Japan. It is the 1,267 year old Todai-ji temple that houses a 15 meter Buddha Vairocana statue who is a cosmic and timeless Buddha. Emperor Shomu who sponsored this beautiful temple eventually abdicated and ordained as a Buddhist monk. Very interesting history and story. One of the places everyone should visit- https://bit.ly/2VgsHhK
Manjusri Kumara (bodhisattva of wisdom), India, Pala dynesty, 9th century, stone, Honolulu Academy of Arts
3 years ago
Manjusri Kumara (bodhisattva of wisdom), India, Pala dynesty, 9th century, stone, Honolulu Academy of Arts
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Videos On The Go

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  • Our Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir speaks so well, logically and regarding our country’s collaboration with China for growth. It is refreshing to listen to Dr. Mahathir’s thoughts. He said our country can look to China for many more things such as technology and so on. Tsem Rinpoche
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    Our Malaysian Prime Minister Dr. Mahathir speaks so well, logically and regarding our country’s collaboration with China for growth. It is refreshing to listen to Dr. Mahathir’s thoughts. He said our country can look to China for many more things such as technology and so on. Tsem Rinpoche
  • This is the first time His Holiness Dalai Lama mentions he had some very serious illness. Very worrying. This video is captured April 2019.
    3 yearss ago
    This is the first time His Holiness Dalai Lama mentions he had some very serious illness. Very worrying. This video is captured April 2019.
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  • This dog thanks his hero in such a touching way. Tsem Rinpoche
    3 yearss ago
    This dog thanks his hero in such a touching way. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Join Tsem Rinpoche in prayer for H.H. Dalai Lama’s long life~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYy7JcveikU&feature=youtu.be
    3 yearss ago
    Join Tsem Rinpoche in prayer for H.H. Dalai Lama’s long life~ https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gYy7JcveikU&feature=youtu.be
  • These people going on pilgrimage to a holy mountain and prostrating out of devotion and for pilgrimage in Tibet. Such determination for spiritual practice. Tsem Rinpoche
    3 yearss ago
    These people going on pilgrimage to a holy mountain and prostrating out of devotion and for pilgrimage in Tibet. Such determination for spiritual practice. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Beautiful new casing in Kechara for Vajra Yogini. Tsem Rinpoche
    4 yearss ago
    Beautiful new casing in Kechara for Vajra Yogini. Tsem Rinpoche
  • Get ready to laugh real hard. This is Kechara’s version of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane!” We have some real talents in this video clip.
    4 yearss ago
    Get ready to laugh real hard. This is Kechara’s version of “Whatever Happened to Baby Jane!” We have some real talents in this video clip.
  • Recitation of Dorje Dermo‘s mantra or the Dharani of Glorious Vajra Claws. This powerful mantra is meant to destroy all obstacles that come in our way. Beneficial to play this mantra in our environments.
    4 yearss ago
    Recitation of Dorje Dermo‘s mantra or the Dharani of Glorious Vajra Claws. This powerful mantra is meant to destroy all obstacles that come in our way. Beneficial to play this mantra in our environments.
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    4 yearss ago
    Beautiful
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  • My little monster cute babies Dharma and Oser. Take a look and get a cute attack for the day! Tsem Rinpoche
    4 yearss ago
    My little monster cute babies Dharma and Oser. Take a look and get a cute attack for the day! Tsem Rinpoche
  • Plse watch this short video and see how all sentient beings are capable of tenderness and love. We should never hurt animals nor should we eat them. Tsem Rinpoche
    4 yearss ago
    Plse watch this short video and see how all sentient beings are capable of tenderness and love. We should never hurt animals nor should we eat them. Tsem Rinpoche
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ASK A PASTOR


Ask the Pastors

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

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

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CHAT PICTURES

Is this where Rinpoche received the thangkha of Dream Manjushri?
2 months ago
Is this where Rinpoche received the thangkha of Dream Manjushri?
Is this the ruins of Zimkhang Gongma established by Panchen Sonam Drakpa. -Choong
2 months ago
Is this the ruins of Zimkhang Gongma established by Panchen Sonam Drakpa. -Choong
We hold our DS puja weekly without fail. We welcome you to join us. Penang DS puja @ 3pm~ by Jacinta
2 months ago
We hold our DS puja weekly without fail. We welcome you to join us. Penang DS puja @ 3pm~ by Jacinta
DS PUJA @ Penang. A close up of the offerings. What a feast! #Throwback 23/7/2022.
