A Garland of Protection
By Chou Chuen
Perfectly Enlightened Mother, please protect us beginners on the Path!
Sipping coffee and museum hopping in London with a monk that I barely knew. That was how my journey into the Chokling Tesar lineage started in 2012. Through a chance encounter, I got to know this affable looking monk brimming with warmth. You cannot fail to notice Tulku Migmar’s brilliance, his set of teeth as well.
Before we parted our ways, in his hand was a book on the twenty-one Taras and he extended her gracefully to me. I knew this was the beginning of something special as in my heart I was looking for Her.
As someone trained in the tradition of positivism, a part of me always try to brush aside mystical encounters. I once remarked to Kyabgon Phakchok Rinpoche that rainbows are natural phenomena and followers marvelling their occurrences as signs are mere victims of confirmation bias. He only laughed at me.
Thereafter, rainbows, one after another, keep appearing and they were all connected by mantras. Eventually, I became known as the “rainbow guy”. Guru Rinpoche must have kindly manifested to defeat the extreme of positivism before my eyes. Please do not think I am a good practitioner. I am far from it. After all, those with faith do not need rainbows to jolt them. Magical enchantments aplenty, I leave them for future stories.
I heard many stereotypes about mantra practitioners. If not for the fear of loss, we have been said to be practicing for the sake of gain. There is always some truth to stereotypes, but this is not what I learnt from Phakchok Rinpoche or any of our lamas that I have met.
Please let me humbly share with you my reflection on mantra practice:
In mantra, think of precious human life.
In mantra, reflect on impermanence.
In mantra, notice deeds of body, speech and mind.
In mantra, remind yourselves of the faults of samsara.
In mantra, watch without judgment the rising and ceasing of thoughts.
In mantra, develop compassion and loving-kindness for beings of the six realms.
In mantra, rest in calm abiding state.
In mantra, refrain from harm.
In mantra, purify your negativity.
In mantra, protect your mind.
In mantra, strengthen your devotion.
In mantra, take joy in the virtuous and wholesome.
In mantra, give so as to loosen your grasping.
In mantra, practice unmoved by life’s up and down.
In mantra, remain stable like the mountain.
In mantra, dedicate so as not to build up the ego.
In mantra, aspire Buddhahood for all.
Recitation practice, how wonderful it is!
Let me end with a quote by Shantideva that inspires me to practice and I hope it will inspire you to practice too:
“For in such diligence enlightenment is found. If no wind blows, then nothing stirs, and neither is there merit without diligence”
P.S. Without intention, this reflection piece was completed on the full moon of the fifth month (18 May 2019). May Tara nourish us with her compassion and fulfill all our noble wishes.
Chou Chuen (aka CC) is from Singapore. He is trained in psychology and research methods and is currently working in the field of geriatrics research. He is skilled in floral arrangement and enjoys fashion and the arts.
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