The Early Show with Pastor Jean Ai

Oct 1, 2022 | Views: 168

Join Pastor Jean Ai as she shares news and unpacks real-world issues with a Dharma perspective, and offers practical advice that can help navigate the challenges we face every day.

 


 

How does Buddhism view population growth?

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai discusses how Buddhism views population growth, shares some of the ways a plant-based diet impacts the planet, and talks about upcoming plans and festivals.

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-03-07.mp4

 
Transcript:
Hi guys, first video today and of course it was going to be on a bike. I thought that today I would talk about how Buddhism views population growth, if population growth is possible in Buddhism, and how the Buddhist scriptures would explain population growth.

Before we answer that question, we first need to clear up the misconception that reincarnation is a “one in, one out” process. Someone passes away as a human and then takes rebirth as a human somewhere else.

Now, if you were to go by that misconception, then it would be obvious that population growth is not possible. However, population growth is possible within Buddhism and how that is explained is by considering the many different possibilities where we might take rebirth, whether reincarnation happens.

The Buddhist scriptures teach about the six realms of samsara, the three higher rebirths – the three higher realms – and the three lower realms. The three higher realms are the god realm, the demigod realm and the human realm, and there three lower ones are the animal realm, the hungry ghost/spirit realm – known as “yidag” in Tibetan – and the hell realms, the different levels of hell.

When someone dies, when a being dies, they can take rebirth in any one of these six realms. So a human may pass away and take rebirth as an animal. A god may pass away and take rebirth as someone in the hell realms. An animal may pass away and take rebirth as a human. If you consider, for example, just how many ants there are alone – just ants, not any other animals, alright – so just ants, there are literally trillions of ants on this planet. If any one of those ants passes away, or let’s say 10% of those ants pass away, and they take rebirth somewhere else, if 5% of those ants were to take rebirth as humans, then it’s kind of obvious that at some point, the population will grow. The human population will grow.

We’re just talking about ants alone, we’re not talking about all of the birds there are out there, you know, all of the creatures in the ocean, under the sea. So if you think about the animal realm alone, and just how many animals there are, and therefore just how many animals can pass away and take rebirth as humans, then it becomes logical that human population growth is very possible.

The other thing I also wanna point out is that Buddhism does teach that life can exist on other planets. It may not exist in the form that we’re familiar with, or in a form that we might recognise but life can exist on other planets. Since life can exist on other planets, on other galaxies, in other galaxies, in other realms, it is therefore not illogical to conclude that should any of those beings pass away on other planets, they might take rebirth as humans here on Earth. So if you put all of that together, that is how you would explain population growth according to Buddhism, and that is how you would explain that population growth is possible according to Buddhism.

Alright, so I hope that short explanation helped you guys today. If you’ve got any other questions, feel free to send them in to me and I’ll do my best to answer them.

And if anything I talked about wasn’t clear to you, also let me know so that I can clarify it for you. And that’s it from me for today, bye guys. See you next week.

Close transcript

Can capital leverage be a part of spiritual development?

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai discusses how capital leverage can be a part of spiritual development, shares how a plant-based diet impacts our water footprint, and shares some footage from the recent puja at the Tsem Rinpoche Outdoor Relic Stupa.

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-03-14.mp4

Transcript:
Hi guys, how’s it going? Welcome back to The Early Show with Pastor Jean Ai where I share with you news as well as unpack real-world events, and offer practical advice, all from a Dharma perspective, to help us to navigate the challenges that we face in everyday life.

Don’t worry, no bike stuff today, but I do want to talk about something that has been asked quite a few times. It is a topic that is frequently raised but I found the way this question asked to be particularly interesting. The way that it was phrased to be particularly interesting so I thought that I would share it with you all.

So before we continue, I just want to say a huge “thank you” to everyone who has sponsored a video. If you would like to sponsor a video as well, there is a link in the description section of this video where you can go and do that. And with that, let’s get started on today’s video.

So let’s talk about capital leverage. What is capital leverage? Capital leverage is connections, money, reputation and so on. I was asked this question about capital leverage and Buddhism some time ago – incidentally, when I was in the middle of a 200km bike ride. I answered the person at the time but I wanted to share the answer with you because I think that there may be something in the answer that might be beneficial to some people.

So the person’s actual question was:

If sufficient money is attained for a lifetime of personal spiritual practice,

  1. Is it not enough to solely focus on one’s own spiritual development?
  2. Or should one pursue capital leverage (money, connections, reputation, etc.) even more to
  3. Help spiritual centres, people, animals, change the world system, etc. basically “help others”
  4. And if one chooses to do both, in what ratios and why?

Like how to even go about thinking about those answers. What are we optimising for? What are some base assumptions?

So I told them that I would answer their questions back to front, so I would answer the last question first, all the way back to the first one, because you need to know the basis in order to be able to talk about everything else.

So they asked, what is the baseline and what are we optimising for? The base and what we are optimising for is what we believe in happens to us after death. Whatever it is that we believe happens to us after death, should be what informs our decisions and our actions now.

So why do people invest in certain companies? People invest in certain companies on the basis of how they feel the company will perform in the future, and that is based on how the company is performing now, based on whatever decisions the board is making now, based on whatever preparations they’re observing that the board has made for the future and so on.

So investment is an attempt to make an educated guess and for most people, it’s a best-guess scenario but there are some people who try and work out a formula that they feel will help them to deliver or feel will help them to achieve an optimal result. There are people amongst us who appear to have worked out that formula so we look to them for guidance. In investment, it would be people like Warren Buffett but in Buddhism, the people who have worked out the best formula to get the optimal result are people like the Buddha and people like our gurus.

So I repeat – the baseline and what we’re optimising for is what we believe happens to us after death. Whatever we believe will happen to us after death should be what informs our actions and what informs our decisions now. How can we come to a conclusion about what kind of actions and what kind of behaviour we should enact? With the guidance of people who have achieved the optimal result that we’re trying to get, which is the Buddhas and which is our gurus.

So the next part of the question is – if I have accumulated that necessary material resources in order to have a comfortable rest-of-my-life, is it not enough for me to focus only on my own spiritual development?

And the answer to that is, it’s fine and that there are traditions that do focus on that. And certainly most people are only able, at the moment, to be able to focus on our own development. However, there will come a time when our spiritual development will plateau because if only I develop, if only myself develops, if I only focus on myself, and I don’t include anyone else, have I truly grown? Have I reached the full potential of my spiritual practice?

So we have to combine this with the first part of the question, which is – what are we optimising for? If we’re only focusing on ourselves, and only focusing on our own development, is our optimal state a state whereby everyone else continues to suffer and only we don’t? How spiritual are we and what is the state of our practice if we can’t or if we’re unable to, or if we are unwilling to include other people?

So the adage “aim for the stars and if you don’t make it, then you’ll hit the moon” – and I’m obviously paraphrasing here – applies to us, it applies to our practice. If we aim to include everyone, it is doubtless that we will miss out some people. However, it is also equally doubtless that we will end up including certain people whom we might not have otherwise included.

So the question, “Can capital leverage be a part of Buddhism? Can capital leverage be a part of our spiritual practice, and to what extent, to what kind of ratio, can capital leverage be a part of our practice, and to what extent or to what ratio should the pursuit of capital leverage be a part of our spiritual practice?”

Whatever decision is made, if you wish to make capital leverage or the pursuit of capital leverage a part of your spiritual practice, the most important thing is to be as steady and steadfast in your motivation as possible. If you’re pursuing capital leverage in order to benefit somebody else, try to make that the core reason you’re doing so.

For most people, the reality is that our motivation is always shifting. Our motivation does not remain 100% altruistic all of the time, nor does it remain 100% selfish.

Even, for example, someone who is painted to be extremely self-serving, will always have a handful of people towards whom they generally feel more altruistic towards. So the practice for such someone who is pursuing such type of leverage? Keep adjusting their motivation back to the original one, to the original altruistic one.

And when I talk about adjusting our motivation back to the original one, I’m not just talking about it in relations to the pursuit of capital leverage. I’m also talking about it in other aspects of our spiritual practice as well. For example, when we do retreats or when we do prayers, if we don’t keep our motivation to be one of pure altruism, to be one of compassion, to be one of bodhicitta, even retreat can become “harmful” to our practice. For example, it can become something that boosts our ego instead of becoming a cause for us to practise humility.

“Oh, I’m doing retreat this week! I’ll be in retreat for the entire week!”

“Wow, that’s amazing! You are SO devoted!”

“Did you know I’ve done 1 million mandala offerings? I’ve even made a hole in my mandala set!”

“That’s incredible, you’re incredible!”

It would be unrealistic to say that the pursuit of capital leverage is completely unnecessary and should not be a part of our spiritual practice because the reality is that we have taken rebirth in a world and with a system that means that certain knowledge or certain institutions can only exist or can only proliferate with economic support.

For example, Buddhism very heavily relies on the kindness of sponsors. The sponsors, through their support, make it possible for the monasteries to stay open and makes it possible for the monks to focus on practice, to focus on study, to focus on teaching. If a monk or a teacher had to focus on farming, had to focus on dealing with students, had to focus on, you know, administrative things and so on, it would dilute what it is that they’re able to do. So imagine if someone like His Holiness the Dalai Lama had to spend all of his time dealing with sponsors, how would he be able to discharge the rest of his duties and do all of the things, and carry out all of the activities that we admire and respect him for? If an orphanage director has to keep focusing on raising funds, how can they give their full care to nurturing and to educating the people who are under their charge?

Now, capital leverage and the pursuit of it won’t take up all of our time. So in the moments between the pursuit, the question is what are we going to do? Because even if you make the pursuit of capital leverage a part of our spiritual practice, the reality is that at the moment of our death, and at the moment of our passing, we will not be able to take with us any of the leverage that we have accumulated. And so it falls to us to still engage in activities that will help to prepare us for the moment of our passing.

Under the umbrella of the activities that we can do and we can engage in, are things like retreats, things like meditation, and things like more practice and more study. Meditations, retreats and practices not only will help us at the time of death but if we engage in them consistently, they will help give us education, help give us knowledge, help give us information, which will then help us to realign our motivation in the pursuit of our capital leverage as well as helping us to create the foundation and basis for our success which is karma.

So last question! Phew! The question of ratios.

Generally speaking, there is no specific ratio for people to abide by because what works for one person, may not necessarily work for someone else. When we have a spiritual guide, our spiritual guide will train us and will guide us, and will give us instructions. So naturally, we will just follow that. In the absence of a spiritual guide, how we can make our decisions is based on compassion and based on wisdom. So if we combine our motivation together with compassion and wisdom, that is another way that we can transform the pursuit of capital leverage into part of our spiritual practice. For example, someone who pursues a good reputation or pursues celebrityhood, in order to gain a wider audience so that they can spread Dharma to them, can therefore make the pursuit of reputation, and that form of capital leverage, as part of their spiritual practice.

So in summary, the pursuit of capital leverage and the pursuit of things like wealth and reputation and so on, are not inherently bad if they’re done with a good motivation. Now, at our stage, it’s not easy for us to constantly and consistently practise a good motivation, but it’s made easier when we increase our study, and we increase things like our meditative practice, and our meditation sessions, in order to increase our mental clarity, to increase our wisdom, and to increase our awareness. The key for us is to keep revisiting and to keep realigning our motivation, and to practise doing this over and over again. Each time we feel it slipping, to readjust it, adjust it, and keep readjusting it until we find that having this motivation to benefit others comes naturally and comes consistently to us.

Alright, so there’s your answer for “Can capital leverage be a part of Buddhism, be a part of our spiritual practice?” I hope that there was something in this week’s sharing that you found useful, that you found beneficial. If anything wasn’t clear, please ask. Please let me know. And if you’ve got any questions of your own, no matter how weird you think it is, no matter how basic you think it is, no matter how strange you think it is – please ask and I’ll be more than happy to do my best, to try and answer it for you. Thank you guys so much for watching. This is “Dharma Breakdown” for this week and I’ll see you guys next Sunday, bye.

Close transcript

How does Buddhism view income inequality?

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai discusses how Buddhism views income inequality, before she unpacks a box (new toy, yaay!) and shares some interesting photos from the Tsem Rinpoche Relic Stupa Project.

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-03-21.mp4

Transcript:
Hi guys, welcome back to “The Early Show with Pastor Jean Ai” where I share with you news as well as unpack real-world events, and offer practical advice, all from a Dharma perspective, to help us to navigate the challenges that we face in everyday life.

Today, we’re going to be talking about income inequality and how Buddhism views it but before we start, I just want to remind you guys that next week, there won’t be a video on The Early Show. But there will be a livestream at 10am GMT+8, which is 10am Malaysian time. So mark your calendars and set your alarms, and get your questions ready for next week.

When we’re talking about income inequality in relations to Buddhism, the first thing that we need to do is to establish a basis which is that Buddhism believes in equality and in equanimity. Because fundamentally speaking, there is no difference between any sentient being. This is because every sentient being has a Buddhanature which is a being’s potential to become enlightened regardless of their race, regardless of their culture, regardless of their background, regardless of their gender, and even regardless of their species.

Since every sentient being – not just human – has the potential to become a Buddha, it is therefore our responsibility to treat all beings fairly, to treat them equally, and to value them in every aspect. So if it’s our responsibility to treat all beings equally, why then does inequality such as income inequality exist?

Inequality exists when discrimination and prejudice are present. This means that you believe that some people or a group of people are more deserving than others. A recent example that some of you may be aware of is the case of male athletes being paid more than female athletes. So if we’re talking about income inequality and we’re talking about the existence of inequality as a result of discrimination and prejudice, we therefore also need to talk about why and how discrimination and prejudice exist.

First, discrimination and prejudice exist as a result of ignorance. I’m not talking about the simple kind of ignorance, the straightforward kind of ignorance that all of us know about which is, you know, “I don’t know this”, “I don’t know that”, “I’ve never heard of this” – that kind of thing.

I’m talking about deeper ignorance, I’m talking about a much more subtle form of ignorance. The kind of ignorance that thinks that there is an inherent self, the kind of ignorance that thinks that phenomena inherently exists, and the kind of ignorance that thinks that phenomena is permanent. It’s the kind of ignorance that thinks that some people are more deserving than others, that some people are better than others.

And the second reason why inequality exists is, and the second reason why prejudice and discrimination exist, is because of karma. The karma to have more or less. The karma to be discriminated against, whether it’s positively or negatively. The karma for us to experience change. As Buddhists, we can never forget that our entire situation and everything that we perceive and everything that we experience is all the result of karma.

So why is it that some people have more money than others? Why is it that some people find it easier to get money compared to other people? Why is it that some people are always poor, no matter how much it is that they struggle or how much it is that they hustle? All of this is the result of karma.

It is also the result of karma that determines how much education we receive. It is also the result of karma that determines what skills and how many skills we can train in. It is also the result of karma that determines the employment market at the time that we’re looking for work. It is also the result of karma whether we are in a position to partake in generational wealth and so on.

Even our mindset and our attitude are the product of karma. For example, some people are far more entrepreneurial than others. Some people have the mindset that they are more deserving of something than other people. Even that sense of entitlement is the result of karma.

Even the fact that some people are more driven by their cravings and by their desire to acquire, to get, that is also the result of karma. So at the end of the day, everything goes back to karma. Everything.

And so some people have the karma for wealth whereas other people do not. Some people have the karma to experience income inequality in their favour, whereas others do not. And no matter how much is done, no matter how much they try, if there’s no karma for wealth to be triggered, it will never come.

It’s not something that most people want to hear because it sounds like nothing can be done. But there are things that can be done in order to create the causes, in order to create the karma for wealth to be triggered. And that is why Buddhism teaches certain practices which are intended to create an energy of increase so that we can acquire or we can gather the necessary resources that we need in order to support our spiritual practice.

Before we end for today, there are a couple more things that I would like to address. The first is regarding attitudes towards wealth and towards having a high income.

Owning wealth or having a high income is not necessarily seen as a problem for Buddhists but Buddhists do believe that it can cause suffering if:

  1. Wealth is the focus of greed
  2. Wealth is gained through wrong livelihood, for example exploitation
  3. Wealth fuels our desire and attachments
  4. Wealth presents as a distraction or provides opportunities for distraction

However, wealth is also viewed as a great opportunity for generosity, which benefits not only the recipient but the giver as well, because it is a virtuous action.

Let’s take, for example, the first incarnation of our guru His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, Magadha Sangmo. Magadha Sangmo was a disciple of Buddha Shakyamuni and her father, Sudatta, was a very kind and generous sponsor of Buddha Shakyamuni. As a result of Sudatta’s generosity, Lord Buddha was able to reside in Jetavana Grove, which ended up becoming Shakyamuni’s first monastic abode.

So it’s not wealth or having a high income that creates suffering but it’s our attitude towards it. Similarly, the lack of a high income is not what causes us suffering and not what causes us dissatisfaction, and that’s the second point that I would like to address today.

There are people who live in a barter economy, who have absolutely no concept of money, no concept of an income and have never seen money before. Yet people in this type of environment can still experience dissatisfaction and can still experience suffering.

So what actually causes suffering is our desire and our perception of a high income being something that’s valuable and being something that’s desirable. When we desire something and we don’t have it, and then we are told we SHOULD have it, that it’s something that we should aspire towards, the disparity between having and not having, plus the desire to acquire it, plus seeing how other people have it and we don’t, that is what causes us suffering. It’s not the lack of income itself that causes us suffering.

That’s not to say that lacking an income causes no suffering at all. That’s not to say that having a low income causes no suffering at all. Of course if you don’t have money, there are many things that remain inaccessible to us, that you have to struggle for. So lack of wealth does, up to a certain extent, cause suffering.

But even science shows that when it comes to having money or when it comes to having a high income, there is a ceiling amount to earn and after that, happiness is no longer linked to wealth. So it’s not the lack of wealth which causes suffering, but it’s our desire.

It is not having a high income which causes suffering but our desire. It is not income inequality that causes suffering but our desire. It is not having a high income which causes suffering, it is all about our attitude and all of that – having wealth, not having wealth – all of that is the result of karma.

So I hope that was clear. If you guys have any questions, please feel free to ask me. And that was the brief, condensed explanation for how Buddhism views income inequality.

Close transcript

How to deal with dying

Synopsis:
Join Pastor Jean Ai as she answers your questions in this once-a-month livestream! Our apologies for the technical difficulties midway! This month, she starts off with a sharing on death.

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-03-28.mp4

Transcript:
So I thought that since Qing Ming is coming up soon on April 4 which is next Sunday, and there are going to be a lot of activities held on livestream – so virtually, there’ll be a lot of activities held on that day in conjunction with that, so I thought that what we can talk about today is the very light-hearted topic of death.

I figured it would probably be helpful to come up with a topic to share, and give you guys some food for thought in case you’ve had a very busy week and you haven’t been able to come up with questions for me so let’s start with a short sharing and then we can go from there.

But fair warning, I will be answering questions later, towards the end of the broadcast, towards the end of the livestream so get your thinking hats on and get your questions ready and then I’ll answer them then.

Before we continue, I do want to thank our sponsor for today’s video, who is Dee Dee, who dedicates her contribution “to all strays. May they gain some benefit from this sharing. May humans develop more compassion for animals.”

So thank you very much Dee Dee for your sponsorship and for your support of the programmes.

So today, we’re going to be talking about death. And when we talk about death in Buddhism, it’s not spoken about with a sense of morbidity. I know that some of us can be quite superstitious or – in Malaysia, as we say – can be quite ‘pantang’ about it, thinking that if we talk about death, we are somehow inviting it. And to a certain extent, that is true, that can be the case but in Buddhism, generally, overall speaking, when we speak about death, when we talk about death or when we meditate on it, or when we contemplate on it, it’s a very powerful practice, death meditation.

We talk about death, we meditate on it from the approach, with the attitude of practicality. With the attitude of reality. So practically speaking, because no one can escape death; reality being that everyone is going to pass at some point.

So with a practical approach, when we meditate on death, we are thinking about what we can do in order to prepare ourselves for it. And when we talk and meditate on death as well, it may surprise some of you to know that such a practice, such a meditation, can be actually very liberating. And I’ll explain later why death meditation is liberating.

So for most of us, we normally experience death at quite a young age. Usually it’s when our grandparents pass away, or when our parents take us to a memorial service or something for someone that they know. Or when a pet passes away. Normally our first experience of death comes from when we’re quite young, whether it’s a grandparent passing away or if it’s a pet passing away, or if a friend of our parent passes away so we go to a memorial or something like that.

Death meditation is a very powerful practice. Death is one of the Four Sights that Buddha Shakyamuni saw, which prompted him to leave the palace to pursue spiritual practice. It was actually the third of the Four Sights that Buddha Shakyamuni saw.

So the First Sight that Buddha Shakyamuni saw was someone who was very old. The second one was someone who was very sick, and then the third one was someone who had passed away. The fourth one, in case you guys want to know, is a medicant or an ascetic.

So after seeing the third of the Four Sights, which was a funeral, which was a corpse, Buddha Shakyamuni returned to the palace and the sight triggered him to engage in death meditation. So Buddha Shakyamuni meditated and thought, “Is everyone I know going to pass away? Is anyone free from death? Will my beautiful wife die one day? Will my beautiful son, my beloved son, die one day? Can anyone escape death? Can anyone cheat death?”

And Shakyamuni came to the realisation – or Prince Siddhartha, at that time – came to the realisation that it’s not possible for anyone to escape death and if we’re unable to do anything about this situation, about that fact, if we have no control over it, it’s a form of suffering.

So that unease at that realisation led Shakyamuni to leave the palace, and eventually led Shakyamuni to leave the palace for good, and to pursue spiritual practice. Why is that such a powerful meditation? Because if Prince Siddhartha hadn’t left the palace at that time, hadn’t gone to meditate, hadn’t gone to pursue his spiritual practice, pursue a spiritual path, none of us would be here today. The entire corpus of Buddhist teachings, or Buddha’s teachings, would not exist today to provide us with a method or provide us with a path to leave samsara, to leave suffering behind, to alleviate other people’s suffering.

So death meditation is one of the triggers that led Shakyamuni to leave the palace, which then led to him becoming enlightened, which then led to a set of teachings which all of us are able to benefit from today. Alright? So an extremely powerful meditation.

Now when we talk about death, or when we consider the benefits of death meditation, what we also need to look into are the characteristics of death itself.

So the characteristics of death are that it is inevitable. That it’s going to happen. It can come at any time so it’s not predictable, we don’t know when it’s going to happen, it can come at any moment. So, a characteristic being that it is unpredictable.

It’s not related to our age and it’s not related to how old we are. So it doesn’t matter if we are five years old, five days old, five years old, five months old, 25 years old, 95 years old, 105 years old – it can come at any moment. When I was in university – I want to say I was 18, 19 – someone in our university halls passed away. He went to sleep one night and his heart just stopped. His heart just stopped when he was asleep and he never woke up again.

So it can happen at any moment and we never know when, and it’s not related to our age. You get some people who are their 90s, in their 100s who are extremely healthy, and you get some people who seemingly succumb to illness when they’re very, very young.

Another characteristic of death is that it can be fast or it can be slow. So it can be fast as in perhaps we meet with an accident and then the death is instant. Or it can be slow in that we experience terminal illness for a long period of time.

Another characteristic of death is that we can’t cheat it and we can’t escape it, and it is universal.

And there is a very famous story from the Buddha’s time which some of you may be familiar with, which explains the universality of death, it’s the story of Kisa Gotami. So Kisa Gotami was a lady who lived during Buddha’s time. And she had a young son and this young son, her only son, passed away. And of course she was extremely distraught by this turn of events so Kisa Gotami carried her son in her arms, and she went from house to house. And she asked all of her neighbours, begging them, “Please help me, please help me revive my son. Please help me to cure my son and bring him back.”

Every single household that she went to, everyone wasn’t able to help her. They said, “We can’t help you.”

So finally someone who was very kind told her, “Go and see the Buddha. Buddha Shakyamuni will be able to help you, to provide you with a cure for your son, to bring him back to life.”

And so with her son, she ran to see Buddha Shakyamuni and then she prostrated in front of Shakyamuni, and she begged Shakyamuni, “Please help me bring back my son.”

And Shakyamuni said, he very kindly told her, “Okay, I will help you, to bring your son back. But what I need is a mustard seed, or mustard seeds, from the house which has not been touched by death.”

So Buddha Shakyamuni promised her, “If you can bring me a mustard seed from a house that has not been touched by death, I can make a medicine for you to bring your son back.”

So she was completely overjoyed because finally, it felt like she had found a solution to her problem. So she ran out the whole place looking for this mustard seed. But every single household that she went to, you know, she would ask them, “Do you have a mustard seed?” and they were like, “Well yes, we have mustard seeds.”

“Have you ever been touched by death, has your household been touched by death?”

And every single household she went to, they would always answer, “Yeah you know, my parent died.” “My child passed away, my aunty passed away, my uncle passed away, my grandfather passed away, my grandmother passed away.”

Every single house she went to, somebody had passed away. So Kisa Gotami, she kept searching, kept searching, kept searching because she lost her son, so she really wanted to bring him back. And by the time the sun had set, she realised that death is universal, that there’s no way that we can cheat or escape death, and that there’s nothing that can be done to bring her son back. So she buried her son in the forest and then went back to Buddha Shakyamuni, where she received her first Dharma teaching.

So this story about Kisa Gotami is very famous in Buddhism for showing us how universal death is. So those are the characteristics of death.

That death is universal, that it’s inevitable, that it can come at any time, that it’s uncertain, that it’s not related to how old we are and not related to our age, that it can be fast, it can be slow, that we can’t cheat and we can’t escape it.

You guys can see the story of Kisa Gotami, you can search for it online, that’s how you spell her name down there. So you can search for it online and read it, and also read how Shakyamuni was so kind to her, not to tell her straight out that “I’ll never be able to bring your son back” but allowed her to come to that realisation on her own. And also the Dharma teaching that Shakyamuni gave to her after she came back to him with the realisation that death is universal.

When does death actually come? Death comes when our karma to sustain this life, to sustain this set of circumstances that we’re experiencing, ends. So when our karma to be in this life ends, that is when death will come.

Now death meditation, as I mentioned before, can be a very powerful practice.

Meditating on death can prompt urgency in us to practise because we don’t know when we will die. So as Rinpoche always says, if not now, when? And if we meditate on death, we realise that if we don’t know when death will come, and we cannot predict the moment of our death, it behooves us to practise immediately, now.

Meditating on the death will also prompt the realisation that the truth of our existence is impermanence. That no matter how good things may seem at the moment or, indeed, no matter how bad things can seem at the moment, eventually the set of circumstances for this bad or good situation will pass, will end.

Death meditation can also make us more kind, it can make us more forgiving and it can help us to let go of things more easily because if you don’t know when you’re going to pass, do you really want to spend the rest of your time, however long or however short it may be, holding onto a grudge or showing anger to somebody?

Death meditation, another benefit, is also making us less attached because when we meditate on death every single day, we live with the realisation that at some point, we will have to let go of everything. That we will not be able to bring everything with us. And so our attachment to material objects, our attachment to gain – or, as Rinpoche described it to me, the strength of our practice of the Eight Worldly Dharmas – will lessen if we meditate on death every single day.

Another benefit of death meditation is that it makes us less afraid of failure and that’s the part about it being liberating that I mentioned earlier. Why does death meditation make us less afraid of failure? Because if you mess up, what do you have to lose? With death meditation, you develop the understanding that everything is impermanent so if you fail, the failure’s only temporary. If you know that you’ve nothing left to lose because you have to give it up anyway at the moment of death, why not just try? Why not just go for it, why not just go for the things that you are afraid of?

So in that way, it’s very liberating because fear is something that stops us from trying new things. Fear is something that stops us from committing all the way to something. For example, fear or doubt is something that stops us from committing all the way to our spiritual practice, from committing all the way to our guru. So when we meditate on death, regularly, consistently, it can become a very liberating exercise for us.

In all of these ways, if we were to meditate on death consistently, the ultimate benefit is that we will see very, very swift progress in our spiritual development.

What Rinpoche explained to us before was that the real benefit of tantric practices such as Vajra Yogini, is the ability to control our death and the ability to control our rebirth. That is actually the real benefit.

