Tea House

Daily Perspectives and Stories on Buddhist Trends, People, and Ideas

Month: May 2017

Postcard from Raymond: What is Dharma?


Dharma is the cosmic law of reality. It is simultaneously the Buddha’s teaching, meaning two very important things. First, it means that the Buddhist teachings and reality itself are one and the same; they correspond to each other. The Dharma is the fount of all things which lies beyond the universe and the wheel of becoming.

Secondly, since Dharma is beginningless and endless, the Buddha did not invent this teaching out of thin air. He discovered it as Siddhartha Gautama, and by attaining Buddhahood, Siddhartha became a perfect embodiment of the Dharma. Every Buddha represents the Dharma, and point to “the way things really are” in their own unique way. To gain insight is to know Dharma, and become one with it as a bodhisattva and then finally a Buddha. Namo Amitabha!

A Meditation on Mind, Body and Place – Ho Siu Kee

Wilson Chik

An ancient Banyan tree: a giant in its own rite, towering. Thousand green leaves shimmering air, each leaf, a moment in life. Nested inside, in the intersection of two gnarly branches, stands Dr. Ho Siu-kee (known as Kee to friends) in all white. Though human, Kee is scaled tiny in this instance, comparatively. Nevertheless man and tree paired, inseparable.

This is how Kee chooses to open, and this is also how Kee chooses to close his recent talk: with a photograph of himself in the midst of a towering Banyan tree. Perhaps, this visual imprint comes to signify a deeper still-motion in progress, a quest of coming full circle not only in his myriad of creations such as this photograph (even though to Kee this is a thought recorded), but in the long line of life-work-art thoughts that purposefully places his body in synthesis among geometries, both personal and spiritual, thus far. We, as the viewers, are placed too in an immediate relationship with him, intimately. Unknowingly we fall into place, so to speak, drawn in by aesthetics and a precision that can only besiege us. For example, Kee standing in the Banyan tree.

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On trying not to eat animals

Graham Lock

I like meat. I like waking up in the morning to the sound and smell of sizzling bacon. I like the aroma that wafts out when an oven is opened and a leg of lamb cooked to perfection in it own juices is slowly lifted out. I like chomping on pork crackling and sinking my teeth into succulent pork belly. I like thick slices of roast beef served with roast potatoes and a rich gravy.

Or at least I used to like all these things. The ‘problem’ now is that it is very hard for me to mindfully eat a meat dish without thinking of the animal from which the flesh has been sliced and how it might have met its end. Similarly, how can I sit and send loving-kindness to ‘all sentient beings’ without bringing to mind the sixty billion land animals and a thousand billion marine animals that are killed every year for us to eat? Those figures, by the way, come from Matthieu Ricard’s A Plea for the Animals: The moral, philosophical and evolutionary imperative to treat all beings with compassion. I would definitely recommend this book. It’s informative, interesting and persuasive without being at all preachy.

Of course, our culture in general, and the meat industry in particular, is very good at ‘shielding’ us from the full horrors of industrial food production, and preventing us from making the connection between the food on our plate and the awful conditions in which the animals are raised, not to mention the screams, bellows, blood, and shit of the slaughterhouse. But ignoring all this shouldn’t really be an option for anyone following the Buddha-Dharma, it seems to me.

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Who knows what else might come?


‘Ready’, called the egg when it was laid. ‘Now I’m ready!’ called the tadpole when it had hatched. ‘Now I’m completely ready! ‘ called the creature, animal when it had two legs.

‘Now, finally, I’m absolutely completely ready! ‘ called the creature when it had four legs and a long tail. ‘Who knows what else might come…’, said the frog, when he was ready.

(author unknown)

Warm enough now to sit outside at the allotment, in cross-legged meditation position, contemplating eggs. How we blew them empty, half a century ago. And then painted them, under instruction of mum, turned into a high priestess transmitting ancient wisdom. A dozen of them attached with cotton thread to a willow branch – so light they are, swaying in the blow of our breath. We also boiled eggs and dyed them in luminous tulip colours, magic sulphurous odours filling the kitchen. Who will eat them all? Seemingly rituals are allowed to be wasteful and non-utilitarian.

