The Early Life
Writer and Student
Artist and Meditator
having a look in good
Vanessa Anne Walsh
Praise to Manjushri
zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz (starts off with a little bit of sleeping)
Homage to my Guru and Protector,
Who holds to his her heart a scriptural text
(little bit of girly laughing)
Symbolic of seeing all things as they are
Whose intelligence shines forth
unclouded by delusions or traces of ignorance
full of compassion
Who teaches in sixty ways, with the loving compassion
Of a father for his only son,
All creatures caught in the prison of samsara,
Confused in the darkness of their ignorance,
Overwhelmed by the suffering.
You, Buddha, whose dragon-thunder-like proclamation of Dharma,
Arouses us from the stupor of our delusions
And frees us from the iron chains of our karma,
Who wields the sword of wisdom hewing down suffering
(an awesome flight over the grand canyon, just like the one my father took me on when I was seven)
Wherever it sprouts appear,
(It was amazing flying up close to the cliff face and stopping suspended in the air)
Clearing away the darkness of all ignorance;
You, whose princely body is adorned,
With the one hundred and twelve marks of a Buddha,
Who has completed the stages achieving
The highest perfections of a Bodhisattva,
(more laughing)…thanks so much Lama Zopa
Who has been pure from the beginning,
I bow down to you Manjushri.
OM AH RA PA SA NA DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI DHI
With the brilliance of your wisdom, O Compassionate One,
Illuminate the darkness enclosing my mind,
Enlighten my intelligence and wisdom
So that I may gain insight
Into the Buddha’s words and the text that explain them.
Listen like a deer to the Holy Dharma
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Not a random act of courage
This is a story about a young girl, named Oceané, who is raised by her family under the illusion that material comfort and prosperity will always be a given in life. Once her family unit collapses and she faces the loss of her material status, Oceané begins to realize she is ill-equipped mentally to handle the perilous journey she quickly finds herself on. Battling to find direction and meaning to life throughout her university years, she embarks on a spiritual quest to unlock the door to mental peace and happiness. After many years of searching, she finally meets a true spiritual guide, and her life begins to take a happy turn. As this master empowers Oceané with the confidence to explore her true potential, he slowly guides her towards states of inner peace and fulfillment that are beyond Oceané’s wildest imaginings.
Little does Oceané realize that her decision to follow a spiritual guide will set off a chain of events that will see her ostracized by her friends and family and left simply with the support of her companion Noah, and spiritual guide, Rinpoche. Oceané’s mother, Grace, becomes her arch nemesis, in a battle to prove that Oceané is wasting everyone’s time and money pursuing the spiritual path. Grace becomes determined to prove it is only by harming others and living selfishly that one has any chance of securing material success. Oceané confronts failure upon failure, and disappointing losses and hardships before finally deciding to retreat from the world in an effort to uncover the true source of her problems.
This is a story about how to achieve inner peace.
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These days, people commonly think that living a fast paced life style is something to chase after and work towards. In reality, nothing could be further from the truth. If happiness is what you are looking for, the only real way to achieve this is by understanding the nature of reality and learning how to control and harness the positive potential and energy of one’s mind. To achieve inner peace, one must turn one’s focus inwards and observe the mind. The mind is not the brain. The mind is clear and knowing, having no shape, form or color. Only the grosser levels of consciousness depend upon the functioning of the brain. Subtle levels of mind will know and see that the mind itself is formless. The omniscient mind of Buddha perceives all objects.
Instead of being pushed and pulled in every direction by one’s negative thoughts, such as desire, attachment, anger, hatred, jealousy, competitiveness, doubt, pride, wrong view and ignorance, one is required to abandon harmful and destructive ways of thinking, letting go of wrong objects that cause the mind to become agitated and upset. The reason one must abandon all negative ways of thinking and acting is because only by abandoning the negative mind, can one secure a state of being that is free from suffering. Attachment, aversion and ignorance are the three poisonous minds that cause endless suffering to both ourselves and others. Only by achieving inner peace can one secure real peace. Nirvana is peace and enlightenment is the fully purified state of perfection.
I could write a discourse on the path to inner peace and happiness, however it is of more use to explain a little bit more about family life, to help aid and further develop our understanding of the ways and means to achieve inner peace and freedom from suffering.