Why is that the real benefit? Because if you gain some kind of accomplishments through your tantric practice and you’re able to control your death and your rebirth, you are able to guarantee that you will consistently and continuously take rebirth in a place where you can continue your practice of Dharma and therefore take the next step in your spiritual practice, and progress in your spiritual practice.

If we were to meditate on death consistently, we would develop this sense of urgency to practise. When you develop this sense of urgency to practise, you will see swift results in your spiritual development.

For example, if you haven’t received tantra yet, you will quickly find yourself in a position where you’re ready to receive tantra. If you have received tantra, you will quickly find yourself in a position where you can develop attainments from your practice. What Rinpoche explained was that the real attainments of tantric practice is not being able to fly in the sky, it’s not being able to see into the future or have clairvoyance. It’s not the ability to generate inner heat or to be able to take sustenance from the sun and so on. All of those are tools for our spiritual practice.

For example, the ability to generate inner heat means that you can be in a very, very cold place and continue your practice without being distracted by the fact that you’re too cold or too hot.

Being able to take sustenance from the sun, means that you’re able to practise in a very remote and isolated place, so you don’t have to worry about food or water. Being able to fly in the sky means that you can travel great distances to receive Dharma teachings.

So all of those abilities are not the end result that we’re aiming for but what Rinpoche explained was that the end result that we aim for, is the ability to control our death and our rebirth, in order to guarantee that we can progress in our spiritual practice in our next life.

And that is one of the benefits of consistent death meditation is prompting a sense of urgency in us to practise and to gain results. Therefore resulting in spiritual progress.

So when we meditate on death, and we understand death, it removes the biggest fears that we have about death. The biggest fears being what happens after we die, the fear being that it’s going to be painful, the fear that we don’t know when it’s going to come, and the fear that – and this one, I think a lot of people will be familiar with – but the fear that we will die with regrets because we haven’t done everything that we wanted to do, or that we will pass away with this so-called “unfinished business”.

So when you meditate consistently on death, it will prompt urgency to practise, make us less attached, make us less afraid of failure, prompt the realisation that our existence – the truth of our existence – is impermanence, make us kinder, make us more forgiving. And all of these will lead to us being less fearful of death.

Why is it important for us to become less fearful of death? And I’m talking about the unconstructive kind of fear, I’m not talking about the fear that leads us to feel that sense of urgency to actually practise. I’m talking about the fear that’s paralysing. That is why fear is not constructive to our practice if it manifests in the paralytic, paralysing kind of way.

So meditating on death, confronting death, seeing death is the first step for us to turn that fear energy, or that sense of fear that we have about the topic of death, into something that’s productive.

Now, we’re talking about death meditation and all that but in a very straightforward way, in a very prosaic way, how can we deal with death? Since all of us have to experience death at some point, how can we deal with death?

So we can deal with death from two approaches. From the approach of the death of others, and from the approach of our own passing.

Now, when we talk about the death of someone else and how we deal with the death of other people, the advice that I’m going to share with you guys comes from when my grandmother died. And it was advice that was given to me by Rinpoche. I’ve put a thingy down here for you guys to Google, “tsemrinpoche.com Advice at a Funeral” and you can read the full blogpost as well as the handwritten notes for the talk, for the advice that was given to us when my grandmother passed away.

So yes, it was specific to our family, specific to that instance of my grandmother passing but it’s advice that can also be applied and practised by other people as well. The core message that Rinpoche gave us when our grandmother passed away, and how to deal with her death was to focus on those who are left behind, focus on the people who are left behind.

So Rinpoche taught us that the way to deal with my grandmother’s passing was to focus on our grandfather and Rinpoche said that we should take care of him and make sure that he’s never alone. And that my grandmother and grandfather had been married for decades, and they had been together for decades, and they had done everything together for decades. And so now, my grandfather has lost his life partner.

For us, to deal with our grief, we should focus on the people, on the person who has been left behind, which is our grandfather, my grandfather. Rinpoche said that he has been very strong for all of us, to put on a very brave face and not cry during her funeral, and so now it’s time for the family to be strong for him.

So how we can deal with other people dying is to focus on taking care of those who are left behind.

And Rinpoche told us to focus out and to focus on what it is that we can do for them. Focus on what it is that we can do for the people who are left behind, or the people who have passed.

And this is a very powerful practice, why? Because when we dwell on something, or when we ruminate on something, so we think about it over and over again, and we play it back in our heads over and over again, so we keep hitting ‘rewind’, ‘play’, ‘rewind’, ‘play’, ‘rewind’, ‘play’. Alright? So when we keep doing that, what we’re doing is we’re directing energy to something, to a feeling, to a thought, so that it grows.

So what is it that JP is always teaching in his meditation classes? “If you see a thought come, let it go.” “If you see a thought come, let it go.” “Refocus your attention on your breath, refocus your attention on your breath.”

And it’s the same thing with this. This is another method, or another manifestation, of that practice of observing something and then letting it go. Not feeding it with too much energy. So when we dwell or when we ruminate on something, we are directing energy towards a thought or towards a feeling, for it to grow. And we’re feeding that sense of anger, or we’re feeding that sense of abandonment, we’re feeding that grief, that depression and so on.

When we remove that source of energy, that feeling, that emotion, that thought starts to reduce. Starts to become smaller, starts to decrease, starts to die down.

How Rinpoche explained it to us, the analogy that Rinpoche used to explain to us is that of an engine. Rinpoche talked about there being an engine with, for example, six inlets for gasoline and that engine powers a lightbulb. What Rinpoche said is that that gasoline is when we focus on ourselves, and when we think about ourselves. Basically, our selfishness.

And the gasoline constantly feeds the engine. Our selfishness, our thoughts about our self, our self-cherishing, self-grasping goes into the engine and that lightbulb that the engine is powering is our afflictive emotions and is our suffering.

So what Rinpoche said is that as we cut off the inlets one by one…let’s say five, since it’s easier. You know, there’s engine, lightbulb, ok? If we cut off this inlet, the lightbulb here grows dimmer. If we cut off this inlet, the lightbulb here grows dimmer. If we cut off this inlet, dimmer. Dimmer. And then finally, it’s gone, it’s out. The lightbulb is out.

So what Rinpoche explained was that each time we cut off an inlet, that is us making a decision in that moment not to focus on ourselves. That is us making a decision in that moment not to be selfish, and not to act out of selfishness, to focus out on other people.

When we focus out on helping others, when we focus on helping the people who are left behind, or when we focus on the person who has passed and helping them, we are creating space for ourselves to heal. We are creating space for ourselves to heal from the grief, to recover because we’re not feeding. How are we not feeding it? We’re not feeding it because we are focused on helping someone else to heal. Alright?

So how we can deal with the passing or the death of somebody else is by focusing out, focusing on the people who are left behind or focusing on the person who has passed. And not just that but also using our connection with them to benefit them somehow. How can we do that? We can do that by making offerings for them. We can do that by doing practices for them and dedicating the merits to them for their future lives.

So earlier, I talked about how we can approach death in two ways, one being the death of others, the other being the death of ourselves. Now why should our attitude towards our own death be any different to our attitude towards the death of people whom we love? Towards the passing of people whom we love?

If we go to such great lengths to help people whom we love, then isn’t it logical that we should prepare for our own deaths with the same kind of effort, because we know that it is going to come and we also know that we DON’T know when it’s going to come.

If we have that understanding and we have that realisation, isn’t it logical for us to put in the same amount of effort to preparing for our own passing, as much preparation as we do for when other people pass?

If we are constantly sponsoring pujas, constantly making offerings for people who have passed, how come we don’t put in the same level of effort and preparation to our own passing, knowing that it’s going to come but not knowing when it’s going to come?

Alright? So what can we do to prepare for our own passing, with the understanding that for most of us who are watching this, we have not yet – not yet! – developed the ability to control our death and our rebirth?

What we can do is make merit. We need tonnes of merit. Why do we need tonnes of merit, why do we need to focus on merit-making activities? We need to do that because we don’t know how much merit we have, simple as that. Ok? There is no bank statement that you can pull out at the end of every month to check your merit balance. There is no bank clerk that you can go to, to consult. You can’t like, “Hey Buddha, can you please send me a sign of how much merit I have left?” Alright?

We just don’t know how much merit we have left so it behooves us to engage and create as much merit as possible. How can we do that? We can do that, for example, by making offerings to the sangha, making offerings to our guru, making offerings to the temple. We can do that by volunteering, by getting involved in our centre’s activities.

We can do that by doing retreats, for example, prostration retreats. For example, water bowl, water offering retreats. For example, mandala retreats. And using all the time we have, all of our “spare time”, to do practices. Our general habit, for most of us, is to put things off. So we think like, “When my kids are grown up, I will do retreats” or “When things settle down at work, then I will do retreats” or, in this case, “When the borders reopen and there’s interstate travel again, then I’ll come and do offerings in KFR”.

The thing is, what if things never settle down at work? What if, touch wood, you don’t make it to see your kids grow up? What if all the pre-conditions that we have set in order to do more practice never manifests in the way that we expect? Why is it that we are hinging our making of offerings on whether the borders will open up or not? Why is that we are hinging our retreats, or engaging in retreats, on whether we can come to KFR or not? We can start with our practice right here, right now from wherever we are.

Remember that one characteristic of death is that the timing is uncertain and so if we’re always setting conditions for our practice – “I will do it when this happens, I will get involved when this happens, I will do retreats when things settle down at work, or when my children grow up” and so on – we are setting conditions thinking that our situation is predictable, and thinking that our current situation is permanent and that we can project into the future in a linear fashion. But the reality is, the fact is that we can’t.

So what we can do to prepare for our own deaths is to do as much practice as possible in our spare time and to not give in to our “natural” habit to put things off, to procrastinate. Knowing that our deaths will come one day, as a spiritual practitioner we should think, “I have all of these responsibilities in my life and I’m working on fulfilling these responsibilities in my life. I have all of these responsibilities of this life and I’m working on them. I should also make the time to take care of the responsibilities that I have towards my future life.”

Or we should also think, “I love my family. I love my friends. I love my Dharma brothers and sisters. As a spiritual practitioner, I want to do all I can to make sure that they don’t worry about me when I die.”

When we see people who are extremely practised, who pass away, do we worry about where it is that they are going to go, or where it is that they are going to take rebirth? For example, Geshe Thupten of Shar Gaden just passed away a couple of days ago, a few days ago. Passed away peacefully, without any pain, without any illness. Passed away because he’s old. But when you hear of somebody like that, do you wonder where they’re going to take rebirth or do you think, “No, they have been practising all of their lives, I have absolutely no worries about where they will take rebirth. I would only like to make offerings to generate merit.”

There’s absolutely no worry for when someone who is practised passes away. So if we are spiritual practitioners and we love our family, we love our friends, we love our Dharma brothers and sisters, it makes sense that we should think, “I want to do all I can to make sure that they don’t worry about me when I pass.”

Alright? So we can prepare, we can approach death and how to deal with death from two perspectives. The passing of someone else, the passing of other people and the passing of ourselves.

How we can prepare for the passing of other people is by focusing out, on the others and focusing on those who have been left behind, and focus on taking care of them.

How we can prepare for our own passing is by doing as many activities as possible to create as much merit as possible, so that we create the causes to have a good future rebirth. If we have a sense of responsibility towards how our present life – how it goes, whether it goes well or not – we should also have the same sense of responsibility towards our future life and what happens to us after we die.

So what I want to do this week is, I want to keep things nice and short this week, just like all the other videos in this Early Show series, so that it’s not so overwhelming. I wanted to give you guys a little bit to chew on and to think about, and hopefully add to or change your perspective of death. Because I know that some people don’t really like to talk about death, but the thing is when we deny the truth, when we deny reality, it’s only wasting our time and it’s wasting time that we could’ve spent preparing ourselves and preparing other people for our passing.

Alright so…I tried to keep it as lighthearted as possible when talking about something as serious as death. There are articles on Rinpoche’s blog which talk about the process of dying – I believe it’s called “The Dying Process” – and there are articles on Rinpoche’s blog which talk about death meditation as well, and also guide us on some light meditations on death. So I do highly, highly, highly, highly encourage everyone to go and read up on those because it’s going to come. Death is going to come. When it’s going to come, we don’t know; how it’s going to come, we also don’t know. Whether it’s fast or slow, whether it’s going to be painful or not painful, whether it’s going to be natural or “unnatural”…and what is worse out of all of that is, we don’t know where we’re going to go after we pass.

So being aware of all of these things, and understanding all of these things, it should behoove us to generate and develop a sense of urgency towards our practice, develop a sense of urgency towards our efforts to make merit, and that is why we should meditate on death. Because it’s the practical thing to do, it’s us reminding ourselves about the reality of our current existence, and it’s liberating because it removes the paralysing fear of death and replaces it with a sense of urgency, with a sense of “I need to do something about this. I’ve got to do something about this, so let’s start doing something about this now” as opposed to waiting until later.

Alright? So that’s it from me in terms of formal sharing this week. Do you guys have any questions or do you guys have any comments?

Close transcript

Why do some Buddhists abstain from meat?

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai discusses why some Buddhists are vegetarian (whilst others aren’t!), before she takes a trip to the local supermarket to check out some accidentally vegan snacks, and shares more photos from the Tsem Rinpoche Relic Stupa Project.

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-04-04.mp4

Transcript:
Hello everyone, how’s it going? Welcome back to The Early Show with me, Pastor Jean Ai, where I share with you news as well as unpack real-world issues, and offer practical advice, all from a Dharma perspective, to help us to navigate the challenges that we face every day.

So before we start, I just want to say a big ‘thank you’ to Dee Dee who has sponsored today’s video. Today we’re going to be talking about abstaining from meat. Specifically, why is it that some Buddhists abstain from meat whereas others don’t?

The topic for this video has actually arisen out of a question that was posed to me on the Kechara YouTube channel. They asked:

What do you say to people that point out that Buddha was not vegan or vegetarian and so this should not be touted as a requirement? A famous teacher on YouTube says that we cannot avoid suffering or causing suffering and so spending energy on a vegan or vegetarian lifestyle is not of use in the grand scheme. Instead we should completely focus on becoming enlightened as fast as possible so we can be of true benefit. I believe that if you are focusing on not harming beings it is improving your mind and giving you the habit of living compassionately and so it suits this end as well. What do you think?

So before I start talking, the first thing I am going to say is that different traditions have different approaches so I’m going to answer this question based on our tradition, and based on what it is that our guru, His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, has taught us.

So being vegetarian is not compulsory but eating meat is incongruous with the development of compassion. The question that we need to ask ourselves is, how can we be part of a supply-demand chain that directly contributes to the imprisonment, torture and, ultimately, murder of a sentient being, whilst we’re praying for the liberation of all sentient beings?

Whilst we can’t avoid creating suffering or causing suffering because we are in samsra, if we can avoid creating more suffering or if we can avoid being part of a supply-demand chain that directly results in someone else’s suffering, that has directly arisen to cause suffering to another being, why not?

So the other thing that our guru, Rinpoche, asked us to consider is also the concept of energies. We use our mouth to recite compassion mantras like OM MANI PEME HUNG. How can we then use that same mouth to consume something which possesses the energy of death, pain, suffering and torture?

Rinpoche said it’s not very logical for us to use our mouths to recite OM MANI PEME HUNG, OM MANI PEME HUNG, OM MANI PEME HUNG, and have our mouth become a source of compassion energy when we’re then, simultaneously, passing food that is the result of someone else’s pain.

Now the thing about being vegetarian or vegan is that it’s no longer difficult to have a diet that is plant-based and a diet that is meat-free. It’s no longer compulsory for us to have to eat meat in order to stay healthy, in order to sustain a healthy human body.

In a place like Tibet, where crops were very difficult to grow, where agriculture was not easy, traditionally it was permissible to eat meat. But the thing is, most of us who ask this question DON’T live in a place where we don’t have access to plant-based sources of food. Most of us don’t live in areas where we lack total access to a variety of vegetables, to a variety of grains, in order to maintain a healthy diet. Most of us DON’T live in places where it is completely impossible or where it would be a struggle to be vegetarian. So if we don’t opt for a plant-based diet, if we don’t opt to be vegetarian or vegan, and we choose to eat meat because it’s easier, then that is just simply laziness talking.

And by the way, I do want to point out that even going vegetarian in Tibet, even being vegetarian in Tibet, had immense merits. Many, many years ago, Rinpoche had us read a book which was authored by a meditator and yogi by the name of Shabkar. The book is called “Food of Bodhisattvas” and in this book, Shabkar actually lays out, details and describes the specific karmic consequences of eating meat.

Shabkar also breaks down and explains why the excuses that we present for continuing to eat meat, are all illogical.

So then you might ask, “How come some monks from some traditions consume meat?” and that is because they are practising non-attachment. The practice of eating whatever it is that is offered to them. They don’t pick or choose what it is that they wish to eat. They don’t pick and choose based on what it is that they enjoy. They eat whatever is offered to them.

But again, that is not the issue for most of us. Most of us are asking this question whilst we’re sitting in a restaurant. Most of us who are asking this question, are walking through supermarkets where we have plenty of access to all sources of nutrition. Most of us have the ability to not choose meat and yet we still do, based on our attachment to it.

And yes, it’s been said that Buddha ate meat, that Buddha wasn’t vegetarian, and that Buddha never specified that vegetarianism or a plant-based diet is compulsory. But we have to take that in a wider context.

First, Buddha said, “Don’t kill.” And so when you eat meat, something has to die in order for you to eat meat. You can’t eat meat without killing something.

Second, even in eating meat, the Buddha laid down some caveats and certain conditions that have to be met in order to be able to consume the meat. For example, you can’t eat meat that you know has been specifically killed for you. Let’s say you’re walking a supermarket and you see the meat aisle. Since you’re buying into the supply and demand chain, and you become a part of the supply-demand chain, the argument can be made therefore that the meat was killed for you.

Third, Buddha knew the teachings would spread to regions or areas of the world where sources of food and nutrition are very difficult to find or that meat is the only thing that’s available to eat or that meat is considered the best thing to offer. So if Buddha had dictated that vegetarianism was compulsory, it would have made it very difficult for some monks in some areas to find food or it would’ve made it very difficult for the people of that region to make the best offerings available to the monks.

Fourth, the argument is made that “the Buddha ate meat” and so therefore all of us should be able to eat meat too. Well, the Buddha ate meat, yes but the Buddha also did retreats. The Buddha also gathered a sangha, the Buddha also gave teachings. The Buddha also brought people to Enlightenment. Are we doing all of that as well? So, if we’re not doing all of that as well, why is it that we’re being so selective when it comes to eating meat? Why is it that we single out meat-eating as the one thing that the Buddha does do, and therefore that allows us to do it as well?

The Buddha was enlightened, are we?

For the Buddha to consume meat, it’s a blessing for the animal since the Buddha is enlightened. Will it be the same blessing for the animal if the unenlightened us were to eat meat? On what basis would that blessing come?

So when we make the argument that the Buddha ate meat, and therefore we should be allowed to do so as well, or when we make the argument that the Buddha never stated that being vegetarian is compulsory, or when we make the case to defend meat-eating, or we attack vegetarianism as being non-compulsory, we need to check and we need to think about what our motivation is.

Are we defending meat-eating out of an effort to protect our own attachment?

Why is it that we we focus on “the Buddha ate meat” or “the Buddha never banned meat-eating” and make that the focus and use those as reasons? The Buddha also said, “Do retreats. Do prayers. Do offerings to the sangha. Meditate” and so on. Do we do all of that?

If we don’t do all of that, why is it that we’re picking and choosing which precepts it is that we wish to follow? Why is it that we’re picking and choosing which teachings it is that we wish to follow? How about all the precepts which ARE compulsory as Buddhists who have taken refuge, such as not lying, not stealing or not creating schism in the sangha? Do we practise all of those perfectly? And how come we spend more energy defending our meat consumption, as opposed to improving our practice?

So I can’t speak for other people and I can’t speak for other traditions but I can speak for what it is that Rinpoche taught us. These days, being vegetarian or being vegan or being plant-based doesn’t require very much effort and is not very difficult anymore. And so, if we can abstain from eating meat, and we can avoid eating something that is the result of another being’s death, and we can do all of this very easily, and without very much effort, then why not?

Now what I can also tell you is that sometimes being plant-based can come with its own set of “problems”. For example, some people can develop an attachment to being on a plant-based diet. For example, other people can become very nasty or can become very hostile in defending their choice of diet. On the other end of the scale, you can have people who beat themselves up or make themselves feel really bad when they slip or when they make a mistake.

But the issue there isn’t with the diet. The issue there isn’t about what it is that we’re eating or what it is that we’re not eating. The issue there is our attachment. So as long as we’re attached, that is the main problem. But if we can avoid causing harm to another being through our diet, if it doesn’t require very much effort on our part to avoid causing harm to another being through our diet, then why not?

Alright, so I hope that answers the question of why some Buddhists abstain from eating meat whereas others do not. If it is effortless to abstain from eating meat, as is the case for most of us, it is something that we should strongly consider doing. As Buddhists, we take vows to minimise the harm, and to minimise the pain and suffering that we cause to others, and giving up meat is the easiest and most straightforward way for many of us to hold that vow, immediately, right here, right now.

Close transcript

Sponsoring temples versus donating to charity

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai discusses donating to temples versus donating to charities, before she debunks the top five reasons people give for not going plant-based, and talks about upcoming events.

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-04-11.mp4

Transcript:
Hi guys, welcome back to The Early Show with me, Pastor Jean Ai, where I share with you news as well as unpack real-world events, and offer practical advice, all from a Dharma perspective, to help us to navigate the challenges that we face every day.

Before we start on today’s topic, I would like to thank Dee Dee for sponsoring today’s video. Today, we’re going to be talking about the difference between making offerings to a temple versus making donations to a charity.

So why did I want to talk about this topic? Why did I want to answer this question? I know that it is a question that is asked by many people. “Why should I donate to a temple?” “What are the benefits of donating to a temple?” “Why not donate to a charity?” “Isn’t it better donating to a charity?” I know that these are questions that many people have asked Rinpoche in the past.

Most people who ask this question are very well-meaning. They ask the question because they work very hard, because they have a limited set of resources, because they want to help and because they want to know the best way of helping.

So, let me answer the question!

First of all, there is nothing wrong with donating to a charity. Charities do a lot of important work to support people, to support animals who need help. They help people find homes, they assist people with their mental health, they help to distribute food, they extend medical aid, they rescue stray dogs and so on.

But when we talk about donating to a temple versus donating to a charity, what we have to do is consider the nature of the subject that we’re donating towards.

Primarily, consider what it is that the subject represents because that will, in turn, reflect on the level of benefit that our contribution will create.

When we donate to a charity, the work that charities do is on the ordinary level. And I want to stress this, that when I use the word ‘ordinary’, I’m saying it without judgement. I’m using it purely a descriptor and not to imply that there’s something wrong or that there’s something bad. As unenlightened humans, we are ordinary beings who have ordinary views and we need ordinary help.

Both charities and temples offer help, whether it’s tangible or intangible, but consider what it is that a temple represents. A temple or a monastery represents a home for the Three Jewels which are the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha. So when you donate to a temple, you’re donating to an institution that offers help on an ultimate level.

So when you help the temple or you donate to a monastery, or you support a Dharma organisation, what you’re doing is you’re creating an opportunity for more people to receive help and to receive support that will extend beyond this lifetime.

And what does that mean? If the temple stays open, it means that more people can connect with their lama, more people can connect with their yidam (meditational deity) and more people can connect with their Dharma Protector like Dorje Shugden.

If the centre is able to print more Buddha images, it means that more people have seeds of enlightenment planted in their mindstream.

If the temple is able to publish more books, it means that more people can connect with and can study the Dharma.

And if the monastery is able to stay open and able to support more students, it means then that more people can study and more people can become teachers who can then go out and help to spread the Dharma.

Why is all of that important? Think about the relief that you have felt from meeting your teacher. Think about the relief that you have felt from meeting the Dharma and think about the relief that you have felt from meeting your Dharma family.

Think about all of the relief that you yourself have experienced since you first met the Dharma and it can be any kind of relief.

It can be the relief that your Dharma Protector saved you from some kind of awful situation.

It can be the relief that your kids learned some Dharma principles and so they can then grow up to be kinder, wiser, good people.

It can even be the relief that you know that you’re going to be OK after death.

Or it can be the relief that you know that at least you’ll be able to come back in your next lifetime in order to practise again.

So when you support your temple or you support your centre, or you support your monastery, you’re helping to create and provide a platform so that people in the future can access that same kind of relief.

And here’s the thing – there are temples and centres and monasteries that are doing the same kind of work as charities. Tzu Chi, for example, are very active in disaster relief. The monasteries in India and Nepal are also active in disaster relief, as well as extending their aid and their assistance to the local areas around them. And here in Kechara, we have a soup kitchen that was started by our guru, His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, that distributes up to 10,000 packets of food every single month.

And when we talk about supporting charities that do the important work of mental health, when people find Dharma, when people find Buddhism, when people find the teachings of Lord Buddha, the support to their mental health is immeasurable.

How do we know that Buddhism can help in this way? How do we know that the Dharma can help in this way? Our guru, His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, told us to always look at the example of the old monks who are practised and who hold their vows. And I’ve seen this for myself. The old monks who are practised and who hold their vows, they don’t talk about issues like having low self-esteem, they don’t talk about issues like being anger-driven, they don’t talk about things like having depression, and they don’t suffer from degenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s.

The old monks who are practised and who hold their vows, physically they may be very frail and very weak but mentally, they’re extremely bright, extremely sharp and very, very quick. They’re happy, they’re very light in their energy and in their feeling, they have no anger, they’ve got no jealousy, they’ve got no depression and they’ve got…not a single trace of bitterness in them. So there is definitely something within Dharma that leads to this kind of mental health result if we practise.

Now having said all o that, I do want to stress again that there is absolutely nothing wrong with donating to a charity. Donating to charities is definitely a good thing, and if for whatever reason you don’t wish to support a temple, or you don’t wish to support a monastery or a Dharma centre, then definitely donate to a charity.

However, if you want to know the difference between donating to a Dharma centre or a temple, versus donating to a charity, that’s my honest answer. The main difference is the nature of the subject that you’re donating to and that, in turn, influences the level of benefit that you’re able to create with your contribution. So if you want to maximise the benefit from your contribution, my honest answer is, and always will be, donate to a temple.

Close transcript

How does Buddhism approach stray animals?

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai discusses Buddhism’s approach to stray animals, before unboxing a super sweet delivery from the UK, and talks about a new service being offered by Kechara.

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-04-18.mp4

Transcript:
Hi guys, welcome back to The Early Show with me, Pastor Jean Ai, where I share with you news as well as unpack real-world events, and offer practical advice, all from a Dharma perspective, to help us to navigate the challenges that we face every day.

Before we start on today’s video, I just want to thank Wah Lee, Karen and Esther, as well as a sponsor who wishes to remain anonymous, for contributing to today’s video. I also want to remind you guys that next week, there isn’t going to be a video for this show but there will be a livestream so mark your calendars, set your alarms and get your questions ready and we’ll have a nice conversation on Facebook next week. And fingers crossed there won’t be technical issues that crop up again!

Now today, we’re going to be talking about Buddhism’s approach to stray animals, which is a question that was posed to me by someone who is a huge animal lover.

So what is a stray animal? A stray animal is, quite simply, an animal without a home. That’s the only thing that distinguishes it from any other animal, for example a pet or a farm animal or a wild animal. So as Buddhists, our approach to stray animals is to first consider the causes that have been created in order for a sentient being to take rebirth as an animal, much less a stray.

When we see a stray animal, we should take the opportunity to meditate on karma and think, “That could be me one day. I might take rebirth as an animal in my next life” and then we show kindness based on that [meditation].

Normally, when we talk about taking rebirth as an animal, most people say it quite casually, without much consideration given to all of the different iterations that such a rebirth could take.

Somehow, for most of us, when we talk or we joke about taking rebirth as an animal, most of us automatically somehow think that we will take rebirth as somebody’s pet. So strays give us a very good example of how this is not necessarily automatically the case.

A sentient being who takes rebirth as an animal might take rebirth as the pet of a lama or a teacher, and so they will have seeds of Dharma planted in their mindstream.

