Thursday, December 26, 2002

All the Time in the World

Suddenly, while taking a break on this day one afternoon, after hours of meditation on day one of a seven day retreat, there seems to be all the time in the world to attain Enlightenment. In fact, there is the feeling that there is too much time- too much for comfort. It is disturbing that the retreat feels too long in the first day. It really highlights two facts- that I have been procrastinating progress while being impatient at the same time. It's a paradox. Maybe I shouldn't be taking this break now, to think these thoughts and just do it and lose the illusion of time. Feeling the retreat to be too long also means I'm already longing to get back to worldly life. But here I am now. And all these nonsense about wanting out is nonsense indeed. This is none other than training- going against and thus breaking the grain of habit. Not the usual case of too much to do given too little time. Here at the retreat is the case of only one thing to do given ample time to have no excuses not to do it well. That one thing is to meditate well and to be as mindful as possible at all times. Feeling that I have too much time also means I find the sitting a drag. Back to basics- take and live one moment at a time. If there is indeed too much time in the world, I would be attaining Enlightenment by the fifth or sixth day? Er... not an impossibility... we'll see how haha. Or at least, I would have improved by leaps and bounds.

Whether in a retreat or not, we have all the time in the world . We have already taken countless lives with countless opportunities for retreats and regular practice. This is an admonition, not words of comfort- if you see what I mean. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Ryan- yes the toddler nephew, without fail howls and howls when his favourite kid tv show "Hi-5" goes into a commercial break. Mum would have to come around and comfort him, telling him in words he doesn't understand that it's ok, that "Hi-5 will return shortly after these messages!" This show is on form Monday to Friday and he still doesn't realise the behavioural pattern he has fallen trap to. But, we might say, "Hey! He's just a kid for goodness' sake!" Ok... if so, then what excuses do we have? How many times have we lamented at a temporal dismal situation, forgetting that the sunshine will come after the rain? How many times have we got carried away by temporal "happy" occasions, forgetting that the rain will come after the sunshine? The trick to be happy most of the time is to make peace with both the sunshine and the rain. I'm waiting to see Ryan smile at TV commercials haha. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Imprints & Impact

I used to keep hearing fellow Buddhists talking about creating positive karmic imprints with the Triple Gem. That's fine. But the disturbing part is I don't hear much beyond that. Let's not stop at creating imprints and create impact! Let's not stop at planting seeds of Enlightenment and nurture the fruits of Enlightenment! A seed that does not bear fruit is well, for lack of a better word, fruitless! JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Sunday, December 22, 2002


Feeling feverish from a relapse of my assumed begone for good fever. I can't even tell for sure if it's a relapse- it might be a brand new bout of fever that struck. I kept teling Lynn that doing stuff like bathing to lower my temperature was only a temporary measure- creating an illusion of the fever subsiding. She measured my temperature regularly and I kept saying, "It's not real!" Then it hit me that we never truly recover as long as we are in Samsara. Illness will strike again and again before we die- again and again. All states of wellness in Samsara are illusory; true wellness is Nirvana- void of the three poisons of greed, hatred and delusion that bring about trouble in mind and body. Come to think of it, "rebirth" is synonymous to "relapse". JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Friday, December 20, 2002

Cure for Pain in Sitting Meditation

How to deal with physical pain, such as that in the crossed legs, during sitting meditation on the floor? Here are 2 methods I discovered. They seem to be opposite remedies but they both work similarly using mindfulness.

1. Don't "Care" about the Pain

Keep your mindfulness on your original object of meditation. The mind can only be in one "place" at one time. The fact that you are feeling the pain means your mindfulness has been drifting off from the object of meditation to the pain again and again, toggling to and fro. What the mind does not "mind", it does not mind- and the body will not feel it. In fact, if you do your meditation well, you should not even feel your body (if the object of meditation is not of the body).

2. "Care" about the Pain

Watch the pain mindfully... till it disappears. It will be surprisingly faster than you thought it would be. The pain will disappear because all feelings, physical and mental rise and fall. But in watching the pain, do not magnify it with your imagination. Just see it clearly and accept is as it is. It is amazing how easily mental acceptance creates physical peace.

I recommend the first method if you do not wish to shift mindfulness away from the original object of meditation in the first place. But it can be intriguing to see the moment the pain dissipates in the light of mindfulness. Did you experience the disappearance of your last headache? Probably not- but it definitely did disappear- or you would still be having that headache now! The second method also happens to train our patience and increase our ability to stand physical discomfort. Real tolerance is not having the thought of tolerating. Just be. Just accept, and watch. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Sweeping Leaves

Some of us were sweeping the temple yard in the morning where there is a Bodhi tree. It took quite some effort as some of the leaves were stuck to the wet cement ground. Anyway, the wind just blew by this afternoon and rustled the tree... And there we have it, leaves for our morning chore tomorrow. Here's my much rendered version of a Zen story inspired by the above-

Disciple: Why do we keep sweeping the leaves?
Master: Because they keep falling.

Disciple: Why don't we chop the tree instead?
Master: Why don't you chop your impatience and laziness instead?

Disciple: But it's really a waste of time and effort!
Master: See your impatience and laziness rising now? Sweeping the leaves is thus not so simple- it is sweeping away your impatience and laziness.

Disciple: But... it's such a mundane repetitive task.
Master: Mundane tasks can be done mundanely. Spiritual practice is doing mundane tasks spiritually. Isn't it an exercise for training patience, effort, mindfulness... Do not separate your tasks into the mundane and spiritual. Enlightenment can be attained while doing any task. How well we take up and handle the mundane is the measure of how far we have transcended them while perfecting them. Be thankful there are enough so-called mundane tasks for you to actively practise and measure your spirituality! JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Letting Desires Rise

While many of us might know that we have the choice of not following our desires, we might not be aware that we also have the choice of not letting desires arise. Enlightenment is attained not by not following our desires; but by being able to permanently stop desire from arising in the first place. This is the part of the practice of Right Effort in the Noble Eightfold Path- not allowing unwholesome thoughts from arising. We think we are passive observers of desires that rise and fall when we are in fact unmindful active producers of these very desires. We are victims who victimise ourselves! JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

So many "realisations" I meant to write forgotten. Right now, I can't seem to recall a good lesson I learnt this morning. I cannot say there is no attachment involved. But I do know I record them to share with others. Nope- this still renders it an attachment- but one more spiritually legitimate? Slightly maybe yes- but remember that no attachment is ever totally legitimate in the name of Enlightenment. Maybe I need a book-burning ritual, or, in my case, a soft-copy deleting ritual for these stuff?

Uen just came by and gave me the "What's up?" look as I write this into my pocket notebook. And I replied, "Convolutions!" Hong shook his head when he saw me holding my notebook. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
She Loves Me, She Loves Me Not

If she really loves you, she'll let you go. And she'll want you to let her go too. For true love is freedom with no strings attached. On the other hand, if she doesn't love you, you're a fool to not let go of your attachment to her. Either way, whether she loves you or loves you not, a love that clings from either or both sides is imperfect. But a love that does not cling is already not worldly love! Worldly love is that which struggles and oscillates between holding on and letting go on both sides. This in fact, is what makes the courtship phase of playing hard-to-get, lovers' squabbles and of the like "intriguing"! This is the nature of Samsara- always an interplay of duality. Holding on and letting go; attachment and aversion; love and hate; life and death.

At first, it seems interesting- the stuff romances are made of. But if you were to delve deeply enough into the actual experiences repetitively, it becomes overwhelmingly sickening, nauseating- a merry-go-round that went too many rounds. When you want out, that is the thought of renunication, of letting go. Thankfully, the process of getting off the unmerry-go-round is more interesting than riding it. Am not asking you to renounce your worldly love- but reminding you that good love leads to unbinding, not more binding.JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Repetition (1)

There are a whole bunch of experiences that we have to repeat in order to survive- eat, sleep, shit (sorry if it sounds nasty, but that's a truly routine must of life) ... But I don't believe in deiberately repeating experiences if I can help it. Constant repetition of unnecessary experiences means we are most likely hooked on them. Addiction can be subtle. How often do we realise we are addicted to life? That's why we keep coming back life after life.

Spirituality can be a drug too. How then, you might ask, can we advance towards Enlightenment if we do not repeat our spiritual highs? (Here, I speak of "high" in a generic way- think of it as your highest "landmark achievement" in spiritual practice so far) Simple- go higher an higher, and transcend all! Enlightenment is attained when we have reached a spiritual high so high that we transcend to the other shore of Nirvana. Being hooked to your previous high, such as your most beautiful jhanic experience, will only bring you so high. In anticipation of repeating past highs, we lose greater heights. Remember that the Jhanas are only milestones or stepping stones to insight meditation.

