About Shang Rinpoche

Rinpoche’s spiritual pursuit began at a very young age and has spanned many years, in which he received lineages of all four major Vajrayana Buddhist schools—Nyingma, Kagyu, Sakya, and Gelug—from numerous lineage holders and great yogis of our time in India, Tibet, Nepal and Bhutan. Rinpoche has acquired all the necessary empowerments, transmissions, and teachings to become a fully qualified Vajrayana master. Furthermore, Rinpoche is a recognized tulku (reincarnate lama), authenticated by eminent lineage holders and distinguished masters of our time.
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2014年3月23日 星期日

Reaching a Settlement With Your Mind

A person without core principles or a guiding philosophy can very easily become downtrodden. If this emotional pattern becomes habitual, it could lead to depression and leave them susceptible to inner conflict and struggle. Following that, they can develop the habit of berating and blaming themselves. In the most severe cases, this person crumbles under the weight of self-dejection and derision, a cumbersome life affecting them and all those around them.

There are basically three categories into which we can place the emotions we have throughout the day, each one the result of the environment’s influence on our mind: those that are happy, those that are unhappy, and those that are neutral. For example, sometimes in the morning we wake to rays of warm sunlight and the intermittent song of birds. We feel at peace, like we had a good night’s sleep that wasn’t interrupted by the constant buzz of cellphones and distracting chatter at the office. We feel energized and refreshed, with pleasant images floating through our head as we rush off to work. We feel happy. Then we get to the office and have to sit through endless meetings and listen to complaining customers and deal with employee relations. The whole time, our emotions are being pulled left and right, sometimes falling into a negative cycle that leaves us feeling low, again. Repeated occurrences can ignite our temper, irritability and resentment, creating even more tension amongst our personal relationships. We have seen this all before.

The last type of situation is with things that are not of any exceptional significance to us: the things and people that we deal with on a daily basis like gossip at work or exchanging words with the family, our daily routines, the news and other shows we watch on TV. The fluctuations in our emotional state under these circumstances are so insignificant that we can call them neutral. But if we manage to quiet our minds, a more sensitive person might wonder whether we really have to pass our lives bouncing within the boundaries of happiness and grief. Or if our fate is decided merely by our uncontrollable emotions.

Our mind is comprised of various emotions and desires. Any interaction with external conditions like the air, people, circumstances, affairs, forms and colours, etc., will trigger an emotional response, whether that be the experience of happiness or suffering. It is natural for for us to get emotional and become unhappy and displeased. The point is in how we coexist with our emotions, our negative thoughts and all of the things that we feel are unpleasant. This is really where we should focus our attention. When negative things happen in our life, we will instinctively start a dialogue with ourselves. What is key at this moment is to try with all speed to bring a positive force into the mind, which would be to find your mind or to, at the very moment these negative afflictions are about to arise, transform them with positive thoughts. To first settle your body and mind, you may resort to Precious Vase Breathing or the Nine Winds practice that can purify the body and the mind after which you can regulate the breath and start to examine yourself. During this examination process, you can use these questions as a guide: what are the origins of my emotions? Why have they gotten stuck in my mind? What have they really added to my mind? What role do they play? What kind of influence do they exert? You must very clearly see everything going on, watching with a compassionate, calm and warm attitude, quietly abiding in that moment. If you can do this, you will find that you have already gained 50% control over your emotions and are moving in a positive direction. The most frightening thing is when you completely ignore these emotions, like an irascible child who could care less about what you have say. The negative force resulting from this would be inevitable.

