#7: Crews’ Corner 12 July 2010

13 July 2010 - 1:21am Comments Off

Sharon Saw

The past week was an unusual week. I’ve hardly been to Kechara Media & Publications (KMP) because a group of us undertook an unusual and interesting assignment. Within seven days, each of us committed to writing at least 88 comments on His Eminence Tsem Rinpoche’s blog, Facebook and Twitter. The purpose behind this assignment was so that all of us in this group would get to know Rinpoche better; if we knew Rinpoche better, we would be able to speak more about him and Kechara and share the information with the many new people coming into the centre. Rinpoche also posts Dharma teachings online on his blog, which I liken to little hidden treasures. So many people request Rinpoche for teachings when Rinpoche is already giving the teachings and making them accessible to all.

Rinpoche spends hours upon hours blogging to share his thoughts with the world. His subject matter is extremely varied – from Dharma teachings to UFOs to saving whales to Joan Rivers to Reincarnation to Yetis to Vajrayogini to gifts… the list goes on.

What is not obvious, and deliberately so, is that his blog posts are teachings from the Lamrim – the Tibetan Buddhist ‘bible’ describing the stages in the complete path to Enlightenment as taught by Buddha Shakyamuni, and interpreted by various scholars and sages throughout the ages. In Kechara, we study the Lamrim according to Lama Tsongkhapa, the founder of the Gelugpa tradition.

I remember once one of Rinpoche’s students asked Rinpoche to teach the Lamrim and Rinpoche replied, “What do you think I have been teaching all along?!” When we had a Lamrim reading retreat a couple of years ago (which was the first time I read the Lamrim in detail), I realised that Rinpoche HAD been teaching the Lamrim! Rinpoche just makes it more suitable for our modern, mad lifestyles. Everything just fell into place.

Anyway, this time, we were in a blog retreat, and for most of us who were computer literate, it wasn’t too difficult. For some others though, it was their first time on Facebook, their first time setting up an email account or even, their first time on the computer!

So Jean Ai of e-Division kindly gave us a tutorial. Even those of us who were familiar with these social networking tools learned some new tips. Our oldest participant, Anila, who is 68 years old even bought a computer to help with this assignment.

Every evening during this week, most of us congregated at the Ladrang and spent the entire night typing madly away, emerging at dawn. Although there were a few stressful moments, on the whole, the energy was positive, happy and cheerful. There was a constant supply of food, kindly sponsored by Dharma brothers and sisters, we had air-conditioning, comfortable chairs, Internet connection – everything was perfectly conducive for our retreat.

We also engaged ‘outside help’ – people who were not in our group could contribute to the total number of comments. Sean also helped, which I was very happy with. He stayed up late and never complained – the delicious food probably helped. We even had help from overseas friends like Lily and Keng Nam in London!

We finally concluded this unconventional retreat on Saturday night. It was really an incredible week – exhausting and exhilarating at the same time.

It really was a great retreat which literally benefits so many; our little group became much closer to each other especially as we had literally lived together for that week! In fact I feel a bit sad because I will miss going to the Ladrang and having that camaraderie in the conference room. Although we completed our assignments, we will of course continue visiting Rinpoche’s blog on a daily basis – it’s become quite addictive really. Do take a look if you can, and leave a comment ;)

Follow more of Sharon’s exciting activity on her blog at http://sharonsaw.typepad.com

David Lai

I purchased my first Apple laptop five years ago just to look cool. I know that sounds silly but having a cool laptop and using it to surf, email and chat didn’t seem such a bad idea at the time. Never in my wildest dreams did I think I would be using it for work and that it would even become an essential tool. Well, I didn’t think I would be a writer either but now that I am one, my little Apple laptop is indispensable.

A few years ago, nobody would have believed you if you said that you blogged, or had Facebook or Twitter because of the Dharma. Rinpoche, who is always unconventional and groundbreaking, has embraced all three and made them some of his many tools to spread the good word of Buddha’s wisdom and compassion. And we have recently been engaged in a retreat to write comments and create more interaction on his blog via Twitter and Facebook.

I must say, it was such a rewarding and enriching retreat to learn so much about Rinpoche through his personal writings on the blog. If you are really interested in the Dharma, you too should be reading Rinpoche’s amazing blog at blog.tsemtulku.com too because you would be learning so much!

Follow David’s other weekly adventures on his personal blog at http://davidlai.typepad.com

Jamie Khoo

I’ve been a little less humble than Sharon and David. I’ve been on the blog retreat over the last seven days too and don’t think I’ve ever written as much as I have in that one little week. Read my obnoxious account of the blog retreat on my personal blog (and leave a comment!). Having said that, it’s been the best way to learn – who ever thought that a crazy woman and her dog could be a Lamrim teaching? Or a biographical piece on Liz Taylor, Big Foot, comedies and dolphins for that matter!

Now that the retreat is over, I’m back full force into other writing works. There are so many exciting book projects on that it’s making my head spin! From a revision of the Kechara House Prayer Book, to a biographical memoir of Liaison Henry Ooi; from starting a new book about the power teachings of karma to finalising three episodes of The Dharma Princess Diaries videos… there’s never a dull moment in Kechara.

I’m also on the look out for a junior writer, to assist in the ever-expanding scope of work under KMP. Join our dynamic department (really, KMP is quite special in its loud and exceptionally colourful energy!) and be a part of making Dharma available to people across the globe through reading and writing. Contact me quick, quick at [email protected] before this precious place gets snapped up by someone else!

I’m also dipping my toes into the exciting arena of fundraising – we’ve just kickstarted a charity golf fundraiser in aid of Kechara Soup Kitchen and it looks like I’ll be up to my eyeballs in golf balls pretty soon. Fancy challenging your might on the greens? Look out for more news and you could just be the first winner of the “Kechara Challenge Trophy!”

Apart from that, on a more personal note, I have been battling a phobia of babies, so much so that a doctor even advised I seek professional counselling… I suppose this is what they mean by renunciation, and the calling to be a nun?

Find out what else Jamie is up to on her personal blog at http://jamiekhoo.typepad.com.

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