Tiger’s Nest in Bhutan known as Taksang

Taksang the literal translation in English is the Tiger’s nest is one the most sacred, most visited and most photographed temples in Bhutan. In fact, this temple is one of the most revered and sacred temples for Tibetans and Bhutanese all over the world.

Legend has it an Indian Guru in the 8th century called Padmasambhava known mainly by everyone as Guru Rinpoche flew to this place on a flying tigress from Tibet to spread Buddhist teachings and also to subjugate all evil demons in the regions.

There are several caves you can see where he is believed to have meditated for three years, three months and three days locally known as Losoom Chosoom. The main cave is not accessible to the public as it is under lock and key but you can still see it nonetheless to offer your prayers and receive blessings.

There is also a brilliant view of the waterfall from the main temple where you can see the imprint left from his sitting position and also the imprints of both knees just below it from his consort Khandro Yeshe Tshoghayl. The story goes whilst meditating the string from his prayer beads broke and his consort kneeled down in an attempt to catch them hence the imprints of knees. Legend has it the beads were made of glass, I guess like marbles and when the string broke, the glass beads went flying down the cliff and as such the waterfall is named appropriately as”Shekhar Chu” meaning the glass beads water (correct me if I am wrong).

My sister told me if you have accumulated good merit you can see the shape of glass beads falling down the cliff. In three winters I have been there as a child spending my winter vacation with my dad in his retreat, I have only seen a rainbow and never the falling glass beads. The locals believe seeing the rainbow is a good omen even if you don’t see the falling glass beads.

It is a very peaceful place and a stunningly beautiful view of the Himalayan mountain ranges from up there. I would say it is one of the must see places and definitely one to add to your bucket list if you haven’t already.

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Aspirational & Actualizing Bodhichitta

This is the summarised extract of what I have read from one the teachings by a renowned Tibetan teacher on the four immeasurables (tsedmed shi).

longchenpaLongchenpa who was a Tibetan teacher in the thirteenth century explained that the entire conduct of the bodhisattva can be summarized into two aspects of aspirational bodhichitta and actualizing bodhichitta. He went on to explain that the aspirational bodhichitta is actually based on the Four Immeasurables of Immeasurable Love, Immeasurable Compassion, Immeasurable Joy, and Immeasurable Equanimity.

Through the deligent practice of these four immeasurables, it is possible to become the cause of the actualized bodhichitta.

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De-Mystifying Mindfulness

Over the last several weeks I have been diligently watching, reading, writing and taking part in the Mindfulness course offered by Leiden University through MOOC on De-Mystifying Mindfulness. This is an area which has always fascinated me over the last few years and since then I have been looking to explore further. Fortunately, this course has come up in the right time and presented to me what I have been looking for. This course is a kick start for me to research and learn more about the meditation and the mindfulness practice.

gautam-buddhaThere are so many different methods being deployed in the efficacy of mindfulness Practice, I am fascinated to learn and discover this new interest. It has been an eye-opener for me in many ways learning and finding out about the mindfulness practice, particularly the evolution and adoption of it in the west and how this ancient eastern concept has been seen as the revolution in the clinical therapy treatments. Two most notable were mentioned during the course which are MBSR (mindfulness based stress reduction) and MBCT (mindfulness-based cognitive therapy). I have no doubt these techniques are born out of this popular eastern Buddhist teachings and philosophies; embedded into the western secular and commercially minded cultures.

Furthermore, this has given me the opportunity to rekindle my birthright beliefs which have remained dormant all these years. For me, the Buddhist teachings and my root where I come from has always been an integral part of my upbringing which has molded me into the person that I am today. I believe a mindfulness practice is a choice everyone should make whatever your religious conviction to develop the mental awareness and the clarity; so essential to the well-being of self and that of our modern contemporary societies.

I love this teaching on the wisdom, one of the six paramitas which can be and should be included in all mindfulness practices to cultivate and realize its transcendent value. Here is the extract from a book The Heart of Compassion by a renowned Buddhist teacher and a scholar Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche where he writes “In the absence of wisdom, perfect enlightenment cannot be attained through the other five perfections alone. Therefore, to cultivate wisdom combined with skillful means and free from the three concepts is the practice of a bodhisattva. The paramita of generosity, discipline, patience, endeavor and concentration can help you to accumulate merit, but they are still associated with concepts. Only wisdom can perfect the accumulation which leads you to realize primordial awareness free of all concepts. Generosity, discipline, patience, diligence and concentration could be likened to five blind men who, without the eyes of wisdom, would never be able to find their way to the citadel of liberation. Indeed, only when accompanied by wisdom do they deserve the name paramita, transcendent, literally “gone to the other shore”-the shore across the ocean of suffering and ignorance, beyond the concepts of samsara and nirvana.”

