The Good Fortune Of Ageing
by Thrangu Rinpoche

If we consider it carefully, being able to live into old age
is actually a remarkably fortunate thing. If we had died while we
were young, we wouldn’t have had the chance to grow old.

Presently, in the 21st century, many countries have ageing societies and an increase in older members in the population. Although it is true that older people’s thinking differs from the rest of the population, it would be quite pointless to believe that we are no longer useful and just feel sorry for ourselves. Why is this so? If we consider it carefully, being able to live into old age is actually a remarkably fortunate thing. If we had died while we were young, we wouldn’t have had the chance to grow old.


We might not have had too much time to encounter the dharma and practice when we were younger. Perhaps we had to work hard to make a living and feed our families. Nevertheless, this period of toil has passed. Now that we are older and have retired, we have more opportunities to connect with and practice the dharma. We have more time to learn the dharma that benefits both current and future lifetimes. Thus, we need to really seize this opportunity and work hard at it. We can recite more prayers and do more good deeds, and especially practice the dharma diligently!

We should think about ageing in this positive way. If we examine our lives properly, we are not the only ones getting old; every single person in this world ages. It is an undeniable fact of life that we cannot change. Therefore, we need to make full use of this opportunity to practice the dharma. Doing so will definitely bring about results.


If you are older now, you have probably experienced many ups and downs and have some life experiences to share with younger people. You can tell them about your successes and failures and what attitudes they should take towards achievements and challenges. Remind them not to give in to jealousy and pride when they enjoy moments of success, and not to become devastated and succumb to life’s failures.

Encourage youth to really think for themselves. As an older person, it is your responsibility to share your precious experience. No matter if they take it to heart or not, based on a virtuous motivation, you have to share your experience with your children or other young people. View it as your responsibility to provide advice.


Now that our worldly concerns in this life are coming to an end, we should be grateful for this invaluable chance to grow old. We should regard this as a wonderful thing and be joyful and happy. We are all similar in the fact that everyone in the world ages, so we should be grateful for being able to live to a ripe old age! Thinking like this is not only beneficial for our bodies, but it also allows us to feel more relaxed mentally. It has great benefits for both mind and body.

We should do prostrations or circumambulate stupas whenever we can. This is both a form of dharma practice and a type of physical exercise. If feelings of jealousy, pride, anger, or sadness arise, we must carefully examine them and realise their faults. We need to frequently remind ourselves how fortunate we are to have obtained a precious human body and to have engaged in the study of the dharma!

Thrangu Rinpoche 19.

Knowing that the nature of anger and happiness is empty, just do not attach to them, and your karma will fall away.

— Bodhidharma

Bodhidharma 106.














Ven Miao Xiang (妙祥法师) 2.

Nurture your mind to loosen its grip on worries or fear, pressures to succeed, resentments or regrets, and instead look with love and generosity, embracing the potential in uncertainty, letting others be themselves, finding your inspiration.

— His Holiness Gyalwang Drukpa, Jigme Pema Wangchen

Gyalwang Drukpa 16.

Participation in the World
by Venerable Sheng Yen

Compassion is undoubtedly the foundation of Buddhist teachings, and it is compassion that resides in the hearts of all Buddhas and bodhisattvas. In order to foster compassion, the initial motivating force of an aspiring bodhisattva practitioner must be strong and secure. He or she must be equipped with correct views and effective methods. More importantly, the foundations for growth-a wholesome personality, compassionate sensibilities, and stability of mind-must be firm. To this end, bodhisattva practitioners should not only meditate regularly but also make use of every opportunity to interact with the world in order to hone their ability to help themselves and others.

A wholesome personality comes from the cultivation of the bodhi-mind, which can be described as the desire to help others overcome pain and suffering, along with the inclination to put the welfare of others before one’s own. To eliminate self-obsession and self-clinging, practitioners of the Dharma, and of Chan in particular, should develop the inner strength needed to let go of self-centredness and work to reduce their inclination toward craving, aversion, ignorance, arrogance, and doubt. The less dominated we are by these afflictive emotions, the stronger our bodhi-mind, and the greater our opportunity for gaining entry into the Dharma.

