Monday, December 21, 2009

An Amazing weekend (Sunday)

On Sunday, we woke up early as Susan had a Lamrim meeting with Thierry, Lili and Sarah at KLCC. I can think of worse places to have a meeting. While they had their meeting, I madly scoured KLCC for Christmas gifts.

What do you get a man who has everything. Yes, I was shopping for my dad. He likes gadgets and cars (real ones, not matchbox). He also likes snacks so I got him some snacks from Marks & Spencer.

In the afternoon, I was leading the Manjushri class, which was coincidentally about relationships. I decided to use Rinpoche's talk the previous day which I was still very enamoured by. It was quite a fun session as we discussed what makes relationships work and the men-are-from-mars-and-women-are-from-venus theory. Henry came in half way and said that Rinpoche asked him once whether in his next life he would rather be 1) married with kids 2) married without kids 3) a monk 4) gay! Henry said he chose 2 because he wouldn't wish to have children in his next life. That brought about another lively debate over why would we have children.

Immediately after Manjushri class, Susan and I had an audience with Rinpoche so we dashed over to the ladrang. We had no idea what the audience was about and were shocked (pleasantly) when Rinpoche kindly offered us a very personal gift! I won't comment on it here but Rinpoche is always incredibly generous and considerate for his Dharma students. Incredible. Really incredible.

May I be like him and repay his kindness by becoming a better person. Can you imagine - he always does so much for us and ALL he wants is for us to be better people? Incredible.

We left the ladrang around 6pm and met up with Jamie for dinner at Yogi Tree, Midvalley, then watched Avatar in 3D! I really enjoyed it though it's had some scathing reviews. Beautiful images. It's a good analogy to what we are doing to our planet - destroying the environment for money. How stupid can humans get. It's literally suicide - I guess it's like smoking. The smoker knows it's bad for him but he still can't stop because of the instant gratification. We never think about the future. Go look at the karma diagram, dude!!!

Anyway, that's my amazing weekend.

Thank you Rinpoche for allowing me the privilege of working with you, experiencing Dharma and really seeing how Dharma makes our lives better.

This weekend, I manned a KMP stand, attended a Christmas party, did a school run, some shopping, gave a Dharma class, met with a Buddha, had a nice dinner and watched a movie! What a perfect life - who says Dharma can't be fun!

An Amazing weekend (Saturday)

What an amazing weekend. Actually, it's always pretty amazing in Kechara land. Never a dull moment. I woke up early on Saturday morning to send Sean to school for his compulsory orientation camp, then picked up Susan at KL Sentral as we were going to attend Suzan and Simon's wedding blessing by H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche at Kechara House.

Rinpoche gave an absolutely fantastic speech about marriage. He listed the following key ingredients to a successful marriage:

1. Be faithful. We should be faithful because we chose our partners ourselves. In most cases, we chose them freely ourselves. No one forced us to choose this particular partner to have a relationship with or marry. At the beginning of the relationship, there were certain qualities about our partners which we were attracted to. We should always think about these qualities, and especially in difficult times; thinking on these qualities will help us overcome the difficult times.

If we are not faithful, we create mistrust. If we have mistrust in our relationship, it will affect our children.

2. Defend and support our partners. When our partners have difficulties, we should always support them. We should never feel tired and let them feel abandoned or alone. We should be the first to step up and listen to them and support them. Sometimes we cannot solve the problem but just being there will make a big difference to them.

Always let people see the good side of our partners and never talk negatively about our partners to outsiders. Don't air our dirty laundry outside. This really made sense to me - why would we want people to think negatively about our partners - because that would be the effect of our negative talk. After you vent, then you make up with your partner, the impression you leave with the person you bitched to remains. Rinpoche said - instead of saying negative things, say positive things about your partner. Tell people their good qualities. This is good training to see the positive side of partners and people in general.

We should never mentally hurt our partners - never use our body, speech and mind to hurt them and we should never go to sleep with a problem lingering.