Or we might take rebirth as the pet of a normal person, where we are loved but our life is very ordinary, so we just eat, sleep, procreate and we don’t get any Dharma imprints.

Or we might take rebirth as an animal that’s hunted, or one that’s stuck in a factory farm.

Or we might take rebirth as a stray that somehow finds its way to a Dharma centre or to a monastery.

Or we might take rebirth as a stray that’s chased away or abused.

Or we might take rebirth as a fish in the very deepest, darkest depths of the ocean.

There are so, so many places where we can take rebirth as an animal and so when we see strays right in front of us, it should remind us of this.

Now, so since strays are sentient beings who created causes in a previous life to take rebirth as an animal, by that logic a stray could have been our parent in a previous life. As Buddhists, since we receognise that strays could have been our mother in a previous life, on that basis we should show kindness to them.

We should also show kindness to strays on the basis that they’re sentient beings and that as Buddhists, we have taken vows to benefit all sentient beings. Isn’t that what we pray for every day? Since that is what we pray for every day, it is therefore our responsibility as Buddhists to show kindness to them.

When you help an animal, you don’t get anything in return. So helping an animal is an expression of our practice of compassion because you get absolutely nothing in return, not even a “thank you”.

When you help a stray, that is even more the case. It is an extension of real compassion because you get absolutely nothing in return. You can’t even enjoy the so-called “reward” of ownership and being able to call them “my pet” which actually reinforces an illusory sense of ownership over another sentient being’s life.

So as Buddhists, what should our approach to strays be? What should we do when we see a stray? And when I say “stray”, I mean any kind of stray. It could be a stray dog, stray cat, stray bird, stray fish – stray anything.

For me, I take the example of our guru, H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche who always carried animal food in his car. Rinpoche would always carry food and water in his car, and would always make it a point to stop by the side of the road to feed stray animals, especially those who are mothers because they’ve got babies to feed.

Rinpoche would normally carry a mix of dry food and wet food. Dry food because it’s cheaper, wet food because it somehow smells more delicious to stray animals. Rinpoche would also recite mantras out loud for them, normally Medicine Buddha mantra, Manjushri’s mantra or Dorje Shugden’s mantra. The mantras would be blown onto their food, or blown onto the animal if appropriate, but they would always be recited out loud so that seeds of Dharma can be imprinted on their minds.

Rinpoche was always helping stray animals and in fact, one of the last times when I went out with Rinpoche, one of the places we went to was a nearby town and there was a dog that was roaming the streets. Rinpoche sat patiently waiting in the car, whilst I attempted to coax the dog into my car.

If we’re in a position to do so, we should also arrange for stray animals to be spayed and neutered. And if it’s possible, bring them home, help them, get them treated and then get them adopted out to a loving family.

Or, if you’re not in a position to help stray animals but you know of someone else who is doing so, for example a rescue organisation or an animal shelter, then give your support to them. If you know of someone else who has made it their practice to regularly feed strays, then buy food for them.

As Buddhists, our approach to strays is very, very simple approach which is, to just be kind. You don’t have to be an animal lover to show kindness to stray animals. You don’t have to be the kind of person who coos and who fusses and who is very expressive in their affection towards animals. To show kindness to a stray animal, you just need to be a person who recognises animals as living, breathing sentient beings who are just as deserving as you are of not suffering as you are, and then help them on the basis of that.

Close transcript

Dealing with instability and crisis

Synopsis:
Join Pastor Jean Ai as she answers your questions in this once-a-month livestream! This month, she starts off with a sharing on dealing with instability and crisis.

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-04-25.mp4

Transcript:
Today, I thought that what I would talk about is how to deal with instability and how to deal with crisis. Given what is happening in the world around us these days, and how quickly things are changing, how fast everything seems to be moving, how new issues seem to crop up every single day. Like, literally just before this livestream, I was reading some news about how India is now moving into, I believe, the second wave of infections, of the pandemic? And that many, many people are affected, many people are suffering, and at one point I think it was 3,000 people are passing away every single day.

So yeah, things are moving incredibly quickly these days and new issues seem to be cropping up every single day, so I figured that this week, if we were to talk about how to deal with instability and how to deal with crisis, it might have some relevance for us at this time.

So as usual, my plan is to keep this sharing a little bit on the shorter side so that we can get through as many of your questions as possible. If you guys do have any questions, please put them up in the comments section of this livestream and I will try to get through them, and if I don’t manage to then I will respond after the livestream.

Also, a big “thank you” to the sponsor of today’s livestream who wishes to remain anonymous, so thank you very much. They would like to dedicate their sponsorship towards all beings’ liberation from suffering and attainment of compassion, wisdom and true happiness. So thank you very much for your support of these programmes, not just mine but everyone else’s as well. If you would like to sponsor a show, there is a link in the description of this livestream so please click on it if you’d like to show your support.

So, dealing with instability and dealing with crisis. There are different types of instability. Some examples of instability include instability of situations or instability of even people. But for today, I’m only going to talk about the instability of situations because I want to make it easier for us to focus on the topic and to understand it. And if we were to address other forms of instability such as instability of people, instability of practice, instability of emotions and so on, that is a different matter and it will take us much, much longer to cover that particular topic.

So let’s talk about the characteristics of situational instability and how it leads to crisis, in the sense of how situational instability leads us feel and their sort of qualities and their results.

Situational instability is scary because it leaves us with a feeling of being destabilised, as though we can’t deal with a situation or as though we’re unable to cope or we’re not equipped to deal with what’s happening around us. And situational instability, in such instances, we can’t predict what is going on or what’s going to happen or what’s going to happen next. We feel like we can’t predict people’s reactions or we can’t predict people’s behaviours. And that unpredictability and that uncertainty is, for most people, very destabilising and can be very scary. So as a result of this, situational instability has a negative connotation. And the reason for that is because it’s seen as the opposite of stability, which is painted to be a positive thing.

But what is situational instability at its core? Situational instability, at its core, means something that’s changing, something that’s in flux, something that’s moving, and it has elements of unpredictability within it and includes elements of erratic changes.

So in essence, in other words, another word for instability is impermanence.

So when we really look at situational instability, what about it really frightens us, if we really boil it down to its essence, to its crux, to the foundations, we reduce it down to its most basic level – what really frightens us about situational instability is actually impermanence.

And that fear of impermanence comes as a result of us not understanding impermanence, or not having realised impermanence, or not having internalised the teachings on it, or not having accepted it, still denying it or in some cases, with some people, still trying to fight it. So, doing their best to fight the truth of our existence which is impermanence. So how we can learn to deal with situational instability and crisis more effectively, actually, is to meditate on impermanence.

And I know that for people, it’s going to sound like a cop-out or it’s going to sound like “oh I’ve heard that before”, or something that you’ve heard before. But if instability is actually impermanence, the best way that you can deal with it is by understanding how it arises and understanding that impermanence is the truth of our existence. That our existence is characterised by impermanence.

So meditating on impermanence therefore, can become a very, very powerful practice because it reminds us that things are always changing. And it also trains us into letting things go, in being able to let go, in not clinging. In not clinging, for example, to an idea that things are supposed to be a certain way, that things are supposed to be stable, that things are supposed to be unchanging. So when we meditate on impermanence and we understand, and we realise and we have internalised the truth of our existence which is impermanence, that will help us to become more effective in dealing with situational instability, in dealing with crisis. When we understand that instability is part and parcel of life or of existence in samsara.

When we realise and we accept the truth of impermanence, which is what Lord Buddha taught, then we won’t be surprised when things go wrong, and we won’t be surprised when there’s a crisis that crops up, and we won’t be surprised when things are unstable or when things are always changing.

And that is exactly what His Eminence Kensur Rinpoche Jampa Yeshe said our Rinpoche, Tsem Rinpoche. His Eminence Kensur Rinpoche was the ex-abbot of Gaden Shartse Monastery, and also the guru of our guru, His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche. So Kensur Rinpoche said to our Rinpoche, “Why are you surprised when things go wrong in samsara? You should be surprised when things go right.”

What Kensur Rinpoche was explaining is that things will always go wrong. That we will always be subjected to crisis and that we will always be subjected to instability, we’ll always be subjected to change because we are still subjected to our karma. Because we are still beings living in samsara. We’re still taking rebirth within samsara.

And that is the same thing as what our Rinpoche taught us, which is that things in samsara will always go wrong, that is its nature. So don’t be surprised when they do go wrong.

So another way of becoming better, becoming more effective at dealing with instability and dealing with crisis is, actually, to meditate on karma. Meditate on the reasons why our existence is not stable, why things are always changing, why we’re always experiencing crises, why we’re always experiencing situations where things are unstable which causes us suffering. Why we will always have things go wrong in our life, why we will always have things in our lives which we cannot predict, which are unexpected. Right?

So someone who is surprised by instability, and someone who is surprised by crisis is basically a person who is denying that karma exists. Who is denying the fact that karma can come to fruition at any time, for things to go wrong or for things to not go according to plan.

So meditating on karma, meditating on the reasons why we experience instability and why we experience crisis, the cause of it. And that if we’re always surprised when things go wrong, we’re actually denying karma, we’re actually denying the fact that karma can fruition at any time for us to experience this instability.

So meditating on karma and understanding karma will really help us to deal with situational instability and crisis much better because we understand the causes of it. And so when it happens, it doesn’t throw us off-kilter, it doesn’t destabilise us. We feel more in control and we feel more equipped, we have better ability to deal with something if we understand that if things don’t work out the way that we want or the way that we expect, we did the best we can.

But meditating on karma doesn’t just make us better at dealing with situational instability but it also helps us to understand that how the way we act now – how we presently act now – is actually creating the causes for us to continue to experience this suffering in the future, whether that future is within this life itself or whether that future is in a future life. So when we meditate on karma, I’ll say it’s a two-fold benefit but it’s actually a many, many, manifold benefit – but in this case, within the context of this topic, it’s a two-fold benefit.

It has the benefit of us understanding and not being surprised when things go wrong because we understand that there’s a karmic basis for it.

It also helps to prepare us and to realise that the actions and how we react now, and our behaviour now – our body, speech and mind now – is creating the causes to continue to experience this suffering in the future, whether that future is within this lifetime or in a future lifetime. And that is one of the three types of suffering that Buddha Shakyamuni actually talked about, which is the suffering of change.

So when we meditate on karma, we understand the Buddha’s teachings much better and that also brings us to another way of becoming better at dealing with instability or dealing with crisis, which is to manage our expectations. What is a crisis, first of all, what is a crisis? A crisis is when things don’t go the way that we expected or things don’t go the way that we planned for, despite our best efforts they don’t go according to plan.

So by managing expectations, by adjusting our expectations, by meditating on impermanence and realising that our expectations are going to shift from time to time, and that if we hold on to it it’s going to create a lot more suffering for us, we in this way become better equipped to deal with crises because we don’t expect for things to go our way, we don’t expect for things to go the way we planned, we don’t expect for things to go exactly as we have attempted to predict.

So how can we understand this much better? We can understand this much better in terms of crisis management which is “When things go wrong, how can I best mitigate its effects?” So managing our expectations is “how can I best mitigate its effects” and there’s two types of crisis management. There is crisis management from a secular approach, right, which is like there are crisis management courses? People go to learn how to deal with crisis. So there is a secular approach to crisis management.

Now there is also a spiritual approach of crisis management, and that is the ultimate form of crisis management because you’re actually preparing way ahead of time by removing the causes, by reducing the causes, by addressing the causes for why things may possibly go wrong in the future. And the spiritual form of crisis management, if you want to put it that way, is actually related to our practice. So if we want to properly manage crisis, if we want to properly manage situational instability, or learn how to create the best basis for us to experience less instability and to experience fewer crises in the future, KNOWING that things are unstable, KNOWING that things are going to be unstable, KNOWING that we’re still subjected to our karma – all of this should in fact prompt us to practise more. Should in fact prompt us to commit more deeply to our practice.

So when things go wrong, stop. Take a breath. Instead of freaking out and instead of letting our emotions take over, instead of getting on this runaway train or getting on this wild elephant, or whatever analogy you want to use; instead of bulldozing our way and then panicking, stop, take a breath, meditate and think, “What I am experiencing now is the result of my karma. What I am experiencing now is the result of karma I have created. I am at the mercy of my karma. I am adrift in a sea of karma. And the reality of my existence is impermanence. The reality of my existence is that I have no control over my life and whatever control I have over my life is merely perceived because I am still subjected to my karma. And the reality is that despite I may perceive that I have control, ultimately I have no control over things that happen, ultimately I have no control over my death.”

Now when you meditate on that, is it scary? When you think about that, is it scary? It is! I mean, the reality is that it’s scary, right, because for people like us, we really genuinely have no control over our rebirth, over where we’re going to take rebirth, over where we’re going to die. If we were someone who had attainments, if we were someone who was practised, if we were someone who was fully committed to our practice, if we were someone who was holding our vows – our tantric vows – if we were someone with perfect samaya with our gurus, it’s not going to be scary. But for people like us – ordinary people like us – of course it’s going to be scary. But the question is, it may be scary now but does it have to remain scary? Does it have to be scary forever? And the answer to that is, no. It doesn’t have to be scary. It doesn’t have to be scary if we practise, if we actually do something about it. It doesn’t have to be scary if we use our fear of instability, if we use our fear of impermanence, if we use our fear of uncertainty, of unpredictability, of crisis – if we use that fear and we direct it towards doing something. If we use that fear energy to do something, then it becomes empowering, that fear becomes empowering. There is a very fine line between fear and between empowerment, and that fine line is actually what we do with the fear, what we use that energy of fear to accomplish because remember – fear is an energy, just like how desire is an energy, just like how anger is an energy, just like how jealousy is an energy. All of these things are energies that can be directed, that can be redirected towards accomplishing something. Towards accomplishing a beneficial result for ourselves, for our practice and for other people. And it’s up to us to determine what we want that fear energy to result in. What Rinpoche taught us is that fear is potent, and I’m sure you may have seen this quote circulating: “Fear is potent when it motivates us to make changes for the better.”

And that’s what I mean by this, is that when we fear instability, when we fear crisis, when we fear unpredictability, when we fear uncertainty, we should meditate on the causes of that fear, meditate on the causes of that instability, meditate on the causes of the impermanence, and realise and understand that the causes of that is karma. And meditate on the nature of that instability, meditate on the nature of our existence which is impermanence. Meditate on the impermanence of our situation and of our existence, not just in the immediate period, not just within this lifetime itself but at the point of death. Meditate on the lack of control we have over our rebirth. When we meditate on all of this and that fear arises, it should prompt us to actually double down on our practice. Why? Because if you’re scared, do something about the fear instead of allowing that fear to paralyse us. And I believe I talked about this in the previous series which is how fear is paralysing and how we can overcome that fear, and how we can use that energy of fear to create a beneficial result for us.

So when you fear instability, meditate and think where that instability arises from. Meditate on the causes of that instability, meditate on the causes of that crises and when that fear arises, use that to double down on our practice, use that to become even more committed to our practice. And more committed to our efforts to create merit, and to create the causes for a good rebirth in a place where we are able to practise Dharma, in a place where we are in even more control or better equipped to deal with things that are always changing.

Alright? So meditate on the causes of instability, meditate on impermanence, meditate on the fact that another word for ‘instability’ is actually ‘impermanence’. And that our existence, the fact that we are remaining in…the fact that we are beings existing in samsara, things are always going to be unstable, things are always going to be changing, things are always going to be impermanent. And if we really want to put an end to it once and for all, we need to create the causes, we need to create the merit to continue to take rebirth, to continue to be in conducive conditions where we can continue our practice, where we can focus more on our practice so that we no longer have to experience this suffering of change that Buddha Shakyamuni talked about.

Close transcript

Why are Tibetan Buddhist altars so fancy?

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai discusses why Buddhist altars are so fancy, shares about plant-based sources of protein, and talks about upcoming Wesak Day celebrations.

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-05-02.mp4

Transcript:
Hi guys, how’s it going? Welcome back to The Early Show with me, Pastor Jean Ai, where I share with you news as well as unpack real-world events, and offer practical advice, all from a Dharma perspective, to help us navigate the challenges that we face every day.

Before we start on today’s topic, I would just like to say a big ‘thank you’ to the sponsor of today’s video who wishes to remain anonymous but would like to dedicate their contribution towards all beings’ liberation from suffering and attainment of compassion, wisdom and true happiness.

Now today, we’re going to be talking about Buddhist altars, specifically why is it that Buddhist altars are so fancy. One of the questions that I’m often asked is, “OMG PASTOR JEAN AI, shouldn’t the money spent on the altar be given to charity instead?” Which, incidentally, is a question that I’ve answered in previous weeks so I’ll put a link to that video in the description section below.

So let’s get on with today’s topic. Why are Tibetan Buddhist altars so fancy? Why do Buddhists spend so much on their altar?

Our altars are the physical manifestation of our practice, a physical representation of our practice. They’re a focal point, something for us to concentrate on, to focus on whilst we’re doing our daily prayers, and our daily practices and our daily sadhana. Our altars are also an opportunity for us to generate merit by making offerings towards the Three Jewels, which are the Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. So Buddhists will try to make our altars as elaborate as possible, to create the basis for good things to happen to us, as well as to create the conducive conditions needed for us to continue with our practice.

Now let’s talk about why some people comment about the fanciness or the elaborateness of altars. How come some people find it that strange that altars can be so elaborate and so fancy, and they question it? That’s because the altar is not their priority and generally speaking, the reason why it’s not their priority is either lack of knowledge or lack of commitment towards their practice.

So our guru, His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, asked us to look at what our priorities are. When we look at our lives, what is it that we spend the most money on? What in our lives is the most ornate, is the most ornamented, is the most decorated? Some people drive nice, big cars but when it comes to their altars, Rinpoche said that you need a magnifying glass to find their statues. Some people are decked out in the finest jewellery and in designer clothes but when it comes to their statues, their statues are dusty, and the clothes may be rotting, the brocade may be falling apart and so on.

So what Rinpoche taught us is that this reflects what it is that we prioritise. And it’s very logical – you spend more money on what it is that you value, and you invest more in what it is that you prioritise.

These days, we celebrate fancy material possessions, we advertise it, talk about it, we put it all over social media, we sing praises of it. So what I’ll say is this – let’s normalise having fancy altars, just as we have normalised having fancy cars, fancy houses, going on fancy holidays and having fancy clothes. Let’s make it normal to invest in our spiritual life and in our spiritual practice, over and above everything else that’s worldly and of this lifetime only.

Close transcript

Does Buddhism believe in aliens?

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai discusses if Buddhism believes in aliens, talks about some plant-based influencers, and shares footage from a special animal liberation ceremony.

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-05-09.mp4

Transcript:
Hi guys, how’s it going? Welcome back to The Early Show with me, Pastor Jean Ai, where I share with you news as well as unpack real-world events, and offer practical advice, all from a Dharma perspective, to help us navigate the challenges that we face every day.

Before we start, I would just like to say a big ‘thank you’ to the sponsors of today’s video, Andrew Tan as well as someone who wishes to remain anonymous. Thank you so much for your sponsorship and support of this programme.

Now today, we’re going to be talking about aliens. Well actually, the question is “What do you think will happen when our universe eventually ends, and earth dies out? Will we be reincarnated into a different planet or even a different universe?”

So let’s answer the first part of this two-part question – what do I think will happen when our universe eventually ends and the earth dies out?

I know that it will be replaced by something because that is exactly what the scriptures say. The scriptures say that once the time of the current Buddha is over, the new Buddha will appear at Bodhgaya.

So obviously in a few thousand years’ time, Bodhgaya won’t exist in exactly the same state as it is now. So what our guru, His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche explained, is that what the scriptures mean is not that the future Buddha will appear in Bodhgaya itself, as it appears now. What the scriptures mean is that the future Buddha will appear at that very point in space where Bodhgaya is currently located.

So whether Bodhgaya itself will actually exist in a few thousand years’ time, at that point in time, as it appears now, we don’t know but the future Buddha will appear at that very point in space, just as the current Buddha has predicted.

So from that, we can infer that when the Earth eventually dies out, it will be replaced by something else so that the future Buddha can appear there.

Now as for the second part of the question, I really think that it can be summarised as, “Do aliens exist?” because if we’re talking about being reincarnated on another planet, then we’re inferring that life exists on other planets. Which means that if we’re asking if life actually exists on other planets, we’re in fact asking if aliens exist.

Now the short answer to that is ‘yes’ and interestingly, Rinpoche has answered that question for us before.

Rinpoche said that we took rebirth here on Earth because of our karma, and that Earth exists in the way that it does as a result of our collective karma. So when our karma changes, the place that we take rebirth will change as well and when our karma changes, we can take rebirth in a completely different part of the universe, on a completely different planet. And when there are changes to our collective karma for the Earth to exist the way it does, then the Earth will change too.

So we can take rebirth anywhere in the universe, in any point, in any location. Our “problem” here is that when we’re talking about taking rebirth as a human, we have a very fixed view of what it means to take rebirth as a human or what it means to take rebirth in the human realm. In a different part of the universe – in a totally different part of the universe – what it means to be ‘human’ can be something completely different, and it can exist beyond the realm of our imagination, beyond the realm of our perception and beyond the realm of our understanding.

Now, the original reason for why Rinpoche was even talking to us about any of this was because Rinpoche was teaching us about reincarnation, and about how our hang-ups and our fixations can cause us suffering.

Rinpoche said that our hang-ups and our fixations in this lifetime can leave very, very strong imprints, which can then go on to cause us great suffering if we were to take rebirth on another planet.

For example, Rinpoche said that beings on another planet may not necessarily eat in the same way as us, they may not even eat the same things, they may not need so much sleep, they may not drink water. So for example, on this planet, humans eat by putting food into our mouths, by chewing and then by swallowing. On another planet however, Rinpoche explained that the people there may eat by touching their fingers to food.

So if our fixation on this planet and in this rebirth is eating and getting good food, and we’re constantly looking for good food and to consume food in a particular way, imagine how much suffering we will experience if this strong imprint is carried forward with us into our future lifetimes, on another planet where eating food in that way that we’re used to with that imprint is no longer biologically or physically possible.

So do beings on other planets exist? Rinpoche said yes, they do. Just because we can’t see them at this time, just because we can’t communicate at this time, just because we cannot hear them at this time, does not mean that they do not exist. They may simply exist in a different form, on a different plane, on a different level that we’re just not able to reach out to yet.

And so can we take rebirth on another planet? Definitely. Even if this planet or this universe is completely destroyed, we will still take rebirth somewhere because our karma to take rebirth has not been extinguished. Now what form we take rebirth at that time is dependent on our karma, and what planet we take rebirth on at that time, is also dependent on our karma.

So if the Earth implodes and dies out in a thousand years’ time, in a billion years’ time – whatever – where will we take rebirth if we’re still not enlightened at that time? Literally anywhere else in this galaxy, in other galaxies, in other universes. Basically, anywhere that our karma will take us.

Close transcript

What does Buddhism say about having children?

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai discusses what Buddhism says about having children, talks about egg substitutes (and the problem with eating eggs), and touches on the impact of Malaysia’s latest lockdown on upcoming events.

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-05-16.mp4

Transcript:
Hi guys, welcome back to The Early Show with me, Pastor Jean Ai, where I share with you news as well as unpack real-world events, and offer practical advice, all from a Dharma perspective, to help us navigate the challenges that we face every day.

Before we start on today’s video, I would just like to say a big “thank you” to the sponsor of today’s video who wishes to remain anonymous, but would like to dedicate their contribution towards all beings’ liberation from suffering and attainment of compassion, wisdom and true happiness. Thank you so much for your sponsorship and for your continued support of this programme.

So today’s topic might ruffle a few feathers because it concerns something that’s considered very precious for many people. We’re told that we should covet it, we’re told that we should want to have it, and if we don’t have it or we don’t want to have it, then we’re told that there’s something wrong with us.

And you guessed it – it is about children!

So let’s get a couple of things out of the way first.

First, there is no requirement in Buddhism that people have to be married in order to become a parent, or in order to have children.

Similarly, Buddhism does not teach that it is someone’s duty to have kids. For Buddhists who feel that they should, it is cultural tradition and not because the scriptures say that it is our spiritual obligation to have kids.

So that’s right – you wanna have kids? Up to you.

You don’t wanna have kids? Also up to you.

But know this – there is a reason why monks and nuns remain celibate and don’t have kids, so that they can direct their full energy and full purpose towards their spiritual practice instead of being distracted by other elements.

So let’s say you already have kids. Or let’s say you’re planning to have kids.

What are you going to do? What our guru His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche explained is that if you’re going to have children, make sure that you raise them with Dharma imprints, Dharma values and Dharma ethics so that they can grow up to become agents of change to affect positivity in this world.

Having kids should not be about fixing a relationship. It should not be about mending a marriage and it should not be because you’re feeling obligated to do so because you’re married, or because you’re being pressured to provide grandchildren and so on.

What Buddhism does teach is that when you want to have kids, try your best to make sure that you’re prepared, that you’re ready and that you’re in a position to impart the right lessons and the right values onto your children.

Teach them to lead with compassion and to lead with kindness, as opposed to valuing external markers of success and identifying themselves based on that.

The world and samsara is structured such that we’re constantly bombarded by messages about how we’re not good enough. About how if we buy this one last thing, we’ll be better. About how if we change this small thing about our appearance, we will better or we’ll be considered a success.

But all of that is hogwash. If you think about yourself and you think about your own experiences, and you think about the traumas that you live out and replay every single day – the same traumas that you developed as a result of your childhood and your upbringing – why on earth would you want to put your children through the exact same experience?

When you yourself have spent so many years trying to undo the experiences that you had as a child and the habituations that you developed, why on earth would you want to put your child through the same process and go through continue the same cycle?

So now you’re a parent. Now you’ve got that responsibility. I want to tell you this – that as a parent, what Buddhism does teach is that the ultimate responsibility for any Buddhist, for any practitioner, is to make sure that all beings become enlightened, that all beings get out of samsara and that all beings become Buddhas.

And that really means ALL beings, including your children.

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Can I get a discount on my Buddha statue?

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai discusses whether we should ask for a discount on our Buddha statue, introduces some plant-based shops and restaurants, and touches on upcoming programmes to help us deal with emotions around the latest lockdown.

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-05-23.mp4

Transcript:
Hi guys, how’s it going? Welcome back to The Early Show with me, Pastor Jean Ai, where I share with you news as well as unpack real-world events, and offer practical advice, all from a Dharma perspective, to help us to navigate the challenges that we face every day.

Before we start on today’s video, I would just like to thank the sponsors who are Riki Malone as well as two people who wish to remain anonymous. Thank you so much for your sponsorship and for your support of this programme!

So here in Kechara, we have VajraSecrets as well as the Flea Market, which are platforms that were established by our guru, His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, to help to make it easier for people to access Dharma items for their spiritual practice.

So of course with such platforms in existence, inevitably at one point or another, people are going to start asking if they can get a discount. So, is that a good thing to do or not? Is it a good idea to ask for a discount on Dharma items?

Now generally speaking, it is not encouraged for us to ask for discounts on Dharma items for a few reasons.

One, it creates the habit in us to devalue the Dharma. We ask for discounts for everything else that’s mundane in our lives and so we shouldn’t treat Dharma items in the same way, like it’s just another mundane thing.

Dharma items are special. Dharma items are aids and tools to help us to reach enlightenment. Why is that? Because when we have a beautiful altar, something that we take care of and something that we put effort into, it becomes a platform through which we can regularly connect with the Three Jewels. And when we have nice offering bowls and we have beautiful lights and beautiful incense and beautiful flowers on our altar, it becomes a way for us to generate merits that we can then dedicate towards our spiritual practice.

So Dharma items are not ordinary. They are not a new car, they are not a new handbag, they are not a new handphone. Dharma items help to bring us closer towards our goal of enlightenment, whereas other worldly, mundane, secular items only increase our attachment and increase our desire. Therefore when we ask for a discount on Dharma items, we are actually trying to treat Dharma items in the same way as we treat mundane, worldly, secular objects.

Two, when we invite a Buddha image or any Dharma item, home for that matter, we’re supporting the temple, we’re supporting the centre, we’re supporting the organisation. Why is that? Because the funds that are raised go back towards the centre or go back towards the temple, to make it possible for other activities to take place.

