Thursday, 18 January 2007

Animal kindness

Today I suddenly thought of His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche. I had dreamt of him a few nights ago, smiling brightly at me, spinning his signature prayer wheel. I read this article, and suddenly it reminded me of my friend who is afraid of and the murderer of LIZARDS!

A Tibetan Buddhist high lama brings a message of positive thinking and respect for human life. By EILEEN SCHULTE © St. Petersburg Times, published Sept 4, 2001.

Never stomp on an ant, even if it is about to bite your big toe. If you spot a roach on the kitchen counter, stop for a moment and consider not pressing the button of death on your can of Baygon.

Instead, why not contemplate escorting your unwelcome guests out of the house or away from the picnic area in a kindly fashion? After all, according to Buddhist teachings, any one of them could be the reborn soul of someone you knew and maybe loved in a previous lifetime, someone who obviously -- because of their current station in life -- was not particularly good and kind toward others.

Still, they deserve love and compassion just like everyone else.

That was just part of the message followers were taught at the Unitarian Universalist Church of Clearwater, headed by an individual followers believe is a true holy man: His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche.

Most of those in attendance already knew all human, insect and animal life is sacred; Rinpoche simply re-enforced the message.

It was just before 2 pm when Rinpoche -- a baldheaded, barefoot man clothed in flowing red robes with a yellow Nike tank top peeking out from underneath -- walked into the all-purpose room. When they saw him, his followers instantly fell silent and turned toward him. Bowing their heads and closing their eyes, they cupped their hands in front of them in prayerlike fashion. Even two pet dogs in the room, a black Airedale and a tan German shepherd mix (yes, they, too, were invited and treated with the utmost respect), stopped sniffing around and lay down next to their masters as though something important was about to happen.

But through their actions, they showed respect to the Tibetan Buddhist high lama, or priest, a man who they are taught has lived many important lives and is enlightened. They believe he has chosen to be reborn, coming back to earth repeatedly to help others gain wisdom.

Negative thoughts, Rinpoche said, are your worst enemy. "Negative emotions are the driving force (in) doing non-virtuous deeds," he said. "Try to get rid of negative emotions. (You) want to reach enlightenment as soon as possible to help other beings, not for yourself. That is very important. The most precious thing is a human life. The true nature of the mind is the ocean. The negative emotion is the waves," he said and smiled. "Kindness is better than all the riches on the planet."

And if you unintentionally step on and kill a bug, Rinpoche has a bit of advice: Say a prayer for it.
I first met Rinpoche almost 2 years ago when he was here for a teaching. Garchen Rinpoche is the incarnation of the acharya Aryadeva Bodhisattva, a disciple of Nagarjuna (an Indian philosopher, the founder of the (Middle Path) school of Mahayana Buddhism, and arguably the most influential Buddhist thinker after Buddha himself). I remembered Rinpoche among all other Rinpoches, because he was the warmest and most endearing lama I have ever met. As I clasped my palms for his blessing, he was smiling widely and gave me a warm hug, knocking his head gently against mine, and both hands clasped my cheeks and blessed me ever happily. It was as if he knows me, a stranger, for a long time. Perhaps we know each other in our past lives?

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