Tuesday, March 24, 2009

1,000 arms, 1000 eyes... Chenrezig

Namo Ratna Trayaya…Avalokitsvara....Yes, this is the starting line to the Great Compassionate Avalokitsvara’s Dharani – the 100 syllabus recitation of the 108 names of the manifestations of the Great Bodhisattva 1,000 arms, 1000 eyes Avalokitsvara (Chenrezig).

My affinity with this Bodhisattva started when I was born. Mum said she got me adopted by the Great Avalokitesvra. In this event, I become one of the many children of Avalokitesvra. Many referred to the Bodhisattva as ‘HIM’ but I prefer to think of the Bodhisattva as ‘HER’. Her great compassion and loving kindness are her vows that created a karmic link with all sentient beings as long as they call out to her. She vowed that as long as we call out and we need help, she will manifest in whatever form to fulfill our wish. Therefore such Great Beings have no form. They can be a Dog, a bridge, a woman, a man and even a medicine.

I do not know why but I was chosen with 4 others to learn and memorize the Dharani when I first started to learn Buddhism. We were asked to recite the whole Dharani without fail. I was obedient. I was ignorant enough not to ask the purpose and the benefits and why must I do it. It is follow the crowd attitude but I did not know that along the way, this Great Bodhisattva gave me a sister. Yes, Alice my eldest sister as she is the oldest and one of the four chosen ones. Today, with my parents gone and without any relatives but my two younger siblings, Alice became my mental support.

The Great Bodhisattva protected me from harm, both human and non-human. She protected me from death. She answered so many of my prayers. She appeared in dream to comfort me at time of sadness. She sees to it that I am always with good people and good companies. She sees to it that I do not deviate from Buddha’s teaching because I pray to her to close all unfavorable paths so that I do not go astray. Because of her loving kindness and compassion, I too develop these attributes. I am still far from perfect with lots of defilements but I have made the first step. So it is great to have the Great Bodhisattva Avalokitsvara as God Mother.

As I grow older, I learn more and more about her. You may say all stories are just legends but none has such great stories to tell. Many more laymen or Buddhist practioners will tell you even more mircale stories of what this Great Bodhisattva has done for countless beings. These are not make-up stories but true happenings to the individuals or to people around them.

I have been caught up in the web of Samsara. The daily mundane dealings really eroded my precepts. I got caught up with anger. Although I continue to do good, donate and follow good courses, do my daily prayers but all these are not good enough. I suppose it is my karma and my stubbornness. I have prayed for a Guru, someone who will guide me, someone who will hold my hand and teach me step by step of how to go about the right way to pray, the right way to do rituals, the right way to connect with my personal deity BUT years after years, I am all alone. I can hardly stick to any Gurus although I met many along the way. There are many good Gurus that I venerate and respect. It is a connection but never went deeper into it.

When I thought that I may have found a Guru that I may be able to associate with, that is Lama Konchog but he passed away. I watched Lama Konchog for some time. He had a fierce looking face, he speaks no English but there is something around him that attracted me. I rejoice that I had the opportunity to know him, confide in him and accepted his assistance to link me back to my past Guru. Maybe my link in the past is not strong enough, although in his presence but I am not able to get close to him. So every time when I saw him in my mind-eye, I will do my prostration with visualization.

Recently I attended a one day retreat at Genting, Chin Swee Temple. It is the Great Compassionate Avalokitesvra's Dharani Retreat organized by a Singapore group. I learnt about this from Vicki of Green Tara. It is also the ripening of opportunity that I am able to get leaves to attend such auspicious event. The other reason is of course Shangpa Rinpoche is presiding the event.

I met Shangpa Rinpoche when I attended services at KKBC. I saw him many times, had audience with him a few times but being me, I really do not know how to ask or communicate with Rinpoche. However, I found that I can connect with him. I somehow know that I can reach out to him for assistance and I did. I thank Shangpa Rinpoche for his unfailing attention when I SMS him when my late mother was sick and was sent to hospital. I would call him and he never failed to answer the phone. I have no thoughts as to whether he is busy or he may not be in Singapore, I just called. How ignorant can a girl be and how compassionate is a Guru. I deeply appreciate the support he has given me. I never forget his kindness to me at time when I feel the most helpless and hopeless and do not know which spiritual teacher I can turn to. Shangpa Rinpoche did many prayers for my late mother. He did it for a girl who did not even appear in front of him to ask for favor but just through handphone. How rude can I be? It is at the back of my mind that I want to reconnect with Rinpoche again. I can go to KKBC to look for him, to attend his teachings or take part in the events the Center organized but I do not know why I did not move forward. Buddhism talks about the rising and falling of conditions, probably I am waiting for the rising of a condition. It did arise.

It was a one day retreat and the sitting down cross legged from 6.30am in the morning to 9.30pm at night was a true testing. We observed the Eight Precepts for one day and actually it is a layman's monk practice. If it is practiced correctly, the accumulated merits is immeasurable let alone observing the Eight Precepts with the continuous recitation of Great Compassionate Avalokitsvara's Dharani and Mantra. Although there were breaks in between, with this sitting, I realized how fragile is our body, how great is the arising of such conditions to practice and to practice under a great teacher. We managed to complete 15,000 times recitations of the Dharani and Mantra. I rejoice for all Sentient Beings.

It was a simple and yet grand retreat in it's own way. We had the closing ceremony with Incense Offerings and flying of prayers. We released birds and tortoises which is a practice for long lives and good luck. At time like this, we truly need all the blessings we can get from the Divines.


With this Dharani, I pray for the safety of all Sentient Beings. May all those who lay their eyes on this Dharani be safe from all untimely death and adversities. May all Gurus live long to spread Buddha's teachings to benefit all Sentient Beings. May my parents of past, present and future be blessed by the Buddha in following the Path and never fall into any lower realms. May all suffering beings be alleviated from wherever they are and be freed when they see or hear this Dharani. May my wishes be fulfilled and that I am always in good company. May I follow the footsteps of All the Buddha and Great Bodhisattvas for the sake of Sentient Beings.

With this note, I thank Shangpa Rinpoche for instilling back in me my faith and this Dharani for making all my broken vows good again. May Vicki and Stephen of Green Tara be blessed with many more great thoughts and abilities to organize such good activities to benefit all Sentient Beings. May all Beings be well and happy!!

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