Author Archives: phong

One cell in the disease…

Breast cancer cell

The World Wildlife Foundation reports a 50% loss in wild animal populations in the past 40 years, due to human activities.

Meanwhile, the power of the human mind is being obscured by menial robotic tasks. Human brains such as my own are made into endless logic processing mechanisms which reiterate mathematical patterns and machine programming functions for hours each day. The body of the human animal is repressed, and the mind is converted into a robot. I spend free time sometimes just researching new computer languages to learn. I find it challenging to find the time to learn other languages to talk with humans, and I only speak and write fluently in one language, english. There are at least 6 machine syntaxes that I can write with fairly fluently.

It is as though this killing of the animals is an outward expression of the killing of our own animal nature. By living in virtual reality, I become less human and more machine.

Today I was contemplating death in the context that humans are a disease on this planet. Humans have strangled, scoured and burnt the earth’s subtle ecologies, and each one of us is simply one cell of this disease. Despite our individual delusions of grandeur, without a high powered telescope, not a single human can be seen even from space.

What does it matter if one cell of this disease of humanity passes away? What is there to be concerned about – death? What am I really, more than a pattern re-organizing other patterns in virtual space? What is the true meaning of these patterns if it all simply amounts to it’s own end? The death of animals, the out-dating of technology, and then eventually I myself will die.

The animal in me is still disturbed by the prospect of death, yet the robot in me sees that both life and death are meaningless.

Silent Illumination

Silently and serenely, one forgets all words.
Clearly and vividly, it appears before you.
When one realizes it, time has no limits.
When experienced, your surroundings come to life.
Singularly illuminating is this bright awareness.
Full of wonders is the pure illumination.
The moon’s appearance, a river of stars,
Snow-covered pines, clouds hovering on mountain peaks.
In darkness, they glow with brightness.
In shadows, they shine with a splendid light.
Like dreaming of a crane flying in open space.
Like the clear, still water of an autumn pool.
Endless eons dissolve into nothingness,
Each indistinguishable from the other.
In this illumination all striving is forgotten.
Where does this wonder exist?
Brightness and clarity dispel confusion.
On the path of Silent Illumination,
The origin of the tiniest.
To penetrate the extremely small,
There is the gold shuttle on a loom of jade.
Subject and object influence each other.
Light and darkness are mutually dependent.
There is neither mind nor world to rely on,
Yet do the two interact, mutually.
Drink the medicine of correct views.
Beat the poison-spread drum.
When silence and illumination are complete,
Killing and bringing to life are choices I make.
At last, through the door, one emerges.
The fruit has ripened on the branch.
Only this Silence is the ultimate teaching.
Only this Illumination, the universal responds.
The response is without effort.
The teaching, not heard with ears.
Throughout the universe,
All things emit light and speak the Dharma.
They testify to each other.
Answering each other’s questions,
Responding in perfect harmony.
When Silent Illumination is complete,
The lotus will blossom, the dreamer will awaken.
The hundred rivers flow to the ocean.
The thousand mountains face the loftiest peak.
Like the goose preferring milk to water,
Like a busy bee gathering pollen.
When Silent Illumination reaches the ultimate,
I carry on the original tradition of my sect.
This practice is called Silent Illumination.
It penetrates from the deepest to the highest.

Hung-chih Cheng-chüeh (1091-1157)
A monk of the Ts’ao-tung (Japanese, Sōtō) line of Ch’an, known as the author of a collection of poetry and kōans, and the founder of the ‘Hung-chih’ line within the Ts’ao-tung school, and as an avid proponent of the ‘silent illumination’ (Chinese, mo-chao Ch’an) style of meditation.

Now I know myself as the Lion of cosmic power


Prayer from the book “Whispers from Eternity”
By Paramhansa Yogananda.
I, a lion-cub of the Divine Mother, found myself thrown into life among the sheep of human frailties: ofe fear, failure, and disease. Living long among them, I learned to bleat with weakness, forgetting my lion-nature and its roars, which could frighten away all petty, pestering sorrows. O Lion of Realization, Thou didst drag me away from those bleating sheep to the mirror-smooth waters of meditation. There didst Thou cry, “Gaze!” But I held my eyes tightly shut, bleating with fear. Thy roar of wisdom then reverberated through my body. Thou madest me, by hard shaking and spiritual urging, open my eyes. And there, lo! in the crystal pool of my inner peace, I saw my features to be even as Thine own! Now I know mysel as the Lion of cosmic power. I will bleat no more with fear, weakness, and suffering, for I roar, now, with vibrant, almighty power! I bound about through the forest of all experiences, seizing little creatures of veixing worries, timid fears, and wild hyenas of disbelief, devouring them ruthlessy. O Lion of Immortality, roar through me Thine all-conquering power of wisdom!

