I am back to my 4 hour sleep mode again.
I guess that means all is normal and well. HA!
Today, I want to share something a little more personal with all of you.
I took Refuge with H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche on Lama Tsongkhapa Day, Dec 15th 2006. It was a day after my birthday and I felt that it was the best gift that I have ever received.
At our refuge, the Guru will carefully select and give us our refuge name. This is not just a simple process of picking any name that we like or people we fancy, and adopt it. No, in Tibetan Buddhism, when our Guru gives us our refuge name, there lies what we need to work on in our lifetime. Yes, the issues and challenges we need to face. No two refuge names would be the same.
Unless by the sheer utter bad or good luck, depending how you would look at it – you two are going through the very same challenges???
So, the Guru will take a little part of HIS own name and choose something that is truly reflective of us and what we must attain in our spiritual practice. That is why they always say that we can always find the clues in our own refuge names, if we get too lost. So, all our refuge names will have a part of our Guru’s name as well.
And my refuge name is Tenzin Tsondrue. It means, Holding the Dharma with Great Effort.
Key operative word: GREAT. In PINK NEON too.
In fact, I remember very clearly – on that very day, Rinpoche explained that I should do exactly that by practising the Six Paramitas well.
FYI - The Six Paramitas are the Six Most valuable glorious virtues or attributes in Buddhism. Now, allow me to share exactly what these great Six qualities are all about:-
2. Morality (Proper Conduct/Discipline)
4. Joyous Effort (Not just any Effort, but Diligence with happiness and devotion)
6. Wisdom of Realising Emptiness
Now, let us compare the above list to how Shirley started when she first met her Guru:-
1. Selective Generosity – only to those she likes or who are nice to her, obviously
2. Disruptive & Inconsistent Conduct – At times, there is zero conduct too!
3. Patience? What Patience? Where?
4. Joyous and Effort do not belong in the same sentence for her, but pain and effort do.
5. Chronic Attention Deficiency Syndrome
6. Can Zero Wisdom be passed off as the Wisdom of Realising Emptiness?
Oh, yes – I tried all the tricks in the book and even invented new ones to avoid doing what I must do. Hence it is not surprising that it took me so long to have any sort of progress. I actually wrote about how my spiritual path began with Rinpoche in http://www.tsemtulku.com/en/friends/my-experience-with-rinpoche/menu-id-40.html
Please, if you have the time, do give it a read. Then you would know what I am talking about here.
Then you can totally understand and even sympathize with Rinpoche when HE said that I taught HIM the meaning of Patience.
I think Rinpoche invented the words: “Monster Student” just for me, but HE didn’t want me to know that it was just really me, so HE calls everyone “Munsters”.
In any case, it really took me a very long time to come around. I was truly unwilling to face myself and I was petrified of the depth of work I needed to do in order to regain myself. It was just too overwhelming for me at that time.
Well, from the standpoint of the Sloth in me, anything would have fazed me, ok. It did not have to be rocket science. So, yes, it took Rinpoche 5 very painful and challenging years to work with me. In fact, I think Rinpoche probably mastered all the Six Paramitas all over again while working with me.
To me, the spiritual path is not about bells, vajras, chanting and pujas. It is not about giving up everything mindlessly and following a cult of submission. No.
To be frank, I cannot take pujas, chanting and praying most of all. Attention Deficit is a real obstacle in sitting still in one place and saying the same mantra, over and over again.
But I wanted and seek is the transformation of my mind.
Not because I am slightly soft in the head and is in need of cerebral upgrading works. NO.
Not because I wanted to become a nun, or have been damaged in my childhood, or have suffered some great loss that is too much to bear and nothing can ease my pain. NO.
Spiritual path, to me, is not an escape.
It is NOT something I turn to because I have nothing better to do, and nothing else to think about.
For me, a true spiritual path is where I would go to find myself. And then with proper guidance, I would bring myself to a higher plane.
In the highest sense, it is my home coming.
Yes, it will be decked up and filled with parades and balloons, like an endless party because it makes me happy that way.
For many of you who are not familiar with Tibetan Buddhism, you may not understand why the students revere their Gurus so much, and that Guru Devotion is truly a lifelong vocation of the heart and spirit.
I am going to share with you the poem my Guru wrote in Tribute to His Own Root Guru, H.H Kyabje Zong Dorje Chang in HIS personal Blog : http://blog.tsemtulku.com/tsem-tulku-rinpoche/2010/04/a-poem-to-my-teacher.html
Alone With Memories
Sadness and loneliness
are my forced friends,
Living in lands forever foreign
as I have no home.....
Sounds of my guru's damaru
evokes a time long gone,
As it plays in my head
all day long…
My guru's memory I projected
onto my daily life,
Keeps me going in a place I am
forced to call home...
Tragic am I living in a
time that has passed,
A memory that I must wake from
although I resist...
My work and burdens hasn't any end,
Yet have to trudge on, onto where?
Is there any respite from my hopes and optimism?
Or is it better to accept reality which is cynicism?
I long for my youth not for the
false hopes it promised,
But to hear the sound of my
Glorious Guru playing his divine music
on his damaru again... To be warmed by his wisdom,
blessed by his strength.....
And to feel hope again...
A hope that hangs in there,
But often slips away…again…
Written by Tsem Tulku
I have never had the pleasure and great honour of meeting H.H Zong Rinpoche, but each time I read this very poem, my heart starts to cry. And I have read this poem a few times before. Each time, it is like a fresh wound that opens up and it cuts me deeply.
It is very strange for me to feel this way and I have always wondered why.
