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9月28日 星期日

Unshakeable in the Midst of Adversity From Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche

Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche

We need to understand that the essence of compassion - benefitting self and others, attaining liberation for self and others - is one and the same. A person unable to cherish and care for themselves doesn’t realize the precious opportunity of a human life, and because of this they constantly harm themselves, either consciously or unconsciously. Examples are smoking, boozing, eating irregular meals, leading a haphazard lifestyle, taking on more than one can handle physically or mentally, doing work beyond one’s capacity, engaging out of desperation in acts that fill themselves and their families with worry and fear. Still others back themselves into a tight corner, able neither to advance nor retreat, making others extremely uncomfortable and only in the very end feeling a sense of having wronged someone. Life in hindsight is passed in days imbued with a perpetual sense of remorse. Some obsessively chase perfection, actually quite a bizarre attachment because it is in itself flawed. Yet so many people demand from themselves and others such unequivocal perfection in their pursuit of self-satisfaction that it verges on perversion. Still others believe themselves to be so inadequate that they are terrified of being around or interacting with others. When you make eye contact with such people, you can feel their insecurity and uncertainty as their eyes dart back and forth. It is nearly impossible to get this kind of person to commit to or promise something. Some people let misguided kindness trap them in relationships that should have ended long ago, but instead they stay, applying incredibly confused and tenuous methods to a situation with no future and ending up buried under a mountain of pressure.

In reality, the majority of people cannot courageously face the suffering that afflicts them. Some hide behind religion to evade their pain and difficulties, hoping to find consolation and serenity. Little do they realize that their shelter does nothing to address the root cause. Even if they bury themselves in the folds of the Buddha’s robes, in the end they will still have to walk cowering into the shadows of their mind.

Whatever you do, don’t go diving into religion spurred by your frailty and fear, because without faith coming from the right motives, you will only suffer all the more. The worse of all human habits are a lack of confidence and perseverance. Human beings are classified as primates and humans as such came into existence about 3.5 billion years ago, based on the earliest physical records. In the struggle for survival against the odds of natural forces, about 3 million years ago humans naturally developed weapons like axes, ground to sharp points and edges with stone tools. These were used for hunting animals and cutting tasks in daily life. These were also the earliest tools used in Africa, about 500,000 years ago. Hundreds of thousands of years ago, humans were already forming groups and honing their skills in social. They started to understand the importance of an organized society. As mentioned above, humans are classified as primates, who are the most advanced animals and all have social instincts. The most unique trait is their physiological wiring for social classes/ranks, which shows that humans have the capacity to strengthen their self-will. No one needs to worry, then, that they would not be able to handle great pressure. Modern people are easily thwarted because their ability to resist pressure from adversity and their surroundings is far too low and they don’t give themselves more chances or room to maneuver. Only one or two failures is enough for them to lose heart. But out of people’s innate instincts, the greatest is the ability to integrate and become interdependent. It is therefore impossible for us to leave behind societal constructs. This being the case, next time you encounter frustration, why not temporarily put down your self-clinging and meaningless attachments and listen to the voice and intuition from the depths of your being?

In my experience, because most people are used to running away from their problems and, combined with their existing delusions and attachments, their only choice is to pile more fears upon more anxieties upon more troubles. The greatest tragedy in all this is what I mentioned in the beginning: not knowing how to put a stop to the harm we do to ourselves and so constantly letting negative afflictions and emotions occupy our minds. We squeeze our clarity into a blurred mess; this is the tragedy of humankind. Nature is not capable of hurting us, unless the heavens and the earth suddenly collapsed in on each other or our own karma from previous lives ripened to bring us disaster. Beyond that, no external forces can harm us; the only culprit left is ourselves. Let us learn from the author Wilson and his indomitable spirit. He completely forgot about physical pain for his life’s ideals. He even ruptured an artery from exhaustion and would often vomit blood. He didn’t tell anyone and instead kept dedicating himself to the education of others. He once said something that deeply moved me, “If one morning you discover me dead, don’t panic, because someone who doesn’t fear death lives all the more freely and beautifully.” Although he is not known everywhere, his life story has become a spiritual model for people today. So I want to tell all those who keep hurting themselves: the time has come to bravely pull yourself up by the bootstraps.

From Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche

The Noble Path Starts from the Trailhead

Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche

Shakyamuni Buddha compassionately accepted an offering of milk curds from a shepherd girl in order to help her gather merit. As well, he did not forego his bodhicitta when his followers left him during his ascetic practice in the woods, but made sharing the fruits of his attainment with the five of them his first priority after reaching Buddhahood. This imparting of wisdom was the first he would give as Buddha, known as the First Sermon in the Time of the Arhat, or as the First Turning of the Wheel of Dharma. The teaching was given for voice-hearers (shravakas) and solitary-realizers (pratyekabuddhas) on how to attain arhatship, specifically delving into the Five Aggregates, Twelve Sense Bases, Eighteen Compositional Elements of Cognition, Four Noble Truths, Noble Eightfold Path, Twelve Links of Dependent Origination and 37 Factors of Enlightenment. These would later be compiled into the Four Āgama Sutras.

Our modern pace of life is so rapid and technology changes so fast that our minds are unable to follow a practical, step-by-step approach. In mundane affairs, most people strive for speed and efficiency, which has led many to mistakenly believe that in seeking the Buddhadharma, there must also be a supreme practice for instantaneous enlightenment. In light of this, I often advise today’s students that they should not adhere to this belief in what is frankly impossible. If there were such a thing as instantaneous enlightenment, the historical Buddha Shakyamuni would have never needed to leave his palace in the middle of the night, visit all the greatest teachers of his time, and then still go through long years of toil. He could have simply sent a decree far and wide, offering a mountain of gold pieces and a personal invitation to anyone who could expediently bring him to enlightenment. Why, then, did he need to practice and realize the truth for himself? This is factual proof that correct practice must follow a prescribed sequence and be done according to the path laid out in the Buddhadharma.

I often get asked how newcomers to Buddhism should observe their thoughts throughout daily life. I usually give them some suggestions, among which are four methods taught by the historical Buddha. I find these approaches useful for today’s practitioners. The four methods refer to the Four Right Exertions (on the Noble Eightfold Path), describing how to illuminate and catch our thoughts before they start veering in harmful or unwholesome directions. This is encapsulated in the first tenet, “(a renunciate generates desire, endeavors, activates persistence, upholds & exerts his intent) for the sake of the non-rising of unwholesome, unskillful qualities that have not yet arisen.”

If you are not able to control your mind and let some unwholesome thoughts come in, you have to prevent yourself from following them. This is the second tenet, “...for the sake of the relinquishment of unwholesome, unskillful qualities that have arisen.” It is natural for both unwholesome and wholesome, good and bad to exist and be on two extremes of the spectrum. Before we've honed the skill using what we have learned in Buddhism to guide these thoughts through a transformation, it is only normal that they come to us in both wholesome and unwholesome forms. 

Once we can clearly distinguish wholesome thoughts from unwholesome ones, we should endeavour to give rise to the positive thoughts, as illustrated in the third tenet, "...for the sake of the arising of wholesome, skillful qualities that have not yet arisen." Having developed skill in cultivating wholesome thoughts, we have to build this momentum until the occasional good thought becomes a torrent of unceasing good thoughts that follow without our need to direct the mind towards such effort. By so doing, we would have demonstrated a firm grasp of the Buddha's teachings on the 4 Right Exertions. Continuous diligence in perfecting the 4 Right Exertions will ensure that our efforts become second-nature. At such time we would naturally demand and urge ourselves to allow wholesome thoughts already there to keep going, whilst always digging to release more that haven’t arisen yet. In the same way, someone who had already attained the first level of bodhisattvahood would be continually striving and preparing to jump to the second level. This is the same exertion a Chan (Zen) practitioner would make in progressing in their meditative stillness from the kāma-dhātu-samādhi to rūpa-dhātu-samādhi. We have to constantly push ourselves to keep ascending higher from whatever wisdom we have already attained, no different from the Arhat starting as a stream-enterer would reach Nirvana and eventually Buddhahood. 

Both Hinayana and Mahayana bodhisattvas follow the teachings of the Buddha and practice uninterruptedly and persistently, shaking off torpor and restlessness. In order to reach full attainment, one of Buddha's famous disciples, the Venerable Shouluona, remained in sitting meditation at night throughout Vassa (3-month annual retreat during the summer rains), during which he did not give rise to a single delusive thought. The Venerable Foshatian persisted unceasingly in his practice for 25 years before he attained full enlightenment. From these two examples, we can infer that, just as Rome is not built in a day, spiritual cultivation cannot be accomplished overnight. If I may offer a bit of advice to those who are new to Buddhism — spiritual practice is different from developing a worldly skill. It is determined by the combination of one’s capacity for practice, level of wisdom and merit accumulated in the past.

From Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche

2014年9月18日 星期四

The One Thing Not to Forget While Panicking

Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche

The most important Dharma center for a practitioner is their external situation. All appearances are merely superb opportunities to practice. Whether the circumstances are static or dynamic, in rapid change or as stable as the unmoving earth, everything is just circumstances outside the mind, which should never influence us. We should face the six dusts with all of our senses while not allowing the mind to be disturbed. Through practice you can reach a state of no distinction between body, mind, the internal, and the external. All great achievers of the past took full advantage of every chance to practice. The year that Master Xuan Zang went to Nalanda University in India to study Dharma he ran into many difficulties. When he was in Sakala he encountered fifty or sixty robbers who stole everything from him and his traveling companions. Even though these robbers were extremely fierce and frightening, Master Xuan Zang was tranquil and unperturbed, and calmly converted them to Buddhism. Not only did the bandits spare their lives and return all their belongings, they even took refuge in the Three Jewels and took the five precepts.

From this story I can’t help but remember how Master Empty Cloud, when he was just over sixty, made a pilgrimage to the temple on Mount Wutai. When coming off the mountain, he ran into some soldiers from the Eight-Nation Alliance in the turmoil of war, one of which was a foreigner who rudely raised his gun to Master Empty Cloud. Upon seeing Empty Cloud totally unperturbed in the face of death, the soldier’s curiosity was peaked and he asked, “Could it be that you’re not afraid of death?!” The old monk replied, “If I’m meant to die at your hands then this is my karmic destiny, so go ahead.” Upon seeing the old monk so calm and unafraid, this foreign soldier was shocked, and let him go. When the Second Buddha, the Lotus Born, was building the Samye Temple, many supernatural beings manifested to disrupt the process. Anything that was constructed during the day would be destroyed at night. However, the Lotus Born was not intimidated at all, and instead used compassion and meditative stillness to subdue these supernatural beings. In the end these beings pledged to forever follow the Lotus Born and henceforth to act as Dharma Protectors of the Vajrayana, helping all practitioners to eliminate their obstacles until reaching liberation.

Usually our internal states are all-too-easily influenced by external circumstances, like ripples in a pool of water. Unable to put this ebb and flow in check and lacking in meditative stillness, people immediately get swept away by external situations. Those with a little bit more stillness also need to utilize mantras, shamatha and vipassana (pacification and insight meditation respectively), and oral tips to keep the mind in check. Very few people have strong enough meditative stillness to be able to deal with things as they come and allow them to leave no traces behind when they go. There are many ways to train the mind but beginning students can practice the skill of “controlling the situation, and not letting the situation control you” or “let the person control the situation, don’t let the situation control you”. Practice these until very familiar, when you're proficient you will find a gradual reduction in your mental afflictions and delusive thoughts. You will be in possession of a broader, clearer, and more relaxed mind. You may even be able to calmly transform any mental confusion. So we need to take full advantage of everything that happens in our daily lives. This way we can practice taking care of our minds as well as our meditative stillness. In the end the mind will meld with the external situations.

From Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche

Newsletter Issue 003

2014年9月7日 星期日

New October Workshop !!

Yoga Cirq- Qigong, meditation and the art of tea
In this workshop we will practice, Arm Swinging, Meditation and give an introduction to the Chinese art of tea.
Time: October 16 18:30-20:30
Address:  1/19 Meyers Pl, Melbourne VIC 3000, Australia
Cost: $15
Williamston Yoga and Meditation- Qigong and meditation
In this workshop we will practice The Great Breath Regulator, Crystal Ball Visualisation Relaxation Meditation and give an introduction to the Chinese art of tea.
Time:  October 17 18:30-20:30
Address: 109 Douglas Parade, Williamstown
Cost: $15
October 18 10:30-11:45
Edinburgh Gardens (meet at the Balls club at 10:15) – Qigong in the park
In this workshop we will practice Arm Swinging and the Eight Meridians Practice

The workshop will be followed by lunch at a veggie friendly restaurant. If you would like to join us please RSVP, so we can reserve seats.
Workshop cost: contributions welcome
October 19
Stay updated via FB for further info on our Sunday morning workshop soon. We are still finalizing the details.
To register Link coming soon !

2014年9月3日 星期三

Self-reflection is the Source of Liberation

Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche

When disaster strikes, the immediate reaction of most people is to find something or someone to blame or even go so far as to demand an answer from the buddhas and bodhisattvas as to why they are so unfortunate. Why me and not others? In such circumstances, I bet anyone would experience these same negative emotions. Negative karma can be traced back to the most remote corners of our thoughts. It turns into a dark force that incites constant anxiety and emotional turmoil, bringing about all kinds of unintended consequences contrary to our wishes. Anyone familiar with the law of cause and effect knows that once our karmic fruits have ripened, there is no escape from the consequent adversities and hardships. You could very well be endowed with supernatural powers, or could run deep into the mountains and ancient forests, or hide in secret caves and corners, but to no avail; once your accrued negative karma unfolds, there is no safe house to be found however much you try to escape or resist.

