( The boring editor’s boring
“Attached is the interview
- hope it's OK. As for image, can you use a green tara as
she is one of my favourite deities? thanx!” b
Friends @ CAS ( Phuntsok Cho Ling ),
CAS has been
so faceless for years and decades ( except for the ostentatious
editor of CASonline ) that we melt invisibly into Dharma programmes,
schools, offices, farms and Emptiness, the latter not completely,
thought to present a being ( creature ?? ) @ CAS who nonetheless
is so steal! thily encroaching within the realm of Bodhisattva-Incognito,
Egoless-cum-Selfless-Serving, so successfully that He could
breeze past and perceived merely as the strange, untold shadow
with a thousand hands, hands that has borrowed money to give
money to bring ailing monks to hospitals, hands that has fed
and housed abused animals without a home, hands which has
given out ( sponsored ) condoms to sex workers to keep them
from death and so many more impossible to exhaust.
Oh yes, and
He always offers His apartment to Rinpoches, monks and dislocated
people, then fed them good food, all the time.
So, we now
unveil this mystical spectacle, so full of fun, life and glory,
so dedicated to His holy Teachers, the holy Dharma and “making
the world a better place, for you and for me and the entire
human race”, ( and beyond …. )
TARE TUTTARE TURE SOHA !!”
other beings ( creatures with hands ) @ CAS
Brenton Wong ( after Enlightenment )
1) Could you tell us about yourself?
I am just a simple human being, looking
for some meaning in life. I went to a mission school in
my primary and secondary school years, where there would
be chapel services and we would sing hymns and have sermons
from the bible. I did learn about Christianity, but decided
that was not for me, so I began looking outside the Christian
tradition, in search for a deeper meaning in life. After
my National Service and while I was studying in university,
I began to read up more on other religious traditions. That’s
when I discovered books by Buddhist authors and began reading
up on the various Buddhist traditions and philosophies.
2) What is your occupation before and
I started off as a journalist for a local
newspaper, then went into fashion design for which I had
received training. I had a few good years as a designer,
but after awhile lost interest, so I went back into publishing.
Now I do freelance writing and editing.
3) Yourself have been no stranger
to the press and limelight and you have been known to fight
for causes like Aids, the safety and rights of sex
workers at some of the most difficult places on earth. Why
do you do these and what do you want to share?
For awhile, I was a full-time activist,
working in the Asia-Pacific region on issues dealing with
HIV/AIDS. It was my way of contributing to a larger cause
and to lend a voice to the disenfranchised. I credit my
father with encouraging me to do the work – as he had always
taught us to stand up for the rights of all, especially
the down-trodden and under-privileged. It was also at this
time, in the mid-1990s, that I became a devotee of Guanyin,
the Bodhisattva of Compassion. Her name translates to “She
who hears the cries of the World” and I found that concept
of unyielding compassion very compelling and something that
I wanted to emulate. Mind you, I hadn’t taken any refuge
vows, I was simply enthralled with the idea that one should
be of service to others and develop boundless compassion
for all sentient beings. I even set up a little altar with
a Guanyin statue on it, and would offer incense.
4) When did you become a Buddhist and
why did you become one ?? How was the process like?
It all began very innocuously – I
was chatting on the internet with a stranger about Buddhism,
as he seemed to be quite an experienced practitioner. This
was in 1999. He encouraged me to go for a talk by a visiting
Rinpoche in Geylang. So the next week, I went to the centre,
but was told that the talk was the next day… so I wandered
around Geylang and came by another Tibetan Buddhist centre
and went to read the notice board. As I was reading the
programmes pasted on the board, the resident Rinpoche happened
to walk by – and he tapped me on my shoulder and sai! d
to me, “OK, I will see you tomorrow at noon.”. I hadn’t
even asked him anything, as I was so absorbed with questions
about Buddhism. I thought it very strange, but nonetheless,
the next day I went to see him. We talked about Buddhism
and he answered whatever questions I had, and even gave
me a book on lam rim (stages on the path to enlightenment)
to read. I left the centre, with even more questions… walked
around Geylang again and happened by another centre. This
time I went in to try and speak with the resident teacher,
and was told she was not in but that I could speak to her
over the phone. This was the Amitabha Buddhist Centre, and
the resident teacher then was Venerable Sangye Khadro, an
American nun. We spoke over the phone for over an hour,
as she patiently answered my questions about Buddhism and
what it meant to be a Buddhist. At the end of the conversation,
I told her that I was ready to be a Buddhist. She said it
was not a decision to be taken lightly, and that she wanted
to meet me face-to-face to have a further conversation.