A good lesson comes from the Buddha's previous 2 meditation teachers who got hooked to 2 of the highest planes of the formless jhanas and ended up reborn there for aeons, missing the Buddha's teaching. Highs can thus be tantalising but deadly traps in the guise of "true" attainmments. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Repetition (2)

Earlier, I mentioned about not liking to repeat high experiences. Likewise, I do not like to repeat low experiences. Does this means I have aversion to low experiences? Yes, of course. But when I say I do not like to repeat low experiences, it means I do not like to feel the routine arising of aversion over the same things. Any repetition means I have not grown out of that particular attachment yet (attachment to the experience being nasty- yes, attachment and aversion are two sides of the same coin that come together). We should go beyond duality altogether- highs and lows, and take things as they are without adding in the deluded complications of our feelings of like and dislike. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Thursday, December 19, 2002


The courage of the Buddha when He was still an ascetic, was in his resolute determination to discover the path to the end of suffering for all beings. I find it very brave because He was setting forth on the premise that there was a solution when there might be none. I mean, what if the puzzle of the suffering of life and death was a like a trick or faulty rubik cube with no solution? The Buddha was staking His entire life on the possibility of finding a solution. But it wasn't like any other gamble. It was the worthiest gamble... and boy, aren't we all glad He took the gamble and won the Truth! JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
The First Taxi

Lynn: I think I'll take the first taxi on this road. Seems unfair if I don't.
Zeph: But it's such a long road- where is the first taxi? Likewise, when we are waiting for a taxi on an open road and someone suddenly comes before you to flag one, we tend to think he cut queue- be it intentionally or not. But the question is- Is there a queue in the first place? If yes, where is it? Is the end of the queue always behind you and not in front? If there is a queue, maybe YOU cut queue!
Lynn: Okay! I'll take the first taxi- after the traffic light.
Zeph: Haha taking a reference point. Yup, first or last is relative. Much of our suffering comes from not realising we are fighting over the relative. Only with the attainment of the absolute (Nirvana) is there True Happiness. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Dessert Practice

Daily practice is the main course as it is a must.
So any other additional practice is dessert.
Dessert can never replace the main course.
But do not take dessert for granted as it enriches life.

-Lynn JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Reading Too Much Meaning

Sim told me that recently, he kept encountering certain persons here and there wherever he goes to. He asked me what I thought of it- whether it meant anything significant. I replied that he was reading too much into the chain of coincidences. Coincidences happen karmically by cause and effect and when a chain of coincidences happen, it simply means there was a chain of similar causes created in the past. There is no particular omen-like significance to it. I even remarked that reading speculative meaning into incidents unnecessarily is a thinking disease that should be done away with! In short, I was downright denying there was any special meaning in the coincidences.

Sim gave me a surprising rebuttal. He said that just as he was attached to the speculation that there was some special meaning, I was attached to the speculation that there was no special meaning! In both cases, we were reading some meaning into the coincidences. He was reading the meaning of some meaning, and I was reading the meaning of no meaning! Perhaps, when he asked for my thoughts in the first place, I should have maintained a Zen-like silence or gave him a Zen yell to snap him and myself out of all speculation! JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Whiling Away, Wasting Away

I see a girl on the train playing Gameboy furiously. Her phone rings and she puts the gameset aside and talks excitedly into the phone. When the call ended, she looked out of the window to check what station the train was at... before returning to the game. I wonder how often she does the gaming. Yes it might just be my perception, but she gives me the impression that she feels she has too much time to kill. Makes me think that she sees the phonecall, reaching her destination and such, as part of her real life and the gaps in between boring, to be whiled away with. She might be thinking she was cleverly making use of her spare time, when she could be mindlessly killing precious time. The gaps in between our busy tasks in life are just as real and important. These are the occasions where our minds can take a breather and reflect or meditate. These are precious moments not to be wasted away. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Special Bonus

What can be one of the worst case scenerio of constantly hanging on to a samsaric thought when alive? For instance, if you keep wanting love, and a car whizzes by and whams you in a case of hit-and-run on a deserted highway, your last thought might be, "Damn! This is so unfair! I have not experienced love yet!" This is enough to propel you to your next samsaric birth. It is thus advisable for us to hanker on as little attachments as we can when alive, especially strong ones.

We should see the fulfilment of all our attachments as bonuses. Yes, even love is a bonus. It is wiser to think of being loved as a bonus rather than a birthright. But it is a special bonus- you can always give this bonus to others without wanting any return of it. Like I said, it's a bonus- if your love is requitted, it's a bonus for you. What makes worldly love worldly is that it cannot stand the test of love being unrequitted- at least not for long. The Bodhisattvas are ones who love unconditionally- who give free love again and again despite it being unreciprocated. This is perfected love. Parental love sometimes resemble this love. But being unenlightened, imperfect parental love is often given without thought of wanting reciprocation, but given with the lack of wisdom. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Although "Karma" means intentional "Action", we should also remember that inaction is also an action, though a passive one. But inaction is also an active action in the sense that there is a moment during which we actively and intentionally choose to ignore something that can be done- be it out of good or evil. Thus, both passivity and pro-activity can have as much devastating and/or beneficial effects for oneself and/or others. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

While we should learn to see the goodness (non-cracks) in other cracked pots,
we should learn to see the "badness" in our own cracks.

In the end, it is self-reflection that will save each and every being.
We ourselves, have to self-reflect- for we are the cause for our salvation.
Others, have to self-reflect- for we can only be conditioning factors for their salvation.
Even when we hold up a mirror for others to see themselves, they have to look into it to see.JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
To Cherish All Life

"Buddhists who insist on vegetarianism have a simple and compelling argument to support their case. Eating meat encourages an industry that causes cruelty and death to millions of animals and a truly compassionate person would wish to mitigate (ie. to moderate (a quality or condition) in force or intensity; alleviate) all this suffering. By refusing to eat meat one can do just that."

-Roshi Philip Kapleau (To Cherish All Life) JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Samsara & Nirvana

"Happy is one who knows Samsara and Nirvana are not two".

-Milarepa, "Drinking the Mountain Stream"

As long as we see Samsara and Nirvana as dual conflicting opposites,
we will, if we are in Samsara too deep,
have attachment to Samsara and aversion for Nirvana.
If we yearn for Nirvana too much,
we will have attachment to Nirvana and aversion for Samsara.
And this duality of attachment and aversion is Samsara itself-
they have to be dissolved for Nirvana to be attained.
And when they are dissolved in Nirvana,
what conflict will Samsara have with Nirvana anymore? JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Wednesday, December 18, 2002

Purpose of Life

The purpose of life to the wise is not to simply fulfill an endless string of tasks big and small;
but to ensure this string leads to the spiritual fulfulment ot True Happiness of one and all.
The spirit this is done in is called Compassion
and the way it is done called Wisdom. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Cyberspace is Not Enough

If we have a window to the entire realm of multimedia cyberspace in our home, with all kinds of entertainment for the senses, and so much more to come with advances in virtual reality (I'm talking about the www and of the like), ... and yet have the capacity to feel bored at the same time, it suggests so clearly, that the fulfilment of True Happiness is not in space or cyberspace. I like this simple but true revelation- makes seeking Enlightenment so sensible. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

My toddler nephew of two came into my room and grabbed a pocket calendar lying on my desk. I grabbed the other end and he began brawling a spoilt-child brawl, as he tugged and tugged, while I was passively holding on with one hand while surfing with another. The calendar was crumpled but it didn't matter to me and we all know it can't truly matter to him. My Mum came along and coaxed me to give it to him. I refused, saying this is something he has to grow out of for him to grow up. It's good to let kids have a taste of the dissatisfaction that arises from not getting what one desires early- especially when what they want they don't need or deserve!