Even the buddhas and bodhisattvas themselves are unable to circumvent the law of cause and effect. Our mind is the only force which might bring about positive transformation. We must never allow ourselves to harm any life with our body or behavior, for the sake of such things as having an abortion or directly taking lives to appease our appetite. When it is necessary to speak, we must take care to prevent any chance for coarse or vulgar language spoken by ourselves or others; do not propagate rumours, and never engage in untrue or meaningless speech. Try our best to avoid people or situations that will agitate us. Never use substances such as alcohol to numb ourselves to the anxious mess that is our mind. In our daily life, we must use positive thinking to transform our own mind, resume the virtuous endeavors of generosity, incurring positive karma and practice Dharma according to the Buddha’s words. Moreover, we should treat everyone around us, colleagues and family, with the same respect and love we have for our parents. Never find faults in external circumstances or others, but rather reflect on our state of mind. We must not advertise the misconduct of others; instead, we must expose our own flaws and errors in broad daylight. We should always be examining ourselves, like looking into a mirror without concealing ourselves.

Diligence is a virtue that is conducive to attaining liberation. On the other hand, an indolent mind is like a corpse exposed under the sun for all to see. A wise person is in a state of constant self-reflection for diligence is the key in practicing meditative absorption, just as the opportunity for liberation can only be found through endurance. Endless desires and interminable hatred are truly damaging to the mind, and over a prolonged period, will fill it with a murky gloom. Joy is derived from making others happy; upkeeping correct mindfulness at all times is the best self-protection. Humility ensures our life is never tainted by shame. Never slander or harm others in any way. If only we could control our mind like a driver at the steering wheel, then it would be nearly impossible to incur negative karma. There are countless methods in practicing and observing the mind, but they all fall under the categories of body, speech and mind. If anyone can take great care in looking after their body, speech and mind like their beloved only son, liberation is not unattainable after all. 

From Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche

The Potential of the Mind

Shang Longrik Gyatso Rinpoche

Uneasiness, depression, and anxiety appear to be the common ailments of modern man. People are often easily provoked and become red-faced with agitation. Others become frustrated and storm off the moment they are admonished by their department head. Some, due to inexplicable mood swings or an offhand remark from another, will set in motion some fatal disaster. Often, spouses and family members become estranged over some harsh words exchanged. Actually, if we look carefully, we will realize that all around, people have become increasingly unstable and intolerant to stress. When you see old friends that you have been out of touch with, you find them full of discontent and ceaseless complaining and even cursing the world. The elegant and gentle manner of days gone by has all but completely disappeared. These people are actually deserve our sympathy because they have, to different extent, depressive inclinations. Everyone knows anxiety or depression is a psychological disorder, and it is uncertain when it might flare up. When the illness becomes more serious it can be devastating for everyone around. Statistics show a rising trend in the mortality rate of depression. This is the modern plague, the Black Death of our times and it can't be taken lightly.

The cause of mental exhaustion can be traced back to our attachments and desires. Not only ordinary people relate to this problem, many great spiritual masters and practitioners invest their lives and their time in transforming greed and attachments. The great Vajrayana master Longchenpa spent a great many years in retreat completely exposed to the scorching sun and torrential rains, not even taking shelter in a cave. He practiced in a place where he could not stand up straight and there was barely room for him to turn around. This kind of ascetic practice was done entirely for the purpose of transformation. His only possession was a burlap sack that he wore during the day and, at night, it turned into his bed, and then during meditation practice it was his cushion. The interesting thing about the place where he would practice was the variety of prickly trees and grasses that would prick him all over, making of him a mass of bleeding wounds. At one point he had thought about cutting these down but it occurred to him that, while he hadn’t yet attained enlightenment, did he really have the time to waste on such things? Then he immediately dispelled the thought and persisted in his practice with even greater determination, eventually leading to his enlightenment.

The buddha-nature of practitioners and ordinary people is identical. The only difference is that practitioners are able to face their problems. Observing their afflictions incites their determination in attaining buddhahood, and so this aspiration is not an inborn quality. It only requires that a person to be willing to face their afflictions, manage and let go of them in order to reconnect with their own self-nature. For people nowadays, enlightenment might be a far-fetched notion but they should at least be able to transform their afflictions and frustrations. Please bear in mind that, when afflictions have not yet arisen, worry and fear are useless; and when something bad has actually happened, worry and fear will in no way ease the sorrow. No one can stop the hands of the clock. But if we are willing, we can always buy new and different clocks, wind them up and start afresh - wouldn’t you say?