Parting Shots ~ Introduction
Printed for Free Distribution.
Not For Sale.
The Cover-picture is of me riding off
into the sunset on my trusted steed.
As with all my previous books, there
is no copy-right on this one. Anyone who would like
to use anything from it may do so, without permission,
just as I did without asking permission to quote from
various people within; we all use others’ words.
All I ask is that they do not copy wrong.
For more information on Rev. Abhinyana,
please log on to:-
UNIVERSAL DHARMA at
Parting Shots was left incomplete by Venerable Abhinyana
at the time of his demise on the 14th of April 2008
in Nambour, Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia.
A group of his friends have taken it upon themselves
to complete his “Parting Shots”.
This book is dedicated to the loving memory of Michael
George Houghton, better known as the
May his memory live on forever through
his close friends and through all his books.
Foreword to Parting Shots
On that fateful day of August 18th
1976, I met a barefoot Western monk, Ven. Abhinyana,
getting down from a rickshaw with an apple-box containing
his worldly goods. Being a playful teenager, I didn’t
pay much attention to him,as monks come and go at
the Seck Kia Eenh Temple in Melaka.
I was wrong, for over the years to come, our ties
bonded like glue and he soon become my spiritual teacher,
mentor and lately, he called me his “loyal Dharma
friend.” Not difficult to say that the Queen
of England is your friend but if she addresses you
as her friend, that is something else. We don’t
always agree on everything, and our ties were put
to acid tests on many occasions, almost severing them
during the days of snail mails. Nevertheless, they
survived the tempests, and we are now grinding away
like tongue and teeth.
In my happy-go-lucky days, I would take him to his
Dharma-talks and occasionally point out the mistakes
of the translators, and remind him of good and bad
times. For that, he maintains that I have a good memory
and he, a good forgettory.
He would use a good mixture of “foreign words”
and local dialects in his talks, claiming to get the
listeners’ attention which he does to great
success. There were also times when it back-fired.
“Get up and try again, for am I not the devil’s
advocate, here to provoke and wake people up?”
he would say.
Throughout the years, I’ve learnt so much from
his talks. Never a good reader and most definitely
not a writer, I have only good ears. The countless
times I send him for talks, sometimes hours away,
I would listen and emulate him whenever the opportunity
While walking on a street one day, facing the traffic,
we come across a lady walking towards us. As she came
nearer, Ven. walked on the outer side of the street
and I, on the inside thus splitting us. He gestured,
“Although the lady was wrong in walking with
her back towards the traffic, we can practice Dharma
here. When our paths meet, we should walk on the outer
side because we can see the traffic and she couldn’t.
By walking on the inside, we would have forced her
out to the on-coming traffic behind her, wouldn’t
we?” This is the teaching of the Ven. Abhinyana,
simple yet profound.
Another example of his simple teaching I remember
well is when we were donating blood at the local hospital.
In the form we need to fill in a column which ask
for - race. He wrote, “human” and said,
“When you are a victim, do you really need to
know where the blood you are about to receive, whom
it comes from?”
A man his age, at 61½ today, he puts many
a youngster to shame. You’d be astonished at
the feats he performed in trekking in the mountains
of Nepal and his untiring journeys in India, writing
poems and articles as he went, beside rivers, in caves
and mountains ~ feats not easily performed without
determination and enjoyment of nature and life as
a whole. Even the mishaps and misadventures couldn’t
hold him back.
“Venerable Sir, our paths are different and
may never converge but all these 30 years of knowing
you, I have only 3 words to say:
I SALUTE YOU!
You have touched the hearts of many here in Malaysia
and other parts of the world. We cannot offer you
much, but only wish you well and may your undying
efforts in pursuit of Dharma finds you in the best
December 11th, 2007.
Introduction to Parting Shots
By Reverend Dhammika
The book you hold in your hand is written by someone
who has reached that time which we will all come to
sooner or later ~ where the portion of life is about
to end and a new one begin. For some, that time will
be brief and comfortable, for the writer it is proving
to be drawn-out and difficult. Like so much in life,
we cannot chose which of these two we will have. There
is however, one thing we can choose ~ how we spend
that time. The Buddha said; ‘Train yourself
like this, “Though my body be sick, my mind
shall not be sick.’ ” I know that Abhinyana’s
body is sick, very sick, in the grip of an octopus,
as he puts it. But reading this, his summing up, it
is obvious that his mind is still as clear and sharp
as ever. And as always, he writes with honesty and
directness. He clarifies the Dharma and urges his
readers to give up the superstitions that infest so
much traditional Buddhism and return to the simple,
straightforward and commonsense teachings. That old
piquant sense of humor is still there too, poking
fun at others’ foibles as well as his own. What
is missing is regret, maudlin reflections and ‘if
onlys’. I assume this is because Abhinyana doesn’t
have any. If you can face your end as you lived you
life then you are doing okay.
