Sunday, June 28, 2015

Ten Royal Qualities of a Leader (Dasa Raja Dhamma)

Cartoon from BALOO'S WEBSITE

With a graduate degree in Educational Leadership, I have always been interested in learning about the qualities of a good noble leader. Many years ago, I came across the Buddhist teaching known as Dasa Raja Dhamma, the ten duties of a king. I became fascinated by this teaching and attempted to analyze the various monarchs and presidents of the modern world as well as leaders of organization and institution to see which leader possess these ten royal qualities. 

Recently, I have begun to contemplate more and more about this teaching as I came to realize that in my personal circle of network, I know more ordinary people possess these qualities than organization founders, presidents, CEO, and directors. To me, those who possess these qualities are the true noble leaders regardless of whether they hold a formal leadership career position or not. They are in fact the leader of their life, master of their own mind, and an inspiration to all of us.

Ten Royal qualities of a Leader:

1. Dana - Generosity, charity, and giving
The leader shouldn't have craving and attachment to wealth and property; the leader should use them for the welfare of the people. For example, material giving means the gift of necessary requisites for the sustenance of human life as well as all types of beings such as animals. The second type of giving is the giving of ones time and energy to perform wholesome deeds such as helping others in need. The third type of giving is the sharing of knowledge. Among all these types of gifts, the highest gift is the gift of truth where one assists others to realize the true nature of things.

2. Sila - Virtue
The leader must have a high moral character. At the minimum, one should never destroy life, steal, commit adultery, exploit others, tell lies, or take intoxicants. A high level of virtue means one should practice wholesome speech by abstaining from uttering harsh speech, idle chatter and malicious talk. High moral character also means abstinence from unwholesome livelihood such as trades in firearm, drugs, etc.

3. Pariccaga - Sacrifice
The leader must be prepared to give up his/her own personal comfort, name, fame, and even his/her life for the welfare of those he/she serves.

4. Ajjava - Honesty, integrity and uprightness
The leader must be free from fear or favor in carrying out his/her duties. One must be sincere in ones intentions, and must not deceive the public. This means that one must always identifies and upholds the truth under any circumstances and have the wisdom to understand that the truth will ultimately prevails. To practice this noble quality, one must also speak the truth which is part of the virtue quality (sila).

5. Maddava - Kindness and Gentleness
The leader must posses a genial temperament and treats others with loving-kindness. One must possess a mind that is soft, humble and calm as opposed to a mind that is strict, arrogant, and stormy.

6. Tapa - Austeriy in habits
The leader should lead a simple life, practice self control, and not indulge in excessive luxury. When one practices restraint of the senses and contentment with little, it leads to the development of the qualities of giving (dana) and sacrifice (pariccaga) as it becomes easier to give up ones comforts, wealth, and pleasures for the welfare of others.

7. Akkodha - Freedom from hatred, ill-will, and enmity
The leader should never hold a grudge against anyone.

8. Avihimsa - Non-violence
The leader should promote peace by preventing violence and war.

9. Khanti - Patience, forbearance, tolerance, and understanding
The leader must be able to bear hardships, difficulties and insults without losing his/her temper. One has to have patience to realize ones objectives and to uphold the truth. One has to have the capacity to forbear obstacles that come in ones way or harassment that is directed towards one in the process of safeguarding the truth.

10. Avirodha - Non-conflict, non-opposition and non-obstruction
The leader should never obstruct any measures that are conducive to the welfare of the people. One must have the wisdom and equanimity to avoid falling into situations of unnecessary conflict, argument and debate. When one is rich in wisdom and equanimity, ones mind is calm and serene, and is not shaken when one is provoked.

Now your turn. Which leader of the present or past do you think possess all these ten royal qualities? Perhaps you know someone personally that embodies all these nobles qualities?

Thus We Heard: Recollections of the Life of the Buddha by Bhante Walpola Piyananda & Stephen Long

Thursday, June 18, 2015

Buddhist Blanket

When my grandmother passed away in March 2015, it was the first time that my immediate family took part in arranging a funeral in the U.S. My siblings immediately searched the Internet for information and my brother found an article titled A Guide to A Buddhist/Chinese/American Funeral online. Immediately, my elder sister called around the local temples searching for a Buddhist Blanket for our grandmother (往生被又名「陀羅尼被」). It turned out it was very difficult to find and we were fortunate to find one at a local Chinese temple.  

Weeks later, I had a conversation with a good friend Kin Fok to see if we can import them from China and offer them as gift to those who need them for their recent deceased loved one. Kin wholeheartedly agreed that it is a good idea, purchased them from the well-known China ebay site Taobao, paid for all the items and shipping expenses and now make it available as a free gift to those who are desperately searching for them. To request a Buddhist Blanket, please contact Kin at It is our hope that this gift will help family eases through this difficult time in their life. 