I managed to loose his grip on the calendar- as he went to a corner of my room, carrying on screaming away. I took out my Canon S45 and made a short clip of him crying. I then playbacked the clip at maximum volume to let him see and hear. He was surprised, puzzled and stopped crying. Throughout, I did not say a word. I was only being his mirror. He grabbed and I grabbed. He cried and I showed him his crying. Haha... sometimes self-reflection at our absurdity helps us snap out of our nonsense instantaneously. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Only just a minute ago, as Mum came into my room to close the windows, in the anticipation of a drizzle turning into a heavy shower, I realised that I took this long to get over any contempt for rain. "Foul" weather in terms of rain hardly fouls my mood anymore- despite it greying the skies, making me key this in grey light now. Somehow, over the years, I'd finally accepted it as something whose arrival I can't predict, as something neither good nor bad in itself. (Let's face it, while the rain might "spoil" the picnic in the park, the trees in the park need it!) Okay okay... congratulations then... But there's more to go. There's haze to learn feel equanimity to for example... JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Tuesday, December 17, 2002


Posessing the physically beautiful is not as good as being mentally beautiful (pure). True beauty is beyonf the physical. Anyway, it is spiritual beauty that leads to true physical beauty. Just look at the Buddha. Be careful! If you think you are beautiful physically and must be likewise mentally, it might not be so. Your physical beauty might be the fruit of past mental beauty. Not keeping your mind beautiful means your physical beauty will fade away in time. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Wednesday, December 11, 2002


Boss: I'm so busy! I have so many things to do!
Lynn: (looks at him in the eye) Just do one thing... (pauses) first.
Boss: Okay! JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

The thing is just like that la!...
It's just like that.

-Lynn JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Monday, December 02, 2002

Suffering Self

Sophie: It is the self who suffers. When there is no self, there is no suffering.
Zeph: And since there is actually no self, there is actually no suffering.
Sophie: I am still deluded, so there "is" self and the self is suffering.
Zeph: We do not suffer from having a self; we suffer from having the delusion of having a self. What is worse than attachment to "something" is attachment to illusion. But then again, nothing else in the universe is a definite unchanging "something." In the realization that everything is changing, including our "selves", we let go of everything and become totally free. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Top Priority

Enlightenment has to be your first priority for it to be attained. As long as your top priority isn't Enlightenment, you will not attain it. It is exactly because Enlightenment is probably just in our Top Ten To Do's list of important things, yet not positioned number one, that renders us unenlightened. We have to renounce the items of higher placings in our list of priorities in order to shift the priority of Enlightenment up. This can be as simple as giving up a not so important fun outing which we crave to enjoy... in order to dedicate more time to meditation or self-reflection. Let's face it, we are almost always inserting other new non-Enlightenment top priority items in our To Do List as fast as the previous ones are fulfilled. Yes, it is spiritual procrastination.

You can't attain Enlightenment while entertaining a single thought of samsara. A single drop of poison renders a whole glass of drinking water impure. As long as you do not consider advancing towards total mental purification, you will not become totally pure. This means that Enlightenment not only has to be the first priority in your life in order to attain it, it has to be the only! This is not to say spiritual progress is not possible as long as we do not place Enlightenment on top priority; but the final lap to Enlightenment requires the relinquishment of all other concerns or attachments. Think of it likened to a rocket needing to accelerate to the critical escape velocity in order to break free of our world's (Earth) gravitation. In relinquishment of everything holding it back, it wins the "freedom" of space, and escapes the grasp of an entire planet. Speaking in a parallel way, Enlightenment is the fruit of the relinquishment of "all worlds"- the letting go of our craving for existence, non-existence and sense pleasures.

When Enlightenment is your top priority, everything you do becomes nothing less than direct or supportive actions for aiding you to attain Enlightenment. Eating, for example, should no longer be out of craving; for the sole purpose of sustenance of the body as a necessary vehicle for attaining Enlightenment. This is part of the practice towards perfect wisdom. The additional task of the Bodhisattva is to help others realise the Dharma... including this very snippet of Dharma... which helps lead to Enlightenment. This is part of the practice towards perfect compassion. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

The only useful emotion is compassion.
Our only emotional need is compassion.

The only useful reason is wisdom.
Our only reasonable need is wisdom. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Sunday, December 01, 2002


Despite some "accuracies"- I believe in Anatta (Non-Self: Truth of the Constantly Changing Mind & Body) more than any typically generically casted horoscope-
that's why I'm Buddhist. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Is This Worthy of Publishing?

Hey you! Do u think the stuff in are publish-worthy? Almost 200 articles written in 1.5 months! i think it'll be a semi-funny book. Thinking of making it into a sort of diary book- need 366 articles haha. i dun think it will sell- cos need to understand basic Dharma to appreciate the articles. or maybe i can add a short intro of the main tenets of Buddhism. what do u think? maybe i fork out money to print for free distribution haha- no heartbreak from lack of buyers then. haha be honest- i know most likely u think the material is crappy! Reply
Karma Accounting

Lynn remarked that Karma is fair-
like accounts- the debit will always equal the credit.
Even when it seems impossible, something amiss, the balance sheet will always work out-
just ask any accountant! JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Samsara might seem exciting, a treat for the senses-
but it is not as interesting as the quest to transend it.
Of Time & Samsara

Time can heal only if we learn to let go in time.
Time will only increase our pain if we continue to be attached.

Samsara will lead to Nirvana if it motivates you to let it go.
Samsara will lead to deeper Samsara if you relish in it.
Who's the Boss?

Sometimes my Dept (in temple) folks call me boss. I remind them that the Buddha is the real boss. After some thought, sentient beings are our real bosses, and customers at the same time- We are here to serve them, not our human lay or venerable bosses, or even the Buddhas! Strive on with diligence! JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Physical Impurity?

Q: Please advise me about a doubt that I always wanted to clarify, as I am very interested to attend the workshop, but, being a female there is always some inconvinience.
My question is, what if before/during the duration of the workshop, we have menstruation can we still attend/complete the workshop. Whenever we pay respect at the temple, my mother-in-law used to ask me whether am I clean. Till today I always bear these words in mind.

A: There is no Buddhist precept or regulation that discourages participation in Buddhist activities or visiting Buddhist temples before or during menstruation. The origin of this thinking probably originated from the traditional Chinese mindset that menstruation implies impurity; it is not related to Buddhism.

In Buddhism, the Buddha emphasizes on the importance of purity of the mind, not body, since the mind is the source of our happiness and unhappiness. In fact, He taught us that the body is already naturally impure by itself due to its internal substances and processes. This is not to say that we should not treasure our body, but that we should not be attached to it. It is realising purity of the mind that will set us free and win us Enlightenment, which is none other than True Happiness. Do feel at ease and join the workshop :-] JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Classes of Wisdom

1st class wisdom- Knowledge through self-realised personal experience (similar to pacceka-buddhas)
2nd class wisdom- Knowledge through realisation by instruction by the Buddha (similar to arahants)
3rd class wisdom- Knowledge through realisation by instruction by sutras (similar to self-motivated practitioners)
4th class wisdom- Knowledge through realisation by instruction by commentators of sutras (similar to teacher-motivated practitioners)

Q: I am surprised at how computers work. when i use Cs wire to connect to my PC, there is error. Now I am using S's wire and i can access your email. Why is that so? this is beyond my understanding.....

A: About how computers work in quirky manners.... Well... let's just say there is still cause and effect at play, and in a day and age of "perfect machines", it is a fantasy to think that karma will not be able to reach us. Yup... karma is still meted through "perfect machines", delivered to us personally, be in by hanging or crashing or the like... humbling us, reminding us of our imperfect karma. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Psychic Powers

Hi! If a person is able to use psychic powers for good purposes, to help others and not for money and fame, is that good? I remember Mogallana used such powers to help the devotees see the 'true face' of a lady who pretended to bear the child of the Buddha, thus prventing a lot of confusion and unneccessary porblems.

If a person has psychic powers and uses one to help others out of love and compassion, doesn't that become a gift? Just like those gifted doctors who help others throught their skills etc (eg li3 shi2 zhen1), doesn't that make them like a Bodhisattva who helps others out of their suffering? Of course, that cannot be the ultimate goal, but i would like to think it is one of the methods to help relieve suffering from others....Just would like to share some thoughts :)

I agree but

Psychic powers and wonders are not to be revealed.
Anyone who reveals such powers openly is doing wrong.

-Vinaya Cullavagga 5.8.2

The monastic discipline prohibits display of psychic powers. The Buddha takes this very seriously. Monks can be expelled for doing so. This is because psychic powers attact a lot of blind followers. Even Devadatta had psychic powers- though he was evil. The Buddha wants people to be attracted to the Dharma for its goodness, not to psychic powers. So when you hear TRUE monks' stories of display of psychic powers to help people, they are

1. Usually not public displays
2. Usually shown to selected people who "need" psychic powers to be convinced of the teacher to humble them.
3. Usually used for life or death situations, with understanding of karma.
4. Usually "legends" or acidentally seen accounts
5. Usually displayed to people who already have enough wisdom.

