Date: 6/10/2011 9:26:58 AM
Subject: [CASonline] a bird at vesak
Dearest Frens @ CAS,
By the time you read this and I have finished typing this, we would have finished packing our luggages containing 200 odd pens, 80 booklets, sweets, medicated oils, patches, food and tidbits of many kinds, to be ready to be heaved off to Phunstok Choling ( CAS's first Dharma centre ) in Malacca, before carrying on its long aerial journey to Laos, one of the poorest countries in the world, a place with an average life expectancy of just 48 years and boasting of the world's smallest capital.
A holy yogi had pronounced that it would be beneficial if CAS could do something over in Laos and so we go.
The most precious Enlightened Being, HH Kyabje Trulshig Rinpoche, the present Head of the Nyingma School, is in retreat but we managed to obtain instructions from this other great yogi: to go or not to go.
Meanwhile, await our updates and pray, pray and pray again for the world, the beings and CAS !!
"Namo Da Yuan Di Zang Wang Pu Sa !!"
bb & every breathing creature @ CAS
( a bird at vesak )
On Vesak Day, a few beings @ CAS retreated into Kota Tinggi ( where else ) for a supposed Green Tara retreat which became, in the end, half completed. This is all due to a bird which was hooked by its thigh ( the left one & do we call this part of a bird "thigh" ?? ).
The story begins like this:
We were all full of zest and glee, sunshine and hope, that morning ( of Vesak Day ) when we were supposed to do 4 full sessions of the Four Mandala Offering to Holy Mother Tara. We had arrived from Singapore the day before. We trooped out of our little hotel and proceeded to the wet market where we usually acquired the creatures whose lives were in danger, of getting poked, eaten, fried, marinated or seasoned. We ended up with 2 HUGE bags of more than 30 HUGE crabs. We, as usual, proceeded to circumambulate them around holy objects ( such as: the holy sutra of Lord Kshitigarbha, Denma Locho's & Katok Khenchen's pics in bb's wallet etc ).
It was all too holy and happy especially for a wonderful, lovely day like Vesak.
Long live Lord Buddha !!
( fat juicy crabs and their big nasty claws )
After the fat, juicy crabs had been dumped into the raging, frothing Johor River ( this river had flooded Kota Tinggi innumerable times, we mean seriously flooded and inundated civilisation along it ), we rounded to the supermarket to grab big tins of the purest oil, to offer to Ven Hai Tao's centre there, the "Shan Dao" buddhist centre and even the ancient, peeling Guan Yim temple with its attendant Taoist deities. We simply could not think of a more auspicious start to our retreat !!
Then, while we were crossing the big highway bridge that stretched across Johor River with literally hundreds upon hundreds of vehicles, big, small, scary, gigantic, zooming on it, to get to the town centre, we saw this tiny little speck hanging, seemingly struggling, by a thin line from the water pipes, running parallel to the bridge, carrying water into Tinggi town !!
My holy Buddha !! What was that ??!!
We strained our eyes hard. It was a tiny feathery creature we thought is a sparrow !!
( the struggling dot of feathers - pic taken from the bridge running parallel to the water pipes )
Yes, some enterprising people had been breeding sparrows on abandoned buildings there for the expensive delicacy "bird's nest". So Tinggi town has sparrows gliding and flocking about. This was no surprise. But our little sparrow here was hooked, apparently to the end of what seemed to be a fishing line. It was heaving, struggling, dying, very, very soon and definitely in an awful lot of pain. You see, it was trying to fly off but was jerked back rudely by the line.
We were debating on what to do. Save it or just pray for it.
After a few short minutes, we were quite convinced it would soon die, so why save it ?? It was hanging, upside down, dreadfully weak and hopeless. Whatever strength it could muster - making a mad dash to the skies - was inevitably, soundly defeated by whatever monstrous that was hooking it to the line. Since it appeared to be in such a terrible state and what we felt was a hopelessly dehydrated state, the impression, no doubt, due to ourselves getting fried in the morning sun ( then about 9 plus ), we decided that the best way would be to shout and yell mantras at it.
All the mantras we knew and had learnt from the holy Gurus: Mani, Tara, Guru Padma, Migtsema, Vairochana, Namgyalma etc etc .... hey hey. The heavy traffic zooming behind us must have been blessed silly by this extreme bombardment of holy syllables, even though we thought and still think the drivers would probably have had a very, very scary, indeed, version from their side: crazy, insane, dangerous lunatics screaming their lungs out to empty space or to the Johor River. ( They probably couldn't see the poor sparrow hanging by the water pipes ).
But, what to do ?? Dignity or apparent self-respect must go in favour of Bodhicitta. This is the time to show and apply BODHICITTA: this sole, MOST important thing that gave birth to all Buddhas of the past, present and certainly into the future !!