2 months ago
DS PUJA @ Penang. A close up of the offerings. What a feast! #Throwback 23/7/2022.
#Throwback 23/7/2022. Our weekly DS puja attendees. All of us were getting ready to invite Buddhas to come forth, joining and blessing us during DS puja. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
2 months ago
#Throwback 23/7/2022. Our weekly DS puja attendees. All of us were getting ready to invite Buddhas to come forth, joining and blessing us during DS puja. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
#Throwback23/7/2022 Welcoming Buddha Shakyamuni, Gyenze, Shize & Namgyalma to Penang chapel. Abundance offerings, including sensory offerings were nicely set up and offered up to Buddha surfing our weekly DS puja @ 3pm, Jalan Seang Tek, Penang ~by Jacinta
2 months ago
#Throwback23/7/2022 Welcoming Buddha Shakyamuni, Gyenze, Shize & Namgyalma to Penang chapel. Abundance offerings, including sensory offerings were nicely set up and offered up to Buddha surfing our weekly DS puja @ 3pm, Jalan Seang Tek, Penang ~by Jacinta
Kechara Earth Project 17 July 2022
2 months ago
Kechara Earth Project 17 July 2022
Kechara Earth Project 12 June 2022
3 months ago
Kechara Earth Project 12 June 2022
#Throwback. Visitation of Ven. Zawa Tulku Rinpoche and Ven. Geshe Jangchup Gyaltsen to Kechara Penang Chapel on 17/5/2022. We did a short prayers together. Really happy for the short visit. Kechara Penang Study Group~ by Jacinta
4 months ago
#Throwback. Visitation of Ven. Zawa Tulku Rinpoche and Ven. Geshe Jangchup Gyaltsen to Kechara Penang Chapel on 17/5/2022. We did a short prayers together. Really happy for the short visit. Kechara Penang Study Group~ by Jacinta
Photo from JC
4 months ago
Photo from JC
Trying to WE-fie. Do we get that just alright, lol? Come and join us next time at Jalan Seang Tek, Kechara Penang Chapel. Celebrate Wesak with us ~ by Jacinta
5 months ago
Trying to WE-fie. Do we get that just alright, lol? Come and join us next time at Jalan Seang Tek, Kechara Penang Chapel. Celebrate Wesak with us ~ by Jacinta
Trying to "WE-fie". Do we get that just alright, lol? Come and join us next time at Jalan Seang Tek, Kechara Penang Chapel. Celebrate Wesak with us ~ by Jacinta
5 months ago
Trying to "WE-fie". Do we get that just alright, lol? Come and join us next time at Jalan Seang Tek, Kechara Penang Chapel. Celebrate Wesak with us ~ by Jacinta
Celebrated Wesak Day 2022 in Penang, with a group of fun, committed, helpful and also devoted friends & family. Kechara Penang Study Group 15/5/2022 ~by Jacinta
5 months ago
Celebrated Wesak Day 2022 in Penang, with a group of fun, committed, helpful and also devoted friends & family. Kechara Penang Study Group 15/5/2022 ~by Jacinta
Vesak Day 2022 - Bird liberation. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
5 months ago
Vesak Day 2022 - Bird liberation. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
All attendees are paying homage to Rinpoche and Buddhas before the start of our weekly Dorje Shugden puja. Outwardly, it seems that Dorje Shugden helps practitioners overcoming their obstacles and problems but ultimately Dorje Shugden’s supreme purpose is to help practitioners on their path to Enlightenment. Do join in our weekly DS puja, every Saturday @3 pm at Jalan Seang Tek, Penang. ~by Jacinta
5 months ago
All attendees are paying homage to Rinpoche and Buddhas before the start of our weekly Dorje Shugden puja. Outwardly, it seems that Dorje Shugden helps practitioners overcoming their obstacles and problems but ultimately Dorje Shugden’s supreme purpose is to help practitioners on their path to Enlightenment. Do join in our weekly DS puja, every Saturday @3 pm at Jalan Seang Tek, Penang. ~by Jacinta
All of us are practicing on how to properly use dorje(Vajra), bell and damaru ~ Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta
5 months ago
All of us are practicing on how to properly use dorje(Vajra), bell and damaru ~ Kechara Penang Study Group by Jacinta
After inviting Dorje Shugden Wangze, Pastor Seng Piow teaches us how to use ritual objects and the full set of prayer accompanying it. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
5 months ago
After inviting Dorje Shugden Wangze, Pastor Seng Piow teaches us how to use ritual objects and the full set of prayer accompanying it. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
With great happiness, merits and excitement that Penang Group have invited Buddha Wangzey to Penang chapel, complete with full rituals and prayer. 30th April 2022 Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
5 months ago
With great happiness, merits and excitement that Penang Group have invited Buddha Wangzey to Penang chapel, complete with full rituals and prayer. 30th April 2022 Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
Come and get your blessing from Lama Tsongkhapa and Dorje Shugden in Penang @ Jalan Seang Tek ~ by Jacinta.