The above also applies to the Buddha. So if a master uses psychic powers otherwise, they are in theory breaking an important precept. If a master displays psychic powers to awe someone, and does not comments on it, letting the person spread word of his power, it is also wrong. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Enlightenment or Fun

You want Enlightenment or fun?
Why do you think it has to be mutually exclusive or a compromising decision?
Seeking Enlightenment is fun when you do it properly!
It is the ultimate and final adventure!
Only spiritual practice done in a non-good-humoured way is not fun.
There is nothing more intriguing than discovering the emptiness of your self,
of discovering the secret behind the ultimate magic trick of the world- the illusory self. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

"I am not, I will not be.
I have not, I will not have."
That frightens all the childish
And extinguishes fear in the wise.

-Nagarjuna, "Precious Garland"

Conversely speaking....

"I am, I will be.
I have, I will have."
That delights all the childish
And brings no joy to the wise.

-Zeph JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Calling Fellow Dharma Bloggers!


have i asked you before? after knowing you have set up the blogspot corner (your, i have set up one also and thought whether it is possible to link up buddhist "blogspotters" and build an online community. cuz it acts like sort of a diary for some of us; if there are more like-minded buddhists around setting their blogspots, we can introduce or recommend sites and see if it becomes an interaction where we comment, comfort one another....

even if there is no interaction, at least we visit one another's webpage to read how other buddhists apply buddhism in their daily lives. just an idea. see if you have friends who may be interested.


Know other Dharma blogs? Interested in setting up a community? Hit Reply!
Most Important Event

Life's most important event is not the re-entry (rebirth)-
thus there is no real cause of celebration for re-birthdays;
Life's most important event is having a smooth departure, a happy "ending". JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Forgiveness & Letting Go

Forgiveness, letting go... These things are always double-sided. When we read such article on forgiveness, about letting go of our grievances of others' actions, we tend to put ourselves in the position of the poor person who is "wronged", who needs to forgive some "scum" who did us some injustice or who is prejudiced towards us.

But how often do we put ourselves the other way round? Have we done something unfair to others- that we need to ask forgiveness of? Sometimes we are the "scum" in question. What are we waiting for then? In the hope that our mistakes be forgotten in time? In the hope that workings of karma had skipped a beat in "registering" our misdeeds?

While we should readily forgive, we should let go of wanting an apology from those whom we feel should ask for our forgiveness. Forgive others even if they do not ask for your forgiveness. The first person you let off the hook is yourself, not the person in question.

If you trust the Dharma, trust karma. Water will find its way to the sea through a thousand crevices in the highest mountains- injustices will be levelled out. But this is not to say we should simply let nature run its course. The practising Bodhisattva's nature is to right wrongs best he can with his compassion and wisdom till he realizes his efforts are ineffective. Only then does he gives it a rest... in the hope that another inspired skillful means will come to mind to help rectify the situation. We sui1 yuan1 (let things be) ONLY after we have tried our best. When a Bodhisattva practises sui yuan in the moment, he does not give up the future potential of helping the same being.

In the inexact words of Venerable Cheng Yan, "Do not let others' mistakes punish yourself." Conversely, I would like to add, "Do not punish others with your mistakes."
Like i said, these things are double-edged.

"Real forgiveness is the letting go of having let go."
"Forgiveness is for giving (forgiving)- don't keep it, don't wait to let go."
-stonepeace JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Attending to the Sick

"He who attends on the sick, attends on me." said the Buddha.
But attending to the Buddha will not make us a Buddha-
it is attending to our "sick" mind, when we attend to the "sick", that will make us Buddhas.
In the mean time, we are only "sick" potential Buddhas wishing wellness.
When we are totally healed, purged of our three poisons, we realise the real meaning of well-being- becoming Buddhas. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Saturday, November 23, 2002

Die Another Day?

Zeph: Do not live to die another day- die now- kill the ego bit by bit and start truly living now.
Kay: Live today- don't wait till your dying day to live.
Zeph: We are dying now.
Kay: So are we dyingly living or livingly dying?
Zeph: Both.
Kay: So what about a living veg? Is it living or dying?
Zeph: Both.
Kay: Question commonly asked- How are you?
Answer- Dyingly livingly breathing.
Zeph: Yup- life and death are not different- two sides of the same coin.
Kay: An insight learnt. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Ego Trip

If it wasn't a selfless act,
it was probably a subtle ego trip. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
1 Moment

It only takes one moment to die. -Sophie JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Saturday, November 16, 2002

1 Precept

There is only one precept to keep.
That is to guard the mind.

-hong JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

How to be immeasurably happy?
Be happy of the happiness of immeasurable sentient beings.

Don't be infinitely sad-
of the immeasurable sadness of sentient beings-
for it doesn't help much.

Be immeasurably compassionate instead. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Tuesday, November 12, 2002

Almost Always

Sophie: You hold your views too strongly. You always think you are right.
Zeph: Not always! I must say I hold this view strongly! haha
Sophie: Almost always!
Zeph: Only if my view is true.
Sophie: That's what you think. At times we might not bother to correct you because we know you will not listen or accept.
Zeph: Then that is a wrong perception- I am open to discussion.
Sophie: See! you are doing it again- holding to your view.
Zeph: We are both deluded people with strong views on this issue!
Sophie: It is only your perception. Who is to decide who is right?
Zeph: Say the keyword- stubborn- when you catch me next time- then we'll see if I become closed-minded.
Sophie: You will only argue for your viewpoint until the cows come home.
Zeph: We are indeed both deluded people with strong views on this issue!
Sophie: How to give you feedback when your first reaction is that the other party is wrong without giving it deeper thought? Ask for that second or third opinion. And give it more thought.
Zeph: Okay. Either you or me or both are wrong to some extent- because we are not enlightened. I tend to think the third is true. What I mean is- we are not totally right in our perception- not that you or me are totally right or wrong. I will watch my mind carefully on this and please alert me too- that's what spiritual friends are for- right? :-] JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Friday Girl

A simple case of Mudita, appreciative joy.
When Friday comes,
I am reminded of the happiness of the Friday Girl,
who loves Fridays.
I smile and feel happy for her happiness.
I try not to imagine her blues from Monday to Thursday though.
But may she be well and happy everyday :-] JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Response to Response on "The Meaning of Life"

Thank you for your comments. Yes, the film could had been scripted better.

>Having seen your film, i feel that it is essentially dangerous to propagation the theory of "meaninglessness" and to push that the only meaning to life is to become Enlightened.

Although it states that "So the only truly meaningful thing to do is to get out of life and death- become enlightened!", it also states that, "It means you are essentially free to create any meaning in your life."

>Even though I do subscribe to the latter, some people might interprete the first and second part of the movie as they can do anything they want because meaning is something they can commission and rule, much like a god onto themselves. thereby cultivating a selfish approach to life.

Although it states that, "It means you are essentially free to create any meaning in your life.", it also states that "So the only truly meaningful thing to do is to get out of life and death- become enlightened!"

Thus, the film counters nihilism (meaninglessness and moral-lessness) with liberation and altruism (becoming enlightened). It is a sequential thinking process that leads the first to the latter point of view.
Dharma Cartoon: The Meaning of Life

Click for a perspective on our existential dilemma.

Annotated Script of "The Meaning of Life"

Scene 1

A: What is the meaning of life?
This is the primordial question we ask when we become spiritually conscious enough.

B: You should first ask, "What is the meaning of meaning?"
Before we pursue answers to our questions, we should always pursue to meaning of our questions.

A: Meaning means meaning!
If something means other things? What does "meaning" itself mean? Does it mean itself? In this sense, meaning means "self-essence" or "self-nature" which does not really exists since meaning is derived from interdependent relationships.

B: Then life is life!
Life is itself too, just as the universe is itself. This is the macro view of life on the whole, of dependent origination, interbeing. All aspects of life interlink in itself.

A: But what is life?
B: Life is what you experience now- the sun, the wind and the waves...
Life is none other whan what we experience through the six senses in the moment. It is not beyond what you cannot experience as that is not meaningful to you in the moment. This is the micro view of life for the individual.

Scene 2

A: What does all these stuff we experience in life mean then?
It is perhaps the blessing and curse of sentient beings to question and seek meaning, and to suffer due to unanswered questions!

B: First ask whether they intend to mean anything.
A: I don't think so.
Things that happen to us, that we experience are essentially natural effects from causes and conditions. They do not mean anything by themselves. For example, failing an exam or falling rain does not intend to spoil your day.

B: So meaning is created by us.
A: What does this mean?
B: Everything is meaningless till you put meaning into it.
Life is meaningless to the individual till he has found, or unless he seeks, meaningfulness. This imputation of meaning applies also to each and every act we do and our response to things that happens to us.