Karmapa on ‘Definite Emergence’


SOURCE – After the initial introduction, His Holiness turned to the topic of renunciation, or “definite emergence”—the clear understanding that all samsara, or cyclic existence, is suffering in nature, and the wish to definitely emerge from that. The Gyalwang Karmapa cautioned against assuming samsara is something external and separate from us. Samsara includes not only the world around us, but also exists within us and is produced by our own troubled emotional state. Addressing the largely Western audience, His Holiness noted that there is a tendency to confuse subtle forms of suffering with pleasure. As a result, we end up exerting ourselves greatly, chasing more suffering. Quoting the 8th Gyalwang Karmapa, His Holiness stated that all authentic independence is happiness, while all lack of freedom is suffering. He went on to explain that this authentic independence is something to be cultivated and an attitude that can be developed, focusing on freedom from karmic cause and effect and emotional disturbances.

Puttamansa Sutta: A Son’s Flesh

Desert Journey

(The Buddha // Samyutta Nikaya, SN 12.63)

At Savatthi… “There are these four nutriments for the maintenance of beings who have come into being or for the support of those in search of a place to be born. Which four? Physical food, gross or refined; contact as the second, intellectual intention the third, and consciousness the fourth. These are the four nutriments for the maintenance of beings who have come into being or for the support of those in search of a place to be born.

“And how is physical food to be regarded? Suppose a couple, husband & wife, taking meager provisions, were to travel through a desert. With them would be their only baby son, dear & appealing. Then the meager provisions of the couple going through the desert would be used up & depleted while there was still a stretch of the desert yet to be crossed. The thought would occur to them, ‘Our meager provisions are used up & depleted while there is still a stretch of this desert yet to be crossed. What if we were to kill this only baby son of ours, dear & appealing, and make dried meat & jerky. That way — chewing on the flesh of our son — at least the two of us would make it through this desert. Otherwise, all three of us would perish.’ So they would kill their only baby son, loved & endearing, and make dried meat & jerky. Chewing on the flesh of their son, they would make it through the desert. While eating the flesh of their only son, they would beat their breasts, [crying,] ‘Where have you gone, our only baby son? Where have you gone, our only baby son?’ Now what do you think, monks: Would that couple eat that food playfully or for intoxication, or for putting on bulk, or for beautification?”

“No, lord.”

“Wouldn’t they eat that food simply for the sake of making it through that desert?”

“Yes, lord.”

“In the same way, I tell you, is the nutriment of physical food to be regarded. When physical food is comprehended, passion for the five strings of sensuality is comprehended. When passion for the five strings of sensuality is comprehended, there is no fetter bound by which a disciple of the noble ones would come back again to this world.

“And how is the nutriment of contact to be regarded? Suppose a flayed cow were to stand leaning against a wall. The creatures living in the wall would chew on it. If it were to stand leaning against a tree, the creatures living in the tree would chew on it. If it were to stand exposed to water, the creatures living in the water would chew on it. If it were to stand exposed to the air, the creatures living in the air would chew on it. For wherever the flayed cow were to stand exposed, the creatures living there would chew on it. In the same way, I tell you, is the nutriment of contact to be regarded. When the nutriment of contact is comprehended, the three feelings [pleasure, pain, neither pleasure nor pain] are comprehended. When the three feelings are comprehended, I tell you, there is nothing further for a disciple of the noble ones to do.

“And how is the nutriment of intellectual intention to be regarded? Suppose there were a pit of glowing embers, deeper than a man’s height, full of embers that were neither flaming nor smoking, and a man were to come along — loving life, hating death, loving pleasure, abhorring pain — and two strong men, having grabbed him by the arms, were to drag him to the pit of embers. To get far away would be that man’s intention, far away would be his wish, far away would be his aspiration. Why is that? Because he would realize, ‘If I fall into this pit of glowing embers, I will meet with death from that cause, or with death-like pain.’ In the same way, I tell you, is the nutriment of intellectual intention to be regarded. When the nutriment of intellectual intention is comprehended, the three forms of craving [for sensuality, for becoming, and for non-becoming] are comprehended. When the three forms of craving are comprehended, I tell you, there is nothing further for a disciple of the noble ones to do.