180 X 90 cm

Buddhist Blanket Usage

According to the information gathered from the Chinese website, this Buddhist blanket is infused with protection power from the many Sanskrit (or Tibetan) mantras and Buddhist symbols there were printed on it. Accordingly, this Buddhist blanket was originated from Tibet and was for the exclusive use of kings and ministers who are of level two government rank and above upon their death during the pre-Qing dynasty. Now this Buddhist blanket is widely circulated and is available to everyone. 

In usage, the large row of Chinese characters Namo Amitabha (南無阿彌陀佛) should be on top. The Buddhist blanket can be used to cover up to the chest area and it is not necessary to cover the head. Even though it is popularly used to cover the deceased, this Buddhist blanket can also be used on a daily basis as a strong protection against negative and evil energy. It has the functions of alleviating obstacles and difficulties and can be used as a protection when traveling on the roads and spending nights at hotels and lodging sites to bring forth peaceful sleep and safety return home.   

  往生被又名「陀羅尼被」。其來源非出自《大藏經》,而係明季密宗盛行,金剛上師為慈悲救世故,集諸佛密咒,以梵文(或藏文)書於布帛,猶似壇場、《藏經》,倘經加持,其效力更不可思議。將此被覆蓋亡者遺體,能令其消業滅罪,陰間眾生見之為一片光明,可免亡者遭宿世冤家、魔障損惱。此物雖極珍貴,然當時市井並無流通,李炳南老居士曾言:「(此被)或由藏地傳入,但知於前清時代,二品以上王公大臣命終之後,由朝廷敕賜,而普通官民不得擅用,今則無禁矣!」   陀羅尼之真實境界,字字句句皆諸佛無相法身,唯佛與佛能知,然其威神力,則可普被眾生。往生被色澤為金色,展開約比人高,使用時須蓋對方向,有「南無阿彌陀佛」字樣者在上。一般而言,只須蓋至胸部即可,不必從頭覆蓋。又市面流通之「蓮花被」,僅上印蓮花圖樣,並無加持力,其作用在看似美觀莊嚴而已,與往生被大不相同。若病者堅持欲蓋蓮花被,可在蓮花被上加蓋往生被。此被雖名為「往生被」,乃係方便之稱謂,因其作用非僅限於往生時,即令平日亦可使用,兼有消災解難之功,甚或鬼魅魍魎纏身,亦頗有效應。近年旅遊風氣盛行,不妨隨身攜帶,或置放投宿之旅館,期能快樂出門,平安回家。(Source)

Friday, April 3, 2015

Auspicious Grandma

                          Paw Paw's visit to Kwan Di Temple during the lunar new year of 2006.
                      Both Paw Paw & Gong Gong's memorial are now established at this temple. 

One of this blog's early entry was about my maternal grandma or Paw Paw in Cantonese (See “Bác sĩ chy - Doctor Ran Away"), and on March 21st, my family and I scattered her ashes at the Santa Cruz Beach. Just like Gong Gong (Cantonese for maternal grandfather) decades ago, Paw Paw went to sleep peacefully and did not wake up in the morning. My family received a phone call from the convalescent home early Monday morning on March 2, 2015 informing us that Paw Paw passed away at 6:00AM. She ended this very life at the age of 92, survived by her only daughter (my mom), son-in-law, four grandchildren and many siblings, relatives and friends. She lived a very long and peaceful life, an auspicious life.

As her second grandchild, I often visited Paw Paw at the convalescent home that she stayed at since 2007 with my mom and sometimes by myself and occasionally with siblings and friends. Looking back, these eight years of weekly visitations seem so momentary in comparison to my often fast-paced and packed schedule outside the vicinity of the nursing home. Life there is often mundane and follows a seasonal rhythm signaled by the holiday-driven decorations throughout the center. The slowing down of the physical body and the mental processes in the natural aging process of the elderly citizens there set the center core of a slow-paced life at the nursing home. Unlike a preschool center with vibrant children dazzling and running around, many of the nursing home residents are on wheelchair and some are bedridden until a staff or a family member comes around to wheel them to and fro. 

Paw Paw, on the other hand, had always been one of the more healthier residents there. In the early years, she used to walk with a walker and take care of all her personal hygiene (brushing teeth, restroom and bathing) on her own. She was independent and enjoyed her independence. She was a loving and loyal wife to Gong Gong and together they had seven daughters. My mom is the eldest and the only surviving one; six of her younger sisters passed away before the age of thirteen. Gong Gong passed away at the age of 39 and Paw Paw was a widow since. So she certainly had decades of training to be independent.