The aforementioned inner strength comes from the recognition of the interdependent relationships between ourselves and others. This recognition moves us and draws from us the capacity to reach out toward a deeper and wider circle of sentient beings. Living with this kind of mindset naturally reduces our feelings of separateness, alienation, and self-centredness. This inner strength can help us participate fully in the world, allowing us to give ourselves to others and to receive others into our lives. In this way, we can gradually be freed from suffering and eventually reach the safe shore of enlightenment-Buddhahood. Such an attitude is precisely the “right view” we often speak of in Buddhist discourse.

This right view can be manifested in many ways. Acting from the mind of compassion and understanding, one can naturally incorporate the ten good deeds, the five precepts, the four great vows, and the three sets of pure precepts into one’s life. Should you feel intimidated by the scope of these precepts, or that you will probably not be able to observe some of the five precepts and ten good deeds with comfort and integrity, you can elect to postpone taking on those particular precepts and provisionally accept only those you feel able to keep, along with the three sets of pure precepts and the four great vows. The point of taking the bodhisattva precepts is not to make practitioners feel guilty or anxious, but rather to plant the seed of compassion and wisdom in their minds. A practitioner who takes and agrees to keep the bodhisattva precepts with some exceptions will still be considered a bodhisattva. By taking the bodhisattva precepts, you enter into the great assembly and become another son or daughter in the family of Buddhas.

As stated before, the goal of attaining complete enlightenment for all sentient beings is intimidatingly lofty. Its realisation is subtle and profound, and the path leading to it is long and arduous. The conditions for achieving Buddhahood are rarer and more precious than the finest of this world’s jewels. Yet while Buddhahood is extremely difficult to attain, it is not impossible. We can attain it by mustering all our determination and putting forth all our effort. In other words, the “price” of Buddhahood is to give whatever it takes, to implement the Dharma with wholehearted, unreserved devotion. That means striving to achieve supreme wisdom on the one hand, while dedicating ourselves to the lasting, genuine happiness and eventual deliverance of all sentient beings on the other.

By purifying and washing away afflictive emotions and fundamental ignorance, we will increase our insight into the true nature of reality or wisdom. We can use this wisdom as a mirror with which to not only see ourselves but to let others see themselves to help them wash away afflictive emotions and ignorance too. To this end, we should work tirelessly to improve ourselves and practice good deeds to benefit ourselves and others. This is precisely the task of a bodhisattva as set forth in all systems of bodhisattva precepts: to keep all pure precepts, to practice all good deeds, and to deliver all sentient beings. Once again, I encourage all practitioners, whatever your abilities or dispositions, to take the bodhisattva precepts, so as to decisively establish yourselves on the path of liberation.

Ven Sheng Yen 94.

When asked about the importance of receiving teachings on dedication, Gape Lama answered, “Whatever Dharma practise we engage in, large or small, we must dedicate the merit. If we fail to dedicate, then whatever merit we have accumulated can be lost very easily in a moment of anger, or in giving rise to any afflictive emotion or action.

— Padmasambhava, Guru Rinpoche



我们生活在一个忙碌的信息化时代, 每天过着日复一日的单调生活,戴着连自己都看不清的面具与人相处。可此时的我们是否认真思考过,自己喜不喜欢这样的生活?


然而,失去自我的生活是苦不堪言 的,一个人每天都要扮演着不同的角色,应付着性格各异的人,既不想事事顺从别人的心意,又不能义正词严地表达自己的不满,因此内心世界的空洞便越来越大。终有那么一天,我们会在喧嚣闹市、灯红酒绿中迷惘、惆怅、寂寞、空虚,成为一个失去灵魂的人,这样的人生意义何在?






Lotus 118.

When you refrain from anger, you are protecting others not just from your anger but also from getting caught up in their own.

— 7th Dzogchen Ponlop Rinpoche

Ponlop Rinpoche 21.

by Anam Thubten Rinpoche

Many modern people who practice spirituality in a nontraditional or more secular fashion might not think about visiting a shrine or holy site, although they may go away from their homes to spend time in nature or participate in meditation retreats for a period of time. Going to see some famous historic religious sites as a tourist might not count as a pilgrimage, however.