Scene 3

A: So life, the universe and everything are essentially meaningless!
Essentially meaningless in the sense that each being or thing has no intrinsic meaning or significance in itself, only on the relative level, in connection to other things.

B: Not necessarily a good or bad thing- if you see what I mean!
This truth is not necessarily a good or bad thing- it is just as it is- till we choose to take sides- which is not necessary too. However, as we are unenlightened, we will habitually take sides.

A: What does it mean to you?
B: It means you are essentially free to create any meaning in your life.
This means we have no moral or spiritual obligations- free to choose to believe what is good or evil, free to choose whether to purify ourselves. But the wise urges us to walk the Noble Eightfold path, as reflected in the following line in red.

A: But why do that, since life, and even death, are actually meaningless?
B: So the only truly meaningful thing to do is to get out of life and death- become enlightened!
Becoming enlightened here can refer to either the goal of self-liberation (Arahanthood) or the goal of liberation of all beings (Bodhisattvahood which leads to Buddhahood). Thus, the end of this film shows why it is perfectly rational to seek enlightenment, whether for oneself or all. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

"I" am a magic trick
that continually fools and amazes "myself." JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Wednesday, November 06, 2002

Letting Go

Yuan: Gor, I dreamt of grandpa last night, I don't remember wat it was about, but I miss him. I feel horrid, can't even get a grip on myself.
Gor: That was just a dream- he had to let go of life- now you have to let go of him... JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
4 Dharma Cartoon Movies

1. The Truth is In Here
2. Conquering Mountains
3. Sad Moon
4. Watch It JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Thursday, October 31, 2002

Uninventing the Wheel of the Chicken & Egg Question

(M)arshall: Which came first- the chicken or the egg?
(Z)eph: Neither- Your ignorance first- to ask such a question-
to not realise that it arose from ignorance
before the chicken and egg question- an ignorant question from the depths of your ignorance.
M: But isn't this the primodial original question?
Z: No. the primodial question is "Where did our ignorance come from?"
It is the source of our dissatisfactions, of all our unanswered questions.
But we are often too ignorant about the question to ask it, and even when we do, we are too ignorant to know the answer.
In fact, to know where ignorance comes from is the end of ignorance itself- it is Enlightenment.
M: What can we do then?
Z: Just move towards wisdom, towards Enlightenment-
don't stay where you are or move backwards towards ignorance by asking ignorant questions.
When approaching the pure light of wisdom, the darkness of ignorance disappears.
No one can understand ignorance with ignorance; but only with wisdom. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
The Noisy Silent Falling Tree

(Z)eph: If a tree falls in a forest and no one is there to hear it, is there a sound?
(M)arshall: I heard it while thinking about it.
Z: But I already said no one was there to hear it, why did you put yourself there?
M: ?...
Z: Try not to think of a pink elephant- can it be done?
M: When the first question was heard, the sound was heard- my mind moved.
Z: A sound is a sound only when you label it so with your thoughts-
otherwise, it is just meaningless air vibrations.
To understand yourself and the world, don't think about it-
silent your mind and observe without judgement.
This is meditation. The more silent you are, the more you hear, see.... naked reality.JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Living in Emptiness

(C)lyde: What is the appropriate way to live? Where should our heart and mind dwell?
(Z)eph: In emptiness.
C: What is emptiness?
Z: The truth that because everything mental and material is changing all the time (Anicca).
Hence, there is no substantial thing or self (Anatta).
C: How to live in emptiness?
Z: In the middle way.
C: How to live in the middle way?
Z: To avoid all physical (bodily) and mental (attitude/concept) extremes.
To treasure everything in the moment because it is only here for the moment, (changing from moment to moment) and
to be unattached to everything in the moment because it is only here for the moment.
C: How can we treasure without being attached? Sounds paradoxical and impossible.
Z: Does the Buddha treasure all sentient beings?
C: Of course! With His perfect all embracing Compassion.
Z: Was He attached to them in any way?
C: Not in the least.
Z: That is treasuring without attaching.
This is living in emptiness with Compassion and Wisdom-
without which, you are no different from a piece of rock,
which also dwells in the same emptiness as every other thing and person in the universe,
whether it realises it or not, whether you realise it or not.
The difference is knowing and seeing this universal emptiness and living in it. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

The problem is not the splinter in your flesh
but that you are a splinter in the flesh of the body of the universe.

As long as you do not rid yourself of the splinter of your "self",
of your delusion that you are separate from the universe,
you will be as you envision,
separate, stinking like a splinter everywhere you go,
causing suffering to yourself,
and the universe.

When the self moves,
the splinter twitches.
What pain!

Dissolve the splinter.
Realise non-self.
Be one with the universe,
be free. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Monday, October 28, 2002


It is terrible to desire and not possess,
and terrible to possess and not desire.

-W.B. Yeats (The Letters of W.B. Yeats)

It is terrible to desire-
because what we think we truly desire changes.
And what we truly need is to be beyond desire.
It is terrible to possess-
because what we think we possess for good changes into what we do not desire.

-Zeph (A Buddhist's Journal)JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Waking Up in the Dark

Day in and out, my toddler nephew takes his afternoon nap in the bedroom. He would wake up at dusk, when the sunlight streaking in the thinly curtained window is almost no more. He wakes with a start, and wails miserably, as if the end of the world was here. He would scream and scream despite there being light beyond the open door, which he can walk towards... till my babysittting Mum comes to scoop him up, and comfort him. And when that is done, he stops crying as suddenly as he started.

I think it is an existential crisis kind of thing. I can imagine his recurrent "nightmare" of waking up in the dark, not remembering how he got there, smack in the middle of the the "dark night of the soul", of life itself, not knowing where is refuge. He will grow out of it in time, this I know. But is it good news or not? I think we have forgotten this form of early existential crisis, which many of us inevitably went through. In getting used to it, we stopped questioning. We accept the coming of night just like we accept the "promise" of a new day. We even manage to fool ourselves that impending death is no big deal, shelving it at the back of our mind. We become blind to the horror that is to come. Is our spiritual quest, which we hardly embarked upon since we were toddlers, already ended?

I did not laugh at his silliness when I heard him cry, I frowned empatically. Let us rediscover our original existential crisis- What are we doing here, experiencing life day in and day out, night in and night out? What should we really do before the day of life finally fades out? JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Saturday, October 26, 2002

Motivation & Consequences

Something I sent in a work email today:

We have to watch both our motivations and their consequences.
Good or bad motivations with bad consequences should be cut.
I think this should be the gauge.

This is paradoxical- how can a good motivation have bad consequences?
It happens when we think we are wise and compassionate enough, but are not so.
We can only learn from experience.

But of course, whether certain consequences are good or bad is another question.
We can only be as sure as we are sure in the moment.

This means we should always work towards becoming more and more truly sure-
this is walking the path to Enlightenment.
This is what Enlightenment is about-
to become sure,
to become in sync with truth, reality. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Movies & Sex

It is amazing how tiresome wanting to see Red Dragon (the movie), and to get it over with is- craving haha- it better be good, though we already know the happiness will only last so long- 2 hours? It is like wanting sex- each time we hope it better be good but the orgasm can only last so long- I mean, so short.. you know what I mean. This is so samsara haha- existence with short interludes of conditioned happiness. But's it's ok- makes me want liberation. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Sad Moon

Syn: Saw the moon? Beautiful circle but the colour is so sad.
Sil: Saddens me that you find it sad.
Syn: And how does the moon feel about us, I wonder, if it can feel?
Sil: Romantic fools I guess. We put too much feeling into something so natural. The moon's shine implies nothing yet we implicate ourselves. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Looking for Love

Slen: Am I looking for love? More of a soulmate I think.
Stan: You got it- that's why I always ask what is the difference between lovers and good friends- a good friend is good enough.
Slen: I have always got it. It's just that we differ in some expectations.
Stan: How are your expectations not that of a lover? You are looking for the external embodiment of your happiness in a person which cannot exist- since true happiness is within yourself. Note that when we have a lover or friend who gives us happiness, it is only conditioned happiness- even when they give love unconditionally. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Be the Best

Slen: Be the best you can be. That's what I do.
Stan: But the best is yet to be; we can always be better now- effort is parodoxical.
Slen: We think we are trying our best but the truth is we can almost always be better.
Stan: Only the enlightened know our true limits; not us!
Slen: But what can we do? We can only be the best we THINK we can in the moment! THINK as enlightenedly as possible! JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply
Your Best Friend & Worst Enemy

Slen: Suo1 Po1 Zhi1 Da4, Zhi1 Ji1 Nan1 Xun1 (Samsara is this big, but a true friend/ soulmate is hard to find)
Stan: Read Zhi1 Ji1 as Zi1 Ji1 (oneself)- new meaning haha- Samsara is this big, and oneself is hard to find. Real Zhi1 Ji1 is yourself- who is non-self.
Slen: Ya. So far I am my best friend.
Stan: You are also your worst enemy. JoinMailingList4LatestUpdates/Reply

Thursday, October 17, 2002


Stan: Every negative experience is the burning off of negative karma. May we be strong to brave it.
Slen: I know. I'm biding my time.
Stan: To bid without the thought of bidding and time is true bidding of time.
True abiding is not abiding anywhere- this is already freedom... from negative karma! reply

Tuesday, October 15, 2002

Instant Hit-&-Run Karma Might Get You

The serial shooter is male and...that's it.
Despite witnesses at latest shooting, their vague accounts leave police with few solid clues or insightful new leads.,4386,149581,00.html?

