Today is the first day of the New Year: 2010
I finally finished the book: "There Is No Way But Up", written by David Lai.
This has been a real personal labour of trials and tribulation for David. He is a fellow Dharma student of H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche. In some way, this was his way of coming to terms with himself.
I was really looking forward to reading this book eversince David has submitted it to the publisher. The completion was his own piece of liberation.
This book kept me up until 3am and I was quite frustrated that I could not finish it and had to really go to sleep. I had to actually force myself to go to bed because I was not sleepy at all and wanted to continue reading. I could not wait to flip to the next page.
I only managed to finish it on 30th Dec night.
James Bryce once said, "The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it."
And this is what I carried away from David's book -
I have gained a better understanding of David as a person, as a friend, and especially as a fellow spiritual student. Or better yet, as a close student of Rinpoche.
Also, his own personal experiences in Kechara and with Rinpoche shed a great deal of light into what I did not really know or understand. Especially about how Kechara came into being and the details of Rinpoche's life/childhood.
What began as an easy, light reading became something much more profound in a rather delightful way.
I am pretty sure that different people will carry different things from this book, especially someone who has no idea about David, or Rinpoche, Kechara or Buddhism.
But for me, it was truly better than reading the TWILIGHT SERIES or Harry Potter.
I'll explain WHY.
For one, both Twilight and Harry are fictional works designed to entertain or distract us.
David's book is a biography and he has chosen to open up in order to share with us all, young or old, how one can change one's life for the better, just by changing the attitude of one's mind.
The engaging bits and entertaining bits just happened to be part of his writing skill, or part of his own journey so far.
In truth, his book is yet another new way for me to see 'transformation' in action and understand Dharma through another person's eyes/mind and view our Guru through another perspective.
I would not say that I know David that well, nor did we have a chance to get to know each other better eventhough we are both students of the same Guru. So, it is indeed an eye-opening experience to be able to read how our Guru employed different methods for him, in order for David to truly blossom. And of course, David had to be a willing student in the first place. As they say, the Guru only appears when the student is ready and willing to learn.
As David's personal journey unfolded, I could see mine being mirrored.
Soon, his laziness became mine and his restlessness and indecisiveness also became all too familiar.
I could not help but think of how many people have come into Kechara and left. How each of them have started and how some of them may have appeared as well. Like David, I have always thought that everyone else was much more devoted than me, and much much closer to Rinpoche than me.
In short, everyone was just better than me in every way. Especially within the realms of our Kechara and in their spiritual practice.
Yet, the most important thing will always be - those who remained, despite everything and inspite of themselves.
Some may have started so well, but they may eventually fade away and leave. Some may have begun quite late in their life or with seemingly a lot of fuss and obstacles, but they may just transform quite dramatically. And some may be very new but they change in the most amazing way, very quickly.
So, we may never know who is really ready and commited until they are thoroughly 'tested'. Hence, the words, "ready and willing" are not mere adjectives. They are the very necessary criterias for one to possess in order for one's learning and journey to begin.
Ultimately, it is those who STAYED with Rinpoche, and continue to commit themselves in Kechara are the very ones WHO will benefit from everything that Rinpoche has taught and given us all. And they, in turn, will benefit others and many more.
THIS IS THE REAL BEAUTY in this CIRCLE OF LIFE.
And all these are already taking place and happening before my very eyes. It is not only inspiring but it becomes the very proof that we need to see, feel, taste and touch for ourselves - to bear witness so that we will also persevere and not give up so easily.
Human beings need real hard evidence before they can surrender their faith, belief and trust into someone or something. So, our Guru employs different methods in order to make us see, wake us up and open up our mind.
For instance, our Guru already knows full well the answers to all our riddles and questions. Well, simply because our Guru has seen and counselled so many different people of various walks of life. Our Guru does not need to be clairvoyant to tell us what our results will be when we are so conditioned and habituated. If we do not change our ways, and our whole thinking process - how can there be different results in the first place? Hence, there is a repeated pattern. It is not black magic, or rocket science. It is pure logic.
And this is something our Guru has stressed over time and time again.
We are, undoubtedly, creatures of comfort and habits. This is why a set of patterns are formed in our lives.
Yet we find it hard to accept what our Guru tells us because the truth hurts and slits like a paper cut - not fatal but still stings.
So, we sometimes go against our Guru's advice and we requests that our Guru performs DIVINATION for us so that we can become more convinced. In actual fact, the words of Guru and the Divination results will not differ in the slightest bit.