When we view Buddha images or we view Dharma items as being expensive, and we focus on their price, what it actually reflects is that we have not yet truly understood the real value of Buddha images and Dharma items.

Think about it – why is it that we comment or we talk about or we focus on the price of Dharma items, but we won’t complain about spending a few thousand ringgit on a new handphone or a new laptop? That’s because we feel that the new phone or the new laptop is somehow valuable to us. We feel that it can do something for us, we feel that it can add value to our lives. We feel that it might help us to accomplish certain things. On top of that, we feel that the price is justified based on its workmanship or thinking that it contains the latest technology and so on.

So let’s change our thinking. What is it that Buddha images and Dharma items can do for us? Buddha images and Dharma items contain the potential to bring us closer to enlightenment. Yet, when we are inviting Buddha images home, we’ll make remarks about the price, we will ask for a discount. So that clearly shows where our priorities lie (for now!) and what it is that we actually value, for now.

In reality, what Buddha images and Dharma items can do is actually priceless because they can bring us towards enlightenment, and that in itself is priceless.

Close transcript

Do Buddhists worship the Buddha?

Synopsis:
Join Pastor Jean Ai as she answers your questions in this once-a-month livestream! This month, she starts off with a sharing on whether Buddhists worship the Buddha.

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-05-30.mp4

Transcript:
Hi guys, welcome back to this month’s livestream of The Early Show where I answer your questions.

Today I’m going to be talking about Wesak Day and something related to that, and if you guys haven’t already caught our Wesak Day livestream, it is available to watch back on the Kechara Facebook fanpage. Because of the current situation with COVID and the pandemic and everything, this year we weren’t able to open to the public for the second time for Wesak Day. So everything was livestreamed, and we had the puja, we had the incense, the candle offerings, Buddha bathing and all the rest of that. So that took place on the 26th.

If you guys don’t already know, Wesak Day is the day that Buddha Shakyamuni was born, the day that he became enlightened and also the day that he passed into parinirvana. So a couple of weeks ago, I talked about how that particular day is extremely special and one of the ways that we can most easily tell that Wesak Day is extremely special is because for ourselves, for people on our level, it’s very hard for us to plan what we’re going to do tomorrow, what we’re going to do next week, next month, you know, let alone next year. Especially when things are always changing right at this current moment, what with SOPs coming up and all of that, it’s very hard for us to plan, you know, what we’re going to do.

But Shakyamuni had this ability to plan the day that he was going to be born, the day that he was going to become enlightened, and the day that he was going to enter clear light and pass into parirnirvana. And out of 365 days in a year, Shakyamuni picked that one particular day to manifest and to show all of these miraculous and holy deeds. And that one particular day must be something really special because he had 364 other days to choose from.

So the fact that this one particular day was picked is a sign, is a reflection of how auspicious and how holy that particular day is. So Wesak Day may be over but there is still the whole entire month of Wesak so if you guys haven’t done your offerings yet, I’m going to sound like a broken record but if you guys haven’t done your offerings yet, you can still make offerings on Vajrasecrets.com. You’ve got the entire month to do that, alright?

Since Wesak Day has just passed and we spent all of Wesak Day commemorating Buddha Shakyamuni’s deeds, what I wanted to talk about today was whether Buddhism is about praying to Buddha because we spent an entire day looking like we’re praying to the Buddha. Looking like we’re worshipping Buddha. So the question I kind of wanted to answer today was whether Buddhists worship the Buddha, or whether Buddhists worship the Buddha either as an idol or as a god or as something else?

As I mentioned, I do want to keep my sharing on the shorter side because I know you guys have questions. And ask questions! Our guru, His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, always encouraged people to ask questions and Rinpoche said that actually, asking questions is an act of compassion because oftentimes we find that many people have questions to ask but they’re too shy to ask them. So even if you think that your question’s a “stupid” one, there’s no such thing as a “stupid” question. So just ask, ok?

Also, before I continue, thank you very much to the people who have sponsored today’s sharing, both of whom wanted to remain anonymous. One anonymous sponsor would like to dedicate their contribution to all sentient beings, and the other sponsor would like to dedicate their contribution to all beings’ liberation from suffering, and attainment of compassion, wisdom and true happiness.

So thank you guys very much for your support. And I know I say this every week with my videos and stuff, but we have been doing livestreams almost every week for over a year already so your contribution continues to make this possible. And it’s very encouraging for the people who actually do the livestreams.

Alright, so thank you very much.

So the question – is Buddhism about praying to the Buddha, is Buddhism about worshipping the Buddha? Whether it’s as a god, as an idol or something else?

Short answer, the “too long, didn’t read” answer – Buddhism is not about praying to the Buddha. Buddhism is not about worshipping the Buddha. Buddhism doesn’t…or in fact, Buddha wasn’t a god. The Buddha wasn’t a deity and in fact, Buddha Shakyamuni even cautioned or kind of taught people not to think of him as one, and also cautioned people against engaging in idolatory. So the worshipping of idols. And I know it sounds kind of odd that I say this because when Buddhists bow, or when we prostrate, it can look a lot like we are worshipping the Buddha because I mean, duh. If you’re prostrating, that’s automatically what people are going to think right, that you’re worshipping an idol? That you’re worshipping a god or a being? But if you think about it, how else are you going to show respect to someone that all of us are socially familiar with? How do you show respect to a being or to an idea or to a set of teachings, or to a philosophy that you respect and that you revere?

Even in a kind of secular, ordinary, mundane situation, when you have your parents or you have a school teacher or you have your boss and so on, and they’re trying to teach you something or they are “scolding” you, or they are educating you or something, and you want to thank them – even in an ordinary situation, how do you thank somebody? How do you show respect to someone in an ordinary situation? You fold your hands in respect when you say ‘thank you’ and you want to show the utmost gratitude, you say ‘thank you’ with your hands folded.

And if you also think about it in another way, you think about where Buddhism spread from. Buddhism spread from India and the first Buddhists were Indian. And in Indian culture, when you want to show respect to someone, when you want to show humility, how do you do that? You fold your hands. So when you want to show extreme respect, when you want to show extreme humility, when a son for example, wants to show humility and love to his mother, what do you do? What is Indian culture familiar with? A son will put his head to the mother’s feet, so there is also that cultural aspect that has informed the way that we show respect, or the way that we show reverence to something that we treasure, something that we value.

So when Buddhists bow or prostrate to the Buddha, what we’re actually doing is not worshipping the Buddha as an idol, we’re not worshipping the Buddha as a god, we’re not worshipping the Buddha as a deity. But when Buddhists bow or prostrate to the Buddha, what they’re actually doing is showing profound respect to what the Buddha and what his disciples taught, the set of teachings that they spread, that they nurtured, that they promoted, that they delivered, conveyed to people to bring them out of suffering, to bring them to liberation. And they’re also showing respect, and they’re also showing reverence for the teachings that the Buddha and the disciples demonstrated through their own lives.

And when Buddhists bow and they prostrate to images of the Buddha, or images of enlightened beings, what they’re also doing is they’re also reminding themselves, or we’re reminding ourselves – I should say ‘our’ because it’s inclusive – we’re remembering and we’re reminding ourselves of our own commitment towards following our spiritual path. Towards following the Buddhist path. Buddha himself wanted his own life to be used as an example, to show us, to remind us that by training our mind, by engaging in mind transformation, by engaging and actually applying the teachings, that even an ordinary person can achieve enlightenment. And that even an ordinary person, even someone like you or me, like any of us who are not enlightened yet, that if we train our minds, it is possible for us to find a very stable, reliable, unchanging, lasting form of happiness and bliss. The same kind of happiness, the same kind of bliss that Buddha himself discovered by practising the teachings.

Because of our environment, because of the way that we have been socialised to think, because of the way that we have been trained to think, it is easy I do admit, sometimes for our feelings or our respect for the Dharma, for our respect for the teachings, for our respect for Buddha to kind of spillover into worship or into adoration, but what the Buddha taught is that ultimately, liberation in the palm of our hands, right?

So yes, for those of you who joined Lamrim class with Kechara House, gonna bring this up again – liberation is in the palm of our hands. Buddha, our guru, every single perfect enlightened being in the history of time, every single perfect enlightened guru in the history of time has always taught that in order for us to become enlightened, in order for us to become more spiritually evolved, the responsibility and the work lies with us. That it’s not with someone external, that it’s not bestowed upon us, that it is up to us to take responsibility for our own path, for our own practice and only through that can we become enlightened. So that’s what the Buddha taught, is that use his life as an example, that if you apply the teachings, you can achieve the same kind of happiness and the same kind of liberation that the Buddha himself achieved.

So having said all that, since it’s our responsibility to practise and since it is our responsibility to apply the teachings and to gain enlightenment through our own effort, why is it then that we have statues or we have images of the Buddha?

Since liberation, since enlightenment is our own responsibility, it’s our own responsibility to practise in order to gain enlightenment, why then do we have statues and images of the Buddha? Why then do we have free images of enlightened beings available for download on Rinpoche’s blog? We have images and statues of enlightened beings as a reminder for ourselves of what is possible if we apply the teachings and if we commit to applying the teachings, and if we dedicate ourselves to our practice. Buddhists, we use the Buddha as an example of what happens if we’re committed to our practice. It’s a reminder of our own potential towards enlightenment, of our own capacity to become a more spiritually evolved being, to become a more highly evolved being. What we call in Buddhism our Buddhanature.

So when we see images of enlightened beings, it is a reminder of our own Buddhanature and of our own potential to achieve the same state as the being that is being represented in that image or in that statue. And it’s also a reminder that all of our foibles or all of our “shortcomings”, or all of our “flaws”, and all of our likes and our dislikes and our preferences, and our mindgames and our hangups and our emotional ups and downs, and our volatility and all of that – those are not the kind of defining qualities, or the be-all-end-all of our story and of our situation. That we shouldn’t just stop here and think, “I’m always going to be like this and there’s no hope for me to change, there’s no way out of this.” When we see images of enlightened beings, when we statues or images of the Buddha, it’s a reminder that the experiences that we’re having now as unenlightened beings, as beings who still are subjected to our karma, as beings who continue to suffer as a result of our karma – when we see these images, it’s a reminder that our current situation is not the concluding chapter of our story, that we still have ways to go and there is still hope, that there is still opportunity for development, for progress, for improvement. That when we see an image of the Buddha, it is a reminder that it IS possible, that there IS an end to our suffering, that there IS an end to the experiences that we’re having now.

So when we see images of the Buddha, when we see images of enlightened beings, it is also encouragement for us, right? That look – we might be suffering now, we might be struggling now, we might be frustrated with ourselves, we might have anxiety, we might not like this person, we might not like that person, and all of the rest of that, that comes with being beings in samsara, it’s encouragement that it’s not going to be like that forever. That liberation is possible, that there is happiness at the end of the road, that cessation of suffering is possible.

Alright? So Buddhists don’t worship the Buddha but Buddhists do revere the Buddha for what it is that he represents, that there is an end to suffering. The reason why we venerate or we respect, or we show respect to the Buddha is that he is the example and he has accomplished what it is that all of us want. And he’s showing us the way, that he didn’t just like, “Hey, everything’s good with me now, see you guys, bye” and then goes off. But that he accomplished what it is that all of us want which is cessation of suffering and he’s showing us how to get there.

How we can understand that on a very basic level – why should we respect people who represent what it is that we want to accomplish? On a very basic level, we can understand that by looking around us at secular life. When you see an incredible footballer or when you see an incredible athlete, or you see someone who has done an ultra marathon and run 10,000 miles in 24 days or whatever it is right – you see someone who has performed an incredible feat – don’t you admire them?

When you see someone who has – well, for most people – when you see someone who has accomplished a million dollars by the time they’re 25 or whatever it is, don’t you at some level think, “Oh, how did they do that?” and you know, kind of have that admiration for them? You see this even with fanclubs right?

Even with celebrities that you admire, athletes that you admire, people admire them so much to the point that they start fanclubs for them and they get inspired by them, they get inspired to train like them, they get inspired to compete like them, they get inspired to follow in their footsteps. So what Rinpoche explained is that for that kind of secular level of accomplishment, there’s already so much veneration towards celebrities, towards athletes, towards people who perform very incredible feats, towards entrepreneurs and so on. To the point where ordinarily we’re inspired to follow them. That’s what Rinpoche explained. And that’s just something that’s temporal, something that’s of this lifetime. It’s to develop a quality that we can’t bring with us at the point of our passing, at the moment of our death.

So that’s temporal but you can take that example and then extend it to help us to understand why it is that we revere and we respect the Buddha. Just think of the Buddha as a kind of superhuman athlete of the mind. For the rest of us, we all – temporally speaking, secularly speaking – we’ve got athletes of the body. People who train for the Olympics, you admire them so much that you get inspired to train like them. The Buddha is an athlete of the mind. He trained so much and then became enlightened within his lifetime. He figured out a goal, the Buddha figured out the goal that he wants to get to, which is enlightenment. The Buddha figured out the way to get there, and then after he received requests to turn the Wheel of Dharma to teach, the Buddha accepted these requests to be our coach. So yeah, I’m using a sports analogy to explain why it is that we revere the Buddha.

But yes – Buddha is a superhuman athlete of the mind. He figured out the goal; in physical athletes’ cases, it’s the Olympics, in the Buddha’s case, his goal was enlightenment. Figured out how to get there, figured out the training method, figured out the training plan, figured out how it is that he should exercise his mind or train his mind in order to achieve enlightenment. And then the Buddha, instead of resting on his laurels, accepted requests to be our coach. That is why respect and that is why we revere the Buddha, using that sports analogy.

But what I do want to point out is that the Buddha is our coach, the Buddha did accept requests to be our coach in the training to become enlightened but the coach that is in front of us – directly in front of us – that all of us can interact with directly, that all of us can get training from directly, that all of us can gain knowledge from directly, is our gurus. And that is the reason why we venerate our gurus, because our gurus put with up with us, because our gurus train us, they are the coaches that deal with us on a day-to-day basis.

For some of us, it’s very hard for us to picture the Buddha because he existed a very, very long time ago. The Buddha is “too far away” or “too distant” or, in the case of some people, they find it may be too abstract of a concept to relate with. For some of us, it is much, much easier for us to relate to our gurus because our gurus are right in front of us. And that is why bodhisattvas like our guru, His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, manifests in a way that is relatable, that is accessible to us.

If you read Rinpoche’s story, if you read Rinpoche’s biography, don’t you find that there are moments, don’t you find that there are points in Rinpoche’s lifestory where you think, “Oh, actually that happened to me too! Let me learn and look and see how it is that Rinpoche dealt with it. Let me see how it is that Rinpoche was able to turn adversity into a moment of training, to show me how I can deal with it?”

So for some of us, relating to Shakyamuni is not as easy as it is to relate to our gurus or access. Our gurus are easier to access compared to Shakyamuni. Our gurus open the door to Dharma for us. They train us, they put up with our mindgames, they put up with our hang-ups. Our gurus put up with all of the times we say “I can’t do this”, “I don’t understand this”. They nurture faith in Dharma in us. They deepen our practice. Our gurus deepen our understanding of Dharma. So through this relationswhip with our gurus, through this relationship with our teachers, we are then able to know that the Buddha exists because our gurus exist, and our gurus share with us a body of knowledge that has been passed down to us from Shakyamuni’s time. That has been revealed by Shakyamuni and then taught from disciple to disciple, until it’s reached us.

Our gurus show us that by practising the teachings, that by applying what it is that Shakyamuni taught, our gurus show us that it is possible to develop the patience, or to develop the compassion and to develop the knowledge that is necessary to “deal” with unenlightened beings like us. To deal with all of the complications and the ups and downs, and the volatility and the afflictions that arise from having to deal with unenlightened beings. So why is it…

Okay, let me rewind and go back to answering the question for those of you who have just joined. Do Buddhists worship the Buddha either as a god, as an idol or as a deity? Buddhists don’t worship the Buddha as a god; Buddhists revere and respect, and show respect to what it is that the Buddha represents which is a set of teachings which give us a way to reach an end to our suffering, which gives us a method to end all of the unhappiness and to end all of the frustration and the emotional afflictions, the mental afflictions that we experience. Buddhists revere the Buddha for that reason.

Why do Buddhists have images or statues of Buddha or enlightened beings if we don’t worship the Buddha as an idol? As a reminder for our own potential and our own capacity for enlightenment. And for people who are unable, or find it more challenging to relate to the Buddha because they find it “too distant” or “too abstract” of a concept? The Buddha that’s right in front of us is our guru, is our teachers and the reason why we revere our teachers is because our teachers open the doorway to Dharma for us. And they show us what is possible, what it is that we can accomplish and achieve in our lifetime if we apply and if we practise the teachings. And that is the aspect that Rinpoche always emphasised, was you can know everything in the world but if you don’t apply it, it is not as beneficial as someone who knows a little bit but very, very strongly applies it.

So that is, in essence, a very, very, very, very basic explanation of the basis of guru devotion which is not about idolising a person. Which is not about become a slave to someone else. Which is not about blind worship or blind faith. That is a very, very short explanation, very basic explanation of why it is we should be devoted to our teachers, because our teachers are the Buddha in front of us.

Alright?

Close transcript

What is self-care in Buddhism?

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai discusses the Buddhist approach to self-care, talks about plant-based milk alternatives (mylk!) and shares some photographs from the recent Wesak celebrations.

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-06-06.mp4

Transcript:
Hi guys, how’s it going? Welcome back to The Early Show with me, Pastor Jean Ai, where I share with you news as well as unpack real-world events, and offer practical advice, all from a Dharma perspective, to help us to navigate the challenges that we face every day.

As usual, before we start, I would just like to say a big “thank you” to the sponsor of today’s video who wishes to remain anonymous. Thank you so much for your contribution and for your continued support of this programme!

This week, I wanted to talk about ‘self-care’. It’s a buzzword, something that people mention very easily – you need to practise self-care, you need to practise self-care – but what does it really mean?

So ultimately, I will say that there is no self but at our ordinary level, you and I both labour under the false belief that there is a self, so let’s talk about how to practise REAL self-care instead!

Self-care in a Buddhist context is not about finding excuses to reinforce our selfishness and to reinforce our attachments. Self-care in a Buddhist context is not about going to the spa, it’s not about getting our hair done, it’s not about getting our nails done, and it’s not about finding some ‘me’ time or taking a ‘me’ day.

When we talk about ‘self-care’ in Buddhism, it should be a reminder that we have one human body and that at the end of our short life, we are going to lose this precious human rebirth.

Do we know when this life is going to end? Nope.

Do we know how this life is going to end? Nope.

So, given the uncertainty of our lifespan and of our deaths, Buddhist prefer not to spend time taking care of this so-called self of this life alone, but rather to take care of the self that has to take rebirth over and over again.

So what is self-care in a Buddhist context? Real self-care in a Buddhist context is about making the most of our current lifetime, to take care of ourselves holistically which means our body, speech and mind. It’s about giving ourselves the best chance of taking a human rebirth again so that we can continue our practice.

Self-care in Buddhism is about remembering the teachings of Lord Buddha on impermanence and karma, that whatever effort we put towards making temporal, worldly, secular success and gains, we can’t take with us at the point of death.

So what is real self-care in Buddhism and what is most important is developing the qualities and the attainments that we can take with us from lifetime to lifetime, until we achieve enlightenment. And what qualities are those? Kindness. Integrity. Honesty. Loyalty. Ethics. Generosity. And Guru Devotion.

Real self-care in Buddhism is about recognising and taking refuge in the teachings on impermanence, death and karma, and making our decisions according to those teachings of Lord Buddha.

So conclusion? Take that ‘me’ day if you have to but remember that it only goes so far because real self-care according to Buddhism extends beyond this lifetime alone, and it is really about remembering that our current lifetime is not the final one.

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Why are some lamas fat and some skinny?

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai discusses why some Buddhist teachers are fat (and some are skinny!), talks about plant-based fat alternatives and talks about upcoming online programmes to help us all deal with the continued lockdowns!

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-06-13.mp4

Transcript:
Hi guys, how’s it going? Welcome back to The Early Show with me, Pastor Jean Ai, where I share with you news as well as unpack real-world events, and offer practical advice, all from a Dharma perspective, to help us to navigate the challenges that we face every day.

Before we continue for today, I would just like to say that if you would like to sponsor a video, there is a link where you can do so in the description section below. And with that, let’s get started.

So when our guru His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche was skinny, people would always ask, “Why is he so skinny? Why is he so young?” And then when our guru manifested a larger size, people would ask, “Why’s he so big? Can’t he go on a diet?”

So clearly this is a topic that many people are interested in. How come some lamas are larger and some lamas are skinnier?

The first thing that we should clarify is that in Buddhism, everything that a teacher does is for the sake of the student. What do I mean by that?

Everything that a teacher does is to bless a student or to bring a student closer to the Dharma. It is to get people interested in the Dharma, perhaps sometimes using unconventional methods that we otherwise might not expect. So a real teacher will manifest his activities, perhaps even including his appearance, all for the sake of the student.

This could be in the form of losing weight to become a model, to reach out to people who wouldn’t necessarily be interested with the Dharma.

It could be in the form of setting up stores in malls and shopping centres, to connect with people who otherwise might not step into a temple.

Or it could be something that’s more conventional and more expected, for example wearing full sets of robes to give teachings on grand thrones, or perhaps something less conventional and less expected, for example wearing casual clothes and cooking for students.

So what is a teacher trying to teach us from changing appearances? While we know a teacher’s main motivation is to help the students, there can be many reasons so here are a possible few.

  1. Not to get so hung up over the way we look. That impermanence is the truth of our existence. That things will change. That we will get old. That we will put on weight. And that we will lose weight. And that if we make our entire existence about our appearance, which is always changing, then our happiness will also go up and down. So, let go.
  2. That if we focus on a teacher’s appearance and we keep commenting on a teacher’s appearance, yes it may be out of good intention. Yes, it may be out of concern. But it’s also an opportunity for us to reflect on the things that we ourselves prioritise in our own lives. We don’t know what the teacher is truly planning so maybe it’s best for us not to comment on the teacher’s appearance because ultimately, what are most important are the teacher’s motivation and qualities. Look at what the teacher has accomplished. Look at the results that the teacher has brought to people. Look at how many people the teacher has helped. Those are the things that are truly important, not his appearance.

Plus, if you read the 50 Stanzas of Guru Devotion, which is a text that covers how a student should have a relationship with their teacher, there are a couple of verses in there which cover the qualities of a qualified spiritual guide, and they just don’t mention what their appearance should be.

The important thing for us to realise is that everything a teacher does, is for the benefit of the student. And that includes the appearance a teacher chooses to manifest, whether it be tall, short, fat, skinny, rich or poor.

Close transcript

What is Buddhism’s view of contraception?

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai discusses the Buddhist view of contraception and birth control, talks about plant-based sources of calcium and about the upcoming online programmes to help us all deal with the extension of the lockdown!

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-06-20.mp4

Transcript:
Hi everyone, how’s it going? Welcome back to The Early Show with me, Pastor Jean Ai, where I share with you news as well as unpack real-world events, and offer practical advice, all from a Dharma perspective, to help us to navigate the challenges that we face every day.

This week, I want to talk about contraception but before we get there, if you would like to sponsor a video in this programme, there is a link in the description section for you to do that.

So, contraception is also known as birth control and it’s any device or method that’s used to prevent pregnancy. So it can be the pill, it can be an implant, it can be an intrauterine device, or something as straightforward as a condom.

But first, before we move on to that topic, a quick reminder that in Buddhism, having children is not a spiritual obligation. I talked about this in a previous video called “What does Buddhism say about having children?” which I’ll put a link to in the description section of this video.

So Buddhism does not teach that it’s someone’s duty to have kids. Buddhism also doesn’t teach that parents have to be married in order to have children.

In areas of the world where Buddhists feel that they should have kids, it’s because of culture, tradition and so on, and not because the Buddhist scriptures say that it’s someone’s obligation or duty to have kids.

So if we extend that logic, it means that contraception is an acceptable choice if a Buddhist feels that they’re not ready to have children.

So which forms of contraception are acceptable? Buddhists believe that life starts when the consciousness enters when the egg and sperm meet, so any contraception which prevents a fertilised egg from implanting in the uterus or kills a fertilised egg is not an appropriate choice because that would mean taking the life of a sentient being.

Choosing whether or not to use contraception is actually part of a wider conversation about all of the major decisions that we have to make in life, and in this case it’s specifically regarding having and raising children. For both men and women, raising a child is a decision that should only be made when we feel ready for it, whether that’s emotionally, psychologically, physically or even financially. That’s because having or raising a child should not be about fixing a relationship, should not be about fixing a marriage and should not be about giving in to societal pressure. The fact is that having and raising a child comes with an enormous responsibility over another sentient being’s life.

So if you’re going to have kids, do it with thought, do it with care and do it with intention. Realise that if you’re not ready for it, someone else is going to suffer, and that someone else is someone whom you claim to love very much, which is your child. So many children already suffer the consequences of their parents’ lack of preparedness and readiness, whether it’s through abuse, abandonment or neglect.

So in this wider conversation of someone’s readiness to parent, contraception therefore becomes a wise, reasonable, acceptable choice for someone who wishes to or who needs to prevent or postpone pregnancy.

Close transcript

You Asked: Can you tell me about retreats?

Synopsis:
Join Pastor Jean Ai as she answers your questions in this once-a-month livestream! This month, she starts off with a sharing on retreats and how to do them.

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-06-27.mp4

Transcript:
Hi guys, how is it going? Just give me a second whilst I get set up and situated and everything’s working. Just to double check.

Yeah so as I’m getting myself set up, do let me know me where you’re tuning in from, how your week has gone, what you’ve been up to, any exciting news to share, any good news to share that all of us can rejoice in with you together. If you are tuning in for the first time…

…If you guys are tuning in for the first time, my name is Pastor Jean Ai, I am a pastor with Kechara, which I guess would be kind of obvious given that you’re tuning in to the Kechara Facebook Fanpage. But yeah, I am a pastor with Kechara, my name is Pastor Jean Ai and thank you very much for joining me this morning.

So how have you guys been doing in the last week…sorry the last month of the lockdown? How’s everything going, what have you been up to? Have you received your vaccination jabs yet? What vaccination did you get? Let’s wait for a couple more people to join us before we get started on today’s topic.

As usual, my plan is to keep today’s sharing a bit on the shorter side, so that we can get through as many of your questions as possible. So if you guys do have any questions about what I’m about to share about, or about anything in general, please put them in the comments section and then I will get to them at the end. Alright? And if I don’t manage to, then I will respond after the livestreaming. Just as an aside – do I really respond to the questions that you guys ask? Yes, I do. It might take me a while but I do. Case in point – today’s livestream is on a topic from a question that was asked by Jien Howe a month ago. So it does take me a bit of time to get to answering the question but I do get there eventually. Alright? But yeah – I definitely will answer your questions.

So before we get started today, I just want to say a big thank you to the sponsors of today’s sharing. And I deeply apologise if I mispronounce your name but thank you very much to Koh Tain Chee and Yap Sze Eng who would like to dedicate their sponsorship to all sentient beings, may they never be parted from happiness free of suffering!

As well as a sponsor who wishes to remain anonymous and who would like to dedicate their contribution towards all beings’ liberation from suffering and attainment of compassion, wisdom and true happiness. So thank you very much guys for your sponsorship and contribution towards this programme.

I do want to say that you guys always make really nice dedications to your contributions and it’s really nice to read them, and it’s really good to keep generating the mind of bodhicitta and wishing enlightenment for all sentient beings. What our guru, His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche always explained us is that if you love only yourself, then everyone else is left out. But if you love everyone else, and if you love everyone, then you yourself are included. So keep them coming guys, your dedications are very nice.

And I know that I say this every week but also thank you so much for your continued support of these programmes, not just mine but also everyone else’s like Pastor David, Pastor Niral, JP, Pastor Shin, Pastor Adeline and so on. If you would like to sponsor a show, sponsor a programme, there is a link in the description of this livestream so just click on that if you’d like to show your support.

So last month, Jien Howe asked a question about doing retreats and I do realise that it’s a departure from my usual topic, line of thought, subjects? But at the same time, I also know that many of us are having a lot of spare time on our hands right now so now would be the perfect time to engage in what I’m going to be sharing about today. So yes, Jien Howe asked a question about doing retreats. Specifically, he asked, “What do we do during a retreat? And can you share more about retreats?”

