Date: 13/12/2012 10:16:19 AM
Subject: [CASonline] Brenton Wong








( The boring editor’s boring intro. )

















“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















An Interview.



Dearest 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, yet.


Hence, we 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 …. )




bb & 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 now?

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 Rinpoche?

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 empowerments.


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 pure view.


10) Could you share with us someone or a few people whom you feel has made a great impact upon your life?

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!



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