3. Improve on the weaknesses in ourselves for our partners. I loved this point too. We shouldn't expect our partners to change for us. WE change for our partners. This turns on its head the usual expectation for our partners to be better people - if only he/she did this... if only he/she didn't do this... why not WE do it :) i love it!

We should always improve ourselves so we can be the best person for our partners. And the best thing is that, usually, our partners will reciprocate.

4. Respect each other's beliefs and culture. Rinpoche said that we all come from different beliefs and cultural backgrounds. Even people in the same family find it difficult to get along, let alone two people from different families and backgrounds. If your partner finds something fulfilling to do, let them do it. If you stop them from doing something they like, it's selfish. Of course it's on the basis that what they want to do is a positive activity, e.g. if they like to play golf everyday and neglect work or family, that is not something to be encouraged! However, if they like to do community service, or pursue spiritual development, we should encourage them and not stop them because we feel neglected. Examine if our motivation is selfish.

5. Share. We should share everything with our partners. Finance, food, whatever we have and we should never take advantage.

6. Keep promises. Whatever we have promised, we should do. This will give confidence to our partners. And if we are unable to fulfil a certain promise, we should sit our partners down to explain why we were unable to do them and perhaps even seek support to be able to do it.

After the blessing ceremony, we had a reception at KH2, catered by Kechara Oasis (of course)! The decor and the reception was all sponsored by Tsem Ladrang. Rinpoche is always so incredibly generous and kind to his students. Rinpoche, through his consistent compassion, integrity and tremendous hard work, has also gained incredible sponsors who understand and support Rinpoche's actions.

Around 4pm, I had to rush off to pick Sean up from school. The traffic jam was terrible and I wondered again whether to get a scooter to take Sean to school. There is no school bus available and I'm torn whether to hire a driver (can't really afford it), hire a taxi (I'm not sure if it's trustworthy) or buy a scooter to take him back and forth. The latter is the least attractive because as I am now working full-time, it is going to be inconvenient to take off in the mid-afternoon to fetch the monster.

Anyway, I'll continue to ruminate.

That evening, Sean, Susan and I were at PJLA to man the KMP stand at the Legend of the Conch Shell. I had made a huge oversight. Su had invited Sean and I over for Christmas dinner and I had accepted a few weeks ago. For some odd reason, I forgot to put it in my diary and on Saturday itself, she smsed to ask if I needed directions. I had that 'Psycho' moment with the 'shower scene' music flashing in my head. Sh*t!!! I was on duty at PJLA that evening so I couldn't go - and she had specially cooked vegetarian dish for us. I felt horrendous. How irresponsible. She was very gracious and asked us to come over after the show.

It was the finale of the Tsongkhapa show and it was a full house. I peeped in and out but Sean watched it again and said it was better than the Premiere night. It is still pretty mind-blowing that Kechara could organise a show like that.

By the time we got to Su's party, it was around 11pm and the party was wrapping up. We helped ourselves to the lovely food and drink though (and wore the antlers!) and stayed until around 12.30am by which time I was pretty knackered so we excused ourselves, went home and knocked out.

Saturday, December 19, 2009


This diagram was created by H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche to show us in a very simple and direct way how our choices lead us to certain results.

From the left side of the diagram, we can see that we are all subject to negative karma, good karma/merits and neutral karma. The blue line is the negative karma path, the black line is the good karma path and the red line is the neutral karma path.

The diagram essentially illustrates that everyday we are faced with choices, and every action (or lack of it) has a result. If we put in positive action, such as effort, Dharma work etc., we will have positive results. If we put in negative action, such as laziness, selfishness etc., we will have negative results.

Simple really, isn't it.

Rinpoche stressed - every day, we are at a crossroads. We choose which path we wish to take, so we should not be surprised at the results. He also shared that even though the day before we screwed up and made mistakes, today is a new day and we can still change our future by the choices we make today. For example, if we forgot to say our prayers the day before, we don't just stop doing them, we just continue today. Often we try to change our pattern of behaviour, eg stop smoking, exercise more etc but once we 'fall off the wagon', we just stop. That's just giving up. We should persevere. Even if we fall off the wagon, we can simply climb back on and keep on going.