And I can Jien Howe, I can share more about retreats. So before we get into how do you do a retreat, I’m going to be talking today about what a retreat is. I’m going to be talking in brief about what a retreat is. A retreat is when you focus on a particular deity practice, for the practitioner to merge and become one with the deity. What does that mean? What does it mean to merge and to become one with the deity?

It means to develop the deity’s qualities, and it means to develop the attainments that the deity represents. So you’re not worshipping the deity, you are engaging in practices and you are engaging in meditations and you’re creating the basis in order for you to develop and to achieve the same attainments as what the deity represents. So not idol worship but you’re trying to become one with the deity in that way. And it means to try to develop the enlightened mind that the deity represents.

During retreat, what happens is you focus on or you concentrate on a particular meditation or on a particular visualisation, and you focus on achieving a certain number of recitations of a particular mantra, or a particular prayer. So for example, OM AH RA PA TSA NA DHI – Manjushri’s mantra. Or Dorje Shugden’s confessional prayer, you can focus on accumulating a certain number of recitations of that confessional prayer. When you do a retreat, it is about taking a conscious step back from all of the actions that we engage in on a day-to-day basis, which deepen and which further our samsara, and which deepen and which further our attachments. So we are actively recognising that what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis is not helpful or is not beneficial towards our spiritual progress in the long run. And so we’re making an effort to change that and we’re making an active effort to do something about it. To “correct” it, if you will.

Alright? So why is this important? This is important…before I continue on why this is important…

So why is important for us to take an active step back and recognising that what we’re doing on a day-to-day basis is not helpful to our spiritual progress in the long run? In our everyday lives, the fact is that we don’t leave very much time for our practice. And when I say “practice”, I’m not talking about the actual application of Dharma. I’m not talking about the actual practice of Dharma, I’m not talking about the 23 hours that we spend off of the meditation cushion. I’m actually talking about that one hour that we spend on the meditation cushion. When I say that we don’t leave much time for practice, I’m talking about actual sit-down practice, I’m talking about visualisations, I’m talking about meditation, I’m talking about a period of time in the day that we carve out for ourselves that we can engage in purification and we can engage in merit accumulation.

So most of us don’t spend very much time on actual sit-down practice. And actual sit-down practice is an integral part of our spiritual practice, it’s an integral part of spiritual path. It’s what we need to engage in and what we need to do in order to create a karmic basis for our spiritual development. So most of us don’t actually carve out very much time in our day to do that. On the other hand, most of us think that we’re very faithful. We think that we are very religious and we think that we are very spiritual. But how much time do we actually spend on prayer? How much time do we actually spend on sadhana? How much time do we actually spend on practice?

And if you really think about it, we have 24 hours in a day, everyone has 24 hours in a day. Most of us spend, at most on a day, regularly, consistently speaking, most of us spend, at most about an hour each day doing our sadhana. What is a sadhana? A sadhana is our daily meditation practice, it’s a set of practices that have been instructed to us, that have been given to us by our guru, by our spiritual guide for us to practise and to recite and to engage in every single day. So most of us, in 24 hours, we spend at most about an hour a day on our sadhana, on our daily practice. Two hours, perhaps, if we are really concentrating that day and really doing the meditations nicely, really doing the visualisations nicely.

“Oh yes, you know, Lama Tsongkhapa’s mudra is like this, you know. There’s a golden glow”, two hours at most. Three hours, if we’re feeling especially motivated that day or we’re feeling especially semangat, rajin – whatever – then we might make full sets of offerings and we might take our time, you know, when we’re pouring the water into the water bowl. Or when we’re cleaning the water bowl, you know, we’re really reciting dulpung, drilmapung. If we’re really engaging in and doing that properly, maybe three at most, but very rarely.

So the reality is that for most of us, in 24 hours a day, when we’re doing our sadhana, most of us are rushing to finish our sadhana. Most of us are asking or thinking, “What shortcuts can I take?”

So, “Oh, in my sadhana it says, “Migtsema recitation, minimum 21 times” so I’ll do the minimum.” So instead of thinking, “I’ll do more”, we think, “I’ll just do the basic minimum, okay?” Most of us are thinking, “What kind of shortcuts can I take? What is the basic minimum that I can do?”

Most of are thinking, “Okay, I need to recite this super fast because I need to get on with cooking dinner. I need to get on with grocery shopping. I need to get on with sending off that email to someone at work.” Or “I need to go to sleep”. So most people are rushing through their recitations super quickly.

Or some people think of it as a competition. “Yesterday I did my sadhana in 30 minutes. Today I’m going to do it so fast that I’m going to finish it in 15 minutes.” Some people think like that. Some people even ask, “I’m so busy every single day so Pastor Jean Ai – is it okay if I do the condensed sadhana?” So people find ways to cut down their sadhana even more.

So that is generally how most people treat our daily practice. Rushing through it, not really engaging in the visualisations properly, figuring out ways to do the minimum, or figuring out ways to take shortcuts, or asking for permission to do a condensed version.

So is that how we normally approach things that we want to be successful in? When we engage in activities, when we engage in projects, when we engage in behaviours towards secular, material success, do we think about taking shortcuts? I know most of us would like to get rich quick, and hit gold and oil or whatever, and get rich quick and not have to put in the requisite effort in order to achieve material success. But for the vast majority of us, we have the understanding that if you want to succeed in the secular world, you need to put in the effort, you need to put in the time and we’re willing to sacrifice our sleep, we’re willing to sacrifice our personal time, our ‘me’ time, we’re willing to sacrifice time with our families and with our children and so on, in order to see that material success.

So we already have that tendency and understanding in us that if you want to achieve success, you need to put in the time, you need to put in the effort, you need to ‘suffer’. Why then does that same attitude not translate over to our spirituality and into our spiritual practice?

So on a day-to-day basis, already we’re thinking shortcut, condensed version, rushing through things, “I’m very tired, I’m very sleepy, I’m very busy and so on”.

Now when you’re doing a retreat, what you’re saying is that, “All of these things that I normally do, which distract me from spiritual practice, which distract me from prayer – what I’m going to do is I’m going to set aside all of these things for now. I’m going to – as Rinpoche would say – I’m going to KIV it for now. I’m going to ‘keep it in view’ for now and I’m going to set all these distractions aside, I’m going to set this attitude of rushing through things aside. And what I’m going to do instead is I’m going to focus and I’m going to spend time and dedicate time to merit-accumulation. I’m going to focus and dedicate time to making offerings. I’m going to dedicate and focus time to purifying my karma. I’m going to take out time and focus during this period on doing this for myself, and doing this for other sentient beings.”

So a real retreat is when someone shuts themselves away for an extended period of time in order to do this. Where they take an active step back from all of the things that normally distract them in daily life, distract them from their spiritual practice and they focus specifically on merit-accumulation, on purifying karma, and on developing the qualities and developing the karmic basis and the merits necessary in order for us to become one with our meditational deity. Our yidam. Y-I-D-A-M.

In a real retreat, what happens is someone shuts themselves away for an extended period of time to do this, and they will do a set of prayers, for example like their sadhana. But they will focus on the prayers very, very well and they will use this time to make as extensive offerings as possible because now suddenly, you have time to make extensive offerings. And they will focus on doing the visualisations properly and doing it nicely, and taking their time to do it. So before every recitation of this part of the prayer, then they’ll sit there and they’ll meditate, and they will meditate and visualise the deity properly.

And they will focus on accumulating as many recitations of the mantra as possible. And during a real retreat, what happens is depending on how strict the retreatant is, or depending on how strict the parameters of their retreat are, retreatants will do their best not to talk unnecessarily. So between sessions, which I’ll explain later, retreatants won’t engage in idle chatter. Gossip. Alright? They won’t engage in purposeless speech between retreat sessions. And depending on how strict the retreatants are, they may not even receive visitors.

In a traditional retreat, what Rinpoche explained to us is that retreatants also won’t stray very far from their retreat space. They will tend to stay within the boundaries of their retreat. What does that mean? Rinpoche explained that in a traditional strict retreat, retreatants will mentally set a boundary for themselves. They will set their retreat boundaries so they will think, “I will not go beyond the boundaries of my bedroom” or “I will not go beyond the boundaries of my prayer space”, “I will not go beyond the boundaries of my house”, “I will not go beyond the boundaries of my town for the duration of my retreat”, “I will not go beyond the boundaries of my cave for the duration of my retreat”. So that’s in a traditional strict retreat.

Why? Because you’re trying to cut out as many distractions as possible so beyond that retreat boundary, you’re recognising that there exists distractions which will pull you away from time that you have chosen or selected, or expressed a wish to dedicate towards your spiritual practice. Towards sit-down practice.

So I mentioned that between sessions, retreatants will try not to engage in idle chatter or engage in purposeless speech with one another. What are the sessions? In a traditional retreat, a retreatant will do up to four sessions of practice a day, up to four sessions of retreat a day. The first session is from 1am to 5am, the next session is from 7am to 11am. The next session after that is from 1pm to 5pm, and then the one after that is from 7pm to 11pm. So your retreat sessions don’t run over 12am, 6am, 12pm and 6pm. That is the four sessions a day that you can do.

Minimum, in order for it to be considered a retreat, for the entire duration of your retreat, you should do at least minimum one session a day, every single day. Alright? So some people will do four sessions a day, some people will do three sessions a day, some people will do one session every single day for a very long period of time, for example. So depending on how quickly you want to complete your retreat, you will do more or fewer sessions per day.

In between each session, what you will do is you will clean your altar, you will prepare your offerings, you will clean your retreat space, you will read Dharma books and so on. And you will try to avoid distraction caused by entertainment. You will try to avoid idle chatter, purposeless speech, gossip and so on. Why? Because you are carving out this time, you are setting aside this time to engage in spiritual practice, you are setting up this time to engage in sit-down practice. Given that we perceive ourselves to be so busy throughout the year that we cannot engage in retreat, why not use this time that we have set aside for ourselves to maximise this time fully?

So speaking of time – how long can a retreat be? Some people engage in extensive retreats so they will take out time, or they will dedicate time…Kah Wei, I see your question, I will respond to that.

So how long can retreats be? Some people will do what is called a “three year retreat”. It’s called a “three year retreat” but in reality, it’s three years, three months, three days and in Tibetan, this retreat is called lo sum, chö sum.

So they will do a three year, three month, three day retreat. Do people still do that? They do. Is it an old tradition that no one…that is no longer relevant? No. People still do that to this day. And there are people, there are practitioners that, to this day, will do a three-year retreat. Once the three-year retreat has finished, they will take a short break and during the break, they might go and receive teachings from their teacher, you know, go and make offerings and so on. And then immediately after that short break, they’ll go back into retreat, for another three years, three months and three days.

One very famous practitioner whom you guys may or may not be aware of, who has done something like this, is Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo. A very famous Buddhist nun who did 12 years of retreat altogether. And her experience is covered in a book and in a documentary called “Cave In The Snow” which you guys can find on Rinpoche’s blog. I will put up a link to that in the comments section below after this livestream or if someone’s very motivated, maybe David, then you guys can find the link and stick it up for everyone else to take a look at.

So Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo – incredible Buddhist nun – did 12 years of retreat in total, in this modern age. Alright? But for most of us who perceive ourselves to be very busy, and perceive ourselves to not have time for practice, what Rinpoche encouraged us to do is to do short retreats. Especially on auspicious days or especially on holidays, or especially on days that we traditionally dedicate to ourselves, for example our birthday. The day that we use to celebrate our selves. So Rinpoche encouraged us to do retreats on days like those, short retreats. One-day retreat, two-day retreat, over the weekend, even for the entire week. Alright?

So for those of us perceive ourselves to be very busy, who can’t do a three year, three month, three day retreat, then weekend retreats are very, very good. Week-long retreats are very good. What deity should we focus on, what deity should we practise? Sorry, I’m just double-checking the questions Jien Howe asked me so that I can make sure that I don’t miss out on anything.

What retreat to do, what deity should we focus on for our practice? Generally speaking, Rinpoche advised everyone to do Lama Tsongkhapa retreats. So to focus on recitations of Migtsema, accumulations of recitations of Migtsema. If you guys…some of you may know that a number of years ago, Kecharians did a Migtsema-thon, a Migtsema retreat – an extended Migtsema retreat – to accumulate 10 million recitations of Migtsema. Cumulatively. But a Lama Tsongkhapa retreat, Rinpoche has recommended for us to do, to focus on accumulation of Migtsema recitations.

Rinpoche has also encouraged us to do Dorje Shugden retreats. So to focus on the accumulating of recitations of Dorje Shugden’s mantra which is OM BENZA WIKI BITANA SOHA. How often should a practitioner do it, that’s another question that Jien Howe asked? How often should a practitioner do retreats? As often as possible, as often as you can. Rinpoche did recommend that for Lama Tsongkhapa retreats, those who consider themselves to be Rinpoche’s students should do Tsongkhapa retreat every six months, once every six months. Alright? So to take out two, three days to recite as many Tsongkhapa retreats as possible. And there are other students of Rinpoche’s who have received personal instructions on specific practices or specific deities to focus on. But that’s a separate matter. General advice – Lama Tsongkhapa or Dorje Shugden. How often? Lama Tsongkhapa, once every six months. Dorje Shugden, as often as you can. Alright?

Who can do retreats? Anyone can do a retreat. Do you have to be Buddhist in order to do a retreat? No, you don’t have to be a Buddhist in order to do a retreat. You don’t have to be Buddhist in order for karma to apply to you. Right? So no, you don’t have to be Buddhist in order to do retreat but it is very helpful and of course, it will be much, much more powerful if you have faith and if you actually believe in what it is that you are practising, what you are engaging in.

Jien Howe asked, “Can we do a couple retreat or take Eight Precepts together?” You absolutely can. My personal preference – me – is solitary retreats because I find it quite distracting having other people around. I do see the advantage, and I do see the benefits and the merit and the basis of doing group retreats because the energy is different when everyone comes together to do a retreat together. I 100% completely see and understand the benefits of that, the basis of that. But my personal preference is solitary retreats. But can you do couple retreat, meaning you and someone else together? Yes, you can. Can you take the Eight Precepts together? Yes, you can.

Oh, going back, rewinding slightly on what retreats we can do. So I did say Lama Tsongkhapa and I did say Dorje Shugden. As Rinpoche’s students, now that Rinpoche’s physical form is no longer here with us, as Rinpoche’s students we should also do retreats on the Guru Yoga of Tsem Rinpoche. So to focus on accumulating as many recitations of Rinpoche’s name mantra as possible. Alright? The instructions for that retreat are on the blog.

So Jien Howe asked, “How often should a practitioner do it?” Ah. So when is the best time to do retreats? The best time to do retreats is now. Is any time. There is no perfect time to do a retreat and if we keep waiting for the perfect time to do a retreat, it may never come. And I’m not talking about it may never come in the sense that the timing of our death is uncertain, although that is true. The timing of our death is uncertain and so the perfect time to do a retreat may never come because of that. What I’m talking about more is when will we not have commitments which are stopping us from doing retreat? When will we not have responsibilities which we perceive are stopping us from doing a retreat? When will we not have work to do? When will we not have something to take care of?

If we keep waiting for a time when every single factor in our life is perfect in order for us to do retreat, it may never come. That time when every single thing is perfect for us to do retreat may never come. So just do it now, and just make time for it now. We make time for everything else in our lives so why not make time for us to do a retreat? Rinpoche said if you’re older, do retreat. Use the final years of our current human life to accumulate as much merit as possible, and to purify as much karma as possible and to prepare for our next life. Use the final years of our current human life for that, if we’re old. If we’re young, Rinpoche said do retreat. Why? Just because you’re young, does not mean that our life cannot end at any time. And it does not mean that we have many, many more years left in this current life so whatever years we have left, Rinpoche said, “Maximise them.” So if you’re older, do retreats. If you’re younger, do retreats.

So let me repeat – during a retreat, what are you retreating from? You’re retreating from samsara. You are retreating from all of the actions that create karma for yourself. You are retreating back to your real and your true nature which is your Buddha mind; you’re retreating back to your potential and you’re tapping into your potential to become enlightened and to become liberated, and to become happy. That is what you’re retreating from, which is samsara, and that is what you’re retreating to, which is your potential to become enlightened.

Retreat is not about escaping real life. Retreat is not about escaping reality. Some people have the misconception that, “Oh, this person is constantly in retreat because this person cannot deal with everything that’s happening around them.” In a way, that is true that they can’t deal with it. Why can they not deal with it? Because they recognise it for what it is, which is impermanent. Which is purposeless and they’re retreating back to reality which is “I know at some point this current human life is going to end so whilst I still can, let me make the most of it by accumulating as much merit as possible, by purifying as much karma as possible”. By preparing for my next life.

So retreat is not about escaping from real life, it’s not about escaping from reality. Some people will say, “Oh, you’re doing it because you can’t deal with the real world” but actually it’s not true. It is because you know that the world around you is not real. That is why you’re retreating. So in fact, retreat is about going back to reality because we see that everything around us is impermanent and we see that everything around us does not truly exist beyond what we project and beyond what we perceive.

So Jien Howe also asked, “What to prepare?” Jien Howe, for specific retreats, the requirements for what to prepare changes slightly so if there is a specific retreat that you have in mind, that you wish to do, let me know and I will either point you to a blogpost on Rinpoche’s blog which explains it all. Or if you have time, then I’ll sit down with you and then I’ll go through the retreat preparations step by step alright, for a new practitioner.

Jien Howe also asked, “How much money to prepare?” It really depends. I assume when you ask how much money to prepare, you are asking this in relations to offerings, right? And to setup? So as much as you can, because you want to make the best offerings possible, alright – personally, I have a tendency to go overboard so it really depends on the individual person. I like to make a lot of offerings – tsok offerings – when I’m doing my retreat so the cost does tend to escalate a little bit. But, as much as you can afford because you want to offer the best things you can afford. You want to offer the best materials that you can afford, the best offering bowls that you can use. The best tsok that you can…as abundant tsok as possible. Alright? So how much money to prepare is dependent on the individual, and it changes from person to person.

Now, let me just quickly scroll back through the comments and see what questions people have…

Close transcript

What is real independence?

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai discusses what independence means and shares some footage of a recently-arrived stupa at Kechara Forest Retreat. Stay tuned until the end as well, to catch an all-important announcement!

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-07-04.mp4

Transcript:
Hi guys, how’s it going? Welcome back to The Early Show with me, Pastor Jean Ai, where I share with you news as well as unpack real-world events, and offer practical advice, all from a Dharma perspective, to help us to navigate the challenges that we face every day.

I hope that you guys enjoyed last week’s short sharing on retreats. I talked about retreats, why we do retreats and what we do during a retreat. If you missed that video, it was a livestream but there is a replay available on the Kechara Facebook fanpage so do go back and check it out.

This week, because this video is being released on July 4th which is America’s Independence Day, I wanted to talk a little bit about the ultimate form of independence and the ultimate form of liberation.

But before we get started, I first just want to say a big “thank you” to the sponsors of today’s talk who are Andrew Tan as well as someone who wishes to remain anonymous. Andrew would like to dedicate his sponsorship to all who are suffering from the pandemic, may they find relief and blessings. And our anonymous supporter would like to dedicate their contribution to all beings’ liberation from suffering and attainment of compassion, wisdom and true happiness.

So, independence. Liberation. When we use those words, the feeling and the concept that’s most commonly associated with them is ‘freedom’. But what does that really mean?

Is freedom the ability to buy anything you want, any time you want?
Is freedom the ability to say anything you want, any time you want?
Is freedom the ability to move anywhere you want, any time you want?
Or is freedom the opportunity to live free from persecution, hatred and violence?

Yes, freedom is all of that and more. Now, the dictionary definition of freedom is the power or the right to act, think or speak as one wants. It is the state of not being imprisoned or enslaved and that’s linked to liberation. And when we talk about liberation, liberation is the act of gaining freedom from oppression, slavery and imprisonment. And when we are really liberated, that is when we become truly independent and independence is when we are not influenced or controlled by others in matters of thought and opinion, and so on, and we are able to think and act for ourselves.

Now here’s the rub – from a Buddhist perspective, when most of us talk about freedom, liberation and independence, we’re doing so from a conventional point-of-view. From a Buddhist perspective, it’s considered conventional because it doesn’t address the ultimate freedom, liberation and independence that all of us should be striving and aiming for.

Now why is it considered conventional? It’s considered conventional because we’re still not truly free, independent or liberated unless we really practise. And why is that? Because if we don’t commit to our practice, then when we pass, when we die, we’re still subject to our karma. We’re still subject to taking rebirth. We’re still subject to the same cyclical existence where we are still taking rebirth in samsara to suffer over and over again.

Buddhists therefore will focus on gaining real freedom, real liberation and real independence on an ultimate level, and that is freedom from suffering, freedom from projections, freedom from ignorance and, ultimately, freedom from karma in a state that is known as enlightenment.

Close transcript

What is burnout and how do we deal with it?

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai talks about burnout and how we can deal with it…

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-07-18.mp4

Transcript:
Hi everyone! Welcome back to The Early Show with me, Pastor Jean Ai, with a new format and a new schedule for this show.

So as I announced in a previous episode, these videos are no longer goin g to be released on a weekly basis, but will be released instead on the 1st and 3rd Sunday of every month.

We’re going to be focusing on answering your questions, and the idea is to give you guys a little more content to digest, as well as a little more time to digest it.

So I hope that this works out better for you. As I said before, the aim is to produce better, more helpful videos for you guys so if there’s a topic that you would like me to cover or question that you would like me to answer, please do let me know and I’ll get right on it.

Now before we get on to today’s topic, I would like to thank the sponsors of today’s sharing.

We have two sponsors for today, someone who wishes to remain anonymous, as well as Choong Boon Yee. The anonymous sponsor would like to dedicate their contribution towards all beings’ liberation from suffering and attainment of compassion, wisdom and true happiness.

And Choong Boon Yee would like to make the following dedication to their contribution, that may all sentient beings be well and happy.

So lately, I’ve been reading a lot of articles about burnout and how people are feeling burned out regardless of whatever age they’re at. I wanted to talk about it because I think that what’s been happening with the pandemic, and everyone’s routines being broken, with things constantly changing and with people having to deal with so much uncertainty, that there has been a lot for us to cope with. And having to deal with it over and over again, having to deal with these high-stress situations, people can get tired and people can get burned out. So how do we recognise the signs of burnout and how do we deal with it?

First, what is burnout?

Burnout happens when a person’s environment is stressful. It’s caused by work-related attributes such as our coworkers, our supervisor or poor work culture. So for example, when there’s too much paperwork, when there’s a lack of resources, when there are long shifts, that’s when risk of burnout increases.

Now since burnout is environment-related, it typically gets better when a person takes time away from the source. But it does take time to recover from burnout, and the recovery time is extended.

Tere are three characteristics of burnout and they are:

  1. Exhaustion which is a generalised fatigue that can be related to devoting a lot of time and effort to a task or project that is not perceived to be beneficial.
  2. Cynicism or depersonalisation which can manifest as negative or callous behaviour, or interacting with others in an impersonal or unprofessional manner.
  3. Reduced personal accomplishment or the feeling that you don’t believe you can make a change.

So how does burnout manifest? There are some non-specific symptoms such as feeling frustrated, feeling anxious, feeling angry or feeling fearful. Someone who is burned out may also express the inability to feel happiness, joy, pleasure, or contentment.

What’s more, burnout can also manifest as physical symptoms including insomnia, muscle tension, headaches, and gastrointestinal problems.

Some people deny that they’re burned out because they think that it must only be for people who are in high-stress situations such as trauma doctors, lawyers or war journalists, or they think that it must only be for people in caring professions like nurses, hospice workers and so on. They think that they can’t possibly be burned out because they’re not in those industries, but that’s not necessarily true.

Burnout is about being ‘worn out’ and it can happen to anyone in any profession. When someone is burned out, things that inspire passion and drive and enthusiasm are removed. And these are taken over or replaced by tedious, unpleasant thoughts.

Everyone relates to and handles stress differently, and everyone is different in how much stress they can handle. A person can be burned out so as long as they are responsible for something or someone, or they’re responsible for a particular outcome. So the truth is that anyone can experience burnout.

Now as Buddhists, it’s important for us to recognise signs of burnout in ourselves and in others because we’re on a spiritual path to develop certain attainments which might take us a while. And we want to be successful on that path, and being successful on that path means being sustainable in our practice. And so if burnout isn’t addressed, we might quit, we might give up early, we might become demotivated and so on.

And if burnout in someone else isn’t recognised, then we may not be able to offer them the support and the help that they need.

So the good news with burnout is that you’re not alone. You’re not the only one who has suffered from burnout. Even someone as magnificent as Chenrezig suffered burnout.

Yes, even the Buddha of Compassion suffered from burnout. And when we know the story of Chenrezig, we can take inspiration from it.

In one of Chenrezig’s many manifestations, he is depicted with 11 heads, a thousand arms and an eye in the palm of each hand. And there is a story behind this depiction.

It is said that Chenrezig previously made a vow never to rest until he had freed all beings from samsara. And that if he ever broke this vow, or if he ever entertained selfish thoughts or if he ever had a selfish motivation, then his head and body would break into a thousand pieces.

And so Chenrezig worked for all sentient beings but despite his best efforts, just as soon as Chenrezig had emptied the suffering realms of its inhabitants, he looked around and he saw that it had already been repopulated.

So he was disheartened because it seemed as though nothing he had done had made a difference, and it seemed like nothing had changed. So it was at that point that Chenrezig thought that he was going to leave sentient beings to their fate. That there was no point in helping them because there was never going to be any end, and so he might as well just enter nirvana instead. And it was at that very moment, at that very point when he had that thought, that his head and his body exploded in a thousand pieces because he had broken his vow.

Fortunately, Chenrezig’s guru the Buddha Amitabha saw what was happening and he put Chenrezig back together again, with all of his heads and all of his arms and all of those eyes so that he can see all beings simultaneously and see exactly what they need and see exactly how he can help them.

Now when we know this story, it’s an inspiration for us because Chenrezig is the bodhisattva of compassion, he’s not supposed to get burnout. But before he became this supercharged bodhisattva who can see all sentient beings simultaneously, he definitely had a burnout moment. He definitely got fed up, he definitely got frustrated and he definitely entertained thoughts of giving up.

So how do we deal with burnout and how do we improve our resilience? We deal with burnout and we improve our resilience by working to increase our good fuel, and working to reduce our not-so-good fuel.

Our guru, His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, explained to us that when we wish to accomplish something, that there is such a thing as good fuel and not-so-good fuel.

Good fuel is bodhicitta. Good fuel is altruism. Good fuel is untiring, unceasing and unending, and good fuel is any act of service to any sentient being without expectation of return and without agenda. Without any tinge or stain of selfishness.

Not-so-good fuel is anger, jealousy, competition, fame or the wish to do something because it makes you look good or because it’s prestigious.

So the first step to preventing or to dealing with burnout is working to increase our good fuel and working to reduce our not-so-good fuel. It’s generating a good motivation over and over again and that’s why as Buddhists, it’s so important for us to do our sadhana every single day, and to take that moment to meditate on and to generate bodhicitta, and to get into the habit of doing it over and over again.

We can also deal with or prevent burnout by working on our expectations. What do I mean by this? Someone who suffers from burnout typically has an expectation for a particular outcome if they put in the required effort. So there is a gap between our perceived result and the expectations that we have for ourselves.

So an example is the thought that “if I care enough for this person, they will heal”. “If I do all of the right things and I make all of the right decisions, they will get better.” “If I say the right things, their situation will improve.”

If we have high expectations for every situation, and it’s combined with a denial that karma exists, it’s a recipe for us to be disappointed over and over again. It’s a recipe for us to get stressed because things don’t go our way or things don’t go the way that we’ve predicted. So we have to meditate and we have to think, “Karma exists. I am subject to my karma. And as long as karma exists and as long as I am in samsara, I should learn to expect problems. That things will go wrong. That nothing will be perfect. I should learn to expect difficulties. That things are not perfect and things won’t always go my way. And I should expect that work will be stressful at times. That if I put in the effort in towards something, because I am in samsara, it may not necessarily be my karma for things to turn work out the way that I expect.