At the allotment again, with our 5 years old granddaughter. Eagerly she collects the treasures the Easter Bunny has hidden among the fresh green, variously shaped leafs of the perennials along the borders and in the little nesting places where the fruit trees branch. When she has found them all she wants to find more. While she gets busy with her grandpa doing a little weeding and digging, I re-distribute a clutch of those metal-foil covered chocolate eggs. ‘Some kind of bunny has hidden some treasures for you’ I announce. Her eyes light up and she bounces up and down: ‘A Granny Bunny!’

Children manage to make magic at any time, under any circumstance. For us adults, a surprise find may open that door to us: like finding a ‘real’ bird’s egg. That speckled perfection, clearly containing something. Some part of us may awaken, curious, wondering and intent on making meaning, but perhaps not only in the literal way. Yes, it’s probably a blackbird’s egg, but really: What is it? What is inside? What wants to be born?

Maybe we don’t have to wait for those chance happenings or the ritually planned surprise of a gift. What would it take for us now to tap into that child-like aptitude for wonder-filled appreciation, on a daily basis? There is a way of approaching meditation that does that for me: sitting and being open to the ‘unknowingness’ of this moment, and the next.

Balancing Spirituality and Academic Study

BD Dipananda

It has now been 13 years since I balanced the duality of a monastic and a academic life and I have several key observations  to share.

Values of Celibacy As a Monk

First, my on-going celibacy is the most dramatic hall mark of difference in my life amongst the secular laity.

I have come to realize also that it is linked to the tradition to serve the community without reservation.

It is also to expand my spirituality to its utmost limit and fully present the demonstration of the values of the Buddha’s teaching.

Monastic life has a distinctive appeal for me and answers to my inner longings since childhood. As a result, in the beginning of monastic life, choosing to study in college was not an easy decision. I have to weigh up what my master would say, and how the Buddhist community would judge me if I go to college.

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Postcard from Raymond: Cosmic Lotus

From bestyleshare.online

What will I see when I leave this world? Will my “sight” even be the kind of visual “seeing” that I’ve known all my life? What will I hear when I have no auditory organs?

What will I bring with me when I sigh farewell?


I will have nothing.

I can take zilch, nada with me to the grave, the crematorium, or the seas where I might be sprinkled like flakes dissolving into a great foam of abyssal waters.

I am nourishment-in-waiting for the creatures and bacteria that feed on expired engines of fluid and meat.

But I am also made from the cooled gas and minerals of exploded stars. I am stardust from cosmic entities that suffuse the universe. Suffusing spacetime and consciousness itself is the invocation “Namo Amitabha Buddha,” which was revealed to mysterious visionaries in the Indic wilderness. We’ve received a personal invitation from a place beyond existence and nonexistence. We respond with our devotion and faith in “Namo Amitabha Buddha” and await our welcome.

I have no eyes in the earthly sense. But I can glimpse the celestial, inner flesh of a bud. I have no mortal sense of touch, but I can feel its softness. I have no more human ears, yet I can hear the most delightful music and gentle intonations. I take no breath, yet I gasp in joy.

Homage to the Primordial Wisdom Dakini

Lyudmila Klasanova

A dakini is one of the most remarkable manifestations of the Buddha nature in female form. In Buddhist tradition, dakinis are worshiped as human emanations of wisdom that keep the key to the esoteric knowledge of Vajrayana and reveal the path to complete freedom. The term was originally associated with secondary figures in the entourage of the deities of local traditions of India. In classical Sanskrit texts, dakinis are described mostly as hostile demonic creatures inhabiting sinister and secluded areas or places of cremation. Such spaces are considered sacred because of the opportunity they provide for inner contemplation and spiritual realization.

Dakini Vajravarahi. Drawing by the author.

The change in the adoption of the figure of a dakini occured under the influence of Buddhist meditative schools (6th-7th century), as a result of which they begin to be venerated as protectors of meditation and spiritual guide who help in removing illusions. The way they are accepted in Tibetan Buddhism is completely different and this is expressed very well in their Tibetan name khandroma, which translates usually as “a woman, who is walking, flying or dancing in the sky”. In the tradition of Tibetan Buddhism, khandroma is a symbol of the sky, which is all-embracing, like emptiness. She is the one who reveals the truth about the emptiness of all phenomena and moves blissfully in boundless space of emptiness.

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