THEY WILL BE THE SAME BECAUSE THEY ARE THE SAME. Please reflect upon this.
For these reasons and more, I do value David's book immensely. It deepens my understanding and it clarifies further.
And I will also look forward to reading Jamie Khoo's book, "CALL ME PARIS" with same enthusiasm and passion. And I already know that I will treasure it just as much.
BECAUSE - they are all chapters of the same spiritual story. The ones we ourselves will embark or have embarked upon. They are no different than the Kechara Paradise outlets - masking the 'spiritual temple' in a modern retail shop's outfit. These are some of Rinpoche's VISION to make Dharma available and accessible to more people, so that more people can benefit from it. It is the teachings that will truly help people in the ultimate sense.
Similarly, these books become, in a way, modern day "gospels" of the Dharma in order to show us what a spiritual path looks like and what it really means.
In the end, the real reward, as in the true gift of our lives, lies in us remaining in our own spiritual path because the 'spiritual success' becomes ours when we attained it. The progress becomes ours and no one can ever take it away from us. ONLY then can we make that great leap from just being 'beneficiaries' to 'benefactors' for others.
A religion by any other name or label is immaterial. What's the best religion for you is simply what enriches you and what helps you to become a better person. If that religion can do all that for you, then it is definitely the best religion for you. And this is how we all become better people and attain greater spiritual realizations in the end. This is what our Guru tells us so very often. Our Guru is not out to exclude anyone or convert everyone - but merely just guiding each person to blossom into their very best potential.
The deepest realisation I have gathered from David's book lies in finally understanding how a Tulku manifests life after life just to benefit all sentient beings. And I do say this with much reverence.
In my daily battles or struggles with my own spiritual journey, I have complained incessantly about how hard it was or is, how tiring and draining and challenging it was and is, all the things you have probably heard of many times over, but to read about Rinpoche's own pursuit just to learn the Dharma and how he venerates his own Gurus was mind-blowing.
There is no doubt in my mind that Rinpoche uses his entire Body, Speech and Mind to teach us all and send us crucial lessons. Rinpoche has had to endure such tremendous difficulties from his childhood alone to his existing life in Malaysia just to learn and practice the Dharma. Rinpoche's own journey and personal challenges make ours look like child's play. And yet I have so much to complain, huff, puff and discern against or excuse myself from. I was truly astounded by how much Rinpoche has gone through in this lifetime alone and yet has remained ever faithful and so deeply rooted in his commitment to Dharma and his Gurus.
There is simply no comparison.
I am very grateful that people like David and Jamie did not give up, and they both strive to stay. Because in their own progress and results, they become a real source of teaching, motivation and inspiration to the rest of us.
This applies to everyone else who persevere in their own spiritual journey, because they in turn become teachers, great masters and ultimately, the true Dharma heroes of our times. Be it in Islam, Christianity, Hinduism and so forth.
So, I truly look forward to seeing many more Kechara heroes and heroines arise in due time, and I am confident that there will be many more. Each presenting and sharing Dharma through their own unique way and in their own signature style. No different than the 84,000 different ways that all the Buddhas have taught since beginningless time. And each will continue to appeal and attract their own audience and 'fan-base'.
Even if their writing styles may differ, their dressing and hairstyles may contrast and even if the way they communicate may seem like polar axis of one another, BUT we are all united in one common cause and groomed by one great Guru.
No one is better or greater or any less than the other. There is really no need to compare and nothing to compete for. We are all the different sides of the same story, and we wear the personas of these very "necessary differences" in order to manage these degenerate times. They are tools we use to unite and harmonize, NOT divide and demonize.
This is living Dharma as it has always been and always will be.
I feel very much blessed to have this precious opportunity to be a witness and student of it all. I am very grateful for Kechara's existence and everyone in it. After reading David's book, I made a vow to do even more and work even harder. No more whining and whinging. I will complete what I must do. I must honour all my promises and vows to my Guru.
Although I understand and accept that I can never wipe my slate clean and begin each new year with zero karmic debt, I can definitely work much more devotedly to ensure I do not incur more wrongs and hurt others. I can give myself the chance to get it right, with each moment and each minute until it becomes my completely new natural reflect. Hopefully at some point, the rights will outweigh the wrongs and then I can finally say with humility that I've fully redeemed myself.
This is a great way to start every new year.
This year of 2010 I start with two great new books: "There is no way but Up by David Lai" and "Call me Paris by Jamie Khoo" - how very, very auspicious indeed.