So another way of dealing with and preventing burnout is by meditating on karma. Meditating on the fact that karma exists. By studying and understanding the workings of karma. When we understand karma, then we can accept that difficulties will always exist. That things will never go the way that we expect. We can accept that difficult situations and stressful situations will always arise.

Now, another way of dealing with or preventing burnout is by focusing out. Rinpoche always told us that if we want to be happy, focus out and focus on helping others. What do I mean by this?

When we focus out and we focus more on what the person in front of us needs, and we stop focusing so much on what we expect or what we hope to gain out of a situation, and we stop focusing on our expected outcome, we’re directing less energy and we’re getting less caught up in our own selfish concerns and in our own pity.

When we focus out on benefiting others, then all of the obstacles and all of the problems, and all of the stress and all of the difficulties and so on that we come across, immediately become more tolerable and become easier to handle.

So as Rinpoche always says, how much you can tolerate is how much compassion you’re practising.

Does this mean that we won’t feel tired sometimes? Does this mean that we won’t still get burned out sometimes? Of course we still will, because we’re still practising. We’re still not Chenrezig yet. So of course burnout will still happen.

But so as long as we keep realigning our motivation again and again, to focus out on benefiting others, over time we will find stressful situations easier to handle because we’re handling it for something bigger. Because we’re handling it for someone else. It’s all a matter of practice.

And finally, another way of dealing with or preventing burnout is take a break. When you’re starting to feel burned out, then take a break. No one said that you can’t take a break every once in a while. Even Rinpoche would send his students out to relax and to watch a movie, because Rinpoche knew that people need to take a break and people need to unwind. Part of practising kindness is also knowing when to rest and when to be kind to ourselves. When to set boundaries and say, “I need to rest.” Alright?

Alright? So that’s it from me for this week. I hope that you guys have found this video useful and helpful. And if you have any questions, please let me know.

Once again, thank you very much for joining me for this week and thank you again to our sponsors. As ever, please stay home, please stay safe and don’t go out if you don’t have to. I’ll see you guys in two weeks’ time, on the 1st Sunday of next month. Have a great week ahead and as ever, please don’t forget to be kind to each other! Bye!

Close transcript

You Asked: How Can I Rely On Spirits?

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai answers one of your questions about relying on spirits…

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-08-01.mp4

Transcript:
Hi everyone! Welcome back to The Early Show with me, Pastor Jean Ai.

I hope that all of you are doing well as well as can be expected during these times.

Now before we get on to today’s topic, I would just like to thank the sponsors of today’s sharing.

We have three sponsors today, two of whom wish to remain anonymous, as well as Choong Boon Yee.

The first anonymous sponsor would like to dedicate their contribution for all sentient beings to find and study Dharma, and to find peace and happiness always.

The second anonymous sponsor would like to dedicate their contribution towards all beings’ liberation from suffering and attainment of compassion, wisdom and true happiness.

And Choong Boon Yee would like to dedicate their contribution towards the liberation of all living beings.

Today, I’m going to be answering a question about spirits. Some time last week, someone asked me to teach them how to set up an altar outside of their home because they wish to invite spirits to reside there, so that they can propitiate them for help. They asked me if there are any prayers or rituals that they can do, and how to go about setting up such an altar.

Now I know a couple of you listening to this will automatically be like, “Woah, stop. That’s not such a great idea” but not everyone’s aware of this so I thought that I would give a little explanation why it’s not recommended and why it’s not such a great idea. Maybe it’ll be useful for you in the future if someone ever asks you whether it’s alright for them to rely on spirits. Now you’ll know why it’s not or you can just direct them to this video!

So, let’s set the stage. In Buddhism, if you are unenlightened which means that you are still subject to your karma, then there are six realms that you can take rebirth in. You have the three higher or upper realms, which are the god, demigod and human realms, and you have the three lower realms, which are the animal, spirit and hell realms.

Which realm you take rebirth in after your death is dependent on many factors, including the karma which fruitions at the moment of your passing. But, one of the realms that you can take rebirth in is the spirit realm.

So the first thing to remember is that spirits are unenlightened beings. They are beings who died in other realms and then took rebirth as spirits and they did so because of their selfishness, because of their attachments and because of their karma. This is just like how ourselves will take rebirth in other realms once the conditions for our current lifetime as humans cease to exist.

This means that spirits are just like humans in the sense that spirits have selfishness, they have jealousy, they have anger, they can be competitive, they can demand things, they can be offended, and they can take revenge. And while some spirits might appear to be benevolent, it is just like how some humans may appear to be benevolent initially.

First, we do not know the ultimate motivation of a spirit. Their benevolence may only be an initial thing, to draw you in so that they can create a connection with you, in order to create harm for you later.

Now, there may be some spirits who genuinely do want to help. But, even if they give us answers which sound beneficial or helpful, those answers may only be beneficial or helpful in the short term. Since spirits are not enlightened beings, they do not have full clairvoyance and so you don’t know how their advice and how their answers will affect you in many lifetimes down the road.

And the help that they give may not be free. It may come with strings attached. Perhaps you gotta do things to keep them happy. Perhaps you gotta do things to make sure that they’re not offended. And so all that’s very risky.

Think about it – for those of you who are familiar with South East Asian mythology and folklore, you’ll know about a child spirit called ‘toyol’ in Malay or ‘kwee kia’ in the Hokkien dialect. Think about what you know about that type of spirit and what has to be done in order to keep the spirit happy, and what happens once they are offended. Think about their characteristics such as intense jealousy.

Now my question to you is, when you can connect with a being that’s enlightened, when you can connect with a being that’s guaranteed to be kind and compassionate, when you can connect with a being that’s guaranteed never to hurt you, when you can connect with a being that’s guaranteed to help you with no agenda and with no strings attached – why take the risk to connect with anything else that might not only harm or hurt you, but is also of a lesser power?

What I mean by this is, if you can connect with a Buddha or with an enlightened Dharma Protector such as Dorje Shugden who can help you in the best and safest way possible, why take the risk of connecting with and propitiating a being who might be offended and who might seek revenge on you? Why take such a risk? Why put yourself at risk of that?

So, that’s something for you to think about. That’s it from me for this week. Once again, thank you very much for joining me and thank you again to the sponsors of today’s sharing. As ever, please stay home, please stay safe and don’t go out if you don’t have to. And get your vaccinations! I’ll see you guys in two weeks’ time, on the 3rd Sunday of this month. As ever, have a great week ahead and don’t forget to be kind to each other! Bye!

Close transcript

Are white lies OK?

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai talks about whether white lies are OK…

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-08-15.mp4

Transcript:
Hi everyone! Welcome back to The Early Show with me, Pastor Jean Ai.

Now before we get on to today’s topic, I would like to thank the sponsors of today’s show.

The first sponsor would like to remain anonymous, but would like to dedicate their contribution towards the liberation of all sentient beings and the attainment of compassion, wisdom and true happiness.

The second sponsor is Tan Meng Huay, who accompanies their contribution with the following dedication of “Namo Amituofo. May all be well and happy.”

And finally, Chong Boon Yee, who would like to dedicate their contribution towards their late father, Chong Peng.

So this week, I’m going to be talking about white lies. Now, one of the most basic vows that all Buddhists take is the vow to refrain from lying, and that is part of our refuge vows. But, what about white lies? What about those small little lies that you tell in order not to hurt someone?

First, what is a lie? A lie is when something you say and what you do don’t match, or what you say does not give an accurate representation of what the situation actually is. Lies are usually told in order to deceive someone but, sometimes lies can be told for other reasons, and I’ll get into that later.

So, for example, always apologising for making the same mistake over and over again, and saying, “This will be the last time”. When you don’t put in any effort to change, to actually make it the last time, then it becomes a lie. Telling someone that you can’t work because you’re busy, when actually you’re just being lazy, that is a lie. Telling your parents that you didn’t eat the last cookie and it was actually your brother or sister, that is also a lie.

Now, what are the results of lying? Lying comes under the banner of speech, and speech is one of the most important components of social interaction. It’s on the basis of speech that agreements, contracts, documents, and even personal relationships become meaningful. When you don’t know someone, when you’re meeting them for the first time, when you’re just getting to know a person, their speech is all you have to go on. So speech is very important.

Now the reason why Buddhists refrain from telling lies is to train us to respect the truth. So when you don’t lie, people can see that you respect the truth. You generate trust with other people. People want to get close to you, people want to know you because people know that they can trust you.

So when you do lie, and you lie constantly, it’s like the boy who cried wolf. Eventually people stop believing what you say. People don’t trust you, because you clearly show that you don’t respect the truth. So people who lie discredit themselves and show themselves to be untrustworthy.

There are many reasons why we might lie. We could lie:

  • To avoid the consequences that come with telling the truth
  • To cover up a previous lie
  • To prevent someone’s feelings from getting hurt
  • To prevent someone else from getting punished
  • To get a reward that we don’t deserve
  • To protect ourselves or to avoid embarrassment
  • To manipulate or control people
  • To preserve our own denial, so we want to believe a lie
  • To avoid a negative outcome
  • To make ourselves look better
  • To get revenge
  • To get attention
  • To hide our insecurities

Now when you look at this list, what you’ll notice is that we don’t always lie with the intent of immediate benefit for ourselves. Sometimes, we don’t tell the truth in order to prevent hurt or harm from coming to someone else, and that is a white lie.

The difference between an outright lie and a white lie is our motivation but before we go on, I do want to remind you guys that a white lie is still a lie and when we tell a white lie, there still are karmic consequences. You will still incur all of the problems of not being straightforward with other people. Eventually, you will be seen as less sincere, less authentic and your integrity will come into question or even be damaged. And we will also create the tendency to tell more white lies, which might spiral out of control and become outright lies in the future.

So just because we might tell white lies with the motivation of preventing harm to someone else, does not mean that the lie is free from karma.

And I want to make that very clear – even if it is a white lie, even if it is with the motivation of preventing hurt or harm to someone else, there is still karma.

Now I do recognise that sometimes, telling the truth can cause more harm than good, especially if it’s done with malicious intent. For example, the neighbour who spreads information about the family next door may be telling the truth, but they are potentially creating schism or disharmony. So they’re not doing anyone a service or practising the Dharma by spreading the so-called truth.

Similarly, if someone comes running down the road with a big knife and says to you, “Where is that man who just came by here?”, and their intent is clear to hurt the other person, then telling the truth might cause more harm than good.

So like I said, the key thing to remember here is motivation but also choosing the action which will lead to the most overall benefit, and remembering that there is always a way to deal with a situation beyond our initial perception of it.

So what do I mean by that? Here’s an example. When someone asks you, “Do I look fat in this dress?” you have a few choices of response. You can tell the truth and say ‘yes’, but it could be hurtful. You could tell a white lie and say ‘no’ and their feelings would be alright. But it wouldn’t be the truth.

Most of us might think that the second option is better because we saved someone’s feelings but when we don’t tell the truth, whether it’s an outright lie or a white lie, we are denying someone else access to reality. We might be robbing them of an opportunity to solve a problem that they could’ve tackled only if they had been given good, accurate information.

So there are actually other options for us to consider in response to the question “Do I look fat in this dress?” Maybe that day, they’re feeling a little bit more vulnerable. Maybe that day, they’re feeling a little bit unloved. Maybe that day, they’re feeling a little bit insecure about the way that they appear. If you genuinely think that that is the reason, then responding honestly to that subtext would not be a lie. So you can reply, “I love the way that you look in that dress. But do you think that this other colour might suit you more?”

Hence rather than lie or prevaricate, think about how to communicate or how to couch your message, or think about what the other person is really trying to convey to you in what they say. Can you still present your response to them in a way that’s less hurtful or less harmful, in a way that’s still beneficial and still truthful for the other person?

So what Rinpoche said is that we always have a choice. We should always speak the truth which is useful and conducive to the Dharma, and we should avoid speech which is likely to create negative karma for ourselves, or put other people in a position to create negative karma for themselves.

Where a person’s feelings and reputation are concerned, it is important that we practise discretion combined with wisdom, motivated by compassion. There are instances when silence is more appropriate than speech, and we can always choose that as an alternative to telling an outright lie, skirting around the truth or being vague about the truth.

Whatever our choice is, I want to emphasise again that the key here is our intent and our motivation.

So does this mean that you can lie any time you want, and say that it is for someone else’s benefit? Sure but only if you are very, very, very secure about your motivation and only if you are very, very aware of the karmic consequences.

Because remember – even if you are doing something with a good motivation, there is still karma involved. Even a lie, told with a good motivation, is still a lie so there is still karma. If you guys remember the story about the Buddha in his previous life as a ship captain when he killed a passenger in order to prevent that passenger from murdering 499 other people. It was an act done with good motivation and pure intent but there were still karmic consequences.

So if you’re not sure about your motivation, if you have some doubts, then remember what Rinpoche said which, I repeat again, is that we always have a choice.

If someone asks you a question, you don’t have to lie in order to avoid answering it. You don’t even have to tell a white lie. You can always say something like, “I don’t feel comfortable answering that right now” or “I would rather talk about it later” or “I don’t know enough about that in order to comment on it”. And all of that would still be the truth. Not everything requires a comment. Not everything requires an answer. Not everything requires our input.

As Buddhists, our call-to-action should be to maintain as much right speech as we can in our daily interactions with others. Right speech should be spoken at the right time, it should be spoken in truth, it should be spoken affectionately, it should be spoken beneficially and it should be spoken with a mind of goodwill.

So what about white lies? Still better than an outright lie but it’s still not great, it’s still not encouraged and it’s still something that we should do our best to refrain from because it is still a lie.

So, that’s something for you to think about. That’s it from me for this week. Once again, thank you very much for joining me and thank you again to our sponsors of today’s sharing. As ever, please stay home, please stay safe and please don’t go out if you don’t have to. I’ll see you guys in two weeks’ time, on the final Sunday of this month. Have a great week ahead and as ever, please don’t forget to be kind to each other. Bye!

Close transcript

You Asked: Is karma about retribution?

Synopsis:
Join Pastor Jean Ai as she answers your questions in this once-a-month livestream! This month, she starts off with a sharing on karma.

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-08-29.mp4

Transcript:
Hi everyone, welcome back to this month’s livestream. Just bear with me while I get set up here…

So yeah, how have you guys been? If you’re tuning in for the first time, if you don’t know what’s going on, my name is Pastor Jean Ai and I’m the pastor here at Kechara in Malaysia, which I guess is stating the obvious, but anyway. What has been up this week? We’ve had some exciting things happening here in Malaysia, in Kechara, over the last week. For example, we have finally reopened, yaay! KFR, Kechara Forest Retreat, where I’m based, has finally reopened to people who are fully vaccinated. So people who have received both doses of their vaccine and have completed the obligatory requirement time, post-vaccine, for the vaccine to become fully effective.

So KFR has reopened to people, as well as Kechara House, which is our temple in the city. That has also been reopened to people who are fully vaccinated. So guys, please go and show your support and reconnect back, physically, with your Dharma centre if you’re fully vaccinated. And please do make sure to abide and follow the standard operating procedures or the SOPs, so that everyone stays safe, which would be the Buddhist thing to do. Alright?

So we will wait for a couple more seconds before…let a few more people join us before we get started. As usual, my plan is to keep the sharing on the shorter side so that we can get through as many of your questions as possible because that’s what this livestream is for. And I am a bit out of practice with doing livestreams so if there are any technical difficulties, please let me know. But yes, please feel free to ask me any questions that you have, even if they’re not related to the topic of today’s sharing, and I will get back to you. And I’ll try to get to them, I’ll try to answer them during the livestream, and if I don’t manage to then I will definitely respond in the comment section after the livestream, alright?

And before we continue, I also do want to say a big “thank you” to the sponsors of today’s sharing. We have three sponsors of today’s sharing so thank you very much. They are, the first sponsor Tan Meng Huay, who would like to dedicate their contribution to the following now: “Namo Amituofo. May all be well and happy.””

Also Boon Yee would like to dedicate their contribution to the following: “May all beings be well and happy.””

And someone who wishes to remain anonymous, thank you very much for your consistent, ongoing support of this programme. And Anonymous would like to dedicate their sponsorship towards all beings’ liberation from suffering, and attainment of compassion, wisdom and true happiness.

I know I say it every single week but thank you guys so much for your continued support of all of the programmes, not just mine, but everyone else’s as well. And if you would like to sponsor a show, there is a link in the description section of this livestream so please click on it, alright, if you want to show your support.

So recently, I did an AMA session in a Facebook group. And if you guys don’t know what an AMA is, an AMA it’s an Ask Me Anything session where people can literally ask you anything. Hence, the title of the session, Ask Me Anything. Alright, so I thought what I would do is I would carry over some of the questions from that AMA session in the group over into video because number one, not everyone is a part of the group. And number two, the questions and answers may be useful to some of you watching.

So one of the questions that was repeatedly asked during this AMA session was about karma and people asked if I could please clarify karma, and how I would explain karma to people who don’t believe in it. And in particular – I really like this question – in particular, someone asked, “We always hear about how if someone hurts us and so on, that karma will come back and kick them in the backside, kick them in the butt, alright, but Buddhism is about non-violence. So since Buddhism is about non-violence, how can karma be about retribution?”

Which is a very, very good question because oftentimes, what you’ll read is people – you know, like memes and motivational posters and stuff – people saying things like “what goes around, comes around” or “your karma will come back to you”, and it’s got a very vengeful kind of tone to it. So this person’s question made a lot of sense. And yes, those platitudes don’t…those platitudes about karma, they do not accurately reflect what karma is really about. And karma is not about retribution. Karma is not about revenge. Karma is not about getting somebody back. And karma is not about some kind of external being judging you, or sending down or meting out some kind of punishment on you. Karma is something that exists independent of your belief in it. I’m going to repeat that again – karma is something that exists independent of your belief in it.

So an easy way to think about it is, or to understand it, is thinking about karma like gravity. Gravity just works. Gravity works regardless of whether you believe in it. Gravity works regardless, or takes place, or happens regardless of whether you’re thinking about it. Gravity takes place regardless of whether you’re pro-gravity or anti-gravity. Gravity just works, gravity just happens. And it just happens because it’s a natural law, and karma is just like that.

So karma just happens. It happens regardless of whether you’re thinking about it, whether you believe in it, whether you’re pro-karma or anti-karma. Karma just happens because it’s a natural law.

The first thing to understand about karma as well, is that karma as a topic is a very, very deep subject. Much, much deeper than what we generally believe, what we usually believe in. For example, there are all kinds of karma, so many different kinds of karma and how we can understand or how it first really sunk in to me what a deep subject karma really is – I know it’s very late – was in 2008 when we went on pilgrimage to Nepal with our guru, His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche. On this pilgrimage to Nepal, we had the opportunity to meet one of Rinpoche’s gurus, His Eminence Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche. And during the audience with Dagom Rinpoche, what Dagom Rinpoche explained to us was that “if your lama were to explain everything about karma to you, it will blow your mind.”

And you know, when Dagom Rinpoche first said that, I was kind of like, “Oh, wow.” Like, it stunned me for a second, it left me speechless for a second and if you know me, it’s very rare that I’m speechless. It’s very rare that I don’t have an opinion or something to say. So when Kyabje Dagom Rinpoche said that, I was kind of stunned into silence thinking about it. And what it made me realise is that our understanding of karma is very, very shallow compared to what it actually is, compared to what the subject or the topic actually is.

And the first misconception about karma that I want to clarify is that karma is not only about consequence. Meaning to say, it is not a situation whereby you just create karma or you accumulate karma and then that’s it. Or you either purify karma or you generate, create, accumulate karma, acquire karma, and then there’s nothing else beyond karma, it stops at karma and then that’s it.

Whilst that statement is truthful to some degree, it would be helpful or more beneficial to our practice if we were to have a more holistic or more well-rounded understanding of what karma is. First of all, ‘karma’ is a Sanskrit word and it’s a word that actually means ‘action’ or ‘deed’. It’s an action or deed, and these actions or deeds are actualised, or manifested, or realised, or performed or engaged in through our body, speech and mind. In Buddhism, our body, speech and mind are known as the three doors or the three gateways. Why they are called the three doors or the three gateways is because they are the ways through which we can accumulate karma.

So first point is, karma’s not just about consequence. Second point is ‘karma’ means ‘action’ or ‘deed’, and it’s an action or deed that is manifested or actualised through our body, speech and mind, and our body, speech and mind are known as the three doors or the three gateways.

Next point – the underlying principle that forms the basis of all karma, the underlying principle of all forms of karma is that action cannot precede intent. I’m going to repeat that – action cannot precede intent. You cannot have action without having intent first; you cannot have action without having a motivation first. So you cannot act without having the intent to act through your body, speech and mind. Hence, karma actually refers to this mental intent to act. And this mental intent to act is then actualised through our body, speech and mind, through our three doors. So I’m going to repeat that again very, very slowly, because I do know that I have a tendency to speak very fast.

Karma is a mental intent to act, which is then manifested through our body, speech and mind; a mental intent to act which is actualised, realised, manifested through our body, speech and mind which is known as the three doors.

In reality, karma actually results in something else, and it is not the final outcome in and of itself. So as I mentioned at the beginning of this sharing, it doesn’t just stop at karma. It doesn’t just end at karma; you just accumulate or you purify, and then nothing happens.

There are actually two main effects that arise as a result of karma. The first main effect that arises as a result of karma is tendency or habituation. And the second effect that arises out of karma is consequence or result, or experience.

So first one, tendency or habituation. As a result of karma, we create the tendency to perform, or to engage, or to repeat the same action of body, speech and mind over and over again in the future. Why? Because every action that we perform leaves an imprint in our mind. And over time, this imprint becomes a compulsion for us to perform the same act over and over again. And this compulsion to perform the same act over and over again, once we do it again and again, then leads into habit or habituation. That is why our lamas say that it’s very, very important for us to create good habits and to keep making a conscious effort to engage in virtuous actions of body, speech and mind over and over again so that we can create new habits. We can create an imprint, which will then lead us to having a compulsion to developing good habits. So that virtuous actions become habitual for us, become second nature for us.

Just as it is easy for us to engage in actions arising out of selfishness, it’s also possible for us to engage in actions arising out of the wish to benefit others. The challenge for us is that at present – at this present moment – we have become habituated into engaging in actions which are self-benefiting, self-cherishing or self-grasping. Why? Because we have, in many, many previous countless lifetimes, created karma, created tendency, created imprints, created habituation to perform non-virtuous actions over and over again. So for now, for the present moment, for the present time, it’s very, very easy for us to do that, because we’ve already become habituated into it.

What’s good about that for us is that now that we know this, know that this present moment can also become an opportunity for us to create imprints to perform virtuous actions, engage in virtuous actions, engage in virtuous behaviour of body, speech and mind. Alright?

So first one, first main fact that arises as a result of karma is tendency or habituation. The second one, which all of us are more familiar with, is consequence. That’s the aspect of karma that all of us are more familiar with. And we can experience these consequences, we can experience the results of our karma in this life, in the future in this life, or in an actual future life after we’ve died and taken rebirth somewhere. All it takes for us to have these experiences, or to experience our karma in the future, is for the right conditions to be activated. Until such conditions arise, until such conditions come together and come to fruition, the karma for us to have these experiences will remain dormant, will not be activated. A very, very simple, straightforward example that Rinpoche always shared with us, I will actually get into later as part of the portion of this sharing about how to explain karma in simple terms for someone who doesn’t necessarily believe in it.

So what it means is that…let me just repeat what I just said, because it might have been a bit muddled up.

Two main aspects of karma – first one is…or two main results of karma. First one is tendency or habituation and second one is consequence or experience. That we experience the results of our karma, and the experience may not necessarily happen in this life, it may happen in a future lifetime, and it will happen when the conditions come together in order for the karma to be activated, in order for the karma to fruition. And until these conditions arise, until these conditions come together, then our experiences of this karma will remain dormant.

Which means that the result of the actions that we perform in this lifetime, may not necessarily be experienced immediately, may not necessarily be experienced in this lifetime. It’s possible that we may experience it only in a future lifetime. Which means, again – positive thinking – that it’s possible for us to gain some kind of control over the experiences that we have in our future lifetimes by limiting the negative body, speech and mind behaviours, and negative body, speech and mind actions that we’re engaging in in this lifetime.

Alright, so first bit was about tendency and habituation; we know that we have the ability to create negative habits because all of us are selfish. Since we have the tendency or the ability to create negative habits, we can look at our present lifetime as an opportunity to create positive habits for a future lifetime.

Second positive way of looking at it is since we are experiencing the results of our karma now, of karma that we created in a previous life, we can extrapolate and look forwards, project forwards that it’s possible for us to gain some control over our experiences of a future lifetime by limiting the negative body, speech and mind actions that we perform or engage in in this present lifetime.

If I’m not clear, leave me a comment, leave me a question and then I’ll clarify at the end of this livestream. Again, because I know I have a tendency to talk very fast when I get very excited.

So, how do you explain karma to somebody who doesn’t believe in Buddhism, or to someone who isn’t religious, or to someone who believes in a very, very specific, restrictive definition of what science is?

How you would explain karma or how I would recommend that you explain karma to someone in this position is by keeping it very, very simple. How? Explain, first, that when you do something repeatedly, over and over again, it’s logical that you’re going to form or that you’re going to create a habit. That is something that’s very, very easy for anyone to understand, because it’s very logical. It’s very straightforward, and there have been so many scientific, psychological studies done on habit and on the development of habits. I’m sure that many of you watching this will know the common saying of “It takes 100 days of doing something again and again to create a new habit.”

So how you can explain karma to someone who doesn’t believe in Buddhism or who isn’t religious, or who has a very restricted definition of what science is, is that when you do something repeatedly over and over again, you form and you create a new habit.

The other way of explaining karma – or the second aspect of karma, rather; the second main aspect of karma, rather – is by saying that whenever you do something, there is going to be a consequence and there’s going to be a result. Again, very simple, very straightforward. You do this, you get that; that’s the aspect of karma that everyone’s familiar with.

Give the person examples. When you lie, when you steal, when you cheat, people won’t want to be close to you. When you keep breaking promises, then people won’t trust you. When you are good, or when you’re kind or when you’re generous, or when you’re loyal, when you have integrity, when you keep your promises, then people want to get to know you, people want to be close to you, people want to be your friend. So when you do something, you get an experience, you get a result that you then experienced.

So how to explain karma, I repeat, to someone who doesn’t necessarily believe in Buddhism or who isn’t necessarily religious is two ways. First, when you do something over and over again, you form or you create a new habit.

Second, when you do something, you get something, there is a result, there is a consequence, there’s something that you experience. So give examples. Keep it simple. When you’re always angry then people eventually, over time, start to avoid you and that will lead to loneliness. When you keep breaking your promises then, over time, people won’t believe what you say. They won’t trust you. They won’t take you at your word. It’s that old adage of the boy who cried wolf, alright?

So why I would keep the explanation of karma simple is this. Sometimes people just are not ready, or just don’t want to be convinced. Sometimes people are just not ready to hear an explanation. Sometimes people ask a question not necessarily for the reasons of understanding, but sometimes people ask a question to poke holes, to test your knowledge, to make you look stupid, because maybe they think that they know much more than you. Sometimes people ask questions not necessarily to learn.

Or sometimes people ask questions because they’re genuinely curious, but they’re not ready to hear the answer. That’s also possible. And by attempting to force someone to believe in our view, or by attempting to force someone to conform to our belief, or to see things our way, we may do more harm than good. We may end up getting into an argument because perhaps in our insistence on someone believing in the same things as us, they may end up thinking, “Why are Buddhists like this?” So if we’re not skillful in our explanation, there may be repercussions in us trying to get them to believe in what it is that we believe.

Ultimately, what is most important…ultimately, what Rinpoche always told us is that keeping harmony is most important. And the reason why I bring this up about keeping things simple is because there have been cases in the past where, for example, between partners, between husband and wife, for example, one partner may be very, very, very faithful or be very, very devoted to her practice and to her study, and the other partner may not be as engaged or maybe slightly more sceptical, and it can cause arguments, it can create tension, it can create friction, when one person tries to convince another person to conform to their view. That’s why I will recommend keeping the explanation very simple. Why? Because Rinpoche always said what is most important is harmony. Harmony between families, harmony between spouses and partners, harmony between parents and children. Most important thing is harmony.