Notre Dame of Paris, the Potala Palace, the Ajanta Caves, and the Borobudur attract many people who are purely interested in the historical significance or outstanding architecture; their only “prayers” might be to take some photos. The same people who visit Notre Dame will also go to the Louvre Museum and see the Mona Lisa for the same purpose of cultural exploration; they may also stay in luxurious hotels and try expensive French wine and cheese. Flocks of tourists paying visits to Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood to behold the footprints of movie stars and starlets, or going to the headquarters of world-renowned corporations such as Google to get a selfie next to the logo, don’t have anything in their mind that has to do with sacred.

The idea of pilgrimage is becoming increasingly antiquated and irrelevant to the younger generation in some parts of the world. Yet there are also many cultures today where pilgrimage is as alive as it always has been. It is an important observance for many Buddhists across diverse traditions. Millions of Buddhists aspire to see Bodh Gaya, where Shakyamuni Buddha became awakened under a tree. Once they get there, they don’t just spend time taking pictures, nor do they wine and dine; if they do, it is just a supplemental activity. Their main objective is to pray and meditate; to experience karmic purification and gain wisdom and insight into the nature of reality.

Because of modern conveniences, the quality of pilgrimage is becoming watered down. Taking a flight or a train, with constant access to food and restaurants, and having a hotel with countless amenities, is how many travel to see these ancient sites. It can be too comfortable and mechanical in comparison to the way people did it in the old days.

Before the modern era, people in Tibet would walk for days with only simple comforts to reach a holy site. They would usually carry staples themselves, or bring an animal to carry their basic necessities. For them, the starting point of their journey was as important as arriving at the destination. The whole journey was dedicated as a spiritual practice, with a daily focus on prayer and meditation. These pilgrims often went through an authentic conversion on such a journey, which was the initial intention that inspired them in the first place. Nowadays, fewer and fewer have the willingness to follow in the footsteps of those pilgrims of the past; today everything is expected to happen quickly and comfortably — including enlightenment.

A favourite memory that still revisits me after many years is walking in the snowy Himalayas on a pilgrimage as a young boy, making tea in the open air by boiling water from fresh rivers flowing down from the high mountains; eating tsampa while laughing with friends; reciting mantras that invoked connection with the sacred and love; and the ecstasy of seeing the holy mountains and images, washing the heart of all its pains. These are priceless moments that cannot be recreated easily at personal will, due to the impact of the time we are living in today, an era of comfort and technology.

Now and then, a deep grief arises in me over the loss of these old traditions. Some of the people who walked with me are gone from this world. Yet I wish their beautiful memory of such a journey is still travelling somewhere in the universe, even though their physical forms are already dissolved. Many memorable moments can never be fully captured or described in any way unless one has been in that specific time and place.

It might have to do with being brought up in a Buddhist culture that many of us feel the sense of the sacred upon visiting holy sites in the East. Unlike other parts of the world, Asia is full of Buddhist holy sites associated with buddhas and bodhisattvas. They are everywhere in China, India, Japan, and Korea. In the last few years, my friends have taken me to some sites in Asia that are historical as well as blessed by great masters of the past. A feeling of pure joy arises in me each time I visit them; I feel I’m embraced by something utterly wholesome. Sometimes I wish that there were Buddhist holy sites in the West where we could go on a pilgrimage and feel the same kind of blessing. Some might say that if our mind is open enough, anywhere can be a holy site.

I have had the good fortune to travel to the heart of Canyon De Chelly in the US a few times to do Chod retreats with some wonderful friends. The inside of the canyon is quite rugged and devoid of any touch of modernity. We hiked a few hours both ways, going in and coming out. Each of us brought our camping tents and gear, along with simple food. I ate lots of ramen noodles for their convenience, which is not part of my usual daily diet. Almost every day, we took long walks and then sat and performed rituals. To me, it was such a powerful pilgrimage that words cannot describe its full impact, which is still continuing in me. There are a few memories that I would like to cherish for the rest of my life. This is one of them.

In the end, pilgrimage is not so much about feeling holy or encountering divine visions along the way, but it is an invitation to each of us to look into all our attachments and let go of them. Can we experience a profound sense of letting go of all the comforts that are part of a modern pilgrimage? We might like to try to keep the tradition of ancient pilgrims that can help us go through life-changing experiences by dropping our inner bondage.

Anam Thubten 17.

Of all the worldly passions, lust is the most intense. All other worldly passions seem to follow in its train.

— The Buddha

Bronze Buddha