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Not Really Sixteen
When I was about 16 years old, my mother failed to arrive home after an overseas trip. This was a very traumatic thing for me at the time, because I really felt much of the happiness and prosperity we were used to receiving came directly from the love given to us by our mother. I had a bit of a biased opinion of my father at the time, and even though he worked very hard as a General Practitioner and a Surgeon, I was very much turned against him because of the acrimony that was constantly on display between both my parents.
I don’t really feel there is much point churning over and over in one’s mind the events from the past, unless there is something really valuable to be learnt from such events. However, I did choose to write my life story, and as it stands, this is what unfolded at the time.
One day at dawn I awoke with the realization and happiness that this was the day my mother was due to arrive home after a month-long overseas trip to Canada. I usually hated it when my parents went overseas, because we were always left to live with a frightfully horrible nanny, who showed absolutely no mercy or love, kind of like one of those horribly mean-spirited characters out of a Charles Dickens novel.
To say that I was excited by the prospect of her return is surely an understatement, so you can imagine my dismay when she didn’t arrive home at the time she was expected to return. I did my best to ring the airlines and the hotel, but was told that she had checked out and no-one really knew of her whereabouts from the time she left the hotel a day earlier in Singapore. Having become so anxious, I turned to my father for support, but he showed absolutely no interest in helping me look for my mother. In fact, when I tried to ring the hospitals in Singapore to see if she had been in an accident or fallen ill, he cut off the phone lines to the house to prevent me from continuing my search.
Left alone in a home that offered what appeared to be little in the way of real love and understanding, I felt absolutely gutted and isolated by my father’s inability to show compassion or to recognize that I really needed to find out what had happened to Mum. Everything felt so fragile at the time, like at any moment, I could find myself living out on the streets with no support or protection.
Having become a Buddhist since that time, I really understand how very difficult it is trying to navigate one’s way through reality without having a proper source of refuge. In Buddhism, one takes refuge from suffering in the Three Jewels, the Buddha, His teachings – The Dharma, and the Arya Sangha. Three times during the morning and three times in the evening, one recites the refuge prayer as follows:
I go for refuge until I’m enlightened
In the Buddha, the Dharma and the Sangha
From the merit I create from practicing giving and other perfections
May Iattain the state of a Buddha in order to benefit all sentient beings.
Taking refuge and having a daily practice of meditation makes a huge difference to one’s life. When one doesn’t know how to control one’s own negative mind, little problems can become big problems very easily. Furthermore, if a big problem or issue does arise, by taking refuge and meditating in the proper manner, developing the right motivation, the correct view and compassion, one is able to face the difficulty and hardship with a positive attitude, determination and strength. This makes it easier to figure out the right action to take in difficult situations, and also helps to reduce the suffering, both mental and physical, that one might otherwise encounter under such circumstances.
After I realized none of us knew where Mum was, that she had missed the flight; that she had checked out of the hotel in Singapore, and that she hadn’t been able to call us and let us know that something had gone wrong, my mind really went into a spin. When I got home from school later that day, with Mum still missing and Dad showing absolutely no interest in taking the necessary steps to try to find her, I went absolutely berserk and flew off the handle at him.
I arrived home, and with Dad busy working in the surgery, I seized the opportunity to try to contact the international directory service to find out if Mum had been admitted to a hospital in Singapore. Frantically dialing the operator, I tried to locate the names and numbers of hospitals in Singapore, however midway through the first phone call the phone line went dead. I rushed up into Dad’s work rooms to use another phone line and continue with my investigations. However, Dad was already waiting at the switchboard controls, having already cut the phone line to the house, so as to prevent me from making my inquiries.
“Dad, are you out of your mind,” I cried. “Why aren’t you doing something to find Mum?”
“You are not ringing any hospitals in Singapore”, he said ferociously. “Go and do your homework,” he said as he pushed me out of his office.
I began to cry in dismay. “You are so horrible. Mum is missing and you won’t help me find her.” My stomach churned in anguish at the helplessness of the situation. I left the surgery in disgust. Having nowhere to turn and faced with a deep desire to get as far away from my father as possible, I retreated to my bedroom, to lie on my bed in despair. Thoughts regarding the whereabouts of my mother continued to plague me. I lay on the bed until dinner time, as the day gradually turned into night, all the while staring at the sky searching for answers to the obvious problems life now presented to me without Mum at home to protect us.
Copyright © Vanessa Anne Walsh 2019