The Guest House by Rumi

This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.

A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
as an unexpected visitor.

Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still, treat each guest honourably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.

The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.

Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.

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Praise to Manjushri – Gang gi lo drö

Praise to Manjushri – Gang gi lo drö

It is believed anyone, who recites this prayer daily with a completely pure motivation will gradually purify the obscurations and will gain immeasurable qualities in developing one’s studies and confidence.  This is the prayer all students in school’s in Bhutan recite every morning before the start of school and know it by heart.

This prayer is so extraordinarily precious that anyone reciting is believed to be rewarded with immeasurable wisdom and knowledge from the body, speech, and mind of the great noble Manjushri. It is said 500 Panditas (learned masters) from the University of Nalanda in India were asked to compose a prayer in praise of noble Manjushri. They were also challenged to compose on their own in isolation to avoid conferring and when they eventually met all their composition were identical except for one which became the dedication prayer to the consort of Manjushri, Lhamo Yangchenma (Saraswati).

In Tibetan…

La ma dang gön po jé tsün jam päi yang la chak tsäl lo
Gang gi lo drö drip nyi trin drel nyi tar nam dak rap sel wä
Ji nyé dön kün ji zhin zik chir nyi kyi tuk kar lek bam dzin
Gang dak si pä tsön rar ma rik mün tom duk ngel gyi zir wä
Dro tsok kün la bu chik tar tsé yän lak druk chü yang dän sung
Druk tar cher drok nyön mong nyi long lä kyi chak drok dröl dzä ching
Ma rik mün sel duk ngäl nyu gu ji nyé chö dzé rel dri nam
Dö nä dak ching sa chü tar sön yön tän lhün dzok gyel sä tu bö ku
Chu trak chu dang chu nyi gyän trä dak lö mün sel jam päi yang la dü

OM A RA PA TSA NA DHI

Tsé dän khyö kyi khyen rap ö zer gyi
Dak lö ti muk mün pa rap säl nä
Ka dang tän chö zhung luk tok pa yi
Lo drö pop päi nang wa tsäl du söl

In English…

Homage to my guru and protector, Manjushri!

You, whose intelligence shines forth as the sun, unclouded by delusions or traces of ignorance,
Who hold to your heart a scriptural text symbolic of seeing all things as they are,
Who teaches in sixty ways, with the loving compassion of a mother for her only son,
To all creatures caught in the prison of samsara,
Confused in the darkness of their ignorance, overwhelmed by their suffering.

You, whose dragon-thunder–like proclamation of Dharma arouses us from the stupor of our delusions
And frees us from the iron chains of our karma,
Who wields the sword of wisdom hewing down suffering wherever its sprouts appear,
Clearing away the darkness of all ignorance;
You, whose princely body is adorned with the one hundred and twelve marks of a Buddha,
Who has completed the stages achieving the highest perfections of a bodhisattva,
Who has been pure from the beginning,
To you, oh Manjushri, I bow.

OM A RA PA TSA NA DHI

With the brilliance of your wisdom, O compassionate one,
Illuminate the darkness enclosing my mind,
Enlighten my intelligence and wisdom
So that I may gain insight into the Buddha’s words and the texts that explain them.

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Happy Blessed Rainy Day

Blessed Rainy Day is celebrated as one of the religious holidays in Bhutan which also marks the end of the rainy season and the beginning of harvest time. This year it is on the 23rd of September. On this day of all unlike any other days, we actually pray for the rain which is considered to bring the elixir to sanctify and wash out all defilement, bad deeds and anything negative we have accumulated during the year. We get up early in the morning to wash our body from the water collected outside overnight. This water would have been prepared with a concoction of various mixtures of flowers, fresh or dried blessed by the monks usually.

Families in their fine Bhutanese attires traditionally gather for a meal of soup prepared overnight and salty butter tea for breakfast. This culture is still being followed in my family in Bhutan and long may it continue. The day is full of fun with activities such as archery games, deygo which is throwing two flat stones to hit the jack like french boules game, Khurus which is essentially two darts being thrown at the target over 20 meters distance and there are plenty of other games. Some of the family members would visit temples to offer butter lamps and prayers for good seasons for the following year.

Whilst this is a culture to be admired by many and to be celebrated by all Bhutanese it is also a day of utter sadness. Bhutan is known for being the Buddhist country where caring, loving kindness, compassion etc are the aspired qualities which every Bhutanese endeavor to practice in their everyday lives yet many somehow become immune to these qualities during festive seasons. Cruelty, unkindness, uncaring etc are frowned upon let alone killing of any sentient beings which are regarded as the ultimate sins along with eating any kind of meat. Sadly building up to any big occasions such as the blessed rainy day, in this case, people cannot get enough meat and even fight over few cuts of meat in the marketplace like vultures scavenging over the corpse of a dead animal.

On this day many will rejoice and celebrate their good fortune whatever that may be by eating, drinking, dancing, playing games etc all day long. During this time there will be disagreement, fights, gossips etc which are all not really Buddhist in nature and I guess their excuse will be to blame on alcohol and so on. Such behaviors of few will tear family and villages apart which are not at all uncommon.

As a child growing up you follow your elders and do what they do which all seem normal at the time. Now I feel somewhat confused with our moral and cultural attitudes to such barbaric behavior particularly in a country following Buddhism. Anyway, when all said and done we will have forgotten the wrongs and will promise to do the right thing next time. When the next time arrives we will be back to our usual same old ways and nothing will have changed despite our pledges to reform.