I waited at the centre for her, as she made her way there
to meet me. We continued our conversation and she queried
me on my understanding of what Buddhism was and my own personal
journey. In the end, she declared that I was indeed ready
to go on the Buddhist path – and decided to give me my refuge
vows there and then. I guess my karma had ripened. Thus
began my journey as a Buddhist, and I will be eternally
grateful to ani-la for her patience, understanding and compassion
– and her great gift.
5) You have been a close student
of HH the 100th Ganden Trisur, the Official Head of
the largest Tibetan Buddhist school of which the Dalai Lama
is a prominent member of. Could you share with us about
the close spiritual bond between yourself and Trisur
In Tibetan Buddhism, special emphasis is
placed on the guru-student r! elationship. I first met my
guru when CAS organised his first programme to Singapore
in 2000. This was also the first time I had been in contact
with CAS and its many devoted members. Before that, I was
going for lam rim teachings, teachings on bodhicitta and
attending several lower tantra retreats – basically trying
to lay a foundation for my practice. So when I had the opportunity
to get teachings and empowerments from Trisur Rinpoche,
I jumped at the chance, as I knew it was indeed a rare honour.
During the teachings, empowerments and personal consultations,
I felt a bond naturally grow between Rinpoche and myself.
It is said that your guru is someone who is able to help
transform your mind – and indeed he did, just by his gentle
demeanour, encouraging words and through his actions, I
was moved to practice the dharma with more energy and determination.
It was also the first time I received highest yoga tantra
6) You have been very instrumental in
helping to organise many Dharma programmes in Singapore,
some of which with CAS. How have your experiences been?
I am quite sure some of them have been heavenly whilst others
traumatic. Do tell us more.
Heavenly – always. Traumatic – never. I
have tried my best to support CAS as I realise the good
and hard work that has been put into those dharma programmes.
And the CAS members and friends do it with so much love,
energy and devotion that it becomes inspiring. What has
impressed me is how tirelessly CAS has worked to promote
the dharma with their many programmes, reaching out to countless
beings in Singapore and beyond.
7) You have been extremely kind, generous
and patient towards CAS and its myriad work through sponsoring
wildly expensive and precious holy thangkas, hosting little
prayer sessions in your apartment, cooking spaghetti (vegeta!
rian of course) for hungry practitioners and even running
irritating errands like going to the Indian embassies and
dealing with formidable officers. How did you manage? Why
do you do it?
No chore is too great nor too irritating
– it’s all in the mind. I put it to my lojong practice (haha)
and also am mindful to take heed the advice of great masters
like Trisur Rinpoche and HH Dalai Lama to be of service
to others. How not to feel grateful for being given the
opportunity to create merits for oneself and others?
8) What advice will you like to share
with lay Buddhists, especially lay practitioners?
There are two important things I have learnt
– listen to your guru(s) and also practice, practice, practice.
9) What practices are you focusing on?
Which do you find most helpful?
I have commitments to do daily practice
on highest yoga tantras. I find myself leaning more towards
the Mother tantras, following the path of bliss. Also the
six-session guru yoga commitments – these I find are helpful
to remind me to practice bodhicitta as well as to keep a
10) Could you share with us someone
or a few people whom you feel has made a great impact upon
Trisur Rinpoche as my root guru has transformed
my laziness, ignorance and arrogance and hopefully made
me a better person and practicing Buddhist. I still think
about him and pray for his swift rebirth. CAS as a group
has helped me tremendously in my growth and evolution as
a Buddhist practitioner – my eternal gratitude for helping
to spread the dharma to myself and countless beings.
11) What wishes do! you have for Buddhism
in Singapore and for yourself?
My hope is that Buddhism will continue
to grow – all the various traditions, and that the people
will learn more about the dharma. As for myself – I just
hope that I would be able to fulfil my vows – and to one
day (in this, or other lives) be able to gain enlightenment
for the sake of all sentient beings.
12) Is there anything which you want
to tell the one thousand plus friends in CASonline?
Practice, practice, practice!
DHARMA; SHARE DHARMA !!"
part of our thousand++ "Friends
@ CAS" (
that belongs to Chenrezig & other holy beings )
wanna number my days in samsara. sUBSCRIBE mE NOW !!"
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