Life's clearer away from the lights

by Sharon Gray, The Age, June 19, 2007

Buddhist teachings can be very clear; applying them is the challenge.

Sydney, Australia -- IT IS said that one should never teach Buddhism unless asked, but since some readers have specifically requested me to write about what His Holiness the Dalai Lama taught in Melbourne, here goes.

The goal of a Buddhist is to uproot one's ego, thus allowing the "clear light perceptive energy" of the natural mind to devote itself to the care and concern for all others. That was why I chose to write under a pseudonym when this column began in 1984.

After 10 years of applying Buddhist mental analysis, I began to realise just how vain and self-centred I am and that having my name in print would not do me any good. The grossly self-centred feed off attention, which, when withdrawn, leaves them desperate to regain the stage. For some, it's life under lights or not at all. (Now I'm just vain about my pseudonym.)

The advertised teachings were on The Eight Verses for Training the Mind, written by Geshe Langri Thangpa (1054-1123), who allegedly smiled only once. He saw a mouse trying to lift a turquoise that was too heavy for it. So the mouse called "Tsik tsik!" and another mouse turned up. One pushed the turquoise, the other pulled it and Langri Thangpa smiled.

The Eight Verses are deceptively simple. Try this one:

"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."

The arrogance of pity and simperings of false modesty have no place in this. The mind that holds others precious is not one that collects tickets on itself. Such a mind is only possible after having reached some understanding of how perception and phenomena actually exist Consequently, the Dalai Lama spent most of the teachings going through another text by the first-century Indian saint, Arya Nagarjuna, which includes lines such as these: "A permanent and an impermanent cannot exist as the support and the supported." Difficult stuff. Once again I took reams of notes, comforting myself with the view that such teachings make "subtle impressions".

Some things are very clear, yet applying their truth in a lived manner is a monumental challenge. For example: years break into months, weeks, days, hours and then seconds - of which each one is divided into what is already past and what is yet to come. So where is the present? Whoosh! Suddenly, the certain landscape falls away - through logic and reason rather than belief or faith. The Dalai Lama often describes Buddhism as a bridge between religion and modern science, exploring the gap between reality and appearance.

But the habits of ego are much stronger than those "subtle impressions", which brings us back to The Eight Verses:

"When others, out of jealousy,
Mistreat me with abuse, slander and so on,
I will practise accepting defeat
|And offer the victory to them."

Easy to say - hard to do. Higher philosophical study does not warm the heart until it is accompanied by loving-kindness - we have enough doctors of divinity with concrete eyes, but when the Dalai Lama says the words "warm heart", you feel it.

We Need Your Help to Train the
Buddhist AI Chat Bot
(Neural Omniscient Robotic-Being for Buddhist Understanding)

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your name in the payment slip. Thank you.

Dear Friends in the Dharma,

We seek your generous support to help us train NORBU, the word's first Buddhist AI Chat Bot.

Here are some ways you can contribute to this noble cause:

One-time Donation or Loan: A single contribution, regardless of its size, will go a long way in helping us reach our goal and make the Buddhist LLM a beacon of wisdom for all.

How will your donation / loan be used? Download the NORBU White Paper for details.

For Malaysians who wants to donate in MYR, please use the following account:

Account Name: Bodhi Vision
Account No:. 2122 00000 44661
Bank: RHB

The SWIFT/BIC code for RHB Bank Berhad is: RHBBMYKLXXX
Address: 11-15, Jalan SS 24/11, Taman Megah, 47301 Petaling Jaya, Selangor
Phone: 603-9206 8118

Note: Please indicate your purpose of payment (loan or donation) in the payment slip. Thank you.

Once payment is banked in, please send the payment slip via email to: Your donation/loan will be published and publicly acknowledged on the Buddhist Channel.

Spread the Word: Share this initiative with your friends, family and fellow Dharma enthusiasts. Join "Friends of Norbu" at: Together, we can build a stronger community and create a positive impact on a global scale.

Volunteer: If you possess expertise in AI, natural language processing, Dharma knowledge in terms of Buddhist sutras in various languages or related fields, and wish to lend your skills, please contact us. Your knowledge and passion could be invaluable to our project's success.

Your support is part of a collective effort to preserve and disseminate the profound teachings of Buddhism. By contributing to the NORBU, you become a "virtual Bodhisattva" to make Buddhist wisdom more accessible to seekers worldwide.

Thank you for helping to make NORBU a wise and compassionate Buddhist Chatbot!

May you be blessed with inner peace and wisdom,

With deepest gratitude,

Kooi F. Lim
On behalf of The Buddhist Channel Team

Note: To date, we have received the following contributions for NORBU:
US$ 75 from Gary Gach (Loan)
US$ 50 from Chong Sim Keong
MYR 300 from Wilson Tee
MYR 500 from Lim Yan Pok
MYR 50 from Oon Yeoh
MYR 200 from Ooi Poh Tin
MYR 300 from Lai Swee Pin
MYR 100 from Ong Hooi Sian
MYR 1,000 from Fam Sin Nin
MYR 500 from Oh teik Bin
MYR 300 from Yeoh Ai Guat
MYR 300 from Yong Lily
MYR 50 from Bandar Utama Buddhist Society
MYR 1,000 from Chiam Swee Ann
MYR 1,000 from Lye Veei Chiew
MYR 1,000 from Por Yong Tong
MYR 80 from Lee Wai Yee
MYR 500 from Pek Chee Hen
MYR 300 from Hor Tuck Loon
MYR 1,000 from Wise Payments Malaysia Sdn Bhd
MYR 200 from Teo Yen Hua
MYR 500 from Ng Wee Keat
MYR 10,000 from Chang Quai Hung, Jackie (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from K. C. Lim & Agnes (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from Juin & Jooky Tan (Loan)
MYR 100 from Poh Boon Fong (on behalf of SXI Buddhist Students Society)
MYR 10,000 from Fam Shan-Shan (Loan)
MYR 10,000 from John Fam (Loan)
MYR 500 from Phang Cheng Kar
MYR 100 from Lee Suat Yee
MYR 500 from Teo Chwee Hoon (on behalf of Lai Siow Kee)
MYR 200 from Mak Yuen Chau

We express our deep gratitude for the support and generosity.

If you have any enquiries, please write to: