Sunday, March 04, 2007

Day of Miracles

Yesterday was the day of Miracles - when whatever good deeds we do get multiplied by 100 million times. Sounds good, doesn't it. It started off past midnight (technically an extension of Friday night, when we had a fundraising dinner).. so I quickly took the opportunity to give a small donation and hoped it would translate to some merit. I idly wondered what was the current exchange rate for merit. By 1.50 am or thereabouts, we'd raised over RM108,000 - yay! It had been a fabulous dinner/party/auction... everything went flawlessly because of the hard work of the team. May you all gain a trillion merits!

Anyway on Saturday I decided to do my write up for the dinner instead of chatting on the internet, and in the evening, I wanted to go for the KSK (Kechara Soup Kitchen). It was raining hard and GL who was supposed to come with me had to cancel because something came up. I smsed David and Joseph to see if they were going but they had other commitments so while I was contemplating how I would get to Semua House, JJ and Meng Kiat kindly offered to pick me up Yay! So at 6.30pm, JJ, Meng Kiat, Eng Shan, Karen and I walked around Masjid India, looking for the homeless to offer food to.

It is an interesting process because firstly, you're walking around the pasar malam where there is so much delicious food on offer, and instead of shopping for food for yourself, you're looking for people to give food to. Fortunately the rain didn't last very long - i suspect Rinpoche had something to do with that!

We finished by around 9.15pm and Meng Kiat offered to drop me home, but i managed to catch a lift with Ben instead. Just as Ben and i were leaving the car park, someone wanted to borrow car jumper cables, which Ben happened to have - yay - more merits for Ben!

I finally reached home around 9.45pm and hopped into the shower. THen, I took Sean along to KH for migtsema... the hours were running out and the Day of Miracles was ending too fast! I only did four rounds when Sean piped up that he was tired. I had wanted to do six rounds but since it was almost 11.30 pm by then, I relented and took him home.

At almost midnight, I went over to Pyng's for dinner. Serina was cooking but I had told them I would be late. When I rolled up, Swee had also just arrived and took the last spot on the driveway so I had to cruise around Bangsar looking for parking. Not an easy task but I found one a short stroll away. Then when I got into Pyng's, they said the food was finished. I hadn't realised how hungry I was and was about to cry (yes, I'm so attached). I was thinking - so much for Day of Miracles... my karma must be so crap. At first, no parking then no food. Pout. Anyway Pyng raided her fridge and got me some yummy sambal prawns and rice which i devoured and felt so much better. Isn't suffering so transient.

By 1.30ish am, I was ready to pass out and went home. I hadn't done as much as I wanted to and definitely not as much as I should have, but I hope I got a few millimerits more and will just have to work a lot harder for the rest of the year.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Walking with the Buddha

A couple of days ago, i went to pick up webbie from the ladrang for dinner. As i was just round the corner, she rang and said Rinpoche wants to go for a walk at TTDI park, do you want to come? I was more than happy to - but i was wearing clothes for dinner, not for walking! When i arrived, Jenny Wong lent me a pair of brightly coloured shorts which came down to my knees, and Webbie had a spare T shirt in her drawer which i quickly changed into. They decided to go in my car but I was a bit nervous about driving Rinpoche so i asked Jenny to drive instead. I sat in the back with Webbie and we waited for Rinpoche outside his house.

He got into the front seat of the car and being over 6 foot tall, he had to push back the seat to the max. My previously spacious toyota altis seemed filled with Rinpoche! It was a quick drive to the park and the park was quite deserted at 7.30ish in the evening. Rinpoche had brought handfuls of fruits to feed the monkeys, and they scampered up as they saw us. "Look, they remember me," Rinpoche said with a smile. He whispered om mani padme hum as he happily doled out the fruit to the group of congregating monkeys. We also brought nuts which were strewn in corners for the monkeys to help themselves.

When all the fruits and nuts were given out, we started to walk round the park. Rinpoche's stride is like twice any of ours and we trotted to keep up. We talked about a variety of subjects - from the frivilous to serious - and the two and a half hours passed in a blink of an eye. If not for a blister on my foot and my muscles which were objecting to the uncommon demand to move, i could have walked all night. During the walk, Rinpoche had kindly advised me on some personal matters and that i should let go of certain attachments which made things much clearer for me.

