A Rare Chance For Learning

by Elaine Cheah

8 May 2009 - 6:58pm Comments Off

I discovered Buddhism almost two years ago after having accidentally chanced upon H. E. Tsem Rinpoche’s teachings on YouTube. Though I was not looking for anything remotely Buddhist, I was immediately hooked as the teachings were an eye-opener and made a whole lot of sense to me. Rinpoche’s teachings had such a profound impact on me that unwittingly, a kind of spiritual awakening arose. Like water to dry parchment, I was thirsting to find out more about Buddhist practice.

Dharma was a new experience and a whole new perspective opened up. I spent months absorbing the teachings from a distance. Then, knowing that Kechara House was just at my doorstep, the time came when I just had to take the step and go all the way. That I did, and there is no turning back. Kechara House and Rinpoche were already here for 15 years, but it took until then for our paths to cross. Now I know it was the power of karma, and aided by modern technology!

Attending talks and pujas, reading and watching videos were a good starting point for practice. However, terms referred to during teachings often drew a blank; Dharma knowledge was piecemeal and sketchy. Then, through the kindness of our Guru, the Lamrim classes were commissioned. I jumped at the chance.

The Lamrim or “The Stages of the Path to Enlightenment” is the condensation of all Buddha’s teachings. Usually, completing a Lamrim course is the prerequisite to higher teachings and initiations, not an option. Our reference is “Liberation in the Palm of Your Hand” by Pabongka Rinpoche. Mr Ngeow is our teacher/facilitator, and I will attest to the fact that his delivery, commitment, depth of knowledge is nothing short of amazing. I enjoy most the thought- provoking questions, application of the teachings to daily life, and the many anecdotes within the Lamrim that I find so interesting yet profound. On top of that, we have a fun group and there are always lots of laughs.

Reciting or reading the Lamrim on our own is good, but how do we apply what we have read? To understand and internalise the teachings, we need our Spiritual Guide. Through our Spiritual Guide or his representatives, the teachings of Buddha are directly passed onto us in an unbroken line in a way we can understand them. I realise that most of us are so fortunate to have all the 18 opportune conditions intact, every single one of them, handed out on a platter. We are even more fortunate to have a living, breathing Bodhisattva living among us. Why would we waste this rare opportunity? Just like a blind turtle in the ocean of samsara, we might never get this rare chance again in a long time. So, if our ultimate goal is Enlightenment, it would have to be this lifetime. This is our window of opportunity.

The Lamrim is the roadmap out of samsara to Enlightenment. The study of the Lamrim takes effort but how do we get enlightened without applying any effort? Our beloved, kind Lama has provided us the classes to help us along. Attending Dharma classes also creates the causes for more teachings and the manifestation of our future retreat centre, Kechara World Peace Center.

From the Lamrim, we learn the ultimate truth of our existence. As long as we apply the teachings, exactly as the Lamrim has taught us, we will reach that goal of Enlightenment. That’s the Buddha’s prescription. The Buddha will never lie.

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