Great stuff.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Legend of the Conch Shell

On 17th December, another milestone was achieved by Kechara as it staged its first ever stage performance of the life story of Lama Tsongkhapa. Descriptively entitled 'Legend of the Conch Shell', the show was a triumph of talent and determination. After months of gruelling rehearsals by professional dancers and virgin (for stage anyway) volunteers, the show premiered to rave reviews.

Lee Swee Keong, a renowned dance performer, p
layed the central role of Lama Tsongkhapa, while Edward, the ten year old son of Liaison Henry Ooi, played his first stage role as the young Tsongkhapa. The show was narrated in Mandarin with English subtitles (thank goodness for the linguistically challenged like me) and though the set was minimalistic, the effects were well done and I could see that the minimal budget had definitely been maximised.

H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche graced the premiere and at the end, he gave a fabulous teaching on harmony and respecting each other's cultures and religions. By learning about each other's religion and culture, we understand each other better, and when we understand each other better, there will be more harmony. He stated unequivocably that all faiths were good and none were better than the other. He reiterated that although he was a Buddhist monk, he was not there to convert anyone to Buddhism but he wished to encourage everyone to stay in their respective religions but be better practitioners.

My guest, Ann Woo, who is the current Executive Director of the Nanyang Press Foundation, is a staunch Catholic, in the true sense of the word. While she worships God, she supports universal religions and was extremely supportive of what Rinpoche said in his speech that evening.

There was much feedback from many that they enjoyed the performance, with even a suggestion that we take the show to London! Hmmmmm....

Anyway, the show only runs for three days (four shows) but it will live on in our memories for a long, long time. What a way to reach out to people and share this powerful story of the great Buddhist saint, Lama Tsongkhapa!

Timeout KL listing

Friday, December 11, 2009

Be a Vajrayogini practitioner

Watch this video of H.E. Tsem Tulku on how to be a Vajrayogini practitioner, which he gave at the marathon meeting!

Thursday, December 10, 2009

Marathon Meeting

This week flew by amazingly. Susan, Sean and I were in Penang over the weekend for Sean's 12th birthday, then to attend my cousin's daughter's wedding dinner on Sunday night. Immediately after the wedding party, we drove back to KL, arriving at about 4am. After a quick sleep, it was time to go to Ladrang for the Liaisons' Council's first meeting with Rinpoche.

We were supposed to start early so that the meeting wouldn't end too late, so the meeting was slated to start at 2pm. The meeting eventually paused around 7am - of course there were a few breaks - with amazing refreshments conjured up by the Ladrang kitchen - but there were still items to discuss so we proceeded the following evening... in total, we had over 30 hours of meeting, including updates on all twelve departments of the Kechara Buddhist organisation, discussions on the future expansion of the organisation and the highlights being the stunning Dharma talks given by H.E. Tsem Tulku Rinpoche.

Rinpoche gave a startlingly clear talk on our good and bad karma, and how every day, every minute, we CHOOSE to activate either our good or bad karma with the choices we make. We have both good and bad karma which are dormant - and our actions will trigger the opening of either one. No one else is responsible for what happens to us except ourselves. Everything good or bad that happens to us now is a result of what we did in the past. Everything good or bad that happens to us in the future is the result of what we do today. We are in control. How empowering, don't you think?

At the end of the meeting, the Liaisons' Council elected two new members to the Council - Phng Li Kim, Head of Kechara Media & Publications, as an Associate Liaison, and David Lai as an Apprentice Liaison.

Some people may wonder why meetings take so long. It's simple really. It's because we just don't have enough time. There is so much to do and we just can't wait! The Liaisons Council and Heads of Department meetings are now so dynamic and exciting and fun, the time passes by so quickly. Rinpoche leads the meetings with unending energy and passion, inspiring all of us to push ourselves to do more to benefit others. I feel so fortunate to be part of this central group which drives the growth of the organisation, which has the privilege of working closely with such a great being as Tsem Rinpoche and the opportunity to fulfil his vision to benefit many.