The ongoing phantom hit-and-run Washington sniper serial killer, who has killed nine, reminds us of a truth-
that death can be rude, sudden and seemingly inexplicably random and unfair.
I'm not condoning him, but it's a lot like life- it is nothing less than cold hard real life.
He thinks he is playing God- but he is at the mercy of his increasingly hellish negative karma.
As much as he is trigger-happy now, he will be unhappy- much more in fact.
He needn't be the hand that deals the hand of karma of death penalty,
for karma can find its way naturally without him.
Choosing to do so, he incurs bad karma for himself.

I used to think that the moment we are born,
there is a gun pointing at our head-
which can go off any time.
Suicide is just pulling the trigger by ourselves.
Murder is pulling others' triggers.
There is a price for pulling any trigger.

Sometimes, there is no apparent trigger-puller, but the gun goes off.
It is like being freakily struck by lightning out of the blue!
A chance in more than 60,000- but nevertheless a real chance-
and nothing happens by chance.
Karma is always meting out in exact measures;
accidents and misfires do not exist.

When our trigger is pulled by others, we are paying a heavy price for a forgotten karmic debt.
That is the scary part- we have forgotten, or chosen to forget our "bad" debts.
What will our next forced repayment be like should we not pay in time?
Every moment is payback time.
In every moment, we are getting our just deserts, while we create our future deserts.
Just avoid evil, do good and purify your mind best you can in the moment-
there is nothing else you can do about the gun at your head.
Instant hit-and-run karma might get you-
but you can always minimise your chances of getting hit.
Prayer for the Dying (All of Us)

An email to a friend who is waiting for test results for a terminal illness:

Dear Sheng (not his real name),

Consider the worst case possible-
and discover that it doesn't really matter...

We either leave this life knowing or unknowingly;
We either leave this life accidentally suddenly or gradually due to old age or illness.

There are only these two options.
And it is always better to know when,
or roughly know when we will leave,
so that we can take stock of our life in time.

Yet at the end of the day,
no one knows when we will leave,
as accidents can happen any time.

All we have is now to treasure.
Life is a fatal disease we all die of again and again.
Death is a fatal disease we all die of again and again..

Nirvana is the real cure.
Our 3 Poisons is the real disease.

The worst case possible
is to let this trouble you.

Shantideva taught-
If there is something you can do about it,
just do it-
there is no need to worry or fear.
If there is nothing you can do about it,
just accept it graciously as karma-
there is no need to worry or fear.

Your brother in the Dharma,
stan reply
Metta Pyramid Principle

Dear Slen,

One of the negative things about most love relationships is that when two "fall" in love, they begin to neglect most other friends. Another negative thing is that these friends also assume that these two new lovebirds will have no time for them. How worldly that is! According to the MPP- Metta Pyramid Principle (as patented by Stonepeace haha), the more you truly love someone, the more you should love others, as the Metta (Loving-kindness) overflows to others around us.

So Syn and I don't believe in not finding time for good friends. What I'm trying to say is we can hangout whenever you want (if I can make it)- just give me a call any time. No agenda needed- that's the definition of "hangout" haha.

Regards.Stan reply
Why I Love...

Stan: Here is why I love Syn.

1. She is the kindest and sincerest person I know
2. I like her voice
3. I like her smile and laugh
4. I like her serious look in her eyes
5. I like her simple cute handwriting
6. I like her honesty
7. I like her filial piety
8. I like her loyalty and helpfulness to friends
9. I like her chiding me for not doing what I should
10. I like her for liking me
11. I like the warmth of her hand
12. I like her pecks
13. I like her smell!
14. I like her cooking
15. I like her seriousness in learning the Dharma

Slen: Aww..... so sweet!!!
Stan: Hey! Does the list being long means I love her a lot? The thought struck me that this means my love is not unconditional? I love her because of at least 15 conditions! reply
Equality of the Sexes

Sophie: Although I am a feminist to a certain extent, I want to have my cake and still eat it. So I still expect a man to do the traditional opening of doors, pulling the chair routine. Haha....
Zeph: That's the problem- many feminists are not true "equalists"- they want to be given the advantages of being treated gentlemanly, while wanting to be treated "equally". Irony! By the way, I'm a spiritual (non-material) communist / "equalist". I believe the only way for all beings to be equal is to become Buddhas, transcend gender and all other crap. It will mean nothing less than the creation of a Pureland. As long as there are karmic differences, there is inequality, battles of the sexes, war... reply
For the Very First Time

We sat and watched
As the moon rose again
For the very first time.

-The Carnival Is Over (Dead Can Dance's "Into the Labyrinth" album)

Like a haiku, these words. The moon rose again, but we might be truly and fully seeing it only for the very first time. Something taken for granted transforms into magic. Like a case of "Zen mind, beginner's mind" as called by Shunryu Suzuki Roshi. Let me call it the virgin's experience. The true virgin is the eternal virgin, who experiences every experience as if for thr very first time- with body and mind pure, without preconceived ideas, without like or dislike.

"Like a virgin, touched for the very first time." -Madonna (Like a Virgin)

Touched in every sense of the word! reply
Real Life Koan

Saw a mosquito that looked like an Aedes mosquito in office. Together we were at a loss as to what to do. Should we swat it to prevent it from possibly bring Hepatitis to anyone? That would be taking the life of a creature with only a seven day lifespan. Or should we shoo it out to let "nature" take its own course? That could be condoning it's possible killing of other beings through spreading of disease (though few die of Hepatitis these days in the region). It was a living koan. We left the door open, and discussed about the dilemma randomly in the midst of work... till it faded from our minds. An interesting fact is that we were also leaving ourselves at risk! On hindsight, this is what I should have done- pray before the Buddha image on our office shrine and ask for a stroke of realisation to hit us as to do! When stuck in a life or death situation with limited wisdom, beseech the Buddha for help! reply
Reply 1 : Conquer

About "Conquer anger with lack of anger",
anger also means anger within yourself.
It doesn't mean you should be angry to someone who pisses you off,
who is not himself angry at you! reply
Reply 1 : Meaning

Zeph: Hey! No comments? How about trying to make this conversation funnier?
Sophie: Can't help it as I am a boring person. :P
Zeph: Hey if you boring, how come i find you interesting?
How come u can give me so much inspiration for writing?
Oh I know! It must be the wacko syndrome!
I find you interesting because I am. Haha.
But no la, you are not boring!
See what I mean? reply

Sunday, October 13, 2002

Reply 1 : Karma

Uen: I still like my quote better without the "if you" because it was intended as an urging to take care of your karma.
Whereas with the "if you" it becomes a statement of sequence only. Don't feel bad. :P
Zeph: So is the original like so..... "Take care of your karma and it will take care of you"?
Uen: Original quote- "Take care of your karma and let your karma take care of you."
Hehe. Dun bother to change or anything. Just comment for your digestion. reply
Does Your Love Get You Down?

Many puritan Buddhists think that any love relationship will be worldly, and that it will only bring the two people in the relationship further and further away from Enlightenment. This is not always true. Two lovers should be in a partnership of letting go, not holding on. Does this seem illogical? Why to have and to hold only to let go? I call it the "Siddhartha Syndrome." In the classic novella "Siddhartha" by Novel Literature Prize winner Herman Hesse, a truth seeker who happened to have the same lay name as the Buddha's, found the need to experience the depths of Samsara before realising the essence of Enlightenment. He fell in love with a prostitute, became a merchant, gambled, drunk... I intepret that the experience of deeply realising the First Noble Truth (that life is prevalent with dissatisfactions) was needed by him. Sometimes we need to hold on to something before we can let go of something. Sometimes we need to go in a circle to realise we were already where we should be.

