here's a great writeup by JJ
Last Friday evening, as many were rushing from work downtown to the bus terminals and train stations to get back home, a group of KMP staff and volunteers went downtown to the Bodhi Buddhist Society, near Puduraya, along with KMP full time writer and senior editor Andee to share with members of the society on the ?Eight Verses of Thought Transformation?
A small group of eight of us entered into a Buddhist karaoke session with the rest of the members. It was quite a cultural shock for some of us there who have been pretty much accustomed to the Kechara culture. Nevertheless, people from the Buddhist society moved our hearts as they sang from their hearts, songs and hymns composed and written by some of their own members accompanied by the strummings of a guitar in praise of the enlightened Buddha.
The session was conducted in Chinese as most of them were local university students from a Chinese educational background. There were a few senior members who took the lead in setting up the place. It had a unique altar with a Bamiyan Buddha statue standing aloft within the background of a Dunhuang temple ruin. It was a very interesting session with the society president and co-founder Mr. Wong as the night DJ, leading the singing sessions with members of the crowd. Everyone sang from thick songbooks which were accompanied by power point lyrics presented on the LCD projector.
As the singing session came to a halt, the emcee cum DJ gave a short introduction about Andy to the crowd before inviting him onto the platform to share with members of the society on the 8 Verses of Thought Transformation. Before taking the seat on the platform, Andy presented Mr. Wong with a small gift from KMP as a token of appreciation to have him and members of KMP over to share with them the teachings we?ve learnt.
Andy placed a framed portrait of His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche on the altar as a mark of respect and gratitude for where he got his teachings from. Andy deep humility for Rinpoche won the hearts of those present and gave a small glimpse of what it is like to practice Guru Devotion in the Tibetan Buddhist tradition. Our Dharma brother Bon translated Andy sharing into Mandarin for the benefit of the largely Chinese crowd there. Both Andy and Bon have been discussing and preparing for this event for weeks and Andy had previously met up with Mr. Wong to understand the workings of the Bodhi Buddhist Society.
The session started off with Andy sharing with the crowd of how fortunate everyone there was, compared to others who are not in the Dharma and that we should take full advantage of the opportunities we have to learn and be able to practice the holy Dharma to transform our lives. He then gave a short description of himself, giving his background as a music writer and composer. He related how his career brought his interest to Dharma through the southern tradition which brought him to Thailand a few times and he became eager for more Buddhist teachings. He later found out more about Tibetan Buddhism when his girlfriend introduced him to her teacher, His Eminence Tsem Tulku Rinpoche where he got an e-mail from Rinpoche with the instructions to read and practice the 8 Verses of Thought Transformation. This blew his mind and moved his heart and immediately he cried in inspiration.
Andy then began by explaining the essence of the Mahayana thought of Buddhism which Bodhi Buddhist Society bases their learning from, stressing that the term Mahayana is to liberate both ourselves and others to the state of enlightenment. It is like we are on the same ship and should help others more than ourselves to be free of sufferings. He gave the example that if we get sick, we beget suffering and sadness. But if we change the perspective around and take upon others?sufferings and sadness as our own and provide happiness and comfort in return, it would just turn the light on and bring hope to others.
The real revelation which Andy thought was great to share was the transformation of the mind. As with the Kuan Yin state of mind, the Bodhisattva of Compassion constantly seeks for the sufferings of others and takes them upon himself and bestowing others with happiness. The 8 Verses of Thought Transformation is the condensed form of Buddha most profound teachings on Compassion which Rinpoche had received from His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama over ten years ago and he had cried while listening to His Holiness teach about it.
The session then continued with an intense run down on the 8 verses with Andy explaining verse by verse in very simple and easy to understand terms. Bon had a very enthralling time translating what Andy had presented into Chinese. The audience was in utter awe of Andy presentation and enthusiastically received Bon animated translations. The first 7 verses covered the many events and conditions which help a practitioner in fully utilizing the 8 verses as a means to train the mind to be firm and more compassionate in nature.
As the session approached the last verse, Andy shared that it can be made as a prayer to Kuan Yin, a promise we can make to her Divine Compassionate presence to enhance our lives with more Dharma and to improve our lives with the nourishment of Compassion. It is a determination to ourselves on how we want to improve and an offering to Kuan Yin that we may achieve her enlightened state.
When Andy finished, there was time for one question from the crowd and a lady immediately raised her hand and eagerly posed her long awaited question.. She asked how it was possible to practice the 8 verses when conditions arise where there is an abuse of power and control.
Andy then explained the importance of instilling a Buddhist attitude to accept the law of causality and not to put the blame on others. Only then will one be able to work on and practice the 8 verses with diligence and gain the desired result. He then related the parable of a world filled with thorns which we have to cover completely with leather to ensure we don get hurt or rather, we could just wear leather shoes to protect one feet from getting hurt.
Andy added to the profundity and invaluable application of this practice by stating that the ancient Kadampa masters such as Lord Atisha who lived somewhere between the 11th to 12th century had over 10,000 disciples. However, while he only transmitted the teachings to his two heart disciples, this knowledge is now more openly available in books and the media due to the fact it is more appealing to the people of today than that of the past.
As the session drew to an end, a man stood up to applaud Andy sharing by concluding that a human existence is like that of a mirage and a dream. The key to understanding the 8 verses is by putting much diligence into our practice and seeing that all things cannot be obtained at all. He further commented on the vast and profound teachings of Tibetan Buddhism whereby countless achievements and realizations can be attained within such a short span of a human life.
Mr. Wong then shared his thoughts that he never knew that such a change of perspective in one life is able to make a person much lighter and happier. He then invited Andy to sing a number with his guitar. Andy was like a superstar!When he sang, those present were over awed with his singing and even filmed the entire song on their handphones!
The evening ended with Mr. Wong presenting a token of appreciation to Andy on behalf of the Bodhi Buddhist Society and a song which was entitled ?His Lovelit Image?which the entire crowd sang in English as a gesture of appreciation for our participation.
KMP also set up a little corner with some of our books and DVDs to share with those who were interested. We sold a few books and DVDs but more importantly, we were very happy to be able to bring Dharma to the hearts of people. The KMP crew present that day were all treated to a great Chinatown dinner by Andy who was on cloud nine being able to share with others what he understood and what moved and transformed his life.
Writer: JJ Chong
Senior Editor: Sharon Saw