If our spouse, partner, friend, relative – whatever – loved one, colleague doesn’t want to believe in what it is that we believe in – if they don’t want to believe in karma for now – it’s fine. It’s not a problem. You don’t have to work so hard to try to explain to them exactly what karma is, and then go into the jargon and make sure that they understand. Keep it simple. That’s what I would recommend, keeping it simple.

Yes, it will be very, very good…I know, I’m wearing white and I’m telling you, like, “Oh, it’s not important that…”. No, I’m not saying that, I’m not saying that it’s not important for them to understand what karma is. All I’m saying is that it’s very, very good and it would be very good if they did believe in karma, if they did understand karma deeper but sometimes, silence or a simpler explanation is better for the recipient.

When we answer questions for people, we should not be answering questions to satisfy ourselves. We should be answering questions to benefit somebody else, to benefit the person who is asking the question. So we should answer questions in a way that they will understand, that they will accept.

The best thing to do would be to gauge the person and to gauge their readiness. We’re not here to try to convince anyone that we are right or that they’re wrong or whatever. We’re here to benefit people. So how are we…going back to the original question of how to explain karma to someone who doesn’t necessarily believe in it is that if you perform an action over and over again, repeatedly, you will create habit, you’ll form and create a new habit. So why not form and create a new good habit as opposed to something that creates harm, suffering or pain for other people?

Second part is that you do something, you will experience the results. And give them very straightforward examples that they can easily understand, without religious terminology.

Close transcript

Is cryogenics possible…and zombies?!

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai talks about cryogenics and zombies…

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-09-05.mp4

Transcript:
Hi everyone! Welcome back to The Early Show with me, Pastor Jean Ai.

Now before we get on to today’s topic, I would first like to thank the sponsor of today’s sharing who wishes to remain anonymous, but would like to dedicate their contribution towards all beings’ liberation from suffering and to the attainment of compassion, wisdom and true happiness.

So this week, we’re going to be talking about something a little bit different, we’re going to be talking about cryogenics and zombies. How does Buddhism view cryogenics? Is such a thing possible and can such a thing happen?

Now, some background first. How did this conversation even come about?

Many years ago, I asked our guru, His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, a question about cryogenics. So in case you don’t know, cryogenics is when you freeze a human body with the intention of reviving it later.

So I asked Rinpoche how that could work. I mean, once we die and our consciousness has left our body, it will have taken rebirth within 49 days. So when that frozen body is thawed and then revived, what consciousness goes back into it since the original one has already taken rebirth?

So Rinpoche told me that that’s a very good question and it is possible for cryogenics to work BUT the caveat is, you just don’t know what consciousness will inhabit the original defrosted body.

But the point is, Rinpoche said that it is possible for something like that to happen, if we realise that our body is just a vessel which can host any consciousness so as long as the necessary karmic conditions are met. Which means, yes, zombies can exist and there are certain regions in Tibet where zombies are very common. So common, in fact, that even the houses are built with low-hanging main entrances to stop zombies from coming into the home.

Now to explain how all of this is possible, Rinpoche talked about how there are certain practices, for example within the Yamantaka set of tantras, where you’re taught to eject the consciousness out of the body into another vessel.

Why would you want to be able to do that? Well, if you think about Tibet, it’s a very vast region and sometimes it takes days, maybe weeks, and sometimes even months, to get from one point to another. So when a teacher is giving a discourse or transmitting teachings or practices that you want to receive, and you can’t get there in time, there are practices where you can eject your consciousness into, for example, a passing bird and fly to the location where the teachings and practices are being transmitted, receive them, and then go back to the original body and have your consciousness reenter.

The caveat however, is that the original body should not be disturbed in the time that your consciousness has left or you may have trouble reentering.

Rinpoche explained that the reason why people wish to develop abilities like this is so that they can remain in remote, isolated places in order to focus on their practice. It is not because it’s fun or it’s a game to be able to eject one’s consciousness out of the body. That should not be the end goal or the end result that we’re aiming for.

Rinpoche said that all of these abilities, such as ejecting one’s consciousness or the ability to generate one’s own body heat in a practice called tummo in Tibetan, is to support our practice in order to develop the real attainments which are patience, kindness, wisdom, generosity, concentration, effort and so on.

So how would something like tummo be helpful? Again, in the remote, isolated areas of Tibet where serious practitioners like to go so that they won’t be disturbed from their practice, it can get very cold or there isn’t much vegetation that they can burn in order to stay warm. So having the ability to generate our own body heat in those circumstances is very, very useful.

So I repeat – the end goal isn’t the ability to fly or the ability to walk very, very fast, or to keep ourselves warm, or to never have to eat again. All of those abilities are tools to aid us in developing the real attainments which will actually bring us closer to enlightenment. So when we have these abilities, we shouldn’t get distracted and stuck on them and think, “Oh, I’m attained now, I don’t need to practise and I don’t need to try so hard anymore.” On the contrary, you SHOULD try harder and you SHOULD practise harder now that you have these tools which will help you to progress much faster in your practice.

So, that’s something for you to think about. That’s it from me for this week. Once again, thank you very much for joining me and thank you again to the sponsor of today’s sharing. As ever, please stay home, please stay safe and don’t go out if you don’t have to. And go and get vaccinated if you haven’t already. I’ll see you guys in two weeks’ time, on the 3rd Sunday of this month. Have a great week ahead and as ever, please don’t forget to be kind to each other. Bye!

Close transcript

Organ donation: Yay or nay?

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai talks about Buddhism’s view of organ donation…

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-09-19.mp4

Transcript:
Hi everyone! Welcome back to The Early Show with me, Pastor Jean Ai.

This week, I’m going to be answering a question about organ donation but first, before we get there, I would like to thank the sponsor of today’s sharing, Boon Yee, who wishes to dedicate their contribution towards the aspiration that all beings be well and happy.

So organ donation. Organ donation is the process of donating tissues or organs of the body for the purpose of transplantation to others who need them, because there’s been damage or failure to the organs or tissues of the recipient.

There are two types of organ donation, which are living organ donations or cadaveric organ donation. But I’m not here today to discuss the nuances of either. I’m here today to talk about how Buddhism views organ donation in general, and whether or not we should or are allowed to do it.

To cut a long story short, yes – Buddhists are allowed to donate our organs. In fact, it’s even encouraged especially if our organs will save a life or provide a better quality of life to the recipient.

Now let’s talk specifically about cadaveric organ donation which is the one that a lot of people have a lot of questions about. Are Buddhists allowed to donate our organs after we die?

Again, long story short, the answer is ‘yes’.

Now typically, resistance to organ donation comes from our loved ones who don’t want us to donate our organs after we die, just in case we don’t look presentable for the funeral, or they don’t get our body back and so on.

The first thing you need to realise is that when someone is an organ donor, you do get their body back so you can hold a funeral. But that’s not even the most important point. The most important point is why we have a funeral.

If you think about it, we don’t have funerals for the dead. We actually have funerals for the living. It’s to give the living some sense of closure, and an opportunity to generate merits for the deceased.

But even with that, the reality is that most of the merit is generally really for yourself, and only a small portion of it goes to your loved ones. But it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t do it because something is still better than nothing.

And the fact is that you can still have a funeral even without a body. You don’t need to have a body to have a funeral, or to do all of the ceremonies and prayers and rituals and offerings. The power of a prayer or ritual is not dependent or contingent on the physical presence of a body.

So I repeat – you don’t need to have a body or a corpse in order for your prayers for the deceased to have an impact.

Now as a Buddhist, we should understand that our body is a vessel for our consciousness, and once our loved one has passed on and their consciousness has left their body, that body is no longer the person that we love and that we are attached to.

The second thing that we need to realise is that our body is actually a tool in order for us to purify karma and to generate merit. In order to gain enlightenment, we need to have a human body in order to engage in practice.

That is the only reason why long life practices exist. We engage in practices like White Tara and Amitayus in order to extend our life, so that we can have more time to work on our spiritual practice before we have to take an uncontrolled rebirth.

So back to organ donation. If our body is a vessel for our consciousness, and a tool for us to use for practice, then if we can do one last beneficial act with our bodies before it’s discarded, then why not?

Once we have died and our consciousness has left our bodies and has taken rebirth, the body is no longer needed. So don’t cling on.

Now the question comes, how do we lessen our attachment and our grip on our bodies? We can do that by meditating on the fact that life is impermanent, and that our body is just a composition of different elements.

Once the karmic conditions for our body to exist as we know it have changed or have ended, then our body will stop functioning and return to the elements.

So take your loved one’s funeral as an opportunity to meditate on impermanence and realise that the only thing that separates us from the corpse is one single breath.

Think, “That person used to be my father, my sister, my husband, my colleague, and now they are not. It will be the same for me one day. I may be here today but tomorrow, in the next moment, I could be gone.”

When we regularly meditate like this, we will loosen our attachment to our own body and to other people’s bodies. And the stress and the fear of dying one day will also be gone as well, when we learn to accept this truth. Then we can live happily whilst we’re still alive and die happily when it is our time.

Finally, if your loved one has opted to become an organ donor after they die, rejoice for them that they have the thought to benefit others as their final act. That is the quality of person that you know – someone who is kind and who thinks of others. Especially in the case of a cadaveric organ donor, it means that your loved one is the kind of person who can donate their organs to benefit a complete stranger. And because they’re already dead, your loved one won’t even get to ‘enjoy’ the compliments and the thank you’s that they deserve.

So, I hope that I’ve answered your question. Organ donation is very much permitted, and in fact it’s even encouraged, in Buddhism. That’s it from me for this week. Once again, thank you very much for joining me and thank you again to the sponsor of today’s sharing. I’ll see you guys in two weeks’ time, on the 1st Sunday of next month. Have a great week ahead and as ever, please don’t forget to be kind to each other. Bye!

Close transcript

Children and Dharma…how?!

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai talks about how you can get your kids into the Dharma…

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-10-03.mp4

Transcript:
Hi everyone! Welcome back to The Early Show with me, Pastor Jean Ai.

This week, I’m going to be answering a question that we’ve received A LOT over the years but first, before we get there, I would like to thank the sponsors of today’s sharing.

This week, we have Susanto, also known as Karma Sherab Tarzing, who would like to dedicate their contribution to the following aspiration: that may all beings be happy and stay strong.

Our next sponsor is Boon Yee, who would like to dedicate their sponsorship to all those who are suffering from the pandemic, may they get well soon.

And finally, our third sponsor wishes to remain anonymous but would like to dedicate their contribution towards all beings’ liberation from suffering and to the attainment of compassion, wisdom and true happiness.

Now a question that we often get asked, especially by parents, is: “Is Dharma good for my kids? And how do I get my kids to practise Dharma?”

So let’s deal with the easier question first – is Dharma good for my kids? And that would be a very, very clear and very emphatic ‘yes’ from me.

“Oh Pastor Jean Ai, of course you’re going to say that!”

But no, wait. Hear me out. Why do I say ‘yes’?

I say ‘yes’ because Dharma equips our kids with the knowledge and the tools to make good decisions. Dharma imbues children with a sense of ethics and a set of values that are centred around being kind, being beneficial towards society, and being caring of others. Dharma emphasises integrity, loyalty, consistency, and it teaches us to persevere through difficulties, and to overcome obstacles with compassion.

Dharma provides us with a guideline to live by, so that we can navigate the world around us in a manner that creates the greatest good and the least harm for ourselves and for everyone else around us. Think about it. What are the ten basic refuge vows that every Buddhist takes? They are:

  • The Three of the Body which are to refrain from killing, stealing, sexual misconduct
  • Then you’ve got the Four of the Speech, which are to refrain from divisive speech, harsh words, idle chatter, lying
  • And finally, you’ve got the Three of the Mind which are to refrain from envy, hatred and malice, and wrong views

Now aren’t these values that you would want to pass on to anyone, let alone your child? Are any of these values actually bad or actually wrong? Absolutely not. They are something that every single human being should and can live by.

So of course, when you hear all of that, it sounds pretty good, doesn’t it? Dharma sounds like something you would definitely want to get your child to get into, and you should. As our guru, His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche always said, when you die, that being whom you now call your child is no longer your child. But as their parent for now, you’ve got a responsibility to raise them right. That doesn’t mean buying them the biggest house or setting them up with the biggest bank balance possible.

It doesn’t mean any of that because all of that can be lost, spent and frittered away. But what CANNOT be lost, what CANNOT be spent and what CANNOT be frittered away is the ability to live positively and beneficially, with values that a Dharma upbringing can give them. So the best gift that you can give your child, the best form of protection that you can offer them, the best way of making sure that they’ll be alright when you’re no longer around, is the gift of Dharma.

Now, as a parent, what is the best way of getting your child into the Dharma?

You’re smart, you probably know what I’m already going to say. The easiest way to get your child into the Dharma is by doing it yourself. That’s right, you have to lead by example.

First of all, children are incredibly perceptive and very, very observant. They notice things from a very young age, much sooner, and much earlier and much younger than you realise. Also, children learn by imitation so if you want to get your child started in the Dharma young, then you have to show them a good example for them to imitate.

So what do kids imitate? Well, if you think about a child, where does a child spend most of their time? That will tell you what and who they’re going to imitate. And the truth is, kids spend most of their time at home or in school. So who are they going to learn from? You, their teachers or their friends.

Now if most of their time is spent in these two places, and already their teachers and their friends are not going to imprint any Dharma in them, then it’s up to you to take on that responsibility of giving them an example to imitate.

When you tell them that Dharma is good but you don’t put it into practise yourself, it’s only going to last for so long before your child senses hypocrisy.

It’s only going to last so long before your child starts to think, “Well, if my parents say Dharma is good and my parents say that they’re in Dharma, but they never seem to do what is that they say they’re going to do or what it is that they say is good for me, so why should I practise Dharma? If my parents’ actions are always the opposite of what they tell me what the Dharma is, then why should I practise Dharma?”

You can’t tell your child, “Don’t eat the cake, sugar is bad for you” and then have them see you eating the cake.

So as a parent, you have to practise the Dharma first, and you really have to walk the talk if you want your child to pursue spirituality. You have to open yourself up to the teachings and let the teachings change and transform you, so that your child can observe those changes and understand, through observation and experience, that Dharma does make a difference. That Dharma does have an impact.

So, I hope I’ve answered your question. That’s it from me for this week. Once again, thank you very much for joining me and thank you again to the sponsors of today’s sharing. I’ll see you guys in two weeks’ time, on the 3rd Sunday of this month. If you have any questions, please do leave me a message in the comments section below. Have a great week ahead and as ever, please don’t forget to be kind to each other. Bye!

Close transcript

You Asked: How can a person be very educated and also unhappy?

Synopsis:
This week, Pastor Jean Ai answers a question that was asked: “How can a person be very educated but also unhappy?”

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-10-17.mp4

Transcript:
Hi everyone! Welcome back to The Early Show with me, Pastor Jean Ai.

This week, we’re going to be answering a question about education but first, before we get there, I would like to thank the sponsor of today’s sharing who wishes to remain anonymous but would like to dedicate their contribution towards all beings’ liberation from suffering, and to the attainment of compassion, wisdom and true happiness.

I would also like to remind you guys that there is a livestreaming session coming up on the final Sunday of this month so get your questions ready for me, and I’ll see you then.

So this week’s question is, why is it that people today are more educated than ever before but also unhappier? That’s because there is a mistaken correlation between happiness and education.

The questions you have to ask yourself are, are they educated in the right things? Or are they educated in the things that will bring them down even further? That will deepen their samsara even more?

What do I mean by that?

Well, what is it that they are educated in? Is it something secular? Are they well-versed in the things that will increase their desire, that will deepen divisive thoughts, that will strengthen their sense of duality?

Or are they educated in the things that will elevate them? That will prompt spiritual evolution? That will push them to grow and to develop their positive qualities, and to reduce the ones that are causing suffering to themselves?

Are they educated in things that will guide their conscience, that will compel them to do things that benefit others? Or are they educated in things that will grow their selfishness and their selfish mind, and add to their desire, or fuel their anger and their ignorance?

So, that’s the first thing.

The other thing to consider is that just because we know a lot of things, does not always mean that we’ll apply them. A simple example is, how come psychologists and psychiatrists and therapists can have a fair amount of understanding of the human mind and human behaviour, but they can still be unhappy? But they can still have dysfunctional relationships? But they can still cause pain to others? That’s due to the fact that just because you know something, does not always mean that you will apply it to yourself.

Isn’t it always easier giving advice to a friend, than making sure that we always follow that same advice ourselves?

And it isn’t just in a non-religious context. This also applies even in the monasteries. Our guru, His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche, also always said that there are extremely learned scholars who have studied for years and years and years in the monasteries, and who have every qualification under the sun. If you ask them any question, they immediately know the answer and they can repeat every scripture to you verbatim. The problem is, sometimes, some of them are not very nice people. They know the stuff, they studied the stuff, but they just don’t do anything with the knowledge that they have. And so as a consequence, over the years, anger grows. Jealousy grows. Discontent grows. How much harm they cause to others, also grows.

Then, on the other hand, you also have the people who know next to nothing. Rinpoche also said that there are some people who know very, very little, who are not recognised scholars, who don’t know how to do many prayers and many rituals and so on, but they’re beaming. But they’re light. But they’re content. But they’re NOT unhappy even in their old age.

So there are two things at stake here in answering this week’s question:

  1. That just because you know a lot of things, does not mean that you know the right things. What are the right things? How to treat people properly. How to take on more and bear more for others. How to exchange that selfish mind into a mind that benefits others.
  2. Just because you know a lot of things, just because you’re educated in a lot of things, does not always mean that you apply it. It’s like going to the doctor when you’re sick and the doctor laying it all out for you. “This is your illness, this is what caused it, this is what the treatment is, and here’s your medication” – and then you don’t do any of it. You don’t take any of it. You don’t change your diet, you don’t take your medication, and you don’t look into how to manage your illness. If you make zero lifestyle changes, how do you expect that you’re going to heal? How do you expect that you’re going to stop suffering? How do you expect that you’re going to be happy?

So that is how people can be more educated than ever before, but still be unhappy. They may know a lot of things but they may not know the right things, and they may know a lot of things but they may not apply it to themselves. Just because you know something, does not always mean that you’ll practise it.

So, I hope that I’ve answered that question. That is it from me for this week. Once again, thank you very much for joining me and thank you again to the sponsor of today’s sharing. I’ll see you guys in two weeks’ time, on the final Sunday of this month for that livestream so please don’t forget to get your questions ready! Have a great week ahead and as ever, please don’t forget to be kind to each other. Bye!

Close transcript

You Asked: Why is my life so full of problems? It’s surprising!

Synopsis:
LAST EPISODE OF THE EARLY SHOW! This week, Pastor Jean Ai answers one of your questions about life and why it’s so full of problems…

Or view the video on the server at:
https://video.tsemtulku.com/videos/2021-10-31.mp4

Transcript:
Hi everyone, how’s it going? Welcome back to The Early Show, my name is Pastor Jean Ai and thank you for joining me on today’s livestream. Please bear with me as I get things started up over here because I’m not in my usual location so yeah…

As usual, my plan is to keep this sharing on the shorter side so we can get through as many of your questions as possible. So if you guys have any questions, please stick them up in the comments section of this livestream and I’ll try my best to get to them and if I don’t, if I’m not able to respond to them during the livestream, then I will respond after the fact.

Also, I would like to say a big ‘thank you’ to the sponsors of today’s sharing, first of whom is Boon Yee who would like to dedicate their contribution towards the speedy recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic. Thank you very much Boon Yee. Also, sponsor Jaclyn who would like to dedicate their contribution that all may be well and happy. And a very supportive anonymous sponsor who has been supporting this show for a very, very long time, who would like to dedicate their contribution towards all beings’ liberation from suffering, and towards the attainment of compassion, wisdom and true happiness. So thank you guys very much for your continued support of these programmes, not just mine but everyone else’s as well.

Now ordinarily, at this point, I will make a request, at this juncture I would make a request for support, sponsorship of the show but I also have an announcement to make today which is that today’s livestream, today’s video is the last Early Show episode for this year, for the foreseeable future, who knows. So thank you guys very much for your continued support of this programme over the last year. It has been very encouraging and I hope that it has been beneficial, helpful somehow and that you’ve taken away something from the shows. I have enjoyed making these videos for you, and I have enjoyed having you on these livestreams. And I have enjoyed answering your questions, your very insightful questions which actually show that you’ve been reading, that you’ve been learning, that you’ve been studying and engaging with the teachings, thinking about the teachings, contemplating and coming up with some fantastic questions. So I have really enjoyed doing these videos and having you guys on the livestreams.

So speaking of livestreams, today what I actually want to talk about is a quote that our guru His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche shared with us very often, and it’s a quote that Rinpoche’s guru – Rinpoche’s own guru, His Eminence Kensur Rinpoche Jampa Yeshe – actually told our Rinpoche. And His Eminence Kensur Rinpoche Jampa Yeshe was the abbot of one of the great Tibetan monasteries, known as Gaden Shartse Monastery. So His Eminence Kensur Rinpoche Jampa Yeshe said, “Why is it that you’re surprised when things go wrong? It is the samsara, this is samsara. In fact, you should be surprised when things go right.” Right? So let’s talk about that, let’s talk about that quote.

As Buddhists, as spiritual seekers, as spiritual practitioners, why is it that we get upset when life is full of problems? Why is it that we react, why is it that we fight what is happening in front of us, why is it that we protest, why is it that we resist? Why is it that we think, “Oh, things shouldn’t be this way, life shouldn’t be this way. I’ve done everything possible, why are there so many problems that keep coming up over and over again? Why is it that my life never seems to get any easier, why is it that my life never seems to improve, why is it that I’m constantly coming up against obstacles over and over again?” Right?

Now if we’re being completely honest, when I ask all of these questions – why do we get upset, why do we resist, why do we fight, why do we protest and so on – I’m not just asking you guys, alright? I’m going to be very, very honest here, I’m not just asking you guys because even I get upset. Even I react. Even I get annoyed and I get surprised when things don’t go well, or when things don’t go according to plan. Honestly speaking, I get very annoyed when things don’t go according to plan because you’ve set everything up very nicely. You’ve set up a schedule, you’ve done this, that and the other, and you’ve prepared for the worst case scenario, and still things go wrong. So yeah, I get upset, I do react. All of us do.

Now, why is it that we get surprised? It may not necessarily be the answer that you want to hear but it’s the truth. And the truth is that we get upset and we get surprised when there are so many problems in life, because we aren’t practising the Dharma and we aren’t applying the teachings. If we know the Dharma, and if we are applying the teachings, then we would never be upset and we would never get annoyed and we would never be irritated when there are problems and when there are obstacles and when there are issues that crop up in life because we will have realised and understood the basis and the causes for these problems and these issues to arise. And we will know that there is no point in getting upset, and we will know that it’s actually counterproductive to get upset, and to get irritated and to react. There’s no point.

But having said that, we still do react from time to time, so before I continue, what I actually do want to say is that just because we are not applying the teachings all of the time, what Rinpoche told us is that that does not make us bad and that does not make us evil. It just means that we’re people who are trying our best. It just means that we’re people who are practising. We’re not people who have accomplished, but we’re people who are practising, we’re people who are trying our best, we’re people who are putting in effort. We are practitioners.

So each time we fail, each time we get upset, we shouldn’t think, “Oh, I got upset that this problem arose in my life. I reacted when this problem arose in my life. So since I reacted, since I got upset, therefore there is no longer any point in me trying to hold my temper, there’s no longer any point in me trying to control my mind because I already failed.” We shouldn’t think like that. What Rinpoche actually said is that if we fail that one time, it doesn’t mean that we have to keep failing forever. It doesn’t mean that we have to keep failing over and over again. For example, just because today we may have reacted in anger to someone, does not mean that we have to fall into anger, and does not mean we have to react with anger over and over again. We just reacted with anger once; the next time that situation comes about again, try your best to hold your temper.

So just because you have failed once, does not mean that you have to keep failing over and over again. Doesn’t mean that you have to give up. It just means that we weren’t successful that one time and so we should try again, over and over again until we finally get it right.

How do we deal with being surprised that life is so full of problems? First of all, we have to understand that we are not enlightened. We are unenlightened. We are not accomplished, we are not attained. Together with that, what it means is that we are not living in some kind of celestial abode or some kind of celestial paradise like Kechara Paradise. Now in places like Kechara Paradise, what Rinpoche actually described to us is that these places are so wonderful because everything in a celestial abode like Kechara Paradise is geared towards the practice of Dharma. Is geared towards our spiritual development. Kechara Paradise is the celestial abode of a tantric Buddha by the name of Vajra Yogini. And it’s the place that our organisation is named after.

So first of all, recognise the fact that we’re not enlightened, we’re not attained, and we’re not living in some kind of celestial abode, celestial paradise like Kechara Paradise where everything is geared towards our spiritual practice. What Rinpoche explained is that even in a place like Kechara Paradise, when the wind blows, it carries with it the sound of Dharma through the trees so that all that we’re receiving all the time is Dharma. We’re not living in a place like that. Where we are living is we’re living samsara. We’re living in a place that’s full of angry, full of jealous, full of bitter, envious, difficult, strange, unique, weird, interesting, different kind of people who all have their own agendas, who all have their own traumas and who all have their own experiences.

And so of course when we’re living in a place like samsara where there are all these people, including ourselves, who are struggling with our anger, struggling with our depression, struggling with our jealousy – struggling with all of these things – of course at some point we will have problems because of course at some point we won’t always see eye to eye with all the people who are around us. Of course there will be conflict, of course there will be clashes, and of course there will be people disagreeing with one another. Of course there will be disharmony, of course there will be problems because we’re not enlightened.

So how do we deal with being surprised that life is so full of problems? First, by realising and understanding that we are unenlightened. Second, how we deal with being surprised that life is so full of problems is by understanding and realising the fact that just because we are in the Dharma, does not mean – I’m so sorry – it does not mean that all of our problems and our obstacles and our difficulties will instantly go away, alright? How can our problems and difficulties and issues and challenges, and all of these things suddenly disappear just because we have taken refuge, and just because we say, “I’m Buddhist, I’ve taken refuge in the Buddha and I will follow the Buddha’s teachings”? How is it that just because we have taken refuge, instantly all of our problems will disappear overnight? How is it that just because we have taken refuge, that instantly overnight we never have a single problem ever again? We have to meditate and we have to think, “Why am I experiencing these problems? Why am I experiencing difficulties in my life over and over again? I am experiencing these problems and these difficulties in my life over and over again because in the past, I’ve created the karma to do so. And therefore I am experiencing the results of my karma now. I have created the causes to experience these problems and these difficulties in the past.”

We need to meditate and think like that.

So us becoming Buddhist doesn’t mean that we are automatically saved. Doesn’t mean that we’re instantly saved. And doesn’t mean that we will definitely never experience suffering anymore. Us becoming Buddhist doesn’t mean that suddenly, all of the karmic causes for our problems have instantly disappeared. Us becoming a Buddhist – you becoming a Buddhist, you being interested in the Buddha’s teachings, you pursuing or studying the Dharma, practising the Dharma and taking refuge – actually means that now, you have an opportunity to do something about the problems and the difficulties that keep coming up in life over and over again.

What opportunities are those? The first opportunity that we have after we’ve taken refuge is that we have the opportunity to do something about the karma that we’ve created in the past. So whether that is a purification practice – for example by doing a lot of prostrations or, for example, by engaging in retreats of Dorje Shugden’s kanshag (confession prayer) – or whether that means we get to create merit by engaging in practices such as making offerings to create more conducive conditions for ourselves in the future – by us taking refuge and by us becoming Buddhist, the first opportunity that we get to do something about the problems and about the difficulties that arise in our life is we get to do something about the karma that we’ve created that are resulting in the experiences that we’re having now.

The second opportunity that we get is that we stop creating further karma by reacting to the results of our previously-created karma. What do I mean by that? That means that whatever problems we’re having now, if we apply the Dharma to them, to resolving these problems, then we won’t create further karma through our reaction. And that’s very important because it means that instead of us getting angry, it means that instead of us getting jealous that someone else at work gets a promotion over and above us and we don’t feel that they deserve it, instead of us getting angry or jealous in a situation like that, we learn to rejoice for them. As difficult as it may be, we learn to rejoice for them. So what that means is that we don’t create further karma from that anger or from that jealousy which we will experience the results of in the future.