Finally, I want to say this again that how much I have loved this course and it has made me more aware of our human incarnation, what we go through and how mindfulness can help. I am inspired to explore further and will continue to try and practice mindfulness when I can. It has reminded me, through this practice it is possible to learn to live in the present moment.

All the best with your practice.

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Buddhist Wisdom on Anger

I like this quote from Buddha on anger which is so profoundly true and appropriate to reflect upon our actions particularly anger in this case and you could replace an anger with hatred to get the same meaning.

coalhand“Holding on to anger is like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone else; you are the one who gets burned.”

We all know our emotion such as an anger or hatred are not the quality one would wish to display, yet in the heat of the moment we forget and often resort to either physical or verbal abuse. We don’t like when our loved ones and friends get angry with us or hate us and likewise, the same emotional pain as we go through is experienced by others. No sentient beings on this earth love to be hated, shouted at or abuse of whatever nature, thrown at them indiscriminately yet we are all capable of dishing out so much emotional and physical pain in so many different ways. 

We have the infinite capacity to demonstrate wisdom and compassion to all beings particularly to ourselves yet more often than not we lack such wisdom and judgement. This is all because of our sheer ignorant and deluded mind which according to Buddhist teachings is fueled with the five poisons of attachment, anger, delusion, pride and jealousy. This is so true, if only we can somehow learn to discard these poisons from our mind, we would be able to cultivate loving-kindness, compassion, joy and so forth which are the innate good qualities of all human beings. In cultivating such good qualities to become a better person than you already are will open the window to your heart to see others need before your own. Buddhist believe by helping others one help themselves to accumulate good merit for now and for future lives.  

One of the ways to discard these poisons is by being mindful of our actions and by our own endeavour to reflect and change whenever these negative feelings arise in us. We can train our mind by practicing some reflective and contemplative meditation where we allow our heart to open up to accept all the wrongs and learn to reconcile with our negative thoughts and unintended actions. If we allow this to happen and that we are committed and disciplined, we are capable of achieving whatever goal we set but this has to come from within.

As saying goes “patience is a virtue” and you cannot achieve these valuable qualities immediately. You will have to work at it over and over and over until you begin to see some changes in you.

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5 Reassuring Quotes of Wisdom

I found some quotes online which are so reassuring to read, I would like to share here for everyone. Next time when you feel lost or need some words of wisdom, remember and reflect on these quotes.

sometimes-the-bad-things1. “Sometimes the bad things that happen in our lives put us directly on the path to the best things that will ever happen to us.”

One of the most important lessons in life that we must learn is how to accept the good times, along with the bad times, in our lives. Sometimes, the bad things that happened to us, happened for a reason, giving us a new path to go on for newer and better things. It may be hard, but find that new direction to embark on, take it, and never stop moving forward.

2. “Sometimes you need to step outside, get some air, and remind yourself of who you are and where you want to be.”

quote-16This is pretty self-explanatory. However, there are times where the answer is not always clear, reminding us of who we are, what we love doing, and where we would rather be right now. Sometimes the answer for a new direction or path is usually the obvious one right in front of us.

3. “If you don’t like where you are, move. You are not a tree.”

today2If you are not satisfied with where you are living, then be that change you so desire. Find the place that is just right for you, and stop at nothing to achieve those dreams and goals. If there is nothing holding you back and you have the means to go and fight for what you want most, do it. Follow your gut instincts!

4. “Sometimes you need to talk to a three-year-old just so you can understand life again.”

threeyroldThis means that sometimes adults too often let the serious things in life suck all the joy and fun away from their lives. Sometimes we need to have a quick chat with the younger side of ourselves to revisit what it means to live again. Let yourself be a kid every now and then, not everything needs to be so critical all of the time.

5. “Always remember that your present situation is not your final destination. The best is yet to come.”

a20d637e5d5ef2a311dcb867101893bcRemember that not everything is permanent. Being temporary can actually be a very beautiful thing. There is always another path that can lead you to something much better or something that you’ve never experienced before. Be open to the limitless possibilities of the world around you!