“And how is the nutriment of consciousness to be regarded? Suppose that, having arrested a thief, a criminal, they were to show him to the king: ‘This is a thief, a criminal for you, your majesty. Impose on him whatever punishment you like.’ So the king would say, ‘Go, men, and shoot him in the morning with a hundred spears.’ So they would shoot him in the morning with a hundred spears. Then the king would say at noon, ‘Men, how is that man?’ ‘Still alive, your majesty.’ So the king would say, ‘Go, men, and shoot him at noon with a hundred spears.’ So they would shoot him at noon with a hundred spears. Then the king would say in the evening, ‘Men, how is that man?’ ‘Still alive, your majesty.’ So the king would say, ‘Go, men, and shoot him in the evening with a hundred spears.’ So they would shoot him in the evening with a hundred spears. Now what do you think, monks: Would that man, being shot with three hundred spears a day, experience pain & distress from that cause?”

“Even if he were to be shot with only one spear, lord, he would experience pain & distress from that cause, to say nothing of three hundred spears.”

“In the same way, I tell you, monks, is the nutriment of consciousness to be regarded. When the nutriment of consciousness is comprehended, name & form are comprehended. When name & form are comprehended, I tell you, there is nothing further for a disciple of the noble ones to do.”

Portrait of Shakyamuni Buddha

Shakyamuni Buddha

I received this image from a Zen Center in BC Canada. The Nun who gave it said that this is an authentic portrait of what Shakyamuni Buddha actually looked like. You can see that he is wearing baba style earrings, and has a Nepalese / Mongolian face.

Underneath in Mandarin was written :

“This is the only true portrait of a Sakyamuni Buddha during his lifetime.

“Is one of the ten disciples of the Buddha Punna Venerable. Blessed One was 41-year-old when painting.

“Today the collection in the British Museum, is considered a British national treasure.


Gyalwang Karmapa’s Teaching on “Three Primary Elements of the Path”

Karmapa 17

Compiled from { }

Day 1

December 21, 2012

Introductory remarks

The grand Monlam Pavilion, with seating for about 10,000 monks and laypeople, is ablaze with colour in the darkness of early morning. Metal beams spanning the great height of the ceiling are draped with red and gold pleated banners giving an impression of sun rays beaming from Mount Kailash at the back of the stage.

It creates an eloquent statement about both the Buddhist tradition and the Kagyu lineage which the Karmapa uses to great effect in making his opening remarks. The theme that weaves throughout the talk is the essential unity of Buddhist schools and the destructiveness of schisms. Mount Kailash – sacred to 3 Eastern religions- towers above all.

The main teaching of the Monlam is Je Tsong Khapa’s Three Primary Elements of the Path. This particular text was chosen for the Monlam because the commentary is by the first Jamgon Kongtrul, Lodro Thaye, and the 30th Monlam is dedicated to the Kongtrul lineage. Lodro Thaye set a precedent as the Rime [non-sectarian] master who broke through the barriers of Tibetan sectarianism in the nineteenth century.

To introduce the teaching, the Karmapa explained the connection between the Karmapas and Je Tsong Khapa, “the king of dharma”. In an historic meeting on his way to China (or on the way back) the 4th Karmapa, Rolpe Dorje met a child whom he recognised. He predicted “this boy will become like a second Buddha”, gave him the Upasaka vows and a name, Kunga Chenpo. The child was Tsong Khapa.

Through the blessing of Manjushri, Tsong Khapa had a special experience and realised the Madhyamika view coming from Nagarjuna. He also held the lineage of Atisha and practised the Vinaya to such perfection that no one could dispute his conduct; although some people disputed his view of Madhyamika. “He was a great master,” said the Karmapa. The three primary elements of the path are renunciation, bodhicitta and right view. These three elements are the foundation for even crossing the threshold of either sutra or mantra.

“The most important way of honouring the great masters is to understand their experiences and try to practice what they have taught. There is no better way to honour the teacher. Jamgon Kongtrul wrote countless books and out of them all, this one is very useful.”

