Wednesday, July 30, 2008

The Karmapa's 3 million HK dollar blessing

The Dhammapada says:

"Sons have I, wealth have I",
thus the fool is fretful.
He himself is not his own,
how then are sons and wealth?

On 26.7.2008 there was a report in the Chinese papers saying that HH the Karmapa went to the hotel where the newly wed HK celebrities Tony Leung and Carina Lau were staying, in order to "bless" them with a son. It wrote that the "blessing" took 21 hrs, or in other words he resided in the 5-star Radisson Delhi hotel in New Delhi for that amount of time. At first I was suspicious of the story, but later it turned out that what the paparazzi reported about the Karmapa visiting Tony and Carina was true. Above is the posh 5-star Radisson Delhi hotel where they met up.
The Karmapa arriving at the hotel amidst heavy security. Dozens of plainclothes officers were protecting his holiness. It was verified that he went there on 24.7.2008 to perform a special blessing for the HK celebrity couple. Reports say that Carina Lau spent 3 million HK dollars to invite the Karmapa to do the blessing for them. Other than for official duties, HH the Karmapa very seldom left his monastery in Dharamsala; but it would appear that the couple's 3 million worth of sincerity "moved" his holiness to personally come all the way to Delhi to see these 2 faithful patrons. Some followers say that he was in Delhi for medical check-ups and just happened to drop by. Whatever's the case, it is not good to have Dharma and sincerity linked with large sums of money.
The Karmapa led the blessing puja to fulfill the couple's wish to have a son. This event proves that the rich and famous do enjoy more privileges - including favors from enlightened beings, no less. Or is that really the case? Should we admire Tony and Carina's good karma? Or should we rejoice in his holiness' special compassion for these 2 HK stars?
Carina wears a Mala on her left wrist, a token of appreciation from the Karmapa, whereas Tony sports a holy yellow string on his wrist. In their car also hangs a 5-colored lucky charm. Such good stuff they got! I wonder if I could get the same stuff for 3 million? But I doubt so since I'm a nobody with little money, hehe.. Still, who are Tony and Carina, that the Karmapa needs to go to the hotel personally to see them? They may be famous in Asia, very important to their fans and the news-chasing paparazzi, but they are merely ordinary beings. I think it should be they who must go seek the Karmapa's wisdom, not the other way around.
Spotted in Carina's luggage by reporters - wrapped up gifts of Thangkas, said to be those of Green Tara. The couple flew back to HK on 26.7.2008. Some believe Tara to be the fulfiller of wishes, so in this case it would probably help Carina to pray to her if she wanted a son. In the ideal world all beings are equal in the Dharma, but in the real world, some beings are still more equal than others, just like in Orwell's Animal Farm. I only hope that Tony and Carina will put their "superior equality" to good use, for the benefit of less equal beings. Otherwise it will all come to nothing in the end as that is the nature of all worldy merit.


Anonymous said...

Not all beings are equal because each of us has different previous karma from this life and from previous lives. If all beings were equal then we would not need 84000 skilful means to liberate different sentient beings right? ;)

As mentioned in the sutra, when the rain falls, different plants on Earth benefit differently. Similarly as the Venerables and Masters teach the Dharma in various ways, each of us benefits differently as well. Should we therefore comment that it is unfair that I benefited less? We may benefit less because we did not have the right previous karma in order to benefit more. For example we did not learn the Dharma hard enough previously, or we committed unwholesome deeds that worsen our current conditions. We reap what we sow.

We should rejoice that Tony and Carina received blessings from the Karmapa. Their happiness does not damage us. Instead there will be 2 more happy and faithful persons on Earth! Sadhu! :) What I was slightly disappointed was that they asked for mundane things such as having a child. If I have the good fortune of meeting an Enlightened being, I would probably ask for something else such as teachings, renunciation, blessing for good Dharma opportunities or simply Enlightenment itself! :) However as I mentioned not all are equal. Perhaps to Tony and Carina, their karma is such that having a child now would ripen their seeds towards liberation in the future.

I wish Tony and Carina get what they want, and their good efforts not be wasted. I rejoice in the compassionate act of Karmapa.

Yueheng said...

Not to disregard the happiness of the newly wed couple, but I think the Karmapa's special blessing does a disservice to Buddhism. Did the Buddha teach that malas and holy strings can simulate child-birth? Did the Buddha teach his followers to rely on religious rituals for worldly blessings? The only true protection for this dangerous world is an enlightened mind.

If I were a non-Buddhist, reading these reports would certainly lead me to conclude that Buddhism is a superstitious and ritualistic religion.

Wayne said...

Some say giving ritualistic blessings and empowerments are common practice in the Tibetan tradition. For people unfamiliar with the tradition, it would be hard to understand why the Karmapa did what he did.
But if it was the Buddha himself, I think he'd probably have given them a sermon on merit rather than just chanting holy verses which the listeners could not understand.

