Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Dharma and Samsara

My sister is currently visiting Malaysia after five years of being away. The only thing we have in common are blood ties. It used to be also a love for good food, but this has dropped in priority for me for awhile now. Especially as I am currently vegetarian.

My dear father even drove up from Penang to see his darling daughter and over dinner on Sunday, my dad asked me if my sister could see Rinpoche the next day. I was pleased but it's not that easy, I explained. You have to request if you want to see Rinpoche. Rinpoche has thousands of requests evey day to see him. What is the purpose of seeing him? My sister didn't look very interested anyway, prefering to focus on her foie gras.

My heart sank. Rinpoche is so precious to me and my sister and dad just didn't understand or value who he is. Even though I would love nothing better for them to see Rinpoche, as they would get blessings merely from seeing him, I simply could not bring myself to request on their behalf because I felt my sister didn't even want to. Anyway, it was extremely unlikely for Rinpoche to be able to see them on such short notice.

Strangely enough, and there is no such thing as coincidence, at about 5ish the following day (yesterday), I received an sms saying Rinpoche was going to give a Dharma talk on Setrap that very evening. While extremely happy, I felt a deep heaviness in my heart that my sister wouldn't want to go. And her reasons would be that she has scheduled every mealtime every day in KL on where to eat her favourite foods. Also she had planned to meet her friend whom she hadn't seen for 5 years that night too. However I foolishly hoped.

My sister was sleeping when I went downstairs to see if she wanted to attend the Dharma talk. So I called my dad, who was busy looking at Ferraris somewhere near Batu Caves. My dad just said he didn't think he'd be back in time but we could go ahead. He also said my sister had arranged to meet her friend.

When my sister finally woke up, I asked her if she wanted to come. She looked as if I'd asked if she wanted to go to the dentist.

I had to walk off and gather my things because it was late and I did not yet have mastery over my emotions and I didn't want to show my disappointment. Eventually, I got my stuff together and decided to sit down and share with my sister - whatever you eat tonight, tomorrow it's gone. Your friend who you are meeting tonight, tomorrow she'll go back to her own life and what will you have tomorrow? Tonight is such a rare opportunity and Rinpoche doesn't give public talks often AT ALL.

She looked at me as if I was talking Croatian.

I left it.

I had a sense of failure - Rinpoche has often asked us if our families are in Dharma, if our children, our lovers, our good friends are in Dharma, and if not, it's because we haven't shown what benefit there is in Dharma.

At least I had some influence over Sean, and when I told him about the talk, he came happily, despite his greatest attachment which was also food! He didn't pull a black face or complain but just came. And he was wearing a Setrap T-shirt too!

Anyway, Rinpoche was fabulous as usual - lots more meat to add to my Setrap manuscript which I will be working on once I transition over the website stuff I am doing. I also enjoyed the drive home with Sean after the talk, when he kept asking me about Setrap and giving me a quiz!

Also, I had a realisation that I didn't even think twice about ditching dinner with my dad for the talk, to me - priority was mmediately going to the talk whereas a year ago, I might have wondered how I was going to juggle the Dharma and samsara.

Today, I had a lunch with my dad and sister - I asked my sister, where do you see yourself in five years time. She said she didn't think about it because it was too far ahead. So I said how about in one year's time. She said nowhere and promptly continued eating her cheese fondue.

I really didn't know what to say or even how to help her. How to help someone who doesn't even know they need helping. It's like they're walking in excrement and I want to tell them, you don't have to walk there, you can walk here - it's clean and nice, but they say no thanks, I like walking here. It's perfectly fine.

It was a mere taster of what Rinpoche deals with on a daily basis - we only have a mere glimpse of what people are missing out on.. Rinpoche can see it loud and clear. What must it be like for Rinpoche to see how all of us, out of our sheer stupidity, refuse to change and cling onto our habituations and negativities. He can already see ourresults as we blissfully and ignorantly create the causes.

The only way to help bring others to the Dharma is, as Rinpoche says, to simply work harder to transform ourselves so that people will be inspired by us. If people are not inspired by us, it's our fault.

So I kicked myself up the ass and trundled back to work - and my Dharma family.

Friday, March 27, 2009

Shin hosts her own farewell dinner

Shin hosted a 'farewell dinner' for KMP crew at Kechara Oasis (of course) on Weds 25 March. Everyone showed up - Joan, Judy, Jamie, June (so many 'J's), Han, Chris, Susan, Sio Chian (there are 4 'S's too including Shin and I!) Lanse, Yek Yee, David.. Shin started reminiscing about being the first full time staff at KMP and it was a nice wander down memory lane.

KMP started off with two guys, Joe and SP, in a rented room, madly burning DVDs and liaising with freelance writers, proofreaders, editors like Jamie, Andee and eventually myself. From there, we moved to another rented room in a house across the street, and eventually took over the whole premises. Shin was brought to Kechara by Wai Meng and she was invited to join KMP by Joe, who had become CEO of KMP.

However, Joe and Shin somehow worked at cross purposes and never the twain did meet. It was a case of different characters and personalities and many misunderstandings. However, thank Buddha that's all in the past.

We relived our first foray overseas at the Singapore Book Fair, which was the first real bonding experience for the team. This was initiated by Joe who had the great foresight that the experience would change our lives and it did!

Since those days, KMP has since changed premises, been almost shut down a few times, been almost assimilated into another department, been almost turned into a thangka shop, and fortunately, it's so far only 'almost' and we have survived.

Our staff turnover has been quite incredible, with a swapping of staff between ladrang and KMP - Joe and SP left KMP for the ladrang, Susan left the ladrang for KMP, Joey Wong left KMP awhile back and has just joined the e-Division at ladrang, JJ left KMP for ladrang and now Shin is also heading for ladrang. We've also recently had a few great additions to the team - Joan Foo Mahony as KMP advisor, Judy as our very capable admin and Dr Lanse as our part time Chinese translator.

We'll miss Shin as we miss all those who have left us but they are always with us in spirit and those who are in ladrang have not really left since we're all just one big family!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Liaisons Dinner with H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche

After the swearing in of new Apprentice Liaisons, Bill Keith and May Woo, we had a wonderful dinner get together with Rinpoche. As always, there was a great Dharma talk and you can see a snippet of it below:

Monday, March 16, 2009

Gift from the heart

After a particularly harrowing few days, one day at the office, Jamie aka Paris asked me to close my eyes and put my hands out. I had no clue what she was going to give me - chocolate? I wondered.

No, it was a beautiful Tsongkhapa pendant!!!! It was the one I liked best of the pendants which Rinpoche showed us in the Ladrang awhile back. I was dumbfounded - how.. why?

It turned out that on Sunday evening (or early on Monday morning as is usually the case in the land of Ladrang), Rinpoche played the hunting game, this time everyone had to look for a coin. Jamie had said that if she found it, she would give it to me - and she did!! I was told that there were two coins which were hidden. She could continue to search for the other coin and hope to get two pendants - one for me and one for herself, but if she didn't find it, she would have to give up the first pendant. She decided not to risk it and sat out when the others hunted for the coin.

How sweet of Jamie... it was really the last thing I expected to see in my palms..

I'm so glad we're close - not just because of this gift of the pendant but it's really a pleasure to go to the office and work with people you like a lot!!!