So let me do a short recap – how do we deal with being surprised that life is so full of problems? The first thing is by realising and understanding that we are not enlightened, that we are unenlightened. And therefore by virtue of the fact that we are unenlightened and living in samsara, we are going to run into people, situations, that are disharmonious, that have conflict, that have clashes, that we will have disagreements with. Things won’t always be rosy because we are not enlightened.

Second thing is how we deal with being surprised by life’s problems is by realising and understanding the fact that just because we are Buddhist, just because we have taken refuge in the Buddha’s teachings, just because we have committed to following the path, it doesn’t mean that automatically, instantly all of our problems will disappear overnight. What it means is that by taking refuge, we now have an opportunity to do something about the problems and the difficulties.

First, by engaging in purification practices, by engaging in practices that create merit so that we experience conducive conditions in the future, we don’t experience as many problems or difficulties in the future.

Second, by not creating further karma, by reacting to the results of our previously created karma.

Third, when we take refuge, when we become Buddhist, when we commit to following the Buddha’s teachings, the third opportunity that we get is we get to address the root causes of what creates karma for us. And that is our anger, that is our ignorance, that is our desire. Right? So if you guys are familiar with the teachings then that would mean that we get to address the Three Poisons. Our anger, our ignorance and our desire. Snake, rooster and pig, in one order or the other. Rinpoche has given teachings, very extensive teachings on snakes, roosters and pigs so I do encourage you guys to go onto YouTube, to go onto Rinpoche’s blog, and to look up that very extensive teaching. Or to go onto Vajrasecrets and to look up the book.

Alright, so third opportunity that we get is we get to address the root causes of what creates karma for us, which is our anger, our ignorance and our desire. Which means that by taking refuge in the Buddha’s teachings and by committing to following the path of Dharma, we have an opportunity to once and for all stop creating karma, and therefore end the causes of us having these problems and having these difficulties arise in our life over and over again.

Just because we have entered the Dharma doesn’t mean that our problems will automatically come to an end. We will still have problems, we will still have difficulties, we will still have obstacles, we will still have issues and challenges, and we will still suffer even after we’ve entered the Dharma, even after we’ve taken refuge. But what entering the Dharma means, what taking refuge means is that we get a chance to do something about them and to do something about what created these problems and difficulties so that we don’t have to suffer again in the future, whether that future is within this lifetime or whether that future is in the next lifetime.

And actually what Rinpoche said is that once we enter the Dharma, in fact we should actually anticipate more problems and more difficulties arising in our life. Why? Because 1, we pray for it. We pray “May all obstacles of others ripen upon me. May I develop the compassion, may I develop the ability to bear the burden of others. May I develop the compassion, may I develop the ability, may I be able to bear the responsibility of alleviating other people’s suffering and alleviating other people’s problems.” So as people who have taken refuge, as people who are on the path of developing bodhicitta, we pray for obstacles and for problems to ripen upon us, we pray to develop the ability to absorb other people’s obstacles and sufferings. So what Rinpoche said is that when we take refuge or when we receive refuge, when we become Buddhist – in fact, when we enter the Dharma – we should not be surprised that problems arise in our life because we’re actually praying for problems to arise in our life, Number One.

Number Two, the great thing about having taken refuge, the great thing about committing to the Buddhist path is that now we have the opportunity to experience the results of our karma so that we can actually purify it, we can actually go through it, so that we never have to deal with it again. What do I mean by that? Let me give you an example that will help to illustrate what I mean by that. Think about which one it is that you prefer – would you prefer to experience the results of your karma in this lifetime? Or would you prefer to experience the results of your karma in a future lifetime when you have no control and when you have no ability and when you have no opportunity to do something about it, to cope with it, to lessen its effects, to reduce its impact?

When would you prefer to experience the results of your karma, in this lifetime when you have the ability, the tools, the platform, the means of doing something about it? When you have some modicum of control over it? Or would you prefer to experience the results of your karma in a future lifetime when you have absolutely no control?

So example – let’s say you have a lot of body karma. What is body karma? Very simple, body karma is karma that is created as a result of the actions of the body. Straightforward right? So would you rather experience the results of your body karma in this lifetime in, for example, a car accident where you break your arm and you end up being in a cast for a few weeks and it’s itchy and it’s horrible and you have to pay medical bills and all of that? Would you rather experience the results of your body karma in the form of a car accident where you break your arm and you’re in a cast, or would you prefer to experience the results of your karma in a future lifetime where you take rebirth in one of the hell realms and you’re continuously extremely, extremely, extremely hot or extremely, extremely, extremely cold and you have no way out of it? There is no light at the end of the tunnel, there is no sense of relief, there is no hope for relief, there is no hope for respite. When would you prefer to experience the results of your body karma, in this lifetime when you can mitigate some of the effects, and you can cope better with the effects or with the results of this experience of your body karma? Or would you prefer to experience the results of your body karma in a future lifetime in one of the hell realms, where you have absolutely no control?

So when we enter the Dharma, what Rinpoche said is 1, we should actually not be surprised that so many problems arise in our life because we pray for it. 2, generate a sense of gratitude that we actually have the opportunity to experience the results of our karma now, to purify it so that we never have to experience it ever again in the future.

When we are surprised that life is full of problems, when we are surprised that so many difficulties and challenges and obstacles arise, whether it’s inner, outer or secret obstacles, when we’re surprised that we are having these experiences, what is actually happening is that we are denying karma and we’re in denial of the fact that we have created the causes to have these experiences and we created the causes in a previous life to have these experiences that we’re having now.

Now how do you deal with all of the problems that life throws at us? You deal with it by studying and by understanding the Dharma and by applying the teachings. So it’s not just good enough to open a book, read the book and think, “Oh yes. These teachings are very beautiful.”

It’s not enough to go into a teaching or a talk every week, to go into Dharma class and say, “Oh wow, how wonderful these teachings are. These words are so beautiful, these words offer relief to my mind” and then when you step out of Dharma class or when you close the livestream, you don’t make any changes in your life. So not just studying and understanding the Dharma helps us to deal with life’s problems but actually applying the teachings that we’ve learned.

It’s not just enough to say, “Oh these teachings are so beautiful” and then do nothing about it. It would be the same as going to the doctor’s office when you’re sick, the doctor giving you the medicine and you saying, “Oh wow, how wonderful science is. How wonderful that there are means for me to cure my illness by taking this medication” and then you don’t take the medication at all. You leave it on your desk and you don’t take your supplements, you don’t do the treatment but you praise the treatment. Not applying the Dharma is the same as doing that.

How else do you deal with all of the problems and difficulties that come up in life? You deal with it by practising the Eight Verses of Thought Transformation or the Eight Verses of Mind Transformation. Rinpoche has given a very extensive teaching about this in the past, which is on Rinpoche’s blog. The blog title is “Eight Steps to Happiness” and in the Eight Verses of Mind Transformation, “Whenever I’m with others, I will practise seeing myself as the lowest of all” and “From the very depths of my heart, I will respectfully hold others as supreme”. “In all actions, I will examine my mind and the moment a disturbing attitude arises, endangering myself and others, I will firmly confront and avert it.” “When someone I have benefited and in whom I have placed great trust, hurts me very badly, I will practise seeing that person as my supreme teacher.”

One way that Rinpoche encouraged us to deal with life’s problems, life’s difficulties and all of the things that come up with it is by, every day, reciting the Eight Verses of Mind Transformation and then applying it. Familiarising ourselves with it and then applying it on a day to day basis.

How else do we deal with life’s problems, the surprises that life throws at us? By following the instructions that our guru has set for us. And all of the instructions that our guru has set for us is by doing our sadhana every day. You know, some of us may think, “I’ve never met Rinpoche in real life. I’ve never met Rinpoche in person, I’ve never received instructions from Rinpoche.” Actually, all of us have. All of us as Rinpoche’s students have received instructions from Rinpoche. How? We receive instructions from Rinpoche whenever we sit and we receive and we listen to teachings from Rinpoche. Each time our guru tells us, “Offer the victory to others”, each time our guru tells us, “Practise humility”, each time our guru tells us, “Don’t be angry, don’t react when someone has hurt you, when someone has wronged you” – each time our guru tells us that, that is an instruction from our teacher, whether we like it or not, whether it’s phrased in that way. It’s not our guru telling us, “I instruct you to do this” but when our teacher gives us teachings, we should take it on as personal instruction.

So how we deal with life’s problems and the fact that we have so many challenges and issues in life is by taking on our teacher’s teachings as personal instructions to ourselves. So we follow the instructions that our teacher has set for us.

I’m sorry, I know that some of you guys might have been hoping for some kind of magic bullet where I tell you, “Okay, recite 108 OM MANI PADME HUMs every single day. Sponsor this puja.” I know that some people may be hoping for some kind of magic bullet to instantly poof – all of our problems and difficulties are gone but the truth is, when it comes to dealing with all of the obstacles that we have in our life, the only thing that is going to make it work is work. And the only thing that is gonna help us is by consistent effort. That each time we ‘fail’, that each time we find things difficult, each time we lose our temper, each time we react, each time we resist, each time we feel disheartened, each time we feel that we’ve lost hope, each time we feel “I can’t go through with this, I can’t do this anymore, it’s getting too much” – each time we ‘fail’ and we react like that, applying the effort consistently to applying the teachings.

That’s my sharing for today, let’s see what questions we have for this week.

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One Response to The Early Show with Pastor Jean Ai

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  1. Samfoonheei on Oct 8, 2022 at 12:34 pm

    At the time of commenting on these blog which I haven’t finishing watching have me thinking its an interesting one .All the questions and answers one could learn some knowledge from here. Its true watching we learn and put into use in our daily lives. Good sharing indeed as Pastor Jean Ai shares news and unpacks real-world issues with a Dharma perspective. It will definitely help us in away as it and offers practical advice.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Jean Ai.

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  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Nov 24. 2022 03:34 PM
    NASA’s planet-hunting Kepler spacecraft has confirmed the discovery of its first alien world. We are not alone on earth afterall. Researchers discovered detectable sign of extra-terrestrial life in the atmosphere of a rocky planet . Wow It’s so exciting to imagine the possibilities, of potential habitability and may be suitable for life. Even with that discovery Earth remains a standout, and is still the only planet known to host life. Scientists concluded that the possibility of the existence of alien life forms. I am sure in future scientists will discover more new discoveries of planet in the habitable zone.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/current-affairs/guess-what-was-found.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Nov 24. 2022 03:32 PM
    Wow… living a house with waterfall, greens, forests, clean air is everyone wish. Waterfalls are wonders of nature that humans have adored since ancient times. The sight, sound, and feel of waterfall have a positive impart on our mind. The beauty of waterfalls everywhere has been immense sources of inspiration for many such as thinkers, writers, philosophers, travel lovers and so forth. Sitting beside a waterfall and listening to the sound of waterfalls makes us happy.
    Well truly a masterpiece by Frank Lloyd Wright in terms of architecture and this designed Fallingwater has been called the best all-time work of American architecture. He believed in designing in harmony with humanity and the environment, and he truly appreciate their abundant beauty. Great work Frank Lloyd Wright.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/art-architecture/fallingwater-house-at-pennsylvania.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Thursday, Nov 24. 2022 03:30 PM
    HuffPost is an American liberal news portal, with localized and international editions. Well this portal offers news, blogs, and also covers politics, business, entertainment, environment etc . It cannot be wrong when mentioned about the Dorje Shugden controversy. It is a practice that the greatest Gelugpa and Sakya masters have hailed as all-important, and they have preserved and passed the lineage from one generation to another for 400 years. HuffPost’s professionalism and integrity says all. Those articles on the Shugden controversy is truly a testament.
    The H H 14th Dalai Lama, Tibet’s exiled spiritual leader, has for decades travelled the globe with a message of peace, love and compassion. Yet these Dorje Shugden controversy happened due to some having their own agenda. Shugden practitioners have been relying on Dorje Shugdn for more than 350 years. Why now??? It had cause more sufferings, misunderstanding , families divided and so on. May all this be over soon for the sake of Tibetans . Interesting read……hopefully more people will read this blog to understand the situation better.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/dorje-shugden/huffington-post-three-times-as-many-buddhists-as-communists-in-china-dalai-lamas-tibet-wish-may-require-rapprochement-with-former-adversaries.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Nov 16. 2022 03:52 PM
    History is full of weird events that no one can explain , well that’s a fact. We are fortunate historians of the past have documented many of them for us to understand. Yet many unexplained mysteries remain unexplained even to this day. For some reason, we as humans tend to concentrate on the mysterious things more than the undeniable facts. World’s greatest unsolved mysteries always interest me. Mysteries of any topic is truly interesting to read the story. Death is a mystery to all of us, and so is reincarnation. When science cannot explain something it is often referred to as a belief. There are many mysterious stories in the world now where people claim to be reincarnated and they remember their past life. One such intriguing story was of Shanti Devi recalling her past life in modern times. Shanti Devi’s story is amazing at the age of four years old, she began telling her parents specific details about her old life.
    Interesting and weird mysterious stories in this blog, some of them are truly spooky.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/science-mysteries/10-creepy-mysteries-you-havent-heard-of.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Nov 16. 2022 03:50 PM
    Even though it a old post yet reading it had me feeling sorry for such cute doggie. Due to some mortgage problems the owners left Sue the doggie without someone to look after. Sue was lucky somehow someone from Shelter Friend adopted her. Thank you to those who made it happen
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/animals-vegetarianism/dog-in-danger-please-help-sue.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Wednesday, Nov 16. 2022 03:48 PM
    nteresting read …..after reading this blog had me realised animals do reincarnate after all. Animals can become human again and vice versa after death. Just like humans, animals reincarnate as part of our soul family groups. This means the animals in our life now, have very likely been in our life before, as an animal. The true life story of a Thai boy with a snake past life tells all . The Thai boy Dalawong as a wonder spirit recognizes the cobra’s attacker is a very good life evidence of the existence of reincarnation.
    Reading the topic of telepathy had me understand slightly better . According to researchers, telepathy is a non-verbal way to communicate with others. With telepathy, people communicate entirely in the mind without saying anything. Interesting. Do hope I could telepathy with my doggie.
    Thank you Rinpoche for sharing this interesting blog.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/science-mysteries/do-animals-reincarnate-back-as-humans.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Nov 14. 2022 03:59 PM
    Thanks for sharing all this creative special thoughts for readers to share with everyone . Simple thoughts yet easy understandable , meaningful tells us a thousand words of reality. Many will surly benefits it , reading those thoughts. Everyone has the right to practice his or her own religion, or rather no religion at all. Everyone should be supportive of religious freedom because religion is uniquely valuable to society. No one should ever suffer, be humiliated, assaulted, be segregated all because of their faith.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor Seng Piow again with folded hands.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/very-special-thoughts-to-share.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Nov 14. 2022 03:56 PM
    As the sun rose over the ancient town, Dharmakaya Ceitiya, Thailand, a sea of saffron and maroon-robed monks assembled in an area the size of a football field. Could not have imagined 30,000 ordained as monks in one go that’s rejoicing. Thailand is the Land of Dharma where the Buddhism has been established since thousands years ago. Buddha Dharma teachings have been infiltrated in the daily life of Thai people. The Thai Buddhist cultures are unique and beautiful and their country are known as “the Land of Smile”. Theravada Buddhism is the official religion of Thailand and plays a key role in many aspects of Thai culture. For many Thai people, Buddhism is considered a philosophy for how to live one’s life and numerous Buddhist principles. Buddhism is a key component to the identities of many Thais. Many beautiful Buddhist temples and golden statues could be a common sights all over. Thai Buddhism has influenced society for a long time that has contributed to Thai people being generally known as kind, and compassionate.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this wonderful sharing. Looking at those rare pictures tells all…..simple amazing able to see it.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/30000-people-ordained-as-monks.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Monday, Nov 14. 2022 03:53 PM
    To live in the mountains was always Tsem Rinpoche’s dream. A quiet place called home with greenery surrounding. Mountains are the beginning and end of all natural scenery.The mountains give us time to take a moment to be in awe of the natural beauty of the world. It’s wonderful for everyone dream to those who love escaping the rush and pollution of modern life and altering our perspective. The mountains are an extraordinary environment of biological diversity, cultural diversity and linguistic diversity. But its exception for Rinpoche as in this blog somewhere in Thailand Rinpoche was there. Living on raft house surrounding by water watching sunrise and sunset . A beautiful , calm, solitude, quiet environment indeed. I would love these environment as well as mother nature is intoxicating.
    Rinpoche somehow founded an extraordinary environment of biological diversity, cultural diversity and linguistic diversity. A place call home to many of us that’s Kechara Forest retreat at Bentong. A unique examples of beauty, peace, austerity, spirituality, eco-yoga and creativity. A must visit to those who loves mother nature.
    Thank you Rinpoche .

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/me/an-exception.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Friday, Nov 11. 2022 03:19 PM
    Reading these inspiring quotes again to refresh myself of the Buddha teachings. If we understand, it will change our life in long run. Change is never painful, only resistance to change ourselves is painful. By refusing to accept this change, we make it worse because we’re fighting against it, against the flow of life. One moment can change a day, one day can change a life. We should be open to change and embrace changes. By accepting the fact that nothing in the universe is permanent . We learn and practice makes improvement in our life and be thankful always.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/inspiration-worthy-words/25-quotes-from-buddha-that-will-change-your-life.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Friday, Nov 11. 2022 03:16 PM
    PURE DEMOCRACY is democracy in which the power is exercised directly by the people rather than through representatives. Its much different in this case. Reading this article and all comments tells us a clear pictures what had actually happened in this Dorje Shugden controversy. In democratic countries, the government does not interfere with religion.People have the freedom to practise any religion they want. Dorje Shugden’s practice has been around for 400 years and it will continue as practitioners could see and understand the benefits of relying on the practice. Everyone of us should given the freedom of religious belief. Peace and harmony can only be maintain through understanding and interaction or maybe a dialogue between parties involved . I am sure Dorje Shugden practitioners and everyone in the communities can live in harmony. Be to fair the right to freedom of belief , interviews on both sides instead just listening one sided. No one should ever suffer, be segregated, assaulted, hurt, degraded, hated and biased for their religious beliefs. Once for all these controversy should be solved for the sake of peace and harmony. Thanks Justin Whitaker for speaking up and standing up for what you believe in for readers to have a better understanding rather then reading what Reuters had published.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/dorje-shugden/reuters-investigation-on-dorje-shugden-inaccurate.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Tuesday, Nov 8. 2022 01:09 PM
    Its sad how those Dorje Shugden practitioners had suffered and life is tough for them. Could’nt imagine not allow to enter premises such as hospitals for treatment, schools for education , securing a government job and so forth. Our very own Kecharian had even denied hotel rooms just because we practice it. This controversy had been going on for too long , hopefully it will dissolve soon with H h Dalai Lama saying we can practice it . All can live happily, no discrimination, with peace and harmony then. Interesting read.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor David. Of course a hand of applauds to those kecharian who have been working hard to collect all the evidence of the ban against Dorje Shugden.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/why-cant-the-dalai-lama-bind-dorje-shugden.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Tuesday, Nov 8. 2022 01:04 PM
    A beneficial practice to do in our daily Sadhana which I truly love it. I have been doing this Kawang practice daily without miss. It helps to clear our obstacles and purify our karma with the correct visualization. By purifying our karmas as our merits increase as well. When done consistently, kawang practice will remove obstacles that threaten our Dharma practice. It also create conducive conditions both externally as material necessities and physical health, and internally within our mind. Amazing benefits indeed one should not miss. All thanks to Rinpoche to be here in Malaysia.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Pastor David for sharing this post for readers to know better.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/buddhas-dharma/kawang-a-dorje-shugden-confessional-practice.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Tuesday, Nov 8. 2022 01:01 PM
    A précised sharing by Rinpoche regarding the banning of the practice of the enlightened Protector Dorje Shugden by Tibetan Leadership. Reading and watching those videos will explain all about the ban controversy. Many highly attained Lamas had for the last 400 years, has been relying on Dorje Shugden. But as claim by the Tibetan leadership the practice of the enlightened Protector Dorje Shugden is evil spirit and a minor practice. They claimed that whoever practice Dorje Shugden will to the three lower realms. All these were not true just an excuse to worry their community into giving up the Dorje Shugden practice. There were many incarnations of Lamas coming back again and again. Yet the Tibetan leadership keeps recognizing the reincarnations of lamas who engaged in the practice of Dorje Shugden. They said those Masters would take rebirth in the three lower realms. Not logic at all. As in this article one could read more prominent Dorje Shugden practitioners of the last 400 years are back again. Interesting read one should not miss.
    Thank you Rinpoche for this great sharing

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/great-lamas-masters/dorje-shugden-people-do-not-go-to-the-three-lower-realms.html
  • Samfoonheei
    Tuesday, Nov 8. 2022 12:59 PM
    We are not alone after-all. Spirits or unseen beings is everywhere. There are many different types of spirits around us, unseen to the naked eyes. A majority of people are believers in the existence of some kind of spiritual being. I do believe they do exist. Experiencing their existing in our sleep is scary some sort what happened to Pastor David. Many of us usually experience of feeling like we being touched or feeling pressure on their chest. It’s like something or someone is holding them down. Interesting read this paranormal experienced by Pastor David.
    Thank you Rinpoche and Li Kim for this sharing.

    https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/paranormal/tsem-paranormal-tv/david-lai.html

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The Unknown

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

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According to legend, Shambhala is a place where wisdom and love reign, and there is no crime. Doesn\'t this sound like the kind of place all of us would love to live in? https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=204874
3 years ago
According to legend, Shambhala is a place where wisdom and love reign, and there is no crime. Doesn't this sound like the kind of place all of us would love to live in? https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=204874
108 candles and sang (incense) offered at our Wish-Fulfilling Grotto, invoking Dorje Shugden\'s blessings for friends, sponsors and supporters, wonderful!
3 years ago
108 candles and sang (incense) offered at our Wish-Fulfilling Grotto, invoking Dorje Shugden's blessings for friends, sponsors and supporters, wonderful!
Dharmapalas are not exclusive to Tibetan culture and their practice is widespread throughout the Buddhist world - https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=193645
3 years ago
Dharmapalas are not exclusive to Tibetan culture and their practice is widespread throughout the Buddhist world - https://www.tsemrinpoche.com/?p=193645
One of our adorable Kechara Forest Retreat\'s doggies, Tara, happy and safe, and enjoying herself in front of Wisdom Hall which has been decorated for Chinese New Year
3 years ago
One of our adorable Kechara Forest Retreat's doggies, Tara, happy and safe, and enjoying herself in front of Wisdom Hall which has been decorated for Chinese New Year
Fragrant organic Thai basil harvested from our very own Kechara Forest Retreat farm!
3 years ago
Fragrant organic Thai basil harvested from our very own Kechara Forest Retreat farm!
On behalf of our Puja House team, Pastor Tat Ming receives food and drinks from Rinpoche. Rinpoche wanted to make sure the hardworking Puja House team are always taken care of.
3 years ago
On behalf of our Puja House team, Pastor Tat Ming receives food and drinks from Rinpoche. Rinpoche wanted to make sure the hardworking Puja House team are always taken care of.
By the time I heard about Luang Phor Thong, he was already very old, in his late 80s. When I heard about him, I immediately wanted to go and pay my respects to him. - http://bit.ly/LuangPhorThong
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By the time I heard about Luang Phor Thong, he was already very old, in his late 80s. When I heard about him, I immediately wanted to go and pay my respects to him. - http://bit.ly/LuangPhorThong
It\'s very nice to see volunteers helping maintain holy sites in Kechara Forest Retreat, it\'s very good for them. Cleaning Buddha statues is a very powerful and effective way of purifying body karma.
3 years ago
It's very nice to see volunteers helping maintain holy sites in Kechara Forest Retreat, it's very good for them. Cleaning Buddha statues is a very powerful and effective way of purifying body karma.
Kechara Forest Retreat is preparing for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations. This is our holy Vajra Yogini stupa which is now surrounded by beautiful lanterns organised by our students.
3 years ago
Kechara Forest Retreat is preparing for the upcoming Chinese New Year celebrations. This is our holy Vajra Yogini stupa which is now surrounded by beautiful lanterns organised by our students.
One of the most recent harvests from our Kechara Forest Retreat land. It was grown free of chemicals and pesticides, wonderful!
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One of the most recent harvests from our Kechara Forest Retreat land. It was grown free of chemicals and pesticides, wonderful!
Third picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal.
Height: 33ft (10m)
3 years ago
Third picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal. Height: 33ft (10m)
Second picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal.
Height: 33ft (10m)
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Second picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal. Height: 33ft (10m)
First picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal.
Height: 33ft (10m)
3 years ago
First picture-Standing Manjushri Statue at Chowar, Kirtipur, Nepal. Height: 33ft (10m)
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
4 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!!!
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 years ago
Beautiful pictures of the huge Buddha in Longkou Nanshan- https://bit.ly/2LsBxVb
The reason-Very interesting thought- https://bit.ly/2V7VT5r
4 years ago
The reason-Very interesting thought- https://bit.ly/2V7VT5r
NEW Bigfoot cafe in Malaysia! Food is delicious!- https://bit.ly/2VxdGau
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 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.
    4 years ago
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  • This dog thanks his hero in such a touching way. Tsem Rinpoche
    4 years 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
    4 years 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
    4 years 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
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  • 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 years 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.
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    4 years ago
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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 years ago
    My little monster cute babies Dharma and Oser. Take a look and get a cute attack for the day! Tsem Rinpoche
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    4 years 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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    4 years ago
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    4 years ago
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CHAT PICTURES

KEP 13/11/2022-caroline
2 weeks ago
KEP 13/11/2022-caroline
Look here, Smile! 1, 2, 3.... chik chak. Thank you everyone. That's our picture for the Dorje Shugden puja and see you all next Saturday @ 3pm. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta.
3 weeks ago
Look here, Smile! 1, 2, 3.... chik chak. Thank you everyone. That's our picture for the Dorje Shugden puja and see you all next Saturday @ 3pm. Kechara Penang Study Group ~by Jacinta.
This is little about me and what about you?
1 month ago
This is little about me and what about you?
Week after week, Penang members come together to do the Dorje Shugden puja - without fail. Come to get your blessings and obstacles cleared by joining us at Penang Chapel, every Saturday, 3 pm at Jalan Seang Tek, Penang.
1 month ago
Week after week, Penang members come together to do the Dorje Shugden puja - without fail. Come to get your blessings and obstacles cleared by joining us at Penang Chapel, every Saturday, 3 pm at Jalan Seang Tek, Penang.
Sumptuously decorated food offerings to Rinpoche and Buddhas, thanks to Siew Hong and KS Tang during Penang weekly DS puja on 22/10/2022 ~ by Jacinta.
1 month ago
Sumptuously decorated food offerings to Rinpoche and Buddhas, thanks to Siew Hong and KS Tang during Penang weekly DS puja on 22/10/2022 ~ by Jacinta.
Is this where Rinpoche received the thangkha of Dream Manjushri?
4 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
4 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
4 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.
4 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
4 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
4 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
4 months ago
Kechara Earth Project 17 July 2022
Kechara Earth Project 12 June 2022
5 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
6 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
6 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
6 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
6 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
6 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
6 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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.
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
7 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
8 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.
9 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.
9 months ago
Pastor is in da' house!!!! Kechara Penang Study Group @ Saturday, 3 pm. Contact William for more info ~ by Jacinta
9 months ago
Pastor is in da' house!!!! Kechara Penang Study Group @ Saturday, 3 pm. Contact William for more info ~ by Jacinta
9 months ago
10 months ago
After Dorje Shugden puja @Penang Chapel, Jalan Seang Tek, members went to a nearby vegetarian shop for gathering. #CNY2022 #HappyReunion by Jacinta.
10 months ago
After Dorje Shugden puja @Penang Chapel, Jalan Seang Tek, members went to a nearby vegetarian shop for gathering. #CNY2022 #HappyReunion by Jacinta.
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Dorje Shugden
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