Anonymous said...

Want a son? Eat mineral "Bio Zinc". Agreed that blessing should not be linked with $$$.

indigoblue said...

You can see this kind of decay not only in the Tibetan traditions these days. This has nothing to do with the Dhamma as it was preached by the Buddha. Sad to see...but if Tony and Carina were given some hope...was it then an act of compassion? I don't know. Wanting a son is just anther craving. The intent of the Buddha's teaching was to free us from all such cravings. But I guess money can buy any kind of comforts...even Buddhist blessings...

Peace & Love

Anonymous said...

Thai Buddhist monks defrocked over sex, drugs and alcohol

By Alex Spillius in Bangkok
Last Updated: 2:11PM BST 19 Jun 2001
THEY have girlfriends and take drugs. They drink whisky and sing karaoke. Their conveyance of choice is a Mercedes-Benz saloon. But when they hit town they have to wear a wig because, as Buddhist monks, they need to be discreet.
It has not been a good two weeks for the clergy. Wanchai Oonsap, the abbot of a temple near the capital, Bangkok, was caught on camera masquerading as an army colonel with girls on his arm. When police arrested him, as he left a house after spending the night with the women, his wig and uniform fell away, revealing his shaven pate and orange robes beneath.
At first he claimed that the girls were relatives and that he had worn the uniform in honour of an old king of great military skill. He failed to explain satisfactorily what empty alcohol bottles, condoms and pornographic videos were doing in the house, and was promptly defrocked.
Police had earlier caught a monk and the chauffeur of Phra Pativetviset, a senior Bangkok abbot, at a karaoke bar. A third man in saffron robes was seen driving away, having left a wig, layman's clothes and sunglasses in the toilet. The abbot denied breaking celibacy and other vows but resigned from the holy order.
Several girls working in the bar said he was a regular visitor and "a party animal". He was easily recognised by his shaven eyebrows - a requirement for all monks. This week an abbot was arrested in connection with the rape and murder of a woman he had been seeing regularly. Police discovered him at the monastery, burning bloodstained clothes and a ring inscribed with the victim's surname.
Adding to the scandals, a 39-year-old abbot, Pongsak Parisuth, was charged on Friday with possessing and dealing in amphetamines. He was arrested during a routine roadside stop and search operation, driving in layman's clothes with his girlfriend alongside. Guns were later found at his home.
Thais are accustomed to roguish monks and members of the clergy being involved in major crimes, such as the murder of the British tourist Johanne Masheder in 1995. The number of incidents of depravity and crime linked to men of the cloth have grown alarmingly, prompting much hand-wringing about a collapse of spiritual values and the rise of Mammon in the monasteries.
An editorial in Friday's Bangkok Post said: "Monks used to follow strict rules . . . they could not even touch money. Today monks and abbots run their temples as if salvation was a commercial transaction. Many are corrupt and buy their way into religious positions from which they can pursue worldly goals."
Government officials have admitted that postings to wealthy parts of the country are traded by unscrupulous holy men, who happily exploit a key part of the Theravada Buddhism practised by 95 per cent of Thais - gaining merit for the next life. This can involve worshippers giving anything from rice, as monks make their morning rounds, to luxury vehicles and vast sums of cash.
One monk was recently photographed showing off a collection of 60 vintage Mercedes-Benz cars bought principally from worshippers' donations. When challenged, he said he planned to create a mechanic-training scheme for disadvantaged youth.
There are about 300,000 monks, a high number in a population of 60 million. Men will commonly spend a few months in a monastery after school, between jobs, or before they marry, but the inclusive approach is open to abuse by criminals seeking refuge and by the greedy ready to exploit people's veneration of a sacred institution. Sathienpong Wannapok, a columnist and formerly a monk for 20 years said: "We must be more strict about who is allowed to stay long-term. Nowadays anyone is accepted and they don't pay enough attention to the religious side of their teaching."
The Religious Affairs Department has said it is "brainstorming" to find ways to tackle the crisis, including increasing the current inspection force of 200 monks. Many fear that if the problem is not tackled, a spiritual vacuum could be created that will be filled by foreign and homegrown cults. The Sangha Council, the supreme religious authority, has been called on to reform the system and toughen discipline. At present, offenders can only be expelled if they are caught red-handed . . . or on videotape.
LINK :,-drugs-and-alcohol.html

Anonymous said...

Personally I don't see the problem with this. The Karmapa has thousands of monks and nuns to look after and has, for hundreds of years, had sponsors to help to this end.

Furthermore, I have visited the Karmapa a few times in North India when I had not a cent to my name. He was very kind to me and gave me teachings even though I had nothing to offer. He is actually more generous than many other lamas I know - recently he donated all the proceeds from his teachings to a nunnery to help them rebuild.

Anyway, great stuff for the movie stars, no problems for the rest of us.