July Class and Meditation Schedule

Beginner’s Meditation Class:

Saturdays 11am

Intermediate Dharma and Meditation Class:

Tuesdays 7:30pm
Saturdays 9-11am
NB: the June monthly group meditation has been moved from June 23 to July 7.

Ocean of Wisdom Group Meditation:

Friday July 13 8:30pm


On Conduct

A lay perspective on Buddhist’s conduct can be an intriguing one. A non-scientific sampling of Internet searches may turn up answers about compassion, vegetarianism, new age spiritualism, and possibly political activism in Tibet, much coloured by popular media. Some view Buddhism as an alternative to or an escape from traditional religious practices.

By 2007, I had been in Canada for almost 20 years. I could converse reasonably in the language but my sense of the language was much coloured by my family and my peers, and what was available in the media at the time. Just like a regular folk, I assumed that all media outlets had the utmost correctness of their language practices. Though now in retrospect, BBC had by now introduced newscasters with regional accents, ironically in a time where English speakers were very much bleached out of their regionalism from widespread media exposure.

Correctness was by now in the eye of the beholder.

A very curious set of circumstances involved me in the Cantonese pronunciation standard debates in the depth of winter in 2007. Then, I had broken my ankle in a freak skating accident. With my left ankle heavily in cast, I was stuck at home, sending letters after letters to the national broadcaster body, requesting a review on the Cantonese language practices at two Cantonese-Canadian television channels.

I was not alone on this, but it certainly felt rather lonely, as many of the events were outside of my control. I could not control, for example, the action of an academic, who chose to write about a subject (Cantonese pronunciation) that he knew very little. I could not control those in power (the Hong Kong government and broadcasters) choosing to follow his advice to “standardize Cantonese pronunciation.” I could not control that these events had a cascading effect impacting Cantonese speakers overseas.

I could speak up. Once the message is out, others are free to consider it.

The response I got from the broadcasters’ governing body was this. The two channels were free to choose their language standards. Such as is the case of African American vernacular English (“Ebonics”) on American television, the two channels allowed their newscasters to freely choose their Cantonese pronunciation standards. After all, even the government imposed language standard, correct or not, had been “widely” adopted. Just like Ebonics. Isn’t this what an inclusive multicultural society ought to be?

Ebonics had a long history evolving as a pidgin or creole-like way with deep roots in the American South. Its road to mainstream media was a long and hard one. Its acceptance was an attempt to reflect “the street” in the media. After all, media, especially news, reflects what is on the street.

Positions of power and the appearance of expertise can flex its muscle in very subtle ways.

To whom the television channels have to answer for? To whom the national broadcasters’ governing body has a responsibility?

Part of a buddhist’s code of conduct has much to do with responsibility. If I am in the role of a mother, I perform the motherly tasks. In the role of an employee, I do the work of an employee. Just because I draw a line as an employee at one time, I do not stop being a mother or a citizen.

Drawing the line has its function. It is like obeying the traffic light. Red means stop; green means go. Right? But you wouldn’t slam on the pedal if a slow grandma has not finished crossing before the light turns green, would you? (Or maybe you would!)

In the name of inclusivity, the newscasters can freely choose any pronunciation practices they want. It is ok for the BBC to sound like it came from a small Welsh town. It is ok to sound like the American South in an Oscar winning movie. Surely it must be ok to take the word of one academic and ignore the language one grows up speaking. Ignore the parents. Ignore the whole community so that you can go along with the authority.

Drawing the line is like creating a sense of self. Inclusivity. United Nations. Environmental friendliness. Economic growth. My family. Vivian. Physical or abstract, the moment a line is drawn, it is as if a baby is born. If we have to say something about Buddhism, one can think of it as teachings about the line and ways of dealing with the baby to which it has given birth.

There is much in the teaching leading to the day-to-day practice. If one has to give a name to it, it is called Tathagatagarbha, the Buddha-within or the Buddha womb. If the metaphor gives off any hint, it is like the word mother-nature. The womb is vast and limitless; it gives rise to everything on earth. Or one can go in another direction: everything bears the signature of nature (the Buddha-within).