When negative emotions come looking for you again, try to practice putting yourself into a state of emptiness. In this state, you are aware of everything happening around you, but there is a part of you that is clearly and soberly watching it all without any kind of reaction. This non-responsiveness is a state of śamatha, or tranquillity. The mind here will neither advance nor retreat; it is extremely clear, beyond all mundane thought and attachment. If you take a step further and can maintain this state, you will enter into vipassanā, or absorption. If you can manage to practice this regularly, training your mind against the circumstances of your everyday life, you will gradually realize that the quality of your life has become quite enjoyable. You will be much more productive at work, your interpersonal relationships will improve, and the condition of your body and mind will reach a new pinnacle. Why are you able to do this? Because you have already reached a settlement with the negative forces in your mind.

This is from Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche


When life is filled with difficulty, face it happily.
When life is filled with hardship, meld with it resolutely.
When life brings pain into our hearts, welcome it joyfully.
When life is peaceful, enjoy it naturally.
When life is bountiful, learn how to make an offering of it.
When life is confusing and muddled, get to know it better.
When life is beautiful, don’t forget to welcome it with a song.
When life is defeating, seek encouragement for yourself. 
When life is too leisurely, make sure you map out a plan.
Once the blueprint is set, follow it through to completion.
When life is exuberant, keep it firmly under control.
When life is in the midst of sudden change, watch it calmly and with care.
When the wind roars and the waves rise high, steer carefully. 
When life’s road is smooth, rest assured and follow it to the end. 
When voices pull life in different directions, don’t stray from your path for others’ sake.
When your life is misunderstood, don’t try to justify it; face it silently.
When faced with coarse company, smile and distance yourself quietly.
When your life is misunderstood by all, assume the air of a lion and pay them no heed.
When life brings you applause, accept it lightly and graciously.
When everyone gives up on you, shrug it off and don’t carry it with you.

2014年3月20日 星期四

Advice for the World

Here is a poem by Shang Rinpoche, rendered from the original Chinese which we will add below.

Advice for the World

Life in this world is as the mayfly;
Hair full and black
fades in an instant to grey.
The Yellow River’s rolling waves
Have washed callously over
Countless people, countless things.
A century of life,
Its wealth and glory,
But wisps of smoke;
The years drowned in inane babble,
Gone in a finger’s snap.
Flowers bloom and flowers wilt;
The mighty years of the Tang,
Where are they now?
Liu and Cao, heroes of old
Have long been laid to rest;
Where are the Wu River
And Warlord Xiang now?
Many suns has the stream,
Running still across white rocks and green hills,
Watched fall behind the mountain peaks.
Seeing the black billows and yellow grime,
Cherish this fortunate life.
The affairs of this world,
All end and vanish,
Even the noble swallows that dwelt once
In the family courtyards of Wang and Xie.
Indeed, in whose home
Did they ever dwell?
So do the seasons pass,
Burning like a head aflame.
The rooster’s crow follows fast
The red setting sun;
Pay good attention to people around us.
Another year heaps
Dirt over fresh graves;
Be content with three meals
And a full stomach.
Needless are plans, arduously wrought;
Karma heeds no invitation.
Enmity squashed beats
Enmity unresolved;
Life’s bitterness brings
The sweetest of tastes.
A retreating step
Falls to the top.
Venture deep in the mountains for tea;
Drink not in degenerate company.
Stay close in those ethical and upright,
Decline quickly those without heart.
How do we become free?
Look at the fish that forgets it swims.
How do we become liberated?
Look upon the Earth’s mountains and rivers.

This is a reflection that I, Shang Longrik Gyatso, had on those preoccupied by fame and wealth, on the world turned upside down, and on those who can't distinguish between virtue and vice and only continue to create more karma.



2014年3月10日 星期一

A Fool’s Blessings

Please don't misunderstand the title: this is not intended as a reprimand. The Buddhist term for “foolishness” is ignorance. It indicates a state of mind where the truth is not properly understood, thus leading one to confusion or deviant views. Totally unaware of the condition they are in, these people are pleased with themselves, thinking they are in the right. Most people in this period of their life go about muddleheaded. Completely in the dark, they continue stroking their own egos or believe their way of life and mode of thinking to be the wisest and most successful. The Truth, however, is actually very rare and difficult to come across. Meeting with a good teacher is as rare as a blind turtle coming up for air in a turbulent and stormy sea and coincidentally poking its head through a hole in a piece of driftwood. Think about this: could a blind turtle, drifting in the ocean for a hundred years, possibly have the fortune to pass through this hollow log that too has been tossed amid the violent ocean waters? 

