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
Being Wrong the Right Way

Before we make genuine forgivable mistakes,
we should be thinking what we were doing was going to be right.
Any otherwise, making a mistake knowingly is making a real mistake!
It'll be something done in bad faith to oneself and others.
Who do you think you were bluffing anyway?
The first victim is yourself.

A case of an ostrich burying its head in the sand,
trying to believe harm out of sight is out of mind and unreal.
Yet as long as he is buried in the dark, he KNOWS he is bluffing himself.
Fundanmental delusion is simply the bluffing of oneself by oneself. reply

Zephie: Samsara is a romantic poignant song.
Sophie: Romantic my foot!
Zephie: We are here because we romance Samsara. It's a love-hate affair, a habit hard to break. But that's understandable- its the ultimate habit! The habit of loving and hating everything we encounter in Samsara itself. It is greed and hatred at play... coming from our ignorance. See? You didn't even know you were romancing Samsara! reply
Losing My Religion

Michael Stipe the monk-like skinhead singing the song in his inimitable voice- on TV now. Sounds drastic, seriously existentially disturbed... I refer to the words "Losing My Religion." Seems like nothing can be worse. But what is religion? It is something that holds us together, something that we hold on to- be it religious or not. It is our highest refuge. But I would like to see losing one's religion as ultimate freedom- the detachment from our greatest attachment and need. When we do not even need refuge anymore, we have become the objects of refuge. When we no longer need to venerate the Buddhas, that is the day we have become Buddhas. By the way, "Losing My Religion", not that I do it often, is the song I sing best at karaoke haha. Ironical that it has subtly become my religious anti-religion anthem. Last words of the song- "But that was just a dream. That was just a dream." reply

Zephie: You are one of the more fascinating characters I know- not sure exactly why yet.
Sophie: Precisely because you don't know me well- that's why you find me fascinating. Once you know me better, then... haha
Zephie: Hey! You could be Samsara talking as a person! Precisely because we do not know Samsara well- that's why we find it fascinating. Once you realise its dukkha (dissatisfactions), then... you want out! Haha! reply

Thursday, October 03, 2002

Should or Should Not?

Lynn came up with a way for answering the conscience that I found quite sound-
provided one know that the conscience always tells one to avoid evil
(deeds done from greed, hatred and ignorance) and do good
(deeds done from generosity, loving-kindness and wisdom).

Here's how it works-
If there is something that should be done and the thought keep recurring to you,
hesitate no more; just do it immediately.
If there is something that should not be done and the thought keep recurring to you,
hesitate no more; give it up immediately. reply

Wednesday, October 02, 2002


If you take care of
your karma,
your karma
will take care of you.

-Uen reply
Movie Dharma Review : Flatliners

Sypnosis from :

"Medical students begin to explore the realm of near death experiences (NDE), hoping for insights. Each has their heart stopped and is revived. They begin having flashes of walking nightmares from their childhood, reflecting sins they committed or had committed against them. The experiences continue to intensify, and they begin to be physically beaten by their visions as they try and go deeper into the death experience to find a cure."

Writing about this after seeing half of the rerun on TV just now. This movie is about the need to forgive others and ourselves, and to seek forgiveness- in time... so that we can let go and leave this life in peace. Four students return from their NDEs bringing back "old ghosts", personal demons- not in the physical but hallucinatory sense. It is said that in the process of dying, one's life flashes by, and whatever it is that we cannot let go will stick as our final images. These are our sources of strong attachment or aversion (including fear)- the stuff that keeps us bound to rebirth. The students realise that the cure for the hallucinations was to resolve their unfinished business- largely a matter of being repentant or forgiving oneself. The punishment they went through was self-inflicted, a result of the rudely awakened dormant conscience springing to life. It is not unlike oneself manifesting demons to exact punishment on ourselves when reborn in hell.