No, please don't get me wrong- I'm not saying we need to go through deep shit in order to appreciate purity. But most people do need some negative experiences to drive themselves to work towards liberation. The less you need, the more fortunate you are! In the end we should not shun the world in disgust, but realise that Samsara and Nirvana are only relative as long as we hanker on both or either of them. What good does it do to deny your attachment to Samsara and boycott it in a fit of escapism, thinking of Nirvana when you are secretly dreaming of Samsara, especially of samsaric love?

I have a friend who yearns for love. He would very much like to be in love, though he knows there might be no one "for" him karmically. I can understand the quiet anguish in his heart. Should he feel complete in himself NOW? Or should he feel incomplete NOW? If it is the first, he would not "need" love anymore. If it is the latter, he will always be craving for love despite the possibility of not finding it. This itself is samsaric love! Even though there is no lover yet. How much more samsaric will it be when he really falls in love? I'm not saying stating the situation like a Zen koan to confuse you; only to state an example of the very substance Samsara is made of. No matter how paradoxical it is, our attaining of True Happiness lies in our ability to resolve it.

Thus, fall in love if you think you must- but transform your samsaric love to spiritual love in good time. Two spiritual lovers are to liberate each other from each other and everything else, not just embrace each other, only to weigh each other down and sink into the muck and mire of Samsara. Are you in love spiritually? Don't worry if you are already in a worldly relationship- any love relationship that continually strives to be spiritual is already a spiritual one! And any one that does not is Samsara itself. reply

Saturday, October 12, 2002

Why Bodhisattvas Work?

A friend asked me why Bodhisattvas work at helping all beings when each being has his own karma to resolve. The answer is simple- the dynamics of karma are such that the karma of individuals interact collectively too. Who is to say that one will not deserve the good karma of receiving assistance from someone else while one is experiencing bad karma? Karma is mixed, or rather, it alternates between the ripening of the good and bad kind very fast.

If you see someone drowning and decide that it is his karma to drown, and that he indeed drowns because you do not rescue him... well, you are right- it is indeed his bad karma to drown. But by your "active passivity" in helping him when you can, you have created for yourself the bad karma of letting someone die when you can do something to save him. If you are to save him instead, it is the fruition of his good karma amidst his bad. And you have planted the seeds of good karma in helping him.

The difference between us and the enlightened Bodhisattvas is that while we might hesitate whether to help someone due to uncertainty of the results, they are able to discern with perfect wisdom as to whether action or inaction is the best course of action to help someone. Perfect Compassion is a perfectly natural response; hesitation is the lack of wisdom- it is unnatural, the lack of the ease of the Bodhisattvas. When in doubt, listen to your heart- your Buddha-nature. So the answer to why the Bodhisattvas work is simple- it is only natural- answering the call of suffering beings is as natural as, pardon me for saying, answering the call of nature! reply
Who is Guanyin Pusa?

In "The Universal Gateway of Observer of the World's Sounds (Avalokiteshvara or Guanyin) Bodhisattva" (Chapter 25, Lotus Sutra "Pu1 Men1 Pin1"), The Buddha declared to Endless Intention Bodhisattva, "Good Man, If there are beings in a country who ought to gain the crossing over to liberation assisted by the person of a Buddha, by the person of the wife or daughter of an elder, community leader, government official, or..., he then manifests the body of such a wife or daughter... and speaks Dharma for their sakes. If there are those who ought to gain the crossing over to liberation through the person of a boy or a girl, he then manifests the body of a boy or a girl and speaks Dharma for their sakes... This Observer of the World's Sounds Bodhisattva has perfected meritorious qualities such as these whereby he employs all different sorts of forms and wanders to every region crossing beings over to liberation. Therefore, you should all single-mindedly make offerings to Observer of the World's Sounds Bodhisattva. In the midst of fear and urgent difficulty, this Observer of the World's Sounds Bodhisattva, Mahasattva is able to bestow fearlessness. Hence everyone in this Sahaa World calls him 'The Bestower of Fearlessness."

I find this very interesting. Because not only does it mean any man on the street can be a manifestation of Guanyin Bodhisattva, to me it also means any one of us can manifest into Guanyin when we are to emulate Him selflessly. reply
Love & Marriage

Shyai: My gran and ma are not very happily married. Is this a sign?

Shiqin: We all have our own karma to deal with. What makes you so sure yours will be the same as your family's? Then again, there is some common collective karma that binds family members together- that's why you are together as a family in the first place. But then again, we can all break free of karma since everything is dynamic. This very thought itself, of their "fate" as a "sign" might be a karmic obstacle to you wanting a relationship now. But you don't have to project your future based on your family's past history. We should learn from history and move on, not be hampered by it, and create our own "history."

Fate is in our hands; but for the unenlightened, it is not totally so- in the sense that we have yet to fully understand the workings of karma totally to take total control, to turn its negative tides. Thus, we might unwittingly suffer the payback of some bad karma, be it of individual or collective nature.

So what am I saying? The idea is to always get more enlightened- whether you want a relationship or not- in order to master your karma and life by doing the right things to deserve love. But the funny thing is the more enlightened you get, the less you might yearn for a love relationship. Either way is fine isn't it?

We should learn to be happy of whatever state we are in now, with or without a lover. For how can anyone ever rush love? It is a seed hidden in us. When the right conditions are present, love blossoms. Just be open, be happy... and the world will know you have a wonderful seed. That is good enough. We should think of love that comes to us as a bonus- every drop of rain that falls, every ray of sunlight that shines, on our seed of love. How blessed we will feel if we appreciate it with joy!

How lacking in love can we be, if we love more instead of wanting to be loved more? How much more lovely to others will we be if we are more loving than wanting to be loved? The only true way to attract true love is to be more loving. reply
The Missed Bus

It was a bus I never missed at the bus stop. Usually, there would be someone else flagging it. But that night, despite the normal sizable crowd there, no one flagged it... and there it went, whooshing by, as I stared in disbelief, too stunned to even run and flag it in time. It might seem hardly a big deal, but missing the bus left me in a state of shock and disappointment- not at the bus or the crowd, but at my realisation of my having taken the "fact" that I will "never" ever miss the bus too much for granted. For years, I had never missed this bus!

It was a timely, though rude awakening. I used to pride myself being able to deliver quality last minute work. This pride overflowed to my spiritual life, making me procrastinate regular practice. It developed into over-confidence; spiritual cockiness. If even a bus can be missed so easily, how much more easier it is to miss the final opportunity to position my mind well when dying! Practice makes perfect! Practise then! Miss not the last bus of life, and death. Do not take it for granted. reply

If we can see the uniqueness of each problematic situation from moment to moment,
there will be more ease, less fretting, and solutions will come easier.
Yes- Zen mind; beginner's mind.
This is not merely a mind exercise- every situation is indeed unique! reply
Carry On the Lamp of Truth

I recall I was hesitant when I was about to start a Dharma sharing project. I was unsure how far it would go, whether it will lead to substantial good. A friend reminded me the following... The Buddha started with only five disciples. That was more than two and a half millenia ago. They carried on the lamp of truth to more and more... such that the light of Dharma still reaches us today. Will you help to carry on the lamp of truth? reply
Mirror Effect

Two mirrors
reflect each other.

-Soiku Shigematsu, trans., A Zen Forest

What can two mirrors do by themselves-
other than reflect each other?


The dog yaps away at the dog in the mirror.
He sees an angry dog because it chose to be an angry dog.
He saw a dog that he thought deserved anger and gave it anger,
and it received anger in return.
This world is the macro-view of your heart. reply

A stone's peace is imaginary in your mind-
for neither does the stone know peace
or the lack of it.
This is the stone's true unassuming peace.
Nature is naturally at peace with itself-
even the wildest storm is fine by itself.

Once you know peace to be peace,
non-peacefulness will come.
Just be peace.

But you are not dead.
Stonepeace is not a gravestone's peace of "rest in peace."
You are not a stone-
you are a sentient being.
Be peace alive!
Share living peace! reply
Reply 1 : Touch

Slen: Haha...
Stan: Huh? that's it? Haha....? The girl laughs at the boy. Haha. The last 3 lines are most important. In case of misunderstanding, the last line "May you be true love" means "May you become synonymous with the essence of True Love." (May you be able to love truly!)
Slen: Ya I know la!
Stan: Finding true love is not as good as being able to love truly. "Touch" is the trickiest poem I wrote in a while. Haha. Read and understood from another way, it might seem like an unrequited love poem of tortured restraint. It can also be seen as a noble poem of platonic spiritual friendship. Haha. I think it brings out the essence of the conflict between worldly and spiritual love very well. reply
Do We Really Need Religion?