Continue reading

The Three Primary Elements of the Path


PDF } By the Great Lord Tsongkhapa, King of Dharma // Translation from Tibetan by Ivonne Prieto Rose 

I prostrate to the venerable masters, the lamas!

1. As far as I am able, I shall explain
The essential meaning of all the excellent teachings of the Buddha,
The path acclaimed by genuine bodhisattvas,
The route for the fortunate who yearn for freedom!

2. Those unattached to the pleasures of existence,
Who strive to make the freedoms and assets meaningful,
Fortunate ones with confidence in the path that delights the Buddha—
Listen with sincere faith!

3. Other than pure renunciation, there is no way to pacify
The quest for happy results in the ocean of samsaric existence.
Because lust for existence completely shackles all creatures,
From the very start, pursue renunciation.

4. Habituating the mind to the rarity of the freedoms and assets and that in life there is no time to waste
Reverses preoccupation with this life.
Repeatedly contemplating the unerring process of action and result and the sufferings of samsara
Reverses preoccupation with future lives.

5. Accordingly, when, due to habituation, the prosperity of samsara
Does not elicit even a moment’s longing,
And the mindset that strives for freedom at all times, day and night, emerges,
At that point, renunciation has indeed arisen.

6. Nevertheless, if renunciation is not embraced by bodhicitta,
It will not serve as the cause
For the bliss of perfect and complete unsurpassed enlightenment.
Therefore, the wise generate the supreme mind of awakening.

7. Carried off by the raging currents of the four rivers,
Bound by the tight fetters of karma, so hard to undo,
Enmeshed in the iron net of self-clinging,
Completely shrouded in the pitch-black darkness of ignorance, 8. Tormented by the three sufferings without respite
Through birth after birth in the infinite round of existence—
Such is the condition of your mothers!
Contemplating their plight, rouse the supreme motivation!

9. Lacking the prajna that realizes the basic nature,
Even if habituated to renunciation and bodhicitta,
One is powerless to sever the roots of cyclic existence.
Therefore, exert yourself in the methods for realizing interdependence.

10. Whoever sees that cause and result never errs
In the context of all the phenomena of samsara and nirvana
Vanquishes all conceptual reference points whatsoever.
Such a one engages the path that delights the buddhas.

11. The unerring interdependent arising of appearances
And emptiness free of assertions—
As long as you experience these two understandings independently,
You have not yet realized the intent of the Buddha.

12. Eventually they are simultaneous rather than alternating,
Such that, at the mere glimpse of undeceiving interdependence,
Certainty subdues all conceptual perspectives regarding objects.
That is when you have indeed perfected the analysis of view.

13. In addition, when appearances eradicate the extreme of existence,
Emptiness eliminates the extreme of nonexistence,
And you know how emptiness manifests as cause and result,
You will not be captivated by extreme views.

14. When you have accurately realized the key points
Consisting of the three primary elements of the path in this way,
Take up solitude, my child, exerting yourself mightily
To swiftly accomplish the ultimate aim!


The extremely learned monk, the glorious Lobsang Drakpa, taught this to Ngawang Drakpa, a leader of the  Tsakpo region.  


Travelling the Path of Compassion (17)

Even if another were to cut off our head
Though we had not the slightest fault,
To take on their negativity
With compassion is the practice of a bodhisattva.

 Ngulchu Thogme Zangpo

Lama Zopa Rinpoche // “We are living life in a total hallucination”

Lama Zopa Rinpoche, with fading health, gives a mind blowing teaching on the nature of reality.

Lama Zopa Rinpoche

“I, action, object, and all phenomenon, have enlightenment nirvana – the whole thing all phenomenon and materiality, comes from phenomenon. Showing what reality is comes in meditation.

“When you encounter problems in daily life, our minds should be aware … the entire thing we believe, action, going coming, sleeping, eating, money, the whole thing is a hallucination. It appears truly existent and it is believed, it appears real, though we are living life in a total hallucination.

“There is no real present or a real ‘I’, that is a hallucination. Illusion of money and food is an illusion. It’s really fascinating, fantastic, you really enjoy, this is the best TV or movie, the best scenery, everything is totally interesting.

“So in our busy life, meditation on emptiness is the very heart of Buddhism.