Introducing Angela – Here to Awaken

by | Oct 14, 2023 | Buddhism.net Blog

One of the things I hope I can contribute back to my family, my friends and people around me, is to share the deep timeless teachings of Buddhism with them, and hopefully, we can together realize this deep vast power we have yet to awaken — the mind.

Because, there is a saying: we share what we ourselves most need to learn.

By sharing the little that I’ve learnt about Buddhism and Dharma, I will also need to practice the methods and walk my talk. So this is a good thing for me to keep me on the noble path.

After all, our family members and inner circle friends are the closest ones to us — and if there is a mismatch or lack of integrity between the high ideals we preach vis-a-vis our daily behaviour, this would be the surest way to turn someone away from Buddhism and the Dharma. It is very important that we continually look inwards, and do the necessary inner work and transform ourselves. After all, we are not here to save anyone. We are here to transform our own mind.

Having (by causes & conditions) been put in this position where I can share some drops of Dharma nectar with people — I hope that it makes a difference to you. May you be able to connect with your inner compassion, your inner wisdom and awaken your innate Buddha nature, or as what my teacher Mingyur Rinpoche says, your basic innate goodness.

A common phrase we hear in Buddhism: union of Wisdom and Compassion. 

My playful take on it: union of Zen (Chinese Chan 禪宗) Timeless wisdom, and Tech boundless power. 

At the ultimate level, reality as it is, knowing pure awareness is both timeless and boundless. It is beyond duality, notions and concepts. For us to touch into this, is both easy and difficult at the same time. Easy, because fundamentally, our basic innate goodness and mind is exactly that already, as it is! Difficult, because most of us are not experiencing this awake mind on a daily basis, are we? So…while it is already whole and complete, there is nevertheless, a path to walk, and practice to cultivate.

Having a background in tech as well, I also hope that I can leverage the current boundless pervasive power of tech to share some drops of Dharma nectar.

May all sentient beings benefit.

May all sentient beings awaken to their innate Buddha nature.

So… How did I come into Buddhism?

At the Beginning, Here to Awaken

I remember looking up at the stars in the sky and asking “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?” as a young child.  Asking these 2 fundamental questions have driven how my whole life turned out, and shaped the arc of my life. 

To answer my questions, I dived deep into various modalities to understand the mind. Soon, I went for my first corporate-based mindfulness training, which led to my first 10-day vipassana silent meditation retreat. Eventually, I got into the Dharma door and met Buddhism. And everything changed after that. 

I realized Buddhism is exactly what I’ve been searching for since I was a child.

Listening to Dharma talks is like the sound of gentle raindrops to my ears. Immersing myself in Buddhism is like coming home.  The Dharma joy is indescribable. Soon, I was using every single day of my vacation leave for meditation retreats and multi-day teachings.  I did a short-term monastic training (including shaving my head and taking on the monastic vows/precepts for a short-term period), and before long, I decided to go all-in to deepening and immersing in Buddhism.  

The Turning Point — Contemplating Death and the Precious Human Life

As a Buddhist, I believe there is a past life, and there is a future life. I am lucky to have all the necessary conditions to get to know Buddhism (again!) this life, the fruition of very positive merits. I asked myself this question:

Death is certain, but the timing of death is uncertain.

Death is certain, but the mode of death is uncertain.

If I continued my current life as I was leading, would I have regrets at death?

What regrets would I have when I take my last breath?

A teacher of mine, Jetsunma Tenzin Palmo said (& I paraphrase) in one of the Dharma talks I attended:

Of all the sentient beings in the world, how many are human beings?

Of all the human beings in the world, how many have conditions ripe for practice, like being born in a place where Buddhism is taught, where people can freely practice Buddhism?

Of all the people who come into contact with Buddhism, how many bother to learn?

Of all those who learn, how many take refuge in Buddhism?

Of those who take refuge in the triple gems, how many practice and have deep faith?

Of those who bother to practice, how many sustain their practice and live the Dharma?

It is very rare. So much so that there is a parable: meeting the Buddha’s teachings is as rare as the one-eyed turtle surfacing from the bottom of the ocean to the surface once every 100 years. And in that moment of surfacing, his head directly goes through a hole in a floating sandalwood log in the ocean. 

This human life is very hard to attain,

The Buddha Dharma is very hard for one to even hear a word of,

If we do not use this life to awaken ourselves to our fullest Buddhahood (and Buddha nature of mind),

Then which life are we waiting to awaken ourselves?

Coming Home once again

Where am I now?

My baseline happiness has increased. 

There is increased spaciousness in the mind. 

There is increased clarity of mind. 

There is increased awareness, knowing.

There is increased forebearance and patience with difficult situations and people. 

There is greater ease. 

There is greater acceptance of instability and uncertainty (which is the truth anyway!).

Deep appreciation

I’m grateful to have received teachings and transmissions from so many precious teachers. I have shared these excellent teachers under the Resources section, which I hope will help you in your own journey.

I’m grateful to live in community in many Buddhist monasteries, retreat centres, and teaching centres, including those in Taiwan, Malaysia, Thailand, Nepal, India and Australia.

I’m grateful to have so many spiritual friends who always remind and nudge me if I’ve fallen into the river of unawareness.

I’m grateful that inspite of the ups and downs, there is still smile.

I’m grateful to have experienced difficulties and challenges, because the deeper and more difficult the people and situations you encounter, the stronger the awakening force for you to take refuge in the triple gems. And the clearer it becomes that everything is created by your mind. And all suffering (and end of suffering) is also created by your mind and a fruition of past karma or causes and conditions.

Here and Now

As the world becomes increasingly virtual and augmented, and as mental health problems increase, with all the problems we all know, Buddhism and the ageless teachings of Buddha become even more relevant.

We have a precious human life.

While deep sustained practice in an immersive manner is deeply beneficial and irreplaceable, we can nevertheless, start directly where we are, here and now.

Meditation can be done, anytime, anywhere.

Practicing patience can be done, right where you are, the temple of your house and the temple of your workplace. 

Practicing kindness, likewise. 

So, we do what we can, start where we are. There is no need to wait for any condition to be perfect to start. Now. This timeless present moment is where we start.

Angela Ho

Extra Ordinary human bean, sharing union of Zen (or Chan 禪) timelessness x tech boundlessness. 5 years spiritual sabbatical. Past life: leadership roles in Singapore public service. MIT and CMU graduate. Who is Angela? What's her story?