Do we really need religion?
Any person smart enough can figure out
that evil leads to suffering and does not lead to happiness (Avoid Evil),
that making others happy really makes oneself happy (Do Good),
that not being attached to happiness or anything (including delusion that there is a self, which is the source of all suffering) is true happiness (Purify the Mind),
that he will die happy without regret if he does the above best he can.

Well, on second thought, we still need the Buddhadharma- most of us aren't so smart afterall! Writing this only makes me realise that the Dharma is a natural teaching- something that someone smart enough, though rare, will realise by himself. reply
A Rationale for Vegetarianism

Hong discovered an ironical truth recently. Meat unseasoned is quite tasteless and in fact horrid- which is why it is marinated and spiced up. What we crave for is the texture and taste of seasoning with it. And the funny thing is much of the seasoning is vegetarian. We are fooling ourselves when we eat meat, thinking it is delicious, when it is the vegetables which already taste so good by themselves! If we seek Truth in everyday life, how can we not see this simple truth clearly? Why do we still cling to the choice of greed and delusion? And ignorance too, if we think in terms of the healthier diet. reply
Talking Dog

Jade: Hey! Something funny and strange happened! The day before, I dreamt of the temple dog Xiao Wang and you.
Zeph: So what happened?
Jade: I bumped into him and he said this to me, "Now you are here! Come back next week!"
Jade: I turned around in surprise to look for someone to witness him talking and saw you nearby. I yelled, "Hey! Look! Xiaowang's talking!" You replied, "Actually, if you think carefully, Xiaowang is not any different from us." I thought, "Wow! What was that about?" I couldn't find Xiao Wang. If you see him, please help me ask him what I can do for him.
Zeph: Haha ok :-] reply

San: Your book looks quite interesting- based on a quick flip.
Ston: Phew! Finally a book you like, Miss Hard-to-please!
San: Haha. Got high standards! I don't suffer fools gladly.
Ston: The wise suffer fools gladly when they have to. It is foolish to be unhappy with fools you can't escape from.
San: That's why I always try not to associate with fools and discard them readily. Haha.
Ston: Oh how lacking in compassion! Who to look after the fools if not the wise? Unless you are not wise- that makes you a fool? Haha.
San: Haha. Go ahead and "fool" around then. But it's not for me.
Ston: I am a fool you see! Haha. So no problem. But then again,

Conceiving so his foolishness
the fool is thereby wise,
while ‘fool’ is called that fool
conceited that he’s wise.


San: Haha. Compassionate fool.
Ston: Until I become a compassionate wise one, yes.

Not to associate with fools,
To associate with the wise,
And pay honour to those
who are worthy of honour,
This is the Highest Blessing.

-Mangala Sutta reply

Sophie: The temple uncle just crossed the road.
Zeph: Haha so what?
Sophie: Nothing. Just a funny coincidence :> (He bumped into them earlier at dinner.)
Zeph: It has no meaning.
Sophie: Haha. I wasn't looking for a meaning. Just stating a fact.
Zeph: Interesting... I will write on this.
Sophie: What's there to write about?
Zeph: Haha it will be an interesting article. (This is the article!)
Sophie: On second thought, I'm more chim (deep) that I realised. Haha.
Zeph: Gotcha! Don't think so much! That was what I did! I looked for meaningfulness in what I needn't. Now you are doing the same! Haha. It's also interesting that you found that coincidence funny too- where's the joke? Haha.
Sophie: There you go again- trying to find meaning in the unnecessary!
Zeph: It's a disease! reply

San: Oh what karma have we committed to deserve suffering through this hellish cage together... May this suffering come to an end soon...
Ston: Let us pray to be able to withstand Samsara with Compassion and Wisdom instead of having aversion for it. reply

Monday, October 07, 2002


Zeph: Why did you say you knew I was weird by looking at me?
Sophie: You have a certain wacko look. Whether right or wrong, it's my perception. Haha.
Zeph: I told a colleague I find Mee Siam (a Singaporean dish) strange, and she says its strange because I'm strange. So are you a wacko too? Haha.
Sophie: Haha. No. I'm very straightforwardly normal :p
Zeph: You don't get it- Mee Siam is strange because I am strange. And you see me wacko because you are wacko! Haha.
Sophie: LOL (Laugh Out Loud)
Zeph: Welcome onboard wacko! We are on the same boat. Birds of a feather flock for dinner. Haha.
(This SMS conversation took place after leaving for home after dinner.) reply
Sand & Stone

Sand is Stone in "particular" (as in "particle"),
and everything else particularly too-
for the entire universe's stuff
must allow it to exist
for it to exist.
In this sense too,
the entire universe is in a grain of sand.
Thus Moby sings, "We are all made of stars."

Everything is in everything.
Everything is in any one thing.
The Universe is everything.
We are the Universe.
Without you, the Universe isn't itself.

"To see a World in a Grain of Sand
And a Heaven in a Wild Flower,
Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand
And Eternity in an hour."

-William Blake's "Auguries of Innocence" opening stanza reply

Conquer anger
with lack of anger;
bad, with good;
stinginess, with generosity;
a liar, with truth.

-Dhammapada, 17, translated by Thanissaro Bhikkhu.

For if you are angry to the angry,
you are adding fuel to fire.
For if you are bad to the bad,
you aren't good yourself; things will not turn out good.
For if you are stingy with your generosity, you are just another miser.
For if you lie to a liar, you have forgotten that two wrongs do not make a right. reply

Chat on the movie "Baraka"

San: Yeah. You're easy to please and I'm a closet critic :p
Ston: The critical live in a critically situation of likes and dislikes. I like; You dislike. The monk in the scene ringing the bell seems equanimous- beyond like and dislike. By the way, Ron Fricke is also working on a sequel to Baraka entitled Samsara! reply
Joke's on You - Joke is You

Ston: Samsara is a joke we play on ourselves that fail to catch.
When we do, we shall smile gently like the Buddha, or grin and roar with laughter like Maitreya.
Star: Wow :-)
Ston: Haha reply

It's a question of lust
It's a question of trust
It's a question of not letting
What we've built up
Crumble to dust
It is all of these things and more
That keep us together

-A Question of Lust ("Black Celebration" by Depeche Mode:
The following is inspired by the above. It is dedicated to all lonely singles.

Stan: Just to let you know I offer the same care and concern of a lover as a friend- except that I don't touch you- it's true.
Slen: How to explain? Will not try because we'll never agree.
Stan: (breaks into a ballad)-

Oh pray tell me anyone,
for what is love
but friendship with a "deeper touch"?
A touch forbidden between friends because it taints.
Why then do we want the taint?

I can love you
and touch you
in your heart
in every way
but I will not touch you
in any other way...
And because of that,
I might never really touch you deeply enough.

Are we then lovers
or just good friends?

In love,
it is possible to have and to hold without tainting.
But is it impossible to love without holding?
Why not?
Because that would be mere friendship,
not love?

I offer you my love, my friendship,
a love that touches,
but does not touch.
I pray it is enough,
even though I know that to you,
it'll always lack the special touch.

Suddenly I realise,
I just want to be your Bodhisattva best I can.
Suddenly I realise,
I should be everyone's Bodhisattva best I can-
with the committment of True Love,
without strings attached,
without the need to touch,
with the true ability to touch.

Dear friend,
may you find True Love.
May you be True Love. reply

Friday, October 04, 2002

Your Favourite Song

When you find yourself singing a song with meaningless or anti-dharma lyrics,
you know your emotions are ruling over your rationality.
It is attachment to the tune despite the words.
What's your favourite song?
What are its words?
Does it sound happy or sad? reply
Getting the Film of Life Right

Why do you wipe the slate (clapperboard) clean for each take? Because it's a brand new take. With each take, are things getting better or worse? It doesn't matter- just give your best shot for each take, till the final take when it's perfect. The more diligent you are for each take, the less takes you will take.

You are the producer, the director and the actor... of the film of life. When the producer, the director and the actor is perfected, the film is perfected. And your movie becomes an inspirational classic- a true story of how a sentient being won Nirvana! A story of how a Buddha came to be. reply

Hopefully Somewhat Enlightening & Entertaining Thoughts... Stuff discovered on the path to the natural unshakable peacefulness of a stone...