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Perception of Mindfulness in a Commercialized Society

img_7254The practice of mindfulness is traditionally seen as a sacred spiritual practices and still does particularly in Bhutan, Tibet, India and most Buddhist countries. The techniques to learn and develop such skills undoubtedly would have been really hard without a qualified teacher before. It would have taken a typical person several years to find the teacher who possessed years of experience along with an expansive knowledge and all the right qualities of a teacher to provide instructions and guidance through their practices.

mindfulness-at-workNow with the easy accessibility of internet today, we are able to access materials and resources required to practice with very little hardships compared to our ancestors. You can now download it on a smartphone, watch it on a PCs, Laptops, DVDs and so on as the market demand for such services have exploded exponentially particularly over the last few years. There are so many courses both free and paid to gain recognizable qualifications to teach, to start new business ventures, to provide therapy services, to become a teacher or a coach etc.

The outlet for such centers are sprouting everywhere and has become a big business opportunities for many. There seem to be voracious demand for it as it is being sold as stress busting, bringing general calmness and overall health benefit. We are easily, on the whole, sold by the idea of these stereotypical myth busting jargon about it’s general health and well being benefits.

first_sermonFurthermore there seem to be a huge interest in Buddhism lately particularly in meditation practices where mindfulness is the primary technique applied. This seem to have spread widely in the west over the last decades in particular and people are interested in stereotypical Buddhist monks in their robes meditating quietly or the ninja warrior aspect of mindfulness skills to cultivate good health and power. As this popular culture of stereotypical believe is being sold as the paradigm of Buddhism. It may not be for the right reason but nevertheless they are drawn to it.

What we are in the end failing to understand is the fundamental philosophy and the efficacy of mindfulness practice. We are too quick to look for the solution to solve our stress and to calm our mind by paying someone to do it for us or buy an accessories to do it for us. The irony of this is that no one can do it for us and the only person who can is yourself. It is like breathing, we cannot pay someone to do it for us and likewise mindfulness practice can only be done by yourself.

Finally I just want to say, these are my personal view and one that may not be agreed by everyone. I truly believe if we all persevere and practice mindfulness regularly it will become a second nature and if we achieve this then our world would be a better and peaceful place to live. We don’t need any revolution to become a mindful society, we need everyone to become mindful to live harmoniously together in our society. All the best with your mindfulness practice.

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Om Ma Ni Päd Me Hum

Om Ma Ni Päd Me Hum is the mantra made up of six syllables, which most Tibetan and Bhutanese people would chant everyday either quietly or sing out loudly, every opportune moment. This mantra although short and very easy to chant yet it’s benefit and power cannot be underestimated. It is believed to contain the essence of the entire teachings of Buddha in just these few syllables and would take several life times to explain and understand the full meaning. 

The word mantra I believe means mind protection and a mantra is a series of symbols written, spoken, or sung that evoke a spiritual response. This prayer Om Ma Ni Päd Me Hum is also repeated as part of meditation.

Tibetan Buddhists believe that chanting this mantra, Om Ma Ni Päd Me Hum, out loud or silently to oneself, invokes powerful benevolent attention and blessings of Chenrezig (Avalokitesvara), the embodiment of compassion. Viewing the written form of the mantra is said to have the same effect; it is often carved into stones, like the one pictured here, and placed where people can see them. 

The path of these six perfections is the path walked by all the Buddhas of the three times. What could then be more meaningful than to say the mantra and accomplish the six perfections? Each syllable has a special meaning, symbol and color within Tibetan writing:

om_mani_padme_hum

Om (ohm) – When you recite this first syllable it is blessed to help you achieve perfection in the practice of generosity

Ma (mah) – When you recite this second syllable it helps perfect the practice of pure ethics

Ni (nee) – When you recite this third syllable it helps achieve perfection in the practice of tolerance and patience

Päd (peh) – When you recite this fourth syllable it helps to achieve perfection of perseverance

Me (may) – When you recite this fifth syllable it helps to achieve perfection in the practice of concentration

Hum (hu) – When you recite this sixth and final syllable it helps to achieve perfection in the practice of wisdom.

So by chanting the six syllables mantra in this way it helps achieve perfection in the six practices of generosity, ethics, patience, perseverance, concentration and wisdom.

The animated image here on the right 
is another form of digital prayer wheel.

 

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