So, we blessed with our cluster, carpet bombardment of mantras, inflaming our lungs and when we were satisfied the bird had been blessed well enough into a blessed rebirth, we heaved sighs of relief and marched off. Half-satisfied only, actually, that we had done what we could have done. Bye, bye bird. Good luck. Holy Mother cradles you in her beautiful green arms. We love you.
Nearly 2 hours later, we returned from these centres, after having been dragged into lighting a few hundred lamps, sat through long sessions of chantings of "Gong Tian" ( offering to the divine heavenly hosts ) which they did on Vesak Day. We walked on the bridge again and to our shock, that poor sparrow was still alive !! Occasionally, it was still flapping its wings, occasionally attempting to take off to the skies but was again jerked back roughly by the wicked line. Holy Gawd !! We had expected it to die and go with Mother Tara to the Land of Great Bliss 2 hours back !!
Something got to be done.
We buzzed about with great disturbance and blamed one another, pretended to check "MO" ( a Tibetan divination system ) right there on the bridge: to save or not to save; if to save, climb on the water pipes and risk dropping to a certain death into the raging tides below ?? Should we connect at least 2 long bamboo poles together, attach say a pen knife to their end and attempt to slice off the evil line ?? But, if we do so, would little sparrow be too fatigued to fly and drop into the muddy, murderous waves below, swallowed up forever ?? What if we use 2 poles, one with the pen knife, the other with a net ?? What if the poles turned up too heavy and we fell into the river from their weight ?? CASonline would be closed down almost certainly as the few key humans running it are all there. This is too painful a scenario. What if only one died and the rest got to live, but in awful sorrow for the rest of their lives ??
Palden Lhamo got to give us a clear sign. And she did. SAVE IT .... whatever it takes !!
( palden lhamo - she has spoken )
We clambered to the end of the water pipes which was resting on the coastline of Johor River. We thought the best way would be to climb it. No shoes, just a pen knife. We would reach down from above the bird and slice the line off so it would be FREE !! Yes, that would be the plan. Bodhisattvas !! Then, a smack. That end was stuffed with an assortment of rude bushes and poisonous looking flowers. Let's slash them. No plants would keep us from sliding across the water pipes to our poor litlle bird.
bb was restrained by more cautionary hands. There are Malay food stalls there, eyeing us with extreme suspicion. What was this group of funny people hovering about the end point of un-interesting water pipes ?? They even looked like they wanted to climb on the pipes !! They must be up to no good. Then, we thought we could get ourselves dropped into dirty dank jails with no lawyers to represent us and get us out !! Who could convince the good men of the jury that it was our own bloated sense of BODHICITTA that caused us to slide over water pipes in a foreign land to rescue a feathery thing. No, no, no. These men are crazy. Jail. 10 years would do them good. If we did not perish in Malaysian jails, got pinned by suspicious locals, we could certainly fall the more than 7 to 8 stories high height into the river and drown, get eaten up by hungry fishes or get snapped into tiny, little pieces by possible fresh water alligators !! What irony if we were to be set on by the juicy crabs we had earlier on released !! It would have been sweet, sweet revenge, wouldn't it ?? What irreverence to drop us this height into the river. No parachutes, no bye-bye kisses,
We were desperate !!
Let's change our plans. As we couldn't ask Palden Lhamo directly, we guessed Palden Lhamo probably meant She wanted us to hire the boats carrying excited children on Firefly Tours on the Johor River.
So off we went.
We ran and ran along the coastline some distance away to where several gaily painted boats were docked.
"Hello, hello, uncle, auntie !! 'You ren zai ma ??' ( translated: any souls around ??!! )"
No answer because there were no souls onboard.
Second boat, no one. Third boat, no one. Fourth boat, no boat.
Tara hear our prayers !!
We suddenly remembered that Firefly Tours took place only at night when the sun and the fireflies are out. At this time of the day, no boats would operate and so forget about cruising under the the water pipes to pluck the unfortunate creature to safety. Who thought of this in the first place ??!!
So we tumbled off the boats and carried on Grand Plan Three. We half ran and walked to a shop displaying bundles of tall bamboo poles. We must have been a picture of pathetique slime with t-shirts soaked through, nervous, grinning ( in futile bid to appear nice, kind, trustable and honest ). That good woman, probably the big boss's daughter, eyed us through questioning sockets. She didn't know what to say. Are they for real ?? What !! Bamboo poles ??!! Err... Pen knife ??!! You need fat reams of scotch duct tapes ??!! You want to loan from us ??!! Yes, that is your Singapore passports. Ok, you want to buy the tapes from me. Ok, you also want a net. Ok, you need these for a bird, a bird in distress. Yes, today is Vesak and we sould all do good. Yes, you people are sweet. BUT, wait. You are doing this for a bird. A BIRD !! I could come along if i don't believe you ?? Well, thanks but no thanks. Good luck !!
Again, we were off, back to the water pipes and that bird. A mother sentient being in distress !!