But I am beginning to suspect that I cry because of fear.
I fear that when it is time for me to part with my Guru, I would be feeling exactly like this, if not worse! And I fear that I may never get over it, just like Rinpoche cannot get over the death of His Guru.
This is what Rinpoche wrote :-
It is the same for me. Listening to the song makes me miss HH Zong Rinpoche so much that it is painful.
I have never stopped missing Him and I never will.
One of Rinpoche’s student has a gifted musician son. And this boy made the poem into a song for Rinpoche. I could not sit through and listen to it. It was too heart wrenching.
Even as I type this, my heart is splintering in the depths because the pain is already making itself known – the loss of one’s Guru.
And I tell myself, if I truly love my Guru so much then I should work very hard and listen to what HE says and move with great urgency, because my Guru needs a lot of help.
He really does.
And you’d think that someone who has dedicated all his life to Dharma and helping others would be able to get more help in return. Sadly, it does not work that way.
Most people are not ready to be helped and are unwilling to make any changes, because that would be much too painful for them. They like being trapped in their delusions.
A lot of people cannot see the benefits of mind transformation. It has to be experienced for one to start believing.
Yet Rinpoche continues and braves onwards. He is a true pioneer in this country.
He wants to build a beautiful World Peace Center and dedicate it to upholding the harmony and understanding for all religion – like an inter-faith, inter-face.
I will talk about that in another time as there is much to talk about on that subject alone. The reason I brought it up is to show you the extent of what Rinpoche goes to in order to help, how he thinks and what moves him.
There will also be an Animal Sanctuary in this Center, because Rinpoche truly loves all life forms – especially those who are really dependent on others to care for them.
Here, allow me to share a few verses I have penned down in tribute to my Guru:-
HOMMAGE TO OUR PRECIOUS ONE
“H.E. TSEM TULKU RINPOCHE”
By Shirley Maya Tan
ROYAL BY BIRTH
PRIESTLY BY NATURE
SPIRITUAL BY HEART
WITTY HUMOUR IS PART
OF HIS SIGNATURE STYLE
ENDURED GREAT HARDSHIPS
JUST TO LEARN THE DHARMA
DETERMINED AND COMMITED
THROUGH AND THROUGH
IN UPHOLDING THE DHARMA
MEETING HIS OWN ROOT GURU
IS HIS MOST CHERISHED GIFT IN LIFE
BECOMING A GURU TO ALL
IS HIS MOST VALUABLE ROLE IN LIFE
COMPASSION REIGNS HIS MIND
WISDOM GOVERNS HIS HEART
SKILLFUL METHODS HE DISPENSES
PEACEFUL AND WRATHFUL
SO THAT ALL STUDENTS’ MIND
CAN FINALLY SEE
HE PRAYS TO ABSORB ALL MANNERS
OF OUR PAINS AND SINS
HE SPENDS COUNTLESS SLEEPLESS NIGHTS
SOLVING ALL OUR WOES
HE CARES FOR ONE AND ALL, THE SAME
FOR ABANDONMENT IS NOT HIS GAME
AND ULTIMATE HAPPINESS
BECOME HIS SOLE MISSION
LIFE AFTER LIFE
BECAUSE HE LOVES US
FOR ALL LIFETIMES.
H.E. TSEM TULKU RINPOCHE, advocator of inter-religion and inter-center harmony, a living Prince of Dharma.
I already know what Rinpoche will say to me – Don’t write me long letters and pay tribute to me in poems. Do it in actions and deeds that will make you a better person, and in turn, you can benefit others.
Yup, Rinpoche would most likely say that to me.
That is Rinpoche for you – always thinking of ways to liberate everyone from suffering so that they can be truly free and happy.
In essence, the day we meet our Guru is a day closer we are to leaving our Guru, because the Guru’s job is to ‘wake us up’ and his aim is to accomplish that as soon as you can allow him to do so. And when you are ‘fully awake’, then his job is done.
Now, here is my DAY NINETEEN :-
Weight: 54 kg (Back to square one)
No. Of Prostrations: 30
Daily Sadhanas: Check and Done with Death Meditation and Dzambala Mantra.
Physical Exercise: Back into full swing on 9th April 2010.
Daily Reflection from "IF NOT NOW, WHEN?" – Here we go. I close my eyes and I picked out page 107.
“A wish-granting jewel can confer on you material gains but a negative person or a person who hurts you can confer on you Enlightenment because they give you the greatest opportunity to practise patience, compassion and love. They are the greatest test to see if you have compassion and love.
Compassion is realising that others want the same thing as we do. But we also realise that they are more and each of us are only one, so working for the majority is correct.”
Personal Thoughts and Feelings:
This is why Rinpoche does what he does – it is always about the majority. He is here for the majority. Not for himself.
Talk is cheap and words are forgettable.
Even promises and vows can be broken like it is just another appointment with our dentist.
If we truly care for peace, harmony and happiness for ourselves and those around us, our actions will speak for us clearly.
Otherwise, save your sweet nothings for some new audience, and someone who is naive enough to believe.
When we do not want to even put any effort in our own transformation, then please just be honest enough to admit it to yourself and to the world that “you are not interested in transformation but only self-preservation. So, please stop saying that you care, because you clearly don’t understand what it means to truly care.”
No sacrifices, no victories.
No determination, no success.
No honour, no glory.
It’s as simple as that.
Those who know better will not buy into our crap and B.S anymore.
If they do, then we should be most careful and wary.
I guess, the real test lies in seeing how I will dedicate myself from here on.
Will you join me?