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