Abhinyana and I first met years ago, our paths diverged,
met again and again went off in different directions.
Now we have come together once more, this time via
the internet, and are soon to part for good in this
life. I don’t know if he will take with him
anything I was able to give him. But I do know that
I will long retain some of the things he gave me ~
an uproariously funny story, a barbed-comment that
brought me back down to earth, a new angle on one
of the Buddha’s sayings, genuine if sometimes
difficult friendship. To all of us he gives these
Introduction to Parting Shots
Upon being questioned why I’d
For the title of this book, “Parting Shots”,
Sounding somewhat militaristic in today’s clime
(And one wonders if it will ever be anything else?)
I recalled that the Buddha had said somewhere
About His monks being warriors,
In that they should not be afraid to stand up
Against everything that is not true;
A monk should be a danger-man,
And consequently, should be prepared
To become unpopular, because
Truth is not very palatable.
Tread not this path if popularity
It is not for you.
BIODATA OF (REV.) ABHINYANA
- Born in England, August 18th,1946.
- Raised a Christian, but left Christianity when
I left school.
- From childhood, I always wanted to go to India.
There were no family-connections with that country,
but it called me. It wasn’t until years later
that I first got there.
- In 1965, I left England for the first time, and
began my extensive world-travels.
- Encountered Islam when I went to Turkey in 1967;
impressed with Muslim architecture.
- Stumbled across Buddhism in India in 1970; it
made complete sense; decided to become a monk.
- At the end of 1970, I went to Australia to inform
my parents that I’d be going back to India
to become a monk.
- Left Australia in ‘71 to Indonesia. Stayed
in many temples in Java and Sumatra; that’s
where I learned how to chant in Pali.
- From Medan to Penang in 1971. Stayed in MBMC (Malaysian
Buddhist Meditation Centre).
- Spent some months in a cave-temple in Ipoh. Returned
to Penang in ‘72 to ordain in Theravada there.
Shortly afterwards, went to Thailand for a year.
Found Thai Buddhism too narrow; it had become a
thing of tradition centuries ago, and wasn’t
something to live by.
- Returned to Malaysia in ’73; spent almost
a year in Taiping Buddhist Society.
- Retuned to India in ’74.
- Remained in Australia, ‘75/’76.
- My first visit to Malacca, 1976. Stayed in Seck
Kia Eenh. Took Chinese robes in Phor Kark See, Singapore,
on the condition that I didn’t want to be
a Mahayana monk, any more than I wanted to be a
Theravada monk. The Ven. Hong Choon said that as
long as I was vegetarian and preached Dharma, it
was alright. Met Goh Hock Guan in Malacca, and maintained
contact with him and his family since then. He Took
Refuge from me, subsequently became Dharmavira.
- In 1979, went to Philippines, intending to spend
maybe 3 months there, but I became involved with
the Vietnamese boat-people and spent 5 years in
the Refugee Camps there. I also spent some time
working in the jails of Manila.
- In Philippines, I wrote my first book, “Keys
For Refugees”, to encourage the Vietnamese
Buddhists to keep their religion and not to succumb
to the pressures of the Christian missions to convert.
I continued writing from then, and to date have
written 12 books.
- ‘80’s / ‘90’s, I criss-crossed
Malaysia, giving talks in every state. My talks
were translated in places where people didn’t
know much English.
- Spent several years in Australia.
- Made several long trips in the US and Canada.
Went to India and Nepal again. Even went to Pakistan
to visit the ancient Buddhist places; had a good
time there ~ people friendly and hospitable.
- In August 2006, I returned to Malacca to keep
an appointment with Goh Hock Guan. He and his family
celebrate my 60th birthday this month. I sometimes
wonder how I managed to reach this point.
- Diagnosed with Cancer of the Esophagus in November
Life is like a river ~
Straight, it seldom flows,
But twists and turns and winds about,
As on and on it goes