This is similar to the difficulty of struggling your whole life hoping to meet with a spiritual teacher who can give guidance and direction. Or trying to balance a soybean on the tip of a needle. Not everyone understands the rarity of this human life - it is the result of having upheld in previous lives the five precepts and performed the ten good deeds. If you spend it only in the pursuit of wealth and fame, get tied up in relationships with spouses, children and siblings, or fall into the wrong crowd because of a lack of exposure to good influences — these are the kinds of situations that will lead to rebirth in the three lower realms. If you don’t thoroughly study and learn from the wisdom of the sages on how to avoid falling onto the wrong path, and instead become a negative force in your own life and the lives of those around you — this is truly lamentable. Those who lack self-confidence and haven’t formed their own opinions are easily swayed by others and led down the wrong path. On top of that, long-held habits arising from greed, hatred and ignorance can take control of our mind. Before you know it, your whole life has slipped by. This is the most foolish thing that could ever happen.

A wise person should often think about the best ways to put this precious human body and spirit to use. Once you are able to purify yourself, reveal your wisdom in the effort to do what will bring benefit to yourself and others. In your daily life, regard the eight worldly winds (gain, loss, pleasure, pain, praise, blame, fame, disrepute) as magic tricks, illusions or castles in the sky, just as if you were in a dream. They manifest themselves through the various karmic connections of this and past lives. Like rainbows that are caused by the reflection and refraction of light in water droplets, they may look beautiful and majestic but are gone in a moment. All of the wealth, fame and love in the world are like mirages in the desert. Though they look real, when you try to grab hold of them, they disappear. If we use our finite life to disregard everything else and pursue these eight winds, this would be truly unwise.

Among Shakyamuni's disciples there was one with a terrible memory, labeled by others as the “Buddha's dullest disciple.” His name was Suddhipanthaka. Even Suddhipanthaka understood the concept of the precious and hard-won human life. However, he was quite slow-witted. Upon hearing a sentence he would have already forgotten the previous sentence. But due to his desire to be liberated and encounter the Dharma he approached the Buddha in his torment and asked for advice. Weeping, the monk told him about how his brother had tried to teach him a sentence. He spent three months trying to memorize it without success. In a rage his brother had hit and scolded him saying, "never have I seen such a stupid person!" and threw him out of the house, leaving him in agony. Buddha said to him, "don't be sad; your current condition is the karmic result of you having sealed up the mouths of pigs and taken many lives in your past incarnations. But because you were a monk in one such life, in this life you have met me. I will teach you one word now. Every day you just need to recite “broom, broom, broom.” This is all you need to become enlightened. Suddhipanthaka never forgot the word and was eventually able to give rise to wisdom and attain the level of Arhat. 

A human life is like a farmer sowing seeds. After they are scattered, some seeds are quickly snatched up by birds. Some fall on fertile ground and take root but if the soil is not deep enough the plant cannot find nourishment. Once the sun hits them they wither and die. Some seeds fall on barren land and die before they get the chance to sprout. The luckiest seeds fall where the soil is rich, quickly take root and grow strong. The metaphor of these seeds also represents our share of wisdom or stupidity in life. The seeds falling on wholesome land grow like those of us here who can understand the value of a precious human life and how to cherish it through benefiting oneself and others. Those seeds falling on barren ground, although they too possess a precious human life, are unable to stand up against the temptations of their environment. In the end, before they even get a chance to poke their head above the surface they have already dried out. How, then, do we choose a life of wisdom? How does one distance oneself from the obstacles of ignorance? I believe that intelligent practitioners like you already have the answer. 

From Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche

2014年3月4日 星期二

A Kind of Advice

The importance of history lies in the fact that it provides us with the opportunity to learn from praiseworthy historical figures. This is a vital clue to avoiding mixing up the thread that connects our past, present and future. As much as fortune is a matter of chance, a wise person is able to bring about outcomes with certainty. Whether you aspire to reach for the stars or lament over feelings of inadequacy and frustration towards this seemingly unfruitful journey, relying only on your "destined path" is simply not the way to live your life. 

To be able to put yourself in an invincible position, and to even eventually oversee everything from above, you should work towards developing your skills. Most importantly, you must develop the skill of transforming your mental garbage into a commodity, just like the famous Chinese merchant Lubuwei. There is only one method to earn respect in any profession — that is, to elevate yourself to a certain height and give weight to your actions and words. If you slavishly pursue a trifling profit or narrowly invest your energy in trivial matters, you will only end up with the scraps. If you can creatively and skillfully manage your worldly affairs such as work, family, money, wealth, and interpersonal relationships of all levels, then all aforementioned arenas of your life will be elevated to a form of art. Use your sixth sense to look into things that are soon to happen. Never underestimate those sudden ideas that spring up in your mind, no matter how queer they might appear, for you never know, you might be the next Isaac Newton or Thomas Edison. 

There is actually no such thing as garbage; what we call garbage is simply fertilizer that has been used in the wrong place. The key to turning a disadvantaged position into victory lies in the ability to never give up on any seemingly insignificant interpersonal relationship because all relationships count as a kind of social resource that is completely free of charge. Networking and good interpersonal relationships are crucial in determining your future performance on this stage we call life. Whether a person is resolute enough is not determined by their drive, nor by their audacity or business acumen. While all these are important, what’s more important is the ability to “understand the mind.” The top tips from those in high places which guarantee absolute victory include the following: “Stones from other hills may serve to polish the jade of this one, (other people's good quality or suggestion whereby one can remedy one's own defects),” “know how to put yourself into others’ shoes, making good use of your empathy,” and mind-reading techniques. On top of that, if you are able to spend a considerable amount of time on practicing “loving words” and “working harmoniously with others,” then you’ll not only possess the capability to hold a chief minister’s position; you might one day become the CEO, taking charge of over a hundred companies. Therefore, you ought not to invest a great amount of effort and money on learning from others’ experiences, while failing to acknowledge your own strengths. 

When you fall, remember this is just the preliminary trial for later hardships which will eventually lead you to success. So when you are encountering either mental or material difficulties, you should adopt a positive attitude and the ability to look at the bigger picture and self-deprecate oneself. This ability and attitude serve as space for breaks, just like, before arriving at your destination, you need to find a gas station to replace a flat tire and use the restroom. Always take adversities as your last chance in learning, because adversities foreshadow success. Endurance is the secret to success for all successful Japanese entrepreneurs, and there are many examples borne out of their ability to both endure and await the right opportunity. The Japanese people firmly believe in learning from the characters of the famed novel Romance of the Three Kingdom. They see characters such as Cao Cao and Sima Yi as role models. 

Do not let failure be your misfortune. I believe in this fable which says how roads did not exist in the world in the beginning. Eventually a road that led to heaven was created after having been trodden by so many people. Great achievements require an imposing style that enables you to be nonplussed by insignificant matters. Even when you are on top of the world, you are utterly unmoved by that; conversely, when the whole world is against you, you will accept it unbegrudgingly. Take note from Zhuge Liang who, having found himself under fire from all quarters, managed to maintain his inner poise while calmly playing the Guqin as if nothing was happening. He must have attained a profound level of meditative stillness in his past life to possess such ability. Sometimes it is better to allow yourself a little trouble in order to avoid paving the way for disasters in days to come. 

From Shang Longrik Gyatso