5 months ago
Come and get your blessing from Lama Tsongkhapa and Dorje Shugden in Penang @ Jalan Seang Tek ~ by Jacinta.
Special thanks to one of our dedicated Penang group members, Choong for superb tormas. Swift Return Puja @ every Saturday, 3pm. Do contact William for more info ~ by Jacinta
5 months ago
Special thanks to one of our dedicated Penang group members, Choong for superb tormas. Swift Return Puja @ every Saturday, 3pm. Do contact William for more info ~ by Jacinta
Thanks to William for being the Umze for Swift Return Puja at Penang Centre. ~ by Jacinta
5 months ago
Thanks to William for being the Umze for Swift Return Puja at Penang Centre. ~ by Jacinta
The members of Kechara Penang Study Group are offering serkym to Dorje Shugden and His entourage. There's puja every Saturday @ 3 pm at Penang Chapel, Jalan Seang Tek. All are welcome. ~by Jacinta
5 months ago
The members of Kechara Penang Study Group are offering serkym to Dorje Shugden and His entourage. There's puja every Saturday @ 3 pm at Penang Chapel, Jalan Seang Tek. All are welcome. ~by Jacinta
We are in the third week of Ramadan this year, and kind volunteers have never failed to feed people in need since Tengku Zatashah started this meaningful #zerofoodwastage initiative in 2016. The aim is to benefit the underprivileged with nice surplus food collected from Ramadan buffets. Every night during the month of Ramadan, volunteers collect surplus cooked food from hotels and distribute it to charity homes and low-income families. THANK YOU, Tengku, dedicated volunteers and hotel partners, for making this Ramadan special for the underprivileged. #kecharasoupkitchen #kecharafoodbank #kecharaempowerment - KSK @ Vivian
5 months ago
We are in the third week of Ramadan this year, and kind volunteers have never failed to feed people in need since Tengku Zatashah started this meaningful #zerofoodwastage initiative in 2016. The aim is to benefit the underprivileged with nice surplus food collected from Ramadan buffets. Every night during the month of Ramadan, volunteers collect surplus cooked food from hotels and distribute it to charity homes and low-income families. THANK YOU, Tengku, dedicated volunteers and hotel partners, for making this Ramadan special for the underprivileged. #kecharasoupkitchen #kecharafoodbank #kecharaempowerment - KSK @ Vivian
We were chanting Migsetma mantra at the time this picture was taken. Thanks to all our Penang members who are very committed to attend Swift Return puja weekly. Kechara Penang Study Group, every Saturday @ 3pm. ~by Jacinta
6 months ago
We were chanting Migsetma mantra at the time this picture was taken. Thanks to all our Penang members who are very committed to attend Swift Return puja weekly. Kechara Penang Study Group, every Saturday @ 3pm. ~by Jacinta
William, who is our leader/ Umze is cleaning the pantry and Gordon offered up 4 carton of packet drinks today. We cannot thank you enough for all kind hearted who sponsored various offerings weekly. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
6 months ago
William, who is our leader/ Umze is cleaning the pantry and Gordon offered up 4 carton of packet drinks today. We cannot thank you enough for all kind hearted who sponsored various offerings weekly. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
Siew Hong came with a basket of fruits while Choong, who is expert in baking offered tormas today for our Swift Return Puja. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
6 months ago
Siew Hong came with a basket of fruits while Choong, who is expert in baking offered tormas today for our Swift Return Puja. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta
Dedicated sisters, Sharyn and Swee Bee. They always make sure our puja offerings, especially fruits are arranged nicely. Kechara Penang Study Group ~ by Jacinta
6 months ago
Dedicated sisters, Sharyn and Swee Bee. They always make sure our puja offerings, especially fruits are arranged nicely. Kechara Penang Study Group ~ by Jacinta
Committed and hardworking Kechara Penang members, Mr. Tang and Mr. Huey. Really appreciate having you both at our weekly puja . Kechara Penang Study Group ~ by Jacinta
6 months ago
Committed and hardworking Kechara Penang members, Mr. Tang and Mr. Huey. Really appreciate having you both at our weekly puja . Kechara Penang Study Group ~ by Jacinta
KSK medic personnel have been tending to the needs of the clients every week. Their consistent kindness helps improve the medical welfare of those without a home. Thank you for serving and making them your priority on your weekends. #medicteam #kecharasoupkitchen #kecharafoodbank #kecharaempowerment
7 months ago
KSK medic personnel have been tending to the needs of the clients every week. Their consistent kindness helps improve the medical welfare of those without a home. Thank you for serving and making them your priority on your weekends. #medicteam #kecharasoupkitchen #kecharafoodbank #kecharaempowerment
In the midst of chaos, let's start healing. We have Dorje Shugden Puja every Saturday @ 3 pm. Contact William for more info. Kechara Penang Study Group. ~ by Jacinta.