And speaking of inclusivity, the signature is also present in other religious practices. In Christianity, it is said that everyone is made in the image of God. In certain Hindu practices, the metaphor is the saline solution — salt cannot be seen but is omnipresent in the liquid — an invisible essence is present everywhere.

Despite the similarity in premise, how the premise is interpreted leads to different entrances and different paths. For some, it might be about slamming on the pedal when the light is about to turn red. For others, it might be about stopping in front of a slow grandma. All are possibilities in this womb.

What is your path?

A Note on Meditation

Stress and the Mind

We know the importance of keeping the mind and body balanced. We put a lot of emphasis on being physically healthy but how do we keep our mind healthy?

Our mind can create both happiness and sadness. We tend to create mostly negative images far different from the real situation which leads to stress.

Stress is a part of our lives but it doesn’t necessarily lead to illness or disease. In fact, acute stress/challenges can also be good for us, giving us direction and a sense of meaning. However, in our daily life, we encounter chronic stress. We worry about getting sick and getting old. We worry about losing our job or our possessions, and we crave things we don’t have. Worrying increases stress which in turn produces anxiety. This state of sustained flight or fight can cause a decline in health.

Meditation and the Mind

Our mind and body do not work together in unison. Meditation is a holistic way to keep our mind and body healthy and in harmony with each other. When the mind and body is in a balanced state, overall health improves.

Meditation transforms our mind and helps us see the actual situation instead of our perceived distorted image. When our mind is clear, we can make the right decision to deal with the situation.

People who meditate regularly, with the proper view, experience significantly positive mental and physical benefits.

Benefits of Meditation

  • Sleep better and feel rested.
  • Deal effectively with stressful situations.
  • Increased energy.
  • Better concentration and more focused.

Natural Appearance, Natural Liberation

One of Master Tam’s publication, “The Dhyana of Living and Dying” (生與死的禪法) is now available in English as “Natural Appearance, Natural Liberation.” Published by the Canadian publisher, Sumeru Press, it is a commentary is based on the six bardos teachings from a series of hidden treasure texts known as the Profound Dharma of Natural Liberation through the intention of the Peaceful and Wrathful Ones, discovered by the great terton Karma Lingpa. This book not only contains very practical advice on the bardos, or intermediate states of living and dying, but also has many teachings of the Nyingma tantric tradition embedded in it.

The intention of the text is to condense the very deep and profound tantric teachings of the six bardos into practices approachable by all sentient beings so that many can swiftly attain various states of liberation. This book offers a scholarly but accessible explanation of the ancient wisdom embedded in this ancient Buddhist classic.

The book is available for purchase at these bookstores:

Barnes and Noble
Wisdom Books

Master Tam’s 78th Birthday

Students from afar came to celebrate Master Tam’s birthday on May 17. The day started with meditation in the afternoon followed by dinner at night. There were many entertaining performances throughout the dinner, including the auspicious peacock!

A picture is worth a thousand words. Twenty pictures are worth twenty thousand words! Enjoy the event herehere, and here!


Introduction to Visualization Meditation (Toronto)

The 6 weeks Introduction to Meditation, in its 7th year, is our most popular workshop. It is suitable for everyone of all ages. Students will learn proper meditation sitting postures, breathing exercise, visualization meditation practice according to the Nyingma Tibetan Buddhist teachings. Through these exercises, students will see how their mind works and then learn to “tame the wild horse”. The students will learn to integrate the practice into their daily lives so that their mind can be at rest naturally.

Date: September 15 – October 27th, 2012
(No class on October 8th – Thanksgiving Holiday).
Time: 10:30 a.m. – 12 noon
Location: 705 Middlefield Rd, 2nd Floor, Scarborough, Ontario.
Cost: Free

For more details, see here for the course outline.

For registration, please fill in the form here.

Six Breathing Exercises (Hong Kong)

This course intoduces the principles and practices to be free from defilements formed by attachment to representations and conceptions.

Course Duration: May 22 – August 2nd, 2012 (9 lessons)
Day and Time: 7:00 – 8:00 pm
Location: Unit 1-2, 2nd Floor
Nam Pak Hong Building, 24 Bonham Strand West
Sheung Wan, Hong Kong
Cost: HK$40 per session (total of 9 sessions)

For enrolment and further information, click here or contact Doris at 2891 7706 or lokyang@lokyang.com.