Sunday, November 10, 2013

Spend time with your family, everyday is precious

Today I spend some quality time with my family (Parent and Sibling), we went to the Singapore Zoo.

My Mom told me that she has not been to the zoo for the past 30 years and she really amaze by all the changes, especially the open concept used by the zoo where animals have more space to move around the enclosure. 

Well, I have very fond memories of the zoo. When I was still a young kid, my Dad actually managed to loss us in the zoo. During that time, my Brother and I went missing at the zoo. When we were hungry we will just go to the toilet and drink from the tap water. While my brother was cool about being lost (he was busy reading at the bookstore), I cried from the hunger and losing my Dad. Lucky for us, some kind people / staff notice me and later we were reunited with my Dad.

I still remember that the first meal I had after being "found" was an A&W fast food, sadly this fast food restaurant had ceased operation in Singapore. I still remember that my Mom was so worried that she rushed from work down to the zoo, my Dad was lucky that she arrived slowly after we were found else my Dad will get a longer earful from my Mom.

Wow, how time has flies and I am now a 30+ guy. Now it is my turn to bring my parent to the zoo and I am so glad that I did, it is a great feeling to spend quality time with my loved ones. 

Please remember that every day while we are growing old, our parent are also growing old. When was the last time you actually take a good look at your parent. So please, when your parent are still around I hope you can treasure them and spend some time with them, bring them out for meal or fun or just talk to and listen to them.

I know I would do so and I know that I would looked back with fondness as I looked back to those memories. 

I hope that you and your family will be free from harm and take care of yourself happily. 

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Putting things down, letting it go.


While on my way to yoga today a thought came into my mind. "To realize Nibbana, I have to let go of even the Dhamma which has helped me when faced with the worldly winds". I felt upset and teared a little as my life has been transformed since dedicating myself to the practice. 

"All beings want to be happy, to be with the things they like, not be separated with what they treasured" (e.g. family, friends, belief etc). The Tathagata said that we should treat the Dhamma as an instrument (e.g. boat) so that after we are done with it, we can set it aside. But deep down I really do not want to let go even if that is the right thing to do. Even if I can recall those teachings I still feel sadness in my heart.

It was not long before another thought came into my mind, "While the things we treasured has come to an end, we should be glad that due to our Kamma, we have an opportunity to be with them for whatever period of time we had". 

Things will change, I will die, that is for sure. I just hope that I would have practice enough to be able to face those situations when I have to part with things I hold dear to.

Similarly I hold you (the reader) will have the strength to face those situation in whatever skillful ways you subscripted to.

May you be at peace and happy.


Sunday, April 14, 2013

The past 6 weeks...

Well, I have been reading a lot of Dhamma books in the past 6 weeks than I would have in the past 1 year. Maybe it is the suffering that I am having on the job given that I was not working for the past 2 years but it is a "good" kind of suffering that teaches people. Anyway here are some random thoughts that came into my mind in the past 2 days. Hope you may find it useful.

(1)
Be a good farmer, 
Knowing what seeds yield the most profit,
Watering the crop and removing weeds,
Using compost and letting nature do its work,
Knowing that all thing has its place and time.

(2)
When sensation arise, thoughts without wisdom is like adding oil to fire, things get burn down.
While thoughts with wisdom is like adding water to fire, putting out the raging fire.
If there's not enough water, one should stand aside and let the fire burn itself out.

(3)
He sat there watching,
watching Mara's armies and tempting daughters,
He sat there patiently and endure,
endure the rising and falling of sensation,
He with patient and compassion, gone across to the other shore.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Listening to the Sound of the World

Bodhisattva Guan Yin, Avalokiteshvara

观世音 is the Chinese word for Avalokiteshvara or Bodhisattva Guan Yin. The Chinese world consisted of 3 characters.

观 - Listening / Observing
世 - World
音 - Sound

The Bodhisattva is a symbol for compassion and takes the form of a female in Northern Chinese Buddhism. She is depicted in 1 form as having thousand of hands, eyes, what I think this means is that the Bodhisattva has wisdom (the eyes) and uses skillful means to help (the hands) those who are suffering. 