7 months ago
In the midst of chaos, let's start healing. We have Dorje Shugden Puja every Saturday @ 3 pm. Contact William for more info. Kechara Penang Study Group. ~ by Jacinta.
7 months ago
Pastor is in da' house!!!! Kechara Penang Study Group @ Saturday, 3 pm. Contact William for more info ~ by Jacinta
7 months ago
Pastor is in da' house!!!! Kechara Penang Study Group @ Saturday, 3 pm. Contact William for more info ~ by Jacinta
7 months ago
8 months ago
After Dorje Shugden puja @Penang Chapel, Jalan Seang Tek, members went to a nearby vegetarian shop for gathering. #CNY2022 #HappyReunion by Jacinta.
8 months ago
After Dorje Shugden puja @Penang Chapel, Jalan Seang Tek, members went to a nearby vegetarian shop for gathering. #CNY2022 #HappyReunion by Jacinta.
In 2021, we've encountered far too many challenges—Pandemic, months-long lockdown, landslide, and flood. We are proud to witness Malaysians helping one another as these agonies come sequentially. Looking back to 2021, Kechara Soup Kitchen has made significant progress, with more to come in 2022. Every year, we move a little closer to our vision. We are immensely thankful to have such dedicated teams of volunteers willing to go above and beyond for our clients. Not to mention our sponsors and donors; none of this would have been possible without you. Thank you. Thank you for being you. Thank you for helping the underprivileged to a better future. Have a blessed year ahead from our hearts to your hearts. #2022 #newyear #kecharasoupkitchen #kecharafoodbank #kecharaempowerment
9 months ago
In 2021, we've encountered far too many challenges—Pandemic, months-long lockdown, landslide, and flood. We are proud to witness Malaysians helping one another as these agonies come sequentially. Looking back to 2021, Kechara Soup Kitchen has made significant progress, with more to come in 2022. Every year, we move a little closer to our vision. We are immensely thankful to have such dedicated teams of volunteers willing to go above and beyond for our clients. Not to mention our sponsors and donors; none of this would have been possible without you. Thank you. Thank you for being you. Thank you for helping the underprivileged to a better future. Have a blessed year ahead from our hearts to your hearts. #2022 #newyear #kecharasoupkitchen #kecharafoodbank #kecharaempowerment
Ipoh members were taking turns to offer Serkym and lights to Dorje Shugden. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
10 months ago
Ipoh members were taking turns to offer Serkym and lights to Dorje Shugden. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
Kechara Ipoh members were preparing for Dorje Shugden puja. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
10 months ago
Kechara Ipoh members were preparing for Dorje Shugden puja. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
Kechara Ipoh Study Group has carried out Dorje Shugden puja in Ipoh on 4th Dec 2021. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
10 months ago
Kechara Ipoh Study Group has carried out Dorje Shugden puja in Ipoh on 4th Dec 2021. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
Jun, our new Ipoh member, offered lights to Lama Tsongkhapa, Dorje Shugden & The Three Jewels. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
10 months ago
Jun, our new Ipoh member, offered lights to Lama Tsongkhapa, Dorje Shugden & The Three Jewels. So Kin Hoe (KISG)
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Dorje Shugden
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