It was such a luxury to have the precious opportunity to walk with the Buddha. I hope he'll invite me again :)

Monday, February 05, 2007

The kindness of my Guru

Gosh - it's been an age since i last wrote in my blog! I've been so busy that blogging was the last thing on my mind...So many things have happened - and i'm not about to rechronicle them all in one long monologue.

I'd just like to share something that happened in December last year.

Webby, her mum, Sean, Pyng, GL, Serina, Pik Choo and myself had booked to go skiing in Whistler in December. The trip had been booked almost a year ago. I hadn't skied for over 10 years and couldn't wait. It promised to be a fabulous trip!

Then one Sunday morning, a week before our departure, i received an SMS early in the morning - it was a message from my Guru, advising that i don't ski. I was caught in a flux of emotions - disappointment and gratitude. I shed some tears of disappointment that i couldn't ski, but yet i was so touched and thankful that Rinpoche is looking out for someone as insignificant as me. He has so many students - how does he look after them all, i wondered.

Anyway, i pulled myself out of the disappointment and dwelled in the gratitude of my Guru's kindness. Around that time, the writers group were going to be given a project of transcribing a marathon 3 day talk of Rinpoche's and publishing it as a book in one month. Webby and i knew we were going to be travelling so we had been wracking our heads how to do our portion of work.

When i received the sms advice that i shouldn't ski, i replied to Rinpoche to thank him for his kind advice and that on the bright side, i could do more transcribing!

Anyway, i had happily accepted the fact that i wasn't going to ski - after all, i could even save money as i wouldn't be renting skis and buying the ski pass. When i told some of my friends about Rinpoche's advice, they had asked me - so are you going to ski? I was like.. dur.. of course not!!

On Wednesday, the first day of the 3 day marathon teaching began.

Rinpoche came in, sat down and asked me to come up front..

i was a bit taken aback and wondered what i'd done wrong! I felt like i was back in school and was summoned by the teacher to the front of the class.

i sat down in front of him and i don't remember his exact words because i was already in a daze but he said said something to the effect that because i had faith in his advice and would follow it without question, that faith would allow him to do a ritual which would remove the obstacles that were before me. The ritual was dependent on the subject's faith - if i didn't have faith in my Guru, the ritual wouldn't work.

After the ritual, he smiled and said to me, "Now, you can ski.."

i was completely dumbstruck.

As i wrote to Rinpoche later, thanking him again, whether i could ski or not ski - to me, that was irrelevant. What touched me so deeply was his kindness. His advice to me not to go skiing was already more than enough kindness, yet to go through the time and effort of removing the obstacles simply showed his sincere compassion for little schmucks like me.

It may not be a big deal to other people but it was a huge deal for me.

Everyday, i am grateful for Rinpoche's selfless kindness - his kindness in spreading the Dharma through his teachings, directly and indirectly, and his patience with me - and am thankful for just having the merits to be in his presence.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Oops I did it again...

Yes. Barely a few days after celebrating four years of being together, i did it again. Webby told me in no uncertain terms that i was too impatient and had a lot of issues with Christianity.

It all started when we were at Pyng & Sheryl's - my cuz, Choo was there, she was a born again Christian. And we started talking about Christianity. You know what they say - when making small talk, never talk about religion and politics. Those two subjects are completely taboo. They just happen to be my favorite topics, especially religion, so in i happily splashed, jumping eagerly in where angels fear to tread.

They were talking about being 'slain' - where the Holy Spirit 'slays' you by knocking you over with a feather. I was quite interested in this phenomenon, and knowing Webby was a missionary before, i enthusiastically turned to her and asked, "So, can you do that?"

She replied, "No, no one can do that.."

Then i lost it.

All compassion and right view and all that jazz went singing out of the window before you could say hallelujah.

I just snapped because i felt she was joshing me - i felt that she knew what i wanted to know yet gave me the usual crap (see .. so freaking judgemental) about oh we don't do anything, it's all the Holy Spirit.. it reminded me of the time i met this healer called Christopher. I said to him in passing, oh so i hear you do healing? And he said, no i don't - Jesus Christ is the healer, not me. At first i was scornful, then after thinking about it, i thought that at least it was humility there, not claiming responsibility for one's talents. But it did nark me a bit. So when Webby said that, it just threw me in a spin so i went off to join Pyng outside on the deck while i calmed down.