( the alien stick - at the moment 2-in-1 - whilst awaiting Rikzin's return with one more )
We connected the bambood pipes by winding them round and round and round and round and round with the duct tapes, scared to death they would disconnect and tumble into the river. We would then have to explain and pay the woman and doomed once more our rescue mission. So, we wound and connected and attached the rusty pen knife to its end.
The bamboo poles weighed 2 tons and the bird was getting alarmed at the alien stick swinging at it, so it struggled and flew and got jerked back, flew and got jerked back again and again whilst doing whatever it could to get away from our rusty blade and swinging pole.
That dumb creature was killing us !!
Our arms creaked, our bones creaked, and we swung and swung, again and again like there was no tomorrow. Things were not looking good. The poles had reached its extreme stress point and the the 2 connecting joints were sagging !! It had to be retracted. So it withdrew and rested on the bridge. Too short and the bird too wild. Someone needed to go back to convince Lady Boss to loan another long pole. The noble being called James and christened Rikzin Dorje shot up and went off. The rest of us winced and moaned on the bridge, the floor was burning and the vehicles were zooming. bb whipped out his newly-acquired Blackberry and thought to snap some pics while awaiting Rikzin's return so he could send and boast of CAS's heroism. Yes, frens @ CAS could rejoice and partake of the merit and we would then attain liberation together !!
Either idealism lives, stupidity lives, neither or both.
So, you could see the attached pics of that bird which destroyed our Tara retreat. Nearly 2 hours had passed. We had missed our second session and we were eating into the time slot of our third session.
As we got baked and fried on the bridge, mumbling mantras and prayers to little baby, Rikzin returned with another pole and more duct tapes !!
Wait no more. We connected the third pole and swang it out. The huddreds of vehicles behind us had been witness to our crazy antics andf thankfully, they were just flitting across and we were hoping they would:
a) see nothing
b) thought we were just celebrating vesak
c) think they had been thirsty and this had been bad for their brains
Our arms were DANGEROUSLY sore and blisters were getting squeezed out of our plams. Poor bb's hands which used to spank off Tchaikovsky's piano concertos and countless etudes and sonatas were giving way. 3 poles joined ARE heavy, very, very heavy !! Why did we have to do this ??!! This is Vesak !!
Rikzin and the rest would not have it. The bird must be saved.
It had grown even more determined to get away from our holy stick. The second assault of the alien stick had resumed. Wings were flapped even more wildly and every possible attempt must be done to get away from the sitck !!
Amidst mantras, curses could be heard escaping the not-completely-holy lips of that unworthy being called bb as he was deeply resentful of the bird's stupidity and ingratitude.
"XXX !! Stop flying idiot !! Idiot !! Sh ...t !! Stupid bird !! D ... mn bird !!"
bb slipped his burning hands off the 3-poles-connected-into-one and fell, despaired, miserable and torn apart on the boiling pavement. This could not be done. This is the bird's karma. We could light lamps for it at Dharamsala, at Drepung's new hall, in Rinpoche's room. No way, no way, my fingers are coming off and i am dying with the bird. My heart is failing and my hairs are slipping off my scalp !!
That noble being called Rikzin picked up the 3-poles-connected-into-one, however, and swang one more time, chanting the GREAT MANTRA od the NOBLE LORD CHENREZIG: OM MANI PEMAY HUNG OM MANI PEMAY HUNG OM MANI PEMAY HUNG OM MANI ..... and his pen knife caught the bird !!
Like magic, the bird was tolled back by his solitary pair of arms and was now hung ( unfortunately ) still by that evil line but, this time, on the pavement on the sides of the bridge !!
( the bad bird hooked but rescued )
Chenrezig has saved the bird !!
Holy Tara has saved the bird !!
Palden Lhamo has saved the bird and more technically, Rikzin's arms had caught the bird !!
Long-live all the above !!
We descended upon it and started assessing the damage. A circular hook had curved right into the bird's "thigh". When we use the word "curve", we mean "curve", really "curved" into its thigh !!
We twirled, twisted and squeezed the offensive hook while the bird pecked at our hands which were grabbing its wings. The other pairs of hands were tweaking the hook and they were pecked upon like machine guns !! Hell hath no fury a bird offended !!
We tweaked and turned and exchanged roles a few times and with the Buddhas' blessings, we tweaked out the insidious hook and the bird suddenly stopped and stared at us with red eyes. Was it tearing out of pain, relief and maybe, its eyes were simply born red.
When we let go of our hands, the bird hobbled off onto the rough pavement, then took off into the fair blue sky.
We wept when it flew off.
We are sure you will be a bird no more in your next life because you have heard and been blessed by Namgyalma mantras, Medicine Buddha mantras, however imperfect the tongues and lungs which produced them.
om tare tuttare ture soha !!
We love you tara, we love you, bird.
Listen to Tara:
( Holy Mother - oh, so full of grace and blessings !! )
p/s: Till this day, we have not managed to speculate on a convincing explanation of how birdie got hooked in the first place. Maybe, one day, when we meet it again, we will ask.
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