The Dharma message in this movie is clear to me. We do not have to experience NDEs to resolve our inner demons. We can do it now. No, we should do it now. It is the best time. Waiting for death's descent to discover what our demons, and to face them in our last minutes, can be a most horrendous and heartbreaking experience! Just as the movie characters realised they had the second chance to put things right after returning to life, this very life we have now IS our second chance- after our previous life. Well, miss this chance and you'll have another second chance, again and again- till you get things right, till Enlightenment! So the question is- Why not get it over with as soon as possible? Samsara is a school not fun to be retained in- learn the Dharma well, apply it well and graduate to Nirvana! reply
Rash Rush

Just as mysteriously as an inexplicable rash appeared on my hands,
and persisted for 3 weeks, it mysteriously disappeared.
Inexplicable, yet there is a reason for everything.
Reddish patches like blotches of bad karma that surfaced.
Makes me wonder what other forms of bad karma blotches I have coming.
Will they be big? It's all very humbling indeed. reply
Reply 1 : Hellfire

Karl: But sometimes life is so hellish, that I don't see why it shouldn't be ended! Even if it means going to hell!
Zeph: If life comes to feel like an ultimate hell, then why go through the hassle of killing yourself to go to another hell? Bear with it! Whatever comes, be it hell or not, will come to pass! Remember your second worse experience to this? If you'd been through it okay, why not this time round too? You might be trained enough already! If not, this is training! As Shunryu Suzuki Roshi said, "Hell is not punishment; it is training."

Buddhism states that committment of suicide is a highway to hell-
since the person will die in an incredibly negative state of mind,
while bearing the ill karma of taking precious human life.

"When you are cultivating the Way and a demonic state appears,
if you are the slightest bit not in accord with proper knowledge and views,
you will be caught up in deviant views."

-Venerable Master Hsuan Hua

"If you are not online now,
you are offline now!"


If you are not online now as you read this, you are offline.
There is no two way about it!
Either you are on the Eightfold path or not.
Not taking care of one or a few aspects of the path
means you are already off-track- not "somewhat" on track! reply
Wrong Side

SMS Dialogue:

Sophie: Damn it! The taxis are always on the wrong side of the road!
Zephie: Funny! If this is so, it means you are the one on the wrong side! Haha.
Shiqin: There is no wrong or right side! A cab driver with an empty car who sees a customer on the other side thinks he himself is on the wrong side! If you go to the other side and miss a cab on your original side, does it mean the side you thought was wrong is right?
Sophie: Exactly! I crossed the road twice but the taxis are always on the other side!
Zephie: Haha... a case of karmic conditions ripening to present "the grass being greener on the other side!" reply

Tuesday, October 01, 2002

Happy Ending

Sophie: I only read books with happy endings.
Zephie: We will all become Buddhas. That is the happy ending.
Most writers don't know that but we do- so we can read any book happily!
Sophie: Yes! That's the happy ending we can all look forward to if we work hard :> reply
Hair, There, Everywhere

Sophie: Darn! Another white hair!
Zephie: I have stubble blues. Don't like to shave. White hair,
facial hair, this is Samsara after all!
Sophie: Haha. That almost made me feel better. reply
Wake Up Your Obnoxious Colleague

Some simple advice for simple people problem at work:

Tell him nicely it isn't good for him to bug people.
Maybe he don't know.
Talk to him slowly, mindfully.
Do it with compassion.
It will jolt him to his senses if he is not too dense! reply
All My Fault

It's a sense of relief that it's always my fault-
there is absolutely no one out there to truly get me-
I can save all the energy from being angry to discover the real faults that lie in me.
No I won't use the energy to hate myself instead-
because that does not rid my faults-
I can use all the energy to love the world (which includes me) instead.

When I trip over my own feet-
and when I trip over something else,
it's never that thing's fault-
it's my carelessness.
And when someone comes to trip me over,
I must have done something to make him do so.
And if I can't remember,
it only means I was real careless, unmindful,
of what I'd done in this life,
or in a past one.

Likewise, for the person who tripped me,
it's entirely his own fault for becoming angry and expressing his anger.
As much as it is my fault to be tripped,
it is his to trip! reply

What is hot or cold?
Hot to a polar bear might be freezing to me.
Are the definitions of hot and cold fuzzy?
They are so fuzzy they don't really exist!
The same applies to all other dual definitions,
all of which are empty in nature by themselves. reply
Things Must Change

Was doing my personal life stock-taking about a week ago when I heard the following from Depeche Mode's old (second) album, "A Broken Frame". It is a coincidental idea to my stock-taking.

Things must change
We must rearrange them
Or we'll have to estrange them
All that I'm saying
The game's not worth playing
Over and over again

-The Sun & The Rainfall

Recurrent dream, haunting nightmare! Samsara- a game of eXistenZ! reply

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