Not a post on Guan Yin but on mediation

This post is not really a post about the history or belief in the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara but rather a view on meditation using the "Inner Sound" as taught by Ajahn Sumedho in this e-book

It was only after reading page 30 - 33 that I finally have a new understanding and appreciation for the word Avalokiteshvara. 

Instead of using breath or any other meditation objects, we are taught to use an inner sound (please refer to the e-book for instruction). By calming and stilling the mind, we can better appreciate the nature of all mental formation as "Sabbe Sankhara Dukkha" (All formations are unsatisfactory).

I bet some of us will experience having beaten ourselves by having negative inner dialogs, and we know that such dialogs can get pretty real and drain our energy and cause negative feeling, thoughts and action. But if we can use the inner sound to claim and still the mind, we can instead chose to be a observer and listen to our inner dialogs, hopefully with enough mindfulness, we will not get involved in those dialogs. 

Some Thai Ajahn said that to understand the Dhamma, we do not need to always refer to books. Instead we can try to understand our heart. In other words we have the resources in us to understand Dhamma and we do not need to seek it outside, we have the whole world in our heart. 

I hope that my readers will realized what I am trying to say. In order for us to better ourselves in meditation and Dhamma practice, we have to Listen to our heart and be brave to face all things that will arise in our mind. 

I hope you will read the e-book and find new meanings to your practice.  

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Back to work, back to "fear".

A nightmare

So, I have a nightmare last night. In the dream I was faced with a table full of outstanding claims to process, so much so that I shouted that I want to quit the job. Actually, I haven't even started working yet (Friday is the first day) and I took about 3 months to land this position. I shared this with my brother and he said that it is my body manifesting the fear that I have. I don't deny that I have fear of not able to cope with the workload since I have been unemployed for the past 2 years as I focus on my studies, I am used to my own time and pace of doing things. I also doubts my abilities to do a good job since I have no experience handling this class of claims.

That little bit of awareness

I guess my previous practice of meditation and general awareness have filter into the dreamscape, I told myself in the dream that what I am feeling is just fear and anyway I don't have any back-up plan and I have rejected other job interviews, so there is really no other way out. Such awareness doesn't happen often but when it does, the result is usually a clear remembrance of the content and decision made in the dream.

Post-analysis

Fear is just the mind natural response to new and unknown things, the differences being whether the fear is:
  • Justified or Unjustified
  • Acute or Chronic
  • Rational or Un-rational
The above points might spake debate among some readers, so I am just going to leave it that fear regardless of the points above is real fear to the person feeling it. Just like any sort of event, feelings or emotions that arise, these will also falls. I am not going to believe my negative thoughts until I have more information and experience in my new job.

So you want happiness?

Am I viewing the job as something that will affect my level of happiness? Living my life at my own pace for the past 2 years is really a luxury that I enjoyed. But all things will come to an end and I guess I have to find new ways to create happiness. I find this to be an interesting read on creating happiness in daily lives and will try it out, I hope you will find it useful and share with others.


Friday, July 20, 2012

The $1 Meditation

Returning home via the subway this afternoon, I notice a young lady looking at the lottery tickets in her hands. Her face clearly show the expectation of being the next lottery winner, well I can imaging it since the winning price (as least for the sole winner) is a cool S$1.6 million. Wow!!! think about all the cool stuffs this money can buy, maybe can quit that stinky job and retire early too. 

I always wonder (and is also guilty) as to why people would want to buy a lottery given the lousy odds of winner and the near sure odds of losing. If we look around us, we can easily see that people usually dislike uncertainty and perfer certainty. Be it in their lives, religion, career and insurance!!! (infamous to some people I guess) etc, that people feel comfortable knowing things for certain (i.e. no unexpected surprises). 

So it is very interesting why people would buy lottery and risk lossing their hard earn cash for certain in exchange for the uncertain result of winning the lottery. My only guess (due to my economic studies) is that the individual's utility curve (i.e. their happiness curve) is tangent to the price they pay for the lottery and the potential win-fall, such that the price to pay is small (even if it means losing 100% of the money) compared to the bigger  but uncertain "winning".

This leads to a sudden thought, I wonder if I can use the lottery as a form of meditation object. In S'pore, the minimum bet is $1 for the TOTO so this is why I call this article "The $1 Meditation" as one need to pay $1 (which is the minimum bet) first to engage in this execise. The act of buying the ticket will (I hope) create a mental condition or an interest in your mind to wise that you win the lottery, these will hopefully set off many interesting mental formation (this is where the fun begin).