When we got home, of course the issue came up - she wanted to know why i was so upset. So i explained that firstly, it was the way she answered - if she had said yes or no then qualified it, that would be fine.

She said that she would have explained more further if i'd given her the chance but i'd stormed off. And that it was usual Christian jargon.

Agreed i'd stormed off, but i still felt that if she had replied the way i (see.. ego again) wanted, it would've been ok. And that i knew it was Christian jargon but i was hoping she would be able to give me an answer without the jargon.

She of course disagreed and said that she answered the best she could.

I thought about it and agreed that 1) i was too impatient, i wanted the answer my way and when i didn't get it, i got pissed off. Learning - be more patient. Tell your ego to fuck off. 2) i have huge issues with Christianity - she thinks i want to bash it up, but i actually want to know what is the truth. Does the Christian God exist? Does Jesus exist as portrayed in the Bible? Is the Bible the real deal etc. Learning - don't get so hung up on Christianity and don't judge whether a religion is so called better than the other. Underline "don't" many times.

So me bad, as usual.

I decided to go out for a walk. Check out the twin moons thingy. Apparently Mars was going to be visible from earth, so i gazed at the sky but all i saw was cloud. A bit like seeing the inside of my head really.

So after a stroll round the block i came home and decided to do a hundred prostrations to quell my patience and get over my ego. Ok, i know a hundred aint much but to me, who hadn't done a hundred since May?.. it was a big deal.

At least when i was done, i was too tired to feel pissed off anymore. Maybe that's what's meant by purifying one's negativity.


Friday, August 25, 2006

Egg donation II

Well, the two weeks of agonising waiting are up - and the news wasn't good. The pregnancy test was negative and the potential mother-to-be had stopped taking her hormonal tablets.

They were disappointed.

We were disappointed.

Pooi Lam was disappointed.

I think we were more disappointed because we didn't really think it would have failed. I couldn't really believe it when i heard. I empathised with Mr & Mrs HK - especially as this was considered the last resort for them.

As for us, i guess the karma for MH to have a child somewhere in the world just wasn't there.

For now anyway.

Monday, August 14, 2006

The Eight Verses of Thought Transformation

Over the weekend, i was proofreading Rinpoche's soon to be published book on 'The Eight Verses of Thought Transformation' - it's fabulous.. i can't describe how fabulous this teaching is. It's like my heart bursting!

Just at the begining of the book, Rinpoche says that all Dharma activities must be FREE from the eight worldly concerns, which are:

to be happy when we are praised,
to be unhappy when we are insulted.
to be happy when we receive any gifts,
to be unhappy if we don't.
to be happy upon achieving reputation,
to be unhappy when we are unsuccessful.
to be happy when we are comfortable,
to be unhappy when we are not.

Rinpoche says "it will be better to memorise those eight worldly concerns than a hundred tantric practices and I am not trying to blow your mind away." But he did!

My mind is completely blown.

How often am i subject to these eight concerns and don't even think about it.

It was such a revelation - and it was only the beginning.

The actual Eight Verses of Thought Transformation was written down by Geshe Langri Tangpa but originated from Bodhisattvacharyavatara by Shantideva and of course from Buddha Shakyamuni:

With the determination to accomplish
The highest welfare for all sentient beings
Who surpass even a wish-granting jewel
I will learn to hold them supremely dear.

Whenever I associate with others I will learn
To think of myself as the lowest among all
And respectfully hold others to be supreme
From the very depths of my heart

In all actions I will learn to search into my mind
And as soon as an afflictive emotion arises
Endangering myself and others
Will firmly face and avert it.

I will learn to cherish all beings of bad nature
And those pressed by strong sins and sufferings
As if I had found a precious
Treasure very difficult to find.

When others out of jealousy treat me badly
With abuse, slander, and so on,
I will learn to take all loss
And offer the victory to them.

When one whom I have benefited with great hope
Unreasonably hurts me very badly,
I will learn to view that person
As an excellent spiritual guide.

In short, I will learn to offer to everyone without exception
All help and happiness directly and indirectly
And respectfully take upon myself
All harm and suffering of my mothers.

I will learn to keep all these practices
Undefiled by the stains of the eight worldly conceptions
And by understanding all phenomena as like illusions
Be released from the bondage of attachment.

Absolutely fabulous.

