Monday, April 2, 2012

The Latest Ramblings from South East Asia

Thanks to everyone at Thousand Stars Foundation Bangkok for inviting me again last Saturday. I really enjoyed presenting and exploring the main teachings in the Sutra of Transcendent Wisdom.
As ever, i was also delighted to meet so many good people in one place!
It turns out the Bangkok Post ran a small item about the Dharma Talk and people were inspired to attend having seen it in the paper over breakfast. I must thank Perry from Oklahoma USA and Lisa from Brisbane Australia in particular for their care and support... and Yes, i would be delighted to visit your local dharma centres as soon as the opportunity arises.
I was also thrilled to meet Soraj Hongladarom - Professor of Philosophy at the esteemed Chulalongkorn University, Bangkok - who very kindly invited me to guest-lecture later in 2012 on Buddhist Philosophy.
I really look forward to visiting the Thousand Stars Retreat Centre near Hua Hin at the first possible opportunity. It is in the mountains between Thailand and Burma, by a lake... a little piece [or is it 'peace'?] of Tibet in the heart of the tropics!
We went to Wat Pho [Temple] on the river in Bangkok the other day. Was blown away by the whole place. This is a glimpse of the ENORMOUS reclining Buddha. Many people think this reclining Buddha image depicts the Buddha having a little lie-down. Actually it shows practitioners the most famous physical posture to be adopted when passing away... This is the Buddha at the moment of death.

Just as we were about to leave Wat Pho - the day was 38C and 90% humidity - we heard the monks starting to chant Evening Prayers... so we followed the sound to this large hall to the rear of the main temple complex... O My BUDDHA! ... what sounds and sights awaited us there! Joining the small crowd gathered, and rooted to the spot, we sat for ages allowing the phenomenon to wash over us, reduced to tears...


Off up-river tomorrow to visit Ayutthaya which is the site of the ancient capital and main temples of the Kingdom of Siam.
Then to the island of Koh Samet with our visiting friend Doreen for a few days on the beach 
... thinking of travelling in Cambodia soon... maybe returning to Ireland at the beginning of May.
For now, i am occupied with the continuing saga of trying to retrieve all the data from my crashed hard disk... which i failed to back up [Yikes!], ever [YIKES!]... 
 The worst of it is not so much the personal stuff on there which i would rather not lose, of course, but all the research and first-draft writing that constitutes the makings of four new books.
I am also occupied with closely following the apparent election of Aung San Suu Kyi in neighbouring Burma. It seems - although still unofficial - that Suu has swept to an historic victory and is now a member of parliament!
But perhaps the most unusually challenging and spiritually inspiring matter on my dharma radar right now is the recent passing of the well-known Tibetan Kagyu lama Tenga Rinpoche.
 This is a photo of Rinpoche AFTER he died on Friday morning. Although his heart and brain have ceased to live, like so many other Buddhist saints after death he is actually remaining in profound meditation... his body sitting upright.
It is extremely rare to have a photo like this made so widely available. The reason this one has been shared with us is to inspire us not just to live but to die well. By seeing Rinpoche in this 'Tukdam' state, we are witnessing the fact that death is not the grim finality we often assume it to be... also that there is much more to each one of us than the physical shell I currently call 'Me'.
Tenga Rinpoche is expected to use his dead body as a sign in this manner for quite some time. The cremation date is set May 18th.
The scene is his monastery in Kathmandu and the room will remain a private, quiet space where his close students and loved ones will visit and bask in his continued sacred presence. But mostly the room will be closed off. In these now very rare circumstances, the chakra at the master's heart centre usually continues to emit a warm glow and there is no decomposition of the body whatsoever - even in a hot climate! The only change that may or may not occur is that the body may shrink uniformly. There can also be a phenomenon known as 'rainbow light' both in the room itself and in the sky outdoors. To read more uplifting details about Tenga Rinpoche's terminal illness, passing on, and subsequent Tukdam State, please click HERE
Happy Days!

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