In Buddhism we believe that there are 3 roots of evil (Greed, Hatred and Delusion) in life. That is why I think the lottery will be useful in the following ways:

1) Greed: Think about all the good / nice things that the sole winning price can buy. Watch the mind create all sort of funny stuff and do not interfer in this process, just watch and observe. To make it more interesting, now think about the stuff that the winning is not enough to buy e.g. a landed property etc.

2) Hatred: Think about some other people winning the sole price. Watch the mind become very critical about this person and the storyline the mind create, it will be very interesting.

3) Delusion: If one is mindful enough, one will realised that all those thoughts are just delusion of the mind but the emotion and feeling that arises are so real that one is often carry away.

If one is not mindful one will be carry away by emotion and thoughts. But if one is mindful, one will guard their mind against those thing and it is a very interesting mind execise to watch and observe. Such practice will prove useful in daily lives.

So these are just some random thoughts that arises in me and I am thinking it will be fun to try it out and watch how the mind will react, what sort of stories the mind will make up :D

Mindfulness – the door to daily self-discovery


“The Buddha calls his Dhamma ehipassiko, which means "Come and see for yourself." He invites inquirers to investigate his teaching, to examine it in the light of their own reason and intelligence, and to gain confirmation of its truth for themselves. The Dhamma is said to be paccattam veditabbo viññuhi, "to be personally understood by the wise," and this requires intelligence and sustained inquiry” (http://www.accesstoinsight.org/lib/authors/bodhi/wheel433.html).

Venerable Thubten Chodron advised us to be thankful to our enemy as they are kinder that the Buddha in teaching us the Dhamma. Ajahn Brahm advised us to take all the events that happen to us (whether good or bad) as fertilizer for our practice. Most meditation retreats I went to have a constant theme, which is to be patience with irritability of the body and mind. Those teachings contributed to a self-discovery this morning.

While boarding the bus this morning a person blocked the way toward the back of the bus, I was irritated but managed to catch my emotion before it escalated to anger. During the journey I reflected what caused those unskilful emotion, I found out that I get anger when I am in a rush so the way to avoid anger is not to rush but it is not useful since there will be external events outside my control. I searched deeper and found that while rushing, irritation arises and it is this irritation to the situation that cause me to get angry. Since irritation is an internal formation, it is a better strategy to manage the internal since I have some level of control.

The discovery was interesting since I did not notice this link before, most of what I notice is the bigger emotion (e.g. anger, hatred, lust, aversion etc), I concluded that irritation may be too subtle and I am not mindful most of the time. In meditation, we are taught to be mindful with the coarse object first (e.g. the sensation of the body) since the mind may be too subtle. I use a mind-body connection technique that allows me to notice my emotion from the reaction of my body and I can “catch” my emotion most of the time. The interesting theory is that when a person gets familiar with mindfulness they will come a time when subtle emotion or thoughts are noticeable before, during and after they arises.

I asked myself further:
1) Does an emotion lead to another emotion? If yes, what is the link?
2) Does emotions come together and feed on each other, resulting in a stronger emotional feeling / reaction?

From my experience I experienced that emotion does lead from one to another and emotion will come together and feed upon each other, at which time a person is loss in thoughts and filled with many emotion, they will likely be creating story-line of what should or should not happen to them.

I made another interesting self-discovery at this point. I was thinking about point (1) when the Chinese character for irritation appeared in my mind, and I think the Chinese ancestors is really smart. Chinese language originated as a pictorial language, that is, the symbols are like picture. The Chinese word for irritation is fan () or zao (), both of those words is made up of the fire character and (in my view) another character that can be viewed as a fluid source. (fire) (leaf), 燥 = 火(fire)+喿 (chirping of birds, i.e. Sound or noise), the ancestors might have thought that irritation will give rise to a fiery emotion. This makes me wonder if we can use languages as a way to explore the link between emotions.

Well, those are the two things I learn about my mind today. In the end the Buddha can only show the way, we have to walk the path and realised the fruits ourselves, so I invite you to ehipassiko.