Rinpoche gives a great elucidation of exactly what these Eight verses mean so you MUST MUST MUST get the book when it comes out - please email me at to order a copy!!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Egg donation

A few months back, Pooi Lam had idly mentioned to me in passing that one of her friends, who is based in Hong Kong, was very desperate to conceive a child but IVF had failed and they were looking for an egg donor. I, in turn, idly mentioned it in passing to my friend, MH. MH and i briefly talked about how difficult it is to want to have a child and yet can't have one and then moved on to another topic.

A couple of days later, the topic came up again and somehow, MH thought it would be good to help out this couple, so we told PL that MH was thinking of becoming an egg donor and what did she think. PL relayed the message back to her friend and her friend suggested that MH go to the fertility doctor for a check up to make sure all is well. MH agreed and off we went to the clinic.

At the cosy clinic in Damansara Heights, Dr. P, a softly spoken gentleman, asked her a few pointed questions - like did she know that she would have NO rights to the child, and was she intending to have children of her own etc. He was concerned that she knew who the recepient of the eggs were. In his experience, he said, it was always better for the egg donor and recepient to be anonymous. This way would stop prevent complications such as the donor being attached to the child. He even suggested that MH donate her eggs but it be given to another recepient and another donor's eggs be given to PL's friend. However, MH said that if it was anonymous, she wouldn't really be interested in donating - it was specifically because she wanted to help this couple. i've wondered what karma was involved here!

After ascertaining that MH was being a donor for the right reasons, he gave her a check up and blood test which turned up all OK. As time was running short, PL's friend decided to fly to KL to see MH. The meeting was important to both parties to see if they clicked. So the couple and their first child (also conceived by IVF - but subsequent procedures failed, which was why they were told that the only way forward was to get an egg donor)arrived in KL for the following weekend.

The meeting was good - everyone got along well. MH thought the family was nice and vice versa so the deal was on! The procedure was timed for August to coincide with the school holidays so the HK lady come over with her son. She needed to be in KL for around two weeks for the process.

A couple of months passed with reports of MH's monthly periods to all concerned - including PL - as the 'matchmaker'! Finally in July, on the second day of MH's period, PL took her back to the clinic. MH was given a set of daily injections to encourage all the eggs to ovulate.

She was warned that the injections would make her PMS more directly proportional to the number of eggs. Can you imagine if you normally PMS over one egg ovulating per month - this time, she would be PMSing over 7 eggs ovulating. It was certainly a daunting prospect.

I came back from Taiwan after MH had been taking the injections for a couple of days. She seemed ok but tired. I usually faint at the sight of needles but after hearing about how important PL deemed her husband to empathise with her IVF injections, i tried my best to support MH. The week passed quickly. Mrs. HK arrived the following Monday and she and MH had to both go to Dr. P to make sure both their bodies were in synch. Basically, that MH's eggs were growing at the same rate as Mrs. HK's uterus was getting ready to receive the future embryo. They were both on track.

In addition to MH's daily injection, she now had an additional one in the mornings. I must say MH bore all this tremendously well - there was no sign of the dreaded crankiness - instead, i seemed to be the one suffering from PMS (see my previous post)! The only side effect was extreme tiredness. i felt tremendous admiration for MH - to go through all this for the benefit of another. i don't think i could have done it myself.

The procedure was scheduled last Saturday morning. The day before, we were going to have dinner with PL, Mr. & Mrs. HK, but the final injection on the Thursday which was for the eggs to mature, just knocked MH off. She was feeling quite ill and we cancelled dinner.

Early on Saturday, MH went into the hospital for surgery to harvest the eggs, which took about half an hour. Dr. P had seen a polyp in her uterus in the ultrasound scan and had previously told her that it should be removed at sometime or another, so he removed it as well.

Mr. HK had arrived a couple of days before and was at the hospital on Sunday to make his contribution to the process. Mrs. HK and PL were also there to visit MH. The surgery went well, and Mr. HK's semen was mixed with MH's eggs and there was nothing left to do except wait til Tuesday to see which eggs were fertilized.

So yesterday, we all assembled at the hospital again and found that only three eggs were fertilized and those were implanted in Mrs. HK.

Now we have to wait two weeks before we find out whether the embryo developed.

It's been quite an amazing experience to have witnessed this entire process. Let's pray that all goes well and hopefully in nine months, we will have another bundle of joy in the world.