Thursday, March 23, 2006

Destruction of Pra Prom Erawan

As most of us already know, 2 days ago (21.3.06) a mentally-deranged man hammered the much-revered statue of Pra Prom or Brahma creator god at the Hyatt Erawan Hotel in Bangkok and reduced it into rubble. Only the part of lap and base of the statue were left intact. Its head was broken and fell off to the ground. Officials have since put up white cloth to hide what is left of the statue. The man was later identified as Thanakorn Pakdeepol, 27, a Muslim. While he was trying to escape, some taxi drivers and people near the scene caught up with him started to beat him up. The madman died from his injuries about 50m away from the Pra Prom shrine.
Although astrologers predict bloodshed and bad times ahead from the destruction of the revered Brahma statue in central Bangkok, what I'm more concerned is the possible backlash against the Muslim population in Thailand, even though the culprit is insane and could not be held totally responsible for such an act of terror. He might be dead, but the result of his actions will have far reaching effect on religious sensitivities in the kingdom. Given the political turmoil that is already shaking up the country currently, the situation could very well turn worse if further religious conflict enter the picture at this time.

As Buddhists, we must view this happening with a calm mind, reflecting on the impermanance of all external phenomena. See that all the Buddha images in our world, no matter how holy they are, are not the real Buddha. The real Buddha is in our heart and it is this Buddha-nature that is truly indestructible like diamond. Even when the whole world is burned up by fire at the end of the Maha Kalpa (great eon), the Buddha-nature remains the same as always. Throughout history there had been persecutions on Buddhism; countless temples, pagodas, images & scriptures had also been destroyed as a result. But the Dharma was able to survive to this day because it always lived in hearts & minds of the people no matter what happened. Pra Prom or Brahma is not so much about a Creator Deity, but about the 4 immeasurables he represents - Universal Love, Compassion, Joy & Equanimity. These are are also the inherent qualities that makes a person immortal even though his physical body may die. Seek these immeasurables in your heart and Brahma will forever be present in you, sadhu.

Thursday, March 16, 2006

Anger & Merit

Shantideva, one of the great Mahayana sages, once said:

Good works gathered in a thousand ages,
Such as deeds of generosity,
Or offerings to the Blissful Ones-
A single flash of anger shatters them.

Why does anger destroy all the merit you ever accumulated?

Because it is you!
In the same way that eons of ignorance can be banished by a single moment of enlightenment, ages of merit can similarly be destroyed by a moment of anger.
Anger is you, love is you, merit is you, sin is also you. It is still the same one mind, but use it for anger, and it becomes hell. Use it for love, and it becomes heaven. Use it for ignorance, it becomes sentient beings; use it for enlightenment, and it becomes Buddha. Whether merit or sin depends on how you use this one mind; but at the end of the day, nothing is created, nothing is destroyed. It is just you.

Don't you see?

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Are ghosts & demons afraid of chanting?

Some people believe that when you are disturbed by ghosts, spirits & demons, chanting sutras, mantras or names of the Buddhas & Bodhisattvas will protect you. They think that it is the Buddhas, Bodhisattvas or guardian deities who will drive the evil beings away, but that's utter nonsense.

Such beliefs originate from an unenlightened mind. Chanting or recitation does not scare ghosts, spirits or demons! It is the enlightened mind that they truly fear. What are these evil beings? They are merely our own craving, hatred, ignorance, jealousy, pride & doubt. What are kathas, mantras, names of Buddhas & Bodhisattvas? They refer to different aspects of our own Buddha-nature. They are also fingers pointing to the Buddha-nature, directing us to return to the true mind. Where are all those Buddhas, Bodhisattvas & guardian deities? They are all there, right inside our Buddha-nature. When we return to the true mind, those defilements mentioned above are all absorbed back into the absolute & dissappear without a trace. They stand no chance just as snow flakes stand no chance inside a hot stove. This is what really scares the ghosts & demons!

Thus do not seek protection from evil outside yourself, for evil is your own mind, & all protection is also within your own mind.

Nagarjuna's stanzas

"In some things be like trampled grass.
In some things be like blazing fire.
In some things labour like a slave.
In some things remain as immovable as a mountain."

What does these verses of the great Nagarjuna, father of the Mahayana tradition mean?

Trampled grass refers to the perfect patience of the Buddha-nature. Like when King Kali angrily cut off the limbs of Rishi Ksantivadin (one of the Buddha's past life) with his sword, he felt no anger towards him. Or when Ven Hui Ke chopped off his own arm to seek the highest doctrine from Bodhidharma, he too felt no regret at all for that sacrifice.

Blazing fire refers to the the Samadhi fire of the Buddha-nature, able to burn away all klesha (defilements) and tranform them into pure Prajna (wisdom). Whatever klesha that arise in the mind is caused by Avijja (fundamental ignorance). When Avijja is shattered, all klesha are melted back into the true mind & becomes its manifestation bodies.

Labouring like a slave refers to the untiring nature of the Buddha-nature, for it is devoid of any concept of self or something belonging to a self. Like the Bodhisattva Ksitigarbha, who vowed never to attain Buddhahood until all the hells are emptied, the Buddha-nature also works tirelessly to transform all sentient beings in the mind into Buddhas.

Immovable as a mountain refers to the admantine nature of the Buddha-nature, for despite being able to see & know all things, remains unattached & unchanged throughout all time & space.

So u see all Dharmas are not apart from the Buddha-nature. Once u see your own true mind, you will be able to understand all the teachings of the Buddha, sadhu.