Paw Paw was introvert in nature and preferred indoor and away from the crowd. Her room 229C
was situated in a corner in the most inner room of the convalescent home. My mom is the opposite. She is extrovert, prefers outdoor and be in the company of people. Throughout these last eight years, my mom had been diligently visiting Paw Paw three times a week. She cooked Paw Paw's favorite Chinese or Vietnamese dishes and bought her cookies, candies, snacks, flowers, denture tapes, coloring books and pencils, and anything that Paw Paw needed and requested. Rather than leaving the laundry task to the nursing home staff, Mom also took Paw Paw's laundry home, washed and folded them, and then brought them back to the nursing home. And each journey to the nursing home was no easy task. Because Mom doesn't drive, she normally would need to take several buses and walk to and from buses stops so a one-way trip is approximately more than an hour long. Occasionally, Mom would get rides from her children, relatives or friends who were visiting Paw Paw also.

Several weeks prior to Paw Paw's passing, her memory was poor and she failed to recognize Mom. During Mom's regular visit, she would ask, "Who are you? I don't remember you." 

Then her memory regained its former clarity two weeks prior to her departure. Paw Paw expressed to Mom, "Thank you so much for all your help. Thank you so much for taking care of me." 
         Mom responded, "I am your daughter. You don't need to thank me."
         Paw Paw answered, "Yes, you are my daughter but I still need to thank you."

Paw Paw often thanked me in my last half year of visits as she no longer recognized me. During my solo visits, she often asked me who my mother was, do I have any siblings and am I married. She often advised me to find a good man. I had developed a routine to bring her home-cooked food, gave her acupressure massage and cleaned up her living corner so that she can enjoy a tidy and fresh environment. Occasionally while massaging her, I would sing songs to her or chant the Heart Sutra and other sutras. This transitory time spent with her always brought a smile to our faces. 

Being in the nursing home environment is an effectual reminder of the sufferings of aging, illness and death. The sights of debilitation, the periodic holler and murmur of the residents, the stench and fetor of diseases-all signals the deterioration of the body. When I first brought Talersak to the nursing home to introduce to Paw Paw, I expressed to Talersak, "You are looking into the future version of me because one day I will be old just like Paw Paw. This youthful look is impermanence." All that arises will pass. This is the law of nature. 

Holding her biodegradable urn made of compact sand close to me on a sailboat in the sea, I chanted several suttas for her followed by the Heart Sutra in Sanskrit before dropping the urn into the ocean. 


"Going, going, going on beyond, always going on beyond, always becoming Buddha."


Friday, October 3, 2014

Anicca - Impermanence

This is a perfect example of Anicca.  Everything is limited to a certain duration and is
subjected to disappear eventually.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Ten Paramis in Cartoon

Recently, we came across a wonderful cartoon series known as Dasa Jata Jataka produced by Dhamma Media Channel in Thailand and it is available on Youtube in Thai language with English and Chinese subtitles. These ten series of the ten paramis or perfection is about Gotama Buddha's previous lives while he perfects these ten paramis. Clicking on the link below will take you to the first episode. Enjoy!

The 10 Paramis 十集本生故事 - 波羅蜜:

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mothers are Buddhas

Yesterday while at the Lion grocery store, I picked up a copy of "Meditation & Heath" magazine and was happy to come across an English translated version of a classic Chinese stories, "Mothers are Buddhas."

Mothers Are Buddhas
Translation by Mi Zhea

During the Ming Dynasty, there was a young man from Anhui province called Yangfu. His father passed away when he was very young, so he was brought up by his mother. The early passing of his father made Yangfu reflect deeply on the impermanence of life. As a result, he decided to pursue a Buddhist path as soon as he reached adulthood. After hearing that Zen master Wuji was the reincarnation of a bodhisattva, he traveled a long distance to learn from him.

When he met Wuji, he asked where Buddhas could be found. The Zen master told him, “On your way back, when you look for a place to rest for the night, the person who will open the door for you wrapped in a quilt and wearing shoes the wrong way is a Buddha.”

After leaving the master, Yangfu began searching for Buddhas. Climbing high mountains and crossing wide rivers, he knocked on countless doors to find resting places. He closely examined each person who opened doors for him; none fit the Zen master’s description of a Buddha. Feeling very disappointed, he headed home.

It was midnight when he arrived at his doorstep. Utterly exhausted, he knocked and called out, “Mother, please open the door quickly.”

His mother had not been able to stop worrying about him since his departure. Hearing her son’s voice, she sprang from her bed. She hurriedly wrapped herself in a quilt and stuffed her left foot in her right shoe and her right foot in her left shoe, and ran to the door.

When she saw that her son had indeed returned safely, her heart was at peace.

Yangfu gazed at his mother as she stood in the night chill awkwardly wrapped in a quilt, wearing shoes the wrong way. In that moment, Yangfu remembered the Zen master’s words: “The one who will open the door for you wrapped in a quilt and wearing shoes the wrong way is a Buddha.” He came to the sudden realization that the person he had been searching for far and wide was right in front of him.

Mothers are Buddhas.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

"My Beautiful Woman"

Based on a true story.  This story focuses on a young, single mother named Jane

and her daughter June.  The bond between a mother and daughter.