That being said I wish everyone to enjoy the blessed rainy day but display bit of decorum whilst at the same time enjoying the occasion and remember our infinite capacity of Buddha nature to demonstrate compassion.

Tashi Delek!

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Prayers for all affected by the natural disaster

It is so so sad for all those affected by the recent natural disasters of hurricanes, flooding, earthquakes around the world bringing untold sufferings. We are so helpless and unable to do anything apart from some gestures of donations to a disaster relief fund.

What we can do though is offer our sincere prayers for everyone affected around the world. Simply recite this short mantras or prayers to Phag Pa Sai Nging Po (Kshitigarbha) to pacify the harm caused by the natural disasters.

OM SUMBHA NI SUMBHA
HARA TSARA
MAHAA PAASHA MARAUTAA
AMOGHA VAJRASATTVA SWAAHAA

In Sanskrit he is known as Kshitigarbha. He is a Bodhisattva and is one of the eight heart sons of the Buddha Shakyamuni. In Tibetan, he is known as Phag Pa Sai Nging Po which is the essence of the Earth.

He is particularly associated with bringing help and comfort to those in the underworld realm of hell beings. He is as important as notable figures such as Manjushri (Jambay Yang) the lord of knowledge and wisdom, and Avalokiteshvara (Chenrig Zig) the lord of boundless compassion, which are prominent figures in the various Mahayana Sutras of Buddhism.

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The Four Immeasurable Thoughts     

The Four Immeasurable Thoughts     

SEM CHEN TAM CHAY DE WA DANG
DE WAY GYU DANG DEN PAR GYUR CHIG
SEM CHEN TAM CHAY DUG NGEL DANG
DUG NGEL KYI GYU DANG DEL WAR GYUR CHIG
SEM CHEN TAM CHAY DUG NGEL ME PAY DE WA DANG
MI DREL WAR GYUR CHIG
SEM CHEN TAM CHAY NYE RING CHAG DANG
NYI DANG DREL WAY DANG NYOM LA NAY PAR
GYUR CHIG

May all sentient beings have happiness
and the causes of happiness;
May all sentient beings be free from suffering
and the causes of suffering;
May all sentient beings never be separated from
the happiness that knows no suffering;
May all sentient beings live in equanimity,
free from attachment and aversion.

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Wise Advice from Buddha

This is what Buddha is believed to have said to all his disciples and it would be prudent for us to follow this advice to avoid being very easily lead in today’s hyper online connected social world.

“Do not believe in anything simply because you have heard it. Do not believe in anything simply because it is spoken and rumored by many. Do not believe in anything simply because it is found written in your religious books. Do not believe in anything merely on the authority of your teachers and elders. Do not believe in traditions because they have been handed down for many generations. But after observation and analysis, when you find that anything agrees with reason and is conducive to the good and benefit of one and all, then accept it and live up to it.”

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Ancient Bhutanese Bon Choid Rituals

Guest post from my uncle in Bhutan on the ancient Bhutanese beliefs and rituals before the arrival of Buddhism in the country. Fascinating reading and to know that in some parts of the country we still see these rituals being performed even today. 

Ancient Bhutanese Bon Choid Rituals

Before the spread of Buddhism in Bhutan, each community worshiped their own territorial deity, both male and female. The deity could be in the form of a stone, tree, cave, marshy land, mountain, rocky cliff, lake, or even a small stream.  Whenever disease or natural calamity struck this community, they worshiped and offered edible food, including slaughtered domestic animals to these deities to seek their protection and help. The designated local practitioners of Bon Choid (Native worshipers), known as Pow (Male) Pamo or Jomo (female) played an important role to help ease the stressed mentality of an individual and that of their community.

However, after the advent of Guru Rinpoche – the second leanage Buddha, all of these malevolent deities were subdued, reformed and indoctrinated with his powerful tantric positive obligations to refrain from inciting fear and the killing of animals and made the believers to worship whenever the protection of the benevolent deities are sought.

Thus to appease the local deities, known as Yul Lha Shibda or Kachong Choechung Sungma,  Guru Rinpoche encouraged the local worshippers to continue with the tradition of Bon Choid to their respective local deities during ritual ceremonies, which are still predominant throughout the kingdom. The ancient practitioners, pao, pamo, and Jomo are still an important part of Bhutanese rural communities. In offerings made to all of the manifestations of all the Buddhas during any rituals, reception, healing ceremonies, pilgrimage, Salem offerings of deep gratitude for their teachings and blessings, which in turn generate positive karma in this life.

For most Bhutanese, in the earlier days, it is an indispensable part of everyday life, both in religion and culture.  In all the holy places in Bhutan from the holiest temples to the lowest farm house shrine room, these rituals give forth their offerings from worshipping to the many Gods and Goddesses that inhabit this holy realm in the Himalayas. In more rare cases these rituals are still used for fumigation, and even exorcism depending on the occasion.

Bon Choid, therefore, is not only an offering to appease the local deities but it forms a medium for visualization of a much greater and multifarious offering. Buddhist literature classifies the recipients of the offering into four categories of guests:

1. The enlightened beings such as Buddhas, who are objects of veneration.

2. The celestial deities such as the Dharma protectors who possess good qualities.

3. The sentient beings of six realms, who are in the cycle of existence and thus worthy of compassion.

4. The evil spirits who cause harm to oneself due to the negative karmic debt accumulated in their previous lifetimes.

Research & Compilation by
Khaling Karma
Uling Dharma Healers
Thimphu, Bhutan

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